Making over chairs, part 3

I sanded, primed, painted, repaired, cut, stapled, and put all the pieces back together to make a new set of dining room chairs from mis-matched ones I already had. Here is the before picture:

And, after much hard work, here are the after pictures:

You can read about painting and repairing the chairs here, and about reupholstering the seats here.

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Making over chairs, part 2

In my last post, I detailed how I sanded, primed, and painted a set of four mis-matched chairs. I also replaced the rubber caps on two of the chairs’ legs and replaced a broken seat on another one. You can click here to see the post.

Once the paint was drying, I set about choosing some new fabric for the seats. I have a closet full of collected fabric, so instead of heading to the store, I just committed myself to using some I already had. The trick was finding fabric that complemented my patterned rug, golden curtains, and the new white chairs. I narrowed it down to four and laid them on the rug to choose.

Clockwise from top left: The colors in the first striped fabric sort of coordinate with the rug colors, but this combo didn’t do anything for me. I immediately liked the golden floral on white because it related to the floral of the rug without being overly matchy. Next, I considered the brown velvet and decided it would look sumptuous with the white chairs. Finally, I thought about the khaki stripes on white (difficult to see here, sorry!) Can you guess which one I chose?

The golden floral! Not only does it relate nicely to the rug, it also picks up the curtain color.

I pulled the staples out of the back of the first seat and removed the existing fabric. To remove the staples I pried them up with a screwdriver and then pulled them out with pliers.

I left the other old layers of fabric on the seat, figuring they are holding the foam cushion in place. Then, I cut a piece of fabric leaving generous edges for ease of wrapping around the edge of the seat.

I just pulled the fabric tightly over the edges and stapled it all down with a light duty staple gun. All of my practice stretching canvas for paintings pays off here! Last, I trimmed the excess fabric from around the edges.

The other seat needed a new cushion. I figured a few layers of thick batting would do the trick.

I also picked up all new hardware to ensure a snug fit when I reassemble everything.

Stay tuned for the big “after” reveal, coming soon. Or subscribe and receive updates automatically.

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Making over chairs, part 1

What do these four chairs have in common? Besides being a bit worse for wear and in need of facelifts, not much. That is all about to change!

I decided my dining room needs a set of coordinated chairs, preferably in a light color. The rug, existing furniture, and walls are all relatively dark. The room is in need of some white.

The chairs were all relatively cheap, or even free in the case of the molded plywood ones. I think the black one is from our New England days, picked up from a junk sale for $10. I’ve already painted it twice and reupholstered the seat several times. My goal is to make this a coordinated set.

First, I disassembled them and took the seats off.

Next, I gave all four a good sanding with extra fine sandpaper and painted them with a coat of primer.

I let the primer dry for a few days and set about fixing the seat on the one that started off black. The seat was cracked all the way through in several places. You may notice that in my younger years, I tried to repair it by stapling it back together!

The Mr. cut a piece of scrap wood and I sanded down the sides to ensure a perfect fit.

I also replaced the black (and in some cases missing) rubber caps on the metal legs of the plywood chairs with new white ones to match the paint.

Over the course of a few days, I painted the chairs with two coats of satin paint. The trick to getting a smooth finish was using a small roller and sponge brushes instead of bristle brushes.

Don’t they already look so much more unified? Stay tuned for part two of the chair makeover where I will show you how I updated the upholstered seats. You can also subscribe to receive updates automatically.

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Living room mood board, take three!

I have a vision and I am stubborn! Despite the Mr. and a (very nice) sales lady trying to talk me into a medium gray sectional over the weekend, I am still convinced a dark chocolate brown sectional sofa is going to work perfectly in our living room. I tried various combinations with the gray, but everything felt very drab. I still love the way the dark brown will pop with light walls.

What do you think of my latest take on the mood board? It features a sectional similar to the one we are considering. I’ve also included various elements I already own and know I am keeping. And the brown, floral rug in the lower right corner is in our adjoining dining room.

If I go with this plan, the items I will need to purchase include:

  • Sectional sofa
  • 2-3 gallons wall paint
  • Grass rug
  • Plant
  • Larger throw pillows and covers
  • A new throw
  • An ottoman
  • Mirrored side table
  • Large frames (I can make the artwork)

Items I already own and will keep include:

  • Curtains
  • Dresser
  • Mirror
  • Floor lamp
  • Boxes
  • Accessories
  • Small pillows
  • Smaller paintings

Of course, I wouldn’t purchase everything all at once. The paint and the sofa would come first. Followed by the rug and the ottoman. I’d work in the smaller accessories over time.

