Holey Hosta Batman! How we Saved our Hostas from Slugs!

This post kicks off a 3-part series on low-maintenance/sustainable gardening. The side of our house doesn’t get a lot of sun, so we planted shade tolerant hostas and ground cover to fill in that area and crowd out weeds and aid in water conservation. The hostas have filled in beautifully over the years, but by mid summer they are all torn to shreds and have more holes than swiss cheese.

Batman may be resigned to fighting thugs, but we were tired of fighting slugs: we wanted to put a stop to their reign of crime once and for all. We tried everything from eggshells to diatomaceous earth to no avail, until we finally found the answer: copper!  Forgive the bad pun, but just like commissioner Gordon of Batman fame, a little ‘copper’ goes a long way to fighting crime.


Last year we ran an experiment: we wrapped pure copper wire mesh around the bases of half our hostas and left the other half as-is. We had read that copper repels snails and slugs because they don’t like to touch it. We thought it would be worth a try – and who doesn’t love a pest-control product that’s non-toxic and sustainable!

By the end of the summer, the hostas we wrapped with copper were hole-free as compared to the others that weren’t (you can see the large hosta in the foreground below has several holes in the leaves). ‘Hosta’ la vista, slugs! Overall, even the ones we didn’t wrap had less slug damage than usual.

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This year we put the copper around all our hostas. We could have wrapped the mesh around the entire garden, but only the hostas tend to get eaten so we only used it around those. If you do decide wrap an entire garden, push some bamboo steaks into the ground at equal intervals to act as a support to wrap the copper around.

It’s easier to wrap the hostas first thing in the spring when they are just peaking through the earth. You can also do it this time of year, but you’ll probably need another set of hands to hold back the foliage while you wind the mesh around the base and secure it.

We dug a shallow trench around each plant and buried the mesh below the soil so that nothing could sneak down under it. We pinched the ends together and crimp them closed; that seemed to hold them in place all season last year.

UPDATE: hubs’ friend was reading my post and suggested that she has used copper pennies. Unfortunately pennies are no longer being minted in Canada, but if you have some kicking around they may be worth a try too! Just sprinkle them on the ground around your hostas.

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We LOVE how the hostas look at the side of our house in the spring and summer months:

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‘Hosta’ la vista, slugs!

Saving our hostas make us feel like superheros and now we get to enjoy our them hole-free through the entire season (which sadly isn’t too long in Canada)!

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For more garden inspiration check out the following posts:

How to build trellises and privacy screens.

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A coordinated mirror and shelf to expand any small outdoor space, and;

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Creative planter ideas:

Planter Ideas

Stay calm and relax on this summer!  If these projects have inspired you, please pin and share on Facebook.

At Birdz of a Feather, we’re feathering the nest… one room at a time. Follow my blog here or on Bloglovin’ to see other DIY projects, in and around the home.

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Muskoka Chair Challenge at the Ontario Science Centre

Who doesn’t love to relax in a Muskoka chair (or Adirondack chair as our neighbours to the south call it)!  Several years ago, the Ontario Science Centre (OSC) sponsored a challenge asking for willing participants to create a unique Muskoka chair that would appeal to their visitors during the summer months.

OSC aims to inspire a lifelong journey of curiosity, discovery and action to create a better future for the planet. But all that is rounded out by a downright fun experience when you visit! Hubs and I have racked up so many great and memorable experiences each time we go, that we jumped at the chance to team up and give the chair challenge a go.  We had a blast lending our creative talent to designing one of the chairs that would ultimately be displayed around the grounds at OSC!

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A science connection was naturally something to consider, however it also needed to be comfortable to sit in, withstand the elements that an outdoor chair would be exposed to and withstand the attention and affection (aka wear and tear) that their visitors would bestow upon it!

Each team was given a dissembled chair in a box, and the rest was up to us. We started by sanding all the pieces of wood that made up the chair.

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Rather than do the obvious thing and incorporate a science theme, I decided to take a different approach to the challenge; one that no one else would think of.  I found out a long time ago through a friend, and many visitors are probably unaware of this, but did you know that all the exhibits at OSC are conceived, designed, built and finished right on-site by OSC staff?  Yes indeed, it takes the collaboration of many people to create the interesting, informative and interactive exhibits that are on display — and they do it in a way that is as green as possible!

Armed with this knowledge, I wanted our Muskoka chair to pay tribute to some of the people who are ‘behind the scenes’ in Exhibit Fabrication: namely the designers, wood workers and finishers.

Since every good concept must start with a plan, I knew that part of developing great experiences for their visitors would start with a ‘blueprint’ and hoped there would be extras hanging around and gathering dust. Why not découpage some of these to our chair?  By recycling them, we could pay homage to all the exhibit fabricators while being environmentally friendly.  I guess you could say that we turned blueprints ‘green’!

I was able to secure extra blueprint copies of the Living Earth exhibit –  a fitting theme as every element we used was recycled and/or earth friendly.

I lined up all the slats, and positioned  the blue prints over them so they would all read perfectly once assembled.  When I was happy with the layout, I ran the side of a pencil around each outline to ‘score it’ so I could faintly see where to cut each piece. I didn’t use the pencil lead because I didn’t want to erase any remaining marks after they were cut, but  I did use it to lightly number the back of the paper and corresponding wood so the order wouldn’t get mixed up. Then I glued the blueprints to the wood using a 1:2 mixture of water and glue to thin it out. When all the slats were finished I moved onto the arms (seen below):

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Because of the size of the chair, I had to overlap several blueprints.  By laying it all out first to visualize it, I was able to come up with an interesting idea for the back of the chair! I found that one of the blueprints in the set had a circular pattern rendered on it. It turned on a lightbulb: why don’t we incorporate the Science Centre logo into the design in recognition of the graphics department?


