Upcycling Project: Wooden Rummoli Board

Rummoli boardI grew up playing lots of card and board games and it breaks my heart that my kids don’t share the same love of games. Games not only provide an awesome time to connect with family and friends, but can also develop both social and academic skills (depending on the nature of the game). I’m pretty sure I learned my math facts playing crib with my dad! I can’t say that Rummoli involves much strategy or mathematical skill, but it is fun and one of the few games my kids really enjoy.

I recently bought a cheap Rummoli game from the Thrift Store, complete with a bag of pennies (so I actually made money on the purchase). The kids really enjoyed playing, but we were taping the edges down so that the plastic mat would lie flat while we played.  The game is one of those classics that I played as a kid. I looked into buying a “nicer” version of the game for Christmas, but couldn’t find what I was looking for. In the end, I decided to make my own. I wouldn’t do this for just any game, but figured that it’s such a classic that it may with stand the test of time and be used for generations to come and would therefore be worth the effort.

I picked-up a “lazy-susan” from the thrift store for a couple of bucks and then found this table on Kijiji for $15. Just realized I never took a before shot of the lazy-susan. It was basically three circular pieces of wood (of varying sizes) that were sandwiched together with the appropriate hardware to make it spin. The small circle on the top had a recessed circle in the middle and some small circles around the outer edge. Here is a shot of the table I purchased for the project.



  1. I decided to leave the table assembled until the very end. This kept it at a nice height and stable during the transformation process. The first thing I did was sand the table top and edges.
  2. With Tim’s help, we carefully divided the circle into 8 sections and then traced out where the circles would be cut for the “pots” to drop down into the board.

    Rummoli board

    Here are the penciled off sections. This was probably the hardest part.

  3. Tim used an attachment on his drill to cut the holes for me. I then sanded the edges of the circles to create a smooth finish. (The pots I bought had a small lip on the top edge, so the circles had to be large enough to fit the base of the pot, but small enough for the lip to sit on the edge of the wood.)Rummoli board
  4. I then sanded off the pencil lines, leaving only a few guide marks for taping.
  5. I taped off the sections in preparation for staining. I decided that I wanted to divide the sections by using two tones of stain, so I taped off every other section. (Be sure to score the edge of the tape that will be receiving the stain to avoid bleeding.)
  6. I applied two coats of the darker stain to the taped off sections.
  7. Once the stain was dry, I removed the tape and carefully applied tape over the dry stain, so that I could apply the lighter stain to those sections that were not previously done.
  8. I also sanded and stained the original top section from the lazy-susan.
  9. Once the stain was all dry and the tape removed, I began the process of preparing the text/graphics for the game. At first I wasn’t sure how to pull this off, but ended up finding a program called Art Text 2 that allowed me to create text in a curved shape. The lite version was a free download. Yay! Although I can’t say that the shape of the curve matched that of my game board exactly, it was close enough. I was also able to find symbols for the “suits” within the program, so this was super easy to do. Once I created the text/graphic, I simply exported each title to my desk top and then used exactly the same template for each title, by simply changing the word/suit in the text box. Once all of the titles were exported, I dragged them into a Pages document.
  10. To transfer the titles to the board, I used the freezer paper transfer method. I had never done this before, but it was super easy to do. I followed the tutorial on Little Bit Funky with the only change I made being that I used spray adhesive to instead of a glue stick. In a nut shell, you basically adhere freezer paper to cardstock (waxy side up) and then trim the freezer paper to fit exactly. You place the prepared paper in your printer (mine prints on the bottom of paper, so I placed mine in the tray with freezer paper facing down). You then print your document using best quality and choosing the layout option that automatically flips the image horizontally creating a mirror image.
  11. The ink basically sits on top of the waxy paper and thus is super easy to smudge. I had to cut-out each title so that I could ensure that the curve was properly placed along the outer edge of my game board in each section. So for me to complete my project, I had to make three pages of freezer paper/cardstock.
  12. Once you have your title/graphic cut-out, carefully place it in the exact place/position you want to transfer it. YOU CAN NOT MOVE IT ONCE IT HAS TOUCHED THE SURFACE, so be very carefully when doing this step. Once you set it in place, firmly press and hold the image in place while scoring the image with the edge of a spoon. Ensure you rub every section evenly. I checked the transfer by peeking under a corner while firmly holding the image in place. If it needed a bit more pressure to the image I simply replaced it and continued to score it with the spoon. This was super fast and easy to do, you just can’t move it or it will smudge. When you are finished pick it straight up to avoid smudging.
  13. I let my images sit for a few hours because I didn’t want to take the chance of smudging them at all. I then applied a thin layer of spray clear coat. Once the spray layer was dry, I applied two coats of urethane with a sponge brush. I’m not sure, but I think the spray urethane is important because the sponge would probably smudge the ink.
  14. Once the table top game board was completely done, we removed the screws holding it to the base and Tim assembled the lazy-susan. Basically we took the bottom and top from the original and replaced the larger middle circle with our new game board.

