Project Dining Room: The Chairs

Welcome back to Project Dining Room!! When we last left off I had just finished painting a thrifted pedestal table for our dining room. It’s turquoise blue. My favorite color.

But with the gorgeous pop of color in the middle of our dining room the dirty trashed hideous sad chairs needed an update.

After the Great House Flood of 2011 we picked up a sweet midcentury dining set for $150 on Craigslist. It was love at first sight with these chairs (not so much with the table).

The only problem? They were covered in god-awful burgundy polyester. And polyester? Not kid-friendly. They were stained up the second we brought them into the house.

Then while up on vacation in Oscoda earlier in the summer I found these lovely little armchairs at our thrift shop.$35 total. They’re sturdier and comfy and provide a nice contrast to the straight-lined midcentury chairs. But they were covered in hideous gold fabric. In desperate need of a makeover!!

So one day, while casually chatting, we picked some upholstery fabric via committee on Facebook. We being me, Mom and Tracey. Making decisions via Facebook happens to work great for us.

From many many many exhaustive hours of watching HGTV research, I knew that indoor/outdoor upholstery fabric was what we needed. Particularly one that said “NO Drycleaning”. Cause at this point in our lives we don’t buy anything that requires dry cleaning.

All told it took about 20 minutes to pick out and order 4 yds of fabric from Fabric.com. Grand total? $36.

Once the fabric came we had an excuse to finally use the staple gun that’s been collecting dust in Mom’s garage for a while now. And on a Sunday afternoon visit, I put the whole family to work.

First things first, Michael was in charge of taking off the seat covers.

While he did that Mom washed down the chairs.

And Tre and I removed the one million staples holding several layers of yucky old fabric on. (*Side note: Try to pick up all the old rusty staples off the floor before you step on them or your baby puts one in her mouth. Cause tetanus is gross.)

Next, we used one of the discarded pieces of fabric as a pattern to cut out all the new chair covers. We had 4 yards of fabric for 6 chairs and still had plenty leftover in case there are any major stains or whatnot.

Then we put the fabric down, put the seat on top of it and stapled. It would be silly for me to try and describe our technique for this cause we really didn’t have one. We definitely stapled the sides down first, cause they’re straight and easy.

The corners and curves were a serious pain in the ass, and required pulling the fabric tight across the seat and making all these little folds to get it flat. And about another million staples holds all the little folds together.

Then you pop the seats back on. And curse yourself (and maybe your husband a little bit) when two of the 24 screws turn up missing.

And voila. Freshly upholstered dining room chairs.

Turns out, that reupholstering chairs? Isn’t so bad. 6 totally fresh and updated chairs for a grand total of $66 and some sweat equity. Not bad at all…

Next up on Project Dining Room? Styling. Cause without style, it’s just a table and chairs. Styling gives the room it’s own unique personality. Can’t wait to show you what we did there. Pinterest (and Tracey) to the rescue yet again.

Also, I just wanted to give a special shout-out to one of my biggest fans, Mrs. Gartin. Thanks for reading every single post and for being my very first and most dedicated subscriber. Sorry this took so long, as I know you were super curious as to how it all turned out. Hope it lived up to all that anticipation :)

 

 

 

Project Dining Room: The Table

Blame it on Pinterest or HGTV or my dear sister Tracey but I’ve got a DIY bug…

A few weeks ago I was stalking staring obsessing browsing through Pinterest when I came across this beautiful gem…

I seriously adore this entire look. How warm and intimate the round table is. The cool glass pendant. The giant ‘e’ on the wall. I even love the bent wood chairs which manage to go from country to hip in this setting. But the real star of the show is that kelly green pedestal table. I’ve been drooling over it for weeks.

During one of our endless conversations about home design I mentioned I wanted a pedestal table that I could paint a glossy turquoise blue. Like the photograph I’ve been drooling on, only with my signature color.

So on a recent thrifting trip with my sister she hollered at me from the back of the store. She found a beat-up but solid oak pedestal table for $23.32. That’s right. Under $25. We thought about whether or not we should get it for about five seconds. Then we had to figure out if we could get it in the car.

I wish someone had a camera on us as we loaded up the leaves and the base into a cart and I rolled the table top through the entire store and out to my car. It must have been a sight to see.

