Monday, March 12, 2018

Take Cover, Chair!

Once I got going with all the other projects in the guest room, I decided I really didn't want to live with the 1980s dusty blue upholstery on this chair. The chair is perfectly serviceable otherwise and not without its charms, but the upholstery is just too not-right.

I don't have the skills to truly reupholster it and I'm committed to cheapskate-ing this guest room update project to the bitter end... hence, the quick-n-dirty slipcover.

I scoured the small selection of upholstery fabric at JoAnn which is the only place I know of to buy upholstery fabric around here and came up with this as the least offensive of the cheap options. Only later did I realize the herringbone texture echoes the the pattern on the window shade fabric which is also the fabric used on the back of the duvet set. So there!

That's right, in order to get enough fabric to make both window shades from the fabric I had already, I had to orient the herringbone sideways! What's the world coming to?

This just needed to be quick, easy, and done.*

Although I steam pressed that crease out most of the way, it's obviously still there. Hopefully it will just kind of diminish over time. As it faces the wall most of the time and is a clean crease rather than a messy wrinkle, I'm not going to worry about it.

I got to use some of these great buttons that were a gift from my friend, Tiffany, over at Fizzy Party.

On my last post - Loads of Fun Laundry Room - I added a Real ________ Room Situation photo at the end so I wanted to do that here, too. But first a reminder of the recent work I've completed in the guest room.

 And now for the Real Guest Room Situation (RGRS) ...

Apologies for the blurriness. One has to act quickly with photographing Delia as she doesn't have time for such nonsense and will take measures to avoid the camera.

For this part of the guest room update project all I needed to purchase was 2 yards of fabric. 


      $  7.98 - clearance upholstery fabric

*In the interest of full disclosure: I am not quick; I spent about five hours making this, not including sourcing materials. It wasn't hard-hard, but it did take some time planning in order to not waste materials or have a bunch of weird seams. I have no amendments to "done," because it is. Done, I mean.

Monday, March 5, 2018

A Loads of Fun Laundry Room

The next steps for updating the guest room and taking care of some other projects upstairs are kind of intimidating - they're just big and/or uncharted territory, not really difficult. So, I decided to do some other, simpler projects that I have had in mind & partly sourced for awhile... to decorate the laundry room. Well, it's really more of a glorified closet than a room. Now that I think about it, it's probably smaller than the master closet which is big, but not glamour-big.

I actually painted this room in the first couple of weeks of our moving in five-and-a-half years ago. It had been a sort of 1970s baby blue with hyperlink blue on the fuse box and washing machine outlet box. Why someone would want to call attention to those things is a mystery to me... especially if they're going to do a sloppy job of painting them. So I made sure to cover it with an equally distinctive, but more contemporary color that is more my jam before we got the washer and dryer in there. Sadly, I didn't have the time to replace these 1980s looking peel-and-stick vinyl floor tiles, but I do have a plan in mind when I feel up to disconnecting the water heater for a day and struggling with shoving around the stacked washer/dryer.

Oh, hey, look! There's also some probably-original, 1976, faux brick-ish, sheet vinyl under the water heater! Sigh.

I had picked up these vintage flash cards at various vintage markets over the last few years with intent to frame them using thrifted frames. But digging around in thrift store frame piles - and aren't they usually just horizontally oriented piles? - is something I find really easy to put off until next time... the next-time-that-never-comes, apparently. So I set out to look specifically one afternoon and luckily found three that were close enough at one shop and for under $8.

Not sure why I am so attracted to these things, but I am. Obviously, because I made these xmas decorations with some, too.

I'm still committed to trying to use up stash materials whenever possible and feel like what I got from my scrapbook paper stash worked pretty well to mount the flashcards on, both for colors and for sort of a fabric-inspired theme.

Here are the frames with the glass and "pictures" out, ready to be refinished. On the two oak ones I used the old pickling treatment and the black and "cherry" I used house primer and paint. Spray paint probably would've been faster, but I'm not a fan of how spray paint looks on oak and I already had these other materials on hand, anyway.

Once they were dry, I thoroughly cleaned the glass and got them all put together! 

The reason I chose white? I painted them all white to coordinate with... this laundry soap jug diorama! I had saved the pin that inspired it years ago and was able to make this whole diorama with materials in stash and on-hand.

The washer/dryer set is vintage Fisher Price Little People stuff... which I LOVE!
Most of this is "merely" assembled, but I did make the little clothes rack and the wee hangers on it. I'm trying to come up with just the right thing to sit on the shelf, but am considering this done-enough.

