Tutorial: EASY Graduation Cap Decorations

I had never decorated any of my graduation caps before, mostly because I either didn’t remember or the task seemed too daunting. I mean, who wants to compete with caps like these:

Cap 2 Cap 3 Cap 1For those of us that can’t paint like Van Gogh or bedazzle with the best of ’em, I suggest some scrapbook supplies and fabric glue…

6X0A9809I threw this together in about 15 minutes, which is especially handy if you have a needy 3 month old at home. No hand-ruched fabric. No gluing 18,000 rhinestones. Just pick something that you like in the scrap book isle (Which could actually be the hardest part. There are so many great choices!) and stick them to your cap. In hind sight, I wish I would have added more flowers, but overall I’m happy with the concept.

Now I just need to graduate again so there’s another cap to decorate…

Congratulations to all of the 2015 graduates, and go Gators!

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Map Trunk Refurbish pt. 1

Map Trunk Before and After

I found this trunk at the usual place, an estate sale. It looked pretty terrible, but it was really sound structurally. It was sturdy, the latches worked really well and lined up perfectly. Excellent candidate for a project. First, to prep the trunk, was the usual sanding process. You can see the difference here, from where the top is sanded and the bottom wasn’t..

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Then the whole thing. The interior panels were just plywood, so not really worth sanding down.

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When I was re-doing the Dome Top Steamer Trunk, I was thinking of different ways I could re-finish its interior. Ultimately, leaving the bare wood the way it was won out on that trunk, but one of the ideas I came up with was using some of these maps I had as a covering. These maps weren’t super old and full of character. They were from the era just before GPS and Google maps, so they were kind of ugly and obnoxious. I used some different stains and paint on a test piece to see what I could come up with. Two different stains and some dark brownish paint later, and this was the result…

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I was pretty excited with how it turned out! It kind of had an old leather map look. Huge improvement! The next step was to cut the map pieces down to size.

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I ALMOST cut the piece too small because I didn’t take into account that I was going to scrunch it up for texture. That shrunk it down quite a bit, but thankfully it still worked out. Next, I tried to stick the map to the trunk using 3M Spray adhesive. As soon as I applied the stain to the paper, it completely detached from the wood. Time to break out the Mod Podge! Worked like a charm.

I applied the lighter stain to the whole map…

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Then I worked the darker stain around the outside and then lightly through the middle. The final touch was the dark brown paint only around the edges. I used the same old rag that applied the stain to blend in the edges of the paint with the stain.

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Tada!! Lastly was a coat of polyurethane and it was finished! My favorite part about the maps is that both sections have locations in them that have been major parts of my life.

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I’m still toying with the idea of using something to line the map and make the edges cleaner, but we’ll see. There are also big plans for the interior, but they’re still in progress. I’ll keep you posted!!

The “Wing It” Bench

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I came across this bench at an estate sale a WHILE ago. It looked like a disaster, but it was such a sturdy little thing I couldn’t pass it up. It came home with me and there it sat for months, like over 12 of them. Finally a few weeks ago I started on the sanding process. It was definitely a process.

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It was surprising how easily the stain and the majority of the ugly blotches came out. It was a terrible stain job too, sloppy and so thick you couldn’t see any of the wood grain. After I finished the sanding, it sat in the garage for a few more weeks because I still had no clue what to do with it.

Inspiration came from digging through all of the random paint and stain cans that I’ve acquired from the Home Depot Oops Paint section.

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I had some reddish weatherproofing wood treatment that I’d been wanting to use. Ironic since I hated the red that was on the bench originally. It would have been too gaudy to make the whole thing red, so I went with just the legs. There was also a new stencil that hadn’t been used yet, so now was as good a time as any…

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A little distressing, some regular polyurethane and it was finished. It was fun to go into a project and just wing it.

