Wide Stripes: Hallway Paint Idea for a Unique Look

Strip Hallway Paint Idea

Our first home was a three-bedroom house with no real hallways. When we moved into our new house, I was so excited by this long hallway. Whereas all three bedroom doors used to be right next to each other, we couldn’t even see the door of the 5th bedroom at the end of the hall. It felt gloriously spacious. I knew I had to something special with this long wall. I settled on wide stripes as the backdrop for the gallery of photos I had just put together for the old house. If you’re looking for a statement hallway, go and ahead and try this stripe hallway paint idea.

Hallway Paint Idea

While searching for ideas for the new house, I was inspired by a wall on Girl in The Red Shoes. I loved the gray and white color pallet. The wide stripes also seemed less time consuming and busy than thinner striped versions. 

Getting Started

Supplies:

  • Painter’s Tape
  • Measuring Tape
  • White Paint in your desired finish (I used Satin)
  • Gray Paint in the same finish
  • Lazer level (if you have one)
  • Paint brushes
  • Two Paint Rollers
  • Step ladder
  • TIME

Maybe your asking yourself, “what is my desired finish”? To answer that, check out this fun pictorial from Building Moxie.

Paint Sheen by Room via Renovate Your World

I generally stay away from flat for the simple reason that it seems to collect dirt. Our walls had year old builder grade flat white paint that was DIRTY from 3 little girls.  Satin was my paint finish choice. 

Blank Canvas needing a Hallway Paint idea

The first step was to paint the whole wall with satin white paint. I used Color Place paint in Candlestick Silver for this. A quick tip for those painting over builder’s flat paint; you need to buy more paint than you think. The flat paint absorbs a lot of it.

The long hallway that inspired this hallway paint idea
This hallway is soooo long!

The Stripes

Using painter's tape for this hallway paint idea

Measure Measure Measure

To start, I measured the height of the wall (85 inches) and then determined an equal measurement for the stripes (7 stripes at roughly 12 2/16inches). As I said in my Stencil Coffee Table post, using those math skills tends to be necessary in my projects. This hallway paint idea was no different. Since I didn’t have a lazer level at the time, I initially measured from the ceiling and marked the height at several distances across the span of the wall. After the measuring and marking was complete, I started taping. 

What I realized when I got to the end of the hallway was that the crown molding was not completely straight and even. This meant my last stripe was thinner on one end than it was at the other. AHHHHHH. I had to measure all over again but from the floor. This was why my husband was wondering why it was taking me so long to finish. From there, I painted two coats of gray from the top and alternating down the stripes. 


Alternative Method for this Hallway Paint Idea

If measuring seems too tedious, I would definitely recommend a lazer level. I tend to do things as cheaply as possible, which generally means I’m not buying the tools that will undoubtedly make my life easier. Easier in this case being also more time effective. Obviously, that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. For those looking to make the project easier, here’s a quick video to help you decide what kind to go with Top 6 Lazer Level Review.  Among some common uses of lazer levels could be hanging pictures in line and placing anchors for shelves. 

Finished Striped hallway paint idea

Gallery Wall

Harder than measuring and taping was figuring out how I wanted to place all the photos and choosing the photos. As a fan of symmtery,  I tried to maintain symmetry as best I could. I put the frames on the floor to figure out how I wanted them to be positioned before taking it to the wall. Then, I measured the wall to find the middle position to hang the middle picture frame of my husband and me. 

Strip Hallway Paint Idea

Gallery wall with our initials. I had the K and G for years before I found a D that was close enough in size and style.

For the other walls in the hallway, I painted them solid gray. The white trim and crown molding tied it all together nicely. I hope you enjoyed the rundown and tips. Happy painting!

Flip Coffee Table Stencil Refinish

Plain black coffee table or stencil refinished coffee table?!  Which would you choose? When a neighbor posted the black coffee table as free to whoever wanted it, I jumped at the chance to give it a new unique look. Free is fabulous in my book. It was a composite wood table, so definitely not as durable nor easy to alter as real wood. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it meant I had to stick with a simple paint job. For this refinish, less was more, and perfect for anyone looking to do something new.

Start of the Stencil Refinish

I started this project by sanding down the shiny finish to give the paint a fighting chance of adhering to the surface. Sanding is not my favorite thing in the world, so it tends to be what shines through as my weak point in projects. My proof of this is to come.

Painting

To make my life easier, I bought paint from Michaels, teal and white. I try to fusion mineral paint when I can, but have found it’s hard to find it locally. You can use the website https://fusionmineralpaint.com/where-to-buy/ to find it near you or order online. instead of searching around for fusion paint. I started with painting the outside teal. Unfortunately, it didn’t adhere properly to the spots that weren’t sanded as well, so I was kicking myself a bit for that. 

I decided to take a step back and spray paint the whole thing with white primer. It was easier than sanding it all again and helped hide the black from coming through the first coat of the teal paint. 

You can plainly see the spotty finish in the top right there. Blah

After spray painting a few coats of white, I repainted the whole thing with the teal. I was happy with the final finish. I painted the cubbies and the internal storage area with white to give it a more defined look. When the solid colors dried, it was time to give it a stencil detail.

