Corner Fireplace Makeover

There was nothing redeeming about the house I bought when I was single, and still own today, save for the walk-in closets in the bedrooms (what shoe-loving girl wouldn’t love that)!

Once of the worst features was the fireplace. Don’t you just hate corner fireplaces? I don’t understand why builders install them. Here’s how our fireplace looked before we bought the house:

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One day when I was at work, hubs enlisted a friend to make it over. They started by busting out the hearth. Luckily the former owner had left a box of tiles for just such an occasion.

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As you can see from the picture above, the brick is just awful; the builder used the same rough brick that was on the exterior of the house.  To combat the lint trap, we refaced the brick with cement board to smooth it out.

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Since the brick was so uneven, shims and cement were used to fill the gaps and provide a level surface for the cement board. The board was set into the wet cement and then screwed into the brick with masonry screws to hold it securely.

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Hubs and his friend did a beautiful job of skim coating over the entire surface after the board was up but forgot about the tape. It’s not necessary to skim coat the whole surface, but don’t be tempted to skip the tape and mud because the seams will crack and ruin your final finish.  I only discovered that little known fact about the missing tape a few weeks later when my beautifully applied venetian plaster developed cracks! I had to tape over the seams and start the whole mudding and finishing process all over again. I guess that’s what happens when a women isn’t there to supervise 🙂

Moving right along, I tackled the disgusting firebox which was covered with years of soot. I started off with soap and water, but had to resort to a chemical cleaner. It was better after scrubbing but still showed the telltale signs of neglect.

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Right after that is when I applied the venetian plaster – the first time!

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After a few layers, letting it dry in between, I then sanded it to a smooth lustrous finish:corner-fireplace-makeover-122_bof

Now I had to tackle patching the floor tile.

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Demolition is my favourite part; I smashed out areas of half tile so I could add full pieces back in.

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Once the area was cleaned of debris, I started the process of re-tiling. I built the underlay up to the same height as the rest of the floor by inserting a piece of leftover cement board over the plywood.

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I filled in the field tiles.

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As I measured the ones that had to be cut, hubs cut those for me as I went.

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I let the thinset dry for a day. The picture below is just before I grouted the tile.

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You couldn’t even tell the floor was repaired after it was grouted!

Here’s how the fireplace looked for a few years before we got tired of it and moved onto phase II of our makeover:

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The room was ok for a few years, but it was repainted and redecorated to make it more bright and airy! A custom made sisal area rug was cut to the shape of the room to hide the majority of the original ’80’s tile floor, leaving just enough of a border around it so you can still see my tile repair work 🙂

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Here’s another reminder of the before:

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Now, it’s so cozy at night when it’s lit:

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The installation of a new gas fireplace is a welcome addition for the warmth (and now I don’t have to look at soot residue either)!

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Looking back on pictures of how the house looked when I first bought it, it has come such a long way. I’m sure the previous owner wouldn’t even recognize it now.

Like so many of our other updates, cosmetic changes can have a big impact.Covering up the ugly brick took the fireplace from dated to modern and was well worth the effort!

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For more home improvement and DIY ideas, check out the home page for a listing of projects.

You might also be interested in my new craft blog where I just posted a tutorial and video for this remote control holder I made hubs for his mancave. You can find it here.

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If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share. Follow us either on Bloglovin’ or right here at Birdz of Feather and you’ll get an e-mail whenever we post.

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Duct Tape Pop Art Portrait

Watch the video of me making a duct tape portrait to reveal whose portrait I’m making.

All you need is duct tape in about 9 different colours (the more, the merrier), scissors, a piece of foam core or plastic for the backing and a paper cutter (the paper cutter is optional).

When I get 50 subscribers to my Youtube channel, I will post the full how-to tutorial on Birdz of a Feather Craft (my new blog site dedicated to crafts and hacks) so you can make one too. While you’re at it, subscribe to my new blog too!

Sharing the video in your social media groups will help me get to 50 new subscriptions faster so help make that happen! Hopefully I’ll see you soon at Birdz of a Feather Craft with the full tutorial!

