easy magnetic storage

We have a chalkboard wall in our kitchen. A little sliver of wall next to the fridge…IMG_1938

For the longest time I just kept the chalk on the nearest counter, but it was frustrating for Lucy to always have to ask me to get it down, so I decided to do something about it.  There’s a bit of the side of the fridge that protrudes next to the chalk wall and it dawned on me that it would be the perfect space for some magnetic storage tins. The pre-made ones (like these, or these) were a little too small to hold chalk markers, so I picked up a couple of inexpensive paint cans and some magnets (like these) at the hardware store. Simply glue the magnets on and voila! I was a bit sloppy with the glue as you can see.



They have lids, but I leave them off so Lucy can grab her chalk.

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IMG_4647I added two magnets each, but if you are storing something heavier I would recommend adding a few more. I also really like the way the stainless finish blends into the rest of the kitchen.



Happy Wednesday!

xo – H

easy splat mat.

Lately Lucinda has been super obsessed with markers after I finally broke down and let her open some we got as a party favor. I thought it would be fun to make a little play mat that we could pull out when she wants to let her creative spirit run messy wild.

IMG_3811I picked up a scrap of pretty oilcloth at my local fabric store – it was just about a yard -for $8. There are tons of Etsy shops devoted to oilcloth products, but this is a really easy project to make yourself.

IMG_3815My assistant helped me bind the edges with some brightly colored duct tape that coordinates with with the colors of the oil cloth. I didn’t even trim the edges. Seriously the easiest diy ever. Just lay half the tape over the edge and fold. I suppose if you wanted to get fancy you could trim it with fabric and sew it on, but that sounds like a lot of work. The purpose of this mat is to be wiped off so I thought the tape would work perfectly. The total cost of this project ( a yard of oilcloth and colored duct tape) was $12 bucks.


Now my wee artist has a devoted place to make messes that easily wipes clean. It folds up easily (I store it in her play kitchen) and could probably withstand being rinsed off in the sink if I needed to.  I may need to since I got her  a paint set for upcoming SECOND BIRTHDAY (oh my god how is that already happening?) This would be a great gift for a new mom since it could slide right under a highchair. You can find tons of different oilcloth fabrics here. I like the vintage appeal of the pattern – very sweet.

Have a fantastic weekend! We are celebrating Lucy’s birthday on Sunday so I’m going to furiously clean and maybe finish painting the porch today? (harrumph. I hate painting.)

xo- H

DIY gold and antique mirror side table

I’ve always liked the Jules small accent table from Crate&Barrel, but the price has always kept me from buying it (even when I had an employee discount!)



I stumbled across this little side table for $15 (it may have been $10) at the thrift store and thought I would try diy-ing a version for our house.


The glass on this piece was cracked so I tossed it before I even left the thrift store. I had a piece of mirror cut by a local glass shop for $25 dollars. I knew I would need to antique the mirror insert and found an excellent tutorial.  I was able to find my table at a thrift store, but you could try the same thing with an inexpensive metal and glass table like this one or this one, from Ikea.

The first step is to strip off the protective paint on the back of the mirror. I thought I could use some environmentally friendly paint stripper we already had on hand, so I slapped it on and left the mirror alone for a few hours to let it work.


It didn’t work. at all. I left it overnight thinking more time would help, and still no results. So much for my attempt to use more earth friendly methods! I went out and got some aerosol paint stripper (that was recommended in the tutorial) and tried again, but this time I did it outside on an unseasonably warm day. The aerosol stripper is really stinky and you should work outside if you can. Don’t forget gloves and safety glasses.


I also used a cardboard box to prevent any overspray from getting on the grass.


