Medicine Cabinet Makeover

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Ahhh…. medicine cabinets. If you’re really organized, yours will not look like mine did. In fact, it’ll probably look like the opposite of mine. I feel like, with anything medical-related, we buy on a whim (I have a cold- need to go get some cold medicine or cough drops!) without taking inventory first. Then, we have duplicates, and things are probably expired, and everything is just thrown into the cabinet.

One of our two shelves… not good!

This past summer, I was determined to find a way to organize the medicines. And find, I did! I found the most PERFECT three tier shelving system. I believe these are made for spices, but the dimensions fit our smaller cabinet just perfectly, and the system would work great for medicines, too. I got two 15″ racks for $9.99 each.

And they worked great!! Now, I’m able to see everything that is in the medicine cabinet. I put adult stuff on one level and kid’s stuff on the other. I still have a little room in the front and on the sides to put things like thermometers or bandaids.

I highly recommend these shelves if you need to organize smaller items that you need to see!

DIY Custom End table

Stephen recently had a repeat customer reach out about building a specific-sized end table for her mom’s house. She said that the way the room is, there’s one narrow area for an end table to go, but it’s been very hard to find one that fits.

So, Stephen worked his magic and came up with a plan! He used two 2×8’s on the top, so the width was only around 15″. He built the frame, added a bottom shelf, and added the top. I stained and painted the table, and… here it is!

The daughter told us that her mom loved it! It’s so easy to build items to fit your space.

#3: Front Porch Twin-Sized Bed Swing!

My new favorite project!!!! Our friend contacted us about making her a wooden porch bed swing. She had seen them all over Facebook Marketplace but wanted us to do it. Stephen actually bought plans online to show him how to make a really sturdy frame from plankandpillow.com.

He used a variety of 2x4s, 2x3s, 1x3s, 1x4s and 1x8s to build the frame. To hold it together really well, he always used wood glue and then 16-guage nails to hold the wood together securely. (16-guage nails are thicker nails, so this required him getting a larger nail gun from what he had).

Once the frame was built, Stephen filled in the nail holes with wood filler and let it dry overnight. He sanded the entire bed three times, going from a lower grit to a higher grit each time.

Next- staining time! For this project, our friend wanted a more natural wood look. We went with Minwax Ipswich Pine 221. It took 3 coats to get a very light tan color. Once the stain dried, I did a coat of Minwax Polyurethane in matte.

Stephen installed four black eye-screws (diameter was big enough to hold 3/4 inch rope), This is where the rope would attach to the bed swing. He purchased the 3/4 inch jute rope, which ran less than 50 cents a foot. He purchased 54 feet for this one bed swing.

That was it on our end!! Our friend purchased the twin mattress, an outdoor mattress cover, pillows, and hung the swing using eye-screws in the ceiling. She sent us this picture of the completed project, and I am in love. Reeeeeaaaallllyyy wishing our front porch was that big! 😉

Update: Here is another customer’s swing!

New Landscaping

Just for fun, and for future comparison, I wanted to share some new landscaping we had done in our backyard!

We have a retention pond in our backyard, which isn’t the best thing to have… but on the plus side, they fenced it in nicely and they typically keep it nice and mowed/trimmed. Plus, I like to tell people we live on water-front property. 😉

New houses have been built on the other side of the pond, so we decided to plant some Green Giant trees along that side of our yard, for future privacy. We opted for the 5 foot trees versus the 10 foot ones (mainly because they were more than half the price!), so they look really small now… but they should grow a good bit in the next few years!

Here are some before and afters:

The other place we planted trees and bushes was near the shed. The shed is visible from the street, and we told our HOA that we would plant trees/shrubbery around it to block it from the road as much as possible. We also tied in the trees to give us some privacy from our neighbors directly next door. Nothing against them… but privacy is always nice to have!

So, it’ll take a little while for any of this landscaping to actually be effective, but it will be fun to compare what it looks like in a year from now!

DIY No-Screw Lantern

You may remember that I built a lantern out of scrap wood a few months ago. With our large stack of scrap wood, I decided to build another one! This time, I wanted it taller, and I also didn’t follow any specific plans. I went by what I remembered and what made sense!

