Mirror, Mirror, (Please Stay) on the Wall

I really wanted a big, gorgeous, mirror in our master bathroom to give it that degree of luxury that master ensuites should have. I don’t know if you’ve ever shopped for mirrors, but they’re quite pricey. The larger they get, the larger their price tags, as well (obviously).

Well, being frugal like I am, I was not about to spend that amount of money on a mirror. Off to pinterest I went. I knew there had to be a cheaper way that would give me the same result I wanted. I didn’t mind doing some work if that meant saving my wallet. I found a lot of great tutorials about DIY mirror framing and it seemed pretty fool-proof. The husband and I decided to try it.

We were going for a rustic look to match our bedroom. We decided on real wood “planks” so we could stain them, see all the grains & knots and keep the natural look. Along with the wood, we got some hinged hardware to mount on the corners of the frame and some screws to attach to them. It was all sounding great…in theory.

We did not have a miter saw at this point in time, so cutting 45 degree angles wasn’t something we were going to attempt. I saw one design that just left the boards straight without any angled cuts. I liked that look because it kind of went with our theme, so we ran with it.

I couldn’t find oil rubbed bronze hardware, so I sprayed the hinges and screws the color I wanted. I also stained the wood a darker shade. Since our walls were mustard, I figured the darker wood would tone down the color of the room a hair. It is important that you paint the backs of your frame black. This way you can’t see the unfinished side underneath in the reflection of the mirror, once it’s mounted.

After everything we needed was prepped, we started following the tutorials on mounting it to the mirror: “You don’t even have to remove the mirror from the wall. Just attach the frame pieces to the mirror itself with liquid nails adhesive for mirrors and secure it with a little painters tape to keep it in place as it dries…”

Sounds easy enough. Let’s try it. Uh, no…we are huge fools. This was a disaster. It was a mess. Not because the people on Pinterest were liars, but because we didn’t think about the fact that we are using real heavy wood boards…not light trim pieces like they seemed to be. 

We thought it would be easy to assemble all the pieces of the mirror, load the back up with liquid nails, and stick it up there with the aid of painters tape. It started falling down…leaving all of its gooey adhesive in its path. I was holding one side up, my husband on the other, screaming and yelling on the verge of all out war. We were thinking “well, maybe if we hold it in place for a few minutes, it will get a little grip and then hang on its own. That’s what the other people did – so they said!” Well, we stood there for at least five minutes with our arms sprawled out holding down every inch of the frame that we could – keeping it firm against the mirror. Arms falling asleep. Frustration heightening. We let go…and it slowly slipped down the mirror again. Our efforts were for nothing.

Frustrated and taking our failed attempts out on each other, we took the frame off the wall. We stared at the goo-filled mirror and thought, “What the hell did we do?”

We walked away from it and left it lying in the middle of the bedroom floor. Then we brainstormed. We really didn’t want to have to take the mirror off the wall, but it seemed that would be our only choice. I cleaned all the gunk off with a razor blade and some nail polish remover so we were left with a clean slate. Luckily, it got rid of all evidence of our defeat.

The hubby removed the mirror and we put in on the floor. We repeated the process of coating it with the adhesive and sticking the frame, this time in four pieces, to the mirror again (no painter’s tape required). We let it sit there for a full two days, just to ensure that the whole fiasco would not happen again. It was probably dry after the first 24 hours, but we weren’t taking any chances.

Biting our nails, we hung it back on the wall, hoping that it would stay in place for at least one day. If that big thing fell, we were in for decades of bad luck, not just seven years.

But, IT WORKED! It’s been almost a year, and it is still hanging! That’s a good sign! 🙂

It really added a touch of class to the bathroom. It was a really great and inexpensive addition. Total cost: maybe $25 with hardware and adhesive.

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Painted Hardware, Back (painted) Frame Pieces, Front (stained) Frame Pieces, Frame Fully Assembled, Frame Drying on the Floor, Frame on the Wall (finally)

And here is the finished product!

