Thrifty DIY knockoff planter

Since the budget-friendly backyard patio plans were put into motion recently, I have been on the hunt for two outdoor planters for the new concrete stair.

There are so many beautiful choices out there. But some of them are a bit pricey. For example, my favorite is this Fiberglass urn from Lowe’s:


But two of them cost nearly $160; that’s just not in my budget right now. So instead, I decided to try to replicate a similar look at a fraction of the cost.

I picked up two of these black urns at Lowe’s for around $10 apiece:


I primed them using the spray primer I had on hand.


I would actually recommend choosing a gray or white primer if you’ve got some handy, or if you’re purchasing primer specifically for this project. (One full can should be enough.)

I then sprayed each planter with a coat of Rust-Oleum American Accents® Stone Spray Paint in the Sienna Stone color. It took two cans total (one for each urn) but I was careful to not waste a single drop.


After the paint dried, I created a white glaze using one part white paint to three parts water. I brushed it all over the “stone” finish, letting the glaze settle into the crevices.

I wiped off any excess and added more glaze where necessary. My goal was to replicate an aged/pickled finish reminiscent of Tuscan-style stone.


Finally, I sprayed on a generous coat of outdoor-friendly urethane to protect the planters from the elements. (The stone spray paint is made for indoor use only.)

Here is the final result:


I realize I didn’t replicate the look of the more expensive urn exactly, but I’m calling it close enough.


The best part is that my urns cost less than half the price of the Fiberglass versions. Including the cost of paint, my project adds up to about $25 per planter.

Now I just need to find some colorful flowers for my new planters. Stay tuned to see them in all their glory when I unveil the completed budget-friendly backyard patio renovation soon.

Do you think I got close enough to nailing the look for less?

The Great Outdoor Fan Renovation

I recently mentioned that one of the projects in our budget-friendly backyard patio upgrade is refurbishing our tired-looking ceiling fan/light fixture.

Patio-plansLast week I asked the hubs to take the fixture down for me. (I’m not totally comfortable working with electrical wiring … yet. ;))


After it was down, it was really obvious it needed some TLC.


I removed the fan blades and dusted and scrubbed the fixture.


I used sandpaper and steel wool to remove any visible rust spots.


Then I primed the whole thing using Rust-OleumPainter’s® Touch Ultra Cover 2x Primer in flat black. This product is currently my favorite spray primer because it gives great coverage, goes on evenly, and doesn’t spit or sputter.


After priming, I gave the whole fixture two coats of Rust-Oleum Metallic Paint & Primer in One in oil-rubbed bronze.


Next came the tricky part. I was originally planning on reusing the same fan blades and just painting them using my faux wood grain technique. But that plan went out the window when one of the blades broke in half as I was removing it.

Fortunately I had an old fan in the basement that was taken out of our dining room when I added the chandelier. The fan blade color was perfect, but there was a problem. The holes in these “new” blades didn’t match the holes in the fan I was planning to attach them to. So I had to first plug a few of the old holes and then stain the filled holes to match the blades.

I started by flipping the blades over to the side that wouldn’t be seen and taping the holes that needed filled with putty.


Then I flipped the blades over to the “good” side, filled the holes with stain-able wood filler, and brushed on a coat of stain to match the blade color. (Only two out of the three holes in each blade needed filled.)


My objective was to make the old holes as inconspicuous as possible. One word of caution here: If I had to do it over again, I would have only used stain on the holes and scratches, not on the whole blade, as it didn’t adhere well and left me with a sticky mess as I was attaching the blades to the fan.

Speaking of attaching the “new” blades, I had to drill two new holes in each of them so they would line up with the holes in the fixture. Before screwing the blades tight to the fan, I added washers to each of the holes for added reinforcement. (The last thing I want to do is decapitate one of our picnic guests with a flying fan blade.)


The washers were added to the top of the fan (aka the part you don’t see). Also, in case you’re wondering, these fan blades are finished in a light oak color on one side and a mahogany color on the other.

