Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Lots and Lots of Furniture May 16, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 9:29 am
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Furniture is probably a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s hard to say no when it’s in amazing condition or has awesome potential. (Unless of course you are Kelly or Matt, who are both very good at telling me no to any new furniture.) But I recently got my way in obtaining some new dining room furniture that benefited multiple people – how can you not say “yes” to a situation like that?!?

My friend Lei and her mom have been uber gracious about giving Kelly and I furniture for our apartment over the last year that is fabulous, at the ridiculous price of free. All of the pieces are made from solid wood materials and beautiful fabric from Crate and Barrel. None of the pieces we have received have needed any major touch-ups or refinishing.

To date, we have received four new chairs for our kitchen and an adorable small white hutch for our living room. Not long ago, Lei asked if I was interested in a dining room table, six chairs and a hutch. Not being one to pass an opportunity up I went over to check out the goods. The table, chairs and hutch matched my current sideboard and china cabinet perfectly. Don’t you think? And as you can see, Stella loves the new carpet in the living room!

New dining room table

New hutch

Also while I was over there, Lei and her mom said I could take a carpet and additional dresser if I wanted in addition. So naturally I totally took them up on their offer. The new carpet went in the living room and is a great addition. It’s a little more modern than what Kelly and I gravitate to, but it’s definitely growing on me. Plus it’s amazingly cushy and comfortable.

Wondering what happened to the old dining room items and dresser? All donated to Matt’s new house. He totally made out like a bandit.  Again, one helpful reason why he didn’t say no to the furniture :).

Now, with the dining room all set I’m off to actual furniture projects that do need work! I’m proud to write that I have a quick project update regarding Kelly’s new desk.  Last week I started working on it so I could hopefully surprise her when she comes back after recuperating from her surgery. But my cover was blown this Saturday when she stopped by to pick up a few items from the apartment. She still looked impressed by my cleaning, sanding and first few coats of paint. Three coats later I’m looking like I’ll still need another two. Here is the progress so far:

Desk drawers

3 coats of paint later…

Stay tuned more updates on the desk to come!


Vino van Gogh May 9, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 10:12 pm
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Normally painting is usually a simple activity for me involving one or two cans of paint and a piece of furniture. There are no intricate details or small lines that require intense concentration. Well, I got out of my comfort zone this week and actually painted a picture on canvas. And it wasn’t even paint by numbers!

My friend Andrea received Living Social coupon for her birthday to attend Vino van Gogh. Sarah did a similar activity a few months ago in Denver. Vino van Gogh was just slightly different. The company hosts painting events at local restaurants around the Chicago suburbs. At each location they create a different painting.

The Living Social deal that Andrea got was to attend a Vino van Gogh at Brio in Lombard. Brio is an upscale version of the Olive Garden…but no breadsticks. During the week they have a special for $20 that includes a soup or salad, main entree and dessert. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity, we grabbed dinner before our class. The food was excellent. I enjoyed a Caesar salad, pan-seared tilapia topped with a shrimp/crab cake with grilled vegetables and a brownie swirled with caramel for dessert, all paired with a delightful chardonnay.

After the wine, I felt my confidence growing that maybe I could pull of a painting. The majority of painting I usually do is on big canvas like dressers or tables and even then I usually cheat with a stencil or fabric. So I might have felt a little intimidated when I sat down and stared at a small 11X14 stark white canvas and then looked at the picture of Venice we were going to create. Luckily the competitive side of me kicked in which might have been aided by another glass of wine but whatever it was, I got down to business.

The leader had a few obstacles up against her from the start. The room we were in was very cramped and there were a few overbookings, which made it an even smaller space. We started a few minutes late but the crowd seemed to get over the tight quarters and everyone hunkered down to work. The leader gave great directions and guided the class along at our own pace. She slowed down when there were questions and walked around the room to offer suggestions. What helped the most was that she painted the picture with us, breaking down the painting into sections. Painting seemed way less daunting and became more enjoyable tackling small pieces at a time.

Here you can see the progression:

Halfway done

3/4 of the way done

The final product

Not to bad huh? It’s already up in our kitchen which happens to have an Italian theme so it fits perfectly! But I’m still no Van Gogh and will probably still just stick to furniture instead of canvas.


The Bench Finale! April 4, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 5:40 pm
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So after Tom yelled at me for not completing my homework of actually finishing the bench, in one of my recent posts, I decided to finally take care of business.

The few last items I had to take care of included painting and upholstery. The remaining items to be painted were the “spindles” as I’m calling them that are almost arm rests for the bench.


Painted Spindles

Once that was completed I moved on to re-upholstering the bench top. Luckily I had an extra pillow sham that I put to use. I only had to tear apart a few seems in the back to make it slip on like a glove. With my trust staple gun I got to work. Pulling the corners tight I started stapling from the left and worked my way around. The key is definitely to make sure you’re holding the fabric as taught to the back. I think the final product turned out well.

Fabric on the bench seat

All my last final pieces were finally done. I’d like to say I’m finished with my homework now. Hopefully Tom doesn’t take of any points for being late…

The Final Product!


Project Update: A Bench March 14, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 10:40 am
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I’m not sure if you remember, but back in June, I posted an article about a bench. It was a great Craiglist find and sat comfortably in my room for three years. Somehow it always stayed on the back burner of my project lists. The bench was only on display in my room so it was easy to pass it by and think I’ll just get to that later.

