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One Room Challenge: Week Three — Fables of the Reconstruction

Hello friends! Welcome back to the One Room Challenge, the crazy internet wide scramble to completely redecorate one room in six weeks. [Catch up on previous posts HERE.] I am struggling to wrap my head around the fact that we’re now halfway through and I don’t even have a mirror or lighting picked out… I’m feeling a bit like Aesop’s hare here. We made super headway super fast, but now I’m super tired. At any moment I might lie down and twiddle some buckwheat whilst taunting tortoises with better project management skills than mine, but first we need to congratulate me on my hotdogging DIY skillz. At least the hare is flashy, right?

erin williamson | design crisis

As you may recall I started out with a nuclear orange vanity of indeterminate but undeniably bad design. Well, I upgraded those sleazy doors for some fresh and clean oak shaker numbers from Barker Cabinets. I’ll admit that I spent more than a few hours caressing them, getting to know every inch of virgin woodgrain. It was hard to slap on that first coat of stain. But after sanding them smooth with 150 grit paper, I screwed up my nerves and brushed on the Speedball india ink.

Yep. Speedball. India. Ink.

erin williamson | design crisis

Black as night, this stuff is. It makes regular “black” stain look like weak coffee, but if you try this for yourself please learn from my trials and four letter word filled tribulations: do not buy the acrylic ink (on left). The one on the right is what you want (PS, thanks for making the labels look so easy to differentiate, Speedball). It is waterproof and contains shellac, which is a sanding sealer so it doesn’t raise the grain like the acrylic stuff. Also it flows ever so much more nicely and doesn’t build up in tacky layers.

Can you tell that I spent a zillion hours reading woodworking lumber jock forums before I started this project because I am a giant nerd?

erin williamson | design crisis

Now I’m a dirty nerd in need of a manicure.

After permanently dyeing my skin black in the process of brushing on two coats of ink, I finished with Osmo polyx oil.

erin williamson | design crisis

I kind of refused to hermetically seal my hard earned woodgrain with polyurethane, so I spent another brazillion hours researching finishing options before settling on a hybrid hard wax. This stuff is totally food safe and eco friendly, plus is it easy to apply — wax on and wax off Ralph Macchio style. Repeat 8 hours later — crane kick optional but not required. Voila! Delicious juicy woodgrain with a touchable oiled finish.


All that stripping, sanding, and staining, sublimated into one grace note of beauty. I hear angels singing and rainbows weeping with envy.

erin williamson | design crisis

Rather than painting the cabinets black, I used this process as a test for our future kitchen remodel that will probably maybe never happen someday. I don’t mind the idea of painted cabinets, but I do worry about chipping and the difficulty of touch ups — especially with Wrecker and Bruiser around to hasten the demise of any fragile finish. This can be touched up and repaired with relative ease, plus I really like the ebonized look.

erin williamson | design crisis

Now whether this stuff will stand up to dribbled toothpaste and marathon boat parties hosted by our as of yet uninstalled sink, I do not know. This guy wants to remind me not to get too high and mighty on my champion DIY skills.

erin williamson | design crisis

He would also like to know if yogurt from the trash tastes as good as yogurt from the fridge.

erin williamson | design crisis

Because I said no I am not allowed to bask in the glory of my success.

erin williamson | design crisis

Unless I leave to forage for fresh yogurt, in which case I should come back. Now.

It’s a wonder that anything gets done around here. But you may have noticed we managed to drop in an overhead light, positioned above the sink.

erin williamson | design crisis

Hilariously/not hilariously it is located exactly where an overhead light used to exist before the previous owners installed that hideous vanity light. We pretty much went back to the future. Or… something. Time travel confuses me.

erin williamson | design crisis

Light is helpful when you have to spackle and sand at pitch dark o’clock, which also happens to be renovation celebration o’clock. I like ice with my whine. Don’t judge.

erin williamson | design crisis

To top off my winning streak, counters have been ordered and will be installed shortly. Ike picked them out — or so he thinks. He also picked out the gargantuan face bandage which is covering precisely nothing. That’s gonna hurt when it comes off, kid.

To summarize: I am basically king of the world, a super-ish parent with the very best that trash cans and stone yards have to offer, possibly the most talented DIY’er ever, and definitely a designer in charge of her own destiny.

