A DIY Shoe Storage Upgrade

Before this house, I’d never lived anywhere that had a real mudroom.  And although our mudroom is small, I just love it.

But its best feature is also its biggest drawback:  The large windows.

Mudroom windows

All the wonderful natural light means very little wall space to work with.  As you can see from the photo, the limited wall space makes it difficult to keep things organized  – not that I’ve been trying very hard.  The room is a haphazard mix of random storage baskets and bins.  I’ve never really made it a priority.

Well that is about to change.  I’m in the process of reworking the mudroom – starting with the taming of the shoes.

Invasion of the Shoes

My husband, Chris, likes to keep the shoes he uses most near the back door.  The problem is, the shoes seem to multiply when no one is looking.  And yes, he really uses all of these.

Boot bench

A while back, in a half-hearted attempt to get organized, I added a flimsy thrift store rack to the top of the boot bench.  It doesn’t look good, and now we can’t sit while putting on shoes.

The small wooden shelving unit near the door was too shallow to house his shoes.

Mudroom shelving unit

A New Angle

What to do?  My mom suggested a shoe rack in place of the shelving unit.  It should have angled shelves, she said, so that the shoes would not interfere with the door swing.

It was a great idea, but most angled shoe racks I found were more suited to a closet than a mudroom.

And then I wondered about our little shelving unit:  Would it work to simply reposition the shelves at an angle?

plywood shelving unit

I asked Chris to give it a try.  He repositioned each shelf at about a 30-degree angle and used screws to secure them.

And it worked!  The shoes would be nicely contained on the newly-angled shelves.

DIY Shoe Storage

Now we just needed to make this basic unit a little prettier.

A 99-Cent Upgrade

A reclaimed wood top would elevate the look.  I checked the nearest salvage shop and found all kinds of beautiful wood – all of it too shallow in depth.

The next salvage shop was way across town, and I started to wonder if I was on another one of my fool’s errands.

While deciding whether it was worth the drive, I stopped at my local Goodwill.  There I found a piece of fir in the right depth – with a nicely finished edge.  And it was 99 cents!  I could not believe my luck.

Fir panel

All we would have to do is shorten the length a bit.  Reclaimed wood at Goodwill: Who’d have thought?

Adding More Character

Then I got it in my head that, since the mudroom is next to the kitchen, the exposed side of the shelving unit should be attractively paneled to match the style of our kitchen cabinets.

I tease Chris for keeping all kinds of scrap wood pieces, but it came in handy for this project since he had just the right scraps onhand to create the panels.

Then I painted the bench the same white as our kitchen molding – a color custom-blended to match our kitchen cabinets.

And here is how it turned out.

DIY Shoe Storage Unit for a Mudroom

A DIY Shoe Storage Unit

It’s perfect for the overflow shoes, and it frees up a lot of space in the boot bench.  There is even enough room for some of my shoes.

DIY Shoe Storage Unit for Mudroom

And for 99 cents out of pocket, it’s a nice upgrade for a plywood shelving unit that once looked like this.

Plywood storage unit

This small change is already improving the flow of the mudroom, but there is more to come, including a snazzy upgrade to the concrete floor.  So stay tuned!

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A (Slightly Over the Top) Wrapping Station Revamp

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using these links


Have you ever had a project that started out small and wound up snowballing?  All I wanted to do was organize my wrapping station.  Simple, right?

I have a little wrapping paper cart in an alcove on our upstairs landing.  I had always wanted one of these carts and was very excited when I bought it several years ago.

But I save every little ribbon, gift bag, and scrap of wrapping paper. So over time, the wrapping cart got jam packed.  Things were getting lost or crushed in the drawers.

Wrapping cart before

So I decided to organize it.  And then I figured that while I was at it,  I might as well do something about that color.  I must have liked the reddish-brown color when I ordered it, but now I can’t remember why. The color didn’t work with the creams and golds of my home office just across the hall.

Painting the Cart

That dark color would be hard to cover unless I used chalk paint. Chalk paint requires very little prep work – even priming isn’t usually necessary.

