DIY Project Round-Up

Happy new year to you all and welcome to new readers! ¬†Now that my subscriber count has surpassed 1,500 (thanks, everyone!) and we’ve rolled into 2013, I wanted to pause to do a DIY project round-up. ¬†Not necessarily comprehensive, just a visual introduction to what goes on around here.

Decorating DIY Projects1: Operation Obscurement: Window Film
2: Wall-Mounted Bottle Opener
3: The Framer’s Intent: Scarf Display
4: Gallery Wall: In Praise of Chopsticks & 3M

DIY Experiments1: Gold Leaf Paint Options
2: Metal Cutting Options

Furniture DIY Projects1: A Harmless Dresser-to-TV Stand Conversion
2: Step by Step IKEA VITTSJO Nesting Table Hack

Garden DIY Projects

1: Raised Garden Beds: Two Tons of Soil, One Bucket
2: Tools for (Over) Planning Raised Garden Beds
3: Canopy Fail, Cinema Success
4: Pipe + Netting Garden Trellis

Cat DIY Projects

1 & 2: Cat Concessions: Plants and Upholstery
3: CATHOLE: Litter Box Cat Door
4: Catio Cleanup

Finally, because I’m always a bit¬†embarrassed¬†by blog’s name, I’d like to remind you that¬†when I say ‚Äúproject!‚ÄĚ, I‚Äôm channeling Cher Horowitz and her love of makeovers. ¬†Because somehow that’s less embarrassing?

Dust Yourself Off and Try Again

Oh, hey there, blog: what‚Äôs up?¬† It’s been a long time (long time), we shouldn’t have left you (left you), without a dope beat to step to.

It’s not that I haven‚Äôt been busy around the apartment, it’s that I’ve been busy making changes that are perceptible only to myself.¬† Take, for example, our kitchen.¬† I had painted it Benjamin Moore‚Äôs Decorator‚Äôs White, which I used in the bathroom and in one of the spare bedrooms to my satisfaction.¬† In the kitchen, however, the paint color always appeared really cold and unfinished to me ‚Äď like it was just a primer coat.¬† I think it‚Äôs because we get very little natural light in the room.

So I tried two different shades: Benjamin Moore’s Dove White (color-matched by Behr) and Behr’s Irish Mist, which is what I used in the living and dining rooms.



Don’t worry if you can’t see that.¬† Only crazy people can. ¬†And tetrachromats.¬† (Did you hear Radiolab’s Colors episode? It was really awesome, especially the choir.)

Here: looking at it from the side makes the difference more visible.


I went with Irish Mist and am very happy with the change. The kitchen feels much less stark. And the cats always enjoy an opportunity to hang out on a ladder. (Looking back at my New Year’s photo suggests they have an agreed-upon positioning.)


I pried off that phone jack you see on the wall in the first photo and discovered this burst of color beneath.


I think it might be original? Or at least very old.


Come back tomorrow for a project I’m excited to share – something with a more noticeable impact. I’ll leave you with a sneak peek!


Gold Leaf Paint Options

My IKEA VITTSJO nesting table hack gave me the luxury of some scrap metal pieces on which to test a few gold leafing paint options. ¬†I did a Google image search when I was considering what sort of paint to use, looking for some clear examples of the different types of finishes. I didn’t have much luck and thought I could contribute to the jpg pool here.

Gold Finishes

From left to right:

Plaid Liquid Leaf in Brass

Amaco Rub ‘n Buff in Gold Leaf

Krylon 18 KT. Gold Leafing Pen

Liquid Leaf Brass

Liquid Leaf was my favorite by far.  It looks rich, kind of marbleized/iridescent, and thick Рlike it was an actual brass cap on the table leg.  It is liquidy, though, so is more likely to run under any painters tape you might use (Scotch Blue worked great for me; FrogTape less so).  You can see additional pictures of this product at Pencil Shavings Studio and Yellow Brick Home.

Rub n Buff Gold Leaf

Rub ‘n Buff creates an interesting, antiqued finish. ¬†As a wax, it seems like a good option if you want something closer to an original finish than an overlaid paint.¬† I found pictures of this product applied to VITTSJO shelves at Home to Three Duncan Boys.

Gold Leafing Pen

The Gold Leafing pen seemed great for detail jobs, but ineffective for broad coverage. It was difficult to apply without streaks.  See Little Green Notebook for additional pictures.

A note to Chicagoans: I was unable to find Rub ‘n Buff at my usual Elston Ave. haunts (Home Depot and Jo-Ann) and Jo-Ann had only a few Liquid Leaf color options.¬† I ventured outside my comfort zone to the Michaels in Lakeview, which had a big selection of these products.¬† Definitely worth the trip even though it puts you dangerously close to Wrigleyville, which, I’m sure we all can agree, is an abomination.

In closing, I leave you with an entirely unnecessary cat photo. Have a good weekend!

Cat Nest

Cat Concessions: Plants and Upholstery

Lola is a bit of a pig when it comes to my houseplants, treating them as an all-you-can-eat salad bar. ¬†Adding plants to my hoard collection is a trial-and-error process: some plants he simply isn’t interested in, others he gorges on until he pukes. ¬†Those are either relocated to my office (which is like a rescue sanctuary for half-eaten plants) or moved out of his reach. ¬†What is officially “out of his reach” is also a trial-and-error process.

Cat Eaten Plant

I wasn’t even sure how he had managed to reach this one until I caught him in the act, wedged up behind and on top of the books below.

Cat Salad Bar

Whatta jerk.

Bad Cat

I decided to mount a plant container on the wall, fully out of fatso’s maw. Enter the¬†IKEA FINTORP rail and container.


IKEA FINTORP Rail with Plant

I also love these modern hanging planters, which I picked up a few years ago at Sprout Home here in Chicago.

Hanging Planters

That’s a somona (euphorbia milii) on the left and a goldfish (nematanthus) on the right.

Hanging Planters

Another decorating concession we have to make because of the cats and their never-ending shedding is our upholstered furniture.  This used to be our solution for our armchairs:

Living Room Chairs with CoversUgh, winter.

I had yards of this fabric leftover from getting the cushions reupholstered, so I asked my tailor to sew two long pieces of fabric. I know that sewing in a straight line should be within my skill set, but, well, it’s not. ¬†(When explaining what I wanted I called them “table runners” because because it was a lot easier than “See, we have these chairs that I want to look like normal chairs while protecting them from cat fur, so I’m going to wrap fabric around them and I want it to look tailored and not sloppy.” ¬†Actually, that sounds pretty simple now, but there’s a language barrier. “Table runner” was easier.)

Living Room Chair with Cover

Living Room Windows

I can easily wash and iron the slipcovers, and when guests come over we can whip off and stash the slipcovers and have a cat-hair-free place for people to sit.


Have a good weekend, e’erbody.

Chair Slipcover