The UpSkill Project Community Workshop

Three weekends ago, I had the privilege of attending and documenting The UpSkill Project Community Workshop which was held at the Warren, Michigan Lowe’s on a stormy Saturday. It was my 30th birthday weekend and I could think of no better way to celebrate than to be doing what I love…DIYing of course!

IMG_7574

The workshop was set up to be a hands on learning experience for homeowners wishing to pick up basic home improvement skills and I can’t express enough what an amazing opportunity this was. I love that Lowe’s is inspiring and educating homeowners through this platform! I learned so much from the Lowe’s experts that day and I’m so excited to share some of that with you in this post. Shall we dive right in?

IMG_7569

Drywall

Drywall dings and dents are a common household issue with a very simple solution. Lowe’s has this nifty drywall repair kit that comes complete with spackling, a putty knife, and a sander. All you need to do is gently spread the spackle over the hole until it’s covered. This particular spackle is made to go on pink and turn white when it’s dry so you know when it’s time to sand. For larger holes, you will need to place the self-adhesive mesh patch over the hole before covering with the spackle. Once you’ve sanded the surface until it’s smooth, you can go ahead and paint over the patch up. It’s that easy!

IMG_7581
Painting

Painting is something we’ve done quite a bit of for our home renovation projects but it wasn’t until this workshop that I realized I was doing it all wrong. Prior to this workshop, I would paint the wall with a roller first and then use a brush to finish the corners and edges. I learned from Ray that it should be the other way around: paint your corners and edges first then go over with the roller. Oops. I definitely see this method resulting in a much more professional-looking paint job. It looks like I might have to revisit some of my old paint jobs!

IMG_7567

The other important thing I learned is that the quality of the brush really matters! Ray, who is a passionate paint manufacturer, said he would actually advise sacrificing the quality of paint over the quality of the brush. He went on to show us the difference between the two brush’s bristles and let participants see for themselves as they got to paint a kitchen cabinet.

IMG_7566

Let me tell you, the Purdy brush we got to test out was amazing! All those times I was frustrated with my paint job and I thought it was just me. Now I know it was the cheap brush I was using and I can’t wait to implement these simple tips for my next paint job!

IMG_7565


Tiling

Tiling is another skill we are familiar with as we have renovated our basement, kitchen, and bathroom in the past. Of course, that doesn’t mean we did everything perfectly so I’m sharing some of the useful reminders I learned. One of the cool resources Lowe’s had on display was this cross-section of the wall and tile. Many of the participants didn’t know that you couldn’t just tile over existing tile so Andrew, one of The UpSkill Project teachers, explained what subflooring was and the importance of the cement board under the tile. I learned about something called self-leveling concrete which you can pour to create a smooth, even surface for tiling. I wish I had known about this when we were tiling our basement!

IMG_7557

Participants were able to practice laying tile spacers, backsplash tile, tile adhesive, and grout. 

IMG_7572

The Lowe’s experts recommended a pre-mixed grout for an even finish and stressed the importance of wiping the tiles consistently with a grouting sponge to prevent a hazy film from forming. The pre-mixed grout is something I wish I had used in our bathroom because of the variability in grout color that can result from small changes in water content.

IMG_7561

Plumbing

Plumbing was probably one of the more intimidating skills for participants, me included. I’ve always let my husband handle that part of our renovation projects. After this, however, I think I’m pretty confident I can swap out a vanity and sink. You’ll just have to remember to disconnect the water supply lines prior to starting and to keep a bucket under the sink during the P-trap removal. If you don’t, let’s just say you’ll find yourself in a very messy situation.

IMG_7584
Aside from learning these four skills, Lowe’s had a table set up with lots of useful pamphlets covering everything from tool buying guides to DIY laminate floor installation. You better believe I walked out of that workshop with a stack of pamphlets. I also really enjoyed meeting the other UpSkillers and watching them bond over sharing their DIY projects with each other.

IMG_7575
To be honest, I had been in a creative slump up to this point but after this workshop I was so inspired to find a new DIY project to tackle! What about you guys? If you’re getting ready to take on a new home project, we would love to hear about it in the comments below. If you have specific questions about any of the skills I discussed, you can also leave them in the comments below and we will point you in the right direction. You can always go into your neighborhood Lowe’s and ask a Red Vest associate for help as well. As always, if you loved this post and found it helpful, we would appreciate it if you would like it and share it.

signature3

 

This post is sponsored by Lowes. The thoughts and opinions are my own.


How to Build a Paved Patio with The Upskill Project

Back in May, I wrote about The UpSkill Project Contest where homeowners could submit a short video describing a DIY project they needed help with. Five local residents would receive $2000 in Lowe’s credit to purchase supplies along with a team of experts to help get the project done in just two days!

