Category Archives: DIY

Homemade Holiday 2015: Wooden Play Ice Cream Set for under $10

wooden play ice cream set

 

Is Christmas sneaking up on anyone else, or just me? With only a few days left, I’m scrambling to finish. One of my favorite quick and easy projects is this adorable wooden play ice cream cone set. It’s so stinkin’ easy, and fun to customize! I just grabbed a few supplies from the craft store, and after a couple of steps, I had cute cones!

ice-cream-cone-potHere’s my supply list:

Handmade Holiday 2015: Tiny Tot Tool Bench How-To

tiny-tot-tool-bench

Are you ready for a fun, easy, affordable project that will blow your kids (and parents, and friends) away?! Well, today I have one for you! This Tiny Tot Tool Bench is the perfect gift for that little one in your life, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to make it. For about $25 in supplies, you can craft a handmade, solid wood tool-a-palooza for the toddler in your life.

tiny-tot-tool-bench-tools

Every part is hand made, down to the tiny tools! And all you need is a jigsaw. The bench has 12 holes for practicing fine motor skills, and a little shelf that is fun for the little organizer.

tiny-tot-tool-bench-shelf

Seriously, what is cuter than teeny weenie little tools? The saw even has little teeth!

tiny-tot-tool-bench-saw

The screwdriver fits inside the grooves to twist the screws.

tiny-tot-tool-bench-screwdriver

The wrench is perfectly sized for the square pegs.

tiny-tot-tool-bench-wrench

And the hammer is light yet sturdy enough for lots of heavy banging.

tiny-tot-tool-bench-hammer

 

Even though this is a Christmas gift for my one year old, I wanted to make sure it was sized appropriately. I measured a pair of her pants to get the height, but wanted to double check before I wrote up plans. So during one of those midnight “I have to wake up and play right NOW!” sessions (I know you know what I mean!) I let Caroline take a whirl on the bench. She had a BLAST! I was thrilled to see how much she loved it. It is the perfect height. She can reach the tools up top to grab them easily, and bend down to put things on the shelf. I was a little unsure of my decision to leave the screws as flat dowels, but it was a good call. At 15 months she wouldn’t be able to do the screwing motion. Right now she had so much fun just putting the tools and screws into the different holes. She was awake for TWO HOURS! before I could convince her to go back to bed. She was just having too much fun playing!

tiny-tot-tool-bench-test

The height of the table hits right at her hips, which leaves some room to grow. My three year old also had fun playing with the parts while I was building it, so this could be a great toy to last a few years. And much much cuter than those plastic ones from the store!

tiny-tot-tool-bench-play

 

With one month until Christmas, it’s time to get building! Let’s go!

Supplies:

Handmade Holiday 2015: Peg Princesses

hand painted peg princesses

Holiday season is upon us, and for me that means time to swing into gear on handmade presents! This is actually an older project. I made these peg princesses for my daughter Charlie for Valentine’s Day this year. She has been getting more and more enthusiastic about Disney princesses, so I made sure to theme them accordingly. But this could easily be adapted for any character series. Harry Potter, superheroes, X-Men, you name it!

peg-princesses4

I purchased two packs of eight peg people from Hobby Lobby, and started looking up character photos. Then it was simply a matter of sketching the dresses and hair with a pencil, and filling them in with craft paints.

peg-princesses3

It was a bit tricky to come up with 16 princesses, so I drew from a few less popular movies like Atlantis and Hercules who happen to have two of my favorite princesses anyway, Megura and Kida. Merida and Mulan are also some pretty great role models!

peg-princesses2

Of course the 90’s favorites had to be here! Ariel was a bit tricky, but in the end she turned out cute with her little fin and shell bra.

peg-princesses1

This was a very affordable project, costing $4 for the pegs (I purchased on a half off day) and then paints I had along with ModPodge for sealing it. I spent about 10 hours painting them though, I am a slow painter, plus I had a wiggly four month old to contend with! But they are so adorable, and both my girls love playing with them. They fit perfectly inside the Melissa and Doug foldable dollhouse my mom gave them.

peg-princesses-dollhouse1

Much cuter than the ones that came with it!

peg-princesses-dollhouse

And this is the honest truth, as I’m writing this post Charlie is playing with the dollhouse and princesses while wearing her Merida dress up gown. We’re Disney fans in full force now! I

 

DIY Wood Couch Sleeves from Scraps: A How-To

couch sleeve organizer

I think anyone with small children or a home full of animals can attest that furniture always pays the price. My poor couch has seen much better days. We adopted a second kitten this summer, and he likes to hop up on the couch by the armrest. Which meant tiny little tears in the “pleather”. For some reason it was like a magnet for my baby, who ended up tearing off huge chunks of the fabric all over the armrest. It’s so patchy now, and looks horrible.

