Little Change, Big Impact

There is a mud room located off the back of our kitchen. I love the concept of a mud room, but hate this space…it’s totally useless! Although the room is probably about 8 X 12, there are two stair cases (one down to the mud room/one down to the basement), the garage door, the back door and a large window. The space is such that despite all the room, there really is no place to store shoes and coats because every wall is broken up. The stairs are built is such a way that more than 4 feet of the 12 is lost and the remaining space is about 8 feet square. I have big plans for this space, but it is currently way down the list. It is one of the few spaces in our home that we’ve never touched. I simply decided that it would stay as is until we could do it right. I can’t wait for the day I can call these photos “BEFORE” shots, but for now, this is what I’m living with. You can see that it would be difficult to add any kind of a closet or wardrobe because currently both doors swing into the room. It simply isn’t functional.

Despite our brutal winter, my husband and I realized that we had not closed the back door between the kitchen and mud room even once throughout the winter. We used to close it often as the mud room only has a baseboard heater and it’s often cold, but a few years ago we had an efficiency test done on our house and were told that it would be best to leave the door open at all times for the heat to circulate through. Sure enough, it is better with the door left open. However, this big cumbersome door, when left open, blocks all of the sunlight pouring in the huge kitchen window. I don’t know why, but until recently it never even occurred to us to remove it.  This weekend, my husband removed the door from the hinges and carried it down to the basement. I was absolutely blown away by the difference. The room feels so much brighter and more open and the door is no longer in the way.

Sometimes, the simplest of details make the biggest impact. Of course, we now have to remove the hinges and metal stripping, fill holes and paint the frame, but the over all look seems to be dramatically different. Of course, now we have great sight lines to the mud room that I hate, but perhaps the mud room make-over has now moved up a few notches on the “to do list”.

I don’t have great before pictures because I really didn’t expect it to make such a big difference. My husband is great, but somehow I can’t see him bringing the heavy door back up and putting it back on the hinges for a before shot. The first two photos give you a bit of an  idea of the issues we had with the door.



If something in your space is bothering you, step back and see if a small change might make a big difference. Perhaps it’s as simple as moving a piece of furniture, replacing small picture frames with something oversized, painting or changing the swing of a door. When we did our bathroom make-over a few years ago, one of the things we did was change the swing of the door. It used to swing open to sit in front of the built-in cupboards. It drove me crazy to have to close the door every time I needed something from the cabinet. Although we did a whole renovation, this alone made a huge difference to the look and functionality of the room.

Upcycled Wine Bottle

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
  • scissors

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!

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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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Upcycled Decor Screen

We bought two second-hand screens (room dividers) in 2006.  I liked them, but never really loved the fabric on either screen.  I was always on the lookout for a more modern look and finally found a fabric when we were down in the states last winter. (By the way, Joann’s is always on my list when I go shopping in the states.  There is a much better fabric selection and often really great sales.)  Such was the case with this fabric.  I can’t say that I saw it and instantly thought… this is exactly what I have been looking for, but the price was right ($35) and I liked it.

old screen

This is the original screen. The fabric is okay, but quite traditional.

Screen Upcycle

old fabric

This is actually the fabric from the other screen which has been sitting unused in our basement. You can see all of the velcro I removed.

I purchased enough fabric to replace the three panels on one screen.  The panels did not have two “good sides”, so it was meant to be placed in a corner or against a wall.  I don’t need it to divide an actual space, so when purchasing the fabric, I only purchased enough to cover one side of the screen (like the original).  This is a fairly simple sewing project.  It basically consists of creating a finished seam all the way around each of the large rectangular pieces of fabric and then adding velcro to attach them to the screen frame.  I used the old fabric from the screen as a guide for my measurements and even removed the velcro so that I could re-use it on the new fabric.

From cutting to finished project, this probably did not take me more than a couple of hours (maybe less).  It was quick to sew and my sewing machine was in a cooperative mood, so it was smooth sailing.  (We don’t always get along.)

The New Look

upcycled screen

One Thing Leads to Another

Hmmm….I like the new look and love how the fabric has a more “light and airy” feel. However, if you were in my house you would notice how the reddish brown finish on the metal screen seems to stand-out a little more.  (Looks more chocolate-brown in the photo, but definitely a bit on the red side when you are up close and personal!).  Not sure I like it.  Oh, oh!  Luckily, I can sneak the other screen out of the basement (we weren’t using it anyway) and give it a quick sand and coat of paint.  I wonder how it will look with paint?  We won’t tell my husband until it is done, that way I can’t be stopped.  He generally really likes the finished product, but doesn’t always share my perspective and vision:D

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The “Crap” Basket Solution

Do you have a two or three-story house ?  Are you constantly finding your kid’s belongings on the main floor instead of in their rooms?  This was a constant battle in our house.  “Take this upstairs.” (and many other variations of the phrase had me feeling like a broken record.  (Wow! That phrase ages me, I guess!)  I found this idea on Pinterest and just had to make my own version.  I think that I borrowed the original idea from, but I can’t remember for sure.

Is the Word “Crap” Offensive?

