Posts Tagged ‘Upcycle’

Easy Peasy Deconstructed Roman Shades

It started as an upcycle…

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My previous tenant left some beige wool felt curtains that she had made. The fabric came from the upscale menswear company where she worked; I was delighted at the uncommonly nice goods I had inherited! I pictured them as unlined roman shades: a super simple, minimal window treatment. I also knew that I wanted them to be removable for dry cleaning.

shade-rod

Traditionally, roman shades are installed and left in place until they are unbelievably filthy, or the fabric starts falling apart, or a combination thereof.  Making them removable for cleaning keeps them fresh and attractive longer, and when it’s time to replace the shades you can re-use the dustboard or hardware.

Roman shades are usually attached to a dust board: a piece of wood which holds the cord lock and the eye-hooks that guide the strings. The shade fabric is stapled to the top of the dust board , which is then screwed into the window frame, allowing the fabric to cascade down the front.

I eliminated the dustboard altogether and hung the shades like a curtain on a rod, with the eyehook/string guides attached right to the window frame.

 

Making the shades:

Roman shades work on a string lift system.  The rings are evenly space on the back of the shades in vertical and horizontal rows, and a bar at the bottom keeps the shade in place and helps guide the fabric to fold into pleats as the fabric lifts. I re-purposed some lamp pipe as my weight bar at the bottom and some lamp finials for the shade pulls.

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I thought I would save some time by using “ring tape” and sewing that to the back of the fabric instead of sewing on the rings by hand. The “ring tape” creates a stripe which becomes a part of the design of the shade.  Sewing the tape on straight, I have learned, is as much a challenge as sewing on the rings; best to do this only if you like the look of the tape.

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The shades are trim and translucent, giving a warm glow when they are down in daytime and privacy at night.  The fabric is now on its third life from its initial purchase for clothing, so it’s been diverted from the waste stream a few times already and should last a long while as clean-able shades.

Upcycled Ottoman

Upcycled Ottoman

After one of my clients asked me to help her make a Mongolian Fur ottoman, I soon begin to spot these fun footstools all over the market; shaggy poufs and hoof-legged ottomans are ubiquitous now in stores and catalogues. The October Cover of Elle Décor sports a pretty blue fur piece.

I was recently given an old fur coat that was just a little too far gone in need of repairs, and I remembered a footstool I had picked up at some yard sale or thrift shop.  My upcycled fur ottoman was in the works.

Rescued Ottoman

To keep costs down I stripped down the footstool myself, taking out all the nails and staples. I sanded the legs down to bare wood with an orbital sander then stained and waxed them.

Deconstructing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The upholsterer put a padded top on the ottoman, and made the coat into a loose fitting slip cover.

Ottoman meets Fur

 

 

 

 

Toggle Detail

My ottoman may have more character than most: one side has a discreet and neatly edged opening for the pocket. The other sports a toggle closure in a wink to it’s former life.

Silk Purse/Sow’s Ear

Curbside or thrift shop treasures while a bargain, usually lead me to the question- will I ever really fix this up to use it?   It depends on the level of decreptitude- or for me, if it’s the exact size piece I need for the space, and if its basically a better piece of furniture than I can buy cheaply.  While my kids hated the groovy painted furniture I put in their rooms and pined for Ikea almost-wood, I prefer a solid piece of real wood furniture in a classic shape and solidly built.  I can see past the peeling paint and occasional dangling part to what it could be with a little elbow grease.  But filling the space requirements is usually what tips me into actually doing the work on it.

My latest rescue was the perfect sized bookshelf for my bedroom, when my excess books were stacked in front of the radiator and collecting dust on the floor. It was old, had a gazillion coats of paint, some peeling and the front leg was cracked.

Before you do anything, take off any paint that looks like it is ready to jump ship anyway, using a spackling knife rather than a scraping tool, so you don’t pull up tight paint- I didn’t want to strip it (way too much work for this piece) but if you have any notions that new paint glues down peeling old paint, disabuse yourself of that idea.  It usually means your new paint will soon come off as well.  Top coat is only as secure as the bottom layer.

After the removal of loose stuff, take a sander to it- it will smooth down the previous layers, some of the brush marks and let you know where drips are that you haven’t noticed.  Sometimes I help those off with a sharp razor.


