Living in a city full of small spaces for big price tags has at times led me to scorn small-space living (remember my tiny bedroom, anyone?) but recently I’ve learned to value the unique challenges that frugal floor plans present. With the right furniture, some reseplace and an inventive, enterprising attitude, anyone can make even the most miniscule space into a cozy, uncluttered haven. No one knows that better, perhaps, than Jay Shafer, owner of an 89 square foot home, and founder of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Purveyor of adorable box bungalows, portable homes and cottages ranging in size from 65-837 square feet, the company specializes in small space living without skimping on style, detail or functionality. Perfect as (very) tiny weekend homes, the units also boast footprints small enough for use as guest houses on an existing property, or, my personal favorite, as free-standing office or studio spaces like the ones we’ve been dreaming about. How cute are these? — Sarah C.
We spent a lovely day in Charleston, SC last week, admiring its historic churchyards, cobble stoned streets and shuttered row houses. Little did we expect to find such a mod decor idea there. At Kaminsky‘s downtown, the smell of wafting french roast mixed with baking cupcakes, while our eyes soaked in the these clever wall coverings. From across the dining room, they had a undulating texture that cast soft shadows in the morning sun glow. On closer inspection, we realized that this expensive looking treatment was really just rows of wall trim. The moulding that most homes use around the base or in decorative accents was glued onto the walls row after row, in creating a texture that was both organic and organized. Replicating the same effect in your home would not be too difficult; the hard part might be deciding your level of commitment. If you glued them on, it would be impossible to remove without destroying the wall. Another option would be to drill them on, and then spackle over the holes before painting. We’re thinking it’d be fun in a small room (like a half bath) or perhaps on just an accent wall. The white color used in Kaminsky’s allowed the shadows to take center stage, but it also might be interesting in a pale clay or grey. If you’re ever in Charleston, but sure to stop by 78 N. Market Street for a piece of red velvet cake and a look around. – Angela M.
This post is sponsored by Lowe’s.
We firmly believe in being your own handyman. Whether it’s installing our own back splash tile in the kitchen, renovating our backyard deck or giving a staircase a ombre hue, we regularly roll-up our sleeves and tackle little projects all over our homes. Sometimes things go wrong. Paints drip on the floor. Tiles dry crookedly. Equipment gets rusty. We pull our hair out. No one is happy.
Luckily, there’s a little help to be found via Vine and these handy D.I.Y. videos produced by Lowe’s. The wonderful thing about Vine is that the videos are super short — 6 seconds! — and loop over and over. So if you miss something the first time, don’t sweat it, you can catch the second or third time around. Here are six cool tricks we learned from watching these Vines — though if you start playing around on the social network’s app you’ll find many, many more.
Six Handy Tricks We Learned From Lowe’s Vine Videos:
1. Potatoes aren’t just for dinner — or making crafty stamps! The next time you are dealing with a broken lightbulb in lamp, use a potato to unscrew it without risking a finger cut.
2. Rubber bands have many uses (besides being woven into colorful bracelets for grade-schoolers). You can use them to catch paint drips from a can, or twist out a stripped down screw.
3. For your next colorful paint project, don’t mess with a new paint tray for each color. Simply line your old ones in aluminum foil and reuse.
4. Take the guesswork out of picture hanging. A piece of tape can help measure the distance between holes and get things picture perfect.
5. You don’t need luck to make your tiles line up perfectly. Pennies placed in between the rows of tiles will do the trick until they dry nicely.
6. What could be more dull than a rusty knife? Dip your cutters in some lemon juice for 15 minutes and see how they shine.
Have you discovered any great DIY Vine videos? Let us know and we’ll feature them on Shelterrific!
A bathroom renovation has been on the agenda since the day escrow closed on our house. We’ve been doing what we can to fix our eyesore of a bath without any demolition: notably converting a traditional door into a mini french door to open up the space and swapping out a rickety towel rod for rope cleats that function as towel hooks. We’re itching to rip out the too-big toilet and cultured marble vanity — and yes, that is a sheet vinyl shower surround.
Finding the right fixtures has been a big hold up on our renovation process. We want something modern, but not TOO much so, as our house is mid-century — and the footprint needs to be small, as our bathroom is a tiny closet of sadness and despair. I know that finding a combination of size, look, and god-forbid functionality is a tall order from a bath fixture, but I’ve found all of these showers by Mira Showers. I’m absolutely swooning for the clean lines of the Mira Miniluxe ER. The exposed riser is a nod to the classic exposed plumbing often found in vintage homes, but with a decidedly more modern vibe. I’m torn between the Miniluxe and the minimalist luxury of the Mira Agile which would have the added bonus of a second hand-held shower head. Not only are both these choices visually attractive, but the showers from Mira Showers have a patented Magni-flo technology which will ensure a full deluge even at low pressure. And this lazy housekeeper won’t have to worry about limescale either, since the nozzles are designed to just rub clean.
