Pottery Barn knockoff: DIY birch candles (plus a giveaway winner)

I don’t know about you, but I am a huge fan of those adorable birch candles featured in home decor catalogs like, my personal favorite, Pottery Barn.

Pottery Barn Painted Birch candles

Photo from Pottery Barn

The price of these particular candles, however? Yea. I’m not a huge fan of that.

So what do you do when you just gotta have that special piece for your holiday mantel but you don’t want to have to sell a kidney to get it? Why you make it yourself, of course!

I started with five flameless candles in various sizes that I picked up at Walmart. The total for all five was about $15.


I chose the battery-operated version because I wanted them to last and I didn’t want to worry about keeping stuff away from the flames. I’m sure you could use regular pillar candles. Just remember to never leave burning candles unattended – especially DIY ones. ;)

I started by painting the outsides of the candles in a greige color (that’s a cross between gray and beige, to be clear), similar to the color of tree bark. I used leftover chalk paint I had lying around, but any craft paint would probably work.


After the paint dried, I took a craft knife and cut slits all over the outsides of the candles to create the texture of birch bark.


I like to keep a picture of what I’m trying to replicate handy on my laptop while I work, so I can do my best to get the design correct.

I created faux wood knots on the candles by drawing eye shapes in various sizes with my craft knife, then scoring (i.e. notching or scratching out) the middles.


After that, I brushed on some Varathane® stain (in Espresso) that settled into the cracks and started to give the candles the look of real wood bark.


I wiped off the excess stain and let everything dry really well. Then I brushed on a watered-down layer of silvery-white paint, giving the candles a bit of shimmer.


Finally, I accentuated the knots by going over them with a small artist’s brush loaded with a watered-down mixture of brown and black craft paint. I used craft paint for this step because it stuck to the wax really well.



Done! Here’s a look at my knockoff birch bark candles:




To purchase five similar candles from Pottery Barn would have cost me $192. My thrifty, DIY version cost me less than $20!


What do you think of my Pottery Barn knockoff DIY birch candles?

Special thanks to the folks at Rust-Oleum® for providing me with the Varathane stain I needed to complete this birch bark candle project. 

Before I go, I’d like to announce the winner of the HomeRight SteamMachine Plus Multi-Purpose Steam Mop. Congrats to:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DIY fabric pumpkins (plus a giveaway winner)

Before the Christmas train officially leaves the station next week, I thought I’d share a quick tutorial on the fabric pumpkins I made a few days ago to go along with my Thanksgiving decor.

I started with an extra napkin I had left over from the one-hour napkin curtains I made a few years back. You don’t have to use a napkin for this project; you can use just about any piece of scrap fabric you might have lying around.

I also grabbed a handful of polyester fiberfill that I stole from an old pillow in the basement.


I laid out the napkin, good-side down, and put a ball of fiberfill in the center. Starting at one corner, I began wrapping the fabric over the fiberfill, creating folds as I went along.

Fitting-fabricAt the halfway point, I hand-stitched the top to secure the folds I’d created so far.

Sewing-fabric-around-pumpkinNext, I took a limb from the backyard and trimmed off a small piece to serve as my pumpkin “stem.”


I jammed the stick in the open hole at the top of the pumpkin, then continued folding and stitching the fabric together around it.


To hide the wonky-looking stitches at the top, I took a piece of burlap garland, folded it in half, cut a small hole in the center, and fit it over the stem.


Finally, I ruched (just a fancy word for bunching up) ;) the burlap by pulling a bit of twine, threaded through a fat needle, through the length of the garland.




I made a second pumpkin out of some scrap fabric so I could display a pair of them on the rocking chair on our front porch.

To prevent my pumpkins from getting weather-damaged, I sprayed them with a coat of NeverWet®.

NeverWetThis product repels liquid, keeping surfaces dry and clean. I love this stuff because it dries clear without any noticeable finish, and essentially turns my “indoor” fabric into “outdoor” fabric.

