Category Archives: Projects

The $30 Dollhouse {Before}

I’ve mentioned before several times that I’ve scored some pretty amazing finds at the Gresham Barn Sale in East Texas (I even got to meet a reader there a few years back. Hi, Michelle!)

Well, I struck gold again this past fall when I stumbled upon this awesome (BIG) vintage dollhouse.

Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

It’s in great shape–just in need of some TLC and paint. I had grand plans of redoing it by Christmas, but all the hustle and the bustle (I typed that in an Inigo Montoya “accent,” if you must know) of the season and aaaaallll of that doll-making I did definitely threw off my dollhouse reno schedule.

I went ahead and gave her to the Della, Evy, and Nola, though, and here she sits, proudly perched in all of her mismatched glory in the girls’ shared room (which I hope to share with you in its finished state soon). Not that they mind.

Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

They happily bicker-play with her for whole 1′s of minutes before losing interest to devolve into full-blown cat fights (3-year-old twins, y’all. They are not for the faint of heart. Which might be why I get heart palpitations sometimes. Ha!).

No, but seriously. The girls are pleased as punch with her current look. But that’s just because they don’t know JUST how much dreamier she’ll be when I finish with her white + aqua + gold transformation. (Apparently, I’ve been spending too much time on Instagram because I had an almost overwhelming urge to insert a heart-eyes emoji just now).

An exterior makeover is all I have planned for the immediate future, but eventually I would love to go full-on crazy-decorator-mom on that unsuspecting little house. Think: wallpaper, tiny trendy light fixtures, chic fabric rugs.

You know. In all my spare time. (And again with the emoji urge–this time for the crying/laughing one).

Oh! And the best part of all for this little dollhouse is that I managed to talk the lady down from an already very reasonable $45 to $30, AND she threw in a whole shoe box full of dolls and cute furniture!

So, yeah. Consider this your sneak peek at the before of The Great Dollhouse Project of 2016 (I can only imagine I will regret naming it that, but it’s too late now).

Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

And consider it MY accountability for actually making progress on it.

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

Project Elephant Update: The Refinished Dining Table

I’ve mentioned several times a certain Facebook Sale + Trading site that I’ve used to clear out some furniture we didn’t need, but it’s also been really good for scoring several incredible deals as well.

Perhaps the most amazing of which was this table.

table6

Somehow, I managed to be first in line to claim it (it’s a first come, first served kind of thing), and there was much use of the crying eyes emoji by all of the commenters who came after me.

It was a really great price (and I even sold the chairs that came with it because they weren’t quite right for me, so I made half of my money back), but I aaaaaalmost didn’t get it because it needed some TLC, and, since I have those half dozen children who need TLC all day errrr’day, it seemed a bit foolhardy to take on another project.

But those legs! Seriously, I couldn’t pass up the stems on that table.

And now that she’s done, I’m so glad I didn’t.

When I posted the above pic and mentioned that I shouldn’t have bought her due to her fixer upper status, I got a slew of, “Don’t touch her! She’s beautiful just the way she is!” comments.

Which I get. But outside of the big ol’ gouge out of the wood, this is what her finish looked like up close.

table

And since we’re going to be eating off of her, I didn’t think it was thee best idea to mix peeling varnish with our peeled potatoes.

Honestly? She wasn’t that hard to perk up. All it took was some wood filler for that huge gouge, a quick round with an orbital sander on the tabletop, an even quicker hand-sanding of the legs, a coat of paint, and a little intentional distressing of said paint…and she was good to go!

table1

{The top is painted SW Rainwashed, in case you’re wondering; it’s the palest gray/blue/green}

It was probably 2 hours tops.

Is she perfect?

table2

{Hello, gorgeous gams!}

Nope.

And that is so the point. I love her craggy, weathered self. I wouldn’t like her as much if she were shiny and lacquered. I like my tables like I like my people. Real and quirky and pragmatic and a little rough around the edges.

table5

And you know what else I like? Having another item crossed off my latest Project Elephant list (I’ve got another BIG one to show you soon, but it’ll have to wait just a bit longer).

table4

Now, if only I could manage to make my bedroom curtains sew themselves. Le sigh…

P.S. After referring to my table as a “she” for this whole post, I really feel like she needs a name. Any thoughts?

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

Project Elephant Update: A Slipcovered Ottoman

Well, to say that I’m a bit off the pace for finishing my (admittedly ambitious) Project Elephant list from last week in time for this weekend’s party for the twins’ birthday is a weeeee bit of an understatement.

But it hasn’t been for lack of trying.

I blame all of these small human that live with me. If only they would stop making extravagant demands for things like food and water and diaper changes, I would be free to cross things off my list at will.

I guess that’s what I get for birthing 6 adorable, fun, maddening, needy, awesome children.

