Two tiny shelves

When I was working on my office, I knew I wanted to find a way to display two collections. One was my Red Rose Tea figurines and the second was china thimbles my MIL has brought back from various trips she’s taken.

The thing about both of these collections is that they’re small. I had the shelves of the china cabinet where I could tuck in a few thimbles or figures, but they’d be lost amongst the bigger items on display. I also didn’t want them on a tabletop where they took up space that could be a work surface.

I decided to do two small shelves.

First was a small floating shelf for the thimbles. This shelf was so small and the thimbles are so light that I knew it wouldn’t need much support and I could screw it right to the wall.

China thimbles displayed on a small floating shelf

I cut a piece of 1×2 to the length I wanted and then drilled two holes through the face of it. The holes served two purposes. The first was to make sure the shelf didn’t split when I screwed it to the wall. The second was to recess the heads of the screws. I made the holes slightly bigger on the front so that the screws would go into the shelf by about a quarter of an inch.

I painted the shelf the same colour as the wall and then screwed it into place. Then I filled the holes with woodfiller and painted over them. The shelf blends into the wall very well, so that it (almost) looks like the thimbles are floating.

The second shelf is ingenious, but I can’t take credit for it. I found the idea on The DIY Mommy. This shelf started its life as a cutlery tray. I lopped off the one segment that ran perpendicular to the others on my Dad’s tablesaw. Then I painted it white, and simply screwed it to the wall. It is exactly the right size for my collection of nursery rhyme tea figurines.

Red Rose Tea figurines displayed on a cutlery tray made into a shelf

I love having different things hanging on the wall, rather than the usual pictures and paintings. These two collections have a lot of meaning for me. Memories of the tea figurines that lived in my grandmother’s china cabinet, appreciation for my mother-in-law thinking of me and my love of sewing when she’s traveling.

Do you have any small collections? How do you display “smalls”? Have you built any tiny shelves?

China cabinet makeover for craft room storage

China cabinet makeover

All the time I was thinking of making over my office, one element was a constant. I wanted to use a china cabinet as the main storage piece in the room.

I liked the idea of drawers, cupboards and shelves to give me a variety of storage options. I also liked the idea of using as much vertical space as possible.

More than a year ago, I found the perfect cabinet–or almost perfect.

It had drawers. It had cupboards. It had shelves. It was the exact width that I wanted, but it wasn’t quite tall enough. The shelves couldn’t even hold a magazine.

I thought I could probably rebuild the upper hutch. And fortunately I was right.

Vintage china cabinet

The cabinet was well-constructed–each shelf connected into the side supports with a tongue and pocket screws–but it came apart fairly easily. I cut off the tongues so that I could reattach them to the new side pieces that I bought. I was even able to reuse the pocket holes (but didn’t fill them because they’re under the shelves where I can’t see them most of the time). I bought new boards for the sides and one for an extra shelf–gotta get that vertical storage.

Pocket holes

Along the way, I did away with the two little drawers from the upper section. I really wanted to keep them, but I would have had to build two more drawers to get the look I wanted. Building drawers was more than I wanted to tackle. So I went with two shelves that were close together and planned to find some baskets that could work kind of like the drawers would have.

The base didn’t require any rebuild. I had thought about changing the feet, but then decided, again, that it was more than I need to do.

The base did get some special attention though. I stripped the top and stained it a darker colour (Minwax Provincial). The rest of the cabinet got my go-to Cloud White in Benjamin Moore’s Advance formula.

You may remember from when I first shared the makeover plans for this cabinet that I wasn’t sure what to do with the cabinet pulls. They’re wood and recessed into the doors and drawers. I gave them a light sanding and then gooped them up with some of the Provincial stain. It worked. The dark pulls against the white cabinet look okay to me.

Wood cabinet hardware

The white paint blends the new wood that I added with the old wood of the original cabinet. The worst of the scratches on the top are camouflaged by the dark stain.

Scratches on the refinished china cabinet top

The one wrinkle that I wish I had planned a little farther in advance is the baskets. It took me awhile to find the colour and weave I envisioned in the size I needed. And it turns out there’s just the slightest variation in the size of the baskets that I bought. I thought they were a pair, but one is just slightly taller than the other–as in it fits a wee bit tight on the shelf (see it below on the right?).

