Tag Archives: upcycle

From Drab to Fab: Days Two and Three–Window Treatment and Rococo Wall

Happy Monday everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend.  We (I) got a few things done over the weekend around the house–but not even close to what was on the list.

Here’s what went down on Saturday:

I underestimated the time and ease of changing the hardware for our window treatment.  The previous owner had heavy red curtains in the large picture window.

Original Window Treatment
Original Window Treatment

I took those down eons ago, but we’ve been living with the window looking like this for the past 3 years:

Living Room Window
Living Room Window

We don’t spend much time in this room, and I put all of my energy over the past 4 years into the bedrooms and my office.  So this room just kind of stayed in a half-done state for a long time.

I removed the rest of the old hardware–not too difficult, though it was a pain in my neck. Literally.

Next up was installing the new hardware. We have a very long window and a very small budget, so we used a simple dual rod from Home Depot and added extensions.

Dual Curtain Rods and Extensions
Dual Curtain Rods and Extensions

Since we weren’t hanging any heavy drapes these are perfect.

However, because of the odd window cove–I have no idea what the actual architectural term is–getting the hardware just right was very challenging.  I had to change the postion of the hardware three times.  On the third try, the first rod hooked onto the hardware perfectly, but the valance rod didn’t. Hubby had to use pliers to manipulate the rod into place.  Insert string of expletives here.

The Hubby--manipulating the rod into place
The Hubby–manipulating the rod into place

When it was finally done I jumped for joy.

New Window Treatment
New Window Treatment

The best part is–the wood blinds are still there! But, we will replace this cheapo rod system with the Kvartal ceiling track system from Ikea before we leave.

My favorite part of the day was turning two old planter sconces into shelves. The tutorial post can be found here.

But here’s a quick recap of what I did.

Turning a Planter Sconce Into a Wall Shelf
Turning a Planter Sconce Into a Wall Shelf

The most challenging part of this project was figuring out how to mount it in such a way that it could hold heavy items.

I was SO proud when I figured it out.  I made a mounting bracket.

Here’s my almost finished Glam wall.

Rococo Glam Wall
Rococo Glam Wall

So that’s what I did on Day two. I think it was a pretty good day overall.

Sunday took an entirely different route.

Because I really want to get the formal living room completely done in the next couple of weeks, I decided to do what I love most: DIY Furniture makeovers.

I’ve been wanting to get my old steamer trunk refurbished as a coffee table for the past month and felt that this was  an opportune time to get started.

I think I made decent progress.

Steamer Trunk Progress
Steamer Trunk Progress

That sums up Days One and Two.  Now on to Day Three–More work on the trunk.

Repurposed Vintage Plant Sconce

I found these vintage plant sconces from the 1970’s at the thrift store for about $3 (for both) and just knew that they would look great in my modern glam living room.

Vintage Plant Sconce
Vintage Plant Sconce

After some cleaning, primer, and a coat of gloss black spray paint they looked like new.

Just Like New
Just Like New

At first I really didn’t know how I would use them.  I guess these were really common in the 70’s as sconces for fake plants & flowers–eww.

It dawned on me a few days ago that I still had a sheet of plastic from the fluorescent light fixture that removed and that I could use that to turn these sconces into a shelf.

I used a large envelope to trace out a template–a file folder would work well too.

Trace a Template
Trace a Template

After cutting out the template (I called it my taco shell) I placed the plastic into the center of the template.  I did it this way because it makes manipulating and cuing the plastic a lot easier.

Taco Shell Template
Taco Shell Template

Using my favorite glue in the whole world–E 600 glue–I simply glued the plastic onto the lip of the sconce.

E 6000 Glue
E 6000 Glue

Because I wanted to use the sconce as a shelf to hold a statuette, It need to be securely mounted to the wall.  I would have used anchors and dry wall screws, but the heads of the screws would not fit into the mounting holes on the sconce.

I found two wood screws that fit into the sconce, but were too short to offer any support into the dry wall.

Enter the DIy mounting bracket.

