Toilet Paper Pumpkins

I thought I’d sneak one more fun craft in before Halloween. Don’t fret, this craft takes about 5-10 minutes. You’ll spend more time gathering the supplies than you will creating it.

My sitter came over to make these pumpkins with my boys. I was a little skeptical when she asked for three rolls of toilet paper, but the results were so stinkin’ cute!

Materials: 

Toilet Paper Rolls
Fat Quarter of Fabric
Sticks for stems
Ribbons
Tissue Paper
Scissors
optional: acorn, sweet gum tree ball or other natural elements

Step 1: Lay out your fabric, and set your roll of toilet paper in the middle.

Wrap 1-2 sheets of tissue paper around the sides.

Step 2: Tuck one corner into the center of the toilet paper.

Step 3: Continue tucking in the fabric, folding any fabric under that won’t quite meet the center of the toilet paper.

Step 4: Fluff your pumpkin sides and work with the fabric until you have a nice round pumpkin shape.

Step 5: Add your stick to the center. You can glue an acorn to the top, or tie your natural elements on using your ribbon.
 Add ribbons or other embellishments if you wish.
Step 7: Enjoy! But don’t tell your prim and proper friend that you have toilet paper on your dining room table! It will be our little secret.

Don’t forget! Tomorrow’s the night that we’ll be drawing one lucky follower who will win a CD/DVD car visor wallet and a $25 gift certificate for Amazon.com. If you are a follower via Google Friend Connect or Feedburner (see my side bar), your name has been entered! Be sure to check back for the lucky winner.

Hallway Storage – the Tutorial

After working on this tutorial for what seems like days, I finally have the Hallway Storage tutorial for you!

Thank you all for being so patient. We’ve had a busy week at the Pretty Handsome Home. Lots of wood rot and drainage problems being addressed, plus an emergency trip to the pediatric dentist. (Warning: Look away if a chipped tooth and bloody lip might make you faint.)

Luckily, all is moving in a positive direction right now (teeth and home repairs).

Materials (to the best of my recollection):

2 – 1 x 10″ x 12′ pine boards (and had Lowe’s cut them in half leaving us with 4 – 1×10″ x 6′s)
3 – 1 x 10″ x 8′ pine boards
1 – 1 x 15″ x 8′ pine board (had Lowe’s rip it to 13″ wide)
1 – 1 x 15″ x 4′ pine board
2 – 4′ x 8′ pre-primed masonite bead board sheets (cut to size by Lowe’s)
1 box of 2″ screws
1 box of finish nails (used 1 1/4″ finish nails in my pneumatic nailer)
6 – 1″ x 2″ x 8′ pine edging strips
1 – 8′ piece of decorative shelf moulding
1 – 8′ piece of trim moulding for the top shelf
Primer
Paint (white for unit, aqua color for behind cube towers)
Caulk
Wood putty
Sandpaper
Triple Coat Hooks (eBay)
Baskets (Home Goods)

Checking out with our 3 helpers leading the way.
I hope they have their allowance to pay for all this!

Building the cube towers:

I mentioned that the hall storage cube towers were built using Ana White’s Land of Nod cube tower knockoff plans. Ana’s towers are 17″ wide by 13″ deep and 70″ tall. We shrank Renee’s to 15″ wide and 10″ deep to accommodate her narrow hallway. And we eliminated the top and bottom shelf and legs. So, if you want the tutorial for the towers, head over to Ana’s site.

Here are two pictures of the towers after construction (before priming and painting):

Look at my Pretty Pregnant Girlfriend sanding and priming her new towers!
We took the towers inside to make sure they would fit. While they were in Rene’s house, I traced the profile of the baseboards onto each tower. You can see how to trace profiles in this older post. Plus, we marked where the towers would fit against the wall (so Renee could see where to paint the wall.)
See, perfectly traced profile!
I used my jigsaw to cut out the profile on each side of the towers. I LOVE my new jigsaw. This machine really cuts through material like ‘butta’ (unlike my previous one, cough, cough Black&Decker.)Words of Wisdom: if you are going to buy a power tool, buy a tool that will work well and for years to come. (Yes, I learned this the hard way!)

Building the shoe storage bench:

Our space dictated a narrow and shallow bench so as not to impede the traffic flow in Rene’s hallway.

We started with two 1″ x 13″ x 18″ boards. 
Then cut one 1″ x 30″ x 13″ board for the center shelf.
After drawing level lines where the shelf would rest, we pre-drilled our holes.
Then drove the screws in to secure the shelf
We cut 3 -1″ x 2″ boards to 30″ lengths, then secured one to the top of the bench using finish nails. (I used my pneumatic brad nailer, but you can use a hammer and nails if you wish.)
 
And then added another one to the backside top of the bench.

Next I nailed the third board on top of the front side so I had a double thickness of 1″ x 2″ boards.