I love that OSC’s logo connects in such a way that it forms a trillium: the provincial flower of Ontario since 1937!

When it came to fabricating the logo, I didn’t want to completely mask the beauty of the blueprints (I also wanted to create a peek-a-boo effect with the trillium) so I came up with the idea of cutting out the circles from recycled coloured tissue paper.  When découpaged over the blueprint you could still make out the details through the tissue and once sprayed with a clear finish it was even better; it worked like a charm!

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Tissue paper OSC logo superimposed onto bluepint

Next, we upcycled an old wooden shipping pallet and brought it to life as a footstool and cup holder to accompany our chair (an ode to OSC wood workers). Each piece was sanded smooth, as we did with the chair, to better accept the découpage treatment.


Salvaged shipping pallet turned into slats and sides for footstool

I wanted each slat of our footstool to be representative of some of OSC’s exhibit halls – to tie in the displays that at one time all started out as blueprints! I used one blueprint and overprinted it with seven of the exhibit hall names.  Since the width of the footstool was wider than I was able to print, I added in the red, blue and green tissue paper once again to make up the width.

The project took up space on our dining room table and hubs’ workship for several weeks, but it was well worth it because we had so much fun while we worked on it together!

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Footstool slats made from an upcycled shipping pallet

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Creating the pattern for the cup holder

Hubs glued and clamped together two pieces of the pallet to gain enough width for the top of the cup holder, then cut out the shape with a jigsaw.

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The finished cup holder came together nicely; who would’ve guessed it was made from a pallet?

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We wanted a pop of colour to tie the cup holder into the OSC logo. Hubs tested a few stains and ended up choosing a red dye for the accent colour.

Our chair, footstool and cup holder were protected from the elements with water based varnish and dye, reducing the emission of Volatile Organic Compounds (VoCs) into the air  – and recognizing the contribution of OSC’s finishing department.

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We sprayed all the pieces individually  and then screwed the whole chair together. Next, we assembled the footstool and mounted the cup holder we fashioned from the pallet.

Before we gathered in a room at the Science Centre for the throwdown,  hubs made a last minute purchase in the gift shop. He found a coin bank in the shape of a can with OSC’s logo on it and purchased it to top off the cup holder as a final touch.

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All the submissions were fascinating as you’ll see below. We placed second and all the chairs were put out on display where visitors to OSC could admire and enjoy them!  Many years have passed since this challenge though, so I don’t know if any of these chairs are still on display.

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The winning chair was this Breathe Look Dream chair which featured a living roof!  It was stained using elements such as grass, steel wool, carrots, tea, turmeric etc., combined with vinegar and seeped in a mason jar. The canopy used birch wood felled in the ice storm and wood framing from a demolished deck. The plant trays used in the green roof were left over from annuals planted by City of Toronto workers.  Best of all, the plant materials in the gutters of the chair were curated to repel mosquitoes: Basil, Rosemary, Citronella, Bee Balm, Marigold, Lavendar and Catmint.

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The Tensegri Chair boasted a halo water misting unit and a human powered cooling fan (using a crank on the chair arm); all welcome features for those hot and humid Toronto summer days!

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Another cooling apparatus chair had a drink cooler and an adjustable canopy shaped like a leaf; it was a real head turner!

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Here’s the Solarific chair – which protects from the sun and harnesses its energy too. Along with the solar lights, the pencils decorating the arms absorb the solar rays to produce a glow-in-the-dark effect at night.

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I loved the message on the seat marked by the words “Your Curious Belongs Here” (an OSC motto). Cute!

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The OSC Camp chair sings the praises of summer day camp. OSC  has been keeping young minds happy and active in the summer with a week of interactive discovery where kids can make new friends, take part in exciting experiments and embark on unforgettable science adventures! I wish I could’ve gone there when I was a kid!

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In retrospect, the only thing I would do differently is to spray a few more layers of topcoat onto the entire chair. The trick to making this endure the elements better is in spraying many light coats of water-based varnish to seal in the paper and keep it from lifting. Unfortunately we ran out of time before we could build up the topcoat, so it did suffer a bit once it was put on display.  If I were to create a découpage chair for my own home, I would situate it outside where it wouldn’t be directly exposed to the elements – like a 3-season porch or under an awning.

One day when I get around to making a chair for our own use at home, I think it would be fun to incorporate something personal to us. I would enlarge either a layout of our own house, a satellite view of our street or even an vintage map of our neighbourhood for the découpage element. Maybe I’d even use my Birdz of a Feather logo as the tissue paper element on the back of the chair 🙂

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Although these chairs were designed specifically for the Ontario Science Centre, you could easily adopt some of these ideas to make a chair for your own home; the ideas are endless!

Speaking of endless, there’s a huge variety of experiences for every age to take in at OSC; it is more than a great place for kids! If you’re ever in the Toronto area (or just haven’t visited for a while), you should definitely  check out what’s on at the Ontario Science Centre and drop in! I know that Hubs and I are due for a visit soon 🙂

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Vinyl Record Art – Creating a VW Bug Key Holder

My husband is always misplacing his car keys which often makes us late. It’s been a source of frustration for me – wasted time spent looking for keys when we should be out the door.