 

couch-sleeve-snack

To hide the damage as well as prevent more, I decided to try out using up some wood scraps from the Chunky X Dining Table and make a wood sleeve to fit over the armrest. I’ve seen these go for upwards of 70 dollars, but this one was free, and can be built for about $25 with new lumber. I decided to make mine with “pockets” to corral remotes, wipes, coasters, and my e-reader. It’s so handy to have that all available now! Plus it’s a great spot for a snack and a drink. The good thing is that it’s already prevented further damage, so perhaps I can keep up the illusion that the couch is mostly undamaged. Just don’t look at the cushions. Like, at all. Thanks 😉

These supplies are based on my couch arm dimensions, which is roughly 11″ wide. If you have a thinner arm, replace the 1×12 with a thinner board, like a 1×10 or 1×8, or even smaller. If you have a 1×8 or below for the main components, be sure to also size down the 1×8 outer board that makes up the “pocket” portion of the sleeve.

Supplies:

Sliding Door with Hidden Hardware: An Experiment

sliding door hidden hardware

 

I was lucky enough to go to Round Top for the fall antique shows earlier this month, and WOAH! That place is so intense! It was only an hour and a half drive away, so I think I’ll have to make it a bi-annual trip for sure. I saw so many amazing things, and happened onto this beautiful solid wood old door that just-so-happened to fit perfectly over the opening for our bathroom linen closet. I was thinking of ways I could mount it, with exposed hinges like our vintage pantry door and office closet door…

teal-screen-pantry-door

 

office-door

 

But there wasn’t really enough room to add a swinging door in the tight bathroom space. I decided it should slide, but what kind of hardware? Should I do the barn door track like the one in our old home?

 

white barn door

 

Or the pipe and wheels from our current large office sliding door?

san-bernard-bonus3

 

 

I decided no on both of those, because I didn’t want to have a theme going on, other than my love of old doors of course! I thought I would try out something new. Something crazy. Something like…

sliding-door-hidden-hardware-openDrawer slides! I know, weird right? But so far it totally works! Our door opening was 24.5″ wide, so I purchased heavy-duty full-extension side mount 24″ drawer slides. They’re rated to hold 100 pounds, which is twice the weight of this door. I cut a scrap cedar 2×2 board to fit in the lower part of the door opening and attached it with pocket holes and 3″ screws. Then I mounted the drawer slides to the front of the door opening at the top and bottom, and to the back of the door. It took a lot of fighting and fumbling with it to get it up, but I was able to all by myself!

sliding-door-hidden-hardware-top-closed

 

I love my “magic door”! It’s so nice that the hardware is completely hidden when the door is closed. And it slides so easily to open, it’s lovely.

sliding-door-hidden-hardware-top-open

 

One thing I (and you, if you look closely at that top left corner) noticed is that it does sag if left open. I’m also concerned about the potential of it falling forward off the rails. I’m thinking about mounting a bracket on the top to keep it in place, and possibly a small castor on that lower left edge. I haven’t fully decided yet. Right now I just encourage everyone to KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED PLEASE AND THANK YOU! Which is a good idea anyway because that closet is always a total mess.

sliding-door-hidden-hardware-mirror

 

I want to emphasize that this project is still firmly in the experimental testing stage, so I can’t give a recommendation as to whether you should do this in your own home. I just figured it wouldn’t hurt to try it out myself, and see if this crazy idea holds up over time. I will most definitely come back with updates, after a month of use, a year of use, and hopefully beyond! All I can say is right now, it’s working and doesn’t show any sign of falling off. But that could easily change.

On a lighter note, now I want to do something really fun with paint on that other door. Chalkboard? Decorative mural? Patterned paper? I just know that the white next to that pale yellow looks funky, like I tried to match them but couldn’t, or one door just got dingy. I’m looking forward to having some fun!