We’ve already purchased the sink — after I wrote about it here way back in 2009. We just can’t pull the trigger on the darn faucet. I want a sturdy fixture that is 100% brass — but those can cost a hefty sum. I actually found a few options I like here and here — at Overstock, of all places. As for the toilet, after hours of measuring and internet review reading, I think we’re going with the Ariel Platinum Anna toilet, which has the smallest dimensions I’ve found. And in our lil’ loo, every inch matters.
What would you do with this little bathroom? We’re thinking white walls and subway tile, dark grout, and glossy black or dark gray floors. Clean, classic with a touch of modern — our goal is to open the space up and add some luxury to our modest bath!
This is a sponsored post.
The moment everyone’s been waiting for is here! The reveal of the final rooms in the Re-Energized by Design Competition is live, in a super-sized two parter. This time, the two remaining teams have TWICE the budget, a room full of LED lighting from GE Lighting, and a full range of gorgeous and energy efficient appliances from Frigidaire to pimp their room. We are REALLY going to see some major transformations happening here.
The GE LED lighting is available in many different “temperatures” of color, something that can dramatically affect in how things look in your kitchen. I experienced this first hand after I painted my own kitchen recently. I loved the paint color in daylight, but at night, the color looked awful. I switched out to a softer LED bulb (3000K) and it made ALL THE DIFFERENCE. And I won’t be needing to change the bulb (or the wall color, thankfully) for 25 years!
I really wish our team, the Bedford family, had made it to this final round. They could have really benefitted from those new Frigidare Gallery appliances — the ultra efficient induction range alone is a huge safety boost for families with young children (less burning risk). There’s no need to replace existing cookware, either — if a magnet sticks to the pan, it will work with induction. And a convection oven is a must-have for those of us who love to bake.
The Sayers, of course, did not disappoint in this challenge by using some unconventional materials to maximize their budget — and because they are obviously just cool like that. I loved their use of the salvaged steel chalkboard as a backsplash; and that mirror in the kitchen (though I wouldn’t want to be the one cleaning it) reminds me of my days as a culinary instructor, where we taught with a huge mirror over the butcher block. All this and surprisingly below budget!
The Reilly family has consistently been more traditional in their design choices, though I’ll admit I really liked what they did in the kitchen. Nothing wrong with the combination of white subway tile and dark grout, I always say. And the paint treatment on the cabinets? Spot On. No matter what team wins the grand prize, both these families have beautiful new kitchens to enjoy for years and years to come.
What do you think of the final room? Is it the Sayers family’s funky loft or the Reilly’s clean classic kitchen that should earn the $5000 grand prize? Watch and see who takes home the giant check below!
This is a sponsored post.
Even though our team is no longer in the running, it’s still fun to keep up with what’s going on in the Re-Energized By Design competition. This week, the remaining three teams made over their laundry rooms.
In addition to $500 and energy efficient lighting from GE, the homeowners each received an brand new set of Frigidaire Affinity laundry equipment. These are not your average high-efficiency washers & dryers — this is serious technology in action here. The Affinity dryer will dry a full load in less than 30 minutes, and the washer features allergen reduction and sanitizing features along with having the highest energy star rating. And aesthetically they please, too (though I have to wonder why no one picked the red option).
Love what those scrappy Sayers did in their space with that upcycled laundry drum light fixture. Their creative approach is always surprising, and will be tough to beat in the final round. In the end, the Mendes family’s pastel laundry room didn’t make the cut — that leaves the Sayers and the Reillys to duke it out in the kitchen challenge! who do you think will win?!
This is a sponsored post.
It’s that time again — time for the next challenge in the Re-Energized by Design competition! This week, the remaining four teams are making over the living room. The Bedford’s room is dramatic, with vaulted ceilings and a wall of windows (with some broken panes). I found the space overwhelmed by the arc lamp and the red brick fireplace, but not in a good way. Also — there was not a lot of lighting options. Reading was impossible on the couch unless it was daytime, and entertaining? Dim lights might be fine for a nightclub, but for a family-friendly party? Not so much. The stairs were just exposed plywood splattered with paint. Not much on the walls in regards to art, either. Their furniture was good though — a nice neutral modern sectional, and an heirloom mid-century lounge chair and dresser.
Rather than using bold bright colors on the walls, we went dark — Dark gray on that red brick fireplace. Instead of painting everything one color, we only painted two walls in the dark gray; and used a lighter gray on an accent wall and staircase, leaving the rest of the room white, allowing the space to feel more intimate and cozy without overwhelming the space with such a dark color. And next to the fireplace, Slade put in some nice open shelving painted to blend into the wall, styled with art and objects from around the house. We also broke up their sectional and reconfigured it, and flipped over their old rug for a more industrial look. Kristen also repainted their coffee table glossy black.
