Category Archives: Thrifting, Upcycling, Trash Picking

How is it Now? Upcycled Window Frame Jewelry Organizer

My upcycled window frame jewelry organizer has been one of my most popular and most shared projects to date. Therefore I thought it a good candidate for a “how is it now” update, where I share how a DIY project has actually held up with time and use.

Upcycled Window Frame Jewelry Organizer

I’ve made two of these jewelry display windows over the years, the first having window screening in the panels to hold earrings, and the second having burlap-covered-boards in the window panels to hold earrings.

I’ve been using the second version, the burlap and lace one, for more than 2 years now. I’m pleased to report that it’s working just as well now as it was on the day I made it!

If you’re contemplating making this yourself, I strongly recommend the burlap version over the metal screen version. The metal screening was hard to work with, and the burlap looks nicer.

Having my jewelry hanging on display has made it so easy to see what I have and to easily put it away when I’m done wearing it. I’m really glad I came up with this idea and I can’t imagine going back to a different jewelry organizing system.

The verdict? I’d give this DIY project an A+ for durability and usefulness.

If there’s a particular project of mine and you’d like to know how it’s held up over the years, just let me know in the comments!

DIY Project Fail: Two-Tone Mid-Century End Table

Do you ever get tired of seeing all the perfect before & afters of DIY projects?  Let’s be real for a minute and admit that not every DIY attempt results in a project you actually want to use in your home.

Today I’ve got just such an example, and I’ll share the process I went through as well as the end result, and my thoughts on why it didn’t work in my home. 1-DSC_0056

I found this mid-century two-tier end table in a thrift store for only $10 this past summer.  It felt like solid wood, and I thought it would be fun to strip off the sad black paint job and return it to a more authentic stained-wood look.

I applied Citri-Strip to remove the paint.  This is my favorite paint / varnish stripper, because it’s more natural and the fumes aren’t bad.  (Still, I did it outside and wore a ventilator mask because I was pregnant at the time.)

I got excited as I scraped the paint off the sides and legs and found pretty wood grain hiding beneath. 2-DSC_0058

However, when I removed the paint from the two table tops, I was disappointed to see that they were made of MDF surrounded by a thin edge of solid hardwood.  There went my dream of refinishing with wood stain alone. 3-DSC_0063 4-IMG_2087

I ended up staining the hardwood parts and painting the two table tops white.  I’ve always liked the look of mid-century furniture refinished in a mix of stained wood and white paint, and had been excited to try that myself.

However, I disliked how the table turned out in the two-tone look. Still, I tried setting it up in the living room; ever since we got the sofa recovered in leather, I’ve felt like there are too many wood-tone pieces in that space.

Perhaps the white paint would add some good variety?

Nope.  The scale was off and the color looked harsh and mismatched against the rest of the space.

5-IMG_3207I ended up giving the table to my friend to use in her apartment, suggesting that perhaps the table tops would look better painted in a dark color, such as teal.

The moral of this story?

Sometimes there’s a reason that secondhand furniture is coated in a bad paint job!

The Nursery: A tale of two dressers

One of the most stressful parts of creating the baby’s nursery was the dresser/changing table, or lack thereof.

You see, when we traveled to New Hampshire in October after losing my mom, we bought a beautiful mid-century dresser at our favorite vintage store. It was long and skinny and had tons of drawers, perfect for storing little baby items.

Nursery Mid-Century Solid Wood Dresser Just L

However, with three of us on the trip we didn’t have room in the wagon to bring the dresser home , so we paid for it and left it there. We decided to take a Christmas road trip/ winter getaway to the White Mountains and pick it up then.

Over the next few weeks, though, my back pain increased to the point where it was unbearable to be in the car, even for 15-20 minutes at a time. (This pain was caused by pinched nerves, which were later diagnosed as caused by my too-high amniotic fluid level.) It became apparent that I couldn’t do the 7 hour drive with Ryan, no matter how much I needed that dresser in order to finish the baby’s nursery.

I contacted several shipping companies to have the dresser moved down, but the estimates were in the $900 range, which seemed ridiculous for a single piece of furniture.

The only solution was to find another dresser for the baby’s room, and to pick up the New Hampshire one in the spring.

When my dad came to visit for Christmas, we hit up several thrift stores. We found a $90 solution at the first store we visited, and thankfully my dad convinced me to buy it. I was about to walk away, holding out for something with fewer scratches.  It looked pretty rough at the store:

Nursery Goodwill Dresser Before

Once we got the dresser home, I gave it a good cleaning with a rag, and my dad worked at rubbing some marks off of it. I tried using a scratch repair waxy pencil to fix the scratches, but it didn’t work. Then I rubbed at the scratches and chipped areas with Danish Oil. Almost as if by magic, the oil helped the scratches to blend in, making it look much less beat up and more like a well-loved vintage piece.

Nursery Goodwill Dresser After

I’m so glad he convinced me to give it a chance, though. The beat up dresser has a solid wooden frame and a good mix of small and large drawers, even if the surfaces are veneer.

Nursery Mid-Century Thrift Dresser Detail

In the end, the dresser was perfectly acceptable for a baby’s nursery, and as I filled the drawers with the tiny baby items, I realized that I was very happy with the purchase. It was a good lesson in the idea that sometimes a quick and easy 80% solution is good enough.

Nursery Goodwill Dresser Changing Table

As for the beautiful, solid dresser we bought in New Hampshire? I think that’s going into our master bedroom where it can be truly appreciated.