Decorating Decisions

Decorating IS decision making.  That's what it boils down to:  a series of decisions that, when answered, make a room.  Answer the design questions well and you have a beautiful and functional room.  Stumble when answering, and the room is less than perfect.  A lot of design bloggers, and not coincidentally these are the most popular and successful ones have definite answers on all design topics.  "Never use a dust ruffle" they pronounce or "All kitchens should have white cabinets and marble counter tops."  And readers, including myself, find some delight in that because we, at least partly, read design blogs for answers to design questions and the more definitive the answers the more comforting.
I, however, can never seem to see in these black and white terms.  I've finally come to accept and appreciate the fact that I always see everything, including design decisions, as "well, it depends on the situation."  No black and white for me, just shades of grey (hey, at least I'm in style now).  Anyway, the point to all that is that when you break it down to the essence, I'm usually struggling over the same types of decisions:  Style or substance?  Before or After?  Satisfy or optimize? 

I think the first two are self-explanatory, but a brief explanation of the last one.  I love to read Gretchen Reuben's blog "The Happiness Project.," and there she introduced me to the idea of decision makers as "satisfizers" or "optimizers."  In short, after making a determination of important factors, satisfizers are happy to accept the first solution that comes along that satisfies their criteria, while optimizers want to examine as many options as possible before making their decision.

Quick example:  Abby is a satisfizer, Constance is an optimizer.  Both want to purchase sofas;  the sofas need to be between 86"-92", slip covered in a washable white fabric, have down blend cusions, exposed legs, and cost between $2,500 and $3,500.  New Orleans has about 7 stores were something like this would be easily found and another 8 or so where you might find it.  As a satisfizer, if Abby walks into the very first store and finds a $3,000 sofa with all her criteria, she will whip out the checkbook, buy it on the spot, and move on.  Constance, on the other hand, would mark it as a possibility and then proceed to check the other 14 options to make sure that this sofa, was in fact, the BEST possible choice.  There are, of course, pluses and minuses to both behavior and most people fall somewhere in between the two types, or may vary type as to kind of decision.

The point of all this.  I'm struggling with some of these decisions right now.  First, I'm, especially as I get older and life seems to get more complicated, leaning more and more heavily to substance over style.  Don't get me wrong, how a room looks is important to me, but I'm less willing to dig the books I want to read out of artistically arranged piles topped with accessories, uncover a tv or other electronic before use, or claw through a pile of decorative, but useless pillows to get to the bed.  Second, while I like change, sometimes for change's sake, lately, I've had at least a little sadness over some of the things I've changed (though some of these changes were necessary).  And finally, while I'm much more of a satisfizer, some of my quick and dirty decisions have lead to the dissatisfaction I just mentioned.

Anyway, this has all come to a head in my dining room.  A while back it looked like this, and I loved it.

  However, things have changed:  I sold the painting (hurray:  cash.  booo:  though it was a customer reject (too small), I loved it.)  I can, and am planning to, paint another, but it won't be exactly the same.  Secondly, after some changes upstairs, I lost the hiding place for the table leaves, and was quite frankly getting tired of hauling them out so frequently as well as fearing that such frequent hauling out would end up in damage.  Therefore, since I had enough room, I've decided to keep the leaves end, changing the table from a near round to an oval.  It's not a huge difference (the leaves are small), and the room is oddly enough shaped that the change in table shape doesn't throw anything else off, or at least no more than before.  But 4 chairs at a longer table looked a little awkward, so when a set of 4 chairs that we loved went on sale, when they wouldn't split the set (I only needed two for the upstairs den), I decided to use the other two as host and hostess.  I love the look of different chairs, but now that they're in place--- I don't know.

