A Pinterest-inspired DIY Weekend – Part Three: Interior-painted Vases

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The last major project I undertook last weekend was some painted vases.  As has clearly become a theme with my projects, my goal was to add another pop of color to our beige apartment.  I can’t-can’t-can’t wait for the day when Adam and I have a home with walls I can paint.  I’m so over beige wallpaper.  But this is our home for now, and most of the time it’s great, so if it takes a handful of dollars and an afternoon on Pinterest to make some fun projects to beautify our home.

So – vases.  More shopping at Michael’s!  I picked up five small vases in various sizes and shapes, some not-super-fake-looking multi-colored silk flowers, and a few different colors of acrylic paint (some of which were the ones I was already getting for the painting).  The rest of the process was really simple.

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Pour in some paint, swirl it around to cover the vase (you could use a brush in some of them but I was just veerrrry patient), and set them upside-down to dry.

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And once they were mostly dried (I was tired of being patient!), I stuck in the flowers and arranged them on a desk in our dining room.  I think they’re lovely and so cheerful!

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A Pinterest-inspired DIY Weekend – Part Two: Ceramic Coasters!

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Continuing with my updates from last weekend’s Pinterest project blowout, here’s the second project I undertook – coasters!  I kept seeing posts about how easy it was to make your own set of coasters, and I’d pinned them as ideas for inexpensive Christmas gifts since we already had a set of coasters.  But the more I thought about it, our coasters were cheap, probably from Ikea, $2-for-a-pack-of-eight foam circle-type thingies.  And a few months ago Adam redid our coffee table to be a lovely robin’s egg blue confection, and I thought such a lovely table deserved a nice set of coasters.

So – off to Michael’s and Lowe’s I went!  Shopping list: Mod Podge (which I already had a jar of), a can of acrylic sealant, scrapbook paper/cardstock, tiles, and felt bumper pads.  The first couple of things I got at Michael’s – the sealant was I think $7 or $8 for the spray paint-sized can, and the scrapbook paper was 69 cents a sheet (I bought two).  At Lowe’s I found the felt pads, $3 or $4 for a pack of close to 100, and plain 4-inch square tiles for 16 cents each.  I decided I wanted to make two sets of coasters, four each, to get the maximum amount of color pop and variety.  I took my color inspiration once again from the fabric for our bench, even more important this time since the bench is in the same room as the coffee table – and soon to be the coasters.

I started by laying out the tiles and cutting the paper down to fit – I bought a sheet of pale yellow wood-looking paper and one of a blue mosaic tile pattern.

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I then took each tile, one by one, and swiped a layer of Mod Podge on top.  Once the tile was covered, I very carefully laid the cut paper smoothly on top, and covered the paper itself with another layer of Mod Podge.

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The same process was repeated for each of the eight tiles.

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The tiles were given about 15 or 20 minutes to dry, and another coat of Mod Podge was put on top, repeating until the tiles had been given three layers of Mod Podge.  Once they were dry, I sprayed them down with the acrylic sealant and left them to dry.  Once they had dried, all that was left to do was give them felt bumpers so they wouldn’t scratch up our beautiful coffee table.

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And at the end – finished product!  I love them.

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A Pinterest-inspired DIY Weekend – Part One: Painting!

I know it’s been a long time since I posted last.  All of a sudden it’s August and summer seems to have gotten away from me.  I made notes over the course of the last few months of some yummy recipes I made, took some photos, all with the intention of sharing them with you….but somehow it’s almost Labor Day!  Luckily for me the vast majority of my summer was spent blissfully, with many hours passed out-of-doors reading in the sunshine, sometimes with my feet in the water, eating good meals with my honey, hanging out with my family, and lots and lots of late-night frozen yogurt runs.

But for some reason as of late I’ve been feeling a little….I don’t know, creatively unfulfilled?  So I decided a day of crafting, doing something with my hands, to beautify our little home was desperately called for.  My problem, however – which is not a new one – is that I couldn’t make up my mind as to what to tackle.  Too many projects seemed too fun and enticing!  So, armed with a shopping list and one-too-many Pinterest posts, I set off for Michael’s and the grocery store on Saturday morning, and proceeded to spend the rest of my day gleefully covered in acrylic paint and Mod Podge.