If I’d given myself an extra half inch on the shelf, or measured the baskets more carefully, it would have been a non-issue. Overall, though, this is a minor inconvenience in what is an otherwise successful transformation.

Storage baskets in the china cabinet

The best things about the china cabinet are how much it holds and how it helps to keep everything organized. The shelves easily hold magazines, and, confession, I even have a junk drawer for when I gave up on sorting so many things.

One last time. Here’s the before.

Vintage china cabinet

And here’s the after.

China cabinet makeover

I love this transformation.

Colourful creative office

Office after

My office. A space that’s completely my own. The last bedroom in our house. It’s done. And I’m so happy with how it turned out.

While I’ve used the word “office” to describe this room, it’s really a sewing, crafting, creative space.

It’s filled with the things that I like to do. The things I like the most and that mean the most to me (Bill!). I love that I now have an organized room that I enjoy being in.

Favourite things in the office

This wall used to be filled with boxes that had been packed since we moved in five years ago. Now, the thrifted china cabinet holds sewing and knitting supplies, magazines and memorabilia–and keeps them all organized.

China cabinet storage in the office

Sewing pattersn and knitting needles

Knitting and sewing supplies

Growing up, I never won a trophy. When we were dating, I mentioned this to Matt. One fall, after I ran my first 10K, Matt presented me with a huge trophy. It meant so much to me that he did that. However, the trophy was truly huge. I took it apart and then put it back together in a slightly smaller configuration, and it fits easily on the shelves.

Running trophy

Reconfiguring the closet was also hugely helpful to keep everything organized. Hanging up my big pieces of fabric makes it easy to see what I have and ensures that I’m more likely to use them.

Fabric stash hanging in the closet

When it came to art, I wanted to display some of my favourite things–like this collection of vintage hats. My Mom taught me how to sew. She learned from her mother–the original owner of most of these hats. In fact, my great-grandmother made one of the hats that is hanging on the wall.

I love the idea of a time where people regularly dressed up to go out, and hats were part of the outfits. I don’t live in that world, but I can still enjoy these hats by having them on display.

Vintage hats hung on the wall

The gallery wall is another showcase of my favourite things.

Gallery wall

The same grandma that taught my Mom to sew also had a collection of Red Rose Tea figurines. Often when we were leaving her home after visiting, she would give us a figurine to take home. A few years ago, I decided to collect a full set of the nursery rhyme statues. Between gifts and flea markets, I got every one. However, I’ve never had a place to display them. Now I do–along with a fun photo of my Mom and I modeling some of the hats.

Red Rose Tea figurines

Another small collection that is finally on display is my thimble collection. Matt’s parents travel a fair amount, and my MIL buys a china thimble for me pretty much everywhere they go. I made a really small shelf to go above my sewing machine, and it holds all of the thimbles perfectly.

A magnetic strip from Lee Valley, painted the same colour as the wall, holds sewing instructions where I can easily see them as I’m working.

Thimble collection

While I’m not an official participant in the One Room Challenge, which concludes this week, it definitely helped motivate me to finish off this room. I love that every item on my to-do list is crossed off.

You can check out all of the official ORC participants at Calling it Home.

Feminine blue and floral office

There are so many little details that make this room work really well for me. And I love the beauty and the sentimentality that I was able to incorporate as well. While the ORC motivated me to finish the office, the room itself is now motivating me to keep crafting. I’ve returned to some projects that have been hanging around for a little while and had a super productive sewing month where I’ve churned out a dress, jacket and several pillows. I’m excited by what else this room is going to inspire.

Thanks for following along on the makeover. Do you have a crafty creative space at your house? What helps motivate you to finish projects–whether big like a room makeover or smaller crafts? Do you have a favourite collection on display?

Snoring, storing and decoring in the office

Baxter dozing

My sidekick and I made some more progress in the office this weekend. To be truthful, my sidekick snored and snuggled his dinosaur. I made the progress.

Beyond making the office pretty, I want to make it useful, organized and tidy. Usually when it comes to storage, I make due with whatever freebies I can find–cardboard cartons, shoe boxes, containers destined for the recycling bin.

While sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. So for the office, I bought proper storage containers. Thanks to all of the sorting and tossing I’ve done, I didn’t need too many.

