Faux plaster or stone finishes for sheetrock

faux plaster or stone finishes for sheetrockJohn has been busy sheet-rocking in the boys bathroom, which is really exciting, because that means paint is coming soon.  One of the ideas we’re tossing around is doing a decorative finish on the wall with kind of a plaster-look finish.  This morning I found several different tutorials for adding a bit more texture to a wall using sheetrock mud  (aka joint compound).

Here’s one way to do it that involves adding a tube of caulk and some bonding primer to your joint compound, which actually makes good sense to me, since it sounds like it would really help the textured layer adhere to the wall.  However–no pictures here.  I’d really like to see some ideas for actually making the patterns on the wall.

Here’s a tutorial that uses Ardex, something I’ve never heard of.  Turns out it is also used for giving formica countertops a facelift that looks a lot like concrete.  I like that this tutorial has pictures.  You can see the pattern is really random, and it looks pretty simple to do.

stone stencilThis tutorial from Home Depot has some close photos of how to pattern it– we’d just do step 1 and 2 I think, since we’re not really planning on adding a glaze to the wall.  I think it also might be a good idea to add caulk and bonding primer to the joint compound like the first tutorial.  Maybe also add some tint to the joint compound?  Not sure.

Finally, I happened across this fabulous raised plaster stencil  that allows you to do a faux stone finish on a wall.  I am guessing this is pretty labor intensive, but I’d love to try it, perhaps on just one wall in the bathroom? Here’s the etsy shop where you can buy this cool looking stencil.

Have any of you done textured finishes on sheetrock?  I’d love to hear your experiences.

Storage ideas for tiny bathrooms

Our bathroom project is progressing really well.  We’ve got the toilet and shower in working order, are hard at work on sheetrock, and hope to have the sink functional within the next day or two. Of course then comes taping, mudding, texturing, painting, and trimming out.  (Yikes– there’s lots still to do!)

One of the things we’re planning is some built-in storage space. Since our bathroom is basically attic space, it has a slanted ceiling.  We’re planning on using space behind the new wall where the ceiling slopes down toward the floor for additional storage.

In thinking about what to do, I’ve been pinning interesting storage solutions on pinterest.  Most of the ones I’m showing you here involve using the space between studs for storage. Here’s the one that first caught my eye.  Isn’t it pretty?  I like the dark wood, and think that whatever we do, we’ll probably do in dark wood, since that’s the color I stained the old yellow-oak cabinet.



This next one was designed to utilize a slanted ceiling like the one in our bathroom.  I like the beadboard trim inside the space. It is also a similar blue to what I’m considering painting the walls.



This one looks like it has a ton of storage, and I really like the trim work.  It also has some good step by step photos of the process.  Kinda makes me want to start making holes in walls and adding storage in other rooms around here.



This next one looks like a great idea next to a toilet.  I couldn’t find a link to the actual project, just the photo, but I like the idea of recessing the toilet paper in the wall a bit, especially in a tight space.



And isn’t this final one a great way to incorporate a mirror AND some storage? This project is a good option if cutting holes in walls isn’t your cup of tea. I also really like the rustic stain she put on the wood.  You can click here to see step by step pictures of this project.  And if you want, you can also follow me on Pinterest by clicking here.

I’m still not sure what form our bathroom storage is going to take, but I’m hoping we’ll have the entire bathroom done for the big reveal soon, maybe even by the end of the month?  I’m so excited to show it all to you!


the danger of ‘while we’re at it’

I’m following my daughter Erika’s lead and doing a post on what I’ve been doing this month.

The project I’m most excited about is the remodel in the boys’ bathroom.  It’s been needing an update for awhile.  Leaking shower =damaged floor. We decided that while we’re at it– watch out for that dangerous word, all ye who remodel!– we might as well upgrade from a little tiny shower to a full tub.  And to make space for that, we needed to move a wall. Here’s a sketch-up of the planned change in floor plan.  It’s actually only a 20 inch by 6 foot long addition.  But it made space for a tub and a quarter turn of the sink.  That change will allow a bit of standing room in the bathroom, something it was very short on before.

bath layout change

So a 20-inch wall move?  Not a huge deal if you have a competent woodworker for a husband, right? But it turned out that the sink vent stack was in that wall.  AND the shower plumbing is also going to be moved around the corner to a different wall, to accommodate the new tub.  Grand total on the plumbing alone? Somewhere in the $1200 range.  Yikes.    But the work has needed to be done for awhile and it will be a wonderful upgrade, so we are doing it.  The new tub got dragged upstairs today by my strong sons.  :)  And here’s a pix of my handsome hubby in that sliver of new space in the midst of the adding-on.