As a solution, I made a transportation-themed key holder featuring a VW bug cut from a vinyl record album!

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I found some inspiring ideas on what to do with scratched record albums on Pinterest (search vinyl record art and you’ll see loads of ideas). Given my husband’s love of all things Volkswagen, I thought it would be a fun challenge to try out a VW Beetle with its curvy iconic shape. I cut the Beetle out of the vinyl record, mounted it to a backer board and added in other elements such as copper foil, fused glass, war amp key tags and even a popsicle stick!

If you don’t have a scratched album – or still love to listen to yours – check out a local second hand store. The Juice Newton record I used was found at my local Value Village for only $1 – ironic because one of hub’s friends from his beer brewing days nicknamed him ‘Juice’. Once all the elements were cut away, you can still see ‘Juice’ on the album 🙂

Here are the items I used to create the key holder (I forgot to add in the double face tape!):

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I used Google images to find some clipart of a Volkswagen Beetle that I thought would work. I intended to create an older version of the VW for hubs, but the one I used for the key holder pictured above was so stylized that I knew it would be perfect to use as a test run. I didn’t really expect it to come out so good on my first try, so I never ended up doing the second one as I originally intended!

If you’re interested in trying out this project, I’ve included jpeg files of the beetle and stoplight clipart that I used below. Since the  record album was 12″ wide, I brought the graphic into  Powerpoint and set it to print on legal sized paper.  I then enlarged the clipart to 12″ in width so it would span the entire vinyl album. As you can see by my finished key holder in the opening picture, I used a mirror image of the clipart shown below.

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I used the stoplight to make the copper foil accent using a sheet of copper (see the jpeg provided below).


I marked around the outline and cut it out of the copper sheet. Then I put the piece over a rubber pad and used various embossing tools to score the lines and emboss the detail. Some elements I embossed on the front of the copper and others I did on the back.  For instance, the centre (where the red, yellow and green ‘lights’ are) was embossed into the rubber pad from the front so the detail would look concave. The ‘wings’ of the piece are embossed on the back so that they stand proud and give the piece dimension.

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To finish off the stoplight I cut some circles out of adhesive backed black vinyl, stuck on red, yellow and green dots in the centre, and adhered them onto the copper.  I could have used some gem stones or even glass globs instead, but the stickers were lighter and I had them on-hand in my stash.

I cut out all the white areas of my VW  Beetle paper pattern, positioned it over the record album and used a chalk sewing pencil to transfer the design onto the vinyl. After Googling how to cut vinyl records, I settled on using a hot knife blade that came with a wood burning set I bought at Michaels. Here’s a link to the one video I found on YouTube that helped me immensely in the how-to aspects of cutting vinyl records:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHH47OVAKhw. Notice in particular at .47 seconds where she shows how she cuts the vinyl: she keeps her knife steady in one hand and then rotates the work with her other hand.

I set up a fan to blow away the fumes, but it would probably be best to also use a respirator, or do it outdoors if possible, to avoid inhaling the fumes.

I placed a piece of plywood underneath the album so I wouldn’t burn my work table.  Once the knife was heated up, I lowered the point into the vinyl on one of the lines, then used my left hand to rotate the album as I kept the knife steady in one spot and pulled the work toward me.  I worked slowly and steadily to slice through the vinyl with the hot knife, taking care not to stay in any one spot too long and over melt the vinyl. When necessary, I turned the work so I could cut into any corners.

In addition to the vinyl record, I added in a few odds and ends left over from another VW-related item I made for hubs before we were married – the stained glass clock pictured below. What started out as a birthday present took me all the way until Christmas to complete! Since it took so much effort to fabricate, I wanted to use elements I had already created!

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Stained and fused glass clock

At this point, I gathered all  my components and started to visualize how they should all come together so I could plan the layout for the backer board.  I found a few war amp key tags in my father’s junk drawer; I thought they’d make a great backer for the cup hooks to hang the keys!

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For the backer board, I cut a piece of MDF to the shape of a house then painted it with some white paint on the front and sides:

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To hang the board on a wall, I glued and screwed a keyhole hanger to the back of the board to make it secure. Make sure to put it on as shown below with the wide end of the keyhole pointing down or it will fall off the wall when you hang it up. Centre it on the board (you can see my pencil marks below).  It should also run perfectly straight up and down to help keep it level once hung.

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I also added 3 felt pads on the back of the board to buffer the wall:

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In between the two key hooks, I added a ‘fake’ keychain made from fused glass, ball chain and a key blank. We only needed two hooks for hubs and me so I thought it would be interesting to add this purely decorative piece.

It’s a bit hard to make out, but there is a VW logo inscribed onto the copper that’s fused into the glass. This was the spare piece that I remade for hub’s glass clock because I didn’t like the air bubbles that got trapped between the layers – but I learned to embrace them for the key holder 🙂

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To finish off the car, I put a popsicle stick behind the space I cut away from the vinyl record for the ‘license plate’. I traced the shape of the license plate onto stick then burned around the outline and added 66 VW to the centre of the wood with a wood burning tool (using a narrow tip).  I cut around the outside of the burned edges with an exacto knife and sanded the edges smooth. It was such a tight fit that I didn’t have to glue it into the space; it just stayed put on its own.  However, you could add some hot glue around the edges on back of the record to keep it from popping out.

