So, 'tis the season and all of that. I've been trying to decorate my apartment for Christmas, since those who worship Martha do that sort of thing and we're already five days into the month. (20 days to go, santa-lovers!)
Anyway, there are several issues to contend with at my house when it comes to holiday decorating:
1. Neither Nate nor I feels all that comfortable with religiously-themed holiday decor. (In other words, I'm into Santa, not so much the Baby Jesus. Sorry, mom.)
2. I'm cheap! I hate spending too much money on seasonal stuff and prefer things I can use year after year. But even then, I don't really want to spend/invest too much.
3. I am bored easily and like to mix things up a bit, but (as per #2) I don't want to have to spend money on new decor every year.
4. Space is an issue. We don't have a lot of free surfaces, spaces or walls.
Enter Dollarama! My not-so-secret shame. It feels like their xmas stuff gets better every year and when you go with little pieces, you can place them and style them in different ways if you get bored. Here's some of the stuff I snagged last week:
The clear plastic trees and the clear plastic reindeer are my favourite pieces so far. The trees LOOK cheap on the store shelf, but clustered in a bunch at home, they're surprisingly elegant. The reindeer are plastic, but look like high end glass or lucite. They work as ornaments, or as table top figurines. I bought eight - you know, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, etc. No Rudolph. I'm a purist.
I'm playing around now with placement. Where should these babies live? On the buffet? The coffee table? Should I surround them with fake snow? It's all up in the air.
Another thing I'm doing that falls under the category of "super cheap" is building a little holiday village of white buildings. This is an ongoing mini DIY project. Basically, every time I see one of those little hideous collectable houses for sale at Goodwill or the like, I snap it up. I never pay more than a buck or so per house. Then, I paint the houses with white primer. I've collected several over the last year, and have more still that I need to paint, but haven't gotten around to. Maybe one of these nights while I watch TV...
Anyway, folks. Those are the cheapo holiday things going on at my house at the moment. Got any cheapo ideas of your own?
So, remember I posted a little while back about the oyster shells I took home
with me after a recent dinner at Biff's
? Well, I was inspired by my web-friend Fiona Richards
(of Cartolina Cards) who mentioned having seen a mirror made with oyster shells that looked pretty good. I had the supplies on hand (a glue gun, a wood embroidery hoop, a little round mirror from the Dollarama), and I decided to give it a go. Here's how it turned out:
Don't you love how you can see me reflected in the mirror, taking the photo? (I do.)
Anyway, it's not my best effort, but I'm happy with how it turned out. I used a series of small, mismatched sea snail shells to fill in the gaps between the oyster shells. (Nate and I favour beachy vacations and I tend to pick up at least a few shells each time we go away, so I had some tucked away, but you can buy shells at craft stores and sometimes even dollar stores if you want to make shell crafts, but don't feel like gathering straight from nature.)
Since the shells were glued down with the concave side in, I didn't have to attach a hanging mechanism to the back of the mirror. The curved shells themselves hang perfectly over the end of a nail in the wall. I know because this wee shells starburst has joined the rest of my round mirrors on the wall of Nate's office, which are currently looking like this:
The new shell mirror is in the lower left corner. Look how wee it is! Adorable.
Successful crafting? Yes indeedy.
Guys, I know I haven't been posting much, but can we talk for a minute about what's going on in my living room right now?
My milk glass (milkglass?) collection is getting out of control. Remember when I first posted
about it, back in 2010? I had only a few pieces!
It was a reasonable little cluster. Manageable. Possibly even useful.
At the time, people told me that milk glass was a "gateway" collectable. And I sort of laughed it off, but I swear to you, collecting milk glass is addictive. I was a fool to ignore the warnings. I have no idea how I've managed to amass so many pieces in two short years, going from what you see above to THIS:
Sigh. I leave this with you as a warning: beware the milk glass. It multiplies!
Maybe that's why I haven't been blogging much... too much dusting to do.*
*Ha! Not. I don't dust. I let the dust/hair tumbleweeds roll the halls, unmolested, thankyouverymuch.
Okay, friends. I need your help.
See, I have this sofa. It's deco-era yellow vinyl number that I bought for only $100 (plus $30 in shipping) off Craigslist back in 2007. It has served me well and fits perfectly in our small living room.
It's a great little sofa. Solidly structured with foam and innards in good condition. Problem is, the vinyl is going. You can't tell in the pictures, but on the seat cushions, it's cracked and peeling like a mofo. It doesn't look good.
Now, here is my dilemma: I would love to keep the sofa. I've looked into having it reupholstered, and I estimate it will cost about $1200 to do so. Considering our personal finances, this is a LOT of money. For between $300 and $400, we could reupholster just the seat cushions and leave the rest of the frame as is, but again, it's a pretty pricey prospect.
