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My Top Favorite Thrifty Finds

22 Jul

PicCollagethriftyfinds

There are treasures to be discovered at thrift stores, estate sales, and even some retailers. There’s also plenty of over-priced junk. I’ve purchased both.

Sometimes I leave empty-handed. Sometimes my hoarding tendencies kick in and I buy something I don’t need or want.

But sometimes, I find just the perfect thing for Around My Home, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite finds with you in this post.

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New Life For This Old Vanity Bench

1 Jul

I recently completed transforming this antique vanity bench from this:

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To this:

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I loved this bench the instant I saw it. It cost me $8 at an estate sale. The wood structure of the bench was sound, but the cushion was n-a-s-t-y.

THE PROCESS

First, I removed the cushion with a screwdriver and thoroughly cleaned the wood structure of the bench with TSP. I decided to re-use the piece of plywood for the base of the cushion, which involved removing about five million staples.

Each morning for about a week, I spent ~30 minutes removing those pesky staples. That was not fun.

The fabric and stuffing from the old cushion was disgusting and smelly, so I didn’t re-use any of it.

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Once cleaned and dried, I lightly sanded the piece using a 220 sanding sponge.

Sanding roughs up the top layer of finish and years of oil and dirt to prepare the surface for priming and painting. Continue reading

Budget Decorating: Re-purposing Old Books

15 Jun

During a recent trip to Restoration Hardware to buy paint for our kitchen makeover, I took a quick peek around and instantly fell in love with this look:

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A closer inspection revealed a small stack of what appeared to be old paperback books sans covers and bound together in a neat little package with twine.

I was surprised to find a price tag – RH sells these bundles for $15 each! Are you kidding me?!

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I loved the look but decided I could probably create it myself for close to free.

So I marched right home and instantly went to work.  Okay, it was really about two weeks later in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep and was looking for something to do and remembered the book idea.

I pulled out some books that I was getting ready to donate and reviewed my stack of recent thrift store book purchases, too.

I was completely delighted (insert happy squeal here) to discover some twine in my husband’s workshop. Yay, Honey for having twine!

I was able to quickly put this bundle together in just a few minutes:

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DIY Chalkboard for Back-to-School or Anytime!

29 Aug

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This project offers near-instant gratification. It’s super quick and easy and involves very little hands-on project time.

First, choose a surface you’d like to transform into a chalkboard.  You can use wood, canvas, cardboard, ceramic, or even glass. Glass is not much of an option Around My Home, with a two-year old running around that we’ve affectionately named “Grabby Hands”.

I had planned on using a black, pre-primed artist’s canvas to create my first chalkboard. I still think that would turn out great.

For this project, however, I discovered that the frame I had purchased contained a perfect piece of particleboard backing, so that’s what I used instead.

This brand of chalkboard paint comes in a 4 oz. container. I purchased it at Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon. I’ve also seen chalkboard paint in quart-size containers at home improvement stores. I just didn’t want to buy that much for such a small project.

chalkboard paint pic

Chalkboard paint is water-based, so I used one of my nicer paintbrushes to apply the paint, knowing that I’d enjoy soap and water cleanup.

I followed the directions on the paint label exactly:

1. Apply two even coats of paint to a clean, dry surface: one coat vertically and one coat horizontally, waiting an hour in-between coats.

I noticed brush strokes when the paint was wet, but they disappeared once the paint had dried.

To keep my work surface from moving around, and to create perfectly clean edges, I used Frog Tape to attach it to a piece of cardboard. I then removed the tape immediately after painting my second coat.

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2. Following the second coat, let the paint cure for 24 hours. 

With our hot, humid summer, I opted to let it cure for closer to 36 hours.

3. Once the paint finished curing, I “primed” the chalkboard by rubbing a piece of chalk lengthwise over the entire surface, and then wiping it off with a soft cloth.

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Now my super-fun chalkboard is ready to use and looks terrific!

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Project Cost Breakdown:

–Frame: $.01 (yes, 1 cent!)

–Chalkboard paint: $1.79 after 40% coupon (can be used for future projects)

–Paintbrush: already had

–Particle board: included in cost of frame above

–Chalk: $1.47

Total cost for this project: $3.27 (plus tax)

I liked my first chalkboard so much that I quickly made a second one:

I liked my first chalkboard so much that I made a second one. I purchased the decorative cutting board at a local thrift store. It had one of those blue and white ceramic plates embedded in it. I had planned on painting over the ceramic, but I couldn't bring myself to paint directly over someone else's artwork. So, I grabbed a manila folder from my office, and used that to produce a thin chalkboard. Then I applied it to the top of the ceramic plate with spray adhesive that allows for non-permanent adhesion. This particular chalkboard is up and out of the way and just for decoration, so I'm not as worried about its durability.

The mini cutting board pictured above was a local thrift store find. It has one of those blue and white ceramic plates embedded in it, which I forgot to photograph in my hastened excitement.

I had originally planned on painting over the ceramic, but once I had my brush in hand,  I just couldn’t bring myself to slather thick black paint over someone else’s artwork.

