Thank You For Not Stealing My Baby Name; Here’s A Bookcase

My Facebook Friends List looks suspiciously like a page torn out of a daycare center’s yearbook.  Don’t ask me how my friends look like nowadays.  I wouldn’t be able to pick them out of a police line up. Or at a party in my own home.  It happened overnight, it seems like.  Profile pictures of college students performing keg stands have been slowly replaced by two year olds doing milk chugs.  Friends are always encouraging us to have babies as soon as possible but my response?  “We’re in no rush.  It’s kind of nice to sit back and learn from everyone else’s mistakes”.  At any given moment, my News Feed reads like a CliffsNotes version of What To Expect When You’re Expecting.  Or for some, What To Expect When You’re (Not) Expecting.  I find it all fascinating.  Thanks to social media, I now know what to feed a child for the best abstract diaper art.  Beets and leafy greens for color.  Corn for texture.  But more importantly, I’ve been fully educated on the cutthroat business of choosing a baby name.  And I’m not even expecting.

The age of sixteen was when I first became aware of the stress involved in naming a child. I was working at a Mexican restaurant called Pappasito’s at the time.  There, I met one of the most influential persons in my life.  I can’t recall her name, but that’s not very important. What is important is that her son was named Markweist.  Inexplicably, it is pronounced in the same manner as “Marcus”.  In her defense, she would’ve named her child Marcus but made the mistake of sharing her chosen name with her best friend.  The best friend had a baby before she did and ended up using the name herself.  It was all very tragic.  It was then, while wearing a sombrero and calling out for “Smith, party of two and a half!”, that I realized the importance of choosing a baby name early on and keeping it to oneself.  I mean, you could share but who wants to add on 22 extra letters to a name because your best friend decided to lift yours?  Unacceptable.  If you don’t end up wanting kids, you can always use the name for a dog or a pet alpaca.  Benjamin Theodore Thomas Ferguson III makes for a great alpaca name, I’ve heard.

So when our friends “C” and “O” decided to name their newborn “Baby S”, I was elated. One, the baby is healthy and beautiful.  And two, Baby S was not on my radar of potential baby names.  As a baby shower gift (as well as a Thank You gift for not using my baby name), I decided to go with two items.  One to use and one to amuse.  For the practical side, a Diaper Genie was chosen.  And since some of my favorite memories centered around books and libraries, I decided to make Baby S her very own miniature bookcase. Out of an old jewelry box.  Here’s what I used:

  • Wooden jewelry box.  Get the tall one with the doors.  I got one from Goodwill for $9.99.
  • Paint & paintbrush
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Sandpaper
  • Screwdriver
  • Saw
  • Double stick tape
  • Pencil/felt tipped pen
  • E-6000 glue
  • Scrap pieces of wood.  I had a damaged paint canvas that had a wooden frame.  I used that.

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Step 1:  Using a screwdriver, remove the doors, hardware and drawers.  Then strip off the velvet they use to cover it all.  Mine was mauve pink.  Hopefully, yours has festive velvet coloration as well.  Here’s a picture of me peeling away.  Just in case you’re unsure of how to peel.  Sometimes I forget.  Usually after midnight on the weekends.

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Step 2:  Next, take a low grit sandpaper and start sanding.  Just enough to get the clear coat off so that your paint will stick.

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Step 3:  Brush off the sawdust and wipe it down a few times with a damp cloth.  Then paint it with your choice of paint color.  I chose a Behr color.  I can’t remember what it was called but it had the word “cottage” in it.  Cottage cream or cottage dream.  Who knows. You’ll need a few coats of this stuff though.

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Step 4:  Leave that jewelry box alone for a day to dry.  Then take some more low grit sandpaper and lightly sand the edges to give it a distressed look.  Don’t press down too hard or else you’ll end up taking off too much and the whole thing will look more damaged than distressed.

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Step 5:  Cut out scrapbook paper to fit the back of the jewelry box.  You might want to measure first.  Then find your stash of pencils.  No one seems to have pencils anymore but you’ll want to track some down for this.

