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DIY Campaign Furniture Transformation

campaign furniture and bakers rack 005bI’ve wanted campaign furniture for ages, but didn’t want to spring for new stuff.  I decided to do a ‘DIY Campaign Furniture Transformation’, turning to craigslist to track down the perfect item.

Campaign furniture is often featured in design and shelter magazines, and I was curious about its history, so I did a little research.

I learned that for thousands of years, high-ranking army officers made their military campaigns more comfortable by traveling with furniture that could be easily put up, taken down and transported.

CampaignLineMarch by wikipediaImage 

The height of the popularity and use of campaign furniture can be traced to the British army of the 1800s. British officers surrounded themselves with the comforts (and even luxuries) of home by bringing as many durable, lightweight, portable, and indestructible pieces of campaign furniture with them as they could afford.

Campaign furniture tentImage 

Designed and engineered by such venerable British furniture companies as Chippendale, Sheraton and Hepplewhite, their campaign furniture was an exquisite blend of functionality and elegance, made unique by the signature use of distinctive metal strapping and recessed pulls.  

495px-CampaignChestImage

I was able to find my ’2-piece dresser’ on craigslist. I didn’t care what the finish was, as I knew I would be painting it, inside and out.

But before I bought and began my DIY Campaign Furniture Transformation, I went over the pieces carefully:

  • Check for quality construction – There’s no sense in putting a lot of work (or even a little work) into poorly made furniture.

I examined the drawer construction:

Campaign dresser drawer.2

The drawers were wood on all four sides with a melamine-over-fiberboard bottom.

All well and good, but more importantly, how were the actual drawers constructed?campaign furniture and bakers rack 012b

I found dovetail construction on both the front and back of the drawers, a must-have for durability.

 What other clues did I find to point to good construction?

campaign furniture and bakers rack 024a

I looked for and found the presence of blocks, glued and nailed into place, on all sides of the drawer bottoms, put there to keep the drawers square and true.

 campaign furniture and bakers rack 033

I was glad to find dust panels between the drawers, added to increase the piece’s structural integrity, and which help to keep stored items clean and securely in place.

  • Check the hardware

I examined all the decorative strapping and hardware, as well as the hinges and closing magnets, to see the condition of everything and to see what, if anything, was missing.

It appeared that all the strapping and hardware was intact, the hinges were in good condition, but one magnetic door catch was broken. I recognized the catch as a common one and knew I could easily find a replacement, so I went ahead and bought my campaign furniture for $60.

Once home, I began my DIY Campaign Furniture Transformation.

I approached this project methodically, doing what I could to keep everything organized:

  • Remove the decorative strapping and handles

I began the process by loosening the slim brass tacks that held each decorative strap in place. I used a 3” broadknife and gently pried each tack away from the furniture frame, until they were all removed:

campaign furniture and bakers rack 009a

  • Store furniture hardware in a safe, organized manner

As I removed each decorative strap, I placed it, and the corresponding tacks, in a zippered plastic bag, labeled with its location:

campaign furniture and bakers rack 013a

I did the same with the rest of the trim, as well as the drawer and door handles:

campaign furniture and bakers rack 022a

The condition of most of the strapping was not great, with pitting and oxidation evident on most pieces, some more than others.

The drawer and door handles had fared better, with little to no pitting or oxidation.

I removed the broken magnetic catch and found an exact replacement at my local Home Depot:

Magnetic Door Catch.1Image

I also marked the location of each drawer on the underside with a black Sharpie, making it easy to know where each one would go after it was painted.

 campaign furniture and bakers rack 023a

With all the hardware removed, bagged and set aside, it was time to turn my attention to the furniture itself.

  • Prep the furniture surface for paint

In the past, I have used either oil or latex satin enamel to paint furniture, in which case I would:

a. Carefully sand the entire surface

b. Wipe it clean with a tack rag

c. Apply a coat of an oil-based primer for maximum adhesion of the final paint coat

But in this case, I intended to use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, so the process was much easier, since that product requires very little surface prep:

a. I used a sanding sponge to remove some areas of adhesive residue on the dresser top and inside bottom surface of the cabinet

b. Then I wiped down the entire piece, inside and out, with a damp rag, and allowed it to dry

That completed my prep.

  • Use the right brush for the job

campaign furniture and bakers rack 026

Since I was going to be doing the cabinet and drawer interiors, I decided to use a 2-1/2” poly blend angle-cut brush, suitable for all paints. The brush’s angled edge made it easy to get adequate paint into all the inside corners quickly and completely.

(Note: I’ve also used a straight-cut brush with great success, so feel free to use that, if you prefer.)

I have learned to brush or spray Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, since rolling it on results in an unattractive (to me) ‘orange-peel’ texture, which is revealed once the piece is waxed.

  • Apply paint with the grain of the wood

Even if you’ve never painted before, you can achieve great results by just brushing on the paint in the direction of the grain of the wood.

Dip your brush into the paint just an inch or so and scrape off the excess from one side of the brush back into the container.  It won’t take long for the paint to work its way up the bristles, which is why it’s recommended to dip into the paint just an inch or so.

 campaign furniture and bakers rack 032

Unload the paint in a single movement on an area only as wide as your brush and smooth out any uneven areas as you go. Don’t try to stretch the paint, just transfer the paint from your brush to the furniture’s surface and make sure there are no ridges.

Once you have the entire piece covered, allow the first coat to dry according to directions.

  • Go the extra mile to ensure a great finished product

After I painted the cabinet interior and the paint dried, I noticed a problem:

campaign furniture and bakers rack 027a

The areas where I had sanded away the adhesive residue on the inside bottom of the cabinet had bled through the latex paint once the paint was dry.

It looked awful and very obvious.

I debated momentarily about letting it go, but I really felt that I just couldn’t leave it, so I decided to spot-prime the trouble areas with an oil primer:

campaign furniture and bakers rack 028a

After thoroughly stirring up the primer, it didn’t take more than a couple of minutes to apply it to the areas in question.

Normally, I use a chip brush (aka a cheap, throwaway brush) to apply oil primer, but I was fresh out of them, so I used the next best thing, a folded-up paper towel:

campaign furniture and bakers rack 030a

All I needed to do was to cover each area in question with a good coat of primer, smoothing out any blobs and thick ridges of primer:

campaign furniture and bakers rack 031a

I let it dry for an hour, before applying the second, and final, base coat.

  • ALWAYS DO A TWO-COAT PAINT FINISH

Don’t believe anyone who tells you that one coat of paint is good enough, because there is absolutely no way it is, especially for furniture.

You might be tempted to squeak by with one coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, since it really does have great coverage, but to produce a beautiful finished product, do a two-coat finish. It is truly worth the effort.

Once I finished painting the inside of the cabinet, I moved on to the drawers:

campaign furniture and bakers rack 037c

After finishing the cabinet and drawer interiors, I switched colors and began to paint the main bodies of my campaign furniture, using Annie Sloan’s ‘Old White’, a creamy white color:

campaign furniture and bakers rack 034a

I brushed on two coats in the same way described above, allowing it to dry according to directions. The paint dries fast, in about an hour, and soon everything was painted, including…

campaign furniture and bakers rack 035b

…the dresser and…

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…the drawers

Once I had my campaign furniture painted, I let it dry overnight, since it was late in the day and I wanted to have enough time to get all the waxing done at one time.

A word of warning: Whatever wax you use will undoubtedly be oil based, which means it’s stinky and, if you’re not used to it, can give you a bad headache and a sick stomach with prolonged exposure.

Be sure to wear a respirator or work in a well-ventilated room

  • Wax the painted surface with clear wax

Waxing the furniture isn’t very hard, but since I had painted the inside and the outside of my pieces, it added that much more surface area to be waxed.

