Organizing one tiny step at a time!

This time of the year the blogs are filled with organizing tips. They are all great but man, can they be overwhelming! 

They feed into our desire to get our lives and homes in order. So I thought I would share a few TINY things I have done in each room of the house that have, in one way or another, made my life a tad simpler. Nothing major or earth shattering...just little things you can do that don't require a pickup load of storage boxes or a week of total madness in your quest to "get it right."

So I walked around my house with my camera and asked myself...what in THIS room makes my life a little easier.

First...my bedroom. Getting my bedroom the way I love it was a looooong process that I revealed here. But there is one tiny element that makes my life a little simpler....

This tiny little change to the outlet next to my bed was super simple to install (here I share how to install one!) and has made my bedtime ritual so much easier. I can still have my clock and lamp plugged in while charging my phone and Ipad.....zero hassle! 

My office...I have a ton of organizing tips for home office spaces, but my absolute favorite is simple...binders!

These are just a few I keep at my finger tips...on a shelf in my closet I also have binders for home and car insurance documents, tax returns, legal papers, etc. Since I have a business, all my receipts and invoices get tossed in a paper box each month and at the end of the year stored in the attic...just in case the IRS comes knocking! Super simple "filing" system! But the documents I need on a regular basis are kept in binders at my finger tips!

The toilet paper holder. Okay, this may seem silly but if you have ever had a puppy, kitten or toddler, you know the struggle....the daily ritual of cleaning up the toilet paper that has been "unrolled!" I discovered this little trick with my last kitten...

Install an "open ended" toilet paper holder vertically rather than horizontally. Not only does it take away the entertainment value of "unrolling" the paper it makes it super simple to replace the roll!

See, I told you these were simple little changes...

On to the laundry room. I have said time and again, I like pretty but it has to have function. One of my favorite little things to collect are the old Lane cedar boxes. Some believe they are old "sample" boxes used by Lane salesmen for their cedar chest line. Not so! They were actually little cedar boxes Lane gave away to girls when they graduated from high school to entice them to buy a large Lane cedar chest. I find them all the time at auctions and in flea markets. A quick strip with my acetone/lacquer thinner mixture and a few coats of tung oil and they are as good as new...and super pretty!

I use one to hold dryer sheets in my laundry room and I also have one on my dresser for reading glasses and such and one in my den to hold the remotes. Pretty with a purpose!

Which brings me to my kitchen. So many neat little ways I have made this space much more functional and organized, but I chose to share one of my few loves that really serve little purpose...my cutting boards....

Here and here I share how super simple it is to revive old cutting boards! Except for the one I use as a recipe holder, they really serve no purpose because I don't use wood cutting boards. But I love the warmth and whimsy they add to kitchen!

In the den a few more of my favorites "with a purpose!" When I started seeing all the "old work benches" being repurposed in the blogosphere I remembered I had my dad's old tool bench stuck back in a storage shed. I pulled it out and gave it a little makeover! It is one of the few "primitive" pieces I feature in my home. Because it was actually built and used by my dad, I LOVE it!!!

It is relatively small and doesn't take up a lot of space and serves as a perfect little side table next to the lounge chair in the den! 

Coffins...again, morbid sounding, I know. But they aren't REALLY coffins, that is just what they are called! I have several and I use them for storing fire wood, photo albums and books!

Another super simple "makeover" project that yields "pretty with a purpose!"

I did manage one major "purge" this year...partially out of necessity. When I redid my entry this year I created a dust bowl that forced me to remove a 30 year collection of hardback books for cleaning and I decided it was time to finally let go! Over 150 books found a new home and my bookcases finally found room to breath! 

I kept the collections of two of my favorite authors but the rest were boxed up and given to a friend.

Truthfully, I haven't missed them and now I think twice before spending money on another hardback. I still read, I just don't "buy to have"...I buy paperbacks I can leave for others or I download them on my Kindle. 

I will say that getting rid of clutter, a real heart wrenching purge and declutter, is ESSENTIAL to making your house a home. Maybe one or all of these tips will make that process a little easier!

Lazy days....

This heat is brutal...I hate to gripe because my son reported it was 120 degrees in Phoenix a month ago and I usually we are in triple digits by now. But seriously, this heat and humidity is brutal.

Because of that I get a tad lazy.

First, I want to hibernate...seriously, go inside and not come out until October. Second, I tend to do stupid things....

Like take this little mahogany bookshelf in without doing anything to it....

Not horrible and I really thought just MAYBE someone else would take a risk on it. But it did have several issues.

First, the overall original finish...kind of cruddy!

Not horrible, but not great either.

The biggest issue was a "burn" on the veneer,. Seriously, how does this happen?

I have no idea!

