Tag Archives: DIY

Going Girly for Anna

Once upon a time Charlie’s room was well decorated and super cute. Since Charlie moved in with Sofia and his old room became Anna’s nursery, the decor has gradually disintegrated into not so super cute. Read: messy, ugly, disorganized, and not at all suited to a baby girl.


I don’t feel like spending the kind of time, energy, and money I put into Charlie and Sofia’s bedroom makeover, sorry Anna, so I am going for low cost, big impact, DIY projects. Under the reign of Charlie the room was blue and white with yellow-green accents. I haven’t stopped liking those design elements and eventually the bedroom will revert ownership back to Charlie so I don’t want to do anything too permanent.

Between my sewing machine and a bottle of spray paint I am in the progress of girlifying the room for Anna. That is, exchanging the yellow-green accents for hot pink. FYI, I find pink a terrifying colour to work with. It will probably be the most wild room I have created thus far and at this point I am slightly dubious about the results but excited about my list of simple DIY projects. Here is an idea board with bits and pieces of my inspiration. Wish me luck!


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Filed under Decorating Projects, DIY Projects, Interior Decorating, Uncategorized

Wood Land Whimsy: DIY Terrarium Mobile

I have been working on decorating my children’s play area recently and it has been interesting to watch the space evolve as I take on different projects. Between the blossoming tree wall decal, the green chaise, and a cutesy squirrel sculpture which perches close to a potted plant, the decor has been taking on a distinctly “wood land whimsical” vibe. It wasn’t my intention but I have decided to run with it.

Steve calls the squirrel tacky. I call it whimsical. Either way, Sofia helped pick it out so it stays.

Steve calls the squirrel tacky. I call it whimsical. Either way, Sofia helped pick it out so it stays.

My next addition to the theme is a mobile to hang above our “little couch” (as Sofia calls our chaise). This is a place for resting, reading, cuddling, and dreaming. Gazing upward at a mobile of terrarium birds seems a perfect fit for topping off this cozy spot.

This project was easy as pie though a bit pricey due to the cost of the terrariums ($10 each at West Elm) and air plants ($7 each at Garden Works). You might be able to get the terrariums for cheaper at a florist but I decided to go with the cutesy birds. Below is a supply list and some simple directions for making a similar mobile. Even those very little inclined to DIY should be able to pull this off.

Supply List:

-3 or more terrariums of chosen size and shape (not too big, the embroidery rings are not super strong).

-air plants

– ribbon

– crushed stones

– fishing Wire

– embroidery ring (comes with two parts but only need one. The second one my daughter uses as  “hula hoop”). I used one which was 38 inches round.

– acrylic Paint and paint brush

– drill or hot glue gun

– hook to screw into the ceiling

The how to:

(I’m a bit daft when it comes to following other people’s DIY directions so I tend to err on the side of writing too much information when writing my own. Apologies to those whose minds function on a higher level than my own 🙂

Step 1: Separate embroidery rings and paint the ring without the metal claspy thing on it (yes, very technical language).

Step 2: Use a measuring tape to measure the ring then use a pen to mark out evenly spaced locations on the ring for where you will drill (for example, mine was 38 inches so I marked three spots approximately 12 3/4 inches apart).

Step 3: Drill the holes using a 1/8 inch drill bit. Go slow and make sure to drill in the middle part of the hoop, not too close to the edge. If you don’t have a drill you can just tie the ribbon around the hoop. To avoid having the ribbon move around the hoop, use a bit of glue to stick it in place.


Step 4: Tie 3 different lengths of ribbon into the holes.

Step 5: Clip your 3 clips equal distances apart on the ring.

Step 6: Tie your fishing line to the clip (see picture below for an example of where to tie it to). I happen to have these clips around but if you don’t like the look you can tie the fishing line through the same hole you drilled for the ribbon.


Step 7: Tie the fishing line together making sure that each line is the same length in order to keep the mobile level. It’s best to have the hook already screwed into the ceiling so that you can immediately hang it before all the lines get tangled (or your cat starts eating them).

Step 8: Fill terrarium with desired amount of stone granules and place plant inside. (you can put in whatever you want really: shells, coloured sand, dried flowers…)

Step 8: Hang the terrariums using the ribbon. Hanging the mobile before you affix the terrariums helps to prevent the strings from getting tangled up and the terrariums from bashing into one another during the process of hanging

Step 9: Lay back and enjoy.


Need to change those wall colours even though they're fairly new...the problem with decorating in stages.

I know I just fancied up my wall decal for the white wall but how beautiful would some fanciful wallpaper be behind the birds…

If the directions aren’t clear enough for you feel free to send me an e-mail at [email protected]

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Beckoning Spring: Super Simple 3D Wall Decor

As I have mentioned before, I am on a quest to add more colour to my home. I was recently inspired during my class on background coverings by the idea of 3D wall art.

not the best picture but you get the idea: it's a tree, it's 3D.

not the best picture but you get the idea: it’s a tree, it’s 3D.

I don’t want a tree plastered on my wall but it gave me an idea to add dimension and colour to the cherry blossom tree decal on the wall in my kid’s play area. Here is a before picture:

Before: kids playroom/craft area

Before: kids playroom/craft area

I have since used some extra cloud white paint to paint these two walls. I also shifted the kitchen to another wall and bought this clean lined chest of drawers from Ikea to add both toy storage and storage for my craft and sewing supplies.

I had started considering buying a fancy, more colourful wall decal for this area but to save money I decided to work with what I had. I bought a $8 stem of fake red flowers from the craft store and by plucking the flowers and attaching them to the existing decal I was able to add dimension and a pop of my accent colour.


Not that they are really comparable to real flowers but I still think I will be a bit less bummed when my flowers die.


After. My next colour pop will be painting the wood of the kid's table, just haven't decided on a colour yet.

After. My next colour pop will be painting the wood of the kid’s table, just haven’t decided on a colour yet.

Eating crayons. Because that's what he does.

Eating crayons. Because that’s what he does.


This project was as simple as sewing two flowers together with embroidery floss and using double sided mounting strips to attach them to the wall. If you don’t happen to have a needle or thread, a hot glue gun will do just as well.

I’m not such a fan of faux flowers that I would use them outside of an area meant for children, but as this is the play area…I’m loving it!

Note:another fun baby room project with faux flowers are baby mobiles. See below the one I made for my daughter’s first nursery.


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Trial and Error with FAT Paint

I decided the worn surface of the desk was part of the charm and I love how the orange tone of the wood goes with the antique wedgewood FAT paint.

I decided the worn surface of the desk was part of the charm and I love how the orange tone of the wood goes with the antique wedgewood FAT paint.

What a relief, after being high on paint fumes for the last few weeks, to open a can of FAT paint. This paint is low VOC and emits very little odour. It has excellent coverage and a half pint was more than enough for two coats of paint on my secretaire. And the smell of the wax! Oh my goodness, I just wanted to rub it all over my body (though apparently I can just buy beeswax lotion).

Those attributes being stated, there is a good reason why FAT Paint offers classes. This was my first foray into the world of chalk paint and it was a bit rocky. I have a fat resume of DIY behind me so I figured I could wing it. Not so! Tail between my legs I arrived at FAT paint with one of my drawers for a little lesson in proper sanding and wax application.

And so, as someone who did it wrong, but eventually got it right, lend me your ear while I explain the proper way of going about this process.

Materials: FAT paint, FAT wax, paint brush, fine and medium grit sanding sponge, extra fine finishing pad, a rag made from t-shirt material, patience.

Step 1: Sign up for a workshop if you can!

Step 2: Pick a small portion of your piece to work on. For example, a small drawer, and finish it top to bottom. Go through all the following steps and then do the rest of the piece. It takes patience (which I didn’t have and paid for) but it is better to figure out exactly what you are doing, some trial and error, on a small piece, instead of going over your whole piece multiple times like I did.

Step 3: Read the directions on the paint can! You might not have to spend hours sanding (like I stupidly did). Again, try it out on a small piece but you likely just need to give it a light sand with a medium or fine grit sanding sponge, even if it is quite glossy like mine was.

Step 4: Use a damp cloth to wipe any excess dust off the piece then let dry completely.

Step 5: Use a paint brush (not a foam one) to apply an even coat of FAT paint. Use long, even strokes then let dry.

Step 6: Depending on the finish you want, add one or two more coats of paint, allowing it to dry in between coats. If you want a more shabby chic finish apply two coats. If you don’t want much paint to rub off when you sand later apply a third coat (maybe even a fourth, it’s okay, the paint goes a long way).

Step 7: Lightly sand in circular motions with a fine to medium grit sanding pad. If you are wanting to diminish the appearance of brush strokes you will likely need to use a medium grit first and sand in the opposite direction of your brush strokes (ie. if you painted left to right, sand up and down).

The sanding sponge pictured below works well for getting around the curves of the furniture. If you are aiming for a shabby chic look focus on sanding down the edges of the piece a bit more and other places where a piece of furniture would wear naturally over time.

A good example of distressed edges (not my piece- I didn't take a picture of my edges because I barely distressed it)

A good example of distressed edges (not my piece- I didn’t take a picture of my edges because I barely distressed them)

I found these extra fine finishing pads helpful to rub over the surface after the sand paper is used to even out the finish.

Extra fine finishing wool and sanding sponge

Extra fine finishing wool and sanding sponge bought at Rona

Step 8: Once paint is dry, use a damp cloth to remove dust and allow to dry before proceeding.

Step 9: It’s time to wax. You can buy clothes at the hardware store made out of t-shirt-like material or just grab an old shirt and rip off a piece. Apply a small amount of wax to the cloth (I tried to take a picture of about how much I used for half of a large drawer). It’s hard to tell from a picture so experiment a bit. It is better to apply too little than too much. If you apply too much it can be difficult to get an even finish. If you apply too little, you can always add more. Gently rub wax onto surface with circular motions.

(please note that with some wax products like Annie Sloane, you may find instructions online which say to gob on the wax then wipe off the excess- this does not apply to FAT wax, a little goes a long way.)

Example of amount of wax needed for half of the large drawer.

Example of amount of wax needed for half of the large drawer.

Step 10: Make sure to remove or rub in any extra wax that may get suck in decorative woodwork or intricate surfaces as it looks kind of gross and it is more difficult to remove later.

Step 11: Wait 12 hours then use your rag to buff your piece. Rub cloth in circles to bring out the shine. You can buff earlier but according to FAT paint creators, 12 hours after application is the best time for ultimate shine (by the way I love to rhyme).

Step 12: If you want your piece to be shinier, apply another coat of wax, wait 12 hours, and buff some more.

Step 13: Now that you have figured out what works, finish the rest of your piece and enjoy!

Plan B: So it didn’t turn out exactly how you wanted. That’s why you did it on a small surface first! It’s easy to give the wax a light sand, put on another layer of paint, then sort out what way of sanding or waxing works best for you. Try, try again!

Plan C: Take the workshop! It’s an art form and if you have never done any kind of re-finishing before it will be worth it.

My newly refinished vintage secretaire.

My newly refinished vintage secretaire.

Ace product! I’ll definitely use this again next time I am looking to give a piece of furniture a shabby-chic facelift. FYI, I re-finished this piece because I need something with more storage for my kid’s play area. It’s for sale on craigslist: http://vancouver.en.craigslist.ca/bnc/fuo/4097466799.html

Hope this how-to was helpful and if you have any other tips for using FAT paint I’d love to have you leave a comment!


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Mirror, Mirror on my Wall

After moving into our new home in April, despite having a two month old and a rambunctious two year old, I went project wild. I unpacked within a couple of days and started sewing up a storm: a headboard for the master bedroom, roman shades for the little guy’s windows, a table runner for Sofia’s bookshelf, shower curtains for the bathrooms etc. And then I crashed. Like started going to bed at eight in the evening crashed. Like couldn’t DIY to save my life crashed.

A few months later…I am finally getting my DIY mojo back. Now it’s just a matter of channeling that energy into one project, one space, at a time.

I have several projects sitting in the wings at the moment but I have decided to focus in on my dining area. First step, amp up the pretty (see Copy Cat: My Wall of China). My second step was to shed a little light on the area and bring in some bling. Fancy art and intricate mirrors are not in the budget so I’ve fallen back on an old time favorite for DIY projects: beveled mirror tiles.

With nine foot high ceilings throughout our townhouse’s main floor I decided we needed something big and beautiful on our dining room wall. I love how mirrors increase visual space and I knew that a large mirror in this area would brighten things up by reflecting light from the window opposite.



Step 3: Buy a new dining set, this one is falling apart, literally. Ah tax return, how I look forward to you in the new year.

What you need for this project is 12 inch beveled mirrors (available in six packs at Lowes), a flat mount hanger (also at Lowes), 1/4 inch mdf, construction adhesive and caulking gun, black spray paint, a couple extra small pieces of 1/4 inch mdf, a drill, and a glass of wine.

