Sometimes things don’t turn out right… Home Office Reno, part 6 of 7

I attempted two final projects in my home office renovation that I thought could easily be done with some items I already own. One was a clock, the other was a wastebasket. Turns out I was wrong. On both counts.

I attempted the clock a few months ago. Like, it was still hot outside. ( Of course that could have been yesterday in my neck of the woods.) After I broke down my desk for its upcycle, I had several pieces of wood left over. Because my clock was slowly disintegrating – as in every time I moved it, a piece would break off – I thought why not cut another clock out of one of these pieces?

The Clock Mistake

First problem: I used the glass front of my old clock as a template for the new one. I had a piece big enough for the pattern, but cutting it was a different story. This particleboard is seriously thick, and my jigsaw blade was not having it. Hence, the lopsided circle.

Second problem: After painting, I drilled a hole for the clock’s hands to fit through. After about 4 tries with estimating the size of the hole needed, I’d cut it too big – and as I would find out later – not centered. I threw it off to the side – paint still wet, so it stuck to some paper – and gave up on it for a few weeks.

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Home Office Reno, part 5 of … The Little Things

For the last few weeks, this #WeekendDIYGirl has been doing a few repainting and arts and crafts projects to finish up my home office. While some upsetting life stuff a few weeks ago threw a wrench into some of my plans and fizzled a little of my motivation, it also gave me more free time to finish my projects.

Repainting Everything

My color palate here for my accessories consists of white and charcoal gray. I repainted several items that I want to reintroduce into my office for functionality:

  • Pen and knick-knack container (gray)
  • Bookends ( gray and white)
  • File cabinet (white)
  • picture frames (gray)
File cabinet before ( left-hand side or 1st image) and after (right hand side or 2nd image)
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Easy Art Installation

I love flowers. But cut flowers depress me a little because they don’t last. Why not capture the beauty in a photo or better yet a series of photos?

I took a few pictures of this arrangement I received using my newly up-cycled coffee table as a background. These were staged photos, but they were simple camera phone pictures.

Then I used the grayscale filter most photo software has and created black and white artistic images. After choosing 3 I really liked, I sent them to a chain pharmacy for simple 4″x6″ prints.

Most chain pharmacies have online photo printing software where you can upload your photos and send them to the store to print. I even did some brightening and adjustment once I uploaded the photos to the pharmacy. These were ready the same day.

I purchased frames already matted with a simple style mat. These are 5×7″ frames matted for 4×6″ photos. After assembly, these are ready to hang!

This project was fast and cheap. Altogether, not including the flower arrangement, I spent around $15- $20 by getting these upgraded frames on sale (or you can get basic frames for the same price) and keeping the photo size a standard 4×6″.

Extra tips:

When hanging these make sure you have enough wall space for all the framed photos. Measure your space twice, marking where each picture will go, before attempting to hang them.

Hang the middle photo first, to ensure your art installation is centered.

Stained and Stenciled Photo Frame

Skill Level: Beginner

Tools Needed: Wood frame (this is a 5 x 7″ size), Water-based stain (this color is “Jacobean” from Minwax), acrylic paint water-based varnish (or other water-based sealants), paint brush or rag for stain, plastic picture glass or Plexiglas, sponge paintbrush (stencil brush), plastic stencil of your choice, picture hanging hardware, 320-grit sandpaper

Because I haven’t worked with wood in a little while, and because I had a perfect photo to go with a frame that was stained with this dark color that I’d already bought, I decided to craft a photo frame instead of buy one. If you would rather buy one, click here to go to my Etsy store.

Wood frame after staining


1.) Before staining wood, sand and clean the wood, even it it’s something already shaped and “ready” like this is.  I did a light sanding with a 320-grit sandpaper just to make sure  it’s ready for stain. Then I wiped it off with a lint- free cloth, slightly dampened. After the frame dried it was ready for stain!

I like to brush this stain on with a sponge brush because I like the dark look of it. Wiping stain on with a cloth will give you a lighter version of your color. This is really about preference here and how your particular piece of wood will take stain.  Most of the craft store wood frames are a soft wood like this pine and will just soak up the stain.

Stencil applied, stencil brush shown on right side.

2.) Stain dries pretty quickly, but I gave it at least a day to fully dry before I stenciled the design on it. I used acrylic paint – you can find it in any craft store. Stenciling is easy once you get the hang of it.  The trick is to keep  the stencil stable while you paint. Adhesive stencils are always best. These were not adhesive, so I had to tape the stencil down first. As you can see, the bottom stencil moved some on me and the pattern came out blurry. This will also happen if you have too much paint on your stencil brush (which is what happened here). The top stencil, which looks a lot better in my opinion, was done after I had experimented with the bottom stencil.

