I know I am not the only one who has taken up more biking during this pandemic. Lucas is now my height or a smidgen taller, so he has been riding my old bike, and I decided to take the … Continue reading
I can’t help drooling over pictures of gorgeous walk-in closets with romantic and glamorous touches. We gave up our walk-in closet when we created a fourth bedroom upstairs. I don’t regret this extra room, which was first a nursery and … Continue reading
With our recent renovation, we finished the basement and garage – yay! The garage entry gets used quite a bit when the boys are playing out back or running in after school, so I wanted to create a little mudroom area to corral their jackets and shoes. I especially love this project, because it’s made entirely with things we had in the house already!
I got the idea for turning a bookcase into a mudroom locker from Melissa at Polka Dot Chair, who did this great project using IKEA Billy bookcases. I was going to do the same thing, when I realized we had all the parts I needed at home.
I started with this big heavy bookcase I bought off Craigslist ages ago. I never want to move it again! I shifted the shelves towards the top and bottom – which was perfect, since the bookcase was already missing a shelf, and added hooks for coats and the dog leash. The hooks were from two over-the-door racks we were no longer using. I cut off the hangers and just screwed them in place.
The two baskets on top were also repurposed and fit perfectly, holding all the extra soccer cleats and other shoes waiting to be passed down from one brother to another. Finally, we’re lucky to have pretty mild weather here, so I don’t need my boots too often, and the space on top is the perfect place to store them for a rainy day – haha!
A bamboo doormat finishes off our garage entry!
I’d love to spruce up this area even more by painting the back of the bookcase and the door, but if you could see all the boxes that are half unpacked upstairs, you’d believe me that I’ve got bigger fish to fry!
I’ve been admiring felted wool bags and projects for some time now, and I was finally inspired to take the leap into felting after unearthing old sweaters and knitting wool at my parents’ place.
My first project was this felted basket that I’m using for my knitting projects. Steve calls this “Knitting Inception,” because of the knitting within the knitting… you know… well, there’s a reason we were meant for each other, and it may be because I’m the only one who appreciates his humor.
I used this pattern as a foundation for my basket. I wanted to make my basket larger, so I experimented with the dimensions.
To knit the base of the basket, I cast on 35 stitches of 100% wool “Iceland Lopi.” From that, I knit a square in garter stitch (about 45 rows) that is 14″ by 14″, leaving the stitches on the needle.
The next step is to pick up stitches from the other three sides of the square. I found it easier to pick up the stitches on separate knitting needles (or in this case, chopsticks!) and then join them as I knit the first row of the sides of the basket.
To create the sides of the basket, I continued to knit a large circle in stocking stitch, switching colors every 2-6 rows. I knit 14″ of stocking stitch and then cast off.
Now the part I was waiting for: felting! There are lots of tips on felting available, and I found a good summary of felting techniques on the Lion Brand website. I found I needed very hot water (used the “sanitize” cycle on my machine, after “hot” only partially felted the basket), and I preferred to felt the items loose, rather than in a bag, because I found that they felted more evenly.
As for proportions, I’m sure these will vary greatly with each wool and machine, but as a guideline, the garter stitch shrank to about 60% the original dimensions and shrank evenly in length and width. The texture of the garter stitch was still noticeable after felting. The stocking stitch shrank to 50% its original height – actually, even a little shorter because the top folded over. The width of the stocking stitch shrank to about 60% the original size. Overall, the basket held it’s shape very well.
The last step on the basket was to sew on handles. These are cut from an old scarf I found at my dad’s that was accidentally felted. Cutting into the felted material was the weirdest sensation – like defying a basic law of physics! I sewed on the handles using embroidery floss.
My sister asked if I’m pleased with my first felting project, and I am. It takes a little bit of letting go of expectations, because you can’t control the outcome that precisely, but I am happy with the result, and I’m using my new basket already!
I promise more felting ideas will be posted soon!
I have a serious thing for daybeds. There is something so primally cozy about curling up on a deep bed, surrounded by cushions.
Daybeds are practical, too. I have one in my craft studio, which is also our guest room. It’s a twin bed for our single guests, and there is a pop-up trundle below that can be combined with the main bed to make a king bed for couples and families.
When we added built-in closets to our master bedroom, they created a little alcove under the windows that was perfect for a window seat. Rather than a narrow bench, I decided to fill this space with a deep daybed, perfect for reading, napping, or lounging and taking in the view.
This space will also work out for those nights when a nightmare brings a little one into our room in the middle of the night… see, practical!
I considered building something myself, but I was nervous that that kind of project might never get done, with three kids running around. So, I did a lot of browsing and measuring to find ready-made materials that would fit together into an almost-built-in deep window seat and then added handmade touches with the pillows and storage boxes.
