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

This post contains affiliate links.  For more information, please see my Affiliate Disclosure page.

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!

 

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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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:

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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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!

 

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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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

 

Exploring

ORC Week 6: Dressing Room Remodel – The Final Reveal

We’re here at last:  The big “ta-da” moment in our One Room Challenge® adventure! For five weeks, my husband Chris and I have been remodeling my small and quirky dressing room, and I’ve been posting weekly updates.  And it’s all come down to this:  The final reveal!

Thanks to Linda of Calling It Home for hosting this event, and to Better Homes and Gardens, media sponsor of this challenge.

In case you missed them, here are links to my previous posts:

Project Recap

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.  For more information on my affiliate links, please see my affiliate disclosure page.

The Space

My little dressing room, located on the second floor, measures roughly 70 square feet.  And those square feet are very oddly shaped.

In addition to the odd shape, this room also has a sloping ceiling that follows the roofline along the east side.  It has two doors:  An entry door and a door leading to an unfinished attic space.

Design Goals

Our house was built in 1927 so, although we don’t want the house to look like a shrine to the 1920s, we always want new work – cabinetry, hardware, doors, and moldings – to blend seamlessly with the existing design features of the house.

I feel that the house’s original design features are easy on the eyes.  They’re simple and clean – yet charming.  And they’ve stood the test of time.  So I would rather use those design features than a trend that will look dated in a few years anyway.

Clutter Busting

You’ll see that the little dressing room was a claustrophobic and cluttered mess.  I wanted the redesign to include ample storage yet feel spacious.

Color

The room is small and has a sloped ceiling, so I decided to use one paint color on every surface, including that sloped ceiling, all the moldings, and all the cabinetry that we added.

The goal was for the room to be brighter, more elegant, more cohesive – and for that sloped ceiling to feel less oppressive.  I opted for good old “Simply White” by Benjamin Moore.

Budget

Since what we were remodeling was basically a closet, we challenged ourselves to keep the budget tight.  So, a challenge within a challenge!  We had lots of fun with this.  We sourced cabinetry pieces through Craigslist, salvage shops, and our own basement storage.  We always look to repurpose items instead of buying new when we can anyway – not only to save money but also because it’s an earth-friendly alternative.

The total expenditure (outlined in detail last week) was under $900 U.S.

Let’s start the tour!

Dressing Room Tour

Won’t you come in.

The North Wall

North wall after

Before the remodel, the north wall looked like this.

North wall before

I’d brought in a portable garment rack because there was not enough rod space in the room to hang my clothes.  A patched-together assortment of old dressers, shoe boxes, and racks made for a cluttered look that scratched away at my psyche every time I entered the room.  And there was a lot of vertical wall space going to waste here.

Now I have the enclosed wardrobe space.

Plus, for longer items, the new garment rod we installed over a shoe bench.

The new garment rod, which adds a much-needed rustic touch to the room, is made of authentic industrial pipe.

We did away with the worn carpet in the room, but failed in our attempt to daylight the original fir floor, which is buried under mid century linoleum.

Instead, we covered the whole mess with a plywood underlayment, and then I painted, stenciled, and protected the plywood with a finish.

I love all the space that I have in the large wardrobe, which we purchased from a private seller on Craigslist and then refurbished.  It’s a perfect width for the alcove space.  Above the wardrobe, baskets will hold things I rarely use – like ski gear and travel accessories.

In the northeast corner, we added a vintage leaded glass cabinet, which we rehabbed and then put on these turned legs so that it would be tall enough to clear the baseboard and fit snugly in the corner.

Years ago, we bought two of these cabinets at a garage sale for $5 apiece.  This cabinet’s mirror-image twin currently lives in our kitchen.

My vintage dolls and other little items were collecting dust in this room, and one of my goals for the remodel was to find a place where they could be displayed but protected from dust.  I also wanted a better system for organizing my jewelry.

The vintage cabinet meets both needs.  We added hooks to make necklaces easy to sort and find.

And all my little vintage items that used to drive me crazy have a home now.

I love how the north wall turned out.  It’s fun, it has character, yet it’s calm and uncluttered – a far cry from the chaos I had going on before.

