Showing posts with label upcycled. Show all posts
Showing posts with label upcycled. Show all posts

More furniture transformations! (and the booth currently)


I found this night stand at the thrift store for $10. I usually like to find the projects that are a lot of work for free so I can just chuck them if they get to be too much work. But, since I paid for this one I kept going. It. was. a. mess. There was a coat of gray underneath this gross, thick badly painted coat of gel stain. Halfway stained. The gray paint was everywhere inside. WHO PAINTS SIDES AND RAILS OF DRAWERS?! The paint was dripping, on the drawer runners, etc. So bad.

I fixed up a few chipped spots with wood filler and then tried to strip this baby. Again, I made a huge mess and SO much work for myself. I left my mineral spirits at home when I worked on this project in Arkansas, so the stripper and leftover paint/stain dried to it. I had to resand everything down after I restripped it. So gross. It took hours.

But here it is!!

My dad helped me clean up the drawers and I finally was able to stain the top and repaint the rest.
There is no way I'll get the money out of this that the time I put into it deserves, but I'll have the satisfaction knowing that I saved it, right? And it will have a new life? And hopefully I'll learn my lesson on what pieces are actually worth the time and effort!? Or maybe not... haha!

Here's a solid wood pedestal from a friend. It didn't quite fit into my ruined-wood-that-needs-to-be-painted category, but it wasn't an antique either. I immediately envisioned it in Napoleonic Blue chalk paint and it had to be so. I think it has so much more character ... and the blue is gorgeous!

You can see some brush strokes, but that's chalk paint for you and I don't mind at all. And look at those little brass feet! So cute.


Here's a mid century style desk with 70s finishings, BEFORE. (The Goodwill guy that loaded it into my car tried to put it in with all of the drawers still in it - which resulted in him dumping them out onto the pavement. Two were broken apart, but thankfully at the dovetail joints where I could easily glue them back together. But still, more work for me!)

I researched the best brass spray paint and purchased it. I was finally ready to give those ugly pulls a spray and at the last moment decided to use some Bar Keeper's friend cleaning powder on it. With a little elbow grease, I revealed the actual brass handles. People, I was about to paint real brass handles fake brass!! AHH! They aren't perfect but scrubbed up well and while not perfect, they look. so. good. I returned the paint (all the wiser to the best brass spray paint for next time) and returned the hardware to its rightful places. 

And here is the after!! Not too shabby for a tiny bit of semi-gloss paint and a $10 thrifted desk.

And here are photos of the booth currently. My friend, Sarah got a chance to mark some of her fun finds - most of the smalls will be hers because mine are almost all gone!

Will update when things change significantly - we have a mid century modern month coming up and both of us are getting ready for it! So excited!

A (new) antique booth and some furniture transformations!


I have fun news! Since the beginning of February, I've been filling my own antique booth! Mostly with lavender and furniture transformations, but also a smattering of vintage and antiques that I dug up around my home. Mostly, I want to do furniture fix-ups, so I was hoping my friend would join me with her smalls - and after 6 weeks she has! The projects below were the first I put in the booth.

Our neighbor randomly gave me this tri-foot antique table but the base and veneer was badly cracked. Thankfully it was still very sturdy but I put a lot of time (and wood filler!) into this table. It was the perfect candidate for a chalk paint makeover. After I put Bondo on and filled and sanded the top, I painted it with a couple of coats of Annie Sloan's Napoleonic Blue and waxed it with clear and dark wax. The lion pull was on it before I got it, but isn't the original drawer pull. But it was the last perfect touch to complete it.


The table sold on the same day as these ladderback chairs. They were a sorry sight sitting by the dumpsters, but I snagged them and planned to redo them. With a booth move-in deadline on the horizon I quickly got to work. They turned out more distressed than I wanted them (I wanted the chalk paint to be super smooth but the burnishing took off more paint than I wanted - so I'm going to stick with latex paint for my non-distressed white looks). My plan was to make farmhouse style seat covers for the ruined rattan, but I came across a cute woven seat randomly online - so I saved myself a little money and a TON of time by using jute webbing and totally replacing the seats. I did this by hand so I labeled then as "occasional" chairs. Ladderbacks aren't the most comfortable seats so I could envision them on either side of a buffet to be used only when the table was full and extra seats were needed.

Without further ado, here is the BEFORE (well, partial during):

And, the AFTER!! Look at those seats - so cute!

Here's how my booth looked in February. The lavender was so popular - it sold out in that first month!

