Spare Room Make-over: Scrapbooking Storage Bench

When planning out the space, we decided that the spare room would become my dressing room as well as my new scrapbooking room. I already had a scrapbooking room located off the back of the spare room. I loved the room as it was banked with a wall of windows and offered great light. However, it wasn’t very functional and I found most of my projects were done in the evening and I rarely got to enjoy the windows anyway. After years of contemplation, I finally relented and we both decided that the benefits of main floor laundry far out weighed my reasons for keeping it as my scrapbooking room. So I needed to create a space that was visually appealing, functional and could be kept neat and tidy.

Once again, I decided that in order to make this really work, I had to go through the painstaking task of sorting through all of my scrapbooking and project supplies. Although I still had Marie Kondo fresh on my mind, it was impossible to follow the same steps I used for sorting my clothes only two days before. This job involved literally hundreds of small items that needed to be sorted, organized and in some cases tossed or donated. I literally went through every piece of paper and brad I had in my possession. Purging my clothes was a big job, but this was a monster. It took me two very long days to get through everything, but in the end, every item would have a proper home.

As I cleaned and sorted, I tried to think about how I was going organize everything neatly into the new space. The scrapbooking albums were a bit of a challenge to figure out. They are large and needed a shelf that would be about 14″ deep and approximately 3 feet long. They are very heavy and the books themselves are several different colours. I really wanted the colour scheme to be very neutral with white accessories. After pondering for a few days, I stumbled upon a bench seat that had been given to me by a colleague. She thought I might be able to use it for a project some day. Although the bench was rather plain and needed some work, it was sturdy. I was so excited when I tried an album and discovered that it held my whole collection perfectly. I decided to give it a fresh coat of white paint and upholster the top to create a comfortable seat to use while dressing. Here is what the bench looked like before I started.

Upholstering the top what quite easy. I just removed it and added foam and padding from an old leather chair Tim had just dismantled. It was really just a matter of using a staple gun to secure the padding and fabric. I then added a piece of white material to give it more of a finished look when you lift the lid. The fabric was discounted and I managed to pick it up for around $7.  After adding the extra piece of wood along the front and upholstering the top, the bench boasts a whole new look. Simple, but lovely.

I couldn’t be more pleased with the finished bench. I am so glad I figured out how to make the albums accessible and yet out of site. The thought of having all of the different coloured albums up on a shelf was just not the look I was going for. Can’t wait until the whole room is pulled together. Just a few more projects and it will be done.  Stay tuned for the next project I have to share from our spare room make-over.

Spare Room Make-over: The Purge ~ Clothing Cast-a-ways!

As mentioned in a previous post, one of the struggles with an older home is the lack of suitable closet space. I never realized how disorganized my clothes were until my friend Robin began sharing with me some of what she learned by reading Marie Kondo’s book on how to organize your life. While we painted the spare room, she shared some of Marie’s thoughts on how to de-clutter and free yourself/life of the weight of all of those things you’ve collected, but don’t really need or even use. I must confess, I haven’t yet read the book. Never the less, I decided to take action and apply some of the tips I learned. I got up the next morning feeling inspired and began to tackle my clothing problem.

Clothing Cast-a-ways:

Step 1:

Collect all of your clothing and I mean all. Every stitch ~ from off-season to outerwear. Dump it all in the centre of a room on the floor. This is key – you must see it all together in order to be able to truly sort it. pile of clothes

I have never felt that I own many clothes. I hate shopping and seem to add only a few new items a year to what I already own. I don’t believe in waste and am not one to spoil myself. Having grown up with very little money, I learned at an early age how to stretch a dollar. (This is not always good, sometimes we need to learn to break free of the belief systems from our past as they can in fact hold us back in life ~ I’m still working on this.) I regularly donate clothes that we no longer wear and I honestly didn’t believe that this would be too big of a job for me. Wrong.

Step 2:

Sort the clothes into three piles: keep, donate and toss

Keep Donate Toss

The far pile is my “keep” pile, the one to the right for “donation” and the smallest was what I deemed garbage. (You can see the bottom two shelves of the armoire in the background ~ this is a mad mess of board games that now have a new home – yay!)