Only here’s the thing. I’ve never painted anything but a couple of walls in my bedroom when I lived in Chicago. But when it comes to painting an actual piece of furniture, well, I’ve never been to that rodeo.

My sister, the DIY and thrifty home decor diva that she is, said it wouldn’t be too hard. Gave me a list of things to pick up at the hardware store and said she’d come and help me with the project.

And so Project Dining Room was born.

Cause if I’m going to paint the table, I’ve got to cover the chairs. And if I’m gonna cover the chairs I’m going to need new accessories and a new furniture arrangement. Right?

Well maybe we’ve bit off more than we can chew. But I hope not cause the table is nearly done and it was one hell of a project.

We started off sanding as little as humanly possible. Cause I hate sanding.

Then we raised it up onto empty storage bins so that it was easy to get into all the intricate details on the base of the table.

Thanks to several really helpful Pinterest posts we were convinced that using Zinsser primer we didn’t need to sand.

So true. That primer is brilliant. Went on super smooth and covered everything so nicely in just two simple coats using a brush on the base and a roller on the top.

Then we took a well-earned beer break. Cause that’s how we roll…

Once the primer was dry (not too long on such a hot summer day) we noticed we had a slight problem.

The brushes we so diligently wrapped in foil and put in the freezer until we were ready for the next step? Totally goopy and destroyed by the oil-based primer. We didn’t think to wash them before we froze them. And they were too far gone at that point for paint thinner to even work on them.

Two brushes. $20 a piece. Gone.

So we ran to the hardware store and got some el-cheapos that would go on to leave horrendous brush marks and shed bristles like crazy. At that point though we just wanted to get the paint on and figured it wouldn’t matter if we used the roller on the top.

We went ahead and started painting. By that point we had a little helper in our midst.

And another little helper parked outside the garage just cooing and waiting with her furry sister.

Even with shedding bristles the base of the table was covered nicely and had a beautiful glossy finish.

But the top? Problematic to say the least. There were a few cracks along the table that were pretty hard to disguise, marring the ‘perfect’ look we were going for (Shabby Chic is just not really my thing).

Also, the roller the seemingly well-meaning older gentleman at Home Depot recommended? Complete shit. It had a bit of a nap to it and left the surface of the table full of little threads and not at all smooth and glossy.

We tried our best to sand it out between the first and second coat but that roller was just wrong.

In the end I went back to HD, returned the roller, and got foam ones for a high gloss finish. Despite having said what I was trying to achieve to the ‘nice’ old man he still gave me that crap-ass roller. Oh well. Live and learn.

This paint color is Martha Stewart Living in Hummingbird Blue. It’s the absolute perfect Tiffany’s box robin’s egg blue. I want to paint everything in my house this color now. (Tracey – PLEASE don’t let me do that.)

In the end I listened to my Mom (cause she knows everything) and scuffed up the surface with steel wool, removed the dust with tack cloth and gave it one more thin coat of paint with the foam roller.

So at the end of the day the table came out to roughly $100. That includes the extra set of brushes/rollers I had to buy. Without them it would have clocked in around $75. Not bad, huh?

The sad thing is this poor beauty is still sitting in garage awaiting a couple coats of varnish. Between traveling, visiting relatives and 90+ degree heat there hasn’t been a good day to finish it up. But I’m making myself get out there and finish it Monday, regardless of the heat. Cause it’s just too pretty to not be used, don’t you think? As soon as it’s finished I’ll post another picture.

Next up? I tackle the reupholster the dining room chairs. Another first. I think I can, I think I can…

A HUGE thank you to my sister and BFF Tracey. Thanks for inspiring me and sharing my love of taking on these crazy projects!

 

On Being a Parent: My Guide Book

It happens to each of us when they hand us those squirmy wrinkled little balls of blubber called newborns, we immediately become parents.  There is no class.  There is no manual.  There is only whatever YOU have done to prepare yourself for the nanosecond that your child is handed to you and becomes totally and completely all your problem.