DIY Mounting Brackets
DIY Mounting Brackets

I used an old scrap piece of wood to create two mounting brackets.  I lined the top edge of the sconce with the edge of the wood, marked the length, and drilled holes where the screws should nestle into the holes of the sconce.

Using my handy dandy lightweight-yet-powerful cordless Ryobi 5″ circular saw, I cut the wood to the correct (measured twice) length.

I mounted the brackets to the wall with anchors and drywall screws.  Use a level while mounting the bracket to ensure that your shelf or sconce is level after mounting.

I then inserted the wood screws into the pre-drilled holes.  Make sure that the wood is painted the same color as the sconce.

Mounting Bracket
Mounting Bracket

Voila–a perfect Rococo shelf for my lovely ladies!

Rococo Glam Wall
Rococo Glam Wall
Glamourous Ladies
Glamourous Ladies

2013-08-11 001 006


I think it’s a pretty close match to my Modern Glam Design Board.

OB-Modern Glam Liv Room

No matter what color you choose, these will add glamour to any wall.

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From Drab To Fab Day One: The Great Chandelier Battle of 2013

I had this fantabulous idea when we bought this house 4.5 years ago: I will paint the bright brass chandelier with Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint and it will look fabulous!  I kept putting off, thinking I have time to get it done.  If you read yesterday’s post, the fact that I put this off for 4.5 years should not be a surprise.

This is my inspiration pic from Capitol Lighting. Sadly out of our budget though.


Well folks, today was the day that I took on the challenge of the great chandelier.  And it hasn’t been fun.  I naively thought that cleaning it would only take about 20 minutes.  HA! The joke was on me.

Here’s the nasty original chandelier.

Cheap Builder-Grade Brass Chandelier
Cheap Builder-Grade Brass Chandelier

The chandelier came down easily.  I got a few dust bunnies up my nose, but that’s to be expected since I have never cleaned it. I never claimed to be a great housekeeper.

Taking it apart was easy too. I laid out all the pieces in order so that I could remember how it goes back together.

chandelier 014
Disassembled Chandelier

I really wanted to pull the light sockets out to so that I could completely dismantle it, but was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to weave the wires back through the curvy arms.  So, I taped off as much of the electrical parts as I could before the washing began.


I put all of the parts (except for the main body–didn’t think it was a good idea to soak all those wires) into very hot water with dawn soap and vinegar.  I let them soak for about 30 minutes.  I pulled out the first piece to wipe it down with a soft microfiber cloth.

This is what happened:

“What fresh hell can this be?”

If you know who this quote is from–without using a search engine–you are my new bestie.

This weird coating was on Every. Single. Piece.

And it was difficult to completely remove it.

After TWO hours of the fresh hell that I was now in, I daydreamed of throwing the whole chandelier out of my kitchen window–but not before beating it with a sledge hammer.

Yeah. I was THAT irritated.  

I had plans. Wonderful plans. I was going to be doing the happy dance at 5pm when hubby got home.  

I was going to show him the window treatment that I FINALLY got around to mounting.

I was going to show him all of the lovely switch plate covers that replaced our ugly dingy cheap ones.  

I was going to skip down into the garage and show him the chandelier in all it’s beautiful Oil Rubbed Bronze glory drying on the garage floor.  

He was going to pick me up and swing me around and tell me how happy he was that I accomplished so much. 

Stupid daydreams. Stupid Chandelier.

It took a total of FOUR hours to remove every last bit of that coating. 

When I was done, I laid it all out on the dining room table to dry. And I glared at it.

Gunk Free and Clean!
Gunk Free and Clean!

Round 1 (cleaning): Chandelier

When it was dry I took it all down to the garage for a nice coat of primer.

Goodbye Brass!
Goodbye Brass!

Round 2 (Bye-Bye Brass): Me–yay!

I took great pleasure in defacing priming every centimeter of that bright brass. Fortunately, I had just enough primer to cover everything.

Shortly after this, hubby came home from work.

After he tells me about his interesting class–some kind of investigative cop class (I’d tell you but then…you would be bored) I delved into telling him about my day.

