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.
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!!
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!
A few summers ago, (back when my kids still wanted to go on bike rides with their mom) I spotted this old dilapidate chair on the curb just waiting to be claimed. To the embarrassment of my kids, I went and knocked on the door of the home it sat in front of and inquired about the chair. Sure enough, it was up for grabs…yay!! I asked if they would mind tucking it in their garage, so I could come back with the van and pick it up. They agreed and I was excited beyond words!
I picked it up and planted it in our garage. Unfortunately, when I had a closer look I realized that the new upholstery would entail more skill than any of my previous projects. There was no way to hide all of the tacks, as I had in the other simple projects I had done. As a result, I let fear get the better of me and avoided it for almost two years. It was only when Tim threatened to toss it that I knew I had to at least give it a try. I took apart the seat and back and used the very old and stinky upholstery pieces as a pattern for the new fabric. The chair frame required sanding just to rough up the surface in preparation for paint. I decided to paint it white (Surprise! Surprise!) and then got to work reinforcing the seat and adding additional padding (salvaged from our old leather chair).
You can see the old stuffing – probably hog hair although I’m not certain.
I traced the old seat cover on to brown paper and then used the paper pattern to cut out the new fabric.
Once the seat was re-built, it was time to try my hand at covering the seat, back and arms. I did my best to tack the pieces in place as inconspicuously as possible and then hot glued a simple lace rope around the edges to hide the staples/tacks. On close inspection, it’s certainly not perfect, but to the casual observer it looks pretty good for my first crack at real upholstering. If you asked an expert, I’m sure I did everything wrong, but when you consider this was picked up off the curb and the fabric was on clearance for $7…it’s quite the steal! Love these trash to treasure deals!
*As an after thought, I decided to paint and re-upholster the arm chair that we had kept from the original set we bought with our old antique dining room table. It was an easy job as the seat lifts off and all of the staples are hidden below. (This is the kind of project I like!!)
Love all the detail carved in the wood!
I love the way the chair turned out…not bad for $7!
As an after thought…I did the dining room chair too!
This red shelf was a previous upcycle and works well for storing Shay’s socks, undies and t-shirts.
Well, Shay’s contemporary styled boy’s room is officially done! I love the black and white combination and with Eden choosing the same palette, the upstairs flows nicely together. A black and white colour scheme is so versatile and really stands the test of time. I actually got this project completed pretty quickly, but was delayed in finding blackout curtains. I ended up scoring big at Jysk and got some black room darkening curtains that were regularly priced at $50 per panel and on sale for $10 – I cleaned the store out and bought the last 6 panels! What a great deal! When the curtains are closed the room is pretty dark with the black walls and curtains, but Shay’s room has so many windows, he can get away with it. There are a total of 6 windows in his room plus the one in his closet. It is very bright without proper shades and so we decided to go for the blackout curtains and he loves it. This is one of my favourite rooms in the house. It is so bright and a great size as well.
The total room makeover included the following:
patching, sanding, priming and painting three walls black
replacing the bed board beneath the mattress as it was cracked
replacing the dark blue chalkboard tubs in the red cabinet with black ones
repainting the hockey stick shelf black
purchasing, hemming and steaming 6 panels of curtains
The main expenses for this project were the paint ($100), curtains ($68ish) and bedding as well as a few smaller accessories ($100ish). I am guessing it cost under $300 to re-do the entire space. Many of my room makeovers are more about the sweat equity than the dollar value. Designing on a limited budget is possible….so much can be accomplished with paint and some hard work!!
The desk and chair in Shay’s room have been in our home for years. If I remember correctly, I think the set was a freebie from a friend (or maybe a really cheap second-hand purchase). Over the years, I’m sure that the top has been painted at least 4 times. It’s an easy job and the plain black base allows it fit with almost any decor. It is a perfect kid’s room desk and despite its age, has really stood the test of time.
BEFORE: Desk, chair and hockey shelf from Shay’s old hockey themed room.
AFTER: A new paint job and some updated fabric will help coordinate these old items into Shay’s new bedroom design.
Shay actually loved the style of the top, but wanted me to redo it so that the colours were consistent with his new decor. Basically, all I did was give the urethane on top a light sand so the paint would stick, prime it and then play with some paint to get the desired look. I did add a bit of glaze to the paint because I already had it on hand. The glaze is great for mixing colours together and slows the dry time slightly so that you can “play” with the paint a bit more. Once the painting was done, I added three coats of urethane to seal it and make it more durable.
