10 Minute Fixture Makeover

My BFF and I have been taking turns working at each others houses lately.  Lots of work that we want to get done so our yards can look #awesome all summer long and for years to come.

Today I found some beautiful lavender and thyme perennials at Costco for CHEAP and that sparked up the want to get some flower beds finished that have been sitting idle for the past 2 summers.  Dilemma – I needed a rototiller to break up the dirt again because it’s been rock hard for a long time so I called my BFF C to come over.  She’s always there for me when I need her plus whatever tools I don’t have she usually has and we tradesies each other’s labour and get our jobs done in half the time.  Our kids play amazing together too so that’s a bonus, it keeps them out of our hair while we work even if they make an entire garden into a mud pie sometimes.

We’re both very like-minded women, we know what we want and when we want something done we do it ourselves; it’s faster than waiting for the Farmer or her husband, the Welder, to help us and it saves them from having to do more work around the home.   She’s a beaut.  I’m so incredibly blessed.  (PS, check out the two creepers in the back of this pic haha, Volbeat brings them all out!)

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While I was waiting for her to show up so we could #dowork today, I decided to do a quick change up in our ensuite.  I’ve slowly been replacing things here and there: changing pictures around, hanging new vinyl, touching up paint, making everything new again.  My staircase collage from January has been inspiring me to redo all over this house so I’m making the most of it.

I grabbed a can of matte steel spray paint and some Edison bulbs today because I haven’t been able to find the right fixtures to change out the ones we had (I also love to upcycle anything and everything because it means less goes to the dump and ruins Mother Earth).

I took down the fixtures, cleaned them off, removed the glass and bulbs, plugged the sockets with rolled up paper towel and proceeded to spray them with the paint.  Turns out I had a faulty can and I currently look like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz but the fixtures look amazing so what do I care.  Once my hand was covered in paint I wasn’t stopping!

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I replaced the standard bulbs with Edison bulbs also.  If you don’t know what an Edison bulb is, it’s a really cool retro bulb with extra filaments that gives a room this incredibly warm and vintage feel.  The extra filaments throw light upwards and outwards and leave really neat patterns on the walls.  They come in lots of different shapes and filament patterns too – some even look like Christmas trees!  I’ll be seeing a lot more of these, especially when we get downstairs and start finishing our basement.

If you’re looking for an economical fix to change up the look and feel of a room in your home, try this before getting rid of your fixtures and buying all new ones.  For the cost of a $10 can of spray paint and some new bulbs (they’ll run you anywhere between $6 and $9 each depending on the style) you can have a next-level look with low-level wastage.  And that’s Canadian funds too so it’s even less for all my American shoppers out there.

And don’t be all “I’m gonna sue you, I electrocuted myself” on me, you need to use common sense and flip your breakers when you do this kind of work.  Be careful and cautious.

More coming soon in the DIY and outdoor gardening departments!  Now get out there and #dowork, Kim.

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Creativity: What Inspires You?

Because my work/life situation isn’t as conventional as most, I have the opportunity to use my surroundings a lot more than the majority of the population.  Although I have an office that I love to work in every day, I’m not chained to it and can shuffle between a few different spaces to maximize my grey cells.  Being able to have the freedom to choose where I’m working (even if it is just my bedroom, my garage, or my office) helps my creativity a great deal.  And since I work out of my home I can have my friends and family over whenever I’d like to host workshops for or bounce ideas off of.  Freedom – it’s an amazing catalyst for creativity.

For us, everything we need is right here because we’re a family unit of four; we all work together to achieve our goals.  For organizations with more employees, it’s a little more difficult to harbour a family-like environment in an office with walls of separation dividing everyone.  Until now.  In the early fall I was introduced to a company called WeWork, they’re huge proponents of “do what you love” and the basis of their company is to promote flexible, enriching environments for small and large businesses so resources are better utilized for entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and advancement.  They’re creating the family unit environment in offices in major cities all over the United States and Europe and organizations are knocking down their doors to get in on the action.

For entrepreneurs or freelancers that are only required to be in one place temporarily and don’t want to tie up funds with permanent office spaces, WeWork is the perfect solution.  They’re offices are accessible 24/7, they have a range of desk options to choose from as well as health benefit offers, and they co-brand with companies like Zipcar (the world’s largest car sharing company) and offer it to their customers at a reduced rate.  In a world where e-commuters are steadily on the rise, WeWork is an ideal solution for any business that requires flexibility.

