Author Archives: sara bonert

Message Board Upcycle!


We really needed a place to hang our keys when we came in the house.  Now a normal person would have just gone to Target and bought the first set of key hooks they found and been done with it.  Of course that wasn’t the route I wanted to take, and I spent an abnormal amount of time searching for the perfect key holder – only to come up empty.

Then I went to Habitat For Humanity’s ReStore and found this gem for $4.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t a gem yet, more like a diamond in the rough.

Your grandma's message board keyholder

I started with a coat of my trusty Zinsser primer.  Then I scavenged around the house to find leftover white and blue spray paint, clear acrylic paint to seal it up and some leftover chevron fabric.  Put it all together and you’ve done away with your grandmother’s message board and have a new upcycled piece for the mudroom.  No more excuses for lost keys!

Keyhold Message Board with Chalk paint

Here they are side by side:

Key holder chalkboard message center

This was the first time I’d been to a ReStore and I have to say that I was totally impressed!  I’ll definitely be going back if I take on anymore home improvement projects, though it is hit or miss if you are looking for something specific.  But if you have rental properties or just need something to get by, it is like digging through a garage- only a lot cleaner!


Monogrammed Christmas Stockings


I know it is a little early for a holiday inspired post, but I just finished a project I wanted to share.

Now that I have my complete family of four, I wanted us all to have matching, monogrammed Christmas stockings.  I bought four stockings last year on my second favorite shopping day – the day after Christmas (closely behind Black Friday) at fifty percent off from Target.

The nice this about buying them at the end of December was that it gave me a full year to get the monogramming done.  And I’m happy to report that 10 months later I finally got around to finishing them.

To make the monograms I bought cheap 25 cent pieces of felt at Hobby Lobby, some white string with and needles with big eyes to thread the thicker white string through.  First I drew the letters on lined paper, which helped ensure they were all the same height, and then used that as a pattern to cut the felt letters.  Then I just used a simple stitch to attach the letter.  Voila, monogrammed stockings!

Now to start the process of buying things to fill them…

Monogrammed Christmas Stockings

The Difference Drapes Make


We have two big picture windows above our front door that let great light into the front of the house.

The previous homeowners, in their attempt to have beige infused in every aspect of this house, dressed the windows with three gauze window scarfs draped around them.  Can you guess the colors they chose?  Yup – light beige, beige, and dark beige/brown.

I really wish I had a before picture, but I don’t because they immediately had to come down when we moved in.  I’d rather have nothing on the windows than look at more beige each morning when I came down the steps.  So in lieu of the real deal, here is sort of what it looked like, to give you a before:

brown draped gauze scarf curtain

And the After. I am loving these curtain panels I found on, they are called Echo Positano Window Panel.

Echo Positano Window Panel

When you have to buy panels separately, the cost can add up.  So I found these on sale for $29.99 each.  Then used a 10% off coupon found on  Then started at for another 2% cash back- it all adds up!

Here is a close up of the material.  The light colors really help lighten up the space and let the sun in nicely.  The old window scarfs were draped in front of the actual window, which gets a lot of light.  So by the time we took them down, the part actually covering the window was very faded by the sun.  Since this are a lighter color, hopefully the eventual fade won’t be so noticeable, but it is something one should consider.

Echo® Positano Window Panel

Here is another dramatic drape makeover, in the dining room.  This time I have the before:

dining room

The elephants were a strange choice, given they weren’t beige and didn’t really go with the rest of the décor.


But I have to say, these cornices were so well crafted.  They were heavy and quality materials were used.  They must have cost hundreds of dollars to have made and hung.  I almost felt bad taking them down.  Except that I didn’t.   I did put them in storage though, I have a hunch they’ll be making an appearance on craigslist one of these days…

So down came the $500 custom window treatments, and up went my $50 for four panels from IKEA.  It was whole room instant makeover once these were hung.  The white made the whole room instantly brighter.  I love them.

White curtain panels from IKEA

Sending Expired Coupons To Overseas Military Members


Each month I go through my coupon book and sift out a mound of expired coupons. Instead of just tossing them, you can spread the savings love and send them to our Expired Coupons to Military familiesmilitary heroes overseas. They are able to use these expired coupons up to 6 months past the printed expiration date.

– You can send only manufacturer coupons. Obviously they don’t need American store and restaurant coupons overseas.  They also can’t be store specific coupons, like Target or Walgreens coupons.

– Please neatly trim the coupons.  If you are sending coupons printed from a computer, make sure the printing is very legible and not faded.

– Do not send coupons more than 30 days expired.  It takes time to mail, sort and receive the coupons, so they need the lead time.

