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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

picking up strays

Some people can't resist taking home stray animals. I can't resist taking home orphaned chairs.

I spotted another one at "the Goodwill" (as my friend Maria calls it) and I couldn't resist picking it up. It had good bones and the seat was in great shape -- a must if you ever consider reupholstering one. The lines and color of the wood felt slightly mid-century modern which I thought was very cool. The fabric on the other hand ... well that left much to be desired.


Though it photographed well the old and ratty material gave it a dentist office feel and was a little on the rough side. So unless you were looking for a chair that could shave your legs, it wasn't really anything you'd want to cuddle up in.

While I normally go for the quick and easy paint job on my found furniture, I really wanted to keep the wood, just darken it. So I put the chair in the garage and headed off to Home Depot for some supplies. Shortly after arriving I realized once again I didn't know what I was doing. I circled around in the paint area for a while looking for a nice dark stain and finally spotted something I thought would work.

Next I needed some sandpaper (should be easy to find, right?) and after heading off into the great unknown, spotted a Home Depot man in his little orange apron so I decided to ask him.

Me: Can you tell me where the sandpaper is?
Depot Man: For a hand sander or electric sander?
Me: *silence*
Depot Man: Does it use power or just something small that fits in your hand?
Me: It's electric. Definitely electric.
Depot Man: *eyes me suspiciously but starts heading off with me trailing behind*.
Me: When you say electric do you mean it plugs into the wall?
Depot Man: Stops mid aisle "yes, it uses power."
Me: Oh. Okay, mine uses power. I think it's a Ryobi. (I throw this out there hoping it will buy me some credibility. Depot Man does not look convinced.)

We arrive at the sanders and there are about 2 zillion of them.

Depot Man: Which one do you have?
Me: *silence*chew on lip*shuffle over to sanders to get a closer look*
Depot Man: Is it small or larger like this?
Me: Ah, let's just go buy a hand sander...

I'll save you the rest of this humiliating story but let's just say it basically continued on like this for a while with other customers glaring at me while I walked all over the store, apparently "hogging" the help. Oy.

When I finally left, I had a nifty little sander-bar-thingy, some stain and a brush.


These, however, would need to wait a couple days because there was other work to do. The first step was to examine the staples and begin removing them. I usually take pictures of the chair as I go so I can use the first upholstery job as a template when putting it back together. Note this part is NOT fun and is the reason I wouldn't actually ever recommend doing this. Do not try at home...



Because there are many staples and they are fairly difficult to remove, I spread the work out over a couple days and when done, I had this.


The next step was to sand the chair, so the stain could absorb into the wood. My bar did a pretty decent job. 


Afterwards, I was ready to stain my garage floor, er, I mean chair. It wasn't too hard to do but when done, it didn't end up quite as dark as I had hoped (and there was a little "incident" on the garage floor that appears to be permanent). Anyhow, I followed the directions and waited overnight before staining it again. When it was ready, this is how it looked. Progress!


My original plan was to do a simple white cotton duck fabric to keep it really clean, but then I stumbled across this and it was love at first sight. Typically a nice upholstery fabric like this would run about $25/yard. This was on clearance for $7.00 (can you hear the heavenly choir of angels singing? I did.).


All that was left to do was staple the fabric back in place and this takes some patience too which ironically, I do not have. So again, I spread the work out a bit and finally I have this.



Is it perfect? No. But I do think it got a new life and now it needs a new home!

If anyone is interested in this chair, this is one of those projects that I did for the challenge but just can't keep. (I have too many strays here already.)  In instances like this (and I'll have more later on) I'm selling it for the cost of the project, $45 in this case. If it would look great in your home and you have an extra $45 laying around, let me know and it's yours!

She found a home - a really good one with one of my favorite people!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!" ~Dodgeball

This next project is pretty much that simple. If you can push a button and wrap a present, you can do this (even if your gift wrapping skills leave much to be desired).

The project I'm referencing started because my closet wasn't looking so hot. It has plenty of room for all my clothes, and yet it looks like this.



