Category Archives: Home DIY

Mod Podge Tables


Here are a few tables I gave a facelift to using just Mod Podge and paper.  This first one is just a kids table from Ikea, I think they are $25, but its been awhile since I purchased it.  I first painted with regular craft paint, got wall stickers from the Dollar Store, then Mod Podged over everything.

This second table a neighbor gave to me, but there were scratches all over the top of it.  I got a pack of pretty card stock from the craft store and cut 3 inch squares.  Once I had my design figured out, I Mod Podged a few rows at a time.  To keep paper from wrinkling, apply a thin but complete layer, put square down, then rub with finger to get a tight seal across the whole piece.  Once all the squares were on, I did another layer over the top.  This table fits nicely in my guest room.


How to Refinish Stairs


So remember when I said I think I’m more talented in the DIY home repairs then I actually am?  Perfect example here.  My stairs, the first thing you see when you walk in my house, were driving me crazy.  I am on a quest to purge all yellow oak from my house, and these were the biggest offenders.  I thought it could be a project I could work on at night while the kids were sleeping and be done in a week or two.  Two and a half months later its  finally done and was way harder than I thought.  The total cost of this project was about $200 including the plexiglass (see below).  To pay a professional would have cost thousands, but there’s a reason; this project takes a billion hours.

Let it be noted, the carpet would have been long gone too if I didn’t have small children that still take frequent falls on the stairs.  I think if I had the choice again, I would have just painted everything white.  But, if you’re crazy, and what to know the gory details, read on my friend, read on.

STEPS (all products purchased at Home Depot and Lowes):

1) Wash all wood with gritty green sponge.  I had left over deglosser from this project, so I used that.  As with all the steps GO WITH THE GRAIN of the wood.

2) Use a very smelly and awful chemical called STRIPPER (insert many fume-induced jokes here).  This began the problem of why I couldn’t work at night why the kids were sleeping.  The fumes for this and future steps were just too much and too dangerous.  I had to take the kids to grandma’s house for a few days while my husband did the smelly steps.

Back to the stripper.  This stuff is tricky.  Read the directions carefully.  You glob it on with a paint brush, wait ten minutes, then wipe it off with a cloth.  You can’t leave it on too long or you have to wash it off with mineral spirits (step 3) and start over.  This step strips off all old polyurethane, taking away the shine.

3) Using a rag, wipe everything down with Mineral Spirits.  This should get everything nice and clean.  You should be down to the plain rough wood.  Sand everything here if needed. (Remember, all these steps take FORVER!)

4) Do 2-3 coats of stain on parts you want stained.  I used a foam brush using a stain color called Rosewood.  I did 2 coats, wish I would have done three.  Everything turned out lighter than I would have hoped.

5)  This step is optional.  I did a black stain with a foam sponge, let it dry a minute or two, then wiped it off.  It ended up giving a two-toned look.

6) The polyurethane is next.  This is the worst step, smell wise.  If you can, leave the house for a few days.  If you have kids, don’t let them sleep at the house for at least a few nights. Read and follow the directions carefully!  We did two coats, fine sanded, then one more coat.  Awful, I tell you.  After this step, I took a two-week break.  It took a few days for my husband to like me again too.

7) We let the polyurethane cure for a week or so.  Then I taped everything off to begin painting the trim.  I first primed everything.  I used Swiss Coffee (Behr brand from Home Depot) since that’s the color of the rest of the trim in my house.  I used a high gloss finish with a very fine tipped paint brush.  It took a quart and a little more to paint everything with two coats.  This was the only step I could do at night while my kids were sleeping.  Some trim pictures:

8) Our spindles on the second story are a little too far apart for my comfort with my small kids.  We’ve had this not-too- pretty netting up.  I switched it out for plexiglass.  They will cut it for you at Lowes, but we drilled the holes in ourselves for the ties.Finally, done!

Anthropologie Lamp Shade Copy Cat


So I saw this darling lamp shade from Anthropologie for $98.  I needed two, and wasn’t willing to spend $200 on just the shades.  $200 is my budget for my WHOLE bedroom facelift.  These lamps are my first project in the transformation.  So, I headed to Walmart and grabbed the cheapest shade I could find for the shape I wanted, $10.  Then, at Joanne’s fabric I got two kinds of gray fabric because the flower material was shear and I didn’t want the original color of the shade showing through.  Total price of fabric (with my Joannes coupon) was $10 for both shades.  (By the way, if you want to make a white shade, look in the bridal fabrics, tons of options.  There was only this one option in gray.)  I read this tutorial I found on Pinterest, then followed their advice and got my friend, Britt, to help.  This is for sure a two person, four hand project.

