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DIY Network: WHAM BAM, It’s A $50 Patio Upgrade!

May 31, 2012   //  Posted in: Backyard, Deck, DIY, DIY Network Projects   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses
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Our new Crate & Barrel umbrella has gotten a lot of exercise over the last few weeks; it’s 9-foot wingspan brings generous shade to our deck, a luxury on any given sunny afternoon when I (or the dog, or friends stopping by for burgers) want to relax in the shade.

There are long-term plans to upgrade to a larger outdoor table since the glass top piece we have now is a short 42″, but it’s not in the budget immediately (yo, those sets are e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e). Outdoor furniture investments aside, my personal convictions lead me down a path of “it’s not broken, so why replace it so fast?”. And that’s why in this week’s post for DIY Network, you’ll see how I decided to upgrade my current outdoor set and save some serious dinero. It’s an easy a cure-all, and it that might just be what you need too. Check it out for yourself.

Bronzy updates to my outdoor furniture. Interested in learning more?

To see more of my posts on DIY Network, browse here.

Bring It On, Bassett

May 30, 2012   //  Posted in: Being Thrifty, Decor   //  By: Emily   //  13 responses
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It’s been awhile since I stumbled across a good garage sale furniture find; I scooped up a number of pieces the summer that I moved into the house, items like the trunk that I use as a coffee table (still, three years later, even though it was going to be temporary), wicker chairs that sat in the sunroom for a few years, and the kitchen island, but these days I’m stuck in that tough spot where I’m prevented from accumulating anything because I don’t have anywhere to put it.

Many of the garage sales this spring have been pretty lame, mostly because its the same homes putting out the stuff that didn’t sell from last year’s garage sale, and that’s no fun. But we did come across a great (new) sale over the weekend, at which we scored ourselves this little treasure. OK, big treasure. A big treasure that might not fit anywhere in our already furniture-packed house.

Brand old-new Bassett buffet! Win for me.

Side note: The beast could barely keep his emotional eyeballs in his dog skull… a bicycle was riding by at the moment I said “STAY” and snapped the photo.

The new-to-me buffet is nothing like what I normally find at garage sales in my town, and it’s possible that the seller didn’t know what he had either. When I asked what the price was, I expected to hear $50-100, no exceptions, so imagine my surprise when I heard “Take it for $15, but how are you going to strap it to your scooter?”

Stamped Bassett Furniture Industries, Inc., it’s a hardwood, dovetailed, mid-century piece with three drawers and a side cabinet. And according to some similar products on eBay, craigslist, and in online shops, it might have more appropriately priced between $150-$600, no lie. It’s purrrdy.

Bassett Buffet stamp.

Purrrdy and full of yummy mid-century modern taste, yes, but it’s not without its share of damage; the top of the table in particular has deep scratches and water damage, but I don’t think it’s beyond repair. Wait and see.

Damaged surface? No biggie, still a worthwhile piece. I think.

The drawers open easily, and they’re not too filthy either. No cat bones or sketchy stains or raunchy smells, at least. The green felt lining beneath the silverware tray will have to go, but generally speaking, it’s assemblage is very strong (and it’s very heavy).

Nice drawers, a set of three.

Really, I don’t even have any cloth napkins or table cloths, but maybe that’s because I’ve never had an adequate space to store them. Ahh, the world of possibilities has opened before me.

Storage in the new buffet

Any good finds lately?

White On White (And Other Projects That Were A #megafail)

May 29, 2012   //  Posted in: DIY   //  By: Emily   //  9 responses
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Not all of my projects go well. There was the time that I mis-wired a lamp and exploded its on-off switch. There were sparks and everything. There was the time that tried to add a fancy border to my fireplace surround and it looked like a child’s drawing. And then there were these. Some little projects that almost were, but never actually saw the light of the blog until now because they started out so terribly that I never bothered to finish them. Blogger friends, we’ve all done it. What are your #megafail tales?

1. White on White

Something that started innocently as an effort to upcycle some leftover plywood and replicate something that I saw so craftily made in Anthropologie bombed big time (and I’m still getting over it). The plywood itself I’ve been saving and moving around from apartment to apartment to apartment to house since 2006. Painted by my long-time friend Katie for her then-roommate, it served as a one-of-a-kind desktop. When it came time to trash or save it when she moved out of the apartment we shared, I saved it. I still think it’ll be a pretty accent somewhere, someday, even if it does say “JESS” up the right corner.

An original piece by artist Katie Duane.

To get it out of the garage during our recent spring cleanout, I moved it into the sunroom and sawed 15″ off the end evenly so that it would hang easily on the largest open wall without windows. I didn’t lose the cursive-written name, just the star at the end, really.

Because the whole sunroom is still white (and actually the only room with walls that I have not yet painted), I wanted to create a little low-profile, low-focal point piece of art to add a little texture. I slathered some white primer along the unfinished backside of the art, and then set out to mimic a layered tissue-paper design that I had seen in Anthropologie.

The tissue paper itself, I painted using a very light gray, almost white, paint that I had in my leftover paint stash. To create some visual interest, I painted a stripe on each piece of tissue paper and then let it dry.

Art-attempt in progress, with paint and common tracing paper.

To create the layered effect, I used polyurethane like one might use mod podge, and painted it beneath and on top of each piece of tissue paper to create a mixed media collage type of effect.

Planning to get started on the art that would be a failure.

It was pretty evident early on that this was going to be a bust. The paper wasn’t laying smooth, I couldn’t brush the ripples out.

Art, really starting to be a failure.

And even after it dried, the white paint beneath the clear coat of poly was barely visible because the transparency of the tissue paper made it blend in too closely with the primed plywood. I finished over half of it, called it a night to see how it would look in the morning, and then scrapped it.

Art, really starting to be a failure.

On to another plan. Will keep you attuned.

2. The Paper Lampshade

Meet the old cute lamp that belongs to Pete, and a Walmart lampshade that I befriended during college. Neither still in use, I decided to use the lampshade structure to frame out a new shade for the green light.

Subjects: Lamp. And Lampshade.

It started out something like this, wherein I demolished the lampshade with my teeth and left it’s skin for dead. What I hoped would be salvable, besides the welded metal that allows you to screw the new shade onto the existing light, was that plastic framing that gave the shade its structure. In reality, it ended up being weird and fuzzy without its fur attached.

I seriously destroyed this lampshade.

Maybe I could cover up the lampshade plastic with a cute ruffly paper design though. No? This attempt looks taped together and assembled as well as the paper princess crowns that the kids make a the Museum of Play. Am I right, or am I right?

Failed paper lampshade.

And that’s a #megafail.

3. Don’t even bother with the faux-milk glass thing, OK?

It’s enough that I tried it and put it through its rigors. Not worth it.

Jars and vases on the bookshelf. How's that for milky glass?

I still see tutorials for DIY milk glass all over the pinterest-vere but from experience, three things happened:

  • The paint took about 6-months to dry. I’m not exaggerating; there wasn’t enough circulation, particularly in the more funnel-shaped IKEA vase, to cure the paint sufficiently.
  • When it did dry, it was streaky. I was careful to have clean glasses, and I was careful to rotate them while they were dripping and curing for the first day, but the paint still slid down the edges giving the dried pieces a runny-looking effect.
  • They’re not good for anything; not real flowers, which appeared paint-poisoned within a day of sitting in the jar, and not fake stems or branches, because they scratch it up from the inside so much that it destroys whatever not-streaky finish remains.

Live and learn, but that’s a #megafail. Just avoid it. Save your paint and time and pretty containers.

What have you attempted lately but totally screwed up in execution?