Tag: Woodworking

Faux Wood Plank Shoe Enclosure to Keep Shoes Out of the Way

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 shoe box to keep them safe by the back door. It’s also served to keep the area cleaner and trip free. Rather than keeping the plywood as is, I opted to do a faux wood plank technique to the top.

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

Using the circular saw, I cut the plywood to the width of the wall space and the depth of my husband’s shoe. If I had had enough 3/4″ plywood in my scrap pile, I would have done the bottom with it as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t, so I used 1/4″ plywood instead.

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. Rustoleum has good coverage.

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.

Faux Wood Plank Time

I thought it’d be fun to give the top the look of panels. To achieve this, I taped it to allow for the stain to create lines. The darker stain was first with two coats to make sure it would be dark. I switched the painter’s tape to cover the dark stain and then did the lighter stain. After that, I did a second coat on a few of the spots to have a third variation.

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, so that is what I went with doing. 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! If your looking for more organization ideas, check out the Family Command Center above the shoe box here.

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Super Simple Succulent Decor Ideas for a Struggling Plant Mom

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy succulents! And that is pretty much the same thing.

-Unknown

This quote pretty accurately describes my feelings about succulents and other plants. In doing some research, I found this article on the 11 Ways Plants Enhance Your Mental and Emotional Health from Psychology Today. Take a look at #7; Higher levels of creativity! Who doesn’t love succulents and cacti? This article on the Top 8 House Plants to Help with Mental Health explains why those plants in particular help with your mental health. During these uncertain times, it’s definitely necessary to do what you can to keep stress and anxiety at bay. With that being said, who’s ready to put together some succulent decor?!

Time to Run through Three Ideas

Simplicity at it’s Best

Cacti Succulent Decor

This simple set up comes by the way of Lowe’s gardening center, Michaels’ rocks, pots from a failed potting present and Target. The rocks were my attempt at creating a more prosperous environment for hen and chicks after many deaths. It sadly failed just like those before it. At some point, I will figure out how to keep them alive, but for now, I decided I’d be best to stick with simpler cacti for a bit. This bluish-gray platter was on clearance at Target and a perfect fit for these pots. So far, I’ve been able to keep these cacti alive by spritzing them with water I spray these cacti with a spray bottle once a week. The flowers have stuck around for months, so I’m at last doing something right. 

Long Lasting Succulent Decor

When my daughter said she wanted to have succulent decor in her ‘new’ room, I pushed for the fake variety for her. I initially found some individual stems at Big Lots months before, but we needed more than what I’d gotten. We went on a little mother-daughter shopping trip to Michaels. My oldest is talented in a great many ways but doesn’t typically go the crafting route with me as my other two girls do. It was a nice time to get away and pick out some items for her to put together. She picked out the extra succulents, the glass container, and the sand color. 

All that was needed was to throw the sand into the glass and arrange the succulents as she liked. I enjoy the look of this angled bowl combined with the varying heights of the succulents. In order to achieve that, we had to cut the thick stems with wire cutters to make it all work together. You can see it in her renewed room here…

Easy Square Plant Hanger

A little woodworking never hurt anybody…. Just kidding, it definitely could if you’re not careful. This square hanger is super simple and involves a wee bit of woodworking.

Materials:

  • 1″ x 3″ x 6″ pine
  • Wood Glue
  • Paint or stain
  • Hook
  • Small planter hanger
  • A Plant
  • Nail Gun
  • Saw (I used this arm saw, but any variety of saws could cut the 4 pieces of wood.)

There are only a few steps for this project.

#1 Cut the wood to size. Two 10 inch long pieces and two 8 1/2 inch pieces.

#2 Put wood glue on the ends of the top and bottom pieces.

#3 Use a nail gun to nail the top and bottom in place.

