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A Cushion for the Bench – Mudroom Reno Part 2

The time has come for the second installment in our massive mudroom makeover! This is all about my adventures (read: frustrations) at making a custom cushion for our new bench. I found some fun fabric at Ikea…actually it’s the red version of what Karlie used for those adorable pillows in her new kitchen nook. (I can’t wait to come visit and we can sit here and sip coffee and eat treats and discuss decor ideas!!)

First step was to track down the foam. I originally wanted a 4 inch thick cushion but man that stuff is expensive! Settling on 3 inch, I waited (not so patiently, I might add) for it to go on sale and still ended up spending $40 just on the foam. Good thing my fabric was so cheap! Just like how you buy fabric, they cut the length you need at the store but then you get to take it home and cut the specific dimensions yourself. Here’s my pile of supplies:

Those fun stripes, my foam, piping, and some dark gray fabric. You can actually buy this piping in a bunch of different colors but sadly not in a dark gray so I set about making my own. First you need to make bias tape…yes you can also buy this but it’s a good thing to know how to do when the specific color you want isn’t available, or piping with a fun pattern on it would be cute too!

You need to cut a bunch of strips on the bias (diagonally) that are wide enough to wrap around your piping. This is standard 1/2 inch piping so I cut my strips at an inch and a half. Cutting on the bias means the fabric will have a bit more give to it so when you’re sewing it in place on your cushion, there won’t be any pulling or bunching.

Measure around the perimeter of your cushion and add a couple inches to get the length of finished piping you will need. My cushion is 72 x 18 so I made mine 184 inches long. And remember, if you want piping on the top and bottom of your cushion, you get to do this twice! Pin the ends of two strips together at right angles and sew, continuing until you have your two very long strips.

Once you have your nice long pieces of bias tape done, simply wrap and pin it around the piping and then sew in place.

A zipper foot really comes in handy for this because you can get the needle so much closer to the piping.

Then it’s fabric cutting time! You need two identical pieces for the top and bottom, and then four pieces to go around the sides. Don’t forget to add seam allowances! Also, you need to think about how to get in and out of your cushion cover. I decided to make a big flap along the whole back side.

Because apparently I like to make things harder for myself, I decided I just had to have the stripes going ‘vertically’ rather than ‘horizontally’ but my fabric wasn’t long enough for that. So! I had to strategically cut and sew a couple pieces together. This means my measuring and cutting was a bit more specific and complicated than it really needed to be. So much so that I ended up mapping it out to ensure I would get all the pieces I needed cut out of my fabric. It was pretty close but I made it!

As you go about pinning in the next couple steps, I think it really helps to lay everything out on the foam to get it all in the exact right place. Pin the finished piping along the edge of your top piece, cutting up to (but not through) the stitching at each corner so it can bend and create a nice square corner.

When you get to where the ends meet, just overlap them and pin/sew in place and then trim off the excess.

Pinning and sewing corners and 90 degree angles while matching stripes is so fun! Please note the sarcasm here….

From now on, you need to fit and pin (and sew) everything inside out.

Lining up the stripes perfectly was probably my biggest struggle with this project.

I actually sewed half of the top together before checking and realizing it was a good 1/4 inch off. I know that doesn’t sound like much but it was way more noticeable than I was wanting. So yaye for seam ripping and redoing! I finally got the hang of it and they started matching up. So relieved! Here’s the top and sides put together; I laid this out on the floor…

…then put the foam on top and pinned my last piece in place.

Pinning while on the actual cushion will ensure a nice tight fit on your cushion cover. Then because I made a flap along the back, I just undid the pins holding the flap closed and slid the cover off to finish sewing.

All finished! Or so I thought. I didn’t realize until fitting it onto my foam that these giant flaps would keep it from fitting tight enough. It just looked so loose and sloppy.

Nothing a bit of velcro can’t fix! Actually, a lot of velcro.

Here we are – much better.

I just love these stripes! And the contrast of the dark piping.

It’s coming along…

We’re getting closer to the finish line every day and I am loving it more and more with each addition!

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Paint Chips – Mudroom Reno Part 1

One of my least favorite spaces when we bought our house was the “office.” It’s a small room full of built-ins located on the main level, towards the back of the house, kindof tucked away in the corner but it has no door. Just a gaping hole, meaning it didn’t quite make sense for Adam’s home office (that and the lack of space) so it was decided this would be a good craft and sewing area for me. I quickly realized the dis-functionality of this room while attempting to organize and set up shop. There used to be (!) a whole wall of cabinets reaching up to the 10 foot ceilings that were made even harder to access by the presence of a large L-shaped laminate desk directly below them.

Basically from the day we moved in up until about a month ago, this room unintentionally became the ‘junk room’. It got a little out of hand and was driving me crazy; so naturally, my mind started reeling with possibilities of how we could transform it to make it both more functional and pretty. I have a slightly overactive imagination and I love going into a space (yes, I do this in other people’s houses too…) and just letting my brain take over. I’m kindof proud that I can do this so easily – it’s like I can erase whatever is there and I just start seeing colors and themes and furniture and patterns and accessories and it all just keeps snowballing. I have always loved the casual coziness of mudrooms with cute coat hooks and storage benches; so once I started toying with the idea of this being a multi-functional space of entry/mudroom and craft room I was sold.

