Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Be Our Guest!

I'd like to start with how we did our guest room, which is really a room for my mother when she stays with us. The decor is to her liking, and was designed with her in mind. I have to say, it came out really cute.

So here is the piece that started my design process.
This small chest of drawers was my Great Grandmother's. I really liked the chippy paint finish and decided to leave it as is.
So that started the theme of a more toned down shabby chic decor.
The charming little birdhouses are my mother's. They just went perfectly in the room and she was delighted to put them there.

We needed a bed, but all I had was a bed frame. Boring. Here is what I did.
Looks expensive, right?
Nope.
The sides of the day bed structure are an old headboard and foot board that I already had. The headboard was warped beyond repair. I cut off the taller posts in the back, and cut the foot board in half. THe taller poles were attached to the lower posts, like so.
I then painted the new side rails with enamel paint. It's usually in the spray paint section and is FAR more durable than latex paint. It also goes much further than spray paint.
If you use a paint brush, you get an interesting texture to the piece. If you want a smooth finish, use paint sponges.
The quilt was 20 dollars at Wal Mart. The pillow shams that don't match the quilt were given to me by someone who never used them. They coordinate, but don't match exactly.
The chinelle throw was a hand me down, as was the little patch work dog.
I made the whole bed look for under 50 dollars. The quilt was 20 bucks, and the paint was about 10. Various painting supplies, about 5 dollars.
And underneath, still the floating bed frame that I already had.
The side rails that give the day bed look are not attached to the frame, but rather are attached to the wall.

Now, for the window piece that is above the bed.
I found the window in a junk pile at a relatives house.
I was unsure if the paint was lead based or not. Judging by the age, it probably is. To prevent the paint from falling off in the house, I used a sealant on the window. This not only prevents paint chips from falling off into the hands of the kids, or pets....but it preserves the look I want to keep.
The lace was simply stapled on in the back. Because I used a bright color on the walls, the lace really pops beautifully.
The lace was a lace curtain and valance I got at a thrift store for 5 bucks. The curtain is polyester, so not an heirloom.
The rose shaped fabric draping is just curtain shears that I gathered and tied off with a natural yarn. Twine, or burlap ties would look beautiful too.
I already owned the curtain shears. I see them all the time at the thrift stores though, so they are not hard to get for cheap.

My mother owned old steamer trunks that she didn't have room for anymore, so I took those to add to the decor.
Now I have extra storage space for guests, and the steamer trunk adds some wonderful charm to the room. These trunks are not terribly expensive at vintage stores, or you can try Craigslist.
The lace (on top of one of my countertop remnant shelves I mentioned in an earlier post) is the valence that matches the curtain in the window.

This was a refinishing project. Again, searching outbuildings on family land...I found this little night stand. It was terribly wobbly and needed a tiny bit of paint to take it from ugly to shabby chic.
The doilies are quilt pieces that I salvaged from a scrap bag found in an attic.

Another restoration project for this room was an old vanity chair that belonged to a relative.
It started out....really rough. There are gouges on it, and the top was trashed.
To work! This took some serious sanding, wood putty, and elbow grease. This is the end product.
The cushion is a bit uneven, as I had to kick a cat off to get a picture. ;)
The new cushion part was one of my mom's old skirts that I cut up.
I'm very pleased with how this turned out.

There we go. One guest room for under 200 dollars.







Bonus!
The 10 minute upcycle!

Believe it or not, this was actually a cake plate. The middle indentation was just perfect for a mirror.
I picked up the mirror at the dollar store. It came with a cheap plastic frame that was easily removed.
I sawed off the base of the cake plate, and it left the perfect hole for the mirror to be hung.
Then is was just a matter of gluing in the mirror.
That's it.
Not much work for a beautiful accent piece.


See ya next time!













Monday, April 7, 2014

Well friends, here I am again.
It's been a while, and I blame life. Life has a way of doing that sometimes.
I've moved, and we've had some medical issues, but things have evened out. \
With the move, I have a whole lot of upcycling and refurbishing projects to show you, so new posts will be coming for some time. Huzzah! 

