Maximizing Bathroom Space

Today, I’m showing you a renovation we recently completed in my Mom’s house. As I showed you in a previous bathroom transformation, renovating a bathroom gives you the ideal opportunity to maximize the space you already have. Mom’s bathroom had never been updated in the 30 years she’s owned the house so it was high time for a reno. For us, it was just as important to make the sure the space was as functional for Mom as it was beautiful.

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Mom didn’t want another beige coloured bathroom yet she was insistent on keeping the old beige bathtub which gave us a narrow focus on our tile selections.

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I was happy with her decision: if something is still functional, I always try to keep it and work around it because it’s the sustainable thing to do!  Keeping the beige tub in mind, I managed to pull together a nice palette to make the bathroom look fresh.

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I was able to make the beige bathtub work by by finding a neutral floor tile in an off white with a slight streak of beige running through it. Although it reads more like a white, the slight streak of beige really ties in the old beige tub and pulls it all together.

Below you can see the floor tile against the field and accent tile we used for the tile surround. We’ll use the colour of the blue accent tile to paint the existing vanity, which was the only other original element of the bathroom, besides the tub, that we kept.

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Two inch tile for the shower floor is an ideal size to accommodate the curve of the floor toward the drain, but can I tell you how hard it was to find a decent variety of tiles in that size? At the 11th hour, we finally found a dark grey hexagon pattern which helps to ground the starkness of the white tile on the floor and shower walls.

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You can see the grey shower floor in the picture below and the original vanity base – which we kept because it was sized to fit perfectly into the alcove and was in good condition.

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One thing to note is that we have started to replace all the light bulbs in Mom’s house with LEDs and the bathroom is no exception. It will save her a substantial amount of money on energy costs!

Here’s a before and after of the vanity area with updated with new mirror, lighting, quartz countertop, sink and faucet. The vanity is still a work in progress; it will be painted blue to pull in the tile surround on the bathtub and the hardware will be replaced with a more modern silver metal pull. The holidays have a habit of putting finishing touches like that on hold!

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A tip that I gave you in my last bathroom makeover that I’ll give you again is to get rid of any bulkheads above the bathtub and shower areas. You can see how removing them really opens up the space!

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Here’s another before and after comparison of the bath area that demonstrates how much more expansive it looks without the bulkhead:

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The lighter colour scheme also helps make the bathroom appear larger:

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Another useful tip to open up the space if you have one of those ‘corner’ showers, is to knock down the back wall and go deep. Originally there was a tiny little cubicle of a shower stall; Mom was in real trouble if she dropped the soap! Below you can see that we removed the original back wall and made it flush to the wall of the tub. We also opened up a ‘window’ between the shower and tub to let the light flood in (which will be fitted out with glass when the shower door gets installed).

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Increasing the size of the shower allowed us to add a bench seat for Mom (and of course a grab bar to help her get up!)

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It also allowed us to fit in a rain shower head as well as a hand held sprayer too.

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A nice finishing detail is a shower niche to hold soap and shampoo. Its a huge improvement over the metal soap dish that was originally there! Which would you rather have?

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Happily, Mom wasn’t as attached to the beige toilet as she was to the bathtub. Both technology and looks have come a long way in the last 30 years and a one-piece low flow toilet is the way to go!

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Here’s how the new finishes look now. It’s a calm relaxing space!

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Once the glass for the shower surround went in, Mom was finally able to enjoy the new space to its fullest.

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If this new bathroom space has inspired you, please pin and post on Facebook. You might also want to check out some of our previous bathroom renos:

Reclaim and Maximize Space in Your Bathroom:

Colour Scheme

Powder Room Makeover – Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

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Festival of Lights: How to Make an Oil Menorah & Wicks!

Hubs and I have been on a journey this year to lead a more sustainable life, so I challenged myself to make not only an oil menorah, but the wicks as well, out of nothing but found objects around our home. Check out my very first YouTube tutorial of this project near the end of this post!

For the display itself, I used our Ikea SATSUMAS plant stand. It has a heat resistant metal top that is perfect for burning the menorah. We temporarily moved our herb plants so I could play with the setup before Hanukkah.

