Sewing, Refashioning, Repurposing & Thrifting Through Life

Framing a Builder’s Grade Mirror

A very easy way to transform a Builder’s Grade vanity mirror is to add a frame of your own to it.

The mirror in the kids’ bathroom needed a little something to go with the restained cabinets and fresh paint.

All we did was purchase some pine moulding that we stained the same colour as the cabinets.

Our mirror is held to the wall by 4 clips on the outside. I forgot to take a before picture. Mr. Restyle wanted to add the frame to the outside of the mirror but the existing light fixture was in the way. Rather than rewire, move the fixture up and fill holes in the wall, he notched out the back of the frame so that the existing mirror clips would be covered smoothly and then he used a heavy duty glue to fix the frame to the mirror.


One thing to keep in mind if you do this is that once the frame is on top of the mirror you will see the back of the frame in the reflection. Don’t forget to stain or paint the back of the frame too!



Pretty Little Thrifted Storage Box

I’m making a commitment to try and post more. Hopefully I can stick with it! Just a quick post on a few little thrifted items I picked up recently.

This storage box. It was originally a dark red wood. All I did was apply a couple of coats of chalk paint and clear wax.


The box sits on a dresser in our front hallway. The top is meant for a portrait of some sort. I don’t know what I’ll put in there just yet so I printed off this little quote for now.


It’s great for keys, workplace security passes and just odds and ends. Out of sight! Literally.



DIY Wooden Sign Window Valance

I was looking for a way to hide the top of my roller blinds on my kitchen window. I have seen hand painted wooden signs all over the place lately and I LOVE them. I knew this would be the perfect solution.

I don’t have any curtains on the window and I don’t plan on installing any. Here’s what I did with a piece of wood from a pallet.

After giving it a light sanding and painting a coat of chalk paint, I took some sand paper and lightly distressed it.


I wanted to use a couple of different fonts. I work in Word but didn’t like any of the standard fonts. You can download any kind of font from the internet (for free). It’s amazing what you can find with a little help from Google. All you have to do is download the font and it will appear in your fonts list in Word. Like this:


You’ll have to choose the size for your font and here’s how you do that. Most fonts that you use for standard typing are around 10-12 point. You’ll need something WAY bigger than that.

My pallet was 5″ wide, so I chose to print my words out so that they would be 3″ tall. In order to do that, you’ll have to figure out which font size equals 3 inches. 1 inch is equal to 72 point, so for my 3″ tall words, I used 216 point. Now I don’t think it’s an exact science because all fonts are slightly different. For example 12 point Arial may look different than 12 point Calibri.In the picture below, each of these fonts are 12 point but you can see that one looks a lot bigger than the other. I’m not on expert on these things though so if anyone knows how this really works or what the science is behind it, please share.

compare size

You’ll want to print your words out. Black and white is fine. I used landscape orientation as some of the words I chose were longer than others. If it doesn’t all fit on one line, don’t worry. Just print them out and you can always and cut and position in place.

What you choose for your sign it totally up to you. I wanted a biblical verse that would remind me to be grateful every day but it can be anything you like!

Mine is “In everything give thanks.” which is from 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

After you’ve got the words printed out, lay them out on your board and play around a bit until you find the placement that looks best.


Next, you’ll need to transfer the letters onto your wooden sign. I searched and found several different methods for doing this. Some covered the entire back of the paper in either chalk, charcoal or pencil before tracing the letters. Others even printed the words out backwards-there are so many methods you’ll find if you’re researching this. However, the best method that I could come up with was to use carbon paper. Since I didn’t have any of that, I figured I’d use something I DID have-pattern tracing paper! Of course!

Just slip the tracing paper underneath the word to trace. It helps to secure the print outs with tape where you can. Using a sharp pencil or pen, trace the outline of the letters. You don’t have to press super hard. Just make sure to peek underneath to see if everything is transferring.


Looking pretty good so far.


Everything’s traced and ready for paint. I used a fine artist brush-just something I had lying around and some leftover paint that we used for my son’s room and carefully painted the letters in. I am not the steadiest or most patient person for doing this but I got through it.

After I was done and everything was dry, I gave it a quick coat of clear wax and Mr. Restyle added brackets to the back for hanging.

I then noticed that the word “THANKS” was crooked! Argh! And maybe my words were a little too spaced apart from each other. Oh well. I debated redoing it and then I thought, what the heck. It’s not supposed to look perfect. It’s a handpainted sign!

Here it is all hung up. He hasn’t put the blinds back up yet and the pictures were taken at night but I really like it. I plan to do another one for the family room. It’s a much bigger window and will require about 3 or 4 pallet boards.