Stencil Refinish

Calculating stencil refinish

Then it was time to pull out the old pencil and paper. It’s crazy how many of my projects involve calculations. This tends to be my stuck point because of the fear of messing it up. I use the knowledge to reinforce the importance of understanding math with my three girls. For this stenciled top, I had to figure out the width of the border for the long side and short side by considering the width of the stencil and how many could fit across. This stencil was more of a challenge, because it wasn’t completely centered and square to the border. A Martha Stewart fail if you ask me.

First step Stencil Refinish

It’s a fine art

To be honest, I haven’t done a ton of stenciling. In the handful of stencil refinishing projects I’ve done, I have learned there’s a fine art to mastering it. It’s simply not easy to get it to be perfect. For instance, you have to have the exact amount of paint on your brush to keep it from seeping underneath the borders while still giving it a solid coat. I started by stamping/patting the loaded paintbrush on a paper plate to take off the excess and evenly distribute across the bristles. It’s best to start stamping the brush in the large open portion of the stencil to unload some of the paint there first before going towards the edges. 

Stencil Refinish preview
Be sure to use a square for repeating stencils to ensure everything stays even. This picture shows that the last stencil was slightly tilted to the left and was definitely visible to my OCD self.
Stencil refinish going off square
Some of the white coatings weren’t completely even and there was a bit of seepage. I decided to sand the whole top a bit to even it out and give it a very slight aged feel. This is a perfect example of how imperfect I can be and how you can hide mistakes if you think creatively.
Large Stencil in progress on refinish
After I completed the top, I finished it off with a large stencil on both ends to tie it all together.

Final Touches

Stencil Refinish almost complete

Then, I painted the cubbies and inside with white paint to finish with the painting portion of this project. I wanted to ensure the paint wouldn’t scratch or peel with frequent use so sealed it with polyurethane. Some polyurethane has a yellowish tint to it. Here’s a tip; if you use that on white paint, it will cause the white to go slightly yellow. If that’s alright with you, go for it, but if not go for a clear coating.

Major tips for patterned stenciling; Measure measure measure and a square (the tool, not the shape) will be your BFF.

The End Product:

And that’s a wrap on this Flip Coffee Table Stencil Refinish Project. Only a few supplies and a limited number of steps to a completely new look!

Stencil Coffee Table Refinish Final Product
Stencil Coffee Table Refinish in living room

Fantastically Colorful DIY Rainbow Shelves

Rainbow Shelves

Dare to love yourself as if you were a rainbow with gold at both ends.
― Aberjhani, Journey through the Power of the Rainbow

In 2015, we moved our family of five from a three-bedroom house to a five-bedroom house with loads of extra space. It was glorious for all of us, especially for the 7 and 4-year-old sisters who were previously sharing a room. The oldest liked sleeping with the door open, with music and lights on while the younger one preferred sleeping with the door closed in the quiet and with the lights off. Besides being able to control their own space, they also got to choose their room themes. The then 4-year-old unwaveringly went for

R A I N B O W

as her theme of choice. Curtains and sheets were easy to find. Shelves, on the other hand, weren’t something I could find in any nearby stores. The obvious choice was a mommy/daughter project to craft our own.

Supplies: 

  • Wood Cubes
  • Small Wood Screws
  • Wood Glue
  • Paint
  • Scrapbook Paper
  • Mod Podge
  • Paint Brush

I came across a nine square set of nesting cubes and decided to make them into a fun shelving unit for my rainbow lover’s room.

Each cube had a bracket to hang each individually. I thought it’d be easier to have them connected to each other. This would mean I’d have fewer nail holes in the wall. I used tiny wood screws to secure the cubes to each other in the fashioning of our design. Something to keep in mind when screwing into any wood is the likelihood of splintering or cracking when drilling the screw without predrilled holes. If there’s a chance it’ll crack or you’re unsure, it’s best to drill a hole prior to screwing in the screw. Be sure to use a drill bit no bigger than the width of the screw core to prevent the hole from being bigger than the screw.

After the cubes were secured to each other, my middle child and I started with the painting. Her motto is ‘you can never have too much rainbow in your life’. I love when I can infuse mommy-daughter time with crafting (so long as it’s more fun than frustrating). Generally, it’s a double bonus for me to have girls who enjoy doing some of the same things as me. As an adult, I have come to realize as a child I learned so much by simply watching and helping. I hope my girls learn as much from me on how to be handy and self-sufficient as I learned from my parents.

A fun Rainbow Pop with Patterns

We could have kept it simple by painting all the surfaces, but I thought it’d be fun to give it a pop of pattern to the cubes, in addition to the pops of color. It was more likely to see the ceiling of each cube when hung on the wall. This pushed my decision to use scrapbook paper to spruce up the ceiling of each cube. (Scrapbook paper really has so many uses.)