Orbital palm sanders are cheap and easy to use, they should be  a part of any handy-person’s tool collection.

Fix the busted leg- I use an old your-name-here credit card that comes in the mail every day with new card offers, its just the right thickness to work the glue into the crack.


I use clamps to hold it in place while it dries, and glued a block into the corner behind the leg to give it more stability.  Cut the block down so you can’t see it from the front.  I clamp the leg so the glue can set.

Then predrill a hole, and run a flat head screw into several points to give it extra strength and stabilize it.

If you have the bits, its nice to counter sink the hole (a wider hole at the top to accommodate the flat screw head) so the screw isn’t noticeable, you can fill the top with compound to make it invisible. This fix it step took about 20 minutes, and now I don’t have to worry about the leg cracking off, and the fix is invisible.

For the paint job, I use the same type of paint, in this case oil-based.  I prefer alkyd paint for furniture anyway, as its tougher, but always best for paint adhesion to stick to the original paint type. For my color, I mixed some leftover oil based paints, to get something fairly close to the wall color.  I want the bookcase to blend in, not stand out.  If it was a more interesting accent piece I might have gone with a bolder color.

Once it’s done and in place, I’m glad I took the time!

 

For all the pinners out there:

My Pink Bathroom Update

In the spirit of preserving the past with a contemporary twist, here is the completed update on the Pink Bathroom project. As a quick recap, this idea started with a visit to the Save My Pink Bathroom blog. As it turns out, there is an entire community of enthusiasts fighting to “save” their mid-century pink bathrooms. As Pam describes her mission:

“This little website grew out of mid-century home lovers’ concern that pink bathrooms were being ripped out of post-war American homes way too hastily. How sad it is, to catch a TV makeover show that rips out a perfectly beautiful vintage bathroom… Seems like a bunch of the rest of the world — well behind our curve — actually dislikes mid-century pink bathrooms.  They will regret what they have done.”

Often here in Flatbush with our turn of the century homes it was a mid-century decision to “modernize” the bathroom in the newly popular pink color. The tradition of the pink bathroom emerged from the former first lady Mamie Eisenhower, in office 1953 –1961.

Looking at them now, they are totally dated, but with the wrong date stamp for our late victorian houses. Fiscal prudence often dictates embracing the pink bathroom and working with what you have, and I have grown quite fond of mine.  It must be the fourth pink bathroom I have had since I started householding. For a low-cost, low-environmental impact project, here are my tips on saving your pink bathroom – or redecorating any bathroom for that matter.

I was missing a few pink bullnose tiles that had fallen out and broken years ago, and pulling the medicine cabinet out of the wallOlive Design Bathroom damaged a few more.  As per my previous blog on this, I sent one of the samples to Chippy Scaparelli at World of Tile. She sent back 4 tiles that were a perfect match.  Thanks to Pam for featuring that tip on her site.  My contractor, John Duval, replaced the missing tiles and you can’t tell now which ones they were, it is seamless.  I opted to have the contractor regrout the entire bathroom.  What a huge improvement, it looked brand new, sharp crisp and clean. Worth every penny, and my contractor was amazing in keeping the mess contained- he wiped down the stairs as he was leaving so it wasn’t tracked all over- I was very impressed.

 

I discovered that “clear” in powder coating is 1. More expensive and 2. Not clear at all but a weird taupey/gray.  It looked awful.  The folks at Evernu Metal were kind enough to offer to recoat it in white. It wasn’t what I was going for originally, but it looks fresh and pretty against the bright white new grouting.  The inside I painted turquoise, just for fun.

I knew what color I had in mind for the walls, and in the spirit of both thrift and environmentalism, I went down to my shop in the basement and mixed up just the color I needed using various leftover paint samples.  Mixing left over paint is a great alternative if you don’t want to discard it or wait for the yearly collection of hazardous waste materials that the city sponsors. If you don’t have any leftover paint from previous projects, go to Build-It-Green NYC, arguably the best source of paint for a low-cost project. They have gallons upon gallons of paint in their Astoria warehouse.. many for $5 a can. They get their supplies donated from surplus construction and renovation projects, so if you can’t re-use your own paint, re-use theirs! (P.S. they also have another location in Gowanus, Brooklyn). Another place with the same ethos is Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore for those of you located in Westchester, Long Island, and beyond.