The finished board turned out great! The graphics aren’t super bold against the stain, but I really wanted more of a vintage look, so I’m really happy with the result. The lazy-susan works great, so you can spin the board to ante or claim your winnings. We let the kids open this gift on Christmas Eve and enjoyed a fun evening of Rummoli!

Banquette Face-Lift

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.

Antique Buffet Upcycle

Antique Buffet Before and AfterAbout 3 years ago, a small group of staff members at my school started up a little committee to work on the asthetics of our school and more specifically our staff room. None of us really know anything about Feng Shui, so as a joke, we call our committee, Feng Shui Our Way.  We began chipping away at the new look about 3 years ago, when we purchased paint and spent several hours repainting the entire staff room. Slowly we began replacing furniture and upgrading other elements, but it is definitely a work in progress.

A few months ago, we removed our commercial coffee maker from our staff room and replaced it with a couple of Tassimos and a Keurig. I think everyone is pretty happy with the new system. You bring your own pods and prepare a fresh cup of coffee with the touch of a button, whenever you wish. No more coin operated machines. The downside is that all of the new coffee makers take up much more counter space than the single commercial unit.

The solution …. a coffee station. Our committee decided to create a coffee station that would be set aside from the main counter space and allow staff to access the machines without so much congestion in the main part of the staff kitchen. We spent several weeks searching kijiji for something used and resonably priced that could serve as our new coffee station. Although I was excited about the concept, I was not finding a furniture piece that really “spoke to me”. We actually narrowed it down and decided to go and take a look at what we deemed to be the best option. I contacted the owner, but unfortantely was not getting a response. I tried several times and then decided to check-out the kijiji site for another look. It was then that I found exactly what I had been envisioning.

I found this antique dining buffet and the man was asking $200 for it. It seemed like a reasonable price and I loved the curves and detailed workmanship and was happy that it was taller and thus more of a bar or counter-top height than that of the dresser we were looking at. When I called, he was excited that I was making a serious inquiry and really just wanted it gone. He said that if I’d take it that day, he’d give it to us for $100. It was the perfect piece and I didn’t even need to negotiate. I would have happily paid the $200, but was certainly not going to argue with the $100 offer. I used the “stow and go” feature in our van to make the seats disappear into the floor and a colleage and I went to check it out. For the most part it was in good shape. It needed to be sanded, a broken piece glued back on the foot of one leg and a I had to cut a small piece off one of the drawer to match the broken part on the other side of the drawer. (See the detailed carving on the bottom of the middle front left drawer and how it is missing on the right side ~ too bad.) We also cut a circular hole in the top (that was hard) for the cords. We wanted the finished coffee station to have a nice clean look and that meant trying to hide the cords, if possible. They will feed down the top and out the back and hopefully be virtually out of sight when its all pulled together. All of the preparation and repairs were quite simple and almost a non-issue because we planned to paint the piece out black.Antique Buffet

I sanded and repaired the buffet at home and then just before spring break we spent a few lunch hours and evenings priming and painting. Overall it turned out quite beautiful, but I must admit that the top surface did not cover that well. I have painted many pieces of furniture over the years and have never had this problem, but we just couldn’t seem to get a perfectly smooth finish. I’m not sure if there was some kind of permanent damage to the wood or what, but it just kept coming out a bit “pebbly”. After much sanding and re-application, we decided it would just have to do. The plan is to purchase a piece of plexiglass to cover the surface, as there will be lots of wear and tear and spills and we want it to hold up long term. With the plexiglass top as well as the coffee makers sitting on top, I hope it won’t be that noticable.

Although we don’t have it set-up yet and the plexiglass is yet to be ordered, we are getting close. Ideally it takes about 20 days for paint to cure properly. We had used an oil based primer followed by a latex paint. We decided that we would give it the full 20 days to cure.  We are really hoping the finished piece will be durable and won’t chip easily. Here is where we are at so far!Painted Antique Buffet

Painted Antique Buffet


Upcycled Homework Caddy

Ever since Eden started grade 7 and homework became a daily event in our life, it seems like she is constantly “borrowing” my supplies and not returning them and leaving scads of tools around the house. I decided to build her a homework caddy stocked with everything she’d need to complete her assignments. The caddy can easily be transported, so she can choose to do her homework in her room or at the table ~ whatever suits her best. This project was all about the 4 R’s ~ Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and of course, Repurpose.