Why a glass of wine? Because with beveled mirror tiles plans never go perfectly so you just need to take a deep breath (or gulp) and work with what you have. Part of DIY being therapeutic is to roll with the punches and accept imperfection.

Step 1: Get mdf cut to one inch less in length and width than your desired size of end product (for me, 3 feet 11 inches by 2 feet 11 inches). Having the mirror be larger than the mdf makes it so that you don’t end up seeing the mdf at the corners when it is hanging.

Step 2: Use a long narrow piece of 1/4 mdf and glue it with construction adhesive to the back of the large piece of mdf, flush with the top edge. A 1/2 inch board of mdf for the whole mirror would be too visible and heavy once it is mounted, so I added that second layer at the top to provide enough grab for the screws used with the mounting hardware.  Also glue two small random pieces near the bottom of the board so it will hang straight.

2013-08-27 19.38.24

This shows the two pieces of mdf that I put at the bottom to keep the board flat when hanging

This shows the two pieces of mdf that I put at the bottom to keep the board flat when hanging

Step 3: Place mounting hardware flush at the top of the piece of mdf on top of the added piece and use a marker to mark where the screw holes are.

Step 4: Pre-drill holes to prevent mdf from splitting then screw hardware into place (it’s fine if you drill all the way through the mdf, you won’t see it when the mirror is finished).

Step 5: Screw mounting hardware into pre-drilled holes.


Step 6: Line up the first row of mirrors flush with the top edge of the mdf. Draw a grid to show approximately where your mirrors will be placed.

Step 7: Use black paint, spray or other, to paint the lines you have drawn. This is to make the space between the mirrors, that despite your best efforts you cannot eliminate, less obvious.


Step 8: Have a glass of wine and let the paint dry

Step 9: Apply a moderate amount of construction adhesive to each square at the top edge of the board. For this row set up the mirror tiles so they are flush with the top of the board. This will give you a straight line for the rest of your tiles. Have the first and last tile in the row hang a half inch over the side of the board.

The construction adhesive takes a while to dry so you have lots of time to get the tiles where you want them to be.

The construction adhesive takes a while to dry so you have lots of time to get the tiles where you want them to be.

Step 10: Allow the construction adhesive time to do its thing. It is best to do the next rows once the previous row is solidly in place so you don’t mess up your straight line. You can also use books or other heavy-ish objects to keep the sides and corners of the mirrors flat against the mdf while the adhesive sets.

Step 11: Continue with the second row in the same manner, lining up as best as possible. It will not be perfect and there will be gaps, but with the black paint in between the mirrors the gaps are not obvious once hung. Continue with each row once the previous has adhered.

Step 12: Attach the other half of the flush mount hanger to the wall then hang the mirror up and you’re done!


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DIY Upcycled Headboards

From a thrifty standpoint as well as an eco-friendly one, I am a big fan of re-purposing building materials and pieces of furniture. Not only is it often cheaper and better for the environment, these pieces also tend to add interest and texture to a room. After making my old headboard from a coffee table that we sawed the legs off of, (see Shebajoux Headboards) I became interested in what other things could be turned into one of a kind headboards. Here are some that I found:

Vintage door with upholstered panels. This is a similar look to the coffee headboard I made.

Vintage door with upholstered panels. This is a similar look to the coffee headboard I made.

Headboard made from old curtain and vintage picture frame

Headboard made from an old curtain and vintage picture frame

Headboard made from old shutters

Headboard made from old shutters

Headboard made from vintage fireplace mantel. Paint it if you want a more refined look.

Headboard made from vintage fireplace mantel. Paint it if you want a more refined look.

Headboard made of books! This would be perfect for my brother!

Headboard made of books! This would be perfect for my brother!

Headboard made from old wrought iron and sprayed red

Headboard made from old wrought iron and sprayed red

Headboard made from old oars.

Headboard made from old oars.

Headboard made of old doors.

Headboard made of old doors.

Headboard made form vintage windows

Headboard made from vintage windows

Headboard made from a collection of vintage frames.

Headboard made from a collection of vintage frames and shutters

Headboard made from old skis

Headboard made from old skis

Headboard made from molding and scrap wallpaper.

Headboard made from molding and scrap wallpaper.

Fancy a go? Here are some sources for materials in the Greater Vancouver Area:

Front Street Emporium: 617 Front Street, New Westminster, BC for all sorts of materials like vintage windows and doors.

Surrey New and Used Building Materials Inc. for iron gates, antique doors and windows.

Vancouver Timber services for reclaimed wood.

