Goodwill Archives - Go Haus Go - A DIY and Design Blog by Emily May

Am I done with thrift store shopping?

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I’ve noticed a certain trend happening with my home decor shopping behaviors. I’ve seemed to have abandoned thrift stores as a source all together. This came as a shock to me (for awhile, especially last year, I seemed to shop exclusively for home goods at area Goodwills) and I’ve done a lot of thinking as to why this may be the case.

My income hasn’t changed at all (so it’s not like I now have the dough to pay retail price on new items), I still love painting old furniture, I love the hunt for a good deal and I really love the idea of unique pieces big box stores can’t churn out.

So what gives?

I think it may have to do with the contents of my basement “warehouse.” A concurrent project is the organization of that space (because OMG, it’s BAD you guys) and I’ve been slowly surveying the type of inventory I’ve collected over the years. While doing so, I’ve noticed that nearly everything I’ve purchased at a Goodwill (or even Craigslist) has ended up in the basement, not likely to be used again.

Here are some of the thrifted items now taking up space in the basement…

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After (and now wedged between storage bins in the basement)

I loved the modern shape of these stools, so I brought them home and gave them some DIY love. They’ve gone unused ever since. Not because I don’t love them, but I don’t have room for them.

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After (and now living in basement land)

The orange mini trunk was relegated to the basement to make room for party seating and it hasn’t been brought up since.

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Before… putrid frames nearly 40 years old

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And the frame project was based on my desire to cheaply frame these botanical prints I had purchased. I must have been enchanted by the good thrift deal because they’re entirely not my style, even painted black. I’m more of a slim-with-a-straight-edge-frame kind of person (like the birch frame the Smile print is in).

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And after….

And this project. One of the more popular projects on the blog – because it’s a campaign-style piece and because I was able to successfully paint laminate (laminate bubbles if you’re not careful). But it’s in my basement. I’ve actually made moves to sell it on Craigslist and to friends, but this is one I can’t part with. I do love it, but alas, it lives in the basement. I should have grabbed its pair but I didn’t have room in the car. Hindsight, right?

This list of things bought could go on and on.

So what’s going on here? Why do all these thrift store items, even beautified, sit unwanted in the basement? I think it’s three main things:

1.) I love a good deal—thrift store or wherever. And when it comes to thrift stores, good deals are a-plenty! It seems the good deal takes priority over me actually really liking what I’m buying. I’m swooned by the cheap-o price tag, not the actual item!

2.) It’s hard not to be enchanted by all the thrift store DIY happening in blog land. Thrift store DIYing is a rite of passage for any home blogger! But for awhile, I jumped on to this trend without intention, buying things to makeover (and bonus! blog feature!) and not buying things I actually needed and could be used in my life. Womp.

3.) Thrift store items sometimes acted as a substitute for the items I really wanted that I couldn’t afford at the time. It seemed like a good idea to makeover something to more closely align with my dream item, but at the end of the day? Yep, still want the dream item.

So, all of this to say, I’ve been avoiding thrift stores and plan to do so for awhile. I’m just too easily swayed by my DIY genes to make over something ANYTHING! Especially something cheap! And guess what happens? It ends up in my basements a few weeks later.

Does this happen to anyone else? Write me in the comments!





The house, lately.

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There’s so many things I’ve done, added, switched, revised to the house that I haven’t yet shown here. The bigger projects generally get more facetime on the blog (before! after!) but to be honest, the majority of what I do in my own home is move furniture, add art, remove said art, hang different art, switch furniture, etc. I tweak it until I love it. I’m sure many of you do the same – it’s an endless cycle!