Northeast wall before

Looking at these before photos again, it’s surprising to me how much larger this wall space looks now.

North wall after

 

 

 

We did keep the light fixture that was already in the room.  It was a recent upgrade – a vintage milk glass light.

The East Wall

The ceiling slopes all along the east wall.  There is a short door that leads to an attic space.  It’s a cheap, hollow-core door that is not original to the house.  It had a 1970s-era knob, flimsy hinges, and was framed in with tragically cheap molding.  Its only redeeming quality was the beveled dressing mirror.  Otherwise, it was very sad.

East wall before

Since the door is a custom size, Chris decided to rehab it instead of having a new one made.

He added 1920s moldings that he’d saved from another project, and he added vintage hardware that we already had on hand – including a petite vintage glass door knob that would fit well on this petite door.

He made this cheap hollow-core door look original to our house – all without spending a cent.

On the east wall, we turn to face the south wall.

The South Wall

The south wall is a strange part of the room that is not even four feet wide.  It’s a long, narrow alcove that felt even narrower because of where I had placed the tall dresser.

Southeast wall before

It was no fun trying to get anything out of these drawers.  And, as you can see, this is where the carpeting stopped and an area rug took over.  Pretty classy!

Here is the area now.

Southeast wall after

Since the overhead light is near the north wall, this part of the room was dark at night, so our one splurge for the room was to buy a 1920s-era sconce light, which had been professionally restored, from a salvage shop.

Restored 1920s sconce light

Up until yesterday, we were still working on this part of the room.  I decided at the last minute that a chair was needed here, but it would have to be very petite.

I had this little bentwood chair kicking around in our basement.  But of course it needed work, and I was still putting the final touches on my “ebonized” finish for it yesterday morning.  And the faux fur seat cover arrived just in time.

At the same salvage shop where we found the sconce light, we found two narrow kitchen cabinets that, rehabbed and put together with an old dresser from our basement, would work nicely for the space around the window.

 

 

Where these kitchen cabinets once held canned goods, they now will hold sweaters – or maybe handbags.

And the old dresser, with its inset drawers, looks identical to the original built-in cabinetry in our home.  For a detailed account of how we installed these built-ins, please see this post.

 

We added glass cabinet knobs to all the pieces to match the cabinet hardware throughout the house.

And I lined all the shelves and drawers in this south wall installation with a retro-floral shelf paper that I just love.

It was easy to reposition – unlike some other shelf papers that I would end up wadding and throwing away in frustration.

So you might be wondering if I forgot to add wall art.  But actually I love this uncluttered look so much that I have no desire to hang anything on these soothing white walls.  I might change my mind at some point, but right now I can almost feel my blood pressure drop when I walk into this room.

For a detailed account of how I organized this dressing room, please see this post.

Just Lucky

Seems some home improvement projects are difficult from the get-go.  But with other projects, things just fall into place.  With this project, I was lucky.

Lucky because the floor stencil measured out so perfectly for the room dimensions.

Lucky because we found, or already had on hand, cabinetry pieces that fit so well into the strange little spaces that we were working with.

But most of all lucky because Chris so good-naturedly embarked on this challenge with me.

Without his mad DIY skills and his honest, informed opinions, this project would never have gotten off the ground.

More To Come

After the holiday season, I’ll be sharing more about the revamp of the little bentwood chair, details about the door rehab, and how we made two kitchen cabinets and an old dresser look like built-ins.

Visit The Other Challenge Participants

This six-week challenge has been intense for both of us.  But it’s also been very rewarding.  Thanks to everyone who offered encouragement along the way.  It made a world of difference!

I can’t wait to check out the other final reveals happening through the One Room Challenge.  Participant reveals can be found here.

Sources

Icarus Tile Floor Stencil
Wardrobe:  Private seller via Craigslist
Vintage Sconce Light:  Second Use
Salvaged Kitchen Cabinets:   Second Use
Shoe Rack:  Target
Glass Cabinet Knobs:  House of Antique Hardware
Yifely Retro Floral Self-Adhesive Shelf Paper
Pipe Decor Dual Flange Style Garment Rack
Legs for Leaded Glass Cabinet:  BingLTD “Pauline” Sofa Legs
Junovo Premium Faux Fur Sheepskin Seat Cushion Chair Cover

The baskets above the wardrobe were a Marshall’s find, but similar covered baskets can be found here.

