Survival Sewing – Cloth Face Masks and A Paper Towel Substitute

How have you been faring during these strange days?  Locally, our mandate to shelter in place has just been extended into May.  Ever since the mandate began, I’ve been telling myself that now I have absolutely no excuse not to start deep cleaning and getting organized.

But then my neighbor rescued me.

Sewing Face Masks

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She got me into sewing face masks to donate to hospitals from kits and instructions that Joann Fabrics and Crafts was handing out.  The kit I received from Joann was well put together, but still a bit lacking in supplies – possibly because of a growing scarcity in local stores of things like elastic.  But since I already had some supplies at home, I was able to complete the masks. (Note:  At this writing, Amazon still appears to have plenty of elastic cord .)

 

 

I found this video to be very helpful. The masks were so simple to make that the hardest part for me was actually sitting still to watch the video.

Then, with my own fabric, I made a few for myself and family.

 

But the whole time I wondered:  Are these masks even effective?

Do Cloth Masks Even Work?

There has been a dizzying amount of information circulating about whether or not we should wear masks in public, which masks are effective, and which method and fabrics are best for sewing a DIY face mask.

But now the CDC is actually recommending that the public use cloth masks as another measure to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

This link will take you to information from the CDC about making, wearing, and caring for, a cloth face mask.

I’m not a medical expert, a mask-making expert, or even a particularly good seamstress.  But today I thought I’d share a few things that I learned while making my masks.

 

Things to Consider When Making A DIY Cloth Mask

Washability

A mask used time and again without being properly cleaned will eventually do more harm than good.  So to me, the best thing about a cloth mask is that it is washable.  I made sure that everything I used in the making of my masks could survive repeated trips through the washing machine.

I wash my mask after every single use. And when making masks for others, I launder the masks before giving them away and only handle them with clean hands.

Contrast

After wearing my mask once to the grocery store, taking it off in the car, then trying to reapply it at the gas station, I realized that I could not keep track of which side of the mask had been against my face and which side had been facing the big, scary world.  I’d sewn both sides with identical fabric.

So when I made a few more masks for family members, I decided to use contrasting fabrics for the front and back of each mask.

DIY cloth face masks
Mask fronts

 

DIY cloth face masks
Mask backs

The small mask fits a preschooler who loves cats.  Although I used the same fabric for both sides, the cats are different on each side.

I doubt she’ll be going out much, but if she does she will look stylish.

Which leads me to . . .

Pretty But Still Practical

We’re using words now that we never thought we’d need:  Pandemic; shelter in place; social distancing.  The world has become quite a bit heavier lately, so I like to lighten things up by using pretty fabrics for these masks.

After all, if I’m going to wear a mask in public, I might as well make it a fashion statement – up to a point.

I’m still using practical, washable fabrics and a mask style that is comfortable to wear.  I’m using non-woven washable interfacing between the fabric for an extra layer of protection.

And, no matter how tempting, I’m not embellishing these masks with things like buttons or notions on the theory that sewing on embellishments might create little holes for the virus to get through.

But most importantly, I’m not letting my mask give me a false sense of security.  I’m still mostly staying home.  And when I do go out, I’m still using social distancing, sanitizing, and hand washing to stay safe.

 

A Paper Towel Substitute

Sometimes it’s the small things that make a difference in our daily lives.  When this all started, we had three rolls of paper towels in the house, and there were none left on store shelves.  Since I was constantly sanitizing at home, I was going through a lot of paper towels.

So I decided to cut old cotton kitchen towels into six pieces and quickly hem each piece so the fabric wouldn’t fray.

Now these little cloths sit in a bowl on the kitchen countertop, and I can reach for them instead of paper towels.  Since they’re more durable than paper towels, I’m actually starting to prefer them.

Paper towel substitute

 

Like paper towels, the cloths are meant for single-use jobs.  Whenever I do laundry, which seems to be pretty frequently during this pandemic, I just throw the soiled cloths into the machine with the rest of the load.

It’s been working well, and I have yet to run out of clean cloths – even though I use them almost constantly.

 

 

I hope you are still managing to find beauty where you can in this strange new world.  Stay safe, friends!

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

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Escape To A Tropical Garden

“Strange days have found us.” – Jim Morrison

It seems that we have all suddenly stumbled into uncharted territory.  I hope that you and your family are safe and healthy.  My community has been particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 virus, and my hat is off to local authorities for the thoughtful way that they are handling the situation.

