Thursday, June 11, 2015

Chalkboard Letter Teacher Gift

In addition to a gift card from the class, I coordinated a crafty gift for my son's first grade teacher. This was her first year of teaching, so I wanted to give her something to remember her first class. I really wanted the kids to contribute to the gift, but I didn't want to send anything home for them to work on.

This is what I came up with:


I chose F because that's what her last name starts with. It was really easy to make and I think it will be a nice keepsake. I started with an unfinished wooden letter from Amazon. I spray painted the letter with some chalkboard paint I had on hand. You could also paint it with matte finish black spray paint for the same effect.


I used these chalk pins to write "2014-15 First Grade" on the letter.


It was only after I ordered the pens that I realized that the "chalk" could only be erased if used on nonporous finishes (i.e. NOT wood). So if you have a white paint pen laying around save your money and use it instead.

I stapled the ribbon (from my scrap bin) to back. Lastly, I had all of the kids in the class sign it. Lucky for me, they line up outside the school every morning before the bell rings, so I had lots of opportunities to collect signatures. A few kids still need to sign it, and they'll have a chance after the kids and I present it to her tomorrow.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Moving Through the Project Pile: School Chairs

I literally have a pile of unfinished furniture projects in my garage. Now that I have the space to work on them, and a largely empty house in need of furnishings, I've started tackling them.

I found these old school chairs in a neighbor's trash more than two years ago. There were at least 10 of them! I didn't have much storage space at the time so I only took two. None of them matched so I took the two that appeared to be in the best shape.



Sorry for the so-so pictures. I thought I had better before shots! Anyway, They both showed signs of being in the classroom for a long time, i.e. they had lots of student inflicted scratches, carvings, and markings. One is stamped 1960 on the bottom and the other has a Heywood Wakefield mark.

"Is Kathy nice?" 


That writing under the logo reads, "Charlie Reeder went to Hillandale Elementary School." 

I liked the character of the wear and tare, but also wanted to modernize my chairs a bit. I love this makeover via, Mamie Boude.  I really like her color choices and that she let the original finish shine through. 


One of my chairs had a big chunk of veneer missing from its back. After filling it with wood putty and sanding it, I decided to paint the front of both chair backs and leave the seats as is. 

Spoiler, the legs have already been painting in this photo. 
Before painting, I sanded all of the wood with my Black and Decker Mouse sander and sanding blocks. Next I cleaned the metal legs. I followed the advice of Jenny from Little Green Note Book and scrubbed the legs with a Pumie Scouring Stick and Bar Keepers Friend. 


This worked really well. I was able to remove most of the rust and all of the chipping paint on the metal legs. I gave the chairs a final wipe down with Windex before I started taping for spray paint. I covered all of the exposed wood with tape and cut up plastic grocery bags. Sorry I don't have a picture of this step! It took a while to cover all of the wood, but it was well worth it. The spray paint turned out great! I used a Rustoleum gloss spray paint in a color called Seaside. 

Here's one of the chairs post spray painting (the feet are still taped in this pic). 


Now for the fun part, painting the backs. Since the chairs are going in the playroom, I used the playroom fabrics as my inspiration for the color and design. 


This is the primary fabric for the room's roman shades. It is closer to the color of the chair legs in person. 


This Ikea fabric is the trim on the roman shades and the fabric I used to construct a tee-pee for the room - more on that in a later post. 

Rather than copying either of the fabric's patterns on the chairs, I used colors from the fabrics (white, pink, turquoise, and navy) and the thin stripes from both to create a very simple design. After painting the fronts of the chair backs white I taped thin stripes (three for each color in random patterns) on the chairs. I did not tape all at the same time, but each color at a time (so that they could overlap) starting with the lightest color. 


 In this picture you can see a faint blue line peeking through the white. I did not seal my tape edges with my base white when I painted this chair the first time around, and my turquoise paint bled right through the tape edges. I had to sand, repaint, and re-tape. Although this process wasn't difficult, it did take a while because I had to wait for the paint to dry between each step. 

After painting all of the stripes, I applied a coat of clear poly to the wood surfaces (including the newly painted backs). I am so happy with the finished product! 



In addition to these chairs I've also nearly finished a 100+ year old steamer trunk that I bought for $20! I hope to share that project as well as the completed playroom next week. 