 This gave me enough depth to support the bench and attach a piece of

decorative shelf moulding below them (also cut to 30″ wide).

Here is a close up of how the trim moulding and 1″ x 2″ boards are stacked.

Finally we cut a board for the bench top: 1″ x 15″ x 30″. And our bench is essentially finished! (We left the top off until after the bench was attached to the cube towers and the wall.)

 

Installing the towers and bench:

After the towers and the bench were primed and painted with two coats of paint, we transported them back over to Renee’s house.

Renee had pre-painted the wall a pretty turquoise color at the back of the towers.

Now it was time to go stud hunting finding. I rely on two techniques for finding studs (and neither of them requires going to a singles bar!) First, I used my electronic stud finder. It takes some patience, but it gives me a good idea where the studs might be. To use the stud finder, I squeeze the buttons on the side of the gadget. Then s-l-o-w-l-y move the finder left and right over a 1-2 foot wall section. The light comes on when it detects something solid behind the drywall. Then I made a mark in the middle of the “lit” area.

Next I use the knocking technique. It almost helps to close your eyes for this. I will knock along the wall moving left and right. I’m listening for the knock to get higher pitch and sharper where the stud is. I can also feel less give in the drywall and it almost starts to hurt my knuckle because I’m knocking against a hard area where the stud is. You will most likely need a little practice to get a feel for finding the studs while knocking. Anyway, this gives me the idea where the studs are.

I’ve heard of using a third technique. Once you think you  have located the stud. You can take a quilting pin and insert in into your drywall. If it goes in about half an inch and stops you have located a stud. If the pin can be inserted all the way to its head, you have hollow wall behind the pin.

Now that we had located the studs in the wall, we checked them by measuring between the studs. They are normally 16″ from stud to stud. And there should be a stud around the door and window frames.

So, the studs have been found and marked. Next we cut four 15″ lengths of the 1″ x 2″ boards and painted them the same color as the turquoise wall. These will be our cleats for attaching our towers to the wall.

Then pre-drilled holes on the cleat where at least one stud is. Lined the cleat up with the top edges of our cube tower. Then drove the screws through the 1″ x 2″ cleat. The second hole was not into a stud. We decided not to use a wall anchor because there was enough strength from the one stud and drywall.

 
We repeated this for a second cleat under the bottom shelf of the tower. I apologize I don’t have a picture of this, but at this point we nailed through the top side of the bottom shelf and into the cleat to secure it to our wall. The top cleat was left as is for now.
Working from left to right on this unit, we nailed our 30″ x 60″ pre-cut (thank you Mr. Lowe’s Home Improvement) bead board to the wall.

Cutting a Hole for an Outlet:

Here is an easy trick for marking where to cut a hole in your bead board. In our case, we had to cut a hole for an outlet. 1. Take the cover off your outlet. Use bright red or dark lipstick and rub it on your outlet. 2. Set your bead board in place on the wall and press in where the outlet it. When you remove it, you will have the outline of your outlets. 3. Use your outlet cover and line it up with the outlet. 4. Then trace around the cover.

We cut our hole slightly smaller than the outlet cover. After you put the cover back on, wipe off the lipstick.

Then, we installed two more cleats though the bead board and at the same height of the bench. Sliding the bench back against the cleats, I used a few finish nails to nail the back of the bench to the cleats.

Before we put the bench lid on, we installed the second cube tower using two more pre-painted cleats in the same manner as the first tower. Then nailed through the sides of the bench and into the towers on each side.

Finally, we lined up the top of the bench and nailed it down into the wall cleats and into the bench sides and front.

The next step was to nail a 1″ x 10″ x 60″ board to the top of the towers and nailed down into the wall cleats to secure it to the wall. We added some decorative trim to the top board.

We cut a 1″ x 3″ x 30″ strip of wood to mount the coat hooks on. We also cut some more decorative shelf molding and attached it just under the top shelf and above the 1″ x 3″ hook board. Next we eyeballed our hooks and screwed them into the 1″ x 3″ boards.

To finish the built-in unit we caulked all our seams and filled the nail holes with putty. More details on this final step can be viewed in this post. Then covered the dried caulk and putty with paint.

And we were done!

Approximately $300 (including the baskets & hooks) and 3 days of work produced this fabulous organizing built-in hall storage unit! You can see some of the close-up pictures in this previous post.

What do you think? Not too hard to create, was it? A little over a weekend and Renee had a storage system for her entry hallway. I can’t tell you how much our mudroom bench has saved my sanity

Mom Cave – Who Knew There was such a Thing!

If you are an addicted blogosphere surfer, you are probably aware that there are two contests being sponsored by Home Goods right now. If you blog or write about your own personal Mom Cave, you could win $250 to spend at Home Goods! And what Mom couldn’t use that?!

