Pantry Make-Over

I suppose calling this a pantry make-over might be a bit of a stretch, but living in an older home means that storage is always at a premium. We have two staircases leading to our basement ~ one from the kitchen and one from the back door. I know ~ weird. The stairwell off the kitchen had slowly become a dumping ground for items that might be found in the pantry of a newer home. We did have some insufficient wire shelving on the wall, but it held very little and thus it seemed that items would slowly collect on the floor along the wall as well as on a large shelf in the basement. There was no rhyme nor reason to how things were stored and therefore, we often missed buying things we needed and over bought things we didn’t need. It was one of those things that constantly drove me about our house.

On the first Saturday of spring break, I was taking laundry down to the basement when the solution suddenly came to me. For months (maybe years) I had been trying to figure out how to solve this ongoing storage problem. I had measured and searched the web and just couldn’t come up with what I thought was a viable solution. It’s funny how ideas come to you at the strangest times. Such was the case with this. It was literally something I had tossed around for sometime, but just couldn’t seem to figure out how to make it work. The stupid part was there really wasn’t anything to figure out. The answer was right in front of me, I just had to shift my thinking.

The best part was that I had everything I needed to make it happen immediately and so that’s exactly what I did. I came up from putting the load of clothes in and set to work on transforming the dog’s breakfast at the top of the stairs.

You may remember the sliding spice storage racks I made to fit between my wall and fridge. I used old book shelves that were being discarded because they weren’t stable enough to be safe. They worked perfectly in the space and made for great storage.

I had two more sections that I had considered for can storage, but the depth of the shelves was too shallow and wouldn’t work. Over the last few years, I measure and tested cans again and again hoping I could somehow use the shelves as a pantry, but I just couldn’t figure out a solution….until this day! It finally dawned on me that the peg board backs on the shelves simply slid inside a groove about a quarter of an inch inside the top and bottom shelves. All I had to do was remove the back and let the wall of the stairwell become the new back! This quarter of an inch was all I needed to fit the cans and other small pantry items. I set to work and it was literally as easy as removing the screws from the tops and sliding the backing out. I planned on sitting the shelves on the floor and then securing them with an L bracket or something for safety, but when Tim learned of my plan, he offered to mount them up off the floor. I can not believe how well they work and it was such an easy fix in the end. The stairwell is now free of clutter and works perfectly for our needs. Our basement isn’t finished and so we don’t have to worry about company going up and down the stairs. If and when we ever do finish the basement, we plan to make the back stairs the main entrance to the basement anyway. So happy!

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:

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.

Have you ever considered working from home? A revolutionary new training system has hit the market.  If you are interested in learning how to earn money from home, you need to click this link.

Modge Podge on Steroids

Hey all you crafters out there!  I just heard about a new product and thought I’d give it a try.  I would refer to myself as more of an upcycler or Do It Yourselfer, but I do dabble in crafts and homemade gifts.  This product may not be totally new, but it is new to me and maybe to you too.    I already love Modge Podge, but this stuff is really cool.  I actually bought it specifically to use for a school project.

Modge Podge Dimensional Magic

modge podge dimensional magic


This medium is impressive.  Basically you can use it to add dimension to crafts, jewellery, cards and other projects.  When you apply it, it appears milky, but will dry clear.  The Craft Critique gives a really good description of the product and how it’s used.


Upcycled Medals

I was at a thrift store recently and they were selling old sports medals for 50 cents each.  I thought that maybe I could upcycle them and use them for awards at school. (I bought an old trophy as well, but couldn’t figure out how to keep the new paper plate I made level enough to apply the Podge.)

I decided to cover the surfaces of the medals and the trophy plate with awards that would fit with my program.  I made them out of paper, but knew that they would not be very durable if left like that.  When I heard about the dimensional podge, I thought it would be perfect for this project.  I simply applied an even layer over the entire paper surface on the medals and got down in the little groove between the paper edge and the medal.  I let them dry for 24 hours and they look good and feel hard as rock.  I am hoping that they will be as durable as they seem.  You will notice that the paper seemed to be curling slightly when I applied the podge.  (See wet podge slide.) I was a bit worried about how this was going to turn out, but when it dried, there were no issues with the paper bubbling up or appearing warped.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Although you might not be interested in upcycling sports medals, this product could work for a variety of other projects. It was easy to use and I am really pleased with how they turned out.  It is a bit hard to see the dimensional surface on my project, but if you good Modge Podge Dimensional Magic, you will see lots of great ideas under Google images.