YAHOO! This is where we're at now; just a bit cheerier and a lot less plain. It will feel a little nicer to go in there now and it feels quite nice to have a couple long-simmering project complete.

And now for some REAL TRUTH! The photo below is closer to the Real Laundry Room Situation (RLRS)... at least the RLRS after a good cleaning and de-cluttering. The Real Real Laundry Room Situation (RRLRS) is TOO REAL for public viewing.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Paint It (Almost) Black

But before we get to the paint, let's talk window shades.

This project was more of a stash buster: the grey fabric is left over flannel from making the back of the duvet set - which was originally a queen sheet set. I guess I never posted about that project specifically, but a photo of the duvet set can be seen in the post about the bedside tables I made last spring. As with the shelf-backers project, I had to buy fusible interfacing to stabilize the flannel so it would hang nicely and be easier to work with.

The back is black-out liner I was given back when we lived in Portland; the same batch I used for the first set of blinds for the guest room. I also had all the roman shade hardware except the cleat in my stash. Aw, yeah!

Entirely plain shades did not sit will with me, but adding a color to them didn't either. While poking around on the internet looking at all kinds of window blinds trim I came upon giant pompon trim on an ottoman and became immediately smitten. Now here is my little bit of ridiculous! I picked up some yarn to coordinate with the flannel on sale + coupon. I already had the pompon makers.

I also already had all the little hardware bits for the shades themselves (rings, screw eyes, cleats, cord pulls). Originally I imagined cast iron cleats and did not want to use the clear plastic ones I had, but I really like the feeling I get when I use what I have and since the cord management isn't a design statement in this case, I decided to stick with the clear plastic. I also wasn't excited about the white plastic cord pulls, so I dug around in my "non-paper ephemera" and bead stashes until I found these funny plastic bowler hats that come on Broker's Gin bottles!

The new window shades sort of demanded new paint colors, particularly for the ceiling. I still love that green ceiling, but it just wasn't right anymore. Plus the new light fixture didn't have as large of a footprint - or is it a "headprint" when it's on the ceiling? - as the old builders' boob light.

I know it's counter to just about everyone else's love of Light & Bright, but both Eric and I prefer Dark & Serene. That inclination combined with the colors in the duvet set, lead to me being sort of obsessed with dark grey. Not for the walls, but... for the ceiling! After deciding on the window shades, I wanted to do the window wall, too. Of course, we didn't have this paint on hand, so we had to purchase it. It was easily the most costly part of this whole project... which says something about our (by which I mean MY*) skills at thriftiness, because DIY painting is widely considered one of the least costly ways to update a room.

That cozy, embracing, darkness...

While I was at it, I chose a new color for the rest of the walls. It coordinates better with the duvet and new shelf backers better... and I think it looks better with Eric's guitars, too. That said, it's not so different that any return guests will likely notice, but I feel better about it. 

... with some warm, pecan-y lightness to balance it out.

Anyone who knows me from my decorative painting contractor days knows how I feel about outlets and switches; I hate the "look at my white rectangle" vibe that can happen when applying dark or bright colors and finishes to walls. Sure, I'm just-painting this room, but when I had worked with clients and designers to come up with fancy finishes in just the right tones and shades, it was a big old bummer to have the distraction of white/ivory/almond rectangles popping out at every switch and outlet. Soooooo, I was not going to have the old ivory outlet on my new dark grey wall, even if it's practically behind the bed & under the bedside "table." We decided to go for it and put in an outlet with USB ports so our guests can charge their devices conveniently. And while I was at it, I went ahead and got the screwless cover. And while I was at that, I went ahead and got replacements for the other two outlets and the two switches and all the covers in there, too. Not as much for color, but for my preferred styles of outlets and switches and also so I could get the screwless covers. These are small changes that probably hardly anyone else cares about or even notices, but I care and notice. Because I can install them myself, they aren't that big of an expense - except the USB outlet which was very close to half the cost of updating/upgrading these.

It seems to me that a good way to determine where to place the switch for the light you're adding to the closet, is to use the placement of other light switches; maybe even the one just a yard or so to the left, but what do I know?

As is typical with me, I added another while-I'm-at-it part to the painting project: cleaning off all the slop and spatter "applied" by prior painters to the mouldings and even the baseboard heater. Sigh + eye roll. Luckily, all the past paints were latex and removable with some denatured alcohol which I happened to have on hand. Luckily, it only added about an hour to this project to get clean up the mouldings. I still have to do some thinking and testing on dealing with the baseboard heater.


I had masking materials, drop clothes, roller covers, paint brushes, etc. I did need to replace my roller frame and buy paint. I also had most of the materials for the roman shade.

