Clean Out the Paper Clutter: Receipts

I can’t stand paper clutter. It’s the one mess that always seems to get the best of me. Dishes, clothes, food… All these things have an obvious home, but for me, paper does not. A few years ago, it was school clutter. Old assignments, essays, drafts, extra notes… I always seemed to have piles to go through. Now, it’s mail. Bills to pay, opened envelopes, flyers, pay stubs.. Ugh. All on my coffee table. It’s a constant irritation.

I need to do something about it. This is the first post of a series that I’ll focus on organizing the random bits of paper that pile up around my house. There, I’ve said it, online for all to see! Now I have no choice but to keep up with it.

Eventually, I would love something like Jen has from I Heart Organizing:

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Somewhere to put our keys, sort our mail, keep temporary notes etc. I’d love it, but I don’t want to invest in anything like that right now, and don’t have any available wall space for it, since our front entrance comes right into our kitchen.

Instead, I’ve decided to make use of the vertical space in our cupboards, and tackle an easy one first: receipts. These seem to end up at the bottom of my purse, in my wallet, stuffed up in a heap. I used to try to keep the important ones in a small underneath my jewelry (which you’ll see in my before shot of my plastic “jewelry box“) but I was never able to keep on top of it, and receipts ended up bursting out of place.

I took one of my leftover squares from a memo board I made recently, and came up with this:

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It’s a simple cork board, and I’ve designated sides for myself and for Shaun.Receipts 1

Why it works for us:

1. I keep it in the cupboard beside the front door, and right beside my purse. That way, I can easily take out the receipts I need to keep from my outing, and put them up immediately when I get home.

2. Also, because it’s beside my purse, I can quickly pick out the receipt I need to return something before heading out.

3. Since there isn’t a lot of space and the pins can only hold so many receipts at a time without falling off, I’m forced to go through my receipts periodically (instead of having them hidden away and pilling up in a drawer).

4. I attached it using these 3M refill strips:

I ADORE their products. Super easy hanging and I can easily take it down when we move (soon, fingers crossed…).

5. If ever this system doesn’t work for us in the new place, I can easily reuse the board for something different. Win-win!

Rental Wish List: What to Look for

It’s no secret that the suburbs just aren’t for me. Not at this stage in my life anyhow. (Though honestly, if I could manage, I do think I’d stay the city for years.) Shaun has conceded in moving this spring or summer, so I thought it now would be a good time to crystallize our wish list.

There are some features of a place I can’t change and and in turn just cannot live with. Location, like I said before, and light. I can make do with an old kitchen, little storage, bad paint… (Well, that one’s more of a make my ever indulgent boyfriend do!)

Though most think of a basic wishlist when looking for a place, I find it easier to break it up into level of importance: musts, hopes, and bonus points. I know I won’t find “the perfect place”. This way, I’m clearer on what I’m willing to sacrifice, and not so easily swayed in an later regretted direction.

Here is our list, with some gorgeous Pinterest shots for fun:

 

Musts:

Location location location. We want to live in a pedestrian friendly, quick to transit neighbourhood in the city of Vancouver itself. I want to be close to cute coffee shops, restaurants and shopping. (My interest in a city weighs heavily on the quality of their coffee shops. It’s Some believe it’s a bit of a problem… )

Pet friendly. Of course. For our soon-to-be-enormous bernese mountain dog.

Bali on the beach

Big enough for a portable dishwasher. (I do prefer a kitchen with a dishwasher of course, but recently I’ve discovered this is also a viable option. It opens up the limited number of available units for us.)

Parking for Shaun.

One bedroom.

Bright bright bright. Vancouver is known for it’s dark days, and I just can’t stand being indoors without an abundance of natural light.

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Hopes:

Fenced in yard space. I love having the freedom to just let Bali out the door whenever she needs to.

Easy access to the outdoors. The idea of going up and down the stairs every she needs to go out doesn’t exactly appeal to me.

Hardwood floors. Easier to clean up, take care of, less SMELLS and clearly prettier than carpet. (As an aside, don’t you just love the gallery wall in this photo?)

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Dishwasher

Closet and storage space

 

Bonus points:

Though I want to be close to transit, I’d prefer to be off a main street. Definitely not a deal breaker for us though.

In suite laundry

Fireplace

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An updated kitchen

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I’ll make sure to keep you posted on the progress, (as searching for a pet-friendly place is a time-consuming challenge!) and the (dreaded) moving process. What about you? What do you look for in a new home? What elements can’t you live without?

