Tag Archives: tutorial

Cave Dwellings {Subway Art}

You may remember the basement that we finished to be the man cave/play room.

It’s time the walls give a little loving.  There’s big plans of this space, but I had to make a truce with the husband, no flowers in the man cave.  Let me back things up a little, my husband is an avid Harley Davidson rider (not the scary kind).  When we were dating I fell in love with the spontaneous adventure a motorcycle ride would bring.  For as long as I have known him, his Harley is one of the material possessions that he takes the most pride in. Naturally when we decided to finish the basement, we had a mutual understanding that this was “his space.” It was designed to accentuate the adventurous side of our life, mixed in with a bit of everyday reality (IE- the play room).

With that said, maybe I should introduce you to “the Mistress” AKA the motorcycle.

Yellow, Black & Chrome pretty much describe her. Would you agree?

OK, back to the basement.  I needed a piece that would not only visually appeal to the adventurous side of our story, but also something that would compile the memories and events into a piece of art.  Enter the world of trendy and fun subway art. Originally inspired by House of Smith’s Gallery Wall and Address Subway Art. 

We started by brainstorming all the words that define our relationship with “the Mistress.”  This included words, locations, dates, fun memories, you get the point.  Based on the number of words I guessed the size of base I would need.  I chose a 18″ by 18″ MDF board (Habitat ReStore is a great place for super cheap MDF…$1.)  I spray painted it a glossy black and moved onto step two.

I had read a tutorial on using freezer paper for the lettering.  I have since trashed that tutorial due to udder frustration and waste of time.  However in all fairness I started by typing up the words/phrases using different fonts on the computer.  Then I placed freezer paper over the top of the letters.  After some time my genius husband propped a light under my glass-topped IKEA table to make the cutting of the letters much easier.  Using an Exacto knife I (and the husband) cut the letters out of the freezer paper.

Supposedly you could place the letters glossy side down on your base, and iron them to get them to stick.  This step was followed by painting on a layer of glaze to seal the letters.

A container of Modge Podge later I decided that tutorial WAS WRONG! It brought nothing but frustration and lack of sleep, so I moved on to my next best option.  I purchased a package of white vinyl, borrowed a CriCut machine and a few font cartridges from work, and di-cut the remaining letters.  My husband used the “leftover vinyl” to cut out the dragon and motorcycle graphics using the light and Exacto method explained above. We used transfer paper to line all the letters up from the vinyl sheet to the base.  This made the layout design much easier and ensured nothing was too crooked and fit in the designated space.  The hardest part was determining was size to make the letters as the size defined on the CriCut only verified the height and did not take into consideration the width of the letters/word.

This is the final layout of  words/dates/graphics that defined our adventurous side of life.  To add a final touch, the husband cut white molding and created a frame 1/2″ around the outside to add a finishing touch.  Our subway art is no longer a part of the gallery wall we once envisioned, instead she currently takes up residence above the fireplace on our mantle.  She certainly has become a focal point for the room!

My only complaint is that the white vinyl lettering is really bright and glossy.  I’m thinking of taking some colored glaze to tone it down a bit….what do you think?

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Filed under Inspiration, Tutorials

DIY Garden Path

Do you ever have left-overs after a project and not sure what to do with it?  My husband and I finished off our basement this winter.  One of the main projects was adding a gas fireplace with a stone surround.  While I LOVE the way it turned out, putting this puzzle together was not easy.  Unlike most puzzles there wasn’t a picture to follow.  You have to figure it out, and no two piece are alike…but I was able to do it (Yes I designed the layout and the husband made it happen).

So what does this have to do with a DIY Garden Path?  The boxes of these bad boys come in a variety of sizes, colors and dimensions.  While we didn’t need all 4 boxes, we needed to pull random pieces from them in order to make our masterpiece- hence we have several boxes of random, super heavy stones that might not be enough for another project,  and this style of stone has been discontinued.  Reselling them could be an option, but it might be a bit rude to the next user.  Our next best option was to use them for landscaping.

The hardest part was hauling them outside from the basement storage.  Then the husband simply cleared away the mulch, leveled the ground with flat shovel and began laying the rocks.  (My son played supervisor on this project)

We added a trailer full of mulch…Quick Thrifty tip: if you don’t want to break the bank on mulch, lumber yards chip their scraps and sell an entire trailer full of wood chips for $40 in our neck of the woods,  That trailer filled this bed, plus the bed around the entire perimeter of our house and a second raised bed by the garage.  We found the easiest way to spread the mulch was to use 5 gallon buckets.  Dump the buckets of mulch in the open areas in your beds and then go back later and spread the mulch out.  We even put buckets over the top of the stone path then took a broom and swept to sides.  This allows some mulch to get into the cracks making the stones a bit more stable…. I digress.  Here’s how she turned out.