I brought it home after it sat in my room at 410 Vintage for a month or so...evidently no one was willing to do their own DIY on it. So it was up to me to make it presentable...curses!

First, I had to repair the burned veneer (again, what the heck?) I used the same process I used on the old dresser and shared  here. 

I really wanted to save a little bit of the wood feature, so I used this process to strip and oil the top. Didn't take but a few minutes!

Plaster paint, distress and seal. 

I want to admit one little glaring error in this little makeover. Mahogany has a tendency to "bleed" through any paint. The BEST thing to do when painting mahogany is to first seal it with a clear lacquer or primer, then apply your paint. 

I, sadly, did not do this. And while my little "repair" job on the veneer is darn near perfect, the fact that the mahogany bled through makes this little oversight a little more glaring.

You can clearly see where the patch is and where the original finish bled through...I'm blaming this one on the heat too! I know better.

Oh well...guess I'll just drag it back in the house and give it ANOTHER little makeover...curses!

A special birthday celebration!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know my dog has become my "fifth child." Yep...that is what happens when you become an "empty nester." You take and post waaaay too many pictures of your animals and, of course, you celebrate their birthdays!

Wednesday we celebrated Cleo's 2nd birthday! If you go by "dog years," I officially have another teenager!

Our grandpuppy, Zoey, came to celebrate with us!

They LOVED the pup treats...the hats, not so much! Zoey wouldn't even wear one for a picture....party pooper!

And of course I have a TON of projects in the pipeline....three chairs to reupholster, five little dressers to repair and rehab and who knows how many other little projects piled in the back of the garage!

I did get a few pieces finished and ready to take to 410 Vintage...this shelf/desk is only one of many...but as usual I either forget to take before OR after pictures...in this case, the before.

Imagine honey oak...eeeck! A little KSTP treatment, and again, another lifetime of awesomeness!

I know I harp on it, but it bears repeating. The ugliest piece of furniture can be dolled up with a little paint! 

I have four dressers lined up in the driveway ready to strip and paint IF the weather will cooperate. I think that is one of the biggest problems this time of the year. One day it is 70, the next we have a freeze warning. So I shuffle stuff around and work on what I can depending on the weather. Some days it is too cold or windy to paint, so I use those days to do repairs or work inside on upholstery projects. Then when it warms up a bit, I paint, but if it is too windy I can't spray paint. Curses!

Not going to complain because in few short months I will be gripping about the heat! And honestly, this is what I love about Arkansas...four seasons! I just wish it would make up it's mind from one day to the next!

TV cabinet makeover...

The bad news is I have had a lot of vacancies this past month...the good new is I have had a lot of vacancies this past month! 

The reason it is bad is because it means I have pretty much had to bust it every day...cleaning, repairing, rehabbing! I. AM. EXHAUSTED!

The reason it is good news is because OCCASIONALLY I find a decent little piece I can work a little DIY magic on. Before I started "rehabbing for resell" I would either toss this stuff or give it away to friends and neighbors....often after spending days rehabbing and refinishing! Seriously, I just gave away stuff! Now I will make repairs, paint, refinish...whatever it takes to give the piece another lifetime of use!

This piece is a prime example...

Dated, worn and just down right ugly. Very similar in style to this piece but a little sturdier so I thought it was worth giving a little makeover! 

This piece was a prime candidate for a little KSTP treatment I shared here.

It originally had a little shelf but it was missing so I cut another out of a sheet of plywood. Other than that, it really didn't need any repairs! I painted the cabinet a slate blue I mixed up using a blue and black latex paint I had on hand, painted the drawer fronts black and the hardware metallic gold. 

I liked the style of the hardware but definitely not the color.

This is one of those pieces I took to "base neutral" (in other words, primed) and then let sit because I just couldn't decided what color to use on it. 

Obviously the colors were okay...it sold 3 days after I took it to 410 Vintage


Simple makeovers for the worst offenders...the KSTP treatment!

There is NO excuse for ugly furniture. With warmer weather just around the corner, it is time to start looking at your furniture with a critical eye and making a list of pieces that CAN be changed with just a little bit of work!

We all have it...those "cheapo" pieces of furniture that are, at the very least, offensive! Maybe they were given to you, maybe you bought them at a "discount" store...maybe you bought it at the thrift store to fill space in a room.

Pressed board construction, laminate tops, dated finishes, pieces you put together with a little allen wrench thingy that came with the worthless little "screws" that promptly strip out and leave the piece wobbly and worthless!

It's ugly and cheap, but seriously who has the money to buy "real wood" furniture when you are struggling from pay check to pay check and having to buy shoes for a kid whose feet seem to grow a size every month.

I get it...I've been there. Fortunately I have learned to shop resale and auctions for "quality" pieces...and even if they need a little TLC, I have the tools, knowledge and time. But not everyone has that...or the money to buy and refinish high quality pieces.