He just laughed. He said “did you really think it would be so simple?”

Well–DUH! Of course I did!

After dinner I went out to the garage. I was determined to get her painted before the end of the night.

I was LOVING the way he Oil Rubbed Bronze (ORB from here on out!)  was looking.  I sprayed very light coats.  3 to be exact.

ORB Beauty
ORB Beauty

BUT, I ran out of paint towards the end of the 3rd coat.  Then I realized that I didn’t prime all of the pieces.  The end pieces were still upstairs. *SIGH*

Round 2 (Bye-Bye Brass): Me–yay! Chandelier

Round 3 (Hello ORB): Chandelier

The chandelier is now on hold until next week.  It’s just not in the budget to run out and get more primer and ORB. So stay tuned. I am determined to win at least ONE round with the chandelier!

Vintage Suitcase Table Tutorial

Anyone who is a fan of DIY vintage furniture and Pinterest has seen those darling vintage suitcase tables.  There are even a few leads to a semi tutorial on Pinterest. However, I have yet to find one with full details, not to mention photos of the interior.

About two months ago I found two fantastic vintage suitcases.  The tweed suitcase is from the 1940’s and the interior was in bad shape.  But it was only $10 at my local ARC Thrift store.  I bought them with the intention turning them into tables.  I also found two great mid-century modern end tables at the thrift store–for $4 each!

I put the project off for a while because I wanted to find the perfect fabric for the interior.  I had finally given up my search for the perfect fabric when I realized that I had a tablecloth that I had found on clearance at Target for around $3 last year.  So I finally got to work on the suitcase.  It turned out to be a lot more work than I had thought it would be.

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suitcase table test1 

First, I had to rip out the old interior–which wasn’t so hard because it was peeling off everywhere.  I could have sworn that I took a pic before I started tearing out the interior–but alas it is NOT on my camera.  So here is a partial pic for you to enjoy.

suitcase layout

Gutted Suitcase Interior

The interior is still quite a mess–even after a mild scraping.

This is what the interior pieces looked like before I prepped them for cutting.

suitcase interior1

Though I liked the satin fabric, I wasn’t a fan of the color.  And they were SUCH a mess!

My first step (besides cleaning out the suitcase, which I was putting off for as long as possible) was to determine the best way to make a pattern with the pieces.  I figured that I would use the hems of the tablecloth to my advantage, so I laid the trim for the bottom of the suitcase  out like this:

*Take note that the longer piece was supposed to cover the back of the suitcase where the hinges are (from the bottom to the top).

suicase edging 1

After cutting out the edging, I wanted to give it a dry fit.

suitcase edging oops

Yeah, that is NOT right! I must admit that when I began this “little” project it was almost midnight and I’m not sure that my logic center was awake.

Instead of trying again, I just cut the excess off.  I figured it would probably look ok without the long piece to cover the hinges. So I carried on.

suitcase edging seams

I really wanted to make sure that I lined up the seam of the fabric with the seam of the suitcase for a more professional look.

*Note–the picture above most accurately reflects the color of the fabric.

Using push pins, I placed the fabric just beneath the “lip” of the suitcase interior.  Be careful not to push the pins in too far–you don’t want to puncture the suitcase.

suitcase dryfit complete2

I did run into another snag while I was dry-fitting the edging.  The suitcase has two little hooks that perhaps at one time held a divider in place.  i pinned around over them and decided that I would figure out how to integrate them later.

Suitcase 025 Suitcase 024

I really liked the way it looked and fit.  Next up was pinning and cutting out the top and bottom interior pieces.

bottom pieces

I also dry-fit the top and bottom pieces, crossing my fingers that it would work (I really didn’t have the energy to try again if it didn’t). i folded the raw edges under to give it a clean look.

interior dryfit completed interior dryfit completed2


Perfect!  But I really wish I had started with the top and bottom pieces first! Would have made life easier.

Still avoiding a thorough cleaning of the suitcase, I decided to work on the vintage table in the morning.


It was easy to disassemble. The tabletop was screwed into the wood base with 9 screws.  I love the top so much, that I am thinking about turning it into a tray–but that is a project for another day.