Enter Your Mom Cave at Centsational Girl or at Between Naps on the Porch.

So, I wracked my brain trying to think of a space I could makeover into my own personal Mom Cave. Then I realized – HELLO – I already have a Mom Cave! My guest room is just that, a retreat from the 3:1 boys to girls ratio in our home!

From the moment I enter my Mom Cave I smell sweet blooming roses,
and a potpourri of floral soaps in a dish by the window.
This is the room where I sit to sew and create,
or read a new design magazine.
This is the room I can lock myself inside and stop being Mom for a while.
Among the fluffy pillows is where I sleep…
…when Pretty Handsome Guy is sick.
(Secretly, I can’t wait for him to travel for work so I can sleep in my girl’s retreat again.)
 
The walls are the perfect english cottage garden green.
A perfect palette to display fresh flowers and greens against.

Lest you think I spent a lot of money in this room, you will be surprised to learn that almost everything in this room was a trash-to-treasure creation. You can read more about my finds for this special room here.

A small desk and chair both broken and discarded.

And this little trash bench was made new again and given a  home by the window.
 

So, do you have a Mom Cave? If so, definitely show it off! Give us mamas something to drool over!

Whether you do have a Mom Cave or not, I encourage you to enter the Mom Cave contest here or here. Good luck y’all!

Hallway Cube Towers and Shoe Storage

I am a lucky gal to have a very wonderful friend in my life.

 This is my good friend Renee
Isn’t she beautiful? I wish I could have her hair and smile.  Renee has been a motivational force in my life. She talked me into doing my first triathlon two years ago. She was also a motivator for this blog! (So you should definitely thank her for that.) But, overall, she is just a fabulous friend who I enjoy spending time with.

A few months ago Renee called me with some super exciting news. She was pregnant with her second child. This was a much anticipated pregnancy and the phrase, “Good things come to those who wait” enters my thoughts when I think about how long she and her husband Toby have wanted this baby.

I wanted to do something very special for my good friend. Especially something to help with those pesky pregnancy nesting tendencies.  I knew that she had been struggling with storage solutions for the hallway between her garage and kitchen. This was her catch-all location and it was a narrow 38″ wide hallway I might add.

Plus, there are six doorways coming off this hall. Yup, talk about a challenge! This hall has access to a bathroom, a storage closet, the garage, the bonus room, the back deck and the kitchen.

Smack dab in the center of this hallway was a console unit that she bought in an effort to get some storage and organization. Well, needless-to-say, it wasn’t working for her.

She bought this console off of Craig’s List to help organize the hallway.

Renee, really needed a highly functioning location to store anything and everything that didn’t need to come into her home.

Initially I drew up some quick sketches and showed them to her and her hubby. They both liked the idea, so the next step was to take some measurements and tape out our plans.

We taped the outline of two storage towers, a bench with storage underneath, and coat hooks. (Do you like our hanging coats? The vertical strips of tape.)

Plus, we taped the footprint of the unit. It was very important to keep the shelves as shallow as possible, so as not to impede the traffic flow.

Renee was tasked with buying some baskets to use on the storage towers and picking out a paint color for the back of the towers. She knew she wanted bead board behind the coat storage and she wanted black coat hooks. Buying triple hooks allowed her to maximize the amount of coats and bags that could be hung.

Then we got to work. (Yes, I said we! Renee helped with all the steps, because she wanted to learn some new DIY skills. I think she learned a lot on this project!)

We used Ana White’s blog (previously Knockoff Wood) plans for the storage towers, but altered them to fit our size requirements. The tutorial for the rest of the storage unit that we built is here. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy these after pictures!

First off, you might notice that the before pictures weren’t just cluttered. The lighting in their hallway was pretty dismal. Thanks mostly to a builder grade flush mount light fixture and one CFL bulb. But, we fixed that too.

So, do you recognize that chandelier?! My twitter followers saw the picture here. $10 at the Habitat ReStore! What a steal!

A pretty place for flowers and pictures on top of the unit.
Coats and bags have plenty of hanging space.
The cranberry red baskets allow each family member a place to put their things.
Plenty of shoe storage for the whole family.

Here is the tutorial for that cute little blue striped storage box above. Its purpose is to halt all the junk mail. Renee can flip through the mail and put the junk mail in there to be recycled.

So, what did we do with that big console? 
 

It is sitting happily around the corner in her large kitchen. Renee bought some storage bins that we used in the lower half for more storage.

Now Renee’s daughter has plenty of access to her arts and craft supplies.
And, because who doesn’t love a really amazing before and after!
Before:
After:

Metal Gift Luggage Tags

I have so much to tell and show you, I can hardly contain myself! If you follow me on Twitter (PrettyHandyGirl), you may have seen this photo of the light fixtures I scored from our Habitat ReStore last week! (Yes, I also have a Facebook Fan page.)

