Sunday, October 8, 2017


Cottage Style Bathroom Shelf

Storage space was a big issue when moving into our Florida cottage fulltime.  We were downsizing from 3600 square feet to under 2000.   Needless to say, we had to declutter our lives and make the adjustment to smaller spaces.  Our master bathroom was a good example of a significant adjustment to a smaller space.  We were losing a linen closet. Everything needed to fit under the sinks or on the set of shelves we had just put up in a niche on the wall (those shelves created a great place to store towels and I used two large baskets to store our stash of toilet paper and facial tissues).  See photo below:

Bathroom Shelves
Shelves in niche for towels and baskets

The bar is a solution to hang dry laundry.  Our washer and dryer fit in a very small laundry closet, so this is the only space we could come up with for this purpose.  The bar is removable, so I can take it down when not in use. 

Still on the lookout for more storage opportunities - I came up with the following.  Originally, we had hooks on the wall to hang towels and my bath robe, but I wasn't crazy about how it looked.  I felt like we could make it look better, all while adding a little more functionality (integrating the hooks within a shelf to allow for even more storage).  Here is the plan I dreamed up in my head. The orange bars in the graphic below represent the hooks.

Plan for Cottage Style Shelf
Plan for Cottage Style Shelf

It's actually even more simple than the plans seem to indicate.  See the below photos - it's just two pieces of wood and a couple shelf brackets.  I was able to go to Lowe's and have them cut the wood boards to the lengths I wanted, and I found the pre-made shelf brackets there as well.   That's it for cutting - no need to do any more cutting at home.

  1. 1x8 for top of shelf
  2. 1x8 for back of shelf
  3. 2 shelf brackets (These were from Lowes)
  4. 4 Hooks (I think I bought these at Target years ago)
  5. Screws
  6. Primer & Paint
  7. Wood Filler

Wood Pieces for Bathroom Shelf
Painted Shelf Pieces

I pre-primed and painted the shelf pieces. (Two coats of primer and two coats of paint.)   I knew I would have to use wood filler and touch up the paint after attaching the pieces with screws and mounting it to the wall, but that was OK.

Shelf Brackets
Painted  Shelf Brackets

Screws were the only other items I needed to complete this project. In my miscellaneous jar of screws, I found some long flat heads.  The flat heads were important as they would enable us to counter-sink them a bit, so I could fill in with wood filler over top of them and hide them altogether.  We drilled pilot holes for every screw so that we didn't have any issues with the wood splitting.

STEP 1: Installing the brackets to the back of the shelf piece.  I used four screws to mount the brackets to the back-plate of the shelf. (two through the back of the shelf going forward into each bracket, being careful not to poke through the front of the brackets).

STEP 2: Installing the top shelf piece to the brackets and back piece.  I used five screws to connect the top to the back and brackets. (two through the top of the shelf down into each bracket, being careful not to poke through the front of the brackets; one from the top/back of shelf down into the back plate of shelf )

STEP 3: Mounting the shelf to the wall.  I used four screws to mount the shelf to the wall (through the back piece and into wall studs.)  NOTE: the screws were not "centered" on the shelf but they were spaced well enough to support the shelf, and I knew I would be covering up the screw heads with wood filler anyway, so the fact they were off-center didn't matter to me aesthetically.
Let me say that because the shelf was screwed into two wall studs - I am confident that it can hold the towels in addition to the items on top.  I would highly recommend finding a spot where wall studs are available,  otherwise the whole setup might be precarious if using only something like drywall anchors.

Cottage Style Bathroom Shelf

It was necessary to calk between the pieces and also where the shelf met the wall.  I was hoping to skip this step, but my husband was right - it looks a lot more finished and professional.  After completing the calking, it looks like it's been there since the house was built and was meant to be there.

Basket for Wash ClothsJars for Cotton Rounds & Q-Tips

Hobnail Style Bowl for Soap

I have to admit - overall the shelf does not provide for all that much more storage, but it does provide a little, and I think it looks cute.  The glass jars and bowls were purchased at Homegoods, and the small brown basket at Tuesday Morning.  The jars hold a large back-up stash of cotton rounds and Q-Tips.  The bowl is storage for extra bars of soap, and the basket is where I keep a small supply of wash cloths within reach of my sink.

Next project on the master bathroom - replacing the large plate glass mirror over the vanity area with oval tilt-style mirrors, and painting the whole bathroom a soft blue that matches the quilt in the master bedroom.  The soft yellow paint is pretty, but there is a lot of it in the house and I have wanted to break it up a little more by painting the master bathroom. Another project for another day...

For more beach cottage posts see my Beach Cottage page.

Monday, June 26, 2017


Distressed White Mini Chandelier - Vaseline Technique

One of the neatest things about this project is that it is a "double-upcycle".  I say that because I bought it at the local Habitat for Humanity Restore, and when I brought it home - I realized it was originally a brass chandelier that had been spray painted with what looked like a dark bronze paint.  It had a few scratches but I think it looked pretty good as is.  However, I was looking to do a white distressed finish, so the finish on the chandelier wasn't so important to me.

The other interesting thing about this fixture is that it was actually a large double layer fixture.  I needed a mini chandelier for a small bedroom with only 8 foot ceilings.  The original large fixture would never have worked in there. 

The neat thing about chandeliers of this type, is they are constructed of separate pieces layered to create a complete fixture.  It was fairly easy to disassemble - just unscrew the elements.  My husband helped with this process and also the re-wiring.  Fortunately, the bottom layer had separate spliced wires that just needed to be undone, and then the wiring put back together with just the smaller top layer intact.

The inspiration for the finish I was attempting came from Pinterest.  I really liked the distressed look of this lantern style fixture with the dark brown base with the white paint as the top coat.  I figured I could reproduce this look by using the Vaseline and/or candlewax paint distressing technique I had used on other pieces.  Vaseline helps provide a chipped paint look by doing a good job of exposing larger areas of the base layer paint.  This method works because the Vaseline prevents your top coat from adhering to the base coat, and the top layer can be scraped right off.

The Amelie Distressed Chandelier is perfect lighting for an entrance hall, bathroom or even back porch area. This light fixture is big on style and will enhance your French country home. $1,937.50

The candlesticks were white and I wasn't sure what I should do with those.  I decided to leave them white and I could always paint them or wrap them in twine later. I wrapped them in paper so they wouldn't get painted while I was distressing the piece.

I started with a quick coat of brown paint to make sure I was covering up the existing scratches exposing that exposed the shiny brash finish.  I have found that using our ladder and suspending the fixture underneath it - makes a great way to easily paint the entire fixture, as it enables you to spray at every angle to coat every surface.  That is just an old piece of wood across the frame of the ladder, and then I tied the fixture to the piece of wood.  The wiring for the chandelier is covered in a plastic bag to prevent paint from getting on it.

Chandelier suspended under ladder to accommodate spray painting
I waited until the brown paint was completely dry.  I let the paint cure for days before doing the next part.  (In part to allow the paint to completely harden, and in part because the weather was too cold to do any more spray painting, so I had to wait awhile anyway.)

Finally, the weather warmed up and I had an opportunity to proceed with this project.  I decided to use just Vaseline (no candlewax) on this piece and concentrate on the edges to get a chipped paint look, rather than a more weathered look like the inspiration photo.  I applied the Vaseline with a small artist brush.  When doing this - I think it is important to keep in mind the perspective the chandelier will be viewed from. In this case, it doesn't matter what you can see from above, because the top of the chandelier won't be visible to anyone when it is hanging in the room.  I sat underneath the chandelier when deciding where to apply the Vaseline, because that is the perspective one would have looking up at the chandelier on the ceiling. 

Vaseline applied on top of brown paint.
Vaseline applied on top of brown paint.

Vaseline applied on top of brown paint.
When applying the Vaseline you have to keep track of what you are doing.  In other words, keep track of where you are applying it because it can be difficult to see and you may end up missing big areas.  Because of this - Gooping on the Vaseline is OK, and will help you see it better.  This is OK because you will be spray painting over it anyway (and ultimately it comes off), AND the gooped up Vaseline will help show you where to scrape off the top layer of paint.

  1. When applying the Vaseline - "Goop it on pretty heavy".  It will allow you to see where you applied it.  This is helpful in the application as well as the distressing step.  For the distressing, in other words, you will be able to see where you can scrape off the paint.
  2. Also when applying the Vaseline - Be careful not to touch and disrupt where you have already applied it.  I made a point of handing only the loop on the bottom so I could turn the chandelier without any concern and then applied Vaseline to that loop last.
The next step was the white layer of spray paint over top of the brown paint and Vaseline.  Just spray right over it and let it dry.  You can see from the photos below, that if you have used a good amount of Vaseline - you can see where to scrape off the white paint to expose the brown layer underneath.  I use a plastic putty-knife to scrape off the layer of white paint.  A metal one has a tendency to scratch up the paint.  I wanted to avoid inadvertently scraping the brown paint off and exposing the brass underneath.

Once you have scraped off the top layer of paint where all the Vaseline was applied, you will need to clean up the piece.  The whole thing will feel kind of greasy from the remnants of the Vaseline.  I find a rag and all purpose cleaner works just fine.  I did not feel the need to coat it with a spray polyurethane to finish off the piece, but that could be an option.

  • Spray Paint (2 colors - a base layer to expose, and a top coat)
  • Vaseline & Small Artist Brush
  • Plastic Putty Knife
  • Rag and All Purpose Cleaner

Here's a few photos of the finished chandelier hung in one of the guest rooms in our beach cottage.
Distressed White Mini Chandelier - Vaseline Technique

Distressed White Mini Chandelier - Vaseline Technique

Distressed White Mini Chandelier - Vaseline Technique

Distressed White Mini Chandelier - Vaseline Technique

If you are interested in a general overview of some DISTRESSING TECHNIQUES, see my post here which covers the use of SANDPAPER, CANDLEWAX and VASELINE.

For more beach cottage posts see my Beach Cottage page.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


This is a project where "keeping it simple" was the key.  The chandelier was a freebee from a friend of ours.   Our friend does a lot of maintenance and remodeling work, and he thought I might re-work it and find a place for it.   At first it looked like just a dingy brown chandelier. It was larger than what I was looking for at the time (I was looking for a small one to go in one of the guest bedrooms in our beach cottage).  However, I realized we could fit a fixture this size over the bathtub in the master bathroom.  The installation would be easy since there was already a recessed can centered over the bathtub on a separate switch.

I wasn't quite sure what finish I wanted to do on this chandelier.  I had all sorts of crazy ideas.  After a little cleanup - the brown chandelier didn't look half bad.  Here are the options I considered.

  1. Paint it a high gloss white
  2. A distressed white painted finish (brown base with white top coat distressed to expose some of the brown base)
  3. Wrap the entire fixture in rope/twine
  4. Leave it brown
  5. Regardless of the base color of the chandelier - wrapping just the candlesticks in twine
  6. There were also tiny lampshades for each candlestick that I wasn't sure if we were going to use.  They were a dingy beige color, a little dirty, and could be spray-painted a matte white to clean them up.
Fortunately, a conversation with a friend about the project helped me determine what to do and helped me focus on a simple refurbishment.  Our friend, Christine, pointed out that a brown chandelier would tie in nicely with the existing brown cabinetry in the bathroom.  Also, we discussed how the fixture was going to hang over the turtle mosaic on the wall, and keeping the chandelier simple was probably a good idea so it would not compete with the mosaic.  Another good point is going with the existing brown finish would keep the options open; if we didn't like how it looked - we could always consider painting it white or trying some other finish.  I'm so glad I talked to Christine to help me figure this out!

