5 Days, $500, 248 sf NYC Apt…Go!: Day 4

Hi again.  Nice to see that you’re still here.  Don’t worry, you’re not overstaying your welcome.  I mean, this isn’t even my apartment, so you’re fine.  Just make sure to eat her bread in even numbers, or else you’ll “off” the slice number in her loaf.  Ever been inside of an 8x5ft kitchen though?  It’s a lot like being inside of a 5x8ft kitchen.  No?  Well, today must be your lucky day my friend, because I’m about to make that a reality.  This is not a tiny kitchen, mind you.  I prefer to call it a “Reheater’s Dream Kitchen”.  Because lord knows, my sister is the best reheater of them all.  Ask her how to serve tuna out of the can, and she’ll show you at least ten different ways.  But this is the sort of room where, if you want to turn around, you’ll have to back up the way you came, turn 180 degrees in the hallway, and then walk back in reverse.  It’s sort of fun.  The first three times.  But take a look at what I was presented with, in terms of “Reheating/Can Opening Home Space”, upon arrival.

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I initially wanted to add some color to the walls, but soon found out that laying down paint was an impossibility in this space.  Instead of your run of the mill drywall, the kitchen walls were made up of some sort of industrial plastic composition that wouldn’t hold regular paint.  I’m pretty certain that the owner of the building had them installed in anticipation of some heavy duty meth lab cookery to be performed in these kitchens.  There seems to be no other plausible explanation.  Putting up a fabric faux wallpaper with cornstarch was also out of the question, since all of my sister’s reheating would’ve softened the starch over time.  This would result in the fabric coming undone.  So, I was left staring at this panel and finally came up with a solution.

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First off, I needed burlap.  I know everyone (and their mothers) are all about the burlap right now.  It’s on the cusp of being as uncool as the mason jars of two years ago, but I really like the neutral color and coarse fabric.  So I wasn’t afraid to implement it in this space.  You know a trend is toeing the line of being yesterday’s news when you find it being used as a tablecloth for a two year old’s cupcake birthday party at a house “just outside of Omaha and down the street from Costco!”.  But I’ve never admitted to being cool a day in my life, so here is my uncool burlap along with my kinda cool upholstery tacks.

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I cut the burlap to the measurement of the walls that were being redone and stitched the hemline.  This was so that there would be no ugly unraveling down the road.  A simple backstitch will suffice.  Since the plastic walls are impenetrable, I opted to put the fabric up along the edges, where the wall met the cabinetry.  This area was caulked in, so I used that to my advantage, by pushing in upholstery tacks all along the edge.

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Once I had the fabric up, I added some knickknacks I gathered up.  My sister bought the shelf from TJMaxx, years ago.  I used it to display interesting things found at Goodwill.  I had packed some, but many were found at the location in NYC.  The measuring spoons are from Anthropologie.

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Speaking of Anthropologie, we actually had a rather fortuitous trip there earlier that day. My sister and I dropped in, promising that we wouldn’t buy anything this time.  But the laws of nature is what it is, and we ended up picking up a few small things.  First, we got these perty perty napkins at $7.95 a pop.  Perty isn’t a word, by the way.  Unless you were reared in Texas.  Then our cashier got distracted by the busload of tourists who were doing an invasion of the store.  She, in turn, forgot to ring us up for the dresser knobs, saving us roughly $15.  And there may or may not have been some tights and a few small, very small clothing articles purchased as well.  The branch-like hooks are actually from Anthropologie’s sister store, Urban Outfitters.  They were marked at $12 per hook in-store, but 2/$20 online.  I mentioned this difference in price and the cashier gave me the hooks for the online price, saving me $4. That’s coffee money.  Or a taxi ride halfway somewhere.

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And here is the new home for my perty perty napkins, a book on housekeeping from the 60′s (hilarious) and some colorful (clearance) finds from Fishs Eddy.

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Kitchen (front view) “After”.  To put up fabric around the outlets and grates which were in this kitchen, I first removed them.  A screwdriver should be enough to take out the outlet plates and grate cover.  Pinpoint exactly where the outlet/grate hole is in relation to the fabric.  Cut out a rectangular piece in the fabric that is slightly smaller than the outlet/grate hole itself.  Then replace the outlet and grate cover.  The fabric should be held taut by the time you finish screwing in the covers.

