Friday, May 20, 2011

five for friday

I've seen this iteration on many other blogs and thought it would be fun to do! One of the reasons that I don't seem to blog as much as I'd like is that I find these things I love and get bogged down and stressed with writing a full review. 'Five for Fridays' would be a great way to show some things I am loving, with just a little quick commentary.

I only recently learned about, but it's kind of amazing. Usually pretty great deals on anything and everything, snarky commentary, knowledgeable forum members...and the adrenaline-raising woot-off spent waiting for the ever-elusive 'bag of crap.' Check out Lifehacker's Guide to Woot for a crash course.

Both productivity tools that I have been using to help stay on track on hold myself accountable. I started out with minimum restrictions, but quickly elevated I rarely surf the web during 'work hours' and try and beat my time spent working. Rescuetime is a stand-alone program...the most basic version is free and that's probably all you'll need. StayFocused is a Chrome Extension, easy to add to the bookmark bar.

I knew a girl in college who used one of these and finally managed to track one down for myself. It's been a godsend during this particularly rainy May. Easy on the scalp, and gets my hair straight and dry. For volume and more body, I'll still use the round brush-and-dryer method, but this attachment is great for easy, casual days when I need to straighten quickly.

This wonderful new site for internet image clippers like me has been blogged about quite a bit in the last few weeks. My request to join was finally approved, and I've been pinning things left and right. I'm just starting to repin and follow others' boards. Much easier to generate idea boards then Polyvore, in my opinion.

Has also been blogged and reviewed ad nauseum, and with good reason. These things are amazing! I've never had luck with the Sephora nail stick-ons, but these are basically idiot-proof. I pick them up during Buy One, Get One 50% off sales at the drugstore, and get 2 uses out of each box. The glitters are great (you could never get that much coverage from the bottle), and the neons are perfect (never streaky like bottle polish). Dry to the touch on application, with no smell...they'd be perfect for a last-minute mani (if you have 10 minutes or so) just about anywhere. Oh and they really, truly last for over a week, chip-free!

Monday, May 9, 2011

quotable monday

As nervous as I was about this whole process, the one thing I didn't lose sleep over was the possibility of taking bin Laden out. Justice was done. And I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn't deserve what he got needs to have their head examined.

What asshole would burn Johan’s school’s brand new jungle gym w/ 20 foot’ flames at midnight last night? I hate you!

--Simon van Kempen on his twitter re: some psycho bastard setting fire to P.S. 29's playground, expressing the sentiments of pretty much everyone in the 'hood

Sunday, May 8, 2011

diy: how to fold corners when re-upholstering a chair

When I was looking through re-upholstery guides before working on my dining chairs, I didn't find many helpful bits on folding corners. When it came time to do them, after stapling the sides of my fabric down, I was at a loss. Luckily, I had two chances to get it right, since I hated my first chosen fabric and stapled a new fabric over it.

A few bits of info before getting started. I used 2-inch foam on my plywood slipseat, with 1-inch dacron batting on top. This made for a pretty thick, cushy seat, and corners that were exceptionally difficult to fold. Here is what I did (the second time around).

1) Staple the side of the fabric down. Start in the center of one side, then staple the opposite center, then the remaining centers, then staple out from those (smoothing and tugging the fabric along the edges as you go). Stop a few inches from each corner.
2) Make a small pleat and fold one corner over so it's parallel to the opposite edge. I made my fold with the pleat facing the side of the seat, not the corner. Staple it down once you have a satisfactory pleat, making sure to tuck excess fabric inside the fold to ensure a smooth edge. This is really difficult to explain, so hopefully the picture will be be helpful:
3) Your next fold will be from the other side of the corner, tucking the fabric in the same way you did the first fold. That is, both folds will go the same direction. The second fold will be stapled perpendicular to the first one. See how in the first picture I'm able to pull the fabric taut from the right side? That's how you get a clean corner and clean, tight edge.

4) Staple like a madwoman (madperson?) to ensure the fabric stays nice and tight and neatly folded away. You can always trim the excess fabric, and no one will ever see the mass of staples. You should end up with something like this:

Not too bad! Not perfect, but considering how much padding I was dealing with, it was the best I could do. Just tuck and pleat until you're happy with the fold, and then staple! Worse comes to worse, you can always pry the staple out and try again. Happy cornering!

Friday, May 6, 2011

diy: reupholstered dining chairs

There is something really fulfilling and comforting about having old furniture around. Take our 'new' dining chairs, which my family used for years before my parents upgraded their dining set and relegated these to the basement. They were the first dining chairs that my parents bought together in this country. Over 40 years later, Husband and I needed a proper set of chairs for our newly refinished street table, and we happily snagged these just before my parents were going to toss them.

