Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reupholstering a Storage Bench (The Lazy Way)

I've had this storage bench for several years. It's part of our entry area and also where I store extra blankets. It's very useful, but the black "leather" was starting to look a little worn (mostly from cat claws) and the dark color didn't exactly stand out against the deep blue wall. So I decided to take a stab at recovering it with a more lively fabric.

Let me say here that this is not the "correct" was to reupholster something since I just covered over the existing fabric instead of removing it. However, this seemed much more simple and straightforward to me, so it's what I did.

I ended up with a 60" upholstry fabric that I got on sale for $9/yard. I got two yards which was just enough. I'm very glad I went with a more organic pattern rather than something more geometric because making sure the pattern was perfectly straight all the time would have added quite a bit of headache to this project.

So the first thing I did was to remove the lid by unscrewing all the hinges. Then I laid the lid upside down and the floor and place my fabric over it like this:

I lined up the edge of the fabric (wrong side up) with the front edge of the lid and then stapled all along the edge. 

Then I flipped the fabric over and brought it underneath the lid. I did it this way so I would have a nice clean edge on the front lip of the lid.

Ta da! No visible staples.

Then I cut out my fabric to the size I would need, making sure to allow plenty of extra fabric for wrapping around. Then I just tucked the raw edge under and stapled right through the top. I made sure to mark where my hinges needed to go because I was covering over the existing holes. This would make it much easier when it came time to reassemble.

After I had done the two long sides I flipped it over to make sure nothing crazy was happening.

Nice and taut!

For the corners, I just kind of played around with folding the fabric in different ways until I found something that looked nice and clean.

I folded it sort of like you would when wrapping a present. I hope these pictures make sense because I'm not really sure how to explain in words what I did.

But it ended up looking like this.

Once the top was done, it was time to move on to the base. I carefully measured the length, depth, and height of the base (minus the legs). I added two inches to the width and depth for seam allowances and three inches to the height so that I would have plenty of extra fabric to wrap around the top and bottom. I cut out the rectangles and then sewed them together into a box.

When I slipped it over the base, it was a bit too loose, so I went back to my sewing machine and made it a tiny bit smaller. When I tried it again, it was still a little loose, so I continued making adjustments a little at a time until I ended up here:

It's snug enough that it doesn't slide down to the floor and there are no wrinkles in the fabric. I removed it from the base, then slipped in inside the bench.

You're using the same method here as on the front edge of the lid so there are no visible staples. I shot a couple of staples into each side and then flipped it around to make sure I was on the right track.

Once I was sure everything was going to work, I put in staples every few inches all the way around. I stopped about an inch from the corners. Then I brought the fabric up and over the outside of the base.

Then I flipped it over, removed the legs (mine just unscrewed) and finished the bottom by folding the raw edge under and stapling.

Then it was just a matter of reassembling everything. Putting the lid back on was probably the most difficult part of this whole project.

Chico is ready to show you the awesome after photos!

I love the results and it stands out so much more than it did.

The cats are also enjoying it!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I've Got Sand In My Cracks!

So about a year ago, I added this lovely border to the front and side of the house. At the time, I used regular old sand to fill in the gaps between bricks. This didn't last past the first rain when it all washed right out. Ever since then, I've been planning to use polymetric sand instead. Well, I finally got on that.

Polymetric sand is nifty because once it gets wet, it hardens into a concrete-like substance so it won't wash away and also holds together the pavers.

Before I could dive in, I had some prep work to do. Things were looking a little rough. I pulled up all the weeds and grass that had grown up between and over the border. Then I ran the lawn mower along the edge because we haven't mowed in like three weeks (don't judge, it's been really dry) and then swept the border clean.

Looking much better already. As you could see in the picture of the sand bucket, my tools were pretty simple. A shovel and a small brush.

I poured some sand onto the gaps between the bricks and then used to brush to sweep everything down into the cracks. I also used the handle of my shovel to tap on the tops of each brick to make sure everything was settled.

The instructions on the sand said about 100 times in various combinations of bold, italics, and all caps that I should be sure to remove all the sand from the top of the bricks or else it would stain. I was therefore very thorough about sweeping the brick surface clean before moving on to the next section. You can see above that there was still  a layer of dust left behind and I worried that it would discolor the pavers, but in the end, it did not.

After that it was time to wet everything down. As instructed, I used to "gentle shower" setting on my sprayer and sprayed until water stop soaking in and started to pool. You want to do this to make sure the sand gets wet all the through.

The bucket said some of the larger gaps may take up to 72 hours to dry and they certainly did. Now that the time has elapsed, though, everything is nice and firm as it should be.

I really wish I had done this last year because there are weed roots that I am afraid will still push through and over time some of the bricks have shifted around and aren't as straight and even as they were initially. So I guess the moral of the story is, don't put off finishing projects for over a year. :)