      $  93.00 - 2 gallons of paint
      $    7.45 -  roller frame

      $ 14.93 - fusible interfacing
      $   3.61 - 1x3 MDF
      $   2.88 - screen moulding
      $ 11.98 - yarn
      $ 33.40

      $  55.29


I have just a one more - hopefully simpler - project before I take another break from gussying the guest room and hopefully it will be completed and shared within a few weeks. After that, all that's left in here that is not just details is removing the awful, blue carpet. This blue had its day, but that day was decades ago... and let's face it, any broadloom carpet that is decades old is probably awful in one way or another. New flooring that room is not in the cards right now since we want to do all or most of the second floor with the same material. Either we'll live with it or do something advanced-half-ass. Let's call it "three-quarter-ass."

*Eric is plenty thrifty. PLENTY. But these kinds of purchases and DIY skills are not in his wheel house.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Light Control

In an effort to further update the guest room, I've made a few more things.


An accent lamp.

That's right another vintage thermos lamp and I used the same tutorial linked in the first post. This thermos was the first acquired specifically for lamp-ifying and I finally came up with a suitable lampshade idea for it, so finally made it.

This time I painted the hardware, "flat black." Hmmmm. Well, the only way this paint would be flat is I'd painted a pancake! This did not do what it says on the tin. Oh, well.

This is a plain, chandelier shade from Lowe's, covered with fabric recently added to my stash - ahem - and trimmed out with black twill tape.


Replaced the ceiling fixture with a repainted fixture.

Originally I thought I'd paint the existing bright brass builders' boob light (BBL) that was in there when we moved in. Then it occurred to me that we have a small stash of fixtures we'd taken out and stored in the shop with the intent to donate them and that I should have a look to see if there was something suitable that would be better than a repainted BBL. And I think there was!

From before the 2016 kitchen remodel started.

I think of this as 1970s (and earlier?) version of the cheap, utility light and it came out of the kitchen. I never liked it in there, but always found it more charming than a BBL... at least it looks vintage. So I decided to clean it up and give it a quick paint job: both the chrome base and the glass globe.

Of course, within the 40 years I assume that thing was up it had gotten paint on it from sloppy ceiling painters. Luckily, it was all latex paint and came off pretty easy with rubbing alcohol and a little attention from a razor blade. After some simple, but thorough, masking, I painted it in the woodshed and hung it to dry in the bathroom (door shut, heat & fan on).

The globe has a little paint and some dust, so I cleaned it up and did two quick pinstripes on the side. Inspired by the schoolhouse look, even if not really replicating it because of the different style.

I bet you can guess what's coming up next just by looking at this next photo. It ends with "t" and starts with pain. That's right... PAINT!

Question: Does the angle of this photo make the ceiling fixture look off-center?
Answer: No. The ceiling fixture being WAY off-center makes the ceiling fixture look off-center.

I used the same two 60-watt-equivelent LED light bulbs that came out of the boob light in the "new" light and it's so much brighter! Just goes to show you how much the fixture can matter.

Our supplies stashes were integral in these projects, but perhaps a little less so than the shelf backers. 

      $  5.98 - lamp shade
      $  2.39 - twill tape
      $  6.49 - bottle lamp kit
      $  0.49 - rubber grommet

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Hey Bookshelf, I Got Yer Back

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the weird, built-in bookshelf in the guest room was sagging under the weight of the books on it. During the project to shore it up, I decided to also spruce it up, because of course I did. Other than reorganizing and redistributing the contents, I also made some shelf backers to kind of balance the visual weight of the various sections as well as the whole thing.

The backers are behind the top, center shelf and the middle, right shelf.

One of the things that is kind of a fundamental way in which I approach most of my decorative house projects is doing what I can to make them un-doable. Obviously that's not always feasible - like with a tile back splash - but if I can use nails instead of construction adhesive with a good result, that's what I'm going to do. And if I can use screws instead of nails, then I'll to that if it'll keep the look right. That is how I approached this project. Someday we'll have our dream library in the next room and just take this less-than-ideal-for-us unit down, so not having weird rectangles of quilting cotton attached the wall is important for the future.

