One Project A Weekend

Pillows From T-Shirts and Scraps

Pillows From T-Shirts and Scraps

Out of the blue the other day, my six year-old, Isaac, said that he “needed” to make a pillow for his buddy, Cash. He was holding a piece of brown kraft paper that he wanted to sew into a square shape and stuff with cotton balls. It just so happened that Nana Sue would be coming for a visit the very next day, so I told him that perhaps she could help him with this project (since I don’t really use the sewing machine). And when she arrived, Isaac immediately asked her to teach him how to sew…so he could make a pillow for Cash. After convincing him that a paper pillow wouldn’t hold up very well, we looked for old t-shirts and fabric scraps. Remembering I had fabric swatches saved (for over eight years) from when we were designing Mason’s nursery bedding…and a few of my favorite t-shirts that the boys wore when they were babies/toddlers, I gathered a bunch of material for the project. Now, with Nana here and motivated by Isaac’s idea…they would be made into adorably cuddly, decorative pillows! After choosing the shirt he wanted to make into Cash’s cuddle pillow, Isaac and Nana set out on a pillow-making extravaganza! And here’s the finished pillow for Cash, which Isaac was so excited to deliver to his friend…along with a hand-written note. I hope the boys learned what a great feeling it is to be able to make a gift for someone…just as it’s so wonderful to receive something that a friend made by hand....

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Gilded Gourds

Gilded Gourds

We’ve had these monogram carved pumpkins for over five years and set them out every year as part of our Fall and Halloween decor. They’re foam craft pumpkins from Michaels that I drew each initial onto and my husband carved using a Dremel tool. Due to all the thin lines of detail in the design, he did not cut all the way through the foam and instead shaved away the plastic coating so that there was a layer of the foam remaining to keep the design together while still allowing an LED tea light to glow through. After five years of sitting out in the sun, the pumpkins were a little weathered and faded. There were some holes in the foam too. Honestly, we thought we had thrown them out after last year when we couldn’t find them in our Halloween bins. I was relieved when my husband happened upon them in the garage…I didn’t want to buy four new pumpkins and I figured all they needed was a little freshening up and they’d be as good as gold…literally. I taped off the carved section with the initials, concerned that the spray paint may damage the exposed foam (regular spray paint will disintegrate foam and I wasn’t sure how these craft pumpkins would react). Then, two coats of Valspar Brilliant Metal Gold spray paint later, I had some gorgeous and brand-new-shiny pumpkins! I did not prime or base coat the pumpkins beforehand, just wiped off dust and dirt. Of course, something had to be done with the taped off areas. I took some leftover dark gray paint and hand-painted a simple shape, one slightly different for each pumpkin. I added a white outline, patched the holes in the foam, and painted a slight white wash onto each letter to get rid of any orange. I thought about hand painting a different pattern onto the gold as well.  For instance, a floral or paisley onto mine, herringbone onto my husband’s, and some sort of modern geometric onto each son’s pumpkin. My five year-old asked for “race car” checkerboard. Maybe I’ll do it in the weeks leading up to Halloween. Or maybe next year. I’m kind of enjoying them simply the way they are. And since they’re not Halloween specific, they’ll work nicely throughout the Fall season and into Thanksgiving. Sometimes all that glitters IS gold, when it comes to a simple DIY and a can of spray paint. Now I’m off to find some reasonably priced LED lights to illuminate the pumpkins when I set them up on our...

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Quick Cabinet Makeover with ASCP

