Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Like to Make Things With My Hands...

So, I have a new roommate. Her name is Katelyn, and she is a peach. We get along great and both have a penchant for handbags and shoes. Expensive, but truly enjoyable.

She loves to watch HGTV. I also like to watch this channel, but I usually get stuck on the Seinfeld re-runs or The Food Network before I venture far enough down the cable guide listings to find out what is on. Since she's moved in, I've been taking in a lot more of programs like "Design On A Dime," "Divine Design," "Color Splash" etc etc etc. The point of most of these shows is they take a space and remodel or redecorate based on the owners' budget and design preferences.

I have two favorite shows on this channel. The first one is "Design on a Dime." The owner allots a budget (usually $1000 or so) and then the designers have to design the entire space under their budget. The second one is called "Color Splash" I like this one because the host, David Bromstad, was the winner of HGTV's Design Star Challenge....I shamelessly watched every episode and routed for Bromstad. He always uses lots of color and has a distinctly contemporary style that was always clean and concise, which I love. Please avoid the temptation to make attractive male with large muscle and tattoo jokes...surely you can do better than that.

Anyway. Like I said, we've been watching a lot of this stuff lately. The cool thing about the two shows I mentioned is that in the case of "Design on a Dime" the design team often has to cut corners in order to come in under budget and they make a lot of original art pieces and refurbish a lot of furniture they find at second hand markets. Bromstad has an art background and often creates his own original art for the spaces, and always comes up with interesting and original ideas. It's a good time all around.

So, Katelyn and I were watching the other night and watched the DoaD team make over a huge room with really big long walls. They built a simple frame and nailed grosgrain ribbon strips to the back of the frame horizontally and then did the same thing vertically and then wove the strips together to make a basketweave pattern. Then they used it as a big simple, textural art piece.

The other project that caught my eye was a "cord cozy" that Bromstad made. He took simple muslin fabric and sewed it into a long tube to cover the cord on a hanging light fixture.

Something you should know is I love color. My couch is pear green, I have two armless chairs in a tangerine print, and my dining room chairs are covered in a jewel-tone turquoise. I have resisted the urge to put a ruby colored rug under said turquoise colored chairs on MULTIPLE occasions.

The problem with my apartment is that it is just that, an apartment. Which means I can't paint. So, there is a LOT of white. White walls, white cabinets, white appliances, white ceilings, white counter tops...white white white. White can be great...very chic, simple, elegant. This, however, is suburban sprawl white. Cheap drywall white. We-don't-want-to-overthink-this white. I hate it. So, I've been looking for ways to spice things up without paint (see above references to somewhat irreverent furniture choices). However, the walls are continuously problematic. So, unless I want to paint and then REPAINT the white (uh, I think not) before I move out, I have to find another solution.

In addition to the whiteness, I have been extremely frustrated by two things. Strike that. Three things. The first thing is I have this big, long, white wall in my apartment that is driving me crazy. Right now I have three tiny, badly styled shadow boxes that I put up about a year ago. They are way too small and have nothing to do with the rest of the decor in the room, and they don't cover up enough of the WHITE. I am totally obsessive compulsive. This means the above situation makes me crazy. Problem two: CORDS! Cords are the bane of my existence. TV, DVD, Cable, Stereo, Lamp, WHEN DOES THE MADNESS END?!? They are an eyesore, and no matter how I push, pull, wrap, and tuck, they always end up in the same mangled mess behind my awkwardly open entertainment center. Did I mention I'm obsessive compulsive? Problem three: I'm broke. Well, sort of, in that mid-level government job kind of way...You get the idea. Interior Design is Expensive.

So, today, I decided to take matters into my own hands (most of my friends are out of town, and the rest are recovering from Thanksgiving, Katelyn is out of town, and I have been spending too much time alone). I got in the car and headed to Seven Corners where there is a Michaels Crafts, a Joann Fabric, and a Home Depot all in the same complex. Essentially, a DIY Mecca.
After a few hours, I left the Holy City of home craftiness with over 80 yards of "Olive Drab" grosgrain ribbon, acrylic paint in robins egg blue, a full range of paint brushes, 3 yards of Muslin, two types of nails, and 4 planks of custom measured and cut kiln-dried pine (hardware store guys are SERIOUSLY so helpful!).

I spent the rest of the evening building my frame and stringing ribbon back and forth across it to make a huge basketwoven canvas of softly shimmering olive green. On the show, the team had a nail gun. While I am the proud owner of a brand new power drill (thanks Mom & Dad), I didn't think that would work very well on the fabric ribbon, and I don't own a nail gun...which is probably a good thing since hospital visits are expensive. So I pounded every single nail. Three to secure each corner of the frame, and two per ribbon strip. My rough estimates are about 188 nails. I think my neighbors are probably planning a full mutiny. I don't blame them. Oh well. So now I have a 6' x 3' custom art piece (MUCH better than the 10"x 10" shadow boxes full of curly raffia and potpourri flowers). I am hoping to finish it with some stenciled birds in robins egg blue on opposing corners. I promise to post pics of the finished product. Paint, brushes, ribbon, and lumber all cost me less than $60. Did I mention it's 6'x3'? Seriously. 18 square feet of custom basketwoven glory. Seriously.

It's cool. Trust me.

I started project number two by cutting and pinning the muslin. I'll just run a long seam up the edge and finish both ends and then I'll have my own "cord cozy" to hide the cord cacophony happening behind my shelves and chair. Hallelujah. I can hardly wait to finish it. Glorious Day.

Think this scrunchy cord cover, only hiding all of my ugly TV and cable cords.

Joy. I feel so much joy.

Project number three, although not started, is in the final conceptual phases, and should be pretty easy to complete, all I have to do is find a lumber yard... The plan is to get a big stump from the lumber yard that has been sawed off flat on top, cover it in several coats of paint (again, robins egg blue) and finish it with a high gloss lacquer to make a side table.

Think This Shape

With This Color
Seriously Can't Wait.

Yes, it's possible I'm having DIY visions of grandeur, but it's fun. I always forget how much I love making things myself. It's incredibly rewarding (when it all goes as planned, that is) to go out, collect different bits and pieces and then work with your own two hands to create something that is uniquely your own. Sometimes I wonder if the Reality TV craze has encouraged us to sit in our homes and watch other people cook, decorate, build, bake, design, sew, and create things. However, based on today's flurry of creative activity, I am happy to say that this is one case where TV actually inspired me to get of the couch and make something new and interesting...Hopefully it will all go as planned, and my apartment won't end up looking like an abandoned amusement park.

My thanks to HGTV for a couple of good ideas, and the assurance that color is your friend.