Here’s What I Used:

The basis for this design came from these items that I had in my project bin. (Remember to click on the images to enlarge them.)

Of course, as I began to brainstorm and pull my ideas together, I needed additional items such as burlap, string, saw, drill and screws, wood glue, magnets and paint.

Here’s What I Did:

1. I removed the cord from the broken lamp and cut the shaft to create a nice pedestal-like base.

2. I attached the pedestal, circular “lazy susan” wooden base and the center post from the mug stand together with a long screw. homework caddy

3. I spray primed and painted the structure.

4. I then took the clean cans (of varying sizes) and wrapped burlap or string around them to give them a bit of a finished look.

5. I then wrapped some string around the center post as well.

6. I used a nail to punch holes in the bottom of each can near the center. I then screwed each to the wooden base.

7. Finally, I glued on a couple of strong magnets to hold paper clips and a mini-stapler.

8. The top pegs from the mug stand act as handles for the caddy.

Eden’s homework caddy contains an assortment of pencils, pens, markers, pencil crayons, scissors, a pencil sharpener, an eraser, a ruler, a stapler and a few paper clips ~ everything she needs, all in one place! Generally, my daughter prefers to do her homework in her own room, but when she needs help, she likes to work at the kitchen or dining room table. The caddy allows her to bring everything she needs with her.

If making something like this seems like too much work, don’t sweat it….pick-up a plastic caddy or something made out of wood or metal with dividers already in it….maybe something like a cutlery storage caddy. You can find many different styles and at a wide range of prices depending on the look you are going for.  The important thing is to have everything in one place and make it easy to transport.  Here are some of the options I found available:

Book Display Upcycle #2: Pull-out Spice Rack

Book Display Shelf

Here is a “before” shot of the book display rack.

You may remember the book rack upcycle I did a few weeks back. I used an old book display rack and converted it into a pull-out pantry style shelf that sits between my fridge and the wall. It works really well and I am happy to say that the chalkboard art has stood up extremely well – in fact, better than I would have ever expected. Not a single image has been smudged and I have yet to touch-up anything. I can’t honestly say if this is because of the hair spray I top coated it with or if it is just because I only move it in and out using the handle.  Either way, it works well and I really do love it. However, when I was making it I knew that the empty space above the pull-out shelf would bug me. It just looks like something is missing. So, I decided that I would use the other half of the display rack and convert it into a spice rack.

Empty Space Beside the Fridge

Here you can see the empty space above the pull-out cabinet that I upcycled into a pantry.

Pull-out Spice Rack:

I began by taking the second panel of the book rack completely apart and then had to spend quite a bit of time thinking about how this would work. My plan was to create a spice rack using the existing wood from the display rack. The depth of the space would accommodate the full 24″ of shelving, but in order for it to fit between the cupboard support board and the wall, I would need to make the shelves narrower. I thought this seemed like a super easy project as the modifications were quite minimal. The issue was that there seemed to be lots of little details to think about: the thickness of the pegboard backing, whether to trim the back or front of the shelves, how to keep the little lip so the spice bottles won’t fall off, how far apart to make the shelves, how to make the cut shelves fit in the grooves they previously sat in, etc. I must say, I found it a bit hard to consider all of the details that perhaps wouldn’t even be considerations in a “new build”, but had to be accounted for because it was an upcycle. I got the boards cut and prepared to a point, but then had to ask my husband to help. The one and only tool that I’m not allowed to use is the table saw. I’m not exactly sure why, but Tim doesn’t feel that it’s very safe and at times I can be a bit careless. So, on Saturday I finally pinned him down and got the help I needed to do the final cuts. The new shelf is about 17″ high and 24″ long and should fit perfectly in the space, once the drawer runners are added. The front face of the shelf was not cut down as I wanted it to match the size of the bottom pull-out shelf. They won’t line-up perfectly because the bottom one is more centered in the space and the spice rack will end up sittng closer to the wall than the fridge. Keeping it the original 4″ width will also help to keep the contents of the rack somewhat hidden, as opposed to a more open look.

We got the boards cut and nailed the shelf together. I used the original top and bottom pieces from the rack and one of the shelves, but had to insert a second shelf in between so that the final spice rack would have a total of three shelves. My plan is to move all of my small spice bottles to this rack. It should be large enough to fit them all, so I will have some additional drawer space in the kitchen and perhaps some room on my pull-out rack as well. We filled all of the holes with wood filler and let it dry over night. I am out of time and weekend, so this is how it will stay until I can get back to it.

The next step is to sand and prime the shelf, so that it will be ready for painting. I can’t wait to get it mounted and see how it works!

