Tag Archives: home decor

Our first grown-up bed…

As a child growing up in Ukraine, I always slept on a convertible sofa bed. Every night, our children’s room went into the night mode when we click-clacked our couch into horizontal position and put pillows and blankets on it. Every morning, away went the linens and the bed became a couch again. A couple of mattresses and box springs were my family’s first purchases for our empty apartment in Brooklyn when we came to the US. They were nestled in the obligatory metal bed frames, no headboard, no footboard.

When I moved to North Carolina, I spent $600 of my meager grad-student stipend to buy a new mattress, box spring and, you guessed it, metal bed frame. Finally, when Mike and I moved to Massachusetts almost three years ago, we moved our combined grad-student-style stuff, mattresses and bed frames in tow.

A week ago, we got four heavy boxes delivered to our doorstep and spent an evening putting together this bed:

We got it on big sale for just under $360 with free shipping! Here’s how it looks in our room:

Our bedroom is gigantic (we think) and doesn’t quite feel warm or cozy. The poster bed helps balance out the room a little bit, but still feels a little cold and hotel-like. So, I am thinking about adding a canopy, either covering only the top or curtain-style. Here are some canopy bed ideas that inspire me…





My dilemma is this: the bed is black, the walls of our bedroom are sky-blue (partially contributing to the cold feeling), the curtains and the dresser are brown, and for a while now I was planning on putting up a burnt-orange blanket on the wall at the head of the bed. What colors should I use for the canopy fabric? I guess I can treat the black of the bed as a neutral and match the canopy color to the rest of the room’s colors.


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What RenewStuff’s been up to…

So… what have I been up to? Planning fall and winter projects, cleaning up the house, and trying to start the dark, cold, wet season on a good note. I hope to have a little more on the winterization bit in one of the future posts…

My Market Stand recycling yarn demonstration was a blast! I met some talented and interesting people and learned a bunch of new things. Here’s a recap of my experience on the Urban Homesteaders’ League blog and some photos…

Mike and I have also visited my parents and sister in NYC. My sister has just moved on her own to her very first apartment – and it’s a big deal! I got all excited about helping her decorate (read – coming up with all sorts of ideas for her place before I even had a chance to see it!). I asked her what her color scheme was and heard in response, “What’s a color scheme?”  Funny how I’ve adopted a whole new vocabulary ever since moving into our apartment and starting this blog.

But worry not – I got a chance to share my DIY obsession with my sister. We helped her paint an IKEA dining set. For those of you who paint/refinish furniture – isn’t there something very satisfying in finishing a simple piece that doesn’t require too much repairing, sanding, and detailed painting? These IKEA table and chairs were so uncomplicated to paint that I was just dying to add a little something extra, a little detail that both garners attention and does not clash with the simplicity of the lines (Little Green Notebook had a nice post about details in furniture design) . In any case, here’s what we started with:

and here is what we got after a couple of hours of collective effort:

I have also joined the ranks of other DIY bloggers in creating a color-field inspired painting, described (with instructions) on The New Domestic blog. Here is my take on the project:

Moving to one’s own place for the first time is always exciting – it is how I started to learn about design and domestic crafts. My sister’s apartment allows me to think of a different decorating style than the one we use in our old drafty house (I realize that she might disagree with my vision, though!). For those of you who have had a chance to decorate several of your living spaces, how have your tastes changed from your first place to your current one?

What’s coming up for me? A quick craft tutorial to share with y’all and a couple of homesteading projects to do and photograph for my next posts. Until then – happy crafting!


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Wire hanger ivy topiary

Sometimes the craftiest creative ideas are also the simplest. Enter the old-fashioned and super-easy ivy topiary project.

I’ve been settling more and more into my job here and recently decided that my small office space needs to be spruced up. I cleaned up and consolidated various storage containers and uncovered a lot of empty space on and around my desk. What could be better to occupy it than plants? There is very little natural lighting in the office, but the fluorescent light should provide enough light for a non-fussy plant. Our local supermarket had small pots of ivy and I thought that it might be interesting to try growing an ivy topiary in the office.

Now I only hope that my brown thumb magically turns into a brownish-green one and the plants survive.

To make this topiary, you will need:

1. A potted ivy plant (or ivy you are going to repot, potting soil and a flower pot).

2. One or two wire hangers (the kind you can get from a dry cleaner), like this:

3. A pair of pliers or a pair of your own work-gloved hands.

4. Green heavy-duty thread or floral tape.

5. (Optional) 8 inches of steel or copper wire.