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Turning Nickel Into Bronze

Brushed nickel is not my favorite. I don’t simply hate it altogether. It’s just not my thing. I’ve seen it in some people’s houses and it looks great, especially if their house is more airy and contemporary. I’m a warm, neutral colors kind of girl (with pops of bold colors here and there).

When we moved in, there was this terrible, boring chandelier in the dining room. It had potential, but it wasn’t doing much but hanging there. It was SUPER bright due to the lack of shades, so we usually just avoided turning it on unless it was absolutely necessary. I would’ve bought shades, but I wasn’t all too sure that I was going to keep it.

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I started doing a little research because I had previously seen where people had repainted brass chandeliers. I searched…and searched…and no one was trying to cover up brushed nickel. I almost felt like I was committing a crime wanting to do so. Apparently this stuff is sought after. Well, not for my home. To me, it was an un-matching eye-sore. Amidst all the browns, greens, oranges….sat this bright silver fixture. Ew.

I decided to follow the same instructions for updating brass fixtures. I mean, metal is metal, right? How much different could it be? I figured trying it wouldn’t hurt. I had nothing to lose. Either I was going to refresh the one I already had, or I would go buy a new one. If I messed it up, I was going to buy a new one. I was getting a bronze chandelier regardless, so I might as well try the cheaper route first to see if I could succeed.

We started by removing the chandelier from the ceiling. I put cotton balls in the tops of all the “candle” holders and covered them with painters tape. Next, we attached it to a board so that we could hang it properly from a tree to paint.

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Next, we rigged some rope around the piece of wood to which we attached the chandelier. We threw the rope over the branch of a tree and tied it at a comfortable height for painting.

I chose Rustoleum’s Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint – the type you can spray from any angle. (The finish almost looks black in the picture, but in reality it is a dark, dark brown.) That type of can allowed me to spray from any awkward angle I needed, to ensure everything was coated correctly. I sprayed everything! Making sure to get the chain, the underside, the top, the plate that attaches to the ceiling – everything! (I even sprayed the tree…a little. Oops.) With the light shining so bright on the fixture, you are more likely to see any missed spots or imperfections, so I took my time to get it right.

I gave it one good coat and then walked away for awhile so it could dry a little…not fully. I went back and touched up a few areas that I missed, but did not have to give an all-over second coat.

I have learned that it is important not to spray too close or too much onto your surface! This will cause it to look very drippy and uneven. You’re going for a smooth, flawless, result. It is better to put two lighter coats on, instead of one heavy one.

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We left the chandelier in the sun for a few hours, just to ensure it was dry enough to move without damaging. We let it hang in the garage overnight, in case of bad weather, for the paint to fully cure.

The next day, we hung the chandelier back where we found it, but those boring “candles” were still bothering me. I browsed for some small lamp shades, but all of them were $6+ each. I needed 6. I did NOT want to spend $36 on lamp shades. I had better things I could do for that price. Even on Amazon.com, which I love and frequent for good deals, they were still “expensive.” I finally found some for $3 at Garden Ridge. I was shocked they were so low in comparison to everywhere else. $18?! Ok. I’m good with that.

And here it is. $8 worth of spray paint and $18 for lamp shades: $26 Chandelier Makeover that finally suits my home.

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All Warm and Cozy

When we were house-hunting, one thing on our wish-list was a fireplace. After searching through many houses, we decided ours was the best that we had seen. It had everything we needed, and we were in love. We had much bigger concerns, and whether or not it had a fireplace was not one of them. To find a house that has everything you want, would have been pretty amazing on our first-time-home-buying budget. Plus, it’s South Carolina, it doesn’t get that cold, right? Who needs a fireplace in S.C.?

When November came around and it started to get cold, I started to complain. All of a sudden I remembered how badly I wanted that fireplace. After the shiny “oh my God we have a house” starts to wear off, you start thinking of everything you wish you would have done if you were buying again. Instead of a simple wish-list, you have a wish-this-or-that-was-different-list. And when it is 18 degrees outside, you can’t help but dream of curling up next to a fire and wondering WHY DIDN’T I BUY A HOUSE WITH A FIREPLACE!? (Apparently I get really angry and dramatic when I’m cold.)