That is why I advocate the KSTP treatment. Let me explain....

First, before you even get to the KSTP treatment, ALWAYS give the piece a good cleaning. On the nastiest, I use ammonia water but some can just be wiped down with a little water and mild detergent. Whatever you need to do to get the gunk off the piece! If it is "stuck" on just scrape it off with a razor! No matter if you scratch the finish...you are going to paint it!

Second, make any and all repairs that need to be made...and if you don't know how to repair it properly, google it! 

Okay, now the KSTP treatment....

K- Kilz (my favorite primer but any QUALITY PRIMER will do! That is why this is the KSTP treatment and not the PSTP treatment!)

For smaller pieces I use a spray can only because it is easy and gives me a nice smooth finish. On larger pieces I use a brush and 4" foam roller! TIP! Always shake the can longer than the directions recommend. Kilz will spray on with a "grainy texture" if you don't shake the can well! No biggy since you are going to sand anyway, but just makes it a little easier! Also, pay attention to the temperature recommendations...it matters!

Many paints SAY they are a "primer and paint in one." Sorry, I am old school....I ALWAYS prime and I personally recommend it. If you want a superior finish that will hold up to use and abuse, prime! 

S-Sand. A 220 grit paper will usually smooth out the piece after it is primed. I wrap a piece around a sanding sponge block!

If you have "ornate" legs or detailing, use 000-0000 steel wool.

USE YOUR HANDS, not your eyes. Feel the piece.

Trust me, if it isn't smooth, it WILL show after you paint it! Sand it until it is smooth to the touch! If you cleaned the piece well, scraped off all the gunk, this step really should only take a few minutes.

T- Tack cloth. A MUST after you sand but before you paint (or apply any finish). Blow or brush off as much as you can, then use a tack cloth!

You can purchase it at your favorite home improvement store...usually in packages of 2 and relatively inexpensive (around $2)! You can wipe a piece down all day with a clean cloth, but you WILL leave "stuff" on the piece if you don't tack cloth it. Tack cloth will remove EVERYTHING. If you still feel "stuff," hit it with the sand paper again and then tack cloth again! 

P-Paint. This is where people usually freak out. My favorite for wood or laminate furniture is oil-based but it can be a tricky paint to work with for a novice and difficult to clean up. Fortunately latex paints have come a long way and are much more durable these days! QUALITY spray paint is probably your best bet for smaller pieces. I say quality because you can buy spray paint a tad cheaper at discount stores, but I am not a huge fan of cheap paint for ANY project! I usually buy Valspar or Rust-oleum from Lowe's.

On smaller pieces of furniture the difference will only be a few dollars but will be worth it in the long run. 

Each of the brands come in LOTS of great colors...just find the color you love! I have found very little difference between the two brands...the Valspar tends to dry a tad quicker....but both are quality paints! ALWAYS shake the cans well and follow the directions on the can!!! 

I have followed every tip in the book to get rid of the occasional "striping" on large, flat surfaces...like dresser tops or table tops. It doesn't seem to matter how I spray, what the temperature is or how hard the wind is blowing...sometimes I get stripes.

My solution has been to purchase the little "sample pots" of paint custom mixed to match the spray paint I am using and roll it on the large flat surfaces with a 4" foam roller! 

Penetrol and Floetrol are a MUST any time you roll or brush on paint...oil or latex!

Use it. It will eliminate the brush and roller marks and give you a MUCH smoother finish! 

These are just a VERY few projects using the KSTP treatment (I have done hundreds!)....world of difference for a little bit of work! I am working on a piece right now that is in the S stage...primed and sanded but now I need to figure out what color I want to paint it...soon!

 

Even light fixtures and paddle fans can be spray painted!!! On metal pieces and furniture hardware, I use metal primer primarily for the "rust retardant" factor!

One last important TIP when using ANY technique to paint anything....ALWAYS give the piece time to cure before you put it to work! 

I was always skeptical of those "two day" makeovers they did on tv where they would paint something and then "stage" the pieces with all kinds of stuff within hours of putting a final coat on. (Kind of like getting your nails painted at the salon...even though you dry them for 10 minutes, you are still going to ding them if you dig in your purse for your keys! Unless you get gel polish...awesome stuff!) Trust me, that is the fasted way to ruin a finish! Don't do it...be patient and give the paint time to harden (cure) before you set a lamp on it or try to hang the fixture (trust me...I have had to repaint many pieces because of impatience!) 

One dated, nasty, cheapo piece of furniture can ruin an entire room. Toss it or paint it! YOU CAN DO IT!

*I have not been compensated for pimping these products! These are the products I use and work for me!!!*

A simple TV cabinet makeover...

