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Category Archives: Furniture

Ikea Hack – Marble Plant Stand

Ikea Hack – Marble Plant Stand

In my new house, I am trying to kill fewer plants. It’s been a challenge, but I would say that my thumb has gone from decidedly black to perhaps brown? At least that is closer to green.

So I have been purchasing house plants with reckless abandon (not an exaggeration) in an attempt to fill my home with life, color, texture, and lovely vessels planted with adorable things. Of course, that meant I needed a new plant stand for ensure my plants received enough light.

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I, like most women of a certain age who blog, love carrara marble. But the kitchen remodel is still a ways off, and even if it wasn’t I’m not certain I would do carrara marble countertops, since they are so high maintenance. I wanted to find a way to incorporate carrara marble into my home in an affordable and easy-to-maintain kind of way.

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Enter the carrara marble plant stand made with 12×12 carrara tiles. I bought an Ikea Marius stool for $5, a Carrara tile for $3 (I think) and used so construction adhesive and gold spray paint I already had on hand to create this:

IKEA Marius hack with Carrara marble.

IKEA Marius hack with Carrara marble.

Ikea Marius Hack - Plant Stand

It was pretty simple to make, but did require a dremmel cutting tool. There was some trial and error based on the way the stool is stabilized by the plastic seat, but I think I figured it out.

First, I assembled the cross leg section.

Second, I cut the plastic seat into a square. The  edges of the seat had been peaking out below the marble, which is obviously not ok. So I taped off where I needed to cut. I tried using s circular saw to cut the plastic but the saw melted the plastic and gummed up my saw and the saw hasn’t worked since. Don’t do this.  Then I tried a saw tool on my dremmel which worked pretty well. The plastic still melted and got gummy on the dremmel bit, but I was able to clean it well when the task was complete. Wear eye protection!!! Little bits of hot plastic will be flying around.

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Third, I attached the plastic seat to the base just like in the instructions.

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Fourth, I spray painted everything gold. Duh! Make sure to get into all the weird angles.

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Fifth, I used construction adhesive to glue my marble tile (make sure it’s centered!) to the top of the plastic seat. To ensure a good bond, i flipped the whole thing over, and stacked some heavy tools on the bottom for about an hour I think (follow manufacturer’s instructions).

Sixth, I styled it up with some cute plants.

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For less than $10 (because I already had paint and adhesive), I made a really cute plant stand that I think looks much more expensive. And my plants get enough light now. Hurrah! IKEA hack for the win!

Has anyone else hacked a Marius?

Love,

Rachel

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Campaign Dresser Nightstands – The good, the bad, and the ugly

Campaign Dresser Nightstands – The good, the bad, and the ugly

I got these campaign dressers ages ago. Actually, my awesome fiance ran around like a crazy person to pick these up, driving to hell and gone, playing an intense game of Tetris to get them to fit into his car. Thanks, babe! I love them.

They were in rough shape to begin with. Here is one, I think it was $35.IMG_0288

Here is the other, that I think was $25.

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Amazingly, these were both listed on craigslist on the same day or one day apart (i can’t remember), by different sellers. They don’t match exactly, but they were the same height and depth, so I figured that was close enough.

Both were a combo of wood and particle board, so I didn’t feel bad painting them.

I wanted to have a super shiny high lacquer finish like this one from Little Green Notebook.  I didn’t follow the instructions she gives properly and had to repaint these three times. They still aren’t perfect, but I finally gave up.

First, I thought I could use a water based paint that claimed to be super high gloss. This paint left INSANE brush marks. Then I went and bought oil paint as recommended, but the brush marks of the previous paint showed through the oil paint. Also, I think I should have waited longer for the crappy water based paint to dry before doing the oil paint. Then I had to apply another coat of the oil based paint to try and get a smoother finish, but by this time, I had spent hours painting and sanding and fixing parts of the drawers, and still wasn’t happy with the finish.

That’s when some unknown person in my building became my worst enemy.

When I was applying the last coat I wanted to apply (EVER), the neighbor in our building watered her plants on her balcony above our patio (without looking) and got water all over my wet oil based paint and ruined the finish.  I may have cried. I was so upset and so tired of working on these dressers. This is when I gave up.

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You can see that the finish is not glass-like. It’s got tons of brush strokes, and then weird marks and wrinkles where the water sat on the wet paint. I said “enough,” let them dry for another few days outside, and eventually brought them inside My job was starting a few days later (this was last August when I had first moved to DC), and I did not have the time necessary to continue stripping and painting these guys.

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And you know what? They look OK once in the room. I may at some point strip them down and repaint them, but for now, this works for me.  Most people don’t even notice the wonky finish. Or at least they are nice enough to lie to me about it. (Thanks, Victor!)

