Refinishing Wood Floors: 3 Things To Do When You Get a Bad Sander

Who here is terrified of the idea of refinishing their own wood floors? *Raises hand.* Me!!! Everyone talks about how harsh a drum sander is, how it can quickly and easy sand waves into your floor, and if the drum sander you rent is bad, it’s almost impossible to get even floors. Real reassuring, there.

Well, I hate to break it to you, but people say these things for a reason. I was one of those people who got a bad drum sander. I didn’t know what to do, and I definitely stood in the room panicking multiple times. But I kept going and figured it out. Here’s how I made it work.

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How to Know if Your Sander is Bad
1) It Only Sands Half the Floor
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I noticed almost immediately that my sander wasn’t sanding the entire length of the drum. When I finished the first row, it was quite apparent that the sanded portion was considerably less than the width of the drum.

2) There Are Dents, Tears and Unevenness in the Sanding Drum

I did not inspect my drum before starting, but even if I did, I probably wouldn’t have been able to identify the damage. If you look at the drum of the sander and see that it is clearly damaged, that’s a pretty bad sign.

3) The Screws Are Loose Or Falling Out

While this doesn’t speak to the condition of the drum itself, it’s a strong sign that this sander has been worked hard. A screw I couldn’t identify fell out mid-sanding. More concerning was when the bolt holding the lift/lower level (the handle that lifts and lowers the drum off the floor) fell out completely, making it impossible for me to lift the drum off the floor. This could have led to a severely dented area, but I turned off the sander and kept moving until the drum had come to a complete stop.

4) The Sandpaper is Clogging In One Space Only
Refinishing your wood floors not going well? Same. Come see how I made a bad sander work! #diy #diyprojects #HomeImprovement #WoodFloors #AButterflyHouse

Very quickly after I started sanding my 36 grit sandpaper became clogged on one side. The fact that the sandpaper wasn’t uniformly clogged was indicative that only half the sandpaper was touching the floor.

What To Do With Your Bad Sander
1) Don't Rent It

If you were lucky/skilled enough to identify a damaged drum before leaving the rental center, gold stars for you! Maybe I’m stating the obvious here, but don’t rent it. See if the store has another one, or go to another store in the area.

2) Go Slowly

If you’re like most of us and didn’t realize your sander was bad until you started sanding, that’s okay. Go slowly. Give the sander multiple opportunities to sand the same area. When I finished a row, and moved over to start the next row, I only moved over about two inches. I wanted the sander to overlap where it had just sanded, and since I knew my sander was only partially sanding the floor, I didn’t move as much as I would have if I’d had a fully working sander.

3) Get Extra Sandpaper

If your sander is only partially sanding the floor, you’re going to need more sandpaper. Since your sandpaper is being heavily used on one half, and not used at all on the other half, you will clog the used half of the sandpaper much faster. 

Special Tip: If your sander is only using half the sandpaper, flip it around after one half gets clogged! That way, you get to save a little money by using the other half of the sandpaper.

Refinishing your wood floors not going well? Same. Come see how I made a bad sander work! #diy #diyprojects #HomeImprovement #WoodFloors #AButterflyHouse

I clogged the left side of the sandpaper, then flipped it around and used the right half!

I recommend doing your research in advance, and purchase sandpaper online that matches the machine you will be renting. It will be cheaper, and you’ll therefore be less inclined to skimp on the sandpaper. Alternatively, you could pay store prices and purchase significantly more than you think you need, then return any unused sandpaper when you return the machine.

Breathe... It's Going to Be Okay

If you’re reading this with a half-sanded floor in the other room, know that it will be okay. Go slowly, get lots of sandpaper, and breathe. It will be okay. If you need a little reassurance, here’s what my floors looked like mid-first coat, when I was absolutely panicking:

Refinishing your wood floors not going well? Same. Come see how I made a bad sander work! #diy #diyprojects #HomeImprovement #WoodFloors #AButterflyHouse

The sander clearly wasn't sanding evenly, and the sandpaper was so clogged that it was leaving marks on my floor. I was terrified!