Embarrassing. So I decided it needed an overhaul and a few things to help keep it clean and organized. I didn't know exactly what I was looking for except that I needed some additional organizational items like decorative bins or baskets, and something to organize accessories like scarves and belts. I made a few quick stops including one at a local thrift store where I spotted this chair.


It was simple, small, cheap ($5.99) and it had loads of potential. So I threw it in my car, knowing it would be repainted a bright color ... a color that had yet to be decided. After my next store visit I spotted a basket with a sage green patterned liner that I really liked. It had a nice earthy color that would play well with all the neutral earth tones in our master bedroom. I took that and a few other accessories before I was off to the home improvement store for some paint. It was there that I also spotted an interesting bathroom towel rack. For towels? Nope. Scarves? Yes!

As soon as I got home I decided to dive right into the closet, tossing out anything that was on the shelves or the floor. After a few quick minutes, I stopped to survey the damage (only a small portion of which would fit in my camera's lens).


Yowza. The thought of working my way through that was a bit overwhelming and it was then I knew what had to be done. Procrastinate. So I skipped back downstairs leaving that horrendous mess where it was and decided I'd start on the chair first. You know ... to get inspired.

The plan was to clear a corner in the closet where I would use this chair as a small side table. Chairs like this are great for all things, and can be a fun replacement for a traditional night stand or an interesting place to display accessories. I'd use this one as a place to lay out outfits, keep accessories (including a kitchy new jewelry box to match my green color scheme), or if necessary, a place to sit to put on boots and the like.

First things first, pop off the seat and set aside.


Then spray paint. T-minus two minutes later and my brown chair was a fun and poppy green. Next I took the seat bottom inside to recover with some extra fabric I had from a previous project. The colors didn't match exactly but since it was a cool floral pattern, it made sense (and I don't like things matchy, matchy anyhow). To do this, I simply laid the fabric on the floor with the underside facing up. Next, I added the seat bottom and cut with a few extra inches on the sides (never bothering to take the previous cover off).


Then all that's left to do is fold the fabric over and staple it in place. By the time this was done, the chair only needed a few minutes more to dry and I had this. Love.

This is such an awesome project because again, so simple and inexpensive. Something like this painted in a bright red, orange or metallic brown would look adorable next to the front entry way or on a porch with beautiful fall flowers (e.g. pot of mums) and pumpkins around it. Or try primary or pastel colors with a fun kid's fabric that could be placed next to a dresser. It could also be a spot to set the next day's outfit, or even to stack favorite bedtime stories or stuffed animals. Or again, as a nightstand in a guest room or master bedroom (think painted in a glossy black with a beautiful damask pattern to up the sophistication level for a more grown up space).

Here are a few examples from the web.

re-nest.


and Real Simple.

0409reading-lamp

Plug for chair project- check. Onward.

Now what. ugh. Closet organization. But with my new fun chair as an incentive to get in gear, I sat in the middle of the pile and got to it. The items that found their way to the top shelf or the floor fell in one of two categories: exercise gear (used ALL the time .......... lie), and lounge wear (actually used all the time). These two were sorted into baskets and set on the top shelves. Others needed to be donated and they were put in a large shopping bag to be dropped off later. Then the hanging clothes needed to be resorted so things were easier to find (suit jacket next to Brewers jersey, eeem, I think not).

Next I got out my husband's drill, and put my cool towel rack in place. It only took me one, er ... okay two, tries to hit a stud and both screws - oh fine, one - were firmly screwed into a solid piece of wood. (Umm, let's just keep that one between us.)


Then I loaded it with scarves and belts. Perfect. With that, I just had to put some accessories in place and I'm happy with the results.





While some might think it's silly to accessorize a closet, I would beg to differ. If you accessorize a bathroom, surely a closet isn't that much of a stretch. At least not in this house!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Art is what you can get away with." ~Andy Warhol

I love a lot of things about our master bedroom, but the giant blank wall you see here isn't one of them. It's been in need of something to fill it but I kept vacillating over what that something should be.


Whatever it was it would need to be fairly large and art that big can get quite pricey. I've been going back and forth, trying to decide if I should make something or buy it. Ideally I wanted a painting but since my last attempt at art made it's way to the curb on trash day, I wasn't feeling overly confident that would work.

