Well, I promised you the thrilling tale of a DIY console table and today, you're going to get it.

Before we get to the instructions, I need to say something. I like my apartment. It's got character. It's a decent size. We have a guest room. We have lots of storage, free parking and free laundry. And it's cheap. Really cheap. So, of course, it's got it's quirks. The building is old. And dusty. (Endlessly dusty.) And we're plagued by draughts. Lots of draughts. And yes, the front door opens directly into the living room, and people bring in an endless stream of slush and stuff all winter long, and even when they don't, it was a pain to have no place for purses, mail and shoes.  Besides that, there's something disconcerting about entering right into a living space, with no transitional area.

The console table was the solution I came up with.  Using the materials listed in the last post, here's how you do it:

  • Attach four leg plates to the four corners of each of the two pine boards (eight plates, total). One board will be the top, one will be the shelf.
  • Screw the four long legs into the shelf board and the four short legs into the top board.
  • Place the top part of the table on the shelf and draw circles around the spots where the short legs meet the top of the shelf.
  • Secure the top of the table to the shelf in whatever method suits you. I came up with a makeshift method that worked well:
  • Drill small holes in the centre of each little circle.
  • Hammer four small nails into the bottom centre of each of the four short legs, leaving an amount of nail head protruding.
  • Line the protruding nail heads up with the holes in the shelf top so that the nail heads go into the holes and the whole thing is flush.
  • Reinforce with wood glue where the short wooden legs meet the shelf top.
  • Paint the whole darn thing.
Is it the most beautiful thing I've ever made? No, but it works and people tell me it doesn't look home made. I haven't dressed it properly yet (too strapped for time) but the photo above gives you the general idea. Mirror ($9.99), cork board ($4.99), umbrella stand ($12.99), letter stand ($2.99), etc. I mounted a  few hooks next to it and voila: instant entry. You can do it too, I promise.
Problem 1: Awkward front door opening directly into fairly snug living room. No vestibule. No hall. No foyer. No nothing.

Desired: Hall-like area, suitable for umbrellas, shoes, and a couple coats. Table for mail, keys and last minute touch-ups.

Problem 2: No money.

Problem 3: Very little space.

Solution: A DIY console table.

Plan: Simple materials from any large hardware or building supply store, paint, gumption and a screwdriver, of course. Want to make a console table of your very own for less than $100? Here's what you'll need:
  • 2 pine boards (try Rona, Home Depot or similar) -- $6.99 each.
  • 4 long Waddell hardwood early American table legs (28") -- $10 each (or less).
  • 4 short Waddell table legs (3-4" or buns) -- $3 each.
  • 8 Waddell leg plates (standard) -- $2 each.
  • 1 small can of paint (black) -- $15 or less.
Total cost: $97 (approx.)

Think I can do it?
Nate and I spent a day at the Museum recently. (The Royal Ontario Museum, or ROM, for you out-of-towners.) I went reluctantly. I was tired. And I'm a bit agoraphobic when it comes to crowds and lines, and anyway, I told him, I've seen the museum before. Many times before.

Before I got interested in all this crazy housewares and decor stuff, that is.

Suddenly the ROM's a totally new experience. Parts of the place that used to bore me -- the European Galleries, for example -- are suddenly absorbing. Past the suits of armor (frequented by young men, you'll find) are all sorts of interesting things, like gorgeous deco furniture to extensive displays of coloured glass and other kitchenware. I saw a small glass jug literally identical to a Salvation Army one I found a few weeks ago. Seriously. It was like the ROM was justifying my very existence. (Are my pursuits legitimate? Um, the ROM thinks so, thankyouverymuch.)

Upstairs is something completely new: the Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles and Costume. It's not exactly packed with stuff, but there are some nice quilts and fashion history pieces that I enjoyed.

Even the Natural History Galleries appeal more than they used to thanks to the Earth's Treasures area, devoted to all manner of rocks, minerals and gemstones. The area includes jewelery, a lot of what's currently on display having come from one Rose Torno, whose husband used to be on ROM board or something and was obviously into the big-time bling.

And yes, they still have the dinosaurs. Go! Go now. At more than $20 per person, per visit, it's not cheap, but I was pleasantly surprised.

*Jasperware photo by Rebecca Partington.

Ugh. Winter is a killing time.

I love the winter, of course. I love the holidays. But I look forward to putting it all away. To wrapping and boxing the decorations, to breaking down the tree, to sweeping up the needles and pulling down the cards.

And then February comes along. And it's awful. No matter how clean and fresh I make January, February is awful.

When I lived in Vancouver, it was easier. Spring comes early there (as those idiots at the Olympics are finding). But in Toronto, February is hard.
In an effort to feel better, I plan to think positive thoughts. Or at least, less negative thoughts. And then, with any luck, the spring will come.

Way back in 2003, when I was bored at work, living alone, addicted to magazines, and bored (did I say bored?) I found some little pictures I liked, cut them up, glued magnets to the back and stuck the lot up on my fridge.It was an ongoing project.
In addition to the Muybridge photos (Lady kicking a hat). I used photos of old magazine covers - mini mags (usually found in retrospective anniversary issues of contemporary magazines). I loved old Glamour magazine covers especially.

I made a lot of magnets. The project was featured way back in Hatch, the Design Public blog, as inspiration for artwork hanging.

It's a really simple project.