For more on my chalk painting experiences, including the best application tool I have found, see this post.

I used a buttery cream color called “Bavarian” by folkArt. It still took about three coats to cover the cart.

And it looked nice.  I should have stopped there but instead I discovered “Metallic Gold” chalk paint, also by folkArt.  A metallic chalk paint?  I was very intrigued and had to give it a try.

Chalk paint is wonderful for creating distressed finishes.  So I painted over the Bavarian on the drawer fronts with the Metallic Gold and then distressed them with steel wool.  Then I added a few brush strokes of the Bavarian and distressed the drawer fronts again. Finally I added a few brush strokes of the Metallic Gold and distressed them one last time.

I finished off with a coat of the folkArt Clear Wax following the instructions on the label.  Of course, with drying time, all of this took several days.  And all for a wrapping paper cart.

And this is what I got.

Chalk paint projects - drawers finished

Adding Hardware

You might have noticed the hardware that I added to the drawers. When I finally finished the painting, the drawers looked too modern for the finish I had created.  So I needed a little more old world charm.  And I do love the fleur de lis knobs that I found for $2 each at a salvage shop.

Chalk paint projects - salvage shop hardware added

I also picked up a handle for the large bottom drawer for $2.

chalk paint projects - handle added

It originally had a chrome finish so I spray painted it with Rust Oleum “Pure Gold Metallic” and antiqued it with a folkArt craft paint called “Wrought Iron.”

My long-suffering husband, Chris, installed the hardware for me.

It did turn out to be a fun and girly look for the wrapping paper cart.

chalk paint projects - finished wrapping station

But I wasn’t done.

A Basket

I found a cute wire basket at a craft store and spray painted it with Rust Oleum “Gold Rush Metallic.”

Chalk paint projects - basket added

Attached to the side of the cart, it is attractive – and perfect for holding gift bags.

chalk paint projects

A Fabric Liner

Then when I put everything back together after painting, the little compartments in the top tray still needed something.  I had come this far, so why not?  I lined them with a whimsical calico fabric.

chalk paint projects - fabric lining for compartments


chalk paint projects

But I needed to add one last thing.

A Wall Cubby

To add more storage to my wrapping station, I found a small Pottery Barn wall cubby at a thrift store.

chalk paint projects - wall rack before

I painted it with the same paint treatment as the cart drawers and covered the corkboard with a fleur de lis burlap.

chalk paint projects - wall rack after

Now it holds tissue paper, gift tags, and lengths of ribbon – anything small that might get lost in the cart.

chalk paint projects

Lesson Learned

For the time I invested, I should have chosen a furniture piece worthy of the effort.  For this modern piece with such simple lines, I should have stayed with my original plan, which was to paint the cart and the wall cubby with the Bavarian and add the basket.  Period. Instead I was led astray – dazzled by shiny things: The Metallic Gold chalk paint.

chalk paint projects

At least this wrapping station is unique – and more organized. And now it’s finally time for me to step away from this project.

chalk paint projects - wrapping cart

chalk paint projects

Not that this experience will stop me from trying the Metallic Gold on more worthy pieces.

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Getting Organized is Bunk

When I found this $7 bunk bed ladder at an architectural salvage shop, I knew I wanted it.  I just wasn’t sure why.

Ladder beforeIt wasn’t like other ladders.  It was very solidly built, and it seemed to stand more vertically rather than having to lean at an angle.  That made it perfect for some kind of vertical storage function – after a little facelift of course.



The Facelift

I wanted to paint it with Valspar Greek Tapenade – a cheerful color and the same one I used on my file cabinet.

The ladder had a dark stain and a glossy finish, so I sanded it and painted it with two coats of primer.  After that, it took three coats of paint.

I had some little green storage bins that I had purchased a couple of years ago online.  At the time, they turned out to be too small for the project I had in mind for them, but because they were nicely made and came at good price, I hung onto them.

