merrypad | inspiring homeowners to embrace a DIY lifestyle


More Thrifty Treasures (I’m Turning Into My Dad)

June 15, 2011   //  Posted in: Being Thrifty, Decor   //  By: Emily   //  18 responses

I never intended for my garage saling hobby to become so much of a series on the blog, but here’s another sneak peek of some of my recent treasures. This spring has been good to me (for very little money). Some of my other escapades helped me discover sweet pink pushpins and an old owl and hunks of glass, all of which are slowly finding their way into my day-to-day decor. This weekend, between a church rummage sale and a random estate sale, I discovered some cool finds that only stole $11.75 from my wallet.

I’ve written before about how my everyday dinnerware consists of a usable collection of mismatched plates, bowls, and servingware, so I added a few choice picks to the collection – both happen to be scalloped and cheerful and fit in quite nicely with the mismatched set. The white bowl is a good size for cereal or soup; the yellow bowl will be useful when it comes to serving sides at din-din or summer picnics.

White and yellow antique flower bowls.And here I go contradicting myself; I allow myself to collect random plates and bowls because I try and anchor the table by retaining matching glasses and silverware… but I couldn’t resist this set of glasses representing the United States (minus the western states and mid-west). I’m guessing it was originally a 6-glass set. The colors and level of detail (down to state and regional factoids on the back) are adorable, and for 10-cents a pop, I thought they’d look great with the other clear glasses I drink from. They do.

Colorful glassware featuring the USA.

The clay pots were actually in someone’s freebie bin, so why wouldn’t I take them; cutely sorted like little nesting pots.

Free clay pots. Little nesting pots.

I also pulled a 8×12 picture frame from the freebie bin (for the free glass). This mangled frame is not shown but gives me the glass I need to make this empty, ornate frame usable again. This frame was a big spend, at $4. But it’s cute, right?

Gold, ornate frame.

Speaking of frames, the great colors in this print of the Grand Canyon National Park are what caught my eye; how pretty are the swirling skies and shadowed mountains? At $3, felt it was worth trying to scoot home with the 18″x24″-ish frame between my knees (just around the corner from home, so it wasn’t scary for too long).

Pretty print.How about a close-up on the color detail – the sea greens? the orange? the grays? Love. It’s going to be a pretty accent and complement to whatever wall it lands itself on.

Color detail in the Grand Canyon print.

The frame isn’t even bad, although I’m considering giving it a coat of paint – maybe a red-orange coat that will complement the similar color in the painting but still allow the texture of the frame to show through.

Close-up on the poster frame.I don’t own many tsotchkes; you’re not going to see me with a Precious Moments display on the built-in shelves anytime soon, but I couldn’t resist this little green dog with hand painted facial detail. At 10-cents, who wouldn’t have taken it? Originally I figured I’d paint it neutral a la the ol’ cheap owl, but the unlikely green and yellow is growin’ on me.

Little green dog. Totally useless. Totally adorable.

And then, I hit the jackpot. I stopped at a random estate sale with poor signage and turned into my dad in matter of 3 seconds. OK, back up: I’ve said for years that I’m turning into my mom (not in a bad way – she’s tall and thin, loves home improvement, perennials, j.crew, and amber jewelry), but my dad has this love for maps unlike anyone I’ve ever met, besides maybe a topographer. It’s annoying and obsessive and he’s forever hinting that I should have a map with me at all times in case I get lost (and my iPhone doesn’t count). His collection is expansive, and what I’m getting at here is that I actually bought maps. Real maps. Stunning, exquisite maps. I don’t collect maps, but maybe I do now since I brought home 10.

The sale was one town over, and come to find, the woman who once lived in the home was the town historian and was involved with mapping the town’s growth and development, so in addition to cool antique maps, reprints, and sketches of various locations around the world, there were some pretty nice blueprints of the town detailing property lines, schools, and dead ends. The family holding the sale had delivered a handsome package to the local historical society, but left duplicates and damaged items for other crazy map people to browse through. Yes, now I’m a crazy map person.

The storage unit itself was for sale ($50) and while I didn’t buy it, it would surely have made for a nice coffee table with a little paint and imagination. It was deeper and wider than this picture gives credit for, and with lots of little drawers, I could really see it being used as nice storage for my own prints and photos. I switched to the iPhone to take a photo for you so I didn’t cause too much of a scene, hence the quality of this photo.