Once the paint is peeled off the mirror the silvering that creates the reflective surface is exposed. At this point you use muriatic acid to eat through the silvering and create an antique effect, like these images from the tutorial. You MUST wear protective gloves and safety glasses when working with muriatic acid (and paint stripper) Since I was by myself I couldn’t stop to take pictures at this point.

original_Layla-Palmer-Antique-Mirror-Step-8-spraying-mirror_s3x4_lg original_Layla-Palmer-Antique-Mirror-Step-9-upright-mirror_s3x4_lg

I glibly sprayed a little bit on and waited for it to work (the tutorial said it would only take a minute) It seemed to take a little longer because it was a bit cool outside, so I sprayed more on (BIG MISTAKE) I kid you not, at the very moment I sprayed more acid on, Lucy woke up from her nap. I swear to god that child has an internal alert for when I pick up a paintbrush or try to do something messy. I had no choice but to stop and walk way from the project to attend to her which meant that way more of the silvering finish got eaten off than I intended. Once I was able to safely clean up I was left with this.


Cue the sad trombone music. Not exactly the look I was going for. The darker parts are the clear glass left after the silvering is eaten off by the acid. Fearing that I had totally ruined a $25 piece of glass I ran to my local craft store and found some Krylon Looking Glass spray paint, hoping that it would fill in the areas where I had taken off too much of the reflective finish.I added a quick splatter of flat black spray enamel and a bit of gold, and then coated the back with the Looking Glass paint.


I gave the base a couple of quick coats of hammered gold spray paint, let everything cure for a few days and, voila!




It’s no Jules accent table, but it’s still pretty fun. It adds a little sparkle to our living room and beautifully reflects the light from the Christmas tree. It’s still a little bit more antiqued than I would have like; I was hoping for a more subtle affect, but I’m ok with how it turned out. I probably should have practiced on a few pieces before I committed to the tabletop, but I’m kind of impatient (and clearly over confident with chemicals!) Now that I know what mistakes to avoid I’d be willing to try antiquing a mirror again, especially since I now have all the supplies on hand.

Have a great weekend!

P.S. I’m going to this tomorrow and am super excited about it!


Just do it.

I vastly underestimated how much time and effort it was going to take to paint the inside porch.

So far all I’ve done is one coat of primer with a brush, to make sure I got primer in all the little nooks and crannies, I’ll use a roller for the second coat. I fantasized that I could get it done this weekend while Pk watched Lucy, but it was much more fun to just lounge around with my favorite pair and enjoy the freakishly warm weather. I’m trying to motivate myself to whip out the brush again. I stumbled on this image… maybe a potential diy for us?

via country living Feb 2012

I think it would be fun to make a bench with some of the reclaimed barn wood we have in our storage space. Baskets underneath could solve our shoe storage issue, too. We don’t have a coat closet (a tragedy in these chilly parts) so hooks for coat storage are a must. Maybe from here?

I hope you all had a lovely weekend.


DIY play tent (with lights)

It’s been extra dreary weather this past week, and with Pk gone, Lucy and I didn’t get out much. I thought it would be fun to make her a little retreat in her room for the dark fall afternoons.

It’s been a big hit.

It was fun to make, but this is the second version. The first one was so cattywampus  that I redid it. Here’s how


1 6 foot length of 1/2 PEX tubing (you could also use a hula hoop if you have one lying around)

1 1/2 inch PEX coupling

1 6 foot rope light kit

White electrical tape

An old pair of sheer curtains ( I had leftover sheer panels from the living room that we decided not to use after we repainted)

A length of ribbon or string (at least two feet so you can trim off excess)

A hook to attach it to the ceiling

Instructions – Tape the rope light along the length of flexible PEX with the white electrical tape (it doesn’t have to be white, but this way it doesn’t show through the sheer fabric)

Cut about 14″ off the bottom of you curtains and sew it back on to the top making sure to leave the rod pocket open. Hem the (new)bottom. My curtains had an existing pocket at the bottom too, but you may have to open the ends of yours if the hem was sewn shut. Run your ribbon or string through what is now the top. Run the taped together light/pex through the what is now the middle rod pocket and close the PEX into a loop with the coupling. Tie your ribbon tight to gather it at the top and hang it from a sturdy cieling hook. Voila! A lit play tent. I added a cozy faux fur throw and a pillow for comfort. 