New space

I’ll keep you posted.

t-shirt makeover

the starting point
Recently in a bag of hand-me-downs I spotted a ladies top whose fabric I really liked but the style of which did not appeal to any of the girls in the family. That set me to wondering how I could remake the shirt into something that someone would enjoy. The fabric was soft and stretchy and reminded me a lot of the maxi skirts I’ve been wearing a lot lately. So I decided to remake the shirt into a skirt for my youngest daughter.

I began by laying out the top as smoothly as possible on my cutting board and cutting off both sleeves right where they attached to the body of the top. It might be a good idea to turn the garment inside out before beginning to cut, but that idea didn’t occur to me til later.Step 1: Cut off the sleeves



Next I cut off the neckline of the shirt in a straight line just below the lowest point of the neckline.  I also trimmed away the sides of the top in a (kinda) straight line, angled just a little inward toward the top, which was now going to be the waist of my skirt.  I left the bottom of the shirt alone, as that was going to be the bottom edge of my skirt.  (Yay- the hemming was already done!)

Step 2: Trim away the top and sides

Next I turned the skirt inside out and sewed up the side seams of the skirt, doing my best to make a smooth transition from the existing stitching to the new stitching where I’d trimmed away fabric.

Step 3: Sew the side seams

Next I sewed the ‘tunnel’ at the top of the skirt into which I could thread elastic for a waistband. I happened to have elastic that was about 3/4 inch thick, so I folded over about 1-1/4 inches of fabric, tucking about a 1/4 inch under again before sewing, so that no raw edges would be exposed on the waistband.

Step 4: Sew the waistband

Once I’d sewn my waistband, leaving a 1-inch opening into which to thread my elastic, I put a safety pin into the end of my elastic and threaded it through the ‘tunnel’ of the waistband.  Once that was done, all that was left was to sew the two ends of the elastic together!  Here’s the final product.

Completed skirtMy sweet little model


And here it is on my little girl.  It ended up being too short to be a true maxi skirt for her, but it’s still really cute, I think.  I think I’ll keep an eye out for a large-sized striped shirt so that I can try this technique again and make another one that is actually long enough to be a maxi skirt for her one of these days.

This project was a lot of fun and took me only half an hour. I was amazed at how fast it came together. Have you ever remade a garment into something else?  How did it go?


how to turn a shirt into a skirt

Giveaway: The Nesting Place

Folks, I am soooo excited about this lovely book!  It is by Myquillyn Smith, who blogs at The Nester, and it contains many, many simple and delightful ways to make a wonderfully comfortable haven out of any ordinary house.  You don’t have to have thousands of dollars.  In fact, you don’t even have to own the home you’re living in to make it a welcoming place for you and your loved ones.

I’m blessed to be giving away one copy of this book.  All you have to do to enter the drawing is comment below and tell me one thing you’d like to fix about your current home.  For an additional entry, like this post on Facebook or share it on Twitter, then comment again telling me you did so.   I’ll choose a book winner later this week!

Reviving tired cabinets with gel stain

The stain I usedWe built our house in 1993, and a couple decades with our big clan has left many things looking well worn, including all the cabinets in the house.  In 2012, I gave two bathrooms a $40 makeover. I’ve been wondering about doing a similar makeover in our worn kitchen.  But I was leery of making our kitchen that dark, and I really wanted to still see the grain in the wood. So when I finally got brave enough to try some stain, instead of ‘java’, I selected a lighter tone called brown mahogany, which was brown with red undertones.  I wasn’t quite sure how it would look on my worn honey oak cabinets, but I figured it could only look better.  Here’s my kitchen pre-makeover.

