Apr 8, 2014

Recovering a Stool in Less Than Ten Minutes

I'm still chipping away at the basement TV room.  After getting the walls and ceiling painted, I'm focusing on layering in the details. We're going for a cottage feel -  an easy, relaxed, put-your-feet-up kind of vibe. Big, slouchy couch, cushy pillows, and soft neutral colours.

In a burst of energy late one night, I decided to recover the coffee table/foot stool to make it a bit brighter and more fun. I bought the stool a few years ago from HomeSense (the Canadian version of HomeGoods), and it came with a boring brown fabric (for some reason I was into brown at the time).

I had planned to accessorize this room in grey, and first recovered the stool in the same grey flannel as the bedroom bench and the storage bench.  And that was fine for a while, but the colour was kind of a drag on a room that was otherwise bright and cheerful.  I purchased some fabric in an aqua print to make pillows for the couch and still had a lot left over. The type of recovering I'm going to show you doesn't require any sewing whatsoever - all you need is a staplegun.

The legs and frame attach to the top with four long bolts underneath. They just needed to be removed and the two pieces came apart. I cut a piece of the new fabric in a square that was large enough to cover the top, sides, and then had about two extra inches all around so that I could fold the edge over and staple it. Having a clean edge looks nicer, and keeps the fabric from fraying later.

Lay out your fabric face down on the floor, place the piece you're recovering upside down on top of it, and bring your first side up and over the bottom of the base. You'll put one staple in the center of each side first to keep your fabric centered and in place. Fold the edge of the fabric over about half an inch or so and staple it securely to the base. Do the same on the opposite side, making sure that you pull the fabric taut and keep it smooth. Then do the other two sides.

Once your four sides are done, you can start working towards the corners. Repeat what you did before, folding over the edge and keeping the fabric taut and smooth. Stop once you're a few inches from the corner.

(I only have a picture of the grey fabric edges.)

There are dozens of different ways you can finish the corners. The easiest is a simple angled fold like you'd do wrapping a present, but I like to do a kind of double fold that meets in the corner. I don't know if I'll be able to describe this accurately, but here goes.

Take a corner of the material and pull it straight up, stapling it down. Then take each of the "flaps" created and tuck the excess material under with a clean fold so that you have a straight line running parallel to the corner. Try and get each edge to be the same length and the same distance from the corner, pull them taut and staple them down.

Repeat on each of the other three corners. And that's it. Flip your padded base back over and admire. The frame is then bolted back on to the base and the stool is ready to go.

Having a padded coffee table is great. It's large enough and sturdy enough to put plates on, but it's also nice to have something cushioned to put your feet up on when watching tv.

I love recovering padded furniture. It only takes a few minutes (if you're doing the no-sew version) and it's like you have a whole new piece of furniture when you're finished.

The room is starting to come together now. We have the throw pillows in coral and blue (with a couple recovered in off-white dropcloth fabric as well), our "Turtle Beach" sign made of pallet boards, and this awesome sea turtle chalk drawing that my aunt gave me for my birthday. The background is navy blue (my favourite colour). Apparently she had to practically wrestle it away from another lady in the store.

On the sofa table - with the awesome built-in electrical outlets - we have two woven lamps that give off a soft glow at night. Over on the bar we have a canoe shelf that my sister gave me for my birthday, and I gave the laundry basket a stripe of blue to match the walls. The laundry chute lets out above the bar, so we keep a basket there to catch the clothes.

The bar still needs shelves hung on the wall. Right now all of the glassware is underneath in boxes. The other side of the room is still a work in progress as well, with dog beds and television cables everywhere. But I like the direction we're headed.

Mar 20, 2014

Bathroom Wall Graffiti

I swear the main bathroom is going to be the room that breaks me. If you remember, I painted it a taupe colour, decided it was too dark, and re-painted it a light blue. I was never that enamoured with the colour - I think I should have gone a shade darker. So now every day I look at it and wish it was different. But the thought of painting it a third time...just no.

Instead, I've decided that rather than re-painting I'm going to decorate around the wall colour. The vanity top is a speckled pattern of mostly navy blue with some green veining. It limits my options a bit, but I think I've found something I like.

