The Summer Duldrums

Summer is quickly fading and its back to the grind for Madame. It’s very strange. While I was not working as much this summer (and I have been BROKE!) I also found myself creatively bankrupt. Just nothing left. Maybe I’ve been depressed. I have so many projects to work on, so many things I want to try but just could not seem to motivate myself. I’m disappointed with myself. I had a golden opportunity to really create with the extra time on my hands and I couldn’t even tell you what I did. I wasted time.

Here is hoping I can get my mojo back as September lurks around the corner.


Madame Fabulous


“The Chair! Give ‘Em the Chair!”

I couldn’t help but insert a quote from one of my favorite movies: “Shrek”. I’m such a throwback. But on to more fabulous things!

I’m always on the look out for a good deal, even if it is something that will take work. It’s all about the end product and seeing the hidden potential. Which is why, when hunting in my favorite thrift shop, The Red Door Thrift Shop, here in St.Johns, FL, I came across a wing chair and ottoman…


Dayummm. That is one horrible shade of purulent pink. I think at one time it was mauve, but whatever it was, it is HIDEOUS now. But…I see some potential. And at 50% off, I get the chair and ottoman for $20. Madame has arrived!

Now what to do with it? I’ve done some pretty sweet no-sew slipcovers but I wanted to try something different. All over Pinterest there are references to painting upholstery with chalk paint such as this gem:

Since I have been reading so much about chalk paint it was high time that Madame waded into these murky depths and gave it a go. But have you SEEN how much chalk paint costs? Oh HAYULL no. Of course, I look for hacks and I came across the most epic site that reviews the most popular DIY chalk paint recipes:

I’m poor and thrifty so I decided to make my own chalk paint using latex paint I had on hand, and only needed to pick up a carton of Plaster of Paris and soft creme wax (more on that later).

I adapted the recipe a touch from the Old Things New Blog and used the following:

1 c. latex paint (I used Valspar in Antique White)

2 1/2 TBSP Plaster of Paris

2 1/2 TBSP Water

This is scaleable, meaning that I doubled and tripled as necessary to make more paint. Here is how I did it:

1) Mix the Plaster of Paris and water together first until there are no lumps.

2) Add the mixture to 1c. of paint. and mix thoroughly to eliminate any lumps.

3) Dilute the mixture by 30% with water. Mix.

4) Clean the fabric, then spray with water from a spray bottle to moisten the fabric (not drench!). Apply the chalk paint liberally. I used an artist brush for the piping and folds of fabric.

5) Allow the paint to dry completely. Here in FL, I could recoat in just a couple of hours.

6) In between coats, sand the fabric with 220 grit sandpaper. This reduces the stiffness and any surface anomalies.

7) The first couple of coats, you will look at it and go “nooooooo!”, but this is okay, have faith. The first few coats are to soak into the fabric and if you are working with a very porous or dark fabric, it will take more coats.

Here is what I had to work with after 3 coats:


Pretty scary and I almost panicked. But Madame doesn’t scare easily…

8) Some users reduce the dilution of the chalk paint with subsequent coats, but I did not. I simply sanded in between coats and applied enough layers to ensure adequate coverage.

9) I painted the legs of the chair and ottoman with Valspar flat black paint for a nice contrast.

10) Lastly, I applied a layer of soft wax to the chalk paint. Because this paint is more porous, it needs to be sealed. Polyurethane is relatively inflexible and discolors when exposed to sunlight. A wax is recommended for chalk paint and while good ‘ol Annie Sloan has her version, might I reiterate that I am POOR and won’t empty my wallet on something I can get inexpensively elsewhere. I got mine from Home Depot:

I am waiting for the Annie Sloan Army to be banging down my door like Avon from hell. But I digress.

11) I applied a light coat of wax to the whole chair and ottoman, then buffed with a soft cloth. The result? A completely different piece of furniture that feels like leather or at least a textured vinyl. It is not stiff or uncomfortable but soft. A little sticky, not unlike a leather chair in Florida so pretty standard for a humid climate. This chair sits really nicely and looks amazeballs in my reading nook.

