Friday, April 4, 2014

The Double Dipped Bentwood Beauty

This little number needed some major TLC after being abandoned to our concrete jungle!  The caning was shredded and it looked like it had been living outside for a while.  But, with the classic bentwood lines, this Thonet style chair was a perfect candidate for a makeover!

After cutting away the ruined caning, I lightly sanded the entire chair with 320 grit sandpaper.  There wasn't any original finish left and it just needed to be smoothed out.

I painted the legs in aqua blue for the dip effect.  Once it was dry, I taped off a narrow band above the blue and painted it gray - the double dip!

The chair is finished with Watco Danish Oil in Fruitwood, which gives the wood a silky feel and warmed up the wood tone.  

The seat is upholstered in a cute gray tiger stripe fabric and high density foam.  The fabric is pleated around the base of the cushion.

Wrap the foam with a layer of batting. Staple the batting to the sides of the wood base to reduce bulk under the fabric.

Position the seat on the fabric, centering the design.

Pleating the fabric helps it lay flat.
Now, this bentwood beauty is a perfect blend of classic lines and modern style.

Love it?  Check out the ad listing here.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Bachelor Pad Woes Go to Wows!

Ugh - that was a lame post title. Anyway, my friend Jason was in desperate need of a living room makeover. His living room poses some challenges. An almost perfectly square room, it has doors on three walls and two large windows on the fourth. It is also pretty small (he has an apartment in an older house) and we needed to accommodate an insanely large TV that was already mounted and couldn't be moved. Not to mention the industrial renter's standard blah carpet.

I really love this makeover as it was a blend of DIY projects, Ikea hacks, and making over things he already owned. It was a true make it work project!   Luckily, he already had a couch, an MCM dresser for storage, and an MCM chair so we were able to complete the rest on only $550.

In an effort to make the space more homey, Jason experimented with a deep brick red. In that small a room it just didn't work so he repainted it a light gray blue instead.  

I wanted to aim for MCM lite that is clean and sleek but comfortable and didn't look like the set of a TV show! The plan for the space used a blend of patterned and textured fabrics, wood tones, and metallic sheen.

The MCM dresser and chair were lucky finds a couple years ago. The dresser was bought for a steal at a thrift store and refinished. The chair was found discarded on the side of the road and refreshed with new upholstery and oil. It really floors me sometimes what some people discard.

I pulled off the brown pillow covers that matched the couch - it was just too much brown! I sewed new pillow covers in patterned fabric to lighted up the space. The gauzy Ikea curtains were dressed up with gray shantung silk panels sewed to the bottom of the curtains. I used the Ikea rug to mimic a Beni Ourain rug, by drawing the diamond pattern with a Sharpie.  See the full how-to here.  The corner tassels are made of yarn in the same shade as the rug. We really lucked out with the coffee table that was unused in a relative's storage shed. The large wall also allowed us to display Jason's guitars. He is an outstanding musician and now his guitars are in early reach.

The starburst mirror is one of my favorite DIYs. Made out of wooden paint stirrers from the hardware store and painted gold, it adds some much needed shine and shape for about $10. The side table is Ikea and the lamp is a consignment store find that was neglected at the back of a display shelf. A good cleaning and new shade and it is back in business!

I installed the shelves low on the wall, and hung a large painting above. The painting is inspired by a wall paper I caught a glimpse of in a decor mag in the grocery store aisle and could never find again. The little beaten copper cup was a thrift store find.

I love that we were able to get more of Jason's artwork and treasures into the space but it still feels light, bright, and clean. And most importantly, Jason loves it!

Rescued, Restored, and Revived MCM Nightstand

I found this sweet little MCM nightstand in a local thrift store and, boy, was she in need of some TLC!  After some much needed reconstruction with glue and wood putty, she was revived with a coat of Benjamin Moore's Tropicana Cabana and gold paint on her dainty tapered legs.  

Doesn't she just remind you of the aqua blue waters and golden sand of a Caribbean island? 

