Browsing Category:

Upcycling

Summer Outdoor Decor Tour

Posted in DIY, Upcycling
on June 20, 2017

Hi, friends! Do you ever get the feeling that your brain is moving too fast, and you can’t keep up with everything you want to do? That’s where I’m at currently. I have about 15 different projects I’m working on, from starting an Etsy shop and finishing blog posts to projects around the house and planning some summer travel, along with work. I sometimes think my ambition and work ethic actually sabotage me, because it’s hard to focus on just one thing at a time, and I end up not being as productive as I could be if I just slowed down a bit. 

 

Needless to say, I’ve only been on summer “break” for a little over a week, and I have yet to actually take a second to relax. Luckily, Steve and I are planning a little trip next week, but in the meantime I have a ton to do! One of the items that’s been on my to-do list forever was to photograph our porch and deck decor to share with you guys, because I love the way our yard is looking this summer! Ironically, we haven’t been out on the deck and porch nearly enough as we should to enjoy them, because life has been so crazy – so that’s a priority for the rest of the summer! 

 

After I found the old church pew down the street from us, our outdoor decor really came together quickly. I painted the pew, found an old easel that I turned into a chalkboard, bought an old ladder for the porch, and painted our old deck furniture to give it a little face lift. The lights on the deck and the fresh flowers and throw pillows really pulled everything together! 

 

To hang our deck lights, I installed makeshift posts by cementing 2x2s into galvanized buckets, and topped them with some soil and flowers to make them look a little nicer. I found a post on Pinterest from City Farmhouse that gave me this idea, thanks Jen! The lights on our porch and deck make it look so magical and summery, I’m in love! Here’s a little tour: 

 Our deck before:

And now!

 

Some befores from our porch: 

Found this vintage easel for $5!

The FREE church pew I scored right down the street!

And our porch now: 

I can’t wait to host summer BBQs and parties at our house now that the interior and exterior are coming along! Tell me, have you worked on your yard or outdoor spaces at all this spring and summer? I’d love to see what you’ve been working on! 

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’  for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!

 

{Interested in collaborations, or have questions, comments, or feedback for me? Please feel free to email at emma@byemmawithlove.com – I’m always happy to chat!}

One Room Challenge: Week 5 {Coffee Bar Upcycle}

Posted in DIY, Upcycling
on May 4, 2017

Oh my goodness, friends, we’re so close to the end of the One Room Challenge! I am so so so excited to share the big reveal of our kitchen makeover with you, and I’m very busy putting all the finishing touches on everything. So for now, I wanted to give you one last sneak peek – the old cabinet I upcycled into a coffee bar! 

As soon as I made these shelves last fall, I had a plan to create a coffee bar to go along with it. I had been looking for the right piece since we moved in, but nothing seemed quite right. And if you know me, patience isn’t exactly one of my strong suits. But in this case, it really paid off, because I found this lovely antique cabinet on Craiglist. 

It was falling apart and mismatched, but isn’t that how all great makeovers begin? I was able to update the cabinet into a perfect coffee bar using just some sandpaper, spraypaint, wood, and basic hand tools. The total cost (including the cabinet!) came to less than $100! And the finished* product is exactly what I had in mind. 

 

*disclaimer: I still need to put the door hinges on and put a coat of poly on the top of the wood. It’ll be fully done by the reveal next week, I promise!! 

This is one of those projects that maybe looks impressive (at least to me), but was actually so simple to put together. It was as easy as sanding down some of the chipping paint, giving everything a coat of spray paint (including some oil-rubbed bronze spraypaint for the hardware), and making a new tabletop. 

Excuse the awful-lighting nighttime pics!

 

To build the tabletop, I bought boards that were the same width as my shelves for a nice uniform look. This also saved me the trouble of cutting the boards! I wanted to bulk up the tabletop a bit, so I created a little overhang by first gluing, and then securing a board to the front with a couple small nails. I used my usual method of staining wood to stain the boards before attaching them together.

 

I used liquid nails to attach the board to the top of the cabinet, and voila! The coffee bar was basically done! 

I gave the old, worn out hardware a quick coat of oil-rubbed bronze spray paint, which really pops nicely against the white. All that’s left to do is to install the hinges and seal the top, and it’ll be all ready to go for the kitchen reveal next week. 