It may not have been quite that dramatic, but you get my drift. It was time for the fireplace to be installed, however that was going to happen.

Adding on a real, legitimate, wood-burning fireplace was out of the question. That was an expense we just could not afford. We thought about gas, but gas is not available where we live at the moment. It may be in the future, but not now. So, we were seemingly left with electric being our only option.

My husband was not on board for this at first. “An electric fireplace? You might as well just not have one at all.” For him, it was wood-burning or nothing.

Well, I wasn’t settling for that. If you know me, I’m pretty much terrified of fire. I have no idea why. Nothing traumatic has happened to me in the past involving fire, but I respect it enough not to mess with it. Whenever we have a fire in the pit in the backyard, I have to wait for all the coals to burn down before I can even think about going inside. When we go out of town, I make sure all the TVs are unplugged, just in case. It’s bad.

So needless to say, electric fireplace: ON/OFF switch, no real flame, WINNER! The search had begun. We went to Lowe’s and browsed through the electric fireplaces. They all had glass fronts and were already cased in some sort of wood “mantel” type thing. They were upwards of $300 and I hated all of them. I didn’t want some dinky little “fireplace” sitting in the middle of the living room that was the size of an end table. I wanted something that looked like a real fireplace! Something I could hang my stockings on at Christmas time and on which I could put cute family pictures. I was getting frustrated thinking we were just S.O.L. and we just needed to wait until we could afford the real thing. Almost without hope, we talked to a gentleman that worked there and told him what we were wanting to do.

He had the perfect solution: an electric log. We had never heard of such a thing. It’s simply a faux log that blows out heat, glows like a real flame, has a remote control, AND has no glass front or wood casing. WHAT!? PERFECT! We were ready to buy it right then and there, but they were sold out. I called all the local Lowe’s stores and none of them had one either. Not only that, but they were a “seasonal” item and they weren’t getting anymore in stock until at least next winter. Ughh…this took us from really excited to really bummed in about 15 minutes.

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http://www.globalindustrial.com/p/hvac/Fireplaces-Pits/fireplaces/pleasant-hearth-electric-log-with-heater-4600-btu-li-24?infoParam.campaignId=T9F&gclid=CO2bqNXVgb4CFcFlOgodTBwAng&gclsrc=aw.ds

Meanwhile, my dad had been wanting us to give him an idea of what we wanted for Christmas. We casually mentioned how we really wanted this, but they were out, blah blah blah. I’m glad we did, because he found it! We were so excited! As soon as we opened that on Christmas Day, the race was on to build the mantel.

We browsed online for plans on Pinterest and Ana White, but they didn’t have anything like we were building. We were trying something totally new, it seemed. So, we kind of had to make up our own plans along the way.

We started with a base, that would be our hearth, built out of 2x4s and some plywood. We had to cut away part of the baseboard so it would sit flush to the wall.

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Next, we put together the mantel part (in the garage), and carried it inside to attach it to the base, We also attached the mantel to the wall for extra support.

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Next, I painted the mantel and base a high gloss white.

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Then, it was back to Lowe’s to find some tile and purchase a miter box. We picked up some decorative moulding to give the fireplace a finished feel. Being that we did not have a miter saw, we purchased a miter box for around $12. It did the job, but definitely not perfectly.

I found some 12″x12″ backsplash type tile with mesh backing that was on sale, as well as some 12″ ceramic tile squares for the hearth. I scored all of it for around $50. We were very limited on tools when we were doing this project, so cutting tile was not an option. The tile I picked had to fit perfectly in the space with minimal cutting. Lowe’s will make your first few tile cuts for free, so I calculated it out and had them cut just what I thought I needed. Somehow I ended up having EXACTLY enough tile, with not even one piece to spare. Talk about precise calculation. I was excited. It was like this thing was meant to be built. 😉

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Next, I painted the inside of the fireplace black, so the log insert would blend in. We built a box inside the opening with a cut out so the cord for the log could be plugged in behind the mantel. This also helped hide the fact that this entire fireplace was made out of wood. The different colors and depths make you believe it is much more than that.

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Let’s put the log in to check it out!

