Three simple ways to refresh your home

The One Room Challenge continues this month, and I’ve been inspired to revisit some of my previous ORC rooms.

I still love all of the spaces that I did through the ORC. But with any space, time can take a toll. Maybe your needs change, things get worn, or you can add something to make the room new again.

Here are my tips on easy ways to freshen up a room.


The laundry room was my very first One Room Challenge. The black and white colour scheme and shaker cabinets still feel pretty current. The pipe drying rack and towel bar work really well. I love the style and the function of the whole space.

Black and white shaker cabinets with chrome hardware in the laundry room

But there’s some lint gathering on the floor, cobwebs in the corners and detergent drops on the counter. A good cleaning will make the room feel fresh and make me like it even more.

I’ll also be spending some time in the guest room (aka my sewing room 2.0). My original office/craft room was the ORC project, not the guest room where my sewing machine has lived since Ellie arrived. But I need an excuse to motivate me to sort the paperwork that’s been piled on top of the filing cabinet.


The master bedroom was my second One Room Challenge. The DIY headboard, wallpapered closet doors and repainted dresser have all held up really well. But a few fixes are needed.

Audubon print of a heron in my bedroom

The guide fell off of my nightstand drawer, so now every time I pull out the drawer, it drops and will crash to the floor if I don’t catch it. Hammering the guide back onto the drawer should be a very simple repair.

The second repair comes from not doing things properly the first time. When I hung the Audubon prints on either side of our beds, I skipped adding a picture wire across the back of the frame, and instead simply hung the frame itself from nails tapped into the wall. The picture frames have bent from the weight–it’s not a good look. I’ll be adding wires and rehanging the pictures, and hopefully the frames will return to their rectangular shape.

Also on the list? Rebalancing the washing machine and a paint touch-up in the laundry room,


Sometimes after living with a space–even one you love–for awhile you realize there’s something missing. Our dining room is our most recent ORC, completed just this spring. I hoped to build doors for the upper section of our china cabinet during the makeover, but ran out of time.

White china cabinet in the dining room

The ORC goes so fast that there are often parts of a makeover that don’t get done. Even though I’m not participating in the ORC, watching everyone’s projects motivates me to return to the dining room and maybe finally build the doors.

I also have some other ideas for simple updates. In our bedroom, I’m going to freshen up our bedding with some new pillow cases. And in the laundry room, I’d like to sew a faux roman shade for the window.

One of the best parts of the One Room Challenge and other room makeovers is that you end up with a new beautiful space. These simple updates can ensure that you continue to enjoy your space for years to come.

Are you revisiting any room makeovers that you’ve done in the past? What tweaks do you want to make in your home?


Summer to-do list

Summer officially arrives this evening. While I have grand plans of sunshine and hammocks and hikes and gardens and lots of time outdoors, I also have a handful of projects that I’ve been saving up for my favourite season.

Build a closet in the basement

Enamel basins and infant sleepers hanging in the laundry room

Our house has fabulous storage. However, none of it is a match for my husband. I’m not sure Matt’s office ever successfully contained all of his stuff. Over the winter I had a brainwave. Remove some of the cabinets that are tucked between the dryer and the freezer in the laundry room (they’re already filled with his stuff anyway) and replace them with a full height closet. I think I can just about triple his storage space. And it should be a pretty simple build with some basic framing, drywall, bi-fold doors and shelves.

Sand scrabble tiles

Scrabble art for the basement

Source: insideways

One of my Home Goals for 2016 is adding some art to the basement. Going with our fun and games theme, I want to DIY some Scrabble tiles. I’ve had the wood cut for months. Months, I tell you. I just need to sand them and then paint the letters. Sanding sounds like a good way to enjoy some time outside in the sunshine, doesn’t it?

Strip paint off the guest room bed

Robin's egg blue country guest room

The only thing missing from our beautiful guest room makeover is a proper bedframe. I have a great rustic metal frame in the barn, but the finish isn’t the greatest. I’m planning to strip it back to bare metal and see what it looks like. Paint stripping is an outdoor job IMO, so another good way to enjoy the outdoors.

Makeover office cabinet

Vintage china cabinet

Last week, you saw the china cabinet I’ve bought for my office and heard about my plans to rebuild the upper hutch. I’m so excited to have my office organized that I can’t wait to get started on this project. However, I have to put this lower down on the list, as other projects have been hanging around much longer. So this one’s a maybe summer project.

