Mar 16, 2013

How to make a penny-top table {DIY}

Hi all! Hope you're having a great St. Patrick's Day weekend! :)

Today I'm sharing a Pinterest-inspired project by my lovely sister, Lacey. That's her on the right. Isn't she cute?

Lacey had an old side table she wanted to revive...and she also wanted to replace her boyfriend's hand-me-down bedside table with something a little more fun. This project accomplished both! I'm going to let her take it away.

I bought this side table from a local discount retailer, in my college days and loved the size of it. It worked perfectly next to a sofa, sitting in front of a window, or even as a bedside table. So you can imagine my distress when the finish started to flake right off the table! I didn’t want to get rid of it, but couldn’t leave it the way it was. Enter Pinterest and the various pins I’d seen on penny tables. Why not give it a try on my already ruined table? Plus, if it was successful, I had a perfect excuse to get rid of my boyfriend’s ugly bedside table (furniture even his grandmother didn’t want) and use this instead!

How to make a penny-top table

Step 1: Painting the table

First things first, sand down all of the flaking finish already on the table. Usually, sanding is a pain in the butt; however, when the surface of the table is already flaking off in your hands, it isn’t too difficult. After sanding, I painted the entire table black (just your basic black paint in eggshell, I believe).

Step 2: Adding a railing around the top of the table

After reading many tutorials on penny tables, I chose to add a thin railing around the table top. This acts as a stopper for the glaze. Other tutorials recommend wrapping packing tape or aluminum foil around the table to give it an edge. While it had worked for them, I was afraid that the tape or foil wouldn’t hold up against the spreading glaze and opted to add a permanent edge. Besides, you can get 8-foot long pieces of this thin molding for just a few dollars at Home Depot. 

My father helped me measure and cut 45 degree angles into these pieces, so that they would fit perfectly around the edge of the table. Because the pieces are fairly narrow, we were concerned that nailing them in place might cause the piece to split. Instead, we used some gorilla glue to attach them to the table, and then stacked heavy books on top to act as clamps (if you have actual clamps, that may work better, but alas, I did not, so I put my old college textbooks to use). After they were attached, I painted them black as well.

Step 3: Shining the pennies

We wanted an array of colors of pennies — some shiny and new looking, others duller, and some that almost the black color of a penny that’s been around a long time. I diligently separated out the various colors and decided to shine some up for the first category. 

I’d read in other tutorials that Tarn X is the perfect way to do this. You simply pour some Tarn X into a bowl with your pennies, swish, rinse and dry. Piece of cake, right? I found out otherwise. 

Two important things to note: 1. Make sure you rinse these thoroughly. Think you’ve been thorough? Give it another rinse. 2. Make sure to dry the pennies thoroughly too. I recommend laying them out on an old towel for a while. If you put the pennies into a plastic bag together and they’re not fully rinsed or dry, you’ll ruin a bunch of pennies, like I did (completely stripped off their copper color).

Step 4: Laying out the pennies

On our first attempt, my boyfriend and I started laying out the pennies and working our way in towards the center. Do NOT do it this way. Sadly, your table will not be a perfect size to fit the pennies exactly. I recommend working from one side of the table to the other. Luckily, we had not begun the gluing process yet, so we could start over. 

What NOT to do

As I mentioned, your table won’t be a perfect size to fit your pennies, so you’ll probably end up with some awkward spacing like I did — there was a strip of unused space down one side of the table. 

We considered centering the pennies in the table to create equal empty space on all sides, but were concerned that we wouldn’t be able to get it perfect. Derek suggested cutting pennies in half to fill these spaces. However, it still took some finagling to get the pennies to be the exact size we needed. In the end, cutting pennies may have been more trouble than it was truly worth, but it came out looking pretty great!

Step 5: Gluing the pennies

After we decided how we wanted the pennies to be laid out (we chose to alternate face up and face down, and a mixing of penny colors), we started gluing. 

We glued some pennies with super glue and some with Gorilla Glue. If I were to do it all over again, I would NOT use Gorilla Glue. The key thing with Gorilla Glue is that is expands as it dries, so I ended up with glue expanding between the pennies that I later tried to cut away with razor blades, and even colored some black with a sharpie to try and hide it. It ended up not being very noticeable after the glaze was applied, but it still bothered me that it happened at all.

Step 6: Applying the glaze

After doing some research, I used Parks Super Glaze Ultra Gloss Epoxy (purchased from Home Depot for about $40). Some reviews of this product complain about it not self-leveling as well as it should, or the formation of bubbles. One person actually used a blowtorch to remove the bubbles during the drying process. Needless to say, I was quite worried about this step!

But it actually went very well. (Note: for this step, you need a room available that is well ventilated, and where the table can be left for a day or two to fully dry.) We followed the directions in the Super Glaze booklet carefully, and were very careful. One addition to the supply list they give you is to have a small foam paint brush handy. It helps to get the glaze into the corners of the table. 

Some small bubbles did form, but we were able to pop them by blowing on them. No blowtorch needed! 

It’s not professional grade. If you want a professional product, they have glazes that cost around $100 to give you a smoother, bubble free surface. But I have no complaint over how it turned out! I couldn’t be happier :)

In the end, everything went extremely well. The finished product now sits next to my boyfriend’s side of the bed and is a vast improvement over what was there before.

Even the kitty likes it!

Isn't this table so adorable! I just love it. I'd like to pay her to make one for me :)

Are you itching to cover something with pennies, or have you already given it a try? I'd love to hear about it!

