Teen Room Project #6: Cityscape Mural

This mural was relatively simple, I didn’t do any pencil drawings at all, but rather went along the wall placing blue painter’s tape at random heights to get a varied height for the buildings I would later create. I basically just “guesstimated” the width of the finished buildings. We then stood back and adjusted the pieces of tape to make sure it didn’t look like “stairs” or too planned. Once we were happy with the random look of the building heights, we used a level to ensure that all of our vertical and horizontal lines were perfectly straight. I used the edge of the level as a guide to place my tape strips. Once the general shape of the buildings was complete (plain rectangles), I went back and began to add a bit more variability with roof styles, inconsistent widths and the odd white window. Eden really wanted to keep the look mostly “silhouette like”, so the addition of the windows was sparse. This suited me fine because I really wasn’t sure how the tape would peel up from under the 3 coats of paint. In the end, it peeled off really easily and I was left feeling like a few more windows would have been easy to do and perhaps have added to the finished look of the cityscape.

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6 Steps to Bleed Resistant Taping:

The key to any taping is always the dry brush sealing of the edge. Never skip this step or you will get bleeding and it is the fasted way to take the “Wow!” out of your project. Always remember:

    1. Tape
    2. Seal with a relatively dry brush using the SAME colour of paint as your background. For example, I was painting a black cityscape against a white wall, so I used the exact same white as that used on the wall and sealed the edge of the tape so that no black paint could bleed through onto my white wall.
    3. Let the paint dry completely and look it over to ensure you’ve seal the entire edge along your tape.
    4. Paint with the desired colour.
    5. Let dry completely.
    6. Carefully remove the tape.


Teen Room Project #5: Roman Blinds

DIY Roman BlindsThere are many on-line tutorials for making Roman Blinds. I’ve made them several times before so I just followed the same basic instructions I’ve always used. I don’t remember the original source, as I have  5 photocopied pages that are about 15 years old. The blinds are relatively easy to make, but time-consuming. You don’t need to be a great sewer to pull these off. I’m not going to give a full tutorial here, but this is basically what you need and how you do it.

Roman Blinds:

Materials Needed:

  • decor fabric cut to size of window opening + 2″ in width and about 3″ in length for seam allowances (if you want the same pattern/fabric facing outside, you will need to double that)
  • thread
  • drapery lining cut to size of opening (I’ve skipped the lining in the past and have been disappointed with the result – if the shade is only for decoration, it probably doesn’t matter as much)
  • drapery rings (little white plastic rings – number depends on the size of the finished blind – number of vertical rows X number of horizontal rows)
  • a mounting board 1″ X 2″ X width of opening
  • screw eyes (to go on mounting board)
  • shade cord (enough for each vertical row of rings plus the length along the top of the board, so that they all come out one side)
  • weight rod for bottom ~ You can use anything for this (dowelling, drapery rod, etc.) It just gives the blind stability and helps it to hang nicely.
  • staple gun
  • velcro (width of blind)
  • optional: light weight horizontal rods of some sort – dowelling, drapery rods, etc. (I ended up using the extra long wood skewers from the Dollar store. I’m hoping they’ll be durable enough as there really is no pressure on them, they are just meant to help the finished shade fall/fold more evenly. I’ve never done this before, so we’ll see.)
  • hooks for blind cord (cleats)

What to Do:

  1. Prepare your mounting board by cutting it to size and painting it, if necessary. Staple gun the velcro strip along the top edge. Add screw eyes along the bottom, placing them above where each of your vertical rows will sit.

    Roman Blinds

    This is one of the old blinds, but you can see the mounting board with the velcro and screw eyes.

  2. Cut the decor fabric making sure to allow for seam allowances. Measure and press folds for seams.
    Roman Blinds

    Decor fabric cut to size with extra fabric for seam allowances.

    (You can decide if you want to mount the shade inside the window frame or have it sit outside the frame and extend over the edge of the window:  measure according to how you want to mount them.) You will need to fold over a wider pocket (don’t sew the sides) at the bottom, so that you can slip in a weight rod. inside versus outside mount

  3. Cut the lining to the size of the finished shade.
  4. Lay the lining inside the folds of the seams and pin in place.

    Roman Blinds

    Lay lining inside and pin in place.

