Saturday, May 28, 2011

Guest Room Art #4

Saturday morning -- and I'm done...well, mostly done. I have to paint the edges of the canvases again to hide any drips that may have occurred. I'm even done 3 days ahead of schedule. I must admit, this project did get more enjoyable as time went on. I think one of the reasons I do not like art projects is because I have a hard time executing them. I know what I want in my head, but when I finish the project it doesn't look like I thought it would -- which equals a major failure or total disappointment. I am very critical of myself (as well as everyone else).

This is a picture heavy post -- and you can click to enlarge the picture. Here is what I started with. You know from previous posts that I had these canvases since 2003 and I painted them three different shades of brown to tie our first apartment together (our = Tim and Nate). I liked this for my past three homes, but not so much for my current place. So I tried a couple techniques to add color and texture -- I hated it, so the canvases have lived in the closet since we moved in.

I started by painting the entire canvas white -- well, I started by painting the entire canvas clear, because the less than competent man at the Home Depot, THEN I moved on and painted the canvases white. Some of the red paint still bled through, but I didn't worry about it because I knew the final paint would cover any red/blue/yellow hints. I then used blue painters tape (delicate tape, not the heavy duty stuff, because I was afraid it would damage the paint on the canvas). I decided to create verticals that were one inch thick -- my tape is 2" thick, so It would take three passes to paint the entire canvas.

The plan was to my add right angles through out the verticals, which is where the color changes would happen. I used a post card to ensure proper right angles and to give me a preview of how the groupings would work together. And yes, that is a 25' Coast to Coast tape measure. Does Coast to Coast still exist? I remember it was on Bridge Street in Sheridan (I think), but I don't remember exactly where it was -- any help?


I used three paint colors : Embellish Blue, Tropical Waters and Thermal Spring -- along with a Pure White Base. These three colors were mixed in various quantities to make many different shades. I tried to mix different shades (stark) and slight blends next to each other.


After the first coat of paint dried, I removed the tape and viola! I didn't hate it. I like the white space, but that's not part of the vision (you'll see my inspiration at the bottom of the post). I then taped over the painted piece and a portion of the unpainted/white stripes. Then repainted using the same colors -- the interesting part, since I taped over the part I already painted, I didn't know what colors were down there -- so I went in blind...this meant I could have painted the exact same color in two separate verticals -- unlikely since I'm mixing my own colors, but it was a possibility.

I continue this process on both canvases, taping, painting, moving tape and painting again. Here is the final product:


You can see the canvas on the left has more darker colors, which I'm not 100% sure I liked when I was doing it, and I used the dark color much less on the second canvas. The first canvas is definitely much more linear -- the second canvas has a section where I opted to break the mold and go a bit more freehand on one side.

Below you can see a close up of how the colors blend and the imperfections of the lines. You'll notice (below) that the inspiration piece appears to have stark lines between the verticals -- no bleed over -- it looks too perfect, too computer generated I think. It's interesting that I say it like that because I'm much more of a "want it perfect" kinda of guy. After looking at the inspiration piece after I'm done, I think it is missing some character (or is that me just trying to rationalize my work??).



As I was working on this project, I was all over the spectrum on how I felt about the art. I started out with high expectations, then felt it looked like shit, then after removing the first batch of tape, I liked it. I then felt that one of the canvases looked sloppy and not too much like the other one -- like I rushed one. One think I did keep in mind was that it's just canvas and paint. If I don't like it, I can repaint it -- Even the Mona Lisa is on a reclaimed/repainted canvas. It just takes a bit of time, right?

The total cost of the projects:

Two 24"x30" Canvases : Free. Well, I didn't pay any more for them as I had them for years
Six 8oz sample containers of paint a $2.94 each (one of which is useless, thanks Home Depot)
One roll 2" Painters Tape: $6.63
One 1" Paint Brush: $5.97
One Set of 4 children's paint brushes $2.14
Tax: $3.16
Total: $35.54

Now, that all the details are out of the way -- here is my inspiration piece.

What are your thoughts on this project? I want honest opinions, I've already spanned the spectrum of love and hate -- I trust the people who read this blog to tell me the truth -- otherwise I'll punch them in the neck.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Guestroom Art #4

Last night I started on my second canvas. I am using painters tape to ensure straight veritcle lines, and since the tape is 2", I must do three separate passes to get all of my verticles painted (each verticle is an inch wide).  The fisrt canvas has one more pas and the second has two more. I should be done by Monday, as originally planned.

I am getting quicker with the painting, the mixing of colors and the blending of verticles on the canvas.

