Top 5: Upcycled Home Decor

If you couldn’t tell from my DIY Bucket List, I happen to love making lists. In the spirit of one of my favourite movies/books of all time, I’m going to start an ongoing series of posts with my “Top 5” whatever. Today, it’s Upcycled Home Decor! All of these feature something that was almost garbage, but with a bit of creativity and some elbow grease, turned into something awesome. No matter how “green” your outlook or how fat your wallet is, I think everyone can appreciate how ingenious some of these are!

So without further ado…

Top 5: Upcycled Home Decor

5) Crates >>> coffee table. All you need is a board to attach them to for the base, and something to put in the hole in the middle. I like how this one doubles as a plant holder, and the storage space it lends makes it super functional for small rooms.



Or you could place the crates vertically for more height. I love the pop of colour and grey wash of this one, too.

sincerely yours truly crate coffee table

(SincerelyYoursTruly on Etsy)

4) Drawers >>> under-bed storage. How cute are these repurposed old drawers from HoneybearLane? I can’t handle it. Way cuter than the plastic ones we picked up from CT. I’ve seen countless cheap dressers at Value Village that this would work on… just paint, attach casters, and put new drawer pulls on!

HBL rolling drawer storage

(Honeybear Lane)

3) Pallets >>> reading nook. What, you didn’t think I’d make a list like this without mentioning pallets, did you? I love pallets! One of my friends actually forwarded this example of a reading nook for little ones when I made my pallet trunk and I would love to try it one day… maybe when I finally feel ready for babies (I just checked… nope, not yet).pallet daybed

 (Under the Sycamore)

and my number one favourite example of upcycled home decor…..


Are you ready?

1) Wood door >>> headboard. Ohh, I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. I even found the perfect door the last time I went to Almonte but sadly we do not have the room right now. Take an old door, add a bit of crown molding, paint it or leave it rough and weathered and voila! This works well either with a vintage, chippy finish like this

hometalk headboard


…or with a more smooth, modern finish like this.

grand design co headboard(Grand Design Co.)

Also, how cute are those ruffled pillows with the sweet floral pattern? And the shade of grey-blue? And the stretched canvas print above the bed? I want the whole bedroom!

Ok, your turn. I know there’s tons more cool upcycled stuff out there, what’s on your list? Bonus points if you can name the movie I was inspired by!



Flea Market Frame Chalkboard

Chalkboards have been a huge décor trend for a while, and ever since I first saw one hanging on the wall at my cousin’s house I have wanted my own. They’re great for writing a little love note, lyrics from your favourite song, or inspirational words when you need them! Mine also did double duty as our wedding reception program sign.


I decided to also make mine magnetic so that I had a place to display photos and cards, and an excuse to use my repurposed skeleton key magnets.

Here is how you can make your very own magnetic chalkboard. Sorry for the poor photo quality, I took most of these photos about a year ago with my iPhone so they are not the greatest… hopefully you get the general idea!

Flea Market Frame Chalkboard

1) Find an old frame that you like the shape of and remove the picture and backing. Old mirrors from antique vanities where the mirror is broken would work well too, or you could luck out like me and find a frame where the picture is already missing. If the frame is damaged or the corners aren’t square, you will want to reinforce it before proceeding.


2) Measure the inside dimensions of the frame. There should be an edge that will hold the chalkboard in place, so make sure you measure from the outside of the edges (otherwise your chalkboard will just fall right through the frame, and nobody wants that).

3) If you want your chalkboard to be magnetic like mine, you have two options: use fiber board and paint it with magnetic paint, or order a piece of sheet metal to size from a metal shop. As you can see from the pictures, I tried the magnetic paint on fiber board option first, but I found that it gave the board a gritty, rougher texture because of all the little bits of iron ore suspended in the paint. It also wasn’t all that magnetic, so I ended up redoing it later with sheet metal, which gave it a smoother surface and a stronger magnetic pull. If you are going to be hanging heavier items like thick paper with your magnets, you will probably want to go with the sheet metal.

If you are using the sheet metal, clean it really well with rubbing alcohol to get any shop grease off. Once it’s clean and the alcohol has evaporated, prime it with a couple of coats of metal primer spray paint.