An Upcycled Jewelry Box

Storage is always an nearly always an issue in a rental. Even more so as a student. And a while ago, I was still using this lovely piece from Walmart for my jewellery and accessories, left over from my university days…

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Eek! As I said before, our bedroom fell to the bottom of my list of priorities. When I got along to changing it, I thought I’d like something similar, with three drawers, but maybe just a tad classier. I did not realize how expensive these things were! Take this one I pinned from Anthro for example:

Adorable, but I could hardly justify the $300 price tag! Doesn’t really look like it could store all that much either.

So I hit up my local thrift shop, and found this!

Box Before

I fell in love with the detail on the doors, so I couldn’t resist. It was a bit more of a an endeavour than I was planning to take on though… Not only did I need to paint it all, I would need to recover the inside:

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Painting:

I sanded (120 grit), primed and painted it in a fresh coat of white paint. I found using a small roller was easiest on the large sections, and a craft paint brush for the more detailed areas. To do the doors, I used a stiff craft brush and painted it like I would a stencil. I found this the best way to get into all the cracks and crevices.

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Tip: I primed and painted both the drawers and the inside of the box itself. Unfortunately, this added a thick extra layer, and the drawers can get a bit sticky. Knowing this, I would only have painted the drawers, not the inside. Time saver too!

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In terms of hardware, I unscrewed the doors and lid while painting, but I did leave the pulls on the doors and drawers. They just seemed too old and fragile to tangle with. I painted around them as best I could, and then touched up with a gold art pen. Since one of the top pulls was broken, I broke off the other and replaced them with beads.

Looks lovely from the outside, but on the inside, you’re still stuck with this unsightly and ageing orange felt. Not nearly as bad as before, and somehow the camera makes it look more flattering than in reality, but all in all, it needed to go.

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Recovering the drawers:

I used Aleene’s Fabric Tape to adhere my fabric to the felt. In using a dry adhesive, I wouldn’t have any glue seeping into my pretty new material.

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First, I measured out the amount of fabric I would need, and pushed it into the box like it would later sit.

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Then, along the fold you see me pointing to in the picture, I cut down to the bottom of the box. I did this on all four sides, so my material ended up looking like this:

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This way, I could tuck the corners behind to make a box. The shorter sides of the drawer had the excess fabric, so then I could tuck that behind the larger sections.

How to fold

I attached the bottom of the drawer first. Then, I adhered the shorter sides in place, with the ends branching over to the width of the drawer.DSC_0800

I finished the longer sides too, cutting any excess fabric if needed. I made sure to keep about half an inch at the top to tuck behind the orange felt. I pried open the top end of the felt with a basic kitchen knife, and then pushed the new fabric into place with the knife.

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To do the top section, I followed a similar process, with a bit of tweaking.

First, I removed a few of the ring “holders”, since I don’t wear many rings. I adhered one piece to cover the left and right sides of this section.

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Then, I cut a piece long enough to cover that section vertically, as well as all the ring holders. Using the tape and my knife, and pushed and adhered each section in place. Like I did with the drawers, I pried off the orange felt with my knife, and the pushed the new fabric in place.

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To cover the square sections, I adhered small square strips of fabric to cover the sides.

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Then adhered strips to the other sides and bottoms. The strips were long enough to fit all three squares and were the same width as one square.

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To finish off, I trimmed any extra thread and glued any loose sections. I added little “handles” using beads to polish off the doors (the glue was E6000 from Michaels).

Here’s the before…Box Before

… and after!

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I am thrilled with the results.  As an added bonus, the top section sorts out my jewelry so much better than plain old drawers, so I can easily find the piece I’m searching for, without having to worry about a knot of necklaces.

Completely worth the effort I put into it!

Jewelry Box Pin

Link it up!:
Weekend Bloggy Reading

A Secure Upholstered Headboard Part II

In yesterday’s post I explained how my dad and I built a headboard frame inspired by YHL (see theirs here). Now that we’ve gone over the functionality, let’s move on to the fun part! Scroll to the end of the post to see my (glee-filled!) finished project.

1. Here’s the front of my headboard. To prep for adhesive, wipe it down. (As a little side note, that blanket was used to be my puppy’s. Let me tell you, that smell, mixed with adhesive = very unpleasant!)