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Step 6:  On a purple/grey paper, I used a ruler to measure out half inch lines.  Then I went on Google Fonts and chose a few different styles.  Using some of my favorite quotes from children’s books and poems, I drew them onto the paper freehand.  I left a little area blank in anticipation of the shelf that will go there.

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Step 7:  Once that was done, I took a black felt tipped pen and traced the letters.  Then I erased the pencil lines.  It came out quite well.  The quotes I used were written by Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, A. A. Milne and Dr. Seuss.  Take the double sided tape and stick these onto the back of the jewelry box.

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Step 8:  Locate your scrap wood.  Again, mine was just the wooden frame to a damaged canvas.  I found that the width of each wooden piece was roughly half of the depth of the jewelry box.  So, I could use two to make a shelf.  Measure and cut the wood to size.  You will want a shelf that is the depth and width of your box.  Then, cut out two extra pieces about half a centimeter in square thickness.  The length will be the depth of your box.  This sounds difficult but look at the picture after this one and it makes more sense.  It’s relatively easy.

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Step 9:  Paint the wooden pieces in the same color you’ve been using.  Then affix the two small wood pieces onto the jewelry box using the E-6000 glue.  You will want one on either side.  Place it where you’d like to see the shelf sit.  Then place the wooden “shelf” piece on top.

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Step 569:  Almost done.  You might want to start making plans to do normal things like pee and shower again.  I found a wooden letter “S”, so I decided to glue that on top.  I would’ve painted it but thought the raw wood was cute.  I’m sure the newborn will approve.

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Step 1425:  Buy some books.  This is the fun part.  Children’s books come in all shapes and sizes so I bought the ones that were able to fit into the baby’s bookcase.  “O” and “C” are both in the software industry and plan on teaching their child the programming language, Ruby.  I couldn’t find a small edition of that so I settled for Linux instead.  Along with her Dr. Seuss books.

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Step 22.5:  Baby S is also fortunate enough to have parents who are both fluent in Spanish.  So I threw in a little Spanish translator.  It’ll come in handy when she’s nineteen, and in Cancun during spring break, trying to order a beer.  Or find her way to a biblioteca.  While drinking a beer.

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And here is the gift for Baby S.  Hopefully, she’ll remember this gift when I’m too old to drive and need a lift to the liquor store, library and bookstore.  All in that order.  Then repeat.

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Tin Can-delier: Chandelier Made Of Tin Cans

My fiancé is vegan.  He’s been one since the days of Walkmans and floppy disks.  The urban foraging obsession came much later, though.  I woke up one morning, years ago, to find him consuming what appeared to be houseplants.  “Are you eating our hanging fuchsia?” I ask him.  He stops chewing for a second and tells me, “Yeah.  I found out on Wikipedia that the fruits are edible.  Isn’t that amazing?  It’s like a hanging food source we’ve been unaware of!”.  I quickly assess the situation and respond, “Shall I take you to Home Depot’s garden section for brunch, my love?”.  Honestly, I have no idea what took him so long to make the trek north to Seattle to be with his fellow people.  Maybe he wanted to collect enough plaid shirts to pair up with his Marmot jackets, along the way. Who knows.

The public parks here are like grocery stores to him.  Leave him alone at Discovery Park for thirty seconds, and he’s already knee deep in some wild berry bushes.  Ask him where he is and he’ll respond, “Aisle five!”.  “You mean, the North Beach trailhead?” I yell back. “Same thing,” he tells me.  Once, he came wandering back to me while popping wild blueberries into his mouth.  He tells me that they’re amazingly fresh yet oddly salty.  I looked at him, then the dewy fruit and explain to him, “Um, that’s probably dog pee you’re tasting”.