Puttering on some projects, keeping up with the gardens and relaxing on the farm. That’s my recipe for a good summer.

What’s your recipe? Do you have a summer to-do list? What are you looking forward to this season?

Hardboard and six favourite projects

There’s one material that I go to over and over for DIY projects: hardboard.


Hardboard is an engineered wood product also known as high-density fibreboard. Wikipedia says that it’s “made out of exploded wood fibers that have been highly compressed.” I’m not sure what exploded wood fibres are. By the time hardboard gets to the store, it has little resemblance to wood. It’s more like a super heavy-duty, super smooth cardboard. The main resemblance to typical construction materials is that hardboard comes in 4×8-foot sheets.

It’s less than a quarter inch thick, fairly light-weight, and cuts and bends easily. Sometimes it’s cut to other sizes than 4×8, finished with white on one side, or it’s also the material for pegboards.


Here are some of my favourite projects with hardboard:

Living room bookshelves – Hardboard makes a very sturdy back for shelves and bookcases. But it’s thin and fairly lightweight, so it doesn’t add bulk to furniture.

Monograms – Letters and words are popular decor trends. Hardboard is easy to cut with a jigsaw, won’t break or crack like solid wood, and is light enough to hang on a wall or sit on a shelf. I’ve found a quick pass of fine sandpaper can be helpful to smooth cut edges.

Ampersand monogram made out of hardboard

Ampersand monogram made out of hardboard

Doors and cabinet makeovers – Faced with boring slab doors in the basement and on the laundry room cabinets, I used strips of hardboard to transform them into barn doors and shaker-style cabinets. I was blown away by how successful the transformation was. I still love these doors. Plus the makeover saved us from spending money on new doors.

Making slab doors into barn doors

Score-keeping chalkboard – Hardboard is super smooth, and with a good primer and a foam roller, it takes paint very well. So I gave a sheet of hardboard a coat of chalkboard paint for a 6-foot tall, but very lightweight and easy to move chalkboard. Much lighter than actual chalkboard.

Cabinet door repair – Our kitchen needs a renovation, but until that day, we’re trying to hold things together however we can. Hardboard to the rescue once again. The cabinet door under the sink was separating from its frame. Backing it with hardboard has seen us through the last three years.

Holding a kitchen cabinet together with hardboard

Nightstand to dresser makeover – This dresser is one of my all-time favourite projects. Combining two nightstands into one dresser worked very well, but the join was very ugly. A panel of hardboard covered the seam and didn’t add much bulk to my narrow dresser.

I continue to find more uses for hardboard. And I’d love to hear if you’ve used it yourself. Any projects to share? What’s your go-to construction material?

Laundry room rug – Ikea hack

Three Ikea Signe rugs made into a runner in the laundry room

I finally found a rug for the laundry room… or rather, three rugs.

It was hard to figure out the exact dimensions that would work in this room. With jig and jogs around cabinetry and laundry machines and the drying rack, the rug could only be so wide. But it was a relatively long room. Did I want the rug to go just in front of the washer and dryer? Just in front of the sink? All the way from wall to wall?

I eventually decided that it made sense to have a rug in front of the sink, the washer and the dryer.

Three Ikea Signe rugs made into a runner in the laundry room

But then came the question of material. I liked the idea of a natural jute rug, but I wasn’t confident I’d find one that met my measurements for a price I was willing to pay. I’ve seen some great antique and vintage patterned rugs on other blogs, but, again, price was a factor and availability is always challenging

Then, during an Ikea trip, I came across Signe.

It was a fairly natural tone with pops of black and red, two accents I used a bit in the laundry room.

Plus it was cheap: $2.99.

Three Ikea Signe rugs made into a runner in the laundry room

The downside was it was short. One rug was less than 3 feet long. But for $2.99, I could buy three.

At home, I laid them out in the laundry room. This just might work.

After an afternoon spent ripping off fringe and some time spent with my sewing machine, I had a runner the exact dimensions I needed–8 feet long by 22 inches wide.

I used a wide zig-zag stitch to join the rugs end-to-end, doing my best to match the stripes.

Three Ikea Signe rugs made into a runner in the laundry room

The result was the right colours, the right size and the right price. It’s a nice finishing touch in the laundry room.

Three Ikea Signe rugs made into a runner in the laundry room

How to clean a stainless steel sink

Whoever coined the term “stainless steel” was stretching a wee bit, in my humble opinion. Or else he never lived in the country. Here at the farm, where our water flows through a chemistry set before it ever reaches the taps, stainless steel is definitely not stainless.

