Category Archives: Upcycle

Craft/Play Room Reveal


Here we are in the Ides of March and I’m done with my project!

This was the first time I set out to makeover a complete room all at once and the first time I tried to work within a budget. Overall, I’m very pleased with the outcome. Although it wasn’t exactly as perfect as I had it pictured in my head (is it ever?), it is a vast improvement on what it was and a good starting point for improvements to be made in the future. Budget-wise? I failed. I don’t have time to tally up the damage tonight, but I think it was somewhere between $150 and $200. I’m planning to add it up and post all the nitty-gritty details tomorrow. Today is just for appreciating the pleasant space that is my craft and play room. I hope you get a few ideas for any trouble spots that may be lurking in your home. Honestly, if I can do this, anyone can.

Here are the “afters”:

I spent almost the whole first week just focusing on this closet. Everything came out and then got sorted, labeled, and put back in. EVERYTHING has a label on it. I used the over-the-door shoe holders I already had along with some covered boxes, baskets and Ziploc food storage containers. The clothespin labels are just like the ones from our clothes closet.

These are photos from Hubby and my trip to Barcelona. They were sitting in a box so I decided to showcase them in this frame I had something else in before. I’ve been to that city several times and I’m always so inspired by the mosaics and architecture and lively atmosphere. I found out I was pregnant with Boo-Boo on the day we got back so this trip was especially special.

Remember the mirror that reflected a blank wall? Now it reflects the windows and craft table. That light switch caused a spacing problem so I decided to hang it as a diamond instead of a straight square. (Thanks for making that happen, Hubby!)

I really wanted an area for Boo-Boo to be able to reach his toys and be able to pick and choose what he wanted. The four baskets have toys arranged by type. Once a week I rotate things out to keep it interesting. The books are also rotated. The toys not in use are in the second closet (along with out-of-season clothes) and the books are in the wall shelving. Those shelves, if you’ve never seen them before, are just brackets with large books on top. I’ve seen it done where they actually drill a hole in the book to make it the shelf, but I wasn’t about to puncture any of my precious books! (Props to Hubby for making these happen, too.)

Finally, my craft table is meant to be a bright and open workspace. I have a few supplies displayed in the curios above and a note board (made from ½  yard of fabric and an old poster frame) to post reminders and clip inspiration pieces. The box on the table is to keep the supplies I’m using for an ongoing project. I usually take several days to finish up and instead of leaving everything spread out I can store it in there quickly. There are more book shelves over here and a small couch for relaxing. In case we play too hard!


Crafty table


As my deadline for the One Month $100 Project approaches, I’ve been spending a lot of time in my new room and I can finally see some real changes. Like all my projects, I’m sure the final outcome won’t be exactly what I had in my head, but at least it will be an improvement on what it was… ah don’t remind me!

One of the most noticeable changes happened to this ordinary collapsable banquet table.

BEFORE: Drab table

It was purchased at Target several years ago for around $20. It’s metal on the bottom and plastic on top. I considered painting it but I was worried about the paint chipping off and, well, paint is expensive.

I was inspired by this Apartment Therapy post about using contact paper on a desk. Contact paper is usually used to line shelves and it comes in an assortment of colors and patterns. I got this one for around $6 at Target– I DO shop at other stores… from time to time. Anyway, here it is:

AFTER: Craft table with ironing pad

There was plenty on the roll for the table top and to cover some boxes. I actually messed up a big strip by removing the backing too quickly and it got all stuck to itself. Contact paper is easy to unstick from plastic and paper but gets easily tangled up with itself. So beware of that. But generally it was very easy to use. There was a mild glue smell but it went away in a few hours.

I also decided to add a small ironing pad to the top of my table. I’m often to lazy/forgetful/hurried to pull out the ironing board when I’m sewing. I took an old comforter that was destined for the dumpster and cut out a table-sized corner. Then I sewed a piece of fabric on top. It was very simple: just like making a pillow except there was nothing to stuff. I affixed Velcro to the four corners and the table so it won’t slip. (You can also see the recovered chair in action!)

Now I have a bold table with function on the side.

Hide it in a box


Yesterday, I talked about how I decided to try displaying some of my supplies while keeping most of them hidden away. With a limited budget, I didn’t have much money to spend on boxes to store things. I did spend $6 on clear, plastic storage boxes with lids (more about that later) and I bought new baskets for the toy shelf. This box was, however, free. Inspired by this tutorial on how to make a fabric-covered box, I decided to cover a shipping box with Contact paper.

BEFORE: Shipping boxes (brought Boo-Boo a gift from Nana!)