From a big cardboard box full of old school papers, I now have one–much smaller–plastic bin.

Plastic storage box

Six smaller containers hold all of my fabric remnants and fit perfectly into one of the cupboards in the china cabinet.

Plastic storage boxes

On the pretty side of the office makeover, I worked on the gallery wall. I’m actually not a huge fan of gallery walls. But I when I thought about everything that I wanted to display in the office, I realized that the best arrangement was to put them all together.

I am not a patient person, so I tried just laying it out on the floor and translating that to the wall. But it was hard to visualize. I traced each item onto paper and then taped them to the wall. I’m glad I took the time to map it out. It helped to finalize the layout–and realize that the initial placement was much too high.

Planning the gallery wall

Once I settled on the arrangement, I started hammering nails into the wall right away. But then I had to exercise some patience again. It was hard to get the pictures exactly where I wanted just by guessing where to place the nail. I took a minute to run downstairs and grab a paint stick and a screw. I don’t know why it took me so long to make this little tool. It made hanging the pictures so easy.

Paintstick picture hanger

I’m excited to show you the final gallery wall and the rest of the office next week when the One Room Challenge concludes. You can check out all of the official participants at Calling It Home.

Do you have a gallery wall in your home? How do you handle storage? Who else has a lazy sidekick?

Walking down memory lane via the office

Sorting bills

Oooh, you’re in for a special blog post today. The next step in my office makeover was… wait for it… paperwork and filing. You can’t stand the excitement, right?

Paperwork may not be the most photogenic or interesting topic for a blog post. But it’s a fact of life, or at least a fact of my life.

I actually have some great systems to manage paper in my office. I’ve set these up over the last few years and they work pretty well for me. So even though I’m making over the office, I’m not making over absolutely everything.

This mail organizer is my main tool. As soon as the walls were painted, I reinstalled this right away. I only file paperwork a few times a year (all of our bills except for our credit cards are set up for automatic debits), so the piles of mail and bills grow and get messy. The organizer isn’t always tidy, but it avoids the piles.

Mail organizer

Receipts live in a box in a drawer until I reconcile them with my statements.

Receipts

You know we keep a pretty close eye on our finances. This reconciliation is one of the ways I do that.

Once everything is sorted, the papers go into our filing cabinet. The filing cabinet may not be the prettiest piece of furniture, but it’s very functional for us. I’ve seen some cool filing cabinet makeovers with paint, hardware and even fabric, so that may be something to consider for the future.

In the meantime, appreciate the nearly empty mail organizer.

Filing cabinet and mail sorter

The other paperwork I tackled was a huge box full of old schoolwork. As in from kindergarten through to university. Most of it ended up on the burn pile, but I kept a few things like report cards, class photos, my award-winning science project, a couple of memorable stories and this prophetic drawing.

Farm drawing

Even for the things I didn’t keep, it was fun to look back. I could see how my teacher’s comments on my grade 12 English essays made me a better writer–she was a tough marker, but completely right. In the kindergarten folder, I found this mimeographed matching sheet.

First test

On the back in my Mom’s hand-writing, it said “Julia’s first school test.” Awww.

First test

Now that I have returned from memory lane, I’m looking ahead again on what’s left for the office. Here’s where I’m at:

  • Buy and install light fixture
  • Unpack remaining boxes and organize china cabinet
  • Style china cabinet shelves
  • Sort and file paperwork
  • Install gallery wall #1
  • Install gallery wall #2
  • Reupholster seat of wooden chair

We’re down to two weeks to go in this mini One Room Challenge. Remember you can check out the official ORC participants at Calling it Home.

How do you organize mail, bills, receipts and paperwork at your house? Have you gone paperless yet? Has anyone else kept old schoolwork?

Mini One Room Challenge update #1

Vine flushmount light fixture

There are three weeks left in the official One Room Challenge. And three weeks left in my personal mini-ORC, also known as mission finish the office.

Already the motivation of the ORC is working. I had a very productive weekend, and I’m excited to see the finishing touches for the office coming together.