UpSkill_Horzntl_endorsed_k

This summer, I got to partner with Lowe’s to document one of the resident’s project transformations. And not just any project…a paved brick patio! You all know how much we love gardening and the outdoors so being able to learn how to do build a patio from the ground up and share it with you was a dream come true.

Meet Hattie and her mother, Dr. Tyra.

IMG_7383

Hattie was actually called to help her aunt record her UpSkill Project Contest entry when her aunt convinced her to submit one herself at the last minute. Knowing that her mother had been wanting a patio for the last two years, but would never justify spending on herself when she could help others, Hattie felt her mother deserved a space to entertain and have friends and family over. You can imagine just how excited her mother was when she found out she was finally going to get that patio. Dr. Tyra LOVES cooking and entertaining; so much so that she cooked the team a dream breakfast on the second morning of the project.

IMG_7500

We all love a good before and after, so here’s what the space looked like prior to the start of any work. Nothing fancy, just an empty patch of grass.

IMG_7336

Leading the team through the patio building was Andrew who is a carpenter by trade and has his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture. How cool is that?! The Red Vests Eric, John, and Zach were from a local Lowe’s in the Gardening and Outdoor Department. Everyone worked so well together and by the end of the project I felt like I was in the company of friends.

IMG_7547

IMG_7520

Of course it wasn’t all fun and games so today I’m sharing some of the important things I learned about building a paved patio:

You can’t just wing it!

The first and most important step when it comes to building a patio is design and planning. Settling on a design (how large the area should be, what shape, what kind of pavers, etc.) will dictate how much materials you’ll need which in turn will determine your cost. The materials are quite heavy so you’ll want to have everything calculated in advance to prevent any running back and forth to the store picking up heavy materials.

IMG_7343
Touch things once.

This very valuable advice was given to me by one of the Red Vests, Eric, when he saw that the materials were delivered to the front of the garage instead of to the backyard. To save yourself time and energy, have your patio materials close to your work site so you’re not having to haul things more than you need to. This also includes clean up. It’s important to have your tools for removal and your method of disposal arranged prior to starting your project so the process runs smoothly and you don’t have to move debris twice.

IMG_7413

If you see rain in the forecast, abort the mission.

Or simply wait until the weather clears up. A wet ground can really interfere with the compacting process which is super important for a level and solid patio. The rain on the first day of this  project threw us a serious curveball and delayed the completion of the patio. There is a silver lining to the rain, however, if you’re not in a hurry to finish your project. A wet ground makes it much easier to pull out the grass so if it’s raining you can still begin the sod removal phase of your project. Just be sure to let the ground dry sufficiently before moving on.

IMG_7338
Assemble a team.

There’s nothing overly technical about building a paved patio but you should know that it is very labor intensive. From stripping the sod to pouring and compacting gravel to laying the pavers, each step requires quite a bit of upper body strength. If you want to build a patio in the shortest amount of time without burning out quickly, you’ll definitely want a team of 3-5 members to help spread out the workload.

IMG_7408

IMG_7445

Compact, Compact, Compact.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to begin with a sturdy and level foundation. To achieve this, you will need to compact several times at each of the following stages:

  1. After you’ve dug out the grass for your patio
  2. After you’ve poured Paver Base Step 1
  3. After you’ve poured Paver Base Step 2

IMG_7426

Start by building a retaining wall

The first pavers you’ll want to lay are the outside ones along the perimeter. More importantly, you’ll want to secure the wall with glue and recess framing to prevent the bricks from extending outward as you continue to compact the gravel and sand. The retaining wall is two brick pavers high and must take into account sloping to prevent water from collecting in your patio. Once the wall is built, you can begin setting the pavers down working toward the middle of the patio area from one end to the other. 

IMG_7454

Don’t forget the landscape fabric.

This is pretty self explanatory. If you don’t want weeds bursting through your patio then this is a crucial step that you’ll want to do once the earth is level just before you begin to pour paver base step 1.

IMG_7505

Once you begin to install the pavers, it’s pretty much smooth sailing from there. All you have to do is make sure to tap the pavers with a rubber mallet and periodically check to make sure they are all level. You also want to leave a space about 1/4 of an inch wide between the pavers for the polymeric sand to be poured. Once you’ve filled all the cracks with polymeric sand, you’ll mist the patio to harden the sand and join the pavers together. Once it’s dry, you can finally furnish and enjoy your patio!

IMG_7542

Now that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?! If you’re thinking of doing a paved patio yourself, here are the materials and tools you’ll need to get the job done.

