Sunday, April 24, 2016

DIY Sunday: Half Price Vintage Trailer Cushions

Happy Weekend!

I'm happy to share a project I've been working on for about a week. When we got Myrtle, the original 1963 cushions were included and were a fashionable shade of brown and stinky.

Yeah. Since I planned on sleeping on those cushions, it was time to get new ones. However, foam is not cheap. In fact, when I was planning the renovation, I assumed this was going to be one of the more expensive things we updated.

Saving Money on Foam

After doing some research and asking around the vintage trailer community, it was clear buying online was the cheapest way to get foam. The important thing to note about foam is you definitely get what you pay for. The foam from Joann's isn't quite up to the challenge of heavy use. It's not as firm and high density as what you would find online.

So, I got some recommendations and started getting quotes. These are the quotes for (2) Gaucho Bed/Sofa Cushions, (4) Dinette Cushions and (1) Love Seat Cushions. (I should note I also reached out to local upholsterers, but either they didn't return my calls or wouldn't sell just cushions)

1. Foam Order

For 4" thick cushions of medium quality/high density, the quote was $391.50. If I increased the thickness to 6", I was looking at $462.32 for all the cushions. The batting wrap (recommended when you make cushions in order to have a more rounded appearance) would add an additional $70.00. That $70.00 for the wrap was pretty on par with all the different retailers. Shipping wasn't free either and was estimated to add an additional $60.32 to the cost.

2. Foam Online

For 4" thick cushions of medium quality and high density, the quote was $410.80. However, shipping was free. I didn't get a quote for 6" after the first retailer, because I knew the cost would have been higher than what I was willing to pay.

3. The Foam Factory

For 4" thick cushions (Lux/High Density), the quote was $379.18. Shipping was also free with Foam Factory.

4. Joann Fabric

I decided to at least take a look at how much the foam would have cost even if it wasn't as high quality as the above retailers. The high density foam would have been around $439.98.

5. Sailrite

This is a favorite retailer of vintage trailer owners when it comes to awning materials and fabric. I decided I'd at least price them out for cushions. The cost for all the cushions was around $444.80.

I thought about ordering from Foam Factory since they were the cheapest and by far the most recommended company throughout the owners groups I'm apart of. However, the more I thought about it, I got a different idea. I wasn't sure if it was crazy, but if it worked out, I could save a bunch of money.

Enter Wal-Mart now sells mattresses including foam versions. The mattresses vary in depth, but for the most part they were 6" or deeper. much difference could there be between the fancy foam and these mattresses?

So I sat down with a pencil and paper and started figuring my cushions into standard mattress sizes. It was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to see what size mattresses would optimize the amount of foam used. I figured out that if I got a full size mattress I could get cuts for the couch and love seat. If I got a Twin XL, I would have exactly enough foam for the dinette set.

When I sat down and price everything out, I could get those two mattresses with free shipping for $288.00. So if you compare that to the cheapest quote I got for 4" thick foam, I was still saving about a $100.00. If you compare it to the 6" quote, I was saving almost $200.00. That was some pretty impressive savings. I bought two rolls of quilting batting to wrap each cushions for less than $30.00. My final expense was a new electric meat carving knife for $10.00 (I could have bought a used one but I was already at the store and the price was right)

So, if I would have gotten 6" foam with the wrap plus shipping from Foam Order, I would have spent just shy of $600.00. Using a foam mattress from Wal-Mart, I only spent $328.00. That's about half price from online retailers. Sweet! (Side note: I also purchased a 4" mattress memory foam topper from Wal-Mart for $60.00 and cut that down to size for the bunk. The kids will be on the bunk so I wasn't overly worried about it being extremely is camping after all!)

Cutting the foam was extremely easy. I removed the fabric cover, marked the cuts using a marker and straight edge, and cut along the line with my meat carver.

Saving Money on Fabric Covers

As for fabric, it took me forever to decide what I wanted to do. After watching a tutorial on using vinyl fabric and piping over foam and plywood, I decided that was the method I was going to try. By just sewing a top and extra long sides, I was able to save money on bottom side fabric and avoid zippers completely.

I bought my white vinyl from I've been really happy with my purchases from their website except two things: 1) Shipping takes longer than other retailers, and 2) My vinyl came with a tiny rip that went through three layers of the fabric. Otherwise, it was only around $5.00 per yard which is extremely affordable for upholstering.

As for the piping, I couldn't find ready made piping in the right color. I was pretty intimated to make my own. I had never (ever) used piping. And this was quite the large first project to try it out. I found this tutorial on Make It, Love It. Then, I found this awesome tutorial on how to cut continuously on the bias on the same website. Those two tutorials are essential when making your own piping. I had to make over 24 yards of piping for all the cushions. That's a TON of cutting on the bias. If it wasn't for the continuous cutting tutorial, I would have been doing it forever.

The cushions were a pain to make just because the fabric was heavy and large, but it wasn't very difficult. I cut everything first. I made all the piping next. Finally I went cushion by cushion to attach the piping and then attached the side fabric. When I was done, I had a top and over sized sides.


The final step was putting everything together. This was pretty darn easy because all the major work was already done.

First, I wrapped each piece of foam in the batting. I had some spray basting adhesive that I use with my Silhouette cutting machine. That was just enough stick so the batting wouldn't slip around even during a [very] windy day.

Once the foam was wrapped, I slipped the cover over the top of the foam. Next, I flipped the foam over, and then placed the plywood in the center of the foam.