They're small enough to find a home for elsewhere, and I could take out the leaf, but......and here's where I need a definite mind----it's so convenient to have the table already set up for six, especially since so much of my entertaining is spur of the moment (we have the kind of neighborhood where gatherings can just pop up---two neighbors chatting on a porch can lead to an impromptu party), that's I'm wondering if the improvement in asthetics is worth the trouble of dismantling the current set up and having to piece it back together whenever the situation warrents it.
As is often the case of such questions, I went back to my inspiration file.  I remembered a room that I had always loved, Tia Zoldan's dining room from Cottage Living.  I remembered that she had a similar setup with barrel back host chairs that were painted white and with much shorter backs than her side chairs.  After pulling it, I still don't know.

The problem is, the height difference between my chairs is even greater than her's, and while I think the chairs would look smart painted white, I think that will only make them look even smaller.

Anyway, doing more Googling, I found her updated dining room.  Now I do know.  At least for me in this case, after is not better.

So what now?  I guess I'll do what I'd advise a client to do:  1.  Finish and hang the painting.  2.  Assess the situation---did the change in painting make enough of an improvement so you don't mind the new table/chair setup?  3.  If I'm still not happy, I'll take out the leaves, distribute the chairs, and see if the hassle is as bad as I'm thinking it will be to reassemble dining for 6.


Making Floral Chintz Work in an Eclectic Decor

Do you ever fall for something that is out?  Something that conventional wisdom says to change, but you just
still really like and want to try to make work even if it's out of style?  This happened to me recently with a gloriously dated floral chintz.

Here's the situation:  After switching my office and dining rooms, I was left with a couple of odd pieces, two matching club chairs.  Eventually each found a home in a corner of the two rooms, corners where I had never had chairs.  Surprisingly, I found I loved having them in these spots (surprising because the placement was one of desperation), and when I ended up moving the two chairs upstairs to our sitting room, I needed to find inexpensive replacements.  I found one here, but needed another chair for the dining room.
The dining room reading nook at one point.  The chair and portrait moved to the upstairs den, the lamp to the piano, and the 50s console to the office.

Luckily, a friend had an old wing chair stored in her attic and wanted to get rid of it, so I scored it for free.  I knew that it was in a dark floral chintz, but I planned to slipcover it or even try my hand at painting the fabric after seeing that done successfully on a couple of blogs, so I didn't mind about the dated fabric.  Only one problem; after seeing the chair in person,  I actually kind of fell hard for the  floral chintz fabric, which was in perfect condition.
a sad chair in a sad corner.
Cleo had no idea why, since we already have a comfy sofa, I needed more seating.

Now, I like pattern, and I like florals, even old-fashioned ones, but I've never used a lot of pattern in my own house.  But somehow, I find patterns sneaking into every room of this bungalow, and of all things, several are floral.  Even more surprising, was when I got the chair home, I realized that the scale and color of the pattern was perfect.  And recently, I think as a backlash to all the neutral, belgian inspired rooms I've been seeing, I've been craving a more English cottage look, which was my first design love.  Specifically an English country look with pattern, books, photos, flowers, and colorful clutter all over.  So while I reserve my right to paint or cover my chair later, for now, I decided to try to make the floral work.
I used leftover paint in Sherwin Williams Casablanca to paint the legs.

My first decision was to paint the tired brown legs white.  This tied it to its orange cousin which you can see at the same time.   Side note:  another bonus for using the wing chairs in my reading corners  is that since they are both dining height, I can use them as host and hostess chairs when I need seating for six.  Just like it did to the other wing chair, the white paint immediately brightened the fabric and gave the chair a fresh look.
a new large scale graphic painting I created for the space.

My next decision was to add some graphic elements to add a little edge to the floral to keep it from being too sweet and  too cliche cottage.  I painted a large graphic painting based on Katrina x's (the notations used by the national guard on flooded homes) and sewed a kidney pillow out of the same chevron used on the bench in the adjoining living room.  For flexibility (translation:  I ran out of fabric), I backed it in a contrast black and white paisley print.

A new pillow in a graphic yellow/white chevron print

the black and white paisley reverse of the pillow.