 






 

Scrap Pile Presents for a Zero Waste Birthday

pig and deer critter chairs

 

Both of my girls have a birthday at harvest season, and I had such a great time making presents for them this year. To challenge myself even further, I decided to focus on using materials I already had to make really fun, useful gifts. One of the basic “rules” of Zero Waste is to eliminate not only packaging, but to minimize your consumption of plastics and other mass produced toys and items. Basically, try to focus more on your needs, and look for fewer, quality possessions that focus on ethical and ecological production methods. So, that meant staying out of the toy aisles with their factory produced junk, and hand making gifts. For Caroline, who turns one this week, I decided to fill out our Critter Chair set and make her two animal stools: a little deer and a piggy. I looooove the deer! I was a bit worried the antlers would either be too insubstantial to provide a backrest, or look too clunky to be believable antlers. I’m so glad I was wrong! The look very cute, and I think they could even be bulked up a bit at the base and center to make moose antlers. If you’re interested in building your own, I have a tutorial for them here.

 

Greta rag dolls

 

For the second half of her presents from mama, I made her four of these precious Greta dolls. I purchased the pattern as a digital pdf on Etsy from Retromama. She also has a Hans pattern that I bought as well, for gifts later on. Plus like six other patterns I’ve bookmarked, you need to check out her shop! Anyway, the only materials I needed to buy were felt for the hair and shoes, and a skin-toned cotton. I chose felt that was eco-friendly and made in America, and surprisingly found at WalMart of all places. I decided to try out the “old-school” method of filling these rag dolls with, well, rags. And it really did work! Two of these dolls were filled with leftover PolyFill, and two with fabric scraps. Can you tell which? I bet it will surprise you! I decided that from now on I’ll only use scraps to fill the dolls, as they felt much more durable than their puffy counterparts. It’s a great feeling to watch my once-huge scrap stash diminish down to almost nothing, as well as help out other sewers shrink their stashes! I made four of these dolls, each inspired by a different season. The Autumn doll uses scraps from the baby sling I made and carry Caroline around in since birth.

 

play food donuts

 

Charlie, however, got a lot of play food! I made these donuts by cutting circles out of a scrap fence picket with my jigsaw. I used a belt sander to get them smooth and to make the edges look more handcrafted. Then I painted them with some soy-based craft paints found at Hobby Lobby. They are so stinkin’ cute!

 

play-petit-fours

 

I also used up some pieces of 2×2 leftover from other projects to make petit fours, which are a big hit around here. Apparently cake is popular with toddlers, who knew?

 

play-breakfast

 

One of our favorite things to do together is to make pancakes on Sundays, so I whipped up a little breakfast kit at the last minute. Using som old 1/4″ ply, I cut circles for pancakes and then irregular circular shapes for syrup and fried eggs. The syrup and pancakes have iron-on velcro so they can detach.

 

play-roast-chicken

 

This roast chicken set is possibly my favorite of all the play food! I found something similar online, and used a piece of 2×6 for the center and freehanded the shape, cutting with my jigsaw. Then scrap 1×4’s became the wings and drumsticks. A little more iron-on velcro and voila! A wooden play roasted chicken to practice cutting.

 

play-pup-tent

 

Lastly, daddy decided to whip up a quick pup-tent using scrap wood and Ana White’s simple plans. We had these Mexican blankets sitting around in my parents’ storage area, doing basically nothing. Wouldn’t you know, they’re the perfect fit! We stapled them on, and once again had a no-cost, no-purchase gift that my little girls love.

 

And that finishes up the round up of this year’s Presentpalooza! We spent (almost) nothing but time and sweat to make thoughtful, adorable presents for our 3 year old and 1 year old. It required more thought and planning than simply popping into the store and plopping down a few bucks, but I’m so glad we did. I think they’ll enjoy these gifts for years to come, and it’s so amazing to hear Charlie tell her friends “Mommy and Daddy made me this!” with excitement. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

 

 



Otomi Stencil on Chalkboard with Liquid, Paintable, Washable Chalk

cutting edge stencils otomi closet doors

 

Does anyone else have a toddler girl obsessed with Frozen? I’m guessing yes! Charlie is obsessed with all things Anna and Elsa. When I saw this Otomi Cutting Edge Stencil design, I had the absolutely perfect idea in mind for where to put it! It’s been over a year (yikes!) since I’ve drawn anything on Charlie’s chalkboard closet doors, so why not give them a fresh look? Bonus points for a design that’s very Frozen-esque! She told me they looked just like Elsa’s door, while she was hugging them. I’m serious. She was so happy with her new doors that she hugged them.

