Frugal lampshade fail

I don’t jump into DIY projects easily because I don’t like to fail. Who does?! It takes me a long time to make a decision — especially about decor as that does NOT come naturally to me. Most of the time I find something I like and copy it (like the fall wreath here). I’m OK with being a good copycat. 🙂

Recently, I had a brilliant idea all on my own. We bought new lamps for our bedroom and I decided to do something fun to change the old lamps and use them somewhere else in the house. It was a low risk project as the lamps were $1 each at a yardsale last spring including the shades.

From Drop Box

They are basic glass lamps with a basic ivory shade — not really what we want anywhere in the house. (Please excuse the messy background in the pictures. I worked on this project while the kids did their math assignments!) But we need more lamps and I don’t want to spend money buying any more when I have perfectly good ones. That means it’s time to DIY!

I decided to cover the shades with ribbon and spray paint the base. I picked up a couple of rolls of coral satin ribbon at Walmart for $2 a piece and decided to tackle the project while Kenny was out of town at a wedding.

From Drop Box

First, I dusted the shade really well with a dry cloth.

From Drop Box

Then I pulled the ribbon off the top and bottom.

From Drop Box
From Drop Box

I started wrapping the shade and it wasn’t looking spectacular like it did in my head. I quickly realized that I needed to overlap a lot at the top and only a little at the bottom since the top of the shade has a smaller diameter. One potential fail avoided! It wasn’t hard at all once I got going. I used a dot of hot glue to get me started and then another dot about every four times I wrapped around.

From Drop Box

Biggest fail? I RAN OUT OF RIBBON after covering only one third of one shade!

From Drop Box

Don’t get me wrong. I’m loving how it’s turning out. But,

1. I can’t buy more ribbon until Kenny gets home because I can’t fit all the kids in a Subaru Outback to go to Walmart

2. By the time I buy four more rolls of ribbon to finish covering the ONE SHADE, the shade re-do will cost $12!! Granted, it’s custom. But still. I could buy a new shade for less.

Oh well. Sometimes you have to fail, I guess. I’d rather fail occasionally than never try at all. Right? Tell me I’m right!

I’ll post pics of the finished lampshade after Kenny gets home and I have a chance to get to the store for more ribbon (assuming I can find more of the same color!!). And, of course, I must decide what to do with the base.

From Drop Box

I covered it in a Walmart bag in the above photo with the shade just to see what it would look like grey. Kenny thinks it looks like a Halloween lamp. That’s not what I’m going for!! Now I’m thinking ivory would look really nice with the coral. What do you think? I’m not sure I’ve got the guts to spray paint a glass lamp!!

**update: I stopped by a different Walmart last night to get more ribbon and they only had 2 rolls. The first Walmart only had 2 rolls, too! At least I live in the middle of three Super Walmarts! LOL

Fall decorating

(*another technical update: I can’t figure out how to re-size the photos on photo bucket. I’ve switched to Picasa but it’ll take a few more days to get all the photos re-sized!)

So… I pretty much fell off the Flylady wagon… again. 🙂 And I know it’s because I don’t have my routines in place well. sigh. One day I’ll get it.

Despite the fact that I haven’t been flying, my house hasn’t been too bad. It may be because Bishop Council Nedd was coming for a visit. 🙂

I’ve been loving reading decorating blogs for months now. And, of course, they are all going crazy doing fall decorating. In the past, my fall decorating has consisted of hanging a very sad wreath on the door that I made when I had my first apartment (16 years ago!!!!!) plus a few Halloween things that usually went up around October 25th.

This year I had more fun. 🙂

I tried to keep costs low although I did spend a little.

Here’s the mantle:

I had all the candle holders and the orange candle. The pumpkins we picked up at the Apple Orchard. I found the grapevine pumpkin in the dollar bin at Target a couple of weeks ago (it was actually $2.50) and the black pillar is actually a tall basket I found on clearance for $2 at Michaels. The main splurge was the awesome wooden owl. I dashed in Kohl’s one day before the Bishop came looking for some new placemats. I saw the owls on clearance for 40% off but I didn’t get one. I was being good and not spending money I didn’t need to spend. But I couldn’t quit thinking about it. The next day I was out with John and Jesse and Sophia and we dashed in super quick and grabbed an owl. It was about $11 and worth it because I love it. I smile every time I pass the hearth.

The Target dollar bins were a treasure trove the day I was in there. In addition to the grapevine pumpkins they had tea light lanterns for $2.50 each. I put one on the piano…

Photobucket(that’s it on the far right)

and one on a side table by the couch.


The awesome hanging pumpkin tea light thingy came from Kohl’s clearance rack last year:


The final step was to do something about the awful 16 year old wreath. I don’t have a picture of it, but picture a straw wreath with fall leaves wrapped loosely around and a couple of fake pumpkins glued on with a hot glue gun and half falling off. The only redeeming quality was a nice bow that my sister made for me that was tied on the bottom. I saw a tutorial on Thrifty Decor Chick on how to do a simple pumpkin wreath. Being somewhat creatively challenged, I pretty much copied her wreath as closely as I could.


Here’s a shot of the whole front porch. I got the hay bale at Walmart for $5.97, and Kenny got the pumpkins for me for $3.88 each.


Quick funny story: Kenny liked the wreath so much that he volunteered me to make another one for the church to raffle off at a Fall Festival. (YIKES!! Did I mention I’m creatively challanged?!) One lady from church gave me a strand of fall leaves, and I pretty much bought the same stuff I bought before. Here’s how the church one turned out:


Before I put it up, Jesse saw it and helped himself to some “fruit”:


I exchanged it and kept the “special” pumpkin for my own wreath. I crack up every time I see it!!

