Friday, April 27, 2018

When I have my mind set on something, I am never satisfied with my options in a store. I have spoiled myself by buying antique and high-quality items at garage sales, so I'm never satisfied with price, even when it's reasonable to most. My coffee and end tables are the perfect example of upgrading my home and getting exactly what I wanted all at the same time! You don't have to be an expert craftsman to complete these projects.

My first step was to do my research. I had a stunning piece of cedar left over from a previous project and had to find a way to put it on my home. I wanted it to be a focal point, so I decided to put it right in the middle of my living room as my coffee table! Let my DIY board on Pinterest give you a little inspiration of your own! It's amazing how you can scroll through and see what types of projects I was really into at that time.

My first step was to sand the wood thoroughly. It brings out the red in the wood so brightly and creates a smooth finish. Here's a picture of the post-sand texture. You're a liar if you don't think it looks like bacon. Here's a link to the sander I use! I love it!

Then, I coated it with the perfect Spar Urethane. I didn't know much about the types of sealant, so I simply found a competent Home Depot employee to explain the differences and help me choose what I needed. I got...

The guy said it would prevent any water damage or dents, and, so far, he was right! I'll use this product more often! After a few coats, lightly sand any rough areas and polish it smooth.

Now for the legs. Y'all, searching for decently priced legs was the death of me. I searched at every store, looked at garage sales, and finally caved and bought some from Amazon. I don't love buying products online because the hassle of sending them back if I don't like them is ridiculous. I bit the bullet on these and LOVED them. I was so pleased that I will buy them again any time I need legs for a table. They are smooth, sturdy, and heavy! There's a link over there to the right!

Attaching them was super easy as well. After measuring out where they needed to be, I marked the holes and drilled holes so my screws would go in easily. I screwed in the screws, dusted of the top, and moved it in my house, and.... CAN YOU SAY GORGEOUS?

Could this be used for a bench? Maybe...but I'm not brave enough to sit on it to find out! Maybe a stiffer wood would work. I would trust the legs to hold up a person.

Houston, we have a problem. Not really...but now my end tables didn't match my coffee table...So when I saw these laundry baskets for sale on Facebook Marketplace, my brain saw end tables! They needed to be spray painted black to match my coffee table legs and needed a top that would be the same color as the cedar. Here's a link to my inspiration for these tables:

I measures the widest parts of the baskets and went to Home Depot to choose wood that would fit my dimensions. The best part is that they will cut the wood for you if you have the dimensions ready for them. They cut the wood and I had an entire other square left over for another project! Score!

Attaching them was be the tricky part. I laid the table top on the ground bottom up, set the bases on top, and used wide head nails in the corners of the bases to hold it to the table. It worked like a champ (thankfully, because I was out of ideas). I sealed them with a redwood sealant and...
They turned out to be beautiful and matched my coffee table well! Here's a side-by-side...
I'm in love with my design and love the warmth they bring to my home! Have you ever had a design that you couldn't find in store? Leave a comment describing it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

We've all "nailed it." You have a vision of the finished product and nothing will stand between you and your idea. We cut corners. We don't let the paint dry. We don't buy the right tools. Then, it flops. Is it ever time to throw in the towel? What happens when it doesn't turn out like you expected? Here is the story of my DIY disaster and what I learned to become better at my passion.

Image may contain: people sitting and indoor
The chairs spoke to me. I drove 30 minutes to pick them up. I broke my rule of paying more than I thought they were worth. There were 100 signs warning me NOT TO BUY THE CHAIRS. I did it anyway... That was mistake number 1.

Being the first upholstery project I had ever attempted, I made a lot of mistakes, but I learned so much! Here's a list of what I learned in hindsight.
  1. I should never have taken on this project as my first attempt at upholstery. The nailhead trim was WAY out of my league, and I totally underestimated the difficulty of this project. If you expect a project to be easy and it's not, you're quick to cut corners to get it to fit into your time period. 
  2. I cut corners. Instead of investing in the time and effort for piping, I bought trim, which looked weird. You should always take the time to do the project right the first time. If I had considered that thought beforehand, I wouldn't be writing this post at all.
  3. I didn't buy the right materials. Instead of investing in fabric, I used what I had and "made it work." Always buy the good stuff the first time. It will pay out for you by the end of the project.
  4. I guessed. Instead of reading tutorials and gleaning from the experts, I went with my gut, and that doesn't always work. I should have taken off the batting, but I didn't and was left with a lumpy chair. Consult the experts before you have a DIY disaster on your hands.
  5. I free handed the design. Unless your Van Gogh, free-handing is probably not the way to get a masterpiece. You should always map out your ideas, make stencils, and practice designs for the best outcome.
  6. I got frustrated. Instead of taking a break when I was angry or tired, I pressed on, making me prone to error. When you feel yourself getting sloppy with your work or have a "I just want it done" attitude, you may as well put it down and pick it up again later. No one wants to have a half-done product.

