DIY WATERCOLOR ACCENT ARMCHAIR

Oh gosh.  Where to even begin with this project.  

When the HUBS and I moved into our new home, I had this *wonderful* idea of designing watercolor accent armchairs that would serve as one focal piece in our living room.  I had all this gumption, knew exactly what I was going to do, read HOURS worth of reupholstering posts online.  Even had two amazing antique Louis armchairs that my dad bought without my mom's approval and consequently mom was "donating" to our furnishing project.  Little did I know this was going to be a behemoth of a project.  

First of all the antique Louis armchairs were a no go because we would have to figure out how to ship them to our new place, and all the small details of the chairs would make an already long project even longer.  So we decided to scour the inter webs for used armchairs that we could give some love.  

After months of searching and nothing quite in our price range or desired shape, we turned to simply buying two new semi-affordable armchairs.  We had saved on all our other furnishings, so we had a little more to designate towards this project.  After lots of searching, we came across these armchairs that had excellent reviews and were known to be cushiony and comfortable.  Nothing is worse than buying furniture online, only to find out its stiff as a board.   

Armchair Charisma Shah

During the shipment process one of the two chairs was damaged, so we got another replacement chair immediately (great customer service BTW!).  This ended up providing to be quite useful since we could strip the damaged chair for practice.  While I was taking apart the broken chair, I realized that there was really no way that I would be able to put the pieces back together regardless of how many notes or pictures I took.  So I decided instead to create a fitted slipcover for both chairs.

With a little bit of crude photoshop, I designed a handful of fabrics + designs so I could imagine the chairs as a finished product with the patterns I had developed before selecting the final fabric. 

I immediately fell in love the one on the farthest right.  The small pops of orange seemed so fun.  Plus I really loved the idea of two mirrored asymmetrical chairs.  So I started designing the fabric for printing.  Many of you know that I really love using Spoonflower for my design needs.  I can create custom prints with the versatility of several fabric options.  I have used them previously to create these placemats.  In this case, I used Spoonflower to create this lovely watercolor canvas print.  

watercolor DIY accent armchair charisma shah

If you do choose to go this path, make sure that your fabric pattern is true to size.  This means you will need to take into account the chair dimensions and where you want the pattern to be placed before creating your fabric for Spoonflower.  This will ensure that your pattern lies as you envision it.  That being said, I took the measurements of the chair, approximated how large I wanted the watercolor motif to be, and then created the fabric print to size in Photoshop before uploading it on Spoonflower.  

After designing my fabric, I took apart the fabric of the broken chair and segregated the pieces into the front and the back.  I made notes on how the pieces were attached together and then started tracing and cutting the pieces out on my fabric based on how I wanted the pattern to lay.  I labeled each piece on the back of its position on the chair.  I then sewed the inner arm pieces to the inner back piece.  I repeated this step with the outer arm and back piece as well.  I then attached these two together (the front piece to the back piece).  This didn't work too well so I had to sew on these pieces by hand to the chair which took forever.  I was just about to give up, but then my HUB's mom offered some much needed encouragement.  

So like 3 days later....Voila!

DIY watercolor accent armchair tutorial charisma shah
DIY watercolor accent armchair tutorial charisma shah

If anyone else is thinking about reupholstering please consider these before committing:

  • Local reupholsterers can be quite affordable.  This might be worth the money since it will free up your time.  Some quotes that I received were for $200-300/chair with a two week lead time.
  • This project was an abbreviated reupholstery and still took several days (if not a week) to complete.  If you completely reupholster, please be aware there are several tools, like 1000+ staples involved, and much much much more time.
  • The benefit to DIY with this project is being able to place the printed fabric the way you want it.  Thats how I was able to get this asymmetrical unique motif for my chairs.
  • Yes these chairs are beautiful and I love them, but I am still not sure if it was worth the frustration, exasperation and time.  Just be prepared to be incredibly patient.

For those that would rather purchase a beautiful and unique chair this is a much more time effective AND cost effective route.  I would consider some of these:

As you can see, Spoonflower & Roostery work with artists and designers like myself to create truly unique pieces.  These are some that I have designed including one that is the exact same print as my chair but on a more versatile style chair.  I hope you guys enjoy!

