Installing a Vintage Medicine Cabinet

Installing a Vintage Medicine Cabinet

I grew up in the same house almost my entire life. It’s the only house I ever remember living in. My parents bought it when I was one and a half and they still live in that house today. I had a bedroom in the center of the house with no outside windows except for a skylight, which sounds a lot drearier than it was in reality. My room was always light and bright and I never had to close the curtains to change. My room was right next to the bathroom which had been redone in the 1950s. It was all green and black tile with floral wallpaper and an old sink. There was even some neon orange accent tile that some previous owner then painted black, but by the time I was in middle school the black paint was chipping in a few places exposing the orange. There was this great vintage mirrored medicine cabinet in that bathroom. It may have been original to the house. It had a lovely arched top and two hinged, adjustable wings which was just perfect for checking out your hair before the middle school dance. I loved that medicine cabinet! It was so great for looking at your hair from all the angles, because it had two hinged, mirrored sides.

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Silver Succulents

I mentioned here that while Nicole and I visited in Portland, Oregon we stopped in at the Goodwill Superstore on the Southeast side. Wowza! If you live in Portland, go there! It was amazing! Huge! There were rows and rows of clothes and entire section devoted to books. Books organized by genre! I’ve never been to a thrift store with a) so many books or b) books this well organized! Only United Airlines strict carry-on baggage allowances kept me from buying a large stack. That and the fact that I recently spent $40 on used books (that’s like 30+ books!) at the Blackoak Books moving sale in Berkeley. Hello my name is Laurel and I am a book-aholic.

 

This Goodwill Superstore had an entire aisle full of sterling silver, priced extremely low. This is where Nicole and I got truly excited. I had the idea of buying one of the smaller silver pieces and filling it with succulents. Because how adorable would that be? The answer is extremely adorable! We both decided to get small, packable, objects. Nicole ended up with a creamer and I found this fantastic sugar bowl which was missing it’s top. Perfect, since I needed it to be topless for the succulents anyways. We were ready for our friendship succulent planters now.

 

Goodwill Sugar Bowl | Land of Laurel

 

At home, I unpacked my sugar bowl. It was still adorable. Yay! This was such a great way to upcycle something sad and unwanted into something cute and happy. Here it is next to Fred for comparison sake. The little sugar bowl is  about 5 inches wide from tip of handle to tip of handle and only about 3 inches high.

 

Fred and the Silver Sugar Bowl

 

I didn’t want to go out and buy succulents, because, why spend the dough when I can get them for free? Plus I need teensy tiny succulents. What did I do? I raided the driveway, which is lined with three varieties of succulents. I sliced off a few of the smallest off shoots from each variety and was ready to go!

 

I quickly popped a few small pieces of gravel into the bottom of the sugar bowl, added some potting soil, and gently stuck in the succulents. The sterling silver sugar bowl ended up being everything I imagined!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

Not only was it super cute, but it was somehow playful and sophisticated. It makes makes me want to sip a hot cup of tea and speak in a British accent. Or should I say, “Ahhcksent?” Yes, maybe the latter is best.

 

I thought about polishing the sterling silver, but ended up deciding against it. Partially, because I am truly lazy, partially because I don’t have any silver polish lying around, but mostly because I love the patina it already has. The tarnishing is kind of beautiful and I love it, just the way it is.

 

As for the little mini-succulents– they were a perfect fit! I tried to find sprouts that varied both in height and size so there would be some movement. It worked out pretty dang well! My favorite variety are the little guys at the top that are tinged with purple at the tips. Anyone know what they’re called? I have planted several of them (there is even one in Fred). I’m a bit worried that they’ll grow crazy tall (like the one in Fred did), but until it happens, I’m not going to stress about it! I’m not sure why they grow so tall inside (maybe lack of sun?!), outside they get much larger and wider rather than growing straight up all skinny. I ended up bending the one in Fred underneath one of the leaves of the aloe vera, because it got so tall it started falling over. Crazytown!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Mini-Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

Overall, I’m pretty psyched about this guy. My only issue is that now I want like fifteen more! I initially thought they’d look awesome on the window ledge above my bed. Then I tried to stick this little guy up there and realized that the window ledge in that room is shallower than elsewhere in the house. The little legs on the sugar bowl basically make it instantly attempt to catapult off the ledge. Don’t worry, I drop things so frequently that I am now fantastic at catching them. Some of the time. The sugar bowl is safe! RIP glass mason jar completely full of apple cider (I missed the fridge shelf yesterday afternoon…).