I wanted this project to work out so badly. My vision just didn't match the final project. I was left with a lumpy, off-centered piece that no one would buy (and I didn't want to keep). Here's my "finished" product...

Oh, the agonizing pain that goes with admitting you failed. So, what does one do when they get to this point? Take a loss? Start over? Throw it out?
I took what I learned and applied it back into this project.
I took off the batting and filled in the spare holes...buh bye lumps!
I invested in nice, thick fabric with a knockout pattern (left over from another killer project). Plus, a brand new, heavy-duty stapler! I took my time to staple on the fabric and took breaks when I was frustrated. Instead of hurrying to finish, I put love into every staple.
Because my fabric was much more simple than the complicated, handpainted mess, I could confidently cover both of my chairs in the same way! They already made me want to keep them, even with the exposed staples. But y'all...piping was the death of me. I did, I tried it... and gave up. 

Instead, I bought a really simple trim. And now...

Here's the cost breakdown...
Chairs: $50
Fabric: Left over from previous project $0
Trim: $10

This puts me at a total cost of $60. Once I've sold them (if I can let them go), I'll update you on my profits. Hopefully my starting price of $200 won't chase anyone away!

***UPDATE: The chairs sold for $200 to a law office! Hooray for my $140 profit!

Tell me about or post a picture of your latest DIY disaster in the comments!

Friday, April 20, 2018

We've all driven past a garage sale and thought, "Boy, that stuff looks like a bunch of garbage." Most people don't go to garage sales for clothes or stuffed animals. Why people think I'm going to want their stained sweatpants is beyond me... So how do you find a treasure that will make a statement in your home and avoid buying junk? How do you know what to look for and what to stay away from? I've made a list of a few things I've learned first hand!

1. Focus closely on the material it's made of. If the furniture isn't solid, don't bother. It may be gorgeous, but if it isn't made of solid wood, it won't fix up, and it won't last. If it's heavy, that's a really good sign! Many people are also thrown off by mismatched wood. It's actually a sign that the piece may be old or handmade.

2. Look for original knobs, screws, and hinges. Something without all of its hardware could end up costing you a pretty penny and replacing it could ruin the value. Depending upon how much you really need it, it may be worth it to hold out for something else

3. It'll probably be whompyjawed, cattywampus, or slightly off-centered, and that's okay!  If it's crooked, it probably means that it was made with more primitive and imprecise tools. If every line, notch, and screw is perfectly straight, you can bet it was made by modern tools or even a machine. Crooked dovetailing follows the same rules! Yay for imperfections!

4. Look for flat head screws. Phillip's head screws were invented in the 1930's. If it has those, you may have a vintage, but not an antique piece. If you want antique, looks for nails or other means of attaching the piece together, such as pegs.

5. Look for any markings, stickers, or etchings that could help you look up more info. I love researching the old pieces I find! Discovering that they came from a different state, or even country, tells a story that is all its own. So when you see something will a serial number, print___ of ___, or makers mark, you've discovered history along with a wonderful piece. And don't be afraid to do your research on the spot. If you think a piece may be valuable, take a minute to look it up. Don't wait till you get home to realize you've missed out on a treasure!
6. Ask the owner where they got the piece. You're looking for answers like, "It was my great-grandmother's," or "I don't know. It's been in the garage since I was a child." If they got it from Target two years ago, pass.

7. Don't give up on it just because of paint or condition. Paint is a very easy fix. Whether you sand it off and paint over it or remove it with stripper, try to see the beauty under the coats of awful paint. When you see a problem with a piece, ask yourself, "Can I fix this with things I have at home?" Wood glue covers a multitude of sins and a sander can buff out most nicks. Some screws just need to be tightened or replaced to bring it back to its former glory! Don't let brokeness stop you from falling in love with something that needs simple repairs!