 

I have had so much fun during this One Room Challenge, and I’m going to be so sad when it’s over! I can’t wait to share the finished product with you all next week! 

 

How are your One Room Challenges coming along? I’d love to hear about them! 

Check out my previous One Room Challenge posts:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4 

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’  for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!

 

{Interested in collaborations, or have questions, comments, or feedback for me? Please feel free to email at emma@byemmawithlove.com – I’m always happy to chat!}

 

DIY Crate Window Seat

Posted in DIY, Upcycling
on March 30, 2017

I have a thing for natural light. Show me a house/room with big windows that let lots of sunlight in, and I can almost guarantee I’ll love it. One of my favorite things about my classroom at school is the huge windows I have, and one of my favorite things about our house is all the natural light we get. And out of all the rooms in our house, my favorite room to be in during the day is our dining room, because of this. 

 

 

Our house was previously owned by a couple who really saw its beauty. When they first moved in, it was a disaster – the previous owners hadn’t taken care of it, and almost everything had to be redone. Luckily for us, the new owners cared as much about maintaining as much of the house’s original charm as we do, and kept a lot of the house as original as possible to its 1867 design. The hardwood floors in our house are not original to the house, but were from an 1850s-era house in a neighboring town and laid by hand, so they have an authentic vibe. Most of the windows were replaced before we moved in, but the bay window in our dining room was simply given a paint touch-up and left alone. Which I’m so thankful for, because it’s one of my favorite details in our house! 

 

 

Ever since we moved in, I’ve had my eye on this spot in our dining room. It’s a bit too big to not do anything with. I’ve been wanting to buy a piano for a long time, and I talked to the hubby about getting a piano to put in that spot, but we didn’t want to block the window, and we also want to be able to use that space for our Christmas tree each year. I considered making it into a little breakfast/coffee nook, but with our dining room table just a few feet away, that seemed pointless.  So I decided that a window seat was the only solution. Just big enough to add some interest to the space, but small and inconspicuous enough that it doesn’t take any attention away from the window itself. 

 

I haven’t quite yet jumped in to the world of woodworking (stay tuned for my adventures into that arena soon!) and wanted the bench to be simple, affordable, and removable if possible (I try not to make too many things permanent just in case I change my mind later!). The obvious solution was to use some crates as the base for this window seat! 

 

 

If you’re in the DIY/crafting world, you probably know all about the ways to get the most for your money at JoAnn, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc. These stores aren’t cheap, and crafting costs can add up quick if you aren’t smart about how you shop! Luckily, all three of these stores have fantastic sales and coupons, so I’m usually able to get a really good deal on the supplies I need. The materials I used for this bench are:

  • 4 wooden crates – I got them for about $9 each
  • 1 wooden board (72″ x 18″ x 1″) – I found this at Menards
  • 3″ craft foam (2 yards) – use a coupon for this if possible, mine was $40 per yard before using a coupon!
  • Muslin (2.5 yards)
  • Screws, a drill, and staple gun
  • Extra boards and L brackets, optional

 

The bench was pretty easy to put together, and only took an afternoon, a bit longer if you count painting it. I painted the crates the night before, using the same paint we had used for our dining room walls. The next day, once the crates were dry, I assembled the base of the bench. 

 

Since I wanted the crates to fit above the trim at the bottom of our wall, I put down a couple boards as a base on the floor to attach the crates to. This is optional, based on preference. I also attached a board with a couple L brackets on the baseboard behind the crates, in order to support the seat, which was a bit longer in depth than the crates on their own. If you use a board for the seat that’s the same depth as the crates, you can skip this step. 

 

 

I attached each of the crates to the base board using a few screws, and then used screws to connect each of the crates to each other. I did not attach anything to the floor or walls, since I wanted the bench to be pretty easily removable. 

 

 

Now all that was left was the seat! I double checked that the board I bought would fit the space, and it was a perfect fit. 

 

 

{Side note: you’ll notice that one of the crates here is slightly different from the other 3 – within about a day of building this bench, I went and bought a different crate that would match better 🙂 }

To make the seat for the bench, I used the wooden board as the base, and attached foam and muslin to the top using a staple gun. 

 

Cyder assumed the foam was her own personal bed.

 

It was as simple as laying the muslin down on the floor, placing the foam next, and the board on top, and then stapling the corners and edges to the bottom of the board until the fabric and foam were smooth and firmly attached. I simply slid the seat onto the base crates, and voila! A window seat for under $100 and just a couple hours. 