If you enjoy home and garden projects, follow us right here on Birdz of a Feather Home (link in footer or on homepage) or Bloglovin (link below) and you’ll get an e-mail next time I post a new home-related project.

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Industrial Bottle Display Shelf

A few years ago, we took a trip to Dundurn Castle on a beautiful summer day and I snapped a shot of a car that was being used for a wedding taking place on the grounds. On a whim, I posted the photo to the Jones Soda site on the off chance they would use it for one of the labels on their pop bottles.

I soon forgot about it and about 8 months later, I got a letter in the mail congratulating me on being chosen for one of their production runs and a few copies of the actual label with my photograph of the car on it!

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Hubs was so excited he went on the hunt to find my lable on the myriad of bottles being sold in convenience stores and he was able to find four of them over a few week period! We’re not soda drinkers, but the color of the pop in the bottle was a stunning yellow so we put them away in the cupboard for an idea to strike on how to display them one day.

Now that my craft studio is just about complete, the entryway was looking a little boring and bare – with the exception of the awesome chalkboard hubs made for over the pocket doors and surprised me with! That sliver of wall was going to be the perfect spot to display my bottles.

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You can watch the full video before you read the how-to:

Hubs gathered up some items:

  • Green painters tape
  • Screws
  • A scrap piece of cedar upcycled from a fence project. It was cut down to 20 1/2″ long and was 4 3/8″ wide by about 5/8″ thick.

He drilled three circular recesses into the wood to hold the bottles and spaced them 5 1/4″ on centre from the middle. Each circle was 2 3/8″ wide by 1/4″ deep; just deep enough so the bottle would nestle into the recess and not tip over.

Then some gas pipe fittings. He worked with 1/2″ material:

  • Two flanges
  • Two caps
  • Two clamps
  • Two pipes measuring slightly longer than the width of the board (ours measured 5″ long)

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Hubs mapped out the studs on the wall and prepared all the measurements. He also marked the centre of the board and approximately where the supports would be located.

To tie it all in, I enlarged a picture of the actual car I had shot to 18″ x 24″. I framed it so we could hang it above the bottle display shelf.

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For the supports underneath the shelf, we used the 5″ gas pipe, a flange, a cap, some screws and a clamp for each one. Hubs used some bluing liquid to turn the screws and clamp black to match the pipe, then cleaned the pipe with mineral spirits and sealed everything with spray lacquer, as he did for the industrial inspired table he recently did for his mancave.

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I was originally going to hang the picture at eye level and we even put it up on the wall, but then we realized that it had to be much higher to make the proportions work once the shelf was in place. Oh well, luckily the hole gets hidden by the picture!

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Once we found the height of the top of the picture, we marked it with some green tape. Then it’s just a matter of measuring from the top of the frame down to the hanger wire on the back of the picture.

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Our measurement was 2″, so that determines how far below the green tape on the wall the hanger will get nailed into the wall. Don’t forget to also measure for the horizontal centre of the wall to position the picture hanger.

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Then nail the picture hanger into the drywall:

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Once the picture was hung, we turned our attention to the shelf. My husband predrilled holes for the flange in the drywall and then screwed them into place. Note that if there are no studs beneath, you will need to add drywall anchors to support the weight of the shelf on the wall. Then he placed the shelf over the supports, positioned the clamps over the pipe and marked the underside of the board so he could also pre-drill the holes for the clamps.

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Once the holes were drilled, he then positioned the shelf onto the supports again, popped the clamps over the pipes from below the shelf and screwed the clamps onto the underside of the board.

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As an aside, because we had access to the wall in between the pocket door and we didn’t hit a stud on the side closest to the door, hubs was able to add a piece of plywood behind the drywall to screw the flange into. Otherwise, we would’ve had to add some plugs to the wall before we added the flange.

It was only then that we realized that the car on the lable was a mirror image of the picture I took – how cool is that!

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Hubs likes to restore vintage heaters and has a collection of them. Our last bit of staging was to add one of them in the corner underneath the shelf. Given the black and yellow colour, it was like it was all meant to be together! He gave the heater needed a bit more height by placing a wine box underneath it (a good call on his part!).