Following her advice, I used a box cutter to remove the top flaps from one of the boxes we recently received from Nana. I laid each side down on the back side of the paper and traced a line where I would need to cut. I left about a half inch extra. I peeled off the backing and stuck the sheet on. The great thing about working with Contact paper if you’ve never used it before is that it can be re-stuck if you don’t get it quite right on the first try as I often do. I cut a diagonal slit at the corners and folded the sides around the edges. I ended up leaving the inside plain cardboard brown. It could easily be covered or lined with fabric like the original tutorial shows. I did this one and a couple others.

AFTER: Decorative box

Fabric Bracelets


A few months ago, I bought several scarves and noticed they come on these plastic rings that make for easy display in the store.

BEFORE: Plastic rings from a scarf purchase

I couldn’t bring myself to throw them out with the tags. I’m really not a hoarder, I promise, but these sat around in my craft closet for a while before I got inspired by these fabric braceletsand decided to try my hand at it. One is wrapped with embroidery thread. The other is all scrap fabric. The one that’s all scrap has a more frayed look, but I kind of like that. Both have a small piece of scrap fabric to cover the beginning and end of the wrapping. There are many possibilities of fabric to use and ribbon would have a less frayed look if that’s what you wanted. The embroidery thread took a while to wrap, but not as long as I anticipated. I really like them because I get the look of bangles without the clanking sound that metal and glass bangles make. What do you think of the fabric bracelet trend?

AFTER: Fabric-wrapped Bracelets

I joined the Link Party at homework!

Trashy can


Like most people, I bought a large trash can for my kitchen and I bought trash bags to put inside it. But recently, I got tired of throwing away half-empty bags that I paid good money to buy (to throw away) in the first place. We recycle and reuse a lot of our waste so it was rare for me to fill up a bag before something inside started stinking up the place. Since we live in a townhouse that has dumpsters instead of door-to-door trash service, it just didn’t make since to continue using big bags.

BEFORE: Bought big bags (to throw away)

So I started using the (free) shopping bags in the kitchen. OF COURSE I usually remember to bring my own reusable bags to the store, but let’s face it: I forget sometimes. These bags are the perfect size for our needs. The only problem was that it looked terrible dangling from a cabinet or perched on top of the trash can. And Boo-Boo couldn’t contain his enthusiasm for pulling out banana peels or egg shells. The solution was two dollar store hooks:

AFTER: Hooked

A new life for old boxes


Not much makes me happier than saving something from the trash and giving it a new purpose.

These baby gate boxes were ready to go to the recycling bin:

BEFORE: Destined for the recycling.

For the smaller one, I decided to make a baby-safe mirror.

Boo-Boo loves to see his little reflection but I’m afraid to let him play with regular mirrors without close supervision. I found some mylar tissue paper for a few cents in the after-Christmas clearance at Target. I think I might have also seen it at the dollar store. Using the paper and my trusty clear packing tape, I affixed the mylar to all sides of the box. Because the tape pulled the paper a little, it sort of ended up like a wonky fun house mirror. He still likes it. The paper also makes a squeaky noise when he rubs his fingers on it, which brings him unexpected joy.

I think using glue instead of tape would have given a smoother finish, but this was quicker! I also wonder if just wrapping a regular mirror with packing tape would make it safe. Any thoughts on baby-safe mirrors? I know they can be purchased, but they are very expensive.

AFTER: Baby-safe mirror

For the larger box, I decided to cover the edges with the shiny mylar paper and the middle with a poster board. We are using it as a place to affix the “Letters of the Day” that Bean is learning. We talk about a different letter and decorate the paper letter with an initial-letter word that’s interesting to her. I got the inspiration for this activity from DLTK’s Alphabuddies ( and used their alphabet template.

AFTER: ABC board

Now Boo-Boo and Bean have new but virtually free learning tools.

Pool Noodle Pin Holder


This occurred to me one evening thanks to a jumble of clutter on top of my dresser. My box of bangle bracelets, pins, and an unused pool noodle all happened to be sitting next to each other and this idea popped into my head.

BEFORE: Pool noodle

So the noodle actually came into my home about a year ago. Our birthing class instructor gave it to us as a tool to put pressure on my back during labor. Honestly, I can’t remember if we used it for that, but it’s been hanging out for a few months now, waiting for something else to do.

I realized that it was almost exactly the same circumference as most of my bangles. I have a trove of bangle bracelets: glass, metal, all different colors. Most of them came from India and so they are sized a bit smaller than the average, ones-size-fits-most bangles here. So if you are wanting to re-create this, you may have to play with the circumference a little.

To create my pin holders, I sliced the noodle into sections using a kitchen knife. Then I found some small scraps of fabric and cut them into circles just slightly larger than the noodle. I used Fabri Tack to adhere them to the noodle’s top and bottom. Then I carefully placed the bangles on according to the pattern I wanted. The final bangles on the top and bottom should fit snugly and can be glued for caution.

Now I have a place for all my pins! (AND I can find the colors I want without sticking my fingers.)

AFTER: Pretty pin holders