Closet organizing

Their size turned out to be perfect to fit on the ladder rungs.  My husband, Chris, installed them using small brass nails.

closet organizing ladder closeup

A Closet Organizer

I’m slowly chipping away at getting my closet organized and finding just the right solutions for the space I have to work with.   But this little ladder is a great start.  It doesn’t take up much floor space at all, and it holds the little odds and ends that wind up cluttering up my closet.

closet organizingcloset organizing

Other Uses

I’m still torn on whether it should stay in the closet.  It would also be great in our smaller bathroom holding toiletries and towels.  And it would be adorable in my greenhouse holding blooming annuals.

So I’m on the lookout for more bunk bed ladders.


From Amazon, here are a couple of other fun storage ladder options and one cool display ladder made from reclaimed wood:

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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.

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 throwing 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 stitched 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.

DIY laundry hamper finished

We are planning to remodel our laundry room sometime this year, and this cute little hamper will be a nice addition.

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

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


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Home Office Decor on a Budget

Several years ago, I set up a little office for myself on the upstairs landing with a desk and a printer stand that I found on Craigslist.

My home office needs are simple so the small corner on the landing was just enough space.  I hastily threw a few things together, including some mismatched file boxes and some smaller boxes to hold office supplies, and I wound up with a bland, cluttered, temporary-looking office that has bugged me ever since.

Home office decor:  Office before makeover
My bland home office before the makeover.
Home office decor:  Before the makeover
Too many boxes!

The Makeover Begins

I recently found a few things in our basement that could be repurposed or revamped and used in an office makeover.

For the makeover, the colors would be limited to black and white, and varying shades of cream and gold.

Home office decor:  After the makeover.
After the budget makeover.
Home office decor:  After the makeover
Several items from my basement were revamped and given a second chance.

Going Vertical

In the basement I found a WWII ammunition box in rustic condition that my father-in-law used to transport the tire chains for his old truck.

It’s painted white and we think it was used by soldiers who were posted in snowy locations since the white box would blend with the snow.

Second hand finds used as home office decor
The ammo case and the milk glass bowl were repurposed as home office décor.

This ammo case was too interesting to stay in the basement.  So now it’s holding my papers and reading materials vertically, replacing a two-tired wooden desktop organizer that took up too much space on the desk.

The white footed milk glass bowl, a garage sale find, is a stylish place to dump my shopping receipts.

File Cabinet Facelift

I love the look of my office desk with its turned legs, but the mismatched file boxes sitting under it detracted from the design.

File boxes beforeI needed a “real” file cabinet.  This oak file cabinet had been stored in our basement since we moved into the house.  I bought it in the mid-1990s.  But even then, the look was dated.

file cabinet before facelift

It took a coat of primer and three coats of paint (Valspar Ultra in Greek Tapenade) to cover the wood.  I spray painted the metal hardware with Rust-Oleum Metallic spray paint in antique brass.  My husband, Chris, had to make some repairs to the drawers which, as it turned out, had never been put together properly.

But it was worth the effort for this clean, fun look.

File cabinet after
File cabinet after facelift.

The Cork Board

I had a fabric bulletin board hanging over my desk.  I never liked the colors – too weak and murky.

So I found this cork board in the basement.

Corkboard before facelift

And turned it into this.

cork board after
Cork board after its facelift.

This look is easy to get.  Check out my how-to post for this cork board revamp.

The Chair

The office chair is attractive and comfortable, but the chair pad cover was a little bland and, being vinyl, didn’t breathe very well.

chair pad before recovering

I recovered it with a Waverly fabric called Strands Mocha.

chair pad after reupholstering

The Shuffle

After I purged some books and moved others to the top of the file cabinet, I was able to free up the lower shelf of the printer stand.  That shelf was the perfect size for one of the leftover file boxes, now filled with office supplies.

This meant more space on my desktop, so I was able to bring aboard a cute desk lamp (an estate sale find) and move the floor lamp to a different room.

There is even space now for one of my favorite photos of me and my father.

Lamp and photo 2 edited

All On a Budget

The chair fabric, a frame for a small art print, and the paint for the file cabinet were the only purchases I made for my office makeover.  Everything else was already on-hand.

The office is now organized, calm, and more attractive.  And as I sit at my desk typing this post, I am that much happier.

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