Project Overload

It can be really depressing to me to read other DIY and decor blogs.

For one, they almost all have seemingly unlimited time and energy and money to make over their huge homes and sprawling gardens.


Instead of getting cranky comparing progress, I just refocus on what I’m working on and what’s next.

Because although I work way more hours than normal in my business and have a teeny tiny budget for remodeling and decor, I’d still like to get some things done this decade.

Such as…

Finishing the velvet chairs – probably highest on my “let’s get this done” list right now, except finding the Paint Medium has been challenging. So I keep working on it one bottle at a time and I’m happy that the first chair is 80% done. Need to work a little more on the cushion (those edges are a pain to paint) and hopefully this one can be done before August. Especially since I’ve stolen the slip covered chair from the living room.

DSC_0303Sanding and painting outdoor tables – these were given to me by my parents and have yet to be finished. They go with the Adirondack chairs in the backyard so I might paint them the same blue… or stain them… or go white… you see what the problem is. Indecision. Oh and sanding the red stain turns my skin a nice red and when I sneeze it looks like blood. Nasty work. While the sander is out…

Sand and refinish the kitchen table

This has sadly become a necessity over the past few years. When I bought my kitchen table there was on side with deep gouges that I’ve sanded, patched with wood filler and sanded again. But it looks horrible (that side is always up against the wall) and there’s stains on the top from glue which don’t wash off.

So… that’s going to be fun.

Then, sand and refinish the foot chest

This was a piece of furniture I got years ago from my parents and Wilson, then a wee pup, nibbled on. It needs to be stripped down, sanded well and repainted, preferably white.

There’s really nothing standing in the way of doing it… just the will to drag it to the garage and work out there in 100 degree weather. Maybe I’ll work on that in the fall when things cool down a bit. Here’s a very old pic of it in the living room (pre-paint and fireplace makeover):

2012_11_24 (17)Attempt to plank the wall at the end of the hallway

Why? Because the texture on that section is all messed up and I think white planks would look really good. It’s a short space so I’m willing to give it a try.

What’s stopping me? Well, I don’t own a nail gun for one, and I need to price the planks and find out how much this will cost me. I want it to look like this:

WhitePlankWallOutside, yank down those gutters and put up new ones

I’m pretty sure one of these days I’m just going to go postal and pull down the gutters. Someday soon. They’re horrid and I can’t wait to get new ones in place. If I had some assistance my first task would be measuring the runs and pricing all my material since I’m going to be re-routing those down spouts into water barrels.

Major hold up: help installing and cash. They’re not going to be cheap and every summer I promise to get them replaced before Winter.

Paint the exterior

One of the things I loved about the house (way back when I bought it) was that it matched the other half-plex so it didn’t look mis-matched. Well, they went and painted a few years ago and now I’m looking forward to painting my side to match.

However, it would take a helleva lot of time on a ladder and I don’t even want to think about how much that much paint is going to cost. Would it be tacky to go one section at a time? I hope not…

2011_07_30 (03)Plant a tree

As you can see in the old pic above, I used to have a tree in the front yard. It died and was yanked but now I have just one – the sugar maple by the kitchen that’s already messing up my walkway with its growing roots.

So I’d like to plant two crepe myrtle trees in the front yard, just enough to shade the driveway in the morning and close enough together for a hammock if I were so inclined.

Now if only I had the tools to dig the holes and a truck to bring home a few saplings… this would be higher up on the list.

Finally, and most expensively, replace my windows

I only have 7 windows + the sliding glass door in the whole house. That’s it. And 3 of them are in the kitchen. So it won’t be too bad to replace these old fellas to new and energy friendly ones but it’s still expensive. As I replace them though, I’d like to get natural shades or wood blinds. The faux roman shades I made awhile back and nice for now but I would really like some classy looking ones.

Especially in the office because when the sun rises it is blinding!


Covering Chairs

This month has been a little like chair revitalization month.