We were lucky that I had most of what was needed to make the backers on hand already:

     Bark print quilters cotton fabric
     Fusible interfacing (I had enough for only part of the project)
     Polypropylene sheets (you could use thin plywood, masonite, foam core, even strong cardboard)
     Duct tape

     Measuring tape & ruled straight edge
     Utility knife
     Rotary cutter & scissors
     Sewing machine
     Small wire nails

     Spray adhesive
     Metal eyelets
     Base shoe or quarter round moulding
     House paint

First steps

1. Measure the back of your shelf in both directions. I sure hope yours is square - as in the angles are all 90 degrees, because everything is level and plumb - because it's hard to cut your backer if it's not. Mine was not and my backers are not quite right because of it. Which means I don't know how exactly to help you get it right, but I would recommend starting with something inexpensive/free and easy to get a hold of like cardboard or paperboard to get it just right before cutting into a more expensive backer material.

Here are the fingerprinted and lint-coated scraps. Pretty impressive photo, eh?

That said, use cardboard if you think it will maintain it's integrity through the process. Just be sure your material is strong enough to hold its shape while being flexible enough to get into place and that you have a way to cut that material.

See how I had to make sure my backer was flexible to get around this? The front opening is smaller than the back surface.

2. One you've got the size just where you want it - whether that is just-right or not - then cut your backer. Go ahead and dry fit it just to be certain it's right.

3. Press and cut your fabric with enough extra to wrap around your backer and at least an inch on the back. I did 1.25 - 2 inches on mine. Cut your interfacing just a bit smaller than your fabric, then follow the directions for that interfacing to fuse it to the back side of your fabric.

For the long backer, I had to sew together a few pieces of fabric to get it wide enough and that is what I used my calculator for. Had my print not been directional, I probably could have gotten it without that. I also had to piece together my polypropylene backing, because my sheets are pre-cut to 24" squares.


4. Lay your fabric wrong side up on a clean, level work surface that is big enough to fit the whole backer board on it. I used the guest room floor. Then center your backer board on that, back side up. Make sure you have the top of your backer matching the top of your fabric if you have a direction fabric. You can see I wrote on my the backside of my backer just to make it easy to keep this straight.

If you're working with difficult material, large piece, or are just nervous about keeping it all aligned, you might want to use spray adhesive on your backer then lay it on your fabric. Be sure to smooth over the surface so the adhesive makes contact all over. Obviously, test on scraps to be sure it won't bleed through your interfaced fabric, etc. Maybe double-sided tape would work, too, I haven't tried that.

5. Pre-cut/tear several strips of duct tape into 5-6" strips. You may have to do this a few times as you work your way around.

6. At the center top, fold over our fabric and tape it down. You want an nice crease, but you don't want to move the material around. If you have used the spray adhesive this shouldn't be a problem. Then do the opposite side. Then work your way, evenly down the left and right sides, alternating top and bottom.

I did my corners with one of the standard miter methods.

7. For the sides, start in the center and work your way to either end. Because my sides were fairly short, I did one whole side before doing the other. It ain't pretty, but it doesn't show and it's just for us.


8. Flip it over and admire your work!

Installing that beautiful beast:

9. Have your hammer and wire nails ready, then put your backer in place. You might be able to use double sided tape for this, too, depending on how heavy your covered backer is. For mine I tacked tiny wire nails into the bookshelf about 1/4-1/3 of the way in, then bend them towards the wall with my thumb. Sort of like those metal tabs in the back of some photo frames. They are really hard to see so it works fine. I was originally going to paint them brown, but didn't have to.

Another option would be to add a small moulding piece. For the backer on the right end of the unit, I ended up using a bit of leftover base shoe from our kitchen island project. This was not so much to hold it in place as it was to cover where I messed up cutting my backer. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES and dry fit, dry fit, dry fit!

I did have the foresight to paint the wall a color closer to the fabric, at least. At least the closest I could come with paint on hand.

And in actuality, that piece is held in place by nails in its own way.

Here is where the optional eyelet came into play. I knew I was going to display these sentimental pieces in there, so cut holes in my backer before covering it with the fabric, then after it was installed gently cut the fabric over the holes, and added the eyelets with a bit of glue. Just to keep the fabric from doing weird things, even though the interfacing would almost assuredly take care of that. It was a craft-geek moment, what can I say? Soooooo, that backer is essentially hung on those nails like an frame or other decoration or art would hang on a wall. The moulding is mostly to cover the gap and I didn't even nail it down... it was stable enough without doing so and this would be easier to undo (see second paragraph).

A little dab of base shoe will do ya'.
We have some things in-progress that will go in here instead of the mine cart and my signed copies, but for now it's like this.

Clockwise from top, left: Expert Typist Award, First Pound Earned, Mine Cart Book Display (with The Trials of Solomon Parker), Chock-a-saw Sagwa Tonic bottle prop, Dr Potter's Medicine Show, Dr. Morrison Hedwith's Basement Laboratory Diorama.