One thing I keep hearing, and that I have chosen to believe, is that fresh air and sunshine have disinfectant qualities.

So since we have been mandated to stay home anyway, I’ve been getting a jump start on spring garden clean-up.

This pile of mulch isn’t going to spread itself

 

Of course what we should not do right now is travel.  We had travel plans that had to be cancelled.

So this post combines what we can do right now (garden) with what we can’t do right now (travel) to bring you . . .

Design Inspiration From A Tropical Garden

On our most recent visit to the island of Hawaii, we toured the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.  This world-class botanical garden was the brainchild of Dan Lutkenhouse, and it is the result of years of planning and hard physical labor by Lutkenhouse and his team.

Touring the trails of this garden, it seems there is a surprise around every corner.

A basket fern grows on a palm tree

 

Cannonball Tree

 

 

There is also inspiration.  It struck me that the things that make a good tropical garden so interesting are the very things that make almost any garden interesting.

Structure

Structure can be found in the most unexpected places, like root systems.

 

 

Or unique trunks.

 

Going Vertical

Vertical gardens are trending with us humans, but Mother Nature still does it best.

Although, here, Mother Nature probably does have a little help from the garden caretakers.

 

Anthurium on a tree trunk
Orchids nestled in trees

Scale

One of the most dramatic elements in any garden design is scale.  In a tropical garden, it’s easy to feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland.

 

Sometimes, to get a real sense of scale, you have to look up.

 

Undergrowth

Undergrowth brings contrast to a scene and provides the eye with a reference point for scale.

 

Undergrowth on the island in Lily Lake

Pattern

Pattern can bring a sense of order to a garden.  Here, natural patterns are everywhere – especially on leaves.

Pemba palm

 

Specimen Plants

In contrast to scale, it’s always nice to have interesting details for the eye to zoom in on – like points of color and unique specimen plants.

 

Phillipine orchid

 

Pitcher plant

 

Ramshot Croton

 

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed our mini tour of this fabulous garden.  Photos don’t do it justice.

Sadly, it’s time to go . . .

Back to Reality

Please stay safe, dear reader.  And remember that, even at times like this, there are silver linings if we look for them.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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Cute DIY Moss Pouches

No special skills are required to make these cute and natural-looking moss pouches.  And the fun thing about this project is that it is not an exact science.  If something ends up crooked or a little lopsided, it just adds to the natural look.

But if someone is looking for perfection, this may not be the right project.  When the plant is watered, the bottom of the moss pouch gets soggy – and a bit of the soil residue can even leach out.  For that reason, these moss pouches should be kept on a saucer.

Making the Pouch

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I started with a 12 X 7 piece of sheet moss (specifically, Instant Green Supermoss) and a similarly sized piece of light-duty landscape fabric.

I removed the paper backing from the sheet moss to expose the grid.

And I placed the landscape fabric over the grid where the paper backing had been.

Then I folded the moss and fabric in half so that the moss was on the inside and the landscape fabric was on the outside.  Then I pinned the sides together.

On the bottom part, where the fold was, I cut each corner at a 45-degree angle.

Then it was time to stitch.  This project was messy, with little bits of moss coming off of the sheet.  So there was no way I was going to put this into my lovely little sewing machine.  I would stitch it by hand.

Because the grid that the moss is adhered to is somewhat loosely spaced, there wasn’t much for a thread to hold on to.  So I needed to use a fairly thick thread.  I used embroidery floss (in a mossy color) and a large needle.

And I found out the hard way that, for the stitches to hold, I would need to tie big, secure knots at the beginning and end of every run of stitches.  I double- and triple-knotted everything.

With this in mind, I simply stitched up the right and left sides of the pouch and left the top un-stitched.

At this point, it looked a little like a pocket.

Now it was time to turn it right-side-out.  Because the moss tended to shed from the sheet when disturbed, this had to be done very carefully.

Now I had a moss pouch with a landscape fabric inner lining.  It was not yet ready to stand on its own, but I had a solution.

I folded the top of the pouch (approximately an inch of it) inwards all around the opening.

And then I stitched four evenly-spaced pleats into the top.

 

Simple inward-facing pleats in four locations

This was to make sure the top would stay folded inward, and it would make the pouch more likely to stand on its own.  It also gave the pouch a cute little inward curve at the top – while still providing room to place the plant and soil inside.

