Category Archives: Guest Blog

Vertical Garden Makeover + DIY Herb Markers with I SPY DIY

By: Minwax

Spot style you love, and do-it-yourself. That’s the mantra of blogger Jenni Radosevich of I SPY DIY. Once again, she’s partnered with Minwax® on a project sure to delight gardeners and DIY enthusiasts alike. Follow along as she takes you through the steps to makeover this lovely, vertical herb garden and create fun, stylish herb markers to keep track of them all.

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First up, thank you SO MUCH for all the love on my backyard makeover, we have been enjoying it every single day this Summer! I received a bunch of questions on the herb garden hanging on the wall,  which has been one of favorite parts of the outdoor space. It’s been so fun to walk out my back door and grab the greens I need for guacamole or pasta sauce.

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This vertical garden started off cedar, which did not match the grey deck and white washed fence, so I used Mixwax® Water Based Wood Stain and had the lovely people at the paint counters at Lowe’s tint it “Natural Linen.” It’s the perfect muted peach/pink that went perfectly with the color palette. Plus, the garden is pretty big, so the lighter color kept it from looking too overwhelming on the fence.

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Next up, creating makers for the herbs: Instead of using their names, my family and I decided to have a little fun and brainstorm what we use each for and mark them that way, Spicy! = Jalapeños!

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This whole backyard project has been so wonderful because my Sister and her husband moved in for the Summer and have helped me every step of the way. Now we get to sit back and enjoy it every day. The herb garden has been extra special, because my little Sister is a fantastic cook, and she had been teaching me her ways so I will keep up cooking after they move to Europe. It’s been so fun brainstorming recipes to use our fresh herbs in meals…and cocktails!  #sisterbondingFTW

All the steps and supplies for the Herb garden and markers after the break!

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Start with this Unfinished Red Cedar Vertical Garden (Buy it here!) and apply Minwax® Water Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner.

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Stain with two coats of Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain in Natural Linen. Then finish with Minwax® Water Based Helmsman® Spar Urethane to protect the wood from the elements and make sure that your vertical garden stays beautiful!

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After it dried, I secure the backboards by drilling deck screws through the back into the frame, then I hung the garden by screwing the backboards into one of the supports on the fence. Make sure you are screwing into something that can support the weight of all the dirt.

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Now plant the herbs! I poured potting soil into the open top, and then dug out space on each level for the herbs. Then watered once everything was planted.

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To make the markers, I bought inexpensive 8″ cedar shims and dipped them into Minwax® Water-Based Wood Stain  in “Woodrose” and “Driftwood” (Prettiest colors ever!) which are made from the White Tint Base.

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I wiped off any excess stain with a paper towel, and once they were dry I added letter stickers. Add the herb name or what you use each for!

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Add your markers to the herb garden!

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Thanks to my amazing sponsor, Minwax®, for partnering with me on this project!

From now through September 30th, take advantage of the Minwax® Fall Home Celebration rebate and save up to $15 on select Minwax® products that make and keep your floors beautiful. These specially formulated products enhance the natural beauty of your floors and can help protect them so they look great for years to come.

Be sure to check out Minwax’s new “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces – sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.

For more of Jenni’s DIY projects. Check out her blog I SPY DIY and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Made with Love: Rejuvenating My Kids’ Wood Wagon with My Fix It Up Life

Guest Bloggers Mark and Theresa of MyFixItUpLife are back with a fun project sure to pull on your heart strings. Follow along as the couples embrace the spirit of “Find. Finish. Love.” to revive an old wood wagon as a heart-felt gift for their kids. 

This wagon may not be the greatest woodworking project you’ll ever behold, but it’s made with love for my kids. Thing is, we never used it.MyFixitUpLife_Wagon_Made-With-LOve_Minwax1630-1-800x600

As with many intentions in life, we got busy. And it got stuffed in a forgotten corner; piled on with more forgotten stuff. Forgotten.

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But this wagon has a story. It’s dear to us. It’s wrapped up in how Theresa and I met and our first project together. Time to take life by the handle again and to start making new memories.

The wagon is made with wood that carpenters use to build shelter—spruce and fir mostly. You can get it anywhere and it’s usually a little, let’s say, lived in. It has all the dings and scrapes you’d expect a workmanlike hunk of wood to have.

What I enjoy about working with these kinds of woods is that their beauty is brought out by what you put into working and shaping and loving them.

And, this wagon looks slightly like a monster truck because I made it originally for Jack’s older sister when I lived closer to the beach. Its first lot in life was to be a beach wagon.