The last time I shared the bedroom it looked like this:

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And now, after some furniture re-arrangement and shuffling, it looks like this:

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A couple of things happened:

  • The office makeover currently in progress meant the MALM dresser that once resided there got the boot to the bedroom. It replaced the bench/chair on the left side of the bedroom
  • The drop cloth curtains now correctly frame the king-sized bed (before they were still squished on a too-short curtain rod). I just inserted another extension to the curtain rod to extend the entire thing
  • I found a pair of DwellStudio Draper Stripe king pillow cases online at the Design Public outlet and snatched them up quick. I love the striped pillows peeking out under the bedding. I’ll eventually purchase the remaining sheet set, if I can ever get up the guts to drop a small fortune on bed sheets (yes, we registered for it)
  • The cowhide rug was re-located to the living room
  • The bench in front of the bed will eventually be re-located to the basement for its retirement (any takers?) but for now it stays because that’s where I throw all the pillows before sleep
The only issue now with this room is that it with the addition of the MALM dresser next to the MALM bed, it is looking like an IKEA showroom. It’s not visible in the photos, but there is also a huge IKEA pendant hanging from the ceiling. Gah. Not good. I will slowly fix that, and the folks at PANYL are going to help me with de-IKEA-ing the MALM dresser. Details coming soon…

They are subtle changes, yes, but they make me happy. Everything is slowly looking more balanced.

Here’s another angle of the bedroom changes. This was the bedroom before Aaron brought over the king-sized bed frame:

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And here is the same angle as of this weekend:

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The dresser is now home to Aaron’s record player and stereo system. It was a compromise. I’m not crazy about all the wires and how much space it takes up, but he let me put a lamp on it so I am a happy lady.

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The lamp is so fun. It is from Target (I think from the Spring) but I got it at Goodwill for $10. (A Goodwill near me purchases retired Target items directly from Target, so nearly everything shows up there if I wait a few months. For locals, it’s the Goodwill in Bellevue, KY.) The shade is also from Target a million years ago – I picked it out of my basement stash. I almost forgot to mention the most important thing – the rams head! Another Target item (god, I need help) but new from the Nate Berkus collection. I am an Aries so I had to have it. :)

That’s enough of the bedroom I think. Let’s talk living room. The last time you saw this room, there was a lot of stuff going on. Mint green door, striped rug, striped dog bed. Brown couch.

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Now it looks like this:

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  • The couch is now featuring a blue/gray cover. The brown was too much against the black wall I have in this room
  • Some new pillows. The yellow one is another Goodwill/Target find for $7 and on the lime green sofa is another Target pillow and the ubiquitous sheepskin pillow from West Elm
  • I’ve mentioned the ikat pouf here and it may be my favorite item in the room. It holds all the remotes while I lay on the sofa like a sloth
  • The cowhide rug that once resided in the bedroom is now here. I was getting sick of the striped rug (it’s the West Elm zig zag) and that now lives at Aaron’s house for staging purposes

Here’s probably the most-changed angle of them all. Here is the living room with a view of the front door. The last time I showed this angle it looked like this:

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Ugh. I hated those black frames and those flowers so much. I learned I am not a chunky black frame person – the skinnier the frame the better for me.

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Sooo much better. Still a work in progress (I need new pillows and a better throw) but it looks more me. That art is from Aaron’s house and I brought it over to mine. I’m still getting used to having a naked lady on my wall but the colors work so well with my house and the black frame is right up my alley.

MOST IMPORTANTLY – NO MORE MINT GREEN DOOR. I loved the color, but it just wasn’t working with the rest of the house. It wasn’t working with the lime green sofa. Good riddance! Aaron was so happy to be rid of it. Plus, the power of a bright white door with oil-rubbed bronze hardware is an addiction I couldn’t deny any longer.

Phew. A lot of little tweaks and switches. The house looks so different to me and I think I only spent maybe $100 for all of the changes. Everything was Goodwill, super discount or something we already owned. It doesn’t take a lot to tweak a space.

All of this is a great example of how the decorating process works for me. I’m learning what I really like and how that intersects with what Aaron likes (this will be his home too, after all) and it simply just takes time.

xo, emily

Window Shopping at Goodwill

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I’ve been stopping by Goodwill a little more frequently than usual (up to once a week versus once every two weeks) to keep an eye out for possible wedding decor, but in the meantime, I keep running into all these great things. The key to Goodwill shopping is to NOT accept anything for its face value, but instead look at what it could become. Here are a couple things with a ton of potential.

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(Above) You already know what I’m going to say about this piggy bank. Spray paint it white!!!! Like this…


source: Decor8

(Above) So sweet. I’m also still a sucker for ampersands.

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(Above) I spied this little votive holder in the knick-knack section. I love the quatrafoil cut-outs. I also love it because I already own its twin (from this post)

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(Above) Now that I see this picture, I think it may be high time to start decorating for the new season! D’uh!

