Wednesday, August 21, 2013

decorating the patio

So, I've been super busy the last few months. In hindsight, it is apparent to me that I stopped posting on here right around the same time that I took on full-time hours at work. Hmmmm. 

As a result, I have a ton of unfinished projects. Yikes. 

Remember how I was going to re-cover some sofa cushions for the patio furniture set I got for free off of craigslist? Yeah. Didn't happen. Fortunately, Target put a lot of their summer outdoor stuff on clearance at the end of June. Here's just a little peek at what our patio looks like now:


We have candles and lanterns and a long line of hanging lights out there, and now it's the perfect place to have a drink late at night, or to read in the early morning (it's still too hot to be out there while the sun is up). This may be exactly the sort of thing that a bored suburban housewife might say, but the patio feels fun and a little bit exotic, and it's a nice little escape. And I love that I got to decorate it all myself!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thrifty Thursday--More Colored Glasses

I found these lovely little vintage yellow glasses at the Salvation Army last week. They were marked 49 cents, and they were 25% off, so I got the set of 10 for less than $4!
I may need to (eventually) downsize my collection of colored stemware. . .

Friday, April 12, 2013

This Chest is Distressed

[Super long and overly-detailed post ahead; feel free to skip to the pics!]

Last weekend, I was taking a leisurely route back to my parents' house, trying to hit as many garage sales as possible along the way. I passed a small apartment building with a bunch of furniture and clothes sitting on the curb. Amongst the destroyed couches, spilled makeup, and broken CD's, I spied one thing that made my heart stop: an old, beat-up chest.

I had fallen in love with it earlier in the week when I'd driven past the building and had seen it on the porch, while the other items were already curbside. I knew it was a reject, a possible remnant of an eviction, but I wasn't going to walk up to somebody's porch and just take it. So when I saw it on the curb five days later, I couldn't pass it up.

Mind you, the top was covered in candle wax and grime and dust and pink sparkly nail polish and maybe some lipstick, and I had to dump some hair ties and random papers out of the drawers. It had deep gouges along the sides and bottom from being dragged out of the house. I half expected small animals to come crawling out of it. But this was a good, solid, old piece of furniture. It had dovetailed drawers, for crying out loud! And these huge, obnoxious, heavy, tarnished pulls which seemed straight out of the 60's. Or 70's. I'm not really sure.
And the wood of the drawers was scuffed and scummed up from those pulls, and from the dresser's previous owners.
But! Once upon a time, this had been a quality piece of furniture.

So I decided to load it into the Party Van.

This was easier said than done, as the process of moving Katsy into her new apartment, and moving myself out of my current one, had left the Party Van quite a mess. And like I said, this little dresser was heavy. But I took the top off, removed the drawers, and raised it up to the side of the Party Van, at which point I struggled for a few moments. . . until I heard a beep behind me.

A Latino gentleman in a large white van had honked his horn, and was shaking his head and holding up his hand for me to wait a moment. He parked, exited the vehicle, and grabbed the dresser without a word. We struggled for a few minutes (the Party Van's doors are only so big), before we removed a couple of things, moved some other things around, and were able to finally make it work.

This guy made my day. He's never met me, will never see me again, and got out of his car to help me not even knowing if we would be able to communicate (the only English word he used was 'Hi,' so I was able to put my Spanish degree to good use). But he pulled over and took a few minutes out of his day to make mine a little easier. When the job was done, he immediately started walking back to his van. He didn't even expect me to thank him (although I certainly did).

After that, I couldn't see out through the Party Van's back window, so I ended my garage saling and headed straight to my grandmother's house, where I hoped to complete the project in a single afternoon. I recruited our little sister Gaga to help me, since Katsy was at work. Gaga was home from college and, surprisingly, was up early and willing to help me out.

I couldn't find my camera that day, so there are no before pictures of this dresser. It kinda looked a little like this, minus one drawer and plus a ton of nastiness. This is a picture of a gorgeous Widdicomb chest (apologies, but I'm not sure where I found it) and the chest I worked on certainly was not this nice. We couldn't find a brand name on it anywhere, in fact.
So we sanded, disinfected, scrubbed, and scraped to try and clean it up a little. I had a quart of Kilz primer, tinted pink, which I'd found in the mistint section at Lowe's in KCK for $2.50, so that's what we painted it with.

