DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock Decor

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock

For this knockoff project we created our own DIY vintage gymnasium clock based on the Restoration Hardware 1940s Gymnasium Clock for our home gym.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock

This weekend we completed another DIY project for our home gym makeover and it turned out awesome. We wanted to see if we could turn back time and if we could find a way… to make a brand new modern clock look like a vintage gymnasium clock. The style we are going for in our home gym is vintage & industrial so it just made sense to incorporate an old-fashioned gym clock with the metal grill.

DIY KNOCKOFF

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
I found some great examples for inspiration but the Restoration Hardware 1940s Gymnasium Clock really hit both the vintage AND industrial look I was looking for perfectly. Brent took one look at it and was very confident we could make our own that looked just like it so I was extremely happy because we are on a budget with this room makeover and I couldn’t bare to hand over $200 for a clock, even if it is a really big, really cool clock.

So we made our own slightly smaller version of theirs using a basic clock. The whole project should have cost us around $80 but we actually got the clock with a gift card we won in a contest. Score! So our whole DIY vintage gymnasium clock project took about a day and cost us around $20. Ah, one less zero sounds so much nicer.

SUPPLIES

MATERIALS

  • A Plain Wall Clock
  • Metallic Satin Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray Paint
  • 1/8 x 32-in x 48-in Markerboard Hardboard
  • 3/4-in Sequentia Wall Panel Moulding
  • 1.125-in x 7-ft Baseboard Moulding
  • Silver Galvanized Steel Hardware Cloth
  • 1/8-in Aluminum Rivets
  • White paint
TOOLS

  • Table saw
  • Router
  • Drill
  • Box cutter
  • Snips
  • 220-Grit Sandpaper
  • #0 Steel Wool Pad
  • Nail gun and finishing nails

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock

How We Made Our DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
1. The first thing we did was to disassemble the clock. We pulled off the outer rim and piece of glass so we could we remove the hands off the clock by pulling them straight up from where they were connected to the center of the clock. We started with the hand on the top and then moved down one hand at a time.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
2. We traced the outer rim of the clock onto a large piece of paper and cut it out to use as a template. We set it aside for when we were ready to use it.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
3. Next, we sanded the rim and the hands of the clock with a #0 steel wool pad to provide a rough texture for the spray paint to adhere to. We used steel wool because it leaves small enough scratches that the paint finish will still be smooth. The scratches left by sandpaper can be seen through the paint.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
4. We spray painted the pieces we removed from the clock (the outer rim and the hands) with metallic satin oil rubbed bronze spray paint and hung them to dry so they would be out of our way.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
5 Then we cut the piece of hardboard down to the size of the square we needed to fit our clock. The square we cut was an inch and a half wider than the diameter of the clock. That gave us a 3/4 inch border around the clock, which is the same size as the moulding we were going to use.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
6. We took our paper template of the clock and folded it in quarters to get the radius of the circle, which was the length we needed to set up our router jig.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
7. We cut a circle out of the square piece of hardboard with a router by attaching a scrap block of wood to the router base so it could rotate around a central point. We used the paper template to measure from the center point where we screwed into the board to the outside of the router bit.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
8. Once we had it set up, we turned the router on and plunged it into the board and rotated it until we completed our circle. We made sure we had a scrap board under the actual board we were cutting to protect our work surface and provide thicker material to secure the central screw.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
9. Once we were done with our circle we had a nice cutout where our clock would fit.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
10. After attaching the 3/4 inch wall panel moulding over the rim of the hardboard, we took a straight edge and a box cutter and scored the board and the moulding at a 45-degree angle. We did this for each corner.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
11. Once all the moulding was attached and each corner was scored, it looked like this.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
12. We drilled holes where all the rivets would go with a drill bit that matched the size of the rivets. We used 1/8th rivets so we used a 1/8-drill bit. Once we had the holes drilled, we added four rivets to each corner.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
13. Then we attached four rivets on each side through our top board into a thicker board behind it to support the outer frame.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
14. We cut the baseboard moulding to frame the outside of the square at 45-degree angles using our miter saw. Then we attached it to the clock frame using mounting tape to hold it in place making it easer to secure it with finishing nails.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
15. This is what the back of our clock frame looked like once we had all the pieces attached.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
16. We secured the clock rim that we painted to the new frame we built with finishing nails.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
17. After our frame was complete, we spray painted the entire thing with the metallic oil rubbed bronze spray paint. We were pleasantly surprised with how convincing the spray paint made the plastic look like metal.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
18. We took a piece of galvanized steel hardware cloth and traced an outline of our clock using our paper template and a permanent marker. We used tin snips to cut out the circle.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
19 We inserted the metal mesh into the clock and spray painted it to match the rest of the frame.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
20. We used 220-grit sandpaper to distress areas on the face of the new clock to give it a more vintage aesthetic to match our new frame.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
21. We also did a light wash with an off-white paint color to make it look less bright and white and more worn and aged.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
22. Then we reassembled the hands on the clock.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
23. Finally we snapped the clock back into the rim. We did not put back the glass because we replaced it with the hardware cloth. Then hung our DIY vintage gymnasium clock up in our gym!

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
As I am sure you can tell we decided not to go full rust on the outer appearance of the frame of the DIY vintage gymnasium clock. We had intended on adding more colors to make it have a similar color but we ended up being happy with how the spray paint made the plastic look like metal and how it matched everything else in the room by being the darker oil rubbed bronze color.

DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock
What a difference, right? It was so much fun to take this modern clock back in time. Pun intended.

I feel like every project we complete for this room transforms the space into an old warehouse just a little more. It is so much fun to work on this room because it is different. The DIY vintage gymnasium clock adds a special touch and has easily become one of my favorite decor projects we have done.

I know I have said it a million times but Brent really does rock at being able to figure out how to make things look exactly like I want just by looking at them AND he can figure out all the supplies we need in one trip to the hardware store just off the top of his head. We always end up with just the right amount of materials and stay on budget. He’s got skills.

