Thursday, December 20, 2012

Comfort First

I bought a living room table to prop my feet up on while I sit on the couch at the Cornelius ReStore. Step one, getting a foot rest, went well. Step two, making it comfortable, is in progress.

This is the table upside down being primed. I spread out some old towels and a plastic drop cloth then flipped the table over. I wanted to make sure I got the bottom painted well. The top will be covered in fabric...soon. I used "Kilz" primer as a base coat so the paint would stick to the table better.

Once I primed the table inside and out, I moved on to painting it black. I applied two coats of black paint. Once it was all dry, I flipped it back over and now it is waiting for the next step. More to come...

--Jessica, Youth and Volunteer Associate at Our Towns Habitat

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Creativity is hard. Well, maybe not for everyone, but finding the time to create can be. That's why I was so excited to go see all the hard work and creativity that the designers of Forsyth County's ReStore Spaces put into their rooms!

If you've never heard of ReStore Spaces before, you need to seriously check it out. It's a fundraising event that the Habitat ReStore of Forsyth County puts on annually. The idea is that local design teams partner with Realtors and Habitat families to raise funds through creative awareness about the ReStore. Design teams are challenged to decorate 10'X10' rooms using only donated items found in the ReStore. The fundraiser emphasizes the importance of donating new and gently used items rather than dumping them in the landfill. You never know what sort of treasures you'll find in a Habitat ReStore, and the possibilities for such treasures are endless. Here are some of my favorite examples of repurposing from ReStore Spaces:

 The "burst" in this decorative mirror is made up of drawer pulls/handles strategically placed at alternating levels. 
This room, designed by students at Forsyth Tech, utilized reclaimed pallet wood and door jambs to create the textured wall and industrial headboard. 

Old stereo cabinet turned into storage and a bench at the foot of the bed.

Shutters were sawed in half long way to create a unique baseboard. 

Look closely in this room and you'll instruments have become the focal point of repurposing! The piano in the back was donated in non-working condition. This design team stripped it of its keys, turned it into a desk, and used the keys for art work. 

Art work made from piano keys, and trumpets turned wall sconces. 

Don't you love this ottoman?! It's actually an old tire wrapped in twine and covered with batting and fabric! This puppy sold for $100!

Items from the rooms were priced by designers and sold the night of the event to raise funds for Forsyth County Habitat for Humanity. In addition to the money raised through the sale of items, designers urged family and friends to vote for their team online. One vote was $10, with an award going to the team that raised the most money. Voting was also encouraged the night of the event.

The whole evening was an inspiration, and really encouraged community partnerships, repurposing/craftiness, and was all in all  just plain fun. Forsyth County's ReStore Spaces was one of the reasons that Our Towns Habitat for Humanity ReStores created the ReStore ReStyle Design Challenge two years ago, and is happy to announce a third year!!

So consider this your Save The Date! If you want to see what kind of amazing things can be created out of donated ReStore items, attend the 2013 ReStore ReStyle Design Challenge on Friday, May 17th, 2013 at the Mooresville ReStore. Tickets will go on sale in the spring and will be $15 in advance, $20 at the door, to include food and (adult) beverages.

For photos of last year's ReStore ReStyle event, visit our Facebook Page. Sponsorship opportunities for as low as $100 are still available! Contact if you're interested in learning more. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You made that out of what?!

At the ReStores we're all about repurposing.... from paper to bottles, furniture and buttons, we know true repurposers when we see them. That being said, I have to toot the horns of a few of our local artists and artisans who participated in the Mooresville ReStore's  Artisan Fair last Saturday. We had 24 wonderful vendors from the Lake Norman area who created their own wares by hand, including furniture, jewelry, games, home decor, food, and more!

Here are a few of my favorites:


The talented girls from Alta~Cation spent months preparing this dress created only from bubble wrap and Yuengling bottle caps. Talk about repurposing!

Mo's Arts & Crafts

This girl is very unique! Each piece is one-of-a-kind,  made from deconstructed vintage and antique jewelry.


Paper is Playful Papyrus' passion! Using paper she creates art, but lovely and functional. From dresses to bowls, earrings and paintings, this girl knows her paper!

Being a beginning repurposer, I know the hard work and dedication it takes to follow your passion and to create something out of somebody's nothing. So I give kudos to these women and all the participants in the Mooresville ReStore's Artisan Fair!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WHAT?! It's already October?!

That's the feeling I've had waking up the last three days. Where has this year gone?! It's true what they say, you know.... the years get shorter the older you get. So if that's the case, I better start preparing for Christmas now- its only 3 months away!

So that's what I did. I created a Christmas wreath out of book pages. Librarians beware in this post, because I defaced a pretty amazing author just to get make a pretty cool book wreath. There are a number of templates for this particular project. I got my inspiration for this project from this one but ended up going a completely different route. Here's how it ended up:

What you'll need:
  1. Book(s)-preferably old ones that are missing pages or already discolored.
  2. Hot glue gun and lots of glue sticks
  3. Cardboard to cut into a circle the size you want your wreath to be.
  4. Ribbon 
  5. Something to put in the middle- Here I used small Christmas bulbs in various colors. I originally thought to put a picture in the middle, but really anything can be used here. 
Possible Modifications:
  • You can also use a foam wreath like what is used for floral arrangements
  • Some tutorials suggest spray painting the edges of the pages before ripping them out in order to give a more ancient feel.
We were having a book sale at the Cornelius ReStore when I started this project so I grabbed one of my favorite authors, William Shakespeare, and thought his words would be appropriate for this project. 

Next I cut out a small circle from a cardboard box. Your circle can be any size. The larger the size, the more pages you'll need to complete your wreath, and the more time consuming the project will be. 

Then I drew a smaller circle in the middle to represent the opening. You can also cut this out and have an opening, but I knew I wanted to fill mine with Christmas decorations so I chose to just leave it.

Next I tore out a page :O ! and rolled it up so that it looked like an ice cream cone. I used one small dab from the hot glue gun to secure my page into its cone shape. I tried to do this so that my back layer would have a larger opening and my front layers would have smaller openings. Each cone looked like this:

Then I glued each cone down in a circle onto my cardboard wreath. I was very careful not to leave any space between cones. This ultimately ended up in a "squishing" of the following cone layers. I think next time I'll leave some space between each cone.

After I had three layers all the way around my wreath, this is what it looked like:

I glued down a piece of a page that I thought would make an interesting center piece and then changed my mind. This is what I decided upon:

Again here I just used the glue gun to glue down miniature Christmas ornaments. I took the hooks off the top, flipped them over, and arranged them how I saw fit! Super easy center piece. 

Then I took a piece of ribbon and used a stapler to connect it on the back and voila!

Again, here is the finished project: 

I have plans to do another one of these wreaths (please don't tell the librarians!) very soon. This time I will be sure to use pages that don't have any color on them (the orange is driving me crazy!), and I'll probably do it while watching a chick flick since it is pretty time consuming.

Have you tried doing one of these before? I'd love to see how yours turned out!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reclaimed wood for my reclaimed home!

I love the idea of using reclaimed wood in my house. It brings a sort of down to earth feel to an already vibrant living space, so long as I can keep my other half from cutting it up and using it for his projects. When I am able to keep a piece of wood long enough to decide what to do with it, good things happen... like the project I finished last night. 

I had recently acquired a couple pieces of wood screwed together to look like the top to an old picnic table, only smaller. I knew great things would come of it so I kept it around until I found the perfect saying to paint on it. 

I knew that since it was a weathered piece of wood I wanted to maintain the weathered look. I dry brushed lightly over the wood in a dark brown paint that I had laying around. The dry brushing allowed me to still see the knicks and scratches on the top surface while still providing a rich color that would match my inside decor.