I honestly thought this would be one of the last projects we’d ever get to; it just seemed so daunting with all the built-in removal that would be involved. I should also mention that we are probably the two least handy people on the planet…another reason these big projects make me nervous. Not a clue what we’re doing…. But we sure had a lot of motivation – this room is the first thing we get to see when we come home since we enter from the garage instead of the front door. You walk in through the laundry room then there’s a half bath on the right and this little room straight ahead with the rest of the house (living/dining/kitchen/stairs up and down) off to the left and around the corner. Walking through the door and seeing a giant mess was getting old fast. How would you like to come home to this?

Not very welcoming. I don’t know what it was that gave us the kick in the pants to get started – but a couple weeks ago we decided to just go for it and starting tearing stuff down!

Of course we had to clear out the mess first. Here’s another look at what we were dealing with.

After a few hours of unscrewing and prying and yanking and a lot of sweating, it all came out! Naturally we were left with quite a few holes to patch and what fun is a renovation project without a surprise or two? Here’s a nice one…

The ends of that big L-shaped desk used to sit on top of some little cabinets and when we finally got everything out we were left with these lovely holes where they used to be. No carpet, no molding, no matching paint. Awesome. Luckily we have a lot of stuff leftover from the build that the last owners saved, like boxes of extra tiles and a big roll of carpet, and all the paint colors. So all we really had to do was cut some carpet and molding to fit. Yes, patchwork carpet is a little odd and someday we’re hoping to redo the floors in here completely, but my new plan for this room would cover these little corners back up just enough to where our fixes would hardly be noticeable.

Then as we’re rummaging in the basement for this room’s matching paint (which is the main color throughout the entire house), Adam goes and says this will probably be my only chance to repaint this room…ok let’s go for it!! Now, here’s a cool technique I just learned and applied and it worked amazingly! I wish I had known this when painting those stripes in our toilet closet! The concept is that you put your tape up and then take the old color and paint over into the new color space, let it dry, and then paint as usual. What happens is that if there’s any bleeding, it’ll be in the old color and not the new one. This blog gives an awesome and super detailed tutorial.

See how textured our walls are? LOTS of bleeding paint before this genius technique. Ready for the color we picked? I took some advice from Karlie about going a little more bold than I was comfortable with and we LOVE it! The color we chose is Rhythmic Blue by Behr in Semi-Gloss for easy cleaning. Little known fact: interiors are usually painted in flat with the exception of kitchens and bathrooms where walls need to be washed and still hold up. Good to know, huh?

Look how perfect that line is! I love how professional it looks. There was still a little bit of touching up to do but nowhere near as bad as the bathroom project.

This room is so light and airy feeling now. Already so much better, even with nothing in it!

Check out our carpet patch! Good thing there’s a giant bookshelf there now….

For Adam’s office upstairs we had bought one of these with the desk attachment a couple months ago and after some careful measuring it was discovered that it would fit in this room quite nicely. It’s a little crazy how perfect it fits actually, just clearing walls and doorways by a couple inches. And the cool thing is that they have these bookshelves in all different sizes. So back we went to get a skinny one to lay on it’s side to use for a bench under the window. And now we’re on the hunt again for a new desk for Adam’s office. Whoops!

After assembling and turning it sideways, this poor bookshelf bench seemed a bit short and dumpy…so we bought some little wheels at Home Depot and screwed them into the bottom. This is awesome for cleaning too, just wheel the whole thing out of the room to vacuum underneath it. Plus I really think it adds some fun.

Then we needed something to put in the cubbies to hold all our shoes (until now they would just pile up in the laundry room) so I found these crates at JoAnn’s and put a little stain on them and voila! Cute old looking crates!

Now, I bet you’re wondering what we did with all those cabinets…who cares, right?! I was all for throwing them to the curb but we’ve been trying to organize the tandem part of our giant garage without spending hundreds of dollars on fancy storage solutions and my clever husband suggested reusing what we’d just taken down. Some of the parts were a little….destroyed? Again, we’re not handy so we literally ripped some parts off the wall when we couldn’t get the screws out. But the majority of these cabinets were unharmed and look at all the storage we have in here now! And a workbench/table of sorts….

It’s not the most beautiful but it sure is better than the growing mess we had in here before. At least we can pretend to be organized now.

Next up, making a cushion for the top of this bench – big chunky red and white striped fabric with dark grey piping! Can’t wait to share the finished room – it’s almost there. Just a few accessories left to find and some curtains to hang….