Now, wicker/rattan isn't necessarily my favorite material, but it does add an interesting detail to the chair (and I feel like it's making a comeback...I've been seeing wicker furniture pop up in places like Restoration Hardware and ABC Home). Yes the vinyl (vinyl!!!) was all tore up. Yes the foam was nasty and flattened. But a dark espresso paint job, fresh foam and batting for the seats, and a modern, graphic fabric brought them out of the 70s and gave them new life! This project was a comedy of errors, but actually pretty simple if you learn from my mistakes.

* Spray primer (I used a brown primer from Rustoleum)
* Spray paint (Rustoleum Painter's Touch Ultra Cover in Satin Espresso)
* Minwax wipe-on poly in Semi-Gloss
* Comfort spray grip for paint cans (an absolute $7 spent)
* 2'' foam for seats
* Dacron batting for seats
* Fabric (both fabrics were ordered from Etsy)
* Staple gun & lots of staples
* Spray adhesive

The painting itself was really simple. The coverage was superb...I did get a few drips here and there from spraying too much paint in one area, but it's hardly noticeable because of the dark paint color. I primed each chair with 1 coat of a brown primer. Next, I did 3-4 thin coats of paint on each chair (I flipped the chairs upside-down at first, and then sprayed the rest standing up). The trick is to start spraying just outside of the piece, use long even strokes, and hold the can about 6'' away. Several thin coats are better then less thick coats.

Blunder #1 - We were on a bit of a time crunch with these because my in-laws were visiting and we had a limited number on non-rainy, non-windy days. We attempted to do one of the chairs indoors. BIG mistake. Do. Not. Attempt. Despite covering as much as possible with dropcloths, the paint just traveled and settled everywhere. The apartment smelled like paint for days and days...even after airing things out with the windows open. Lesson learned, do this outdoors. Best type of day is between 60-70 degrees, sunny, and with little wind. Cover your workspace with a dropcloth and cardboard (because the area just underneath the chair will get coated in paint).

Blunder #2 - I bought several cans of Rustoleum clear coat, to use as a top coat on the chairs. I did 3 thin coats on top of the paint. Not more then a week later, and the paint was chipping off! It could be because I only did one coat of primer (the original chair had some sort of light finish). I went back and touched up the chips, then did 3 medium coats of my trusty Minwax Wipe-On Poly (previously discussed here). So far, so good, and the semi-gloss finish looks much better then the original Matte Clear coat.

The previous foam was glued onto the wood slip seat, so we first had to pry it off. I ordered new custom-cut foam from DIY Upholstery (great customer service and they have a bunch of really helpful videos on youtube). I used spray adhesive to glue the foam to the wood, then covered each seat with dacron (see this video for a helpful demonstration), leaving the dacron unstapled about 2'' from each corner. Next, I stapled the fabric to each seat. You'll see with the first fabric, I chose to center part of the design down each seat, so I had to do a little measuring. With the second fabric, I just had to make sure it was somewhat straight before stapling. The corners were super tricky for me (see this video for helpful tips, and also a separate post on the issue). Finally, we screwed each newly upholstered seat back onto the chair.

Blunder #3 - I searched high and low for a fabric that I liked. I had originally ordered fabric from West Elm, but they have a 3-4 week ship time after you order (no clue why...they don't tell you that on the order page). I also came to my senses and decided that $30 per yard for fabric was a wee bit high. So I cancelled that order and found the second fabric (Valori Wells Del Hi Tapestry fabric in Earth) on Etsy, liking the graphic floral print and muted colors. On my chairs, however, it just looked drab and kind of old-fashioned. Oops! I then found a simple gray lattice print (Premier Prints Gotcha fabric in Storm), for a fresh goes-with-everything modern look. It was also thicker then The Valori Wells (which is really more of a lightweight, crafting fabric, imo). Yes, I am an idiot for not just choosing it in the first place, and spending almost $20/yd in total. Live and learn, my friends.

Final #1

Final #2

COST BREAKDOWN (including mistakes):
* Chairs = Free!
* Primer = $3.97 (2 cans) = $7.94
* Spray paint = $3.97 (4 cans) = $15.88
* Clear coat (x cans) = $3.97 (3 cans) = $11.91
* Minwax clear poly = $7
* Comfort spray grip = $6.77
* Custom-cut 2'' foam (2.4 super density foam) = $23.00
* Dacron = $2.75/yd (4 yards) = $11.00
* Spray adhesive = Free (leftover from past projects)
* Fabric #1 = $8.00/yd (4 yards) = $32.00
* Fabric #2 = ($10.99/yd) (4 yards plus shipping) = $47.00

Total cost (with mistakes) = $162.50, Cost per chair = $40.63
Total cost (assuming no mistakes) = $118.59, Cost per chair = $29.65

I'm sure I could have done this all cheaper...used coupons for the spray paint, ordered the right fabric from the beginning, only purchased the wipe-on poly...but the cost/chair is still very very reasonable! And I think the final (final #2) results are fab!