 

otomi-closet-full

 

So, you might be thinking, how does one use a stencil on chalkboard? Does it involve lots of tedious tracing and coloring, taking hours of work? Nope. No it sure doesn’t. It involves a rather ingenious recipe from Crystelle Boutique.

ef186840b12b7bda48063ce52f181444

 

I was a bit nervous at first, what with the whole latex paint thing. That stuff isn’t exactly known to be very washable. But you know what? It WORKS! Like magic! It’s fantastic. I mixed up the amount in her tutorial (about 2 cups of paint) which was more than enough for this project. I poured it into a paint tray and used the small roller that came with the stencil. The stencil was about 5″ wider than my doors, which made things slightly difficult because of the raised wood framing them. Should I bend it? Cut it? I was hesitant to potentially damage such a quality stencil, I have so many other great projects in mind for this design! In the end, I decided to enlist my husband’s help as an extra holder so I could get a flat seal on the doors. I also didn’t use any adhesive on the back to hold it in place, because I didn’t want to have a residue that might impede chalk usage down the road. I really, really love how it all turned out!

chalkboard-stencil

 

It’s so cute! The edges are clean, without being too sharp. I still wanted things to look like traditional chalk, as if I were a master chalk artist on the sly 😉

chalkboard-stencil-detail

This is actually the closest to the true color of the liquid chalk. I used a color called “butter mint” for the paint, and it works well with her yellow room. the edges are just a touch fuzzy, which I love. If you want a sharper edge, make sure your stencil is flat across the entire surface and steady on the wall.

 

Now let’s talk about that whole washable thing. It says you can wipe it off, but can you really? Will I be standing there with a scrub brush for an hour trying to wipe it all down? Nope!

stencil-drip

See that drip? I got a bit messy on my hand-drawn scroll detail to fill up the gap at the bottom of the door. I waited until it was good and dry to fully test things out (over 24 hours) then wet a rag and gave it a quick scrub.

stencil-clean

The drip is gone! It rubbed right off without damaging the chalkboard paint below. I’m so excited! It’s such a great way to use up leftover paints (and lingering cornstarch) and opens up a whole new world of chalkboard designs. Did you know that Cutting Edge Stencils has a new line of smaller stencils? They say they’re for greeting cards, but they would be so fun on little chalkboards!

cutting edge stencils card stencil line

 

 

And of course there’s still all of their amazing larger wall stencils. So if you have a chalkboard in your life, take a fresh new look at it and consider painting on a chalk stencil!

otomi-stencil-chalkboard

*disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Cutting Edge Stencils provided their stencil in exchange for a review.

 

Toddler Animal Stool Painting Ideas

Welcome to new readers from Domino Magazine! I feel ridiculously honored to be featured in their article today with the “big dogs” in the DIY blogging world. I’m still pinching myself. Anyway, back to business.

Remember these DIY Toddler Animal Stools I built last year?

animal-toddler-stools

 

I’ve had a flurry of “orders” from friends requesting their own, and have had so much fun coming up with new ways to paint them. This little raccoon for a birthday party is probably my favorite.diy toddler raccoon chair

 

Followed by this tiny tiger, for another birthday.

 

tiger-chair

 

 

A puppy for Charlie’s Christmas present.

 

puppy-chair

 

A pony (or donkey?) for a friend’s little girl.

horse-chair

 

And a frog for a boy.

frog-chair

 

Admittedly my cow needs a little work. I’m working on some horn ideas.

cow-chair

These stools are amazing little gifts. Less than $5 in lumber, and a few hours time to build, sand and paint and you have a unique gift sure to impress!

 

 



Building San Bernard with Tilson: The After Photos

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In May of 2012, we began work with Tilson to build their San Bernard plan on our property outside of Austin, Texas. It is a 2331 sq ft plan, with 3 br / 2.5 ba and a bonus room. This was an 80% build, which meant they fully finished the exterior, and took the interior up to the texture on the drywall. We were responsible for finishing out the home ourselves, which included: utilities (well, electric, septic & gas), paint (we hired a local contractor, Martin DeLeon who I highly recommend), flooring (another contractor, stained concrete by Artistic Impressions who I also highly recommend), plumbing fixtures, tiling (we hired a friend to do this for us using tile purchased at Lowes), cabinetry, appliances, electrical fixtures, interior doors, trim, closet organizers, and landscaping (contracted to Debbie of Sagebrush Landscaping). It’s now May of 2014 and it’s finally to the point I can take “after photos”.

DIY Organic Play Makeup for Pennies

organic play makeup for pennies

 

My oldest daughter is nearing three years old, and has recently discovered the joys of Mommy’s “make ups”. Yet even though I strive to buy natural, organic products, when I was looking at the ingredients there were still so many things I couldn’t recognize. Did I really want this stuff going into my daughter’s mouth and eyes? Heck, did I want it going into my own mouth and eyes? Not really. So I did some digging in the treasure trove that is Pinterest, and cobbled together an idea from other methods using conventional products like vaseline and corn starch. My method has TWO all-natural ingredients. And it’s so easy you can whip up a palette of colors in an afternoon for pennies! Here’s what I did (and I apologize for no process photos, this was an experiment that I haven’t repeated yet because it made so darn much that we won’t need more play makeup for 20 years!)

