Category Archives: PROJECT ELEPHANT

Project Elephant Update: The Refinished Dining Table

I’ve mentioned several times a certain Facebook Sale + Trading site that I’ve used to clear out some furniture we didn’t need, but it’s also been really good for scoring several incredible deals as well.

Perhaps the most amazing of which was this table.

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Somehow, I managed to be first in line to claim it (it’s a first come, first served kind of thing), and there was much use of the crying eyes emoji by all of the commenters who came after me.

It was a really great price (and I even sold the chairs that came with it because they weren’t quite right for me, so I made half of my money back), but I aaaaaalmost didn’t get it because it needed some TLC, and, since I have those half dozen children who need TLC all day errrr’day, it seemed a bit foolhardy to take on another project.

But those legs! Seriously, I couldn’t pass up the stems on that table.

And now that she’s done, I’m so glad I didn’t.

When I posted the above pic and mentioned that I shouldn’t have bought her due to her fixer upper status, I got a slew of, “Don’t touch her! She’s beautiful just the way she is!” comments.

Which I get. But outside of the big ol’ gouge out of the wood, this is what her finish looked like up close.

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And since we’re going to be eating off of her, I didn’t think it was thee best idea to mix peeling varnish with our peeled potatoes.

Honestly? She wasn’t that hard to perk up. All it took was some wood filler for that huge gouge, a quick round with an orbital sander on the tabletop, an even quicker hand-sanding of the legs, a coat of paint, and a little intentional distressing of said paint…and she was good to go!

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{The top is painted SW Rainwashed, in case you’re wondering; it’s the palest gray/blue/green}

It was probably 2 hours tops.

Is she perfect?

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{Hello, gorgeous gams!}

Nope.

And that is so the point. I love her craggy, weathered self. I wouldn’t like her as much if she were shiny and lacquered. I like my tables like I like my people. Real and quirky and pragmatic and a little rough around the edges.

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And you know what else I like? Having another item crossed off my latest Project Elephant list (I’ve got another BIG one to show you soon, but it’ll have to wait just a bit longer).

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Now, if only I could manage to make my bedroom curtains sew themselves. Le sigh…

P.S. After referring to my table as a “she” for this whole post, I really feel like she needs a name. Any thoughts?

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Project Elephant Update: A Slipcovered Ottoman

Well, to say that I’m a bit off the pace for finishing my (admittedly ambitious) Project Elephant list from last week in time for this weekend’s party for the twins’ birthday is a weeeee bit of an understatement.

But it hasn’t been for lack of trying.

I blame all of these small human that live with me. If only they would stop making extravagant demands for things like food and water and diaper changes, I would be free to cross things off my list at will.

I guess that’s what I get for birthing 6 adorable, fun, maddening, needy, awesome children.

Anyhoo, I have been plugging along steadily when I’m able and have found that–just like my desire for productivity comes in waves throughout the year–so my actual productivity waxes and wanes from day to day.

Monday? AH-mazing! If I could manage to do what I did Monday–homeschool, cook, clean, project, read to my girls, feed/play with a baby, exercise–all with a minimum of fussiness and fighting and a maximum of energy, I would probably opt to play that day on repeat–Groundhog Day style–just to experience again and again the feeling of my head hitting the pillow that night with a thwump of satisfaction and accomplishment.

But then, there was yesterday, which felt like jogging through quicksand. As soon as I got everybody fed, another round of “HUNGRY!” cries began. Which meant another round of cleaning afterward. I hauled almost everything out of the craft room, but that just means that our big room, which started the day clean, now looks like Hobby Lobby’s fabric department got in a cat fight with their scrap-booking aisle.

And there were entire hours fraught with fussy meltdowns over scenarios such as: toddler asks for juice, mother hands her juice, toddler proceeds to wail as if mother has served her a scorpion with a side of razor blades.

I literally got into bed last night thinking: “Well, I hardly sat down, but I’m not sure what I accomplished or where the hours went.”

ANYhoo, as I comfort myself with the (quite possibly faulty) reassurance that, “It gets worse before it gets better,” I thought I’d show one thing I did manage to check off the list.

And that would be this recovering this sad little ottoman.

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{Pardon the ugly yellow pic; I completely forgot to take a before pic when I had light}

I think I bought it at Ross for something like $30 4ish years ago. Clearly, it has been well-loved by my kids. And their apple juice.