I gave the side table a coat of fresh green paint, added a fiddle leaf fig in a galvinized container, and voila:  a fresh new setting for floral.

fresh coat of green for side table.  note....i need another coat and to silver leaf knob, but that can wait.

This shot from the living room, gives you an idea how nicely the chair and table tuck unobtrusively into the corner by the non-working fireplace.  A new pillow from a remnant in the white club chair picks up the colors in the floral print and green table.
It's a dreary overcast day, so I shot this using incandescent light.  The wall color, blonde by sherwin williams, is not quite as yellow as it looks in the photos.  It's more off a dull, slightly greenish, gold.

A view from the office.

Cleo remains unimpressed with the new decor.  But in a sidenote, see how well animal print goes with vintage floral?

Is this the fabric I would have selected if I could have any fabric in the world?  No.  But somehow, I've always preferred my interiors to be like this---a mishmash of planning, careful selection, and serendipity.  I guess because I prefer the personal and unique above almost anything else (except, perhaps, comfort) in decor, I delight in anything that makes my house different.  And I'm pretty sure nobody else is adding floral chintz wing chairs to their dining room....and that makes me happy, no matter what Cleo thinks.

Submitted to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch and Mod Monday Mix and Mod Vintage life.


An Italian Inspired Meal: How to Make Spaghetti Bolognese

Though I realize that I omitted this from my resolutions post (perhaps I should have listed being more thorough as a goal), one thing that I want to focus on this year, as part of my large goal to enjoy everyday living, is to try to do a little more "gracious living."  Nothing too fancy, since being comfortable is a large part of what I already enjoy about day to day life, but making sure to fully set the table every know and then and to take a little more time and effort to cook special things.

In that vein, I did a very simple, everyday, rustic table setting recently inspired by the time I spent in Italy.

I started with a very simple centerpiece, a mound of the last of my basil, which is flowering, in a low bowl on a wooden platter surrounded by a ring of apples for color.  I've found herbs can be a great low cost floral, lasting a long time.  True, basil can have a strong aroma, not something you usually want around food, but the aroma does fade, and as it's just getting cold here in New Orleans, my thoughts have been turning to comfort food, which in my case is almost always pasta, and usually contains basil.  So in this case, the smell of the basil has enhanced the dining experience.

For the place settings, I used inexpensive bamboo mats from the dollar store, plain white dishes, stemless wine glasses for the red wine, and black tumblers for water.  I wanted to keep everything simple, but I did add individual tiny milk glass bowls to hold grated cheese and parsley.

Better than my usual, but not really note worthy....in this case, it was all about the food.  I made one of my favorites, Spaghetti Bolognese, or spaghetti with meat sauce.
It's hours to dinner, but Cleo is not taking any chances and is already in place for any scraps that fall.

I've talked a lot about food before, but rarely give recipes.  One reason is that I generally don't cook with one.  I've cooked long enough that I now have a good since of what the food needs and what elements are essential and what can be left out.  Note, this nonchalant approach only works with cooking and not baking, which is a precise art.  Hence, why I rarely bake, and when I do, the results turn out like this.

However, I thought that if I started of with my ingredient list  and talked you through step by step, letting you know what I think you can change to meet your own taste, it would work.  So here goes.

Spaghetti Bolognese

  1. 1-2 tablespoons olive oil.  (and you're sauteing, so it doesn't have to be the greatest.  you can use just plain vegetable oil, but it will give the extra flavor olive oil does.)
    2. 2 slices of bacon (bolognese is often a mix of meat ingredients.  I find that a little bacon in the beginning adds a delicious smoky flavor.  Just make sure the bacon is not flavored--no applewood or maple smoked.  if you're anti-pork, you could omit this and use just a couple of drops of liquid smoke and and an extra tablespoon of oil.  turkey bacon, though, does not have enough fat to use as a satisfactory substitute.)

3.  1/4-1/2 cup minced tasso.  (tasso is a cajun cured ham.  I actually used turkey tasso.  again, it's about layering flavor, but it's not an essential ingredient.  you could substitute finely minced smoked sausage, keilbasa, or even hard salami instead).

