Monday, January 19, 2009

My big home dec project revealed

So I'm back from my weekend in Fort Smith, and now I get to tell you all about the home dec project I've been working so hard on. I was busting to write about it last week, but I couldn't talk about the project until after the trip to Fort Smith. Why is that, you say?

Why, it's because the home dec project took place in Fort Smith.

Here's the quick and dirty backstory: My dear friend Scarlett's had a lot -LOT- going on in the last few months. There have been a string of medical crises in her family. Though these crises were not with her own personal health, it was the health of loved ones. The frequent drives to and from Little Rock (2 1/2 hours from Ft. Smith) took both time and energy, which she gave freely and with love. However, it was also taking a toll on her apartment. Her living room/dining room functions as a living room/home office/sewing studio but she didn't have the right kind of furniture or organizing systems to make this work efficiently. So stuff ended up piled here and there, which was made even more overwhelming by her travel fatigue. The addition of a few pieces of functional furniture (desk, shelving, etc.) would fix this, but the travel and health crises made purchases like that impossible for the near future.

So it was in this context that about a month ago this idea flashed through my head to do a surprise apartment re-do and create a functional living space for her. Given my own financial constraints, this had to be a super-dooper-budget project. As in, what could Anne do with $75??

Enter my angels. The first angel is Denise, who eagerly signed on to help with this project. She was my co-conspirator, contributing energy, inspiration, and $$ for some of the materials. Another angel is my sister, who helped me locate an inexpensive bookshelf for Scarlett's fabric. She also generously donated a sewing table to the cause. Another angel is my friend Jennifer, who upon hearing of the suprise apartment makeover, wanted a piece of the action and donated hanging file folders. There were also two Freecycle angels: one who donated bushel baskets, and another who donated plastic organizing bins for the drawers.

I just realized I've typed a jillion words and still haven't shown any pics. I suppose that's a bit mean of me, but I wanted to give some context before the big reveal.

Now, for the before shots. They're a bit blurry due to some difficulty with the camera.

The computer lives on a card table, which doesn't give any space to store papers, pens, files, etc.

There's no place to store fabric in here, so it ends up in piles here and there.

You can't see it very well in this picture, but the sewing center is just a small dining table. There isn't room on the tabletop for both the cutting mat and the sewing machine, so the sewing machine ends up sitting on top of the cutting mat - which makes for a smaller cutting area. What you also can't see is that just to the right of the couch is an ironing board. When Scarlett is working on a quilt, she has to walk across the room to iron out each set of seams.

During the weeks that we planned this secret project, we collected up a number of furniture and organizational pieces:

1 - Old metal desk that had actually been Liv's changing table when she was a baby. The person we bought it from then told us that it was from the 1930s and came from the old nursing school here in town.

2 - Small set of wooden shelves, about 36" wide and 30" tall. Perfect height for a small table-top ironing board.

3 - Small set of metal shelves, discovered in the dark recesses of our basement. They were rusty and nasty, but a good cleaning and a coat of turquoise Rustoleam had them looking like they came from The Container Store.

4 - Wooden sewing table, courtesy of my sister. Very stury - a very nice piece of furniture.

5 - Set of bushel baskets from Freecycle. They had glued ribbon around the outside of them and used them for storage in their daughter's playroom. We took the ribbon off, spray painted them in fun colors, and made cloth liners. Denise was a genius figuring out how to make the liners with as little fuss as possible. We ended up with 5 half-bushel sized baskets, and 3 full-bushel sized baskets.

6 - Set of small plastic organizing bins for drawers, also courtesy of Freecycle. We ended up with probably 10 that were 4x6 inches, and 3 that were 6 x 9 inches. She also ended up throwing in some cutlery organizers that were perfect for organizing pens and pencils and such.
7 - Hanging file boxes scavenged from around the house and outfitted with the hanging files donated by my friend Jennifer.

That's a lot of stuff!!! To get it all to Fort Smith, we had to take out both back seats in my van:

I'll post tomorrow to show what it looked like when we got done.
Craftily yours,


T.Allen-Mercado said...

Eeeeeeeeeee! I'm excited and teary-eyed and all sorts of eager to see what you did. And how wonderful are all of you for so selflessly stepping up to bring a friend some much needed happiness and inspiration?! (hugs) You guys are the best. I can't wait to see the outcome!

Occasional Martha said...

Hey Casserole,
Thanks for stopping by and saying hi at my space. It's still brand new, so your encouragement means alot!
You've got a fabulous space here! I can't wai to see what you came up with in this home dec project! What an inspiring use of your talents!

Denise Felton said...

Foo! My comment didn't go through, and I don't know what I said. Something like...

This was the most fun project and the best girlie weekend EVER!!! You were the goddess with the plan and you did all the hard work. But it sure was fun to be on hand for the great reveal. Surprise Home Makeover should have sent a camera crew to cover it. It so rocked!

And thanks for not mentioning that I'm the one who screwed up the "before" photos. :)

We love you, Scar!!!

Janna said...

I can't wait to see the reveal!! I only wish I had known what you were up to. I would have found a way to contribute too!! Scarlet sooooo deserved this!! What a great thing to do for a friend. I always knew you had a big heart!

joanie said...

Wow and I thought Obama was the most exciting "change." Now you go and give us this. What an amazing gift - your time! (And all the stuff too of course.) Can't wait to see the results.

Lisa_in_AR said...

What a great project, and how wonderful of y'all to do this for a friend!

ElegantSnobbery said...

Okay, so of course I always knew you were sweet... but WOW, you made my night just reading this! You ROCK and what an amazing friends you are for Scarlett!