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 Shop

Dan’s Workshop

Decorating and Holidays

Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse

Floral Design

Garden Design

The June Bug Diaries

Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 


Kitchen Storage with a Vintage Twist

Today  I’m sharing a fun little organizing project that I’m very happy with.  I always love it when wasted space finally gets put to good use.  And this time, it was . . . 

An Underutilized Kitchen Corner

Although we remodeled our kitchen several years ago, there is one space that we could have done a better job of thinking through:  The bland, empty corner where the cabinetry ends on the north wall.

The heat register, the light switch, and the traffic flow from the kitchen to the hallway all made this corner a bit challenging to plan.  At the time of our remodel, we had so many other decisions to make that we didn’t give it proper attention.

It became a feeding station for our cats – which actually was great since, for the most part, it kept our little darlings away from the food prep area.  But now our only cat is the lovely Priscilla, and she prefers to eat her meals upstairs.

 

 

I was thrilled at her choice because I could finally do something more with this underappreciated corner.  But what? Since shelving wouldn’t block the heat register, I was considering attaching shelves, or maybe a floating bookcase, to the pantry cabinet on the left.

I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.

But Wait – A Better Idea?

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.

Around the same time, Chris started asking me when I was going to do something, anything, with the vintage cabinets that I’d had in our garage for the past couple of years.

Salvaged fir built-ins.

We’d picked these two cabinets up at a garage sale for $5 apiece.  Since each cabinet only has two “good,” finished sides (the front and one side), my assumption is that they were actually built-ins that had been pulled out of an old house.

The flush-mount cabinet doors, the glass knobs, and the leaded glass fronts, are all similar to the original dining room cabinetry in our house – which was built in the 1920s.

So to me, buying the cabinets was a no-brainer.

I just had no idea what we were going to do with them.  There didn’t seem to be any good place to put them if we were going to keep them together.

 

 

With Chris wanting his garage space back, and with the cat bowls gone, it finally clicked.  I took measurements and, sure enough, one of those vintage cabinets (the one with its “good side” on the right) would fit in that blank kitchen corner without obstructing the light switch – if we put legs on it so that it would clear the heat register.

But that old cabinet would need a lot more than just legs.

Paint or Finish?

I originally wanted to paint the cabinet the same white as our kitchen cabinets.  But then I noticed that it had been painted – and someone had gone through the painstaking work of stripping the paint and sanding it.

And the wood was fir – like our floors.  Since someone else had already done all the hard work, I decided to apply a finish to the exterior and paint only the interior.

(I went ahead and worked on both cabinets at once – even though my plans for the second cabinet are still in flux.)

 

A Danish Oil Finish

For the exterior, I used Watco Danish Oil in Natural.  It can be applied with a rag, which I find so much easier than using a paint brush – at least on non-ornate surfaces.

Danish oil is not like Polyurethane, and I found this post that explains the differences.  And this post has helpful tips on the proper method of application – which I followed – as well as the proper way to handle application rags since – yikes! –  a wadded-up oil-soaked rag could possibly combust!

Applying the oil with a rag was easy, but the wood was very thirsty.  I probably applied 10 layers of the oil over the course of several days.

Cabinet doors prepped for finish.

Prime and Paint

I painted the interior with three coats of primer and two coats of white paint.

Cabinets after three coats of primer.

For smaller flat surfaces like this, I prefer to use a Shur-Line paint edger instead of a roller because it gives me a smooth, even finish.  Then I use a small paint brush for the hard-to-reach areas.

The white paint is a custom blend that matches our kitchen cabinets and is the same paint I used on the walls for our laundry room remodel.

Stencil!

Finally the fun part:  A stencil!  I just wanted a simple accent and, since I couldn’t find a stencil I liked, I used one I’ve had on hand for years.

I practiced a little and experimented with color combinations.

But in the end I kept it simple with a Navy Blue by FolkArt and a little dot of Tuscan Red by Americana.

Legs

Now the cabinet needed legs.  Chris and I looked online.  We visited big box stores and specialty lumber stores.  But we wound up buying these legs on Amazon.