I began by getting a clean rag and Annie Sloan’s Clear Soft Wax:

 campaign furniture and bakers rack 040a

I’m sure you could use any clear finishing wax, such as that made by Minwax, Briwax or Staples Wax, but since I already had some of Annie Sloan’s Clear Soft Wax, that’s what I used.

You can use a wax brush, but since I didn’t have one, I opted for the simple rag method:

campaign furniture and bakers rack 041a

Put a little wax on the rag and rub it onto the painted surface, working it in well. You’ll be able to feel when you need to add more wax to your rag.

The wax will darken the paint just enough to see where you’ve applied it. 

campaign furniture and bakers rack 043

Continue the process until the entire piece is waxed, then allow it to dry, which can take an hour or two, depending on temperature, humidity, etc.

When the wax is dry, buff it with a clean rag, turning to a clean spot when the wax begins to clog the rag. Run your hand over the buffed area; if you feel a ‘sticky’ area, buff it a bit more until the ‘stickiness’ disappears.

Buffing doesn’t take too long, but be thorough, checking the entire piece as you go.

Note: If you want to stay with a clear-wax finish, apply a second coat, which will go on much faster. The second coat will add more protection to your painted finish. Allow the wax to dry, buff it out and you’re done.

I wanted to give my campaign furniture a more aged look, so I chose to apply a coat of dark wax over my first clear wax coat. 

  • Apply a coat of dark wax

There’s a bit of a trick to working with dark wax:

It involves dark wax

campaign furniture and bakers rack 067a

…low-odor mineral spirits (remember to work with a respirator and/or in a well-ventilated room)…

 campaign furniture and bakers rack 068a

…and a disposable bowl, spoon, fork and brush:

campaign furniture and bakers rack 071a

  • Use the spoon to scoop a couple of tablespoons of dark wax into the bowl

  • Add a couple of tablespoons of mineral spirits to the bowl with the wax

  • Mix the wax and mineral spirits together with the fork until it reaches the approximate consistency of chocolate syrup

 campaign furniture and bakers rack 072a

As you can see, the mixture is not as smooth as chocolate syrup, but the viscosity, or thickness, is right. 

Note: If dark wax is used without thinning it first, it will result in a streaky, almost striped, finish, and is VERY hard to work with.

With the thinned-out dark wax prepared, I was ready to add age to my campaign furniture.  

campaign furniture and bakers rack 073s

First, apply a thin coat of clear wax to a narrow strip of the furniture. 

Then, immediately paint on a little of the dark wax mixture over the wet clear wax.

 campaign furniture and bakers rack 074a

Wipe off the excess dark wax with a clean rag.

campaign furniture and bakers rack 075a

Work from one end of the piece to the other, adding clear wax, then the thinned dark wax, wiping as you go. Begin another narrow band of dark wax over clear wax.

 campaign furniture and bakers rack 076a

Continue until you have the entire piece covered with thinned dark wax over clear wax, always wiping as you go. Let the dark wax coat dry for several hours, then buff as described above.

campaign furniture and bakers rack 077a

Touch up any areas with the thinned dark wax that look irregular to you, until you’re satisfied with the finished result. This process is fairly forgiving, as you’ll find out as you work with the two waxes.

  • Refinish the hardware

 

While the coats of paint and wax were drying, I used the time to refinish the hardware.

Since there was significant pitting and oxidation on quite a bit of the brass strapping, I decided to refinish the hardware, rather than cleaning and polishing it.  

I first considered using Rub ‘n Buff, but decided to use Gilders Paste instead. They’re very similar products, basically tinted wax very much like shoe polish, but the Gilders Paste had the color I was looking for, Foundry Bronze:

campaign furniture and bakers rack 056a

You can thin the Gilders Paste with a touch of mineral spirits or use it as is, which is what I did.

Like the clear wax, it doesn’t take much product to do the job, so use it with a light hand.

campaign furniture and bakers rack 065bI used a rag to apply it to the surface and allowed it to dry for an hour.  It takes 12 hours to completely cure, so I waited that length of time before I buffed it.

I refinished one zippered bag of hardware at a time, replacing it in its respective bag until it was ready to be put back in place.

Once the hardware finish had cured overnight, I gently buffed and re-installed each piece, then moved my newly transformed campaign furniture into the Master bedroom, where it provides lots of very welcome storage:

campaign furniture and bakers rack 005b

Before ‘DIY Campaign Furniture Transformation’ 

campaign furniture and bakers rack 089b

After ‘DIY Campaign Furniture Transformation’ 

I’m glad I went the extra mile to paint the interior, as I think it adds so much to the finished product:

campaign furniture and bakers rack 092a

Having the finished drawer interiors is all the incentive I need to keep their contents neat and tidy:  

campaign furniture and bakers rack 091a

Admittedly, this project took some time; I spent several hours for each of 4 days working on this ‘DIY Campaign Furniture Transformation’. But I consider it time well spent, since I now have campaign furniture I love and will use for a long time.  

How much did I spend?

  • $120 on both colors of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, additional clear wax and the Foundry Bronze Gilders Paste

  • $60 on the furniture

  • I already had the zippered plastic bags, brushes, oil primer, dark wax, mineral spirits, paper towels and rags

 

So for less than $200, I have two pieces of well-made, beautiful, functional campaign furniture which will serve me for years to come.

I consider it to be a bargain.  

And, if I get sick of the color(s), I can paint over it all or apply a different color of Gilders Paste to the hardware.

Have you done your own ‘DIY Campaign Furniture Transformation’? How did you do it?  What tips or tricks did you use?  Feel free to share in ‘Comments’ below!  

Kate

DIY Art for Under 20 Bucks

DIY paint chip art 004b

Recently, I wrote about DIY Art for Under 2 Bucks’. Today, I’m upping the budget and will share how to make ‘DIY Art for Under 20 Bucks’.

In the DIY Art for Under 2 Bucks’ article, I stated that I needed art to fill a large wall in my bedroom. Once I had the pieces finished and hung, I felt they were a bit too small, but I thought I could probably live with them.

Turns out, I couldn’t – the pictures were just too small and puny for that big wall, in my opinion:

Black and white photo art 010a

I moved them to the guest room/office, where they are much happier, as am I:

DIY black and white art in office 002a

But that still left me without anything for my big bedroom wall. After much consideration, I found my inspiration on Pinterest:

Paint chip art inspiration

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I like everything about this piece, including the mosaic tile effect and the overall sheen of it.

However, I knew I needed to cover at least a 2′ X 4′ area of wall for the correct scale, so I decided I would make two pieces.

I went to Home Depot and selected a 2′ X 4′ piece of 1/2” MDF (medium density fiberboard), which was just under $10, and had it cut in half, creating two 2′ X 2′ ‘canvases’.

I already had a good stash of paint chip samples which coordinated with my bedding:

DIY paint chip art 017a

I also had an XL square punch to create the ’tiles’ from my paint chips:

FIskars XL square punchImage

I bought two sample-size pots of paint to serve as my ‘grout lines’, and applied two coats to each board and allowed them to dry:

DIY paint chip art 002a

It took me several evenings (in front of the TV) to punch out my ’tiles’. Once I had punched all the colors of ’tiles’ I needed, I began to lay them out:

DIY paint chip art 003b

When I was satisfied with the layout, I glued them down with Gloss ModPodge, pasting the board first, then both sides of each ’tile’, to ensure good adhesion:

DIY paint chip art 005a

DIY paint chip art 004b

Once I got everything glued down, I decided I didn’t like the brown tiles interspersed in the large neutral field, so I covered them up by ModPodging more neutral ’tiles’ on top of the brown ones, creating a calmer feel:

DIY paint chip art 012a

At this point, I knew I didn’t like the look of the piece, as it was too clear, too distinct, too crisp. I needed to apply some sort of glaze over everything to give it a more aged, antiqued, distressed look.