More enjoyable, but not fun, yet.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Guest Room Art #3

Well, I'm not going to say that painting (either art or walls) soothes me. It sure as shit doesn't. I'm about half done with one of these canvases. I don't have a steady hand, so I opted to use tape to ensure a straight line and the corner of a note pad to make chevrons where the colors change. I've done 8 strands of color (three colors plus a white to dilute and make new colors) on a 24"x36" canvas (vertically oriented). The paint should be fully dried tonight, but I will hold off to remove the tape tomorrow...hopefully the paints didn't bleed onto the white, outside of the designated areas. Tomorrow I will remove the tape and reapply over the areas I painted today, so I can paint the new lines. It might look good not fully painted too...who knows.

Then once this one canvas is done, I'll start anew on the second canvas. My idea of getting this done by Monday is a little too aggressive. I hope to have this project completed by NEXT weekend. I hope it doesn't suck.

Just to reiterate this fact -- Painting does not relax me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Guest Room Art #2

After a very disappointing start yesterday, I had some of the wind knocked out of my sails after that less than qualified help at the Home Depot. I head back to the HD today and find another paint lackey standing about. This was the same girl who loudly told me that Behr never made "Light Olive", even though I had a good portion of my house painted in this color just a couple years ago. Idiot.

I explained what happened yesterday, how her colleague inadvertently gave me the wrong white paint. Of course this was my fault, she explained. He's a professional, she continued and if I had been more clear I wouldn't be in this situation -- oh and don't forget I don't get my money back. What a bitch.

So I hurry home and begin painting -- the white actually works. It's not just a clear coat. I put two coats on each of the canvases and it's about 95% covered now. I'll probably put on another coat of white then start to pencil in the design and if all goes well start to add the color tomorrow. How frustrating that a couple errors from HD would really derail my enthusiasm for this project.

My goal is to have this art piece completed by the end of the holiday weekend.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Guest Room Art

So, thanks to JDE, I've been reading this blog called Young House Love. I won't tell you the details but, it is interesting, even if it does take a while to get into it. As you all know I'm working on updating the decor in my guest room. I have a couple photo projects that I'm working on now, which I'm totally digging -- but I've wanted to do some sort of painting...a one of a kind Tim original.

I created a couple of simple linear multi-tonal brown canvases years ago. It worked well in my first building and I've used them at the next two apartments. I wanted to switch it up a bit for my new house -- I wanted to had a bit of color and some three dimensionality as well. I got some new paints and started to dabble with colors and techniques. It couldn't get it to look like I wanted. I basically wanted a thick slathering of paint in abstract sweeps. Didn't turn out that way. So I put the canvases in the closet waiting for a future project.

I found a project on YHL that I really liked and that I think would look pretty cool in my guest room. I decided to pop down to Home Depot today to get some sample paints (which would be enough to do the entire art project). The first thing I needed to do was to cover the brown and primary colors with a crisp clean white -- need to start fresh. So I picked out my three colors (blue/greens) and asked for a pure bold white to use as my primer, if you will. The home depot guy gave me my four paint testers (3 blue/green and 1 white) and I head home, full of excitement. I figured by the end of the night I could have both canvases painted white, allowing them to try until tomorrow when I could start the second part of the project.

I start painting and it looks like shit. The pure white paint is going on like a bad white wash. I add another coat and it looks slightly better. Well, come to find out, the Home Depot guy gave me a base tint and not pure white paint. The tester only cost $2.94 plus tax, so it's not about the money, it's about the time, effort and then doing it all over again. I'm quite frustrated, but am still confident that this project will be a good thing for the guest room.

I'll try to hit Home Depot again tomorrow and try this again. How frustrating, eh?

Oh, and I will be showing before and after photos for this project, but I don't think I'll show them until the final piece is done...

Wish me luck.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Broadway Antique Market

Before I went to Vancouver, one of Mike's friends stopped by for a little visit. He was going to take care of Lilly while I was out of pocket. He mentioned that he had just came back from a place called Broadway Antique Market. This place specializes in Mid-Century and later -- they have lots of accessories and furniture. When I get my home in Palm Springs I will furnish it in Mid-Century Modern furniture and it will be a little bit of heaven (except in the summer, when it will be a lot like hell, but I like the heat, so it'll be fine).
Focus Tim, Focus.

We spent about an hour looking through the two floors of furniture and accessories -- most things were reasonably priced, some where crazy expensive and others were, I believe, miss-marked. I've been looking for an antique table set (plates, bowls, etc.) for a while now. I thought about just going to Bloomingdale's or some such store but everything I found was just crap -- mass produced and available at every American store around. Not really my thing.

