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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.


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.



Newly Painted Patio Furniture

Newly Painted Patio Furniture

I’ve done SO many projects since moving in, but am not yet at the point where I can stage things and they will look pretty. And let’s be honest, I am not one of those incredible design bloggers who have fabulous photographer friends anyways, so maybe it’s for the best. So you get to look at my pictures like this, which just show you how I actually live, not how I want you to think that I live. Le sigh.

Moving on. I got this awesome patio set on craigslist for $130, which I felt was maybe not a steal, but definitely a good price. And the set is SUPER comfy.  The chairs rock a little, but are stable. So very relaxing.

It was a little rusty and definitely needed a coat of paint to clean it up.

Rusty table

Rusty table

Rusty chairs

Rusty chairs

A little wire brush action, and some Rustoleum spray paint in “Lagoon,” and now I have this lovely set.


Lagoon patio furniture is better than rusty white.

Lagoon patio furniture is better than rusty white.

I didn’t stage it.  I just took some pictures when I was out there enjoying the morning sunshine and looking through cookbooks as I planned menus for the week.

Anyway, quick and dirty post just to show you guys that I am not a total deadbeat and have been doing stuff. I need to get more plants and pretty outdoor accessories, but it’s quickly getting colder so we spend less time outdoors. This will wait until the spring.



PS. My finger hurt SOOOO badly after using that Rustoleum for so long. I like the Krylon easy touch spray.

Gold Leaf Lamp (How to Gold Leaf Awesome)

Gold Leaf Lamp (How to Gold Leaf Awesome)

I have been wanting to gold leaf something for a while. It just always seemed so awesome.

I really love the idea of mixing gold leaf with matte finishes.

This old lamp was FREE because some guy was just cleaning out his garage. I thought it was a garage sale, so I made my boyfriend pull over (he LOVES it when I do that).

This is what the free lamp looked like.

This is what the free lamp looked like.

First, I sprayed it yellow. I always meant to change the lampshade, but never got around to it.

That is, until I decide to gold leaf this thing! Then, I went to Walmart and got this lamp shade for just $13.

This is the lamp after I first sprayed it yellow. Ugly lamp shade, but it was free... so yeah...

This is the lamp after I first sprayed it yellow. Ugly lamp shade, but it was free… so yeah…

I bought the gold leaf kit for around $10 on Amazon. It includes the gold leaf, the adhesive, and also the sealer.

First, I sprayed the lamp a matte white (after taping off the cord and the electrical socket). I love the look of matte finishes with metallics. The contrast is great.

Second, I taped off the stripes that I wanted. I used two different widths of painter’s tape (which is why some stripes are beige and some stripes are blue).

Use tape to mark off the parts you don't want painted.

Use tape to mark off the parts you don’t want painted.

Then, I applied the adhesive lightly with a sponge applicator. Let it dry for about 15 minutes, and start applying the gold leaf. If you miss any spots, it’s OK. You can come back and fill it in by adding more adhesive and more gold leaf.  You basically just put the gold leaf directly on the adhesive and rub it with a brush or your finger to make sure it’s stuck down well.

The lines aren't perfect, but that's OK.

The lines aren’t perfect, but that’s OK.

Finished! The light isn't great, but the lamp came out awesome.

Finished! The light in the photo isn’t great, but the lamp came out awesome.

The stripes are not perfect. Gold leaf is not really a tidy adventure, but from a far, you cannot really see the less-than-perfect parts.

The gold leaf instructions say that you should seal it, but I figure the lamp won’t get man-handled too much, so I skipped that step. If I was doing something that would get more touching, I would definitely seal it.

I love how it all turned out. It only cost me a lamp shade and a gold leaf kit (I have most of the kit left too, so I am like Midas – constantly looking for more things to turn gold).

Gold stripes and matte white finish.

Gold stripes and matte white finish.

What else can I gold leaf?

What else can I gold leaf?

What do you think? Do you guys freaking love gold as much as this girl?

Golden love,


Flower Napkin Rings (Made from Soda Cans?!?!)

Flower Napkin Rings (Made from Soda Cans?!?!)