  5. Measure out and mark the spots where the rings will need to go. (Vertical rows will sit 1″ from each of the outside edges and the number of additional vertical rows depends on your width – space them about 8″ to 12″ apart). The horizontal rows should start just above the rod pocket at the bottom of the shade (about 2″ – measure carefully as you don’t want uneven horizontal rows) and then spaced 5″ to 8″ apart from the bottom up. ( My blinds are 17″ wide so I have three vertical rows and my horizontal rows are 7″ apart.) Measure carefully and mark the exact spot for each ring with an X.
  6. I hand stitched all of the rings on. This is easy, but time consuming….a great job to do while watching a movie.
  7. Once the rings were secured, I slid the skewers in and laid them along each horizontal row. I then ran my machine along each side to create a pocket for them. (I didn’t care what the back of my blinds looked like because Eden’s room is on the second floor and faces the back lane, so I used black thread for the entire project. You’ll notice my sewing isn’t even that straight – I just wanted them done and didn’t really care because the black on black really doesn’t show up.)
  8. I then sewed along the top, sides and bottoms  to finish the seams and sew in the rods. (Remember to leave an open pocket for the weight rod at the bottom.)
  9. Slide in the weight rod.

    Roman Blinds

    Slide weight rod in the open pocket along the bottom of the finished blind.

  10. Sew a velcro strip to the top of the blind on the back.

    Roman Blinds

    Wow…that’s some bad sewing…so obvious against the white.

  11. Mount your prepared board.
  12. Carefully pre-cut your cord. You will need enough length to travel from the bottom ring (where you will tie it) up the vertical row to the top, through the screw eye on the mounting board and then across the mounting board and through each screw eye along the board until all have been pulled through the screw eye on the far right of the board and secured together in one knot that will not pull through.) This sounds complicated, but basically all of the cords travel vertically up their row and then across the top until each of them meet outside the screw eye on the far right where they are knotted.

    Roman Blinds

    This is another shot of the old blinds, but it shows how the cord is laced up the vertical rows and along the top. You can see how they are knotted together on the left (right when hung).

  13. You will want to add cleats so the blind cords can be secured when the blinds are pulled up. I usually mount these about half way up the window frame on the right hand-side.

Disclaimer: If this sounds confusing, don’t follow my plan. I would suggest googling DIY Roman Blinds or Shades and finding a tutorial that suits your needs better. There are even some tutorials that show how to use old aluminum mini blinds as a “skeleton” for making your Roman Shades. Some show how to create them without sewing and others give excellent step by step visuals. I love the finished look of Roman Shades and as mentioned I believe anyone can do them, but you will need to find a tutorial that makes sense for you. Here is a video that seems very good although she makes hers a bit different from mine.

You know how I love to reuse/repurpose and these blinds are no exception. I hung onto some old Romans that I’d made years ago and was able to cut the mounting boards down to fit, reuse the velcro, drapery lining, cord and rings. I really only had to purchase my fabric and rods for this project, so the total was less than $20 for all three blinds. It made sense to reuse the materials from the old blinds and felt good to toss the meager remains once they’d been dismantled.

You might think that making your own blinds isn’t worth the trouble, but for me it is. It is truly an inexpensive way to get a custom look and fit. Living in a heritage home often means that the window sizes are anything but standard. It is difficult to find blinds of any sort that fit and whenever you go “custom” you are looking at mega bucks. With the DIY Romans, you are able to pick the perfect fabric and style for the space and make them custom to your window. I love the clean, contemporary look and the design on the fabric is a perfect fit for Eden’s new room.Roman Blinds

Teen Room Project #4: Floor Lamp Upcycle

A total decor change can mean lots of expense. To keep costs down, I try to be innovative and figure out ways to repurpose, reuse and upcycle items that we already own. Such was the case with this super simple upcycle project. We had bought this floor lamp for Eden in a bright blue to match her previous room decor. It seemed unfortunate that it would no longer work in her new space. The solution was simple…..a few coats of spray paint.

Floor Lamp Upcycle:

  1. Tape off all of the areas that you do not want to be painted. For this project that meant the inside of the lamp shade, the flexible silver portion of the pole and the cord. I simply taped the end of the cord near the lamp pole and then bagged the remaining cord and taped it to the silver portion that I had already taped off.
  2. Find a well ventilated area that is protected from spray off. (I used my hanging wardrobe paint tent in the basement.)
  3. Spray 2 to 3 thin coats of paint to avoid runs. (Let it dry between coats.)

The original blue worked well in her “old” room, but didn’t fit with the new colour scheme. This was a super simple and inexpensive fix ~ especially since I already had the black spray paint on hand.

The Magic of Spray Paint:

Spray paint is one of the staples that I like to keep on hand. This lamp is simply an example of how you can take something you already have on hand (or an item that you pick-up from a garage sale or thrift store for a couple of bucks) and transform it into a piece that really works for you.  My challenge for you is to look beyond the present condition or colour of an item and begin to look at the “bones”…..the size, the structure, the etching/carvings. Very often the ugliest pieces can be totally transformed with the simple shake of a can and press of a button. I have given so many items new life with a simple coat of spray paint!