Ultimately, I went with options #4 & #5 (Leave it brown and cover the candlesticks in twine).  This meant the only significant change I made to the chandelier was to wrap the candlesticks in twine.  I already had some twine on hand so this project was still free.  The tiny lampshades for each candlestick were still an option, but we decided to wait and see what it looked like without them first.

The installation was done by the same friend who gave us the chandelier.  He found a kit to retrofit an existing recessed can for a chandelier which made the process of installation easier.  I had originally thought we needed to remove the can and install a whole new bracket (either suspended between the beams or attached directly to a beam). This method would have also required a small ceiling medallion to entirely cover the hole from the recessed can).  The cool thing is that the kit we ended up using came with a ceiling medallion, so there was no need to buy a separate one.

Here are some other photos of the completed chandelier in the bathroom.

For now I think we are going to leave the tiny lamp shades off, but maybe I'll give them a try at some point.

For more beach cottage posts see my Beach Cottage page.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


The driftwood wreath was a housewarming gift from friends.  It originally was hung by itself in the master bedroom, but felt like it was a little small for the space.  I liked the wreath and I realized it just needed a little help.  I decided to find something to hang with it, the goal being to make the wreath feel more substantial.    I considered options like a metal gate or just a decorative metal piece, but what was finding seemed too busy, and would distract from the pretty texture of the driftwood.  Ultimately, I realized I needed something simple, and a basic weathered window frame would enable the wreath to continue to be the star of the show, while serving the purpose of making it work on the large wall.

With the addition of the window behind it, the wreath no longer looks like it's just floating on the big wall above the dresser.

I looked at several options for windows.  I decided on the "four-pane" over the "six-pane" for simplicity's sake.

Distressing the window further was an option, but in the end I just cleaned it up and left it as is.  The white paint was not lead paint (I tested it). However, it had some exposed paint underneath on the back, which I determined was lead paint (one good reason not to try to distress the piece any further). So, I encapsulated the whole frame in a few heavy coats of polyurethane.

I'm now happy with the vignette on this side of the room.  There is a good triangle composition created with the dresser, the items on top of it, and the wreath on the wall.  I also like how the wreath now seems to be a stronger focal point than the TV.
For more beach cottage posts see my Beach Cottage page.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


After watching a few episodes of "Fixer Upper" on HGTV, I got inspired to head to our local antique store to do some browsing.  Our beach cottage is in pretty good shape, but there are a few areas I'm still keeping an eye out for the perfect idea.  While shopping, I typically take photos of items that grab my attention with my phone.  This is so I can go home and think about where the items can be utilized.  This bathtub full of wagon-wheel-brackets caught my eye. . .

I think the wagon-wheel-brackets looked particularly interesting to me because I had just painted the spindles on our banister white (see photo below), and the spindle characteristics of these brackets would tie in nicely to the whole cottage feel we are going for.

In addition, I love it when I come across anything in the category of architectural salvage.  I think it is a great way to bring character into a newer home.

My first thought when I see any type of bracket like this, is using them for shelf supports for a rectangular shelf, but I couldn't picture a good place for a long shelf like this.  Then it dawned on me - how about using these to create a corner shelves?  The dining room had a vacant spot (we had thrown around the idea of finding an old surfboard to prop in the corner, but it hadn't happened yet, and I was starting to doubt we would find one that was reasonably priced, and looked good).  Corner shelves would work out perfectly - two brackets could be used in the corners with a pie shaped shelves mounted on top to create a corner shelf; so with four brackets we could create two shelves.

Empty Corner Wall in Dining Room

In addition to working well in the corner of the dining room - the shelves would help create balance in the whole great room area.   The opposite corner of the great room had a couple old style rope-boat-bumpers (see photo below).  I was having trouble picturing something that would balance out the corner on the other side of the room in the dining room - the idea of corner shelves was ideal for this purpose.