Anyhoo, I have been plugging along steadily when I’m able and have found that–just like my desire for productivity comes in waves throughout the year–so my actual productivity waxes and wanes from day to day.

Monday? AH-mazing! If I could manage to do what I did Monday–homeschool, cook, clean, project, read to my girls, feed/play with a baby, exercise–all with a minimum of fussiness and fighting and a maximum of energy, I would probably opt to play that day on repeat–Groundhog Day style–just to experience again and again the feeling of my head hitting the pillow that night with a thwump of satisfaction and accomplishment.

But then, there was yesterday, which felt like jogging through quicksand. As soon as I got everybody fed, another round of “HUNGRY!” cries began. Which meant another round of cleaning afterward. I hauled almost everything out of the craft room, but that just means that our big room, which started the day clean, now looks like Hobby Lobby’s fabric department got in a cat fight with their scrap-booking aisle.

And there were entire hours fraught with fussy meltdowns over scenarios such as: toddler asks for juice, mother hands her juice, toddler proceeds to wail as if mother has served her a scorpion with a side of razor blades.

I literally got into bed last night thinking: “Well, I hardly sat down, but I’m not sure what I accomplished or where the hours went.”

ANYhoo, as I comfort myself with the (quite possibly faulty) reassurance that, “It gets worse before it gets better,” I thought I’d show one thing I did manage to check off the list.

And that would be this recovering this sad little ottoman.

ottoman

{Pardon the ugly yellow pic; I completely forgot to take a before pic when I had light}

I think I bought it at Ross for something like $30 4ish years ago. Clearly, it has been well-loved by my kids. And their apple juice.

I’ve been meaning to make a slipcover for it for aaaaaages, but it just never was a priority until I finally plunked it on my Project Elephant list (there’s the beauty of PE for you).

Do you remember my lampshade recovers from a little while ago? Well, I had juuuuuuuuust enough of that gorgeous Waverly Santa Maria fabric left (seriously, it was sufficient by maaaaaybe an 1/8″) to make my slipcover, so, using a modified version of this super-simple tutorial, I whipped up this cover, which took it from sad, stained, and lumpy to this:

ottoman1

I reeeeeeeally like it.

I’m not usually into matchy-matchy fabrics in living spaces, but I like that I can move the ottoman around the room so that it plays more or less off of the mirroring pattern in the lampshades.

And now I’m off to attempt to stuff all of my craft supplies in a somewhat organized manner back into the craft room (which, considering that it was piled practically to the ceiling and is clearly insufficient for the amount of stuff I have, could be…interesting).

Happy Hump Day, y’all! If you have any trouble chomping through your elephants today, I suggest eating an appropriately shaped animal cracker. You’ll feel accomplished immediately. Or at least, less hungry.

 

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

Project Elephant Update: The Family Command Center

Remember that Family Command Center I was contemplating?

Well, I did it.

IMG_1260 

And I think I like it! In fact, I think I like it enough to actually use it, which is kind of the point, I suppose.

To start, I hauled that big yellow chalkboard I mentioned downstairs and wrote out a simple chore list for the boys (and Della too, when the task applies), plus an appropriately inspiring verse to help encourage good attitudes while they work.

Most of the items on the list are daily, but a few will only happen a twice a week or so(trash, toilets, etc).

IMG_1320 

 

If it’s a rotating chore (like who empties the dishwasher as opposed to who loads it), each week, the person in charge of it will write his initial beside the check he writes in the box next to the task (the boxes are written in chalk pen, but they write their checks with regular chalk, which wipes off easily with a dry rag without disturbing the chalk pen, which requires a moist rag for removal. All of which means that I don’t have to rewrite my boxes every day).

To replace the ugly whiteboard fridge calendar, I bought a large (pretty!) paper version on clearance ($4) from Target, which I adhered to the side of the tall cabinet with sticky tack.
Ditto for the corkboard, which came from Wal-mart (2-pack for $8) and to which I added a border of burlap polka dot ribbon because…why not?

IMG_1292 

 

{CONFESSION: that sticky tack business was a big fat FAIL It started out okay, but after a while, it simply would not hold either the calendar or the corkboard to the side of the cabinet, even after I applied approximately 78 pieces to a 1 square foot area; I’m going to have to regroup there}

I hung a pen for writing notes on the calendar from a coordinating ribbon and a  couple of tacks stuck in the corkboard…

IMG_1293

…and then I added a basket full of  “essentials” (washi tape is an essential, right?) to the console table to make it easier for the boys to check off their chore lists and for me to keep up with important calendar info.

IMG_1308

 

Last, but certainly not least,  I found a spot for an IKEA clock that I bought because of the color (sea foam green and aqua are pretty much BFF’s, after all) even though I wasn’t sure where it would go. Now I am!