8. Always walk around the whole sale. Sometimes people have things at the table they are sitting at because they don't want them stolen. Other times, people have things in the garage that they weren't planning to sell, but might if you ask them about it. Always, always, always, look at the items that things are sitting on. The tables may be for sale, too!

Are there any tips you have for discerning trash from treasure? Let us hear them in the comments below!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

When we moved in to our first home, I wasn’t willing to settle for the floor plan that the previous homeowners had set up. Everything was in a weird place, making the house feel cramped and messy! In the second livingroom area, they had workout equipment and an enormous aquarium. Then, they had their table shoved into a tiny nook in the corner! I couldn't handle it and decided that my dining area needed more space. The problem: the light fixtures reflected where they had placed their things. A hanging light fixture in the corner and no light fixture in the large room! With my big farmhouse table being a staple in my home, I wanted it to have a place of glory. But how could I arrange my home the way I wanted without being left in the dark?

Well, after switching out the hanging light in the corner for a more modern fixture, I began to feel like one heck of an electrician. So I thought that installing a light box couldn’t be too hard, right? Wrong. After some research, I gave up on that DIY project, because the process was tedious and complicated. How about calling an electrician? Yeah, for a few hundred bucks I could have it exactly the way I wanted. There was no way I was going to spend my tiny home decor budget on that! So how could I light up my dining room without spending a fortune or electrocuting myself? 

My inspiration came in an antique store, but I wasn't interested in their merchandise. While shopping one afternoon, I wandered into one of the stores,but instead of looking around, I happened to look up. There, hanging from the ceiling, were 20 or so light fixtures that reached from the sides to the middle of the store supported by antique pulleys. It was clear that they had the same problem I did! Certainly, I could pull off this magic trick myself!

The key to keeping it in budget was finding a pulley that wouldn't cost $30-$40, which is how much you usually see them for in antique stores. I hunted for a while before I could start my project. One on Facebook Marketplace for $10? Yes! It was pretty nasty and needed a good cleaning, but for that price, I didn't care!
Now, to buy the fixture. I found many on Amazon and chose the one with the longest cord. However, I knew I would need an extension cord to make it to the plug, so I didn't stress too much about length. The one listed below is even better than the one I found on Amazon. It comes with the bulb, cage, cord, and hooks! And at only $20, it's a steal!

Your next step is to hang it. You'll needed two hooks: one to hold up the pulley and one to hold the cord to the wall (if you order the kit above, those will be included). Mark where the middle of the table is, then move the table out of the way. Screw the hook into the ceiling above where you marked the center of your table to be. Make sure the hooks you get are long and sturdy enough to hold up the pulley because some of them can be rather heavy. The second hook will attach to the wall to support the weight of the light fixture. Find a spot on your wall that is somewhat out of the way. The height at which you hang it is completely your preference. If you don't have this support, it could unplug and fall to the ground or destroy the socket, so secure it tightly. I had to tie the cord to the hook instead of wrapping the cord around the hook. I used black string. It's not noticeable and holds firmly.

Next, lace the cord through the pulley and hang the pulley up. Make sure it is in the center of your space so it hangs evenly over your table. Now, you have to decide how high you want the fixture to hang. I pulled the fixture up and moved the table back so I could vitalize where it needed to be. Once I had it at the right height, I tied it firmly to the hook on the wall. All of the weight of the fixture should be supported by now, and you can plug it in (whether you need to include an extension cord or not).

Here's my finished product...

What a change! I am so happy with the outcome! However, I do plan to eventually change the low watt Edison bulb out for a brighter one to give us even more light. Have you ever worked with lighting? Have experience with lighting up a difficult space? Tell about it in the comments below and keep creating!

Friday, April 13, 2018

As newlyweds, we were broke. I mean, check my bank account before I bought groceries broke. Like, go the long way around to avoid the pleading Girl Scouts broke. What newlyweds aren't? Just starting out, no one has the money to buy things that match... Shoot, newly married people are lucky to have things at all! My house was full of well-loved hand-me-downs, but after a while, I was ready for my home to be filled with things that were mine and reflected my style. Furniture and home decor stores were out of the question. How could I upgrade my home without going broke?

I immediately turned to garage sales. I knew I could buy sturdy, high quality items for much less than retail store prices. But back then, $10-$15 dollar purchases could break the bank if I didn't make it back somehow.

