Category Archives: Before/After

Square lampshade redo

In my quest to finish my little man’s big boy room, I decided to add a few more projects to the list.  One was a new lamp that was more fitting with the rest of the room.  This idea started when I saw this lamp shade at a thrift store for $3 and a recollection of the 20,000  tutorials to recover a lampshade. Interestingly I never found a tutorial for a square lampshade, so here’s my stab at it!

While I pulled some ideas from a few of them, I followed the tutorial from shanty 2 chic the most.

I started by cutting down a seam and then carefully removing the outside layer of fabric (Keep the liner on). Try to keep the fabric all in one piece as that will be your template for your new fabric.  Good thing I read the tutorial before attempting this, because I’m totally that girl who just rips everything apart and then tries to figure it out later.  You’ll end up with just the lampshade skeleton

Because my lampshade was square, and my fabric didn’t have much give to it.  I ended up cutting 4 pieces and sewing the edges together.  This was different from all the other tutorials I had seen. I added 1/2″ of extra fabric all around my previous fabric template before cutting it out. Then just ran a stitch connecting all 4 sides. I trimmed the excess fabric off about a 1/4″ from the seam to make it less bulky and allow it to look more smooth.

Place the new fabric over your lampshade skeleton. (sorry for the bad lighting.  Some project are done best at midnight!)

I used my cameo to add an acrylic barn red-painted stencil of the number “10” to coordinate with my little man’s decor and vintage car theme. I was afraid that it would have been too hard to paint this once the fabric was on the lampshade, so I chose to do it before.  I don’t know if I would bother doing it that way again.

I placed the new lampshade over the skeleton.  Using E-6000 and clothespins I stretched the fabric, glued with e-6000 and held in place with clothespins.  Oh I should mention that I cut all the corners at a diagonal (essentially cutting the bottom corner off) to make the fold over and gluing much easier and again to make sure it laid smoothly on the lamp shade.  I clipped the top of one side with clothespins to hold it in place, then glued and clipped the bottom.  I did each side then waited a few minutes before moving to the next side.  I did all 4 sides on the bottom of the lamp shade before tackling the top.

To finish it off I added my own DIY bias tape to the top and bottom of the shade using excess fabric cut into strips long enough to wrap around the bottom and top of your shade.  Fold over a side and iron, then fold over the other side iron.  Wrap around the bottom of the shade and use e-6000 to glue on.

This little project inspired me to make my own lamp, and night stand too.  Stay tuned, you might even see little man’s vintage care themed bedroom reveal yet this summer?!


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Filed under Before/After, DIY Projects, Gift of Thrift, Tutorials

Scary Basement overhaul

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, this week I am dedicating each post to a DIY project that my husband played a key role in completing.  The first is by far the largest project we have taken on yet…and are still married to tell about it.  When we bought this house in 2008, we had some ideas on how to make it ours.  Some of the ideas were simple (paint), some a bit more complex (landscaping). While our main level is very open and awesome, the living room is pretty small, add some oversized furniture and a few children’s toys and it’s less than ideal.  So last fall we set out to expand our living space by finishing our scary basement.

A bit of background on our house.  We know our house was built over 60 years ago, but likely closer to 100 years ago.  The character of our home is was sold me and made it a “must have” for me .  By “character” I’m referring to leaded glass windows, original wood work, built-in cabinets, vintage doors and hardware, and some amazing walk-in closets. (Maybe I’ll have to share a home tour one of these days).  However, there are some interesting features too.  For example the walls of the foundation  were made by hand using concrete and 2 x 10’s (can you see the ridges?!) and the cistern in the basement.

As we talked about the basement as a living space, a few RULES were established.
1.  This space would allow my husband to have a say in the decor.  Until now,  much of the decor that he brought to the relationship is in hiding.  I have a rule that no dead animals will be displayed on the main living area of the house. So he made the rule that no flowers were allowed in the basement.  The inspiration for the basement decor would be the object of his affection, The Mistress (also known as his Harley Davidson soft tail Heritage motorcycle that I picked out and made him buy…which might be the reason he married me, but that’s a completely different post).

2. The space needed to be cozy enough for a family room, but practical enough for a play room.

3.  This was a DIY project.  We He would do all the work ourselves himself.  Our goal was to keep this around a $5,000 budget- and we were pretty close.