And here’s what they looked like when I was done:

Refinishing your wood floors not going well? Same. Come see how I made a bad sander work! #diy #diyprojects #HomeImprovement #WoodFloors #AButterflyHouse

Good luck! And if you need a little more reassurance, go ahead and tell me about your struggles in the comments below!

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5 Tips for Painting a Room

So a few weekends ago, two of my former California roommates came to visit me in Missouri. We had a nice weekend full of craft shows, coffee shops, and Harry Potter Trivia games (based on the books, of course.) But they also volunteered to help me paint my sunroom/future office, so after a nice trip to Home Depot (where the paint took forever to be mixed, so we invented an awesome game to entertain ourselves), we got started.

As I'm pouring paint into the paint tray, Brittany (California friend 1) picks up a paintbrush and casually catches all of the paint sliding down the side of paint can in this snazzy swoop-y motion. When I look at her all impressed, she goes "Oh yeah, didn't you know, my Dad used to paint houses. That's how he put himself through college."

Well, okay then. Show me everything you know. Turns out, it wasn't that much. It's not like Brittany painted professionally. But together, we realized some things that made the whole process go faster. Here were our key takeaways:

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1. Always Have Someone On the Ladder

For our first coat, Brittany and I both started painting at ground level. This resulted in inefficiency at the end, when both of us needed to be painting up high. For the second coat, Brittany started and stayed on the ladder, while I painted everything at ground level. We finished our respective parts at exactly the same time, and no person was ever standing around waiting for the ladder.

2. Painting Around Windows? Don't Worry About Tape!
Painting a room can be so time consuming- check out this list of 5 tips that will make painting go faster and easier! #AButterflyHouse #HomeImprovement #PaintingTips #DIY

Before scraping!

Painting a room can be so time consuming- check out this list of 5 tips that will make painting go faster and easier! #AButterflyHouse #HomeImprovement #PaintingTips #DIY

After scraping!

The room I was painting had not one, but two sets of french doors, as well as eight windows. Eight! To make it all go faster, I didn't bother putting down painters tape, or being extra careful as I painted. I used a small brush and painted quickly, then when I was done, scraped the dry paint off the window with a scraper. Much faster.

3. Like Your Shirt? Turn It Inside Out.

Since Brittany was visiting from California, I loaned her some painting clothes to wear. However, it was a little chilly, so she opted to wear one of her long-sleeved shirts underneath the t-shirt I gave her. Since she liked her shirt (at least a little,) and didn't want to ruin it with paint, she turned it inside out just in case a bit of paint got on it. Maybe that's an obvious tip, but I thought it was a brilliant idea, and decided to share with everyone else!

4. Prime Trim at the Same Time as the Walls!

The trim in the future-office was super grimy, flaky, and overall unacceptable. I knew I'd be painting it eventually too. What I should have done (and admittedly didn't) was prime all the trim and walls at the same time. Then I wouldn't have had to be careful not to paint the walls while painting primer on the trim, which would have made one coat at least a little easier to paint.

Painting a room can be so time consuming- check out this list of 5 tips that will make painting go faster and easier! #AButterflyHouse #HomeImprovement #PaintingTips #DIY
5. Know When To Splurge On Tools.

If you've read any other "painting tips" articles, you'll know that you should be purchasing nice paintbrushes. Most people recommend the Purdy brand. But if you haven't looked at the prices yet, you're in for a shock. Purdy paintbrushes tend to cost $10 and up for the typical brush.

Now, I highly recommend splurging and getting a couple of these paintbrushes for your final coats. They do a better job, and are easier to use. However, if at any point you are using an oil-based primer, or doing a furniture project with oil based stain, get some cheap-o brushes. Oil-based products are difficult to clean, requiring mineral spirits instead of water. Given that primer gets covered up by your final coat, and stain gets wiped off, erasing any texture marks, I prefer to use cheap brushes that I can throw away after applying the oil-based product.

