Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

April 30, 2012

How to Stencil a Mirror - A Feminist DIY Craftivism Project

I recently made a cute and poignant feminist DIY project that I'm so thrilled so share with you!  As you know, I'm pursuing a PhD in Feminist and Gender studies and I've been struggling for a way to combine my academic pursuits and my passion for making things.  This craftivist project combines my two loves perfectly - and there's even some mint and a yard sale find involved!

Feminist stenciled mirror
Feminist DIY project

I just love how my stenciled mirror turned out!  Thanks to the help of a custom stencil, I stenciled an important feminist message on a mirror, as a daily reminder of the social construction of what is beautiful.   I need this reminder in my life.

Here's how I made this stenciled mirror:

First I painted a cute, ornate frame that I found yard saling last summer.  Using a small paintbrush, I primed it first, then applied three coats of a pale, pale turquoise (the same paint I used for the framed bakelite brooches).  Spray paint would make this task a little easier, but I started tackling this project when it was still too cold to paint outside.

Painting an ornate frame

Unfortunately, my attempts to simply tape off the frame were ultimately unsuccessful because you could see the underside of the frame reflected in the glass.  Oops.  So, I quickly took it apart, painted the back and inner edge of the frame, then put it back together.

Word to the wise: take a mirror apart before painting!

Now for the fun part!  I was inspired by this feminist warning I saw on Pinterest:

daily reminder of the social construction of what is beautiful
via Pinterest
I ordered a custom stencil from Stencils Online with these same words.  Stencils Online create amazing custom stencils and are super DIY savvy.  Once I had sent over my designs, they provided me with proofs, offering me a variety of options and making sure I was 100% happy during the entire process.  Once I was satisfied with the font, size, and layout, I was sent two durable, polyester film (Mylar) custom stencils.

Feminist warning stenciled on mirror

I used a temporary spray adhesive to keep the stencil from slipping once it was positioned in place.  I covered everything but the stencil with newspaper and then I lightly misted the stencil with thin, even coats of white Krylon Primer (leftover from these play kitchen projects).  I figured primer would grip the glass really well - just rolling on latex paint did not work.   

Feminist home decor

It kind of looks like it has been etched, no?  That could actually be another way to emblazon a mirror with this feminist statement, but spray paint was easy and affordable for me.

Feminist crafting // Feminist craftivism
Feminist craft idea

It looks more faded in the photos above because I took them at an angle to avoid getting yours truly in the shot.  Do you have any idea how darn hard it is to photograph a mirror? 

Now I have a beautiful "new" mirror, with a feminist twist!  And my penchant for ornate mirrors has officially blossomed into a full-blown obsession!  Remember my DIY magnetic message board, card display and vintage framed bakelite brooches? I need a support group.

If you're thinking of doing a project with custom stencils, alphabet stencils or decorative lettering, I highly recommend Stencils Online because their customer service, pricing and product can't be beat! 

How to stencil words on a mirror

Curious about my second stenciled mirror project?  Click the link to see!

Feminist craftivism stenciled mirror

April 27, 2012

Giveaway Winner!

I was super excited about my most recent giveaway because the prize was pretty substantial ($75 worth of outdoor patio furniture covers - sweet)!

I used to generate a winning comment: #12, which is from Lesley of Fabulously Flawed.  Lesley maximized every single entry opportunity (tweeting & facebooking & checking out the site).  It paid off!

Thank you to Empire Patio Covers for partnering with me to host this giveaway.

Thanks also to all who participated.  Sorry you couldn't all win, but I have a bunch of giveaways in the works so you will have many more chances to win cool stuff, just for stopping by the townhouse!  Imagine how odd this would be outside of blogland: "Hi friend, thanks for stopping by. Want some cool stuff? Okay, but you have to tweet about it first . . . "
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April 26, 2012

Hot Pink Dasy Frame + DIY Mini Abstract

Monday I woke up to see snow on the ground.  Tuesday I was newly ecstatic that it was only overcast and raining.  Today it is just chilly.  If your weather is being as uncooperative as what we're experiencing in Ottawa, you might be craving spring with an overzealous enthusiasm.  I can’t change the weather, but I can suggest a healthy dose of colour that will bring enough zest into your home that you just might forget about the dreariness.

