26 December 2011

Cheap & Easy Placemat Cushions!

Hope that everyone celebrating this time of year a wonderful holiday weekend :) Before heading out for some boxing day shopping, I just wanted to share some really quick and easy DIY cushions I made last week out of Pottery Barn placemats!

I’ve always wanted to buy something from Pottery Barn, ever since that episode of Friends when Rachel and Phoebe shopped there. Then I could casually tell people “Oh I just picked that up at Pottery Barn” and they’d think I was super cool...just like the girls on Friends.

Well I haven’t been able to take the plunge on any of their fabulous price tags just yet, but I did recently find some great napkins and placemats in the sale bin! So I scooped up a couple for a thrifty cushion idea that I first saw on Thrifty Decor Chick :) 

Throw pillows are seriously one of my favourite accessories. All the beautiful shapes and colours and textures, and who doesn’t love that snuggly cushy goodness? But when I shopped for my living room cushions awhile back I realized the nice ones don’t come cheap!

This DIY alternative was great – simple and super quick without breaking the bank :)

First I made a little opening between the two fabrics of the placemat. I didn’t have seam rippers but I was able to do it with some small scissors and a little pin.

I made the opening just big enough for my hand to wriggle in. Then I stuffed it to my heart's content :) making sure along the way that it wasn’t too clumpy.

 And then I sewed them up! Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

There was hardly any sewing, like literally 4-5 inches, totally doable. In less than an hour I had myself two pretty new cushions and one dressed up bedroom :)

I love how they turned out! It adds a really bright and fresh little pop of colour. I couldn’t fit both cushions on the bed so the second one is dressing up this old chair for now.

The placemats were marked down to $5.49 each, and the stuffing was on sale at Fabricland for $3.99 a bag (I used little over one bag). So these sunny little sweethearts were just over $7.50 each!

Love it! At that price I can still change them up from time to time without feeling too bad :) (and I can do my boxing day shopping today without feeling too guilty either :)

19 December 2011

Drab to Fab: A Dresser Makeover!

I’ve never really been a big fan of black furniture, until now. This dresser makeover has got me feeling all kinds of new love for black. Black is back and I think it’s ready to party…at my place. Or at least I am. Especially now that this dresser is finally done!

We spotted the piece at Goodwill last month and jumped on it! (not literally :)

It was in great condition with only a few little dings, and it was solid and sturdy as heck. Most importantly, it had gorgeous lines and really lovely little details - the perfect candidate for a makeover :)

Before starting, I decided to replace the outdated hardware with some new knobs. The old screw holes were 5 inches apart, and handles that size would’ve been too chunky. So I measured out new holes using an IKEA drill guide, and my husband drilled them. He wouldn’t let me watch though, because I’d allegedly start obsessing over them being perfectly centered :)

Then we used a couple layers of our trusty wood filler to fill the old holes, and sanded them down smooth.

Then the dresser was ready to be primed and painted! I used the Zinsser Cover Stain primer again, and for the paint I chose a deep onyx.

Everything was going well until I was several coats in and hating the dresser top. It was super patchy, not the elegant finish I was going for. I tried another coat or two and only made it worse! I ended up stripping the whole top down and starting fresh, which you can read about here. Once it was stripped to the bare wood, I was able to get it right. The primer went on like a dream, and it was much easier to paint an even finish. Taking the time to prep the surface made a world of difference. I also learned the hard way that applying a second coat too fast will not be pretty!

Lots of bumps along the way in this project, but I'm absolutely loving the finished product!

I thought about splurging on crystal knobs, but then we found these beauts on clearance at Canadian Tire. I love how classy and elegant they are, and they look fabulous against the black!

I always thought black was too stark, but I have to admit it's just so sophisticated and timeless, and on this piece it makes the woodwork details stand out so much more. And those knobs are the icing on the cake! (Mmm..I could go for some cake.. :)

Here’s another before and after shot:

This project ended up being a lot of work, but it was totally worth it! And I (hopefully) learned a lot along the way. The dresser cost us $48 at Goodwill, the knobs about $14, and I’d estimate another $30 on supplies. A high class makeover for under $100!   

14 December 2011

Remove Paint Using a Paint Stripper

I think I accidentally sanded off some of my fingerprints yesterday (not to worry though, I had braces as a teen so I have extensive dental records in case of anything). I was trying to remove the paint job on a makeover I’m working on. In order to salvage what remained of my hands, I decided to try using a paint stripper.

The project: another Goodwill dresser makeover that has gone oh-SO wrong.

The problem: I couldn’t get an even coat of paint on the dresser top – it looked okay, but some patchiness and roller marks were visible. I tried different tips online, but there is such a range of advice out there! I just couldn’t get it right…To make matters worse I was starting new coats before the last had fully cured…I know, you want to smack me don’t you? The paint felt tacky and dented so easily. Plus it has this weird look to it – not exactly bubbly, but kind of like really big pores.

The solution: remove the paint, strip it all off, and start fresh! So we started sanding…and sanding…and sanding! After some serious elbow grease and a couple of battle wounds it still felt like we weren’t getting anywhere. Like those dreams where you’re running on a treadmill not getting any closer to your destination. 

Enter paint stripper!

I went with Heirloom’s Bio Option Furniture Stripper. Home depot paint guy (that’s right, we’re on a first name basis :) suggested another Heirloom product, but I wanted the least toxic one possible.