I was ecstatic to find another light that I turned into a Pottery Barn inspired lantern. And it is identical to the one I showed you here!

In addition, I finally found a foyer light fixture that I love (after a little spray paint magic). And I also grabbed a three arm chandelier that looked like it could have been in Ballard Design’s catalog! This treasure was promptly installed in my girlfriend’s mudroom (which I can’t wait to show you!) She and I worked for several days on a storage and shoe solution for her narrow hallway. My goal is to get the final pictures of the project to share with you shortly.

In other news, I’m very excited to have been mentioned in November’s Family Handyman magazine.

Definitely not me on the front cover.

My son’s closet turned reading nook is pictured on page 94. If you don’t subscribe to this magazine, it is a great DIY and repair resource. But, if you don’t want to subscribe, you can still access most of the tutorials on their website.

Running out of breath here…

Finally, By Your Hands has a Q&A feature post on me today.

Check it out here if you are curious to learn how I got my start at being handy.

Anyway, let’s just say I’ve been a busy Pretty Handy Girl the past two weeks.

One of the reasons I’ve been busy is because both my sons had birthday parties to attend this week. I decided to make a few special gift tags that would double as luggage tags for the lucky birthday munchkins. They were very easy to make and really looked fab on the gifts.

Without anymore blah, blah, blah, here is the tutorial:

Supplies:
Metal Tag Maker Rims (bought at Michael’s)
Scrapbook paper (cardstock weight)
Mod Podge
Wax Paper (did you know you can use your recycled cereal bags for this?)
Paint brush
Paper cutter or Scissors
Decorative scissors (optional)
Ribbon
Regular pliers – I used glass nibbling or grozing pliers but any kind should work (DO NOT BUY the special tag crimper tool that the store wants to sell you for $25!)

1. Measure your metal tags (the set I bought came with a template).

2. Print out your gift recipient’s name on cardstock paper. Skip a few lines and print out their address and phone number on the same sheet. (In fact, I ganged up several names including my son’s so I could make many tags at once.) Be sure the names and addresses will fit inside your tag dimensions.

3. Using the tag template, cut two coordinating papers for the background of your tags.

4. Trim the name and addresses smaller than your tag dimensions. (I used deckled edge scissors.)

5. Line up all your cut paper and supplies on top of wax paper (cereal bag). Poor a small amount of Mod Podge into a bowl and dip your brush in it.

6. Coat the back side of one of your coordinating background papers. Place the other sheet of decorative background paper on top of the first one (backs together.)

7. Next coat the back of the name sheet with Modge Podge and adhere it to one side of the background label. Be careful to leave space for your hole punch on one end. Brush Mod Podge over the top of the name and the background paper to seal it.

8. After the front side has dried, flip it over and repeat step 7 for your address label. It is very important that you position your address on the same edge of the tag as the name on the opposite side. Otherwise you will end up punching a hole through one or the other.

9. Once the tag has dried, use your template to trim the corners off your tag and punch a hole through the middle.

10. Gently insert your tag into a metal tag frame (some trimming may be necessary). When you tag fits snuggly inside the frame, pull out your pliers and start squeezing around the edge of the metal frame. Work your way all the way around.

11. Thread your ribbon through the hole and tie it to your gift! Your tag can be re-used on a lunch bag, backpack or luggage!

I also cut an extra piece of scrapbook paper the same size as the metal tag;
put my son’s name on it;
and threaded it on with the gift tag
so the birthday child would know who gave the gift.
Who wouldn’t want one of these cute tags on their lunch bag?

Decoupaging the Dresser Panel with Wrapping Paper

Here is the decoupage tutorial I promised you from the Diva of a Dresser makeover.

Materials:
Wrapping Paper, Decorative Paper or Wall Paper
Fresh Sharp Exacto blade
Mod Podge
Spray Adhesive (optional)
Paint Brush

I started by unrolling a section of wrapping paper large enough to fit in the side pane. Using my fingernail (hmmm, maybe that is why I can never grow my nails longer), I scored the edges of the wrapping paper along the edges of the panel.

Next I used a fresh exacto blade and carefully cut along the score lines in the wrapping paper (while still holding it against the dresser.) Set the paper panel aside.

Using my paint brush, I worked quickly to put a coating of mod podge inside the panel on the dresser, while being careful to cover every square inch.

Center the wrapping paper on top of your modge podged dresser panel and smooth the paper with your hands, working from the inside center of the panel out. Getting the wrapping paper lined up in the panel was probably the trickiest part of the process.

Then I followed up with a top coating of Modge Podge to seal the paper. I knew the paper was going to wrinkle, and I convinced myself that I was okay with it (being a perfectionist is tough sometimes.)

However, if you want to avoid the wrinkling, I tested the same wrapping paper on a wooden “W” and used spray mount adhesive on the back of the paper instead of Mod Podge.

