taking something old... making something new.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A real bedroom set, resurrected

As I am now a married woman, I need a real bedroom set for our bedroom. I bought a fabulous old door of Craigslist months ago with the intention of turning it into a headboard someday. I still have every intention of fulfilling that dream, but realistically, it will be a lot of work and I don't have the time. However, I did have this great vintage bedside table and a white pottery barn bed I inherited from my sister. The bed was in my nephew's room. He now prefers to sleep with his mattress on the floor and have bookshelves made of cardboard these days so he took his bed apart and put it in the basement while my sister was taking a nap (he's 11). While it was well-loved, it was super sturdy and still in great shape. All the walls in our room are white, so I wanted to paint it to make it stand out.
Last weekend, while Bart was away on a climbing adventure, I went to work painting it my new favorite color--grey. I painted the bedside table and added new pulls as well. Love the result. I must say, I miss my husband madly when he's gone, but boy do I get productive!
I made the curtains, duvet and lampshade, got the pillows at Target, and made the starbursts on the wall out of rolled-up magazine pages.

I'm not really sure if anyone reads this blog anymore, but just in case there is someone out there. I should be posting more soon. I've been asked to decorate for a Gala for a local non-profit organization, One Day's Wages. The Gala is November 10 and I've got a very small budget to work with, so it's time to get creative. I'm working with my friend Kristin and we've got some great ideas up our sleeves. The gala is supporting a great cause and all who live in the area are welcome to attend. Check it out!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


It's been a busy summer. We bicycled around Spain for three weeks for our honeymoon and afterward spent a week in Wyoming with my family. Needless to say, I haven't had much of a chance to do as many projects as I'd hoped so I've done a few small things here and there....and that includes LAMPS for our living room.
I got this great lamp on sale from Fred Meyer--very simple grey/white though it had a very boring white shade. To dress it up, I pulled out my trusty glue gun and covered it in a beautiful yellow fabric. Love it.
Now for the gem... I got this lamp at a thrift store for $11. I immediately fell in love with the base, and thought that it had some great potential in my living room. The lamp base with the shade was a bit too retro for me, so I ditched the shade and found a great purple shade from World Market.
Unfortunately, the attachment for the shade didn't work with the lamp so I had to buy some pieces at Home Depot to help extend the height of the lightbulb so the shade can fit.
Viola! A lovely new lamp for under $50!

Style Me Pretty

Just another update, and then I'll stop talking about the wedding, I promise.. My photographer submitted our wedding pictures to a sweet wedding blog and they featured us, check it out!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

wedding pictures

I am so excited. My photographer finally posted pictures of our wedding. She took so many incredible photos--and definitely made everything look more beautiful than it felt at the time :) I don't have the photos for download yet, but I can direct you to the post link.

Click HERE and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

heirloom pillow

I made this pillow a while ago, but haven't had the time to really sit down and blog about it. Or rather, it wasn't part of wedding preparations, so I saved it for later and just realized that I hadn't posted it yet. Originally, this was a hand-stitched tapestry that my grandmother (on my mom's side) made years and years ago. Up close, it is incredible. The thread she used is thick and wooly and there are so many subtle details that give it depth. I'm sure it must have taken her a long time.This hung on our wall in a picture frame at home for as long as I can remember. It was one of those parts of your house that you never look at because it's been there for so long, and I remember even thinking that it looked old and tired because it had just always been there. One summer when I came home from college, I rediscovered it as my mom was going through the house getting rid of old things. I think this was the first time I really looked at it and fully appreciated the craftsmanship that went into it. I decided that it was not getting the appreciation it deserved, so I asked my mom if I could have it. She is a practical woman and not prone to being incredibly sentimental about items, so she said yes. I made it into a simple A-line skirt. The front of the skirt was of course the tapestry, while the back was out of a darker green silk shantung. Wish I had taken a picture of it, it was really quite unique. The only problem was that in the last 10 years, I wore the skirt perhaps twice. 1. Because it was difficult to find something to wear with it that could complement without competing, and 2. Because it was very very uncomfortable and itchy. The thread used is wool, I think and even with a lining and a slip, it drove me crazy and kept me itching the entire time I wore it. This spring, as I moved my things into our new house, I rediscovered the skirt and knew that this piece needed to be appreciated once again. I love pillows and knew it would fit perfectly within my home. I backed it with this beautiful teal-blue stretch velveteen and used the same fabric for a piping around the edges of the print. It's wonderful to have a little piece of Grandma Laird in my home.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I bet Kate Middleton will never spraypaint shelves