I cut four pieces of 1×3 to heights of 36″ each. I cut 1×6 wood into two rectangles, 5″ x 6″.

I didn’t use any screws for this- it was all built with wood glue! I started off by gluing the four posts onto one of the rectangles- one post sat on each corner.

Since these posts were much taller than my last one, they wanted to lean. I cut some small pieces of lightweight scrap wood to the 5″ side length and glued them to two posts at a time, to try to keep them straight.

I repeated this on the other side, but then the sides wanted to lean away from each other. Sigh! This was not going according to plan!

So, I cut two more thin pieces to the 6″ length and put across the tops, trying to keep the sides straight.

Woohoo! This seemed to work! But now… it looks kind of weird. What to do?

I decided to flip it! I made the bottom the top, and I added the other rectangular bottom underneath what would’ve been the top. I also added two more lightweight pieces of scrap wood to the sides to look more uniform.

Whew! Crisis avoided. I actually like it this way! I cut a 3″ x 4″ piece of wood and glued it to the top.

I drilled a hole in the top and put a decorative drawer pull in the top. Then, I painted!

Ta-da! A (relatively) easy and cheap project that adds great farmhouse decor to my living room!

#5: Turning a Covered Patio into a Screened-In Porch

The first “big”, “official”, “serious”, “what are we thinking??” project Stephen decided to tackle was changing his mother-in-law’s covered patio into a screened-in porch. Luckily, the groundwork had been laid… the concrete was already there, as was the roof and the columns. This made the job so much more do-able by a DIY newbie!

These pics show what the porch looked like before she purchased the house. It has a great foundation to add the screens!
This is now with my mom living there, before Stephen really got going.

Stephen did a ton of research online… he printed off plans, did all the measurements, figured out all the items he would need, etc. This is a critical part of building anything- you have to be thoughtful and organized about it! This was his very general plan:

-Build a knee-wall up 30 inches from the ground and screen from there to the top.
-Frame out large window sections where screens will be installed.
-Add in a screen door in the middle of the wall that is opposite the house door.
-Insulate between the inside and outside knee-walls.
-Put bead board on the inside walls.
-Put siding on the outside of the walls.
-Paint. (**My mom tediously painted all of the pressure-treated wood ahead of time, which saved a lot of time after the porch was built)

Besides painting all the wood, the tedious to-dos at the beginning included taking off the gutter, tearing down some of the moulding on the columns and near the ceiling so the screens would insert nicely, and of course, the multiple trips to and from Home Depot with our trailer.

We brought in expertise help… a.k.a. our brilliantly handy neighbor… to help the first day. Stephen needed some muscles and brains to help build the first part, which was building entire frames for where the wall would be and where the screens would go. He did this for the side wall, which was a good place to start since there was no door. He then did this for the other side, leaving a spot for the door.

Once the entire porch was framed out, Stephen measured and cut out OSB board to put on the outside of where the walls would be.

NOTE: Something we learned along the way! My mom had originally bought window screens and Stephen built the frames to accommodate those- this was supposed to be a simpler way to build a screened-in porch. Window screens like these:

This is why there is a small solid wall on either end of the porch- this was excess space that wouldn’t accommodate a pre-built screen. The problem we realized after getting into it was… the concrete floor isn’t level. It’s made to tilt slightly down to push any water away from the house. Stephen had built the frames according to the very specific heights he originally measured, which actually slightly changes as you go down along the concrete. He didn’t realize that because of the variance in the frame, the screens wouldn’t work, as they couldn’t be altered for the change in slope. PANIC!!! All of the wood we had bought, plus the OSB, was already cut and installed!

Thank heavens for Google, right? Stephen figured out you can buy rolled-up screen kits that you can use spline and a roller tool to install it. This gave us the flexibility to have different heights of screen in each section! Whew! And the plus side is those side walls give the perfect amount of privacy from the very small section her neighbors would be able to see in, if they wanted to. We waited to do these screens until the very end.

