November 22, 2015

Furniture Reupholstery 101 (The Lazy Girl Way)

Back in March when my beautiful friend Alexandra visited me all the way from Seattle, I ended up dragging her to a Restore (a store where they sell leftover furniture, fixtures, etc. from Habitat for Humanity) where I found an arm chair for $9. It was love at (almost) first sight. The truth is that I saw the chair, we left the store, and several hours I went back and picked it up because I could not live without it. It had some bumps and bruises, but it had great bones! Meanwhile, Alex was mentally rolling her eyes because I'm a nut, but she's too nice to actually tell me how crazy I am.

And how hideous is this fabric?
I had added the chair to my Summer To Do List and with summer having come to a close quite a while ago, I decided it finally needed to be done. While Matt was in Oregon for work about a month and a half ago, I invited another dear friend of mine to come hang out. You know the drill: watch movies, eat pizza, and oh yeah - help me with this chair.

Prior to her assistance, I had spent upwards of eight hours yanking out staples, pulling fabric and prying nail head trim from the (very) hard wood frame of the chair. As it turns out, upholstery staples are ridiculously long and incredibly hard to remove. Who knew?

The new fabric I chose for the chair was some that I picked up from a church tag sale that Matt and I happened upon back in July. I picked up about six yards of upholstery fabric for $5 which, if you're a regular purchaser of fabric, you know is an amazing price (for those of you that don't purchase fabric all that often, upholstery fabric tends to go for $15-$40 PER YARD). Like I said, total steal.

That being said, I ran out of fabric half way through the project - but we'll get to that.

I've never upholstered furniture before with the exception of recovering a few folding chair seats (one of my first ever DIY projects!). Upholstery is certainly a labor of love and to say I was unprepared for how challenging it would be is an understatement. If we're being frank, I doubt seriously that this chair would stand up to any serious use. But since in my case it's more of a decoration (and occasional reading chair) for our bedroom, I'm pleased with the outcome:

Chair $9 +
Total fabric cost $20 =
New chair = $29

What You Need

Clawed hammer
Nail puller
Screw driver
Fabric (6-8 yards, more or less depending on the size of your project)
Staple gun
Tacky Glue
Tape measure
Chair (or other furniture piece, obviously)

What You Do

1. Stream Netflix. Trust me, this is the only thing that is going to help you survive yanking out all of those silly staples.

2. Yank the silly staples. I used a variety of tools for this, including a claw hammer, nail puller, a flat head screw driver and pliers. Figure out what works for you! My chair also had nail head trim, which surprisingly came out easier than said staples.

3. After I had pulled about as many staples as I could stand, I started pulling - and thereby tearing - away the fabric. DON'T DO THIS. If possible, it helps immensely to maintain the integrity of the shape of each piece so that you can use them as templates when you cut your near fabric. However, because I didn't pull all the staples (read: impatient), I continued cutting and pulling until the arms of the chair were bare. This is about where I had my reupholstery epiphany.

4. I threw out an idea to Juliana that I was really hoping she'd support: what if I just... upholster over the fabric? *Cricket chirps* "Yeah. Let's do that." Perfect! I laid out the fabric and, using a sewing tape measure (the flexible kind), I estimated the yardage for each piece. Using the pieces I had been able to remove from the arms, I laid them out as patterns on my fabric and made my cuts. Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of this process, but there's a great example by Megan over at DIY Project-aholic. Her tutorial was the inspiration for this project in the first place!

5. I started with the largest portion of fabric - the body of the chair. I first stapled the fabric along the back of the chair to create some tension as I tucked the fabric into the crevices of the chair. I cut away excess fabric to minimize bunching when I covered the back. I then tucked the fabric tightly into the area between the arms and the cushions.

6. Once I had the fabric properly tucked in, I stapled the fabric along the front, bottom of the chair to help keep it in place. Next, I started working on the arms of the chair. The key to folding fabric around the "round" portions of the piece is to "tuck and gather". You start by stretching the fabric as tightly and as far around the rounded part as possible and staple into place. Then, you fold the fabric back over in the opposite direction to create a little fold/pocket situation. Staple this into place once it's tight. Continue this process around the area until it's securely fashioned.

7. Working around each of the arms, I stapled the edges of the fabric piece to the back and bottom of the chair. (I also used tacky spray glue to help keep the fabric in place while I worked.) Not shown are the pieces used to cover the front-most part of the arms which are used to disguise the mess of fabric and staples. I cut these pieces out and glued them into place. I then recycled a bunch of the nail head trim I pulled by hammering it back into place around the edges of the cover-up piece. 