If you live by a Menards, they regularly have paintbrushes that are free after rebate. Otherwise, Harbor Freight has a decent selection of cheap brushes.

Last Thoughts

I hope these five tips make your painting go at least a little easier. While my sunroom has been painted, I have at least three more rooms that will need a new paint job in the coming months. I'll definitely be keeping these things in mind, and adding any more tips I discover on the job!

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30-Minute DIY Embroidery Hoop Ornaments

I am an ornament snob. Not like most ornament snobs, who have perfectly color-coordinated and beautifully decorated trees. No, my ornament-snobbishness takes a different form. Every single ornament on my tree has a story, and if it doesn’t have a story, it’s not going on the tree. Some stories are simple “xyz gave this to me for Christmas in 2001” or “I inherited this strange Charlie Brown set from my grandmother.” Others are a bit more complex: “My fifth grade crush made me this Santa Clause light bulb for a Secret Santa gift, and I still hang it on my tree 18 years later. Also- he worked really hard on it, and I totally missed the hint.”

So for a new ornament to get on the tree, it has to have a story. Aka, I can’t just buy it; it has to be a gift or something I’ve made. Luckily, I love making ornaments, so this doesn’t hinder my tree-decoration too much.

This is the third ornament I’ve made this year; the Wooden Block Snowman Ornament, and the Scrap Wood Pet Ornament both turned out really well, so I was hoping to make this three for three. Go check out the other two if you’re on the lookout for easy DIY ornaments!

These rustic farmhouse DIY Christmas Ornaments are quick, easy and cheap, and will look great on my tree! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DIYOrnaments #ChristmasOrnaments #Farmhouse #BudgetDIY #30MinuteCrafts

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30 Minute DIY Embroidery Hoop Ornaments
Materials
  • Two 3" Embroidery Hoops- I bought this 10-pack from Amazon
  • Stain or Spray Paint
  • Twine
Step 0: Stain the Embroidery Hoops (Optional)

If you’re staining your ornament instead of spray paint, you’ll want to stain the wood before assembling the ornament. That way, it’s easy to reach all the parts with a brush. Alternatively, if you’re spray painting the ornaments, it’s easier to do that at the end.

These rustic farmhouse DIY Christmas Ornaments are quick, easy and cheap, and will look great on my tree! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DIYOrnaments #ChristmasOrnaments #Farmhouse #BudgetDIY #30MinuteCrafts
Step 1: Assemble Ornament

This looks hard, but it's really not. Start by disassembling two embroidery hoops, so you end up with four separate circles.

These rustic farmhouse DIY Christmas Ornaments are quick, easy and cheap, and will look great on my tree! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DIYOrnaments #ChristmasOrnaments #Farmhouse #BudgetDIY #30MinuteCrafts

Put one of the circles without screws into the other, so that your structure looks like this:

These rustic farmhouse DIY Christmas Ornaments are quick, easy and cheap, and will look great on my tree! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DIYOrnaments #ChristmasOrnaments #Farmhouse #BudgetDIY #30MinuteCrafts

Added a screwed piece, and tighten the screw as much as you can:

These rustic farmhouse DIY Christmas Ornaments are quick, easy and cheap, and will look great on my tree! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DIYOrnaments #ChristmasOrnaments #Farmhouse #BudgetDIY #30MinuteCrafts

Add the last (screwed) piece around the three circles you’ve already attached. Tighten the screw as much as you can.

These rustic farmhouse DIY Christmas Ornaments are quick, easy and cheap, and will look great on my tree! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DIYOrnaments #ChristmasOrnaments #Farmhouse #BudgetDIY #30MinuteCrafts
Step 2: Spray Paint

I always spray paint small things in a cardboard box. It does a decent job of keeping the paint contained.