 

 

I love how this space adds a touch of warmth and interest to our dining room, without covering the window or overpowering the space. It’s exactly what I was imagining. And Cyder has already claimed it as her #1 lookout space, of course. 

 

 

 

 

And how cute are these throw pillow covers I found on Amazon?! Seriously, Amazon Prime is the most dangerous and wonderful thing. {I may or may not be cruising the site for decor stuff as we speak…}

 

 

So, there you have it! My latest DIY addition to our house. I feel like I’ve been going a mile a minute lately with ideas, projects and plans, and I can’t wait to share them all with you soon! Stay tuned for some delicious recipes, a couple mini room makeovers, and a new series of blog posts that I can’t wait to tell you about! 

 

Do you have a favorite spot in your house? Do you have any window seats? I’d love to hear from you! 

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’  for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!

 

{Interested in collaborations, or have questions, comments, or feedback for me? Please feel free to email at emma@byemmawithlove.com – I’m always happy to chat!}

DIY Vintage Window Sign

Posted in DIY, Upcycling
on December 18, 2016

I can’t be the only one who prefers to make most of the Christmas gifts I give, right? There’s something about giving a gift that you made yourself that’s so gratifying and special, and generally the receiver of the gift thinks so too! Unfortunately, making gifts takes time, and Christmas has really ambushed me this year. So much to do in so little time! 

Today I have a simple DIY gift or home decor idea for you: an upcycled window-turned sign. 

I made this sign a few weeks ago when I was working on the farmhouse shelves for our kitchen, and it’s become one of my favorite things. Because DIY, and upcycling, and cheap, and breakfast, obviously. And it’s the perfect easy-but-looks-impressive gift to give this holiday season as well! 

 

I bought 7 or 8 of these old windows off Craigslist last summer for $25, because I figured I could find something to do with them. Turns out, it was the best $25 I could’ve spent, because I’m already finding all kinds of uses for them! These window signs are one of my favorites. 

 

Besides the window(s), all you need to make this project is a printer and a paint pen (I used Sharpie oil-based paint pens for these), and about an hour of time (depending on your design). If you want to try to free-hand a design, go for it! I just don’t fully trust myself with hand-lettering yet 🙂

 

If you don’t have antique/vintage windows available to you, another option is using a glass frame (the kind you use for floating photos) to achieve the same type of look. I really encourage you to check out Craigslist, your local thrift and antique shops, and garage sales, though, because there are always cool windows to be found!

 

So here’s how you make one:

Step 1: Wash your window! Use a damp soapy cloth for the trim and window cleaner for the glass to make it nice and clean and shiny. At this point you can also paint your window if you want it to be a different color – mine was already white, so I left it. 

Step 2: Pick a quote, phrase, or word that you want on your sign. I went with breakfast because it works well for our kitchen and a farmhouse vibe, but quotes work well too (I made a couple as gifts that I can’t post on here before Christmas, but I’ll add them later for you all to see!)

Step 3: Type your quote or phrase in whatever font you like, and print it off. I used one font in three sizes, but I’ve also done windows using 2-3 fonts that have looked great!

Step 4: Cut out your words/letters. For the curved typography, I just cut out each letter individually so I could arrange them on a curve.

Step 5: Arrange your lettering, and tape the words to the back of your window. 

Step 6: Use a paint pen to outline each of the letters, and carefully fill them in. 

Step 7: Remove the paper from the back of the window, and go over any spots you missed with your paint pen.

Once the paper is removed, it’s easy to see the spots that need to be filled in.

Step 8: Allow any wet paint spots to fully dry, and display! 

 

These are seriously so easy, and you can make them personalized depending on who they’re for – you can use different fonts to achieve different decor styles, different quotes for people based on what they are inspired by, or write last names or wedding dates and use it as a wedding gift – the possibilities are endless! And if you hunt for a good deal on some windows, they’re super budget-friendly, too. 

 

What are your favorite Craigslist or garage sale finds to use for projects? What signs do you have in your home that represent you? I would love to hear from you! 

 

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’ for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!

 

DIY Shelves (for under $40!)

Posted in DIY, Upcycling
on December 16, 2016

What do you do when you have an open wall in your kitchen, a bunch of mugs you don’t have cupboard space for, a love of all hot beverages and a small budget? DIY shelves and a beverage station, obviously! 