This is the second year in a row I have been sick around Christmas. Fortunately, last year it was AFTER Christmas. This year it was BEFORE Christmas. Not good when I have so much to do the week before Christmas! I knew I felt bad Tuesday when I was out building fence (the wind did a number on my privacy fence at the apartments) but I didn't realize how bad I felt until I came home and sat down.

Now I have a list of things to do...presents to buy, a few things to return, wrapping boxes to hunt down, presents to ship, grocery shopping....and I feel to cruddy to even drag myself into the shower! Fortunately I THINK the worst is over so hopefully I'll feel like getting around later today!

In the meantime, I thought I would share another simple little makeover.

Remember all that dated, uninteresting furniture I keep harping on you to paint or do SOMETHING with! Well, this is just another example of a piece of furniture that no longer has a place or a purpose in our homes...unless you roll up your sleeves and give it a little makeover.

The dreaded old "tv cabinet" ...or "hutch"....or whatever you want to call it!

Here I shared how I acquired this less-than-interesting piece and how I used beaded craft board to start this simple transformation!

I gave the inside a KSTP treatment with my "go to" off-white and gave the outside a little plaster paint/dristress treatment. But it still lacked "character" so I wiped down the entire cabinet with walnut stain. That changed the color from a soft "teal" to almost a "greenish" color but it also added depth to the finish! Kind of a "patina"....

I sealed it all with poly and changed out the hardware. Actually I painted the original round knobs black and added black cup pulls to the bottom drawer! Remember, if you are changing out hardware, you may have to patch some holes BEFORE you paint. In this case I had to do just that since the holes on the bottom drawer were 3" apart and the holes for the cup pulls are 2 1/2"...no biggy! Just patch them with wood filler, sand and then paint....then just drill new holes for the new hardware!

It would be simple to reinstall the doors...but in this case I decided to go with an "open shelf" look! 

Simple little update! Now this little cabinet is ready for another season of life! 


Another day, another project....and a new venture! And my annual HOLIDAY CHALLENGE!

My neighbors, Kenny and MaryAnn, bought a beautiful antique dresser. The problem with beautiful antique dressers is they usually need a little work. Ever watch the tv show "Botched?" I should do a show about "botched" repairs on old furniture because 9 times out of 10 someone else has already tried to "fix" little problems, only to create much bigger problems.

In exchange for a few hours of work and a few choice curse words, MaryAnn gave me this little pine cabinet....

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At some point Kenny had removed the back and like me, had NO idea where he put it. That is okay...I have "repurposed" little cabinets like this before and one of the first things I do is remove the back and replace it with something with a little more "character."

This tung and groove "craft board" is perfect for adding a little "pop" to otherwise boring or dated cabinets. Since I decided to remove the doors and turn this into an "open shelving" unit, I knew it needed a little something....

Rather than paint the boards a solid color, I usually do a little "white wash" treatment on them in whatever paint color I plan on using on the exterior. I painted the inside of this cabinet my favorite off-white color and plan on painting the outside a soft teal. 

The first thing I did was cut the boards down to the size I need for this project. Then I just dip my paint brush in water, then dip it in the paint, brush the boards, then wipe them with a damp cloth....

This allows the grain to show while still giving the boards a little color. After the boards dry, I spray them with a clear coat. 

I put a tiny bit of glue in the "groove" of each board. Not a lot or it will ooze out and make a mess...a little glue goes a long way...and fit them together one at a time across the back! 

I use my pneumatic stapler to attach them to the cabinet....

This board is so thin you could probably attach it with a manual stapler if that is what you have handy!

This bead board really does dress up and update these old cabinets..

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Now all I have left to do is paint the exterior and replace the hardware...I will make sure I share the transformation when I get it finished!

I recently used this same treatment on a huge old ugly (but very solid oak) cabinet I hauled home from the apartments. 

I decided to use it for display in my new "room" at 410 Vintage

Yep, this is my "new venture." An entire room at 410 Vintage, rather than just a booth!

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This is just a little sneak peak at my new room...you can see the amazing ratan chairs that started out in a total state of FIX ME!!!!

(I had several dining room tables that where set all pretty for Christmas...neither lasted a day!)

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A couple of little side tables that had a bad case of the uglies...

They both just needed a little TLC...

I have filled this room with my auction treasures and furniture rehabs...its is a fun space!

If you are local and have not checked out 410 Vintage in Fayetteville, you really should drop in! The owner has one side filled with "mid century" awesomeness and the other side of the building are spaces filled with anything and everything vintage, retro, antique and wonderful! They have an Instagram page that is updated several times a day with new arrivals. I don't have an Instagram page but if you do, you might want to check it out!

HOLIDAY CHALLENGE!