Quick Cabinet Makeover with ASCP

When left to my own devices, I usually paint something or work on stuff around the house. I know, not exactly what most women dream of doing if given an almost three week respite from daily household chores and kid duties. My husband and kids were up in the Bay Area visiting Nana and Papa for some summer fun before school starts…I was supposed to go, but had to stay behind because of my work schedule. I had three weddings in one weekend and several invitation ensembles to print and assemble, so I knew I would be spending my vacation time worrying about my pending deadlines if I left town. I had plenty of work to keep me busy and with no one to cook or clean for, shuttle to and from activities, or keep entertained…I welcomed the chance to get caught up on work. In between work projects: I thoroughly cleaned the house (marveling at how even at ten minutes or five hours, or two days later…it still remained tidy!); I did some random organizing (such as lining the dresser and nightstand drawers in the master bedroom); and I got caught up on a couple of blog posts. I should have been organizing my office or finishing up some other projects I’d started months ago (but haven’t had time to finish, ahem…hand painting my stair riser tiles), but since I only had spurts of spare time for personal stuff in between all my deadlines, I needed quick projects. While I was printing paper elements for a wedding ensemble and waiting on changes from a client for another, I remembered I had three tiny sample pots of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint that I had picked up at Royal Design Studio awhile back…so I thought I’d try them out and paint our guest bathroom cabinet. Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is hugely popular amongst DIYers, especially throughout the blogosphere, because it’s supposed to be so easy to use and a very forgiving product…you don’t need to be a professional painter or an experienced decorative artist to use it. You don’t have to sand, primer, prepare a surface, before applying the paint. It dries quickly and can be used indoors or out. And it will “stick” to almost anything…previously painted surfaces, glossy finishes, fabric, metal, plastic, glass. Its muted hues are perfect for creating the look of time-worn, distressed or antiqued furniture and it’s very versatile for creating layered paint finishes. I have used Milk Paint and mixed my own variation of “chalk-ish” paint in the past for my clients, but haven’t had a chance to test out ASCP for myself. So I thought the bathroom cabinet would be a perfect “quick” project to see how the product works…and get a gauge for the paint’s coverage and usability. The sample pots are very small, only 4 ounces (expensive as far as paint goes at $12 each, a quart is about $40), so I wanted a project that wouldn’t require a huge amount of paint…and that I could get done very quickly. I only had about 4 hours total of spare time, in between print runs and meeting production deadlines, to finish the project. Plus I wanted to have it completed before my family was due to return home. I was inspired by an image of a vanity I had seen in Traditional Home of Designer Berkley Vallone’s powder room. I loved the red, gold and turquoise finish on the vanity and how it worked with the golden and copper hues throughout. These color combinations have always appealed to me and I thought something similar may...

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Master Bedroom – $30 Paint Makeover

Master Bedroom – $30 Paint Makeover

Our master bedroom has looked the same for over ten years. With so many other more pressing and visible projects going on (and yet, still unfinished) around the house, it seems like our bedroom always has, and will, be last on the priority list. Some time ago, during one of our “one of these days when we have some extra time and money” home improvement/decorating project “wish list” discussions, my husband and I threw around some ideas for our bedroom makeover. Dark gray has always been one of his favorite colors and red is mine, so we came up with a dark gray, deep red (bordeaux) and cream color scheme for our room. We’re envisioning a sultry, glamorous, “boudoir” feel that isn’t too fussy or froo-froo and still has some sleek/strong touches and some ethnic, ornamental influences. I did a sketch of a gray room, with furniture and moulding painted the same color (for a tone-on-tone look), off-white or cream bedding and window treatments, pops of red in pillows and maybe lamp shades…and the two things I’ve always wanted in our bedroom: a Moroccan wedding blanket and carved wooden Indian doors as a headboard. I had pretty much forgotten about the possibility of a redo (or at least put it at the end of the project priority list) until I was in Home Depot about a month or so ago, picking up supplies for a painting job, and noticed that all the Martha Stewart paints were on clearance for 50% off. I spied a color called Magnetite, a deep warm gray that would be perfect for our bedroom…and figured I should grab some immediately before all the stock was cleared. I couldn’t pass up such a good deal on paint…and the color was perfect! First I bought a tester (which was also on clearance for 50 cents), and after trying it out on the bedroom walls in several spots and realizing that we loved the color…I went back and purchased a couple of gallons for the walls at $12 each and a quart of semi-gloss for the furniture at $6.  Hence, the “$30 paint makeover”. Since I already have all the supplies and tools needed for painting, and we did all the work ourselves in a couple of weekends…the price tag for jump-starting the makeover of our bedroom really comes down to the color change: $30 dollars worth of paint. The paint sat in the garage for a couple of weeks…we were so busy with deadines, work projects and family activities, that it seemed the project was going to be forgotten…again. And then one weekend, my husband and I actually had a “free” Saturday, plus it was supposed to rain…so we made an impromptu decision to just slap some paint on the walls. We don’t have a lot of furniture or things on the walls, so in no time at all, we had everything moved to the center of the room, drop cloth down and paint brushes/rollers in hand. We tag-teamed the project…I did all the cutting-in and he did all the rolling. With a little help from our five year-old, we completed the room (including a second quick coat of spot touch-ups), in about four hours. Note: all photos in this post were taken with my iphone. We LOVE how the color looks in our room with the contrasting warm white (Behr Swiss Coffee) baseboards and our dark walnut colored wood floors. But, in the evening, I felt the color looked too bluish-gray. So the next day, I custom mixed a translucent glaze with a few drops of yellow oxide...

