Category Archives: Decorating Projects

Our Apartment Redecoration Project Part III: Bathroom

The last bit of our Apartment Redecoration Project that I want to share is the bathroom (we did the bedroom, too, but it’s hard to get pictures that show the changes, so you’ll just have to believe that it has improved).

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As you can see, a lot of the bathroom is finished with pink tile (and a matching tub, who thought that was a good idea?) and unfortunately that was something we couldn’t change. But Mr. Q had the idea to put in a floating floor of tile-look laminate over the old pink tile floor with the grungy grout that you can see below. It’s semi-permanent–something we can remove when we move out if necessary.

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Laying the grey/brown floating floor over the pink tile.

In addition to that project, which involved a lot of sawing of pieces and patterning around the toilet, we also: re-caulked the join between the tub and shower tiles, put up a new shower curtain rod and shower curtain hangers, hung a floating shelf over the toilet, replaced the light fixture, replaced the medicine cabinet, replaced the outlet cover, painted the walls, and tried to replace the fan in the ceiling (that idea was foiled by the way it was installed–the fan base was bigger than the fan blade area, we think it was installed before the ceiling was put in). Oh, and I reorganized everything under the sink and added storage solutions to make better use of the space.

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Wall in progress: clearly there is no light fixture, medicine cabinet, or outlet cover, and we were preparing to paint, all by the light of a work lamp.

There was a day or two when the power was cut off to that room so Mr. Q could deal with the electrical stuff and we were showering and working on the bathroom by the light of a hanging work light… a bit of an inconvenience but not the end of the world.

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In the end, all the work paid off and the bathroom looks a lot nicer and less pink. And all in all, our apartment looks more put together and designed than it did before. I’m also pleased that the furniture we jettisoned from the living room and bedroom found it’s way to a new home within ten minutes of being put in the lobby with a “free” sign! We’ve had our days of taking advantage of free things in the lobby and I’m glad someone else will be able to make use of the things we no longer need rather than just throwing serviceable and nicely cared for things in the trash. We received, we give… I appreciate the circle of sharing!

Our Apartment Redecoration Project Part II: Pillows

The new couches that sparked our apartment redecoration project also came with four feather pillows. They were rather squashed and sad when we received them, but I decided to give them a fluffing and make new covers for them to accent our newly decorated room. (After all, feather pillows are quite nice and there was no sense in discarding them.)

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Our recently redecorated living room.

It was a challenge to find fabric that would match the colors of our room, was a design we both liked, and was not $40/yard. At the very last store I went to I found three fat quarters with this fairytale tree design for about $1.50 each.

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I scoured the store looking for more but to no avail. What to do with four pillows and only three pieces of fabric? Also, the fat quarters weren’t quite big enough to cover the entire front of the pillows…

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Luckily, I had an off-white cotton in the stash that perfectly matched the background of the fat quarters. I used it to make the backs of the pillows, including the bit that wraps around to the front and makes those bars top and bottom. For the fourth pillow, I made a cover entirely out of the solid fabric. It lives on our red circle chair, where it is a nice contrast. And the off-white looks fine with the white couches, since there are other off-white things in the room, like the walls, which are large! And really, our two seater couch would have been overwhelmed with two patterned pillows anyway. These 22″ pillows are not small! It worked out perfectly!

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Inside a pillow cover. I serged all the seams, because serging is fun, and easy!

I followed this tutorial to make my pillow covers, adjusting for the extra seams I needed to add to use my fat quarters. I also flat lined all the pillow covers with muslin to help keep the feathers from poking through, to provide opacity, and to help disguise the seam allowance from the fat quarter seams. I love that this style cover does not require closures and is easy to remove if necessary. We love that the pillows give an interesting spark to the room, jazzing up our couches a bit with their non-solid fabric.

Our Apartment Redecoration Project Part I: Living Room

I mentioned a few posts back how busy I was. Things have mostly settled down, our redecoration is complete, and now I have time to share pictures!

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The redecoration project was rather unplanned. It all started because we were gifted two very nice couches. When Mr. Q suggested that we take the couches I will admit that I was dubious. Our purple Ikea couch has supported us well over the last few years and I didn’t know if the new ones would be that much nicer. But they are much nicer… higher quality foam stands up much better to use over time and deeper cushions are just more comfortable–there’s more space to tuck your legs up on the couch or surround yourself with blankets and pillows!