#4 Stain/paint it

15 minutes and you could be finished with all four steps

I found this wood tint and plant holder (seen below) at an A.C. Moore going out of business sale. Those items inspired me to make this rustic wood holder. I hadn’t used ‘wood tint’ before this, so figured I’d give it a go. Even after using it, I’m wasn’t quite sure what the difference was between it and stain, because they seemed mostly the same to me. Given that, I did a quick internet search. I found a post from Repurpose and Upcycle that provides an awesome explanation of the two and when to use one over the other. The wood tint seemed to provide good initial coverage based on this first experience. It also dried quickly, which keeps for the quick and easy strategy here.

I found these river rocks at Lowe’s as well. Simple is the name of the game. Put the plant in and spoon the rocks in around it. Then, it’s ready to put the hook into the ceiling of the square. It’s best to pre-drill a hole for the hook but it can also just be screwed in without it. The rope that came with the glass globe was too long, so I used some twine I had on hand. I also preferred the look of the twine, so it was a win-win.

Final Succulent Decor

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed the simplicity of these ideas. Two of them can be found in my daughter’s newly made-over bedroom. To read more, click here…

Don’t forget that plants help with stress reduction, so go ahead and place them in areas where you tend to feel a little more stressed. I guess that’s why I love keeping them in my office.

Super Simple to make DIY Hexagon Shelf for Personalized Decor

Hexagons are in and squares are out! It’s time to jump on the new trend wave with this DIY Hexagon Shelf. After updating my oldest daughter’s room, I knew this shelf would be the perfect compliment to her freshly painted wall. Don’t you think?!  You could certainly buy one for $30 plus, but I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this easy $10 project is the way to go.

Super Simple Supplies

These pre-sanded boards were ready for cutting. Doesn’t get much better than not having to stand.

If you’ve read some of my other woodworking posts, you’ve likely seen that I tend to use some older tools or am making do with what is available. This project is no exception. I’d love to get a new miter saw with all the bells and whistles but just can’t bring myself to spend money on it yet. This used radial arm saw was cheap and available, so that is how I came to have it. Anyway, it does the job. If you are new to woodworking and/or the whole tool game, you can be reassured you don’t have to have all the newest fancy gadgets to make neat functional projects.

Time to cut some wood!

First up, was figuring out how to utilize the size of the board. In order to maximize the boards at their current length, I decided to make each side 12 inches long. That meant I was cutting 3 of the boards in half and the other two would be cut for the shelves. 

The sides need to be cut at a 30-degree angle on each end of the boards. I’ll be totally honest here when I admit I couldn’t bring forth enough of my geometry memory to figure out the angle. Google was my friend in this instance. It makes me feel like I need to brush up along with my children as they learn it! While making the angled cuts, just make sure you’re not cutting off any length by cutting only the squared edge off.

I made the shelves 17 1/2 inches long to give more space to the middle shelf. The shelf boards also need to be cut at a 30 degree angle on both ends. It’s an option to save the hassle of angled cuts and nailing at an angle by cutting the shelves at a straight edge to attach to have hexagon with straight sides.

Testing out my angles. Looks good!

Hexagon Shelf Trick

Here’s a fun little trick to keep it all together. It’s not as strong a method as using something like ratchet straps, but I think more people have painter’s tape at the ready. Stretch out the painter’s tape, then line up the boards in a row. Put some wood glue into the crack and pull up the end. It’ll pull together as you go.

For those with little experience with glue and staining, I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you plan on staining the wood, you’d better take a wet cloth to the wood to clean off any trace of wood glue. If you don’t, it won’t stain properly. So, after you wipe the glue off, you’re best to leave the octag to dry. I will tell you that I didn’t wait for it to dry, so it was a tad difficult to nail it firm because of the shifting angles.

Time to bring out the nail gun

After the limited sawing and gluing, it’s time to nail it all together. My nail gun was jammed, so I borrowed my neighbor’s. His was better than mine because it had an arrow pointing at where the nail would come out. Mine doesn’t have that lovely little feature…because…mine is cheap. I’m very near buying a better one. I seem to use a nail gun a lot more than I’d ever anticipated so seems like a worthwhile purchase to me.