I sanded the legs down with 100 grit sandpaper, followed by 120 and 150.  The wood was gorgeous.  Initially I had thought that it was made from pine and stained a dark cherry.  Nope–it IS cherry wood!  So after using a tack cloth to remove all of the dust & grit, I coated the legs and base with Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish. I really love water based products–clean-up is so easy!

table base legs

Absolutely beautiful! I just knew the table base would look fantastic with the suitcase.

No longer able to avoid the inevitable, I set out to clean the suitcase while the table base cured.  Does polycrylic cure, set, or just dry?  Well whatever the correct term is–I gave it a whole day.

I really don’t know why I was avoiding cleaning out the suitcase.  With a putty knife, a wire brush, and a little elbow grease, it cleaned up quickly and nicely. Since I’m covering the interior with fabric, I wasn’t too worried about the bits that didn’t want to come off.

clean suitcase 002

Now it was time to finish the suitcase table.  I measured the exterior and the table base at least 5 times (because I am that paranoid about screwing it up).

Then I realized that I needed to find the center point of the suitcase and the table base.  Okay, I’m not great at math and studied extra hard with tutors just to get a “B” in Liberal Arts Math.  I’m not dumb, but when it comes to math my brain wants to shut down.

Anybody remember Windows’ Blue Screen of Death? Yup, that’s my brain with math.


I Turned my suitcase upside down and placed the table base on top. I measured from the outer edge of the table base to the inner edge (where the rubber edging started) and the center of each side to center the table base on the suitcase.

finishing suitcase 001

When I had the table centered over the suitcase, I had someone hold it in place while I drilled the holes.

finishing suitcase 002

suitcase table part 2 028

I thought that it would be easiest to work with the top of the suitcase before screwing it into the table base, so I went ahead and glued the fabric to the top of the suitcase at this time.

Having learned from the dry fitting, I glued the top piece in before I started on the edges.

I used hard coat Mod Podge.

Suitcase interior 002

I coated the entire “top” of the suitcase in Mod Podge, making sure that to do a heavy coating around the edges. I began on the center edge and smoothed it up, down, and outwards as went across the surface. I also made sure to add a little extra up the sides to ensure good coverage. Next, I started on the edging.

*Note* I learned the hard that I should have at least used the no sew hem tape on the raw edges before I began.  If I were to do this again, I would have pinned the raw edge while doing the dry fitting.

interior top 002

Remember those little hooks? I cut a slit in the fabric, close to the finished edge and slipped the hook through it. Worked out well.

interior top 003

After all of the edging is done, let it dry for about 15 minutes, then seal the fabric with a top coating of Mod Podge.  After the top coat of Mod Podge was applied,  I used the push pins around the corners and along the seam to hold the fabric in place while it dried.

Once the top was dry, I screwed the suitcase onto the table.

It is finally time to add the fabric interior. Again, I started with the main surface piece and used the process as I did with the top.

finishing suitcase 010

Now you have a fantastic and unique accent or end table.


Vintage Suitcase Table

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Hidden Lane

While at Goodwill a few weeks ago, I found two endtables that I thought would be great as nightstands in my bedroom.  They will replace the ugly and ineffective Closetmaid shelves that we are currently using.  The plan was to sand them down a bit, prime them, and paint them an espresso color to match my furniture.  Well, they sat in the garage for weeks while I was working on some other projects.  Yesterday I finally got around to the end tables.  After careful inspection, I opted out of sanding and instead decided to strip the paint.  Boy was I surprised when I saw the bottom of the end table. It’s a Lane Furniture piece! Style No. 1667 (not that it matters because it’s not on their website).  After stripping the paint, I could not understand why anyone would have painted them (and not very well either).  Here’s what they look like…painted and stripped.  I will not be painting these bad boys. Oh no. They will get a nice coat (or two) of Minwax Espresso Stain and a Poly Acrylic coating (for all the cups of water I drink before bed and the coffee I drink in the morning). I will share the process and the finished product soon!