I’ve been meaning to make a slipcover for it for aaaaaages, but it just never was a priority until I finally plunked it on my Project Elephant list (there’s the beauty of PE for you).

Do you remember my lampshade recovers from a little while ago? Well, I had juuuuuuuuust enough of that gorgeous Waverly Santa Maria fabric left (seriously, it was sufficient by maaaaaybe an 1/8″) to make my slipcover, so, using a modified version of this super-simple tutorial, I whipped up this cover, which took it from sad, stained, and lumpy to this:

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I reeeeeeeally like it.

I’m not usually into matchy-matchy fabrics in living spaces, but I like that I can move the ottoman around the room so that it plays more or less off of the mirroring pattern in the lampshades.

And now I’m off to attempt to stuff all of my craft supplies in a somewhat organized manner back into the craft room (which, considering that it was piled practically to the ceiling and is clearly insufficient for the amount of stuff I have, could be…interesting).

Happy Hump Day, y’all! If you have any trouble chomping through your elephants today, I suggest eating an appropriately shaped animal cracker. You’ll feel accomplished immediately. Or at least, less hungry.

 

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Project Elephant Checklist {#5}

Do y’all remember Project Elephant?

If you don’t, I don’t blame you. It’s been languishing in the shadows of pregnant-while-homeschooling-with-two-toddlers-then-having-a-newborn-then-having-a-relaxing-summer.

I know, I know. The excuses abound. In multi-hyphenate form, no less.

The truth is that I’ve actually been getting a fair bit done, even without my project elephant lists. Like more than usual, lately.

My productivity comes in waves, it feels like. I go through months-long blocks of exhaustion and, “Nope, not gonna happen right now.” And then, all of a sudden, my energy is renewed, and I feel up to waking up super early and tackling things that seemed utterly overwhelming only a few weeks before. (Case in point: I wrote this post early early this morning at Chick-fil-a while eating a fruit and yogurt parfait that was not entirely 14 Day Cleanse compliant but was better than the chicken + egg + cheese bagel I really want to be eating…while using their free Wifi because I woke up at 5 to exercise so I could be done with that for the day. What??!)

Obviously, I like the peppy stages more than the, “Can somebody please find me some toothpicks to prop my eyelids open” stages.

Doesn’t everybody?

It’s almost impossible for us women not to put at least a few of our self-worth eggs in the accomplishment basket, especially in this day and age of (seemingly) endless productivity and creativity a la Pinterest plus 40 other new social media outlets a day (Periscope? Whaaaa?! I can’t even…I may eat those words, but I literally can’t even consider it right now).

So, OF COURSE, I like myself a little better when I’m kicking tail and taking names (by my standards; someone else probably wouldn’t be impressed) in the project/house cleaning/life department.

But I’ve also read Ecclesiastes. I’ve heard The Byrds’ Turn! Turn! Turn!

I am aware that there are seasons for everything, including nothing. As in “accomplishing” nothing. And being okay with that.

I’ve come to realize that my spurts of energy don’t usually come in the spring. I realize I’m supposed to see all that new life sprouting and feel this undeniable urge to clean! all! the! things!

But I don’t.

Instead, I just mentally calculate how many weeks of homeschooling we have left and weigh that against how much sanity I have left…and hope for it to break even. How’s that for honesty?

But the fall? That’s another story. After a relaxing, refreshing summer, when the weather starts to feel just a little bit less like I’m constantly swimming in a simmering pot of soup, I start to itch for something to paint or organize or rearrange. Plus, if you’re anything like me (and I know some of you are because you’ve already told me), there’s nothing like a party or a deadline to jump start your “git ur dun” battery.

Weeeelll, I have both looming. We’re having a party for the twins’ 3rd (????!!! How?!) birthday in a couple of weeks + plus some pictures that will be done at the house. And I need to get a move on.

SO!

After the world’s longest, most rambling introduction that basically could have been summed up with:

I feel like getting stuff done, y’all

I give you:

project elepant

This list is both ambitious (the craft room alone might be the death of me) and truncated (because there’s always more to do), but it’s a good start.

I will, of course, be blogging about each project as I finish it.

And I would, of course, love to know if I have any fellow one-bite-at-a-time project-ers out there.

Care to share what you’re working? Misery loves company, and all that.