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DIY Vintage Gymnasium Clock

Super Easy Succulent Display Decor

Super Easy Succulent Display

Super Easy Succulent Display

This project is actually not a new one. I did this one before we started the blog but it is sitting in my office and it caught my eye today and I realized I haven’t shared it yet and since I love it so much and it was super simple to put together I thought I would take the opportunity to show you this easy succulent display I made for our home office.

I’m sure I am in the majority when I say I am kind of obsessed with succulents. I love the colors, interesting shapes, uniqueness and simplicity. It is kind of impossible to have just one succulent. I wanted to create a display that highlighted how succulents come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Super Easy Succulent Display

It was around this time last year I mentioned to my mom that I wanted to create a succulent display but I wasn’t sure what I wanted it to look like so we had a mother/daughter shopping day and brainstormed ideas along the way. We hit up the clearance section of Lowe’s and found they had all their cute little succulents half off. It was hard to pick my favorites but I finally narrowed it down to six that each had their own interesting appearance.

Super Easy Succulent Display

I still had no idea what I wanted to put them in or how to arrange them but our next stop was Pier 1. I figured they might have a cute bowl or mug fairly cheap that might make an interesting display. Then we found a tasting party set that had little unique shaped cups sitting on a bamboo tray that was perfect!

Super Easy Succulent Display

Even though we weren’t sure if they were going to fit, it was too good of an idea not to try and MAKE them fit. And when I went to check out, the set was on sale too! $11 for the cups, tray and as an added bonus, mini spoons! I obviously didn’t need the mini spoons for this project but I was pretty excited to have some mini spoons to eat with should the occasion arise. Who doesn’t love mini spoons?

Super Easy Succulent Display

They were just the right size! I planted each succulent in a cup and arranged them on the tray based on height.

Super Easy Succulent Display
Super Easy Succulent Display

This was extremely easy to put together but I just love the results. I have been enjoying it for a year now and it makes the perfect desk decor for our office. It’s such a simple and cute way to show off my succulents collection.

Vacation Memory Box Decor

DIY Memory Box

We built a custom DIY memory box to fill with photos and mementos from our vacation.

DIY Memory Box

Hello from Destin! We are bringing you this week’s Gray House Studio project from the beach in sunny Florida where we are currently on vacation. One of my favorite aspects of a vacation is preserving memories whether that is through photos or significant physical keepsakes. Today we are sharing how we created a custom vacation memory box and the items we have been adding to it this week.

I know there is that whole living in the moment movement but I am one who likes to live life through a lens. If you are anything like me when you come home from sight seeing you have hundreds of photos from your adventure. But hundreds of photos can get overwhelming to sort through so most of the times these photos tend to get lost in a folder on the desktop.

And if I am not careful, all of those items I collected that were so meaningful at the time will end up misplaced somewhere in the house (if they make if out of my suitcase).

DIY Memory Box

I wanted a unique way to preserve our trips so that our experience was paired down to a few notecards, photographs and mementos that symbolized our favorite moments.

So Brent and I came up with the idea of creating small boxes designed specifically so that we could take them on our adventures with us to store all of our keepsakes that would also look really nice sitting on a shelf once we got home.

DIY KNOCKOFF

DIY Memory Box
While I was browsing Anthropologie’s website, looking at all the things we can’t afford, I stumbled upon the Roped Treasure Box (on the left). I fell in love with the design of it but the price tag, which was $148.00, um not so much. I knew the style would fit perfectly with our vision for our beach DIY memory box so Brent and I put our heads together and made our own version for less than $30.00!

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How we Built Our DIY Memory Box

DIY Memory Box
1. First, we constructed the box out of cedar planks typically used for privacy fences. We searched through the piles at the hardware store to find planks of three different shades: dark, medium and light.

For the bottom of the box we used a scrap piece of masonite. Brent was able to figure out what size each piece needed to be by using the dimensions of the roped treasure box. If you are interested in making your own memory box, stay tuned we will be sharing our plans for this box in another post soon.

DIY Memory Box
2. We used wood glue and finishing nails to assemble the box. Then used clamps to hold the box together while it dried.

DIY Memory Box
3. For the diagonal piece of wood in the top of the box we painted it with some leftover “Slow Green” paint from Sherwin Williams. Then we distressed it with sand paper.

DIY Memory Box
4. To accent the box we cut sections of cotton rope that we bought from a craft store and tied it together using knots. We attached the rope to the box using Poultry Net Staples.

DIY Memory Box
The box was fairly easy to make and certainly worth saving over $100. Plus, we got to customize the color and style to look exactly how we wanted. Once our box was finished it was ready to go to the beach and collect memories!

DIY Memory Box
5. Before we left Brent and I made these notecards using Kraft paper tags that we cut the ends off to make into a rectangle, a stamp with lines and a date stamp. Each night before I go to bed I like to jot down an abbreviated list of the highlights of the day so when I grab the box off the shelf months from now it will jog my memory any of the experiences I may have forgotten.

Creating a Custom Vacation Memory Box
We used our new Instax Mini 8 camera to take a few instant photos reminiscent of the classic Polaroid photos to store in our box but we could also print out our favorite 15-20 photos from the vacation to store in the memory box. So when our friends or family ask about our trip, we can pull out our unique vacation memory box and they can get this big picture of our trip without having to sit through a hundred-photo narrated slide show.

DIY Memory Box
Our DIY memory box has forced us to be intentional with the souvenirs we collect because we can only fit so much “treasure” in our small box. We try and find things that best represent our favorite experiences. For example, on this trip while swimming in the ocean we stumbled upon a live sand dollar.

Creating a Custom Vacation Memory Box
Neither of us have never seen a live sand dollar before. It was brown and we could see it “breathing”. So we scooped it up with some sand and water in a bucket and observed it move along the sand and burry itself for a long time. We even named our pet sand dollar, George. We watched him for a few hours but we felt guilty about taking George from his natural habitat so we released him back into the ocean.

Since we couldn’t actually keep the live sand dollar in our box, we bought a souvenir sand dollar to help us remember our George.

