Tiling The Town

June 22, 2012   //  Posted in: Being Thrifty   //  By: Emily   //  3 responses

Once upon a time (last Friday) I saw on facebook that one of my favorite local restoration shops (ReHouse) was having a “take-all-of-our-tile” sale in preparation for its big move uptown (fill a box for $5!). I’ve often scoured the assortment of used/salvaged and unused/leftover tiles that the store has managed to acquire, even scoring one here and there for myself for 10- to 50-cents a piece, but not really having good reason to invest in a mass quantity at any point in time.

This particular $5 deal, complimented by the store’s 25% off everything and 30% off lighting and plumbing sale that’s on through the end of June, was something I couldn’t pass up regardless of what tiles I was actually going to come across. Sometimes it seems like a gold mine, other times, a trash pile, but with a creative mind there’s always a way to make use of the salvaged products.

Whole wall of tile-filled boxes to rummage through? Yes, please.

Limited only by weight, I successfully brought home a cardboard box filled with 72-pounds of tile.

Yeah, I put it on our bathroom scale when I got home, and yeah, I was surprised that I could carry 72 pounds all by myself too.

Overall, it was quite an assortment. I lucked into a bunch of unused tiles which are harder to find at shops like this, but also took a bunch of pre-mortared tiles as well. Even though they won’t be ideal for use in a hard core construction scenario (the dried mortar won’t stick properly or lay as nicely against fresh mortar the same way a clean tile would), I think they’ll be plenty nice for a plethora of decor projects.

Hitting the big time in salvaged tile!

Among my favorites is this large 12×24″ tile (originally salvage-priced at $3). It might make for an oversized hot plate on the dining room table, or a piece of wall art. I also really liked the assortment of hexagonal tiles in both marble and ceramic. Not shown in this below photo, there were also dozens of 4″ square terra cotta tiles, 3 sizable pieces of rough slate, and a rainbow of vintage ceramic tiles, even though I focused on saving the blues, greens, and teal shades.

I have a thing for hexagons.

The possibilities are endless, but I’m already in the midst of working on a new project. It’ll be nice to see it come together over the weekend.

Working on a little tiled project ;)

More to come on that project next week! Hopefully it turns out as well as I’m planning.

Big salvaging plans this weekend? Remember, if you’re local, head down to ReHouse for some great moving sale deals!

DIY Network: Power Organization

June 21, 2012   //  Posted in: Backyard, DIY Network Projects, Garage, Tools   //  By: Emily   //  one response

You know how much we like getting our tool organization on. It’s kind of our thing. Having a clean space makes projects more efficient, not to mention safer, so after making over our entire garage last month, the pressure was on to get the shed in the backyard in shape just the same so that we could once again access essentials, like the lawn mower and gardening snips.

Everyone has their own obstacles to deal with when organizing a small storage space, but I think the results of our 100 sq. ft. shed organization project go to show that it a little bit can go a long way (and in a way, it gives us permission to buy more tools since there really is room to store them… high five).

Check out the entire tale in this week’s post on DIY Network. I think you’ll find a few good storage nuggets in there.

Getting my shed organization on this week for DIY Network!

P.S. Those are the Popeye forearms I referred to yesterday. Zoink.

Sitting Right (An Elaborate Tutorial On Comfort)

June 20, 2012   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY, Sunroom   //  By: Emily   //  16 responses

Squeal! Today’s post is super photo-heavy, so to make the whole project more digestible, I’ve broken it into a few scrollable sections. Even I have a short attention span when it comes to DIY projects, so I also went back to formatting photo galleries instead of using big-ol’-full-screen images all over the place. Just remember that you can click on the images to view the entire slide show full-size! Enjoy.

I special-requested a set of wooden folding chairs from my parents about a month ago with a great DIY project in mind:

Go head, pin your little heart out.


These perfect little sunroom chairs are a great height for our new table, light enough to move about as we wish, perfect for extra seating without being too formal, except they are a little hard on the tush when you’re sitting and working all day long. You’d know this if you’ve been to weddings or VFW events or 4-hour high school graduations where these wooden chairs are often brought in as rentals.

New sunroom chairs, perfect height for the table.

The inspiration for these chairs stemmed from a favored design sold by Anthropologie, which I had pinned on Pinterest to keep them more top-of-mind:

Anthropologie chair as inspiration for the new wooden folding chairs.

Priced at $198, they’re more than a little bit out of my price range, and dropping $800 of my own seemed especially impractical considering that they’d be placed in a 3-season room that is beaten by extreme heat and extreme cold. Around my dining room table, maybe, but not in this secondary space so much.

So, as you already saw in the image at the top of this post, I set out to make my own. And I succeeded, keeping the budget below $50 for a set of 4.

Step 1: Make a base for the cushion.

I considered a few methods for seat cushion assembly before I really got started, but decided that instead of attaching the foam and fabric to the original seat of each folding chair, I would create a new wooden seat using leftover underlayment from our bathroom renovation last winter. Because it was scrap, my wooden bases were f-r-e-e (!) but you can pick up a small piece of plywood that’s about 1/4″ or 3/8″ thick for <$6 at the hardware store.

Starting with a simple newspaper template, I mapped out the surface area of the seat (fortunately, all four wooden seats were identical despite coming from different manufacturers and suppliers, so I only had to make one template). I did drop $4 and pick up some new jig saw blades at the store, opting for the finest blade in the store. That’s finest, in the sense of being capable of making fine cuts, not finest as in the finest/fairest jig saw blades in all the land. At 21 TPI (teeth-per inch), it’s well-suited for making really smooth cuts and curves, especially when you’re working with splintery wood like this underlayment or other thin plywoods. The thinner boards tend to reverberate a lot while you’re cutting, and in my experience, that seems to make the situation worse.

  • Template makin': scissors, tape, newspaper.
  • Template makin': scissors, tape, newspaper.
  • Use high TPI jig saw blades when you're looking to make fine cuts through thin wood. Bazinga, these worked swell.

With the template transferred to the piece of scrap underlayment, I set up shop on the back deck and carefully carved out all four seats. No in-progress photos of this, mostly because I was driving the saw with one hand and using my other hand and my entire body to keep the board from reverberating uncontrollably, and more importantly, from reverberating myself right off the edge of the deck. It worked though, they turned out really nice.

You’ll want to take your templates back to the seats themselves as you cut and make sure that they fit on top of the seat with absolutely no overhang.

All four chair seats.

*Note: You’ll see later in the post that I do go back and rip an extra 1/2″ from all edges of these seats; in testing out wrapping the fabric, it seemed like the wooden edge would rub against the fabric and potentially damage it. 

Step 2: Choose and chop seat foam.

There are plenty of foam options at the craft store, this you probably already know. You also probably already know that to get anything substantial, you have to pay up big time. One thing I really like about the inspiration chairs at Anthropologie is that they’re firm when you plop on them. There’s no chance of your rear hitting the wooden base of the seat, and no sense that you’re gradually going to leave a butt impression over time.

I held my breath for a few weeks until the foam selection at JoAnn’s was marked down 50% and then layered on the savings with an extra 10% off coupon, so my first-choice of 3″ high-density foam (2’x2.5′) cost about $24.

Make it easy on yourself and use a sharp serrated knife to saw through the foam. As shown here, I lined up the seats onto the foam, and then cut through to make the foam seats.

  • Organize the seats onto the piece of foam, and then cut the foam to size using a serrated bread knife.
  • Organize the seats onto the piece of foam, and then cut the foam to size using a serrated bread knife.
  • And voila, the foam should be matchy-matchy to the size of your pre-cut wooden seats.

This is where I started to wonder about whether the always-a-little-rough edge of the wood would want to rub unfavorably against the tightly wrapped seat fabrics (they would wrap over the foam and under the wooden seat templates). I decided to use the foam as a buffer to prevent the fabric from rubbing against the seat and wearing thin, so I took a 1/2″ sliver from each underlayment board so that it was scaled like this:

Best be safe and make the wooden seat surface a little smaller to prevent the fabric from wrapping directly around the edge.

The foam received a little bit of retrofitting too. I didn’t want a boxy square seat cushion, I wanted a nice beveled gradation to the seat cushion. To help the seat take this shape, I did a little DIY bevel using the same serrated knife to add that gradual grade to each side of the foam seat.

I added a little bevel to the edge of the chair cushion to lessen the chance of it looking "square".

Step 3: Buy fabric.