Kristen made some colorful decoupage art; and I (along with my uber-talented seamstress pal Suzanne) got to work on some accent pillows, a floor pouf, and the reupholstering of the mid-century lounger with a colorful new fabric. I thought the chair turned out gorgeous, going from something you barely noticed to something that can anchor a space on its own. If you know me, you know I had to work in some of my signature vintage orange velvet, too. But I’m honestly proudest of that pouf: my first sewing project in 4 years, made entirely by myself, with NO PATTERN. The boys instantly gravitated toward it. Liam declaring it “his dice”, proceeded to toss it around the room and jump all over it.
In the energy improvement category, the Bedfords did a lot as well to improve their usage. Slade installed (from scratch) a LED track lighting system that we hid behind the beam, so we could add light around the room on the bookcases, on the couch, and on the new art. We also swapped out LED bulbs for incandescent in the other lamps around the room, adding significantly more light to the space while reducing the wattage in half. Slade caulked all the windows and beams, helping to reduce heat loss. They also put their stereo and charging docks on a smart powerstrip, so they can reduce that energy loss when not in use. And if that wasn’t enough, they reduced their thermostat 3 degrees to produce a significant savings in energy usage.
Alas, it wasn’t enough for the judges, sadly. I loved our room — basically, I think it all came down to a matter of points. I wish we had more time on this room, we could have done so much more. My project checklist had about 10 more to-do’s left unchecked, believe it or not. Our fatal error was when our plans to make fabric roman shades for the windows became impossible; rather than the shade choice made, I wish we could have thrown up some cute no-sew curtains on tension rods. I think that could have made enough of a difference to get us into the next round. Twenty-twenty hindsight, I guess. Honestly, I’m proud we made it this far; a lot of which I should credit to the valiant efforts of Kristen and Slade. Our rooms were up against some pretty stiff competition from professional architects and designers, so our rag-tag team of DIY’ers made a good show!
Stick around for next week’s post, where
I bitterly tear apart the remaining contestant’s rooms with derisive judgements we see how the competition proceeds with the laundry room challenge! Who will get the chop next?
The back yard at my house has always been a bit of a problem. Well, a disaster, really. It’s cloaked in full shade, and I have two dogs, which means that when the rainy season hits, we’re dealing with a (probably) malaria-ridden swamp pit for most of the winter. It also means I spent much, much, much too much time with my Swiffer, cleaning up all those muddy paw prints.
Finally, I’d had enough – and this summer, we decided to pave over it. Except that paving over a yard is expensive, and tricky. So, we went cheap and opted to install landscaping gravel instead. I was actually really nervous about how this would turn out, but after spotting these photos in Sunset Magazine, I had to give it a try. I had visions of an awful urban jungle, devoid of color and personality, but the end result is so fantastic, I can’t believe we didn’t do it sooner. The whole project took one day, and was under $500 to complete (including labor!). The new yard is so incredibly liberating – no more mowing, seeding, digging around in piles of mud. And it’s much prettier than I imagined, even calming. The borders are edged with soil, so we can plant a few shade-friendly plants around the perimeter, and the rest is totally, 100% maintenance-free. I can hardly wait to throw an outdoor rug underneath my patio table (which can finally come out of storage), and have a little end-of-summer barbecue to celebrate! The only down side I can think of is that one of my dogs isn’t so crazy about walking on the gravel (you can see her scoping out the situation in that photo). But she’s coping, and my other dog loves being able to lay on the warm gravel in the sun…so I’m calling it a trade-off.
Have you ever considered eliminating the grass from your yard? –Becki S.
I love to eat pasta and vegetable salads in the summer, but I hate to steam up my kitchen to make them. It seems so counter-productive (when the AC has been working hard to keep things cool) to leave a boiling pot on the stove. But then a friend of mine told me a little secret to making pasta in the summer that saves a little heat â€“ turn the heat off once the water has come to a boil! This sounded pretty silly to me, but I thought I’d give it a try. Here’s what I did: brought 2 quarts of room-temperature water and a teaspoon of salt to a boil, added a box of medium-sized pasta shells, waited for the water to return to a boil then covered and turned off the heat. Ten minutes later I had perfect al dente pasta, with much-less-steamy kitchen! I would imagine this would work with most dried pastas (just add one minute of cooking time), but perhaps not fresh pasta where the rolling boil helps keep the noodles separated. Regardless, there’s a rotini and grilled vegetable pasta in my future. Give it a try! — Rebecca F.
Photo credit: Rebecca Firlik.
I don’t know about you guys, but this summer is kicking my butt. It’s hot in Chicago and, as the season marches on, the mercury continues to rise. Sure, I could spend all day in the air conditioned bliss of the movie theaters, but, eventually, I’ll have to venture out to the hot, steamy streets. I only wish I had some of this futuristic cooling foam from Japan. Hokkyoku Monogatari translates to “Tales of the North Pole” (hence the cartoon polar bear on the can) and is a foam that turns pliable and mold-able when sprayed. It acts as an ice pack and provides a five minute cool down- perfect for quick jaunts in between precious air conditioning. â€“- Katie D.