Saturday, July 30

Patio Perfection

Remember when we built this outdoor sectional?

Once it was finished I went on the hunt for cushions to make it nice and comfy. I considered making my own, but once I counted the cost of foam and fabric (even if I waited for a half-off sale at Joann Fabric) I realized it would still be pretty pricey to go that route. So I kept my eyes open for pre-made cushions and finally found some on sale at Walmart. For $25 each it was more than I originally hoped to pay, but they were a better deal than I was finding anywhere else so we went for it. Oh, and they were green. :)

The only problem was that the first day we put them out it was super windy and we were afraid they were going to blow away! So I went digging in my ribbon basket and found some white ribbon (that says "happy holidays" on one side) that I got in an after Christmas clearance last year. Then I did something I try to avoid at all costs - I got out my needle and thread to sew them hand. Ugh. I'm not of fan of sewing by hand, but it was the best way I could come up with to get this done. It actually wasn't as bad as I expected and I had all of them done in one evening while we watched Monk. Then I felt silly for letting them sit in the kitchen for over a week just because I was putting off sewing them. Oops. :)

Then it was back out to the patio to tie them on. Much better. Those babies aren't going anywhere!

I could have bought matching back pillows for the same price, but I knew I would have a lot more options when it came to these than I did with seat cushions and I could find a way to make something much cheaper. I've been collecting regular throw pillows at yard sales that could do the trick. I'm up to 7, and have only spent $1.00 total on them so far! I've been picking up any I found for a good price without worrying about color because I planned to make matching pillow cases for all of them anyway. I also have a few throw pillows from the house that I added to the mix.

Then when I found a whole box of white fabric at a yard sale for $4 I bought it planning to dye it yellow to make curtains. I started with Lemon Yellow for $3 and followed the directions on the box to dye the fabric. It came out looking a little neon, so I went back to the store and picked up Golden Yellow on sale for $2.

I'm still not sure if it's what I want for the curtains, but I thought it would be perfect for the patio pillows (and I only used about 1/4 of the dyed fabric so I should still have enough left for curtains if I decide to use it).

I made my pillow cases using the same technique I show in this pillow cover tutorial. It's super easy and a great project for a beginner. My pillows were all standard 17" pillows so my cases would all be the same size. The easiest way to make a bunch of things that are the same size is assembly line style! I started by measuring and cutting my first pillow case, then used it as a template to cut the rest to save time measuring. I also cut two layers of fabric at a time to make it go even faster. (The dark color of my pillows was going to show through the yellow so I also cut white fabric to line the pillow cases. I just sandwiched the two layers together and sewed it all at once). Then I ironed all the edges, then did all the sewing. I also played around with the decorative stitches my sewing machine can do to dress them up a little.

I really like how bright & summery the yellow looks, and it goes with the yellow dots on the other pillows. I think I'll look for a water-proofing spray to make them more durable for outdoor use. I'm glad that this project is done so we can just enjoy the space for the rest of the summer! 

Here is the final cost breakdown for the whole project:
Furniture: $130
Seat cushions: $125
Back Pillows: $10
Total:  $265

If we had bought the same thing from West Elm, we would have spent over $1600! Want to save tons of money building your own sectional? Ana White has free plans to build your own Corner Sectional Units and Middle Sectional Units (you can also build an ottoman/coffee table and, while you're there, search "outdoor" to find all kinds of other plans for patio furniture).  Here are my modifications to build the sectional with 2x4's instead. And here is the tutorial I used to make pillow cases for my seat back pillows. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 28

Salt & Pepper

I always like to see big, boldly colored salt & pepper shakers like this one

But seeing how they generally run around $40 (for just a pepper mill) I knew I would never be buying one! So when I stumbled across these little guys (well, not so little. they're about 9 inches tall) at a yard sale I snagged them for $1 for the pair. They were the perfect size and shape and I knew I could make them the perfect color! (don't worry, I cleaned them out first!)

The yellow ones always catch my eye, but I know my kitchen will be yellow and a piece of furniture I'm working on for the dining area will also be yellow. Since these guys will probably live one of those two places, I wanted a color that would stand out against them. I went hunting in my basement and found some royal blue spray paint that seemed like a good option (and it was free!) I started with a little bit of prep work - I stuck toothpicks into the holes on the salt shaker to keep them from getting blocked and taped around the metal top of the pepper mill.

The most important things about using spray paint are (1) keep your arm moving and (2) use light coats. Several light coats are much better than one heavy coat because it will start to run. And to achieve a light coat you have to keep moving and not stop in one place too long. I'm not sure how many coats it took to cover this dark brown because I had to do coats from several different angles to fill in all the cracks. I pretty much left them outside my back door for two days and went out every few hours to rotate them and do another coat. That sounds like a lot of work, but it only took about a minute each time. So maybe 10 minutes of total work? Not too bad. And I ended up with these:

They turned out really nice, but the color just wasn't quite working with my house. It seemed too dark. So the next time I was at Lowe's I peeked at their spray paint selections and found Valspar's Mediterranean gloss paint. I started over and gave them a couple coats of my new blue.