 

 

 

 

PHOTOGRAPHY

About a year ago I started adding recipes & diy's to what was once my fashion design portfolio.  Suddenly this little blog started, right as I was learning what it meant to be a spouse (still learning this!) and a cook and a designer and well many other things.  I quickly learned that humble iPhone photos could only take me so far, so I started playing around with my Dad's old DSLR (circa 2008).  To this day, I swear by it.

DSLR vs iPHONE

Phones keep getting progressively better camera technology but when I started this site I was still using the iPhone 4S.  Ancient I know!  My instagram was a mess of overly contrasted, grainy photos with unnecessary filters that were distracting rather than enhancing.  Oh, and I really loved those black frames and the Nashville filter (for obvious reasons)!  Although, quite great at the time, the 4S' rear camera was only a mere 8 megapixels to the Canon Rebel T1i's 15 MPs!  On a tiny phone screen or even in the Instagram app, both look pretty great.  However, on a laptop/desktop/computer the doubled resolution is pretty spectacular!  I never knew that you could see each and every facial hair in my brother's scraggly beard!  And so I became addicted to pictures on the DSLR.  

Above:  Left photo taken with iPhone 6, Right photo taken with Canon Rebel T1i.

Today I still use my Dad's DSLR (Canon Rebel T1i).  Well, I think after kidnapping it a couple years ago, its pretty safe to say its mine...right?  Its actually the oldest piece of technology that the HUBS and I own, but it takes wonderful pictures and is very easy to use.  I am obsessed.  If you ever see me with my camera, I am probably knee deep in tall grass taking "ant pictures" like this one below.

unedited, DSLR photo #nofilter

unedited, DSLR photo #nofilter

unedited DSLR photo #nofilter

unedited DSLR photo #nofilter

 

NEVER GOING BACK

With time, literally thousands of pictures, and lots of experimenting, I have actually started to realize that DSLR photography is SO MUCH MORE than just pointing and shooting.  Seriously y'all these things can do wonders.  

Up until about a year ago all my DSLR pictures were just taken in the the Auto or Landscape setting (including the two pictures above).  But as I was looking at some of my favorite bloggers photos on Instagram, I realized the reason I loved these feeds so much was because their impeccable pictures.  Each was bright, light and airy.  So I figured they were just living in insanely sunny places like LA or Phoenix.  These bloggers knew how to use their DSLR effectively to create these ephemeral vignettes.  

I researched a little bit on photography only to learn that all those settings on the dial of your DSLR are actually SUPER useful.  Manual photography manipulates the natural light present to create gorgeous pictures, something that for the most part can't really be done on a camera phone.  Learning about ISO, shutter speed, and aperture is necessary, but your photographs will be even more stunning.  Look out for another post about how to manipulate these for better photos coming soon!

FLIRTY FROCKS

Its been quite some time since I have posted about fashion, but with every spring I feel more inspired by the warm rays, summer rains, and simple breezes.  I LOVE SPRING.  Its my absolute favorite time of the year.  I love the cherry blossoms that line wilson park, I love the "snow" from the bradford pears that fall so gently, and I love warm sunshine.  I also hate winter clothes.  Too much stuff, too much constriction and too suffocating.  Just thinking of turtlenecks makes me itch.  Blah.  

Like I said, I am just happy that the days are warmer and longer.  AND I can resume wearing dresses.  Like this flirty frock.  

spring favorites yumi kim cult gaia kate spade ann taylor charisma shah

ONE | TWO | THREE | FOUR

I just love this outfit for date night, or Easter brunch or even luncheons with mom.  Its also totally perfect for that much needed vacation we all have been postponing.

HANDMADE DIWALI CARDS

Call me old-fashioned but I'm not much of a fan of e-cards.  To me its just not personal enough for family.  Not to mention, why pass up an opportunity to craft something?  A couple years ago, while the HUBS and I were still dating, I had just moved away from my hometown and was really missing family so I handmade some Diwali cards.  They turned out so well that these are essentially round two!  

yes that is a football lotus diwali card for my brothers :)

yes that is a football lotus diwali card for my brothers :)


HANDMADE DIY DIWALI CARD TUTORIAL


SUPPLIES NEEDED

  1. different colored tissue paper
  2. scissors/xacto knife
  3. cardstock/paper
  4. sharpie
  5. mod podge or glue

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Once you have determined the desired size of your card (when unfolded), cut your card stock.  My cards are 2.5" x 4" folded (so 5" x 8" unfolded).
  2. Designate an inside and outside of the card.  On the inside, draw the fold line (at the half way point).
  3. On the lower inside half, draw your Diwali design (Ganesha, Lotus, Candle, Diya, etc.)
  4. Cut out that design with your scissors or xacto knife.
  5. Now for the fun part, using whatever colors inspire you, tear/cut some tissue paper and start paper mache'ing it to the inside of the card.  You can use glue or mod podge to do this.  
  6. Finally, glue the top of the card to the inside.  Let dry.
  7. Once dry you can write Happy Diwali on the outside or back along with a note if you like!