I got these 2 red chairs from my aunt and they were in pretty rough shape – an unimaginable number of scratches (from cats), deep creases and the fake leather was flaking all over the place.

Reupholster Chair (2)They’re pretty comfortable though and since the fabric didn’t lend well to bad smells and stains they still worked pretty well.

One fit in the newly painted master bedroom next to the dresser:

DSC_0090and it was a great place to fold clothes (until I moved the furniture around).

Recently these chairs have been in the office but once again migrated all over the room depending on the furniture arrangement:

2013_02_15 (03)At the desk:

Office 2013_12_10 (01)And occasionally together like a little chaise:

2014_02_08 (04)I covered them with blankets to keep the flaking under control but it was a losing battle. So I yanked them out and came up with a plan.

The best solution I could come up with was a new chair cover instead of re-upholstering them and removing the original material. I wanted to keep it simple and something I could use in multiple rooms since these are the roaming chairs. I chose a neutral canvas by the way of a paint drop cloth. I picked these up years and and am just now starting this project.

While watching Amazon streaming video one night I unfolded the canvas and begin to pin it around the chair so I could cut a few pieces.

I found out that straight pins went in pretty smoothly (if angled correctly) to secure the canvas to the chair and that allowed me to position and cut the fabric to size without tearing apart the original chair fabric or having a template.

Each chair had 2 pieces, one up and over the back and a second down the seat and around the front/sides.

Once I had the pieces cut I started pinning the seams in place:

Reupholster Chair (1)The back piece had 2 seams going up the back and were pinned in place. The bottom piece had 2 seams along the front and then I attached the two sections together.

The most tricky part was the piece that tucked into the crease. I had to cut the sides so it would fit smoothly (it’s not perfect but I really don’t care as long as the job is done):

DSC_0371As I pinned I kept the legs on but then needed to remove them in order to get the fit tight enough. Removing them was harder than expected. Each of the 4 legs was secured with  long screws so I used the electric drill to take out the screws. A few were particularly stubborn so I pulled out the tool box and used various wrenches to unscrew it from the frame.

When it came time to sew I remembered that I have zero faith in my abilities with the machine so Ana came over to visit and I conned her into helping me sew some straight lines.

Once all the pieces were sewn together I flipped them over and tested them on the chair. Perfect fit! Seams were then trimmed to remove the extra fabric. I chose not to sew a seam along the bottom of the chair because the longer fabric was easier to tuck under and staple to the frame.

DSC_0378I considered sanding and painting the feet but in the end I was anxious to get the project finished and really liked the contrast:

DSC_0375Each chair had a piece of black fabric attached by velcro to the bottom but with the new covers most of that velcro wasn’t accessible so I left it off for now.

Here’s the finished chair in the living room:

DSC_0370And chair #2 in the office:

DSC_0373While the red fabric was fun I’m really loving these new neutrals with the fresh paint going into the house.

For those interested, the slip cover was huge and fit both chairs with room to spare! I’m using some of the remnants for pillows that I’m going to stamp and decorate before stuffing. The drop cloth came from Big Lots and was 9′ x 12′ before I hacked it up. According to the sticker I paid $15 so that means the cost for each chair was $7.50. Not too shabby for chairs that were free to begin with.

New Pin Board

When I first made over this pin board I made a few mistakes.

#1 I didn’t fully sand the frame which was plastic and cracked. So it didn’t take the spray paint well. #2 I trimmed the fabric to fit just within the frame which scratched up the white paint. Annoying.

photo 1(2) photo 2(2)So this time around I chose a fabric that would cover the cork and frame entirely.

First up I did the worst piece, ironing the fabric so it would lay flat.  I had these 3 to choose from but I really liked the one on the far left (and Tressa agreed!) DSC_0349Oh and I checked the fabric and it was just light enough that the other pattern was showing through. I grabbed the ceiling paint and a throw away sponge brush from the garage and did a thin layer to make it (mostly) white before starting. It was so hot here it took 5 minutes to dry!