But this week the big blank wall got the best of me so I decided to take the plunge and hope for the best. I picked up a large canvas, selecting the biggest one they had in a 2" depth (mostly because I didn't want a thinner canvas that would look like it was purchased from a craft store). Then I grabbed a handful of acrylic paints in colors that went with our bedroom scheme. Why acrylic? No idea ... I literally have no clue what I'm doing.


To add to my randomness, I grabbed a bag of sponges and a spray bottle to fill with water in case I wanted to get my David Bromstad on. With the kiddos in bed, I got my canvas out and thought I'd try adding two white stripes by laying down some masking tape. I took the time to grab a ruler and level and made two stripes about 14 inches from the top and bottom. So far so good.

With that, I poured some paint on a plate, dipped my sponge in and started making horizontal stripes. I changed up the colors occasionally, never bothering to clean my sponge so they could mix naturally. Once the whole canvas was colored, I stepped back to admire my work.

To put it nicely, it was horrendous. So I got a new sponge (as if that was the problem), and started adding some white around the edges, trying different techniques that might resemble something I'd seen on TV. I stepped back to see my progress again.

Not good.  At this point I'm thinking of all the possible explanations I can offer my hubby who will not be happy when he sees another painting making its way outside on trash day. Out of desperation, I grabbed the spray bottle, added some water and stood the canvas vertically against the wall. I placed a few towels underneath, closed one eye and gave it a couple squirts.

Oh boy. This is going downhill quickly. Now my painting looks like it has mascara running down it's face, likely upset that it's so darn ugly. Hmmm. Panic is setting in and I'm not sure where I go from here. So I just grab some paper towel and try to clean up the black drip marks ... and something amazing happens. Oddly, it removes most all of the paint where the water dripped and it looks - gasp - a little cool. (Heavy emphasis on the word "little.")

So now I decide I'm all in. I wiped a thicker amount of black paint mixed with a little brown over two places on the canvas, get my spray bottle out and start unloading. I watched the little water lines making their way down the painting and amazingly, it was pretty neat. I gave it a few additional sprays, let it do its thing and then set it aside to dry before removing the tape.

Here's the finished product. I actually grow a bit more fond of it every time I see it. I like it; it works well in my space and the whole project cost me $50. Should you decide to give something like this a try, trust me ... BUY THE SPRAY BOTTLE. :)


Sunday, August 21, 2011

"Miss, can you tell me where the reclaimed wood addicts are meeting this week? Room 117? Got it, thanks."

Within about 30 minutes of leaving the antique store where I purchased some driftwood for the project I just shared, I knew I needed more. I could hardly sleep that night as I thought of all the things I could possibly do with it. I told myself I'd have to come up with something solid before I could go back and by morning I was set: a shelf. "Honey, let's head South; I have shopping to do."

Just after breakfast we were on the road, off to my new favorite store ... move over Crate and Barrel, there's a new game in town! We rolled into the parking lot and I jumped out the window before Mike had the car in park. Okay that's not true but I did start clapping like a six month old baby when I saw it was open on a Sunday. (Think Pee Wee Herman-esk only with long hair and without the gray suit - emm, still scary.)

After a little bit of hunting I spied a piece I had liked the day before and added it to my pile-o-stuff. Here's the one I took home.


I liked this one because it wasn't straight, and the different curves would give the shelf some character. Since this particular wood was the byproduct of a century old logging business, it had thickness as well (it was the top, rounded part of the log that was discarded into the water; you're seeing the flat side in the pic above).

The shelf's home would be at the cottage we purchased with my sister and brother 'n law. Its rustic vibe would be perfect and with a few new accessories, it'd fill an open space on a wall in the living area (next to my diy curtains and reupholstered chairs, oh yeah, I'm that nuts-o).


Here's what I ended up with: wood letters (r&r, i.e. rest and relaxation), yellow spray paint, brackets to hang the shelf, a picture frame, a matted print, and some extra big fishing bobbers. For tools, I needed a drill and a utility knife because the print was a little too large for the frame.