The verdict: worked like a charm! It does still smell, but probably not nearly as bad as the more toxic versions. It was really easy to use too (for beginners like me!). I poured it directly onto the dresser and spread it with a brush in a generous coat. Let it sit for a while – I found it worked better the longer I left it (i.e. 45 mins as opposed to 15). Then we removed the paint and primer by scraping it off with a putty knife. I had to apply the stripper a few times to get everything and some areas required a little more oomph to the scrape, but generally the paint came off without much effort.

The instructions recommend cleaning up all the paint and stripper residue with paint thinner, but I’m going to have to work out a less toxic alternative. 

Then let’s just pray I don’t mess up the painting again :) Hopefully I’ll have a dresser reveal to post about soon!

Updated Tips
  • if you’re only stripping part of a piece like me, save yourself from a lot of touch ups by taking the time to cover and protect the other areas! I was careful when applying the stripper, but some of the residue from the scrapings fell onto other areas and the paint peeled:(
  • I did end up using paint thinner for the clean up, followed by a very light sanding. I tried just scrubbing it down, but that wasn't enough to remove everything and get a clean smooth surface.

12 December 2011

DIY Cake Stands On The Cheap

My husband asked me recently why everything in our home has legs. I have this newfound love for footed accessories – hurricane vases, candle holders, apothecary jars, cloches, cake stands, and everything in between :)
I also have an everlasting love for all things cheap (and just to be totally honest, an everlasting desire for many things expensive), so I decided to make myself some cheap and simple DIY cake stands!

I’ve seen versions of this DIY project in many places, but I wanted to do mine in glass, so I shopped around for just the right parts. I picked up the perfect candle holders and plates at Value Village and the Salvation Army. 

Apparently my husband finally started catching on to the leg thing. We were out shopping when he came up with his own idea:

Love that he was inspired...unfortunately not everything looks better on a pedestal :)

To attach the pieces for my stands I used a silicone sealant. Other types of waterproof adhesive would work too, I just went with the one that didn’t have the scary skull and cross bones on it :/

Here’s the how-to: put a little ring of sealant around the top rim of the candle holder and place it on the centre of the plate bottom - so quick and ridiculously easy (except for my OCD on finding the exact centre)! 

The sealant dried pretty fast, but I left the stands overnight under a stack of heavy books for good measure.

And voila! Got myself some new cake stands that I looooove! These are great pieces to serve desserts or just fill up with pretty little accessories!  

Those charming little natural balls by the way are from Dollarama -a 5 pack for $2!

I really happy with the glass, but it turns out you can see the sealant through the top of the plate (it`s clear but a bit gloopy). But no biggie, they’ll usually be covered up :) An alternative would be to use solid plates or spray paint the whole stand - the possibilities are endless!

The plates were $1.49 and the candle holders 99¢ - a total of 5 bucks for two fabulously cheap DIY cake stands!

5 December 2011

Pottery Barn Knock Off Lamp!

I mentioned my new lamp in my last post, but I've fallen so truly madly deeply in love with it in the last 24 hours that I had to write about it again. 

I stopped by Yorkdale today on my way home from work to look for a new parka, but somehow I ended up in Pottery Barn :) where I spotted this gorgeous task lamp. 

It also came with a pretty price tag of $259! Which made me fall so much harder for my fabulous Goodwill find yesterday, which was a lovely 13 bucks :)

If anyone lives in the Toronto area, there's still another one in the Overlea store! Thank me for not scooping up both :)

Sharing this at Trash to Treasure Tuesdays and Twice Owned Tuesdays !

4 December 2011

No Sew Curtains For The Curtainly-Challenged

Making curtains is apparently not my thing. It seems so simple, but I always manage to complicate it somehow. One time I picked a ridiculously thick and heavy fabric that broke about a thousand sewing machine needles. Another time I chose a gorgeous raw silk that was too stiff and slippery to stay put on the rod – the drapes kept spreading out and shrouding me in darkness.

So it's something of a miracle that this attempt turned out well :) I used fabric tape to make a set of curtains for the large wall-to-wall windows in the main living space of our apartment. 

I still made a bunch of mistakes and it took me several tries to get it right, but the finished product looks great :) If I can do this, honestly anyone can. I wish I had a before shot so you could see what a dramatic difference the drapes make in the space!

If you are curtain-challenged like me, I've made a list of dos and don'ts for my future sewing-self to learn from my mistakes :)
  1. Accept the fact that your husband’s mind just isn't wired to understand the decorative necessity of curtains, and pray that he comes around :)
  2. Pick the right fabric! Something lightweight and flowy
  3. Measure like 10 times, maybe even 12. I measured 3 or 4 times but my drapes still ended up too long. I re-measured and re-hemmed, and they were still too long! (I swear I do know how to do math...)
  4. Fabric tape is your friend :) It was super easy to use with an iron, and it made a perfect hem. Just don’t try re-hemming like I did without opening the first hem – two layers of the tape plus several layers of folded fabric left me with a very thick and very stiff hem. Not helpful if you want the drapes to fall nicely!
Eventually I got it right though :)
I'm in loooooove with this fabric! It's light and bright and I love the pretty subtle pattern. I'd had my eye on it for over a year at Fabricland and it was finally marked down, it was totally meant to be :)

These curtains make me happy : ) I smile when I see them. They really soften the look of the windows and make the room look a lot cozier. Best part is that they almost hide the old school office-looking blinds that I can’t stand.

By the way, you may or may not be eyeing my fabulous new desk lamp too :) Just picked it up today at Goodwill for 13 bucks!

Love it! And it looks perfect next to the new curtains! 

What do you think? Let me know if you have any tips to add to my list of dos and don'ts :)