Christmas gift idea: bathroom in a can

Hey everyone!

So it’s no secret by now that I love IKEA. And when my little sister mentioned wanting house stuff for Christmas, I thought it would be a good idea to give her a bathroom in a can, (a garbage can to be exact).

My little sis will be moving out of our parent’s house this summer and transferring to a four-year school. So while bathroom things don’t seem like that thrilling of a gift, I know she’s going to like this when she moves into her first apartment. Plus, she’s not into home decor, as illustrated by her frequent plea, “You should just decorate my whole apartment for me.” So I decided to take her up on her beg offer.

I decided to get everything she’ll need in a bathroom (minus towels to stay on budget).

I scoured IKEA’s website this week before I went because: A. It’s always good to have a game plan in a store like IKEA and B. I wanted to have some sort of theme in mind.

I decided to base everything around this blue shower curtain. From there I went for a blue, black, and white color scheme. For $4.99 the price was great and I knew she’d love the color.


Next, I bought some things I use in my own bathroom from IKEA, like this garbage can, shower caddy, and toilet brush. (Nothing says Merry Christmas like a toilet brush, right?)


I also bought her these two hand towels so even if she decides to go for different color towels, she’ll have some to match her decor.


One of the best bargains was this bathroom set. For $2.99 it came with a soap dispenser, a soap holder, and a toothbrush holder. Granted, the quality isn’t going to last forever, but I look at all college decor as more of a right-now type of thing.


I also got this bathmat, and a blue candle holder, which I plan on sticking one of my spare white tea light candles in.



I decided I should also buy something to put on the walls. After looking through the picture/art section and not really finding anything I liked, I found this fabric that I loved and fit my color scheme. I bought half a yard for $4.50. (Tune in later this week to find out what I did with this stripey guy.)


With the exception of a shower liner and some shower curtain rings, her present is ready. I plan to put all of the items in the garbage can and wrap it up!

Here’s a budget breakdown:

-Garbage can $1.99

-Shower caddy $6.99

-Toilet brush $0.99

-Bathroom set $2.99

-Rug $2.99

-Hand towels $2.99 x 2

-Shower curtain $4.99

-Candle holder $1.99

-Fabric $4.50

Total = $33.41 (plus some tax)


I wanted to stay around $25 so I don’t feel too bad going a few dollars over, especially when I know that everything will be useful.

I could see this sort of idea translating to so many rooms. You could do a kitchen version and fill a mixing bowl with spoons and pot holders, or an office version with a drawer organizer filled with thumb tacks, paper clips, and a stapler.

Don’t forget to come back later this week to find out what I did with the fabric!

DIY Shoe cubby

One thing I love, is taking something old and making it different and better. I also love low-cost craft projects.

So when the daycare I worked for was going out of business, there was a lot of stuff up for grabs. I snagged this shoe cubby that we used to hold the kids shoes, with the intention of  updating it and using it for my own shoes.


The first order of business was to clean it up, since obviously it had been well used over the years. I scraped the stickers off with a straight edge razor and cleaned the whole thing with a soap and water solution. I removed the shelves which made the cleaning process easier. The glue residue left a stain that I knew I’d have to cover.



Next I spray painted the entire thing. I used white spray paint on the outside and a mint green spray paint on the shelves to add some interest. 


Then to deal with the top I bought green paper to match my shelves and a gorgeous white lazer-cut paper from JoAnn’s. I used spray adhesive to secure it. The finished product looked like this:



It has served me well for the past year and a half. It doesn’t have enough room to hold my boots and my boyfriends shoes are too large for the small cubby holes but for a project that cost under $10, I can’t complain.



And because they’re always so fun, here’s a before and after for you!


What awesome freebies have you updated with your own DIY touch? Let me know in the comments below.

Essential vs. fragrance oils

Liz McCarty has worked for Zenith for the past four years.

When I met with Liz McCarty from Zenith supplies last week, I asked her about essential oils and fragrance oils. I’ve heard a lot about them, and have used them in homemade soaps, but I had no idea what the difference was.

