2014 Project Status: February / March

In an attempt to get things done, I kicked off 2014 with a big ambitious project list for the Borrowed Abode.  I decided to share updates every other month.  I need to post these updates, because seeing the list, and how much I have left to do, helps keep me motivated.


I finally finished the studio – so that’s one room “done” for now!

Living Room & Dining Room

  • Reupholster Sofa – Post here
  • Sew Curtains
  • Find Large Door Mat
  • Sew New Pillows
  • Cover Lamp Shades
  • Reupholster Knoll Chairs
  • Resolve Dining Room Art Situation
  • Sew Table Runner


I should have done the sensible projects (rug & weather stripping) during the cold months, but instead I did the fun stuff.  I think a rug is on the back burner for now, since the weather is warming up.

  • Add Weather Stripping to Door
  • Find a Rug
  • Organize Undersink Cabinet -Post here
  • Organize Spices – Post here


The redo of this room all hangs on the new bed.  I hoped to start building the bed in March, but lots of business travel threw off my momentum. April, maybe?

  • Build Bed Frame
  • Buy Mattress
  • New Night Stands
  • Hang Art
  • Make Curtains
  • Make Pillows
  • Touch Up Paint
  • Build Dog “Bed”?


  • Refinish Dresser
  • Change Charging Station
  • Contain Cord Clutter on Desk
  • Sew Dog Bed for Merlin
  • Cover Lamp Shade


  • Re-caulk Tub
  • New towels and bath mats

Basement Rec Room

  • Paint
  • Hang Art
  • Get Rug
  • Refinish Coffee Table
  • Refinish Book Shelf
  • Refinish Dresser

Storage Room / Workshop

This space has become cluttered and messy again. We need to reconfigure it to allow us to more easily use all our woodworking tools.

Back Porch

  • Add Cafe Lights
  • Refinish & Recover Chairs
  • Better Storage?

Miscellaneous Projects

  • Make a Photobook for 2013
  • Sew a Quilt (in progress)
  • Finish Old Scrapbooks  (in progress)
  • Reupholster Stool (in progress)
  • Frame Italy Art
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How We’re Preparing Financially for Pet Emergencies

I used to have a very logical and frugal plan for my pets’ veterinary care in old age: if they were diagnosed with anything terminal, I would keep them comfortable but not treat the illness. After all, only crazy people spend thousands to prolong their pet’s life, right?

This past fall I had to eat my words when my dog Charlie was diagnosed with cancer. Looking your beloved pet in the face and thinking of dollar signs is so incredibly painful. My entire perspective shifted, and I handed over the credit card because I wasn’t ready to lose Charlie.

My husband and I paid for all of Charlie’s care with cash from our emergency funds, but the treatment cost more than we would have predicted. I’m going to share the cold, hard numbers today, even though they’re scary, in the hopes that my experience can help some of you be more prepared than we were. . . .

Continue reading at Budget Blonde, where I had the honor of sharing this guest post last week.

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Why We Chose Full Grain Leather for Upholstery

After sharing that Ryan and I got our sofa back from the upholstery shop, I wanted to discuss the reasons why we chose to use real leather instead of any other material. Also, did you know there’s  several different “grades” of leather, with some of them being really crappy? Before this, I had no idea!

This has been an adventure in taking the time to save up the money to do a project right the first time. In  the past I’ve been tempted to choose a cheaper option thinking it will be good enough, and that has sometimes been a mistake.  In the case of our sofa, since we loved the lines and were spending the money to get it recovered, we wanted it to be just right.How To Choose Leather Upholstery

Why Leather?

When I first purchased the white couch, I thought I’d have it redone in white faux leather.  But we were both disappointed in the black faux leather slipcover (from ComfortWorks) that we put on the rec room sofa.  It feels plastic-y and scratches show white fabric underneath.

What about fabric?  Many fabrics require maintenance.  Washing slipcovers or vacuuming.  And heaven forbid the cats snag the fabric again.

This brought us back to the topic of leather, which we had been avoiding because of cost and animal rights reasons. But for what we wanted in a sofa, leather really fit the bill:

  • Clean up easily
  • Not attract pet hair
  • Not be slipcovered
  • Scratches and worn spots must contribute to its look, not detract from it
  • Be kid-proof
  • Last for about 10 years, if not more

We decided that we’d go with leather, and in the long run the durability and environmental friendliness of having it last for a long time would outweigh the animal rights & cost issue for us.

Choosing the Right Grade of Leather:

The upholstery shop explained about the different grades of leather, and we decided to save up for high quality, full-grain leather.

Cheapest Option – Bonded Leather:

Bonded leather, or recycled leather, is the cheap leather on lower-end furniture in stores. They use the word “recycled” to make it sound like such a responsible choice, but as the consumer you will likely be disappointed in how it wears over time.

Scraps are glued to a fabric backing, and the top is coated with a polyurethane layer to help it all hold together. It’s like the leather equivalent of particle board, and it falls apart quickly.  Scratches and worn spots do not look good on bonded leather.  When areas get worn, the polyurethane coating wears off and the color underneath is totally different.

I’ve read that even La-Z-Boy is using this stuff now.  Yuck.

Best Option – Full Grain Leather:

Full Grain Leather is the best, and its natural surface wears beautifully with use.  It comes from the top layer of the hide.  Scratches can be buffed out if they’re really bad, and they won’t reveal a different color underneath

We want this sofa to look fabulous and hold up well to kids, pets, and me for a long time – so we chose full grain leather. 

If you’re considering buying anything made with leather, you seriously should check out this article on the different types of leather so you don’t get screwed: Saddleback Leather’s awesomely great article.

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