Since I was already in the midst of painting, I also decided to give the hockey stick shelf a bit of a new look, by painting the shelves black. I really like the black as opposed to the original red even though I’m not yet sure that the shelf will remain in Shay’s new room. Either way, I thought that fresh paint in a more neutral colour would make it more marketable on Kijiji when we post all of his other Jets/hockey room accessories.
Of course, the previously reupholstered blue chair would no longer work. I have upcycled a few of these old style folding chairs, so giving this a new look was probably no more than a half hour job. You simply remove the screws. lay new fabric overtop (or remove the old first) and use a staple gun to secure it in place. I had left over fabric from previous projects, so the fabric cost me nothing.
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.
To avoid leaving the wire hanging, Tim just put the old bedroom light fixture up until we find a ceiling fan that will suit the space. You can see how off center it is.
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.
I can’t believe how long it has been since I sat down to write a post. It’s not for lack of content as I have a list of “to post” ideas, but quite honestly just haven’t had the time or stamina to juggle all that life has been throwing at as. Family life has been super busy, especially since Eden began playing club volleyball this winter. I thought Shay’s hockey was demanding until I became a volleyball mom ~ hockey seems like a cake walk now! It has been really great for her, but it’s a huge commitment for the whole family. Unlike hockey with a few practises and a game on the weekend, Eden has 4 practises per week. The short practise is 2 hours, but the others are 3 hours in length. Her team is scheduled to play in 7 tournaments and if last weekend is any indication….that means lots of time. I spent 17 hours at the gym watching Eden and waiting between games. As much as I personally love the game and watching her play, it was a long two days. Needless to say, my tank was pretty much empty by the time I get home and thus we had to start the week with full laundry baskets and my huge list of things that never got done over the weekend. I know this is yet another “season” in life and parenting and as I watching the kids growing-up so fast, we will put aside some of our own desires and enjoy the time we have while they are still at home. Like the last 14 years, I now the next 4 will fly by like there is no tomorrow. Deep sigh….
I am so thankful for my committed followers and the new traffic that still seems to be checking out the blog even though it has sat stagnant for long stretches between posts. With spring in the air, I am hoping to re-charge my batteries and want to attempt to write a post per. I had no intension of letting my blog slide, but I have learned – life happens and sometimes you just have to assess your priorities and go with the flow.
Trash To Treasure:
One weekend in January, I had a few hours to burn and decided to finally get to a project that had been on my list for what seemed like forever. Quite some time ago, I managed to snag a vintage card table and chair set – you know the old folding kind. They were offered on WpgFreeShare, so the price was definitely right at free! I knew it would be a super easy upcycle, but despite this, they sat untouched in my garage. I had disposed of the table right away as I knew I wouldn’t use it, but the chairs were very appealing. I find that with family gatherings, we are constantly in need of extra chairs. The folding chairs are obviously easy to store and get a “pass” for comfort. These chairs are a great solution for the problem of limited seating. I love that the chairs cost me nothing and the fabric was on sale and cost me around $10. I don’t remember what I paid for the spray paint, but I picked it up in the USA (much cheaper) before our dollar became so bad. I’m guessing the whole project was about $20. I can’t say I’d want the chairs to be a permanent fixture at my dining room table, but they certainly offer a good option for when there are extra people to seat.
If there were a prize for ugliest set ever, this was a slam dunk. The metal legs were painted gold and the plastic seat covers were a hideous golden floral print. UGLY!! I had done a previous folding chair make-over, so I knew it would be easy to make these into something more charming. Spray paint and a bit of fabric was all it took!
BEFORE: Ugly folding chairs
It’s funny…I would never describe myself as a lover of yellow, but over the past few years, I’ve noticed it creeping into my colour pallet. Our walls our a strange yellowy-green colour that can look very different with changes in lighting. Although I love the colour, it is not the easiest to work with. I originally chose it because we have lots of oak in our home and the orangey tone can be hard to coordinate with. The wall colour (Benjamin Moore Castleton Mist) really does complement the wood work, but when I went to choose spray paint for the chairs, the choices were very limited. I guess I could have went with black, but I really wanted a bit of colour. In the end, I chose yellow paint and a black and white print. I love the contrast and the chairs certainly look much better.
The back panel and seat were screwed on and easily removed. I added some extra padding and simply used the staple gun to reupholster the pieces.
With fresh paint and new fabric the chairs are now company worthy!
PS It’s good to be back…I have some fabulous new recipes to share, so stay tuned!
BEFORE: At some point, the left corner got stained and we camouflaged it with a butterfly (not really done by choice, but rather necessity).