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(Above) This brass regency-style stool had me at hello. It’s very Emily Henderson. She would probably recover the top cushion in a peacock velvet blue. Yum. I would place the stool in this very room…

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source: the room (and coffee table!) designed by Jan Showers

(Above) Now that is Hollywood Regency I can handle. Maybe it’s because of all the white. How good would the Goodwill stool look in this room!?

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(Above) At $35, this Goodwill lamp is pricey but I’m still wishing I would have grabbed it. It would be so cute to give as a gift for a kids room, after I make the lamp look like this…

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source: Pottery Barn Kids

Do you spy the elephant lamp? Gah! I should have grabbed the Goodwill version. :(

Happy Goodwill shopping!!! I’ll probably go there today on my lunch break! See you there?

xo, emily


Down with the Boob! (or Replacing Fan Light with DIY Burlap Lamp Shade)

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I’m constantly in a war against boob lights. I’ve got four boob lights still remaining in my house (two inside, two outside) and I’m pleased to say we are now down to only three.

Here’s today’s specific boob light conquest:

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This one is a double whammy because it’s also a ceiling fan! And you know how I dislike ceiling fans. In this room (the guest room) a ceiling fan is a necessary evil. This is where I fold all my laundry and I need a cool breeze to keep me from blowing my stack over a pair of missing socks. :)

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(Above) I found this $5 1970’s lamp shade at Goodwill and originally bought it thinking I would turn it in to a pendant light. I changed my mind quickly when I noticed the fixture on the shade (that part that keeps it screwed to the light fixture) was perfectly poised to attach to the bolt at the bottom of my fan’s boob light. I’ll explain that in a picture later…

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(Above) I knew I wanted to cover the shade with fabric (like I’ve done before) but I needed to remove that ugly, dusty trim first. Luckily, it came over with just a few tugs without any harm to the shade itself. (Also… the above picture is a good picture of the shade mounting fixture. It dips down in to the shade just perfectly creating a ring for my ceiling fixture to screw to)

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(Above) Here’s the trim-less shade. Ready to be covered!

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(Above) After trying out several different fabrics (patterns, solids) I finally decided on burlap. I’ve had a bag full of burlap in my basement for about a year now. It actually came from a tree (from my uncle’s nursery no less!) we helped my dad plant in the front yard. I love free stuff! I cut a haphazard rectangle out of the burlap – enough to cover both the perimeter and width of the shade itself. I “measured” by laying the shade on the floor and cutting around it. Nothing too scientific. Suge was my helper.

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(Above) To fix the burlap to the shade, I used my handy hot glue gun. I added a string of hot glue around the top of the shade, added burlap and kept going. Once the top was done, I started on the bottom, making sure my fabric was nice and tight. Once I got to the end I was ready to make my seam, which is really what the above picture is trying to show. :)

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(Above) Once my fabric was fully attached to the shade, I needed to do a little cutting around the shade hardware itself, to keep my fabric laying as flat as possible. I just cut along the rod, then used hot glue to glue down the cut edges.

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(Above) Here’s a quick look at how the shade is attached to the fan itself. I used the finishing screw previously used on the boob light to keep the shade screwed into place. I also was able to use the same screwing rod (hehe) from the boob light for this. Worked like a charm.

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(Above) Final step! I used my X-acto knife to cut the jagged edge to form a nice, clean line along the edges of the shade.

As a reminder, here’s the boob light in all its glory:

And now!!!


It looks super groovy with the light on! It’s amazing what the shade does in terms of light versus that stupid etched glass dome thing.

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Ahhhhhh… much better. And it cost me a total of $5!

I’m off to work! Have a great day everyone!

xo, emily

p/s: I drew the winner for the EasyPrintsCanvas giveaway! Was it you?


A gift from my sister.

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My sister, Julie, gave me an awesome Christmas present and ultimately, a project for the house.

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It’s a bar cabinet! Even better, it’s a bar cabinet with a story behind it. Back in November, my parents, Aaron and I (plus the dogs) drove to Chicago to spend a long weekend with my sister. While there, we went to Goodwill. I love going to Goodwill in new places because I always seem to find good things. Well, this Goodwill was no exception because I found this bar cabinet and my sister found a side table. Only one problem with my find: there was no room in the car for the trip home. I accepted the fact that I wouldn’t get it and went home.

