seeing spots

Surfaced amongst many holiday projects this weekend was this gem of a vanity stool.  I’ve had it “on deck” for a while actually.  It simply needed some TLC in the form of upholstery and a proper seat cushion.

Leopard Vanity Stool

The before shot of this stool is kind of comical.  It was topped with a toilet seat cover over part of an egg carton.

vanity before

Finally, I got down to the bare bones of the seat so I could start from scratch.

Leopard Vanity Stool

That is when I cut out a 1 inch foam cushion and then secured and covered it with batting.

Leopard Vanity Stool

Followed by some sassy leopard fabric.  Much better.

  Leopard Vanity Stool

I love a simple vanity stool in a classic leopard.  It doesn’t get anymore feminine.

Leopard Vanity Stool

In fact, I don’t even think this stool needs to be paired with a vanity to be complete.  It would be a great accent in a dressing room or bathroom on it’s own.

Leopard Vanity Stool

This isn’t the first vanity stool I upholstered in leopard…

vanity stool

That stool was upholstered in a bedspread when I found it!  Check out the before and after here.

What is the strangest thing you’ve found when reupholstering a seat?

Leopard Vanity Stool

well loved chairs

We had three cast off dining room chairs that had lost their luster long ago.   Their bums were sagging and needed more than just a nip tuck.  An upholstery lift wasn’t going to cut it with these babies. There was nothing worth saving except for the sturdy wooden frames.

chair befor

Good frames that they were, made them quite the perfect candidates to upcycle into an upholstered bench.  I painted each their own happy hue in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (Emilie, Florence & Duck Egg) to complement the recurring aqua blue color scheme in our home.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

We headed straight to Lowe’s for lumber.  This was the easy part. We selected a piece of plywood and had the fine folks at Lowe’s cut it free in store. Did you know Lowe’s offers this service? They’re pretty flexible on how many cuts they’ll do too. We had selected the length and width we wanted the bench to be prior to our trip to the store.

turning chairs into a bench

We based this off of the trio of chairs and their seat width. It was easiest to then take the wood home and measure the notches that needed to be cut between each chair back.  Ryan made these detail cuts and rounded the corners as well.

building a bench out of chairs

Not only does Lowe’s cut lumber but they’ll also cut mini blinds, pipe, rope and chain. And this is news to me, Lowe’s also offers FREE pipe threading and cutting for any size galvanized or black iron pipe. Say what!  A Do It Yourselfer’s dream.  Lowe’s is seriously full of easy solutions for your projects.

Check out this six second Lowe’s video that will pretty much change your life. Trust me.

[unrulysponsored code=138606190 align=center]

Being a visual person, I love the no words simplicity of their new animated video series on Vine.  I definitely learned a few new tricks.  The stripped screw solution is genius!  Lowe’s has several more simple, creative and life changing improvement videos like this on Vine.  Check them out!  I can’t believe I never thought of the coffee filter one.   #lowesfixinsix  Holler!

Yes, I just hollered…back to the bench at hand.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

The seat needed to be firm but plush.  Somewhere to linger longer so we picked up two-inch thick foam cushioning.  Using the neatly cut lumber as a template, I traced the shape.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

Here’s another tip for you that I’ve learned along the way:  Ready for it?  A quick and easy way to cut foam cushion is with none other than your electric knife.  The same knife you carve the turkey with.  So easy.

tip: use an electric knife to cut through foam cushion

Next comes the fluffing.  This is where you wrap the seat cushion with poylfill.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

No more saggy seat.  This bench is looking firm and inviting.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

The final step was the upholstery.  Instead of going with some sparkly new fabric, I obviously opted for two dingy, old seed sacks.  I’ve been holding onto these waiting for just the right project.  Their time had come, my friends.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

The trickiest part of this entire bench building business for us was sewing. Yes, sewing a straight line. Now you stellar seamstresses out there may find this comical but firing up the actual sewing machine was our biggest challenge. No joke.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

But my husband came to the rescue with a triple stitch combining both grain sacks to make one piece of fabric wide enough to cover the entire seat.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

We embraced all the wear and tear in both the fabric and chairs and are pretty excited with how the upcycled bench turned out.  Funny enough the only new materials used are in innards.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

It complements the well-loved and repurposed vibe that is growing in the beach house kitchen.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

This is a view into the eating nook as it is today with our vintage enamel table.  The roman shades are also a new addition.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

The bench adds lots of extra seating for visitors at our kitchen table.  It faces the galley that we have been working on updating as I posted about last week.


Some other areas I hope to update are the walls, laminate floor and lighting.  I think I got my point across last week about my lack of interest in laminate and desire to resurface all of it within a 30 mile radius.  But all in due time.  We seem to be working on this space upside down or inside out…details first.  It works for us!

Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by Lowe’s.  However, all opinions and projects are my own.  And we really do think Lowe’s is awesome and their new videos are life changing.

they found me

Sometimes when I’m simply minding my own business, not hunting for vintage or even thinking about it – ok that part’s not true. I’m always thinking about vintage.  But minding my biz and just running errands, non-vintage ones.  The weirdest thing happens.  Treasures find me!

vintage library chairs

They really do and that’s exactly what happened with these chairs.  They pretty much tapped me on the shoulder and asked to come home.  How could I say no to this cheery aqua fabric?

vintage library chairs

vintage library chairs

Perfect nailhead trim.

vintage library chairs

Birch construction. Mid-century capped feet. Oh and that library book rack!

vintage library chairs

This set of vintage library chairs is looking for a contrasting table to pair with such as a white Saarinen tulip table.  Wouldn’t that be fabulous?

vintage library chairs

Sometimes they just find me.

vintage library chairs

Happy weekend friends and happy hunting!  Don’t forget the last Clover Market of the season is on Sunday.

vinyl + chrome = love

We’re just barely back from our honeymoon.  Still organizing life and most importantly all of our Brimfield finds!  However I couldn’t leave you hanging without a little dose of Circa Dee.

I’ve got a before & after for you from the archives.  I can’t hardly believe that I’ve never properly shared this project with you.  It is definitely one of my favorites around here.  In fact, there has been a debate on whether or not we should keep it for ourselves.  We don’t actually need this adorable retro dinette table & chairs however it fits in perfectly at the beach.  And we happen to have an open space for it.  Hmmm…

updated retro dinette  (2 of 23)

Of course I didn’t take a proper before shot. More like an in progress shot after we started taking the chairs apart.  As you can see they were covered in the original vinyl which was in bad shape.  And then there was newer vinyl (not pictured) haphazardly tacked on over the original.



Off it all came!  The chairs got updated with my modern spin on the original vinyl – bright aqua marine grade vinyl.  So fun!

updated retro dinette  (18 of 23)

Don’t you just want to sit down?

updated retro dinette  (10 of 23)

Now for the table… I love the original table.  Nice and solid.  What you can’t really see are all of the dings, filth and general wear & tear.  So ultimately we stripped it with the intent to stain the original wood with a more modern dark color.


But at the end of the day we settled on a couple of coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in graphite.  I think it adds another modern punch that coordinates with the bright chairs very well.  I topped it off with a couple of cots of furniture wax.  It has a nice smooth finish.

updated retro dinette  (12 of 23)

And check out all of those legs!  We cleaned and shined up all of that chrome which really gives off the retro vibe.  All of that gorgeous chrome is the feature that is saving the table from staying in our home.  We have all brass accents so the chrome has to go!  Too bad for us but maybe good for you?

updated retro dinette  (8 of 23)

Wouldn’t you like to have a glass of wine at this table?

updated retro dinette  (20 of 23)

Linking to:  Miss Mustard Seed

secret weapon

Ok so it’s not so secret anymore.

Let’s just say that I am not much of an upholsterer.  I have tried my hand at it and it’s worked out ok but nothing epic has come of it.  I can’t do much beyond a basic seat.  Anything involving curves, sewing, welting, etc.  Not me.  Nor do I enjoy the task.  And I’ve come to accept that.  Part of the acceptance came when I found a stellar upholsterer to partner with who totally gets my style and is a true artist in his craft.

Meet Pete.  Hard at work.


When I started designing the bedroom for my home show room I knew there had to be an upholstered headboard. It had to be eye-catching.  It had to be vintage fabric.  A few ideas flew around as to what fabric to use but ultimately I settled on this bold, vintage tablecloth that is durable enough to stand in as upholstery.  I love the print and feel like it is totally fresh again as a headboard.  I considered tackling this project alone but decided to call in the professional after all.

Home Show - Upholstered Headboard

I love to source vintage furniture, re-imagine it and find just the right fabric, lay it out and then turn my idea over to the professional to implement.  Check out these before and after collaborations between Circa Dee and Hummingbird Upholstery…my vision, Pete’s craftsmanship.

Barrel Back Chair Before & After

Before & After French Settee

Before & After Club Chair

To all of my local blogger/designer/DIYer/upcycler/upholsterer-seeking friends, I am sharing my secret resource with you because I believe in paying it forward.  I love supporting small businesses and artisans – people who do what they love everyday.  You should definitely enlist Pete at Hummingbird Upholstery for your next project.  His workshop is located in beautiful Chester county.

barn door

By the way, the club chair and headboard collaborations from the Home Show room are for sale.  Both are currently listed on etsy.

Reclaimed Industrial Bedroom

where i’ve been

Where have I been you ask? Thank you for your concern! I have been all over this past week from the city to the country to the beach and back to the burbs picking up a whirlwind of inspiration along the way.  I love where I live simply for the fact that I can hit all of those places and spaces in just a few hours.  So let me share what I’ve been up to.

You may or may not know about my participation in the Philadelphia Home Show at this point.

Philadelphia Home Show

To recap, Circa Dee was selected to design an upcycled room at February’s show running from the 2nd to 10th.  I am ecstatic to share with you that almost every surface of the room will be repurposed or vintage in nature.