The hardest part was nailing the shelves in the right spot. Honestly, I didn’t want to wait for the glue to dry at the time. It would have been easier to have waited to nail it after it was set with glue.

Final Stretch for the Hexagon Shelf

All that’s left to do is paint it. My daughter picked a pink out of my spray paints. It ended up not matching well with the pink on her wall, so we ended up spray painting it gray.

Shelf brackets nailed into the back were the finishing touch. I have found the easiest way to hold the tiny nails is with needle nose pliers. You just hold them there while you hammer.

Teen Bedroom Design with Simple Painted Focal Wall and Succulents

Right after my 12-year old’s birthday, she started on about re-doing her owl themed bedroom. It was painted light blue and had owl paintings and owl curtains. After 4 years, she had finally outgrown it. I still felt as though I’d only just finished decorating our ‘new’ house. Her room was one of the first I tackled after the builders fixed the nail pops a year after we moved into the brand new house. It was definitely time for an update for her. If you’re looking for some ideas for your own preteen or teen, you’d better follow along!

Before

For the previous owl theme, I had painted three pictures for her. She had porcelain dolls from my childhood collection on the wall shelves and a wire cage hanging in the corner with a stuffed owl. This child’s theme was no longer suitable for an almost teen.

Teen Bedroom Must Haves

So when my oldest said she wanted to update her room, I couldn’t blame her. It’d really been just about the same as the pictures above for the last 4 years. For her new room, she said she wanted it to be gray and white, to have succulents and LED lights. She wanted simplicity. It was right up my alley since gray was in other parts of the house and I’m definitely a succulent lover. It’s really too bad that I’m also a succulent killer. Anyway…

I saw photos of this main geometric wall feature and really liked it. My preteen was on board with it, so she chose her colors with some guidance. We went with three Sherwin Williams colors:

Feather bedspread from the previous theme.

We used flat paint because that’s all that was available in the quart sizes of super paint. I don’t tend to like doing flat paint because it’s harder to clean. I like eggshell or satin for bedrooms. That being said, I will definitely give it to this flat paint for how smooth and even it goes on the wall. That is the benefit of flat paint. For this wall feature, I used painters tape to create the sections. You can really put them wherever you want. I painted the pink section first. Then while it was drying, I started on the other walls. I moved the tape from the outside of the pink area to the inside of the pink area to start on the dark gray section. It took me about half a day to paint her entire room with two coats.

Teen’s Ultimate Must Have

Her ‘must-have’ was a string of LED lights. She couldn’t wait for me to put them up on the wall with her and ended up putting them up by herself. Unfortunately, it ended up being slightly crooked and wobbly because of it. She loves them regardless and tends to use those LED lights rather than her ceiling light. If you’re looking for a sure-fire win with your teen, I’d say this is it.

Curtains for the Teen Bedroom

I’m generally floored with how expensive curtains can be, so I tend to do quite a bit of looking before buying. We looked at Target, HomeGoods, Walmart, and Boscov’s (all local options) for something to match that wouldn’t break my wallet right after all the Christmas purchases. We came up empty. I ended up being at Big Lots on 20% off day and found thick white curtains that would match the room and weren’t so sheer people on the street below would be able to see through. It was a huge win in my book. I like the large grommet look as well.

Other Small Teen Additions

She moved her earrings from her Hello Kitty holder to my DIY framed earring holder. Be sure to check out my easy tutorial!

She hung her Fuji Instant photos on a string of clip lights. Then I re-positioned her previous wall decor around it. All hung courtesy of Command Hooks.

She emptied a large bookcase filled with books in order to free up this space. I questioned where she would put everything, but she made it happen. It was a blond composite bookcase as tall as the windows that we’d gotten from my sister. The shelves were sagging a bit from the weight of years of books. I ended up cutting in half to make a lemonade and bakery stand for my two other daughters. It was a win for them all.
All those books came to fill the shelves of this inset bookcase I did for her. I’d wanted to do this for 5 years and finally made it a priority. We were both over the moon with the result.

