Thursday, October 23, 2014

DIY : New lease on life for these chairs.

One thing guaranteed with the expat life like mine is that we are extremely cautious of bringing home big ticket furniture pieces. I am talking about the likes of sofa, credenzas, dining set, Bedroom furniture etc. So when my thrift store dining chairs started getting dingier day by day I had to think long and hard as to what to do about them.

We didn't want to invest in new chairs and I didn't want to sell them in their poor state. We already had replaced the dining table from the set with an Ikea piece that matched the chairs. Now to find the chairs that matched the table! I didn't come across anything that fit our budget in craigslist either. Only thing left to do was to recover them.

A thing like re-upholstering could be really intimidating for someone just starting out on doing these things on their own. At the least it was so for me. For that just one reason, my new stapler sat inside the box for a while. I still was so unsure, I didn't even buy a fabric. But one fine afternoon, I simply decided that I am going to do it. Lucky for me, I had this curtain panel that I bought just because it was on clearance in Target. It turned out to be too dark for our small room, and sat in the closet waiting for another move. ( Lesson - do not buy things just because they are cheap)

From the time, this was actually done

So I decided to use it. If it doesn't work out - only this one panel is lost - which is a loss anyways. So I removed the chair seats from their base and set out.

The fabric that was originally on them was stapled on too. There were about fifty staples on each. And removing those from the cushions - no that was neither easy, nor pleasant. Before long I realized this wasn't going to be a short job.

Lesson Learned : You need patience - boat loads of them

But I pressed on and after spending about 4-5 hours, I had new looking chairs. I wouldn't say best of chairs - but definitely a bit chic and pleasant.

I was excited - so excited that I immediately posted a picture story on facebook to share with friends. Some of my friends liked it and some of them had nice words for me. Honestly, those encouraging words seeded this blog. Oh, what a set of chairs can accomplish !

I don't have step by step pictures of the procedure taken. In my defense, this was done long before the blog and more over I had zero confidence in what I was doing then. But I will try to explain as best as I can.

How-To :

Easiest way is to watch this TUTORIAL. I am still explaining because, what if they decide to remove it from the web later and I forget the details? (kidding - But video is definitely easier)

1) Remove the chair pad, the seat that you need to re-do. They would be screwed-in, in most cases.

2 ) Now remove the outer cover. Most of the cases the fabric would be stapled on. I am not sure if they glue them on professionally done chairs. If it is staples like me - be ready for two really tired hands at the end. If you are re-doing this only because you are tired of the same cover, then you can probably skip this - that is based on the thickness of the existing as well as the new fabric too. If they are very thick as in leather, then you may have to remove the cover anyways.

3) Once the outer fabric is removed, check the condition of the batting or the cushion part. If it is bad then you can replace this too. Most of the fabric stored will carry the batting. If not, home improvement stores will have them. I didn't need them because the batting was quite good underneath.

4) If you are replacing the batting, then cut out the batting at least half inch longer than size of chair pad on each side. This will ensure snug fit. Attach it to the pad with fabric glue.

5) Once the glue is thoroughly dry ( at least 1 or 2 hours), you are ready to attach the new fabric to the seats. Cut out the fabric two inches longer on every side. Put the fabric face down and place the pad on top. Now stretch the fabric tightly with one hand and put the staples on with the stapler.

Most effective way to stretch & staple

6) Finish the sides first leaving the corners to the end. There are a number of ways to do the corners. You can fold over neatly as the corner guides you and put a staple on it. Since my stapler wasn't that strong, I folded the corner edge and stapled it first. Then folded the left over part almost perpendicular to the sides. But don't worry - follow what is convenient to you. You can even cut the fabric on the sides and then fold over.

7) Once done, it is better to cut the extra seam to have a cleaner look.

Once stapled and fabric trimmed, it will look like this.

8) Re-attach the seat pad back to the chair base and Ta-da...enjoy your new-looking chair.

P.S : That was a time I neither thought of doing any serious DIY nor I had any tools other than the basic screw driver and hammer. So I checked out a few YouTube tutorials and scoured Lowes and Home Depot to find an appropriate Stapler. Not that I did find one, I was an idiot who went for the cheapest of the upholstery stapler in town - even at $12 that did feel to be splurge. If you are newly buying - Buy a heavy duty, powerful Stapler. It is handy in many upholstery jobs - even fixing up damages. For reference I bought this one. ( I don't recommend this)

Wish you happy weekend friends - Ours is filled with sweets, cakes and feast - Yay to sweet little get-togethers.

See you soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Seasonal Crafts - An easy way to make memories

We at the design Journal home are not really big on Halloween. Only person who is enthusiastic about it is Akshara- that is because she loves the idea of wearing her costume and go trick or treating and collect some candies.

But we sure are big on crafts, especially ones that can keep us entertained in our afternoon hours. More so because weather outside is getting chillier and windier and playing outside is not a good option.

Our Halloween decorating is the sum up of little crafts we ( Me and my little girl) did together on many such afternoons. Since these were really meant to be fun for a 4 year old, they are really simple so simple that they involve only some paper,paint,crayons and stickers. And if you are looking for scary and spooky - again we are not fans. Yay for cute and Nay for scary.

First up is the one that we enjoyed most. This pumpkin is decorated with crayons in rainbow colors ( I checked, rather coerced in a thousand and one ways to get this in Halloween colors, but she was hell bent on rainbow ones, that too of her choice) melted on the pumpkin. 

All we did was to stick the crayons around pumpkin and then using a hair dryer blew hot air on them to melt them. They would have been much more perfect if was done faster with a steadier hand. This is also the first time I loved the mess it made along with the art itself.

We painted some pumpkins and gourds too and put stickers and tapes on them to our hearts' content. More than that little shelf could handle. It helped that our neighborhood patch was selling them for cheap.

The white planter that is head of a woman doesn't have much to do with Halloween, but I put a black paper eye mask to make it spooky? 

To add a black touch which seems to be a must have color of the festival along with white - I painted a spare frame with black border. And made a banner with paper cutouts with letters painted on them. 

The hanging fixture is Christmas ornaments filled with colorful paper cut outs and beads. I am not sure why but tracing and cutting seem to be an "in" thing with little ones. Akshara sits with this one activity for hours. Painting those beads were added bonus.

Above and beyond we love this season so far. The pumpkin patches, walking around collecting colorful leaves, collecting acorns for some X'Mas crafts, fall festivals - it has been fun so far. 

We are waiting for some Halloween party fun and trick or treating with friends now - How about you? Do you use crafts as a way to having some quality time with kids too? A way to make some beautiful memories of the beautiful seasons?

Keep Smiling & Have fun,

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Easy Halloween crafts - A few from web world

I am not really big on Halloween and the spooky and creepy vibe they bring. May be because my daughter is still too young for the scary and spooky. So as far as the festivities go, cute pumpkins and banners are as far as I could go.

But that is not true with the rest of the world. Skeletons, mummies, cob webs, bats, blood - yikes - It is heights of creepiness. But That is exactly what older kids and adults who really understand the essence of this season go for. After all the intend is to scare away the evil.

Anyways, read on to find some easy yet popular crafts for Halloween from the blog land.

Whats Ur Home Story

First up is the most popular of Halloween crafts - that is carving pumpkins. It is more like a tradition than craft I believe. While there are hundreds of ways to turn adorable pumpkins into weirdos, here is one I found on Vidya's Whats Ur Home Story. I am adding just one picture here that is of a pumpkin witch; But while you are there for the details, search for Halloween decor. There are a number of interesting ones she has done over the years.

Emily A Clark - Bats on the Door

These bats hang out at Emily A Clark's door to bring in the Halloween mood for the family and visitors. It is a simple craft, easy to make but adds a ton of punch to the porch decor. Emily has given the details on her site which I have linked up here. While she has used them for porch decor, the bats can hang out at your mantles, stair cases landings - they will look wonderful as a banner too.

I Heart Crafty Things - Paper plate spiders

The adorable paper spiders are creations of Rachel, of  I Heart Crafty Things. one of the most creative artists I have come across. As with Vidya, she has done a number of craft projects which are easy, beautiful and light on pocket. Do check out her website for fun crafts and tutorials. This one I loved particularly because it is relatively cheap and easy for kids to make and paint.

Milk Jug Ghosts 

Yes, they are milk bottles turned into ghosts. I found this easy and no cost involved project at I came across this image through pinterest, but have found a number of similar fun crafts here.

pumpkin kitties from Sunset Magazine

Decorating with pumpkins is an endless, limitless endeavor. I found this innovative idea from Sunset magazine website, among many other wonderful ones. Paint,paper,tape,decoupage,glitter, stickers, beads - anything can go on them in any design you prefer.

There are a lot other ideas and creative designs out there, so many, so diverse that I can never cover even a single percentage of them. But to get started, to be inspired - I suppose you are covered here. I will be back on Wednesday to show you where these inspirations took me. So stay tuned, do come back.

Keep Smiling,

Thursday, October 16, 2014

DIY : Yet Another Sunburst Mirror

Honestly friends, I must have seen sunburst mirrors a hundred times, if not more. Since I always had issues with too much trendy as long as design decisions go, I was determined "not" to have a sunburst mirror in this house. I thought I see them at least 5 times daily anyways , I don't need to have another one in front of my eyes all the time. In the blog land, it is mandatory that every home has minimum one.You don't believe me? Type in "sunburst mirror DIY" in Google search ( Any search for that matter) and see what comes up!

For the same reason when I finally had to make one, I decided I will have a whole sunburst wall  instead of just a mirror. And a simple sunburst mirror was the key to the wall. And thus I too have a mirror in this home in that category. Hope now I am officially part of Blog land.

So, here is how I made it.


1) A mirror. You get simple,light weight mirrors on the cheap from craft stores. If you are making this only as a decor piece with no intention to see your pretty face - even silver paint in gloss on a card board piece would work. I used a small mirror that I already had from a set of five decor mirror set.

2 ) Wood craft sticks. I bought this one.

3 ) Super glue

4 ) Paint (spray paint or acrylic paint - metallic or colored - your choice)

How to: 

This is one of the simplest of crafts.

Step 1 : To begin, try arranging the wood sticks in circle around the mirror until you get the look you want. It is important to measure and mark the length of the sticks so that they are all on the same scale and distance from each other.

Step 2 : To create the varying length for the rays, you may have to cut sticks.

Step 3 : Once you have the sticks measured and cut, you have to stick them to the back of the mirror in your preferred design. I used super glue, even hot glue would work.

Step 4 : After the glue dries, paint the sticks. Spray paint is easy to work with, just cover the mirror part and light coat, two thin coats would do the trick.

That's it. You have your own sun burst mirror.

Hope you liked this one and found it simple.
Happy weekend,

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Inspiration Folder - Clay Modelling

In this enlightened digital era of ours, if there is one thing that is available in abundance is inspiration.What ever be your area of interest, food, fashion,jewelry, decor,design,literature,art, craft, science or just plain life - it is just the matter of putting a key word in the search box, you are presented with an overwhelming amount of inspiring stories.

 My story is no different. While I have a number of regular places ( read pages) I frequent for ideas, Truth be told, sometimes even a regular scene from a mall or road side is inspiring to me. But I am most grateful for some people in my life who never stop to amaze me with their talent, nobility and creative energy. I am so happy that some are my friends and some others I look up to.

I found the medium of clay to craft, from such an inspiring friend. Vijayeta is an artist who makes beautiful hand crafted jewelry with polymer clay. While I am not really a "jewelry" person, the details and flexibility the medium offers is great to create small but beautiful sculptures and artifacts. Which is exactly what I love doing on spare afternoon theses days. Especially with Diwali ( the celebration of lights for Indians) fast approaching some hand made clay lamps are welcoming change and fun to do.

There are a number of types of clay in the market suitable for jewelry and handicrafts.

Air- Dry clay : 

It is the regular modelling clay and the most organic and cheapest type of clay available for modelling.

Polymer Clay :

Polymer clay is a type of hardenable modeling clay based on the polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It typically contains no clay minerals, but like mineral clay a liquid is added to dry particles until it achieves gel-like working properties.Once done the part is oven baked to get the finished product.

