Painting Laminate- My First Experience

Do you have an old, tired looking piece of furniture at home that you would love to make useful and pretty? Do you need to add an extra piece to your home, but don’t have the budget to splurge on the bright and modern piece of furniture you dream about? Well, this might be a good solution for you!

We needed a small storage unit for our entry way, for things like keys, purses, scarves, etc. We wanted a modern piece, that will stand out from the gray walls and white tile (while I am a fan of monochromatic looks, I prefer more contrast in my own space). Our options were- a) get an expensive piece that we are in love with, but break the bank, or, b) get a cheaper piece and fancy it up ourselves.

We went with option B. After week of going through every thrift store in our area, and not finding a piece to our liking, we folded and made a trip to IKEA. After much deliberation, we picked the Brusali TV bench, as it was narrow enough to fit the space, and cheap enough to fit our budget. I assembled it without the backing piece, to save on paint.

brusali-tv-bench-brown__0354125_PE543686_S4

Our next challenge was- how to paint over the ugly dark laminate finish? Spray painting was out of the question, as we don’t have a balcony or any outdoor space, so it had to be something relatively clean and low-fumes. Painting with regular latex paint was an option, but has to be preceded by long steps of prepping the piece, and sounded a bit daunting. After hours of googling and youtubing, I landed on using chalk paint, as it saves some of the sand-prime-sand-paint process. According to what I was reading, chalk paint is self-priming, and can stick to pretty much anything, even completely smooth and non-porous surfaces like glass- sounds promising! I read a few personal accounts of people who successfully tried it, and figured it would be worth the shot. I picked up a container of Americana Decor Chalky Finish paint in Treasure.

treasure-chalky-finish

And let the painting adventure begin! I did not sand or prime the piece prior to painting, and just started to slather it on in long strokes using a synthetic paint brush. Here is a before shot:

console1

Some of what I was reading online recommended sanding between layers of paint, to even out the surface texture and minimize brush strokes. I was too lazy for that, and didn’t really mind the look of brush strokes. If I wanted it to look perfect I would have spray painted it! The chalk paint that I was using had pretty good coverage, but I still needed 3 coats to get an even finish. The 8 oz container I got was just enough for that! Chalk paint dries very quickly, and by the time I was finished the first coat, the spot where I started was already dry and ready for a second coat, which made the process go by very quickly. Here is what it looked like after the second coat of paint:

console2

Since Chalk paint is porous, it needs to be finished, or sealed, in some way. Most sources recommend applying the corresponding wax, but my local store was out of stock. I also wanted the finished piece to have a shiny glossy finish that is very durable, so I ended up choosing a polyurethane varnish in clear gloss by minwax.

minwax poly

I did two coats of that with the same synthetic paint brush, straight from the can. Some sources recommended diluting it with water to make it thinner so that brush strokes are less visible, and to give it more of a self-leveling quality. They also recommend sanding between coats, and doing at least 3 coats. As you can probably tell by now I wasn’t following any of these recommendations anyways, and I think the end result looked perfectly fine. The poly dries very quickly too, but I gave it overnight to cure before touching or putting things on it.

console3

I am really happy with the color, and how it looks in the space! I also love the glossy shine that I got with the poly coat, and actually don’t mind the brush stroke look at all, I think it almost makes it look like a real piece of furniture made of real wood, rather than MDF covered in a thin film of laminate pretending to be wood.

console4     console5

This process would be perfect to do over a weekend, and since it is fairly low fumes, was fine to do indoors. I can see this working perfectly for an old piece of furniture that just needs to be woken up a bit and freshened up, for a totally different look. Its amazing the difference paint makes! Do you have a piece that needs a fresh look? Or a thrift store find with great bones that needs to be modernized? I hope you give this process a try, and let me know how it goes! ❤

 

 

Smash your Stash

smash title

As I was putting away all my craft supplies after our move, I got to thinking- I have A LOT of craft supplies! I have already briefly addressed my habit of accumulating an unnecessary amount of crafting supplies in my previous post, so I got to thinking. What if… for a whole year I didn’t buy any more crafting supplies, and only used what I had? Crazy and extreme, I know! But I think it would be a good idea for a couple of reasons:

1) It will make space for more…. Just kidding! But it would help if it took up less space. So if I use it up without replenishing = more space!

2) It will challenge me to create within restrictions. From my experience, that is usually when I come up with the best and most creative ideas.

3) It will reinforce my “consume less” attitude that I already apply to other aspects of my life.

So- will it be difficult? You bet! But I am willing to give it a try. I know 1 year is a long time, but I figured with the size of my stash it will definitely last me that long. Also, a caveat- gifts don’t count! (Haha you knew there had to be a loop hole!).

Feel free to tag along with me on this challenge, or share your experiences of working from your stash!

Craft-worthiness

Most of the time when I make something, I do so for the sole purpose of meeting a personal need, or satisfying a crafting urge. Maybe I want to try and learn a new technique, or maybe I’m trying to use up some scraps and challenge myself to make something special out of what’s around the house.