IMG_7551

Materials

Paver Base Step 1
Paver Sand Step 2
Paver Set
Brick Paver

Tools

Tamper
Box Beam Level
Knee Pads
Steel Pick Mattock
Kobalt Long Handle Shovel
Smooth Rubber Mallet
Landscape Fabric
Kobalt Tabletop Saw

IMG_7871

IMG_7878
If you want to see behind the scene footage from the project Do Days, you can check out our Instagram story in the highlights entitled “DIY Patio.” If you loved reading about how to build a patio then you’ll definitely want to check back for our upcoming post on the UpSkill Workshop where I’ll share lots of helpful home DIY skills that I learned. And if you found this post helpful, we’d appreciate it if you would like it and share.

signature3

This post is sponsored by Lowes. The thoughts and opinions are my own.

 


How We Flipped and Sold a Home in Less than Two Months

We never planned on flipping a home, it kind of just happened. The short story is that we helped a family member buy a home that they ended up realizing was not right for them. We know, that can be quite a costly mistake. Luckily, the home was in excellent condition and the housing market was doing great so we sat down with our realtor who suggested we fix 5 simple things to get the home sold as soon as possible. And it worked! It really worked! Within a month, we had the home listed and shortly after had secured a buyer. So today we are sharing the simple things we did to get the ball rolling and how much it cost us. It’s probably important we note that we are not realtors or contractors, just a couple of avid DIYers with a tad bit of crazy in us 🙂

Here are the pictures of the home from the original listing prior to us doing anything:

215063318_2_0
215063318_3_0
215063318_5_0
215063318_9_0
215063318_11_0

These are the five things that were recommended we change:

  1. Remove carpet and wallpaper
  2. Add a fresh coat of paint
  3. Finish hardwood floors
  4. Landscaping
  5. Professional cleaning

We also went a little above and beyond by adding a few items for styling purposes. These included a kitchen towel and plant in the kitchen, a welcome mat outside the front door, and a towel, soap dispenser, and some decorative items in the bathroom.

We didn’t do much DIYing here because of time constraints with our school so instead we hired people to take care of most of the labor. Below is a breakdown of each job and the cost associated with it:

  • City Inspection: $300 – The city inspection consists of all matters related to city code and regulation. They come in and make sure everything is up to standard and request that you update what is not so you can get a COO (Certificate of Occupancy) which you need if you are selling the house.
  • Painter: $1800 – We requested a handful of quotes and went with the mid-range contractor that had between 5-10 years of experience. Most of the cost was for removing the old wallpaper from the entire main floor. The patching up and painting wasn’t as bad as we initially thought.
  • Flooring Company: $ 1700 – This cost was a deal compared to the other quotes we got. The flooring contractor removed the old carpet and refinished the hardwood floors in approximately a week’s time. Be aware that the cost could be higher if you have flooring problems or need wooden trim and/or shoehorn installed.
  • Electrician: $250 – We needed an electrician to remove and replace all the 3-prong outlets to 2-prong because they were not grounded. Another minor thing he did was make sure that all of our wiring was up to code in the garage and outside the house.
  • Professional Cleaning: $150 – To sell the house and truly bring out the beauty of the space we hired a local cleaning company to polish up the home just before it hit the market for showings.
  • TLC: $100 – After we got all of the above done we decided to caulk to make sure corners, windows and all doors were sealed and correctly adjusted to their frames.
  • Landscaping and Decor: $150 –  You can’t go wrong with mulch, flowers and lava stones to make the landscape pop. We also purchased a nice outdoor welcome mat and indoor mat for potential buyers to feel a sense of home.

TOTAL: $4,450

We really wish we had the time to do these updates ourselves, but it would have been too overwhelming and would have taken us much longer. If we did do some of the things ourselves such as the painting and cleaning then we would have saved quite a bit of money, although we did recoup the costs with the sale of the home. The important thing to note is that it doesn’t take much to get a home move-in ready even if there’s a kitchen or bathroom that could use some updating.  If you have a similar project you’re diving into or are considering becoming a house flipper, now you know what it takes to get a home with good bones flipped and sold in no time at all. Now for the part you’ve all been waiting for…….the reveal:

FrontDoor

Kitchen2

BTHRM

Living Room

Bedroom1A2

Landscaping

Have you ever flipped a home or considered flipping a home? Let us know in the comments below. We can’t wait to share our next exciting project with you so if you don’t want to miss out be sure to follow us here and on instagram for the latest and greatest. signature3


Our DIY Home Journey + The Upskill Project

This probably should have been the first post on our blog but I figured it’s never too late to share our rather interesting DIY home backstory. You see, the idea of renovating our home ourselves never even crossed our mind. I mean don’t get me wrong, we are pretty handy and creative (heck, we DIYed our wedding) but we just assumed that home repairs were way out of our league. So like every clueless new homeowner, we called contractors to help us with the very basics and then some. Things went pretty smoothly until one day the contractor working on our basement announced that he had a family emergency overseas that he needed to attend to. I think he saw the panic in our eyes because he calmly responded, “Look, I first learned this trade by watching others in a very short amount of time. You don’t have to be a genius to do this line of work, anyone can do this.” He then spent the next few days before his departure demonstrating and explaining how to put up studs, mud drywall, and lay tile. He even left us with his tools! Those simple words of encouragement and instruction were enough to spark something within us. Although, it took us some time to finish our basement, the internal transformation happened immediately.