 Kitchen - before


And here’s a closeup of some of the drawers, showing how much of the finish was worn off.

Drawers- before

I began by taking all the cabinet drawers off and washing them well several times.  This step might go more quickly if you used a degreaser.  And this whole job was simplified by the fact that none of my drawers and cabinets had any handles or upraised panels on them.  They are very plain jane cabinets.

Reviving old cabinets with stainTo get a feel for the way the stain would lay down on the cabinets, and to decide how thick I wanted it to go on, I experimented on the insides of several cabinet doors. My tools included rubber gloves for my hands, and old tube socks with which to lay on the stain.  Though the stain definitely dries faster outdoors where there’s a little air movement, I recommend working in the shade, so that your surface doesn’t get tacky too quickly.

Begin with a moderate amount of stain on your sock-clad, gloved hand. Take long smooth strokes from end to end, going with the grain.  It’s wise to practice on the backs of your cabinet doors first, so that you can decide how thickly to lay on the stain, and to get a feel for how to lay on the stain most smoothly.

If you are overly cautious and use only a tiny bit of stain, the stain will begin to get tacky very quickly, making the work blobby and bumpy.   I found it worked better to load my sock with a generous amount of stain, and make 4 or 5 quick thick stripes down the length of a door, as shown in the photo below.  Make the next 5 or 6 strokes in between your original strokes, to fill the whole door in with color.  Then finish with another dozen or fewer strokes, working quickly, until the whole surface is smooth and even.

Spreading stain on

Here’s a photo showing the before of one of my doors and the after of another.  If you end up not liking the effect, no worries.  This stain, while fresh, washes off very easily with paint thinner, allowing you another try.  And you will gradually get better. Do you biggest, most visible surfaces last of all, to take advantage of your growing skill.  And if this project, done in the kitchen, sounds way too daunting, you might want to start in the laundry room, where mistakes are likely to bother you less.

I was lazy and did not remove the hinge components from my doors, which made it harder to make the backs of the doors around the hinges look smooth.  If you’re more of a perfectionist than I am, you probably ought to take the time to remove all hardware.  Remember also to label doors and drawers somehow, so that you don’t get things mixed up.

Doors- before and after

I worked through the kitchen a section at a time, so that at any given time only one portion of the kitchen was wet. One day I did half of the lower cabinets.  The second day I did the rest of the lowers.  The third day I did all of the upper cabinets.  I don’t have many uppers, or it probably would have required a 4th day.  I HIGHLY recommend blockading the wet places of the lower cabinetry with chairs and/or signs.  I can’t tell you how many times kids forgot things were wet and came rubbing against cabinet edges.  Depending on how thickly you lay down stain, and how good your ventilation is, some surfaces may feel tacky and be prone to rub marks for up to two days.

In each section, first I did the backs of each door, and the faces of the drawers for that part of the kitchen, outside in the shade, moving them to a sunny place to finish drying as I finished each surface. Then while those surfaces were drying, I came inside and stained the cabinet faces.

Usually by the time the indoor staining of a section was done (a few hours) the door backs that I’d set in the sun were dry enough to carefully turn over.  Then I could stain the door faces, leaving them to dry overnight, moving on to the next section the next day.

And here are some shots of my finished project.  Hooray!  They are still very simple cabinets, but the deeper stain really brought out the lovely grain of the oak, grain that we didn’t really see when the wood was lighter.  My expert woodworker/hubby says that the honey oak looks very much the color of mahogany with this stain.


One really fun thing about this project was that back in 2012 when I did the bathrooms, I bought drawer pulls for the kitchen as well.  So after all the staining was done, John came through the kitchen and installed my new drawer pulls.  I’m amazed at how much better they make my old cabinets look.  Here’s the before and after shot of that section of drawers I showed you above.  Don’t the drawer pulls look lovely?

Drawers- beforeDrawers- after







Another fun thing that we did was cut back the microwave shelf just a little bit. The shelf had been designed for a much bigger microwave, and the depth of it really decreased the usefulness of the counter space below it, especially given the fact that our coffee pot opens upward.  Four inches cut off the back of that shelf makes that counter feel much more open.