Sometimes, I make something with the purpose of giving it to someone else. Sometimes I only realize that after an item is complete, or after I owned it for a little while. When I make something it takes some time and effort, so I want to make sure that the person I give it to can appreciate it and put it to good use.

What makes a person craft-worthy?

Has this ever happened to you- you plan out a project, collect your materials, spend time and effort putting it together, and gift it to someone, only to have them seem unappreciative or dismissive? I will admit, it has happened to me on multiple occasions!

To me, a handmade gift trumps a store-bought one hands down. However, not all people see it that way! I have realized that some people see a handmade gift as a cop-out, a cheaper alternative to actually buying something, or an immature gesture.

It can be easy to feel offended by their perspective, but a much better approach is to weed out those people and only make things for the people who you know will appreciate your effort and cherish the result.

Here’s two personal stories, to help illustrate my point:

Christmas 2014- I was practicing loom knitting and made myself an infinity scarf, and had multiple compliments on it from family and friends (even without telling them I made it). I then decided to knit infinity scarves for all of the women in my family and friends circle. I got a head start and was able to finish all of them just in time for gift giving. My mom loved hers, and wore it proudly throughout the remainder of winter. My SO’s aunt said it is a nice color, then put it aside and never wore it.

IMG_20150711_131908Summer 2015- I made an up-cycled beer bottle vase (featured here) and displayed it prominently on our dining table. Every time my friend would come by she would comment how much she liked it, and when I told her I made it she was visibly impressed. She recently moved to a new place, so I decided to make one for her and give it as a housewarming gift, as I know she will appreciate it and enjoy it in her new home.

What are your craft gifting stories? How do you decide if a person is craft-worthy? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

When your decor budget = $0

Starting from scratch. That’s a daunting thought, right? But what if that was the case: empty space, zero budget, go. How would you make it comfortable, stylish, YOU?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Up-cycle and reuse: when your pockets are empty, work with what you’ve got! Anything you can get your hands on that can be re-purposed using existing materials will work. A few examples of this are my toilet paper roll wall decor, beer bottle up-cycle, and bunting.

Hand me downs: there is NO shame in accepting previously loved pieces from friends or relatives. They may not be ideal, but they can definitely get you started! Stuck with an ugly hand me down sofa? Here are some ideas.

Learn to love simplicity: I know it can be tempting to want to fill all those shelves, hang something on every wall, and have cushions in every color and pattern. These are the things that make your space YOURS. However, restrain yourself from over-stuffing your space, as it can quickly become cluttered, fussy looking, and dust collecting! I don’t mean go totally zen and minimalist, but leaving your space relatively empty has a calming effect, makes your space feel larger and cleaner, and is great on a budget! Don’t believe me? Check out these spaces:

dorm1     bedroom

living room     dorm2


What would you do if you had to start from scratch with a $0 budget? Leave your tips in the comments! 🙂

Dining Room Decor

dining room

So previously I have shared with you some mini-transformations of different spaces in our apartment (See my vanity area here, and my SO’s office here). We have been living in our current place about 6 months, so most spots are already the way we like them, so I figure I should share that with you also!

First up, our dining room!

Now, our apartment is fairly small, so it’s not really a dining ROOM per-say, more of a dining area, that is a corner between the kitchen and the living room.

Table: We got it ‘as-is’ (previously returned) at IKEA. This table is much smaller then the previous one we had, but I really like the simple and sleek look and the color.

Chairs: Got them for about $20 each at Superstore. Yes, we bought our dining room chairs at a grocery store. Don’t judge. The curved shape makes them comfy and they are light enough that we can move them around easily for company.

Art: Got it at Home Sense for about $25. I originally was not a fan of the strong colors, but my SO convinced me otherwise, and since then we always get compliments on it!

Table decor: My DIY bottle vase made for FREE. See the DIY here.

I will continue to share other parts of our space in future posts, so check back soon! ❤

Easy and FREE Pennant Bunting DIY

bunting 2

If you are like me, you have probably been pinning and coveting all these awesome bunting ideas that are so popular for parties or room decor. I wanted to make something like that, but didn’t have a budget for materials. So I decided to make one for free!

I used:

– Cereal/ cardboard-y food box

– Washi tape

– Ribbon / yarn / string / twine, etc.

– (I’m assuming you already have scissors, a pen, and hole punch)

bunting 3

I decided to do a notched shape, but the traditional triangular shape will work perfectly. Cut out your shapes, and decorate them to your liking. String them up and you’re done!

letters

I like bunting with lettering, so I decided to go with “HOME” for the entrance to our apartment. I used a regular black pen, and doodled / zen-tangled the insides of the letters, which by the way is a very calming process!

Lesson: If you are craving a craft but have no budget, there is always a way! Use things you already have, and make something out of nothing 🙂

bunting project

Stop pinning, Start making!

