An old place mat becomes a sisal runner for my mini house

Everyday objects repurposed

If you like the look of sisal rugs and runners like this one, this one, and this one, why not make one for your own mini home? I bought this old place mat at my local St. Vinny’s for $1.00.

Old place mat. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Old place mat. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

I simply cut out the portion I wanted to use for a runner, like this:

Mini sisal mat. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Mini sisal mat. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Then I removed everything but the contrasting weaving, so it looks like this:

Mini sisal runner. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Mini sisal runner. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

What remains of the weaving will hold itself together as long I’m careful with it. There’s enough remaining of the place mat that I can make other mats or window coverings. Talk about a quick, simple, inexpensive craft project! It’s going to look great in my mini dining or living room!

Miniblinds that are mini blinds!

Everyday objects repurposed

Inspired by woven bamboo shades like these and these, I decided to make my own for my mini house. When I saw these inexpensive coasters at Bed Bath and Beyond I knew I’d found my perfect materials.

Inexpensive coasters. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Inexpensive coasters. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

I cut them to fit, and then attached another piece over the top to hide where the cord would be attached and to give them the appropriate look.

Mini blinds in progress! Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Mini blinds in progress! Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

The toothpick will be used like a curtain rod. Next I added a small line of wood glue and held my blinds in place with a chip clip while they dried.

Mini blinds drying. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Mini blinds drying. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Here’s the finished product, with a pair of scissors added so you can picture the scale. I will show them in my mini house later, once the house is a little further along.

Mini blinds made from a coaster. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Mini blinds made from a coaster. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Inspiration and tiny decor items lurk everywhere

Everyday objects repurposed

When I’m in the creative zone it’s kind of hard to shut it off. At any given time, I have ten (or twenty, or thirty) different projects swimming in my head. From books I’m writing to houses online I’m dreaming of buying to my imaginings of going on Project Runway (even though my sewing talent level is more on par with Threads), I’m always dreaming about my next creative endeavor. Lately my mini dollhouse is on my mind quite a bit and I find inspiration everywhere. Example: What do you see here?

Bodywash. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

A.) Some bodywash on a bookshelf

B.) Something out of place. Is that still wet? It might leave a mark. Maybe you should have set it on a coaster or something.

C.) A disposable bottle and a cap that looks like a tiny, modern bowl.

If you said A, you are a normal person. If you said B, you might be a little bit neurotic. If you said C, let’s take a closer look!

Bodywash cap. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Ooh! Look at the lovely curving lines of this bottle cap. And the rich, gold color. If I flipped it over and ripped off the top I’m sure it would look something like this…

Mini modern cap/bowl. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reservede.

This is going to make a great little holder of mini fruit, mini balls of yarn, mini magazines, mini plants, and other items. What did I tell you? Tiny decor truly can be found anywhere if you simply look a little closer.

Hits and misses on the road to design

Everyday objects repurposed

I’ve created a little staging area on the dining room table (My husband really appreciates stuff like that) since my mini house is thoroughly under construction. It’s filling up with the little maybes and probably-nots I’ve been creating.

Whenever a person embarks on any creative project there are hits and misses. My dollhouse project is no exception. This (non-functional) lamp made from a Keurig individual coffee serving and some wooden doodads, for instance, looks a little bit more like its components than a lamp. A little chain hanging down might help, but maybe not enough. I’m still debating its ultimate destination, be it in my mini house, or in the trashcan.
Lamp made from a Keurig coffee serving. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.I’m up in the air about whether I am going to keep the modern plastic chair I made from a Klarbrunn bottle. I’m not sure if it reads more as a modern chair, or more as the bottom of a bottle.
Hit or miss? Klarbrunn bottle turned modern chair. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Since people seem to like to decorate with bowls of balls orbs, I decided this would be a realistic addition to my mini house. Inspired by this design element in my own home as seen below…

… I used the shiny lid of an Anthropologie candle as a tray, and filled it with wooden beads, and these shiny brass buttons I recently picked up at a garage sale.

A card of shiny, old buttons. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

The result is a little tray of decorative orbs, much like you’d see in a real living room:

Photos by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Photos by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

I think this works pretty well and will probably end up in the finished product.