The cavity and the drawer are lined with a black and white chevron to make it pop.   The nightstand is finished with Minwax satin polycrylic finish.

Love it? See the sale ad posting here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New Living Room

I am super excited to share our new living room.  This has been in the works for a few months as we knew we wanted to have a number of handmade items.  We had a two month wait once we ordered the couch so we had some time to complete all the DIY projects.  We still had the furniture we bought quickly and on the cheap when we moved here, and after 5 years we were tired of the dark, muddy tones.  The change to a light and airy design is just what we wanted!

Here are a couple shots of the finished room.  Not all the pillows and artwork were finished when I took the first photo, hence the difference.

Coffee Table

Gallery Wall - in progress

Fireplace Vignette

The couch is the Henry Sofa from West Elm in gray velvet.  The rug is from Joss & Main.

Our DIY projects were:

Coffee table - I found the table on the side of the road.  It was a darker stain and very beat up, but I loved the MCM shape of it.  Sanding off the finish revealed a beautiful pattern to the pieced circular top.

Pillows - I wanted an eclectic mix of mismatched pillows, and I've been collecting interesting fabric for a few months.

Artwork - Using newspaper templates of artwork we've collected from our travels, we arranged a gallery wall behind the couch that I think really shows off our collection.

Remote Caddy - Wanting to keep the table as clear of clutter as possible, I stitched up a remote caddy for the arm of the couch.  Best part is that it isn't that visible from the rest of the room.

New Fireplace Vignette - Our fireplace isn't a working one (and really who needs one in California), so we filled it with a salvaged block and tackle, and pillar candles nestled in white sand. It looks great at night.  The garland is made out of jute twine, upholstery webbing strips, and starfish.

Ottoman - This one is really my favorite.  Using the excellent tutorial for a boxed cushion ottoman at Design*Sponge and at this blog, we made an upholstered ottoman out of an old end table found at a thrift store.

I am excited to share tutorials on the DIY projects soon!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Textile Designs with Bleach

Our new couch is arriving in mid-August, so, of course, we are now redesigning the rest of the living room to match it (shhh...boyfriend hasn't caught on yet, or at least, is choosing not to mention this state of affairs).  The new couch doesn't come with throw pillows so I am making a few of contrasting fabrics.  We ordered down pillow inserts from Amazon, and I've been madly browsing Pinterest for interesting ideas.

I wanted to do a pillow with text on it, and found this great quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald: "They fell briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered."  Love it.

I have a couple yards of dark, lightweight denim and thought it would be neat to bleach the quote onto the denim pillow.

You'll need:
dark fabric
bleach pen
stencil (or freehand)
cardboard, large enough to more than cover the area you will be bleaching
ruler and chalk
well ventilated area (I worked next to a open window)

1. Lay the fabric, right side up, on the cardboard (to protect your work surface).

2. With chalk and a ruler, mark off your outside dimensions of the pillow.  I also marked the 1/2 inch seam allowance on all sides, then a further 1 1/2 inches inside as I didn't want the quote to go all the way to the seam.

3. Mark straight lines across as your guide to the lettering.  I wanted very regular, straight text but swirly cursive could also be fun.  My stencil letters were an inch tall and I included 1/2 inch between the bottom of the letters to the top of the next row.  Stencil, or write, your lettering using tailor's chalk.
Marking off all guide lines.

4. With even pressure, begin writing with the bleach pen, which was a gel so the letters kept their shape and the bleach didn't bleed into the fabric.  Do some test lettering on a scrap.

Let the bleach sit.

5.  Let the bleach gel sit on the fabric for about 1 hour.  I noticed that the gel had dried at that point.  Rinse the gel under water.  I also washed the fabric with soap to remove as much of the bleach residue as possible.  The fabric also needs to be machined washed.

The lettering, after washing off the bleach
The bleached effect is so neat, I sketched a starfish on a scrap of denim too. I like how the bleach doesn't fade the fabric evenly, making a unique effect.

