Archives For furniture

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the word ‘sofa’? I also hate the words ‘swag’ and ‘sneakers’ in case you are wondering (Apparently, I hate words that start with an ‘s’).

Anyway, the point is there are tables which go behind couches and they are often called ‘sofa tables’, but since I just can’t call them that, I’m going with ‘behind-the-couch table.’ Just go with it.

My living room is long and skinny which makes arranging it interesting. I’ve found that a table behind the couch not only “shortens” the distance between the couch and the rest of the room, but it also gives me a place to display cool stuff. The one I found I wanted was from IKEA and it cost $170 (It is now discontinued). So since I couldn’t afford it at the time I created my very own behind-the-couch table!

I used empty tubs and boxes to create the “table” and then covered it in fabric.

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It was like this for almost a year before I gave it a makeover by adding another layer of tub lids to make it sturdier. I also changed the fabric to a clean white sheet.
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This version lasted another one and a half years. It was always on my to-do list to build or buy something more permanent, but the temporary version worked so nicely it wasn’t a major priority.

But the temp solution definitely wasn’t flawless. Of course, it all comes back to Bob. As you know, Bob sucks. He regularly sits on this “table” meaning it was starting to buckle under his weight. Last week, when he got particularly riled up about a cat/squirrel/mail person he knocked over one of my plants. Thankfully he didn’t break the planter but it looked like this:

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If this were a solid surface I could easily wipe off the dirt, but since it’s a sheet it requires removing all of the things, washing the sheet, and then putting back all of the things. And I’m super lazy. I’m so lazy that I would rather build a table than just wash the sheet. I guess maybe that doesn’t make me lazy, just weird.

So I just did it. I followed a few tutorials (this one and this one). Here is what I bought to make a 75″ long behind-the-couch table to fit behind an IKEA Karlstad couch:

2 – 23″ tall 12″ x 2″ boards

1- 75″ long 12″ x 2″ board

4 – corner braces, size 4″

1 – 15 quantity box of 1.5″ wood screws

4 – 3″ wood screws (I had these on hand)

Honestly the most difficult part of this whole thing was buying and having the lumber cut. It was stressful because I’ve never done it before. Also, loading and unloading the lumber to and from my car and then into my house was a little sweaty.

I connected the “legs” to the main board by using the corner braces. I pre-drilled the holes which made it really simple and fast.

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When I stood the table up (quite a bit more difficult than you would think) it was a bit wobbly. I decided I’d rather lose the smooth top surface for sturdiness, so I drilled four (two on each side) 3″ screws to further stabilize it. Since this step was unplanned, I just used what I had on hand. I was lucky enough to find 4 – 3″ screws but they unfortunately didn’t have a flat profile. Ah well, it wasn’t worth a trip to the store so I have no regrets.

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Next came my least favorite part, painting. I can’t seem to go a weekend without painting something. If I believed in purgatory, I’d venture to say it involved an endless painting project.

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As you can see, I’m so lazy, I didn’t even bother to paint the underside. Future Jasmin may be annoyed at this decision, but present Jasmin is very pleased with the choice.

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I am not the best at being patient so I should have sanded more, should have put on a second coat of primer, should have bought a clear sealer, should have should have should have blah blah blah. You should do all of those things. Do as I say, not as I do.

I tried my hardest to wait a full 48 hours so it would cure, but I only made it about 30 hours. Again, do as I say, not as I do. Seriously.

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A power strip and router are hiding under the table.

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Not bad if I do say so myself!! And the best part is it only cost me $41 and one afternoon. If you are nervous about building a simple piece of furniture like this here’s my public endorsement: You can do it!*

*As long as you have a power drill and a vehicle big enough to transport the wood. Oh, and $41.

This is my dining room as of September 2013, enjoy!

My Little House: Dark teal dining room with postcard wall My Little House: Dark teal dining room with postcard wall My Little House: Dark teal dining room with postcard wall My Little House: Dark teal dining room with postcard wall

My Little House: Dark teal dining room with postcard wall My Little House: Dark teal dining room with postcard wall My Little House: Dark teal dining room with postcard wall My Little House: Dark teal dining room with postcard wall My Little House: Dark teal dining room with postcard wall My Little House: Dark teal dining room with postcard wall

All photographs are courtesy of Ashley a. Photography, thanks Ashley!

when to buy vintage when to buy new

One of my greatest dilemmas when buying things for my house is whether to buy vintage or buy new. There are merits to both! There are pitfalls to both! A classic pro and con list is called for.