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The tricky part was going to be figuring out how to make the wicks; I wanted to create something that would be re-usable, cheap, readily available and would burn safely. I experimented so much with the wicks over the past two weeks that I was beginning to think I wouldn’t have this tutorial ready in time for Hannukah! However, there was one wick that passed all my requirements with flying colours that I can’t wait to show you!

My wicks will work not only for Hanukkah, but for burning oil candles any time of year; you could adapt this for Christmas too! All you need is some tin foil, nine K-cups (the kind used in single use coffee machines), cotton twine and a nine metal snaps (you’ll only need the post). I’m proud to say it’s the most sustainable thing I’ve crafted to-date!

Making the Menorah

A few years ago Hubs found an entire box of shot glasses in the garbage. He was going to donate it to our local thrift store and even put it in the car, but kept forgetting to drop it off. Luckily he mentioned it to me because the shot glasses were a great starting point for the Menorah. Although the glasses had advertising on them, I knew I could still work with them.

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I needed 9 glasses in total (including one for the ‘Shamash’ that acts as a servant candle to light the others and re-light in case one blows out).

The Shamash needs to sit higher than the rest. To accomplish that I removed an old candle from a shallow glass holder and washed the glass so I could put it under the Shamash and raise it above the others.

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If you’re going to do this project, pick up some glass vessels from your local thrift store. It doesn’t matter what they look like, because we going to fix that!

Decorating the Shot Glasses

I wanted to add some sparkle so I incorporated metallic elements onto the glass – and hid the advertising in the process! Below you can see a side-by-side comparison.

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To add alternating squares of silver and gold, you’ll need to gather up some clear double-sided tape, rub-on silver and gold foil, painters tape, a pencil, scissors, paper cutter, and the glossy paper backing from a sheet of labels or self laminating cards.

Place a piece of 1/2″ painters tape over the glossy side of the lable backing and mark 1/2″ increments on the tape with a pencil. The green tape is only there to help see where to mark it since the glossy side is too slick and the reverse side is pretty busy.

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Cut the strip of tape into 1/2″ squares with the paper cutter and peel off the green tape.

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You’ll end up with the white squares shown below. Also cut some strips of silver and gold foil slightly wider than 1/2″:

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To prevent the glass from rolling as I worked, I used a curved piece of wood I had, but you could also nestle it into a towel to keep it steady.

Measure a piece of  the double-sided tape to the length of the graphic you want to cover; 2″ was perfect for my shot glasses so I could create four 1/2″ squares with the foil. Apply the double sided tape right over the graphic on the glass. If you’re piece is too long, trim it back to 2″ using an X-acto knife.

You can see right through the tape, but not for long!

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Take the square pieces cut earlier and apply two of them to the clear tape – glossy side down – leaving a 1/2″ space in between (you can use one of the squares as a spacer as shown below). The squares will stick temporarily to the tape and act as a mask where you don’t want the foil.

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Apply the silver foil (dull side down) to the first exposed square and rub it well to adhere it to the tape. Carefully peel it back to expose the foil that’s stuck to the double-sided tape. Move on to the next exposed square with the same colour of foil and adhere it in the same way. If there are any spots that were missed, you can rub a fresh piece of foil onto those areas to fill in, but it doesn’t have to be perfect!

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1st square receives silver coloured foil

Once the first two squares are done, remove the white squares that are still covering the tape. Apply the gold foil to those remaining squares. You’ll end up with alternating silver and gold metallic squares.

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Gold being applied to 2nd square

Alternating squares of silver and gold are complete and oh so blingy!

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If you have a straight glass, you could do this foil treatment all the way around if you wish. My shot glasses are angled so I couldn’t apply the tape in a straight line around the entire glass without wrinkling it.

A big advantage with this method (if you opt for cheap double-sided tape from the dollar store) is that the metallic feature can easily be removed to restore the glass just by removing the tape!

Now that the glasses are out of the way, it’s on to the wicks!

