Master Bedroom Makeover #5: Pillows, Pillows and More Pillows!

When designing our new space, I originally thought that if we got the painting, feature wall and lighting finished, we could putter away at the rest over time. Initially, our thought was to replace our queen sized bed with a king which would also lead to new bedding. We weren’t really ready to buy a mattress yet, so this was really all about getting the room ready for the new bed. I had already picked out a beautiful navy and white duvet cover, so the entire design was based on the new bedding I would purchase down the road.

Luckily, my current bedding was white, so my new navy and white colour scheme would still work even though we had yet to purchase our new King sized mattress and bedding. Because I didn’t actually have the new bedding, I decided that for the time being, I would just take all of my old throw cushions and make new covers for them. I’m no seamstress, but I’ve done quite a bit of sewing over the years. I made a combination of simple covers….some with an envelope style closure and some with zippers. I’m not sure, but I don’t think there is such a thing as too many pillows…is there?

The surprising part was that through the process, two unexpected things happened. The first being that when we first dismantled our queen sized bed for painting, we discovered that the frame was not only bent, but also had two broken wheels. As a temporary sleep solution while painting the room, we just set the mattress and box spring directly on the floor. To our complete amazement the tossing and turning and disrupted sleeps greatly diminished. In fact, we are sleeping so much better that we are not even sure if we are going to purchase a new bed at all! The second surprise was that my “we’ll make this old bedding do for now” has evolved into…I actually love the new look and colour scheme and am not even sure if I am going to purchase new bedding. Let’s just say that these two discoveries may have just saved us a few thousand dollars…yay!!!

Life Hacks I Love~ Picture Perfect Pillows:

I recently saw this blog post on how to Keep Your Bed Pillows Looking Like New and thought it was genius! Basically, you purchase cheap pillows that are placed inside the shams you use on your made bed. I already did this, but what I didn’t do was actually remove my sleeping pillows from my bed! She suggested removing them completely from your made bed and storing them….I loved that idea! It just so happens that a friend had given me a lovely oversized basket that I hadn’t quite found a home for yet. It makes the perfect nest for our “sleeping pillows”. So now, when I make my bed each day, our sleeping pillows are stored in the basket and the pillows that are placed on our “made” bed are all fluffy and perfect because they’ve never been used! (I also love the splash of yellow on the basket and how it works with the navy and white colour scheme.)

Planning Your Pillows:

When you see the pictures of my “made” bed, you’ll immediately see that I didn’t actually follow any of these pictures to a tee, but there are great pillow decor guides available, like this one I found on Construction2Style. The guides are really great for helping you plan and figure out what to make/buy. This is especially good if you feel like you don’t know how to pull things together.

I decided to use two sets of standard pillows as a backdrop for my decorative throw cushions. (Since then I’ve decided to purchase 3 large Euro throws in navy, to separate the white bedding/pillows from the white shiplap wall. I haven’t found any yet, but it’s on my “to do” list.) The set that’s currently at the back are simple white shams that match my duvet cover.

BEFORE: Vintage Chenille Bedspread

I made the second set of shams from this vintage chenille bedspread that I found when cleaning out my dad’s apartment for his upcoming move. When you look closely, the fabric is a bit worn/thin and certainly not the pure white it once was, but I really wanted to incorporate it into the design. The bedspread was not in good enough condition to be used as intended, but I was able to make a few shams from what was salvageable. I must say they were a bit of a nightmare to make. The fabric had some stretch to it and my sewing machine wasn’t really cooperating. I feel like those shams might win the prize for my worst sewing project ever! In fact, I made so many mistakes on the first one that the design had to change several times to accommodate for the medley of errors. By the time I was ready to make the second one, I was dreading it for so many reasons…but mostly because I had no idea how to duplicate what I did on the first one!🤪 In the end, the shams turned out okay.

AFTER: Vintage Chenille Pillow Shams

Next in line was the navy blue furry pillow. I loved the texture and when I saw it at Home Sense, I just had to get it. One of the things that you always want to think about in your bed/pillow design is texture. As you plan, consider incorporating various different fabrics and textures.