Pro: Buying Vintage 

If you found a (seemingly) one of a kind item at some dusty thrift shop on a gross side of town then make way for some major bragging rights. Oh, that old thing? It’s unique, awesome, and it was only three cents. Also, vintage items have that perfectly rusted and perfectly distressed look to them that just cannot be recreated (although we’ve all tried at some point). Vintage items can also be significantly cheaper than new items that look old. In my experience the further away from any major city you go the cheaper the items are (not to be city snob but country folk don’t always know what they have). Another pro? Finding a cool vintage piece feels like winning the lottery. You searched and you found that perfect vintage school map for under $100 and the shopper’s high is incredible.

Con: Buy Vintage

Buying vintage is kind of a lot of work. I mean, it’s not like you can just go to the one perfect thrift shop in town that has all the cool stuff for affordable prices (unless that place exists, in which case, tell me where!). Buying vintage takes driving around to all the thrift shops in town and sifting through loads upon loads of unorganized, dusty junk to find that one brass figurine that your heart has always desired. Your hands will smell and you’ll be hungry and you’ll get drowsy from all the driving. Not to mention that vintage items can be really overpriced. I’m sorry, you want how much for the dinged up, not to mention non-functioning, letter ‘T’ from an old neon sign??? I mean it would look insane in my dining room but I’m not paying three figures for it! And now with the proliferation of blogs and Pinterest that once unique light up globe lamp that you found for $12 (ahem) doesn’t look so special when ever other photo on the internet showcases one. If you think about it, we are basically buying stuff that was mass produced 50 years ago, it isn’t really that unique, it just happened to have survived the last few decades.

Pro: Buying New

Pretty much any store that sells housewares has vintage-looking items. That distressed crate with French words, the side table with the brass capped legs… you know what I’m talking about. The obvious pro to buying new is convenience. Any home store will have a vintaged-ly patterned china set and hey! it will all match and you won’t spend hours/days/years thrifting to find a matching set. Also, can I just say cleanliness. Thrifting isn’t for the faint of heart, I have been in some straight-up nasty stores looking for vintage stuff, in comparison, you could perform surgery in Target it’s so clean. Buying new will also provide you with more knowledge of the piece you are buying. If you are buying a new mid-century style dresser you will know the quality based on where you purchase it, buying the same style dresser at a vintage shop and your guess on it’s origins, quality, and life span are only just that.

Con: Buying New

My number one problem with buying new stuff is unoriginality. Sure I love a lot of stuff at IKEA and Target but the likelihood that someone I know will also purchase the same piece is up there. Number two? Price. I wanted a side table that looked like a bar cart but I knew that if I purchased it new it would be over $100, so I buckled down and thrifted until I found what I wanted for $15. Also, buying new doesn’t necessary mean it will be good quality. Most furniture sold today is particle board or some sort of manufactured wood, but vintage stuff can often be well made. Just think about it, there is a 0% chance that Lack side table from IKEA is going to last even until next year let alone 30 years from now. Vintage furniture has stood the test of time.

So what do you think? Are you dedicated to the vintage hunt or are you happy with the convenience of buying new? I definitely lean more toward vintage but I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of buying new things. I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments!

Photographs of my Bedroom

October 24, 2013 — 1 Comment

This is my bedroom as of September 2013, enjoy!

Little House Design: Bedroom with bold blue walls and campaign dresser Little House Design: Bedroom with bold blue walls and campaign dresser Little House Design: Bedroom with bold blue walls and campaign dresser Little House Design: Bedroom with bold blue walls and campaign dresser Little House Design: Bedroom with bold blue walls and campaign dresser Little House Design: Bedroom with bold blue walls and campaign dresser Little House Design: Bedroom with bold blue walls and campaign dresser Little House Design: Bedroom with bold blue walls and campaign dresser Little House Design: Bedroom with bold blue walls and campaign dresser Little House Design: Bedroom with bold blue walls and campaign dresser Little House Design: Bedroom with bold blue walls and campaign dresser Little House Design: Bedroom with bold blue walls and campaign dresser Little House Design: Bedroom with bold blue walls and campaign dresser Little House Design: Bedroom with bold blue walls and campaign dresser

All photos are courtesy of Ashley a. Photography, thanks Ashley!

Living Room Photographs

October 22, 2013 — 5 Comments

This is my living room as of September 2013, enjoy!

Little House Design: Eclectic, vintage style living room Little House Design: Eclectic, vintage style living room Little House Design: Eclectic, vintage style living room Little House Design: Eclectic, vintage style living room Little House Design: Eclectic, vintage style living room Little House Design: Eclectic, vintage style living room Little House Design: Eclectic, vintage style living room Little House Design: Eclectic, vintage style living room Little House Design: Eclectic, vintage style living room Little House Design: Eclectic, vintage style living room Little House Design: Eclectic, vintage style living room Little House Design: Eclectic, vintage style living room

All photos are courtesy of Ashley a. Photography, thanks Ashley!