The big shaggy rug was the first thing in my home to go. It was huge, didn't fit my style, and had sand permanently ingrained from being in my mom's beach home. It was a nice rug and served its purpose for years, but I just didn't love it.

Buy Low (which sometimes requires a little TLC)
When I stumbled upon its successor at a garage sale, it was COVERED in dog hair, and my husband wouldn't even let it come in the house until I cleaned it.  It was smaller, didn't hold in dirt, and matched my home well. For $7, it had to come home with me. Sometimes second hand requires work, but you be the judge on its worth!

Sell higher than what you paid
So what did I do with the monstrosity I had before? Sold it for $50 and made a profit for upgrading my home!

Another fun exchange was my dining room table. Before, I had a drop leaf table that fit perfectly in my small home, but when I got more space, I could upgrade. Nothing wrong with the previous table, but when I found this one for $90 and sold the previous one for $150, I made $60 and had a table to better fit my style.

Sometimes, just having someone willing to haul off your old stuff is worth its weight in gold! When we bought a "new" couch for $100, my intention was to sell the old couch and chair to make some of my money back. When no one wanted them, I almost had to pay someone to take the previous couch and chair off my hands! It was worth the $100 for me to have someone else carry them down from the third floor! Not quite the same success story as some other stories, but it was worth my money for the labor, and I got to bless someone in need.

Over the years, I have used this trick with lamps, coffee tables, end tables, and a million more things in my home. My house has slowly turned from a place full of hand-me-downs to a home full of my style!

The Buy Low, Sell High Method
The trick is being able to buy low and sell your stuff for as much or more than it cost you to get your new item. When you buy, barter! Go visit my article on How To Barter Better for tips . When selling, always start by pricing your item at about 25% more than you actually want. These coffee and end tables cost me $40 to make, so I started by pricing the previous set at $60. I was bid down by the buyer and sold the set for $50, putting my profit at $10 for making myself a new set of tables!
A tutorial for these tables can be found by clicking the picture :)
Does this work for someone who bought the pieces instead of being given hand-me-downs? Of course! Imagine that you bought a kitchen table 10 years ago at $500. You're tired of it and ready to update your style. So, you find a steal for $100 at a garage sale. You sell your original table for $200. Now you've only spent $400, and you have a new table! Keep it up on other items, and the money you spent on your items will continue to drop!

 So what have you made money from buying and selling? Let's hear your success story in the comments below! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Every bathroom has that same awful mirror... You know the one. The frameless (sometimes off-centered) hunk of enormity that fills up the entire bathroom wall. Both of my bathrooms had them, and they had to go! My husband and I spent a lot of time on Youtube looking at tutorials for how to remove the enormous mirror without destroying it. I was extremely nervous, and took some of my pictures from the safety of the shower as my hubby helped me pull it down. But the results completely changed the look of both bathrooms!

Supplies you'll need for the project include:
1. A screwdriver (either a flat head or a Philips head depending upon how the mirror brackets are attached)
2. Duct or painters tape
3. Paint sticks/yard sticks/long thin pieces of wood to use for spacing behind the mirror
4.Safety goggles in case the mirror does break!
5. Work gloves, again in case of mirror breakage
6. A new mirror to hang (It could be a good idea to wait until you remove the first mirror to see what spots need to be covered. If you are okay with spackling and painting, you don't have to worry about covering up marks on the wall.)
7. Spackle and paint if the mirror wont cover the marks on the wall

First, take the security brackets off from around the mirror. Don't worry, most mirrors are glued to the wall, and the brackets do pretty much nothing to support the mirror.

Some types (left image below) can come off before removing the mirror. Simply unscrew and remove. Some of them (right image below) bend back and you can unscrew them after the mirror is off. Just make sure you bend them down enough to stay out of your way. Either way, there are going to be small holes for you to fill and repaint.

Step 2 is to tape up the mirror really well. Everyone I've seen do this project recommended this asterisk style pattern, and it worked well for us. Duct tape or painters tape will work fine. This picture is after I took it down. As you can see, it didn't break :)

After taping it up, you'll need to pull it off the wall. This is the part that scares people because shattered glass is a scary thought! Use paint sticks as spacers behind the mirror. Slide them behind the mirror to create some space between the mirror and the wall. Gently pull the mirror back from the wall, starting from the top. As you pull, slide the spacers down to where the glue was. Keep pulling and sliding the spacers until it is peeled off the wall.

