Thursday, March 12, 2015

Masters of Disguise

The hallway next to the entry was yet another wallpapered mess when we moved in.  In these pictures I'm standing in the entry and at the end of the hall is our master bedroom.  The door on the left leads to the stairs to the basement.  The door to the right is the master/hall bathroom.  Someday I hope to make two bathrooms out of that space.

We took down the wallpaper {notice how we're using a sheet as a curtain in our room?  That lasted way longer than it should have},

Primed the walls, 

And finally, painted the trim and walls, in addition to making these pendant lights.

My favorite thing about this hallway, hands down, are the portraits of the kids.

I love having pictures of my kids on display, but making them both cohesive and funny is my favorite.

I love how adorable their little faces are!

But my favorite part? 

I didn't have to make this happen.  We already had these pictures.  

Because that is how we roll.

We are masters of disguise.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cross stitch in a whole new way

We had this blank space over the couch in the sunroom.  It is a very long wall and needs substantial wall coverings.  

What it looked like when we first moved in, after the trim went from brown to white and we took down the beige metal mini blinds.

And after we painted.  Notice the blinds still on the floor.  It is embarrassing how long it took to take those to ReStore.

I have my rattan butterflies over the dresser {above} that I later painted grellow

but nothing else along this stretch of wall.  I wanted to make something creative, something I hadn't really seen before.  I came across this picture  by Alix Adams, and loved the idea.  It is a "cross-stitch" that she painted onto a board.

Cross Stitch Painting

I didn't want to do a deer head, because, while I really enjoy them when I see them, I see them a lot. I usually like things less and less the more I see them.  Also, a deer head seems more of a cozy inside thing, not a sunroom thing.  I did look for other animals to do, but ultimately decided to go in a totally different direction. 

A rotary phone!  I found a cross stitch pattern for one online and was able to copy it onto a piece of graph paper.  I tried to find the image again so I could link it, but I was unable to locate it.  

The main difference between mine and Alix's, other than subject matter, was that she used wood and paint.  She made her grid right on the wood, and you could see it in the finished project.  I didn't want that.  I decided to get the biggest canvas I could find and take a slightly different route.  I'd sew it!  I'm a terrible painter, but if I had a pattern I could sew right onto the canvas.

Let me tell you, this was not easy.  It is a math heavy job.  If I used stitches as large as my current sketch called for, they would be one-inch-by-one-inch squares.  Too big.  Instead, I made each square on my graph paper count for four stitches on my canvas.  I did not realize how much work this would end up being.

I made a grid on the backside of a canvas.  The corner braces were getting in my way, so I used our multi master to remove them without damaging the canvas.

Each of my squares were half an inch wide, and once I finished the grid, I marked my x's so that I would not mess up.  It was a big job, but worth it because I didn't have to count every row or second guess each stitch.  It put all of the thinking on the front end.

Then I began to stitch.  I used black embroidery floss and started from the bottom {with the canvas upside down}, going in the same direction the whole time. 

From the back, it looked like this.

As I got to the middle, I turned it right side up to finish it.

And, after nearly two weeks of working on it in the evenings, it was done.  This one nearly killed me. 

And when I say I finished it, I mean only in one direction.  I asked Handsome Hero what he thought and he said that it looked intentional, and that he hadn't realized the original plan called for x's, and he thought that x's would be too busy and he liked the abstractness and simplicity of the lines. 

He had me at "It looks intentional."  It was done.  I did paint the sides hot pink because, um, just because.  I like hot pink.

It fills the space pretty well now.  I think we do need something between it and the door, but I am not sure what.  I only know that it won't be square.  Too much of that going on.

If you want to attempt this project, I would offer these sage words of advice.  The canvas is tough to pull the needle through and my hands ached a lot.  Use a thimble and your fingers will thank you.  Also, check twice before poking the needle through - the hole doesn't readily go away.  However, I have not noticed my mistake holes since putting it up.  And, while you want to be as straight as possible, you will not achieve perfection, so don't stress about it.  Observe the close up:

And lastly, don't forget to reverse your pattern when you do it on the backside {if it's important for the picture}.  I didn't do this, and my phone is backwards, which doesn't matter except for the dial.

I could have fixed this, but then those holes would have been much more noticeable.  No one notices it but me, anyway.  And now you, because I told you.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Jack Lewis's Deep Thoughts

For your reading enjoyment:  words from the mind of my five year old.

Everyone in the world has cars, unless they're dead, because then they don't need them.

A house fire wouldn't be so bad if it were made of granola, 'cause then you could just eat it.

Me:  Would you like a half or a whole sandwich?
Jack:  I'd like a half.
Me:  Ok.
Jack:  And then another half.

I had a booger on my hand, and I didn't want to get up, so I tried to put in back in my nose.  It didn't work.

Jack:  Mom. am I your sunshine?
Me:  Yes, you are my sunshine.
Jack:  What does it mean to be your sunshine?
Me:  It means to make me happy, even in hard times.
Jack:  Okay.  I'll be your sunshine.

Oh, if he only knew.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


This is another older project that I did last summer.  Look at me, posting all regular-like!

From the first moment I walked into the sunroom in this house, I had a dream of hanging a daybed from the ceiling.  Like this one from Pottery Barn.

I have wanted one for years, but we didn't live in a house that could really accommodate it until now.  Doesn't this look so serene and tranquil?  Not that serene or tranquil would adequately describe my life right now....