When I decided to re-do the bedroom colour scheme, it was obvious that the coffee table bench I had previously upcycled would need a facelift, as well. Not only would the colour no longer work, but there were some stains/marks on the fabric, so it was replacement time anyway. (First photo on the left.) At first I thought I would give it a fresh coat of white paint as well, but in the end I decided to sand it back to distress it further. Once the fabric was purchased, it was a simple task to remove the old cover and staple gun on the new one. I used left over fabric to make the next throw cushion on the bed.

The last cushion is one of my favourites. I made a plain white cover for an old throw cushion from an old tab top curtain panel that had a hole in it. (I’m not quite sure why they hadn’t been tossed yet, but the fabric from those old curtains came in handy this summer.) This fabric was used to make several interior pillow slips as well as cushion covers. This shortcut ended up saving me time and money, so I’m glad I’d kept them. I made a plain zipper-close cover and then used the following tutorial as a guide to make my own “quote” pillow. Basically, I used the freezer paper technique to make a stencil that could be ironed onto the pillow. What a brilliant idea! I have a Cricut machine, so I didn’t have to do the laborious task of cutting out the stencil, as it cuts out the design for me. I will definitely being making more of these!

It is amazing how well this technique works. The stencil comes out so crisp and clean!

I also used this tutorial to guide the design of another cushion cover made from the tab top curtain panel. To add a bit on interest to the otherwise plain white pillow, I used this sunburst technique. This pillow is sitting on the Ikea Poang chair and ottoman we purchased on Kijiji for $45. It is a bit of a creamier white than the rest of the room, but I actually love mixing whites!

The navy chair cushion came from a set of napkins/placemats I purchased at a garage sale for a dollar. The set included 6 napkins and 2 placemats all of which were used to make cushion covers. I used most of them in my front porch makeover.

Although throw cushions can be super expensive running from $25 each to well over $100, it is possible to achieve the look you want by making your own, upcycling old cushions or even adding/changing inexpensive covers you’ve purchased (like adding a quote). Sometimes it’s just a matter of patience and determination. I was able to purchase the chair and ottoman, pillows for inside my shams, fabric (thread, zippers, etc.), fabric paint and the new navy cushion for well under $150 (maybe just over $100). The key is knowing the look you want and then having the patience to find ideas that you can manage and then setting aside the time to do the projects. Don’t rush through to finish, but rather embrace it as a process.

Although I’ll soon be revealing the entire master bedroom makeover…. it is not actually done and may not be for another year! I have no art or pictures on the walls yet and am still trying to figure out exactly what I want. I’m okay with letting it evolve overtime. If I rush to finish the room, I know I won’t be happy with it. I’d rather ponder ideas and come up with a plan that I’ll be happy with long term. You can’t rush creativity!!!

Master Bedroom Makeover Part 4: Bedside Built-ins

Bedside Pocket
Bedside Pockets

If you’ve been following my blog and specifically the series on our master bedroom makeover, you already know that the layout of our master bedroom does not allow for any sort of bedside table or night stand. To compensate for this, we previously used little pockets on the sides of the bed for storage of glasses, lip balm, books, etc. I made the pockets several years ago and although they served the purpose for the most part, what I always desired was built-in cubbies on either side of the bed. I was so excited when my husband agreed to build them! It seemed like the perfect timing because he had already committed to installing sconces that required wiring and a light switch.

Basically, he built boxes that would be installed between the studs of the closets that bank both sides of the bed. The boxes were custom designed from scrap wood according to our individual needs. Mine was built a bit deeper than Tim’s to accommodate my alarm clock and my books. Although this meant that it impinged a bit further into my closet, I was totally okay with that because I only use this space for dresses. We painted the boxes and then added a frame around the edge after installation.

BEFORE:

You can see the wall banking the closet to the left of the bed. This is where the bedside built-in was installed. (You can also get a glimpse of my old ceiling fan before it was upcycled to more of a vintage farmhouse style.)

AFTER:

I love how Tim also incorporated outlets & a charging station into the design. I really didn’t want cords dangling all over the place and this completely solved the problem. I always charge my phone in the kitchen, but my husband keeps his beside the bed, so a USB port was needed. Tim doesn’t tend to use the full height of his cubby, but I like to put my water bottle in mine at night, so needed the extra space. We might install an additional shelf in his at some point. You can see the dimmer switch for the sconces on my side of the bed below my cubby. (We thought of putting one on each side of the bed, but decided that in our house I am almost always the first one to bed and am the only one that reads in bed, so it just made sense for me to have the switch on my side. )

I am so happy with how the bedside built-ins turned out!

