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Category Archives: Repurposing

Repurposing Old Shutters

Sorry for being a day late posting this week. I’ve been so out of it sick all week that I don’t know what day it really is. But enough of that…here is a project I’ve been dying to reveal for a while. I completed these before Christmas but couldn’t talk about them and ruin the surprise for my nieces. I have four nieces through marriage, ranging in age from 13 to 22 (I think…I’m bad with ages). The youngest was just a baby when I started dating the Rock Star, so yeah these girls mean a lot to me.

I love making them one-of-a-kind, personal gifts whenever I can and I had seen a lot of shutter transformations online. Seemed easy enough. Here goes nothing!

I bought four shutters at Habitat Restore for $2 each. Here are two of the shutters before. Can’t find the other two before shot, but image them taller and painted yellow…

I removed the hinges and pulls and puddied the holes. On the painted pair I sanded down the paint and knocked out a few broken slats.

Then I primed the short pair and used liquid sander on the painted pair before priming.

With a blank canvass, I decided what I wanted to do with each shutter. For the shorter ones I decided magnetic primer would be fun around the edges. Some tips about magnetic primer…the gritty magnetic stuff settles quickly. I had to go back to Home Depot twice to get it shaken and almost broke my arm stirring it the first time. And it takes a lot of coats.

Meanwhile I cut some basic plywood and sprayed them with chalkboard paint for the larger boards.

Then came the fun part…colors! I selected a color for each niece that suited them perfectly. Of course you want to move the slats around and paint from every angle.

For some reason I don’t have a picture of the pink one being painted. After painting, I attached picture hangers to the top (two of them needed wood extenders beneath them so they could hang evenly because of the slat bar that moves the slats up and down) and used wood glue to secure the slats in place.

I nailed the chalkboard pieces to the two taller boards with a brad nailer…ok so my father-in-law did mostly, but he let me use it twice. I’m still learning power tools. Then it was just a matter of presentation. I added magnets and clips to hold pictures or messages.

My two youngest nieces sent me pics of the boards all decked-out in their rooms. 🙂

So…an inexpensive, fun gift for anyone in your life with endless possibilities! I’d say it’s a winner. Have you tackled any handmade gifts recently? Let me know about it below.

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Repurposed Barnwood Table

Last week I revealed my barnwood-top hairpin leg table over at Buffalo-Roam. I promised more details so here we go!

I placed at bid on this table at a Brown Button estate sale a while ago. I have a love/hate relationship with Brown Button. I love their stuff, but unlike other sales they know the value of everything! 😉 I guess you could call it good business… But I placed a bid on this table for just under half price hoping no one else would see the potential. I’ve since gotten to know some of the Brown Button people better (like Michael who has a son not too much older than my own) and I’d say the relationship is more love now. Seriously check out their sales any time you can! Anyway, here’s the table before.

Do you see the gold-flecked awfulness? Oh you need a better look?

I’m pretty sure someone out there loves it. But it’s not me. Of course the top had to go. But then I couldn’t decide between tile and wood to replace the top. Because while I liked this, I also liked this and this. Ultimately I decided the barnwood was more en vogue, not to mention free to me. 🙂

I wish I would have taken a before picture of the barnwood slat. Just imagine me hauling (ok let’s be honest, Grandpa loves helping his eldest grandchild) my 81-year-old grandpa out to his shed to find the sole remaining piece of barnwood in his collection. I’m sure Grandpa shakes his head at what a young-in like me takes a liking to, and he said he’s never had a picker stop by. I told him one day I’d be more bold and rummage through his shed with the caving-in floor. The very same shed where he pulled out his table saw and sliced the barnwood in half for me so it would fit in the trunk of my brother’s car.

Christmas Eve Eve I persuaded my father-in-law to help me (do it for me) cut the pieces down even further. We debated whether or not to do three equal-sized slats vs. staggering the widths, only to find out there wasn’t enough wood to do three equal pieces. Luckily I was on board with the staggered idea. We assessed the location of nail holes, knot holes, paint patches, etc. and I got to bring home a great Christmas present: wood cut for free. 🙂

I sanded down the rough edges, power washed the boards and used a bristle brush to remove any dirt leftover. Then I used spray poly to seal the deal.

