Sunday, July 31, 2011

Home Sweet Home

I'm home again... after one of the best weeks of my life.

It was full of fun and excitement and happiness and love. But now I miss my family a lot more. I was doing fine after months of being settled in with our own little life 3000 miles away... but I can't stay here forever. Not that we have plans to move or anything... I'm still determined to continue renovating this home and to fulfill all these visions I have for it. And for the record, I like Florida better than California, in almost every way. The weather, the lakes and forests, uncrowded white sand beaches with swimmable water, no traffic on Sundays, cost of living, abundant wildlife... and the gorgeous ever-changing skies most of all. But my heart is with my family, and my family is in California. We'll see what the future brings....

For now, it's back to reality here with plans for the house (low cost projects, as we're still working with a single income budget) and working on my business which has been keeping me so busy (yay!). I've got some big changes in the works right now that will be launched within the next week or two and I can't wait to share. Keeping my focus on the fun stuff is helping me get through this rough patch, and hopefully we'll come out the other end much better and stronger.

If you didn't get a chance to see this yet, check out my latest feature on IHeartOrganizing! Jen found a pic of my entryway and asked me to do a quick write-up of the transformation and I couldn't be more honored!

Trying to decide what to do for next weekends project... find and refinish a new dining table? Frame gallery wall? New dresser for the office? Repaint our bedroom dresser + night stands? Upholstered headboard for the bed? Curtains in the sun room? So much to do, so little time! Stay tuned to see what happens :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Vintage chest: officially done!

I'm not gonna lie... this project sucked. But I finished it anyway, so I might as well post about it.

To get everyone up to speed, last weekend I converted this old chest:

Into our new coffee table:

And I saved the final step of transforming the insides for this weekend.

The chest came with this nifty shelf thing:

But it was flimsy and covered with old faux wood contact paper and glue and nastiness. After trying to (unsuccessfully) remove all the paper, I figured I'd just cover it with fabric instead.

I ended up choosing a thick canvas fabric to do the job ($18 for 2 yards on sale at Joann's):

You can see I also removed the divider. I knew it would be near impossible for me to wrap fabric around it with that thing in the way.

The first step was to reinforce the bottom. It was made out of one thin layer of some species of pressed fiber board, and I didn't trust it. So I had Lowe's cut a piece of 1/4" plywood to fit. Of course to the lumber cutting technicians, "fit" means within a half inch or so, so there was a little gap on 2 sides, but nothing a little caulk can't fix.

This mess was going to be covered by fabric... don't judge.

After securing the plywood down (with wood glue and caulk around the seams), I let it sit overnight with lots of weight to secure it:

In the meantime, I added 2 coats of white semi gloss paint and 3 coats of polycrylic to the inside (sorry, no pics of this process, just picture the inside white and shiny).

Then it was time to get to the cutting. I had it all perfectly planned out in my head, but somewhere between the mental plan and the execution things went awry.

I first tested a couple strips of the fabric to confirm it would stick to the surface. Mission accomplished. The top one had an extra coat of modge podge over the top to "seal" it in, but I decided I liked the natural feel of the uncoated fabric instad.

Then I laid it on the fabric and began to trace.

I'm not sure if you can spot the flaw in this layout, but I should have traced out extra panels so I could wrap the fabric all the way around the edges to reach the inside so the seams weren't out in the open. It's hard to explain and apparently for me even harder to execute.

Unfortunately I cut my fabric in half before I realized this so I had to come up with a plan B using the remnants I had. This plan is also difficult to explain without the aid of pictures and/or sketches, but basically it was comprised of 3 different pieces... one for the outside bottom and 2 sides, one for the other 2 sides, and one for the inside bottom.

I made my traces and applied modge podge to where I would be cutting (so the fabric wouldn't fray)

And then in my frustration/annoyance I stopped taking pictures... so fast forward to the end, and I had a bunch of crooked, incorrectly measured seams. They were mostly along the inside bottom and I was trying to figure out how to conceal them. Then one good idea finally struck me... flashback to these handles:

Yes, rope was the answer. So I broke out the hot glue gun and got to work:

After a few minutes my ugly seams were hidden!

Luckily this won't be out in the open much so I'm not too worried. It was a learning experience, and reaffirmed the fact I should stick to the "shabby" look, since it will probably end up looking that way no matter what I do, ha. Hopefully I can get a little of the chic part in there too.

Anyway, here it is in use:

Definitely useful, right? I think so. I'm happy with it!

On another note... one week from right now I'll be reuniting with my long lost family (I haven't seen them since Christmas, a record 7 months!) in San Diego. I've been counting down the days for months now and lately have been a little homesick in the anticipation.

This was the inspiration for my latest print... and one of my favorites:

As always, it's completely customizable... down to your location, colors, size and orientation.

I'll be checking in with a few pics of my trip, and I'll be back in a few weeks with more D&R goodness. Have a happy July everyone!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vintage chest turned coffee table

I love this project. It actually might be my most favorite one ever (I know I say that about a lot, but this one... swoon).

It was actually somewhat of a happy accident. I was browsing through craigslist searching for various things, one of them being a coffee table. I spotted an ad for an old footlocker/chest, and through the small pixelated pictures knew it could serve as the perfect coffee table with a little elbow grease. The best part was the price: $20! That was music to my single-income-budget ears.

So I forced asked my sweet husband to drive down there the next morning and pick it up for me. Apparently, trying to squeeze it into the passenger seat of our 2-seater was a super dramatic event and I can never buy anything big again because we don't have a truck. Fine. But it was worth it, because it was better than I had expected.

So it's a little ... black. But loaded with potential. And it came with this really cool storage divider.

