DIY Network: How I Filled The Workbench (Thrift-fully)

June 07, 2012   //  Posted in: Being Thrifty, DIY Network Projects, Tools   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that I’ve managed to find a lot of tools for the shed, garage, and workbench in the most thrifty of ways; a girl’s got to save her dough where she can, and even though we have a plentiful arsenal of great tools, that doesn’t mean I’m always paying retail for them at the big box stores. A lot of people turn to garage sales as a place to find salvagable furniture, home decor, or kids clothes and toys, but we’ve found a lot of other tools and materials at these events too.

It’s resourcefulness at it’s tool-finest. Check out this week’s post on DIY Network to see my Top 10 garage sale tool picks (and then go scavenging through your own neighborhood this weekend).

Girl gets tool-thrifty. See more of what she buys at garage sales at

We actually popped over to a church sale earlier this morning and snapped a few photos that validate my point: inexpensive tools are plentiful. Not shown: unused window and door insulation, tool belts, Dremel attachments, sandpaper, and gardening planters.

Finding inexpensive tools at garage sales.

And don’t even get me at the kitchen goods; this isn’t a post pushing “tools of the kitchen” but Pyrex, skillets, and muffin tins, anyone?

Finding inexpensive kitchen goodies at garage sales.

We scooted home with 5 candles (for 80-cents), a basket (50-cents), and some tub and wall trim that might come in handy while Pete works to update his parent’s bathroom. For a mere 10-cents, it’ll be worth a shot.

Finding inexpensive bathroom repair goods at garage sales.

Find anything great on your own salvaging adventures lately?

Making It H’Ombre

June 06, 2012   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY, Sunroom   //  By: Emily   //  9 responses

Refinishing the buffet infused a nice energy into the previously empty sunroom, and pushed me to complete another jobber while I was on a roll. The project? Oversized art to occupy the wall above the buffet. My first attempt at creating some new sunroom art (outlined here), was a major flop. That trial of white tracing paper on white plywood with white paint accents didn’t work, and the polyurethane that I used like modpodge even dried with a yellowish tinge. I didn’t like that. You wouldn’t have either, see?

Sunroom art in its #megafail stage.

Back track: I’ve been lugging around a piece of art from my old roommate Katie for years (seriously, almost 6 years). It’s a piece I really like even though it was designed as a desktop for Katie’s friend Jess (see her named written in amongst the stars?). And because I’ve liked it, I’ve bothered to find ways to store it safely for the last almost-six years, wishing that I had the perfect place to display the colorful piece in this house.

An original piece by artist Katie Duane.

After we cleared out and reorganized the garage, I decided I wanted to move it inside and make better use of it, and so the idea to use the backside of the plywood as an art surface was born. I trimmed it to a shorter length (took 12″ off the less-ornate end that didn’t even so much effect the name “JESS”) and then primed it to have a clean finish in the backyard.

Primed plywood panel.

After my efforts to create a more textured, decoupaged look with tracing paper failed, I moved forward with brainstorming a new design. I knew I still wanted something clean and simple, something that wouldn’t compete with the sunburst floor or the chair cushions that I’m still planning on making in the next few weeks, and something that wouldn’t considerably darken the room; the walls are entirely white paint and windows right now, and I love the brightness that comes with that when the rest of the main house features more saturated tones and dark, cozier colors (my paint palette can be seen here).

As much as the polyurethane yellowed the plywood surface and the tracing paper rippled, I didn’t consider the plywood unusable. Instead, I started fresh with a clean coat of white paint (interior satin, straight out of my leftover paint stash in the basement, a.k.a. free).

Sunroom #megafail art, getting a once-over with white paint.

As you see in the above picture, I only painted the top 2/3 with white paint, leaving the lower 1/3 blank to be painted different colors.

The plan? Create an oversized ombre painting. In pink. Home + Ombre = H’Ombre, mi hombres.