When we first moved into our house and I finished painting, I immediately noticed a big blank space in our kitchen on one of the walls. We have a high top table in the corner of our kitchen, but otherwise there’s just open space that was just begging to be filled. With a beverage station, obviously. 

I haven’t built the bar/beverage cart yet, because I’m waiting on Santa for some power tools (that’s a normal thing to ask for, right?), but I did get some shelves built and stocked, and I’m in love with them! I love the look of farmhouse shelves, especially floating shelves, but I didn’t have the time/money/expertise to take on building floating shelves at the moment, so I improvised. And I have to say, for paying under $40 total for all the supplies to make these shelves, I’m pretty excited about how they turned out! 

Posting a tutorial for this seems a bit silly because it was seriously so easy, but I love you guys so I’ll post it anyways! The shelves only required a few materials, a lot of which I already had on hand. 

 

Materials: 

3 wooden boards (I bought 48-inch 1×10’s from the budget wood department, there’s nothing wrong with the cheaper boards as long as you make sure they’re straight!

6 metal L corner-braces (mine were 8-inch braces)

Drywall screws

Anchors (if you’re screwing into drywall)

Metal cup hooks

Black spray paint (if you want to paint your brackets)

Wood stain (I used Minwax Wood Finish, both Weathered Oak and English Chestnut)

Tools: level, tape measure, drill 

The process was super easy! 

1. Sand down your boards to smooth the edges and corners, and remove any printed text. 

2. Stain the boards. I like to use Weathered Oak for a couple minutes, and then English Chestnut for a couple minutes to get a nice farmhouse look. 

3. Spray paint your brackets (if desired).

4. Mount your brackets. Use a level and tape measure to make sure your shelves are evenly spaced and even!

5. Drill small holes evenly spaced into your bottom shelf, and screw the cup screws into the board. 

6. Mount your shelves, securing them to the brackets with screws. 

7. Decorate and enjoy!! 

 

I used the bottom shelf for all our hot beverage needs (coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and all the fixins’, this is seriously begging to be used constantly over the holidays!) and used some antique finds to fill the rest of the shelf. Not to mention the window sign I made a few weeks ago, which is one of my favorite DIYs ever because it represents our lives so well (all the breakfast). Stay tuned for a tutorial on that soon! 

All of the mugs were hand-lettered by me as well, which is a work in progress for me but I’m loving how they turned out! They’re the perfect festive drinkware to serve hot cocoa, a latte, or a mug of mulled wine

Overall, I’m so happy I took the plunge and installed these shelves! I smile every time I see them when I walk into our kitchen, and I can’t wait to build a little bar below them to complete the look. 

 

What projects have you done for your home that you’re most proud of? Do you have a beverage station in your house? I’d love to hear from you! 

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’ for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!

 

 

 

 

Christmas Decor Home Tour

Posted in DIY, Upcycling
on December 12, 2016

 

As soon as Thanksgiving is over, I go straight into hardcore-Christmas mode. It’s my favorite time of the whole year, and I actually love waiting to decorate until Thanksgiving is over, because the Christmas season feels that much more special and exciting when it only lasts for a month. This past weekend we got our first measurable snow (that isn’t going to melt right away) and it’s finally feeling like Christmas, so I wanted to share our Christmas decor with you all! 

christmas10

The hubby and I had a lot of fun picking out decorations and an artificial tree, since it’s really our first Christmas by ourselves and in our new home. I admit, I went a little overboard (what else is new?) and don’t quite know when to stop. Once again, I hesitated posting about our decor until everything was perfect, but once again, I realized that it doesn’t have to be perfect to show you all! I still have a few finishing touches to add, but most of our home is Christmas-ready! 

christmas4

The tutorial for this homemade wooden tray will be on the blog soon!

A lot of our Christmas decor is vintage, upcycled or completely homemade. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with a more farmhouse Christmas style this year, and I’m excited to share it with you all! One of my favorite vintage items we incorporated into the Christmas decor this year is a set of vintage skis my mom found for me. When she bought them, they were a bit worse for wear, and the previous owners had stenciled yellow stars onto them. Nothing a little paint stripper and wood stain couldn’t fix! 

christmas16christmas15

 

christmas14

The finished product!