Demolition sites, Craig’s List, garage sales and even the side of the road are all good options too.

615 Front St., New Westminster, BC, Canada


Filed under DIY Projects, It's easy being green

No-Sew DIY Flag Pennant

My sister is a talented seamstress who made a beautiful, gorgeously sewn pennant for her first son’s bedroom. When I commented on wanting to make one for my son’s newly decorated bedroom she gave me some sage advice: “don’t sew it all!” What I realized after making one is that you don’t really need to sew at all.

Pennant with ball fringe

My son’s new pennant. More on his room to come in the future. I’m still finishing up some details.

Below are instructions for how to make a lovely, and very easy pennant for you child’s room. Disclaimer: I did sew the flags onto the ball fringe since I have a sewing machine, but you needn’t. Unless you are planning to let your child swing from it, it should be strong enough with hot glue or zot dots.

No-Sew DIY Pennant

Supplies list: fabric, pinking shears, ball fringe or ribbon, hot glue gun or zot dots, pins, cardstock, tacks

1.) Pick fabrics that go with your colour scheme (see “Colour Schemes 101: I can sing a rainbow“). You need about 1/4 yard of fabric to get enough width for your flags. If you want to use lots of different fabrics you can go on fabric.com and order samples for $1.75 each. The sample size is just right for individual flags.

2.) Cut out a template for the flags. Cardstock works well for a template as it is thicker and firmer than regular paper. The shape you choose depends on your preference. Some people make wider, shorter flags and some people make longer, skinnier ones.  Cut out a few templates and decide what you prefer.

3.) On a firm surface pin your template to the fabric. Use pinking shears to cut out the fabric; the zig-zag edge will help the fabric to not fray.

4.) Cut ribbon or ball fringe to desired length. Measure twice, cut once.

5.) Place ribbon on the table with the right side down  (the side you want to see) . Pin the right side of the fabric (the one with the pattern on it) to the wrong side (the back side, the side you don’t want to see) of the ribbon. Take care that the fabric does not come up over the top edge of the ribbon. Pin the triangles on like this at equal distances. I think about two inches between flags looks nice but it is personal preference.

6.) If you do not want to sew, an alternative is to use a hot glue gun to attach the flags to the ribbon. If the ribbon is quite thin, or you decide to use ball fringe, zot dots will work better. Use the zot dots liberally for the best adhesion.

7.) Voila! You are done. Attach it to desired wall using tacks.

pennant with ball fringe


If DIY isn’t your thing but you like the look, there are plenty of stores on etsy where you can buy pennants for fairly reasonable prices.

Please let me know if you are unclear on any of the instructions and I will do my best to help you.

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Getting to know you

You don’t normally open a conversation with, “hello, my name is Heather and I have a mental illness.” But that is how I have decided to start my first blog post. Its a part of who I am and my “fabric therapy” started as a result.

I grew up thinking I was crazy. Not just depressed and anxious, but downright looney. I mean who watches a show with a disturbing scene then not only can’t shake the images, but is so afraid that they might lose control and commit similar unmentionable deeds that they consider suicide on a regular basis? Me, from the time I was a young teenager.

Okay, at this point you may be thinking, yah, you are crazy. But to those like me out there: YOU ARE NOT! Just experiencing classic symptoms of purely obsessional obsessive compulsive disorder. These intrusive thoughts are no reflection of your true self, and are in fact completely opposed to your actual disposition, which is why they are so distressing.

However, it took me twenty-three years to realize this. I didn’t realize I wasn’t insane until I became so anxious about these thoughts that I feared I really would take my own life in order to “save others from myself”. I ended up taking a leave from my stressful and time-consuming job as a pediatric nurse in order to seek medical help and counseling. Medications and therapy were incredible helpful, even life-saving, but I also found surprising calm in an unlikely activity, refinishing an old chest of drawers. Unlikely, because I’m the kind of girl who got her wood shop teacher to do most of her projects for her, and therapeutic due to the simplistic and methodical action of sanding…and then sanding again when I got the stain wrong. Sanding was a time to calm my mind and become absorbed in less turbulent thoughts. I didn’t know anything about decorating at the time and I had rarely done DIY projects, but this experience taught me that I could find a calm place in my mind within the realm of DIY, and later in decorating. After all, it’s more productive to obsess over sanding and finishing than over intrusive thoughts. As I explore the world of decor and design  I continue to find a “happy place” in my mind.

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Filed under From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family