Spot the cat.
8. With that done, next came the back of the chair. And this posed a problem. Mostly because I ran out of fabric. As I mentioned, I purchased my fabric bolt from a yard sale - which was great! But remember when I told you not to rip your fabric while you were removing it? Well, due to some not-so-smart cuts on my part because I didn't have proper templates, I was left just several inches shy of the right size. Solution? Buy a yard of coordinating fabric. The color looks brighter in the photo than it is in person, but it goes pretty great with the accent color in the original fabric. And I'll be honest, I was so worn out from having worked on this chair for so many hours that I was pretty much spent at this point: 

So it's a little rough looking - but it suits it's purpose! Besides, the back of the chair rests against a wall in the bedroom. No harm, no foul. I attached the back portion of the fabric by stapling the top most edge upside down and folding the fabric over to create a seam. I sprayed tacky glue lightly along the back of the chair to help adhere the fabric, and then pulled down firmly, folded the bottom edge and attached the fabric to wood along the bottom of the chair. With everything in place, I relocated the chair out of the living room and into it's rightful place: the sunny spot in the bedroom. 


October 29, 2015

Engagement Photo Shoot!

When we got engaged, I told Matt that besides him there were two things I really, really, reallllly wanted to be worked into our wedding budget. The first: a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime dress. The second: a great photographer. I'm a novice photographer at best, but I know enough to be picky about the quality of my photos. The photos that last forever. The kind you hang on your walls and put up on your mantle.

I'll be honest, when my search began, I had no idea that the most basic of wedding photography packages would cost upwards of $3000. I had heard of certain ones costing nearly $7000 but assumed that those were far and few between. But such is not the case. Talk about a Halloween horror story!

Many of the more affordable talent I found had an absurd travel fee and there was no way I was going to pay it. It just wasn't going to happen. So after a very tedious, long and challenging search for wedding photographers in our area, I finally stumbled on Tanya of Tanya Waller Photography by accident. And what a happy accident it was. She is everything I could possibly want in a photographer - she's affordable, flexible to work with, fun, takes beautiful photos and is very reassuring that all our very uncomfortable poses "look totally natural".

We had our photos taken on Sunday and less than a week later, I already have them back. I had a nightmare last night that all our pictures turned out horrible: my face was always weird and I was upside down and in all kind of creepy, awkward contortions. In my dream I cried when she handed the photos over to me. I am happy to say that that is certainly not the case with the real deal. I'm so pleased with how they turned out, I figured I should share some of them with y'all! Big thanks to Tanya! (Go check her out!)



October 4, 2015

Simple Halloween Wreath

Chances are, if you watch the weather channel, you're aware that there's been a dreadful hurricane making its path through the Atlantic. While it is hard to make light of the tragedy that has caused catastrophic damage to the Bahamas, someone posted this on Facebook and I cannot stop laughing:

September 26, 2015

Plainville Hot Air Balloon Festival

Matt and I recently traveled to my hometown in CT to celebrate our engagement with my side of the family. While there, I got to see the many family members that I rarely have the opportunity to visit with and my aunt, grandmother and cousins helped put together a great little party for us. It was wonderful and the whole trip - however short - made coming back to South Carolina just that much harder than usual.

September 19, 2015

The FROG Gets a Makeover

About a month ago, when I left my job to pursue a new career, I had a bit of time on my hands. I gave myself a week of "free time" between jobs so that I could do a few things around the house because it's going to take me from now until our wedding day to stock up on vacation time for my wanna-be honeymoon.

But if y'all know me, and I think you do, you know that I wasn't exactly kicking back eating bonbons. My free time very specifically included a FROG makeover and some DIY art for the house.

September 5, 2015

DIY Wall Art - Copy Cat Edition!

I have been talking about hanging pictures up around the house for months and while I was on break between jobs a few weeks ago I finally got the chance. Michael's was having a killer stock up sale which included my purchasing six 10" x 10" frames on clearance for $6 each (score!) and I had been scouring Pinterest looking for some artsy (frugal) inspiration to recreate for our house.

Matt has been giving me a hard time for the last six months because my stash of picture frames and canvases has grown exponentially and yet none of them have made it to a vertical surface. After spending so many hours painting after we moved in, it breaks my heart a little to litter the walls with holes and pencil marks. But something's got to give and since everything in this house seems to be brown (I have a problem with neutrals) I had to finally commit and get to work to bring some color to our lives.