Legs with the first coat of Danish oil drying.

They were unfinished, so I applied countless coats of Danish oil on them as well.

Now it was time for Chris to get to work.

He attached the legs to the cabinet.

To give the piece character, Chris made sure the knot in one of the legs was placed so that it would be visible.

And then, because we live in earthquake country, he secured the cabinet to our built-in pantry.

Refurbished fir cabinet.

The Result

I moved the Fiestaware that my Mom gave me for Christmas, and many of our other blue-and-white serving pieces, into the cabinet.  This is where our fun, casual, and colorful pieces live now.

Refurbished fir cabinet with vintage serving pieces.

The cabinet is recessed enough so that it doesn’t impede traffic flow from the kitchen to the hallway.

Refurbished fir cabinet.

And it adds charm.

Refurbished fir cabinet as kitchen storage.

I’m glad I kept the wood exterior.  It works well with the floor and the built-in hutch’s wooden countertop.

Refurbished fir cabinet as kitchen storage.

 

 

Vintage serving pieces in a refurbished fir cabinet.

Adding this little fir cabinet has caused a happy chain reaction:  There is now more space in all of our overhead kitchen cabinets.

And I even reclaimed some countertop space on the hutch – enough for a snazzy new coffee station.

As for that second vintage cabinet, I found the perfect spot for it in my newly remodeled dressing room!

 

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

 

Thanks for stopping by and, while you’re here, hop over and check out my brother’s fun DIY garage rebuild.  I’m so proud of his work!

In Other News

I love to support artists, and I buy vintage instead of new whenever I can.  That’s why I’ve always been proud to be an Etsy affiliate.

But now I have another reason to love Etsy:  It has become the first online retailer to offset 100% of their carbon emissions from shipping. That’s amazing.  Let the guilt-free shopping begin!

I hope other online retailers follow suit, but right now Etsy is leading the way.

 

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Our Laundry Room Reveal: Before and After Photos

It’s finally time!  Today I’m taking you on a tour of our completed laundry room remodel.

If you’re a regular visitor (hi, Mom), you know that this remodel has stretched on for months, and I’ve been writing posts as the project progressed.  If you’d like to get caught up on past posts about the remodel (which was done in conjunction with our mudroom refresh), here is the list:

And at the end of this post I’ve listed sources for, and information about, some of the products that we used in this remodel.

Let’s Begin!

The laundry room measures only 7′ X 7′, so our goal was to make the best use of the space without overloading the room.  The house was built in 1927, so I wanted the laundry room to be a mix of old world charm and modern efficiency.

Although my husband Chris and I came up with a detailed plan for the room, Chris did most of the actual work.  My brother Dan gave us the initial push we needed by brainstorming with us about how to bring the plan to reality.  Dan also helped to reroute and replace the plumbing – and later in this post you will see the beautiful built-in that he made for the room.

Okay, let’s walk in through the mudroom.

The North Wall

Now we’re inside, and this is what the north wall used to look like.

Laundry Room Remodel: Before
North wall before

I liked having a utility sink.  But there was very little surface space for folding clothes, and ironing in here was too much of a hassle because the only electrical outlet was up on the wall behind the appliances.  As for storage, there was a little recessed wall cabinet, but it was very difficult to access.  Things stored in there were quickly forgotten.

Here is how it looks now.

Laundry Room Remodel: After
North wall after

I think the space actually looks bigger now.

The appliances are 36″ tall, so the new sink base cabinet, which matches our kitchen cabinets, had to be customized to be taller than an ordinary base cabinet.

The quartz countertop had to be 38″ high – but that’s only about two inches higher than your typical kitchen countertop.

And it’s 33″ deep, which is almost 10″ deeper than a kitchen countertop.  So there is lots of space for folding clothes and doing other projects.

Of course, with the deeper countertop, the upper shelves are not easy for me to reach without a ladder or stool.  Our initial plan called for cabinets instead of shelves, but cabinets would have been just as difficult to access.  And any shelf or cabinet that we hung near the window could only be 8 inches deep or it would obstruct the window.

So the shelves hold things that we don’t need often – like shoe care supplies.

A basket of rags sits on a lower shelf within reach.

