Category Archives: Thrifting, Upcycling, Trash Picking

The Nursery: Reupholstering a Curbside Ottoman…Finally!

As part of creating the baby’s nursery, I reupholstered an ottoman that had been languishing in our shed for years.  This ottoman is basically as old as my relationship with my husband – I found it in my apartment’s trash right after we started dating.  I immediately removed the old upholstery because it was in rough, dirty shape, but I’ve had the wood frame ever since.

Ryan has teased me about the ottoman ever since, because it seemed that it was never going to get recovered.  The thing was, I didn’t have a good place for it until now, and I didn’t see the point in wasting fabric on reupholstery if I didn’t have a use in mind.

Well, Ryan, I told you there was a reason for holding on to it! :)Ottoman Reupholster ottoman in
Read all about how I did it – and learn my secret to really neat, crisp (like white curtains) corners, over at the Apartment Living Blog.

How is it Now? Upcycled Window Frame Jewelry Organizer

My upcycled window frame jewelry organizer has been one of my most popular and most shared projects to date. Therefore I thought it a good candidate for a “how is it now” update, where I share how a DIY project has actually held up with time and use.

Upcycled Window Frame Jewelry Organizer

I’ve made two of these jewelry display windows over the years, the first having window screening in the panels to hold earrings, and the second having burlap-covered-boards in the window panels to hold earrings.

I’ve been using the second version, the burlap and lace one, for more than 2 years now. I’m pleased to report that it’s working just as well now as it was on the day I made it!

If you’re contemplating making this yourself, I strongly recommend the burlap version over the metal screen version. The metal screening was hard to work with, and the burlap looks nicer.

Having my jewelry hanging on display has made it so easy to see what I have and to easily put it away when I’m done wearing it. I’m really glad I came up with this idea and I can’t imagine going back to a different jewelry organizing system.

The verdict? I’d give this DIY project an A+ for durability and usefulness.

If there’s a particular project of mine and you’d like to know how it’s held up over the years, just let me know in the comments!

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!