I didn’t do a stellar job getting pictures through out but you’ll get the idea. Here we go…
BEFORE (2 weeks into the project):

Because the stair case was located against this exterior wall we needed to come up with some creative solutions for the wall.  We wouldn’t be able to frame up the wall for drywall, because it would make out stair case too narrow and the wall going up the staircase wouldn’t match.  Thankfully that handy husband looked into my suggestion of glueing (Liquid Nails) wainscoting to the cement wall.  It worked, but remember this is not a flat wall, so after glueing each piece he had to tape it in about 30 different places to hold it in place until the glue dried.

(South wall)

(East wall)

A Useless fake interior wall and 3 annoying poles.  We think the previous owner was planning to finish this space into a living area, but really didn’t know what he was doing.  He used roofing nails to put some uneven drywall up and mounted a crooked door into the furnace room.  In order to make the room open, we needed to get rid of the goofy 3 poles that were supporting the ceiling (they were already taken down by the time I thought to get a picture).  This was a project, it meant completely reinforcing the ceiling (upstairs floor) with double headers and reinforcements. Turns out by reinforcing the basement ceiling, we took quite a few squeaks out of the wood floors on the main level.

(Interior North wall)

(west wall)

This was about a 6 month project start to finish, only working part-time in the evenings.   Here’s a few pictures of the  DURING stages like putting up drywall, creating the fireplace, adding interior doors to the storage and furnace room, plaster- skip trowel, updating electrical, drop ceiling, replacing windows, staining wood work, painting, carpet, and a few finishing touches.

(east wall)

(South Wall)  Installed new window, and gas fireplace.  As you can see I was in the process of determining paint colors.

(West Wall) Most of the electrical went to this wall, the future home of the media center (hole on right) and plasma tv.   Also notice the make shift ledge along the south wall leading up to the fireplace.  Can you see those fun lines and angles we created to draw your eye to the fireplace…no?!? just wait.

Ceiling: check out that reinforced ceiling and updated electrical running across the ceiling.   I think the greatest learning opportunity came with the husband learning about how to run all the electrical work.  Thankfully my dad has a background as an electrician so he was a good troubleshooting resource.  As you can see in the before pictures we just had what I like to call “garage” fluorescent lighting, we added new canned lighting added electrical outlets all over the place, and ran the cables through the walls for tv and other media options.

Painted the walls grey & yellow (remember the room was inspired by his Harley), added a drop tile ceiling.  We  He also stained all the trim and doors a dark walnut color and installed.

Nearly complete.  Here is the door on the interior wall that goes into the storage room.  You can see the “in progress” media center on the left side.

My contribution to the basement was laying out the stonework design on the fireplace, which was like one giant puzzle  with no 2 pieces being alike. Although my husband gets the credit for prepping for install and actually making my design work on the wall!

Ready…wait for it….After

(East Wall)

As you may notice, the staircase was completely replaced.  The original (which I didn’t take a picture) was completely open on the side and  under each step. The railing was an old pipe that did little in terms of allowing small kids from falling off the side (safety concern).   At the top of the steps is the landing, where we were storing all of our shoes, hats, etc.  That was removed and that reveal can be seen here. We added a half wall to the side of the steps to be a bit safer.  Also to make creative use of space- little man has a play area under the steps that also houses many of the toys that were previously laying/stacked/completely covering in the living room. The door is painted with chalkboard paint to encourage a little creativity!

(West wall ) with carpet…

I’m a huge fan of angles.  We wanted the focus of the room to be drawn to the fireplace, while also having the TV visible throughout the room.  I also wanted the ledge along the south exterior wall (Left wall in pictures above) to tie into the mantle.  The challenge I mentioned above really came in with this south wall.  Somehow we needed to do something to that wall in order to give it a finished look.  We decided on gluing (liquid nails) wainscoting to it, then painting it.  Good in theory, but uneven walls makes that a little more interesting.  We got it to work well enough to fit our needs.   We also replaced the windows (originally just storm windows).

The built in entertainment center and wall mounted TV was a way to open up floor space. It’s functional enough for the husband to go down and watch tv while little man is entertaining himself with the door to his play room.  We filled the room with furniture (for now) with what we had and slowly are adding some life to the room. (turns out it’s a great space for hosting birthday parties too)!

