Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The little black.... towel hanger

We have a tiny little "galley style" bathroom with an almost non-existent square footage. As you enter there's a little path for you to make it to the toilet at the far end of the space. This scenic route will take you past a door to the bathroom closet on your immediate right, then the ravishing view of the sink on your left hand side and afford you the breathtaking panorama of the bathtub/shower combo on your right. To make going to the bathroom even more interesting you have the luxury of peering over the edge of the bathtub while seated on the facilities. Ok, all this to prove that the space is small :)You can see some pics at the end of my previous post.

There's two towel bars in there - one for me and one for the house band (kids aren't quite old enough to need one of their own yet). But overnight guests have nowhere to put their towels and there's just no extra hanging space for anything. So we needed some towel hangers. 

Previous owners had left little screw holes in the closet door which made me think of putting the hanger up there, right on the door. I even went so far as to buy a beautiful hanger from Target in dark brown with oil rubbed bronze hooks only to find when I got home that it was too long and therefore wouldn't fit on the door. Too beautiful to part with it went into the bedroom instead where it's doing a wonderful job of keeping our odds and ends off the floor. Later trips to both Target and Walmart revealed that the ready made hangers they had were indeed to long or way to short for what I needed. Too bad since they were both beautiful and inexpensive.

So, I had to make something myself. Luckily I had my beloved pallets in the garage to use for the materials. I got two boards off and cut them to size, about 22 inches long to correspond with the screw holes in the door where I wanted it to go, without interfering with the opening and closing of said door. For the design I knew I wanted something Moroccan/Indian looking since that is what I love, but with a twist.

I found a design I liked on my Tazo tea box (tea packaging have a lot of great designs, make sure to keep your eyes open for inspiration while you sip) so after ripping the box apart and cutting out the part I wanted I stuck it in the scanner to get a digital replica. This is what I got. I liked the curvy top part of this design, it struck me as Indian looking.

I use Blockposters' excellent and free services to blow up my designs to the right size (as you can read more about here and here). The two boards I had were about 3.5 inches wide and since I was going to attach them together to make one 7 inch wide board I kept these measurements in mind as I was fiddling on the Blockposter website. After printing, piecing together my design and cutting it out I was ready to start working on the boards.

I put my boards down in front of me, scooted them together to make one piece measuring about 7 inches wide by 22 inches long and traced along my template on top of the wood. I then cut the design out with a jig saw and decided to add a little curved design to the bottom corners of the whole thing (as you'll see in the pics in just a bit). Sanded a little just to take the worst off, but I wanted the wood to look kind of rough and beat up to imitate the kind of wood you'd see on an old handmade Indian item (nothing like pallet wood to play that part for you :)). I left all the nail holes and knots etc the way they were.This is what they looked like laid out together. I had to work fast to avoid getting too much help from the little "helper". And the pic is sideways.

I had to come up with a way to stick the two boards together. I had no dowel rods to make the joint between the boards like you're supposed to so I just used small nails like you would dowels (it's not the most secure way to fasten them together but I knew the top part of this hanger would get little to no abuse and would just be a decoration).

Anyway, I laid out the two boards lengthwise in front of me, marked four places to put the joining nails on both of them and stood the bottom board on it's side. I nailed four little nails halfway down and made sure to put them right on the markings. I then used wire cutters to cut off the heads of the nails. On the topper board I pre-drilled tiny holes where I had put the marks, slathered the part where the two boards would be touching with wood glue and stuck them together, securing with duct tape and left it to dry overnight.

Next step was paint. I spray painted the whole thing black and let it dry. By the way, I could have filled the little line between the two boards with wood putty and sanded it smooth before painting. I didn't want to, though. I've seen some pics of cool old Moroccan/Indian carved wood doors and arches where they were clearly pieced together from several pieces of wood and stuck together to form one large piece. And they weren't trying to hide it. And it was beautiful. So I left mine the way it was to get some of that ancient Indian handmade feeling to my project.

As for the hooks that needed to go on there I did buy them at Walmart. They have these vintage looking oil rubbed bronze double hooks sold in singles for about $3 each. I got three of those and attached them onto the bottom board evenly spaced out. And the towel hanger was done! Here it is in action in our bathroom. I do apologize for the lousy pics and I'm not really expecting that to improve much. Most of my crafting takes place after dark when I have an extra pair of hands to look after the wildies and thus most of my pics are taken at night which equals bad pics. Hopefully you get the idea anyway. I still need to color the screws used to attach the hanger to the door black but I won't worry about it just now.

