Night Table Upcycle

How I upcycled these FREE Kijiji finds…

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When I see furniture on Kijiji with “free” in the price field, I have to admit, I’m sceptical. But these night stands turned out to be an amazing upcycle. See my post, How to Find the Best Kijiji Deals for my top three tips!

To give these nightstands a refresh I started by removing the old hardware and giving them a light sanding with 220 grit paper. The wood is a composite so I was only sanding to rough the surface and even out any minor blemishes.

I wanted to add some more interest and also raise the night stands off the floor so I bought inexpensive legs from Home Depot (about $2.50 each).

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I drilled holes into the bottom and screwed the legs into place.

 

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I primed both night stands with Benjamin Moore Advance and let it cure over night. I used Benjamin Moore Grey Owl Advance for the top coat (I applied two coats). After it was dry, I replaced the old hardware with brand new knobs.

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These tired, old night stands have new life!

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How to Find the Best Kijiji Deals

 

I LOVE to decorate and I love the challenge of a small budget just as much! It’s also so rewarding to give new life to something that’s headed for the trash.  So for my latest project, I’ve taken my second hand shopping to the next level – and learned a lot.

My favourite online second-hand store is Kijiji.

Here are my top 3 tips for finding amazing Kijiji deals;

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A few Kijiji finds in the McKay’s living room

HAVE A VISION

It’s hard to find used pieces for a good price that already have the look you want. A few searches on Pinterest will turn up tons of easy DIY projects and before and afters.  Here’s an example of a $150 Kijiji find (delivery included!) that I transformed.

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So when you’re searching Kijiji, be sure to search for the “before” picture and be prepared to take on a DIY project!

But not everything will need a DIY. Sometimes a bad photo or a dated space will take away from a great find! Just try to imagine your potential finds in a different context. For example, I recently found an accent chair, here’s how it looked in the ad.

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Here’s how it looks in my space!

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LOOK FOR QUALITY

Not everything is worth the time and effort it takes to shop second hand, this is especially true if you are planning to take on a DIY project. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller tons of questions or go to see an item before you commit to buying.

I’m leery of anything upholstered and triple check that it comes from a clean/smoke free home. Furniture can also look solid in photos but isn’t actually quality. Ask the seller how old the piece is, where they got it and if it’s solid wood. (Tip: veneer finishes don’t always mean lesser quality – I’ve found a few veneered items that were solid construction and painted up beautifully – like the bookcase above and these nightstands – see my Night Stand Upcycle post here)

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NEGOTIATE

Most sellers on Kijiji know that everything is negotiable and for the most part the list price is just a guessing game. Some sellers will want an item carried out more than they care to make a dollar – so feel the buyer out.

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I think this cabinet was a steal for $50 – I could tell the seller wanted it gone quickly so we moved fast and only offered $10 less than their asking price.

The process also requires some serious patience.  If I’m looking for a dresser I’ll search through and immediately rule out any that seem over-priced, then I will ask questions and make a low ball offer to about 2 – 3 sellers. If I’m lucky, a seller will accept, but often nothing will pan out and I will wait a few days for more sellers to post and start over.

There’s a couple times when I don’t negotiate;

  1. I know the price is already low and the seller is looking to offload immediately (in that case it’s first come first served and its super important to act fast!)
  2. The item is really rare and I know it could be months before I see something similar again – but it’s still important that the price is reasonable or what’s the point of buying second hand.

 

The more you buy on Kijiji the more you’ll know when/how to negotiate, but always remind yourself the point is to pay less and don’t be afraid to walk away at any point!

Bonus Tip

I’ve found that every market is different. Kijiji is broken up regionally and you can widen or narrow your search. I’ve had better luck in more residential, established areas.

GOOD LUCK and happy shopping!!

 

Faux Barn Beam DIY Mantel

My sister and her husband moved into a beautiful new house, with the perfect amount of projects! I’ve been busy the last couple months with some amazing DIYs. I’m so excited to share what I’ve been up to!

Their family room has a beautiful brick fireplace, already painted out by the previous owners, but the mantel was pretty underwhelming. The proportion was also off and the mantel seemed to sit a little high.

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I wanted to accomplish two things, bring the height of the mantel down visually (without moving the existing brackets) and bring the wow factor!

What would do the job better than an oversized rustic floating beam!?

I decided to create a faux beam that would fit over the existing brackets and be held in place with just a couple of screws – much easier than a real beam!

First, I took my measurements. I needed the hollow space of the faux beam to fit over the existing brackets. The brackets were 6 ½” in depth and 5 ½” in height. I cut the length of my beam boards to the same length as the existing mantel.

