DIY Wood Stain Wall Art

My Dad is the director of the senior center in my hometown, which is about 5 minutes outside out of Boston. So it totally makes sense that he has a southwestern themed office… right? Right! Anyway, I’m obviously always down for decorating anything so I told him I’d make some large scale art for him.

Enter: 3ft x 2ft wood stained and burned wall art:

wood stain large wall art diy

I bought 2 pine boards at Home Depot and had them cut in half (about $16 total). When I got home I used Gorilla Glue to initially attached the boards, and later screwed 2 1×2’s to the back for extra security (and added some D-rings for hanging).

After I let the glue dry I lightly sanded the boards and marked them up for stain:

frog tape outline on wall art

I used the chevron Frog Tape along the edges (in yellow) and 1 inch Frog Tape (in green) to mark the first round of stain. After the first round of staining, I pulled the tape off (while the stain was still wet) and let it dry for a day. Then I taped the next area I wanted taped off for round two.

There was a little bleeding here and there, but that was mostly my fault for loading on too much stain and actually I really like that it came out a little imperfect- looks more rustic that way. I used a lot of different colors and 3 types of stain (just 1 coat of each- painted it on with a foam brush then wiped it off with a rag):

minwax stain types

The color stain was awesome and goes on just as regular liquid wood stain does, the finishing cloths were great for really controlling exactly where the stain went (I used them in round 2 of staining), and the express color was sort of a gel consistency- probably my least favorite, but the most vibrant for sure.

After all the stain was dried, I used a wood burning pen to outline the center designs a bit more. This side by side shows the wood burning in the middle and how crisp the lines are between each color:

wood burn up closeOverall, this thing came out freaking awesome and I can’t wait to give it to my dad when I see him this weekend. For now, here’s how it looks staged in my office:

wood stain wall art large DIY

It’s baller. Also, it can be hung tall ways (as seen above) or long ways (with 2 screws and the D-rings already on back). I wish it matched the style of my house so I could make 900 more and plaster my walls with them. But for now, I guess I’ll just have my dad text me a picture of it in his space.

how to make wood stain art

What do you think? Are you loving the color? Or the wood burned detail? I personally love the green diamonds the most.

minwax frog tape wall art DIY

Minwax provided some of the stain for this project, but it was after I pitched this idea to them so all opinions and reviews are 100% mine. All day every day.


Half Bath Progress

When I last talked about the half bath, it was in rough shape, because the pipe snapped off when we were removing the old vanity. Well, after lots of you tube videos and cuss words, Matt was able to rebuild the pipes (all by himself!):

Matt built all the pipes, I cut the hole out of the side of the vanity

Matt built all the pipes, I cut the hole out of the side of the vanity (because- power tools! woo hoo!)

Installing this vanity was pretty straightforward because we wanted it as flush to the lefthand wall as possible (that’s where the pipe comes out from). We leveled it with wood shims, then drilled it into studs on the back wall. The sink is cemented on with caulk.  The towel is there because we’re just deathly afraid the pipes will drip- but so far so good.

Once this was done, I commenced operation wainscoting. Matt and one of his friends had put up half of it already, last Februarywe work at record speed over here people.

In addition to the wainscoting kit linked in above, I also used the following:


The bottom moulding went up with long nails, the wainscoting tucked into a ridge in the moulding and went up with liquid nails and regular nails, and the trim went up with regular nails. The punchers were used to bury the nails, then I spackled and sanded over each one (wood filler would have worked as well, but I had spackle already). The miter block cut my corner angles right, and the jigsaw helped trim down the wainscoting (particular on the back where the heater is and on the side where the built in shelves are). This is actually surprisingly easy– I put it off for a year because I was afraid of it, but honestly finishing off the room took just a weekend morning and I should have done it a long time ago.

Even though the kit came pre-primed, it got pretty banged up so I gave it one coat of primer and two coats of paint and here’s where we’re at today:

So fresh, so bright!

So fresh, so bright!

I'm not going to paint the frame or the door because it matches what's going on in the attached room, and it's in really good shape.

