Category: DIY

The quest for green lamps

Thanks everyone for your kind remarks on my previous post about re-doing my living room.

In that post I did forget to mention anything about lighting. I think lighting is one of the most important things in any room. In fact, as the great Paul Revere said in Longfellow’s famous poem, “One if by land, two if by sea, and I on the living room couch will be.”

What, he didn’t say it quite like that? Well …………… that’s not important. CLEARLY Longfellow’s words hold great meaning for this discussion of lamps in my living room.

Anyway, I think lighting is important. At this point designers would start talking about “having a lighting plan” for your room, including “three levels of lighting,” and things like that. WHATEVER. All I care about in a room is that there are enough lamps, etc so that (1) you can read without eyestrain and (2) you never ever EVER have to turn on the overhead light in a room, ever, ever. EVER.

I hate overhead lights. Hate them.

So when we first moved into our apartment, and the lighting situation did not provide for the two necessities stated above, I immediately bought two cheap floor lamps from Target just until we figured out what we wanted and found something better.

Needless to say, they’re still there. *sigh* But hopefully on their way out soon. Once I locate end tables on Craigslist or at a thrift store, I’ll be replacing them with table lamps.

Since I’m going to be doing kind of a blue and green color scheme (cobalt/indigo and kelly/bright green) for the room, I’ve been lusting after various green lamps that I’ve located on the internets. Sadly, I can’t afford any of them. WHY ARE LAMPS SO EXPENSIVE? I mean …… two or three hundred dollars each is kind of ridiculous.


Both from Lamps Plus

The only one that might be worth the money this Jonathan Adler Capri lamp. It is so beautiful, I would sell a kidney for this lamp. Except I need two lamps. And that would cost me both of my kidneys. So …. no.

via Kristen Rivoli interior design

At least after gazing at all these pictures I know what I want. I like lamps that have a graceful, rounded shape — they’re sometimes called “gourd” lamps or “vessel” lamps. Glass is great, opaque is better. The hardest thing is finding BRIGHT green lamps.

This one from JC Penney is more affordable, but I don’t like the dull green. :(

I saw a tutorial online in which someone got a pair of inexpensive clear glass lamp bases and painted the insides of the bases with bright paint. It’s a great idea. I don’t really do that much DIY (not enough space or time), but if I can find some inexpensive lamps at a thrift store I may give one of the many lamp DIY ideas on the internet a try.

Speaking of which, here are a few that look interesting.

Here’s an awesome-looking tutorial using the painting-inside-glass technique to make DIY mercury glass lamps.

Spray-painting lamp bases.

How to update a lamp base and shade with spray paint.

Of course, it would be so much easier to drop $400-500 on a pair of bright green lamps, plus another $60 (at least) on shades. Ah, the lives of the rich and famous!

BHG via Pure Style Home

So, the quest continues. I’ll let you know how it turns out. ;-)


Evolution of a living room

Because of my commitment to stay within our (very small) decorating budget, progress on decorating our apartment consistently moves at a snail’s pace.

But even a snail will get there eventually … and almost 3-1/2 years after moving into our apartment, my living room is finally starting to look like I actually want it to.

Sadly, I don’t have a picture of what it looked like when we moved in. Please believe me that it was bad. The living room came furnished with a green-and-red plaid, uncomfortable couch; an antiquey wooden rocking chair; two small side tables in poor condition; a tiny old TV; and three lamps of all different sizes. Oh, and a scrap of lace where a curtain should have been on the one window.

As soon as possible I got rid of these furnishings and replaced them with other ones – not necessarily things I liked, but things that were free. A World Market couch that looked OK at first; a small loveseat with great bones but in need of reupholstery; neutral curtains because I couldn’t commit to a color.

We aren’t allowed to paint, so with blank white walls, gray/beige carpet, and neutral furnishings, it was SO boring.

Then the living room got ignored for a while as I worked on getting our bedroom in decent shape. In the meantime the poor quality of the World Market couch became evident. At seven feet long and L-shaped, it didn’t fit the tiny room, and left no room for much of anything else. And it was UGLY.

I did some serious thinking about the room. In our small apartment, we spend almost all of our time (except sleeping) in this room. But the room did not work for us. It was not comfortable, it was not functional, and it was not fun to spend time there.

So, because I am a list-maker, I made a list of what I wanted the room to do and be.

