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Since posting the results of my first foray into pelmet-making last week, I’ve been thinking about writing a post like this.  I think too often we are paralyzed by decorating fear.  We wait to make changes to our homes, because we don’t want to invest a lot of time and money in a home we’re renting, or into one we’ll be selling in just a few years.  Here’s the thing, though: this is your home.  Wherever you live now is home; why wait for someday to make home feel special?  You can do little, inexpensive things that won’t upset your landlord or cost so much that you mind leaving it behind for the next owner, if they want it.

That pelmet is proof.  It took me half a day and about $24, with the cost spread over a couple of months.  (If I’d bought all the bits and pieces without coupons, it still would have come in around $40…tres inexpensive when you’re talking custom window treatments.)  We can take it with us when we move; it will fit over any double window and will look great in a kids’ room, craft room, game room, or guest room.

There are so many other things you can do with fabric to spruce up a room.  Recover a $2 garage sale chair.  (I’ll get to it one of these days.)  Make a throw pillow.  Use your hot glue gun and a few upholstery tacks to mistreat a window.  The trick, if you’re on a super-thrifty budget, is finding the fabric for the right price.

Before you start shopping, you need to prepare your mind; know what you’re looking for.  If you have a specific project in mind, know approximately how much fabric you’ll need.  Guesstimates are fine.  (Just add a 1/2 yard, in case you’re off!)  Have an idea what colors and patterns will work in the room.  Don’t get hung up on matching the fabric with other pieces in your room.  Coordinating ≠ matching.  You may be surprised at just how many different, unmatched, colors and textures will look good together.

For example, take Jenny’s daughters’ room, which I linked to in the pelmet post:


Photo: Little Green Notebook

This is a gorgeous room.  Look a little closer…at the throw pillow the doll is leaning against.  Would you have thought a brocade pillow in that yellowy-green shade would have “gone with” the busy, jewel-toned headboard and the turquoise nightstand?  Neither would I.  But it coordinates, and beautifully!  Think beyond what you “know” about colors.  Just like every piece of furniture or wood in a room does not need to be the same color (now there’s a myth I’m eager to stamp out!), every fabric doesn’t have to have the of same color scheme.

Okay, now that I’ve thrown you for a loop, it’s time to shop.  You could do what I did – fall in love with one fabric and keep checking on it until it goes on clearance.  However, I lucked out; you might be waiting years if you go with that plan…or miss out on it completely.  Instead, I suggest keeping your options open and shopping around.

Fabric and Upholstery Stores

Obvious answer!  Remnant bins at fabric and upholstery stores can be a goldmine.  You have to dig, but end-of-bolt savings can be the answer to that perfect, affordable bit of fabric you’re looking for.

Discount Stores

Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshalls…no, they don’t sell fabric, but they sell curtains, table cloths and shower curtains – cheap!  What are curtains, table cloths and shower curtains made of?

Fabric!  In the same vein, check out the clearance aisles at places like Target and Ikea.

Thrift Stores

Yep, you can find fabric and craft supplies at almost every thrift store.  Sometimes it will be actual cut fabric, straight off the bolt, and sometimes it will be in the form of curtains or sheets.  Again, this involves digging, but the deals are unbeatable.

Online

There are several online fabric stores, and they all have clearance sections.  Fabric.com is one I’ve heard good things about.  Craigslist and Freecycle are worth checking out, too.  I once got a huge bag of upholstery remnants on Freecycle.  I ended up re-Freecycling them to another member when I discovered that none of them were quite my style, but all I was out was the gas to go pick them up in the first place – a worthwhile gamble, I believe.

So what do you think?  Have I missed any great resources for inexpensive fabric?  Do you find yourself in the mood to spiff up a space you’ve been afraid to tackle?

(P.S. I’m linking up to DIY Day over at Kimba’s!)

Last summer, when we were planning our cross-country move, I promised the boys I would make their new room look nice.  I also promised them I would incorporate each of their favorite colors.  Nicolas’s favorite color is/was pink, and Kalen’s is green.  They both chose blue as their second-favorite color.  (Let’s ignore the fact that after three years with pink as his favorite color, just last week Nicolas changed his mind and chose gold.  Ahem.)

So, the challenge was on.  How to incorporate both pink and green and not have the room look stereotypically girlie?  Ikea to the rescue:

I saw this fabric at Ikea Atlanta, took a photo, and filed it away in the back of my brain as the probable solution.  (That reddish-looking stripe is actually a dark pink.)  I figured I would make drapes with it when I worked a fabric purchase that large into our decorating budget.

Enter Jenny at My Little Green Notebook.  I’ll wait while you click her link.  Dum-dee-doo…How cool is that?  Just a little fabric and a couple hours’ time for a great big change.  The icing on the cake was a trip to Ikea in November that netted me the exact fabric I wanted on sale for $1.99/yd.  (Score!)