As you can probably guess, my parents and sister orchestrated a big vehicle switch and transportation plan that brought this bar cabinet to me on Christmas morning. I was so surprised!

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It’s extremely sturdy with great details. I love the extra table top that slides out on top. It’s definitely 1950’s or 1960’s. We’ve been looking for a manufacturer name or some sort of clue into its origin but no luck so far.

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I love the little brass details on the knobs and legs. I’ll be restoring the brass with Barkeeper’s Friend, using the same process I used on the green side table.

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I plan to use it to store liquor (lord knows I have a few bottles!) but I’ll also be using it as a stow-a-way for all the computer bags/work bags and handbags that currently are dropped off on the kitchen table. It’ll be nice to finally get the clutter out of my sight. :)

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These holders are confusing me because I can’t figure out what they hold. Wine glasses seem awkward and wine bottles don’t fit. I may remove them unless I figure out a handy way to use the slots.

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I will be doing some refinishing/painting but I’m not sure how much just yet. The top finish is damaged near the front and the overall color isn’t the best. I’d love to hear suggestions on what to do with it! I know a glossy white would look awesome over the whole thing with the brass features, maybe paired with a dark stained top or vise versa. Either way – it’ll be a nice addition to my home!

Also, if you have any idea of the manufacturer or the type of style this is called, I would love to hear from you! Leave me a note in the comments.

– emily

p/s: I just noticed the January issue of Elle Decor has a feature on bar cabinets. Bar cabinets must be on our minds!

p/p/s: Anyone else finding it particularly difficult to remove Christmas decorations? They make everything feel so cozy I hate to take them down.

How-To: Painting laminate furniture.

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This is the follow-up tutorial to last week’s side table makeover post. Make sure you scroll down for the color name reveal. You’ll love it. :)

It used to be that I’d come across a piece of furniture covered in laminate (basically like a high density fiberboard made to look like wood) and I’d sigh and move on. The rule has always been “you cannot paint laminate” and I was never willing to prove/disprove that theory.

Until I came across this campaign-style side table at Goodwill. Suddenly I felt more determined to figure it out.

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I hope I did this the right way. It was surprisingly drama-free and similar to how I’ve painted other pieces. It’s been a week and the paint is holding up strong.

First, I removed all the hardware. The brackets were attached with small brass finishing nails – I just used a screwdriver to wiggle them loose. The drawer pull was attached with screws. I removed that too.

I don’t have a picture of this part, but next I used Barkeeper’s Friend to polish the brackets and pulls. It does wonders for restoring tarnished metals. I was happy I didn’t have to spray paint them a faux brass.

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The exposed screw holes were plugged with toothpicks so re-installation / finding screw holes was easier at the end.

Next, sanding. Sanding laminate is a tricky art because it has to be done lightly, yet thoroughly. I sanded each surface using a fine grit sandpaper, sanding until the little flecks of fiberboard started to show. The point of sanding here is to give your primer a better change of adhering to the furniture surface.

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Prime time! I used Rust-Oleum spray primer in gray. I love this stuff. It dries crazy fast, which is perfect for my impatience. I think I waited just an hour before moving on to the paint.

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Oh yes, the green that I received so many lovely comments on is actually John Deere Green. The spray paint is an enamel meant for farm equipment, or in my case, a little side table. I didn’t want to share the color in the previous post to avoid any initial bias ;). Aaron was immediately like, “John Deere Green? Really?” but after seeing it on the table he was sold.

Why John Deere Green? One, I was limited in color choices and this was by far the best one I saw on the shelves. Two, I also wanted an enamel, knowing the laminate would need something extra durable and strong. I also love how hard and glossy enamel dries – it’s my favorite thing to use on furniture.

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It took only 2.5 coats and two cans of enamel, needing 1.5 day to complete. I waited only a day to put the hardware back on (probably should have waited longer) and 3 days to add the books and drawer. I’m so in love with this little John Deere side table.

A big thanks to Gwen at Bold Abode for making this her BOLD pick of the week.