Some tips for writing with a gel bleach pen:
  • Try to use even pressure to get a uniform bead.
  • If you want a narrow bead, write so that the bleach comes from behind the pen, so forming curved letters like Cs and Os have to be done in two parts, first the top curve then the bottom curve.  Basically, you don't want to drag the pen tip through part of the letter you've already written.
  • If you pause in writing, be sure to tilt the pen tip up so the bleach gel doesn't gather in the tip and come out in a splat.

Next up: constructing the pillow!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Crystal Dessert Stand

The internet is full of instructions for making dessert stands . . . . . and here’s another one!

My three tiered dessert stand is made from plates from the thrift store, an ice cream sundae dish, and glass candle sticks from the dollar store.  They are bonded together with a clear epoxy.  Be sure to use an epoxy that does not include silicon, which will keep it from hardening.

  • Clean and dry the glassware.
  • Mix the epoxy according to the package instructions.
  • Spread epoxy on the bottom of the sundae dish and center on the bottom of the large plate.
  • Epoxy the tops of each candlestick and center on the bottom of the medium and small dishes.
  • Allow the epoxy to set.  You now have 3 single tiered stands, small, medium, and large.

  • Spread epoxy on the bottom of the candlestick of the medium set and center on the top of the large plate.
  • Epoxy the bottom of the candlestick of the small set and center on the top of the medium plate.
  • Allow to set.
I used the sundae dish upside down to make a wider base.  I love how the plates are all different as well!  The glassware cost about $10 and the epoxy $5.

We set the stand up for Easter breakfast.  The scones are a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, which makes the best scones I’ve ever had.   

The punch is one bottle of Naked Berry Veggie smoothie, 3 cups of orange juice, and one 33 oz bottle of lime seltzer.  I think it would be great with a sparkling rosé for an adult version too.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

From Maps to Plants, Repurposing and Reviving an Old Map Stand

I work in a small, shared office at a university.  We recently reorganized and re-envisioned our office space that including paring back and purging what we didn't need.  It was a great and invigorating spring clean!

Ever since I've started working there, an old metal map stand has stood in the corner but didn't serve a purpose in our office, so I brought it home, gave it a good cleaning, and came up with the idea to turn it into a plant stand.  The slats for rolled up maps were perfect supports for shelves.

Dusty and drab!

It was very dusty and tarnished, so the first step was just cleaning it!

Then, I used this technique over at one of my favorite blogs, Centsational Girl.  I scrubbed the stand with lemon juice and salt.  This polished off some of the tarnish but not too much.  I'm not sure if it is brass or bronze, but I am loving the warm golden glow that shows through.

Using wood I had left over in my basement, I cut out the two shelves. I wanted them to look like aged, reclaimed wood.  I pounded the edges and corners of the shelves with a hammer, dragged the hammer over the flat surface of the wood, and banged some other metal tools into the wood, leaving dents and gouges.  I even scraped the wood against our rough concrete driveway.  I sanded the shelves until smooth, then wiped it free of dust.

Loving the bands and knots in the wood.
Dented edges (sounds like an '80s rock band).
Continuing with the reclaimed look, I decided to oil the wood with black walnut tinted Danish oil, and finish it with an orange beeswax.  This combo gives the wood a nice patina that doesn't look too "finished."  I love the different bands of colors and the knots. 

I am always surprised at how much the dents and nicks show once a stain or oil is applied.  My advice is to be a bit conservative in the amount you do and scrub the stain or oil into those imperfections to bring them out.

I love the wood and metal combo!

I love the end result and the shape of the metal stand.  I am now able to display some of the white stones we brought back from the Greek islands a few years back.  Wrapped with copper wire, they are an interesting way to display photos and postcards. 

Loving how the white stones pop against my dark "reclaimed" shelf!
I was having a lot of fun with the stones and wire and made this little sculpture of a stack of small stones as well! 
Oh, and the postcard there, of the Fog City Diner in San Francisco?  It is of a painting by my mom.  Check out her amazing pastel paintings here!

The total cost of this project was $0, yup $0!  And it gave new life to an interesting, but not functional, antique.