Remember the rules about decor…well here are some of the efforts I’ve made so far, and of course the husband has helped with almost all of them!
The Pottery Barn inspired Clock (Can also be seen above in the media wall picture)

A gallery wall filled with hardware art and some word art (so far) on the interior wall.

Last but not least was some subway art for on the mantel filled with  memories on the motorcycle.

A huge thank you goes out to my husband for listening to all of my particular ideas and making it happen.  The only tasks we hired someone to do was to install the fireplace, and to lay the carpet…everything else was a showcase of my husband’s AMAZING skills.  See told you he’s pretty handy to have.

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Filed under Before/After, DIY Projects, Handyman

Sew Scary {repurposed wedding dress}

I remember on my wedding night a good friend came up to me at the reception and said “I LOVE your dress, it would be a beautiful baptismal gown” and that little seed was all I needed.  I knew that my wedding dress was not going to get “preserved” in a box.  But after our wedding night, I balled it up and threw (GASP– right?) it in a bag.  A few months later I  took it out of the bag and hung it up in my closet.  About 2 months ago, I thought it was about time to jump into this project before it was too late.  Since I hadn’t even had it cleaned, I did some research on how to do it myself.  (For a tutorial on how to clean your own wedding dress without the hefty price tag go here).  I decided it was time.

I should share a little story here.  I have always been a thrifty girl and our wedding was no different.  I bought my wedding dress from China for $20, I sent my measurements and it was made to fit me (not suggesting that I endorse 3rd world sweatshops, so be nice).  With shipping and some minor alterations it came to about $200.  (For more on some thrifty ideas from our DIY wedding go here).  I have a hard time thinking my daughter would wear my dress when she got older.  Who knew I’d even have a daughter. Who knows what the style would be in 20+ years, not to mention that I’d hate to impose my dress on my daughter for her wedding. Before I cut up my dress, I did remember to grab a few pictures of it (don’t mind that it was at work in the hallway).

Back of dress:

(the lighting wasn’t ideal, so I did some editing to this picture to help bring out the details a bit more)


Front of dress details:

Details of the train:

Thankfully I have a friend is a much more reliable sewer than I, who was willing to help a friend in need.  She had a basic pattern (that we modified of course) to help us piece together the gown.  Here’s a few pictures of the “during” process from wedding gown to baptismal gown. The first cut wasn’t as scary as the first attempt to sew a hem.  Seriously my palms were sweating.

Today my wedding dress shares space between a pile of remaining fabric in a bag for something amazing in the future (not sure what that will be yet) and my daughter’s baptismal gown.

Despite my fear of sewing, I am very excited about how this turned out.  While I tend to be the adventurous type, chopping up my wedding dress isn’t something that I do everyday, so I wanted to make sure every tidbit of fabric was used purposefully.

So there you have it.  I challenged myself to tackle one scary thing, and am overjoyed with the results.  I hope this gown will be one I can hand down to my grandchildren some day to keep the material items from our wedding alive for years to come.

Oh yes, my daughter in her baptismal gown…sure thing 🙂
Little-d-Tales: EllaMae 3 MO. &emdash;
Little-d-Tales: EllaMae 3 MO. &emdash;
Little-d-Tales: EllaMae 3 MO. &emdash;
Linking to:

Funky Junk Interiors, Home Stories A to Z, Sugar Bee Crafts, Not Just a Housewife, Todays Creative blog, Sew Chatty,  Best DIY project of 2012


Filed under Before/After, DIY Projects, Gift of Thrift, Repurpose, sewing

How to hang straight pictures

Now, I know this might seem like a silly post, but I have found a simple way to fix those crooked pictures!  You see I have a gallery wall in the basement. That same wall is also is home to 2 doors into storage areas that are used daily.  Every time the doors open and close another picture tilts, and it drives me bonkers.  Similar scenario in the bathroom, so I found a quick and easy way to cheat.  It’s kind of my little secret and have since done away with hammer and nails completely to hang small items on the wall.  Want to know if it really works?  Here’s a sample of a recent wall hanging frustration made better.

The trick is these handy dandy 3M strips

Simply put them on the back of the picture.  The remove easily without wrecking the wall or your picture.  No measuring, no crazy nail holes all over your walls.  Simply attach them in a hidden place on the back of whatever you want to hang.

