Category Archives: Interior Design

I’m Back! And how to turn $10 into a custom light fixture

So I took a few months off of blogging. Creativity ebbs and flows – and the last couple months were more about getting along and less about craft projects and trying new recipes. We’re now in a new apartment – one that is bigger and in a great neighborhood, but has taken a little more elbow grease than the one before. I love a challenge, though! I had to pick my priorities, it’s a rental so changing EVERYTHING is out of the question. There’s a lot I will be blogging about in the coming months – how we painted the whole place for under $40, a massive kitchen update, and much more. One of the projects that has made the biggest impact is turning a boring and outdated dining room light fixture into a dramatic centerpiece. So here is the story of how I turned this:

Into this:

for $10!

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Crafting an Outdoor Oasis

patioOne of my favorite summer rituals is enjoying a chilled drink on a shaded patio, watching the setting sun coax the sky through its series of SweetTart colors. One of the many benefits of our new apartment is the patio – it has a lovely view of the hills, kept private by some strategically placed trees. Additionally, the bedroom is now large enough to store the bikes, which means the patio can be a place to relax instead of a place to store “stuff”. This weekend we put together the final touches – hung the curbside chandelier, installed a “bar” (which is really a 6′ shelf from Home Depot attached with a couple of brackets), and took care of the little mosquito problem with the ingenious Off PowerPad Lantern.

Then an impromtu visit to a garage sale landed us with these impulse buys:

pepper plant

tomato plant

While we’re pretty excited to be growing what appears to be a plentiful pepper crop and… well… two decent tomatoes, we also really have no idea what exactly it is that we’re growing. Are any of you readers gardeners? Could you help me identify these varieties? The peppers are a light yellow, turning purple in areas, with small white blossoms. The tomatoes, well I suppose I don’t care too much about the variety, but I would welcome any advice as to how to get the plant to produce more fruit, I have one large tomato, one smallish one, and one flower bud that seems to have a tiny baby tomato coming out – but the few other buds just have some dried strings coming out of the middle, no fruit.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

New Sofa!

Today we went shopping for a sofa. This is a big deal because it is, in fact, the first piece of furniture I’m buying that isn’t a hand-me-down, second hand, Craig’s List, DIY, or damage sale deal.

It’s a beautiful, custom sofa that no butts have ever sat on other than our own. We won’t have the real deal for 8-10 weeks, but I do have a lovely computer-generated mock up to show you. Behold, the Berkeley sofa by Rowe:sofa
The fabric is a lovely deep grassy/moss green chenille that feels velvety soft without the shininess or boudoir-ness. Button tufted tight back, and warm wood base that will look great with the pine apothecary tables we’re inheriting from my parent’s recent downsize. It’s masculine and modern, yet soft and blends well with more traditional and eclectic pieces.

I decided last week that we needed a green sofa. It’s easy to get carried away with the neutrals in a home – they’re easy, they mix well, they’re not too much of a commitment to one style or trend. But you really do need a good “pop” of color, and if painting the walls is out of the question (woe to the apartment dwellers), then a bright piece of furniture can really do the trick. I’ll share pics of the new apartment and furniture as soon as it’s all in place (and thanks for reading my ‘yay new furniture!’ outburst)!

Refinishing an Antique Table

A few years back, I was lucky enough to stumble upon an incredible Craigslist deal – an antique mahogany drop leaf table with four matching chairs for under $100. Unfortunately, when I got the table home I realized it had more problems than the original owner had revealed. While the style was exactly what I wanted, the table top finish was in terrible shape. The original high-gloss shellac finish was now sticky, soft white puffy spots appeared at the presence of any condensation, and it was sentenced to life under a table cloth due to these problems. But the wood was beautiful, and I missed showing off the shapely legs. Here is how I restored the tabletop in under 4 hours and $50.





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DIY: Customize Store-Bought Slipcovers

I am not an expert seamstress, by any means. I can almost sew a straight line (almost), and this is enough to get me through most small projects. But the new kitty has really made a mess of our seagrass dining chairs, and they were in dire need of slipcovers, and my almost-straight-line-sewing prowess really wasn’t enough to get me through making custom slipcovers. The problem is, I really hate the look of poorly fitting covers. Here’s how I turned some generic store-bought slipcovers into semi-custom creations, with little more than a a few straight lines and some hot glue.

Before:                                                    After:
chair-before chair-after

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DIY: Thrift Store Lamp Makeover

lamps-finishedThis is an old project that came to mind as I was working on the chandelier. Buying nice, large lamps can get very expensive, but a big statement lamp makes a huge difference in a room. Or rather, a small lamp can look absolutely wimpy on a bedside table.

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DIY: Rustic Magazine Rack

final-mag-rackI like to have a place for all my things. Until today, I had not yet made a place for all the magazines I’m keeping around. I’m not a big magazine collector – but I do want to have a neat, organized location to store just a couple months worth (basically long enough for me to try all the recipes and read all the articles). I’ve always loved the vertical rod-and-slot system of storing newspapers at the library. The papers rested over a rod, then slide into a slot against the wall. It’s so space-efficient and tidy.

I had been turning this idea over in my head for a couple weeks when, on a walk with Kim, I stumbled upon a clearing full of fallen tree branches. Nice, relatively straight, plenty that were not too broken nor dry nor rotten. That’s where I got the inspiration for this organic-library hybrid magazine rack. I made mine fairly basic, but it would be easy to spray paint the twigs black first, or use a bolder colored twine to make it more interesting. You can also make it as long as you need – I’d love to see one going from the top of the door all the way to the floor!


  • Fallen branches – look for fairly straight ones, strong enough to hold a magazine without bending. Also avoid branches with black rot, a lot of worm holes, or any visible bug colonies living inside 🙂
  • Twine – I used 48 lb 3-ply jute, found in the jewelry section of a craft store. You’ll need about 4′ for each rod.
  • Small Hand Saw – borrow one from a friend, neighbor, or parent
  • Fine sand paper



  • Collect as many branches as you desire, plus a few extra (in case some break, or turn out to be rotted)
  • Use the saw to cut the branches down to size (about 18″)
  • Cut 4 pieces of twine – 2 for each side. For my 13-rod rack, I needed each piece to be about 12′.
  • Take 2 pieces of twine, hold together and fold in half. Wrap the end around your top rod, and tie a basic knot.
  • Tie another knot, then split the bunch into 2 and 2, sliding the next piece in between.
  • Repeat the double knotting, splitting, and knotting again until you get to the end of one side.
  • Wrap the ends around the last piece a few times, and tie the ends together
  • Repeat for other side, sliding the branches as you go to keep them centered. You want to make sure there’s at least an inch of stick outside the knot, so it doesn’t fall out of place.
  • To hang, insert nails through the top knot (under the first rod). Hammer in place. Make sure that the nails are in deep enough to keep it secure, even when tugging.
  • Hang your magazines on the rack by splitting the pages in half and lying it over one rod, then tucking the front section behind the next rod.
  • Do be warned that kitties think sticks and string are super fun.cats-playing