While that paint was drying I printed out the saying I had chosen. When doing this it was important to me to choose a font that was large enough for my wood, while simultaneously conveying the message that the words would deliver. Since I was going to be using an exacto knife to etch the letters into the wood before I painted I also looked for a font that was thick and not too curvy. 

Once the paint was dry I laid out the words and taped them onto the board where I wanted them. Next I (carefully) took an exacto knife and etched each letter into the wood. This was the longest and gruesome part because my hands kept cramping up. But once they were etched it looked great!

I considered leaving the piece with just the etched saying, but after much deliberation decided that it would be too hard to read in my bedroom light. So, I got to painting.

I used a small paint brush  (for crafts) and a sample color that I didn't end up using in my house to complete the task. It took a while to finish because I am such a perfectionist but in the end it was worth it. At the last minute I also remembered that I had a stencil that had never been used that would look great in the corners of the wood.

Now, I've never used a stencil and am not the person to be taking stenciling advice from. However, I will say that I made it work. I was growing impatient and didn't want to have to put another coat on the stenciled corners so I over did it on the paint. Needless to say, the paint got underneath the stencil and the outline got blurry. So I improvised, turned my paint brush upside down and used the point to outline the stencil. This worked to my benefit and I was thrilled!

 Here is the completed project on my wall (sorry the picture quality is so bad!). I used a dot of toothpaste on the back of the wood to mark where I needed to screw it into the wall. Amy's note: This only works when you make sure your artwork is level, otherwise you end up putting a lot of unnecessary holes in your wall. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I go through a LOT of paper towels at my house....

...and I'm not sure why. Perhaps its because every time I'm at the grocery store I forget to buy napkins. Regardless, my use of paper towels has paid off in my most recent project!

I saw an idea on Pinterest (shocker, I know...) that reuses empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls to create abstract wall decor. Not only was it super cute and easy enough, but I loved the "green" aspect of it! I mean, think about it. You run out of toilet paper and what do you do with the roll before swapping it for a new one? Throw it away, most likely. But instead of doing that I collected them for a period of time (honestly though, I'm such a germaphobe that I tried to stick mostly to paper towel rolls rather than toilet paper rolls).

When I felt like I had a sufficient stack of cardboard rolls I collected all the supplies I knew I would need:
This included: 
  • Hot glue gun
  • Pen
  • Measuring Tape
  • Scissors
  • Square (yes, I know its shaped like a triangle. If you don't have a Square a ruler will also suffice)
  • Update: Finishing Nails and a Hammer 
To begin making my abstract art I took each roll, or tube, and smooshed it flat. Then, using the measuring tape and pen I measured out each roll in 1 inch pieces. I wanted them to be as equal in width as possible thinking that they would sit flatter against my wall. I could get 11 pieces out of one paper towel tube, and 4 out of one toilet paper tube. I didn't count the number of each type of rolls I used, but this project is so flexible that you can use as many or as few as you want. 

Next I used to my hot glue gun to glue together pieces of the tubes in the shapes of flowers and leaves. I did this haphazardly because I didn't have a clear vision in my mind as to what exactly I wanted. But again, that is the beauty of DIY projects- you get to decide on what looks good and what doesn't. 

After I had the pieces glued together the way I wanted them, I took my wall decor outside and spray painted it white. I thought this was going to be the easiest part of the whole project, but boy oh boy was I wrong! Maybe it was the humidity, or the spray paint I was using could have been bad. Whatever the case, all my spray paint dripped off or disappeared so I had to resort to plan B- painting each "petal/flower" by hand. :( 
It took me a good 2 or 3 hours to paint my glued together cardboard tubes once I found enough paint (I ended up using an interior latex paint in semi-gloss, but you could use craft paint, acrylic, anything I'm sure). FINALLY I was done painting! And call me Ms. Impatient because the next thing I did was went inside and got my hair dryer to hasten the drying process! I couldn't wait to see the finished product up on my wall!
Up and ready, here is the finished product:

I had my wonderful boyfriend help hold up my decor while I decided where to place tiny finishing nails. Then  I hooked my decor onto the nails and voila! I'm really happy with the finished product. I love the contrast of the white next to my "Uptown Girl" burnt orange walls. 

