Spray It Out, Spray It Out

When we were looking for apartments, the only reason we wanted outdoor space was for our dog. When we moved it, my first thought was, yes, DIY space! And yes, DIY space it was… and puppy space it was… and that’s it. It was getting a bit embarrassing really. I was planning on doing the bare minimum to clean it up, but then I saw this:

One of my all-time favourite bloggers set up her latest monthly organizing challenge and I just had to participate!

But clearly, I had my work cut out for me.

Patio furniture before

(And that’s not even the worst of it. When the patio’s completely finished, I’ll force myself to show you the full before picture…)

Those cheapo Ikea chairs were came with a basement apartment my friends and I had a few years ago (yes, those were literally our kitchen chairs for 6 months!) and the table… I literally picked up on the side of the road. You may think it looks somewhat reasonable based on the colour, but really, it was in rough shape.

Table before

I decided to try my hand at spray painting them all, plus a cheap little plastic side table we had out there too. Admittedly, I had only really sprayed various frames up until this point… I didn’t quite realize how long (and how many cans) four pieces of furniture would take!

First, I sprayed them all with a primer (Rust-oleum for metal). The guy at Home Depot recommended I choose the lightest grey colour they had since they were out of white, so I ended up using the one meant for metal, not for metal and plastic.

Spray Paint

First I cleaned the heck out of them with soap and water and left them to dry. Then I sprayed a light-ish coat of primer (let’s be honest, I clearly had drips on the chair backs).

Primed chair

And then… had to wait a week because it wouldn’t stop raining.

A week later I tackled the white:

First coat

Second coat

It took me two or three coats of white to get them all covered. I would recommend going with a white primer instead of grey if you have the option!

As much as it was a longer process than I had expected, I’m really happy with how they turned out. I didn’t have high expectations for the Ikea chairs, but actually, they’re so much prettier!

Apartment patio

A fresh and crisp coat of white and you would never know they are a bunch of mismatched hand-me-down plastic furniture!

Patio bird's eye view

I opted to go for little hits of nautical colours. The dark blue was easy since I just brought a few elements from my living room outside, like the pillows.

Apartment patio DIY

I would love to have separate pillows for outside too, but storage is at a PREMIUM in this place. If I did that, I’d have to forgo something else and have to worry about them in the winter. Because I used outdoor fabric, I can use them in both spaces, and keep them inside in the winter months.


I also branched out and went for little pops of red. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before! I think they work really nicely against the dark blue.

Flower trioFlowers in the sun

Plus, these are citronella candles, so Shaun and I can enjoy our little outdoor space without the bugs. Win-win.

Citronella candles

Pops of red

I added a spare piece of navy fabric I had lying around to add some colour to the table. The tray is a great space saver because I can simply take it off when we want to have dinner, or if we want to bbq on the table. (Yes, even the bbq. I need multi-functional furniture in a 4 ft wide space! We’ll just put a piece of wood over top of the table to protect it when we want to start up our little grill.)

Table top


1 primer and 2 cans of spray paint at $7 each, so $21 total. (Though I went through another half a bottle of white I had hanging around too…)

Citronella candles: $10

New plants: $7 (which is ridiculous because I’m pretty sure I already managed to kill the one I bought last week.)

Table and chairs: free

Everything else I had on hand at home!

Total mini-makeover cost: $38.

Again, here’s what I started with:Patio furniture before

And here’s how it looks now:

Apartment patio

Not bad eh? The sunshine in the second photo helps. My patio’s only half-way done (I still need to tackle the other side) but I feel like I’ve made progress!

Any projects you have to tackle for the summer? Or would you rather spend your long warm days lounging or going away? I found it funny when I realized I’d rather spend my long weekend sweating in work boots and painting clothes than going on a little mini-trip!


Clean Out the Paper Clutter: Managing our Mail

Hi there fellow pinner! So lovely of you to drop by. Who knew mail sorting could be so intriguing? You’re welcome to check it out here, but I encourage you to check it out instead on my sparkling new siteI’m happy to say that this system still works super well for us, even months later!

