Reupholstered Chairs

This past summer I worked on a dining room chair reupholstery job for my relatives. I love the contrast between the simple clean lines of the fabric and the graceful antique chair. Having contrasts is one of the best ways to liven up a space. If everything is too matchy-matchy and coordinates seamlessly, then the room looks flat and sterile, i.e. booooring.

Upholstering the seat of a dining chair is the easiest type of upholstery that one can DIY. This is my favourite Youtube video on how to re-upholster a chair. There are also a countless number of tutorials out there. I read a few to figure out the best technique.

The obligatory before and after picture.

Dining room chairs

I’m a nut for stripe patterns. If I allowed myself, I’d have striped everything.

We acuired a teak lounge chair back in September. It was on sale at Sugar Barrel Antiques on Main St. so we snatched it up. Unfortunately, the cushions were friggin’ ugly, and the fabric was worn through and ripped on parts of the the seat.

teak chair - before

I wasn’t confident enough to take on the reupholstery project myself. So I paid someone a lot of money to do it for me. It took almost a month to get them back because they were super busy. Hence the reason why this blog post is long overdue.

vintage teak lounge chair

Unfortunately, I’m not quite happy with the results. It was the first time I ever had anything professionally upholstered so I didn’t give specific directions. What I really wanted were boxy cushions, but of course, to my great irritation, the person couldn’t simply read my mind. Anyway, I think in the future I may try to reupholster the cushions myself.

teak lounge armchair - after

It’s a beautiful chair. I agonized over whether to get it or not. But it was such a good price that I couldn’t pass it up. It’s only going to go up in value because there’s only so much midcentury modern furniture in the world and everyone wants a piece of the action it seems. SBA is a great source of MCM furniture and accessories in Vancouver. All their MCM stuff is in the basement, and I go weak in the knees looking at their vast collection every time I go.

We recently acquired a pair of vintage armchairs (from Attic Treasures on the The Drive), and I can’t wait to show them off here. But first we need to get rid of the loveseat (the last piece of ugly furniture we own) before they can take their proper place. Our living room is an unholy mess right now.

Hacking a Sunburst Mirror

Earlier in the summer I found a dusty old sunburst clock at an estate sale. I grabbed it so that I could transform it to the sunburst mirror I always wanted. It was the best $2 I ever spent at an estate sale.

Here’s the original sunburst clock.

I couldn’t wait to take off the ugly clock face. But when I dismantled it I ran into a couple problems.

Originally I thought I was going take off the hands of the clock and the little knob that holds them and simply glue a mirror on top of the clock face. But when I unscrewed the hands, the clock and the battery pack behind it all came loose as well. This called for a Plan B. How was I going to glue the mirror onto the space where the clock used to be? Additionally, how was I going to hang up this thing since the hook for hanging the clock was attached to the battery pack?

For the mirror solution, I first cut a few pieces of craft foam into circles. I ended up only needing to glue two of them together to fill in the space in the centre.

For the hanging solution, I used some picture hanging wire I had on hand and tied it to the back like so.

Then I glued on top of the foam circles the mirror I hacked together using a 7 in. round mirror and a 7 in. wooden embroidery hoop that I painted gold. And voila!

sunburst mirror

It’s everything I hoped it would be.

There are lots of instructions out there for how to make a sunburst mirror from scratch. This one and this one are two pretty good tutorials.

DIY sunburst mirror

This sunburst mirror has one little imperfection. Bonus points to the first one who can point it out.

Painting Without Tape

The thing I hate the most about painting is the prep work. I absolutely hate taping the edges of a room. It’s the painting I love to do. The Dude is the opposite. He doesn’t mind taping, but he hates painting. How could you hate the most fun part?! So I make him do all the taping.

Anyway, I searched on youtube for painting without tape methods and found the “cutting a paint line” technique. I looked at several videos and turns out there are slight variations for this particular method. This was the one I liked the best:

I used this method to paint the bedroom, and it has revolutionized the way I paint. After a few tries, I got the hang of it. Vibrating the brush a bit while I cut a line seemed to work best for me. I also held my breath when I first began, but after a while I could cut a line while breathing normally.

Also, the secret to cutting a straight paint line is to use a damn good paintbrush that’s angled. I splurged on a good one by Purdy that’s 2 inches wide. And it’s crucial to load the brush with the right amount of paint or you’ll end up with a mess.

Using tape has it downsides: it’s wasteful, it’s a pain in the ass to put up and take down, and the paint usually bleeds through. Drawing a paint line by hand is a win-win…except for when you mess up. But paint is easy to clean up when it’s wet. So just wipe off and start again.

Posted in DIY

Very little has been accomplished in the way of home decorating because things have been so hectic lately. But I did manage to make a terrarium finally. They’re still all the rage it seems.

Terrariums are super easy to make, especially when using succulents. Plus, they require very little care and maintenance. For the one above I just lined the bottom with some river rocks, then placed a layer of charcoal, and topped that with some cactus soil. Lastly, I inserted a jade plant, and voilà, a terrarium! So easy, so fast. So I wonder why it took me months to get to this project.

What’s been keeping me busy lately is my new volunteer gig. Last month I agreed to become the editor of my church newsletter. My first issue comes out this weekend. It’s been a fun project, but I’m glad I only have to put out four issues a year because it’s time-consuming work.

And time is something I’m sorely lacking these days. I’m putting in more time into running my shop. It’s been encouraging to see sales steadily grow. And I hope to expand the products I offer.

But running a business, I’m learning, results in working seven days a week. I realized recently that I don’t have a single day off. Since I also have a part-time job at Granville Island, I end up working on the days I could potentially have off. So it’s no surprise that I had a mini-breakdown last weekend due to sheer exhaustion. Somehow I need to figure out a way to carve out time off. But my workaholic self doesn’t know how to relax. The only way I can do nothing is if I’m away from home and have no choice but to relax.