Ingredients:

Salvage Yard Mirrors

salvaged-mirrors

 

Sometimes it takes failure to see things in a new light. In this case, it was a mirror. This mirror.

 

salvaged-mirrors-setp1

 

I’ve had it for about five years now, back when I was a bachelorette living in a Dallas apartment. It was cute, but not really my style anymore. Plus, I didn’t have a place for it in my house. So I tried to sell it. FIVE TIMES. And nobody every showed the slightest interest in it, even for $10. And then one day I decided to take it apart. I’m so glad I did!

 

salvaged-mirrors-setp2

 

I walked over to my dad’s shop and found some tire rims. I placed two of the mirrors inside and found that the larger circle was a perfect fit! It was fate. So I went scrounging around and found other things they might look good on. Like some farm equipment gears.

 

tire-rim-gear-mirrors

 

I loved it! They’re unique, and exciting, and best of all, reuse old things in a beautiful new way. So, how to get them up on the wall? Well the tire rim was the easiest. It had a hole on the back, so I just drilled a large bolt into the wall stud and hung the tire on the bolt. For the gears, things got creative.

salvaged-mirrors-setp4

 

I used a two hole strap intended for conduit to keep the gear on the wall stud. I tend to over-engineer when it comes to hanging things on walls because I don’t want them falling and bashing my babies. Or my toes. So after I hang things I give them a good yank and slam the doors a few times to make sure they really stick.

 

salvaged-mirrors-setp3

 

This gear already had a hole in the center, so I used a screw with a locknut and a washer to keep it on the wall. You can see I missed the stud the first time and had to move it over just a tad. To attach the mirrors, I mixed up a quick setting two-part epoxy and spread it on the high points of the gears, then placed the mirrors on them and held them in place. It was quite the arm workout. But after five minutes I had a good long hold and things were great!

salvage-yard-mirrors

 

Now I have a unique mirror display on the wall that opened up a whole new world of projects for me. I’m looking at tired castoffs with new eyes to try and envision what they could become!

 




Cedar Play Teepee: A How-To

cedar play teepee killer b designs

With only a few days left until Christmas, we finished up our biggest present just in time! I knew for a while that I wanted to build a playhouse for my girls, but I wasn’t sure exactly what it should be. At first it was a traditional playhouse, then I decided on a teepee. But, what kind? I thought cloth wouldn’t be durable enough. So I set out to research how to build it out of wood. All I found were finished images, no tutorials. A little brainstorming with my husband led us to this design.

cedar-play-teepee-tall

 

For a durable, sturdy outdoor structure I chose cedar. I’m not a fan of treated wood, especially when there are little ones involved. This was simple enough to construct with cedar 4×4’s, 2×4’s, 2×2’s and fence pickets. Things you can find at your local hardware store or lumber yard.

cedar-play-teepee-play

 

So, how big is it? I wanted it to be large enough to feel spacious and real for the kids, and something an adult can stand in too. The entrance is just tall enough that all you have to do is duck your head a bit to get inside.

cedar-play-teepee-inside

 

I even made a little fire ring with some rocks and firewood. Dad’s teaching Charlie how you warm your hands by the fire 🙂

cedar-play-teepee-back

 

You may be wondering, why the slats? While the structure itself is very solid and heavy, we do get some heavy winds here in Central Texas. These will allow the gusts to blow through without providing a solid wall of resistance. Hopefully this will keep it from toppling over during a bad storm.

cedar-play-teepee-inside-top

 

We also left gaps at the top for even more circulation, and to hopefully prevent too many wasps from nesting in here. Also, you know, stargazing!

cedar-play-teepee-setting

 

I placed it in Charlie’s play area, by the dry creek bed we made with leftover rock from our house siding. It was an area that washed out during heavy rains, so instead of battling the moving mulch we just covered up the bald spots with rock. I love the setting it gives. A little teepee by the creek.

Anyway, enough babbling. Are you ready to learn how to build one of your own? Here we go!

*disclaimer* I am not a professional builder. I am a novice. A mom with some tools and ideas. This is not a guaranteed plan. This is just me sharing how I built something for my family, in hopes it can inspire you to do your own. So if you see any flaws, please share. And build at your own risk.

