Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

(QUICK NOTE: This furniture redo is based on the theme “Inspired By”. Make sure to read my exciting news at the end of the post for more info and more furniture ideas.)

I work as a “creative consultant” for my salon/spa. It sounds fancy – because I totally made up the title for myself – but really just means I get to make cool stuff for their customers and for the salon space. (These hand-painted mugs are a project I’ve done for them.)

Several months ago they asked me to reupholster this chair from their lobby.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

I don’t know anything about upholstery so of course I said, “yes, I can do that.”

I’m not gonna lie, that chair sat in my basement for a long, long time. I had no idea what to do with it. Every time I googled “how to upholster a parsons chair” I got confused. Every time I went to the fabric store I came home empty-handed.

Then the salon went through an amazing expansion. I could go on and on about it but all that really matters for this story is the slat wall in the new spa lobby. Guys, check this out.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Gorgeous, right?  Can you believe one of the owners created it using upcycled fence pieces from her back yard? I can’t get over how much color and texture it adds.

Needless to say, I was inspired. I stormed the fabric store like Kanye during a Taylor Swift acceptance speech and came home with the most perfect material in the exact same color palette. Success! Now on to the upholstery job.

NOTE: This is NOT a tutorial. It’s more of a story about how a first-timer tackled an upholstery project with no clue what she was doing. Also, I should let you know that I went into this with basic sewing skills. I’ve made pillows and curtains and can follow a simple pattern but that’s the extent of it. Enough chatter already. Let’s do this.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

TIP #1: Take tons and tons of photos BEFORE YOU START AND EVERY SINGLE STEP ALONG THE WAY. I cannot emphasize this enough. You’re getting ready to completely disassemble this piece of furniture and without photos you’ll have no idea how to put it back together. The pics don’t have to make sense to anyone else but you. Just take a lot. Then take more.

With my camera in hand I started “un-upholstering”. Staple by staple I removed the old pleather cover. Then, with it off the chair but still in one piece, I got out my Sharpie and marked things up.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

TIP #2: Use a Sharpie to mark the old fabric you remove from the chair. I made notes about direction. I scribbled reminders about which side of the seat it came from. I drew arrows that would help me remember where seams connected. I marked anything that I thought might be helpful down the road when I was trying to put the puzzle back together. Again, the notes don’t need to make sense to anyone but you.

Next I “unstitched” all the seams with my seam ripper and voila! — I had the perfect pattern pieces to create my new chair cover. Now it was just a matter of basic cutting, pinning, and sewing like I would with any store-bought pattern.

TIP #3: Consider using scrap fabric (or an inexpensive flat sheet from Wal-Mart in my case) to sew a “test cover” before you start cutting your expensive upholstery fabric. This idea has its advantages and disadvantages. It did help me avoid some costly mistakes but, on the downside, the sheet was so cheap and flimsy that it was frustrating to work with.

(If you follow me on Facebook you already know there was a mishap involving a certain cat and this project. #eightlivesleft)

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

TIP #4: When cutting, add several extra inches of fabric on the edges that will be stapled to the chair frame. This will ensure you have plenty of room for pulling and stapling at the end of the project.

Oddly enough while this stage is where the pieces started coming together and the magic started to happen, there’s really not much to say about it. It was a lot of pin, sew, swear, repeat. Oh, and a lot of referencing the photos I took. They were invaluable when it came to figuring out how the back and seat pieces fit together.

One other thing I want to point out. Those tight curves at the top of the chair back were a beast! Thankfully a little google research revealed that cutting small slits along the curve helps the fabric lay flat and run through your machine without gaps or puckers.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Here are a couple of links that explain it much better than I can. They offer several solutions but for me a few simple slits or notches was enough to get the job done.

http://sweetbriarsisters.com/blog/sew-opposing-curves/
http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2015/02/sewing-curved-seams/

So with the sewing done it was finally time to put the new cover on and staple it in place. This was by far the easiest part of the whole project. I didn’t follow any specific rules or instructions – just pulled things taunt, made sure everything was smooth and stapled my heart out.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! It was a challenge but definitely worth it. If you’re thinking about trying something like this don’t be intimidated like I was and let it sit in your basement for months. It’s really just about taking something apart and then putting it back together in reverse order.

Remember the news I mentioned waaaay back at the beginning of this post? Here it is – I’ve been invited to join a new group called Furniture Refresh.

furniture refresh logo 2

Every month we’ll each be sharing a “refreshed” piece of furniture based on a changing theme. All of the projects will be shared across our blogs so it’s the perfect opportunity for you furniture lovers to find some great new ideas. This month’s theme is “Inspired By”. Enjoy!