Project One: a painting for our bedroom!

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Inspired by a post I’d pinned many months ago, I’d a while back gotten Adam’s approval (and great enthusiasm!) for my idea of making some art for our bedroom.  The wall above our bed was glaringly blank, and although I like to think we have some great stuff hanging on our walls, nothing seemed to fit that space.  So – why not make art?  Although I love to craft and make little projects, I don’t at all consider myself an “artist” – but this seemed like something I felt totally confident in my ability to do, so I dove in headfirst!  My supply list was culled from the “Pinspiration” post – a canvas, cream-colored paint, a brown acrylic paint pen, a variety of acrylic paints, and some round sponge brushes.

It’s important to note that you could make this painting any size you like, in any sort of color scheme.  I took a photo of the fabric we used for our bench upholstery as my inspiration, and personally wanted a variety of colors.  But you could do a bunch of blues or greens in an ombre effect, black and white and gray…..whatever you fancy!

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First things first – I recommend giving the canvas a cream-colored base coat, as suggested in the original post.  It makes the overall piece feel warmer when you’re done.  Again, if you’re going for a starker color palette you may want to skip this step.  I didn’t have any spray paint handy so I used a cheap little bottle of acrylic and a foam brush.

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Once the base coat has dried, grab your brown acrylic pen and go to town drawing branches.  Short, tall, lots of little offshoots or none at all – you can’t go wrong.  Just fill up the canvas!

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Now comes the fun part.  Grab your assorted sizes of round sponge brushes, a paper plate or plastic container, your paints…..and go nuts!  Sponge on your “leaves” all over the branches you’ve drawn, in whatever layout you fancy.  Make sure to mix up the sizes and colors but again – you can’t go wrong.  In less than a half hour (depends on how fast you sponge – and how fast you wash and dry your brushes!) you’ll have a finished piece.

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I honestly couldn’t believe how fantastically this turned out.  Adam and I both love it – we can’t wait to hang it up in our bedroom!  I think it’ll really add some life and a pop of color that the room so desperately needed.  And for less than $30 for everything – you can’t beat it!

(Note: I got all of my supplies at Michael’s.  The I believe 24 x 28 – or something similar – inch canvas was about $18.  69 cents a piece for the paints, $3 for the acrylic pen, and I think $4 for the assortment of brushes.)

Sunday DIY Project: Upholstered Storage Bench!

The best kind of craft projects are things that you have fun making, that look pretty when they’re finished, AND actually serve a practical purpose.  The holy trinity!

Rewind to Christmas – I got Adam a record player as one of his presents.  Music is a big part of both of our lives, and we both had inherited our parents’ record collections but had no way to play them.  And ever since Christmas, the records had been sitting on our dining room floor in musty, decomposing cardboard boxes.  So I started looking up vinyl storage options online.  I kept seeing posts that mentioned that the Expedit bookcase from Ikea had openings that were the perfect size for holding records.  And then I came across this blog post where a woman turned the Expedit bookcase into an upholstered storage bench for her kids’ playroom.  And our next project was born!

First things first – we had to get the bookcase itself.  We visited the New Haven Ikea on a weekend trip to see my parents in Connecticut, and I eagerly put it together the next day.  I have this weird quirk where I really really really enjoy assembling furniture.

Before:

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After: We already knew where in our living room it was going to go, against the wall in the corner, in front of a door that no, doesn’t open (it’s for the other apartment in the house).  And bingo – neater vinyl storage in the living room!

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My dad had cut us a piece of plywood the size of the top, so our next task was to find fabric to make a cushion.  JoAnn Fabrics was having a sale on upholstery/home decor fabrics, so off we went.  Adam and I had recently decided that we’re obsessed with robin’s egg blue, and that the coffee table in our living room awaiting refinishing was going to be sanded down and painted robin’s egg blue, and then lightly distressed.  With that in mind, we wanted to find a fabric that incorporated that shade of blue (we brought a paint swatch!) along with other colors, to continue our quest of bringing more color into our apartment. This was what we found – and bought!