Do you go through spurts of energy/lethargy too? If you’re just straight up productive all the time, I don’t think we can be friends. :)

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Project Elephant Update: The Family Command Center

Remember that Family Command Center I was contemplating?

Well, I did it.

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And I think I like it! In fact, I think I like it enough to actually use it, which is kind of the point, I suppose.

To start, I hauled that big yellow chalkboard I mentioned downstairs and wrote out a simple chore list for the boys (and Della too, when the task applies), plus an appropriately inspiring verse to help encourage good attitudes while they work.

Most of the items on the list are daily, but a few will only happen a twice a week or so(trash, toilets, etc).

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If it’s a rotating chore (like who empties the dishwasher as opposed to who loads it), each week, the person in charge of it will write his initial beside the check he writes in the box next to the task (the boxes are written in chalk pen, but they write their checks with regular chalk, which wipes off easily with a dry rag without disturbing the chalk pen, which requires a moist rag for removal. All of which means that I don’t have to rewrite my boxes every day).

To replace the ugly whiteboard fridge calendar, I bought a large (pretty!) paper version on clearance ($4) from Target, which I adhered to the side of the tall cabinet with sticky tack.
Ditto for the corkboard, which came from Wal-mart (2-pack for $8) and to which I added a border of burlap polka dot ribbon because…why not?

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{CONFESSION: that sticky tack business was a big fat FAIL It started out okay, but after a while, it simply would not hold either the calendar or the corkboard to the side of the cabinet, even after I applied approximately 78 pieces to a 1 square foot area; I’m going to have to regroup there}

I hung a pen for writing notes on the calendar from a coordinating ribbon and a  couple of tacks stuck in the corkboard…

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…and then I added a basket full of  “essentials” (washi tape is an essential, right?) to the console table to make it easier for the boys to check off their chore lists and for me to keep up with important calendar info.

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Last, but certainly not least,  I found a spot for an IKEA clock that I bought because of the color (sea foam green and aqua are pretty much BFF’s, after all) even though I wasn’t sure where it would go. Now I am!

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Maybe it’ll help the boys stay on task (never mind that there’s already a digital oven clock approximately 3 feet away).

All in all, this corner feels so much more fun and cheerful and—best of all—useful than it did before. The boys are already loving using it to remind themselves of their chores and—the best part—to check them off.

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Of course, with a new calendar system currently sitting on the table because it won’t adhere to the wall in place,  you might assume that I did something different with the cluttered fridge situation. (Which you can see here).

And you would be right! But you’ll have to wait until later on this week to see it.

Anybody want to take bets on how much use our new set up will get? I’m feeling hopeful, simply because I kept things so very simple and straightforward. If I’d made it more complex, I can guarantee you we would  have failed miserably.

Anybody want to help a girl out and suggest a brilliant non-paint-damaging solution for getting the calendar + corkboard to stay put? I’d rather not use nails or tacks of any kind.

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Project Elephant Update: New Stools for the Kitchen!

Well, what do you know? Not only did I manage to knock a Project Elephant item off my latest checklist, but I did it without any DIY-ing (hence the uncharacteristically lightning fast turnaround). Not that the lack of DIY will last, but more on that later…

So, what did I do in a mere two days since my last post? Well, if you’re a title reader, you already know, so let’s just get to the good stuff.

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{Please pardon my ashy butcher block top, which I had just wiped clean and was in various stages of drying, thus resulting in an apparent skin disease}

In addition to being an awesome outlet for me and a journal for our family, this blog is so very useful in other ways too. After Wednesday’s post, a friend who reads my blog texted me to let me know that Sam’s has the exact kind of stools I was looking at. And then several more blog readers confirmed that.

Well, Sam’s is about 40 minutes from my house, and it’s always a bit of an ordeal because I never make it out of there in less than an hour, but I needed to do some stockpiling anyway, and the prospect of getting the stool situation resolved quickly was so tantalizing that I took all three little girls during naptime while the boys were at school.

della stools

{Della had no trouble clambering up on the stool and heartily approved of it once she was there; Evy wanted in on the pic (she is buckled in, in case you were wondering); Nola was content to eat dried apricots. WIN!}

I am happy (you have no idea how much) to report that we did not have a repeat of this debacle. Nola took a nap and woke up relatively pleasant, and Della and Evy were generally cheerful so long as I plied them with near constant snacks (it was naptime, after all).

