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 I 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.

Wreath hung without and then with the new window.

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.