29 November 2011

The Liebster Blog Award!

As a new blogger, I get really excited with every page view I get! I wonder what people thought of my project, and whether they laughed at my jokes :) And I relish every comment...I like to read them in my email and then again on the site, sometimes multiple times :) So you'll understand my excitement when I came home today to a new comment about a blog award! I know right, amazing! Praise to God :)

I found out that Kirsten at The Foreign Domestic gave me the Liebster Blog Award! Wow, me? I can't even express how honoured and touched I felt :)

The award is designed to promote up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers. It was so amazingly sweet of her to think of me, thanks again Kirsten!

The rules of the award are to post about it in your blog and link back to the one who gave it to you. Then pick 5 blogs to pass it along to and leave a comment telling them so.

I went through some of the great blogs I've come across lately. My fab five choices are:

Please pay them each a visit and send them some love! I've found beautiful and inspiring things on each of these blogs, and you will too :)

I'm slowly discovering what a beautiful relationship bloggers have. I'm still pretty new to blogging but it's so amazing to see how bloggers support one another and are so caring and encouraging. I'm excited to develop some great friendships here, God-willing :)
I am so grateful to all my family, friends, and fellow bloggers who are supporting me here!

Before and After: A Goodwill Dresser Makeover!

                                            Before                                                                         After

I’m still a newbie to this the world of second-hand treasures, but when I spotted this beauty of a dresser at my local Goodwill a few weeks ago, I knew it was a hidden gem. It was hiding behind a few broken bookshelves, filthy and covered in stickers, scratches and dents…but it had such gorgeous details that it was practically screaming at me: “make me over, make me over!”!!! How could I refuse?! It had me at those legs.

I had absolutely no need for it, and no place I could even justify putting it. Our apartment is spacious but cozy, and it’ll feel more like a store than a home if I overstuff it with all the beautiful things I fall in love with :) Which are many :)

It took an exorbitant amount of willpower to leave the store without the dresser. But I eventually went back for it :) It was like a bad itch, I couldn’t stop thinking about it! The hallway table was my first major furniture makeover, but after that project I was hooked. I prayed for guidance and decided to refinish the dresser to resell. It would be a ton of fun and a great way to practice and develop our DIY skills :)

Because I impatiently waited a few days before buying the dresser it got marked down. Plus I ended up buying it on Goodwill’s 50% off Friday sale, so we got it for the super cheap price of $10.01 – a deal on a deal?! I don’t think I’ve ever felt more amazing.  

I started the makeover with a good cleaning and scraping off all the stickers and congealed grime. The veneer was bubbling a little in some parts so I only lightly sanded a few areas I couldn't clean well.

Then my husband and I got to work on all the chips and dents. 

I did some research on repairing the chipped corners with hard wax and veneer tape, but I decided to try wood filler first since I had some on hand. It may not be the easiest way to do it but it worked! With some patience we were able to reshape all of the broken corners and edges, and patch up some of the dents.

All of the drawers were functional, but one of the sliders was broken. It was an older design so it wasn't a standard size I could replace easily, but I eventually found an adjustable slide at Canadian Tire! That made my day :) 

For primer I chose Zinsser’s Cover Stain – after reading Centsational Girl’s recommendation as the best primer for laminate furniture.

It was amazing, no issues adhering to the glossy veneer at all. Plus it dried so fast, perfect for impatient DIYers like me :) But it does stink up a storm…and we’re in an apartment, in COLD weather, and I like me my heat! We had all the windows open and I was walking around in a hideous number of layers. Washing up for prayers in the morning was brutal!
For the paint we wanted to go with a nice bright shade of white. I’ve never bought white paint before, so I almost went nuts with all the shades! We were in the store forEVER and a day, but we finally chose a lovely shade of creamy white in a semi gloss. I love it!!

Super-duper love it : )

We thought about outlining the detailing on the drawer-fronts in black for a really bold look, but it took away from the depth of the detail and looked more like a stenciled-on rectangle, so we scrapped that. I also tried a high-sheen gloss to add a bit more drama with a glossier finish, but the product created a yellowish tinge that we weren’t loving, so we scrapped that too.   