Take a peak at the Vintage Chic and Dasy Frames from Fresh Home Elements (FHE Group):

What a great way to inject a small dose of bright colour, right?  

If you haven’t heard of this company, you will, because their affordable, contemporary home accents (including some really clever ottomans) have won over major retailers like Home Outfitters, HBC, Costco, Winner’s, Homesense and Black’s Photography (to name a few).  What I love is that Fresh Home Elements was founded by two Canadians in 2009, and now they sell their products worldwide!  Dream big, Canadians, dream big.

The day it snowed, I was sent one of the hot pink Dasy frames to review (sold at Black’s Photography, $9.99-$14.99).  I was so excited to incorporate the shot of hot pink into the townhouse, I immediately whipped up a bright little abstract using acrylic paint and heavy, pale pink cardstock paper (I pretty much just scribbled with paint and a tiny brush).  

I think the vivid colour and cute texture contrast nicely with my crisp white walls, but imagine a grouping of the orange Dasy frames against grey walls (Gemma did a nice round up for inspiration).  Or picture the bright yellow Vintage Chic frames with an earthy, neutral palette.  Highlighter hues are so hot right now for home decor (as well as fashion), and these frames are a simple (and un-intimidating) way to get in on that trend.

Want some more details?  Click the links to check out the Fresh Home Elements Website, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter (@FHEGroup). 

PLUS check back the first week of June (shortly before my birthday), when I’ll be partnering with Fresh Home Elements for a giveaway!  Hopefully it will be sunny by then, and you can pop a colourful beach shot into the frame you win.  P.S. don't forget to enter my current giveaway!

I tossed in a bit of a coppery-gold and I actually really like it with the hot pink and neon yellow.
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April 25, 2012

To Expedit, With Love (Part II)

You all know I'm mad for Ikea Expedits (c'mon Ikea, you know you want to host an Expedit giveaway on the blog of the bookcase's biggest fan!).  And it seems other folks are Expedit-nutty too, because a ton of folks end up at Dans le Townhouse because of my first love letter to the Expedit.  My Artful Ikea Expedit Hack gets even more hits!  Glad to know I'm among fellow fans.

Well, for those who heart the Expedit, I have a treat for you: a roundup of my favorite hacks!  And don't forget, if you have an Expedit you love (or have tried an Expedit hack) send me some pics for my next ode to the Expedit.  Email:

The most glamorous of all Expedit hacks, mirror added behind the bookcase makes it look surprisingly upscale.

Design Manifest via Design*Sponge

An elegant hack makes this Expedit look much more ordered and tidy.  Plus - get this - there's a flip down surface.  What an ingenious, space saving idea. 

Ikea Hackers

It's only a little tweak, but adding legs to an Expedit makes it seem much less bulky. I am also madly in love with the turquoise bird cage.  I want a turquoise bird cage as an objet d'art.

Decor Pad

These DIY'd doors, covered with a blown up photo, are completely mesmerizing.  This project looks like it was so much work, but so worth it!

The Open Shop

This Ikea Expedit hack, with it's DIY'd hinged doors made from plywood and MDF, looks very Parisian chic.  Even though I love me some colour, the pared down colour palette of whites, black and earthy wood tones is so crisp and refreshing.

Ikea Hackers

Would an Expedit hack round-up be complete without my hack?  I still love my swinging paintings and haven't even tired of the abstracts . . . yet.

I found out about Mykea from a blog called Jeremyriad.  Apparently, the new-to-me company can help customize your Ikea, so you could do a text-y version like this (you know I love text too).  But I think some lettered stencils and either DIY'd or store bought bins/doors would create an equally cool look.
Via Jeremyriad

New shop-on-the-block Panyl offers colourful ways to customize any Ikea, and it works for Expedit too.  I haven't tried this product but it seems pretty simple.

