Thursday, December 30, 2010

Favorite Projects of 2010

Yes, another "Best of 2010" post.  Let's get on with it!

Since I didn't start blogging until last summer, I don't have a full year of projects to look back on, but here is a few of my favorites (in no particular order):

I finally find the right fabric to pull together the living room.  Full TUTORIAL on how to make these easy valances.  If you can cut and sew a straight line, you can make these too!

Love the catalog, not the prices!  Gather ye craft store coupons and make this stylish bulletin board.

Gutting your kitchen?  Got a Habitat Restore in your area?  I love these message boards made from old cabinet doors.

I finally clear the clutter and raise the eyebrows of a thrift store clerk with this mantel make-over.

MY MOST POPULAR POST THIS YEAR:  I cured the cat scratch fever plaguing a pair of antique chairs.

Natural fabrics were BIG this year, but I buck the burlap trend and opt for smooth linen with these Christmas pillows.

Yup, I pulled this one from the curb!  She had a solid body, great lines and didn't deserve the trash heap yet.

I thought everyone would laugh at this one, but I bet there were a few people who started rummaging through their underwear drawer after reading this post.

A friend building her own photography studio finally kicks me in gear to fix up an old garage sale find.

I blow the budget on a powder room makeover, but it wasn't on new lighting!

I'm linking up...
southern hospitalityChic on a Shoestring Decorating The DIY Show Off

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bottlecap Tambourine

I love giving homemade gifts as much as I love receiving them.  On a trip to our favorite junk antique store this summer, my husband saw a tambourine-like thing made from vintage bottlecaps.

Now, being an amateur musician with a home recording studio set up in a spare bedroom, he loves noisemakers, the more primitive, the better.  He was intrigued by the design but not the price tag, so he asked if I could make something like it.  "Sure!" I said.

Then, he loaned out the miter saw.  Humph!

I managed to get the miter saw returned to us right before Christmas and I whipped out a tambourine in an afternoon.  Here's how:

I'd been collecting bottlecaps for another project for some time, so I had plenty on hand.  I tried just pounding with a hammer to flatten them, but I found it was easier to use pliers on them first to pull out the crimped edges.

Then, I could go after them with a hammer.

I keep an old cutting board on hand, which makes a great work surface.

I used a large nail to pierce a hole in the center of each bottlecap.

I had some scrap pieces of 1x2 in the garage and used the bottlecaps to measure how long to cut the wood.  Then, I raided my jewelry-making supplies for some long headpins.

I clipped the head off the pin, and then twisted one end into a loop.  If you had an eyepin, you could skip this step.

I pre-drilled small holes in the wood and threaded the wire and bottlecaps through it.  After setting the second piece of wood on top, I clipped the excess wire, looped it, and pounded both ends of the wire into the wood.  I used a nail set to really get the wire embedded into the wood and smeared a little wood putty over it.  I wanted the overall effect of the shaker to be rustic, so I wasn't worried about hammer marks or a little wire showing through the finish.

I gave the whole thing a good sanding and painted it with black acrylic craft paint.  Finally, I sanded the edges one more time to expose a little bare wood and finished with a rub-on polyurethane.

When Mr. Tallgrass unwrapped it, he beamed and pronounced it was his favorite Christmas present.

I knew it would be.  :)


I'm linking up...

handmade projectsFunky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chocolate Dreams

On a trip to New York City, my husband and I ate at some overpriced restaurant before going to a Broadway show.  It was a nice enough meal, professional service, blah, blah, blah.  When it came time for dessert, the waiter flourished a bowl of fruit and said, "Perhaps the lady would care for some lovely fruit for dessert?"

Now, I like fruit.  But I'm from the Midwest.  Fruit, no matter how ripe and luscious, is not a restaurant dessert in my book.  Serve it at brunch.  Eat a quick bowl for breakfast.  Enjoy for lunch when tired of salad.  Have some for a snack.

But it's just not dessert.  I'd rather eat cheese for my final course, like the French, before I ordered a bowl of fruit.

Bless Mr. Tallgrass, I'm sure he saw my look of dismay.  He leaned over to the waiter and said in a mock-whisper:

"The lady likes CHOCOLATE."

Oh yes!  I LOVE CHOCOLATE.  The more, the richer, the darker, the better.

And that's what I was thinking when I saw this brocade.  Rich chocolate goodness.  Had to have some of it!

It's satiny and delicious.  It could be yours too because I made an extra for Etsy.

And what did Santa bring me for Christmas?

I must have been a good girl this year.  :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred,
and we are better throughout the year for having,
in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime."
~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Monday, December 20, 2010

Altered Composition Books for Journaling

Mr. Tallgrass and I love to travel.  And we've been fortunate to visit some beautiful places.  More importantly, we always felt that it was the JOURNEY that was the most fun, not just the destination.

It's easy to remember the big stuff, like the time we saw Prince Charles at the Tower of London.

The "locals" in the crowd around us didn't get all that excited.  One woman said seeing Prince Charles wasn't a big deal, but when Diana was alive, seeing her was a thrill.  Wonder what kind of reception Wills and Kate are getting these days?

And my husband won't let me live down how I took a nap in this courtyard at the Louvre.

Hey, in my defense, we tackled the Louvre on the first full day in Paris (read: jet lag!) and Mr. French History Major had to look at every stinkin' statue and portrait of every dead French king in the place.

And then there was the time we were at the beach in Barcelona and we saw a guy walk to the water, fully dressed, stripped down to NOTHING and waded right in.