The coffee table I showed you here now has a matte black top, like much of my other furniture. I might repaint it all glossy. I thought the flatness would be a nice juxtaposition to the shininess of the brass that will be in the room, but I’m not sure I’m loving the look.
The bookshelf and rug you see here are Ikea Huset miniatures, as seen here. The shelf is definitely going to be in my finished dollhouse. I’m still debating about the rug.

I had the highest of hopes for my end table with a geode slice top. At $5 for the geode slice, it was a big splurge, and I thought would make a really amazing table. However, I am not loving its look or tippiness. I think I need to remove the wooden ball base and glue four little legs on. More about that later. I still know it’s going to be great.

Big splurge! Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

The little staging area helps me see if the varying, imperfect scales are working together. I knew early on that I was not going to be a stickler about precise scale, in part because my dollhouse itself has scale issues, with some doors being one scale, others being another, but also because I think embracing this quirkiness makes it look more fun in the end, and more fun to work on during the creative process.

When you see the finished house, however long from now that is, I think several of these elements will have been altered or edited out completely. Taking a step back to evaluate, and not getting too committed to bad ideas makes for a better finished product. This is true or writing, design, and unfortunately, I’m afraid, that lamp.

Wooden handles turned modern love seat (and don’t forget the tiny newspaper)

Everyday objects repurposed

Since the only furniture I can find is Victorian, I’ve been busy making my own interpretations of mid-century modern furniture. I made this little love seat from two wooden handles, part of an old napkin, and some wooden balls. Let me take you through the process.

It started with some wooden handles I found at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. I’ve determined, at least in Madison, there is no place better to shop for dollhouse decor than hardware stores. The Restore is great because there are tons of tiny trinkets, washers, nuts, bolts, handles, and hinges. All kinds of things to capture a person’s imagination, all for very little money.

Two wooden handles held with tape while the glue dries. Another in case you are confused. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Two wooden handles held with tape while the glue dries. Another in case you are confused. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

I glued two handles together. Here they are, drying. The other handle is shown in the photo in case you need a little help picturing what these handles looked like before I taped them together.

Once they dried I glued some wooden balls to them. The wooden balls are inexpensive. I got this entire bag at a garage sale or thrift shop for very little money:

Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Here is an in-progress look with the the glue drying:

Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

I turned part of a set of napkins into the fabric for my love seat. Here is the in-progress of this step:

Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Once the glue dried, I painted the love seat and then wrapped the fabric around the love seat and sewed it into place. I topped it off with a little pillow.

The thing the newspaper sits in is some little metal contraption, also from the Restore. Some kind of bracket or something, I guess. To me it just says Magazine Rack. I bought several bags of these. I have no idea what they are actually used for. I have them in other colors too. For a buck a bag, I couldn’t pass them up.

It took me two tries to get the newspaper the right scale. I didn’t worry about the details of printing on both sides of the paper, or having different text inside. I simple pasted in the same image over and over, printed it, cut it out, and put it in the magazine rack. To me, it works fine.

Tiny newspaper. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Mini newspaper by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

The end result is a cozy place to sit and read the paper:

Tiny love seat and a newspaper to read. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Tiny love seat and a newspaper to read. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Tiny cologne bottles, repurposed as large glass bottles and vases

Everyday objects repurposed

Bill’s been incredibly helpful lately, dousing himself in all the cute stocking stuffers he’s acquired over the years, in the name of tiny design. Here are couple of examples of cologne bottles that are about to repurposed as vases and bottles in my mini house:

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Souvenir ornament repurposed into a light fixture

Everyday objects repurposed

This trinket that someone purchased in Jamaica is going to make a fabulous light fixture! Here is the “before” version of it:

Jamaica ornament. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Jamaica ornament. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

It was filled with blue sand, little shells, a tiny starfish, and a little pail. My initial attraction to it was based upon the tiny shells, which I thought might be cute sitting on a shelf in my mid century marvel’s bathroom one day.

The only thing keeping the sand and shells inside was a small, easy-to-remove plastic cap at the bottom of the ornament.