August 15, 2015

Bad, Bad Blogger

I feel like a bad blogger - I haven't got any upcoming projects to be posted this weekend or "any almost-finished-can't-wait-to-show-you" sneak peeks. As it turns out, the next few weeks are going to be crazy busy with a little travel, a lot of house work and at least one pretty big life change! 

That being said, I do have some projects that I'm going to be tackling, including my first (...and possibly final, depending on how things go...) attempt at reupholstering, some ceiling scraping and painting of the room over the garage, my closet-office space, and painting my kitchen cabinets. 

That being said - and you knew this was coming - the blog posts might be a bit sparse but I will try my very best to be back with all kinds of goodies for you ASAP. 

In the meantime, I'd love to hear what you're working on! What are your projects? What's inspiring you these days? 

And don't forget Bloglovin's competition is still going and so far I think I'm doing okay (at least compared to where I started)! If I win, I expect we'll have to celebrate in the best way I know how - a giveaway! So click the link on the right side bar and follow Castle DIY on Bloglovin'

August 5, 2015

Bloglovin's August Competition!

Hey gang! 

If I don't say it enough, I have to say it now:

Thank y'all so much for helping me turn my little blog into something. Over the last few months I have seen some growth on the analytics of the site and it brings me so much joy to know that you're reading and sharing and passing Castle DIY along. I'm so very grateful. (Special shout out to my international readers. Knowing that I'm reaching people as far away as Russia, Italy and Australia just tickles me to death!)

This month, Bloglovin' is hosting a competition to increase traffic to little blogs like mine. They'll be featuring the blog who gains the most followers on their front page and I'm hoping to give them a reason to pick my little blog! But I need your help.

The contest is the "Bloglovin' Follower Challenge" and it's for up and coming bloggers! After 30 days, the blog with the most followers on Bloglovin' wins. Follow me on Bloglovin' in the month of August and give Castle DIY a chance! CLICK HERE to follow or use the link on the right side of the blog!

Thanks again y'all!


August 1, 2015

Tackling the To Do List: Mailbox Makeover

As promised, I am attempting to tackle my Summer To Do List and last weekend, my chosen project happened to be repainting my mailbox. I'd love to do a whole make-over on the space, but for now this will just have to do.

I updated the mailbox with a new coat of fresh black paint, hand-lettered our house number using liquid leaf and gave the flag a renewed vibrancy with some garnet spray paint. It's not perfect, but it's substantially better!

If your mailbox needs a little pick-me-up, don't hesitate. It was super easy and quick and I had the mailbox back on the post Sunday night before our mail-person was any the wiser.

July 25, 2015

How to: Clothespin Magnets

I'm back on the magnet-wagon!

With the pictures, invitations, announcements, and ever-important bills arriving in the mail almost daily, I'm running out of vertical fridge space! A few months back, I made a handful of cute little magnets and I use them for everything. But I needed a few more and was fresh out of glass beads and round magnets, so I decided to make some out of clothespins. Super easy, less than 20 minutes, and free, these magnets work great. And even if you don't have the materials at home, you won't spend more than $5 on the stuff you need to make these and they're great, easy projects for kids!

July 19, 2015

DIY Wedding, #1

Seeing as we've only been engaged two-ish months, I'm relatively new at the wedding thing and the wedding planning thing and the wedding organizing thing, but by God I intend to be good at it.

I have been knee deep in wedding muck since just a mere four days after Matt proposed. I have a Pinterest board, have ordered, received and read A Practical Wedding (the book and the website), and have spent hours and hours pouring over etiquette advice, inspiration boards and wedding forums courtesy of WeddingWire, WeddingBee, Offbeat Bride and TheKnot.

And while I'm not going to spill all my secrets about my DIY wedding right now (although I did make some paper flowers...) I wanted to take a minute to share some of the resources I've found that are proving to be very helpful.

- - -

July 15, 2015

Happy Amazon Prime Day!

It's Amazon Prime Day and for all of us crazy Amazon folks, that makes us wiggle in our boots.

They've got some great deals today and I recommend you take a little peek and get ready, because the stuff is flying off the invisible Amazon shelves faster than you can click!

(Eeek! I love sales. To see all their deals, click here for Amazon!)