I thought that was impressive.  Then I came home 3 days later from work and my husband surprised me by making the Arbor I’d been begging for since the one he made for our wedding was destroyed in a storm. Apparently this one is more durable. Shows how those little details can really polish off a project.  (I should note the wooden wheelbarrow in the background holding the pots of flowers he made for our wedding too).

You can see from the middle picture above that the spacing of path slowly spreads to reach the chairs.  Overall I’m happy with it.  It keeps the weeds down, add a touch of garden elegance, used up 2 huge boxes of Rock and just cost us a little time, sweat, and creativity.

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Not Just a Housewife: Outdoor Spaces


Filed under DIY Projects, Handyman

Thrifty Pottery Barn Clock

I hate throwing any building materials away.  In fact I’m constantly looking through my husbands “trash” and hoarding supplies that I could repurpose.  Such is the story for my Clock project.

I have been wanting to make a clock for some time.  I love clocks, not that they have much influence on my lifestyle since I am always late (yes, I’m one of those people), but in home decor I am drawn to them.  So it was no surprise when I saw this fun little inspiration, from Pottery Barn, that I had a little lust and envy.

Just so happens the $129 price tag took care of that immediately.  A few key things I liked was the wood look, the dotted outside border, and the black numbers.  Keeping these things in mind I accumulated things to make my version of the clock.

My Materials: Scrap Lathe (wood pieces from walls in old houses), acrylic paint, silver brads, wood glue, piece of MDF board, clock “guts” and house numbers, hammer, and access to fancy power tools (drill, band saw, and optional other technical tools)

My budget: Less than $10. (MDF $1.) (Brads $2.50) (Numbers 5@.25=1.25) Clock hands ($1.)  little time and love

We finished out basement this winter, and in doing so we tore down an old lathe and plaster wall.  I scraped all the plaster off about 10 pieces to prep it for paint.

Using off-white acrylic paint I “roughly” painted the tops and sides.  When I say roughly I used a foam brush and just put enough paint on the pieces to add some color, not completely covering the wood.

close up after painting

Then I took a piece of MDF board that I purchased from Habitat Re-Store (I’m an addict, just an FYI) for a dollar.  My handy husband, who is much more efficient at operating power tools than I, cut a 12″ diameter circle in the MDF and added the “hole thingy” in the back to hang it.  Seeing how I wanted mine to hang flush to the wall, and the weight of the MDF was quite heavy, I opted to also have him cut out a piece in the center of the MDF to house the clock guts.  I just picked up whatever MDF I could find which ended up being 3/4″ thick. (pardon my lack of  knowledge of clock parts- hope this makes sense). Note: I know that the chances of people having the power tool that makes the fancy hanging hole in back is slim.  You could easily modify to use saw-tooth picture hanger, or wire across the back to hang.

Then using silver brads, I attached the lathe pieces to the MDF circle.  I wanted the silver brads to make the outside circle design (black dots on the outer edge of the Pottery Barn clock).

As you can see, I didn’t want a specific pattern or striped look to the face of the clock, so I used different length and paid attention to where the edges lined up.  In order to be sure that the brads held I applied a layer of wood glue to the back of each piece then adhered to the MDF circle.  I also drilled little hole to make hammering the brads into the wood/MDF a bit easier.  After all the pieces were attached I trimmed down the pieces that were hanging over the edge of the MDF circle.

I found these house numbers at Habitat Re-Store for 25 Cents each. While they didn’t have an entire collection they had enough to convey the style I was looking for.    One thing about using house numbers, they were a little big.  Fitting all the numbers in was a bit cluttered, so I had to come up with an alternative to make this work.  I might suggest a larger clock face.

Trying to find smaller numbers was a challenge so I took it upon myself to free-hand the remaining numbers.  I used a black paint-pen.  The clock guts (par that makes it work) I had from a clock that died, but I found new hands at a rummage sale.  I just painted the hands black to match the numbers.

The final product:

It was perfect for the husband’s basement decor.

Liking to these party’s
Home Stories of A to Z: Tutorials & Tips Tuesday
Not Just a Housewife: Show me what you got
The Creative Girl: Something I whipped up

Sugar Bee Crafts: Take a Look Tuesday
Todays Creative Blog: Get your craft on
Someday Crafts: Whatever Goes Wednesday
Miss Mustard Seed: Furniture Friday

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Filed under DIY Projects, Handyman, Inspiration