But we got busy.

And life happened.

Time to make some changes. Hello past, here comes tomorrow.

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Made with love, to us, sometimes means going back to the beginning. The spruce boards I made the original out of needed some serious sanding. Not a ton of fun, but we used three grits of paper (60, 100, 150) t0 bring the spruce boards back to vibrance. Also, sanding opens the grain of the wood, ideal for stain penetration.

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Before applying our coatings, we took extra care to get the dust off the wood. Compressed air is great for this. If you don’t have a compressor, using an old paint brush is great too. Follow up with some spray detergent and a damp rag (like you’d clean your kitchen counter).

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The neglected spruce deck boards on the wagon gulped in the Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, which we like to use as a base coat so the stain soaks in as evenly as possible.

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Since the wagon’s rails were coming apart, I re-made them from a Douglas fir 4×4, carpenter-grade. It has the tightest, straightest grain of the construction wood available at the home center.

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I love this gray, Minwax® Wood Finish™ in “Classic Gray. When staining individual parts like this it pays to have a plan, because you have to stain all six sides at once. For these parts, we stained the front, the edges, then stood them up on the thin side and covered the remaining surfaces. It’s not perfect, but it works. Always check for streaks and runs (inevitable because: Gravity). Just strike them off with the brush.

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Since gravity  is always on, I use it to my advantage. Before using a stain—and this may not be in the Minwax® rule book—I tip cans upside for a few minutes before using them. To my mind, this lets the stain move uniformly through the can without me stirring it with a stick for longer than necessary. I still stir it with a stick. No shaking.

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Small parts can be frustrating to sand. When possible I use an inexpensive—and versatile; you can use a stationary sander for all kinds of stuff—bench-top sander.

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Applying this dark stain (it’s Minwax® Wood Finish™ in “Ebony”) was like applying a liquid mirror. And while we could have gone with the more sort of obvious colors of childhood here, we wanted a look that was a little more furniture than toy.

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Using this stain required me to slow down and go to a quiet place. There’s a balance between how quickly you can apply it and how quickly the wood drinks it in off the brush’s ferrules (bristles). There’s something just a little perfect about the balance.

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The last coat is one of my favorite things for outdoor protection. Even though this wagon will spend most of its life indoors, it’ll see beach sand or rain or who knows what from time to time, so I locked in the color and locked out the weather with Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane.

Bring it Mother Nature.

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It pays to have a plan. Since I wanted to brush the urethane on the sides, I needed a place for them to dry where they’d barely contact anything so I made a little hanger. Is this perfect? No. But neither is life.

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Love is said to be perfect though. And that—we hope—is what both kids feel when they see, use and roll around with this project from my heart.

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From now through September 30th, take advantage of our Fall Home Celebration rebate and save up to $15 on select Minwax® products that make and keep your floors beautiful. These specially formulated products enhance the natural beauty of your floors and can help protect them so they look great for years to come.

Be sure to check out Minwax’s new “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces – sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.

MyFixitUpLife shares design inspiration, DIY tips, and behind-the-scenes interviews MyFixitUpLife’s husband-and-wife duo, Mark & Theresa, design, renovate, and share how-to tips to make your projects easier and more fun.

Driftwood Sculptures with City Farmhouse

Guest Blogger Jen of City Farmhouse is back with a fun DIY project that allows you hold on to your summer memories in a unique and beautiful way. Follow along as she demonstrates how to create these stylish driftwood sculptures. 

I am so excited to share this fun, easy & super stylish summer project with you today! Our collection of driftwood has grown each year, as “hunting for treasure” is a favorite summer pastime. No matter how old my boys get they still like the adventure, you honestly never know what you will find washed up ashore. We have found some pretty awesome pieces lately and it got me thinking, what else could we make with them? I love dimensional & sculptural objects, they add a flavor to open shelving & vignettes that no other accessory can. As I began to see some of the driftwood we found together as art, we all agreed these would make beautiful wood sculptures. Plus it’s a great way to hold onto those summer memories for all to appreciate for years to come.

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This project is part of the Minwax® Made With Love campaign that encompasses the concept of something found, finished and loved. I thought this was the perfect project since it’s found pieces from special moments shared together and created with such care, thought & LOVE:).