This is the time of the year when I want to remind you of my "HOLIDAY CHALLENGE!" Our family use to do the Angel Tree every year and always enjoyed buying gifts for our "angel." But as the kids have grown and have less time to shop with Mom, I have encouraged them to find their own way of giving. For me, it is random giving. Every year I set aside 5 $20 bills...and I wait. At some point during the season, I will run across someone who will have a "need." Maybe at the grocery store...or the car hop at Sonic. One time I was getting gas and I felt the person at the pump next to me could probably use gas money. You never know...if you open your heart, you will know when to give! 

If you don't have a lot of cash to give, give of your time!

We may not have everything we WANT, but we always had what we NEEDED! It feels wonderful to be able to give back...even if it is just a tiny bit! 

A few new storage solutions!

In my quest to make my kitchen a tad more "user friendly" I stumbled upon a nifty little storage gadget at Lowes that will help me manage my casserole dishes and mixing bowls a bit better. 

As I have mentioned, in my "dream kitchen" I have nothing but big deep drawers in my lower cabinets. Unfortunately that is a "dream" so I have to work with what I have and digging around in a lower cabinet for heavy casserole dishes and keeping all my mixing bowls organized has become an issue.  

Again, and I can not stress this enough, the number one key to getting organized is PURGING!

Pull it ALL out and ask yourself...DO I REALLY NEED THIS?! In my kitchen cabinet, I had several casserole dishes that were duplicates of what I have but they didn't have lids. Do not need! I had 5 large 9x13 casserole pans...do not need them all! I had 3 stainless bowls the same size, which made stacking them a impossible...do not need! I have FIVE crock pots...two smaller ones just for dips and such. I DO need those but only once or twice a year so there is no need for them to take up valuable kitchen real estate. So off to the hall pantry they went! 

I contemplated building and installing either 4 drawers or 2 large drawers in this cabinet base. Lots of work! So when I found these nifty little metal storage drawers at Lowe's I knew I had found a relatively easy solution.

The problem with these metal drawers is they are not custom sized so I was going to end up with a lot of "dead space." I decided to only install one for my bowls and casserole dishes since those are things I use almost every time I cook. I left the other side shelf space for crock pots and dishes I only use occasionally.

The drawer component lets me easily get to my bowls and casseroles dishes without wallering around on the floor and pulling everything out to get to the stuff in the back.

A perfect, and simple, solution for organizing a tough space.

When Brian and I went scrounging around the flea market out in Tontitown last weekend, I found this neat little wall decor. A framed chalkboard with two "distressed" wire baskets. I knew it would be perfect for organizing magazines that tend to get piled up in the coffee table, which in turn means they get ignored!

I'm pretty sure it is probably something one could pick up at Hobby Lobby, or something I could easily make with an old frame and paper storage racks from an office supply store. But it was there, and it was done...the only thing I did not like was the original  finish on the frame...kind of a "white-wash" natural wood looking thing. I immediately painted it with some chalk paint and distressed and sealed it. Great for magazines or mail. Remodelaholics featured a bathroom with a similar one.

I like it in the bathroom but I am of the opinion that if you are in the bathroom long enough to read an article, you probably ought to seek treatment. Just saying....

Last fall I bought this awesome antique sewing machine at an auction. The "lid" flips back to reveal the machine

I immediately fell in love with the little wood box that covered the machine. After a little research I discovered they are called coffins....most often in mahogany or walnut. BEAUTIFUL! I immediately jumped on Ebay and found a few of these amazing little boxes.

Naturally they needed to be refinished, but a little magic mixture and a few coats of tung oil and they are amazing!

My original plan was to use them in the "kitchen reset," but there really was no good place for them so I have them scattered around the house for storage. In the den, I use them to store some of my photo albums. They would be darling with little castors for "rolling" storage. l absolutely love them! 

When I reset my kitchen, I dug around in my flea booths looking for "functional decor." In other words, pretty with a purpose! A few things caught my eye.

The first was a little glass pumpkin...perfect for this time of the year! I usually keep my coffee in a crystal decanter, but this little pumpkin is perfect for the fall season.

Now I am going to be on the look out for one I can use for the Christmas season!

I also found this little sterling silver piece. I THINK it might have originally been for sugar since it has a little notch in the lid where a spoon may have rested but most sugar jars are smaller. Regardless, it is the perfect size for my coffee filters. 

And of course the need to store 1/2 of my dishes when I built my floating shelves...seriously, who needs 20 plates! I purchased this little basket from Kaufmann Merchantile with a gift certificate from my son but I also found some on Amazon and have ordered 3 for my holiday wrapping station! (I'll share that little project when I get it set up!)

I have mentioned time and again that I really don't decorate much with  "pretty" without "function" or purpose...unless something has sentimental meaning. 

I am learning that these little touches are what really give a home "character." No need to use boring old plastic containers or cardboard boxes if you can "think outside the box" and find interesting pieces that are "pretty" but can also serve a useful function! 