If you hate waiting for me to update this blog, come follow me on Instagram @mandyfarn. I've been posting lots of project projects, thrifty finds and inspiration there. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Moving and a Pixel Project

So we finally moved into our new home! The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of unpacking, cleaning, painting, and working on a million other small projects like swapping out old toilets, updating all of the outlets and switches, and hanging new air vent covers. There is still much to be done. Its hard to take things one at a time, I feel like I keep jumping from project to project so nothing seems to be getting crossed off the list. 

Last week the kids were on spring break and I managed to line up a bunch of contractors (locksmith, electrician, TV mounting techs). I also got a lot accomplished in my mudroom, which is the only room in the house where I am removing the wallpaper and painting the trim (we paid a professional to do the rest of the house). I'll post more on that later, but the bottom line on wallpaper removal is - never. ever. again. 

Today, I thought I'd take a little break from the house to share a project I completed for a friend shortly before moving - some original textile art for her daughter's room. 

Her daughter recently turned three graduated to a big girl bed. On a recent shopping trip to Ikea my friend and I spotted this duvet cover
She didn't end up buying it, but she really liked the colors. Her daughter's room has grey walls, a yellow bed, and a very colorful rug. I really liked it too and it inspired two upholstered wall hangings. 


I had four thin 2.5'x2.5' pieces of wood that came in the bottom of West Elm boxes that were used to ship my new barstools. Each piece was a bit too thin for the staple gun, so I used two pieces of the wood (stapled together) for each wall hanging. 


To assemble them, I cut a piece of batting to be slightly larger than the wood, then placed a piece of white cotton fabric on top of it all.


 I flipped it over and stapled the batting a fabric layers to the wood, like you'd do if you were upholstering a dining chair seat. 


I cut a bunch squares out of five colors of quilting cotton (yellow, orange, pink, grey, and blue) backed with Heat N Bond (ultra hold). I cut my squares by hand, but you could also use a Silhouette machine to cut them.  I actually would use my machine to cut them next time around as it would ensure that all of the squares are the exact same size. 

I played around with my pixel images and settled on a butterfly and a heart. Once I was happy with my designs I ironed them on to the white upholstered squares. You could also use a graph paper to plan your design. 

Before ironing


Here's the finished project on my mantle. My friend hung them up using 3M Command picture hanging strips. I need to get over there to take a picture of them hanging in the room! 






Thursday, March 5, 2015

House Progress - Renovation Round 1

Today the hubby and I met our architect/designer at the house to review the latest plans for the master bathroom. It was the first time we've been in the house since our wonderful contractor, Mario from B and A Custom Painting, finished his work.  Even though I've been going to the house every other day or so, it was hard to see the progress through all of the tarps, tape and dust.

Mario and his crew spent six weeks tackling the following projects
  • Removing all of the wall paper
  • Repairing walls damaged by wall paper removal
  • Painting (all but a couple of rooms) 
  • Painting all trim
  • Removing a retiling foyer floor
  • Hanging two chandeliers
  • Refinishing floors in the office and den off the master bedroom
  • Gutting one of the two master bathrooms and prepping it for its new life as a walk in closet with a washer and dryer 

The dated tile has been replaced with marble laid in a herringbone pattern. The banister has been painted black and the spindles and trim have been painted white. The risers still need to be painted and a runner will be installed before we move in. We have selected a wool chevron runner to compliment the tile (sorry the picture isn't the best) 



The hubby and I removed the railing between the hallway and the living room. It makes the room feel so much brighter, lighter, and more modern. 


The den off the kitchen is now one of the brightest rooms in the house. We had the pine paneled walls painted a Benjamin Moore color called Wickham Gray. It really compliments the stone on the fireplace. I plan to remove the fire place screen before we move in. 


The dining room is also looking bigger and brighter. We really wanted to remove the door things around the windows, but it would require replacing the single pane windows behind them with really expensive custom windows. I am happy with our decision to paint them white, but I'm not thrilled about the decorative glass at the top of the doors. I have a plan for those.


I can't wait to move into the master bedroom, but we are going to wait until the master bath remodel is done. That bit of blue through the door is our new master closet. It was a mirror covered pink "hers" bathroom. More on this transformation in a future post. 