Somehow my red kicks always seem to photobomb my pictures. And nevermind the leftover pink paint from a Christmas present project, or the fact that this picture was taken in January and the grass is still green in Kansas. Weirdo weather. But isn’t this wood beautiful?

I laid the wood on the hairpin leg base and actually ended up securing the boards together on the bottom with a metal brace. But now she looks like this.

I love every little imperfection, hole, nail mark, paint splotch and discoloration. Isn’t that what rustic is all about? I’ve also got pieces left over and I plan on using every scrap of that precious barnwood. More projects to come! The table will be up on Craigslist shortly. We’ll see how much I can squeeze out of it.

Stay tuned, on Thursday I’ll go over how I turned $2 shutters into message boards for my nieces for Christmas. Been waiting to share that one for a while! Happy hunting!

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Guest Post: Glass Insulator Pendant Lights

So you’ve all heard me mentioning my friend Amy lately. I found the claw feet for her powder room vanity in the new house she’s building with her beautiful family. She grew up with The Rock Star and she is literally one of the most beautiful people I know, inside and out. She has a flare for repurposing rustic things and a fabulous eye for the possibilities that lay in old wood beams and discarded materials. So, we’re swapping blogs today! You can find me over at her blog Buffalo Roam today unveiling a whole new project I’ve been working on. More details on that coming your way next month! Without further ado…

Hi, Grandma Great’s Treasures lovers! My name is Amy, and I blog over at Buffalo Roam. I’m thrilled that Erin was willing to swap blogs with me today, because I am a huge fan of hers. She has amazing taste, a great eye, and a real talent for giving vintage pieces new life. She’s got an Etsy shop you can find a link to right here on her blog if you want proof! She is one of the few bloggers I know in real life, and feel so lucky to have that privilege. She is one of the most genuine and sweet people I have ever known, and if you ever need a few words of encouragement, I highly suggest you get them from Erin!

My husband and I are currently in the process of building a home. When we decided to build, we knew we wanted something different, something that was “us”. We hoped to use as many reclaimed and reused items as possible, not because we’re all noble and green (though we try!), but just because we love the character that comes only from pieces with a history. We also wanted to DIY a few things to add our own fingerprint, and to save some money if possible. My husband, D, has been working on some lighting I’d like to share with you today.

Our kitchen is wired for six pendant lights to hang down between our island and the cabinets, in a sort of “L” shape. Lucky for us, D was an electrician in a former life and suggested making our own pendant lights out of some old glass insulators we got for a steal off Craigslist. My grandpa worked for the Santa Fe railroad, so I have a bit of a soft spot for these.

His first step was figuring out how to drill a hole through them without them shattering. I’m proud to report that he figured it out on the first try and we had no casualties. The trick was to put them in a bowl of water, end to be drilled down, then fill the insulator itself with water and drill through the middle.

We found these mini pendant kits at Menard’s for $8.

We went with a bronze finish, thinking that would look nice with both the clear and turquoise glass. The kits come with instructions, and are very simple and easy to wire. I might have even been able to figure it out on my own!

Find yourself a teeny little lightbulb with a flat bottom so the bulb itself doesn’t hang lower than the insulator. We got a 40 watt and were shocked by how much light it produced through the glass.

You may have noticed that it is plugged in to the wall with bare wires from the cord. Don’t be like us. Don’t try that at home. D is a trained professional, remember? Either that, or I just really wanted a picture of it lit up for this post since they won’t be installed in the new house for a while yet.

Total, we spent about $10 a piece for the glass insulators and the mini pendant kits. So $60 to light our whole kitchen. I’m so pleased with them! Not only because they turned out so well, but because each time I turn them on, I will see D’s fingerprint on our home.