4.   1 large onion. (I used red, but you could use yellow or white, or even the finely chopped white portion of two bunches of green onions.  and if you hate onion, just leave it out.

5.  Green bell pepper, finely chopped.  to taste.  I used one large and two tiny, tiny ones (the last of my crop).  You could use anywhere from 0-2 depending on what you like.  The important thing about the green bell pepper is that it gives a piquant bite to the sauce, so you can always subtitute similar things, like chopped green chilis or even chopped portocino peppers if that's what you have on hand.

6.  two roasted sweet red peppers.  mine were from a jar, but you can easily roast red peppers on your own.  but they should be roasted for the best flavor.

7.  Minced garlic.  I used 4 large cloves, but i love garlic.  adjust to your taste.

8.  About 1 cup of red wine.  I used a cabernet.  just make sure that its a wine you would drink and that it's not sweet.

 9. 4 smallish tomatoes, chopped.  I had them on hand, but you could use a big can of chopped or diced tomatoes.

10.  1 large can of diced tomatoes.

11.  1 small can of tomato paste.  Not actually crucial, but does give sauce that dark, rich, uber-tomato flavor.  If you don't actually like that dark, rich, uber-tomato flavor, omit.

12,  Seasoning.  I used a mix of fresh, about a total cup of a mix of flat leaf and curly parsely, and a handful of chopped basil, along with Paul Prudhome's Italian Blend with an extra dash of dried oregano.  you can use all fresh, all dried, or both.  remember, though that dried herbs have a stronger flavor, and that fresh one can be delicate and should be added in later in the cooking process.

13. approximately one pound of ground chuck.

Cooking directions:

Step 1.  Heat large skillet over medium heat.  After headting for about five minutes, add olive oil and heat until oil is hot, but not smoking (about 3 min.)  Add chopped raw bacon and cook until fat begins to render (about 3-5 minutes).  Add chopped tasso.

Step 2.
While tasso is cooking, add about 1 tablespoon of the italian seasoning, so flavor can infuse the oil.  This only works with dried herbs---fresh one will burn and turn bitter at this point.

 Step 3.  while tasso is cooking, chop the onion and add to pan, stirring regularly to prevent bacon from sticking.

 Step 4.  While onion is cooking (about 5 minutes), chop green bell pepper and add to pan.
 Cook about 5 more minutes.

Step 5, chop roasted red pepper and add to pan, continuing to stir occasionally

 Step 6.  Chop and add garlic.  You have to be careful with garlic...it can easily burn and turn bitter.  I usually add it at the last of the chopped veggies and right before adding liquids.  Cook for about another 3 minutes or so, until garlic is very aromatic, but not brown.

Step 7.  At this point, I put the sauteed veggies into a slow cooker, added the tomatoes, canned tomatoes, and tomato paste, browned the ground chuck and added to the slow cooker, cooking it for 4 hours on high, and switching to 4 hours hours on low for remainder.  I also added about another tablespoon of seasoning (1. I'm from New Orleans where we like things well seasoned, and 2.  It makes a huge batch).  If you can't be home to turn slow cooker, cook all day on low, and crank it up when you get home for last minute cooking if necessary.  Or you can dump it all into a large stock pot, bring to a light boil, and simmer for at least an hour (longer is better), stirring frequently.  Add the chopped fresh herbs in the last hour or so of cooking.

At the end of cooking, it should be a dark, rich red and quite thick.  If it's too thick, you can always add a little liquid, either more wine, a splash of water, or even chicken stock, but always add only a little at a time---it should be a very thick sauce, closer to the consistency of tomato paste than tomato sauce.

 Step 8.  Boil some pasta, and enjoy.  It's traditionally served with spaghetti, but any long strudy pasta like fettucine or linguine will work.  It's too thick a sauce, however for wide flat pastas like bow tie.
This is before the parmesan so you can see the dark, red glossy, sauce, but a little cheese and extra parsley is the way to finish it.

