(n.) Cabindo: A condo on a lake, among tall old trees. Half cabin, half condo. My first home. This is a running journal of the renovations, projects, and general shoestring budget craziness.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Monday, September 30, 2013

The Entertainment Center Has Landed

Craigslist did me a solid and finally produced an antique, mid-century modern dresser in shabby enough condition to be given away for free.
I drove all the way from NoVa to Capitol Hill on a Nationals game day to get it: and it is worth every bad word that flew out of my mouth on 395 (you DC people will know what I mean). Ie. its the $hit.

Let me back up and regale you with the 5 other possible entertainment centers I went through first.

1. The large and in charge wardrobe that got sold on Craigslist.
- Too big and underutilized.

2. The tall red bedside table.
- Goes much better in the bedroom, from whence it came. Good fill-in during the search.

3. The long glass console table.
- Glass top and gold-tone bamboo legs. Really pretty and on-trend. Wide as a boat and has never found a good home over 9 months of floating from wall to wall in the living room. Am giving to a friend, hopefully. I can't seem to get her to take it home though, so if anyone wants it; let me know.

Up against the wall.

4. The pressed wood n 'metal' 90's special.
- The picture looked great and the people were too nice for me to change my mind on once I saw it in person. It went straight from the car to the curb. Luckily, it was kept out of the dump by a fellow Craigslist stalker.

Said curb alert post 5 minutes after I got back home.

5. The night stand with clean-ish lines.
-It was ok, but underwhelming. I stared at this one for a week and contemplated how I could redo it, but was not sold and curbed it the second I secured the mid-century piece.

Pardon the awesome Craigslist posting photo. 


Then, enter this beautiful mid-century modern dresser:

Hey you, yeah you sitting on Craigslist 'free' page. Where you been all my life?

I love the peg legs, rounded edges, integrated wooden handles, and overall simplicity. It's classic mid-century, without being overwrought or too big for my living room.
While it's beautiful as a dresser, it's form, size, and # of drawers lends well to being converted into an entertainment center.

It was being given away by a really nice British lady, who's tenants had left a bunch of furniture when they moved out. It looked a bit rough, but I think thats how I was lucky enough to get it for nada.

The 'made it free' finish was dirty, dingy, scratched, and stained.

In my excitement, I'd already sanded one side here.

I started sanding with an 80 grit sandpaper on a corner to see what the wood underneath looked like, and was instantly rewarded.


I completely sanded the whole thing twice (80 then 120 grit).

I believe it is maple.
Whatever it is; it's grain is much better than, say barley.
Har, har. Terrible 'joke', I know.

The grain of the wood popped out and was beeeeautiful. Theres plenty of dark and mid tone wood in my dining room, so I decided not to stain this piece at all. A thin layer semi-gloss of polycrylic was instantly absorbed by the thirsty old wood. Dry; it is just barely glossy in the sunlight and manages to look both antique and modern. Which clearly, is my thing.

big change in the wood

The details of the piece were even prettier once it shed the old opaque finish.

Ahhh. Those handles were a PAIN but so worth it.

As for how it became an awesome entertainment center as opposed to a beautiful dresser: just remove a drawer.
I did finish all the drawers together though, so that if I want to use it as a dresser one day, the whole thing will match.

With the top drawer gone, theres plenty of room to put in cable box, dvd player, internet modem, remotes, wires, random junk, a sleepy cat, DVD's, an elf, etc. Ya know, just the basics.

The simplicity of the dresser's form helps it to not be overwhelmed by the various stuff in the top space. Placing it perpendicular to a window also helps, as without direct sunlight into the top space, all the stuff stays shady and visually recedes.

Now to figure out how to hide those cords on the wall.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Recent Projects - from the Land Where Nothing Ever Gets Finished

As is pretty clear: new posts have been MIA lately.
I blame a lack of time, a bad habit of not finishing projects, and my constant failing to take some damn pictures of the things I do get done!
Below are a few of the projects I've been working on recently, in no particular order.
As I get my $h!+ together and finish them up, I'll post a rundown on each.

  • Mounted my TV on the wall.
  • - Getting rid of the massive entertainment center and putting the tv up on the wall has totally changed the living room.

Makes my living room hotel-sexy.

  • Worked on screening in the back porches.
  • - Started on this in the spring, and when it got hot outside I got lazy. 
    - Came back to it his week and discovered a roadblock I'll have to overcome with a bit of rework. But, progress is being made.