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April 24, 2012

Why I Blog + Warm Fuzzies

Most of my friends outside of blog-land are not really into decorating or DIY.  Hubby & I have only lived in Ottawa a few years and we were just happy to make friends so quickly.  I didn't do a survey and find out if they were crafty first.  Don't get me wrong, we have fabulous, fabulous friends and I feel so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life.  But since I started this blog, it has felt amazing to connect with people who will notice the small tweak to the curtains, laugh about the hilarious new DIY tablecloth and say they want to try my Ikea Expedit Hack.  When a reader tells me they tried my billy button tutorial and it worked, I swear, it's the highlight of my day. 

I also appreciate that blogging keeps me accountable.  It pushes me to finish projects, plus it gives me the courage to try new things I'd only been thinking about, because I know I have you all cheering me on, waiting to see the reveal.  You think I'm the slowest DIY'er ever?  Imagine me with no one to report to!  More than that, my readers blog-friends also inspire me: blogging about their own DIY successes or emailing me with interesting questions or wonderful ideas.  

I just wanted to take a moment and thank you all for stopping by the townhouse, and chiming in.  I have no visions of grandeur, because I don't think I will have the good fortune to do this professionally (although that would be swell).  I'm just excited to finally know people (other than my Hubs) interested in DIY and budget decorating!  It makes me smile every day. 

That's why it tickles me when other, much more talented, bloggers share my projects with their readers.  I get to meet more blog-friends!  So thanks to Cassity, from Remodelaholic and Roeshel, from DIY Showoff, for featuring my DIY play kitchen on their blogs this past week (click here to see the Remodelaholic feature and click here to see the kitchen on the DIY Showoff). 

 If you missed my original play kitchen reveal, take a look at the post by clicking here.

And, if you saw my DIY play kitchen and said, "Tanya! I don't have time to make a flippin' play kitchen but now I don't want a cheap, plastic one either," I have a cute BIY (buy-it-yourself) option from Costco.  This set is $189.99.  I'm still pretty excited mine was less than $35.00, but this is two pieces and darn, is it cute.
This is my favorite part - read the highlighted line in the description.  For some reason it makes me chuckle.  I imagine a kid in the background whining, "Mom, Dad, when do I get a turn?"

This is NOT a sponsored post.  I just heart Costco and want this play kitchen as an objet d'art!

P.S. One of the ways I try to thank you all for being such cool friends is by hosting giveaways.  I don't get paid or perked, the bonus is 100% for you!  And you don't need a blogger account - you can just use the comment form and enter your name (but be sure to include your email address or check back to see the winner announced).

I have a giveaway going on right now, so check it out here, and stay tuned because I have three more in the works!
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April 23, 2012

A Good Knob Story

I never grow weary of the two-minute makeover.  I don't always want to spray paint or stencil something.  Some things are sentimental.  Some things were expensive gifts.  Some things look pretty good, as-is.  But some things have pulls that look like stripper tassels.  And some of these things have been waiting 10 years for a mini-makeover until, one day, when a knob actually falls off, and I decide to make a quick change.

My grandma bought me this little armoire, which houses my jewellery, scarves, spare pairs of glasses, etc.  I absolutely love it because the doors swing open and inside it has a million different compartments and mini drawers for storage.  We recently hit Lee Valley to find replacements for the stripper-tassel pulls, so I could love it more.  After a miss (luckily, LV has a great return policy), I found a style that works (here's the link). They actually only had four of the size I wanted, so I opted for a size bigger for the bottom two drawers.  A happy accident, because I think it works.

Our "tools": pocket knife and itty bitty screw driver.

We had to make a teeny slit in the felt lining to access the screws (hence the pocket knife, but an exact-o knife would do the trick), but otherwise it was an easy switch.

Here's the before.  Gosh, it looks sad.

An old photo, before I tweaked the paintings
A little side-by-side comparison:

And the after. 

I like how the knobs better suit the existing hinges . . .

. . . plus, the new squarish knobs look good with the headboard and also the square finials on the curtain rods, without being too matchy-matchy.

