the ottoman

So, remember the awesome ottoman we bought last winter/early spring? I knew as soon as we got it that the upholstery wasn’t robust enough for our house. It was a cotton/linen blend which would totally be fine in a house that doesn’t have a crazed chocolate milk wielding toddler.

Here’s the ottoman before we destroyed it. Lucy looks so tiny!

It got gross. And the thin upholstery meant that the tufting started to lose it’s shape after a while.

No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get it clean.

I decided that I wanted to reupholster it, and that I wanted to try doing it myself (oh, ambition!) My local fabric store had Sunbrella on sale so I thought I’d give it a shot. Because Sunbrella is meant for outdoor use it wipes clean easily and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. I was a little worried that it would feel stiff or plasticky but I was pleasantly surprised by how soft  it was. I started by tearing off the old upholstery, which is where I ran into my first surprise.

I quickly realized that the buttons were only surface tufted – meaning they were only tufted through the top layer of foam.

That’s kind of a flimsy way to do it and means that over time the tufting can shift and move. I knew I had to make the tufts go all the way through the plywood so once I had all the foam exposed, I just used a drill to make holes through the exiting openings in the foam.

This is also the point at which I realized I could no longer just wing it so I used this tutorial about tufting from Little Green Notebook (which if you aren’t already reading, you should be.) Since all my foam was in good shape I just followed the end part of Jenny’s tutorial about actually making the tufts. First I had to make 23 self covered buttons (oy! my thumbs!)

Just to give you an idea of how grimy the fabric was, here’s a pic of it after I ripped it off. Ewww. Sorry.

I chose a color of sunbrella that was really close to the existing upholstery. I went with just a shade or two darker so that it wouldn’t exactly match our newly slipcovered sofa. I used almost exactly two yards of fabric, but I bought three so I have some left over for a throw pillow. The total cost of reupholstering was less than $50 including fabric. It would have been at least $200 to have it done professionally.

I won’t lie you guys; making the tufts was hard! The foam is really deep so it was difficult to thread the needle through the holes in the plywood. I would definitely suggest using a large drill bit to make your holes. It will save a lot of time digging through the foam. I also used a darning needle – again, use the largest/longest you can find that actually is sharp enough to pierce your fabric.   Once your button is threaded and you’ve dug back through the foam, you just staple it to the back of the plywood (check out Jenny’s tutorial for more details) Here’s how things were looking this morning –

My hands were soooo sore from tugging on the upholstery thread to get the tufts tight and deep, but I persevered and finished!

Excellent example of why we need kid-proof upholstery.

It’s not perfect, but considering it’s my first attempt at re-upholstery, I’m pretty proud! I love that the tufts are deeper than they were originally. Here’s a side by side comparison.

Considering how beat up it was, I’m super happy with how it turned out. It’s like I have my original ottoman back, but a little more durable and clean. Lucy actually spilled chocolate milk on the ottoman while I was upholstering it, and it wiped right off. I’m super happy with the Sunbrella fabric and would totally recommend it if you have need for new interior upholstery. It is so nice in a house with pets and a toddler. I’m really glad we are heading into the holiday season with fresh upholstery in our living room. We do a ton of entertaining during this time of year and it’s nice to not be ashamed of our dirty furniture. I don’t think I’ll be trying anymore tufted projects anytime soon, but it’s nice to know how to do it in case I ever want to make headboard or update a chair. I need to give my swollen hands a break!

Pk is coming home tomorrow and our Thanksgiving week will begin. Hopefully I’ll actually finish painting the porch and have a chance to iron our new sofa slipcover so I can show it off. Hope you all are well! Are you so excited about Thanksgiving? I am, especially because I don’t have to cook!


thrifty thursday

My thrift store finds from this week… (AKA things I’ve been doing to avoid painting)

This stunning crystal plug in sconce – $8. I hung it in the living room near the bar. It needs a new shade and bottom finial, but it’s absolutely gorgeous. It glams this place up a bit.


Speaking of glamorous, I found these amazing Loeffler Randall Flats for, get this- $5!!! (originally $295 – they clearly didn’t know what they were practically giving away!)


My favorite of the bunch – a treasure trove of books for Lucy, just $8.75

Not a bad haul! It’s much more fun to poke around thrift stores than work on the porch. Here’s a sneak peak of another project I started to avoid painting.