I started with a turquoise shower curtain, which is actually a twin-sized flat sheet hemmed to the correct length. Don't worry, there's a shower curtain liner behind it.

I then found some deeper teal towels. Such a rich shade. All of our other towels are white or pale yellow or tan; I think I'd like to start replacing them with more vibrant jewel tones.

The final touch was some "art" to break up the expanse of pale blue above the towel rod. I have several 16"x20" blank canvases that I picked up from the dollar store a long time ago. I pulled one out along with all of my blue, green, and yellow craft paints.

Thank goodness I had a dozen or so little dessert cups from when I made cherry cheesecake and Oreo dirt cake (I'll warn you, if you go look at those pictures you might want to go make some. Like right now. It's okay, I'll wait.) The cups were perfect for mixing paint so that I could have even more colours to work with.

I had so many blues to choose from but not many greens, so the yellow paint came in handy to make my greens. It was surprising what colours I ended up with - that greyish colour is a mix of dark leaf green and yellow. Crazy, right? The turquoise on the far left is my favourite, and an almost perfect match for the towels, so I used it the most.

I just brushed the paint on willy-nilly using the widest artist brushes I could get my hands on.

Once I was happy with the outcome, I painted the edges of the canvas with the turquoise. I'm going to have Tom build a frame for it eventually, but for now I don't want the white edges showing. I also took some silver paint and a tiny brush and just lightly lined the edges of some of the pale blue sections. You can't even notice it unless the light hits it just right.

So, not fine art, but a nice little punch of colour in an otherwise bland room.  What's really funny is that when I went back through my pictures to find one of the vanity, I was reminded that the room was originally turquoise. Maybe I could have saved myself some trouble!

Mar 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Bread Recipe

This month is just flying by and I'm not getting very many projects done. Is it daylight savings kicking my butt, or just the plain old winter blues? Maybe the truth is that Tom and I are hooked on The Following and have been watching it all the time instead of working on the house.

In honour of St. Patrick's Day I'm re-posting my Irish soda bread recipe for anyone who's looking for a quick bread to go with dinner. It takes less than an hour from start to finish and is so hearty.


Irish Soda Bread

Here's what you'll need to make two loaves.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 tsps baking soda
1.5 tsps salt
2 cups buttermilk (or you can use regular milk and add 2 tbsp. of lemon juice to it)
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup dried fruit

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together your flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add in your fruit and nuts. We were really low on supplies so all I had were cashews and canned pineapple. I would have preferred dried cranberries, but you work with what you have. Add your buttermilk. If you are using milk & lemon juice, let it sit for 10 minutes before adding it to the mixture.

Stir your mixture for a minute or two but don't over mix it. Dust some flour onto the counter or a cutting board and plop your dough down. Form it into a ball and divide it into two parts. Shape each half into a loaf and place it on a baking sheet (dusted with flour if you want). This bread doesn't rise very much so you'll have to decide how tall you want it to be. I think I'll make smaller, higher loaves next time. Cut a cross-hatch or stripes into the top of each loaf to allow for expansion and to ensure the bread bakes evenly.

Irish Soda Bread

I had some leftover cashews so I sprinkled them on the top. You could also brush the loaves with melted butter if you wanted to. Put the loaves into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Insert a toothpick or knife into the centre of each loaf. If it comes out clean your bread is finished baking. Adjust baking time as needed.

Once removed from the oven you have two choices. If you want a crusty loaf, let them cool as they are. If you like your bread softer, wrap each loaf in a damp (not wet) tea towel and leave to cool. I personally like a harder crust but Tom doesn't, so I wrapped them.

Irish Soda Bread

Look at that. Perfect golden brown doneness.

Irish Soda Bread

At this point you'll want to slice into this beauty and slather it with butter and jam. Or peanut butter. Or cream cheese. Or even guacamole. The options are endless.

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

This bread was just a little too easy. Dangerously so. I could see myself baking (and eating) a loaf every day. I'm going to have to start giving it away I think.


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