Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Girls' Day In: Clothing Swaps and Terrarium Parties

Ingredients for spicing up a lazy Saturday a few weeks ago:

1 visiting friend from out of town
2 craft-loving LA friends
3 glass containers
1 bag dirt, 1 bag charcoal, 1 bag sand, 1 bag gravel
Lots of succulents
Animal and people figurines
1 bottle of sauvignon blanc

After my last post about making terrariums, some of my friends wanted to get together and have a terrarium-making party. And what better occasion to just this than when my friend Kai, who brings people together, was visiting from New York?

I whipped up a batch of kale chips...

We all pitched in and gathered our materials on the table:

Kale chips, shells, moss, soil, gravel, charcoal, figurines, and glass containers
Since we are all multitasking queens, we also used our terrarium party as an excuse for a clothing swap. Pilsen found something that really fit him.

Trying on our old-new duds...

Munchies donated by our friends Na Young and Karen, Kai's cousins, who own the mouthwatering Proof Bakery in Atwater.

Our pal Lynn of The Actor's Diet came by and scored some sweet threads. Meanwhile, we got our hands dirty...

Lynn chose not to succulent and instead hung with the birds...

...while Cyn (now an expert) and Kai made beautiful terrariums.

I went nuts with the gold spray paint...

Beware tiny alligators

Friday, November 15, 2013

Reupholstering A Chair Cushion

I moved to LA four years ago with just two suitcases and a cat (the second one came later). When I arrived, I was broke, but I had an entire apartment to furnish--my very first apartment of my own! So I spent my days scouring Craigslist, looking for treasures buried among the sea of rickety Ikea hand-me-downs and barf-inducing 80s furniture tagged #vintage. [I mean, that's just mean].

Lucky for me, I chanced upon a girl who was a mid-century enthusiast and amateur collector who would go to auctions and estate sales to find gems. And lucky for me again, she was moving and trying to get rid of all her stuff. Woo hoo!

That's where I found this guy:

I've been calling it Hollywood Regency style but only recently thought maybe it's more neoclassical? If you can name the style, please lemme know! In the meantime, I had some updating to do. That whole maroon velvet was a little too King Joffrey for me. So, soon after I brought it home from Craigslist, I reupholstered the seat with this cute fabric:

But after years of this...
Bella not included
 ...and this...
And a one and a two and a three and a four! got gross and catty and dirty, and the robin's egg blue turned a furry dirt grey. Yuck. Time for an update! It was pretty easy. First, pop out the cushion.*

 *Note: Then watch cat proceed to try to jump up onto the chair where its bed formerly was located and fall right through it.

I flipped the cushion over and used a flathead screwdriver to undo the staples.

I put on a little Aziz to pass the time while I meticulously pulled out staples.

The seat was already pretty uncomfortable to begin with, and after 4 years, even the batting I'd put in was flattened by constant ass pressure (both human and feline). So, I took some high density foam and laid it on top of the existing cushion to give the buttocks a little more, shall we say, ooh la la.

Awwww yeah

Years ago I fell in love with this ikat fabric, which is Duralee's "Kalah." It was about $20/yard.

I'd wanted to trash our boring white curtains and custom make this fabric into curtains instead, and then I realized I'd either need to 1) be the type of girl who's willing to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on custom curtains, or 2) be the type of girl who buys a sewing machine to make her own curtains.

Either way, a big ol' nope.

I decided just a seat cushion was enough to accent a living room with Kalah. So I laid the cushion on top of my fabric, leaving about 3" extra around each edge, and cut it down...

...and I used my trusty staple gun and wrapped it tightly around the cushion, making sure to taper in the corners like gift wrap.

I'm glad I cut a little more excess fabric than I meant to use, because the foam cushion made the seat considerably taller.

I could make this much neater, but eh. It's under the cushion, so nobody will see it.

Nestled the newly upholstered cushion right back into place, and voila! No more cat bed.

Same ol' chair, completely freshened up!

Remember, before, when I said I wouldn't be the kind of girl who makes my own curtains? Well, I had a bunch of leftover fabric and two episodes of Homeland ahead of me. So I hand-stitched a rudimentary pillow using the excess fabric and some batting. After all, I don't have a sewing machine.

Pinned it inside out...

Then hand-stitched three sides using my Home Ec 101 sewing skills, recalled foggily from 7th grade.

