west elm

Master Bedroom Progress

It's hard to believe that we've owned this house for 2 years.  It's almost hard to remember what it looked like in here when we bought it.

Take for instance, one of my more recent projects: the master bedroom.

Here's what it looked like before:

Dark red carpet, orange-y wood trim, and lace curtains.  It's a distant memory!

After we moved in, it looked like this for a long time.  We replaced the lace curtains with bamboo shades early on, but our nightstands were closet organizers (leftover from my makeshift college desk) for over a year.

And here's what it looks like now.

The color inspiration for the room came from this bird pillow that my paternal grandmother made.  My initial plan was to paint the room mint green but I ended up settling with a lighter shade of yellow green (SW 7728 Sprout) to coordinate with the leaves in the textile.

Truthfully, I'm still not totally sold on the color (it's looks kind of lime-y sometimes) but am feeling infinitely better about it since spotting this amazing bird print at Ikea.  The background color on the print on the far left is, coincidentally, exactly the color of the walls and the piece overall ties in the rest of the room.

In addition to the wall color, another major change to the room are the wardrobe cabinets on either side of the bed.  I love these.  They were part of my plan for the room since the day I first laid eyes on the closet.  I had seen similar wardrobe installations by other bloggers (like this) and thought they would be the perfect way to add extra storage, while creating a cozy, built-in feeling.

These particular cabinets are part of the Besta series from Ikea which is a more versatile line that can be used for anything from media storage to clothes storage.  I selected these because they fit our space and ceiling height better than some of their other traditional wardrobe lines.  They're not quite deep enough for side-by-side clothes hanging but are great for folded sweaters, jeans, etc.

I opted for a smaller door at the bottom and a few open shelves in the middle for accessories and nightstand items.  Eventually, I'd like to find wallpaper to line the back of the shelves with.  I'm thinking something like this.

The only downside to these particular cabinets was that they weren't quite wide enough to reach the edge of the bed.  We ended up purchasing a new, low platform bed frame (Ikea Malm) to accommodate the bird print above the bed and were having a hard time finding small, low nightstand solutions to fill the 11" gap on either side.

My solution was to use a small antique table that I inherited from my grandparents on one side and stack some books on the other side (a la the January 2014 edition of the West Elm Catalog).

In the way of clothes storage, we're still using the mid-century modern dressers that I've had since childhood.

My dad built them from a kit in the 60's and they're really in need of some TLC.  I'm thinking about trying a gel stain on them.

Then, of course, there's the closet.  It needs a new rod but it's looking much more upscale these days since we replaced our mismatched hangers with brand new wooden ones.

On my dresser, I store my makeup brushes in an upcycled silver cream pitcher.

My necklaces are hung on an antique ladder which makes them both easy to retrieve and doubles as art!

Speaking of art -- on this side of the room, I hung my maternal grandparents' curio cabinet (filled with a few pieces of my paternal grandparents' stationery from their time in Uruguay), a print of my favorite childhood restaurant, and an antique print of our alma mater which I think belonged to my Great Uncle Bill.

On this wall, I hung a beautiful custom piece by my talented uncle, Ted Lind, which was given to us as a wedding gift.

Adjacent to the closet is a handpainted portrait of my dad (as I prefer to remember him) at the age of 6.

It was commissioned by my grandparents when they lived in Poland.

In the master bathroom, we've only made a few minor updates.  This is what it looked like before:

Not too bad, but nothing spectacular.

We decided to replace the toilet (which was kind of an ordeal - don't order plumbing fixtures off the internet!) because the old one was leaking.  I also installed some glass shelves over the toilet because we have no under sink storage.  Eventually, I'd like to at least replace the sink with a shallow vanity and repaint.

Altogether, it's coming along.  There are still a few things on my to do list but it's definitely an improvement!

Humorous Hand Dipped Candles

On Thursday, one of my best friends from high school, Dan, came down to visit one last time before he makes the big move to San Francisco.  Amongst our adventures of the day, we decided to try making candles to put in my beautiful new candelabra: this Manzanita Candelabra from West Elm.

I had been admiring this piece in the West Elm catalog ever since it arrived in my mailbox but the price was outrageous ($99).  There was no way I was going to spend that much on a candle holder.  I wondered for awhile if there was some way that I could make one myself with a tree branch and some spray paint but I couldn't think of a good way to secure the candles.  Plus, I thought it would be somewhat of a fire hazard to use a real wood tree branch (the Manzanita is made of nickel and aluminum).  So in the midst of the after-Christmas sales, I happened to log on to westelm.com and much to my surprise, found the candelabra on the clearance page for nearly 50% off!  Add to that the 20% off coupon code I had and I snagged it.  It's a good thing I did because later that day, it was completely out of stock.  The only problem was that the "mini taper candles" intended for use in the candelabra were already sold out when I placed my order.  At the time, I thought that I could just go to Michael's and buy some of their 6" taper candles...until I actually got the candelabra.  The candle holders are only .3 inches in diameter -- definitely not a standard candle size.  After shopping around for usable candles, I was at a loss.  That's when my sister suggested I should look for hand dipped candles.  So I thought, why not make them?

Thursday afternoon, Dan and I took another trip to Michael's and picked up some candlemaking supplies - 1 lb. of soy wax chips and 6 ft. of wick material.  After we checked out behind lead singer of Parachute and Charlottesville native, Will Anderson (who was very cleverly "disguised" in black skinny rockstar jeans, pointy boots, and black sunglasses), we headed back to the apartment to start the candle making process.  We looked up some directions online, grabbed a pot, an old soup can, and some wax paper and got to work.

Step 1 was melting the wax in a double boiler-type setup in the old soup can, letting the wax cool a bit, and coating the wicks.  No big deal. 

The hardest part was trying to keep the wicks straight.  We found that the easiest way to do this at this stage was just to lay the wicks down on some wax paper and pull them before they dried completely.

The next step was actually dipping the candles.  This is where we ran in trouble.  Problem #1 - Though we were attempting to monitor the temperature of the wax with a thermometer, it took us an embarrasingly long time to realize that even though the burner was on the lowest setting, the wax was still too hot (by embarrasingly long time, I mean probably over an hour and after dipping the candles over 50 times with minimal results).  Once we finally had enough sense to turn the burner off and let the wax cool, we saw some serious progress.  Problem #2 - Because we were too impatient to actually let the wax dry, we started dipping the candles in ice water to help them cool.  For some reason, during our initial dipping phase, we started seeing wax accumulation on the areas on the wick that were touching the ice...and only those areas.

The end result was some oddly lumpy (and pretty crooked)candles.  These were certainly not what we remembered our hand-dipped candles looking like on Colonial Day in the fourth grade...

In the end, we had to do some creative widdling and shove the candles into their holders...but they fit.  The result wasn't exactly what I was hoping for but somehow the handmade candles are sort of appropriate.  The "organic" shapes that the candles took not only speak to our candlemaking process but they also mimic the organic style of the candelabra itself.  They're far from perfect but it was a pretty fun experiment.  For the record, I'll definitely consider buying finished candles next time.