Except that I had a hyperventilating panic attack and ordered totally DIFFERENT WALLPAPER. Bad hare, baaaad hare. From winning the race to cowering under a rock with my face in the dirt. Self saboteur in the extreme.

Goodbye beadboard, hello new wipeable wallpaper. We will discuss this ad infinitum next week. For now, just know how the mighty have fallen. I am in trouble.

Until then, please do see how my fellow participants are faring in their own race against time. Only three more weeks left to go!

Abby M. Interiors

Because it’s Awesome

Bijou & Boheme

Calling It Home

Chez V

Chinoiserie Chic

Copy Cat Chic

The Decorista

Design Crisis

Design Indulgence

Design Manifest

The English Room

The Glam Pad

Little Black Door

Mimosa Lane

My Notting Hill

The Pink Pagoda

Simple Details

My Sweet Savannah

Verandah House

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Grooving On DIY Graphics

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s high summer and things are moving at a rather leisurely pace here at DC headquarters. I’m too busy with BBQs and pool playdates to do any hard hitting entertainicles right now, but I did manage to scrounge up a few delightful tidbits for you — our loyal readers. If you saw yesterday’s post about Karly’s curtain project, then you know that a little DIY graphic goodness can make a gigantinormous difference. Let’s check out some other ideas for simple, punchy projects. Behold:

Eye Spy

While I don’t really want to think about how much work it actually took to paint that floor, I am seeing some definite, cheap possibilities for radical change. Is this not the best idea ever for crapoflaging those hideous screenprinted tiles that seem to run rampant in otherwise nice homes? I am wondering how durable the finish would be, though. Does anyone have experience painting tile?


Step one: find huge, cheap gold frames. Step two: paint your own shapes or cut up a big piece of fabric and frame. Step three: steal those lamps. heh.

LA Times

Sure it’s a little voyeuristic, but at least you’ll never be lonely in bed again. As I recall, this fabric was created with digital imaging and then sewn into a coverlet. There are so many digital service bureaus out there now that I’m sure there must be some reasonable options for printing your own fabric masterpieces.

Nicolas Matheus

A couple of graphic touches can make a big impact in a neutral space. It would take three seconds to have those shapes cut out of MDF and paint them up all 80s Memphis like. The settee is a relatively easy upholstery job that could be done on the cheap with Ikea fabric, and y’all know I’m nothing if not hot for the cheap and easy.

Andrea Ferrari

Dudes, I will be knocking this idea off someday. I can’t afford Fornasetti’s stunning Nuvole wall mural, but I can have my own images printed by Design Your Walls. I actually flipped this image into a mirrored pattern much like the one above and then had it printed as wallpaper, which was really easy to do and relatively inexpensive. Think I might try some different images and see what I can come up with.

You know… after I finish BBQing and swimming.

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Thrift Score

Right now my house is an absolute mess.  Totally and completely.  My refrigerator is empty too, which has forced me to live on a scrambled egg white and turkey bacon diet for the last few days.  Remedying both of these problems was at the top of my to-do list this weekend but you know what?  I didn’t do any of it.  Instead I spent the entire day Sunday watching movie marathons on tv and catching up on my crafting projects.  Regrets: zero; New pieces of artwork: 2.

This is a before and after post, so don’t be scared by this first picture:

I found this bandaid colored mess at the thrift store last Friday and was really digging all the pattern magic that was happening.  The flesh tones, not so much.  So I dug out my box of paints and paint brushes and grabbed a sharpie then went to town.  The results?

A brightly colored laser-light-show wonderland that isn’t nearly as blurry in real life as it is in this photo.  I know, I know, I’ve been laser light show crazy lately, but at least I put a new spin on this with the little black triangles scattered throughout.  It was a risk, but I think it paid off.

Here’s a closeup of my master work:

The polka dots weren’t here before, either.  I also added the red, blue, yellow and green because those were the only decent colors I could find.  Seriously, I don’t know where all my good paint ran off to.

I had such a grand ole time sprucing up the print, once I was done I decided to move on to the 3 dimensional project I’ve had on the docket for quite some time now.  I found this creepy madonna and child sculpture at a thrift store in Ft. Smith, Arkansas over Christmas break.  Having wanted to play laser party on a sculpture for a while now, I figured this was as good as any to start with.  One Tom Hanks movie later and here’s what I got:

I have to admit, I actually tried this project right after Christmas with decidedly different results.  I originally taped off all the areas I wanted to keep white then spray painted the exposed portions with black paint.  Despite my meticulous taping, you know that paint bled and it was yuckytown USA.

I repainted her white and started from scratch.  This time, I bought chartpak tape, a thin, high-gloss tape that comes in every color of the rainbow (even metallic gold!).  The lines you see here aren’t paint, they’re actually tape.  Once the chart-pac tape was applied, I sprayed her with clear-gloss spray paint to keep everything in place.  Here are more views:

And that is that.  Now I have to skeedaddle, these groceries aren’t going to buy themselves.

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Thrifty Cent

I’m a Gemini.  I’m not so sure I completely believe in all the astrological brew-ha-ha, but I do think there’s something to be said for a belief system that resides in the international social subconscious.  Be it the moon’s pull or a self-fulfilling prophecy, my Gemini-ness is most evident in my split personalities.  I’m not crazypants, but I do have two equal and opposite forces fighting tooth and nail with in me at all times:  I have expensive taste but I am cheap frugal.

Luckily, I have cultivated other characteristics to assist in marginalizing the internal struggle:  I’m a superstar at haggling and I’m not so bad at fixing things up.  Here are 3 projects I’ve worked on in the last couple of weeks that have satisfied each twin that lives inside this little gemini:

I found this lucite gem at the City Wide Garage Sale last weekend.  Normally I go when the best deals are to be had:  just before close on Sunday.  This time, I tried something different:  I went when the doors opened on Saturday and the, ahem, planets aligned and the gods presented me with this vintage lucite barrel chair.

The price was $130, which is approximately 13 times more than I like to spend on a chair, but my frugal side also knows a good deal when it sees one (similar chairs are going for $800 – $900 online).  I talked them down (of course) to $100 and hauled ass out of the convention center.

Now, don’t be fooled by the quasi-good lighting.  That fabric is one thousand percent polyester and had enough dirt to fill a shallow grave.   I ripped it off post-haste.

After taking off the offending upholstery, I realized why the seat was so uncomfortable:  most of the rubber supports were rotten and torn to shreds.  I cut new ones and Matt stapled them on for me.  Look, I’m crafty, I can make things, but few people on this earth are strong enough to work the devil’s hand-tool that is Matt’s staple gun.  One half-clutch of the handle is enough to give you a life-long battle with carpal tunnel syndrome

Once the internal repairs were complete it was time to spiff up the seat.  I chose to cover the seat with fabric cut from a vintage silk scarf that I had purchased at a City Wide Garage Sale several months ago for two whole dollars.

I then covered the scarf with clear vinyl.  I chose to use the vinyl for several reasons: 1.  Putting plastic on furniture is hilarious.  2.  I wanted to protect the scarf and 3.  I wanted to give the seat the same wow-pizzazz as it’s lucite shell.  In person, it looks lovely together.

Because I didn’t have enough fabric from scarf #1 to line the outer edge of the seat, I used fabric from a second scarf also purchased from the garage sale several months ago for $.99.  See, Erin, I do have a use for all the fabric I hoard.

Moving on to project #2

I bought this sad little excuse for a chair at a yard sale for $2 a year or so ago.  When I brought it home I could see Matt’s little mind adding up the plausibility of filing for divorce.  I promised him glory and grandeur then the chair sat for months.   Now that my office is almost done (pictures coming soon, promise) I finally had a need for it at my sewing station.

I painted it with high-gloss black spray paint, then recovered the seat with this awesome black and white Native American graphic print fabric I purchased when I lived in Albuquerque a gazillion years ago.  I’m almost positive that I got it off the $1/yard table.  I bought every last inch and have used it for several projects over the years, this is the first time it’s appeared on an item for my home, though.

And finally, project #3

I bought this lame lion head print from the thrift store for $7.99.  It felt a bit steep for all that mucky beige art, but I had a plan and figured that, even if I failed, at least the frame was worth 3 times the price.

I used a straightedge to draw laser-light-show lines across the background, then taped off each area separately and painted as needed.  It should be noted that I originally planned to cut out the lion head and put him on a new background, but the print is mounted on thick cardboard and I wasn’t sure I could cut it out cleanly.  The result?