I absolutely love this chair. It is comfy, looks fab and were I to sell it, I know I could make some coin gurl, so trust and believe I will be doing it for dough next time. Here are the results:



Needless to say, I’m going to try this out on some other pieces of furniture. I am working on a HIDEOUS circa 1990’s Florida style dining room chair that should be taken out back and shot…but let’s see what I can do with it. I have to say chalk paint is a fun medium and its true, you don’t seem to need to prime before painting which saves time and resources. More pieces are in the works!

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Drop me a line!

Not One to be “Boxed” In – Upcycling Boxes

Keurigs are wonderful. Gone are the days of setting up a pot of coffee at the crack of dawn then waiting an excruciating 15 minutes before I can start my coffee IV. With a Keurig I can have my attitude adjustment in just a couple of minutes and even change up flavors in between cups. You just can’t beat the convenience! But what a waste. K-cups and their boxes are huge wastes of resources. I’m currently using the used K-cups as seedling starters (that’s another post!), but what about the boxes? Upcycling it is.

I can always use more boxes for storage or filing. Using K-Cup boxes and other boxes (from Brie cheese for example) or plain gift boxes, I paint and decoupage them into something fabulous. Pictured is a set of three boxes. One is a K-Cup box, the round one is a Brie box and the third was a box from an old puzzle that was missing pieces (have plans for that too!). Pretty simple and elegant!

Upcycled Solar Garden Chandelier

Upcycled Solar Garden Chandelier

I love light, especially lights in the gardens and walkways. I have been doing these chandeliers for the better part of three years now and keep coming up with more intricate patterns and designs. It’s really quite simple and there is always an abundance of old lights at thrift shops and the junk yards. Check it out!

1) Disassemble the chandelier, removing as much of the wiring as possible. I took pictures of the disassembled and assembled light for reference.

2) Primer the light with Rustoleum or Valspar primer, especially if this will be outside exposed to the elements.

3) Paint and embellish however you choose. I usually spray paint with a base coat, then using acrylic paint I create the design. I have glued rhinestones, added glitter…whatever suits your style.

4) Where the light bulbs used to be, slide solar path lights over the socket. If the socket is too wide, I have simply broke them off, leaving the support for the socket in place.

5) Using an indoor/outdoor adhesive, glue the solar light in place.

6) When the glue is set and you are satisfied, hand the piece outside to catch some rays and enjoy!

Paper Bowls? That Tears It!

Paper Bowls? That Tears It!

I saw on Pinterest (of course!) some cool looking paper bowls that contributors created. Some are cute and some I was shocked to see being sold on Etsy for $60 or more. For paper bowls? Sorry darlings, but Madame won’t pay for something she can make herself just as easily.

I started with homemade decoupage medium which I tinted with acrylic paint for an antique look. Using a glass kitchen bowl, I covered the outside with plastic wrap to protect it, then decoupaged paper onto the plastic. My base layer paper was tissue paper from a recent store purchase which ordinarily would have been tossed or somehow reused later. I decoupaged ten layers of the base paper, allowing each layer to dry. Try not to use a decoupage medium that is too liquid or it will take forever to dry!

For the toile design, I used a combination of decoupage papers from Michaels but also printed out screen shots of wallpapers and other toile design items using a laser printer. For obvious reasons, don’t use an inkjet! After arranging my toile patterns I applied several layers of varnish to seal the bowl. To give it an old distressed look, I rubbed yellow ochre and burnt umber acrylic paint into the surface using a dry cloth. After another layer of varnish, my bowl was ready to go. Not bad for my first one.

The bowl is surprisingly durable too – I can’t wait to try some other designs and see what else I can come up with.

Can the Ugly Canisters!

Can the Ugly Canisters!

I was so frustrated trying to find kitchen canisters that were my style or not going to break the bank. For the really nice canisters I was looking at at least $75. The really stylish canisters I found at Hobby Lobby weren’t even food safe (decorative only). What’s the point of that anyway? So you can have a nice kitchen filled with unusable things? Pass. So here is my DIY solution: upcycle old ugly ones with designs that suit my aesthetic. I could have hand painted them but that was going to be too labor intensive, so instead I decoupaged them!

On the right side of the photo is what the canisters looked like before they got fabbed out. Here is all you need to do:

1) find yourself a set of cheap, ugly canisters at your nearby thrift shop. I picked my set up at the Red Door Thrift Store in St.Johns FL for less than $10. Score!

2) Wash them thoroughly then clean them with Windex to remove any remaining kitchen grease.

3) You can primer them with a latex primer to block out any underlying designs.