Opposite Corner of Great Room - Boat Bumpers

My husband wasn't completely sold on the idea of the corner shelves.  I have to admit, some of my crazy ideas don't work out, however, I readily concede in those cases.  This is a project I felt pretty confident about, and I pushed forward despite his reluctance.  For the record - he didn't like the idea of the yellow cabana stripe fabric on the dining room chairs (see photo below), nor did he like the idea of me painting the bar stools aqua blue (also see photo below) - once he saw the finished products he really likes them.  I recently considered putting a different fabric on a couple of the yellow striped dining chairs and now he doesn't want me to change them :o)


When I held the wagon wheel brackets up in the corner - they seemed a bit "busy".  The pieces needed screws removed and some cleaning up.  I felt that painting them the same clean color white of the trim would enable them blend in more, as ultimately the items placed on the shelves would be the focal point of the space anyway.

Here are the plans I came up with.   I enlisted the help of my husband and his friend to put these shelves together.

Based on my plans I needed to purchase the following:

  • MDF (enough to create the pie shaped shelves)
  • 2x2 pieces (for the braces for the back of the shelf, one for each shelf)
  • Keyhole Brackets for hanging (I purchased 2 for each shelf, but only ended up using one per shelf to hang them).
  • Prime & Paint

Wagon Wheel Brackets Primed and Painted
MDF ready to cut for shelves

Pieces of wood purchased for corner supports (to attach brackets).

Keyhole Anchors for mounting shelf on wall.
These will be placed on the corner support wood pieces above.

We used a piece of wood in the corner to provide support for the brackets, and then cut a wedge shaped piece of MDF to go on top for the shelf.   The front edge of the shelf was routed to create a curved edge.  This was to mimic the edge that already existed on the ends of the wagon wheel brackets.   All the pieces were primed and painted the white trim color prior to installation.  I decided I could do some touch up later if I needed to.

My husband decided it would be best to assemble these shelves in place.  His concern is that the walls in the corner where they were to be hung were not perfectly square.  I'm so glad we went with this approach because he was absolutely right!  The walls were slightly less than a 90 degree angle and this would have created issues had we pre-assembled the shelves prior to trying to hang them.

To install on the wall, we started with the 2x2 pieces.  My husband and friend had mounted the keyhole brackets on the back.  They had taken the time to route out spaces for them in order to allow the pieces to be mounted flush on the wall.  (In other words, the keyhole brackets were inset into the back of these pieces.)  Even though we had two keyhole hangers for each shelf, we ended up hanging these pieces with only one screw in the wall.  It was almost impossible to try to utilize two screws into the keyhole hangers based on where they were located.  We decided utilizing one screw into one of the hangers for hanging the shelves would be fine.

Next we attached the wedge shaped shelf top to the top of the 2x2 piece already mounted on the wall.  This was done with just one screw in the back corner (pilot hole drilled first) drilled down from the top of the shelf into the 2x2.  A finishing nail could have worked as well, but we went with a screw since it seemed to be more sturdy and it didn't matter the screw head was visible on the top of the shelf (with items sitting on the shelf you can't see the screws anyway).

The brackets were installed next, with screws drilled in at an angle (again we drilled pilot holes first).  Each bracket was held in place with two screws - one on each side).  Later, I covered the screws with primer and paint so they were not so visible on the finished product.'

I had been collecting items that would work on these shelves. The lighthouse was from our wedding.  We were married on the beach and this was a part of the d├ęcor on the table where we used small wooden sailboats as escort cards.  (See photo below and you can find that post here)

The small message-in-a-bottle is also from our wedding.  These were our save-the-date notices that were mailed out to our guests (See photo below and you can find that post here).

I had found the picture frames a while back at Homegoods and they are a nice display for a couple of our scuba diving trip photos.  The small bowl was found at Marshalls ($2.99!) and adds some more color. I think I found the woven-ceramic bowl on clearance at Target ages ago.  I like how the shelves contribute to the cottage style of the room and relate to the white spindles on the stairway banister (see photo of banister below).  I also like how they add a bit of cottage character to the space.
white spindles on banister on stairway

For more beach cottage posts see my Beach Cottage page.