That’s how we got a taste for home DIYing. Every year since, we have tackled a major home project and we even started this blog as a way to share our home journey because we are passionate about DIYing and home life. When we experienced the joy of confidently working together on our home, we wanted to share that with YOU because we truly believe that ANYONE can do these things. We are living proof. Just take a look at the pictures of our home from our first showing compared to what it is today. Doesn’t it make your DIY senses tingle?

That’s why we are super excited to share that we are partnering with Lowe’s for The Upskill Project contest running in Detroit from May 7th-21st. So if you have a home project that you’ve been wanting to undertake but are reluctant because of the costs or because your skills leave much to be desired, then this contest is for you! Lowe’s is offering up to five lucky people the chance to win a $2,000 Lowe’s gift card for their project along with expert help to guide and teach the skills needed to complete your project. We know from experience just how crucial a little bit of guidance is and that is why this movement resonates with us so much. It’s all about empowering homeowners and giving them the skills, confidence, and inspiration they need to tackle any home project.

UpSkill_Horzntl_endorsed_k

To enter, all you need to do is submit a video answering the following questions:

  1. What is your project?
  2. What skills do you need to complete your project?
  3. What would having those skills mean to you?

Simple enough, right?! We’ll be there to help and document one winner’s project progress along the way.  And if you’re not a lucky winner, you’ll still have the opportunity to learn the skills you need at a free workshop hosted at a local Lowe’s on August 25th. This workshop is an invaluable opportunity to learn important homeowner skills such as painting, tiling, plumbing, and general tool use. Did I mention we will also be there too? So mark your calendars and get ready for a date with your new DIY BFFs.

IMG_6067If you’re not in the Detroit area and want to enter the contest, don’t fret because The UpSkill Project is coming to a number of cities across the country throughout the year. You can click here and scroll down for a full list.

All right, what are you waiting for?! Want to enter this contest? Start brainstorming and share this contest with your friends! We want to see what cool projects you have envisioned for your home! Maybe you want to build a rain garden? Or renovate your peach 1950’s bathroom? Whatever it is, may the odds be ever in your favor.

signature3

Disclaimer: NO PURCH NECESSARY.  Homeowners and renters (with property owner’s permission) in eligible ZIPs only.  Rules/Entry details here: http://bit.ly/2Gvud8k. Ends 5/21/18. 

This post is sponsored by Lowes. The thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 


Our DIY Ramadan: Ramadan Banner & Tablescape Inspiration

Hello lovely readers! If you are coming here from Mint Candy Designs, hello and welcome to our blog. It’s always wonderful to have new faces around here 🙂 With Ramadan just around the corner, we are excited to share with you some simple ways to decorate your home and make the spirit of Ramadan manifest in your heart and home. Last year, we shared different ways to add festive and colorful touches to the dining table, where you gather to break bread after a long day of fasting. This year, we teamed up with some talented home bloggers to bring you creative DIYs that you can do to welcome this beautiful month into your home.

“There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.”-Rumi

IMG_3035
The feature of this post is a minimalist Ramadan banner and backdrop that I created near the front entrance of our home. I think it’s a beautiful welcoming statement for family and iftar guests and it makes the perfect backdrop for any family photos. It’s also super easy to make!

IMG_3238 wwm

For the Ramadan banner, here’s what you’ll need:
galvanized letters
natural cord
scissors
measuring tape

You can actually use any type of materials for the letters. I chose galvanized tin because they were on clearance at Jo-Anns and I wanted something more sustainable and long-lasting. I was tempted to spray paint the letters gold but in the end decided I liked the rustic, industrial look. To make the sign, all you need to do is arrange your letters spelling RAMADAN MUBARAK. Measure equal spaces between each letter (I did 5 inches) and secure each letter to the cord with a double knot. When you’re finished, create a loop at each end of the cord so you can hang the banner easily on a hook.

IMG_3105

To complete the backdrop simply cut out stars from glittered card stock and stick them to the wall using washi tape. You can also tie ribbon or yarn to cover up the command hooks and add a touch of green with any stems of your choice (eucalyptus, myrtle, grevillea, huckleberry).

IMG_3160

I also spruced up the dining area by hanging up garland and faux greenery. On our open shelving I created a simple display with a lantern and a gold foil Ramadan Mubarak print.

IMG_3054

I hung up our Ramadan advent calendar from Handmade Beginnings  where I’ll put something fun for the kiddos throughout the month. For the table I pulled out the turquoise glasses and purple linens I purchased from IKEA on clearance last year. Unfortunately they no longer offer those specific products (or if they do the colors are different) so I’ll link what alternatives they have below. For the napkins, my source link takes you to a conscious minimalist cotton napkin from H&M.