I'm not usually one to obsessively follow Hollywood couples or english royalty, but I did check out William and Kate's wedding on Friday. Perhaps it's because I'm still on a high from my own wedding and really wanted to see Kate's wedding dress (which I absolutely loved.) They really looked happy and I loved the way William would steal glances at Kate during the ceremony and exchange coy looks with his brother. They really did look blissfully happy and it reminded me of my own blissfully happy wedding a mere three weeks ago. So needless to say, love was in the air, and William and Kate were on my mind this weekend as I set about the daunting task of organizing and cleaning the post-wedding mayem in my sewing room. I sent husband away for the weekend so I could tear apart the house and clean to my heart's desire. I started by taking apart the shelving unit I bought off craigslist a few months ago. These are pretty heavy duty industrial shelves and they looked the part so I decided to spray paint them white to make them look a little daintier--if that's possible. As I sat outside in my bare feet and sweat pants, spraypainting second-hand shelves and thinking about the royal wedding, I started to wonder what life would be like for the Duchess of Cambridge. I'm pretty sure she'd never have to find couches off the side of the road to re-upholster or buy $7 chairs at Value Village for her kitchen. And I'm pretty sure that after the wedding, she won't spend the next three weeks cleaning up after it. The funny thing is, I don't mind. I actually feel a bit sorry for those born into that sort of privledge. I love that I can take apart an old couch and put it back together, that I can find use in somebody else's discarded wares, and that I can enjoy the satisfaction of cleaning and organizing my own home. Growing up in a large family, I was raised on garage sales, hand-me-down clothes, and thrift store prom dresses. I've learned so many useful skills and enjoy every minute of creating and the mess that comes with it...

And here is the result of all my musings. A before shot of the chaos in the sewing room post-wedding: And now, after a weekend of organizing and painting. I am now ready to create again. Don't those shelves look dainty?

Thursday, April 14, 2011


(Agata, thanks for the picture, I hope you don't mind my using it!)
After eight busy months, it's hard to believe that my wedding is over and I'm a married woman! I love marriage and love Bartek even more. It is such a wonderful feeling to wake up next to my best friend every morning. He is such a wonderful man and is so good to me. I really couldn't be happier right now.

The wedding was all I had hoped for. The flowers were stunning (my sisters did them), food was incredible (my caterer was Craig Skinner--I highly recommend him!), the bluegrass band ($4 Shoe) delightful, my photographer (Stephanie Haller) a dream, and I got to spend the day surrounded by all the people I love! The weather even held out and the sun peeked out a bit as I walked down the aisle.

Of course all wedding days have to have their hiccups. We had only two (that I know of). My sweet nephew Isaac broke his arm on the zipline (though from what I hear, he is now PROUDLY sporting an awesome new cast) and Bartek's car completely died 30 miles up the highway on our way to Canada for our honeymoon. Luckily, sweet Micah, Leslie, and Molly saved the day and drove my car up so we could keep going while they drove back with the tow truck driver!

I will post pictures as they come...and as I get them. But for now, Stephanie Haller has posted some teaser pictures on her blog.

This blog is not over now that the wedding is over. Even though I don't have a wedding to plan, I've got a home to decorate. I still love finding old things and making them new.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

my shower

I must say that I am truly blessed to be surrounded by and related to some of the most gifted, generous people. My sister-in-law Lisa and dear friend Barb threw me the most beautiful bridal shower today, despite their incredibly busy lives. (With the valuable assistance of Lisa's mom Annaley, my sister Micah, and another friend Natalie!) I could not have asked for a more perfect shower. Lisa put so much thought into every detail, making it something that was so special.

Barb coordinated the food and made it all with the help of Natalie and Micah. It was so delicious! We had assorted breakfast delights like eggs tarragon, oven-baked french toast, and a delicious potato and ham casserole. We also ate bacon-wrapped green beans, stuffed mushrooms, fruit kebabs, banana choclate muffins and Natalie's famous chocolate truffle cookies. It was delectable.

The table settings were gorgeous...complete with burlap table cloths (which I plan on using for my wedding, turquoise vases with yellow flowers (my favorite color combination right now... and sun filtering through the windows. It was all so elegant and natural-looking.

This was incredible... because I am a lover of the outdoors, Lisa wanted to create a "field of flowers" going up the staircase. She and Annaley spent hours perusing antique stores for these incredible bottles for the gorgeous flowers she bought. It was breathtaking.

While driving near her house, Lisa and her mom saw some men trimming trees so they stopped and snagged some branches which they spray painted my favorite shade of blue! These branches were hanging from the ceiling above the food. I wish my camera could capture the whole shot, because it was stunning! We plan on getting married in Ashley's garden area under this incredible arbor. I'm going to hang this from the top right above where we stand.

