Monday, December 31, 2012

My Favorite Projects of 2012

I love looking back on the past year and being reminded of what I accomplished during the past 12 months.  Getting back most of the feeling and function in my right leg was a big help in getting projects done.  Yay for physical therapy!

Guest Room Redo:

Right after Christmas last year, I started working on the guest room on the 3rd floor our our home.  This bedroom with a sitting area and 3 piece bathroom is perfect for guests.  I was able to finish the room inexpensively by using things I already owned.  I only spent money on paint and a new set of sheets.

Goat Feed Bag Grocery Sack:

I finally made use of the goat and chicken feed bags that had been accumulating in our barn.  I turned a few of them into grocery sacks.  I'm still making them and selling them in my Etsy shop, but they quickly sell out and I've had a lot of local customers buying them.  I hope to add a few more into the shop soon.

Rocking Chair Into Wheelbarrow:

An old, broken rocking chair was my inspiration to remodel an old wheelbarrow.

Hanging Lanterns Without Using Nails or Screws:

I was thrilled to figure out how to temporarily hang my lanterns from my mantle without using nails and/or screws.  I found some purse hooks at the dollar store and after a quick spray paint finish, held the lanterns perfectly.

Trash To Treasure Dining Room:

A trash-to-treasure project provided 4 nice chairs and 2 bar stools for my daughter.

Refinished Bedside Table:

After searching for weeks for the perfect bedside table for my bedroom, I found one in my garage (who knew).  After refinishing it, it's just the right touch.

Window Seat Cushions Covered With Old Curtains:

Six months after starting this project, I finally finished the new comfy window seat cushions.  I made slipcovers for the cushions with my old curtains.  I felt like Maria in The Sound Of Music.

Floating Barnwood Shelves:

Hubs and I worked together to design the floating barn wood shelves that I asked for as a Christmas gift.
2012 Recap Carnival with Musings of a Housewife

Friday, December 28, 2012

Organizing Christmas Wrap

I'm not ready to put away the Christmas decorations yet, but the Christmas wrappings were driving me nuts and I had to do something - and fast.
My studio had become the dumping ground for gifts and wrappings and it was a total mess.  Fortunately, I have a system, so it only took about 15 minutes to put everything away.
First, I gathered all of the bags, ribbons, wrapping paper, tags, and tissue paper together.  Then I sorted it by type on the floor.  I discarded anything that was damaged.
After everything was sorted I started to put each category of wrapping in it's storage place.
The tall rolls of wrapping, large bags, and collapsed boxes were filed into the bottom of the Rubbermaid wrapping container.  It's extra tall to accommodate the tall rolls of paper.

I always use a recycled gift bag that I don't want to use again and store the folded tissue paper and small gift bags in.

Ribbon is folded and stored in a sturdy Christmas gift box.  I've used this box for about 10 years now.

Another sturdy gift box holds tags, package decor, cards, and a few odd ribbons.

Package filler (is that what you call it?) goes into Ziploc bags and then I squish the air out to save space.

I add all of the small containers to the large storage container and put the lid on.  Done!

I also took a few seconds to tidy up the regular wrapping that I use throughout the year.  I use wrinkled gift bags to store tissue paper (on the right) and gift bags (on the left).  The basket holds ribbon and package decor.  The tall Rubbermaid container holds all occasion wrapping paper and also contact paper.

All of these wrapping containers slide into my closet on the second floor for easy access.

Where do you store your wrappings?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

How To Build Floating Shelves Out Of Barn Wood

I'm excited to show you the floating barn wood shelves Hubs made me for my Christmas present this year.
 It started out as some barnwood Hubs found along the side of the road.  Piles of old barn wood don't come along very often so you'd better snatch them when you find them.
He borrowed a rip saw from a friend at church and cut the wood down into narrow boards.

He also cut down an old piece of wood from our barn to make cleats to hang the shelves on.  Here are the cleats screwed into studs in the wall.

