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Tag Archives: DIY

Updating Thrift Store or Garage Sale Art

Updating Thrift Store or Garage Sale Art

Sometimes you find some cheap art at a thrift store or a garage sale. It’s alright, but it’s not awesome. Here is what a little bit of paint and a few glasses of wine can do. I got this weird old duck painting at a garage sale for $4. My boyfriend thought I overpaid. . .

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You can take a cute, but ho-hum duck and make it into a bright statement piece.

I painted the frame black with some paint that I had on hand. And I went in with the bright blue and some other vibrant colors to liven it up.  I just used acrylic paints.

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It’s not a masterpiece, but it does help fill in my gallery wall.  And I think the duck is cute. You likely remember that I have a seriously love of bird art. (Here and here.)

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Also, I’ve decided to just accept the fact that my photography skills aren’t great and post the pictures of my projects, as is. If I keep waiting until I get good at photography or have the time to stage perfect photos, I will never post on the blog. (After sitting in front of a computer for 10 or 11 hours a day at work, I can hardly bring myself to open my laptop on the weekends, let alone during the week; so I find I do all these DIY projects but cannot bring myself to share them since it requires sitting at the computer.)

Anyway, I hope you still like my abbreviated posts and real life quick phone photography.

Go find some cheap art and make it awesome.

Love,
Rachel

 

How to Iron Velvet – sorta

OK. I have no pictures for this one, but I have some advice on wrinkles and velvet.

I have this large piece of velvet that’s been sitting around, in a box, folded and super wrinkled. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with this velvet, but it was destined for something good. So when I finally decided what I was going to use it on (coming later), I had to figure out if I could get out the horrible wrinkles.

OK, I lied.  This post has one picture. Here is a picture of a chair I reupholstered with this same velvet (before I knew how to get rid of wrinkles).  IMG_0090

Apparently, one is not really supposed to iron velvet because it will RUIN IT! So here is my PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Every velvet may be different, so you MUST TEST THIS PROCESS ON AN EDGE OR SMALL SCRAP OF VELVET. Do not – do NOT – dive right in on the middle of an expensive piece of velvet – it might get ruined. So always test this.  Got it? Test on a scrap first.

First, I spread the velvet out on the carpet. I wanted to work on a carpet, because it’s softer than an ironing board and would reduce the risk that I would crush the nap of the velvet.

Second, I folded the velvet over on top of itself. The bottom layer was facing up, and the top layer was facing down (good side to good side, nap to nap).  Set the iron on the coolest setting that produces steam. Very lightly – barely putting any pressure on the fabric, run the iron lightly over the BACKSIDE (the side should be facing up) to get the wrinkles out.

Third, turn the velvet right side up. This step is just for problem areas because it could damage the fabric if you are not very careful. Do NOT touch the velvet nap with the iron at all – it will ruin it. Hold the iron just above the surface of the velvet, close enough so that the steam is hitting the nap, but the iron is not touching. After an area is steamed, let cool for a bit so that it’s not going to burn your hands, and then use your hands to smooth the nap and smooth out the wrinkles.

You may have to repeat these steps a few times. The key is patience so you don’t ruin your expensive velvet. But after a few goes, the fabric should be looking much better. Now, when you do your upholstery job, the wrinkles will smooth themselves out with enough stretching and time.

I cannot wait to share my next project with you.

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

DIY Christmas Ornaments

DIY Christmas Ornaments

I’m a little behind the rest of the blogosphere (but that’s nothing new) on Christmas decorations.  But, I made some new Christmas tree ornaments this year to supplement dinosaur Christmas from last year.

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These are super easy to make, and you could still make some this year before Christmas gets here. And you could probably take better pictures than I.

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I rolled out some sculpy to about 1/4 inch thick, cut it into desired shapes with cookie cutters. I made holes in the top to hang the ornaments by using a straw. Bake according to sculpy directions.  Once the ornaments were cooled, I spray painted the sculpy white and then decorated the ornaments with a gold paint pen and sharpies.

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So if you are feeling creative, place an order on amazon prime for sculpy and get out your favorite cookie cutter shapes.  Go to town!


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Merry Dinosaurus Christmas Redux!

Love,

Rachel

How to Make Your Own Menorah!

How to Make Your Own Menorah!

OK, I doubt I am the only Jew who is seriously disappointed by the Hanukah decor market.  I mean, TJ Maxx has had Christmas stuff since before Halloween, and has NOT ONE HANUKAH thing. Never mind that Hanukah is like a whole month earlier than Christmas. But I couldn’t even find some ugly blue and white cupcake liners, let alone a cool menorah (or any menorah for that matter).  Even on the interwebz, the selection of good, modern, interesting Hanukah stuff is really limited. With the exception of Jonathan Adler, who is making some rockin’ menorahs that I seriously cannot afford, the selection of stylish Jew-holiday decor is seriously lacking.

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Whining over.  I made my own menorahs. I found some inspiration on the internets and came up with a pretty cool idea. Some of you may remember Dinosaur Christmas from last year (I’m half Jewish, half Episcopalian). This is along those lines.

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I bought a set of jumbo plastic jungle animals on Amazon. Then, I drilled 9 holes in them, in the places where I would want the candles to go. I used Sculpy to make the little candle-cuppy things. I tried to buy the ones for birthday cakes, but I could not find them. My cuppies  are not very uniform, but they work well-enough and I didn’t have to spend any money because I already had the sculpy.

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Here’s a close up of the little cuppy things stuck into the holes that I drilled. I used some gorilla glue to help the cuppies stay in place.

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Then I spray painted these bad boys. Silver elephant. Gold giraffe. Awesome.

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I am so happy with how these turned out.  But, the candle wax pulls off the paint, so these may only be useful for one year. That’s OK though, because I am sure next year I will have another idea for making some DIY menorahs (and there are three more plastic animals that I haven’t spray painted yet. Gorilla menorah, anybody?).

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There is still time to whip up one of these bad boys before Hanukah this year.  So go get yourself from plastic animals. Do it.

Happy Hanukah!

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