Pumpkins-on-porchWhat do you think of my makeshift Thanksgiving pumpkins?

Special thanks to Rust-Oleum® for providing, at my request, the NeverWet I needed to complete this pumpkin project. 

Now before I say, “Sayonara,” I wanted to announce the winners of the Xcluder Rodent and Pest Barrier Kit:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The hallway molding big finish

Like a lot of folks out there, I’m a great starter but a lousy finisher. Case in point: the hallway molding project I began last winter. Yea … until last night at 10 p.m., it was still not done.

But thanks to the BLACK+DECKER Your Big Finish initiative going on right now, I was pretty much forced to get my tail in gear and get it done yesterday. The funny thing? It only took me one day to do it. I’m constantly amazed at how I will literally stare at something and stress about it for an entire year rather than just do the one day of work it takes to get the project finished. Seriously, I should probably see a therapist.

So this project started, ahem, last February, after we put in the hickory floors. I wanted to add some decorative molding to “class up” the entry hallway. I painted the lower portion of the walls in a semi-gloss white paint that matches our window and door trim. (In hindsight, when I do a project like this again, I’ll switch to Valspar’s soft gloss finish; it’s more forgiving than semi-gloss.)

I topped off the strip of white paint with chair rail molding, painted the same color.


And that is where the work stopped until last week when I accepted the BLACK+DECKER challenge.

I bought a handful of 8-foot strips of “picture frame” molding from my local lumber company. I used my paint sprayer to quickly spray them with two coats of Valspar’s paint and primer in one.


After that, I asked for help from my math genius husband. He figured out where each “box” should go and drew the templates on the walls. Each box was to start five inches in from the nearest edge or piece of molding next to it. I simply used his penciled templates to determine the molding cuts I needed to make on my miter saw. Every piece but the wonky one next to the staircase required a simple, 45-degree angle cut at each corner.

Picture-frame-molding-extreme-closeupI attached each piece of molding to the wall using a nail gun loaded with Brad nails.

Finally, I caulked the nail holes and used my paint sprayer to give the walls and molding a professional-looking top coat of the white paint. I taped off everything first.


I also taped craft paper to the floor. A few spots of paint overspray still got on the floor. But I quickly scrubbed it off; no permanent harm done.

Here’s what my new, finally finished, hallway molding looks like:




Notice how I had to cut around the air vents.


Here’s the wall before the molding:


And after:


So … what DIY project do you need to finish this holiday season?

BLACK+DECKER has launched a movement to get all your unfinished home projects moving again. You can join them for the opportunity to win $10,000 cash and products. Plus, they might put you and your finished project on a billboard right in the middle of Times Square! (I would seriously make a trip to New York if my project made it on a billboard!) So while our family may never notice that we finished hanging the molding, millions of others will! :)

For this campaign, there are weekly prizes, and one grand prize of $10,000.

BLACK+DECKER weekly prize packages are comprised of one of each of the following:
• BDCDE120C 20V MAX* Lithium Drill/Driver with AutoSense™
• BDEMS600 Mouse Sander
• BDCS40BI 4V MAX* Lithium Pivot Screwdriver
• BDCDCMT120 Matrix 20V MAX* Lithium Drill/Driver
• LCS1020 20V MAX* Chainsaw
• BDCMTRS Matrix Reciprocating Saw Attachment
• BDCMTI Matrix Impact Driver Attachment

To enter, visit the campaign landing page, and enter your first name, last initial, email, city, state and phone number. Then upload a photo of yourself and your completed project. Or you could just head over to the landing page and look at the gallery of finished projects to get inspiration.

Please note: The BLACK+DECKER Your Big Finish contest ends Dec. 28.


Special thanks to BLACK+DECKER for sponsoring this post and inspiring me to FINALLY finish this project! As always, all opinions (and sweat equity) are 100 percent mine.