He made the shelves using  two 4 inch boards and one 2 1/2 inch board.  The 4 inch boards form the top and bottom of the shelf and the 2 1/2 inch board is the strip you see in the front.  There are also 2 small pieces on each end that measure 2 1/2 x 3 1/2.  One shelf is 4 feet long and one is 6 feet long.

Here's another view.  The right facing side is the front of the shelf.  The back of the shelf is open.

Waiting to be hung up in the house.

The shelves are fitted over the cleat and screwed in from the top.  Hubs pre-drilled the holes in the shelves so the old wood wouldn't split.

The top piece of wood on this shelf had to have a fresh cut so we had to distress it to make it match the other wood.  I used a mixture of baking soda and warm water, brushed on the wood, to age the color.  Then I used hammers, screwdrivers, and awls to distress and dent the wood.  It was a fun way to get some aggression out.  I used the baking soda/water mixture a few more times to deepen the wood color.  I also added a little bit of diluted brown paint to vary the grain color.

I can't tell you how happy I am with the new shelves.  I couldn't wait to accessorize them.  Christmas was the perfect time to do it!

I picked up these new accent pillows at the thrift store.  The are Colonial Williamsburg pillow shams.  Score!  They are the perfect red accent.

I'm loving all of the extra seating in the family room with the window seat cushions and new furniture

Just the right touch of rustic.

I'm waiting to get our family photos printed to put in this new picture frame (new from a consignment shop).

Linking up with :

Jennifer Rizzo
The Shabby Nest

Friday, December 21, 2012

Upcycled Window Seat Cushions

Everyone loves sitting on our window seat when they visit.  After all, not many homes have a window seat.

The problem with our window seat was that the cushions were too wimpy.  I made them 7 years ago when we first moved into our home.  I bought average cushion foam and it didn't hold up very well and it was too thin - especially for anyone not having enough padding of their own (if you know what I mean). 

I've gone through a few different colors of pillows, trying to make the area more cozy.  The back pillows are just bed pillows that I covered with upholstery remnants.

I bought new high density foam, 4 inches thick, on sale at Hancock Fabrics.  It is a "green" foam that doesn't off gas.  I bought 2 large pieces and cut them down to size, using the old cushions as patterns.  I then wrapped each piece of foam with batting.  I used a spray adhesive to attach the batting and it went very quickly.

Next, I covered the batting covered foam with a cover made from old sheets.  I used one queen size and one twin size sheet to cover the four cushions.

Finally, I made zippered slip covers for the cushions.   I used T-pins to hold the fabric in place while I pieced it together before sewing.  I used large cushion zippers in the back or side of each cushion so I can easily remove the covers for laundering. 

Where did i get the fabric?  Well, see the curtains in the background of this photo?  Yup, I took them down and covered the cushions with them (very Sound of Music, don't you think?).  The fabric is machine washable and has a wonderful texture to it.  I replaced the old curtains with thermal curtains.

I've got the some red pillows nestled in for Christmas along with Lammy the stuffed Lamb (a favorite of our littlest grandfella).

Ready for snuggling and reading.

What did I do with the old foam?   I cut it up and used it to redo my daughter's trash to treasure dining room chairs.  It was just enough foam to do the job. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What's So Scary About Buying New Furniture?

I'm not usually afraid of many things.  I used to be afraid of the dark, but I got over that.
(I'll admit I'm deathly afraid of frogs, but that has nothing to do with furniture).
What does scare me is buying new things - especially new, expensive, investment kind of things.
Like cars, and houses, and furniture. 
When we moved into this house, our furniture didn't quite fit.  Our sofa (a large, plaid, hide-a-bed), had to sit at an angle in the living area.  Here it is with it's new neutral cover.  The window seat is to the right and the open stairwell is to the left.  The door behind the sofa is a closet that houses our HVAC unit. 

The only large wall was covered up by a wall unit from our old house.  It housed our TV, books, games, candles, vases, stereo, and various odds and ends.

Here it is with other furniture removed so I could polish the floors.  The dining area is to the right and the window seat is to the left.

Here's a rather dark picture of the wall unit with other furniture near it.  Everything is a bit tight!