Behold the laundry room sink.

How to clean a stainless steel sink (before)

Now, I will admit that I wash more paintbrushes than laundry in this sink. However, beyond the paint spatters, there are watermarks, film and just a general dullness.

In my sparkly new laundry room, this would not do.

I tried various methods to clean it.

Every cleanser I own. Nope.

Every cleanser I own with lotsa, lotsa elbow grease. Nope.

Pinterest remedies like a vinegar-soaked paper towel wrap. Nope.

How to clean a stainless steel sink

Nothing could break through the dullness and bring back the shine.

Then, about a year ago, I saw a tweet from Jordana at White Cabana mentioning Universal Stone. I bought it mainly for my silver, which it polished fairly well. However, as I read the back of the container, one phrase jumped out at me: “stainless steel.”

Might as well give it a try.

Using Universal Stone to clean a stainless steel sink

Gentle readers, the clouds parted, the seas calmed, the heavens shone… and so did my sink. There’s even a reflection!

How to clean a stainless steel sink

Turns out my so-called “stainless” steel sink had some kind of tarnish on it.

How to clean a stainless steel sink

It still took lotsa elbow grease, and the finish still isn’t perfect, but it’s a heckuva lot better than it was before. Oh, and I still don’t believe in stainless steel.

Do you believe in stainless steel? Any cleaning tips to share? Who else washes more paint brushes than laundry?

And a disclaimer: The Universal Stone people have no idea who I am. I bought my own Universal Stone with my own money.

Two new feet

A neat thing about having a blog is that people know a lot of what’s going on in my life. Sometimes it weirds me out when people start talking to me seemingly out of the blue about something that I mention on the blog. Most of the time though it’s a neat way to stay connected with people I don’t get to see all that often. When Matt’s aunt came to our house for our annual month-before-Christmas party, she brought a perfect gift for us: some fun additions for the laundry room–these wooden sock forms. Vintage wooden sock stretchers Matt’s aunt is an avid vintage and antique shopper. Fortunately for us, she’s also a regular blog reader. So when she saw these wooden sock forms, she thought of our laundry room makeover and decided to give them to us for Christmas. They fit in perfectly with the rest of the eclectic art in the laundry room and echo the wood accents we have elsewhere. Vintage wooden sock stretchers Something else I like is that these feet aren’t a pair. One is a bit bigger than the other, so there’s basically one for Matt and one for me.

What are some favourite vintage pieces you’ve used in your decorating? Do you decorate your laundry room? Who else has relatives who shop for them?

My spin on a clothespin light

A lot of people had compliments for the clothespin light fixture in the laundry room.

Clothespin light in the laundry room

I can’t take credit for the idea or even the execution. I was inspired by this light from Young House Love.

I followed their tutorial pretty closely, and it was super easy. However, I did one thing differently and learned a couple of lessons along the way. I thought it might be helpful to share.

First the lessons.

I chose to do the same zigzag pattern that John and Sherry did. In their tutorial, they mention alternating squares. However, what they didn’t say is that they also skipped a row of wire between each row of pins. If you look closely at the pictures in the YHL post, you’ll be able to see the pattern. Skipping every other row gives a comfortable amount of space between the pins so that they lay at a nice angle all the way down the shade. And this makes the great pattern on the ceiling when it’s lit up.

Clothespin light fixture

And talking about laying at an angle, in the YHL post, Sherry emphasized that it’s important to have an even number of squares around the top to maintain the pattern all the way around the shade. However, she didn’t talk about how many squares there should be from top to bottom. I nearly trimmed the bottom row of mesh off my shade because I had an empty row of squares. However, if I’d done that, my bottom row of clothespins would have hung straight down while all the other ones sat at an angle. Having an extra row of wire at the bottom holds the pins on the angle. So, while you want an even number around the shade, you want an odd number from top to bottom.

Clothespin light fixture

And now for what I did differently.

My light is closer to a flush mount than the YHL pendant. I used an old single socket lamp holder that I had lying around as the actual light. You can’t get more basic than that. Or cheaper. (Or, let’s be honest, uglier).

Keyhole light fixture

It took me a little while to figure out how to attach the shade to the light. I didn’t love the cup hooks on the YHL fixture. My solution was to run two pieces of wire loosely across the top of the shade. I then looped each wire around the screws in the lamp holder. It’s pretty much invisible, unless you’re standing directly underneath the fixture looking up.

