Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I like authentic -- even in my fibers and figures

So the thing about grief is, even when I’m incredibly sad. I’m still me.
It’s kinda weird.
I can be nonfunctional at times, but I’m still every bit of me.
And then I can be very functional. Like maybe 100%? Maybe not 100, but way up there.
I can hate everything. And love what I love, even more. All at once.
The world is a terrible place full of things I don’t like.
But still, the world is so beautiful. And in some ways it’s more beautiful than ever.
I can be really happy.
But sadness is now just woven into my skin.

I am very split personality-ish now. (Forever?)

So to honor that, I’m gonna keep posting in that manner -- bold intensities when they need to come out, and then somedays I’m going to revel in the minute, silly nothingnesses of life.

That’s this post. Silly nothingness. But nothings that means a lot to me, just because it can, I guess.

Here goes:

I told you I needed to recover our piano bench. And that I bought a suede thrift store jacket to do so.

Guys, this may be my favorite project to date.

It was so easy. Just cut to size. (All while trying not to panic -- worrying how you could accidentally go too small and totally cut the project short.) (I didn’t! Phew!)
I added a tiny bit of padding that I pieced together from left over stuff I had from doing my kitchen chairs. Stapled that down, then stapled the suede on top like a seat cover on a chair.

Doing this project has kind of turned my design world on it’s ear.
A couple reasons.

First -- having real suede on my piano bench is entirely more luxurious than I was anticipating it would be. The touch of it is so substantial and rich. And the look of it is heavier than it otherwise would have been. Having authentic natural fibers in a space changes things.
For me, having seen those fancy rugs I talked about before, and now having this real suede, has really brought home the idea that I’m all in favor of 'quality over quantity' in terms of the things I want to own. 

     Having this leather in here, is suddenly making me grasp why big name designers chose the crazy expensive items. (Blake don’t panic…keep reading, I’m not gonna start throwing cash out the window.) Having something of 'true essence' in the space is really grounding. It takes the hollow feeling out of the room and makes it feel tangible. And having a tangible feeling room, brings something alive into the act of living.

Second -- I feel like I’ve cracked a new level’s code of design-on-the-cheap. I keep feeling incredibly proud of this simple little DIY. It’s just a nonstop “how cool is that!?!”  I have some big-price-tag-level quality for non-big-dollars.
     I am currently filled with the urge to go buy every single leather/suede coat out there in my thrift stores (that’s like a color I like, and has a touch that is nice) and turn them all into something else.
But the nice thing is, I still have a pretty decent stash of leather on my hands right now.

I took the coat apart with my seam ripper. I left the coat’s seams alone that made up the big parts, and just took off the sleeves and the collar kind of things.

My current plan is to make at least one throw pillow for my living room couch. I plan to do leather on the front and some other fabric (TBD) on the back. (I should probably stick to one -- to keep the room sane, but the urges are so strong!)
(I just laid the fabric on top for an example, it’s not sewn yet.)

And I also hope to make simple tote (it might be smallish) out of the rest of my stash. (Hopefully that urge will help me keep the pillow quota down.)

I will also hang on to any scraps, and maybe make some simple jewelry out of it.
Use the whole buffalo suede coat, my friend!

To create the pillow and bag I’ll need to by a sewing machine needle made for leather. Which I should be able to grab a JoAnn’s for a few bucks.

I spent $20 on the coat. It was a 3x size -- which, when doing this type of thing is awesome -- the coats at thrift stores aren’t priced on amount of material -- just on what it is. I’m getting more material by getting this coat than a small leather coat that costs $20.
I’m sure I could have found cheaper leather coats in the thrift market. But this was the one for me. I mean the color was spot on for my piano’s needs. And our piano bench is a longer one -- and I needed something that would cover the whole thing. I wound up going from pocket to pocket and including the side seams of the coat. (Which gave me more length than from collar to bottom.)

I seriously LOVE where the seams fit on here though, it looks so on purpose and on trend. Yet maybe timeless?

If I am able to get a pillow and a bag out of this deal -- that’s gonna be phenomenal savings. Especially when talking bags -- real leather bags cost an arm and a leg.
I’m not sure how mine will look.
But like I said -- I now feel like I’ve cracked the code -- I’m willing to try this again with a different coat. And maybe I’ll be able to get some big scores as the weather warms up, and the stores want to clear space?