Making and Testing the Wicks

I scouted the house for items I could use and found a roll of cotton twine and some metal snap components (you’ll only need the post part that’s shown on the right).
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To that I added some tin foil, a metal skewer and a used K-cup that was headed for the garbage (good thing I started drinking coffee again). I tried many different experiments with other variations and was pleasantly surprised that this one worked so well! It may seem a bit far fetched that these few components are going to create a sustainable wick, but if you follow the steps below you’ll end up with a beautiful display of light like I did.

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1. Tear off the top to open up the K-cup and expose the spent coffee grounds.

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2. There are many ways to recycle used coffee grounds (see this link for 14 great ideas). Wash the K-cup and cut the sides off it down to just the bottom + 1/16″ around the edge so you have a bit of a lip.

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3. Use an X-acto knife to cut an ‘X’ through the middle so you can insert a piece of cotton twine for the wick. I inserted the Xacto knife in the middle and then rocked it back and forth to each of the four corners of the ‘X’; I found that this gave me a precision cut.

Don’t worry about the original hole in the K-cup; the whole thing will get wrapped in foil.

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4. Wrap the plastic disk in foil. The picture below shows the disk face down – all the ends of foil get wrapped to the back. Poke a hole through the middle of the foil where the ‘X’ is in the plastic using a metal skewer (or you could even use a toothpick).

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5. Fill a shot glass about 3/4 full with water and then add in 1/2″ of olive oil into the water (the oil will float on top). Olive oil is a great option for the ‘fuel’; it burns clean and has no odor. There’s no need to buy extra virgin olive oil – regular cooking oil works just fine.

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6. Cut a piece of cotton twine to about the height of the glass and soak it in olive oil; I soaked it in the remaining oil in the spoon and allowed it to absorb for the tutorial, but will soak all the wicks at once assembly-style for the real set-up. Add more oil if you need it to be sure it’s thoroughly saturated. I have to say, with all the soaking I’ve done in olive oil, my hands have never looked so good!

Insert the ‘wick’  through the hole in the foil so some will be below the water line and some above the foil disk. Note: the wick that’s below the waterline can be cut back to only the depth of the oil; it doesn’t need to extend into the water as shown on the video.  You may need the skewer again to help poke it through – or if you have a wide eyed needle that you can thread, even better! Float the disk on top of the water/oil combo in the glass; note that the rim of the disk should now be facing upward.

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7. Lastly, use the post portion from a metal stud and insert it on top of the foil disk, threading the wick through the centre of the post (DO NOT SUBSTITUTE PLASTIC FOR THE METAL):Stud with post_bof.jpg

Finally, it’s time to light it. My lighter ran out of fuel when I took this shot and just singed the wick, so I used my backup to light it.

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Success the second time; the ‘wick’ (aka cotton twine) lit beautifully!

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I transferred the shotglass to the SATSUMAS stand to see how it would look; it burned there for at least an hour! To further enhance the display, I added a Star of David around the Shamash and magnets that spell ‘Hanukkah’ onto the vertical face of the metal top. If I have time I may apply the same foil rubbed treatment to the letters too!

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The foil disks bounce the light around and make it look magical. The foil also enhances the metallic foil that’s decorating the shot glasses. When I do another test before Hanukkah, I think I might line up the water level with the top of the metallic band around the glass. Once I see how that looks when it’s lit, I’ll decide the final water level.

My measurements may be different than yours because of the size of glass you use so if you are going to make this project for Hanukkah, be sure to test your own oil/water/glass container ratios to ensure your vessels will burn for at least 30 minutes every day and one-and-a-half hours on Friday evening (for Shabbat).

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This oil menorah is an upcycle that you can use over and over (but of course, you’ll need to replace the cotton twine for the wick each time). Don’t forget to soak the wicks in oil first before you light them and only use a metal snap.

Here is the menorah ready to add the wicks and oil to; I can’t wait to see it fully lit over the eight days of Hanukkah!

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Be sure to check out the video of this tutorial on YouTube: Hanukkah Menorah Video Tutorial.