Evidence that people spend way too much money when they're on vacation. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Evidence that people spend way too much money when they’re on vacation. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

I separated the stuff inside from the ornament:

The materials to turn my mid century marvel's bathroom into a tropical oasis of beachiness. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

The materials to turn my mid century marvel’s bathroom into a tropical oasis of beachiness. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Next I cleaned up the ornament with some nail polish remover. Without too much trouble the word Jamaica was erased. Here is a picture of it after about thirty seconds of scrubbing at the ornament with a Q-tip and polish remover. After another couple of minutes, the word was gone.

Using finger nail polish remover to erase the word printed on the ornament. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Using finger nail polish remover to erase the word printed on the ornament. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

The word and the price sticker all came cleanly off, leaving me with this little globe:

Light fixture for a very small house. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Light fixture for a very small house. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

With a little more work, this small globe is going to be a great light fixture one day!

Bottle cap turned modern planter or end table

Everyday objects repurposed

This real wooden cap from a bottle of men’s cologne from the 1970’s or 80’s is going to make a great planter or end table. Flipped one way it has a spot for a plant. Flipped the other, it has a smooth table top. Here it is shown beside some books, to give you an idea of the scale. I found it at a thrift store for 90 cents, and it even came in a faux wood grain box (made of cardboard) that might come in handy for another project at some point. The only downfall is the stench of the cologne that I had to endure for the photo shoot.

Jonathan Adler-inspired mini coffee table for next to nothing

Everyday objects repurposed

The Nixon coffee table is currently featured on Jonathan Adler’s home page. It’s part of the Warm Modernism collection. I knew I wanted a similar coffee table in my mid century marvel, but I had no idea where I could come up with one, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I’m going to show you how to make a tiny coffee table with the same basic design aesthetic, for practically nothing.

Start with some old bangle bracelets you never wear. Everyone has some. These are from Myrtle Beach. I bought them from a souvenir shop that was going out of business. I actually think they’re really cute, but I have tons of cheap jewelry so I don’t mind donating these to a good cause.

All you need to make a Jonathan Adler inspired mini coffee table. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

All you need to make a Jonathan Adler inspired mini coffee table. Photos by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Next you’ll need a round wooden box like this one pictured above. You can find these boxes at places like Michael’s for $1.00- $2.00. When opened, you automatically have (if you have any imagination at all) a table and tabletop. The trick to creating a Jonathan Adler Nixon-inspired mini table is to add a bracelet base to the tabletop part of the box. The built in edge inside the lid makes a perfect guide to center your bracelets. A lattice style cuff bangle, like the base of the actual Nixon coffee table, would be ideal. I might shop around for one, but for now, this stack of bangles looks good to me.

All you need to make a Jonathan Adler inspired mini coffee table. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

The assembled table will look like this:

All you need to make a Jonathan Adler inspired mini coffee table. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Here’s the one I am making, next to the original box/table. I might remove the bottom bracelet to make it even lower. I won’t decide for sure until I see how it looks in the living room, alongside (yet to be acquired) chairs and sofas.

All you need to make a Jonathan Adler inspired mini coffee table

The only thing left to do is to sand the edges lightly, put on a coat of dark stain, and glue it all together. Since this project is still in progress, it might look a little different the next time you see it, but you get the idea. If you still can’t see it as anything other than a stack of bracelets with a coaster on top, you’ll just have to wait for the final unveiling.

Measuring cups turned oversized planters

Everyday objects repurposed

Everyday objects around your house can be repurposed in unique ways. I love these West Elm measuring cups I got from a friend, and now I have found a great way to show them off: The bigger measuring cups have joined a stack of small bowls in my (real life, full sized) kitchen, while the two smaller cups have been turned into cute planters for my dollhouse. I paired them with some plastic succulents from the craft store to give them a whole new look. They’ll be cute by the front door, someday in the future when I get to that stage. The best part? This project took approximately 1 second to complete, cost very little, and has no long term effects on the measuring cups, in the event that I change my mind and want to return them to their former measuring cup status.

West Elm measuring cups turned oversized planters. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

West Elm measuring cups turned oversized planters. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.