Here are the steps:
  • Find some small pictures you like and cut them out.
  • Glue them to tough cardboard and neatly trim the edges.
  • Glue magnets to the back. (I used that flexible, rolled, magnetic tape with the adhesive strip on the back. I reinforced the seal with a regular glue stick.)
  • They won't last forever this way, of course. If you like, you could spray them with a little clear lacquer to make them a little tougher. 
  • Package in a little box and you've got yourself a stocking stuffer.
Cute, right? Now, remember, you shouldn't sell these. Depending on what sort of pictures you use, you may be appropriating someone else's artwork or photography. (And actually, unless you're using photos you took yourself, you will be.) So keep it simple and make these magnets for yourself or a friend, but don't get all capitalist about it.
I'm no Diane Keaton. In addition to being thirty years younger and significantly more jiggly (in all areas), I just don't have what it takes to rock the menswear look.

Nonetheless I am addicted to vintage ties these days. ADDICTED. Even if I only have five minutes, if I pass a Goodwill, I will pop in just to take a quick peep at the ties. (If I only have five minutes, I try not to look at anything else, because if I see something I can't have or can't carry out I know it will only annoy me, but I a tie I can get for the price of a coffee, and if I find one in my bag, I can be sure it will fit in my purse.) Anyway.

Ties. I found this clover-motif one just last week. Price? $2.99. Designer? Paul Smith. Original price? Not sure, actually, but ties on the current website sell for a minimum of 59.00 British pounds, which is over $100 Canadian dollars. Deal? As always ... YES!

Paul Smith is a fashion guru I don't  know much about. (See menswear/jiggly thing, above.) He's a white guy, aging, dapper. I'm not sure what line this tie comes from (do you?) What I know is how much I love it. The graphic pattern, the sheen, the heft of it. It's a beautiful thing. My man wore it to Christmas dinner. But he's really not much of a tie guy, so maybe I'll ultimately include it in some sort of create design project. I'll let you know.

More tie finds to come. (Including a HUGE bounty of ties by Elsa Schiaparelli, also snagged at my local Goodwill.)

So recently, I posted about how I wanted to so something with  mixed patters in my (newish) bedroom. I wanted to spend no less than $100 and as an inspiration point, I was using two small Alvine pillows from IKEA.

The bedding is all done and I love the result, so I'm going to break it down here. First challenge? Pattern mixing. This was the hardest thing to manage. The thing is, it turns out the experts were right. If you keep things in the same colour family and tone, you can mix patterns until the cows come home. It works. I used six different patterns and/or tones of blue. The next issue was cost. Spending less than $100 wasn't easy, but with a little creative duvet-making and some Value Village luck, it was doable. Here's what I bought:

2 throw pillows from IKEA, $12.
1 sheet set from Winners (containing a flat sheet, a fitted sheet and two pillow cases), $30 on clearance.
1 throw blanket from Winners, $20 on clearance.
1 flat sheet from Value Village $8
2 pillow cases from Value Village, $6
2 velvet curtain panels, $24
Total budget:  $100, exactly. BELIEVE IT! Actually, a teeny bit less because I rounded up when prices were, say $2.99 or whatnot. And in the interests of full disclosure I should say that I am not inlcuded tax in these amounts. Still, I feel pretty good about it, especially since the curtains were an impulse purchase and not included in the original plan. (They're not shown, but they're basic blue velvet and they really helped pull things together.)
Lastly, we should talk about steps: For the most part, everything was off the rack and the whole job required little work, but I did decide to make my own duvet cover. The thing is, I had a flat sheet from the sheet set and I didn't want to use it for its intended purpose. I hate flat sheets. I hate how they tangle in the night and the time they add to bed-making in the morning. BUT I loved the pattern on the sheet set and didn't want it to go to waste. Anyway, I made my own simple cover by sewing the flat sheet to another solid colour flat sheet. It took a few hours because I did it by hand while watching television. It was easy, I swear. In fact, what I did was an iron-together edge with stitch whitchery stuff that I had sitting in my tool box (from old IKEA curtains I never hemmed). Then, I did a long running stitch to reinforce it. Worked like a charm. The result? A perfectly coordinated duvet cover, with pattern on one side and a solid colour on the other. I love it. And when I feel like more pattern, I can reverse it and put the crazy side up (maybe best in summer).

Anyway. I feel my craptastic camera keeps it from looking it's very best, but nonetheless, you get the idea. Not bad for $100, I think. Sweet dreams, babies.
Well, the bedding experiment mentioned in my last post is complete. I have managed to mix no less than 5 patterns and textures and I love the result. I had to head to work in a rush this morning and haven't had time to take a picture yet, but I promise to post all about it ASAP.

Remember I said I was drawn to those IKEA Alvine textiles? Something about their french flavour. It's interesting. With that in mind, check out this Parisian room and post from Design*Sponge:
It's a shot from the home of Helena Amourdedieu. The paper is exactly what I was thinking of in terms of the flavour I hoped to create with my bedding. It's hand printed 'transitional' wallpaper by Lele Toni Kjeld. Transitional because the pattern changes as you go along. (Look left.)
Now, leaving aside the transitioning thing, I found that when I looked at the paper from a distance like this, I didn't like it anymore! That's what I feared would happen with my bedding. I wanted a smaller-scale pattern or patterns, but I sort of HATE the way the pattern looks at the distance. What to do?

Well, I tried to solve the problem. You'll see if I succeed soon.

Upcoming posts and projects include a DIY console table, some stuff on milk glass, and a bit of bragging about some of my great Goodwill finds from the last three weeks. See ya.