A little while ago I started a segment about containing our paper clutter. Avoiding piles of paper is one of the biggest challenges for me so I am determined to tackle it! Last time, I spoke about how I organize our receipts. Now, I’m tackling our mail.

Mail sorter close up

Shaun and I take on different chores in the house, and one of mine is the mail. One would assume, what with all the companies that offer electronic instead of mailed billing, that this particular task wouldn’t be much of an issue. But somehow, it still is, at least for me! Flyers, bank statements, invoices an invitations all seem to end up on our coffee table. I don’t know where to put them all, so I avoid going through the pile, the pile gets that much more daunting, and it ends up being a vicious cycle.

To avoid the pile up, I decided a mail sorter would be the best solution for me.


This one from Pottery Barn is pretty, but at 70 dollars (!) CAD, I definitely wanted a cheaper option.

I thought about making one myself, but creating a folder for mail seemed tedious… Call me crazy, but creating something out of old cereal boxes just for junk mail doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time. When I found Kvissle from Ikea for $20 (CAD), I was sold!


It’s a tad larger than what I had in mind (it’s technically a magazine rack) but I thought that in the end the size would come in handy.

First, I reviewed our main problem areas:

1. Flyers. Shaun likes to look through the flyers we receive for deals of the week. It’s great, since he’s definitely the bigger saver of this little duo, and it inspires me to do the same. However, what’s not so great is that they don’t have a home. I don’t know if he’s been through a particular flyer, if he needs me to keep it and somehow they end up tossed around our house.

2. Bills. If it’s not electronic, we tend to forget about them until we find them again later. Not good, I know. What can I say, we grew up with computers.

3. General info. Invitations, Elections BC, bank statements, pay stubs etc.

I opted to hang our mail sorter in our mini front entry hall way. After assembling it, Shaun helped me hang it using a couple of basic screws.

Shaun hanging our mail sorter

Mail sorter first shot

You’ll notice I added some teal folders (they’re from the Martha Stewart collection at Staples). Unfortunately, when I put the Kvissle together (gotta love Ikea assemble-it-yourself) I realized they weren’t quite as wide as I had in mind. They’re so narrow that I can’t reach the bottom of each section, and plus, there are holes at the bottom of each section: my mail could fall through. Instead, I pull out the folders to reach my mail. Plus, this way I have a bit more colour!

Update: I actually love the folders. So much easier for filing my important documents away later!

I knew I wanted to label my new mail sorter, and remembered I still had some Avery Clear Decals from my Glass Decal project hanging around. It’s made of metal, so I thought I’d try it out. To learn how to use them, click on the link above.

Mail Sorter Lables

(A reader asked me a while back what font this is. If you’re curious, it’s Sacramento.)

To add another little punch of colour (and to hide the ugly fuse box you may have noticed in the pictures above) I decided to hang one of the pictures I took in Indonesia. I used command velcro strips so that it can easily be removed if ever we need to access the box.

Mail Sorter Final

Here’s how I decided to organize it all:

I had five whole sections with Kvissle, so I started breaking them down first into the most obvious choices and then went from there.

1. Flyers to read: Shaun can pick up the flyers he wants to look through here. If we have no use for them, they’ll go into the recycling bin. If we do use them, Shaun can keep them or we can throw them up on our memo board (more about that soon!)

2. Inbox: I’d love to say that I will open and sort through my mail as soon as I get it, let’s be honest, I’m lazy, and I won’t. When I get home, I divide the mail and flyers. When I feel up to it, I’ll sort through the mail and put it in one of the following slots.

3. Recycle: One of my readers (feel free to check her blog) suggested keeping a recycling bin at the entrance so to toss junk mail and other paper as soon as I get home. What a great idea! I never thought of that, but I definitely wanted to implement it! We don’t have much more room on the floor, and I’d like to keep the recycling area small (so we’re forced to take it out and not let it pile up) so I think a section here is perfect.