IMG_1285

Maybe it’ll help the boys stay on task (never mind that there’s already a digital oven clock approximately 3 feet away).

All in all, this corner feels so much more fun and cheerful and—best of all—useful than it did before. The boys are already loving using it to remind themselves of their chores and—the best part—to check them off.

IMG_1267

Of course, with a new calendar system currently sitting on the table because it won’t adhere to the wall in place,  you might assume that I did something different with the cluttered fridge situation. (Which you can see here).

And you would be right! But you’ll have to wait until later on this week to see it.

Anybody want to take bets on how much use our new set up will get? I’m feeling hopeful, simply because I kept things so very simple and straightforward. If I’d made it more complex, I can guarantee you we would  have failed miserably.

Anybody want to help a girl out and suggest a brilliant non-paint-damaging solution for getting the calendar + corkboard to stay put? I’d rather not use nails or tacks of any kind.

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

Project Elephant Update: New Stools for the Kitchen!

Well, what do you know? Not only did I manage to knock a Project Elephant item off my latest checklist, but I did it without any DIY-ing (hence the uncharacteristically lightning fast turnaround). Not that the lack of DIY will last, but more on that later…

So, what did I do in a mere two days since my last post? Well, if you’re a title reader, you already know, so let’s just get to the good stuff.

IMG_1004-001

{Please pardon my ashy butcher block top, which I had just wiped clean and was in various stages of drying, thus resulting in an apparent skin disease}

In addition to being an awesome outlet for me and a journal for our family, this blog is so very useful in other ways too. After Wednesday’s post, a friend who reads my blog texted me to let me know that Sam’s has the exact kind of stools I was looking at. And then several more blog readers confirmed that.

Well, Sam’s is about 40 minutes from my house, and it’s always a bit of an ordeal because I never make it out of there in less than an hour, but I needed to do some stockpiling anyway, and the prospect of getting the stool situation resolved quickly was so tantalizing that I took all three little girls during naptime while the boys were at school.

della stools

{Della had no trouble clambering up on the stool and heartily approved of it once she was there; Evy wanted in on the pic (she is buckled in, in case you were wondering); Nola was content to eat dried apricots. WIN!}

I am happy (you have no idea how much) to report that we did not have a repeat of this debacle. Nola took a nap and woke up relatively pleasant, and Della and Evy were generally cheerful so long as I plied them with near constant snacks (it was naptime, after all).

So, here’s the deal: these stools were—wait for it—$20 each.  Like, woah. That’s waaaaaaaaay cheaper than any other similar options I’d seen.

And I’m not going to lie, the reasons for the cheapness were pretty obvious since the finish was fairly uneven and many of the stools had minor dents and dings. But they were sturdy and the perfect height, plus the color splotchiness is easily fixed with paint (see? I told you they wouldn’t go un-DIYed).  So, once we decide what color to paint the island, I imagine these guys will get a coat of…something.

IMG_1020

And for now, the color’s close enough that I don’t really care that they’re not perfect.

The kids were so excited.

IMG_0966

Della felt especially proud that she had been the official tester and approver of such a momentous change for our family. (You can see some of the scuff marks and tone irregularities in this pic).

One of the best parts?

IMG_1038-001

The stools fit up underneath this little island that juts out on the edge of our kitchen, which gives us some extra space when we’re not using them.

Over all, I am thrilled with our new kitchen stools. We’ve been needing a little extra seating in there for a while, and before we could only fit 5 stools. But I managed to score 7 stools for $140 + tax, when I was expecting to have to spend at least $300 for 6 to get the look I wanted.

We’ve already sat on them for snacks and drawing, etc., yesterday and breakfast this morning, and the kids have no trouble maneuvering them, and they seem considerably less likely to fall off or knock them over than they did when we used the ones with backs.

So…thank you! Y’all rock. You helped me so much with this decision, and I am just so, so pleased with the results!

One chomp taken, chewed, and swallowed. On to the next!

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

Project Elephant Checklist {#4}

When you DIY your ENTIRE house, there’s a whole lot of “good enough” for loooooong periods of time. Meaning, you get a room to a certain point, and, while it may not be exactly how you want it down to the last little detail, it’s close enough for the time being because—hey—the breakfast nook doesn’t have a floor, and your children are still sleeping on a mattress on the ground, so finding the perfect schoolhouse pendants for the kitchen seems a wee bit unimportant.

Truth: having your dream lighting in your kitchen isn’t important. Not when there is injustice and poverty in the world, not to mention ugliness in your (my) own heart.

However.

There is nothing wrong with taking care of your home, especially when, at a certain point, all the basics have been covered, and the only reason you haven’t replaced those bare bulbs is because you feel overwhelmed and unfocused.