Now it all relates; I love how the black, white, yellow and wood tones came together in the end but in an upcoming post, my entry doors are about to get a blast of colour of their own! Come back in a few weeks to see the reveal of the doors; it will be the final project to finish off my craft studio.

Practically, there may not be many of you that would display a pop bottle (unless there are some Jones soda pictures that strike your fancy and you want to display them like I did). However, our shelf idea would also work great to display special wine bottles combined with a picture – or grouping of pictures – of where they were shared!

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Speaking of my craft studio, that’s a great segue to remind you that I’ve started a new blog site specifically for crafts. Check out Birdz of a Feather craft at this link. I have a cool industrial remote control caddy coming up, so follow if you want to receive new projects via e-mail when I post! Here are a few of the projects you’ll find at Birdz of a Feather craft:

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Not into bottles, but interested in building your own custom ledge to display pictures? Have a look at this post:

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If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share.

Follow us right here on Birdz of a Feather (link in footer or on homepage) or Bloglovin (link below) and you’ll get an e-mail next time I post a new home-related project.

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Bathroom Vanity Makeover

You may recall the bathroom renovation we completed for my Mom last year. When we revealed it, we still hadn’t painted the vanity we saved from going to the landfill.

Here’s how it looked before:

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When the guys came to install the glass shower doors, they could be heard laughing away when they first arrived: undoubtedly, they thought the vanity was going to stay that way!  I have to admit that once we renovated the bathroom, the vanity did look like the ugly duckling. I couldn’t wait to pick a paint colour and breathe new life into it too!

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Hubs tackled this project because painting is his forte. He started by removing all the doors and hardware.

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He cleaned the surface of the cabinet fronts and vanity and gave it all a light sanding. He actually did a paint test on one of the doors to see if he would need primer first and determined he didn’t need it. He painted the doors and drawers with a spray gun to give it a professional looking finish, but he had to paint the rest of the unit on-site by hand.

He put down a paint cloth on the floor so he wouldn’t accidentally spill on the new tile.

Then he taped off all the areas he didn’t want to get paint on. The side walls and floor got protective paper and painters tape, while underneath the countertop etc. he only put painters tape.

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Here’s a reminder of some of the tiles we chose for the floor and walls.

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I chose a mid-tone blue paint for the cabinet to coordinate with these colours.

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Hubs applied 3 light coats of the paint (he did it over the course two days to let it dry between coats).

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Once everything was dry, he put the doors back on their hinges and hung the doors.

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The finishing touch was to install new cabinet pulls in a chrome finish.

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In the vanity area, we replaced the mirror, lighting and countertop but I’m so glad we kept the old vanity! Why throw away something perfectly good when a little work and prep can make it look brand new again? Here’s a shot of the before and during….

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…and a final reveal of the after. Unfortunately I shot this picture at night, so it looks washed out and you don’t get the full beauty of the colour, but it looks stunning in person! If only the shower glass door installers could see it now!

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If we had only done the vanity area, it would have made a huge improvement to the bathroom, but we did a full renovation for my Mom and it turned out better than I ever expected. To see the full post, where I show you how to maximize bathroom space, click here.

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In an upcoming post, we’ll be showing you how we made over our fireplace taking it from this…

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… to this:

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Other renos we’ve recently completed include removing a wall and installing sliding doors in our dining room…..

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…and of course my new craft studio!

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There are tons of other home and garden ideas on our home page, so have a browse.

And if you haven’t done so already, visit my sister blog site and subscribe! Birdz of a Feather Craft  is where I showcase inspiring craft ideas and hacks like the one coming up where I take an empty dental floss container that was about to be tossed out and turn it into….. well, you’ll just have to subscribe to find out!

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If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share! If you’re new to Birdz of a Feather, you can follow us  right here (link in footer or on homepage) or Bloglovin (link below) and you’ll get an e-mail next time I post a new home and garden project.