Starting tomorrow I’ll have two weeks off to do anything but work as we’ll be traveling down to Argentina and then up to Massachusetts visiting our families. I’m going to relish every minute that I get to relax and have fun.

Remember the sad empty wall I was crying about?

Allow me to remind you:

The Dude and I finally got around to putting up the troublesome wall shelves. And voila!

Initially, we put up three vertical rails, but decided to take the middle one out. It was unnecessary. Plus, because the wall is not even, the shelves were not flush against the wall, and taking out the middle rail solved that problem. It’s weird how walls can be uneven because they look deceptively straight to the naked eye. The cedar boards are just resting on the brackets. Don’t want to bother attaching them together. Crossing my fingers that it won’t be a problem.

If I had all the space my heart desired, this is not how I would curate the stuff on the shelves. But the shelves were mounted so that I’d have more space to store all the thrifted objects that I’m selling in the shop, and they don’t necessarily mesh very well colour- and style-wise. Anyway, the items on display will be in constant rotation as things come and go so I’m not going to worry too much about it all looking pretty and shit.

The shelves are holding a few personal items as well, one of which is the cat picture, a recent thrift shop find. It’s a print from the “Sam” the cat series that Andy Warhol did, and I love it. The Dude thinks it looks weird, but I don’t care.

More wall shelves are slated for the future, which means another trip to Home Depot(s). The plan is to fill the red wall with similar shelving. The landlord is sure going to have a lot of fun spackling all the holes we’ve drilled into the walls once we move out.

I’m learning how to use a sewing machine. Actually, I’m re-learning. I first learned in middle school home ec class, and then shortly thereafter lost all my sewing skills. Looking back I can’t believe I made all those projects when I was a little teeny-bopper, like cushions, bags, and shorts! I made a pair of shorts! They were constructed out of flannel fabric because grungy fashion was all the rage back then. I have no idea how to make shorts now…very sad.

Well, I recently made a garland as my first sewing project. I cut a gazillion little felt circles (by hand) and then sewed them together very badly (who knew that sewing straight is very hard?). I put them up as decoration for our New Year’s Day open house that we just hosted. Fortunately, they were hanging high up enough so that you couldn’t really see all the mistakes.

Maybe one day when I’ve practiced enough I’ll be able to sew up some shorts again.

Posted in DIY

After seeing this project and this project, I was inspired to make a plumping pipe desk in the same style.

First, I found a table at the Salvation Army that I liked. And I took off its ugly legs.

Then I went to Home Depot to get the following supplies to make new legs:

6 – 1/2″ x 24″ black plumping pipes
4 – 1/2″ x 3″ black pipe nipples
4 – 1/2″ diameter black tees
8 – 1/2″ diameter black floor flanges
round felt guards

Before joining all the pipes I washed them with dish soap and water to get the grease off.

I joined one 24″ pipe to one end of the tee and then screwed in the pipe nipple to the other end of the tee. Did this 4 times for the 4 legs. Then the remaining two 24″ pipes were used to make the crossbar, so you end up with a pair of legs like this:

Next I screwed in the floor flanges to the top of the nipples so that the legs could be attached to the underside of the table like this:

To make sure the legs were going to be attached right I outlined the four holes in the flange on the desk with black marker and drilled pilot holes for the screws that were going to go through the flange holes. I screwed up a bit at this part in that I didn’t care to align the flange in such a way so that the crossbar wouldn’t be in the way when I used the power drill to screw in the screws. Hence I had to redo the pilot holes in order that they wouldn’t be right underneath the crossbar. By the way, the screws I used were the ones that were used to hold the former legs.

Then I attached the rest of the floor flanges to make the feet and stuck some felt pads on them to prevent them from scratching the floor. And, voila, my dream desk!

The Dude, of course, helped me with this project. A hiccup we experienced in the project was that the pipe nipples we originally got were too long (4″ nipples) and had to be replaced with shorter ones (3″ nipples) so that the desk wouldn’t be too tall. The desk ended up being just short of 30″ high, which is the standard desk height. Really, it’s good to measure twice. Overall, this was a very simple DIY project.

Last thing to do is figure out a way to hide all the wires and cables. Can’t stand them.

Yay, my Easter Tree is finally done! Just in time. These eggs were addictive to make. Easy, quick knit, just the way I like it.

diy chalkboard

I’ve been seeing chalkboards all over the design blogosphere and am totally in love with them. So I decided to make one of my own! I got a picture with a frame I liked from the thrift shop where I volunteer. Then, I took it apart, removing the picture and the glass. The picture I set aside to give to a fellow volunteer who wanted it, and I painted the glass with a coat of primer (used Painter’s Touch grey primer spray paint). Then I sprayed a few coats of black chalkboard spray paint. And voila! A beautiful chalkboard on which to write inspiring quotes or silly messages. Love, love, love it!

diy chalkboard


DIY garland

I was looking to do an instant gratification DIY project and so I made a paper flag garland. Now one of our bare walls is finally decorated. The great thing about these garlands is that you can change them up with the seasons. During the holidays I had a snowflake paper doily garland up.

This garland is super easy to make. Cut out a triangle template. Trace it on scrap paper you may have lying around. Cut out a bunch of triangles. Punch two tiny holes at the top two corners of each triangle. Run a string through them and voila, a cute paper garland!

It’s hard to resist to make more of these garlands and put them up everywhere: hanging from doorways, across a mirror, the wall in front of my desk, across a window or shelf, etc.

And I also recently finished another DIY project to occupy another bare wall. Can’t wait to show it off!