DIY Chalkboard

cabinet-doorI’ve been wanting to update my kitchen cabinet doors, but since I change my mind a lot I figured painting was too much of a commitment (not to mention a lot of work). After removing a few of the doors to open up the space (read about that project here), I decided to turn some of the remaining doors into chalkboards. This creates a convenient space to make lists, jot down notes before I forget them, or display temporary artwork.

You can purchase chalkboard paint at hardware stores, but again, painting requires a decent amount of effort and commitment. A much easier, cheaper method is black contact paper! You can purchase contact paper marketed specifically as “chalkboard contact paper,” but I’ll let you in on a secret–it’s exactly the same stuff as plain black contact paper, which you can purchase at most home improvement stores (I bought mine for $6.99 at Fred Meyer).

Simply measure the area of your cabinet door, cut the paper to fit, and stick it on. My door required two pieces, but you can barely see the seam. A few things to keep in mind while putting up large pieces of contact paper:

  1. Clean the surface before you use it (contact paper likes a smooth, non-greasy surface)
  2. Peel off a bit of the contact paper backing at a time and smooth out bubbles as you go
  3. Contact paper is fairly easy to remove and re-position, so remain calm if it’s crooked–just peel off and try again

My supplies for chalkboard labels

I also love the look of chalkboard labels on jars and cans, so I purchased a paper punch from the craft store. The one I bought is called “flourish square” from Martha Stewart Crafts and is super easy to use. Regular chalk works perfectly well on black contact paper, but for more precise lettering or for writing in smaller spaces (like the labels) I recommend a liquid chalk marker. These can also be purchased at most craft stores.

Below are some ideas to get your crafty juices flowing. If you make something, I’d love to hear about it!


Here’s a cabinet door in my kitchen–lots of space for shopping lists, recipes, and doodling.


A pretty idea for a fridge sticker–just trace a design on the paper before cutting it out.


More fridge stickers–according to her blog, the bottom sheet is for the author’s kids to scribble on. Neat!


For a framed version, simply take the glass out of a picture frame and cover the cardboard insert with contact paper.


For a DIY version of this clock from ThinkGeek, just trace around your clock on the paper, stick it on the clock face, and make your own numbers!


These straws and cups were made with strips of black contact paper. Writable cup labels would be a cute idea for keeping tracking of guests’ cups at a party.


Jars labeled with black contact paper.


A cute way to let people know what’s behind the door!


Instant Kitchen Facelift: Removing Cabinet Doors

Maybe it’s the darker winter days making everything a bit gloomy, or my tacky kitchen cabinets that make that space overwhelmingly…brown–whatever the reason, I recently decided my kitchen wasn’t bright enough and could stand a facelift. The cabinets could certainly stand to be painted a lighter color, or completely removed and replaced with floating shelves, but I don’t have that kind of time or energy at the moment. Another easy way to open up the space in your kitchen, but without having to do a lot? Remove the cabinet doors!

This is relatively easy to do, and lets you make a minor change that can have a big impact. It’s also a good project for folks on a budget, or for renters who aren’t allowed to make drastic changes to their kitchen.

A few tips:

  1. You can do this alone, but if your cabinet doors are heavy, proceed with caution–nobody wants you to get bonked on the head with that door, and holding it steady while removing the hinges can be tricky (I used an electric screwdriver and made sure to move breakable things out of the way).
  2. Once the inside cabinet is revealed, you might want to spruce it up with some contact paper (easy to find–check out the links in my post on contact paper projects), or a contrasting shade of paint.
  3. Because the cabinet contents are now on display, group things in like colors so it doesn’t look too cluttered (I opted to keep a few doors on, in order to hide my mismatched items), or employ some baskets or storage bins to keep things tidy.
  4. Make sure you have a good kitchen exhaust/vent if you remove cabinet doors near your stove–airborne oil particles from frying stuff may travel and cling to exposed items.

And there you have it–a more open space that looks lighter and brighter! It’s also much easier now for guests to find things and to put things away. Some inspiration:


from Apartment Therapy


from Emily Ann Interiors


from Houzz


from In Your Back Pocket


My own work in progress. Next up–covering the interior with contact paper!

DIY Chevron Stripe Lampshade

IMG_1568-miniChevron stripes have been around for awhile, but I feel like I’m noticing them more and more lately. What’s not to love? All the tidiness of a stripe, with a devil-may-care zig-zag in it. I’ve been wanting to incorporate more chevron into my decor, and earlier this week stumbled upon a great DIY lampshade tutorial over at pomp & Their directions were pretty straightforward, but I’ll recap here, with a few additional tips/warnings.

