Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Wreath Frenzy

My holiday decor shopping this year is reaching near-hoarder levels. The shelves in the garage are already full, as is the spare closet...I honestly don't know where it's all going to go once the season ends. But I can justify it all, because I got it for ridiculously cheap at the thrift store, and it doesn't look it.

So, this is the second post in my Thrifty Christmas series (the first was the Holiday Shrub), and this one is all about wreaths. Christmas wreaths are probably the most customizable seasonal decor, but wreath-making can be a pricey craft if you're buying everything new. But if you know where and how to look, creating gorgeous wreaths from thrift store finds is easy and insanely cheap!

The key is to be creative about your resources. I sourced my wreaths and decorative elements from three different thrift stores in the area. Thrift stores usually start putting out Christmas decor a few weeks after Halloween. Though they bring out the merchandise gradually to keep the shelves stocked, as with most things, you're likely to find the best stuff if you start early. I found the big wreath pictured below at the Salvation Army for $3.99. Similar wreaths from the craft store are $20 or more!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Festive Holiday Shrub

I am particularly proud and excited about this project, because, unlike many of my posts, this one is not inspired by something I saw on Pinterest or someone else's blog. It's entirely of my own least as far as I know.

The magnolia bush in our yard is always the first plant to lose all its leaves as winter draws near. I love the shape of the shrub, and the color of its dry branches in the winter light. This year I decided it would be the recipient of the first explosion of Christmas cheer.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Touch of Fall

We usually get our first cold winter storm about a week after Halloween. For bodies still used to early fall heat waves, it's real cuddling weather. And even when I can no longer keep my toes warm, I keep my spirit warm with touches of autumn color around the house.

I started with a few packs of leaves from the dollar store. When I grabbed these off the shelf I couldn't tell there were so many color varieties in each pack, nor so many leaves. There were more than 200 in each pack and I bought three!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Trendy Feather Earrings

This project falls under the category of "Things I won't buy if I can make them cheaply myself." The materials for making your own feather earrings are cheap enough that the ones you see in stores are a shocking rip-off. Thanks to my friend Stephanie for inspiring this little adventure in thriftiness.

You can get all the supplies you need at a craft store like Michaels. (Prices are estimates because I lost my receipt and can't remember precisely how much everything cost.)
  1. Feathers! - $6 for a big variety pack, $3 for smaller color-coordinated packs
  2. Earring hooks - $3 for pack of 20
  3. Crimp cord ends - $4 for a pack of 48 (there seem to be a few names for these. I have seen them called crimp beads, but the most important thing is that they have a loop at the top).
  4. Optional: Pretty chain for trendiness and weight - about $4 for a pack, or take apart an old necklace you don't wear anymore for free!
  5. Optional: Thread for holding feathers together

Monday, October 3, 2011

How to Make Pipe Cleaner Spiders

It's officially October and I have no more restraint when it comes to Halloween crafts. The inspiration for this how-to comes from the Wired How-To Wiki on building a giant spider web. I followed Wired's instructions but made a few modifications.

For this project, all you will need is a pack of black pipe cleaners. Michaels sells a pack of 100 for a just a few dollars.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mini DIY: How to Easily Remove Price Stickers

Here is a mini how-to for removing price stickers quickly and easily, without gunking up your pretty fingernails. I learned this trick from the manager at Webster's Fine Stationers, where I worked once upon a time.

This works best on the little price label stickers that come on things from the thrift store or smaller mom an pop places that still use old-fashioned price guns. However, it also works well on those pesky department store labels that are designed fall apart into a hundred pieces when you try to remove them.

Step 1: Get some Scotch tape. Take a piece, and while still holding on to a corner of it, place it over the sticker you want to remove. (If you let go of the tape, then you'll have two sticky things to worry about removing.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

West Elm Inspired DIY Part 1: Black Vases

Ever since West Elm appeared on the scene, I've admired their crisp, modern designs, but haven't found much to get me going. Their latest catalog was an exception. While giving it the obligatory flip-through before the recycling bin last week, I found myself pausing more than usual...and maybe even drooling a little. Here and there, I found things that really appealed to me, and while I still can't conscionably purchase decor at their prices, I can sure as heck create my own knockoff.

Okay, knockoff may be kind of a strong about "inspiration" instead?

The first thing that caught my eye was the Lombok Pottery Collection. I love the fact that they were simple in both shape and color, but still had enough shine to them to catch the light. And anything black is easy to fit into the decor in my house and easily appeals to my male roommates.

My first thought was the bric-a-brac shelves at the thrift store, so I took a quick trip to the Salvation Army during my lunch break. These three little vases are what I came home with.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thrift Store Table Turned Custom Ottoman

At the end of a long day at work (or cruising the local thrift-store), I'm a fan of putting my feet up and relaxing with a good book. Problem is, the only place to put my feet up in our living room is the glass coffee table, and footprints on the glass is not something I want to worry about.

But that's nothing a little DIY project can't fix!

Just like my Dress Dyeing Adventure, the inspiration for this project came from something I saw on Young House Love. A guest post by Kara Paslay, who made an ottoman totally from scratch.

Well, I don't have my home workshop set up for woodworking yet (someday I will have a circular saw...), so I didn't go from scratch. Instead, I picked up a small side table from the thrift store for $10.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dress Dyeing Adventure

I think dyeing your own clothes counts as an adventure because it takes a certain amount of bravery to undertake. My clothing dye experience up to this point was limited to tie-dyeing t-shirts at summer camp as a kid, but I was inspired by the daring project Sherry at Young House Love undertook to dye her wedding dress! Now that's bravery.

I had no plans to potentially ruin anything quite so precious as a wedding dress (also, I don't have one), but I did have two second-hand dresses in my closet that I probably would never wear if they remained white. The first dress was a strapless black and white cotton toile, and the second was black dots on white. Because I took a few pictures of both dresses in the dyeing process, so excuse me if there is a mix of both dyeing adventures here. This is how both dresses started:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bathroom Cabinet Makeover

The house I live in has almost everything a renter could ask for: spacious bedrooms, mahogany laminate floors, granite countertops. That is, everything but decent bathroom storage! The master bathroom has not a single drawer or cabinet. Time to use my thrift store and DIY savvy to solve this problem.

I found this fugly brown cabinet for $20 at the thrift store. As far as I can tell, it was originally designed to hold VHS tapes, but it's also the perfect size for bathroom doodads of various shapes and sizes.

How to Finish Ribbon Ends

Part of my thrift store addiction is finding cute second-hand dresses, but many of them are missing accessories such as belts, sashes, and ties. One of my favorite ways to update an old dress is to add a new length of ribbon from the craft store as a belt.

The problem is, when you get ribbon cut at the fabric store, you end up with frayed edges that are none too pretty.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Thrifty Fabric Flowers

I find tutorials for adorable fabric flowers on DIY and decor blogs all the time, but until recently I hadn't tried making any. That all changed when I popped by a thrift store on my lunch break (once again, looking for something completely different) and saw a roll of upholstery fabric samples on a rack for $3.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Patch of Patriotic Decor

July hasn't ended yet, so I think I'm still justified in posting this mini decor project. I wanted to add a little patriotic color to my house for the 4th of July, and I wanted to do something maybe a little classier than buying cheap miniature American flags from the hardware store.

This may seem like a non-sequitur, but bear with me. From time to time I get a bouquet of flowers from someone, usually purchased from a supermarket or one of those phone-order places. The flowers are beautiful, but once they die, I'm left with a cheap, dirty glass vase. I usually throw them out or give them away, and if the bric-a-brac shelves at my local thrift stores are any indication, many other people do the same thing.