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Each beam board was 7” x 62” x ¾”

I brought a very rough sketch to my local hardware store and they doubled checked my measurement before making the cuts for me. Home Depot is also great at helping with projects like this!

I also cut two pieces for the ends. The depth at 7” and the height at 5 ½” (7” minus the thickness of two boards – 1 ½”)

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Assembly time!

I used wood glue and nails and had lots of assistance holding everything in place when the nails went in. A few sets of hands makes it easier to line all the edges up.

While the glue was drying I watched a couple of Youtube videos on distressing wood and gathered my tools!

Then I went for it!

(The tools and techniques recommended in the YouTube video worked really well!)

I gave the entire beam a good sanding with 220 grit then removed all the dust with a damp rag.

I used Minwax Golden Oak for the stain and applied two coats. Be very liberal with the stain so it’s able to get into the distressing marks and wipe excess off after 5-10 minutes.

To keep the wood looking natural, I sealed it with Minwax Paste Finishing Wax.

The faux beam fit perfectly over the brackets and I secured it in place with a couple of screws.

Although the top of the mantel is technically the same height as before, it’s visually lowered and definitely brings the wow factor the room needed!

Faux Barn Beam

DIY Monogram Pillow

Since decorating is kinda my thing, I wanted to live up to my reputation and get super cute Christmas gifts this year. I had my heart set on monogram pillows for my sister Beth and her boyfriend but after a few internet searches I realized they were out of my budget.

Solution? Make them myself, of course, for about $20 a pillow!

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First stop: Ikea

I bought two GURLI cushion covers and in white for $4.99 each (they come in a few colours).

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Next: Michaels

My fabric paint is called Tulip from Michaels (they almost always have 40% off coupons so check out their site before you go). The cost was around $7.00 with the coupon.

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Before starting, I gave the cushion covers a quick iron and put cardboard inside. This prevents the paint from bleeding through and provides a smooth painting surface.

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I searched “monogram stencil” in google for inspiration and then free-handed my stencil. I traced a plate to start and sketched out the initials until I was happy with how they looked.

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I cut out each letter with my X-Acto knife and traced the outline in pencil onto my cushion covers. Pay attention to where the cushion zipper is, it’s best at the bottom.

I filled in each letter with fabric paint, staring with an outline. I did two coats, letting it dry in between.

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Warning: lots of patients / touch ups may be required! It’s difficult to get a straight edge along the outline and there is always a risk of smudging! Slow and steady wins this race!

I let it dry overnight, then erased any visible pencil marks wth a clean eraser.

This is the super cute gift I was looking for  – at a super affordable price!!!

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Let me know your thoughts!

 

 

3 Key DIY Art Secrets

1.       Don’t be Original

I consider myself a fairly creative person but I struggle to paint on a whim. I save tons of ideas to Pinterest and always start a painting with an image in front of me. The key however, is not trying to replicate it; you will drive yourself crazy! At a certain point let your own instincts kick in and see where it takes you.

2.       Be Cheap!

Spending a lot on supplies can add pressure. When you feel like you only have one shot to get it right, you probably won’t.  I buy my supplies from the dollar store as much as possible. This also allows me to change it up as much as I want without feeling guilty.

3.       Stage Your Work

If you’re worried about your DIY art looking…well, like DIY art, the trick is to stage it properly. Spend a little more on a nice, timeless frame. Huge white matting makes everything look like it belongs in a gallery. But it’s also okay to embrace the DIY look and take full credit for your work! I think it always makes a space fun and stylish.

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And of course, have fun!!!

Bathroom Vanity Upcycle

Finally! A chance to upgrade dated cabinets! I’ve been waiting for a good bathroom DIY upcycle for awhile!

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The product I used can be applied directly over existing stain to darken it, but because I was trying to take a bleached oak to a grey – it wasn’t that straight forward.

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First, I removed the cabinet doors and hardware to give them a light sanding with a fine 200 grit paper.

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I worked on the inside of the doors before the front to allow for some trial and error (turns out this was a good call!)

After a couple coats (I followed the dry time on the can) I wasn’t getting the exact colour I wanted but I loved the distressed look the bleached oak was creating when it peaked through the stain.

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To deepen the grey, I bought a dark brown stain called Coffee, and topped off my can of grey stain. After two more coats on the back, the colour was right and I was ready to work on the front.

I lightly sanded between coats and fully embraced the distressed look. I applied four coats in total (on each side) and sanded one last time until I was happy with the distressing and gloss.

