Decoupaging our own Christmas tree topper star

This year marked our 1st year spending Christmas on our own, without plans to be with our families across the country.  We decided to get to a tree.  Surprisingly, tree toppers are hard to buy around here.  Well, maybe that and we procrastinated our tree shopping until a week prior to the holiday.

Therefore, we’re making our own tree top!

Budget:

  • $7.50 for cardboard star
  • $3 for red tissue paper
  • $0.99 for 2 glitter pens
  • $0 mod podge – already owned
  • $0 exacto knife

cardboard star, tissue paper, glitter pen

Step 1:
use exacto knife to cut one hole where the top of tree will go into.  See the circle in picture.

Step 2:
take a whole sheet of tissue paper, fold it multiple times to roughly the size of 2 star sides.  Cut tissue paper to a little bigger than a side triangle.

Step 3:
brush on the thin all-purpose glue (mod-podge), then affix the cut triangle papers onto all sides of star.

if you’re an accomplished decoupage-r, this will be very easy for you.  My 1st project didn’t work out as well.  Hopefully, 2nd time will be the charm for me. 🙂

Step 4: 
slowly apply all paper pieces onto the star.  Go around the whole star for 2 layers.  After both layers dried, apply mod podge all over the star to create a shiny exterior.

Step 5: 
apply drops of glitter pen (which is basically glue in a tube with glitter)

The glitter drops will take a while to dry.  Be patient.  Don’t move the star around too much.

decoupaged star with glitter drops

Step 6: 
Position the star on top of the tree and enjoy!

decoupaged red star

harmonizing bedroom dressers and night stands

Part of the fun/charm of moving in with a partner for the first time is the combing of your worldly possessions that, often, don’t match.  Between the 2 of us, we managed to have 2 night stands and 2 dressers.  Every one of them had its own style & color.  I’ve wanted to do something about it for a long while now.

Finally, I decided to pickup 2 shades of blue paint in the same family so they will look cohesive, without being overly matchy.

Budget:

  • $24 for paint
  • $3 for sand paper
  • $0 for old dressers and night stands

Time:

  • small night stands took about 1.5-2 hours EACH!  sanding really took a while.
  • dressers took about 2-4 hours each with all the sanding, prepping, and painting.

-room before-

-night stands: before-

-night stands: after-

-Night stand #1 & #2 + Dresser #1 & #2-





Toilet Paper Rolls turned wall art

I saw this post on Design *Sponge of this quick project from Tali and thought I can use some home made art to decorate my wall space 🙂

Budget:

  • $0 for toilet paper rolls.  This wasn’t hard but just time consuming to gather all the rolls
  • $0 for scissors, pen, ruler, paint, glue, staple that I already had

Time:

  • 2 hour

Step 1: Collect your rolls and take off the remaining toilet paper pieces

Step 2:  cut each roll to roughly 5 equal parts

Step 3:  arrange the pieces in different patterns.

I wasn’t sure where I was going to put it, so I just started to play around.

Step 4:  painting the rolls with different colors.

I glued some of the mini rolls together first before I started painting.  That wasn’t too smart.  I would’ve been better off with my paint job if I had painted the rolls first, cut them, then arrange into the pattern I want, then glue them.

Step 5:  After glue and paint had dried, I used thumb tags to arrange the rolls on the wall.

A month later…


Plant shelf

Budget:

  • $0 for shelf  (already had)
  • $0 for paint (left-over )

Time:

  • 1 hour

The shelf I had painted previous was actually only 1/2 of the original shelf.

The other half had been sitting on the side of our dining room, looking quite confused without a purpose.  We had used it to just pile on stuff that didn’t have a home and hide all the homeless stuff in the big closet before guests would come.  Finally, an ah-ha moment came.

I am going to put my herb plants on it.  The plants have been sitting on the cabinet in the kitchen, toward the side that’s hard to reach and getting too much direct sun.

I painted the middle shelves the same brown color as the dining chair.  Then, I tried using the blue paint I had for the side panels.  The blue I have is really too light and looked weird on a wood shelf in the dining room.  I then performed custom blending that I’m so *good* at… NOT!

plant shelf

Fortunately, gradually adding the darker paint into the lighter paint was the key to control the color change.  It also created better blending.  I’m quite happy with the shade of blue it ended up…. matches with the new blue carpet we got for the living room.  maybe some day I will do a post of apartment tour.

Until then… our newly trimmed herb plants are sitting quite nicely on the painted shelf.  The biggest pot is the newest addition — Tomato plant!  I can’t wait to start harvesting.

plant shelf (2)

plant shelf (3)

Small table/shelf for the Water Closet

BUDGET:

  • $3 or $0… part of a large chunk of stuff I got from a guy in a moving sale

  • $0 for paint (left-over )

TIME:

  • <1 hour

A new feature in this apartment that I never had in any previous apartments was the separate bathroom (with tub and sink) and water closet (just the toilet).  I was told it is a very “San Francisco” and “charming” characteristics.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I bring reading materials when I “do my business”.  There’s got to be a place to set down the materials when you need to.  However, with our small space, it needs to be something with small foot print.

