Would you like butter on your popcorn?

This post was originally written in March of 2011 but never published.  The room is now complete and I will post about the results later this week!  🙂

So we’ve decided to “cottage-ify” the interior of the house during this long, cold and SNOWY winter.  One of the spare bedrooms has become our DIY Guinea Pig…

This is not technically the true “before”, but it is the earliest state of the renovation that I remembered to take a picture.

 The room was a “hot mess”…popcorn ceiling, old pine trim and builder beige walls.  I honestly don’t think there had been much updating of this room since it’s birth in 1983.

We plan(ned) to do the following to the room:

  1. Remove all the trim from the room
  2. Paint the walls (we choose Sherwin Williams “Comfort Gray”)
  3. Scrape the ceiling
  4. Install tongue and groove pine planks to the ceiling (painted SW “Alabaster”)
  5. Paint and reinstall the original crown moulding (SW “Neutral Ground”)
  6. Order and install craftsman style window and door casing (painted SW “Neutral Ground”)
  7. Order and install prairie style doors (painted…”Neutral Ground”)
Mmmmm, popcorn anyone??

The funny thing is that we expected hoped to be able to get items #1-4 in one weekend!  Did I mention that we had to prime (2x) and paint (2x) all those pine tongue and groove planks (30 of them, btw…)?!?!  Yeah, ummmm no.

What we were able to accomplish was the scraping of the ceiling, removing the trim, priming and painting the walls and last but not least, priming and painting all 30 tongue and groove planks.

I guess the lesson to be taken away from all of this is that, ALWAYS plan for setbacks and delays when DIY’ing.  Otherwise, you’re in for a world of hurt!

I’m happy to report that after two weeks of hard work, we’re almost done items #1-5.  There have been some delays, like when we miscalculated how many tongue and groove boards we were going to need and ended up having to go back and get 6 more. 

But, we’ve also done much more than the items listed above.  We have replaced the horrible ceiling fan with a cute little number from IKEA.  Nolan has installed a motion sensor light switch for the room and also updated all the electrical outlets so they match.  We’ve also updated our pitiful baseboard cover with this clean and modern one from Lowes:

Don’t mind the unpainted portion above the new cover. The old cover was taller and we had already painted the room when we decided to update the cover. It has since been painted.

Chances are, as you delve into a renovation, your original “to do” list is going to end up not looking like your final “completed” list.  It’s hard to know in the beginning what’s going to come up as you go along and that’s okay.  I’ve recently learned that as long as you enter the project with an open mind and can handle reworking your list, you’ll be fine.  🙂  What have you learned from your DIY projects?


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Parker Planter

Another quick and easy re-do in store for today!  If you’re anything like me, you love old fashioned advertisements, labels, etc.  So, imagine my delight when browsing at a local estate sale a few weekends ago, when I spotted this beauty:

Jane Parker Potato Chip Tin

Nothing was marked with prices and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I asked the gentleman, what the price was.  I was thrilled when he said “one dollar”.  SOLD!

I immediately knew I wanted it to be a planter of some type, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to drill holes in the bottom for drainage or have it be an outdoor planter, exposed to the elements.  It didn’t seem right to subject this heirloom to that kind of mistreatment and risk it rusting, etc.

I had recently purchased a maidenhair fern at our local garden center ($2.50 with coupon) for our bedroom and had not repotted it yet.   Our master bedroom, much to my chagrin, does not get a lot of natural light.  The maidenhair fern is a low light plant, which is why I choose it.   The green of the fern with the green of the planter seemed like a great match.

Maidenhair Fern

Now this is the part where I tell you that I took pictures of the repotting of the fern into the terracotta planter and didn’t realize that my memory card was NOT in the camera… (Boo!)  So, just use your imagination and picture me repotting the fern into a terracotta planter I purchased at Michael’s last weekend with my 50% off coupon.  (Total cost for pot and saucer was $2.50 , potting soil was free since I already had it on hand)

Once the fern was repotted in the terracotta pot, I needed to figure out a way to prop the fern up inside the potato chip tin.  I tried using a brick, but the brick was too wide for the opening of the tin.  I tried using an old bonsai planter turned upside down for the terracotta saucer and pot to sit on, but it was a hair too short.