– They do ask that you sort the coupons into Food and Non-Food. This is because on base there is the Commissary, which sells groceries. Then there is the Post Exchange (PX) or Base Exchange (BX) which is more of a general store. Sorting helps ensure the coupons are sent to the right type of store. Please put each type of coupon into one of these two groups and place the bundle in a baggie labeled as such.  No paper clips or rubber bands please.

Where to send them, once they are bagged and labeled, The Krazy Coupon Lady is helping to coordinate efforts.

From her site:

If you would like to donate your coupons to one our adopted bases, please send your coupons to our volunteer, Amanda Brumbaugh, currently heading up our donations! Amanda packages many boxes each month for shipment overseas and takes care of the customs forms so you don’t have to!

If you live West of the Mississippi:
KCL Overseas Coupon Program Amanda Brumbaugh 10960 W Bridgetower Dr Boise, ID 83709

If you live East of the Mississippi:
KCL Overseas Coupon Program Brandy McDowell 2930 Aubrey Dr Paducah, KY 42003

Or if you prefer to send your coupons directly to the overseas military base of your choice, you can read all the details on how to do this at

Great way to spread your support and savings!

Friendly Ghosts


Last year I made this ghost footprint art with Munchkin #1 when she was 8 months old.

ghost footprint

Fast forward a year later and Munchkin #1 is a year older and there is a Munchkin #2 in the picture!  I thought it was time for the first ghost to make some friends and document more feet.  I replaced last year’s foot with an updated print and made one for the new baby.

Mantel shot:


And then we did one together.

halloween art craft baby footprint

Imagine if we made a new ‘ghost’ every year, think how cute of ghost village we could have by the time the kids are 18!

Happy Halloween decorating!

No Chandelier In The Bathroom


As we are starting to gear up for a major master bath redesign, I’ve been busy pinning away on Pinterest for design ideas.  I absolutely love the look of an elegant chandelier above a soaker tub.

Well, apparently in Naperville, IL, it is illegal to have a chandelier in your bathroom a contractor recently told me.  It is against code because water and chandeliers don’t mix??

I guess the bright side is that it will save me money by not having to buy a beautiful new lighting chandelier.

The negative side is that my bathroom won’t have the ‘elegant beachy’ feel I love:

Master Bath

master bath

Buffet Table Upcycle


Earlier I blogged about the $15 buffet table I found on Craigslist.  I wanted the quatrefoil element to be a central design in my new family room and the price was right, so I was totally stoked to bring this home.  Only to have my husband not share my vision and say “I don’t want this room to look cheap”.  However, he’s been down this upcycle road with me before, so luckily he trusted the vision in my head.

Today, I think we have a beautiful piece that fits perfectly with the room.

Here is where we started.



Cabinet in the raw

Cabinet in the raw

The inside of the cabinet was pretty cool, if you are hosting a Mad Men party and wanted it to open to a full bar.  However, with two munchkins under two, my Mad Men days are over so I removed the stemware holders to allow for more storage.

inside unfinished

I sanded down the top pretty good because there were water stains on it.  However, I didn’t spend a lot of time sanding the whole piece because Zinsser Primer works so well in making sure the paint sticks to the wood.  If you want a paint job to last, starting with this product is imperative.  There are oil based and water based versions.  Personally, the oil based is messier and more toxic smelling, but I prefer it as I think it works the best.

So first I primed.  Then I painted the piece white (whatever is on sale is my favorite brand).  Next I painted the cut outs blue.  I wanted a perfect match to the room, so I used leftover wall paint to do this part. I painting these would be hard, but with a little paintbrush, it wasn’t hard at all.

Last was the poly.  I coated the whole cabinet with two light coats of Minwax and then about five heavier coats on the top, since this is the part that gets the most wear.  Using a small roller for the paint and poly is the way to go if you want to smooth finish.  I got brush strokes in it when I first started with a brush, which didn’t look good.  Though a brush came in handy when going around the trim.

There were two hard parts to this upcycle:

1) Applying poly to the blue cuts outs.  Make sure to get as clear of poly as you can find.  It is very watery and it accumulated in the bottom of each of the blue cut outs, drying in a yellow color.  I had to go back and repaint blue over it.  Then I used a very light coat of clear, spray top coat over the front.  I don’t like the spray coat product as much, as I don’t think it is as durable, but the front doesn’t get a lot of wear, so it works here.

2) There is a black hinge in the middle of the top.  You can have a long or short top shelf.  I liked it open, meaning the hinge shows in the middle.  At first I painted the hinge white.  As it opened and closed, the paint wore off unevenly, it looked bad.  So I sanded the paint off the hinge, leaving it in its original state.  It looked better, but not great.  So Plan B was a table runner to cover it altogether.  Much better.

Last step was reattaching the original hardware.

And here we go!  All done: