Thursday, May 31

Little Chubby Duckling

This, my friends, is an all original crochet pattern I created for a chubby little stuffed duckling. He is for sale on my Etsy site, Shanx Studios, along with the pattern. I am considering posting how-to crochet tips, and maybe even a pattern or two, on my blog. What do we think?

I just love little crochet stuffed animals. They're so lovable and handmade. These little guys are getting more and more popular in the crochet world, it seems. From the strangest creatures you can imagine to traditional critters, "amigurumi" seems to have it all. Personally, I generally prefer the more traditional.

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Fairy Bedroom Turned LIVABLE

In June of 2011, I moved in with my cousin in her childhood home. I had my choice of four abandoned bedrooms, all of which desperately needed some TLC before they were truly "livable." I chose a room that actually appeared the worst, but this room had some key features: it was nestled between the kitchen and another bedroom, meaning it would stay well insulated; it faced the backyard rather than the front; and it had four square walls as opposed to some of the other rooms with funky angles. I knew I could spruce the room up with some paint and elbow grease, and it turned out wonderfully!

When I moved in, the room had purple carpet, was entirely painted periwinkle (I mean entirely -- walls, ceiling, and trim), and had fairy stickers adorning the walls. That's not even mentioning the plethora of STUFF filling the room, abandoned by the previous resident. My cousin and I got right to work cleaning out the clutter, donating things to charity, tossing junk, and moving things to the attic for more permanent storage. Simply cleaning the room made a massive difference in itself:

Next, I removed all the molding as it was peeling away from the walls anyway, and the majority of the case molding (molding around door and window frames) was poorly cut to begin with. With the molding out of the way, I painted the ceiling with a flat white ceiling paint. I used a great formula that goes on in a color and dries white, making it easy to see what you've painted and what you've missed if you're going over an already white ceiling. Painting the ceiling white made the small room seem bigger right away, and looked so much fresher than the previous shade of purple. 

Then, using an edge tool and long handled paint roller, I quickly painted over the walls in a lovely shade of aqua. By some lucky coincidence, I found the wall paint for a bargain at $5; someone had returned the paint previously and it was just the shade I was looking for! I used a satin finish latex paint. I'm not a big fan of semi-gloss or gloss paints, as I think they reflect too much interior light and highlight wall blemishes. 
When the painting was done, I ripped up the purple carpet that had been serving as my drop cloth. The process was more intense than I had expected, having to pry up old tack strips from the floor with a cro-bar, and then pulling hundreds of staples out with needle nose pliers -- but it was so worth it! Underneath that hideous carpeting was a beautiful, honey colored hardwood floor! I cleaned the floor with Murphy Oil to restore the wood's sheen, and voila! 
Next, I bought new, modern casing for the doors and window. I painted that and the old base molding (around the base of the room) bright white to give the room crisp edges. I also added toe molding, or quarter-round, below the base molding to fill the gap between the bottom of the molding and the wood floor (the gap did not exist when there was carpeting). 

Finally! The bones of the room were complete and I could begin adding furniture and accessories. I arranged my bed in the corner to maximize available space, lined my dresser up with a salvaged blue print table serving as my TV stand, and created a work space with a table and mounted storage cabinet from IKEA. Rather than a nightstand, I installed a floating shelf next to my bed to hold tissue, remotes, and beverages. I also replace the traditional closet door with a sheer curtain. This allowed me to use the space outside of the closet for my desk without requiring space to open a swinging door, while still closing off the closet in a sense. Toss in window treatments, bedding and a small area rug, and we're done! The final product looks nothing like it did when I first saw the room. It's lovely! 

Too often we give up on things that look ugly or forlorn, sealing them to an abandoned fate, but everything can be fixed! Anything can be made beautiful again! Sure sometimes restoring something would take more work than we would care to partake in or more financial resources than seem reasonable, but anything is possible. If this disastrous bedroom could be transformed into a peaceful, mult-ifunctioning space, anything can.
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