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.

Closet Makeover, Part 2

June 27, 2014 — 1 Comment

As I showed you earlier this week, my closet makeover was a beast. You’d think I’d be used to painting after all of the painting I do, but it sucks every time. Especially since none of my windows open (they are all either painted shut or the pulleys are broken), it’s like a brain cell murder party whenever I paint. But what can a girl do?

After letting the paint dry, it was on to the fun stuff!

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SO MUCH BETTER. Before doing this project I knew it would be better, but I never imagined it would be this much better. As for the changes I made, I added a few framed photos just for fun, moved one box that used to live on the floor to up on the shelves, and then I bought a new towel bar for my scarves. The previous bar I was using didn’t have the proper hardware so it was just barely hanging on with two nails, so I figured $16 for a solid bar was worth it. In fact, that is the only thing I had to buy for this project. I already had primer and white paint (from my dresser makeover). This is a pretty amazing makeover for only $16!!

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In full disclosure though, I did not put everything back in here. The tub on the ground that was full of decorations didn’t come back in. For now it is in the second bedroom closet, but eventually it will go to the basement. I try not to use my basement as a storage unit, because I don’t need to keep junk, but since decorating is one of my passions, one tub of decorations is pretty reasonable.

Though I’m extremely happy with the result, there are still a few things that need to be done in here. Like the two bedrooms and hallway, the closet floor really needs refinished. There is so much paint on the floors (not from me!), but I just don’t have it in me to do the floors right now. Also, you may have noticed the ugly brown cord hanging from the ceiling fixture with no lightbulb. Yeah, that’s a weird one. If I put a lightbulb in the socket is works, BUT there is no way to turn it off. There is no light switch and the pull string doesn’t work. Someday I’ll get an electrician to help me out, but for now, it is what it is. I haven’t had a light in there for two and half years, so it doesn’t really bother me.

My favorite thing about this makeover (besides the low cost obviously) is how tall the closet looks now! It feels a mile taller in there, it’s amazing.

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Random thought on the topic of closet organizing: You know how there is all this weird pressure to have matching hangers? It’s like the ultimate closet fantasy, matching hangers. It’s pretty dumb, but I’ve totally bought into it. In fact I’ve bought into about three times. First it was nicer blue plastic hangers, the kind that are better than the cheap plastic ones. But then I decided I didn’t like the blue ones so I moved on to wood hangers. Those were nice but they were so thick, they took up too much space. Lastly I got into the thin velvet hangers. Those are great, but stupid expensive. Soooo now I have smattering of all types of hangers. Ah well. They are just hangers ya know?

A few weeks ago I notice one of my friends pinned this on Pinterest:

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I was intrigued by the picture so I followed the link to Lilly & Thistle’s tutorial. Sometimes these types of images can be deceptive. Like they show an amazing transformation, but then you read the tutorial and it’s 37 steps long with 14 very expensive ingredients. Thankfully, this tutorial is really as simple as just oil and vinegar.

I don’t have a lot of unpainted wood furniture in my house, but my bed is an antique spindle/Jenny Lind bed. It’s over 100 years old and it’s starting to look like it.

Spindle Bed

 

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After putting 3/4 cup oil (I used olive because it’s what I had) and 1/4 cup vinegar into another cup and grabbing an old towel, I went to work. As you may remember from science class, oil and vinegar don’t mix so I recommend bringing a spoon with you to keep the mixture, well, mixed. About 10 minutes later, I was done!

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Fotor0622190313 It’s hard photograph, but the difference is really quite dramatic in person. The wood went from being dry and light colored, to dark and hydrated. I did this about a month ago and the wood as still retained its darker tone. It’s pretty amazing actually! The mixture didn’t heal every blemish, but there were definitely a lot of smaller scratches it did heal.

I highly recommend it!

Bonus, I finally got around to fixing one of the spindles that broke off. No more gap-toothed headboard!

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Closet Makeover, Part 1

June 23, 2014 — 1 Comment

I have a great closet. I’m sure a lot of people have great closets, but the percentage of people who have great closets and live in a home built in the 1920s is a pretty small number. Amazingly, despite the time period of my house, I have this randomly huge walk-in closet. It even has a huge window in it. But sadly, this is what is looks like most of the time:

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Um, I’m disgusting obviously. I mean really, it’s gross. The closet functions as a place for my dog to sleep, my dirty laundry to go, my clothes and shoes to live, gift wrapping storage, excess decorations storage, and that doesn’t even include all the random storage up on the shelves.