These rustic farmhouse DIY Christmas Ornaments are quick, easy and cheap, and will look great on my tree! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DIYOrnaments #ChristmasOrnaments #Farmhouse #BudgetDIY #30MinuteCrafts

I used a Rustoleum Universal "aged copper" color that I had around the house!

Step 3: Add Twine Hanger

I just slipped a medium sized piece of twine (I eyeballed the length) through the top part of the ornament and tied a knot. Done!

These rustic farmhouse DIY Christmas Ornaments are quick, easy and cheap, and will look great on my tree! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DIYOrnaments #ChristmasOrnaments #Farmhouse #BudgetDIY #30MinuteCrafts
These rustic farmhouse DIY Christmas Ornaments are quick, easy and cheap, and will look great on my tree! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DIYOrnaments #ChristmasOrnaments #Farmhouse #BudgetDIY #30MinuteCrafts

When I put aside time to make these ornaments, I gave myself three hours. They were done in thirty minutes. Talk about a quick and easy project that will help you decorate your house for the season!

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These rustic farmhouse DIY Christmas Ornaments are quick, easy and cheap, and will look great on my tree! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DIYOrnaments #ChristmasOrnaments #Farmhouse #BudgetDIY #30MinuteCrafts
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Removing Wallpaper Quickly | My Super Easy Method

This past week I've been hanging out with my dad in rural Wisconsin, where the days are cold and the internet is scarce. As a result, I've been watching a fair amount of HGTV. And all the house hunting couples on HGTV, in addition to being faker than particleboard furniture, have a clearly defined list of (somewhat ridiculous and extravagant) things they want in their home. A playroom, a pool, a view, 6 bedrooms, 2 master suites.... the list goes on.

This was not me when I was searching for a home. My mindset was more along the lines of "Is it under $150,000, and structurally sound? Cool, sold." But what really made me pick my house out of all the other old, cheap, structurally sound houses was this one single room.

This is such a great method for quickly and easily removing wallpaper from your wall, plus it requires no extra tools! #AButterflyHouse #Wallpaper #WallpaperRemoval #DIY #DIYProjects #HowTo
This is such a great method for quickly and easily removing wallpaper from your wall, plus it requires no extra tools! #AButterflyHouse #Wallpaper #WallpaperRemoval #DIY #DIYProjects #HowTo

Look at the (multiple sets of) french doors! And the sun! So much sun, all the time! I was in love. I decided immediately that this would ultimately be my office, because clearly I'd want to be in this room all the time, and therefore would get plenty of work done.. I'll let you know how that turns out. 

But before I could make this into the productivity haven of my dreams, I needed to get rid of the wallpaper. Because not only was it unattractive on its own, it was also peeling off pretty much everywhere, which, as you might be aware, is not okay.

This is such a great method for quickly and easily removing wallpaper from your wall, plus it requires no extra tools! #AButterflyHouse #Wallpaper #WallpaperRemoval #DIY #DIYProjects #HowTo

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Prep Work

I started by putting plastic sheeting on the floor, for the singular reason of being able to do this at the end:

This is such a great method for quickly and easily removing wallpaper from your wall, plus it requires no extra tools! #AButterflyHouse #Wallpaper #WallpaperRemoval #DIY #DIYProjects #HowTo

Easiest cleanup ever!

World's easiest cleanup. I folded up the plastic, and tossed the whole thing straight into the trash. The five minutes of taping down the plastic before starting was sooo worth it.

I then mixed some hot water and fabric softener in a spray bottle. The internet was contradictory about how much the mixture should be of each, so I didn't bother measuring, and aimed for 50-75% water and the rest fabric softener.

I also purchased this snazzy paper tiger thing from Amazon, that other people raved about:

This is such a great method for quickly and easily removing wallpaper from your wall, plus it requires no extra tools! #AButterflyHouse #Wallpaper #WallpaperRemoval #DIY #DIYProjects #HowTo

Spoiler alert: This thing sucked.

