Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Create Fabric Art Wall Hangings

Fabric Wall Hangings in basement media room.

This fall, we're replacing the fluorescent light fixtures throughout the basement with recessed lighting.  Having completed two rooms already, my husband moved into the TV/games room this weekend:
Installing recessed lighting led to rethinking wall art.
After viewing the room with updated lighting, I decided the artwork on the window wall needed a refresh as well.  We know we'll be painting the room eventually - I figured I'd deal with artwork then.  But, a few things caused me to address the issue sooner than later:

  • I've been looking for a way to tie the media side of the room to the gaming side of the room ( the dart board and three-in-one table are on the opposite side of the media room).
  • I found remnant upholstery fabric (from the chair recovering project) and stretcher frames (a summer garage sale find) while reorganizing my office closet this past weekend. 
  • I really dislike the artwork (I use that term loosely) currently on the wall.  We hung an old map of our island home on the wall when we moved in and never thought about it again.

It was decided.  I would create fabric art wall hangings using remnant fabric.  The project took about 45 minutes and cost me nothing - I had all the materials on hand.  Keep reading to see how I did it:

Materials needed to create fabric art wall hangings
  • Fabric - in my case, I used remnant upholstery fabric
  • Stretcher Frame - mine were 12" x 24"
  • Staple Gun and Staples
    * 3/8 or 1/4 staples are sufficient for most fabric weights.  You will need lots!
  • Scissors
  • Measuring Tape
General How-To:
  • Measure and cut fabric so that it is about 2" larger than the dimensions of the stretcher frame.
    Note: The remnant I used was a little tight on one of the frames, but I made it work.
Fabric should be about 2" wider than stretcher frame.
  • Use the staple gun to attach the fabric to the stretcher frame.
    Note:  Start in the middle of one side.  Place a staple in the middle of the remaining three sides.  As you continue to staple, alternate sides every few staples and pull fabric taut as you staple to ensure a tight fit. 
  • When you reach the corner, fold the fabric as you would wrap a present and staple it down.
    Note:  Trim off extra fabric to reduce bulk.  
Stapling the corners
  • Flip the stretcher frame over and inspect your work.  You want to make sure the fabric is taut and straight.
Wall hanging complete
I repeated these steps for the second stretcher frame.  
Ready to hang!
Side Project:  Remote Storage:  I used some additional remnant fabric and a shoe box to make a storage bin for media remotes.
Storage bin made from old shoe box and more remnant fabric
Hopefully, all these remotes make their way into the new bin, rather than in the cushions, under the sofa, etc.  A mom can dream, right?
Note:  Click the link to learn how I make the fabric-lined storage bins

Finally, I gathered up my picture hanging tools and placed the wall hangings behind the sectional.  
Project complete.
Bonus:  a new home for the remotes
This project took less than one hour - including the time spent to create the wall hangings/bin and install them.    And, it was zero cost.  Awesome results for no money.  The fabric art wall hangings look SO much better than the old artwork.  And, it really does tie the two sides of the (very long) room together.  
The fabric ties both sides of this long room together.
This project makes me even more anxious to paint the walls a warmer tone!  And maybe address the window covering.  Isn't Thanksgiving break coming up?  Hmm...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Silencing My Squeaky, Creaky Floor

Until last week, a section of my son's bedroom floor squeaked.  And it creaked.  And it even groaned.  His bedroom floor is carpeted, and the section in question is positioned exactly in front of his bed.  The floor creaked when he got in and out of bed.  It squeaked when I made the bed or tucked him in at night.  My son said he enjoyed the old house sound.  Great if the house were, indeed, historic.  But, it's not.  Those floors needed an intervention.

At some point last week, I could not take the sound any more.  When I investigated, I learned that the squeaky section of floor sits above the kitchen's tray ceiling.  Aha.  I'll bet that there is a gap at the point where the floor joists and the tray ceiling structure are secured to the sub floor.  But, what to do?  This is a carpet-covered sub floor that is located in a second floor room. I do not have access to add shims to the joists below.  I searching the Internet and, after about ten minutes, I found my solution.

