Archive for February, 2010
Ok, so you might think we’re crazy, but we always thought the sheepskin rugs that Ikea sold (especially the super cheap small sized ones that we always grab) were faux. Well, we recently had one of those duh moments when we noticed that the materials weren’t listed as acrylic or some other fabric and instead read: 100% sheepskin. Oops. We should have known- after all, they’re a Swedish company- but for some reason we always saw $99 sheepskin rugs and assumed those were the real ones and that the cheap $25 Ikea ones just had to be man made.
Now we know the faux or real sheepskin decision is an extremely personal choice (just like wearing fur, eating meat, wearing leather, etc) so this post isn’t about judging or debating that issue (to each his own!) it’s just about a faux sheepskin DIY project that we took on so we could happily pass our Ikea sheepskins on to a relative who promised to give them a happy home. It suddenly just felt weird to see Burger laying on the one that we had draped over the sofa but we didn’t want them to end up in a landfill (so handing them off to someone who would appreciate them seemed like the best thing to do). We actually took on two different faux sheepskin projects, so this post will detail one of them while the one this afternoon will detail our second adventure in faux sheepskin making (hence the “part 1″ mention in this post’s title). Let the fun begin…
First, we hit up a few stores in search of a super wooly shag rug on the cheap. We hit the jackpot at Marshall’s where we found a large 4 x 6-ish version for $39. We knew we could get at least two faux sheepskins out of it (which made them under $20 each- which was actually cheaper than the affordable Ikea ones) so we snatched it right up. The tawny eggshell color was perfect and the fact that it was convincingly textured and wooly looking made it more of a “perfect fit” along with the fact that the backing wasn’t that baby-doll-head-smelling grippy rubber, it was one of those woven fabric-backed rugs that we prefer.
Then we got to work making a life-sized template to dictate our new sheepskin’s shape, so we taped a bunch of pieces of paper together to get a nicely sized “background” and pulled up the link to the real Ikea ones which we used as a guide. It was as simple as sketching out a sheepskin-ish blob on our taped-together printer paper and cutting it out with a scissors.
Oh and here’s a tip: you can fold the paper in half vertically before cutting it out and just follow the pencil line on the exposed half of your sketch while it’s folded for a perfectly symmetrical result if perfection is you middle name. I actually didn’t go that route because I figured a little asymmetry never hurt and most sheepskins aren’t perfectly even on all sides anyway.
Next we just placed our new “sheepskin” template on the back of the rug and used a thin sharpie to trace around the paper cutout which left two sheepskin sized outlines on the back of the rug:
Then we did a test cut to see what would happen to the rug when we sliced through it. Our big fear was that everything would come loose and fall out (which we thought we might be able to remedy by using white duct tape to tape around the cut-out lines on the back of the rug before snipping to hold things together at the edges). But we were pleasantly surprised that no tape or other precautions were necessary and every slice was clean and no threads came loose even when you tugged on them after cutting. So then it was as simple as cutting out both of our sheepskin outlines…
… which left us with two pretty darn amazing little faux sheepskin rugs. We love all the soft creamy texture that the shag pattern adds, and of course we love that we made them ourselves. There’s always a bit of pride when you get to mention that you DIYed something, right?
Oh and do you see that little pile of fluff under the scissors? We gave the outline of each rug a little haircut to refine the shape and make them look more polished and clean (initially the shag had flopped a few directions while we were cutting so the outline wasn’t very crisp- but a few snips around the perimeter of each of our new wooly additions really cleaned things up and emphasized our intended shape.
Now this version of our DIY sheepskin is thicker and less flimsy than our second one (which we’ll be sharing this afternoon). So it’s not as easy to “drape” over the back of a chair for example (it’s a bit more structured, like a rug would be). In short: it’s much better served as an actual sheepskin rug (ie: use it on the floor as opposed to tossing it over the back of your sofa). Oh and you can make a much larger one for a bigger area with a larger rug (or just by not making two of them from one rug) so that’s another idea. When it came to our two little ones, we did notice that one of them looked great on our square ottoman in the nursery (which required it to be a lot less flexible than thinner surfaces like the top of a soft upholstered chair or sofa) so that’s where we decided it should live:
Isn’t the shaggy texture charming? We just love how chunky and tactile it is- you really can’t walk into the room without petting it.
And Burger LOVES IT! In fact sometimes we can’t find him and he’s in there sleeping on it in the sun. Maybe he can sense that no animals were harmed in the making of it? Either way, so cute.
Our second wooly rug will probably also live in the nursery (on the ground as an actual rug) so stay tuned for those details as we continue to cobble things together in there. Oh and remember how there was an extra strip of leftover rug on one end after we cut out both of our sheepskin templates? Well it was perfect for creating a bonus little textured lumbar pillow. So not only did we get two faux sheepskins for $20 a pop, we actually got two sheepskins plus an accent pillow for $39 total. Not bad right?
