Friday, September 24, 2010

Life events and candelabra

Ok, all you dudes and dudettes out there! We've had a very interesting couple of weeks around here. I'll give you a brief run-down of the events that have caused me to be missing in action (more than normal :)).

First my husband got laid off a couple of weeks ago, effective immediately. Oops, there went our income... After the initial chock we decided not to freak out but trust our God to take care of us no matter what the circumstances looked like. My husband upped the job search intensity (he's been looking for something else for a couple of years but nothing ever came of it) but other than that we walked in faith.

Through some miraculous events and contacts made some 20 years ago he had an interview a week after he got laid off, everything clicked and he was asked to start the following Monday :) And this wasn't any ho-hum job either. This is his dream job at a dream company in his field, something he's been trying to land for years and not succeeded. It's a very tight-knit field and you can basically only get in on contacts no matter how qualified your are.

So we feel like we just won the lottery (minus the money :) but the money's really not the important thing for us, there are definite possibilities for the future with this job though).  But he's been working hard for not a lot of appreciation for years and now he's at a company that pampers their employees in a way that's unheard of, like working at Google. And it's all thanks to God's grace and provision!

Going from life as normal to lay-off to dream job employed in 8 days straight has been an interesting experience to say the least. So yes, I have been distracted from my normal crafty endeavors and therefore have very little to show for my time. I did whip up a thrift store candelabra a while ago so that's what I'll show you today. It will probably take me a few weeks to get back to normal around here so don't fear if I'm kind of quiet for some weeks. I need the daily drudgery to come up with my funky ideas and then some time to implement the ideas, write them up and then show you and right now I'm hopelessly behind. Anyway, here goes.

I started out with two components. Your standard brass builder's chandelier from the thrift store, bought for about $15.


This pic was taken in mid-process per my usual (unintentional, mind you) modus operandi... I removed all the wiring and the little bulb-holder-thingies along with their sleeves, and then more or less re-assembled the whole thing again. I altered the sequence of some parts and I removed the very bottom part, the loop.

The other ingredient, an outdated floor lamp bought at the thrift store for $10.


I removed the top part of this one and then attached the chandelier on top, using the existing parts from both items. And this is what I ended up with.




The chandelier and the stand have different colors and I was going to spray paint it silver to unify the two. Someone thought that would be a shame so I'm holding off on that for now while I ponder my options.

I also manhandled the chandelier part by bending the arms in closer to the middle to make it look more compact and candelabra like instead of just a chandelier stuck on a stand. The little cups on each arm are the perfect size for tea lights and this is what it looks like at night.



Of course taller candles would be the most elegant looking but I'm basically pushing my luck just attempting puny tea lights with the kids around. I sure don't want to see it all go up in flames...

So what do you think? Too funky? And what about the color? Brass is very unpopular now I know but it fits my Indian/Moroccan theme while silver would definitely up the glam. Brass, silver or something else? Of course, if you're going to use this for Halloween only then black would be fitting but I was actually going to try to keep this around all year :) Take care, you guys!

Update. Let me also add that this candelabra was not my original idea, I saw it in a library book years ago and only now got around to doing it myself. But it is nonetheless a cool idea. 

Ps. Linking up with
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Designer couch on a dollar store budget (and Swagbucks)

I used to call this a sofa but in order to blend in with the natives I now call it couch (Swedes are raised on British English as opposed to American English). Whatever you call it - here's my "designer" version of our tired old workhorse - all blinged out for $3.


Not too shabby, eh? :)

I know it's not perfect but I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. If you don't look to closely it can pass for a designer creation. And if someone complains I'll soo play up the handmade (i.e. more valuable, custom) aspect of it all :) That's the best part of DIY to me. "Sure, everything's uneven and made out of junk, but that's what people pay mucho dinero for at the pricey store and I made it for pennies".

This is what the couch looked like before I got to work, or should I say just after I had started working on it, because true to form I forgot to snap a real before picture and only remembered when I was in the middle of it all.