Because that’s how I do.

I’ve partnered with some stellar folks who are helping to make the impossible possible in the world of upcycling.

First up is my upholsterer who’s identity shall finally be revealed.  Drumroll please.  Hummingbird Upholstery.  Will you please stand up?

Hummingbird Upholstery

Here’s what we’ve got in progress.

Upholstery Project

Oops I’ve said too much already.

And this is where the magic happens…on a beautiful horse farm in the depths of Chester County.  Yes, I’ve blogged about my love for this barn before.  No, this is not a rerun.

More trash to treasure upholstery amazingness to come!

beautiful barn

And moving further east.  Further.  In Philadelphia.  Closer to the river.  You’ll find Provenance.


And their warehouse full of SO awesome reclaimed goods.

Provenance Architecturals

You’ll have to tune in next month to see what we come up with it.  But let’s just say that Provenance did the new Barnes Foundation floor.  And yes, that was formerly the Coney Island Boardwalk.  I love the magic of salvage!


I realize you don’t all live near the city of brotherly love and I don’t want to leave you out of this fun project called the Home Show.  I will most definitely share pictures of the finished room here with you and maybe even some awkward ‘during’ shots (although I hope to leave my hot pink paint pants at home).  I will also share lots of instagram pics because I’m hooked.  And facebook, twitter, pinterest and whatever other form of social media hits the interwebs between now and February 2nd.  However, if you are local I hope to meet you at the show!

Oh and speaking of the beach, we were speaking about the beach, right?  I rounded out my whirlwind few days there.


Complete with lots of new additions to my space at the West End Garage.  Get ’em while they’re hot!  More about the lobster sign and other paint projects in a post later this week but I hope you like it!


And I promise to start taking pictures again soon with my real camera and to lay off The Instagram.  Soon.

on the road

Today was a pretty great day.  The perfect fall day to be on the road with my sidekick, Wilson.  (This was the best shot he’d give me.)  Fall is still hanging on and the sun was shining high.  We had a gorgeous drive.

We made a new friend who was all about posing for the camera.

She wasn’t shy at all.  In fact she gave me her better side.

And then invited me in for a tour.

I don’t know what it is about barns and farms in general that I am enamored with.  I suppose it is a lifestyle that I know little about having grown up in the suburbs but I’m always caught off guard by all of the simple, natural undeveloped beauty a farm offers.

And the old construction of the barns plus the new patina.  Boy, what I would do with that door.  It would look great above my mantel.

So what was a non-farm girl like me doing on this beautiful horse farm?  My upholsterer’s studio is located there!  I know.  Amazing.  I love taking that trip.  There are a couple of cute outbuildings and several homes on the property including a grand old farm house!

Back to biz though.  I picked up a fabulous club chair that I will post about next week after I tweak the finish.

Wilson and I made a few other pickups today.  Mostly of the holiday merchandise type.  Specifically vintage and handmade!

We also made some wreaths, painted a bit and planted paperwhites when we returned home.  Actually who am I kidding?  Wilson took a nap!  I did those things.

Prep mode continues for the holidays at our Brick & Mortar.  Hope you’ll come visit this weekend!  Open Saturday & Sunday 10-5.  Don’t forget, we have Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in stock too!

Other local events that I am participating in this weekend include viewing Freud’s Last Session at Arden Theatre after attending The Scene.

And on Saturday night I will launch my modeling career at The Frock Shoppe’s charity fashion show.  And then I’ll retire my modeling career.

What are your plans for the weekend?

know your strengths

So I really should have titled this post “know your weaknesses” but that sounds so negative and who wants to read a negative post?  I’m a glass half full kind of gal anyway.  So know your strengths…here we go.

For far too long I would pass up amazing chairs.  Not chairs you’d pull up to a table but big, glamorous armchairs, settees, caning, you get the drift.  I’d pass ’em by because I was terrified of upholstery.  Not just terrified but actually kind of uninterested.  Learning to upholster is not on my wish list at this time.  In fact, I’d rather poke my eyes out with upholstery tacks.  Sorry, too gruesome? What I mean is I’d rather paint, shop, style, you know – not upholster.

So I’ve partnered with an upholsterer.  Amazing.

Now I get to conceptualize the chair transformation from drab to fab.  (I use that phrase way too much.)  And the upholsterer executes my vision.  Conceptualization is truly my favorite part.  So expect to see more fabric projects here at Circa Dee.  I am so excited about what I’ve got on deck in this department.

Here’s our first transformation…

Barrel back caned chairs.

They started out very Mad Men.  In fact I didn’t hate the powder blue velvet but it was filthy.

An antiqued white paint job, crisp linen and blue chevron fabric and voila.

These are destined for someone’s beach house!

Here’s a few of the back again.  I like the contrast in fabrics.

I’m just sorry that I didn’t take better photos before moving them into my space at West End Garage in Cape May where these pictures were taken.  Go see them in person!  Seriously.  I love them!

Have a great weekend!