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I took off the handles when I was painting it, but I couldn’t get the corner pieces off without bending them, so I just painted around them. If I do repaint these, I will trying to get the proper tools to get the corners off so I can strip this baby down and start all over again. I used Bar Keepers Friends to polish the brass – it works really well and is super cheap.

I love how the brass and navy look together, and I love the combination of the brass on the campaign dress with the silver on the headboard. And this whole project cost me less than $100 for two custom night stands, so that’s pretty awesome also.

That is all.

Love,
Rachel

DIY Upholstered Greek Key Headboard

DIY Upholstered Greek Key Headboard

When I saw this headboard from Serena and Lily, I knew two things: 1. I had to have it; and 2. I could TOTALLY DIY this bad boy for less than $1650. Way way less.

DIY Greek Key Upholstered Headboard

DIY Greek Key Upholstered Headboard

So I made the bad boy above. That’s right. For about $100.

First, I made the frame out of plywood. I used 3/8 inch plywood. I had the hardware store cut down the plywood sheet to the desired size (I think it was overall four inches wider than my king size mattress).  I attached 2×4’s to the edges of the board to create room to put foam, and also give me a hard surface to put nails into. I wanted a hard edge so I could add the nails, but wanted this headboard to be really soft and cushy and super comfortable. So I had to make enough space for both foam and nails.

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The width of the 2×4’s and the 2×4 squares was just enough to allow me to nail in the Greek Key squares in the corners.

IMG_0705I screwed the 2×4’s into the plywood. Pretty straight forward and simple. (I screwed from the back through the plywood and then into the 2×4’s).

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I used two memory foam egg carton mattress pads to fill in the inner square. I had to trim the corners of the memory to get the memory foam to fit. I used two layers of egg carton memory foam to make sure the frame was completely filled out and that the headboard was super comfy/squishy. I got the memory foam on clearance from Walmart, I believe – I spent like $30 or $40 on all the foam.  Once I had the piece cut into the proper shapes, I sprayed the plywood with spray adhesive (outside) so that the memory foam would fit.

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Then, I covered the whole thing in a layer of batten, stapling around the backside.

Next, I wrapped the whole thing in this gorgeous sea-foam velvet that I bought ages ago. I’m not including this in the price of the headboard since i have had the fabric for over two years. But, we are counting, I think I used about 3 yards of the velvet, which would add about $60 to the overall price.  I stapled the velvet to the backside of the frame, starting in the center of each side and slowly moving towards the edges. I folded the corners carefully, like how you would fold a present.

Then I started adding the nailhead trim. I used one where you simply nail one in five of the nails, not all of them.  Though I usually love gold or brass finishes, I felt like silver was the better color to compliment the sea-foam.

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Each Greek key corner took a lot of time to lay out. Measuring out the distance from the side, getting the spacing perfect. ensuring everything was square took a LOT of trial and error and lots of calculations (and recalculations). The corners were definitely the hardest part of the whole project.

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Eventually I got everything where I wanted it, as you can see in the picture above. Or at least, I got it close enough. One of the corners is not perfectly square, but I finally said, “Enough!” Then i had a glass of wine and stopped worrying about it.

Then four months later I took some pics of the bedroom. Here is one of those:

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And a little vignette, where you cannot see my bed frame that has no bedskirt covering it…

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Price breakdown:

Wood and screws = about $40.

Foam and batten = about $40.

Nailhead = $21

Total (not including fabric I already had) = $101.

Total savings from the original version = $1650 – $101 = $1549!!!! OMG, I’m rich! And accomplished. And modest.

So later, I will post about these dressers. And maybe about the pillows. Both the dressers and the pillows were a DIY.  Get excited…?

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

Greek Key Love,

Rachel

PS. There are big changes a-brewing for Ole Rachel here. Really exciting ones. Coming soon.

Latest Ikea Winners

Latest Ikea Winners

Wowza! Those designers at Ikea are knocking it out of the park lately. Maybe it’s because I haven’t poked around Ikea in a while, but some of their newer stuff (and some of their older things) are just so spot on – both in terms of design and price.

Here are a few things that recently jumped out at me on the Ikea website, and I just wanted to share:

RANARP Wall Lamp: The white, the gold, the flexibility! I just love it. A pair of these bad boys flanking my bed just has to happen. It HAS to.  In the words of Tracy Jordan, I love it so much I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant. And then it would give birth to more baby white and gold lamps = AMAZING.

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RANARP Floor Lamp: Just like its smaller, wall-hanging brother, this lamp has stolen my heart, without stealing my money. I cannot wait till we get to Seattle and I can snatch this (and possibly a pair of its brothers) right up!