The shower curtain and window fabric that I used was made from yardage I had hand screened printed while an apprentice at the Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia after college. The colors worked well with both tile and wall color, and I liked the funky pattern in here- and bonus point, I already had the fabric, and was glad to see it used.

My pink chandelier was up-cycled from a table lamp part that I converted into a hanging fixture, and painted to match the bathroom.  The ceiling in the bathroom is dropped and made of some sort of acoustical tile that had seen better days.  I had routinely painted it gloss white in the past to freshen it, but I took the opposite tack here and made another “mary mix” paint from the samples stash, and came up with a nice charcoal gray.  It looks dramatic, and helps hide the flaws in the ceiling.  The dark color seems to make the ceiling float up and away

As with most projects, this one took about twice as much time as initially anticipated. Overall, I am pleased with the outcome and loving my pink bathroom!

 

Would love to hear your comments on my Facebook page on how you’ve updated your own bathroom with a budget and environmentally conscious approach.

 

Humble Parts


Brooklyn Design
This weekend I was helping a friend put up curtain hardware, and we were looking for a fast and inexpensive solution for a double window.  The apartment is a rental and my friend had no interest in fancy hardware.  And neither was there time to order custom rods.  I have a knee-jerk reaction to putting up “extendable” rods, the one-size-fits-many variety.  Not only do I not like the way these rods look, I dislike that each time you open or close the curtains, the rings, (or rod pocket), catches on the join;  every single day as you yank the curtains over the join you have the irritation of a badly designed product. I use wood rods a lot because they are cut to fit.  Metal rods I often have custom fabricated, so that I can get one with out that extension joint in the middle.

As we didn’t have time to go to my drapery hardware supplier, I did a dive into Home Depot to see what they offered for speedy installation.  A serviceable wood rod was available in an ok color.  Then the finials, and the rings…it was starting to get pricey, and I was thinking the wood was just fine, but not spectacular. Alas, they ended up not even having the right brackets (in a disappointing marketing plan they don’t even carry the right brackets).

Brooklyn Design

I have in the past used plumbing pipe for hardware, so I took a stroll over to that department.  I found a great looking steel pipe with threaded ends, in just the right size. It had nice little caps to use as finials.  And it came in a “gun metal” black –gray finish, similar to one I had specified on some pricey custom metal rods.  For about $12.00 I had a fantastic rod and finials!  I went back to the Décor dept at Home Depot, and found a “Universal Bracket” for around $14.00/pair that could be used to hang the rod.  I made sure brackets seemed sturdy – the rod was a hefty weight and I was glad I wasn’t hanging super-heavy curtains on them.  There were nice metal rings available that fit the rod as well. The brackets and rings were both a matte silver that worked well with the gunmetal finish of the rod.

Brooklyn DesignI have used a lighter weight copper pipe for drapery installations before, in my friend’s framing shop.  We found all the parts we needed to run the curtains from wall to wall.  It’s a little tricky in this case as you have to assemble first and then install (so you need to know how many rings you will need before you start) but it’s a great industrial look and less expensive than custom metal rods and brackets. I show the parts used here. There is a threaded sleeve that screws into the base, which in turn is mounted to the wall.  The pipe fits into the sleeve.  Again, all must be assembled and then lifted into place and screwed into the wall- and takes down the same way.  Adding a few more rings later is not terribly convenient- best to plan ahead for this type of treatment.  In my installation we had painted the non-copper metal end piece black and the contrast was great looking.

I often use plumbing pipe in my lamps.  I like the oxidized copper, and am getting ready to use some galvanized pipe on a pair of silver lamps.  I like to use other “humble” parts, and recently built a pair of lamps from hardware I had bought for this purpose- and some I upcycled from pieces I found when cleaning out my dad’s workshop.  I usually choose not to put a finish on these lamps and enjoy their “natural” patina.  I do mix humble parts with fancier vintage pieces as well.  For a “dressier” lamp I may give the humble parts a little polish and shine and find that when used judiciously, they step up to the occasion.Brooklyn Design