Posts filed under ‘Projects’
And here’s a mood board showing how the living room will come together once it’s all complete.
It’s a mix of American navy meets world traveler. I guess that’s the only way I can describe it. Funny enough, that’s actually the look we were working into. Nick just brought back that vintage Russian naval flag from his trip to St. Petersburg, and we got the model ship a few weeks ago at a favorite consignment store. If you can believe it, it all started with the vintage plaid wool blanket (on the lower left). I found it at the Brooklyn flea several months ago, and decided that it should be the basis of the new living room design. It coordinated perfectly with the Indian wool patchwork Kantha I’ve had for several years, an old purchase from Anthropologie. Then this morning, as I was digging through some old inspiration imagery, I found the image below. (Not sure who to credit it to. It’s been sitting on my hard drive for several years now. So let me know in the comments if you know where it came from.)
It’s maybe a little more Ralph Lauren than I would normally ascribe to our aesthetic, but it has elements here that I realize we’ve incorporated into our decorating over the years. Such as the antlers.
Anyways…have a great day! I’m so glad to finally have settled on a fabric. Now I can see the whole plan coming together at last.
I’ve always wanted to learn how to re-upholster furniture. It all started with a sofa that we had when I was a kid that was super(!) comfy, but so ugly you wouldn’t believe. (As a side note, she tried reupholstering it years later and actually managed to make it even uglier. It was later relegated to being the “dog sofa,” and just thinking about it makes me sad.) Nevertheless, an obsession with upholstery was born!
Flash forward 25+ years, and you find the adult Leah learning how to do just that thanks to 3rd Ward in Williamsburg. This is my first project:
I found this mid-century beauty on the street in Philadelphia about 5 years ago tossed out with someone’s garbage. It was perfect except for a big rip in the seat, and so I towed it home with me. I knew that one day I’d redo that vinyl upholstery with something better. Like they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
So starting on Saturday, I began the process of deconstruction. This is what it looked like after I got the back panel off. The back was basically a piece of cardboard covered with vinyl tacked on with upholstery tacks.
Then I took off the bottom panel. There were several layers of fabric to get through here funny enough, and one of the great things I found inside was a stamp dating the chair to Oct 1959. (Pretty cool!) The springs are serious heavy duty with metal attachments like the kind you have in a mattress…not the normal 8-way hand-tied springs in most upholstery. (This chair is meant to last forever!)
So this is the chair fully deconstructed. The legs & arms were attached via two bolts and six flat-head screws. Less than what I would have thought, but very easy to disassemble once the fabric was off and the frame was exposed. (The frame is oak I believe by the way which is also interesting…for those other furniture nerds out there.) The seat springs were covered with a horsehair “cushion” for lack of a better word (which I plan to re-use since it’s perfectly fine…but I will be augmenting it with new foam and batting). I did keep all the cotton batting too “just in case.” Also, I plan on re-finishing the arms/legs since the old polyurethane is worn off and looking ratty.
Now the big question is what do I put on it? I’m debating between several at the moment. I love those thick wool fabrics in both solid colors and blanket squares too. Then I’ve found a couple more that are interesting, but nothing concrete yet. Any suggestions? Someone suggested leather…but possibly too difficult for my first round of upholstery. (?!?)
p.s. if you haven’t looked into 3rd ward, i highly suggest it. They have awesome classes on almost everything.
It’s wonderful being surrounded by creativity each day. And I can truly say that one of my favorite creative / talented individuals is my friend Nishat Akhtar. In the process of trying to work on my own wedding invitations, I love stopping by to see what Nishat is up to…and this little something just made me smile so much that I felt compelled to share it with the rest of you.
She created this daily love note box for her newlywed friends. It was inspired by old slide & specimen containers. The box contains 365 tiny envelopes, each containing a note about love, excitement, or adventure, one for every day for their first year of marriage! How amazing is that?! I absolutely love it. How much would you love to have one of these for yourself?
See more about Nishat and her talent here.
As I mentioned previously, it’s been almost a year since we first started the bannister scraping process. We got seriously discouraged after using Peel Away because although it did help remove the paint, it also created a bigger mess/hassle than it was worth. A goopy slurry (as we called it) ended up on the floor and lots of other places too. And at the end of the day, the scraping process was kind of becoming a smearing process. Ugh. Yuck.
So after our long winter hiatus, we tackled it again…with nothing more than a little elbow grease this time. And I’m proud to say that it turns out that just a plain ole scraper + some muscle was the best combination for quickly removing the paint.
Our main tool of choice was the one shown in the first photo. It was really able to get the majority of the paint off and done really quickly. The second spackle knife (second photo) was smaller and better at detail work in the curvy parts. Now we’ve basically gotten the entire bannister railing paint free. We just need to sand it down and polyurethane it. (I’m considering using tung oil on it since it worked so well for my kitchen floors. Not sure yet which way to go on this one.)
Anyways…that’s the update. I felt compelled to give a final analysis of it. My friend Marisa also swears by the heat gun, which I’ve not used before…but may consider borrowing next time I have a lot of surface area of paint to remove.
Once we get the whole thing sanded down and finished, I’ll post final pics.
Well, I had no idea that my little window upgrade could also save me some bucks come tax time!! According to this Forbes magazine article, there are a number of improvements you can make to your home to improve energy efficiency that will save money come tax time. Oh…and of course, they’ll save money on your bills too!!
So clearly, many of the things on this list most of us won’t be able to do such as install a wind turbine in our backyard. However, I was extremely pleased to find out that with the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 increased the credit from $200 to $500 for upgrading your old windows to new energy efficient ones. Now if only that $500 tax credit could be put towards installing a new geothermal heating system… I’d love to not have to pay so much money to the gas company each month!