Take off the paper backing and place it on the wall. If you make a mistake you can always remove without leaving a mark! It’s pretty nifty.  Not to mention my husband loves that I’m not leaving nail holes all over the house every time I change my mind.  Less to patch up later 🙂  I believe each tab can hold up to 15 lbs.  I’ve used them to hang garland (with the clips) around windows and some metal art on the gallery wall with success.

Hope you find this little tip handy.  Best of all, the 3M strips are pretty cheap.  Michael’s sells them for less than $10 for a pack of 48.  Add a 40% off coupon in there and you should be set for a while.  Let me know if you try.  I’d also like to hear what other tricks you might use to hang pictures or use these little adhesive strips for. Do Share!

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Filed under Before/After, Handyman


I just wanted to share that Maryann has featured my son’s Big Boy Dresser over at Power of Paint.

Head over and check it out, and gather up some inspiration to paint 🙂

For a complete list of where my projects are featured, see the “Where I’m Featured” tab at the top of my blog!

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Filed under Before/After, Blog Love

A Lesson in Recovery {Fabric}

I have some pretty high aspirations when it comes to fabric. Combine that with someone who has very little experience with sewing, or really anything with fabric, and you have one perplexed individual.  I see what other bloggers can do and I get all inspired, and then frustrated because I don’t have a clue.  Many of these little creative genius’ roaming the blog world are operating in a whole different league, we aren’t even in the same division! So this post is dedicated to tackling something that is very challenging for you!

I desperately want to tackle a upholstery project, but I just don’t feel very confident (this is pretty true about anything to do with sewing too).  But thanks to a few blogs I’ve read, when I saw this stool for $1 at an estate sale I knew that even I could make her pretty and functional….or at least attempt to.

I started by taking off the top fabric and pad simply by pulling the staples on the bottom.

Then I placed the old foam on a new piece of foam.  Using a sharpie I traced around the old foam to make sure my new cushion was the right size.

I cut out the cushion with a rotary blade (shown above) because it is SO sharp and cuts much smoother than my attempt with a scissors and any other blade for that matter.  Once the new cushion was cut from the new foam I placed it on top of the stool frame, and laid my fabric over the top of the foam.  I took the entire stool (with foam and fabric on top) and flipped over on top of the table, and went to town with a staple gun.

Trim off the excess fabric, close to the staples.  Right side up she looked like this…

But to make her even more pretty, I pulled out some ribbon and glued it to the edge.

Mission accomplished.  Stool pretty-fied, and functional.
(Whoa, don’t look in the background.  My craft space is the porch of our house which has been doubling as “storage of stuff.”  Guess it’s time for some spring cleaning)

What projects have you done that were a little out of your comfort zone, but you are glad you did it?  Comment below and share a link if you can!


Filed under Before/After, Gift of Thrift, Tutorials

Non-traditional Nursery wall art

Since finding out we are having a girl (due in 3 weeks) we decided to transform the “red” room previously guest room into the nursery.  In order to prevent a divorce, the husband and I agreed that we would not attempt to re-paint the Vatican Red (Behr) walls.  And the Damask inspired Black and White look would work.  It’s not your traditional nursery decor, but it’s what I wanted.  No sense arguing with a pregnant woman!

If you remember my little “pretty” storage post you’ll remember the unique character of our old home, with fun hardware like this…

And little built-ins for some creative storage ideas…

These fun elements helped shape the inspiration for the wall art above the crib.  Keeping with the Black and White damask theme I picked up a few fabric remnants from Jo-Ann fabrics and various sized embroidery hoops.  The 2-second project was complete after I tightened the screws and cut some fabric to fit the embroidery hoop size.

Next I picked up a number of small plates- enough for each letter of her name. And purchased some Disc Hangers on Amazon.  These disc hangers were a fuzzy little dream of mine for a long time and having been longing to hang some plates on my walls.  Simply clean the backs of your plates really well and let dry.

Then add some water to the back side of the disc hangers and smudge it around with your finger to get it good and gooey.  Hard to see the “gooey-ness” in this picture, but they definitely get a tacky feel to them.  Just be careful not to rub the glue right off.

Adhere to the back of your plate (or have your husband do it so you can capture the picture for your blog) and let dry for 12 hours.

Combine all these pretties together on your wall for some fun non-traditional nursery wall art on the cheap.

You’ll have to come back and see her name and meet her in a few weeks 🙂

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Filed under Before/After, DIY Projects, Gift of Thrift