I always wanted to be a mom.  I mean I love kids.  Always loved babysitting and never minded changing diapers.  Watching and playing with kids was always so much more fun than work.  My attitude was very much ‘how hard could it be?’.  Like seeing someone with a hysterical baby in the line at Target.  Something inside my pre-parenting brain always made me look at the offensive child’s parent out of the corner of my eye to see what kind of neglectful idiot would take such an obnoxious child out in public.  That’s right.  I judged.  But in that nanosecond I could no longer cast that sideways glance…cause it was bound to happen to me someday.  As much as I always wanted to be a part of the club there was no way of ever knowing just how difficult it was going to be.
So I went back into my archives to figure out just what (if anything) I had learned over the past 12 months, hoping to impart on you faithful readers some of my Mama wisdom.  P.S. If you click on the ‘titles’ they will take you back to past blog posts of mine.  
Month One – Sleep is for P@#$ies – That’s right.  Who needs to sleep?  Those first few days home are like the first few days of a love affair.  You’re so cuckoo crazy about this new little person that you can’t bear to be apart from them for a second, let alone close your eyes, for fear of missing some precious moment between the two of you.  And then, the oxytocin wears off and you’re just frakking exhausted.  At this point ‘They’ tell you to sleep when your baby sleeps.  To take it easy, leave the house disgusting and don’t worry about showering.  ‘They’ are stupid.  There’ll be plenty of time to sleep when you kids go off to college.  Do ‘They’ care that they don’t have any clean underwear?  Do ‘They’ think the dishes are going to wash themselves?  Maybe ‘They’ have a Rosie the Robot like the Jetsons to do all their work for them?  I think ‘They’ need to grow a pair…or maybe ‘They’ have kick ass MIL’s.
At least someone was sleeping
Month Two – Breastfed Babies Should be Fed BEFORE Going into Public.  This is a practical issue that Mamas with formula-fed babies don’t even remotely have to consider.  They whip a bottle out of their diaper bag and BAM! Instant calm.  However a Baby on the Boob needs to have a full stomach before you attempt any manner of errands big or small.  Their little baby stomachs are only the size of their fist.  They need to be fed constantly.  So you better have a pretty tight grocery list together too.  The days of lingering in the International Food aisle and browsing soup labels for the least amount of sodium are over.  This lesson was learned the hard way.  Literally whipping out the boob in the shoe department at Meijer.  It could have been worse though, at least there’s a bench in the shoe department.  And when I got home I STILL didn’t have everything we needed for the week.  Probably forget something essential like toilet paper. It does get better and eventually you can go out for longer and their little tummies can hold more, but really, always wear something that always you to easily access the Boob.  I’m still wearing nursing bras…
I will be pissed if I don’t eat soon…
Month Three – Cloth Diapers Rule.  No, really, they do.  You’re already doing laundry.  What’s one more load every other day or so?  And there are so many options in the cloth diapering world I’m still trying to figure out why in the world anyone uses disposables.  Oh, wait, right, cause of the billions of dollars in marketing that the diaper industry spends every year to get us to use these obscenely expensive little earth destroyers.  But I digress.  The cloth diaper world is pretty damn addictive.  They’re constantly adding new patterns and colors and technology.  And yes, it’s a piece of fabric that covers your child’s ass and collects their waste, but they can be sooooo damn cute.  And you know what, even with my slight obsession with fluffy butt covers, I have spent less total than I would have spent in 6 months last year.  And I’m done.  I don’t need any more diapers for Cedella and hopefully can use her first ones for Baby #2.  How cool is that?  Imagine what you could do with all that extra diaper money…  
GroBaby & Sofie what a crunchy combo
Month Four – Always Wear Stretchy Pants on the Train or else you face a big old disaster when you try to pull up your pants while holding your infant in a moving vehicle.  This one would have been really helpful to know before getting on the train with Cedella by myself.  But now you can apply this to your own travel adventures.  Other helpful travel tips?  Check out how to install you car seat in a cab on Youtube before you go.  Get a map of whatever public transport you’re going to be using and make sure you locate all the handicap entrances and exits, otherwise you’ll be carrying your child, diaper bag and giant stroller up and down several flights of stairs.  Don’t plan on visiting the zoo when it looks like it’s going to rain.  Protest marches can be a fantastic learning opportunity.  But really, the most important tip?  Don’t schedule too much, relax and have fun.       
Taking some time to just relax in Chicago
Month Five – The Bathroom is no longer Your Sanctuary.  It’s sad but true.  What used to be a lovely place to go and get some quality reading done or grab a quick game or two of Jeopardy on your iPhone, has now become the room you spend the least amount of time in.  There is no loitering allowed.  Hurry up and do your business cause if you’re in there too long someone WILL interrupt you.  And well, that just sucks.  There is no privacy here and poop is now a regular topic of discussion between you and your husband.  Whuck?!  That’s right.  Sexiness and mystery have left the building and have been replaced by flatulence and a constant need to say “TMI”.  