I also made the wooden sign that’s displayed in our house, using some leftover boards, wood stain and white Sharpie – I love how it turned out! I couldn’t decide whether to put the vintage skis and sled inside the house or on the porch, so they’re inside for now, but I’ve had them outside as well.

I just can’t decide! 🙂 So many spaces to decorate!! 

christmas1

christmas11

chritsmas5

I made our wreaths for super cheap using some basic craft store materials, I love how it turned out!

Probably my favorite part of our Christmas decor is on the brand new shelves/beverage station I built in our kitchen – stay tuned for the big reveal soon! For now, a sneak peek: 

I’m loving the simplistic, farmhouse Christmas look this year to match our home decor style. What are your favorite Christmas decorations? Are any of them family heirlooms or homemade? I’d love to hear from you! 

Blog Sign-Off

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’ for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!

Living Room Gallery Wall

Posted in DIY, Upcycling
on November 10, 2016

One of my favorite things about home decor is how personal it is. Going into someone’s home is like seeing a bit into their soul; the way the decorate, the pictures they display, the colors they use, all say so much about a person. Now that we are in our first home, it’s so important to me that our house represents who we are, and I feel like this gallery wall in our living room is a great glimpse into our lives.

livingroom2

I finally got some of my favorite wedding pictures printed, and knew I wanted to devote a wall to them. Picture frames and wall decor can be so overpricedthough, so I used a strategy I’ve used in the past in order to achieve the perfect balance between mismatched and matchy-matchy: picking a couple colors/styles, and running with it! 

For the picture frames, I bought a whole pile of frames for super cheap at Goodwill – the grand total for all the frames I used was $16. I then spray-painted them so they’d all match, and within 10 minutes had frames that were as good as new!

gallerywall1 gallerywall2

A bunch of white frames on their own would be a little flat, though, so I rounded up some other wall pieces as well. I had the “love” metal piece already, but I wanted a barn wood look as well. a $5 Goodwill frame and an ampersand and arrow that I stained myself added some great interest and broke up the white a bit (more on my method for staining wood later!). I found the pallet-inspired wooden sign at Walmart, just by chance, and decided it would be the perfect base for some string art, which I’ve been dying to try since I first saw the idea on Pinterest! 

gallerywall6

String art is seriously so simple, it almost doesn’t even need a tutorial. All you do is print off a map, use nails around the border (as close together or far apart as you want; I varied my spacing). Then take string or embroidery floss, knot it on one nail, and then wrap it from the heart (or center point) to your border nails until you’re done! I’m from Minnesota and Steve is from Wisconsin, so it’s fitting that the location of our wedding and our new home are both right on the border between the two states. I made a little heart on the map where we live, and I love how personal this piece turned out! 

gallerywall7 gallerywall8 gallerywall4

Before I hung up the pieces on the wall, I played around with a few different layouts to decide what would work best. Steve helped too, to figure out how to arrange the frames. 

gallerywall9

I know some people use more complicated and accurate ways of hanging up wall art; I’ve seen some great tutorials using newspaper to trace the shapes onto and use as a template for nail holes on the wall. I tend to just take a chance and go for it, though – I started with the wall hangings that were going in the middle, and worked outward from there. Luckily it turned out okay on the first try! It’s been my experience that since gallery walls are supposed to look mismatched, it’s okay if the frames aren’t perfectly spaced. But use the method that works best for you! 

One of the great things about gallery walls is that you can really keep adding to them as much as you want, and the mismatched items mean that they’re super versatile. I may add more to this wall in the future, but for now I’m loving the way it turned out, and how it represents us! 

livingroom10

I also paid less than $50 total for all of the supplies and pieces for this wall. Not bad at all! 

What are your favorite ways to incorporate gallery walls into your home? I’d love to hear from you! 

Blog Sign-Off

Living Room: Before and After

Posted in DIY, Upcycling
on November 7, 2016

lovelyflower

I feel like my brain is this big cavern full of a random jumble of ideas. At any given time, you can guarantee I’m in the middle of at least five projects, while coming up with ideas for more. I’m also a perfectionist. Because of this, I sometimes get into the mindset that everything needs to be done and “perfect” before I can post it. I’m trying to move past that belief though, since I want to share my life with all of you, and it’s sometimes (often) messy and incomplete! 