Here's just a few things that I'm waiting on:

The Olay ProX Cleaning System
(Comparble to the Clarisonic Version)

This sweet looking party machine by Ion Audio

This beautiful crystal
decanter & bar set
These Kate Spade drop earrings

This outdoor speaker (for when we have a deck!)

July 12, 2015

How to: Paint & Distress Furniture (with Chalk Paint!)

Taking a cue from my friend Alex, who used a glorious shade of Anne Sloan chalk paint a few weekends ago on her dining room table, I decided to paint and update the dresser in my bedroom.

I'm going to start this story by telling you the end: it was a bit of a disaster. But I'm learning to live with it. It's a bit embarassing for me to complete a project that doesn't turn out the way that I expect, but it seems only fair that I should share both my victories and my semi-failures. This project falls in to the latter category.

This endeavor certainly wasn't on my Summer To Do List, but it's something I've been talking about doing for a good long while, and I knew I could do it for very little expense. Trying to pay wedding expenses as they roll in coupled with the added stress of trying to snowball some of my debts, I'm struggling to find projects I want to complete that can be done with a very, very small amount of funds.

But since I already had the dresser and you can buy chalk paint and wax at Home Depot for less than $20 each, I knew this was an attainable goal.

The dresser was donated to me by my great aunt and I have been hauling it from house to house for the last several years. The top is laminate, while the sides and draws are a veneer finish. I was a little nervous about painting it because I've never painted non-wood furniture before, but I figured it couldn't be THAT different. Note: it is THAT different, but still doable. Generally to be successful in painting wood that has a sheen on it you have to sand and prime first. But.. I was feeling lazy. Personally, I've never used chalk paint before this project but all research points to it being a lazy painter's dream: you don't have to prime, sand, or do any prep-work at all. You pretty much just paint it on, let it dry, and wax it a bit to finish and give it some durability.

Ultimately I didn't end up using wax, because the one that I tried to purchase at Home Depot had been recalled. So instead, I chose to use a polycrylic to preserve the paint. THIS IS A MISTAKE, but of course, I'll get to that.

July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Birthday America & Happy 4th to everyone else!

I sure do love a long weekend and this weekend has been off to a most excellent start. Yesterday I picked up my wedding gown! And now all I have to do is wait 330 days (thanks, The Knot, for the countdown) to wear it. [Disclaimer: there is a chance that I may just wear it around in my empty craft room on a somewhat regular schedule.]

Matt and I also went to Target to add a few things to our registry. We (specifically Matt) were a bit disappointed because they no longer use registry guns - they make you use an app on your phone, which is a great deal less fun. He picked out a handful of things from the kitchen section that have Good Eats/Elton Brown's seal of approval while I looked for the decorative items that I don't quite know what to do with. So many pots and pans and cooking utensils!

My lovely friend Roxy sold me her Groupon for Vista Print - $70 worth of materials for $27! - so that I could order my Save The Dates, which I spent many (many) hours designing. It wasn't until several hours after I designed and ordered them that I realized that I only needed about half the number I actually ordered. I keep thinking of things in terms of guests instead of families/couples and I'm so glad that the Vista Print deal saved me so much, otherwise I would have spent a very unnecessary fortune.

In other words, I'll be looking for crafty things to turn my Save The Dates into. Ideas are welcome.

I finished playing with our wedding website (another shout-out to The Knot) and despite what I have heard from other brides, I enjoy their services. They don't spam me nearly as often as people said that they would and I find their recommendations very helpful! Either way, I will probably change the layout eight more times because, eh, why not?

Today I'm being slightly less productive - I got Matt and I breakfast, and drove over to Michael's Arts & Crafts to pick up some pearl beads to use as centers for my paper flowers. Tonight we're heading to a friend's for grilling and hanging out and possibly spying low key fireworks put on by his neighbors.

I might get a few little projects done around the house, but probably not. We're kicking back this weekend and I am loving every second!

I hope you all enjoy your holiday weekend! Stay safe out there, elect a DD, let go of the fireworks after you light them and have a great time!


June 30, 2015

How to: Simple Paper Flowers

It's probably not surprising to most of you that I have had a wedding-themed Pinterest board since long before Matt and I got engaged because...well... isn't that why Pinterest was invented?

Paper FlowersAnyway, since I now have a good reason to put it to use, I've been pinning wedding DIYs like it's my (second) job. Mostly, I'm on the lookout to make our very small wedding budget stretch to incorporate all the things I want without being wasteful. I'd much rather spend the money we have allotted on a good photographer and food and drinks for our guests than on frilly decor.