These are the initial cards I made:

SUPPLIES

  1. cardstock (color of choice)
  2. printer
  3. xacto knife
  4. computer
  5. fabric swatches, scraps, or fabric fat quarters
  6. hole puncher
  7. ribbon

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Find some simple icons like elephants, divas, and/or candles online that would be easy to cut out.
  2. In powerpoint, create two rows of 5 boxes each.  All the boxes should be the same size and aligned with the box below it (see example below).
  3. Within the bottom row of boxes, place the icon or icons of choice.  Leave the top row empty: this will become the back of your tent cards.
  4. Write your greeting underneath.
  5. Print these cards on cardstock.
  6. Using the xacto knife, cut out your icon shapes.
  7. Cut a swatch of fabric to the same size as your card and put it in-between your tent card.  
  8. Punch a hole in the top center and tie some ribbon through.  
example of what the pdf should look like in PowerPoint

example of what the pdf should look like in PowerPoint

Since Diwali is such a colorful vibrant celebration, I liked using festive bright color combos like teal + orange  I also think this tutorial would be great for kids.  You could have kids color/finger paint on the inside of the card!

 

CAJUN PRIMAVERA PASTA


CAJUN PRIMAVERA PASTA

KITCHEN CHARISMA SHAH


INGREDIENTS (SERVES 4-6)

  1. 1 16 oz pack of baby bella mushrooms (diced)
  2. 1 c lovely packed baby spinach
  3. 1 red bell pepper (julienned)
  4. 1 leek (diced)
  5. 1 large carrot (peeled)
  6. 1 yellow zucchini (grated)
  7. 4 tsp garlic (minced)
  8. 4 tsp olive oil
  9. chives (finely chopped for garnish)
  10. penne/bowtie/rigatoni pasta of choice
  11. 1/3 bottle of bertolli "olive oil & garlic" pasta sauce
  12. 1 c heavy cream 
  13. 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  14. 1 1/2 tsp mccormick's cajun seasoning

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cook 1/2 box of pasta as per instructions on box.  
  2. While pasta is cooking, sauté garlic until golden brown in a large nonstick pot.
  3. Add the chopped leeks and cook until translucent.
  4. Shred the carrot directly into the pot (using a peeler) and cook until tender.
  5. Grate the zucchini directly into the pot and cook until zucchini smell goes away.
  6. Add the red pepper and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.   
  7. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned and reduced in size.
  8. Add the spinach and cook until it wilts about 1-2 minutes.  
  9. Remove the veggies from heat and set aside. 
  10. To make the pasta sauce:  Sauté the remaining two tsp of minced garlic over low heat until golden in the remaining 2 tbs of olive oil (use a saucepan or nonstick pot).  
  11. Add the crushed red pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes. 
  12. Add the cajun seasoning and let bubble until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes).  Do not let the garlic or crushed red pepper burn!
  13. Add the cream and let simmer until it starts to lightly boil.  Immediately add the bertolli sauce and stir until well blended.  
  14. Mix the pasta with the veggies and sauce.  Garnish with finely chopped chives before serving.

WINE IN WALLA WALLA

This past weekend the HUBS and I went to visit our family in Washington and thanks to his younger brother got to tag along on a wonderful wine trip to Walla Walla.  We had so much fun exploring (and tasting!) at the wineries.  And in true form, I got lost in the beauty of the area.  

the hills are alive // the hills have eyes

the hills are alive // the hills have eyes

the HUBS & his BESTIE checking out the grapes at Spring Valley Vineyard.

the HUBS & his BESTIE checking out the grapes at Spring Valley Vineyard.

When I spotted this dress a couple months ago I didn't realize how much of a staple it would become in my closet.  I love the beautiful spring colors and of course the floral print.  I can't stop wearing it!  Incidentally this dress is on super sale right now.  

You can find it here:  floral maxi dress.

a big thanks to Zack for taking these pictures for me!