Month Six – Camping with a Baby can be Fun.  And if you plan it right, you know, like weekend full of thunderstorms, your child may sleep through the night for once.  We thought our tent was going to float away and/or be struck by lightning, and Cedella slept through the whole damn thing.  Could have been all the fresh air or having a busy day full of new experiences.   Maybe she just really digs storms.  As long as you come prepared to keep the baby occupied and safe and again, not do too much, then your camping trip can be pretty damn cool.  Really it’s never too early to get your kids into nature, right?
All the fresh lake air makes me sleepy…
Month Seven – Martha Stewart can Suck It Cause Nobody’s House is THAT Clean.   Really…this probably doesn’t need much more explanation than that.  Your baby is only your baby for such a brief time.  Are you going to remember how little dust were on your bookshelves or are you gonna remember the first time you took your baby to the beach?  What’s it gonna be?  I’d rather have a messy (not disgusting but messy) house and tons of great memories of spending time with my kids.  All that time cleaning you could be spending teaching your child to love the outdoors, develop their imagination or just be silly and dance to the Beastie Boys for a little while. 
Making memories at Lake Huron
Month Eight – Your Child is the Cutest Child in the Entire World and no one can ever take that away from you.  Also, you take much better pictures than the weirdos at Sears that charge you a pint of blood for each half decent shot.  A baby is going to be way more comfortable and smiley with you than with a stranger in a strange place.  So while I’ve seen some beautiful baby and family pics done by real photographers (that I’m sure cost more like a liter of blood per excellent shot) the best photos of your child are the ones you take when you’re just enjoying each other and not forcing something to occur that just isn’t gonna happen.  

Month Nine – Your Birthday and all Subsequent Holidays are No Longer About You and that’s ok.  Cause it’s your baby’s first everything and it’s your 32 time around this track.  Besides, who wants to have a party when you’re turning 30-something?  That’s not worth celebrating.  You know what is?  The first time your daughter has a donut.  Now that is milestone.  32…not so much.  And don’t worry that your family people don’t notice you or say hello when you come into the house.  She’s kind of a big deal.  Just think of it like being the mother of Lindsey Lohan Brittany Spears Miley Cyrus Selena Gomez (she’s still a virgin right?).  Cedella is a super star.  Glad I learned this already, to save myself years of embarrassing myself trying to steal her spotlight (a la Mrs. Lohan, Spears & Cyrus). 
  
Mmmmmm…Donuts.
Month Ten – Mamas Need Friends Too.  Life as a SAHM in a new city is lonely.  You need need need need NEED to have people (preferably women) to talk to.  You need someone to connect with, to commiserate with, to suffer and triumph with.  I can’t even remotely believe it took this many months in the trenches before finding someone to hang with.  Just because you’re a Mama doesn’t mean you have to stay locked up in the house and never have a social life again. I am so thankful and happy to have met Leslie and her beautiful baby Anna.  I can’t imagine how crazy, fat and bored I would be without them!       
Month Eleven – Christmas Morning is for Starting Traditions.  Those things we do each and every holiday, whether it is the food we eat, the activities we do or who we spend our time with, had to start somewhere.  Those traditions started with your grandparents, your parents or your besties choosing to make something their own.  We’ve taken from these things to make our own Christmas.  Cutting down our tree, decorating it while listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas album, making Breakfast pizza and opening gifts in our jammies.  These are our new/old traditions.  The ones that we hope to continue for many many years to come.  Adding more traditions as we add more children, as they grow older, as we move through this life.  These are the little things that make our family Our Family.  
Christmas Morning Pajama Family
Month Twelve – Parenting is a Constant Work in Progress.  If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned this.  You are always changing, you are always growing, you are always having to readjust and relearn.  The trick of being a parent?  Being fluid…going with the flow.  And more important than anything else, take the time to step back and breathe it all in cause if ‘They’ are right about one thing (and that’s all I’ll give ‘Them’) it’s that time does indeed fly.