All we did was take that long piece of leftover shag and trim the interior edge so it was one long rectangle. Then we “folded” it in half to create a nice loop of shaggy texture. When it came to filling our fluffy DIY pillow, we actually looked no further than a few other rug scraps- so it really is made completely from leftover rug snippings. We love that we didn’t have to buy any batting or anything- and there was practically zero waste created by our entire project since we used it all.
Now we’re sure this next step will leave a few of you shaking your heads, but we’re work-with-what-you-have people, so we actually reached for safety pins to secure the left side of our makeshift pillow (which you see me holding together in the photo above). The great thing about the rug’s incredibly dense shaggy texture is that every single pin was completely obscured but it held things nice and securely- plus it’s super poke-free and safe since they’re buried so deeply in the shaggy texture that you’d literally have to go hunting around for them to find one and then would have to apply a ton of pressure to pop one open (which can’t be done by leaning on the pillow or even whapping someone in the face with it during a pillow fight). Anyway, so we used a few safety pins to connect our loop of fabric on the side and a few more along the top and bottom seams.
As you can see from this close up, they’re placed extremely close to the base of the rug so they don’t stick up and can’t be seen, felt or accidentally opened (they’re literally buried two or three inches “beneath” the dense shaggy fabric).
So unless you’re digging through the long fibers of the rug in search of one they’re completely undetectable. Gotta love a cheap on-hand solution like that.
We’ve been using the pillow for about two weeks now in our living room and we have yet to feel any “small metal nubs” when we lean back on it. And we especially love that it was a free little bonus so if at any point we want to revise how we connected it (and remove the pins) we can- but seriously, so far so good. And we love that we used every last scrap of our rug and got a little bonus decor item out of the deal.
So that’s one take on our faux sheepskin solution. Stay tuned for this afternoon’s post where we actually hunted down fabric and made a more flexible and drapey “throw-like” version. And those were even cheaper and easier so they’re definitely an anyone-can-do-it DIY project. Well maybe not anyone; Burger refuses to help but ironically can always be found enjoying all the fruits of our labor…
Sidenote: Is it wrong that we think he’s the best looking dog in the world? Seriously, he’s a knockout isn’t he? But enough about our heartstoppingly handsome chihuahua. Have you guys ever DIYed anything from a rug or altered one in some fun hands-on way (dyed it? spray painted it? used it to “upholster” something like a cube ottoman?). We’d love to hear all about your thrilling adventures in rug-customization.
*** This giveaway is no longer accepting entries.***
Ok, so maybe you didn’t get that bit of bling you wanted for Valentine’s Day earlier this month. Here’s your chance to rectify the situation with some personalized jewelry from Lisa Leonard Designs. She even sells home decor-related pieces like necklaces with a chandelier, paper lanterns, frames and a house key on them. If those aren’t designs after our own home-loving hearts than we don’t know what is.
I’m not so good with the jewelry lingo, but word on the street (or at least from the pregnant lady standing behind me right now) is that Lisa’s hand-cut and hand-hammered sterling silver necklaces, bracelets and earrings are well-worth shouting “oooh, I love that one… and that one… and that one” in your husband’s ear. In fact, Sherry loved the earrings that Lisa sent her way so much that we recently bought a set for my little sister’s birthday. And they barely take them off (so yes, my sister and my wife are often at family events sporting matching earrings).
And if you’re having trouble picking a favorite, perhaps this will make life a bit easier: Lisa Leonard Designs is giving away TWO $100 gift certificates towards anything in her store, so our winners can snag more than one thing if they just can’t decide. Plus if you don’t win, they’re generously dishing out a discount to everyone else, so stay tuned for that along with our winner announcement on Thursday. In the meantime, here’s how to enter:
- PRIZE: A $100 credit towards anything in Lisa Leonard Design’s entire collection
- TO ENTER: Comment on this post with the words “WEAR ME” and…
- BONUS QUESTION: …tell us about something in your closet that doubles (or that you wish could double) as home decor. Do you display your purse collection for all to see? Do you swag a scarf over a hook by the door for some color? Or do you have a favorite dress whose fabric would look awesome as curtains or an accent pillow?
- GIVEAWAY CLOSES: Wednesday, February 24th at 8pm EST
- NUMBER OF WINNERS: Two
- PRIZE SHIPS: All over the globe!
- USUAL STUFF: One entry per e-mail address is permitted. The winners will be selected using random.org and announced on Thursday. Good luck!