I managed the wire that was running down the wall with some stick on velcro. I also added safety pins to keep the panels together around the hoop.

We also had a conveniently located outlet that I added a safety cover to.

I chose not to sew the panels together to give it flexibility, in case we hang it somewhere else or want to have a front and back exit.

A view from inside looking up and a glimpse of my atrocious sewing.

Lucy’s ceiling is angled so I just tucked the leftover fabric under the cushions on the floor. If you are hanging this in a room with tall ceilings I would suggest using longer curtains, or maybe sewing an extra panel on the bottom to give it the height you need. The great thing about this projects is how customizable it is. If you are handy with sewing (I’m not!) you could add all sorts of embellishments to it. The materials cost less than $20, not including the curtain panels. Much cheaper than this one from the Land of Nod.

Just a safety note, we don’t leave it on all the time and always supervise Lucy while she’s playing in it. I would recommend hanging it from a stud if you can; I wasn’t able to find one so I used a super sturdy drywall anchor to hang my hook. If she did pull it down, it’s quite lightweight and wouldn’t hurt her. I think I’ll add a few more cushions so it’s extra cozy for both of us.

Have a fantastic weekend!


diy black pipe console table

Pk and I recently undertook a fun diy project. We made a console table out of black pipe and wood salvaged from a barn that belonged to his family in Michigan. I’m really happy with how it turned out!

One of the great perks of building your own furniture is that you can customize it to fit your needs. There are so many sizes and fittings of black pipe, you can basically create any shape you want. We wanted a pretty shallow depth table for this space because it butts up against a bookcase and seating area. The barnwood we had was 62 inches long and about 14 inches wide and we bought pipe to fit it, but if you’re building your own, you may want to get different sizes based on the size wood you choose. Black pipe can be cut and threaded to any length you choose. We chose 3/4 diameter pipe because we liked how substantial it looks.

Here’s our material list –

4 – 3/4 diameter 21″ nipples for the legs (we had 24″ lengths cut down and threaded)

6 – 3/4 T’s

1 – 3/4 48 nipple” for the cross bar support

4- 3/4 5″ nipple for the legs above the joints

4- 3/4 3″ nipples for the horizontal support

8- 3/4 floor flanges to act as feet, and to connect the base to the table.

1 can of Rustoleum High Performance enamel in flat black.

Wood screws (we used inch and a half long screws because our wood top is so thick.)

Our material cost was about $125 (black pipe isn’t cheap!) but that’s still a whole lot less than some of the other console table options I liked and we were able to customize the length. I also wanted to be able to fit our ottomans underneath so we could have a bit of extra seating when we need it.

Our process was pretty straight forward. Once we decided on 3/4 diameter pipe, we just played with the fittings at Home Depot until we got the look and stability we needed to support our heavy wooden slab.

We initially thought we wanted a shelf too, but once we spied this huge slab in our pile of salvaged wood, we knew that keeping it simple was a better idea. It’s got so much character; saw marks, wormholes, etc. We didn’t do anything to it except give a wipe down and a quick coat of teak oil to even out the color and bring out a little   bit of depth.

I initially thought we would cut down the board to be closer to 52 inches, but once we had everything put together, we decided to leave the edges as is.  Once the base was assembled, I took it out to the backyard and seriously cleaned it. Black pipe always has a ton of cutting oil residue so before I painted it I gave it a really thorough cleaning with a degreaser. I used Rustoleum High Performance Enamel spray paint in flat black. I only had to do one coat to even out the color over the whole base.Once it was dry we simply screwed it on out board upside down and voila! Gorgeous, rustic/industrial table. Because the pipe is threaded we were able to level the table to accommodate our seriously sloping floors. The slab itself is a little warped, which presented a challenge in terms of leveling, but if you’re buying dimensional lumber that won’t be a problem for you.