I started by giving the letters a little mini makeover with one of my favorite tools of all time: spray paint. My addiction to it started about a year ago and is still going strong. It allows you to transform something almost instantly and makes shopping easier as you can purchase something you love but that might not be the right color. For the price of a $3.00 can it's a cheap and easy fix to make something not quite right, perfect.


The letters would only need about 15 minutes to dry so while those were doin' their thing I got to working on the print. I lined it up with the back of the frame, made my mark and used my blade to make a fairly precise but not perfect cut. (The edge of the frame would give me some wiggle room, making "perfect" unnecessary and "close" good enough.)



I trimmed each side until it fit and got it in place. By then, the letters were dry and the bobbers were good as-is. Accessories: check. For the shelf, my awesome hubby determined it would be better to put the brackets on the wall first. Then we could slide the shelf up, screwing it to the top of the shelf (vs. the bottom) which would hide most of the bracket. When we were done, it looked great. Shelf price with hardware: $6.50. Not too shabby.



And if wood like this wouldn't look good in your home, you could try inexpensive white shelving and just touch up the ends with spray paint or craft paint (think white shelving), or you could stain or paint an inexpensive piece of wood from a home improvement store. Cheap and simple floating shelf - presto!

With the picture frame ready, letters a bright cheery shade of yellow, and some bobbers for a little pop of red and "lake living" feel, it was done. This was about a 30 minute project and believe it or not, cost $30 too. Cheap and easy, yet different just by adjusting the size of the print, changing the color of the letters and picking up some inexpensive and unexpected extras.



Now for that ugly white "TV cabinet" we inherited with the purchase of this home ...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Excuse me sir, may I rip some boards off your barn?

That exact thought was starting to cross my mind every time I passed a run down old farm. I was getting desperate to get my hands on some old wood that I wanted to reclaim for myself. I wasn't sure what I'd do with it, but I knew I needed some. Bad.

As luck would have it, a trip to Door County this past weekend lead me to something even better. And not just because it wouldn't require me to keep a crowbar under my seat ... you know, just in case. No this was the jackpot because there was tons of it and it was for sale. Drift wood.

It was an old antique store and they had a pretty meaty pile of the stuff right in front of the main building. So I shuffled over in my floor length sun dress and decided to get diggin. A cool $25 later and I practically skipped out to the car with my new found treasure, eager to create something new when I got home.

After a little thought I decided I wanted to put the boards together to create a large piece of artwork to hang on a blank wall by my front entry door. The pieces were big and it would fill the spot nicely. So I got to work laying them out and flipping them around to try to get the edges to line up as best I could. Then I needed to figure out how to put them together.

I made a late night run to Taco Bell Home Depot and came back with eight 2" brackets. My hubby kindly helped me get the first few started and it was him that came up with the idea to bend a few to make them work with the different sized pieces. It was dreamy. Here's what it looked like.


After I had everything together I decided I wanted to paint something on it. I had seen a cool reclaimed wood headboard on Pinterest that had the word "love" written on it and really liked the idea of a crisp paint against the worn and weathered wood. That said, I considered the "love" idea taken and not quite my thing anyhow. Eventually I settled on a word that I loved hearing when we once vacationed to Rome: Ciao (pronounced in the non-dictionary way of "chow"). A casual Italian greeting used today as either hello or goodbye. Since it was going near my front door, it seemed fitting (my husband would later disagree with this but by then the deed was done). Before I got my Picasso on, this is the canvas I was working with.


So I rummaged around until I dug up some white paint and a brush, then got to it. It wasn't fancy so it didn't take long. I let it dry overnight and then picked up a simple picture hanging kit. I decided to use the little screws and picture wire since I wanted to have some flexibility as I wasn't certain where we'd find a stud in the wall. Happily, there was one near the middle.

And this is my masterpiece. Sometimes the crazy ideas in my head don't work out all that well. This one, well you could say I'm quite fond of it. I don't imagine it would suit everyone's taste but I've found my style is a blend of classic, contemporary and with some shabby thrown in. Now, as often happens, one project leads to another and this one will lead to me finding the right piece to go underneath it. My to do list never ends.