Stay tuned for upcoming Master Bedroom Makeover posts on DIY throw cushions, DIY curtains and room reveals.

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Master Bedroom Makeover Part 3: Ceiling Fan Upcycle ~ Farmhouse Style

I’ve watched my fair share of HGTV shows and I can honestly say that ceiling fans are generally not in their bag of design tricks. I probably wouldn’t opt for a ceiling fan in my master bedroom either, but the reality is that we live in a 1921 home with no central air. We get by with a few portable air conditioners, but I literally could not survive without the added air movement created by our ceiling fan. Bottom line…it was a non-negotiable. So the only other option was to figure out a way to make it look like it belongs in our farmhouse style design. There are actually some decent options available in new fans, but our fan worked fine and there really was no reason to replace it other than the dated style.

As mentioned in my last post, this isn’t actually my fan, but a picture that I found online that closely resembles what ours looked like pre-upcycling. By the time I thought of taking a picture, mine already looked like this.

Tim dismantled the entire fan and then taped off the parts that needed to be protected from the spray paint. You can see the blue painter’s tape over the light sockets. This upcycle projects was relatively easy to do. I spray painted all of the silver pieces a matte black. I did need to do a few coats to ensure even coverage, but it was quick to paint and the dry time was short as well. I gave the blades a coat of regular white house paint and let them dry. I then used a dry brush technique to distress the blades using a combination of grey and dark brown paint. (Dry brushing is a technique that uses very little paint on a dry brush.) When dry brushing, it is important to add the paint very sparingly, work it in with the dry brush and then repeat until you get the desired look. I didn’t have brown paint on hand, so I just picked up a small bottle of all purpose crafter’s paint and it worked fine. To distress the blades even further, I used a light sandpaper to blend the colours and sand back some of the paint I had applied. Seems a bit counterproductive, but it’s how you achieve the look.

Tim reassembled the fan and replaced the old glass shades with these cool light bulb cages we found on Amazon. We added amber coloured light bulbs that I bought on clearance at Michael’s for $3 (regular $12). I honestly can’t believe how awesome it turned out!

Stay tuned for Part 4 and find out how we solved the issue of “no bedside tables”.

Master Bedroom Makeover: Part 2 Custom Wall Sconces

Initially when we were considering lighting in the alcove, I was set on pot lights. These would eliminate the need for the lamp that rested on the headboard (sometimes…when it wasn’t falling over). The issue with the room layout was that the closets banking both sides of the bed made it impossible for a nightstand of any kind. Years ago, I made bedside pocket storage for both sides of the bed to help solve this issue, but it still wasn’t ideal, as you really can’t fit a lamp in a pocket!!

It was actually Tim’s idea to mount sconces instead of pot lights. Originally, I was like “no” I really want pot lights, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. Of course, the issue with me is that I don’t just want normal store bought sconces….I wanted something original that would fit with the overall design I had in mind. Lucky for me, this wasn’t a hard sale. I found a few DIY sconces on Pinterest that I liked and Tim set to work. Although he didn’t follow this plan to a tee, this is the style he modelled ours after. We had seen some really awesome fixtures with pulleys and decided to incorporate that into the design as well.

Custom Farmhouse Style Light Sconces:

Tim constructed the sconces out of…you guessed it…scrap wood we already had. I decided on a dark stain to contrast the very white walls. We also just happened to have two old clothesline pulleys in the basement. We had removed the previous owners clothesline (from the basement rafters) when we moved in, but luckily Tim kept them. We ordered the wire and light kit from Amazon. The light sockets came in a set of four for $22.99. The cord was a bit pricey at $25.99, but there was enough for both sconces, a new fixture in the kitchen and still extra for another project. This was a relatively simple project for Tim to build, but the wiring made it a bigger project. I am honestly so lucky…my man can do anything!!

