Sunday, January 29, 2017

Craft Along with GIY: Pets

The theme for the first Craft Along with GIY is Pets. For my project, I turned a pair of secondhand end tables into dog beds.

Both my small dogs love a cozy spot to snuggle into. The Chihuahua mix loves cozy little nooks so much, I named her Nook. :) When I saw how much she adores the enclosed bed I made from a repurposed kitchen cabinet (now known as Nook's nook), I wanted to make something similar to put in the living room. I also needed end tables in that room, so the clear solution was to find a couple of the cabinet-style end tables and make them dual purpose.

It's far less clear what to call the end result. It's not just a bed; it's enclosed. By shape, it's more like a dog crate or dog house, but a crate usually has a door that closes and a house is generally outside. From Nook's point of view, the whatever-it's-called has two important characteristics: it's soft and it's enclosed. Maybe I should call it a cozy box.

Anyway... Moving on to the project details!

I found the perfect cabinet-style end tables at a thrift store.

I began with a coat of primer. I used Zinsser latex primer which I'd had tinted grey. Straight from the can, this primer is quite thick and dries SUPER fast. I added a heavy dose of Floetrol, which makes the primer dry more slowly, providing more work time, and greatly reduces brush marks.

Next, a coat of paint. I used Behr latex paint in "Black" with Floetrol mixed in.

At this point, I could have just taken off the doors and considered the project complete. But I wanted the tables to have an opening on a long side, so I'd need to cut doorways. I thought picture frames would provide ready-made decorative trim. I found a pair of frames for $4 at a thrift store.

Using my chop saw, I cut the bottom off each frame.

I placed the three-sided frame on the side of the table and traced lines along the inside of the frame. These lines would guide me as I cut out the doorway.

These are the tools I used to make the doorways: a jigsaw, a drill with a spade bit, and an oscillating tool with a saw blade.

Before cutting, I placed masking tape along the lines. The tape helps prevent splintering or damage from the jigsaw.

Using the spade bit, I drilled a hole at each inside corner of the soon-to-be doorway. Then I put the jigsaw blade down into the holes and sawed along the masking tape to cut out the doorway.

I used the saw blade on the oscillating tool to finish each cut at the bottom and clean up around the corners.

With the doorway cut, the ugly brown inside of the table could now be seen. Rather than struggle with painting or papering inside the confines of the table, I decided to make a panel that I could simply slide into place. I measured the inside back wall of the table and then marked out those measurements onto a piece of foamboard.

I cut the foamboard to size.

I covered one side of the foamboard with adhesive shelf paper, folding the paper around to the back.

Then I simply opened the table door and slid in the panel. It was a snug fit and stayed in place by itself.

Next, I attached the frame around the doorway using construction adhesive. Then I gave everything a final coat of black paint.

To make a cushion, I cut a piece of foam to fit inside the table. Then I made a cover by cutting and stitching a standard pillowcase down to size.

In went the cushion and a piece of fleece. And both dogs went in immediately. :D

To share your Craft Along with GIY project, leave a comment with a link to your project.
(More details on how to participate here.)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Craft Along with GIY: How to Participate

Hello, everyone! I am so looking forward to the first Craft Along with GIY post! :) The theme for January is Pets.

Here are the details on how to participate:
1.  Add the Craft Along with GIY icon to your blog post. Link the icon to this page:

2.  On my completed project post, leave a comment with a link to your project. If you're not a blogger, you can link to your webpage, Instagram, or anywhere else readers can see it. (Please link directly to the project, not to your home page.)

And here is the timeline:
Tomorrow, January 29, I will post my completed project. You can leave your comments and links on that post.

Late on January 31, I will compile the links on the new Craft Along with GIY page.

Now I'd better get busy finishing up my project. It's almost done!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Dressing Room on a Budget

The room I'm currently focusing on is my workroom (where I hung the patchwork curtains). I just have one project left to complete the room, and then it's on to the next - my walk-in closet. In a case of fortuitous timing, Arhaus contacted me to see if I wanted to write a post about what I'd have in my dream dressing room.