 

But clearly, I need to hit up Goodwill a few more times and pick up a few more sterling silver pieces to use as succulent planters. I can see them scattered everywhere in a house, sitting on top of stacks of books. Very English countryside. Very me. Especially the part about the books. Have you read Living History by Hilary Clinton? I read it several months ago and ironically what struck me the most about the book was a few simple paragraphs describing the interiors of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ home. Filled with books! You got it people, if Jackie O did it, then it is beautiful, timeless, and oh so classic. Or at least that’s what I plan on telling anyone who asks if I need as many books as I own. Because, yes, yes I do. They make me happy.

 

Anyways, my new little sugar bowl is too cute and I am excited to make a whole bunch more! They would make fantastic little gifts, don’t you think? Party favors, wedding favors, birthday gifts, I can think of so much more!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

 

I’ve decided to stick this little guy on my nightstand for now. We’ll see if that’s enough light to keep him happy. Hopefully so, because who doesn’t want to wake up next to something that dang cute?!

 

Have you ever upcycled something into a planter? Have any advice on raising succulents? Know what varieties of succulent I’ve found from my driveway?

Wooden Crates are So Great!

Happy Tuesday! Happy March 1st!  Did you have a good weekend? Enjoy the Oscars? Outraged by the winners or happily agreed with the votes? I didn’t watch! Just read about it and enjoyed the dresses online. I went with my family to eat at Gather here in Berkeley instead. So yummy! I had a very chill weekend overall and got many things done, so I got to prep some blog posts for y’all! Yay!

 

Remember my living room? Those glass coffee and side tables always make me cringe. As I am among the World’s Clumsiest People, glass in places I can easily fall/trip over makes me… nervous, to say least. Because the tables are pretty perfectly sized for the space and I don’t have the budget to invest in new ones (plus, where would I put my roommates if I did?), I wanted to make them a bit more visually prominent in hopes I wouldn’t break them and time soon. Or, ever, really. Yes, let’s concentrate on not breaking them ever; that sounds much better, really. My attempts to make the table more prominent involved holiday displays, trays, and plants. It helped, but it didn’t quite add the visual weight I hoped for…

 

Living Spaces | Land of Laurel

 

A while ago, while driving down Highway 101 on the way home from a job site, my co-worker and I stopped for sustenance at a fruit stand. We were so hungry! Among the piles of various fruits and nuts they had piled old wooden cherry crates and were selling them for only $5! I see crates like these all the time at the Alameda Flea Market but always priced more than $30! I could have played it safe and bought one or two, but do I ever play it safe? Hell no! I hopped on that deal like a monkey on a banana! I bought eight cherry boxes for a total of $40. Worth it! Then I stuffed them into our already full (of chair samples!) van and called it a #colddeadfingers find worthy of Mandi! Here’s the pic from the overly excited text I sent to my two best friends, my mom, my sister, my aunt, my next-door-neighbor, and my next-door-neighbor’s dog. Let’s just say, I was pretty freakin’ excited about this!

 

Great Crate! | Land of Laurel

 

They were a little dirty, but I knew they’d clean up quick! At first, I had no idea what I’d do with them, but I knew I’d figure it out quickly. Produce crates aren’t hard to come by, but at that price, I felt so overly joyed. I was ready to celebrate! When I got them home, I wiped them down with a sponge and some Honest Multi-Purpose Spray. They were pretty clean by the time I was done, but I think in the future I’d like to try some furniture wax or polish to bring out the wood tones even more. For now, they’re just fine!