My fabric arsenal is becoming larger and larger these days, but what I had in mind for the seats of these chairs was a little more eccentric than anything I’ve used before. Scouring Etsy, I finally landed upon a shop out of the UK that sold African wax cotton fabric. The shop, Chilli Peppa, offered fat quarters measuring 18″x22″ for (what felt like fair) prices, so I selected three patterns. Yes, it was one of those “the shipping is more expensive than the product” moments, but each cost between $2.70-3.50, and with shipping the set came across the Atlantic for <$18.

Chilli Peppa wax cottons on etsy!

They took a few weeks to arrive thanks to customs, but when it did they were wonderful. Vibrant, bright, happy, but still holding some common ties to the olive and orange colors that flow throughout the rest of the house.

African Wax Cotton from Chilli Peppa on Etsy.

The fourth fabric, I decided I would pull from my own scrap stash. I had some leftover fabric from my first round of ottomans that would work well, and I knew I could tap into the vintage fabrics that I brought home from this garage sale earlier this spring.

Assorted fabrics to be used for the seat cushions.

Step 4: Sew, Sew, Sew, Assemble.

One more twist in the planned design of the seat covers: I wanted to combine a couple different fabrics on each seat. Shown in that above picture, I hand selected different textiles that would compliment the busier patterns when used on a chair seat.

I cut pieces of the chosen fabric to size, keeping them roughly 22″x15″ so that there was plenty of fabric to wrap around the seat and secure, and then sewed the complimentary pieces together. Once the pieces were sewn together, I ironed each seat cover and then sewed back over the seam for reinforcement. Maybe the pictures tell the story better, I’m no technically-articulate seamstress. Fire away questions if this is totally unclear.

  • Sewing together two complimentary pieces of fabric to form one of the four pillow seats.
  • Sewing together two complimentary pieces of fabric to form one of the four pillow seats.
  • Sewing a reinforcement along the pillow seat.

Once the four seat covers were sewn and ironed flat, it was time to wrap the seat and each piece of foam with its own piece of fabric. To secure the fabric tautly to the piece of underlayment board, I used some 1/4″ staples that we already owned (but if you need to buy them new, they only cost about $5 at the store).

1/4" staples for our electric staple gun: Long enough to reach through the fabric and the wooden underlayment seat, but short enough to not come in contact with our butts when we sit down.

Using my own body weight to compress the foam and staple the fabric in place, the process was pretty simple:

  • #1: Position the foam on top of the fabric.
  • #2: fold over one edge. staple it in place.
  • #3: double check the fabric's alignment.
  • #4: fold over and staple the other three edges.
  • #5: fold and staple corners of fabric.
  • #6: Voila! Your seat cushion is finished.

Here’s a better close up on how I worked the corners. Rather than wrap the corners with sharp, crisp edges like you’d make when you were wrapping a present, I bundled the fabric cleanly so that there we no severe creases on the top of the cushion. The whole bunch was secured with a smattering of staples. It worked really well, despite it looking sloppy.

Securing the corners of each cushion tight.

At this point, the fabric still feels a little bulky on the underside of the wooden board, even spilling overboard depending on how you tuck the excess. So trim it down.

There's likely to be excess fabric at the bottom when you position the seat in the chair. Remember to trim it down.

It’ll sit much nicer without the added bulk.

Step 5: Secure that puppy.

It didn’t take much to secure the new seat to the original folding chair seat. Instead of using adhesives or staples, I predrilled a hole from underneath the chair through the original seat and through the underlayment board, and filled it with a 3/4″ wood screw. The screw was long enough to securely attach the two seats to one another, and because I kept the chair stationed upright and my hand on top of the cushion to keep it perfectly in place, the seat was perfectly centered and locked down.

Wood screws are really secure, but an added benefit is that they’d also be easy to remove if I ever wanted to remove the cushions to rewrap them or eliminate them all together.

Yes, working at this angle is a great forearm workout. Call me Popeye.

Predrill and screw into the bottom of the seat, with the cushion perfectly positioned and held in place with your hand.

Once one screw was secured, I went back and added 3 additional screws to the bottom of each seat, so there are four total holding the cushion to the original seat.

It’s secure. They’re not wiggly, only entirely cushy. So there’s only one thing left to do:

Step 6: Sit and enjoy.

How to make Anthropologie inspired seat cushions.
How to make Anthropologie inspired seat cushions.

Make anything inspired lately?