We already talked about how much we love the Kurv (we’re not paid by them or otherwise perk’d in any way, we just truly love it) and now we’re even more excited because the day has finally come that we’ve discovered a full sized vacuum cleaner that we love just as much! Really, it sucks like a champ. And when we pair the carpet-friendly nature and the sheer power of our new addition with the super portable and wood-floor-friendly Kurv, the dust bunnies and tiny puppy hairs on our floors don’t stand a chance. Seriously, our house has never looked (or felt, because that’s important too) so clean.
We realized we needed to replace our sad excuse for a full sized vacuum known as the Dirt Devil Vibe Quick Vac (more like a leaf-blower as it actually blew out more dust than it sucked in) before the baby came, especially because it tried to kill me whenever I cleaned up during allergy season (seriously, I’m not kidding when I say that it blew things up and out into the air). It was really our fault when we decided it was a good idea to invest all of forty dollars on a vacuum cleaner. I mean what did we expect? So this time around we did some research and actually went into vacuuming shopping with a list of things we wanted:
- A HEPA filter (which helps keep allergies and other airborne pollutants at bay)
- A bagless variety (also great for allergies and simpler to operate for un-bag-coordinated people like me)
- A reasonably light-weight model (anything over 20 lbs, no matter how much power it has, is a bit much for a 5’2″ gal)
- Significantly more power than our previous model (which only boasted 8 amps)
- More settings for different jobs so it can effectively clean multiple surfaces (some area rugs in the house need extra suction while the hardwood floors need something geared for that purpose).
Your list might not be the same as ours at all (different strokes for different folks) but we highly recommend the idea of walking into any big household purchased like this with an idea of what you want from the get-go. It really helps to keep things from getting overwhelming since you can immediately whittle down all the options since they can’t all possibly meet your previously established criteria. It’s a nice little filtering method that allows you to hone in on a few models that seem to fit the bill and then you can do additional research or ask any questions about those few contenders to make the final decision.
Ladies and gentlemen, here’s what we ended up whittling down as our winner, the Bissell 82H1 Cleanview Helix Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner:
And since that name is such a mouthful, let’s just call him the newest member of our family. This guy has 12 amps of power and multiple settings (five to be exact, so you can add extra carpet suction or turn it to a more hardwood floor friendly setting). He also comes equipped with something called a Helix Dirt Separation System for deeper and more powerful cleaning. Of course he’s bagless (and has an easy-empty dirt cup) and has a HEPA filter as well. Plus he even has extra perks (like adjustable height settings and also comes with a slew of extra fittings like a TurboBrush, crevice tool, extension wand, and upholstery/dusting brush). Plus he’s just 15 lbs so he falls under my 20-or-less rule. And after reading many many customer reviews on a number of sites (thanks to our iPhone we could do that right in the store on the spot) we were confident that it was a great choice (it had over 40 five-star ratings on Amazon).
Perhaps the best news of all was the price. Our new friend happened to be on sale at Target (down from $80 to $69 just for the weekend) so although we walked into the store intending to spend around $200 for something that would last, all the high-ratings and the fact that it met and exceeded all of our previously set requirements had us feeling like we’d struck gold.
But back to my story. When I got home I broke it out on our grubbiest carpet (the yellow one in the living room was full of grime from lots of indoor-outdoor snowy-and leafy-foot traffic traffic as of late) and it seriously lifted every last bit of dust and dirt (John watched as the carpet literally got yellower and less brown before our very eyes). It looked brandy new again. Oh happy day. And it worked just as well on the hardwood floors (I got giddy when I got to change the setting from carpeting to hardwood- it felt so custom and fancy). I even took the upholstery brush for a spin on our sofa (it picked up every last hair, fleck of dust, etc).
Who knew cleaning could be fun? I was perma-smiling like a stepford wife with my new vacuum cleaner by my side. So that’s the story of our latest housecleaning weapon that I’m relieved downright psyched to have on hand before the bean arrives in May. After all, one of my resolutions this year is to simplify things and keep our house running more efficiently and easily. And this guy will definitely make cleaning stuff up much simpler than our former leaf-blower ever did. And I bet I won’t go to sleep with a runny nose every time I vacuum during allergy season anymore. Somebody stop me before I lift this machine up in the air and start singing “for he’s a jolly good fellow.”
Oh and just to be totally clear, Bissell didn’t pay us or otherwise perk us (nor did Target, Amazon or anyone else) to mention this vacuum. It’s actually the one that we researched and paid for ourselves because we thought it was the best thing since sliced bread and we wanted to share our find. So this post isn’t one big ad as much as one big weird love-fest for a new vacuum from an extremely appreciative homeowner. But let’s talk about your lean mean cleaning machines. Any other Bissell lovers out there? Any fancy Dyson peeps (I ogled the white pet-hair model for what felt like hours)? Anyone who doesn’t believe in vacuum cleaners and peacefully coexists with dustbunnies? Let’s talk about what sucks at your house.