Hope you enjoyed the recipe.

Submitted to Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.


Gratitude: My Number One Focus for 2012

A few things I'm grateful for:  Cleopatra Schwartz (cutest, sweetest dog in the world), my door turned headboard, my new king-sized pillows I got for Christmas, and my beautiful new accent pillow.

I love New Years, and new beginnings, and resolutions, and list making.  I love all those things, even though most of my resolutions over the years have been abandoned before Valentine's Day, but my innate optimism keeps me convinced that one year, they will all stick.

One reason I am convinced that they will is that my resolutions have changed over the years:  I no longer crave the material things I once did, and I now know that while I do always enjoy losing weight, life 20 pounds lighter isn't really all that different, so my list no longer includes things like dieting, giving up chocolate, or saving for an i-pad.  However, I do firmly believe that we are given what we truly want and truly ask for, so I am conscious of spending some time and thinking about what I'd like the universe to share with me.  And this year, what I want more than any thing is to enjoy my life fully, especially the little things that are so often overlooked. 
I'm also thankful for sunny days, and thoughtful friends like Valorie who gave me the fabric for my  cafe curtains.  I'm also grateful that after reading that Katherine Ireland doesn't care if towels match or not in her French vacation home, I've decided that matching towels are so bougsie, and that I'm too BoHo for that anyway.

Somehow lately, even with the good things that have happened to me in the past year, I seem to be in such a pissy mood---irritated with not receiving more blessings, exhausted with the daily grind, always wanting more...things, usually.  In short, I realized that while 2011 was a much better year for me in every conceivable way than the past few (2008 and 2009  especially rank among my worst years ever), I enjoyed so little of it.  And face it, now is all we really have.  My grandmother loved the song "One Day at a Time," and I've always found these lines so meaningful:

Yesterday's gone, Sweet Jesus,
And Tomorrow may never be mind.

So my overreaching goal for this year, and the next is to learn to enjoy as much as possible of every moment---to learn, if possible, to enjoy the daily chores of life because they are in fact a blessing.  Let's face it, if coming home to a dirty house, a pile of laundry, and a hungry spouse who wants you to feed them is your big problems----you've got it pretty good.  Anyway, I've decided that my first step to enjoying life more is to learn to appreciate my blessings more, starting with the little things.
I'm grateful for a cozy reading nook, time to read, and parents who taught me the value and joy of a good book.

So, here goes my resolutions for 2012:
1. Express gratitude daily, through a gratitude journal, prayer, meditation, thank you notes, or a combination.
2.  Focus my thoughts and action on plenty and abundance in all areas, including spiritual, not just material     ones.
3.  Blog more.
4.  Make peace with my weight.  I either want to end this year with losing the extra 20 or not caring---I'm just tired of caring about them, but not being able to do anything with them---I'm just asking for the strength to either eat my cake and wear it proudly or for the strength to not eat my cake and wear smaller pants.  I am, however, tired of eating my cake and then feeling awful about not wearing smaller pants---that way lies madness.
5.  Daily keep in mind these suggestions for increased happiness:

      1.        Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in        value.        Kinda cool right?  So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness.  And that’s without having to go out and buy anything.  It makes sense.  We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.
2.        Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism.  No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it.  She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life.  People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.
3.       Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous.  If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority.  Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out!  If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made.  What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place.  If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
4.       Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain.  (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.)  Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside.  What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness.  How extraordinary is that?  Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on.  A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin.  Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.
5.       Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships.  Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely?  WHOA!  There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with.  We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.
6.       Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character.  Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable.  Forrest Gump knows the deal.  It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan.  It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.
7.       Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being.  You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion.  When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system.  You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.
8.       Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.  It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task.  Action and awareness are merged.  You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional.  You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing.  Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.
9.       Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy.  It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences.  When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic.  It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
10.    Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force.  Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere.  When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing.  Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.
11.     Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us.  We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever.  It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists.  Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”
12.    Take care of your body. – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be.  If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected.  Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft?  Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.

list by Sonja Lyubomirsky at Marc and Angel originally seen at habitually chic and pve

I'm also grateful that I can afford (at least occasionally) fresh flowers.