I knew it needed to be cleaned out but, I also knew a fresh coat of paint was in order, so I put off the cleaning until I had the time/energy to paint as well. Two years later… I finally got around to it.

Let’s be honest, it totally sucked. First there was the emptying of the closet, then cleaning of the closet (can’t paint dusty shelves), then painting (coats upon coats upon coats), then the restocking of the closet. It was a whole weekend-long ordeal, but the final product is pretty legit so in the end it was actually worth it.

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If you couldn’t see beyond all the crap, this is what I was working with once the closet was emptied. There were a few blemishes on the walls themselves, but the real weirdness is all the shelves. There is a piece of trim 2/3 of the way up on two walls and three wooden shelves, all of which are in different stages of stain, paint, and plain.

I did two coats of primer on all the wood shelves and then two coats of white paint on the shelves and walls. It was brutal, but you know, isn’t all painting? I also rubbed on some left over stain from my threshold project to the clothes bar.

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Such an improvement!

The rest of the makeover is pretty great too, I’m still all swoony about it. I’ll post it on Friday!

A few weeks ago I solved my massive cord problem by using a standing file box. It worked out perfectly, except that the file box was bright yellow. It didn’t quite blend in.

Untitled design (1) It only took me a few weeks but I finally carved out the 7 minutes it took me to paint the file box (note the sarcasm. I’m not quite that busy, just lazy).

Actually the real reason it took me so long is because I wasn’t looking forward to taking all the cords out, painting it, letting it dry, and then putting it all back together again. Then I realized, I don’t have to do all that. Instead I just stuck a piece of cardboard under it and only painted the front and side which show.

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I’m only ever in the mood to paint at night so no good pictures, but you get the idea. I used the paint from the walls because I figured it was dark enough to blend in with the wood work, plus I already had the paint. I did two quick coats and let it dry.

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I think it looks really nice. I’m sure no one will notice it, which is exactly what you want form something that is trying to hide something else.

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Also, this Bob photobomb is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

Harp Here, Harp There

May 14, 2014 — 1 Comment

Have I ever told you about my harp? You know, this one?

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The harp is very old, like 1800s old. My Grandfather owned it and he gave it to me right before he died. He was a hoarder collector and I like having this as a reminder of him. It needs a lot of work though. The number one comment I get about the harp is, “Hey, your harp is missing the strings!” Yes, I’m aware, thank you. I suppose I could have it strung up but there is no way this harp will ever be able to play music because of all the other damage too it. So I mostly think of it as a sculptural piece. Anyway, the point of all this is that I moved it.

I liked it next to the TV/chairs, but I’m in a very change-it-up mood lately. Stuffs gettin’ shifted around here. So last weekend at like 1:00 am on Saturday (when I do my best work, naturally) I picked this sucker up and moved it to my dining room.

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I moved it in here for a few reasons. 1) The corner it’s in now is total dead space. There is a huge, like 2’x3′ ft huge, air return there and nothing heavy can go on it. Harps, surprisingly, aren’t that heavy (well, at least this one isn’t). 2) I have a corners problem. Corners are everywhere (you’re welcome for that very obvious bit of wisdom), and I have no idea what to do with several of mine. The harp worked in the living room corner but I think it’s better here.

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As you can see from the photo above view, the harp doesn’t interfere with the walking path, but still makes the corner interesting. The good news is my dining room is now finally coming together. I actually like the direction it’s going in, yay! Here’s other views of it for a refresher.

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You may notice the wall color looks sometimes blue, green, or grey. It’s a very nice light grey, I’m just a terrible photographer.

As for the now empty living room corner? Ah, well, I’ll leave that for another post. But I’ve got plans!

I like to think of myself as an observant person but sometimes I just miss things, like super obvious things. Take for instance the trail right behind my house. Not only is my house on an alley I’d never noticed, but it also abuts a public trail. Like a nice paved, city trail. Not my most shining moment of observation.

I’ve been regularly walking this path now, and a while back I came across these fallen branches which I thought were cool looking. I can’t really say why, I just liked them. So I dragged them back to my house. To get the full visual you have to know that I got four branches that were each about six feet long and 3-4 feet wide. It was a long walk back.

Then they promptly sat on my porch for a few weeks. This past weekend I finally got on it and finished the project. Ready for what I did? Beware it’s pretty random.

First: I hosed them down and let them dry out.