And the shelves are a fun way to display a few vintage items.

 

I enjoy the look of wood and wicker against the white paneled walls.

And no matter what time it is anywhere else, it’s always 2:00 in our laundry room.

Mid Century Sunburst Clock

Chris remembers this mid century clock from very early in his childhood.  Recently he brought it upstairs from the basement to repair it, and I stashed it in the laundry room to get it out of the way.  And here it stayed – the perfect round object to go in the middle of all the straight lines on the north wall.

Chris has a plan to get it running again, but either way I love the way it looks in this room.

Mid Century Sunburst Clock

I thought about finding some way to conceal the valve box, but I turn the valves on and off every time I do laundry.  So it’s fine.

We chose a stainless deep sink to use with a Delta faucet.

Stainless deep sink with Delta Leland faucet

The East Wall

In the northeast corner, we hung hooks for a couple of vintage coat hangers – one that we found inside the kitchen wall during our kitchen remodel (and that we later realized the original home owners must have brought with them from England).  The other belonged to my German grandfather.

Vintage Coathangers

This is what the east wall used to look like.

East wall before

The little area behind the door, only 14 inches deep, was a mess.

East wall before

And this is how it looks now.

East wall after

I came up with the idea of an L-shaped shelf above a tool rack.  Chris used a couple of leftover shelves and made it happen.

L-shaped shelf to hold cleaning supplies and tools.

[Note:  One reader was horrified to see the iron stored above eye level because, when removing it, the cord could drop and damage an eye – which is what happened to her.  So I thank her for altering us to this potential hazard!]

The portable space heater from the before photo isn’t needed anymore because Chris added ducting and a heat vent to the room.

Southeast corner after

And it all tucks neatly behind the door.

Originally I wanted a built-in ironing board, but then I realized that I was too in love with the new wall paneling.  I didn’t want a built-in ironing board to detract from the look.  So a tabletop ironing board hangs behind the door, and I just take it to the counter to use it.  This little downgrade saved us a few hundred dollars, and it’s probably just as easy to use as a built-in.

The South Wall

I didn’t get a before photo of the south wall, but this is how it looks now.  Not the best photo, but I had to climb up on the countertop to get it.

South wall after

The Southwest Corner and the West Wall

The southwest corner was a cluttery embarrassment.  Only close family members were allowed to see this.

Southwest corner before

(By the way, Chris is proud of me for getting both toilet plungers into the before photo.  Yeah, I really got my point across with this shot!)

There was a lot stored here.  I found new homes for the things that didn’t really belong in the laundry room.  And there would be some storage in the new sink base cabinet.

Still I knew we’d need more storage, and I wanted it to be easy to reach.  A rectangular- or square- shaped cabinet, placed in this corner, would eat up too much floor space – and ruin the flow.  We realized a corner cabinet would be perfect here.

Dan has built many cabinets for himself, so he offered to build us a corner cabinet – one that would match the sink base cabinet.

Southwest wall after with custom corner cabinet

The little top drawer is very convenient, and there is a surprising amount of storage here.  It works nicely in this corner, with the countertop fitting just below the window frame.

Above the corner cabinet is the expandable wall-mounted drying rack that we found on our recent trip back East.

Southwest corner after

I used a portable wooden drying rack for years.  It would collapse at unexpected times, and it was a pain to store.  I find myself using this wall-mounted rack all the time.

Wall-mounted drying rack

So this was the west wall before.

West wall before

And this is the west wall now.

West wall after

I went with inexpensive matchstick roller blinds for now, and I’m enjoying them.  But I may get something else for the windows in the future since these aren’t very easy to roll up and down.

The washer door clears the corner cabinet – barely.

West wall after

Air Space

Even air space counts in a room this small.  Between the two windows, we installed a stainless retractable clothesline.

Retractable clothesline

It stretches across the room, giving me seven feet of space to hang laundry.

It’s high enough not to strangle us when we walk in, yet low enough for me to use easily.  I love it since I have so many items that I would prefer to air dry.

The Light Fixture

With the windows, this room gets tons of natural light.  We did hang a vintage light that we had in storage.