I love a good knob story (gosh, I hope that doesn't mean something dirty).  I am actually a compulsive knob changer: we changed every interior doorknob from brass to silver (except one in the basement, but it's on the chopping block), plus the exterior door, kitchen cupboards, half bath vanity and my filing cabinet all got a knob makeover.  I would have loved to have DIY'd some kind of makeover but, like so much in this house, most knobs didn't work.  Sigh.  Yep, I spend a lot of time with the Lee Valley hardware catalog.
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April 20, 2012

Giveaway: $75 of Outdoor Patio Furniture Covers


Listening to the wind rustle the ratty tarps tied to our patio furniture (which is chained together in a deserted house kind of way), I am seriously jealous that you all have the chance to win $75 worth of durable, stylish, and fitted outdoor patio furniture covers from Empire Patio Covers.  The winner will get to choose the size, style and colour of his/her new outdoor patio furniture covers.

Empire Patio Furniture

Empire Patio Furniture

What a fabulous way to welcome spring, right?  Waterproof and fully breathable, with clever tie down straps, these covers are fabulous.  Outdoor patio furniture covers protect your furniture from the elements, and keep your patio furniture dry during rainy months.  Plus (unlike tarps), they look attractive!  I'm all about taking care of the things we have because it saves money.  So . . . want to win?

The rules are simple: 


1. Every reader of Dans le Townhouse can enter!  Hosting these giveaway is my way of saying "thanks" for stopping by the townhouse.  Just leave a comment and tell me how you follow along (GFC, email, the good 'ole favorites bar, typin' the address each time you want your townhouse hit).


2. Google Friend Connect & Linky Followers get a bonus entry! (Leave a separate comment)

3. Tweet about this giveaway (Leave a separate comment)

4. Mention this giveaway on your Facebook page (Leave a separate comment)

5. Blog about this giveaway (Leave a separate comment)

6. Head over to the Empire Patio Covers website and tell me which patio furniture cover(s) you'd choose (Leave a separate comment)

Whew, that sure is a lot of chances to win some fabulous outdoor patio furniture covers.  And a $75 credit goes a long way - you could get a cover for your entire patio furniture set

Contest closes Thursday, April 26th at midnight EST.  Check back next Friday to see if you're the lucky winner, chosen by

Empire Patio Furniture

P.S. I haven't been paid or perked to host this giveaway.  All of my gushing about these outdoor patio furniture covers is genuine and only because I am smitten with these products and totally jealous you get to win some. 
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April 19, 2012

Retro Telephone Overload

I mentioned we went on a road trip to Boston, MA and I promised to share a few highlights.  I found a pamphlet for the New Hampshire Telephone Museum when we were actually en route to Boston from Ottawa.  We had, only days earlier, watched Yes Man (for the 100th time), and I had just been thinking: "I wish I could go on a spontaneous trip and see a telephone museum".  Not in a sarcastic way, but in a gal-who-relished-the-science-fair-in-school kind of way.

The New Hampshire Telephone Museum (in Warner, NH) is so mesmerizing.  Run by folks who worked in the biz, the museum has phones from every decade, starting with the earliest phones.  It really is interesting to see the progression of telephones and, really, how quickly we went from tin cans on strings to cell phones.

A "working" operator's switchboard:

The museum has a collection of phones from around the world.  Some really nifty examples:

Except for one.  CANADA'S!

Canadians: we need to find a more chic Canadian-made phone to donate to the museum.  We need to represent.

Readers are always asking for more photos of me.  Why?  I have no idea.  But I thought in a telephone museum, with my purdy new turquoise necklace ($5.00 at an antique shop) and actual wearing of non-yoga clothes (free from paint stains), I could channel just a little bit of Zooey Deschanel's quirky chic?  Maybe look a little cool? 


Don't mind my slept-in-the-car hair.  It needed a good brush.  But I was so excited to see the phones!  The phones!!

We learned so many things, I'm trying really hard not to just bombard you with facts.  But for every commenter who says "hey, nice phones" I'll share a fun phone fact!  How's that for geeky?

P.S. Here's the clip from Yes Man I'm talking about.  Haven't seen the movie?  What are doing at work? Take a sick day and rent it!
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