Showing posts with label Decorating. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Decorating. Show all posts

Aug 30, 2016

Easy DIY Farmhouse Style Toothbrush Holder

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information.

 Our old suburban bathroom had a luxurious amount of counter space. Our new rural homestead bathroom has almost none. Organizing it is a bit of a challenge, and the toothbrush situation has been driving me to distraction. Four toothbrushes - plus a special toothbrush for my daughter's retainer - all strewn across one sink, along with toothpaste and soap...It was constant mess.

I looked both locally and online to find a toothbrush holder that would hold that many toothbrushes - some electric, with thicker handles than the manual kind - to no avail. Everything was either too breakable, too small, or too chintzy or cheap looking. (And, occasionally, more than I wanted to pay.) So last weekend, I whipped up a super easy solution that also fits in with my farmhouse vision for this house. And I did it all with stuff I had on hand.

First I'll walk you through how I made the toothbrush holder at zero cost, then I'll show you some simple and inexpensive ways to customize the look.
The commercially made inspiration for this project.

How to Make a Farmhouse Style Toothbrush Holder

You will need:

One pint sized canning jar with lid and screw band (I used a widemouth jar)
Small piece of chicken wire
Wire cutters

1. Lay the chicken wire flat on a hard surface and place the jar lid over it. Use the lid as a template for cutting the chicken wire into a circle the same size as the lid. Be sure to use wire cutters!

2. Lay the circle of chicken wire inside the canning jar ring.

3. Screw the ring onto the jar.

Viola! It doesn't get any easier than that!


* Use one of the "heritage" canning jars, which come in blue, green, and purple.

* Color the jar any color you like; there are many methods for doing this: This basic method; distressed method; "sea glass" look; metallic look; or colored glass look.

* Use any type wire mesh you have on hand, as long as a toothbrush will fit in the holes.

* Use a store-bought toothbrush insert for the jar, like this or this or this.

* Not crafty? Buy the Mason jar that inspired this project!

* Want a matching soap dispenser? That's really easy, too. Just purchase a pump! (This foaming pump insert works, too.)

Jan 7, 2016

11 Tips for Removing Wallpaper

I've removed a lot of wallpaper in my lifetime, and I admit, it's not a job I look forward to. (Even pros don't much care for the job of getting rid of wallpaper - which is, I think, why they charge so much to do it!) But sometimes the wallpaper in your home just has to go. Here are my best tips for making it as easy as possible.

1. Get the right tools. Forget the salesmen who say you need a steamer or a heat gun or even store bought wallpaper remover. Instead, grab a paint scraper (I use this one) and a spray bottle. Simple!

2. Always begin by protecting the floor. Lay an old towel on the floor directly below where you'll be working. Removing wallpaper is a soggy process, and the towel will soak up the water that might otherwise damage your floors. (And if your bathroom is gutted, be sure you cover up any drainage holes - like the hole for the toilet - with cardboard. You do not want wallpaper falling into your pipes and clogging them up! Not that I've ever done that. Ahem.)

3. Using just your hands, remove any and all loose wallpaper. If you don't have an obviously loose place to start, try a seam. (P.S. If you're the type of gal who gets manicures, this may not be the home improvement job for you.)

4. Don't use a scorer to put holes in the wallpaper. It's just way too easy to ruin the wall behind the wallpaper - and you don't want to replace your drywall, do you? Nope, I didn't think so.

5. Fill the spray bottle with hot tap water. Some websites recommend adding fabric softener, too, but this makes the wallpaper awfully slippery - and I don't find it works any better than just plain old tap water. Spray water on a section of wallpaper, wetting the edges or seams.

6. Use your fingers to pull off more wallpaper. Typically, wallpaper has a grain and will pull off in larger sections if you find it. For example, the wallpaper might be easiest to pull off top to bottom or right to left. Every wallpaper is different, so you have to experiment.  But if you find the wallpaper is coming off a centimeter at a time, you haven't yet found the grain!

7. Repeat the spraying and pulling...over and over and over and over again. Periodically, spray water on the gluey paper backing that's left behind. Gently use a paint scraper to remove it, moving the scraper either top to bottom or bottom to top. Often, once you start peeling off the paper backing with the scraper, you can remove large strips with your hands. Hallelujah!