For some reason I took a look at our recycling bin and instantly knew I found my answer with this:

It was a plastic bakery container from our local grocery store that once held yummy cookies.  I took the lid off the container and took the bottom half of the container and put it inside the tin upside down.  It was the perfect height for propping the fern up within the tin. 

Here it is completed:

The nicest thing is I can still take the fern out to water it and then once it’s drained, it can go right back into the planter/tin.  And I don’t have to worry about ruining the tin in case I ever want to repurpose it as something else.

Total cost: Tin $1 + Plant $2.50 + Terracotta Pot & Saucer $2.50 = $6.00

Planter in it’s new home

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Paint Chipalooza

I’m back today with a quick and easy project that will allow you to make custom wall art in any color combination you choose!  I’m talking about paint chip wall art and if you’re a regular “Pinterester” you know what I’m talking about.  Paint chip art is all over Pinterest and why not?  It’s easy and best of all it’s cheap, if not free!

So I headed down to my local HD and made Nolan “cover me” 🙂 while I chose a number of paint chips from the Martha Stewart line.  I like her paint chips because each chip only displays one color, as opposed to the other brands that sometimes show multiple colors on one chip.

Once I had my color scheme decided upon, I got to work.  I happened to have an IKEA Ribba Frameon hand that was leftover from a previous project.  The mat opening on the frame was 4-3/4″ x 6-3/4″.  So I used the backside of the paper insert that comes in the frame as my project surface.  I traced the mat opening onto the backside of the paper insert as a guide for when it came time to adhere the strips to the paper.

IKEA Ribba Frame

I had twelve colors I wanted to incorporate into this project.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no math whiz, so I determined that if I cut the colors into 1/2″ strips, I’d be close to the rough opening with 3/4″ to spare.  So, I took caution to the wind and decided to go for it without really knowing where I’d end up…

Using my handy dandy “Making Memories” paper trimmer that I purchased a few years back with a 50% off coupon at Michaels, I went to work.  I love this paper cutter because it has clear grid lines that help make sure you’re cutting straight and square.  I cut 1/2″ strips of all twelve colors.

Using regular old Elmer’s glue and a paint brush, I painted the back of each strip, one at a time with glue and then adhered them to the paper.  I made sure to get each strip as close to the next without overlapping so that there would be little to no white paper showing through.

Painting the glue to the backside of the paint strips

In order to make up for the 3/4″ extra space I had left in the mat opening, I ended up repeating a couple of colors.

The end result was this…

Paint chips glued to paper

Once dry and ready to go, I simply put the project and the frame together and it was ready for display.  Here it is in our guest room on the night stand.

Finished product!

In case you’re curious, I used the following colors from the Martha Stewart line of paint at Home Depot:

Sunken Pool
Sea Glass
Yellow Gerbera
Winters Day
Driftwood Gray
Cumulus Cloud

Total Cost: $2.99 for the IKEA Ribba frame (btw..they recently lowered the price to $1.99 for the same frame!)

All in all, this was a very fun and rewarding project because it only took me about an hour and it was instant gratification!

What do you think?

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I heart Hypertufa

“What’s hypertufa?” Glad you asked… It’s a blend of Portland Cement, Peat Moss, Perlite and Sand.  The result is a lightweight, surprisingly rugged piece of concrete that will withstand all that Mother Nature has to throw at it.  What I especially love about it is that you can leave it out in the winter and it won’t crack like terracotta or other ceramic containers would.