5) Once the magnetic paint/primer is dry, you’re ready for your first layer of chalkboard paint. I have heard that you can make your own chalkboard paint using tile grout and your paint of choice, but I just used ready-made chalkboard paint that I bought at Home Depot. I would love to hear from anyone who has made their own, though! I used a foam roller so that the paint would go on really smoothly and followed the directions on the chalkboard paint for the number of coats and drying time. I used 2-3 coats of chalkboard paint on mine. After my last coat, I left it for a few days before moving on to the next step.


6) To attach the chalkboard to the frame, apply silicone adhesive along the edges of the chalkboard and drop it on to the back of the frame. The metal should be heavy enough that you don’t need to use clamps while the silcone dries, it should stay in place as long as you don’t bump it. But if you’re using the lighter fiber board, you may want to clamp the board to the frame edge until the silicone is dry, or put a heavy object on the fiberboard to weigh it down. Follow the directions on the silicone for drying time. If possible, lean the edges of the frame on a workbench or stool so that you can look at the chalkboard surface from underneath, and wipe away any excess silicone that leaks through onto the front. Once it dries you can also try to scrape it off with a sharp knife blade but you might also take off some of the paint, so be careful!

7) If your frame didn’t come with mounting hardware, use a picture hanging kit to attach screw eyes/wire for mounting.

8) Choose your favourite quote and use your best lettering skills… or you can fake it like I did by following these steps (don’t worry, I won’t tell if you won’t tell).


(yes there is a picture of the chalkboard on the chalkboard. If only there had been a photo of us on that chalkboard too)

I love my chalkboard… I made it over a year ago and I’m still in love with it. It hangs in our bedroom on the wall that faces our bed, so these words are the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night. I love that I have the option of sticking up a nice photo or sweet card from my husband with our magnets too.

Anyone else have a mad obsession with chalkboards? We’ve made a few for friends and someone else just asked me to make another. I’m tempted to use adhesive chalkboard paper which I recently discovered exists, I would love to hear if anyone has tried it.

Coming Soon… Dresser Facelift

I have decided that instead of being bummed about the longest, coldest winter ever and about delaying our house hunt yet again, I am going to take my mother’s advice and focus on the positive!

One project that I have coming down the pipes is fixing up my old dresser. I inherited it from my sister back when I was a broke graduate student, and at the time I did the bare minimum requirement of replacing the broken/missing drawer pulls. But now that my tastes have matured (or so I like to think), it’s time for a full-on makeover!

2014-02-23 21.14.03

As you can see, it’s kind of an organgey pine and some of the drawers are a bit crooked… and it’s damaged in places. Are you starting to wonder why I’m bothering at all? Me too. I do like the lines though and it’s a good size. Since my nightstand turned out so well, I decided to try Chalk Paint to spruce it up… but I can’t decide on the colour or finish!  At first I thought I would use Pure White and distress with tinted clear wax, like Katrina at Malenka Originals did with this beautiful piece:

Malenka Dresser Pure White

But when I saw how good my cream coloured metal chair looked in my bedroom, I started to lean towards painting it with Old White (a creamier shade), and doing a bit of subtle distressing with dark wax. Sort of like this one, except without the gorgeous stained top since mine isn’t solid wood (also from Malenka Originals):

Malenka Dresser Old White

Decisions, decisions!

I’m also going to update the hardware (again). When I first got the dresser, I pretty much went with the cheapest option that I could stomach. If I’m going to go to the trouble of painting it, I don’t want to scrimp on the knobs and then wish I’d splurged, since I have to look at it every day! Here are the ones I liked from Home Depot:

pull 3pull 2pull 1

knob 3knob 2knob 1

I want a less modern look than what is on there now, but at the same time I don’t want it to be too vintage-y, if that makes sense. As you can see, the top drawers will take 8 knobs in all and I don’t want it to be overwhelming. I’ve looked on Etsy and I will check out a few flea markets to see if I can get some salvaged ones, but I doubt I will be able to find 8 of a kind. I might paint the hardware as well, which will help me circumvent the problem of the knobs I like best having a brass finish (ick).