Lisa had this flower centerpiece made and it was incredible. Not only are there gorgeous pink and yellow roses, it has different vegetables and fruits interspersed. Red cabbage, tomatillos, purple and orange cauliflour, plums, kiwi, red grapes, and limes. I am going to see if Lisa can recreate this for my wedding as well.

The Crown Jewel of the day was the wedding dress. Lisa borrowed my dress form and used pictures from wedding magazines to create a beautiful gown. Annaley spent three days putting this together and she has the burns and pricks on her fingers to prove it! I'm hoping that it will stay in good shape for the next three weeks so I can make this part of my photobooth. I don't think my pictures do it justice!

One of the things I love about Lisa is how thoughtful she is. She takes care of all the little details that really make you feel special. She found this print by a Polish artist (Bart is polish). She picked it because she thought that it looked like me and it does! It actually looks like someone painted me. This was such a special day, and the ladies I was able to spend it with were so special. Overall, a great day. It makes me more and more excited for my wedding...coming up in three short weeks!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Baby Shower

I understand that the nature of this blog has changed over the course of its life, and I'm not exactly focusing on wedding plans. But that could be because wedding plans have been shelved for the past week or so to throw a baby shower for my dear friend, Teri. She's pregnant with twin boys, so I had fun creating some home-spun decorations for the shower.

The circular garlands at the top were cut from a massive pile of scrapbooking paper I had and I sewed them together in long lines on my sewing machine. For the banners, I backed fabric with freezer paper, cut each piece to 8.5x11" and ran them through the printer. Then cut the flag shapes and bound them with bias tape. The yellow polka dot came from a thrift store sheet and the blue (stripe) came from a super clearanced Target dress I wore for a bit and then retired to my fabric scrap bin.
As I don't typically enjoy traditional baby shower games (does anyone, really?) I opted for a project for guests to participate in. Our friend Natalie bought and collected a variety of onesies she found from a second-hand store and I pulled out various fabric scraps from my bin. I backed all the scraps with wonder-under and cut them into 5" squares. I had an assortment of suitable pictures for guests to choose from (elephant, monkey, spider, seahorse, etc...) Guests then taped the picture over the fabric, cut it out, removed the backing and ironed it on! This was such a great activity that everyone could do regardless of artistic ability! They turned out sooo cute!Lastly, I had a little practice run for my wedding dessert table. I created all sorts of cake platters and food stands using an assortment of vintage plates, teacups, goblets, and candlesticks I've collected from thrift stores. I stacked plates on top of the candlesticks or goblets and created unique, multi-tiered platters. To keep them from toppling, I used glue dots to hold them in place. The glue dots work great for this as long as everything remains on the table and you don't move them. I like this better than gluing them permanently because this way I can mix it up next time, not to mention, they are much more efficient to store.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Midwinter Break Part IV Birdcage Veil

To cap off a lovely and productive week, Micah and I got together to make me a birdcage veil. Actually, Micah made it for me while I sat unpicking the seams in my wedding dress. Micah is incredibly talented at making beautiful hairpieces. We spent our morning driving through the maze that is Seattle to find Nancy's Sewing Basket in Queen Anne. This is a great little fabric shop that has beautiful fabrics and accessories. We picked out some beautiful silk flowers, feathers, felt, and birdcage veil netting.
As I sat in the couch unpicking the stitches on my dress, Micah spent an hour arranging and rearranging the feathers and holding them up to my head until they were perfect.
Once it was how she wanted it, she glued it together with a hot glue gun. We had enough flowers for two, so she went ahead and made both so we could see what we wanted once I had my dress on. We'll add the veil later as well once I know how my hair will be styled. I am so happy with how these turned out and wish I could wear both!

Midwinter Break Part III Green Chairs

This is yet another piece that I will use both in my wedding and at home around my breakfast table. I found a set of four of these chairs at Goodwill for about $6 a piece. They are extremely well-built, unique chairs and they're actually made in Poland! Since Bartek is from Poland, that warmed my heart and I knew that I was simply meant to find them.I love bright colors, and I love fabric, so I decided to join forces and use this amazing Amy Butler upholstery print I found. I could only afford about a half a yard, so I thought that this would be a great way to use the fabric.
After painting the chairs an apple green, I used the heavyduty modpoge to attach the fabric to the seat of the chair!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Midwinter Break Part II Le Couch

Okay, so this part of my midwinter break has nothing to do with the wedding, other than it has been looming on my "to do" list for ages and I wanted it done before the wedding when everyone wants to see our house. Before I begin the journey, however, I must apologize for the poor quality of pictures. They're so grainy. I must have had the settings to low quality...not sure.When I lived in Salt Lake, I lived with my dear high school family friend, Jennie. Jennie used to go running in the Avenues every morning and would often come home with some sort of great piece of furniture she found left on the street corner for people to pick up. She got this beauty on one of her runs. The original fabric was the turquoise you see peeking out under the tan cotton that she used as a slipcover for the couch. It was a well-loved couch in our house and took Jennie into marriage. Upon moving from SLC and graduating to "real" married furniture (aka. actually buying it from a store--I'm not there yet, hopefully some day) she bequeathed her beloved couch onto me. This couch sat for two years in Micah's and my little house on the prairie in our "TV watching room." The cushion on it soon became so lumpy and mishapen that when I put this beloved piece into storage, the cushion didn't make it. The couch then sat in storage for six months while I awaited my wedding. And now it was ready for a makeover. How I love furniture makeovers.

