Monday, December 30, 2013

DIY Christmas Gifts?

And just like that, Christmas is over! I feel like it always sneaks up on me and then is gone way too fast. I've been thinking about summertime a lot the past few days and dying for some sun and heat!! Hopefully we have another freak spring day soon. I can't wait to sit on the beach and look at this....

Back to Christmas - This year, I told my family they were all getting homemade gifts. They were skeptical at best but at least glad that I would be saving some money. I must admit that I was worried that they would be thrown in the junk pile immediately. Overall, I think my first DIY Christmas turned out pretty well! (Although hopefully I'll be able to upgrade my gifts/plan ahead next year) 

My dad has always been the hardest to buy for - what do you get the man who has everything? or dads in general? Clothes, underwear, and deodorant. Maybe a book or two? The best present that I ever got my dad was an electric wine bottle opener - I mean really, how can you top that? Turns out, figuring out what to make for him wasn't nearly as hard. I recently bought ModPodge and was looking for a craft to try it on. I saw a few pins about coasters and decided that would be a great idea. 

[Map Mod-Podge coasters]

These turned out to be super easy. I bought these cork coasters at Target and some map scrapbook paper at AC Moore. I tried to stick with a similar color scheme. I simply made a stencil (the hardest part of this project) and cut out eight circles to fit the coasters. I used a small foam brush to put a thin layer of ModPodge on the coaster then I fit the circular map on top. I put another thin layer of ModPodge on top of the map and voila!! A map coaster. It was super quick to dry and very easy!

[fabric covered bulletin board]

Next up: my sister. She's a freshman in college and her dorm walls could use some decoration...and she  some organization. I bought a bulletin board at target (less than $10) and some fabric at JoAnn's. I tried to match the green and navy colors in her comforter. I used spray adhesive to spray the cork part only - I tried to avoid the wooden edges. Then - I carefully laid the fabric over it. This was my first time using spray adhesive and it was sticky!! (Duh.) Once the fabric was down, it was very difficult to reposition. I tried to keep the pattern as straight as possible although you can see it does have a bit of an angle. Next, I placed these furniture tacks around the edges. I pulled the fabric taught around the back and just staple gunned the fabric every few inches. I bought a plain wooden T (for Tess) at Michael's and painted it with some navy Martha Stewart paint I had. I also used spray adhesive to attach this. I was a bit worried about it's holding power but was out of hot glue sticks. Turned out great! It's nice and sturdy and hasn't fallen off yet. 

[gold & white polka dot napkins]

Normally for my mom's presents (Christmas, birthday, etc.), I go to the mall and pick out a few things that I would really like. We have similar taste and let's face it, I usually end up borrowing it at some point. This DIY present was no different. I've been obsessed with gold and white recently and thought they would look nice on napkins. I got these napkins weeks ago on clearance and Bed Bath & Beyond. I bought eight and I think they came to $10 total - what a steal. I mixed white and gold paint with Martha Stewart's fabric medium and got to work. I used these foam pouncers and started stamping! I used a slightly larger stamp for the sparkly gold paint and a smaller one for the white. As you can see, I was very methodical about the stamping. There is the same pattern on every napkin - next time, I'm hoping I can break my OCD and be a little more sporadic. Either way, I think they turned out great. A quick press with the iron to set the paint and they are ready for use! 

So there it is - my first DIY Christmas. Next year, I'm hoping to plan ahead and maybe make some larger/more elaborate presents. Overall, I would call these projects a success! Did anyone else make their Christmas presents this year? I would love to hear about them. 

Next up, I have to tackle the coffee table project I've been putting off.....Stay tuned! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

3.5 Years of Bad Luck - Fail!

I recently found out about Rust-oleum's Mirror Effect spray paint and wanted to try it out. I bought this window frame from Target to use as my first victim.

I must admit, I know I chose the easy way out. I was originally looking at used window panes on Craigslist but when I saw this for only $35 at Target, I had to take the bait. The idea of driving an hour to pick it up, sanding, repairing, and only saving about $10-$15 suddenly didn't sound so appealing. 

The spray paint will supposedly turn any glass into a mirror, neat! I thought perhaps I should test it out first...before applying it to my Target frame. I bought this lovely piece of art at Good Will (59 cents) to test it on...


I removed the glass from the frame, spread out some newspaper, and got to work. The can says to apply five thin coats of the paint to the back side of the glass. 

[first coat drying]

[fifth coat drying]

The picture above is that of the back side of the mirror - so not the side that you would be looking into. Looked great already though. After it dried, in my excitement, I picked up the glass and went twirling around to show everyone. This was the result....

My first thought was "shoot! does this mean I am going to have seven years of bad luck"??? Since this wasn't technically a real mirror, I'm thinking three and a half years would be fair. Yeah? In the picture above, you can sort of see the effects. Before I dropped it, I could see myself quite clearly (you'll just have to take my word on that one). 

This Christmas, I'm making presents for my entire family. Once I've finished those (it's a race to the finish line), I'll start working on my windowpane "mirror". Lots of exciting projects ahead in the new year, including a new coffee table! 