 

Because we had two side tables and the coffee table, I went and stuck four of the crates in the living room. The X-support under the glass of the coffee table ended up being absolutely perfect for the crates! They fit perfectly and we nice and stably balanced. More importantly? The coffee table went from barely there to having actual visual weight! Here it is before; see how your eye just glances over it? Not great for someone who needs many visual queues in order to not trip into things!

 

Glass Coffee Table | Land of Laurel

 

Then, look with the cherry crates stacked neatly on the bars! Boom! You can actually see the thing!

 

Cherry Crates Under Coffee Table | Land of Laurel

 

Not only were the crates very stable on the X-support, they actually extended the perfect amount, just a couple inches less than the width of the table. That meant, your eye could distinguish the edges of the glass and my brain could tell my body to avoid falling into it. Yay!

 

At first I just stacked the boxes under the glass of the tables, but then, as you can see above, I got a better idea! I filled the boxes with the design magazine I have lying around all over my house. Not only does this clear out the stacks I had lined up against the wall in my bedroom, but it provides reading material for any guests. Many of our visitors glance through them while we’re in the kitchen or chatting around. It’s nice to see the magazines in use and not gathering dust!

 

Magazine Storage | Land of Laurel

 

And there, my friends, is a ten minute fix to a small problem that will hopefully prevent me from dying a glassy death. I’ve definitely noticed that I bump into the table far less frequently now! Plus, I have four more cherry crates sitting in the attic waiting for another project to come by. Hmmm… any ideas for how I should repurpose them? Do you like glass tables inside? Do you notice the visual weight of items in your home?

Scrappy Headboard

Hello everyone! Hope everyone has had a wonderful first couple weeks of January! I can’t believe how fast the month has been going. Please excuse my radio silence; I’ve been trying to re-find my footing post-holidays! It’s been a crazy few weeks. Crazy good for the most part. But now — on to the good stuff.

 

Because my bedroom is on the first floor of the house, people always place their coats and bags in there when we have a party or people over for dinner. I don’t mind at all – in fact, my inner show-off likes to have people parading through that room. Plus it means I really truly have to clean up in there on the reg. Which, for me, is a much needed incentive as I tend to let things (clothes) pile up. By far, what people comment on the most after going into my room is my headboard.

 

New Bedding | Land of Laurel

 

I built my headboard while I was home for the summer during college. I used entirely scrap wood my dad had piled up (maybe this piling is genetic?) in the garage. It was a great way to get rid of some of the left over wood in a fun and useful way. Plus, some of the scrap wood was high quality walnut or cherry. The kind of wood you don’t want to just lie around forever! While I’d seen others use scrap wood to make headboards, most people seemed to be trimming it in, laying it horizontally, or cutting it into the outline of a more traditional headboard. I hadn’t seen anyone really let the mismatched wood take the point of focus. I wanted the scrappiness of the wood to take center stage. I wanted it to be obvious that the wood was collected and different.

 

I started by going through the wood in my parents’ garage. I wanted pieces that not only differed from each other, but were also different lengths and widths. Most of all, I wanted wood boards that had character, that looked like they’d live an entire life as something else. I found what I could, but when I first started grabbing, I realized many were looking quite similar.  You can see here that several boards were about the same length and width. That wouldn’t do!

Pre-Cut Wood | Land of Laurel

 

Once I’d laid out all the planks I needed for my new headboard, I marched several to be cut. Some I wanted shorter, some I wanted to rip two or three inches off to make two boards and break up some of the monotony. The whole dream for this was variation, differences, a story. To do this, I enlisted the help of a table saw… And my father. At the time, he felt I wasn’t to be trusted alone with a table saw. Silly man, I may be ridiculously clumsy, but I’ve never seriously injured myself! At the time though, I appreciated the help. I marked exactly where I wanted each board width ripped and handed those off to him, while I used a chop saw to alter some of the lengths. You can see here, how uneven I wanted these cuts. The boards were not being ripped right down the middle!