My painted fabric ottoman is finished!

For a refresher, I bought the ottoman here for $25 and then in Part 1 of this makeover I re-attached the lining and re-stained the legs here. For part 2, I opted to paint the fabric.

It’s hard to capture the difference, but in person this ottoman went from a dingy and faded blue to a super-saturated bold blue (it isn’t as purple as it looks above).
When I first saw this ottoman hiding in a dingy corner of a thrift shop I knew it had major potential but I sat on it for a few weeks because I was unsure of how to make it over. I considered re-upholstering it but then a friend suggested I paint it. Which reminded me that a year ago I pinned a fabric painting tutorial (here), but I hadn’t thought much about it since. Then I saw that it was time for the Spring Pinterest Challenge and I knew it was the perfect time to just go for it!
via YHL

Here are the materials and the steps I took to paint my fabric ottoman:

Materials:
1 Quart Latex Satin Paint
1 Spray Bottle for Water
2″-3″ Paint Brush
Fabric Medium (I used 4 – 2 oz bottles)

1) Prepare the paint mixture. I found different ‘recipes’ online but the one I chose to use was:

1 part fabric medium + 1 part latex paint + 1 part water

I found that two 2 oz bottles of fabric medium are exactly a 1/2 cup so I went with that as my starting point and then added 1/2 cup latex paint and a 1/2 cup of water. It doesn’t look like a lot of paint (it’s only 1 & 1/2 cups of liquid) so I wasn’t sure it would be enough but I went with it and figured I could mix up more if I needed to.

To show you how ‘soupy’ it is here is a visual aid:
The top is the mixture of water+fabric medium+latex paint and the bottom is just latex paint. I’m showing you this to explain that painting fabric like this doesn’t cover up major flaws or stains in the fabric. So if you are trying to decide if you want to paint that chair with the huge stain on the seat, this won’t cover it up. If anything, I found that this process was more like tinting the fabric not painting it. Thankfully I was just going from dingy light blue to a more saturated dark blue so it worked for me. The point is this: You need to start with a fabric that is lighter and that doesn’t have major blemishes.
2) Wet the fabric.
I used this large industrial sprayer that I have and it worked great. The wetter the fabric the better the paint goes on so don’t be shy with the amount of water you spray on. See how I have newspaper down? That was a very bad idea, don’t use newspaper! I didn’t realize how much water I would be using and the newspaper just got soggy, for the second coat I used a garbage bag and it worked much better.
I wet the ottoman in sections (about a foot in diameter). And then brushed on a small amount of the paint mixture.
It was pretty simple and it went super fast. I wasn’t sure I would have enough paint to cover the whole thing but the 1 & 1/2 cups of liquid did a whole coat on this ottoman (it’s about 2’x4’x1′ for reference).

I was nervous about how hard it would be to paint all those tufts, but it was really pretty easy. I just jammed my brush into all the crevices (there’s a dirty joke in there) and I tried not to let too much paint and water/paint gather in the holes and folds.

Though it’s slightly blurry, you can see from left to right it’s dry, wet, and painted.

After the first coat:

It only took me 45 minutes to do the first coat! I thought it would be a much longer project. I let it dry overnight and then repeated the whole process. The second coat didn’t use nearly as much paint so I actually ended up doing a third coat right after the second just because I had the paint already mixed.
After two coats:
Cost Breakdown:
Ottoman: $25
Latex Paint: $14 (I only used 1 cup of this so there are lots more projects left in this quart)
Fabric Medium: $10 ( 4 – 2oz bottles at $1.99 each)
Sanding blocks, foam paint brush, regular paint brush, spray bottle, stain: $0 (I had all these times already)
Total: $49
Considering that similar ottomans sell for well over $250, I am completely satisfied with this price. And amazingly, I sold my old glass coffee table on craigslist for $50 so I basically broke even!
I highly recommend painting fabric, it was easy, quick, and it looks great! My only caution is that you pick the right piece to paint. You want a piece that is fairly light in color (or at least a simliar color to what you want to paint it) with no major stains or blemishes on the fabric.
I’m crazy in love with this ottoman!

For the past few months I’ve been doing research for my ‘Thrift Shops of Indianapolis’ series for twentysomethingindy.com (you can read my past articles here). And since my research involves a lot of shopping I’ve been trying my hardest not to buy a ton of stuff, but you know self-control only goes so far. Last weekend I spotted this utility cart for only $15 and I had to bring it home.