Here’s the to-do list update:

  • Buy and install light fixture
  • Unpack remaining boxes and organize china cabinet
  • Style china cabinet shelves
  • Sort and file paperwork
  • Install gallery wall #1
  • Install gallery wall #2
  • Reupholster seat of wooden chair

As you can see from the photo above, I have a proper light fixture now. I’ve envisioned this light fixture in the office for a long time. I second guessed myself for a moment when I finally bought it, but now that it’s installed it’s perfect. I love the dark metal and the vines and the crystals.

It’s kind of fun and a bit of a different experience to decorate a room completely for myself.

Something that’s also entirely for me is the gallery wall you see behind the light fixture. I’ll share more about that in a couple of weeks when I post the final the reveal.

Another personal favourite is the Brissac Jewel fabric by P Kaufmann that I used on my bulletin board and slipper chair. It’s making another appearance, this time on a wooden chair that past owners left at the farm.

Upholstering this chair hadn’t been part of the original plan for the office, but I couldn’t let this chair go (I have a thing for chairs). Covering a slip seat is a whole lot easier than upholstering the slipper chair. Pulling all of the staples out of the old upholstery probably took longer than adding the new fabric.

The dark wood and the bright fresh fabric look so nice against the white desk and turquoise walls.

Sewing desk

A major perk of the ORC is it ensures I complete all of the little details of a makeover. Details like paint touch-ups (which were also part of my weekend) and upholstering this chair.

It’s those little details that make a room come together. I’m thankful to finally be at that point with the office. Just a little more to go. We’re getting there.

So are all of the other bloggers that are participating officially in the ORC. Even though I’m not linking up, I encourage you to check out the other makeovers at Calling It Home. There will be new updates every Wednesday and Thursday until May 10.

Have you ever decorated a room just for you?

Makeover motivation from a mini One Room Challenge

It’s that time again. The One Room Challenge is taking over the blogosphere. It started last week and runs until May 10. More than 200 bloggers, 200 rooms and 200 inspiring makeovers.

I’m looking forward to all of the beautiful content arriving in my feedly over the next four weeks.

Once again this year, I’m not participating in the One Room Challenge. I’ve loved participating in the past and especially loved the results of our laundry room and master bedroom. But this time around, I don’t have a room ready for the six week timeline.

However, I do have a room mid-makeover. My office.

I’m thinking I can use the One Room Challenge and all of the activity of my fellow bloggers to motivate me to Finally. Finish. This. Room.

Office mid-makeover

So this is it. I’m setting a deadline, people. May 10. The office will be done.

Here’s my original to-do list, and where we’re at:

  • Scrape ceiling – Finished over the Christmas break–oh so long ago.
  • Paint ceiling, trim and walls – Finished over the Christmas break.
  • Add new shelf to closet – Finished and already filled.
  • Redo china cabinet and desk – Finished and partially filled.
  • Reupholster slipper chair – Finished and it’s oh so pretty.
  • Reupholster ironing board – Finished thanks to a lucky thrifting score.
  • Unpack all of my boxes and decorate – Started.

That last item is where I’ve been a bit stuck. I had so many boxes, which had been packed for at least five years–some of them longer. Also, decorating is kind of a big thing.

I know myself, and I know I’ll do better if I can break it down into smaller pieces.

So here’s the new to-do list of the remaining items:

  • Buy and install light fixture – I somehow forgot that I need a new light for this room since I removed and trashed the boob light that was here originally.
  • Unpack remaining boxes and organize china cabinet
  • Style china cabinet shelves
  • Sort and file paperwork
  • Install gallery wall #1
  • Install gallery wall #2
  • Reupholster seat of wooden chair

Totally doable, right? It’s mini compared to the full room makeovers other people are tackling through the ORC.

As slow as work has been on the office, it has been ongoing, even though I haven’t shared many updates. This weekend I made some progress on a few little shelves that will be part of the gallery walls.

Painting little shelves

I’m going to start sharing regular updates here to help myself stay on track. I’m not going to be sharing my makeover through the official ORC linkups on Calling It Home, though, because mine is so mini. I do encourage you to visit Calling It Home and checking out all of the projects for yourself.

And stay tuned here. Soon enough–with a little motivation from the ORC–I’ll be able to reveal the finished office. Four weeks to go.

Are you following any ORC makeovers? Official ones? Are you doing any makeovers yourself? How do you find motivation to finish off a makeover?