Yes, I hammered away at the couch with the sleeping babe on it. He passed out from exhaustion after he in prime 2 year old stubbornness refused to go to sleep when he was supposed to..


Just your average beige piece of furniture bought off the curb years ago for $150 and it's spent the last 4 years of it's life being abused by little kids. It deserved a little something :)

So last week at the Dollar Tree store I found some ordinary thumb tacks in a silvery color that I liked. I was going to use them for another piece of furniture but inspiration struck late one night and the couch got it first. This is an idea I know other people have used as well but I did come up with it independently a few years ago. So it's original but not :)


Last time I did this thumb tack thing I didn't yet have any bent-nose pliers and let me tell you it was a lot easier this time around :) Your fingers will thank you for going through the trouble of purchasing a pair of said pliers before attempting this. I just grasped a tack with the pliers and hammered away.


There is a certain technique to getting the tack in straight without bending or breaking and I did get better at it as I went. I used three of these boxes of tacks for this couch but my guess is about a third of those were discards because they bent or broke (usually happened if I wasn't holding it exactly straight, not hammering straight on it or the wood underneath was harder in spots).

Halfway through this project I realized I didn't have to lay flat on my belly on the floor to do this, I could just tilt the couch on it's back! That was a true light bulb moment and my chest and neck were much the better for it :) I plead late night crafting confusion on that one because I don't know why I didn't think of that sooner.


I should mention that before I made the pattern on the front I drew my pattern onto the couch (in pen, most of it is covered up by the tacks anyway but in places like below where I changed my mind mid-project it's still visible. I know from experience it washes right off with carpet cleaner so no worries).


Ask me how I got that experience with the carpet cleaner and pen markings on the couch... This is the current artwork on one of the seat cushions and I assure you this was not parent approved or modeled in any way (the artist did this before I marked out my pattern).


Below are some close-ups of all the irregularities of the pattern. You could probably get it all to look just so and straight as can be, it'll just take you a lot longer to get it done and you'll go through more tacks :) This was good enough for me so I left it that way.



And as you can see in the below after pics, taken as a whole it really looks ok (except that it still needs a cleaning. I was going to clean it and show you the spot and art free wonder but looking in my cabinet I realized we were out of carpet cleaner. And since I was on a deadline I just left it the way it was for now, no time for store runs, cleanings, drying time and new photo session). The arm rests look straighter because there wasn't as much batting there and the wood was softer.






Don't mind the fire truck, I managed to get the kids out of the pic before snapping but the truck snuck in there somehow :)

I do have plans to spruce up the couch further, it may be a while before that happens so consider this the first installment of that raffling tale.

And I just winged the pattern. I tried a Moroccan inspired one first but it was too detailed and didn't look good. It seems the simpler the pattern and the more spaced out (leave plenty of breathing room between shapes) the better it looks in the end. If your pattern is too detailed it just looks messy, here with the simple pattern, even where it's uneven, your eye can still "read" the pattern and it looks pretty good.

The run down. Couch, pliers and hammer - on hand and free. Tacks - $3. New couch - priceless :)

So what do you guys think? Is it cool or just tacky (pun intended)? The husband and I concluded that it was still an improvement and really, how much can you expect for that price?

Before I let you go I also want to brag about Swagbucks. Another frugal blog got me started on this one, I downloaded the Swagbucks toolbar and now whenever I search the internet I use their toolbar to do it and win random swagbucks for it. When I go to check my email or to my blog I search for the page instead of using short cuts and I've won A LOT of swagbucks just doing that.

Search & Win

As I type Amazon is sending me a cool crafty book I ordered on their web site FOR FREE courtesy of Swagbucks. So it works :) It's free, it's easy, I don't have to go out of my way to win and I get some extra money to spend on presents for myself (or others if I'm feeling generous:)) You should try it if you're not already on it. Just click the banner above and get started, I don't think you'll regret it.