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Inexpensive Teen Bed Update

Teen Queen’s bed frame is old. The veneer was peeling and the finish was scratched up. It had some cool lines but it was far from cool. So I decided when she was gone for a few days to surprise her with a bed update.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

It’s nothing fancy, just paint and fabric but if you take a look at these “before” photos you’ll see how far it’s come. Please note I took these pics of her room in its “as is” condition. See how even the cat looks terrified to be in there? Yes, it’s embarrassing but it could be worse. And yes, that is a roll of toilet paper that I found under her bed.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

I started by taking everything outside and roughing it up with sandpaper. These pics only show the headboard but the footboard got the same treatment.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Then a coat of primer. I had grey tinted primer leftover from something (I have no idea what) so I used it. Of course you can use white or whatever you have on hand.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

And finally, clean, crisp, white paint.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Ahhhh – a mazillion times better already. But I wanted more. I wanted to add something fun and colorful to that middle inset panel. I went digging through my stash and found some IKEA fabric, scrap cardboard, and duct tape. Perfect.

Here’s the cardboard. It was leftover from a history presentation Teen Queen did last year for school.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

I used newspaper to make a template of the inset shape, traced it onto the cardboard, and cut it out. The only problem was the scores/folds in the cardboard. They made it kind of floppy and hard to work with. So I wrapped them a few times with duct tape to fix it up. (Oddly enough, all I could find in the garage was SpongeBob SquarePants duct tape. What does that say about my household?)

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Next I wanted to add some batting so it would feel more like an upholstered headboard. Luckily I found a piece of fleece in my fabric scraps that was big enough to do the trick. Any thick piece of fabric will work if you don’t want to go out and buy batting. I’ve even been known to cut up old blankets that we don’t use anymore.

I laid the fleece under the cardboard and cut it to the same shape. Don’t worry about being perfect. It will all be covered in the end.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Then I used spray adhesive to stick the fleece to the cardboard so it didn’t skooch around during the next step. (Sorry I forgot to shoot a pic.) You can use any adhesive you have, even SpongeBob duct tape would work.

Finally it was time to put on some pretty fabric. It really is a easy as wrapping a present.
1. Cut the fabric into a rectangle approximately three inches bigger on all four sides than the cardboard cut-out.
2. Lay your fabric rectangle, wrong-side-up, on your work surface.
3. Place your cardboard cut-out, batting-side-down, on top of the fabric rectangle.
4. Using duct tape (I found a roll of white in my daughter’s craft box) or whatever adhesive you have, wrap and stick the excess fabric onto the back of the cardboard.
5. When you come to a corner don’t over think it. Just fold and tuck until you get the fabric as smooth as possible and stick it down.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

As for those funky triangular ends, I just cut a slit in my fabric almost all the way to the cardboard then folded and taped.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

When you’re done flip it over and “voila”!

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

The last step was attaching it to the headboard. Surprisingly, I did not use duct tape. Instead I bought a couple packages of peel and stick velcro. It worked perfectly and makes it possible to take the panel out and update the fabric whenever Teen Queen changes her mind.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Sorry I can’t pan out and share a glorious full room “after” photo but it’s really, really scary in there. This will have to do for now.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

 

Roadside Redo: Little Black Chair All Dressed Up For Spring

Roadside Redo: Little Black Chair All Dressed Up For Spring | laughingabi.com

Yesterday I shared my spring porch decorations and promised to tell you about the roadside redo chair I used. Here she is!

Roadside Redo: Little Black Chair All Dressed Up For Spring | laughingabi.com

Does anyone recognize the before pic? You’ve see my trashy little chair before HERE, holding a bucket of Christmas goodies.

Roadside Redo: Little Black Chair All Dressed Up For Spring | laughingabi.com

I decided since she was playing the lead role this time she deserved some paint. I primed first then put on two coats of black leftover from our DIY window boxes. (NOTE: I got this paint for free during a promotional thing Ace Hardware was running a while back. The problem is they were only giving away flat sheen which is horrible for exterior applications. I plan to go back and buy a quart in semi-gloss soon so I can recoat everything in something more cleanable.)

Next Josh built a new seat out of some scrap cedar we had in the garage.

Roadside Redo: Little Black Chair All Dressed Up For Spring | laughingabi.com

A little more paint.

Roadside Redo: Little Black Chair All Dressed Up For Spring | laughingabi.com

And she was ready for her costume pillow.

This pillow is nothing fancy – just a square stuffed with fluff – but the fabric makes me so happy! I bought it at Jo-Ann’s for 50% off and I’m pretty sure I’ll be going back to get more. To save some fabric and money I decided to take apart an outdoor pillow I already had and use the scraps to put this new one together. The red color was a great match for the back and I was able to reuse the stuffing too. Win-win.

Roadside Redo: Little Black Chair All Dressed Up For Spring | laughingabi.com

Did you notice my fancy ties? Those were Josh’s idea and they’re perfect to hold my masterpiece down during our Chicagoland wind storms. I would love to show you how I made them but I neglected to take any pics. (Sad trombone here.) Maybe next time I’ll remember.