Anything that can make my life more organized is great...the fact that it is pretty or interesting is a huge plus!






THREE different Floating shelf tutorials...

I am going to wait to do a full reveal on my kitchen "reset." I call it a "reset" because I didn't paint the exterior of the cabinets or get new flooring or counters...just moved cabinets around, removed a few doors, painted the inside of a few cabinets, added some under-counter lighting and added shelving. So while it is a major change, and looks and functions MUCH better, it isn't a full-blown makeover.

Today I am going to share a tutorial on floating shelves. Actually THREE different tutorials!

The first thing I had to do was figure out which cabinets I wanted to "pop up" and where I wanted open shelving. That was what all the planning and measuring and drawing has been all about for the last few months. After I decided on the "configuration" of the cabinetry, I moved the cabinets that needed to be moved (see a tutorial on doing that hereand decided what "stuff" I wanted on each shelf...that is an important part of the plan because you don't want to plan on storing a 10" tall Anchor Hocking jar on a shelf that, in the end, only has 9" clearance!

The problem with adding floating shelves to any room is the need to plan for the weight of the items it will hold and whether or not there are studs to anchor the support.

In my kitchen, I had four areas I wanted to add floating shelves. I didn't want brackets, so the "support" for each shelf was a huge issue. In the end, I had to construct and anchor three different types of shelving to give me the clean look of floating shelves!

The first area was the hardest only because it was the longest span and will hold all my dishes. When I weighed my dishes they came to SIXTY FOUR POUNDS!!!! Just for plates, bowls and salad plates....that didn't account for cups, glasses or condiment bowls! Course then it dawned on me that I really didn't NEED to display ALL my dishes so I pulled out 8 place settings and stored the rest above the pantry! Not a great place to store something you use every day, but perfect for things you only need a few times a year! I actually have MORE of these dishes in my hall pantry...they are Pier One Bianca ironstone and they don't make it any more...so I stock up every time I find them on Ebay or Etsy!

The two shelves were still going to hold a lot of weight and I knew I needed something sturdier than a pre-build floating shelf you buy at Lowe's. 

The wiring is from my under counter lighting that was attached to the cabinet! Notice the black piece of electrical tape on the switch so someone didn't accidentally flip that switch!!

I found a tutorial online for floating shelves using metal brackets attached to the studs by cutting out the sheetrock. God help me, I did not save the link! Since I knew what I needed to do, I didn't need to refer back to the tutorial! Hopefully my tutorial will give you the information you need!

My plan was to attach L brackets directly to the studs and then conceal them with sheetrock and the construction of the shelf! 

The first thing I did was locate the two studs with a stud-finder. I marked the location, used my L brackets to "trace" out the area I needed to cut out and then cut out the sheetrock. 

You can use a Dremel with a cutting blade but I didn't want to blow dust all over the place. I just cut it out with a utility knife and chisel.

After cutting out the opening, I set the L brackets directly on the studs, made sure it was level between the brackets by laying a 24" level across the two, predrilled the holes for the screws and then attached them to the studs using heavy duty wood screws...3/8" bolts will work as well!!! 

You may notice that the brackets are set 1/4" above the top of the tile...that is because the underside of the shelf will be 1/4" plywood and I want to be able to slip it on top of the tile. Someday I MIGHT change my backsplash and I want to be able to remove the tile without messing with the shelving!

After the brackets were attached, I used sheetrock mud to fill in the holes...right over the bracket attached to the studs. You could "patch" the area like I showed you here, or you can just fill them with mud. As the mud dries, it will crack, and you may have to sand and refill it 2-3 times...no biggy....I had a lot of stuff going on over several days so I wasn't in a hurry!

After the mud dried, I sanded it well, sprayed it with texture (again, this tutorial shows you how to do that) and then painted it (AGAIN, this is where having leftover touchup paint is SO important...unless you are repainting the entire wall!)

Here is the downside to doing tutorials...I don't always take the pictures I should take! Sooooooo......try to follow me here. The shelf was pretty much constructed the same way the shelves adjacent to the refrigerator were...so you can see pictures of the construction later in this post!

I cut, primed, sanded and put one coat of paint on all the shelving components before I put them together...that way, once it was all constructed all I had to do was caulk, putty the holes and give it one final coat of paint! (I used oil based paint on the shelves...maybe overkill but I know it will hold up!)

I used 3/8" plywood for the top of the shelf...I cut it (and the 1/4" ply for the underside) the size I wanted the shelf, LESS the 1/2" for the strips of wood used to face the front and both sides (Example, if you want your shelf to be 8" deep and 30" wide, you would cut your plywood 7 1/2" x 29"). I glued and nailed 1/2" plywood strips to the underside of the 3/8" top to create a "channel" for the electrical cord for the under counter lighting and for the bracket. I laid the 3/8" plywood across the two brackets and attached the top to the L bracket with #10-3/8" screws and then glued and nailed 1/4" plywood to the underside. So all in all, the thickness of each shelf was 1 1/8" thick (3/8" top + 1/2" inside strips + 1/4" underside = 1 1/8" thick.)