What Didn't Work

Once I had all my tools, I was ready to start. I scored my walls with the paper tiger thing, then sprayed with the laundry detergent. Before I tell you all about how this was stupid and got me nowhere, lets talk a little about the composition of wallpaper.

Wallpaper, at least, the stuff on my walls, has two main layers: A thick waterproof decorative layer that is what you see on your wall, and a paper layer that contains the adhesive that sticks the wallpaper to the wall. Your goal, as the wallpaper remover, is to unstick the paper adhesive layer from the wall to pull off the wallpaper. The paper adhesive layer will peel off easily if you can get your adhesive solvent (the laundry detergent/hot water mixture, in my case) to that layer. However, the waterproof layer makes it awfully difficult to get any sort of solvent to the paper adhesive layer. That's where the paper tiger comes in. It pokes little holes in the top decorative layer so that your solvent can get through to the lower layer.

This is such a great method for quickly and easily removing wallpaper from your wall, plus it requires no extra tools! #AButterflyHouse #Wallpaper #WallpaperRemoval #DIY #DIYProjects #HowTo

In the above picture, the paper adhesive layer is the light brown stuff you see on the wall. The waterproof layer is the blue layer that is still on or peeling off the wall. You can see in the picture how my solvent went through the decorative layer at all the places where I scored with the paper tiger. And guess what: right at those wet places, the adhesive layer was super easy to pull off. Everywhere else, where the paper adhesive layer was still dry? Impossible. 

Because the paper tiger couldn't be everywhere, it didn't make taking down the wallpaper super easy. In some situations, which I'll cover later in this post, it might be helpful and make the job easier, but this is not a tool that will solve all your wallpaper woes. Additionally, it damaged the drywall behind the wallpaper:

This is such a great method for quickly and easily removing wallpaper from your wall, plus it requires no extra tools! #AButterflyHouse #Wallpaper #WallpaperRemoval #DIY #DIYProjects #HowTo

See all those holes in a line? That's from the paper tiger.

I'm not too concerned about the damage- it will be behind a bookshelf in this room. However, it did nothing to raise my opinion of the Paper Tiger...

What Did Work
(aka, the Four Hour Method)

I only ended up using the following things:

- Spray Bottle (to hold solvent)
- Fabric Softener (to make solvent)
- Water (to make solvent)
- Ladder (to reach the high spots)
- Plastic Sheeting (to make cleanup easy)

Step 1: Peel Off Top Layer

There is absolutely no need to poke holes in the top layer if you can simply pull it off, which is what I ended up doing. On most pieces, it was peeling off already somewhere, so I typically started there, but on pieces where there was no peeling, the corner of the piece typically lifted off pretty easily. Each piece typically came off in a giant sheet if I went slowly.

This is such a great method for quickly and easily removing wallpaper from your wall, plus it requires no extra tools! #AButterflyHouse #Wallpaper #WallpaperRemoval #DIY #DIYProjects #HowTo

The top layer came off super easily!

Step 2: Saturate the Paper Adhesive Layer with Solvent

I then took my spray bottle and saturated the remaining layer with solvent. 

This is such a great method for quickly and easily removing wallpaper from your wall, plus it requires no extra tools! #AButterflyHouse #Wallpaper #WallpaperRemoval #DIY #DIYProjects #HowTo

The two pieces on the right have been sprayed with solvent, while the three pieces on the left have only had the top layer removed.

Step 3: Wait One Minute

The solvent needs a couple seconds to work, so I typically waited 30 seconds to a minute before returning to the piece to peel off the lower layer. During this time, I usually went and pulled off the top layer to the next piece.