So, here’s the deal: these stools were—wait for it—$20 each.  Like, woah. That’s waaaaaaaaay cheaper than any other similar options I’d seen.

And I’m not going to lie, the reasons for the cheapness were pretty obvious since the finish was fairly uneven and many of the stools had minor dents and dings. But they were sturdy and the perfect height, plus the color splotchiness is easily fixed with paint (see? I told you they wouldn’t go un-DIYed).  So, once we decide what color to paint the island, I imagine these guys will get a coat of…something.

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And for now, the color’s close enough that I don’t really care that they’re not perfect.

The kids were so excited.

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Della felt especially proud that she had been the official tester and approver of such a momentous change for our family. (You can see some of the scuff marks and tone irregularities in this pic).

One of the best parts?

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The stools fit up underneath this little island that juts out on the edge of our kitchen, which gives us some extra space when we’re not using them.

Over all, I am thrilled with our new kitchen stools. We’ve been needing a little extra seating in there for a while, and before we could only fit 5 stools. But I managed to score 7 stools for $140 + tax, when I was expecting to have to spend at least $300 for 6 to get the look I wanted.

We’ve already sat on them for snacks and drawing, etc., yesterday and breakfast this morning, and the kids have no trouble maneuvering them, and they seem considerably less likely to fall off or knock them over than they did when we used the ones with backs.

So…thank you! Y’all rock. You helped me so much with this decision, and I am just so, so pleased with the results!

One chomp taken, chewed, and swallowed. On to the next!

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Project Elephant Checklist {#4}

When you DIY your ENTIRE house, there’s a whole lot of “good enough” for loooooong periods of time. Meaning, you get a room to a certain point, and, while it may not be exactly how you want it down to the last little detail, it’s close enough for the time being because—hey—the breakfast nook doesn’t have a floor, and your children are still sleeping on a mattress on the ground, so finding the perfect schoolhouse pendants for the kitchen seems a wee bit unimportant.

Truth: having your dream lighting in your kitchen isn’t important. Not when there is injustice and poverty in the world, not to mention ugliness in your (my) own heart.

However.

There is nothing wrong with taking care of your home, especially when, at a certain point, all the basics have been covered, and the only reason you haven’t replaced those bare bulbs is because you feel overwhelmed and unfocused.

Enter: Project Elephant.

Project Elephant is my solution for that there’s-so-much-to-do-and-I-don’t-even-know- where-to-start feeling that all (or at least most) of us have experienced at one point or another.

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the original purpose of this series (which was supposed to be weekly but is more realistically every-few-months-ly) , so if you’re new here or just need a refresher, you can read this post to better understand what in the world projects and elephants have to do with each other.

A lot of you have commented and emailed me saying that Project Elephant has helped you check things of your list that had been nagging at you for months, and that just thrills me down to my toes, y’all. So, if you want to join in with a list of your own this month and tell me about it in the comments, I would love that!

And now, let’s take a gander at today’s list, which is all about this room:

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That would be the kitchen, which currently looks like this. (You can see the original reveal here if you like).

Good enough, like I said, right?

But honestly, one of the good things about its taking me so long (we’re talking 5 years) to finally get around to things like pendant lights over the island (they didn’t used to be bare bulbs, at least) is that both my tastes and my confidence in what I truly love have changed and grown. So, something I would have chosen when we first moved in might not still be my favorite. I feel like I lean towards more classic choices now than before, and I’m willing to spend at least a little more on something I truly love rather than going with the cheapest thing I can find at the time that will work well enough (read: that $5 garage sale pot rack, which is fun but makes the lighting situation a sticky one).

It’s not just the lighting that I’m interested in updating, though, so let’s take a gander at the whole Project Elephant list that I’m hoping to take some chomps out of soon.

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And then there’s…

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Y’all gave me really great advice when I asked you about kitchen stools a little while back. It seems we were all in agreement that the way to go might be these, so now I just need to find the best possible version/price and get them ordered.

tabouret stool silver

Oh, and then…

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I keep talking about lighting, which really is my nemesis in here. I have brought home multiple different pendant lights to try out on either side of the pot rack, but nothing looks right. So, I’m thinking a pot rack/light combo might be the way to go. Maybe something like this?

pot rack light combo

(This exact model isn’t made anymore…naturally)

Last and quite possibly least, we have this little  nook.

