Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Painting inside the Lines.

I recently had a referral to someone looking to have me do a paint job in their nursery as they're expecting their first baby! She sent me this picture from Pottery Barn, wanting me to stencil one accent wall with this scallop/ribbon design. While I am more so used to free style murals and artistic painting and have never actually used a stencil, I figured my OCD would help me with something like this...turns out the first time at something will always be harder than expected...

Luckily, my client had found this blog posting about how to recreate this stencil and it ended up being a LOT of help. Check it out here. I bought blank stencil sheets and invested in a heated stencil cutter at Micheal's as well. This tool took some practice to master as it melts the plastic to cut it, making it easy to botch the design. Be patient with it and be prepared with back up stencil sheets (mylar).

I scaled out the design and made a CAD elevation drawing of the wall as it has a large window making for some difficult planning on scale and repeat of the stencil. From the elevation I determined I would make my stencil fit a 10" by 15" sheet. After printing the design (on 2 sheets to fit) I lined them up and traced it onto the mylar with a sharpie.

Then I used the fancy burner tool to cut out the design...

They had already done the base coat of Benjamin Moore's Iced Lavender and I took the Pearlized White to to the stencil.

While the level was mentioned in the directions on that blog, I canNOT stress the need for the level enough. Every time I took up the stencil and taped it back down, I put the level up to ensure all the scallops run perfectly vertical.

As the stencil was used at least 75 times on this one wall, the paint really caked up on it so I did a lot of freehand touch-up with a 1/4" paintbrush to ensure they really did look consistent.

Those windows were pretty tricky but patience was key and I love how much it looks like wallpaper!

With a happy client, I am pleased to say that my first venture into stenciling and having to stay within an actual restricted line (my stencil) turned out quite successfully! I can't wait for them to send me pictures with all their furnishings and the lil tot herself, Olivia!

Here's to more challenges like this one in the future! Bring it!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rising to the Storage Challenge.

Storage. That was the number one challenge when working on little Aiden's room (see here). Anybody with kids or designing around them will encounter this issue. Where do you put all the toys and clutter so that nothing distracts from your thoughtfully executed design? After unsuccessfully searching for an economical storage unit to fit in a small space in the room, I ran into this...at JoAnn Fabric no less...

While cubbie units like this are not hard to come by, it's what I did with it that is. A vertical unit is fine...if you've got the space...but I realized (after what was probably too long of a head-tilted-stare in this aisle) that I could repurpose this piece horizontally to meet all my needs! So here's how I did it!

Primer was the first step. I had a limited amount of leftover green wall paint I wanted to use on the piece and it's coordinating drawers so I used a standard primer from Lowes to soak into the raw oak so it wouldn't soak up my paint!

With the whole piece primed out, I had a 1/4" piece of plywood cut to just smaller than the dimensions of the new top to become the upholstered surface for the seating aspect. From there we marked 6 spots to drill holes to match up from the wood to the base.

Something called a T-nut was then used so that a screw could be drilled up threw the base into the top but not interfere with the smooth, cushion of the upholstered seat. T-nuts became my best friends. What a perfect find!

After the wholes where drilled with everything in the right spot, the more attractive green coat was applied to the pieces. The crevices are tricky and you HAVE to watch for goopy drips because those are just ugly...and I don't do ugly. Also make sure the first coat dries before you try to apply a second coat to ensure that 2nd one covers nicely.

To upholster the top, I wrapped a nice 1" thick foam piece over the top and staple gunned that in nice and taught. The next layer was a broadcloth material...if you don't want to buy any (even though its super cheap), you can use an old sheet and it works just as well. With that layer taught down, you have a better chance of getting any pattern on your finish fabric lined up and you'll use less of that decorative fabric as it won't have to work to stretch over anything.
Be sure to leave the T-nuts exposed and not stapled over so there is no problem drilling the pieces together. And don't be afraid with the staple gun. You can't really do too many.

After the piece was said and done, I added an accent of my chalkboard paint to the front of the drawers. I gave it 3 coats, taped off with painters tape, and it left a great, smooth surface to personalize the drawers with chalk for even better organization!

Now the room has a one-of-a-kind DIY storage bench. A perfect spot for this little tyke to sit and play and to clean up when he's done!

My Kiddie Coaster.

Having been out of school for just over a year now, I can tell you...it only gets better.

Starting into the creative industry, specifically interior design, in such a tough market and competitive field made for no easy feat. When I realized I was going to be taking a unique path into freelance work, I ran with the opportunity...and I haven't stopped runnin yet.

Starting small, of course, I have started in on projects here and there. Set design and painting, commissioned artwork, commercial Christmas decorations, wedding styling, and interior projects. Whatever I can get my hands on. As I've settled into a part time job with Calico Corners, learning the ropes of custom furnishings, window treatments, and fabrics, I found myself wondering if there was more I should be doing. With ambitious goals in mind, I needed affirmation that starting small, developing a portfolio, and getting whatever experience I could was just what I needed to do to jump-start my career...

After reading some encouraging words in a post on HGTV's blog...I encourage you to read it here...I realized I'm right where I am meant to be right now and doing exactly what I need to be doing...right now. There's a fun little rollercoaster in most career fields that you sort of have to bust into in order to ride. Any hiring companies out there seek experience...you can't get the experience until you've had a job...which loops you right back to not being able to find a job until you get that experience...are you wanting to hurl your corndog yet? Right.

Well a year later, I'm here to tell you there's hope. There may be other coasters in
the park that you've got to ride before you can graduate to the Titan or the Superman...or in my case, the Scooby ride, because, to be honest, I'm terrified of roller coasters...but I digress....there's HOPE. There may be something about summer but one referral from a friend has led to another and to another. One successful painting has led to another and another. And as I type this, gates have flown open for me and opportunities to ride my own coasters have come at me left and right.

This isn't meant to be boastful, nor is it meant to depress those with no work...but it IS meant to encourage you to be confident in your abilities, create your own opportunities, and ride some kiddie rides until you bust into those big kid coasters.

"The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them...they MAKE them." -George Bernard Shaw

I wrote about being encouraged and uplifted by these great words back in October and I still keep them at the back of my mind on a day to day basis. It's only gotten better since then, not always easier, but definitely better and I wouldn't trade what I've learned for any kind of routine job. I've got my own roller coasters to ride first. Someday I'll make it to the Titan but for now? I'm havin the time of my life.