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Life is wonderful for an urban forager, here in Seattle.  When it’s spring, summer or fall, that is.  The fruits, mushrooms and my patio plants are plentiful during those seasons. When it’s wintertime and Discovery Park is no longer offering free food service, my fiancé starts urban foraging through our kitchen cupboards.  He loves finding canned beans.  I am a huge fan of tuna.  During the wintertime, we manage to go through a small pile of canned goods by the end of the week.  These cans are then brought to the recycling area about a hundred yards away.  One day, laziness and creativity were playing particularly well together and I decided to make something out of my stash of tin cans versus walking them to the recycling area.  I decided to make a chandelier made out of tin cans.  Then I named it my “tin-candeiler”.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Lampshade with the shade part removed.  So, just the wire frame.  Goodwill has plenty.
  • Wire mesh.  You can get this off of an old window screen.
  • Wire
  • Lightbulb
  • Small chain.  I used old chain necklaces for this.
  • Lamp kit.  Get one at Home Depot or find an old lamp and strip it for its cord/lightbulb socket.
  • Scissors
  • Drill with various sized drill bits
  • Lots and lots of aluminum can tops
  • 2 large aluminum can bodies.  They should both be large enough to fit over your lightbulb.
  • Heavy duty gloves
  • Thin nails and hammer
  • Wooden board

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Step 1:  The list of materials calls for a “lampshade with the shade part removed” but I assume most people haven’t done that yet.  So, let’s go ahead and do that, shall we?

Step 2:  Take the wire mesh and cover the entire lampshade frame.  It will look like a very shallow sifter.  Attach the mesh to the frame with wires.  Then, cut a hole in the middle where the center is.  This will be where you thread the lightbulb cord through.  A centimeter in width is what you’re aiming for when cutting that hole.

Step 3:  Once you have that set up, go ahead and poke the lightbulb and cord through. Hang this up to the side somewhere for now.  It’ll probably be lopsided.  Mess with it later.

Step 4:  Take inventory of your aluminum tops.  Then gauge how important your fingers are to you.  This project is a great one for anyone possessing extra phalanges.  You might, in all likelihood, lose a few digits.  So, you’ll want to wear some gloves for this project.  Then divide your goods into three piles.  Half of the tops should go into one pile and the rest should be divided evenly into two piles of 25% each.

Step 5:  For 25% of the tops, you’ll want to trim off…oh, let’s say a half centimeter of material from the edge, all around.  Place this onto a wooden board and nail it down with two nails.  Situate these two nails about two millimeters away from the edge and at polar opposite ends.  This will secure the tops so that you won’t have a dangerous spinning disc when drilling.

Step 6:  Okay, so now you can go ahead and drill some holes.  Use different sized drill bits to make a design of your choice.  I opted for a swirly theme but you can do whatever.

Step 7:  Drilling and cutting aluminum tops for hours can drive you nuts, one tiny drill hole at a time.  Invite some friends over. People love watching craziness bud and blossom.

Step 8:  Move on to the big pile of tops.  Do the same exact thing to this pile.  But when you make that cut around the edge, go for a deeper one.  Take off 1.5 cm this time from the edge.

Step 9:  For the rest of the tops, you’ll want to make them into spirals.  This is pretty easy. Assuming that you still have both of your hands at this point, hold a top in one and a pair of scissors in the other.  Cut in a one centimeter spiral all the way in.  What you’ll get is a spiral that looks like a spiral.  Sorry, my thesaurus sucks.

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Step 10:  Remember those holes you nailed in?  And remember those capiz shell lamps you were about to buy but didn’t because they never went on sale and you get buyer’s remorse when you buy full price?  Actually, that probably wasn’t you.  That may have been me.  Well, locate those holes and your chains and string the tops together like those capiz shells.  You can mix and match the sizes.  I sure did.

Step 11:  Attach each string of strung tops to the mesh contraption with more chains. Make sure you attach it to the outermost edge.

Step 12:  Working about an inch away from the edge, put up your spirals with long strands of chains.  I forgot, poke a hole at the top of each spiral first.

Step 13:  Then, take your two aluminum can bodies and drill some festive holes in them. Stack them up on top of one another and attach the two.  Then place it around the lightbulb and string that up as well.

