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Friday, December 13, 2013

Spare Room-Turned-Closet Makeover

So many people have asked me to share instructions and photos of my closet that I thought it would make a good post, so here goes... Most of what you need to know can be understood by just looking at the pictures. Just a note before I get on a roll here, you'll just have to e-mail me if you don't understand something because I KNOW what I did, but putting that into words sometimes gets difficult.  Anyway, thanks in advance for your understanding.
The entire closet, with the exception of the original closet trim and base boards and my dressers and mirrors, is constructed from 3/4 inch premium plywood (very smooth on both sides), 1" x 1 1/2" strips of pine, and steel closet rods and hardware (to prevent any sagging or breaking).
Step 1 - Make your plan. Measure your space and draw it out on graph paper so you will see what works and what doesn't, and trust me, do it in pencil.  Change and arrange and even customize the pieces to your specific needs until you’re happy.
**Just a note - Be exact with your measurements. Take them 2 or 3 or even 10 times before you cut your wood. Make sure you also measure floor to ceiling so you know how tall you can make your units.
This is what my final plan page looked like. Each piece in place and outside the room layout is the description and dimensions of each of the pieces that I wanted to build.
I'm going to bounce back and forth from plan to pictures so you can see what you will be building.
You may not use all of the pieces that I did so I'll show you using the pictures what each piece is called on the plan and you can determine if you will use mine or make your own version. 
Step 2 - Make your shopping list - Knowing that plywood comes in 4' x 8' sheets, determine how much you will need for your plan. While your at it, you will also need to calculate how many feet of the 1" x 1 1/2" lumber you'll need to trim out your units. Are you going to tear out the original closet header like I did? If so you'll need to measure for the casing lumber and trim you need for that too. The same thing with L-brackets and closet rods and make sure you have a good supply of 1 1/4" finishing nails (which is mostly what I used to put everything together with). At this same time you'll need to determine whether or not you are going to stain or paint your units and if you are going to stain will you be able to work with the base board that is currently in the room or will you buy new, and if your buying new how much will you need (linear feet)? If you're painting you might as well choose the color and pick that up at the same time. My point here is save yourself as many trips as possible because once you get started you're not going to want to have to stop and go back to the store. 
Step 3 - Choose which piece to start with and go to work. For the purpose of instruction, I'll start with the Double Rack Unit.
In my floor plan I have 4 Double Rack Units. My ceiling height is 9' and I am tall so my units are tall. You might want a shorter unit or you might want to utilize every inch like I did. So customize yours to your needs. The total height of my Double Rack is 90 3/4". I have a 13 1/4" - 3 sided shelf sitting on top of my double rack for purse space, making the total height 104". For placement of shelves and bars/rods and brackets, remember to include the thickness of your plywood when measuring.

This picture shows the completed unit

These next 3 pictures show the shelf supports, trim, rod and rod hardware

In the Double Rack that sits in front of the only window in this room, I cut and hinged two doors (upper & lower), to allow access to the window for fresh air, for cleaning the window and the blinds, and in the event of an emergency. As a bonus, I don’t have to worry about anyone peeking into my closet.
**Note – For this 3 unit section in the middle of the room I had to remove the excess portion of the wooden window sill so that the unit would sit flush up against the wall.

Next are the two 3-sided units I made to store purses that sit on top of my Double Racks.

 Moving on to the Shelving units, this one is in the window unit. 

This one is in the original closet space and has smaller dimensions remember to customize according to your space.

 Lets’ talk about the original closet

As you can see in the picture below, I removed the closet header to open up the space and added more … shoe shelves. All I did was carry the original closet cased opening up to the ceiling and put new stained trim on it. It makes access to everything in the top of the closet a lot easier and it helps open up the space visually.