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Second: I spray painted them white. It took three cans of spray paint and there are still tons of brown spots, but a girls only got so much patience, ya know? IMG_4780 IMG_4781 IMG_4784 IMG_4785 IMG_4786

Third: They dried IMG_4788 Four: I put them on top of my bookshelves (told you it was random).

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I’m kind of ‘eh’ about it. I think I like it, but also it’s weird and not super secure. Any person over 6 feet tall will definitely lose an eye and knock the whole thing over. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have a ton of super tall friends.

Goodbye lamps

April 11, 2014 — Leave a comment

Four big windows and seven lamps. That’s my living room. During the day the four windows help light the room, at night it takes all seven lamps to light this room. That’s a lot of lamps.

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A few months ago the floor lantern (bottom left, from IKEA about six years ago) finally broke (it had been through a lot). And when I started working on managing the cords near the TV, I decided it was time to let the metal floor lamp go (bottom middle, purchased on craigslist, but it’s IKEA also) because it was cluttering up that area, and it doesn’t give off a ton of light.

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So now I’m down to five lamps, which still sounds like a lot, but it’s actually a problem since this room is so big with no overhead light. I loved the light the lantern gave off, it was perfectly diffused, and the location was perfect. Easiest solution would be to just buy the exact same lantern to replace it (it’s only $29.99!), but even though I love the light it gives off, I’m not sure it’s the coolest looking lamp… so that’s it.

Those are all the thoughts I have about lamps today. Sometimes I take away things from my design and I don’t have a plan to replace them. And I’m okay with that. I often make super rash decisions, but every once and a while I take my time to make decisions. So lamps. That’s what I choose to take my time on. Yeah, I have no idea either.

Updated Postcard Art

April 9, 2014 — 1 Comment

It’s been a year and a half since I first did my postcard wall art. The good thing is, I still love it! I even loved it enough to re-do the whole thing after I painted my dining room.

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When I redid it after I repainted, I lowered all the postcards so they would line up with the doorframe. The real reason I did it was because I used the door frame as a level.

Then the other day I had a thought, I could add a whole row on top if I wanted to. So I did!

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So there it is. Not a big change, but I like it. Since I’ve decluttered the walls in this room, it makes sense for the postcard wall to be the main focus. Adding another layer of postcards just gave it an added boost of importance. Easy!

As you might remember, I have cord problems. They are everywhere, especially in my living room. I’ve been putting off dealing with them for the last oh… uh, two years. But I finally got around to dealing with some of them this weekend. And of course, it only took me 15 minutes and $1 to deal with them. Note to self: Do more projects you’ve been putting off.

The Before:

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This is the situation I’ve been dealing with around my TV. I have three lamps, a TV, DVD player, and a digital antenna plugged into two different power strips which are all jammed behind this dresser. After writing about my cord issues, so many people inspired me with ideas. This one in particular stuck with me:

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My friend Katie shared it with me. I liked it a lot, but since I’m trying to avoid spending money right now I thought I’d have to wait until I had money to buy a fancy box. But then I had a brilliant idea. A few years ago I bought four standing file boxes from the dollar spot at Target. I thought they were cute and at the time I needed them to organize papers.

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I currently am only using one of them and the other three were stuck in the back of my closet. So my brilliant idea was to use them for cord management.

Here’s what I did:

1) Unfolded box

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2) Inserted the power strip, and then began to fold the box back together and then snipped the box where the cord interfered with the folding.

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That’s it. It was super easy.

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I didn’t take a picture of the other side, but just imagine a a power strip sitting on the long side of a file box. Okay, that may be hard to imagine…

Next I started plugging everything in. I actually got rid of one of the lamps and one of the power strips so I was left with the one power strip and five cords.

Once everything was plugged in, I started to wrap the cords up. I didn’t have twist ties so I used black pony tail holders to hold them together.

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Once all the cords were wrapped up, I stuffed them in the open part of the file box. At this point I realized I had no place to put the antenna box. It usually just lays around on the floor because it actually doesn’t really work. I only get three channels and those only come in sporadically so I haven’t watched live TV in two years. But it needed to go somewhere and when I noticed  it had a picture hook on the back of it, I decided I would just hang it up to get it off of the floor.

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It was getting there. A few more cords wrapped and shoved in the box and voila!

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Before and After:

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Okay so the yellow file box doesn’t exactly blend in, but it is one step closer to a solution. My plan is to paint it, probably using the living room wall color, but I wanted to make sure it actually worked before I went to the trouble of painting it. I also still need to get a cord cover to cover the cords coming from beneath the TV. But starting the project has to count for something, right??