Hits & Misses: Home Decor Edition
Back at the beginning of the year, I kicked off “Hits and Misses” – a quarterly series where I revisit past projects that appeared here on THIHM and give you the scoop on how they’ve worked out, held up over time, and if they were overall successes or failures. On my first go around, I reviewed past organizational projects. I loved putting it together, and you guys loved it too…so I am back with my next installment. This time, let’s take a look at home decor/DIY projects!
As we begin to pull this house apart, I’m (naturally) consumed with thoughts of all the memories and projects made in this house over the last 3 years. Some of my projects have stood the test of time (and my always-changing whims!) and are still in the house today; while others have either been pushed out, made-over, or fallen apart! Curious to see what projects made each list? Let’s get to it!
As I looked back through all my photos/projects, I was surprised at how many of them were still in the house, structurally sound, and serving our family well. I easily could have added more to the list, so I tightened my criteria. As most DIYers will attest, not everything works according to plan. Things don’t come together quite as easily as you expect or a project doesn’t end up quite as you envisioned. Every so often, however, a project is a dream to put together AND turns out even better than you hoped. These 10 projects are my “Home Decor Hits” for that very reason: they were sweet and simple successes that have stood the test of time and a busy household!
1. Slipcovered Ottoman. I top the list with one of our all-time favorite and most-successful projects. I’ve mentioned many-a-time here on the blog, that we are not experienced wood-workers or craftspeople. We made this ottoman structure up as we went along, and it turned out fabulously. It has been jumped on, lounged on, and danced on as well as supported a variety of board games and snacks. I am proud to say it is in the same great condition as the day we made it. Some of you long-time readers might recall, I swapped the upholstery for a slipcover, which was one of my best decisions EVER! The cover cleans like a dream and looks fantastic wash after wash!
2. Plexiglass Desk Top. When I set off on a mission to transform our large, dark, cave-of-a-desk into something more light and bright, I knew in my my heart that painting wasn’t the answer. In a spur-of-the-moment decision, I covered the top of the desk with wrapping paper from Marshalls and a plexiglass sheet (bought from Lowes and cut to size). I was worried how both the plexiglass and wrapping paper would hold up, and the answer is…beautifully! Not a scratch or bend or tear. This is one of my favorite furniture facelifts in our entire house!
3. No-Sew Banded Roman Shades. I am a total sucker for tailored window treatments, especially a good roman shade. Custom ones are SO expensive, and they are one DIY I am not willing to take on. When I really wanted black-banded roman shades for Henry’s bedroom makeover, I opted to buy pre-made white shades and added the black edging with fabric and fabric glue. I’m not really one for no-sew projects, as I don’t think they hold up very well. But these babies? As good as the day I made them! They pleat and fold up perfectly and haven’t required any touch-ups. This is a hack I will surely be repeating in future homes.
4. Acrylic Tray from a Frame. This is one of those projects that I was SURE was headed for the trash bin as I was making it. After all, I simply used Gorilla Super Glue to hold a thick plexiglass sheet into a frame – from the bottom. I thought as soon as I placed anything on the tray, the bottom would…well…bottom out. Friends, we have stacked books, boxes, snacks and drinks onto this tray and that plexiglass sheet has not budged. This is now my go-to tray for styling and entertaining! Color me impressed, Gorilla Glue!
5. Tiled Planters. Being a perpetual renter, I never had the reason or opportunity to work with tile. I found these gorgeous tile sheets at a yard sale and was determined to do something with them. This was another project that I somewhat made up as I went along and was astonished when they turned out so chic Their iridescent glow in the sun is stunning, and they have held up despite frequent wash-outs and re-planting. I love how they compliment each other without being too matchy-matchy!
6. Mid-Century-Modern Inspired Ottoman. When ForRent.com challenged me to create an ottoman project, I was initially stumped. But I poked around online for ideas and then walked through the aisles at the home improvement store and came up with this plan all on my own. The assembly was super straightforward, and I had no hiccups along the way (that almost never happens!) We LOVE having this stool in Henry’s room for play and story time. I sprayed the fabric with awesome fabric protector so it still looks fresh, bright and white! I still look at it and can’t believe I made it from scratch!