Patio progress. Catio creation.

  • Reupholstered 3 old office chairs for use in the dining room.
  • - Related pattern (chevrons) and color (pinks!).

$5 each, and now all sassy.

- And made a bunch of coordinating pillows.

Modeled by the glamour-puss.

  • Customized and hung a new dining room light.
  • - Changed my original plan from this post, but the result is close.

Real pictures to follow.

This was an exercise in patience and high # sandpaper.
I cant' wait to be finished and show you more. It's crazy gorgeous.

  • Picked up a couch and two chairs from Craigslist and skinned them for their leather.
  • - Then washed and conditioned the heck out of it.
    - Then made a purse out of said leather.

Lots of oiling. And shooing away cats who wanted to lick up ze oil.

  • Received a used OTR microwave from the BF's parents to replace my broken one.
  • - Pictured below is die kaputt maschine. Mounting is in progress for the new-to-me zapper.

Best looking appliance when I moved in: only one that totally didn't work.
'Best' being SUPER relative.

  • Mounted my grandfather's antique tools.
  • - For display and ease of use.
    - Progress has gone at the same (snail's) pace as setting up the office/second bedroom.

Aaah. Love, love, love this project.
More to come!

  • Relined an antique humpback trunk from my grandmother.
  • - Removed the old lining and blitz cleaned 40 years of dried mold. During which; the house smelled kind of good, in a granny's-basement sort of way.

Creative fabric manipulation 101.

  • Played florist and created all the flowers for a friend's event.
  • - Tons of happy flowers to honor the passing of her beloved aunt.

10 arrangements, 2 Xl altar pieces, and a 24' broken heart.

  • Found and shined up some old silver pieces.
  • - Sunday afternoon thrift store browsing.
    $20 in my pocket got me both of these AND a bangin smoothie. #winning

A good deal + a little elbow grease = not-so-shabby chic accent pieces.

  • Turned a retired firefighter coat into a throw pillow cover.
  • Will be a wedding present for a fellow firefighter, made from his old coat.

The most ridiculously complicated 'easy' project ever.

  • Made a fuse box cover.
  • - Out of leftover paint chips from picking my wall colors.

For an ugly eye-level fuse box.

  • And spent some quality time with my favorite furry guy.
  • - Like all good animals, anytime his person is on the floor for more than 10 seconds(dining room chair upholstering, in this case); it means PLAYTIME NOW.

He managed to get himself stuck in a bag handle and dealt with it by flopping over and looking cute.
Good call, actually.

One of these days I will find the missing hardware, cut the last piece, install the whatever, take a picture, or write a post about each of these projects. In the meantime, they are already improving The Cabindo, half-finished states and all. 

At the end of a recent post, John from Young House Love touched on being content with a home in-progress. I'm accepting that more and more, and it helps that most of my big projects are to the point that I don't have multiple construction zones 24/7. Home feels like home when I get there, rather than a to-do list. Theres still plenty to tackle, but I'll get there eventually.
My wallet surely appreciates the lul. Though it feels too long since I've last seen my buddy Mary at the Home Depot paint counter.....


Friday, September 13, 2013

Quick Gallery Wall to Bring Together a Room

I've been taking a little time off project and post wise.
Work has been SUPER busy, along with a log jam of other commitments over the past couple weeks.

I love being busy, but I've needed to decompress when home rather than start new home projects, or even finish any of the 10+ ongoing ones. My place is cleaner than normal though, as I've been tidying up rather than building impressive and dynamic messes.
Buy mostly, I've been taking a stab at relaxing.

the closest I will come to being a Lil Wayne fan

Something I did do over the weekend was rehang a bunch of art in my living room to create a gallery wall. The pieces previously there were hung when the room arrangement was different.

Before at Thanksgiving.
With old furniture arrangement. And big bro.

Absolutely no piece of furniture is currently in the same place as above, and so the picture placement no longer made sense.

I gathered up all the art I wanted hung that was lying around in different rooms, and set it all out in front of the wall on which it would go.
I tried to evenly distribute the the art across the wall, by varying landscape vs. portrait orientation pieces, as well as picture content (naked peoples, landscapes, flowers, abstracts).
There are all sorts of tutorials about using paper or tape or toothpaste to measure out exacting measurements for gallery walls.


Breaking form, I used no precise method and continued to rely on those good ol' eyeballs.
Lots of picture hooks and hammer swings later: the room looks settled and sensical.