All right, last but most certainly not least is the SHOE SHELF UNIT!!! For most of us we can hang our clothes in every closet in the house and be… not happy, but okay. BUT, and this is big but, we want or need (I don’t know which), our shoes to be… well… how do I put this… All together? No… organized? No… able to find them?  Uh displayed HELLLLOOOO? Yep, if we’ve got even a good amount of shoes, we want to see them. We don’t want them in boxes under our bed. We don’t want them in someone else’s closet. We don’t want them mixed-up in a mound in the floor of our own closet. Nope! We want our shoes to have their own space. We don’t necessarily want to see them every time we walk into the room, but it’s exciting to have a great way to store our shoes, and for me this was it.
** Just a note - For your measurements, measure the tallest pair of shoes you have to get the spacing for your shelving and make sure that you add 1 more inch to that, so you don’t scrape up the tops of them when taking them out and putting them away!
*** Another Very Important note – When you’re building this unit, (I had it laid down when I put it together), work from what will be the top shelf down to the bottom shelf. That way when you attach your L-brackets, there is room for you to work, and you’re not trying to finagle a drill or screw driver between two shelves.

I added these next two pictures just for fun. I don’t like to waste space, and the end of this unit was just begging for something so…

Well that's it! Pretty simple right? I hope that you've gotten some new ideas for what you can do with your space and that the tips I've given help.  

Good luck with your closet projects, I’d love to see what you come up with!
I'd love to have your feedback... what do you think?


Friday, November 29, 2013

One thing... the really cool thing... about living in the South is that, as everyone updates their "granddaddy's" antebellum home to suit their needs and lifestyles today, they tear out, replace and get rid of some of the most beautiful parts of an opulent world that, sadly, no longer exists. Gorgeous wood moldings, built in furniture, fixtures, windows and doors, most that exhibited true craftsmanship and quality. An entire industry has developed from the salvage of such relics which in itself says how much many of us still value the history of each item. Oh, we may not use the item as they were originally intended, but part of the fun of blending old with new, these days, is figuring out what something can become.

Many months ago I found this wonderful old door frame (salvaged from one of those antebellum homes) and immediately thought how cool it would be turned into the desk for my studio. It is 8' tall and very very heavy. It even still had all the hardware including the hinges from both the door and the screen door, AND an old copper door bell that has a great tarnished bronzed and green patina, which I chose to leave on it for character.
It sat stored in my garage for a couple of months before I got started on it, while I contemplated my layout. I had a cheap old desk that worked, but I wanted something different, something that was inspirational to me. I cut up my old desk and saved the pieces I wanted to use to make the new one. Well, it's finally finished, and I love it! It was a fun project and you can do it too! Next time you're out don't just look for the old doors...
The door when I brought it from the garage into my studio.  

Great copper door bell

Finishing touches

Iron brackets and add-on shelves


AND... Ta Da!! What do you think?


Sunday, November 10, 2013


In my previous post I talked about my pincushion project and thought I would share the directions. They make a great gift for the person that has everything and are a quick and easy to make.  This is my first written tutorial, so I hope I cover everything just right so you can understand me. If you have any questions or need clarification on something, please just email me
and I'll get right back to you.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