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BAROMETER Floor Lamp: Another great floor lamp, slightly more traditional than the RANARP. The nickel-plated finish looks expensive and the counterweight arm is very elegant. I can just imagine myself adjusting that light next to a cozy arm chair, a cup of tea nearby, Dickens in hand. (BTW, All Dickens books can be found for free on Kindle, so I’ve read many of them. If you are looking for a good book, David Copperfield is one of my faves.)

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GUNNERN Pedestal Table: I’m a sucker for anything robin’s egg blue, and this diminutive table, with its lovely legs and round shape just hits all the right buttons.  Would be great in an empty corner with a picture frame and a pretty vase, or next to some occasional seating as a place to put some nibbles.  The website says its not designed for outdoor use, but I suspect a covered porch or patio would also make a nice home for this sweet table.

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PS 2014 Green House: Charming and useful, with this adorable windowsill greenhouse, maybe I could make my black thumb a little greener.  (Editor’s note: I have kept alive both a mint and a basil plant for over two months now, so that’s something!)

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PS 2014 Plant Stand:  This minimalist little plant stand could hold so many plants right near a good light source, also reducing the chance that I will kill them.  Maybe I should invest in some fake plants? (Ooh, I also just remembered that my spider plant is thriving, and even has a baby offshoot going. So plant stand full of spider plants and bamboo it is.)

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SOLRUN Fabric: The water-colored effect in those vibrant colors make this an incredible floral. How great would this fabric be as cushion covers for a built-in dinette, in an otherwise mostly white kitchen?

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Now to get all the details of our big move to Seattle finalized, so I can hit up the Ikea!

Love,

Rachel

Being Happy with Where I Am

Being Happy with Where I Am

January is definitely the month of self-improvement, or at least affirmations of self-improvement. I guess I’ve jumped on the bandwagon. This post will, therefore, be rather self-indulgent and fairly meander-y (because after a long day at work fighting bad guys, the last thing I want to do is write up an outline for a blog post).

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Something that I’ve been struggling with lately is feeling dissatisfied with what my apartment looks like, and letting that make me really depressed.  Yeah, it doesn’t look like a picture out of HGTV. And yeah, it’s a work in progress. And no, I still don’t have art for over the TV.  But what I want to focus on is not what is wrong with my apartment or what I want to change. Rather, I want to focus on what is working and try to find more ways to make moments that are working.

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On step I am taking in this direction is participating in Apartment Therapy’s January Cure.  So far, I am really digging it. It’s a realistic way for me to make progress on getting my apartment in shape, but not in a picture perfect way. Just in a normal people, with normal lives, trying to make their homes a little more beautiful.  After just scrubbing the crap out of my floors and vacuuming behind and underneath furniture I don’t usually move, plus adding fresh flowers, my apartment already feels a million times better. Who’d have thunk?

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Sort of in the vein of being happy with what I’ve done instead of focusing on what I want to do, I am sharing pictures of my bar area. I’m happy with how this “moment” in my apartment looks.  Everything in it was either thrifted, DIY, or is an heirloom.

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My GREAT GRANDMOTHER made that charcoal horse drawing. I’m obsessed. It’s still in the frame I got it in, because I’m scared that if I change the frame, the picture will disintegrate. This came into my life just at a time when I was really wanting more horse art, and the fact that it’s an heirloom (I have only one other real heirlooms), well that was awesome.

I painted the little owl painting, and blogged about it here.

I found the small deer antlers at Brooklyn Flea for $20.

I MADE both the deer and moose taxidermy. It’s papier mache, and I’m pretty stoked with how it came out. I will try to post a tutorial soon.

I got the dresser for $35 on craigslist and the distressing you see is REAL distressing because that’s exactly how the paint chipped just from being old. No faux distressing for me. I’m currently debating repainting it, but part of me loves the original paint finish.

Here’s this area all dolled up for the holidays, with a garland of pom poms and bells that I made (tutorial from A Beautiful Mess). IMG_0519

So I guess what I am trying to say is this: I’m going to be proud of myself when I am awesome, and go easier on myself for things that aren’t perfect. And keep my floors clean. 😉

Happy New Year, my dear readers! I am so glad you are on this journey with me.

Love,

Rachel

Out of my comfort zone: Tomato Red

Out of my comfort zone: Tomato Red

In my decorating, I’ve been sticking to blue, white and yellow. I know my boyfriend likes them, I know they look good together, and they are safe.  I would throw in more pink as often as possible, but that makes the man a little uncomfortable.

Here she is with nothing in her. Next to my insect poster.

Here she is with nothing in her. Next to my insect poster.

So when I started painting this cabinet for the kitchen a light teal color, I thought it would be fine because it was blue-ish and we generally agree on blue. I had rolled on one coat, and was starting on the second coat when he came out. He saw what I was doing and goes, “We’re painting it that color? I thought we were done with that color.”

And with that, we were on the way to the hardware to pick out a new color that we could both agree on. The deal was that I would buy the paint, and if I didn’t like it, he would buy replacement paint and the paint for the next thing that I wanted paint. I could live with that.