Think of that lamp as a beam of precious sunlight on my new map treasures.Back to the maps. Yeah, so, I hunted through each of those drawers and came up with a fine selection to bring home with me for just $3.50. Amazing. Although it might have been because that’s all I had in my wallet short of a Starbucks gift card. Here’s the list of what I brought home, with related photos.

1. Map of New York divided by town. Within each town is the population as of the year 1865.
2. Connecticut. It was in good shape and might make for nice framed decor someday for a friend who lurrrrves CT (Holler Alyssa, if you’re reading.)
3. A Franklin County, Pennsylvania recreation map. It has a wonderful map key featuring hunting notes that I just had to take a picture of for you.

Three maps.

Franklin County Hunting Notes4. This old world reprint had me at hello. I loved it so much I practically hugged it into a wrinkled bunch. It’s stunning colors and wonderful design get to me every time I pick it up.

Old world map.How about a close-up on those colors:

Old world map.Ooh, but wait, it gets even more vivid:
Old world map. 5. This map of the United States is frail, tattered, stained, and beautiful. I can’t wait to display it someday, somewhere. Reminds me of my 2nd grade classroom. Those dark brown spots around Oregon were there when I bought it but seem to be marker related.

USA Map. Brittle and worn.6. I’ve never been to Paris, but now I’ll know the lay of the land when I make a trip. This reprint of an old aerial sketch is beautiful!

Aerial of Paris.7. and 8. Two frail local town maps made it home with me too. The bright paper color coupled with the level of detail in the map was really intreguing, and I like to know more about the area that I live in, so it’s been fun to look at closely.

Map of local area.

Fun fact: The site of an old Wegmans that’s closing at the end of the month was actually once the site an elementary school. How old could this print possibly be?

The larger maps, once I photographed them, suddenly popped out to me as being an artful backdrop for some new frames that I had needed to photograph for my store. I think it accents them nicely.

Frame for sale at foryour.merrypad.comFrame for sale at foryour.merrypad.comLegit self-promotional footnote: Both of those frames are available on etsy and can be seen in my store at


Gettin’ Stair Paint Swoony

June 14, 2011   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY, Stairwell   //  By: Emily   //  7 responses

… And now I’m doing a happy stair-planning dance. The project I finally decided to be brave enough to do? Painting those stairs. Here’s to hoping I don’t revert into the most indecisive person on earth (you know how much I love color).

The stairwell leading to the second story (the bedrooms and bathroom are up yonder) was once carpeted, but has since been unveiled, refinished, and poly’ed to a glossy, glossy state of glossiness. You can see that transformation over in the before + after section. And I love them – I’m not actually painting over any of the natural hardwoods here, but I’m ready for a little something different. Where once was white will be no more.

A starting photo for stairwell design.

If you follow me on pinterest or have ever spoken to me about stair porn (yes, it’s a real site), you probably know I have major staircase envy. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love me some color.

The homeowners who dare to revamp their otherwise-ordinary staircases with bright colors, stencils, or Orla Kiely wallpaper (drool.)? I want to be them. Yes, for real, I’m going to paint my stairs, and hopefully make an appealing update (if it ends up being vomit-inducing, that’ll be a problem, since it’s the first thing you see when you walk in the front door).

I started the whole planning process this go-around with the simple photo of the staircase (just that quickie shot shown at the beginning of the post); I printed out a few copies of the photo so that I could use the real images as a sketch pad (or activity book, or coloring book), and then spent some time sitting in the entryway giving owed consideration to the colors of the frames in the wall photo gallery, the glow of the hardwood floors, and the color of the walls. I brought up the house paints from the basement, spread them out on the ground, and started playing with a dozen paint brushes mixing colors to see what hues might work best with the other colors in the space. You more artistically adept folks might just want to use photoshop to drop in colors, but I didn’t because I wanted to work with the real paint colors from the palette… and because I don’t have it on my machine.

Once I finished my little art project, I pinned my modified printouts up on the sunroom wall. The one in the center is higher because I’m (waveringly) voting it the leader. Read on.