After top coating the “W” with mod podge there were still a few wrinkles but not as bad as the dresser. (See, I couldn’t squash my perfectionist ways. I had to solve that minor imperfection.)

This concludes my decoupage tutorial, but if you are curious about the lengths I took to give my decoupaged panel some age, keep reading.

I didn’t like the stark black and white paper on my dresser. In the middle of drinking my instant coffee I had a lightbulb moment!

I decided to rub the instant coffee bag all over the panel. It worked, and gave the panel a nice warm “instant” age.

Later that day, I added my beachy blue glaze (all the while not being able to figure out why I kept smelling coffee. Duh!)

I played with adding the glaze and wiping some off until I achieved a hazy blue look with the wrapping paper design peeking through.

If you missed it or wanted to read more about this Diva of a Dresser makeover, click here.

Using Asphaltum Glaze to Antique Furniture

I’ve seen several talented furniture rescuers (Miss Mustard Seed comes to mind) using Valspar Asphaltum glaze on their shabby chic creations.

Valspar Asphaltum Antiquing Glaze

I have to tell you right now, I had not been very successful with this glaze. Every time I tried to use it, I ended up wiping it all off and ditching my efforts. However, I finally figured out the technique for using this glaze (on this project). The trick can be summed up with “less is more”!

I poured out a quarter size dollop of the Valspar Asphaltum glaze.

Then gently dab your paint brush into it. Dab almost all of the glaze off onto a rag.

Next, lightly brush the glaze over your surface. The picture below shows using TOO MUCH!

Too Much Glaze

This is the amount you should see when you drag your paintbrush over the surface. Very dry brush and hardly any glaze on it:

Just Right

If the results still look too dark to you, go ahead and wipe the glaze off with a rag.

You can also drag your brush sideways. This works especially well on furniture edges.

Just Right, Sideways Dragging

Here are the results of using the asphaltum glaze on this dresser.

Now that you’ve seen the technique, what do you want to try this out on?

Yikes! Someone Call Pest Control – Creepy Wall Silhouettes

Dear fellow mouse loving bloggers who have adorned your homes with these adorable mice silhouettes,

I admit it, I’ve been envious of your vermin. But, I knew I didn’t want to look all over town for those Martha Stewart mice silhouettes. So I thought I could buy them online. Low and behold, I stumbled across the tutorial to make your own! Thank you Martha. So, I downloaded the template here.

And, we set about cutting our own out of construction paper. I remembered that I had saved the excess chalkboard vinyl material from this Wallies set.

So, we used the excess to cut the mice and some other creepy critters I drew.

I’m sharing the template with you so you can make your own out of construction paper or if you happen to keep everything have some black vinyl laying around. (Simply click on the image below to view a larger size template.)

The boys had fun decorating.

And they just love trying to pet the spiders.

I just adore how my boys are fearless of creepy crawlies (both wall art and the real deal.)

Anyone else not afraid of spiders? I don’t like them in my house (and I’ve been known to kill a black widow), but I recognize that they are necessary in my yard (NOT IN MY HOUSE!)

Adding Decorative Stencil to Dresser

The other day I shared with you my french provincial dresser makeover. I dubbed her the Diva Dresser because of all the changes she pushed me to make. But, in the end I really liked what she wanted.

One of the tutorials that I promised you was how to add the decorative stencil on the top of the dresser.

I used the wrapping paper decoupaged on the side to help me create the design.

I scanned a section of the leftover wrapping paper and enlarged the scan 500% of the original size.

I opened the scan in Photoshop (but you could probably use any editing software.)

 

And cropped in on one quarter of the medallion.

In Photoshop, under Mode, I chose Image Size.

Then I changed the size of my image to the size that I wanted the stencil to be. In my case, I wanted it to be about 6 inches x 6 inches.
 
Then I printed out the design onto paper and added a few flourishes to the edges.
 
Using a soft pencil (#2 will work fine), I rubbed the edge of the pencil on the back of my printout until all of the back side of my stencil was covered.
 
Then I cut around my stencil and laid it onto the top of the dresser. Pressing firmly, I traced around all the edges of my design.
When you remove the printout, you should be left with your design in pencil transferred to the surface. (I use this technique all the time to transfer type and other designs onto an object.)

I chose to work with a sharpie pen and traced the design.

Then filled in my design with the marker.

Because I knew I was going to glaze over my stencil, I didn’t mind that you could see the pen marks. If I wasn’t going to glaze over my design, I probably would have use flat black acrylic paint instead.

 

Then I proceeded to glaze many colors of blue/gray over my dresser.

Until I was left with this!
 

I put one stencil in each back corner. And love how easy it was to do. And of course how beautiful it looks!

Do you have anything you want to add a sharpie stencil too? Maybe something you can monogram? I encourage you to try it!