 

Supplies:

Toddler Sized Animal Stools: A How-To

Fox and Bunny Toddler Animal Stools

 

Are you ready for a crazy adorable, super cute project today? I hope so! Last week I saw an image online that inspired me to make some sweet little stools for Charlie. They’re just her size, and just so darn cute. And again, the best part? They’re made from REAL wood! Scrap wood! The kind you have hanging around your garage so you can build these little suckers for free. But, if you don’t have wood just lounging around your home like I do, you can easily make two stools for less than $10 and 30 minutes. Including painting.

animal-toddler-stools

 

I didn’t include a pattern, because the charm is in the imperfections. The “template” for this project is so that you can customize it any way you like. I chose to make a bunny and a fox, but you could easily use those round ears for a dog, the pointed ones for a cat, maybe even get a little crazy and try out some antlers for a deer? Or rounder ones for a squirrel. Or bear. You get the picture. Change up the shape of the ears and get decorative with the paint and you’ve got an endless array of possibilities ahead of you!

 

animal stools

As you can see, you’ll need to keep the ears large (each about

Modern End Play Table and Stools: A How-To

modern end play table and stools

 

I love building. I love being able to express my creativity in a functional way. The best part is when I can combine multiple functions into one piece of furniture. And this one? This one is amazing in its simplicity.

 

sofa-play-table-and-stools

 

We recently needed to pass on the trundle daybed that my parents loaned us to my sister, and decided that a sleeper sofa was a better option for our office/guest/play room. The added space left me the perfect spot to build a little table. One that’s great to set a drink or a snack. And while my style tends to be very rustic and primitive, this time I really wanted a clean, modern look to match the lines of the sofa.

end-play-table-and-stools

 

Not only is it lovely, it’s so easy to build! That’s the best kind, right? Well, what if it also has another function? Like a spot for my little misses to have tea parties and serve up delectables from their play kitchen nearby?

 

play-end-table-and-stools

 

And not only that, but the stools would be a great height for growing kids, but still sturdy and big enough for mamas and daddies too?

kid-end-play-table

 

Yup. This table takes the cake. Oh, and did I mention you can build it for less than $50? True story. It’s always a bonus when an affordable project looks like a million bucks. So, how easy is this to build? Try 15 minutes and a few basic tools. Here’s what I did:

Supplies:
– 1/2 sheet 3/4″ birch PureBond plywood, cut into 15.5″ strips
– 3 sets of L brackets (to add stability)
– 1 1/4″ screws
– edge banding (optional)

Cut List:
– 1 @ 34″ (table top)
– 2 @ 17″ (table sides)
– 2 @ 12″ (stool tops)
– 4 @ 12″ x 7 3/4″ (stool sides)

 

Assemble the table by drilling pocket holes into one end of each table leg, attach to table top with pocket hole screws and glue. Repeat for stool legs into stool tops. Add L brackets into each corner for added stability and to reduce wobble. That’s it! You’re done. Sand and finish as desired.

end-table-progress

 

It’s always amazing for me to see a simple stack of cut lumber made over into something beautiful and functional. And what parent doesn’t love a piece of multi-functional furniture? Plus one that’s kid-friendly and not garishly bright or plastic? Plus, the PureBond is formaldehyde free (try finding that in the mountain of pressed-“wood” junk at the big box stores), sustainably harvested and made from hard woods. That’s the kind of materials I want around my kids! And that’s why I love building for myself 🙂

charlie-play-table

 

And have I mentioned a few (dozen) times how gorgeous PureBond looks stained?

play-table-top

 

play-table-stool

 

I believe lustrous would be the right word.

I was able to use the leftover strips from my Schoolhouse Desk Bases, but one sheet of plywood would be enough to make two tables. You can even increase the height of both table and stools if your couch arms are taller than mine. My total cost for supplies (factoring in the half sheet of plywood, edge banding, stain, sealer and brackets) was just under $50. Not bad for a perfectly-sized and styled dual-purpose table! Not bad at all.

modern-play-table

 

 



Knocked Off: Schoolhouse Desk Bases with D Lawless Hardware

schoolhouse-desk-wall-unit

Hey guys! Now that I’ve settled more into new parenthood of two (little Caroline arrived late September to join big sister Charlie) I’ve been filling in those rare double nap times with some building. One thing in particular? Updating our desk bases! See, I started out with these vintage end tables:

 

end-table-desk

 

I really liked the look, and that I found a fun and unusual way to repurpose these vintage tables. The problem? Well, they weren’t as functional as I would like. I couldn’t store things below the two tables on the ends, and there were cords tangled up behind the center table. Plus, the protruding bases actually acted as a nice little ladder for Charlie to climb up and onto the desk. Which meant a terrified mama and some broken containers. As you can also see, it was tough to clean beneath them because of those lower supports. So, as sad as I was, it was time to replace them with something else. And as soon as I saw the Schoolhouse Desk collection from Ana that Jamie of That’s My Letter built, I knew it was the one!