I’m not going to paint the frame or the door because it matches what’s going on in the attached room, and it’s in really good shape.

Now that the vanity is in, the mirror and lights are off center (and oh so dated), so they'll be the next thing to go.

Now that the vanity is in, the mirror and lights are off center (and oh so dated), so they’ll be the next thing to go.

I still need to caulk a few seems, replace the mirror and lights, touch up the walls, and then decorate. But it’s definitely coming along!

Questions on anything in this post? Leave it in the comments!


Stay in touch in between posts:


Painting Tile!

Today’s bathroom post is all about my absolute favorite part of the upgrade:

paint tile, how to paint tile

I have hated our bathroom tile for 2 years. It was a fiery hate. But I was so, so scared to paint it because I didn’t want to make things worse. The biggest factor in my decision to finally take the plunge: the shower is not tiled, only the walls outside of it. So none of the painted tile will ever get wet.

There are about a million tutorials to painting tile, but here’s what I did:

  • Spackled all the areas where the grout and/or tile was cracked (our grout was only about 1/8 inch thick, had it been thicker I probably would have opted to touch up with actual grout instead of spackle)
  • Sand the spackle and paint drips, no need to sand all the tile
  • Scrub clean with CLR, wipe with damp towel, dry with a dry tile
  • Use a small foam roller to roll on 2 coats of Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 primer (it notes on the container that it’s good for slick surfaces). Let each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next.

Tip: On the first coat, I cut in with a brush and then just rolled on the paint, like you would in any other room. For the second coat I loaded up my brush with paint and literally shoved the paint into the grout, then rolled it smooth. Work in small sections and take your time.

  • Use a small foam roller to roll on 2 coats of Sherwin Williams Super Paint + Primer. Follow the same process as above: let dry completely between coats, focus on shoving paint into the grout
I am not affiliated with any of these products, I just used them and they were awesome.

I am not affiliated with any of these products, I just used them and they were awesome.

The paint will all dry to the touch within an hour or two of being done, but you should really be very careful and go easy on it for about a week so it has time to fully harden.

The absolute most difficult part was getting coverage on the grout, I destroyed my brush doing this so don’t use a brush you ever want to use again.

I am debating whether to go over it with a coat of poly, because I’m so so nervous that it’ll chip. So far my verdict is to at least poly the toilet paper roller because it gets touched a lot, but to leave the rest of the wall unless it looks like it really needs it. What do you think?

painted tile

I’m also debating whether or not to paint that wood trim white. The first level of our house has all white trim and the second level has all wood toned, so it could go either way.

I’m extremely glad I decided to go for it and paint. The flaws in the tile are gone, the weird places where they tiled brown tiles on top of  beige tiles (??!!) blend a bit more now that it’s all one color, and it is endlessly brighter in there.

painted bathroom tile how to



How to Upcycle an Old Frame

I’ve got a real quick and easy DIY for you today- making an old frame new again with just a little paint.

To get right down to it- frames are expensive. Super expensive. So what you should do is keep an eye out at thrift stores for decent frames and get those instead- and don’t just look through the regular old empty frames, look for the ones with the terriblely dated art too. Look beyond that old art and right into a sweet, sweet $3 solid wood frame that there’s no way you could buy anywhere else for that price.

old frame, wooden frame, diy frame


I picked up this bad boy about 4 months ago for $3 at the Habitat Restore and have been hoarding it ever since. The art was old and faded and the wood had seen better days, but I knew with just a little spray paint it could be awesome again.

during Collage


First, I removed all the staples that were holding the art in, then I also removed the hanging wire because I want to display it vertically and not horizontally. I spray primed the whole thing then gave it 3 coats of white paint. After the white was dry I then painted the inside of the frame teal with a leftover test pot I had laying around- I thought it gave it a little extra kick because the pure white was looking a bit stark. Once it was dry I flipped it over and used a staple gun to reattach the hanging wire.

upcycled frame


I got out some leftover black poster board from my Halloween window display and made a mat (matte?), then hung it up right outside our bedroom door with a picture from our wedding.

Our wedding colors were teal and black, so the inside of the frame and the mat are a little homage to that.