I'm torn. I'm torn because I spent so little on the sofa to begin with, so perhaps spending a lot now isn't such a big deal. Then again, I could get a new sofa for less than reupholstering, and a new/old Craigslist model for WAY less. Financially speaking, a different sofa makes more sense. But I don't want to send this perfectly good piece to a landfill either, not when it can easily be rehabilitated to last another 20 years, in any fabric I want...
Speaking of which, here are a couple of the fabrics I've been considering were we to reupholster:
Trina Turk's Peacock, (which I think may be too much):
Dwell's IKAT Citrine:
I just don't know what to do. 1. Nothing. Live with the tears until we feel comfortable spending on redoing the sofa right.2. Reupholster: spend the money and get the sofa we want and the pleasure of knowing we saved something from landfill death. Try not to be so fussy about money.3. Reupholster just the cushions.4. Ditch this sofa and get something affordable new/old from Craigslist or similar.You guys are stylish and smart. Weigh in, would you? And if you have fabric ideas, I'd love to hear them. If we reupholster, we're going to have the lovely Staci at Switch Studio do the work.
.. which means we also will have to haul the piece to and from Oakville from Toronto...Sigh. I am paralysed. Help!
This is the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning:
Can you guess what it is?It's a mobile. (Sorta.) I made it by tying white threads to the stems of a bunch of fake, decorative pears, and then tying each one to a hook in the ceiling. (First, I painted the pears gold, which I wrote about in an old post.) My place is getting crowded, and while I loved the pears, I just
couldn't find a place for them on a table top... so I went vertical. Hanging things from the ceiling is one of my new favourite things. I love waking up to my pears every morning. They remind me of a country kitchen and of a story I read as a kid about a girl who dreamt of a crown of pears, which was supposed to be a mesage to "find her country." (
I'm probably not remembering it correctly.)
Anyway. Consider hanging something meaningful to you from a hook in the ceiling. It's fun!
First off, friends, my apartment was featured on Apartment Therapy today
. Abby Cook took photos that are way better than anything I can imagine taking, ever, so you should really check it out.In the piece, I mention my hall credenza, that I sort of built/upcycled from kitchen cabinets. Thought I'd use today to talk about how I made it.
Initially, my front hall (which is also a main wall in my living room) looked like this:
And it was fine, I guess. But it was also busy. And it started to annoy me. I turned the spines of my books backwards in an effort to create more calm, but it didn't really work. How could I store all the stuff I needed to store, while leaving plenty of room for people to walk down the hall? Closed bookcases? A shallow console? What?
I hunted around, but I couldn't find a piece that suited my needs ANYWHERE. Billy bookcases from IKEA (with doors) were an option, but I just didn't want Billys. Traditional consoles were too fat. So I decided to hack something together.
Here's what I used:
3 assembled kitchen cabinet uppers (Home Depot)
8 fence post spires for legs (Home Depot)
6 pieces of linking hardware (two-screw pieces, 3 across each seam)
Long wood screws (to drill down into the legs from inside the cabinets)
White primer and white paint + a "velvet" roller
6 ring pulls (Lee Valley Hardware) to attach to the centre of each door
Once the three cabinets were linked into one big long piece, and the spires were drilled into and attached as legs, the thing was a behemoth. I needed help to lift it upright. But it sure provides a lot of storage.
I stocked in my books and whatnot and lived with it in its dark brown form for awhile until I settled on painting it white. I should have used melamine paint, but I didn't. I used regular latex paint and primer. And such paint can chip easily. (It already has, in fact.) But oh well. Melamine paint is too hard to work with/too stinky. I didn't paint the insides of the cabinets. Only the outsides.
The final touch was adding brass hardware to the centre of each door.
Here's the end result, as shot by Abby for Apartment Therapy:
SO MUCH STORAGE and it's all hidden away. And in my opinion, it doesn't look like a set of kitchen cabinets anymore.
It's fantabulous if I do say so myself. (And I do. I do indeed.)
Hey dudes... guess what!?
We're getting close to Apartment Therapy day! Apparently, my house tour is set to be posted next week. (Woo woo!)
In the meantime, I have one sneak peek photo to show you, taken by the lovely Abby Cook (who shot our place for the feature). AND, it's a great picture to share because it really highlights one of my recent projects: bright door edging.
I was inspired to paint the edge of every door in our apartment after I saw the September 2001 issue of Martha Stewart Living. The mag featured this project among other easy ways to jazz up your doors and it seemed so simple, I couldn't wait to try it.