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Shoji Screen Sliding Doors – Getting the Look Without Using Glass

Last week I posted about our dining room transformation after we removed a wall. If anyone were to ask me what the biggest impact was in renovating the space, I’d have to say the sliding doors that hubs and a friend built. Once we knocked the wall down, I wanted the option to close it off occasionally but still let the light through. It was the perfect opportunity for me to design something spectacular!

As you may have seen in our previous post, hubs mocked up my design in cardboard to make sure the scale would work first before he even purchased the wood. I’m so glad he did that because I could see that I wanted the wood on the bottom of the door to come much higher than the mockup, so we were able to make the adjustment and not waste a thing!

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Hubs installed the sliding door mechanism, but before he did, he added a piece of plywood so we could add a valance to it later.

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Then he installed the doors on the track by following the manufacturers directions. We used KN Crowder hardware.  It’s not cheap, but we also used their pocket door hardware in my craft room because we think it’s the best on the market and believe that you really do get what you pay for  (and no, we don’t get paid to say that)!

We didn’t want heavy frosted glass in the doors so hubs came up with a brilliant idea to get the same effect! Want to know the secret? Laminated rice paper! It looks beautiful and can still be cleaned if necessary. If you want a true shoji look though, make sure that the laminate you use is low sheen. The laminating shop we took it to actually used high sheen on one side and hubs didn’t notice it until after he installed it. We don’t like the shiny side (too much reflective glare), but we never took it back to fix it so I’m passing this tip along to you so you don’t make the same mistake we did.

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Since we took the wall opening right up to the ceiling and I didn’t want to see the track hardware, we created a valance to cover it in matching wood. Before we added the valance, I decided to stain the edge of the plywood it would be mounted to so the lighter colour wouldn’t catch my eye if I ever looked up into the gap. I can’t say I ever look at that gap, but maybe that’s because there’s nothing to notice! Anyway, the best time to do something is BEFORE it’s all finished, so I went ahead and put in the extra effort.

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To attach the valance itself, we stapled on some heavy duty velcro so we could simply velcro it into place. That way, if we ever have to get to the mechanism, we can still easily access it by detaching and lifting away the valance.

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It took two of us to lift the valance up and attach it; here it is all finished off:

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On the other side of the door, we attached a smaller piece of valance in the same manner just to bridge the space between the door opening.

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As you saw in the dining room reveal, we repainted and redecorated. Here’s the finished look:

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I think the doors really do make the space, don’t you? If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share. Follow us either on Bloglovin’ or right here at Birdz of Feather and you’ll get an e-mail whenever we post.

If you missed our DIY on how we knocked the wall down in the dining room, click here for a link to that post.

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For more reno DIYs, check out our tutorial on how to tile a backsplash….

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….how to replace a bathroom fan or…

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maximize space in a bathroom renovation:

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And don’t forget that I’ve just started a new craft blog called Birdz of a Feather Craft. You can check out by clicking here.  I have an incredible indoor water feature tutorial coming up soon, so follow me there too!

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Removing an Interior Wall – Dining Room Transformation

This post is dedicated to my sister who’s thinking of opening up a wall in her home. Even though I love her house just the way it is, if she’s determined to do it she might as well know what she’s getting herself into, right?

For us, removing an interior wall was the best investment in time and effort we’ve ever undertaken. Because our house faces north and there are no windows in the front of the house, our dining room was dark and uninviting. Opening up the shared wall to our family room let in a flood of southern light and has changed the whole flow, look and feel of our main level.

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However, it’s not as easy as just knocking through to the other side. There are things to consider such as whether the wall is load bearing, how to transition the flooring where the wall is removed and whether there are there any utilities such as plumbing or electricity in the wall cavity that may have to be moved. Most importantly, if you don’t know whether a wall is load bearing or not, call in a professional. Don’t be tempted to mess around with a wall that could potentially be holding up your second story! Bryan Baeumler has some good insight on load bearing walls in this video clip:

As hubs used to build custom homes, he knew our wall wasn’t load bearing so we went ahead with opening it up. Once we determined the size of our opening, hubs cut some exploratory holes into the bottom of the drywall to see what obstructions we would need to deal with. We only found an electrical outlet on the other side of the wall. Whenever you’re cutting into drywall, ALWAYS TURN THE ELECTRICITY OFF AS A PRECAUTION!  I learned that the hard way on my very first house reno when I was shocked by a loose wire.