I found some amber vintage style light bulbs on clearance at Michaels. The original price was $12 each, but they were clearing them for $3, so needless to say I bought several. We tossed around several ideas and even sampled a few different “shades” for the sconces, but in the end we settled on upcycled lamp shade frames. I picked up this set of shades for $3 at the thrift store, removed all the beads and then rigged up some wire across the top to hold the “shade” in place. I must admit removing the beads was a brutal job. There must have been a million of those little suckers and all were individually beaded onto fine wire. Not only did it take me a couple of hours to remove the beads and wires, but my fingers were filthy and super sore from the tedious work and wire pokes😣. The final step was to spray paint the completed shade a matte black.

I love the way they turned out! Tim did such an amazing job with the building, staining and installation of the sconces. The amber light isn’t as bright, but is still fine for reading. I love that he put them on a dimmer switch, so that we can adjust the light depending on our needs.

Keep an eye out for my next Master Bedroom Makeover post where I’ll share how we transformed our old ceiling fan, so it would work with our new farmhouse bedroom design.

(Disclaimer: I never took a picture of my old fan before we took it all apart, but this one is very close to the original design of ours.)

Master Bedroom Makeover: Part 1

When we first moved into our home in 2008, my husband worked a night shift. Although I wanted our bedroom to look nice, I never saw it as a sanctuary. Our primary concern when painting was to create a space that allowed him to sleep during the day. At that time, a blue & brown colour combination was a thing. We opted to paint 3 walls chocolate brown and one a powder blue colour. The curtains we chose were room darkening to assist with his daytime sleep schedule. Neither of us ever spent time in our room. It was basically a sleep room. In fact, it often seemed like making the bed was a dumb idea. I would get up for work just as Tim was getting home and settling into bed and vice versa at the end of the day. And so, for 12 years, our room was a a dark dungeon-like room. Although it may not appear dark, you must keep in mind that the curtains were rarely opened because of Tim’s work schedule. I scoured my archives for before photos and this is all I could come up with. These shots show the powder blue wall, but only a glimpse of the chocolate brown walls. When Tim finally got a day shift in May of 2019, a bedroom makeover seemed appropriate.

I spent several months pondering what I wanted the new space to look like. I knew that I wanted our room to be super bright with an aura of “lightness”. In addition to wanting to paint and transform the space, we had both been complaining about restless sleeps for months. We thought that the solution might be a new king sized bed. We currently have a queen, but in all honesty, it seems cramped, especially with our dog, Hershey, in bed with us every night! I am a hot sleeper and between the “heat” and the dog, I felt like I spent most of the night thrashing around and Tim felt like he spent most of the night responding to the after shocks of my thrashing. Neither of us were sleeping well! 🤪

I finally came up with a plan. Although we weren’t really ready to purchase a King size bed yet, we knew that we would need a custom platform bed to accommodate the space in our room. The head of the bed would need to fit in the alcove between the two existing closets and although a king mattress would fit, it would be tight and Tim would need to build the bed to make it work. We decided to go ahead with the room design and build the platform and then we could just place our queen on the new platform until we decided to purchase a king mattress. And so the transformation began to unfold….

Step 1: Feature Wall Installation

You can see that Tim has already done the wiring for our new sconces!!

For many years now, I longed to transform our little alcove at the head of the bed. I envisioned a feature wall and custom lighting. One of the cool things about our 1921 unfinished basement is that at some point many decades ago, some walls were put up and they were built using….wait for it…wait for it….shiplap!! Yay! I always knew that at some point we would either reclaim and use the wood elsewhere in the house or incorporate it into our someday finished basement design. It just so happened that we removed a wall a few years ago and of course, kept all of the old shiplap. Tim measured it all out and began to construct the “puzzle” of shiplap pieces. Here is the picture of the shiplap wall pre-painting. (I actually like the randomness of the pieces and finishes, but it wasn’t the look I was going for in this space.) This also gives you a peak at the new navy wall paint.

Step 2: Priming and Painting

Of course, we knew this would not be a quick and easy paint job because we were covering the 3 existing chocolate brown walls with white! The light blue wall was going to be a combination of white and navy blue. We ended up priming everything….including the ceiling which we had painted light blue as well…Why? I don’t know. That was sure a pain to prime and paint. So, with one coat of primer and 3 coats of paint….the room began to take on a whole new look!

Stay tuned for more master bedroom projects and photos!

