Friday, June 8, 2012

New House, New Ideas, New Projects

So... I know I have been neglecting my blog lately but I have good reasons. For the last year my husband and I have been trying to buy a house. As a result I have gone  back to work and all of my time has been consumed by trying to find and buy a house. But hard work has paid off and we are finally moving into a new (well... new to us) house. I am so excited I can hardly contain myself because it means that there are so many possibilities.

So... While I have neglected my blog and my two readers (thanks, Mom and Dad, for reading my blog) I am now going to make it up to you by writing about all of the projects my husband and I do around the house. We love home improvement projects and we are both very creative but we are always on a tight budget. This means that trash to treasure projects will be in overdrive and trips the the local thrift store and salvage yard will be frequent. You can also bet on some thrifty and interesting solutions to problems.

So here it is... our house. I know, it's not much to look at. I call it the "80's leftovers" house, but in time it will be a Locke Into Design paradise fit for it's new owners. Just the thought of it makes me want to roll up me sleeves and get to work.

The first order of business for the outside is a new roof, some paint, and pulling out the overgrown bushes to make way for landscaping. On the inside the popcorn ceilings are coming down and some color is going up on the walls. The kitchen is being remodeled by reusing as many of the old 80's cabinets as possible, and the vinyl flooring is being replaced with tile.

I know what your thinking... the only good thing is the carpet and yes that vase that the previous owners left on the fire place does look like they left grandma behind but thankfully they did not.

We are going to raise the ceiling in the kitchen and open it up to the living room. Painting the cabinets grey and the walls a fresh shade of sea glass green. 

The dinning room and living room don't need much. The fake beams on the ceiling and horrible fans are the first things to go and we are still debating on whether to keep the wood stove. 

You'll just have to keep reading to see what happens anything is a possibility. We're starting with a blank slate and doing all the work ourselves.

Wish us luck.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wine Cork Serving Tray

I came across some bags of wine corks at the thrift store and it didn't matter that I didn't know what I was going to do with them, I had to have them. I decided that I would spice up an old serving tray that I had bought several months before for use in one of my son's school projects. To date this serving tray has been used, repainted, sold in a thrift store, served as the base of a Native American village diorama, and now it has returned to being a serving tray. Only with a little Locke Into Design flair.

The first thing I did was prep the surface for a new coat of paint. The dark brown just wasn't doing it for me so I lightly sanded the surface and wiped off the dust with a damp cloth. For the paint color I rummaged around in my left over Wall paint and found a light blue green color that was left over from my son's room. Most people would probably look at wine corks and think brown or burgundy but I wanted a color that was bright and fun that made the wine corks pop out rather than blend in.

After painting the sides of the tray I cut the corks in half lenghtwise and laid out my pattern in the bottom of the tray to make sure they all fit. The corks didn't quite fit all the way to the end of the tray as whole pieces so I cut some in half and staggered the rows so that I wouldn't end up with a whole row of half corks at one end.

To cut the corks in half lenghtwise I used a pair of pruning sheers and sniped about 1/4 of an inch through the cork at a time. I had to have some scissors handy too because the plastic around the synthetic corks didn't always want to cut all the way. After I filled the bottom of the tray with a layer of corks I lifted each one at a time and hot glued them to the bottom of the tray.

The finished tray has found a home on the ottoman next to my arm chair and it looks great. You may think that with the bumpiness of the corks things might fall over but they don't because being right next to each other they create a consistent surface.

Reupholstered Sofa

As I have mentioned before I have a tendency to take things that others are throwing away and fix them up for my house. So naturally when my husband found an old love seat on Craig's List that someone was giving away for free, he thought that it would be the perfect Christmas gift for me.
Now... I have reupholstered things before but I have never undertaken anything of this scale and I have to say NEVER AGAIN!
Reupholstering a couch is not really that complicated but it is certainly not for the faint of heart. (As I quickly found out.)
It takes determination and hard work to pull all the old fabric off and to remember how to put it back on if you have never done it before. Once you start, there is no turning back. You have to press on and finish.
This is what I had to start out with...

and this is what I had two days after pulling out what must have been thousands of staples and three bandaged fingers latter...

It was time consuming and painful but if you want to be efficient and have a pattern to follow when you are done you can't just start ripping fabric off.
Starting at the back of the couch, every piece I took off I saved to use later so that I knew what shape and size I need to cut out of the new fabric. They became the pattern pieces for the new fabric.

I also kept track of the order in which I took the pieces off because that determines the order in which they go back. The first piece I took off was the last piece to put back on and the last piece I took off was the first of the new fabric to put back on. A good tip is to number the pieces as you take them off, cut the corresponding piece out of the new fabric and then work backwards to put the pieces back on.
Once I got all of the fabric of it was time to get new fabric. I chose a raspberry colored fabric in a light weight cotton canvas.
Why raspberry? I'm so glad you asked...
When my husband an I were in the process of buying our first house we looked at furniture and found a raspberry pink, slip covered sofa at Restoration Hardware and my husband, of all people, loved it. (real men love pink couches) : ) We thought it would be a fun statement piece for our new decor. But, alas, by the time we had closed on our house, they had discontinued that color and we went with an evergreen sofa instead.
Every once in a while my husband will say, "I still want my pink sofa." So, in getting me one that I had to reupholster he was really ensuring that our honeymoon dreams of having that Restoration Hardware sofa would come true in some small way. When I asked him what fabric I should use he didn't skip a beat.
This is what the sofa looks like now.

The hard part is done. I still have to finish the bottom skirt to hide the worn legs and sew covers for the cushions but you get the idea and if you ask me it looks fabulous.
A few tips if you want to attempt this yourself:
  • When choosing a piece to reupholster look at how many details the piece has. Every place where separate pieces of fabric meet there will be more than one row of staples or tacks. For example my couch had a piping detail so there was a row of staples for the top fabric, then one for the piping, and yet another for the bottom fabric. Three pieces of fabric meeting = three layers = three rows of staples.
  • You can eliminate details like piping along the edges in order to simplify the design and make your life easier. I took out the piping all together to have more of a casual slip cover look and I decided to put a skirt on the bottom to hide the legs and eliminate complicated detail.
  • Wear safety glasses when pulling out the staples. A staple in the eye is not fun and depending on how old and dirty the piece is you may want to were a dust mask as well. The fabric on my couch was old and had a coating on the back that had became brittle. Even though I vacuumed it thoroughly before I started, every time I pulled a staple out I let loose the coating on the back.
  • If you have trouble remembering how the pieces go back on the couch, number them as you take them off and note how they were attached. ie. tack strip, staples.
  • Use the old pieces of fabric as a template to cut new fabric.
The finished Product.

    I'm Thankfull For...

    This year has been a really stressful year and I am glad that Thanksgiving has rolled around so that I can shrug off my discontent and be thankful.
    For the past year my husband and I have been trying to sell or condo, get approved for a new loan and by a house to no avail. Discouraged would be an understatement but in all of this I keep reminding myself that I have so much to be thankful for.

    Even though we hate our condo with a burning passion I am thankful that we have a roof over our heads and that by some miracle we are able to pay our bills. Everyone is going through hard times and thankfully even though my family has been hit we have not been knocked out. I am thankful that my husband still has a job and that we are all healthy.
    I am thankful for my family. We have two growing boys who bring us joy everyday. We also have parents, grand parents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters that provide us with support and love. This Thanksgiving we are assembling at my parents house and I can't wait to be there. When I am with my family all of my troubles seem to disappear.
    Part of our Thanksgiving this year will be spent at the hospital. Just this last week my husbands Grandfather had a seizure. Both of our grandparents' health is becoming very fragile and we fear the day when we get the phone but I am thankful that we will have one more thanksgiving with them and that my children will be able to remember them.
    Of all the things I am thankful for, the thing I am most thankful for is knowing that God will always provide for me and my family. I am thankful that he provided for my salvation by sending His Son to die on the cross for my sins. I am thankful that He holds the whole world in His hands and that nothing and no one is greater than Him.

    Holloween Costumes

    In keeping with the traditions of my mother I don't buy costumes for my kids, I make them.
    I have two rules when it comes to Halloween costumes. The first one is that they are not allowed to be anything scary or evil. I know what you're thinking... that's what Halloween is about, scaring the pants of people. Well, I think of Halloween more as one big dress up party and I don't like gross scary stuff, so that's my rule. Deal with it.
    The second rule is that you can't be the same thing twice. Each year has to be something different. This rule is especially difficult for my oldest son because if he had his way he would be the same thing every year.
    This year the little one wants to be a robot like his brother last year and my oldest wants to be a dinosaur.
    When starting to plan the costumes, I remembered that the boys had a large plastic "blow up" toy dinosaur that they put a hole in. Instead of throwing it away I put it in the closet not knowing what I would ever do with it. Turns out I needed it for a Halloween costume.

    I cut it apart and put arm holes in it so that he could ware it like a coat and used duck tape to hold whole thing together. I thought I might use juice pouches to fill in some of the spaces if the plastic dinosaur shell was too small but all of the dimensions worked out well. With a green shirt and sweat pants on, everything will blend together.

    I guess you could say I was determined to use juice pouches to make a costume because I asked the little one if he wanted to be a juice pouch monster but he insisted on being a robot. It didn't take me long to figure out how to use juice pouches though. Instead of a box, spray painted silver, like I did for his brother I made the body of the robots out of juice pouches and used dryer vent for the arms and legs. The finishing detail will be to glue some circuit boards that we took out of some old toys to the front of the body.
    Can't wait to add their photo to the gallery bellow. Have a safe and happy Halloween. Scary too (since I know most people who aren't me like it that way) but mostly safe and happy.

    The first time we went trick or treating I dressed my oldest up in one of my shirts, tied scarves around him and bought a few props to make him a pirate.

    His first year of school he had to dress as a story book character and bring the book to school with him. He went dressed as Remy the rat from Ratatouille.

    Next he was a very green alien and the little one had a penguin suit that a friend gave us.

    Last year they went as a robot and Handy Many. The little one had to stop his brother every few houses and fix the robot.

    Oak Leaf Wreath

    Another fun fall project!

    I made a wreath out of juice pouches and I have to say that it came out beautifully. Also, I have to confess that while I was making it my hatred for plastic grocery bags seemed to subside a little bit.
    That's because I used the plastic bags that I refuse to throw away to make the ring for the wreath.
    I tied two bags together at the handles and then tied the bottoms together with some floral wire to make a ring.

    With six of these plastic bag rings made I used the floral wire to tie them all together wrapping it around the bags tightly to make a solid ring.

    At this point it was not very pretty. When making a wreath in this way the plastic bags need to be covered with something. You can use fabric or ribbon but I decided to stick with juice pouches.

    I made a strip of juice pouches and wrapped it around the plastic bag ring. I used some hot glue to secure the ends of the juice pouches and to tack down the ribbon so that it wouldn't move too much.

    The leaves that I made were all cut out of individual juice pouches and sewn around the edges. To attach them the wreath I used straight pins with pearl heads to fix them to the wreath. Before I attached them I crumpled them up in a ball to give them more of a three dimensional shape.

    I love the way it turn out and I plan to use this same technique to make other wreaths. I think the most fabulous thing about this project is the use of the plastic bags. Wreath forms can be really expensive but using plastic bags and making your own costs pennies!

    Kids Craft Aprons

    On Friday this week I have the absolute honor of going to my son's class and doing Masterpiece Art with them.
    What is Masterpiece Art?
    It is a non-profit organization that helps expose kids of all ages and grade levels to the world of visual art. As a volunteer you are provided with a poster print of a famous or sometimes not so famous work of art and a packet of information about the artist and their art. You go into a classroom once a month and give the kids a mini art lesson complete with art project.
    This week my son chose the poster of Andre Derain's The London Bridge. We are going create our own paintings in the style of Fauvism using bright tempera paint colors. I am a little nervous about letting the kids paint in the classroom. Last time I did that my son spilled a cup of water on the table right unto the little girl sitting across from him... and it was picture day.
    This time I am going to be prepared with craft aprons made out of juice pouches for all the kids to keep their clothes clean. As a parent I know this effort will be most appreciated by other parents.
    The aprons were very simple to make.
    I started by sewing 8 juice pouches together in the same manner that the place mats are made to make the bottom of the apron.

    Then I sewed 6 more together to make the top.

    I sewed the top and the bottom together being carefull to center the top.

    I used a small round plate as a guide to round of the corners of the juice pouches at the top of the apron.

    The small opening it created in the pouch made a perfect place to sew the ribbon in for the ties around the neck.

    I decided for the waste to have a continuous strip of ribbon across to make the ties.

    I could have just used the ribbon on either side for the ties and saved myself some material and money but I liked the way the band across the waist of the apron looked. I used whatever scrap ribbon I had, shopped the clearance ribbon, and bought some from the thrift store and dollar to save myself money.

    Thank goodness they were that easy! There are 27 kids in his class!