I've been contemplating opening a booth for several years so while it was overly stressful to be up and running in 3 weeks, I'm so pleased with how it came together and am excited for the months to come! It's month to month so if things don't go well, I may not continue, but it was worth the risk just to try. I love selling my creative work!

DIY rustic phone cabinet


Kitchen update is complete!! (See previous posts here, here, here and here.)

My last project in the kitchen is complete. After several weeks of "in progress" because of my lack of a table saw, I finished my rustic phone cabinet.

This idea was the answer to a clutter problem.

Do you have a spot where stuff always seems to accumulate without a second thought? Ugh. Our microwave is a magnet for clutter and I hate looking at it. With our tiny kitchen layout, every time we need to move the dishwasher to hook it up to the sink, we have to move the phone off and on and off ...

So, I thought, why not build a small cupboard to house the phone, cover the ugly phone jack (see the pic below) and clear up some of the visible clutter?

I had a source for rustic 1x4s, so I figured they would work perfectly as the phone base is right around 4" wide. So when my Dad brought his miter saw to help with a couple of projects, I got several weathered boards, and we went to work.

Very quickly, I realized that said 1x4s were indeed NOT 1" or 4" wide. I should've known this, but wasn't thinking...

My dad did some math and said he would have to rip some boards length wise in order to make the depth of the cabinet wide enough to house the phone. But the table saw is at his house, so it would be a few weeks before I got to work on the cabinet again.

Once I obtained my newly cut pieces, I started putting them together.

I used all of the free items items I could:
3 - 1"x4" fence boards
2 old hinges and screws from this project
reused turquoise knob
1" finish nails and 1" wood screws that I had on hand

I purchased:
1 magnetic hinge kit
4-pack L-shaped brackets
2" screws and 1/2" screws (for attaching brackets)

= about $6-7

 Here is a view from the inside.

- I used the small pieces of wood (extra from the ripping job) to piece together the corners and then two of the longer extras to put the door slats together.
- The left set of L-brackets are screwed into studs and the other two are just screwed into the drywall for a little stabilization. I was going to put them in with plastic anchors, but ran into some sort of duct that made it impossible to screw anything into. (de ga je!)
- The door hinges and magnetic closure are pretty self explanatory. :-)

Aren't the weathered variations so pretty?

I know my dishwasher/microwave combo isn't much to look at, but the pic gives some perspective on the cabinet. Doesn't this little nook look so much cleaner?

I have to admit - even with this "fix" the microwave is still a magnet for stuff, but at least it's not home to those things anymore.

Woot for a finished room!

once an ottoman, twice DIYed


Over three years ago, I redid our sadly chewed up Target storage ottoman with a slip cover. It was literally the only piece of furniture we bought after we got married. (sniff) Of course, the puppy chewed that one.

After using it daily, the cover needed a wash, so I did. But I'd forgotten that I didn't preshrink the fabric the first time around, so ... it shrunk. Ugh.

Oh well, we kept using it.

And then it got really, really dirty (think toddler, dog, husband, me...) and began to come apart in places and it was time for a change.

(problem) Not to mention, I was struggling with solutions for toy storage space ...  I had thought about an open coffee table with rolling crates underneath, a different coffee table and storage crates beside the couch, a vintage trunk, etc.

A couple of friends nixed the vintage trunk route because the lids are often very heavy and suggested a storage ottoman. Yes, well, I have a storage ottoman but it is being used to house photos and a few wedding memorabilia. And the slip cover is a pain and a half to get off/get on every time my toddler wants to get in it. It just wouldn't be good for toys.


(solutions) A couple of weeks later, I thought, "Why not use it and just change it up? Isn't that what I've been talking about on my blog?!" So I scanned all of the old photos except for one album from my travels in Europe from 2006 and our wedding album. 360+ photos are gone from my life but still accessible on the computer. Decluttering is beautiful.

I made room in my linen closet for the wedding box.

And then I decided to rip the upholstery off the ottoman and slap some wood slats on the outside for a completely different look. Storage for toys that looks a lot better than it did. Away with thee, slipcover!!

Ladybug and I went to visit my parents over spring break, so I decided to shove the torn-apart ottoman in the back of the car and ask my dad to help me fix it up.

My idea: slap some wood on the outside, maybe sand and stain.

My Dad's idea: un-upholster the entire thing, take it completely apart, cut it down so the lid would fit with an extra 3/4" of wood added to the outside, put the box back together and then painstakingly fit each piece of wood to the outside.

