“Keys to the Future”

My apologies for the radio silence all week… our house is up for sale, and while there have been some interesting developments, I’m saving them for another post… trust me, you’ll wanna read that one! Things got all Murphy’s Law on us… In the … Continue reading

A cheap, quick and dirty job.

So, I bought these chairs.DSC02729 chairs edited 2

I found them at Value Village.  And it was love at first sight. I spotted them among a bunch of junky furniture,  and was immediately drawn to the chrome frame, because it matched my chrome and glass coffee table perfectly. And I like shiny things too. Jon calls me a magpie.

Anyway, I was wandering the furniture section at Value village on a  Thursday night when Jon was out of town. I had just had Easy Home pick up the rental furniture that didn’t work and drop off a different bedroom set, leaving the living room empty.  I was actually on the hunt for more colourful accessories to match what I had already purchased, but I do have to admit, finding something to fill the living room space was in the back of mind. The idea of leaving the living room empty was a bit anxiety- inducing to me, like I mentioned here. But it wasn’t what I was on the prowl for, because I just honestly didn’t think it would happen. I had no budget, so even with my thrifting skills I wasn’t even really trying because it seemed so out of reach.

Then I saw these chairs. They were marked $7.99 each. After a bit of inspection, discovering that they were in really good shape, and that the tweed was probably original, I decided they were coming home with me. I just couldn’t pass them up. I would have bought them even if I wasn’t on the half- lookout for some Unicorns of  living room furniture. One just doesn’t come across perfect mid-century, possibly Milo Baughman, chrome chairs that often. If they are real Milo Baughman chairs, they could be worth a pretty penny, but I didn’t find an obvious tag so I’ll have to do some investigating.

I attempted to balance one chair in my shopping cart and dragged the other behind me to the checkout  to get me another of those big ole’ SOLD signs so no one else would swipe them.  Then I ran back to the fabric section to see if there was anything I could use to do a quick & dirty re-upholstery,since I didn’t really have time to attempt my first all-get-out re-upholstery job. And lo and behold, there was a huge piece of black fabric for $4.99. I felt like the thrift gods must have been smiling over me that night, because everything was working out just fine ( knock on wood). I just prayed I could get them in the car.

I had also found a bunch of decorative stuff I was planning to buy before I found the chairs. Then, because they were such a  major coup, I decided to put the majority of the stuff back, because I didn’t love most of it the way I loved those chairs. I ended up buying two things; this really interesting bowl for $4.99 and another vase that matched the others I picked up the day before for $3.99:

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Then at the checkout, the woman only charged me for one of the chairs. I didn’t realize till I got home and looked at my receipt  but had thought the total was cheaper than expected…bonus! I’m not about to look a gift horse…er, chair… in the mouth.

So I’m kinda in love with these chairs. Except with the tweed. It’s in good shape and perhaps would work well in another space, but with the brand new black/ white/ gray/modern-ish theme we have going on in the house, it didn’t quite work. So enter my DIY re-upholstery, quickie-style:

The materials I used for this project were: black fabric ( a large piece, about 30 x 170 if I remember correctly, but don’t quote me on that. It cane from VV), scissors, my putty knife and a screwdriver. I began by cutting the fabric in half:


Oh yes, and I used thumbtacks. From the dollar store. I told you this was a cheap DIY!

I laid the fabric out long over the chair so that the excess draped over the seat:


Then I flipped the chair over so I was starting with the back of the chair. And I proceeded to use my putty knife to shove the end of the fabric under the metal crossbar at the back:DSC02750

Please keep in mind I had never really attempted something like this before, so I had no idea if it would actually work or be a major fail. I wasn’t following any directions or a project scooped from Pinterest- this was all me, winging-it.

My method was mostly shove-the-ends-in-the-cracks-and wrap-it-like-a-present. With a few thumbtacks thrown in to hold the folds down. So once I had the end of the fabric shoved into the cross bar in the back, I righted the chair and pulled the fabric up over the top of the chair, and tucked a fold down in between the seat back and the cushion: DSC02752  And anchored it down on the side with a thumbtack:DSC02758

Then I pulled the fabric down and tucked it in between the seat and back. Then the fabric got pulled down the side of the chair seat, and anchored under the seat with a thumbtack:DSC02755 I did the same on the other side, but realized my material was a bit skinny width-wise, so I couldn’t get it pulled under the chair. So i just left the side unanchored, as the fabric hung down almost long enough to cover the side ( this is what you get for blindly buying Value Village material without measuring anything): DSC02757

Then I doubled the fabric under itself because it was wayyy to long, but i didn’t want to cut it, just in case. It was long enough to wrap the end completely under itself all the way to where the seat meets the back, and I shoved the excess fabric in there.  While I was pulling and tucking the fabric into the front of the seat of the chair and vigorously trying to get the fabric under the front chrome seat bar with my putty knife, I realized there were screws that were holding the metal support bar tight to the seat frame. DSC02753So, brilliant me, I unscrewed the screws a bit, and it made it much easier to shove the fabric in, and re-tighten: DSC02761Much easier.DSC02762

Once the seat was done, I went back up to the sides of the back cushion section that I had left open. I basically tucked the fabric in the way you would wrap a present and used a thumbtack to keep it in place:


And voilà:DSC02767

Wash, rinse and repeat on the other chair, and you have a set of brand-new fancy-schmancy modernist chairs: DSC02766

