Corner Chair

Meet the chair in the corner of my office:

I kind of love the lines of the back, but that gray vinyl was not doing this chair any favors. So yesterday I decided to recover the poor thing. Wait, that’s a lie. I actually decided to recover this chair when I bought it over six years ago for $75 at a flea market with three of it’s friends and the wooden table that now poses as additional counterspace in the kitchen (and I would like to keep this sentence going as long as possible). Since then, I’ve sold two of the chairs, and the fourth is in a basement somewhere. I think. BUT. This little guy was hanging out in my office and in need of a makeover.

I didn’t want errands or money to be involved in this spur-of-the-moment, after work project. Luckily, I have a bin of fabric in the craft closet because doesn’t everybody? 

How about this one?

No. How about this one?

No. Wait, maybe. It’s reversible!


So I set about removing the staples in the gray vinyl. All 52 of them. And surprise! There’s another horrid seat cover under that one.

I then removed 55 more staples to discover, YEP, another awful seat cover under that one.

I suddenly realize I’m dealing with the Russian matryoshka doll of chairs here. I start to get really worried about what is under this layer. And then really excited. What if it’s a treasure map! Will Nicholas Cage help me!? Will he even take my call?!?

After 49 more staples, it turned out to be just a nice, clean cushion. I must have sold the one with the map. Those lucky unsuspecting Craigslisters!

The cushion was stapled nicely around the edge and didn’t smell bad or anything. Yes, I checked. Since I didn’t really go into this project with any upholstery foam lying around, I thought it best to use it as is. My original half-formed plan was to triple up on batting; this was way better. I then just cut some batting and fabric, lay the naked seat upside down on top, and started stapling everything to the bottom of the seat. After a few staples to secure the batting and fabric, I cut away the extra. Then I stapled and stapled and stapled. Staple guns are super fun, by the way. I totally get the staple overkill. I did it myself.



Basement Before & Not Quite After

Behold the basement back in November, emptied of furniture. (But not the heavy TV because it was too big and heavy for me to get it out. I’m pretty strong. This thing was ridiculous. I listed it on Freecycle and Craigslist and no one wanted it. I can’t blame them. I eventually had to pay Arlington County $20 to recycle it. I can recycle paint for free but must pay for heavy annoying TVs. Ok. Fair enough, GOVERNMENT.)

I knew I was pulling up the carpet because it was destroyed by the Bad Cat. I had already ripped it out in the hallway leading to this room. So I used the carpet as a drop cloth for weeks, painting the shelves in the wall unit and  the seven closet doors.  I have no saw horses or a place to store saw horses, so I used cardboard boxes. It was SO NICE not worrying about drips. I also spray painted two thrift store lamps in Rustoleum’s Key Lime, after cleaning them and giving them a rough sand. I sanded outside but painted inside because logic.

**Probably don’t spray paint in your house. Especially in a room with only one very small window.

But again, it was nice getting spray paint all over the carpet like a gangster. PROTIP: Tape plastic bags around the cord.  Stuff the bit where the lightbulb goes with paper towels and tape over that. Tape around the off/on switch. And spray everything else, lots of light coats.

I did fashion cardboard box walls to protect my freshly painted actual walls. I’m not a savage.

This was the ugly builder-grade drop ceiling.

And now this is the ceiling after installing cool new tiles that fit right under the original ones.

It cost less than $300 to do the whole room, and Ceilume was great, both product and customer-service wise. I originally called for a sample because I wanted to feel the weight difference between the cheapest ones and the more expensive ones. I expected something the size of a paint chip, but they sent me actual 2′ x 4′ tiles as a free sample — one of each. (You can see them in the ‘ugly’ version above.) I was able to install them and decide which I preferred. (I went with the cheaper version because I knew I was leaving the original foamy tiles up, but there is definitely a difference in quality.) They do have a 25 panel minimum for orders, but I only needed one of the translucent tiles where the light should shine through. I called and they sent that one along as a free sample, even though I offered to pay for it. Installation only took me a few hours, mainly because I had to cut so many of them. They look great, and completely updated the room. I cannot say enough good about this company. (They have no idea that I am typing this on the internet. I just really recommend them.)

Also, the bookcases got some paint, the window got some fabric, and here we are in April.

Still a huge mess, but coming together.

Wedding Decorations for Almost Free

For those of you playing along at home, the Great Sewing Machine Disaster was solved. A lovely lady from my office let me borrow her sewing machine to complete the wedding bunting in time and the day was saved and happily ever after was lived.

I finished the bunting the weekend before the wedding, which left me about five days to figure out centerpieces. I already knew I wanted to do candles and flowers in mason jars and tin cans. Very backyard wedding. And very cheap. I bought a bunch of candles at Ikea for under $20. Two hundred tea lights, and about thirty votives. I had some white ribbon left over and a random yard or two of burlap. I had pasta-sauce type jars and mason jars and on standby in Florida already, and just needed some cans.

My condo complex has a row of like twenty industrial trash can sized recycling bins (half paper, half ‘commingled recyclables’) that are always overflowing on Tuesdays because they are emptied on Wednesdays. I went out on Tuesday to gather my goods and learned that my neighbors are super fancy people that do not eat canned food. They drink wine, they drink fancy bottled beers, they drink un-fancy canned beer, and they eat food that comes in jars. But they clearly prefer Whole Foods and farmer’s markets for their vegetables. And they have certainly never heard of Chef Boyardee. I found only four cans, all beans, all together, from someone clearly making a giant batch of chili. Even the tomato sauce I found next to them came in a jar. I actually had to go purchase the cheapest canned veggies I could find and throw them out. It felt terrible. I should have planned ahead. That cost just under $20 but could be free if you are smarter than me.

I used a hammer and nail to punch little starlight holes in half of the cans, to make twinkling tea light holders. And I glued burlap to the rest and tied ribbon around them to make vases. I put sand in half the jars with votives to make more candleholders, and used the other jars as more vases. For flowers, I sent my darling son and husband 80 miles away (one-way) to the nearest Trader Joe’s with two 5-gallon buckets half full of water. They came back with SO MANY FLOWERS for about $85. I pulled all the bouquets apart and filled my little centerpiece vases and still had enough flowers left over to make a calla lily and tulip bouquet for the darling bride, smaller calla and lily bouquets for her ladies, flowers to pin on the gentlemen, and three more large bouquets for the cake table, the guest book table, and the bar. For $85, yo. I’m pretty sure I spent $85 for my bridal bouquet alone because I am an idiot. Newsflash: Wedding flowers don’t have to be expensive. Trader Joe’s ALL DAY.

It all turned out beautiful.