If I’m being honest, it’s actually still a little too country looking for my taste, but it’s not in a prominent place in the house so I think I’ll live with it a bit and see if it grows on me.

how to upcycle an old frame


What do you think? Are you ready to run out and scoop up so many cheap frames for your own art? If you are… call me. I’d totally love to come.




PS- If you entered our giveaway under the name Thecape Onthecorner then check your email. Because YOU are winner winner chicken dinner. Congrats!!

3 Things I Wish I Knew…

3 things I wish I knew my first month of homeownership

Matt & I have officially been in our little green house for 2 whole years now- wow!  When I was researching and touring homes I read so much about how to buy a house, what all the words mean, what to look for, that I did zero research on decorating. I had never read a DIY blog before (gasp!). So besides all the business ends of things, I thought I’d write about the decor end of things I wish I had known about.. maybe it’ll help one of you instead…

1. White plastic drawstring blinds are not the only types of blinds out there. How did I  have no idea about this? When we moved into our house one of the first things my mom did was take me to Home Depot to buy blinds for every window (for safety and privacy). We bought a crapton of standard, white blinds for maybe around $100. Then MONTHS LATER I discovered there are, at minimum, one zillion better options. I’m not going to go back and replace all of them, but if I did… swoon…



2. I had lived in 3 apartments prior to moving into the house, and when we moved I was so overjoyed with not having white or beige walls anymore that I painted every room a different color. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT A COLOR PALETTE WAS. My friends, I encourage you to think of your house as a whole and not a bunch of individual rooms. Stand in each room and note what other rooms you can view from it, because they all must work together.  And you know what?  These days I am  loving all white walls, a la Dans Le Townhouse. Darn it! If I had only known how to make it work…

white walls


3. It’s your house and you can decorate it however the heck you want. I like art that’s a little different and I like things BIG. I don’t really like a lot of color. You are free to be as weird as you like in your own home. So now I have a mercury glass skull in my living room, and I’m thinking about adding a very large piece of dinosaur art to my entrance way. Suck it, world. If I don’t want what’s on trend I don’t have to have it. HOW LIBERATING!

summer fun 198


….what do you wish someone had told you about??



Painting Metal

I don’t know why, but I can’t just focus on one room of the house then finish it and move to the next. I’m working on every single room of this house simultaneously, but I just keep getting ideas here and there and it’s easier to jump around then try to contain them all.

Today’s project is my favorite kind: f-r-double e FREE. I updated the bathroom mirror using materials I had already purchased for another project and it looks much much better.

I’ve been working on this bathroom steadily for a few months now. First, I repainted it to change it from dark dank brown to light airy cream, then I bought a new accessories and but frosted contact paper on the windows to further brighten it up. Now I’ve done just about all I can do until we figure out if we’re going to get rid of the tile.

This mirror was hanging when we bought the house…sort of. The previous owner actually tried to take it and I had to call the real estate agent to get it back. It was a weird situation. But either way, it fits perfectly in the space and buying a new mirror that size would cost too much money so luckily I’m a fan of working with what you’ve got!

The mirror isn’t awful, but in the interest of brightening up the room and getting as many things to match as possible I wanted it to be white- maybe with a cool stencil or pattern on it.

From a distance it looks fine, but up close you can see it’s got a lot of discoloring and dings and scratches. No good.

I took the mirror outside and placed it on a tarp because spray paint can make a big old mess. First I put painters tape all around the border, on the mirror, and then I put cut up paper bags on top of it to help prevent overspray from getting on the mirror. Now that I’ve done this, I suggest you use plastic and not paper. You’ll see why in a minute…

I used Kilz spray primer because regular paint would not adhere to the metal, but the spraypaint I had on hand was good for both wood and metal. Shake the spray paint bottle for a good couple of minutes then use thin, thin, thin even coats. I probably went around the frame three times, one right after another, lightly misting it over each time. This prevents it from getting a thick sandpapery texture and drips around the edge.

Immediately take off all the paint and paper/plastic guard because spray paint dries quickly. You can see it also managed to seep through the paper and get on the mirror. Ugh.