All of my employees are four-legged so right now I’m not in need of these services but when I heard about it I loved the idea so much I had to share.   Just look around, maybe four walls isn’t what’s good for your business anymore.  Do you want to be inspired?  Maybe it’s time for you to leave it behind too.

Since I’ve been home and really embraced my role as the Farmer’s Wife, I’ve been working more and more towards my goals of live to work and not work to live just like WeWork does.  Living to work means loving what I’m doing and what I love is being creative.  And I’ve been told I don’t suck at it either.  I think it comes partly from genetics but partly from being able to look around and come up with more than one purpose in everything I see.

Example.  In the spring, I came across this old house.  It was abandoned but still had so much character.  The siding was painted red and all the doors and windows were intact (for the most part).  I’d guess it was built in the 1940’s or 1950’s, small a-frame with a quaint front stoop and 45 degree ceilings upstairs; I could just see a Farmer’s Wife from bygone days ringing a dinner bell on the porch.  I’ve always loved anything with character and antiquity that’s well-crafted so I wanted to save a little bit of this farm history.

We live in a small community so it wasn’t hard to track down the owner.  I found out the little house was scheduled to be demolished.  I would have loved to save it all but that was impossible so I asked if I could at least have the window frames and doors to repurpose and the owner agreed.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do with them yet but I just knew they had potential and I wanted to save them; there were many years left on their lives and I didn’t want a backhoe to cut them short.

The Farmer, Papa and I went there in June with crowbars and hammers and took them all out.  I brought them home and put them away because I wasn’t quite sure what projects I was going to make with them yet.  I spent most of the summer in the tractor but also was able to take in a lot of things in Alberta and BC on vacation.  I took in a lot of beauty and learned a lot of tricks that this fall I was ready to try out.

Antique Door

With mild difficulty, I brought the old door up to my garage workshop.  It’s solid wood and weighs around 80 pounds so it was a loooooong walk up here with it.  The backside of the door was discoloured from cigarette smoke and the outside was chipping, splintering and cracking from sun damage.  There was one broken window from an obvious “I forgot my key” incident, there were three extra holes drilled in it to house deadbolts and handles that were more burglar proof than the ones originally installed and both the escutcheon and original doorknob were MIA but I could not look past how beautiful the door was and just wanted to display it somewhere; I decided to turn it into a welcome sign and showcase it on our porch.

Welcome Door

 When I was in Radium for the car show this year, I stopped into a quaint, inviting shop in Invermere called The Painted Porch and met the owner, Teresa.  She was incredibly helpful and obliging and told me all about her secrets, techniques and tips for using chalk-style paint.  She repurposes and creates with anything and everything and also retails The FAT Paint Company – a Canadian born company out of New Westminster, BC that’s perfected chalk-style paint and come up with an amazing brand of their own.

I asked Teresa about shipping because I’d never seen or heard of FAT Paint in my area and although she does ship, she told me about Twila from Marmie’s Empty Nest in Camrose, AB.  I called her up when I got home and my BFF and I took a workshop from her at the beginning of October.  I came out of there with all the supplies I needed to transform my door into the vision I had in my head for it.

I started by sanding down the door and then washing it with hot water and vinegar.  I had to scrape a lot of old paint off the windows that had been there from any one of the white, blue, green, or grey paint jobs the door had gone through over time and when that was done I washed it all again.  I puttied the extra holes up so it looked as close as possible to it’s original condition and then I sanded once more.

After that, the fun part began.  I dry brushed the door in FAT Paint Bitter Chocolate and let it dry.  Then I sporadically added FAT Paint Tuscan Sun as an accent and finally, I painted the entire door in FAT Paint Parchment.  Once the last coat was dry, I started to sand it all back and expose the different colours.  FAT Paint is so versatile.  It can be painted onto virtually anything to give it a facelift and there’s a lot less prep work required than with regular paints and stains.  I didn’t need to strip the door of it’s many colourful layers, just sand it smooth and start painting!  The best part was that once I started to sand back the layers, the original white layer came through too adding one more dimension.