AFTER: Banquette with new black and white geometric fabric.
Eden had this old banquette in her room as a craft/homework table. It was a great space for her and her friends to put on nail polish and do crafts, but had really taken a beating over the years. When we did her bedroom make-over, she wanted to replace it with something more comfy, so we decided to swap the futon that sat in the landing outside the kids’ rooms with the banquette. The space is rarely used, so it didn’t really make a difference to the rest of the family, but it was in serious need of a fresh coat of paint and some new upholstery on the cushions. (The BEFORE shot doesn’t really capture how run down it was looking as it’s an old picture. I had taken some pictures before and during the project, but we’ve had computer problems this fall and some how the pictures got lost in the process.)
I was actually pretty excited to do this job because it was long overdue and not a difficult one to get off the To Do list. We inherited this with a previous home we bought and I am pretty sure it was handmade by someone, so I can’t say the finishing details are anything to brag about. When we first moved it into Eden’s room 7 years ago, Tim added beadboard to the front base and it really gave it more of a finished look. I had originally put white vinyl on the seats as opposed to fabric. Although white may not have been the best colour choice, it matched her room nicely and was wipeable (is that even a word??).
For the updated version, I simply prepped the surface by filling holes/nicks, sanding, priming and painting. It was white on white, so it didn’t require much work. The back panels were screwed on and the bench seats just sit on the base with wood slats to keep them from moving. This also gives us plenty of storage inside the benches which is a nice bonus. The re-upholstery took no more than an hour and a half. I basically used a screw driver to remove the staples that secured the vinyl. (I left the numerous other layers of fabric on and just added the new material over top.) Four of the pieces were simple rectangles, so they were super easy to cover. The fifth piece is more of an L shape with an angled edge in the corner. Although a bit trickier, it still wasn’t very hard to do. I used the old vinyl pieces as a template to cut the new pieces out. The new fabric has a geometric pattern, so I had to be carefull and ensure that the pattern was sitting “square” on the each of the pieces I was covering. The final step was to secure the fabric on with a staple gun. I then screwed the backboards in place and replaced the bench seats.
The finished bench looks great, but of course, the table now looks a bit worse for ware. I might eventually paint the table top to freshed in up. I think plain black would look sharp. When we owned our restaurant, we painted our counters and table tops to match the decor. Of course we also added several coats of urethane for durability, but they stood up to the restaurant wear and tear with no problem, so painting would be a good option.
It has been a super busy fall with back to school and the kids heavy into sports, but it feels so great to get a project done.
There are many on-line tutorials for making Roman Blinds. I’ve made them several times before so I just followed the same basic instructions I’ve always used. I don’t remember the original source, as I have 5 photocopied pages that are about 15 years old. The blinds are relatively easy to make, but time-consuming. You don’t need to be a great sewer to pull these off. I’m not going to give a full tutorial here, but this is basically what you need and how you do it.
decor fabric cut to size of window opening + 2″ in width and about 3″ in length for seam allowances (if you want the same pattern/fabric facing outside, you will need to double that)
drapery lining cut to size of opening (I’ve skipped the lining in the past and have been disappointed with the result – if the shade is only for decoration, it probably doesn’t matter as much)
drapery rings (little white plastic rings – number depends on the size of the finished blind – number of vertical rows X number of horizontal rows)
a mounting board 1″ X 2″ X width of opening
screw eyes (to go on mounting board)
shade cord (enough for each vertical row of rings plus the length along the top of the board, so that they all come out one side)
weight rod for bottom ~ You can use anything for this (dowelling, drapery rod, etc.) It just gives the blind stability and helps it to hang nicely.
velcro (width of blind)
optional: light weight horizontal rods of some sort – dowelling, drapery rods, etc. (I ended up using the extra long wood skewers from the Dollar store. I’m hoping they’ll be durable enough as there really is no pressure on them, they are just meant to help the finished shade fall/fold more evenly. I’ve never done this before, so we’ll see.)
hooks for blind cord (cleats)
What to Do:
Prepare your mounting board by cutting it to size and painting it, if necessary. Staple gun the velcro strip along the top edge. Add screw eyes along the bottom, placing them above where each of your vertical rows will sit.
This is one of the old blinds, but you can see the mounting board with the velcro and screw eyes.
Cut the decor fabric making sure to allow for seam allowances. Measure and press folds for seams.
Decor fabric cut to size with extra fabric for seam allowances.
(You can decide if you want to mount the shade inside the window frame or have it sit outside the frame and extend over the edge of the window: measure according to how you want to mount them.) You will need to fold over a wider pocket (don’t sew the sides) at the bottom, so that you can slip in a weight rod.