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Hub’s favourite year of beetle is 1966; which I guess would have worked better with an older style bug – oh well!  This is the  old style of VW my husband prefers:

VW Clipart_old bug

I used some double side tape to attach the vinyl record and the copper stop light to the board.

Position the war amp key tags where you want them (in my case, on either end of the board underneath the VW bug) and screw the cup hook in tightly so they end up pointing upwards.

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To finish it off  I attached the glass key chain with velcro.

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The key holder was ready to go into active duty, however, I never could convince hubs to use it.  It’s been languishing in a box for quite some time. I’ll likely drag it out again when hubs has finished my craft studio and find a place (and some other purpose) for it there; let me know if you have any suggestions 🙂

At Birdz of a Feather, we’re feathering the nest… one room (and project) at a time. If this project has inspired you, please pin and share on Facebook.

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Now that the weather is beautiful, it’s time for outdoor pursuits and gardening! If you plan on attending any flea markets or yard sales this summer, be prepared by checking out my post for the DIY Flea Market Survival Kit shown below:
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Add Some ‘Zen’ to Your Back Garden with a Water Feature:

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Build a dry creek bed:

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Follow my blog here at Birdz of a Feather or on Bloglovin’ to see upcoming DIY projects, in and around the home.

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Be Prepared During Tick Season: DIY Flea Market Survival Kit

When the weather turns warm in May, hubs and I love to scout flea markets and garage sales! Speaking of scout, when I was a girl scout, our motto was ‘be prepared’.  That one motto has resonated with me throughout my entire life.

Our favourite antique market is Aberfoyle in Guelph Ontario.  One day when hubs was carrying an item back to the car, while I stayed and browsed, he came across a metal tool kit in rough shape. He bought it for just a few dollars and hid it in the car so I wouldn’t see it.  Then he repainted it and surprised me with it later.  I LOVED it, but I couldn’t help but upcycle it for a better purpose. If you’re an avid flea marketer like me and hubs, you’d turn the tool kit into a DIY Flea Market Survival Kit, like I did, so you’d be prepared and have everything you need for your next jaunt!

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We love to hit the road on the weekend with just a moment’s notice so it’s a dream to have everything packed away in our kit ready for action. We just pop it into the back of the car and head out!

Here is a list of what we recommend to keep in the kit. I can’t emphasize enough that one of the most important items we’ve included is a tick kit.

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I consider the tick kit the MVP of the entire survival kit!  That’s why we’ve placed it front and centre on the outside of our box for easy access (we’ve chained it through the zipper pull and handle of our kit).  The tick kit pictured below is available for only $15 Canadian and can be ordered through CanLyme.

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Tick Kit: CanLyme

I’ll get into the nitty gritty of what’s in the rest of the kit in a moment, but I want to take this opportunity to provide a ‘public service announcement’ to all my readers that ties in well with our Flea Market Survival Kit. Not only do we love to be outdoors at flea markets in May, but May just so happens to be Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

If you’re doing ANY outdoor activities – like walking through the grass at flea markets and yard sales – you need to be prepared to remove any tick that latches on. The faster it’s removed, the less chance you have of getting Lyme disease – a debilitating and potentially chronic disease if not caught early.

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Inside the tick kit is fine tipped tweezers with a magnifying glass, band-aids, antiseptic and alcohol wipes, rolled paper towels, plastic containers to collect the tick if you happen to find and remove one and information cards. There’s also a plastic tick puller for your pet. What better way to ‘be prepared’ than to keep a tick kit with you at all times?

Like the card below says, ‘knowledge and prevention are the key’, so seriously consider either buying a tick kit or at the very least include a pair of fine tipped tweezers with the items you carry in your Flea Market Survival Kit 🙂  Although the card below doesn’t go into all the details, ticks can carry more than just Lyme disease — none of which you want to contract!

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To effectively remove a tick, grasp it as close to your skin as you can get with the fine tipped tweezers so you won’t leave anything behind. Keep steady pressure and pull straight up until the tick releases. You can save the tick in the container provided with your tick kit and send it into a public health lab to be tested (they will only test a black legged tick that is found on a person). For information on where to send a tick for testing within Canada, contact CanLyme for further details.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program! I attached a hair clip onto one of the plastic compartments that resides inside our kit. That way I have something to control my long hair on windy days. Other essentials are lip balm, insect repellent and sun screen.

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Whenever we go to large outdoor markets, I always wear a money belt around my waist and tucked under my top. It’s supplied with small bills and change in case that ‘I can’t live without it moment strikes’!  It keeps our money safe from ‘sticky fingers’ so to speak. I wear a fanny pack to carry an insulated bottle of water – to be hands-free and and have cold water to cool down with on hot days.

The tape measure and screw driver (with a good variety of bits) are a must for making sure larger items will fit in the car and for taking apart anything that can be disassembled to make it easier to transport.

I also carry a wide package of Post-it notes, a pen and marker (these items fit into my fanny pack with my water bottle).  If we purchase something and can’t take it right away, I can stick a post-it on the item and mark it with our name . I actually tear the Post-it in half first so I can also mark down the location of the booth (I obviously keep that half on the pad)! This makes it easier to remember where to make our way back to in order to pick up our purchase later.

