I love this time of year because I get to put my feet up on my desk and rest on my laurels. (Just a little bit). Today I’m rounding up my fourteen favorite DIY projects of the year. It was so hard to whittle the list down to only fourteen (I rounded up 13 in 2013, 12 in 2012, 11 in 2011…), so I may have cheated just a bit. But, in all fairness, we finally moved into the lakehouse last January so almost every room started to take shape.
The kitchen got the biggest overhaul of the year and it looks (and feels) unrecognizable. It even made Apartment Therapy’s list of 10 Wallet-Friendly Kitchen Renovations, from their Best of 2014 list. From painting the cabinets to installing modern paneling and open shelving, we toiled many weeks (months!) in this room. Given how dramatic this makeover was, it should be no surprise that two of my favorite DIY projects of the year are from this space.
1. Solid Wood Counters from Scratch
The solid wood counters that Hubby and his woodworker Dad crafted from a pile of lumber still amaze me. Happily, I’m still smitten with the sheer white stain I nervously applied to the counters that they spent many, many days making (I was so stressed out applying that first coat). The counters still look gorgeous and they just make so many of our cheap fixes – paneling, open shelves, painted cupboards – look more elegant because the counters are just so substantial. They’re much thicker than store-bought butcher block counters and everyone is tricked into thinking they were super expensive.
2. Open Shelving (Good-bye Ugly Cabinets)!
Truthfully, my other favorite project is the aqua cabinetry but we technically started painting the doors in 2013. So do they count? To be safe (because I’m sure there are serious ramifications for fudging the numbers here, lol), I’m going to name the open shelving as my other favorite kitchen DIY project. They have held up so well and it’s still such a joy to see my lovely Pyrex collection in the open. I may or may not have really treated myself to a few somewhat rare additions to my collection since completing the kitchen.
Although the kitchen was in shambles when we finally moved in, the living room was in good shape! In the fall I had painted the walls and ceiling with my folks, and then painted the fireplace stone and “sauna wood“. All we had to do was move in our furniture. This room did change a bit throughout the year, though, as I switched around furniture and added vintage Lotte lamps, accessories, DIY Marimekko pillows, and mid-century teak side tables. For the new year, continuing to massage this room to perfection (which includes phasing out the brown leather ottoman) is on the agenda.
The dining room looks really different, even though we didn’t do a lot. Paint, of course, always makes a difference – particularly painting the patio doors and removing the faux French door detail. It was the spendy new light fixture that all of a sudden added oomph to this space, which previously felt lost between the living room and kitchen. The original placement of the light fixture seemed like an after thought, but I realized that it positioned the table with the best view of the lake.
3. DIY Floating Credenza with Grey-Stained Plywood Top
Unable to find an optimally sized, vintage credenza for the dining room nook, Hubby and I hacked some Ikea Best units to suit our needs, topping three wall-mounted Bestas with grey-stained plywood. Silver furniture grommets helped us hide the lamp cords and complete the stream-lined look. This simple project – that’s been executed numerous times – is one of my favorite projects of the year. It was so simple but much needed – it’s added so much handy storage for the non-turquoise wares, which have been banished from the kitchen. Plus it’s home to the massive collection of Iittala Festivo candle holders my Mummu gave me as a 30th birthday/housewarming gift (each size was given to her by a different family member over the years). As if the gift couldn’t get any better, she also gave me her Iittala Toikka bird (plus my Mom tracked down candles for the festivos!). When Szuka and Hubby rough house, I stand in front of the credenza with my arms out, shielding my towering collection of expensive breakables.
I love the dining room so far, but I’m hoping 2015 will see the dining room sporting prettier chairs! Maybe even a different table?
I’m definitely focusing my attention on the bedroom this year. We got the basics addressed: bed, fabulous curtains, new closet organizer and my vintage posters. I also took some time to refresh the headboard and side tables, which had started to look shabby after so many moves. An improvement, to be sure, but there’s so much more to do in here.
4. Beautiful Back Tab Bedroom Curtains:
One of the few projects we did tackle in the bedroom: the back tab bedroom curtains, is definitely worthy of this list! The fabric is more green in real life (it photographs so aqua), but it is still a bit bluer than the silk throw pillows, which I’d very much like to keep. I have a solution: I’m planning a very involved embroidery project for 2015 that will tie together all of the shades of blue and green in the bedroom. A little DIY art flanking the headboard won’t hurt either. But – curtains! Yay! I’m definitely opting for chic back tab curtains when we get around to making some for the office and I’m kicking myself for using curtains rings for so long, when this option is chicer and cheaper!