I cut colored and patterned paper to the size of the corresponding cube. Using my favorite Mod Podge, I glued them to the wood surface. I’m sure you can read the Mod podge instructions for yourself, but I’ll explain it here for you as well. Use a paintbrush to paint it onto the surface first. Then paint the back of the paper and smooth the paper onto the surface to remove any bubbles. This isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds. Those pesky bubbles and wrinkles can be a pain to get smoothed out. Finish it up by painting the final top coating to protect the surface.

I have had the same bottle of mod podge for years. It’s lasted me through many projects. Check out some other projects you can use with mod podge.

Once the paint and glue were dry, hanging and filling the shelves were the only tasks left. My little Lily was excited to get her things in there.

Rainbow Shelf #2

We already had a shelf on hand for the next rainbow incorporation. I decided to do a fun bottom since that would be the only part to really show. I used scrapbook paper and Mod Podge again to adhere the paper to the surface. While cutting the paper to size to fill the length, the chevron pattern matched perfectly. In looking at the photo below, I obviously failed to put the two pieces in the right spots. It’s very likely I was slightly distracted by my chattering girls. It doesn’t take long for Mod Podge to work, so I was stuck (literally) with my mess up. My OCD self still gets annoyed with this mistake, but luckily my middle child was okay with it.

Rainbow scrapbook paper
Rainbow scrapbook paper shelf

Simple and easy is the best way to be when the task list is long. One project down in a night’s time and a daughter over the moon with her finished rainbow project.

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.
― Maya Angelou

Pirate’s Treasure Hunt Party for Your Little Swashbuckler

When birthdays start closing in, I try to ask my girls what theme they want for their parties. Sometimes, I infuse a slight suggestion on what I think would be fun. I can’t remember if this was a fully-fledged idea from my oldest or if I had some influence. Based on these photos, I’d say it was likely her idea. Either way, I had fun planning this Pirate’s Treasure Hunt party!

Treasure Hunt Invitation

I created my invitation in Microsoft Word, as I generally do, and printed two invitations per page on computer paper by using horizontal orientation. Then, I took a wet tea bag and blotted the paper with the tea bag to stain it for an antique look. They dried out on baking sheets. When the paper was completely dried out, I used a long stick lighter over the sink to burn some of the perimeters for an extra warn look. I finished it up by rolling it into a scroll and tying it off with a bit of string.

Treasure Hunt Invitation

Activity: Treasure Hunt

You’re not a true pirate unless you are hunting for some treasure!

Every pirate needs a treasure map to go on a treasure hunt. X marks the spot! I didn’t want all the kids to be standing around waiting for each to move through the activities, so I created three treasure maps in total with variations of each route. This ensured the groups wouldn’t go to an activity at the same time.

The list of ship stops included:

  • Pirate’s Port
  • Pirates Pick
  • Wandering Eye
  • Shark Bay
  • Cannon Cabin
  • Parrots Cove
  • Ye Pirate Flag
  • Davey Jones’ Locker
  • Sunken Ship Yard
  • Bone Yard
Treasure Hunt Map

Pirate’s Port

There’s not much I love more than cardboard. It’s a running joke with my coworkers because they are fully aware of my adoration from the many times I have asked for big boxes. I was inspired by this pirate ship. My goal for this party was to have a ship for each pirate grouping to take along the map route for a true sailing pirate experience, but this was most certainly the time-intensive part of this party prep. I spent hours in the garage cutting and hot gluing the cardboard together into pirate ship shapes. By the third ship, I had perfected the curve at the front of the boat. I put portholes reinforced with borders on the sides to make it easier for the little pirates to carry their ships.

If you’re planning to make your own, I’d try to get 5 or 6 LARGE cardboard boxes. The back section on each boat is one box with the front panel cut out. Then the sides of the ship are one long box side each with the folding flaps. Use the extra pieces of the cardboard to glue as the top of the cabin, the trim around the windows and portholes and as supports for the front curve.

Cardboard Pirate Ships for the treasure hunt

I also made these super cute and easy Pirate’s Cardboard Spyglasses for each Pirate Ship.

Pirage Spyglass

Pirates Pick

The next stop for all the pirates was to pick up their pirate hats and choose their pirate names. I bought inexpensive paper hats from somewhere off the internet and had a list of pirate names for them to review.

Pirate's Pick on the Treasure Hunt
Pirates picking their Pirate names

From here, their paths diverged.

Wandering Eyes

Plastic eyeballs from the dollar store and one of my Halloween cauldrons were all that were necessary for this eyeball toss. The eyeballs were kind of bouncy, so I cushioned it to prevent them from bouncing out. I also put the eye patches in the cauldron for them to pull out for themselves after the activity.

Wandering Eyes on the treasure hunt

Shark Bay

I used some extra cardboard to create this shark cut out. It’s painted with acrylic paint and a black felt board was used to try to make the mouth background dark. After the pirates took their picture, they got a piece of treasure from the little treasure box to the side there in the picture.

Spy a Pirate Flag

I used the big field in the back of our property to hide three colored pirate flags for the pirates to find. I made the flags out of felt and glued paper skull and crossbones to it with a thin dowel for the post. When they found the flag, they could place it on their ship.

