Monthly Archives: October 2010

Call me names! {you just might win}

As I mentioned at the beginning of the week, I’m spending every waking non-work moment getting ready to open an Etsy shop. I’ll be selling some handmade items both for the home and for pets. My products will vary, but they’ll all either provide

  • Fun and fashionable reusable alternatives to more wasteful mainstream products
  • Upcycled, and again fashionable, items for the home

I’m really torn on what name to choose, as once you set up your shop on Etsy you can not change the name. I initially wanted the name “Flourish,” as it was my idea was to create items that add a bit of a flourish to the home, but that’s taken – both on Etsy and online. I’m also trying to choose something that could eventually migrate to an independent online presence.

With that in mind, please take a moment to let me know what name stands out to you, and if it’s not one on my list – well by all means feel free to suggest another! And because I’m always a fan of bribery, I’ll sweeten the deal, too – if you come up with a new name, and I end up using it, I’ll give you a $25 credit in my Etsy shop when it opens!

Update/Change of plans:  I want everyone who votes to have a shot at the $25 credit in my Etsy shop, so here’s the new plan:

If you choose one of the names I created, leave a comment below to let me know you voted.  If you’d like to suggest a name, please do so in the comments section, so that I can see who suggests what.  Then, after I choose my name, I’ll use to choose a winner.

I know it’s not the simplest process, but I’m new at this poll thingymagig.

[polldaddy poll=”4006425″]

And PS:  If you haven’t yet entered my rental-friendly decor giveaway, you’ve got until 8 pm EST today!

Backyard & Patio Makeover: Part 2

With our dining room table relocated to a flat spot in our backyard, we had a lovely, empty, covered back porch to play with.  Wahoo!  Time to make an outdoor living room, and just in time for fall.

We may not have installed the back patio we’d dreamed up, but a cozy outdoor living space was even more exciting, because we love nothing more than curling up outside to enjoy both good rainstorms and clear, cool weather.

But first, here’s what it looked like before the furniture-moving adventures:

And here it is now:
Those two recycled plastic rugs that didn’t work so well as a mudcover ended up being the perfect size for our porch.  We topped it with a pair of old This End Up chairs that we found on Craigslist for a whopping $5 total.  Yeah, you read that right!  I’ve always hated the old wood-crate style furniture like these chairs, but when brainstorming cheap outdoor furniture ideas they suddenly seemed like the perfect option.  Here’s why:

  1. Their simple wooden construction and loose pillows (even the sofas and loveseats) make them easy to weatherproof:  simply apply an outdoor-grade polyurethane coating to the wooden bits and recover the chair cushions in outdoor fabric.  (That’s our plan.)
  2. They’re actually darn comfy.
  3. Most importantly, they’re so unwanted that people are practically giving them away on Craigslist.  Either that, or asking wayyyy too much for them, in which case you just wait, and try again in a few weeks when they’ve realized their “beautiful classic This End Up living room set” is no longer worth $700.

We’d like to eventually find a matching loveseat or sofa, but for now the chairs suffice.

Though the $5 chair pair is not part of our Ikea outdoor furniture set, it matches pretty well – thanks to its natural wood construction.  We pushed together two ottomans (that I bought thinking they were end tables) to create a long, low coffee table that has already served us well at many a small gathering.  And between the two chairs we’ve placed Ryan’s vintage chrome and Lucite lamp.  It’s funny, the lamp became part of the patio by accident.  We certainly didn’t intend to put it out there, but one night I grabbed it to use when we simply  couldn’t see our guests after the sun set.  It didn’t really have a place in the new house, what with all the recessed lighting – so it just sort of made itself at home and stayed out on the porch.

So there you have it, our simple outdoor living space.  It won’t win any design awards anytime soon, but it was affordable, and it’s cozy as heck.

This spring I’d love to add some hanging lighting, as well as long drapes to glam up the space (tied back to each of the posts, of course), and make coordinating weatherproof cushions for all the chairs.  But in the meantime, well – we’re happy just the way it is.

There’s one more part to our outdoor makeover.  Stay tuned!

Crafting a [Floor] Plan

Yesterday, when I shared Part 1 of my Backyard & Patio Makeover, Amanda from Hip House Girl asked:

What program did you use to design that diagram of your back yard?

The answer?  I used Floorplanner, a free online planning tool which is my I-love-to-move-furniture dream come true.  I discovered it shortly before we moved to this new house.  It’s awesome!!!  During our walk-through with the landlord, I measured all the 1st floor spaces, and was thus able to plan out the space prior to moving in.

Then, after we moved in and were inspired to design a patio for the backyard, I simply added it to the existing plan:

As you can see, I really like to plan ahead for a move.  That’s why I also planned out our new kitchen before the move, which only required a bit of text editing in Picasa:

So aside from recommending Floorplanner, here’s a little tip for those of you moving to a new space: Before doing the final pre-renting walk-through with the landlord, I sketched each room out in a bare-bones (and not-to-scale) diagram of the 1st floor in PowerPoint, so that all I had to do was measure walls and windows and jot them down on the Powerpoint sketch.  It made the whole measuring process much easier – I’d say it took me and Ryan about 2 minutes per room.

How do you plan?  Or are you more of a move-in-and-wing-it kinda gal (or guy)?

New reader?  Here are some of my other moving tips.  

Backyard & Patio Makeover: Part 1

I’ve been keeping our backyard/patio progress a secret from you!  Here’s a quick recap since it’s been months since I discussed the space:

  1. In the end of August I shared our grand plans for installing a patio off our back porch, with the $400 cost being split between us and our landlord.
  2. One week later we put the brakes on that plan when we realized we’d underestimated the costs by about $350.
  3. We set about figuring out a new, much less expensive solution for our backyard / patio dilemma.

Here’s the problems we were trying to tackle with that plan:

  1. Our back porch was just a tad too small for people to sit at all sides of our outdoor dining table.  In other words, there was always a danger of someone pushing their chair back from the table and falling off the side of the porch.
  2. The ground directly around our back porch and back of house was muddy and uneven, making it less than ideal for setting the dining table on – not to mention it looked just plain ugly when entertaining!
  3. We wanted a fire-safe space on which to use our above-ground fire pit.
  4. The area along the back of the house, where the trash cans and hose sat, was not draining well – creating yet more mud for the dogs to splash in.

Part 1:  Creating an outdoor dining table space.

We decided to throw an outdoor rug down over the scrubby area, in the hopes that it would make it look better, keep the mud off the dogs’ feet, and define a space upon which to set the dining table.  When I found this tough and colorful recycled plastic rug on Amazon (no longer available), I knew I’d found a winner  – because, according to Gaiam (the company that sells it), it was “handcrafted by Thai artisans who receive a fair wage for their craft.”  Hello, fair labor rugs!  And at $39 for a 4×6, it was affordable, too!  (If only my living room rug search was that easy.)

Because 4×6 was the only size offered at the time (they now offer a a 6×9 for $89), we ordered two rugs.  We couldn’t have been happier with the purchase.  However, our scrubby ground was so uneven that they looked awful when laid over it.  Backup Plan Fail.

So we tried a 3rd approach.  We just plopped the dining table and chairs down on a flatter area of the yard, still near the back porch, and called it a day – with the “making a spot for the dining table” part of the plan, at least.  Maybe it wasn’t the most glamorous outdoor dining space, but it was perfectly functional.  And for a couple of renters, it was good enough – at least until next spring.

So that’s the first – and least exciting – stage of the backyard & patio makeover.  It’s time for me to hit the sack.  Stay tuned for the next installment, when I’ll show off our new outdoor living room, and share how we put those two rugs to good use!