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We tuck away two caps with visors in our kit.  I find that wearing sunglasses can be a pain when going into an indoor stall, or garage at a yard sale, because it’s too dark to see. In keeping with my preferred hands-free experience, I don’t like to fumble with my glasses. Having a cap with a visor shields my eyes from the sun, while also allowing me to see perfectly in indoor spaces, so I don’t have to wear sunglasses.

Some rechargeable batteries are handy if we ever want to test out something that’s battery operated – especially at a garage or yard sale.  They also act as a spare pair for our camera, which I’d never be without at a flea market (I don’t carry a cell phone).

A flashlight helps us see under tables and inside dark stalls so we can shine a light on hard-to-see items; you never know where you’re going to find a diamond in the rough!

After digging around and touching items all day, it’s nice to have some hand sanitizer. We usually go back to the car to get our lunch, which we leave in a cooler. Both hubs and I are gluten free, and we always build up an appetite when we’re on the hunt for finds, so we don’t travel light when it comes to food! It’s great to clean up with the hand sanitizer before we take a break; we also keep some wet-naps in the car for after we eat.

Lastly I keep a pill container in the kit for carrying any medication I might be taking or a few pain killers just in case. Having the sun beating down on you for hours at a time can bring on the worst headache, so some Tylenol and water often save the day.

After a day of hunting treasures, we take out a mini pack of gluten-free mini pepperoni snacks from our cooler to enjoy on the long drive home. That’s where the pointy scissors you may have noticed in our kit come in handy – for opening them up!

Now, with our  Flea Market Survival Kit, whenever we hit up Aberfoyle or come across a garage sale, we’re more than ready for the hunt!

If you have items you consider essential for the kit that I haven’t covered here, let me know in the comments.

I’m also happy to answer any questions you might have about Lyme disease and prevention. By the way, CanLyme not only sells the tick kit featured in our flea market survival kit, but they also host an informative website if you’re interested in learning more.

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DIY Wedding Ideas: Vintage Kitchen Theme

If you are getting married – or know someone who is – today’s post will give you some creative ideas on how to DIY your own decor for your special day.

We got married at a grand old house (purported to be haunted)! My husband and I love to scout flea markets so it only made sense that our wedding theme would be pulled together with vintage objects to fit in with the surroundings of the house. We both love to cook, so what could be more perfect than a kitchen-themed wedding that combines both our love of the hunt and our love for food?

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When we happened upon a garage sale one day and found an old hoosier table for only $5, we had the perfect starting point for a retro kitchen theme. From there, it was an easy decision to fashion all our floral centerpieces from old Pyrex coffee pots, tea pots, glass jugs, old blenders and even an orange squeezer!

My favourite project has got to be our place card holders! The D-I-Y rolling pin that held our place cards did double duty: our guests could use it to locate their table and then take it home with them after the wedding as a keepsake! One of our guests subsequently put it on her window ledge in the kitchen and used it to display a picture of the grand kids – cute!

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We found the mini rolling pins at the dollar store. A quick call to the store and they were able to order us in a box of 70 of them!

My husband sliced off a sliver of the rounded part to flatten it so it would sit on the hoosier table without rolling away! Then he cut an angled slot in the opposite end to hold the place cards at an angle so they could be easily read. The handles were painted with our other accent colour – an orange chalk paint. He then sealed the wood with a clear varnish.

I designed the place cards to mimic a recipe card with blenders as the borders (“Recipe for a Happy Marriage”). You’ll see the actual vintage blender we used for one of our floral arrangements further ahead in this post.

All 70 rolling pins were set up before the ceremony in the hallway at the reception; they fit perfectly onto the top of the hoosier table to greet guests as they arrived.

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Rolling pin place card holder; blender motif frames each card

Here are some of the Pyrex containers we found for the centrepieces. We took them all to a florist to fill them with beautiful flower arrangements. At the wedding, before the night ended, we raffled the centrepiece off to one of the guests at each table.

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Hoosier table, glass Pyrex tea/coffee pots and blue metal stands (in background)

Here is a picture of the bender once it was arranged with flowers (as you saw above, I used this vintage blender as a motif around the edges on the place cards)….

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And we used the Juice-King juicer to float one of many candles we placed throughout the house. I decorated it with some silk flowers and organza rosettes.

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Juicer cups acts as another vessel to float a candle

Where there was old metal to paint, we picked a retro blue. I guess we really took “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” to heart; especially when we had to borrow a van to get all our finished projects to the site!

Although we gave away all the other decorative pieces, we kept both the blender and juicer after the wedding; to this day we call the color ‘wedding colour blue’. Our complimentary colour was orange; this is what we painted anything that was wood; i.e. the hoosier table base and the handles of the rolling pins.

As the wedding approached, we would go out on the weekends to collect enough Pyrex containers for the floral centerpieces (one for each table) and to also look for vintage glassware to hold floating candles for the head table. We ended up finding shrimp cocktail servers with liners (originally meant to hold ice to keep the shrimp cold).

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Vintage shrimp cocktail glass; source: Etsy

The double compartments were perfect: we added some fish aquarium stone in the bottom and the floating candles in the top (both the same colour as ‘wedding color blue’). The second picture below shows how it looked when it all came together.

On our travels we also found several metal pieces that were perfect for holding the hobnail relish dishes we found – which we also floated candles in. To finish off the vignette, we found some melamine rounds in a Habit for Humanity ReStore – painted them blue of course – then glued mirror we had specially cut onto the rounds. All the floating candles were placed on top of the mirror and some organza flowers filled in around it.