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It was looking good, but something was still throwing me off a little. I felt like the space between the top of the mantel and the top of the opening was too wide. I needed to figure out something to do to balance that area. So, off to Ross I went. I found a great piece of faux ironwork for around $12 that I thought would work perfectly. The ironwork paired with some extra candle holders and other decorative things I had around the house, were just what I felt it needed to be deemed complete.

And here it is! Electric Fireplace for around $250. (Well, $375 if you have to purchase the log.) We absolutely love it and it pumps out lots of heat for such a little unit. To top it off, it actually has dancing faux flames, so it gives off a great ambiance. You can turn it on just for looks, or have the heater going so it serves a purpose. Either way, it’s great!

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From Cramped to Comfortable

About a year ago, my husband and I bought our first house. WE LOVE IT! But after living with it for a little while, we know what works and what doesn’t.

Our tiny dining area was driving us NUTS! Our huge table, chandelier, back door, and wall placement just wasn’t working. After one holiday season around the table with family, we could tell something had to change. Having to scoot up and squish your full belly against the table, just so that someone could walk around you to get to the kitchen, is ridiculous. The fried turkey makes you feel portly enough without the table’s help.

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BEFORE. Kitchen is to the left, big wall to the right, back door right behind…CRAMPED

A few months ago we thought it was time to stop talking about it and actually do something.

Usually, if you have a tiny dining area and a huge table, common sense would tell you to go buy a smaller table. Well, in my world, common sense doesn’t always win. There was no way I was giving up my table. My mom and step dad gave it to us for our old place and it’s not a piece of furniture I had to put together from Wal-Mart, so it was staying! Well, that kind of limited us. We obviously weren’t going to move a wall, or a door, or a kitchen. So, we started brainstorming…and pinteresting (my drug of choice)…and BAM! BREAKFAST NOOK! Problem solved!

First we measured the wall on which the bench was going. Being that it was so long, we opted to make 2 smaller benches that looked like one long one. So, we built two frames out of standard 2×4’s and attached them to the wall.

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Next, we attached the front boards, which are just thin sheets of plywood.

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Then the front trim. We chose MDF because it was cheaper, already primed, and didn’t need sanding.

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We found some MDF beadboard which was a little pricer than I had originally wanted, but we splurged because we knew it would add a nice touch. We got 2 packs of the boards, which we cut in half to make it go that much further. Then, we attached another one of the trim boards to the top to give it that finished look.

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Next, we measured and laid out the top boards to make sure they lined up correctly.

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Then, it was time to paint and stain! The hubby was on staining duty while I painted. Multi-tasking and teamwork is the way to go.

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With a few minor adjustments to make sure everything was straight and level (which you may be able to tell in this pic, the seat was not), we were on our way toward something!

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Allllmost right, but not perfect. The chandelier was still hanging semi-centered in the room…and now that wall with the mirror was boring…

Originally we thought we would create a new hole for the fixture above the table, but that seemed like A LOT of work…patching one hole, repainting the ceiling, making another hole, rewiring the new lamp from the old electrical wiring. It seemed like more of a headache than the entire project thus far.

So, to fix the chandelier problem, we decided to swag it over from its existing location. To do that, we purchased some chain, some new lamp wire, and a swag hook from Lowe’s. The existing chandelier chain and wire was not long enough to reach the new center of our dining room. So, thankfully the ole’ hubby knows a little bit about electrical wiring. With a little time and a few choice words, he got it done.

All that was left was some finishing touches.

So I found some inexpensive “chicken” artwork on one of my many Ross outings.

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I picked up some white plates from the Dollar Tree, some napkins from World Market, and my mom found some great yellow glass chargers at a thrift store, to complete the place settings.

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(For some reason I can’t get the picture to stay horizontal…oh well :P)

And, finally, I recovered the chairs with a little fabric and a staple gun.

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TAH DAH! Finished product for around $250.

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We absolutely LOVE it and could not be happier. We have had people over for dinner a few times since then, and it is SOO much more enjoyable. Plus, we have a better view of the backyard when we’re eating – perfect for watching the dog play.