Yes! Pillow! Here's the old one again:

And here's the new guy:

I think it adds a nice splash of blue into the living room. At least until I can afford those custom curtains.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Repurposed Vintage Frame Turned Corkboard

I know, I know! It's been forever! But I have excuses. I've been busy. I'm grateful to have been working, and to have more auditions to go to, since it's prime in the middle of episodic season. But that doesn't mean I haven't been prettifying our home. I mean, let's be totally clear here. What's a weekend without some spray paint and a hot glue gun?

A few years ago, when I first moved to LA, I passed by a yard sale and bought this cool vintage wooden picture frame for $2. Here it is on the mantle at my former bachelorette pad:

That's the best pic I have of it, unfortunately. It was a nice dark wood, but my favorite thing about it was the curvature of the top. I don't know what it old frame for a painting, perhaps, or something that had some kind of religious icon in it? Who knows. The shape seems to point to that. It was hard to find mirror to fit it or glass to turn it back into a picture frame, but the empty frame thing works for me as decor, so I kept it.

For years, it sat on my mantlepiece and then in our new office, alone and always a little sad-looking. Earlier this year, in an attempt to make it pop against our charcoal grey wall in our office, I painted it white.

Here it was in our pre-madeover office, earlier this year...

Still blah, right? This summer, as part of Apartment Therapy's room renovation challenge, I decided to tackle the dreary, cluttered office by organizing, downsizing, and injecting a little bit of color. I needed a cork board to help me tidy up my desk and to also serve as sort of a mood board, but found that most commercially available ones were both ugly and expensive.

Solution? Make my own and ombre that sucka with color! I bought a sheet of cork board from Amazon, traced the outline of the frame onto it with chalk, and cut it to size using a razor.

Then I used painters tape to divide the board into sections.

Took out some good ol' Martha Stewart craft paint...

And, using a sponge brush, did about three coats in each section.

I lifted up the tape while the paint was still wet, then waited for it to dry before filling in the other sections since I'd need to retape to get hard edges.

Meanwhile, while the paint was drying, I took that old frame outside and gave it a good ol' coat of my favorite Midas Touch.

A few swift coats and everything I touch is GOOOOOLD!

Then, to create a solid backing, I cut a piece of cardboard to fit the back of the board and hot glue gunned that sucker to the frame. I also used a staple gun for good measure.

Don't my nails look like the Enchantment Under the Sea dance from Back to the Future?

To spice up my push pins, I played around some more with the glue gun and whatever little doodads I had lying around. I'll do a future post on how to make cute push pins.

And ta da! A useful corkboard, a happy, repurposed frame, and a bright pop of color into our office.

Here it is again, from before: after:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

DIY Desktop Accessories Box

In the ongoing effort to bring some pops of color into our office space, I've revamped my desk lamp with paint and a new shade, spruced up our bookshelves with paper, and majorly reorganized, all in the past month. Now what?

Confession: I'm a hoarder.

Yeah, I hoard ribbon that I get on gifts and old things like pencil sharpeners and glue sticks and stolen hotel stationery and weird Commes des Garcons wallets that I don't know what to do with. Yes, I pile all that stuff into old shoe boxes. Yes, I forget about that stuff once it's in the box but WHAT DO I DO IN THE MEANTIME, HUH?

I make the box look damn pretty.

First: Get an old box and some wrapping paper.

Look at this cute patterned wrapping paper I found on clearance at Target for $2.99! Since this project was my first guinea pig, I decided to use some cheapo stuff just in case.

Using a blade, I cut out the appropriate amount of paper that would cover all parts of the box...

...and traced the box onto the paper.

Then I sprayed with some spray adhesive and lightly smoothed up the sides, being careful not to make bubbles or wrinkles.

Using my trusty scissors, I made a careful cut along the edge and folded the paper into the inner rim of the box...

...then I repeated this to all four sides of the box, making "wings" in the corner.

Don't judge my wrinkles.
Nothing a little scissor can't help. I hacked off the wings, and smoothed down the corners of the tacky paper:
Add caption
Did the same for the lid under the watchful stares of my captive audience:

 ...and voila! Box, interrupted:

Proceeded to fill with hoarded junk:

...and piled said junk on top of more junk.

Total cost: $2.99! Plus, I ended up with a pretty accessories box for my desk, a roll of wrapping paper, and more reasons to hoard.