I found the perfect thing at Hobby Lobby and bought it with a 40% discount coupon:

DIY paint chip art 013a

This metallic paint product comes in a variety of colors; I chose the ‘Rich Espresso’ finish.

I applied it two rows at a time, wiping the excess off with a rag as I went:

DIY paint chip art 015a

This only took a few minutes and produced exactly the look I was after:

DIY paint chip art 021a

My husband installed the hanging hardware on the back of each piece:

ook picture hanging kitImage

Since MDF is heavy, I felt each piece should be hung with hardware that could handle up to 30 lbs – overkill, maybe, but better safe than sorry.

Here are the two pieces of ‘DIY Art for Under 20 Bucks’, hung on the wall of my Master bedroom:

paint chip art finished product.1

Cost breakdown per piece:

MDF – $4.61

Paint chips – $0.00 (already had)

Sample paint pot – $2.94

Fiskars XL square punch – $0.00 (already had)

Gloss ModPodge – $0.00 (already had)

Rich Espresso glazing liquid – $4.80

Hanging hardware – $3.96

Tax: $1.14

Total: $17.45

I finally feel my Master bedroom is pretty well complete, now that I have my ‘DIY Art for Under 20 Bucks’ on the wall.

I would love to hear from those of you who have done their own DIY artwork, whatever size, medium or style you used. There are so many creative people doing fabulous stuff – please leave your stories and links in ‘Comments’ below.

Kate

ps – Unless otherwise indicated, I took all the photos in this article. Feel free to contact me if you would like to use them. K.

Four Unexpected Costs of Clutter

Cluttered garage

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Recently, I realized I have experienced Four Unexpected Costs of Clutter’. In 1995, my dad was dying of cancer and my mom’s Alzheimer’s had advanced to the point where she had to go to a nursing home for adequate care.  I stayed with my dad in their home during the last six weeks of his life.

To distract myself from the situation, I started to clean their house. It was a big job, as they had both lived through the Great Depression and had come out of it, as so many did, never wanting to go without again.

I winnowed things down considerably, but there was still a LOT of stuff. My two brothers and I split up what remained, and my portion filled thirty-some boxes.

First Unexpected Cost of Clutter – Fear of loss

As I packed the boxes, I wondered if I’d ever use any of it, because it wasn’t really my taste, but I felt I would be losing something important if I didn’t take these things with me. The stuff in the boxes embodied my childhood; they were the tangible expression of familiarity and security I’d felt while growing up, so I felt I had to keep them.

And I did. For years.

Second Unexpected Cost of Clutter – Clutter begets clutter

Clutter is insidious; it creeps in piece by piece, under many guises, like ‘collections‘, ‘holiday décor’ and ‘gifts’, and before you know it, you’re tripping over more stuff than you know what to do with.

Without realizing it, I was adding my stuff to my parents’ stuff, almost none of which I really needed.

Third Unexpected Cost of Clutter – Keeping clutter is EXPENSIVE in many ways

Interestingly, only a couple of my parents’ boxes EVER got unpacked. For fourteen years, my husband and I schlepped these same boxes to each of the eight moves we made, four of which were cross-country trips.

While moving stuff once is expensive, moving stuff that is never unpacked more than a half a dozen times is just plain ridiculous. 

As we moved, the clutter grew and took over entire rooms in the house. Before we knew it, we could just barely park our cars in the garage, and eventually even that became impossible, due to the ever-increasing clutter.

The clutter became so unmanageable that we were forced to rent a storage space to contain it, or to be more precise, most of it.

What a waste.

Fourth Unexpected Cost of Clutter – Managing clutter is an tiresome, uphill battle

Renting a storage unit did not cure the clutter issue: it took time to drive there, root through the piles of stuff, opening box after box in search of whatever we were looking for. More often than not we failed to find what we needed (and knew we had), because of the sheer volume of our stuff.

Renting a storage unit benefited the storage unit owners more than it did us. Yet it still took several years of paying the monthly fees to come to the conclusion that we had to let go of our stuff.

Not only had we paid for our stuff more than once in terms of money, we also paid with our energy, time and well-being. We were constantly frustrated at not being able to find what we wanted/needed, when we wanted/needed it.

So, how did we overcome the cost of clutter?

First of all, I had to face the very issue that I had tried so hard to ignore. I had to go back to where the problem started: the death of parents, my dad’s from cancer and my mom’s living death that is Alzheimer’s; that’s where the fear of loss first became real.

Secondly, I had to admit that I had developed a problem with ‘stuff’, one that had gotten out of control and had to stop.

Finally, I had to put my newly-acquired revelations into action.  

So, with my husband’s agreement, we sold everything but a minimum amount of clothing, our computers and the cat, starting over with just what we absolutely needed, truly loved and would definitely use.

417 pictures 003a

It’s been just about three years since we de-cluttered our lives and we’re still clutter free. Our home is functional, beautiful and serene, because there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place.

I have learned to be content with what I have and not to allow things to become more important than they ought to be. I am now in control of my stuff, it no longer controls me.

I am free from the curse of clutter.

—-

As baby boomers age, many of their children will face the same situation that I did. Share this article, along with the following tips, to help them avoid the ‘Four Unexpected Costs of Clutter’ I experienced:  

Tip 1:  Start a dialogue EARLY between aging parents and adult children as to who would like what keepsakes. Make a master list to keep with important documents and send a copy to each recipient, to prevent any questions or squabbles later.  

Tip 2:  Memorialize important items in photographs. Make a memory book(s) to share with family.

Tip 3:  Have a certified appraiser examine jewelry, china, sterling, crystal, antiques, sculpture, artwork, furniture or anything else that might conceivably be of value.  Many items may end up with only sentimental value, but having an appraisal done on anything in question will give you peace of mind, which is priceless.

Tip 4:  Don’t force a potential item on an heir or keep it for them until they’re ‘ready’.  Let their ‘no’ mean ‘no’ and their ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’.  

Tip 5: Be sure to keep the following items:  a) Family photos, b) Family historical items (these can be donated if no one wants them), c) Military items (these can be important to your family’s history or can have collectible value), d) Important documents, which should all be kept in a safe place, e) Safes, safety deposit boxes and their combinations, keys and/or passwords  

Have you and/or your siblings had to clean out your parent’s home? Did you experience the ‘Four Unexpected Costs of Clutter’? Share your thoughts in ‘Comments’ below.

Kate

Chicken & Dressing Casserole – Quick, Easy, Yummy Comfort Food

bed steps plus chicken and dressing casserole pictures 021a

Don’t know what to make for dinner tonight? Why not have “Chicken & Dressing Casserole – Quick, Easy, Yummy Comfort Food”?

Using a rotisserie chicken, as well as staples from your fridge and pantry, this recipe can be assembled, baked and on the table in about 45 minutes. Combine it with a vegetable and it’s sure to become one of everyone’s favorite meals.