I spray painted the hardware a blend of copper and bronze (I may replace in the future but I’m happy for now).

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Next, I worked on the vanity frame. It appeared to be a vinyl veneer so I decided not to use the stain but instead match the stain colour with a solid paint. I cleaned it well and gave it a light sanding to help the paint stick.

TIP: Leave as much drying time as possible between the first and second coat, this allows the paint to cure and reduces the chance of chipping. I left three days between coats.

Not much of the frame is visible and once I rehung the finished doors it blended seamlessly!

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A few more projects complete the look (see my how to post on the DIY industrial light fixture and a how to post for the bathroom mirror frame is coming soon)

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Salvaged Kitchen Cruiser Bar

DIY upcycled kitchen cart

My favorite kind of DIY project is a free one! It’s especially awesome when a project gives new life to things that would otherwise be headed for the dump. This project is one of my favorites because I salvaged everything I used.

To build this charming shabby chic kitchen bar all I had to do was collect 3 items from the trash.

  1. Scrap wood (mine is from the discarded wood pile at a job site)
  2. An old crate (an emptied wine case that was gifted)
  3. Shutters (spotted these behind an apartment complex)

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First, I washed and lightly sanded the shutters and chose to keep the current paint – the distressed look was already perfect! Then I stained the crate to match the shutters.

I scrubbed, sanded, stained and sealed my scrap wood. It was already cut to the perfect size (this project was meant to be!)

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Then it was a matter of using a few screws and a couple more pieces of scrap wood to assemble the cruiser bar.

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I love the look but I am even more excited that I saved a few great finds from the trash!

Let me know your thoughts!

$20 DIY Industrial Light Fixture

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I love all of the amazing DYI bathroom makeovers I see on my favourite blogs and my new place could definitely use a bathroom refresh!

My starting point? The dated, contractor grade light fixture above the sink. My budget – $20.

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To achieve the industrial style, I started by removing the finials on each side of the fixture and replaced them with 1 inch plumping caps that you can find at any box store. I got mine at Home Depot for $1 each!20160819_180314

The existing finials were a little to ornate to pass as industrial – but the fix was super easy and very inexpensive!

The frosted glass shades also needed to go and I was inspired by the caged bulb look I’ve seen on some very expensive fixtures. To replicate the look inexpensively I started with three hard plastic cages from Home Depot for just under $5 apiece.

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Just $5 each!

All it took to make this look like an expensive custom fixture was a little spray paint. I had these in my supplies already but they are around $10 each to buy new (you get quite a few projects out of them).  Make sure you cover all areas that shouldn’t be sprayed.

For the fixture base I used two light coats of bronze and for the cages I used an under coat of aged copper and a light coat of bronze on top. I did this to create a little contrast.

The cages tightened onto the existing base with tiny screws that were included and then it was time to reinstall.

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I love the look and can’t wait to share the rest of my bathroom makeover!

 

 

Easy Refinishing Cheat – Dresser Makeover

In need of a more functional night table with tons of storage, I decided to give new life to an old and overlooked dresser buried in the garage.

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This dresser was already primed (a forgotten project from the past) so all it needed was a fresh coat of paint and a hardware update, but I wanted to add some additional visual interest.

My plan was to strip the dresser’s top and stain the raw wood but I quickly discovered that the dresser was veneered and there was too much damage to salvage it.

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Really set on a stained wood top, I bought a piece of 1′ craft pine at Home Depot and had them cut it to the correct measurements to fit over the existing top.

I gave it a good sanding and finished with two coats of stain and two coats of sealer.

I used wood glue to adhere it onto the dresser and the result was the paint/stain contrast I envisioned.

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Please leave questions or comments below!

 

Muskoka Inspired Pallet Wood Hanger

Muskoka Pallet Hanger

Always on a quest for clever storage solutions, I’m naturally attracted to the fun and funky knobs and hooks that are so popular right now!

On vacation recently in the Muskoka’s I came across an adorable collection and couldn’t resist buying a few.

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Turning them into a cute rack for loose accessories and sweaters was super easy!

  1. First I cut and sanded some scrap pallet wood. I deconstructed an aged pallet a while back so I pulled from my stock pile.20160716_200046
  2. Drill the holes necessary for the hardware (two of these pieces are knobs and two are hooks so they needed to be mounted differently). Pallets are hardwood so it’s important to drill your pilot hole first.
  3. I spray painted the tip of the screws that would be facing outward to match the hardware and then it was assembly time!

  4. I drilled a couple extra holes into the hanger to mount it onto the wall and the result – a cute a kitschy hanger for those sweaters that can never seem to find a home.

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