There! A nice, simple little project that turned out really well. I'm very happy with it there in the bathroom, adding a nice black touch to that sea of white (which is going to change soon, I'm most determined to paint at least the bathroom in the coming months). It didn't turn out a whole lot cheaper than the ready made variety, but at least I got something that fit the space perfectly as well as my style. All is well that ends well.

Ps. I'm linking to the below parties.
Blue Cricket Design

Beyond The Picket Fence

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Between Naps On The Porch
A Soft Place To Land
Someday Crafts
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mirror obsession

I just finished another kind of big project and of course I hopped right on the computer to share it with you guys :) Here she is, my new love - Miss Moroccan Dreams Mirror!

Isn't she gorgeous? Sorry for the play equipment and watering can, I got so excited when it was all done that I just snapped a pic without checking the surroundings :) Can you believe she only cost me $5? The $5 was for screws which was the only thing I didn't have on hand.

Ok, so let's back up a bit. I happen to love all things Moroccan and I love mirrors, figured that would be a great combination. A while ago I salvaged one of those long, skinny builder's mirrors that someone had thrown in the trash. It had scratches, dings on the edges and all kinds of gunk on it but after a cleaning it didn't look half bad. I was originally going to use it for something else but I never seemed to get around to it and finally decided to just go with the flow. We had a big board of some kind of siding material sitting in our garage, it came with the house when we bought it. I placed the mirror on top of the board and marked the board 2 inches bigger than the mirror all around and cut it out. Then came the back breaking labor of taking apart two pallets (got them for free, they were sitting in our garage too) in order to use the boards for the mirror frame. The mirror was very cheap in dollars but I sure payed for it with several days of heavy physical labor which brought about blisters and achy muscles. But when you're on a mission you somehow don't care that much, isn't that funny? :)

Ok, so I finally had enough boards to cover the whole back board. I cut them to the same size as the back board. And then it was time for the design. I found this photo via Photosearch, it's a low resolution pic but for this application you can use any size pics.

I cropped it in Photoshop and then used my trusty Blockposters to blow it up to the size I needed. I then pieced the image together and folded it in half making sure the middle of the arch was where it got folded. And then I cut along the edge of the arch, unfolded it and voila I had my template. Why didn't I just cut out the arch the easy way? Because sometimes photos are taken at an angle and I wanted my arch to be symmetrical. This is what it looked like after I cut it out.


I put the template on top of the pallet boards where I wanted it, centered it and then marked around it.

For the bottom of the mirror I knew the sides were going to be straight and so I didn't need the template down there. I just made sure to mark my bottom boards for the right length. When they were all marked I cut them out and marked them in the right order and which side of the frame they were going to be on for easy assembly. Here they are laid out on the back board.

Next step was sanding. These boards were dirty, had nail holes in them from the pallet, some markings and splinters. I knew I wanted a kind of rough style to the wood so I didn't sand very much, only enough to take off some of the worst stuff. And I left all the nail holes and other dings the way they were, figured they would add to the vintage vibe.

Now for the assembly. I put the backing board down on my "work bench", then the mirror and lastly all the boards in their correct place. Each little board was going to get two screws in them to hold both the board and the mirror in place, I didn't use any adhesive for the mirror. Since my allowance all around the mirror was 2 inches I marked 1 1/4 inch in from the edges where all my screws were going to go. Oh, I almost forgot. Since the mirror was about 1/4 inch thick I also got narrow strips of scrap material about the same thickness which I placed all around the mirror even with the edges so the pallet boards would be able to lay flat against the mirror when fastened, otherwise they would have been awkwardly pointing upwards at a tilt which would not have worked.

Anyway, I eyeballed the placement of the screws along my marked line, pre-drilled the holes and then fastened the screws. Since I'm not the best carpenter I had some problems getting the screws to sit flush with the wood. Some I couldn't tighten all the way down because the screws wore down (does that ever happen to you? I happens to me all the time because of the friction with the screw driver although it's not as much of a problem now that I use my newly purchased drill instead of a screw driver) and others for some reason went so far into the wood I was afraid they weren't going to do their job of holding it all together. But it all ended up being very sturdily attached if somewhat unprofessional looking. Which ended up being a blessing in disguise!! :)

I remembered some ancient Moroccan doors with nail heads I'd seen, like this one I found somewhere online a long time ago (don't know where, sorry).

Yumm, I like that. Only my mirror wasn't going to be quite that elaborate. Using my trusty glue gun I proceeded to hot glue little dabs of glue over all the screw heads, trying my best to make little mounds about the size of nail heads. Some were bigger than others, by necessity, because of protruding nail heads that needed to be completely covered. No need to worry though since I was going for a rustic look.

For the painting I made sure to mask off the mirror so I wouldn't get paint all over it. And then I painted two coats of some white primer I had sitting around. I was going to age it by color washing with burnt umber but I liked the white so much I didn't want to ruin it. I was also thinking when the glue gun nail head thing happened that I would paint the nail heads black but decided against that one too in the end. With it all white it sort of looks like I made a mirror out of an old Moroccan nail head door and then painted it white, if the nail heads would have been black they would have looked too "new" compared to the rest of the mirror. At least that's how I reasoned. :)

Here it is while still (half) masked, I only remembered last minute to take a pic :)

And with some more polishing of the mirror it was all done and ready to place in the bathroom. So the mirror has a few scratches on the glass and some minor imperfections but it all adds to the feeling of this being a Moroccan mirror with a history. This is a really heavy piece, I could barely lift it myself, and it's not meant to hang on a wall but only gently leaning against the wall. 

Here are some action pics of it in place in our teeny tiny bathroom, it's placed behind the entry door. And the pics are not that great since I had to stand in the shower and otherwise push myself up against the walls to get the pics :) We have a tiny bathroom, what can I say? :) You have to imagine the walls in a deeper greenish turquoise as well, it's all very blah and bland when it's all white.



You can clearly see the "nail heads" in this pic, as well as the old nail holes and other blemishes in the boards. Don't they make the mirror seem like it's ancient?



I'm really, really happy with how this mirror turned out! I love it! It brings texture into our bathroom, looks like something old and Moroccan and yet it's white and fresh looking. All I need to do now is attach the top of the mirror to the wall so our kids don't kill themselves (or break my new treasure!). I was debating for a while if the mirror was going to be black or white but I had some white paint (or primer, really) already on hand and since the walls in here are going to be a darker color when I finally get some paint up I figured the mirror will do a better job making the room feel bigger and brighter when painted white. Only $5, I still can't believe it... So happy :)

Ps. Linking to the below parties.

My Romantic Home

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Blue Cricket Design

Beyond The Picket Fence

The Shabby Chic Cottage

Between Naps On The Porch
A Soft Place To Land
Someday Crafts
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tissues sitting pretty

Before I start I'll just show you what I made last night.

They're sweater boots (or in my case sweater slippers) that I made following these excellent instructions on Urban Threads. My ballerina slippers were just not cutting it for the icy cold floors of an older house when the temps are in the teens so I took an old sweater and hot glued the sleeves to my ballerina slippers and ended up with a much warmer version of my ballerinas. I'm not sure yet if I like them, they turned out a little tight around the toes. They may stretch a little more, they're already comfier than when I first put them on last night.

Now, on to the tissues. It's winter in case you hadn't noticed :) Winter often brings sniffly noses and therefore you need some handy tissues. I made this project a while ago but I'll try to walk you through the process. Here's the end result.

Looks pretty fancy, huh? Looks are deceiving because here's what it's made of.
Yup, cereal boxes. This project cost me zero dinero since I had everything on hand. The pretty damask wrapping paper came with a housewarming gift and I knew I wanted to use it for something so I held on to it. The cereal boxes are courtesy of my husband's breakfast habits. Cheapo bling (it's the plastic kind you get at the craft store), odd ribbons, Mod Podge and glue I already had laying around the house.

Now the reason for this project was that my favorite kind of tissues come in boxes that aren't always all that stylish.

See what I mean? But they're sooo soft on your nose, they keep you from looking like you've been spending too much time with your nose in a glass of bourbon. The only tissue covers I've ever seen in the stores are the ones for small tissue boxes and although Puffs with lotion comes in the smaller size they last about 2 seconds with our crew. Hence the big boxes, and the need for a pretty exterior :)

I'm a lazy crafter so most of the time I just give myself as little work as I can get away with. I did no measuring what so ever while determining the size of the cover, if you're more precise than I am then by all means have at it :)
I just put a new box of Puffs on my sheet of cereal box card board, like so.

Tracing around all four sides and top of the box I made sure to trace ever so slightly bigger than the original box so it would fit over the box when done. I marked all the parts so I would be able to assemble it correctly. I also made sure to give some parts little flaps that could be folded and glued to the adjoining parts when assembling. I gave the top part four flaps, one for each side, flaps measuring about 1/4 inch. The front and back parts got flaps only on the short ends and the almost square sides of the finished box didn't need any flaps. But any constellation will work as long as you make sure to not try to glue two sides together without any flaps at all. Something needs to be folded over to form the corner. I know this flap thing sounds confusing but I did as best I could :) Play around with it a little bit, the material is (almost) free and I'm sure you'll get it in the end.
Oh, I also made sure that all sides that were going to be on the bottom of the cover, that is the edges that it was to be sitting on had an extra 1/4 inch at the bottom that I could fold into the box and glue to the inside wall to make the edges less flimsy and the whole box cover sturdier.

As you can see in the pics the Puffs box has a different colored cover over the hole where you actually access the tissues, the one you ripp off before you can get started. After I had assembled all five parts of my tissue box cover and glued them together I took this access hole cover and placed it on top of my box cover where the hole is on the original box and traced around it to get the hole in the right place. I believe I cut out the hole slightly SMALLER than the tracing since I didn't want to see anything at all of the underlying box once it was covered. By making the hole smaller you only see the tissues when you're done.

After that it was just a matter of slathering some Mod Podge on the top of the box and put the box top down on the wrapping paper, then working my way around the box with the Podge and paper as I wrapped the paper similarly to how you would wrap a present. I tried to make sure all potentially ugly folds etc were facing the back of the cover. I left enough paper on the bottom edges that I could fold them into the box and glue them to the inside wall for a polished look. I cut a slit through the tissue access hole and then cut slits from the center of the hole almost all the way over to the cardboard, in a sun ray pattern if that makes sense. It will make it easier for you to ease the wrapping paper over the edge of the rounded access hole and glue it to the inside of the box. You can see what I did in this pic.

When I was happy with the result I slathered another few coats of Podge over the whole thing and let it dry.

At this point I felt it lacked a little something so I decided to stick some of those cheap jewels around the opening. It was still lacking something so I added first one ribbon, then another over that one and finally the last ribbon. These last steps took me a few days to finish because I kept staring at it trying to figure out what would look best :) After the last ribbon I had to stop myself because anything else would have been to much. And after leaving it alone for a few days I decided I liked it :) It's got the traditional damask pattern which I love as well as some sparkle which may be reminiscent of India. And ribbons always help make something look more polished, right? If it doesn't look Indian to you we can always just call it girlie chic :) I'm ok with either :)

Some more pics of the tissues with their cover sitting pretty on our toilet (sorry, I'm not good at being politically correct and I have no idea what to call that white porcelain thing in there if I can't call it a toilet so a toilet it is), and a few close ups.



Now I can use my favorite tissues to my heart's content and just stick a new box under the cover when I run out. The cover has held up well in there despite sticky-fingered little people and the odd drop of water, but if you're worried about it just spray it with some varnish. And you're done. Happy nose wiping :)

Ps. I'm linking this to the below parties.

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Blue Cricket Design

Beyond The Picket Fence

A Soft Place To Land
Someday Crafts
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

$100 + Home Depot = four poster bed

Ok, this project isn't exactly shoestring - BUT it cost considerably less than if I would have bought a king size four poster bed. It's actually my Christmas present :) It's not completely finished either, but I'm so excited about it I couldn't help myself from sharing.

I've been wanting to make a four poster bed for a few years, ever since I read this library book of one of those inventive TV-designers who do things on a dime (don't remember the name of the designer, the TV-show nor the book at the moment, but it's out there somewhere, I promise). She made a four poster bed for someone using turned porch posts which turned out sooo great! I believe the cost for the bed she made was about $400, seems about right after checking the lumber prices at Home Depot. Now, I knew that that kind of money for a bed (not a necessary item since we already had the mattress and frame) was not going to be in our budget anytime soon, but I was itching to do something to our bedroom since it looked so bland. So I came up with an alternative plan. The 4x4 post poster bed!

Do you guys know that they sell 4x4 posts 8 feet long for only $7 each? That's the stuff they use to make fences with. They're not fancy but you get a big sturdy post for almost nothing.
So I got four posts and had the dude at Home Depot cut them down a bit for me (they say only two cuts are free but he didn't charge me for the other two cuts - thanks HD :)). To make this look less mountain lodge-y and more garden chic I also got 4 post finials for about $4 each as well as some pre-assembled  molding thingy that's meant to go at the bottom of your posts for a more finished look  but I was going to put it at the top instead (I'll show you the pics in a bit so you know what I mean). Oh, and I also had to get washers and bolts and that stuff.

