Category Archives: Toolbelt and a Tube of Chapstick

Rehabilitated Chairs on a Dime!

Rehabilitated Chairs on a Dime!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Friends, you know I am cheap. This video – our first upholstery rehab video – shows you how to rehabilitate a pair of old but well made chairs to make them seamlessly fit into an existing design scheme.

The project turned out to be a little more ambitious than originally anticipated due to extra steps that I added on myself, but the chairs turned out nonetheless exquisite and momma was VERY happy!

Thanks for popping in!

Rehabilitated Chairs on a Dime!

Seeing your loved ones even more: The Photo Wall

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Welcome back, friends. If you’re like me you probably don’t get to see your loved ones as much as you like. I was thinking about how to bring some character and life to my grey walled kitchen and harkened back to something I’d seen at my favorite haunt, Bar Centrale. Simply stated, it’s a collection of photos hung closely on the wall. What I wanted to bring to it was a cohesive point of view.

So I took to my photo editing software. I culled images of people I loved and missed and perhaps weren’t here anymore. I had the good fortune to know my great-grandparents very well, but of course they’re gone now. Friends, sisters, cousins, loved ones. I adjusted all these photos and put them in black and white so they became more of a background than a colorful collection. Then, I had them printed in varying sizes.

I started collecting frames from second hand sources: craigslist, the wallapop and letgo apps (which are basically garage sales on your phone), Goodwill. I bought no new frames and ended up with a great collection for very little money. Of course they were all filthy, but who cares.


You can see that I got some of these from the York Theater Company. They were from old sets. Haha.

I disassembled them all and did a fair amount of cleaning, which I didn’t mind since I paid less than a dollar per frame.

I got myself into a real quandary wondering where the hell I was going to spray paint these things. And then it hit me: THE FIRE ESCAPE. Through the bedroom window I went. I chose navy blue for the paint color – neutral, but not.



Now quit being envious of my Jem and the Holograms tank top.

I realized that trying to back-mount these frames would make me insane, and I knew that seeing silver screw heads would also make me insane. I inserted my screws into a piece of cardboard and painted the heads.


I realized it was going to be necessary to drill pilot holes for the screws or the frames could potentially crack. I measured and marked where to drill the pilot holes.



Most of these frames aren’t flat and I didn’t want the screw heads to extend out from the surface, so in order to get a more recessed look with the screws, I used a drill bit that was the same size as the screw head to notch out a little divot on the surface of the frame where the screw would go in.



Now, making sure each plate of glass was carefully cleaned and free of streaks and fingerprints, I reassembled all the frames.


Determine how close you want them. I chose an inch and a half. I am working with between 20 and 25 frames, so that’s a lot of surface area to cover. I am using the existing features on the walls as guidance – measuring out an inch and a half from door frames, etc.


Using the level app on my iPhone and my careful measurements, I start hanging the frames with my pre-painted screws. Now, my old ass New York apartment is not square AT ALL. Sometimes you need to trust your eye and not your level. Having symmetry and making it orderly is very important.


I re-thunk my configuration as it evolved. Even though I had laid it all out on the floor prior to hanging, it didn’t always look right once up. That’s ok.

As luck would have it, I found frames that allowed me to hide my circuit breaker box, which was a huge eye sore, and frame out my door buzzer!


Some of the frames chipped some paint as the screws went in, so I got a piece of cardboard and cut a small opening. I put the opening over the screw hole and hit it with a quick squirt of paint.


I will concede this task as a whole became a little more involved than expected. But it looks fantastic. If I may say so myself.


Good luck with yours! Send me your photos if I have inspired you.


The Gentleman Caller

Window Sill Splendor from some guy’s trash

Knock Knock Knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Honestly I should have done this one earlier in the season, but sometimes life gets in the way of best laid plans, right? So here we are in a heat wave and I am deciding it’s time to PLANT.

Right now I am in New York City and let’s face it: no one has outdoor space here. A lot of people in regular America don’t either. This project is for you. Condo people, apartment dwellers, all of ya’ll whose soul is yearning for dirt to dig in but don’t know where to find it.

Thursday night is “Big Trash Night” in Manhattan, meaning that people put out big things. It’s astonishing what you see on the streets. Mannequins, sofas, baby cribs, washing machines, tv’s, and the most useful for today’s purposes: CHEST OF DRAWERS. (Below is an example, not the actual one I got…just proving my point!)


I was on the way to do the show and someone had put out a vintage midcentury chest. It was beat up, but looked clean. I walked on to work and thought DRAWERS. I had the intent to build out some window boxes from scratch, but why not source those deep dove-tailed drawers for window boxes? I spent the entirety of the show focusing on whether or not the chest would be there when I got home. Eureka, it was! So I drug a few drawers up to my place and thoroughly disinfected them and myself. (Note: don’t EVER pick up something with soft surfaces or fabric off the street unless you want some bedbugs.)

Let’s get to the real work.

Put down a drop cloth. Make sure your drawers are clean. If you want to hit any varnished areas with sandpaper, knock yourself out. These aren’t going to last for the rest of your life so you don’t need to be that meticulous. The moisture of the dirt is going to rot them over time so be as meticulous as you want, but don’t get crazy. Unless you ARE crazy and that’s just how you do things.


Remove the hardware. You can save this for another project if it’s pretty.


Paint those suckers. Or don’t. If you like the wood tone and you want people to know it used to be a drawer, that’s a valid aesthetic choice. Don’t be afraid of color here. I can be timid about color; I wear a grey t-shirt every single day. But in honor of this project I have on purple Converse. Let your house/dwelling/domicile be your grey t-shirt and your window box be your purple Cons!



While you’re letting the paint set up, go get you some hardware. Based on what kind of ledge you have or don’t have, you can use mending plates or L brackets. I am using mending plates and shimming the underside of the drawers with some 1×6. Shimming is the process of leveling something with smaller pieces of wood that you ideally do not want to see. If you are using L brackets you might be level without shims.


Measure out where you want them. Symmetry is sublime.

Affix the hardware. Use a substantial wood screw so you have some structural integrity. No one wants to clean up a box full of dirt. Yes, I took my shirt off – I am f****** melting. You’ll read why in a sec.


Screw those boxes in place.



Drill some drain holes in the bottom of the box.


Paint out the exposed hardware if you want. And if you have exposed hardware, you definitely should want. 🙂


A standard drawer is going to hold about a cubic foot of dirt before being planted (this is assuming you’re using plants already started from a home improvement center or nursery). Please have more sense than me and don’t try to schlep 2 cubic feet of dirt home in sacks on your shoulders through midtown Manhattan in the midst of a heat wave. I wish I had a photo to insert here, but you’ll have to use your imagination.

Plant those suckers. Be creative; flowering plants and herbs coexist peacefully. Be sure to drop some vine-type plants over the sides. Sweet potato vines are a little banal, but damn if they don’t always look nice. Vinca vine is always nice. If your box is going in a spot that gets blasted with sun, a patio tomato plant is not out of the question.


Find out about planting combinations in the next article! Wishing you and your green thumb much success.

This is The Gentleman Caller signing out.