Do It Yourself Decor

"We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there too." – Kristin Martz

Category: DIY

Tarva Nightstand IKEA Hack

I recently moved into a new apartment. Naturally, this provided me with a lot of opportunity to create and decorate. For the first time in my life, our bedroom is big enough to allow for matching bedside tables. I’ve been climbing over my boyfriend to get out of bed for years so this is a luxury for us. I did not want to break the bank on furnishing the new place, so I did my best to find cheaper options. I have seen tons of IKEA hacks on Pinterest, but I hadn’t come across one quite like what I had in mind. So here it is, my very own IKEA hack for the Tarva nightstand.

I started with 2 Tarva Nightstands, which are solid pine and pretty simple. The best part, they were about $40 each. I liked these nightstands because they are solid wood and basically a blank slate.

I purchased the following items for the project:
1. Rustoleum Dark Walnut Stain
2. Rustoleum Polyurethane (Satin)
3. Americana Decor Chalk Paint
4. Americana Decor Creme Wax
5. Chip Brushes

All of the products are water-based, which makes for extremely easy clean-up.

I had a vision of what I wanted in my head. I wanted the nightstands to have a dark stained top and a lighter beige/gray base.




I assembled the IKEA tables, but left off the legs and the top. I first stained the top. I recommend ditched the brush while staining. I use a paper towel and I rub the stain on in a thin, even coat. This gives me a lot more control. I only used one coat on the table tops because I loved the way they looked and that the wood grain was still very prominent. I used 3 coats of polyurethane to help protect the table top as there would be glasses and other items on them.

I painted the legs first to get a feel for the chalk paint. I have never used this before, but everyone rages about it and I can see why. It was extremely easy to use and dried within 15 minutes. I did 2 coats on the legs and the base.

I let the paint sit overnight just to be safe. The chalk paint dries a very flat color. Next I rubbed the wax into the wood and wiped off all of the access. I did 2 coats of this as well to help protect the wood. I let this dry overnight and the buffed it to a shine. This was also a first for me and I was surprised to see how nice the wax looks and feels after being buffed. The leg on the left has been buffed and the leg on the right has not.

Once I had buffed the bases, it was time to work on the drawers. I wanted to add a frame to the front to give the piece more character and depth. I used craft wood. My dad helped me to cut the corners at 45 degree angles. I glued these pieces on using liquid nails and clamped them in place overnight.

I painted and waxed the front of the drawers to match the base. Lastly, I added some rustic knobs that I picked up from Hobby Lobby in place of the boring wooden ones provided.
We are all moved in and settled and the tables look great in our bedroom!



Custom Coffee Mugs

It has been quite some time since I have posted a new creation and I apologize. Sometimes life gets crazy and wonderful and you have to see where it takes you. Speaking of seeing where life takes you, a very close friend of mine who has been by my side for 6 years is moving away to begin a new chapter in her life. This change has inspired these custom coffee mugs.

I’ve seen this project various times online and on Pinterest, but I think what makes it so popular is the customization potential. You can create these mugs however you want, there are no rules or guidelines! As I mentioned, I made these for a friend who is moving away. Her first stop is Cleveland, Ohio and from there the map remains unknown…for now. It is very likely that their new home will be somewhere in Europe! This will help you understand what the mugs represent.

I purchased Great White Latte Mugs from Pottery Barn because I loved how tall they were. I also have a small obsession with Pottery Barn . You can use whatever mugs you want for this project.

This project has gained popularity online as “Sharpie Mugs”, but I did a little research. I found that not everyone has had good luck with this concept and many stated that the marker did not last and faded with use. I didn’t like how that sounded. I chose to use a marker designed for writing on glass, tile and glazed ceramics. You can find these DecoArt Paint Markers at Hobby Lobby for just $3.99. Combine that will Dollar Store or thrift shop mugs and you have a simple project for under $10.

Clean your coffee mugs with glass cleaner before you start drawing on them. My mugs were porcelain and Windex worked just fine. I was very nervous to start drawing at first because I wasn’t sure if my mistakes could be corrected. I found that if you do not wait too long, the marker can be wiped off with a little Windex. As time passes this gets much harder. I believe this aspect is also a huge benefit over the Sharpie marker concept as you may be stuck with any mistakes made with a permanent marker.

I chose to do one mug with the state outlines of New York and Ohio. The outlines were probably the most difficult part, but I was able to trace cut-outs that I made. I drew the state borders free hand and cut them out to use on the mugs, but it may be easier to print the shapes you want and use those. I taped the shape to the mug and carefully traced around the outside with my marker.


Next I drew a heart near the cities Buffalo and Cleveland.



The next mug was inspired by our friend JoJo and shows the connection and sense of humor these two have with each other. Layne immediately knew it was JoJo’s idea when she opened it! (Tip: if you’re going to write on the bottom of your mug, do not buy the tallest mugs you can find, it’s nearly impossible!)



The next one was inspired by the unknown and a love for coffee. I swear this girl sweats coffee. As she is unsure where life is going to take her in Europe, I decided to cover this mug with the word coffee in all different languages. This way, she will never be without wherever she goes.


We decided to have a little fun with the last mug because it is absolutely true.


Like I said, you can do whatever you want with these mugs and that is what makes them so fun and simple!