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2. Lay out your batting and place the headboard on top. Staple a few times on one side using a staple gun.DSC_0548

3. Flip it over. You can see here that only one side is loosely attached to the board. Next, spray adhesive, following the can’s directions, to evenly coat the board. This will prevent the batting from sagging in the future.DSC_0556

4. Flip it over again, and staple your batting in place, making sure that it is taught. DSC_0572

Here’s a photo of one of the corners. Fold it as if it were gift wrap. It can also help to cut off excess batting here to avoid lumps.DSC_0579

6. Make sure the batting adheres to the board by smoothing down with your hand. I decided not to spray the batting, but it might be helpful to do so.DSC_0582

7. While my adhesive dried outside, (I wanted to avoid the fumes of both the adhesive and the blanket indoors), I prepped my fabric.

Tip: cutting in a straight line can be tricky with so much material. To make it simpler, lay your fabric flat on an (rectangular) area rug, and line up the side with the side of the wall. This way, you’ll cut at a 90 degree angle and can use the rug as a guide for your straight line. Cut a straight line

8. Unfortunately, any upholstery fabric I’ve found comes in at 60″, so just a tad too narrow to fully cover the 5′ headboard (since I wanted to keep the stripes vertical). If this is also the case for you, here’s what to do:

Cut two identically sized panels and pin along the sides of your fabric, trying to keep as close to a straight line as possible. I used 7″ wide panels on each side to make sure I had plenty of wiggle room. (Do regular people use the word wiggle? Is this just a teacher thing?)

Here are my pins:

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Here’s what we’ll see after I sew it:DSC_0595

Sew your panels to the sides.

9. Following the same steps as you did with your batting, staple the fabric in place.

Extra staple gun tip: You need to put your body weight into stapling to keep them flush to the wood. If this is a challenge for you (as it is for me, mine tend to come out all wonky) just hammer them in a the end so you don’t damage your wall later on. DSC_0612

Here’s the front of my headboard:DSC_0620

Because it’s pulled tight, you can hardly see my seam!DSC_0621

How to hang your headboard:

Lucky for me, my indulgent bf helped me out with this one. Here’s what we he did.

1. Decide where you’d like it to be on the wall, and mark it with a pencil.

2. Measure how far your ledge (the part you’re going to hang) is from the top of your board. Use this measurement to know where to attach your ledge.

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2. Screw in one side. Use a level and screw in the other side. (As a side note, depending on how heavy your headboard is, you might need to add anchors to protect your drywall.)

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Thanks Shaun!

And… ready for it… Here’s how our bedroom looks now!DSC_0710DSC_0724Headboard

I am beyond happy with it. Just sitting on my bed feels cosier. I can’t believe it took me so long to actually do it! It looks so nice that it makes the photo above it look, well, so so. I may have to switch it out for something more dramatic…

Budget dent:

Fabric: $8 a metre (woohoo for 50% sales at Fabricland!). The sales woman advised I buy 3 meters, but I could easily of gotten away with two.

Batting: $10 (again, half off)

Wood: Free (though I’m sure buying a frame wouldn’t break the bank) To see how much you need, check out Part I of this project.

Total cost: $34 plus tax. Love!

Any projects that you’ve been putting off for a while? Anything you’ve been over-the-moon happy about when you finally got around to doing?

A Secure Upholstered Headboard- Part I

I have finally finally finally tackled my headboard! I’ve been thinking about what to do for a while… Since last summer really. I’ve been loving those rustic upcycled wood headboards, like this one from Jenny Highsmith’s blog:

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but I thought an upholstered headboard would be far better suited to my clumsy ways. (How nice will it be to hit my head at night on something padded?!)

Browsing Young House Love one day, I found my solution (see theirs here). Use a simple frame from an arts supply store. Easy!

However, since I got my love of DIY from my parents, I thought I’d see if my dad would make me one. He took my idea and ran with it. I’d love to take credit for his cleverness, but really, I never would have thought of this. He made me a much more secure frame than the vision I had in mind. Here’s what we did:

1. Build or buy your frame. You could easily start with one from an art supply store, but my dad threw one together with the spare pieces of wood he hand in his shop. For a queen size bed, 5′ x 3′ works well.

2. Cut a thin piece of plywood (this would would be about 1/8th of an inch thick?) to the width of your frame, in this case, 5′. Cut the length to a 1/2″ past your frame. If you don’t have the tools, (which I do not) I would guess that your local lumber store, like Home Hardware or Home Depot for example, would cut this to size for you. Keeping the two pieces flush on the top and on the sides, use a nail gun to nail your sheet of wood in place. This should create a “lip” on the back side of your frame.

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It’s hard to capture on camera, but you can see the shadow from the lip on the top of my frame.