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Hobnail dish used in head table centrepiece

The candles cast a pretty glow and added a touch of sparkle when they were all lit up:

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Shrimp cocktail servers filled with stone and placed around mirror complete one of the pieces for the head table

Because we don’t like to take ourselves too seriously, we wanted to add some whimsy to the ceremony itself, so I made ‘bride and groom’ plant stands to frame the aisle.

They were incredibly fun to make; a trip to our local value village garnered the ‘wedding dress’ (it was actually a train I was able to re-purpose), some tuxedo pants, a cummerbund and shoes for the groom. As we were pressed for time (and money) we ended up using silk flowers to complete these – but they could easily have been planted up with fresh flowers using some floral foam.

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Why not inject some humour into the big day with ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ plant stands!?

The last thing we did to personalize the day was to have an artist draw a charicature of us and matte it in black so we could have all our guests sign a personal message in the margins of the board. We were working within a limited budget so we found a student to create the charicature!

I taped up a half-inch margin around the perimeter so no one’s message would get covered once it was framed and provided several fine-tipped silver marker for guests to sign (so a few people could sign at once). I also placed some velum over the charicature (and under the black matte) to keep it clean.

After it’s framed up, it’s a great keepsake of the day!

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Our final project was the thank-you card. We scanned our charicature and created one-of-a-kind cards to send to all our guests. It was a nice tie-in!

There’s nothing like making your own do-it-yourself wedding decor; it’s so unique and a lot of fun to pull together. I hope some of these projects inspire a few ideas your own wedding day and beyond! Afterall, once a DIY’er, always a DIY’er. Our projects didn’t end with the wedding! Once the honeymoon was over, would you believe we got right back to work again landscaping our front and back garden? We turned out backyard into an urban oasis:

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We created a calming water feature by our front door!

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We then built some trellises for the front and back gardens:

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Lastly, we added in some planters (before moving our DIYs indoors to renovate the rest of the house):

Planter Ideas

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Got Chipped Floor Tile? Try This Fix!

When a fellow Hometalker asked “How can we cover up chipped spots on our kitchen tiles?“, I knew there were plenty of people out there who were faced with the same problem I just tackled.  In this post, I’ll explain how I went about fixing this common problem in my own house.

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We have white ceramic tile that runs from the front door right through to the back of the house where the kitchen is located. Over the years, if you have ceramic tile in the kitchen – and ‘oopsy-daisy syndrome’ –  you’re going to drop a thing or two (or more than a dozen!) and subsequently chip your tile where it will gather dirt and look downright ugly.

We had already done some damage to the floor, but the last straw came after we had our kitchen renovated by a contractor. As careful as he tried to be, when the reno was all said and done, we came home to a floor that looked like it had been pocked by asteroids!  We couldn’t afford to rip out and replace so much tile, so I had to do something to fix it!

My first instinct was to try to cover it over with a runner, but as you can see below all the damage was outside of the perimeter of where the runner would cover the floor:

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Before you start, gather the following tools: porcelain touch up glaze, 220-grit sandpaper, a metal or plastic straight razor blade (be sure there’s a protective cover on one end if the handle gets in the way and you have to take it off), a roll of painters’ tape, some wooden toothpicks and a few small lids for mixing.

Also have some rubbing alcohol or warm soapy water on hand to clean each chip; otherwise the touch up paint may not bond)!

When you purchase the porcelain touch up glaze, make sure you purchase it in a colour that’s the closest match to your tile. Also make sure that the bottle isn’t old stock and dried up, as I only discovered when I took it home the first time!  Shake the bottle in the store to make sure it’s still in liquid form 🙂

The ‘lid’ pictured below is actually the pull tab from a carton of milk. I liked that it was rounded because I ended up having to mix a custom colour to better match the greyish-white shade of my tile: a rounded bottom makes it easy for keeping everything in one spot with out it drying out too fast!

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You’ll also need a tray of some sort to keep all these small things together in one spot so you can move it around from tile to tile. Pictured above is a funnel tray used for sorting, but the bottom or lid of an oblong take-out container would work too (like the one shown below holding the library card pull that I’m refurbishing for another project in my craft studio).

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Lastly, as I eluded above, my tile wasn’t a pure white so the touch up paint I bought was way too bright. With a little experimentation, and some grey wall paint we had left over from our reno, I was able to tone down the colour to get a pretty close match.

To start, clean the area and let it dry completely. Cut off pieces of the green tape and place it against the edges of the chip continuing around all until it’s surrounded by tape and isolated from the rest of the floor. This accomplishes two things: it keeps any paint overflow from landing on tiles that don’t need it, and it protects the face of the tile when it comes time to level out and/or sand the repair.

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If necessary, you can buy craft paints in small quantities from the dollar store to help ‘colourize’ the porcelain. You can add them into a drop of your porcelain ‘base colour’ to experiment with getting a better colour match for your tile (or use house paint like I did).

A few words of warning: you only need to mix very small amounts to fill most chips and since the porcelain dries very fast, you need to work quickly (which is why I didn’t get many picture of the process!). The porcelain is also very stinky so try to do this work when you can open a window for airflow. Each time you use a drop of porcelain glaze, make sure to put the applicator lid back into the bottle and close it tightly.