And here is my tin can-delier.  Mother Nature already thanked me for this one.

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5 Days, $500, 248 sf NYC Apt…Go!: Final Day (Finally)

I love New York City.  I just outed myself as a non-resident, in calling it by its full USPS-approved name, didn’t I?  How middle America of me.  Ok, “The City”.  It’s where rich people go to feel poor.  Where else could you spend $3,000/month to live in a closet masquerading as an apartment?  Every time I feel like as if I have too much change in my pockets, I book a flight to Manhattan.  Or take a trip to Whole Foods down the road. Whichever one is cheapest.  And let me tell you, Whole Foods does not often win.

Going from Seattle to The City is a jump in many regards, but the two cities have much more in common than you would think.  Anthony Bourdain compares Seattle to “Brooklyn before there was a Brooklyn”.  This is mostly true, but overlooks the fact that Seattleites, well…they’re really not that cool.  And that’s how they like it. The majority of the population here are like a Who’s Who of Doctor Who fans. My fiancé is one such enthusiast.  He’s planning on wearing a celery boutonniere to the wedding.  I’m just hoping that he doesn’t try to eat it halfway through the ceremony. But the main difference between the two cities is the clientele who shop at stores like Goodwill.  NYC has real homeless people in there, The Emerald City largely does not.  In Seattle, that homeless looking guy that you tossed a quarter to?  Probably the CEO of some software company. He’ll gladly take that penny too, and shove it into his fanny pack.  And that fanny pack was, more than likely, purchased at a thrift store during a half off sale.  Because seven figure incomes just doesn’t buy what it used to.

This is why, while in New York, I sometimes forget myself and strike up random conversations with legitimate homeless people, under the misconception that all of their hardwiring is intact.  For example, on the final day of redoing my sister’s apartment, I stepped into the Salvation Army on 3rd Avenue.  Spotting a gorgeous olive green leather chair, I immediately go over to lay my claim by sprawling myself over the armrests. Looking at the price tag, I mutter to myself, “$24.99?  That’s cheaper than stealing it.  Not that I would ever do that, just in case anyone is listening”.  A middle aged man sporting a shirt with more dirt than fabric hears me and spits out, “Ya got crack?  I ain’t gonna steal it from ya…if ya just give it to me”.  This was when I un-sprawled my limbs and made a quick exit, while telling myself not to make eye contact within the four walls of a Salvation Army in NYC ever again.  But it was a steal of a deal, and I went back later that night to buy the chair.  Here it is.

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I gave it a good wipe down with a wet towel.  Then I thought better of it and disinfected the entire thing with the strongest anti-bacterial cleanser I could lay my hands on.

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The gorgeous detailing in back is definitely more valuable than two Snack Packs and a Fruit Roll-Up in an elementary school playground.  It is a deal like this one that makes thrifting so rewarding.

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After Salvation Army, I hopped on over to its cleaner cousin, Goodwill.  There, I found these gallery frames for $7.99 and $10.99.  I initially intended to replace the print with something else, but ended up kinda sorta really liking the simple black and white photography.  A lot, actually.  I arranged them simply grouped on the living area wall.  I had two random wooden curtain rod ends, so I threw those up there as well.  I may or may not have used a level.

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Here is what the Living Room Area looked like “Before”.

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On Day 5, this is what the Living Room Area looked like “After”.  It’s the same area, just different view, I swear.

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Remember the random stuff I was hoarding from different thrift stores?  Giant thread spools large enough to keep two sweat shops in business until 2015?

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Here they are, living the retired good life as adornments to the coffee table I had refurbished a few days prior.

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And those plaster medallions?  I stuck them on the wall, then realized I measured incorrectly.  So, they were slightly off-center.  In my defense, it was after happy hour. Instead of rehanging everything, I re-centered the entire grouping by adding the wooden spool of leftover twine to the end.  I love it when laziness and creativity come together.