Third --
I’m feeling pretty savvy about the reduce-reuse-recycle aspect here. I know not everyone feels good about leather. But I’m gonna venture to say the fact that it’s thrifted (already created and not going into a landfill) might mend some bridges there. I know I feel good about that part.
Plus,  in terms of my bench and my home -- because I know it’s not brand new, and it’s not so very pricey (although generally speaking I try to spend less per item when thrifting -- anyway) I don’t feel super worried about the kids doing much damage to it.  I’m attached to this one, but I could always thrift a different one if catastrophe happens.

So all around -- this bench recover is a major win in my world.


 In the land of “real” and substance. I bought some real brass, vintage, figurines on ebay. I had some paypal funds and me and a certain 3 year old fell in love with these ones.

(Oh and that brass lamp was $8 at the thrift store. I oogled it for months, and no one bought it. So when it dawned on me I had the right spot for it, I rushed back to get it. I LOVE those fish scales -- or more likely mermaid scales, in this house. I'm still 50/50 on the lamp shade, hence the plastic wrap still being on.)

To each their own -- these will not appeal to everyone. But man, these make me happy.

I didn’t get the the figurines for 'thrift store cheap'. More like 'Target-decor-price'. (Which for the vintage brass figurine world of ebay, I think I did quite well.) But I really like that I got something old and more unique then something anyone could grab at Target.
And once again, the realness of these ,is so delightful in the room. It grounds it even more.

And what’s really nice about these is they are fairly indestructible. Kids are safe to touch them and move them around. (Not throw them of course. These are very heavy! Throwing we be a disaster.) 

They make for really nice coffee table items when you have a bit bigger than toddler aged kids. (I’m under no delusions, I’m enjoying these placed here for the limited hours I have left to do so before baby Bronson get’s just a smidgen more mobile. Then they will have to go up higher for a while, before he learns to handle them.) But I like letting the kids play with with them. Ruby is hilariously cute with them. She’s demeeded the elephant the baby giraffe’s grandma. 

And they call eachother with the mom giraffe’s horns. (Which in her world make this adorable “dododdodododo” sound.)
As I mentioned way back, I found that plant’s container at the thrift and it’s plastic = Also kid friendly. And I just used our Whinnie the Pooh book as an added something-something. Which is fun because it inspires us to read it more often. So a very kid (not so much toddler) friendly coffee table over all.

When Bronson gets bigger I think I wanna try for a soft basket with stylized blocks type something. We will see.

I’ve started crocheting a basket (I want two) to go over our plant’s pots. I'm close to done with this one. I’ll show you a better picture when I am done.

I’m all about adding the the subtle textures of this space now. (And my hands appreciate things to keep them busy these days. Knitting and crochet are so similar to meditation.) I looked at this basket tutorial and just kind of did my best winging this thing to fit. I had to take out decent amounts of rows when I found I was doing things wrong, numerous times. But it was ok. I’m seriously in love with how it’s turning out through. So organic.
I’m using a roll of jute I got from Home Depot for like $2-$3. And some black cotton yarn. (This particular yarn is from a thrift store cotton sweater I once upon a time ago took apart to upcycle.) So this basket is very cheap, but I feel like it’s an art installation.

I’m liking all the cheap thrills of rich textures and authentic fibers and materials. The room is starting to get polished.
Next I’m eyeing new lamps and trying to put my finger on that situation. And I’m hoping to sell off a bit more of my un-used home goods to fund something a bit more pricey on those purchases.


  1. I love how that room is looking! I don't normally love brass, but I think that's because all the modern stuff looks so fake. Those giraffes and the elephant are adorable! What a great find! And the leather bench and other touches you are planning add such a nice touch. I am loving the textures too!

    1. Whoops, I forgot to respond (I did in my head, but my hands forgot about it.)
      Thanks Yvonne. I was NOT into brass for the longest time, just because I had only seen the faux-gold-brass of the 80s and wanted nothing to do with it. Then suddenly brass came back, and me being me, I had to investigate. Once I did that I was all of a sudden super open to brass -- because it’s a lot more luxurious than I had thought -- the real brass stuff has lovely depth. And I started feeling cold in a world with only cool metals around. It’s nice to mix everything together and get all the goods.
      I’m still so pumped about the leather bench.
      But I’ve fallen behind on actually finishing the basket I started. And I’ve of course got to make the second one for the other plant -- I hope I follow through!

  2. I love the throw pillow and tote idea, Lydia. The rugs, the suede, the music instruments. Very bohemian chic!

    1. Whoops, I forgot to respond (I did in my head, but my hands forgot about it.)
      Thanks so much Eva! I’m really excited about it all coming together. It’s been a long time coming, so it feels extra special to me.

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