Life Love Larson: July 2013

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Monday, July 29, 2013

DIY Painted Outdoor Rug

When I posted about our back patio progress, I mentioned that the striped rug underneath the seating area was a DIY project.  Here are the details!
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I purchased an inexpensive outdoor rug at Costco for $20.  I figure if this project went haywire, I wasn’t out that much.  This is one of those thin, mildew resistant, made from recycled bottles type of rug.  I am pretty sure all home improvement stores sell them as well.
I knew I wanted to do something bold, so I stuck to what I love, classic stripes.  I laid out the rug, got out my Frog Tape, and started measuring.
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This is a 6 ft x 9 ft rug, so I figured I would create 9, 1 foot stripes.  Pretty simple, right?  Well, I started measuring and taping, but forgot to take into account the width of the tape, so I ripped it up and started over again.  I finally got it right, but this part was time consuming (making sure each stripes was perfectly even end to end).
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I used a tape measure every couple of inches to make sure the tape was lining up from end to end.  You can see here that the stripes without the “x” are 12 inches apart. 
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You can see the stripes with the “x” are also 12 inches, but from the inside of the tape to the outside.  These are the stripes that would not be painted.  Does this make sense?  You have to take into account the tape width and where it is placed!
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Once I had all the stripes marked off, I used some left over primer to mark hard lines.  I placed a piece of wood on the edge of the tape and roughly hand painted along the tape.  I knew it would have been too hard to try to spray against tape that wasn’t adhering that great.  This gave me the hard edge I needed to go ahead and spray paint inside (apologies for bad. dark garage pictures).
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Once I had all the hard lines brush painted, I ripped up the tape.  I then used cheap cans ($1) of spray paint to prime the surface really well.  You will be surprised how much spray paint you will need, especially if using white on a dark rug, so start with the cheap stuff (it is still good for outdoor use).  If I had to do it over again, I would have only sprayed 4 stripes, and kept 5 of them dark.  I wasn’t thinking and added an extra stripe to my workload.
I then used some better spray paint to do a final top coat on each stripe.  You will need a large sheet or piece of cardboard to place over the rest of the rug while you are spraying each stripe.
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Unless you want to spend the rest of your life spraying, your white stripes will never perfectly cover the dark grey, but in the end I got the look I was going for.
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I am absolutely happy with this rug, and I love accomplishing new-to-me DIY projects!  I think it gives the space so much more personality than if there was no rug, or even a solid color rug. 
I also love that this is a custom rug that no one else has!  It is the number one thing people ask me about when they come to our back patio space and people are surprised it is DIY!
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Here are some questions that I think might get asked, so here goes…
1.  How do you clean it?  I haven’t had to spray anything on this rug yet.  Please keep in mind that this rug is under a covered patio, but it does get wet when it rains and mulch, grass, plant debris comes onto it when the wind blows.  I have heard that Tilex Mold and Mildew bathroom cleaner is good for touching up outdoor rugs, but have never tried it.  We have used a leaf blower and a broom on this rug, and outdoor debris comes off easily.
2.  What is the texture like after spraying it?  It is definitely harder than the non-painted surface, but not hard enough that you cannot walk on it without shoes.  The texture has been a non-issue for us.
3.  What was the total cost?  I probably used $20 worth of spray paint, and the rug was $20.
4.  How is the rug holding up?  I sprayed this rug in April and put it on the patio in early May.  It is holding up great!  With touch ups and cleaning done as needed, I think this rug will hopefully last another year.  Because I have furniture pieces on this rug, it has stayed in place.  It is thin and light, so it will blow up on the corners if it gets windy and there is nothing on top of it.
5.  Was it worth it?  I mentioned before that this rug was a bit time consuming.  I taped and sprayed over several days in the garage, working here and there around the kid’s schedules.  I would absolutely do this again.  I enjoy a challenge and trying new things.  I am happy with the final result and in the end, it really didn’t cost that much, which is what I was going for! 
More stripes…you know I love them!
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Acrylic Frame Turned Tray

In an effort to keep my computer, papers, notebooks, and lists from covering the kitchen island, I have permanently made the switch to an “office”.  The fifth bedroom off the kitchen currently functions as a guest bedroom/office, and I am working on trying to make it a little more done, and pretty!