We love how our DIY memory box turned out so much so that we will make one for each vacation we go on from now on. We would love to craft each one so the design specifically fits with the location of our trip and we can have a collection of interesting boxes displayed on our library shelves.

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DIY Memory Box

DIY Custom Shape Doormat Decor

DIY Custom Shaped Doormat

Making your own DIY custom shaped doormat is an easy and fun way to bring a little personality to your doorstep! The options are endless with what shapes you can create.

DIY Custom Shaped Doormat

Today we sharing a quick, easy and inexpensive do it yourself project that will bring a punch of personality to your doorstep! We are walking through how we made a DIY custom shaped doormat.

It is just me or does it seem as though doormats have a lot of pressure on them lately? Gone are the days where they only had two jobs, to give a friendly welcome and to subtly remind people to wipe their feet so they didn’t track dirt into your home. Now doormats have the added expectation to be funny, clever, relevant or stylish. The more personality and quirkiness the better!

I’m not judging this trend. In fact I am all about jumping on the bandwagon. I saw a few doormats in stores that caught my eye because they were different shapes then the typical rectangle mat and thought that would be a fun touch for our front porch but the price tag was a little high for a mat that is going to get walked all over. So we decided to make our own custom shaped doormat. We kept it simple and created a Gray House logo shaped welcome mat for our front porch.

Interested in creating your own DIY custom shaped doormat? Watch the video or follow along with the steps below to see how easy they are to make.

VIDEO TUTORIAL

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SUPPLIES

MATERIALS

  • Plain doormat (We bought a TRAMPA doormat from IKEA)
  • Sharpie
  • White Paint
  • Cardboard
  • Paper Template of Shape
  • Paper Template of Word or Phrase
  • Spray Paint
  • Plastic Sheeting
TOOLS

  • Ruler
  • Box cutter
  • X-ACTO Knife

DIY Custom Shaped Doormat

HOW TO MAKE A DIY CUSTOM SHAPED DOORMAT

DIY Custom Shaped Doormat
1. The first thing I did was to flip the doormat over so the rubber back was face up. Then I took our large template and also placed it face down on the back of the mat. I made our custom template by printing off our Gray House logo onto multiple sheets of paper and tehcutting and taping the pieces together

DIY Custom Shaped Doormat
2. Next, I used a Sharpie to mark all the corners of my template. The trick was to trace my shape on the back of the mat in reverse so when I flip the mat back over the shape looks correct and none of the lines I traced are visible .

DIY Custom Shaped Doormat
3. I used a large ruler to connect all the corners I marked so that the lines would be nice and straight.

DIY Custom Shaped Doormat
4. Once I was finished tracing I had a reverse image of my shape. This particular mat worked really well because the latex back was a light gray and it made it easy to see the shape. Next, I took a box cutter with a fresh blade and used a ruler to cut along the lines I traced. The blade cut through the rubber easily and I was able to pull away all the excess pieces of the mat.

DIY Custom Shaped Doormat
5. To add an extra touch, I created a stencil with the word “home” out of cardboard. I printed out the word in the font I wanted and then used an X-ACTO Knife to cut through the paper template and cardboard.

DIY Custom Shaped Doormat
6. Finally, using a piece of plastic and tape I covered the entire mat except where I placed my stencil and then spray painted over the stencil with a can of black spray paint.

DIY Custom Shaped Doormat
Our new custom Gray House shaped doormat!

DIY Custom Shaped Doormat
DIY Custom Shaped Doormat
We hope you find this quick and easy welcome mat project is a fun way to bring personality to your doorstep. This project was an enjoyable and affordable DIY project that I was able to complete in under an hour and for under $25. I like that the doormat is unique and we didn’t have to spend a lot of money on it.

I see us making more custom shaped mats in the future so we can change them in and out depending on season or even mood. Maybe for the next one we will branch out and be bit more quirky. The hardest part of this project is thinking up something clever that a doormat with a witty personality might say. Have any good ideas? Please share them with us in the comments section.

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DIY Custom Shaped Doormat

DIY Yarn Wall Art Decor

Branch & Yarn Wall Hanging

Check out how we made a colorful branch & yarn wall hanging for our guest bedroom.

Yarn Wall Hanging

One room that we haven’t shared yet on the blog is our guest room. If I am being honest that is because the design of that room is still all over the place. I found a new colorful duvet cover that I love but we just haven’t been able to give much time and attention to this room. There is a lot of mixing and matching of furniture going on and not in a good way, more of an any left over piece that didn’t have anywhere else to go kind of way.

A branch and yarn wall hanging was the perfect solution. This project was really easy and fun to make. We put it together in just a few hours and love the results. Today we are sharing how we made our branch and yarn wall hanging.

SUPPLIES

MATERIALS

  • Yarn in multiple colors
  • Branch
  • Metal loop
  • Cabinet pull knob
  • Double end threaded screw
TOOLS

  • Scrap Wood
  • Clamps
  • Scissors

HOW WE MADE OUR Yarn Wall Hanging

Yarn Wall Hanging
1. I loved picking out all the colors of yarn I wanted to incorporate into the wall hanging. I choose a few greens that matched the duvet cover in the room and then selected contrasting colors and neutral colors for balance.

Yarn Wall Hanging
2. We measured how high we wanted the yarn wall hanging to be on the wall and then doubled the height to determine the length the yarn needed to be cut. For ours we wanted it pretty large so we cut all our yarn into individual 8 1/2 ft. pieces.

To do this quickly we wrapped all the yarn around a ladder (set to 8 1/2 feet). Then we cut all the yarn at once at both ends. We did this for each color of yarn.

DYarn Wall Hanging
3. After we cut all the yarn, we went on the search for a branch. We got our branch off a tree in our front yard. Don’t worry, it needed to be trimmed anyway. Win, Win. Before we used it we cut it to the length we wanted and then cut off all the knots on the branch.

We wanted a consistent surface and it didn’t really matter what most of the middle of the branch looked like since we were going to cover it up with yarn anyway.