Not bad for about $15/ for the set!  And it took me about an hour and a half to do the whole DIY from start to finish. Unicorns indeed! Wait till you see how these babies made that awkward, small living room look like a designers dream… That’ll be up next!

the “Before”

It has been our experience so far, and probably for anyone that’s ever moved, that there is a huge difference between what a house looks like when you view it while the previous occupants are still living there, and how it looks after they leave. when we were moving out of our old house, I didn’t want to be one of those people who leaves a dirty mess behind for the next person to have to clean before moving in. So I spent a ton of time at the old house cleaning after we moved all our stuff out; floors, bathroom, even cleaned out the fridge. Jon kept telling me I was crazy, because no one ever does that.  I interested on doing it anyway. And apparently he was right ( look sweetie, I even put it in black and white!) because the new place was a little grody when we got it. Lucky thing we planned to rip it apart!

I made sure to take a ton of “before” pictures, so here they are:


the front walk.  the previous people had a penchant for this pebbly-mosaic- its all over the place!


“dining” room ( standing at front door looking right) and doorway into kitchen . and Jon measuring 


Living room

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Staircase. also a glimpse of the lovely ceiling tiles: 



now, you may notice the kitchen looks a bit different than in the real estate pictures; that’s because it really is a macgyvered kitchen. The only actual counter space was the bit where the sink is, and the oven is kinda floating in no-man’s land in the middle. they had an Ikea kitchen cart between the stove and the random tall cabinet coming out into the room to make it look like an island, and an acceptable U-shaped kitchen. But it was really all lies…



and more pebbles around the mirror…told you they liked them! 

The back room… this was being used as a utility room basically- the laundry was back here, along with some rough shelving, a closet and a side door to the patio. Fabulous color choices as well: 

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This room was especially grody, poorly finished and just all around crap, really.  It has so much more potential than this…

and it also has the stairs to the dungeon, ahem, basement ( notice the disclaimer): 


And then the basement itself:


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not bad for a 130+ year old basement- the Medusa-like furnace notwithstanding. But it works just fine! The basement only has 5′ of  clearance, but other than storage, what are you gonna do down there anyway?

and the master bedroom… although at 9′ x9.5′ or so, there’s really not a whole lot that’s  masterful about it:

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and the second “bedroom” –>  although how this can be called a bedroom, i’m not sure… its 9.5′ x5’7″, and i believe our city requires bedrooms to be at least 8×9 to be a legal bedroom, as per a Realtor, but what do i know…

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( i know these pics look mostly like walls, my apologies… the room is so small its hard to get in to to take a picture of it!)

and then a few pictures of some of the lovely details of the house: the hardwood flooring, light fixtures, crazy electrical boxes, ceiling tiles, etc: 

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And there you have the “Before” of the little house…although not for long!

next up: Demo Day!

Hello world!

Hello! Thanks for visiting our blog about the BIG renovation of a Little house!  If you know us, and have stopped by because we’ve been telling everyone we know about how we started a blog, then you already know a bit of the back-story, but if not, and you just stumbled upon our blog, here’s a bit of background on this crazy venture of ours.

My husband Jon and I recently purchased a circa-1880 1000 sq ft, 2 bed 1 bath house that we plan to gut and entirely re-imagine. We have done this once before already; I will post as much as I can on our first little house reno, but unfortunately we did not have the foresight to take many pictures and document that journey as we should have, cuz it was a real learning experience for both of us!  But it has brought us here, to this second house that is a whopping  130 years old and in need of a bit of TLC.

Here are the pictures of our Little House from the real estate listing…

This is our House from the outside:


It’s a cute little place, and ticked all the boxes we had on our house-hunting list: an old house with character, in need of some work, in a great location close to downtown, and cheap enough that we could put some money into it and get a decent return( fingers crossed). It also has its own cute backyard for Molly with a little patio area and shed:

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 Molly, BTW, is our 2.5 year old 8.5 lb Chihuahua, pretty much the love of our and everyone -who-meets-her life. more on her later.


how can you not love that face?!?!

So from the outside the house doesn’t look too bad, and is actually in pretty good shape; the siding is fairly new, and the roof is one of those metal ones that will last forever… so from the outside, all is good. which is helpful, cuz the inside, not so much.  But that not to say the inside was terrible; there was a young family that was living here before selling it to us, and they seemed quite happy there and it didn’t look terrible when we viewed it originally and wasn’t listed as a fixer-upper or anything. if i recall correctly, the real estate listing ad described it as a “beautifully decorated character home”. which i guess is a subjective description depending on your definition of those words.

so this is what the house looked like when we viewed it, prior to purchase:

Living room:


(what they were calling the) Dining Room:






Master Bedroom:


Bedroom #2:


Most of the earthy tones this house was painted were not my cup of tea, and neither was all the golden pine everywhere- floors, trim, all over the place. But to each their own. It was cute, but the whole thing had a bit of a shabby feel to it; it actually photographs WAY better than it looks in person. Jon and i had looked at a ton of houses,none of which were ever quite the fight fit for us prior to deciding on this one.  We had put offers in on a few places, even new-ish ones, but they never worked out for one reason or another; usually because we wanted the property for much less than the owners were willing to sell for. but it all worked out in the end!

Next up: the “Before” pictures of the house, after we took posession!