Enter: Project Elephant.

Project Elephant is my solution for that there’s-so-much-to-do-and-I-don’t-even-know- where-to-start feeling that all (or at least most) of us have experienced at one point or another.

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the original purpose of this series (which was supposed to be weekly but is more realistically every-few-months-ly) , so if you’re new here or just need a refresher, you can read this post to better understand what in the world projects and elephants have to do with each other.

A lot of you have commented and emailed me saying that Project Elephant has helped you check things of your list that had been nagging at you for months, and that just thrills me down to my toes, y’all. So, if you want to join in with a list of your own this month and tell me about it in the comments, I would love that!

And now, let’s take a gander at today’s list, which is all about this room:

IMG_0904-001

That would be the kitchen, which currently looks like this. (You can see the original reveal here if you like).

Good enough, like I said, right?

But honestly, one of the good things about its taking me so long (we’re talking 5 years) to finally get around to things like pendant lights over the island (they didn’t used to be bare bulbs, at least) is that both my tastes and my confidence in what I truly love have changed and grown. So, something I would have chosen when we first moved in might not still be my favorite. I feel like I lean towards more classic choices now than before, and I’m willing to spend at least a little more on something I truly love rather than going with the cheapest thing I can find at the time that will work well enough (read: that $5 garage sale pot rack, which is fun but makes the lighting situation a sticky one).

It’s not just the lighting that I’m interested in updating, though, so let’s take a gander at the whole Project Elephant list that I’m hoping to take some chomps out of soon.

IMG_0908-001

And then there’s…

IMG_0925-001

Y’all gave me really great advice when I asked you about kitchen stools a little while back. It seems we were all in agreement that the way to go might be these, so now I just need to find the best possible version/price and get them ordered.

tabouret stool silver

Oh, and then…

IMG_0930

I keep talking about lighting, which really is my nemesis in here. I have brought home multiple different pendant lights to try out on either side of the pot rack, but nothing looks right. So, I’m thinking a pot rack/light combo might be the way to go. Maybe something like this?

pot rack light combo

(This exact model isn’t made anymore…naturally)

Last and quite possibly least, we have this little  nook.

IMG_0946-001

I like it. And maybe I should just leave well enough alone. But I have this big (cute!) chalkboard (you can see it here) that would fit in the space the large art is occupying over the table there, and I’m seriously contemplating switching the two out so that I can write out chore lists on the chalkboard to give the boys easy access to it. I could also do something with the side of the large cabinet there to help keep us all more organized and together—sort of turn this space into a mini family command center. Of course, then I’d have to find a spot for the art…

Hmm…

I’ll ask you for feedback in a minute, but just for quick reference (and so I’ll have some handy to draw “finished” lines through in a while), here’s a list of all of the projects for this space at the moment.

project elephant checkl ist 4

So, my questions for you at the moment are:

1. What do you think of the family command center idea for that nook? Do you have one of these in your house? Does it actually get used? Mine will mostly be for reference instead of interaction (no magnets, stickers, or anything like that) because of the console table right there, which would make it hard for little people to reach anything you could manipulate.

2. What color should I repaint the island? I have some ideas in mind, and I’ll probably do a dedicated post/poll on that soon, but I’d love to hear what you think to see if it opens up any possibilities I haven’t considered.

3. Any brilliant suggestions for the island lighting? I don’t just love the pot rack/pendant combos that I’ve seen so far, but I do love the easy access to my pots (which I use all the time), and the space really does need the extra lighting since it only has one dedicated window, and I’m about to halfway cover that up with a shade (which I definitely want to do).

Thanks ahead of time for all your help. Your input is always so good for helping me see realistic solutions and consider options I might have missed otherwise.

OH, and what about you guys? Any Project Elephant things you’d like to share?

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

“Let your light so shine” Lampshade Makeover

A while back, Lamps.com contacted me to see if I might want to participate in their Lampshade Design Challenge, and I thought, “Eh, sounds like fun. Sure!”

I had something in mind for my office/craft room, which is majorly under construction at the moment, and I was intrigued by the possibility of making it a reality, starting with a blank canvas.

Speaking of said blank canvas:

white lampshade

Lamps.com sent me this pristine white lampshade, and it was my job to jazz it up any way I could think of.

Here’s what I had in mind.

lampshade supplies

Chalkboard spray paint, chalk paint pens, ribbon, hot glue. Check.

I had visions of a funky, embellished chalkboard lampshade with a meaningful message.

As you can see in the pic above, the first thing I did was to tape off the…uh…what are those metal arm thingies at the top of the shade? Anyhoo, whatever they’re called, I taped them off because I wanted them to stay silver.

Then I gave the exterior of the shade several good coats of chalkboard paint.