Frame after 2 coats of varnish

3.) After I let my stencil dry, I used some water- based acrylic paint varnish to seal everything.  The varnish is in a satin finish to give it that shine. (pictured.) Once this was dry it was ready to assemble!


4.) This particular frame didn’t come with a glass to hold and preserve photos, so I purchased a plastic  one from a local craft store. I also purchased a photo matte sized for the frame and picture (here, a 5×7 matte with a 4×6 picture opening). Because of the frame style, I had to cut the corners of the matte and safety glass to get them in the frame.

5.) I attached a sawtooth picture hanger on the back of the frame to hang it to the wall. Now it’s ready for my favorite photo!

Lessons Learned

1.) Don’t load up stencil brush with paint and keep stencil in place when stenciling. This will take time.

2.) I didn’t like having to work with a rounded-edge frame, like this, so I probably wont do this again soon.

3.) Stain is awesome, but it’s even better with a sealant. Always seal if you want that professional polished look!

Christmas Floral DIY – Tabletop Centerpiece

Skill level: Easy to Intermediate. This depends on your creativity and your preparation level. While this is an easy project for an amateur floral arranger, this should not be the first flower arrangement you try.

Supplies: Wet Floral foam bricks (about 3), 12″ diameter platter or flat shallow bowl (to hold the arrangement), 2 individual silk poinsettias (white), 2 – 3 blue bead sprays (found in the silk floral section of any craft store), bunches of real Christmas tree branches, dried bare sticks, silver spray paint, spray snow (the flocking kind is best, but any kind will do), pinecones, floral wire or floral pins, one 10″ tall cylindrical glass vase, wired ribbon of choice (pictured: burlap 3″ wide ribbon).

Before Arranging

I started out determining how big I wanted the arrangement and found a platter (from Dollar Tree) that would hold the foam to hold the arrangement. To determine how tall you want the arrangement, prearrange your piece. To prearrange: cut and arrange your foam on the plate/bowl while dry, then put the vase in the center on top of the foam, then put your bare sticks in your vase. At this point, you may want to cut them or break them apart to get them to the height you want them to be. Then take it apart and start preparing the foam.

My wet foam has been used, but because these are woody branches complete with sticky sap, I felt okay reusing some of the better looking older pieces. If this were a delicate floral display,  I would have gone for new floral foam. If you don’t know how to use floral foam this article can help. Make sure you soak your foam before doing this arrangement–I soaked mine overnight.

Something else you can do beforehand is spray your bare sticks.  After getting your sticks to the height you want them, spray paint them (I’ve picked a silver spray paint from my local craft store) on all sides of the sticks, making sure to let them dry between coats. Follow instructions on the paint can. You can also spray your canned snow on branches when the paint is completely dry. I also take this time to spray my pinecones with spray snow. I let everything sit in a dry area overnight.

Arranging Centerpiece

Greenery in place

The Christmas tree branches are the base of this arrangement, so I use them to cover up the foam and  to make the bulk of the arrangement.  Because I know I am going to have a vase in the center and ribbon going through the center, I’m not putting branch pieces there. Instead, I loop my burlap ribbon in a way I find pleasing that moves through the arrangement. I cut the amount of ribbon I need, design my loops, then use floral pins or floral wire to hold the ribbon in place: first I stick the pins wire through the ribbon, then  I stick my loop creation into the foam. If I don’t like the way it looks, I can twist and fluff the ribbon (because the ribbon itself is wired) to the shape I want it.

After my ribbon is in place, I loop a wire through my pine cones and stick my wired pinecones around the arrangement, covering bare spots. I even put one in the bottom of the glass vase to “cover” that see through area. Then, I cut my bead sprays and stick them and my poinsettias into the floral foam. I’ve wired a few mini snowmen as well and put them into the arrangement.

Before the arrangement gets too heavy, I put it on my decorated table. I place the vase in the middle and add my sprayed sticks. Finally, I add small pieces of Christmas tree branch in any bare spots for a full natural arrangement.

Lessons Learned:

  • My Deal of the Day Spray Snow (see it here) gave me just enough to create the frosty pinecones  for my centerpiece. If I had a bigger project or needed this for multiple projects, I would have gone with a better brand.
  • Make sure to spray your arrangement’s greenery every few days to keep it from drying out. If you use a shallow bowl or a platter that has a high edge (like mine), you can also put water in the dish to keep the foam wet and the greenery alive. Do not put water in your vase,  or spray your pinecones. Spray snow tends to run when wet.