Monday, October 31

Day 31 - Reflecting

It's the last day of October!?! And so today we wrap up my 31 day series Hidden Potential. So I thought we would do a little reflecting today. Starting with a little makeover.

This barely counts as a makeover because it was SO fast and easy. Baby B loves to look in the mirror, so when I found this mirror at a yard sale for $0.50 I grabbed it for his room. (see how this fits the reflecting theme? I know, I'm bad.)

I loved the shape, but wanted to make it more fun and fitting for a little boy's room. I started by taping the mirror around the edges, making sure not to leave any gaps for paint to sneak through. Then I used paper to cover the rest of the mirror and taped it down.

I took it outside and gave it a quick once over with some sandpaper, just enough to rough up the finish a little.

Then I gave it a thin coat with a glossy red spray paint. The wood color was still showing through pretty badly at that point, so I followed the directions on the can to apply several more thin coats.

Ahhhh. Much better. Then I just let it sit for a few hours to give it time to thoroughly dry and cure, before pulling off the paint and tape.

And I just want to give a shout out to this paint. I had this sitting in the basement (someone gave it to me when they moved and didn't want to pack it. that's where most of my mystery paint came from!) and decided to give it a try. It is Krylon Fusion for Plastic (but it says it works great on other surfaces too) and it changed my idea that all spray paints are equal. They are not. I don't know where to get this or how much it costs, but I'm going to find out! It worked great!  It went on SO smoothly with a nice even spray. I didn't have a single drip or splatter (which are pretty common with cheap spray paint). And after a few light coats it covered the wood wonderfully  with a clean, shiny finish. Seriously. The mirror looks like it came red, not like it was painted. So yeah, I love this paint. Now where were we?

Oh yeah, next step. Putting it in Baby B's room. I had planned to hang it above the dresser so he could enjoy it during diaper changes but since we switched out the dressers I had to rethink things. Enter Plan B. Baby B has turned into a crawling fiend (and even pulled up on the coffee table today) so we decided to hang it way down near the floor so he can crawl right up and take a peek. And to make sure he doesn't pull it down, we're thinking about drilling right through the wooden frame into the wall. It will take some touch up work afterward, but safety first!

Project Total: $0.50 - frame from a yard sale (already had the paint)

And now for a little reflection on the past month. I had a lot of fun doing this series (and I hope you enjoyed it) and I will definitely consider joining again next year. But if I do, I think I'll be a little more prepared. It was more work than I expected and I ended up frantically writing most of my posts the day they were supposed to go up! But it was a fun challenge and if it's something you think you would enjoy, you should join in next year. I think I have even more ideas now than I started with! Not to mention all the great stuff I'm learning from some of the other 31 dayers (you can see all the participants here). But that's enough rambling from me. Now please excuse me while I take a few days off from this bloggy madness. I'll be back soon with a few new things we've been working on. :) 

Thanks for following my 31 Day's series! (you can find links to each days' post here)

Were you inspired to find any hidden potential this month? What were your favorite projects or ideas? And suggestions for next year? Are you thinking about doing a series of your own next year?

Sunday, October 30

Day 30 - Put in the Work

Finding hidden potential isn't easy. It takes time and sometimes a lot of effort. A little research doesn't hurt, either.

When you're trying to save money on your home, you usually have to make an investments in other ways. Here are a few things I put the most investment into to save some $$$:


Most of the things I do for my home require repair, a face-lift, or are started from scratch. That definitely takes more time than walking into a store and buying something, but it can save tons of money.

There is a lot of planning involved for most of our projects. We plan out what we want, the cheapest way to get it, and how to make it work. Things like drawing plans for furniture, checking out different options at the hardware store, and putting together a shopping list for supplies all take time!

I also spend quite a bit of time hunting before I even get to the repairing/face-lifting stage. I've gone to countless yard sales and sorted through hundreds of piles to find the cheapest items for my home.

