Tag Archives | DIY

A perfect pair

I’ve been wanting some new lamps for our guest bedroom for a long time now. Before, we had two small lamps that we found at garage sales. They were a little short and not exactly the style we were going for (one had a really ugly beaded shade that I had never intended to use.)


I’ve been looking for a while, but couldn’t find the right ones. Am I the only one that thinks lamps are outrageously expensive for what they are? We had set a budget of $30 per lamp, which I thought was reasonable until I started looking.  Boo hiss. They also seem to be either way too big or too small for a bedside table. Large lamps definitely make a statement, but I’m not one to forgo function. I want our guests to have room to use the end tables for their things, too.

So I had decided I wanted skinny, “candlestick” style lamps that were fairly tall but would still look ok with a medium sized shade. I saw a few at garage sales and thrift stores, but was afraid to buy one on its own for fear that I’d never fine one similar enough. And then lo and behold, I saw this sadly mismatched pair at a garage sale.


For $1 each. Andrew didn’t quite see it at first, but I knew they could work together since they’re the same height and similar shapes. Another bonus, they have relatively new wiring. I’m all about buying used stuff, but not lamps with old wires!

First, I scraped off the chipping paint on the top of the white lamp. Then I taped the cords and electrical components. We had tried scuff sanding them but without much success, so we primed them using Kilz Original spray primer. It’s an oil, so it should adhere fairly well anyway.


After allowing the primer to dry for 24 hours and sanding it lightly, I sprayed them using a DIY chalk paint made from a sample of Sherwin Williams Intense White. I used my HVLP gun to give them a smooth, brush free finish. I didn’t want to use a spray paint because I wanted them to be matte.


Using chalk paint in a sprayer leaves kind of a rough texture, though, so I sanded them lightly after the final coat. I wanted to wax them, too, so they would feel a bit smoother. I haven’t really had an issue with Minwax discoloring white finishes (it has a slight orange tint), but I’ve heard some people do, so I wanted to try SC Johnson’s Paste wax which is clear.


I finally found SC Johnson Paste Wax at Home Depot, despite an employee telling me that they didn’t have it and that it probably wasn’t actually branded as an “SC Johnson” product. Well, guess what? It is. And he was wrong. So for anyone looking for this, look in the section with floor cleaners and waxes, not in the paint and stain section. It’s also one of the cheapest wax options at about $7.


I use cheesecloth to apply waxes. It’s a very easy process! Get some wax on the cloth, rub into the paint, let it sit for a few minutes, and then buff it with a clean part of the cloth. On large pieces, be sure to work in small sections. I really liked this wax. It’s definitely clear like people say, and it has a softer consistency that makes it easy to apply and rub out. It doesn’t seem to buff to as shiny of a finish as Minwax, but that was fine for this application. I’m definitely excited to try it again and to try mixing it with my dark wax!

Anyway, after that I just needed the shades! After waiting for several weeks for Target to restock their lighting department after “back to school”, we found these pleated fabric shades for $14.99 each. It was a little more than I’d hoped, but since the lamps were only $1 we were still well under budget.


I wanted to stick with a neutral color palette for the lamps. I want to bring in color and contrast with artwork, new pillows (after we get new bedding), and a natural wood headboard, so I didn’t want these to stick out too much. They also coordinate well with our off-white/linen colored curtains.


I love that they add some height and frame the bed, but still leave plenty of room on the end table for a glass of water, a book, etc.


They also cozy up the room a lot and make it feel warmer and more homey, especially with the overhead light turned off.


Just like I hoped, they coordinate really well with each other now that they’re the same color. And they stand out a lot better against our black bedside tables than the previous black lamps.



And if I ever get tired of the white bases, they’ll be really easy to repaint! Another happy accident is that these lamps have the kind of switch that you just push to turn on and off. I prefer those to the kind you have to turn cause they’re so much easier to use when you’re tired and laying in bed!


We also had to buy a lamp kit (not the entire wiring kit, just the top piece) because the part the shade sits on was missing on one of the lamps. It was $5, so in total we spent just under $40 for the pair. Not exactly a steal, but it sure beats spending $40 or $50  a piece AND we were still under our $60 budget.

We certainly could have done it for less with cheaper shades, but these turned out to be exactly what I was wanting, not just a temporary solution to get us by. It was definitely worth it, and I love them!! I want to curl up in that room and read a book! Now we just need to get some stuff on those bare walls!

