Archive for the ‘Style Cure’ Category


This is one of those faux-wide-angle iphone pictures, which is why is has that bendy quality and the lines meet up a little wonky in the middle. It’s the best I can do to capture most of the room, though. I like it anyway, wonkiness and all.

Looking back at the past month + change of working on the Style Cure, I have to say it was a really fun personal challenge. While I already discussed a few things I learned (and came to re-appreciate) during the process, I wanted to say a little bit more about how I feel it worked out, design-wise.

Back on Day 1, when I took the style survey, I said my style preferences were “vintage, fun, and eclectic.” I also decided that, less consciously, I wanted a space that felt cosy, had some personality, great art, and was functional without being overly cluttered. I feel like, over all, I really, really got there.

I’ve got my vintage going on for sure with my reupholstered vintage chair, vintage Hollywood sewing patterns, my wee vintage pincushion/tape measure puppy, and my grandma’s old plant dishes:IMG_0969IMG_1013puppy02IMG_1003And I have some other elements that definitely add a sense of fun, like the puppy, my Seafoam/Rhinestone Kit-Kat Clock and some oversized faux peony blooms:IMG_0996IMG_0980And then there’s elements that feel vintage-y, like my stained/painted Ikea sewing table, my wall lamps, and my floral curtains (which I love more every day):deskAll of these elements make for a collected, eclectic feel. Contributing to this are a few more modern, less precious things, like the big metal cabinets, the dressmaker dummy, the pegboard and ironing board, and this plaid-lined work basket:

IMG_0991I really love that guy and dig that he doesn’t match the floral fabric at all but still plays well anyway. Baby loves a plaid. Also, functionality. This room feel 100 times more functional than it did before. Everything has a place, all the surfaces are less crowded (thanks, pegboard, plaid workbasket, and closet!) and it feels much more like a workspace than a space where I try to do work.

The room definitely feels cozy. The sloping attic ceiling helps, no doubt, but I think you can also get a sense of cosiness from a room when it feels pulled together and complete. There’s a color scheme, curtains, artwork and space to breathe. And yet it manages to have the personality I wanted without that sense of personality being overwhelming. This is a space I want to hang out in. It feels good and happy and like I have many years of fun sewing ahead of me in here. It makes me want to get to it.

As for things that I don’t feel were accomplished (or as successfully accomplished), I do feel that the space is running a little too sweet at the moment and could use more grounding. I think this could easily be accomplished with the addition of wood floors, which are in the plan but still quite a ways away financially. I’ll get there. In the meantime, a good rug might be helpful in this department, though with a sewing space (and its accompanying threads/pins/needles), that’s tricky. The art could also be amped up in this regard. While I love what I’ve got in there, I really wanted to find a big piece for the space over the ironing board and still feel that something graphic and substantial (perhaps with some heavier colors and black) could provide a little gravitas. I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

On a practical note, I also still want to find some task lighting for the cutting table. None of the lamps I was considering at Ikea ending up fitting the bill and I didn’t want to get something I didn’t actually love just to meet the arbitrary deadline. Again, keeping my eyes peeled. I’ve been working for a year without task lighting in that particular zone and I can do it a little longer.

So, as I wrap this puppy up, I will ask myself some questions and then answer them, as is kind of how this blog works.

Was it hard? Yes. There were many nights where I hurt like hell laying down to bed and I feel like my poor arthritic hands are still recovering.

Was it worth it? Hell, yes. I learned so much from this experience (reupholstering! staining! pace-setting!). And now I’ve got a completely awesome sewing room to work my little heart out in.

Would you do it again? A qualified yes. On the one hand, I like having all of this to show at the end of one little month. On the other hand, I worked my ass off and I’m not sure I’d have the stamina (and free time) that I did this time again. Still, I think a lot of the ideas of the process can easily be applied to future projects with a more drawn-out pace. One project per weekend, three weeks a month or something.

In conclusion, loved the experience, love the resulting room. The major downside is that it’s now making all the other rooms in the house look significantly more shabby. Guess I’ll just have to start make a concentrated effort to address those rooms as well. Tis the circle of home decor life.