SO, I’ve been on a search for that perfect little table.  Finally, over the past weekend, I found it in a moving sale!

Small blue stand (1)

It was used outdoor with planters on top of it.  There was quite a bit of rust, especially on the tray.

Small blue stand (2)

After cleaning & painting, ta-da!

Small blue stand (4) Small blue stand (3)

I left the pole section the original color to provide a little contrast.  Now we have  a little “table” in the water closet! 🙂

Small blue stand (5)

Small Chalk board in the kitchen

Budget:

  • $0 for plywood board (picked up at a winery somewhere)
  • $0 for paint (left-over + generous donation from friend)
  • $0.25 for wood to make holder (guy at store felt that he couldn’t just give it to me for free)

Time:

  • <1 hours

I’ve been wanting a chalk board since I’ve read various blog posts about other people’s.  My friend, M, made a huge one in her own dining room and had some left over paint.  She was nice to offer it to me.

Then, I wanted a place to hold the chalks.  I kind of envisioned a pretty simple thing, so I got a simple piece of wood from a store that I won’t list its name.  I thought I had paid too much for the amount of wood I got, and it was basically part of their scrap pile.

In any case, I wiped the plywood board clean first.  One of the sides was fairly smooth, so I didn’t bother sanding it.  However, I did have to cut it to fit in a panel that in the kitchen.

Chalkboard (2)

Then, I began to paint 2 coats of chalk paint on the board.  I waited until the 1st coat dried before applying the 2nd.  Quite pleased with the result.

The scrap wood was too wide/long for the width of the board, so more sawing.  The saw was not very easy to use.  It vibrated quite a bit, and I couldn’t hold on to the wood too well.  The cut line could’ve been much smoother, but I guess it has a more ‘rustic’ look to it.  Then I painted it with left over light blue paint.

Lastly, I painted on some “vine & leaves” on the top of the plywood board where there was a small crack.  I looked REALLY HARD for a stencil pattern online but couldn’t find any.  After debating for a long while between making my own stencil board first vs. free hand the design, I decided to go free hand.  Well, in all honesty, the result is pretty… from afar’.  I hope no one examine it too closely when they look at it.  Rather, I hope people will just be impressed by the fact that I MADE a chalkboard. :p

Attached the “chalk holder” to the bottom of the board, and nailed the board to the wall.  Here we have a chalk board in the kitchen!

Chalkboard (11)

and a zoomed-out look:

Updating bookshelf + arranging books by colors

Budget:

  • $0 for bookshelf (inherited from an old roommate)
  • $0 for paint (left-over)

Time:

  • 2.5 hours

Our apartment was painted with a lot of cream wall colors & white trims through out.  It’s nice and  serene and makes white furniture disappear.

I have inherited a large white bookshelf from an old roommate years back.  It’s a nice size and decently built  but definitely showing its age. While brainstorming what color to paint it with by using what I already have, nice boyfriend suggested “grey”!  Perfect.  I have black, and I have light blue and white.  Isn’t grey just black mixed with a lighter color?


So the great mixing process began.  Hand mixing paint colors reminded me of mixing baking batter without recipe.  You have your base of whatever already in the bowl.  Then, you slowly pour in the additional ingredient.  Too much, your cake won’t rise.  Too little, you cake tastes funny.  My mixing bowl looked like this:

Grey bookshelf (3)


Oh, forgot to mention that before any paint job, you need to prep your surface.  That means sanding, wiping with damp towel, and taping the edges so you don’t paint over the area that you don’t want to paint.  This is also my least favorite part of the painting.  It’s time consuming, and I’m much more interested in taking my paint brush to the object.

I decided to go with grey on the exterior to the bookshelf while leaving the interior white so the color wheel that I am going to organize the books by will stand out.  To be clear, I didn’t invent this method.  I saw it on a HGTV show sometime and have been wanting to try it.  Here is my top 3 reasons why I think it’s a good idea:

  1. Visually Appealing: organized colors make the space look more thought out, instead of just piling books on your shelf.  Would’ve been even cooler if I had a horizontal shelf.

  2. Discovering new books: sure, organizing books by subject makes perfect sense.  I had been doing that for as far as I can remember.  It’s great for finding a book that you already know you’re looking for.  But what happens to the other less-favored ones?  When will they ever get read if you don’t pick it up?  This way or organization throws you in an unfamiliar order and forces you to pick up more books.

  3. Why not?  I’m not operating a bookstore or a library here:  It’s really not like I have seas of books that I need to reference to all the time.  Besides, it’s in my own space.  As long as the 2 people living here are happy with the arrangement, it’s all good.


Adding a small detail to make it more interesting, I also painted the very bottom black.  It kind of reminds me of the ‘exposed legs’ of couches/sofa/love seat.

After painting, I left the shelf to dry for hours.  I touched up some of the backing with white paint I had because there were scratch marks.  The colors weren’t really a match.  Oh well… the books will color them.

Shelf finally dried.  I sanded it with super fine steel wool for the finished look.  Then the great arranging began.  I arranged the books by colors first.  Then within the piles of the same color, I divided them by shades.  Having a color wheel image near by was pretty helpful.

Here is the finished look!

Shelf 003