Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday (P)inspiration: Organized & Beautiful

I'm an organization junkie. I just can't get enough of it [and yet, I'm never organized... go figure]. This week I'm doing a big project, and its success will change my life forever [how's that for drama?]. In the meantime, I've been scouring Pinterest for inspiration and here's what I've found! As always, each photo is linked to its source.
Yes, technically I've already showcased this space... but it was from a different angle so it totally doesn't count! I actually had no idea how tiny this space was... now I love it even more!

Wire baskets. I'm in love. They look industrial and vintage and everything else that is wonderful!

I still remember when I saw this office for the first time in BH&G. It was love [and jealousy, if I'm being totally honest] at first sight. Gasp. *Sigh* 'Nuff said.

What a great huge frame. I would totally put a fabric-covered homasote board in there and have the biggest, baddest bulletin board in the history of E.V.E.R. :)

Look at these adorable little tags that have been painted with chalkboard paint! I'm totally doing this. But I'd have to label my baskets J1, J2, J3 & J4 [Junk basket 1, Junk basket 2, etc.!]

This is the rock-star of armories. This is my goal. This is my dream.

If you do projects that involve fabric, then you have leftover pieces of fabric. If you're like me then you can't get rid of them "just in case."  Here's an awesome idea for storing that fabric!
Hopefully you've been inspired... hopefully I've been inspired because I've got A LOT of work ahead of me this week!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Today I'm Salvaging: A Weeknight Valentine's Dinner

I'm guessing that I'm not alone on this one: it's Valentine's Day [woo-hoo!] but it's also Tuesday [boo]... and last time I checked no one gets the day off of work or school on Valentines Day which means life goes on as usual.
 Soooo... will I be dining at a romantic restaurant with my super hero hubby? [most likely not] ...will I be driving my son to basketball practice or my daughter to ballet? [most likely yes]. And there lies the typical mom's Valentine's Day challenge: how to turn a typical weeknight meal into something special [and do it quickly]. 
I was recently presented with the opportunity to take the Bertolli's Make a Weeknight Meal Special Challenge. My first thought was, "Hmmm probably not. I love their meals, but Salvage Savvy isn't a food blog." Then I changed my mind for one reason: because of what Salvage Savvy is.  I write each post with the hope of inspiring my fabulous readers [that's you!] to get creative and turn the ordinary into something extraordinary... and that's exactly what this challenge is about! With that in mind, I had exactly one hour to turn a typical weeknight meal into something spectacular.

My Menu:
Bertolli's Tomato Florentine & Tortellini with Chicken Meal Soup
Cesar Salad
Garlic Bread
Brazilian Lemonade
*I found this on Pinterest, so follow the link if you'd like a recipe

I'm thinking you know how to make Cesar Salad or Garlic Bread, but you might not have ever made Brazilian Lemonade. It' is a little drink that's perfect for those "fancy-pants" dinners! We love it because it's sweet and refreshing, but also cold and creamy. YUM! It doesn't take long, but makes any meal feel special. Here's the recipe:

Brazilian Lemonade
5 T lime juice [did you know that in Brazil a lime is called a lemon?]
1/2 C Sugar
3 T sweetened condensed milk
3 C water

1. Put first 4 items into blender. 2. Just before serving, add ice and blend, then serve immediately.

Now for Ambiance [it's a candle light picnic!]:
Candles [flame-less if you've got little ones running around]
Pillows for lounging

Spread-out your tablecloth in the living room, arrange candles as you please, throw down the pillows for comfort, turn off lights, start your music and you're done! Sit back and enjoy your simple, super fast and soooo delicious Valentine's dinner. I promise that this will be a night that the kiddos or hubby will never forget, and I did everything in an hour... ambiance & all, not bad!
Here's what you need to know about Bertolli's Meal Soup selections:
1. One bag of soup was more than enough for two people. [I wasn't sure because it comes in a fairly small bag... but my super hero hubby and I were stuffed after this meal!]
2. This soup was delicious. I promise. It was really, really good restaraunt- quality soup and I will be getting it again [seriously.]  
3. It was so easy to make, put it in a pan on the stove, stir occasionally and that's it.
4. I was compensated by Bertolli to participate in the Weeknight Meal Special Challenge, but the ideas and opinions were 100% mine, and this is my 100% honest opinion!!