Once that was done, I decided that the white interior was just too stark and plain, so I covered the chalkboard painted portion with paper…

paper covered

…and coated the interior with gold spray paint.

At which point I had this:

black and gold

A little hot glue and several episodes of, “OW! Hot, hot hot!” later, I had given the top and bottom a nice ribbon border.

ribbon on

Now came the fun part. I knew I wanted to write something important that I would want to see every time I used this room. So, I grabbed my chalk paint pens and started scribbling. I would show you an in progress shot of this part, but I was honestly just trying to get. it. done and forgot all about any photographic evidence.

Also, at some point, I decided that the floral ribbon was a bit too there on its own and added another layer of ribbon—this time with a black and gold Greek key pattern.

After much tweaking (very different than twerking), I finally had everything how I had pictured it in my head.

This next few paragraphs are brough to you courtesy of: “Keepin’ it Real”—I don’t have a picture of it because, well, I didn’t want to have a picture of it, but my craft room is a total disaster. It has been the dumping ground for all unfinished projects, fabric scraps, clothes that need altering, insert-other-pile-of-randomness for months now.

So, if you see these next pristine pictures and think something like, “Gosh, with 5 small children, I don’t know how she manages to have such a clean, organized, dedicated space for her creating…”

I don’t.

Yet.

Although I am working on it. But if I had bothered to turn my camera around to show you the other side of the room, you probably would have literally gasped at the mountain of…junk (there are other words for this) that was piled on the daybed in there.

Okay, now that we’ve totally popped that unrealistic bubble of expectation, let’s look at the pretty, staged, someday-soon-the-whole-thing-will-look-like-this (for five whole minutes) reveal:

lampshade makeover2 wm

I chose the phrase, “Let your light so shine” because, well, it’s a lamp, so it made sense.

lampshade makeover3 wm

But mostly, I chose it because it’s actually the first part of Matthew 5:16, which says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”lampshade makeover1 wm

Let my light so shine before my kids…before my friends…before my gym participants…before the random people at Wal-Mart who ooh and aah over the twins (and secretly wonder about my sanity)…

 lampshade makeover watermark

This is truly my heart’s desire.

lampshade makeover wm 

Of course, it’s not even my light to begin with. Any light I shine is simply a reflection of the Son.

Either way, I’m happy to have this oh-so-tangible reminder when I feel like hiding my light under a bushel of (remember “This Little Light of Mine” from VBS when you were, like, four?) of grumpiness or impatience or pride.

While I was in spray-painting mode, I snagged an elephant that Della got for Christmas and gave her a bit of a glam makeover. (Make sure you read this to find out how Della reacted when she discovered my theft. It’s pretty hilarious).elephant

I mentioned at the beginning of the post that this little project was part of a Lampshade Design Challenge.

Which means that, if my design receives the most votes, both you and I can win gift certificates to buy something pretty from Lamps.com. I’ll let you guys know when the voting starts and how to do it, but in the meantime, let me leave you with this encouragement:

lampshade makeover4 wm

God has given you a unique and amazing light, and He’s done it so that you can reflect any glory it brings you back to Him because it is when we glorify God that we shine brightest.

Let your light shine, friends. I’ll be here doing the same. 

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

A shelf story (AKA: the coolest shelf EVER)

We have lived in our house for 4 and 3/4 years. And I am just now starting to feel like I’ve gotten most of our rooms how I more or less want them (I think I’ll be tweaking everything ‘til the day I die).

Part of that long, drawn out process is because we only had two children when we moved into our pretty much, sort of, kind of, mostly finished 95%  DIYed house (which is code for: it was definitely livable, but there was still a ton to do).

And now we have five, with 40%  of our brood arriving all at once in the form of identical twin girls.

Another part of that is because it’s taken me this long to more fully understand my own design aesthetic. I’ve repainted a lot of rooms, y’all. And, most of the time, it was less that I was sick of the color and more that I finally had to acknowledge that whatever color combo that sounded amazing in my head just wasn’t working on my walls.

Naturally, between the constant bottom-wiping and repainting projects, certain things that I’ve wanted to do something about for forever have taken a backseat to the more necessary aspects of running my household.

Things like this big black hutch that took up way too much space in my breakfast nook.

hutch

Sure, it’s cute, and we got a great deal on it from a furniture store closeout when we got married. Plus, it served its purpose of hiding our messes pretty well (it swallowed up everything from kids’ drawing supplies to tangled up technology to rarely used plates and decorations).

But it was just all wrong for the space, mostly because it was waaaaaay too deep (it encroached about 6 inches upon an already too narrow walkway).

Also, the black was just so…black. I thought about painting it many, many times, but never felt motivated enough to keep it to put the effort into it.