The next step was adding in panel boards on the inside. These were huge sheets that Stephen cut out to fit each area precisely. It was like a puzzle… going around the porch and fitting in all these pieces until every part was covered!

Many of these panel boards were warped from being stored on top of wood. Luckily, you can push the warped areas in really hard and nail gun the heck out of it! It wasn’t perfect, but you really can’t notice it unless you know to look for it.
I took this pic from the inside… it looks like there’s glass in the frames, but I promise you we’re not that good! 😉

You can see that the cuts aren’t perfect… or maybe the floor isn’t perfect. Let’s go with the second one. 😉 Either way, know that caulk, wood putty and pieces of trim can absolutely be your heroes! You’ll see how we handled these cracks and unevenness later.

We’re getting there… next step is the outside siding! We opted for Hardiplank boards, which come in long pieces. They are very easy to install. You start at the bottom and nail it in where you want it. You need to decide ahead of time how much overlap you want, and keep it consistent. Stephen made a really cool tool that helped keep his measurements consistent… check back for more on that later. Installing Hardiplank is definitely a two person job!

Next, Stephen installed the door, and I helped him install the screens. It was tedious but not hard at all! And if you made a mistake, you could easily take the screen back out of the spline and start over. The hardest part was making sure you don’t slip out of the spline with the roller tool and accidentally cut the screen!

Once all the screens were in, we did the detailed fixings… fresh painting, adding trim, caulking. Can you see what a difference these things made to the panel boards from the picture before? You can’t see the cracks, uneven cuts, etc. I’m telling you- it helps to know you don’t have to start all over if something isn’t just perfect!

Are you ready for the grand finale?? Just to recap… here it was before:

And here it is now!

Isn’t this just an amazing transition?? I’m so proud of my hubby and actually being able to create this! Having a screened-in porch allows for so much more use- and I can guarantee you that my mom will be using it!

Painting my Kitchen Island Green!

Over the past couple of years, I have taken baby steps with painting my kitchen island. Originally, the island was the wall color of the rest of our house (when the house was first built). This was a very light (almost white!) gray.

Then, I decided to paint the island a medium gray color- SW Agreeable Gray. I loved that it gave the island a little more of a contrast as compared to the walls.

I eventually painted the white part, which is the side of the cabinet- I had to wait until our house warranty was up, just in case something needed to be fixed!

Then, when we added the board and batten to the kitchen nook (which we painted a different gray color), I did a quick coat with the same gray over the Agreeable gray (which was more like a greige)… but they were very similar in color.

Oh wait! I’m not done yet! 😉 THEN, we painted the walls in our house and did a flip-a-roo with the board and batten in the kitchen nook- what was gray was now white, and the walls above it were more gray.

So, our island was now a gray color that was no longer in the kitchen nook… it was fine, but I started thinking BIG and BOLD… I could do most any color!

Since I LOVE the green color I’ve been using lately (office wall, filing cabinet, tray), I googled “kitchen island painted green” to see what the images looked like. I wanted to find an image that was similar to my kitchen- most things are light gray and white, and what a green kitchen island would look like in a lighter kitchen.

I loved the way the pictures I found looked… so I went for it!

Here are some not-very-lined-up before and afters… but it’ll show you what a difference the green makes!

I think the part that makes the most dramatic effect is that I painted the white baseboards. The baseboards being white kept the island from feeling “complete”, if that makes sense. The green baseboards make it have like a custom-built feel. I haven’t gotten bold enough to tackle the white cabinets on the other side of the island… not sure I’ll ever have the nerve. But if I do, you’ll definitely find out! 😉

I love it!!! I know this green may not be all of your cups of tea, but what color would you try on a kitchen island?

#6: DIY L-Shaped Desk

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My hubby is the BEST! He just built me the most sturdy, beautiful desk, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Our old desk was a dark, mahogany-colored desk that we got from Office Depot years ago. It was a typical-sized desk, which was fine… but I am one that likes to have everything out and organized and seen. I was utilizing drawers, shelves, cubbies and more to store my stuff, but I wasn’t using most of it since it was tucked away. I was ready for something bigger!