The Perfect Color for a Craig’s List Dresser

I am in love with those adorable french provincial dressers. The flourishy handles are what really get my heart pounding.When I saw this dresser on Craig’s List for $35 dollars, I pounced!

 Disclaimer: I stole this picture from the previous owner’s Craig’s List Ad.

Oooo baby, don’t you just love that faux gold outlined accents and off white laminate top. Yes, I said laminate. But I wasn’t afraid of it. For $35 who cares if it gets messed up. If you never take the risk, you’ll never learn anything new, right?!

The drawers were still in good shape, but a little loose around the joints, so I squirted my new favorite Gorilla Glue into the joints and clamped lassoed them up!

Then I used newspaper to protect any of the areas I didn’t want sprayed.

After sanding all the surfaces to rough them up, I put a coat of primer on everything. Loving that crisp clean white, but the dresser told me to “Keep Calm and Carry On.”  So, I cooperated and continued on to another color.

Next, I sprayed Rustoleum Heirloom White and distressed the surface with a wood stain.

The drawer pulls got their own treatment of automotive primer followed by Oil Rubbed Bronze paint. Thank goodness they were happy with their new color because – I’m telling you – that dresser was certainly acting like a diva! She was still demanding a new color.

I have seen many Nantucket Fog makeovers and decided to make a run to Ace Hardware to pick up a small sample of that blue gray color. And I grabbed a can of artistic glaze.

After two coats of the Nantucket Fog glaze, that little dresser still wanted something else. Sheesh! So I pulled out some leftover blue paint from my dormer window shutters.

Finally, she shut up! It’s a good thing too, because I LOVE this color. I love it so much that I hauled my tired hiney back over to Ace to match the color just for you.

Does anyone else get starry eyed and entranced by all these fabulous colors?

The closest match is Buxom Blue from Benjamin Moore. Not too far off from Nantucket Fog, but you know those divas they want what they want!

Now, all important divas need something to wear that gets them noticed. Thus, I decoupaged some wrapping paper on the side (tutorial is here.)

And then because I liked the pattern so much, I blew it up and added it to two corners of the dresser top (tutorial for adding a sharpie stencil.)

I added some beachy blue glaze over the wrapping paper and the top graphic.

And I have to tell you that – halleluiah – I finally figured out the proper technique when using the valspar glazes (the tutorial is here.)

I finished up with three coats of a semi-gloss polyurethane.

And here is that stunningly beautiful diva of a dresser. Transformed from Cinderella to the Belle of the ball!

Isn’t it amazing what a little oil rubbed bronze can do!
 
 Hard to believe this was wrapping paper in a previous life!
 Peek-a-boo I see a cute stencil.

Now, I have to convince Pretty Handsome Guy that our master bedroom furniture doesn’t have to be all matchy matchy!

 Because I LOVE our Pottery Barn Sleigh Bed. 
But not the matching dresser.
 I love the new-old dresser! What do you think?

Any helpful hints on using Jedi mind tricks on unsuspecting Pretty Handsome Guy?

Update: Thank you to my readers that pointed out that I installed the handles upside down. They have been fixed now ;-).

Painted Chair for the Dormer Window

Thank you all so much for your comments and suggestions about the little white chair that sat next to our dormer window. I ultimately decided to distress the heck out of it and add some handpainted flowers. Then sanded over the painting and finished it off with 2 coats of polyurethane.

This is the before picture.

And here are the after pictures, I hope you like the results!

 
Close up of the seat.

Some readers also thought a little throw blanket might be cute hanging over the back of the chair. I am going to keep my eyes peeled for one. So, what color should I look for? Blue? White? Yellow? or Orange?

Sharing this project at these link parties:

Paintbrushes: The Good, The Bad, and How to Make them Behave

Today I have the skinny on paintbrushes, they all look alike, but they don’t behave alike! Pretty Handsome Guy and I have painted our fair share of rooms, especially dated brown trim moulding. One thing we learned early on is that buying a good brush was key to making a difficult job more manageable. When we first moved in and were cheap didn’t know any better, we bought the least expensive store brand brush we could find. What a mistake! Those brushes barely held up to one room of trim. The bristles frayed and the paint brushes lost their chisel shape.
Case in point:

(That being said, the same thing can happen to a good quality paint brush if you don’t clean and care for it properly. More on that later.)

But, if you spend a little more to buy a good quality brush and take good care of it, you can use that brush for years!!!

Above you can see the cheap store brand used maybe 2-3 times.
A brush we have owned and used for 8 years!
And a brand new never used Purdy brush.
(I encourage you to click on the picture to see it enlarged!)

 Close up of the layers of paint on that 8 yr. old Purdy!