I replaced the hardware with a simple black knob (on clearance for $1.43 a piece!). I chose black because of the black outlines we originally planned, but I still loved the bold knobs without it.

I am head.over.heels in LOVE with these legs. Can't get over the gorgeousness! A designer look for less if there ever was one :)

I couldn't be happier with the finished product!! Goodwill is my new favourite place, and it's amazing that by shopping there you're also supporting your community.

It was so much fun working on this makeover and transforming this $10 dresser into something so beautiful. It still has some little imperfections but they add to the dresser's charm :)

Here's another shot of the before and after:

Love it! What do you think? Any tips for future projects?

Linking up at:

23 November 2011

My First Living Room!

We finally have a sofa! Which means we finally have a living area! Like a real-life grown-up one : )

Those who know us will understand...this isn't any ordinary furniture delivery! We didn't have a sofa for 4 and a half months. That may not be long in the grand scheme of things, but it was frustrating at the time. Part of that homey feeling is having a comfy cozy place to curl up, and the only place I could do that was the bed. Now I love our bed, but I hardly felt like hanging out there all evening...every day...for 4 months! I kept falling asleep :)

It took us a couple weeks to pick out a sofa, mainly because I was too picky we wanted to get the best deal :)! But a sofa can be such a central feature in a space, so the look and feel really mattered to me. But after placing our order in July, the store kept pushing back the delivery date because of a warehouse issue, until 12 weeks had passed and they were saying it would still take another month!

For a moment I actually regretted making my husband sell his old sofa set before the wedding. If you’re reading this honey, don’t get any ideas, it was just one very..Very brief moment.

We finally canceled the order (getting a refund was a whole other issue). I shopped around again and found something great at Leon’s. Best part: delivery within 2 days! I honestly don’t know why I didn’t check that store the first time around!
The sofa is gorgeous and so comfy and I looove the lines! Not too straight, not too curvy, love it!

I was afraid a light colour would get dirty easily…but we don’t have kids yet so if we’re ever going to have a light sofa now’s the time right :)
Plus we opted for a fabric protection on the sofa – it’s so very cool! Liquid drops just sit on top of the fabric rather than soak in, and the fabric still looks and feels the same.
We are both really happy with the new look of our living area. It’s amazing how different the place feels with a sofa! We have a place to curl up and relax other than the bed :) And I have no excuse to hesitate about inviting people over now...they're going to have to taste my cooking someday anyway :)

The two side chairs were from Homesense awhile ago. We got them to go with our original sofa order (which was a luscious deep green), but they work well with this sofa too.

As for the cushions, we didn't like the ones that came with the sofa, so I got these lovelies instead. I wanted something that worked with the cushions I already had on the side chairs. These were a bit of a splurge, but the sofa was a gift from my husband's super-sweet parents :) so I could spend a bit on the cushions. Plus it was honestly love at first sight when I spotted those orange patterned ones! I tried a bunch of pillows alongside them (literally 7 different cushions, my husband must have thought I was nuts :) until I found this bright green one. It's a great pop of colour, I totally love it! It's rich and elegant and heaven to touch too :)

It’s honestly a world of a difference coming home to this new space, I adore it. It feels warm and inviting and cozy, but still really classy. Just what a honey sweet home should be :)

I’m excited to dress up the walls and add some curtains next : ) 

What do you think?!

Linked up at:
Good Life Wednesdays
Remodelaholics Anonymous

17 November 2011

Before & After: A Table Makeover

One afternoon when we’d first moved in, my husband and I were unpacking when I stumbled across him trying to tape his hometown flag to the wall...After gently reminding him that we aren’t living in dorms anymore :) I suggested framing it and giving it a proper place of honour in our home. Framing it felt somewhat counter-intuitive to his down home east-coast roots, but he eventually agreed it was a reasonable compromise :) 

The flag is huge so custom framing was out of the question, but I found a beautiful large country-ish frame at IKEA.

Not quite as big as the whole flag, but it would work.We wanted to hang it in the hallway to our bedroom but for the life of us we couldn’t drill through that wall, so the flag ended up in our front entrance.

What started as an idea purely to please my husband (and reassure him that I wasn’t taking over our new place with my decorating obsession!) ended up being a great piece of art that I really love! It may or may not be a bit crooked in the frame..but..well I'm learning to cope. It definitely brings interest to the front hall, and most importantly it’s something really meaningful for him and me. 

