Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Fun Book: The First Apartment


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky

A great new book hit the shelves this week – Kyle Schuneman’s The First Apartment: Cool Design For Small Spaces. Kyle has crossed the country helping folks who have spread their wings and flown the coop feather their first nests, or some such mixed bunch of metaphors that mean making their first apartments livable AND cool. This guy is full of clever tricks for all sorts of spaces and personality types, and he’s really good at explaining D.I.Y. projects – he’s included  projects that range from super-easy to more advanced, so there’s something for everyone.

In the somewhat more advanced D.I.Y. arena, he created an argyle wall for his chapter for the preppy. I suggest mastering a horizontal or vertical striped wall first, which is also covered in the book.

Also from the preppy files, Kyle teaches us how to transform a ho-hum dresser to a playful plaid piece with decorative paper and some Modge Podge.

For us less experienced D.I.Y.ers, he’s rolled out the chalkboard paint, but taken us from simply painting the wall (been there, done that!) to the fridge and the cabinets in this kitchen that he’s dubbed “Le Petite Bistro.” He took a shabby rental kitchen and gave it a crisp yet cozy European vibe with paint and some drapes.

Sometimes something as simple as a headboard wall decal and charming drawer pulls will add your personal style stamp to a room.

In this artist’s tiny apartment, Kyle went all Jack the Dripper on a canvas slipcover for the owner’s hand-me-down sofa. He also made the yellow no-sew pillow and the yarn frames, and instructions for all of the projects are included.

This book is a great to give as a housewarming gift, a graduation gift or holiday gift for someone looking to up their style ante but is unsure where to start. If you’re feeling uninspired, treat yourself to a copy. The book is currently under $15 at amazon.

All photos from The First Apartment Book, taken by Joe Schmelzer


Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Guest Post: DIY Ideas to Freshen Your Throwaway Furniture


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Hi Everyone! We know you may be over here shopping for new furniture, but here at Design Public, we love to mix old and new. So while you peruse for the perfect wallpaper or a new big boy bed, consider pieces you may already own to go with them. Here’s Alex Levin , a writer for Granite Transformations (a green remodeling company that advances sustainable construction practices reducing waste and recycling, such as using broken Skyy vodka bottles to make countertops), with some helpful hints about how to re-use and repurpose. take it away Alex!

In today’s economy, replacing outdated, broken or just plain ugly furniture isn’t always affordable. Furthermore, tossing old furniture also costs the earth. Learn to look beyond the finish of a piece of furniture to reveal the construction, design and material underneath. Here are some ideas to get your started.
Potential Projects:
Lightening up old pieces: Worried that your dark brown antique buffet table will look out of place in your new home – but you love the shape? Paint it a bright bold color that will play off other items in the room and throughout  your home.
Freshen up a wardrobe: Strip, sand and paint one white for child’s room. Add funky hardware (knobs and pulls can be changed out as your kids grow up).
Reupholster a sofa or chairs: Choose a fabric you like, and find a matching glossy paint for the wood frame and legs. You’ll need ribbon and adhesive glue to keep it in place, upholstery tacks and a staple gun.
Wooden tables, desks and cupboards. Whether you want to paint or sand down to restore the original finish is up to you. Kitchen cupboards gain a whole new lease of life through simple repainting, while desks can look completely
different through a coat of gloss and a new stencil design.
Getting Started
1. Evaluate your existing furniture. Make necessary repairs; fix wobbly legs, fill cracks, and take care of any other structural problems.
2. Look at the finish. Assess if you need to strip and sand before refinishing/painting.
3. Gather supplies. Round up everything from the dust cover to protect the floor to the paintbrush. You may need to purchase a few safety items, like gloves and goggles.
4. Choose a workspace. Factor in the weather, ventilation, and upcoming  in-law visits.
Upcycling: Repurpose an Old Item  to Make Something New
Here are a few ideas:
  • Place an old door atop two filing cabinets to create a hard-working desk.
  • Turn plastic bottles into chandeliers
  • Make an Adirondack chair from old baseball bats
  • Turn an iron into a bedside lamp for a unique retro look
  • Transform a clawfoot bathtub into a sofa
  • Turn a discarded dishwasher drum into a modern coffee table
Refurbishing old furniture is easier than you think, and is also a lot of fun. A few quick fixes can help your inherited old pieces fit into contemporary surroundings, save you cash and save the planet.

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

D.I.Y. Disasters: IKEA Sconce Lampshades


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky

What’s wrong with this picture? It’s another Becky D.I.Y. Disaster!

I’ve decided to reveal my complete lack of skills when it comes to Do-It-Yourself to you, because at least a few of you seem to find it funny. I read ReadyMade, I come up with all kinds of overambitious ideas, and when I go to execute, the results are laughable. I finally bought some new sconce/chandelier lampshades at RE-Store the other day (that place is AWESOME!) for $2.95 each, new in package (I also picked up some earplugs for my neighbor’s weekly two hour leaf blowing extravaganzas, for ten cents each). I absolutely adore the print on this pair I bought at IKEA, but like everything else I have ever bought there, they were a near miss – while my sconces require clip shades, this was one of those weird shades with a ring that fits below the bulb, and probably only works on lights from IKEA. Inspired by IKEAHacker, I figured it would be an easy fix. For some reason I felt sure this involved stolen coffee stirrers from the coffeeshop and packaging tape.