Ignore the peeling paper... someone had lined it with faux-wood grain wall paper-like material, which I spent a good 30 minutes trying to remove. Not an easy task.

I grew tired of that and decided it was a project for next weekend, which I'll get to shortly.

Here's the inside with the storage compartment removed:

So my plan for this thing was to paint it a soft, very pale turquoise and apply a bit of distressing to enhance the vintage feel. I've never done something quite like this, but this "weathered" style is a good idea for me because every time I screw something up it adds character instead of becoming something I need to go back and fix. So yeah, I'm down with the shabby chic.

Anyway, the first step was to remove some of that black paint to reveal the metal underneath:

I went ahead and purchased Zinsser's oil based primer (recommended by Centsational Girl), and got down to business.

Here's after a few coats of primer:

After the primer was dry, I began mixing my paint. For this project I bought a pint of Valspar's "Crystal Sea". I went a few shades darker so I could mix it with white to create the perfect pale blue, and I would have lots of blue paint leftover for other projects. Brilliant, right? I thought so.

I ended up using somewhere around 4 parts white to 1 part blue. I bought an empty can to mix and store it in so I have plenty leftover to paint our future dining room table to match.

Before I got to painting, I decided to give it a quick coat of the pure blue to create more tones in the distressing:

Then I mixed my perfect pale blue:

It looks a lot darker in this pic than it really is!

I applied a coat of my mix, let it dry, then sanded over the edges so the metal showed through (sorry no pics of this process, it was at night and I was late to a game of Charades at the neighbors).

I also needed to address these handles:

Painted black leather is not the look I was going for, so I found some woven rope-like material and thought it would be cool to wrap it around the handle:

And the finished look:

With this piece I wanted to make sure it stayed protected (since it would be near food/drinks/cats), so I applied 3 coats of Minwax's water based polycrylic as the finishing touch (also recommended by Centsational Girl). I've never used anything like it before and won't ever refinished a piece of furniture without it!

And finally, here is what $20 (plus paint supplies) got me:

(yes, there's way more pics than necessary here but I couldn't help myself with this one)

And that is the tale of my new most favorite thing in the world in our house right now. It was also good practice for painting our dining table (as soon as I find a cheap round pedastal on craigslist!)

As for the insides... right now the interior is still white primer while I figure out what to do with it. I'll probably leave it white and give it a coat of polycrylic for durability.

As for the storage compartment, I was thinking about wrapping it in some pretty coordnating fabric. Maybe a natural/jute material to tie in with the handles? Or maybe something with white and aqua in it? We'll see... hope to tackle that next weekend.

Enjoy your week!

Linked up with the DIY Showoff!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Goodwill score + gallery wall plans.

Happy 4th! I hope everyone is enjoying sunny warm weather with friends, food & fireworks right about now! I haven't even stepped foot outside today... or yesterday really for that matter. I've been a complete lazy bum. But we did celebrate with our neighbors on Saturday with a bbq and pool party. My neighbor Sue made the most perfect, delicious holiday cake:

I wish I knew how to bake... or cook for that matter, but anyways. While I was pretty much useless this weekend, I did manage to find something I've been wanting for a while at the local Goodwill—a white porcelain jar set for our kitchen.

Aren't they cute?

And here's the best part.... wait for it..... wait for it.......

Booyeah, 99 cents a piece. That means #4 for the whole set. Sold.

They needed some serious deep cleaning and disinfecting, but they came out looking like new once I was done. So worth it!

I filled them with random items like crystal light drink powders, granola/breakfast bars, tea, and sugar packets.

I have plans to put them on the open shelf we're going to build eventually, but for now they fit just fine on the counter.

And that is how you shop on a budget. Sadly this was the first time I've been to the Goodwill here, but I really need to start going more!

While I was there I also picked up a wooden frame for $2 for my next project—a frame gallery wall. I know that gallery walls are pretty much the hottest thing since NKOTB nowadays, but mine will be different. I'm thinking a frame-only arrangement (as in, bare frames, no pictures)

Something like this:

And this...

I love the abstract look it creates, without becoming a focal point with pictures. It almost blends in with the wall and creates an interesting textured backdrop.

I have a visual in my head that I haven't seen anywhere else yet, but basically the plan is to collect several random frames, paint them all in shades of pale blue and white (perhaps distressed?), and arrange them in an interesting way on the back wall over our console table in the living room. They will be replacing this old Ikea picture on the right:

I just need to start doing some hardcore craigslisting and yardsaling to get the goods, but this should be a relatively cheap and easy project. And I'm all about cheap and easy these days (ha).

While moping around the house this weekend I also developed a list of other relatively inexpensive projects I can do around here while money is still tight. This is what I came up with:

• Find and distress an old wooden window frame for the fireplace (perhaps turn the window panes into a mirror?)
• Find another single pane window (or something similar) to create a chalkboard to hang in the kitchen (maybe I'll just build my own)
• Find a round pedastal dining table on the cheap to refinish (I was thinking a pale blue)
• Find a coffee table or chest to refinish (maybe a light natural wood, or pale blue to match the dining table)
• Hang the curtains I bought at ikea months ago in the sunroom
• Paint the old wood side tables white (our neighbor gave them to us months ago and they've been sitting in the sunroom and man cave, bugging me with their orangeness)
• Install the Ikea kitchen rail we just bought (we need to come up with a creative way to mount it since we can't drill into our glass tile).

As you can see that should be enough to keep us busy for a while... hopefully until Brad's new business gets going and we can get back to spending the big bucks.

It's still frustrating and difficult for me to watch a weekend go by with no changes being made, but at least it's not as hectic around here I suppose... and I am forced to focus on all the little things I've been putting off.

One day at a time...