Monday, March 28, 2011


I have completely fallen in love with this easel-as-tv-stand idea that I spotted in my February issue of The World of Interiors.

When Justin and I moved, we kinda wanted to get a sweet flat screen tv...but we realized there was really no good place to put one in our bedroom OR living room. There are so many windows and doors...and the way the furniture was oriented would make any of the available wall space a really awkward spot for a tv. So we stuck our hideous old one in the guest room and hid it behind a folding screen. Which meant we NEVER watched it. We eventually canceled our cable subscription and the tv got relocated to the attic. Now we exclusively watch things on Justin's laptop while lounging in bed (yay for hulu, netflix, and itunes!). This works well until you have guests over. Three people trying to watch something on a small computer screen is NOT ideal. And forget foreign films. Reading those tiny subtitles is headache inducing.

But putting a tv on a moveable easel opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. And it does a lot to warm up the look of cold, cold technology. So, I'm in. I want a tv again.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


I gussied up our dining room chandelier with some new accessories: patterned fabric shades and colorful candelabra sleeves.

I'm going to go ahead and assume that the fabric I chose is going to fall in to that "not everyone's cup of tea" category. But I love it in that "so bad it's good" kinda way. I picked it up at a church rummage sale along with some other awesomely bad fabrics. It's some kind of weirdo 80's ikat-inspired super-graphic print in a seriously schizophrenic color scheme.

Anyway, I figured if I'm bothering to cover my own shades I might as well do it in a statement fabric. So I went for it. I bought some plain white shades on the cheap from Lowes and went to town. Justin was kind enough to document the process. So for those of you who are interested in a step-by-step how-to on recovering chandelier you go:

plain shades
kraft paper
double stick fusible web sheets
stitchless sewing glue
double fold bias tape

First make a pattern by wrapping kraft paper around the shade and cutting it to size. Make sure to leave enough room to fold one edge and have it overlap the other.

Then iron the fabric that you are going to use to cover the lampshades...

pin down the pattern...

and cut it out.

Remove the kraft paper and fold one edge of the fabric over...

and tack it down with a piece of fusible web.

Peel the paper off one side of the double stick fusible sheet...

press the fabric onto it...

and cut it out.

Peel the backing paper off, and starting at the existing seam, wrap the fabric around the shade unfolded side first.

Next, iron the fabric onto the shade using the steam function in order to make the bond permanent.

Steam one small area at a time and then press it out and smooth it down with your fingers between turns.

Trim any excess fabric off the edges.

Next, estimate how much trim you will need for the top and bottom of your shades, and cut it to size.

Apply the stitchless sewing adhesive to the top (or bottom) edge...

and spread it out with your finger.

Then apply the bias tape. Starting at the seam, wrap it around the edge, letting about a quarter inch show on the outside.

Pulling tight, guide the tape around the circumference of the shade until it just overlaps the other side.

Add a drop of glue at the overlap to secure the end...

and press and hold it to make sure it sticks.

Repeat these last few steps with the bias tape on the opposite side of the shade. And you're done!

Monday, March 21, 2011


I am delighted to report that we finally switched out the fixture in our dining room. When we moved in there was just a ceiling fan in the middle of the room and no light. We temporarily hung a big paper lantern from our old apartment above the dining room table...which was serviceable, but FAR from ideal. The cord was an eyesore and so was the fan...

But we finally had someone come put this chandelier up instead...

MUCH better. And the new fixture was hand-me-down from my parents...which means it was FREE.
I love free.

Next post: Hand covered chandelier shades and a candelabra sleeve spruce up!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Justin and I had been searching for the perfect sideboard for the dining room for months. I had a vision of what I wanted: a big old farmhouse style piece with lots of drawers and antique hardware. Something with chipped paint and a well worn wooden top and pretty old bin pulls. I wanted it to be as long as possible but not too deep...and the proper height for buffet style it couldn't be too tall or too short.

Obviously shopping trips are almost always disappointing when you have SUCH a specific picture in your head. I mean...we definitely came across some cool pieces in our travels but none of them were perfect. I had just about given up the search when I found this old thing posted on craigslist...