Here’s how to make the topiary:

1. Using pliers or your hands, straighten the hook part of the hanger to form a straight piece.

2. To achieve a “tulip” shape, bend/fold the horizontal bar of the hanger out, so that you get a diamond connected to the straight piece of wire that you created in Step 1.

3. Now kink each of the two sides opposite the straight piece in toward the center of the diamond.  This is very difficult to describe in words, so here’s the picture of a complete “tulip.”

4. Insert the straight piece down into the center of the pot. If the straight piece is longer than the height of your flower pot, you can cut it or bend it to the correct length.

5. (optional) Cut two 4-inch pieces of steel or copper wire and bend each in half to create a U- or V-shape. Insert one of the U-shaped wire pieces into the soil, crossing the wire hanger at a 45-degree angle. Now insert the second U-shaped wire perpendicular to the first. Contrary to what you might think, this step doesn’t require any knowledge of trigonometry – I am simply trying to support the hanger topiary structure and prevent it from falling over. A picture is worth a thousand words.

6. Take the longest branches of the ivy plant and decide which ones are going to go onto which side of the wire structure.

7. Loosely wind the branches around the corresponding side of the wire hanger, making sure to always wind in the same direction. Tie loosely with thread or floral tape in several places along the wire form (if using floral tape, carefully stretch it as you wind it around the branches to make it stick to itself).

So here you have it – the beginning of an old-fashioned ivy topiary with a modern twist. As your ivy grows, keep winding the branches around the wire structure and attaching them to it. When the branches are long enough that the two sides meet at the top, continue to wrap them in the same direction, i.e. overlapping the two sides and letting each side grow down towards the pot.

Be sure to prune your topiary regularly – you want the wire to be completely covered by the plant yet still have the “tulip” shape. When pruning, use sharp scissors and cut just where the branch meets the stem.

I am not providing any advice about caring for the plant itself, since, as I’ve already confessed, I have been known to kill even the hardiest of them. We’ll see how this one will do…

P.S. My absence from blogging is inexcusable. And while I even have some real excuses for not posting, I’ll spare you the details… Please forgive me, my dear readers – I hope you keep reading and keep crafting.


Filed under From scratch

From scratch: Geometric coat hanger


efore launching into “hardcore” renewing and recycling projects, I thought I’d share with you a project that was done almost from scratch – a coat hanger made with a piece of pine board, some twine, wood stain, and store-bought hooks. The coat rack was first designed to hold jackets and hats in our space-challenged entryway in North Carolina, but between the move and Mike’s graduation, I was only able to finish and hang it after we moved to Massachusetts. Here it is (above), gracing our entryway with its presence :)

Here’s how I made it:

1. Leftover piece of lumber – of the size that you want your hanger to be.
2. Water-based wood stain.
3. Thick thread, yarn, or twine of color that contrasts with the color of stain you will use.
4. School or wood glue.
5. Hook and screw kits available from major home improvement stores.
6. Your choice of varnish or polyurethane for finishing.
7. Your choice of woodworking tools to carve shallow grooves in the wood.
8. Mounting self-leveler aka sawtooth hanger, like this or any other mounting hardware.


1. I started with an unfinished pine board (it was a leftover piece from another project).

2. Using a pencil, I sketched out the design that I wanted to appear on the rack. Since I’ve never attempted anything of this kind, I opted for a simple geometric design because I thought it would be easier to work with.

3. Next, I followed the lines and cut shallow grooves in the wood. I used a Dremel rotary tool with emery cutting tip. It is certainly possible to embellish the coat hanger without cutting the grooves if you use high quality wood glue. I wanted to carve the grooves simply to practice using the rotary tool.


4. I then stained the board with two coats of cherry stain. So far, for all my woodworking projects I have been using various shades of Minwax water-based stain. I like that the cleanup is so easy and that there are no noxious fumes to contend with during application and drying.


5. For the next step, you can use rope, twine, yarn or even thin wire to fill the grooves that you’ve carved. I used off-white cotton string similar in weight to crochet yarn. After placing a dollop of white school glue on a piece of scrap paper, I dragged each length of the string through the glue and carefully pushed the string into the grooves. Pushpins were used to hold each piece of string in place as the glue dries and to define the corner in my geometric pattern.


6. My coat hanger was finished with two coats of polyurethane to give it a shiny finished look and to secure the string in case the glue alone wasn’t enough.

7. Finally, I attached chrome hooks into the center of each “square” design.


8. A note on mounting: I used sawtooth hangers to mount the coat rack. At Mike’s wise suggestion, we found the wall studs before attaching the screws on which the sawtooth hangers were to rest. That extra step was well worth the effort since the coat hanger now successfully supports the weight of all our heavy winter coats.

Happy crafting!

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