8. When all the wallpaper is removed, let things dry. Then wash the walls with TSP cleaner, which is available anywhere paint is sold. The exception to this is if you're lucky enough to discover some homeowner before you didn't put anything between the wallpaper and the drywall. (Insert pasted on smile here.) In that case, you definitely don't want to wash it down - unless you really do prefer to put up brand new drywall. Instead, let the wall fully dry, then lightly sand it.

9. You never know what you'll find beneath wallpaper. Often you'll find more wallpaper...often many layers. If you're fortunate, you'll find already painted and textured walls beneath. Or you might find drywall...which could be in great condition, or not. (One person I know found huge holes in her drywall that somebody just wallpapered over.) Or, you may find a combination of all these things. That's what I discovered recently:

10. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT put new wallpaper back on the wall. Seriously. Just. Don't. Do. It. Some day someone will want to remove that wallpaper, and they will think sinful thoughts about you throughout the entire job.

11. Removing wallpaper isn't hard, but it is tedious. Which brings me to the most important point of this post: If the wallpaper is well secured to the wall (i.e., there are no loose sections), do NOT remove it! Instead, just paint over the darn stuff.

The end.

Dec 22, 2014

Our Tiny House Motor Home Bedroom: Before & After!

It's taken me over a month, working in bursts between homeschooling, working, and housework, but I finally finished painting our tiny house motor home bedroom! It was a lot of work...but worth it. Even my husband - who, although he was okay with me painting and decorating as I wish, said he really liked all the wood cabinets, that he didn't like "light and bright" and preferred a dark house, that he really didn't like blue for the walls...even he says the room looks brand new and relaxing.(Yay!)

The process of transforming the bedroom was a long one for several reasons. For one, I don't have a babysitter (and of course every time I tried to work on the motor home, the kids started fighting). For another, the space around the bed is meant for laying on - not cleaning and painting. I spent a lot of time in weird positions and on my very sore knees. Finally, the cabinets were really dirty, and much of the stain came off when I cleaned them. I spent much more time cleaning than sanding, priming, or painting.

Now, let's start with some before pictures:
This bedding came with the motor home and made the room look darker. You can't see it here, but the finish on the wood was uneven and really worn in many places.
This is after washing everything and sanding it down.
The first coat of primer.

And now after:
Notice that the side tables were originally covered in faded baby blue formica. I sanded the formica, primed, and painted.

A little note on the paint. I had a very specific shade of blue in mind. I never did find it, and almost every paint chip I looked at had a gray undertone - not at all what I wanted. We get a lot of gray skies, so I wanted something that would brighten the room even when there wasn't much sun out. I ended up with a color called Clear Blue Sky - and now the room does have the feel of blue sky with white clouds...even on a very gray day, as it was when I took the "after" photos. As for the cabinet paint, I used INSL-X Cabinet Coat and I highly recommend it! It's very forgiving and brush marks don't show. The color has a pinkish undertone.

P.S. My husband just walked by and saw me posting the before and after pictures. And what did he say? "Guess which one I like better? The before." Phooey.

UPDATE: My husband wishes to clarify that he doesn't like the "before" because of the bedspread, or even the colors chosen for the room. "I just like lots of dark wood," he says. 

Dec 18, 2014

8 Tips for Painting Cabinets

I'm sorry I've been so absent this week. I'm in a mad rush to finish painting our tiny house motor home bedroom before Christmas! I should be able to post some before and after pictures soon, but in the meantime, I thought I'd pass on a few tips for painting cabinets - something the tiny house is packed with and the main reason it's taken me a while to finish the bedroom.

1. Start by taking off the doors. This is really the only way to do a decent job. Be sure to use painter's tape and a Sharpie to number the doors; put one label on the back of the door and one on the back of the cabinet. Not all doors have the exact same holes for hardware, so this is a step you don't want to skip! Speaking of hardware, you must remove that, too. Keep the hardware for each door in it's own bag, marked with a corresponding number.

2. Now get the cabinets good and clean. More than walls, cabinets tend to be greasy (from cooking or from human hands) and dirty. It's essential to remove all that gunk before you paint - or the paint will just slide off. Look for a TSP substitute cleaner. This shouldn't smell and really gets the grease off. It can cause contact dermatitis in some people, so be sure to wear gloves as you work. (Some brands claim you don't need to rinse off the cleaner, but I recommend giving the cleaned cabinets a good wipe down with a damp, clean sponge, anyway.)

3. When the cabinets are dry again, lightly sand with about 150 -180 grit sandpaper. This shouldn't take long; you just want to take any shine off the cabinets. Again, this is about making the cabinets less slick so paint sticks well. (Be sure to wipe off sanded cabinets with a tack cloth, too!)