IMG_3033

 The only new things I purchased for this look were the gold placemats, the craft paper for the table-runner, and the glitter card stock to make the stars for the embellishments. I got the idea for the craft paper table runner from a Pinterest tablescape for Thanksgiving. I think it’s a nice screen-free way to keep children occupied with coloring and you can even write down your own reflections throughout the month. For an extra pop of color, never underestimate the power of fresh flowers. If you’re blessed with a beautiful flower garden then make it a family tradition and go flower picking right before iftar. If not, a local market or a Trader Joe’s would be a good option for gorgeous and reasonably-priced florals.

 

 

 

Sources:

Gold Placemat $1.99 | Craft Roll  $4.79 |Glitter Cardstock  $1.99| Ramadan Print $5.00 | Kitchen Towel $8.00 | Cotton Napkins $3.99 | Turquoise Glass $0.99 | Lantern $3.99

You can also find my sources of inspiration for these looks here on our Pinterest boards:

What did you think of the final result? Would you make this Ramadan banner? If you’re looking for more Ramadan decor inspiration then you’ll definitely want to head on over to my friend at Nimistyle and see her DIY Doily Table Runner and Gratitude Wall. Also don’t forget to check out the rest of the lovely DIYs in the Blog Hop linked below!

IMG_3677

Nimi Style | Amna B Interiors | Simply in Control | Mint Candy Designs | Zair Zabr Play

Last but not least, my friend Amanda and I put together our first Ramadan Ebook. It’s an idea that we’ve been sitting on for a while but this year we took a leap and tried to make it a reality. It’s nothing fancy but it’s a helpful resource filled with meal ideas and recipe links, decor tips, a checklist to help get you organized and even a few simple, mindful challenges for you to try. The best part is it’s available for free download right here:

Ramadan Ready Ebook

Amanda's Plate & The Cozy Home Chronicles

As always if you loved this post, please follow us and share. And for those who celebrate,  Ramadan Mubarak!

signature3

 

 

 


DIY Anthropologie-Inspired Fringe Wall Art

Earlier last month, I shared a DIY upcycling project that I created for a four week creative challenge that I participated in back in January. In this post, I’ll be showing you how to make my decor for week two’s challenge “On the Wall.” First let me start by saying that while I love my own creative process, one thing I really enjoy is the challenge of recreating products that already exist for much cheaper. Seriously, if you’ve ever wanted something that was way out of your price range but thought maybe you could make it at home then I’m your person! Like, if there was a career path or job title for Expert Home Decor Replicator, I’d be the first in line but until such a day here I am making copycat Anthropologie wall art for my own home and blog.

39685805_004_b1

Image via Anthropologie

Do you want to take a guess how much these Solar System Wall Art pieces are going for? Do you even want to know? Try $78-$198. Yep, you read that correctly. How about making one for less than $20? If that’s a yes and you want to know just how, keep on reading for the full scoop. Here’s what you’ll need:

Materials
Gold Floral Hoops or Macrame Rings
Natural cord
Wooden or stone beads
Premier Jazz Yarn

 

 

Note: For this specific design, I used 2 floral hoops: a 6in and an 8in. I also used the jazzy yarn in the color “mushroom.” You can use any color or even a variety of colors to create a custom piece for your space. 

Directions

  1. Hold the two gold rings parallel so they’re touching (small ring inside the large) and tie them together using the natural cord. Wind the cord around the rings until the rings are secure and then double knot the cord leaving at least 7 inches for the beads and loop. For extra security, you can add a dab of hot glue to the knot.
  2. String the wood beads on the cord, secure with a knot, and create a small loop for hanging.
  3. Cut out 6-10 strands of the premier jazz yarn, keeping in mind that you want each strand to be twice as long as the final fringe since you’ll be folding it over. I wanted a staggered look so I cut out different sizes ranging from 20-35 inches (actually between 10-17inches).
  4. On the bottom end of the larger ring, secure the yarn by folding the strands in half and pulling the strands of the yarn over the ring and through the loop (see images below).
  5. Pull to tighten and trim the strands to your liking. Now hang and enjoy the view 🙂

 

 

anthropologiewallart

This was such a simple DIY wall decor and it really added a nice touch to our eclectic space. Would you make something like this for your home? Let us know in the comments below and as always, if you found this inspiring we would love it if you shared.