Making a zillion self covered buttons is much more fun if you do it while watching a recap of an interesting blog talk chat. Here’s a link to Joy (from Oh Joy!) Cho’s chat with Naomi from rockstar diaries about the business of blogging. Interesting to hear to different perspectives on blogging and now I want to check out Joy’s book, Blog, Inc.

Here’s what Lucy has been doing to keep busy.

She LOVES watching videos of herself, especially dancing. If I need a minute, all I have to do is turn the Ipad camera on so she can use it like a mirror. We also started a tradition of listening to top 40 while we do the dishes, which is honestly the highlight of my night. We record her sometimes so she can watch it later and it never fails to make her smile ( even when she watches them a million times!) It was a little disarming to hear her sing along to Taylor Swift though…

Hope you are having a splendid week.


DIY play tent (with lights)

It’s been extra dreary weather this past week, and with Pk gone, Lucy and I didn’t get out much. I thought it would be fun to make her a little retreat in her room for the dark fall afternoons.

It’s been a big hit.

It was fun to make, but this is the second version. The first one was so cattywampus  that I redid it. Here’s how


1 6 foot length of 1/2 PEX tubing (you could also use a hula hoop if you have one lying around)

1 1/2 inch PEX coupling

1 6 foot rope light kit

White electrical tape

An old pair of sheer curtains ( I had leftover sheer panels from the living room that we decided not to use after we repainted)

A length of ribbon or string (at least two feet so you can trim off excess)

A hook to attach it to the ceiling

Instructions – Tape the rope light along the length of flexible PEX with the white electrical tape (it doesn’t have to be white, but this way it doesn’t show through the sheer fabric)

Cut about 14″ off the bottom of you curtains and sew it back on to the top making sure to leave the rod pocket open. Hem the (new)bottom. My curtains had an existing pocket at the bottom too, but you may have to open the ends of yours if the hem was sewn shut. Run your ribbon or string through what is now the top. Run the taped together light/pex through the what is now the middle rod pocket and close the PEX into a loop with the coupling. Tie your ribbon tight to gather it at the top and hang it from a sturdy cieling hook. Voila! A lit play tent. I added a cozy faux fur throw and a pillow for comfort. 

I managed the wire that was running down the wall with some stick on velcro. I also added safety pins to keep the panels together around the hoop.

We also had a conveniently located outlet that I added a safety cover to.

I chose not to sew the panels together to give it flexibility, in case we hang it somewhere else or want to have a front and back exit.

A view from inside looking up and a glimpse of my atrocious sewing.

Lucy’s ceiling is angled so I just tucked the leftover fabric under the cushions on the floor. If you are hanging this in a room with tall ceilings I would suggest using longer curtains, or maybe sewing an extra panel on the bottom to give it the height you need. The great thing about this projects is how customizable it is. If you are handy with sewing (I’m not!) you could add all sorts of embellishments to it. The materials cost less than $20, not including the curtain panels. Much cheaper than this one from the Land of Nod.

Just a safety note, we don’t leave it on all the time and always supervise Lucy while she’s playing in it. I would recommend hanging it from a stud if you can; I wasn’t able to find one so I used a super sturdy drywall anchor to hang my hook. If she did pull it down, it’s quite lightweight and wouldn’t hurt her. I think I’ll add a few more cushions so it’s extra cozy for both of us.

Have a fantastic weekend!









1. A before and after – my shaggy haired girl got her hairs cut. She looks so chic! Sometimes I feel like she’s about to start reciting Le Petit Prince in perfect french at any moment. She reminds me of this girl.

2. Today was the first day that we really needed a coat outside. I picked up Lucy’s jacket at the thrift store for$5 bucks!

3. There is something special about sunny fall days and leaves scattered on the ground that makes me so happy. I’m also excited that Lucy gets to wear her new boots. I’m considering getting a pair for me too.

Pk has been gone all week but should be home tonight  after a week away and I’m so anxious to see him (Lucy too!)

Have a fantastic weekend.


diy black pipe console table

Pk and I recently undertook a fun diy project. We made a console table out of black pipe and wood salvaged from a barn that belonged to his family in Michigan. I’m really happy with how it turned out!