This is another one of those projects that I have been sitting on because it’s a gift and it took me months to mail.

Some of you may recall another set of napkin rings that I made a while back. They were made from soda cans! I got the idea (and the tutorial) from Crissy’s Crafts. Making the flowers is super easy, then you just spray paint them and attach them to shower curtain rings!

See? Just wrap wire around to attach to shower curtain rings.

The best part of this whole project (aside from being practically free)? Well, I was telling my dad that I was making napkin rings for our dear family friend. He jokingly asked (my dad thinks he’s HILARIOUS) if I was making them out of toilet paper rolls. I got all indignant about him mocking my craft and retorted: “No! Gosh, Dad! I’m making them out of soda cans!!” I said this with a complete deadpan, and didn’t realize the ridiculousness of my retort until my father doubled over laughing at me.

The paint crackled a little because I spray painted in the dead of winter. Don't be like me.

As my father always tells me, “Why have kids if you can’t make fun of them?”

So start saving your soda cans to make napkin rings for all your friends. I guarantee they will be a big hit.



Gold and Brass and Plastic: Thrift Store Scores!

Gold and Brass and Plastic: Thrift Store Scores!

I went to Baltimore a few weekends ago to hang with my BFF. We did some MAJOR thrift store trips, including stopping by an incredible non-profit salvage yard called Second Chance that hires ex-convicts and trains them on how to remove architectural features from buildings facing demolition so that the pieces can be salvaged. It seems like a great program, and they had AMAZING stuff ranging from antique furniture to old wood ovens to giant mantlepieces. If you are in Baltimore or anywhere near, I recommend stopping by. They have 5 or 6 warehouses. FIVE OR SIX WAREHOUSES. You read that right.

It's hard to photograph hallways and stairways. No good angles.

Since I wasn’t looking to install a whole mantleplace in my apartment, I didn’t get anything at Second Chance. However, a few of the many thrift stores we hit up that day (three or four?) had some great stuff.

I have been looked for thrifted owl stuff for ages to no avail. On our second swing through the houseware/chotsky section, BFF found this guy (moral: always go through each section twice). She didn’t see the potential, but I had told her that if she saw ANY owls that I had dibs. It is plastic, about 12 inches tall, and has a wall-hangy thing on the back already. How much? $2.99. Maybe a little steep, but owls are hard to come by.

I know you don't see the potential, but just wait!

Well, first thing I did was spray paint my new friend gold.

After spray paint, before antiquing glaze. Starting to see it, huh?

Then to make it look like, well, an antique, I coated it with Valspar antiquing glaze, making sure to get the glaze into all the little nooks and crannies.

He looks so regal sitting on the wall, at the top of the stairs now, doesn’t he? He needs a name…. Hmm….Suggestions? What about Philbert? Eugene? Ooooh…. I am liking Eugene. I will let it ruminate for a little bit before I make it official, but I am liking Eugene.

Standing guard at the top of the stairs - always vigilant and always welcoming me home!

So now you are probably thinking that the painting below Eugene is a little weird. And you would be right. It’s a little weird. But the frame is awesome. I got the painting for the frame at another Baltimore thriftstore for $8. I almost passed it up, but so glad that I didn’t.

Nice size, lovely patina. Ignore the bizarre painting - you can change that.

I am actually planning to switch out the oil painting with one of my own. Guess what I’m going to paint!? Guess!

AN OWL!!! I’m gonna paint a little owl friend for Eugene and it will be awesome. Boyfriend may have called me the weird girl with lots of owls earlier today. But I only have two now. You haven’t met the other one yet (you will). But two owls does not a “crazy oil lady” make. Just saying.

Didn't need to do anything to this. Perfect as it is.

I got this mirror at the same thrift store as the picture frame. I think the mirror was $20. Which is WAY more than I like spending on thrifted good. But it was awesome. And I knew I would regret it. So I bought it. Super good decision.

Because now, the gold owl and frame, and this brassy mirror all hang at the top of my stairwell, making an interesting statement. Not sure what that statement is yet, but it’s interesting at least. 🙂

I dig it. You may or may not. But that’s OK. I have fun new pieces to talk about, and my new friend, Eugene.

