Category Archives: Personal Blips

A Tale of a Vintage Metal Bistro Set

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A Tale of a Vintage Metal Bistro Set

To say I’ve been obsessed with upholstery is an understatement. Its hard not to get passionate when the universe keeps providing signs that this is what you are supposed to be doing! And I will take the signs of cute, all be it sad and neglected, free pile furniture as a sign.  Dan would be quick to tell you its a sign of a future episode of Hoarders. But I take it as a sign I’m supposed to give life to once grand pieces.

When my neighbor moved out at the end of July and her vintage metal bistro set was up for grabs I knew it was left for me. Dan and I, very ninja like, swiped the table and chairs and carried it up our very steep drive way into the apartment.
The score of the summer PRE me working on it

The score of the summer PRE me working on it

Once in the apartment I examined the project. There are two bistro chairs with cute legs and a matching bistro table, all with a fair amount of surface rust but overall very study. Two very gross, smelly, cushions.  But the cherry of the set was the glass! The round glass top was in perfect condition and in tact! Working in a salvage yard, I have learned that the glass is the most sought after piece because without that the set is worthless. I had the set and the ambition. Now if I only knew how to clean surface rust off metal.
a close up of what lay ahead of me

a close up of what lay ahead of me

Table actually looked worse than the chairs...

Table actually looked worse than the chairs…

After some research I learned to clean surface rust you can either sand the metal OR sandblast the metal. I wanted to sandblast it! I watch the restoration shows all the time and it didn’t look THAT hard.  Sadly to say, it was going to be far too much work to sandblast the chairs and table. I was going to have to do it old school and sand the set.
But I am one smart gal and on my way home from HomeDepot, I had 2 sets of sand paper for metal, steal wool, gloves, and of course face masks.  SAFETY TIP: Do NOT sand metal without a mask! Breathing in the metal particles is bad for the lungs. On my way home I picked up some beer, I had no intentions of sanding the set alone and I knew Dan would need a little persuading, After one movie, a pack of beer, and lot of sandpaper, the set was sanded and ready for painting. I went with Rustoleum Shell White and a clear gloss protective coat.
Perfect for a vintage-y look

Perfect for a vintage-y look

I was at a loss for a cushion fabric.  I knew I wanted it to be a neutral fabric for easy resale but I still wanted it to have personality. While I was home in Eastern Wa visiting my mom, we found ourselves at the fabric store and there on the flat fold table was the perfect fabric: a blueish teal, Sumbrella outdoor fabric! Best part? It was on SALE! I snapped it up and in a day had 2 cute new cushions.
Check out the legs and curves!

Check out the legs and curves!

I ordered new feet for the set and got rubber glass bumpers but the rest was all down hill.   Once it was complete it was ready for sale.  Sadly (or not too sadly as I’m still not sure I want to sell the set) I didn’t finish it in time to sell before the end of the season.  At the moment, it is being stored safely in my storage unit waiting for the promise of warm sunny days ahead.
Secretly want it for my house ;)

Secretly want it for my house 😉

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Upholstery Summer

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Upholstery Summer

Over the past few weeks it went from 90 degree summer weather (Seattle had a HOT summer) to nice fall days.  With this weather change I’m ready to clean the dead plants off my porch, put away the grill (even though Dan is not), start cooking with the oven and crock pot again, dig out the jeans and boots, maybe even a coat, and of course, blog. Its not that I don’t want to blog during the summer or even that I don’t do projects in the summer, I just get busy with, well, summer things. And this summer has been no exception! While we didn’t go on vacation we did travel to Eastern WA several times to visit my family .  At work I was busy helping customers with their projects. I helped customers with everything from how to use salvaged material for small craft type items to giving advice on a bathroom remodel.  But don’t think for one moment I did not take my work home with me, because I would be a liar if I told you otherwise.

When not at work, spending time with family and friends, or enjoying my patio with Dan and cats I spent my days (and nights) learning everything I could about upholstery. With every book I read and every free (or nearly free) project I acquired, the more obsessed I became.

I started the summer with learning how to redo simple dinning chair seats, and gradually progressed to a paying customer and 4 evil box cushions for her amazing mid century chairs. Before I continue, I must say box cushions are not easy as YouTube videos make it out to be! It was at this moment I realized how lucky I was have a have a weekly class to attend for help and a great group of ladies from my class to support me! Otherwise those cushions would never have been finished and I would have given up forever.
The finished "dreaded" box cushions

The finished “dreaded” box cushions

But after that I treated myself to a shopping trip.  While most ladies love to go to the mall for clothes, shoes, and purses, Dan and celebrated the completion of the mid-century chairs with a trip to Harbor Freight.  For those who are unaware of Harbor Freight, its heaven on earth.  Ok maybe not heaven but pretty close! It’s a mid-range priced tool store, which is perfect for a beginner like me! I bought myself my very own upholstery gun, staples, air hoses for the air compressor I scored for a good deal a year ago, and all the fittings.  We ended up with a few more items but everything was about getting me set up!
At the end of July I scored big! A neighbor moved out and left the cutest vintage metal bistro set.  The “flip” of this set became my shinning moment, the moment where I realized that no matter how hard some things can be (I’m talking about you, you stupid box cushion) that this is truly one of my passions. Don’t worry I will be talking more about this set soon!
The score of the summer PRE me working on it

The score of the summer PRE me working on it

I’ve ended my upholstery filled summer with a storage unit. Lame right? But this unit now provides me with the space I need to store finished projects waiting for a good home, and a place for my to keep my unfinished projects! Now they are all cleared out of the living room…dinning room…office…bedroom…and my car. And once again I have the motivation and room to craft, upholster, create, cook, and live happily! Welcome Fall.
We were in the process of moving into the unit and out of my living room

We were in the process of moving into the unit and out of my living room

Feeling the Patriotic Love

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I’m sure you have figured out by now that I have a “thing” for decorating for the holidays and seasons. Recently I became bored with my decorations and began thinking of something different and new.  Dan made the observation I had very few patriotic decorations.  This isn’t due to being unamerican or anti-patriotic.  There just aren’t as many decorations out there to support the love of these holidays. So when I found a picture of a wooden stair spindle turned Uncle Sam on the great wide world of the internet I couldn’t resist. I immediately went shopping in the huge wooden spindle section at work and found the best one for Uncle Sam’s body.  I then trimmed it down to be level on both ends (which also made him shorter). I used the extra wood that was cut off for his hat. I also used 1×4 and 1×6 scrap material for the base and the base of his hat.  With a little bit of painting and a lot of fun playing with star buttons, I created my new favorite decoration.

What a great face!

What a great face!

Supplies:

1 wooden stair spindle

2″ square for hat

Sand paper

Scrap wood for the base and hat base

Blue, Red, White, and Flesh paint

Primer

Patriotic Star Buttons

3 Large wooden hearts

Permanent Marker

Painter’s Tape

Glue

 

Directions:

1) Sand the spindle so the paint will stick.

2) Prime the entire spindle; this makes it easier to paint and you will use less paint in the long run.

3) Paint the mid section of the spindle blue; apply several coats as needed.  This is his body so don’t paint the solid square parts as they are his legs and face.

4) Once the blue paint has dried, paint the lower square section of the spindle white.  Also paint the wood (hat) square white.  Apply several coats as needed.

5) Once the white paint is COMPLETELY dry, tape off stripes in the spindle base and hat.

6) Once the stripes have been taped off, paint over it with white paint; this will “seal” the tape and you will have less bleeding under the tape.

7) When the white paint has dried, paint over it with red paint.  This gives his pants and hat stripes. Remove painters tape once paint has dried.

8) Paint the hat base and wood base solid red.

9) Paint his face flesh colored.

10) Hot glue the base to the spindle, hat base to the top of the spindle, and the square onto the hat base.

11) Use the large wooden hearts to build a mustache. Cut 2 of the hearts in half with a knife (Think of a “ying” shape). Glue the 2 yings to the 3rd heart. They will be the “handle bars” on his beard/mustache.

12) Paint the beard white.

13) Glue the beard on the face of Uncle Sam.

14) Using a small paint brush and white paint make 2 small white lines on face as eye brows.  Then with a permanent marker make 2 round black dots for eyes.

15) Enjoy!

 

 

Mid Century Glory

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Around the apartment there are items we date with the letters BD (Before Dan).  I started doing this because I honestly can’t remember when I got an item/project . I can remember when I got it based on my relationship with Dan.  Right around the the time I met Dan, I acquired an amazing mid century teal chair. It was perfect! This sexy little chair had its original teal vinyl upholstery, dark stained legs, and brass feet. The moment I saw it I knew I had to have it! I had no room in the apartment for it, and my Mom who was with me when I fell in love, only encouraged me in to needing it. So the chair came home with me.

As it would be pointed out by Mr. Practical Dan I was wearing rose tinted glasses (seeing a pattern with me?). The chair wasn’t perfect. The upholstery had two giant tears in it, the legs were in desperate need of refinishing and the brass fee…to the untrained eye would have thought them to be rusty steel. But it was “perfect” and found its way into my living room where a blanket would cover the tears. Fast forward 2 plus years to December of 2014 when I discovered a new passion…Reupholstering.

My "dead" chair moments after class began

My “dead” chair moments after class began

This is something I have wanted to do for a while but never got around to.  So as a Birthday/Christmas present to myself I paid for an upholstery class.  I walked into class that first Monday of December with my coffee and chair and was ready to get down to business.

We started by removing all the staples, tacks, and nails in the original upholstery.  For my chair it went quickly (others were not so lucky) and within an hour I was on to the next step, buying fabric!!

I was panicked! I had no idea what fabric I wanted. I was worried the fabric would only look good on a small scale but over a whole chair, it would be tooo much. I was stressing and finally narrowed it down to two fabrics. Good old inny-minny decided the chair’s fate and I began cutting out the pieces needed to put my chair together. I left the first day of class in LOVE!! I was enjoying it soo much that I couldn’t wait for the next class.

The first of the two fabrics I considered for the chair

The first of the two fabrics I considered for the chair

The second and BEST option of fabric

The second and BEST option of fabric

Weeks two and three flew by in a blurr of stapling, laying out fabric, cotton stuffing, and sewing chair welting.

My chair without its teal

My chair without its teal

Here's the chair in the process of being reborn. I mean rebuilt

Here’s the chair in the process of being reborn. I mean rebuilt

My chair was coming together nicely until it came time to repair the chair itself.  Over the years, one of the wood joints had popped out of its socket and needed to be pushed back together. Sounds simple enough..WRONG!!! I bought a bar clamp to squeeze it together and used Dan’s muscles to tighten the clamp to apply even pressure to pop it back into place. Within moments, the bar clamp was bowing and creaking while the chair wasn’t moving at all.  Then, the clamp handle snaps off because we were cranking it too hard. Quickly, we grabbed a wrench added it to what was left of the handle and tightened the clamp and chair together. Add some wood glue and let it sit for several days (neither of us wanted to pull the clamp off) and it was ready to be finished.

 

Almost finished

Almost finished

 

Check out those legs

Check out those legs

As I walked into class for week four I was both sad and excited.  I didn’t want my class to end, yet I couldn’t wait to see my chair finished. Within 3 hours it was complete! It even has a dust cover on the bottom! You know the piece isn’t from Ikea when you have a dust cover! I have to say, I’m pretty proud of myself and my chair! And I can’t wait for spring when I can take another upholstery class!!

oooh lala

oooh lala

Cat tested! and Approved

Cat tested! and Approved

Please Don’t Look at The Mess

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Did you know a goldfish will grow to be the size of their bowl? The bigger the bowl, the larger they get. I am a bad goldfish! Over the course of 5 years, I have grown to fit my space.  When I first moved, my place was empty and huge as it should be coming from a 400sq ft place and moving into 875sq ft. I had to pare down when Dan moved in last year but I only did what needed to be done for him to move in.  Like most people I don’t like getting rid of MY stuff and I especially don’t like others (like Dan) helping me go through my stuff! It’s MY craft area, MY fabric, MY shoes; YOU stay out!

Due to not paring down enough, both of us acquiring more stuff in the past year, and wedding gifts, I lost a corner of my apartment. I could not handle it any more! So, WE sat down and discussed our options. We came up with two very viable ideas 1) we could move to a bigger space or 2) WE, as a team, could cut down on what we had.  While the first option was a fun idea, it wasn’t practical. So the team started to clean.

I was amazed at how easy it was as we finished the bedroom and hall closet in a day, the bathroom in an hour (we do not need to buy shampoo for a year), the kitchen in a day (the reward was getting to use new wedding gift pots and pans) and our storage locker in just 30 minutes. Not only was it easy, I felt satisfied to take the stuff to the GoodWill and know that it would be used and not collect dust in my closet.

My NEW favorite cupboard! Its nice not having Tupperware fall out at you

My NEW favorite cupboard! Its nice not having Tupperware fall out at you

All of that was easy! And with each area cleaned, the dreaded stacks became smaller and smaller until I could once again get into my craft/project area. That’s where I wanted to stop! But the TEAM (ie Dan) said if we were in cleaning mode we needed to finish and clean that area too. So he picked up a bottle or two of wine and we started.

The moment we "found" the part of the floor near my craft area

The moment we “found” the part of the floor near my craft area

It’s not finished, I would say the space is 85% complete. But what makes me happy about this whole process is that a year ago HE had to clean out HIS stuff to move into MY place.  I had to clean out MY stuff in MY space for HIM. Now we are cleaning out OUR stuff in OUR space.  It’s team work and everything is better as a team….OUR team!

My favorite picture from the honeymoon in San Fransisco

My favorite picture from the honeymoon in San Fransisco

2 months and several days later!!

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I’m back!! Back from where you might ask? What magical, fun, adventurous places have I been the past 2.5 months? What fun projects am I going to wow you with?  The answer is simple, I was no where doing nothing fun. I have been suffering from the wondrous summer broken arm.

The break my doctor said was BEAUTIFUL

The break my doctor said was BEAUTIFUL

I broke my left ulna about 3 inches from the elbow, can you say not fun? . Its amazing how debilitating a broken arm and a long arm cast (you know the annoying one that covers over the elbow) actually is! I’m not EVEN left handed!!!  My loving work family had to hide all power tools and most hand tools from me because I was convinced I could cut that lumber one handed. Rather than finding out we decided it would be best if I didn’t try. and since I had to rely on them to cut, and drill my projects together I lost interest and gave up. So I focused all my energy on the projects for my wedding…which I slowly lost interest in due to not being able to paint, strip, sand, cut, even THINK well one handed.

it was ONLY 90 the day my cast went on

it was ONLY 90 the day my cast went on

BUT like I said I’m BACK!!The cast came off 3 Tuesdays ago and while I’m still in a splint I have been cleared for projects!! And if I can say one thing for being in a cast is that it gave me a lot of time to plot my projects! Be prepared world because I’m back and ready to work!!

showing off my wedding fingers (and splint)

showing off my wedding fingers (and splint)

It is also important to add as a little side note that less than a week after my cast came off I got married! So also expect to see some an awesome salvage wedding project in the next few weeks!! OH AND an upholstery project, and the end of a project I JUST finished this morning…..like I said I’m BACK!

Partially Complete, Totally Happy

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When it comes to projects, I like to only brag about the finished ones. This is because if I bragged about EVERY partially finished project, I would spend my years bragging and not finishing. There is nothing like the rush I get when that project is complete and I get to cross it off my list. But every now and then a project is so massive, that, well bragging rights are deserved at the mid point.

The point I realized it was the cabinet or my sanity

The point I realized it was the cabinet or my sanity

The Craftsman Cabinet  has been a massive undertaking. I have stripped and stripped and stripped some more! I removed literally a 1/2 inch of paint from some places! It was fun to see all the colors my 100 year old cabinet had been. I then needed new hinges because I may have broken the not so original ones.

This WAS what it looked like for several months

This WAS what it looked like for several months

This was an epic adventure all of its own because I couldn’t replace the hinges with matching ones because I could not find them! So Dan had the great idea of doing different hinges. The ones I fell in love with were high end reproductions and were perfect…but not for $125. So I went to my work, grabbed a handful of the same style hinges and stripped the paint off, only to discover I had half brass and have steel hinges. I swapped out the brass and repeated the process. Because the hinges were different than the original Dan had to make the hinge grooves larger. I reattached the hardware (and added a few extra knobs).

Then replaced the top with premium old growth lumber from work. I sanded the whole thing several times and its partially complete!! In my mind, its no longer the eye sore of the corner (because I can close the doors and it’s clean again), paint will come eventually (I have the colors picked out in my mind). But for once, I’m trying to be happy with partially complete.

A rare view of the cabinet without the cat on it

A rare view of the cabinet without the cat on it

Gardening

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I have been ignoring my porch. Mostly because it is flower planting season and I didn’t have flowers. This is one of my favorite activities and I have been chomping at the bit to get flowers and get them planted. So over Memorial Day we started the project.  And of course with me it was a project! This year I wanted to add height to my porch and I have been researching to find the PERFECT way to do it.

I finally decided I would use vintage 18″ decorative cinder blocks to be the bases to outdoor shelves.  Simple right? WRONG!!! I could NOT find them anywhere (except for new at Home Depot). I had almost given up when the salvage crew found and brought back 4 for me! Lumber was easy to come by and shelves were made. Now time for flowers!