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We usually go for walks along the ocean once a week, we bring a few bags and collect what we like and feels unique to us. The trick is to sort through so we don’t bring the whole beach home with us. Sometimes we will sit with all the pieces if we have too many and give a reason why we should keep it, you can’t imagine how much 2 boys can collect in 30 minutes, lol. This piece below we knew was a keeper from the moment we found it, you can see the reveal in my bookshelves, it’s something special!

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They use long sticks to sift through the debris.

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Some beach gems….

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If you would like to make some of your own driftwood sculptures this is what you need….

  • Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish
  • drop cloth
  • latex gloves
  • mask (if indoors)
  • saw box
  • sander with medium grit sand paper
  • wood glue
  • poplar dowels (I used 1/4″ & 3/8″)
  • poplar craft wood (I used 1.5″ x 3/4″ &  2.5″ x 1.5″)
  • wired brush
  • foam brush
  • flower clippers (to cut the dowels)
  • wood glue
  • drill & bits (1/4″ & 3/8″)
  • measuring tape
  • pencil
  • stamps or marker (optional)

STEP 1-Cut your bases. I mixed these up cutting both square and rectangular pieces from both lengths of poplar with my saw box. Be sure your wood is secure before you cut to prevent any injuries.

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STEP 2 – Sand your bases. You can use sandpaper, a sanding block or an electric sander to smooth the rough edges.

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STEP 3 – Clean your wood. Take a wired brush or any large brush and work into the wood removing any particles, sand or debris.

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Step 4 – Cut your dowels. I waited until I had each piece in front of me to determine the length I wanted each vertical piece to be. Be sure to leave a little extra to fit into the base and your driftwood. You can use a flower clipper to cut these dowels or the saw, just be sure it is secured first.

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Step 5 – Drill into your driftwood and base. Take your drill & bit matching the diameter of your dowels and drill into both pieces. Measure for the middle of the driftwood piece and the base & mark with a pencil.

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Step 6 – Glue dowels into both ends. Put a little wood glue on each end and secure it into your piece at the base and bottom of your piece.

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Step 7 – Protect your piece. Be sure your wood is completely dry, if in question, leave in the sun for a few days. Seal your sculpture with Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish. Use latex gloves & mask for this part. Take your foam brush and apply, making sure to get into the nooks & crannies. Let dry for a few hours.

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Step 8 – Add a personal touch. Using a stamp or marker record the date and/or names to appreciate for years to come. Shane & Jack both made ones for their rooms from pieces they found so it’s nice to have a personal note at the bottom. Who knows maybe these will be in the family for a while, one can hope right?

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We made about 8 in all and just to show you different styling options I layered them throughout my den.

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Of course no post would be the same without a little photo of Denver.

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This is the piece from above, it’s my favorite, I love the contrast, shape and texture, it all works.

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I kept the base natural, without stain because I didn’t want it to compete with the organic beauty and tone of the driftwood.

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What do you think of the art we made with love from the found driftwood from our little beach adventures? I can’t tell you enough how much I LOVE this project!!! Not only was it easy but it was so cheap, it was under $25 for all my supplies. You can make about 20 with the purchased supplies.

From now through September 30th, take advantage of our Fall Home Celebration rebate and save up to $15 on select Minwax® products that make and keep your floors beautiful. These specially formulated products enhance the natural beauty of your floors and can help protect them so they look great for years to come.

Be sure to check out Minwax’s new “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces – sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.

Jen shares DIY projects and thrifty decorating solutions. Her design philosophy is that bringing style to your home doesn’t have to break the bank. Learn more about Jen and visit City Farmhouse. You Can also follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

 

DIY Bathroom Vanity with Thrifty Decor Chick

Sarah of Thrifty Decor Chick is back with another amazing DIY project. See how she created this beautifully modern bathroom vanity. 

Hey all! I just finished up a DIY bathroom vanity that I wanted to share with you.  My Dad and I built it together and I thought this would be a great opportunity to show off the staining process.

Here’s what we started with:

How to build your own bathroom vanity

I work with Minwax® occasionally to share how to bring stained wood projects into your home and I knew this one was going to be a great fit. I started with my go to, Minwax® Pre-Stain Conditioner:

Minwax prestain conditioner

It helps to prepare the wood for staining — it’s such a quick process it takes no time at all. I use a foam brush to apply:

Prepping wood for stain

You don’t even need to wipe it off, as long at you don’t brush it on too thick. I immediately started staining after that step with Minwax® Wood Finish™ in my new favorite color, “Provincial.”