It’s definitely fabulous living closer to my parents and Hubby’s Dad, and it’s not just because they’ve all been so immensely generous with their time, helping us getting the lakehouse in shape. But okay, it’s largely because they’ve all been so generous with their time 😉 The laundry room and half bathroom were the only rooms we didn’t have a chance to paint before moving in. Unfortunately, they also became a dumping ground during the kitchen spruce and looked worse once we got the keys! But with my Dad’s help I quickly painted both spaces shortly after moving in.
5. Laundry Room Makeover + Magic Curtains
Next, my Mom and I made curtains for the laundry room which effectively hid the washer, dryer, drying rack and ugly melamine cabinets. Sure, painting the walls and trim white (and cleaning!) made a huge difference, but the sweetly gathered curtains were the most impactful project in there.
6. DIY Atomic Dog Bowl Stand (with Mini Hairpin Legs, awwww)
In the laundry room, a fancy Eames Hang-it-All, a cute little quilt for Szuka, plus a new mod dog bowl stand made the awkward space prettier. Szuka’s adorable mod dog bowl stand still totally cracks us up because it’s just so stylish – and so flipping tall! I swear, when we travel and use plain old bowls for her food and water she nudges them around a little dejectedly, looks up at us, sighs deeply, and then turns her attention back to the inferior bowls. Could it be that she likes her turquoise bowl stand as much as we do?
It seems like every room got some attention, except for the one I use the most. The office is my room of shame. So far the closet and Expedit have seen some love, but the rest of the space is an embarrassing dumping ground with waist height stacks of banker’s boxes FULL of Etsy inventory. We have some BIG plans for the new year, including two desk DIY’s that might just blow your mind. Also, curtains would be nice because the sun really blinds me at certain times of the day. Happily, I like what we’ve done in there so far, so we’re off to a good start. In fact, two projects from this largely ignored space are making my list!
7. Office Nook:
The office closet was made more functional, although it’s still a work in progress. I’d like to re-do the shelving and install solid wood brackets and shelves, paint the filing cabinet,
replace the painted cork board (which has so many holes and is driving me nuts), and maybe swap out the raspberry pink boxes for something more solid and subtle. But still, hurrah for progress.
8. DIY Plywood Magazine Files
My second take on my patented artful Expedit hack was a success, but it’s nothing compared to the fabulous plywood magazine files we made to fit the Expedit. The plywood files were the perfect excuse to try some Rub ‘n Buff on the vintage hardware I found – how long have I been wanting to try that stuff? Years?
9. Favorite Photo Turned Oil Painting + DIY Floating Frame
I feel super lucky that my little blog has grown enough for me to be able to work with great brands. Sponsored posts and blog freebies help push projects along and I’m able to work at a slightly quicker pace. In addition to offering a small financial boost, I’ve also been introduced to great products and brands that I might not have discovered otherwise. My partnership with ArtsHeaven was really sweet: they turned a favorite photograph of mine into a beautiful oil painting – even making some key changes, like an homage to Charlie and boosting the intensity of the aqua. I hadn’t heard of ArtsHeaven before and would have certainly been hesitant to send in a photo, not knowing what kind of quality to expect. But this painting is now one of my favorite pieces. We also built a really great float frame for it, and now I want to frame all of our un-framed art because it was so simple to create something that looks so polished and professional. I don’t think I’ve painted a single thing this year, so I will definitely have to make time for some artistic adventures in the new year.
Although it now hangs in the kitchen, at first the Artsheaven painting found a home in our freshened up hallway. The hallway was painted before we moved in, so I eagerly hung up my own artwork and my cherished Hungarian embroidery right away. We replaced the door hardware with gorgeous new levers, then I painted the doorbell cover and also the front door. We ordered a new door in the summer but there have been a number of delays. I can’t wait to finally see the new one in place and share all of the details! Oh yeah, our sweet little solid wood stool is still earning its keep as a handy place to sit to tie shoes, or just toss my purse while I’m still fussing with groceries or trying to corral Szuka.
I have to admit that I’m still unpacking from our move! At first I was really on top of things but then I started running out of room and my organizational systems fell apart. The laundry room cupboards and linen closet barely close! I have major organizational goals for the new year. Happily, the bedroom closet has stayed fairly tidy, as has the coat closet. My shoe closet makeover has stayed the most tidy.