Many thanks to Erin for having me today! I’ve loved being here, and if she’s not already in your reader, go on ahead and add her now. You can thank me later.

My first assigned picking adventure

A couple of months ago my friend Amy at Buffalo Roam asked me to keep an eye out for some claw feet for this. She’s putting it in her powder room in her new home that she and her husband are building out of recycled materials and such. It’s going to be amazing, but I never thought I’d be able to find decent claw feet locally for a good price. Then I ended up in Grandview, MO, at a sale I found on Craigslist. We were on our way to Lee’s Summit, MO, anyway, so we thought we’d check this sale out, too. Boy I’m glad I did! The man’s father was a table maker and he had these amazing cast iron claw feet in a box that I wouldn’t have noticed except a lady was haggling with him for them. She gave up because she didn’t know what she’d do with them. Of course I knew exactly what to do with them. They were meant for Amy.

I love the detail.

And yes, Napoleon, it does have large talons.

I paid $10 each for them (there Amy, now you know how much profit I gained lol), which allowed me to offer a fair price to Amy…and she even bumped it up $5 for gas. I love that lady. So I guess it’s safe to say my first assigned picking adventure was a success. It helps that I knew my client fairly well and her style. Check out her house progress here. You’ll be in awe.

I’ll be back Thursday with my other finds from last weekend’s adventure. I managed to squeeze one more deal out of the table maker’s son. Details coming soon. 😉

P.S. Do you have something you just can’t find or don’t have the time to find? Tell me about it below and I’ll keep it on my lookout list! Also check out my Etsy page on the right for vintage treasures already for sale.

Rustic DIY Winter Wreath

Last fall with inspiration from friends, I tackled my first seasonal wreath. This time around I fell in love with this rustic winter wreath.

I’ll admit this project has taken me a tad longer than usual, but it’s Jan. 11 in Kansas and it’s still 50 degrees outside. It’s been around 60 degrees for a couple of weeks. It’s so warm I just couldn’t get myself in the winter mood, even with Christmas passing. But, the warm weather has been a blessing in the painting outside department, which helped a lot of projects move along.

So here she is, my lovely winter wreath!

My son says “SUN!” whenever he sees this wreath. Zooming out, I’m sure I need to lower it, but all be darned if I can find the motivation…

This wreath was a no-brainer as we had quite a few fall wind storms and a lot of fallen branches. I just snapped off small straight sticks of varying widths and snipped them at random lengths. Then I divided them evenly and sprayed them with white, aqua and turquoise spray paint. I then snagged a cheap foam circle from Hobby Lobby and hot glued the sticks around it.

After the first layer, it was obvious I needed a second to further conceal the foam ring. So out to the yard for more sticks, more paint, more glue. Thank goodness for the warm weather! This time I cut the sticks shorter. The hedge trimmer worked well for this purpose.

So there she is. Hope you like her. She adds some color to the dull winter I’m sure has to be coming around the corner, right? But she still has that rustic winter feel I was going for and will take us right in to spring without a hitch.

Post links to your winter decor projects, I’d love to see them!

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Pinspiration and a New Friend

Every once in a while I get inspired enough to actually execute something I’ve pinned on Pinterest. Here’s my “Pinspiration”. (And please excuse my craptastic camera. I definitely need a new one!)

First, I mentioned the fabric I found at a great store here.

I’ve been wanting to create something to balance out the wall around our TV since hanging an old window I received from my aunt last June. When I scored a mess of embroidery hoops at an estate sale, I knew I wanted to use my Pinspiration to make some art. And see how well it balances now?

If I could define myself in a piece of fabric it would be the large floral print here. I love it so much!

And though it’s hard to see, the little blue guy below it has the most adorable little heart-shaped yellow flowers.

I’ve also been needing some visual stimulation on the wall upstairs around our desk. I’ve been leaning toward a more modern red/white/black motif there (not sure why), so I picked fabrics accordingly and painted just the outer hoops on the sides and front white or black.