Taken from “Light & Tasty” magazine, the recipe makes 8 servings, each with 382 calories, 7 g fat, 3 g fiber, 29 g protein.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 pkg (14 oz) stuffing mix (The recipe called for a cornbread stuffing, but my husband and I prefer an herb-seasoned stuffing, which is what I used. You could also make your own stuffing, if you like, but I was in a hurry, so the stuffing mix was fine with me)

  • 4 cups cubed, cooked chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken from Costco. I find it has great flavor and is convenient to use. I added the fabulous rotisserie chicken juices, which I consider to be absolute golden elixir, to the chicken broth)

  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, warmed (I always use a reduced-sodium and fat-free chicken broth)

  • 1 can (10-3/4 oz) reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup, undiluted

  • 1 small onion, chopped (Years ago I got sick of crying while chopping onions, so now I always use frozen chopped onions. 1 cup = 1 small onion. I also rehydrated 2-3 T. dried shallots in the warmed chicken broth to add a little more depth of flavor to the casserole)

  • ¼ c. chopped celery (I like celery, so I used ½ c., instead of ¼ c. I used organic celery hearts, which I think delivers more flavor)

  • 1 t. rubbed sage (I wondered if adding the sage would be too much with the stuffing mix, but it wasn’t – it was perfect)

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, taking care not to overmix them

  • Coat a 9” X 13” baking dish with cooking spray

  • Turn in the mixture into the baking dish, gently patting it even

  • Cover with foil

  • Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 160 degrees.

  • Or, cover casserole and freeze for up to 3 months

  • To use frozen casserole: Remove from freezer 30 minutes before baking, but do not thaw. Cover and bake as indicated above.

bed steps plus chicken and dressing casserole pictures 026a

I cut the casserole into 8 generous servings and served them with peas (my husband’s favorite vegetable, next to corn). The eggs and soup combine with the stuffing mix and the rest of the ingredients to make a tender souffle-like finished product. The bits of celery add a lovely crunchy texture and flavor.

My husband said it was like having Thanksgiving dinner all in one dish and I had to agree. It was wonderful!

Why not try “Chicken & Dressing Casserole – Quick, Easy, Yummy Comfort Food” for dinner tonight?

Kate

The Most Amazing Benefit of Downsizing

 

lol 8 time

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I recently realized the most amazing benefit of downsizing. My main hope when I began downsizing was to be able to find stuff in my house when I looked for it, since everything was such a cluttered mess and hopelessly disorganized. 

In early 2011, we sold everything but our clothes, computers and the cat, loaded them into our van and moved from Minneapolis to SW Florida.

Over the next 2-1/2 years, we busied ourselves with DIY projects to furnish our condo, while traveling back and forth from Florida to Minnesota to complete several large-scale design and remodeling jobs for clients, all the while focusing on our ultimate goal of achieving simplified, streamlined and organized lives.

If you’ve been a regular reader of START To Downsize, you’ll know that effective downsizing will provide you with three important commodities:

  • Money

  • Energy

  • Time

Of the three, I consider time to be the most amazing benefit of downsizing.

 My husband and I have worked together most all of the thirty years we’ve been married, and being self-employed meant we worked a lot – a lot of long days, nights, weekends and many, many holidays.

All that time spent working meant we didn’t have much time for each other or ourselves, and that was one of the main reasons we decided to downsize, simplify, streamline and organize.

Having downsized, we now know exactly what we have and exactly where it is. There’s no more time wasted looking for stuff, because there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place.

Finally.  What a relief.

We still work together, but now we have time to do other things.

What kind of things?  Actually, anything we want.

Yesterday we went to the beach.

We were there for a little over an hour:

Anna Maria Beach Photos 026a

…watching the shore birds find their supper…

Anna Maria Beach Photos 007a…checking out the day’s sand sculptures…

Anna Maria Beach Photos 049a …carefully investigating a fallen sea grape leaf buried in the sand…

 Anna Maria Beach Photos 044a…and watching the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

What a lovely hour we spent together, time which we will remember forever, time which we quite probably wouldn’t have had without the decision we made to downsize our lives, keeping only what we needed, what we would use and what we loved.

I completely understand that not everyone can pick up and move half a continent away, but everyone can downsize; everyone can simplify, streamline and organize their lives to include only what they need, what they will use and what they love, so that there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place.

As you look at your life, are you ready to START To Downsize? Are you ready to experience ‘The Most Amazing Benefit of Downsizing’? What’s holding you back? Or have you already begun or completed your downsizing journey? Tell your story in Comments below.

Kate

DIY Artwork for Under 2 Bucks

Anna Maria & Wildewood Springs pictures 011b

We’ve moved into a larger rental condo in SW Florida and I needed artwork. Using what I had, I created DIY Artwork for Under 2 Bucks apiece, my kind of price.

It all started a year ago while browsing garage sales. I came across a pair of gallery-wrapped pictures which were so ugly I couldn’t photograph them.

I paid 50 cents for both and I was only interested in their size, 18”x24”, as I knew I could make something good from them.

I immediately painted over the artwork with some off-white wall paint left over from another project, just to neutralize the canvases. After that, they sat, waiting for their transformation.

I have spent the last six weeks putting together our new (to us), larger rental condo in SW Florida, which includes a good-sized master bedroom:

 417 pictures 008a

As you can see, the far wall is big and blank, begging for something to occupy it.

We had just been out to Anna Maria Island, a barrier island between the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida mainland, where we took lots of pictures of the beach and its surroundings, including a boardwalk…

 Anna Maria & Wildewood Springs pictures 011a

 …leading to the Gulf of Mexico:

Anna Maria & Wildewood Springs pictures 012a

I had seen several DIY art ideas on Pinterest using engineered prints from Staples. According to the Staples website, engineered prints are designed for blueprints or CAD drawings and are not suitable for photographs. But, since I’d already seen others who had successfully created engineered prints using photos, I decided to give it a try.

I uploaded the two chosen color photos to the Staples site, selected the size and photo orientation for each engineered print, then ordered them, designating store pick-up, since it was located nearby.

The 18”x24” engineered prints were $1.69 apiece and were ready for pick up in less than an hour after ordering.

Engineered prints are only available in black and white, which worked with my bedroom color scheme and I was really excited to mount the prints on my canvases.

To prep the canvases, I protected my work surface with an old towel and propped up each one on a couple of sanding sponges:

 Black and white photo art 001a

I then used some leftover black paint to cover the edges of each canvas, as well as an inch in from the edge on the faces of both pieces and let the paint dry completely:

Black and white photo art 003a

 Black and white photo art 004a

Once the paint was dry, it was time to prep the engineered prints. My prints came with a very small white edge around all four sides, which I didn’t need or want, so I just cut it off with a pair of scissors.

The paper used to make the engineered print is very thin, so ModPodge shouldn’t be used, as it makes the paper too wet and soggy.

Since I already had spray adhesive from a previous project, I decided to use that:

Black and white photo art 005a

This particular spray is repositionable, but dries permanent, making it really easy to use.

We held each print in position with sanding sponges protected in zippered plastic bags:

Black and white photo art 008a

We sprayed the print with the blocks in place. Once the print was sprayed, we removed the blocks and sprayed the corners.

We put a new towel on the work surface (so as not to expose the finished side of the print to adhesive overspray), on which we put the prepped canvas. Working together, each holding an end of the print, we carefully lowered the print to the canvas, aligning the edges and smoothing it to the surface, working out any air bubbles with our hands and a wallpaper smoother, which we already owned:

 wallpaper smoother

 Image

If you don’t have a wallpaper smoother, just go over the print carefully with your hands, working out bubbles from the center to the edges as you find them. Since the spray adhesive is repositionable, you should have enough time to get the job done before it dries completely.

Here are the finished pictures on the wall of our bedroom:

Black and white photo art 012a

Black and white photo art 010a

I will say that the pictures could be bigger, since the wall is so large, but for the price, under 2 bucks each, they’re just fine.

You certainly don’t have to use canvases as a base for your prints, but that’s what I had , so that’s what I used.