Yarn Wall Hanging
4. To attach the yarn to the branch, we folded a piece in half and then ran the folded end under the branch. After laying the fold over the top of the branch, we pulled the two loose ends through the loop.

This created a simple knot that is often called a Lark’s Head Knot. We repeated this step with each strand of yarn varying the colors to create our desired pattern.

Yarn Wall Hanging
5. To hang the branch we tied it to a metal loop that is often used to hang curtains. The color of the metal ring was too dark for the look we were going for so we wrapped it with an extra piece of yarn to make it blend in and be less noticeable.

DIY Yarn Wall Art
6. We hung the metal ring on a cabinet pull knob. Instead of using the screw that came with the knob that is intended go through the face of cabinets, we used a double end threaded screw.

This allowed us to screw into the knob and into the wall making it secure enough to hold the wall hanging.

Yarn Wall Hanging
7. After we hung the branch and yarn wall hanging, we straightened the yarn to make sure all the strands were in the right place.

Yarn Wall Hanging
8. To provide a straightedge to cut the yarn we clamped the yarn where we wanted to cut between two boards.

Yarn Wall Hanging
9. Finally, we cut the yarn against the board. This shaped the bottom of the yarn and made it look even.

Yarn Wall Hanging
The branch and yarn wall hanging brings cheer, color and whimsy to our guest room. I love how it brightens up a blank wall. You know what else I adore about this project? How low maintenance it was to make. I did the majority of it while sitting on the couch watching TV at night.

Yarn Wall Hanging
Yarn Wall Hanging
From picking out the colors of yarn, to drawing up a pattern, hunting for the perfect branch and hanging up the finished product, this project was extremely fun to create.

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Yarn Wall Hanging

Invisible Bookends Decor

How to Make Invisible Bookends

In this super simple DIY tutorial we will show you how to create sturdy invisible bookends.

Invisible Bookends

After we built our floor to ceiling industrial shelves in our library it was a common occurrence for our large and really heavy books to just fall off the ends of our shelves. They would make a booming noise as they slammed against the tile below. No matter where we were in the house when books would fall it would scare us half to death.

We would joke that it must have been Walter (our friendly house ghost). It is a joke Brent and I have to blame Walter when doors get left open or lights start to flicker, the cat gets shut in a random room or books randomly fall off the shelf.

The truth was we had no bookends for our shelves so I tried to use our heaviest books on the end to act as bookends and keep the rest of the books propped up because I liked the books being able to free stand without anything pushed up against them. This worked for awhile until the weight of the books was too substantial for the large book and it came crashing down to the floor.

Thank goodness the cat was never walking by when that happened! We needed a lot of bookends for our large shelves and didn’t want to spend a ton of money on them. To keep the shelves from looking extremely cluttered, we planned to incorporate only a few decorative bookends and have the rest be as concealed as possible.

Even better would be if they were invisible. This is not a new concept, invisible bookends, but we challenged ourself to try and make them with materials we already had in our garage and found a straightforward way to make them that worked like a charm. They are both durable and simple to “install”.

Today we are sharing our technique for creating the visual effect of having books appear to be standing on their own but are actually being held nice and secure in place.

SUPPLIES

MATERIALS

  • 1 sheet of 16 gauge sheet metal
  • Scrap Wood
  • Sharpie
TOOLS

  • Offset snips
  • Clamp
  • Ruler

Invisible Bookends

HOW TO MAKE A DIY Log Side Table

Invisible Bookends
1. First we used a ruler to mark the correct size for the bookend on the piece of sheet metal. It is easiest to use a sharpie to draw on the metal. The width of the bookend should be at least two inches smaller than the book’s width.

The height of the piece of sheet metal needs to be almost twice the height of the book because you will be folding the piece of metal in half and you want it tall enough to support the book without sticking out the top.

Invisible Bookends
2. Once the size of the bookend was marked, we used a pair of snips to cut the metal. If you are planing on buying snips, pick a pair out that is angled and the blades turn at the end like this one.

The angled pairs are made to be specific for the right or left hand so be sure to pick the tool that matches your dominant hand. The angle in the tool works well for long cuts because the handles does not interfere with cutting the material.

Invisible Bookends
3. Finally, we bent the sheet metal in half. In order to bend the piece of metal it is helpful to clamp the sheet metal under a block of wood. The wood provides a straight edge for the metal to bend over. The bend should be made at the center of the piece of metal. Once the bend reaches 90 degree the bookend is finished.

Invisible Bookends
4. To make the bookend “invisible” place the vertical piece of metal inside the front cover.

Invisible Bookends
When you place additional books next to this book they will cover up the bottom piece of sheet metal making it appear as if the books are free standing on their own with no support. That means your invisible bookend is working!

Invisible Bookends
Our invisible bookends were a lifesaver on our shelves. The danger of falling books has now been prevented! Hidden sheet metal bookends are a great solution for keeping shelves clean and uncluttered. They also make for the perfect alternative if you don’t have a cat to hold up your books.

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Invisible Bookends

Library Ladder Decor

DIY Ladder for the Library

We are sharing how we built a DIY ladder for our home library to reach the top shelves of our large wall of industrial shelves.

DIY Ladder

Hey, Brent here. I’ve never said this out loud before but since the internet is the safest place to share your deepest and darkest secrets, I feel comfortable expressing that I fell in love with libraries after watching Beauty and the Beast. I can’t speak for Courtney but I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who wasn’t inspired to create their own library after watching the feelings of joy sweep across Belle’s face as she explored the Beast’s library only moments after being abducted.

So I got to thinking that it would only stand to reason that a guest that would willingly visit our home might be even more impressed to find a large library in our entryway.

A couple of months ago we shared how we turned our formal dining room into a library by building floor to ceiling bookshelves. We had a lot of positive feedback on our library shelves but two of the most common questions we received were, “What about a ladder?” and “How do you reach the top shelf?”

When we found out Better Homes and Gardens was coming to our home to photograph our library, it was finally the kick in the pants we needed to build a ladder for the bookshelves. Courtney and I have always been on the same page when it came to wanting a ladder for the library so it was awesome to finally make our dream a reality.