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There is an antique ironing board that my sister has, which we picked up in New Hampshire, years ago.  I really liked the board, but found the backside hardware much more interesting that its plain top.  So, I ended up displaying it, backside forward, as a stand alone piece in the living room area.

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In its previous life, the ironing board was hanging out with a rope ladder that we had found outside of a Babycakes NYC.  This was years before.  I cut the rope off of the wooden rungs and displayed it in a glass container.

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Sitting beside that rope display is the glass lamp base we found at Goodwill.  I placed my sister’s river rock collection under it.  Then I added a lampshade we found on clearance, from Bed Bath & Beyond, for $9.99.

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My sister, she is wonderful.  Absolutely darling.  But she’s not someone you would categorize as being of the overly emotional variety.  She avoids hugs at all cost.  Instead, she’ll give you a hand hug, if she likes you.  Fist shake if she doesn’t.  And handshake if she couldn’t care less.  For really special occasions like weddings and funerals, she will also add in a heartfelt thumb nuzzle with that hand hug. This is strangely comforting, I should probably add.  So, it came as quite a shock when I showed her the finished apartment and she was, how do you say it?  Teary eyed.  I asked her, “Um, this hasn’t ever happened before, so I’m not quite sure how to proceed…but um, are you…are you crying?”.  She quickly looked away and muttered, “No, my eyeballs are just sweating. Those corneas, you know how they just love to sweat.  Sometimes I wonder how many calories my pupils burn while dilating, alone.  Hey, you didn’t get rid of my giant 24 pound wheel of cheese, did you?”.  She told me that she loved what her sweaty pupils were seeing.

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A few days before, I had found a wine rack at Goodwill.  I then placed two terra cotta planters into the wine rack.  I tilted the planters to make it all fit in.  Then I dabbled on some Behr paint in “River Walk” to add some color.

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Home Depot had some plants.  I found one for $3.99 and another for $3.49.  I took them both home with me.  After paying, of course.  Here are the plants in their happy new home.

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I then placed the wine rack planter on top of the existing black table.  To change up the entire look, I took out the existing hardware and replaced it with our free Anthropologie dresser knobs.  She had saved those rings of wood from a wedding, years before.

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This table was placed at the foot of the bed.  Here is a view of the Bedroom Area “After” I had repainted the walls, added window treatments and redone the bookcases.

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It’s kind of a huge jump from the canvas-used-as-window-treatment genre of decor I had witnessed during Day 1.

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Another “After” view.

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Here is the homeless chair I had found tossed out onto the streets.  I rehabbed it with some spanking new fabric and then paired it up with a sexy side of revamped dresser. Let me know if my choice in adjectives is starting to creep you out.  I’m pretty sure it does.

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It’s a rather nice little seating area.  The entire chair/dresser combination is off to the sides a bit, so it’ll be of service to some of my sister’s more socially awkward guests.  If she ever decides to host a dinner party.  But then again, she takes after our dad.  And according to our mom, our dad “cooks, alright.  Your dad cooks from the couch”.  Maybe she’ll have a tuna can opening/eating party.

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This 248 sf area of my sister’s apartment was done in five sleepless, flu riddled days.  You may want to scroll through Day 1-4 to see the full renovation, including the kitchen and green dresser area.  I also managed to redo it for far less than our initial $500 budget. Here is the breakdown of the spending:

  • Paints: $51.88
  • Paint Supplies: $14.99
  • Furniture & Furniture Renovating Materials: $99.98
  • Wood: $11.82
  • Plants: $7.48
  • Fabric: $23.00
  • Wall Art: $27.37
  • Decor: $150
  • Miscellaneous: $48.24

Total Cost: $299.76 (Correction: Apparently, I can’t input numbers correctly on my calculator.  The total is $434.76.  Still under budget but much less money left over for drinks.  Thanks to people who pointed this out).