I watched a video, from one of my favorite fix-it shows, that demonstrated how to use a product, Squeeeeek No More Floor Repair Kit, to fix a squeaky floor in a carpeted bedroom.  They fixed a squeaky floor in about 30 minutes using the kit and an electric screwdriver.
Squeeeeek No More parts
The kit, available via several home improvement stores and websites, includes specially designed tools that fix the floor while leaving the carpeted surface unmarred. I decided THAT is what I needed.  For less than thirty dollars, it was worth a shot.  I ordered my kit and extra screws online, and anxiously awaited its arrival.
Squeeeeek No More kit and  extra screws arrived Friday.
This past weekend, my husband and  I set aside time to silence the squeaks once and for all.  We moved the bed out of the way and began looking for joists around where the squeaks originated.  We used the included drill bit tool for this task:
Locate joists in the floor using special drill attachment.
Next, we used the tripod fixture to secure the scored screws to the joists where the floor squeaked.
Note:  The tripod fixture (included in the kit) ensures that the screw is set properly into the joist, below the floor line.
Drill screws into the joist.
We left the screws sticking out above the carpet as we went.  This helped us track progress. We were really  interested to see that the screws formed a partial curved outline of the tray ceiling below.   My investigation was right on!
Note:  Be careful where you step if you leave the screws in also.  They hurt when you step on one.
We left screws sticking out until we finished setting them all. 
After we set all the required screws, we used the tripod fixture to snap the heads of the screws off.
Note:  The screws are designed to break below the floor line.
The tripod fixture snaps head of screw below the wood of the floor.
The carpet is left unmarred and ready to walk on.  No one will ever be able to tell where we set the screws!
No evidence of the screws on the carpet.
The squeaks are officially silenced.  Really!  We used about twenty of the fifty included screws to silence the spot in front of his bed.  The rest of his floor still has some small, slight creaks, but the main, crazy-making offender is silenced.
Screw heads from screws used in this project.
 It's been a few days now - we've walked all over the section of his floor and get absolutely no creak or squeak or groan.  I love it!  I bought extra screws, so I'll have plenty should we need them in other rooms and for other creaks.  If you have squeaky or creaky carpeted floors, don't live with the headache.  Silence the squeak.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bye-Bye Jack. Hello, Fall!

I love the first of November.  I can officially say "Bye-Bye" to Halloween for another year and celebrate the fall season without all the ghoulishness.  I can put away all the decorations, costumes, etc. and mark another candy holiday off the calendar.  And, I can begin to fully appreciate the colors, smells, and sounds of fall.

We enjoyed Halloween, of course.  But, boy, am I happy it's over!  Today, I woke up with one mission in mind - pack up all the Halloween stuff and stow it away for another year.   Below are my top-five tips for storing Halloween decor:

1. Sort and Purge Each Year:
Halloween Decor Staging Area
Every year, before we pack stuff up, I put all the decor, paper goods, and costumes in a central staging area.  Then, I sort through everything.  I purge any decorations that are broken, ripped, or no longer my taste.  I pull out costumes that are outgrown, no longer able to be mended, etc.  We bag up the purged items and send them either to new homes, charity donation centers or the trash bin.  The next year, I'll know that anything I see when I pull out the storage bins are things that I love and can use

2.  Check for Batteries:
Remove batteries before storing flashlights and other decor.
My kids use orange/black flashlights on Halloween night to help them see - it get's so dark so early around here!  I make sure we remove the D batteries from the flashlights before we store them for the year.  This ensures that the flashlights will work the following year.  Nobody wants to see the acid leak from a  battery!  A few other decorations require  AA batteries - I pull those out as well.  
Note:  If you do find that an alkaline battery had an acid leak, check out this site for tips on cleaning it up

3.  Got LEGO Holiday Decorations?  Store them:
Halloween LEGO mini sets get stored between holidays
My son loves LEGO.  So, of course, we have purchased Halloween-themed mini sets over the years.  I store them in a zipper bag 11 months of the year.  We learned that this is for the best after searching high and low for a specific piece to a LEGO advent calendar two years ago.   So, while he is sad to see them go in storage, he is always thankful the following year that he does not have to go hunting through the millions of bricks for a piece.

4.  Protect your Decorations:
Ceramic pumpkin is wrapped in bubble wrap.
Small items are packed inside larger items.
It's always sad to learn a favorite holiday item broke in storage.  To avoid this, I properly protect items using bubble wrap, acid-free tissue and packing paper, etc.  To further protect small, delicate items, I pack wrapped items inside larger vessels, containers.  A lot can happen during the months between use, so if it's worth having, it's worth protecting. 

5.  Decorate with Multi-taskers:
Use decor that is appropriate all season.
Squash/gourds are inexpensive, seasonal decor - true multi-taskers.
An inexpensive tea towel became a decorative pillow
I made a decision a few years ago that any new holiday decorations must multitask.  This means I look more for seasonal decor, rather than holiday-specific decor.  
  • Use what you got:  After Halloween, most of my jack-o-lanterns can be rotated to show their pumpkin-only sides (appropriate for the rest of fall).  
  • Go Natural:  I look for natural items, such as squash, corn, and gourds, that are colorful, inexpensive, and last from September through November.  After that, I toss them at the back of the yard for composting/critter food. 
  • Re purpose:  I recycled a Halloween tea towel by making it an accent pillow.  This pillow displays a cat for October, can be turned around for November, and then hidden with a pillow cover for other holidays.
Halloween bins, re-packed and stored for next year!
And with that, Halloween is officially packed away for another year.  I figure I have about one week of sugared-up kids before they get bored with the candy.  Then, we can begin preparing for other fall/winter holidays.  Check back with me and see what I'm up to as the year finishes up.