Finally, after a big kick in the pants which I’m leading up to, I posted it on our local swap and shop, and pretty soon I saw the words: “Would you consider a trade…” scrolling across the top of my phone. And I thought, Noooooo, I want to sell the thing, not trade for another piece of randomness. I’m trying to be intentional, here, people!

And then I saw who had the left the comment and what she wanted to trade. It was a friend, and she was offering a mantel, which was quite possibly the only thing that would have tempted me (I’ve been on the hunt for a decorative mantel for years).

So, we swapped and were both happy, happy, happy!

Of course, that left a huge blank spot on the wall, not to mention a very messy breakfast nook table strewn with all the aforementioned junk necessities that had formerly found a home in the big black hutch.

It wasn’t blank for long, though.

Let’s rewind a bit, shall we?

Back in November, on a visit to my crazy-talented friend, Sheila’s, house, I spotted a table she had designed and built using pipes + wood and fell in love with its “industrial chic” vibe. Plus, I’ve always liked the look of this World Market shelf.

So, I told my husband I wanted to make a tall, shallow, open shelving unit out of pipes and boards. We went to Lowe’s and scouted out the pipe (and I got an education in just how stinkin’ expensive that stuff is!), and I jotted it down on my mental “someday” list.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day and the aforementioned kick in the pants. My husband and my brother have a side business they’ve started, and both of them had pulled several literal all-nighters (which spilled into the next day as well) filling orders in the week leading up to and the week of Valentine’s. So, yeah. Shaun was tired, to put it mildly. And I wasn’t expecting too much of V-day.

I certainly wasn’t expecting him to take me out to his workshop that morning and show me my dream “industrial chic” shelf that he had secretly put together in all his “free” time, finished and gorgeous and pretty much exactly how I wanted it (one of the shelves was too tall, but that’s only because I overestimated my measurements when I first described my vision to him months before).

I was giddy!

Shaun fixed the too tall shelf (poor man had to completely disassemble and reassemble the shelf), and I stained the shelves with Early American (the same stain we used on our patio table), and then I loaded my V-day present up with all kinds of prettiness that I had never had a place to display before. 

Ready to see? (I can only imagine how much after such a long intro).

IMG_9892

TADA!

Ain’t she a beaut?

IMG_0004

She measures approximately 13” D X 54” W X 72” H. She is the perfect size for the space (because we were able to custom-design her), and she makes me smile every single time I walk in the room.

Here are just a few of the reasons why.

IMG_9893

Isn’t that silver teapot gorgeous? (Ignore my reflection). It’s sort of a family heirloom, and my mom spent forever polishing off the tarnish, so she could pass it on to me. Until Shaun made my shelf, I didn’t have a good place to display my teapot, but now I get to see her shiny silver face whenever I want.

Oh, and let’s not forget quite possibly my favorite worldly possessions: my khaki rose PiP china. I’ve mentioned before that Shaun has been giving me pieces from the collection over the last year, but some of them were still boxed up because I just didn’t have a place to put them.

Well…

IMG_9894 IMG_9900 IMG_9918

Now, I do.

 I even decided to stack the boxes that the china came in on top of my new shelf because, seriously, how could I not?

IMG_9914

I love the intense pop of color they add to my other more neutral elements, like my brand new (FAKE!) Ikea plant. (Side note: how in the world did it take so long for this black thumb to get on the fake plant bandwagon??)

IMG_9969

A few other faves are this random, quirky rooster…

IMG_9973

…this little vintage ashtray…

IMG_9919

…this ginormous, chunky pitcher from Lowe’s ($7)…

IMG_9968

…and my $6 “vintage” baskets that I scored at Ross.

IMG_9960

And then are there the pipe fittings which are so pretty they make my heart skip a beat.

IMG_9901

Seriously. Swoon.

Overall, though, I think my absolute favorite thing about this crazy-awesome shelf is how well it marries form and function.

Yes, it’s my kind of beautiful. And the top three shelves give me a place to display my favorite pretty things. But it’s also really practical, thanks to the bottom two shelves of baskets, which I stocked with kids’ craft/drawing supplies as well as picture frames, often-used serving pieces and other random supplies that I need easy access to. I even found a (much better) home for all the random technology  and mismatched dishes that were just taking up space before.

IMG_9907 

So, what do you think of my new shelf? If you’re interested, I can do a dedicated post on the details of how to make the shelf + the cost breakdown. Just be sure to let me know in the comments, and I’ll put that together if it looks like the interest is there.

Once you have a vision for a room in your house, do you knock it out right away or slowly chip away at your list? I definitely tend to spread things out, unless I have a specific deadline.