DIY Ladder
Here is the finished DIY ladder with my beauty. Isn’t the resemblance uncanny? Believe it or not I didn’t even have to kidnap her to get her to agree to this photo.

How to Build a DIY Ladder for Library Shelves

DIY Ladder
1. The design for our DIY ladder is fairly simple. We built it so each rung of the ladder has two dowel rods that extend through the vertical supports. Every other step screws into the vertical supports locking everything in place.

DIY Ladder
2. The top quarter of the ladder was cut at an angle and glued back together to create a bend. This allows the steps of the ladder to sit at a comfortable incline without extending too far away from the bookshelf.

DIY Ladder
3. Here is a candid behind the scenes photo of the ladder building process in the garage. Notice the extreme lack of organization that is happening in the background.

This is a realistic shot of what it looks like when you rush to build something between the very few hours of getting home from work and going to bed.

As the project progressed the pile of tools and leftover supplies grew larger and larger because cleaning during a project is not on my list of priorities. The pro to this approach is every tool in your garage is within hands reach.

The con is within reach usually means on the floor or some other inconvenient location for walking.

DIY Ladder
4. Once the ladder was assembled I got to be the first to test it. I didn’t get a photo of this part because the stakes were really high and I was afraid I might shed a few tears if anything went wrong.

I only had one shot and two days to get the ladder designed and built so it not only looked nice but was also functional and safe for the photoshoot.

Our first thoughts were to make a rolling ladder but then we decided that we would rather the ladder have a minimal design as to not take too much away from the shelves. Since the style of the ladder we built makes it light weight, it is easy to pick up and move to the spot we need to reach.

It is functional and adds character without overwhelming the already large and heavily occupied space. This decision ended up saving us quite a bit of money and the total cost to build the ladder came out to be about $60.

Our library is far from complete but getting closer with each project we finish. The ladder is a perfect addition to our bookshelves and one of our favorite parts of our library.

Don’t forget to check out how we built our large wall of industrial shelves.

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DIY Ladder

DIY Framed Chalkboard Decor

DIY Framed Chalkboard

How to build a custom sized framed chalkboard.

DIY Framed Chalkboard

I think it is safe to say large chalkboards have long since moved from being a staple item in classrooms to being a staple item in coffee shops. When looking for inspiration for our coffee bar, we looked at the interior design of lots of coffee shops (both in photos and in person). One of the common design choices we noticed is to utilize large chalkboards to display menus or art.

Having large chalkboards in the home is now becoming more popular as well to keep track of schedules or chores, weekly menu planning or allowing kids to conveniently express their creativity by having a place to draw on the wall (without actually drawing on the wall).

I love this idea because I always had a chalkboard hanging on my wall in my room when I was growing up. I loved to force er… I mean ask my little brother and his friends to play school with me. I was always the teacher of course.

We knew a chalkboard was a necessity for our breakfast nook to capture an authentic coffee bar feel. We just had to decide what form our chalkboard would take. When it came down to it we couldn’t make the commitment to painting the entire wall or even part of the wall with chalkboard paint since we just painted it gray. All the chalkboards we found to purchase were either not big enough or way too expensive.

We decided to create our own 7 foot framed chalkboard. This was the best solution for us because we could make it the exact length of the coffee bar, it would fill up the large wall and we could customize the frame to match the wood on the bar.

SUPPLIES

MATERIALS

  • 4 ft. x 8 ft. Piece of Hardboard Tempered Panel (also called masonite)
  • (3) 8 ft. Boards of Select Pine
  • Chalkboard Paint
  • Foam Roller
  • D-Ring Hangers
  • Chalk Markers & Chalk
TOOLS

  • Electric Sander + Sandpaper
  • Drill

DIY Framed Chalkboard

HOW TO MAKE A DIY Framed Chalkboard

DIY Framed Chalkboard
1. The first step was to make our frame. We taped the two boards that would be on the opposite sides of the frame together. We taped the two longer horizontal pieces together and then taped the two shorter vertical pieces together.

This allowed us to make one cut through two boards and guaranteed that the matching sides of the frame would be the exact same size. After we cut the frames, we stained them with a Kona stain to match the wood on the coffee bar.

DIY Framed Chalkboard
2. For the chalkboard surface we used a piece of masonite board. We chose to use this material because it was really cheap (less than $10 for a 4ft. x 8ft. piece) and it has a smooth finish. However, with no prep the chalkboard paint would most likely flake off the board.

To prevent this, we sanded the entire surface with 200 grit sand paper. It provides enough tooth for the paint to have something to grab but it does not make it too rough where the paint surface would look scratchy or bumpy.

DIY Framed Chalkboard
3. We planned to glue the frame to the chalkboard with wood glue so we taped off an area of the board before we applied the paint. We knew the glue wouldn’t adhere well to the chalkboard paint so we needed to make sure we still had an area of the original board to attach the frame.

DIY Framed Chalkboard
4. To apply the chalkboard paint we used a foam roller. It worked really well to create a smooth finish. It took us two coats to ensure that all areas where completely and evenly covered.

DIY Framed Chalkboard
5. After we finished painting the board, we let it dry for awhile.

DIY Framed Chalkboard
6. When it came time to attach the pieces of the frame to the board, we pulled off the tape and applied wood glue to the unpainted area of the board. To avoid applying too much glue and having the glue squeeze out from under the frame onto the chalkboard surface, we applied the glue sparingly with a paintbrush.

DIY Framed Chalkboard
7. After the glue was applied to one side, we clamped the piece of the frame to the chalkboard to hold the two pieces together so they had time to dry. The pressure of the clamp can mess up the finish of the wood so as always we place a piece of scrap wood between the clamp and the frame.

DIY Framed Chalkboard
8. Once the frame was clamped to the board we attached the pieces of the frame together and the frame to the board with screws. This provided extra strength to the bond and made sure everything was nice and secure.

DIY Framed Chalkboard
9. After we completed our framed chalkboard we added D-Ring hangers to the back and hung it above our coffee bar.