Once you have completed your drawings, let the mugs air dry overnight or for approximately 8 hours. Next, place them in a cold oven and set the temperature at 375 degrees. This will bring up the temperature of the mugs as the oven heats up. Leave them in for 40 minutes once the oven reaches 375. Lastly, let the mugs cool down with the oven door open. You want them to gradually come down from this temperature in order to avoid any cracking or damage depending on the mug material.

There you have it! Great customized mugs that are dishwasher safe!

Mounted Wall Photo

This photo was taken on my trip to Europe this past May with my best friend. On that particular day we were visiting San Gimignano in Tuscany. We had two or three hours to explore the small town until we had to be back to our bus. We decided we wanted to take the path along the outside of the city to get back instead. It was amazing, there were no tourists and wide open views of Tuscany. I think the quote fits the picture perfectly. Now for how to make it.

You will need the following items:

Craft wood
Rust-Oleum Wood Stain
Paint (whatever color you prefer)
Mod Podge
Wood Glue


I decided to glue my board together this way so that the base would be big enough, but not too heavy to hang using command strips. Our landlords aren’t too fond of us constantly putting new holes in the walls.

Once the glue dried it was ready to stain. I did a few coats so that it was nice and dark. While that dried, I painted a square piece of cardboard with tan paint. This would be the base for the picture.

Once the cardboard was dry, I arranged my photo how I wanted it. I actually purchased an app on my computer- I own a Mac- that would split up the picture however I wanted it and then save each individual piece. It was extremely easy and the app was only $3.99. I split my picture into 24, 4 x 6″ photos and printed them at Target. I chose to arrange them so that there were little gaps between each one to give it sort of a mosaic look. I used Mod Podge to mount the photos onto the cardboard and then I did two coats on top of the photos once they were in place. This kind of pulled everything together and gave it a nice finish.

To finish,I glued the cardboard square onto the frame and let it dry. Lastly, I used a gold metallic sharpie to write the quote on it. It turned out to be a nice mounted piece to occupy the empty wall in my room.


Mason Jar Vases

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I started this project because I wanted something to go on the wall over my headboard.  I also wanted to make something with a country feel.

I purchased craft wood from Lowe’s and glued it together using wood glue.

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Once the glue dried, I decided to stain the wood using Rust-Oleum Dark Walnut wood stain.  I’ve seen this used for a lot of different things and I love the way it turns out.  I did not end up using the brush pictured above, but instead I used a paper towel.  My friend recommended this and it gave me so much more control when applying the stain.  I would, however, recommend wearing gloves because I got quite a bit of stain on my fingers using this method and it is not fun to get off.

I ended up doing about 4 coats of stain before I got the color I wanted.

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Next I attached hose clamps to each board using two small screws.  These would hold each of the mason jars in place.

I chose to add some country touches to each of the jars.  I wrapped burlap and twine around each jar and added a metal key to the jar that would be in the middle. To finish, I picked out some flowers from Michael’s and hung the boards on the wall using command strips.

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Check out my previous post for instructions on how make these wine lanterns!

Wine Lanterns


I have been meaning to make these lanterns for a long time and I finally found the time. One of the best aspects of this project is that is requires empty bottles. So get your girlfriends together and polish off a few bottles of your favorite wine.

The next step is to remove the labels from the bottles. There seems to be a number of ways to do this. I decided to try the oven method. I preheated my oven to 350 degrees and placed the bottles in for about 10-15 minutes.


I was skeptical of this method but the labels peeled right off once I removed the bottles from the oven.


I had a little trouble with the labels on the back of the bottle, so I soaked those in hot water and scratched the remaining pieces off. I had a bit of glue residue on my bottles so I took a bit of vegetable oil and rubbed it on the bottles using a paper towel. Somehow, it seemed to remove any remaining residue.


Once you have the bottle or bottles you want to use, you’ll need the following items.



I am a big fan of Hobby Lobby and there just happens to be one around the corner from my apartment. I’m sure these items are also available at your typical craft store. You can choose the type of chain you want to use, but it is important to get a big enough key ring so that it will not pass through the neck of the bottle you have chosen. I used my pliers to separate the chain to the lengths that I wanted to use. This is basically guess-work depending on the bottle you have chosen.

After a few failed attempts at using string, acetone, and a flame to cut the bottle, I decided to give the tool pictured below a try. It is the best way I have found to make a clean-cut in the bottle with minimal sanding necessary. Hobby Lobby sells this item for about $25. I was able to find a 40% coupon on the Hobby Lobby website to get it for a cheaper price. The instructions enclosed are very detailed. The tool makes a thin score on the bottle where you’d like it to separate.



Once I scored the bottle using the tool, I then placed the bottle into a pot of boiling water for about 5 seconds swirling it in a circle motion. Next, immediately place the bottle into the ice water and repeat the motion. Repeat this process until the bottom of the bottle falls off. It sounds strange but that’s exactly what happens. You can sand the edge of the bottle if necessary, but I didn’t find that I needed to.




The next step is to make the spiral candle holder to hang within the bottle. I wanted to wrap my wire around a tapered object in order to create a basic shape. I actually used a bottle of nail polish because that’s what i had on hand and it worked pretty well.



I then made a small handle on the spiral by wrapping the wire around tightly.


I then placed the tea light in the spiral and hung it from the chains I assembled previously.


Lastly, I inserted the chain into the bottle and through the neck so that I could grasp the chain from the top and let the bottle hang below. There you have it, your very own wine lantern! My mom plans to hang them around the edge of her deck and I will try to upload a picture once they are in place!