Clothespin light fixture

The YHL light used 320 pins. Mine has 288. The final dimensions are 64 squares around and 17 from top to bottom. The overall dimensions of the drum shade are 11 inches high by 14 inches in diameter.

I love that I have a light fixture made out of clothespins in the laundry room. Even better, I love how it looks. Thanks John and Sherry for the inspiration.

Have you ever made anything out of clothespins? Have you made your own light fixture?

Linking up to #DIYLightingChallenge

8 tips for building furniture out of pipe

Pipe furniture is really popular these days. In the laundry room, you saw how I used pipe fittings to build the hanging rack and towel bar. Along the way, I learned a few lessons that I’m going to pass on to you.

8 tips for building furniture out of pipe

1. Pipe fittings are really easy to work with. The pieces go together very quickly. Assembling the towel bar probably took all of 10 minutes. I loved lego as a kid (who am I kidding, I still do), and this was like revisiting my childhood.

Towel rack made out of pipe fittings

2. Pipe fittings are oily. The fittings come in black or galvanized options. I chose the black because it looks more rustic to me. However, the black coating rubs off really easily.

Oil and rust rubbed off of pipe fittings

Before I could do anything with the fittings, I had to clean them. Some people online recommended degreaser, which I’m sure would have worked. I didn’t have any so I tried 2 other options: wiping them down with vinegar (didn’t really work) and washing them with dish detergent. The washing worked. I dried the pipes with a rag and let them sit for 24 hours to make sure the threads and interior of the pipes were completely dry before I did anything with them.

Washing the oil off of pipe fittings

3. Pipe fittings come in different diameters. Pay attention to what diameter you choose, because different size pieces won’t screw together without special fittings. I chose the 1/2 inch size because it was a bit cheaper than 3/4.

4. Pipe fittings come in different lengths and connectors. You should be able to find the pieces you need for pretty much any project…

Black pipe fittings

5. … But if you can’t, the store staff can cut the pipe too. The cutting was one of the dirtiest operations I’ve ever seen. I felt bad for making the staff person get so oily from running the cutting machine. The result though was the perfect lengths of pipe. The machine will also put threads onto your pipe.

6. Pipe fittings don’t screw together fully. You’ll see the threads at each joint.

Screwing together pipe fittings

7. Drywall screws are good partners with pipe fittings. The pipe flanges attach to the walls with four screws. Since I chose black pipe, it made sense to use black screws. The coarse threads on the drywall screws dig into the wall and hold the pipe securely.

8. Attach the flanges to the wall first. Once your towel bar or hanging rack or whatever else you’re building is fully assembled, it can be hard to reach the screw holes in the flanges to attach your creation to the wall. However, attaching the flanges on their own is a piece of cake.

Tips for building furniture out of pipe

I elected not to paint my pipe fittings, although I’ve seen other projects online where people did. The finish isn’t pure black, but it’s a nice industrial dark grey–no sparkle here.

Just in case you’re interested in building your own towel bar or hanging rack, here are the pieces I used. I have to give credit for the hanging rack design to Angie over at Knick of Time. I’m not sure what pieces she used, but I think mine turned out pretty close. I spent a lot of time in the pipe fitting aisle at Home Depot. While my measurements may not be exactly the same as what you need, some of them might work for you and save you at least a bit of time.

Towel bar made out of pipeTowel bar

Dimensions: 10 3/4 inches long (from the outer edge of each flange) and projects 3 inches off the wall

  • 2 flanges
  • 2 elbows
  • 2 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 6-inch piece

Hanging rack

Dimensions: 50 inches long, hangs down 10 1/2 inches from the ceiling and projects 17 inches off the wall
Hanging rack made out of pipe

  • 4 flanges
  • 2 elbows
  • 2 Ts
  • 2 3 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 4-inch pieces
  • 2 15-inch pieces
  • 1 48-inch piece

And just in case laundry isn’t your thing, here are some of my other favourite pipe projects.

If you’ve spent any time on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen furniture, lights, shelves and numerous other things made out of pipe fittings. They add a great industrial style for a pretty reasonable price.

Have you ever made anything out of pipe? Do you have any tips to share? Anyone want to make anything out of pipe? Do you like the rustic industrial look?

Laundry room makeover

You saw the before and after of the laundry room last week. What you didn’t see was the cabinet hardware. Well, it finally came in. Between the sparkle of my new pulls and having an SLR camera for the weekend, I decided to reshoot the laundry room photos. You don’t mind do you?