So, I grabbed a manila folder, cut it to size, and used that to produce my chalkboard instead. Once cured and primed, I applied it to the top of the ceramic plate with re-positionable spray adhesive. Since this chalkboard is out of the way and solely for decoration, I’m not concerned about its durability.

I’ve found myself looking at everyday items Around My Home, wondering if they’d make good chalkboards: picture frames, flower pots, and even old salsa jars (the lids or the glass or both!)

It’s such a fun and rewarding project that I plan to make some personalized gifts for birthdays, housewarming, and Christmas.

What do you have around your home that’s waiting to be re-purposed with a little chalkboard paint?

Decorate With Books!

30 Jul

While we’re waiting for the paint to dry on my antique vanity bench project, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite design tips: how to decorate with books!

I purchased 3 of these books for $1 each at a local shop that specializes in estate sales. The top one in the stack is a French grammar book that I loved the instant I held it and I paid $5 for it. It's one of the most expensive books I've purchased.

I purchased 3 of these books for $1 each. The top one in the stack is a French grammar book that I paid $5 for. It’s one of the most expensive books in my collection.

Old or new, books are a great way to add character, color, and interest to your home.

I opt for books that are conversation starters and are of interest to me. I like that that they display part of my personality without my saying a word. I also love that I can change them up without spending a fortune!

Here’s a sampling of photos showing how I’ve incorporated books into the design Around My Home:

I love these books! One is a vintage Nancy Drew mystery (I think I read every single one of them when I was younger) and the other is the Bobsy twins - each of these cost me $1. I personally love the weathered look.

I love these books! One is a vintage Nancy Drew mystery (I think I read every single one of them when I was younger) and the other is the Bobsy twins – each of these cost me $1. I personally love the weathered look.

Books create balance, making the perfect backdrop for organizing pictures and other objects you wish to display.

Books create balance, making the perfect backdrop for organizing pictures and other objects you wish to display. All of the books shown here were gifted or picked up for a bargain.

I picked up each of these beauties for under $4 each, some still encased in their original shrink wrap! The retail stickers on each of these was $39.95 and up!

I picked up each of these beauties for under $4 each (3 at Goodwill and 1 at Barnes and Noble), some still encased in their original shrink wrap! The retail stickers on each of these was $39.95 and up!

Here's that same stack on it's home in our family room. Recognize that end table? It's the first piece of furniture I transformed!

Here’s that same stack on it’s home in our family room. Recognize that end table? It’s my first furniture transformation!

This stack is my favorite right now: The big book on the bottom is a gorgeous book on art that was a gift from my mother-in-law. The  Rose Book I purchased at Half Price Books for $3. The French book was calling my name and I couldn't leave without it. I shelled out $14.97 for it - it's by far my most pricey book purchase to date. And I still love it!

This stack is my favorite right now: The big book on the bottom is a gorgeous book on art that was a gift from my mother-in-law. The Rose Book I purchased at Half Price Books for $3. The French culinary book was calling my name and I couldn’t leave without it. I shelled out $14.97 for it – it’s by far my most pricey book purchase to date. And I love it!

I purchased this book for $1. The hydrangeas are from my garden. I dried them and sealed them with acrylic clear coat. (I'll be providing details on how to do this in a near-future post). I already had the flower pot, but I painted it white and sealed it with a glossy clear coat.

I purchased this book for $1. The hydrangeas are from my garden. I dried them and sealed them with acrylic clear coat. (I’ll be providing details on how to do this in a near-future post). I already had the flower pot, but I painted it white and sealed it with a glossy clear coat.

Where to find your books!:

–Garage and Estate sales – deepest discounts are usually offered on Sunday’s.

–Thrift stores such as Salvation Army and Goodwill.

–Bargain or clearance section at retail bookstores.

When you bring them home:

–I dust off the outside covers of the books and mist the pages with Lysol before bringing them in my home. Another tip is to place them in a ziploc bag in your freezer for 48 hours.

–Don’t be afraid to ditch the covers on your books. Some of my favorite books had ugly covers that I tossed to reveal something beautiful beneath it.

Happy Hunting,

My First (Extreme) Furniture Makeover!

12 Jul

My recent interest in furniture transformations has taken on a life of its own!

I just finished transforming my first piece from this:

Before - I scored this beauty at the Salvation Army for $20!

To this!

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It all started with an old door that I acquired  from this adorable 1950’s bungalow I purchased last summer.

After scouring the internet for tutorials on how to transform an old door into a headboard, I stumbled across the BEST one out there: Mandi Gruber’s over at Vintage Revivals.

Mandi has great taste and even greater talent! I read every single post on her blog into the wee hours (some more than once) and also dropped by one of Mandi’s heroes, Brooke, over at All Things Thrifty. I was hooked instantly on what these talented gals are doing!

Starting with the headboard as my first project made me soooooo nervous – what if I seriously messed it up? I want it to be something really special when I’m all finished, so I decided to go shopping for something else.