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Here’s a picture of the kitchen’s vintage grate before the fabric treatment.  I’ve actually found similar grates like these in architectural salvage stores in Seattle for $50-$75.  Sadly, the dying lucky bamboo plant isn’t worth as much.  All the poor thing needed was a sympathetic hand to toss it into the trash chute.

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Here’s the same area but with fabric treatment.  These Pyrex glasswares were a great find during our road trip though New England, a few years back.  They were something like $10 apiece.  I thought the colors were nice so I used it as display, versus tossing them up in the cupboards to collect dust.

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When I said that the kitchen walls were made out of meth lab materials, I meant all but one wall.  There’s a wall to the immediate left that is not opposed to be painted or nailed upon. Here it is.

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I decided to keep the original white color to this wall, since I wanted to keep a color palette of white, burlap tan and black in the kitchen.  The bright accessories were there to add pops of color.  To add some black to this space, I took this old pre-printed artwork and some chalkboard paint.  Make sure to stir the chalkboard paint like crazy or else it’s not fully mixed.

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It took a few coats of chalkboard paint but here’s what came out of it.  Oh, I also trimmed the edges of the frame with pale yellow paint leftover from another project.  Then I hung up those branch hooks from Urban Outfitters.  You can use this chalkboard for anything though.  Doodles, menus, nail file.  You name it, it does it.

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View of the kitchen when I’m on my back, in the hallway.  A most natural position, I assure you.

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When the previous renter moved out, he left some treasures for my sister and I to play with. Here are two of our favorite goodies: lamps from Ikea.  He left us this short table lamp and its floor lamp twin.

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There’s really nothing special about the lamp as is, but I wanted to make it into a paper towel holder.  First, I took off the felt bottom.  It comes off pretty easily.  Then take a screwdriver and loosen the lightbulb socket up top.  There’s probably two or three screws in all.  And I hope you have enough sense to unplug that thing first.  If not, well…carry on. Once you loosen that up, cut the wiring completely off, replace the socket and glue it in with some heavy duty glue.  Paint the black socket a festive color of your choice, or not. I’m not one to tell people how to paint their paper towel holders.  Then place a roll of paper towels through the top.  Hold it into place by screwing in a lightbulb.  Just use one that’s already blown out.  Now you have a paper towel holder/art piece thing that’ll scare the plaid out of your hipster neighbors down the road.

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Since we’re still in the “Fun With Ikea Lamps” mode, here’s the other transformation.  This one had the same exact lampshade but was taller.  I decided to go Restoration Hardware meets Pottery Barn, inside of an Anthropologie store with this one.  Restoration Hardware is all about the deconstructed/industrial/I’ll-overcharge-you genre of design.  I personally love it.  Who needs a savings account in this day and age?  So with that in mind, I went on a deconstruction spree by tearing off the paper parts of the lampshade, leaving only the base metal exposed.

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You know those nautical rope lamps they sell at Pottery Barn?  They also sell the same ones at Anthropologie, but for twice as much?  Cause the cool kids don’t buy Pottery Barn anymore?  I kept those lamps in mind, then I went to Home Depot.  I grabbed some natural rope, about one centimeter around in thickness, and more E-6000 glue.  First, I tied a tight knot at the top of the lamp and glued it down with some glue.  Leave some rope at the end of the knot.

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Once I applied glue all along the pole of the lamp, I wrapped the rope around and around until it reached the base.  Then I glued the rope down to the base and added some safety pins where needed.  These were taken out when dry.  Here is my $10 rendition of the Pottery Barn rope lamp for $199, and Anthropologie rope lamp for $348.  You can add a lampshade if you’d like, but I think this wire frame is a bit more updated and significantly less seaside cottage-y.

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5 Days, $500, 248 sf NYC Apt…Go!: Day 1

I have a sister and she lives in a rabbit hole.  Seriously though, I’ve seen homeless people in Seattle with roomier sidewalk real estate property.  But the plus side of it all is that her Gramercy neighborhood apartment in NYC does have less dog poop.  Which is always a huge selling point, I’ve heard.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Manhattan landscape, this area is where Gossip Girls is filmed.  That meant nothing to me either.  My sister called me up one day and said, “I’m booking you a flight to NYC.  You’re redoing my apartment. Oh, don’t pack any clothes, you can just wear mine”. I responded, “OK.  Let me finish my everything bagel first”.  Fast forward to a few weeks later and I’m lugging around a suitcase filled with crafting supplies, undergarments and shoes through the streets of Manhattan.  If anyone were to look through my luggage, I would appear to be some sort of traveling hooker with a penchant for crafting.  An interesting visual, I dare say.  But below is a photo of the space I was working with.  It’s 500sf in all but the areas I worked on (bedroom/living and kitchen) were 248sf in total.  You know your parents’ garage that’s too small for the car so they use it as storage?  That’s just about the kind of space I had to work with.