I coaxed and manipulated the bottom of the pouch a bit, and it was almost standing on its own – but not quite.

So I tried the simplest thing I could think of:  I placed a generous handful of decorative pebbles inside.  This weighted the bottom of the pouch enough to solve the problem.

Then I just carefully packed in some pre-moistened potting soil mix and planted a cute little Himalayan maidenhair fern and few birch twigs.  All done!

DIY moss pouch planted with a Himalayan maidenhair fern

 

At this point, with the added pre-moistened soil, the pouch was fairly stout and heavy – and it was standing on its own very well.  Still, I probably wouldn’t trust having it around rambunctious kids or pets.  Nor would I plant it with a large, top-heavy plant.

Now, it’s worth mentioning again this these moss pouches are not watertight.  When the plant is watered, the bottom leaks, so I placed them on a saucer.

 

 

I’d made several attempts at these pouches before I came up with this simple design.  So I put my earlier prototypes to good use.

I used one of them as a vase wrap:  I placed a little spike frog inside a baby food jar, added water, and placed it inside the moss pouch.  Then I added tiny cut daffodils and some twigs.

And this all went into a cute little cage I’d found recently at a thrift store.

DIY moss pouch in a decorative cage

 

The Result

I love how unstructured and natural these moss pouches look.  It’s fun to combine them with a few home decor pieces for an interesting mix of nature and refinement.

 

They will be nice for St. Patrick’s Day and then they’ll make an easy transition into Easter decor.

My smallest DIY moss pouch holds a Lemon cypress cutting and sits in a vintage dessert bowl

 

 

 

DIY moss pouch planted with a small cyclamen

 

They would also be cute as gifts or to use in the garden.

 

With the right plants and decor, I could see these moss pouches looking good in just about any season.

But how long will they hold up and actually look good? That I don’t know yet, but we will see.  One reader suggests misting the sheet moss daily to keep it green.  That makes sense and is certainly worth a try!

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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7 Upcycle Projects That Helped Me Get Organized

I love working on upcycle projects because they breathe new life into objects that might otherwise end up in the landfill.  I also love getting organized.  So, when an upcycle project actually helps me get organized, I know it’s a winner.

If you’ve been visiting my blog for a while, you probably know about my most recent upcycle project – where my husband and I took an old dresser and two salvage shop kitchen cabinets and turned them into built-ins for my dressing room.

Those built-ins made it easy to organize that room.

So today I’m rummaging through the attic of this blog and pulling out some of my older posts about upcycle projects that helped me get organized.

Before we start, I must warn you that some of my early photography was pretty horrendous.  But I’m going to show you anyway.

Okay, let’s see . . . ah, here’s a good one to start with.

1.  DIY Shoe Storage Upgrade

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We took a small bookshelf and converted it into much-needed shoe storage for our mudroom.

A small bookshelf converted to shoe storage

 

2. A Vintage-Inspired Laundry Hamper From An Old Lamp Shade

This laundry hamper project required a little sewing, but if was fun and easy.

A vintage-inspired laundry hamper made with the frame of an old lamp shade

This hamper now sits in our recently-remodeled laundry room.

3.  Jewelry Organizers From Old Frames

This idea has been around for a long time.  But these jewelry organizers were fun to make – and they were a great way to use my vintage button collection.

Jewelry organizers made with upcycled frames

 

 

4.  A New Life For An Old Trailer Sink

In this project, we repurposed an old trailer sink into a much-needed potting bench sink for my greenhouse.

An old trailer sink gets a new home in this potting bench.

It has a water source and a very simple and practical way to drain.

Having this sink really helps me keep the greenhouse in order, and I use it all the time.

5.  An Old Stereo Cabinet Converted To A Liquor Cabinet

My husband, Chris, did this elegant conversion.  I always admire his attention to detail.

An Old Stereo Cabinet Converted To a Liquor Cabinet

Now there is a handy place for everything.

 

6.  A Chalkboard From An Old Cabinet Door

We simply couldn’t chuck this cute old cabinet door that was original to our house, so I turned it into a chalkboard for our kitchen.  We use it every day to keep track of our grocery needs.

This post also talks about a couple of mystery chambers that we found during our laundry room remodel.  Old houses hold many secrets!

7.  Kitchen Storage With A Vintage Twist

I still can’t believe that I found this vintage cabinet for only $5 at a garage sale.  Sprucing it up and tucking it into an underused kitchen corner helped me get my serveware organized.