Roadside Redo: Little Black Chair All Dressed Up For Spring | laughingabi.com

Roadside Redo: Little Black Chair All Dressed Up For Spring | laughingabi.com

Roadside Redo: Little Black Chair All Dressed Up For Spring | laughingabi.com

Isn’t she lovely? I’m so happy when I can repurpose something that was on it’s way to the landfill. Have you saved anything lately and turned it into a star?

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations

Last week I shared my finished fireplace and mantel and gave you a sneak peek at my spring mantel decorations. Today I’m showing you how I put them all together.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Before we talk birds and flowers we should revisit the aged wood background that everything is hanging on. I made it HERE for about $20 and I love the texture it adds to the room. It seems to be the perfect backdrop, no matter what season it is.

Now for some flowers. Bright yellow Forsythia leaves scream spring so I hit Michael’s during a 50% off sale and grabbed a handful of “fakeys” and a grapevine wreath. All-together I spent $17.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

This is the part where I admit I totally faked it. I have no idea how you’re supposed to make a wreath. All I did was cut off the sprigs with a pair of pliers, jabbed them into the grapevine, and wrapped some floral wire around it in random spots. Does that count as a tutorial? Maybe? No? Either way, I’m happy with how it turned out.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Oh, and as for those empty mason jars, I have a plan for those. How perfect will THIS be in them? I can’t wait to try it. I’ll be sure to post an update.

The gold cage and birds were the most challenging part of this project but they’re also my favorite things on the mantel. I started with a plain artist’s canvas from the craft store. (I had one on hand but you can pick them up at Michael’s or JoAnn’s.) A coat of primer and two coats of Clark + Kensington Blue Jolt paint and it was ready for a cage.

I wish I could offer a stencil or pattern or something but I found THIS clip art online and just sketched it out one night while my daughter was at swim practice. (Sorry for the fuzzy iphone pic.)

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Once my sketch was done I used a gold paint pen to trace the lines and my favorite gold leaf paint from THIS project to fill in the bigger areas. Voila!

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Up next – birds. Here’s how I made them:
1. I started with THIS clip art and enlarged it on my monitor to the size I wanted.
2. I taped a piece of paper to my screen and oh-so-delicately traced the outline.
3. I cut out the bird and then used it as a template to trace the same shape onto a piece of heavy cardstock. This would ensure it was stable enough to stand up to paint.
4. I cut out the cardstock bird and painted it with the same gold leaf paint I used on the cage.

Obviously I did this twice, making the second bird smaller.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Did you notice how the bigger bird is layered in front of the canvas? I tried to give him some depth by gluing a piece of folded cardstock to his back so it created a tab that sticks out perpendicular to the body. I slid that tab between two of the wooden slats and it created the “flying” bird effect. This might have been Josh’s idea but he can never prove it.

The last element was the easiest. A simple frame, a coat of cheery coral paint, and a scrap of fabric leftover from THIS project.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Add a gnome candle and an an awkwardly empty vase which I promise to fill it as soon as something blooms around here, and you’ve got a mantel all ready for spring. (You’ll see some votive candles standing in for the mason jars in some of these pics.)

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.comI love the bright colors and the look of spring when I walk in the door even though my furnace has been running all day. Sigh.

What are you decorating for spring? Any birds or flowers made their way into your house? Any bright pops of spring color?

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

My kids’ after-school schedules are insane. The biggest problem is my oldest daughter’s show choir commitment. Her director throws a dart at the calendar for rehearsal dates then decides pick-up times based on the number of eggs in her refrigerator that morning. (Who’s sarcastic?) And of course when one kid’s schedule changes the dominoes topple until nobody knows when they’re coming home or how they’re getting there.

So of course I turned to Pinterest for organizational inspiration. I found gobs of “command centers” but they were too complicated for my needs. I wanted to design something just as functional but on a much smaller scale. Here’s what I did.

1. Started with a thrift store frame.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

2. Bought a piece of foam core and cut it to fit. Cost me $3.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

3. Found a piece of plexi-glass to fit.
Since my frame wasn’t a standard size I couldn’t find a cheap piece of glass to fit. Instead, I stole a piece of flimsy plexi-glass from an old poster frame stashed in my basement. It wasn’t my first choice but it was free and easy to cut so I went with it.

4. Next I tested some fabric options by placing them under the plexi and writing on them.
I needed to make sure the pattern didn’t make it hard to read the messages.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

5. I used scrapbook adhesive to wrap the fabric around the foam core, making sure to keep everything square and smooth. Double stick tape would work just as well.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

Almost done.

