Apr 162015
 

Today I’d like to share with you how to make DIY custom shaped chair cushions, including cutting the foam, fabric and putting it together.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Late last summer, I picked up a really cute wicker settee and 2 chairs.  (I swear I took pictures of them before and during the refinish process but for the life of me,  I cannot find them!  Don’t you hate that!??)  My nieces and nephews are all young professionals, some with young families, trying to make ends meet.  So when I scored these three pieces at a bargain price, I offered them to my nephew and his wife Laura.  Laura has a great sense of style and really spruced up the curb appeal of their semi detached home located in an area of Toronto, referred to as “the Danforth”.  The Danforth is also home to Greek town, lots of great shops and restaurants and it is right on the main subway line.  All those amenities make prices high and the older homes small.  Regardless, they have a cute covered front porch and they were thrilled to have some free furniture to put out there.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Great curb appeal

She wanted a dark brown finish.  I planned on staining them as I had with my chairs here but when I set to work on them, I found the chairs were not wicker or rattan but PLASTIC!  Sure fooled me!  What a good fake!  So I ended up spray painting them with Rustoleum’s Ultra Cover in Espresso because it adheres to plastic.  The rich colour will look great on their porch.

She found cushions for the settee and I volunteered to make some cushions for the chairs since they were rounded and all she could find was square one. She picked up fabulous outdoor fabric for only $5 a meter because it was nearing the end of summer.  I LOVE this fabric!  I have been crushing on Apple Green for months!

Cutting the Foam

I had some 2″ foam from a big boo-boo I made a few months back when I ordered foam that was too small for the project but it was perfect for this.  Using newspaper, I created a pattern from the chair seat then I traced it on to the foam.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Note the cricket and hockey player photos! Hey! I live in Canada!

I had purchased this electric knife specifically for cutting foam.  It works so well. 

Note:  When cutting foam, you need to pay attention that the blade is at right angles to the face of the foam.  Otherwise you will need to trim it more to make it flat versus angled.

Once I cut the foam, I used the same newspaper pattern to cut out the fabric,
I added another 1/5 inch all the way around for the seam allowance.  Then I cut long 3″ wide strips for the sides of the cushion.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Top and bottom pieces cut 1/2″ wider on all sides for the seam allowance
  and then 3″ long strips for the sides (2″ plus seam allowance)

Pinning and sewing

So many bloggers show every minute detail  but since I have been sewing for decades, I just cut to the chase!

I found the centre back and with right sides together, I started to pin the long side piece all the way around.  Rather than sew together the two ends where they meet, I decided to overlap them.  I think this helped to keep the pieces taut. 

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

I pinned the side piece all the way around and overlapped the ends where they met.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Here is the overlapping. I did do a finished hem on the one that would end up being on the outside.

Sewing and Finishing

I machine stitched the above pieces together, trimmed the seam and zigzagged the edges because this fabric was really ravelling.

I then pinned the bottom piece on to the other edge of the side piece.  I machine stitched it and finished it in the same manner but I did not stitch it all they around.  I needed the opening to insert the foam.  I did however iron the piece where the seam should be so it would be easier to hand stitch closed.  Before I inserted the foam, I also added little ties at the back to keep it from moving off the chair.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Tab ties to hold it to the chair

After inserting the foam, I used a simple slip stitch to close it up! 

The entire process took me a few of hours and all the while I was listening to a recorded book, The Nightengale, by Kristin Hanna.  Fabulour book and a great way to pass the time while sewing, painting, cooking or commuting!

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Nice pop of colour!

IMG_5423

NIce snug and smooth edges

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Nice rounded edges: a custom fit!

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

A custom fit and a great Pop of color!

I sure wish I had the before pictures!  Basically they were that yucky yellowish rattan colour.  I think this brown is really rich and will tie into their house colour and the cushions will add that great pop of colour!

So what do you think?  Nicer Than New?

Have you have made shaped, custom cushions? 
I’d love to hear from you!  It makes my day!

 

Joan

Apr 102015
 

I recently spruced up a rustic “stand up” or “standing desk”. 

The update was pretty basic and I am now wondering:

“Should I have been a bit bolder?”

Rustic-standing-desk

I love it but did I play it all too safe?

Rustic Stand-up Desk

I scored this fabulously unique desk on MaxSold, an online auction here in Toronto.  I realized when I went to pick it up, the ad had not included the dimensions because it is BIG and TALL.  It is 47″ wide, 30″ high at the front, 35′ high at the back and 26″ deep

It was also hunter green, with black accents and a maple leaf decal on the front.  The flip top had a leather insert in great condition but a little dull. 

I apologize for the quality of the before pictures, they were from the original posting.

rustic-standing-desk

A very unique design but needing some TLC.  Got to love the maple leaf!

The first thing I did was apply some MMS Hemp Oil to the leather top to soften it and bring out a deeper more uniform black.

I sanded the unpainted wood and applied a darker stain.  After prepping the painted areas by cleaning and lightly sanding, I basically painted it with a few coats of a soft black: SW ?????, Pro Enamel in Satin.

I love how it turned out!  I went with a basic black to match the black leather insert.  I considered distressing it but it was basically “distressed” when I got it.  I guess I really wanted to return it to its former glory!

rustic-standing-desk

Essentially a “spruced up” version of its former self

rustic-standing-desk

With the lid open, you can see how rustic it is with a planked bottom inside the cubby.
I painted over the green side walls with red and added the same colour to the sides of the drawers.         

Question:  What was the purpose of this desk?

If any of you are familiar with stlye of desk, I would love to hear from you!  I did a bit of research and it could have been used by a teacher or a clergyman.  Now, I see it being used in someone’s foyer or in a restaurant at the hostess desk!

Question:  What wood is the top made out of?

I think the top is a type of pine but I am not sure.  What I did notice is the number of rings around the knots which makes me believe the top was made from very mature wood.

Question:  Was I too timid with this re-furbish?

Ah, there are so many options when it comes to up-cycling furniture.  Should I have found some funky new insert for the top instead of leather?  Should the paint be chippy or distressed in one of those “stylish” new colours? 

I don’t know but sometimes, I think unique pieces should perhaps have another few years of their original glory.

BEFORE

rustic-standing-desk

Hunter Green and the Maple Leaf just had to go!

AFTER

rustic-standing-desk

Simple restoration: was it enough?

 

BTW: the desk is for sale if you live in the Toronto area! 

Contact me if you are interested.  Price $200

I am very much looking forward
to your comments and input.

 

Do you think it is “Nicer Than New”
or should I have been bolder?

 

 

Joan

Mar 302015
 

In my very first post on this blog nearly 2 years ago, I shared my dining room update.  I had become tired of the “granny” look of dark wood Duncan Fyfe style and was hoping to replace the look with something more fresh and contemporary.  However, when I tried to sell the set together or individual pieces, I was offered very little.  We were also installing dark hardwood so the dark wood had to go.

Looking at that very first post, I am a bit embarassed at the layout and photos etc.  But what it does tell me is just how much I have learned and grown in these many months.  

In that first post, the dining room was still a work in progress,.  So today, I would like to share the dining room in its now more finished state.

Before:  Dark and Granny-like

dining room update granny fresh paint furniture

I couldn’t sell the pieces for much so why not paint!

 

After:  Bright and Fresh

dining room update granny fresh paint furniture

How it looks from the doorway

I just love the fresh look.  I was worried it might be a bit feminine for my husband but he loves it too.

Note:  This post contains NO affiliated links.  Just the facts.

I love turquoise.  In the original post, the buffet and china cabinet were painted BM Buxton Blue but once they were in the room, we felt there was not enough contrast with the walls so I added one more coat of a darker BM Province Blue.  Sadly, I don’t remember the grey colour’s name.

I not only painted the furniture, I also painted the shiny brass fixtures with Antique Brass from Rustoleum and the valance over the drapes.

All the fabric for drapes and upholstery,  was purchased at Tonic Living, a Toronto based online fabric store.  I made the drapes and had someone upholster the chairs but since then, I have learned a bit more about upholstering and would most likely do it myself.

I picked up the two chairs with the knot fabric on Kijiji for $15 each.  Not bad!

The Eiffel Tower poster started out as a photo I took on our visit in 2011.  I saw a very expensive print on Etsy or somewhere and I decided to try doing something myself.  I uploaded my photo to Photoshop Elements, added a layer with words describing the history of the tower, a layer or two of textures and then just played with it.  I think it is fantastic in this room!

The Roman Numeral clock was in our family room and was purchased at Homesense, the Canadian version of the US Home Goods.

IMG_5277

I love my apple green bird! He brightens up any room

We received the 3 prints over the buffet as a wedding gift.  They all depict skiing scenes and were so appropriate for us because we met in a ski club!  We still love them after nearly 28 years!  They were in the living room but look so great in here.

IMG_5270

The bar cart with crystal and tulips

I still haven’t painted the bar cart I picked up at an estate auction.  I shared it with you in this post where I asked for colour advise.  It is still too cold here in Toronto to do spray painting outside.  But when I do finish it I will be sure to share.

IMG_5289

The china cabinet and my wood “runner”

Originally I thought I wanted to get rid of the china cabinet because I had a mini buffet and mirror on this angled wall.  But once I saw how these pieces looked painted, I knew I wanted to keep it.   The mini buffet and mirror were perfect in the foyer!  See it’s transformation here.

We love the white table because we no longer feel the need to protect the wood with a table clothe.  But we still need to protect it from hot dishes.  One day, I stumbled over an unfinished pine shelf board and decided to stain it with my favourite walnut stain and plop it on the table.  We love it as it ties into the hardwood floors the knotted fabric and it withstands hot plates!

I picked up those cute lotus flower candle holders at one of my rare trips to Target.

IMG_5268

I love the large art piece on the right!

We have a very large family room with a full sized snooker table and I had purchased the large art piece above for that space.  I was looking for something to fill this wall when I had a brilliant moment and brought this huge piece from the family room to this room and was so pleased with how it looked.  To fill the wall again in the family room, I created a “Carry On” poster you can see here.

The other change we made which made a BIG impact is we removed the french doors to the room.  They were awkward and hit the cabinet.  When complaining to my neighbour she looked at me and said “Why don’t you remove them”.  Like why in tarnation did I not think of that.  It was brilliant.  Not only can you see the loveliness of the room, we actually go in there more!

IMG_5283

A colourful vignette lovely dried hydrangeas, citrus and my favourite apple green bird!

IMG_5262

My sweet Chester

My Labradoodle doesn’t photo-bomb, he just hangs out.  But this picture is not just about him, it really shows the lovely detail of the legs in this set.  Personally I think it really makes them pop, much better than natural wood.

Pinnable copy

What a change!

 I am so happy I couldn’t sell these pieces! I L-O-V-E this room.  And I saved us a ton of money!  I also like the fact I was able to “shop my home” for items to decorate in here.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this transformation.
I would love to hear what you think.
Have you ever been this daring?

For me, it is all so much
Nicer Than New!

 

 

Joan

Mar 152015
 

Last year, I picked up a basic but functional bar cart at an estate auction for less than $50.  As I said, it is basic but I think it has potential and could become a welcome focal point when we entertain.   I noticed over the holidays bar carts were a very popular topic, inspiring me to do something fun with mine once the nicer weather arrives.  

Currently  the cart is sitting in a corner in our dining room without any definitive purpose.  I have been using it to display / store the cut crystal pieces I own and those I have also acquired at estate sales. 

barcart_04

Estate Sale Bar Cart in need of a New Look

 This cart does need some work because it is partially covered with an over spray of latex paint.  Meaning: I obviously need to do a better job protecting my stash inventory when spray painting in the garage. 

I have always planned on painting this piece but I am not sure what type of finish.  I do know I don’t want black.  I also think it will be moved around and possibly brought outside to the terrace or the deck.

Should I add a splash of colour? 

  • Yellow
  • White
  • Turquoise
  • ??

Or should I go metallic? 

  • Copper seems to be making a big comeback
  • Bronze:  the chandelier and sconces in the dining room are bronze
  • Nickel
  • Chrome

I went to the internet and Pinterest to get some inspiration.  There are lots of similar, simple carts out there but wow! They can be expensive!

Lolita Bar Cart, Gold

One King’s Lane $499

Emile Bar Cart, Nickel

One King’s Lane, Emile, $259

Chrome Metal with Black Tempered Glass Bar/ Tea Serving Cart

Overstock, Chrome Metal with Black Tempered Glass, $143

Safavieh Bar Cart - Gold

Target, Safavieh Bar Cart, $240

Pier 1, Lucette, $330

 I will admit right now that all of these look much more substantial and perhaps sturdier than mine but still, I could not find anything similar for under $100.  So even if I decide to get some fancier glass, I would be way ahead of the game.

I also saw some great practical ideas of how to styleize bar carts.  Once I decide how I will finish this one, I can’t wait to incorporate some of these ideas.

barcart_02

Love this little corner

 

So, I am open to suggestions as to how to re-finish this little gem. 

Add colour?

Add metallic?

Add different glass?

Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts. 

The weather here in Toronto is improving and I will soon be able to get outside and paint this baby!

 

Joan

Feb 242015
 
Nicer Than New
source
source

It would appear I have taken an unintentional blogging hiatus which sadly lasted THREE months.

I am calling it a hiatus or break but it was really a bit of a blogging block.  If I had been asked “What’s in your way?”  I really did not have an answer.  Not a really good one such as “work got in the way” or ” I was terribly ill”.  I don’t have any really good answer.

I have been doing lots of projects and photographing them but I just didn’t blog about it.

I have a few inklings to the cause of my gap none of which should have caused a THREE month gap.  Perhaps the combination of them all just made me hit a wall. 

Here are a few samples:

  • I have been really wanting to grow my blog.  So why stop writing you ask?  Good question.  It was not meant to be so long.  I just wanted to ponder on the direction I want to go in.
  • I wanted to “spruce up” my web design.  I actually spent a great deal of time on this aspect.  But is was mostly in researching and in the end I have only made a few changes:  header, background and fonts.
  • My office is a disaster.  My office is in a very large room in our lower level walkout.  My desk faces a lovely patio door with a view of the ravine behind our house.  That is all lovely but behind me is an absolute mess ABYSS of projects waiting to happen.  Everything from sewing to  upholstery to painting.  You name it and it is most likely somewhere in that jumble.
  • Too many projects in the wings resulting in a lack of focus. My friends and family praise me for my talent and great organization skills but for some reason, between the state of my office and the number of projects, I just lost focus.  Plus, I need to sell more of my painted and upcylced furniture pieces.

Okay so enough whining!!! 

There is NOTHING IN MY WAY!  Well nothing a little scheduling and organizing will not handle.

Please welcome me back to the
Blogging World

AND

Wish me LUCK!


Joan

Oct 272014
 

Last week, I shared the Vintage Secretary Desk I completed for a client.  I love the way it turned out with the grey paint and the contrasting walnut stained top.  It looked so fresh.

Updated Vintage Secretary Desk

Updated Vintage Secretary Desk Before and After

This desk also came to me with a chair.  A very dark chair with gold velour upholstery.  I love the shape of it and the lovely caned back but it too needed an update.

Chair

Desk and Chair

I primed and painted the chair the same SW West Highland White I used for the cubbyholes on the desk.  Then I covered the chair is a lovely peacock fabric, picking up the grey of the desk.

reupholster desk chair

A lighter, fresher look.

Steps to reupholster a basic chair:

Re-upholstering a chair like this is relatively simple.  I considered doing a tutorial but there are a plethora of similar tutorials out in Blogland so I will just give you the key points. (NO affiliate links)

  • Unscrew the seat from the base
  • Remove the existing cover and foam by removing all the staples. 
  • Using the wood seat base as a guide, cut 3 or 4 inch foam at least one inch bigger all around.
    • This excess with ensure you cover the wood edges when you add the new fabric.
    • I have a basic electric knife I use specifically to cut foam
  • Using the wood seat base with the foam on top of it as a guide to cut the fabric.  Be sure to make it large enough to wrap both and be able to staple underneath,
  • Optional:  Add a layer of quitting batting over the foam / under the fabric.
  • Center the fabric over the seat and begin to staple.
    • I like to begin with a few staples on one side then go to the opposite side and pull tight and staple a few there. And continue until you are finished.
    • I have used a regular wood staple gun but often they are not powerful enough.  I purchased a stronger stapler requiring a compressor and it makes all the difference.  I am fortunate to have a neighbour with a compressor who lets me “store” it for him.

The upholstering part of the chair took about an hour. The basic tools I used really help, especially the pneumatic stapler.

Reupholster desk chair

Basic Upholstery Tools ~ source ~ source ~ source ~ source ~      

Here is how the desk and chair look now. 

What a transformation! 

I just love these pieces and kind of wish I could have kept them 😉

 

reupholster desk chair

Vintage Secretary Desk and Chair before and After

What do you think?

Have you upholstered a basic chair? 

How did it go?

I have a few bigger and more complex pieces I want to try and upholster soon.  Stay tuned.

Be sure to follow me by email or Bloglovin to keep up to date.

Joan

Oct 202014
 

I have realized have not posted the finished vintage secretary desk my client wanted  updated with paint a few months ago. 

She initially told me I could to do whatever I wanted to it!  ” I trust you!”  Yikes! 

Many of you reading this might think this would be fun and a time to be super creative and step out of the box but I didn’t feel that way.  Then when it was dropped off, I saw it was a super cute and unique piece and had to double check if she really wanted me to paint it.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

Super cute desk with windows and cubbies.

This vintage desk was in excellent shape and the top had cubbyholes  covered with cute little doors with windows.  I loved the hardware too.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk details

Such a unique desk

Being a chicken and not wanting to go mad with this piece, I used Photoshop, to create some crude mock ups of various colours. Here is the post.  In the end, she chose grey but a paler shade.  Whew …  knowing the colour was a relief. 

Updated Vintage Secretary desk mock up

Photoshop mock up in Grey

She also said she did not want a distressed look.  With all the detail on the piece I would have been inclined to go that route.

I used my favourite go to paint Sherwin Williams Pro Classic.  (NO affiliation)  I selected Essential Grey which is supposed to be similar to one of the Annie Sloan colours

I wanted to leave the top wood with a dark stain.  I like the look of wood and paint together.  I had planned on using a stain and poly combo to do the top so I proceeded to paint the body of the desk first.  WRONG!  When I started on the top, I realized my plan was flawed and I really needed to strip it down.  The top being veneer meant I did not want to do too much sanding. 

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

My plan to do the top last was not a good idea. LIVE AND LEARN.

Stripping the top was a bit problematic as some of the solution got on the paint and … well you know.  I had to do some repairs to the paint.  SO ANNOYING but totally my fault.  After the top was stripped of its original finish, a nice grain was was revealed.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

Stripping the top revealed a nice grain.

I cleaned up the hardware and used a COPPER coloured spray paint.  Something a little different but it tied into the final stained colour of the top.

Although I loved the dark wood, the final updated version is so much more fresh and bright.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

Fresh and bright

I love the copper coloured hardware and the walnut stained top.  Even without distressing or glazing, the details still pop.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

Copper coloured hardware ties into the walnut stained top.

To keep it bright, I painted the cubbyholes a creamy white.  With the white interior, you can now see the pattern on the glass doors.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

I love the patterned glass on the doors.

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

So much brighter

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

Before

Updated Vintage Secretary desk

After

 

 

In the end, I think both the client and I are happy we collaborated on this.  You see, I was considering  painting it RED or ROYAL BLUE with a dark glaze and some distressing.  Regardless, I LOVE this final outcome.

Stay tuned to see how I transformed the chair the client uses with this desk!

Has a client ever given you a blank canvas and told you to go to town on a piece?

Did you?

Were they happy? 

I would love to hear from you.
Comments make my day!


Joan

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