So here I am!

I see a lot of questions across the internet about where to thrift for certain items, so let's address that.
Some of this seems like common sense, but if you're new to the game...here's a primer. 

Vintage items.
I love vintage. But where to look for it?
Thrift stores/garage sales in areas with an older population are the best place to start. Older people have often held onto older items and that's normally what they will get rid of.
Working class neighborhoods will also get rid of vintage items as they gradually replace hand me downs with newer items.

New/like new clothing.
I'm always on the lookout for new clothing or shoes.
Middle class and upper middle class neighborhoods are some of the best places to go for new items that are in good condition.  Think suburbia.  You have a better chance at getting good deals at garage sales in these areas. But, hit the thrift stores as well.
You're going to find the best items for the best prices when the seasons change, this goes for clearance sales at department stores as well. 

Homegoods
Furniture, and appliances are high ticket items, but the best items for cheap will come from wealthy areas.  I've had lots of good luck with Craigslist for these kinds of items. Thrift stores in wealthy areas tend to have good donations for things like dishes, silverware, and home decor.
With the rising popularity of shows like Storage Hunters, a lot of people have gotten into the game of buying storage units and selling the contents, sometimes for dirt cheap.
This is good for bargain hunters. There are deals to be had, just remember to be safe.
Don't meet anyone alone, and tell your friends/family where you are going.

So there's a basic guide for where to look for certain items.

Since I'm thinking about vintage items, let's talk about vintage pricing.
Just because something is old, doesn't mean it's worth a lot of money. Remember that when you are shopping. If you're shopping for one certain piece, do your research on that item.
If an item isn't popular, it's not going to be worth as much. The vintage market is driven by popularity of the item, as well as who made it and when.


So, that's it for today.
Stay tuned for new posts!




Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Goodwill, or how to dress like you have money when you really don't.

Oh Goodwill, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...
 Well, maybe that's a bit much. But it is a really great store for getting awesome stuff, really cheap.

Now, you do have to search for it. Awesome name brand stuff is usually hidden among the horrendous tacky polyester cast offs, or worn through t-shirts.
However, the good stuff is out there for the taking!
So, let's take a look at some recent finds.

Brooks Running shoes! These retail at anywhere from 80-100 dollars.
Goodwill price? $5.00 with tax, less if you have a frequent shoppers card. Which, I do.





Oscar De La Renta Sweater. I can't touch these, even off the shelf retail prices.
Goodwill price? $4.69.
Sango Dishes. Retail price is about $25.00 a place setting, this particular pattern is discontinued.
Place setting for 8, including a meat platter, coffee cups, salad plates, dinner plates and soup bowls...$22.00.
Italian, handcrafted Music/Jewelery Box. Retail price, anywhere from $100-$200.
Goodwill price, $4.99





Timberland boots, Gap sweater, American Eagle....the list goes on and on.

Not to mention, all the great pieces of furniture you can get for home refurbishing projects. I have quite a few pieces lined up for Spring.

Plus, Target partners with Goodwill. Meaning, what they can't sell at Target, gets donated to Goodwill. Most of the time, the tags are still on the items.
I have found bedding, shoes, clothes, bathroom accessories, and housewares. Brand new.
So if used items aren't your thing, never fear...Goodwill still has something for you.

If you're on a budget, or just like deal hunting...get yourself to a Goodwill and see what you can find.






Thursday, September 6, 2012

Books on a TV!

So, after plundering the barn once again, I found an old cabinet style TV. It was obviously broken, filled with terrible nasties and doing nothing for anyone.

So, I wanted to find something to do with it. The cabinet was still in great condition and it seemed such a waste to let it sit.
I went searching and found this website!

http://www.curbly.com/users/diy-maven/posts/13452-round-up-5-fantastic-tv-makeovers

Super awesome!
And it was so easy!

So my TV looked like the first one pictured, exactly like it. Except it was really filthy and had some ant holes that had to be filled with putty and sanded. Not too much work. The work was digging straw and hay out of the back panel and removing the TV tube. Just a note, these are really heavy and should be disposed of properly after removal.
And it ended up looking like this!