So what should I do? I’m totally torn!


Pallet Wood Storage Box

In my wedding décor post, I mentioned that my husband and I had made a card/gift box out of old pallets. Now that its wedding duties are over, it works as a plant shelf, storage box, and cat fur collector!

pallet box 1_watermarked

There are some really cool things you can do with pallets. Just do a Google image search for “reclaimed pallet wood” and you’ll get tons of ideas. Another pallet project that I have in the (very early) planning stages is making a coffee table with one of my friends, kinda like this one

KSwoodcrafters coffee table

(from KSwoodcrafters on Etsy)

or this one

DIY reclaimed wood coffee table

(from house updated).

To make our storage box, we more or less followed this Instructable tutorial with a few modifications. The tutorial doesn’t include measurements, so you can decide how large you want to make it. I can’t remember the exact dimensions that we used… I think we decided on the size by lining up the boards and seeing what worked so that we could minimize the number of cuts we had to make.

Here is how you can make your own:

1) Find yourself some pallets! Check your local hardware/home improvement store or any transportation hub, like a trainyard. They are usually free to a good home. Now that I know where to look, I see pallets all. the. time. And I’m always talking myself out of picking more up, like a crazy cat lady who can’t stop adopting stray cats. Except with scrap wood.

2) Disassemble the pallets using a crow bar, and discard any broken boards. For a box around this size, you probably want 2-3 pallets depending on how many boards you have to discard.

pallet box 2_watermarked

3) Remove any nails/staples from the boards. Make sure you wear work gloves and be careful,  they are probably old and rusty!

pallet box 3_watermarked

4) Choose the straightest, sturdiest pieces for your frame. Measure and mark your cuts with a pencil.

pallet box 4_watermarked

5) Cut your frame pieces to size. After we did this, we also ripped the frame pieces in half lengthwise so they would be narrower than the rest of the boards.

pallet box 5_watermarked

6) Now you’re ready to assemble your frame! Make sure that everything at this step is straight and squared off, otherwise you might find that the boards are not straight when you assemble the sides of the box. Our frame does not look square, but the floors were actually just uneven. You will need 2 pieces like this, one for the top and one for the bottom.

pallet box 6_watermarked

7) Choose pieces for the sides of the box. Play around with the layout, since the boards will have slightly different colours/weathering. Measure and mark with a pencil, then cut to size.

pallet box 7_watermarked

8) Attach the corner boards of the box to the frame first.

pallet box 8_watermarked

9) Attach the rest of the boards to fill in the gaps. You may have to trim one or two boards to get them to fit.

pallet box 9_watermarked

10) Attach the corner trim from the inside. We also used narrower pieces for this step.

pallet box 10_watermarked

11) Cut triangles from some of the scrap pieces for the feet of the base, and attach to the bottom edges of the boards.

pallet box 11_watermarked

12) Drop in the base and attach to the feet. We used a scrap piece of pine board we had lying around for the base, but you could also make the base the same way the top is made below (then you wouldn’t need the triangle feet).

pallet box 12_watermarked

13) All you need now is a lid! Lay out pieces lengthwise and then use perpendicular boards on either side to screw them together (from the underside).

pallet box 13_watermarked

14) Attach trim pieces to finish off the top edges of the box. Use hinges to attach the lid to the back of the box. Before attaching the trim, you could also line the box with some fabric, which I’m thinking of doing eventually so that we can put throw blankets and such inside without worrying about snagging. My husband also attached some leather strapping so the lid could be held open.

pallet box 14_watermarked

pallet box 15_watermarked

15) Once your lid is attached, you can have some fun with different styles of handles and clasps. We just went with el cheapo nickel finish ones from Canadian Tire but you can play around with some different ones to get the look you want (the Instructables tutorial above did some neat stuff with adding a rusty finish to the hardware).

pallet box 16_watermarked

So there you have it! And to think that wood was just going in the garbage. I’d love to hear if anyone else has tried something similar… Have you ever repurposed something that was going to meet its maker? If you’re my husband, that time you rescued an oscilloscope from the dumpster and gave it a new power supply doesn’t count.