Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My $25 Piano

I’m taking a little brake from curtain week today to tell you about an AMAZING DEAL I got a few months ago!  (This one is for you Tracy!!)

Until recently I have never owned a real piano.  For the last 12 years I have had this beautiful little electric piano (and just pretend you don’t see my new piano in the background).


Now this little electric piano has been SO WONDERFUL over the past 12 years.  It was more than just a keyboard—it really was like a mini piano—but it was light weight and easy to move around when we were moving from place to place and had lots of cool features.  I LOVED this thing.  I even made this little cover for it so it wouldn’t get dusty.


But as my family is getting older and we aren’t planning on moving houses again, And our piano teacher was telling us that we really needed something with weighted keys—we decided it was time to look for a real piano.

After weeks of searching on craigslist I found this piano listed for $150!!!


After looking on line forever—I knew this was a good deal.  So we marched on over and bought it.

After it sat in our home for a few weeks we had it tuned and the tuner guy couldn’t believe how much I bought it for!  He told me it would have been a great deal if I had got it for double the price.  But at that price, it was a steal!

And then to make me even happier—I put my little electric piano on craigslist and sold it for $125!!!

So—that means that in the end I spent $25 on this little beauty!


And now with my own piano, I feel all grown up.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sketchy Shower Curtains turned Living Room Curtains.

Continuing on my theme of “Curtain Week”—today I will tell you about my curtain selection for this room (picture courtesy of the previous owners before we moved in):


Right before we moved into our house I took a wonderful trip to Arizona with my sister, mother and some very dear friends.  It was the best girls weekend EVER.  We had so much fun.  And we did a lot of shopping.

Well, one of the stores that shopped at was Kirklands Home Store.  I have never shopped there before but I fell in love with practically everything in the store.  And I fell in love with this fun shower curtain.


I was looking for some fun curtains to hang in the living room/kids hang out room.  I saw these shower curtains for only $16.99 and new that I could make them into really cute curtains.  And that I could get 2 panels out of each one!  So I bought 3 panels for my 3 windows for a total of $50.97. 

The plan was brilliant—I would just cut each shower curtain in half and hem the raw edge and get some fun hooks and hang them up in my living room.  Easy Peasy.

Well, when I got home and opened up the packaging I knew I had a lot more work to do.  I have NEVER seen such poor quality of sewing in a ready made product.  I could hardly believe it—and HAD to take several pictures to document HOW BAD IT REALLY WAS.

So here are the photos for your viewing pleasure (look really closely at all the details—seam allowances, button holes, hems, etc.):






CRAZY right? 

And the crazy thing was that all three panels were all that way!

So I was now back in Washington and couldn’t return them.  And I still loved the fabric.  So I just started picking out all the seams and cutting off all the seams with button holes—till I was left with just the material.  And started from square one.

So I ended up just hemming them all the way around and forgetting the button holes.  Instead I hung them with little clips.  And I think they turned out MARVELOUSLY!  And here is what the room looks like now:


The only bummer about using a shower curtain is that they are shorter than other curtains (especially when you have to cut off an inch and a half of a lousy button hole job off the top!)  I would have loved for them to be floor length.  But I still love how they turned out!


And the fun print makes a big impact—as it is usually one of the first things people see as they come in our house.


I get asked all the time if I made these curtains.  And—because of all the ripping out of seams and cutting and trimming and pain in the neck work I had to do—I say HECK YA!  I did!


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Master Bedroom Curtains—Adding Grommets

As always, I have so many projects I want to post about.  I thought this week I would focus my posts on some of the window treatments that I bought, made, and did major reconstructive surgery on.

We’ll start today in our Master Bedroom.

Our master bedroom has two enormous windows that let in a TON of sunlight (that is when the sun actually shines here in the northwest!).

This picture is right after we bought the house and were just starting renovations and painting.  This room needed a bunch of dry wall repair (after we took off all the shelving and other things that had been left attached to the walls), new window blinds, a new light fixture and a whole lot of paint.  I will give you all the before and after details in another post—today we are just going to talk about the curtains.


First of all—I just want to tell you that I bought 12 different sets of curtains that were eventually returned because they were either the wrong color (they didn’t match with our bedding), or they were not room darkening enough (we were waking up when the sun came up at 4 or 5 in the morning!) before we finally settled on these:

Eclipse Samara Blackout Energy-Efficient Curtain from Walmart

Eclipse Samara Blackout Energy-Efficient Curtain

My hubby and I are really happy with the quality and the price of these curtains ($9.77/panel!!!)  However, I was not in love with the rod pocket look—as I wanted to open and close them on a daily basis, and rod pockets can be awkward to open an close often. 

So I tried using curtain clips to hang them from the rod.  I obviously hadn’t ironed them yet when these pictures were taken.



I just wasn’t in love with this option either.  I had really wanted a curtain with grommets.  So I decided to see about adding my own grommets.

I found these DIY grommets at Joanns:

Dritz Curtain Grommets 1 9/16" Inner Diameter 8/Pkg Pewter 443-68

But they were $12.99 for 1 pack for the size that I needed.  And I needed 3 packs!  That would make double the price of these curtains!!!

I was bummed and had resigned myself to the fact that I would just have to live with them as is—until I saw that in Walmart’s Fabric section—they had these black plasitcy looking grommets for $5.99!


I didn’t want the cheap black plastic looking grommets—but I knew that I could fix them with my favorite spray paint that is made for plastic!

I have used this exact spray paint for more projects than I can count.  Here and here are just a couple of examples.

So the grommets come apart into two pieces—the front and the back.  Here all the fronts and backs got a makeover.


Next I used the template that comes with the grommets, and carefully measured and traced out where I wanted the grommets to go.

Then I simply just cut around my tracing lines.  Then I put the back grommet on the back of my fabric, and the front grommet on the front.  And then I pressed the pieces together and they snapped into place.  All my cut edges are neatly and securely encased inside of the grommets. 


Then I just repeat those steps 24 more times until all of my panels were done!

Then I gave them all a good pressing and hung them up.


Now they open and close easily and they look amazing.  And this spray paint is tough as nails.  Its not going anywhere.  We have been opening and closing them every day for months and I have yet to see any signs of wear. 


AND thanks to the miracles and wonders of SPRAY PAINT--this little transformation only cost me and additional $18 for the grommets instead of $40!


And that makes me happy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CHEAP DIY Photo Canvases

I know it has been FOREVER since I last posted on my blog.  I’m sorry—I have been to buys living my life to blog about it.  But I am SO EXCITED about the most recent project that I just finished that I had to run up to my computer and write a post about it.

To start off—let me just explain that my family just got our family pictures taken for the first time.  Now—when I say the first time—I really mean that this is the first time that we haven’t gone to SEARS portrait studio with our coupon and been forced to sit in a tiny little room with our whole family and try and smile and act like we were having a grand old time—while really we were all hating it and the pictures showed how much we were hating it.  We were then forced to choose one pose according to our coupon—and we had to choose from 2 or 3 pictures—all of which we really disliked to begin with—so that we could get our blessed pictures!

So—as I was saying—this is the first time that our family had our pictures taken by a professional—out in the real world with the gorgeous fall landscape as our beautiful background.  We were so at ease—we actually had a great time at the photo shoot—and it shows!!  Our pictures turned out amazing!!!  And we had SO MANY to choose from!!  It was truly a wonderful experience!

So now that our pictures were taken and turned out beautifully—I had a GIANT BARE NAKED wall in our home (our stair wall) that I wanted to turn into our gallery wall. 

I really love the look of a ton of pictures on a wall—but knew that framing all of those pictures could be VERY costly.  So I didn’t really know what I was going to do.

BUT THEN my awesome sister Michelle, sent me a link to THIS tutorial of how to make your own photo canvases!!!  It is PURE GENIUS I tell you!!  And the answer to my picture wall dilemma.

So I RAN to the hardware store and got one 8 foot sheet of 1” Styrofoam insulation and then ran to the fabric store and got 2 yards of black fabric.

And this is what I did:

First I got out some paper and cut out a random assortment of sizes and shapes—and I started taping them up on my wall until I was happy with the layout.


Then I went to my computer and chose which pictures would go where and cropped them to size and ordered them on Costco.com.  (The sizes ranged from a 16x20 to 5x7s)

Next I traced out the shapes of all of my pictures on the Styrofoam and labeled them (I really did this with a ruler and didn’t actually trace my pictures—so as not to bend them)


Next I TRIED to cut them out myself using a razor blade (which is the way the gal said she cut some of hers with)—but that ended in DISASTERLY rough and gnarly edges that looked HORRIBLE.  So I stopped after one attempt and then had my sweet hubby cut the rest of them with his table saw.  He did an AMAZING job at getting them PERFECTLY straight!


Next I cut a piece of fabric slightly larger than each square.


And then I wrapped them up like a present and stapled all the ends down with a regular stapler.  There is no need to be fancy or to wrap the whole back of it—because no one is going to see the back side.


I would recommend getting a little more fabric than you think you will need.  I didn’t and I came CRAZILY close to not having enough to finish this project.  Anyhoo—I made sure to use a lot of staples to make it secure—and I was SUPER ANAL and CAREFUL to fold the corners just right as to have them crease perfectly and not look POOCHY.


I found that PRESSING the corners down with steam really helped them to lie flat and almost disappear.


Next I finished off the back with Duct Tape to secure the whole thing.


Then I took all the canvases out the my garage and sprayed the fabric fronts of the canvases with this spray glue that I already had on hand.


Then I carefully placed the pictures on each one and gently rubbed them with a soft towel until they had adhered.

Next for the hanging.

The gal in her tutorial hung her canvases with velcro—and I almost did too—until I pulled off the backing to the velcro and felt how sticky that stuff is.  I figured if I ever wanted to change things up—I didn’t want to have to patch holes in my wall from tearing off chunks of my wall where that crazy sticky velcro was.   And so we found these little picture hooky things in our stash that were perfect.  I placed a little hot glue on the back to make sure that they stayed on securely.


Next I laid out all my pictures again on the floor…


And then tried to get them in as close to the same spots on the wall as I could.  I have to say that it is pretty hard to hang stuff when you are standing on stairs.  I was able to hang all but 2 of them.  Then I brought in the big guns to hang the ones I couldn’t reach.  We make a good team that way.   (He’s standing on a stool here and still having a hard time reaching.  It really was difficult!  Apparently we need to get one of those ladders that does stairs!)


Then we stood back and admired our handy work.




I am SO IN LOVE with how this project turned out.  I have already had a ton of comments and ooohs and aaaahs on this project.  And everyone is SHOCKED when I tell them that I made these guys and at how much I spent.


And how much did I spend?

The foam insulation from Lowes: $8.98

2 Yards of Black Fabric from Joann’s: $5.50 with coupon.

Grand Total: $14.48

And I probably spent around $40 for the pictures to be printed at Costco.  I had a ton of other pictures printed and Christmas cards done all at the same time—so I’m not super sure and I am too lazy at this particular moment to figure it out.  All I know is that it seemed like a good deal for all that I got.

And just today I went to Walmart and bought a frame for another picture we had enlarged—and I bought a CHEAP PLASTIC FRAME and it was over $15!!  Just for this one LOW QUALITY frame!!


So this just goes to show how great and thrifty this project really is.  AND in a couple years time—when we get our pictures taken again—I can just peel off the pictures and glue on new ones—or refabric them for a few bucks! 

I will definitely be using this idea again.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Canvas + Paint Chips = Awesome Art

I came across THIS awesome idea for using paint chips to create custom art MONTHS and MONTHS ago:

This is my inspiration piece from Life Crafts and Whatever


—and I have been wanting to give it a try ever since. 

one.  because it looks like custom, awesome art that you would pay big money for.

and two. because you get all the chips for free and so it hardly costs you anything!!!  I’m cheap like that.

So I started by collecting a ton of paint chips every time I went to the paint isle in Walmart and Home Depot and then cut them down into uniform squares (and the way I determined the size of squares was just taking the width of the paint chips and just cutting the other edge so that it was a square—it saved me on the amount of cuts I had to do.  However—not all the paint chips I collected were the exact same width—so then I did have to cut some down on both sides). 

Here I am with my adorable sister starting to cut and lay them all out.


And just let me tell you—if you are going to do a large one like I did--you need A LOT of paint chips.  I think that mine had almost 200 squares that measured over 2 and a half inches each.  So I opted to gather all my squares in a few trips rather than stuffing my purse full of 200 paint chips at one shot!

I decided to glue my paint chips onto a canvas instead of a wooden board.  Just because I wanted it to be light weight and easy to hang—and it has such a nice finished edge.  I wanted a really big one—and they just happened to be on sale at Michaels for 40% off and I had a coupon for an additional 20% off.  SO I paid something like $14 for a $40 2 x 4 foot canvas!!!

So I started off by addressing the edge of the canvas first.  I wanted them brown—so I used brown craft paint (don’t be fooled by the little can of stain in this picture—I was going to use stain—but it wasn’t getting a rich enough color—so I decided to use paint instead.) and I painted the edges of my canvas.


Here it is all painted on the edges.  Next I found the center of the canvas and drew some pencil lines making myself a grid so I would have something to keep me gluing all my squares on straight.


Then I did a practice run and laid out all of my squares before actually gluing.  I wanted to make sure that I liked the configuration of colors before I started gluing!


Then I stacked them all into piles according to their row.  Then I laid all the piles in order—and starting in the center I started mod podging them all on to the canvas.

Now—this was the hardest part.  So I don’t have any pictures of this process because I was so in the thick of all the glue and such that I couldn’t take a picture. 

But—what happened here was that as I was gluing the paint chips onto the canvas—they wanted to curl up and not lay flat.  So I would have to press them down as best I could and then lay a flat board over them while I moved onto the next section.  And finally after finishing gluing all of the pieces down—I turned the whole thing over and let it lay face down on the table with a few boards on the back of it to hold it down so that all the paint chips would be pressed flat!

This worked out all right in the end—but during this whole process I thought it was going to end up a DISASTER!  I was just thinking that I had wasted all my time and money on this wild project!!

(As I am writing this post—I just went back and read the post from my inspiration piece—and she used SPRAY ADHESIVE instead of mod podge!!!  I wish I would have read more carefully and done that!  It would have saved myself a lot of grief!!)

But finally that part was over and I could move on to the next part.

So next I put two coats of mod podge over the paint chips to seal it. 


Then I took some dark stain and put a good layer of stain over the whole thing and let it sit for a few minutes—then wiped it off.


I actually ended up wanting it a bit darker—so I did that step twice.

And I have to admit that I am in LOVE with the finished product.


I LOVE how big it is on the wall.


And I LOVE the pop of color that it gives the entry way.


But most of all—I LOVE that I made it, and that it only cost me $14!

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