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you might remember this picture of the same spot in our living room from holiday time. We had a larger farmhouse table.


and now


I think the round mirror will go back up, and I’m thinking about slipcovering the ottomans. I love the scale of the table and how the black pipe picks up the black of the bookcases. I also love that the wood is from one of Pk’s Grandma’s barns in Michigan. The pipe furniture look isn’t for everyone, I know, but right now its working with our casual/luxe living room style. I just made that up. Our style could probably be more accurately called doing the best you can while living in a tiny house with a toddler, dog, cat, and trying to decorate on the cheap. But i digress…


The slab has to be at least 100 to 150 years old, and who knows how old the tree was when it was cut down and milled into this piece of wood. I love having a piece of furniture that’s connected to Pk’s roots and I especially love that we were able to come up with an option that used a material we already had on hand. Have you guys ever built anything out of pipe?

I finally feel like our living room is starting to come together. After so many months of renovations (enclosing the porch, remodeling the kitchen, and putting trim in the living room/sunroom) it’s so nice to finally start decorating and creating a space that works for our family.


update – 5/22/2014

This project was selected for the Bob Vila Thumbs Up Competition!


this is real purty.

I can’t stop thinking about this whimsical wallpaper mural I spotted on Anthropologie’s website.

It’s by the artist Rebecca Rebouche. I think it would be totally perfect in a child’s playroom. It would be an amazing backdrop for creative play,  inspired by the dreamy landscape she’s created.


Anthropologie also is carrying a dinnerware line based on her work and I love the saturated colors. They are lovely (and on sale!)

Find more of her work in her Etsy store.

Adventures with iDye

So, whilst trolling the internet one day, I stumbled upon these deeply discounted slipcovers at Worldmarket. 50% off? yes please. I stopped by my local store and picked up a pair to save on shipping. These covers are cotton velvet. Dyeable cotton velvet.

I’ve been hunting for slipcovers for an ugly pair of upholstered dining chairs I picked up at a thrift store for $5 a piece.

See? Ugly. They are so ugly that my camera took an ugly picture.

I grabbed a pack of iDye from my local Dick Blick art supply.

I figured that choosing a gray-ish color would mean that I could simply over dye the slipcovers without color stripping them first. Epic fail.

I ended up with olive drab covers. Not so exciting. So I went a grabbed a couple packs of iDye color remover and set about removing all the color from these ugly ducklings. iDye color remover and dyes are super easy to use. I grabbed a big pot, filled it with water, added the color remover dissolving packet, and my fabric. 10 minutes later, they weren’t looking that much better. My kitchen was a little smellier though (this stuff is noxious, and a little toxic, so be prepared to sacrifice a pot to this because it can’t be used for food once you use it for dye removal.) Also, pk, don’t be mad that I ruined borrowed you clam pot.

I was feeling a little discouraged, but 10 minutes later…

Progress. They were looking alot more like they did when I originally bought them. So I left them in for another 10 minutes.

MUCH better. For good measure, I tossed then in the wash with some bleach. Once I had removed all traces of the dye remover I started the dying process again. I was a little freaked out about dying something in my machine, but its really not that scary. Dye packet goes in, add a cup of salt and enough hot water to cover your fabric.

I set my machine on soak for an hour and then just ran a wash cycle as usual. Then I did another cycle on cold with a little detergent to make sure the dye was totally set.

The final result?

Much more like what I expected. and wrinkly, but we’re working on that. with an iron. The color is better though.

Lesson learned, don’t be lazy with fabric dye, play it safe and make sure you are starting with a clean slate. If you are dying over a vivid or dark color, use dye remover first. I’m still not totally sold on the fit of the covers, but the dyeing process was kind of fun. There’s definitely a few things in my closet that might benefit from a little dye and now that I know what to expect from the process I won’t shy away from future attempts. iDye has a lot of different color options and a whole line just for polyester/nylon fabrics. I was really impressed by how straightforward and easy it was, even if I’m not falling over in love with my chairs.
Have you guys ever dyed anything before? Is it bad that my cheapo thrift chairs make me want to by an expensive new rug for the living room?
Happy weekend!

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