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Faux Wood Doors

Faux Wood Doors

I’ve always loved the look of rustic wood doors, stained dark with wrought iron hinges, “clavos” (decorative nail heads) and ornate handles. It reminds me of our honeymoon in Italy and the look we’ve been going for in our home since we moved in 10 years ago – an eclectic mix of Spanish/Italian Mediterranean: Spanish Colonial, Rustic Tuscan Villa, Mediterranean Revival. Below are some examples of my “dream doors”…they’re all gorgeous, but waaaay out of our price range right now. Real wood garage doors by Dynamic Garage Door. A client’s door faux-painted by EITAK Design (me) to look like a wood door, over a previously painted base coat (please excuse the bad iphone pic and the painter’s paper in the window panes). Many of my clients in Rancho Santa Fe have fabulous homes in these styles…and most of them have real wood garage doors. The garage doors of the suburban “tract” homes in my neighborhood are painted aluminum…which I’ve been dying to redo since I started faux painting garage doors years and years ago. I just haven’t had any time…like I’ve said before, I’m too busy painting clients’ homes to do anything to ours. And when I’m not painting, I’m working on invitations, single-handedly running my business, and being a mom and wife. So, when my mom-in-law planned a visit in April…she said she would help me take care of the kids and the house so that my husband and I could have some time to paint the garage door like we’ve always wanted. Is she awesome or what!!! I knew we’d only need a couple of days…so I took a break from work and she totally took care of EVERYTHING so that Aaron and I could complete this project in a weekend. Here’s our garage door: BEFORE, a weird pinkish tan due to 10 years of oxidation and exposure. I can’t even remember what the original color was. Here’s our front door: BEFORE, a faded rust-brown, you can see where a wreath has been hanging over the years. Here’s the inside of our front door: BEFORE. We started by wiping down the door (you can also wash and prep the door with TSP-trisodium phosphate) and then priming with KILZ. P.S. – My mom-in-law took this photo…had I known she was going to snap this, I would have worn some of my “cuter” painting clothes and not these baggy dungarees! Then we painted a tan-yellow exterior eggshell base-coat. Basically I chose a color similar to the look of raw, unstained wood, but wanted a tad bit more yellow in the undertone than real wood.  It’s actually very close to the color of the house. Base-coated front door. Then, using my own custom mixture of several Minwax oil-based Gel Stains (Walnut, Aged Oak and Chestnut), as well as a few drops of Universal Colorant, I quickly brushed the stain onto each panel of the garage door, using brush strokes in one direction. I used a cheap china bristle brush or throw-away chip brush, because the coarse bristles leave more brush marks in the stain (as opposed to more expensive brushes that tend to soften or feather brush strokes). Plus the metal door is already embossed with a wood grain texture which helps create the look without having to do traditional wood-graining or faux bois. Since the Gel Stain is of a thick consistency that applies more like a glaze than a wood stain, the layering and overlapping of color gives it more of a natural wood-stained look, where there are darker patches (i.e. in natural wood where you would find knots or uneven grain...

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