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She pretty much gave me free range over decorating but did have a list of things she wanted me to remedy.  First was that she wanted window treatments.  This was so that her neighbor across the courtyard could stop intentionally peering in and then acting surprised every time she caught him in the act.  Second, she wanted to form two separate areas between her sleeping area and the living room.  Third, she wanted to spend as little as possible because cheap runs in our family.  And lastly, she wanted me to keep my flu viruses to myself.  I packed that along with me from Seattle too.  But here’s a quick rundown of the big furniture pieces my sister already had in her possession.

Chloe sofa: Half off from Macy’s during their holiday sale.  Always buy quality sofas and seating.  People look and sit on these things and can tell the difference.  Buy the nicer sofa (quality retailers always have sales, just be patient) or find a vintage one with good bones and have it reupholstered.

Black dresser to the left: $15 off of Craigslist.

Black vanity to the left: $20

Green dresser: $75 off of Craigslist

Light green table: $149 from an antique store in the Hamptons when we were there for Labor Day years ago.  This is a view of the main living space, if I stand on the bed and look down.

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So this was roughly how Day 1 went:

3:45- Alarm goes off in Seattle.

3:45- Turned off the alarm.

6:10- Made it to SeaTac airport after a two hour long game of “Silence My Alarm Clock”.  I lost.

7:10- Pretended to fall asleep so that I didn’t have to talk to the person next to me for the next 5.5 hours.

3:40 (switch to EST now)- Landed at JFK.

4:20- Finally arrived at my destination after a 40 minute train ride in which I had to listen to a woman talk about the benefits of having leg hair in the winter.  I tend to agree.

5:30- Ate the best chicken meatballs ever at Penelope’s.

6:30- Left Penelope’s.  Briefly considered changing clothes and going back in for some more chicken meatballs.  Decided against it for reasons I’ve categorized as “public appearance of sanity”.

7:00- Entered Home Depot.  Left Home Depot 30 minutes later with a gallon, quart and three samples of paint plus painting supplies.

8:00- In bed, portioning out my Ricola cough drop supply.  Declared to my sister that artsy fartsy people don’t create if awoken before sunrise.  So the official Day 1 didn’t start until Day 2.  Let me know if that confuses anyone.

Okay, so on the official start day, I began by painting the apartment.  My sister has a lot of random things.  All colorful.  And most have been around since her college years.  My whole goal for the apartment was to edit her home to make it look less like the ramen noodle college years and more like the current days of “Mario Batali, are you sure those noodles are al dente?”.  So, I thought I would bring together all of her colorful possessions with Glidden’s “Pebble Grey” hue in a matte finish.  I opted for a bright white Behr color for the trim and bookcases.  When in doubt, go for a subtle hue.  You don’t want to be stuck with a bright red wall a la 2002.  That’s just tragic.

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I’ve been painting walls freehand ever since I found out that painter’s tape and I really don’t understand one another.  It never works for me.  I’ll teach you how to paint without painter’s tape in a later post.  Plus, it saves you time and money in the long run.

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This 1966 apartment is in an amazing post-war building so it has great features like built in bookcases.  The bookcases themselves are fantastic.  The orange-y wood grain finish? Not so much.  I ended up painting the whole thing white.

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While the paint was drying on the walls and bookcases, I went to Paper Presentation on 18th Street for some scrapbook paper.  I cut the paper to the bookcases’ backing measurements and attached it all together with some two-faced tape.  This was my answer to a temporary “wallpaper” since it can be peeled and discarded when the move out date nears.

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And here is half of the bookcase after a few coats of paint and my faux wallpaper treatment.

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My sister has some books.  Mainly ones she’s stolen from my collection and has yet to read or return.  But either way, to make the books more cohesive (for some reason, there were way too many hot pink book covers happening), I rounded up all paper shopping bags and scrap paper she had, to re-cover the books.

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They turned out pretty well, especially the books I wrapped in Anthropologie bags.  The metal grommeted bag makes for a pretty cute cover if you cut off the red and white fabric handle.  Save that too.  You can use it to wrap up small gifts.  You’re welcome.