IMG_9856

signature3


DIY Upcycled Tea Tin Planter

 

February is coming to an end and we are a tad bit in disbelief. I know, this seems like a reoccurring theme over here but during this busy season of our life it’s difficult to fully grasp how quickly the time is flying. We did take some time off for a family vacation (there’s a post in the works) in January and it was just what we needed to reset for this new year but when we came back we dove head first into our semesters and it took some time to get back on our feet. We are now back in the groove of things and excited to share what we have been working on. Last month I was lucky to be a part of Salvage Dior’s January Creative Team on Instagram where each week I, along with my four teammates, were responsible for creating something new for our homes that fit within the following themes: 1) Upcycle, 2) On the Wall, 3) Child’s Play, 4) Coffee Table Decor. In this post I’ll be sharing the project I completed for the first week, an upcycled tea tin turned planter.

IMG_8994

Loose leaf tea is something we drink quite a bit of in our home and I’m always left wondering what to do with the tins once they’re through. In the past I’ve used them as storage for spices and knick knacks but this time I wanted something a bit more creative. At the time we were also revamping our plant corner so I thought it would be nice to make some new planters for the Pothos and Sedum I was growing hydroponically. I was inspired by the recent trend in natural fiber textiles and wanted to create that woven look to contrast with the industrial shelving we chose for the plant’s display. If I wanted to buy what I was looking for, I could have easily spent anywhere from $6-25 a pot depending on the size. Instead, I was able to make this tea tin planter and some tin can planters for $0 because I had everything already on hand. The only thing that you would probably need to buy if you’re not DIY nerds like us is the bundling twine but that itself is very inexpensive ($3.98 for 525 feet). Alright, let’s make a planter!

 

 

If you are an avid DIYer, you most likely have a glue gun in your arsenal of crafting tools.

eb_loose_2

DIY Upcycled Tea Tin Planter

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Materials
Tea tins or tin cans, washed and dried
Bundling twine
Hot glue-sticks
Milk Paint (optional)

Tools
Glue Gun
Scissors
Drill (or a hammer and nail)

Directions

  1. Heat your glue gun and in the meantime use your drill to place drainage holes in the bottom of your tin. You can also use a hammer and a nail to do this or you can skip this step and just make sure to include a layer of small rocks beneath your soil for water drainage.
  2.  Glue the end of the bundling twine to the side of your tin at the very bottom and begin wrapping the twine around, making sure to glue the first 3 coils to the tin and to each other. As you wrap the twine, be sure to push the coils down tightly to close any gaps and give your planter a neat, elegant look.
  3. Continue wrapping the twine around, stopping midway to glue the coils down. Wind the twine around the tin until you reach the top and then cut the twine to length.
  4. Uncoil the twine a couple turns, then rewind it tightly against the tin using hot glue to secure the top two coils to the tin and to the adjoining coils.
  5. Take your scissors and trim off any noticeable twine hairs sticking out (see the time-lapse video below). At this point you can paint the planter and let it dry or go straight to planting and styling it!

IMG_8984

IMG_8998

If you liked this post and found it inspiring, we would love if you shared it. For more related content, you can find us on Instagram where we share more of our day-to-day and Pinterest where we share our ideas and inspiration. If you have any thoughts or suggestions about this DIY project, feel free to leave a comment below. And as always…

signature3


DIY Upcycled Brown Paper Bag Gift Wrap

It’s finally the holiday weekend and that means we are inching ever closer to the start of 2018. We recently hit our 2 year blogging anniversary earlier this month and we thought it would be nice to celebrate with a short reflection and a makeover of the first post that ever went up on this blog. Why? Because sometimes, in the nitty gritty of blogging we can find ourselves questioning it all and in our tunnel vision of self-pity and negativity, we forget how far we have come. Comparison isn’t so bad when you’re looking at yourself and everyone loves a good before and after so here is ours.

IMG_8421

IMG_7538

As you can see clearly, our styling and photography has drastically improved in the last two years. Our first post was written in 2015 just a week before Christmas and right before I was about to dive into a week of hell taking my PhD qualifying examinations (a 7 day, 40+ page writing endeavor). Since that first post, we have connected with some wonderful bloggers, participated in two One Room Challenges, built a small but amazing community, and even wrote our first sponsored blog post.  There have been many times this year when we would feel frustrated with our engagement or turn-around time and even question what kind of blog we were aiming to be but looking back to our first post, I think the answer has always been there. DIYing is obviously something we are very passionate about as well as striving to live as simply and sustainably as possible and that’s exactly the commitment that our first post embodies. In this post, we will be sharing our revamped post with a little twist; using stencils to create beautiful gift wrap designs. For those of you who waited until last minute to wrap your gifts, you’ll want to hold off on that last minute Target run because this is such a simple way to add a personal touch to your gift wrapping and for next to no cost at all (depending on what your craft supply stash looks like). The wonderful thing about this gift-wrap is that it’s not just for Christmas; you can customize it to fit any holiday or occasion year round.

IMG_7551

Supplies
Brown paper bag
Scissors
Stencils
Metallic Paint Marker, paint pens, or sharpies
Twine
Embellishments such as eucalyptus, flowers, pine cones, etc..

