Light switch covers

March 30, 2011

This is a quick and easy project if you’re looking to spice up a room without a lot of money or commitment. We’re in the process of transforming all of our boring, white/cream outlet covers, which really don’t match the paint anyway, into something more fun. We’re not afraid of color, so some of our paint is pretty intense, and the boring outlets really stood out as an ugly sore thumb. So now we have these:Downstairs bathroom outlet

The method for making these is really simple. You get some craft or scrapbook paper that has a pattern that you like, and trace your outlet cover with about a quarter inch extra on every side.

Downstairs bathroom light switchThen, using decoupage paste or something similar, you glue the paper to the flat part of the cover. You’ll have to cut tiny diagonal slits in the corners to fit the curved edges of the plates. Once your paper is firmly glued to the flat part of the plate, and your slits are cut, glue down the sides, one at a time. You should still have a little overhang from the extra you gave yourself earlier.

Bedroom Light switch

You may have to hold each side for a minute to let your glue set up. The heavier your paper was, the longer you’ll have to hold at this step. Once your glue is all the way dry, you can go back and trim your edges flush with the plates. This is also the time to cut out the hold for the light switch or the outlets, and poke through to your screw holes with an xacto knife.

Bedroom outletOnce you’re done trimming cover the entire front of your plate with decoupage paste or some kind of finishing/sealing product. This is important because it makes your plates more durable and less likely to get dirty. Especially with the light switches, where people are constantly touching that area.

Bathroom switchesThen you’re done! Hang your plates back up and enjoy your little splashes of color. If you’re renting, or just unwilling to commit, we replaced some of our covers at the Habitat for Humanity Re-store, a thrift store that supports Habitat for Humanity by selling building materials for about $o.50 each. We probably spent about $10 on scrapbooking paper at a nice scrapbooking store. This is a project that has had a ton of impact in our house, all for a grand total of about $12!

Two-Level Table

March 29, 2011

One of the things that we’re trying to do here at Suburban Experiment is accumulate some furniture that doesn’t look like it belongs to a college apartment or dorm room. For me, that means trying to stay away from things made out of particle board. Unfortunately, real furniture, the kind made out of wood, is expensive. This has led me into the land of thrift store furniture and refinishing. My first project was this nice little two-level table:

Two-Level Table, before

Our lovely little table, direct from the thrift shop.

This isn’t a great picture, but you can get an idea of what it looked like. A pretty standard, medium-tone finish, that was pretty badly scratched on the table surfaces. That upper level of the table is covered in what I originally thought might be a formica in a avocado green-harvest yellow gradient, with a gold greek key pattern stamped around the edges.

So I stripped the original finish, and went after the ugly finish on the upper level, only to realize that it was not formica at all, but actually a piece of finished and stamped leather. Then I painted:

Two-level Table, stripped and painted

This shows the paint job without any embellishments. Or drawer pulls.

This paint color is called “cantaloupe smile,” which is just a fantastic name, and it’s a great sunny, cheerful name. Which is good, because a section of my garage floor is now also this color. Just a note: never set your paint can on the surface you’re actually painting. Especially if you’re inclined to lift the object you’re working on.

After painting, I went in and added a piece of fabric to the top level to mimic the effect of the original table decoration. I just glued it on with decoupage paste, and am trusting to the varnish to help make it stay in place.

Two-level table with fabric

This gives a better idea of the color, and shows the fabric on top.

Two-level table, inside of drawer

I also used the same fabric to line the inside of the drawer. After that was all said and done, I put a layer of varnish over the whole thing, and I used some Brasso on the drawer pulls and the wire lattice in the side to reveal that they are actually made out of metal, and not just oddly shaped tarnish. The finished result looks like this:

Two-level table finished


Two-level table finished, front


Two-level table finished