Step 3:

Toss the garbage and bag up the items to be donated.

Left over hangers

Here is a tub with the left over hangers.

I was astounded when I ended up with one black garbage bag of clothes to toss and three more to donate. How was it even possible that I had 4 black garbage bags of clothes that I didn’t really want or need? I felt like I had been through my clothes regularly, but the difference really was having it all in one place. One of the things that my friend shared that really helped me to part with items was to stop and ask myself how a particular item made me feel when I wore it. If I didn’t love it and feel great in it, then why keep it. I quickly realized that I had kept many items that I would try-on and end up hanging back-up because I really didn’t like the way it made me feel. Some of the items were virtually new and just never made me feel good about myself when I put them on. It was so freeing to finally just allow myself to be honest and discard what I really didn’t like without feeling guilty. After all, someone else might embrace that same item and be blessed by it.

Step 4:

Sort the “keep” pile ~ t-shirts, pants, scarves, underwear, socks, etc.

Step 5:

Fold and organize all of the clothing that you are planning to keep.

Traditionally, I have hung most of my clothes. I don’t know why I opted to hang, but I think I believed that it would save me having to press everything before wearing it. I’m a pretty low maintenance person and the thought of ironing all of my laundry was just not going to fly. I spend enough hours doing laundry as it is and my iron is used only on a “as necessary” basis. However, when your clothes are crammed onto hangers and squeezed into closets that are too small, they rarely escape without creases. The idea of folding everything seemed almost foreign to me, but I decided to do what Marie suggested and give it a try because what I was doing just wasn’t working. I even followed her suggestions on how to fold the items. I was already doing the vertical folding, but this took it all to a whole new level. She doesn’t believe in storing clothes and says you should be able to see every item of clothing you own.

My plan was to use the armoire which had previously housed a mish-mash of items including my pants, board games, linen, fabric, batteries and a few other odds and ends. This meant finding new homes for everything that didn’t fit into the category “Cindy’s Clothes”. The armoire has mesh wire doors and you can see into it. I know Marie suggests using containers/boxes you already own, but I wasn’t okay with this since they would be visible. I didn’t spend much, but did pick-up a few containers to add to what I already owned. I really just wanted them all to be white. I began the process of folding my clothes with the goal being to fit everything in one cabinet and one closet.

In the end, I was able to downsize considerably. I no longer store my off-season clothes in a huge tub in the basement and was able to give up the dresser I was using in the master bedroom. I now have almost everything in one place. The armoire is full, but completely organized and not cluttered at all. It contains both my summer and winter clothes. My main closet has the few items I chose to hang. All of those easily fit on the top bar in the closet. The bottom bar was completely empty, but I decided to move my hoodies from the hook on the back of the master bedroom door to the bottom bar in the closet. I do still have the closet in the master bedroom for longer items such as dresses. It isn’t very full, but the length doesn’t allow them to fit in my main closet in the spare room. My outerwear is still kept at the back door.

It feels so light and airy with all the extra clothes gone. So far I haven’t missed one item. Everything I own is at my fingertips and visible. The change is dramatic, but I will admit it took me a long time to complete this job. I was so busy that week that I honestly don’t remember exactly how many hours I worked on this from start to finish, but I think it was more than 10. It is a huge task, but the payoff is tremendous. I love how accessible everything is and find that I spend so much less time getting ready in the morning because I only kept items I like!

The time spent definitely took away from the time I had to work on transforming the spare room, but was completely necessary if the make-over was going to be successful in the end.

If you are interested in learning more about what Marie has to say in her book, but aren’t ready to buy it, check-out One Kings Lane for a post outlining 8 of Marie’s decluttering lessons. I for one can’t wait to read the book!

Spare Bedroom Make-Over: Chandelier Upcycle

Before and after chandelier

The bulbs look black, but I haven’t changed them because they are still working!