 

schoolhouse-base-construction

Putting the tables together was a lot of fun and really quick. I had two sheets of 3/4″ birch

Knocked Off: Tall Rustic Secretary

rustic tall secretary

My laundry room may hold the record for most changes in a year. The last time I talked about it, it looked like this:

laundry-shelf-side

I had just finished my pedestals and built a quickie shelf to stash my laundry soaps and hide the litterbox. We had our chest freezer shoved into the space left over. Not the worst setup ever, but not really the best either. Then at the September market I found this beauty:

chicken nesting box shelves

An old chicken nesting box. I decided to use it as decorative shelving. Originally I wanted some nice cabinets up here, but it would be pretty useless as I couldn’t reach anything in them without a ladder. And I’d still have to climb over the washer and dryer. So, I had my husband hang them up on the wall using a 2×6 as a cleat. He drilled it into the studs, then drilled the box onto the lumber so I could have it flush to the wall. I would have done it myself but he was a bit leery of me lifting over 50 pounds while full term pregnant. I guess I had to agree!

 

rustic-glam-laundry

 

Once I had the box up there, I didn’t really like the freezer and shelf. In fact, I wanted a nice old Hoosier hutch, but we are pretty tight on our budget at the end of the year. So, what to do? Raid the barn! My dad had a 20 foot 2×12 and a few three foot 2×12 scraps, so I decided to use them to make a rustic reclaimed version of this Ana White Secretary.

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While I really love this clean, painted version, I didn’t have the thinner lumber and trim available. But I’m still a big fan of my sturdy and free secretary!

rustic tall secretary

I even had to add a nod to the loose chicken theme we had going on with the nesting box by bringing my metal rooster in from the front porch.

secretary-decor

 

The top isn’t too different from the original design. The thicker lumber mimics the look of the trim on the original.

secretary-shelves

Those mail slots are already really handy. I’m not very organized with my mail, so it’s nice to have a way to divide up what needs to be paid, what needs to be filed, catalogs, and what needs to be recycled. It also gives me a place to display our photo albums without Charlie getting into them and throwing them around. Which is one of her favorite things.

secretary-door-closed

 

I made the door out of two old fence pickets (the same ones I used on my fireplace) and planked two of them together. The handle is one I had purchased for our barn door at our old house to use on the interior but couldn’t because of the placement near the wall. Do you see the hinges at the bottom? I didn’t have any euro ones available so I found a couple of small hinges that matched in my dad’s hinge bucket (seriously, he keeps everything!) and attached it to the 3/4″ edge of the wood and the shelf. It lets it flip open fully.

secretary-door-open

Here is where I hide the cat food, candle wax, and laundry detergent. I plan to add a latch to keep little hands out because she has already discovered the fun bottles.

secretary-curtain

Instead of making doors for the bottom, I added in an extra shelf and hid it all with a curtain. Why?

secretary-curtain-open

To hide that pesky litterbox! Our cat has no problem sneaking by and doing her business. In fact, I think she kind of enjoys the thrill of pushing it aside. She likes to hide in there and jump out at me when I’m doing the laundry. Cats are weird.

laundry-freezer

Now our freezer sits on the opposite wall, sad and lonely. I’m not sure if I’ll do anything over here in the near future or not. Depending on our homesteading ambitions we may upgrade to a full size freezer instead of the smaller chest freezer. We’ve nearly filled it up already with two deer and stored breastmilk. How’s that for a combination?! Oh, and I also took the door off to make room for the freezer. I think eventually I’ll either add a sliding door or leave it open. Not sure yet. And to child-proof my incredibly heavy secretary (which I built and moved into place all by my lonesome, I’m proud to add) I’m adding a six inch L bracket that will screw into the top of the piece and into a wall stud with 2″ screws. It won’t be going anywhere!

So there you have it. My third update on a room in the house we moved into only 10 months ago. I clearly have a problem with indecisiveness!