I have been working on lots of finishing touches for our living room since the day I painted it, but I know that I’ll never truly be done. I handmade, or at least made changes to, approximately 95% of the decor in our living room, and I still have a list of projects in the works that I hope to share with you all soon. For now, though, I wanted to give you a glimpse into what’s probably my second favorite room in our new house (after the kitchen, of course). 

livingroom3

When we first moved in, the living room was painted brown on three walls, and a pinkish-peach on one wall. As Steve likes to say, it was “fine,” but it definitely wasn’t my taste and it made the room seem outdated and dark. I used the same paint color for the living room as I did for the dining room and our stairs/hallways, which I’m so glad I did, because it made paint shopping so easy, and it’s such a versatile color (this is Valspar Woodlawn Colonial Grey). Just the new color made all the difference in freshening and brightening our living room, but I knew I wanted to add some decor touches to make it our own. I absolutely love gallery walls, and I finally got some of our wedding photos printed, so I put together a gallery for the open space on the wall. {This wall is almost 100% DIY projects, you can see more details about my gallery wall here!} I made new curtains, made pillowcases for the throw pillows, and upcycled an old steamer trunk into a coffee table – so basically this living room has been DIYed from top to bottom!

livingroom4

I used some wonderfully vintage-looking knobs that I found at Hobby Lobby and on Amazon to tie our curtains back, and I love the mismatched vibe. 

livingroom5

The living room definitely has work still to be done, but I love how it’s looking so far. I’ve been scoping out some power tools to put on my wishlist for Santa this year, cause I’m really itching to try out some woodworking and furniture building (next up on my list are some side tables, shelves, and a new TV stand!) For now, I’m trying to enjoy the “work in progress” – because I don’t think I’ll ever be done adding homemade touches to our home! 

livingroom1

Coming soon on the blog: my continued DIY adventures, as well as all sorts of holiday goodness! The holidays are by far my favorite time of the year, I love the coziness and joy, and the extra time spent with friends and family. Stay tuned for some homemade gift ideas, Thanksgiving and Christmas decor, wintery adventures, and some yummy treats and meals to serve to your loved ones! 

Until next time, 

Blog Sign-Off

 

farmhouse-living-room-makeover

Steamer Trunk Coffee Table Makeover

Posted in DIY, Upcycling
on October 30, 2016

trunk-collage

So you know how you sometimes start a project, thinking it’ll take an afternoon, and you end up spending a month on it? No? Just me? Well, regardless, this trunk makeover turned into a way bigger project than I ever anticipated. Since we finally had a weekend without any plans, and it’s been a bit cold and gross outside, I was able to devote most of the weekend to finishing this trunk makeover – and I absolutely LOVE the result!

trunk-after-4

The story of this trunk goes back a few weeks to a Sunday afternoon drive with Steve (you can read more about some of our Sunday adventures here). We were driving back towards home, and came across a tiny antique shop labeled only with a sign saying “Old Stuff.” Enough said! Steve actually agreed to stop, and I was shocked and excited to find that all the antiques at this shop were so affordable! I found an old painted steamer trunk for only $20, and instantly bought it with the intention to use it as a coffee table. 

trunk-1

The trunk itself wasn’t anything special. It was in fine condition, but had been covered top-to-bottom in a thick coat of brown paint. I, personally, love the personality of antiques and the different colors and features in old trunks, so I was curious to see what was underneath all that paint! I figured I would strip the paint off, and then either re-paint it or stain it, depending on the condition of the trunk.

I’ve never used paint stripper before, and let me tell you, this stuff scares me. If it’s strong enough to take layers of paint and stain off of anything, that’s generally something you don’t want touching your skin! But I found a “safer” paint stripper at the store and decided to take the leap. Here’s where I made my first mistake. I bought the spray version of the stripper, thinking that the application would be much quicker and easier. Which is true – the spray was easy to apply and worked super quickly. What I didn’t think about, though, was how many little pieces of the trunk would get the orange stripper in them, and need to be carefully and tediously cleaned out. This definitely took extra time. Since I haven’t tried stripping paint off a trunk using the paint-on stripper, though, it’s hard to say if that would have been any faster. Either way, it did the job. 

trunk-13

So after spending awhile out on my deck scrubbing away at the trunk and scraping off layer after layer of paint, I came to the base of the trunk, finally. And I was a little disappointed. The wooden strips going around the trunk came out to a beautiful (if a little worn out) wood finish, but I was bummed to see that the rest of the trunk was covered in canvas. Mucky green canvas, to be precise. The metal parts of the trunk were pretty grungy and rusty, so I knew there was some work to be done there as well. 

