Monday, December 16, 2013

Goodwill Steal: My new adventure in re-upholstery

I have been wanting to broaden my sewing and re-upholstery skills for a while now. Our kitchen dining chairs have been upholstered, the glider and ottoman in Declan's nursery was re-upholtered and I have made a few drapery panels and pillow covers, but I have never tackled re-upholstery from beginning to end.

This project began as the first project for our new bedroom. It also began when I made a trip to our local Goodwill and discovered a Wing Back chair for $10!! I didn't buy it at first, but I did rush over the next morning and snag it up. It sat in the garage for a few days until I decided it needed to get going. I made a trip to a local fabric store and found two rolls of remnant fabric in the sale bins!! I was ecstatic! These rolls were only $3.48 each. I knew I needed at least 5 yards. The two rolls equaled 7 yards.  I spent a little over $30 for all of the fabric. This brought my total to $40! I thought this was a great deal.

After watching several youtube videos, reading several books and researching Pinterest and blogs, I decided I could probably do this.

A few pointers I have learned along the way:

1. Choose a sturdy chair:
Your chair can come from anywhere, but make sure you really look at it before making a purchase. Look at the fabric and make sure it is just worn or a bad choice of pattern and that the underlying foam is not damaged. Also make sure that the chair is sturdy. You don't want a chair that wobbles or has loose parts like arms or wings (for a wing back chair). As with wooden case pieces, also make sure that the legs of the chair do not have deep gouges that cannot be fixed. I also sat in the chair to see if the springs were still springy and I smelled the chair {I know, I know the people in Goodwill probably thought I was nuts!}. I wanted to make sure it didn't smell of mold or cigarette smoke.

2. Purchase fabric that will actually work well for a beginner project:
The rolls that I purchased were remnant rolls. Have the salesperson roll the entire roll out for you. The rolls I purchased were not complete yards of fabric. A couple of the yards on one roll were shorter because they had already been cut. This, I knew, would be okay for me since my chair is small. These shorter pieces will be used for the arms, sides and seat cushion.

3. Choose your pattern carefully:
An all over pattern will work as long as you buy extra fabric for pattern matching. You wouldn't want a large flower in the center of the chair back and the same flower to show up in a different place on the seat cushion. All over busy patterns, dots. paisley or a stripe will work well and will use the least amount of fabric matching. You also need to choose a fabric that works well for the piping if you add that to your chair. Some people cut fabric straight for piping since they don't need to be particular about matching and some people cut piping fabric on the bias {as for striped fabric}. Cutting on the bias uses a lot more fabric, but the stripes will match  up well.

4. Take your time:
It will be uber tempting to just slash that old fabric and rip it off the chair frame, but resist the temptation. I reached this point one night about 11 P.M. when my hands were sore, I had blisters on my thumbs and I still had a million staples to pull. You do not want to damage the current fabric because you will use it for your new fabric pattern.

5. Use safety measures: 
It may not seem like a dangerous task, but pulling old fabric from a chair can cause injury. Keep your eyes covered with safety glasses {Staples often break into pieces and pop out of the wood}. Wear gloves to help prevent blisters. {If you are using a flat head screwdriver or even a staple puller (if you can afford pricey tools, purchase a staple puller to pry staples loose, push away from your body since you could slip and cut yourself}.

Have a container for staples so they are not on the floor or work surface and place tac strips away from the work area. {This chair had cardboard stripping full of staples, nails on the armrest and curve ease on the chair back}

6. Label 
As you remove the pieces of fabric from the chair, label them with a marker or tape. Label the position of the piece and add a number for the order you are removing them. You will reattach the new pieces in the reverse order. Also, take a LOT of photos and make notes. You will want to refer back to these photos as you reupholster the chair.

So, this is what I have learned. Now I need to get back to pulling staples. I am really ready to get the new fabric cut out and reattached!!

Chair Minus the Skirt

New Fabric

I look forward to completing this chair and blogging my experiences. I will not be doing a complete tutorial. There are so many out there already. I will just post links to my favorites! Stay tuned!

New Bedroom Oasis

Since I love any DIY project, I decided that my next should be reupholstering a chair. I have sewn slipcovers in the past {Nursery Glider and Ottoman Slipcover}, covered simple dining room chairs and I have also sewn draperies {Brown Bathroom Drapery Panel Fully Lined}. But, I have never completed a full re-upholstery from beginning to end. Finding a chair for $10 at Goodwill got my wheels rolling and what started as a new project quickly turned into a Master Bedroom Overhaul.

Since we have been in our home, a lot has gone into the planning of DIY projects to take our home from drab to fab {Our version of comfort and vision of what our home should be}. Being the designer that I am, I also have wanted to change a lot of things to make them better.

This goes for our Master Bedroom. When we moved in, we painted this room first and decorated it sparsely. The furniture in this room includes our bedroom set we purchased as a present to ourselves when we were first married {This was the only new furniture we bought}.

