Tag Archives: organization

Burlap and Arrows Chalkboards

When we built, I knew I wanted a big area to ‘land’ when we walked in the door.  Lots of room for boots, coats, purses, marking, instruments, backpacks, and all of the rest of the paraphernalia from everyday life.

This was our entry from the trailer that we lived in for 12 years.  You can see why I had my heart set on something a little bigger.  This wasn’t easy to live with.

What I wanted included a desk for mail and the computer.  I wanted it right by the back door rather than hidden away in an office somewhere so I didn’t have to traipse all over the house putting stuff away and then hauling it back to deal with it.

Besides.  I am bad at doing that.  Out in the open is better.  Then I can’t forget!

We have the desk area.  But the desk had a big blank wall looming above it.  That needed a little something…

So I have been looking for a long time for things to fill up the wall above my desk.  Items on my list are a whiteboard calendar (I’m a calendar girl- no matter how many things I type into my phone, I just don’t remember them as well as if they are written in big letters on a calendar), a pinboard to hold notes and reminders, and some other pretty kinds of decorations.

front entry


Craft Room


Office Organizers


desk area


And then I spotted these beauties.  Love.  Them.

They are so us.

Zinc & Jute Round Chalkboard


I knew I had to do these right away.

So I cut out the circles from some leftover bookshelf backing material that we hadn’t used from our library bookshelves and then gave them a couple of coats of ASCP in Primer Red.  I knew you could use it for chalkboard paint as I had already done the inset of my pantry door with it.

This is how they turned out.

I put our initials on them- they are probably going to be used for decoration rather than real chalkboards.  I love the look of them.

I will show you the rest of the desk gallery wall soon.  A few little additions to go yet…


You may have noticed that the blog posts have slowed down a lot this past week.

It is a bit of a crunch time at work for me right now (some of my students are writing a provincial exam tomorrow so last week was all about writing and writing some more, which meant late nights of marking for me), the weather has actually turned decent the past 2 weekends, so, when not marking, I have been outside doing yard work, and the last reason is that I am just stuck on some big projects that are partially completed but that I just can’t seem to find the time or energy to complete (gallery wall in office, mudroom shelving, laundry countertop, recovering chair…).

I’ll get there, though.

I did want to show you what we had been up to outside.

Last summer, we worked very hard and finished the front yard of the house.  We built a rock wall and a paver stone patio and stairs.

But the back yard still looked like this.

As the ground had been disturbed from the house build, it was full of Canada thistle, quack grass, and clover.


And then we moved in and lived here for a while and this happened.

Junkapalooza.  And not in a cool, Junk Gypsy kind of way either.

More of a horrifying, what-kind-of-hoarders-live-here kind of way.

 Apparently, the kind that heats their home with wood.

 And collects antlers and garbage can and barbecues.  That kind of hoarder.

Anyway, back to the yard…

Here is the view of the entire back yard including the back hoarding wood-storage porch and the rest of the space.  Because of the sheer size, it was intimidating getting started.

The slope at the back provided some challenges as well (but great protection from the north wind).  I think this little nook carved into the slope will be our fire pit area.

This raised area is just outside the back mudroom/ hallway door.  We are going to plant this all out in grass and have a couple of flower beds.

But guess what we are doing with that bank…

That’s right.  We are back to building another rock wall.  It just makes sense.  The ground is very rocky here (we do live at a gravel pit) and we don’t see why we would move them away rather than just use them on site.  That bank had to be stabilized with something.

The reason why the picture seems so dark is that we had my dad come up with his loader to even out the ground for us, so the whole length of the yard has a fresh covering of dirt.

We don’t fool around.  It would take a lot of wheelbarrow trips to move that much dirt.

The really good news was that not only did we get the backyard leveled out and a space created out of that back bank for a wood shed…

(this makes my husband very happy and maybe will help to keep the back covered porch clean…maybe)…

…but we also discovered that we actually have soil in the backyard.  We thought before that it was all rock and sand and that we were going to have to buy a million yards of black dirt before we planted grass seed.

Not so.

A lot of nice, rich soil to plant grass in.  Yay!

Once we finish picking out all the rocks!  Boo!

Lots of work left to do, but we have made a lot of progress in the last two weekends!  We also planted some trees and I finally got brave enough to start a job that has been intimidating me for a year and a half now.

I’ll give you a sneak peak.

Please ignore the mess surrounding the door.  We do.

My workload this week is not as crazy as it has been so hopefully I can finish up some projects around here.  Or maybe even relax on that patio.

Office/ Mudroom Gallery Wall

When you walk in our front door, there is a long sightline through the dining area to the back hallway mudroom.  At the end of the mudroom is our office desk.  I have always been ok with having my desk out in the open.  I didn’t want a separate room to have to take stuff in and out of to deal with.  And I can’t be trusted with closed doors.  Out in the open keeps me on top of things.  And a little neater.  But it definitely needed some dressing up.

The wall was looking too bare and we needed to work on storage solutions that were attractive and functional.  And we need to get the kid off Facebook…but that’s a different post…

Here are some inspiration shots for mural walls that I love.

Why not have more pictures in bathrooms?


My favourites are the ones that combine pictures with other elements like mirrors or maps.  Perfect for a home office area.



Pottery Barn

Pinned Image


Pinned Image




Hopefully mine looks something like these when I’m finished.

Sunglasses Holder

If your family is anything like our family, the mudroom/ entry/ back door is often a disastrous mess.

Kinda like this.

I mean, it doesn’t look too disastrous actually.  But it’s not user friendly either.  My purse goes here.  My husband’s wallet.  All of our keys, phone, sunglasses, umbrellas apparently…Trust me, you don’t even want to know what else is in that basket.

It was getting to be quite the mess, and we were always losing our sunglasses, which, considering I had always bought 10 dollar ones, wasn’t such a big deal.  But then I bought prescription sunglasses.  And I didn’t want them shoved in a basket with keys and an umbrella.  So basically I was just really grouchy about where they went and who touched them.  Until I found this post on the cool sewing blog Etcetorize.  She made the cutest little sunglasses holder!

What an excellent idea.

So I set to work building one for our house.

First I measured the chunk of wall above the cupboard-by-the-back-door where I wanted it to sit.  Between the thermostat and the edge of the wall.  Cut two pieces of my trusty painter’s drop cloth the size I wanted, and then twisted pieces of twine to make the rows that the sunglasses would slip over (my size worked best with three rows), and then pinned them good sides together and sewed.

Then I added 4 little twine ties at the top so that I could hang the whole thing on a stick.  You can see one of the sunglass “rows” in there.

And here it is finished.

And here it is up on the wall.  Much, much better!

I used a little root twig to tie the twine around.  Stay tuned to see if I get brave enough to hang those Ikea baskets on the wall next to it, or whether they will get moved to make room, for, perhaps, a sisal rope bowl…

The back entry is still a work in progress, but one little step at a time, right?

My Little Corner of the Garage

After the great garage revamp, I am happy to say that I have a little corner of it to call my own.

Here it is.

You can see I already have 4 projects on the go.  A desk top to be restained, a wine crate insert I’m making a charging station out of, and curio cabinet doors being painted.  The big boxes underneath are our recycling containers for milk containers and cardboard.

I also have these cool shelves beside my work area to keep all of my paint and other supplies.

I love my little craft area.  Wonder what I’m going to do with all those antlers?  Hmmmmm………

Dream Garage Finished

Here are the pics of our finished garage after we built our workbenches and added pegboard behind them for more storage.

We stacked all of our leftover wood and tile from the build under and on the storage bench below.

Organized tools, a clock, my husband’s Robin Hood arrows (where he shot one through the other- do you realize how lucky I am that this isn’t over our fireplace mantel in the living room?  Apparently, this is a very big deal).  With space for our special Father’s Day garage surprise underneath.

Snowboards and golfclubs up and out of the way.

Coats and shoes organized by the back door.

Organized shelves that you can actually find stuff on.  The desk was painted and later moved.  It became my sewing desk!

Toys, dance regalia, and pet food neatly organized.

And, finally, one thrilled husband who apparently now thinks that the garage roof and walls require vacuuming!

Dream Garage Meets Pegboard

If you missed the garage workbench building post, you can find it here.  Once we had the lovely benches built, we realized that the terrible and flimsy shelves we have above them wouldn’t do at all.

Plus, we needed storage for the gazillions of tools that we seem to own.

So off to Home Depot we went, and we picked up 4 big sheets of their pegboard.  We actually brought it home the same day we brought home a load of antique furniture and wood from a day trip to Olds.  Nothing like really doing it all at once, right?

A few pieces of wood on the walls to attach, cut the pegboard to size, and up it goes.  Then the fun part comes with all of the hooks and various attachments you can get to hang up your tools.

See the space under the saw clock?  We left that there for a very late Father’s Day present.  That DIY is coming later this week.

Can I just say how nice it is to have all of this stuff up and off the floor and in a place where we can see it?

See the full finished garage pics tomorrow.

Sewing Desk

We were given some antiques by my husband’s parents a few weeks back for our housewarming gift from them.  A gorgeous smoking table (see here if you are wondering what the heck that is), a curio cabinet, and an old desk.

I had big plans for the desk.  Which included a little meeting with some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to get rid of the fake wood panelling paint job that someone had done on it.  Why?  Why would anyone do that?

You can see the top was pretty worn, too.  So my plan was to use my AS in Country Grey and then stain the top.

Here it is finished.  I took it all apart and sprayed the hardware and handles.

I love this paint.

Then I painted the whole thing with one coat (one!!!!!) of ASCP in Country Grey.  Waxed it in clear and then put a little of the dark wax on in places.  Sanded and stained the top and slide out extension, and that was it!

It gives it great texture.

But this desk isn’t all about looks.  It has many hidden surprises.

A drawer to file paper.  Or, in my case, probably felt or material.

I’ll probably use the pen drawer for fabric markers and sewing notions I use all the time.  My pins, tape measure, seam ripper.  Seam ripper…  gotta keep that handy!

On the left, the bank of drawers is actually a cupboard door front which opens to this.  A slide out extension.  You pull it out.

And the mechanism behind allows it to do this.

I think this was originally meant for your typewriter.

Now I know there are a lot of talented decorator/ bloggers out there who would have taken pictures of this desk styled to the hilt.  And it would have looked beautiful.  But this desk, for me, is becoming my sewing table.  It is going in a little craft room I have.  It is basically a big closet in our spare bedroom.

Lots of room for a desk.  And these awesome shelves.

Yes.  That’s a big roll of rawhide.  Doesn’t everyone have a stash of this?  And yes, my shelves need major organization.  That another post (or 2 or 3).

I love my little craft room.  It makes me happy.  And this desk is so much better than our old kitchen table, which is what I was using before.

So…. this is how I’m going to decorate my new/ antique sewing desk.  With my Grandma’s sewing machine that’s gone a million miles for me.

And with her mom’s, my great-grandma’s, white chair.

If anyone calls, I’ll be in my sewing room.  Messing around with the seam ripper…

Pottery Barn Inspired Charge Station

Like every other family, we are often overwhelmed at our house (well, I am anyway) by the tangle of cords and mess and components that we need to keep all of our toys charged.

Enter the Pottery Barn Daily System.  I have spent hours drooling over this collection of organizational gems.  Hours.  It’s probably unhealthy.

One of my favourites is the charging station.  What a great idea this thing was.

So I have been thinking for a long time about how to try and replicate it.  This is what I came up with.  I had a wine crate that I was going to use for towel storage (or something)- meaning I didn’t need the very cool insert.

Once I took the insert out of the crate, it really reminded me of the recharge station.

So I took the Dremel and made some little grooves in the back of the insert for cords.  I did this because I wanted it to sit flush against the wall and needed room for the cords to hang down.

Ok.  So that’s not me doing it.  But it was me telling him what to do.  And that was to put a couple of grooves on the top row, and three on the bottom (just to leave a lot of room for additional cords that we may want to put in there).

Once we had that done, I slid the pieces apart and sanded and painted.

Of course I used Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint.  Old White.  And then I reassembled and up onto the wall it went.

Yes.  We have walkie-talkies.  Two sets, actually.  And yes, those are rocks on the bottom.  Who says it all has to be electronic?

I sewed a piece of drop cloth with velcro on the back to gather up all the cords and also used drop cloth to make tags to label the cords.  We each have our own little spots.

Hanging on the laundry room wall by our back door, it has made keeping track of cords and components soooo much easier.  We have gone from this-

To this-

I love it!  So grab whatever you have handy in your house and make yourself a recharge station.  You will be glad you did.

Linking to:

Blue Cricket Design’s Show and Tell Wednesday

Red Chalk Paint Pantry Door

I am notorious for forgetting things.  I have lists and scraps of paper and stickies on my computer screen.  I have notes on my iPhone.  I have numerous coil journals.

I still forget what I’m doing a lot of the time sometimes.  Who has time to do things twice?  Or more?

And, to top it all off, I. hate. running. errands.  My husband is the one who will, cheerfully, at any given moment, run uptown for whatever it is we need.  I pout if I have to go to the grocery store.  Even more for the bank, etc.  You get the idea.

So I knew when we moved into our house that I wanted a chalkboard in the kitchen to help keep track of things we needed.  We live in a small town and it is an hour from the nearest Costco, so we have to somehow keep track of things we need for the city trips, too.

Welcome to the pantry.  Before shot.

Pantry door- meet my friend, Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint.  In Primer Red.

First coat.  Yikes!

After the second coat.

It was still a little bit blotchy, so I did a third coat and took off the tape.  Seasoned it with a bit of chalk and added my cute ‘groceries’ sign and that’s it!  Lots of room to write things down (as they are emptied from the pantry) and for multiple lists going at once.  I love it!

To do this project, you just need:

-something to paint to become your chalkboard

-painter’s tape/ drop cloth

-chalk paint or chalkboard paint

-paint brush

I am linking up to Blue Cricket Design‘s Show and Tell Party and Boost My Blog Friday.

Tutorials and Tips Link Party at Home Stories A to Z.


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