Of course, we did it the right way.

Here goes!

First, we took all of the upholstery off (including all 1,000 staples) and took the entire box apart to hopefully reuse. Then we cut about 1-1/2" off each piece and used an electric nail gun to put it back together (yay!). We put the inside upholstery back in as we went.

Each board was cut at a 45 degree angle (LOTS of 45 degree angles, compound angles, too) to create an interesting pattern and then we glued and fitted pieces of free oak flooring - leftover from a kitchen flooring project - to cover the entire ottoman. This about tripled its weight. In a good way. 

After piecing it all together, it the edges weren't totally even, so we took the circular saw and evened out the top and bottom edges. While cutting the pieces, we were reminded to not cut pieces of wood that are too small. Right, Dad?

And here it is!! After I took it home, I sanded it, stained it with Dark Walnut and sealed it with three coats of polycrylic.

I had to make-do with the upholstery, so I covered up the lip with brown scraps and re-stapled the inside upholstery up. Final step was to screw the legs back in and install a length of chain since the lid mechanism didn't work with the new, smaller box size. I don't love seeing the staples, but it really isn't a big deal as the lid is closed most of the time.

And the toys are officially hidden from sight!

Finally, a satisfactory solution to my toy dilemma. It's a more masculine look than I usually go for, but I really like it. And it's still very comfy to prop up on and type a blog post (wink).

 With a 5x7 clearance jute rug from Target, I think it looks smashing!

Third time's a charm?

I sure hope so.

International Upcycling: Carolina in Costa Rica


A good friend from Haiti visited Kansas City last summer and while I was talking with him about transitioning my third world perspective to first world living, he told me of a Costa Rican friend who upcycles plastic bottles into flower accessories. Of course, I was intrigued (another country? upcycling? two of my favorite topics!), so I got the whole story recently to share with you. 

Here's the scoop: Carolina Leon Castro is a Costa Rican who studied pharmacy, and makes upcycled accessories from plastic bottles. How does she do it? After retrieving an old plastic bottle (the bumpy bottom kind), she cuts off the base, forms "petals" in the plastic and then melts it into shape with a candle. Then she paints it, glues on the details/hardware and voilà! Something pretty - from trash, no less.

She sold some of these "upcycled" jewelry treasures that she made in order to go on a medical mission trip to Haiti with some other Latino doctors and my friend, Brendan, in August 2010. She's featured them in some art shows, was interviewed on a local television show and helped teach a little workshop to some kids in the barrio where Brendan lives. Here are a couple of photos from a workshop.

Brendan also told me that Costa Rica, incidentally, has a "culture" of "upcycling"/recycling stuff you throw away to do neat little crafts and home-made solutions. It's a very common practice, and kids learn to do it early on in school. It's about being resourcefulness and caring for their environment, because they're very proud of their country's natural beauty. To not be environmentally conscious in Costa Rica would be equivalent to being careless and wasteful with your money in the States.

story and photos courtesy of Brendan Blowers (San José, Costa Rica) and Carolina's facebook page

1970s Wool Maxi Skirt to Winter Plaid Pillows


My grandma has been downsizing and cleaning out her closet ... from the 1950s-1980s! I haven't been able to wear or keep everything, but I have several gems that I'm so excited about (remind me to show you the black velvet 50s dress!).

This 1970s handmade maxi was one that I loved, but, alas, can't wear. It was slightly too tight around the waist and slightly too short. (We tall ladies often run into that problem!) You can hem a skirt, but it's hard to make it longer. Anyway, right away I loved the plaid and decided that it would make cozy fall/winter pillows. (I know, another pillow, excuse my sewing skills - or lack thereof...)

Pillow forms were on sale at the craft store, so I grabbed a 14x14 and a 16x16 form with a Christmas giftcard. I've found that the loose stuffing makes sorta lumpy pillows - does anyone have any pointers in using it? I have lots that I've thrifted but lumpy pillows aren't exactly pretty.

Anyway. Here they are!

I ended up cutting the fabric poorly (use your rotary cutter and mat!), so I cut the 14x14 twice and then didn't have enough for my full second pillow. So, I cut the pillow on a seam and actually really love it.

 And, the back of the larger pillow I matched with some upcycled (formerly the inside of another pillow) fabric. It works.

And, I think I'm going to recover our headboard with dropcloth for a more neutral backdrop to work with. What do you think?