To learn more about their products, visit Bertolli's website

or check-out their Bertolli's Facebook page!
And of course you can find them on Twitter as well

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How to Build Inexpensive Floating Shelves

Open Shelving in a kitchen is wonderful, and we installed these two floating shelves for around $30! Here's how:

First, purchase a hollow-core door [yes, I said door!!] I plan to devote an entire post just to sing the praises of these doors... I've used them in sooo many projects, they are wonderful for any thrifty DIYer.]
Hollow-core doors are inexpensive and come in various widths so choose one that is the width of the shelves you want to hang because you are going to cut off the top & bottom of this door for your shelves. They give you a completely finished edge, so it's a great idea! Now we wanted 3ft. shelves, so we used a 3 ft. door. [Or, if you have room for really long shelves you could use the sides of the door instead!]

 Next, decide the depth of shelves you want [I don't recommend anything deeper than 10"] and measure and mark everything out on your door. Once you've measured twice [so you only have to cut once], cut the door using a circular saw [make sure to tape where you are cutting to help avoid splitting the wood]. 
Remove the cardboard reinforcement that is found inside the door [see below] by scraping it off with a chisel.
Now it's time to cut your cleats from a 2x4. To get the correct size, you'll want to measure the space between the outer veneers of the door. Mine was 1"  Using a straight edge, cut your 2x4 down to the appropriate size. Make sure this is a really nice, straight cut [yes, it's important].  Check to make sure that the door [well... now I guess it's a shelf!] slides easily over your cleat while maintaining a snug fit. 

[Sorry, no photos of this step] Next, you'll need to find the studs in your wall using a studfinder. Mark them, and [using a level and straight edge] draw a straight line where you want your shelves. Once you know where they are, predrill holes into the studs and then hold your cleat on your straight line and drill into the cleat too. Using a wrench, install a lag screw through your cleat and into each stud until it's tight against the wall. [You MUST have at least 2 studs, but you already knew that, right?!]  And of course, double & triple check that everything is level as you work [but you already knew that... right?!]. Now you have [an ugly] board securely screwed onto your wall.

Now do a dry fit onto the wall to see if you have any areas to sand. You want the shelf to fit perfectly against the wall. When everything is right, use carpenter's glue on the top of your cleat and the bottom of your board and slip the shelf onto the board [immediately clean-up any glue that may ooze out]. Now- just using glue "ain't gonna cut it" if you want a secure shelf. Therefore, for additional support, screw the shelf onto your cleat. We simply used screws every 2 inches along the top and and bottom of our shelf as shown in the photo below. Yes, you've got screws showing now, but they really aren't noticable [at all].  If the screws really bother you then simply fill them with putty before painting. Obviously they didn't bother me. [And for the record, I'm really regretting that quick paint job now... never noticed it until taking this photo! It would be best to paint before installing them so do as I say, not as I do!]

And that's it- your shelves are complete! Enjoy :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Monday (P)inspiration: Color of the Year 2012

Pantone Tangerine Tango is the official color of 2012. Although I'm not a big fan of trends, it just so happens that I am a big fan of Tangerine [and have been for the past few years]. Here are some great rooms on Pinterest that show the versatility and cheerfulness of this color!
Such a gorgeous dining room. Now imagine it with white chairs. It would still be amazing, but those tangerine chairs add so much energy and life to the room!

I love, love [love] that chair. And notice the bookcase: it's a perfect example of how to make a bookcase look amazing. It has tangerine accents that tie into the room decor and it starts-out decorative on top [where your eye is automatically drawn]. Then notice the bottom two shelves: completely functional [stacked books/mags], but with art placed in front to keep it interesting.   

I love the tangerine accents in this room because those boxes add color without taking over the space. Just lovely.

That rug [I want one!].

This room is a great example of how to add color without commitment. If you want to keep-up with trends without breaking the bank redecorating, here's the perfect room for you! Change-out a few pillows and accent pieces and you're done.

I just love this. Why not paint your organizational area such a bright, cheery color?! Maybe that's what it will take for me to actually put things away!!! 

So, there are a few ideas for incorporating Tangerine into your decor without letting it take over... it's a great color [no matter what year it is!!].