I did a different, complimentary or contrasting colour on every door. The guest room (shown above) has green accents, so I chose a bright acid green edge for that room. Our bathroom is dark chocolate brown, and I used a hot pink in there. In our dark blue bedroom, the door edge is now pumpkin orange, and in the dining room, it's teal. You could use any acrylic paint for this project, and I would recommend you apply it with a plain old artist paint brush. Don't bother taping. The door itself will guide you, and if you slip up, just wipe away your mistake with a wet rag. Acrylic is very easy to work with.In order to get a REALLY bright look, I went with
some of the new colours/paints from the Mantegna line, purchased at Woolfit's
in Toronto. (Any art store will have good paints. I went to Woolfit's because it's around the corner from my office.) You only need a little tube of any one colour to do each door, and you'll have paint left over.
This is an EXTREMELY fast and easy project. I highly recommend you try it. When your doors are closed, you won't notice the change at all, but when they're open, you get that pop of colour and it's fun and happy. Think about it.
See the "Luminous Green" shown on the right of the top-most line of colours? That's what you see in the first picture above.
Over the weekend, I hosted a little crafting get-together at my apartment. I wanted an excuse to work with the pine cones I've been hoarding for the last year. I've posted about these before.
When my niece was three, she helped me gather a whole bag full, and I've been trying to think of how to use them ever since.Here's what I finally settled on:
I got this garland idea from Twig and Thistle. Their DIY pine cone garland is really gorgeous. That said, the Twig and Thistle instructions are a bit difficult.
I doodled around with a bunch of different supplies before I settled on a plan of my own that yielded a similar effect, but was less work to execute.
I didn't bother with drilling holes in the cones, using screw hooks, or even ribbon. Instead, I used an old beaded necklace and attached the pine cones simply, with white thread and basic knots.
As a result, my cones hang horizontally, with the florets opening out, as opposed to pointing down, vertically. But I think they look good. Also, using a beaded necklace rather than ribbon meant I could just count out the same number of beads between each cone to end up with an even placement. (No measuring!)
I used an uneven number of cones (so one cone would fall in the centre of the garland) and eyeballed the sizes to make that centre cone the largest, moving out from the centre with cones in decreasing sizes, and placing the littlest cones on either end.
I knocked a couple of new nails into my mantle and strung it up. Done!
What do you think? Rustic and festive, right?
This would be an easy project to do with kids. Even the littlest little ones can gather pine cones, and if you consider paint, there are a lot of different possibilities for pretty garlands to match your decor. Let me know if you try it!
Remember when I wrote about wanting new dining room chairs and about how I'd decided on the (fake) Eiffel chairs from Kitchen Stuff Plus
? I never posted a reveal of how they look! So... that's what this is.
As you know, I'm no great shakes at photography, but what do you think? Good decision?
So. The Apartment Therapy photo shoot for my upcoming house tour has happened and I've finally been able to relax and stop tweaking and rearranging and "fixing" in preparation. The fact that Apartment Therapy was coming really put a fire under my bum to finish some projects, and in the next few weeks, I'll be posting about them. This one, I finished literally less than 12 hours before the photo shoot on Saturday. It's a huge piece of DIY drip art for my living room.
See, I have this big living room wall that I've been debating about. What I wanted for it was something perfect. Some perfect piece of art. And I was willing to wait until something that looked right and affordable came along. But with Apartment Therapy coming, I ran out of time. So last Friday night, I decided to DIY a temporary piece to fill the space instead. Here's how I did it:1. I garbage-picked a big square of plywood from an alley in my neighbourhood (you could also buy a canvas, but this was cheaper). 2. I cleaned the plywood with a damp rag.3. I primed the "front" of the piece with a couple coats of high-adhesive primer, applied with a smooth-finish velvet roller.4. I decided which side would be "up" in the painting, and turned the makeshift canvas upside down, so the "bottom" was at floor level.5. I used mat black paint (left over from a variety of other projects such as my front door makeover)
to brush a thick black strip along the top (which would eventually be the bottom) of the piece.6. I filled a plastic measuring cup with the same black paint and dribbled it along the black stripe so that globs and drips would start to crawl toward the floor. I kept doing this until I was happy with the effect.7. I blow dried the whole thing so I could install it right away (drilled directly into the wall), but even now, some of the globs are a little wet.No matter. It looks pretty good, in my opinion. Voila:
This is very much a "for now" piece. Something to do duty until I can find and afford something really special, but nonetheless, I'm quite fond of it. It was not a lot of work and it makes a big impact. Consider making something similar if, like me, you're looking for a space-filler, or even just a fun and messy art project.