Well...I should also admit that putting it up gave me an excuse to search for a console table to use underneath it :)

I saw some I loved at Homesense, but I figured an entry table wasn't a necessity (depending on how you define necessity) so I didn't want to spend much on one at this point. After a month or two of keeping my eye out I finally found something on Kijiji! A gorgeous wood console in need of some tender loving care and a new home : )

It was an amazing deal at only 15 bucks!!! (yes, that warrants three exclamation marks!) Although it was in pretty rough shape when we bought it, and I'll be honest - it did not smell great. The seller was really nice, but my husband and I are just not used to pet odours. The owner’s dog had chewed away at all the edges pretty badly. I forgot to take a pic before sanding but here is some similar damage on a coffee table we bought from the same place.

I had to purify the table according to our Islamic tradition – any Shafis out there can appreciate that task! : )
Then we sanded the whole thing down...as best we could being first time sanders! I borrowed an electric sander from my best friend’s Dad, but I don't think I used it properly because it was leaving scratches on the surface. So I did the rest by hand, although my arms almost fell off in the process...almost, it was a pretty close call, but praise to God they made it through.

I had no idea how to salvage the corners so I just rounded them out with the electric sander.

They're not all perfectly even, but I'm trying to convince myself that perfection is overrated :)

I used some wood filler on the biggest dents.

How come spackling always looks so easy on TV? I'm just hoping it gets easier with practice. A tip for anyone else who tries this for the first time: don’t use too much, and try to get it as smooth as you can while it is still wet. After sanding the whole table, the last thing I wanted to do was a lot more sanding! 
Also, while the filler does take stain, the tone will be slightly off from the real wood.

After prepping the table I applied a wood conditioner.

It's supposed to help with an even stain application. I’m not sure if it helped because I still see some patchiness, but I’ll have to try a project without it someday to see the difference. 

Then I applied a water-based stain & polyurethane combo using a sponge brush.

Anyone know if it’s better to stain and poly separately? And is an oil-based or water-based stain better for an even application?

I liked the colour of the table after one coat, but the top was a bit too patchy so I applied a second coat to the top only. (Plus I ran out of time since I had guests coming over!) At first it was a bit redder than I wanted, but now I actually love the rich warmth of the stain.

I also changed out the handles for something a bit sleeker, but still in keeping with the look of the table. (Ignore the dust! I've been working on another project and there is sanding dust everywhere!)

And voila, a new console table!

It was my first big project and we are really happy with it. The detail in the legs is my favourite thing :)
And I loved the process, it was sooo much fun that I couldn't wait to get started on my next furniture makeover - more on that to come!
In addition to the $15 for the table, I probably spent about $25-30 on the supplies (sandpaper, wood filler, conditioner, stain, brushes, etc), but I did have a ton of everything leftover.

Another before:

And after:

Let me know what you think!

Linking up at:
Coffee and Conversation Thursday  
Twice Owned Tuesday 
The DIY Project Parade
Show & Share 
Transformation Thursday 

8 November 2011

My First Vignette

We've been living in the new apartment for 4 months now, but between all the craziness the past few months - the honeymoon and post-wedding hoopla, the moving and furniture shopping, getting back to work and figuring out new routines, not to mention the whole learning how to live with (and feed) a man thing :) - our home is still a work in progress :) But what home isn't? 

Anyway one of our furniture finds was a beauty of a dresser from IKEA to use between our dining area and workspace in the apartment. It provides a lot of extra storage as well as a buffet surface, and best of all a space for me to decorate :) So a couple weeks ago I finally got to creating my first little vignette! 

It started with an idea I've seen in stores and on a few other blogs - decorating with pinecones. I loved the idea of natural decor in our home. 

Pinecones are all over the christmas aisles as pot pouri or tree ornaments, but why on earth pay when you can get them free? So I asked some of my sweet students to collect them for me at lunch time. They returned after lunch with enormous smiles and three tiny little pinecones in hand :) 

Since I needed just a few more, my husband and I went out one evening to collect a whole bag full. I washed them all to remove any mud - and yes, a few creepy crawlies did come out and almost get me, but praise to God I didn't incur any serious injuries. 

When it came to displaying them, I've read on a lot of blogs to use what you have. But as newlyweds just starting out we haven't got much in the way of decor supplies...just some leftover wedding stuff that wasn't right size for this anyway. 

So I went shopping for some vases and bowls on the cheap. I found some great ones at Walmart, but the two I wanted were totalling 35 bucks! So I shopped around at Goodwill and Value Village and scored these shapely beauties for 3 and 4 bucks each! I'm pretty sure the smaller one is exactly the Walmart vase...nothing beats a great deal :)

I filled them up with pinecones and added a little colour with cinnamon sticks and some fall fillers I found on clearance at Homesense. 

The two vases were looking a little dinky alone though, so I wanted to add something taller. I tried these great candlesticks, but they were a little too dark and chunky next to my shiny dainty vases, so I returned them.

Then I found the perfect tall & thin apothecary vase at Pottery Barn, but it happened to come with a $90 price tag...ouch! Enter this great toilet paper holder I'd seen previously at Kitchen Stuff Plus:

It was $20! Sure it's for toilet paper, but who's gonna know? 

To balance the other side of the dresser, I added one of the floral arrangements I'd made previously (see here). I also found these gorrrrrgeous candlesticks on clearance at Winners ($6 & $7) - I was in love!! 

The tinted glass of these curvy beauties suited my vignette perfectly - warm colours with a bit of sparkly glass. I added some deep red candles, also on sale from Bombay, and voila! My first vignette :)

I love the rich fall colours and the way it brightens up this previously bare corner of the apartment and makes it feel so much cozier. And I'm seriously loving the combination of nature with a little sparkle of glass.

What do you guys think? 

P.S. Linked up at:
Thrifty Decor Chick : November Before & After Party
Creating a House of Grace : Twice Owned Tuesday Party 

Dollarama Eid Decor

Eid Mubarak! I hope that all of you who celebrated Eid had a blessed and festive day :) 

I have to admit I was feeling a bit lazy to decorate this Eid, especially since it’s just the two of us at home and we were invited out anyway. But my sweet sister-in-law encouraged me to get my sparkle on and make the place feel special :) Plus you can’t help but be inspired by all the dazzling decor in the new Christmas displays.

I’ve seen some gorgeous decorations out there that aren’t Christmas specific and could be used for any holiday! I’m definitely looking forward to the boxing day sales so I can pick up some glittery goodies to use for Rabi’ al Awwal & Ramadan next year.

For this Eid I wanted to keep it simple and easy, and most importantly, cheap! So I took a trip to Dollarama and came home with a big bag full of gold treasures :)

In the main archway of the apartment I put up a couple of tinsel garlands and hung some gold stars. Simple but festive! 

The placement is great because you see it as soon as you enter the apartment but also from anywhere in the main room.

I also found these shimmery flowers and glittery golden branches that I loved! So I picked out a simple tall vase to place them in, as well as a roll of ribbon for a quick and easy way to dress it up (and hide the stems of the florals). 

I just wrapped the ribbon around the vase with a bit of tape, and added some gold wrapping paper I already had inside. It took literally 2 minutes to create this arrangement: 

I bought some small gold balls and pinecones too. I know I know, you can get pinecones for free and paint them! But I wanted something quick and easy and these were still super cheap!

All I did was put them together in a glass apothecary bowl I recently bought (only $9 at Superstore!) and voila! It really can’t get easier.

I dressed the entrance table with a sparkly Dollarama fabric and some candles I had around the house. My little Eid sign was an impromptu craft project gone wrong :) But my husband liked it so we left it out.

And with that, I was able to put together a little Eid vignette near our front entrance! 

I also fortunately never took down the lights that I had put up last Eid (as in 2 months ago) so that added a bit more twinkle to the place as well. 

Not counting what I already had, I spent a grand total of $19 at Dollarama, which isn't too bad if I do say so myself :) 

I'm so grateful I could make our home look a little special for Eid, after all my husband reminded me that celebrating is a sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. And I love that I was able to create a really festive yet simple look.

I’m excited to go all out next Eid, but for now this was perfect!