Ye Spy a Pirate Flag on Treasure Hunt

Davey Jones’ Locker

My mom let me borrow the toddler ball pit she had made for her grandkids, so I could fashion it for Davey Jones’ Locker. I hid four different items in the balls for each group to be able to find. They were only allowed to take one of each item.

Davey Jones on Treasure Hunt

Cannon Cabin

My kids love having balls in our netted trampoline, so it was easy to make that into a cannonball activity for the party. They didn’t get anything out of completing this activity except for getting some energy out.

Cannon Cabin on treasure hunt

Parrot Cove

Parrot Cove on treasure hunt

Up next was Parrots Cove to add to their Pirate cliches. I provided paper with parrot outlines, scissors, feathers, markers, and glue for them to create their feathered friends. This activity took them the longest, as any craft is want to do.

Sunken Ship Yard

The Sunken Shipyard came next with an inflatable ship. The object of the activity was to throw hoops to hook the masts. After they were able to get all three, they were allowed to take their sword.

Sunken Ship Yard Treasure Hunt

Bone Yard

I don’t honestly know how an eyeball would free your ship, but I was running out of ideas.

Bone Yard on Treasure Hunt
Bone Yard in Treasure Hunt
They had to pick up the skeleton hands from the pile of bones, severed fingers, rats and spiders.

Walk the Plank

Then I forced them all to walk the plank into the ocean!

Pool time at the Treasure Hunt Party

Pirate’s Grub

Easy snacks are my go-to at parties, especially when so much is involved with the other aspects. I made some super simple labels in Word and called it a day.

Pirate’s Cake!

Pirate Party Treasure Hunt Cake

Hope you enjoyed the run down and are able to use some of these ideas for your own party planning! If pirates aren’t your thing, how about Detectives?

Family Command Center to take that Mess to Mastered Organization

Family Organization Command Center
Before and Afters

After we moved into our new house, we had space galore compared to our previous three-bedroom house. The extra space didn’t end up preventing the eventual clutter that was school papers, bills, receipts, carryout menus, etc. It eventually hit a point where I had to do something to get the stuff off our island and into an organized fashion. Family organization was a must. The small wall space by our back door was the only spot that seemed to work for it, so it became the focal point for this endeavor to organize a family command center.

The majority of this project involved finding the items I wanted. I found the hanging metal paper sorter at Ikea and cut pieces of paper to fit the space on the outside. Each section was labeled with a piece of scrapbook paper cut to size to ensure it would remain routinely organized. The weekday chalkboard shelf came from a random find at the store Tuesday Morning. Check out whether you’ve got one near you. It’s a good spot to find unique items at good prices, so I was bummed when the store nearest to me closed. This shelf wouldn’t be too hard to make if you can’t find anything to fit your fancy. Actually, writing that makes me want to make one myself! The whiteboard was from Target, but you can find them anywhere. I liked this one for the pen holders and the cork strips.

Finished Family Organization Command Center
The girls had a place to hang their backpacks, see the dinner menu and store their papers.

A Mom Must Have

With the numerous activities on our schedule between the five of us and the dog’s training and vet appointments, I have found this calendar serves us the best. Family schedule organization at its finest. It’s got a row for each of us to distinguish between activities. I also keep a color-coded Google calendar to alert me, which has saved me a few times. We’ve used like versions of this paper calendar for the last couple of years. It was actually very difficult to find this year. Last year, I got one at Books a Million. They didn’t have them this year. After searching many places, I finally found one at Big Lots. So if you’re looking for one for yourself, I’d recommend checking there first.

Phase 2 of Family Organization


We got a Greater Swiss Mountain puppy this past year, which ended up meaning our shoes were no longer safe. I decided to use some extra wood sitting in the garage to create a shoebox to keep them safe by the back door.

Our puppy Skye, particularly enjoyed our flip flops.

My Materials

  • 3/4″ plywood
  • 1/4″ plywood
  • 2 hinges
  • Spray paint
  • Stain
  • Drawer knob
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Screws

Tools

  • Painter’s Tape
  • Nail gun and nails
  • Kreg jigs
  • Circular saw
  • Drill
  • Saw horses
I decided to use this Rustoleum spray paint I had from an ombre project I completed for my niece. The pop of color was a nice surprise on the inside.
I used some inch long wood screws to attach the bottom to the sides. Since it was just a simple project to keep our shoes safe, I didn’t worry too much about having 1/4″ board on the bottom being attached with glue and screws.

I put on two hinges I had handy. It seemed better that we’d have to pull up on the door to open it and make it puppy proof. I drilled an easy hole in the middle of the front panel and screwed in a knob to finish it off.

Safe and sound

The finished product for family shoe organization and safe keeping!

A Full Day of Valentine’s Love

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to only be about a special dinner and cards for classmates. Carry the heart shaped fun throughout the day with simple activities your kids will enjoy. 

I love you coffee

valentine's coffee

Nails!

My 9-year old’s goal this year is to have fresh nail designs each week. We went with a simple achievable design this week.

Valentine's nails

Hair!

I’ve had a life-long love of braiding hair, so I feel blessed to have girls with gloriously long thick hair. Below are three ways to incorporate Valentine’s hearts into their daily do’s.