Down the hall, the bathroom was given a facelift before we moved in so it made settling in that much easier! We just unpacked and did a little bit of accessorizing – some art from the townhouse makes the room more special. This simple and super cheap makeover has been hugely popular and actually won over the folks at Apartment Therapy (and then it made the list of 18 DIY Bathrooms That Beat the Bland – for their Best of 2014 series). I don’t get why this room has gotten that much love, because I can’t wait to gut it this spring.
The half bathroom, even though it got a similar makeover as the main bath, still feels blah, but I’ll work on it this year because it’s not getting gutted until the kitchen does. My goal is to spend exactly $0 in here and I think that’s keeping me from achieving non-ho-hum status. But we have expensive fixes on the horizon: new roof, enclosing the car port, a generator…so I’m extra penny-pinchy these days.
10. Deck Makeover
It’s not yet covered in snow, so I’m still enjoying the deck makeover. It took much longer than anticipated, but the grey stain of the deck really mirrors the cool grey of the lake some days and this makes it feel like the lake is that much closer. The house exterior didn’t get painted, but the deck makeover motivates me and has me longing for spring already.
Whew, in hindsight, we changed a lot, even though it felt like we worked at a snail’s pace. I think it’s because we still have tons to do – we still have quite a few blank canvases!
But wait! I haven’t finished my list of favorite projects, because some of the best ones weren’t even for me.
11. Simple Solid Wood Trivet
While large-scale projects and room makeovers are fun, sometimes it’s really nice to make something that offers instant gratification. It’s also nice to make things for others. So when a project does both, it makes it onto the Best of list, like the sweet little solid wood trivet we made for my Mom. I originally thought it was solid teak, but now I’m thinking it’s actually walnut. Either way, it has such pretty grain and she uses this little trivet all of the time.
12. Painted Particle Board Floor
Although it can’t hold a candle to the painted laundry room floor of last year (which is pinned a lot), I loved the painted particle board floor I tackled for the computer shop makeover. Although this rental location didn’t work out for them (and we never did finish a makeover, because the teeny budget was sunk into this space), I’m happy for what I learned because I think I might want to
do this type of floor in the weird little storage room we call “the fish room” – it’s going to become a sweet little painting studio. The vinyl floor in there is awful, but something like this – a painted particle board or plywood floor, painted a fun colour and eventually covered in paint splatters – could look cool.
Trying to save ourselves $80 a haircut, we started giving Szuka DIY haircuts. I can’t say we’re getting better, but I can say that we’ve saved ourselves about $400 to date. Well, just over $200, since the clippers cost $170. Although none of us enjoys the task, particularly trimming the nether regions, I’ll trim a little butt hair if it frees up our budget for more exciting things. Plus it’s pretty funny to see how excited she gets with shorter, cooler, hairdos, and I think that grooming at home is a little less stressful for her. Although sometimes mid-haircut she’ll get up slowly, sigh, and very slowly walk away and lie down about three feet from us. It’s her very gentle way of saying, “ENOUGH!”
14. LED Sign
Someone asked a really great question about how I would have decorated my home for Christmas if:
A. I celebrated Christmas, and
B. If I hadn’t partnered with Canadian Tire to produce some Christmas-themed DIY projects.
That’s an excellent question and I think I should have addressed that in the posts. All of the projects were my idea – except for the framed ornaments, which we developed together. I was pretty honest about the success of the projects, particularly the plywood tree which turned out a bit wonkier than I hoped. I really, really liked every idea but, at the end of the day, I probably wouldn’t have put them all together at once, only because my aesthetic can be so spartan. I would have done the window baubles, for sure, but then axed the ornaments in cake stands and bowls. The framed ornaments and ladder were cool, but I think I would have instead re-done the plywood tree in a smaller scale and leaned it behind the credenza. I definitely would have done the LED sign because I loved that idea so much and had wanted to make an LED sign for awhile. Long story short, the project was definitely a favorite and even makes my list! It’s so versatile, and we plan to use it for other parties and good times.
Do any of these additions surprise you? Did I snub a favorite of yours (you can see the rest of my DIY projects here)? What did you whip up over at your house this year? I’d love to know what you’ve been up to and, if you’re a blogger too, please feel free to include a link to your year-end posts in the comment so we can see!