I wanted to reinstall my under counter lighting to the bottom shelf so I measured for it's placement and drilled holes for the electrical wiring in the underside (1/4" plywood) of the bottom shelf and ran the wiring between the "channels" and through the holes before I attached the bottom to the top of the shelf. KNOW WHERE YOUR ELECTRICAL WIRING IS so you don't put a nail through it when you are nailing the underside to the top!

I capped the edges off with 1/2" boards...1/2 x 2" (actually 1/2" x 1 1/2") for the top shelf with no light and 1/2 x 3" (actually 1/2" x 2 1/2") for the bottom shelf so the light fixture would not show when it was installed. Caulked, puttied and gave them one final coat of paint!

A huge advantage to constructing your own support or frame is you can make the shelves any depth you want...I actually made the bottom shelf a little deeper than the top shelf.

The spice corner was a tad easier. Since the items on those shelves were pretty light weight I used premade floating shelves. The only adjustment was the width of the shelves. The smallest premade floating shelf I could find was 18" but my space was only 15". The upside is the metal bracket the shelf slips on to was only 15" wide, so I was able to cut the actual shelf down...1 1/2" off each side, and still use the metal bracket! I painted those to match the dish shelf and installed them per the directions. (Yes, you can easily paint pre-made floating shelves...you aren't limited to white or black!)

The two 15" shelves on either side of the refrigerator were another "challenge" and constructed completely different because one side had NO studs in the 15" span and the other side only had ONE stud. Curses.

Not a biggy. Sometimes you just have to get creative!!! 

I built a "skeleton" for each shelf using 1x2 material (actually 3/4" x 1 1/2") I didn't want to make the skeleton too terribly heavy but since only one side of each shelf could be attached to the adjacent cabinet, I decided to beef up the "free floating" side with a 2x2" (actually 1 1/2" x 1 1/2") I used oak on the side that attaches to the wall since it is a "harder" wood! The rest is poplar since it is a little bit lighter! Make sure when you "design" your skeleton that you account for the 1/2" "facing" that will go on the front and sides. For example, my space was 15" wide x 14" deep...since I was "facing" the shelves with 1/2" material on the front and one side, I made my skeleton 14 1/2" x 13 1/2". Sometimes it helps to actually draw it out with the measurements!

I glued each joint, tacked them with a trim nailer and then counter sunk screws...just to make it all nice and sturdy!

If you don't have a special "counter sink" screw bit, you can always cheat like I do...first, predrill the hole using a small bit (1/16th ish bit!)...

...then use a bit that is a tad larger than your screw head and drill on top of the small bit hole, maybe 1/8" deep...then just put your screw in!

It is important to predrill holes because the wood WILL split if you do not!

After constructing the "skeleton" for the shelf, I placed it on the wall, leveled it, then predrilled 4 holes through the skeleton into the sheetrock. 

Notice I tacked a piece of 1/4" plywood to the bottom of the skeleton so I could maintain enough space to slip the 1/4" plywood underside on after the skeleton and top were installed!

After pre-drilling the holes through the skeleton and into the wall, I removed the shelf and inserted "self-screwing" sheetrock anchors into the wall... the package says they hold 80 pounds each...I'm hoping four will do the job since there is no stud in this area!!!

I used the screws that came with the self-drilling drywall anchors to secure the skeleton to the wall. I added washers on the left shelf since it didn't have a stud in the wall to attach to.... just for good measure!

Litty inspected my work every step of the way!!!!

 The right side had one stud to anchor to, so I used two self-drilling drywall anchors (no washers this time) and two sheetrock screws into the stud. For good measure I used my nail gun to nail from the inside of the skeleton into the adjoining cabinet (making sure it was level from back to front!)...again, probably overkill!

After the skeletons for the shelves were securely anchored, I used 1/2" plywood for the top and 1/4"  for the underside. Glue and a few trim nails. The thickness of the shelf is 1/2" top + 1 1/2" skeleton + 1/4" underside = 2 1/4"... so I used 1/2" x 3" boards (again, actually 2 1/2") for the front and sides (all pre-primed and 1 coat of paint). Caulk, putty, paint!

Three different construction methods...this is one of those times when one shoe WILL NOT fit all and you really have to get creative! 

This may all seem like a daunting task...and I may make it seem easy. But even for me, it is not. You really have to think, and draw, and measure and plan. And be willing to throw your hands up and start over when something doesn't work the way you thought it would! THAT is what DIY is all about.