Amy's Notes: Be patient! If you repeat this project (and you should!), I would recommend painting the tubes before cutting them into pieces. Also, make sure your decor is completely dry before trying to hang it up. Mine is slightly larger, so I definitely needed Ben's help to get it up on the wall. But because it was still a little wet, not only did it rub off on the wall, but it also fell apart! I had to bring the hot glue gun inside to re-glue a few pieces. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Homemade Chalkboard paint

The beauty of Habitat ReStores is that you never know what you'll find. It's like treasure hunting, looking for fabulous finds among the donations from generous people who believe in a cause. The beauty of Pinterest is that you never know what you'll learn. Put these two amazing ideas together and you've got a lifetime of grand ideas!

Our most recent idea at the ReStore was to experiment with homemade chalk board paint, a process which is actually very simple. All you need is 2 tablespoons of unsanded grout to every 1 cup of your favorite color latex or acrylic paint.

Here's what I used: 

Keracolor-U unsanded grout in white. I didn't need a lot of it so this was a great solution. If you're doing an a couple of rooms in chalkboard paint or plan to use it for a lot of projects, it might be more beneficial for you to get a small bag of unsanded grout. 

For paint I chose to use Folk Art Acrylic Color in Hunter Green and Yellow because I had them laying around. I squirted a good amount into a bowl and then mixed: 

Once I got a color I was happy with I started applying the paint directly onto a clean, clear glass vase (picked up at the ReStore). I used a foam brush because it was all I had available, but I would recommend using a normal paint brush. 

My finished product looked like this: 

Now all I need are some flowers and someone to leave me a message! 

Note: One thing I would recommend is to measure out the amount of grout you are using. I ended up using too much and the paint became too thick and sticky, which made vase a little rough once the paint dried. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rome Wasn't Built In a Day

Rome wasn't built in a day...It wasn't updated or maintained in a day either. As a first time home owner I have to remember this as my wheels constantly spin trying to decide on what project to work on next. Most of the time there is a already one in the works before I have finished the one I'm currently working on!

My favorite projects are the ones I can start and finish in a day... well, at least a weekend. So what did I do this weekend? I turned a mantel into a headboard with the help of my better half.  I purchased the mantel at the Habitat ReStore in Mooresville for roughly $25. It looked very similar to this mantel, but without the slate insert: 

I think part of the reason I had been putting it off for so long is because I knew it needed a good sanding, so that was the first thing we did. I began by using a putty knife or a scraper to scrape off all the original paint flakes. Next, Ben took an electric sander, and using a 60 grit paper, sanded it down again. 

And after that he sanded it down with a 100 grit sandpaper. Since it was pretty smooth after the two rounds of sanding we left it like that, however there are some knicks that have left it looking gently used. We decided we liked the way it was going to look once painted, and that really no one would notice the knicks after we finished the interior space of the mantel, the part that would create the cushioned headboard. So... we put two coats of primer on the mantel and finished it off with one coat of a Interior Latex Semi-Gloss in ultra white. 

The next step was to cut a piece of plywood (which I bought at Lowe's Home Improvement for about $10) to fit the size of the middle space of the mantel. Just to be sure I had enough space to staple the plywood to the mantel I measured it with a 2 inch overlap on each side. Then I covered the plywood with one bag of Poly-Fil 100% premium Polyester Fiberfill. Now, I had never done anything like this before, and this was the first time I had ever even been in Hancock Fabrics, so I took a wild guess on how much I was going to need and ended up purchasing the bag labeled "Full Size." 