 

Ripping Boards for a Headboard | Land of Laurel

 

Once we’d made all our cuts, the boards showed so much more variation! It was exactly like I’d pictured, everything different, each plank it’s own story. My clear favorite was – and is to this day – the wide grey board with a knot hole missing from it. That was the kind of character I was hoping for! Now it was just time to figure out what order they would rest in. Again, I wanted contrast, short next to long, wide next to skinny. There needed to be some flow as well and I made sure to pay some attention to symmetry. I wanted to make sure the headboard wasn’t tall on one end and short on the other!

 

Scrap Wood Headboard | Land of Laurel

 

Once my boards were all cut and an order had been decided upon, I numbered them all with a pencil and brought them inside. I lined them all up against a straight object (a window seat in this case), and began the process of fastening them all together. There are a variety of ways I could have done this, but the whole idea at the start of the project was to use only things left over from other projects. So I grabbed a two by four and cut it’s length to match the width of my headboard. I did this twice so I ended up with two matching two by fours.

 

Scrap Wood Lined Up | Land of Laurel

 

I wish I had more pictures, but I worked on this project so long ago, I didn’t take them with a blog in mind! These pictures were all taken with an old point and shoot camera too, so excuse the graininess! You’ll have to imagine this next part. I laid both of my two by fours horizontally, perpendicular to the planks of scrap wood. One board I placed close to the top and one closer to the bottom. Then I took a bunch of left over drywall screws, got out a drill, and drilled a screw through the two by fours and into the scrap wood over and over and over until each piece of scrap wood was held on by two screws. Once the whole thing was held together, I took my new (and heavy!) headboard back outside onto the sawhorses.

 

I wanted there to be variation and character in the planks, but this was, first and foremost, a headboard. Which meant it needed to be smooth, without splinters to catch on linens, hair, or my skin! I got out an electric sander and went to town! I evened out the wood board transitions and made sure nothing was left to catch on anything. After I finished this, I missed some of the natural scratches and lines on the boards though. What to do? How to fix this?

 

If you ever want to beat something up, this is the project for you, my friends. I took out a hammer and some nails and bolts and started going to town. I made little divots by laying the bolts and nails down on the boards and then hammering them. It was actually really fun! I’ve heard you can also use bicycle chains and pretty much anything else you have laying around to give wood some character.

 

Then, once my boards were nicely beaten up, it was time to stain! Still outside, I took out a can of dark mocha stain left over from another project (aka free!) and gave the entire thing two coats, waiting between coats as directed on the can. After I wiped down the second coat of stain I went back and dripped additional stain on a few places on the headboard. I was hoping to add a bit more personality to the wood in this way as well. The spots of extra stain became much darker and some combined to create organic shapes.

 

After the stain had dried, cured, and off-gassed outside for several days, I brought inside and leaned it up against my bed. My bed was a birthday gift when I was twelve. At the time, I was completely enamored, but several years later, I was over the cold, silver metal and modern look. It had come from IKEA and had held up well, but just wasn’t my style anymore. I tried to find a picture of it and I did manage to – the picture is just old and showcases my crazy high school bedroom in all it’s holiday finest! Bet you never thought you see something this exciting! Look at that plate holder turned CD rack, the headboard in the center of the room, the extreme mess… so glad I’ve grown up! Haha!

High School Bedroom | Land of Laurel

 

Anyways, the metal headboard? Out! The bed itself? Totally reuseable. In fact, I placed my new scrap wood headboard directly in front of the old metal one and held it in place with eye hooks and twist ties! Now, you can hardly tell the old metal bed lives underneath that gorgeous scrap wood headboard! Plus, my new West Elm bedspread hides all those metal bed legs. Bam! Whole new look! Cost? Absolutely free. Pretty good deal if you ask me!

 

Garden Trellis Bedding | Land of Laurel

 

Have you made a headboard before? Or repurposed scrap wood to make something new and unexpected? It was a fun challenge to make something like this for absolutely nothing!