Melted Plastic Crafts

I posted the steps for creating cool melted plastic necklaces last week and decided to use the melted pieces to make some other items as well. When I was away, I picked up a package of black hair clips for a couple of bucks. Although these could be a cute addition to a bun, I was thinking more in the lines of another twist on a scarf clip. I simply used my E6000 glue to adhere the plastic piece to the clip. The clips are a bit longer than the plastic, but once it’s embedded in the fabric of a scarf I don’t think it will matter.

I also added a little piece of the magnet tape I bought a few weeks back and made one into a fridge magnet. I was concerned the tape wouldn’t be strong enough to hold the weight of the plastic, so I added E6000 to it as well.

Again, these plastic shapes are super easy to make and the ideas for how they might be used are limitless. They are inexpensive and each one is unique in both shape and colour.

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A Look Back: Before and After Slideshow

This is my 248th post. At the end of June/beginning of July, I played around a bit a managed to get a couple of posts up on my blog, but after July long weekend I buckled down and was committed to blogging daily. Since then, I have only missed one day and that was because I was brutally sick with Strep Throat. I must admit that some days are easier than others, but I am hoping that the sunshine, warmer weather (by that I mean less cold) and longer days will get me motivated and back into DIY project mode. The winter has been very long and my motivation level for doing projects has failed in comparison to my desire to curl up on the couch with a warm blanket. Anyways, I thought I would help to get myself motivated by taking a look back at some of my favourite transformation projects and share the before and after shots.  I have done entire posts on most of these projects, so you can check the archives if you want more information on what I did. Enjoy the show and hopefully this will motivate you to get out some paint and give something a new look!

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Mason Jar Toothbrush Holder

In December 2011, I re-did the kid’s upstairs bathroom and one of the projects I did was based on an idea I had found on Pinterest. Tim mounted cheap pipe clamps onto the wall that were sized to hold some dollar store glasses that I had purchased. I personalized each cup with my kids’ names using a white paint pen from Michael’s. The glasses can be slid out for cleaning and have held up well. I have had to touch up their names once or twice in the last two years, but otherwise it has worked wonderfully!

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Last Chance: Cheap Shelf Salvage

Have you ever bought one of those cheap melamine style shelving units with the cardboard back.  The back usually lasts until you put something inside that presses up against the backing ever so slightly.  The result is that the finishing nails pop off like you karate kicked the back off.  I hate it when that happens.  As soon as the back pops off, a predictable string of events is set into motion. You know how that works, first the back pops off and then the unit gradually begins to tilt and sit off kilter like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We had originally bought this for the bathroom in our former house and it worked fine. However, it did not work so well for storing our board games.  You know push in the game, push-off the back.  I got tired of the “look” and was actually afraid it might tip because it would literally “sway” when you opened it. I decided to do something about it.

We are in the midst of a very long basement reno and have lots of old wood from the tear apart in the basement.  Much of it will need to go to the dump eventually, but I am so into salvage and re-purposing, I have been trying to reuse as much of it as I can.  I found this old piece of thin plywood in the pile and thought I could use it to replace the existing cardboard backing.

Steps to Replacing the Back

  • Measured the old back and cut the plywood to size
  • Found some fabric in my stash to cover the interior and edges of the board
  • Screwed the back on, through the fabric, in all four corners
  • Pulled the fabric tightly across the back to get out the creases, folded it over the back to create a nice fabric covered edge, and stapled it in place

After Shots:

The print is a gingham in a light beige and off white, so it is does not provide much impact. There are glass doors on the cabinet and once filled, the fabric backing won’t really be that noticeable.  Mostly, the heavier backing helps to give the unit more stability and the fabric backing gives it a clean fresh look. I think we’ll move it up to the kid’s bathroom for some extra storage. (I keep adding and changing things upstairs in hopes that they might actually stop using the main floor bathroom, but it is yet to work.  The extra storage is not so much a necessity, but more so another ploy to get my daughter showering and pampering herself upstairs instead of in our space.  Wish me luck!)


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Upcycled Decor Screen Part 2

A few weeks ago, I made new fabric panels for the screen in our living room. The new fabric looked good, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with the overall look. The frame of the screen was a reddish-brown and the new fabric really seemed to pull-out the red tones in it and I didn’t care for the look.  I decided to give it a light sanding and spray paint it heirloom white.  Here are the before and after shots of the completed project.  Be sure to click the first photo to enlarge it and view the others as a slideshow.

We are cooking our turkey today and my dad will be joining us for Thanksgiving dinner this evening. This week I am featuring some of our favourite turkey left-over recipes.  Be sure to check it out and see what’s cookin’ at the Roys this week.

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