Want to learn how the pro’s blog? If you’re interested in earning money from home, it makes sense to learn blogging and internet marketing techniques from the best on the web. If you’d like to receive the same training that’s helped me to launch my blog, you should click to find out how I did it.

Entertainment Unit Upcycle Project

This past spring, I bought an entertainment unit off of Kijiji for $15.  The unit was custom-built by the previous owner and very sturdy.  The unit itself rests on a base that has a decorative molding around the outside of it and the top molding piece can also be removed. You would never know it when you see the unit assembled, but it certainly makes the heavy piece easier to move when it can be somewhat dismantled.

Original T.V. Entertainment Unit:

As you know, these types of cabinets are virtually becoming obsolete with the influx of flat screen televisions.  You can often find melamine or veneer type units on Kijiji for cheap, but it is rare to find one that is of such good quality for so little.

original cabinet

The is the original entertainment unit.

Project Preparation:

We dismantled the main pieces of the unit and then I:

  • used TSP to thoroughly clean the surface
  • rinsed the TSP off with a clean cloth and bucket of water
  • gave the entire surface a very light sand (220 grit) to scuff-up the surface for proper adhesion of paint
  • primed the entire surface
  • we replaced the glass shelf with two wood shelves in the “tower” part of the unit
  • we also cut a shelf and front molding for installation in the area where the television was kept


Final Touches:

I decided to paint the unit red with the intent on it becoming a major furniture piece in my son’s room.  I had 2/3’s of a quart left over from when I originally painted his room.  The original red I used was called Lyon’s Red (Benjamin Moore).  I got one good coat done and most of a second, but being red, it really needed a third coat to get proper coverage.  I was feeling that the original red was slightly pinkish and I wasn’t totally loving it.  I needed to buy another quart to finish the unit properly and decided to go with a very slightly different red.  You can hardly notice the difference b/w the stripe on his wall and the red unit, but the final project is exactly the hue I was looking for.  I love, love, love this red ~ Benjamin Moore Caliente (AF-290). The colour in the photo looks a bit blotchy, but it is not ~ the paint coverage is very even.  Originally, I had planned to cover the back, but decided to wait to see what it looked like with his wall behind.  I think that once everything is inside it will be fine, but I can always go back and add a back if we find it a problem.

red shelf

Finished Project

I purchased some canvas totes for the tower and plan to books in the shelves where the television used to sit. The total cost of this project was about $70 ($15 for unit,$30 for wood and $25 for paint). The prep work was a bit time intensive, but the actual modifications/building was minimal.  Look for the cabinet in the upcoming post on my son’s completed Hockey Themed Room.

Want to learn how the pro’s blog? If you’re interested in earning money from home, it makes sense to learn blogging and internet marketing techniques from the best on the web. If you’d like to receive the same training that’s helped me to launch my blog, you should click to find out how I did it.

DIY Front Entrance Make-Over

Well, the kids are off to camp and I am up to my neck in projects.  Yesterday was productive, but I didn’t get nearly as much done as I had hoped.  I had some errands to do and was meeting some friends from work for lunch and an Ikea shopping trip.  We are re-designing our staff room at work and so we thought we would go and look at some tables and chairs for our newly created space.  So, yesterday seemed to be gone in a heart beat.  I got up, showered, ate, wrote my post, met the gals from work, did my own errands and got home just in time to give my husband a big kiss before he left for work.  I had a quick dinner and then set to work on my “to do” list.  I had a very productive evening, but none of my projects are ready to post, so I thought I would share one of our accomplishments from last year’s summer camp week.