One of the great perks of building your own furniture is that you can customize it to fit your needs. There are so many sizes and fittings of black pipe, you can basically create any shape you want. We wanted a pretty shallow depth table for this space because it butts up against a bookcase and seating area. The barnwood we had was 62 inches long and about 14 inches wide and we bought pipe to fit it, but if you’re building your own, you may want to get different sizes based on the size wood you choose. Black pipe can be cut and threaded to any length you choose. We chose 3/4 diameter pipe because we liked how substantial it looks.

Here’s our material list –

4 – 3/4 diameter 21″ nipples for the legs (we had 24″ lengths cut down and threaded)

6 – 3/4 T’s

1 – 3/4 48 nipple” for the cross bar support

4- 3/4 5″ nipple for the legs above the joints

4- 3/4 3″ nipples for the horizontal support

8- 3/4 floor flanges to act as feet, and to connect the base to the table.

1 can of Rustoleum High Performance enamel in flat black.

Wood screws (we used inch and a half long screws because our wood top is so thick.)

Our material cost was about $125 (black pipe isn’t cheap!) but that’s still a whole lot less than some of the other console table options I liked and we were able to customize the length. I also wanted to be able to fit our ottomans underneath so we could have a bit of extra seating when we need it.

Our process was pretty straight forward. Once we decided on 3/4 diameter pipe, we just played with the fittings at Home Depot until we got the look and stability we needed to support our heavy wooden slab.

We initially thought we wanted a shelf too, but once we spied this huge slab in our pile of salvaged wood, we knew that keeping it simple was a better idea. It’s got so much character; saw marks, wormholes, etc. We didn’t do anything to it except give a wipe down and a quick coat of teak oil to even out the color and bring out a little   bit of depth.

I initially thought we would cut down the board to be closer to 52 inches, but once we had everything put together, we decided to leave the edges as is.  Once the base was assembled, I took it out to the backyard and seriously cleaned it. Black pipe always has a ton of cutting oil residue so before I painted it I gave it a really thorough cleaning with a degreaser. I used Rustoleum High Performance Enamel spray paint in flat black. I only had to do one coat to even out the color over the whole base.Once it was dry we simply screwed it on out board upside down and voila! Gorgeous, rustic/industrial table. Because the pipe is threaded we were able to level the table to accommodate our seriously sloping floors. The slab itself is a little warped, which presented a challenge in terms of leveling, but if you’re buying dimensional lumber that won’t be a problem for you.

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you might remember this picture of the same spot in our living room from holiday time. We had a larger farmhouse table.


and now


I think the round mirror will go back up, and I’m thinking about slipcovering the ottomans. I love the scale of the table and how the black pipe picks up the black of the bookcases. I also love that the wood is from one of Pk’s Grandma’s barns in Michigan. The pipe furniture look isn’t for everyone, I know, but right now its working with our casual/luxe living room style. I just made that up. Our style could probably be more accurately called doing the best you can while living in a tiny house with a toddler, dog, cat, and trying to decorate on the cheap. But i digress…


The slab has to be at least 100 to 150 years old, and who knows how old the tree was when it was cut down and milled into this piece of wood. I love having a piece of furniture that’s connected to Pk’s roots and I especially love that we were able to come up with an option that used a material we already had on hand. Have you guys ever built anything out of pipe?

I finally feel like our living room is starting to come together. After so many months of renovations (enclosing the porch, remodeling the kitchen, and putting trim in the living room/sunroom) it’s so nice to finally start decorating and creating a space that works for our family.


update – 5/22/2014

This project was selected for the Bob Vila Thumbs Up Competition!


New Curtains






There wasn’t anything wrong with the other curtains, other than being a little boring, but when someone gives you brand new fully lined flocked curtains from Anthropologie, you find a place to put them! My friend Jenny tried these in her dining room, but they weren’t quite right so she passed them on to me. In exchange I gave her a very pretty mahogany veneered dresser that we weren’t using anymore. She got new media storage, and I got these gorgeous curtains. It was a good swap! I love how the chartreuse looks against the greige of the kitchen/dining area and I think they dress the space up a little. It’s also nice to have something a little more rich and textured as we move into fall.

Any seasonal decor changes going on in your house?