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It didn’t take long to re-cover my sister’s collection of permanently “borrowed” books so after, I started to look for more things to redo.  My eyes fell upon this jewelry box that she’s had since high school.  A gift from a close friend of hers, there wasn’t anything wrong with the box.  I just thought it would look even better with a coat of Behr’s “Antique White” paint.  Here’s the “Before”.

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And here’s the “After”.

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While waiting for that to dry, I went thrifting with my sister.  Now, I always hear, “There’s no good stuff at the Goodwill and Salvation Army in NYC”.  There are amazing things but most people just don’t feel comfortable shopping amongst crazy homeless people.  I couldn’t care less.  The best thing about shopping at the Goodwill in NYC is that since its clientele is mainly homeless people, they have no need to buy housing goods.  They all flock towards the combat boots section and cargo pants rack.  New Yorkers have it easy.  In Seattle as well as Austin, I have to battle for deals amongst rich hippie people who try their hardest to look poor so as to not look like sellouts.  But here are the goods I found while shopping at thrift stores and Fishs Eddy on Day 1:

Goodwill NYC: Glass lamp base ($13.49), wine rack ($2.99) and 2 terra cotta pots the cashier forgot to charge us for.

Fishs Eddy: Glass cake stand plus dome ($11.97) which was 30% off for having a small defect and an avocado green porcelain colander which was on sale for $9.98.

I went home and immediately placed the moss my sister had collected from Seattle’s Lopez Island inside the cake stand plus dome for an instant terrarium.

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Also from Goodwill are these plaster medallions and etched tile that I purchased for $2.69 each.  The books piled on top of one another are from a thrift store called Vintage Thrift. $21.23 for the whole lot.  The big blue book was a Salvation Army find for $4.99.Image

Goodwill also provided us with cute knickknacks like these porcelain jars which were .89 cents and $1.97.  The green candleholder was $1.98.  Tell them you’re a college kid for the 10% discount, even if you’re not.  Worst they can do is say “No” and they never do. Anyhow, the huge spools of thread are from Housing Works.  The two bigs ones were $10 each, the small one was $5.  If you’re ever in NYC, go there.  Great cause (AIDS charity) and even greater finds.

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And (finally), here are the Bookcase “After” pictures:

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The other side “After” pictures.  Oh, I also made that mint shelf to the top left from a drawer I found at Butler’s Antique’s in Fort Worth years ago.  For $5, it was a steal.  I used scrapbook paper to detail the backing and added some interesting metal brackets and hardware.

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Doo-doing The Bathroom, Hallways & Patio

The bathroom.  People spend a lot of time in here alone.  You, your guests…the maintenance man who’s there to unclog your drain, and tell you that you need to cut your hair short so that he doesn’t have to unclog so often.  I mentally fired him but it hasn’t happened in real life yet.  I’ll let you know when it transpires.  But with the sort of friends and family I have, I know they’ll be snooping through my bathroom cabinets unsupervised, so I’ve developed a guideline on How To Impress Your Guest While They’re Peeing.  You might want to bookmark this.  You won’t learn this sort of stuff from Martha Stewart.

How To Impress Your Guest While They’re Peeing

  1. Your toilet paper choice is a direct reflection of your income and social standing.  Choose wisely.
    1. Seventh Generation: This is the recycled toilet paper of choice for hipsters/hippies who pray at the alter of Whole Foods.  My fiancé used to use this brand until I pointed out that their toilet paper division is based on the phrase, “There’s softer bathroom tissue out there, but ours does more”.  If you buy this brand, you’re going to have to keep the wrapper on the rolls so that your guests know that you are an Earthlover with disposable income.  Without the wrapper, I’m afraid your guests will assume that you stole toilet paper from the airport because in all honesty, there is no difference between the two.
    2. Quilted Northern Ultra Plush:  This toilet paper says the buyer is a person with a substantial savings account and marinated gourmet olives in the fridge. Nothing impresses a guest more than the quilted look.  You have arrived my friend, congratulations.
    3. Singly-ply tissue:  Quickest way to not have any return houseguests.  No one wants to have poor friends with debt issues.
2.  Choose your magazines and newspapers wisely.  I subscribe to The New York Times just so that my guests can think I’m educated, worldly and can’t finish the Saturday crossword puzzle.
3.  Hide your makeup unless you want your $43 Laura Mercier foundation to be half empty, and your Maybelline $2 lipgloss undisturbed but the subject of a text sent from your guest to a mutual friend that goes “I can’t believe she uses grocery store makeup…ew”.
4.  You may want to do a little pruning of your medicine cabinet. You lose friends with herpes medication, you gain friends with some manic pills.  Those people are fun.  Half of the time.
5.  Finally, keep your bathroom clean.  Seriously.  Clean it.  You’ll keep more friends that way.  Trust me.  Here’s the “Before” picture.
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Bathroom “After”. I added the medicine cabinet to provide extra storage. The towel rack on the left is actually a piece of driftwood I took from Discovery Park. Apothecary jars are used as storage for bar soaps and supplies. I also have an antique shaving kit and English dairy bottle on the counter if you look closely enough.