Canning Jar Lid Pincushion Tutorial

Please read through all of the instructions first before gathering supplies.
There are some tips that may help you decide what you need.
Step 1
Because this goes pretty quickly you need to gather all of your supplies.
For each pincushion you will need: 
                1 canning jar lid with the screw on ring (pint or quart size)
                1/2 of a Styrofoam ball (pint size = 2 1/2 inch ball or quart size = 3" ball)
                Small scrap of fabric enough to cover your Styrofoam and tuck underneath
                Package of about 50 - 1 inch straight pins 
                4 - 1 1/2 inch straight pins or decorator pins with pearls on head of pin
                Approximately 50 pearl beads or just pins with pearl heads optional
                Matching gimp or trim to cover ring
                Hot glue
                1 jar to rest ball on while gluing
                Something to cut your Styrofoam ball with
                Ice pick or nail and hammer to punch small holes into the lid
                Optional additional embellishments
Step 2
Depending on the size of your jar lid, cut the appropriate size Styrofoam ball in half. I use a fine blade hack saw because the blade and teeth of the saw are small and they cause the least amount of damage to the ball. This allows you to use the second half. Or you can just use anything you have available.
Step 3
Cover your Styrofoam with your fabric scrap and glue in place. (Glue on the round side of the ball around the very edge of your cut, not on the flat side. This makes a kind of ledge that keeps your ball from falling through the lid.) Make sure to pull fabric tight to eliminate any puckering of the fabric above where the ring will cover the ball. I glue and pin to help keep the fabric from pulling  away from where I've already glued. Then take the pins out after the glue cools. 
Step 4
Place the ring on the ball and position it so that the rounded part of the ball is protruding through the top of the ring and before you glue it in place, make sure that you have room to glue your fabric down later and still end up with room for more glue and the lid. You want your lid to end up even with the bottom of the ring. If it doesn't go up into the ring far enough it won't look right and if it goes up too far your legs will not show.  Once you've made the room you need glue it in place. but don't glue the underside of your ball yet.
Step 5
Take the lid and mark the largest triangle on the under side of the lid that you have space for. The three points on the triangle are where your wholes need to be punched for the feet of the pincushion. I use an ice pick and hammer. Just a tap or two and you'll have a small hole that your pin can push up into to support your legs. If you don't have an ice pick, use a small nail. Just watch out for your fingers.
Step 6 
On the underside of your ball, trim the fabric to about 1/2 inch all the way around, and glue and pin it down. Allow it to cool and remove the pins.
Step 7
Next take the lid with the three holes punched and glue it in place to cover the fabric edges. Making sure that the writing on the lid is where it will show on the bottom of the pincushion. I use a jar to rest the ring upside down on so that gluing is easier and the glue doesn't pool to one side, making a level place for the flat lid to rest. This is where I use the most glue. You want your lid to end up even with the bottom of the ring. If it doesn't go up into the ring far enough it will stick out and won't look just right, and if it goes up too far your decorative legs will not show. Allow it to cool.
Step 8
Decorate your pincushion. Use the straight pins to pin pearls or beads around the base of the ball. Make the legs by using the longer straight pins with multiple beads of varying sizes allowing for some pin length to glue up into the Styrofoam ball. Glue gimp or trims of your choice around the ring, and add any embellishments you want to make you treasure perfect.  
This photo shows the triangle for the leg placement. 

This photo shows that the lid ends up flush with the bottom of the ring with the writing side down. 

This photo shows the leg height and gimp on ring. 

This photo shows the pins and pearls around the ball.

  These next two photos show different embellishment options.

Email me pictures of your pincushion creation at I'm excited to see what you come up with! And I'd love to feature some of them in a future post!  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