Front Porch Makeover #4: It’s All in the Details

If you have been following my blog for any amount of time you will know that almost everything in my house is recycled, upcycled, salvaged or some kind of a DIY project. Our electronics, sofa/chair and mattresses would be the primary exceptions. I can stretch a dollar like there is no tomorrow and can transform a space on a very limited budget. However, this process definitely takes time, patience, perseverance and often, hard work, but the results always seem to be worth it.

On rare occasions, I will make one “splurge” in a space. Keep in mind a splurge for me is still not very extravagant, but rather implies I broke down and bought something brand new and didn’t get a great sale price 😥

The new cushions for our 10 year old wicker patio furniture would be my front porch splurge. We have needed to replace the very old and worn out original seat covers for more than a few summers now, but despite looking, I never followed through. As mentioned in my first Front Porch post, I felt very limited because of the colour of my house. I tried to find cushions that would match, but to no avail. It’s just a weird colour. Out of pure desperation, I made a decision that I had to commit to something as the old ones were literally falling apart. It was actually when I decided to stop trying to “match” the colour that I finally had a break through. If we were to paint the exterior of our house, I would love to paint it navy with white trim. There are a few houses in our neighbourhood with navy stucco and white trim and they are beautiful. As I thought about this, it suddenly dawned on me that just maybe navy blue would work with my current house colour. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any cushions locally, so I resorted to ordering from Wayfair. Although we do quite a bit of online shopping, I hated the idea of ordering expensive cushions online. I would have much preferred to buy them locally, try them out and then return them if I didn’t like the look. Going with an accent colour seemed a bit risky because of the colour of our house, but we took the plunge and ordered despite our reservations. After pondering the new cushions for a few days, we both decided we loved the look!

The other strange part of this front porch makeover was that we have these old cedar deck chairs that were purchased when we owned our cottage about 18 years ago. The canvas seats are still in perfect condition and wash well in the washing machine as needed. The issue was that the canvas was green. Again, I felt completely at a loss with this green? We love the chairs, but I could not get my head around how to work with the house colour, the green canvas and new cushions. My neighbour is great with colour and she said to look at the green as a neutral colour and an extension of my garden and plants. I had never considered this before, but sure enough the new cushions, green canvas and house colour all miraculously came together! In fact, I don’t even hate my house colour as much now that I learned to work with it and not fight it.

So, with our existing wicker furniture and new cushions, our old cedar chairs with the green canvas seats and our freshly painted swing and white shelf, the foundation for our space was set.

It’s All in the Details:

  • We decided to keep one of the end tables that I had previously upcycled several years ago, but needed to take some time to think about how to accessorize it a bit. We had this old camping lantern that we used when I was a kid, stored in the basement. We have never actually used it, but it still works fine. It brings back fond memories and I could never let it go for sentimental reasons. It now has the perfect home on our front porch. Beside it, I placed this cute little decorative watering from the dollar store. I added a sprig of dollar store greenery and “Voila!” the table was set.
  • The DIY Welcome Sign really helped to make the porch appear more inviting. The sign on its own wasn’t enough, so I added in the DIY Pillar Candle Holders I had made from salvaged couch legs. I picked up the galvanized pitcher at Michael’s for half price (maybe 60% off ) and slipped a 500ml empty plastic coke bottle into it so that I could add water and fresh greenery. The final item in this little display is another dollar store find….a second miniature watering can with a sprig of artificial greenery.
  • Although I am yet to start or complete my mailbox makeover, the Upcycled Vanity and flowers really helped to dress up this corner by our door. I love how the distressed shutter helps to soften the backdrop for the pink flowers which might not be a perfect colour match for the house and yet, they seem to work.
  • The freshly painted shelf certainly helps to anchor the space below the porch wall. It was a tricky space to work with because we needed to honour the space needed for the swing. We needed something narrow that wouldn’t interfere with the swing when in motion. This little shelf fit perfectly. I added a set of 3 dollar store plants, a stack of garage sale vintage books and an old drawer from our vintage sewing machine makeover. I may still add some little legs to it and actually put something in it, but for now it is just there!
  • I’m sort of into birdhouses this summer. Not sure how or why that started, but it did. I picked up both of these birdhouses at the dollar store. I set one on the shelf and the other beside the milk jug I bought with the galvanized pitcher from Michael’s.
  • Of course, we needed some new throw cushions. I would have to say I am still working on this. I had picked up 6 napkins and 2 placemats from a garage sale for $1 (for the whole set). I simply paired them up and sewed them all together leaving one side open. On the open side I added a velcro strip to close it. I actually can’t believe this deal. In the end, I got 4 throw pillows for $1. I had the velcro and navy thread on hand. I upcycled the old patio furniture cushions as well as a few I had in storage by adding more batting to them to fluff them up and give them new life. I had scrap white fabric on hand that I used to sew the new basic covers for the cushion inserts with the extra batting. I love the velvet edge that these cushions have. What a great deal and they look great. I am still sorting out how I am going to use the four cushions as I have another space where navy cushions will work as well. The green cushion and insert were picked up at a garage sale for 50 cents each.
  • We have these beautiful arches on our porch and for several years placed hanging plants there during the summer. The issue was that the porch doesn’t get much sunlight and some areas more than others. In addition, I found that I wasn’t great at tending to the plants and they quickly became more of an eye sore than focal point. This year, we opted to purchase some inexpensive Ikea lanterns to hang in lieu of the live plants. I love the look and the candle light is beautiful when sitting out on a summer evening.