I wanted to go with a fuschia. I figured the kitchen was my space and so I would do what I wanted and get away with bright pink. But that apparently was not in the cards. After a lukewarm discussion in the paint aisle (I won’t say it was heated, but it was definitely not room temperature), I selected a bright red – bordering on pink and orange.  As the paint was being mixed, I was getting more and more apprehensive.

Doesn't she look nice with my aqua bowls?

Doesn’t she look nice with my aqua bowls?

I left the hardware store in a sour mood – really questioning this decision. There is nothing red in the apartment. It is not going to go with anything. I pouted the whole way home. But, boyfriend reminded me of the deal, and I sucked it up and tried to get excited.

Then, I thought about the great bedroom makeover from Kristin on the Hunted Interior – the one with the Kate Spade pallet of red, pink, aqua, teal and black.  I loved that room and it had both tomato red and lots of cooler blue tones.  I also thought about the bright red secretary and red drawers from Jenny at Little Green Notebook.  I swallowed my fear and started painting.

FIVE coats of paint later (ladies and gentlemen, buy the best quality paint you can when going dark. I didn’t even buy the cheapest and it still took FIVE coats to get the coverage I wanted), and I was in L-O-V-E. The color was soooo good. And sooooo bright. And so unlike things I’ve done before. Breaking my mold felt so good. I was finally liberated from my self built prison of white, blue and yellow. Finally, I was free to mix colors with reckless abandon (OK, maybe with just *more* abandon than I previously had done).

It’s funny, because in college and even when I was younger, I used to decorate with whatever pleased me. Things were usually super saturated bright colors and jewel tones, and everything generally went well together, even if it wasn’t exactly stylish. Somewhere along the line, I stopped just buying and selecting things I liked, but started selecting the things that I thought I should use. The result: I was fairly unsatisfied with my apartment – it felt pretty, but not very me.

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This kitchen cabinet is the start of something new. While I will still have to compromise to get the boyfriend to go along with whatever I am feeling, I have learned that following my gut instinct has the best results. While I was busy trying to please others, I wasn’t pleasing my boyfriend’s design tastes nor my own. Go figure.

We love the red. It’s fun and different and the start of a new era.

What do you think? What have you done decorating-wise that made you uncomfortable but turned out great?

Love,

Rachel

Lipstick-on-a-pig dresser

Lipstick-on-a-pig dresser

There comes a time in life when you move in with your boyfriend. And you HATE his furniture. It’s black laminate crap from Walmart. A whole set of black laminate crap.

You spend days and weeks dreaming of the perfect mid-century modern dressers, or reclaimed wood pieces. And then you realize that you already spent all of your signing bonus on moving, movers, a new couch and a trip to the Dominican Republic. So, this is not really a sob story (because all those things were pretty awesome), but it is a story about me spending money in some places and then not having money for new dressers. (And yes, I looked at local thrift stores and craigslist. Duh. DC thrift stores and craigslist both kinda suck when compared with NYC and Princeton thrift stores.)

Ugly crappy black laminate furniture that does not jive with my decor tastes.

Ugly crappy black laminate furniture that does not jive with my decor tastes. This is what it looked like about 3 days after moving in. Excuse the mess. Or don’t. Whatever.

So you come back to reality and you kindly let your boyfriend move his ugly furniture into the apartment, and then when he turns his back YOU BUST OUT THE SPRAY PAINT AND MAKE THAT SH*T SO MUCH BETTER! (“Sorry, sweetie… Uh… I went to the store and when I came back it was just painted and had new hardware. I have no idea what happened!”)

And, like last post, there is no fancy staging or anything because the rest of the apartment is still coming together slowly. And I don’t want any readers out there to feel bad about themselves when they see all the awesomeness in my apartment, and stuff… er…uh… Yeah. That sounds good.

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So I sanded it lightly, used some Kilz primer (the good stuff), and then gave it three coats of white satin spray paint. Then I switched out the hardware from those ugly steel pull thingies to these brass Martha Stewart cup pulls. At $1.98 a piece, they are affordable AND stylish. Oh, and they are gold colored, which obviously my boyfriend LOVES, just like he loves all my paper mache taxidermy (oh yeah, get excited because that’s coming soon).

Ahhh... That's better...

Ahhh… That’s better…

The only problem with painting it white is that now the poor quality materials shows (like the fact that the spaces between teh drawers are not all even).

Regardless, I am very happy with the transformation. And I put the dresser on casters, so now I can roll it around easily and stuff.

The dresser won’t last that long, since it’s poorly made crap, but this pig looks SO much better with just a little white and gold lipstick. Until I can get some new stuff or have a major thrift store score, this will work just fine.

Love,

Rachel