4. To do: I used to have a To Do pile during my brief stint as a receptionist (wasn’t really my cup of tea) that worked so well, so why not do it at home? Here, I’ll keep the bills we need to pay, the mail I need to respond to, the personal information I need to file away, etc.

5. I struggled to decide what was best for the last slot. I thought about keeping a spot for my library and teaching books, but I decided a To Shred section would be the most useful for me. This way I can easily keep our identities protected.

Total Project Costs:

Kvissle from Ikea: $20

Folders from Staples:$5

(I had the avery decals previously of course, but they were about ten bucks).

Total cost: $25.

I’m really happy with how organized my entry way is shaping up to be. Stay posted for my memo board and a few styling tweaks! I might even gather the nerve to stencil a wall… We’ll see…

I’m linking up with:

Not Just A Housewife

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Ikea Hack: Aläng Lamp

Shaun and I were under the impression we would be able to move into our new apartment this weekend, but unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding. The building manager said we could move in early, on Friday, but she didn’t mean this Friday, she meant the last one of the month, being March 29th. Disappointing, but understandable. Here I was already picking out paint colours (oh yes, we’ll have a few feature walls!), deciding on a stain for some shelves we’re going to install…. but I’ll have to put those musings on hold. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few existing projects I’ve already finished.

One quick, cheap and easy DIY is the update I made to one my table lamps:


(As an aside, why did they put the outlet so high? I realize it makes cords simpler to plug in, but it’s not exactly attractive. Oh well.)

I got this Ikea lamp at a Thrift Store last year for a little under ten bucks, and I could just tell it was originally from Ikea, where it retails for $20:

Pretty good deal, but it was a little… boring. Every place I’ve lived in tends to have wall colour in the taupe to white range, so this off-white colour just blends right in. I read in Young House Love’s book that an easy way to add a bit of personality to a shade would be to add ribbon.

Lamp close up

I found this navy blue ribbon at Fabricland for 50% off, so it ended up costing me about three dollars. First, I measured the length I would need to go around the bottom of the shade, and trimmed off a bit more. To stop the edges from fraying (quick tip I learned from wearing point shoes growing up), I melted them with the flame from a lighter.

Lamp bottom

Then, using a glue gun, I secured it to the bottom of lamp, making sure to line it up with the bottom edge of the shade, as well as its subtle pattern. You can see in the image above that the ribbon lines up with the line going through the shade, which ensures my line will be straight the whole way around. I made sure to use the minimum amount of glue needed so that it wouldn’t show through the ribbon. The ribbon gave an easy sharp edge, so I didn’t bother tucking it under the shade; I just made sure I couldn’t see any of the shade underneath. I followed the same steps on top.


I worried the glue would melt with the heat of the bulb over time, but I’ve had this for a couple months and haven’t had a problem! I love the nautical feel of the navy, and how well it echoes the stripes on my chair.

Cost breakdown:

Lamp: $8

Ribbon: $3

Total: An easy $11! It took me less than an hour to do too. Now just imagine it with a bold dark gray feature wall behind it… I can’t wait!

Ikea Hack: Poang Chair Recover

I love nautical stripes. Ever since I went to Paris three years ago and saw so many Parisians sporting stripes under blazers (before we did here in Canada), I was hooked. I’m clearly not the only one, as they’re now everywhere. In this case, it’s lucky for me, because I managed to get this awesome fabric at 50% off at Ikea! $4 a metre! (To all you Americans, that’s less than 3 bucks a yard). What a deal!