Physical Effort 
Saving money can also take a lot of physical effort. Anything from scrubbing an old dresser, to sewing new pillow cases, to refinishing a piece of furniture. Our most exhausting project thus far was refinishing our hardwood floors. It took more than 24 hours of bent-over work, but saved us hundreds of dollars. And we have beautiful new floors as a result!

I also find that researching can help a lot. My favorite research spot is, of course, pinterest. I find all kinds of ideas there. I also read different home improvement blogs, and love clipping inspirations pictures from magazines (Better Homes and Gardens is my fave!). It's so great to find fresh ideas to keep the wheels turning. Here are a few favorite blogs that keep me thinking and creating:

So, I guess that's just the trade off for saving money. If you're willing to put in the work, I think anybody can find the potential in their home and make it beautiful on a budget. What area do you invest the most in to make things affordable for your home?

Saturday, October 29

Day 29 - The Cover-up

If you have something that works great but looks terrible, sometimes you just have to cover it up. I'm talking about re-upholstery and slip covers! So that's what we'll take a quick look at today.

You can often have furniture professionally re-upholstered for less than the cost of buying a new piece. But even cheaper is doing it yourself! The closest I've come to re-upholstery so far is recovering the seats of chairs, like this one.

I also just re-covered some floor cushions that I picked up at a yard sale for $1. Auntie I sleeps on them when she comes to visit, and the rest of the time the live in Baby B's room, unless we pull them into the living room to sit on, so I wanted to cover them to fit into his room better.

When I found 4 yards of blue striped fabric at another yard sale for $0.25, I knew it was perfect for the job! Baby B pondered my selection for a moment before he agreed.

I started by using my seam ripper to take apart the old covers so I could them as a pattern. I paid attention to how the pieces were assembled so I could repeat it with my fabric. I also saved the cording and zippers to re-use on my covers (because I'm cheap thrifty like that).

Using my pattern, I cut out all the pieces. (the dark blue is an sheet from the thrift store for recovering the cording)

I put on my fancy pants and got ready to dress up the cover a little bit. I've been seeing a lot of whales lately so I decided to hop on board with a little whale applique. Cute.

Then assembled my new cover in the same way as the old covers. I just tried to copy what I had taken apart. I even made my own cording! Cording and zippers have been by nemesis enemies in the past, and proved to be tricky yet again. By the end I was at least starting to get better, I think. :) I also probably shouldn't have used a striped fabric, since I've never worked with one before! It shows off the wonkyness and imperfections more than another fabric would. Anyway, I tackled all these new and tricky obstacles all in one project and didn't shed a single tear. Although there was some frustrated sighing involved. :) And it turned out pretty ugly back there, but it is functional which is more than I can say about my zipper ventures of days past. :) Overall, this cover definitely isn't perfect, but I'm happy with how it turned out and proud of my results for my first attempt! And I think it's much better than the boring old brown cover it replaced. (I haven't tackled the second cushion yet, but I'm confident I can do better the second time around!)

I pinned these children's cushions a while back on pinterest, and decided to use them as inspiration to finish off my cushions. I love the children's fabric, which is why I wanted my cushions to work in Baby B's room. My other favorite thing about these are the handles - perfect for little ones to drag around.

I cut up an old fabric belt to make my own handles. Then all I had to do was fold the ends under and attach them to the sides of the cushions. Now Baby B can drag them around to wherever he wants to play! Perfect.

Project Cost Breakdown:
$1.00 - cushions (from a yard sale)
$0.25 - fabric (from a yard sale)
$0.50 - belt (from thrift store)
$0.50 - extra cording (from Hobby Lobby, to fill in some gaps in my cording fiasco. oops.)
Total: $2.25

Now that they've had a little makeover, I think these cushions will be great for Baby B to play on or snuggle up on for story time. Not to mention that they will be excellent additions to any fort or tent building adventures we tackle in the future.

That's my experience so far with re-covering, and I think I'm ready to try my hand at re-upholstery. This will be my first real upholstery project, but I am excited to give it a try! My subject: this sleeper sofa I picked up at a yard sale for $10. Yes, $10 for a sleeper sofa. I was giddy. The fabric is worn out, but structurally it's great! So I'm on the hunt for the perfect fabric to get it all spiffed up.

