Category Archives: Tutorials

Anthropologie-Inspired Geometric Table Top

My desire for crafting seems to be inversely proportional to the weather: for every degree that drops on the thermometer, my need to make something increases.  As the wind howled and the rain fell this last week, I decided to tackle a small project I’ve been meaning to do for ages.

I’ve had this metal table for a few years now, but I have zero recollection of where I got it.  The side of a road? The thrift store?  Your house?  Whatever its origin, it was cute enough to drag home (or steal, or however I got it), and we fashioned a top from a piece of scrap wood, stuck it in a corner with a lamp on it, and forgot about it.  Until a whisper carried on a late October wind reminded me.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired TableInspiration came, as it so often does, in the form of an Anthropologie catalog.  I like to think my style is unique, but the reality is that only financial constraint keeps me from a home and closet cloned straight from Anthropologie.  They, more than any other brand, create the fantasy life I’d like to live.  Soon after it appeared in my mailbox, I dogeared the pages with the new Sura collection, liking the geometric patterns and achromatic palette.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table Pretty sure I could pull something similar off for significantly less than the $1200 Anthro price tag, I gathered my supplies:

  • Four strips of 1/16″ thick Basswood (I can only find the packaged quantity online, but they were sold individually for less than $5 with a coupon at JoAnn’s)
  • Matte black paint
  • Paint brush and rag
  • Utility knife
  • Ruler
  • Wood glue (I used this)
  • Polyacrylic (or another clear topcoat)

To begin, I painted two of my boards with black chalkboard paint then used a rag to vigorously rub them so the grain would show through.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table I used a utility knife and straight edge to cut four-inch squares of both the natural and painted wood, then cut those into two halves, making triangles.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table

The thin wood cuts easily with just a utility knife.

I had fun playing around to see what layout I liked best.  I’m sorry for the photo quality: The hideous lighting and off-kilter framing can both be attributed to the late hour at which I was doing this.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table Once I had a design I liked, I put a thin layer of glue on the piece of wood we’d been using as a table top, attached half the tiles, then quickly put a board and a pile of heavy objects (a zillion-pound kitchen mixer among them) on top.  I then did the other half of tiles exactly the same way.  A thin, even layer of glue and a quick application of weight is essential (ESSENTIAL!) to keep the thin tiles from curling.  I let things dry overnight, then finished up with a coat of Polyacrylic.  Not counting dry time, the whole process took me less than two hours.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table A similar look could have maybe been achieved by taping and painting a single piece of wood, but I like the tiled effect and the way the grain goes in different directions.  I can totally imagine doing this again on a larger table surface, a cabinet front, or as a frame.  Maybe next time instead of painting, I’ll even try cerusing the wood using this tutorial from Little Green Notebook.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table I’m liking it so much that this morning I picked some of the hardy pink roses that are still blooming along our driveway, made a cup of tea, and just sat there appreciating my newest craft.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired TableAnyone else been bitten by the cold-weather crafting bug?

Necessity is the Mother of Trend Following

We wrote a post a few weeks ago called ‘Nettlesome Design Trends,’ which was about trends we just can’t get on board with – word art, cow hides, and backwards books. The comments on that post are fantastic, and since then I’ve done a lot of thinking about how the images we see on blogs and in magazines both drive trends and destroy them – and how there’s a threshold between deep desire for an item (on the community level) and visual fatigue.

One item that I’m nearing the threshold for is the striped Moroccan blanket with pom poms.  They are gorgeous, and I would love one, but they’re also starting to be so ubiquitous that I find myself less enchanted than I was even a month ago.  Take a look:

Beautiful, right?  But not only are they ubiquitous, they’re also expensive.  That first one rings in at a cool $485, and the second one isn’t much less.  There is absolutely no room on my priority list for a $485 blanket.  Do you know what is on my priority list? Finding a way to protect the pretty daybed in the Chamber of Secrets from our cat Dean’s barf.

Now let me take a moment to say that I am acutely aware that this is my second post in a row writing about something gross (I guess it means I’m getting real comfortable with you all – for better or worse), and I solemnly swear that in my next post there won’t be anything gross at all.  But this week?  No such luck.  Cat barf it is.

The Chamber of Secrets is my favorite room in our house,  and Dean loves it too; it’s impossible to keep him out.  Twice in the last week I’ve gone in there to find the revolting evidence of some upset to his ample tummy.  Now, the obvious solution might be to keep the door shut, but let me tell you that Dean is not only tenacious – he’s been known to hurl his considerable bulk against a door until it opens – he’s also adorable, and I like to have his furry company when I’m in there writing.  So I decided to do the only thing I could; I decided to make a cat barf prophylactic disguised as a trendy blanket.