It's 1:55 am and I'm exhausted and emotional from a long day of working on creative projects and caring for my Mother, but I wanted to put my thoughts down before I stopped for the "night".
After she went to sleep this evening, I pulled the door to my Moms room so that I could hear if she needed anything and went back to work in my studio which is in the next room. Anxious to get as much done as possible, I finished the Keepsake Box project I had started and moved on to the Pincushion project. I gathered all the supplies that I would use and then I retrieved my inspiration for this project from under the glass dome where it lives. My treasure and the inspiration for this project is an antique pincushion that my Mother had made even before I was born and then had given to me years ago.
I laid out the jar lids and I cut the Styrofoam balls in half and as I was cutting all the different fabrics that I was going to use, I glanced at the original pincushion and it struck me how worn and weak it really was, how it needed to be cleaned and how its feet were loose and needed to be glued... and then... I thought about my Mother, and my eyes filled with tears and my throat seized with the air that had gotten sucked into it right before the first sob. Seeing her now, prisoner of a body that is betraying her, is difficult and sad, but after a while, as I work, the tears subside and I am remembering...  
My Mother has always been creative, not just because she had five kids and had to be, but because she loved it. She made our clothes, she made our toys, she made our gifts. And as we grew up she encouraged us to be creative. She did not just sew, she made jewelry, she tole painted, crocheted, quilted, crafted anything and everything, and learned and then taught ceramics. But as I sit here tonight I am remembering the hours and hours we spent crafting, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning, to get ready for our weekend space at the flea market where we sold our handmade items. No matter what we were working on that pincushion was always around. All week long we talked and laughed and worked. She told family stories and we made plans and lists of things to make for Birthday and Christmas presents... I cherish those memories and I'm grateful for her love and patience and for the real treasure... my Mother.
Having wonderful memories to hang on to is a blessing, the trick is taking the time to make the memories. My wish for you is that you think about your real treasures and then make more memories.
P. S. I hope you enjoy the Photos
The Inspiration for the Pincushion project
My Mom 1954 dressed for the Policeman's Ball in a dress her mother made for her.
She describes it as a purple velvet top with a purple taffeta skirt.
Costumes she made for her and my Dad for a Halloween party one year.
She even made the moccasins!
Each of our dresses she made to wear to my brother's wedding 
Sadly, the only photo I have of her at her machine and she has a pin in her mouth.
 I wish I had taken more but we didn't have cell phones with cameras handy back then. 
A quilt she made me for my birthday the year my daughter was born 1980
A scouting expedition in Washington State for new craft ideas 1996 
Another scouting expedition only in northern Alabama Mom, me and my brother David 2007
Baking the traditional Bellsnickle cookies at Christmas with some of her grandchildren  
And I threw this picture in too because we also spent a lot of time either playing canasta or Kismet
here we are playing Kismet
I love my Mom, she has given me a lot of memories and she is a treasure!


Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Herb Chateau

Located in the "Old Cloverdale" area of Montgomery Alabama, on the corner of Woodley Road and Fairview Avenue, and nestled between Jubilee Seafood and Louisa's Bakery is...
"Where treasures lie for health and home", at the "Herb Chateau".
Owner Debbie Hanson had spent twenty plus years working with specialists in the natural health industry, when she decided to act on her vision to open a shop that combined her desire to help people with wellness issues and her love of antiques, vintage finds, art and handmade decorator items. The Herb Chateau is host to a wide array of ever-changing consignment items, vitamin and nutritional supplements, and offers free gift wrapping! You are able to browse the shop at your leisure or sit down with Debbie and get a health analysis consultation.
While interviewing Debbie, I had the opportunity to observe several interactions with many of the customers that came into the store. In my opinion she seemed very knowledgeable with regard to the need or lack of need of herbal or vitamin supplements. That's right, I actually heard her tell someone that they did not need any supplements!! You don't often find any sales person who tells you that you don't need whatever they have to sell you. It was impressive! Additionally, She was a gracious hostess to browsing patrons, cheerfully answering questions and making phones calls on behalf of customers. Debbie also supports the art community in Montgomery and aids artists in being recognized.
Our visit was cut short by the growing number of customers that needed her attention, so let me just say that it would be well worth a visit if you are able to make your way to the Herb Chateau. 
P.S. As I was leaving the Herb Chateau, I decided to go next door to Louisa's Bakery because I'd never been. All I can say is YUM!!!  Hummingbird, Lemon filled, Butter Pecan and Italian Cream cupcakes to name a few, and then there was Quiche, Biscotti, Pies, Cookies and, much more! So as a bonus to visiting the Herb Chateau, you can get something sweet to go, at Louisa's Bakery. What a great little corner of our world this is!

P. S. S. Speaking of treasures... OUR FIRST CONTEST...  Here it is... If you are the first person who can tell me where I want to pitch a tent, I'll send you a handmade surprise!!! Your answer must be posted on the blog site in comments. HINT: The answer is in the previous post! And if you make you way to the Herb Chateau and tell Debbie your answer, the surprise will be BIGGER!!!

Thanks for your support.
Good Luck and Enjoy
Photos of the Herb Chateau