Things have been a bit busy around here. My best childhood friend is coming for a visit and nothing inspires a flurry of house projects like expecting a houseguest! Most of them are boring, like cleaning baseboards and dusting under furniture, but I’ve also tackled a few bigger things. Like painting the bathroom, and the floor of the hallway that leads to it.

Trying to paint the only full bath in your house immediately creates chaos. I’ve had to coordinate the timing of coats of paint with Pk’s schedule so he can actually shower in the morning without stepping through paint. I also failed to do a primer coat because I thought I could skip it because we’re using heavy duty porch paint. Fail! I had to add an extra coat of primer on top of the first two coats because the tinted wood fill that the previous installer had used started to leak through. Hopefully today’s coat is the last and I can actually put the room back together.

Of course I made time for a little thrifting. I picked up these pretty brass bowls for $6 and the sweet white and blue planters for a song. The potted succulents are from Home Depot and were only  a few bucks each. It’s nice to have something pretty to look at while washing paintbrushes  and maybe I won’t kill them?). We managed to squeeze in a trip to Ikea last night and picked up a couple Expedit bookcases for the playroom/office. Hopefully I’ll have some pictures of the bathroom and office later this week. We’ve living in a construction zone for so long that it’s  taking me a while to process through all the junk that has accumulated everywhere. At some point we gave up on filing all together and now there is a giant pile of paperwork waiting to find a home. I think I need an extra cup of coffee today…

Is anybody else out there struggling to tie up loose ends?

Hope you all are well,


I have hoarding tendencies.

I wouldn’t say I’m actually a hoarder, but my urge to collect inexpensive furniture and accessories (not to mention strollers and baby gear) is kind of extreme. I’m working really hard at purging stuff from our house that we don’t use, need or love and then donating said stuff to charity. The problem is when I drop stuff off to donate I’m so tempted to look for more! Lately our local thrift store has been killin’ it. Partly because it’s one of few second hand stores that accepts large furniture, and partly because it gets all the overstock from our local Target. Here’s a sample of a few things that tempted me.


Floral upholstered (brand new!) swoop arm chair from Target. $60 bones. That upholstery is way too bright for our house, but I’m sure it will make someone happy.



Sassy solid brass andirons. Sadly, I have no fireplace, but I gave these babies a good, hard look. $10 bucks.



Hello, curves! Gold mirror – $13 buckaroos



Cane barrel chair – definitely needed paint and new upholstery but it was only $6 dollars! Less than two lattes.




Last, but not least, a pair of midcentury chairs (maybe teak?) A little tung oil and some new upholstery would make these ah-mazing. $30 for the pair.

In a perfect world, I would have a giant garage where I could hoard all these furniture orphans until I found the time to refinish them, but the truth is I have plenty of projects to keep me busy ( and no more room in my garage). It doesn’t hurt to look though! What do you guys hoard? Are your garages full of sad but potentially awesome thrift store finds too?

Hope you’re having a great week.



Lucy’s Room, part deux

This weekend, Peter and I stumbled upon an fantastic thrifty find – a gorgeous metal antique twin bed frame. It will be perfect for Lucy’s big girl bed, and the price was definitely right at $65.

Yes, this picture was taken on our still unfinished porch. No,I don’t want to talk about it.

Really it’s just a headboard and a foot board, because the owner of the shop misplaced the rails (darn!) but I think we will be able to attach them to a standard metal bed frame. I think it’s brass but I’m not sure…

It’s got loads of character, and I especially love that it has casters.

I’ve been thinking about transitioning Lucy to a bigger bed for a while now, in the hopes that it will help her stay in her own bed for more of the night. She hates sleeping in her crib, and as soon as she stirs and realizes she is in her crib, she immediately calls out to us. I love co-sleeping, but maybe this way I can snuggle in her bed instead and we can wake up Peter less? Hopefully. I don’t think I’ll need to change much else in her room, but I’ll probably want to update a few accessories.

I’d love to get this quilt and sham that I saw on Ohdeedoh last week, but it looks like it’s no longer available on the Garnet Hill website.

Any suggestions for where to find cute twin bedding? Am I crazy for trying to move her into a twin bed already? We will definitely use a bed rail to keep her from rolling out of bed.


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