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Some new old decor

Yeah, I know, we just keep buying old stuff. We can’t help it! We prefer old furniture! And we love going to garage sales, thrift stores, and flea markets which naturally leads to us buying more stuff. A few weeks ago, we ventured into the Flying Dog Vintage Mall in Fayetteville with some friends visiting from out of town. If you’ve never been there and live in the area, check it out. It’s a bit strange and might give you a scare (hint: a bloody life-sized figurine hiding around a corner), but there are definitely some treasures to be found!

We found this little guy for $19.


No, not the cat. The chair. Although they might have a store cat, too? We happened upon this mid-century style office chair in one of the booths and immediately thought of it for our home office…whenever we get around to redoing that, of course. We’re not sure that it was technically made in the “mid-century”, but maybe in the 70′s. It did have this tag, but unfortunately no date.


It’s in great condition and after looking up stuff online, we realized this chair is more common with black…pleather? We’re so glad we found a brown colored one. It has so much more character! I think we’ll leave the wooden arms and cushions just as they are (since they’re in good shape), but we might paint the metal frame. Haven’t decided yet or figured out what color.

For now, the chair’s hanging out in our bedroom with the settee.


Eventually, we want a comfy upholstered chair here (and maybe a rug and table, too), but for now we didn’t want the bedroom to look so empty, and we didn’t want to keep adding pieces of furniture to our already random office “decor.” Really it looks more like a slightly empty storage unit at the moment…

Chaucer loved the chair, probably because he thought it brought out the color of his eyes and made him feel like he was on the set of Mad Men.


He always has to be right at the center of whatever I’m doing! Generally he’s laying on whatever I’m trying to clean, put away, work on, etc. What a helpful fluff.


I even brought in our funky little mid-century footstool. They kind of go together!


Haha, too much? Probably. We also added another piece of decor recently. Andrew made this stump “side table” from the remains of a huge, dead tree our neighbors cut down.


He cut it to size with a chain saw, and then used a belt sander to smooth out and level the ends.


It sort of blends in with our floor, but I think when it’s in the office up against a darker paint color (and maybe with a rug) it will stand out a little better.


I think it has two center points because this was cut just under where two branches connected, also causing the stump to get bigger at the top.


We’ve toyed around with the idea of staining or painting and lacquering the top, but for now we love the beauty of the natural grain. Coasters will just be a necessity!

And still more of the fluffy Chaucer. He’s just too fluffy and orange!


Now that we’re starting to get pieces of furniture and some decor items for the office, I really want to do it now, but we have so many other unfinished projects that have to be completed first! But c’mon, wouldn’t you want to get your hands on it right away, too, if your office looked like this?


Sigh…it will be your turn someday, mister office.

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DIY Stenciled Curtains

They’re finally done! After over a year of having all the materials needed to stencil curtains for our master bedroom, I finally did it. I was really intimidated by this project so I just kept putting it off. One day a few weeks ago, I just couldn’t take it any more!

Since it’s been so long, here’s a refresher. I was inspired by these curtains from West Elm. At the time, I couldn’t decide if I wanted them, and by the time I did, they were no longer available!

I had already decided I wanted grey curtains for our bedroom, and I loved that the pattern on these was fairly subtle from far away. I looked high and low for a suitable alternative…and nothing. I was so in love with these that I hated everything else, so I set out to recreate them as closely as possible.

And here’s the finished product! The pattern is subtle from far away (and hard to capture in pictures), but that’s what I loved about the original curtains in the first place! (More “after” pics are at the very end!)


And they block plenty of light (probably more than the West Elm ones would have!), which was the whole reason for curtains in the first place! Our neighbor, Floyd, has a flood light in his back yard that shines directly into our window. It’s on a light sensor, so if it’s dark outside that sucker is on. We mentioned it to him once and his solution was to spray paint half of the light’s cover black while standing on his roof. He then proceeded to say “Can’t say I’m not bein’ neighborly!” in his native Arkansan accent. Apparently other neighbors have told him he’s not neighborly. Probably because he’s not.

Also, it is about 1000 times better than our “solution” before which consisted of a decorative screen and a picnic blanket. Pretty sad.


  • Fabric: I bought 7 yards of grey light duty upholstery fabric from Fabric Guru (fabricguru.com) for $5.95 per yard. It’s a heavier weight fabric than you might normally need for curtains, but these needed to block light. After tax and shipping the total was about $46.
  • Stencil: I chose the FUJI Allover stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils. It’s almost the same as the West Elm curtains! It only came in the bigger size that would have been around $50 (the actual pattern is bigger, not just the stencil) so I emailed and asked if it could be made in the craft size. I thought the smaller pattern would appear more subtle. It also happens to be cheaper! She said they could make it for me and would charge the same as any other craft size stencil! After shipping it was $32.