Wallet Smart Bar Cart

I have been hunting the internet for a great bar cart for months now. Unfortunately, most of them are way out of my limited price range ($50 tops). Most of the ones I loved were $400+ - wowzers. I was looking for an old-fashioned gold and glass cart. Instead of shoveling out a third of a paycheck, I turned to Pinterest from some bar cart DIY tips.

I saw a few that came from this IKEA cart and decided that this would be a perfect starter cart for me. It certainly does not look glamorous or even remotely pretty but I'm trying to see the forest for the trees here. I checked Craigslist to see if I could get this cart for any less than the $25 sale price and closer than the 45 minute+ drive to my local IKEA. And I found one! I dragged my (once again) ever patient boyfriend to an apartment in the city to pick up the cart. Luckily, it was in great shape. After a Lysol wipe-down and a screw from my local hardware store, this thing was a beauty....almost.

[phone books were delivered just in time to weigh down my tarp]

I took advantage of the uncharacteristically beautiful December weather this weekend (70 degrees in DC) and busted out my spray paint. After quite a few coats of Krylon Metallic Gold spray paint, I let this guy dry outside...and got quite a few looks from my neighbors. 


I loved it already. I was so impatient to get it inside to set up I barely let it dry all the way. Here it is! The finished product - it's not everything I want in a bar cart but it's a pretty good start. Now I just have to start drinking cocktails....maybe a gimlet this evening :) 

Best part is - this whole thing (cart, paint, screw) was less than $25!!! Not only does it significantly improve the look of the apartment, but the fact that it was SO inexpensive makes me ridiculously happy. Next, I'm looking for a few little wall hangings (perhaps a cute drinking saying or a colorful bottle of wine) to put on either side of the mirror. I would call this one a success! 

From Drab to Fab

For the past few weeks, I've been trying to turn my apartment into a really bright, enjoyable, and comfy space. Most of my furniture was gleaned from my parents basement and old living room. Much of it is very dark and heavy -- not my idea of bright and enjoyable! I've been working to pick up a few pieces of my own as well as rehabbing some of the items I have.

I've been staring at THIS ugly mirror for about two years now. My mom picked it up at a flea market and passed it on to me. I love the size and the shape of it, but the color was just not doing it for me...

 I thought this would be a great candidate for some spray paint. First, I covered the mirror with painter's tape - the perfectionist in me had too much fun using my new Xacto knife to cut the edges. Next, I sprayed two coats of Kilz Original primer - the spray paint version. The first coat provided moderate coverage and after the second, I had a nice white mirror.

[mirror after two coats of primer]

*I should mention this is my first spray painting venture. I then applied two thin coats of Krylon Gloss White spray paint to add a nice shine.  

[post-spray paint]

I'm extremely happy with how the results turned out! Much better than the inherited brown-y brass color this mirror was before. And super excited with how my first turn with spray paint went! The whole project was super easy and only took about an hour (excluding drying time). Just this small change will brighten up my apartment immensely - and looks great over my "new" bar cart! 

[bar cart post coming soon!]

Thursday, December 19, 2013

First Flop

Well - here it is! My first After months of watching HGTV, pouring over blogs, and watching my favorite bloggers effortlessly (ha!) turn old to new, I decided it was my turn. I scored this cabinet for FREE on craigslist and was super excited to "quickly" paint it and replace the knobs. 

I should have known when we walked into a cluttered, dirty, curry-smelling house that I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Once I got the cabinet into my apartment, I noticed that it was a cheap and covered with veneer, peeling around the edges. Not knowing much, I decided to start peeling it. And I peeled...and peeled...and peeled...

I peeled for about an hour and a half - making very little progress. You can see my excitement when I pulled off a gigantic strip. After much effort and little progress, I scratched that idea and decided to hold off til the weekend. I borrowed a sander from my co-worker and thought that that would do the trick! (NOTE: I had not done any research on how to remove/paint laminate furniture *rookie mistake)

So come the weekend, we sanded...and sanded...and sanded. My dearest and ever-patient boyfriend even pitched in to help. After almost three hours of sanding, we BARELY got the top of the cabinet sanded. Is this how much work every DIY project takes? This is for the birds. We called it a day and headed inside to have some wine. Finally I did some research on how to remove laminate. I learned that steaming might help get it off - this seemed better than my endless scraping with a spackle knife. 

At this point, perhaps due to frustration, I stopped taking pictures. I bought an old iron ($4) at the local Good Will so I didn't ruin mine. The next morning, I woke up full of enthusiasm (and caffeine) ready to go. Steaming worked great! I quickly removed an entire layer of the veneer  and was super excited! Until I realized that there was a layer under that. Thinking back now, I should have stopped, sanded, and then painted but I persevered and tried to remove the last layer. Because of all the moisture, I ended up ruining the actual wood beneath the laminate. It was bubbly and soggy and unfortunately, not going to work for my ideal bar cart. 

For a few hours, I was defeated and quite down. Then I realized that perhaps I started on too grand of a project. Next up: something simple!!! 


First post! Welcome to my blog - here I hope to share my projects (successes AND failures), plans, and apartment-living plights. I'm a beginner DIY-er and hope to document my journey into an expert. I have a few projects under my belt and will begin with them. Stay tuned! Here's a bit of what's to come:

My first Craigslist freebie/DIY/fail

Ugly Christmas SKIRT Party