Metal Clay 

Metal clay is a crafting medium consisting of very small particles of metal such as silver, gold, bronze, or copper mixed with an organic binder and water for use in making jewelry, beads and small sculptures.

All the above information is from Wikipedia.

All these are very similar in use, only deviation being the drying time and method.

Since the air-dry clay is the cheapest, it is what I use for my small projects. Making these small things are really easy and simple. All you need is patience, to make a design and drying time - lot of patience. Other than the clay itself, I have used only regular things available in any home, as knife, small bowls etc to make these. For added protection I have used a sealer as the top coat.

Basically, you decide on a shape and size of the model you want to make and mold it with hands. From small lamps to planters, beads to bowls possibilities are endless.

In case you wonder - It is my own hand

I used to wonder how Viji ( Vijayeta) found energy & time after her IT career and two kids in school and various other artistic endeavors ( she is very active with our Indian artistic associations ) for making those beautiful pieces of jewelry. But now I know because every time I see my small lamps lighted up or that imperfect bowl ( That is my first creation) holding nick knacks, it brings a smile - it is insanely gratifying.

Ready for Diwali

My very first one

Stay tuned for some "how-to" notes for some of these crafty decor artifacts and then some others and do get a tub of clay and join the club of "clay fans".

Keep Smiling,

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Design Elements : Accent Wall

By definition a focal/accent/feature wall is that one with a different design than all other walls in a room.Everyone who has operated a camera knows that finding the right focal point and having a steady focus is one of the most important of keys for having a good photograph. Well that is very true when it comes to pulling a room together too. Having a focal wall/Feature wall/ Accent wall takes a room from being "so-so " to  "oh ,Wow". 

What is a focal wall? As name suggests it is the wall that takes the focus, the center stage in a room. While there are any number of ways to design one, most common route taken is to paint the wall in a different color, one that compliments or create a contrast. This is the easiest way too. But what if you want something different than this expected design?

Then you have a number of options too.

Have you heard of the blog Vintage Revivals? Mandi is extremely good at designing great wall treatments. The honeycomb Hexagon wall she created is one of my favorite wall treatments.

When it came to designing an accent wall for my daughter's room, I went with the easy and less permanent  option of wall decals, ( For one, this is a rental, and second we could get tired of the design ) that is number 6, from above list.

Finding decals and stickers is not really easy , especially so if your budget is on the lower side and you don't want characters or themes. Akshara is in love with polka dots and I wanted a pattern that is classic enough to survive trends and since this is also an easy pattern to create on a large scale I decided I will have dots on the wall.

I considered a number of designs with polka dots to put on the walls. But then thought, may be these are all expected designs and there is no added fun or whimsy in these. I thought about it for a while and when she started talking about sun and planets ( Courtesy Dr.Seuss ) I knew I could easily create a sun on the wall. That is how this wall came into existence.

So here are the materials needed.

1) A roll of copper/gold contact paper. I used these. Copper is trendy these days so price looks to be increased)

2) Scissors

3) Yarn and tape to mark and measure lines

4) Tape to measure.

Creating it was easy and took only an evening ( One Saturday evening and 2 pair of hands, of course a little girl for assistance). We measured the center of the wall and kept a mirror in hand to mark the center. Then created straight lines with yarn and sticky tape. First 4 quarters, then again the middle of each quarter , until it looked sufficiently filled.

Forgive for the poor quality pic - old ones captured on a phone camera, I didn't really pay attention then

Then we cut out circles from the contact paper and applied them to the walls. Easy and simple.

Once we had the walls completed, I had the mirror frame spray painted with copper metallic paint and created a sun burst mirror created out of it.

It took about 4 hours to complete the wall, I think could have finished it earlier if we had used pre-cut peel and stick dots that are available in stores like Urban Outfitters. I didn't opt for them because they would cost me much more than I originally planned. Anyways, here are some closer shots.

While browsing through my folders to find the photoes of individual steps, happened to find a picture of this room in its previous life. Here it is for a final before and after shot.

Before :

After :

See how a can of paint and some self adhesive paper make all the difference in the world? I like that simple and easy solutions can make any place a happy space. What do you think?  Do you like the idea of focal walls and easy fixes?

Keep Smiling,