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IMG_1072Our task for Day 29 of the Style Cure is to take “after” photos and to kick back and enjoy our new space. I love, love, love a good “Before & After” post and love, love, love my new sewing room, so let’s get to it!

Here is the view into the room before:IMG_0012And here’s the same view (roughly) after:


Here’s the view to the left of the window before:IMG_0013And here’s the same space after:IMG_1061

Here’s the view to the right of the window before:IMG_0020And here’s the view to the right of the window after:IMG_1052

Here’s the closet before:IMG_0023And here’s the closet after:IMG_1057

Here’s the door wall before:IMG_0024And here’s the door after:IMG_1055

And a few more shots of the new room for good measure. My memo board and my Kit Kat clock in his place of honor:

IMG_1058Context shot of the ironing board set-up, dressmaker dummy, and the edge of the sewing desk:
IMG_1054A closer view of the cutting board area and fabric storage cabinets:
IMG_1062And a detail shot of newly framed art:

I can’t even tell you how pleased I am with how it all turned out. It went from a room that made me feel claustrophobic and annoyed to being an airy, pretty space that I adore spending time in. And I can’t believe I made that happen for $230 and a month of work. That’s so cool. And I’m so proud. And so exhausted. But, oh do I love it.

Once I catch my breath and have a little break, I’m really looking forward to doing something similar to every other room in the house. Just maybe at a slightly more relaxed pace.

I’ll be back tomorrow with some final thoughts on the whole experience.

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accountantsOur task for Day 29 of the Style Cure is to “Hang Artwork.” I have hung the artwork, but I’m waiting to reveal how it all turned out with my “after” pictures later this week. Instead today, I want to revisit the budget and see how it all ended up shaking out, money-wise.

Here is the amended version of my earlier prospective budget (actual amounts paid are bolded):

The Budget, Revisited

  • Wall Paint (Quart) $13 Free! $30 (ended up needing a full gallon in addition to my free quart)
  • Primer $0, on hand
  • Trim Paint $0, on hand
  • Spackle $0, on hand
  • Painting & Spackle Supplies $0, on hand
  • Deglosser $7  $4 ($9 + $5 coupon)
  • New task lighting $30 $37 (two lights at $14.99 + two bulbs for $6.99)
  • New storage boxes from Ikea $30
  • New white Lerberg bookshelf from Ikea $20
  • Stain $6   $10 (upgraded to fancier brand that includes poly and saves a step)
  • Foam stain brush $2 $1.77 ($0.59 x3)
  • Cork board material $15
  • Framing material for cork board $10 $0, abandoned cork board project
  • Pegboard $30 $9 for single 4×4 pegboard
  • Pegboard cutting free at Lowes!
  • Pegboard hanging hardware $4
  • Pegboard hooks $0, on hand
  • Craft paint for pegboard $3.18 ($1.99 -40% off coupon at Michaels + 1.99)
  • Artwork  $20 $13  $33
  • Frames for Artwork $30 $10
  • Shelving for artwork $30 $10
  • New desk chair $5
  • Magazine rack $1
  • New Sewing Desk $0, on hand
  • Fabric for desk chair $15  $14.40 (2 yards @$8 each -10% off coupon at
  • Upholstery Tacks $5 $3.78 ($2.99 -40%= $1.79+ $1.99)
  • Extra foam for chair $6  $3.50 ($6.99 + 50% off coupon at Joanns)
  • Curtains $0 (use something I have already) $37.80 (6 yards @$7 each-10% off coupon at
  • Picture hooks $0, on hand
  • Duct tape for door $3
  • Pegboard basket $10 for three

Total $230.43

So, I went $30 (16%) over budget in the end. I would rather have been under (or at) budget, but that’s really not bad. I can live with being $30 over budget and having a space that I like so much. But let’s have a look at what drove up the cost. I’m especially interested to see, being that I actually killed a few items from the original plan/budget along the way.

Some unexpected expenses included paint (so underestimated what I would need), light bulbs (I ended up going led, so at least that’s a good long-term investment cost), and fabric for the curtains, which was not in the original plan. That’s cool, though. $40 for three custom full-size curtain panels that I absolutely love is not bad. Hell, I can even say that $40 covers two full-size custom fabric panels and a new closet door. If I think about it that way it’s a total bargain.