Of the frilly decor items, the one that particularly grinds my gears is the thought of is spending $2500 on flowers (which I read is the average). The very possibility that a bridal bouquet could cost upwards of $75-100 is insane to me. Flowers die. Usually within days, if not hours, and carrying them about only for them to be put down somewhere seems like a ridiculous waste of money.

So, a few weeks ago, I stumbled on this tutorial that made coffee filter flowers look easy and like something that would make pretty decor for our wedding without breaking the bank. They're based off of a Martha Stewart design and you can print the templates to help you out. These flowers utilize the white cone coffee filters and you can buy 800 of them on Amazon for less than $20. Naturally this was the solution to my flower conundrum.

June 26, 2015

Taking a Moment

I have a little experimental project in mind for this weekend that I am going to attempt. It could be a total flop, but I'm looking forward to sharing my results with you all.

In the mean time however, I just wanted to take a moment to rejoice in the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriages this morning. Since Matt and I got engaged, we have been able to celebrate and be excited without a single reservation or concern for which state we were allowed to be married in.

I am so completely thrilled for the LGBT community as this day has been a long time coming. There are an endless array of issues in the world that make it a scary and dangerous place. Love between individuals is not, nor should it be considered, one of those issues. It seems only fair and appropriate to me that each person is entitled the right to commit themselves to their mate if they choose, regardless of what gender or orientation they are, and I celebrate in that our state governments no longer have a say in who we are allowed to love.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion for the majority voters, and I could not have said it better myself:

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death."

"It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. (NY Times)

My warmest wishes and congratulations to all.

Also, I have now found a new favorite image on the internet (courtesy of HuffPost/Elise Foley). Please enjoy:

Happy Friday!


June 21, 2015

Wall Bed Reveal!

It's like Christmas in July June! I am so excited to share this with you guys today. You'll remember I have mentioned the wall bed a handful of times (here and here and here and here) and it is finally, finally (FINALLY!!) finished.

I had intended to post about it last weekend. And then when that didn't pan out, I promised again (publicly!) that it would be up on Monday. And then it wasn't. ALL WEEK. I failed multiple days in a row. And it's totally Matt's fault.

We can't be mad at him though. Matt was an absolute wiz at all the planning, building, cutting, sawing, drilling, sanding, puttying, and otherwise-technical parts of the project. In fact, he pretty much did the whole thing himself. 

But I primed (with this oil based primer) and painted (with this in satin finish)! And added the little handles (from Home Depot). Priorities.

And then he unpainted - or rather: reapplied putty, sanded and repainted - a section because it was "bothering him". No matter. It's finally done.

All in all, the project cost a total of about $500, which seems like a lot, but compared to the pre-fab kits which run around $1800, I'd still say we made out on top.

June 9, 2015

Father's Day Gift Idea

I never know what to get my Dad for Father's Day.

He's one of the hardest people to shop for because, like most men, he already has everything he needs and if he doesn't have it, it's because it's too expensive to buy or build. I have also mentioned before that, like me, he has hoarding tendencies and every time I visit home I realize that his whole life is weighed down with stuff. It takes all my willpower not to throw every knick-knack everything away.

On top of that, with wedding planning going on Matt and I have tried to limit our spending to the bare minimum, and as weddings, birthdays, and general gift-giving holidays never seem to end, I'm buckling down to the quality vs. quantity mentality and trying to give gifts that matter.

This year dad might be getting the gift of Amazon Prime (which he accidentally signed up for at Christmas time, not realizing what it was or did). His online shopping presence has increased over the last few years, and I think it's something he can use, and save money with, without being hassled with a physical item taking up more of his space or time. And it just so happens that Amazon is running a promotion to donate $10 to the Movember Foundation for men's health research for every prime membership purchased between now and Father's Day. Amazon explains:

"This Father's Day, for every gift of Prime purchased beginning June 1st until June 21st, Amazon will donate $10 to the Movember Foundation to help deliver breakthrough research and support services focused on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health, and physical inactivity.

Amazon will send your gift recipient an email on the day you choose, along with redemption instructions. The gift recipient can start their Prime membership right away. If the recipient is already a Prime member, the gift can be exchanged for an Gift Card. The one-year gift membership does not automatically renew."

Father's Day shopping? NAILED IT.
~ ~ ~

To give the gift of Amazon Prime and help support cancer research, visit Amazon here:
Give the Gift of Amazon Prime and $10 will be donated to Movember


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