I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for, but after visiting a couple of estate and garage sales, I found this beauty at the Salvation Army for $20!

Solid wood and charming, but in definite need of a deep cleaning and some TLC.

Before - I scored this beauty at the Salvation Army for $20!

I loved the detail the instant I saw it and knew it would make for a great glazing project.

I loved the detail the instant I saw it and knew it would make for a great glazing project.

I thoroughly cleaned every crevice of this piece with TSP, using an old toothbrush to remove years of dirt and grime.

I thoroughly cleaned every crevice of this piece with TSP, using  an old toothbrush to remove years of dirt and grime.

Then I sanded it with 150 grit sanding sponges to rough up the surface.

Next time, I’m planning to just clean and go straight to priming, using a bonding primer. I found that sanding it first made it difficult to get the primer and paint to come out even.

Then I sanded it with 150 grit sanding sponges to rough up the surface. Next time, I'm planning to just clean and go straight to priming, using a bonding primer. I found that sanding it first made it difficult to get the primer and paint to come out even.

My first pass at spray-priming in the garage resulted in a thin white layer of dust all over everything.

The Hubsters got busy and set up this portable shop for me in the driveway, complete with tarps to protect the neighbors’ (and our) cars and houses.

After my first pass at priming in the garage and covering everything with white dust, the Hubsters set up this portage shop for me in our driveway.

Primed and ready for paint!

Primed and ready for paint!

I spent a week deciding what color to paint and finally chose classic white with Krylon Colormaster in White Gloss.

So clean and fresh!

And no longer smells like 1960!

Painted white with Krylon Colormaster in  White Gloss! So clean and fresh!

Inside painted.

Let the Glazing Begin!

My first thought when I slathered on the glaze was: “oh no! I just wiped mud all over my beautiful white paint! How do I get this stuff off!

I was really nervous, but just chose to trust all the bloggers who instructed simply wiping off the glaze with a damp rag.

I looked at many, many glazing tutorials on-line. The technique I chose to follow was Mandi Gruber’s “clean glazing” over at Vintage Revivals.

Anyway, Step 1 is to paint the glaze on with an inexpensive brush, paying special attention to all of the detail. Like this:

First part of the glazing process! My first thought when I slathered on the glaze was: "oh no! I just wiped mud all over my beautiful white paint!" I was REALLY nervous, but just chose to trust all the bloggers who instructed simply wiping it off. After looking at TONS of glazed furniture online, the technique I chose to follow was Mandi Gruber's "clean glazing" over at Vintage Revivals. I found her site while searching for how to make a headboard out of an old door (something I plan to do...I already have the door). Anyway, Step 1 is to paint the glaze on with a brush, paying special attention to all of the detail.

Step 2: Wipe off the majority of the glaze, but not all of it. Like this:

Step 2 in the clean glazing process is to wipe off the majority of the glaze, but not all of it.

Step 3: Using a clean, dry paintbrush (not the one you used to apply the glaze), move it in circles everywhere the glaze is, essentially drawing it out from the cracks so that you can wipe it again. Like this:

Step 3 is to take a clean, dry paintbrush (not the one you used to apply the glaze) and move it in circles everywhere the glaze is, essentially, drawing it out so that you can wipe again.

Step 4: Start wiping again until you achieve your desired look. The top part in this photo is the final wipe down, the bottom part of the photo is just after dry-brushing.

Step 4: start wiping again until you achieve your desired look. The top part in this photo is the final wipe down, the bottom part of the photo is just after dry-brushing.

After “Clean Glazing”:

After "Clean Glazing"

 

Side-by-side comparison before and after glazing:

Side-by-side comparison before and after glazing.

Some yummy after photos:

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The next piece I’m planning to tackle is this vanity bench I picked up at an estate sale last weekend:

My next project!

My next project!

Happy Weekend!

New Windows for This Old House

13 Aug

The anticipation is killing me. And the large picture window for the front of the house that will be flanked by two double-hungs is delayed a week due to tempering the glass…sigh.

If you’ve visited Around My Home lately, you know that I’m in the middle of attempting a lightning-fast remodel of this recently-purchased 1950’s house.

Window installation began this weekend and I’m both anxious and excited. I’m trusting people I’ve never met to open up massive holes in my house with the promise to put something better in it’s place and seal it up tight before sundown.

A real nail-biter for sure.

The scary part – one big hole. What if the window installers decide to go to lunch and never come back? And why is there a toilet on the back porch?

That’s one happy window guy!

A bit of a preview: deciding to put a picture window in the breakfast area was definitely the right call. The backyard now looks HUGE! I can imagine drinking my morning coffee seated at the window and not wanting to leave that spot.

Here’s a shot of it from outside – far from finished yet, but on the way to beautiful…and energy efficient! When completed, wood trim will frame both the interior and exterior of each window.

One Window In!

Painters return today to paint the first coat of new exterior paint over the primer they applied last week.

What else is happening today? New countertops in the morning and kitchen sink in the afternoon!