Though I certainly like to dream big on occasion, I can't help looking at things from a practical perspective. And with GIY’s emphasis on thrifty décor and DIY projects, it makes sense to post about creating a nice dressing room on a reasonable budget.

So what does one need for a nice dressing room/area? I think the basic requirements are storage, lighting, and a mirror.

If you include hairstyling as part of dressing, you may also need an electrical outlet for hair dryer and/or styling tools. Many people dry and style their hair in the bathroom; however, that’s not a good option for me because my bathroom is tiny, has no counter space, and has only one electrical outlet in a horribly inconvenient place. Trying to do my hair there would be a challenge. I set up a hair (and makeup) area in the spare bedroom instead.

Thus, I actually have two dressing rooms/areas: one for clothes and one for hair and makeup. Both areas have been/are being set up on a low budget.

For hair and makeup, a chest of drawers functions as both work surface and storage. I chose a chest of drawers because I’m tall, and the height is more convenient than a dresser or table. The chest was a secondhand find that I painted.

I use a large glass cutting board to protect the top of the chest. It withstands the heat from my curling and straightening irons.

My hair accessories fit nicely into the drawers, organized into some inexpensive bins/drawer dividers I found at Jo-Ann and Big Lots.

The mirror was purchased for 90% off because it was damaged - the bottom fleur-de-lis was slightly bent. But it's made of metal, so all I had to do was bend it back. So I got a perfectly good, new $60 mirror for $6. :) I planned to paint it black (of course), but I found that I liked the bronze color when it was paired with the wallpaper and faux tin ceiling in the room.

Light is provided by two tall lamps on either side of the chest of drawers. Though they function well, they are rather plain. I want to replace them with nicer, more decorative lamps. I've picked out a few candidates (shown below). I like the one on the left, but I'm not sure if the 3-light style would work well. I'll probably go with the one in the middle; it's a dark bronze finish that matches the mirror.

For clothes, I am fortunate to have a walk-in closet that is large enough to function as a dressing room. (Mirror is covered to avoid flash reflection.) It's a bit incongruous in my small house but was certainly a selling point for me!

It has two long bars which provide plenty of space for hanging clothes. Good thing, too, because my sewing habit hobby has generated many space-hogging fluffy skirts. ;)

I added an IKEA chest of drawers for tights, leggings, and the like. It's one of the few items I purchased at retail, but of course, IKEA is very reasonably priced. It provides three enormous drawers while still being short enough to sit under the hanging clothes. It’s plain white; I think I will add some decals as I did with my bathroom vanity.

For shoes and boots, I have stacking shelves. I got the brown one (which coincidentally matches the flooring) as a leftover after an office move. I got the white ones free as well – they were being placed on the curb by a neighbor as I happened to walk by. "Hi, neighbor! Do you mind if I take your trash home with me?" :D (They're pristine and really should have been donated, not thrown out... but as I'm a frequent thrift shopper, I might have ended up with them either way.)

For storing and organizing smaller items such as fabric refresher and lint roller, I use baskets from the dollar store. I also have an awesome coffin-shaped box that a coworker gave me. His children had received it at Halloween; after they ate the cookies/goodies, he brought me the box. :D

The standing mirror is from a thrift shop. It fits perfectly at the end of the closet, but it needs some GIYing. I’ll at least paint the frame black.

Light is provided by the least glamorous light fixture one could have – a socket with a bare bulb. The plastic shade which clips directly on the bulb reduces the glare but does little to improve the aesthetic.

I will definitely be replacing the light fixture. I’d love a black crystal chandelier to match the one in my bedroom, but it would hang down too low. I’ll need to get a semi-flushmount fixture instead. I haven't seen many at thrift stores, so I'll likely have to wade through the enormous variety of retail options (some shown below). I like the drum shade on the top left, but the fabric is beige, which would make the light too warm for my taste. The fixture on the top right is what I have in my dining room.

