Throwback Thursday: Our First DIY Project

I am just starting several painting projects that aren't ready to post yet, so I thought I would share a little throwback on the blog today to pass the time. In our first apartment, we were blessed to have been gifted quite a bit of our furniture, and I had to do very little DIY. I knew we weren't staying there long, and we had too much furniture for the little space already so I refrained for the most part. That was one of the reasons I was itching to get into a house where I could keep busy with projects.

The one furniture transformation we tackled at the old apartment happened within our first month of marriage, so I thought I would do a little throwback to the corner shelf that, unbeknownst to us, initiated what I believe will be many years of DIY love.

We were looking for a corner shelf to hold some of our glassware and random decor that we didn't have space for, and we found one from a little girl's room on craigslist. As per usual, I requested a lower price, got it, and then painted it.

Here was the before and after.  photo 547810_4362746917553_930737245_n_zps5946b48c.jpg

And another angle in our old apartment.  photo cornershelf_zps64d69d02.jpg

And here it is now in the basement guest bedroom. The interior color almost matches the walls exactly.  photo IMG_5532_zps8950186e.jpg

This little corner shelf started it all.


Before & After: Mid Century Modern Teak Kitchen Chairs

You have seen the evolution of our banquette, so you've also seen our lovely rustic/industrial table from World Market. The only thing we needed to finish off the set were three chairs. In my dream world, I pictured tufted upholstered dining chairs, but you can barely find them for less than $150 a chair which translates to $450+ for just three chairs which is way out of the budget we set.

I have recently fallen in love with mid-century modern style furniture. The vintage feel, the clean lines, and the simplicity make me drool. I thought a mid-century teak dining chair set could be the perfect fit for our little nook.

Teak is an expensive wood, and I found prices ranging from $100-$400 per chair. This did not solve my problem.

Then the stars collided and the heavens opened up and shone a light on my little Craigslist app. A set of 4 Teak Mid-Century Style Dining Chairs AND small table on Craigslist for $75 TOTAL. I sent an email and asked if she would take $50 for the chairs and leave out the table. She said yes. SOLD.  photo IMG_5547_zps7ae2c466.jpg

That's right, my friends. $12.50 a pop for the exact style of chair I had been hoping to get. All they needed was a little TLC.  photo beforeafterkitchenchair_zpsd9ccea7b.jpg

Goals: - Stain the wood darker to match the table. - Recover the seat with a simple gray fabric and install new foam for the cushion.

1. Stain the Wood Darker to Match the Table

Wood conditioner makes a huge difference.

I wanted to darken the wood just a little bit, so I used a dark walnut stain over the existing color. After sanding with 100 grit to remove the varnish and then 220 grit to smooth it out, I applied the stain, and it fell into the crevices and looked pretty uneven. I like the rustic look but wanted to preserve the smoothness of the teak. On the remaining three chairs, I used wood conditioner before stain, and it made a huge difference.

The one on the left is with wood conditioner, the one on the right is without.  photo IMG_5606_zpsea98386c.jpg

The Dark Walnut stain added just the right amount of dark color to make the wood look more cohesive with the table.

Finally, I sealed everything with a gloss polyurethane, thought it was too shiny, and sanded everything down with 220 grit again before calling them finished.

2. Recover the seats

The original upholstery job was worse than I thought. I started with this rather tacky, very poorly upholstered blue vinyl fabric. I figured I would just remove it and move on.  photo IMG_5554_zpsecac67a5.jpg Then I found this.  photo IMG_5611_zpsc6041381.jpg Then I found this.  photo IMG_5560_zpsba02cec9.jpg Then I found this.  photo IMG_5612_zps17a9f55a.jpg It was like a really gross onion. (You know...layers. Shrek, anyone?)

I used my tried and true method of small flat head screwdriver + needle nosed pliers (see my first upholstery job here) to remove the staples and original fabrics. Then I pulled up the original stained, gross foam. I had to use a knife to scrape some of it off the wood of the seat.  photo IMG_5559_zps5359c580.jpg

I purchased 2 yards of 1" foam from Joann Fabrics during their 50% off foam sale and cut it to fit each seat.  photo IMG_5609_zpsfd6d6a51.jpg

Then I covered it in this lovely, sturdy, textured gray fabric. I was sure to mark where the screw holes were with a sharpie and then I cut the fabric around them once I was finished stapling.  photo IMG_5566_zps8bf9293e.jpg

VOILA!  photo IMG_5620_zps5b2cf84a.jpg

Put everything back together and presto--the perfect, small scale chairs that add character without taking away from the statement of the banquette and industrial table. The mid century style also helps to add a touch of modern to our space.  photo IMG_5622_zpsfaa928ed.jpg

Here is a rough price breakdown: 4 Chairs on Craigslist: $50 1.5 yards of fabric from The Fabric House: $17 2 yards of 1" foam from Joann Fabrics (50% off): $16 Miniwax Polyurethane: already owned Miniwax Dark Walnut Stain: already owned Sandpaper: $4 Wood Conditioner: $13 Foam brushes: $3

Grand Total: $103 ($25.75 per chair)

My budget for 3 chairs was $100. I got 4 out of the deal (one is going to be a desk chair in the office).