Recently Purdy contacted me and asked if I wanted to try one of their brushes  and maybe blog about it. I said sure, but I felt a little guilty. Why? (Whispering: Well, because we already have an arsenal of Purdy brushes in our painting supplies. When it comes to brushes, that is all we buy.)  Okay, this is where I need to tell you that –  yes, Purdy sent my a free brush and 5-in-1 painting tool to try out. But, did they pay me? No. And, did they ask me to write a positive review? No. So, I am being totally honest with you when I say that I do like their brushes. That being said, I have not tried some other high quality brushes. The only thing I do wish was different about Purdy brushes, is that they would develop an ergonomic handle for their brushes. After an hour of painting trim my hand always cramps up.

I haven’t bought any ergo handle type brushes, but I have seen this brush from Proform Technologies:

I might just have to try one of these next time.

Okay, so I sold you on buying a good brush, and you were shocked by the price tag. Now I want to show how to care for that brush so it will behave for you (and you won’t have to replace it anytime soon.)

Be sure to clean your brush before the paint can dry on your brush. If you can’t wash it immediately, go ahead and leave your brush in a jar of water (or mineral spirits or turpentine for oil based stains or paint).

When you are ready, here is how to properly wash your paint brush:

1. Rinse out as much paint as you possibly can.

2. Bend the bristles against your palm or the bottom of your sink.
Repeat on the opposite side.
3. Gently separate the brush to expose the core
and rinse any paint out of the inside of the brush.
4. Squirt some dish or hand soap in your palm.
Working in a circular motion, mix the soap in your hand with your brush
until a big lather forms.

 

5. Then rinse all the soap out bending the bristles if needed.
6.Repeat steps 2-5 until the water runs clear. 
7.Squeeze all the paint out of your brush using your fingers like a squeegee.
Then hang your brush upside down to dry.
I used large paper clips to make these hooks that hang over the sink.

If you are using an oil based paint you will want to substitute mineral spirits or turpentine for the soap and water. I also try to keep the brushes I use for oil paint or stains separate from my latex brushes.

Happy painting for years to come!

Creating Minnow Trap Light Pendants

On our last trip to the beach, I stopped in a hole-in-the-wall thrift shop. The store was musty, dirty and reeked of old cigarette butts. I’m still not sure why I was drawn into this store. But low and behold, this is what I found!

The owner told me it was a minnow trap. Duh, of course it is! Actually, I’m not a fisherperson, so I never would have guessed that.

What I did see was two pendant lamps for my screened porch. I have been trying to decorate it for a year, but I have been unable to find some inexpensive porch furniture. Regardless, I am aiming for a breezy ocean theme, so these would fit in perfectly!

I separated the trap into two pieces. Then cleaned them with a damp rag.

To create the light kit frame, I used these tools:

I bent a small hook in the clothes hanger with the needle-nosed pliers. Then fed the end of the coat hanger through one top edge of the minnow trap.

Using my pliers, I pinched the hook shut.

If you pretend that the first hook was attached at 12 o’ clock, then you want to attach the second hook at 3 o’clock.

 Using my pliers again, I bent both wires near the center into a 90 degree “L” shape.

Next, I wove the other L hook (over and then under) the first hanger and bent the wires until they overlapped at 6 o’ clock and the second one at 9 o’ clock. I played with the wires until I was able to create a small hole in the center.

I ended up with this on both traps (now looking more like lamp shades):

I sprayed my two lamp shades with an automotive primer (I read somewhere that it has better adhesion to metal) and followed up with 2 – 3 coats of Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint.

For the light sockets, I purchased 2 candelabra base kits from Lowe’s.

I simply inserted the socket and light bulb underneath the coat hangers. Then bent the coat hangers while making sure to get the light kit centered in the shade.

When I got everything centered, I fed the unattached ends of the coat hangers through the shade and hooked it around securing it to the wire shade.

Then all I had to do was screw in these cool iron shelf brackets into the wall on my porch and feed the wires of my lamps through and use a twisty tie to secure it.

Now we have some unique mood lighting on our porch!

 
 

 Do you like? Would you have known that they were minnow traps?

Too bad the weather is turning cool again. Maybe I can find some deals on porch furniture now!

Copy Me Challenge

1970′s Guest Bathroom Makeover

I’ve been super busy this weekend finishing up some projects. I’m very excited and can’t wait to show you some of them.

However, because several of them are tutorials (which take a little longer to write up), I decided to share with you a guest bathroom makeover from our old house.

This poor bathroom had an identity crisis.

With its 1970′s light fixture, 
 
Harvest gold laminate counter top and dark wood vanity,
 
Sunburst shaped handles that hurt your hands to use them,

 
 
and Laura Ashley style wallpaper.

The first thing we did was strip the wallpaper in this room. If you have never stripped wallpaper, there are two types of wall paper stripping projects. The easy ones and the hard ones! Luckily we had an easy one.