This corner of my living room has been a spot of contention for me previously. Here is the before:

It was just an IKEA Lack table I got for $7.99 with a basket from Target underneath. It served it’s purpose for the last 12 or so months, but I never liked it there. This room was getting a little IKEAish what with the couches, rug, and this table it was like an IKEA showroom. So when I saw the utility cart I thought it might fit the space better (it’s longer and taller) plus it is unique and it was cheap – perfect!

I love it! When I purchased it I thought of spray painting the green shelves because as you can see in the last few pictures the top is really rusty. But I decided to at least live with it for a few days or weeks and see if I like it as is.

What do you think, leave it or spray paint it? If I did spray paint it, what color? I was thinking yellow for some reason even though there isn’t a whole lot of yellow in this room. I’ll keep you updated!

Progress on the ottoman makeover has begun!

For a recap, here is the original post where I purchased the ottoman: here.

It was $25 and it looks like this:

Not the most beautiful thing in the world, but dang it if it wasn’t a great price for such a big nice piece. My original plan, as outlined in the post, when I bought it was to reupholster it. But then I grew a few brain cells and realized that is waaaay beyond my skill set. Actually, I could probably do it but by the time I spend money on fabric and spend all the time reupholstering it I don’t think it would be worth it…. so I changed my game plan. It was actually from a recommendation in the comments of the original post. My friend suggested that I paint it. Yep, paint the fabric.
I haven’t started that part yet, but I did start another part of the project so I’ll start with that.
Not the best picture I’ve ever taken but it at least shows you what I was working with. In the time that I bought it and brought it home the lining on the bottom fell off part-way (the strings are from the tufts).

Since the lining was still intact (it had just pulled away from the staples) I decided to reattach it instead of completely replacing it.

All I did was pull the lining tight.

And since I don’t have a stapler, I just used small nails and a hammer.
It only took a few minutes and a handful of nails to complete this part. If at some point in the future it falls off again I’ll just get a new lining and borrow a stapler, but I don’t see why this wouldn’t hold.

The next thing I did was tackle the legs. My original plan was take the legs off and stain or paint them, but it turns out that however they are attached is beyond my strength to remove (I tried with all my might). Oh well, on to Plan B. I used a sanding block to rough it up a bit. The sanding block worked great because it went into the crevices really well.

After a good sanding, I Frog Taped around the leg so that I wouldn’t ruin the fabric.
Here is a decent (if slightly blurry) shot of the leg (albeit upside down). Kind of a country style but not so bad that I couldn’t work with them. At the tip of the leg you can see how it’s a lighter color and there is a hole in it, that is where a wheel used to be attached. By the time I got the ottoman only two of the wheels had survived. I decided to just remove them and leave the ottoman immobile. I kept the wheel if I decide in the future to put the wheels on again (I could take the wheel into a hardware store and match it). The main reason I decided against wheels is because I like being able to sit on it and wheels make me nervous to sit on. But having it movable would be really nice so maybe I’ll change my mind.
Anyway, …

After sanding and taping, I filled in the little holes from the wheels with putty.

I debated about painting or staining, but I decided to leave them wood and just stain them. I had stain left over from my semi-disastrous IKEA Rast dresser makeover (here and here). I found out that the reason the stain didn’t work on that project was because I used a paint brush, apparently you are supposed to use a foam brush. Since I already had the stain, I figured it was worth trying again. Of course, this time I used a foam brush instead and it worked much better!
Here is a side-by-side. It isn’t a major difference but it blends in the tip of the leg so it looks better.

This is after a one coat.

Here it is after a second coat:

Part 1 complete! Next phase is painting the fabric. Let the fingernail biting begin!

I’ve talked about buying stuff on craigslist quite a bit (here, here, and here) but I’ve never talked about how I sell things on craigslist. In order to remedy that one-sidedness here is how I sell things (not people) on craigslist. I think it might work too because I put three items up for sale on Friday at 6:00 pm and all three items sold in 24 hours!

1) Take good pictures.