     Essential oils are distilled from plants. The plants are steamed, heated up, and they distill the natural oils. At Zenith, all of the essential oils are 100 percent pure. If there is one more than one type of oil, it is diluted, or there is anything un-natural in them, they’re considered a fragrance oil.
     “That purity is really important, because a lot of it you’re applying to your body,” McCarty said.
     Fragrance oils are not pure like essential oils. They’re often synthetic, or a blend of natural and synthetic, and made in a lab.
     While people are often attracted to essential oils for their purity, fragrance oils have a place. There are some scents in nature that you cannot extract essential oils from.
     “No matter what you do to a cucumber, you’re never going to get cucumber essential oils,” McCarty said.
     Other times, people will go for fragrance oils based on price. For example, at Zenith, an eighth of an ounce of essential rose oil is $68, which equates to $1 a drop. But rose fragrance oils are much cheaper, about $5 per ounce.
     Despite their purity, people can have reactions from essential oils just like fragrance oils. McCarty recommends diluting any oils and patch-testing them on a small part of the skin before going all out with application.
     McCarty said the sky’s the limit when it come to uses of both fragrance and essential oils.
      Have you ever used fragrance or essential oils? Let me know what you’ve done with the products in the comments below

DIY: Inexpensive custom wall art

Happy Friday everyone!

When we first moved into our new apartment, I couldn’t wait to decorate and get things up on the walls. But I had three requirements. 1. The wall art had to feel like us. 2. It couldn’t make too much of a mess with the walls (big nail holes etc.) and 3. It had to be cheap.

I am a huge fan of the popular DIY blog Young House Love and I’ve caught myself drooling over their hallway of frames. But since there’s no way I can afford that many frames or that many holes in my rental-walls, I dreamed up alternatives.

And this is what I came up with.

This is a work-in-progress view of our art wall. Eventually we’d like it to cover the whole area where our couch is. (Oh and are you eyeing our cool coffee table? That guy is my biggest DIY ever, as soon as I’m done touching it up, you can bet I’ll be sharing the project with you.)

When I decided to do this art wall, I planned by cutting out newspaper pages that were the sizes of the pictures and arranged them on the floor in a way that seemed to make sense (varying sizes, styles etc.). Then I put those on the wall.

The art is hung with bulldog art clips. I got mine from the UW bookstore for 30 cents each. (Bonus: I used my Husky rewards and didn’t actually pay anything for them!) I just put them up with a small flat, white thumbtack.

Some things are easier to hang than others, the lightweight paper hung just fine. But a painting on thick canvas curled like this when I clipped it up.

To remedy that I just added some scotch tape to the edges and then it was flat against the wall and no one was the wiser.

My favorite part about the wall is how personal all the art is. Like this painting my mom got me for my birthday while we were in Paris.

Or this picture we had drawn at the U-District Street Fair.

I think my favorite one is this one from our artist friend Tiffany. (Buy her amazing stuff here.)

And some of it is homemade, like this IKEA fabric that I glued to card-stock.

Or this one, inspired by this Young House Love post.

Most of the rest are free printables that I found around the internet. This is a great place to find free art, and searching on Pinterest is almost always successful.

I love our art wall and I can’t wait to see what it looks like as we find more and more things to add to it.

Budget breakdown:

Bulldog clips: 11 x .30 = $3.30 (but free for me with my Husky card)

Printed art: $6.50 from FedEx Office (You could do yours for cheaper using these services.)

All other materials were things that I already had.

Total = $9.80, not bad for a wall full of art

What is your favorite way to inexpensively decorate your walls? Let me know in the comments.

Reupholster chair DIY

Remember that fabric I hand-painted last week? (More on that here.) Well I put it to use and I’m pretty happy with the result.

It all starts with this chair.

It didn’t look too pretty here, when I first bought this chair from Goodwill a year ago for $2. It was scratched up and had horrible fabric.

I gave it a once over with sandpaper and hit it with a can of white spray paint. Then I took the upholstery off and covered it with fabric I was using for my room. It looked so much better.

It looked great in my old bedroom where it matched my decor.

But after a year of being used every day as a computer chair, and then being moved to a room where it no longer matched, it was time for another DIY reupholster makeover.

So I removed the seat. I then removed the reupholstery nails I had used before, with a flat head screwdriver.

This is what lies beneath the fabric. It’s not a pretty sight.

So once again I put my fabric down to recover it. Lay the fabric with the right side facing the floor and place the seat face down on the wrong side.

I then used the same upholstery nails and holes as before to secure the first side. (I  purchased the upholstery nails at True Value in the U-District. I don’t remember how much I spent on them but you can find them for really cheap on Amazon.)

Once the first side is done, it’s time to move on to the opposite side. The most important thing to remember is to keep things pulled really tight every time you put a nail in. This ensures there will be no wrinkles or loose fabric when you’re done. Make sure you cut off any excess fabric at this point. Once you secure all of the sides it should look like this.