Another area where I went a little overboard was art, frames, and the picture ledge. The frames included 5 $1.99 ribba frames from Ikea and 1 $9.99 ribba picture ledge also from Ikea. Fair enough. But I spent an additional $33 on the vintage patterns and my vintage puppy pin cushion. Etsy is my achilles heel when it comes to being frugal. Oh, well. I love them and am glad I got them. I also lucked out being gifted the framed lamb and pig pictures and having other things like the art nouveau postcard series, kit kat clock, and baskets/trays on hand. $53 aint bad for a room full of unique art and decor.

Over all, not too bad. I’m sure those old time-y accountants up above would not approve of a project ending up 16% over budget, but those accountants also never had the temptations of Etsy, Ikea, and online fabric stores.

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eloiseOur task for Day 27 of the Style Cure is to “Add Selected Accessories.” Today I’d like to show you how my closet curtain turned out. If you recall, here is what the closet looked like before:

IMG_0023The trim was painted a gross dark brown, the doors were fakes (knobs didn’t turn, no latches) that didn’t actually close. And I hadn’t really figured out a good way to use the space inside it, due to its short depth (2′) and sloped ceiling. Basically, it was a really ugly storage space for an empty box and my rarely-used sewing machine cover. It was really crying out for some attention and re-thinking. Here’s the same space today:IMG_1030I love how it came out. Love the fabric, love the color it adds to the room.IMG_1031It’s so soft and feminine and pretty. I can’t get enough of it.IMG_1033I used a leftover tension rod from our old apartment and some cheap Ikea curtain rings to hang it. So much more functional than the old non-working dummy doors. Here’s my notions organization inside:IMG_1036Down the road, I’ll definitely be painting the inside walls of the closet (maybe a different color than the walls in the room), but for now I’m super pleased with it. The final costs were $15 for two yards of fabric plus $3 for the curtain rings. If you were to buy a tension rod like this new, I think it was like $3 at Target. Not bad for something that functions so much better and makes me so happy every time I look at it.

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arstidOur task for Day 26 of the Style Cure is to “Place Only the Furniture and Adjust Lighting.” The furniture has been in place for a while now but one of my last major tasks for the room involves getting the lighting situation up to snuff.

I had been planning to get some new lighting for the sewing desk and move my old (but super functional) clip-on work light over to the cutting table. Unfortunately, I came to realize today that the clamp light doesn’t fit to the top of the cutting table cabinets. Not only that, it also no longer fits the sewing table since I changed it out for the “new” one. Disappointment! It will find a new home in the office or elsewhere, I’m sure. Just means I now need to spend a bit more than I was planning on lighting.

Anyway, we’re heading out to Ikea tomorrow and here’s what I’ve got on my shopping list:

wall lightTwo of these Arstid Wall Lamps (also pictured up top) will go over my sewing desk.  They’re not high-watt lamps but I think they’ll help add a lot of task lighting to the area and the fabric shades will help soften the space. For the cutting board space, I’m torn between these two lights:

desk lampThe Forsa work lamp. He has a similar functionality to the old clamp-on work lamp that I liked and the black color is nice.desk lamp 2The Antifoni work lamp. The nickel-plated color is nice and I like that he seems to stretch a little farther than the Forsa (more like the lamp I liked that I’m replacing). However, Antifoni uses a halogen bulb, which I’m not crazy about for safety/heat reasons.

So, one table lamp, two wall lamps. I’m really looking forward to how much brighter it’s going to be in there and how much better the task lighting is going to be. I have a few other items on the Ikea shopping list to finish off the room and 2 more yards of curtain fabric on order (I decided to go all out and make two full curtains for the window instead of just a cafe curtain). Once the lighting is in place, the pictures are hung, and the curtains hemmed, I can call this sucker done. I’m super-happy with how it’s turning out, but I’m also ready for a break (for a little while).

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IMG_0980Our task for Days 23, 24, and 25 of the Style Cure is to “Paint or Apply Wall Decor.” My massive painting weekend was a while back and I spent most of this past weekend working on the upholstery and peg board projects. So, I’ll spend today showing off some of the wall decor and other pretty things that I’ll be moving into the space in the next few days.