The finish up the décor in the closet, I want to replace the plain black rug with a patterned rug. A few years ago, I struggled to find an oriental type rug that wasn't beige. But gray is now in style, and I was happy to find several options in black and gray. :D

I appreciate Arhaus providing the inspiration to write about this topic. It gave me a good reason to try some project planning “out loud” instead of planning everything in my head and then later posting the final result.

Are you interested in mood board/idea type posts where I write about what I'm considering and show what I might do (and welcome feedback, as always)? Or do you prefer to simply see the completed project?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Craft Along with GIY: Checking In

Hello, everyone! Just checking in with an update/reminder on the January craft-along. I'm making dog beds out of secondhand end tables. I have them primed and painted black.

I had planned to finish them this weekend, but instead I have spent the last 36 hours enduring the worst headache in recent memory.  I desperately hope to be better by tomorrow because I have a lot happening at work this week.

Luckily, we're only halfway through January, so I still have plenty of time to finish. I will post the completed project on the 31st.

How's it going with you?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Random Little Story

A funny thing happened to me today...

At work, I opened the company's online registration form to copy the link for a customer. I noticed that the form now contained a random word captcha, and it said CAUCASIAN.

Out of curiosity, I refreshed the page and got a new word: UNDERVALUED.

Another refresh and I got NONCONFORMIST'S.

I was getting words that seemed to be selected just for me. Some colleagues joked that I was being targeted and asked if I had angered the IT guys.

My reply was, "If the next one says BATS, I'm marching downstairs." (to the IT department).

I refreshed and got BLATZ.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Painting Injury

Yesterday I began working on my Craft Along with GIY project. I am making dog beds out of end tables. The first step was to apply a coat of primer.

Just as I was finishing the second table, sharp pain shot through my lower back. I could barely stand up.

I had hurt my back painting.

Wow. I am in such poor shape, I hurt my back sitting on the floor painting.

I once read an article by a man who stated that a person's life expectancy is directly correlated to how easily he/she can rise up from sitting on the floor.

If that's true, I think I have about two weeks to live.

Seriously... I am horribly unfit. This incident motivates me even more to improve my diet and exercise. I have decided on a plan of action to help me overcome the obstacles (aka excuses).

My hurdles/excuses for exercise are I dislike gyms and I hate being outside in the sun. To overcome those, I will work out at home. As a starting point, I have purchased an exercise bike.

My hurdle for diet is I hate to cook. For me, cooking is far more trouble than it's worth, and the result is terrible no matter how hard I try. So I end up eating frozen pizza and fast food. In an effort to improve my diet, I'm going to try a meal delivery service.

Hopefully, I can discipline myself to stick to the plan. I never again want to be in this absurd situation of having to nurse a painting injury.

Friday, January 6, 2017

New Glasses

I recently ordered new glasses from Zenni Optical. It might seem odd to buy glasses without trying them on, but the Zenni site allows you to upload a photo of yourself and virtually try on glasses that way.

It also has a selection of faces available, and conveniently, one of them resembles me - dark hair with bangs - enough that I didn't upload my photo. I already had a good idea of what styles work for me anyway, as I've been wearing glasses for many years.

My main challenge is finding frames that aren't too wide for my narrow face. I determined the width of my existing glasses and used that to choose frames.

One frame is a black metal half-rim with decorative temples.
Zenni frame 690821
I'd never had half-rim glasses before, but I think I like them.

They're pretty simple from the front, but have a nice decorative design on the sides.

The other frame is a black metal full-rim with an interesting shape.
Zenni frame 595021
In general, I like them, though I wish the lenses were just a bit taller.

Zenni's selection of styles is extensive, and even better, easy to search based on color and size. However, I was initially pretty skeptical because their prices are so low. Their frames are generally less than $30, which includes the lenses. Frames at retail optical shops are easily $200+.

But after receiving my glasses, I have nothing but the highest praise. My order arrived quickly, and the lenses are precisely correct.

This is not a sponsored post. I'm just sharing my experience. :)