PINNING PIC

For most creative people, inspiration is everywhere! There is nothing bad about seeing a project and getting that spark to make it. Where it gets bad though, is when you have 1,000 pins on your “Crafts” board on Pinterest, and none of those have actually been made. The whole point of inspiration is to give you that ‘ZING’ moment where you go “this is awesome! Such a good idea! I should totally make this!”. What often happens though, is we get so carried away with so many amazing inspiring ideas, that we never get the chance to let our own creativity emerge by actually making something. It’s like “pinning paralysis”, where the more creative ideas we are exposed to, the less likely we are to feel confident about actually making anything. So the next time you run across that awesome candy buffet, or that great gift idea for a close friend, or a gorgeous decor project, keep the following in mind:

Supplies: do I already have what it takes to make this? How much would it cost for tools and ingredients? Is this a material I have never worked with before?

Time: How long would this take to make? Am I likely to finish it all in one go? Or will I start it and then forget abut it for a few months? Is now a good time for me to commit to a more serious project?

Necessity: Do I need this in my life? Am I going to thank myself later for making this? Or is this just going to add to the clutter in my life? If I am making this for someone else, will they appreciate it enough for it to be worth making? (more about craft-worthiness in a future post)

I know it seems harsh or limiting to think so critically about your sources of inspiration. The point of this is not to restrict creativity, but to make sure it is directed at the right things. Think about it: if you find a source of inspiration, then soon you act upon it and make something wonderful, you will feel even more motivated and excited about continuing your creativity. If, however, you continue to endlessly pin incredible ideas that linger and never come to fruition, you may end up feeling your creativity is stilted and blocked. (more on how to overcome that in a future post)

So go ahead, take on a project that has been sitting in one of your boards for a while, and make it your own! Take pride in fulfilling that original spark of inspiration and expressing your creativity.

Got an inspiring Pinterest project to share? Leave a link in the comments, and I might just feel inspired and make it!

Home Office Transformation

A home office may not be a requirement for everyone, but for those of us who prefer a designated space for studying, catching up on paperwork, or even taking work home, it is essential.

When putting together a home office, think about your specific needs. What is the space going to be used for? What are your must-haves for the space? How much time will you be spending in that space?

Here are a few more things to consider:

Lighting– if it is possible to have your work space near a window for natural light it is preferred. However, for some it is a distraction, or creates too much glare. Think about the optimal lighting you would need for the type of tasks done in the space. Is the general light in the room causing you to cast a shadow on the work-space? Consider adding a desk lamp for more focused task light.

Ergonomics– this may not be at the top of your priorities, but if you are planning to spend a few hours a day in your home office space, it would be nice not to be sore afterwards. Make sure when seated your knees are at a 90 degree angle, and that your shoulders and elbows are not strained to reach for things like the keyboard or mouse.

Storage– try and have your essentials within an arm’s reach. It is fine to store other items separately, but for increased productivity keep daily use items quickly accessible and frequently replenished as needed.

The home office I am featuring next is mainly used for studying and doing work tasks on the computer. It needed to be functional and sleek at the same time, as well as keeping it within budget!

office b+a

The cork board / white board combo, pen cup, and stacking paper shelf were all purchased at the thrift store, for under $10 altogether. I decided to give the board a quick coat of paint (which I already had from a previous project) to inject some color into the space, as it would be rather monochrome otherwise.

board b+a

Let me know what you think, and what your home office must-haves are in the comments!

Re-cycle, Re-use, Re-purpose: why buy new?

3 r's

One of the biggest issues I have faced as a crafter and maker is the constant temptation of buying new things. New supplies, new tools, new materials, anything that is new and shiny catches my eye like a magpie. Have you ever been to a craft store and felt like you could spend HOURS just browsing the aisles, touching everything, dreaming up all the wonderful projects you could accomplish if only you had that one thing…

I feel you. This is a challenge for me from a few aspects:

1) Budget– I simply cannot afford to splurge and go all out on craft supplies.
2) Space– I live in a small space so cannot afford the extra square footage to store all the STUFF.

So how do I satisfy that craft craving without breaking the bank and qualifying as a clinical hoarder?
I try to re-use, re-cycle, and re-purpose things I already have at home in new ways, spicing them up with a bit of imagination, and shuffle things around in an unexpected way. Here are a few examples:

Tea tins. I love tea and my family and friends know it so they always gift me tea, which usually comes in sturdy tins. A normal person might throw these out after their original purpose has been served, but I try and find ways to put this perfectly usable container to good use.

Gift wrap. Yes, I am THAT person that tries to open their gifts carefully so that the beautiful paper it came wrapped in can be used another time. Same goes for ribbon, bows, tissue paper, and gift bags. I don’t usually re-use the paper to wrap a present though, but more to create paper-crafts or decorate other items around the house.

Jars. This is an obvious one, as that is a pretty common item to re-use. Depending on the size, I use old food jars to store pens, hair accessories, homemade dry shampoo, and q-tips. These also make the perfect container / shaker for homemade salad dressing!

In some cases, it is not enough to just use the things you have, and a little something extra is needed. For budget reasons, I try to purchase most of my additional project materials and supplies from either the dollar store, or a thrift store. You will be pleasantly surprised at the stuff you’ll find!

You will notice that the majority of the projects and DIY ideas features on this site are either re-used, re-cycled, or re-purposed in some way. That is because those types of projects inspire me the most: the challenge of creating something beautiful out of something ordinary. I hope my projects inspire you to re-think your space and the items within it, and make something awesome!