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

Gilded: A 7 minute chair transformation

A few years ago, I bought this chair (plus another just like it) from the back room of a furniture consignment store.

chairbefore

The store owner wasn’t even done spray painting them black, and one of them was missing a rung and another was missing a spindle, but I still paid $30 for both (even though if I’d found these same chairs at Goodwill, and they had wanted $15 each, I would have choked) because I loved the lines of the bamboo, the store owner thought she was doing me a big favor by coming down from $40, and—oh yeah—I never find chairs like this at Goodwill.

They’ve been living in my, well, living room (fitting, no?) for 3 years in the state in which I bought them…not completely finished and a little rough around the edges.

And then, the other day, I just couldn’t take it anymore (apparently, my moratorium on gnarly chairs hanging around my house is a mere 36 months). I was over the black finish, and all I wanted to do was paint them GOOOOOOOOOOLD.

So, I did.

And, y’all. Let me just say that if I could marry a spray paint, it would be this one:

rustoleum gold

 

It literally took me 7 minutes to go from black to gold when I was painting my chair. SEVEN. MINUTES. ONE COAT. People. That’s ridiculously awesome. (And, no, this is not a paid post for Rustoleum; I actually did get this excited about spray paint).

The color goes on super-even and covers completely with no drips (even though I over-sprayed several sections because I was in a hurry). And it is such a pretty shade of gold.

Want proof? Here’s the chair after seven minutes of spraying (okay, plus a little bit of dry time) and after I snagged a pillow from our bedroom to spruce it up.

chairafter3

What’s that? You need a side-by-side of the before and after? Of course you do!

chairbeforeandafter

(FYI: for any of you who are not into gold and are thinking, “I liked it better black,” I get that if metalics are not your thing, but let me assure you that if you saw it in person, you would not  have liked it better in black).

I snapped these pics with my phone since I was in quick project mode, so the full effect of just how dull and uneven the black paint job was compared to the new, oh-so-shiny gold is not coming through very clearly, but I did take a few more close-ups so you could appreciate how smooth my 7 minute paint job was (with no credit due me at all).

chair after   

{Look, Mom! NO drips!}

chairafter1

I don’t think the chairs will be staying in my living room. In fact, I know they won’t, and I’ve got the perfect spot in mind and will be showing you where my gilded beauty ended up next week.

Until then, y’all have yourselves a wonderful weekend! I had the most interesting junking trip ever that lasted until almost 1 AM last night, and—wouldn’t you know?—I found something else to spray paint gold!

So, now you know what I’ll be doing this weekend. What are you guys up to?

P.S. Don’t you love how I just slipped that reference to an epic, middle-of-the-night junking trip in there and then left you hanging? Don’t worry. I’ll share soon.

P.P.S. The floral pillow was $7 from Ross.

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

How to turn a metal sign into a Marquee Light

howtomarquee

I don’t spend a lot of time reading lots of blogs. Mostly because I don’t have a lot of time to read anything. But also because if I do, I get a little bit overwhelmed with all of the full-on awesomeness that is on display out there, and it gets my head a little wonky. I start thinking things like, “Well, shoot, I guess I should be taking perfect, magazine-worthy pictures like Kate from Centsational Girl, and my house should always be spotless (watch this video I made in case you happen to think mine is) like Lisa from The Pennington Point (even though she has almost twice as many kids as I do), and I should paint furniture like a boss like Miss Mustard Seed, and I should complete 72 handmade projects a day like Ashley from The Handmade Home, and I should be impeccably organized like Becky from Organizing Made Fun

Still, I like to peek around the blogosphere as often as I can, and for some reason I find Instagram a much less intimidating way to do that. It’s a little more unplugged and less polished than the full-on blog posts. Plus, I get lots of great ideas in a lot less time than it would take to read 13 actual blog posts.

So, when I saw on IG (I’m @misformama, in case you were wondering) that Sasha from Lemonade Makin’ Mama (remember her MOMbassadors interview? I’ll be announcing the winner at the end of this post) had gotten the brilliant idea to turn a metal ampersand from Target into a marquee light with nothing more than the sign and a string of cafe lights, I was impressed and mentally filed it away in my “totally doable” folder.

I should have labeled it “totally rip-offable,” but my mental filing system isn’t that precise. (And, yes, I can imagine a lot of you out there are thinking, “Um, Abbie. There’s this thing called Pinterest…” I know, I know).

Still, when I was wandering through Target one day (ahem: make that pushing my cart through at breakneck speed trying to get all the things I needed before I had to go teach a class at the gym), and I spotted the exact same ampersand on clearance, and it was the only one left…I didn’t even think twice. Into my basket it went, and I resumed my headlong rush toward the checkout line.

I was emailing back and forth with Sasha at the time already, so I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions about how she did hers. Turns out, it was crazy easy and straightforward. Of course, my version ended up being slightly less easy-peasy, but even so, it was still a quick project, and I thought I’d show you what I did just in case you too want to put this in your mental “rip-off” file. (Or, you know, pin it on Pinterest so you don’t have to clutter up your brain anymore than it already is).