 I happily used it to recover this old thing:Before

Shaun’s brother-in-law donated it to us when we moved in together this time last year. Practical yes, but pretty it was not. I saw it’s potential. I’m not one for patterns, I just based my recover on the original. I’m all about efficiency too, so this is about as easy as I could make it for myself! It’s really just a step above making a pillow case. I included some approximate measurements of each piece, but it may not be exactly the same ones as your chair. Think of them as guidelines. Here’s how I did it:

Seat cushion:

1. Measure and cut out your sections. I used one long one for the front, and two smaller pieces for the back and the seat of the chair. Front: 53″ x 32″ Back: 27″ x 26″ Bottom: 21″ x 26″

2. Hem one width of your top panel (the 32″ side) which will end up being at the bottom of the chair. Do the same with one width of the back panel. Hem both widths of the bottom panel.

(As a side note: I did find it worth pressing the fabric before hemming it to get a nice crisp seam, even though my lazy side wasn’t a big fan of it. As a bonus, if you’re using stripes like these, it’s easy to get a straight hem: you just do it parallel to the lines.)


Front panel 53″ x 32″


Back panel 27″ x 26″


Bottom panel 21″ x 26″

3.  Next, sew the back panel to the top of your unhemmed (width side again) to the top (unhemmed side of course) width of the front panel. Since the front panel is wider, make sure to leave equal amounts of the front panel on either side.

4. Because it’s a pillow, I allowed extra fabric on the top panel so that the stitch would be right along the side of the back of the chair.

DSC_0345 edited

To know where to sew, just pin the two panels together, inside out, around the cushion. Then, following your pins, sew each side together (still inside out of course). This should resemble a pillow case when right side in. Sew the sides of the bottom panel right under the back panel the same way. The reason I used two panels for the back of the chair is to allow space for the cushion to bend. DSC_0373

With the hems you already put in, the chair section of your recover is just about done! You’ll notice I left quite a bit of space at the bottom of the front panel:


 This so you can tuck that bit under the cushion. I wanted it to be easily removable, so I thought about velcro… But let’s be honest, I was too cheap and lazy to go out and buy some. Then my (future) sister-in-law told me she recovered a whole rocking chair (a whole rocking chair!) with SAFETY PINS. Done. So safety pins it is:


I’m sure velcro would be easy to do if you wanted to be fancy.

Head rest:


So this is definitely the harder section… Just a warning. Totally doable though!

1. Cut a panel 23″ x 27″. Hem the widths (the 27″ side). This will cover the front and back side of your head rest. These directions show you how to make a little “cap” for your chair.

2. Trace out the side of your head rest. Allowing for the seams, mine was about 6″ x 9″, but it’s best to trace out on your own because of the curve at the front of the chair. Fold in your hems and press them to keep them secure.

3. Working around the head rest, pin the sides (keeping that hem in there too) to the rectangle you cut in #1. Here’s a photo of mine with my seam and a few pins still intact:DSC_0391

4. Once you’ve pinned around both sides and you feel it’s snug enough, sew it, pattern side facing you. (This way you’ll see the stitch and the hem, like the finished photo above. I’m sure you could fiddle around with it if you wanted an invisible seam, but this seamed overly difficult to me.) You’ll essentially be sewing through three layers of fabric: the traced sides, their hem, and the rectangle. Don’t worry if it’s not tight enough: just sew it again. As you can see, I had a ton of excess fabric from trial and error, but you can’t see it once it’s on right side in.

5. Last quick step. Hem the sides of the rectangle that are still showing. This step is optional really. I was originally going to tuck the front part under the head rest cushion (like I did with the chair cushion) but I liked the way it looked just hanging down.


And… the final product:

Before and After

Does it pass the rental test? Oh yes it does! For one, so unbelievably budget friendly: my total came to about $12, since the chair was free. It’s also completely removable. Easy to clean, and the cushion underneath is completely untouched. I can give it back to Shaun’s brother-in-law if ever he needs it or if ever the chair doesn’t work in a new place (ie: if ever we move somewhere even smaller than this and don’t have the space for it, which is always a likely possibility). Easy on your purse and temporary if need be. Perfect!

Anything you’ve recovered lately? Any great fabric deals? I’d love to hear from you!