For those interested in the story and history behind Hannukah, you can read a bit about it in this recent article. This year, the first night of Hanukkah falls on December 24th.

Happy Hannukah to those who celebrate and happy holidays to all! If I don’t post again this year, I’ll see you right back here at Birdz of a Feather in the New Year!

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A DIY Gift of Decor: Staircase Niche Picture Ledge

This year’s reno project has been finishing off the basement. We completed my craft studio and have been working on the mancave to finish that off too. A few months ago, hubs surprised me with a gift he made for the stairway leading into the basement. Although the basement stairs have yet to be finished, he made me a picture ledge so I could display some of my photography and have something pretty to look at in the meantime!

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Hubs tore off all the old drywall to start fresh and gain every inch of space he could. Here is the stairwell in progress:

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On one side of the stairway, hubs built up the depth of the ledge. Below, you can see two views looking up and down the stairs. Most people would just keep the drywall flush all the way up the wall, but this way we’d gain some display space with less chance of accidentally knocking down our decor as we brush by.

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Once the drywall was complete and the walls primed, we thought it would be nice to add a picture ledge so we went to browse at Ikea in anticipation of when it would be painted. Ikea had two different picture ledge configurations we liked; one with a smooth base and the other with a routed groove to hold smaller items (both examples are shown below).

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However, because of the length of our wall, we would’ve had to piece together two ledges. I didn’t like the idea of having a seam in the middle and a leftover space at the end. That’s when hubs decided to surprise me with a custom-made picture ledge.

When you’re making this project, the rail can be cut to whatever length you want. Keep in mind though as you determine the depth of your rail that there will be 1/2″ of material on either side when it’s sandwiched together, so you have to take that into account when you’re determining your final measurements.

Because it was a surprise, I don’t have step-by-step pictures, but you can follow the plan shown below for inspiration. All hubs did was take 1/2″ MDF (but you could also use wood) and cut three pieces to the length of our ledge. He didn’t miter the corners like the Ikea example; he simply used butt joints. He cut the front piece about 1 1/8″ high, the bottom 2 1/2″ wide and the back about 2″ high.

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I didn’t show the groove in the diagram above because that step is optional, but hubs ran a router along the bottom piece through the centre, then primed all the pieces. The base was sandwiched between the front and back (with the router notch face-up) and joined together by gluing and using a pin nailer to attach the pieces. Once everything was nailed, he filled and sanded all the nail holes then painted with the same colour as our wall paint so it would all blend in seamlessly.

Hubs promised me a mock-up so I’ll update this post with a picture as soon as I have it.

UPDATE: here is the mock-up as promised; hubs outdid himself and provided more than one!.   The following mock-ups show 1) the v-groove routed into the MDF, 2) how the piece will look once it’s pin-holed together and finally, 3) a shot of the painted mock-up:

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In a little over a month, hubs took the stairway space from this….

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Don’t you just love the masking tapes shoes to protect from drywall dust?

…. to this after it was painted. It’s already a huge improvement for such a small area, don’t you think? There’s still more transformation to come when we tackle the stairs. We’re going to work with what we have and see what we can come up with. We’ll entertain any and all suggestions in the comment area. The stairs should be a fun project!

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Hubs could have made the ledge the same depth as the drywall but I like that it was set back because drywall is never perfect (even with Hub’s level 5 finish!) and any discrepancies are not noticeable this way!

The beauty of this project is that it’s cheap and you can make it any length and depth your heart desires! You also have the choice of any paint, finish or substrate you want. Whatever you can imagine is possible and it will be a unique piece in your home by the time you’re done. It’s so satisfying to  make something with your own two hands; it really doesn’t get any easier than this!

You can velcro the picture ledge in place for added security if you wish, but we just left it sitting on the drywall; the weight will keep it in place. If you don’t have a niche, like we do, you could also screw it into the wall in the traditional way.

For more inspirational decor projects check out our Bridge Lamp Makeovers:

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and Pheonix Rising:

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Our most recent renovation post shows you how we knocked down a wall and opened up our space in our dining room, taking it from this…

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…to this:

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If you liked this project, please pin and share on Facebook. Follow us right here on Birdz of a Feather or Bloglovin’ if you’re interested in upcoming home renovation or decor posts.