Little Guy for a Long-Time Friend

There is a thrift store pretty close to my house. It’s about a half-block out of my way when I’m walking home from BART after work. I won’t say what it’s called, because, to be perfectly honest, it’s not all that great of a thrift store. (Seriously where are the best furniture/accessory thrift stores in the Bay Area? Do you know??? TELL ME!!) Every now and then I’ll stop by though and see what’s there. I whole-heartedly agree with Katie from Bower Power that all thrift stores have a strength zone. This thrift store’s strength is clothes and toys. Neither of which I need much of. But, sometimes, walking home from work, a girl’s gotta see what’s what.

A few weeks ago, I’d strolled through the entire store and saw a pretty cool lamp. I liked its shape quite a lot– simple, rounded, contemporary– but I didn’t really have a place for a single lamp. I returned to browsing, and then, standing across the room, I noticed there was a second, matching lamp! The first lamp had a brother!  They were marked at $10 each and they were a hideous brown color. HIDEOUS. Now, $10 isn’t exactly pocket change for a lamp that probably doesn’t even work, but I thought, “Hey, why not?” I needed lamps for our living room which has some horrible (sorry roommates!) glass side tables, but nothing on them to give them more presence. So I hopped on those lamps like a tiger on a steak!

As I was walking to the check out — gripping my lamps by their necks like strangled chickens (is that simile graphic enough?!), I happened upon a small nightstand with fun curvy lines. What was this?? About a month before this, I’d actually spent the day thrifting (and donut snacking!) with my friend Hannah looking for a nightstand to make-over for her bedroom. Hannah wanted something with good lines, some fun turned elements that she could paint a fun color. We had gone to several places (remind me to write about how to spend an entire way thrifting and snacking through Berkeley and Oakland!), but hadn’t found anything that suited her needs. I set my lamps down on the nightstand, guarding these treasures like a dog, and pulled out my phone to text Hannah this picture.

Thrift Store Lamps and Nightstand

Hannah, of course, loved it, and for $10 dollars, she’d take it. I happily danced the rest of my way to the checkout and bought all three finds. At this point, I actually walked the rest of the way home carrying my new strangled chickens lamps. I then grabbed my car and headed back to the thrift store, because as much as I like to test my upper body strength, there was no way I was going to try carrying the nightstand home!

As I was loading the nightstand into the car, I cursed myself for my rookie mistake. I had not thoroughly looked at the nightstand before I bought it. The little guy wasn’t solid wood like I’d assumed. It was a mix of plywood, cheap pine, and MDF. Ugh. Plus, there was pretty bad moisture damage to the plywood back legs. Why hadn’t I taken a closer look?! Grrrr. I cursed myself. But, I had already bought it and the store didn’t take returns, so I decided to pretend to be an optimist and make the best out of the situation.

When I got a chance to work on the nightstand, I accessed the state of the piece, and concluded that I and the world of DIY could save this little guy. From the front, he actually looked pretty dang good!

Nightstand front view

From the side you could start to see some of the moisture damage…

Nightstand Side View

And from behind, you could completely access the damage. 😦 He definitely wasn’t a looker, this little guy!

La Chanelle

P.S. I tried to look up La Chenelle, but when it wasn’t immediately obvious, I gave up. I’m lazy like that. Let me know if you’ve heard of them?

When I zoom in, you can see that these back legs did NOT look good. I was worried…

Moisture Damage Legs

But back to the little guy’s DIY: first I wiped him completely down with an old wet projects sponge I keep around for this express purpose. Then I grabbed a pair of slip joint pliers and tightened the bolts that hold the pretty legs on. The front legs are by far my favorite piece of this dresser and I was happy they were so easily attached and not damaged like the back ones!

Tightening the legs

Oddly, once I turned him over the little guy had staples everywhere. I assume they once held something on, but at this point they were worthless and annoying.

Staples

I removed the staples in a quick minute with a pair of needle-nose pliers.