Just to make myself feel better, here is a set of 4 Vintage Danish Mid-Century Chairs on Etsy for $1,650. I'm not sure that mine are actually vintage, but I think a $1,547 savings is pretty good.  photo etsyvsmychair_zps9a2dd15f.jpg

And just one more picture for grins.  photo c4d35bf7-71a8-430f-83e9-5b7c88e1886f_zps5ef3b5eb.jpg

Dinner party, anyone?


The Kitchen Nook Pt. 2

We have been busy little bees at the house, but I have failed to post many updates because most of our projects are in the middle stages and not ready to be revealed.  Also, the house is just too messy to take pictures because we are still partially living out of boxes. Oops. In the next few weeks, expect a deluge of reveal posts.

One thing that is ready for an update post is our adorable little kitchen nook that has stolen my heart and many of my evenings. We left off here with a completed but not-yet-painted bench. And here is what it looks like now.

 photo IMG_5589_zpsb7fcd7ce.jpg

I won't feel like it is truly complete until I clean up the edges a bit and make a cushion, but this is where we have landed until I can save enough pennies to buy 3" foam.

I used some wood putty to fill in the cracks by the wall and the nail holes. This took me much longer than I anticipated.  photo 3D60E19B-1987-4F86-B2ED-CA09AB23F628-3515-000001F78FBE9648_zpsd1af5135.jpg I taped everything off with painter's tape.  photo FD360992-C742-4926-8DB4-00F89A436325-3515-000001F785DE0F8B_zps585dfa2a.jpg I sanded everything down with 220 grit sandpaper.

I primed. Twice.  photo FED3A9B3-1208-4DB9-ABF0-F0AB57551458-3515-000001F781DAF16B_zps09980e59.jpg

I sanded again using our handy-dandy sander (which has stolen the title of favorite tool from my staple gun).  photo IMG_5552_zps72607e28.jpg I painted two coats of semi-gloss white paint.  photo IMG_5551_zps6bd6391d.jpg I ripped off the painter's tape which accidentally removed some paint, said "uh oh," and corrected my mistake. I didn't take pictures of that because I am embarrassed.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

I realized that the edges look a little rough and I need to find a way to correct that.

But that is for another time.

So here is how it looks now! The white is crisp and clean and a great backdrop! Most of the pillows are just forms; I will be sewing pillow covers soon.  photo IMG_5595_zpsdfc6bf5c.jpg To give you your bearings and a little bit more perspective, here is a comparison shot from the day we moved in.  photo banquetteprogress_zpsfb692d9d.jpg

And a little sneak peek at what it will look like with the chairs I am currently refinishing and reupholstering. More details to come!  photo IMG_5598_zps22d252b9.jpg

The Kitchen Nook Pt. 1

You may remember from this post that I really wanted a kitchen banquette. Well, the in-laws came in town for Easter weekend, and my father-in-law is a handyman extraordinaire, so he and Jeremy spent 15 hours Saturday building the nook. We are not wasting any time on this house! I have yet to paint the seating, but I thought I would go ahead and post some updates on our really cozy, unique bench seating in the kitchen. This is the perfect space saver for any kitchen with limited dining space. I love rooms that have an eclectic feel, but that can also be terrifying because it is hard to know how to be eclectic without looking like a mess or like an unintentional collection of whatever you had on hand. Lord help me; our kitchen nook is going to be eclectic. I am loving the industrial look that is popping up all over the place, and we purchased the Jackson Dining Table from World Market. I bought some mid-century style chairs to refinish and recover. And pillows and a bench cushion will make everything feel pulled together.

