Tag Archives: upcycle

Friday, March 14 2014

Book smarts: Book crate DIY

Exhibit A: Bernstein's children's playroom book pile. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

Exhibit A: Bernstein’s children’s playroom book pile. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

Kids who love to read aren’t necessarily kids who love to put books away. Although it’s hard to blame the children on this one, because unless they’re neatly organized on a shelf, paperbacks and pop-up works alike are inherently messy.

That’s why when I came across this project from Lori Bernstein of familylovehome.blogspot.com, she had my full book-nerd attention.


Bernstein took the average dollar-store or craft-store crate and transformed her kids’ book pile area into this super chic, user-friendly and even adult-appropriate home for books. Piled in or filed in, any mess is contained in a classy crate that could sit in the kids’ room or by the living room chaise lounge.

You can stain and stencil like Bernstein, or write your own aesthetic ending — the decorating possibilities are limited only to your imagination.


Wooden crate (find at Michaels craft stores or dollar stores), wood stain, stencils, craft paint, casters, sandpaper, polycrylic spray

Find the full tutorial here on Bernstein’s blog.
Wednesday, February 26 2014

Turn anything into a table — just add legs!

Right: Available at Ikea, clockwise from top left: Nipen leg, red, $15; Lalle leg, $12.50; Gerton adjustable leg, $25; Billsta round table underframe, $169; Borgfinn pine leg, $10; Lerberg trestle, $10; Finnvard trestle with shelf, $35; Oddvald trestle, $15. (ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF IKEA)

Right: Available at Ikea, clockwise from top left: Nipen leg, red, $15; Lalle leg, $12.50; Gerton adjustable leg, $25; Billsta round table underframe, $169; Borgfinn pine leg, $10; Lerberg trestle, $10; Finnvard trestle with shelf, $35; Oddvald trestle, $15. (ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF IKEA)

Customizing the prefabricated is a smart way to get personalized decor affordably — one of this year’s major home trends.

Back when I was asked to do the Ultimate Upcycle Challenge last fall, I had considered doing this exact project. We were tasked with upcycling an old door into a new piece of furniture to be sold at the home show, with all proceeds going to the Habitat for Humanity Vancouver charity.

Because it was a contest (and a charitable one at that), attaching pre-made legs felt a bit like cheating, so I went another route — but clearly that was a mistake!

Here you can see how a piece of wood, weathered and scratched, has been given new life by being outfitted with fresh trestles from Ikea.

Pairing vintage wood with structured, workshop-chic supports makes this table look fabulously industrial, also a huge trend, and this is something DIYers can easily replicate.

Ikea has several styles in differing materials, from stainless steel to solid wood that can be used for a table, but also a work desk, or a bench — just add legs!


Thursday, October 17 2013

Teach an old door new tricks — Upcycle Challenge

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In high school, I chose musical theatre class over woodworking because I was afraid I’d lose a finger. It’s been 10 years but I’ve finally realized this was a huge mistake.

The Vancouver Home and Design Show has, for a second year, invited me to participate in the Ultimate Upcycle Challenge. This time, there’s a twist: ‘Unhinged’ as the competition is called, would see seven individuals transform an everyday door from the Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore into something worthy of purchase at the home show’s silent auction (running Oct. 17-20 at BC Place).

Every DIYer has their comfort zone, and sawing wood is about as far out of mine as possible. Still, I wanted to push myself to try something new with this door challenge, and despite countless miscalculations/errors/accidents, I managed to execute my hanging shelf concept: something to help organize towels and toiletries in the bathroom, or scarves and belts in the bedroom.

My first foray into furniture design will be open for bids starting today at the home show, with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity.

If you’d rather do it yourself, than buy it yourself, the hardest part of this DIY is sawing straight with a handsaw. Lucky for you, I’ve found an absolutely foolproof way to get a straight line every time.


  • door
  • sandpaper
  • towel bar
  • shelf brackets
  • power drill
  • paint
  • handsaw
  • Rust-Oleum satin paint + primer, white

How to: Door-turned-wall-organizer

  1. First, saw the door in half. The secret to sawing in a straight line with a handsaw is a physical guide. I learned this the hard way and after my first crappy cut I used the bottom half of the door to guide me. I recommend getting wood long enough to span the door and weighting that down or using clamps. As you can see, I used art books, all of my art books!
  2. Draw a line where you’re going to cut. Mark your starting-point line with the handsaw by doing a few back strokes, moving the saw up towards you. Then start sawing, using the wood edge as a guide and using your free hand (in glove) to push lightly on the saw to minimize the bouncing (this is supposed to cut down on damage to the bottom cut). After that, saw off the bottom piece (below the blue line in the ‘Before’ photo), this will be your shelf.
  3. Fill holes, sand and wash your door to prep for primer and paint (primer optional).
  4. Paint the base colour (half Martha Stewart Craft Paint in Beach Glass and half Titanium white) on the top three-quarters of the door piece and then the shelf (don’t forget the sides). *Note: If you’re mixing your own paint, for heaven’s sake save some extra in containers in case you need to do touch-ups. Otherwise any extra paint you have to mix afterwards is unlikely to be the exact same colour. 
  5. Hardware: OUTSIDE (!) take Rust-Oleum and spray paint shelf brackets, screws and towel bar. Do a couple coats in short bursts and let dry before you go for another round. Tip: Use a coat hanger for the shelf brackets.
  6. Ombre the main piece with the Rust-Oleum white, spraying at the bottom and going past the three-quarter mark where the mint colour ends. Hold your arm straight as you sweep across with white to get that nice gradient, ombre effect.
  7. After all elements are dry, attach the shelf and then the towel bar using a power drill. You may have to touch up the paint on the brackets afterwards, for me paint got chipped off during the drilling portion.
  8. Mount shelf-towel-bar-upcycled-door thing on the wall and you’re done! Leaning optional.
Thursday, October 3 2013

Unhinged — DIY Upcycle Challenge with Habitat for Humanity


Once again, I’ve been invited to participate in what is essentially the DIY Olympics: the Upcycle Challenge for the Vancouver Home + Design Show (running Oct. 17-20).

This year, myself and eight competitors were tasked with finding a door from Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, which we will transform into something worth auctioning off at the home show. I say worth auctioning off, because my biggest fear is that I will mangle the door and make it worth less than it was to begin with (approx. $5).

The doors (in their various forms) will be on display at the home show for a silent auction with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity.

My completed door (before photo seen above) is due MONDAY so I expect to make five more trips to the hardware store and ruin several more shirts between now and then.

Wish me luck!

Last year’s entry: a revamped vintage desk from the Sutton Place Hotel



Friday, October 19 2012

From bottles to britches



Britches are pants right?

Levi’s has far outdone my efforts to upcycle, turning 3.5 million recycled bottles into JEANS with its ‘Waste<Less’ collection, launching spring 2013.

To turn throw-aways into threads, bottles and food trays are collected, sorted by colour, crushed into flakes and then made into polyester fiber. I’m sure there’s a DIY for that somewhere on YouTube. Oh, and there is. (You just need a factory or two.)

The post consumer pants will retail for US$70 to US$130. Wonder what they’ll sell for here with our on-par exchange rate…

source: Taxi

Sunday, October 14 2012

Ultimate Upcycle Challenge gets press from Upcycle That and The Vancouver Sun

As a journalist, being written about is both weird and exciting. And unless I get back in the papers for something else (pie eating contest most likely), this probably won’t happen again, so I’m shamelessly documenting it.

Check it out!