Best Landscape Blog

A sunroom is the perfect place for a hanging daybed!  No bugs!  No mildew on the cushions!  No muddy shoes {because in our house, no shoes come in the door}!  My vision was something like this DIY one so that the view out the windows wouldn't be blocked.

Hanging Outdoor Bed

It was going to fit a twin mattress, so you could have several people sitting on it at once, or I could lounge for a solitary siesta {HA!}.  It was a solidified absolute necessity in my mind.

Practicality, how I despise thee.

I love the idea of a hanging daybed, and maybe one day it will work, but if we put a daybed in the sunroom, it will be permanent.  No changing around the furniture when we have company.  No rearranging without repairing big holes in the ceiling.  We entertain a lot, and not having those options just doesn't seem logical.

Strangely, having the kids treat it like a swing and running into furniture or the wall wasn't really a concern to me.  I was pretty confident that I could control their behavior on that score, though the more I think of it, I was inviting trouble, wasn't I?  Nothing like dangling gorgeous and comfortable forbidden fruit right in front of them.

So I decided to nix the daybed, but something needed to be in this space between the two conversation areas.  I was thinking maybe a really large bench, but couldn't find one I could afford that was the right size, and making one seemed cost prohibitive, too.  The room is so long that to have a separation between these areas seems the most logical thing to do.  Also, that door leads to our bedroom, and we like it to feel open when we walk through.

I bought a coffee table on Craigslist, thinking to make it into an upholstered bench.

Within a couple of days, and before I had started to work on the coffee table, I got a call from my mom.  They were at an antique shop and had found a chaise that they thought I could make into something.  I love that my parents can look at something like this and think, "Yes, this has potential.  I think Beth could do something with this." 

It wasn't exactly a beauty! The dimensions were great, though, much more substantial than the coffee table-turned-bench I had been planning on using.  And it was sturdy.  All wood and metal.  The reclining mechanism fit into sturdy well-made grooves.  It was definitely worth trying to save.

I was a bit nervous about the part where the bottom meets the back.  The current abominable upholstery was in one large piece, but it looked terrible!  How was I going to upholster it so that the fabric didn't bunch unattractively when the back was raised?  I peeled the fabric off to reveal stuffing on top of foam on top of vinyl.  Oh, joy.

It was a lot of dirty layers, each stinkier than the last, but at least I had help taking it apart.

This is what the chaise looked like originally.  It must have belonged to a down-and-out psychiatrist in 1973 who couldn't afford a leather couch.

So here's the spot I was worried about.

I don't know if you can see, but the bottom piece of vinyl is pulled up under the back part, and then the back piece of vinyl is stapled over on top.

When I took off the vinyl, there was straw and more stuffing underneath.  That was the source of the stench. 

I sanded, primed, and painted the chaise, lightly sanding between coats.  Because I was painting the bottom of the side rails and the back, I found it easiest to do this in the sunroom with two sawhorses as my support.

As you can see above, there is a wooden lip all the way around both sections that makes a recess.  I thought you'd probably feel that lip through a sheet of foam, so I filled the wells with shredded foam and covered it with fabric first, just to make it even.

I had a wonderful helper.  We stapled a bit of fabric, then stuffed and smoothed out the foam pieces.  Then we stapled a bit further and repeated.  It was messy, but not hard. 

The fabric I used was just leftover curtain blackout lining I've had laying around.  I think any heavier weight fabric would do.

Ella trimmed the fabric after we stapled it with my pneumatic stapler.  She's left handed like her mama.

Then we added foam, a couple of layers of batting, and the fabric.  I did the whole main section before starting in on the back so that it would lay smoothly.  You'll see what I mean below.

I started stapling the fabric at the foot and worked my way up.  At the place where the back of the recliner and the bottom meet, I pulled the fabric taut and stapled it on the back section.  It's hard to see because it's all covered up, but I cut a diagonal slit in the fabric right at the separation between the back and the bottom.

Then I rolled both fabric sides under and stapled really well.  You can see below a bit better.

This picture is taken from the head of the chaise looking down so that you can see better where the staples went.

They're not really straight, but that isn't important because they will be covered up in a minute.  I did the same diagonal slit, turn under, and staple on this side.

I lined up the pattern of the paisleys so the two pieces would match.

Then I nailed this strip of cardboard down right on the bottom edge of the back piece.  Upholstery shops use these to make crisp lines, and I took this one out when I took off the original vinyl, but after looking at it, I imagine you could use any heavy cardboard with upholstery nails to do the same thing, or just purchase it from your local upholsterer or online.  It made a huge difference to the finished product.

After that, it was just a matter of placing the foam and batting and stapling it all down again.

See how the pattern lines up?

That nice, crisp line is because of the cardboard.

We attached the legs and the back mechanism.  We also hot glued two layers of blue trim around the edge {one the first one was on in the picture below}.  It seems like there should be a more secure way to attach this type of trim, but it is what the pros use, and its only purpose is to look pretty and hide staples.  It doesn't need to hold the fabric or anything.  If you do this, make sure to have your seam in an inconspicuous place and turn the edge under, gluing it a bit so that it doesn't fray.

And we were done. 

I love it.  I LOVE it.  I feel like we took something that was horrible and no one would ever want, and made it into something beautiful.  This is definitely my favorite type of project.  It went from heavy and fat and became light and sleek.

Let's just look at the before and after again, shall we?