We made a pattern (out of my kid’s coloring book) and cut out both fabrics.  The tutorial we followed didn’t do this, but the pattern worked really well for us.

Here’s the first layer of background fabric, hot glued on.  Did I mention this was a NO SEW project?  Best advice I can give is make it as tight as possible.  This is where the four hands come in.  We then did the exact same thing with the shear fabric over the top.

This was so simple, and if our kids weren’t throwing fits, we could have made both in about 45 minutes.

Next on the list is figure out what color to paint the wall behind the lamps…


Making Wall Shelves Out of Trim



Decorating this wall is a work in progress, but I love how my shelves out of trim pieces turned out.  Total cost was about $25 for all three shelves.  The picture below shows how 3 pieces of trim (plus the corners) make one shelf.  Its easier to make the whole shelf before mounting it onto the wall, then caulk and paint, just like any other trim.  The corners are cut exactly like you would cut crown molding (the angle is hard to get, this is the hardest part).  Picture tells a thousand words:


I painted them Swiss Coffee to match the rest of the trim in my house.  The whole thing:

All three:

Kitchen Table Map


Under the glass of our kitchen table we have a world map ($4 on Amazon).  As I’m getting meals ready, I ask the kids questions, then they find the answers on the map.  For example, the other day I asked, “How did Alex the Lion sail from  NYC to Madagascar?”  We talk a lot about mommy’s favorite countries and where family members went on missions.  Even my very young, not-yet-readers have already learned so much.  So simple and fun!

Tell it to the Tattle Dragon


Meet the Tattle Dragon.  When the kiddos tattle about inconsequential things (i.e. “she’s looking at me!” or “he’s not going down the slide” etc) I nicely direct them to the Tattle Dragon to tell instead of me.  It works pretty great, the kids actually talk to the dragon on the side of the toy box.  For one child that’s a little old for it, its still a great reminder for him to not tattle.  Us parents listening in the other room always get a laugh too!

Sadly, I don’t remember where I got this idea, so I can’t give credit where credit is due!


Plan B: Painting Cabinets Using Rustoleum


So I had big plans for our cave, I mean, kitchen.  Moving appliances, new lighting, granite counter tops, new cabinets, rip-it-all-out-down-to-the-framing type plans.  Alas, plans like that take time and a whole lotta moola.  In case you are wondering, the cost to do the intended remodel (Plan A) was the same cost as 105,263 diapers, which is how I measure most purchases.  And that’s with us, and by “us” I mean my husband, doing all the work.  So plan B was born.  A little band-aid, if you will.  It was a joint effort between Husband and I.  I did most of the painting, he did all the door removal, hardware, and some painting. Here’s the scoop:

I used Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations, purchased at Lowes. You can watch their how-to video here.
(dirty dishes add to the beauty)
We discovered there’s both good and bad to using this method:
-Best paint there is at local Home Depot or Lowes for cabinet refinishing.
-Instructions easy to understand
-All supplies come in one box. There are two sizes: small for $75 or large for $150. We ended up buying one large and one small, total cost $225. Plus the hardware, another $150.
-We like the finished product
-No samples, you have to pick your color off the side of the box, then get the paint in the box mixed. We were frustrated we were picking the color of all our cabinets off a little 2×2 inch square printed on a box. BUT, the color we ended up picking, we loved. (Quilters White)
-Great that everything comes in one box, until you run out of something. We had tons of lefts overs of everything except for paint. We bought the large box, but then had to buy a $75 complete small set for basically two quarts of paint. LAME.
-The video makes it look like you can do it all in about 4-5 days. It took us two weeks.
-We could not get the glaze right!  More below on that.
-Their system is four steps:
1) de-gloss- easy, but time consuming
2) paint- again easy, but time consuming, two coats needed for everything
3) glaze (optional)- couldn’t get it right. We tried multiple times to get the “glazed” look and it just looked dirty to me. We ended up painting over what we had glazed and left it just plain “quilters white”.
4) seal- easy, but actually isn’t clear, so changed the color of the cabinets slightly (for the worse- yellowish).
-Have enough table space in your garage (don’t do it outside) for all your cabinet doors. We only had table space for half and the switching back and forth and drying on both sides of the doors took FOREVER.
-The video shows letting the doors dry on nails on 2x4s (watch the video to see what I mean). Its worth doing this to minimize drips.
-Double, triple check for drips everywhere.
-Label each door with painters tape as suggested in video.
Hummm… that’s all I can think of for now. Any questions?