Fine Diving Has Moved!


If your web brower has landed on the old version of Fine Diving, please visit the new site HERE. See you there!  Diana


Twenty Eight: Site Makeover


This week, I’m giving the site a redo. Like cell phones, blog designs can get old fast when new models come on the market. Now that the site has been published for six months, it’s a perfect time for some reinvention.

There’s no turning back now that I’m past the halfway point in converting from one WordPress theme to a new one. It sounds easy as snapping your fingers, but simple is almost always deceptively so, yes?  In fact, as I write this, I can’t think of one thing that’s simplicity wasn’t arrived at in a complicated way.  That makes the authors of blogging software like WordPress geniuses in my book for gathering up this pond of science and creating an art form simple enough for me to muck around in.  Meet you back here when I take off the waders.

Twenty Seven: Kid’s Chest


Item: Plain chest with an antique kit finish, given to me by my brother-in-law.

The Makeover: Speaking for everyone who can’t draw well, we can still use paint as a medium of our imaginations with the help of…..masking tape.  I used a size large roll of it to give a juvenile graphic theme to this chest.

kidschest2Step 1: I sand and painted overall with white semi-gloss. I used an orbital sander to smooth the striations from the antique kit finish. I chose semi-gloss paint for easy clean-up, since this will be used in a kid’s room.

Step 2: I mapped out the design on the chest with a ruler and pencil.

Step 3: I taped the borders in sections, then painted. As the paint dried, I  moved on to a new section.


Materials: Semi-gloss white paint, artists acrylic color, masking tape. I used colors straight from the tube and also mixed them and combined with the semi-gloss white.


Field Trip: MSI Smart Home

Smart House
Touring the smart house is like walking through the pages of Dwell. Clean, green pre-fab design on the outside.  Inside, plenty of eye candy. And as you walk around, the obvious question floats through the three levels:  how much does all this cost? The green-coated tour guide quoted a price of $450,000 for the house, not including the lot or the furnishings.  Not attainable for most, but the smart house demonstrates ideas large and small that make perfect sense for use in any home, such as watering the plants with grey water and using a kitchen composter.

What I found most eye-catching and inspiring is the use of local designers and sources.


Chicago artist Ted Harris designed the lighting above the dining room table. These are made from motorcycle parts.

smarthouse3A lamp made from found parts by Harris sits on the night table in the master bedroom.

smarthouse4Steel dining room table by midwesterner John Steel.



Locally made, eco natural lounge furniture by Verde Design Studio.


Out in the garage, work and storage bench from recycled wood.



Upstairs in the nursery, art work by muralist  Jeff Zimmerman.


In the kid’s bedroom, birch bed donated by Grow-modern Organic Kids on Division.  Flor carpet tiles, which are also used in the office here:


And red Flor tiles in the entryway.


From Women’s Jacket to Dog Coat


From the pet issue of TimeOut Chicago. Anybody need a model who can hold her tongue just so?  This is Reese, an alum of Orphans of the Storm, age 7.

dog-2To make the dog jacket, I referred to a pattern online and made a new one from it. Here’s a link to the new dog coat pattern.  Will fit a medium-size canine, about 50 pounds–okay, 55 pounds–with the approximate measurements:  19″ from neck to tail and 31″ around the middle.

To fit the pattern for your dog,  measure the dog’s back length and middle girth.  Then print the file, resize it and drape it over the dog to check the size before cutting your fabric. I’m technically challenged here, but trying to figure out how to tile the pdf so that it will print in actual size. When ready, I’ll replace the pdf, and you can plan for a custom fall designer jacket.

Brother-in-Law’s Chest


What more is there to say about in-laws that hasn’t already been expressed Henny Youngman or Jay Leno’s joke writers.  Like this one:

A woman woke her husband in the middle of the night and told him “there is a burglar downstairs in the kitchen and he is eating the cake that my mother made for us.”
The husband said, “who shall I call, the police or an ambulance?”

Take my brother-in-law, a CPS teacher who spent many summers trekking through the UK and collecting antiques.  His apartment just off Melrose was full of gleaming old mahogany and silver.  After marriage and moving a few years ago, he cleared out of some of the rejects, like a nondescript 3-drawer chest with an old timey antique kit finish.  He’d used it for storage, something my house was short on, so I brought it home and did the same.

It’s now ready for a makeover. The above picture is similar to my brother-in-law’s chest, but grabbed from flickr since I’ve already started on the redo with an overall sanding and coat of white paint.  I’m doing a juvenile theme, one that will require a roll of masking tape in the production.

Twenty Six: 3 Projects With Chalkboard Paint

framed chalkboard

These ideas aren’t new, lots of people have done them before me, but what’s great about each is how it can add a little interactive fun in your space, no electrical cord required.  They’re easy to do since chalkboard paint is so forgiving. It dries fast – you’ll see the second coat dry in about 10 minutes.  It dries smooth, too, despite the brushstrokes when wet.

chalk frame 2

For the framed chalkboard, I cut a piece of plywood to size to slip into the back of the picture frame. I covered it with 2 coats of black chalkboard paint.  You can still see the texture of the plywood through the paint, but I like the character-add quality.  Then, since I thought the black on white looked a little severe, I painted a border with blue semi-gloss, sort of a self matte.  To finish, I stapled the inside the frame with a staple gun to secure the board.

lack chalkboard table

Project 2: Here’s the Ikea Lack table. For this one, I added a painted border that looks like chalk.

Step one, I roughed up the surfaces of the table, but  just lightly since the laminate is thin as onion skin.  It was ripply in spots on the top but I went with it, more character-add. Then, 2 coats of chalkboard paint.  For the border design, I printed out a template for a swag design (pdf) from Martha Stewart.  I cut out the stencil holes then dabbed lime green paint with an artist’s brush on the table’s surface.  No need to be perfect.

chalk lack table

Project 3:  A flower vase on which you can adda pattern or remind yourself what kind of flowers you bought. These are courtesy of my neighbor’s yard – Bluebells and Jacob’s Ladder. They’ll never miss them.


I put 2 coats of paint on this, too, and love the way it turned out.  For more vases and ideas for chalkboard paint, Apartment Therapy has a round-up  starting here.
Got an original chalkboard project you’d like to post? Email me now.  I’d love to hear the details.  Great weekend, everyone!