 

 

Thanks for helping me sort through my blog’s attic today.  My plan is to continue to organize the attic, so I’ll be posting more roundups from time to time.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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Easy-Peasy Tulips In A Champagne Bucket

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember my elevated tulips floral arrangement from last year.

Tulips arranged on a cake stand

It sat on a cake stand and actually looked a little like a cake.

I love working with tulips when they are in season because they are so beautiful and affordable.  Recently, I stumbled upon a 24-stem bunch at Trader Joe’s.

So many tulips!  I decided to fill my champagne bucket with some of them in an arrangement that uses many of the same materials as the elevated tulips arrangement did – but is even simpler to put together.

 

The Materials

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I use my thrift store champagne bucket for floral arrangements all the time.  Champagne buckets make any flower or stem look so elegant.  I grew paperwhites in mine this past Christmas.

The bucket is 10 inches tall – too tall for me to just plop the tulips into.  So I would need a shallow bowl with a flat bottom that was just the right diameter to fit inside the ice bucket – near the top.  Luckily I had one.

I also needed a few decorative stones, some spike flower frogs, and my live Spanish moss.

Materials for easy-peasy tulips in a champagne bucket

 

The Method

I put the decorative stones in the bottom of the champagne bucket to weigh it down.  Now the arrangement wouldn’t be top heavy.

Then I the cut the tulips to the length I wanted them and put them on a few spike flower frogs.  I used about 11 of the tulips in this arrangement.

tulips on spike flower frogs

I set the shallow bowl inside the bucket and filled it with water.

Making easy-peasy tulips in a champagne bucket

And I carefully placed the flower frogs with tulips inside the shallow bowl.

making easy-peasy tulips in a champagne bucket

Now I just needed to conceal the bowl.  I used my live Spanish moss to give the arrangement a cute “scarf.” Live Spanish moss is an air plant, and it should appreciate the evaporated water that will come up from the shallow bowl.

Dry Spanish moss would probably also have worked for this arrangement.

champagne bucket centerpiece

All done!

The Result

Since tulips keep growing after they are cut, my arrangement got a bit leggy after a few days.

But actually that gave it a dramatic flair.

champagne bucket centerpiece

More Easy-Peasy Stuff

Recently we hosted a little birthday dinner for my mom, Erika. So, I needed a centerpiece, a cake, and a gift.  I wanted to get all fancy, but my inner voice kept warning me to “Keep it simple.”

The Centerpiece

This vintage fan vase makes arranging flowers so easy.

tulips in a vintage fan vase

There are so many fun vintage fan vases out there.  I am always tempted to add more to my vase collection.

The Cake

I made this super-easy fruit-topped almond cake.  It didn’t quite turn out looking like the photo in the recipe, but it was close.

fruit-topped almond cake

Next time I’ll use an 8-inch cake tin instead of a 9-inch so that the cake is taller.

 

The Gift

I wanted to give Mom an exotic plant to grow in her sunroom.  I was fascinated with the tree ferns I saw on our recent trip to Hawaii, but I could not find any locally.

Luckily I found a young Tasmanian Tree Fern Dicksonia antarctica at SevenTropical on Etsy.  It was surprisingly affordable, it arrived quickly, and it was a healthy plant.

And I found a hand-painted Farval overpot for it.

A young Tasmanian Tree Fern (Tasmanian Tree Fern Dicksonia antarctica) in a Farval overpot

I only wish the plant had come with care instructions.  (And maybe it did and I overlooked them.)  But that is easy to Google.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

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5 Ways To Bring the Tropics Into Home Decor

Rain, rain, rain. Around here, this is a gloomy time of the year.  The holidays have passed, and the days are short, gray, and soggy.  But my husband and I were very lucky to escape to Hawaii for much of January. 

And I came back with my head filled with the colors of the tropics,

A hibiscus in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

 

The lush, exuberant plants that seem almost unreal,

An island in Lily Pond, Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawaii

 

And all those rich natural textures.

Canoe hut at Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, Hawaii

 

It was raining when we left for Hawaii, and it’s pretty much been raining since we got back. So I’m looking at ways to bring some of that tropical cheer into our home. 

Of course, many of us are already bringing the tropics into our homes simply by having tropical house plants.

Tropical plants and succulents share space in Erika’s sunroom

 

But there are many other ways to infuse the tropics into home decor. It all begins with . . . 