At BAM (Broadway Antique Market) I found a set of dishes that I thought looked pretty cool. The set was pretty big including: 12 Dinner Plates, 12 fruit/bread plates, 12 saucers, 15 small cups, 1 Salt Shaker, 1 Sugar Bowl, 1 Creamer, 1 Coffee/Tea Pitcher, 1 Large Vegetable Bowl and 1 Oval Platter. The pattern is simple yet elegant and they are trimmed in Platinum -- which of course means it's not dishwasher save (ugh). This set is also from Japan and was created in 1962 -- pretty amazing for the set to be so complete and with no visible chips and to be so old.The set isn't full, obviously (where are the salad plates, the pepper shaker, why do the cups and saucers not properly coupled). The kicker -- the price for all of these items was $99. There was a sale of 20% off, plus sales tax, I got all this stuff for $86. Pretty damn sweet, eh?

We used them for dinner on the lanai last night (well, we used them to serve the guac). I decided to look online to see how much it would cost if I wanted to round out the set with some of the missing pieces. I found two sets, smaller and less complete than mine, on Ebay, both selling (with bids) for over $500. One non-auction retail site had four 4 piece place settings in this exact pattern for $99. I'm pretty impressed. Even if I found that this set was selling for $75 online, I'd still be happy. I like it and it was cheaper than buying something that is mass produced now at Target or Macy's. I dig it.

Have any of you out in blogland had a similar experience buying something at an antique/second hand shop and finding that you just made a killing? How about the opposite? Did you find a one of a kind item at a great price, bring it home and then immediately find it at a friends house with a Target price tag on it?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Guest Room

So, I wrote this blog last night and my computer somehow became all fucked up and I lost the post. I had finished the post and was uploading photos and well that's all she wrote. I was pretty frustrated. Let's try to do this again without losing any quality of the post or my sanity...or by swearing like a freaking trucker like I did last night.

As you all know, I love to travel. I am a United/Star Alliance airline guy and a Marriott hotel guy.

I want my guest room to be a sanctuary for my guests. When I travel I want to have my own little piece of the world to be completely left alone -- even when I'm staying with a friend. I do appreciate sleeping on the couch though, it's nice to save money and be close with friends, but once you reach a certain age it's just not right any more. I don't want to wake up when my guests wake up -- which is almost a given if they are sleeping on the couch. I don't want my guests to wake up when I get up -- which is guaranteed if they are sleeping on the couch. I want them
to be able to retire to a private sanctuary and have some quiet time when we are all together. Everyone needs a good night sleep while traveling -- that's what I want for my guest room.

I am lucky that timing and the economy worked in my favor -- I was able to buy this beautiful home (in my opinion of course) that has 3 bedrooms and 3 full baths. The guest room is complete with it's own en suite bath -- the guests have a fully contained area while they are here. You can see from the pictures it is pretty bland though. I have focused on a few things so far in this room.
I relatively comfortable bed is a must. The guest room has a couple sets of 600 thread count sheets, a hypoallergenic duvet and a couple duvet covers. I have about 10-12 towels ready for the guests as well -- no one wants a wet/dirty towel over the length of their stay. I actually reuse the same towel for the whole week, but I want my guests to have the options.

When I travel I always unpack my suitcase. I hate living out of a small little wheeled bag. When I get to a hotel I immediately
unpack -- hang up my suits and dress shirts, if they are wrinkled I crank on a hot shower and let the wrinkles fall out. I put my folded clothes into the dresser and unpack my toiletries. What am I, an animal? The guest room has a walk in closet and a dresser with several empty drawers -- my guests can either unpack or not, their choice.

Speaking of toiletries, I love the Marriott Bath and Bodyworks citrus aromatherapy shampoo, conditioner and lotion. Such a refreshing scent. I have taken these toiletries from each Marriott I've stayed at. The guest room has a nice supply of these -- and if you aren't into the citrus aromatherapy
products, I've got other single serving toiletries for people as well.

In addition to the toiletries and the linens, I have a few other amenities that I use to try to make my guests feel at home. I always keep Pepto, Advil, condoms, cough drops, a couple bottles
of water and fresh fruit in the guest room. I've flown over 50,000 miles each year for the past 4 years (290,000 miles over the
past 6) and do know that from time to time travel doesn't agree with our bodies. Better to have this stuff laying out for guests than have them come down and ask for it -- that's not a great thing to ask a host for.

Wireless Internet of course reaches to the guest room and the password is included in the amenity book on the dresser. Also on the dresser is a guest book where I hope all visitors will write a little note for me and future guests. No one has done so yet -- but that's ok, someone will be the first one (yes, it is obvious
this is a guest book).

I have no other furniture in the room. I thought (and still do) think that the dresser needs a mirror over it. I was lucky enough to find a funky red mirror at the Salvation Army for $5! I'm not 100% sure I like the red for the room, but I do like the frame itself. I might repaint it. Thoughts?