We had planned on buying new furniture after we had lived in the house for a year, but the kidney disease diagnosis rocked our world and we didn't want to make any non emergency purchases in case I would be out of work for awhile.  Now that I have a new kidney and can work (like a crazy woman) we thought it would be a good time to make some improvements.
Last Christmas was the straw that broke the stuffed room's back.  On Christmas morning we had no room to move around with all of the family in the house.  I declared that we needed more room for people - not things,  and the large wall unit had to go.   
I searched and researched for months to find the right furniture for the room.  It needed to be sturdy and timeless because I only buy furniture every 25 years or so.  I had to admit, I was scared.  It was good money I was spending and I didn't want to make an unwise choice.
I finally settled on a sofa and chair from Lancer, a company is Star, North Carolina.  Everything they sell is American made and built.  I bought it through a local company (Great Bridge Furniture).  They had a sample in the showroom that I could sit on and try out before ordering. They also offer a custom slipcover for only a few hundred dollars more.  I bought one and now I can change up the look for spring/summer buy putting on the slipcover.  I picked a neutral chenille for the main upholstery and a lighter cream Sunbrella fabric for the slipcover.  I know I can add any color pillow and accessories to change up the decor and that helps to take the scary out of buying furniture.   

I'm sure you must be wondering what I have on my wall over the sofa.  I made a mock-up of some floating shelves Hubs is making for me out of barnwood.  They should be finished next week.  I put painters tape on the wall in the size I wanted the shelves to be and then I made paper artwork to add.  I measured a bunch of my current frames and accessories and made templates of them to make sure there was enough space between shelves. This helps to take the scary out of hanging something new on your walls.

I got new pillows for my birthday from Steinmart.  They are chocolate brown with white, cream, blue, rust, and yellow.  I'll be adding some more pillows, but I'm trying to keep with the "more space for people - less space for stuff" rule. 

Now, what to do with the TV and all of the stuff that goes with it.  I went back to the local furniture store and found a floor model of a corner cabinet that I liked.  It had the perfect wood finish to match the wood in our house and it fit perfectly in the awkward corner by the closet.  The only time we have to go into that closet is to have a repairman fix our HVAC unit, so we made sure the piece could slide out easily.  I can still fit a small arm chair and ottoman under the stairs for a cozy reading nook. 

The corner cabinet sat flat on the ground and we needed it to be elevated so that air from the vent behind it could still circulate.  I ordered bun feet from a company on line and stained them to match the wood.  Hubs attached them and you'd never know the piece didn't come with them.

I'm very happy with our seating arrangement now.  We should have places for at least 8 adults to sit comfortably on Christmas day.  Keeping things neutral, taking my time, planning ahead, and researching options really helped to take the scary out of spending money on new furniture.  I have to admit that it was time consuming, but worth every minute (and dollar).

Tomorrow, I'll be showing off the new cushions I made for the window seat and you won't believe what I made them out of!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Christmas Card Saga

As our family grows larger, we seem to have a harder time getting everyone together for a family picture.  I was determined to get a good photo to use for our Christmas cards. 
On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, all of the kids and grand kids came over after church and we gave it a shot.
After a yummy lunch and some clothing changes (the kid's clothes only stay clean for so long) we headed out into the back yard to set things up.
Hubs and I worked together to figure out the timer on the camera.  It was pathetic - we had to read the book that came with the camera.  In the end,  Ashley just used her camera on my tripod.

Then we did a trial shot with Ashley setting the timer and running towards us before the picture was taken.  While this was happening, Juan was chasing Nicholas (3 years old) around the backyard. 

We took about 20 shots and this one turned out the best.  Whew!

Back into the warm house, the grand littles gathered in Papa's chair in front of the Christmas tree.  Jonathan loves his little cousin Charlotte.

Some one's not happy, and there's some weird reflection on every single photo.  We turned lights on and off, moved the camera, moved shiny things out of the room - nothing helped.  Oh, well.

This is how the afternoon ended up - probably because someone didn't get a nap.

I'd like to thank my family for putting up with my ideas to have family pictures.  Next time, let's do it after a nap.  Sorry, Nicholas.