Champagne (Art) on a Beer Budget

I’ve often wondered if I were ever to be on “Inside the Actor’s Studio with James Lipton”, how I would answer some of his Bernard Pivot Questions:

James: Number 5.  What sound or noise do you love?

L: The sound of a champagne cork popping!

Oh, it’s the *best*!  It signals so many wonderful things for me.  New beginnings.  Celebrations.  Effervescence.  Cups overflowing.  Romance.  Holidays, etc, etc.  Sometimes, for no reason at all, my hubby and I will go out and buy a bottle of champagne when we feel most sad for there has to be *some* reason to celebrate, even if we have to look within to find it.  I *love* Champagne!  Admittedly, though, I don’t often drink it because it *is* rather expensive…

James Lipton: Number 3.  What turns you on??

L: Aside from my hubby and a whole slew of other things (like Champagne, wine, and good food!), I’d have to say a good bargain!

Ooooh…I love’s me a bargain!  Love’s it!  And in these penny-pinching days, bargains have never been so sexy!  Seriously!  If you told me you could get a decent bottle of Champagne for under $10 and have it be *really* good….like just the right amount of bubbles, small ones, close together, distributed throughout the drink with no bite or sourness, then put me to bed, dear friend!  I am *all* about that!

So when I was browsing over on one of my favorite blogs (All Bower Power – links to the right), I just couldn’t help noticing her Crafts Page and all of the fun (and cheap) art pieces she’d been working on.  Since I have more time than money these days, why not give them a whirl?!?  In particular, this simple art project had me salivating like Pavlov’s Dogs that I simply had to give it a whirl, especially since it involved ZERO artistic ability!  Champagne on a Beer Budget, anyone?

Basically, she took inspiration from this $200 number at Z Gallerie (the Gallery where good looks can be debt-inducing):

750453943Cute, huh?!  So Katie at All Bower Power actually put something together in Microsoft Paint (yes, PAINT!  I learned how to use a mouse on this program in art class growing up!!).  Instead of putting together signs from NYC, she did them from her home states!  How clever is that?!  Heck, I can do that!  And here is what I came up with:


Seriously, anybody can do this project it is SO simple!  The hardest part is actually sitting in front of a computer screen with Google Maps in one window and Paint in the other.  I just sat down and took our two home states (previous and current) and picked cities, landmarks, and parks that would show up on a map and inserted them into Paint and voila!  Easy-peasy artwork for close to free it’s disgusting!  In fact, the priciest part of this whole art project were the frames – and at $4.99 apiece from Ikea, I can handle that!

So here’s the Price Breakdown:

  • Artwork:  FREE!  Save for the hour or so it took me to construct it in Paint
  • Frames:  $4.99 RIBBA frames from Ikea (at the *new* low 2010 price)
  • Print Job: $1.00 for 4 copies from Impact Printing here in Beaverton, OR
  • TOTAL: $10.98!

And the fun thing about this project is that it would make such a cute gift idea, too!  Especially for a couple who are getting married and have lived in a few different places!  And it’s not just limited to States – you could do it for two cities, two universities, two schools, two countries, etc, etc.  It’s a classy and understated way to acknowledge not only the written word, but geography, too!

Champagne…on a beer budget!  Love’s it!

Happy Labor Day, everyone!  BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG project here at Tell’er All About It this weekend – stay tuned!  HUGE-ola, so can’t wait to show you the results next week!



Before & After Bliss: Part 1

Remember this sad little photo that I posted last Friday to whet your whistle?  I promised a makeover for this corner and I’m going to deliver on that promise today!


So what is the makeover, you ask?  Could it be the depressing dog?  The sad dated chair with an oh-so-1980s Cosby Show vibe?  The really grotesque bookcase behind said sad dated chair?  So what’s it gonna be?  The long and short of it is that the dog stays (sad or un-sad – in Maggie’s world there is no happy, just un-sad), the chair is evolving (perhaps to another location), and the bookcase is…well….not really “us”.  The knotty pine look definitely does not work with our more updated style (which is also still evolving).  Since it was a hand-me-down from my Grandmother that she stored in the attic for years, I figured she wouldn’t be too upset if I re-purposed it to fit with our more contemporary style!  So here’s the tale!

First off, the piece needed a good sanding just to clear off the loads and loads of lacquer that were on that piece – mad props to my Grandfather for building the piece, which we figured out through this makeover process when we had to take it apart (more on that later).  If you don’t have a sander, don’t fret – a little bit of elbow grease and just some sandpaper from the hardware store will do just fine!  You can totally see the knotty pine details in the photo below – oh, yawn!


Next comes primer – and I’m figuring out that for pieces of furniture such as the one above and/or larger pieces, spray paint does wonders!  Primer doesn’t have to be pretty, it just needs to stick, so we just slathered that primer on there until we had the guts of it mostly covered.  I did use a brush-on primer for this step, which worked just as well.


Once I had the primer on, I could start to visualize what the piece would look like with color on it and get a feel for whether or not this makeover was a good or a bad idea.  So what’s the verdict?  Wait for it…..wait for it…..I *hate* it!  Actually, I took one look at it and realized that it looked like a cheap-o standard college dorm room bookcase that you could pick up anywhere for $10.  That was not at all what I had in mind when I started this process!  Boo hoo!  Soooooo…..I took some inspiration from some of my favorite (but too pricey) furniture stores/catalogs a la Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs (henceforth to be referred to as Ballard-Barn) .  Imitation is the purest form of flattery, right?  Let’s go shopping in our minds, shall we?

Perhaps we could get inspiration from a piece like this from Ballard Designs, which retails for $799 (no joke!).  This lovely model comes in three chic colors in names like “Rubbed Black”, “Antique Cherry”, and “Tuscan Cream”…doesn’t that just sound appetizing?  Too much money, but boy does that back panel look pretty!:


Or a piece a little bit more similar in size and shape from Pottery Barn in the form of this, which is a whopping $449 (say what?!).  Sadly, this one only comes in “Antique White”, but it’s essentially the same exact shape of the one we have!:

Bookcase 2

I wasn’t about to go out and spend close to a grand for a bookcase – are you kidding me??  So the hubs and I took a little inspiration from Ballard-Barn and decided to give the dated back panel a bit of a facelift with some beadboard.  We ripped off the back and replaced it with a $15 pack of beadboard from Lowe’s (cut to size, of course), painted it Muslin Wrap from Valspar (in a semi-gloss finish), and voila!  Brand new and updated bookcase a la Ballard-Barn.  And no lame t-shirt as souvenir from this tour de force, just a bona fide updated, yet classic, bookshelf to boot!


*Much* better, right?  Don’t forget massive amounts of polyurethane that we spray painted on as well!


Well, if you think that’s something, then have we got a doozy for you on our next post (hence, the Part 1 in the subject line).  No secret giveaways this time, but let’s just say it was a much bigger project that took a much bigger bite out of our weekend and our backs with even bigger results!  Stay tuned!!

big, Big, BIG!