5 Easy ways to save money on DIY projects

Check out these 5 easy ways to save money on DIY projects. No need to spend a ton of dough, just think smart!

Ever get to the end of a DIY project and realize that you just spent more then you would have if you had just bought it new?  It happens to me all the time!  Here I will share 5 easy ways to save money on your next DIY!

  1. Use what you already have

One way to save a ton of dough on your next DIY is to have a look around your house.  Any scrap lumber lying around?  Any old paint from a different project?  Sometimes making due with materials that you already have lying around is the best way to update your space on a dime.

In this DIY project I made a welcome sign out of an old board I had lying around that was previously used as a form for a concrete foundation.  It was old and worn looking – but that, my friends, is what we call “rustic”.

Rustic Front Porch Welcome Sign

2.   Look in the trash bin

Sometimes inspiration can be found in the lowliest of places – the trash bin!  I am constantly examining garbage and waste to see if it can be repurposed for something else.  First of all, there is nothing more frugal than upcycling trash and it is great for the environment too!

In this project I turned an old berry container into a handy chalk and brush holder for my chalkboard.

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3.  Think outside the box

Sometimes buying materials for your DIY projects can add up!  Fabric, in particular can be very expensive.  Shopping around and thinking about using items in a different way can be the answer.

When I reupholstered this ottoman I struggled to find both batting and a liner fabric without spending a ton of money.   When shopping around a local discount store I found a mattress pad and a shower curtain that fit the bill.  Both items were selling for far less than anything comparable at the fabric store, and the effect was the same.

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4.  Fix up the old and broken

Chances are if you really look around your house you can find some broken old pieces of furniture that seem to far gone to save.  A little TLC, some quick repair work and a new covering can transform that broken piece into something completely new!  I have yet to meet something “too broken” to reuse!

5. Plan ahead and wait for sales and deals

I almost always have four or five projects on the go in my head.  I am always looking forward to the next thing.  So when a 50% off sale at the fabric store goes on or my favourite spray paint goes on sale I am already prepared with the colours or patterns I need for those projects.  Take advantage of these opportunities and wait for the deals!

When I saw this huge frame at my local craft store at 50% off, I knew it would be perfect for a chalkboard to manage my family schedule.  I ended up making a massive chalkboard that would normally go for at least $100 for under $20!

Chalkboard

So stop paying top dollar for materials, search for inspiration in unlikely places, and plan ahead to save tons of dough on your DIY projects!

Minecraft chest piggy bank – a 5 min DIY upcycle

Try this fun and quick craft with your kids – build a minecraft piggy bank out of an old berry container!

The tooth fairy has been visiting our house a lot lately.  My 6 year old has lost at least 3 teeth this month!  He had no where to store all the money he was finding under his pillow so we decided to make him a little piggy bank.

Easy DIY Minecraft Piggy bank
Try this quick and easy DIY project with your kids – make a minecraft piggy bank!

Since he loves all things minecraft, I though what better place to put all his treasures but in a treasure chest!

For this project you need:

  • some brown card stock
  • wood toned washi tape
  • hot glue gun and glue
  • scissors
  • exacto knife
  • metallic duct tape
  • chest shaped container – I used a berry container with a top

First I traced all sides of the container onto the card stock and cut them out.

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Then I hot glued the cardstock onto the container.  I found it worked better to put the glue on the container then push the cardstock onto it.

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If the pieces didn’t fit quite right I simply trimmed the edges with an exacto knife.

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Then simply cover the edges with the wood toned washi tape.

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Finally, the little latch on the front needed to be metal so I covered it with metallic duct tape.

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And here it is!  It certainly isn’t perfect but I think it strikes a close resemblance to the minecraft version!

Make a minecraft piggy bank
Make a Minecraft Piggy Bank

Now all that money is safe from his little brothers sticky hands!

This is such a fun little DIY to do with your kids.

How to make a minecraft treasure chest pinterest
How to make a Minecraft treasure chest from a berry container.

DIY Reupholstered Storage Ottoman – a toy box makeover!

I have had this grungy old broken ottoman in my house for about 5 years.  It was a cheap ottoman I bought from Canadian Tire to serve as a coffee table in my living room. This is what it looked like when I bought it…

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The lid did not attach so the kids used to put it on the edge of the couch and use it as a slide.  Eventually the lid cracked in half and the leather ripped down the middle.

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It sat in the corner of our living room lidless for a while until I moved it to little L’s room to be used as a toy box.

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Basically it was still functional as a toy holding receptacle but did nothing to hide the toys away.  My husband wanted to replace it but I knew there had to be a better (and cheaper) way – why not recover it!

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Hot to Reupholster a storage ottoman – easy DIY upcycle

First I removed the legs and spray painted them in a hammered metallic finish.

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I hit fabricland during a 50% off sale and scored this fabric for $4/meter (totaling $12 with tax).  I could have just measured the whole diameter and sewed one seam at the end, then I wouldn’t have to match the pattern so carefully.  I thought, however, that it would look better if there was a seam on every corner so I decided to sew the sides in 4 panels.