 After- by fridge

One funny note:  back when I bought those drawer pulls, I really, really thought I also bought cabinet door handles.  But for the life of him, my husband could not find any door knobs in his shop. And who knows, maybe I only thought I bought them. So for now the doors do not have knobs.  If they don’t show up, I’m thinking of buying ones that look like this. But with or without door handles, I love the fresh look that this project gave my kitchen.  And the cost of that stain?  $16.  That’s what I call an affordable fix!

After - sink area

Kitchen- after


Organizing sewing and craft supplies (and a recipe for homemade laundry detergent)

In my laundry room, I am fortunate to have quite a bit of high shelving above the washer and dryer, on which I store craft and sewing supplies.  I’ve been struggling for awhile with my fabric storage.  I’ve tried just folding it and stacking it.  I’ve tried keeping it in clear bins.  But inevitably when the girls or I are hunting for a particular piece of fabric, everything gets jumbled, and (apparently) none of us are terribly good at re-stacking things neatly on a routine basis.  Same with the crafts, kept in bins on the top shelves.   Things get pulled out, put away improperly or not at all, and the longer it goes between straightening, the messier the whole area gets.  Pretty soon pulling out even one tiny thing makes an avalanche of mess highly probable.  (Please tell me this doesn’t only happen at my house??)

Laundry room-- the messy middleAwhile back I’d seen this idea for organizing tissue paper, and realized it’d work perfectly for fabric.  So last week, I pulled all the mess off those upper shelves, wiped everything down, and started folding fabric and threading it through the wire shelving rack. I’m terrible at taking ‘before’ pictures when I do projects– I tend to be way to eager to just leap in– but here’s a picture of the messy middle. Anything would be an improvement at this point, right?

The hardest part about this project was folding the fabric of varying sizes and shapes into fairly uniform sizes, so that it would look nice lined up.  If I had it to do again, I’d probably organize it in the order of the colors of the rainbow– wouldn’t that be just lovely?  I’ve seen books arranged by color on bookshelves and loved it.  But I didn’t have that idea til I was halfway done with the project, so I think I will leave it be as is.  I still think it looks really pretty.

Organizing fabric with wire shelving

You might also be able to see in the photo above that I flipped the lower shelf over so that the lip of the shelf was facing up instead of down.  With the lip up, I was able to use the shelf for gift wrap storage. I’m planning to also add a long wire or a dowel just below that shelf onto which I can thread spools of ribbon, to better organize my gift wrap supplies.

Setting the fabric up this way makes it SO easy to see what I have and grab what I need without disturbing anything else.  I’m delighted with how much better my craft area looks now, and am hoping it will be lots easier to maintain.  And having everything so easy to find makes me want to leap in and use more of my goodies!  Hooray for organizing success.

Organizing craft supplies


Here are other posts I’ve written about my laundry room.  It’s a hard working space and has seen several revamps over the years.

Shelf for a mismatched washer/dryer

School-book shelving in my laundry room

Laundry room organization ideas

soapAnd in case you’re curious about our laundry soap, here’s the recipe:

  • 4 cups of borax
  • 4 cups of washing soda
  • 1/2 bar Fels-Naphtha soap, finely grated

We store it in a 2-quart jar onto which I’ve fitted a lid from a parmesan cheese container.  We put 2 tablespoons of this mixture into each wash load.  It does a good job and is much more affordable than regular laundry detergent.  It even worked well when we had a front loader washer.  (The front-load washer died after working long and valiantly on our behalf.)

If you like this post, I’d love a pin on Pinterest. Next Wednesday I hope to share a very exciting, very affordable project that I’m working on in my kitchen! What’s new at your house?  Have you done any organizing lately?

Making a Spring Banner

How to make a banner

When preparing for Easter last week, I decided it would be nice to have some kind of spring-like festive banner in the living room. I dug through my fabric stash and found a variety of bright scraps, which I cut into diamond shapes that were about a foot long and 5 inches wide. I folded each diamond in half (with the pretty side of the fabric facing out) to create a triangle, and zig-zag stitched each triangle together, leaving a channel at the folded end of the triangle, through which I could string a ribbon. (You can see in the photo of the pink triangle where the stitching ends– that allows you to string the triangles together.)