Thanks to Charles & Hudson for pointing out the article! I was planning on starting my taxes tonight!
After my semi-breakdown last evening, I went to work today and had a co-worker send me an instant message telling me that she hears I’m a “home renovator extraordinaire.” She said that if I had a minute or two, she’d love for me to come to her desk so that I could give her some home decorating advice.
Hmmm….well, first of all I was flattered that someone that I work with (and doesn’t read this blog) gives me credit for such a thing. Second, I went down to speak with her and it turns out that she’s considering buying a house in my neighborhood and it’s a handyman’s special (to say the least). After looking at the pictures of her potential project, it gave me A LOT of perspective on my own house as well as my own bellyaching. I realized that I didn’t have it that bad after all and should probably zip my lip [on the complaining tip]. Anyways, it felt great to be able to chat with her (a first time homeowner) and give her some thoughts on what she was getting herself into, etc. It reminded me of my freelance gig, and how natural it felt to be helping someone out with these types of questions.
Also, thanks for everyone’s comments giving me moral support. You know, it’s odd…there are support groups for new mothers, support groups for dieting, and support groups for alcoholics, but there are no support groups for people who are trying to learn how to renovate their old houses! It seems like a good idea, right?!
Oh…and seeing as how I never posted the pics of my closet mini-facelift, I’ll go ahead and post them now. (more…)
One of the reasons I wanted to move to a house that needed work was to teach myself some lessons. (Crazy, right?) Well, yesterday I definitely learned a couple. I like to think of myself as a very smart and capable person, therefore it was with great enthusiasm and energy that I decided to install new living room windows ourselves. Nick and I enlisted the help of our neighbor, and with great gusto we started off taking out the old window sashes, weights, etc. We filled in the holes, scraped the old caulk and unwrapped the first window only to find out…
The windows were wrong. Three special order Andersen all wood, colonial-style windows. It was a frustrating moment to say the least. Let me be honest…I almost burst into instantaneous tears. I had two giant holes in the FRONT of my house and I’d only just realized that the three special order windows I’d waited a month for were wrong. What exactly was wrong with them you ask? Well, not only were the windows that I’d ordered NOT actually replacement windows (these were for NEW construction), but one of them was one inch too wide. UGH. I wanted to scream. The only way I’d even considered buying these windows was because Home Depot was having a sale on them (it’s basically something that never happens on Andersen windows), and I’d also opened the Home Depot card so that I could save another 10%.
Well, after some serious back and forth on the phone with the sales person at Home Depot, we arranged that I’d bring the windows back and re-order the correct ones. I’d have to wait for the windows again, but they agreed to waive the 15% re-stocking fee. They wouldn’t budge on giving me the sale price though. So now my new windows (that I could barely afford the first time) were going to be FULL PRICE. I felt frustrated and like a TOTAL idiot. After all, I could have saved myself all this trouble and expense if I’d double checked my order with the window sizes again when I got home. I should have also someone experienced with this type of thing to the store with me in the first place, and I would have gotten the correct type of windows.
One other important thing I learned yesterday was about being a good neighbor. Our neighbor agreed to help us install the windows and unfortunately got a lot more than he bargained for. He spent all day long with us going above and beyond to help me get things straightened out. We had to re-install the old windows, take the new windows back to Home Depot, and sit and deal with the frustrating salespeople to get the correct windows re-ordered. At the end of the day I was frustrated and felt like an idiot… BUT I’d also never felt so grateful and happy to have moved to this particular block. My old ‘hood definitely didn’t have neighbors like this. Someone who helped out even when it wasn’t convenient. I was reminded how each of us is called to be a good neighbor. I can only hope that I prove to be just as kind and generous to him (and whomever else) someday. Life calls us to be kind to each other. The world is a much better place when we help each other out.
Big lessons for today:
- Enlist the advice of someone experienced.
- Double check your order.
- Review the new product before ripping old things apart.
- Be thankful for your neighbors…and be kind, generous to them. You never know when you’ll completely turn around their day for good.
So these days I haven’t had much time for posting on ye olde blogge because I’ve been spending so much time [pardon me for this] obsessing on the house. One of the the things you always hear is to not start a NEW project without finishing the old one, however I don’t seem to bother listening to people’s advice because I’ve got at least four projects in progress at the moment. I thought I’d catch everyone up on what I’ve been up to these days.
My pal Shauna taught me how to sew a slipcover.
I’m actually EXTREMELY proud of it because I’ve owned this stained Ikea ottoman for years, but hated anyone to see it because it was…well…stained. So I re-purposed fabric from an old duvet, and now I have a SWEET little slipcover. (Plus extra fabric left over.) Total cost = $0.
I also antiqued a HUGE mirror for my dining room. I purchased this mirror about 10 years ago from Costco for $200. It’s a 3.5′ x 5′ mirror that’s great…except for it’s crappy gold painted frame. So here’s a photo of the in-process antique-ing process. Nice afternoon project and the mirror now looks fabulous. Sorry for no complete after photo, but it’s hard to photograph it now because the dining room is in progress.
And today while the rain poured down, I painted…and painted…the dining room. Here’s a sneak peak of the work in progress.
I won’t show any more than that at the moment, but trust me when I say that it’s looking good… And for those of you who knew me in real life, yes…this is the same Orla Kiely wallpaper from my last house. I loved it so much that I decided to use it again. I’m creature of habit. Haha.