  • It had to have seating for a few people to sit and have a conversation.
  • It had to include  room for my books. Our one bookshelf was relegated to the spare bedroom (a.k.a. junk room) but I wanted them in the main living area because I LOVE BOOKS and they make me happy.
  • It had to have places to set a drink or book down (end tables).
  • It had to have an ottoman instead of a coffee table. Ben and I like to put our feet up.
  • It had to have storage. Because this room does everything.
  • It had to be cozy.
  • It had to be colorful even though the biggest pieces in the room (couches) were neutral.
  • I also wanted to have a big map hanging in the room – because I happen to love maps – and a collection of vintage family photos.
  • And it had to have a TV. I grew up without a TV, so I would be OK without having one, but Ben loves watching sports and it’s his house, too. Plus we like to watch a TV show (hello, Parks and Recreation!!!) or movie from time to time, and where else were we going to watch that if not from the couch?

So I came up with this plan of action:

  • Replace the huge, ugly couch with a smaller loveseat.
  • Buy a flatscreen TV and mount it on the wall.
  • Using this now freed-up space, bring in a nice-quality bookshelf to house books…
  •  And some end tables for additional storage and places to set things down.
  • Replace the center table (too small and awkward!) with a storage ottoman.
  • Find a beautiful map and get it framed and hung over the couch.
  • Add colorful pillows, throws, rug, etc.

Slowly, over the spring and summer, things got done. In the spring, in-laws gave us a beautiful all-wood IKEA bookshelf as an anniversary gift, for which I will be eternally grateful. I searched endlessly for a new loveseat on Craiglist, not wanting to spend $600+ on a new one, and after a few disappointments I finally located one in August, in great shape, about 6’ long, and only $180. Also in August, we bought a 39” flatscreen LCD TV on sale for under $300.

Oh, about that Craigslist loveseat. Since we don’t have a truck, this is how we got it home (it was a rainy day):

Here’s the room with the Craiglist loveseat, the old loveseat (still badly in need of reupholstery, but I’m keeping it because I love it), and the flatscreen TV before we mounted it on the wall.

You’ll notice I brought in a gray ottoman from my bedroom to see how it worked in the room – and I ended up loving how the smaller (about 20” diameter) round ottoman broke up all the boxy rectangular shapes in the room and was easy to get around. Huzzah for no more stubbed toes!

Then my very kind father-in-law helped Ben mount the TV on the wall, an arduous task…

…and I moved my books and bookshelf into the room, while a multitude of angels sang “glory in the highest.” OK, not really, but adding the books made a HUGE difference in the room – they added so much color and coziness. I instantly felt so much happier being in there.

Of course, we had a messy wire situation, which was easily fixed after a quick trip to Home Depot.

Ben did a fantastic job getting those wires covered up, and then he also hung my framed map on the opposite wall (which you last heard about in this post).

And that left us with the living room as it is now. Not finished yet, but much closer.

Here’s that to-do list again…

  • Replace the huge, ugly couch with a smaller loveseat. DONE!
  • Buy a flatscreen TV and mount it on the wall. DONE! 
  • Using this now freed-up space, bring in a nice-quality bookshelf to house books… DONE!
  •  And some end tables for additional storage and places to set things down. in progress
  • Replace the center table (too small and awkward!) with a storage ottoman. in progress
  • Find a beautiful map and get it framed and hung over the couch. DONE!
  • Add colorful pillows, throws, rug, etc. to do

The biggest pieces are now in place – the loveseats, TV and bookshelf. What’s left is the smaller pieces. I’m working on getting a brown leather ottoman so I can put the gray one back in my bedroom where it belongs. I’m also searching for the perfect end tables – I’m so eager for the day when I can chop up those useless too-small, too-short side tables for firewood. :-) Oh, you think I’m kidding, huh?…

The ottoman and end tables are top priority for now since they’re an important part of the room being fully functional, but once those are done the last thing will be adding colorful textiles like pillows and possibly a rug. I’m not too worried about those for now, but they will add the finishing touch.

It’s been really exciting in the past couple of months to see the room FINALLY come together after years where I really hated it, honestly. It’s still a teeny, tiny room with various unattractive aspects (tile ceiling, sad carpet, not much sunlight) that I can’t do much about, but I’m happy with the changes I have been able to make. Already the room works so much better for us, and we feel a lot better about spending time there.

I’ll post more about this room as progress continues to be made on it!

i’d rather be turning utilitarian household objects into adorable craft projects.

Today is going to be another long day of school, work, school, work (repeat ad infinitum).

I’d really rather be making things out of duct tape.

But wait! I’m a camp director. I brainstorm craft projects for the kids to do during camp. And guess what? I just decided, like 2.5 seconds ago, that duct tape bracelets will be one of our crafts for this summer. So I guess I can make bracelets for work. I have to try it out, make some samples, right?

I love my job.

For the bracelets, we will probably keep things simple. Straightforward. But this tutorial is my favorite — the bow bracelet drips cuteness!! And yes, cuteness is very drippy. You didn’t know that?

Also, I have absolutely no use for this, but could there be anything more awesome than a paper-plate polyhedron?

No. There could not.