Because there wasn’t much paint left in the quart of white, I began adding quarter-teaspoons of pink paint from a leftover Benjamin Moore sample into it gradually to slowly tint it.

Adding pink paint gradually to tint the white.

Faintly tinted for the first application, a stripe that spanned the plywood in a rounded stripe around the middle of the board, you can only faintly see a difference between the white and the light pink.

Beginning the ombre with a faint pink application.

With a little more pink added to the quart of paint, I added another streak of pink just slightly below (and overlapping) the first stripe of light pink. Note: I didn’t let the paint dry before moving on to the next color, and this helped make slightly blurred transitions and kept things from looking harsh.

Continuing the ombre with a faint pink application.

The process continued as I tinted and painted about 3 additional shades before adding a dramatically pink stripe right along the bottom.

Finishing the ombre layers on the sunroom art.

Up close, I actually ended up liking how the rippled tracing paper added texture behind the gradation in colors; almost has a wave-like effect that adds to the piece. It’s a #megafail made happy!

#megafail made happy as the ripples of the tissue paper show through the paint gradation.

I hung it on the wall in the sunroom above the new buffet table quite easily by myself, considering the heavy weight of the plywood.

After considering the placement of the studs in the wall, and measuring for height, I determined the placement for two d-rings on the back of the plywood, one on each end of the panel to distribute the weight.

Installing d-rings to the plywood so the new ombre art can be hung.

To securely hook the d-rings on the wall, I opted to install a two heavy-duty anchor screws directly into the studs. I left them unscrewed out about 1/4″ so that the d-ring could loop right over them.

Using anchor screws to serve as a place to hang the art.

I mentioned installing it myself; I covered the new buffet with thick towels, hoisted the plywood on top of it, and then hooked one side at a time. Once the left side was hooked and felt secure, it was easy to move to the right side and do the same by doing that motion where one hand reaches behind to hold the hook and you try and remain as flat as possible, even sucking in your gut, while you watch through the remaining gap between the plywood and the wall and try and watch the hooking action happen. Don’t say you haven’t done it, it’s frustrating as can be with nothing but relief and grand achievement when you finally get it to hook satisfactorily.

The piece, as a whole, feels very anchored on the wall. It doesn’t shift when I jump around or bang on the wall. Doesn’t loosen when I pull downward on it, or when I try to pull it straight off the wall; it’s hooked well, and its weight will work in its favor, keeping it safely in place.

How’s it look?

New pink ombre art in the sunroom.

Additional little fact: I made a little/impacting change in the organization of the sunroom by moving both the table and the pendant light over to the right (closer to the front of the house by about 2-feet) in a way so that they align with the door opening; this gives us more space in the back of the sunroom to play and move around the room.

Moved the light and the table in the sunroom to align with the door.

And another fact, because I’m full of factoids today: I took these photos from outside, looking through the open windows to give a perspective I wouldn’t normally be able to in the very narrow sunroom. Pretty, right?

Moved the light and the table in the sunroom to align with the door.

The pendant was easy enough to shift; all it required was moving the hook that the wire wraps around. You can see in this picture how it had been centered in the room beneath the wooden ceiling patch (fixed here) and shifted to the left about 2-feet. By moving it that closer to where the outlet was, I was able to lower the pendant 2-feet also, bringing it down to a nicer over-the-table height.

Moving the pendant light over almost 2'.

It was previously anchored higher on the ceiling because we were needing to walk beneath the pendant, but now with the table in place, I realized that I could bring it down a little bit and I’m really glad to have made the adjustment.

The biggest impact happens from the living room, where the pendant and table are now so nicely centered in the glass paned doorway.

Looking into the sunroom from the living room.

Stepping back further, the line of sight is so nice when you’re walking into the house, even if it is a bit over-lit in this photograph.

Looking into the sunroom from the living room.

What do you think? Nothing quite like impacting art and a little furniture wiggle to make a room really stand out.