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Room to Grow: Decorating a Boy's Bedroom

The time had come... the room that I created for my kids when they were toddlers just didn't work anymore for my [almost] eight year old son. You see, my son and daughter shared a room from birth until the oldest turned six [I highly recommend this for all parents of young children regardless if they are the same sex or not. I wanted them to truly bond and I really didn't want any "NO BOYS/GIRLS ALLOWED" attitudes... so this was my solution. It worked. They are super [super] close... so far!]. Anyway, my son was finally ready for a change. Just not too much of a change. So here is the journey we took to create a pre-tween room that will grow with him.
Here's a quick little "before" moment. [I would have more before photos for you... but my laptop crashed and we haven't retrieved any photos from it. Frankly, I'm too sad to think about it so I'm in denial right now.] Anyway, I painted the bunk beds a dark espresso color which made them look a hundred times better. Then we had a little [ahem...] discussion about the polka dot walls. He wanted to keep them, and yet... he wanted them to be different [ummmm. Say what? I promise that my kids always prove to be my most difficult clients every time!].
So we kept them [kind of]. I repainted almost every. single. one. Fun, fun, fun [sarcasm], but I must admit that they look pretty darn good in the new subdued and more sophisticated color scheme so I'm glad we kept them! Then we began the task of decorating. I did this room on an EXTREMELY small budget, so here's a little recap of the DIY projects that were involved. First, I made "HI" for his room because if you know my son, then you know he loves that word. Not sure why, but it's his favorite word... so it's only appropriate to greet his "guests" with a giant Hi! Read Think Outside the Box: Beyond Initials to see how I made this industrial looking welcome sign out of paper mache. Also, check out Add Detail to Plain Roman Shades to see how I did a quick [and super inexpensive] update to his previously plain white shade.
Then I made a little reading corner for him [let's just call it that... but I can't actually say that he reads there. Come on, how many boys actually use a reading nook?! I usually trip over him in the living room floor when he's "sprawled out" with a good book!] Anyway, I love this spot... however it's used! I hung paper lanterns [which were in his old room too] to play off of the polka dots.
I also created a little area to showcase the things that are near and dear to this boy's heart: sports and horses. I [reluctantly] started a sports gallery wall for him, but now I love it and can't wait to add more great action shots in the future! Here are my tips for creating an interesting display in Do You Display Them?

I also think it's really important to display kids' art whenever possible. I still recall when my dad had a chalk drawing of mine professionally framed and hung in our kitchen when I was twelve. It was amazing! In the same spirit, I framed and displayed some art that worked in his room. I also created an area for him to rotate his own artwork in and out as he pleases. This fabric-covered bulletin board was super easy to make. BTW- isn't that tree great?! Yup. He's an awesome artist.
Alright, so this photo isn't the best, but that shiny thing on the wall is a lamp. While on Pinterest one day I saw a tricked-out, high end bunk bed. Among other fabulous features, it had wall sconces for each level. I showed  my son and he was IN LOVE! We happened to have a plug-in swivel arm wall sconce that wasn't being used so I hung it up and made his day. Night light. Reading light. Make sure there are no monsters in the night light. No matter what, he's covered!!
And we can't forget that I gave his dresser a not-so-ordinary makeover using magnetic paint. Read Make Kids' Dressers Fun with Magnetic Paint to see what I did. *Design note: I'm not thrilled with the fabric on his bulletin board. I went ahead and used it because I haven't found anything better... but it may be changing soon.*

I was also thrilled to get rid of his toy box [also known as the black hole where all toys fall to the bottom never to be seen again!]. I replaced it with three super inexpensive under-the-bed storage bins. If you want to know more about them you can find out in my Crap with Potential post.
 And that's it! I am really, really pleased with the end result. This room totally shows his personality, and I was able to get the job done for less than $200.  Not bad. He's happy. I'm happy. It's a room that will grow with him [not sure how long the polka dots will stay... but we'll see!]. Mission accomplished.

And I had to throw this photo in too. Here's why my photo shoots take so long- my design "assistant" keeps trying to steal my camera :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Concrete Counter Top Tutorial

Finally, the long awaited how-to post [and quite possibly my longest post ever!].