Breakfast!

Heart-shaped Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Valentine's chocolate chip pancakes
Chocolate chip pancakes using a heart-shaped pancake mold

Lunch

Valentine’s Heart Pepperoni Pizza

Heart-Shaped Sandwich

Valentine's Heart Sandwich

It doesn’t get much easier than cutting a sandwich with a big heart cookie cutter.

Valentine's fruit kabob

Fruit Kabobs with Heart sticks from the Dollar Tree

Dinner

Valentine's pasta
Valentine’s pasta Aldi find that seems to come back each year. Paired with shrimp, asparagus and parmesan cheese.

Dessert

Sugar cookies

Sugar cookies are a go to recipe for our family to use the holiday specific cookie cutters we have stored away with the holiday decorations. A few years ago, I was excited to find a heart cookie cutter kit with 5 different sizes of hearts. I keep them available in the kitchen all year long for whenever I want to see some extra food love.

Valentine's Sugar Cookies

Strawberry Truffle Kiss Cookies

Valentine's Strawberry Truffle Kiss Cookies

Check out this delicious cookies recipe from Inside Bru Crew Life. It was a hit for my family

Crafts

Valentine’s Cardboard Candy Box

To say it simply, I’m a huge lover of cardboard. I try to find any way to use it. Way back when I used to work direct care with teenage boys, I showed them how to make a candy heart box with cardboard, hot glue, and scrapbook paper. We additionally made homemade candies to put into wrappers, just like you’d get in the store. Some of them gave their homemade creations to girlfriends. It was a great bonding experience to craft together and expand their thoughts on how they can be creative.

To make your own, cut two hearts in the same size small enough that one 12×12 piece of scrapbook paper can be used to cover the cardboard. Then cut two 1.5 inch wide strips of the same length for the top that will go along flush with the outside edge. Hot glue them on. Finally, cut two more 1.5 inch wide strips of the same length and glue them just inside of the bottom heart to allow for the top to fit on the outside. Finish it off by gluing the scrapbook paper to the outside.

Valentine’s Love Fortunes

If you’re looking for a super simple yet super sweet way to communicate your love, give these felt fortune cookies a try. Anyone could put them together for their loved ones. Materials:

  • Chinese food container
  • Felt in your desired colors
  • Foliage wire
  • Paper
Valentine's Love Fortunes

Cut as many circles as you see fit in the same size and then cut the thin foliage wire to the width of the circles. Glue the wire onto the middle of the felt circle and you’re just about finished.

Write your message on a thin strip of paper. Then hold the paper in the middle of the circle while you fold the felt in half and pull the ends downward. This year I also tossed them into the girls’ lunches for surprise messages. Other years, I have had the girls write messages to their dad or wrote them myself. Spending 30 minutes this year, can have a lasting effect for years.

Here’s to love being in the air for you this Valentine’s Day! If you’re looking for more crafting ideas checking out my other Craft posts.

Crafting my Mental Health Regimen

“How much longer are you going to be?”, “Why are you starting another project when you haven’t finished the other one?”, “When do you think you will be able to clean up your tools?”, and the list goes on of the questions I’m asked when I’m doing my crafting thing. Up until more recently, I found it very difficult to just sit without purpose. While watching tv with the hubby after a long day, I wanted to multitask that time by planning a birthday party, making a cardboard mailbox, pinning a sewing project, drawing up a woodworking plan or scrapbooking. Anything to keep my mind engaged in that way. On occasion, I also acknowledge I might switch from one project to another midstream because another idea inserted itself into my mental focus. I didn’t realize this could be related to my mental health maintenance.

Baking for my mental health

The Creative Mind

When an idea enters my mind, it lingers there and nags at me. Some of those eventually dissipate into memory and some hang on for dear life until I make them a reality. Those are the ones that plague and prod me to action even when I don’t have the time. I admittedly considered myself to be pretty poor at practicing self-care. I’m not one of those moms or women who do much shopping for myself and very rarely get my hair done or get a massage. I don’t frequent the nail salon and actually went a solid 2 or 3 years without going into one. For a time, I hadn’t read a book for years, because I didn’t think I had the time for it. I tried to purposefully take care of my physical and mental health, but often focused more on my family’s needs.

The Overactive Mind

When we moved into our new house 5 years ago, my mission to produce went into hyperdrive. A newly built blank slate. A DIYers dream. We didn’t paint for the first year to allow for the builders to fix all the nail pops and such. It was downright painful for me to abide. By the third year, almost everything was as we wanted. Our kids’ schedules were then taking over the calendar between travel soccer, travel softball, dance, play rehearsal, basketball, lacrosse, band, gymnastics, etc, etc. This ended up meaning there were periods where I wasn’t able to create anything. During those times, you would have instead heard me telling my husband, “I just don’t feel like myself”. My mental health was suffering.

Tools for my mental health

I was drawn to work on projects when I had a few seconds between making lunch and doing dishes. I would find myself sneaking away to get another coat of polyurethane on the antique hutch while the kids were playing. It wasn’t just for the purpose of getting it to the finish line but also to focus my mind; to sort through my mental mess. It was my catharsis.