Much better. I think they will work perfectly with the other colors I have planned and will be a nice bold contrast to the more muted tones in most of my home, without being too dark & heavy. And if I change my mind later, I can just paint them again! :)

The paint was about $4, so with my $1 shakers this project came in at a grand total of only $5! Woohoo!

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Tuesday, July 26


This weekend I got to do some yard-saling with my mom & sisters. I spent more than usual due to one large purchase, but we all managed to snag some great deals. Here are mine:

$0.50 - A large basket. The picture is fuzzy because I was in a little bit of a hurry. If you look closely at the back left corner of the basket you can see where I already started to remove the handles before I realized I didn't have a picture. Oops. :) Normally I like a basket with handles, but this one won't fit in it's new home unless I take them off!

$4.00 - Another basket (I love baskets. baskets = organization), a water filter, outlet protectors, and a soda organizer that's already in the fridge. 

$1.00 - Hardback Frank Peretti book (2 in 1). Probably my favorite author, and I haven't read these ones in years.

$0.50 - 2 more patio pillows and a quilt. I plan to use the quilt as our park blanket. 

$5.00 - Floor lamp (with a drum shade!) and a pillow for the patio.

$40.00 - 4 Creative Memories albums. That was definitely a more expensive purchase than I usually make, but these albums are great (and usually expensive) and this was a great deal!

Free (with purchase of the albums) - Bead organizer. For my sister who makes jewelry.

 $5.00 - Hedge trimmer. We have a lot of hedges, so we definitely needed one of these!

Free (with hedge trimmer) - 2 pieces of fabric.

 Tuck & Run - You may not agree, but for me it was the quilt (shown with the green pillows). I love the idea of having a quilt for a park blanket, but hadn't worked up to making one yet. I saw this one for only $0.25 and grabbed it! I think my mom got a tuck & run, too. A whole box of John Grisham books for $0.10 each!

I think that was it for me. Anybody else have any luck?

Friday, July 22

That didn't go as well as we hoped....

Paneling. Oh, paneling. The pride of the 60s and the bane of all who inherit it. Our case is no exception. Behold our master suite, in all its paneled glory:

(yes, in excellent Dr. Suess form, it's a Pink Sink!)

This is different than most paneling because it's planks of real wood with lots of texture and crevices. But it is like most paneling in that it feels very dark & heavy. We don't get much natural light up there and have only one small ceiling light so it feels pretty cave-like most of the time. We thought about it for a good 9 months (since the day we moved in) and finally decided that we definitely wanted to paint all that paneling to try to lighten up the space. (I apologize if you are the kind of person who cringes at painting wood, but I promise it was very dark and not very pretty!)

All the tutorials I looked at on painting paneling suggested starting with an oil-based primer to prevent bleed through, but we weren't about to bring all that stink around Baby B! I'd also heard that several low VOC primers didn't do the job very well but the Kilz brand seemed to work a little better. So we bought Kilz Odorless primer to give it a try. Some of my family was in town for the weekend so while a couple free baby sitters played with Baby B, my dad and I got to work priming the walls. And here is what we quickly learned about Kilz: it is SO runny. It's like trying to put water on the walls. We couldn't even use rollers because it splattered paint everywhere so we had to work only with brushes. With in a few minutes my dad was saying "snot balls" and I was growling like a bear. That's how you know we are frustrated. Our original plan was to leave the baseboard and window & door trim brown and paint everything else, but about 1 1/2 hours in we scrapped that idea and started painting everything because we couldn't control the primer! I'd been toying with the idea of white trim anyway. :) So we worked that way a while longer.

Then we realized we had been painting for 3 1/2 hours and had done about 10% of the room. I was ready to paint the floor because I was tired of wiping up primer. We decided that it was time for a new game plan, because this was never going to be worth the trouble! So we decided to go scrap the priming step and go straight to paint. I had picked out a pale yellow called "Vanilla Bean" by Valspar and had it color matched to Olympic's no VOC paint (which they then told me they are not allowed to do anymore. weird.). We got started with the paint and I was able to use a roller - hallelujah! - while my dad started brushing the cracks. In just a couple hours we had gone through both gallons and had a coat on almost the whole room! It will definitely need a second coat, and probably a third, but even if it does it will be SO much faster than priming that I think it will be worth it. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Here is our progress so far. This is the corner that we primed. You can tell on the ceiling where we stopped priming and the brown is showing through more.

You can see in this picture the difference between primed and un-primed. The left side is primed, the right side is not. The primed side is looking really good already, so I guess I can see why people would go that route. But I'm hoping the right side will look just as good after another coat or two!