Of course, I must begin this with a caution: if you choose to make your own concrete counter tops, please do all kinds of research before beginning. In this post I will tell you step by step what we did [and it worked great for us]. However, before you begin a huge endeavor like this, I want you to be fully equipped with all kinds of knowledge. My dad [who is now retired] had a construction business for a million years [give or take a year], and he was kind enough to talk us through the project- so I felt confident. I want you to feel confident too!
So, without further adieu... here's what we did:
1.Call a concrete finisher [What?! This is supposed to be a DIY project!]. Trust me, it [mostly] is- but here's the thing: finishing concrete is an art. We were going to do it all ourselves, then at the last minute my dad called his concrete guy and asked him to finish it instead. At first I was like, "Hmmm. I was gonna do it, that's more $$ to spend!" But... then I watched him moving that trowel thingy around like a true artist and I was like, "OMG[oodness], I'm so glad I didn't try to do that myself." So here's my suggestion- find someone who will finish the concrete but is willing to let you do the grunt work [make the forms, mix and haul the concrete, pour it... trust me, you'll still have plenty to do].  This will save you a TON of cash, but you'll still get a beautiful finished product.
2.Purchase your concrete [get the good stuff, it's not very expensive] and rent a mixer [trust me... you'll wish you had one if you don't].
3. Build your forms. This part was H.A.R.D. [hope you like math...]
  • Take all measurements and then remove existing counter tops. Lay down 1"x12" boards on cabinets [lengthwise]. You will have to piece them together and cut boards to the appropriate length for your cabinets. You are creating the base for your counters, so make sure that your boards are flush with the sides of the cabinets.[you can just barely see the wood board in the photo below. That's what you want] When you're finished with this part it will look like you have a wooden plank counter top. At this point, you need to do all necessary cut-outs [like your sink]. You need to know the size & shape of your sink as well as the faucet placements, so if you haven't purchased one yet, do it now! Under mount sinks come with a pattern- use a jigsaw to cut that pattern out in your planks. Also, be sure to cut necessary holes for faucets or any additional special features that require access through your counter top.  
  • Now you'll need 1"x1 1/4" boards [that's the size we used... you can use a different size if you want different overhang dimensions]. These boards will form the bottom edge of your counter top as shown in the photo above. Use drywall screws to secure theses boards right to your cabinets [this might freak you out... I was going to paint my cabinets anyway so I was fine with it. However, the holes were tiny and not noticeable anyway... even if you aren't painting, you could easily use pre-tinted wood filler and never notice the holes.]. If you have an over hang [as shown here in the photo below] then there is no cabinet to secure your bottom board to, so you'll need a 1"x4" board instead. Then you can simply screw up into the 1"x12" board [as shown... it's been painted grey] for support. You'll also want to place a 2"x4" board on the floor and build struts every 3 feet to shore-up the outer edge until the concrete is completely dry.  

  • Now it's time to add the board that will form the edge of your counter top. [See above photo] We used 1"x3 1/2" boards to get the thickness we wanted, and then secured them to the 1 1/4" boards that are already attached [screw them into the 1x1 1/4" boards]. Be sure to have a laser line to ensure everything is level throughout this process.  Also, be sure to check that the top of your forms are level [which will be the top of your counter top], so you don't end-up with a slanted counter. One more note: be sure to measure around your stove. We don't have any overhang around ours because there wasn't enough room [see above photo].
  • We also added rebar inside the counter for additional support. You don't want the rebar resting on the boards [because it's useless then], so screw in 1/2" screws into the planks and set the rebar on top of them [so it "floats"] every 2-3 ft.
  • Once our form was put together we taped each joint using packing tape [that clear stuff] in order to keep the concrete from running out the cracks. Make sure you tape the joints on your wooden planks too [you don't want it oozing into your cabinets]!
  • Note: where your cabinets join together it creates support for the counter top. Most cabinets are significantly less than 60" in width [mine were], but if you have a really long unsupported span [greater than 60"] then you'll need to put in a shoring strut [again, this is very unlikely... ask your concrete guy what that is if it applies to you!].
  • Now, where your counter meets the wall you'll want to chalk a straight line. Use the top of your forms to get the height [and make sure it's straight... that's super important]. Using that chalk line as your guide, nail a very thin 1/2" strip board to the wall. This will be the straight edge that your concrete finisher uses to keep everything in line so that you don't have a whompy back splash line [yes, he'll need it... don't forget this step!].  It can simply be removed once the concrete is poured & finished.
  • Now, back to your sink... it will have directions on how to mount, so follow those directions when prepping the area to make sure you can mount it in the end! If your sink has all square corners [LUCKY!], then you can simply use boards to create the form. However, our sink was curved so we used a piece of aluminum. It was flexible which allowed us to create curves. It's also really, really hard to do right, it took us a while.
  • The forms are now complete. [Whew!] 
5. You are ready to pour! Just before pouring we sprayed Pam on the inside of the wood forms [I know... weird]. This is a precautionary step to prevent the forms from sticking. Just make sure that you don't use any spray with sugar in it, because that will mess-up the concrete [not sure if they make sugar Pam... but just in case!]. Mix your concrete according to the directions on the bag. You want to pour it as dry as possible [if there's too much water then there's a greater risk of cracking when it dries]. Be sure to cover your floors to protect them from any spills or drips, then begin filling & hauling. We hauled it in buck by bucket, pouring it into the forms as directed by the professional. You'll work at his [or her] rate. Then I got to relax for a bit as he worked his magic. [halfway through the project we lost power. By then it was night so he had to work by candlelight... it was memorable to say the least!]. One note- make sure that your concrete finisher taps/shakes the forms often to cause a vibration. This will result in smoother edges.