Like I said, this is my first time with upholstery but I'm sure I'll be able to find some tutorials online. And it just so happens another 31 dayer is doing a whole series on upholstery! I will definitely be checking out all the tips Three Boys has to offer. And of course I'll share the details here once I tackle the project.

three boys

And before we wrap up, here is my new favorite picture of Baby B. In full Christmas garb. Oh my goodness. This makes me one happy momma.

So, have you ever made a slip cover or re-upholstered anything? Any advice for me?

Pin It

Friday, October 28

Day 28 - Pinspirations

I have more ideas for our topic than I can fit into 31 days! So today I want to give a shout out to my new favorite thing - pinterest! It is one of the best places for me to find ideas about where to look for potential in my home and ways to make my place beautiful on a budget. And it's keeps track of all the projects I want to try in one handy place, which is becoming a very long list. 

 Here are a few of the ways to find hidden potential I have found through pinterest that didn't fit anywhere else in our series (all via pinterest):

I have dozens of other ideas pinned on my boards as well, so feel free to check them out. How about you? Do you do pinterest? Are you crazy about it like I am? Do you have another place you like to look for ideas for your home?

Thursday, October 27

Day 27 - Flashback

Oh man, today is almost over. So, I'm going to cheat just a little and point you to some already-written posts that pertain to our topic.

To see several of the ways we find beauty in our home on a budget, look up a little (just under the header). I made two new tabs for you to explore!

First is the "Favorite Projects" tab where you can find pictures and links to a few of our personal favorite projects. If you click on a picture it will take you to the post with more information about the project.

Second is the "DIY Guide" tab that is a more inclusive list of the projects we have tackled. No pictures here, but if you click the project title it will take you where you want to go. I haven't added things from this series yet, but they will get up there soon. Did I mention I'm flying by the seat of my pants today? Does it show?

While we're on the subject of new things to click on, on the sidebar I added a link to my pinterest page and a link to the etsy shop my sister and I have (that is currently empty, but we'll work on that). So I hope you enjoy exploring a little while I work on a better post for tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, October 26

Day 26 - Closet Space

I've never heard anyone say they had too much storage. So today we'll look at making the most of the storage space you have.

Like most homes, ours has a closet in each bedroom and since the bedrooms aren't huge the closet has a big job to do for both organization and storage. Here are a couple ways we are trying to get the most out of our closet spaces.

In the nursery we only  have to hang short clothes for the time being, so we installed some simple shelves so we can organize diapers, burp rags, clothes and toys into cloth bins. The shelves can easily be removed  as Baby B grows and his needs change.

We use a similar set up in the office to organize fabric and craft supplies. You can see how we installed the shelves here. We just ran 1x2s around the walls of the closet as support and laid a 1/12 across them. So easy!

There is a small closet in our hallway that houses towels and extra blankets. I built these small shelves and mounted them on the door to hold things like extra shampoo, lotion, and sunscreen. They turned out a little wonky, but they work great. I built them out of 1x2s with nails and glue, and they cost less than $1 each!

We also have a master closet...which is in no state to make an internet appearance. Sorry. I have to draw the line somewhere, right? It really hasn't gotten any attention yet and is totally unorganized. But it's on the to-do list, so someday you'll get to see it someday. You know you want to. Until then, please feast your eyes on these beautifully organized closets I found on pinterest that give us all somethings to shoot for. I suddenly feel very motivated to tackle our closet. :)

If you are one of those lucky few who have an extra closet sitting around (oh, how I envy you) you could turn it in to a reading nook. I dream of having one of these for Baby B someday....

How do you make the most of your closet's storage potential? Is there a way to make your storage mor functional for your needs? Are your closets as pretty as my inspiration pics? (and if so how do you do it?!?) Or are you hiding your closet behind closed doors like a certain master closet that shall remain nameless?