Another big thanks to Emily (great name!) over at Emily Macleoud for making this an Upcycled Wednesday feature.

– emily

p/s: On a completely unrelated note, I am looking for a red/poppy blazer and red/poppy dress. Anyone know any affordable options?

Sad turned happy side table [Before/After].

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Update: Be sure to check out the tutorial on painting laminate furniture, using this side table, here.

When the big floor plan switch takes place over holiday break, I’ll have room for a side table. I’ve been anxious to get started on the whole process so I went and shopped all my usual haunts for a good side table – Goodwill, St. Vincent dePaul and Craigslist. With no luck. Boo.

And then just before Halloween I was at Goodwill meandering the 50% off sale when I found this sad little campaign-style nightstand. (For those unaware, campaign-style furniture is furniture marked with metal, usually brass, brackets in each corner.)

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What a sad little thing. Beat up. Laminate wood. Dingy brass. Smelly. Emily Snuffer

So of course it was love at first sight. And at $4 (it was 50% off furniture day) I couldn’t say no.

Things are looking up for this little table.

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And here’s proof that a nightstand doesn’t always have to sit next to a bed. This is going to be an awesome little side table in the new living room.

I’ll have all of the DIY details (painting laminate, colors I used, cost, etc.) next week. But for now, I’m going to enjoy my little green table.

– emily

p/s: If you can guess the name of the green spray paint used I will give you one billion internet points.

p/p/s: There’s only one way to find the stuff you want at Goodwill. You MUST go ALL.THE.TIME.


Two peacocks.

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On Friday I shared this post, talking about how I snagged some 1990’s-looking chairs from Goodwill for $4 each. After some sanding, spraying and reupholstering this weekend, the stools are looking much better. I took a risk with the fabric choice but it was totally worth it.

Here they were a few weeks ago, fresh out of Goodwill and on their way to my trunk:

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And the after:

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And because it doesn’t feel like an official “before and after” without a side-by-side shot, behold:

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My thought process was pretty simple for this project. The “before” frame was a very orange-y, outdated color. To fix this, I sanded everything down using 150 grit sandpaper and did two coats of oil-rubbed bronze spray paint (Rustoleum’s version is my favorite). The frame is looking very black in these photos but it really is a shimmery, deep brown.

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The reason I chose oil-rubbed bronze as my base color (versus a wood stain or a different color) was because I wanted something to complement the deep tones in the fabric itself.

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See what I mean? The deep color in the fabric is more of a navy, which I considered for the frame at one point, but I think using navy as my frame color would have made everything look cheap and a little too “matchy matchy.”

Before I forget, the fabric I used is Robert Allen’s Khandar Indigo, which some fabric lovers refer to as “the peacock.” The basis of this fabric is the ikat (pronounced eee-cot) style, but it’s obvious there are some cute little peacocks embedded into the design.

Do you see them?

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I mentioned above this fabric choice was risky. There are really two reasons for that – 1.) I’m still very, very new to fabric upholstery and choosing patterns that require perfect alignment can be very annoying and hard to figure out and 2.) It’s a large scale pattern for a not very large area. A safer choice would have been a smaller, slightly busier pattern. After seeing them and living with them for a day or two now, I am in love and so very glad I took the risk.

I also mentioned last week I had no where to put these stools. I also have no blue anywhere in my house other than these. For now these chairs are living in limbo and in the meantime, until they find their permanent home, Aaron discovered they make awesome laptop stands.

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So there you have it. 450+ words on the big stool (I still hate that word) makeover. If you’re loving the fabric, but not digging the blue, there are many other colors. Young House Love recently put the same style but a different colorway in their dining room.

And for a quick budget breakdown, I paid $8 for the chairs, $15 for two cans of spray paint and $25 for the fabric. Everything else (like sandpaper) I had on hand.  That comes to a grand total of $24 per chair. Not too shabby for new-to-me stools with custom fabric. I also saved a bit on the fabric (normally $39.99/yard) with Joann’s 40% off sale, which is still going on!

All photos taken by Aaron May for Go, Haus, Go!