New upholstery for a vintage slipper chair

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

When my Mom was cleaning out my grandmother’s house, I asked if I could have the slipper chair. When my Mom showed up with a pink skirted chair, I was surprised. I actually didn’t remember ever having seen this chair before. The “slipper” chair I had in mind was a parson’s chair that had sat in my grandmother’s front hall. I ended up with that chair too–in fact it turned out to be one of a pair and I got them both in addition to the little pink slipper chair.

Yes, I have a thing for chairs.

I stripped off the pink cover and the old padding way back when we were still living at our first house. And the poor chair has sat naked in the pool room since we moved here to the farm. (I still had the pink cover balled up in a plastic bag. I slipped it back on the chair for a photo op. However, with no stuffing and an extreme number of wrinkles, the chair, which was already pretty sad, looks really, really sad.)

Reupholstering a slipper chair

I’ve always envisioned the slipper chair being part of my office, so now that that makeover is underway, it was finally time to give the slipper chair a new life.

This was a totally start from scratch scenario. I had the wood frame of the chair and that was it.

Wood frame of a slipper chair

This was also a totally make it up as I go scenario. I am not experienced in upholstery and am–like many people–a bit intimidated by it.

So I just dove in. I stained the legs to a dark brown. I covered the seat with some foam, and then put more foam on the back. I covered it all with batting, mashing it around the corners. I stapled, stapled and stapled.

Reupholstering a slipper chair

Then I covered it all with an old sheet, stapling the heck out of every fold.

Reupholstering a slipper chair

Then things got serious. I pulled out my bolt of Brissac Jewel fabric that I’ve had for longer than I’ve had the chair. There was lots of laying things out, turning them around, laying them out again, putting them back to the exact way they were before. And then doing it all over again. Once I finally figured out how to place the fabric, I then spent a lot of time stuffing material around the legs and trying to get the folds just right–or right enough.

Reupholstering a slipper chair

Reupholstering a slipper chair

I made my own piping and used flexible metal tack strip (plygrip) for the first time (this video was very helpful).

Reupholstering a slipper chair

I built my grip strength using my vintage manual staple gun–seriously, I’m almost ready for American Ninja Warrior. My fingertips are still tender. If I take on more upholstery, I would invest in an air powered staple gun. However, a project like this can be done with very basic tools–and very basic skills.

I covered up the messy underside with another piece of the sheet (although the packing crate that was used for the seat is pretty cool–I wonder what went to Montreal via Halifax).

Stamped wood on the underside of the vintage slipper chair

Underside of the slipper chair

My grandmother grew up in her family’s furniture store and reupholstered furniture regularly. She made the pink slip cover that was on the slipper chair originally. All I could think as I was working on this chair was that she would definitely have something to say about my technique if she was around. And I wish she was around to tell me how to do it right.

Right or wrong, though, it turned out pretty well. I can see the few flaws, but overall, I’m really proud.

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

I think my grandmother would be too.

My Grandma’s vintage knitting patterns

I really hoped to have an office update for you today, but it was not to be. Soooooo many boxes. So much unpacking. So much fabric and wool. I’m making progress, but it’s a little overwhelming to figure out how best to organize it all.

However, one thing that is unpacked and organized is all of my grandmother’s knitting patterns. In my last update, I promised you a peak at some of these, so that’s what I’m giving you today.

This collection is so special to me. My grandmother taught me to knit as a child, but I didn’t really make anything wearable until I was a teenager. She talked me through my first mitts, sweater, lace, cables and gave me the confidence to tackle pretty much anything. Now, I’ve taught a few other people to knit and have even started a knitting group at work.

Inheriting her patterns means a lot to me, and I’m working to take good care of them. Some of the oldest patterns date to the 1930s, I think. On the tattered bottom left corner of this book is “Canada 1936.” I’m choosing to read this as a date.

Vintage knitting patterns from the 1930s

Her patterns span the years, ages and styles. Not all have stood the test of time, but I’m not getting rid of any of them.

Vintage knitting patterns

There’s lots of clothing (she knit for all of her 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grands–we have two more greats and one great-great now), and there are other things as well like afghans or these lace patterns.