DSC_0355Then I centered the fabric and added a staple so it wouldn’t shift around. Flipping it over I began to pour on the mod podge, spreading it out thinly with another sponge brush.

Sorry, no pics, I was working fast to keep it centered and to secure the fabric before the glue dried up. I moved across the board in sections, smoothing the fabric in place and when I got to the other end I started adding the decorative nail trim:

DSC_0357I didn’t go nuts by spacing them out perfectly, it’s really just to secure the fabric so it wouldn’t tent out.

photo 3(2)With the nails in place I flipped the piece over and added a bunch of staples, most of which needed to be hammered in all the way:

DSC_0356Finally I trimmed the fabric piece and let everything dry for awhile before hanging it in the office:

DSC_0360And of course filling it with notes, reminders and fun things (with a slightly more realistic wall paint hue):

photo(4)I picked this remnant up for $4 months ago with no idea where it would end up but I absolutely love it here! I paid $5 for 3 packs of nail trim (1.99 each pack and I had a 40% off coupon for one of them) so the total makeover cost is under $10 since I already owned the mod podge and nail gun. Not bad!

Mirror Makeover

As I’m working on painting and improving the living room my goal is to re-use or repurpose as much as I can. This is the story of the mirror.

I have a variety of mirrors in my home – such as this one in the master bedroom,

DSC_0165this one in the guest room,

2012_02_24 (11)and this new one in the entry way.

photo(2)The main bathroom has a trio of mirrors:

2011_11_23 (18)And the master bath has this large piece:

2011_05_30 (07)But one of my favorites is this one over the fireplace that I got from my Grandma when she moved to assisted living. It’s not an heirloom piece by any means and the frame is plastic. Here’s what the mirror (and living room) used to look like:
2012_11_24 (08)I’m pretty sure the mirror came from TJ Maxx.

Either way, I wasn’t going to cry over painting it, especially since the brown/bronze thing wasn’t matching the new lighter living room and fireplace.

It came down when I was working on the ceiling and then through painting the walls. Eventually I moved the whole mirror to the table and laid it atop of drop cloth, propped up on Styrofoam leftover from the lights I installed here.

First up I cleaned the mirror and frame:

IMG_0701then I taped off the glass with newspaper, lining the edge with green painter’s tape. First up was a matte gray to cover the brown:

IMG_0705It took several thin coats to get into all those grooves but when I was done it looked a little dull so I spiced it up with some metallic silver:

IMG_0707I just kept going over the frame in small batches, letting the thin layers dry in between, until it got to the sheen I wanted. Then I took off the newspaper and rehung it on the wall and it was perfect!

Which is of course a lie…

IMG_0718When I hung it up (above) the finish was bugging me. I kept finding places where the finish wasn’t uniform. Also, doesn’t it look like Ironman is judging it? I think so.

So it came off the wall again and this time just using the metallic silver I touched it up again:


ta da! so much better, don’t you think?

If I recall the cans of spray paint were $4-6/each so let’s average it at $10 for this mirror makeover.

And I might be the only one who does this but I know the price of every mirror in the house. Weird, right? From cheapest to most expensive we have the guest room = $3, fireplace $10, entryway $17, master bedroom $20, master bath $27 and 3 in the main bath $60.

$137 total dollars (over 5.5 years) is not bad at all for a house full of mirrors, none of which are builder grade. The slabs that used to be up in the bathrooms were given away on Freecycle and the old entry way mirror from Ikea is for sale.

Because Tile is Expensive

I kinda hate my fireplace.

I’ve never actually used it for fire, unless candles count, and the tile is UGLY.


2014 - fire place detailIt’s icky, there’s really no way to describe it. And once I painted the living room gray it stood out like a sore thumb.

So I did some research by reviewing these tutorials:

Tutorial #1

Another One

Tile painting tutorial

After picking up my paint and taping off the edges I got to work. First up I used some leftover beige grout from the bathroom tiles and filled in some gaps in the brown grout. After cleaning that up I started with the first layer using this white latex primer from Zinsser:

photo 3(1)And the first layer looks crappy:

photo 2(2)Second coat was much cleaner:

photo 3And after several coats on the vertical tiles I cleaned the hearth and started on the horizontal ones:

photo 2(1)



The bottom was much harder, both to keep the dogs off and to stopping the dog hairs from messing up my white paint. Even after 3 coats it wasn’t quite perfect.

photo 1(1)So I taped off the carpet and did another few coats:

photo 1Finally done. And it’s a pain since Zinsser is oil based. Which means using mineral spirits on the paint brush or keeping it in the fridge so it doesn’t have to be cleaned.

Now, the tutorials were very clear that you should use a water-based polycrylic to protect the tile. And using an oil-based primer would turn the tiles yellow.


photo 3

Yeah, I was stuck with streaky, yellow protective finish.

So I busted out the sand paper and did another layer of primer and decided to leave it for now.

Here’s what it looked like when I was “done”

photo 5Great, except those gaps were driving me crazy. Yes, it’s the little things.

Even if I’m the only one who will ever see it.

So I picked up this plastic quarter round primed white and cut it with my hand saw to fit. Using clear liquid nails I glued it in place and secured the quarter round with painter’s tape.

photo 1Fill the edges with caulk and it’s finally looking better.

photo 2One last before/after:

photo 4

Of course it was messy and took forever which begs the question “why not just re-tile?” Well, because tile is expensive. And messy. And even more time consuming.

Did you notice that the mirror also got an upgrade? I’ll share that soon!

Changes in the Office

A few weeks ago I started working in the office to organize and re-arrange the furniture and then paint.

First up, I moved the desk back in front of the window – leaving enough room in the back for the power cords.

DSC_0343By the way, yes those are Christmas lights outside the window. They go all along the side yard since I have no outdoor lighting on that side of the house.

The bookshelf I had in here didn’t have enough storage so I stole to Expedit bookcase I bought at Ikea for the guest room closet.

DSC_0342Here’s what it’s storing:

bookshelf annotated

On the other side of the desk is the short oak bookshelf and since most of the old stuff has moved around I’m using it to stage crap as I figure out where it’s going to go next. Classy, I know.

DSC_0346The shelf that began in the master bedroom and moved to the living room has now migrated to the office on the awkward 5th wall that’s really hard to furnish. The shelf now holds a few bright colored organizers, baskets for my label makers and a handful of binders:

photo 4(1)

photo 5Right underneath the shelf is my awesome fold up tredmill so I can exercise while working on the iPad:

DSC_0340The closet went back to neutral and I covered up the old green color with white ceiling paint. I’m working on adding some shelves for my file boxes and totes but for now they’re just stacked up on one side of the closet:

DSC_0348For awhile I had Jackson’s crate in the office (the biggest one I own) but kept hitting my toe and scratching my legs on the frame. So it went back to the garage and I just used the square dog bed and some blankets and old pillows:

photo(3)While the walls are still pretty empty I did add some things like my huge Post-it notes in 2 spots, the blue ones above the oak bookshelf and the bright pink ones just to the right of the desk:

DSC_0341Additionally, I rehung my diploma and added posters in the closet to track marketing metrics:

DSC_0339Last but not least I decided to revamp the cork board I had from Grandma’s shed. Here’s what it used to look like:

DSC_0179while I really liked the geometric pattern it was just too dark for the lighter paint. Oh yeah, I painted the walls a new custom color from Behr. It came from a wedding invite that I loved and color matched.

photo 1(1)I worked around the room doing one wall at a time:

photo 2(1)And just love the new minty green, beach like color that’s so relaxing.

Back to the pin board… I tested out a few new fabrics next to the new wall color to decide which one I like best – next time I’ll share which one I chose and how it looks in the room!

DSC_0349What’s your vote for the best pattern?