Another shot of my new triptic of thrifted finds.

It’s really hard to get a good photograph in my stairwell. The light is terrible and the angles are impossible. Apologies.

I hope I have inspired you to get thrifting. But just remember, if you find something awesome, you should buy it. Because if you don’t, I will. And then you will see it on my blog all awesomized and you will kick yourself for letting it get away.

You have fair warning. Ready, set, thrift!



I’m Partying Here:

French Country Cottage

Common Ground

Happy Hour Projects

Tater Tots and Jello

Funky Junk Interiors

Be Different, Act Normal

The Tablescaper

Between Naps on the Porch

House of Grace

Coastal Charm

A Diamond in the Stuff

Not Just a Housewife

Type A Decorating

Giggles Glitz and Glam

My Uncommon Slice of Surburbia

Domestically Speaking

Saavy Southern Style

DIY by Design

A Beach Cottage (Though their linky party is a little glitchy today, and poor Mrs. Beach suffered a terrible bug bite. Get well soon!)

No Minimalist Here

Somewhat Simple

The Shabby Creek Cottage

A Vignette

A Vignette

I’m still in finals. This semester has dragged on for six LOOOONG months because Princeton has a weird fall finals schedule.

So I haven’t gotten to finish many of the projects that I want to finish. Therefore, my fans (can I call you fans?) will have to be contented with these pictures from a vignette in my apartment that I did a while ago. I’m a little tired right now so I may not be as witty as usual (can I call myself witty?).

I made the shelf at my parents place a few months ago. I only gave it a light coat of spray paint so that the wood grain would shine through. This isn’t my most exciting or interesting project, but it’s pretty, I think. And the shelf is a nice place to display pretty things, like the yellow picture frame that I got at a yard sale for $2 (and spray painted), plus the pretty thrift glass store bottles.

Making this shelf at my parents was so simple. They were in the middle of a house flipping, so the scrap wood was already there. The saw was set up so that I (or maybe my father) could cut the pieces quickly and easily. The nail gun was there and air compressor already at full pressure. There was wood glue readily available. Everything at hand.

When I do projects, it’s never this simple. Since I don’t have a full assortment of power tools, cutting things is difficult. I cannot leave my sander out and plugged in, and I don’t have piles of scrap wood around. I don’t even have a garage. Just a porch that I cannot do things on in the winter, because it’s too cold. I don’t know where I am going with this… just a comparison I guess.

I will probably change the color in the future. I’m still figuring out my design style. I initially thought it was bright and bold, but as I decorate my first grown-up apartment more and more, the more I am realizing that I have more to realize about what my design style actually is.

That’s enough blogland-introspection for one post, don’t you think? I’m tired. I should go to bed. Or something.

Introspectively yours,


I love me some free stuff…

I love me some free stuff…

Before I start in on the good part (free stuff), I will warn my growing readership (yay!) that I may be playing around with different appearances on this blog for a bit. Trying to spice things up. Thanks for your patience. Any feedback always appreciated.

Onto the free stuff! Who doesn’t love it? A while ago I had some major scores, but have neglected to share them with you. Until now. I’m first going to post all the before pics, and then, show you what I did with them. I can guarantee that for some things, you are going to say: “Rachel, of course that crap was free. It’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.” And then I’m going to BLOW YOUR MIND. Trust. Or at least, I will make you reconsider, even if your mind isn’t entirely blown.

I believe the secret to good free stuff is karma. And being in the right place at the right time (which I am going to attribute to karma). I think you get good free stuff karma if you give stuff away – on craigslist, on the street corner or to your local thrift store. I believe it all comes back to you.

Back to the story: One weekend, boyfriend and I were driving around Princeton and happened upon TWO awesome free find locations. The first was a guy cleaning out his garage. I initially thought he was having a garage sale because the amount of stuff on the curb was impressive, and because the guy was out in his garage. We stopped, and it turned out all the stuff was free. Boyfriend mumbled a little as I loaded all my treasure into his car, because boyfriend, sweet as he is, sometimes doesn’t share my vision. Few truly do.