When we first moved into our house, we set-up our dining room in the large room next to our kitchen. This seemed logical since it was close to the kitchen and had a large chandelier in the (almost) center of the room. This always bugged me because it was mounted in a small square section of the ceiling created by the beams ~ so beautiful and yet, not centered! Not only did I not love the chandelier itself, but the fact that it was not properly centered drove me a bit crazy.

Eventually we realized that perhaps this space was better suited for our living room and so we switched the two rooms around. Although we had every intention of replacing the chandelier with a ceiling fan (we have no air conditioning), we didn’t really know what to do with the chandelier and felt a bit bad about getting rid of it as it was original to the home and almost a hundred years old.

I know I might get hate mail for this, but original or not, I hated the brass. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to upcycle the chandelier and make it into a really beautiful piece. One of the first mini-projects we did for my new space was to remove the chandelier from the living room. We carefully took all of the glass pieces off and put them through the dishwasher to make them sparkling clean. I gave the brass a good cleaning and then spray painted the entire thing white. I had the spray paint on hand, so this project cost me nothing! I suppose the can of paint was probably about $6 or so.  I absolutely love the transformation and it looks amazing in the spare room. (We will need to purchase a proper fixture for the living room as this looks hideous, but is preferable to the hanging wires from the chandelier. I don’t mind the expense of this because it is something we had planned to do anyway.)

One of the keys to decorating on a budget is to try to find things you already own and make them work in new way. Often paint or even just a fresh perspective can bring new life to an item you already have. For this room, we primarily used items we already had around the house. Keep an eye out for upcoming posts on how we transformed other pieces for this space.

Spare Bedroom Make-Over

I find that my relationship with our house is a bit of a love/hate one. It was built in 1921 and exudes character. I love the high ceilings, oak beams, mouldings and built-ins, but in most rooms, the lay-out is a bit of a nightmare. Being such an old home, there is nothing “open” about the design. In our 2300 square feet, we have 2 bedrooms, a large landing and bathroom upstairs and the main floor has a total of 9 rooms (kitchen, mud room, bathroom, scrapbooking room, spare bedroom, master bedroom, dining room, living room and library). Obviously, each room has at least one door/entrance, but many have multiple. For example, our kitchen and living room both have three entry points. In addition to the doors/entrances, each room has a radiator and most have multiple windows. I know this may sound pretty normal, but trust me….it’s not. Almost every room, is tricky to make functional because there are literally no free walls to work with. On my entire main floor, there is exactly one wall that is a full wall without any obstructions! This makes furniture placement extremely difficult. Such is the case with our spare room. The room is 12′ X 8 1/2″ feet. It has a total of 3 doors (entrance, closet and former scrapbooking room entrance) as well as a window with a radiator below it.

Despite the fact that both of our kids have walk-in closets in their upstairs bedrooms, our master bedroom is limited to two very small closets. As a result, my clothes were dispersed as follows… closet in the master bedroom, one dresser in the master bedroom, one closet in the spare room, a portion of the armoire in the spare bedroom and a large tub of off-season clothes in the basement, as well as outdoor clothing in the basement, front closet and at the back door. Yikes!  On top of the chaos of my clothes literally being all over the house, the spare bedroom was anything but a spare bedroom. For starters, there is no bed! Because the room never really had a designated purpose it slowly became a dumping ground for anything and everything that didn’t really have a proper home. It was also the place I would often do small projects like furniture painting. It housed the vacuum, linen, board games, some books, my sewing machine and sewing paraphernalia, some of the kids old school work/projects, picture frames that were yet to be hung and let’s not forget the old piano that I had hopes of some day upcycling. It was a disaster and I absolutely hated it!  Life had been so busy and I just hadn’t had the blocks of time needed to attack this space, but on the first Saturday of spring break, my husband and I devised a plan…finally!

This was one of two rooms that we never bothered to paint when we moved in. Do you have any idea what it’s like to start everyday getting dressed in a room that is drab, ugly and cluttered. I’m not sure what the paint colour was, but it was a yucky brown that never appealed to me … even for a minute!