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DIY Plank Wall Mantel

Pallet Mantle

The mantel in our house has more or less been a giant eyesore since I can remember. It didn’t always look as bad as it does in the before picture, though. It had a bunch of cheesy square mirrors on the top and sides. We took those off, and it sat in that sad state for longer than I’d like to admit. The stack of wood was purchased probably two months ago. I had the idea for a plank wall and we saw a nice bunch of wood in the discount pile in Home Depot. In total, all of the wood for the project was less than $9. There was a few things that I had to do, before cutting and mounting the wood…

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There were giant holes where the shelf was bolted to the wall, and also one of the fake bricks was missing from the framing of the fireplace. I used Rock Hard to fill in the holes, and (more or less) made a fake, fake brick to blend in the gap. The “bricks” around the fireplace aren’t actual bricks, so that’s why it’s a “fake, fake brick.”  It’s not perfect, but it did the trick for now. Before painting the bricks, it’s also important to vacuum and wipe down all the crevices. It’s easy for dust to hide in there and ruin the paint job.

Cutting the wood was surprisingly easy. I give 100% credit to the nice miter saw that I got at an estate sale for $20. I got the idea for the chevron shape of the wood from a friendly older gentleman at Home Depot. I was telling him about why I was collecting all that wood and he said, “You know there’s a really simple way to make your wall look really fancy…” You just set the miter saw to a 45 degree angle, measure and cut. All I needed to attach the planks were 1.5in finishing nails and voila! It was up!

Next came the caulking…

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Then the paint…

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The bare wood looked great, but I wanted to try the white wash treatment. We’re also supposed to install some marble on the bottom, so I thought the raw wood and the marble might be too busy. I didn’t use an official measurement for the paint, just a plastic cup with some paint and added water until the mixture seemed about right. Very precise…

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I’m in love with that incense jar…

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So that’s that! I’m not brave enough to try to do anything with the marble right now, but I’ll post pictures of it when it eventually gets done. If you’re thinking of doing a plank wall, do it! It’s easier than you’d think and they look fantastic. For another great tutorial on planking an entire room, check out Domestic Imperfection… Leave me some comments with questions or suggestions. It’s always appreciated!

Dome Top Trunk part 2

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It’s finished!! I already did the first post on the exterior, and now the interior is done. I’m so happy with it! This is how the inside started…

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It was covered with several layers of awful greenish grey paper. Surprisingly, all it took to scrape that off was wetting it with a sponge and scraping. Lots of scraping..

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I didn’t really have a plan for the interior. Well, actually I had several plans, but I wanted to wait and see what exactly I had to work with when I was done with the scraping. I toyed with the idea of modpodging an old map on the underside of the top, or using some of these sheets from Home Depot..

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But the wood was looking pretty decent on it’s own..

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Not too shabby! I thought I’d try a little stain and see how it turned out…

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I always think that natural wood is prettier than any painting or paper. Also, the curvature of the inside of the top would make covering it with any paper or vinyl tiles very tricky (ain’t nobody got time for that). Natural wood it is! Lastly, I added the side bars back on, where they were previously, and made a box for the interior.

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(I’ll do a separate tutorial on making the box, don’t want to cram too much in one post.)

…and the finished product…

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A few side notes….

The wood in the top of the trunk was definitely different from what was used to make the rest of it. Before I stained the interior all the wood looked the same, but after the stain, the top turned a yellowish brown while the rest was reddish. So, if you look at the tray insert in comparison to the top, it won’t quite match, while it does still match the rest of the trunk.

It took three coats of two different stains to get the new wood on the tray and sidebars to match the trunk. There could have been a stain that matched it identically, but who wants to buy more cans of stain when I already have so many sitting in the garage? One coat of Sedona Red and too coats of English Chestnut, both by Minwax, and it matched almost perfectly. Close enough for me!

It looks fantastic in the office where it’s sitting. Once that room is complete, I’ll post pictures of it in all of it’s pirate-y glory.