IMG_7527

Directions

  1. Flatten your brown paper bag and cut down to the size you need.
  2. With a metallic paint pen, stencil in the blank side of the bag using the pattern of your choosing.
  3. Place your thoughtful gift inside and wrap nicely.
  4. Embellish with rustic twine, eucalyptus, pine cones, or holly.

IMG_7536

As you can see, I was going for a minimalist/bohemian look (surprise, surprise) with the copper and white pattern, twine, and eucalyptus accent. It’s almost too pretty to open!

IMG_7546

So what does 2018 hold for us? It’s been really hard to answer this question because life is pretty busy with two kids and graduate school on our plates. We do know that we love what we do and we love sharing it with you. We hope that we can continue growing; growing ourselves, our skills, and our blog and hopefully inspiring you all along the way. We can say for certain that we will definitely be sharing more DIY projects, simple family recipes, our simple living journey, and parenting adventures but whether we can keep up with our 50 blog posts/year productivity will remain to be seen. If there are topics you would like to see more of here on The Cozy Home Chronicles, please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below. And for those of you new bloggers, those considering starting blogs, or even veteran bloggers wondering “what’s the point?”, keep on dreaming and working towards those dreams with your eyes on the journey and not solely on the destination.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”-Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist

signature3

 

 


Organizing for Your Lifestyle: Strategies for Developing Sustainable Organizing Solutions

Let’s be real. Maintaining a clean house most days is a challenge in itself. Now add two young children and school and we are looking at nearly impossible. But we manage somehow. Believe it or not, the hardest part is not having to pick up after our little ones but rather picking up in a timely manner. In order to do that, one needs to be…dun..dun..dun.. yep, you guessed it. ORGANIZED! Since both my husband and I are in school this semester, we figured it was high time we got our house sustainably organized once and for all. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to get a little bit of help.

IMG_5906

In her book Organizing for your Lifestyle, Jane Stoller offers inspiration and practical advice for tackling any organization project from the smallest closet to the biggest room. The first chapter is a general overview of organization philosophy covering the very basics including the health and cost benefits of organizing as well as organization approaches such as minimalism. After that expect to dive straight in. My favorite part of the book is the way in which it is organized; each chapter serves as a guide to a different space. As someone who suffers from indecisivism (is that a thing?) I can tell you that knowing where to start is the most stressful part so following a list definitely helped eliminate that stress. Here’s how the book is split up:

  1. Closet
  2. Bathroom
  3. Kitchen
  4. Travel
  5. Books
  6. Storage Room

Suddenly, a good pre-New Year’s purging doesn’t sound too bad now does it?! Today I’m sharing five of my favorite practical tips from the book and how I’m applying them as we tackle our organizational woes.

1. Have a date with your closet every year. Jane recommends evaluating and reorganizing your closet twice annually as “this will help you to stay fully in control of what you have, and knowledgeable about what you need, while ensuring that no excess clothing outstays its welcome.” We recently tackled the kid’s closet and ended up donating a TON of stuff they had outgrown that was taking up valuable space. After seeing how much space this opened up, I added reminders to my calendar to do this on a quarterly basis.

IMG_5909

2. Think in terms of frequency of use. Mentally sorting out your belongings into daily use/weekly use/sparse use really puts things into perspective and allows you to tailor your organization system to your practical needs so that you have what you need when you need it. This has been really helpful in our bathroom as I have tried to make sure that we have easy access to the things we use every day like toothpaste and shampoo whereas medications that are used infrequently are tucked away out of sight.

3. “Organize so your mother (or father) can cook in your kitchen.” This one really stood out to me because the kitchen is the heart of our home. If you don’t have easy access to basic tools and ingredients while cooking then you’re wasting valuable time during meal prep. Imagining someone else using your kitchen is a great exercise for thinking about the efficiency of your space. I used the opportunity to remove some unwanted gadgets, dinnerware, and Tupperware out of circulation to make room for things that I actually use and need.

IMG_5743

4. Find a balance between function and aesthetics. What works for one person or family doesn’t work for everyone and that’s okay. It’s up to you to find a solution that is both functional and visually appealing for your needs (sometimes function will trump aesthetics and that’s also okay). This issue came up for me while I sifted through my scarf collection. Although I can see how the variety of colors and patterns hanging together on a wall can be visually unappealing, this strategy has proven to be the most practical for my lifestyle because it offers easy open access to all my scarves.

IMG_5969

5. Make organizing a lifestyle. This is by far the most important advice because it requires you to think in the long term. With this philosophy, organizing is no longer about buying storage containers or fancy systems but rather about asking yourself, “how can I stay organized?” The answer, I think, will lie in a happy medium between a designated system, daily practices, monthly maintenance, and a quarterly assessment of successes and failures. To help us along through this process, I’ve created a diagram to envision what this would look like.