 



DIY a Professional Style Gallery Enlargement for $50

Professional Style Gallery Enlargement

When Charlie was a baby, I had a good friend of mine take her newborn photos. I loved them so much that I ordered some very large gallery prints to fill up the tall walls in my living room. Well, we’ve since moved, and I hung the prints with room to spare since we were planning another addition to the family. Now that Caroline has made her debut (and had the most amazing newborn photos thanks to my old classmate Jennifer Polson Photography) it was time to add to the collection! I couldn’t afford to spend the hundreds of dollars the originals cost, so I decided to try my hand at DIY-ing it. And I have to say, the result is beautiful!

gallery-enlargement

Lovely, yes? Here’s how you can make your own 20″x30″ enlargement for less than $50.

 

Step 1 – Print your photo

enlargment-step3

I chose to print my poster-size photo by uploading to Walgreens.com and had same day pick up at my local store. It was $23.99, and you can always find good coupons at RetailMeNot.com. There are office supply stores that offer good black and white enlargements for under $10, but I wanted something a little bit fancier.

 

Step 2 – Foam Board Backing

enlargment-step2

Hobby Lobby sells foam board in 20×30 for less than $3. It’s perfectly sized to the Walgreens print, which worked for me because I didn’t have to worry about trying to cut it to size and getting the lines straight.

 

Step 3 – Putting the two together

enlargment-step3

I sprayed the board with adhesive, then laid it on top of my face-down poster so everything would be flat without wrinkles. Then I flipped it over and smoothed it down with my hands. Perfect! Just like the fancy prints.

 

Step 4 – Buy the metal frame

enlargment-step4

I know what you’re thinking: Big prints mean big, expensive frames, right? WRONG! Hobby Lobby sells the metal frame components to assemble yourself. I bought one 20″ pack of 2, and a 30″ pack of two along with the hardware. They’re $10 per pack, and you can probably pick them up on a half off day, or use a coupon for an even more affordable project. The directions are a bit confusing, so hopefully this helps.

 

Grab an angle with screws and one without. Place them so the A and B face each other, and slide them into both ends of one shorter piece. Tighten the screws on both ends of the shorter piece.

enlargment-step5

 

Next slide them into the two longer pieces and tighten the screws. Make sure they are right angles.

 

enlargment-step7

 

Once your three sides are assembled, slide in your foam board with the photo facing down.

enlargment-step8

Slide the final short piece onto the longer pieces and tighten the screws. Your frame is assembled!

enlargment-step9

Next you’ll want to pop on the springs so the board sits flush to the front of the frame.

enlargment-step10

I spaced all 7 around the frame as evenly as possible.

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Lastly you can add the included hangers. Just slide them in and tighten the screws. Your frame is ready to hang!

 

gallery-wall-enlargements

I left space to add one more 20×30 enlargement. I’d like to get a photo of both girls together, or perhaps the whole family. Then our gallery wall will be complete! And now that I know it only costs about $25 to update the photo, it will be easy to change out the photos as we grow as a family. I love that they make such a big visual impact, and I can admire my sweet girls even when they’re not at home. Or just lounging around on the couch 😉

 

 

 



Antique Window Photo Display

antique window photo display

 

Back when I was working on the nursery, I found this beautiful old window frame at an antique store for a steal. So when I received Caroline’s adorable newborn photos from Jennifer Polson Photography I knew exactly what to do with them!

window-display-wall

 

They were absolutely perfect for this display! And it was really pretty easy to do.

 

window-pics-step1

 

I started out by printing my photos. The window pane openings were 10″ x 12″, so I had to print my photos at 11″ x 14″ at Walgreens with the intent to cut them down to size.

 

window-pics-step2

 

I measured each pane and marked where to cut. I just cut on the lines with some scissors.

 

window-pics-step3

 

I tried a couple of different methods to keep the photos in place, but as the frame was pretty fragile I couldn’t use staples or push pins. I decided to go with simple masking tape since I want to be able to change them out in the future. The frame still had indentations for the panes, so I just set the photos in place and taped them down.

 

window-pics-step4

 

That was it! Really easy right? Just cutting and taping!

 

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It looks so cute up on the wall! I also found an old photo frame in my parents’ attic (they seriously are hoarders, they never toss anything) and used that for my favorite image from the shoot.

newborn-photo-deer

 

Want a closer look?

Jennifer Polson Newborn Photography

 

Jennifer Polson Photography

So much CUTE! A little deer hunting theme for her daddy. Or Katniss if you’re a Hunger Games fan.

 

 

ladder-photo-display-caroline

I also updated my photo ladder with a couple more newborn photos and some we’ve taken in the past three weeks. It’s been so much fun making the nursery more personal. Caroline is such a little cutie pie!