Front Door and Entrance Before Shots

Our home is an Arts and Crafts style home that was built in 1921.  When we purchased the home there was an aluminum screen door on the front which we both hated.   Issue number two was our crazy front entrance.  Once inside the house, the entry consists of a narrow hallway with two little alcoves along the left wall.  Both are recessed about 12″.  Of course, this is not deep enough for an actual front entrance closet, so in the first one, we installed an antique wall mount table and in the second we put up hooks to accommodate the coats and backpacks.  However, the reality was that the entrance was a complete eye-sore and I hated it, despite all the beautiful woodwork and charm. (A few of these shots are a bit dark, not sure why, but it will give you an idea of what we were dealing with.)

Project Number 1:  Replace the Screen Door

Well, we found a door (at The Old House Revival Company) that would fit the oversized opening and my husband installed it during summer camp week 2012. This ended up being a pretty major project that kept him busy for a couple of days. He sanded it roughly, but we really wanted it to show all of its age and wear, so I just stained over what wasn’t sanded off. We love the finished product and the “slam” of the wood on wood when the door closes….it seems to take you back in time. Of course, this project was not nearly as easy as it sounds. Tim had to cut down the door to fit, and it was lots of work to get it to hang and close properly in the existing door jam. He also had to install a screen as the door did not come with one.  All in all, I love the change and it seems to fit better with the era and style of our house.

vintage wood screen door

Project Number 2A:  Install an Antique Solid Oak Door on 2nd Alcove

We found an antique oak door on Kijiji that only needed to be trimmed down slightly to fit the space.  It was quite a bit of work to sand and stain it, but I think the finished result is good and it matches well with our existing woodwork.  The door we purchased had 9 panes of beveled glass at the top.  In addition to the two alcoves, the hallway is banked with 4 French Style doors, each with 15 panes of beveled glass. Although the glass would have matched okay, I wanted a bit of a different look and it was important to hide the contents of the closet (or it would defeat the whole purpose of installing a door.)  We also had to install a plate to cover the deadbolt that was previously installed in the door.  The black hardware is different than the other hardware in the house, but I think it still works okay.

Project Number 2B:  Faux Tin Tiles

I decided to try to create the look of tin tiles in lieu of the glass panes.  I found a tutorial on Pinterest and used it as a guide to create my own faux tin tiles for the door.  The tiles were made using aluminum foil baking sheets that I purchased at Dollarama. Basically, I used one of the free patterns offered with the tutorial and etched it onto the aluminum foil squares I had previously cut to size.  I used an embossing tool to do the etching.  I then used a combo of brown and white shoe polish to distress each of the 9 pieces.

tin tilesall 9 tin tiles







The New Entry Gallery

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you love to share your thoughts and interests and would like to get paid for doing what you love, do what I did and find some experts to mentor you. Click here to learn how a novice like myself was able to quickly learn techniques and strategies for blogging effectively.

DIY ~ “Upcycled” End Tables

Yesterday was a great day!  I got my post written early and had enough time to finish up a little “upcycling” project that I had on the go.  Repurposing and upcycling are two of my deepest passions, but unfortunately those projects can be time-consuming and as a working mom I don’t have the time or energy to do much of it during the school year.  When summer arrives, creative projects are always at the top of my list.  I absolutely thrive on thinking outside of the box and love trying to create something great out of a piece that might otherwise be deemed trash.  In fact, if you were to walk through our home you would find that very few pieces were purchased new, directly from a retail store.  Many were bought on Kijiji, at garage sales and few were even picked up from back lane “dumpster diving”.  No, I am not too proud to say that…” trash to treasure projects” generally give me the greatest satisfaction.  Such is the case with today’s project.

Upcycled End Tables: Step 1 ~ Spray Paint

Okay, first off, I can’t believe I didn’t take a before picture.  I always do and in fact, was sure I had until I sat down to write this post.  So sorry, but I will try to explain without the visual.  I bought two metal end tables off of Kijiji.  The lady was advertizing them @ two for $10, but when I got there she confessed that she had broken the glass top of one and in the end reduced the price down to $8 for both tables.  (I actually was not going to use the glass for the project so it really didn’t matter to me except for the fact that it had a nice bevelled edge that could have been used for another project.)  All in all it was a great purchase.  In this photo, you can see the structure of the table (minus the glass top).  At this point, I had already sprayed the metal legs with one coat flat black spray paint.
end table

spray paint


Now imagine the structure above, with speckled paint on it.  The original colour was a little bit more greenish grey, but had speckles similar to the cap in the picture.





