Sep 242013

It’s been about a week since we started the paper floor project and it’s basically finished. Mark did all the final work – 10 coats of polyurethane, with light sanding in between most of the coats – that took 5 days. What remains is to add quarter-round molding at the baseboard, all around the room. And a rug. And some furniture.


Here’s more of a closeup:


The whole flat still smells of poly, which is remarkably NOT unpleasant (and in fact has quite pleasant associations – my father in his basement workshop, sanding, staining, varnishing).

I have to say, despite its flaws, I LOVE the floor. We plan to do the bedroom next – bigger room with more stuff to move out of the way, so considerably more challenging. But knowing what we know, we will make a better job of the bedroom. The main pitfall to avoid, we found, is working too fast. When laying each piece of paper, the best technique is to work the glue over the paper from the center outward, not too fast and with slight pressure. The outward motion seems to force out any air bubbles and the paper dries nice and flat straightaway, no need to repair.

Bathroom-floor-finishedI was looking at similar floors on Pinterest and found some lovely ideas that would require quite a bit more forethought and leave less room for mistakes. This faux wood look on the the right, for example, might be good to consider for the bedroom…

Once the room is furnished, before the inevitable chaos of cat hair and clutter, I will post some more photos.

Linda in NJ

 Posted by on 2013/09/24 crafts, DIY, home decor Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Sep 192013

When our very grown up 20-year-old daughter sprouted wings and flew from our snug little nest into her very own apartment, Mark and I wasted little time in stripping down her former bedroom with an eye to turning it into a cozy sitting/working space.

First thing, of course, was to paint over the “goth” dark purple walls and black trim. Several coats of paint later we have soft blue walls with a lighter blue trim. Nice calm colors.

The next step was to come up with a nice floor covering for very little money, since we had just spent a small fortune remodeling the bathroom. We didn’t want to do carpet, because carpet and cat hair just do not mix. We loved the idea of bamboo, but that was a non-starter – way too expensive and not something we felt we could DIY with any success.  We thought about sheet vinyl that looks like wood. But it’s just never going to look or feel right.


So Mark suggested we scrap the norm and hunt around for some clever DIY ideas that we could really accomplish on our own. Within the day he had found this amazing tutorial “The Ultimate Brown Paper Flooring Guide” by Rachel of Lovely Crafty Home. Paper flooring? Yep – that is correct. Who would have thought?

torn-paperRachel’s instructions are exhaustive and we were careful to read all her recommendations because it looks like she has made quite a good job of this.

Our subfloor is concrete and Mark spent a lot of time repairing cracks and prepping the floor. When it was as good as it was ever going to get, he applied a coat of sealant and we got to work tearing up brown kraft paper.


Next, we spent hours on our hands and knees with paper, Elmer’s glue, and thick paint brushes, applying random shapes of brown paper to the concrete, “decoupage” style. We worked from the center of the room, towards the back, then down the sides towards the door.  Here’s the floor in progress (picture at right), still wet with glue and a big swath as yet not covered.

The next morning, when the glue was fully dry, we found lots of spots we needed to patch or otherwise repair. For example, there were several small “holes” where the concrete was showing, so we patched those easily enough. The hardest part was taking care of all the small creases that created tunnels at the edges of some of the paper. The fix for those was to slit them open with an exacto knife, flatten by hand, and apply more glue and a paper patch. That’s the beauty of all the random shapes – any patch you apply will blend right in. So far it has come out looking a bit like stone or maybe cork.


Here’s a closeup image of a small detail of the floor once it dried.

So it’s been four days since we began laying the paper floor and we are SO very pleased with the outcome… so far.

We are not even close to finished. Next step – twelve thin coats of low VOC water-based polyurethane with plenty of drying time and light sanding in between each coat. One step we decided to skip was staining the paper. Although I love the way Rachel’s stained paper floors look, I really like the natural color of the kraft paper and it happens to go well with the new curtains, so we opted for skipping straight to the poly.

I will update this post when the floor is finished – I do hope to report good news. Wish us luck!