I hung each of the painted photos on the wall of the sunroom to look at them side-by-side.

On each sheet, I tried to incorporate many hues and a few different plans to see if I should use more than one color on each step, and if so, tried to gauge which colors worked together best with the wall color and bright picture frames. Orange was a thumbs down, as much as I like it as an accent color. Horizontal stripes of multiple colors are looking like a promising idea. And I’m digging the light blues, but maybe that’s because I just finished using it to paint the entryway wall.

Tried out a little orange.The light green/gray color you’re seeing is actually very similar to the handmade shade that I used when I painted the sunroom floor (a sly concoction of Behr 2-in-1 Tiffany Box Blue from a $1 Oops Bin at Home Depot and a splash of floor paint gray). I was thinking it might be nice to try and pull that muted but bright color into the rest of the house subtly, so this was an attempt to see how it might fly. Also tested: polka dots and chevron. Without the use of a real stencil it would be harder to hand-detail a design (and I’m not totally sure I want to make another one like this but it’s not out of the question yet, just awaiting the right inspiration).

More stair painting efforts.

As I said, the photo that was raised in the center is showing the most promise to me right now (that’s not to say it won’t change tomorrow when I realize I have more blue painter’s tape than I expected). The top three stairs pull the original gold wall color and lighten it gradually with gray, going upward; it’s the kind of color combo that I wasn’t sure would work well, but it seemed to in this test. The bottom four stairs do something similar with the Tiffany’s blue and gray paint (like the sunroom floor dots).

Color scaling on the sample photo.
It’s going to be an indecisive few days. The biggest part is doing it in a way that it’s something that I can live with, without overpowering the other colors and elements in the small space. Await and see more; I’m hoping to make my pick and start the ball rolling (or… paint stirrin’) by the weekend.

(And, as always, votes and suggestions are appreciated, my fine and tasteful readers!)

Sugru Giveaway!

June 13, 2011   //  Posted in: DIY, Tools   //  By: Emily   //  31 responses

Over in these here parts, we’re starting Dad Bonanza 2011, the week long countdown to the best family picnicking holiday of June, Father’s Day. We’re rolling out the grill (so Dad can cook for us), hauling home the mulch and topsoil (so Dad can finish planting those annuals for us), heading to some fairs (so Dad will buy us lots of cotton candy and tickets to ride questionably-safe ferris wheels), and stocking him up with all kinds of new gadgetry (so that he can make us stuff).

Of course the best thing you can stock Dad (or Baby Daddy, or just your man) up with this summer might just be some fine, fine Sugru, which, ta-da! is exactly who is rockin’ our socks with this-right-here giveaway!

Smart Hacks Super PackYou. Are. Totally. Welcome.

Sugru is a malleable silicone that enables a plethora of projects, as it’s water-resistant, tolerable of both heat and cold, and adheres to almost any surface you could think of. It allows you to customize your life, and make what you own last longer.

I’m serious when I say that Dad’s going to love this supply you win him all summer long; each pack in the set comes with 12 different individual packets (which I never really thought of in the context of “tiny pack” until right now), and in a whole array of colors on top of that (white will actually be included too, in addition to the selection in that image above).

We’ve been raving about the stuff since we first got our sticky little fingers into the shiny metallic packaging; there are lots of great examples of the product in action over in the Sugru gallery. If you want to check out some of my own recent Sugru projects, you should see what I made for the centerpiece, the TV, the camera, and the starfish.

But what we really want you to do is enter to win 1 of 5 Smart Hacks Super Packs of Sugru.

(That’s right. 5 winners, 5 chances to win, can I get a woo-hoo?)

Two ways to enter:

1. Leave us a comment on this post (tell us what Dad might want to hack!)


2. Tweet this: Make Dad’s summer more awesome by entering to win a Super Pack of Sugru at @merrypad. #dadslovesugru

We’ll be accepting entries until 10PM on Friday 6/17, which means you have over 100 hours to get your entries in this week. We’re sure that’s enough time.

P.S. Not that you wouldn’t win or anything, but you should know that starting this week, Sugru is supporting local US shipping, meaning it should be a whole hack of a lot easier to get the product state-side! (Yes, that was an intentional hack joke.)

P.P.S. Why don’t you follow @projectsugru while you’re at it.