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If you’re able to, it helps to open up to the studs on either side of the opening so you won’t have to add additional studs to finish it off.

Before you start, don’t forget to don a mask, safety goggles and gloves. This is messy, dusty work so don’t overlook these safety precautions:) Speaking of dusty, cover up any furniture pieces you’re not able to move to another room. Have a wet/dry vac on hand to vacuum up any debris as you go to keep the work site as clean as possible (or you’ll just trek the dust through the rest of the house).

First remove the baseboard on either side of the wall (you’ll be using it again to trim out once you’re done). Hubs used a stud finder to determine where the studs were. It’s helpful to mark the opening with  painters tape so you can clearly see where you’re cutting, but we used pencil to draw out the opening on the wall.

We decided to remove our drywall right up to the ceiling so hubs scored and cut along the lines with a utility knife. If you have crown moulding that you want to keep, as in my sister’s case, you’ll want to match the height of your opening to other doorways in your home. In that case, remove the drywall up to the height of the doorway, then cut the studs with a reciprocating saw and leave them hanging from the ceiling so you can add in a header. If your crown is plaster, be careful as you nail in the header or the force of hammering may crack it. The video at this link gives some good general tips for framing out an opening in a non-load bearing wall and framing out for a pass-through.

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We worked on one side of the wall at a time and used brute force to break off the drywall in sections (it’s actually not very hard once the perimeter is cut). We pulled the drywall off the studs as we went.

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Once the first side was done, hubs drilled through the corners to the other side so we could accurately transfer our cutting lines. He cut through the drywall on the other side with the utility knife as he did before. I couldn’t wait to kick through the lower parts of the wall, which was way more fun than just pulling it off! There’s a reason that demo day is a favourite among many HGTV personalities!

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Once the drywall is removed, you can start pulling out the studs within the opening.

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You can cut the nails with a reciprocating saw first along the top and bottom plates or just hammer the studs outwards until the bottom is released and then pull out the upper part.

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Once the studs are removed, you can cut the bottom plate through to the floor and the top plate against the ceiling and remove those too if you are taking the opening full height. As you’ll see later we were going to be installing sliding doors (designed by me and built by hubs and a friend).

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I’ve had the crow bar shown below since I renovated my first house and it’s an absolute must for any renovation (I can almost hear my sister asking me to borrow it now!) It will help pull the bottom plate away from the floor.

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Hubs took care of mudding and sanding the opening. You can now re-cut the baseboard you removed to size and re-use it (in our case, we took the opportunity to replace our baseboards on the entire main level).

We painted our previously red walls with a colour called ‘muslin’ from Benjamin Moore; it’s a lot easier on the eyes! Hubs then mocked up my vision for our sliding doors in cardboard so we could visualize how it would look. You’ll see more about those in our next post!

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We replaced the carpeting with hardwood floors, installed the sliding doors and, as you’ll see in the final reveal, we also replaced our light fixture.

Here’s how our dining room looked before we took down the wall…

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And here’s how it looks now.

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The light just floods in from the back of the house and illuminates the space. It’s fresh and modern; it even looks bigger. We couldn’t be happier with the result!

Next up, I’ll be posting some tips on how we did the shoji screen sliding doors. In the meantime, if you’re interested in other DIY reno’s, check out our laundry room tiled backsplash:

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And how to make the most of your staircase and landing:

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If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share. Follow us either on Bloglovin’ or right here at Birdz of Feather and you’ll get an e-mail whenever we post.

In case you haven’t heard, I’ve just started a new craft blog. Click on this link which will take you to my new site where you can find craft projects such as the blue jean planter and dog bone basket shown below. Some people think these blue jean planters are creepy; others think they’re fun, but we can all agree that they’re definitely unique 🙂

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This dog bone basket is the perfect gift for any dog lover in your life – or make it for yourself to corral all your dog toys!

