Sunday, August 30, 2009

In case I give the impression that it has been all work and no play, let me remedy that thought. I snuck into this pool yesterday in San Jose for an afternoon of swimming and relaxation.

Lovely accomplices.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Palo Alto Renovation: Kitchen

Before: Clashy. Blue trim=bad, bad, bad, bad. I can't give it enough thumbs down. Streaky, terrible paint job and someone even used their fingers to wipe it onto the trim which left actual hand prints in some places. I couldn't eat breakfast without repainting it with my eyes.

After: New white trim from free leftover paint in the shed. 1 gallon of paint from Home Depot is the best $20 ever spent. The walls are like butter.

Before: One mystery was why foam core was screwed on both sides of this glass door. No broken windows so off it came. Also a negative was the brown panel dividing up the kitchen holding us back in the 70's. Flesh colored paint on the window and shelf is gross in every context I can think of.

After: I pulled the mocha accent color into the kitchen to tie it in with the living room and it also gives some visual interest. Look at all of that light coming in from our door that was hidden behind foam core! The cabinets also have a fresh coat of white paint.

Before: Clutter, mismatched art, and more blue trim.

After: Clean and a peak at the living room and how the new colors play off of each other. Part of the reason the kitchen is yellow is based on the fact that you see these two rooms together. Here is the progression... yellow-orange door means blue walls in living room and blue walls in living room means yellow kitchen.

Before: The stove has an awkward placement and overlaps the trim no matter what because of the placement of the gas line. There is a pipe which prevents it from being pushed up next to the wall.

After: I embraced the fact that I can't position the stove properly and decided to utilize the space since we are short on work surfaces. This cart is something I found kicking around in the dirt in our backyard. I cleaned it off, threw away the warped top and bought a new white metal top for it at Ikea in the as-is section for $4.00. I relocated the mirror from the living room because it helps me not focus too much on the fact that the stove is in the wrong place and the whites look fresh.

Before: Cord to refrigerator stretched across the wall. Tile floor unfinished. The rest is pretty self explanatory. *Sigh.*

After: New longer white cord and found extra tile pieces in the shed. (They are the stick on kind in case you think I am so brave.) Decided to use my chairs since they contrast nicely with the yellow walls. Would like a more modern dining set, but this will do for now. I am always a fan of eliminating table cloths in most situations and this is one of those.

After: A sneak preview into Brooke's bedroom which will be an upcoming post.

Palo Alto Renovation: Living Room

Before: The first three photos are the ones that were emailed to me before I moved into this rental house. This room is particularly challenging due to a rather large piano, which is a permanent fixture in the house. I cannot even budge it on my own and I have a lot of determination. There is also a serious lamp issue going on. Lamp issue #1: The cowboy lamp. Since western theme doesn't do much for me, the cowboy lassoing a cactus was the first thing to go. Plus, the lamp table next to the couch took up too much space and was unnecessary.

Lamp issue #2: Are those geese? Oh boy.
Also, take note of the yellow door. It is important.

Lamp issue #3: This lamp base is completely busted and the lamp can't even stand independently. It is leaning against the wall to stay upright.

After: I spent a day painting and incorporating some of my furniture and lamps with the existing furniture and this is what I came up with. Not so bad, eh. Thinning things out is key and giving enough breathing room around each piece of furniture makes it feel more spacious. It is a dead give away that you have no space when your couch is shoved all the way up against the wall.

Let's discuss color, shall we? Our yellow door is the keystone, as it is my roommates favorite component of the house. I took the challenge to save the door and paint everything else. So I had to choose a wall color that would work with the bright yellow-orange. The walls were already blue, but I chose another shade so instead of being a sky blue or little boys room blue, there is a greenish gray undertone, which is pretty soothing. The mocha colored accent wall helps ground everything so it doesn't feel like "candyland".

I also added a mirror to give the illusion that the space is bigger than what it really is. This is my cameo. There is still one problem area, and that is the TV. I am trying to find a TV stand, but holding out for something that has a door or a drawer that will fit the pieces to my rockband drum set. So for now I am just using what was kicking around. Craigslist is my friend and this will be remedied soon.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Palo Alto Renovation: Bathroom

I decided that the peace and joy I would feel living in a clean and efficient house was worth the effort and money to do a little painting in my cottage home in Palo Alto. Here is what a partial can of leftover white paint from the shed and $35 bucks can do.