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Works in Progress

Over the years, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am a severe procrastinator. Case in point, I meant to make this post over a week ago. Nice, huh? Growing up, I ALWAYS left my science projects and papers and semester long assignments until the absolute last moment. Like, to the point where I’d have to stay up more than half the night trying to scramble and finish. I was also the kid furiously studying at lunch and hiding my notes in unrelated textbooks  to prepare for a test that I’d known about well in advance. What I’m getting at is that I am super good at starting projects…but not so great at finishing them. I’ve been working on this little problem of mine for a while and I really think I’m growing up and getting better. Or maybe I just tell myself that….

So, here’s a look at what I’ve been working on lately and maybe this will give me the motivation to get my butt in gear and keep going! I sure hope so.

We bought our first house this summer and we really got a great deal – it’s 5 years old and has some gorgeous wood floors, and a finished basement, and a huge wrap around yard (yaye corner lot!) with a nice patio, and a 3-car garage, and just so much potential! Really, it’s in great shape and there’s not much we need to do to it but of course I have a few wants. We’ve been pretty bad at buying furniture and decorating and my excuse is that I just don’t know where to start. I got a little upset a few weeks ago that we have this big beautiful house but it’s not even close to feeling like ‘home’ yet. Adam came up with the idea that I make a list of everything I want for the house and when I want to get it done and how much I want to spend on each item/project. Genius! He was pretty proud of himself until he saw how long my list was getting. Ha! Whoops. We decided to start small and the smallest room in our house is what I call “the toilet closet” in the master bath. Here’s what it looked like on the day of our final walk through…ugh.

After a lot of taping and painting and doing touch ups, we had a cute little striped room! I love paint stripes but after this I’m not sure if any other rooms will be getting this treatment. I printed out some 8×10’s we took on our trip to Kauai last summer and found some frames at Target then spent forever trying to figure out where and how to hang them and here’s what it looks like now!

So much better! I still really want to switch out the ugly dome light fixture for something easy and inexpensive and way more fun – this is just one tiny room of our house after all…I think one of these would be so perfect!

Something I have always wanted is to have a huge vegetable and flower garden but somehow I was born without much of a green thumb. I always manage to kill my plants. Oh so disappointing. However! This past fall, while mom was visiting she helped me plant some of the bulbs I’d been stockpiling. Just yesterday I noticed that they’ve started peeking out of the dirt! This is beyond exciting and is almost giving me enough motivation to plant more. The problem is that I don’t know where to put them. We have some lovely rock-piles surrounding the house and I’d really like to clear those out and turn them into some nice little flower beds but I just don’t want to do something wrong! Good thing my garden help is coming for another visit next week…oh moooooom! I have an activity for us! Just check out these gorgeous spring bulbs I just bought! (the paperwhite ziva are the ones getting ready to to bloom – so cute!)

As I’ve mentioned, I have a grandmotherly addiction to knitting and here’s my most recent project. I have a lot more things in the works but here’s the project I’ve been most excited about and what has been occupying most of my time.

Gorgeous and snuggly blanket! Look at the pattern, so so pretty.

I just love it! It’s about…half done and I’ve been working on it since probably September. Someday I’ll finish.

Now this is just a handful of my works in progress….and I think it worked! I am itching for some knitting right now so off I go!

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Sugar and Spice

We woke up to a blizzard! Just great…but at least I had the day off of work so no need to drive in this nonsense. Now, I’m married to a boy from Wisconsin; which means he is naturally awesome at things like shoveling, and withstanding freezing temperatures, and eating cheese. We spent a  good hour and a half clearing the driveway and sidewalks this morning, then warmed up with a deliciously sweet breakfast of raspberry crepes and chai.

My love of chai goes back years. There’s this amazing coffee shop back where I grew up that got all three of us girls totally hooked on their spiced and vanilla chai. So delicious. A trip home is never quite complete without a few visits to Liquid Planet. After the Mr. and I moved 2600 miles away, we set to sampling pretty much every brand I could get my hands on. Nothing really measured up so as the result of much trial and error, here’s a homemade recipe that we just love! I’m a little embarrassed to admit we drink this almost every morning.

What you need:

  • 5 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla flavored powdered non-dairy creamer
  • 5 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 2 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 2 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 2 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 2 1/2 tsp nutmeg
Combine these all in a large bowl and then stir to combine.

This is just the mix we happen to love, you can change some of the proportions, and even add some other spices like white pepper, fennel, star anise…whatever you prefer. Also, this makes a LOT, I would recommend halving the recipe and doing some experimenting until you figure out exactly how you like it.

Now grab your handy coffee grinder and blend the mix in small batches until it turns into a powder.

You want to go from this….

to this!

Just a warning, blending all those spices is going to make your kitchen smell fantastic! You might as well heat up some milk and get your tea steeping; I like to use one tea bag per cup of milk, usually a mix of black and green.

Then mix in your chai powder to taste and drink up!

I got these adorable jars at The Container Store a couple months ago and they are perfect for storing our morning fixes. Just craft up some fun little tags and there you have it! Enjoy.

Oh and in case anyone’s wondering, it’s still snowing.

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