Other options would be MDF, plywood or foam sheet insulation, all cut to size and prepped as described above.

If you’re using foam sheet insulation as a base, be sure to use a spray adhesive specifically designed for foam (as most spray adhesives will melt foam), such as:

spray adhesive for foam

Image

I had such fun making this DIY Artwork Under 2 Bucks! Have you used engineered prints to make your own artwork? What other methods have you used for DIY art? Share your experiences or questions in Comments below!

Kate

ps – Unless otherwise indicated, all the photos in this post were taken by me.  Feel free to contact me, if you’re interested in using any of them. K

How Safe are your Collectibles from Losing their Value?

Charlene's collectibles 051a

Are you a collector? Have you added to your collection believing your items will increase in value over time, providing you with a nice little nest egg in the future?

But, really, how safe are your collectibles from losing their value?

In a recent article in the Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), Penny Simonson, a longtime Spokane antique dealer, was quoted as saying , in her opinion, the value of all collectibles is directly related to supply and demand.

Generally, items from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s are hot now,” she said.

Similarly, according to Joe Morabito, owner of Main Street Toys (www.mainstreettoys.com) in Minneapolis since 1989, the high-demand toys change over the years, but the phenomenon remains the same.

As each generation thinks back on the good times they had as youngsters and gets to the point where, hopefully, they have some discretionary income, they want to buy those good memories back,” he said.

What changes with each generation is the type of toys. I used to get a lot of requests for cast-iron toys [which remained popular through the 1940s], but I don’t get those anymore. Now it’s the guy who remembers the Tonka toy he opened on Christmas morning.”

Tonka truckImage

As a downsizing expert, I routinely work with clients who need to edit their belongings in order to move to a smaller residence.

One such client, an elderly widow, asked me to help her consolidate her belongings and assist with her move to a home in Florida. In order to accomplish that task, we had to go through her belongings and keep only what she needed, loved and would use.

We began by addressing the stacks of unpacked boxes in her basement storage area.

As we worked our way through the piles, I came across half a dozen large boxes with “Plates” scrawled on them in black marker.

I learned she had collected an enormous variety of decorative plates, all with “certificates of authenticity”.

In addition to the plates, she had also collected the coordinating decorative birds, butterflies and flowers, all with their respective “authentication” papers.

She and I had already filled a large display cabinet curated with the best of her collectibles:

Charlene's Herman Miller cabinet 003a

and another with her Dresden collection:

Charlene's collectibles 048a

 I asked if perhaps her daughter or daughters-in-law might enjoy having some (or all) of the remaining plates, but she refused to consider letting them go.

 I suggested we try to sell them on eBay or craigslist, but she told me she had paid too much for them to let them go for the pittance they would get when sold.

 My client told me that when she was preparing to move from her long-time family home to her current town home, she had an appraiser come to give her an idea of what her collectibles were worth.

His opinion was that they were only worth what someone was willing to pay for them, which was probably little to nothing, he said, since her collectibles were no longer in fashion and there was no market for them.

She had too much supply with too little demand, resulting in no value for her collectibles.

The plates were eventually packed in the moving truck and hauled cross-country to her new home in Florida, where they now reside on shelves in the garage, the only space available for them.

When she realized there truly was no space for them in her new, smaller Florida home, she wished she had just given them to her family or simply brought them to a thrift store, if no one wanted them.

Like my elderly client, who bought her collectibles during the 1980s and 1990s, she and tens of thousands of others her age are now trying to dispose of their excess belongings, as their children have little to no interest in acquiring their parents’ collections.

Internet auction sites have made it easy to see what prices collectibles are truly garnering and the proliferation of thrift stores and consignment stores have cut the value of many collectibles.

The result? A surfeit of supply and a dearth of demand.

So, how safe are your collectibles from losing their value?

Check the ‘completed auctions’ link on eBay to see what prices collectibles similar to yours are actually getting. Cruise through craigslist offerings for an idea of what people are asking for their collectible items.

 Collectible plates on craigslist for $6 each

The plate, above, was one of a lot of 53 offered for sale on a recent craiglist ad. All the plates were in their original packaging with their “certificates of authenticity”. They were being offered for $6 each or best offer, far less than their original $49 per plate price tag.

If you are uncertain as to the value of your collectible items, I recommend you hire an appraiser to give you an unbiased report on your items, so you know where you stand financially.

My advice to all my clients, young and old, is to buy only what they truly need, love madly and will be certain to use frequently. By applying these three criteria to every purchase, anyone can learn how to live well with less.

Do you, or someone you know, have collectibles that have lost their value? Increased their value? Share your story in Comments!

 Kate

ps – Unless otherwise indicated, I took all the photos shown above.

K.

Why START To Downsize? Have Less. Do More. Be More.

lol have less

Recently my husband and I organized and ran a garage sale for an elderly friend who wants to list her townhome for sale very soon. The townhome association only allows the residents to have one garage sale per year, which is always the last Saturday in April.

Our friend was still at her winter home in Florida and wouldn’t be back to her northern townhome until mid-May.

Since we know her very well and with her permission, we went through her home, culling items we knew she no longer wanted.

When we were unsure whether to keep or sell something, we texted her pictures of the pieces in question.

She looked at the pictures and called us with her answer. She told us what to sell and asked us to set some things aside so she and I could go through them together when she got back from Florida.

It proved to be a very effective system.

She told us to price everything to sell. She knew the sale wasn’t going to be a big money generator, it was more an opportunity for her to get rid of her excess stuff.

Some of the stuff she’d been managing, storing, packing, moving and unpacking for years:

  • 100+ Beanie Babies (not the investment she’d hoped they’d be)

  • 25+ Santa Bears (bought for her daughter who HAD to have each new year’s offering by a local department store, only to tire of them as she grew older)

  • endless miscellaneous coffee mugs

  • innumerable partial sets of stemware, glassware, silverware, cookware, dinnerware and knives

  • plastic cutlery, hot and cold beverage cups, countless napkins, both paper and fabric varieties

  • armloads of small electric appliances

  • plastic containers (aka Tupperware)

  • decorative placemats, pillows, afghans, doilies

  • assorted vases and floral containers

  • decorative ceramic pieces she’d painted and fired over the years

  • bags and bags of craft supplies for craft projects she no longer did

  • sporting equipment, including duck decoys (she didn’t hunt)

  • an extra dining table and chairs (her entertaining days are over)

  • various pieces of furniture from her previous home (all kept in her townhome’s unfinished basement storage space, since there was no room to use them anywhere)

  • old, HEAVY tube TVs

  • carpet remnants from several remodels past

What took us two weeks to sort, set up and price was sold in just 4 hours.

How much did we bring in?

After expenses, we netted $247 for our friend.

She used the money to buy a new storm door for her front door, a great use of the proceeds.

As she and I went through the decision-making process of what to keep and what to sell, she realized a few things:

  • It became clear just how much stuff she wasn’t currently using and would very likely never use again

  • Everything was taking up a lot of space (she had bought half a dozen storage shelves on which to keep the stuff)

  • She was completely uninterested in continuing to maintain everything as she had

When she gets back in a couple of weeks, we’ll take a few days to go through everything she asked us to set aside.

I know she’ll offer some things to her kids, grandkids and close friends, sell some stuff on craigslist, keep what she really loves, needs and will use, and give away whatever’s left.

She realizes that life isn’t about stuff; life is about relationships, memories and experiences.

She wants to have less, do more, be more.

How about you?

Where are you on the START To Downsize continuum?

Ready to have less, do more, be more?

Please share your thoughts in Comments.

Kate

Image Source

ps:  Check out Ron Whitaker’s blog, Boomer Bazaar, for his take on having less, doing more, being more.