Organizing Chart

We are by no means completely organized because we haven’t had the time to tackle all of these spaces in one sitting but we have been thinking through these tips as we slowly organize our home corner by corner. These strategies have certainly helped me be more intentional about finding sustainable organization solutions and I look forward to sharing more as we work on making our home better organized. If you want more organizing inspiration as well as tips and tricks on the specifics of storage, folding, and labeling, you can find Jane’s book here.

If you enjoyed this read, please share and follow!

Instagram

signature3


One Room Challenge: Week 7 |Simple Office Makeover Reveal

Today is the big day friends! Although we weren’t able to keep up with the weekly progress posts for our One Room Challenge, we still managed to finish the room on time (hooray!). If you’re just tuning in here for the very first time and don’t know what The One Room Challenge™ is, it’s a widely anticipated biannual event every April and October, hosted by Lisa of Calling It Home, in which twenty design bloggers take the challenge of transforming a space in just six weeks. Every Wednesday, the designers document their process while sharing their sources and professional advice. On Thursdays, guest bloggers, like us, can play along and support other guest bloggers that are also tackling a room renovation. As you may already know, we were working on an office makeover for my brother and sister-in-law because although we love DIYing, we couldn’t handle the stress of doing our own home renovation while both of us are in school.

ORC GPDon’t worry I’m not going to chit chat too much. The whole point of this post is to see a satisfying transformation and we will get to that in just a minute. Of course we also want this post to be inspirational and informative so following the before and afters we will give an overview of the changes this project entailed, the cost, and our sources. If you don’t even remember how this project began you can refer to weeks one, two, and three for a quick reminder.

BEFORE: A DARK & SAD ROOM

IMG_5608

IMG_5607

AFTER: WORK SPACE GOALS

IMG_7365

IMG_7355

 

IMG_7361

IMG_7377

IMG_7121

So how did we get from A to Z? Never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint. In our opinion it is the cheapest, easiest, and most impactful way to transform a space. My sister-in-law wanted a bright and modern space so we went with Behr in Ultra White for a fresh clean look. Another impactful thing we did was to take down the vintage lace curtains and replace them with brand new blinds that I purchased from IKEA for $2 each (yes you read that correctly). Let’s just say it pays to lurk in the last chance section!

IMG_7371

Replacing the fan light with a modern ceiling light from IKEA for $30 also dramatically changed the look of the office. The black fixture really complemented the gray desks and the hardwood floors and brought in much needed light. Of course one of the most expensive purchases was the Algot system which we added for shelf space above the desks. While we did toy around with the idea of building custom shelving, we decided in the end that spending a little more on a system that could be adjustable to changing needs would be the smartest choice. For $85, it was well worth the investment and provided the perfect amount of space for organizing books, supplies, and for styling decor. The best part about this transformation was that nothing was difficult to do; painting, installing shelving, replacing the light fixture, all of these required no super special tools or skill sets (which means you could do it too!). 

IMG_7385

We could not be happier with how this room turned out. Considering our crazy schedules and all the stress in our lives, I think we did a pretty good job of bringing  our simple vision to life. We wanted a fresh, inspiring space with bohemian elements (patterned rug, copper accents, plants) and I think we definitely pulled that off. While we are very happy with the final look of the room, there are still some areas of improvement that we will probably return to. One of them is wire control. We definitely want to find a way to conceal and minimize the tangling of the printer, desk lamp, and laptop cords. We also want to add a little more color and character to the rest of the walls. I think this is something that will naturally come as my brother and sister-in-law live in the space and identify what speaks to their style. In that sense, I don’t mind the empty walls as much because I think of it as their decor journey has only just begun. I also thought it would be nice to have a fun little reading corner complete with fancy shmancy floor pillows but it looks like that will have to wait.

 

Sources

 

 

Ceiling Light $29.99 | Office Chair  $84.99 |Shelving  $85| Rug $69.99| Desk Lamp $12.99 Magazine Rack $14.99 |Vase $2.99 | Plants $2.99| Hanging Storage $4.36| Frames $.99

As you can see, many of the items we purchased are both accessible and reasonably priced for the average home DIYer. We took advantage of many deals to save big including using a 10% off coupon from Wayfair and thrifting to keep our makeover well under $500. The rug was my sister’s belated birthday gift to my brother for the renovation so all we really had to purchase was the shelving, chairs, lighting and accessories. This came out to about $350. For the decorating I was a little savvier as I relied on some thrifty finds like a set of 4 wall baskets for $1.99 and free printable wall art (tropical palm leaf and keep pushing on).

IMG_7199

 

All in all, it’s been another successful One Room Challenge and we can’t wait for the next one 🙂

Any questions? Thoughts? We would love to hear from you in the comments below. Don’t forget to check out everyone else’s final reveal posts and as always, if you liked this post please follow us and share!

Instagram

signature3