Slowly massaging through the fiberfill, I smoothed it out the best I could on the plywood so that it was evenly distributed. Then I added a layer of batting on top of the fiberfill for extra cushion, which I stapled to the bottom of the plywood using a heavy duty staple gun.

On an important note, be sure that your staples are not too long that they penetrate the other side of your board. They are slightly difficult to get out and you run the risk of poking yourself on their sharp edges. 

The next step was to cover the "fluff" with the fabric that I had chosen, and staple that to the back of the plywood as well. When this was complete and the mantel was completely dry, it was then time to put the two together. We carefully moved the mantel to our saw horses that we had been working on all day and flipped it over so that the decorative side was face down. Then we did the same thing with the plywood that had just been stuffed and covered. 

Using a brad nailer, Ben carefully nailed the plywood to the back of the mantel. Here again you want to make sure that your nails aren't too long. It is also crucial that you are lined up correctly because you don't want to damage the fabric by missing the mantel you are supposed to be nailing into. 

When that was all complete the real work began. We had decided that we wanted our headboard to have the feel of elegance, but on a budget. So I found some decorative nail heads where I purchased my fabric. I chose the bronze-y/gold-ish colored nail heads that come in a strip. Below you can see Ben installing them.

Basically they come all connected in a strip with a hole in every 5 nail heads. The package I purchased also comes with individual nail head buttons that are used to secure the strip to whatever material you are working with. These are where you put your individual nail heads. Since the strip comes rolled up it was slightly difficult for us to be sure it was straight. If you are looking to complete this project, I would suggest cutting your strips the length you need, then leaving them to sit overnight in a straight line (perhaps with something heavy on top), to help straighten them out. 

We chose to outline our mantel's interior with a square, which we thought would be the most simple design. All in all it wasn't too terrible. It was certainly time consuming and we'll probably go back to change it a little bit since the square isn't completely square. 

But alas, the project is complete! Here is the finished product: 

 So we started and finished the mantel turned headboard in one day!  And while I know that my house still needs a lot of work and that it won't get done all at once (after all, Rome wasn't built in a day), it does feel good to complete a project!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Welcome to my [re]claimed home!

Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog! I'll admit that I'm new to the blogging world as an owner, but avidly follow favorite blogs such as Crafty Scrappy Happy and Young House Love. In fact, I find solace in losing 5 minutes 2 hours to repurposing blogs written by others. Since I work for a Habitat ReStore I am constantly surrounded by pieces that could use a little TLC, or would be perfect for DIY projects.

 It is my goal with "My [re]claimed Home!" to share some of the favorite DIY projects, organizational tips and home improvement repairs from the Habitat ReStores' staff and volunteers. It is also my goal to learn tips and design ideas for easily upcycled pieces. So please... if you've got suggestions or have found an easier way of doing things, let me know in a comment. I'd love to pass it along to some customers who have also caught the  DIY/upcycle/repurpose bug. 

As I mentioned before, the body of this blog will primarily be made up of Do-It-Yourself projects, organizational tips, and home improvement repairs generated from inspiration in the Habitat ReStores. If you don't know what a Habitat ReStore is then you should pull out your smart phone and immediately run to the nearest one! (ReStores all over the world accept donations from individuals and businesses of gently used/new items that are resold at a fraction of their retail value. The funds raised at each ReStore goes toward serving additional families through home repair, new home construction, or neighborhood revitalization programs. Seriously, every donation makes a difference!) Plus, it's a great way to find cool items at low costs, like this full sized wooden sleigh bed:

or this wedding dress!

Each Habitat ReStore has a different list of things that they accept and don't accept, but most include hardware, building materials such as doors, windows, lumber, etc., housewares, light fixtures, linens, antiques, and more.

The point is- there is always something for EVERYONE at the Habitat ReStores. A lot of people just don't know it yet. It is my hope that this blog will inspire people to check their local Habitat ReStores before buying new, because most likely you'll find just what you're looking for. And you help a great cause.