Jul 142014
 

Earlier this summer, I decided I would give Container Gardening a try on my second story terrace.  After doing some research, I came up with some great ways to re-purpose containers I already had.

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I wanted to try my hand at growing a  tomato plant, a pepper plant and a bunch of herbs.   In the past, I tried to grow herbs in my little garden behind the house but because we live on a ravine, critters got into the tasty plants.  Ground hogs just LOVE herbs as do deers.  So a container garden on the upper terrace was the answer.

About the same time I was planning this little garden, my neighbours put two large fiberglass plant pots out on trash day.  As one who does not like to pass up FREE stuff, I wandered over on the pretense of taking my dog out and had a look.  They were big and blue and had no drainage holes.  The latter two features could be easily remedied!  They became MINE!!  One of them would be perfect for the tomato plant which I understand needs good soil, space and lots of light.

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Big and baby blue.

 I also remembered I had a RED Christmas-y wine bucket in the basement that I was using for a garbage can.  Being oval and with a medallion on the front, it would add some interest.  It was part of my Spray Paint to the Rescue post and it looks great in it’s new colour.

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Red to Dark Bronze in minutes!

Lastly, knew I had large EMPTY Rubbermaid bins in our storage area.  These are left over from dance costume and dress up clothes storage.  A phase in our family life that is now sadly long gone!

Using my drill I made holes in the bottom of these containers.

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Made good use of my trusty drill

The best find I came across was at our local Dollarama (Canadian dollar store that is EVERYWHERE!) !  They had these PERFECT flower pot supports with CASTERS for $2.50 and $3!   Bargain!

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These pot stands were PERFECT and so affordable!

So, I used the big, previously blue pot for the tomato, a saved poinsetta pot for the pepper and the ice bucket and Rubbermaid container for my herbs.  Best of all, they are now all on wheels!

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I love this little plant corner!

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If these end up ripening, they will be pricey but de-lish!

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This is such a tiny plant! Not sure how big these peppers will get!

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The herbs are doing great!

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The time is a bit skimpy but I added compost recently so hopefully these will florish.

So now I have TWO two natural vignettes to look at while I rest my broken tibula, drink my tea and read the news and my books! 

I am LOVING this space more and more this year.

I have been very successful with my perennial gardens but I am not too sure about this new adventure with containers.  I don’t think the terrace gets quite enough sun for the tomato but the herbs with the exception of the thyme are thriving. 

Do you do container gardening? 
Do you have some suggestions for successful container gardening. 
I plan to try it again next year too.

I love comments and read each and everyone so drop me a line!

Joan

 

NO Affiliates in this post.

Apr 102014
 

I have replaced damaged caning in both wicker and wood furniture and thought I would share my not so sophisticated method with you.

In all cases, the cane I replaced was a seat, surrounded by a wood frame.   Many people, seeing damaged cane like the photo below will cut a piece of wood and simple cover the seat.  I suppose if it always has a cushion hiding it, it doesn’t matter.  Personally, I love cane and  replacing it is far easier than you may think.

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Original Damaged Seat.

The first step is to remove the old caning.  Depending on the age of the piece, this can be easy or very difficult.  In the case of a wicker chair I refinished, it was easy.  With some coaxing (chiseling) at the spline, which holds the cane in the groove, I was able to pull out the old caning relatively easily.  In the case of the antique rocker above, the glue used in days gone by was like titanium!   I needed to resort to nail polish remover and a drill.  I even broke a couple of bits in the process!  I am sorry I have no pictures of this task.  It was a frustrating adventure where photos were not foremost on my mind 🙂 

Once you remove the old cane, be sure the channel / groove is clean so the cane and new spline can be inserted. 

I purchased both the sheet of pre-woven cane material and the spline at Lee Valley Tools, which, luckily for me is a 10 minute drive from my home.  You can also order it online here.  (Note:  I have no affiliation with Lee Valley Tools.  They are just a great store!)