It already holds a large desk, which I also use as a craft space, and the walk in closet houses photo albums, craft supplies, all kid crafts/supplies.  It is very functional and I am happy I made the switch.  I found this quick tip recently and thought it was just genius!  The best part, no DIY skills necessary.  Simply purchase a cheap acrylic frame, take the back off, turn upside down, and you have an instant tray to hold all your pretties!
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In the inspiration post, the frame was found at a thrift store for $1.  I was impatient and just went to Michael’s (purchased a 9 x 12 frame for about $4)!
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Michael’s had larger and smaller sizes, so you can customize for your needs.  I also found this acrylic magazine holder at Homegoods and thought it would be perfect for stashing my notebooks and planner.
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I love the clean look of the acrylic and a tray just makes things look more put together.
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I think I need one of these for every room in my house!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Back Patio Progress

Well, since it is almost August, I think it’s high time I shared the full progress on our covered back patio space.  I love having a covered space that is just off the kitchen and eating area, level with the rest of the house.  patio 1I wanted a little seating area for when we have guests over, aside from the seats at the table, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  This is a good spot for reading to the kids, coffee breaks, and happy hour!patio 2The loveseat and coffee table are new purchases, but we have had these chairs from World Market for a few years.  They used to be brown, and I spray painted them grey this summer.IMG_5196patio 4The grey chair pads are from World Market, as well as the charcoal pillow.  The other four pillows are from Target, as I am sure you already know.  I think everyone I know has these pillows!patio 3Before moving in, we decided to have the landscaping company build us a berm in the backyard, next to the patio, to soften the hard edges of the concrete.  They planted a birch tree for us, and I have since filled in the rest with stepping stones, rock, grasses, and perennials.spray painted table 1

IMG_5182Most spaces are always a work in progress for me, and this is no exception.  I would like to add a small serving cart or build a ledge to serve drinks/food right next to the grill.  I need something to fill the empty space to the left of my kitchen window.  I want to purchase string lights to hang all the way around the space.  We would love to have more patio space, which would be uncovered, but would still in an area that gets a lot of shade (I love the current space, but it feels tight with the seating area and table).  Since these photos were taken, I have painted the trim around the door black, which I will post about separately.

The striped rug was also a DIY project, that I will post about in more detail!patio 6

I wanted this patio to be black/grey, with pops of color, because the rest of our house is very brown. I like how the black is very grounding.  By using what we already had, and with a few inexpensive purchases, the patio space is coming together on a budget!  I’m hoping the cold temps stay away until November, so we can enjoy the space for several more months (and get more work done out here)!

Coffee Table – new from Target
Side Chairs – previously owned from World Market
Loveseat – new from Gordman’s
Chair pads – new from World Market
Pillows – new from World Market & Target
Table/Chairs – old, but recently spray painted
Pink Tray – thrift store DIY
Copper Clock – thrift store
Stained stairs – DIY

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cleaning Shower Heads with Vinegar

The shower heads in our master bath were looking a little grimy.  Hard water build up was causing them to look like this, and regular cleaning wasn’t actually getting them clean.
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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Milan, Italy

After our glorious stay in Vernazza was over, we hopped a 3-hour train to Milan, for a one night’s stay before catching our flight home.  We stayed at the AC Milano, a very modern hotel, that was within walking distance to the train station.  As soon as we got to Milan, we started walking the city streets (just shy of 6 miles) to people watch and grab some food and drink.
We wanted to see the Milan Cathedral while in Milan, but unfortunately, we were turned away because of “inappropriate” attire.  Your shoulders have to be covered and your skirt/shorts must be longer than your knees.  It was 90 degrees, and we could have gone and bought a wrap like everyone else, but we got lazy, and just decided seeing the outside magnificence was enough!  Everyone was getting turned away, and they were strict, so make sure you wear your full suit if your going to the Duomo!
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Spray Painted Wrought Iron Patio Table/Chairs

I spruced up our covered back patio this summer on a major budget.  We love, love, love having a covered patio space, but by the time you add a grill and a little seating area, it doesn’t leave much room for a large table and chairs.  We decided to go ahead and reuse our existing table/chairs, which is an inexpensive, small, wrought iron set that our realtor from our first house (3 moves ago in Charlotte) gave us after we moved in.  That means this small little four-seater has been with us for over 7 years! 
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cinque Terre (Vernazza), Italy

We began in Germany, made it to Switzerland, drove through the Swiss Alps, dropped the car in Pisa, and took a train from Monterosso to Vernazza.  This place/town is like nothing I have ever seen before.  Vernazza is basically one street of shops and restaurants, loaded with culture and everything you expect small town Italy to be.  Loads of color, cobblestone streets, laundry hanging out of every window, and breath taking views of the Mediterranean.  Vernazza is one of the quaintest places I have ever seen. 
We were in Vernazza for the longest part of the trip, and it was so relaxing and so special.  There are no hotel rooms, so you stay in small little homes.  Christian, the owner of the home we stayed in, is a young guy, full of character, and grew up in Vernazza.  He knows everyone and has become a bit of a local “celebrity”, after a mention in one of Rick Steve’s Italy books.  The home we stayed in was at the very top of the town, so every time we had to go up or down it became quite the work out.  It was worth it for the views we woke up to every morning.  This was the view off of our balcony.  All open windows and no screens, so we had the pleasure of hearing the waves crashing in all night (and fighting seagulls every morning). 
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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Veggie Pizza