Decorative Words – ‘S’ is for ‘Sofa’

Resting on the Couch

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Looking to buy a new sofa, but don’t know where to start?  You’ll be a sofa expert after reading ‘Decorative Words – ‘S’ is for ‘Sofa’, where you’ll learn how to choose the right sofa frame, understand the different sofa arm, cushion, leg and skirt options, and see the most popular sofa styles.

The key to a long-lasting sofa starts with a quality frame, which should have the following characteristics:

couch cutawayImage

Kiln-dried hardwood frame

  • A frame made from a softer wood, such as pine, will have a greater tendency to warp and may contain knots, which can split, crack or break.
  • When shopping for a sofa, be sure to ‘check under the hood’, which simply means to feel the underside of the sofa’s frame. It should be at least 1” thick; anything thinner will probably not hold up under the wear and tear of everyday use.

Solid construction and joinery

  • If you’re shopping for a new sofa, ask your salesperson to show you the manufacturer’s cut-away frame sample of the sofa you’re considering.
  • The best frame components are made with mortise and tenon or double-doweled joints, both of which are strong and will resist separation.
  • Be sure to ask if the joints were glued and if corners were reinforced with blocks, which will further help the piece’s structural integrity. Frames which have been screwed together can be acceptable, but steer clear of those frames which have been stapled together.
  • Finally, take a look at the sofa’s feet. The best sofas have integrated feet, rather than those that simply screw into the frame.
  • Have your salesperson lift one front corner of your chosen sofa at least six inches off the floor. Look to see if the other front corner is being lifted at the same time. If not, the frame is not strong enough to support the sofa over the long haul; it’s time to look for a better sofa choice.

The right springs –

  • The best sofas seats have 8-way, hand-tied springs, providing long-lasting, comfortable support.
  • Sinuous-springs (‘S’-shaped springs) are most often found in a sofa’s back, but are used for seat support in lesser quality sofas. Be sure to ask your salesperson what type of springs are in the sofa you’re considering.

Cushion filling -

  • The best cushion filling is down, which is extremely comfortable, but can require frequent plumping to keep the sofa looking its best.
  • A very commonly-used cushion filling is Dacron-covered foam cushion cores.
  • Don’t be afraid to lift the cushions of the sofa you’re considering; if they are heavy, they either are down or a down-blend, or are made of high-density foam and Dacron.
  • Be wary of sofa cushions that are sewn to the inside back of the sofa; this is a sign of questionable quality. Over time, sewn-on cushions can tear away from the inside back, resulting in a ruined sofa.

When looking for a new sofa, not only should you think about a sofa’s arm, cushion, leg or skirt styles, but also the seating depth that will fit the primary user(s), and the sofa’s primary function; i.e. TV, reading, napping, lounging, etc.

  • Sofa ARM options:

Sofa arm styles

 

 Image

  •  Sofa BACK cushion options:

Sofa cushion options

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  • Sofa SEAT cushion options:
  1. Tight seat: This is a firmer, more tailored seat with no loose cushions. It is often used in settees and more formal, wood-framed sofas.
  2. Single cushion or ‘bench’ seat: A single cushion has a crisp appearance that can still be downy and comfortable. Make sure the manufacturer clips a single cushion seat into rings secured to the frame, which will eliminate the cushion from popping up on one end when someone sits down on the other.
  3. Cushioned seat: The seat has two or three loose cushions, which may be firmer than back cushions. Covers can be removed for dry-cleaning. T-cushion seats are designed to wrap in front of set-back arms.
  •  Sofa LEG and SKIRT options:

Sofa leg and skirt options

 Image

  1. Skirted sofas are generally softer and more traditional in appearance.
  2. Skirts can be detailed with kick pleats, inverted pleats, button pleats, or box pleats, across the front or at the corners only.
  3. Some sofas have ‘waterfall’ skirts that drop straight from the seat cushion, resulting in a cleaner, more tailored appearance.
  4. Exposed legs can be square or tapered, giving them a more modern look.
  5. Exposed legs can be turned and/or on castors or cabriole (curved), giving them a more classic, traditional look.
  • Sofa CUSHION DEPTH options:

Sofa seating depth options

Image

  1. Use a classic depth if the primary user is short in stature and/or the sofa will be not receive much use.
  2. Use the luxury depth if the primary user is taller and/or the sofa will be used for napping, lounging or sleeping.
  3. Use the European depth if the primary user is very tall.  Add in decorative throw pillows to provide more back support for shorter users.

The 10 Most Popular Sofa Styles:

1. Chesterfield Sofa

Red Chesterfield SofaImage

This sofa, named after the 19th-century British Earl of Chesterfield, is characterized by high roll panel arms, tufted back and a tight tufted seat and exposed, turned legs, as seen here.

Generally speaking, Chesterfield sofas are upholstered in leather, but can be covered with fabric and have no tufting. A Chesterfield usually has a very traditional sofa appearance, but, depending on its styling, can be at home in a modern setting as well.

The Chesterfield sofa, shown above, is made by The Original Sofa Company in England, and prices for an 80”, 3-seat sofa range from $2850 to $12,000, depending on the manner in which it is made.

If you really want a Chesterfield sofa, but a new one simply isn’t in the budget, check out eBay, consignment stores, or craigslist, where I recently found two well-priced Chesterfield options, seen below:

The first option is a vintage 1930s skirted Chesterfield sofa, which is 70” long, covered in velvet, has a single-cushion or ‘bench’ seat, pleated roll arms and is available on craigslist for $450.

Chesterfield sofa covered in velvet from craigslist for $450

The second option is this pair of Italian leather Chesterfield loveseats, with 2-cushion seats, and turned legs offered at $450 for both, also on craigslist:

Chesterfield loveseats Italian $450

2. Camel Back Sofa

Camel Back Sofa

Image

The Camel Back sofa, first made in the 18th century by Thomas Chippendale, is characterized by a serpentine or humped back, high rolled arms, often a tight seat, and can be skirted or have exposed legs and stretchers.  Depending on styling, a camel-back sofa can run the gamut from traditional to modern.

The Camel Back sofa, seen above, is offered online at $1,181, discounted from a retail price of $2,022.

If you’re looking for a well-priced, well-made Camel Back sofa, turn to the used furniture market, where I found two excellent choices on craigslist.

For a more casual Camel Back sofa, consider this large gingham-checked piece:

Camel back sofa in gingham check for $75

This Camel Back sofa would be perfect in a beach home, as well as in a modern rustic home. It is a 3-cushion sofa, with Kaylyn roll arms, exposed legs and stretcher, and the large navy and white checked upholstery is on-point with the Americana trend so popular today.

The best part? The astoundingly low price of $75!

If your décor runs to the more traditional and you are willing to spend a bit more for a sensational Camel Back sofa, you absolutely can’t go wrong with this 104” sofa, seen below:

Camel back sofa by Swaim $10000 for $2200

Traditionally tailored in butterscotch velvet, this high-end designer Camel Back sofa features a tight back, with multiple knife-edge throw pillows, pleated roll arms, a 3-cushion seat, and a skirted bottom. It originally retailed for $10,000 and is currently being offered for $2200, an absolute steal at that price!

3. English or Club Sofa

English arm sofa by www.designconnected.com slash category slash sofas slash Classic-English-Sofa_p1197Image

The history behind an English or Club Sofa can be traced back to the private clubs found in Britain.

An English or Club sofa is one which has slightly rounded English, arms set back from the front of the seat, often with a tight, slightly rolled back, no skirt, and low, turned legs, often on castors. The 96” sofa, shown above, is made by Baker Furniture.