That's all for today :)

Ps. Linking up with
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Monday, September 6, 2010

Seahorses at play

I did mention a while ago that the theme for the kids' room is going to be beachy/underwater, preferrably with a more sophisticated look than your average kid's room. Something they can grow in without me having to change stuff all the time. We'll see if I actually manage to see that all the way through :)

So I put the faux capiz shell chandelier up to start off the theme and now I've added to it with some super cute seahorse silhouettes on the cheapo roller blinds. Contact paper seahorses.


I got the inspiration for this when I saw a pic on a blog of two huge yellow seahorse silhouette canvases flanking a window (on some Nordic blog, but of course this was months ago and I can't find it since I don't know where I saw it... The story of my life. ).

Anyway, I google searched "seahorse silhouette" images and found this one that I liked.


It's a tiny pic so it's a little blurry. I played with it in Photoshop and this is what it looked like when I was done.


Perfect! With the help of my new love PosteRazor I then blew it up to the size I needed it to be. I like to have my images traced like the one above before I start printing stuff on the printer to save on ink, if all I'm after is the shape then no need for it to be all filled in with black.

My contact paper roll is 18" wide so I made sure to stay within that measurement and since this little seahorse guy was so tall and skinny I had no problems with that. I made him as fat as possible but he still had to fit the height of the window and the width of the contact paper. Whatever works, right?

So after printing I pieced him together and cut him out. And then I traced him onto the back of the contact paper, two times facing one way and two times flipped over to face the other way. Here I am in the process of tracing.


I secured the little dude with painters tape while I was doing this so he would stay in place, that's what those blue blobs are (there's two blue blobs on his backside too but you can't see it in this pic).

So I took the blinds down one at a time to try to stick the little horsies on there. I must admit that it was trickier to get these on smoothly than it was working on my fridge, there's a definite technique to this. I found that if I just peeled the backing off on one end to start with and inch by inch smoothed and peeled my way across then it worked pretty well. I had to pull them up here and there to re-apply a section or two but I got the hang of it pretty fast.

Here are the before pics taken from the doorway of their room. (Warning! Completely uncensored pics below, no cleaning was done prior to picture snapping. Hold on to your tidy hats!)


White, white and blah, blah. And after!


Ooh, aren't they just too cute? Now our kids will have their own little herd (?) of friendly seahorses playing on their windows at night. Our oldest was all excited about them because she knows all about seahorses, well, as much as you learn from watching SpongeBob at least :) There's this one episode where SpongeBob becomes the owner of a seahorse he calls Mystery. Turns out Mystery is a hungry little creature so SpongeBob has to let her go, she's a wild animal after all. I won't spoil any more of that story in case you had it Tivoed :)

So basically I've made my kids think I've brought SpongeBob into their room and all I did was put stylish seahorses in there. Pretty smart if you ask me :)

The ONLY problem with these little horsies is that they only come out to play at night, which is too bad since they're so cool. In fact, right after I put them on the blinds I opened them for the day and 10 minutes later our oldest had pulled them down again so she could enjoy the little seahorses... I've got a feeling those blinds will be down more often from now on.

As you can see I leaned the silhouettes a little bit so they would look like they do when they swim. I eyeballed it so it was pure luck it turned out as uniformely as it did. I did measure 10" up from the bottom of the blind to the tail so they would be at the same height (can you believe I actually measured something for once? :)). And more color will be added to this room as I go, our poor kids aren't going to live in blah-blah-land forever. I could have made these silhouettes more colorful but black is what I had on hand and it's classic (therefore more polished looking :)).

So what do you guys think? Will you try something similar? 

Ps. Linking up with
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Friday, September 3, 2010

Virtual makeover - loong post

One sweet reader that I'll call Miss C asked me if I could help her with a makeover dilemma because she liked what I had done with our living room.