Front Porch Makeover Before and After Shots:

BEFORE:

You can see a striped seat cushion on the single chair by the swing. The old seat cushions were reversible with solid brown on one side and a striped pattern on the other. The porch was certainly “okay”, but I had never taken any time to actually decorate the space.

AFTER:

Some paint, a few purchases and a bucket load of DIY projects later…here is the front porch. I still have a couple little decor project on my “to do” list, but here it is so far! The porch extends the whole width of our house which is 27 feet. The sitting area and entrance are about 8 1/2 feet deep and the swing end is about 6 1/2 feet wide. So this is a pretty large space and easily accommodates the two separate spaces. (If you click an image it will take you to slide show mode.)

Feeling so grateful to have our porch looking more presentable and inviting!

Front Porch Makeover #3: Just Add White!

I think this could literally be my mantra “Just Add White!” I LOVE LOVE LOVE all things white! White flowers, white walls, white furniture, white towels, white pillows, white bedding, white t-shirts…..WHITE RULES in my books!

In today’s post, I’m going to demonstrate how the simple act of adding white can dramatically change a piece/space! (Although this is a front porch post, I will say this is also foreshadowing our dramatic master bedroom makeover….stay tuned!)

We installed a cedar porch swing when we bought our house in 2008. It was starting to look pretty sad and I briefly tossed around the idea of staining it, but quickly settled on going with a durable exterior white paint instead.

BEFORE: Not only does this show the sad state of the swing, but of my porch in general!
AFTER: I know many people hesitate to paint out wood as they feel they are somehow damaging the integrity of the piece. I don’t think there is any denying that white paint took this swing from sad to spectacular!

When we moved into our 1921 home in 2008, the basement could not be described as “finished” but there were some walls up and a few different shelves and cabinets. This nasty little shelf was one of them. It was wobbly and pretty much useless, but nevertheless we must have seen some potential in it. After collecting dust for more than 10 years, we finally decided to give it new life!

Tim cut a back and top from some scrap wood. This of course not only helped to give it more of a finished looked, but also took the wobble out. He also added some little salvaged caster wheels we had on hand. I painted the shelf with exterior white paint and found the perfect spot for it on the front porch.

Stay tuned for the final Front Porch post and see how it all comes together!

Front Porch Makeover #2: Antique Vanity Upcycle

I bought this antique vanity several years ago with good intentions, but it was just one of those projects that I never got to. It was super cheap (maybe $15 or something) and I jumped on it. To be honest, I have even reposted in on Kijiji, just wanting to get rid of it, but not many people were chomping at the bit to pick up this puppy…not sure why??? Okay, I get it…it is (was) super ugly!

This spring when Tim and I decided that our backyard needed to be “dressed” up a bit, I decided to see what we could come up with from our own personal stash of goodies/junk (matter of perspective I guess). With Covid restrictions in place, there weren’t many other options available any way. I figured that if I could find some gems in our own collection, I would kill mulitiple birds with one stone, so to speak….purge, save money, save the landfill and pretty up our back yard.