Love the English sofa look but not a high-end price tag? Once again, I suggest looking to the used furniture marketplace.  I found on craigslist an English sofa, made by Restoration Hardware, upholstered in natural Belgian linen, 96” long, seen below:

English arm sofa by restoration hardware

This sofa features English arms, box back cushions, ‘T’ seat cushions, and turned, castered legs.  It’s just one year old and is offered for $850 – deeply discounted from the $3115 retail price!

I found another nice-looking 84”, neutral upholstered English sofa, seen below, on craigslist for $1199.  It has a tight back, three T-cushion seat, English arms, and turned legs on casters:

English arm sofa on craigslist for $1199

4. Knole Sofa

Knole Sofa SmallImage

Which is it, Knoll or Knole? As it turns out, it’s both.

First made in the early to mid-17th-century for Knoll House in West Kent, England, Knole sofas quickly became a classic of English country houses and their popularity continues today.

A Knole sofa features a straight, high back and angled arms that can be adjusted to open out or stand up straight, designed to control chilly drafts so prevalent in old English manor homes.

The arms of a Knole sofa were originally hinged or completely detachable, to make the piece more easily movable. The back and arms traditionally connect with finials wrapped in cords.

Depending on styling, a Knole sofa can be extremely traditional or quite modern.

Knole sofas can be expensive, so for those who are more budget-minded but still want the great look and quality of a Knole sofa, keep an eye on the used furniture market, including eBay, for these pieces, where you can find discounted Knole sofas similar to the one seen here:

Knolw sofa, was $8550, now $2895 on ebay, 95 in long with velvet, batik and leather fabrics

This custom 95” Knole sofa features a kick-pleated skirt, cut velvet upholstery, medallion damask pillows and a leather-topped tight seat. Originally $8550, I found it on eBay at a ‘Buy it Now” price of $2895.

For those of you who are looking for a Knole sofa with some Hollywood Regency glam, you’ll find it in a pair of custom 94”, 2-cushion Knole sofas, each with knife-edge back cushions, bolsters and bullion fringe skirts. I found them on craigslist, for $450 each :

Pair of 94 inch Knole sofas on craigslist for $450 each, feather back

5. Lawson Sofa

lawson sofa by calvin klein_crop

 

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A Lawson-style sofa has a low, squarish back and arms lower than the back, a good height for napping.  The arms can be square (track) or rolled.

The original Lawson sofa was created for Thomas W. Lawson (1857-1925), a Boston financier.  He liked his furniture to be modern and comfortable, so the sofa designed for him was overstuffed and layered with pillows.

As a young man, Lawson started out as a clerk for a stockbroker, from whom he learned the business and amassed a fortune, although sometimes by dubious means.  At one point, he was forced to sell his estate and furniture to cover debts, forever connecting his name to this particular sofa style.

Lawson sofas can be found quite readily in the used-furniture market, so be sure to comb through craigslist, etc., if you’re looking for a well-priced alternative to paying retail.

This 2-over-2 (2 back cushions over 2 seat cushions) 94” gray corduroy Lawson sofa, seen below, features knife-edged back cushions, track arms and flat-block feet. I found it on craigslist for $400:

Lawson sofa on craigslist for $400

The 3-over-3, gray tweed Lawson sofa, seen below, has a box-cushion back, architectural angled feet, and is being offered on craigslist for $425:

Lawson sofa on craigslist for $425

6. Tuxedo Sofa

Tuxedo sofa from 1st dibs for $2500Image

In a Tuxedo sofa, the arms are as high, or nearly as high, as the back. It usually has fairly clean lines with straight or slightly flared arms. Some people find a lower arm more comfortable for resting, but with the right pillows, a Tuxedo sofa can be very cozy.

The Tuxedo sofa, shown above, is an 83”, vintage 1960s piece with a (3-over-1) bench seat, track arms, and wood legs, and has been recently restored. I found it on 1st Dibs for $2500.

The new, 81”, 2-over-2 Tuxedo sofa, shown below, is from Williams Sonoma Home and is available on eBay for $1999.99, discounted from a $3000 retail price. This sofa has been discontinued from Williams Sonoma, so here’s your chance to have a well-built, well-priced, eco-friendly Tuxedo sofa:

Tuxedo sofa from ebay $2000 was $3000 from Williams Sonoma Home

 

 

 

Image

According to the seller’s listing:

“This piece was built according to Williams Sonoma Green Collection standards. The frame is made from kiln-dried sustainably-harvested hardwood, built with mortise-and-tenon joinery, and reinforced with double-dowels and corner blocks. Sinuous steel seat and back supports are sprung by hand. Slim tuxedo arms flank wide, deep seats. Seat cushions have high-resiliency foam cores with up to 10% soy-based materials, wrapped in our premium down blend. It is upholstered in a champagne-colored faux suede.”

Why not bring the simple clean lines of a Tuxedo sofa into your outdoor living space? This 73”, 2-seat sofa features a rattan frame and washable terry-cloth-covered cushions, track arms, and flat, block feet:

Tuxedo sofa indoor outdoor from craigslist $200 with terry cloth washable cushion covers

This piece has a classic look that won’t ever go out of style. The neutral cushions  make it extremely versatile and will provide some easy-care outdoor seating. I found it on craigslist for $200.

7.  Cabriole Sofa -

cabriole sofa by www.belfortfurniture.com slash Item.aspxquestionmarkItemID=98978801ampersandItemNum=1839-40Image

Cabriole is a French word meaning ‘curved’ or ‘curving’. A Cabriole sofa is based on a 18th-century Louis XV design.

In the example, above, the back curves into the Kaylyn roll arms in one continuous line. A Cabriole sofa usually, but not always, has a tight seat, wood trim and carved wood legs that may be curved as well. The example shown here is a more contemporary version of a classic Cabriole sofa, which would have more downswept, curvy arms.

Variations of the Cabriole sofa can be seen below:

Cabriole sofa by www.blisshomeanddesign.com slash FURNITURE slash Sofa slash Maison-Sora-Natural-Oak-with Natural-Linen.html question markglid=Clzw-KzXs7UCFa9aMgodn for $3565Image

This Cabriole sofa has a distinct French influence and features a single-cushion seat. A tight back is softened with knife-edge back cushions, providing custom back support options. The curved legs repeat the Cabriole statement.

Another Cabriole sofa is shown below:

Cabriole sofa by artfact.com slash auction-lot slash federal-cabriole-sofa-raised-on-square-tapered-mo-1-c-247ce76112Image

This sleek Cabriole sofa has a tight seat and back, gently curving Kaylyn roll arms, exposed tapered wood legs, as well as a completely neutral upholstery, giving you the opportunity to customize it with decorative pillows.

8. Bridgewater Sofa -

Bridgewater sofa by shopad.net slash account slash item_zoom.php question mark AID-lewismittman ampersand id=210694 ampersand p=1

Image

A Bridgewater sofa has low, English arms, a cushioned back, a T-cushion seat, and a classic, elegant profile.  It is most often skirted and sometimes has a softly rolled back.

A Bridgewater sofa has a timeless look and, depending on its upholstery, works well with almost any furniture style.

Many times, a Bridgewater sofa features a slipcover, which can be removed and washed.

Bridgewater sofa by hickory chairImage

The Bridgewater sofa, by Hickory Chair, shown above, features a waterfall skirt, English arms, T-cushion seats, and knife-edge back cushions.

9.  Mid-Century Modern -

midcentury-modern-sofa from design.careerpathblog.com slash wp-content slash uploads slash 2012 slash 07 midcentury-modern-sofa

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A Mid-Century Modern sofa has straight lines, with track arms, often a tight back, cushioned seat and a very streamlined form, with low, tapered legs.