Dome Top Steamer Trunk Repair

Before and After 2

First, let me start by saying, “What a lot of work!” Especially compared to the first trunk I refinished. Secondly, I am so excited to write this post. I’ve had this thing for months and I’ve only been able to work on it a little bit at a time. Let’s go back to the beginning, shall we? You can see the original in the before and after picture. Apparently someone thought they would try their hand at refinishing it by painting those awful green stripes and white accents. First I tried to see if I could get the paint off by sanding, scraping and paint thinner…

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After a good hour of that nonsense, I gave up and decided that painting over it would be the next best option. In the picture above, you can see I’d already given up on getting the green off and started filling in holes and taping off the wood areas. That pretty much covers the next step in the refinishing. I used regular spackling past to fill the holes and larger dents. I left the old leather on the trunk until after I painted it and covered the areas where it had already crumbled off with newspaper and tape. This part was the most tedious. Not only does it take a long time, but it doesn’t get any prettier while you’re doing it…

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Things started looking up after the first coat of spray paint, though…

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Finally, no more ugly green…

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Few things are more satisfying than peeling back clean paint lines. Look at that, what an improvement already. The paper peeled off really easily, but I had to use a box cutter and screw driver to get the leather off. There was also some glue residue left, but a little sanding and scrubbing with a wire brush took it off pretty easily.

Next came the stain. Minwax, Colonial Maple…

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Even better, but it needed more shine. I found a gallon of polyurethane for floors at the Home Depot in the secret little scratch and dent section in the back for $9. I googled as much as I could about it, and I couldn’t find anything about using floor polyurethane on projects other than floors. I figured, “What’s the worst that could happen?” It could look absolutely fantastic, that’s what!

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After the first coat, some of the edges and knots soaked up the shine, but the second coat took care of that. The last thing that needed to be fixed on the exterior was the feet. I got a 50 cent piece of wood from the scrap section in Home depot and some furniture sliders.

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I also used more power tools on this project than I ever have before. First it was my miter saw to cut the scrap wood down to the right size, then electric drills to attach the wood and sliders to the bottom of the trunk. I was pretty proud of myself…

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The reason I had to make a new base was because one of the metal feet was missing and I have no clue at this point about how to replace it…

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Also, I can’t imagine the trunk sliding around on those metal knobs would be good for anyone’s floors. I thought about adding wheels instead of sliders, but they were all ugly. It seemed like it would just look awkward. This covers everything that I did to the outside. I have some ideas for the inside that I’m really excited about, but that’s for another post…

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What project isn’t complete without some help from the cat…

Bathroom Facelift

I’ve expressed my feelings before about the unfortunate peachy two-toned tiles in my bathroom. It’s too much of an undertaking to replace it right now, so I’ve been left to try about 5 different paint colors in an attempt to find a color that makes the tiles tolerable. My last color was a step in the right direction, but it ended up being way to dark. The whole room felt closed and tiny…

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I also learned the value in sampling the paint before painting. I always pick up any good paints I find in the oops paint section of home depot, so I had plenty of options already in the garage. The light in my bathroom is apparently very bizarre though, because none of the paint looked like it should have once it was on the walls…

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The two samples at the end were supposed to be grey, not brown and the one that looks grey was supposed to be light blue. So… test your colors. Anyway, I chose the second color from the right, which was the color left over from my bedroom. I was impressed, as I normally am with Behr, at how outstanding the coverage was. It only took two coats of Behr paint to cover up the really dark teal color..

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The left side is two coats and the right is after one. Another problem I had, that you can see from the picture above, is the paint lines. After so many coats of paint, the paint lines are just ridiculously bad regardless of the use of painters tape and edging tools.

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You can see the lighter color, the old teal color and even some of the dark green from two colors ago. My mother had the perfect solution, as mothers often do. Turns out a little line of caulk fixed everything…

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Tada!! I hope the tip about the caulk lines was helpful. That is certainly going to make my life easier in the future! Thanks, Mom.