Shake the porcelain glaze well, then take the applicator brush from the bottle and dab a tiny amount of it into your mixing lid. Then take the toothpick and dab it into your paint (or paints) and add it to the lid. Stir it around with the toothpick and take note of what you’re using so you can duplicate the colour as you need it (it dries fast so you may have to mix several batches to repair all your chips, depending on their quantity and size). Once you’re satisfied you have a good match, you can start applying it to the chips.

Use the toothpick to apply your mixture; it’ll likely be thick – especially as it dries – so dab enough of it into the chip so that you’ve OVERFILLED the area. It doesn’t matter at this point if it’s not perfectly smooth because you’ll be using the straight blade later to level it.  Either clean the lid between applications or have a few new ones on hand to keep the mixture untainted by dry paint. Remix and fill any other chips as needed then let it dry for at least 24 hours to get a good bond. The tape will help you avoid walking over these areas as they dry!

Once dry, take the straight blade and hold it flush against the floor near the edge of your repair. Make sure the blade is centered on the repair so it reaches both edges if it’s a wide chip. Slide the blade along so it shaves off any overfill leaving a smooth surface. If you’re happy with the result, remove all the green tape. If for any reason there are still some voids in the repair, you can reapply again using the same steps.

The chipped tile pictured below was the biggest one I had to fill and more challenging because of its size and because it was on the edge of the tile. I overfilled it and let it dry, but then had to come back and apply more filler again so I could sand the edge with the 220-grit sandpaper and blend it (or curve it) over the edge of the tile to meet the grout.

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Here’s how it looked after the first application of filler and pass of the blade (I took the green tape off for the photograph, but you should leave it on until you’re completely finished).

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As you can see in the closeup above, it’s a pretty good colour match. You’ll never get it perfect and you will see it when you look at it this closely, but in everyday use it won’t be that noticeable.  From a distance, it blends pretty well. Once the green tape was pulled up, I couldn’t find any of the smaller repairs at all!

Once all the repairs were complete, I avoided washing the floor for about two weeks just to ensure it was well-bonded and dry.

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Here’s a reminder of how it looked before:

And here’s the kitchen now. It takes some prep work and patience but the final results were well worth it to extend the life of my floor until we can afford to replace it.

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If you’re interested in other kitchen projects, here are a few storage solutions we recently completed:

Hidden Kitchen Storage: Turn a Filler Panel into a Pull-Out Cabinet!
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The Making of a Craft Studio (IV): Progress Report

This is the fourth in a series of installments on the making of my craft studio. In my first post, I reached out to fellow bloggers and readers on Hometalk to help me decide the final layout of my craft studio.  The jury is in and I thought some of you might be interested in what I decided – even though it’s still far from being finished.

All I can say is that packing up my old studio and moving to the new space has been eye opening:

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It’s taken me so long to finalize the layout of my studio because every piece of storage was a previously loved item that was either given to me or I already owned.

Coming up with a functional layout with mismatched pieces is way more challenging than starting from scratch, however, I get satisfaction in seeing whether I can make it work – and saving perfectly usable items from the landfill!  I’m going to figure out a way to make them all cohesive (started with refacing), but for now, installing them is priority #1 – once the final electrical inspection is done.

Here is what I’ve decided for the final layout:

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I have not one, but two card catalogues to keep all the smaller stuff organized! We’ve already got the first one in place in the sewing room under the window (between where my two industrial machines will go).  I made some fresh number cards, so now I have to create all my lables.  I have 40 drawers in this one to play with, but if it’s still not enough all the overflow will go into the second card catalogue if I need it.

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I’m having some fun styling the top; my husband surprised me one day with the big letter ‘S’, but instead of hanging it, I like the way it looks on it’s side.

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The second card catalogue is made of walnut. It was stored out in a garage for many years so it’s in rough shape as compared to the oak catalogue (you can see them both below). It has the exact same pulls, however they are silver in colour as opposed to brass – and they’re a mess.  It’s going to take a lot of TLC to whip this one back into shape.

We were originally going to cut it down and make two pieces (like this blogger did) because it’s so heavy and it would be difficult move it down to the basement. However, I don’t really have enough floor space for two pieces, so it will likely remain intact.

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We had to take all the drawers apart and remove the pulls so we could give them a thorough cleaning.

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Here’s what one of the pulls looked like before and after it was restored; a big improvement, don’t you think? Only another 59 to go 😦


Once those are done, we can look forward to sanding 60 drawer fronts and the rest of the cabinet!

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For the office area of the studio, I’m planning on upcycling the door that used to be on our cold room into a floating desk — as well as a floating shelf.  Some of you may have noticed in a previous post of our basement reno (Ultimate Guide to Tiling a Laundry Room Backsplash) that we’ve been using this door as a table (with the addition of some sawhorses):

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The door is 80″ high by 32″ wide. We’ll cut it into two pieces along the length and use a 20″piece as a floating desk. I may use the remaining 12″ piece as a long floating shelf – as shown in the rendering below – or I may use it under the window shown on the right side. You can also see where I’d like to put the second card catalogue.

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I’ve been mulling over whether I should  top off the ‘desk’ with some left over plank flooring. I don’t like the leather flooring shown below, but I’d like to add in a herringbone pattern somewhere.  For some reason, I just love herringbone, so the desk top may be the place to experiment!