Before: Flesh colored trim, dingy cream walls, pink bathmat, lots of clutter, and very little space.

...and a discolored shower curtain. (You can't see it in the photo, but the water had turned it a rusty red.)

After: Stark white fabric shower curtain, plush gray bathmat, and upgraded wall color.

Green and white are the colors of heaven. Maybe not this shade of green, but I had to kick it up a notch because I wanted something that would glow to make the room feel a little bigger as well as add visual interest.

Ikea once again solved a storage issue so that there aren't rogue hair dryers and extra bottles of contact solution floating around.

How long did all of this take you may ask? 1 day.

**Special thanks to Sarah for the drawing she gave me over a year ago in Seattle. The colors are a great fit! Glad I brought this one with me to Cali.

Saturday, August 15, 2009









My mom somehow managed to convince our family to do a triathlon so we formed three teams, and everyone did one leg of the relay. My nieces cheered on their moms, ate a lot of chapstick, and sported goggles and their pajamas.

My sister who is 7 months prego even participated. Maybe with two people kicking she had some extra power; she was good.

The taste of victory. Um, not sure why they gave us awards. It's like if you are the second person wearing a pink shirt between the ages of 48 and 49 you get a medal. Apparently, I won a pair of socks but didn't hear my name so my prize was left unclaimed.

Fam Nelson. Dynamic. Strong. Swift like a Puma... err something...

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Design on a Dime

I spent 2 days in Tetonia, ID at my sister's house after moving out of my Seattle apartment. She is 7 months prego and we thought it would be refreshing to give some of her furniture a makeover. I didn't do the best documentation, so I am piecing together the "after" photos with some "befores" that were emailed to me when Amie asked for some home improvement advice.


Before: Broken and ready for the trash. No, not worth salvaging.

After: I purchased this coffee table at a thrift store in Seattle for $1 and used it in my apartment for the last several years. I was happy it could find a new home because I love the surfboard top. I sanded and then stained the table a dark ebony color. After it dried over night, two coats of polyurethane sealed this baby like a dream.


Before: The walls in Amie's house are weird; they are some type of wallboard with flowers printed on it. I felt it essential that this disappear as soon as possible so we bought a gallon of paint and with 3 coats, the flowers are gone for good.

After: The great thing about the new wall color is that it helps to neutralize the forest green countertops and tile.


Before: The table had a laminate top, which I thought would be problematic since we were doing this on the cheap and I also didn't want to wait for expensive primers to cure. So I came up with an alternate option.

After: I used Krylon plastic spray paint for the top and used Krylon all purpose spray paint for the rest of the table and chairs. It worked perfectly and seems durable enough. Avery already made several spills and it wiped up without scratching or chipping. I used steel wool to add a light grain affect on the top, which also took care of any hot spots from the spray paint.


Before: Again, the floral print walls are oh-so-offending-me. We used some white paint left over from another project and with three coats we sent the flowers to their grave. I also plucked the forest green trim that bordered the mirrors right out of the wall.

After: I'm looking forward to seeing a final picture of this entire room since it was being re-tiled over the weekend after I left. But already, feeling so much better.


Several other important things that we did that are not pictured are as follows...

-cleaned the kitchen from top to bottom, decluttering and purging items, scrubbing cabinets, floor, refrigerator, etc........

-painted a bookshelf/dvd shelf

-painted a vase

-painted a picture frame

-painted the gold trim on Amie's dresser and night stand black and said goodbye to the 90's.

*Note: This was all done in about a day and a half and for a total of $60.00... If I flunk out of grad school, I'll try to get a job on a home improvement TV show.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Truck load #2 was a combined effort as Tom, John, and I all moved out of our apartments in Seattle the same weekend. We shared a truck with deliveries to Idaho and Utah (with final destinations of New York City, Sydney, and Palo Alto.)

Tom looking more and more like a trucker (or Jack Bauer) with added facial scruff for emphasis.

Eerie advice from Budget to frequently check the straps on the tow dolly in case the car came loose and detatched itself on the freeway seemed small to the warning to "avoid serious injury/death."

**Special thanks to Lara's raised eye of caution.