(You can see my previous attempt at a mood board here.)

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Lessons from Irvington (a.k.a. removing visual clutter)

Last month, the Mr. and I attended a birthday party for a good friend in an absolutely stunning house. It was gorgeous inside and out and set in Irvington, one of Portland’s nicest neighborhoods. I didn’t take any pictures, but I can assure you this place was a ten out of ten. A beauty queen. A dime. A dish.

I was inspired by the light, open, airy feel of the home. All the walls were painted a matte white, the floors were mostly bare wood, and the windows on the first floor didn’t have any curtains or blinds. The drama in the space came from the stunning art that decorated the walls. From framed photos and prints to modern oil paintings, this space had it all. Live gypsy jazz, exquisite food, a creative crowd, and an adorable dog all made for a great party. And yes, I am bragging!

But back to the point… the point is, I was inspired by this home. While my own humble townhouse will never compare, I decided I could borrow a few ideas to inform my own space.

Primarily, I decided to remove some of the small, visual clutter from our first floor, including:

  • Taking the books and bookshelves out of the dining room.
  • Moving two wicker chairs that competed with the main traffic flow in the living room.
  • Swapping out the bookshelves that held the TV for something less “busy.”
  • Clearing away the chair and clutter at the entry.
  • Plans to lighten up the walls with a matte, pale silvery gray paint.

Here is a before picture of the shelves in the dining room:

And here are a few pictures now:

These two chairs are lovely, but positioned next to our staircase, they were in the way.

Now one lives in the corner by the window and the other lives upstairs in the bedroom.


I was also tired of all the visual clutter surrounding the TV that was sitting on black bookshelves. To make room for the bookshelves in the spare room upstairs, the Mr. and I brought this dresser down for the TV. It’s a bit unexpected, but I actually really like it. And the drawers are great for stashing clutter and stuff to keep the overall look clean and soothing.

I need to move those paintings about an inch higher. Or replace them with something else. I’m considering hanging a floating shelf above the TV, but I haven’t decided for sure yet,

Overall, the downstairs feels much lighter and airier now. It’s also easier to keep clean without all the shelves full-o-stuff. Do you have any tips for reducing visual clutter? Making a home feel more open and airy? Please share in the comment section.

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Money-and-time-saving household tips

I was feeling rather clever this weekend with a few time and money saving tips I’ve come to rely on and decided to share some of my household tricks with you.

1. Instead of throwing away containers of lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and the like when they still have product inside that you can’t get out, cut the plastic bottles in half and scoop out the product. I did this today with a tube of hand cream. There was plenty of cream left but I couldn’t get any more out. I cut the tube open and re-filled my travel/camping size hand cream container with the remaining contents.


2. Keep a charged-up dust buster on the second floor of your home. I often don’t feel like hauling the entire vacuum upstairs to clean, and I certainly dislike trying to vacuum the stairs themselves. Having the dust buster allows me to quickly vacuum up dust bunnies behind doors, the floor in the bathroom, and the hardwood stairs without the hassle of hauling the heavy vacuum around. Of course, at least once or twice a month, I have to bite the bullet and use the real vacuum. But this works great for smaller jobs.


3. Clean grass rugs with a dry powder cleaner. On Saturday, sweet little Bodhi had an accident on my sisal rug by the door. He almost made it outside… but not quite. Instead of replacing the rug, I decided to try my best to clean it. Moisture of any kind kills grass rugs, so I blotted it up as quickly as I could and threw some baking soda down. This didn’t entirely solve the problem, so today I used a scrub brush to scrub in a powder cleaner, let the powder sit for about half an hour, and vacuumed it up.

Disclaimer: This stuff is very fragrant. More fragrant than I normally care for, but I needed something stronger than plain baking soda. If your nose is sensitive, just try plain baking soda for light jobs.


4. If you feel like your wardrobe is lacking and you “have nothing to wear,” do all of your laundry (including stuff that needs to be hand-washed and hung to dry), finish all of your ironing, and gather clothes that need to go to the dry cleaners. I did this on Saturday and suddenly I feel like I have more than enough to wear.


5. Use white vinegar and plain baking soda for cheap and environmentally friendly household cleaning. I keep a spray bottle of 50/50 vinegar and water handy for cleaning glass, mirrors, and counter tops. This spray is also amazing at getting rid of soap scum in the shower when paired with a Magic Eraser sponge. I also keep a re-fillable plastic container of baking soda next to the kitchen sink for scrubbing up baked-on foods or cleaning the stainless sink.


How about you? Do you have any money-saving or time-saving household tips that make your life easier and cheaper?

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