And if you’re interested in crafts, be sure to follow my sister site, Birdz of a Feather craft. I’ll have a ton of fun and interesting ideas in the new year, starting with this Blue Jean Planter:

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Bulkheads: Uncharted Territory

Most people wouldn’t think to explore the uncharted territory some of us have above our kitchen cabinets.  Bulkheads: whether you love them or hate them, sometimes you have no choice but to live with them (that’s where builders tend to hide electrical and mechanical runs).

When hubs cut some exploratory holes into our bulkheads several months before we undertook a kitchen renovation to see if we could take them down, we were disappointed to find out the answer was ‘no’. Since we planned to renovate soon anyway, he didn’t bother to repair the holes in the drywall. It left an eyesore that immediately drew my attention whenever I walked into the room. To remedy the situation until it was time to renovate, I thought why not utilize this often overlooked space by creating something fun and whimsical to hide the holes?

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Hubs and I don’t like to take ourselves too seriously (afterall, laughter is the best medicine!), so I was inspired to immortalize our day-to-day antics. On Christmas, I surprised hubs with a series of 17 kitchen-themed cartoon canvasses mounted on the bulkhead above our kitchen cabinets.

Here’s a closeup of just one of the canvasses I mounted on the bulkhead. They all had a ‘film-strip’ effect border because I butt them up against each other to look like a movie of our day-to-day lives in and around the kitchen.

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I had fun creating them using the Bitstrips app on Facebook, but Bitstrips has since been removed. I’ve been in withdrawal ever since; anyone else miss Bitstrips?

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I realize that cartoons are not everyone’s cup of tea, but this project really added a lot of quirky personality to the bulkhead and was a real conversation starter – and let’s face it, it was only temporary so why not have some fun? I think life’s too short to NOT inject a little humour into your living space every once in a while.

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All it took to create them was a home printer and a few other items. Even though Bitstrips no longer exists, all is not lost if you’d still like to experiment with printed 8″ x 10″canvasses. Check out my tutorial on how to print canvass with a home computer in the ‘Inspire’ post (shown below). Instead of cartoons, you could adorn your bulkheads with family pictures, famous quotes – or anything else your heart desires!  

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If you’ve seen the transformation of our kitchen in previous posts, you’ll know that the cartoons are long gone from the bulkheads – they served their purpose. While the kitchen now has a more sophisticated look, we’ve redirected our sense of fun to other areas of the house! Recently, I resurrected the cartoons in our office when I undertook a one-hour reorganization of the space using a metal storage tower:

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Even though the cartoons are no longer on a bulkhead, I still quite liked the idea of adding an interesting touch onto a bulkhead somewhere else. Below you can see we recently turned our attention to hubs’ newly built mancave and installed an airplane propeller over the entrance. To me it says, ‘you are now entering the mancave’, without the blatancy of a sign:

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Anyway, a little food for thought. Next time you look up and see that blank space staring back at you, think about all the creative ways you might add a little interest to YOUR bulkhead.

In case you’re wondering, the holes in the bulkhead are now nicely patched and here’s how the kitchen looks these days (followed by a two of our popular kitchen projects).

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Ikea Kitchen Cart Hack

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Hidden Kitchen Storage: Turn a Filler Panel into a Pull-Out Cabinet:

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If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share!

Now that the majority of our house is ‘done’, I’m turning my attention to craft projects. If you haven’t already explored my new site, visit Birdz of a Feather ~ Craft Rehab. Shown below are just a few of the projects I’ve done…….

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….. and here’s a project I just launched this week. It’s a Vertical Garden made from recycled Soda Bottles!. It’s easy on the budget and surprisingly beautiful given its humble beginnings 🙂

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Follow us right here on Birdz of a Feather or Bloglovin’ (links below) if you’re interested in upcoming home renovation or decor posts and BOF Craft Rehab for sustainable craft ideas.

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