Monday, August 29, 2011

Pottery Barn Hack-- Metal Baskets

Do you ever save pics to your computer, and then "lose" them? I haven't figured out Pinterest yet, but when I do, I hope to be better organized with my inspiration photos.

Well, this itty bitty before and after project has been waiting for you for a while, but looking for the (gone forever!) inspiration pics took me longer than the actual project did.

This project was inspired by dark metal baskets in the PB catalog holding fresh white towels. You'll have to trust me on this.

I found 3 Elfa hanging drawers at the thrift store for less than $2 each.

Then, I spray painted them with Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint.
Voila! Industrial-chic towel baskets!

Love them! Alas, my bathrooms are too small to have them sitting jauntily on the floor like in the PB dream-world.

What other uses can you think of for these refreshed cuties?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Vacation Round-up

Dear Readers,

Thank you for weighing in on whether or not I should read the bathroom copies of Us Weekly, etc., on my beach vacation. For the record, I did NOT. Considering, however, that we got evacuated Thursday morning because of Hurricane Irene, there's really no telling if I would have held-out had we stayed at the beach an entire week.

Highlights of the trip:

Hanging out playing cards and drinking wine with dear friends.

Reading Oliver Twist aloud in the car.

Watching back to back episodes of Friday Night Lights thanks to Tom and Netflix.

Private pool.

Perfect Weather, impending hurricane notwithstanding.

Date night with Tom. Out by 5:30, back by 6:30. Are we sizzling or what?

Yes, I'm wearing a shirt.
Speaking of back by 6:30, when I saw the pics Molly took of us before we left, I realized I was having An Inch of Gray Emergency. Nothing like capping off a hot date with some Root Touch Up on the deck. What a guy!

North Carolina Aquarium. We even saw box turtles mating.

Evacuation Trip to Great Wolf Lodge.
My face looked a lot like the kids' did when I realized that after almost a week of earnest-- okay obsessive-- lice prevention at the beach house (plastic bags, sequestered pillows, lots of laundry), I would have to rest my weary head at a KIDDIE RESORT. Oy vey.

Fine dining.

Yes, that's leftover beach house fridge salad, saved in a cooler for dinner at Great Wolf Lodge. Tom wanted to pizza delivery; I wanted the buffet. He thought the buffet was too expensive. Soooo, we ordered the kids the buffet and we adults sat there with ice water, scowling at each other.

Instead of breaking down and ordering, which I really should have done, I stuffed my face on bag salad, cheese, and Oreos back in the room, before falling asleep in bed-- with Molly. Nothing like keeping the aggressive in passive/aggressive.

Tom and the kids had fun on the awesome slides...

but none of us feels compelled to go again. It just wasn't really our vibe. If we're not even going to spring for meals there, you can bet the resort didn't get buy-in from us for: building our own wolves, having a robot serve us ice cream, getting kiddie pedicures, filling plastic cups with candy ($8!), and sporting temporary tattoos.

Let's remember that when Tom took Jake to Legoland in California, he bought him a $3 Lego mini-figure as a souvenir, and when I took Molly to the American Girl Doll Store in NYC, I got out of there having spent just $19. I would tell you that our entire honeymoon cruise bar tab amounted to $2.50, but that's simply too depressing.

Simply put, it was time to come home.

So now we're home, the laundry is in the machine, and we're awaiting a hurricane that may or may not batter the East Coast.

And you? What are YOU doing as summer winds down?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Beach DO or Beach DON'T?

As I mosey down the boulevard of broken boogie boards, also known as a family beach vacation, I desperately seek the advice of my wise friends.

The dilemma:

If your rented beach house had a basket chock full of tempting and trashy magazines such as Us Weekly, Star, Cosmo, and People, would you read them?

Yes, you say?

Well, what if this basket was in the main BATHROOM of said beach rental?

Would the gross-out factor of reading a magazine that has been read by many strangers, in the most intimate of settings, override the siren song of learning about what Nick and Vanessa are doing, whether Lindsay is in jail or not, or who will star in the movie adaptation of "The Hunger Games"?

For now, I'm going with the gross-out factor. No promises as the week progresses. What do YOU think?

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Sorry to be so quiet these last few days.

I was taking our side door (and primary entrance) from this:

To this:

I was hoping the black would tie in with our new sensor-light (Lowe's) and also help hide some of the inevitable grime the door gets. The old paint was matte and off-white which showed EVERYTHING.

I love it! What do you think?

I hesitate to go through the steps I used because there are only two, and I'm not sure if you should copy me. I just taped off the windows (annoying!) and painted it with 2 coats of oil-based black paint I bought on clearance at Lowe's. The grill around the window is plastic; the door itself is metal.

If I were to do it again, I'd do it in a less smelly, more environmentally friendly way using primer and latex exterior paint.

For a step-by-step lesson on painting a door using that method, check out Sherry and John's blog. They happened to paint their door the most adorable yellow the same day I painted mine.

Good thing I still have a front door-- I may need to go yellow!

Friday, August 12, 2011

What's in Anna's Head

So I've written before about some of the crazy stuff that goes on in my head.

Like when I wake up and think maybe, just maybe, I've lost 10 lbs in the night. Then I step on the scale and become, well, genuinely disappointed.

How if I get an email or a phone call that indicates that someone "needs to talk" to me, I immediately assume I'm being fired, chastised, blamed or upbraided for some unknown offense.

Or how when I was all of 10 or 11 years old, I'd keep my movie ticket stubs in case I needed to prove my whereabouts if hauled into the police station for some crime I didn't commit. This from a pre-pubescent girl with a Dorothy Hamill haircut and terry cloth jumpsuit.

Or when I'm at an awards ceremony and hear, "The next recipient knows what it's like to grow up a poor, African-American boy in rural Alabama..." and I'll think, "ME? Could it be? Me!!"

Or how whenever someone didn't want to date me, I'd just assume he was gay. Not that this didn't happen to me a few times over the years (Hello, Ill-fated Study Abroad romance!) but it certainly couldn't have been true EVERY time. Could it?

Well, lately I'd kind of convinced myself that one of my friends, who wasn't ever available to hang out with me, must be suffering from debilitating depression, and/or agoraphobia. How else could she possibly stand not being graced by my presence or that of my charming family? Let me tell you it's kind of hard to keep this fiction going when she seems to have a rather full and fulfilling life even without my taking a central role in it.

So, on this beautiful Friday, I'm just wondering if anyone else is up for sharing some of the weird/unfounded/narcissistic stuff that pops into your head?



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Before and After: Pier Chest

My computer seems to be happy tonight, so I'm putting up another post while I can!

Found this Pier Chest on the side of the road. Peach paint, except for 2 drawers that had goopy brown paint. I was afraid that some of the hardware was missing, but was thrilled to find it in one of the drawers. Yay! A big THANK YOU to whoever was throwing it out.

This was the perfect time to try Annie Sloan's Chalk paint for the first time! I used Duck Egg.
No priming or sanding; I just painted 2 coats on with a brush. Then, I brushed wax on 2 of the drawers, but I didn't like how it looked kind of streaky and weathered, so I just painted another coat of paint right on top.

It left a lovely, matte finish.

I sprayed the hardware with Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint.

I like how it looks like it is smiling at me. What do you think?

Linking up to Piece of Work Wednesday at Primitive & Proper.

Almost-FREE Decorating Ideas

So my computer died and I can't upload photos from my camera. I have to limp along on a borrowed computer and use cell phone pictures. If you can excuse the poor photo quality, I'd like to share 4 no-to-low cost ideas I used in Molly's tween bedroom re-do.

1. Ribbon drawer pulls. This inexpensive dresser previously had TWELVE knobs butterfly knobs that Molly didn't like anymore. I did not want to pay for 12 new ones, which would probably have cost more than the dresser itself, so used satin striped ribbon for drawer pulls. Because the drawers glide open easily, the ribbon is an easy, inexpensive solution that will last a long time.

2. Carpet tile area rug. The shag rug we wanted from Target was 60 dollars, which was more than I wanted to spend. I went to a carpet store and asked for carpet samples. They gave me as many as I wanted for free! I put them in a pattern I liked, flipped them over, and used duct tape to secure them to each other. When I flipped them over again, I had a rug for ZERO dollars!

3. Spray painted hardware. On the room's other 3 dressers (yes, I know-- too much furniture!) I spray painted the hardware to match the room. This should be an easy change when Molly wants to change her color scheme again (ugh!)
4. Duct taped stool. Molly's new bookcase is very tall. Fortunately, Tom secured it to the wall for me. Still, I needed a way for Molly to reach the top shelves. We found an aged (gross!) step-stool on the curb and I covered it with turquoise duct tape. Nearly free and super fun! Colored and patterned duct tape is very popular with the tween and teen set right now. In fact, I think Molly's favorite part of her room was the extra roll of duct tape I gave her to go with it.


So there you have it. If I've learned one thing from my kids, it's that their taste in room decor does not last forever. Having some free-to-low cost projects helped me create a fun room without breaking the bank.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Molly's Room, Before and After

Extreme Makeover, Tween Girl Edition has wrapped up over here. Okay, maybe it wasn't that extreme, but between priming, painting, gluing, moving and fluffing, re-doing Molly's room while she was out of town kept me pretty busy last Wednesday-Friday.

For those who haven't been with An Inch of Gray from the beginning, let me show you some before photos of Molly's room, which we last painted a mere 3 years ago.

We did a leopard print and pink theme that we were both excited about, but that we grew tired of before the paint even dried.

BTW, can you tell Molly is a dog lover?

The blinding pink paint was annoying from the start, and the chippy white paint on most of the furniture was more shabby than chic.

I primed and painted the ceiling, painted the walls a very bright blue (B. Moore Tropicana Cabana), and repainted the white furniture, spraying the handles blue. Although the paint is extremely bright, I hope we'll enjoy it longer than the pink.

Unfortunately, the big surprise was ruined when Molly glanced at her cousin's facebook page in New England and saw what I'd been up to.

Fortunately, she LOVES it! We went out together to pick up a few trendy lime green accessories at Target yesterday to make it truly her own. She is tickled (blue!) and grateful for my hard work.

I must admit, however, that I may have created an HGTV monster, because she did observe that the paint lines between the ceiling and the walls could have been a tad crisper. Sheesh!

Here are a few Afters. Let's hope this room carries her well into her teens:

New bookcases: Target.

Old curtains and bed skirt: Walmart. Bedding, lamp, storage ottoman: Target. Bedside table: dumpster dive.
Chair: Target.

Old dresser was my mother's.
Old mirrored dresser-- my sister and I called it "The Underwear Drawer" growing up. Can you imagine why?

Tune in tomorrow when I share with you 4 almost-free projects in this room!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Room Painting Tips: Learn From My Mistakes

My family has been out of town for a few days. Left home alone, I had to get my hands on a project, and , apparently a large bag of Tostitos. I decided to paint Molly's room as a surprise.

Why I took the plunge, I do not know, because when my mom did the same for me, I told her she ruined my life. She had light yellow wall to wall carpet installed in my room, but my 1983 chosen color palette was NOT yellow, but Dusty Rose and Sea Foam Green as in "Dusty Rose and Sea Foam Green! Dusty Rose and Sea Foam Green. How could you NOT KNOW THAT ABOUT ME?! MY LIFE IS OVER!"

Anyway, I guess I'm a glutton for punishment, because for the last 60 or so hours I've been busting my butt re-doing Molly's room. I'll show you pictures when my camera gets home from vacation, but if you are a praying person, please pray for me at 2:30 today when Molly gets home and sees it.

Since I hadn't painted a room in a while, I had forgotten or ignored several of my painting rules and reminders. Here they are in case you have an upcoming painting project:

1. When choosing a paint color, go one shade lighter on the paint strip. For instance, if you like "Tropicana Cabana" on a paint strip, hop over to "Jamaican Aqua." It will be in the same color palette, just a bit lighter. For the love of God. Please. Paint gets darker on the walls, and when you have four walls closing in around you, it can get pretty intense. Molly's soothing blue looks like the inside of a kiddie dental office with an "Under the Sea" theme.

2. When you tape the edges of the room, press the tape down securely, and go back and do this again when you paint each section. I had some paint seepage behind my tape, which of course is more evident WHEN YOU PAINT WITH A BLINDINGLY VIVID COLOR.

3. When pouring paint into your tray, use a pour spout, or use a hammer and nail to make a hole down into the rim of the paint can to let the paint drain. I didn't do that this time, and had a drippy, messy can.

4. Speaking of messy, be sure to secure your dog during the painting process. You know the song that goes, "Me and You and a Dog Named Blue?" Well, Shadow is looking like a "Tropicana Cabana" right now.

5. If you have to paint the ceiling, consider using paint that goes on pink, then dries white. I did this for the first time and it made it so much easier to see where I had been. I think it's worth the extra money.

6. Empty the room if possible. I was home alone and was unable to do this, so I spent a lot of time climbing over furniture, teetering and tottering, and using choice language. This added to my stress and painting time. I also had a little incident in which I hammered the primer lid shut and sent a spray of primer onto Molly's new bedspread and ottoman. If I had been able to clear out the room, this would not have happened. By the way, Microfiber rocks! A damp towel and Molly will be none the wiser.

7. If attempting to move heavy furniture out by yourself, please reconsider. You might end up with 3 deep gouges in the floor from the bookcase (Tom's going to kill me!) and a bad-back relapse. Where did I put those *$#!@#! Magic Sliders? Try plastic drop cloths over everything instead.

8. Oh, and please, before painting, take off your good shorts. Seriously. If you think there will be no drips or other mishaps, think again! However, if you leave your shorts on, and they get "Tropicana Cabana-d," at least you don't need to take the paint swatch to Jo Ann's Fabric when you are looking for accessories.

9. If you are using latex paint and have to stop for a while because, well, you need to go to work or something, you do not need to clean your brushes or rollers. Wrap them in a damp paper towel, then aluminum foil, and put in the fridge. They'll be ready when you are even a few days later.

Well, I'm off to do some last minute touches on the room.

And about that praying thing? I'm serious.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Midweek Musings, In List Form

1. I can not seem to finish a single project these days. Everything I'm working on has one little detail missing. Yet do I finish it before moving to the next thing? Of course not.

2. Irony alert: I am fixing up classic, sturdy, vintage furniture to sell so I can make money to re-do my daughter's room with items made primarily of particle board.

3.When hammering the lid on a can of primer, you first might want to move your daughter's brand new comforter and fabric ottoman out of the way.

4. If Joe Kennedy was indeed as driven and ambitious a father as depicted in "The Kennedys" I feel sorry for all of his children.

5. Lo and behold, Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes are 100% believable in the roles of JFK and Jackie. I would not have believed this had I not seen it myself.

6. I do not see how the Kennedys had the time and energy for all of those extramarital affairs. I mean, I know they didn't cable back then, but it just sounds exhausting.

7. Watching a miniseries on Netflix can keep one from completing projects.

8. Speaking of projects, when someone cuts wood for you at Home Depot, be sure to measure it before you take it home. Aargh.

9. While I now admit that the Pump2Fit is a waste of time and money, rolling paint on a ceiling, while tedious, is good for those cafeteria-lady arms.

10. As I picked up some new propane at Home Depot today, I realized I am ever so grateful to be part of a propane cylinder exchange rather than a needle exchange.

What are you musing over today?