I hope not.  If I offended anyone, I apologize.  I’ll be honest, my mom was a Christian woman with very high morals, but she said the word “crap” and so do I.  As a kindergarten teacher, I am often hearing children say that words such as hate and stupid  are “swears”.  In my family, none of those words were considered “swears”, but were also never directed at a person.  There is a difference between saying “you are stupid” and “I can’t get this stupid thing to work”.  The words certainly don’t have a positive connotation, but I am not completely convinced they are “swears” either.  Of course, I would never tell my students this, but clearly not everyone is brought up banning those words from their vocabulary and thus we have “situations” in the classroom.  I have found the same to be true with the word “crap”.  I do believe the word is banned in some homes, but clearly not mine.  Just to clarify, I wanted to demonstrate that there is more than one definition and when I use the word “crap”, I am referring to this definition, so don’t get your knickers in a knot.

definition of crap

You will notice that this definition (taken from the New Oxford American Dictionary) does say “vulgar slang”, but I choose to ignore this because since when is “rubbish” vulgar?  I am not sure that my children necessarily agree that their belongings fit with the definition, but for me it works.  You could certainly make the baskets without using the word at all and just put their names on their baskets ~ whatever works for you.

Our Crap Baskets

Okay, now that we got that out of the way….we can actually get to the project.  I loved the original poster’s idea to use wicker, but thought that the baskets would probably scratch my painted stairs, so I opted for a little dollar store tote.  It looks like one of those canvas ones, but it is actually not…I think it is some kind of a nylon fabric (can be wiped).  I simply printed the words on my computer and used my Cricut machine to cut-out the tags.  I then used a stamp, eyelet, ribbon and hearts to embellish them.  They were super easy and have been very durable. The baskets sit on the stairs and it is the kid’s job to take up their basket, put away their belongings and return them to the stairs.  I find the baskets work really well.  Anytime, I find a bottle of nail polish, book, toy, etc., I just pop it in their “crap basket”.  I no longer have to hound them, but rather just pop their things in their baskets.  We have never found them to be in the way either.

crap basket



crap baskets

Eden and Shay’s crap baskets

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Hockey Themed Bedroom: The Reveal

We were so lucky when we did this bedroom make-over, as my son’s room was already navy and beige with a red stripe.  The colours matched perfectly with the Winnipeg Jets colour scheme, so it was pretty easy to pull together.  We made the hockey coat rack and hockey shelf for Shay for his birthday, and told family and friends we were doing his room as a surprise.  One of his Aunts bought him a Jets flag and another bought him a clock for his room.  He already had a few posters.  I picked up the garbage can, piggy bank and even a kleenex box at our local dollar store.  The red unit was a recent upcycle project that we just moved up to his room and the folding chair at the desk was recovered to match his decor. I upcycled an old Winnipeg Jets t-shirt into a pillow sham for his bed.


Hockey Room Reveal

The room has finally come together!  Here are a few photos that show the overall design of Shay’s hockey themed bedroom.  Like my daughter, he has a good-sized bedroom with a walk-in closet.  He also has many beautiful windows and an abundance of natural light.  (A painter’s nightmare, I might add.)

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Our “New” Old Oak Office Desk

Another awesome Kijiji score!  I have been on the hunt for an antique office desk for years.  Something inexpensive that I could fix-up. Our set-up had worked okay (at best) and always looked cluttered.  When we bought our house, the quaint little 9′ X 11′ room just off our front entrance was introduced to us as “library” and the name has stuck.  It’s small and cozy with an antique electric fireplace, original built-in book cases and a wall of windows.  It really is lovely, but our computer set-up was barely functional with little desk top space and no storage. The little washstand we were using for our printer looked great in our purple bedroom at a previous home, but horrible here.  I was on a mission, but would not settle until I found the perfect fit for our library.  (Reminder…click any photo to enlarge it.)

Photos of Our Library ~ Before

melamine desk

Ugly grey office chair, purple cabinet, melamine desk and of course, the clutter.

old computer station

Ugly! Need I say more?

Antique Oak Teacher’s Desk and Chair

I was so excited when I found this desk on Kijiji for $75 and the best part was that the seller was including the oak office chair with it!  The desk was pretty beat up.  The top had some minor water damage, gouges and several dark markings.  The opening at the front (where the chair sits) was very beat up along the inside edges where the chair had obviously been rubbing for years.  To me, this spelled CHARACTER and I was all over this project. We sanded the surface of the desk.  All of the rough edges (that were really worn/damaged) were sanded quite deep, so that they were rounded and safe.   We didn’t want to catch our clothes on the splinters or worse yet, get a sliver.  The only thing we had to do to the chair was dust it ~ and that rocks!


Refinishing the “New” Old Oak Desk

As mentioned above, we sanded the entire desk down and removed any splinters and sharp edges. We then gave the entire desk a coat of stain and several coats of urethane. I think I put two on the sides and back, 3 on the drawers and about 5 on the top for extra durability. We had the stain and urthane here, so the only cost was the original $75 and lots of “elbow grease”. You may notice that the handles on the top middle drawer are not original. A previous owners must have replaced them at some point. They are definitely more of a modern style, but they are oak (I think) and blend well with the piece. We left them as most people wouldn’t even notice and it does not really compromise the integrity of the piece.  We are completely thrilled. The desk is huge! The top is 3 feet deep and 5 feet long. It provides enough space for the printer to sit on top of the desk as well as ample work space. It also has two slide out work surfaces, so there is plenty of room to work. I love the drawer space for storage and the one on the left is actually a double drawer that holds files (it is just made to look like two single drawers).


The New Look Of Our Library

There is not much extra room, as we also have a love seat in the library for reading, watching movies or just hanging out. It is cozy, but there is still enough room to move in and out easily and gain access to all of the book shelves. Love it!

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