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Our before and after pictures aren’t quite at the same angle, but you get the idea. The dining area didn’t change a whole lot, so I didn’t feel it needed to take up as much space in the picture. You can see that we’ve gained furniture and “stuff” over the last three or so years (and that before picture was very early on, but I thought we’d go for the most drama in terms of change).

Those white couches you see came to us with country-farm style red covers on them. It was the right sort of color but not at all the right style for our modern jewel tone living room. After lots of stressing about the potential of having to recover the new couches, I realized that the shape of them wasn’t much different than our ikea couch. And that led us to Ikea-hack covers for our new couches.

We bought 3 white cotton twill Ektorp couch covers (a 3 seater, a 2 seater, and one extra 3 seater for extra fabric), chopped them up as needed so they could expand to fit the new couches, then chopped up the extra fabric cover to fill in the gaps, and finally sewed all the unusual seams to create a new couch cover that would fit. It’s not a beginner level sewing project, but it’s certainly do-able if you have an idea of draping and are creative about problem solving how to expand a couch cover to fit a larger couch than it was intended for. I think this will all be easier to show in pictures.

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Thankfully, the cushion covers fit our new couch cushions pretty perfectly! (Mr. Q notes that he wouldn’t say “perfectly” but maybe “with some coaxing.”) The foam is a little stuffed in, but it was so much better than having to make the cushion covers from scratch. The prospect of doing it from scratch was just overwhelming!

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Here’s our new 2 seater couch with the chopped up Ikea cover on it. You can see that there is a significant gap between the pieces along the seat seam and around the back of the arms.

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But that’s why we purchased an extra cover, so that I could chop it up and piece it in where needed. I’ve got my sewing tools out: seam ripper, snips, pins, sewing measuring tape, tool-type measuring tape, sharp fabric scissors, more pins, pencil, and a ruler. And you can see that I was in the process of measuring out a section to piece in.

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It’s very clear in this picture that the ikea cover was not deep enough for the new couch. So we have a seam that runs over the arm of each couch and down the side, but with the cushions on you really don’t see them at all.

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It’s hard to see in the last picture, but I also had to adjust the top corner of the cover on the 2 seater couch. The Ikea covers have darts along the back that you can just make out in this picture (I’ve unpicked them), but the back of this couch was shorter than the cover (odd, because the 3 seater fit perfectly). So I needed to reposition the darts differently for this couch.

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I also needed to take in the center seat section on the 2 seater couch. It was between 1″-2″ too wide and looked sloppy. I made a fuss but decided to take it in the right way, on the seams between the seat and the arm section, and I’m glad I did, because you can’t tell at all on the finished couch that I had to do that alteration.

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Now on to the 3 seater couch. It needed the same addition for depth that the 2 seater did. You can see that I’ve sewn the addition to the bottom seat section but haven’t sewn it to the top/back yet. I had to do some interesting piecing over the arm, which is what I’m doing in this photo.

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Here’s another view after I’ve attached that depth extender to the seat/back and am working on the seams to piece in the weird bit over the arm of the couch. If you look closely you will see that there are actually two oddly shaped pieces near my hands.

It was a long Saturday of shopping at Ikea and sewing until late into the night. Mr. Q doesn’t have the sewing skills to help with that part but he was engaged the entire time in positive encouragement and occasionally seam ripping or other assigned jobs.  He also put all of the cushion covers on while I was madly seam ripping and taking large white bundles to my sewing table.

I didn’t take the time to nicely serge or finish the new seams. We actually had to wash the 2 seater cover one day after finishing it (oops! but at least the stain came right out along with the wrinkles!) and the seam allowances frayed as you would expect, but not enough to cause any alarm. So I’m not worried about it. There was also nice velcro on the old red cover that held the cover to the couch under the curve of the arms and also along the back seat area. We kept the velcro but didn’t get around to sewing it on. I think it would be nice under the arms, but I’m not inclined to do it anytime soon. The bit along the back doesn’t seem to have made a difference–our new cover stays in place without a problem.

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Ta da! Finished ikea-hack couch covers, with all new pillows and throws (that make such a fuzzy mess on our white couches… we definitely did not think that one through!).