04.9.2014 / New Old Chair

Monday, you got a peak at the reveal of my newly reupholstered antique chair, so I though today I’d show you the full transformation.

We inherited our awesome chair from a friend.  It had been in his family for longer than he’d been alive, but he had no place for it.  After an unfortunate incident with the Queen (Daisy), the non-colorfast seat needed washing.  For 4 years, we’ve had the chair in our apartment, and then various rooms of our house in it’s not-so-fresh red/pink state.

Antique chair before

I was so excited when the waitlist I had been on allowed me to get into an awesome reupholstery class last minute at the Eliot School in Boston (not a paid endorsement, they were just awesome and if you live in the area, check them out and the classes they offer!  Do it!)

Antique red chair before

The first class was painful, where I started ripping my beloved chair apart, but the rebuilding was so gratifying!

Antique chair progress 1

Antique chair progress 2

I am not even going to pretend to be any kind of expert at reupholstering, but I will tell you that the key is to pay attention as you’re disassembling and take note of how everything is attached.  Then do that with your new materials and fabrics.  Simple, right? ha!

Antique chair progress 3

Antique chair progress 4

Antique chair reupholstery progress

Antique chair reupholstery progress 2

Antique chair reupholstery progress 3

Antique chair reupholstery progress 4

Once the fabric was all attached and trimmed, the final steps were to glue on the double-welt (to hide the staples) and sew a cushion.


Reupholstered antique ikat chair after

Sometimes it works to bribe furry models with treats.  Sometimes.

Reupholstered antique ikat chair cat

Reupholstered antique ikat chair

If you’re anything like me, you love a side by side before and after.

Reupholstered antique ikat chair before and after

How’s that for a transformation??

antique ikat chair after

I’m so pleased to be able to give the chair a new life!

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03.31.2014 / Wallpaper Nemesis

AKA “One girl’s journey through wallpaper removal”  AKA “Wallpaper Removal 101″

wallpaper start

The hallway of Grover the Fliphouse I’m sure was considered stylish once upon a time, but it wasn’t so much the case when I got my hands on it.  There was a snake-skin-ish wallpaper pattern (original to the house) that was painted over, then wallpapered over in the 80s or 90s.  Very pretty, don’t you think?  Nope, it had to go.

This wasn’t my first tango with wallpaper removal, but it was my first time with this many layers.  It’s actually very simple, but time consuming and messy.  You’ve been warned.

Wallpaper removal supplies:

-Scraper/putty knifes of varying sizes

-Boiling water

-Spray bottle

-Wallpaper scorer

-Patience.  Lots of patience.

wallpaper wall

Once I practiced my technique and figured out what in the world I was doing, I saved this little sliver of wall to show you guys.  Wallpaper removal can be super taxing, so I’m all about working smarter, not harder (that’s where the patience comes in…)  The only thing I did prior to the above pic was attempt to peel some of the top layer off dry.  As you can see, on this wall, it was stuck pretty darn good, although on others, I was able to peel it off in sheets.  Like I said, though, smarter, not harder.  If the layer didn’t come off, I didn’t force it (until later).

Lots of people recommended trying a wallpaper solvent, but I opted to try boiling water first.  It ended up working pretty well for my wallpaper, so I stuck with it, but every wallpaper case is going to be different.  Even the 2 wallpapers that I was dealing with acted differently: the newer coming off easily in sheets, and the older crumbled.

As for my process:

1. Score wallpaper

2. Boil water

3. Spray wall with boiling water (careful not to burn yourself!)

4. Wait.  a while.

5. Repeat steps 1-4 until your wallpaper easily comes off the wall.


How’s that for over-simplifying?  I can’t emphasize enough, PATIENCE!  If you allow enough time for the water to really penetrate into the wallpaper, your arm will thank you.

Allow me to demonstrate.

The more modern layer of wallpaper came up pretty quickly.  Once it was scored and soaked, the top layer had little resistance.  Using a putty knife to get under the edge, I was able to remove large pieces until I reached layer #2.

first layer wallpaper

Layer #2 is where the real patience came into play.  It was essentially kraft paper glued to the wall and painted over… it was holding on tight.


wallpaper score


wallpaper spray



Score, spray, wait….score, spray, wait… spray, wait…  I found it best to either work on 2 areas at the same time (so while one was waiting, I could be spraying the other) or walk away altogether while the water was penetrating.  I did try to eliminate the “boil water” step, but the steaming water seemed really get in there and do the job better.