Vintage light fixture

I guess I lied when I said this project was done.  This room still needs a small towel bar.  But we are very happy with the way it turned out.  It’s functional, it works hard for such a small room, yet it’s has a cheerful, airy vibe.  I love spending time in here – even if I am just folding clothes.

I hope you enjoyed the tour.  In case you’re interested, I’ve listed a few things below that are either the same as or similar to products we used in this remodel.

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


Sources

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used below.

Wall-Mounted Drying Rack

This Pennsylvania Woodworks expandable wall rack is very similar to ours, although it is unfinished wood, so it would need sanding and either finish or paint.

Stainless Deep Sink

This Enbol SD2318 23 Inch 16 Gauge Stainless Steel Sink is very similar to ours in size and quality.

Faucet

I actually won the Delta Leland faucet as a door prize when I attended the Blogpodium conference in Canada a few years ago.  Here is the information on this faucet.

It is also sold via Amazon.

Window Coverings

These Radiance Fruitwood Imperial Matchstick Bamboo Shades  are very similar to the ones we installed in the laundry room.  But as I mentioned above, ours are a little difficult to roll up and down. Their quality matches their modest price.  Still I love the way they look. They do let a lot of light in, which is what I wanted for the laundry room.  But of course that doesn’t work for every situation.

Retractable Clothesline

This KES Stainless Steel Retractable Clothesline is what we have in our laundry room.  And for the price, I am very pleased with the quality.

Shelves

Our shelves came from Home Decorators, but I believe that style has been discontinued.  This Home Decorators 23″ Classic Floating Wall Shelf is not exactly the same, but the dimensions are very similar.

Tabletop Ironing Board

This collapsible tabletop ironing board works just fine for me – especially considering the small amount of ironing that I actually do.


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Chalk it up to Mystery

In this post, I’m hoping to solve a mystery – and I’m sharing a fun little DIY decor project.

And the two are related.

Mysteries and Secrets

Our 1927 cottage has many mysteries and secrets.

For example, if you’ve been reading along for a while, you know that we’re in the middle of a laundry room remodel.  Well recently, while working on the heating system, my husband Chris found a secret chamber under the laundry room.  We’d always assumed the laundry room was set on a concrete slab.  Turns out it has its own little basement.

And this isn’t even the first secret chamber we’ve found.

But today I want to talk about the laundry room’s mystery cupboard.

The Mystery Cupboard

This is how our laundry room looked before we started the remodel.

Note the innocent-looking recessed cupboard above the washing machine.

Although lately, during the remodel, it’s been looking more like this.

Anyway, here is the inside of the cupboard. Pretty rustic.

Can’t see the top?  That’s because there isn’t one.  This cupboard goes all the way up to the unfinished attic.

So is it a laundry chute?  Probably not.  After all, who would want to climb far into the unfinished attic to deposit laundry only to have some of it land on that little shelf at the halfway point.

It also stretches to the left behind the wall for several feet, so it’s larger than it looks.

Its inconvenient location above the washing machine meant that I needed a stepladder to access it.  And since it’s recessed into the wall, I practically had to climb into the cabinet to get anything back out.  So I avoided using it.

My theory is that this is just oddly shaped extra space that the builder wanted to keep accessible in case anyone needed it.

But what do you think?  Do you know what it might be?  Help me solve this mystery!

Going Bye-Bye

Whatever this cupboard is or was, our plans for the laundry room do not include it.  No, it will be covered over in the remodel.  And if we should ever need to access the weird empty space behind the wall, we can still do so from the attic.

But I was sad.  That cupboard door was kind of cute.  It was also a piece of the house’s history – however weird that history might be.  I wanted to repurpose it.  But what should its new role be?

1920s cupboard door soon to become a chalkboard

A DIY Chalkboard

My friend Sandi is a very creative person, and she had a great idea: Turn it into a chalkboard.  At the time, Sandi didn’t even know that I’d been looking for a chalkboard for our kitchen. Perfect!

Cleaning the Hardware

It was a simple project.  We removed all the hardware pieces from the cupboard door and soaked them in acetone to remove the paint.

1920s cupboard door hardware

After that, the hardware pieces were clean but they still had a patina.  I was happy that they didn’t look brand new.

A Chalk Ledge

Chris cut and attached a piece of brick molding to the bottom of the door to serve as a chalk ledge.