And a final look at the NYC apartment before I flew out the next morning.  It was time to go back to the unshaven and plaid wearing populace of Seattle.  A place where you can say things like, “Yeah, I’m going to have to decline that invite.  There’s a secret mushroom patch I’ve been foraging.  I kind of want to make a final harvest before chanterelle season is over.  I mean, my famous wild mushroom risotto isn’t going to make itself, girlfriend” and people nod with intimate understanding.  Image

Paint Chips & Salsa: Decorating The Kitchen & Dining Area

Kitchen “Before”. I flew in after the movers unpacked and this was, by far, the most time intensive area to organize. Mainly because I cook every day and I may or may not have a slight case of serious OCD.

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Kitchen “After”. I don’t believe in decorating the kitchen with useless things (unless it’s a tree stump on top of the cabinets…see picture for example) so I splurge on buying really nice cooking supplies since they double as decor. I also like to buy apothecary jars to store dog food/treats and glass beer jugs to store flours. Then there is my obsession with buying mortar and pestles. The one to the immediate right of the stove was given to me by my mom along with the cutting board behind it. They were among her first purchases when she arrived in the U.S. in 1981.

Cost:

Apothecary jars: $30 (Marshall’s)

Crate and Barrel mortar and pestle: $35

Papaya salad mortar and pestle: $20 (Phnom Kiev Supermarket in Seattle)

Glass beer jugs: $6 for 2 (Seattle Goodwill)

Anthropologie measuring cups and spoons: $50

Frame that I repainted and filled with dried moss: $8 (Austin Goodwill)

2 woven baskets: $8 for 2 (Austin Goodwill)

Iron napkin holder that I refinished: $5 (Austin Goodwill)

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Kitchen “After”. I used molding to make display areas in the kitchen. The frame to the top right is an antique one from my fiance’s great great grandmother that I used to frame moss. Below it is a shadowbox that I found at a garage sale and turned into a recipe holder. Left of that are tin cans I papered and use to hold cinnamon sticks and herbs. And above that is a mirror I found at a thrift store and repainted a distressed white.

Cost:

Molding: $25

Shadowbox: $3 (Garage sale in Austin)

Apothecary Jars: $24

Recycling Bags: I think they were $16 for two (World Market)

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Kitchen “After”. Because we are tree hugging hippies, I repurposed random glass jars into pantry storage. I would show you the organization of the other cabinets but have been told that my facing-labels-in-one-direction was kinda creepy.

Cost:

Glass jars: Free

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Dining Table “Before”. I actually took two pieces of furniture to make this. The bottom is the pedestal for an Ikea table that I attached an antique tabletop to. The tabletop has been in my fiance’s family since the early 1900’s which I sanded, painted, resanded and repainted to have it match the pedestal.

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Dining Table “After”. I used epoxy spray paint to do this table since it’s extremely hard and durable and will take the daily wear and tear.

Cost:

Epoxy paint in “Gloss White”: $12

Table was free using two existing tables.

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Dining Area “After”. This side table was made by my fiance’s family in the early 1900’s using old barnwood. I cut it down by a foot to make it usable in this space. Flanking it to the left is driftwood I took from a nudist beach on Lopez Island. Above the table are antique doorknobs and hardware that I’ve collected from flea markets and thrift stores. The framed pieces are artwork comprised of receipts, cards and maps of our travels.

Cost:

Frames: About $65 in all.  Most are from garage sales and thrift stores.

Total cost for Kitchen & Dining Area: $307

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Cheetoh Prints On My Bed: Bedroom Decor

Bedroom “Before”. It’s always nice to walk in the door and find that the movers have thought it a good idea to place clothing, lamps, bike helmets and half eaten Cheetohs on an unmaid bed. Because it makes sense, dammit.

And if you’re wondering how to get fake cheese stains off of your sheets, I let my dog lick the stain for a few minutes, then washed it in hot water with bleach and detergent.  I always get white sheets.  It’s the most hygienic since you can bleach the heck out of it after use.