StitchingOnce I had a few dozen diamonds sewn into triangle shapes, I laid them in a row on the living room floor and experimented with color arrangements to see what looked prettiest. Just like with a quilt, the pieces all in a heap looked haphazard– you can see I’ve got a lot of different patterns happening– but once I figured out a pattern, they ended up looking really nice together.

PinkSince each triangle still has two raw edges, they may eventually unravel and look a bit ragged. But I think if I treat my banners gently, I should be able to get quite a bit of celebrating out of them before they fall completely apart. If you want, you could cut out the shapes with pinking shears so that they would be less likely to unravel.


I strung my banner with plain old curling ribbon, the kind you use to decorate a package, because that’s what I had. You could use a fancier ribbon or even twine if you prefer. I’m thinking the banners I pulled together  (I made three) will be fun for spring and summer gatherings, as well as birthdays anytime.

You could make a similar banner with fall colors or Christmas colors to display later in the year. It might also be fun to pin or hot-glue alphabet letters on each triangle, spelling out Happy Spring, Happy birthday, or the name of a birthday kid.  This type of banner would also be adorable as decor in a child’s room.  So many possibilities!


Goals this week

my willow tree 'bouquet'
Thinking about what I’d like to get accomplished this week– here’s what’s on my list:
1. Fertilize the lawn and weed flowerbeds. I’m so much looking forward to having flowers to cut for the table. The other day, desperate for freshness, I cut some branches off the willow tree, and decided they looked kinda pretty on the dining table.
2. Organize a corner of the kitchen. The microwave shelf is looking cluttered and so is the top of the fridge. I’d like to store more in the pantry and less out in the open.
3. Organize the pantry. It is getting its empty late-spring look. That’s lovely for being able to store things (most of the year it is full of canned goods) but random items don’t look as pretty as do rows of jars, so I need to be a little more thoughtful about how I put things into it.
4. Sort the cupboard that holds storage containers. I actually did this yesterday, and threw away a bunch of containers that had no lids, and also put together what still matched. Found a few items to add to my young-adult/new-kitchen/giveaway box. There’s lots more space now!
5. Address and mail Lidya’s graduation invitations. She graduates in 6 weeks!
6. My big splurge of springtime: make an appointment with the electrician to have a new ceiling fan installed. We are finally replacing our 20+ year old white-and-brass fan with something wood-toned. SO excited.

What are you hoping to do this week?

Contentedness and decluttering

My decluttering project After a winter of much busy-ness on my part, the other day my youngest daughters and I plowed through a ridiculous amount of chaos in their bedroom.   I don’t care how often you tell a kid to clean their room, there’s just nothing like mom sitting there in the chaos with you to inspire real actual deep cleaning. Half a day of work produced ten kitchen trash bags of giveaways/throw-aways, AND a whole fresh level of bedroom happiness in my girlies.

That lovely space-finding success inspired me to do more.  I decided to once again aim to give away/throw away 40 bags in 40 days– you can find the details of that challenge here on Clover Lane.  I think I’ve blogged about it before.  Today I went through my side of the closet and came up with another bag full of giveaways, and when the teenagers wake up this morning, they will each be handed a bag and asked to fill it. I’ll peek through what they decide to toss just in case something might be useful for a younger one, but the vast majority of the time, we miss giveaways not ONE bit.

It is amazing how much bigger a space can feel when you just get rid of what’s cluttering it.  I honestly breathe a little deeper and feel a greater sense of peace walking into a clean space. It’s such a simple way to rejuvenate a space that maybe is feeling tired or full or overwhelming. And it’s such  a simple way to find greater contentment with what you have.

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.One of the places I’ll be working today is in our library.  Some books I’ll donate or offer to our adult kids.  Others I’ll list on paperback swap, so I can let the younger kids pick some new books.  I’m thinking it’d be nice to have a shelf or two in the library empty enough to display something pretty.  Do you have any decluttering projects in mind for your house?