4. Prime. Don't skip this step, even if your paint promises it has primer in it. As a very experienced painter I know says, "If the paint says it has primer in it, it's a lie. It's just a trick to make you use more paint - because without primer, you're going to need considerably more paint." Use a good primer; I use Gripper.

5. Buy paint made just for cabinets. I used Insl-x Cabinet Coat, even though it was a bit more expensive than other options, and I LOVE it! It doesn't show brush strokes and has a beautiful finish.

6. Use a decent brush. It doesn't have to be super-pricey, but it should hold up to multiple coats without loosing its bristles. A two-inch angled brush works best. (I used a Proform brush.) Some people like foam rollers for painting cabinets, but I found this caused too much splatter.

7. Consider skipping painter's tape. I used tape, but regretted it because it was very difficult to remove and took some of the paint with it. This may be in part because it stayed in one place for many days, because I was sick and short on time for painting. When I painted the walls surrounding the cabinets, I used a paint guide, which blocks the paint from trim and other surfaces you don't want to paint. It was so much quicker, and quite effective! Just keep a cloth handy so you can wipe the edge of the paint guide frequently. It's also handy to have a small artist's brush on hand for tight spaces (more of an issue in a motor home than a house, to be sure!).

8. When painting doors, put them on a flat surface (like a piece of plywood atop two sawhorses), and lift them off the painting surface somehow. I used three cans of store bought food beneath each door, and this worked great! When it was time to paint the opposite side of the door, I put a piece of wax paper between the door and the canned goods, for extra protection of the freshly painted surface. (Also, when it came time to paint the side of the door that had the painter's tape numbered label on it, I removed the label and put it on one of the canned goods beneath the door.)

Apr 18, 2014

How to Buy Bath Towels that Last

Are you tired of buying bath towels only to have them shrink, fade, and unravel a short time later? Next time you're shopping, use this bath towel buying guide and avoid the disappointment and waste!

#1: Materials Used

The first thing to look for in quality towels is the type of material they are made from. The best towels are made of either cotton or bamboo. Cotton comes in several quality levels:

100% Cotton - 100% cotton towels are the minimum in quality you should look for. Many durable bath towels are made of ordinary cotton.

Prima Cotton - This type of cotton is made from the same plants that make the best Egyptian cotton, but are grown in the United States. A brand name for prima cotton is Supima cotton.

Organic Cotton - This type of cotton is about giving you a more natural product. Towels marked as made from 100% certified organic cotton are made from fibers that were never treated with chemicals while growing.

Turkish Cotton - Made from cotton that's grown in the Aegean region. Turkish toweling is almost as absorbent as Egyptian cotton, and is usually fluffy and thick.

Egyptian Cotton - The highest quality cotton available. The fibers are extra-long, highly absorbent, and very durable.

There are also micro fiber towels whose primary advantage is they dry quickly after use.

Be sure to read fabric labels carefully. Look for "100%" (i.e., "100% prima cotton"). Towels labeled "made with" (i.e. "made with prima cotton") include other fibers - usually synthetics.

Cotton plant.
#2. Construction
 In addition to the type of material used, consider the fabric weight. Sheets are given a thread count, but towels are measured by grams per square meter, or GSM. A lower GSM means the towels are thinner and lighter; a higher GSM means they are thicker and heavier. I recommend only considering towels 400 GSM or higher.

400-600 GSM towels are often used for beach towels or guest towels that aren't often used. They are medium weight, and each additional 100 GSM makes the towels a little more absorbent and heavy.

600-900 GSM towels are of the highest quality. They are heavier, more absorbent, and more durable.

You may also see references to "twist" - or the number of twists per inch made with the yarn during constructing. A lower number means the towel is softer and more plush; a higher number means the towel is more durable and heavy.
Some other construction methods are of note, too. For example, if the towel is combed cotton, the material is literally combed so that only the strongest and longest threads remain. Terry cloth towels have extra yarn and longer thread loops, making them more absorbent. Ringspin cotton is made from finer, smoother yarn, resulting in a softer towel, while two-ply towels are made with double the amount of yarn, making the towel absorbent, durable, and heavy.

#3. Size Matters

It's not true that all bath towels are of the same size. Some manufacturer's cut corners by making them smaller - and some more luxurious bath towels are considerably larger. The standard size of a bath towel is anywhere from 27 x 52 inches to 30 x 58 inches. If you want over-sized towels, look for "bath sheets," which are usually about 35 x 60 inches to 40 x 70 inches.