DIY Framed Chalkboard
10. We designed what we wanted our chalkboard art to look like in PhotoShop first. I have pretty good handwriting but it was going to be nearly impossible with the scale of the chalkboard to make everything straight and scaled evenly.

I wanted the design to be personalized but also fairly minimal and clean. We worked in some common coffee shop phrases like “Served Fresh Daily”. But I am thinking about adding our additional slogan, “At Gray House Studio Coffee, it’s not made until you make it yourself”. I printed out a copy of our design as reference.

DIY Framed Chalkboard
11. Then we used a projector to display the graphic we designed on the computer onto the chalkboard to trace. I would recommend doing this in a dark room or at night but since we were in a bit of a rush I did most of the tracing in the middle of the day with the sun shining through the windows so it was really hard to see what I was tracing.

I started out being able to see okay but by the end I was free handing the mugs at the bottom which got a little frustrating and intimidating. But the beauty of chalk art is it does not have to look perfect and it is not permanent! So we can always come back and change up the design and fix any of the major flaws. I can’t even tell you how many times I redid the Cafe Latte mug before I finally had to admit that was as good as it was going to get and move on.

It took about six hours by the time I traced, drew and shaded everything and my arm fell asleep from holding it over my head for so long but I am really proud of how it turned out. Jake (the cat) mostly just supervised and photo bombed.

DIY Framed Chalkboard
12. We used these Bistro Chalk Markers and they worked so well! After some experimenting, I found that writing with the chalk markers is the way to go for sure. The fat tip one works really well for outlining because it makes for smooth, thick lines that you have quite a bit of control over.

I used the thin one for smaller details and smaller text where I wanted to trace over the words several times to make the letters thicker giving it a shaded appearance.

We used regular chalk to do all the shading. It is messy and provides a lot of chalk dust but I think it gives it an authentic old fashioned chalkboard feel.

DIY Framed Chalkboard
A large framed chalkboard is a fun element to incorporate into the home. Whether they are intended to be functional, as art or both they bring personality to a room. They are especially perfect for home coffee bars to create that cozy and eclectic coffee bar feel.

DIY Framed Chalkboard
We love creating our own framed chalkboard because it really allowed us to get creative both in the size and the appearance of the chalkboard. Having the framed chalkboard span the entire wall of our breakfast nook really catches our guests attention and makes it one of our favorite spaces in our home.

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DIY Framed Chalkboard

Picture Frame Planter Decor

DIY Picture Frame Planter Box

If you are looking for a special homemade gift or you just want to build one for your own home, we are sharing how we built picture frame planter boxes. Plus, free PDF of the plans to help you build!

DIY Picture Frame Planter

Brent bought me the cutest picture frame planter last year for our anniversary. It had two tiny succulents that were adorable. And wouldn’t you know I killed one right off the bat. I am just horrible at keeping plants alive, even little succulents. But I would like to make it known that the other one is still hanging in there, it just looks very lonely.

Anyway, I liked that framed planter so much that I wanted two more so I could hang three in our bathroom (the only place I can keep plants alive). But I could not find the one he bought anywhere. However after looking at it closer we realized that it would be pretty easy and inexpensive to just build them ourselves.

Then it hit me, I enjoyed getting that picture frame planter box so much as a gift last year that I thought it would make for a perfect Mother’s Day gift. Plus, by making them ourselves we can customize them for each mom.

SUPPLIES

MATERIALS

  • Wood cut to size (see plans below for more details)
  • Stain or paint of your choice (we used weathered gray stain)
  • Finishing nails
  • Plant of your choice (we used an artificial plant)
TOOLS

  • Staple gun & staples
  • Hammer

DIY Picture Frame Planter

FREE PLANS

If you are interested in making your own picture frame planter box, feel free to download our plans below and download our “Love You Mom” mini banner PDF.

Gray House Studio Picture Frame Planter Box Plans

Download Free Planter Box Plans

HOW TO BUILD A Picture Frame Planter Box

DIY Picture Frame Planter
1. First we built the frame. We collected the four pieces of wood we cut for the frame and pieced it together. Then using the staple gun we stapled the pieces together at the joints to make the frame. We stapled each corner on both the front and back.

DIY Picture Frame Planter
Here is the finished frame.

DIY Picture Frame Planter
2. Next, we built the rim of the box. Our staple gun also uses finishing nails so we switched the staple gun over to finishing nails and nailed the sides of the box together.

DIY Picture Frame Planter
3. Although the staple gun is easy and convenient, it is not always powerful enough to go all the way through the boards but that is not a problem. We just came back and hammered the nails into the boards. If you are not using a staple gun, you can just hammer finishing nails into the boards.

DIY Picture Frame Planter
4. Once we assembled the rim of the box, we got ready to connect it to the frame. We lined up the bottom of the box with the bottom of the frame.

DIY Picture Frame Planter
5. We nailed through the face of the frame into the rim of the box close to the inside of the frame.

DIY Picture Frame Planter
This is what the assembled frame and rim of the box looks like.

DIY Picture Frame Planter
6. Next, we created the back of the box by attaching three thin slats of wood. You can also use one large piece as well.

DIY Picture Frame Planter
7. We secured the back slats to the rim of the box with a staple gun.

DIY Picture Frame Planter
DIY Picture Frame Planter
This is what the completed picture frame planter box looked like.

DIY Picture Frame Planter
8. Next, we stained the box. We used a weathered gray stain (Surprise we didn’t use a kona stain this time!) but the possibilities are endless with what color stain or paint color you can choose depending on the style you are going for.

DIY Picture Frame Planter
9. Once the planter box dried, we created our own simple artificial plant arrangement and added it the box. You can add your choice of live or artificial plants both would work great. We love this planter because it is really versatile. You can set it on a table or attach picture frame hooks to the back and hang it up on a wall.

DIY Picture Frame Planter
If you are keeping it for yourself, then you are done! But we took it a step further since we will be giving it as a Mother’s Day gift. We wanted to give it a festive touch so we made a little “Love You Mom” banner.