So, armed with a plan and some tools, I began step one which was taking care of the old piano that had become a thorn in my side. I had to look at that beast in the corner of the room every day.  Although I find upcycling super therapeutic, in this case my therapy came from destroying that piano and reducing it to a pile of rubble. I’m actually surprised I didn’t take any pictures of the process. I’m not sure if anyone has ever really tried to take a 100 year old piano apart, but let’s just say they sure don’t make glue like they used to. At first, I tried to salvage some of the wood, but I quickly realized that number one, it was all laminate and not solid good quality wood and number two – no amount of strength and elbow grease was going to take that thing apart. In the end, I called in the reinforcements and Tim attacked it with our saws-all. After about 3 hours of prying, sawing and unscrewing, we had it in small enough pieces that we could remove the rubble. Just having it out of the room felt totally amazing!

TidewaterWith the piano gone, I was off to the paint store to pick-out colours and get this project started. I patched, primed and painted the room a beautiful shade of light blue called Tidewater.  I found the colour in the Sherwin Williams paint store, but decided to stick with my trusty Benjamin Moore Regal paint. They took the colour swatch and made the colour up for me. I absolutely LOVE how the paint colour transformed the space!

With the walls painted, the list other projects seemed to grow daily. Our plans included changing the light fixture, creating storage for all (most) of my clothes and relocating my scrapbooking/project room to the spare room, so that we could eventually move our laundry from the basement to my former scrapbooking room. In addition to the above, there were some basic things that had to be addressed to make both the spare room and the new laundry room more functional. The first being changing the door swing. If you look at the first picture, you’ll notice that the door swings open in such a way that the light switch is hidden behind the door – this has been a “bee in my bonnet” since the day we moved in. Why? That’s all I have to say ~ Why? Why would you install the light switch behind the door? It makes absolutely no sense. Fortunately, my husband is super handy and can pretty much do anything. He changed the swing for me, so the door now opens the other way. I also wanted to get rid of the laundry room door. Again, the room is super small and the door swing is a huge pain in the butt. When it was my scrapbooking room, I always had to go in and close the door behind me as it was constantly in the way. This was especially annoying because the room is super hot in the summer with a wall full of windows and chilly in the winter because most of our house is insulated with air. Yes, seriously. Despite the fact that our house has stucco, we discovered during a former renovation that our exterior walls are actually two layers of brick with a small air gap between that is supposed to serve as an insulating barrier. (In choosing insulation, I would suggest picking something other than air. I think the R value is quite low on air!)  My solution, a barn door! So, Tim agreed to build and install a bar door so that we no longer have to deal with the cumbersome door in such a small space. Of course, this meant the light switch for the laundry room had to be moved from outside the room (where the barn door will slide) to inside the laundry room. Thank goodness Tim does electrical too!

So with plans in place, my week off turned into a week of 8 to 14 hour days of working like a dog.  Strangely, for me ploughing through my “to do list” equals a fantastic holiday, so all is good. I got so much accomplished and am totally loving my space despite the fact that it hasn’t been completed.

Watch for upcoming posts in which I’ll be sharing the various projects that went into transforming this space from drab to fab!

Hockey Wreath

So much to write about….so little time. I must admit I’m on a bit of a high right now. I’m just back to work following spring break and I had the most productive week ever. I honestly can’t even believe how much I got accomplished. Over the next few weeks, I promise to share some of my projects and hopefully our spare room make-over will be ready to reveal. So exciting!

Play Kitchen

For now, a quick post to share a wreath I just made for a fundraiser. A friend posted a picture of a similar wreath on her Facebook page and I absolutely loved it! I’d planned on making one for my own front door to put up in early fall and carry me through until closer to Christmas. I never got around to it, but when Eden’s volleyball team decided to do a fundraiser with Winnipeg Auction, I thought I’d make one as part of my submission. I thought others might like the idea as much as I did. I’m hoping the auction will also be a great forum to finally get rid of my upcycled play kitchen that is still in my basement! If anyone is interested in checking out our Vision Elite Volleyball auction follow the above link. Our auction runs from April 10th to 16th.

Here’s the wreath.

Hockey WreathCan’t get much easier than this. Wreath, gloves, cut down stick and puck. Used some wire and hot glue to put it together and voila! I look forward to making another one to put up this fall.