Have you all had any fun with fall decorating? I still need to get out my jack-o-lantern before Halloween!

Let’s talk about that little table

Remember this table?


Some of you asked me the story behind it when I mentioned that I’d like to refinish it. We actually bought it at our church’s yard sale when Abe was two years old. We hadn’t been in Montgomery very long and I bought it to use as a school table as I was planning to do at least pre-school at home with Abe. It had $40 on it but it didn’t sell. At the end of the yard sale they let me take it home for $20. The couple that donated it were members of our church. The husband passed away a few years later. He and Kenny were close and so the table became very special to us as it reminded us of dear friends. It is one of very few pieces of furniture we decided to load on to the moving van to New York. I was tempted to get rid of it due to it’s condition. I never really took care of it. It was used as a kid table for ten years and that fact was painfully obvious. But Kenny couldn’t bear to part with it. I thought maybe one day if we had the money we could take it somewhere and have it re-done. In the mean time I just put a big doilie on it. Doilie’s cover many sins. 🙂

As you may have guessed, I got on a major DIY kick when I got to New York. I’m not sure what did it. Maybe painting my bedroom back in Alabama right before we moved. Or maybe that I started watching as many HGTV shows online that I had time to watch!

I decided I could do something to make our sad table feel a little better. It couldn’t be that hard as I really only needed to refinish the top. I knew it wouldn’t be perfect but anything would be better than the way it was.


I ran into problems at the very beginning of the project. In my lifetime, I’ve sanded one thing — the little yellow dresser. It was so easy to sand. Just swish swish swish and I was pretty much done. It was all raw wood after all. I thought the table couldn’t be much harder as obviously the existing finish was worn away.

I was wrong.

I sanded and sanded with my sandpaper. I used 220 grit because that’s what I had. I sanded until the sandpaper became hot and nearly burned my hand. The table didn’t look much different. I voiced my frustration to my better half who took over for me for a while. He sanded my more efficiently than I did but to no avail. The little table still clung to it’s finish and none of the ugly circles or stray pen marks sanded away.

Clearly I needed to invest in some power tools.

I knew exactly what I wanted. I had bought the How to Paint Furniture Guide from Altard Furniture and had read it several times. I had even looked at the power sander they recommended at Home Depot on several occasions. But to spend $30 on a power sander I might only use on one project? That didn’t seem very Davy Ramsey.

Then I had this crafty idea that men like to get power tools for Father’s Day. he he he I almost did it. Almost. But Kenny would have been about as excited about getting a power sander for Father’s Day as I would be to get a toaster for Mother’s Day. So I waited a bit longer. Finally Kenny said he wouldn’t mind owning one and it would get occasional use even if I never used it again. He even went and picked it up for me. I was so excited! I got everything ready to start and discovered that he’d picked up a battery operated model and the rechargeable battery was not included. Argh! I would’ve done that same thing. I didn’t realize there were two options!

So I waited some more until errand day came around and I could exchange it. Then I got nervous and I put the project off. I’d never used a power tool before. What if I sanded off my thumb or something? What if chunks of wood flew off into somebody’s eye?

Finally we had a free Saturday and Kenny agreed to help me out. He’d never used a power sander, either, but he’d taught himself how to use other power tools when he needed them and doesn’t have the girl phobias I have. I’m so blessed to have him around! He’s a great handyman when he wants to be. I-m-in-love

Finally we got it sanded. Sanding was fun.

I then coated it with wood conditioner so it would take the stain evenly. Oh. And before all the sanding began, I repaired a small gouge in the wood on the edge of the table. Remind me next time to get wood putty tinted the color of my stain. 😉 I bought stainable filler but it didn’t stain very well. Luckily, it’s a very small spot and not noticeable.


You see the two tone color on the table top? I was really worried about that. I did a lot of online research but was still nervous about the outcome. I tried the frog tape all the DIY blogs were talking about and carefully taped off two sections.


Then I was ready to stain! I chose Minwax clear tint base in Harvest and Latte.


When I finished it looked absolutely TERRIBLE!!!


I was so disappointed. The Latte stain wasn’t even like stain. It didn’t work at all. I loved the Harvest color, though, so I decided to sand it all down again and start over using the Harvest on the whole tabletop. Hey. At least I got to play with the power sander again.

I tried using a plastic guide to help me stay color in the lines but it didn’t help much. The stain still bled across. I’m thinking it was because it was stain and not paint.


It didn’t matter too much this time, though, since I was using the same stain color on the whole piece. I stained twice and then put three coats of polyurethane. The last step was to buff it with the buffing tool that came with the sander. It seemed to take me forever!! I waited at least a day between steps and sometimes several days depending on my schedule. I also lightly sanded between coats of poly.

It’s interested to use stain. It goes on like paint…


But then you wait a few minutes and wipe most of it off.


Here is the finished product. You can still see the two tone color although it isn’t nearly as obvious as it appears in this picture.


I polished the legs so the whole table would look good as new.


It isn’t perfect. It was really hard to get the poly just right dealing with a tabletop in four sections. I can see brush marks if I look closely. But I achieved my goal. It looks WAY better than it did before.

Here’s how it looks in the great room (although, since I took these pictures Abe and I have completely rearranged the great room again!):



Whew! That was a long post. I guess it’s fitting as it was a very involved job! Next up on the DIY front I’ll talk about Abe’s foot stool project. That one has been a bit involved as well! Stay tuned.

*The link to Altar’d furniture in this post is an affiliate link. Although I am not paid to promote them I will receive a percentage of the profit if you purchase one of their e-books.

This post is linked up to:

TDC Before and After

and Not Just a Housewife’s Show Me What Ya Got party.