The picture frame planter box is a really simple project that only take about an hour to put together. It is completely customizable, versatile and chances are you have most of the supplies in your garage. Whether you are making it for yourself or someone else, they make for an awesome decor piece. Let’s just hope our moms don’t read this post and spoil the surprise.

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DIY Picture Frame Planter

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack Decor

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack

Our latest DIY project for our guest bathroom was to make a DIY metal hook towel rack by creating our own metal hooks.

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack

Saturday, Brent and I worked on building the last small project in our guest bathroom, a DIY metal hook towel rack. We wanted to replace the generic silver towel bar that was currently in the bathroom with one that has more character and charm and matches our new floating shelves we built and our mirror frames.

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack

We went full DIY on this project down to creating the hooks ourselves by bending metal rods. This was our first time doing anything of the blacksmith nature but we really wanted to have complete control over the look of the hooks. It took a few trial runs before we figured out how to get it to look like we wanted. We finally got a consistent pattern down where we could make each hook look identical. It was a two person job.

Brent did the bending while I held the torch! The metal hooks were definitely the most time consuming part of the project so after we finished shaping the hooks, the rest of the project went super fast. We are really pleased with the finished result. Check out how we made our metal hook towel rack below.

How We Made Our DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack
1. We started out by measuring the length of the piece of metal rod we needed for each hook. Then, Brent used a metal cutting attachment for his drill to cut the rod so we had five equal pieces.

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack
2. To secure the rod before we began bending it, Brent made a jig by drilling a hole in a block of wood and wedged a screw next to the rod to hold it in place. Once it was in place, we used a torch to heat the metal where we intended to bend the rod.

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack
3. When the metal turned orange, we knew it was hot enough to bend. We kept moving the torch around on the rod until we were able to bend it completely around the pipe which formed the first loop.

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack
4. Once we got it to be the shape we wanted, we pulled it off the pipe and dunked it water to cool it off. We used pliers the entire time to handle the metal rod to ensure that no unexpected burns took place.

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack
5. Here are what the five hooks looked like after we finished the first loop. We did each section on all five hooks at one time to keep the look consistent. We laid them all out to compare them and made sure they looked even before moving on to the next step.

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack
6. We continued the process of heating the metal and bending it to form each loop of the hook.

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack
7. For the final bend, where we turned the top and bottom loops into hooks, I held the torch on the metal as Brent used a hammer to bend it around the pipe. The metal sparked as he hammered it which made us feel like real blacksmiths!

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack
The finished metal hooks.

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack
8. To create the bracket that attaches the hook to the board, Brent used offset snips to cut
thin gauge sheet metal into small squares.

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack
9. To shape the metal squares into the correct form for the bracket, we clamped them between two blocks of wood and bent them by hand.

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack
10. We drilled holes on both sides of the metal bracket and then placed the bracket over the metal hook and screwed it to the board.

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack
11. Finally, we screwed the board into the wall. To hide the wall anchors, Brent placed them behind the hook so they would be concealed once the bracket was placed over it. We also cleaned the metal hooks and brackets.

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack
Our finished DIY metal hook towel rack.

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack

DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack
Now there are lots of hooks for our guests to hang their towels!

This was our last small project in the guest bathroom and it and the other projects have definitely helped transform this small bathroom into a much more inviting space. I love how all the elements match and flow together. I am really happy with how our guest bathroom is coming along.

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DIY Metal Hook Towel Rack

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Framing Prints Decor

Framing Prints (Plus, a free artwork download)

Our technique for easily and inexpensively framing prints printed from your home printer to make them look high quality. Plus, a free artwork download.

Framing Prints Gray House Studio

Hello! I hope you all had a fantastic Easter. Brent’s parents came to Houston and we had a great time visiting with them for the long weekend. But just because we had company, didn’t mean the home projects came to a halt, they got in on the action! Brent and his mom worked together on Saturday to build a towel rack for her bathroom. It turned our really nice. Here is the finished product.

We also managed to squeeze in a quick and simple art project yesterday afternoon. Today we are sharing that project as well as an inexpensive technique to frame prints straight from your home printer so you can get an expensive art look on a limited budget.

Brent’s undergraduate degree is in printmaking and when we were framing the print for our guest bathroom, he had a really cool idea to turn a $5 dollar digital print into a high end work of art. We replicated that process with an original watercolor painting that Brent made this weekend to frame in our guest bedroom.

Framing Prints Gray House Studio
Brent is a talented artist, I can’t draw to save my life. Which is funny because we were in the same art class together in 12th grade. I couldn’t pick up the skill but that may be because I spent most of my time trying to think of ways to “accidentally” kick Brent’s feet under the table to get his attention so he would talk to me.

I threw out ideas of creating a minimal piece that captured our dreamy backyard and Brent made it come to life with watercolors. If you have the artistic ability to paint or draw then the first step would obviously be to create your work of art. If you are like me and not as skilled with watercolors as Brent, then there are lots of really cool prints that are fairly inexpensive on Etsy as digital downloads or you can download this watercolor print Brent made for free at the bottom of this post

Below Brent explains his technique for framing prints.

Framing Prints and Artwork

Framing Prints Gray House Studio
1. Traditionally, fine art prints are printed on thick 100% cotton paper with a torn edge. I replicated this effect with paper that we found at an arts and crafts store. The typical size of this paper is 19.5″ by 25.5″ so I had to tear it down to size. When tearing the paper down to the size, I measured at least 2 inches in from the edge so I had enough paper to hold on to.

Framing Prints Gray House Studio
2. Before tearing the paper, I flipped my ruler over so it was upside-down with the metal edge flush against the paper. For a consistent edge all the way around the artwork, I always place the ruler on the paper I plan to use and pull the extra paper. Don’t worry, I know what you are thinking, but you don’t have to have hairy arms to be good at tearing paper it just takes practice.

Framing Prints Gray House Studio
3. For this project I tore my paper down to legal size 8.5″ x 14″.