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Bedroom “After”. I bought a shelving unit to place at the foot of the bed to provide storage for extra bedroom linen and display my collection of early 1900’s thesauruses and dictionaries. The terrarium on top houses moss that I picked up on our very first hike through the Cascades. I added architectural interest to the room by putting up chair rails and molding. The chandelier was one of the first ones I’ve made. The artwork to the right of the bed is actually Gerber daisies (which my fiancé bought me when we first met) that I’ve dried and displayed in those things they usually use to display dead insects. You know which ones I’m talking about.

Cost:

Molding: $100

Glidden Paint and Primer in Salvia, matte: $12

Terrarium: $10 (Fremont garage sale)

Vintage books: $20 (about $2-$3 apiece)

Chandelier base: $19.99 (Goodwill in Austin)

Chandelier material: $20 (Michael’s)

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Bedroom “After”. The love seat was repainted and reupholstered by my fiancé and I. We got it at an auction for $75. The artwork is really just tree stumps that I found texturally interesting so I cleaned them up and mounted them on painted canvas. Also, if you’re in Seattle, buy flowers. For $5, you can get a bouquet that would be retailing for $40 elsewhere.

Cost:

Love seat: $75 (Auction)

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Bedroom “After”. On top of the nightstand, I framed a note that was written to me by my kindergarten teacher that was found and sent to me by my awesome brother. The candleholders were found at Hobby Lobby for 80% off cause they had some weird beads hanging off of them which I used pliers to get off. I use the holders for candles as well as flowers that I placed in green vintage tea cups (which I bought for 25 cents apiece at a garage sale).

Cost:

Hobby Lobby Candleholders: $10 for 3

Green glass teacups: 50 cents

Frame: $10 (TJMaxx)

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Bedroom “After”. These antique skeleton keys were bought off of a pirate selling his wares at the Fremont Flea Market. They were $8 a piece and I’ve displayed them in cheap Ikea frames with a backing made from paper shopping bags. Notice the creases? That’s the bottom of a shopping bag.

Cost:

Skeleton keys: $24 (Fremont Sunday Market)

Ikea Frames: $24 for 3

Total Cost: $325.49

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I Craft In My Pants: Living Room

Say that title really fast, it’s funnier that way, I swear.  And welcome to my home!  Feel free to look around and pass silent judgement.

Living Room “Before”. If you ever wonder what $11,000 will get you, this could be it. For that amount, movers packed, shipped and unpacked for us but you can’t stop them from making you look like a crazy hoarder when they’re done. Thanks Graeble Relocators.

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Living Room “During” Picture. Since I was working within a tight space of 820 sf, I had to shuffle things around to paint and add chair rails. 820 sf is a luxury in Seattle. We were shown 585 sf apartments that people actually live in. To you and I, that’s like living in a walk-in closet for midgets.

Cost:

Chair rails: $80

Behr Paint & Primer in “Pebble Stone”, matte finish: $25

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Living Room “During” Picture. The original walls were a hideous peach color that shouldn’t be happening anywhere outside of a summertime peach sorbet. It took me about five trips to Home Depot to find the right shade of grey since, with such an open and brightly lit space, the colors always seem more washed out once I put it on the walls. I painted the space under the chair rails a pretty blue to add some color to the space.

Cost:

Glidden Paint & Primer in Arrowroot, matte finish: $12

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Living Room “After”. Since the space is an open floor plan, I had to separate the dining area from the living area somehow. I did this by building my own floor to ceiling bookcase (to the left) and using a jute rug to form a seating area. The grey sofa I bought for half off of Anthropologie online and also got the $300 shipping fee waived once I started throwing some legal jargon at them. The floor lamp is from Pottery Barn. Tell them you just moved and they will give you 10% off of your purchase.

Cost:

Ikea jute rug: $89

Anthropologie sofa: $2,100 (Half off, $300 delivery fee waived)

Pottery Barn floor lamp: $377 (10% move-in discount)

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Bookcase “Before”. This was the empty blah wall before I built my bookcase.