The basement is also nearing completion. I'm still working on the brick wall behind the bar. It will be painted the same color as the fireplace. The carpet won't be installed for a couple of weeks and I can't wait! The existing carpet is glue directly to the foundation (no padding) and looks like it belongs in a government office building. 

The kids rooms are also coming together. Thankfully there was no wall paper to be removed in their rooms. My goal is to have the kids rooms totally finished before moving in. 




The kids bathroom had a floral mural painted on most of the walls. The mural has been replaced by pink, white, and grey stripes. More on this project in a future post. 


Of all of the work that has been done to date, the wall paper removal was the biggest project. The entire foyer and living room (including the ceilings) were covered with grass cloth wallpaper that had been painted over. It was really difficult to remove and the walls were in rough shape after it all came down. Nearly every wall in the foyer and living room had to be re-skimmed. Mario's team did a BEAUTIFUL job and the walls look brand-new. 


Before we move in later this month, I plan to finish painting the brick in the basement and the risers on the foyer stairs. I also hope to get most of the curtains hung. The new runner for the foyer stairs and the carpet in the basement will be installed a couple of days before we move in. The hubby has been busy replacing all of the electrical outlets and switches and has a few more rooms to complete.

There's also a long list of projects that won't start until after we move in including:

  • Installation of TVs on several walls
  • Master bath remodel - we've settled on a design and we hope to start meeting with contractors and getting bids for this work in the next couple of weeks
  • Painting the office. I know many people would cringe at painting the dark wood, but I am set on painting it a glossy navy blue. 
  • Updating the bar (possibly replacing the counter top) 
  • Updating the kitchenette in the basement
And then there's the list of projects that we won't start for at least six months including: 
  • Replacing two retaining walls
  • Refreshing all of the bathrooms
  • Replacing the hot tub with a newer model
  • Gutting and completely remodeling the kitchen
Phew… I can't believe how much has already been accomplished! We still have a lot of work to do, but the house is really feeling starting to feel like our home. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

New House - Family Room Design

Although I am using a lot of the decor we had in our last home, there are a number of rooms that we either didn't have before, or that I have decided to decorate differently. One of the new rooms in this home is the large second family room in the basement. We anticipate that this is where we will spend most of our time hanging out as a family and entertaining friends.  Here's what I have planned for the space so far. 


1. We got a great deal on the Harding sectional sofa from Room & Board at their end of the year sale. Our sofa is a warm grey color called Kismet Putty. 

2, 3, and 4. I'm still in the process of picking fabrics for the sofa pillows. These are the current top contenders. #2 via fabric.com, #3 via Etsy, #4 via World Market

5. We have an ugly "nipple" light on one side of the room that I plan to center a table (#14) under. I love the look of this light - especially the fretwork that mimics the shape of the table top. 

6. and 7. Are the paint colors in the room. The walls (#7) are Benjamin Moore Seabring White and the brick wall will be Benjamin Moore Gray Mirage. 

8. We have a large bar in the basement that we are excited to use for entertaining. We got a great deal on these bar stools from West Elm (still on sale for $249 - reduced from $499!). The warm grey fits the room perfectly and I love the wood legs. 

9. I'm in the process of making 5 floor to ceiling panels for the windows. I think they'll really soften and brighten the room. I love this fabric from Fabric.com!

10. I have two rattan chairs that I had reupholstered last year in this fabric. I'm not sure if I'm going to use them by the sofa or if I should set them off in a separate area to create another conversation zone in the room. 

11. Unfortunately I don't have a link for the carpet. We are replacing the current very worn berber with a plush carpet that is taupe with flecks of grey. 

12. I'm not sure if I'll need to bring many lamps into the room or where I'd put them - but I love this lamp from Target. Its a steal at $39.99 and comes in several colors and sizes that would work well in the room. The color pictured is called Nighttime Blue. 

13. and 14. Last but not least, is my most recent craigslist find. I plan to paint the table Benjamin Moore's Deep Space in a high gloss. The table has two leaves and was a steal at $80! I haven't decided on chairs yet, but I have a few ideas. 

The room is coming together but I still have a lot of decisions to make - I need to find a coffee table, decide art to hang in the room, and figure out how I'm going to spruce up the bar. The walls have been painted and the carpet should be installed in a couple of weeks. I can't wait to share the before and after pictures of the space!



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