If you wish to check out the full posts (with before and after shots) for any of the above projects, you can either browse the DIY and Upcyling section of my blog or do a search on my blog using specific key words.

Thrift Store Score!

I have been totally ignoring my blog over the last couple of weeks because I’ve been crazy busy trying to get through everything that needed to be done after being on the road for 3 weeks and with school just two weeks away. So, here’s a little update on what I’ve been up to.

After spending about 3 days unpacking, doing laundry and reorganizing the camping gear to be put away for the season, it was crucial I moved on to my giant “to do” list before the summer ended. So, with the trip behind us, it was time to start the “back to school” list. You know… doctor’s appointments, eye appointments, back to school shopping, renting instruments, picking up supplies, writing cheques for fees, fall activity registrations and for me getting into my classroom, as well as doing computer and prep work at home. Eden came to school with me for a whole day and although it was a long one, we got lots done…she was so much help.

drum shade

A drum shade is one that is not tapered, but the same diameter on both the top and bottom.

Aside from all of this, I’ve been arranging my errands and knocking of “jobs” between paint coats. I was bound and determined to repaint the vanity in my bathroom…a big job that really needed to be done and was daunting because of the amount of work and upheaval it would cause. To make things even more hectic, I still had projects to complete in Eden’s room.

One of the projects I wanted to do for her new room involved upcycling an old lamp and it required a drum style shade. I made my rounds to my favourite thrift stores as well as a few garage sales, but unfortunately have come up empty-handed so far. If any one has a small (6″ to 8″) drum style shade that is collecting dust in your basement ~ let me know as I really need one. Although I wont’ get to it before school now, I’m thinking I might need to resort to building one. I really don’t want to pay top dollar for a new one because I may ruin it completely in my attempt to create the look I want. In reality, it is only the bones that I need. I thought Michael’s might have lamp kits or something, but in looking on-line it doesn’t seem like it.

So, this brings me to my thrift store find. I have an ongoing shopping list that is specifically for thrift stores (and/or garage sales). Although I love to browse when I have the time, I often whip in and check for the items on my list and nothing more. It sometimes takes months for me to find the things I’m looking for, so they are often future project items or pieces that I would like, but don’t need. Such was the case with the following.

Board Game Snag:

We have a cupboard packed full of awesome board games and to my dismay, my kids complain about how boring “bored” games are. I love games! Aside from sleeping and reading, playing board/card games is one of my favourite things to do. I’m an early to bed person, but get me in a game of Settlers of Catan or Canasta and I can pull an all nighter….seriously ~ I love games and my kids don’t. How sad. They will enjoy the odd game of Apples to Apples and a few others, but one round and they are literally begging release like I’m inflicting bodily harm or something.

Last winter, I thought that maybe I’d give Rummoli a try. I loved Rummoli when I was a kid and although the chances were slim, I thought I might be able to hook them with it. I refused to pay top dollar for another game that would probably serve as nothing more than a dust collector in my games cupboard, so it went on the “thrift store list”. Needless to say, I’ve been on the look out for months and not a one. Recently when out searching for the drum shade, I finally came across a Rummoli game at Value Village. There was also a traditional Monopoly game that was in mint condition ~ perhaps never used. The kids used to like Monopoly when they were younger, but the Princess version was sold in a garage sale years ago. I decided to pick-up both. The Rummoli game was $2.99  which was actually kind of a rip off when you consider that it only comes with a plastic mat and a deck of cards as compared to the “mint” condition Monopoly game that was selling for $2. I always check the games because the last thing you want is a game that is missing pieces. As mentioned, the Monopoly was perfect and looked brand new. The Rummoli box was kind of falling apart and felt surprisingly heavy. I opened it up to check and to my surprise it included a bag of money! (Not such a bad deal after all!)

So in the end, I left with a pillow case ($2), a black fleece throw ($4) and two board games ($3 and $2). When I got home, I was curious enough to count the money and was surprised to find $10.41 worth of Rummoli change. So, I paid less than a dollar for it all ~ SCORE!!

On Saturday night, a friend came for the evening and she loves games just as much as I do. She is a close friend and an “Auntie” to my kids. We will often try to get them playing games. She was totally up for a game of Rummoli and so we insisted the kids joined us at the table for a post dinner game. They weren’t excited about the prospect of another “bored game”, but loved the idea of spending time with “Auntie”. We fumbled through the first round or two until they got the hang of it and they both loved it. Shay wanted to play again on Sunday and insisted that 8 o’clock is much too late to start a great game like Rummoli. Even Eden was happy to set her iPod aside and was totally engaged in the game. I think I finally found a game that we can all enjoy ~ YAY! You really can’t put a price on that ~ there’s nothing like quality family time that everyone agrees on.