To start with, I had a few big, fake flowers leftover from the hat I was making for the 1930s-themed wedding we attended last month. I got them on super-clearance from Michaels, so there wasn’t much point in returning them when they didn’t get used. I just held onto them and, when I was looking for some decor for the new sewing room, these seemed perfect. The previous owners had left behind a box of old mason jars in the garage, so I took one of the bigger ones, cleaned it up and voila–perfect floral arrangement that doesn’t need watering. I love the way they look with the aqua and mint colors in the room.IMG_0991I picked up this cute lined basket from the Target clearance section a few months ago. I’d originally tried to use it to store some of Busby’s things, but it didn’t work well for that. Now it makes a perfect work basket to store the various projects I’ve got in the hopper. Much better than all the stacks I was constant pilling on available surfaces before.
IMG_0996Oh, my beloved Kit Kat clock. He’s been with me since before my first apartment. Even though he no longer ticks, I’m looking forward to hanging him in a place of honor in his new, appropriately-colored space.IMG_1003These dishes belonged to my Grandma and I’d been hoping to find a good use for them.  She used to put them under houseplants. Now I’m going to use them to corral little tools, pins, bobbins, etc that I need close at hand while working. I love having a part of her in my home.

IMG_1006This lamb picture (I suspect it might have been a picture book illustration at one time) and its matching piggy picture below were a gift from my mom and sister. They came across them in an antique store while on vacation in Galena, IL. My mom picked them out because of my and Chop’s weird lamb/pig thing and my sister picked out the frames at Hobby Lobby. They knew nothing about the sewing room revamp at the time, but it’s crazy how well the colors suit the space.IMG_1008So cute. These are definitely getting a place of honor on either side of the window. I even decided on the curtain rod width based on allowing enough space for these two pictures.IMG_1011These are couple other little odds and ends that should help make the room feel a little more pretty. The hook will hang my embroidery supplies bag, the Alice in Wonderland cup will hold my pencils and pens for making notes, and the bird candle holder will do just what it’s supposed to and hold a scented candle. Am definitely splurging on something nice for the new space from Yankee Candle or Bath and Body Works. This photo does not do the candle holder justice, btw. IMG_1013My vintage Hollywood patterns go well with the color scheme and the other vintage touches. I also broke down and bought the adorable little vintage dog pincushion. They’ll be keeping each other company. IMG_1016I was looking for some additional use-what-you-have artwork for the walls and came across this postcard set I bought at the Glasgow School of Art ten years ago. They’ve been waiting patiently all this time for the proper place to be displayed. Being art nouveau, they don’t exactly match the 40s/50s vintage of the other pieces, but I think that’s okay. I think they could look awesome framed and lined up over the cutting board. This also may be my only place in the house where I can use them, as their pinky palette doesn’t really work anywhere else except in the bathroom, and Chop already vetoed their display there as being too “old lady.”IMG_1018Old lady, schmold lady. I love them. I guess the nursery rhymes make them a little nursery-ish, but since we’re not planning to ever have a being which requires a nursery, I think I’ll use them here. And bonus points because they remind me of one of my favorite places ever. I think I paid a pound for them in 2003. And, oh my god, I can’t believe that was ten years ago. IMG_1019So, there’s some of the decor I’m working with. I feel like I’d like to have at least one larger piece of art, but I also don’t want to run out and get something just to fill the space. I’d rather something come along organically. Anyway, I feel like I’ve got a good start to making the room feel less utilitarian and more cozy.

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IMG_0969Our task for Day 22 of the Style Cure is to “Move Out Furniture and Prep Room.” Dude, I did that shit like two weeks ago. Instead, I present my reupholstered chair.IMG_0970

I took pictures of the process along the way but considering I think I would do everything different now, having done it, I’ll just post the finished product.  It came out a little lumpy in places and certainly doesn’t look pro, but for my first-ever reupholstering job, I’m okay with it.IMG_0971I like it a lot better than the (literally) smelly old lime green vinyl.  Before:

photo copyAnd after:

IMG_0972So much cleaner, better smelling, and prettier. I like it. Looking forward to sitting my butt down and doing lots of sewing in it.

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