Striking the Right Balance

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Tropical décor does have a potential downside:  It’s all too easy to go overboard and wind up with something that looks overdone and a bit cliché – especially for the winter months.  The last thing I want is a living room with a “tacky tourist” look.

But if done right, it can be elegant, timeless, and airy.  Here are five things to consider when bringing the tropics into home décor.

1.  Choose a Limited Color Palette

Limiting the color palette can keep a tropical look tasteful. 

A tropical pattern adds playfulness to the classic blue-and-white color scheme of this tablecloth from The Roostery.

 

And it’s hard to go wrong with green and white.  I love this tropical leaf linen table runner from Mezalova Textile.

 

Using a limited color palette also helps when you want to go bigger and bolder, as with this Tropical  Leaves peel-and-stick wallpaper from DecoWorks.

Keeping the room’s accessories and colors to a minimum, as done here, helps balance the strong wall pattern.

2.  Use More Texture And Less Color

With the right accessories, rattan has the ability to blend into almost any décor.  I love all the texture in this room – and the luxurious, monochromatic look of the accessories on this rattan daybed  from The Wicked Boheme.

3.  Use Classic or Vintage-Inspired Botanical Prints

Vintage botanical prints always make me think of adventure, romance, and far-away places. I love the classic look of this Vintage Schumacher fabric from Melba Fabrics.

4.  Give Traditional Furniture a Tropical Update

Giving one well-chosen piece of accent furniture a tropical makeover can elevate a room.  A lovely example is this traditional armchair, which has been covered with this tropical palms/monkey cotton fabric from Exquisite Fabrics 2015.

5.  Feed the Senses

 Scented candles, like this plumeria candle from Olive Branch Organics, can also fill a room with a delicious tropical vibe. 

 

And so can tropical island music.

And then it won’t matter if it’s still raining outside.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Featured image courtesy of The Wicked Boheme.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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Questions to Ask Your Builder Before Your House Build Begins

I’d love to build my own home some day, but I imagine that finding a builder that I could trust and be comfortable with would be one of the toughest aspects.

I would definitely interview at least three builders – and no doubt pepper them with dozens of questions.  And today’s guest post, below, has a few of the questions I would be asking.

The following is a contributed post.  For more information on my contributed posts, please click here.

Questions to Ask Your Builder Before Your House Build Begins

You’ve been dreaming, and planning, planning and dreaming, and your house building plans are coming along nicely at last. You’ve got everything that you think you need from your plans, and the next stage is to find someone to take those plans off the paper and make something out of them.

Building a house is a daunting task. The idea of someone taking the dream you have and making it a reality is scary – mainly because you have to trust the builder that you pick!  It would help if you asked specific questions of your builder to make sure that you have selected the right one.

Before any building starts, you need to know how long building permits last, and you need to know that your builder is the right one for you.

With that in mind, here are a few questions you should be asking any builder you potentially want to hire. 

Question 1: How Long Have You Been Building?

It would help if you interviewed your builder as you would anyone else. You’re making an important decision, and this means that you need a builder with the right reputation. You need to know how many houses they’ve built and the price range, whether they’ve had any complaints. You want someone with a good reputation that knows what they’re doing.

Question 2: What Type Of Home Do You Build?

You need to choose a builder who is experienced in building the same type of home that you have planned. You want to make sure that you are getting what you pay for, and you need to ask so that you have the best possible fit.

Question 3: What Makes You Different?

You need to ask your builder what it is that sets them apart. There are a LOT of builders out there in the industry, and you need to make sure that you have the right one. Ask about their achievements and what their track record for success is.

Question 4: What About Permits?

Are you responsible for the permits and how long do building permits last? Depending on the build, you need to think about your zoning boards and the other organizations that have various requirements. It would help if you also asked whether your builder can be responsible for those permits or if you have to be. It’s essential to get this right!

Question 5: Do You Have References?

It’s important to read any online references and reviews about your builder, but you should also ask your builder to provide you with references.  They’ll be obliged to give you names of those who they have built for before.  Always triple check references; you won’t regret ensuring that your builder is the right one for your home build.

Asking the right questions will go a long way towards ensuring that your house build goes off without a hitch.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series

Our Master Bath Remodel Series

Entertaining

My Dressing Room Remodel

Dan’s Workshop

Decorating and Holidays

Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse

Floral Design

Garden Design

The June Bug Diaries

Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

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Creating DIY Built-Ins Using Repurposed Pieces

I’ve had a few readers ask me about the little bank of built-in cabinets that Chris and I created for the south wall of my dressing room.