The project ended up taking a couple of days because my little handheld sander broke (sad face, but don't worry, I got it for $5 at Goodwill anyway [but I'm still sad]), which required my grandparents to break out the scary rotating sander that they hadn't used in 30 years, and we decided to strip the dresser's top. This is when I learned that my grandmother is a master of furniture stripping. Oh my goodness. First we used Citristrip on the top, then we wiped it down with paint thinner, then she went to work on that thing with steel wool and NO GLOVES, then we let it dry overnight, and then I sealed it with wax. Turns out the dresser was made of beautiful wood (the top, at least, was mahogany) and my grandmother thinks it was a crime for me to paint any of it. Well, Grandmom, I saved it from the dumpster, so I get to decide what to do with it.

That first picture I posted is what the top looks like currently.

Here is what the entire dresser looks like now:
You may have some questions about this little lady. First, as my boyfriend asked, Is that the before picture? No it's not. I was inspired by Dionne over at The Turquoise Iris (seriously, check her out, she's a genius!), who does a lot of gorgeous distressing on her very colorful pieces. I'd love to become as proficient and as creative as her! Also, I got a little happy with the sander, so the side is maybe a little more distressed than I'd planned on. Second question: Where is the top drawer? Ah yes, the elusive top drawer. It is currently in hiding, because this dresser is going to Katsy's apartment, where it will probably serve as an entertainment center. TV on top, DVD player where the top drawer would go, DVDs and other stuff hidden away in the drawers. We've considered taking just the front of the door and putting it on hinges and maybe a chain so that it can drop down to reveal the DVD player, then flip back up to hide it, but we also think this chest could make a perfect changing table one day, so we don't want to cut it up.

I think we'll probably change out the knobs for something a little more exotic, to fit with Kat's apartment, but for now, I used some acrylic crystal pulls that were on clearance at Target. I'm so thrilled with how this turned out, and I love that it only took three afternoons!
Here's the dresser in Kat's living room! Who doesn't love Muppet Treasure Island?!

Real quick, let's break down the final cost of this makeover:
Dresser: free
paint+primer in one: $2.50, Lowe's mistint section
'crystal' drawer pulls: $7.48 for four, on clearance at Target
Minwax water based stain in rosewood, $5, on clearance at Wal-Mart
finishing paste wax, already on hand
paint stripper, already on hand
Total=$14.98

So what do you think? Am I crazy for pulling over and having a stranger help me load this into my car? Was the final product worth it??

I think yes.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thrifty Thursday

Katsy moves into her new apartment this weekend, and I'll be moving at the end of the month (yes, already). We hit up Goodwill, Home Goods, and Target to try and prepare ourselves, and I think we found some pretty good deals.

I left Goodwill with two Anchor-Hocking casserole dishes (Pyrex-type dishes are my latest obsession, and I got these two for just $2 total!), two large and beautiful stoneware bowls, a wine rack for my roommate when she moves into her new apartment in St. Louis, a book on salsa (the condiment, not the dance), a little butter dish, and a tiny little dish with a lid to hold jewelry and whatnot. Katsy found a big wall-mountable coat rack and something to use like a large candle votive. Not bad at all.

Then we headed over to Home Goods, where Katsy found a lovely little cutting board and some curtains, which she may use as actual curtains, use as a divider for her new, door-less closet, or turn into a shower curtain. I used my birthday gift card to buy a gorgeous 4' by 6' rug for $29.99! Made my day.

At Target, I picked up a clearance tube of caulk, because I've heard you can use that on the bottom of a rug to make it non-slip. Can't for the life of me remember what Katsy got.

Here's a pic of my favorite finds from today! Happy thrifting, everyone!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Little Kitchen Garden

So far this year we've had at least two days of 75+ degree weather, two snowfalls of more than 10 inches, and a couple of thunderstorms. You can see why I'm not eager to start planting anything out on our little deck just yet, so for now, I'm growing my baby plants in the kitchen. 
It's not much, but I love checking on them and seeing their progress each day! So far, I've got a couple of little strawberry and poppy plants growing, and I just planted a couple of red morning glory seeds. The poppies and strawberries came from little packets in Target's dollar section, and I thought they were the most darling thing ever. All the blue and white ceramics came from thrift shops. 