Upcycled End Tables: Step 2 ~ Sanding

Last summer, my neighbour spotted an old pallet by the BFI bin in the back lane.  She helped me drag it home and it has been awaiting repurposing ever since.  Finally, a use for it!  I got out the belt sander and began to remove the layers of grime and graffiti.

free pallet

As you can see, the pallet was in pretty rough shape.  I decided to sand it while it was still nailed together.  It seemed like a good idea, as the boards were stable and easier to sand.  Once sanded, I took the circular saw and ran the saw along the edges of the top boards, just inside the rows of nails (and the 2 X 4’s below that were holding the top planks).  Removing pallet nails is not an easy task, so I just basically cut off the rows of nails along both ends and down the middle, being careful not to cut into the plank below that they were nailed into.  For the purpose of this project, the resulting planks would still be long enough to meet my needs.

Upcycled End Tables: Step 3 ~ Final Cuts of the Table Top Boards 

The next thing I did was take my planks and stack them into two piles of 4.  I would need 4 planks for each table top and wanted them to be cut to the same size.  I placed each pile on the mitre saw, one at a time and made a fresh-cut along one end of the planks to ensure it was nice and straight. I then turned the stack and measured 20 1/2 inches from the fresh-cut end, ensuring that all of the planks were lined up perfectly.  I cut them at the 20 1/2 inch mark, and with the 4 planks stacked firmly together, all 4 pieces were cut completely “square” and to the exact same length.  I repeated this process with the other stack of 4 boards.  Following that, I used the mouse sander to ensure that all of the boards had a smooth finish on the tops and all of the edges.  I was not concerned with chips or gouges in the wood because I was going for a worn rustic look anyway.

Upcycled End Tables: Step 4 ~ Building the Frame and Top

I found some old 1 X 2’s int he basement from a previous project and used them to make a frame that would sit around the square top of the metal table.  Think picture frame.  I measured the outside edge of the black metal top at 17″ per side.  The 17″ would become my inside cut on my mitred corners of my frame.  I measured out 20″ lengths of 1 X 2’s and then proceeded to cut my boards with a 17″ inside frame length.  Basically, my plan was to build a frame around the existing top and then nail my planks to the wooded frame that would sit snuggly along the outside of the square metal table base.

Once the frames were made, I nailed my planks to the tops. I set some really large bolts between each plank to ensure the spaces between the planks would be a consistent size.

bottom of table top

You can see from the picture, that the frame was made out of scrap wood as well.  This is the under side of the table tops.  The frame on the bottom simply sits on top of the metal tables with the metal square on top of the base fitting snuggly inside the frame I built.

both table tops

Upcycled End Tables: Step 5 ~ Staining the Table Tops

I found an old tin of stain that I have used for many previous projects and generously applied it to the tops, sides and between the planks of the table top.  I love the way it looks so old and rustic.  We gave it a quick coat of spray urethane and VOILA!  Two new end tables for our front porch.

stained table top


What I Love About Upcycling

In all honesty, it’s a bit of a rush for me.  I picked up these tables for $8 ($4 each) and had all of the other materials on hand.  The pallet was a dumpster dive treasure and so of course it was free.  This project was no more than a few hours work and I would rate it as very easy.  The best part is the finished product provides us with little tables that are literally one of a kind.  When something turns out well, it gives me a true sense of accomplishment.  One of my favourite bloggers is Becky from Beyond the Picket Fence.  She is a mom and teacher like me, and best of all she has awesome ideas for DIY and upcycling projects.  Check-out her blog and be inspired!

I come from very humble beginnings and learned at a young age how to stretch a dollar. I think that my ability to find a good deal, coupled with my knack for seeing potential in what others might deem trash, makes upcycling both fun and rewarding.  Even when a project doesn’t quite go as well as I had hoped, my biggest loss is usually time not money, but because I enjoy the process, I take each failure in stride and try to learn something that can help me become more successful in future projects.

Check-out the mini slide show of the finished project!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.