FAT Paint - Bitter Chocolate, Tuscan Sun and Parchment

Final touch was the doorknob and, of course, vinyl decals; I don’t do many projects that exclude WordPlay Designs.  I’ve been a consultant for almost 7 years now and I love it because it’s so versatile and can take any project from beautiful to AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL.  I added a custom “Home Sweet Home” graphic to the centre window and a personalized welcome greeting to the panel below the window.  The doorknob was a cool find from Winners a few months ago and adds a great finishing touch and then the entire piece was waxed with FAT Paint Natural.  

Welcome to the Ducherers'

After all that, all that was left was to get it onto the porch and set up the rest of my outdoor decorations.  There is no such thing as too many Christmas decorations at our house.  I love the spirit of this season so much, it warms my heart immensely.  The time I spend with our family and friends, the giving, the decorations, the music, the magic.

Christmas Porch

So there you have it.  An incredibly long post about creativity and how you can increase your creative juice flow.  I hope I’ve been able to inspire you a little bit whether it’s through DIY, upcycling or even corporately.  If any of this interests you, please check out the links embedded in the post.  They’re products I recommend and love to work with and I hope you will too!

Welcome Door

Christmas is upon us and what better time of year to take what’s around you and turn it into something meaningful and festive for the season?!  I wish you all happy creating and hope I’ve left you inspired.  Cheers!  Kim.

Nan and Pops’ Surprise MEGA-RENO

Anyone that knows me knows that my favourite movie of all time is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  Not only do I recite lines from it at the Christmas dinner table, I recite them in everyday speech all year long.

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This year I watched it three times back-to-back while I baked cookies and dog treats in the kitchen.  If you’ve ever seen the movie then you’d likely recognize Clark and Ellen Griswold’s bedroom – unmistakeable 80’s wallpaper, pink accents, lace curtains, and brass fixtures.

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This is Nan and Pops’ bedroom.  Although it doesn’t belong to the Griswold’s, it’s so similar you’d never know it wasn’t in the movie, the only thing missing are the pink striped bedsheets.

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It had wallpaper, pink accents, brass fixtures and even worse than lace curtains, it had VERTICALS TOO…BLECH.  Finally this year Nan said she was getting someone in to put some paint on instead and THANK THE DECO GODS because I couldn’t take much more of it.

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My parents are the best, the best.  THE.  BEST.  I wanted to show my gratitude for their never-ending generosity by saving them some dollars and doing this re-paint for them so I secretly started planning it all a month before they headed south and started hours after they drove out.

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While I was at it, I figured I might as well gut their closet and add some shoe shelves and a little more space.  How did I do that, you ask?  By knocking out the wall of the linen closet, of course (it’s the corner that juts out of the back of the closet in this picture making the closet an odd shape).

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After the closet went SEE YA! (it’s a good thing I start doing things before I fully think them through or I’d quit everything I think of starting) I had a mild anxiety attack but it subsided by the end of the day 2.  Bedsheets don’t trump shoes in the hierarchy of the closet anyway so I’m glad it’s gone.

The paint, wallpaper, fixtures, switches and plugs I could handle but the redo of the closet I definitely could not.  I hired the Farmer’s cousin’s fiance to help me out and he and his brother did a FANTASTIC  job.  If you need a closet reno, a new kitchen table or a super kickass canoe bookshelf you let me know and I will give you his information.  He doesn’t have a website or a company started up yet (but he will soon!) so you best hire him before he has a six month wait list.

The eldest Daughter was a super big help ripping off the old wallpaper too.  Her and her cousin, Little J, got right in there with me and got their hands dirty.  Kids are always so excited to destroy something, aren’t they?

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This was the easy part though, the backing took me almost 5 days to get off. I used 4L of vinegar, the hottest water I could stand in a kettle, a wallpaper steamer and I emptied out my roundup bottle and filled it with water because spraying water on was so much easier than sponging it on.  If you’re ever removing wallpaper, a spray bottle like this will be your BFF.

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Once the wallpaper was off, I got to start painting and the faster I got to painting, the faster I got to putting the furniture back and rearranging the room which meant FUN WAS COMING!  The main colour of the room is Basketry by Behr  and the closet is Brown Velvet by Valspar.  I also had to try and match up the gold colour in the hallway to repaint where the linen closet was and I got it almost spot on with Pyramid Gold by Behr.

