Monthly Archives: March 2012

Guest Room, Part 5: Chevron Upholstered Bed Frames

Last night at midnight I finished transforming my (antique?) twin bed frames for the guest room. Now I finally feel like I’m really getting somewhere with the guest room makeover!

I got the beds in November, but this is real-time decorating, my friends. Decorating fit in amongst work, wedding planning, Etsy shop running, and too much business travel. This is also decorating that was fit in amongst the whims of the winter weather – which this year, thankfully, weren’t as bad as in years before.

Antique Twin Bed Frame Before & After

Here’s how I got from the original, dusty and rusty frames that cluttered my parents’ basement to the current awesomeness:

First, Ryan helped me re-size the tall footboards, which would have made the very tiny room feel too cramped in their original size.  Next up – sanding, filling scratches, priming, painting, and finally sealing.  These steps caused the long delay in completion.  The painting and poly sealing had to be done outside in moderate weather, and many weekends were spent hauling the frames out of the basement and into the yard for a few coats of paint or sealer.  You can find the detailed painting process here.

At this point, the bed frames entered the guest room – but they weren’t ready for sleepovers just yet!

Some of the wooden side rails were pretty beat up, with large chunks of veneer broken off the visible sides.  Even though I was painting and not staining, I didn’t think I could do a good job of patching the missing strips of veneer.  Instead, I decided to upholster them with fabric – covering all the imperfections and adding a little extra awesomeness to the frames.

Here are the upholstery steps:

1.  Cut strips of fabric that are 2 inches longer, and 3 inches taller,  than the bed rails.

The chevron fabric I used was only 54″ wide, with the stripes going in that direction, so I had to sew two pieces together to make a long enough strip for the long rails.   I matched up the patterns to make the seam less visible. To ensure I sewed in just the right spot, I first used iron-on hem tape to seal the seam together.  Then followed up with the sewing machine.

2.  Hem the edges, to prevent fraying and create durability, using iron-on hem tape.  Just iron your crease, then slip some hem tape inside, and iron (with steam) again.   Be sure to check the length before doing the final side hem, making sure that the strip is just long enough to cover the bed rail.

Bed Upholstery Hem Fabric Strips

3.   Wrap & staple the fabric to the bed rails.   I held the strips in place with some painter’s tape, then stapled the top of the fabric to the inside top of the rail. Pulling the fabric taught but not crazy tight around the front and bottom of the rail, I then stapled the bottom to the inside (bottom) of the rail.

*I applied the staples about 1 inch apart, wanting to be sure the fabric was attached well.  Also, I was careful to keep the chevron stripes lined up – I didn’t want them veering across at an angle!

The process took about 2 hours, and really went faster once I got the hang of   “staple . . . line up . . . pull taught. . . . staple.”

Once I popped the mattresses in, you couldn’t see the inside rails where the staples were applied.  Perfect!

Chevron Upholstered Bed Rails

I don’t have bed linens yet (unless you want to see the first sheets I ever slept on) and the light is horrible in these photos, but last night I was too excited about completing the project to wait and photograph them in good light.

Here’s a little detail:  The beds have a slightly distressed paint job, because some of the edges showed through when i did the final stain job.  It’s subtle enough that I liked it and kept it.

The yellow Dwell Studio pillows from my shop are just there so I can see how the warm gold color  works with the dark teal of the chevron and the Tempaper accent wall.  I like it, and can’t wait to sew some custom pillows and accessories for the space to bring in even more color and pattern.  And then I need to find a light paint color for the yellowish-white walls.

Do you see that mid-century modern cabinet that’s serving as a night stand?  I snagged that at Goodwill, and it’s probably going to become a two-toned piece, with white top and sides, and the nice wood face on the front.

So much to do, but I feel like the hardest, most time-intensive project is behind me. From here on out, it’s all about adding the fun stuff!

Do you like the patterned bed rails, or would you prefer a more solid look in your home?  I’m stoked; the chevron fabric-upholstered sides really give the beds a custom look.  And changing the look is as simple as pulling out the staples and wrapping them with new fabric.

Approximate Cost: $75  (fabric, paint, sealer, sanding sponges)

Approximate # Hardware Store Trips: 7

Approximate time to completion:  3 months, but who’s counting?

You know what?  In my almost three years of home blogging, this is the first time I’ve painted a piece of furniture white.  Can I get my “Official DIY Blogger” badge now?

***I am most definitely sharing this project over at Thrifty Decor Chick’s Spring Paint Party!!

Guest Room, Part 4: A Three-Month Paint Job

Ok, so I wrote a detailed post about how I transformed the guest bed frames, but it was so long that I decided to pull out the details on the painting process and share them separately.   Here’s how I gave my best shot at a professional-grade paint job on the bed frames:

Antique Twin Bed Frame Before & After

Re-Sizing:  First, Ryan helped me re-size the tall footboards, which would have made the very tiny room feel too cramped in their original size.

Sanding:  I sanded the wood frames really well to remove all the old, chipping varnish. I briefly considered re-staining them, but there were a lot scratches and dents that needed filling with wood putty.

Priming:  I used Zinnser Oil-Based primer, recommended by Kate at Centsational Girl.  It did a great job of masking the blotchy, dark stain of the wood.  If I went back in time I’d do two things differently:  I’d apply the primer outside, to avoid filling my house with horrid fumes.  I’d also use the spray Zinnser on the curvy bed posts, because it took forever to brush it on.

Painting:  I spent several evenings and weekends hauling the beds out into the nicer weather, applying coat after coat of white spray paint.  The rumors are true, you have to apply very thin coats in order to get a smooth, drip-free finish.  I used Rustoleum High Performance Enamel, which claims to provide “superior coverage and hiding. . . in heavy-duty and commercial environments.”

Rustoleum High Performance Enamel

After going through about 6 cans of spray paint between the two beds, and still not having complete coverage, I tried the brush-on version of the Rustoleum, but hated the texture and application of it.  It was very hard to apply it smoothly, so I switched back to the spray version.  In the end I think I used 11 cans of spray paint.

*I did lightly sand down the frames (using extra fine grit sandpaper) in between the final coats of spray paint.  It helped me achieve a much smoother finish.

Sealing:   I lightly sanded the painted surfaces again, then applied  semi-gloss Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane, in spray form because that was much easier to apply to all the curvy posts.  This had to be done in moderate weather to ensure good drying, so it didn’t happen until early March.

And with that, the three-month bed painting process completed.  The side rails still weren’t finished, but I had special plans for them.  You’ll find all the details for that in the next post.


Basement Makeover, Part 4: “Mapping” the Color Palette

Weekend realization:  the design process is so much easier when you have a color palette to base your plan off of.

One reason our basement makeover was lagging behind (aside from the sewing studio changes) was our lack of a color palette.  With just some mid-century wooden furniture and a dark gray sofa, I felt overwhelmed with choices.  Anything goes with dark gray!  Where to start decorating?

Thankfully, an “aha” moment came during some blog reading last week.  Designers commonly build up a color palette around an inspiration piece early on in the design process.  Why don’t I?  Surely I know better.

Still, we had to have somewhere to start; and that somewhere came in the form of Ryan’s vintage pull-down school map, a Christmas gift from me to him last year, courtesy of Just L – our favorite mid-century modern shop.

Did you spy it hanging on the far wall of the basement in yesterday’s post?

I hung the map on Sunday night, and we realized that it offers a great selection of colors that all pair well with the dark gray couch.  Brightly colored accents are a must in a dark space like a basement, I think.

Vintage Map Basement Color Palette

Above you’ll see the color palette that I came up with.  When I asked Ryan about using the Tiffany Blue and the Orange as the main splashes of color, he said that he was OK with it, as long as we used more of the blue and less of the orange. I don’t blame him; with a color that bright, a little bit goes a long way.

There’s a lot of other greens and blues, and I think we’ll use them sparingly as well.  I’m excited to have so many options to play with.

Vintage Map Detail Ship Routes

One of the neat details are the apparent cruise liner routes marked on the map.  See how it says “New York to Southampton 3595” along a dotted line?  These lines cross all over the bodies of water shown on the map.  It’s amazing how much things have changed since 1956, the year this map was printed.

So much to see, I could stare at it all day.  I’m really excited to have the map hung.  Now why did it take 14 months?  Oh right, we were trying to figure out a design plan for the basement.  How funny that this map was the very solution, right under our noses this whole time.

Building the World’s Largest Sewing Table {Sewing Studio Update}

Why does every one of my construction projects seem to turn into an adventure??

Sunday morning found me revisiting a favorite old hobby:  waking up early to quietly rearrange and redecorate a room, just like I used to do when I was a little kid.  In this instance, it was my basement sewing studio that fell victim to my early-morning inspirations.  Fortunately I’m all grown up now, so there were no parents around to wake up and grumble “go back to bed!”

You’re probably wondering why I was, yet again, rearranging the studio. The answer is simple:  It wasn’t finished.

After moving the sewing studio from my office to the basement in January, the basement makeover project stood by as I got settled in the space.  I set my existing tables and supplies in the form I thought best suited the space, with no attention to aesthetics, so I could quickly get back to sewing and filling orders.  I’d just added my first custom dog beds to the shop, and the many orders were keeping me busy.

It’s good to work or live in a space before making any big design decisions.  After using my new sewing studio space for 3 months, I came up with two functional issues that had to change.

First:   The L-shaped tables had to go. 

I can’t have a table directly to my right when I’m sitting at the long table sewing.  It keeps me too far from the wall where I like to have my supplies hanging.  That way I can grab the scissors or thread that I need, use them, then put them back straight away.  And trust me – if I can’t quickly and easily put things away, then a mess results.

Second:  A much wider single sewing & cutting table was needed.

For smaller sewing projects, my 36″ x 24″ cutting mat was fine.  But as I started making more XL dog beds which were 44″ wide, I was frustrated by the lack of workspace.  I was using the ironing board to help me roll out and drape yards and yards of fabric.

When I realized that my inefficient workspace had me dreading dog bed orders, it was time to super-size the work space.

This brings us to Sunday morning.  I’d finally figured out how to build a simple, enormous table.  I just had to move everything out of the way, measure out the space, and head to Home Depot.

The messiness of the studio mid-construction.

I didn’t count on Home Depot having a broken plywood-sheet-cutting saw, but you should know by now that I’d never let something like that stop me from sticking to my plan.

“Ok,” I thought.  “I’ll just buy the whole damn board.  It’s only 8 feet by 4 feet; surely it will fit in my wagon.  Everything always fits in my wagon, and then we can cut it at home.”

*insert error buzzer sound here*

The plywood did not actually fit in my wagon.  That’s a first.  So I tied it to the roof of the car and drove home at approximately 5 miles an hour, one arm out the window gripping the board for dear life.

Ryan . . . well, after Ryan recovered from the shock of seeing what I’d brought home, he helped me  cut it down to size and all that jazz.    That board was a beast, unweildy and heavy, and much grouchiness ensued.  I had to run to Home Depot a second time for better screws, but then I got the legs attached.  Time to add the trim, and sand the baby down for staining.

But I realized I needed a third trip to Home Depot.  Nope, not gonna happen.   I put down the tools, stepped away from the saw, and realized that it was 5 o’clock somewhere.

By the end of the night, at least the studio was tidier.

This didn’t end up being a one-day project after all.  Although right now it’s just a massive red-oak-veneered plywood board with six legs, I can already tell it’s going to be utterly heavenly – and so worth the work involved.

I can already envision the fun crafting parties that this will enable – like sitting around the table with friends, all sewing or scrapbooking.  I mean, it is a 4 ft by 7 ft table, after all.

Of course, it was really worth it just to see the horrified “What is she doing now” expression on Ryan’s house when he walked into the front yard just in time to see me rolling down the street.   As it turns out, he couldn’t see the clear twine that tied it to the car, and he actually thought I was JUST HOLDING THE BOARD ON TOP OF THE CAR.

What does he think I am – completely nuts? 😉