Organized chaos?

The way our office is laid out is that there are two solid walls that meet. The third wall is a wall with french doors, and the fourth wall has a big window. I envisioned a big desk, and started looking at L-shaped desks online. I felt like an L-shape would work really well sitting in the corner of the two solid walls, and would take up part of each wall.

We found some great L-shape desk plans on Handmade Haven. This desk had the farmhouse “X”s on either end, which I love. The only thing we did differently was make both sides of the desk the same longer length of 75” (from corner to edge).

Stephen started off with making the “X” ends of the desk. This used 2x4s for the frame, and 2x2s for the “X”.

He then worked on the frame of the desk, using the “X” ends as support.

He used a gazillion pocket hole screws and lots of wood glue to keep this desk together! Also, note the single 2×3 that sits in the corner to hold up the desk. I was worried that it wouldn’t be enough support for the desk (especially because we added length to one side), so Stephen added some extra supports underneath the sides using 2x4s.

He added the 2x4s to form the top and used the pocket holes to keep them in place. We moved the desk outside so he could do the five (yes, five!) rounds of sanding. He started with lower-grit sandpaper (for deeper sanding) and moved up each round for less-intense sanding along the way.

Look how nice it looks! Ready to paint…

I painted the bottom part of the desk white, using my go-to Rustoleum Chalk Paint. It took two coats of the white to give it a solid look. I stained it with Minwax Mocha stain (two coats) and I used one coat of Polycrylic water-based semi-gloss polyurethane to protect it.

Once it dried overnight, we moved it in! Luckily, my brother was in town and we could utilize his muscles, because this thing was a beast. It was really solid, but it was also big and had to be turned vertically to fit through the door.

AHHHH! I love it!!!! Check back for more pictures when I get it set up, and also for an office update. (I’m still looking up ideas for what I want to do… decisions, decisions!).

#7: Cube Shelf Makeover!

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I love utilizing cube shelves in my house. I usually get them from Target for about $30-45 each. They’re an inexpensive way to organize really anything!

The only thing about them is that they are pretty basic looking. Normally, I have them in closets, so I don’t really care that much.

My son’s closet

We had a larger, 13-inch squared cube shelf with 9 cubes that we used in our garage to store shoes. I wanted to utilize it in my office, and replace the smaller (11”), darker cube shelf that was currently in my office with it.

Smaller, darker shelf…
Bigger white shelf that we used to hold shoes

I gave the white shelf a good cleaning- between my kids’ shoes, lots of dragged-in dirt, and birds that like to build nests near the shelf, this thing was pretty gross! Luckily, there’s not much that some Clorox wipes can’t help. 🙂

I measured the top (43 inches across) and cut some spare 2x4s into 45-inch lengths. I used two 8-foot 2x4s for this project. It took 4 of these 45″ pieces to cover the top (which is about 14” deep).

I used wood-glue to glue these four down onto the top of the shelf. I used random items to weigh the wood down so it would dry nice and sturdy.

I then stained the wood, using Minwax Provincial. It’s a great medium-dark brown color! I used a rag and rubbed the stain all over the wood, doing 2 coats. I had to spot-clean when I stained the thin sides of the boards, because some stain would get on the white shelves. Luckily… Clorox to the rescue again!

Once the stain dried, I put some matte polyurethane over the stain to help protect the top, since I’ll be putting things on the top of the shelf. The poly helps to protect the wood.

I ordered four pedestal feet from Amazon for $16 total. They didn’t have screws sticking out of them, which I did on purpose. I wanted a flat surface so I could gorilla-glue the feet onto the base.

It was super easy… I flipped the shelf upside down, put the gorilla-glue on the base of each foot, and stuck them into place. I let them sit like this for several hours, to make sure they completely dried. Those suckers were on there good!

We flipped the shelf back over, very carefully, as not to put any extra pressure on the feet. We set the shelf straight down onto the feet, and it sat perfectly!

I ordered some 13×13 black containers from Target to use on this shelf. I am loving the new look!

Check out the before and after:

I feel like these basic cubes are now transformed into something a bit “nicer” for an office!