Black and white shaker cabinets with chrome hardware in the laundry room

Clothespin light in the laundry room

Vintage washboard and red toy iron in the laundry room

Hanging ironing board in the laundry room

Black shaker cabinets with chrome cup pulls and knobs

Enamel basins and infant sleepers hanging in the laundry room

Matt's infant sleepers

Vintage wood hanngers on a hanging rack

Laundry room decorations

Towel rack made out of pipe fittings

Laundry room decorations

Laundry room

Thanks for your patience with my laundry room infatuation.

Laundry room before and after

It’s time for the reveal in the One Room Challenge. Back in September, I was really excited to start making over the laundry room. At the beginning of October, I was really excited when I joined the One Room Challenge to help keep me on track. Today, you’re going to see how far the laundry room has come. (And, yes, I’m still really excited).

Laundry room before and after

Laundry room before and after

This makeover was all about simple upgrades.

I converted the cabinets to a shaker style by adding strips around the border. A black and white paint scheme freshened them the rest of the way. We’re still missing the hardware on our cabinets. They’re special orders and are taking their time coming in. So just imagine sparkly chrome knobs and cup pulls, would you? (I’ll post an update when the hardware finally arrives).

Black and white shaker cabinets in the laundry room

Fresh paint on the walls, ceiling and trim–and fresh baseboard all the way around–brought the laundry room up to the same standard as the rest of the basement.

Then it was on to a few fun projects.

A light fixture made out of clothespins.

Clothespins light fixture

Look at the great pattern it makes on the ceiling when it’s all lit up.

Clothespin light fixture

To keep the wood tone accents going, I added a few baskets to the top of the free-standing cabinet Matt and I found a few months ago. I also made a simple hook board to hang the ironing board on the side.

Ironing board hanger

To save electricity, we hang dry most of our laundry. (Yes, we’re just that green… and cheap). Only sheets, towels and dog beds get the privilege of the dryer. The white metal drying rack is a key feature of the laundry room. I made an additional hanging rack out of pipe fittings to help with the drying.

Hanging rack made out of pipe fittings

I also made a small towel bar out of some more pipe fittings.


The picture above also gives you a glimpse of one of the main decorations in the laundry room. When it came to art, it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to put on the walls. Then I found this little enamel pot at Value Village.

Laundry room decorations

It holds packets of washing machine cleaner, and it also reminded me that I had a small collection of enamel basins. My sisters, brother and I played with these dishes all the time at my grandparents’ cottage. When my grandmother sold the cottage, the basins were going to be thrown out. I was feeling sentimental, so I took them, although I wasn’t sure when I’d ever use them. Well, it turns out they work perfectly as decorations in the laundry room. They may have crossed over from rustic to rusty, but I still think they add a nice touch.

Enamelware basins

Hanging the basins facing out took a couple of tricks. First I needed a really long nail. I found some 5-inch spikes. The nails were too big to drive with just a hammer, so I drilled a pilot hole into the studs before I hammered in my nails. Once I hooked the basins on the nails, it turned out that their centres of gravity were a bit crooked. Some adhesive strips on the back stuck them to the wall and straightened them right up. For the rectangle basin, a couple of L brackets made a discreet and secure shelf.

Tricks to hang basins on a wall

The other item decorating the wall is also both sentimental and non-traditional art. These are the sleepers that newborn Matt wore when he came home from the hospital the first time. (I know, awwwwwwww). His Mom gave them to us years ago. Again, I had no idea what I was going to do with them. Then I realized that the red and navy stripes picked up some of the colours I was using elsewhere in the laundry room. I’ll likely end up building a proper shadow box for them, but the mini hanger works for now.

Matt's baby sleepers

On the counter under the window, I have a few appropriately laundry decorations: an old washboard from my parents and a small red toy iron that my Mom had when she was a little girl.

Laundry room accessories

It may have been a simple makeover, but the results feel dramatic to me. It’s a pretty, personal, fun and functional space.

Laundry room after

Thanks to Linda at Calling it Home for organizing the One Room Challenge. I’ve now crossed another room off my Home Goals 2014 list. Thanks to all of you reading along for all of your support and encouragement throughout. Be sure to pop by Calling it Home to see all the other rooms.

How many people dream of a pretty laundry room? Does anyone else collect enamel ware? Have you ever made anything out of clothespins or pipe fittings? Who else air dries their clothes? What’s the most unusual thing you’ve hung on a wall?

Linking to: Happy Housie Get Your DIY On: Wall Decor