You all know how frugal/budget-minded/cheap I am, especially when it comes to home decor.  It took me a couple of months of now-and-then trips to the craft stores with my coupons to grab the foam core, trim, batting, fabric glue, and duct tape (can you believe we were out of duct tape??) I’d need to do the project.  Yesterday, however, I picked up the duct tape, headed home, and started sketching pelmet shapes.

I made only one change to Jenny’s plan for our pelmet.  Since the previous tenant left a curtain rod up, the hardware was ready and waiting.  I added a top to the box, so the whole piece could just slide over the curtain rod hardware.  (Work with what you’ve got!)

There was math involved.  The sheets of foam core are 30″ wide, and the pelmet needed to be 68″ to fit over the hardware.  This is about the time my mind started wandering, with fond remembrance, to drafting tables and French curves.

Quilting rules and self-healing mats did nicely, and I think my freehand curves turned out just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Using a knife with a long blade saves a step – no tracing for a mirror image, just cutting!

I used a lot of duct tape.  Probably a lot more than is necessary.  It’s sturdy, though!

Both the fabric and the batting had to be pieced to fit the length of the pelmet.  I’m pretty proud of my stripe-matching job.  I’ll spare you the photo of me whip stitching the batting.

As this was my first upholstery project of any kind, I was thankful for Jenny’s advice to pull tightly.  I was also thankful I’d used so much duct tape, as I bounced the poor pelmet around and yanked this way and that on the fabric.

Time for a brief plug for this handy little Craftsman staple gun.  I don’t have much hand strength, and this is so easy for me to use.  I can put my body weight behind it rather than pulling a trigger with my fingers.

And now I think I’ve teased you enough.  Would you like to see the final product?

I’m pretty darned happy with it…and I’ve got enough fabric left over for another project!  So many possibilities…

One of my very favorite blogs, Young House Love, linked to this quick little style quiz at Ethan Allen today.

How surprised was I when I clicked through the series of photos that appealed to me and was presented with my results?

Very.

Metro?  I’m metro?  Uh, no, I’m a suburban girl, through and through.  Right?  But then, I started exploring their sample rooms for this style, and I quite liked three of them.

EthanAllenStyle

Yeah, I can do Metro.

1. Look at those white vases.  I know the whole “white grouping” thing is so popular as to be almost overdone these days, but I really am drawn to it.

2. The woven bench.

3. Lots of neutrals with splashes of color.

4. Geometric patterns.

The only thing missing is a certain measure of softness…something cozy.  I’m reminded of homes where I babysat as a teenager, when I was chilled after the kids had gone to bed and couldn’t for the life of me find an afghan or a quilt to cuddle under on the sofa.  Add a little coziness (and a personal touch or two) to these rooms, and I think they’d be close to perfect.

Yes, the house did sell.  Closing was last Tuesday, although the funding and finality weren’t ours until Wednesday.

Ten years ago, we bought our first home, and five years later, we sold it to buy this house.  We’ve done a lot of work to this house: replace the termite-eaten wood under the front window, replace the window over the front door, new exterior paint, new roof, a gutter here and there…  By “we,” I mean the men we hired to do these things…or the men the insurance companies hired.  Our personal involvement was more limited: new paint, little fix-it jobs, moldings in the dining room, and the piece de resistance, the built-ins Jason made for the den.

On Tuesday morning, after delivering the boys to school, I did a last walk-through to make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything.  The day before, we’d discovered two kitchen drawers that had been overlooked, and a paintbrush soaking that Jason had used for some touching up.  On Tuesday, there was nothing left.

dsc00004

My stripes are still there, though.  I wish I could have brought them with me.  I’m sure you can’t tell, but they exactly match the stripe in the fabric of the roman shades.  I love doing that: choosing a fabric for a window treatment that draws in the furniture I don’t have the budget to change, then basing every paint color in the house on that piece of fabric.  It’s a simple and fun approach, and it usually turns out stunning.

Painting the stripes certainly wasn’t simple.  It was a true team effort between my parents and us.  I love those stripes.  I was happy and relieved to learn that the new owners love them, too, and they won’t be painted over any time soon.

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So where does this leave us?  The boys and I are very comfortably ensconced in (and slowly taking over) my parents’ house.  Mom and Dad rearranged their lives to make room for us, moving offices and beds.  It’s quite a nice arrangement.  Jason heads back to Seattle tomorrow, where he will find a just-right job before sending for us.  The old phrase Dad used to tease me with as I left the house holds entirely new meaning for me now: “Write when you find work.”

We are houseless now, and it feels weird, but we’re not homeless.  No matter what occurs, we can take comfort in the fact that home really is where our hearts are, and our families hold our hearts.

For the time being, however, I still feel mildly unsettled.  I doubt that feeling will abate before we are firmly settled in our own new home, whenever that may be.

My boys

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