Cost:

Medicine cabinet: $89 (Home Depot, my second favorite store after Goodwill)
Apothecary jars: $8 for 2 (Austin Goodwill)
English dairy jar: $8 (Butler’s Antiques in Fort Worth, TX)
Shaving kit: $Free.99 (Fiance’s mom’s storage unit)
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Bathroom “After”. I made a toilet paper holder by buying a plain wooden box from a craft store, painting it grey and attaching fabric and frame to the front. The photos up top are ones I’ve collected over the years from garage sales and thrift stores. The magazine rack was bought at a Goodwill in Austin.

Cost:

Wooden craft box: $5 (Michael’s, buy and stock up when they’re 50% off)
Magazine rack: $6 (Austin Goodwill)
Photos: 99 cents apiece (Austin Goodwill)
Frames: $4 apiece (Austin garage sales)
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Bathroom “After”. One of my favorite pieces, this side table was a wedding gift to my fiance’s great great grandmother. It requires weekly applications of lemon oil since it’s fairly fragile due to years of neglect but it works well as a towel and hamper storage for the bathroom.

Cost:  Free

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Bedroom Hallway “After”. The chair was purchased from Goodwill at $12.99 and reupholstered with a yellow/grey starburst pattern. I found these old frames at flea markets, repainted them and added scrap bits of wallpaper to the border and then hung them up. The front one is off iron hooks from the ceiling and has sheer fabric attached to the back. The walking stick to the right was handmade in Cambodia. The basket underneath is full of yarn…so this is really my knitting area complete with the old person’s walking stick.

Cost:

Chair: $12.99 (Austin Goodwill)
3 Frames: $17 (Flea market in Fort Worth, TX)
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Hallway “After”. Not much going on here since I like to keep the entryway clutter-free but to the left is a shoe cupboard I’ve outfitted with interesting knobs. To the right is a handcarved chair I found for $8 that dates back to the 1940′s.

Cost:

Ikea shoe cupboard: $150
Dresser knobs: 6 at $8 apiece (Anthropologie)
Chair: $8 (Austin garage sale)
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Patio “Before”. This is the smallest patio I’ve ever seen but also one of the fewest ones seen in Seattle. Most places here don’t have a patio. People go sit in the woods, with their tops off, singing campfire songs when they want to sit outside.  Oh, that’s my dog, Mo. She goes topless all of the time.
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Patio “After”. I’ve planted fuchsia (correct spelling, I swear), sweet potatoes, strawberries, peppers, basil, lemongrass, rosemary, foxgloves, maidenhair, lavender, hydrangeas, delphiniums, sage…the tricky part was mounting the planters to a solid metal wall. My fiance figured out how using those metal bars and some brain power. The sign between the planters was taken from Colorado State Park during our first camping trip.

Cost:

All plants: $75 (Home Depot, Ravenna Gardens)
Planters: $80 (Home Depot and Seattle Goodwill)
Soil: $12
Outdoor seating: $300 (Pier 1 Imports)
Outdoor pillows: $21 (30% off at Pier 1 Imports)
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This is a vintage sewing table that no longer works.
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I unscrewed the machine from the table and hacked off the bottoms…
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…to make an outdoor table/cooler (since the top opens up). The milk rack on top is an antique one I bought from Goodwill for $1.99. I used it to display some mossy plants. You can’t really see but behind the chair is a planter that I made from upending a coffee table that I made when I was 17, lining the inside with coffee burlap bags and filling with soil and plants. You can see a better picture of it in the photo right before this one. It’s in the far left corner.

Cost:

Sewing table: Free (Given)
Milk rack: $1.99 (Austin Goodwill)
Mossy plants: $8 (Home Depot)
Dog: Not Free
Total Cost: $859.96 for all three areas.
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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