Removal of the slipcover reveals the original fabric. Beautiful fabric, but very worn out. The shape of this couch, however, is so elegant and unique!

My next step is to remove the fabric from the couch. This is an important step because I use the old fabric as a pattern for the new fabric. This also gives me a chance to work backward and see how the couch was put together. Let me say, they definitely made QUALITY couches back in the day. This couch was incredibly well put-together which meant that it was a bit of a beast to take apart. (Sidenote: I had to add this picture of me so you can see what a scrub I am when I'm working on my projects. I'm surprised that Bartek still wants to marry me. He gets to see me after days of not showering or changing out of my pajamas. Good man, that Bartek).
Removal of the fabric covering reveals the fatty insides of the couch. This can always be a bit scary, because when foam gets old and dried out, it is gross! It literally crumbles when you touch it. Luckily, this couch was in great condition! The foam is a little discolored, but that's the nature of foam--new foam can look that way when exposed to light. I was grateful that everything looked good underneath.

From here it's the fun part. Now I work backward and start adding my new fabric in the opposite order that I removed it from the couch. As I said before, I use the old fabric pieces as patterns for the new fabric.
Once the couch itself was covered, I bought foam cushions fromt the fabric store and covered them.
Voila! Mission accomplished! I'm in love with this couch. I got the fabric from Hancocks on the upholstery flat fold section where they sell designer bolt ends. I got 12 yards of this on sale for $4 a yard. $48 baby! The foam cushions were the most expensive part at about $70 on sale 50% off, and with piping and thread, I came in with a brand spaking new couch at under $150 and about 20 hours of work. Not too shabby.

Midwinter Break Part I

I have been truly delinquent lately. Though it's not that I haven't been working...it is in fact, that I've been working so much that I have had too much to blog about so it's easier to just not blog. Now I've repented and I'm going to show you everything I've worked on the past few weeks. This last week was my mid-winter break from school and with the weather cold outside, it was a perfect reason to stay inside and create.

My break started off on a Friday with a wonderful party with my girlfriends and sisters. We got together, ate good food, chatted, and everyone helped me with wedding preparations. I regret saying that I didn't take any pictures because we were enjoying one another's company so much, but instead I'll show you a picture of some of the things we did, namely:
~assembled 150 pinwheel party favors
~put labels on 100 wedding bubbles and tied ribbons
~made loads of yarn pom poms for the flower girls to throw
~folded 100 cloth napkins and tied them with ribbon
~folded tissue paper for the dalia flowers
~caught up with old friends and made some new

It was a lovely evening and was so nice to get so much help! This saved me from countless evenings in front of the TV with my paper cutter and pom pom maker! Thank you, ladies!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

side table

Since it is an outdoor affair and the weather is sure to be beautiful, one of the visions I have for my wedding is to have various seating arrangements besides the typical round dinner table for people to sit and chat while watching someone play croquet. So here I am again, planning to use things that will work later in our house. A beautiful vintage sidetable. At my wedding, this will be placed between two brightly colored chairs (coming soon) on the lawn. After the wedding, this will go between our couch (coming soon) and armchair.
Our future house (Bart is living there now) is less than a mile from Goodwill. So I often sneak over there on the way to the house. I love looking for long forgotten pieces with incredible potential. This was one such beauty I found for $7. It has actually been sitting in our living room since Bart moved in and I figured its time to refinish it so he can stop questioning my taste! First I removed the ring from the bottom. It seemed unnecessary and was making it wobble.
Second task, sand down the top. The sides of the table have a strange laminate coating, but I could tell from the top (thanks to the incredible amount of wear & tear that underneath the shiny coating was some wood with a beautiful grain. This sanded beautifully, though unfortunately the ring around the edge was a wood facade and a piece of it chipped off, revealing whatever wood composite they used for the rest of the table.
After sanding it down, I simply put down 3-4 coats of black wood stain. I chose black because I wanted it to turn out a super dark black-brown color and I'm so happy with the result! It looks smashing with my purple lamp sitting on top.