– emily

p/s: Try to ignore the screw sticking out of the bottom of one of the chairs. It needs to be drilled in and my underdeveloped arm muscles aren’t powerful enough to do it. Also ignore the piles of laundry and general mess in the last photo :)

p/p/s: As I was writing this post, Katy Perry’s song, Peacock, was running through my head. For those of you who know the lyrics, you can imagine the type of entertainment it provided.


Chairs from Goodwill.

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Last week during Goodwill’s 50% off furniture day, I spotted these stools. As you can see they made it to the parking lot and eventually into the trunk of my car. At only 4 bones a piece after the discount, it was hard to say no.

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They are super 1990’s at the moment, with the terrible fabric (“Geneva Green”) and the light-colored wood. The shape of these (very boxy with tight angles) is what captured my attention and I knew they’d be a perfect candidate for my second upholstery project (the first is when Andrea and I made her upholstered headboard for her bedroom makeover). These suckers are also very heavy and very sturdy. Also, one chair still had its original price tag which was fun to discover.

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Back in the 90’s, at $59.99, these were Kohl’s-expensive little chairs! I love that the price tag stayed on the bottom of one of the chairs for almost two decades. Fantastic.

One thing I must confess – I have no where to put these. I have plenty of high chairs (I hate saying “stools”…so gross sounding) for the kitchen table. Heck, my entire house is starting to look like a chair showroom with a grand total of 13 chairs now in 900 square feet of space (four in the kitchen, four in the Black room, two in the White Room and three in the basement). But, I figure I can use them to swap furniture in and out as needed. It also was a stroke of luck that these stools (yuck) happen to be same height (30”) as the Ikea Henriksdal’s currently in my kitchen, making swapping the chairs in there pretty easily. Wahoo!

Now you know what I’ll be doing this weekend. The question is – how should I fix them up? They are begging for a fresh coat of paint and new fabric, but what those are, I’m still trying to figure out. Any suggestions?

I’ll be back on Monday to share the makeover!

– emily

p/s: My facebook page is looking weak and it makes me want to do the ugly cry. Head over and like me – I tend to post mini updates and give a sneak peak into what’s coming on the blog. Puhlease!

p/p/s: What’s a different word for stool? Such an awful word, right up there with “slacks.” High chair? Pedestal chair? I feel like I’m forgetting one…

Instagram weekend (7/15 – 7/17).

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Hello friends! How was your weekend? My sister Julie came to visit me this weekend. I love hanging out with her!! She is moving to Illinois in about a month, so she’s right in the midst of apartment planning and getting everything ready for her first place. Lots of online shopping fun and planning. Aaron and I are heading up to Illinois in August to help put it all together and do some painting. Very exciting. (Aaron and I didn’t do an official vacation this year, so lots of little, low-key trips have been planned, including the trip to go see Jules. Miraculously, they still do feel like vacation!)

When Julie arrived on Saturday, Biggie and Suge didn’t waste any time getting comfy on her lap.
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As soon as Julie got here, we headed out to shop the big box stores and thrift stores. I didn’t grab a picture, but I got an awesome Polaroid camera (my second one) for $1.59 from Goodwill. Buying the camera for cheap makes purchasing the $40 film that much easier to swallow. I don’t know why I need two Polaroid cameras, but it felt necessary :)

Here’s Jules on the way to the stores:

I drooled over this chair’s ikat fabric (in lovely beige and jewel-y blue tones) at Home Goods. It was priced decent at $149.99 but given the amount of chairs (11, to be exact) already in my home, I couldn’t justify bring home another one. Boo.

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That night, after coming home with a new-to-me Polaroid camera and a $5 jersey V-neck from Old Navy, we headed to the Gateway Quarter in Over the Rhine downtown.

I spotted this sign while we waited for our table at SENATE to open up. I’m such a sucker for spelling “House” as “Haus” – hmmm… go figure! Ha.

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I snapped this pic of Julie and I while we were eating – you’ll notice I am continuing to indulge my obsession with stripes.

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And finally Sunday. Lazy yet productive, which turns out is possible. I took a nap after Julie left and got a head start editing photos for this week’s posts. While I worked, I listened to Aaron and a friend cheering on the USA in the World Cup. I wish I am more into sports but I really am not! I do, however, enjoy the very gaudy patriotic Budweiser can designs this time of year.

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Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

– emily