Trash to Treasure: Recovering a Street Lamp

I wish I could be embarrassed about this, but I’m not: my house is full of things I’ve dragged in off the street.  End tables. Air conditioners. Chairs. Frames. It’s absolutely amazing what people in this city kick to the curb…but if it’s nice enough and I’m not laden down with anything, you can best believe I’m dragging it back to my apartment.

And that’s exactly what happened with this gorgeous lamp! All it had was an unsightly shade, which looked it may have been burned or otherwise dirtied in some way.  All it needed, though, was a little makeover to be as good as new. Whoever threw it out did not know this, but that’s why I have a DIY blog and they probably don’t. I live for finds like this.

All it took to get this lamp gorgeous again was a stretch of fabric, a pair of scissors, and a hot glue gun.  That’s it!  And it only took about 40 minutes.  Read on for the step by step and end result.

Step 1: Remove the outside fabric. When recovering any lamp, this is the toughest part. Oftentimes, the fabric is stuck to the shade, so just take this process very slowly.  Also, if you can – the old shade makes the perfect pattern for tracing onto the new fabric, so bonus points if you can remove it all in one piece. In this case, the fabric was lightly glued onto the shade, so removal was slow, but finally, I got the ugly fabric off intact.

Step 2: Place your old fabric on the wrong side of your new fabric. Using chalk (I had tailor’s chalk handy), a pen or some other tracing instrument that won’t bleed through, trace around the old fabric.  THEN! Go back around and make the pattern one inch bigger so you have room to anchor the fabric to the inside of the shade.

Look closely - see the original lines? Cut one inch around those!

Step 3: Once your pattern is traced, cut carefully! And then give it a good iron so its nice and flat.

Before the ironing board!

Step 4: Now you’re ready to put on the new fabric.  Place the shade in the center of the fabric and make sure you have it centered between the top and bottom edges, as well.  Then, using your glue gun, place a few dots of glue on one edge and secure the edge of the fabric to the center of the shade.  Press it down and then pull the other edge tight.

Step 5: Working your way around the shade, place a dot of glue (close to the top or bottom edge of the shade so that it doesn’t shine through when the light is turned on) at regular intervals to secure the fabric.  Soon, you should have the entire thing covered – with enough fabric hanging over the top and bottom.

Step 6: Working your way around again, but this time inside the top rim, place a dot of glue on the fabric and then secure it to the top of the shade. Before you do this, if you notice that the fabric is long and will reach deep inside the shade, give it a quick trim.  Otherwise, when you turn on the light, anything inside the shade will show up as a shadow within the lamp. Instead, cut the fabric so that it’s close to the edge. See below on how it hangs over just the littlest bit.

See? Hangs over just a little bit.

When you get to the wires inside the shade, give the fabric a small snip so you can fit it over the bars.

Step 7: Do the same on the bottom.  See how much more this hung over? I trimmed just more than half of it away so the overlap was the same as the top of the shade.

Step 8: Glue down anything else that is sticking up a bit and then place the shade back on the lamp, cause you’re done!

Don’t you feel bad for the person who threw this away now?? If only they knew!

Coast-ing Into the Weekend

As we head out the door this lovely Friday evening, a little craft inspiration for you!

Yay! DIY reader Tracy recently sent us this beautiful and super easy tutorial from Style Me Pretty on how to make your own coasters using inexpensive tile, cardstock and Mod Podge. Take a look at these gorgeous sets they made:

And not only is the end result so pretty – the entire cost is negligible given how much use you’ll get out of them – whether it’s for your own home or a gift.  A must do!

It actually reminded me of these super-cute coasters I spied during my recent trip to the Mall of America.

All this takes is a few swipes of chalkboard paint over some tile and voila! – an adorable new set of coasters that can be personalized by guest or occasion.

After looking at these projects, think a little trip to Home Depot is in order to pick up some new coasters!

My Favorite Homemade Snack EVER

This week it’s rainy and miserable. Which matches my mood. But last week, oh man. Last week was glorious and sunny, which certainly matched my mood as a had a few days off for some R&R.  On one of those days I did something SUPER exciting in the morning, which I can’t tell you all about yet… but I will soon enough! That same afternoon I spent planting my garden while it was a beautiful 70 degrees and sunny outside. Oh how nice.

I decided to make my day even better by making my favorite afternoon snack from scratch:  

And washed it down with my favorite summertime beverage:

My guac recipe after the jump. It’s easy, quick and a crowd-pleaser, I promise.

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Craft: Easy St. Patrick's Day Pin

First and foremost, happy St. Patrick’s Day! The “happiest” day of the year regardless if you are Irish or not (and probably more happy if you are Irish…if you catch the drift.)

We spied our friend Lauren wearing an absolutely adorable pin in honor of the holiday and best of all, when complimenting her on it, she said her aunt made it. Right up our alley! Giving it a quick study, we saw what she did – and you can make it, too.  Pretty quickly at that, which is good if you forgot to wear green today.   Instructions below!

A close-up of the pin.

And a shot of the outfit:

Lauren kindly modeling her festive accessory.

Here’s how you can make one of your own! [Read more...]

How To: Mat-less Photo Frame

I have a teensy-tiny, I mean barely even a problem, really, with grabbing perfectly good – and often beautiful – things people leave on the street and dragging it into my own house to fix up and redo.  I mean, it’s not like I do it all the time (laughs too loud) even though I’m constantly reminded not to bring in any more things until I’ve finished with the ones I’ve got! (Pats hair nervously.)

Take this picture frame for example:

From the street!

Walking down the street one day, I saw a couple lean it up against a signpost next to a pile of garbage and walk away. My eyes flicked around nervously.  Almost two feet tall, solidly constructed – just in a weird shade of gold with a cheap print inside – I mean, you’d have to be CRAZY to throw this thing out. It was gorgeous!  I made a run for it, darting like I was being chased, and ran it back to my house before I continued with my day.  And good thing I did because now it funkily decorates my kitchen like this!

How-to, you say?  With just a little  bit of spray paint and the fortunate accident of breaking the glass in the frame all over the living room. The whole project was like a crafter’s dream – from finding the materials for free to the cool mistake that actually improved the project.  Keep reading after the jump!

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Faux-Casso: Fabric Wall Hanging

After nearly a year, I have managed to finally get our apartment in somewhat presentable shape. We have all the necessities now (including wine glasses thanks to my boyfriend’s awesome mom!), a place to store just about everything – there is even a coat of paint in the kitchen! All that’s left now to tackle is the tons of blank, blank wall space left in each room.   I wanted to start with the master bedroom as there is a small wall when you first enter (it forms the edge of the closet) and its stark whiteness was beginning to annoy me.  Plus, I recently saw an episode of The Nate Berkus show where the W hotel interior design team came on and said your bedroom should feel like an oasis. I thought working on this would make a good first project for the New Year to achieve that feel.

This project is so simple it’s ridiculous. To make this, I used fabric and a spare piece of shelving I had lying around, but you can literally use just about anything for the backing: a book, a piece of cardboard, a poster board – literally anything is the size and shape you want. After the jump, what you’ll need and the how-to…

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Adorable Gift Idea: How Was Your Day Calendar

Absolutely dying over both the simplicity and adorableness of this calendar from Brigade Creative:

Basically, it’s 365 blank happy face circles and at the end of each day, you fill in how your day was! How stinkin’ clever and cute is that?

To make your own, all you really need is a piece of posterboard and 365 round labels (like these from Staples) – and voila! What a great gift for a tween-age relative.  In fact, may just make my 12-year-old cousin one.  It’s such a neat way to look back on your year and see how you felt through most of it. (Hopefully it’s mostly happy.)

Three-Step Spaghetti Squash

When I went vegan in August, I frequented some vegan restaurants to get inspiration for my meals at home. (Okay, I frequented one vegan restaurant and went there three times because I was obsessed, Counter in the East Village.) One of the delicious foods I discovered there was the spaghetti squash. After reading up on some recipes, I was surprised to see how easy it was to cook – and when I stumbled across one in the grocery store, I snapped it up to try.

Combined with some ingredients I already had on hand including fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, it was delicious and nutritious (a combo I don’t make as often as I should) and I’m obsessed because it was also so easy.

I should have food styled a bit more but I just wanted to dig in!

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Faux-Casso: Easy Art Using Picasa

Turn regular Google images into old-timey photos with Picasa.

Recently, I was in New York’s Central Bar, where I noticed wonderful old-timey photographs of well-known authors with some of their most famous quotes superimposed in the background. It looked adorable in the bar – giving it a real quirky feel. I thought about how cute it could be in the home – for example, how fun to have some photos of your favorite authors over your bookshelf? Or in a more unexpected place, like the bathroom or office?

Then, the lightbulb: you can do this using Picasa!  I recently discovered this great, simple photo editing program from Google. Picasa is great for people who want to eventually learn to use Photoshop but can only find the patience to learn it in little bits. After the jump, a short tutorial for the above project!

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Must Do: HipTix

See you tomorrow!

Several months ago, I happened across a link for a service called HipTix, in which the Roundabout Theater Company offers heavily discounted tickets to people under the age of 35 for some of their hottest shows.  I was extremely complemented by what they consider a youthful person to be, so of course, I signed right up.

After monitoring for several weeks, I can confirm that the discounts are indeed phenomenal and used today’s code to snag a ticket for just $10 to the show Brief Encounter! Can’t beat it! With Broadway tickets  running at least $60 (and often $100 or more) these kinds of deals must be taken advantage of – particularly by someone who loves live theater but reallllly had to be careful with such an expensive habit.

Sign yourself up for HipTix at