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I’m so lucky Nan and Pops were so far away and there was no danger of them coming home for anything.  Could you imagine coming home to your bedroom SURPRISE looking like this?!  Insert scared, bug-eyed face here!

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Eventually it all came together as it should. Once the paint was on, the plugs and fixtures were changed out and a new ceiling fan went up.

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A fresh coat of paint and a a new shade and this lamp was transformed also.

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The closet shelving was finished and all the drywall put up to seal off the walls that were knocked down.  In the process we had to change the flooring in the closet as well so I chose a vintage looking laminate that resembled barn wood to go with the barn-style doors I built.

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Doors you built, you say?  YES!  I built these doors.  The door on their closet has been long gone forever and I always thought it was sort of silly being there anyway because you had to close it to get at what was behind it inside.  I started thinking a pocket door would be a great idea but that’s a lot of work to put in after the fact and the wall space on either side of the closet door wasn’t wide enough to house one pocket door, it would need to have two.  My idea was to build two sliding style barn doors that would meet in the center and close off the closet.

I bought 6 cedar decking boards, some PL400, garage door hardware, a sliding barn door track from my local farm store, a can of metallic black spray paint and I got to work.  The mitre saw and palm sander the Farmer gave me for Christmas came in super handy for my project too!

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I glued the boards together (three to a side) and secured them with ratchet straps overnight to make sure the glue would set.  While it was drying, I spray painted the track in a hammered metallic black. The next day, I sanded down the boards and any excess glue that seeped out and then I hand stained them with a rag.  I used Minwax Jacobean stain and 2 coats of wipe on polyurethane after letting the stain dry for 24 hours.  My very kind brother-in-law hung them for me and once they were up, I taped it off and painted the extra brackets also.

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 They turned out great, I was so pleased with the way it looked and just had to home Nan and Pops would be too.  Pops is really into antiques and vintage things like I am but the Nan likes more classic decor so I was a little worried about her.  As it turns out, they were both blown away and loved them as much as I did.

Next step was to refill the closet.  Everything went back in quite beautifully however, there will be some trips to Goodwill after I help Nan do a good closet purge.

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Now there was nothing left to do but start redecorating!  I ordered new grommet panels for the windows and a new duvet cover set for the bed from Amazon, vinyl wall art (and iron-on pillow art!) from WordPlay Designs and picked up two magnet boards from Ikea then went scavenging around the house and stole an area rug, a chair and ottoman, plants, vases, bookends and photographs and their whole room came together beautifully.

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It turned out amazing.  AH-MAZE-ING.  Every time I went over to check on the house while they were away I would go up there and sit for a few minutes because it was so relaxing to me; I loved being there surrounded by so many things they loved.  The only thing left for me to do was keep my cakehole zipped up until they got home!  I sat on it very well but the hardest part was actually keeping the Daughters’ from telling them about it on the phone.  Kids love leaking secrets as much as they love destroying wallpaper…

FINALLY on Wednesday night at 8:00pm they came home.  They showed up to our house first and not even 16 seconds after I finished telling the Daughters’ not to say anything and that we would go over to their house to show them the surprise, they blurted out “WE HAVE A SURPRISE FOR YOU!!!”  So off we went to their house.

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And they fell in love with their new room too.  THE END.  Almost.

Now, I am the QUEEN of surprises and I challenge anyone to surprise me like I can surprise you (but don’t rip my house apart because I love it mmmmkkkkay?!) but that’s not the end of the story.  Last night, Nan and Pops offered to take the Daughters for a sleepover so the Farmer and I went out for supper with the SIL and BIL.  When we came home, I saw this in the entryway:

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I immediately think to myself “hmmm, that’s a weird place for a piece of plastic, where did that come from?  Why would the Farmer have left it right there?  Silly Farmer, that’s dangerous.”  So I walk over and pick it up and I turn around to see this on my wall:

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Shit.  You got me.  It’s the most beautiful mirror MADE by Nan and Pops’ Arizona neighbour.  He collects old cowboy boots in his travels and takes them apart to make these treasures.  Him and his wife are wonderful and I love them dearly (like I love all their neighbours).  They told Nan and Pops they wanted us to have one because we showed such an interest when we were down there.  They’re the sweetest couple on the planet to give us this and I am so grateful to know them; my life is truly blessed.

I hope you enjoyed and are inspired by the DIY transformation.  The End (for real).  Kim.