Over time, our bedroom has quickly evolved into a messy room where we don't find escape from our daily lives or the kind of comfort we really want {Our Oasis}. The ironing board stays up in one corner and overflowing laundry baskets often find their way into our room before I can get to them.

Our Master Bath has also become a toy box since we bathe our little man there {Wouldn't trade those toys for the most glamorous bath in the world!!!}

We both decided to give ourselves and our home a little Christmas present. We are putting money towards a new, glamorous Oasis instead of buying presents for each other {Ugg boots would be nice, but they are not a necessity}. It won't be a lot of money; though, since we are on a strict budget. We will cut costs with all of the labor and DIY all of the projects in the room. Pinterest is very, very DANGEROUS. LOL. And, we will shop at Goodwill and places like IKEA and Home Goods for accessories which can also be up-cycled with a little imagination.

So, the planning began and is still going. Here is the plan in a nutshell {without specifics- you will just need to wait for the big reveal of each DIY project as it goes into the room}. I am sure you are intrigued by now.

1. New paint color(s) {Paint ourselves to save on labor}

2. Wall treatment {DIY}

2. Ceiling treatment of some sort {Still working out the logistics of this since we have a vaulted ceiling}{DIY)

3. New seating area {See post on Goodwill Steal coming soon}with DIY chair, table and shelving for books

4. Seating Area Lighting {DIY}

5. Bedside Lighting {DIY}

6. Possibly add some sort of treatment to our current draperies {New would be too costly for our budget}

7. Possibly a new duvet cover for the bed {Purchased of DIY} I have never really found one I just fell in love with.

8. New pillow covers {Hubby has never wanted a mountain of throw pillows on the bed since it takes too long to find the bed at night, but I will throw a few I already have in this room with new covers.}

9. Furniture up-cycle {I really am not sure about this, our furniture is still in good shape.} I love to paint furniture that needs it and I know dark wood isn't "in style" these days, but I just can't bring myself to paint all wood. We will see as the project goes.

I will blog on each project as it is completed with Tutorials or links to tutorials with each. I will also try to keep track of all of the costs so you can see where we were able to save money.

Happy reading! I may not be posting as much in the coming months since we will be working in all of our spare time. Sorry hubby, but I will need you for a few things. Remember, I am height challenged : )
Master Bedroom As Is

You can see from the above photo that we have one accent wall and the rest of the walls are a tan color (too light). The furniture includes a sleigh bed, two nightstands, a dresser and a tall chest of drawers. The draperies are two different colors: the blue are nice, suede drapery panels from Z Gallerie (thanks to a gift card from my students one year). We had them in our apartment and I wanted to reuse them in our home, but they no longer sell the color : ( So, I added dark brown black out panels I found at Target. We also have two dogs so their beds stay in our room in front of the window. These will have to stay. The matching lamps came from Home Goods. The ceiling fan is from Lowe's and was installed by my dear hubby. The comforter (too small for the bed) is a winter level down comforter from IKEA as is the Duvet cover.

So, as you can see, it needs a major overhaul. I am excited about the finished product that now lives in my head. Can't wait to see it in person. Stay tuned!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Furniture Refinishing: If I Only Knew Then What I Know Now

Gary and I moved to Georgia bringing a hodge-podge of furniture we both already had from college. One of these pieces was a dining table we found at KMart for $60 on clearance, but it had no chairs. When we moved to GA, we decided to add chairs and refinish the table to match. {I will leave it up to you to guess what we sat on before}. We purchased unfinished chairs and got to work.

I should have done a little more research ahead of time, but we were in a small apartment with a tiny balcony and had no room or time to take it slow. We began by taking the table legs off (this really is a heavy table for something you can get at KMart) and we got started.

We began with our sander. I am sure we were a sight with the table upright leaning against the balcony railing, sander in hand! Little did we know that there is an art to sanding. You couldn't tell in the beginning, but sanding the table made it very difficult to get a smooth, even grain. Did I mention this was our very FIRST furniture refinishing attempt?

Lesson(s) Learned: 
1. Use a primer that sticks to everything (Zinsser 123 Primer) and just paint without sanding OR use chalk paint (Annie Sloan's). (Now I know : ) 
2. If you do sand, use the correct grade sandpaper and the correct tools. We honestly could have hand sanded this piece and gotten a more even wood grain. The sanding would've taken off the heat treatment from the factory and not a little wood to go with it!

Great Link for Preparing Wood for Staining: {Wood Prep}

After the table was sanded well (or, so we thought), we began to stain the chairs. This is where it seemed easy enough. But, well another couple of lessons learned.

Sanded Table 

Lesson(s) Learned: 

1. Sit the chair on top of small paint or stain buckets so that the stain doesn't stop short because of the cheap plastic you have down protecting the carpet.
2. Treat the wood first so that the stain is accepted evenly (Min-Wax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner)

Because the chairs were new wood that had never been treated, the stain was accepted pretty well and they looked fine. But, when it came to the table stain, it was a different story. A very sad story!!

New Chairs With Stain 

Unfinished Chair

Table Top Complete With Scratches

Table Leg (A Little Scuffed To Add "Character")

Table Leg
We finally finished staining all of the pieces without killing one another and looked at our finished work. We actually did remember to add Polyurethane to protect the stain on the chairs. We didn't add any to the table because I was satisfied with the look afterwards. And, boy am I glad we didn't take the time. This table and chairs is going to through another refinishing soon with a lot of new ideas I have gathered over time and a new SKILL SET.

This is our table today. After we moved into our home and I began to paint the walls, (I loved having white walls and I couldn't get them painted fast enough- kind of like a kid who colors the whole coloring book at once!) I recovered the seats with a pretty fabric. This fabric will probably go as well due to the fact that it isn't very kid (ie stain) friendly.

Refinished Table and Covered Chairs
As you can see from the photo above, our chairs are the same Cherry color as the floors and it is too matchy, matchy for this girl's taste. I am very excited to refinish this piece soon.

This table is now in our kitchen eating area since our dining room is now a playroom {Playroom}. Gary (God knew what I needed in a hubby for sure) is going to also build a bench to add to one side of the table to increase seating. I may/may not add a cushion to the bench. 

The ideas are still flowing and I can't wait to get my hands on some Annie Sloan chalk paint and wax and test it out on smaller piece before tackling this table and chairs AGAIN! I have been told that I am going to absolutely LOVE chalk paint and I am sure I will.

Our Journey to Georgia

When Gary and I first moved to Georgia, we were here for new opportunities and a new adventure. Of course, we were also here without jobs!!

After we were married, we rented a small one bedroom apartment. Gary was working as a Computer Networker at a small company and I was working at a local elementary school. As we became accustomed to married life, we also began looking at our budget and dreaming of buying a home and starting a family.

After crunching the numbers, we didn't see it happening -- ever. He was on a beginning salary and I was on a Mississippi teacher's salary (even with a Master's degree, it is not much). We sat down one night and made a list of places we thought we could live. We began with cities in Mississippi, thinking we would like to stay close to family. When we didn't have any leads for new jobs after a while and many applications and resumes were sent out, we decided we needed to branch out and so we made a list of other states we would like to live {Georgia was NOT on this list}.

Little did we know that God had Georgia as the only state on HIS list! Gary, as a last resort, decided to email a friend of his who lived here already (in Georgia). The timing couldn't have been better. We received an email back that the following weekend was a teacher's job fair for the Atlanta area. After work on Friday, we packed the car and made the long drive. On Saturday, I went to the job fair with our friend's wife and made my connections. Gary gained insight into the computer field opportunities from his friend who is also in the field.

We left feeling hopeful, but not set on Georgia. It wasn't long; though, that I began receiving phone calls. On Good Friday (MS still has a holiday from school on this day), a friend and I made the drive back to GA for an interview. The interview went well. After the interview, we went to get a bite to eat and were going to go back home. While we were eating, the phone rang and I was offered the job. I was so excited and a little bit in shock!

And, the rest as they say is history. We made the move to Georgia that summer after school was out. Gary still didn't have a job so we knew it would be difficult, but we were trusting God that this was His plan for us.

Little did we know what difficulties lay ahead of us. It was summer so I wouldn't be getting a paycheck, the apartments here were SO much more per month than the ones in MS and Gary had no job yet.

After a few months of rice and beans, Gary finally got the call back from the job he had been interviewing with. They finally (after three interviews and several weeks at a different job) offered him a position. We were so happy! Things were finally looking up. We were also introduced to Dave Ramsey during this time through a local church. We ended up attending there while we lived in that city and we loved it. First Baptist Church in Woodstock is such a wonderful place. Check it out if you are in the area

Since that day, Gary has changed jobs a few times, always to a better one. He is now working so close to home which is great since he can come home for lunch sometimes. I was able to teach for 5 years in a great school. I was also able to complete my design degree. We were able to buy a home in a great neighborhood. And, we have met so many wonderful people. We have also been able to adopt Declan and begin our family. You can read more on our Adoption story {Our Adoption Journey}

So much has happened since that summer, but we know that God had His hand in everything. We don't know what our future may hold, but we do know it is in His hands. We do have to keep reminding ourselves that He does have a plan and that it will be the best one for us imaginable. We also have to remember when we face difficult times now that He did bring us out of a few very dark years. We have a hope that He will continue to bless us as long as we follow Him and trust in Him.

We do hope having family close to us is in our future and we do hope and pray that more children are in our future, but we will see!