Provincial stain by Minwax

It is such a pretty stain and doesn’t look nearly as red (at least on pine) in real life as it does in that photo above. It’s a nice in between brown tone. I usually use a foam brush to apply the stain as well, but when you’re working with vertical surfaces that’s a little trickier. Applying with a rag is a bit messier (use gloves for sure), but I think goes on quicker. I did two coats on the top of the vanity.

Staining with a rag instead of brush

If you use a brush to apply stain, you’ll need to wipe down any excess a few minutes after. When you use a rag you’re wiping off that extra stain as you go so you save a step. Staining is such an easy DIY project and I LOVE the instant gratification it gives. 🙂 It’s so fun to see wood come alive when you work with stain. I always like to share a few staining tips with you that I think are important:

  • You need to give yourself enough time to complete one surface at a time. If you start and stop (and let the stain dry) you will see where you left off. Always leave a “wet edge” as you work — meaning keep moving across the surface with the wet brush.
  • It is important to let each coat dry well. If you add another coat too fast it will gunk up and take forever to dry. I usually only do one coat but you can add more for a deeper tone.
  • Gloves are always recommended! Even if you don’t use a rag to apply you’ll need one to wipe off excess stain afterwards.
  • If you can stain outside, great! If not, keep windows open or a fan running. And if you notice a weird smell coming from your dryer or oven after you stain, check out this post. 🙂

I did the top and then started the bottom part of the vanity…and the two pine pieces we used weren’t staining the same. I kind of figured this would happen because the 2x4s were a little rougher than the select pine I used for the rest of it. The 2×4’s were looking more red. But I had a plan! It added about $50 to the cost of the vanity, but I’m still coming in at less than $250 for the whole thing so I’m thrilled. I had some pine boards mitered down so we could wrap the legs. Here’s a reminder of how they looked:

Building a bathroom vanity

 

Instead of the 2×4’s, those are now covered in the nicer wood to match the rest. I also changed the shelf a bit and I’ll show you that below. I didn’t want the cut ends of the shelf pieces showing because I knew they’d stain up so much darker than the rest. The cut sides always absorb more stain.I grabbed a lawn trash bag and set up on the floor to condition and stain each board for the shelf individually:

 

How to stain easily

Like I said, using a rag makes the process SO much faster than a foam brush. It’s just faster to wipe it on and you eliminate taking off the excess stain after. I went ahead and installed the slats for the shelf when the stain dried and got ready for my next step. I wanted to use a polyurethane that would hold up to the water that will inevitably get all over the countertop. I chose the Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane I used when I refinished the potting bench last year:

DIY potting bench
Outdoor urethane for stained wood

I did two coats over the whole vanity and will probably do one more to the top. Between a good poly and lots of caulk around the sinks, the wood counter should hold up fine. You can use a fine grit sandpaper or steel wool in-between coats of poly, but I’ve found my new trick works just as well or better:

Sanding in between coats

Yes, just paper bags! It knocks down an rough spots but doesn’t create a cloudy look that sandpaper can sometimes create. It’s especially great for a final sanding after you’re done. Love it! Here’s a look at the finished project! Well, minus the faucets and mirrors and other finishing touches:

Sealing wood counters on bathroom vanity

Crossing my fingers the faucets will go in today! So much progress lately. 😁😁  I finally feel like we’re in the home stretch, even though there’s still a ton left to do. I found sinks and matching drain stoppers to go with them and I LOVE how they look.Finding faucets in stock that are tall enough was a little more difficult. I moved the sinks up towards the front of the vanity a bit to make washing hands/face more comfortable:

Wood counters on bathroom vanity

I only wrapped the front legs because you really won’t see the back ones when the baskets and stuff are sitting on the shelf:

Built in DIY vanity with sinks

You can see here how the slats now nestle behind the front piece. I love this — it streamlines it a bit more, and as I mentioned, the ends of the slats would have been much darker. When I wrapped the legs I considered painting the vanity white for a hot second. I thought it would look good with white on the bottom and a stained top, and it would! But I’m so glad I went ahead with the stain. It really gives this room some warmth. I love stained wood in contrast with the dark tile and the white accents that will go throughout the room as well. Here’s a before and after of the vanity and a peek at the shower tile that was finished up this morning:

How to build and stain a DIY bathroom vanity
How to build and stain a DIY vanity

My bathroom renovation is coming together just as I envisioned and I couldn’t be happier!

Be sure to check out Minwax’s new “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.

Sarah’s blog, Thrifty Decor Chick, features more great DIY projects that will help you have lovely home without spending a ton of money. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest for more.