Painting the Door

I sanded and cleaned the cupboard door.  I painted the frame, the edges, and the new chalk ledge with the same white trim paint we used for the kitchen.

After the paint dried, I used masking tape to ensure a nice clean profile for the chalkboard paint, which would go in the center panel.

DIY Chalkboard preparing to paint

I’d never worked with chalkboard paint before.  I used FolkArt Multisurface Chalkboard Paint by Plaid¹.  I followed the instructions on the bottle and on the Plaid website.  This included conditioning the chalkboard with chalk – something I will need to re-do from time to time.

To evenly apply the paint – which has a slightly gel-like consistency – I used a paint edger².  Then I back-brushed the paint with a paint brush.  (I have found that paint edgers come in handy for all kinds of paint applications beyond just edging.)

Reattaching the Hardware

Chris reattached the hardware, and the chalkboard was ready.

DIY Chalkboard

Now the hardware is just for character.

DIY Chalkboard

Chalkboard Central

This chalkboard was long overdue.  Since we shop for groceries at several stores and a farmers market, keeping lists of what we needed from each place was cluttery and difficult – especially since these lists often went missing.  Keeping lists on our phones didn’t work either.

But now, as soon as we realize we need something, it’s a few steps to “chalkboard central” to write it down.

DIY Chalkboard

I’ve been trying both chalk and chalk markers to see which I like better, but I’m not completely happy with either.  So I’m thinking of ordering some white chalk pencils I found on Etsy.³

DIY Chalkboard

I have found that wiping the chalkboard with a damp paper towel works better than using a chalk eraser.  We’ll see how all this holds up over time.

I’m happy now.  Not only is the little cupboard door still with us, but it’s serving an even better purpose than it did originally.

Before and After

You know how I love my before and after recaps.

Before (photographed upside-down).

After.

All posts on this blog are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements.


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A New Life for an Old Trailer Sink

This post contains Affiliate Links.  For more info, please see my Affiliate Disclosure page.

 

I must apologize in advance because this post zigzags all over the place.  But it’s all related to this tiny enameled sink that I discovered on my husband’s, workbench.

I wondered how long it had been sitting there escaping my attention and where such a small sink could have come from.

sink with damage to enamel
13X17 sink

Turns out it’s an old travel trailer sink that Chris got at a garage sale.  He said he might use it in our Airstream trailer – unless I wanted it for our greenhouse.

Boy did I want it for our greenhouse!  It would be perfect next to the soil basin.  After I potted plants, I could set them in the sink and water them and let them drain.  I could rinse my hands or wash off tools.

 

Why a Trailer Sink is so Appropriate

It’s funny that Chris started out wanting the sink for our 1966 Airstream but it wound up in our Sunglo greenhouse because the cute curved design of the greenhouse and its aluminum frame kind of remind me of our Airstream.  See what you think.

Airstream

Airstream
1966 Airstream Caravel

 

Greenhouse

Sunglo almost completed
Sunglo greenhouse during construction.

Do you see it too or is it just me?  I think they have a similar fun and timeless appeal.

Anyway, back to the sink.

Fitting the Sink

To install the sink, we would need to sacrifice part of one of the four 30″ X 30″  cedar sections that make up the potting bench.

Would that be the point of no return?  Not really.  If we didn’t like the sink, it would be pretty easy and affordable to get a replacement cedar section from Sunglo.

So Chris cut out some of the cedar slats to accommodate the 13″ X 17″ sink and added a center piece for support.  The sink is pretty lightweight as sinks go, so this additional support was all that was needed.

support on bench
The underside of the bench section with added center support and sink cut-out.

He touched up the damage to the sink’s enamel with an epoxy paint.  And then the sink was in.

sink finished and installed

Recycled Water For the Sink

The water for the sink comes from our underground cistern, which collects rainwater runoff from the garage roof.

Our underground cistern is something not found on many urban properties in our area.  It’s original to our 1927 house, which, in 1927, sat on a much larger lot that was situated in farm lands.  The cistern was probably for light agricultural use.

But with the baby boom, urban life expanded and consumed the farm lands.

And so the cistern was abandoned until we bought the house and Chris got it working again, an adventure I hope to write about soon.