Here’s the final result:






I love the new look, although I am disappointed because the fan wobbles a bit, which I believe is due to one of two factors affecting its balance:

  1. I bent the metal that holds the fan blades in order to shimmy my screwdriver in to remove the screws before I painted the fixture. (With the right tool, this would not have been necessary.)
  2. I switched out the fan blades (because I broke one of the old ones, remember?) to larger ones and this may also be slightly contributing to the imbalance.

So if you can avoid these two pitfalls, you should have a like-new, wobbly-free fan. :)

Let’s take a look again at the before:


And the after:


It looks like a new fixture!

Special thanks to Rust-Oleum for providing me with the primer and paint I needed to complete this project. 

I’m linking this up to Home Stories A to ZFluster Buster and We Call It Junkin’.

How to make the easiest curtains ever

Perhaps you’ll recall the idiotic dancing that took place recently at Gabriel Brothers when I discovered the store had high-end decorator fabric on sale for less than $2.50 a yard. (If you live near a Gabe’s, run to the store right now to get some if you need it.)

I purchased four yards of fabric (totaling less than $10) with an idea for how to make easy curtains and pillows.


So one evening last week, as I was starting dinner, I thought, “Gee, this seems like a great time to make a valance for above the kitchen sink.” The hubs was at a meeting and the kids had disappeared somewhere temporarily (probably plotting their mutiny).

So between stirring mac and cheese and putting together peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I created a spring-worthy kitchen valance. (I’ve never claimed to be sane, people.)

Of course, because I’m, well, me, this project had to be quick, easy and super cheap. I thought I’d share the details with you so you can whip up one, too (although I wouldn’t recommend doing it during dinner prep ;)).

The fabric at Gabe’s was sold in two-yard segments. I used one set of two yards and didn’t cut the fabric at all. I started by simply folding it in half with the inside facing out.


After I folded it in half perfectly, I used my sewing machine to hem just the bottom all the way across, but not the sides. (I eyeballed about a 3/4-inch hem; I didn’t mark it.)

First-hemAfter I hemmed the bottom, I turned the “curtain” right side out again. This left me with a hemmed bottom and two openings at each side.


From there, I decided how wide I wanted my finished valance to be. Then I measured what my current width was.


I figured out how much I needed to reduce each side in order to arrive at my desired width.


I needed to reduce each side by 4.75 inches. So I simply tucked the raw fabric in toward the middle on each side, until each fold was a total of 4.75 inches.


After I had both sides tucked in properly to give me my desired total valance width of 36 inches, I sewed a half-inch hem on both sides, leaving a 2-inch opening at the top for the curtain rod to slide through.


Again, I eyeballed this hem. One trick for keeping a hem straight: I line up the edge of the sewing machine presser foot with the edge of the fabric and use that as a guide as I sew.


After both sides were hemmed (with a 2-inch opening at the top), I ironed the whole “curtain.” I also created 2-inch accordion folds (starting from the bottom) and pressed them down with the iron, too.


Next, I hand-sewed my makeshift accordion folds together using a few quick stitches straight through on both sides, about 5 inches in.



To make sure my accordion folds hung perfectly, I ironed on hem tape between the folds to keep them together.


After that, my valance was done!

Kitchen-valance-sink Kitchen-valance-environmental Kitchen-valanceYou may notice I sewed an extra hem at the top because I wanted to raise the valance up a bit on the window. This step is optional, not mandatory.


Here’s a summary of the project steps:

  1. Fold fabric in half, with the inside facing out.
  2. Hem the bottom (not the sides) where the raw edges come together.
  3. Turn the “curtain” right side out.
  4. Fold in the raw edges on both sides until the valance reaches your desired width.
  5. Add a half-inch hem on each side, leaving about a 2-inch opening at the top for the rod pocket.
  6. Create your desired accordion folds (starting at the bottom) and iron them down.
  7. Hand-stitch the accordion folds together to your desired valance height.
  8. Iron on hem tape if necessary to make the folds hang perfectly.
  9. Install your valance and enjoy!

What do you think of this easy spring curtain? Have you found any great deals on fabric lately?

I’m linking this up to Craft DictatorMy Repurposed Life and Love of Family & Home.