Okay, so first up, here’s what you’ll need to make your very own marquee sign.

 IMG_9231_thumb[5]     

  • a metal sign with wire mesh backing (I’ve seen various other versions of these different than the Target ampersand floating around at Hobby Lobby and other such places)
  • a box of cafe lights (I already had mine sitting around in the mudroom; I think they were from Target too).
  • Spray paint (but only if you don’t love the color of your sign)
  • Needle-nosed pliers (not pictured, and you might not need them, depending on your sign)
  • Hot glue gun/glue (not pictured, and you might not need them, depending on your wires)

And here’s what you’ll do:

::STEP 1::

Spray paint your sign. (Assuming you don’t like the original finish. If you do, proceed to Step 2).

The ampersand originally started out like this:

IMG_9230_thumb[2]

It was fine, but it just didn’t pop enough for the space I wanted it for, so I gave it several coats with Krylon Sea Glass.

Note: don’t get halfway through your painting project then break to go make a bunch of little munchkins lunch and end up leaving everything overnight on the front porch. If you do, and the low that night is 20, then your spray paint will get hypothermia and become runny and just generally defective and obnoxious, and when you attempt to go back and finish painting, your spray paint job will be streaky and uneven, and your arm, leg (hair, clothes…) will get splattered with watery spray paint.

Or so I’ve heard

::STEP 2::

Unplug all of your bulbs from the light string…

IMG_9483_thumb[2]

…and work out where you would like them to be placed on the sign. (My strand had 25 bulbs, and I used all but 2).

IMG_9487_thumb[2]

::STEP 3::

This next part may not be necessary, but apparently, my cafe lights were bigger than Sasha’s because I screwed all of them in, then plugged in my brand new, super-easy-to-make marquee light and…marveled at the two lights that had actually come on. In other words, the two that weren’t screwed into the sign.

Doh.

Apparently, the wire mesh was keeping the bulbs from connecting with the sockets.

IMG_9498_thumb[2]

So, to give the base of the bulb a little more room to actually screw down inside the socket, I used my husband’s Leatherman (best/most used gift I’ve ever gotten him, ladies) to snip away tiny sections of wire so that the bulbs would fit through. Then I went back and rescrewed all the bulbs back in. This time, I was smart enough to test them as I went, and even though it took a little bit of tightening here and there, eventually, they all lit up.

::STEP 4::

Screw in your bulbs.

IMG_9488_thumb[2]

::STEP 5::

Unfortunately, the spacing between my bulbs was kind of big, which meant lots of extra wire and lots of ugly wire loops sticking out from the back of my sign. So, I grabbed my hot glue gun and glued the loops to the back of the sign so that, at least they were lying down flat instead of sprigging out all over the place.

IMG_9506_thumb[2]

And then I plugged in my super-easy-to-make easy-but-still-somewhat-frustrating sign and marveled at all 23 of the lights as they shined in pretty, glowy…functioning-ness. (If you’ve ever felt that wonderful sensation of relief when you plug in the Christmas tree lights, and they actually all come on, then you know how I felt).

IMG_9562_thumb[5]

But seriously. This really is a simple little project with a big impact, and I hope that my misadventures will help you to avoid some of your own, should you choose to keep the copy-cat chain going.

In case you need the side-by-side:

marqueebeforeandafter_thumb[6]

Oh, and in case you were wondering what it looks like not lit up.

IMG_9524_thumb[5]

Aaaaaand…just because I took these pictures and want to use them.

IMG_9559_thumb[5]

I had already bought these letters at Michael’s on super clearance a long time before I ever considered this project, so I just had to use them.

IMG_9543_thumb[6]

The “love is all you need” sign is from Wal-mart for maybe $3. And the heart box is from Michael’s as well (maaaaaabye $0.50?).

IMG_9564_thumb[5]

I really love this handmade drum from Uganda. We won it at a Parental Care Ministries auction intending to let the kids beat on it when we brought it home, but it doesn’t actually work that well as a drum (which, honestly, is fine with me). They do bang on it every now and then, but mostly it’s just become a cool decoration that serves as a reminder to pray for the the orphans and the pastors and the workers of PCM when I walk past.

    IMG_9550_thumb[6]    

So, there you have it: How to transform a metal sign with a string of cafe lights (oh, and hot glue, spray paint, and a Leatherman…if your heart so desires).

Please tell me I’m not the only one who can make a simple project more complicated than it has to be.

P.S. The winner of the “Just Do Today” print and cute apron from Sasha’s MOMbassadors interview/giveaway is:

ANDREA ELDER

(Check your email, chica!)

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):