If you notice the backing of the TV book shelf is a marble pattern.
That's one of my super cheap shelves, cut in half and used as an attractive back panel!
So much more sturdy and attractive than the typical cardboard you get with cheaper bookshelves now.
Total material cost on this one, 35 bucks for the wood, brackets and spray paint. Since this was older and rather dried out, it took 5 cans of spray paint.

So keep an eye out for old cabinet/console style TV's. They make beautiful bookshelves, or maybe you can get another idea from the link.
Happy Upcycling!


Helpful Tip.

When shopping end of season sales for summer, keep an eye out for condiment organizers.
They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors.  The best thing is they are perfect for organizing and you can get them super cheap!
For Example.....

So this is a seagrass style condiment organizer that was originally intended for picnics.
As you can see it works perfectly as a counter top organizer for bathroom necessities.
And, it was only 5 bucks on clearance!  Score!






Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A look back at GenCon

So, a bit of a break from blogging as I ward of Con Plague and rest.
But here I am again!

So, GenCon!
Amazing event, really. It's awesome to be able to see and try so many great events. The vendors were awesome this year, Steampunk as far as the eye could see.

I met two of my all time favorite authors this year, Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weiss.  If you haven't read their work, I highly recommend it. It was so exciting to finally meet people that started me on my journey in reading fantasy, all those many years ago. They are both very personable and engaging. Mr. Hickman is a really funny guy, on top of being a great writer.

Met Wil Wheaton as well this year, very cool guy. It's really awesome to see him wandering the con and being the same excited fan boy that the rest of us are.

Mayfair games was out in full force with Star Trek Catan. Interesting game, and we went home with a copy.

All the D&D stuff was really interesting this year. I got to take a first look at the Neverwinter Nights MMO that is still in pre-alpha stage. Very nice graphically, but I'd have to say I need to see more before I can say I really like it. Seems kinda par for the course, but it's still really early in the development stage. They do plan on having a armor dye system, AND gear that levels with you (much like the SWTOR orange modable gear), so that's kinda awesome. In talking with the lead dev, it sounds like they have a lot of good ideas, and I'll be interested to see what makes it into game and what doesn't.

More D&D, they are pushing new product this year centered around the Drow. Nice story lines, and sometimes it's just fun to be evil.  So they had a ton of product demos. And, really cool thing...you got free dice for each event you did to make a complete set. AWESOME! Game demos and free dice. Win. So here is what they look like, and I literally finished the last event 30 minutes before the con ended. Whew! Talk about cutting it down to the wire.


And! Excitement!
I got paint miniature figurines again. I used to do this as a hobby, and I have always loved it. My first two tries were kinda cruddy, but the last one I painted turned out great!
Not professional great, but still awesome...considering I haven't done this in 10 years.
Here is some detail of the back of my fig.

Whew! I'm tired all over again.


So, now to the down side of cons...for a lot of  ladies anyways, but this is my experience.
I get to the con and I'm all like this!
WOOO! GO CON! Everything is awesome!

And then I slow down to start looking at things and asking questions. But a lot of the booths are filled with well, things kinda like this.


 Sort of uncomfortable sometimes, as I know they don't want my money. This is all for the boys, keep walking lady.

But the thing that really bothered me, is that hardly any booths were engaging me. I'd walk up, poke around...and the dudes working there never said hi. Never asked me (or other ladies) if I had a question. Bummer.  And no, it wasn't because they were busy. I can't fault them for being engaged with other people. That would be a tad bit unreasonable.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not all like "OMG! COVER ALL THE SKIN!" "BAN THE BOOBIES!" That's not it, not at all.
I get that barely dressed ladies have a firm niche in the fantasy and sci-fi markets. I don't think it will ever go away, and it probably shouldn't. It is fairly iconic of the genre and a lot of people appreciate it. And I know some RL ladies find skin empowering. That's cool. I have no problems with that. I think the female form is quite beautiful.