Miss C lives in a rental so nothing could be done with the walls as far as color goes, the furniture had to stay and she also had a certain look in mind. That is an old world look (I love that stuff!) with rich and sumptuous colors, fur and velvet and such tings, all based on a Tree of Life rug purchased in Turkey.

Now I have never done anything like this before so she's been my guinea pig :) And she's been a real sport about it! I haven't completely been able to go with her wishes because I still needed it to look good to me and I was limited to what was already in the room. I would call the look of the room "afters" more of a Colonial Island look, of course sprinkled with other influences since this is me doing the decorating :)

I made some drawings of each wall of the room to try to illustrate what I had in mind. I'm not an artist so these are rudimentary and I only had the kids colored pencils to work with (=limited color palette) but hopefully you'll be able to see what I see in my mind. Click on the pics to see larger versions. Here we go!


A view of the before, the headboard wall which is to your left as you enter the room.


Same wall in the after version. I left the furniture where they were on this wall and added drama, color and coziness with accessories. The colors in the room will be the existing turquoise/teal with the addition of oranges and golds to add some warmth to the mix (browns, whites/creams and blacks are neutrals so they don't count :)).

1. Since we can't paint the walls we'll be adding lots of fabric. These lengths of fabric behind each of the night stands (floor to ceiling length, an inch or two off the wall) is just yardage cut in half length-wise, hemmed on all four sides with rod pockets at the top and bottom, a thin PVC pipe (find it at the hardware store) inserted in the rod pockets and hung with fishing wire from the ceiling. I'm thinking a very shiny fabric here in a fairly bright orange, real silk would be ideal but I think costume silk would look great. As in the pic below (no source info on this pic, sorry).


2. To add more romance and softness in the room I've hung a mosquito net from the ceiling above the head end of the bed, the back of the net tucked behind the headboard and the front "flaps" draping softly to each side of the bed.  Image from Overstock.com.


3. Behind the net above the headboard I've put a mirror that Miss C already had in the room, it should add some sparkle from behind the net and the dark frame will add some weight and definition to the wall.

4. On each night stand a large gold colored vase with two huge leaves, I've seen leaves like this at Hobby Lobby in the fake flower section.
This is one of my vases. A thrift store glass vase, PVA glue (Elmer's) and gold glitter, when dry spray with a varnish to prevent shedding. The two vases don't have to match, get the two largest ones you can find at the thrift store. And in my opinion cheap gold glitter bought in bulk looks better (more sparkle) than the more expensive ones.

5. A large orange colored bolster pillow, maybe similar to this one but in a classical pattern? Image via Seeing Design.

6. Since we're keeping the two night side lamps the glass one will need a boost by some chunky old books to reach the same height as the other one. If you don't have old books use new ones wrapped in pretty paper or fabric.

7. To break up the whiteness of the bed in a white room I've draped a throw/length of fabric over the foot of the bed. I'm imagining this one to be champagne/beige colored with some gold in it, enough of gold in it to give the overall appearance a gold look. If you wanted to indulge that fur craving this would be a perfect place for a fake fur (buy it by the yard at the fabric store, many choices).
This pillow looks similar to the kind of fabric I had in mind, it has a texture rather than a pattern (no image source).

8. A large chevron patterned rug. You could get away with a small one on each side of the bed but this big version will give you a greater impact. I'm imagining this one in cream and orange. The color of this one via Apartment Therapy.

But the chunkiness of the stripes and instructions on how to DIY from Little Green Notebook below.

I  would suggest using a canvas drop cloth from the hardware store to make it so you can go BIG in size :)

The before of the second wall, what you see right in front of you as you walk in the room.

And the after.


9. The Tree of Life rug now lives on this wall. To give it more significance I've put a large empty frame in a dark color around it (look for this at thrift stores or use custom framing services).
This is what the rug looks like for those of you that wondered about it :)


10. I would suggest raising the curtain rod to a position about midway between where it is now and the ceiling (putting it at just a couple of inches below the ceiling) and adding finials to give more importance and oomph to this area. The finials should be on the chunky side, maybe something like this from Target.