Cut the lining to the size of the finished shade.
Lay the lining inside the folds of the seams and pin in place.
Lay lining inside and pin in place.
Measure out and mark the spots where the rings will need to go. (Vertical rows will sit 1″ from each of the outside edges and the number of additional vertical rows depends on your width – space them about 8″ to 12″ apart). The horizontal rows should start just above the rod pocket at the bottom of the shade (about 2″ – measure carefully as you don’t want uneven horizontal rows) and then spaced 5″ to 8″ apart from the bottom up. ( My blinds are 17″ wide so I have three vertical rows and my horizontal rows are 7″ apart.) Measure carefully and mark the exact spot for each ring with an X.
I hand stitched all of the rings on. This is easy, but time consuming….a great job to do while watching a movie.
Once the rings were secured, I slid the skewers in and laid them along each horizontal row. I then ran my machine along each side to create a pocket for them. (I didn’t care what the back of my blinds looked like because Eden’s room is on the second floor and faces the back lane, so I used black thread for the entire project. You’ll notice my sewing isn’t even that straight – I just wanted them done and didn’t really care because the black on black really doesn’t show up.)
I then sewed along the top, sides and bottoms to finish the seams and sew in the rods. (Remember to leave an open pocket for the weight rod at the bottom.)
Slide in the weight rod.
Slide weight rod in the open pocket along the bottom of the finished blind.
Sew a velcro strip to the top of the blind on the back.
Wow…that’s some bad sewing…so obvious against the white.
Mount your prepared board.
Carefully pre-cut your cord. You will need enough length to travel from the bottom ring (where you will tie it) up the vertical row to the top, through the screw eye on the mounting board and then across the mounting board and through each screw eye along the board until all have been pulled through the screw eye on the far right of the board and secured together in one knot that will not pull through.) This sounds complicated, but basically all of the cords travel vertically up their row and then across the top until each of them meet outside the screw eye on the far right where they are knotted.
This is another shot of the old blinds, but it shows how the cord is laced up the vertical rows and along the top. You can see how they are knotted together on the left (right when hung).
You will want to add cleats so the blind cords can be secured when the blinds are pulled up. I usually mount these about half way up the window frame on the right hand-side.
Disclaimer: If this sounds confusing, don’t follow my plan. I would suggest googling DIY Roman Blinds or Shades and finding a tutorial that suits your needs better. There are even some tutorials that show how to use old aluminum mini blinds as a “skeleton” for making your Roman Shades. Some show how to create them without sewing and others give excellent step by step visuals. I love the finished look of Roman Shades and as mentioned I believe anyone can do them, but you will need to find a tutorial that makes sense for you. Here is a video that seems very good although she makes hers a bit different from mine.
You know how I love to reuse/repurpose and these blinds are no exception. I hung onto some old Romans that I’d made years ago and was able to cut the mounting boards down to fit, reuse the velcro, drapery lining, cord and rings. I really only had to purchase my fabric and rods for this project, so the total was less than $20 for all three blinds. It made sense to reuse the materials from the old blinds and felt good to toss the meager remains once they’d been dismantled.
You might think that making your own blinds isn’t worth the trouble, but for me it is. It is truly an inexpensive way to get a custom look and fit. Living in a heritage home often means that the window sizes are anything but standard. It is difficult to find blinds of any sort that fit and whenever you go “custom” you are looking at mega bucks. With the DIY Romans, you are able to pick the perfect fabric and style for the space and make them custom to your window. I love the clean, contemporary look and the design on the fabric is a perfect fit for Eden’s new room.
Freshly painted black floor lamp. Ready for Eden’s new room.
The black lamp will look great in Eden’s new room.
A total decor change can mean lots of expense. To keep costs down, I try to be innovative and figure out ways to repurpose, reuse and upcycle items that we already own. Such was the case with this super simple upcycle project. We had bought this floor lamp for Eden in a bright blue to match her previous room decor. It seemed unfortunate that it would no longer work in her new space. The solution was simple…..a few coats of spray paint.
Floor Lamp Upcycle:
Tape off all of the areas that you do not want to be painted. For this project that meant the inside of the lamp shade, the flexible silver portion of the pole and the cord. I simply taped the end of the cord near the lamp pole and then bagged the remaining cord and taped it to the silver portion that I had already taped off.
Spray 2 to 3 thin coats of paint to avoid runs. (Let it dry between coats.)
The original blue worked well in her “old” room, but didn’t fit with the new colour scheme. This was a super simple and inexpensive fix ~ especially since I already had the black spray paint on hand.