Well, finally, later has arrived. What boosted the determination to get ‘er done?  Simply put, it’s the warm weather. Back over Christmas break I was able to sand the bench down. However, that blip of warm weather didn’t last long enough for me to get a few coats of paint on the bench. So it sat out on the porch waiting for the warmer weather to return.

Luckily, this week we’ve been enjoying mid 60’s with light breezes. Perfect for painting! Since it’s going in my bedroom, I wanted it to match the end tables I refinished last year.

Monday evening I was able to finish a few sanding touch-ups and get the first layer of paint. Tuesday after work I layered on the second coat and third coat. I was hoping I would be able to finish it up tonight but looks like the detail work will have to wait for later this week. But at least you can see somewhat of a final production.

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Don’t worry I’ll post about the final outcome next week complete with pictures.

So you’re probably wondering what’s the next project? Well, it’s actually a desk for Kelly and it’s going to be awesome! Better stay tuned for updates!


The First DIY of the New Year January 18, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 3:12 pm
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Hello Uncharted readers! First off, major apologies for my lack of posts. Surviving the holidays is a challenge and then finding a grove to get back into is just as difficult. But I’m glad to say, it’s good to be back!

Knowing that one of my hobbies is re-doing furniture a good friend donated about a dozen paint samples to me.  Unfortunately for the longest time, I had no time. So the paint samples sat and sat and sat in our slightly disorganized pantry.

Finally their day arrived to see the sun! Thanks to the holidays, the extra time I needed arrived. It has been a long while since my hands got dirty bringing new life to furniture. And as soon as I got to work, I could tell I was definitely past due. The weather even cooperated with the opportunity to work out on the porch…much to Kelly’s relief as well!

First on the furniture flip list was this magazine rack. I found this gem in an antiques store in northern Wisconsin. A $5 price tag was too good to pass up on way to “centralize” Kelly’s magazine collection. Or at least offer support to her magazine collection.

Magazine Rack Before

So what steps where taken to achieve the final look? Here’s the breakdown:

  • Dust/clean off any dirt on the rack
  • Sand! First with a rough grain and then with a smoother/finer grain
  • Remove dust from sanding
  • Paint! 3 coats for this little guy…apparently he was thirsty
  • Stencil! I had the dickens of a time with the first stencil that I wanted to use. The plastic would not lay flat and paint kept going underneath the stencil and smudging the end result. So, after consulting with Kelly that I was indeed properly stenciling, I scrapped the original stencil for another one.

And the final result is for you below. What do you think?

Magazine Rack After



Jumping out of my comfort zone… September 1, 2011

…in terms of crafting and art, which you all know is hard for me since I have tried just about all types of crafts there are to get ones feet wet in.  But this past weekend I tried my hand at painting.  That’s right, not just painting solid colors or polka dots on all types of surfaces, but REAL painting…on canvas like my dear friend, Lei.

My friend Krista invited me to an event in Denver called Canvas and Cocktails.  You get to drink wine and paint a picture that they guide you through step by step.  I was in once the wine half was mentioned.  When we got there, a wide range of people were in attendance: from young to old, females and males (though I will say, the amount of straight males in the room was probably lacking haha).  Then I saw our picture.  It was a picture of Red Rocks amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado.  Jonathan and I went to a concert there a few weeks ago, and I will tell you from firsthand experience that the place is absolutely breathtaking.  I was thinking to myself that there was absolutely positutely NO way I was going to be able to paint it.

Out instructor got up on this little podium stage and started giving us some direction about where to start.  She put on some dancy music, we enjoyed our wine, and started painting!  I had a few glitches along the way, but usually I found there’s a way to fix them (one thing I enjoyed discovering, since this is why I was always afraid to try real painting, for fear that I’d mess it up, have wasted a nice canvas, a bunch of pricey paint, and hours of valuable time only to have to start over!).  Before I knew it, 2 and a half hours had passed and I had a painting of Red Rocks staring me straight in the face.  And actually for someone who’s never painted before, I think it turned out pretty good (or at least, sort of looks like the original example). 

The moral of the story is: don’t be afraid to push your limits and go outside your comfort zone.  You may end up with a really beautiful product (plus a tipsy spirit and some new friends, in my case).  

Krista and I with our finished products


New Project: A Bench July 19, 2011

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 5:08 pm
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When we first moved into our apartment I gained a lot more space in my bedroom. Unlike my room at my parents’ house, I didn’t need to fit a desk and chair in the room along with my bed and two dressers. The extra space is totally welcome, however, I did miss having a place to put my clothes out for the next day.

Since I had extra space to fill, I scoured my favorite furniture outlet, Craigslist for a few potential pieces. After searching for about a month, I found the perfect little bench for the bargain price of $20.

It’s been almost two years since the purchase date of said bench. The only modification to date has been its’ reupholstering. Using an extra pillow sham from my bedspread, I tore up the back seams and was able to use it as a cover over the existing fabric.

Not too bad huh? A few staples to make sure everything looked nice and I was done.

The next summer project

But since I re-did my bedroom end tables in January, it’s left me to ponder more about the bench. Maybe I’m not quite done with it just yet….

Our friend Holly had brought over the paint I used on the end tables as part of our swap, (read about that here) and I still have some leftover. So, theoretically I could end up with a nice three-piece set. I’m debating about doing a darker color with light accents. Kind of a reverse of the end tables, what do you think? I’m totally open to suggestions!


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