Well, that's my resolution list as it stands now.  It's early yet, so I'm sure there will be tweeking, which I plan on sharing.  To all of you who made resolutions, good luck.


How to Jazz Up an Old Piano Bench

Recently I've made an addition to the house---I've brought in my childhood piano (my sister claims it's in fact hers, but possession is nine tenths of the law, and so it's mine now).  That in and of itself was an adventure, and after my mover that I had carefully lined up in advance neglected to turn up or return my calls and texts, it was only with the brute strength of Thomas's cousin that we were able to hoist it out of the van and up the stoop.  However, it is in place, and I'm seriously considering painting it (the wood veneer and finish are not of fine quailty), probably off-white, but I'm not quite ready to commit to that yet.  However, I did want to make it look better, and decided that covering the bench with fabric to look like an upholstered ottoman would be a quick, easy, inexpensive way to jazz up the piano itself, and the fabric helps tone down the look of that much wood.

I used a trendy chevron pattern for the bench, a gift from Valorie, Visual Vamp.  I liked the way the pattern blended with the cream slipcovers in the room, but gave a hint of movement.  Chevron patterns are all over the place, and I do think that projects like this are the best way to inject trends into your decor--high impact, but low cost and effort.  In a couple of years (who am i kidding---based on my decor ADD, I'll be recovering it by this summer), I can switch out this trendy pattern for the next hot look.  Luckily, it only takes two yards of fabric and no sewing---thank you, Stitch Witch.

First, select the right fabric.  It needs to be sturdy enough to not need lining---adding lining is possible of course, but makes the whole process much more difficult, and would necessitate sewing, but not so thick that stapling multiple layers is a problem.  I find that cotton and cotton blend upholstery weight fabrics work the best.  Here, I did a similar project using cotton canvas in a solid color:

Solid colors are easiest, because you don't have to worry about matching stripes and prints, but a busy print does have the advantage of hiding flaws.  This pattern meant I had to be careful about matching, but it has enough movement that it wasn't too hard to make sure the different sides matched.  I didn't have quite enough fabric to make sure the top matched exactly, but looks good enough for me (luckily, I do not have the perfection gene).


Measure your bench for the sides and corners, making sure to add enough inches to fold over for hems.  You do not need side hems for the corners (the part that make it look like inverted pleats);  in fact, they would cause unwanted bulk and the sides are invisible after assembly


Iron the fabric carefully.  Do not launder before hand unless you need to to match washed slipcovers.  The sizing that the fabric comes with helps it remain crisp and wrinkle free.  Then iron under the hems.  After they are ironed in place, use the hem tape to glue them down.  You could use fabric glue, but I never have so I can't say how well it works.  If you don't mind sewing, you could use a hem stitch to tack the hem in place.


Remove top.  My bench has a lift off top, so it can off easily.  Some tops, however may be screwed on.  Staple the fabric pieces in place, starting with the corners.  I like to do corners, then sides, then front and back.  Most importantly (and what I need to fix after viewing the afters), make sure the bottom of all pieces are flush and that patterns line up.


Cover top, just as you would a chair seat.  Now if you want to, for a more finished look you could add premade cording to the edge of the top.  I didn't because I wanted to still be able to remove the top and I was afraid that cording would make it too thick and bulky to set flush inside the hole.  If that is not an issue for you, I would recommend the cording...it makes it look more finished.
Here is a simliar project I did in a solid neutral with cording.  Post is HERE.

There it is.  A quick, easy way to jazz up an old bench and add some pattern to your decor.

Why yes, that IS a Christmas decoration on top of the piano.  Why yes, I realize that Christmas is over.  Why did you ask?

Cleopatra Schwartz approves this project.

Submitted to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch and Mod Monday Mix and Mod Vintage life.