But this idea that women are eye candy and have to be shown cavorting around in magical chain mail bikinis gets, tiresome. Women "warriors" wearing two leather straps, body oil and some bunny fur, while writhing around with a giant snake is old.
I think that's the best word for it, tiresome. It's predictable and tiresome.
And sadly, this idea of women being objects seeps through the culture to a certain degree.
So how about some balance?  Why not have a little bit of something for everyone?

So after all that, I was pleasantly surprised to come across the DGS Games booth. Why?
I was instantly greeted, and I noticed something startling about their figures, the women were dressed.
No really!
Check it out... http://www.dgsgames.com/



So cool,  and yep, there is skin. But, it is very tastefully done.
Like this!
Even their stances say powerful warrior, not sex kitten. Which, is just very refreshing.
I gotta hand it to the folks at DSG games, they have done some wonderful sculpting and kept the femininity, and sensuality while not venturing into the trashy category. 
Kudos to them.

So while it's not always sunshine and daisies at Cons...I still have to say it's a good time. And hopefully int he future, we'll see more of a balance in how female characters are portrayed in the genre.
Just remember your deodorant. No one likes gamer funk. No one.






Monday, August 13, 2012

SHOES! Well, shoes boxes and how to do things with them.

Okay so, I mentioned I love shoes. And it's true!
But there are always shoe boxes left over from the purchase of my delightful feet candy.
So what do to do with them? 
I had an idea!
Well, when you get really attractive shoe boxes, this is a really simple solution that makes great storage.
So, I got 2 pairs of Chinese Laundry shoes for 17 bucks each. Yep, 17 bucks!
And the boxes were just really attractive.




Aren't they pretty??

So I got some mini picture frames from the dollar store.  For yes, a dollar.

I started by removing the kick out stand that keep the picture frame upright.




It's cheap plastic on the back, so it was rather easy to remove. Now that this part is done, glue the kick out stand down to the back of the frame and make sure the frame can still slide easily on and off the backing.  I use craft epoxy, but any kind of sturdy glue will do. I would avoid hot glue, as it tends to peel off smooth surfaces after time.

It should look something like this. I had to cut the kick out stand down to size to fit on the back of the frame. A pair of good scissors or wire cutters will do the trick.
But why are we doing this, you may ask.
Cause I like to mess with people. It amuses me to watch people glue things to other things.

No, really...there's a reason.
You don't want to have the picture frame flush against the box, or the frame won't be removable. You want to be able to change the tag in the front. With the kickstand glued down, the frame will still move on and off the box.

Onward!
Now glue the kickstand and the frame backer to the box itself.
Let this dry for the appropriate amount of time as described by the glue you are using.
SO!
Once your back is totally dry, now you can add a tag into the front of the frame and slide it on.
Like so!



And the finished product....




So there you have it. For one dollar you can make attractive storage out of shoe boxes.
Hey, you need the shoes anyways, you might as well do something cool with their boxes.

Enjoy!

Fun Tip!
Saving bubble wrap can save your sanity. Kids hyper and can't go outside? Give em each a sheet of bubble wrap and let them go to town.
Make a game of how many can be popped in 30 or 60 seconds. You can never go wrong with bubble wrap.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Shelves in SPAAAAAAAAAACE!

Wait a minute, shelves MAKE space. Oh well, I like the title better the way it is.

So here we go.
With nearly no built in storage room in small spaces, putting your things up nicely is challenging to say the least.
So, how do I do it? I can hear you asking this, it's okay...I'll answer.
As you probably guessed, the answer is SHELVES!
Cheap Shelves! But cheap shelves that are also very pretty. You see, a local store sells kitchen counter top remnants in measured lengths of shelving. Menards to be specific, but I'm sure other companies do this as well.
Genius!
So all those beautiful countertop patterns, are dirt cheap shelves.
Corner shelves are 1.50, 4 length shelving is 1.50 and little knick knack shelves are .99 cents.
Seriously.

So, what I have I done with them?
Let's see!





It's a coat rack! A beautiful marble patterned coat rack.  So this -ahem- lovely wood paneling cracks very easily and is flimsy as all get out.
So, we (anything involving carpentry is my husband's work, but I come up with the ideas...so it's we) just drilled this nicely cut piece into the studs and attached coat hangers. No damage to the paneling from the coat hooks and it looks lovely.
Total Material, 1.50 for the shelf and 2.00 for each hook.
For a grand total of.....9.50! 