A DIY Experiment: Making A Folded Clutch

June 05, 2012   //  Posted in: DIY   //  By: Emily   //  4 responses

There are reasons I’ll continue to purchase my totes and handbags, even though this quick DIY clutch didn’t turn out so badly. I think my sewing machine hates me, or it hates the threads I choose, or it hates my fabrics, but it’s evident that I should stick to home improvement-related projects and leave the seamstress experts to the fancy purse-makin’ stuff. But if I can make something like this, you probably can too. And that’s why I’m sharing it.

Cute little floppy clutch. Make your own!

I’m not really one to make a lot of clothing items, but I did make an awful lot of Beanie Baby sleeping bags one year, so the sewing machine isn’t as a foreign tool as, say, the rototiller. It occurred to me one day while I was digging through my scrap fabrics that I could make a cute little carry all with what I had, and maybe, if I could be so lucky, for (basically) free! And so I tried.

I started by cutting a piece of blue flowery linen fabric sized approximately 14″x26″ from the bolt that I bought (for $1) from a recent yard sale. To add a little interest to the base of the bag, I decided to add little feet to the corners, a supplementing detail that involved trimming a full circle of faux-leather fabric that was leftover from my latest ottoman project (using a small plate as a template) and then cutting it into half-circles for each corner of the bag.

One 14x24 piece of fabric, and two half-circles of faux-leather.

When folded and sewn, the clutch would theoretically look like this:

One 14x24 piece of fabric, and two half-circles of faux-leather.

I sewed the faux-leather to the main piece of fabric first. They’re the clutch equivalent of elbow patches.

Pinning the bag "elbow patches" into place.

As you can kind of tell here, as I sewed it on slowly I tried to roll the unfinished edge under to make it appear a little more polished (even though the pleather fabric does not tend to fray). Had I not done that, the faux-leather underside may have shown a bit, so I think my efforts, albeit imperfect, were worthwhile.

Sewing the bag "elbow patches" into place.

The blue fabric was, on the other hand, starting to fray at the edges. Also, having white areas that I didn’t want to stain from the inside if my lip gloss started to melt, I decided to line the inside of the bag using a heavier white outdoor canvas that has a bit of stiffness to it. After the pleather patches were sewn in place, I lined what would be the inside of the bag with the white canvas and folded it cleanly so that I could sew up either side of the bag.

Using a heavier fabric to line the inside of the linen bag.

With both sides sewn up, I flipped the bag right side out. The patches aren’t perfectly symmetrical themselves, but they do align perfectly the way each wraps around to the back of the clutch. Handbag manufacturers, don’t worry, you’re not going out of business.

Flipped right side out. Phew, the patches align.

The zipper install went more easily than I expected. I chose a chunkier metal 14″ zipper from JoAnn’s for the job, in a muted beige color. It only cost me about $1.55, which was after I used one of my 50% off coupons. Anyone else ever feel wasteful using these coupons on what are possibly the least expensive items in the store?

Installed a metal zipper to the clutch.

The ends of the zipper were purposefully a little long, so I added little faux-leather tabs by sewing them to the overhanging ends. They started off pretty nice, but I trimmed them in to be closer to the seam, and now they’re imperfect. I’m OK with that. And I have trimmed that obnoxious stray string that’s popping northward since I took that photo.

Added imperfect little tabs to each end of the zipper.

The bag, although a little wrinkly from being sewn up and manhandled during its assembly, was pretty cute.

Finished DIY clutch.

And because it’s still pretty big (12″x12″), it can be folded over and carried too, just like all of those styles I covet on Pinterest.

Finished DIY fold-over clutch.

With a quick iron to get out the creases in the linen, it’s done! And offers enough room to store my wallet, phone, lipgloss, and anything else that I find myself needing on a casual day out.

Right, it does hold stuff.

Happy little clutch.

Cute little floppy clutch. Make your own!