Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mossy Letters

Thanks again to Pottery Barn and multiple blogs, we have a new door decoration!  Pottery Barn is selling these mossy letters for $79.  But why spend that much when you can make it for $4?
Live Moss Letters
 I already had plywood that I cut to size to make each leg and stapled them to make our "K".  I bought the smaller package of sheet moss from the fabric store using my 40% off coupon for a total price of $4.  I wasn't willing to spend more for the largest roll of moss- figured I could make the smaller package work!
After the wood letter was formed, I cut and pieced the moss on the legs and stapled it on putting the staples on the back of the letter.  I used all of my moss with just enough for the letter to be covered on the front and sides.
Staple a ribbon on the back of the letter and hang!

If I find a cheap white satin ribbon, I will probably replace the current one (I already had that one) to give it a little more contrast.

From carpet to hardwood... our new stairs!

I saw an idea a few months back on a blog, Thrifty Decor Chick, where she had taken the carpet off of her stairs, stained the treads and painted the risers.  Given that our house is a very standard builder-grade home, we have carpeted stairs but I doubted that we would have anything of quality under the carpet to work with.  I inspected the stairs further by feeling through the carpet and found that we had bull-nosed treads...hmmm... maybe we do have more than plywood or something even cheaper for stairs!  Finally broke down and pulled up a little corner of carpet to see what was really under the nasty 10 year old carpet.  Well, there was no turning back... we now have a wooden staircase!

If you could have only seen the dirt and dust under the carpet!  It is so easy to keep the stairs clean now!
The following is an idea of the work, time, cost and lessons learned from the process!
1.  Expect it to take a few days- especially if you have kids and / or dogs.
Ripping up the carpet, the tack strips and padding took about 30 minutes.  Another hour was taken by finding and pulling up the staples and nails left.

The most painstaking task was scraping and sanding the treads to prep for the stain.  The treads were covered with paint overspray, spackling and debris from the builder finishing the walls before they installed the carpet.  Sanding took a few days of working on it for an hour or two at a time.  The worse part was trying to sand the paint that was at the edges of each tread.  A hand sander and a mouse sander helped but we still had some paint left that we couldn't remove without us going crazy! 

Once the stairs are cleaned of the paint/ debris, you need to sweep, wipe with damp rag, sweep and wipe again.  You need them to be as clean as possible!  Then you tape.  You will be taping a lot.  We went through one roll of Frog Tape.  (By the way, it is an okay tape but I didn't think it was much better than the blue tape.  Frog tape also sticks to itself and makes it harder to work with.)  I painted the risers first.  The taping and two coats of paint took about two naptimes (4 hours).  Let it cure a day or two then tape the risers so you can stain the treads.  I didn't tape the edges of the stairs (left and right sides) because I knew I would be painting those later.  
We stained the treads going bottom to top which took about 2 hours so we could go to bed while it dried.  MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED FROM THE FIRST FLOOR BEFORE BEGINNING!  That includes a hammer to close the stain jar, rags for cleaning messes, etc.  
A new staircase was waiting for us in the morning!  It was awesome seeing the stained stairs.  
It took about another one to two hours to touch up our mistakes on the paint and to paint the left and right sides.  
We did not put another coat of stain or poly on the treads since we liked the color and the stain had the poly mixed in.  We will probably do a poly coat later on to get a glossier look.  Right now they are matte.

2.  Be prepared for a mess!
 The sanding created dust.  Dust travels.  Close all the doors that you can.  Cover / remove what you can.  Try to seal off the area if possible.  Where a mask, old clothes and glasses.  
I am still finding dust in weird places.  Even in rooms upstairs that had the doors closed!  

3.  If you have dogs, they may not like the new stairs!
It took some time for our Great Dane to go up and down the stairs.  They are NOT slick.  They are a different feel and sound.  Our dachshund will not go up the stairs and will only go down if there is food to be eaten!

4.  They will be nosier.  
Our daughter likes the echo that has developed without the carpet to absorb the noise.  The dog's nails will click on them and footsteps will be heard.

5.  If you are obsessive compulsive, you may not want to do this!
The stairs are not perfect.  They probably would only be perfect if we replaced all the stairs!  We have some paint and stain bleed.  We still have paint on the treads but the darker stain covered them well.
Be reasonable about how "new" you can make these old stairs look.

6.  It will cost little but make a big impact!
We had to buy the following: Frog Tape, one container of stain, sand paper for Mouse and palm sander, hand sander to hold sandpaper to do the edges.  It was about $35 for everything.  We had white paint and most of the tools.  I also bought one piece of molding to continue the toe molding and the bottom of the stairs and to hide the edge of the carpet at the top.
We had to borrow the following:  a palm sander (1/4 sheet sander)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cheap Table Centerpiece

I'm sure you have seen all the fantastic tablescapes featured in catalogs, magazines and show homes.  When you look at your own table it can be daunting to think of ways to create your own cool tablescape that doesn't cost a fortune or take up the table making it unusable.   
Here are some ideas to dress up your own table.

1.  Look at a picture of a table that you like how it was dressed up.  What are the key elements that you like?  Do you have something similar to those things in any area of your house?  

2.  Use live plants or clippings from your yard (or someone else's with their permission).  House plants can be transformed just by transferring them into a new container that may work better with your dining room decor.  Simple clippings like budding branches and single flowers can make great statements as well as add some color.  

3.  Candles.  What else needs to be said?  Pick different heights to make it more interesting but try to stick with the same color palette.