I want a headboard for the bed, but don't know what kind yet. I need art for the walls and I have more of an idea of this--I want to take photos of my neighborhood. I want both color and black and white -- art subjects will be less than a 10 minute walk from my home. I want to show off the beauty and diversity of this part of Chicago. Thoughts?

Do you think I need to get a TV for the guest room? How big? Wall mount or not? I do have a yoga mat and a yoga DVD in the guest room, but no way to play it yet. I figured most people bring a laptop when they travel (about 75% of people have thus far) and they can use that. Thoughts?

What else do I need to include in this room to make it feel like home? What do you keep in your guest rooms? If there is ONE thing that you always bring with you when you travel, what is it? Is it beneficial for me to keep something like this in my guest room for people?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Dining Room Light

I've lived in my home for over two years now. I had a list of things I'd want to update in this place from day one. Those things range from simple fixes to more major undertakings. For example, I needed to swap out the builder grade boob light for a more appropriate fixture. Seems pretty easy, doesn't it? Well, the hardest part for me was finding a light that I really wanted. I scoured many a catalog, retail shop, hotel, antique store and friends homes for inspiration -- and really found nothing that screamed to me.

I had some friends (McGino) coming over for dinner and I really didn't want them to see my house with a bad builder grade boob light -- interestingly enough I've had dozens of people over for dinner seeing this less than adequate light, but in my mind (from the day I moved in)
I would have this light replaced before McGino came over. After I got back from Africa I had 8 days until McGino were coming for dinner -- now I gotta put this fix into high gear.

My dining table is 100+ years old, solid oak without dining chairs. This table belonged to my great-great grandma. I wouldn't have purchased this table on my own, but I do really like it now that it is mine -- and I have no intention of getting rid of it. The rest of my house is much more contemporary -- so I need to find a way to balance an antique table with modern surroundings. I thought about getting a more classical chandelier but just didn't like the idea of how the whole thing would look. I decided to visit Room and Board for further design inspirations -- what did I find...a LIGHTING SALE. I snapped about 40 pictures of various lighting fixtures with measurements and hurried home to view them in my space. The decision was quite easy when it came to design, but size was another question. I wanted something big and bold -- after a long discussion with Mike I opted to purchase the medium size saucer. I bought it on a Friday and dinner was on Saturday.

Never before had I installed a light fixture before. Mike was very nervous about me doing it, as he is terrified of electrical work -- but c'mon, how hard could it be? Last year I added dimmer switches and didn't get electrocuted -- and as of this moment there hasn't been a fire. I wasn't going to pay an electrician $200 to install a light that would probably tak
e him 15 minutes and me less than an hour.

I hurried home, unpacked the light and cut the power to the dining room -- well, I cut the power to the entire first floor, just to be on the safe side. I measure (and measure and remeasure) the cord so I'd know where to cut -- allowing the perfect amount of space above the table. I follow the directions perfectly and measure again and cut the cord. The next direction said "now loop the cord to provide support" -- so the properly cut cord was now too damn short after I tied a loop knot in it. The lesson here is to read all of the directions before starting.

I continue to install this light -- but I don't have a ladder or a second set of hands to help me, so I stand on a dining room chair. It wasn't quite tall enough but it worked well while I was uninstalling the boob . The real issue came when I tried to install Nelson -- I couldn't hold the fixture at the right height while I hard wired the electrical. Instead of asking anyone for help, I had to find a way to do this on my own -- damn pride. I needed a higher chair/ladder to stand on and needed something to hold the fixture while installing...I opted to move my couch under the lamp to stand on and then put two dining chairs on top of the table to hold the light. Not the most graceful or safe option, but it worked.
I installed the light, it looked good and I didn't fall (a very real possibility). I stood back and just stared...while it is up higher than I anticipated, it looked pretty good. Now the real test -- will the light actually produce light and not sparks and fire. I pull out the fire extinguisher and walk back to the circuit breaker...flip the switch....and walk back to the dining room. Fingers crossed...I slide the dimmer switch up and....LIGHT! We have light! It worked. No sparks, no fire, no smoke nothing, but light. It worked...who knew? Filled with pride I clean up the mess I created and trashed the boxes. Checking my watch, I realized it took me 45 minutes from the time I walked in the door until the whole project was done. I'm pretty impressed with my skills -- and I realize it's not really that wild and crazy to install a new dining light, but it was my second real electrical work -- both of which turned very successful.

Other things on my update list for my house:
  • Update the guest room to feel more hotel/sanctuary like
  • Install ceiling fans in the bed rooms (perhaps)
  • Install a back splash in the kitchen
  • Update the 3rd floor lanai to feel more like a comfortable outdoor room
  • Repaint the entire house -- normal nicks, scratches and scuffs really annoy me.