Desk Update

We used the leftover Rosy outlook and Dustblu to paint her purple desk. My preteen used the roller for the top of the desk because it was faster. This sadly ended up being a mistake because it now has a bumpy surface. You can see my gray and white striped hallway through the doorway, click the link for my run through on how to get the look.
“Yuck!” is how I feel about this finish. She says she doesn’t care, but she has to put a hard surface under her paper to be able to write neatly. I’m pretty sure I will sand it down at some point and fix the issue.
She (and I) would love to paint these dressers white or get a different set. They were mine as a kid and still have a pristine finish. I love a good refinish project as you can probably tell from this blog.
Every teen needs a mirror to check out their outfit. This is her Command hooks closet door. Truly, this post could be sponsored by Command hooks with how much I love them. The mirror is held up by them, the purses and hats are hanging on the command hooks, the light strings are hung with the special light ones. We painted the trim of this cheap mirror with acrylic paint.

Succulents

My daughter is a girl after my own heart. I love succulents and buying them. Most often, I seem to be throwing my money away because I couldn’t keep a hen and chick succulent alive to save my life. So for this pretty set up, we went fake. 

A another hint of succulents from Michaels when they were on sale. This octagon shelf was a mommy daughter project. I really liked how it all came together.

Completed Teen Bedroom Makeover

So that rounds out what we did to bring her kid’s room up to teen room standards. Even as I write that, I’m stunned that I’m old enough to be a mom to an almost teen. She’s still pestering for a full-size bed and new dressers and I’m still generating ideas on how to make the bed. My parents made several unique beds for us, so I know I could do it. I’ll have to make it an incentive to get her to control her teenage attitude. Ha. I don’t know that even that would work.

The new bed set that is big enough for a future full size bed.

And that’s all she wrote…literally….I’m done. I hope you got some ideas out of it for your own teen’s room! 

A Straightforward DIY Living Room Table Set just for You

While trying to decide on the direction for our new living room that wouldn’t break the bank, I was inspired by pins on Ikea furniture hacks. One, in particular, struck my fancy because of its simplicity and look. I ended up finding a discounted Hemnes white coffee table which was the start of this living room table set project. If you’re looking for a simple project that will impress your friends, then follow along with me.

Living room table set coffee table
Ikea Hemnes Coffee Table

Personalizing Ikea

Supplies for Ikea top: 

  • 3- 1x6x8
  • 1- 1x3x6
  • 1″ Wood Screws

Supplies for Side Table:

  • 1- 1x2x6
  • 1- 2x2x8
  • 3- 1x6x8
  • Stain
  • 1 1/2″ Wood Screws 
  • Kreg jig & screws
  • Wood Glue

I assume you know how wood measurements work, but just in case, here’s a nice breakdown at Arch Toolbox. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if the name matched the actual size?! I was given some poplar boards from our builder that were perfect for the coffee table and as the main part of a coordinating side table. I used pine for the store-bought wood for it’s affordability. In general, pine is a softer wood, so choosing this option could mean finding nicks and scraps in the wood at some point. Poplar is a harder wood that will take more of a beating.  

Getting started on this Living Room Table Set

This portion of the project involved ripping the boards into 6 equal pieces at 4 3/4″ x 41 1/4″. You have two options on how to connect them side by side; doweling and pocket holes. Pocket holes are easier to do but can be tricky to ensure the boards stay completely flush. Doweling needs to be pretty precise, so it can be tedious and slightly difficult to do by yourself. I chose to go with the pocket holes route for both tables here. I also decided to sand down the corners of each board to ensure there was a distinction between the boards after they were secured together.

living room table set: ikea update

After the long middle boards were screwed together, I cut the end boards to size at 2 3/8″ and 29 1/4″. I used the Kreg jig to create the pocket holes to attach the ends. With the top together, I stained it and the sides with a white stain followed by three coats of clear polyacrylic. I wanted to keep the top white to match the table and go with the white, gray, yellow, and teal color scheme of the room.

living room table set: new top

To finish this easy table upgrade, I just needed to screw the wood top to the coffee table. This was simply done by turning the coffee table over to expose the bottom. It was best to clamp the top to the table to avoid a gap between the boards. I chose not to use glue and stick with just the screws. To make sure the wood wouldn’t splinter with the wood screws, I pre-drilled the holes.