Awww, doesn’t Pretty Handsome Guy look happy?!  

The walls had been primed before the wallpaper was attached (as opposed to gluing the wallpaper on top of the drywall (or sheetrock as some people call it.)
Forget the steamer, forget the chemicals, we used these tools:

  • Cheap, cheap, cheap pink fabric softener mixed 1:1 with water
  • Spray Bottle to pour your fabric softener mixture in
  • Paper Tiger or wall scoring tool
  • Wallpaper scraper – We really liked the Piranha shaver since it has a razor sharp blade
  • Or Wallpaper Trim Tool

You start by scoring the wall with the Paper Tiger or similar tool. The more holes the better, so put on some dancing music and get busy.

Then you spray the walls with your fabric softener mixture. Really saturate them! Wait 15 minutes, then spray them again. Now, use your scraper to start peeling. I truly hope your sheets come off in nice big sheets like ours did. If not, you may have to have your walls re-skimmed with spackle or joint compound.

Or, I hate to mention this, but you could paint over the wallpaper. We have two rooms in our current home that this was done in (we know for a fact that the wallpaper was glued to the drywall without priming first.) If you take this route, I want to let you in on two secrets:

  1. Use an eggshell or satin finish paint (it will not show the edges or imperfections as easily.)
  2. Take the time to make sure all the wallpaper seams are glued down and then spread some joint compound or spackle over the seams and sand it smooth. This will get rid of the tell-tale seam lines when you paint over wallpaper.

After you have removed all the wallpaper you need to wash your walls really well to remove the glue. We saturated the walls again with the fabric softener and then cleaned it off. Finally, we used TSP cleaner (available at any home improvement or hardware store) to get the walls perfectly cleaned.

Then I painted the walls a bright Nickelodeon slime green. I kid you not, but I didn’t take a picture of it in that state. My friends thought I had flown the cuckoo’s nest. But, I went back with a creamy lemon glaze and ragged it on top. The result was a beautiful lime sherbert color (perfect for a little boy or girl’s bathroom.)

Next, the light fixture had to go, and it went quickly!

 I replaced it with a four light chrome fixture.
Then, I had to paint over that ugly vanity cabinet:
 
Now that is looking better! I added new chrome/porcelain pulls.

But, that harvest gold vanity would not stop shouting “groovy dude” whenever I saw it. So, it had to go too. Unfortunately, we were on a limited budget, so I had to get creative.

 
I fixed the chipped corner and seams with wood putty.
Then I sanded and primed the countertop with Zinser Oil based primer
(A necessity to get the  surface prepped with a super adhesion coat of primer)
so I could do this:
 
 Beautiful blue water reflections
I painted the vanity top and then added five coats of polyurethane to seal it. I recently had the opportunity to visit our old house and couldn’t wait to see how the vanity top held up over the years. It really held up better than I expected. There was some slight chipping where the back of the sink met the back splash. I should say that our neighborhood has very hard water and this is where the splashed water would hide and sit. So, for the cost of paint, we had a new vanity top that has held up to use for over three years so far.

So, are you ready to see the final reveal? Here it is:
Before: 
After: 
In case you are wondering what ever happened to those sunburst tub faucet handles:
Yes, that is me, installing new valve stems at 8.5 months of pregnant bloated-ness. 
That was also THE day I went into labor!
Anyone else have some crazy last minute pregnancy stories?

 

We have a WINNER!

Ahem, may I have the drumroll please?

 Rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tata…

…and the winning number chosen by Random.org is:

#59 (well, that is random isn’t it!)

Michelle! Wooohooo! Come on down and pick up your prize:

And for everyone else, don’t be blue. I was a busy beaver in September and stood up to Robin’s Stashbusting Challenge. So, when I saw this tutorial written by Jorja over at Puking Pastilles (Great name! Don’t you think? Any other Harry Potter fans?) I knew this was a great way to bust some of my fabric scraps.

I took some of these:

 And a few of these:

And cut them like this:

 Then did a little of this:

To make this:

And because I already had my stash out, I also made these:

 But, I put the most effort and love into this one:

Because it is for someone very special to me! You!

I will choose one of my followers (via Google Friend Follower or FeedBurner) to receive a Pretty and Handy CD/DVD visor wallet. So, you too can roll around town with one of these:

But, wait! There’s more! Inside one of the sleeves will be tucked one of these:

And the best part is that if you are already a follower you will be eligible. You don’t have to do ANYTHING! No tweets, no likes, no comments, nada, zilch, nothing.

One of my Pretty Handy Assistants (Boy #1 and Boy #2) will choose a follower for me at the end of October. So, if you aren’t a follower, head over to my side bar and either click the “Follow” button or add your email address to the FeedBurner subscriber box.

Thanks again to all my readers. I wish you good luck in October!

Now, I have officially said goodbye to Summer. Sniff, sniff.