  • Acrylic Paint and textile medium: You could just use fabric paint, but I found this option to be much cheaper (about $8 after the 40% off coupon.) I found both of these at Hobby Lobby. According to the textile medium, you simply mix it in a 1:1 ratio with any color of acrylic paint. This keeps the paint more flexible like fabric paint. 1 bottle of each was more than enough for my 2 panels. If you had a stencil with bigger openings, though, you might need more.
  •  Stencil Adhesive Spray: This really helps the stencil stick to the fabric and stay in place while you’re stenciling. I also found this at Hobby Lobby (about $4 after coupon). There were several other adhesive sprays, but this was the only that said “repositionable.”  I was worried the others could leave a weird residue on the fabric. There was no residue with this one. If you opt not to use it, be sure to tape down your stencil to keep it in place!
  • High density foam roller: You can buy these from places like Cutting Edge Stencils, but I’m guessing they’re pretty similar to the high density foam rollers you can buy at home improvement stores, just more expensive. You will want to make sure it has the rounded tip! It comes in handy for corners! 



Step 1: Wash the fabric to remove any sizing and to preshrink it. I went ahead and cut the bolt into two panels before washing so my washer wouldn’t get so off-balance.

Step 2: Iron. Enough said.

Step 3: Prepare your work surface. Most tutorials recommend covering your floor with craft paper or plastic and then taping down the fabric to keep it from moving. (If you do this, be sure to lift up the fabric after every couple passes so it doesn’t stick!) We just happened to have this huge piece of chipboard in our garage, and it was perfect! With the chipboard, there was no need to tape down the fabric because the chipboard is rough and held the fabric in place. The paint dried very quickly, so I just moved it around as needed.


Step 4: Spray and position your stencil. Spray an even coat of stencil adhesive over the entire back of the stencil. I sprayed a new coat of adhesive after every third use. The more often you do it the better, but I was worried I might run out. The adhesive I used recommended patting it with a rag first so it wasn’t too sticky, but I chose not to do this so that it would stay stickier longer, and I didn’t have any issues with residue.

This is the sample stencil they sent that I practiced with before hand. This is with a coat of stencil adhesive. Warning: While it does not make your fabric sticky, the overspray will make your garage floor sticky. Hehe, oops.


I started in the top left corner and lined my stencil up with the selvage edge. This was the scary part!!


Step 5: Load your roller with paint and then offload it on a paper towel. The more paint you have on your roller, the better chance you have of pushing the paint under the edge of the stencil. Load your roller with paint, and then roll it over a paper towel to remove any excess.


Step 6: Roll away! I chose to use a 2″ foam roller after some experimenting. Since the openings on my stencil were so small, I either had to paint every opening individually by turning the roller on it’s side or use a ton of pressure which just wasn’t evenly distributed with the 4″ or 6″ rollers.



I also found it helpful to dab the corners, though I did have to be especially careful about the amount of paint on the end of the roller. This method seemed to push more paint under the edges.


Step 7: Respray and reposition your stencil. Overlap your stencil to make sure the pattern turns out straight.


But be extra careful not to repaint what you’ve already done since the stencil won’t always line up perfectly…otherwise you’ll end up with this.


But luckily this only happened once, and that spot actually ended up in a seam so you can’t see it. :) I turned the roller on it’s side for the tricky edges and then tried to roll most of the rest of it.

Step 8: Cleanup. After about every 6th or 7th use, I washed the stencil. I brought it directly to my bathtub and scrubbed the paint off with a green 3M scouring pad. GENTLY!! To get the stencil spray off, I coated the back with Goo Gone, scrubbed with the scouring pad, and then rinsed with dish soap. It worked wonderfully! Pat it dry, spray, and stencil again!

If paint did bleed through, I simply wiped off the back of the stencil between uses and then proceeded to use the stencil again. The paint on the stencil dried so quickly that I really didn’t have problems with it getting on the fabric from the stencil. Not even the one time I stenciled with the painted side of the stencil face down. But maybe don’t try that…

Step 9: Iron. Again. Once the paint is completely dry, go over each area with an iron (without steam!)  for about 20 seconds to heat set the paint. I did a test section and none of the paint was coming off, so I didn’t put anything between the fabric and the iron.

On my test swatch, I washed it once the paint was dry without ironing first, and I didn’t notice any paint wearing off. I needed to iron before sewing anyway, but I’m not sure you absolutely have to do this step. If the curtains will get washed often, though, it’s probably a good idea.