This little lion was relocated from depressingville to crazytown.  I think he likes it better there.  Oh, I painted the frame black, too.

All of these projects are living in my office now.  Here are all the before and afters together.  Are you starting to get a sense of the color scheme?

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Finally, A How To: How to Make a Tapestry Headboard on the Cheap

Several months ago I saw the most insane headboard somewhere on the world wide web.  This evening my ego as a savvy internet searcher has taken a major blow, because, alas, I CAN NOT FIND THE DAMN PICTURE  TO SAVE MY LIFE.  But trust me when I tell you that it was phenomenal:  a big ole tacky tapestry depicting the Last Supper had been repurposed as a king-sized headboard.  While I didn’t have a picture of the beast, it’s image shined bright as the inspiration for the, ahem, How-To that I will show you kids today.

Look!  Our fist How-To!  How sweet.  Since I don’t have the original photo, here’s a nice opening shot with another tapestry behind a bed (unfortunately, not as a headboard)

If you would like to have a tapestry behind your bed, but you want to crank it up a few notches, I suggest you follow these instructions: 

1. Scour the local thrift stores for a tapestry large and ferocious enough to do the trick (make sure it’s at least a couple inches wider than the bed).  

I found some great tapestries on ebay here, here and here

Because I’m cheap and I love a bargain, I will brag that I got this 66″ wide tapestry for only $19.  I’m better at finding deals than I am at taking pictures, so I apologize for the craptastic photos.

2.  Get yourself some plywood.  You’ll want it to be the same width as the bed and about 8 inches shorter than your tapestry. Make sure it is thick enough to stay flat against the wall, but don’t bother blowing your family’s savings.  This $9 board did just fine

BONUS:  Have the dudes at the hardware store cut it to size for ya, it’s free and saves you loads of time.

3.  Here’s where the savings start rolling in:  Buy a small roll of carpet padding.  Every other site on the planet will tell you to use foam from the craft store but not here at Design Crisis, ut-uh, no way.  Were all about saving the Benjamins and this little pointer will cut your crafting costs by at least 75%.  Be sure there is enough square footage on the roll to cover your board twice.  

4.  Cut out 2 pieces of carpet foam the exact same size as your headboard.  If your roll won’t make 2 exact pieces, you can use remnants from the first cut to cover the board a second time.

5.    Get yourself some spray adhesive.  WARNING:  Do not buy your adhesive at the craft store, it literally costs 4 times as much as the spray adhesive at the hardware store and isn’t as strong.   

6.  Spray a 1 foot wide section of the wood, starting at the edge, fold your foam over and smooth it on to the board.  Work your way across the wood in 1 foot wide sections.  

7. Repeat for the second layer, spraying your adhesive onto the first layer of foam in 1 foot wide sections

8.  Have a sip of whatever cocktail you are enjoying

9.  I think I missed a photo or two during my craft session, but I think you can see what’s happening here:  lay your tapestry face-down on the floor with the board face-down on top.  BE SURE TO CENTER IT

10.  Fold each edge over and staple one time on the center of each side, pull the fabric a bit as you go to make sure it’s taught.

11.  Have a stapler party and finish stapling all the sides, working your way from the center out

12.  Be sure to fold your corners real pretty like.

13.  Find a boy to put some triangle hanger thingies on the back – 2 will work (make sure the screws are no longer than the thickness of your wood)

- sorry about asking for a boy to do it, I can weld, change the tires of my car and clean up cat vomit, but I don’t use wood working tools – 

14. Hang, finish your cocktail, and enjoy

15. Continue enjoying while figuring out what to do with the rest of the room

This little project took about an hour and cost roughly $60.  Not too shabby.  Here are some other tapestry headboards for your viewing pleasure:

both images via vintage and chic

And I’d like to thank our friend, Andrea, for a heads up to these quaint little tapestry pieces:

Frederique Morre creates custom-covered home goods using recycled tapestries. What do you think, should I have 12 of those sofas in the room with my headboard?  Too much?

And finally, one last tapestry-over-something shot:

Suzy Hoodless

If I remember correctly, one of the DC New Year’s resolutions was to start posting how-tos, I can’t believe we actually did it but look, now you think we’re good and honest girls.  With pretty headboards.

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