I have to confess this project wasn't very well thought through so I had to pay for it in time, money and pulled out hair (frustration will make you bald if you have too much of it). I thought our bed frame would be strong enough to hold the posts up but those posts are h-e-a-v-y and of course our frame is discount store "quality". So after realizing the posts were flipping all over the place after I attached them to the frame I had to go back to HD for something to hold the posts steady. Got some $2 2x4 studs and had another dude (they have a lot of them there) cut them to size for me. Since I didn't want the bed to get ugly-fied by some support stuff I decided to attach them with heavy duty brackets. With some paint on there they'll barely be noticed.

This is how I ended up attaching the studs. It's actually pretty sturdy (however, I will in the future buy two more brackets to support the foot board stud because we sit/hop/crawl over it quite a bit, just to be on the safe side). All the studs are also not going to be visible at all when I've made our bed linens and added a bed skirt etc. It was important that the post weren't going to have something attached to them on the outside since they will be visible. If I had thought this project through before starting I might have come up with a better and more aesthetic way of attaching the supports, but this is the cheapest and best I could come up with in a hurry.

Here's how I attached the posts to the original bed frame with bolts. I ended up attaching the foot board stud to the posts just below the top of the mattress while the head board stud was placed slightly higher than the top of the mattress, to keep our pillows from sliding off the bed. The side rails were placed as low as I could without interfering with the bed frame which ended up being about even with the top of the box springs. By the way, I pre-drilled every single hole since these pressure treated posts are rock hard.

Before I give any wide angle shots of the bed and our bedroom I will warn you that the illusion you may have had of our pavilion are about to be shattered. As well as my pride. Remember that the pavilion is a work in progress and the bedrooms have barely been touched at all since we moved in, let me just say that they look the part. I also didn't even clean up very much since I had to sneak pics quickly while the babes were asleep. Ok, after due warning - here we go.

The four poster in action! And yes, our window coverings consist of beach towels at the moment. Instead of spending money on stuff I don't like I prefer to stick with the no-cost alternative until I can get the stuff I really want. Hence the beach towels (and you'll see a blanket in another shot). But I made the bed at least :)

I actually do like the way the bed came out although it's nothing like my original idea. It still looks a little mountain lodge-y because of the lack of paint (you're not supposed to paint pressure treated wood for at least a few months or it'll blister and flake is what I've heard). But when the bed is painted black I think it'll be a lot more garden chic than mountain lodge. And that'll go well with my plans for a garden trellis window treatment which I'm sure you'll hear more about in the future.

The finial and molding part up close. The finial is screwed into the post with the screw it came with, the molding is just glued on with wood glue, I might add a few finishing nails for good measure before I paint.

A picture with the flash for a clearer view.


Our kitty Soapy is admiring the height of the posts. They are pretty high. I had them cut to 80 inches but with the finials they must be over 7 feet tall. It's pretty cool. 

Yep, there's the blanket I mentioned earlier..

And the last shot of the "foot board" from the side with my Indian "shrine" in the background.
So the bed is not exactly as nicely turned and all like I first imagined it but I actually like it. When it's been painted black and the walls have their pale grayish purple up and all my hot pink/red/orange accent fabrics are all in place I think it'll look very nice. It'll take a while before it's all done, though. It's very pretty in my head at least :)

For a while I thought about maybe adding tightly wound rope around the posts for more texture. I'm sure it would have been cool but in the end I passed on it. It would have taken more time and added some to the price as well. The wood for this bed only cost about $36, but the brackets and other hardware as well as the decorative finials and molding added about another $50 so it wasn't quite as cheap as I would have wanted it to be.
You can also add wooden appliques to the posts if you are so inclined, to dress it up a bit. I opted to keep it simple since I figured that with all the stuff that will be going on in this room when it's all said and done less might be more for the bed. And also add a masculine note for my poor husband :) (He is ok with my plans for the room, by the way :)).
I almost forgot to tell you that it wasn't even all that hard to put this together since the construction is so simple. It took me a day to get it all done and that's even with my extra trip to Home Depot. You will need some hunky guy to help you move mattress and box springs aside and maybe help you hold some heavy or long parts while you attach brackets and bolts. I mainly used my hunk to help me keep the kids out of harms way (as well as the simple tasks I mentioned above :)).

The bed will have to sit and look woodsy and boring for a few months before I do the finishing paint job on it. In my experience these pressure treated posts seem to get surface cracks as they dry so I might have to fill those in with wood putty and do some sanding before painting. But that will have to be a future project :)

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