6. I designed a simple “how am I getting home today?” calendar and “where the heck is mom?” message center, and stuck them to the fabric-wrapped foam core. 
I decided to print them on vellum paper (from the scrapbooking section of any craft store) so the fabric pattern would still show through. I used Zots in each corner of the paper to stick the pages to the fabric. And yes, that does say, “walking a dog”. It’s one of my random jobs.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

7. I decided at the last minute to add a piece of ribbon between the two sections. Forgot to take a picture. Ooops.

Finally, it was time to put everything together. This part was a little tricky but once I figured out a system it went pretty smoothly.

8. I drilled small holes into the inside edges of the frame – on the back where you would put the backing on a regular frame.
I didn’t go very deep, just enough to hold a nail in place while I tapped it in. I used this little hand crank drill thingy we have.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

9. Then, with all the pieces sandwiched together in the frame, I carefully hammered a small brad nail into each starter hole.
I had to hammer at a little bit of an angle so afterwards I just bent the nail down toward the foam core to hold everything tight. Not very sophisticated but it works.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

And VOILA! It’s done. (Sorry about the reflections.)

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

This post is part of the Pinterest Challenge over on Young House Love. Make sure you check out all the other link ups HERE.

pinterest winter-challenge

Also, here are links to the projects on Pinterest that inspired this whole thing. Make sure you take a look at them too.

sas interiors

Hi Sugar Plum

The Caldwell Project

24 Cottonwood Lane

How do you keep all the people in your house going to the right places every day? Do you have your own version of a “command center”?

Last minute Thanksgiving decoarations

I don’t know if you’re aware but Thanksgiving is only EIGHT DAYS AWAY. This time next week people will be arriving at your house. Putting their feet on your furniture. Their heads on your pillows. Their bums on your toilets. It’s crunch time and while I’m no meal-planning or entertaining expert, I can offer some simple, last minute decorating ideas.

last minute Thanksgiving decorations

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My First Fabric Dye Experience

I want to start by saying if you have never dyed fabric before, start small. Things like scarves or onesies or socks would be perfect. A slipcover for an oversized chair? Not such a good idea for the first-timer. Now, on with the story.

I scored this IKEA chair at a thrift shop for $50. YEA!

My First Fabric Dye Experience | laughingabi.com

Nothing fancy but cheap, and since the whole thing was slipcovered I thought I could do something cool with fabric dye. I’d never dyed anything before but how hard could it be, right? (See where this is going, friends?)

When I got it home I decided I would dye it dark brown and then sew some colorful or patterned covers for the removable cushions. Here’s the disastrous result.

My First Fabric Dye Experience | laughingabi.com

I don’t know if you can tell from the picture but it’s almost purple. Or maroon. Definitely not brown. And see the big stain on the bottom? I knew it was there but thought I washed it out before I dyed it. I was wrong.

So I checked out ritdye.com and found out there’s this stuff called color-remover. Unfortunately, most of the reviews said it only worked using the stove-top method. Which means fitting the whole slipcover in a pot, on top of my stove. Not gonna happen.

Since I had nothing to lose at this point I decided I would use hot, hot water in my bathtub instead of boiling water on my stove-top. This is how it looked after the color-remover. Insert panic here.

My First Fabric Dye Experience | laughingabi.com

Thankfully some more online research revealed that this brown-yellow tint was normal after using the color remover. Phew! So now all I had to to was find the perfect color so I could salvage this project.

After literally days of researching and agonizing and driving my family insane, I decided to go with a tealish-bluey-greenlike color. I created my own custom mix using 75% teal and 25% royal blue. (ritdye.com has a great Color Formula Guide if you’re trying to mix colors. I didn’t use any of their formulas but they did help me make my decision.)

After what seemed like forever in the washer, I opened the door to find a very, very green slip cover. It was 1:00 in the morning and I was pissed so I layed everything out to dry and went to bed. When I woke up I found the most perfect tealish-bluey-greenlike colored slipcover I had ever seen. Apparently my middle-of-the-night dye madness made me forget wet fabric is not necessarily the same color as dry fabric.

My First Fabric Dye Experience | laughingabi.com

My First Fabric Dye Experience | laughingabi.com

My First Fabric Dye Experience | laughingabi.com

The ugly stain is still there but I’m working on a creative solution to that. Also, the pattern on the back cushion is a couple fabric bands I made to dress up some throw pillows. I put them on to see how they looked and decided to keep them there. Poor naked pillows.

Here are some trial & error tips:
1. Start small! (See the first sentence of this post.)
2. Resist the temptation to put your newly dyed slipcover in the dryer. I know you’re in a hurry to see the finished product but shrinkage is BAD.
3. Do your research. Check blogs, google, ritdye.com – anywhere you can find information.

This was a challenging project but I’m really pleased with the way it turned out. Do you have a project you thought would kill you before you finished it? Please share. Misery loves company!