The Magic of Spray Paint:
Spray paint is one of the staples that I like to keep on hand. This lamp is simply an example of how you can take something you already have on hand (or an item that you pick-up from a garage sale or thrift store for a couple of bucks) and transform it into a piece that really works for you. My challenge for you is to look beyond the present condition or colour of an item and begin to look at the “bones”…..the size, the structure, the etching/carvings. Very often the ugliest pieces can be totally transformed with the simple shake of a can and press of a button. I have given so many items new life with a simple coat of spray paint!
Before and after picture frame.
Counter top samples spray painted with chalkboard paint make great tags.
Spray painted tin can turned pencil cup.
Avery labels can be spray painted with chalkboard paint.
Spice jar lids.
The frame of this screen was given a whole new look with a coat of paint and new fabric.
An antique heat grate was painted and converted into a mail slot in the kitchen.
An old wooden spoon rack is now a necklace holder.
Thrift store wooden bowl makes a beautiful fruit bowl with a fresh coat of paint.
Wooden alphabet blocks painted white.
Tacky gold garage sale candle holders were picked up for next to nothing and given a fresh new look with white paint.
If you wish to check out the full posts (with before and after shots) for any of the above projects, you can either browse the DIY and Upcyling section of my blog or do a search on my blog using specific key words.
Ever since I made my Christmas rag wreath with the burlap flowers, I have been really anxious to do more burlap and/or jute projects. I love the shabby chic look, especially when there is a hint of white in the project as well. I “pinned” some cool upcycled wine bottles a few months ago, but have never gotten around to making my own. Although the project is far from done, I had a medical appointment yesterday and had a bit of time to myself after, so I took the opportunity to get started. This is a not a complex task, but I have to admit it was a bit more difficult than I anticipated.
Upcycled Wine Bottle Project~ Materials Needed:
jute, twine or string (I bought a 3 pack at the dollar store. Unfortunately, one of the spools is green. I wasn’t sure how much I would need, so I bought one pack. I have only done one bottle so far and used one whole spool plus a bit of the second one. One spool had 12 meters of twine, so I am guessing I used approximately 13 to 15 meters for one bottle.)
empty wine bottles ~ rinsed and dried (Some sites suggest removing the labels, but I didn’t. Duh! The bottle is completely covered with string and you can’t see what is underneath, not worth the extra effort in my eyes. Perhaps I missing something and there is a specific reason for removing the labels, but I haven’t been able to figure that out yet.)
glue gun/glue sticks or white glue
Upcycled Wine Bottle Project ~ Wrapping the Bottles:
Getting Started: I read several tutorials and some recommended starting at the top of the bottles while others recommended the bottom as a starting point. I started at the bottom by glueing the first row of string all along the bottom edge. I left about 1/2 inch of twine at the end and curved it up towards the top of the bottle. I then untwisted the strands slightly so it wasn’t quite so bulky and then hot glued it flat against the bottle. This allowed the me to place the next few rows over the end and helped to secure it beneath the tightly wound rows of twine.
This system seemed to work well and the twine seems secure and the end is well hidden. The job of wrapping the twine around the bottle is a bit tedious and took me about an hour for one bottle. You must make sure every single row is pressed tightly against the previous row in order to eliminate the possibility of gaps between the rows. I only glued the twine sporadically about every inch or two up the most of the height of the bottle.
Some of the tutorials did indicate that the incline from the main part of the bottle to the neck can be tricky and require more glue. I tried this several times, but even with regular application of glue, the string kept slipping up towards the neck. It was almost as though you were working against gravity. In the end, I decided to stop near the bottom of the neck and begin from the top working down. I started much the same way as I did at the bottom, but this time working my way down. This worked well and although the incline was still a little tricky, it did work. Of course, I was then saddled with the extra task of joining the top and bottom in what appeared to be a seamless join. I basically made the join in much the same way as I handled the ends, when starting at both the top and bottom. Clearly, this is not what I would advise.
Conclusion: For my finished project, I want to have 4 bottles. I will definitely be starting at the TOP of the bottle from now on. I am not sure if there is any advantage to working upwards, but having tried both, working down seems much easier to me and so that is the strategy I will use next time. My bottle looks completely fine and it would be difficult to see the join, but it was obviously more work than was necessary.
I still want to embellish the bottle, but may wait until all 4 are done to see what might look the best before committing to something more permanent. For now, I just added some raffia and a button to dress it up and set it on my mantel!
AFTER: Fireplace Accessory
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