I had taken a one day class on hypertufa back in 2009 at a local garden center and have been wanting to create more hypertufa pieces ever since.  Wanna know what stopped me?  Try the 94 pound bag of Portland Cement!  Yeah, that’s the only size they offer at Home Depot and Lowes.  I’m not sure what Portland Cement is “normally” used for, but I honestly think I have enough to last a lifetime of hypertufa creations!  Not to mention that my arthritic back was in no way capable up hoisting that bad boy  into the cart,  then into my car trunk and then out of the trunk to its final resting place.  Enter Nolan…  thank God for him and his sturdy back!  (I kindly carried the 16 ounce bag of Perlite!)

My Hero!

So, what was my plan for my first solo hypertufa experiment?  Well, this might seem a bit morbid and a touch on the “crazy cat lady” side of things…but I lost two cats in the past year (almost one year apart exactly) and they are buried in their “final resting places” (ie: the side yard), but without any kind of “marker” per say.  Now, I didn’t want to get all weird and make headstones or anything, but I wanted something that would mark their respective spots.



After reading this post on another of my favorite blogs, merrypad, I got to thinking that a simple heart for each cat would be tasteful. I used a similar method as Emily did in creating the mold for the hearts, with the exception that I opted to use cardboard rather than newspaper. Luckily for me, we had recently purchased a box fan that came in, well… a box and used pieces of the “box fan box” and masking tape to create the heart molds, as seen here:

Heart Molds made from cardboard

Once the molds were ready, I brought out all the “players”: Sand, Perlite, Peat Moss & the reigning heavy-weight champion…Portland Cement (with Nolan’s help, of course!). I took some safety precautions since the cement is labeled as “caustic”…vinyl gloves, a face mask and eye protection. If you decide to undertake a project using cement, be sure to take the same precautions! I didn’t really follow a set recipe in making the mixture…I just went with equal parts of everything and it seems to have worked (so far). I used an old (but clean) bucket we had lying around and added all the dry ingredients, first mixing them together before adding the water. Adding the water wasn’t an exact science either. I just added water slowly until I had the consistency of oatmeal.


Now the exciting part! Time to add the mixture to the molds! As mentioned previously, I used vinyl gloves and just scooped small amount of the mix and patted it into the mold, occasionally wiggling the larger piece of cardboard the molds were taped to, in order to tap out any air pockets and to get the mix level within the mold. The whole process was quick and easy and it was cool to see the water within the mix rising to the top of the heart. A word of caution though…you must move quickly as this stuff sets up super quick!

Once I had the molds filled, I put the entire piece of cardboard the molds were attached to inside a large contractors sized trash bag to retain a consistent moisture. If the mix dries out too quickly, it will be susceptible to cracks and breakage. This might be the hardest part of the whole project (besides finding someone to lift the monster bag of cement)…the wait…you have to let the mix cure and that takes a while. From what I’ve read online, hypertufa “experts” are unable to reach a consensus on how long is long enough, but for me, I waited about a week before taking my project out of the bag. (Not going to tell you how many times I “peeked” at the project in that week though!)

Under wraps!

The mold itself came off the pieces fairly easily, which was a relief. I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to pick pieces of cardboard bits off the sides of the hearts. As you can see, they aren’t perfect and that’s fine with me for now. I plan to sand the sides of them to ensure a smooth finish.

Cured hearts

For now, they are in my kitchen sink soaking… I read online that cement contains a large portion of lime. If you don’t let your pieces “weather” before using them (this includes planters), they will leech lime into your plants and that’s not good. I’m currently soaking them to speed up the weathering process. I’ve read that if you soak them in water for three days (changing the water at least once per day), you can leech the majority of the lime out of the piece so that it’s safe to use. Since my hearts are not intended to be planters, the lime issue isn’t a huge one, but I do plan to place the hearts on top of an already established flower garden and I didn’t want to run the risk of the lime messing with my plants.

Leeching the lime (Disregard my dirty looking sink!  It’s some kind of white plastic (?) from the 1980’s that won’t come clean no matter what I do!)