Anyway, back to the greenhouse.

When the greenhouse was assembled last fall, Chris piped in a water source from the cistern.  He installed this little hose and nozzle on the north wall of the greenhouse which, since it’s a lean-to greenhouse, is also the south wall of our garage.

greenhouse hose
The little basket the hose sits in is a repurposed bicycle basket that I spray painted with Rust-Oleum Heirloom White.

A Good Triangle

The hose basket sits conveniently opposite the sink so, similar to a good kitchen design, I have a convenient triangle between the soil basin, the sink, and the hose.

sink basin and hose triangle
The hose basket is to the right in this photo, and the sink and soil basin are to the left.

The sink is very handy next to the soil basin.

sink and basin

It’s the perfect place to water plants after they are potted up.

plant in sink

A Low-Tech Drain

So we have a repurposed trailer sink and we are using recycled rainwater in it.  How are we handling the water that drains from the sink?  We are recycling it again.

Water going itno galvanized can

That’s right – the sink drains straight down into a large galvanized watering can.  And that water is used for other plants.

Trying This at Home

Like this idea but don’t have a greenhouse?  This sink setup could easily be done outside – installed in a potting bench near a garden hose.  Just remember to empty the watering can before it overflows.

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


 


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How to Make a Vintage-Inspired Laundry Hamper

Recently I was surfing the web, drooling over vintage and vintage-inspired wire laundry hampers, when it hit me:  I can make my own.

And I had just the right wire cage in my basement – an old lamp shade frame.

Why a Lamp Shade Frame?

While in the process of organizing my basement last fall, I came across two large, ancient lamp shades – the heavy-duty kind with thick wire frames between the fabric.

Old lamp shade similar to the ones I found

The linings inside both shades were starting to disintegrate, so I tore the fabric off until I had only the wire frames left.

DIY laundry hamper using a lamp shade frame
Wire frame of lampshade

At the time I wasn’t sure what I was going to use the frames for, but I knew they would eventually be good for something.

 

How We Did It

With moderate sewing skills and a few tools, this project is surprisingly easy.

Affiliate links  are used below.  See my Affiliate Disclosure page for more information.

Cutting a Template

I’m a big fan of making cardboard templates to use as sewing patterns.  So the first thing I did was trace the outline of the top of the lamp shade (which, since it was the narrowest point, would be used as the bottom of the hamper) onto a piece of cardboard.  I then cut it out to make a template.

DIY Laundry hamper
Cutting out the cardboard template

Removing the Cross-Braces

The center cross-braces of the lamp shade frame would not be needed and would get in the way, so my husband, Chris, removed them with wire cutters.

Making the Bottom

Then he used the cardboard template I made to cut a round piece of pressboard to serve as the bottom of the hamper.  He carved out notches where the frame wires would be so that the bottom would fit snugly.

DIY laundry hamper bottom
Pressboard bottom with notches cut for wires

Cleaning and Painting

I cleaned the wire frame with steel wool and spray painted it with Rust-Oleum Antique Brass Metallic.

I spray painted the bottom with Rust-Oleum Hammered Dark Bronze.

 

Sewing the Liner

I will be tossing the liner into the washing machine from time to time, so I didn’t want to use a fabric that might bleed, fade, or wrinkle.   I got a natural cotton utility fabric and pre-washed it.

Using the round cardboard template as a pattern, I cut a round piece of fabric for the bottom of the liner.

Then I measured around the circumference of the frame (at its widest point) and from top to bottom to cut the proper dimensions for the two side panels.

When sewing the side panels together,  I tapered them slightly since the frame was tapered.  Then I attached them to the round bottom piece.

I attached some vintage-looking lace to the top and folded the top over the basket.

DIY laundry hamper detail
Lace around the top

I played around with a few other, more complicated ideas for attaching the liner to the basket, but simply folding it over worked.  It fits snugly but will be easy to remove and replace when it needs washing.

 

This hamper became a nice addition to our recently-remodeled laundry room.

As for the other frame, it is still in our basement while I wait for more inspiration to come my way.

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

 


Want something nicer than a lamp shade frame?  Check out these cute laundry hampers, which were my source of inspiration:

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Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

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