Linda in NJ

 Posted by on 2013/09/19 crafts, DIY, home decor Tagged with: , ,  2 Responses »
Mar 182013
finished I have an awful lot of salvaged denim jeans that have been languishing for a long while and thought that might make for a fun project. Inspired by these  cute soft storage containers from my friend Melana’s Etsy shop , I came up with an easy plan – here’s what I gathered for the project:

  • A cut-off jeans leg
  • A scrap of colorful tie-dyed cotton (from an earlier, unfinished project)
  • A plastic cylindrical container (which is actually the inverted cover from a spindle of blank DVDs)
  • Pins, chalk, scissors, sewing machine, etc. – all my sewing stuff


I had a good few jeans legs to choose from, because I never throw away useful fabric, do I? I was lucky enough to have one that just fit nicely over the plastic container. If you don’t have a piece that “just fits” you can just narrow it a bit at one seam, or let it out with more fabric – no problem.The next step was to cut the jeans leg down to a few inches longer than the height of the container (see below). I made it a little too big, just for wiggle room. 02


Next I cut a piece of the tie-dye cotton to match the size of the denim. While the denim was already seamed on both sides, the tie-dye needed to be seamed on one side, so I actually cut it about 1/2 inch wider…


… and ran a seam, to produce 2 fabric “cylinders,” both a bit taller than the plastic container.


Next, using the bottom of the container as a template, I chalk-traced a circle and cut two matching “discs” from leftover pieces of both the denim and the tie-dye, adding a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Hint – sewing a round disc to the end of a cylinder is much easier with as small a seam as possible. 1/2 inch worked okay, but I think 1/4-3/8 inch would have been better. Lesson learned.


Below you see the pinned up tie-dye construction at left and the denim construction as it’s being seamed at right. Another hint – for a cleaner seam, keep the disc piece facing down and the cylinder piece up. This makes it easier to control little creases getting caught up in the seam.


I trimmed the seams and over-edge stitched them to limit fraying (this is a washable item, so you want to do that if you can).


10 Next I fitted the container into the finished denim cylinder and folded in the top edge of the fabric. You can see I made it a bit too tall, but not to worry.

Then I took the tie-dye cylinder, turned it inside out, and fitted it inside the container. Looking at it I decided it really was a bit too tall, so I hemmed it down about an inch…


14 … and then ran a line of decorative stitching around the top edge.

I have all these cool stitches on my Janome that I never get to use – this seemed like a good opportunity to try one. This one looks a bit like a heart monitor readout!

I fitted the tie-dye cylinder back inside the container. cuffed the top down and …




here’s the finished piece…


This took about an hour to make (and a lot longer to write about).


You can use any sort of cylindrical container to make this little basket. It’s a good way to upcycle, rather than recycle, a plastic yogurt container, paper oatmeal container, coffee can, or whatever you have on hand. The yogurt container is a little trickier because of the tapered shape, but it’s totally doable.

As I said earlier, this is washable – when it gets a bit dingy, just pull it apart and wash the two pieces with your regular laundry. Simple enough.

Melana’s denim containers are more finely made and worth the $23 – her prices are so reasonable! She used soft batting between the layers, rather than hard plastic, because hers are meant for little kiddies.  A shout-out to Melana’s fine craftsmanship – I have some cat toys she made for us (little embroidered fishies stuffed with organic catnip and crinkly cellophane) and I bought one of her soft tool kits as a baby gift for a friend’s new grandchild. DO visit her shop when you need a baby gift – her soft toys are outstanding!

I hope you’ll give this project a try and let me know how yours turns out!

Linda, in NJ

finished-anotherUpdate – 23 March 2013: I made a few more of these cute baskets – thought I’d post this one for the spring holidays. I wanted to fill it with the vegan matzoh balls I made today (which were delicious), but that just seemed wrong. It did, however, look like a good place to hide a few jelly beans.



 Posted by on 2013/03/18 crafts, DIY, sewing Tagged with: , , , , ,  3 Responses »