1 Comment »

I Have a Problem with IKEA

I started my thrifting/refinishing journey 3 years ago and I have learned so much about fast fashion and unethical clothing production. I like to think that now that I am so much more informed, I am making conscious efforts to shop wisely and ethically. I certainly feel that my love of all things vintage, retro and antique, along with my efforts in transforming and refinishing once-loved pieces are, in some small way, inspiring others to reuse and restyle instead of dumping things in the trash. I firmly believe in buying a good quality piece, even if it means second-hand, old, or waiting to save up for it if it’s not affordable right away.

I almost never shop at Walmart or any of its competitors for the same reasons that I don’t buy fast fashion. This got me thinking about places like IKEA. The Swedish furniture and home accessory manufacturer famous for its affordable (aka cheap) products, are very appealing to those on a budget, especially to those just starting out on their own and looking for a way to decorate and outfit a new house or apartment without breaking the bank.

I understand the appeal. The stores are bright, well-organized and staged in a way that any 20-something can picture the popular Klippan sofa as a modern, sleek place to sit and relax. I don’t know if you ever noticed, but stuff at IKEA is a lot smaller than any old pieces. This can certainly be a factor in the decision making process because they seem to be building smaller houses and condos these days. Naturally, smaller houses mean smaller principal rooms and I know that vintage and antique pieces can be quite large.



Or how about the MALM bed? Young sophistication, right?



So I decided to do a little research, because, I admit, I have bought a few things from IKEA myself. The odd storage bin and what not, but I’ve never bought anything as big as a bed, a sofa, a night stand or even the BILLY bookcase.

I wanted to learn more about their carbon footprint, in particular. I’m sure we’ve all heard the expression: IKEA is Swedish for crap (or was it Mr. Restyle that came up with that line? In any case he’s always saying it when someone mentions IKEA). What exactly is their stuff made of? What are their work ethics? What is so appealing about a dresser or a bed that I have to transport home and put together myself following a diagram and using a bunch of little tools that IKEA provides me with? What makes someone choose the MALM over a vintage, retro or antique piece?

Interestingly, I only had to type in a few keywords to find out the following:

IKEA is the 3rd largest consumer of wood, behind The Home Depot and Lowe’s.

This actually surprised me a little because I can think of so many manufacturers and businesses where I would expect to see a huge consumption of wood. From my research, I have learned that the wood comes mostly from eastern Europe and the far east of Russia where, according to Ellen Ruppel Shell, author of Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture “wages are low, large wooded regions remote, and according to the World Bank, half of all logging is illegal.” IKEA president and CEO Anders Dahlvig asserts that the timber his company uses is harvested legally, and the company does employ forestry experts to monitor the company’s suppliers. But Shell points out that IKEA has only 11 forestry monitors, not nearly enough to keep a watchful eye on all those suppliers worldwide, and five of those specialists are devoted to China and Russia, a vast spread of territory by itself.



OK, but what kind of wood? You’re not going to find walnut or cherry there! Most of IKEA’s furniture is made from wood composite, aka pressed wood, fibreboard, particle board. That’s right-particle board, so it’s fair to say IKEA stuff is modern looking but not long lasting and in a world where people swap things out every few years anyway, who cares right? Yikes! I have huge problems with this. What happened to us? We used to cherish a piece that was in the family, passed down from generation to generation. The sad truth is that the young generation doesn’t want any of our stuff! Whatever happened to pride of craftsmanship?

IKEA operates 373 stores in 47 countries. their website contains 12,000 products and in 2010, $23.1 billion worth of goods were sold. IKEA was founded in Sweden so all of their furniture is made in Sweden right?

Wrong. Everything is designed in Sweden but IKEA mostly manufactures in developing countries to keep costs down. China accounts for about 2½ times as much supply as Sweden.

IKEA produces affordable, stylish furniture and accessories. They even name all of their pieces, so they must really care.

Take a look at this lamp commercial. Seems to me that IKEA’s message here is just throw the old thing away and buy a new one at their store:

IKEA Lamp Commercial

And this next one, I really have no words for. It really ticked me off:

IKEA Poor Taste Commercial

People cannot possibly be conditioned to think green or to  consider buying second-hand or antique. They must have what everyone else has. Everyone must look the same and companies like IKEA don’t have a responsibility to their consumers.

I think a company’s values, ethics and message actually make a huge impact, especially on young people. If IKEA’s message weren’t that we should just throw old things away and go shop in their store, then maybe people would think twice about buying cheap, poorly made stuff that they will toss in a couple of years.

Young people can learn to appreciate good quality, timeless pieces. They can be taught to fix that which is broken and the best of all? They can put together a place of their own that will not be found anywhere else.

Think back a few years before all of these fabulous paint products were readily available. Nobody was painting furniture or distressing it. Now it’s all the rage. It’s unique. It’s sturdy. It’s old and will last another hundred years and yes, it can fit into a modern home. All it takes is a bit of creativity and a some work.



I’ve only touched on a few points in this post but the topic really resonated with me. I am sure there is more to discuss on this topic. Would love to hear your thoughts.

1 Comment »

%d bloggers like this: