Category Archives: Before & After

DIY Project Fail: Two-Tone Mid-Century End Table

Do you ever get tired of seeing all the perfect before & afters of DIY projects?  Let’s be real for a minute and admit that not every DIY attempt results in a project you actually want to use in your home.

Today I’ve got just such an example, and I’ll share the process I went through as well as the end result, and my thoughts on why it didn’t work in my home. 1-DSC_0056

I found this mid-century two-tier end table in a thrift store for only $10 this past summer.  It felt like solid wood, and I thought it would be fun to strip off the sad black paint job and return it to a more authentic stained-wood look.

I applied Citri-Strip to remove the paint.  This is my favorite paint / varnish stripper, because it’s more natural and the fumes aren’t bad.  (Still, I did it outside and wore a ventilator mask because I was pregnant at the time.)

I got excited as I scraped the paint off the sides and legs and found pretty wood grain hiding beneath. 2-DSC_0058

However, when I removed the paint from the two table tops, I was disappointed to see that they were made of MDF surrounded by a thin edge of solid hardwood.  There went my dream of refinishing with wood stain alone. 3-DSC_0063 4-IMG_2087

I ended up staining the hardwood parts and painting the two table tops white.  I’ve always liked the look of mid-century furniture refinished in a mix of stained wood and white paint, and had been excited to try that myself.

However, I disliked how the table turned out in the two-tone look. Still, I tried setting it up in the living room; ever since we got the sofa recovered in leather, I’ve felt like there are too many wood-tone pieces in that space.

Perhaps the white paint would add some good variety?

Nope.  The scale was off and the color looked harsh and mismatched against the rest of the space.

5-IMG_3207I ended up giving the table to my friend to use in her apartment, suggesting that perhaps the table tops would look better painted in a dark color, such as teal.

The moral of this story?

Sometimes there’s a reason that secondhand furniture is coated in a bad paint job!

DIY Try: Overdye a Thrift Store Wool Rug

I recently tried a project I saw on Pinterest – dyeing a thrifted wool rug to make it less ugly and more awesome, in an attempt to have a budget-friendly large rug for our basement TV room.   I had mixed results, which I imagine is often the case when a budget-friendly solution seems too good to be true.

If you want to see my pros & cons list, skip to the end of the post. DIY Overdye Wool RugIt all started when I scoured Pinterest for budget-friendly DIY rug ideas.  One idea I stumbled onto was the overdyed rug, where you take an ugly old natural fiber rug and dye it a rich jewel tone to mask the outdated pattern and make it more modern.

In a great twist of fate, I found a large (10 x 12) wool rug at the thrift store for only $15.  It was filthy, but after four rounds of steam cleaning at home, the water finally ran clear and the rug was ready to dye.

I tackled the dyeing process when Melissa, my college roommate, spent the weekend with me.  She’s the perfect person to rope into any DIY adventure.

The rugs I read about were small, so people were able to soak them in tubs of dye.  My rug was way too big for any of that, so I laid the rug on a large tarp in my back yard.  I mixed 8 boxes of teal RIT dye with hot water in a plastic laundry hamper, and then Melissa and I proceeded to pour the dye over the rug with watering cans.


The dye pooled in different areas and wanted to run downhill to one end of the rug, even though the yard appeared flat.

The wool rug was so thick and densely woven that the dye wasn’t soaking all the way through, so eventually we started stomping the dye into it with our feet, like we were doing grape stomping.  (Our toenails are still blue. . . )

We let the dye sit on the rug for an hour, and then rinsed it off with the hose as well as we could.  Finally, we left it in the sun to dry before bringing it inside.  2-DSC_0007

Fortunately Ryan and I have a dehumidifier in the basement, because I think the rug needed several days to dry completely.

This past weekend Ryan and I rolled the rug into place, and even though the 80’s pattern was still evident, it looked much better than its original beige and pastel colors.
1-DSC_0023The teal color was only 50% as dark as I wanted it to be, but I didn’t feel like repeating the process.  The large rug is really cumbersome to deal with, even more so when it’s soaking wet.

There are natural variations in the dye so that some areas are darker than others, and I don’t mind that so much. This one corner, which was on the downhill end, has the richer, darker teal that is closer to what I’d hoped for:5-DSC_0033This corner is lighter and more dingy looking:

And this corner is the worst:3-DSC_0030

6-DSC_0034So, what’s the verdict?

I could work with the variations.  The worst corner could go under the sofa area, where it would be less obvious. And the basement looks much better with a big, colorful rug anchoring the seating area.

However, we’ve decided this isn’t a good rug for our basement.  Here’s why:

  • When we pulled up an area of the rug to move it, we found teal dust underneath it.  This makes me think I didn’t rinse it out all the way.
  • Our basement floods after days of heavy rain, and I worry that if the rug gets wet it may stain the tiles or grout teal.
  • The whole reason we wanted a cheap rug was because my one cat occasionally pees on the basement rug, and again – if the dye comes out, that could be a big mess.


  • This is a cheap & easy way to update an ugly rug.


  • The larger the rug, the harder to dye it.
  • It’s hard to rinse the rug thoroughly, so there’s a risk that moisture on the rug could cause stains.
  • Large rugs don’t fit in the dryer, so you can’t really heat set the dye.

Overall, if you want to create an inexpensive, colorful rug, I think you’re better off painting a rug or trying one of the other DIY rug ideas.  I don’t think dyeing a large rug like this is worth the risk of staining.

Room Tour: My Janery Sewing Studio is Finished!

My Janery Sewing Studio is finally . . . wait for it. . . finished!  Just in time for me to enter it in the Creating with the Stars contest at East Coast Creative.  So exciting!!

And you know what? I feel like this is my best propaganda yet to convince you that, when you rent, you can still customize a space to make it suit your needs and look awesome. And it feels so good to look at the room and know that I transformed it from a totally blank slate.

Because this is the space where I let loose my creativity, I wanted to keep the decor relatively simple.  Enter the pure white and gold theme, and lots of white space on the walls.

Before I talk details, first let me give you a quick visual tour of the 10 x 10 room.  We’ll start at the French doors and circle the room.

Looking through the open doors, it’s hard to believe the room was ever boring and empty like this:

Guest Room Before Empty Now it is so awesome I can barely contain myself!!

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This wall may someday hold a floor-to-ceiling cork board.

3-Janery Sewing Studio Tour-002 4-Janery Sewing Studio Tour-003 6-Janery Sewing Studio Tour-005

Now, just in case you’re new here, I’d like to show you all the projects I did to transform the space.

1. For my serger corner, I found an antique sewing table and chair in my parents’ basement, and recovered the chair.  I painted the artwork frames with gold leaf paint.