Woodworking for my mental health

One day, I decided to do a quick Google search. I came across this article which ended up being my lightbulb moment. Having been in the mental and behavioral field for over a decade, I was surprised at how late the realization hit me as to why I was drawn to it. I knew of the many benefits of art therapy but had never applied it to my own mental health.

The Benefits of Sewing and Crafting for Mental Health

“Crafting, sewing or woodworking help you reduce negative emotions and stress by allowing you to create unique pieces of art. For example, woodworking is one of the most effective form of art therapy in the world, because it combines strategies for planning, , getting the supplies, planning your cut list, measuring, cutting, painting.”….and that explains my addiction


Self Care

So whereas I believed myself to be inadequate at self-care, it seemed I was doing it in the best way I knew how. I realized my me-time was hiding away with my thoughts and a paintbrush in my hand. There’s a sort of peace in concentrating on something you enjoy. There’s also fulfillment in seeing your own ability to create something that maybe only you will love. (Although, I always shoot for others liking it too.)

I also like to share the end products of my me time to inspire. I want to show others really anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I’m frequently asked if I sleep, to which I answer, “Definitely. I can’t go without it.” Now that doesn’t mean I don’t have episodes of insomnia that provide me with a bit of extra time to squeeze in some tasks, but generally, I just make time for the things that matter to me.

How Do You Spend Your Free Time?

We all have choices to make on how we use our time and energy. Some have more abundant energy than others or are selective in what they put the energy towards. Maybe I innately have more energy than some others. Or maybe I choose to put it first towards my family, towards my full-time job and then to the things I see as valuable. I see value in activating my mind in creating.

I had been considering starting a blog for some time and got a bit stuck on the name. After this little revelation, I settled on a name that fits the way creating helps me de-stress and stay sane and reinforces the importance of keeping tabs on the status of your mental health. So go forth and craft to benefit your mental health! Try something simple like refinishing frames.

Dresser Makeover into a Surprising Shutter Buffet

So one day I was surfing the Facebook marketplace as I often do and saw a free dresser posted nearby. I already had an antique kitchen hutch, old windows, a bunch of shutters from my mother in law, a tall dresser and a huge log taking up property in my garage. The picture wasn’t great but it looked worth a dresser refinish project since it was free. My husband agreed to pick it up for me while I was at work. The next text I got was that he had indeed gotten it, but the dresser was in terrible shape.

free dresser ready for dresser refinish

I figured he was being a bit overdramatic, but when I got home to look, saw he wasn’t kidding. The previous owner’s cats had taken up residence inside the drawer, shredding many of them and leaving behind a lovely aroma. It was gross and I didn’t feel like having to get the scent out and replace the drawer bottoms. He asked if I was going to toss it, but I decided to gut it instead.

Start of this Dresser Refinish

Time to Gut It

dresser refinish after gutting

I pulled out the drawers and tossed all but one, which now holds roller skates in my garage. I pulled off the disgusting back panel, the drawer bars and was left with a fresh canvas. The stack of small shutters inspired me and lead the whole dresser refinish after I decided to nix the drawers.

Dresser refinish gutted
Dresser refinish in progress
My messy garage that only seems to stay clean for short periods of time.

After gutting it, it was time to cover the inside and add the shelves. I used 1/4″ plywood for the sides. (As seen below) I used a circular saw and a jigsaw to cut it to size and make the notches for the front crossbars.

Next up: Shelves

Dresser refinish with shelves

For the shelves, I used some 3/4″ plywood that I already had leftover from another project. After measuring it to size, I used a circular saw with a guide to cut more easily. As I said it in another post, I lack a lot of the tools to make tasks easier. I would love to get a new table saw at some point, because I find cutting a completely straight line with a circular saw quite difficult.

I used a Kreg jig I ‘borrowed’ from my parents years ago to create the screw holes to be able to attach the shelf to the supports.
This is what a kreg jig looks like for those who don’t know. Thought I’d save you a google search. 😉
Dresser refinished with all shelves
Yep, in the background are the shutters and log I referenced. I had been desperately trying to find someone who would be able to cut it into two pieces and coming up empty.
After getting all three shelves screwed into place, it was time to paint the shelves and outside. I used a light gray chalk paint I had leftover from a dresser refinish for the inside. I liked the slight variation in the gray and white. (Anyone recognize that carpenter benchtop?! Referenced here in my platter post . I get tons of use out of it.)
To begin with, the shutters were too long. I used an arm saw to cut off length on the end. I ended up having to wood glue and nail the middle bottom wood pieces back into place. Time to use some white Rustoleum to spray paint those bright red shutters. It took 3ish coats of spray paint to get an even finish.

Time to Include Pallet Wood

For the Shutter anchors/separators, I used pallet wood cut to size. I had four cut and ready to attach another day. When I came back out the next day to complete it, I’d found that the fourth board on the right end had been taken. None of my girls confessed to it, so I had to assume it was a neighbor boy who tended to find his way into my garage…or backyard. I was pretty annoyed because of the extra work to rip a new board.