Before you begin,  the caning and the spline both need to soak in water for a few hours or in my case,  if you get busy, a day or two!  Regardless, it needs to be soft and pliable.

I began by testing that the spline will easily go into the groove and cut the spline to size with an additional 1/2 inch.  In my first attempt at replacing a cane seat, I cut the spline about 1/4 inch too short and I was very annoyed to see the tiny gap.

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Measuring the spline. Add a bit extra and cut the excess once inserted

Once you are ready to work, cut the caned sheet roughly the size of the opening with a good 1.5 t0 2 inch border all around.

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Lay the caning sheet in place, centered.  Begin on the straight sections of the groove and insert the caning into the groove.

THIS IS WHERE WE CAN GET CREATIVE!   There are tools for this.  But I used what I could find at home.  For one project, I used a metal spatula to push the cane into the groove.

For this chair, I happened to have a pack of SHIMS on hand and they definitely fit the bill.  I simply cut the thin ends off to the appropriate width and tapped them in with a hammer.

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Cut the shims to an appropriate with and tapped them into the groove.

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I worked around the opening, making sure the cane was taunt

(BTW:  that hammer was my dad’s and it’s over 70 years old!)

Once you have pushed the cane material securely into the groove, you need to cut away the excess, just below the top of the groove.  This is a daunting step.  You need a VERY SHARP exacto blade or box cutter.  The caning can begin to unravel a bit so it is important to get a nice clean cut.  Try very hard to make sure the cut is just below the top.  The few stragglers still sticking up can be trimmed later.

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Cut the excess cane away, just below the outer lip of the groove.

Now it is time to insert the spline.  Use a wood or all purpose glue, one that dries clear and run a generous bead inside the groove, on top of the cane.

Then begin to insert the spline.  Start at the centre of the back and work your way around.

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Insert the spline, starting at the centre of the back of the opening.

I wrapped a rag around the hammer so I would not damage the wood when I tapped in the spline.

Once you reach the beginning, cut the spline to the correct size.   Be sure to tap all around to ensure the spline is well inserted and then let the glue dry!

That’s it!

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Not counting the terrible time I had removing the old cane seat, I think this job took me just over an hour to complete!

From what I have read, cane is meant be left natural and colour with age.  However, it can be stained but only on the top.  It needs to breathe.  I am thinking of staining this seat since the chair is so dark. 

What do you think:  stain or leave au natural?

Have you ever replaced a cane seat?

If you try it, let me know how it goes for you. 

Why cover the damaged seat with wood when replacing the caning is so easy!

I think this chair is definitely Nicer Than New!

Joan

 

Jan 062014
 

I know.  It’s a pretty corny title but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Last year, I acquired a vintage Queen Anne style coffee table which I then converted into a tufted bench for the end of our bed.  It was my first attempt at tufting something and I was very pleased at how it turned out.  Since it was pre-blogging so I only have a few pictures. 

Before:  a basic long, narrow table

Before: a basic long, narrow table

Spray adhesive glued the 4" foam in place

Spray adhesive glued the 4″ foam in place

We love it.  So handy too.

We love it. So handy too.

 We love it!  It looks great to most people but as the DIY-er, I can spot things I should have done differently.  And I am also still considering painting the base.

For the past year, I have been helping a dear friend update and brighten her cozy downtown Toronto apartment on a budget.  (I hope to post about this in the near future.) She liked my bench so much, she asked me to make one for her narrow entrance.  With my estate sale addiction, I was able to find the perfect table through MaxSold .  Not only did I get the rectangular table, it came with TWO 2-tiered step tables for $10.00!!  Now that’s what I call a BARGAIN!

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The “soon to be bench” table

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Two of these cuties plus the coffee table…
all for $10!!

1.  Replace the top with Plywood

With my first bench the table top had straight sides with rounded corners so I used the original top.  However, with this table, you can see the table edges are not straight and not suitable.  No worries!  I had some left over 1/2 inch plywood in the garage which I cut to size.  NOTE:  I cut the plywood to the exact size of the base, with no overhang.

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Note the plywood is cut to the size of the base with no overhang.

2.  Purchase Foam

Once I had the dimensions for the top, I purchased 4 inch thick foam that was 1 inch wider and 1 inch longer than the top.  This additional foam is important so when you are doing the final upholstering and pulling the fabric over the sides, the foam will cover the edge of the top, making it padded as well.  I have been fortunate to have found a foam wholesaler near my home who will sell to people off the street.  They cut it while you wait to the thickness and size you want.  There prices are very reasonable too.  The foam can be the most expensive part of the project.

3. Plan your tufts

You can add as many tufts as you like but remember the more tufts you have the more fabric you will need because each tuft uses a fair amount of fabric.  Like my first bench, I used 11 tufts.  Even with what I thought was good planning, I nearly did not have enough fabric!

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On the foam, mark where each tuft will go.
I drew a grid and then added a mark at each half way point.

4. Make Holes in the Foam

To make room for the fabric to be pulled down to create a tuft, it is best to create a small hole in the foam.  I learned the hard way that you CANNOT USE A DRILL!!  Using a drill, twists and gouges out the foam and could ruin your project.  Looking through drawers, I found an apple corer which did the trick!  I didn’t take any pictures but basically I inserted the corer twice to make a circular hole and pulled out the cigar shaped pieces of foam.  Brilliant!

5. Creating the Tufts with a Drill and Wood Screws

A  FEW  NOTES: 

The yellow fabric I used for this bench was thick so I did not add any batting on the top of the foam.  I did however for the first bench. Because of the thick fabric, I was unable to use buttons you cover with fabric as I did with my original  bench. For original bench, I made holes in the foam AND I drilled matching holes in the table top.   I used covered buttons and a long needle with a sturdy cord to pull the button down and through the top  to make the tuft.

Because I could not use covered buttons, I decided to use a tufting technique posted by Elisha from Pneumatic Addict Furniture.

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Drill, washers, wood screws and a skewer to help find the holes.

Once I located the holes, I used the drill to screw wood screw with washer, through the fabric, the hole in the foam and into the wood.  The washer is necessary so the screw will not go through the fabric.  The screws in this picture were too short.  I ended up using 2 1/2 inch screws.  When I was finished and I turned the top over, I found some screws went through the wood.  So all tufts would be the same, I adjusted all the screws so they would not come through the wood.

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Wood screw with a washer.

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2 1/2 inch screws worked best for 4″ foam

6. Finish the upholstering and add Buttons

I don’t have any photos of this step.  I was alone so I couldn’t hold, staple and photograph all the the same time.  I use an pneumatic (air) staple gun and a small compressor.  (I borrowed the compressor from my neighbour who rarely uses it.  He told me to keep it at my house … “off site storage” LOL.) I found regular buttons that matched and used a glue gun to attach them in the tufts.

7. Paint the Base and Attach the Top

Here  is where my indecision came in…  It took me FOUR versions to get something we both really liked and was special!

Version 1:  my "go-to" ivory homemade chalk paint

Version 1: my “go-to” ivory homemade chalk paint

Version 2:  a beachy look by dry brushing blue and gold over the ivory

Version 2: a beachy look by dry brushing blue and gold over the ivory

Version 3:  A nice "Oops" grey

Version 3: A nice “Oops” grey

I liked all of the first three versions but none really “wowed” me.  After all, the reason we have been updating her apartment was to add colour and pizzazz to a the previously dark, monochromatic space. 

Finally, she asked

“Could you paint it red“?

YES!!!!

 All I needed was a sample jar from Home Depot and 15 minutes and VOILA!

I love the red!

I love the red!

 

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 We both love how it turned out.  Interestingly, in the post that inspired me to use wood screws, Elisha also painted her bench base red! 

I hope you find my tutorial clear and useful.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me. 

In the meantime, I would love some suggestions as to what to do with the original curvy edged table top ???

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Nov 132013
 

I love finding vintage one of a kind pieces for next to nothing.  When I saw this chair at a garage sale last summer, I loved the scroll detail on the legs.  Only $5 for this cute, solid oak chair!  Got to love that!

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Love the scroll!

After sitting in my garage for a few months, I decided the chair would look great with a black, distressed Pottery Barn like finish because the oak finish underneath would be a nice rich colour. I mixed up some homemade chalk paint using  Behr Black Suede and calcium carbonate, both of which I already had.   (BTW:  I LOVE this shade of black!  It is aptly named because it seems to have a depth or softness about it and it works perfectly for the Pottery Barn treatment.)  After two coats, I did a bit of distressing and added 2 coats of  Varathane.

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I love how it turned out!

Now on to the seat!  Stripping off old chair coverings can be like opening an old trunk in an attic.
Overall, the seat cover looked okay but when looking at the underside, I could tell it had been recovered and needed some fixing.
The original seat cover was leather!

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There were a gazillion nails to remove!

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Leather!

Using my handy dandy Dremel saw and some wood I  had in the garage, I cut a new support for the bottom.

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I love this tool!

When I removed the gazillion tiny tacks, I found the seat had been stuffed with horse hair!  A discovery which is somewhat exciting and disgusting all the the same time!  The horse hair stuffing does not necessarily provide an age for the chair but it does indicate the chair is vintage if not antique.

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Cool and Yucky!

Originally, I was planning on covering the seat with either burlap or a painter’s drop cloth, with perhaps a graphic on it.  However, once the chair was painted, I didn’t like the look.

Then on a trip to my local FabricLand, I spotted a cool black and grey remnant in the discount bin.  I was really drawn to it but I kept thinking I already had some of it at home.  It just looked so familiar.  Regardless I decided it would look great on the Pottery Barn like chair and it was only going to cost me $3.

After I got it home, I realized why it was so familiar!
It looks just like my little Coach bag!
And the weight and texture of the fabrics are very similar!

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They are so similar!

 All I needed to buy was the fabric because I had the foam, paint and varathane.

Pretty nice chair for around $10!

Pottery Barn meets Coach

Pottery Barn meets Coach!

I LOVE IT!!  HAPPY DANCE TIME IN THE LEAVES!

It would appear,
I created a DOUBLE KNOCK OFF!

Should Coach start making furniture?  Tell me what you think?

Aug 302013
 


First off, starting a blog just before going on vacation for nearly a month probably wasn’t the best plan. However, on the up-side I actually DID start a blog; something I had been procrastinating over for about a year. So far, I have set up this site and I know how to add posts like this one but I know there are so, so many more things I need to learn. When I get a chance, I have been watching Lynda.com training videos but I am still at the beginning. When I was teaching at the college, I did teach very basic webdesign and I have created websites but a blog is quite different and it would be nice if I could earn a bit of $$$ on the side. It will just take time and patience.

So back to the toys… I actually have two new toys. One is mine and one belongs to my handy dandy neighbour. In the past few months, I have dabbled a bit with upholstering. Simple items like chair seats and backs. To accomplish the projects below:

DSCN1450 P.'s Dining Chair

Not ideal tools I used the tools on the left which worked but were not fun! (BTW, the tools are resting on my next victim aka the “duct tape chair”) Screw drivers are not good staple removers and when the wood frame was hard, I had to tap in some staples with the hammer. DSCN1532

But now that my garage if filling up with upholstery projects, I knew I needed to invest in some new “toys”.

I am now the proud owner of a power stapler, a staple remover and some needles for tufting! The darling little potbelly compressor is compliments of my neighbour. All shown on the right. You gotta love handy (generous) neighbours!

Needless to say, I am pumped because I can see some progress coming my way! Especially those “Hmm-I-should-cover-those”-type projects which include my office chair, some folding chairs and then the growing inventory in my garage.

I’m giddy! Need I say more?

Do new power tools make you giddy? Or am I just a weird, handy-wife?

Enjoy the last weekend of summer!

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