Then it’s time to secure the corners. This may not be the most professional way, but the way I’ve had the most success is to twist the corners together, pull tight, and then nail in place.

After that I put an upholstery nail on either side of the twist where the fabric was poofed up away from the wood. When you’re done, the back should look something like this.

From start to finish this took me under an hour.

As you can see, everything looks tight and in place, even though the underside doesn’t look perfect, that’s ok as long as the fabric looks tight and secure.

I’d like to get a throw pillow to add to the chair for some added comfort. I’d also like to eventually get a side table to add to this side of the room. But overall, I’m really happy with my new and improved chair that didn’t cost me a penny. Who doesn’t love a good before and after?

Have you done any DIY upholstering lately? Have you ever re-done a DIY project? Let me know in the comment section.

Hand painted fabric DIY

After going to the Creative-U event this past Saturday I was dying to paint something myself. (More on the fabric dyeing event here.)

Because I am on a budget I decided to use a stencil, fabric, and spray adhesive that I already had. I also took Chris’s advice and used cosmetic sponges instead of a paint brush.

The stencil I used is this Moroccan pattern that I purchased at Hobby Lobby this summer for another project. Unfortunately Seattle doesn’t have a Hobby Lobby but you can buy it online here.

I went to Artist & Craftsman, a craft store in the U-district to buy the fabric paint. They had a pretty good selection and I settled on these two colors.

I then tested out different pattern ideas on some scraps of my fabric before I settled on the simplest design (on the right).

This big ugly piece of cardboard is probably one of my best DIY tricks. Because I live in an apartment and have no access to outdoor areas to paint, it’s really useful to have a big surface to paint on.

That way, when you’re fabric inevitably bleeds, it’s your cardboard and not your fabric that looks like this.

Two things were really key with this project. The first was using a spray adhesive to keep your stencil in place. You can really tell where I was diligent with it and where I wasn’t. The second thing was using the cosmetic sponge. They were super inexpensive and allowed you to dab on the paint without having too much excess.

Once I finished, I left the fabric to dry for 24-hours. Then it was time to iron the fabric to set the dye.

There are some problem areas when you look closely. (This is why the adhesive is so important.)

But overall, I’m really happy with how it turned out.

As far as budget, I spent $10 on the fabric paint and $3 on the sponges but I hardly made a dent in either of them.

I have big plans for this fabric. Tune in next week to see what I do with it.

Have you painted fabric? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments below.

Make more counter-space with an IKEA hack

When I first moved to Seattle, I moved into a house built in 1907 that I’m pretty sure was never updated since then. Needless to say, we had counter-space problems. As in, “seriously, where is the counter?” space problems.

So my roommates and I decided to hunt for some options that we could make ourselves to add some counter-space for as little money as possible. We stumbled upon this idea. And decided to go for it.

And when I moved to my new apartment, I made it again and added the hardware. Now, we use it as a “we-have-no-where-else-to-put-our-microwave” microwave stand.

Here’s how I did it. First you need two IKEA Lack tables. These bad boys are awesome and only $8. I used one I had left over and a new one for the bottom. The first hack I made, we used double stick tape to connect the legs of the top table to the bottom table. The second time I used a hot glue gun. I’d definitely recommend going the tape route, because the hot glue can make things uneven.

The table I used on top was damaged, but that didn’t matter because I covered it with a cutting board my dad made me. If you don’t have a handy-dandy dad to make you one, I wouldn’t recommend buying one because they are pricey. Instead, I’d try paper in a cool print and then cover it with contact paper. The U-District book store has some cool, large printed paper and contact paper can be found at target or craft stores. (Bonus: if you use contact paper, it will be easy to wipe off if you spill on it.) One extra thing I added to my microwave stand was a Bygel bar in front to hang dish towels from.

Getting to IKEA from the U-District is possible by bus and free for us Huskies with the U-Pass. But keep in mind you have to haul home everything you buy, so I’d advise begging finding a friend with a car and making the trip that way.

The best thing about this project is the price. Here’s a budget breakdown for you:

2 Ikea Lack tables: 1 used = free, 1 new = $7.99

1 Ikea Bygel rail: $2.99

4 screws for the rail: 4 x .30 from True Value in the U-District = $1.20

Wood table top = Free from dear-ol’-dad

Grand total = $12.18, not bad for a functional microwave stand.

Have you done any ikea hacks to save space? Let me know in the comments below.