I measured each side and added a 1/2 inch for seam allowances.

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When cutting the fabric I gave myself a little extra on the width to match the pattern.  Full disclosure – I am by no means an expert at sewing – if there is a better or easier way to match patterns please let me know.  This is just me trying to figure it all out on my own!

I laid the fabric with right sides together then pulled back the top piece so I could match the pattern.  I then pinned it together, flipping it over to make sure it looked right.

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I continued this along until I reached the last corner.  Here I didn’t have much leeway as the fabric needed to be a certain length so I matched it as best as I could.  It didn’t turn out too bad!

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When I put it over the base it was a perfect fit!

I stapled the fabric to the bottom of the ottoman first using my mastercraft air stapler (best birthday gift ever!) making sure the pattern was strait all around.

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Then I pulled it tight, again making sure it all lined up as best as I could.  There were a few wonky spots where I pulled too tight, but just made that the back of the ottoman.

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For the liner I wanted something slippery so it would be easy to clean.  The current liner is very soft and everything sticks to it.  I wanted to be able to vacuum it out if it was starting to get dirty.  I went back to the fabric store and looked at vinyl but it was going for $40/meter which was way to pricey for me!  I went to Giant Tiger and found this polyester shower curtain for $8 in a nice coordinating fabric – perfect!

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I measured the inside of the toy box and sewed the liner to those specifications.  Then I stapled it in place, folding down the upper edge so there would be no fraying.

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For the lid I first reinforced it with some scrap lumber, making sure it was good and sturdy, knowing the kids would likely be playing on top of it.  I also wanted it to have a little extra padding.  A package of batting would have cost me around $40 so I found this mattress pad (basically the same thing!) for $20.  I stapled the padding on then stapled the fabric on top, making sure the pattern lined up strait.

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I also measured, cut, and stapled a liner for the inside of the lid.

I wanted to have the lid on hinges so that it would always look nice (no missing lid!) and also so that the kids could no longer use it as a slide.  I didn’t, however, want little fingers pinched in a lid that was slammed closed.  I found these hydraulic hinges on amazon for $7 meant for cabinets.  With a little trial and error, we attached them on the ottoman in such a way that the lid stays open until you want to shut it.

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And there you have it!  I wish I had taken a better before picture (rookie mistake) but I think you can see what a huge difference this made!

DIY Toy Box Makeover
DIY Toy Box Makeover – reupholster a storage ottoman

For under $50 I now have a band new storage ottoman to put in my sons room for toy storage!

DIY Reupholstered Storage Ottoman
DIY Reupholstered Storage Ottoman – a toy box makeover

5 Things I learned my first month blogging

things I learned

Well here it is, the first month of my blog complete.  There were some successes and lots of mistakes but I thought I would share with you all the 5 biggest things I learned in my first month blogging.  I am by no means an expert at blogging but I thought that this information might be useful to new bloggers – don’t make the same mistakes I did!

  1. Choose your web hosting carefully

When I started my blog I went into it without much research.  So many people recommend so many different hosting services I figured any one should be good enough.  I figured that I would be able to change this if I wasn’t happy with the service that I chose.  Think again.  I didn’t know what self hosting was, I didn’t realize there were different types of hosting services.  If you want to monetize right away, make sure you chose a service that allows you to do so.  Understand that you are not able to change hosting services for 60 days.  My advice to new bloggers is to research very carefully which hosting service you need for your goals.  This is probably the most important decision you will have to make for your website.  Themes can be changes fairly easily, but web hosting?  Not so much.

2. One post a week is not enough

My original plan was to post weekly.  After all I work full time and have two kids, right?  When I posted once per week my engagement would have a big spike on post day, then dwindle down to nothing before the next one.  By posting twice per week I find that my engagement stays up enough in between posts to have more stable traffic to the site.  Now of course this may be different in different niches.  What I did instead is to create some posts that are not as time consuming.  You can’t refinish furniture and overhaul a room twice a week, but there are lots of small projects that you can do to fill those spaces.  Alternatively you can also create “inspiration” posts where you show pictures from retailers of items you are planning on buying or projects you are planning on doing.

3. Work at least one week in advance

When I started my blog I published my first post, thought “There! Done!” then never thought ahead to my next post until right before.  Life got in the way and I didn’t end up posting for another week.  I have learned that if you finish your posts at least a week in advance and schedule them to be posted there is a lot more flexibility for ‘life’ to happen. Kids get the stomach flu?  No problem!  Plus it is so much more relaxing to know that you are on autopilot for at least a week!  I am aiming to get myself a month in advance.

4.  Know when to outsource

My intention was to start this blog and just be able to “figure this out” as I went along.  After all, I am fairly good at computers, I took a university course in coding, right?  If I could learn HTML how bad could wordpress be?  Bad, I tell you.  I can be very bad.  I spent countless hours trying to figure out wordpress and trying to install my own theme.  Eventually after 2 weeks of staying up until 2am I knew I was beat.  I forked over the cash and had the professionals do it and I tell you I wish I had done that in the beginning!  I can still have fun customizing and learning wordpress but when your site is set up it is way more fun!  So know your limitations!  There are some things you can learn and some things that are just not worth the time invested. (PS if you are sitting there thinking – what theme?  This page looks pretty darn basic!  Don’t worry it is all set up at my new webhost which I can’t switch to for another 2 weeks…see number 1)

5.  Promote, promote, promote!

When I published my first post I pinned it once to pinterest and just expected that people would repin.  It is such a great post after all, right?  Sadly, it takes a lot more than that to get your post seen.  I’ve heard it said from other bloggers that blogging is 20% content creation and 80% promotion.  That is just so true.  You need to join facebook groups, hit up your contact list for likes, join some group boards.  Don’t be afraid of promoting your content, especially when it is particularly good.

So that’s the 5 things I learned in my first month of blogging.  I’m sure I will learn even more next month!  It’s amazing to think of how far I have come in a month and can’t wait to see how far I will go next month!

Let me know if you like this post!  And remember to like me on facebook and follow me on pinterest!  If you love easy DIYs on a budget then you will love my blog!

DIY Mojito Flavoured Natural Cleaner

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When summer hits I am all about the Mojito.  I have Mojito body wash, cream, room sprays.  I drink Mojitos like it’s going out of style!  Well now you can get that summer feeling all year round and clean your house at the same time with this easy lime and mint infused vinegar cleaner.  Smells like summer and does a great job cleaning your house!

I have a huge patch of mint in my garden and I have been searching for ways to use it up.  You can only eat so much mint jelly in a year!  While drinking a mojito one day I had an brilliant idea – why not make a mojito flavoured household cleaner!

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To make this simple infused vinegar, first peel 4 limes and place them in a mason jar.

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Add a good amount of mint (about 1 cup?) and pour over some plain white vinegar.  Place this jar in your window sill for a few days, shaking it up a few times.

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When the vinegar is infused with the fantastic mojito flavours, pour into a spray bottle and mix 1/2 and 1/2 with water.

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You can use this cleaner all over your house, but I particularly like using it in the kitchen.

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Trash to Treasure – Berry Container Upcycle

Check out this item of trash turned into treasure! This berry container makes a great holder for chalk and a chalkboard brush.

What’s better then recycling? Upcycling!  Here is the first installment of my trash to treasure series where I upcycle something meant for the landfill.

When I saw these berry containers I knew I could turn them in to something great. I keep my clothes pins in one container and the other I made into this fantastic chalk brush holder.

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I recently made this chalkboard to organize my family’s weekly routine. I had to keep the chalk and brush in a drawer in my kitchen which wasn’t very convenient.  When I saw this blueberry container I knew it would be perfect.

First I removed the top, making sure to cut off all the excess plastic.

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Then I spray painted it with this hammered finish spray paint. It leaves a really nice finish and makes it look almost like metal.

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Add some command hooks to the bottom of the chalkboard…

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And voila!

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A tidy and convenient way to keep my chalk and brush handy.

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What kind of upcycling have you done?

CHalk holder facebook

Deep Navy Twin Bed – a toddler bed makeover

Toddler Bed Pinterest

I have been hard at work this past week trying to get little L’s bedroom decorated.  When my little guy was born I basically just set up a crib in the guest room, bought some new bedding and called it a day.  Poor deprived second child.  We didn’t even have a picture of him up in the house until he was a year and a half old.  Well after all these years of décor deprivation this little guy deserves a new room!

He has been sleeping on a twin mattress on the floor for the past year (sad I know – but so practical) so I really wanted to get him a proper bed frame.

I bought this second hand bed on kijiji for $30.  I love the simplicity of it, I didn’t want a bed that was too fussy.  With it’s clean lines and classic shape it gives just the right amount of masculinity for a little boys bedroom.

Bed before

Originally I was going to strip it and refinish it because the wood is still in quite good shape.  But for a couple of reasons I decided to paint it instead.

For one it reeked of cigarette smoke.  It smelled like the bed of a 70 year old chain smoker.  No amount of baking soda or vinegar was going to get that smell out, it needed to be painted.  And the finish – oh man that finish was not easy to get off.  So in the end I cut my losses and decided to paint it a very deep navy blue.  The colour I used was Behr Starless Night

Behr Starless Night

I love how deep this colour is, so dark it’s almost black.  Just like a……..starless night I suppose?  I don’t know who gets to name paint colours but I would love that job!

After stripping and sanding it I washed all the dust off with a tack cloth.  Then I used a small paintbrush to pain the crevices and then rolled on the paint with a foam roller.

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It took about 2 coats to achieve this deep rich colour.

Bed end

Don’t you just love it?

Full bed

I think someone else loves it too!

Bed with L

And because everyone likes a before and after….

Toddler Bed Before and After

I have some plans in the works to add a little something special to this bed….stay tuned!