You may have noticed that since I popped up the cabinets, you can actually see the underside now...that will not do! And that is one of the pieces of "trim" I am waiting on to finish things up...1/8" maple ply that will cover the underside of the cabinets. I had David at Sherwin Williams do a stain match and he did an AWESOME job...so as soon as the trim and skins come in and I get them stained and installed, I will do a full reveal! 

In the end...I have exactly what I want...open shelving in my kitchen and when I reveal the entire kitchen you will see how this all ties together. At least for now you know that you are not limited to the measly little 10 pound limit of a pre-built floating shelf! You CAN build a floating shelf that will hold more weight, anywhere you want! 

"Blah" to "BAM" cheap furniture makeovers...YOU CAN DO IT!!!

This past week I have been working on my kitchen (I told you the "small" projects wouldn't squash the urge!) I still have a few little trim details to hunt down and then I will try to do a feature next week. I had to construct three different types of open shelving and I rewired an 80 year old Westinghouse fan...AND IT WORKS!!! I'll share all that as well!

This week I want to share a few little projects that YOU can do! Do you have a piece of furniture (or two or ten) that is just "blah?" A cheap little shelving unit you picked up at the big box store and put together with the little allen wrench that came with the screws. Maybe a few ancient bedside tables you inherited from your mom. A particle board table that has seen it's better days.

I know I have harped on this before, but seriously it bares repeating! If you are just starting out, are on a tight budget, feel the need to keep furniture given to you by family, or just want to change things up a bit, you NEED to be able to do simple makeovers!

Before you toss a piece of furniture to the curb, think about "updating" it a tad. Even the cheapest, most basic piece can be saved with just a tiny bit of time and effort! As I have said time and again, the worst that can happen is you still hate it and it still only brings $1 at your next garage sale. 

I find pieces like this all the time at my apartments. I drag them home, clean them up with ammonia (stinky but gets the old gunk off!) and then give them a little facelift!

This was one haul out of one unit....

The little bedside tables are the old orange maple...ugly as sin but super sturdy and solid wood! The little coffee table is one of those inexpensive "fake" wood things that comes with the little allen wrench tool for the bolts! And the spindle shelf had particle board shelving. All in all, pretty dated stuff!

This little shelf came out of another unit...

It was missing a drawer and it had a few loose bolts, but whatever...still salvageable!

I find these things in my apartments, but you can find them at thrift stores and garage sales for next to nothing! 

All I did to the little shelf with reeded drawers was give it a little KSTP treatment (Kilz, sand, tack cloth and paint!

Perfect for added storage in a bathroom, kitchen or kid's room!

I decided to do something a little fancier on the coffee table and bedside tables. I striped the tops with the acetone/lacquer thinner mixture, added a little java gel stain, then sealed them with spray on poly (if stripping and staining is beyond your skill level, just paint the tops!)

The bases are simple KSTP treatment. New hardware on the bedside tables and these pieces are perfect for updating any space! 

The spindle corner shelf got a simple KSTP treatment! 

I don't have a "before" picture of the little chalkboard shelf. Basically it was a stained wood frame with an ugly picture of a teddy bear! Ewwwww. Gave the frame a chalkpaint and distress treatment (spray paint would work too!) and I painted the board backing with chalkboard paint. Super simple "upcycle!"

Years ago I scrapbooked all the boys athletic pictures. A chore considering they both played football and baseball their entire childhood! (I strongly suggest you do this every year rather than try to find time to do all 15 years at once!)

The square frames were a perfect fit for a 12x12 piece of scrapbook paper and would be perfect for someone who wanted an easy way to display their kid's sports pictures. I applied the scrapbook paper onto the foam backing with a spritz of spray adhesive, used a glue stick to attach pictures and KSTP the frames. This would be the perfect way to "scrapbook" photos...then you can take them out of the frame and just slip them into an album when it is time to change out the pictures next year!

Before you paint a piece, make sure all the "bolts and joints" are tight and the piece is sturdy. If tightening a screw or bolt doesn't solve the wobbles, take time to GLUE AND CLAMP whatever ails the piece. No sense in making it pretty if it is going to collapse the first time one of the kids leans on it! 

All these projects have one thing in common. Spray paint. Seriously...a little primer, a little sanding and a little spray paint...and you have changed the entire look! 

I have shared many of these simple little makeovers in the past! A few dressers here, here here and here. Several coffee tables here, here and here and Lord knows how many frame makeovers (herehere, and here!)

Challenge yourself. Pick out ONE piece of furniture or a frame in your house you really don't like. Go to Lowes and pick up a can of Kilz, a little sandpaper, a package of tack cloth and a can of your favorite color spray paint (total under $15) and give it a go! YOU CAN DO IT! 

I promise!