trunk-12

This is where I took a break on my project. I couldn’t decide my best course of action – should I repaint the canvas parts, and stain the wood? Paint all of it again? Try to take the canvas off and see what was underneath, even though I had no idea of the condition? Well, if you know me, you know I don’t do anything halfway. And I couldn’t just give up on my dreams of a stained wooden trunk. So out came the X-Acto knife and off came the canvas. After clearing off as much of the canvas as possible, there was a thick layer of glue-muck left, so I sanded the whole trunk probably 3-4 times before I was fully satisfied that most of the fabric residue was gone. I then took a wire brush to all the metal parts of the trunk to get rid of as much rust and leftover paint as possible, and gave the whole exterior a good cleaning to get rid of the dirt and dust that was left there. 

trunk-11

trunk-2

Since the top of the trunk was a little bit warped, and it’s not a flat enough surface to be a coffee table anyways, I planned to add a top of some kind to the trunk. I considered glass, but ultimately settled on a wood top instead to maintain the more rustic charm. Since I knew the top would be covered, I was able to use the top of the trunk as my “test” space for a few different stains/treatments to see which I liked best and to help me decide what to do with the sides. I eventually decided to try using coconut oil on the darker wood strips to moisturize and enhance the color, a trick I’ve seen on Pinterest – and I was not disappointed! 

trunk-5

The wood looked so much better after a quick rub with coconut oil. The lighter wood still had a bit of a green tinge to it, so I knew I would need to stain it. I eventually decided on Weathered Oak Wood Finish by Minwax – it kept the trunk’s antique vibe while freshening the color a little bit. 

trunk-3

I ended up using two coats of the stain in order to get the color I wanted – beware, it does darken even after a few hours, so wait awhile between coats to make sure you’re getting the color you want! While my stain was drying, I went to work polishing up the metal hardware on the trunk. I also discovered what may be my new favorite craft product: Rub n’ Buff. 

trunk-6

You simply put a little bit on a rag or your finger (I found that a finger works better) and rub it onto your surface, and then continue rubbing/buffing until it gets nice and shiny! 

trunk-7 trunk-8

Seriously, this stuff is amazing. It freshened up the look of the whole trunk, and I’m already brainstorming other uses for it in other projects! 

Ok, so we’re getting there now. At this point, I had a nicely freshened up trunk (with a warped top). I bought some plain wooden boards from Menards, cut them down to size (with a hand saw, because I still have only a super basic collection of tools), and started to put together a tabletop for the coffee table. 

trunk-10

I decided to take my chances with strong wood glue, and I glued the boards together to form the tabletop. Since the top of the trunk had raised wooden planks running across it, I designed the tabletop to fit into the spaces and lay flat, by nailing three boards to the bottom of the tabletop that would fit the grooves. I then stained the edges of the top that I knew would hang over the trunk, using Minwax English Chestnut, which closely matched the darker wood on the trunk. 

trunk-17

Once the stain and glue were dry, I attached the tabletop to the top of the trunk, and finished staining the rest of the wooden piece. I decided to seal the tabletop with a couple coats of polyurethane, since as a coffee table it will need to be pretty durable. 

And there you have it! My upcycled steamer trunk coffee table! 

trunk-after-3

Cyder feels the need to model for all of my photos!

I don’t think I’m done working on this trunk yet – it’s become a real labor of love for me. At some point, I may tackle the still pretty beat up areas of the exterior, or, if I’m feeling really ambitious, try to redo the interior so that it’s fit to be used as storage! As of now, let’s just say the inside of the trunk is in desperate need of a clean-up and facelift. But for now, I’m super happy to add this trunk to our living room, which is slowly but surely coming together! Stay tuned for a reveal of our living room before/afters coming soon (also featuring homemade curtains and a DIY gallery wall, which I’m working on tutorials for!)

I’m loving having some time and space this fall to really explore my creativity and try out new ideas to share with you all! It’s truly the best stress relief for me and my favorite way to spend a weekend (while drinking coffee/wine and re-watching Gilmore Girls in anticipation of the revival, obviously). I hope you’re all enjoying this Halloween weekend! 

Until next time, 

Blog Sign-Off