The men worked hard to create the perfect space. They cut wood in the carport.  photo B3553357-8365-4031-907C-E41E41C0D79E-13466-000003A80DEA55A5_zpsc9246caf.jpg  photo 31E7F9AE-CD1C-46FA-9321-D0F045C40D9B-13466-000003A7EB3DDBFE_zps257fc9c7.jpg Installed the bench inside.  photo B2D7E9C0-3CE3-4F6A-8B50-551673CB176F-13466-000003A7D9E164BD_zps264ca6b2.jpg Cut the base molding to create a seamless look with the wall.  photo 79736EC7-B666-4691-9B7B-8895C833E1B8-13466-000003A71D254A6A_zps14825a58.jpg Moved a wall outlet to the side of the bench for added functionality.  photo 2F03AD8D-C31B-4244-85F7-7D7979DB79B6-13466-000003A761F63142_zps0124c746.jpg Redirected air flow from the floor to the outside of the bench with a vent.  photo 39574538-8FC8-4A10-BC49-AA9EE1413375-13466-000003A78C08400B_zps97c61362.jpg  photo B543E3BC-98D8-46C3-A82F-F5BD9BD89CF2-13466-000003A714D04AF4_zps6dd467fb.jpg Installed a hinge top for loads of storage.  photo A97DAEC8-A6E7-4606-831F-ED7A01573B2E-13466-000003A6F0D551C0_zps4a9dc68d.jpg And rested after a good day's work.  photo 915F0F89-2EFA-419F-B2FA-D6B0658FD939-13466-000003A70DA8E18A_zps8069fcd5.jpg Doesn't it look beautiful? It is comfortable too. Come have dinner with us!  photo IMG_5524_zps77bbdcd5.jpg  photo IMG_5522_zps6e3e94ae.jpg I can't wait to paint it and add pillows. I will be back with another post after more progress!

Check out our progress: Painted white With mid-century modern chairs

 photo Signature_zps48867f61.jpg

A First Time For Everything: Chevron Living Room Chair Redo

I am determined to be handy, creative, frugal and a go-getter when it comes to decorating. My first attempt came in the form of two stained, bruised, and outdated chairs that I picked up at a favorite thrift store and gave a new life. They will find a home in our living room, and I am so thrilled with the way that they turned out. Get ready: this was a long process, and this is a long post. photo beforeafter_zps85bf51d6.jpgThere is a first time for everything.This was my first time to disassemble any furniture, reupholster, shop for fabric, use stain, polyurethane and a staple gun, and strip wood. I guess you could say I'm a newbie. But now I feel like I have at least moved up to amateur status--maybe even intermediate level.

Here is a collection of my tools of the trade. I don't recommend this stapler. See later where I bought a new one. I ended up with different stain too.   photo IMG_5260_zps087ef172.jpg

I break down the process into four major steps:

Step 1:Dis-assembly

Take a good look at the situation. Every chair is assembled differently, so you will have to figure out what it takes to remove the upholstery from the chair. Lucky for me, both the seat and the back were completely removable in my case. For the seat, I simply flipped the chair over, removed a few screws, and removed the seat.  photo IMG_5256_zps7f60d24d.jpg

For the back, I was completely stumped by how to get around the furniture plugs that covered up the screws I needed to remove. I had no idea how to get them out without breaking them. Tip: You have to break plugs to remove them. This is probably common sense, but I was completely unaware. I nailed into them, broke them, and used a flat head screwdriver and pliers to take the pieces out of the 1/2" holes. You can buy a new pack of furniture plugs at Home Depot or Lowe's for about $3.00 and stain them to match (more on that later).   photo furnitureplugs_zps27a239fe.jpg

During the process I came across some gum stuck underneath the seat and arm. What a lovely treat, right? I dampened it and it was old enough that it just scraped right off. Yum.  photo IMG_5248_zps1059687d.jpg

Here comes the part I hated the most: removing the staples from the upholstery in order to remove the original fabric. This really was a case of trial and error. I wound up using a really skinny flat head screwdriver and needle nose pliers. I believe you can buy upholstery staple removing tools at sewing stores, but I didn't want to spend any more money than necessary.  photo IMG_5266_zps2c19741c.jpg Once I figured out the best angle to pry the staples up and invested in a pair of work gloves to save my hands from blisters, the process went much more quickly. Removing all the staples from both chairs still took me at least 5 hours (while watching Jane Austen movies of course). Tip: Save the original fabric. The end result was highly satisfying, and I was pleased to discover that the original padding was in good enough shape that I wouldn't have to replace anything.

Step 2: Reupholstery

I laid the original fabric down (see why I told you to save it) on top of the bolt of upholstery fabric and cut out around it like a pattern. Tip: Be sure to leave a couple of extra inches on each side so you have some wiggle room when you are covering the cushions. Because my chevron pattern has linear zig zags, I cut it right side up to be sure I was cutting straight.  photo IMG_5290_zps4b676062.jpg I used 5/8" staples and a staple gun on the new upholstery. I bought a staple gun that doubles as a brad nailer so that it will hopefully come in handy for future home improvement projects. I started out with a Stanley gun, and it didn't have enough power to go into the plywood and almost every staple went in crooked or not at all, so I returned it and got this Dewalt gun. I highly recommend it. It packs a powerful punch.  photo reupholstery_zps7287ca53.jpg

Be sure to pull the fabric tight and turn the seat around every once in a while to check that it is flat and even. On the seat, staple close to the edge, and cut excess fabric once everything is nice and taut. For the back cushion, I was careful to fold the fabric so that it looked nice since the bottom of the cushion is visible if you are looking up at it from the floor. The back cushion took a little more experimentation to get the folds to turn out correct and the fabric to lay the way that I wanted.  photo IMG_5293_zps080ba80e.jpg

Once I finished this, I set the cushions aside and moved on to the wood frame.