We really didn’t see any value in this unit in the condition it was in, so the first thing we did was remove the drawers from one side and take them outside to add interest to our garden. Tim simply anchored them together in a staggered stack and we used them as planters. We were pleased with how they turned out and it was super easy because I liked the worn look and didn’t even both giving them fresh paint.

Although the remaining vanity pieces could have easily made their way to the dump, I was desperately trying to make our front porch look more inviting and I was in need of a table for just outside our front door. The space wasn’t large and I thought this might be the perfect upcycle project.

Tim kindly cut the vanity apart and I set to work building a new top out of…you guessed it…reclaimed wood from an old table (from staircase make over last summer).

The first thing I had to do was build a little frame around the top because the original piece had curved edges.I then attached the boards to the top of the half vanity.

I’m not sure why I didn’t take a photo of it, but the right side of the cabinet was a little rough with a gap from where we cut it apart. I knew this would be against the house wall and not visible, so we just cut a very thin piece of scrap wood and covered it, bandage style! When everything was repainted, it was really not noticeable at all. I used exterior paint because this would need to withstand the elements out on our front porch.

I placed it in its spot, but it took me some time to decide what to do with the knobs and to pull together a finished look, but here it is all painted!

I finally decided to use a Pinterest idea I had pinned several years ago. I absolutely love the knobs in the tutorial, but unfortunately, the colour wouldn’t work for my project. I purchased old ceramic knobs for a dollar each at an antique store and then coloured them with Sharpie marker and baked them at 350 degrees for half an hour. (I actually like the original cream colour, but my project was quite a bright white and they didn’t look great together.) Here is the tutorial from School of Decorating. I’m still a little disappointed that I couldn’t use the teal colour from the tutorial, but it just wouldn’t work for this project. I did, however, want them to look somewhat like a natural stone (think emerald), so I opted to go for green to tie in with our deck chairs. I love the way they turned out!

Too bad I could not find an angle where I didn’t get reflections in the gold, but you get the idea. The uneven strokes with the Sharpie are what helps to give the finished drawer pulls some depth and interest.

To finish off this little niche I FINALLY used this old shutter that I had antiqued about a zillion years ago. I made it and loved it, but had never found a home for it until now! I simply sat it on the top of the vanity and leaned it against the house. The piece on top is a plastic medallion that I bought at the dollar store. I spray painted it white and then sanded it back a bit to antique it. I picked up the glass vase/jar at a thrift store for $2 and those pretty flowers are from the dollar store too! I do love how this little “vignette” is coming together, but I must say it also brings this old Sesame Song to mind….

I don’t know, but to me it looks like something in that picture just doesn’t belong….can you guess what it is?

If you guessed the mailbox…you’re right! It is on my hit list for this summer as well! Stay tuned!

Now before I sign off, I am mustering up the courage to get real and show you the before and afters. The vanity transformation is pretty cool, but hold on to your hat if you want to see how bad my porch looked before this tiny make over. Here goes….

Stay tuned for many more DIY, upcycling and make over projects….this summer has been so busy! We have worked on so many different things…so fun to transform a space!

Front Porch Makeover: DIY Welcome Sign

I’ve wanted to make my own sign(s) for a long time and in March, I finally went with a friend to a little workshop. They put carbon paper under a photocopied design and then traced the design to transfer it onto the wood.

I did the workshop and had fun making the sign, but felt a bit limited by the choices available. However, the workshop did exactly what it should….it inspired me to design my own!

One of the things that I’ve been working on this summer is trying to decorate my front porch. We’ve always had furniture on the porch, but it totally lacked anything even remotely “pretty”. Although I love our porch, I’ve avoided putting much thought or effort into it because I’m always faced with the same issue….the colour of my house! I really don’t like it, but I know that we will not be investing in a paint job until it actually needs to be painted. Despite the limitations of the house colour, our patio cushions desperately needed to be upgraded and I had to somehow make a decision on what colour to get to go with our house. As I scoured websites in search of something that would work, my creative juices got flowing and I found myself completely determined to get my porch looking better. So, today as I write this post, I still have no cushions. We did end up ordering some and are awaiting delivery, but in the mean time I’ve been busy transforming our space.