So today I’m sharing how we transformed an old dresser and two salvaged kitchen cabinets into custom built-in storage.

 

Our DIY built-ins for the dressing room south wall.

 

The Space

The dressing room is a quirky, kind-of-boot-shaped room.  The south wall space, where we installed the built-ins, is to the left in this sketch.

The Goal

We didn’t want the built-ins to look new but rather to look original to our circa 1927 house. We would be looking to use pieces with inset drawers and single-panel doors to match the existing original cabinetry in our home.

The Challenges

The space presented several challenges.  For starters, it was narrow – less than four feet wide.  There was also a sloped ceiling and a pocket window to work around.

Finding the Right Pieces

We chose to use a vintage dresser that we’d been storing for years.  It has inset drawers – exactly like the inset drawers in our original built-ins.

At some point in the dresser’s life, someone had removed its legs. This actually worked well for creating the built-in look that we wanted.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a “before” photo of the dresser with the drawers in place.  The drawers were outside being painted when the photo above was taken.

The dresser would be placed against the west wall and under the window.

Now we needed something to fit in the space next to the dresser.  And, since that “something” wouldn’t be blocking the window, it could be taller than the dresser.

I knew that finding the right thing for the space would be tricky, if not impossible.  I briefly considered buying some open cubbies from a big box store because they were inexpensive and measured out well for the space.

But the cubbies were out of stock.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  Little did I know that something better was just around the corner.

A trip to the salvage shop netted these Shaker-style cabinets – one base cabinet and one wall cabinet.

Measuring about 12 inches wide, they would be narrow enough to fit next to the dresser.  And they were in fairly good shape.  I liked these cabinets because of their single-panel doors – another design feature that I was looking for to match our original cabinetry.

 

Putting the Pieces Together

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Once we got home from the salvage shop, Chris removed the granite countertop from the base cabinet.

And I removed the cabinet pulls and started scrubbing, sanding, spackling, priming, and painting.

I painted all the pieces – the kitchen cabinets and the dresser – with Benjamin Moore’s cabinet-grade paint in Simply White. (I had also painted the walls and moldings with Simply White.  Since the room is so tiny and has only one small window, I wanted everything in the room to have the same light, neutral color.)

Now we faced another challenge:  In order for the pieces to fit snugly against the walls and truly look built-in, we needed to remove some of the baseboard molding from the area where they would be placed.

For this, Chris used his Ryobi multi tool.  I wish I could to say that this went well, but actually we wound up losing a small chunk of wall plaster in the process.  Luckily, the cabinetry covers the damaged area.

At least now everything would fit.

Some of the baseboard was removed to accommodate the built-ins.

Chris cut a new presswood countertop for the base cabinet.

And I painted it with the same paint I’d used on the cabinets.

We stacked the wall cabinet on top of the base cabinet and then, using screws, Chris anchored the pieces to the wall and to one other.

 

Now You See It, Now You Don’t

There were small gaps and seams between the pieces, but we made them disappear.

Chris cut and installed pieces of molding to fit over the gaps.

And then I caulked the seams around the molding using paintable caulk.  Once the caulk dried, I touched up the areas with the cabinet paint.

Now it was looking good! Painting everything one color minimized the varying heights and depths of the three pieces and tied the look together.

Final Touches

I covered the top of the base cabinet and the top of the dresser with this polyurethane finish.  It will protect the surface better than paint alone would, and it will make it easier for me to clean up my inevitable coffee spills.

I’d painted the drawers of the dresser, cleaned the interiors, and lined them with a pretty retro-floral shelf paper.

And we replaced all the cabinet and drawer pulls with glass knobs to match the other pulls in the room and throughout the house.

Now I’m looking very 1920s!

The Result

This was a budget-friendly little project, and I love how it turned out.

Before the remodel, the space was cluttered and claustrophobic.

South wall before.

During the remodel, the empty space looked even more narrow.

South wall during remodel.

But now, with the new cabinets, the area seems larger.  

South wall after remodel.

If you’re wondering about the stenciled floor (a real labor of love – emphasis on the labor part), check out this post.

And, to see how I organized these built-ins, as well as other parts of this dressing room, check out this post.