7. “Upholstered” Laundry Baskets. When I bought these laundry baskets with flip-top lids at Ross, I knew I wanted to cover them in fun fabric (they were originally brown). I chose a fabric that matched our master bedroom but wasn’t wear-and tear friendly at all! I was worried we’d end up with frays, water spots and more damage as time passed. All of my worries were for not! These still look great and function perfectly for us…if only we had one more!
8. Media Towers Turned Storage Towers. This show-stopper of a project was another accidental makeover that turned out to be a major success for our home. The blue towers were part of our old entertainment center, and I found the sets of drawers at a local Restore. We almost tossed the towers and the drawers were in AWFUl shape..but when I discovered the two amazingly fit like a glove, I had to breath new life into them just to see. Lots of primer, paint, hardware and shelf liner later, these are storage heaven!
9. Spray-Painted High Chair. When I chose to spray paint this high chair, I thought for sure I’d be re-spraying it every other month or so to cover up chips and nicks. After all, a kid’s high chair probably gets wiped down the most of all the furniture in the house. Little did I know that my trusty combo of Valspar Spray Paint + Rustoleum High Gloss Clear was the perfect staying formula. Three years later, this chair looks exactly the same…and yes, it’s been used for almost every single meal in that time 😉
10. Wallpaper Silhouette Art. I had to include my brand new artwork on the list because they turned out sooooo good and came together without any issues. Never in a million years did I think these would look so professional when they were complete, and I honestly can’t stop staring at them and touching their glass-like finish. I am officially obsessed with this technique and can’t wait to do more!
And now for the MISSES. I labeled these as such largely because they didn’t stand the test of time. Either due to the outdoor elements or inherent design flaws, these 10 projects can be classified as initial successes but ultimate fails!
1. Painted Planter. I made this adorable pot for my mother for Mother’s Day years ago. I thought it was so simple and versatile for many occasions. When we cleaned out my Dad’s house last summer, this planter literally crumbled apart as we tried to move it. Lesson learned: These wooden planters are either one season pots or shouldn’t be left in the elements.
2. Spray-Painted Hardware. When I was exasperated with my failed attempts at removing the varnish from my brass hardware, I decided to give spray paint a try. Originally, I was smitten with the clean coverage and was so impressed with the metallic sheen of the spray paint. As years passed, though, the paint not-so-subtly chipped off, leaving a mess of both my pretty pulls and my dresser. I ultimately removed the paint and found an awesome solution for removing tarnish, returning my brass pulls to their former glory. Lesson learned: Don’t spray paint hardware that gets a lot of use!
3. Outdoor Landscaping. Three years ago, we moved into the house and the garden beds were barren. We then spent a lot of time, money and effort fixing up the yard and planting new plants and shrubs. You guys, I don’t know the first thing about gardening or this tricky Eastern North Carolina soil. And little did I know “deer resistant” really doesn’t mean much at all around here! While all but one boxwood are still alive and growing, the ivy and other plants have slowly but surely perrished. Further, I didn’t realize boxwoods were about the slowest growing bushes EVER, so in the three years they’ve been in the ground, they’ve hardly grown into substantial bushes I envisioned. Lesson learned: Research the local ground and area before investing time and money into plants you can’t keep alive!
4. Bookcase Sandbox. Ooooohhhhhh….the sandbox. One of my most viewed and pinned projects ever. It pains and embarrasses me to include this one on the “Miss” list…but alas…this is probably one of my biggest “misses” of all. The idea was so so so good. The paint job was impeccable. And the kiddo LOVED it. But as you might expect, cheapy MDF does NOT hold up to rain very well….even with the adorable cover we made for it. After about a year, this sandbox was rotted through and through, falling apart and infested. Yes, my friends. One of my biggest blogging triumphs is indeed a complete fail. (Hangs head in shame). Lesson learned: No amount of outdoor paint can protect MDF from rotting.