(Pardon the D.I.Y. Photoshopping Above) By the way, these stayed like this for about a year. They were actually straight for about a month or so, but because they were at the top of the stairs, this was the main view of my handiwork I had of at least one of them as I looked up. Let’s get one more look at how this was working out:

Usually I have a hard time living with things that are crooked, but this was such a lost cause and I hate bare bulbs so much that I just ignored it. Do you have anything around the house like this that you’ve just let go forever?


Monday, January 11th, 2010

Inspiration Monday: The Worst D.I.Y.-er in the Universe


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky

You know all those fabulous design blogs that show their super-clever D.I.Y. projects and they make them look so easy? Those kinds of posts are the reason I have such a hard time letting go of all stuff from around my house. I think “oh, I can refinish this and put new hardware on it and air it out and it will be brand new again.” I subscribe to ReadyMade and get inspired by all those folks that can make a beautiful chandelier out of paper clips and old keys. Now, this kind of thinking really works for clever people like Thomas Wold, to name one. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people and I need to counter my packrat false ambitions by watching Hoarders. This is how the world’s simplest and easiest project took me three days to complete.

So, first I asked you all for advice. I received great tips, and basically picked the one with the shortest drive to go get materials. The winner, thus, was foam core from Utrecht.


I then went through the piles and piles of Marimekko fabric I have around my house, but nothing was really calling my name. So I gave up and got busy doing other things.


I worked out for the first time since my gym went out of business on December 3 and way overdid the lunges. It was also freezing outside, but looking at my ugly map wall, blank foam core and thus total lack of inspiration, I remembered I could walk to Paper Source and get something to cover the foam core. It was VERY cold outside, so hobbling with my aches and pains to Paper Source took a lot of determination.

I looked through all of their beautiful Japanese papers for what seems like an hour and finally decided on this gorge blue dotted one. Now, I knew I needed to cover a 30″x 40″piece of foamcore. Let me say, I don’t understand how I broke 700 on my math SAT, because what I am about to tell you is so stupid it’s ridiculous. I had the saleswoman measure the paper for me. It was 19″ x 25″. We both agreed this would cover something 38″ x 50″, even though I said “I know something is off here but I cannot figure out what.” It was this:

Um, yeah, you only get to double ONE of the dimensions! Duh!

At this point it was 6:45, the store closed at 7:00, I could not find my big cutting board or fresh Exactos to trim the foam core. I was thawing out and my thighs were screaming. DAY 2 was dunzo as far as this project was concerned.


It’s a new day for DIY. I took down my maps and discovered why I didn’t like my map wall anymore – the ones at the bottom showed me the beautiful blue that background used to be had faded to a dingy awful gray in the sunlight. This is probably going to happen to my new inspiration board, but if I worry about that now, this is never going to happen. Check out the difference – it’s so weird!:

So I returned to Paper Source (dang it – I wish I could get out of that store for under $70, but the metal robot ornaments were 50% off!) and bought the two remaining pieces: Read the rest of this entry »


Thursday, September 17th, 2009

D.I.Y. Art, What to do with Ticket Stubs, and Some Other Good Ideas


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I stopped by my friend Lucas’s loft in the Old Fourth Ward today and took about a million pictures. Between the funky flash and the fact that I was dizzy, I’m not thrilled with the results, but the ideas are so good I had to share a few with you immediately anyway. I’ll share more of a house tour in a later post after some photo editing attempts, but for now, here are a few of his great ideas.

Aren’t these ticket stub shadowboxes a great idea? I have ticket stubs floating all over my house, some in scrapbooks, some on bulletin boards, I even saw one in my laundry room the other day. I’d love to get them all in one place, as each one carries different memories (side note: perhaps I’ll blow up the one from the Depeche Mode concert this past month – that show was AWESOME! OK, back to Lucas…) Lucas is a singer-songwriter and goes to see live music ALL the time. I even spy Suzanne Vega’s signature on a stub in his collection.

Lucas has a knack with IKEA frames. The piece above was bought from an artist in Provincetown, and he gave it more of a presence with an inexpensive black frame. The piece below is a tangle of old guitar wires that he was gathering up to toss out. When he saw they had formed a heart shape, he popped them in another frame:

Every surface around the loft is well-curated. Living in a small studio instilled the feeling of only keeping things you need and love around the house. Lucas entertains a lot, and I noticed he utilized trays and modern tray tables all over his home for various things. He keeps his bar beautiful with fresh flowers and candles.

A TV-related tree, currently some sort of shrine to Carrie Bradshaw!

Again, sorry for the photo quality. I’m not sure what happened there, and I feel like they don’t do the art or the space justice! Luckily, I have a bunch of photos from Lucas himself which are much better than mine. You can sort through them all in this flickr set if you’d like a peek before the house tour post!

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the note in the shadowbox, “U Cute” was a note left in grease pen on a Burger King bag by a toothless cashier who was staring at Lucas so much that he said “I was afraid he was gonna cut me.” It was only later as he picked up his burger detritus that he saw the note and it all made sense! Did I mention that Lucas is hilarious?