DVD Racks!
Now, some of the shelves that are sold have this great curved edge, some have a flat edge. I much prefer the curved edge.
As you can see it makes a great DVD shelf, and the floor space is clear for an end table. These shelves were cut slightly short and the cut off ends were then drilled into the end of the shelf to keep the DVD's standing up straight. The wall holds up the other end. Flip the shelves upside down, and you have a great way to keep items on top. We have a smaller shelf behind the TV for the video games. Works just like this one, fabulous.
Total Materials, 
Shelves, 1.50 each. Brackets 2.00 each for 100lbs supports.
Grand total, 16.50 for a DVD Rack.




Corner Shelf in the kitchen.
I have a tiny kitchen, really...it's small.
And a lot of the counter space is taken up in this very awkward corner. So, we solved the problem by putting up a shelf and making more useful space. Which, I promptly filled with owls. My husband is a saint. Really. But if you look carefully, there is a cheese shredder and some meat thermometers, so it's still useful space! Plus, it all matches my wallpaper!
Total Materials,
One corner shelf  at 1.50, two brackets for 1.00 each.
Grand Total, 3.50.





So While we're on about corner shelves, okay...I'm the only one that's on about them...but anyways..
These are incredibly useful for getting speakers up and out of the way for cheap surround sound. This is one of the inverted shelves that keeps the speaker in place better. This speaker sits up above the DVD rack, and it matches. Bonus.
Grand Total, 3.50.





Microwave Shelf.
So, as I mentioned, my kitchen is very small. Which means very limited counter space.
So, the solution to having limited counter space and a microwave is putting this shelf up on an empty wall. You'll notice the baskets on the top, which give additional and attractive storage.
Sitting right above it, are my tea pots. They stretch the length of the windows, and add a nice homey touch to the kitchen. Without the shelves, they would be packed away in boxes. And what good are they then?

Grand Total for all the shelves, 16.00





So, the shelves are so attractive that we (meaning me, seriously my husband cringes when I say "Honey, I have an idea")  decided to make a table. My husband is a wonderful sport and a great carpenter.
So, now we have an end table that matches the DVD rack and the corner shelf. It's a two tiered table, with storage bins on the second shelf that contain my yarn for crafting and some of my photography supplies.  So not only so we have a functional and attractive table, we also have more storage space.
Total Materials, 2 four foot shelves, 2 1X2 inch boards, flat & corner brackets for joining shelves.
Total Cost, 26.00




Shoe rack/bookshelf
I have a lot of shoes. More than I should have, according to people who aren't me. I say, BUY ALL THE SHOES! The Crocs are for gardening, don't judge! They are comfy! Anyways...
The shoes need to go somewhere, somewhere off the floor. And under the bed is full. *coughs*
So, voila!
Granted, prefab bookshelves can be purchased for about the same price. However, they are not built to space specifications and the "wood" starts to peel off pretty quickly.  I've found that the prefab bookshelves tend to be wider and deeper, making the protrude more into what little space remains.
I much prefer hand made.
Total Cost, 20.00

So, after all this I hope some of you have some ideas for making more useable space in your homes, no matter the size of your home.



Dollar Store Find!

So, my kids love squirt guns. Thing is, I freaking hate them. They break like mad, they are hard for little kids to fill and they hardly squirt anything before you have to refill them again. Then you lose the cap for the water reservoir, and the water doesn't stay in. Pain in the behind to keep water in them, and so on.
So, browsing at the dollar store one day, I find these.




These things are great!
They are like big syringes that shoot an impressive amount of water. Even the smallest kids can fill these on their own from a big bucket of water. All they do is pull back on the handle, and water is there. Shoot and repeat. Plus, for parents who don't like gun imagery, these things are perfect.
Best part, they are only a dollar and have lasted us nearly all summer. And if ones does break, big whoop. It's a buck!
I found these at Dollar Tree.