6. Now you wait. And wait [and wish you had your kitchen sink]. And then wait some more. It will start to look dry after a day or two [but it's not yet]. You'll want to take those forms off, but don't for at least 4-5 days. You want it to be completely cured first.

7. Time to [finally] remove the forms [this part is SO exciting!]. Leave the bottom [the 1 1/4"] board on, though [I'll explain why in a minute]. You will be able to see the edges, and they may look a bit unfinished, with little holes and such. If it doesn't bother you, save yourself alot of hard work and  leave them just like that [you can remove the bottom board if you choose to skip this step]. If it does bother you... in order to finish them you'll need a bucket of water, a paint brush [just to fling the water], a small bowl of 2 parts mixed cement  [still wet, obviously] to 1 part sand mixture, a rubbing stone and P90X-like muscles [this part is SO miserable]. Fling water on the edge, add a little of your paste mixture and rub your stone in a circular motion [always moving down and in clockwise direction to avoid chipping the edge]. You'll create a concrete lather [yup, crazy right?!] and that lather fills in the little holes and smooths the edges. It feels like you're basically sanding concrete [even though technically it's a lather] soooo, yea. Have fun [sarcasm]. This was soooo not fun, but just get through it because it's worth it! [are you noticing a theme here?! I promise, it's like childbirth... you eventually forget the pain!]

8. Now it's time to... wait some more. Let your edges dry again [4-5 days]. Remove the last form and have a little Woo-Hoo party because the hard part is finished! Now you will wait another 6 or 7 days to stain your counter top. I don't recommend going to your typical hardware store for the stain. I went to a real concrete place to get the good commercial grade stuff [I totally didn't fit in at all either.. the construction guys stared at me like,  "why in the world would a concrete guy send his secretary to get his stain?" I don't think they see alot of DIY gals there!] Ask your concrete finisher where he gets his concrete materials, and that's where you'll want to go. Their were many color options, and the stain isn't cheap, but it's worth every penny [and you're still saving a ton of $$].  Ask the professionals all kinds of questions, just drive them crazy and make sure you get as much information as you can about this process! I used Lithochrome Chemstain Classic in Dark Walnut. It's a transparent stain, which I recommend if you want your counter top to have color variation.
9. Follow all  safety instructions listed on your stain when applying. I used chemical grade gloves and a cloth and just began rubbing the stain onto the concrete in really large, circular motions. The concrete will absorb the stain in a totally random and gorgeous way... I applied about 7 coats of stain... that's a ton, but I wanted my counter tops really dark so I just kept going until I achieved the color I wanted. If you prefer to stick with the natural concrete color then you can skip this entire step!
10. I installed my sink at this point. Yes... I went a very long time without a kitchen sink.
11. Let the whole thing completely dry again and then you can seal it. There are several options for sealing. You can use a wax [ask the concrete guys about it], or a concrete sealer. I went for option #2, but I might switch to the wax this time... I haven't decided yet. You can research your options there and choose what's best for you!
The whole thing took about a month from beginning to end and cost right around $500 for  46 square feet of counter top... which is just under $11 a square foot. Yes. It was worth it!! If you choose to make counter tops, then you will most likely have a question or two [or five thousand]. Feel free to email me or leave me a comment if you need additional information!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday (P)inspiration: Random Gorgeousness

I know, gorgeousness isn't a word. But that non-word describes these rooms perfectly. I decided not to have a topic this week... it's all just great eye candy! As always, each image is linked to its source [if I could locate it]. If a photo isn't linked up and you know its source, please let me know and I'll get it changed asap!!
I love the crisp, classic and ultra modern look of this room. I also like that it's a library and dining room... brilliant!
That chandelier. That mirror. The couch. Do you ever love a room so much that you pin it twice accidentally? I've pinned this one from two different angles, not realizing that it was the same room! Love, love [love] it all!

Neutral colors, industrial finishes and clean lines all combine perfectly to make a stunning kitchen. I want it!!

Alright. So much that I love about this little corner! The chair is amazing. That light is so much fun, but completely simple. The gallery wall is perfect. What a lovely moment for this room!

I may have included this on a (P)inspiration post already. [If so... let's just enjoy it again!] I just ooo & awwwe everytime I see this room. I love how they've used old materials in a very new, fresh new way. Such a stunning space...  

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