This south wall built-in installation was part of a larger remodel of the entire dressing room.  To read about the entire remodel, check out this post.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

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Organizing My New Dressing Room

Happy New Year, dear readers, and welcome to a new decade.  I  can’t believe we’ve entered the 2020’s!

Thanks to having participated in the One Room Challenge last fall, a six-week challenge during which Chris and I completely remodeled my little dressing room, I can at least say that I’m starting this new decade with a neatly organized wardrobe.

And while I certainly can’t claim to be an organizing guru, I did pick up a little inspiration from tidying expert Marie Kondo.  My takeaway:  Think vertical.  So here, I’m sharing some of the simple ways I organized my clothes and jewelry as I moved them back into my newly revamped dressing room.

 

Starting with A Clean Slate

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Before I started organizing, I donated all of my clothes to charity, and then I went out and bought a brand new wardrobe to go with my new dressing room!

Wait, no.  That was just a dream.

Actually, when the dressing room remodel was in its final stages, I began to do laundry – lots of it.  Although most of my clothes were already clean, I washed every piece that was going back into that room.  I just wanted everything to be fresh.

This process helped me take stock of exactly what I had in my wardrobe.

I lined the dresser drawers with a cheerful retro floral shelf paper.

And I tossed a charcoal air freshener into each drawer.

Then it was finally time to start organizing.

 

Ombre Denim

We put a lot of thought, but not a lot of money, into this dressing room remodel.  I love the south wall “built-ins” that we created by combining two salvage-shop kitchen cabinets and an old dresser.

Dressing room remodel

These new built-ins are intended to look original to our 1920’s house.  They frame a small window and work well with the sloped ceiling.

I was looking forward to using this upper cabinet for purses.

Vertical walk in closet storage

But then I realized it was suited to a more practical use: Denim.  I have way too many pairs of jeans, but I wear them all.

organizing jeans

In my new vertical cabinet, the jeans are stacked on top of one another.  But, unlike being stacked in a dresser drawer, they are all visible.  And they are organized by color and saturation.

organizing jeans

I fold them so that the pockets are always on top.  Since many brands of jeans have distinctive pocket stitching, I can quickly find the pair I want to wear.

 

Vertical Sweaters and T-Shirts

My sweaters and T-shirts are folded and placed neatly into drawers in the large wardrobe on the north wall.

But they are positioned vertically, as Marie Kondo suggests.  So, just like with my jeans, I can quickly see what I have.  Now nothing gets buried and forgotten.

organizing shirts

I use a charcoal air freshener as a spacer when I remove a shirt.  This keeps the other shirts neatly in place.

A charcoal air freshener, used as a spacer, keeps the vertically positioned shirts in place when one is removed.

I use expandable drawer dividers to define separate spaces for long-sleeve T-shirts, short-sleeve T-shirts, and tank tops – and for creating zones inside of drawers for things like purses and scarves.

Drawer organization

Velvet Hangers

I love the look of vintage wooden clothes hangers, and I use them on the open clothing rod on the north wall.  After all, I want this room to make me happy – not just be functional.  I love the look of this rustic pipe rod with the vintage hangers.

Vintage inspired clothing rod

But, in the enclosed hanging space inside the large wardrobe, I use space-saving velvet hangers similar to these.  I was a little skeptical about them at first, but to me it seems that they really do save space.

The velvet makes them grippy (sometimes almost too grippy), so clothes don’t slide off.

clothes on velvet hangers

And I love that these clothes are in an enclosed wardrobe.

wardrobe

I wanted a lot of enclosed storage in the dressing room because, before, the room always looked cluttered.  And all that clutter tended to gather dust.

Vertical Necklace Storage

Another enclosed storage area is this little vintage cabinet that we retrofitted into the northeast corner.

Vintage leaded glass cabinet

In it, Chris installed dozens of hooks for hanging necklaces.

organizing necklaces

Now, necklaces don’t get tangled, and it’s easy to see what I have. The shelf is also a good spot for the earring organizer I made a few years ago when I was going through my vintage button obsession.

A Victorian-era butter dish, so rustic that it’s silver plate is wearing off, holds a couple of fun vintage treasures inside.

Victorian butter dish

 

Vintage pins
Vintage pins.

On the shelf below, stackable jewelry trays similar to these hold other pieces of jewelry.

stackable jewelry trays

I just love that this room feels more airy and spacious than it did before the remodel, even though it holds the same amount of stuff.

Now if only the rest of my house was this organized!

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.