3. The thing I found especially clever here is that my dad didn’t leave me to hang a frame without any support to the wall. Instead, he built this:DSC_0447

The first piece is the same thickness as the frame. The smaller piece is the same length, but slightly shorter than the first. In fact, the difference is the same as the “lip” mentioned in step 2. We will later screw this piece to the wall, and then snugly hang the frame on top. The thickness of the second smaller piece depends on the thickness of your batting. You need to allow space for the thin sheet of wood (ie the “lip” of the frame), the batting and your upholstery fabric. My batting was quite thin, so this piece of wood sufficed.

Pictures may explain the system more clearly.

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Awesome right? All we’ll need to do is screw the extra piece into the wall to hang it. Then, if we need to move it, we can simply unscrew it! Added security = less accidents for this accident-prone girl.

Here’s the back of headboard before upholstery:DSC_0452

To clarify why he added a few extra pieces:

1. We added an another sheet of the thin plywood to entirely cover the  front of the frame. This way, I will spray adhesive to the front before stapling my batting. Both of these steps will help prevent sagging in the fabric long term.

2. The second piece in the back on the bottom is just for added durability of the frame. If you bought yours, skip this step.

I am so excited to show you the reveal tomorrow! It took me ages to decide on a fabric, but I’m pleased with my choice.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this twist inspired my Young House Love.

Healing Dresser Damage


The “As Is” section at Ikea is one of my favourite stops. I’ve found a number of cheap items than end up making a great project, or just a great deal. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s the section right before the loooong check out lines, either on the right or left side of the store. It houses all their damaged products at a reduced price.

My latest find was… wait for it… the Hemnes dresser I wanted!

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A few of you may remember my mood board from last week and notice that it’s the same line, but not the same style. I measured my current dresser space in our bedroom, and it was just a touch too large for the space. Bummer. I had visions of a lovely little vanity style dresser, complete with space for my jewelry, make up and mirror! Unfortunately not meant to be.

After further reflection (and a visit to see the piece live at the store) I realized it just wouldn’t be a good investment for a rental. We go for apartment units, which are never going to be large in the city. To be space efficient, it made far more sense to get the extra storage by going vertically, not horizontally. In person, I also realized I preferred the dark wood stain as opposed to the white. It was just too reflective for me, and white already dominates the space.

However, I still wasn’t keen on the $250 price tag. Not that steep in great scheme of things, I know, but it’s still an Ikea product! I know it’s not going to stand the test of time.

Then, I found the exact one I wanted, at $180, in the As Is section! Yay! That’s over 25% savings people. Of course, there was a reason for this: it was scratched. On the top, on the drawers, on the sides… I wasn’t sure how it would look at home.

Facing the same dilemma? Keep these points in mind:

1. Stores are generally very well lit. Department stores, notably the As Is section in Ikea, uses fluorescent lights. The scratches will most likely be less noticeable at home, especially with the everything that ends up landing on your dresser (well this is at least the case with my dresser. I’m somehow constantly fighting my urge to drop things on surfaces when I get home).

2. Some marks may resemble a scratch, but in actuality is just a spill that you can wipe off at home. Check to see if you can rub some off before you buy.

3. Many scratches can be covered up with a stain marker!

See that photo up there? Our dresser didn’t always look that nice. Here’s our before photo, nicks and gouges and all.

Here’s what I used:

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Minwax Wood Finish Stain Marker

This product can be used on oak and pine. Keep in mind, that I was able to use this on this particular Ikea piece because it was made from actual wood (pine). I’ve read previously that this product wasn’t nearly as successful with imitation. This one is from Home Depot, but I’ve seen it on Amazon too.

For Ikea’s “black-brown stain” (oh so descriptive), I chose the darkest option, Ebony. There were eighteen to choose from, so I’m sure you could find a colour similar to your piece of furniture.

1. Wipe down your furniture with a damp cloth. One nick I was most worried about was this one:

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. It was in fact just remnants of a sticker, so it ended up looking like this:

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2. Use the pen to literally just draw on the scratches. Wipe off the excess stain with a cloth. I used strokes that follow the grain blend with the rest of the wood.

That’s it. It only took me about twenty minutes! Love a quick and easy project. It was completely worth it. And at an easy $180 + $7 for the pen plus tax, it’s budget friendly too. Here are some (completely unedited) before and after shots.

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You can vaguely see my drawn lines when you look closely, but from a regular distance? Totally gone!

Dresser BeforeDresser After

What about you? Have any success with a product like this? Any tips? Any other ideas fix a scratch? I’d love to hear from you!

I did not receive any compensation for this post, just wanted to share my find! These photos are completely unedited to show the improvement. 

Ikea Hack: Poang Chair Recover

I love nautical stripes. Ever since I went to Paris three years ago and saw so many Parisians sporting stripes under blazers (before we did here in Canada), I was hooked. I’m clearly not the only one, as they’re now everywhere. In this case, it’s lucky for me, because I managed to get this awesome fabric at 50% off at Ikea! $4 a metre! (To all you Americans, that’s less than 3 bucks a yard). What a deal!

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 I happily used it to recover this old thing:Before

Shaun’s brother-in-law donated it to us when we moved in together this time last year. Practical yes, but pretty it was not. I saw it’s potential. I’m not one for patterns, I just based my recover on the original. I’m all about efficiency too, so this is about as easy as I could make it for myself! It’s really just a step above making a pillow case. I included some approximate measurements of each piece, but it may not be exactly the same ones as your chair. Think of them as guidelines. Here’s how I did it:

Seat cushion:

1. Measure and cut out your sections. I used one long one for the front, and two smaller pieces for the back and the seat of the chair. Front: 53″ x 32″ Back: 27″ x 26″ Bottom: 21″ x 26″

2. Hem one width of your top panel (the 32″ side) which will end up being at the bottom of the chair. Do the same with one width of the back panel. Hem both widths of the bottom panel.

(As a side note: I did find it worth pressing the fabric before hemming it to get a nice crisp seam, even though my lazy side wasn’t a big fan of it. As a bonus, if you’re using stripes like these, it’s easy to get a straight hem: you just do it parallel to the lines.)

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Front panel 53″ x 32″

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Back panel 27″ x 26″

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Bottom panel 21″ x 26″

3.  Next, sew the back panel to the top of your unhemmed (width side again) to the top (unhemmed side of course) width of the front panel. Since the front panel is wider, make sure to leave equal amounts of the front panel on either side.

4. Because it’s a pillow, I allowed extra fabric on the top panel so that the stitch would be right along the side of the back of the chair.

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To know where to sew, just pin the two panels together, inside out, around the cushion. Then, following your pins, sew each side together (still inside out of course). This should resemble a pillow case when right side in. Sew the sides of the bottom panel right under the back panel the same way. The reason I used two panels for the back of the chair is to allow space for the cushion to bend. DSC_0373

With the hems you already put in, the chair section of your recover is just about done! You’ll notice I left quite a bit of space at the bottom of the front panel:

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 This so you can tuck that bit under the cushion. I wanted it to be easily removable, so I thought about velcro… But let’s be honest, I was too cheap and lazy to go out and buy some. Then my (future) sister-in-law told me she recovered a whole rocking chair (a whole rocking chair!) with SAFETY PINS. Done. So safety pins it is:

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I’m sure velcro would be easy to do if you wanted to be fancy.

Head rest:

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So this is definitely the harder section… Just a warning. Totally doable though!

1. Cut a panel 23″ x 27″. Hem the widths (the 27″ side). This will cover the front and back side of your head rest. These directions show you how to make a little “cap” for your chair.

2. Trace out the side of your head rest. Allowing for the seams, mine was about 6″ x 9″, but it’s best to trace out on your own because of the curve at the front of the chair. Fold in your hems and press them to keep them secure.

3. Working around the head rest, pin the sides (keeping that hem in there too) to the rectangle you cut in #1. Here’s a photo of mine with my seam and a few pins still intact:DSC_0391

4. Once you’ve pinned around both sides and you feel it’s snug enough, sew it, pattern side facing you. (This way you’ll see the stitch and the hem, like the finished photo above. I’m sure you could fiddle around with it if you wanted an invisible seam, but this seamed overly difficult to me.) You’ll essentially be sewing through three layers of fabric: the traced sides, their hem, and the rectangle. Don’t worry if it’s not tight enough: just sew it again. As you can see, I had a ton of excess fabric from trial and error, but you can’t see it once it’s on right side in.

5. Last quick step. Hem the sides of the rectangle that are still showing. This step is optional really. I was originally going to tuck the front part under the head rest cushion (like I did with the chair cushion) but I liked the way it looked just hanging down.

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And… the final product:

Before and After

Does it pass the rental test? Oh yes it does! For one, so unbelievably budget friendly: my total came to about $12, since the chair was free. It’s also completely removable. Easy to clean, and the cushion underneath is completely untouched. I can give it back to Shaun’s brother-in-law if ever he needs it or if ever the chair doesn’t work in a new place (ie: if ever we move somewhere even smaller than this and don’t have the space for it, which is always a likely possibility). Easy on your purse and temporary if need be. Perfect!

Anything you’ve recovered lately? Any great fabric deals? I’d love to hear from you!