I also picked up a black frame from TLC Thrifty Boutique. For some reason at this point I was too lazy to paint a frame myself, and I like Theresa. 😉 I matted it with some love scrapbook paper I found on clearance at Hobby Lobby ($.17) and printed a motivational statement to inspire and remind me every day how lucky I am to have the opportunity to love what I do.

And since sometimes I get lonely at my desk, I needed a pal. Insert Hubert (Hugh), whom I found at an estate sale last weekend. He keeps me company and I pretend he’s in the jungle next to my spider plants.

The embroidery hoop art is so easy it’s ridiculous. And you can change it out any time you tire of a particular pattern. Simply place the fabric between the two hoops and trim the excess. And since most come with a natural wood finish, they are easy to paint without priming. What have you been Pinspired to do lately? I’d love to see!

Easy DIY Door Desk

Easy DIY Door Desk

First let’s put some perspective on this project. The magazine I work on full-time was purchased by an out-of-state company early this year, so starting in February I began working from home. After nine months, the space looked like this:

It wasn’t pretty. Add to that the fact that the Rock Star stays home and watches Liam during the day; so imagine us both crammed together at a corner desk trying to work at the same time. Of course I did make a point to photograph the space at its messiest, just for the effect.

Something had to be done. Inspired by Young House Love’s DIY desk project as well as this space and this Pinterest image here, I decided the most economical, practical and fun solution for my office space was to DIY a door desk. Now, I don’t own a Kreg Jig like YHL, nor did I want to spend a million dollars on a custom piece of glass; the name of the game was cheap.

I visited our local Habitat Restore and found a perfect hollow door for $5. It measures 24″ x 80″. Most of their doors are $5 unless they’re solid or carved or something. It was painted on one side and was relatively in good condition. I gave it a good sanding with the orbital sander and the Rock Star used his crazy mad puddying skillz to fill in the spaces where the hinges were and a couple of random holes where a hook had been installed. I didn’t bother filling in the doorknob hole you see on the side of the door here because it was going to face the wall anyway.

I forgot to take a picture of the after-puddy shot, but I tell you I cannot tell where those holes are anymore. Next I gave the door a good coat of primer and a few coats of Exterior white paint. I used exterior because one lady at Home Depot told me it was more durable, but a guy at the same store told me the only difference was an anti-mildew compound. Oh well…paint is paint for this purpose.

Now for the fun part. You can set a door desk on just about anything, just measure to make sure the height is comfortable to sit at. Mine supports are just over 26″ (we had to cut 1-3/8″ off the sawhorse legs) and perfect for me (and my chiropractor’s rules for ergonomic workspaces). Google DIY door desk and you can see a multitude of things you can use to support a door desk: bookshelves, file cabinets, saw horses, etc. Since most of my house is very vintage, I wanted this space to be sleek and modern…maybe since it goes so well with the equipment. So I chose to use a lateral file cabinet that I got from my previous work for $5 and “splurged” on black sawhorse-looking legs from IKEA. If IKEA would wake up and put a store in KC, it would have only been $15, but I found a deal with a local company called Blue Box Delivery who does the driving and shopping for you and it only cost me $29.45 (much better than IKEA’s shipping cost). Once I set everything in place and re-hooked up all the equipment, I was pretty happy with the result. (Ignoring the broken window and mess of cords.)

Next step is accessorizing, which I started with spider plants in pickle jars and matte spray-painted mason jars for the pens and paperclips.

But it still needs more work. And the problems I see now are the mess of cords (although the doorknob hole makes for a very good cord drop) and how to hide them. If only we just had two laptops to hook up, but when you factor in a modem, router, two computers, a monitor, telephone, two printers, etc, that’s a lot of cords. I was thinking of hanging fabric from the back, but wondered if that might be a fire hazard…guess it’s time to google some ideas.

This was such an easy project that anyone can do. No sawing, no screwing, no nailing, just some paint and the IKEA legs came with rubber pads on the top which helps hold the desk in place.

How about your home office? What have you done to make it more functional or comfortable? I’d love to hear about it!

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