Materials:

  • Computer/iPad – design your sign
  • Printer – print off your design
  • painters tape
  • prepared board for sign – primed and painted or stained
  • ball point pen for etching in your design
  • acrylic paint (make sure to use outdoor paint if your sign is going outside)
  • very fine tipped brush for outlining and possibly a fatter tip for larger areas (I have my favourite brushes that I use depending on the project I’m doing. This can really be more about personal preference. I don’t like a brush that has too “floppy” of bristles when I am doing intricate work.)

Simple Steps to Making Your Own Sign:

  1. Design your sign. I did this on the computer…choosing fonts and images that I wanted to include. I then scaled the design size to meet my needs and printed the it off. (FYI Image quality is not super important as you can smooth out any pixels when you trace.)
  2. Find a board. This step might come first depending on your space. I made my design first and then altered it to the board size. If you have a plan for your sign, you want to make sure you consider your board size for the wall/place you want to put it.
  3. Prep your board. Depending if it has been previously painted or not, you may need to prime first. Also, if your sign is going outside, you will want to use exterior paint. Give ample time for your paint to dry.
  4. Layout your images/text on your board and use painters tape to hold in place.
  5. No need for carbon paper! Instead, I use a ball point pen and trace the outline of all of my letters and images on the paper. You need to press firmly because the goal is to etch or groove the wood to mark the outlines. You will not see ink, but rather a groove.
  6. Working in a well lighted area, carefully follow your outlines (grooves) and fill in each image/letter with paint. One thing to be mindful of as you paint…I find that I have a preferred direction when I am painting. I am more comfortable when I can position my hand a certain way and when I don’t have a blind spot blocking the direction I am headed. This may sound confusing, but it’s all about steadiness, lighting and comfort level. If/when you figure out what works best for you, strategically paint in a way that allows you to do your best work. You will also want to consider moving from left to right if you are right handed so that you are not going to smudge what you’ve already painted. This isn’t hard, just take a moment to “fake” paint first. See what feels good and take notice of which direction you want to paint in. I noticed some people in the class saying “I wasn’t thinking, I should have started over here.” or “I should have worked in this direction.” My point is just to take a moment to think about it before you dive right in. (Again, if it is going outdoors, use outdoor paint. For my sign, I just used regular exterior house paint for the board and then picked up a few small bottles of exterior craft paint from Michael’s for the lettering and images.)
  7. Allow to dry and hang or prop up as desired.

Do not be overwhelmed by this project. Seriously, from start to finish, this might have taken me a few hours. The tracing takes the longest and that was probably about 45 minutes. I love the way this sign turned out as it makes our entrance look so much more inviting!

BEFORE: Plain entrance
AFTER: DIY Welcome Sign and DIY Upcycled Candle Holders with added Greenery
*I slipped a 500ml empty plastic coke bottle into the galvanized pitcher so that I could add water and use it like a vase. Works perfectly!

Garage Sale Rusty Metal Tray Upcycle

This photo was actually taken two summers ago after an amazing garage sale score! I had stumbled upon this sale along a main road on my way home from getting groceries. It was already late afternoon, so they were beginning to clean-up, but I spotted the wrought iron plant holders and thought it was worth pulling over. You know what they say, timing is everything! By this point, they really just wanted the stuff gone…I got the entire table full of stuff, plus the two plant stands for $20. Unbelievable! Anyway, it took me some time to get to it, but I finally have this ugly old rusty metal tray in usable condition. When you calculate the cost for this, I’m guessing it was almost free as it was probably one of the least valuable items in this spree.

Can you say “UGLY?!”

I gave the tray a bit of a sanding to remove the rusty spots and then simply spray painted it white. I did plan to distress it slightly, but didn’t actually realize that the floral decoration had a bit more dimension to it than I originally accounted for. When I finished painting it, you could kind of see the floral design showing through. I really had no choice but to sand over the design and see what I could do with it. So, although I had planned to hide the flowers with paint….I ended up highlighting them by sanding, and surprising love this finished look! I can’t actually believe the ugly flowers are what make this tray so amazing….this is now my favourite serving tray!!

Upcycled Ugly Garage Sale Metal Serving Tray

The moral of this story….when garage selling and thrifting, always look for well made items made of wood, metal and glass. It is amazing what you can do with paint and sand paper! This upcycle even surprised me!