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I like it. And maybe I should just leave well enough alone. But I have this big (cute!) chalkboard (you can see it here) that would fit in the space the large art is occupying over the table there, and I’m seriously contemplating switching the two out so that I can write out chore lists on the chalkboard to give the boys easy access to it. I could also do something with the side of the large cabinet there to help keep us all more organized and together—sort of turn this space into a mini family command center. Of course, then I’d have to find a spot for the art…

Hmm…

I’ll ask you for feedback in a minute, but just for quick reference (and so I’ll have some handy to draw “finished” lines through in a while), here’s a list of all of the projects for this space at the moment.

project elephant checkl ist 4

So, my questions for you at the moment are:

1. What do you think of the family command center idea for that nook? Do you have one of these in your house? Does it actually get used? Mine will mostly be for reference instead of interaction (no magnets, stickers, or anything like that) because of the console table right there, which would make it hard for little people to reach anything you could manipulate.

2. What color should I repaint the island? I have some ideas in mind, and I’ll probably do a dedicated post/poll on that soon, but I’d love to hear what you think to see if it opens up any possibilities I haven’t considered.

3. Any brilliant suggestions for the island lighting? I don’t just love the pot rack/pendant combos that I’ve seen so far, but I do love the easy access to my pots (which I use all the time), and the space really does need the extra lighting since it only has one dedicated window, and I’m about to halfway cover that up with a shade (which I definitely want to do).

Thanks ahead of time for all your help. Your input is always so good for helping me see realistic solutions and consider options I might have missed otherwise.

OH, and what about you guys? Any Project Elephant things you’d like to share?

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Project Elephant Checklist #3

Last week was intense, y’all. I didn’t keep track, but I probably spent something like 20+ hours researching/writing/talking about/answering emails about/”etcetera-ing” about my posts.

Plus, I was gone a lot more than usual, which means that my house is suffering. Pretty much every room has something at least a little off-kilter. Which means MAJOR catch-up this week.

Plus, I have TWO fitness launches to cram choreography and practice in for.

Plus, Shaun’s birthday is on Friday.

Plus, we have friends coming to stay this weekend.

Plus, we’re hosting a Super Bowl/joint birthday party (for Shaun and my brother)/ping pong tournament (yes, I know; that’s quite a combo) on Sunday.

In other words, we’re busy. I’m pushing down the rising panic that everything won’t get done by assuring myself that…everything won’t get done. And it will still be okay.

So, what better way to start off an insanely busy week but with a nice big LIST of things that I probably won’t have time to get to at all? (Can we say masochistic?)

Because it’s been far too long since I’ve updated my Project Elephant goals. And so, without further ado, I give you:

project elephant checklist #3

Every single one of these projects will be taking place in the sitting area that I showed you in that “imperfect room reveal” a little while ago.

Here’s a visual, in case you’re wondering:

sitting room bookshelves

You can only see the tiny corner of the laundry chute in this pic, but it needs a coat of paint as well.

And then, we have:

sitting room dresser

I like the current dresser color, but it just doesn’t pop in this room, so I’m going bold (can’t wait to show you!). Also, all of that ugly technology has got to go….somewhere (still working on that; my husband is frowning right now). Also, that huge expanse of wall needs something, no? I already have quite a few things to hang gathered together, but I’m terribly about actually getting them on the wall.

And finally:window seat

This window seat doubles as storage for blankets and board games, which is great, but no one ever sits on it. Not too surprising considering how uninviting that stiff, hard board looks. It definitely needs a nice cushion with some sort of fun pattern (I have a feeling I’ll be choosing from one of these), some pillows, and some lined curtains (for that awesome, “I’m going to close these and disappear into my own little magical world of knowledge and adventure,” feeling).

So, that’s what I hope to accomplish over the next several weeks. As always, I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

And now, I’d love to know…What projects are you chomping away at this week?

Are you as busy as I am? I think I’ll be breathing a big sigh of relief come next Monday.

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Project Elephant #6—How to re-cover an ottoman (the easy way)

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See that ottomon? That’s the latest addition to my ottoman obsession family. Her name is Maribel, and I love her.

Of course, I don’t suppose you’re too surprised to see yet another upholstered ottoman at our house. My DIY tufted ottoman remains the most popular post on my blog and the biggest traffic booster from Pinterest (so crazy to think that I wrote that post in my first month of blogging).