What I don’t seem to have taken a picture of was the routering I had to do on the top edge of that bottom front panel. The dresser had a rounded edge that needed to be flat for the shutters to rest on for a finished look. If I hadn’t cut it off, it would have looked quite odd. One of my first routering projects was an Oar Server. I’ve come a long ways since then.


After I attached the pallet wood strips with wood glue and a nail gun, I was ready to paint.

Bring on the Paint

Typically, I use Fusion Paint, but decided to give this milk paint a try. I used my Michael’s coupons to get a good deal (I can’t not) on a surface primer and a white milk paint for the outside. I wasn’t impressed with the way it coated, so I haven’t used it again.

Hinges from good ole Lowes came only in gold and silver. I decided to use some spray paint I had on hand for a more bronzey brown color.

Not pictured was the drilling of holes in the shutters to place the spray-painted dresser knobs. I had old knobs from a previous dresser refinish that were perfect for this look. You can see them in the photos below.

After hours and hours of work, there came a day that I was ready FINALLY ready to finish by screwing the hinges into the last two shutters.
All there was left to do was bring it in and set it up! I was really surprised by how much my girls liked it and pleased with how impressed my husband was with the end result.
Dresser refinished into shutter buffet with doors open
Refinished Dresser
I made a shutter shelf to match but we kept the map up there for a more polished look.

Dresser Refinish Before and After

Isn’t it crazy how much you can transform an object just by generating an idea in your mind and putting your body into action?! The added bonus of woodworking and crafting is that it’s helping your mind escape and practice focus. It’s flexing those mental muscles you may not get to use at work or when you’re running around with your kids. If you are anything like me, you also feel more at peace when you are able to check out in this way. Here’s to finding inspiration and time to ‘check out’ for some you time. You’ll be happier when you do.

Antique Trunk Refinished into Side Table


I referenced my grandparents in my paddle platter post and plan to include them a bit here as well. Within their property, are several treasure trove sheds I thoroughly enjoy rooting through when I visit. During this particular visit, I found an antique trunk my grandmother said was hers from her younger years. I was ecstatic when she granted me the honor of giving it new life. I had actually been on the lookout for a trunk to use as the coffee table in our living room, so it felt quite serendipitous to come across it.

This old barn holds many memories and treasures. If you find there are barn sales near you, I bet it’s worth a look!
There it was, just sitting there amongst some other trunks.

The Before of the Antique Trunk

My grandmother had painted the trunk at some point, but much of the had worn away over the many years. It was in fair enough shape apart from the broken leather straps and some peeling of the metal.

The inside was covered in the old paper and desperately needing to be removed.

Tools to Refinish the Antique Trunk

I went at the project with just a few tools to start cutting away the jagged metal coating on the top and scraping the paint away. These included:

  • Needle nose pliers
  • Metal cutters
  • Razor
  • Scraping tools
  • Paint Thinner to clean it up
Simple tools for the antique trunk refinish

The Outside

With tools in hand, it was then time for an intense arm workout.

Scraping the antique trunk

With every flip of the trunk, there was more and more scraping to do. It felt like it would never end. If I were to do this again, I would choose to go at it with a wire wheel rotating brush to save the soreness in my arms.  

Antique trunk scraped clean
Having scraped off all the chippy paint, I was ready to start painting.

Additional materials

I used two shades of Valspar paint from Lowes to paint the trunk. The lighter brown went on the majority of the metal covering.
Antique trunk painting
I used blue painters tape to cover the freshly painted light brown to be able to paint the wood strips and corners with the dark brown. This color pallet matched with the leather couches in our living room.

Inside the Antique Trunk

The next step was to clean out the inside paper. I used the technique described by Antique Chests and Trunks instructing to spray the insides with 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water solution and soaking for 15 minutes. I ended up spraying and soaking it twice with the vinegar/water solution to get the majority of the paper and glue off. It definitely helped with the musty odor. Then I had to start with the scraping again. “When is this going to end?!” was what kept running through my head. Being sick of it doesn’t begin to describe how I felt by the end. I dreaded the continuation of the project.

Antique trunk with cleaned out insides
Antique trunk storage and inside material

Joann Fabrics happened have the perfect material on clearance, which always feels like a huge win. I love finding a deal when I need something (another generational aspect). After I cut the material to size, I used a wide paintbrush to brush Mod podge on the inside of the trunk to get the material to adhere to the wood. 

Another Completed Refinished

Antique trunk finished product

I finished the outside by painting all the gold ascents to include all the many grommets. Tedious doesn’t begin to describe doing that, but I felt it needed the distinction. You can determine what you prefer if doing your own.

With all the scraping, painting and gluing complete, the antique trunk refinish was finished. It now stores a ton of family games that used to be in the unfinished side of our basement.

Antique trunk as coffee table
I took the photos on the wall after we moved into our new house. They were the only things in the room for more than a year as we tried to decide what direction to take the room.
Antique trunk used as side table
I had initially decided it would be a coffee table but ended up preferring it as the side table. If I were to go the extra mile with it, I would buy new leather to replace the missing straps. I didn’t (and still don’t) feel pressed to do that. As you see it here is as it remains.