Sure, it was hideous in its current state. It was beat up. The hardware was ugly and/or broken. It was stained a dated and depressingly dark brown. And to top it all off it was covered with a thick layer of shiny varnish.

But it was the PERFECT size. And the price was right. And under all that aforementioned yuckiness I could see my rustic dream sideboard.

After days of sanding and painting and sanding again we finally ended up with this...

I'm really glad I didn't end up comprimising and spending a bundle on a finished piece that was almost right...because this is SO much better than anything we saw.

Here's the nutshell version of what we did to refinish it:

-First we removed all the hardware and sanded the front, sides, drawers and cabinets. We didn't go too crazy. We just roughed it up enough for the paint to adhere properly.

-Then we thoroughly sanded the top. We made sure to take this part down to the bare wood since we planned on staining the top...not painting it.

- Then I gave the entire piece a generous coat of paint (except for the top!). I used Martha Stewart latex paint in Sea Glass.

-After that was dry I wiped a little bit of light-gray paint into the corners and edges of the drawers and the cabinets.

-Then I used medium and coarse sandpaper to distress the whole piece...concentrating on corners, edges, and raised areas where wear would naturally occur. I learned pretty quickly that there is a very delicate line between too much sanding and not enough. There was a lot of trial and error involved. And it definitely took a little bit of practice to get it to look natural. Luckily, you can paint over areas you don't like and start again.

-Then I put on the new hardware. The bin pulls are from Atlas Homewares. I got them in an oil rubbed bronze finish...but I ended up going over each one with a little bit of steel wool to bring out some of the silver underneath and give them a more time-worn, less consistent finish. The knobs are from the Home Depot.

-The last thing I did was stain the top. I used Behr semi-transparent weatherproofing wood stain in charcoal. Normally this particular stain is for use on decks and whatnot but there are way more colors available than the indoor variety. And the salesperson assured me that it didn't have any crazy fumes and it should work fine for my tabletop. And it did! It was super easy to control how dark it got and how much wood grain showed through. And it turned out a fantastic gray brown that looks PERFECT with the new hardware.

Monday, March 7, 2011


We are still in the midst of fixing up the dining room. There's been lots of painting and sanding and patching and staining and drilling and repurposing going on. One of the many projects in progress is creating an area designated for cocktail preparation and liquor storage. We've never been one of those houses that has a fully stocked bar but I do love the idea of being able to offer guests a legitimate cocktail. Particularly old-timey ones like Sidecars and Manhattans. So we bought the ingredients necessary to make a few such drinks...and while Justin is brushing up on his bar tending skills I am busy making him a place to put his wares.

First step: whip up some labels for these cute old decanters I picked up at a yard sale last sumer.

thin sheet of plywood and/or precut plywood shapes
craft knife
chalkboard paint
sponge brush
white charcoal pencil
small link chain
hot glue gun

I'm sure you can imagine exactly what I did with these materials...but just in case:

I sketched the basic shapes I wanted for my labels onto the plywood and cut them out using scissors where possible and a craft knife for any small curves. Then I sanded down the edges. (You can also skip these steps and use precut plywood shapes. Nobody will judge you. Promise.)

I applied two coats of chalkboard paint to the front, back, and sides with a small sponge brush, letting the pieces dry thoroughly between coats.

When the chalkboard paint was completely dry I used a well sharpened white charcoal pencil to write the names on each tag.

Then I decided how long I wanted the chain to be for each bottle, cut it, and attached it to the back of each chalkboard piece with two small drops of hot glue. VoilĂ !

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


My dream textile for the curtains in our living room is one the these amazing handwoven ikats from Madeline Weinrib. Sadly, they cost several hundred dollars per that's not going to happen.

But I CAN afford some of these sweet ikat pillows from Bali.

They are all handmade with stunning Indonesian ikat fabrics and are available in a slew of different patterns and colors. $40 for two or $160 for a mixed set of nine! Yes, yes, and yes! Check them all out here!