Hand towels are 16 x 28 inches to 18 x 30 inches in size, finger towels are about 11x18 inches, and wash clothes are about 13 x 13 inches.

#4. Making the Purchase

It may seem that buying towels in person is the best way to go. After all, if you can handle the towels, you can tell by feel how soft they are, and you can look closely to see how well made they are. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for manufacturers to apply a finish to the towels to make them feel softer or look shinier - and that finish will go away the first time the towels are washed. And unless you can see that the towels are raveling in the store (highly unlikely), it's pretty tough to tell much about the quality of the construction by just looking.

Instead, I recommend buying towels online - or at least consulting the store's website to look at online reviews. Begin by seeking out towels with 4 and 5 star ratings. From there, look at the worst reviews for the towels. Read those reviews carefully. Is the customer really complaining about the quality of the towels, or something else? It's also important to note how many great reviews there are vs. how many bad reviews there are. If, for example, a set of towels has one hundred 4 star reviews and 2 bad reviews, it's likely you will be pleased with the towels. Another thing to look for, however, is how long the customers have had the towels. Some people leave a review immediately after buying the product - perhaps even before using the product. Such reviews aren't very helpful. But reviews written by customers who've used the product for, say, a month or more, are highly useful.

Feb 8, 2012

How to Choose Paint Colors

Many people hesitate to paint because they feel they can't choose the right color. Happily, I have yet to discover - once the walls are painted - I've chosen a shade that isn't what I had in mind. I think that's because of my paint color choosing technique. Give it a try next time you want to add some color to your world:

1. If you're not sure what basic color to choose, take a look at the accessories in the room. For example, some of my paintings and upholstery have very small amounts of blue in them. If I paint a wall blue, everything will tie together, yet the look will be quite new. If you're still stuck on a basic color scheme, pick up some decorating magazines and look for color combinations you like; pay attention to colorful walls you admire.

2. Pick up paint chips in the general color you desire. Don't try to match the color in your mind (or your magazine clipping) yet. For example, if I paint my wall blue, I'll pick up all the paint chips in shades of blue, even if I think they are too dark or too light. The main reason for this method is that the awful commercial fluorescent lighting in stores makes paint chips look entirely different than they will look in your home. Oh, and while you're picking up paint chips, be sure to get a roll of painter's tape, too.

3. Once you're home, separate any paint chips that have more than one color on them. You will need to only look at one color at a time, so rip or cut those strands of color apart.

4. Rip off a piece of painter's tape and double it over, so it forms a cylinder. Stick this onto the back of one paint chip, then stick the paint chip on the wall you want to paint. If you'll be painting more than one wall, put the paint chip on the most prominent wall - for example, the one you first see when you walk into the room.

5. Step back at least five feet and look at the paint chip. If it seems much too dark, bright, or light for your taste, remove it and throw it away. If it could potentially work, remove the chip from the wall, remove the tape from the back, and set it aside for a few minutes.

6. Repeat step 5 with all the paint chips, discarding any that are obviously not right, but retaining any that might work.

7. Tape 2 or 3 of the "possibly will work" chips on the wall, using a cylinder of painter's tape. (You don't want to see the tape because it can skew the way your eye sees the color on the paint chip.) Keep the paint chips at least 5 (and optimally 10 or more) inches apart, but all on the same wall.

8. Look at the paint chips in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening, using whatever lighting is typical for that room. Remove any paint chips you don't like in any of these lighting situations.

9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 until you've examined all the "possibly will work" paint chips on the wall throughout the day and night. Now your pile of "possibly will work" chips should be smaller.

10. At this point, if you have a magazine clipping, you might hold up the paint chips to it, in the light you will mostly use in the room. I've often made my final color decision by choosing the chip that's closest to the photo.

11. If you're still unsure, tape the chips onto the wall for a few more days, making sure they are on the same wall and that they are a good 10 inches apart. If you'll be painting more than one wall, it's a great idea to tape all the chips onto some other walls in the room to see how they look in the morning, afternoon, and evening light.

12. At this point, I can always pick a single paint chip. If you're still unsure, you can try buying one of those tester jars of paint to put on the wall. They cost about $3. I'd recommend painting at least a 10 inch square on the most prominent wall you're going to paint, then be sure to view it in morning, afternoon, and evening light.

Happy painting!