Anyway, I got this cool silver tray.


I got these weird figurines.


I got this lamp.

You guessed it, also free!

I also got some picture frames that have yet to be dealt with or photographed. Score!

Later that day, we found this magazine rack on a curb. It was super dirty, but I could tell it was a great find. It’s really old, and already had an awesome chippy paint finish.


Dirty, but that’s what soap and water is for, right? This is a picture of the top.

The dirt was free too!

Now see what I did with all this cool stuff:

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Roses, Teal and Brass: How to Personalize A Lamp

Roses, Teal and Brass: How to Personalize A Lamp

Anthropology, eat your heart out.  You would sell the shade for $98. It cost me $2 to make. You would sell the base for, let’s say, a reasonable $118. It cost me $6 at a rummage sale. And, with my lamp shade, I get the pleasure of knowing that I made it.

Roses, Teal and Brass Lamp

This was one of those projects that I didn’t exactly plan out. I was bored one night, trying to figure out a good craft project that I could do while watching a movie. When you spend all day reading and doing econ homework, sometimes (often?) you just need something to watch and  a project that makes you remember that you can use your hands for things other than taking notes and punching dumb numbers into a scientific calculator.

Teal, aqua and white: the three little bears of color.

I find making things with my hands so unbelievably therapeutic. And, there are two benefits from making things with your hands: 1. The therapy part makes you feel better. And 2. You get the cutest little lamp to grace your bedside table for less than $10.

This brings me to my apology for the posting hiatus – school has been crazy busy lately. I managed to find the time to do the project, but not the time to post it. And I am still having broken camera drama. Sigh.

Anyway, Here’s how I did it:

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Wall of Frames

Wall of Frames

Sorry for the posting hiatus (she said to nobody in particular). Things have been very busy at grad school. Who knew?

Anyway, I have a bunch of projects that are about 90% complete, and I kept saying to myself that I would post them when they were finished. But, as my mom loves to tell me: the first 90% of the project takes 90% of the time and the last 10% of a project takes the next 90% of the time. So that’s where I’m at. (And here is where my dad would tell me to never end a sentence with a preposition. Hehe.)

So I figured I would post something that is 90% complete. My old roommate (Jamie, of dog-cake fame) will cringe that I have hung more picture frames without pictures in them, and will also remind me that for over 6 months last year I swore I would find pictures to put in frames that I had hung, but never really did. So Jamie, now is the time to look away.

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Blue Table and Update on Crafting with the Stars

Hey All,

So I thought entry into the Crafting with the Stars competition was by general vote, and it turns out I was wrong. I know – shocking! But alas, on occasion, I am wrong. Please don’t let it shake your confidence in the world too much. Anyway, while there is no voting for initial selection, you can leave a comment on the Sew Dang Cute facebook page about which project is your favorite. Remember, this is my entry.

In the meantime, amuse yourself by looking at this Blue Lagoon table redo that I did (apologies for the poor picture quality):

I got the table on craigslist for $10. It was a little wobbly, and the stain on the top was flaking off but in otherwise good shape. I tightened the bolts that held the legs on, and the wobbling went away. The table originally looked like this, after I had sanded it down some:

After sanding, I primed with Kilz primer, and then sanded lightly again:

Then I spray painted with a paint called Blue Lagoon. It was NOT Krylon spray paint, so my finger hurt from holding down the trigger, and the paint was kind of a drippy mess. I love the color, but I don’t understand why other spray paint companies haven’t gotten on this Krylon spray paint nozzle bandwagon. Actually, Krylon probably patented the spray tip. I guess that is good for them, but bad for those of us who want to be able to use the other colors from other spray paint brands  (I mean, how many pieces of furniture in one apartment can actually be spray painted Krylon’s Ocean Breeze? I know I can paint a LOT that color, but at some point, it’s a little ridic).

After that, I applied antiquing glaze. This picture here distorts the colors, but you can see the antiquing at least. This isn’t the most exciting project I have done, but I needed some side tables, and this one now goes very well in my living room.