Side Table

Cuts

  • 8 – 1″ x 4″ x 19″
  • 4 – 1″ x 4 1/2″ x 24″
  • 6 – 1″ x 2″ x 13 1/4″
  • 2 – 1″ x 2″ x 19″
  • 4 – 2″ x 2″ x 24″

The width of the legs and shelves is 14 3/4″ and the height of the side table is 24 3/4″.

The side table consisted of cutting the wood to size and using the kreg jig. I didn’t care to have to do more cuts than necessary, so my schematic limited the need for notched cuts by utilizing the 1×2’s.

living room table set: boards for side table

The poplar boards I used also needed to be ripped to size for the two shelves. I used a circular saw with a guide to cut the four boards, which works well enough. I would actually much rather have a table saw to use that would ensure an absolutely straight cut. My woodworking projects would be so much easier with a few extra tools, that’s for sure, but it just goes to show you don’t need all the special tools to complete a project. After cutting all the boards, sanding them smooth and making the pocket holes with the kreg jig was up next. 

Almost finished

Pocket holes galore. I used pocket holes to connect all the pieces together as you can see below, making sure to screw the shelf into all four legs and the 1×2’s. With all the hard work done, it was finally time to stain it. Rust-o-leum Antique White stain applied with a white rag gave it the finish I was trying to achieve. It needed three coats of stain to give it a consistent white. You generally shouldn’t need to do that many coats, but I felt it was warranted with this one. The most important point when staining is to go with the grain and not to allow it to pool in any one spot. 

And that’s all that is involved with creating a simple side table and giving an Ikea table an upgrade. If you’re looking for another easy project, check out Revamp a Composite Bookcase. It uses 1×2 pine boards just like some of this one.

living room table set top
living room table set bottom shelf

Completed Living Room Table Set Project

living room table set finished side table
living room table set: finished idea table

Composite Bookcase Revamp into Unique Upscale Decor

Have you been hanging on to the affordable furniture you got when you were first married or moved into your first space? Is money still a bit to tight to buy nice stuff? The affordable option is to give that furniture an overhaul. In this post, I’ll show how to revamp a composite bookcase with just a few supplies. My bookcase was one of those items from good old Walmart. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have something like it. After use, these composite furniture items can even be hard to give away since many donation companies won’t take them. That leaves only a few options; the dump, a plea for someone to take it for free or to get into that happy mental space to give it a pleasing boost.

Getting to Work

First step is to give that shiny finish a really rough sanding with some low number grit sandpaper. I give a little more detail about the types of sandpaper in my wood paddle platter post as a reference. If you have an electric sander, you could use it for the outside and shelves. The inside corners will likely need hand sanding. I like the sanding blocks they sell now in stores, but in a pinch, you can use the method my dad always used. Fold the sandpaper sheet around a hand size scrap piece of wood. This makes it easier to hold and to sand. 

Supplies

  • 1/4″ plywood
  • 1×2 boards
  • Paint
  • Stencil
  • Paintbrushes
  • Wood filler
  • Wood glue

Tools

  • Nail gun and compressor (or nails and a hammer)
  • Kreg jig & screws
  • Wood glue
  • Dremel
  • Saw
  • Scraper

New Back Panel

Cardboard backs are pretty much a given with these composite bookcases, so it’s a given that it should be replaced. Cut the 1/4″ plywood to size before starting to paint. Then paint your base color. I wanted to give mine a fun feature, so I went with key stencils in the same color I chose for the outside. I was slightly disappointed about how hard it was to see. If I were to do it again, I would do the stenciling in a slightly darker shade.

Next up is to use the nail gun to attach the plywood to the back of the bookcase. To ensure it stays secure, put wood glue on before nailing the back.