Mid Century Modern Sofa on craigslist for 850

From craigslist, here is a 96”, vintage 1950s Mid-Century Modern sofa with a tight back, bench seat, track arms, and tapered wood legs, all in its original neutral upholstery, available for $850.

Another Mid-Century Modern sofa find on craigslist:

Mid century modern sofa on craigslist for 600 in chicago 85 in long four years old from crate and barrel 1600 newOriginally from Crate and Barrel, this 85″ sofa has a 2-cushion seat and back, track arms and tapered, wood legs.  It is available for $600, down from the original $1600 purchase price.

10.  Sectional Sofa -

Jaymar Brasilia sectional

 

Image

 

A sectional sofa is technically modular seating, assembled from components that can include armless sofas, end and corner units, ottomans, and sometimes even recliners, sleep sofas, or chaises.  Its appearance is usually clean-lined and modern, but be found in all furniture styles.

The leather sectional, seen above, is by Jaymar, very well known for their extremely comfortable seating.  If comfort is a high priority but you want to keep costs down, keep a lookout on craigslist, etc.,  for Jaymar pieces; they last forever and are a great value.

sectional from allmodern.com 2999

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The sectional sofa, seen above, has a tight seat, loose-cushion back, track arms and sleek metal legs. It is available online for $2999.

I found a very well-priced, quality-made sectional on craigslist by Rowe, seen below:

Sectional sofa by Rowe was 4000, now 600

This sectional features sock roll arms, box back and seat cushions, flat block feet, and an upholstered-to-floor base.

It sold originally for $4000, but is now available for $600 or best offer.

I found this piece on craiglist in SW Florida. Like so much of the furniture found on craigslist from that area, the sectional comes from a vacation home and was lightly used a few months a year, for just a couple of years.  Clearly it is in great condition and the price makes it a very good value.  Where else can you get so much quality seating for just $600?

Now that you’ve read ‘Decorative Words – ‘S’ is for ‘Sofa’, what sofa style are you most interested in?  If you’ve just purchased a sofa, please share how and where you found the perfect piece for your home.  Have more questions or comments?  Feel free to leave them in ‘Comments’ below!

Kate

How Close Are You To Falling Off Your Own Fiscal Cliff?

Looking over a cliff

Recently a fellow I know lost his well-paying job and couldn’t make his house payment, as he had no savings. What about you? How close are you to falling off your own fiscal cliff?

I began this blog, START To Downsize, to help people learn how to live well with less. Having less stuff to manage allows them to have more money, time and energy to spend on the really important things in life.

This man and his family have already sold one of their vehicles, a gas-guzzling behemoth, and contacted their mortgage company to work out a plan to defer their house payments for several months.

He’s looking for another job, but there aren’t too many comparable jobs where he lives, so relocating to another city or state may be in their future.

He is now receiving unemployment benefits of $225 per week, barely enough to keep his family in groceries.

With his education and work experience, how did he end up in this position?

The answer is easy: he didn’t plan ahead.

How many of us have planned ahead?

Unfortunately, very few.

Where do we start in order to avoid falling off our own fiscal cliff?

We start by changing our behavior toward money-management.

For the fellow in my example, he and his family are between a rock and a hard place, and the sad reality is that they will all have to pay the price for the choices they have made.

For the rest of us, today is the day and now is the time to change our behavior toward our money-management.

Follow the 8 steps listed below to get on the road to learning to live well with less:

1. Meet as a family and explain that everyone will be involved in learning new habits in money-management

Family

  • Talking about the subject de-mystifies it and gives everyone in the family the incentive to work together toward a common goal.
  • Get over the idea that you always have to have the latest and greatest this or that.

 

2. Set up and follow a budget – It’s not glamorous, but it is practical.

budget

  • Pay your fixed expenses first, like rent/house payment, utilities, phone, etc., to make sure you have a place to live.
  • Cut unnecessary expenses, like Netflix, eating out, buying new clothes, season tickets, a second (or third) vehicle, etc.

 

3. Allow a certain amount of ‘fun’ money each time you get paid-

Close-up of a young woman blowing bubbles

  •  Give yourself (or your family) a modest amount of money to spend as you (or they) wish, but when it’s gone, it’s gone until the next payday.
  • You’ll find yourself discovering creative ways to make the most of your ‘fun’ money.

 

4. Begin to build a $1000 emergency fund – Each time you are paid, set aside 5-10% (or whatever you can afford) until you have your emergency fund fully established.

Help in an emergency

  • Building your emergency fund could take a while, but stick with it until you have the entire $1000.
  • Don’t touch your emergency fund unless it’s a real emergency.

  • If you have to use your emergency fund (for an emergency only), be sure to replenish it as quickly as possible.

 

5. Stop using your credit cards and begin to pay them off -

Cut up credit cards

  • Using a credit card to earn rewards points is not enough reason to have it, if you carry a balance from month to month.  Pay off your credit cards and refuse to carry a balance on them. That way you are not making the credit card companies any richer.
  • Make minimum payments on all your cards, but make a larger payment on the card with the smallest balance.

  • When the smallest balance has been paid off, use the money freed up from that one to attack the next card and so forth, until you have them all paid off.

  • This, too, may take a while, depending on your balances, but just focus on paying off one card at a time and you’ll soon begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

6. Begin to build a 6-12 month reserve of living expenses – If the fellow in our example had 6-12 months of living expenses in savings, he and his family wouldn’t be experiencing such a dire situation.

Living expenses

  • Start building this fund only after you have your entire emergency fund in place.
  • Set up a separate savings account for this money.

  • Each time you are paid, deposit 5-10% (or what you can afford) toward the ultimate goal of 6-12 months of living expenses.

  • Once you have paid off your credit cards, add the amount you were directing to credit cards to the money you are putting toward your 6-12 month living expense reserve, until it is fully funded.

7. Get into the habit of saving up to buy what you want and paying for it with cash -

Handful of Paper Money

  • This applies to every member of the family over 5 years of age. Having to have the cash in hand to purchase an item teaches discipline and the benefits of delayed gratification.
  • When buying with cash, don’t be afraid to ask the seller if they offer a cash discount. Oftentimes they do, because they realize that cash is king.

8. Buy used, when possible -

Garage Sale

  • This applies to cars, furniture, household items, clothing, etc. Make use of craigslist , consignment stores, garage sales, etc., for great bargains on these highly-depreciable items.

My husband and I incorporated these money-management ideas into our lives over four years ago and it didn’t take long for these saving habits to become automatic. We no longer dread a unexpected car repair bill or other unplanned event, because we know there’s money available in our emergency fund.

We no longer make car payments or have a car lease. We pay cash for a good, used car and make sure to maintain it well. We put a lot of miles on our vehicle, so it doesn’t make sense for us to buy a new car.

The last used car we bought had 169,000 miles on it and is in great shape after 1.5 years and 60,000 more miles. We don’t expect to have to buy another car for the foreseeable future, but if we do, we have the money in savings to pay cash for what we need.

We have edited our wardrobe down to just what we actually wear and only replace items as they wear out.

We furnished our condo using (mostly) craigslist and it has been a lovely place in which to live.

We find that having less stuff is a big relief. There is so much less we have to clean, sort through, move and manage, which gives us time to enjoy each other and our lives together.

 In the words of C. S. Lewis:

“Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.”

I encourage you to use the money-management ideas found above, so you need not wonder ‘How Close Are You To Falling Off Your Own Fiscal Cliff?’

Have other money-management questions? Or perhaps you have money-wise ideas you’d care to share. Feel free to use the Comments area below.

 Kate

 

Source of all images