Right above my babies is a potted plant, kind of like a small tree, with no flowers that I've noticed yet. I have no idea what it is, but I brought it in along with two other pots from beside the dumpster after a neighbor moved out. My roommate and I knew we couldn't just leave them out there, and they've been great for jumpstarting our garden and deck decor. (Because who wants to spend money on things like terra cotta pots and potting soil and what not? You wanna spend it on fun stuff, like seeds, and hummingbird feeders!)

More pics as the little garden progresses!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Simple Black Headboard

It all started with a free piece of plywood.

"What can I do with this?" I asked myself, after finding the clean, simple board beside the dumpster by my building. I thought about painting it, and I thought about using it as a cheap tabletop, but what really sparked my imagination was the thought of turning it into a headboard. I've seen so many tutorials on Pinterest and other blogs, and they all seem to have incredible results. And what do you know, but my boyfriend was interested in a headboard for his very plain full bed. So I took the board over to my grandparents' house to get their expertise.

(Before we go any further, my boyfriend's specifications were as follows: Headboard must be black. Should be a leather-like fabric. No tufting. Should be rounded, but not elaborately shaped.)

Together, we measured the plywood, and found it to be 48 inches across and 38 inches high. It wasn't wide enough to serve as a headboard for a full bed, so my grandmother suggested that I buy some 1x6 pine boards to fill it out on either side. We also decided that I should buy a couple extra pine boards to add stability across the back of the headboard.

I already had the fabric I wanted to use--black leather-looking vinyl, only $6 a yard at Hancock Fabrics. The boards were cut at the Home Depot, and only cost me a few bucks. Then I went to Joann's to get fabric and was kinda blown away when it cost $18 a yard. Even with my coupon, that was more than I was hoping to spend (especially when the other components had been so cheap). But, it had to have foam.

I took all the pieces back to my grandmothers and we surveyed our supplies.
Maybe not a lot to look at, but I had a vision (not cliche at all).

As you can see, I traced a rough, curved line along the top of the board, and then, I wielded a saber saw for the first time while my sister and grandparents held the board in place for me (apparently clamps are too much of a hassle). To make a long story short, I broke the blade and had to finish it with a hand saw (surprisingly easy).

My grandmother dug up the right nails and I nailed the pine boards onto the sides and along the back.
Look at that! Next, I hot glued the foam onto the front, and wrapped it around the back. Then we took it inside and stapled down the edges of the foam. Yes, we use our staple gun indoors.

We rolled out the material... and discovered a problem. It was very creased, and we couldn't seem to press it out. I had just resigned myself to trying to pull the material super-extra-tight when my grandmother emerged from a spare closet with an entire roll of remarkably similar material, with not a wrinkle on it. And there was just enough of it, after we trimmed the foam down on the sides.

After a couple dozen more staples, here's what we came up with:
Ta-da! I'm considering putting a strip of plum linen down the middle to make it less plain, but I'm going to see what my boyfriend thinks of it first. His birthday is in a couple of days!

My method was far from perfect, but it got the job done. If I were making a headboard to sell, I might be more careful with the staples on the back, or try tufting it or something. And it only took a couple of hours! Once we get it set up, I'll post more pics.

Have any of you ever made your own headboard? Do you want to try now that you've seen how easy it is?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Projects Galore

I've got so many projects in the works right now but haven't actually finished anything for a while, but I thought it was about time I updated. Here's what I've been up to:

I carried this credenza up three flights of stairs by myself the other day and now it's finally in the living room where it belongs! I picked it up after seeing it listed on craigslist, and have every intention of painting it eventually, but for now, I don't think it looks bad at all. And it's so much better than what we had the tv on before. [Don't mind the dust!]

Right now, I've got two of these chairs in the kitchen, where they are drying after a coat of primer, while the other two wait outside on the deck. Wanna know why? Because they smell, and they are sticky. I know primer should cover up most of the smell, but what do I do about those seats? Put a clear coat of paint over them and recover them?? Suggestions, please! I love the lines of the chairs and want to paint them green, with fun blue patterned seats.
I think I picked the perfect time to work on these projects because I've got tomorrow and Friday off from work and we'll be snowed in!