And who can forget said DIY tufted ottoman, Emmeline’s, disgruntled guest post about Frenchie, the French yellow linen interloper? (Things are getting crowded—and catty—in the decor department up in here; women).

My love of of all things ottomans + padding is both aesthetic (I love how they look) and practical (I love that my babies can walk around them without fear of gashing their foreheads open on sharp wooden or metal corners).

Which is why I was so excited when I spotted this boss of an upholstered ottoman at Ross. 

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(What do you mean I need to vacuum?)

It’s big (approximately 34” X 42”), has nice cushy upholstery, and the bottom is made of real wood with a handy place to stash a basket (or three) full of books or art supplies or, as will undoubtedly happen since its destination is “the big room,” home to all things toy-related, a myriad of action figures, dinosaurs, and baby dolls).

It was on super-clearance for $105 (Ross’s original price was $300), which is not a small amount of money, but is still an amazing price for a piece of furniture this big and well-made.

The only thing I didn’t love was the unappealing black/gray/brown patchwork of scratchy fabric.

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(Can you tell it sat in my garage for a while? Hello, cobwebs!)

But I figured that was an easy fix, so I wrestled it into the back of my van to take home for a little TLC.

It’s been so long since I’ve done a Project Elephant update that you may have forgotten that “recover ottoman” was on the list. But there it is, in all its crossed out glory (my favorite kind of list!)

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Because our big room is colorful and fun and relaxed, I knew I wanted to choose a fabric that reflected that mood, so I headed to Hobby Lobby armed with a 40% off coupon and came home with this bright paisley print.

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It had all the colors I wanted, and with the coupon, came to only about $5.40/yard (I only needed about a yard and 1/4 to do the job), which is a price that can’t be beat for mid-weight upholstery fabric.

Once all was said and done, I had this:

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This is such an easy project, with a minimum of supplies needed. In fact, if you want to give it a try my way, all you’ll need is:

    • An ottoman with the cushion still in decent shape
    • A staple gun (I borrowed mine from my husband’s tool stash, and it means business; it’s powered by a pneumatic pump. Also, I use 1/2”-3/4” staples, but depending on your fabric/wood, you could get away with using something with less oomph/length).
    • Hot glue gun
    • Burlap (or other) ribbon to hide the staples

Here what’s I did:

::STEP 1::

Since I didn’t want to cover up the nail head trim on this particular ottoman, I simply brought the selvage (factory finished) edge of my fabric down to the wood right above the trim and then began stapling it to the wooden piece beneath the fabric, like so.

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It’s important that you staple your fabric to something other than batting or cushion, since, if the staples don’t have anything to sink their teeth into, they’ll just slide right out.

I continued around all 4 edges of the ottoman, making sure to pull the fabric taut and smooth over the existing fabric so there were no bubbles or wrinkles (it’s a good idea to iron the fabric you’re using to recover your ottoman beforehand). This is the part that took the longest since I was taking my time, but the project still only took me a grand total of 2-3 hours (hard for me to tell for sure since I kept getting interrupted by my adorable—and constantly hungry—children and had to come back to it over the course of several days).

IMPORTANT. Don’t staple your corners yet. Simply staple up to within 3 inches of the corners on each side, and then leave them alone for now.

::STEP 2::

After I had stapled the fabric just above the nail head trim on all the way around, I trimmed off any excess.

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::STEP 3::

Then, I started on my corners. You can do these several different ways, but I chose to use a center-fold method that goes a little something like this:

Pull the fabric down toward the corner, leaving as close to equal “excess” on the right and the left for folding inward, and then secure the center of the fabric to the center of your ottoman’s corner.

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Next, fold the loose fabric on either side of the center staples in toward the center and staple them in place, one fold at a time.

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Finish stapling any loose edges up to the corner, and then trim your fabric edges evenly so that you have this:

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(As you might be able to tell, I get a little staple happy when I get my hands on power tools; I’d rather staple the ever-living tar out it now, though, than have it come loose and have to redo it later).

::STEP 4::

At this point, we have this all the way around the ottoman.

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Not exactly gorgeous, right? But that’s okay. Because we have our friends, Burlap Ribbon, and Glenda, the hot glue gun (who met an untimely demise halfway through this project, thus delaying its completion even more than the ravenous children) to help us hide the unseemliness.

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I simply hot glued my burlap directly to the ottoman fabric, taking care to keep it as straight as I could and the molten lava hot glue as far away from my fingers as I could.