The 2 most important things here are: make sure you have a decent spray bottle (I went through 2) and HAVE PATIENCE.  Have I mentioned that?  If you try to scrape the paper before the water’s done it’s job, you’ll end up doing much more work than you need to.

When you think it might be ready, take your scraper to the wall.  If the paper comes off with little resistance, go for it.  If not, spray again and wait.

wallpaper scrape

Even during the scraping phase, I would re-spray everything down to make sure that nothing dried out before I got to it.  If you find spots that give you a hard time, don’t force it.  Spray them again and come back later.  The more you force the paper off, the tireder your arms get, and the more scraped up your wall will get.

Since I allowed the water to do the majority of the work, it only took me about a half an hour to actually scrape off all of the old wallpaper.

wallpaper progress

Even after scraping every other wall in the hallway, I was shocked at how cleanly the paper came off of this wall.  On other walls, I was less patient and tried to muscle the paper off, leaving residue.

wallpaper residue

Luckily all I had to do was spray down the walls again (and wait), and the paper remnants came off no problem.

And finally the hallway walls were wallpaper free!  And the townsfolk rejoiced.

wallpaper gone

Now if only demoing walls in the bathroom was as easy!

Like I mentioned earlier, different types of wallpapers act differently, so I’d love to hear what worked (or didn’t work) for you!



03.14.2014 / Copper Shopping (list)

Let’s check another item off of my DIY teaser list.  A while back, I told you I had a DIY planned with this receipt tape.

receipt paper to diy

Well, it’s finally put to good use as a shopping list!

diy copper wood shopping list

I’ve seen this in my head for so long, I’m glad to get it out and into reality.

I used a block of wood, receipt paper, 2 sizes of copper pipe, and screws.  You don’t get much simpler, I swear!

diy copper wood shopping list pieces

I decided to start from the bottom and work my way up.  To do the bottom piece that will hold the paper, I flattened out a portion of pipe.  I found the best way to get a smooth surface was the put the pipe between to blocks and hammer it that way.

flatten copper

With a flat-ish piece accomplished, instead of cutting it to length, I bent it until it broke in the intended spot.

Next was to bend it around the wood to the desired shape.  I used a scrap piece of wood to bend this around so that if I made any mistakes I wouldn’t damage the finished stained piece.

wood blocks

Isn’t that a sexy backdrop?  I’m innovative, huh?  (the paper towel was originally for the stained piece to make sure it was dry, and I figured it shouldn’t go to waste)  …. SO… to bend the copper without denting it, I clamped it in the desired spot with another block of wood, then bent the ends around the wood.

clamped copper front clamped copper

The upper piece was slightly trickier to bend because it took me holding the roll of paper in place.

list progress

I couldn’t clamp this one because the roll would deform, so I had to hold with one hand and bend the piece around the wood with the other.  I’m just DIYing until my hand-modeling career takes off.  Man hands are the next rage.

On the front where I hadn’t flattened the pipe, I used a hack saw to cut it to length- being very careful not to push too hard and deform the copper.

copper cut

I repeated the last few steps with a smaller piece of copper for the other side.

copper wood cut pieces

Then came assembly- always the best part!  I drilled holes in the copper where the screws would go, then attached the pieces where desired.  The back ends up being less than pretty, but since that’ll be up against my cabinet door, it doesn’t matter.

copper wood shopping list back

I’m using my favorite mounting method- 3m’s re-positionable picture hangers so I can take the list down when I need to replace the receipt roll.

diy copper wood list

It’ll actually be pretty simple when I need to replace a roll.  See how on the right, the smaller tube goes into the larger?  I’ll just need to unscrew the smaller tube from the back and remove it, switch out the paper roll, then rescrew the small tube back in place.

diy copper wood list cabinet

Have you ever seen a sexier shopping list??  Methinks not!

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