11. Since the existing curtains will be even shorter when the rod is raised I suggest adding on another fabric to the lower third of the curtain and make the panels long enough to puddle a little bit on the floor. Fabric in a more muted orange/spice color like this one from Greenhousefabrics.com.


Add a gold/beige colored beaded fringe over the seam for extra sparkle. And I think there should be a bed skirt on the bed and whatever fabric you use for this lower part of the curtain would be great to also use for the bed skirt.

12. LARGE plants give you more for your buck. Bigger leaves are better because it gives a less busy impression but you do what works. I personally have a White bird of paradise and it's easy to take care of but needs a lot of light. Fake plants can work, just think of the size of the leaves :) Here's mine.
I got it at Home Depot for I think something like $15-20. But depending on how much light you get in your room you may need something different. And just a simple plant stand to sit on.

13. Using the space overhead in a room makes the space feel cozier. Here a trio of different sized nylon lanterns in orange, gold and turquoise. The nylon has a shiny look to it and by putting gold beaded trim around the bottom opening they'll look dressier than it's lowly paper cousin. Attach the hanging lamp kit with hooks from the ceiling and lead them down to an outlet. If the cords bother you use cord covers, cream to blend in with the wall or brights to coordinate with the lanterns. Find them on Luna Bazaar and the smaller size at Paper Lantern Store.





14. A petite armchair in chocolate velvet in the corner, shaped like this one (another one with no image source, sorry). This one will have a twin on the next wall, see below.
Since I didn't have any measurements of the room the dimensions of things are estimated. The chair and plant placements will have to be adjusted depending on how much room there actually is, this chair can be pulled closer to the dresser on the other side of the chair.

15. An accent pillow in a cool pattern or glitzy fabric in a teal/turquoise shade. How about something like this from here?


 Another before of the third wall.


And the after.

16. To distract the eye from the TV screen on the wall another piece of fabric makes up the background. I would suggest that this fabric be starched to the wall according to directions over here.  It wipes right off when it's time to move. But you can also just hang it like we did on that first wall. I'm thinking this fabric would look fabulous, from Joann's. Stenciling on muslin would be a good DIY for the same effect.

17. The desk the TV was sitting on has moved to another room and the TV screen now sits above the dresser which has moved from the corner to the middle of the wall.

18. The existing candle sconces that used to be over the bed now flank the TV.

19. A beautiful mirror on the wall to replace the one we put over the bed, from Lowe's.

We're on the last wall so this post is almost over :) The before.


The after, can you tell I ran out of steam? :)
20. Put up a curtain rod here, add the same kind of finials as for the window and make sure they're placed at the same height.

21. Add a long curtain panel/window scarf here of the same or similar fabric as for the window treatment across the room. Tie it up to trail along one side of this nook and make sure it puddles on the floor. If you want to be fancy you can hang a small chandelier (just for show, no need for it to work) in the ceiling in this nook, above the door. It'll only be visible in passing though so this is only if you feel strongly about it. Also, on the wall in the nook, on your right hand side as you enter the room. Why not put a little collection of newlywed pics or other love dove pics in espresso frames here, just to show that this is your private space?

Ok, I know there's a lot going on in this room but I actually think it could look fantastic in the end. I hope my client, Miss C, hasn't fainted from impression overload or choked on bright colors :) I would suggest to just do/buy the things you know you really love, one thing at a time, adjust the shade of the colors (more or less muted) until you find what you feel most comfortable with.

If you just do the things you love you'll actually love your room even while it's transitioning and if you change your mind along the way you'll be able to re-use the item in a different way somewhere else.

I know that if I had to personally complete all these projects it would probably take me about a year, so I guess you'll have a laborious year ahead of you :)

I hope you'll enjoy your Colonial Island room!

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