I cut all the plywood (it's a very thin plywood) 2 inches shorter than the sides of the foam so the hard side of the plywood wouldn't stick out.

I went to work and stretched the fabric over the the plywood and stapled the fabric to the plywood.

It's not perfect. My piping got a little wonky as I was pulling it to staple, but it's a really great look for spending less than $400.00 on seven cushions and covers.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Removing the Great Wall of Ugly House

Happy Monday!

We had a very exciting week at Ugly House. The sci-fi wall we've been trying to remove for almost 2 years finally came down! When you watch those home improvement shows, it seems like you just decide to remove the wall, call someone and ta da! After the commercial break, there's no wall and you're ready to start staging your new open space.

In the real world, you have five or so contractors come out to look at the wall, have all them agree that we need a support beam and wait for one of them to call you back.

This is how the wall looked when we moved into the house:

One of our neighbors went out on his own and started a construction company. We had briefly spoken with him about hiring his company, but he was finishing up his own home, having a baby, and we got distracted with our many outdoor projects. After I started feeling better in my pregnancy, we refocused and came back to the Indiana Jones and The Lost Tomb wall.

We messaged our neighbor, he came and took a look, got a quote and bam, we were on his schedule. I was very excited at this point to even have a rough date the wall would come down.

We said we would take care of removing sheet rock, and man, that was a dirty job. However, the kids thought it was pretty darn amazing. They started to ask if they could take down other walls in the house. There was a very long discussion about not taking a hammer to the rest of the house.

That's my son mopping...take a mental picture, because it may never happen again.

Not exactly your standard issue safety glasses...

After we had the sheet rock down, we got a bit more excited because we could start to see what the space might look like. The air flow increased by about a 100%, the living room wasn't a dark dungeon, and I realized I might actually be able to keep my larger dining room table without having to toss children to the opposite side or have them crawl underneath.

When the big day came, I was pretty excited. We moved all our furniture (no easy feat when you're 21 weeks pregnant) and prepped the space by taping out the island location and new light locations.

Charles and his team arrived nice and early in the morning and started their work. The first task was putting up the temporary wall. I was shocked by how fast that process went. They were practically done before I was out the door with my coffee. After they got the temporary wall up, they went to town removing the studs. One of his workers commented that the studs were in there really (really) securely. That process took several hours. Then it was time for a break while we waited for the beam to be delivered.

At this point I snuck back inside to take a look at the progress. First of all, the CWB team was insanely good at keeping the space clean. In fact, I'm pretty sure the room looked more clean after the work than before. (Yes...I have sad housekeeping skills) Second, Charles was great with keeping me updated where they were in the process and what came next. I work from home so I took up residence in Myrtle for the day. His workers were very polite and quick with their work. Did I mention the cleaning? Seriously.

Once the beam arrived, the team went back to work and had everything up and cleaned before the end of the work day. I think I accomplished two contracts, and they removed an entire wall in that day. Makes my two contracts look pitiful in comparison. I spent the evening reveling in the fact I actually had a dining room. I should have been excited about the island and the fact it was doubling my counter space and cabinet space, but look at that dining room!

How our dining room table used to sit....

How we can now have it sit. Yay!

The next day the electrician from Muth Electric came out and roughed in all the lights and outlets that had to move and put in my three new lights. The electrician was extremely professional and kind. Ironic enough his wife is having a baby and their ultrasound was that day. We practically had the same due date. He worked quickly, efficiently and to say I was excited to have my new lights in would be an understatement. I picked up a simple dining room light from Lowe's, and the week before work started, I picked up these super cheap pendant lights ($20.00). I gave the shades a quick coat of spray paint and voila, they were just like the Barn Light Electric lights but 1/10th the cost.

Over-all, I would have to say the process was fantastic. Two days and the wall was gone. If you're in the Brookings area, I would highly recommend CWB Construction. I started to think about all the next projects I could have them do, but then I remembered I still have to build an island, plank an entire ceiling, put new floors in...oh and have a baby somewhere in there. I probably should just keep going with kitchen/living room and baby thing.

Here's a sneak peek of how the island building is going. I'm in love with it already. :) My husband is just happy to reclaim half his garage after two years of storage.


Monday, April 11, 2016

DIY Peel and Stick Flooring in Vintage Trailers

Good Afternoon,

I had a fun weekend spiffing up Myrtle. I also got a chance to move all our camping supplies into her, so we're almost ready for our first outing. The foam for the new cushions arrives this week with fabric will soon follow.

When we got Myrtle, she had some vinyl flooring. It was fairly new, (very) securely attached and pretty darn ugly. Eventually I may want to go more time specific and go back to the VCT tiles in blue and yellow, but for right now I wanted something quick, cheap and easy.

Vinyl peel and stick plank flooring was just the ticket. I only needed one box (although I'm about 1 board short to finish up next to gaucho bed), so the entire endeavor cost me $40.00 and 2-3 hours. It's not only easy to install, but you can cut it with a utility knife, which makes installing even easier. I cleaned the floors before we started. Since I couldn't keep the two munchkins from tracking dirt in as I went along, I also swept each section prior to putting any planks down.

It may not last forever, but it will get us through a couple of seasons looking mighty fine. The change was pretty dramatic and it doesn't look nearly as dirty as the old/new white tiles did.



Just need one little strip to finish up next to the gaucho bed! 

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