Once the mirror is removed, you will have some marks where the mirror was glued. Thankfully, the spots on my wall were small. If they are larger than the mirror you were planning to hang, you may have to do some spackling and touch up work.

But if you're like me, the mirror covered all of the blemishes and hung nicely. I simply hung it the way you would a picture. If you have kids, or are worried it could be knocked off for other reasons, you may want to mount it more securely with a mirror mount like the one below.

Here's the result!

And since I loved my guest bathroom so much, I did my master! The mirror was larger, which meant more glue dots. You can't tell from the picture, but the clock in the middle is covering a small blemish. Nothing a little ingenuity can't fix :) Whenever we sell the house, it's a spot I'll have to fix. 

Can I say, those awful sinks are the next thing to go?? But the change in mirrors changed the whole look of my bathroom! Goodbye off-centered, frameless mirror! I won't miss you! This afternoon facelift can change the whole look of your bathroom! Why not start today? Leave me a comment if you have questions or more exciting ideas!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

I have an obsession with containers. Something about a cute thing with the ability to put my life in order just seems right. That obsession tends to leave me with many containers that have no use! So I've come up with a few inventive ways to use some of my favorite items for storage.

1. Vintage tins are usually cheap, make great decoration, and are perfect for storage! I have used them in many different ways to clean off my counters and organize any small, loose items. For example, I have my tea bags in these tins instead of in the boxes they came in. What a big difference!

I also use a tin to hold all of my bobby pins and hair bands. A tin that you love gives your room a comfy, vintage feel. Here’s the before...
Yuck. See the after photo later on in this article!

2. Tea and coffee cups can be used in many ways! Instead of a terracotta pot, use an old tea cup for your favorite plant!

Have a million unused coffee mugs laying around? Why let your favorite mug sit in a cabinet where you don't get to enjoy it every day? Melt wax to make it a candle! (Shout out to Swan Creek Candles and their amazing candle refill kits) Or use it to hold your small bits of jewelry.
Image credit:

3. I am obsessed with Pioneer Woman dishes! So much so that I can't bear to leave them in the cabinet! So instead of hiding them away, I've found ways around my kitchen to use them for storage. My measuring cup is used to hold my wooden utensils, and my large mixing bowl is perfect for my K-Cups (it's easy to move them to another bowl and rinse it out when I need it).
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4. Wooden Crates have a million uses! Whether they have individual slots, or they are open to store large items, there's a perfect use for them around your house. I have one to keep my records organized (this one is not vintage because I needed a specific size for this to work).

This one has slots which were originally used for soda bottles. I got tired of having all of my spices out of sight and out of reach! No they aren't cute and labeled, and they don't all match (ain't nobody got time for that). I mean, I have a life lol.

In this new house, there was no good place to put toilet paper! That doesn't seem like a big deal until you have to waddle across the bathroom to get a new roll from under the sink. So after buying an apple crate at an estate sale, I decided it would be the perfect way to fill up a naked place on my wall and have my toilet paper easily accessible!

5. A sugar mold is perfect for decoration and even a fun idea for storage! Are you the girl with a thousand pieces of makeup for every look? Let's store all of it in a place where it's easily accessible! Also notice the tins from earlier :)

I don't know about you, but I can NEVER find a pen in my house and, as a teacher with a PhD student for a hubby, we have a million of them just laying about all over! Time to organize them!

6. Every one of my blankets has a precious memory attached to it. So when I bought a half barrel at a trade day sale, I knew it would be amazing storage for my blankets! Gorgeous and stylish!

Another free secret with a basket of blankets. Put it next to wherever your wifi is plugged up. No one wants to look at that ugly modem, and (since ours is in the bedroom) the lights keep us awake at night! Wrapping it in a blanket wont hurt the connection. So wrap it in up and keep it at the bottom of your basket. No ugly modem. No annoying lights.

7. Let's talk about a steamer trunk. I got this gorgeous thing in college for $30 (a major splurge at the time), and it has served a hundred purposes, including being my coffee table for years. But it's most important use is that it stores all of my memories from my childhood through college. Stuffed animals from my grandma and cards from past birthdays are all safely stored in this trunk, AND it makes a great display for pictures and knick knacks!

Have you thought of any inventive ways to use your everyday items to get rid of clutter? Leave a comment below, and let us know!

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