Mar 11, 2013

New chairs for the front room

Hey everyone! Hope you had a great weekend. It was beautiful here in Maine -- sunny and mid-40s. It made me ready for spring, but sadly spring is still a month off for us here in the Northeast.

Sorry I was MIA this past week. The hubs and I are two weeks into a 6-week weight loss challenge, and let me tell you, it has been quite time-consuming! Not only have I been walking/running/working out every day, but we've also spent lots of time planning out our meals to a level we've never done before. I swear all I do is sleep, eat, work, and work out. Phew! But it's getting us great results so I'm definitely sticking with it.

I'm popping in today to share a furniture addition. So, like months ago I shared a plan we had to turn our dining room into a sitting room, and move the table into this awkward spot next to the kitchen.

Here's what it looked like with the dining room table.

Well, we lived with this change for a few months, but we just decided it didn't work out for us. It's funny -- it was the hubs' idea to pull the switcheroo in the first place, and finally I agreed after weeks of hesitation. And then, it was the hubs who said, "I don't know if I like it this way." I guess we just really missed having a formal dining room, even though it's not often used. Is anyone else as indecisive as us? This is why it's good to live with things for a little while before fully committing.

So, a few weeks ago we moved the table back, and again were left with this weird half-room kind of space next to the kitchen. Since we've got a table and four stools at our counter, we don't need any more seating for eating. We decided to use this space as the sitting room. I think maybe I've seen spaces like this called a front room? I'm not sure if that's what I have, but sitting room sounds like a place for old ladies and tea, and since it's the first room in our house, I think it makes sense to call it a front room instead.

I've always pictured a lovely, long window seat here, something like this:

Source: via Mindy on Pinterest

But that looks like a lot of work to build. And, to be honest, I had a window seat in my bedroom as a kid and I never used it. It was cute to look at, but it wasn't very comfortable to sit on. And I favor functionality over fashion, so the window seat plan was out.

Besides the window seat, I've also eyed these Nolan bonded leather chairs from Target. They have one in my local store, and I've sat in it a few times, and it's pretty comfy.

I'm usually hesitant to buy major furniture from a lower-priced retailer, because I do feel you get what you pay for. But the front room furniture will not be used frequently, so wear and tear will be much less -- and that also means I want to spend much less on it.

So, when a two-pack of these chairs went on sale for just $300 (they're usually $200 each), I pulled the trigger. (Guess what? They're on sale right now for $150 each!)

Luckily they had two in stock at my local store so I didn't have to pay online shipping -- sweet!

The hubs picked them up for me in his SUV and had them put together by the time I got home. I love when I don't have to do that part (I'm terrible at it).

The bonded leather is a dark espresso color, and the look is a departure from the rest of our furniture, which I like -- keeps things interesting. I'm hoping it's durable to puppy claws and easy to clean.

I think these chairs look more expensive than they are (just humor me if you don't agree!). They're not too big and don't take up much space, but they're big enough that my 6'2" husband finds them comfortable as well.

I staged the area with a little table I had on hand and some vases. I also had super-cute pillows picked out on Etsy, but the hubs lamented having to push a pillow out of the way to sit down. See, shortie me finds the pillow the perfect way to get comfortable on that chair, but for him, it's just in the way. So I promised him HIS chair wouldn't get a pillow, but that didn't stop me from getting a pillow for me!

I made this pillow from a fabric scrap I bought for a few dollars at a local fabric store and an old pillow form. (Full disclosure: I didn't even finish sewing it for this photo!) I staged the hubs' chair with a cream throw from -- where else? -- Target.

I'm hoping this space will be a nice, sunny, cozy spot for drinking coffee and chatting with friends.

As for what else I want to do here, I totally want a cowhide rug.

And I'd love to make a tree stump table or two for this space.

Now if only the snow would melt and I could find myself a stump! :)

Mar 5, 2013

Curtain turned into pillows {DIY}

Hi everyone! Hope you had a good Monday.

Today I'm sharing some pillows I made for our living room. Did we need pillows? No, we did not. :) But I just love changing out my pillows, especially if I can do it on the cheap by making my own.

I searched high and low for a geometric fabric I liked in the colors I wanted but came up empty-handed. Then I spotted the Farrah Fretwork curtain at Target:

So cute, right? And it was just $20 for one.

Lucky for me, I had pillows at home I wasn't using (remember, I love pillows!) and their covers were removable.

As you might recall, I'm not great at sewing, but I can usually manage pillows. My favorite kind of pillow cover to make is an envelope pillow, because it's removable and I don't have to handstitch it closed -- and because I'm too scared to try a zipper!

When I spread the curtain out and saw the hem, I realized it was perfect for making the envelope part. Don't know what I mean? You'll see soon.

The pillow forms were 20 inches x 20 inches, so I cut my fabric at 21 inches square, leaving a half-inch for a seam. For the envelope part, I cut the two pieces 21 x 15 inches and 21 by 11 inches, with half-inch seams on all sides, making the final dimensions 20 x 14 and 20 x 10. The bigger piece is on the inside, and the smaller piece goes on the outside.

With just a little cutting and sewing, I got two new pillows for just $10 each!

Here's the envelope back. See what I mean about the hem? That's the finished edge you see here. It saved me some time from having to finish the edges myself.

I was worried they'd be blue overload with our blue walls, but I don't think so.

And I even have some fabric left over to make something else!

Have you ever used a curtain to make pillows? Shopping the curtain or sheet aisle can sometimes score you some great fabrics and patterns for a cheaper price than shopping the fabric store.