This was a ‘use what you’ve got’ project, and so I cut a large dropcloth in half and washed the heck out of it to soften it.  Then I used blue tape to outline stripes and dabbed chalkboard paint onto it with both a foam brush and a bristled one – if I’d had a mini paint roller I think that would have worked better, but I didn’t.

Red House West || pom pom blanketThen, using a pom pom maker I’d bought at JoAnn’s in the wake of Mera’s pom pom-palooza post, I whipped up a dozen of the fuzzy little darlings with the help of my nieces.

Red House West || pom pom blanketOnce everything was dry and I’d sewed the pom poms on, I layered the blanket over the other textiles on the daybed.  And?  Not bad – if I cock my head to the side and close one eye it doesn’t look that different than the ones I’ve been pining for.
Red House West || pom pom blanket Red House West || pom pom blanketI love the pom poms!
Red House West || pom pom blanketThis feels like a good surrogate while I evaluate whether my love for these blankets is enduring, or just a fleeting fancy brought on by an onslaught of perfectly styled images.  I’m hoping that it will serve its primary function too, although Dean – unerring in his contrariness – seems to have found a new favorite spot.Red House West || pom pom blanketSo what do you think – if he refuses to move his adorable, vomit-prone body over to the daybed, what trendy item should I hack to protect the window seat?

DIY Overdyed Quilt

I love old quilts, but in antique stores they can be really pricey. I recently discovered that eBay is a great source for quilts of all descriptions; I bought this one (for $40) thinking it was my favorite color combo of pink and mustard.

Red House West || DIY Overdye QuiltAlas, when I opened the package I was disappointed.  Instead of a cheerful blush, the pink was more of a faded puce.  There were different shades of yellow, none of which could be called “mustard.”  The color range might be more accurately described as a study of the concentration of urine at varying levels of dehydration.
Red House West || DIY Overdye QuiltTo make things worse, the yellow dye had also seeped through to the back of the quilt, giving it a particularly yucky look.
Red House West || DIY Overdye Quilt
The quilt itself is in great shape, and all the hand-stitching makes it soft and lofty. A few weeks ago our favorite blogger Jenny Komenda posted about an idea for overdyeing quilts. As soon as I saw her post, I knew it was the solution for my unfortunately colored but otherwise lovely quilt.
I got a box of Indigo dye at our local art supply store. This is the same stuff I used in my shibori experiments, so I had some idea of how it would work.

Red House West || DIY Overdye QuiltThe first thing I did was put the quilt in the washing machine on the delicate setting without soap. Fabric needs to be wet when it goes into the indigo dye bath, and I also wanted as much of the bleeding yellow color to come out as possible. While the quilt was washing I mixed up the indigo dye in a large plastic storage container. The instructions call for using four gallons of water, but I used closer to six because I knew the quilt would soak up a lot of the liquid, and I needed it to be deep enough to fully submerge the quilt.
After letting the dye rest for about 20 minutes, I unceremoniously submerged the quilt.

Red House West || DIY Overdye Quilt

Once in the dye bath, I gently agitated the quilt by hand, and stirred it around with a dowel. After about five minutes, I pulled it out and laid it across two sawhorses to oxidize.

Red House West || DIY Overdye Quilt When it first came out of the dye it was very green, but it instantly started to turn a deep indigo.
Red House West || DIY Overdye Quilt
I left the quilt to oxidize for about half an hour, and then repeated the dyeing process. After it came out of the dye bath the second time and oxidized for another half hour I put it in the washing machine, again on the delicate setting, but this time with a mild detergent. While it was washing I set about cleaning up: I basically flooded the basement with indigo, which, while beautiful, smells totally putrid. But the mess and horrible smell were worth it because the end result is so pretty!

Red House West || DIY Overdye QuiltWhat was once yellow is now a rich peacock teal, and the pink is a deep indigo.
Red House West || DIY Overdye QuiltThe quilt is destined for the daybed in the soon-to-be-revealed playroom/guest room, and I love the way its new oceany colors bring out the blues in the old persian rug.

Red House West || DIY Overdyed Quilt

While this probably isn’t the right project for quilts lovingly made by relatives, or passed down in the family through generations, I feel like it was the perfect resurrection for this unfortunately-hued quilt with no sentimental value.  And honestly it is so beautiful now that it might just become a family heirloom!

Red House West || DIY Overdye Quilt

What do you think?  Would you ever consider overdyeing a quilt?  Thanks for reading along!