Well on your way now

Composite bookcase painted interior

If you look below, you might be confused as to why it’s painted here and not painted later. That is simply because I didn’t start with the sanding part. I sadly admit to you that I take the lazy way out at times and it normally comes back to bite me in the end. You’d think I’d learn better than I do. This ended up meaning that the paint was scratching off when I started to work with it. I also needed to fill the peg holes with wood filler to create a flat surface. You should definitely do both of those things if you will be securing the shelves in place.

The Wood Frame for this Composite Bookcase

The measurements for the cuts of the 1×2’s really depends on the size of the bookcase. My cuts were:

  • 2   28″ pieces for the front horizontal bars
  • 4   31 3/4″ pieces for the vertical beams
  • 4   8 5/8″ pieces for the horizontal beams on the side

Cut them to size and drill holes with a Kreg jig. When connecting them together, you should start with creating the front square and the side rectangles. After those are together, it’s time to connect the sides with the front through the pocket holes. 

 

After the frame is completely built, it can be attached with glue and a nail gun. You should also attach the shelves with glue and a nail gun from the outside. There are a variety of nail guns out there. Mine is on the cheap side so doesn’t have any bells or whistles.

Even though I tried to keep the gun straight as can be, there were a few of the 1.5 inch nails that went askew. It meant they were sticking out of the shelves and needed to be cut. Talk about wanting to pull your hair out, I was completely annoyed. So be warned that it doesn’t always go smoothly. I chose to add vertical boards to support the sagging shelves, but you can leave without them if you like. Mine had experienced years of holding kids books. I used wood glue and nailed the boards from both the top and the bottom.

revamped composite bookcase with new frame
You can see here that the bottom board is not flush to the ground. That is with the intention of being flush with the bottom shelf and giving a bit of a gap with the floor. Be sure to measure where your bottom shelf falls before securing the horizontal beams to the vertical.
Composite bookcase with new frame

Time to Dremel for a Unique Touch

At the time, I hadn’t had a lot of experience with a dremel. I chose to add this touch to practice the skill. Obviously, you don’t have to go the same route, if you don’t have a dremel. If you are opting in, trace the stencil with pencil onto the wood before starting to cut it out. Take your time, go at it at a bit of an angle and you’ll be fine.

Paint

After all the cutting and drilling, it’s time to move into the home stretch with paint. I chose affordable paint from Michaels in Sea Glass. It went on easy and has held up perfectly well over the years.

For the top, cut a piece of wood or plywood that is an inch bigger on the sides and 1/4″ extra on the front than the bookcase measurements. The back of the top is flush (aka even) with the back. I used a white stain applied with a clean white rag on my piece to match more with my paint. If you don’t have much experience with stain, don’t worry. The important thing to remember is to go with the grain of the wood and not to allow large pools of stain to sit on the surface. Doing so will leave you with a spotty uneven look that can only be corrected with significant sanding. You can end it there with the stain or keep going as I did. 

DIY Rub-On Words

I came across this awesome tutorial on Pinterest on how to transfer images using wax paper and was pumped to try it with this project. If you are looking for a way to accomplish the task with materials you have at home, this is it. The hardest part is getting the printer to feed the wax paper without crumpling it. It was another one of those screaming in frustrating experiences. I found the best method was to tape the wax paper to a piece of computer paper to ensure 100% success every time.  I also had to learn how to get the words to be reversed for printing. This can be accomplished with 3-D Rotation of a text box in Microsoft Word. 

Reference below:


“Kind words are keys that fit in all locks.”

Revamped Composite Bookcase

The Final Look


 

It’s a bit hard to see here, but I added a white key and 2 lock stencils to the outside panels as well. 


Empty composite bookcase
I made the FAMILY hanger and placed the initials of my three girls to finish off the space.

Filled with Family:

Finished composite bookcase

That’s it! Not a terribly difficult project to take that humdrum composite bookcase to a new posh look. I hope you are happy with how yours turns out!

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!

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.

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