Antique Trunk Before and After

My husband liked the final look, which is always the true test. I hoped you enjoyed the tutorial! If you’re looking for other refinishing ideas, check out my refinishing page.

Wood Paddle Platter for your Next Gathering

If you’re anything like me, you likely see creative possibilities all around you. Sometimes in comes in the form of more random options. For this easy woodworking project, I was inspired by an oar shape. After some brainstorming, I came up with this oar server idea. 


“She believed she could so she did”

My parents both grew up in the great state of Kansas before moving to Maryland, where I was raised. During my younger years, we would make the long drive once or twice a year to visit our many relatives. I now try to get out there every few years to spend a week visiting with as many in the area as we can. We made the trek to join in the family reunion with the family from these two fabulous people below, my paternal grandparents. They are a crafter and carpenter extraordinaire among a great many other things. The line of DIYers is obviously pretty long. In 2017 when this photo was taken, they were 91 and 94 years old. I can only hope to live as long and fruitful a life as these two.

Grandparents

During this particular reunion, the family was making carpenter stools to match my grandfather’s well-used one. My grandmother was also providing instruction on how to cut a chicken down to make her fried chicken. It was quite a unique and memorable affair. My family knows how to do it right.

grandfathers carpenter stool
Family woodworking at it’s finest. Look at the line of constructed stools. I certainly use mine plenty now.

It wouldn’t be a trip to my aunt and uncle’s house in Missouri without an exotic animal sighting. Missouri seems to have laxer animal rules, so there’s quite a bit of animal variety in the area.

Now on to the Project

Part of this particular Kansas trip included cleaning out my parents’ old shed, which happened to have a couple of boxes of ready-made wood forms. That wood was calling my name, so I had my pick of the stock along with my younger sister. I dragged my selection back to Maryland with me and piled them up to wait for creativity to strike. Some ideas came more easily but those oar shapes nagged at me to figure out what to do. Then it hit me all of a sudden; I’d practice my raw routering skills by making a food platter. I took a trip to Goodwill, found three perfect glass cups and to my garage I went.

Pile of projects
Pay no attention to the foot by the stack of raw wood forms.

I traced the bottom of the glass cups on the long portion of the oar and measured around the base to ensure I had an even border there. Then I used an older router to start cutting out the inside of my markings. It’s important to lock it tight when using a router. If you don’t, the blade will move deeper than you plan on it going. Unfortunately, the router I was using did not stay put and started digging in a little deeper than I’d planned. I can’t begin to describe the disgust I felt with this, so I ended up quitting it for quite a while and picking it back up when I got a handle on my frustration.

Routered oar server

Quick Fixes

Wood filler and a scraper solved the problem to even out the spots that happened by accident. After the wood filler was dry, I sanded it down as best I could using a medium grit (80 grit) sandpaper. Medium grit (60-100) helps with smoothing the rougher areas. For more significant marks, you’d go for coarse grit (40-50). It’s typically best to sand with a fine grit paper (120-220) to create a really smooth even surface before staining.

I’ve since starting using a much better router thanks to my parents, which makes completing projects soooo much easier. This Ryobi router serves me well now. I can’t say enough about having the right tools. Many of the ones I have are hand me downs or are older because I can’t spend the money on better versions of everything. If I had my druthers, I’d get a bunch of new tools to speed up my projects and save my sanity. You get the benefit of seeing you can still accomplish things without all the best tools.

Oar Server with router errors fixed
The bane of this project.

Staining

After the routering was complete, I did two layers of stain with a dark stain I had on hand. I keep old cotton white shirt strips handy for staining just like my mom used to do. My parents were avid woodworkers and often building cabinets, tables or trailers, among the list. My siblings and I helped complete many of the projects when extra hands were necessary. I’ve said it many times as an adult now that although I wasn’t so keen on it as a kid, I’m thankful for the skills gained by having had to help.

Oar server with final stain
There’s a light spot on the end here where I failed to get the stickiness off from some masking tape. Before staining, it’s always important to ensure the wood is completely clean of residue or glue. Sanding is important.
Oar server before polyurethane

The stain ended up being inconsistent in the wood filler spots. I decided the oar server would look better to do chalkboard paint on the inside. If you are looking for other simple projects with chalk paint, check out this easy frame project. Then I painted “Bon Appetit” with white acrylic paint and finished it off with two coats of polyurethane to seal it for food and washing. The clear coating really gives it the finished look as well.

Oar server ready to use

I put a twine hoop on the oar server for hanging to make it a multipurpose server and decor item.

Oar Server hanging as decor

Oar Server: Putting it to Use

Around the time I was working on this, I was attending monthly moms’ dinner nights. If you haven’t participated in these, it’s best described as one mom hosting and choosing a theme to create the main dish around. The rest of the attending moms/friends bring a dish to match the theme. This particular night was Mexican themed, so I went with homemade churros and three different dipping sauces. It all worked perfectly together as you can see below! It just goes to show that random finds can be made into something completely fun and useful. Here’s to inspiration finding you soon!

Oar server put to use at party
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