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If you read the DIY I posted recently on this paint chip portrait I created of my husband, you may recall that I wanted to relocate it to my studio. Where I propped it below will be a great sight line as I enter my studio.  What could be better than being greeted by my husband’s smiling face!  He’s always been my inspiration and that’s just what I need in my craft studio 🙂

The only fly in the ointment is that I planned a long floating shelf there (as you can see in the rendering two pictures above). Another option is a really cool shelf we found at an auction that would fit perfectly into the space between the upper cabinet and bulkhead. If I install either shelf though, I won’t have room for the paint chip portrait because it’s too big 😦

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The Paint Chip Portrait needs to be positioned a good distance from where it’s viewed to ‘blend’ the pixels and be fully appreciated

Did you spy the green light fixture on the pass-through window ledge above? I have a pair that we’ll be installing over the sewing machine and serger. When we first found them, they were rusty and crusty – just waiting to be resurrected.  They’re a nice vintage addition to the studio that I can’t wait to hang!

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Here’s that other shelf I mentioned earlier; it used to be part of someone’s hutch. I bought it at an auction for only $5 because it was so sad looking that no one could see the potential. Hubs didn’t like it either, but he still stripped and refinished it for me! Should I use it instead of the paint chip portrait of hubs or elsewhere?  Decisions, decisions!

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The shelf would also look good in the sewing room over my serger where I can arrange some of my serger threads on it – so that might be a practical solution for where to place it.

Here’s a rendering looking into the sewing room where the shelf could be positioned over the serger.

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For now, the shelf is sitting on the floor in the sewing room while I try to imagine how it will look and decide where it will would look best – or even fit into the space!

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Until the lower cabinets are installed and the sewing machines moved from my old studio, I’ll probably defer the final placement until then.

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I used pegboard in the space where the mirror once so I can hang some of my essentials – scissors etc.  Hubs painted the pegboard orange to match the colour of accent paint I may use for my pocket doors (seen below).

Thinking of the bottle green and the orangey stain on my maple cabinets, I chickened out from my original plan (as you’ll see below) and changed my accent colour from teal to orange. I figured orange would be a great complimentary colour to the green shade of the light fixtures and base of my pattern table.  Hubs painted up a scrap of the pegboard for the shelf so I could carry it around with me and determine if I like it enough for the doors:

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It’s funny how I have no problem choosing paint colours for everyone else, but when it comes to my own projects it’s so hard!

There are so many variables to consider in selecting the accent colour: the flooring, the colour of the hand-me-down maple cabinets (which could be painted, but I like the wood), and the color of my card catalogues (again, I don’t have the heart to paint over the wood). They all have to work with whatever I choose as an accent colour.  In retrospect, I really should have started with an inspiration board and stuck with it – even if it meant painting things I don’t want to!

The neutral space really needs a pop of colour and I’ve always loved this teal that I found adorning the doors of a retailer in a U.S. mall. The picture doesn’t really do the actual colour justice! I’m not even a huge fan of teal, but in real life this particular teal is the best balance between blue and green that I’ve ever come across.

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I’ve been wanting to use this teal from the get-go, but it would have to be custom mixed and I was nervous about how close to my expectations it would turn out. It also clashes with my bottle green light fixtures and pattern table base, which I didn’t want to paint because I like the enameled /powder coated finishes of the metal.

The orange you saw above on the pegboard was supposed to be more crimson and have more depth. Strangely enough, even though I chose a pre-formulated colour and had it mixed by a paint expert,  it didn’t even come close to the colour on the paint chip. The paint store tried to fix it, but it still isn’t quite what I wanted. Since my husband bought the base coat from a different supplier, I thought we’d be stuck with it. Turns out that the other supplier happily provided a new base – free of charge – even though they had nothing to do with colourizing it. Phew!

Now that I have a second chance I’m wondering whether I should reconsider the teal again.  I know it’s only paint, but I don’t want to make a career out of painting – or repainting – stuff either!

I’ll have to give this accent colour some further thought! Leave me a comment and let me know if you would stick with the orange or change the accent to teal… or another colour altogether!

For more storage, I’m adding these two drawer units into the craft studio/office area. They used to be a temporary storage solution for our kitchen before we renovated:

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The drawer cabinets will add additional storage space

Our contractor would’ve thrown the cabinets into the dumpster but I couldn’t let perfectly usable storage go to waste.  We never did put drawer faces on the two units, so that’s something we’ll have to get around to doing for my studio! I have something very special and incredible planned for them that no one else has ever done! You won’t want to miss my final reveal for that alone!

I also designed, and my husband built, this amazing pullout for our kitchen that never got used. It’s a more upscale version of the pullout we built in our new kitchen. One side has metal pegboard, so I can store my tools, and the other side has baskets for craft paints and such! Again, we’ll have to add a face onto it to match what we’re doing with the rest of the cabinets.

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Lastly, if I have any floor space left over after all this, I’m thinking about using at least one, if not both, of these metal retail racks. These were a real coup when another bro-in-law moved retail locations and he kindly let me have them. They were handy in my old studio so I hope I have room for them in my new space 🙂

As you can see, the craft studio is still a real work in progress.  We have to get our final electrical inspection done before we can do much more.  I can’t wait to lift all the cardboard off the floor and show you the outcome when it’s done.  Until then you might be interested in catching up on my previous posts in the Making of a Craft Studio series:

  1. The Making of a Craft Studio– Calling All Crafters: Help Me Decide the Best Layout for my New Studio
  2. The Making of a Craft Studio (II)– Design Your Space Using Ikea’s Pax Planner!
  3. The Making of a Craft Studio (III) – If You Build It, She Will Come!

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