I’m not talking about the quality of the camera you use, I mean take pictures of the furniture or items while they are still in use. For example, here a picture of the white glass coffee table I just sold:

And here’s a picture I took after I’d moved it to another room with the intent to sell it:
See the difference between the two images? I think it really helps for people to see the piece you are trying to sell when it’s in use. The top image is also much more eye catching which is beneficial when you are trying to sell something. I also include multiple pictures, usually about three. One or two of the item in use and one or two detail shots (or of defective areas which I’ll talk about in a minute).
2) Be descriptive and personable in your ad. 
Yes, you are only selling a piece of furniture but it doesn’t hurt to make your ad interesting. Here is the ad I wrote for the coffee table above:
I have a round white glass coffee table on wheels. It is the IKEA STRIND coffee table which retails for $99 (here). This coffee table is in great condition and I have been very happy with it I’m just changing my living room around. It is 30″ in diameter and 16″ tall. If you want more info or pictures please email me! $50 cash.

 
Here is the information I always include in my ads:
 
A) A description of the item. If the piece you are selling is a name brand or from a famous store include that. If the item is still for sale include a link. 
B) Information about the condition of the piece. The coffee table was actually in great condition so I didn’t have to talk about defects, but when I sold the red chair I included this picture:
 
And explained that there was a small amount of fraying that was happening. The point is that you want to be open about the condition of the piece. It doesn’t benefit you to take a picture that hides a major flaw of the piece because when someone comes over to see it they will notice the crack or long scratch and they either won’t buy it or they will ask for a major price reduction.
C) Say why you are selling the piece. This is the personable part of the ad. I always say why I’m selling something. Of course I could just lie but I try to be honest. For the coffee table and the red chair I said that I was changing up my living room but that I liked each piece. For the red chair I said it was the most comfortable chair ever and I meant it!
D) Even though it takes a little more work I always measure a piece and include the dimensions. If I’m looking to buy something and dimensions aren’t included I always ask for them so you might as well provide them at the start.
E) Price and contact info. I always include how I want to be contacted. Some people will include their phone number but I prefer to just use the anonymous email they provide. Then include your price and I always say ‘cash’ just to be clear even though I think it’s obvious. Sometimes I’ll put OBO (or best offer) but not always. Pricing is totally personal decision. If you want to just get rid of something you can price it really low. If you want to sell it quickly but also get a good price it doesn’t hurt to search for similar items on craigslist and see what they are going for. If I’m selling a piece that is still for sale at a store (like the table above) I generally say about half the original price. And if your item doesn’t sell in a week you can always lower the price.
3) Wait for a response.
If you are selling a decent piece of furniture with good pictures and thorough description at a good price it is pretty likely that you will sell it. Like I said, I sold three large pieces of furniture in 24 hours so I’m kind of awesome at this haha. When you get a response you can proceed from there. Some people will offer you a lower price and you can either negotiate or say the price is firm. If they want to come look at it schedule a time for them to come over. I have only had safe and pleasant craigslist experiences but if you are nervous make sure you aren’t home alone. I also don’t give out my address until they are on their way, I know it doesn’t make much of a difference but it makes me feel a little safer. For example, if they email me on a Friday and say they’d like to look at it on Sunday I’ll say, “Great, email me when you are ready to come over and I’ll send you my address.” I’ve never had anyone complain about that.
I’ve purchased a lot more from craigslist than I have sold (I’ve purchased about 18 things and sold 6) but I think it is a great way to sell your furniture too. It takes maybe 15 minutes to set up an ad, a little time emailing back and forth with the interested buyer, then a 15 minute pick up appointment, and you’re done. Much more efficient than a garage sale and I think you will make more money too. Though I am no expert, (but I probably could be if there was such a title as ‘Craigslist Expert’) I am happy to answer any questions you have.
Good luck!

I’m doing a series on Indianapolis thrift shops for twentysomethingindy.com so I’ve been doing a lot of “research” lately. Which basically means I’ve been buying a lot of stuff that I probably don’t need. Here’s the article I wrote and here is what I got this weekend:

I was at a place called Big Al’s in Broad Ripple and I saw this painting on a piece of wood. I thought it was cute and kept walking but I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I went back and got it for $6.

It says ‘The Kite’ in french. I like how it picks up the colors in the Soviet Union map, a happy coincidence.

The second thing is something that may or may not be a big mistake. I spotted it in a dirty corner of the Keystone Flea Market for $25.

Yep, I got a huge tufted ottoman for only $25!
It is in rough condition. This leg has no wheel…
And this leg has a broken wheel.
The fabric is a really ugly denim with stains and stuff but I see potential.
Tufted ottomans like this are super expensive like $300 or more so for only $25 I’m hoping that I can make it look like this:
Or this:
Or this (I know it’s a chaise but I like the fabric):
So I’m thinking deep blue velvet with the legs stained darker. Ugh, this could be a nightmare, I’ve never upholstered or reupholstered anything before!
I probably won’t get around to it this weekend, but hopefully soon. Wish me luck!