Framing Prints Gray House Studio
4. I scanned my watercolor piece into the computer for the purpose of this project so I could print it. I placed the paper in our home printer and made sure to select the same size paper I tore. I also made sure the paper setting was set to “best” or “photo” quality and “cardstock”.

Framing Prints Gray House Studio
5. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when I make artwork. A crease in the paper of any fine art is highly frowned upon so I stand and wait to grab the print from the printer to avoid having the printer throw it on the floor when it is finished printing.

Framing Prints Gray House Studio
6. When printing on legal sized paper there is a lot of white space above and below the image. I never trust the printer to center the image on the paper exactly so this extra space allows me to tear off paper on the top and bottom of the page to center the image.

Framing Prints Gray House Studio
7. The final size I tore my paper down to is 8.5″ x 11.5″ because the mat opening in the frame is 10″ x 13″. This give some space all the way around the artwork to show off the print’s torn edges. I used an additional piece of the same paper I tore behind the torn piece with the image to fill in the gap between the artwork and the mat.

Framing Prints Gray House Studio
Here is the finished product. The torn edges and layering two pieces of paper gives the print depth and reflects a more traditional fine art piece. If you are interested in trying out this technique of framing prints and need a print, feel free to download Brent’s watercolor print for FREE!

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Framing Prints Gray House Studio

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Decor

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top

We created a DIY distressed mirror table top for an outdoor table that we got for free.

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top

Based on our love of the outdoors, we have been inspired to create functional, comfortable and a tad bid whimsical/dreamy spaces outside on our back patio and our front porch where Brent and I can enjoy time outside together eating, reading or in Brent’s case, napping. We have a porch swing on one side of our front porch that is my absolute favorite to sit and swing during Houston rain storms.

On the other side we purchased two adirondack chairs to go with an outdoor coffee table that was give to us. The chairs match the table perfectly and the table is really nice, the only problem was that the glass top had broken and been removed (hence why the table was given to us free of charge).

For almost a year now we have had this table with no top. And a table with no top is not very useful. Which brings us to today’s project, a DIY distressed mirror table top.

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio

We used a piece of left over mirror from our bathroom mirror cutting project as the top (to replace the glass) for our porch table. Brent distressed it to make the mirror appear worn and dull and it turned out so cool!

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio

Here is how we received the table. It was in great condition and all it needed was a piece of glass. Score! That should be easy. Or so we thought. We could not find a piece of 1/4″ plate glass for less than a new table would cost.

Then, while Brent was working on framing the mirrors he had the genius idea to cut a piece of the left over mirror from the bathroom to use as the table top.

We decided to age the mirror because we thought a normal mirror might be a little too “glam” and not fit with the style of the frame of the table and distressing the mirror created a unique look that is be more unified with our other furniture on the porch.

SUPPLIES

MATERIALS

  • Mirror
  • Paint Stripper (we used Tuff-Strip)
  • Chemical resistant rubber gloves (for the muriatic acid)
  • Muriatic Acid
  • Empty Spray Bottle
  • Paper Towels
  • Scrap Wood
  • Spray Paint (oil-rubbed bronze, gold, black)
  • Cardboard
TOOLS

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio

How We Created Our DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio
1. We decided to use some scrap cardboard (old moving box) as our work surface for this messy project. It is thick enough to stop spills from quickly penetrating through to the surface below and cheap enough to recycle/throw away after.

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio
2. The back of mirrors are coated with a layer of paint that protects the mirror finish. To age the mirror we first removed this paint to expose the mirror coating. To do this we liberally coated the surface with paint thinner and let it sit until the paint started to loosen and bubble.

**Brent almost learned an important lesson the hard way when the wind started to pick up and blow the paint stripper. He started the project 3 feet from his relatively new car. The paint stripper we used is unforgiving so we quickly moved somewhere more remote protected from the wind.

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio
3. With gloves on, Brent was able to easily scrape off all the paint with a scrap piece of wood and expose the mirror finish. We learned why old mirrors turn shades of gold when they deteriorate. The back side of the mirror, hidden by paint, was reflective gold instead of silver.

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio
4. With the back side of the mirror clean and dry, Brent put on chemical resistant gloves and loaded the spray bottle with muriatic acid.

NOTE: Always use extreme caution when working with muriatic acid! It can burn you and corrode/destroy a lot of materials. After about 10-20 seconds of sitting on the surface, the areas we sprayed became totally see through. It is easier to spray some areas and then wipe them clean and keep going more until you reach the desired finish.

You can always remove more mirror finish but you can’t put it back.

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio
5. The mirror was now transparent where Brent sprayed the acid.

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio
6. To create a more complex finish, Brent started coating the mirror with an oil-rubbed bronze spray paint and wiped some areas away. We didn’t want the mirror to be gold where it wasn’t silver.

Most antique mirrors we have come seen have had various shades of black, gray, gold and silver. So Brent started with the oil-rubbed bronze and wiped areas clean that helped it have a more authentic look.

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio
7. Once the oil-rubbed bronze had time to dry, Brent coated the entire mirror with gold spray paint. The gold paint is only visible in areas where he wiped away the oil-rubber bronze paint.

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio
8. Finally, Brent coated the back of the mirror with black spray paint to protect the rear of the mirror like the original gray coating. After it dried, he used the existing clips to attach the mirror to the table.

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio
DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio

One of my favorite things about our home is our front porch. When we were house shopping and walked up to this house and I saw our front porch for the first time I was pretty much sold on buying the house and I hadn’t even seen the inside yet. I just fell in love with the porch and all the potential I could see it had. This table with a DIY distressed mirror table top is the perfect addition to it.

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio

I loved styling this little area of the patio by adding a rug and a new planter with hydrangeas, my favorite! I love how this space turned out. It makes for the best spot to sit and have long conversations analyzing the latest Survivor episode.

DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio

We used this distressed mirror for our table top but we imagine there are tons of applications for this. Have you distressed a mirror? We would love to know how you decorated with it. Please share your ideas in the comments section.

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DIY Distressed Mirror Table Top Gray House Studio