5. Painted Drop Cloth Rug. You’ve seen them, I’ve seen them…so many wonderful projects made from inexpensive drop cloths from the paint department at the hardware store. I painstakingly created this awesome paint treatment on this drop cloth to make an eye-poping “rug” for our porch. Not only was the drop cloth not heavy enough for even the slightest bit of wind (meaning that it was ALWAYS flipped up), but the cloth couldn’t repel any dirt, dust or bugs, making it instantly and always dirty. A run through the washing machine only yielded a crumply mess, so this one was tossed out soon after it was made. Lesson learned: Drop cloths do not make good outdoor rugs no matter what Pinterest says.
6. Succulent Garden. I jumped on the succulent bandwagon and then almost instantly fell off. As some of you suggested might happen, these babies slowly showed signs of dying in the poorly lit spot I had them in. Even after moving them to a sunnier location, most of them withered away and died within weeks. I only have the pretty colorful ones left. Beyond just the sunlight issue, I also think the rocks+soil situation is problematic. The only plants I’ve ever been able to keep alive have been ones in pots with drainage holes. Not sure if that was the issue here, but it’s certainly possible. Lesson learned: These suckers die easily and are expensive. Jump on the bandwagon with caution!
7. PVC Pipe Art Caddy. Arg…I hate that this one is on the list because it truly was one of my favorite projects ever…until recently. Henry has been in a MAJOR art phase, and so this little caddy was down on his level and getting a lot of use and abuse. Little by little, the pipes starting popping off the wood base. It was nothing I couldn’t fix, but with the impending move and about a million things to do, I tossed it into the trash instead of opting to fix it. I don’t think this one is a true, true fail. With good cuts, good sanding and some super strong glue, I still beleive this is a “Hit!” Lesson learned: There’s no replacement for REALLY good glue!
8. Decorative Side Panels. Eeek gads. Raise your hand if you remember the decorative side panels! (It means you’ve been reading for a long time 😉 This project was created because I was struggling with my cornice boxes, which felt a bit too modern for my taste. I decided decorative side panels would help them look less stark and a bit more traditional. However, I wasn’t willing to fork out the cash for true curtain panels or fabric, so I made skinny, skimpy panels using the half-width of 56″ wide fabric. With hemming, these came in at about 25″ wide. I actually think the cornice+drapes concept was solid, but the panels overall were poorly constructed and too skinny to give me the look I was going for. These came down just weeks after going up, and I’ve embraced our plain cornices ever since. Lesson learned: Make your drapes standard width and hang them on rods (instead of with Velcro like I did here). Quality really does show when it comes to curtains.
9. Reversible Cork Board. Okay – hear me out before you think I’m a total liar here on the blog. I still love this project, and I would even go as far to call it a “Hit” except the construction here was poor. The design and the concept is so so so good, but my construction skills are lacking and getting those mitre cuts just right was suuuuper tricky. When I couldn’t get them perfect, I compensated with wood filler and glue. Well…over the last few weeks of heavy use (Henry is obsessed with the white board on the back), the frame has started to ever so slightly pull apart. I hate things looking homemade and poorly done, so I am tempated to re-make it once we’re settled in our new place. Also, the chain was great in concept but is bit of a nuisance for flipping the board around. Next time around, I’d add simple hooks to the top that allow for easier flipping. Lesson learned: Good construction counts. Take the time to learn how to do something properly and practice before attempting a complex project!
10. Tile and Felt Coasters. I am calling these a fail even though we still use them every single day. Why are they a fail? Because hot glue is not a solid and secure way to attach felt to tile. Every single coaster has detached felt on three of the four corners. Everyday I look at them and think, “I need to fix these,” and I don’t. (Hangs head in shame again). The tile are fun and colorful and effective for protecting our surfaces from water damage; I just need to find a better adhesive for these two surfaces. Suggestions? Lesson learned: Tile work great as coasters; attaching felt to tile with hot glue does not work great!
Wow! What a trip down memory lane! How many of those projects to you remember? Are there any projects you are surprised about? Disappointed by? Encouraged try try?
Doing posts like these are always good for me to see that not every project is a failure (look at my “Hit” list) – but there are also techniques and concepts that surely need finessing. If you’re working on a project that isn’t coming together right, don’t worry. We all have our DIY failures! But with practice, perservernce, and a “just try it” attitude, you can make some pretty awesome things for your home!
And with that, I am closing out a super busy week for me. I hope you all have a FANTASTIC weekend! See you back here Monday!