What, were you looking for a picture?  Sorry, I'm running a clean blog here, so no photos of that one!  :)

But, there are just some memories you can't capture with a camera, so on our more recent trips, we began journaling as well so we could remember the quirky, little details.  We love to sit in a cafe in the evening and recount our day, taking fast, snapshot-like notes in a composition book, and some days, we journal in our hotel room, aching feet dangling off the bed.  We just keep adding to the same book, and we enjoy spending our time waiting in airports recounting past trips in anticipation of the journey ahead.  It's amazing how much you can forget over the years!

So I decided to deck out our travel log.

All it takes is an old atlas, lot of glue and plenty of patience.  I finished the outside with acrylic sealer.  The inside covers are pages from the index of the atlas.  Then, I added a cute bookplate.

We're ready for our next adventure!  In the meantime, I'll dream of France...

Or maybe Spain and Portugal,

Or perhaps Italy?

I made some extras to share in my Etsy shop.  Where would you like to go?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hearth Room Mini-Makeover, Part 2

Welcome back for Part 2 of the Hearth Room Mini-Makeover.

As I mentioned yesterday, outfitting our little hearth room was a challange because the space is small intimate.  I'd find a chair I like, then measure it.  Today's furniture is so BIG and fitting two chairs in the space would make it look pretty crammed.

I'd just finished an semester-long class on reupholstering furniture, so I began to consider antique furniture, which was made for smaller scaled people than we are today.   Then, I found a posting on Craig's List for two FREE chairs with the disclaimer they'd need to be reupholstered.  Perfect!  I called the guy immediately and he bragged how he bought them from an estate in a hoity toity area of the city.

He didn't mention on the phone that he had three large manx cats.

I am not daunted.  So, I signed up for a second sememster of upholstery and hauled my projects to class.  Despite their size, they are heavy.  And the seat cushions have springs inside and are amazingly dense.  Even the instructor was impressed.

And the final result?

I love the warmth of the worn arm rests.  I rubbed them with Howard's Restor-a-Finish to even the sheen but maintain that great patina.

Right now, we have a coffee table in the room which I moved for the pictures, but I'm thinking of replacing it with an ottoman. 

(Truth be known, the chairs normally FACE the fireplace.)

Now this is a great place to relax in the winter.  I'll put on more coffee for you.

Note: If you are interested in learning upholstery, check a nearby community college or trade school.  I found my upholstery classes in the continuing education section at a technical school, so it was very reasonably priced considering it was a twelve week course and provided all the tools and supplies I'd need, such as cord for piping, staples, dacron, cotton batting, adhesives, tack strips, ply grip, etc.  The only thing not provided was fabric, gimp, decorative tacks and foam.  Some extension offices offer upholstery and furniture refinishing classes as well.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hearth Room Mini-Makeover, Part 1

The original post has been revised with new, brighter photos.  Thanks to Centsational Girl for the photo tips!

We have this rather ridiculous area of our house called referred to as a hearth room.  It's too small to be a family room and too big to ignore.  And it has its own fireplace (duh, it's a hearth room) which means more $$$ in insurance premiums.  But it does make for a nice place to drink coffee, read a book and listen to music.

This is the part where I put my hands over my face and show the Before:

This is called CLUTTER.  Over the years, we just stuck stuff on the mantel.  More about function than aesthetic.  Except the speakers, which we haven't used in ages.  That's about laziness.

Mr. Tallgrass has been saying that he wanted to retire the painting over the fireplace in the hearth room.  He also has been saying he's not thrilled with the color of the walls in the kitchen/breakfast/hearth area, so yippee, I get to paint!  To save a little money, I just mixed some of the Sherwin William's Galliant Gold from the living room update debacle with some leftover SW White Raisin from the foyer.  Mr. Tallgrass is thrilled that I didn't spend any money to repaint.  :)

We found this very cool resin window/medallion thing at an antique market a couple of weeks ago.

And my new shiny red mantel accessories?  I had a completed punch card from Savers for 30% off my entire purchase, so I went shopping!

You should have seen the dubious look of the cashier when I checked out.

But I had only four and I wanted five to make them odd numbered.  And I wanted the fifth object to be slender, like the pitcher.  And I wanted to get the project finished NOW.  So I started scouting the house and came up with this.

Yup, a half finished bottle of really sweet red wine from a party last weekend.  Time to break out the spray paint!

Everyone knows the decorating power of grouping of object of different shapes but keeping them the SAME COLOR.  So my motley collection got lots and lots of thin coats of glossy Krylon Georgia Clay spray paint.  Basically, I'd run to the garage, give the first object a quick spray, run inside for the next piece and when I was finished with the last one, the first vase was ready for another coat.

Except the poor wine bottle.  It looked like I was just filling an old wine bottle with Clamato.  So I rummaged in the basement to find a possible replacement vase or bottle.

I found this instead.

Looks like a bottle stopper, right?  It's actually a finial from an old temperamental curtain rod whose two ends had become jammed which rendered it useless.  But the finials were a nice shape, so I kept them.  And I'm glad I did.

And I found some of this to solve my Clamato problem.

I sprayed the wine bottle with this hammered finish spay paint to give it texture and cut down on the opacity before its final coat with the red spray paint.

Close up time!

Tomorrow, I'll show you the rest of the hearth room.  Here's a preview.  You'll want to see the before of these chairs!

I'm linking up!