Step 3: Wood Refinishing 

This part totally depends on the state of your chairs. For 85% of the chair, a light sanding to remove the varnish and a few coats of stain was perfect, but the arms gave me grief. In my case, I made two big mistakes: I didn't sand down far enough on the parts that were really beaten up and I bought the wrong color stain to begin with.

I discovered that unless you are going to completely sand down/strip your piece or it is in good shape to begin with, you should really buy the same color stain as the original color. I bought a darker color thinking that when it mixed with the existing red mahogany, the color would be just what I wanted, but the problem came when the Dark Walnut stain hit the gashes in the arms that I didn't properly smooth out, it turned them black, and I was left with black gashes all up and down the arms. I did the only logical thing. I PANICKED!  photo IMG_5306_zpsa87c7035.jpg

I talked to the nice man at Lowe's who gave me confidence and looked at my sad pictures of the chair arms, and then I invested in some heavy duty sandpaper (36 grit). I completely stripped the arms, smoothed them out with fine grit sandpaper, and started fresh. This photo was in the middle of that sanding process. I had to keep going to get rid of some more of those black marks.  photo IMG_5305_zps54863b1f.jpg

Then when I used the dark walnut stain on the stripped wood, it turned completely the wrong color. I PANICKED AGAIN! Then I calmed down and bought red mahogany stain to match the original color, realized I should have done that to begin with, and I finally got to the right color a couple of coats later. I actually love the way that stripping the wood brought out the grain and gave it a little more of a distressed look. It certainly isn't perfect, but people pay lots of money for things that look a little distressed these days. In hindsight, some wood conditioner and stripper could have been helpful.  photo IMG_5315_zps90d98f63.jpg

Mmm. I actually love how warm the wood turned out and the way that you can see the grain on the arms.

Finally, I sprayed three good coats of Miniwax Clear Satin Fast-Drying Polyurethane in a well-ventilated area, let them sit for several days (24 hours would have been fine, but I was waiting for some husband help), and moved on to step 4.

Step 4: Re-assembly

This is pretty self-explanitory. Put it back together the way that you took it apart. Here is my handsome husband lending a hand. He is better with power tools.

 photo photo_zpsd896e0eb.jpg Tip: Make note of where the original screw holes were if you cover them with fabric. This would have saved me some struggle. Once I found them, I got these little wood plugs and stained them and hammered them into place to replace the plugs I broke earlier in the project.  photo photo-3_zps4bc0876f.jpg

Voila! My finished chairs! DIY is great because not only do you save money, you make memories and create something you are truly proud to display.  photo photo-5_zps81f5d8d6.jpg

Bring it on, little house. I'm ready for you and all of your DIY glory.

Budget breakdown (rounded to the nearest dollar):

Two chairs at Our Thrift Store in Franklin, TN: $30 Two yards of upholstery grade fabric from The Fabric House: $24 Stain: $12 (I had to buy two different colors...and I bought too much.) Polyurethane Spray: $8 Wooden Furniture Plugs: $3 Sandpaper: $12 

Total: $89 ($44.50 per chair) 

I'd say that's pretty good! To be fair, I also spent money on a staple/brad nailer for the upholstery and work gloves--both of which I will use for many future projects so I didn't include the cost. I also bought way too much fabric (much to my dismay), but I will be using it for other projects down the line and didn't include that cost here just to be fair to those of you who want to tackle a similar project but will be wiser about the amount of fabric you need. Tip: When your husband says there's no way you will use six yards, even though the chart on Pinterest says you will, trust him. Sorry, Jeremy.

I can't wait to get these little chairs into place in the new house! Stay tuned for pictures!

update: See the chairs in place in our living room.


 photo Signature_zps48867f61.jpg

From Free to Fabulous: The Dreaming Phase

I have a daydreaming problem, and the latest object of my daydreaming affection is this FREE dresser that I found on craigslist as a curb alert. I drove to pick it up on my lunch break, opened my trunk, and stared at it for a bit as I tried to figure out how in the world I would get it into my car. Thankfully, a nice man came and helped me lift it. I came home with this:  photo 2013-02-25_12-20-34_42_zps8f0f0335.jpg

It's a laminate veneer, but I think I can dress it up a little bit and make quite a lovely little TV stand for our living room. I'm thinking something like this: 

 photo dresser-with-dark-wood-top_zps6dc8555f.jpg

I love the white distressed bottom with the dark wood top, but we'll see when I start putting the pieces of our living room together. For now, I'll keep daydreaming.

 photo Signature_zps48867f61.jpg