You’ll need 4 things:IMG_1563

  1. A fabric lampshade
  2. Acrylic paint (a 4 oz. tube should be sufficient)
  3. A sponge brush
  4. Painter’s tape (I used masking tape because I had some handy and kind of regret it)

First, clear some space and lay down something to protect your workspace in case you spill your paint. Measure how far up the lampshade you want the peaks of your stripes to go, and stick a band of tape around the lampshade:


Start taping your first row of triangles from the bottom of the lampshade to just below your tape circle. After your first row is complete, remove the tape circle and tape on your second row of triangles, then your third, and so on until the shade is covered. Don’t forget to add little pieces/points to the top and bottom to complete the pattern:


Next, pour some paint onto a plate (acrylic washes off with soap and water), and sponge the paint onto the lampshade. Note: my masking tape didn’t stick as well as painter’s tape will, but whichever type you use, make sure it’s pressed down firmly before you begin painting so the paint doesn’t bleed under the tape.


Another important note: a single coat of paint will probably look streaky once the shade has light coming through it. A good way to check your progress is to wait until your current coat is dry (usually takes about 30 minutes), and gently set it back on the lamp base, turn on the light, and evaluate how evenly you applied your paint. A streaky look can actually look sort of neat, but I wanted a dark, uniform color, so I ended up doing 3 coats of paint.

Once the paint is dry, carefully peel the tape off of the lampshade and inspect your handiwork. If you look closely at mine, you’ll see spots where the paint bled under my masking tape. Fortunately, I’m okay with it looking a little homemade. It’s…um…charming, right?


The final step: pop the shade back on your lamp base and turn it on. Looks pretty snazzy, eh?


IKEA Hacks

As someone who owns a fair amount of IKEA furniture, I’m always inspired by folks who can personalize these often bare-bones products and take them from ordinary to extraordinary. I make regularly-scheduled visits to, and my DIY flame just got doused in kerosene by ApartmentTherapy‘s recent roundup of their top IKEA hacks of 2012. Since the best part of these are the before & after shots, I’m re-posting some of my favorite IKEA hacks below. A-mazing.


Lack end table: before


Lack end table after: with a collage and glass top


Lack end table after: with a bottom shelf and nailhead trim


Office organizer: before


Office organizer after: with antique stain and brass nameplates


Rast dresser: before


Rast dresser after: painted with brass chest accents


Rast dresser after: painted with added trim and molding


3-drawer dresser: before


3-drawer dresser after: painted and stenciled


Birch credenza: before


Birch credenza after: different shades of wood-grain contact paper

Silhouette Art

fox-faceI’ve already noted my fondness for tree silhouettes, but I recently discovered how easy (and neat-looking) framed silhouettes are. If you’re a Photoshop user, you can open an image and adjust the brightness and contrast until it’s a silhouette, then print it out, or simply sketch one onto paper or canvas, and color it in with paint, pastels or colored pencil. If you prefer not to draw freehand, print out a copy of a picture, lay it on top of carbon paper, then lay both on top of a canvas. Trace along the outside of the silhouette, and the carbon paper will copy the outline to your canvas.

If you use a flat canvas, it’s fairly easy to find a cheap picture frame to go with it, and thicker stretched canvases look nice hanging unframed–just paint the sides so it looks uniform around the edges. If you go the frame route, check out local Goodwill and second-hand stores and give that frame a new coat of paint (or not, if you like it as-is), and your homemade art instantly looks legit! Here are some silhouettes that inspired me:
bear-silhouette deer-silhouette dog-silhouette foxy oh-dear


found this nice silhouette online…


…so I painted a copy for myself!

DIY Headboards

Lately I’ve been thinking of putting a headboard in my bedroom, but want to avoid the cost of anything too fancy or the effort of actually building something from scratch. There are lots of options out there, such as painting a headboard design directly on the wall, using a wall decal, or painting a piece of salvaged wood or a door (you’ll just need hardware to secure it to the wall).

Most big cities have salvage stores where you can find old doors (and so much more) worth re-purposing. In Seattle, I like Earthwise Architectural Salvage, and Second Use. If you’re in Portland, OR, definitely check out Hippo Hardware.

A few inspiring ideas:

Wall decal from

Wall decal from

Wicker spray-painted fuschia

Salvaged door painted and attached to wall

Salvaged wood propped against wall

Picture Frame Necklace Holders

I think there’s an unwritten law that when two necklaces are left alone in a box, they will get hopelessly, inexplicably tangled up with each other. A way to avoid this is by hanging them up, which offers the added benefits of serving as pretty wall decor, and as a reminder of the cool stuff you own that might otherwise go forgotten when not in plain sight.

The easiest way to do this is by finding a cheap, wooden picture frame that has hanging hardware on the back of it. Paint the frame if you’d like, then either hammer in a row of small nails or attach small screws (you can find these fairly easily in hardware stores or Home Depot) along the top edge. Make sure you remove the glass from the frame when you’re hammering in the nails so you don’t break it, then replace and add a picture, or trace the size of the opening and add a sheet of construction paper in a color you like.