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I used 4 strips of burlap (one for each length of the ottoman) and folded the ends down to make a clean finish on the corners.

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It doesn’t have to, but my ribbon had wire edges, which helped with keeping it straight and with folding down the edges cleanly.

Here’s a shot of my folded down edges joined at the corners.

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After a significant amount of hot gluing and a surprising lack of serious burns, I was done!

Hubby hauled it upstairs for me, and I had a little fun fiddling until I got at least a corner of the big room ready to show you guys. There are still some things that I want to do before I’ll do a complete reveal, but here’s a shot that gives you a pretty good idea of the colors and style:

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Maybe you noticed a) that I already moved my fun reupholstered bird chairs upstairs and b) I did not already paint the legs…because I still haven’t decided which way to go with them (any thoughts now that you’ve seen them with the ottoman?).

I pretty much adore all the bright happy colors in this space.

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It’s my kids’ favorite place to play and a great place to watch movies on our DIY big screen.

It’s also our school room most days (you can see our table in the background).

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So, there you have it—a new (and then newly recovered) ottoman for about $110.

A couple of notes: if you have an ottoman to recover that doesn’t have nail head trim that you want to leave exposed, then you can, of course, carry your fabric all the way down to the edge of the wood before hiding it with the trim.

OR, if your ottoman has no wood trim, then you can simply  tuck the fabric underneath the ottoman and staple it there, in which case you won’t need trim.

What do you think? Was it a good re-covery (har har)?

Please let me know if you have any questions for me about sources for anything or if I need to clarify anything that I did to the ottoman. I’m just so thrilled to knock another project off my #projectelephant list and get one more step closer to being DONE (yeah, right) with a room!

Remember that if you’re playing along with our Project Elephant game, you can always brag about your accomplishments in the comments (with pics, if you’d like) or post it on social media with the hash tag #projectelephant

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Project Elephant—Reupholstered Chairs + Family Gallery Wall

Well, I promised to keep the Project Elephant updates coming…

And then I had a weeklong relaunch celebration (which I totally should have put on my Project Elephant list so I could have crossed that off). And that threw me off my groove (again).

I’m so glad our Project Elephant motto is: it’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.

Because progress I have made, even if it wasn’t exactly the progress that I had in mind.

Here’s what my updated list looks like now:

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To be completely honest, the “gallery wall” that I finished wasn’t the one that I mentioned in that list. But I’ve been wanting to do it forever, so it will suffice. Want a look-see?

Okay, but let’s look at what this space looked like before:

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I like it, minus the really bad lighting (hooray for better pictures now).

But it was time for something different, so I printed out some 11X14 black and white shots of our family, framed them in Dollar Store frames that I spray-painted white, and hung them in the place of the “love” letters (which I have a plan for).

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Of course, those pictures aren’t the only changes. If you recall from this living room tweaking session, I also changed out the curtains and rug and, many moons ago, kicked poor old Emmeline to the curb in favor of Frenchie, the yellow linen store-bought ottoman (oh, the shame).

What’s that you say? I missed a little detail?

OH! You must mean those gorgeous wingback chairs against the wall. Silly me. How could I forget?

The story: I’ve been hunting for cheap, good-sized wingback chairs in decent condition for reupholstering for…ages. But every time I would find something that looked like it would  work in my price range on craigslist, it either sold immediately  or was so far away that the cost of gas would negate the good deal.

Thank goodness for Mandy, who is the kind of friend who keeps an eye out for the things she knows you’re looking for. I had all but given up the hunt until one day, she emailed me a pic of two wingback chairs and asked if I’d found any yet.

They were in perfect condition and half-off at a local consignment sale, bringing them down to $40 each. STEAL!

I asked her to get them for me (she even hauled them to her house and didn’t say a word when I forgot to pay her for, oh, a good month at least).

I thought long and hard about recovering them myself, but I decided that, instead, I would cook for my family, do the laundry, and—oh yeah—keep my sanity.  So,  I took them to a great, super reasonably priced reupholsterer instead, knowing that the finished product would be more than I normally (read: ever) pay for chairs but still much much cheaper than anything I could hope to find in a store or even a consignment shop. Plus, I got to pick the colors/fabric myself. (In addition to a wannabe stylist, I think I’m also a wannabe furniture designer; remember Della’s chair? The same lady redid it).

I ordered this yellow outdoor/indoor Volary fabric and then chose a contrasting aqua linen (which I already had), and I absolutely adore the bright cheeriness of the color combo with the big graphic floral blooms and birds.

Ready for the money shot?
before and after chair pic

It’s hard to believe they’re the same chairs, isn’t it?

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Be still my fluttering heart.

Oh, and here’s a panned out shot of the wall with the bench included.

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I went more neutral with the wall decorations because of the bright pops from the chairs and ottoman, but the honest-to-goodness truth is that the chairs won’t be staying here, even as great as they look in this space. I always had them in mind for upstairs in our “big room,” and as much as I’d like to keep them here and design something else for upstairs, custom furniture—even when you score awesome deals on the chairs—ain’t exactly cheap.

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I eventually want to replace the frames for the black and white family photos with some thicker/prettier versions, but I couldn’t find anything I liked in the 11X14 size for less than $20 each. And I couldn’t exactly justify $80 worth of frames, when I could spend $4 and be happy enough until I find something perfect and budget-friendly.

Any suggestions for places to buy nice, big frames at a decent price?

Oh, and a thrifty tip for you: if you, like me have been known to stack frames in a closet, only to come back one day and discover the glass cracked (or maybe you find one at Goodwill without glass), there’s a quick/cheap fix. Head to your local dollar store (the kind where everything really is one dollar) and pick up a frame in the size that you need. You’ll have replacement glass for one measly buck. Holla!

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I smile every time I look at this wall now. Speaking of things that make me smile…

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Remember this $7 8-foot-tall (slight exaggeration) Goodwill lamp? I’m still loving it with its black and white, floral Target shade, although I did banish it to the corner when I added my glass, bubble lamps to the sofa table.

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Just in case you were wondering (because I get asked this every time I do a living room post), the color on the walls is Sherwin Williams Sea Salt. It may be my favorite gray/blue/green neutral.

And because I haven’t bombarded you with enough pictures yet:

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I found spot for my painted pumpculents, and I’m still more than a little enamored with Geoffrey, the giraffe.

But it’s the bottom left picture that I really want to talk about. Here’s the deal: the chair legs are a bit beaten up, but I really don’t mind too much and would totally keep them this color if these chairs were to stay downstairs, since the color matches the floors, and the nicks can definitely be passed off as “character.”

However, the wood will clash with something I have in mind when they migrate upstairs, so I want to change them. And I’d love it if you’d help me decide.

So, here’s a little poll for you. What color do you think I should paint the chair legs?

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C’mon! Help a sister out!

Oh! And don’t forget to brag about your own Project Elephant updates here in the comments (you can attach pictures or leave me links to blog posts) or on social media with the hashtag #projectelephant

P.S. Our Pleated Poppy, Jo Totes AND Jones Design Mombassadors giveaways all end tonight! Don’t forget to enter! I’ll announce the winners to all of the giveaways tomorrow.

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Project Elephant Checklist {#2} + Blog Updates

Oh my goodness, y’all. Updating your About Page takes a looooooong time. At least when you’re longwinded like I am.

Which brings me to Project Elephant (hello, awkward segue). (Oh and hello confusion, if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Feel free to catch up here; you can also use the search term “project elephant” in the search bar with the little magnifying glass emblem in the top right corner of the blog to see all project elephant posts).

It’s kind of fallen by the wayside for the past month or so with the all the busyness that was 31 Days of M, but I’m bringing it back like a bad perm today.

Here’s the latest PE checklist:

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Did you notice that I’ve already crossed one off? Yup. I’m feeling pretty accomplished. Or at least I would be if I hadn’t been meaning to do all of those things for, oh, at least a month now.

Either way, they’re DONE.  For now.  Because I’m a tweaker. And I’m likely to keep playing around with headers and about pages and such.

Still, they’re as done as they going to be for the moment, so if you’d like to nose around the About Page and see if there’s possibly some tidbit of information you actually didn’t already know about me, feel free.

Also, consider the blog header and the pics from the About Page a sneak peek at a little photo shoot we did on Sunday that I will show you more of later this week.

So…what are your Project Elephant goals these days?

I will be updating you regularly from here on out, and I can’t wait to see what kind of chomps you’ve been taking out of your elephants.

REMEMBER: It’s not about perfection. It’s about progress.

Don’t forget to brag about your progress on social media if you feel so inclined with the hashtag #projectelephant

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