4) I found some great decoupage papers at @MichaelsStores which suited my needs. Don’t forget those discount coupons!

5) Trim your decoupage paper to fit your canister then generously apply decoupage medium to the paper. Stick to the canister and roll out bubbles carefully.

6) apply several layers of decoupage medium to the canister over the next couple of days, I applied six layers.

7) For my canisters, I painted the lids, then applied several coats of urethane to protect the paint job.

8) Once dry, apply several coats of urethane or decoupage varnish to the canister to seal it and protect it. To clean periodically, wipe clean with a damp sponge. Don’t submerge them in water or put them in the dishwasher!

There is so much you can do with canisters between decoupage, stencils and labels. Get creative and make your kitchen FABULOUS!

No Sew Slip Covers for the Sewing Impaired!

No Sew Slip Covers for the Sewing Impaired!

I make no secret about the fact that sewing machines and I hate each other. I mean, seriously: I can fix a copy machine, do plumbing, electrical work, basic carpentry and I can’t figure out a damned sewing machine. But I’m wicked with a glue gun and pins. After finding some ideas on Pinterest I wanted to try my hand at making slip covers for a thrift store sofa. After lots of tucking, gathering, pinning, swearing here is the finished product. The gathers and most of the pins are in back, hidden from view. Here is what I used:

1) a queen sized sheet set in an off-white color from Target.
2) Three yards of a fab French script print fabric from @HobbyLobbyStore – and I saved a bundle with my weekly coupon!
3) a ton of safety pins
4) scissors
5) a piece of furniture you want to cover. My sofa, which I happily paid $20 for from the Red Door Thift Store in St.Johns FL, was my guinea pig for this project.
Its all about the drape. I draped the sheets over the sofa, furiously tucking, bunching and gathering the fabric until it was well-contoured on the sofa. I cut the sheets where need be to give some extra “give” in areas like the arms.

For the cushions, I simply wrapped them like Christmas presents and pinned the edges.

I’ve since done this with a two loveseats and I’m pretty pleased. When I am done with the look, I can just remove the fabric and use it elsewhere. To save yourself even more money, find sheets at your local thrift store to use a fabric.

Have any questions, ideas or tips? Leave a comment and thanks!

Table Turned Ottoman

Table Turned Ottoman

Create a multifunctional piece of room decor by upcycling an ugly thrift store table into a table ottoman. All you need is:
1) an ugly table (I picked mine up at the St.Vincent DePaul Thrift Shop in St.Augustine FL for $10!)
2) fabric – I picked up a nice piece of heavy material from @JoAnn_Stores with my discount coupon (score!)
3) quilt batting and foam cushion for the seat (also from @JoAnn_Stores)
4) paint of your choice. I used Kilz II latex primer and Valspar flat paint of contrasting colors from @Lowes
5) staple gun

I chose to shabby chic the table to create a worn distressed look. From start to finish, it took a weekend to paint, distress and cover. The result is a combination table/ottoman that sits beautifully, is sturdy, and can be used as a serving table. FABULOUS!

and then Madame Fabulous was born…

One of the most common questions I get (right after “what planet are you from?!) is: who is Madame Fabulous? Simply put, Madame Fabulous is my alter ego, my muse, the diva of DIY, the maven of fierce and fabulous living. No shrinking violet, Madame is a cross between Martha Stewart and Alexis (Colby Carrington Dexter) from “Dynasty”: she’ll serve you tea and “T”, will cut a bitch AND give you a custom designed fashion band-aid with a glass of wine.

I can’t take credit for naming Madame, that honor goes to one of my oldest and dearest friends (and for all intents and purposes, my brother) David. Some years back, he and his hubby Matt were hosting a dinner party and I helped out a touch with the orchestration of it. I designed napkin rings with ribbon and thrift store fashion jewelry. When asked about the napkin rings, David gestured to me and said (I’m paraphrasing) “ask Madame Fabulous over there” or something like that. And it stuck. The smart, sassy and wickedly creative queen inside finally had a name and a voice for which we are both eternally grateful.

This is really her page, her voice and her opportunity to really shine. The big dream is to host a DIY or HGTV show unlike any other. And maybe someday that will happen – until then, this blog is all about our adventures. Come along – it’s gonna be FABULOUS!


Madame Fabulous (and Jay)