This was the start of the flowers (3 more flats were behind me)

This was the start of the flowers (3 more flats were behind me)

Dan and I grew up in two very different families and it always seems like we are doing a first for one of us.  For Dan buying garden plants was a first. So we came home with all sorts of different, random flowers.  We ordered a pizza and got to work. It was probably my favorite time planting EVER!! We planted until it was too dark to be on the porch then finished the next evening.  I have beautiful pots (including target pots, a copper wash tub, vintage wire window baskets, and a vintage outdoor lamp shade) filled with wonderful flowers and love.

Sometimes you have to stop to smell the flowers

Sometimes you have to stop to smell the flowers

Look closely and you will see a helper

Look closely and you will see a helper

All I can say is, once again I have the BEST porch in my complex! I’m ready to enjoy a glass of wine on my porch.

The corner Dan calls the waterfall

The corner Dan calls the waterfall

So we finished this corner at night...

So we finished this corner at night…

One of my favorite pots

One of my favorite pots

I sew needed a break

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Long before I became a paint stripping, hardware collecting, big project nut my mom introduced me to sewing. Nothing brings me more joy then going to the quilt shop and drooling over the rows and rows of pretty fabric.

I haven’t been in the sewing mood since Christmas.  Every time I would see my sewing machine or my fabric a pain of sadness and shame would hit me. I should have been wanting to sew. A week ago,  the sewing bug hit me! I busted out the “currently in progress” bin and picked a project (well two projects). I sat down and started to cut out my pieces, then I sewed, ironed, and trimmed corners. Next thing I know I’m showing Dan the new beautiful peacock pillow cases (I had just finished) for the bed. I had forgotten how fun it was to be able to start (and finish) a project in the span of an evening and the instant gratification of adding flare to the bedroom with simply changing pillowcases. Needless to say the pillow cases were just a start to what is coming next 😉

The rare sunny day in Seattle and the rarer day my bed is made

The rare sunny day in Seattle and the rarer day my bed is made

The whole beautiful reason I fell in love with my fabric

The whole beautiful reason I fell in love with my fabric

Sometimes even the Easter Bunny needs help

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My Mom is the BEST grandma (and mom) EVER!! She is always going above and beyond Grandma duties and spoils my niece and nephew something fierce.  When my nephew was learning to talk he decided that my mom was NOT going to be Grandma instead she would be Ma Mauk. Much to her annoyance the name stuck and now my niece (his younger sister) also refers to her as such.  Ma Mauk had plans for an Easter Bunny surprise for the kids at her house: She wanted a sandbox for the kids to play in.  It was funny she said this because that same morning I had been randomly looking at home made sandboxes (oh the power of getting sidetracked). So I quickly said I would BUILD her a sandbox and we (Dan and I) would bring it home Saturday before Easter in pre-made chunks and finish assembling it Easter morning.

She agreed and approved to the sandbox plan.  Having once been a kid with a sandbox (and cats) I knew it needed a lid! And knowing Ma Mauk it needed to be adult friendly (ie a bench) because she would be in the sandbox digging tunnels, scooping dirt, building castles and so on. So I found an image (and a blog with directions) and we set out to the Lumber Store. Now I’m going to be honest, I have never purchased NEW lumber without my Dad but I had done it several times with him; I had it covered.  Dan and I spent a date night at the hardware store (my FAV) and just as we had finished gathering all the materials needed Dan noticed something.  I had picked out very nice wood, cedar to be exact, for weather resistance. But Dan (full cart of lumber) says to me, “Babe, do you realize you have almost $200 worth of sandbox wood on the cart”. WHAT?!?! It was only going to cost me $70! How did I get a $200 sandbox?!?! I quickly realize I was buying premium lumber (at $20 a stick). Panicking, I call for help!

“So Dad, I’m building a sandbox……”. Thankfully my Dad (200 miles away) set me straight on what I was supposed to be buying and I made it out of the store with all the hardware and lumber for $70! MUCH better than $200!

The cut lumber waiting to be loaded into my car

The cut lumber waiting to be loaded into my car

Help! I have half a sandbox for a coffee table

Help! I have half a sandbox for a coffee table

Dan met me at work the following day to help me cut the lumber with the work saws and then the cut lumber traveled in my car for almost a week. We both tend to procrastinate. But we finally brought the lumber in; I pre-drilled and counter sunk the holes. tThen while I made Easter cookies, Dan attached everything and loaded it back into my car.  The rest can be said in pictures:

Easter Morning Prep

Easter Morning Prep

Waiting for the fun to start

Waiting for the fun to start

The finished product, MaMauk and all

The finished product, MaMauk and all