I found that three of these Closetmaid 3 Cube White Storage Benches filled the space almost end to end, leaving just enough room to access the electrical outlets on the walls at either end. The benches I bought are only 14″ deep, but I was able to add extra depth with some existing pieces boxes and shelves around the house, to create a luxurious 30″ deep daybed. To top it all off, I used two basic crib mattresses which fit perfectly across and provide great support. This Safety 1st Heavenly Dreams White Crib Mattress is reasonably priced and on the larger side (did you know crib mattresses were not a standard size?!), so it fills up the bench nicely.
Although I used benches out of a box and ready-made mattresses, this project has lots of handmade touches as well:
- seat cushion cover
- round bolster pillows and other decorative pillows – I used a variety of fabrics that capture the color scheme of the room – warm neutral gray with accents in red and turquoise.
- fabric-covered storage boxes – JJ is potty-trained now, except for overnight, and these are overnight diaper boxes, that fit perfectly inside the cubbies, with just a half inch trimmed from the top. I have complete instructions for these and other storage boxes in another post.
I’m beyond happy with out new window seat and am looking forward to enjoying many quiet moments here.
So, I’ve been a bit crazy for chairs this year…
First, I picked up this beauty at the antiques fair on New Year’s Day.
Then, I refinished these free Queen Anne chairs found through Craigslist…
And I went on to paint and reupholster our dining chairs…
Along the way, I could not resist these traditional Chinese chairs, also a deal on Craigslist.
Suddenly, I had too many chairs… and I still wanted a bench for our front hallway. Do you sense a solution here? I did!
While you could certainly get clever with carpentry and join chairs together in a number of creative ways (side by side in a row; on either end with a board in between; with two chair backs turned 90 degrees to make the ends of the bench, etc..), I didn’t want to permanently alter these chairs, since they are well-made and beautiful and might move on to a new purpose some day.
Instead, I chose to strap the chairs together and use cushions to give the feel of a single piece of furniture.
Strapping the chairs together
To make the chairs work together as a bench, I started by strapping them together. I used felt strips that were 2″ wide and long enough to wrap around two chair legs with 2″ overlap. I put straps at the back of the chairs, at the top and bottom of each leg. Measure the top and bottom of the legs separately, since they might not be the same width.
In the picture below,
- Because my felt was thin, I started by sewing two layers of fabric together. (top left)
- Then, I sewed velcro onto each end of the strip, as shown: the hook side on one end, and the loop side on the back side of the other end. You could use 2″ wide velcro, but I just used the narrower strips I already had and put two strips side by side. (top right)
- This is how the finished straps look with the ends joined. (bottom left)
- Here’s how they work on the chairs. These simple straps held the chairs in line pretty securely. (bottom right)
I took off the three separate chair cushions and added a single big one. After going around and around with all the options for fabric, I chose this textured fabric that has shades of blue, green, and grey in it. It ties together a lot of elements in the foyer and living room and doesn’t compete with the design of the chairs.
I added two bolster cushions in this really fun print: Barber in powder blue by Premier Prints. The technique for making the bolsters was detailed in the tutorial on sewing pillows. I used two, rather than three, to take attention away from the three separate chairs. I’m thinking of ways to use some more of this fabric on the living room that is right off the foyer.
Finally, I tucked these faux leather storage crates under the chairs for the boys to keep their school bags and library books, so these things don’t get lost.
Our new entry bench and storage system is working very well, and I like how it looks, too.
With a little bit of creativity, this “bench” has turned out to be a useful and attractive addition to our front hall. Now back to some other chairs I picked up for free on the side of the road…
I’m lucky to have a sister for so many reasons – she’s the one person with whom I can be completely myself and share all the funniest and saddest moments. As a fun bonus, little sis loves designer shoes, and I get the beautiful boxes!
Today is definitely TGIF. Work was busy this week, and I’m ready to shift gears for the weekend. Tomorrow is our school’s annual dinner, and I love the chance to get dressed up and enjoy some time with friends. I don’t get fancied up often, but I decided to paint my nails tonight and was reminded of how easy and fun it was to decorate this shoebox to organize my nail polish and accessories.
This box was already lined in that pretty metallic damask, but you could glue in a paper or fabric liner to any sturdy box. I used a ribbon and some stickers on the outside to cover up the printing, and now practical little me gets to feel girly and pink once in a while.
Another of my sis’ shoeboxes is in our living room. This time, I glued some scrapbook paper over the printing, and it’s ready for display. (Yes, putting photos in frames is on my to-do list!). The style of this box, with the attached lid and ribbon closure gave me the idea to cover some extra test kit boxes from work. Hope to show you that soon.
Okay, now go raid your (sister’s) shoe closet and create your next project!