Category Archives: Furnishing Upcycles

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!


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:





Craigslist Upcycle – Beachy Chair


I’m in the process of getting quotes to redo my master bath.  One contractor came in and asked what I wanted.  “Think beachy,” I said… “bead board, white/light colors.”  “You can’t have that,” he said “you have the wrong style house for that look” (read in the soup Nazi voice, which was exactly what he sounded like).

Look, I know I live in Naperville, IL – no where near a beach.  And I know soon it will be minus zero degree weather – not exactly beach weather.  And I know I live in a track home built in the 90’s – not a quaint Victorian or Cape Cod home.  But this is my style and I’m sticking to it.  And since I don’t live at the beach, isn’t that all the more reason to design my home in a way that I can at least imagine I’m there?  Obviously this guy didn’t get the job.

On that note, my quest to “beachize” my home continues.  I found this jem on Craigslist for $15.  What a steal!  The bones were perfect, just a few scrapes on the wood and the cushion material was Blah.


This project was the first time I had reupholstered a chair, and it was the perfect one to start with because lines were all very straight and easy to replace.  No piping or sewing was necessary, no fabric on the arms, I didn’t replace the single tuft button and the seat padding didn’t need to be replaced.  Now I have a little more confidence under my belt to go bigger, but still don’t think I’m ready for a wing back chair redo… one day.

Few coats of primer, paint and poly on the frame and some beachy fabric and voila! New chair.

Front viewBack viewSide view

Yes, I think this chair go perfectly in my traditional, boring, builder grade, Midwestern home.  Soon to match my beachy bath!

Before and After

My Quatrefoil Living Room Vision Coming Together


When I envisioned my beach-colored living room, the design I really wanted to pop was a quatrefoil element. Today was my lucky day!

Check out the sideboard/bar (not sure yet if the contents will be liquor or fischer price toys) I scored on Craigslist for $15! Yes, it needs some love and to be lightened up. But the bones and design are fabulous.

unfinished 1

inside unfinished 2

Then I knew I had seen a quatrefold mirror at Hobby Lobby once, and it was on my route home, so I popped in. Two mirrors left AND 50% this week. Yeah, both for $75. Yes, they need some love too. Nothing a can of white spray paint can’t fix though! The mirrors look similar to this one I found on for $99.


The inner contemporary spirit of this dining set wanted to come out!


I know there are people out there that appreciate the beautiful grain of natural wood and love the look of a fine antique.  I am not one of them.  So when I saw this 100+ old dining set on Craigslist come up for sale, I thought – paint it! 

Even though it was in rough shape, I thought the bones were beautiful.  It sort of had a contemporary inner spirit that to me was dying to come out!

I paid $150 for the hutch, table and 6 chairs.  I spent about another $200 on paint, supplies, hardware and fabric. 

The before:


The after:

I got the fabric from, which was my first time purchasing from the site. I definitely saved some money by buying online verses at the fabric store. But there were a few issues with delivery, as the material I ordered went out of stock before I received it. Apparently they are in the middle of switching inventory systems, so hopefully this won’t be an issue in the future.

Now I need to find the perfect rug for underneath it and make matching curtains!