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I bought shelving wood as well as thick molding to make my bookcase. This is in the entryway which I decorated with vintage books, shadowboxes with rocks that we’ve collected over the years from our travels and a side table that was 80% off but all kinds of ugly…so I repainted it in a distressed style and added cute knobs.

Cost:

Hobby Lobby dresser: $22 (80% off original price)

2 Hobby Lobby dresser knobs: $6 (Shop when their hardware is 50% off)

Shadowboxes from Michael’s: $30 for both (Was in the clearance bin for half off)

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Bookcase “During” Picture. This is not as easy as it looks. I almost wanted to quit and buy a standard bookcase even though I knew that the uncustomness of it all would drive me nuts over the years.

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Bookcase “After” Picture. You can’t really tell from this angle but I added thick crown molding to the very top of the bookcase to make it look fancier…as well as add $30 to the bookcase’s final cost tally. The books about C++ and Theoretical Physics are my fiance’s. The interesting ones are mines.

Cost:

Bookcase material: $120

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Coffee table “Before”. This is a vintage hand cart I bought at an architectural salvage store. It was originally priced at $125 but I haggled the price down to $75.

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Coffee table “Before”. This old barn door is what I used for the top of the coffee table. The asking price at the architectural salvage store was $100 but I got it for $75.

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Coffee table “After”. This coffee table was made after looking for the perfect piece for three months. I actually ordered a coffee table from West Elm in a moment of weakness but it was on backorder til September so that’s how I ended up making this. The three pulleys on the table were purchased at a fruit stand/antique store in Thorp, Washington during one of our roadtrips.

Cost:

Coffee table: $150 (Earthwise Architectural Salvage Store in Seattle, haggle with them)

Antique pulleys: $24 for 3 (Thorp Fruit & Antique Stand)

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I think I drove my fiancé insane with my hunt for the right colored fabric to make the sofa’s throw pillows. I’m pretty sure he was at wit’s end cause he basically insisted on buying $125 pillows just so that I can shut up about fabric choice and correct pillow density. I told him no (the color was too coral and not burnt orangey enough) and instead, I found this great fabric (in the color I was searching for) at $2 a yard. I got this amazing deal because it was a discontinued style, end of bolt and the cashier had the mathematical capacity of a wig on a hat rack.

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Pillows “After”. I also wanted to buy these amazing grain sack throw pillows from Restoration Hardware but I couldn’t justify spending more on a pillow than I do for a whale watching ship ride, so I made them myself using grain sacks I bought at $5 a pop.

Cost:

Orange pillow: $2 ( I used Jo-Ann Fabric material and existing pillow)

2 Grain Sack Pillows: $10 (I used two sacks purchased off Amazon.com and existing pillows)

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Living Room “After”. I painted the painting to the right during a particularly creative mood.

Cost:

Blank canvas: $35 (50% off, I stock up when they have canvas sales)

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Living Room “After”. Since the dog isn’t allowed on the sofa, we got a wingback chair that she could drool and shed all over. This wingback is one of my greatest finds. I initially wanted one that was upholstered in a ticked linen but at $900, it was too much for what would be a glorified dog chair. I found this exact one, just in a different fabric, for $150.

Cost:

Wingback Chair: $150 (Pier 1 Imports.  50% off original price and additional discount since it was a floor model)

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Desk Area “After”. This is basically the same set up I had in Austin but just to refresh everyone’s memory, it’s a chair from 1943 that I bought at a thrift store for $6.99. The desk was from a flea market that was bought for $10. The typewriter was $20 and found in an antique shop during my roadtrip through New England. The shadowbox holds a branch full of lichen from Town Lake in Austin. The frames up top are composed of a calender from 1960, report cards from 1922, postcards dated back to the Great Depression and written in Czech (all from my fiance’s family). The frame to the top left is actually an antique one that has been in my fiance’s family since the early 1900’s.

Cost:

1943 Chair: $6.99 (Austin Goodwill)

Desk: $10 (Fort Worth flea market)

Typewriter: $20 (New Hampshire antique store)

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Total Cost: $3,268.99