On the first panel, I didn’t vary the placement of the stencil and I could tell where it had been placed each time.


I was kind of worried about that, so I tried to vary it a little more on the second one.


This did help with the obvious lines, but it also caused it not to match up as well towards the end. I’m not sure which way I preferred, but now that they’re sewn and hanging, you can’t see any of those problems at all anyway. So I guess it really didn’t matter!

Before I started this project, I was really worried about how I was going to keep it straight! The only measures I really took were lining it up with the left selvage edge the whole way down for the first row, and then just getting it lined up as closely as possible with the parts that were already stenciled. And to my surprise, it turned out really straight!


There was some bleed through…I definitely noticed this more if I got a little heavy with the paint or when I was really being lazy and in a hurry. The method I found to work the best was very little paint + lots of pressure! Test it out first, though. It could be really different if the openings on your stencil are large.


Really, though, from a distance you barely notice the mistakes! Mesmerizing, huh?



Not many pictures of this, because it was very simple. My mom used her serger to create this nice edge, and then we just tucked each side and the top under once, ironed it, and hemmed it. We turned the bottom under twice, and made a 2.5″ hem. Ideally it would have been 3″, but I wanted the curtains to be as long as possible. I think they turned out about 88.5″ long. We were also able to line up each fold with the edge of a pattern! However you do it, make sure the patterns line up from one curtain to the other!


And here’s the finished product hanging in our bedroom! Hung high and wide, of course, to show as much of the window as possible.


I love them! I really think they bring some much needed presence to this poor little window!


I also think they look really cute with our door, but because the colors and pattern are so subtle, don’t take away from it.


And most importantly, they block plenty of light! Oh and the curtain rod? $5 at Salvation Army, brand new, still in the box. Boom.


And look how well the pattern coordinates with our West Elm rice pintuck pillow shams! The pattern is larger scale than they are, but will still be smaller than other patterns we’re hoping to layer into our bedroom, like a rug, a bench at the end of the bed, pillows, etc.


So there you have it. For my first ever stenciling attempt, I call this a success. Next time maybe I won’t put it off so long! Or do so much fabric. It is a lot of work, but it’s really not as scary as it seems once you get started!

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Avie’s 1st Birthday!

Our niece Avelea turned 1 year old on Friday, and on Saturday her parents threw a big party complete with balloons (which she loved!), a mini cake just for her, and lots of gifts.


So far for all of her gifts (showers and Christmas) we’ve bought her clothes, so we didn’t want to get her clothes again (though there will definitely be more clothes in the future!). Recently she’s taken a liking to books, so we decided to buy her some board books, and give them to her along with these bookends that we bought last year at a garage sale.


At first we were thinking new books, but after realizing they were several dollars a piece, we thought maybe we could find some at a thrift store so we could get her more. Lo and behold, one of our Goodwill stores has a large children’s book section and we were able to find an assorted collection of board books. We thought they’d be $1 a piece, but when we checked out they were only 50 cents each! And no worries, we sanitized every single page of every single book!

Then we painted the bookends. We didn’t love the colors of the bookends (too pastel and typical little girl looking for us) so we wanted them to be something that could go in a little girl’s room, but didn’t look quite so baby-ish. We settled on antique white for the outside part, and a grayish purple for the letters.

I originally thought I would spray paint them, and sprayed a few coats of Ivory Krylon on them.


But even after a few coats it was bubbling slightly, so I sanded them (didn’t take much), and decided to pull out the big guns. I sprayed them with a coat of Kilz Original oil-based spray primer.

This stuff is expensive, but it’s amazing! Oil primer is always a good option for coverage, durability, etc, and it’s so nice not to have to worry about clean up, especially with such a small project. After the primer was dry, I sanded again to smooth out the grittiness from the primer.


Then I used a DIY antique white chalk paint and a custom mixed grayish purple chalk paint for the letters. (Remember you can put latex paint over oil-based primer, just not directly over oil paint.) After several coats of chalk paint and 24 hours of dry time, I applied a thin coat of Minwax Paste Finishing Wax with cheese cloth and buffed it. This just provides a little added protection and makes the finish feel smoother and less chalky.


And here’s the finished product along with the books we found.


My sister-in-law posted this picture on Facebook of the bookends and some of the books in Avelea’s room. I think they turned out so cute, but it looks like she might run out of room for books soon! She’s going to be such a smart little girl after all that reading! Well, ok, she’ll at least know all her farm animals and be able to distinguish a red fish from a blue fish. Very important life skills, don’t you think?

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