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Organizing a Craft Room

Today marks the launch of my new craft site Birdz of a Feather Craft! I’ll still post our home reno projects at this site (Birdz of a Feather Home) but if you’re interested in crafts, be sure to follow me there too! Follow this link and click on the follow button if you’d like to get an email whenever I post a craft tutorial.

Since finishing off my craft studio at the end of last year, I’m spending more time on craft projects. To kick off my new focus for 2017, (and celebrate my new craft studio) I thought I would dedicate this first post to craft room organization.

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Hubs built an entire wall of storage cabinets for me using Ikea Pax units. Although they’re meant to be used in the bedroom as a wardrobe, the interior options are ideal for a craft studio. I’ve used the interior organizers to full advantage. Here, we’ve installed a pull-out shelf to store one of my sewing machines:

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I put a few felt dividers into one of the drawers to corral small items such as my pressing hams:

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There’s a ton of room to store both my hanging and tissue patterns, my glass grinder, my tools and even my thread (although I changed my mind about the tread as you’ll see further on).

The clear glass drawer fronts allow me to see everything I have in an instant!

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There’s a flat storage space for my self-healing cutting mats and all of my tools are stored on pull out shelves so they are readily accessible. It’s impossible to loose anything when you can simply pull out a drawer to see what you have! The only trick to keeping it organized is making sure to return everything back to where I got it; so far it’s worked like a charm.

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I even have a few pullouts to store some closed storage bins:

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Instead of hiding my cone threads and yarns in the cabinet, I decided to relocate them to display them in all their glorious colour. The vintage glass oak display cabinet keeps the dust off everything.

The 6-drawer card catalogue resting on top of the cabinet adds additional closed storage. I organized things like tape and fasteners in the drawers.

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To organize my collection of vintage irons and other cast iron objects, I’ve displayed them on an Ikea Lack shelf. I love being reminded of how far technology has come in the last century.

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I couldn’t believe it when we found the shabby chic highboy shown below on the side of the road. It was missing its drawers, but it turned out to be perfect to tuck away larger project components so I can clear my work table when I have things in progress and need to move on to another step. It’s so easy to store and grab things from the open shelf space.

My grandmother bought me the industrial pattern table to christen my first studio. Hubs added a shelf onto the bottom of it so I could store some closed bins that are holding my fabrics. My grandmother (and Mom) taught me most of what I know about crafting and I always think of her when I’m looking for some inspiration for my next project!

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My favourite piece (if I had to pick just one) is the kitchen drawer units we repurposed from our kitchen renovation. We faced the front of each drawer with MDF to get a clean slate. I blew up a picture of a VW beetle that hubs restored and attached it to the MDF for a unique storage piece.

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There are six large and deep storage drawers as well as a vertical pullout (similar to the pull-out cabinet we built for our new kitchen). I store most of my finished projects in the drawers that are still waiting for their final place in our home (or someone else’s home!).

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In one half of the pull-out cabinet I’m storing mostly liquid items such as paint, caulk and glue. The shelves are adjustable so that my storage options are totally flexible and I can switch things around whenever I want to:

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On the other side of the divide, we installed a perforated metal backer. I can hang some items on the metal,  either peg-board style or by magnets. I haven’t organized this spot yet, but will likely store my rulers here.

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My work area will one day hold a laptop or desktop computer so I can design and execute in the same space.

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Above the floating desk, we installed additional wall cabinets to maximize storage space.

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I’ve got inspirational magazines stored in one of the cabinets, as shown below, and a collection of craft books in the other units:

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Lastly, I’ve organized all my smaller items in a vintage card catalogue. Everything is labeled alphabetically so I can easily find it:

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Now that everything is coming together organization-wise, I can fully concentrate on the fun aspects of my new craft studio: creating and making things!

Here is a sneak peak of my very first craft project in 2017. I’ll be showing you how to make your very own blue jean planter. Isn’t it adorable? I’ll have a full tutorial, and hopefully a video for you, very soon!

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Don’t forget to follow me on my new site, Birdz of a Feather Craft if you want the full tutorial when it’s hot off the press!

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