And here are some progress pics of the whole space. We haven't done all the cracks & trim, and we haven't even started the stairway because we ran out of paint! I picked up 2 more gallons last night (we'll probably need at least one more after that) so I can tackle it again this weekend. After a nice long break. Until then you can find us all camping out in the nursery.

This is the most accurate shot I got of the yellow. It's a little more yellow-tastic than I expected, but I like it. And I like it with the white trim, too!

And it's already looking so much lighter and brighter up there!

Tuesday, July 19

Sometimes We're Spontaneous

We have a bar in our basement. A sagging, rickety, orange shag covered bar. And while we love the idea of a bar in the basement, this one is definitely not going to make the cut!


My husband is excited to be taking on this project. He told me what his plans were and I drew up this picture for him quite a while ago. We didn't really plan to start this project soon but wanted to have a plan in place (like we have for the kitchen!) We had been slowly collecting a few things and storing them in the basement until we would need them someday.

Then it happened. We were at a flooring outlet this weekend to see if they had any tile (they didn't have much) but while we were there we saw they had a row of clearance cabinets. Marked down more than 50%. We'd been looking for second hand cabinets, but hadn't come up with anything cheap enough. We started doing a little math and saw that these clearance cabinets were coming in close to the price of second hand cabinets in our area. They were vanity cabinets so they were 2" shorter than standard kitchen cabinets, but we knew that would be close enough for our bar. We were seeing if they had the sizes we would need to feel the space, and an employee walked up and said he could take off another 30% if we buy today! Sold! We ended up spending about $325 for all the cabinets we needed. After that we went to Lowe's to use a 10% off coupon that was about to expire. We found exactly the tile we were looking for so we bought it (and paint for our master suite and guest room!) and rented a pickup from Lowe's to go pick up our cabinets. A friend helped us haul them to the basement. And just like that, we were ready to start tackling this bar. We went right to work and had the old shag bar ripped out in no time. 

We found out the bar had wheels on the bottom, but it was SO heavy we never knew until it was mostly taken apart. I think it's safe to say they were not the right choice for the job. :)

Then after a little cleanup of the area we slid the new cabinets (and the countertop and bar stools we had already collected) into place just to get an idea of what it will look like.


Not a bad start. And it was nice to see such a dramatic change in such a short amount of time. We went from the first picture to the last picture all in one afternoon. We still have a lot to do, obviously, but it is looking so much better down there already!

Sunday, July 17


As you can probably tell from my much-higher-than-usual amount spent, I had a much better yard sale run this weekend! I actually started on Thursday because it was a beautiful day and there were several yard sales within walking distance of my home. I took Baby B in his totally sweet stroller (I bought it at a yard sale for $25 last year when I found out I was expecting!) that has cup holders and a basket underneath to hold my yard sale purchases. Really a perfect set up for me. And in case you were wondering, yes, it is a jogging stroller. And no, I will not be jogging.

Baby B was snug as a bug (and asleep within minutes of leaving the house).

Here's what we found:
$5.00 - Butcher block cart. This will be living on the patio as extra counter space when we cookout. I'm planning to add some hooks on the side to the side to hang our grilling tools on, and maybe paint it? (it had 2 broken wheels, so we just pulled them all off)

$5.00 - A whole lot of ugly A small dresser. It had some problems (like the broken piece of wood and a broken drawer slide) but I bartered it down to $5 and figured it was worth trying to fix. I'm working on making it over, and it will very possibly be one of my favorite pieces of furniture when it's done! I'll post pictures when it's ready. And no, these first 2 didn't fit in the stroller. The husband and I went back to get them in the car later. :)

$1.00 - 4 broaches. My sister sells homemade bags and I thought she might like these to pin on a few of them.

$0.25- A vase. I love the shape and the small size that's good for a single flower.

$1.00 - A caulk gun & some picture hanging hardware.

$1.00 - White sheets. Planning to DIY some curtains for our guest room! Wish me luck!

$1.00 - Silverware/napkin caddy. Perfect for if we want to take dinner to the patio! (notice it's marked $2. I'm a big fan of bartering when I feel the price is too high!)

$4.00 - A broom organizer. We looked everywhere for one of these and ended up ordering one online, so I snatched up this one to use in the garage.
$5.00 - Precious Moments figurine. For my mom to celebrate her first grandbaby! Surprise, mom! :)
 $4.00 - a box of fabric. I picked it because it's full of big white panels, perfect for my curtain project!
 $1.00 - Four pillows. I need some back support for our patio sectional, and for $0.25 each I plan to cover these and spray them with a waterproofing spray. I'm thinking maybe yellow fabric?

That's it for me! Overall a pretty good week. Did anybody else hunt down some deals last weekend?