Needle Nose Pliers Staples

And yes, my pliers are pink. My father bought them for me. Apparently he thought I’d prefer that… Crazy old people! Just kidding. 😛

After that, I gave the little guy a decent sanding where needed. The sides were a bit bumpy towards the bottom from the moisture. A little sanding cleaned them up though. Once he was sanded, I got out my wood glue. Elmer’s = life long adhesive ❤

Wood Glue

Because I am not known for my poise and restraint, I just squeezed a ton of wood glue on the crappy looking parts.

Wood Glue on Leg

I’d picked up these small clamps the last time I was at Home Depot, so I decided to put them to use. Where the plywood had expanded and split from the moisture damage, I glued and clamped.

Wood Glue and Clamp

This held the plywood together in a position more similar to what it’d originally been. Since plywood is really just strips / pieces of wood glued together, I figured this really wasn’t any different. Plus, what did I have to lose? I left nightstand upside down and clamped like this overnight.

In the meantime, I turned my limited attention span to the drawers. That hardware was coming off! Hannah wanted to replace the pulls with some fun knobs from Anthropologie or World Market.

Nightstand Drawers

I placed the drawer fronts towards the ground and unscrewed the hardware. This is a really easy fix if you ever want to update a piece of furniture. New knobs add so much personality! Removing the hardware from these drawers took less than five minutes.

Unscrewing Nightstand Pulls

Once the hardware was unscrewed, the pulls popped right off. Super easy! There was some guck on the drawer fronts though, so I wiped that right off with a sponge. After that, except for the wholes, you couldn’t even tell there were once pulls on these drawers!

Guck under Hardware

I left everything and pretended I have a life outside of DIY for  a bit. The next day, I pulled the clamps off back legs of the little guy. They looked SO MUCH BETTER you guys! They looked almost totally normal and I knew with a coat of paint, you’d hardly notice at all. Except for the gaping holes! But whatever! I’d regenerated plywood! This was too exciting / such a freakin’ relief for me to worry about the gaping holes!

Reglued Plywood

Remember what they looked like before?!

Moisture Damage Legs

SO MUCH BETTER!!! Once I’d finished my twirling my happy dance around the courtyard, I decided to do something about those minor huge gaping holes in the little guy’s back legs. With that in mind, I tossed open my big canvas painter’s cloth and pinned it up to protect the courtyard area. I grabbed my wood filler and started filling in the scratches and gaps on the nightstand.

Wood Filler

I wear gloves and a mask when I do that because wood filler smells like cancer Seriously. it stinks stinks stinks!

Applying Wood Glue

While I was at it, I filled the holes from the drawer hardware as well.

Wood Filler on Hardware Holes

Make sure you lump a whole bunch of wood filler in holes like these. You want it to be bumpy now so you can sand it down to smooth later. Once I’d filled the biggest scratches and gaps I waited for the wood filler to dry, then sanded the entire dresser again, making sure the spots I’d wood filled were nice and smooth.

Sanding Wood Filler

Then I wiped the nightstand down again, but this time I used liquid deglosser. Since the little guy wasn’t solid wood I hadn’t wanted to sand him too hard and I thought this would be good in the nooks and crannies of the nightstand’s details that are always so hard to sand down!

Liquid Deglosser

After that, he was looking pretty good and I was ready to paint!!! I’m actually always ready to paint. I love painting! Before I could get anywhere near the little guy, I needed to tape off some areas. I didn’t want to paint the sides of the drawers, because this can mess with the opening and closing glide. I taped the edges of the drawers and used one of my roommates’s old issue of The Economist to cover the larger areas.

Prepping to Paint Nightstand

The little guy was looking pretty decent actually. I was so relieved that I’d managed to save the moisture damaged nightstand. Now, with a bit of primer and paint, I didn’t expect to notice the little guy’s humble beginnings at all!

Have you ever saved plywood from moisture damage? Did it work? Are you as excited as I am about saving this nightstand from a watery grave?!