Yeah, I'll be working on doing better panoramas.
It just has not fit into lasagna time yet.

This room has had about 5 different furniture arrangements, and this one feels like home....finally.
The gallery seals the deal, as it's made up of favorite pieces of mine done in various mediums: pastel, water color, pencil, paint, and cut paper.

bottom shot taken post-wine

The gap in the middle on the bottom is for Mr.Beans the cat, who often looks artfully perched while enjoying a favorite view of his kingdom.

Another good free project, using what was already had.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I struggled with what to write. 

I wasn't planning on writing a September 11th post, but it's really been affecting me today. Watching the eyewitness accounts from firefighters and 9/11 footage being shown tonight is overwhelming. 
The sounds of the PASS alarms from motionless firefighters in the background of all the videos are heartwrenching.
I'm a firefighter and feel strongly those bonds and the shared sorrow of 9/11.
Had I been there, I hope I would have been strong enough to do my duty and climb into the towers.

The horror and fear of being in New York that day is unimaginable.
I wasn't there. I was a senior in high school a couple miles outside of DC, home sick from school. My mom called home in a panic and told me what was going on soon after the Pentagon was hit. Not knowing what to do, I went to school. Driving down Rt.66 on my way there; I saw fighter jets screaming by overhead, following the road straight towards downtown to provide air cover. I felt numb watching the towers fall.  

2,977 people were killed on 9/11. 
343 firefighters among them.
As is said in the fire service: 'Rest easy brothers. We've got it from here.'

I can only hope to live up to their selflessness and service.

Life is too short. Go tell someone you love them.

- Lindsay

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Quick Refinishing of Old Chairs

One can never have enough seating. Who knows when 20 people might be over and all need to sit at the same time? Perhaps someone will have a toast or a speech? (My brother is particularly good at this mid-party)
Some people may be on the porch or squooshed together 4-on-a-3-seater-couch: but they will all be sat.
It's good to be the king have chairs.
I am of the mindset that they don't need to match, just to each be interesting and work with the other chairs in the room. To this point; I have revived many a lonely chair and added it to my living/dining/office/bed room.

My basic steps for quick and easy (1 hour or less) refinishing are as follows:

1. Scrub the bejeezus out of it.
- It may be in better shape under 30 years of dirt/tar than you thought, and can possibly stop here.
Also, nobody likes surprise spiders.

2. Tighten screws or otherwise shore up any wiggles/structural integrity issues.
- We drink enough wine in my house and don't need any help being unsteady.

3. Remove anything that rhymes with 'schmynul'.
- I've tried vinyl paint with NO success. Just get rid of it. 

4. Use Restore a Finish to renew all wood surfaces.
- Do this outside only and scrub hard. Start with steel wool and finish with a gentile paper towel wipe over the surface in the direction of the grain.
- I like leaving wood unpainted and beautiful. It doesn't age the piece if it is in good condition and any reupholstery is modern enough to elevate it out of grandma's basement.

$9 at Home Depot

 5. Fix or hide any cosmetically damaged parts.
- A favorite way to do this is to paint any damaged areas black (bilaterally), if it makes sense to do so. This masks the damaged area while sometimes highlighting a section of architectural interest. (see pic below for good example) 

6. Recover the seat with a modern fabric to bring the whole thing up to date.
- Just flip and staple on the new fabric.
- Scotch guard BEFORE reattaching cushion. Otherwise, you'll leave a snotty looking film on the wood that's less than a joy to remove.

All things done here: refinished wood, painted damaged caning, bright modern fabric.

I've seen this type of chair everywhere recently for hundreds of dollars a piece,
but this was a freebee from a former roommate who lacked vision/chair hording tendencies.
Advantage=hoarder Lindsay

As you can see in the background above, there is a black chair with a seat covered in floral mustardy fabric, which picks up on the tones and pattern of the chair in the foreground.
The background chair got painted all black because it was not beautiful old hardwood, but the black paint ties in with the painted caning on the front chair, and makes the two pieces live easily together in the same space.

Using similar style and technique on various pieces gives them an air of consistency, as was seen in an earlier post about restoring an antique arts and crafts chair.

So even though I love me some patterns; I stick to common colors and themes and thus the pieces relate to each other.
I also strive to give each patterned statement chair enough breathing room, and keep all other large fabric swaths in the area solid and calm (couches, ottomans, etc in dark blues or greys), so no one has any visual seizures and each fancy piece can stand out instead of compete.