Over the Fourth of July, our street had a little impromptu block party and there is always so much delicious food to sample!  I decided to bring an old standby, veggie pizza.  This is such a great appetizer to take to a large group setting because anyone can make it, it makes a lot, it looks pretty, and it is semi-healthy (really just the veggies, but we’ll go with it)!
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Sunday, July 7, 2013

DIY “Lacquered” Tray

I have slowly been sprucing up our covered back patio space, on a budget.  I really didn’t want to spend a lot of money and I wanted to see how much I could DIY and/or use what I already had.  There are still a few things to be done…build a serving bar area next to the grill, paint the trim around the door frame black, and hang string lights. 

I wanted to add a tray to the outdoor coffee table for function and for a pop of color.  I got the inspiration to make a DIY Lacquered Tray via The Hunted Interior (everything she does is amazing!).  I love the way the pink adds a punch to our new coffee table!
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This project started out with a tray I purchased at a thrift store for $1.  You have to be able to see past the ugly!!  Trays are so easy to transform and are so functional, so be on the lookout!
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Start by cleaning up the tray and sanding any rough spots.  Simply use cheap craft paint to achieve your desired color.  I loved the inspiration piece so much, I also used magenta pink craft paint out of my stash.  Simply add as many coats as you need to get good coverage.  Craft paint dries quickly, so this step doesn’t take long.
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After your craft paint is dry, add a coat of polyurethane.  I used exactly what she used in the tutorial, a clear gloss poly.  You can see the “lacquer” that the poly adds to the flat craft paint.
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I applied the polyurethane using a brush, but you could also use an old cloth.  This took several hours to dry (it will be sticky to the touch when wet).  I then added another coat to give it good protection.  I love the pop of color it adds to our outdoor space!
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I already had the craft paint, and the tray was $1.  I did purchase the poly ($10), and have already used it a few times since this project.  Such an easy, cheap, and simple project.  What do you have laying around that you could lacquer up??

Friday, July 5, 2013

Road Trip from Lucerne to Pisa to Vernazza

After our one night stopover in Lucerne, we headed out for a full travel day, which included 5 hours in the mini bus and an hour train ride to our final destination, Vernazza, Italy.  I have to say that renting a car and doing a little driving was such a fun adventure.  You get to see things that you would never see otherwise.  One of the highlights of the trip for me was driving through the Swiss Alps, and specifically through the St. Gotthard Pass.  We hit just shy of 7,000 feet and the views were absolutely unforgettable. 
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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lucerne, Switzerland

From Heidelberg, we hopped in the mini bus and headed 3 hours to Lucerne, Switzerland.  Our final destination would be Italy, so we planned to have a one night stopover in Lucerne along the way.  We arrived at about 11am, and checked into our hotel, the Renaissance Luzern Hotel, which is the smallest Renaissance in the world.  The rooms were fantastic and the location was prime.
Switzerland is everything you dream it to be and then some.  The scenery is unbelievable.  Everything is crisp and clean and elegant.  You can tell there is a lot of money in Switzerland and it is expensive!!  Wow, the beauty just blew us away!
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Monday, July 1, 2013

Heidelberg, Germany

The excitement about being home from our trip and seeing our kids has worn off, and I think we are ready to go back on vacation! :)  We visited 3 different countries on our 8-day trip to Europe, so I will break them all down for you in separate posts.  Not only do I want to inform you of places we stayed and things we did (in case a trip is in your future), but I want to have a “diary” entry of our trip so I can always look back!
A little background info:  We planned this trip about 6 months in advance in celebration of our 10 year wedding anniversary (May 2013).  We traveled with my sister, Sarah, and her husband, Nate, who are also celebrating their 10 year anniversary in October.  Steve and I have both previously been to Europe, only once each, and not together, so this was such a great “first” for us.  My sister and her husband are very well traveled and basically planned the whole trip, which we are eternally grateful for.  They had been to all of these destinations previously, and used to live in Germany, so having our own personal tour guides (and German translators) was amazing! 

We flew Chicago | London | Frankfort.  Once in Frankfort, we picked up our rental car.  We thought we were getting a Passat wagon, but they informed us that they had a vehicle with Italian plates (our final destination), which would save us about $300 from having to pay an out of country drop fee.  Sweet!  We’ll take it.  It turns out the vehicle with Italian plates was actually a Mercedes mini bus!  We could have packed 12 people in this thing and ended up being a hilarious change of events! 

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