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So with our fabric, the plywood from my dad, a cheap foam mattress topper from Walmart (2-inch foam at JoAnn Fabrics is prohibitively expensive – a mattress topper cut in half with an electric knife and glued together with spray adhesive works just as well!), and the nifty new staple gun I got for my birthday, we were in business!  Below behold the finished product!  We LOVE it.

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Sunday DIY Project: Bookcase Redo

Adam and I honestly love our (not really so) little apartment.  It’s a full-sized one-bedroom with separate living and dining rooms, we have a backyard, a porch…there’s a lot to be grateful for.  The entire apartment, however, is wallpapered in a beige linen-texture.  It could be much worse, we’re aware, but we’ve been looking for ways to add pops of color to the rooms without painting the walls, which we can’t do.  (Oh, how I can’t wait for us to have a home of our own someday where I can go nuts with the color…)

For a while now I’ve been toying with the idea of painting the back of one of our bookcases, or wallpapering/scrapbook-papering the back, to add some color and visual interest.  Couple that with an inspiring post I saw on Pinterest recently for some “styled” bookcases, and I was hoping that this little project could add a big impact.  Adam was 100% on board, so we got to work!

This is our bookcase before (I have a ton of books and never enough places to put them).  It was cluttered, messy, and overflowing.  IMG_2118

After emptying the bookcase, Adam suggested we paint the kickplate along with the backs of the shelves, and he got to work sanding it down a bit.

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I had bought some Valspar brightly-colored paint samples last summer for a leaf painting project (inspired by these), and we decided to go with Organic Garden for this project, a bright (but not TOO bright) springy green.  After Adam finished sanding (and went off to make lunch!), I got to work.

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I put two coats on, didn’t tape the shelves off at all….just painted carefully and got rid of any smudges with a damp paper towel.

After the paint dried, we sat together on the floor and made stacks of all of our books by color…and started arranging!  We didn’t know how were going to set things up when we started, but it just sort of flowed organically.  And then we went on an apartment-wide hunt for tchotchkes to style the shelves with.  I’m happy to say that we don’t have a lot of “things” just hanging around, so that part actually wasn’t easy…but I can’t tell you how completely thrilled I am with the final product.

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Here’s the top – along the very top we arranged a photo of my sister and I from her wedding, a nice blue ceramic center bowl, and a white pillar candle in a clear glass hurricane.  On the first shelf there’s a stack of white books on the left, purple books on the right, and in the center a framed photo of Cinque Terre in Italy and a small bud jar full of sea glass I collected on beaches in Europe.

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The second shelf has a stack of red books in the middle, flanked on one side by a little New York City-themed espresso cup and saucer from Fish’s Eddy and a mosaic glass clock I bought in Venice, and on the other by a pretty little framed sketch that the boyfriend of my roommate while I was studying abroad in Bologna drew for me at the dinner table over wine and pasta one night.

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The third shelf has two stacks of books, one black and one light blue and green, with a vase I’ve had forever.  I think a friend gave me flowers in that on my birthday perhaps during my senior year of high school.

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Finally, the bottom is just books books books.  We figured we had to do something with more of them than just stash them in a closet, and we own some really lovely and phenomenal cookbooks that I wanted displayed in some fashion. So the bottom is yellow/orange, bright blue, and white to give a range of colors.

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After we finished we made an end table-type stack out of all of my huge coffee table art books, and moved back in the reclining wing chair my parents had given us.  I love our little reading nook, now greatly tidied and classed up, in my opinion.

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The main thing to take away from this is that a pop of color on the back of a bookcase can transform the whole look of the room.  Add in some favorite photos or personal mementos, and in just a few hours and for the price of a sample container of paint and a brush, you’ve got a whole new modern look.