If spray paint does get on your mirror, just take a razor and lightly scrape it off. It won’t do any damage if you hold it at an angle. (Look mom, I did my nails again!)

This is the part where I had to make a decision: leave the mirror completely white or stencil a design on it. I really wanted just a little stencil on each corner to make it pop, but I tested out my stencil on a piece of paper first and it turns out I suck at stenciling, so that was not an option. Then I created this really super awful mock up of what it would look like if I just taped a random pattern on the mirror and painted in the empty spots:

I used a white Yankee Candle bag inside out and that blue is actually the new color of the half bath, which I have yet to show you. I wanted to make the stencil or pattern in the same color as the half bath so the two rooms would match, and they would also match the movie room (when it’s repainted) and the office.

I actually really like the idea of this, it’s quirky and different without being too much (in my opinion). However, the bathroom has a lot going on already so after talking it out with Matt we decided that I’d just paint a coat of glossy white paint over the primer and we’d live with it for a few days before we decide if we want to add a pattern to it.

Here she is up and about! What do you think? A big improvement? Does she need an abstract paint job?

I think it really helps the room to have as much as possible painted a light color, the cream walls, the lack of a curtain, and all the white make it look so much better.

And just for reference, here’s the other side of the bathroom:

So what would you do- leave it clean and simple? Deck it out with some blue paint? I honestly can’t decide, but I am so glad it’s not silver anymore.

Dear Wallpaper, I hate you

Update: This is one of my first blog posts, yet somehow one of the most popular ones. Please excuse my poor small photos. 🙂


how to remove wallpaper - a step by step tutorial

Things are really moving along quickly at the house these days! Tuesday after work the walls were prepped for dewallpapering:

  • Take down all the outlet and light switch covers and store them (and the screws) in a plastic baggy
  • Wallpaper essentially has 2 layers: the design layer (that you see) and the adhesive layer (that sticks it to the wall). Peel as much of the designed paper lay off as you can. There were two types of wallpaper on our walls, a patterned section and a checkered section. The patterned paper stripped down pretty easily, but the checkered part (death paper, as I call it) did not. It’s most likely that only the top layer of paper will come off when you’re peeling it, not all of it.
  • The more of the paper you can get off , the easier it is to get down the adhesive so don’t skip this step!

The next day we brought in our supplies:

  • DIF!
  • A paper tiger and a wall scraper
  • Some nice hot tea and a snack

Some people recommended using white vinegar instead of DIF, but the smell of it would have driven me crazy and DIF was basically odorless. Total cost of supplies was about $50, which made me cringe a bit, but I’m hoping when we see it all nicely painted I’ll feel better about it. DIF just mixes in a bucket with hot water and you’re ready to go, it’s pretty idiot proof which is great because I’ve never done anything even remotely close to this before.

First step, the paper tiger! Rawr! This little buddy tore tiny holes into the adhesive so that the DIF could get underneath it and work it’s magic. It worked really well but man oh man the sound it made could drive you crazy. All you do is go over the walls in a circular motion making as many holes as you can- the more the better. You don’t need to dig it in, because you don’t want to damage the wall underneath, so it’s not too awful. I’m not sure how well this picture shows it, but that’s the best shot I could get.

Once the whole area was scored we got to work with the DIF solution and the scraper. Be prepared to have it drip all up your arm, in your armpit, on your hair, all over your clothes… It’s a big giant sloppy mess but it works and it all sweeps up later. Luckily we only had one layer of wallpaper to get down. The drywall scrapes off too if you’re not careful, and we’re most likely going to have to spackle and sand before we can repaint those spots.

Strip by strip we sponged on the DIF and scraped off the paper– 5 hours each room, 10 hours total. We only took snack breaks because we knew if we didn’t get it all done we’d have to do it today and we never, ever, ever want to go through this process again.

But alas- TA DA! CYA WALLPAPER! After hours and hours and hours the sunroom and kitchen are completely dewallpapered.  Go into it knowing it’ll be messy and wet, and that it’ll take a very long time, and just get through it!

Here’s how the room is looking these days (links to all the how to’s are here):