Little projects around my house

Posted on Sun, 8 Sep 2013 by KiM

I didn’t really know what to blog today and since there are a couple of new little projects around my house I thought I would just share that today (a sad day I might add – we’re heading to my sister’s cottage with the family to help close it up for the winter). Aside from the cat house and new paint job on my desk, I did more painting and some fabric dying which I had never attempted before. Fabric dying was quite the experience. Since I don’t have a big laundry sink I’m grateful to have a backyard with half dead grass where I could make a mess without harming anything. I have had a very large piece of white linen in my fabric stash for several years that I have been dying (pun intended) to do something with. I decided I would use a piece of it for a curtain over my desk and another for a seat cushion for a chair in my bedroom. So off to the fabric store for some black dye. All they had was ‘black velvet’ which I assumed meant a light black. I tested a couple of strips of fabric – one bundled up tight and wrapped in rope, and the other I dipped right in. 

I opted for bundling up the fabric and wrapping it because I wanted it to look really odd with faded parts. Unfortunately not knowing what the frig I was doing, I bundled it too tight and there were too many light spots, and the fabric didn’t turn out dark enough. So I had to do it all over again. 

After a second bath in the black dye the result was perfect! Much more subtle and dark but not too black. While I was at it I added all of my vintage doilies that I had dyed dark grey a while back but they turned out too blue. 

After washing and hanging them to dry, I balled up the fabric and left it like that for a while because I LOVE the look of wrinkled linen. 

In reality the lighter parts are not as bright as in the photo above. It turned out pretty awesome. My doilies are still fairly blue. Ah well. I have wanted to stitch them together into a table runner for ages but never got around to it. 

It was a rainy day today, and the added fun of trying to photograph towards a window made for kind of crappy photos but you get the idea of how the curtain looks. 

Next project. I have a vintage bamboo-like chair that I had painted Chinese red and used in my dressing room a while ago. Since I redid that room it has been in a corner of my bedroom and I had been wanting to paint it flat black. 

It is one of my favourite chairs as it is surprisingly comfy. And the cats love it so that is one less animal on the bed at night. It looks SO much better black. And since I can’t sew I just tucked the fabric around the old seat cushion, and grabbed an accent pillow from my linen closet. 

I had to snap a couple quick photos of my living room today for an interview so I thought I’d randomly share them too. 

When you don’t have room for a liquor cabinet…

Our next project is converting the back room, formerly my office, into a pantry. The room is an addition, essentially added on top of a deck so it is freezing cold in the winter and raccoons live under it in the summer. It is the perfect pantry space and coat closet since we have no closets on the main floor. The space is awkward as it’s square but the previous owners added a fairly large powder room to be used by someone wheelchair-bound. This means the room is annoyingly L-shaped. Coats hang on one wall by the back door and where my desk was we want to make into a storage wall. (These photos are several years old).

I never got around to painting that little ramp into the room after my kitchen reno so I woul like to finally get that done. And we will do something with the hideous bathroom as I have not done anything to it since moving in. My husband was talking about building shelving for the ‘pantry’ himself but I think he is now leaning towards buying cheap Ikea shelving. Whatever works! I want something we can take down and reuse when we get around to wrecking this house. Right now we have some metro shelving and other random storage pieces in there for extra food and small appliances and it’s been great but I can’t wait to have proper storage. Photos to come when we’re done!

Tonia says:

I have collections of white fabrics and dyes and have been wanting to dye but tooooooo afraid I'd make a mess or something would go wrong. I loved how yours turned out. Thanks so much for sharing.

Lisa says:

Love the linen. You did good. Black dye is tricky. I have tried it and ended up with PURPLE. Although it was a nice deep aubergine, which I liked, it wasn't black.

Wow, it looks nice with the dyied, can't wait to see that table runner. The chair looks great too, much better with the black color!!


Åsa, Gothenburg says:

Great work! The chair with the fabric turned out fantastic!

Annie says:

Love the curtain – it looks fantastic – as does your house. Thanks for sharing!.

KiM says:

Thanks everyone!

Jetonne says:

Your post is great. Just like any painter learning to mix their own blacks, anyone who's ever tried to dye something black knows black is tricky. Tricky doesn't have to mean difficult though. Black dye just has different "rules" than other colors. If one doesn't know the rules, one can't follow them. The first rule is quadruple the dye, and double the salt. If you don't do at least that, you end up with some version of gray. (Alas, black is already the most expensive dye, and so dyeing anything black is very expensive. But – like mixing your own black paint – it's worthwhile if you want control of the result.) The dark gray result you got is a really beautiful rich complex gray. Which means that if gave it another shot, using the same dye, you'd get a beautiful rich complex black.

It's also worth noting that blacks have a range of undertones, just like all other colors do. Warm brown blacks, purple blacks, cool blue blacks, greenish blacks, and so on. Anyone who's ever tried to buy something black to match something else black they already own knows what I mean. It's disappointing to spend all that effort and money, and end up with a completely different tone of black than you wanted. So make sure the dye you start with has the tone you want.

There are some good tutorials here:

KiM says:

Thanks for the tips Jetonne! Maybe I'll try my doilies a FOURTH time. 🙂

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