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!

Simple Upcycle: Sofa Feet Turned to Tiered Pillar Candle Holders

A few years ago, I salvaged some old couch feet. I immediately saw the potential to stack the short stubby feet and make a set of tiered candle holders. Despite the fact that I knew this would be a super easy project, I had them stored with my other “to do” materials for close to two years. I finally took them out during Covid.

This project was so simple to do and cost next to nothing to pull off.

couch feet upcycle
1. I gathered the feet and gave them a very light sanding just to scuff the surface so the paint would stick.
2. I used “NO More Nails” adhesive to glue the feet together. I wanted 3 different heights, so I left one as is and then made a stack of 2 and a stack of 3.
3. I spray painted the stack once the glue had set. I didn’t like how visible the joins were, so I ended up filling the gaps with plaster and then lightly painting again.
4. I picked up some metal coasters at the thrift store and glued them to the tops. I felt that I wanted something extra for the candle to sit on. Once these set, I added spray paint to them as well.
5. Here are the finished candle holders. I am pleased with how they turned out, but am still wondering if I might go back and distress them slightly. The one thing about spray painting is that you are somewhat limited by the colour selection. I find the white spray paint very stark and sometimes feel that antiquing projects slightly, often creates more of the result I am looking for.
Part of my outdoor space makeover this summer has been to pretty up our front porch. I ended up putting these out on the porch. Instead of antiquing them as I originally thought, I just ended up adding a small band of twine around each. Simple, but the natural rawness of the twine seems to soften the stark white just enough!

Stay tuned….as part of my front porch project, I recently made a welcome sign for our entrance. You can see a hint of it behind the candles!