Vintage lace knitting patterns

These Mary Maxim patterns are a particular treasure. Grandma knit the sheep and sailboat sweaters for my cousins, and then they were handed down to my sisters, brother and me. My Mom eventually passed them on to my cousin’s kids.

Mary Maxim is a Canadian company started in the 1950s. Their patterned jackets–often featuring Canadian wildlife–are some of their signature designs. Check out that beaver and maple leaf jacket. Doesn’t get more Canada than that.

Mary Maxim knitting patterns

These Mary Maxim mitts are another Grandma signature. In our family, we had the birds when we were growing up, and then when my sister was a teen she convinced my Grandma to knit her a pair of crocodiles.

Mary Maxim crocodile and bird mitts

I’ve knit these a bunch of times in all sizes, even including a tiny thumbless Crocodilly for my nephew #3 when he was very wee–and apparently freaked out by Auntie and her camera.

Knitted crocodile hat and mitts

The other highlight for me is this Beatrix Potter knitting book. I remember when my Grandmother got this as a Christmas gift. In fact, the card from my Aunt is still tucked inside the front cover.

Beatrix Potter knitting patterns

The patterns in this book are all interpretations of Beatrix Potter’s stories and characters. Some are vedy, vedy British and a bit dated. Benjamin Bunny tams anyone?

Benjamin Button knitting outfits

But the graphs and the characters are timeless. I think this Jeremy Fisher with his dangling legs is super cute.

Jeremy Fisher sweater

My sister is about to add another great-grandbaby to the family in a month of so. I’m enjoying going through the patterns and picking out something for my new niece–and giving her a memento of her Great-Grandma.

Office makeover update

Made over china cabinet for office storage

I mentioned on Friday that I’ve been a bit frustrated by how long the office makeover is taking. I had made huge progress over the Christmas break, but then I went back to work and it felt like things came to a screeching halt.

Here are my previous posts about this project:

I’ve only been working on the office on the weekends, so that’s the biggest factor affecting my progress. Between working long hours at the day job, writing on the side, spending time with my husband, oh and eating, bathing and sleeping, something’s gotta give, and it’s been the office.

But, I feel like I finally turned a corner.

Here’s our original to-do list, and where we’re at:

  • Scrape ceiling – Finished over the Christmas break
  • Paint ceiling, trim and walls – Finished over the Christmas break
  • Add new shelf to closet – Two shelves are installed. Next step is to fill them.
  • Redo china cabinet and desk – This was the part of the project that took much longer than I’d hoped, but they’re done. And like the closet they’re ready to be filled.
  • Reupholster slipper chair – I stained the legs of the chair while I was doing the desk and the cabinet. I have the fabric. I need some foam. Then I’ll teach myself upholstery.
  • Reupholster ironing board – Because a primary activity of the office is sewing, I have an ironing board in the room. It needs a new cover to match the new office.
  • Unpack all of my boxes and decorate – Oh I am so excited to do this finally.

Finishing the furniture was a big step.

I decided to break up all the white with some wood, so I stripped the top of the desk and china cabinet and stained them darker. The rest of the desk and cabinet went white.

In the left side of the photo below you can see a glimpse of the tall narrow dresser that I made a few years ago for the weird little niche. I swear I bought matching hardware for desk drawers at the same time that I made the dresser. It’s been nearly three years, though, and I’m not sure where I put it.

Office makeover in progress

We’re approaching the “put-it-back-together” stage.

I’m looking forward to sorting my yarn, fabric, other crafting supplies and tchotchkes. I’ve already moved some of my magazines and knitting patterns into the china cabinet. There are some amazing vintage patterns from my grandmother. This may be a farm living, home makeover blog, but I’m going to write another post to show you some of them.

Magazine and knitting pattern storage

Often, I see bloggers moving so fast on makeover projects and doing multiple major renos in a single year. That’s not how I do things (obviously).

I’ve been thinking about this project for a long time, though, and it’s starting to look like the picture in my mind. I feel like this is going to come together–I’m not entirely sure how yet, but I think we’re going to get there.

Do you have a first project of the year? How’s it going for you so far? How do you balance projects with all of the other things happening in  your life? Any tips for organizing fabric or yarn? I admit I’m not entirely sure where to start with some of the things that have to come back into this room.