Stay tuned…I’ll be conducting the “big reveal”, which will include the details of sanding them if I decide to go ahead with that, later this week! Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions or tips!  🙂

PS: In case you’re curious, I estimate this project cost under $25:
$10 Portland Cement
$4 Perlite
$4 Peat Moss
$4 Play Sand
TOTAL: $22 and enough cement to last me a lifetime!  😉



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DIY’ing stencil style

We’ve been updating our trim throughout the house to make it more craftsman-like, which left us with a bunch of left over flat 1″x 4″ pine boards (read = free).  I was browsing at one of my favorite blogs www.thehandmadehome.net, when I discovered this.  Isn’t it amazing?

I plan to do one similar to what Ashley did for our master bedroom, but we’re not quite ready to undertake that room yet.  Still working on the office, which I’ll post about later.  So, I decided to try to make one for an outdoor installation on the side of our shed.  I’ve always admired gardeners who could incorporate art into the garden and have been trying to come up with ways to do that myself.  This seemed like the perfect project to start with.   After ordering and receiving the stencil ($24) from Royal Design Studio I was ready to begin.

I measured the area on the side of the shed to determine that I wanted an approximate 2 foot x 4 foot art piece.  I then measured and cut 13 boards to the approximate length and width.  I sandwiched in some leftover 1″x2″ boards between the leftover 1″x4″ boards we had left over from the trim replacement, just to mix things up.  To attach each board to one another, my husband, Nolan, showed me how to use something called a “pocket jig”, which looks like this:

This is the pocket jig I used for this project.

The way it works is that it allows you to drill a hole into the wood at an angle in order to use screws to attach one piece to the next.  The result is a sturdier project with no screws poking out anywhere.  I was quite impressed with the final result. 

Pocket jig detail

Nolan trimed one of the sides of the project for me with the table saw since my original cuts weren’t exactly *perfect*!  Once that was done, I went to town on sanding the front side of it.

Getting ready to sand

For staining, I opted to use Cabot’s Penetrating Wood Stain (oil based) in Red Mahogany since it was something we already owned.

Cabot’s Wood Stain in Red Mahogany

I let the piece dry outdoors (in a sheltered spot) for two days before stenciling it.  I opted to bring the project onto my kitchen floor, where it was air conditioned, during a recent heat wave.

Ready for stenciling

For the paint, I went with an interior latex paint (yes, I said “interior”, I’ll explain later) since we had it leftover from when we painted our new trim.  It’s Sherwin Williams “Neutral Ground”, which is a nice off-white.

I used blue painters tape to secure the stencil to the project and then proceeded to use a foam brush (14 for $1.00 at Michaels on sale!) to apply the paint.   I found that “less is more” in terms of the amount of paint to put on the brush.  If you have to, practice on a scrap piece of cardboard or wood ahead of time to get the feel of it.  The great thing about using the stencils from Royal Design Studio was that they have built in registration marks, which allow you to evenly space each section with ease.  Honestly, I’m not sure the project would be successful without them!

Stenciling in progress

I’m not going to lie, the stenciling took the better part of a day to complete!  However, the process became increasingly more satisfying with each completed section.

Close-up of stenciling

Once the entire piece was stenciled, I went back and applied an outdoor grade clear lacquer (Rustoleum) to seal in the indoor latex paint I used for the stencil.

To attach the project to the shed, I located the studs (via a studfinder, of course) and then created a homemade version of a “french cleat”.  Basically, it’s one piece of wood cut at a 45 degree angle lengthwise and then attach one of the pieces to the “wall” with the “V” facing upwards.  The other piece gets attached the opposite way on the object being hung. Slide the two pieces together and you will have an interlocking mount.  It’s cheap and easy enough to do and is strong enough to hold this project securely.

French Cleat detail

Here’s the final piece installed to the shed…

Rustic and pretty garden art!

I’m loving the fact that it’s an unexpected surprise in the garden.  Most of all, I’m loving the fact that it cost me less than $25 to make!  What do you think?

Feel free to leave a comment or ask any questions you may have below!  Thanks for reading!


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