Step 4: Pull Off Paper Adhesive Layer

Once the solvent has had time to work, the paper adhesive layer comes off easily. It was a little harder to keep as one big strip than the decorative layer, but still doable if I went slowly. On any paper bits that remained, I carefully rubbed with the pad of my finger to remove the remaining paper, as I noticed my nails could gorge the wet drywall.

This is such a great method for quickly and easily removing wallpaper from your wall, plus it requires no extra tools! #AButterflyHouse #Wallpaper #WallpaperRemoval #DIY #DIYProjects #HowTo

The lower layer can also be removed in a big strip if fully saturated!

Step 5: Repeat Throughout Room!

Using this method, it took me a little under 4 hours to remove all the wallpaper in the room! Now, admittedly, it was a small room, with many windows, but I still think this was faster and more efficient than using the Paper Tiger throughout. However, you might need to use the Paper Tiger or some other type of scoring device (maybe one that doesn't hurt the drywall?) if your wallpaper is in better condition than mine, and the top layer doesn't peel off. 

When I was done, my room looked like this:

This is such a great method for quickly and easily removing wallpaper from your wall, plus it requires no extra tools! #AButterflyHouse #Wallpaper #WallpaperRemoval #DIY #DIYProjects #HowTo
This is such a great method for quickly and easily removing wallpaper from your wall, plus it requires no extra tools! #AButterflyHouse #Wallpaper #WallpaperRemoval #DIY #DIYProjects #HowTo
This is such a great method for quickly and easily removing wallpaper from your wall, plus it requires no extra tools! #AButterflyHouse #Wallpaper #WallpaperRemoval #DIY #DIYProjects #HowTo

I'm so excited to paint and decorate! If you want to see how the room turns out, make sure you're following me on Pinterest and Instagram!

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This is such a great method for quickly and easily removing wallpaper from your wall, plus it requires no extra tools! #AButterflyHouse #Wallpaper #WallpaperRemoval #DIY #DIYProjects #HowTo

3 Step DIY Scrap Wood Ornament

You love your pets and think they’re deserving of a spot on your tree too, right? But maybe you’ve already made salt dough paw print ornaments. Or know that those take forever, and don’t want to put the time into them. Well, this is a quick, easy alternative, and I’ve already done most of the work for you!

All you have to do is cut some paper and stain some plywood, and you’re good to go! As an extra bonus, the ornaments turn out super cute despite your very minimal effort! Win!

These super cute DIY scrap wood ornaments are an easy way to honor your pet on your Christmas tree. Some scrap wood, sticker paper, and twine is all it takes! #AButterflyHouse #DIYOrnaments #DIY #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #Ornaments #ScrapWood #ScrapWoodProjects
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3 Step Super Cute Scrap Wood Pet Ornament
Materials
  • Twine
  • 1/4" Plywood
  • Stain
  • Sticker Paper
Step 1: Print and Cut Out Pet Shapes

I have helpfully made a word document that has the paw print, dog bone, and cat face already on it. All you need to do is download it, open it up, and change the names inside to match your pet!

Enter your name and email at right to receive the free pet ornament printable!

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Once you've printed out the document, cut out each of the shapes. I like to use embroidery scissors to do intricate cutting; it just always seems more precise than a large pair!

These super cute DIY scrap wood ornaments are an easy way to honor your pet on your Christmas tree. Some scrap wood, sticker paper, and twine is all it takes! #AButterflyHouse #DIYOrnaments #DIY #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #Ornaments #ScrapWood #ScrapWoodProjects

Note how I cut out the paw print. Ultimately, you'll cut out each of the pieces separately, but keeping them together for now will help us align the piece later.

These super cute DIY scrap wood ornaments are an easy way to honor your pet on your Christmas tree. Some scrap wood, sticker paper, and twine is all it takes! #AButterflyHouse #DIYOrnaments #DIY #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #Ornaments #ScrapWood #ScrapWoodProjects
Step 2: Prepare the Wood

I used a miter saw to cut my plywood into squares. You could also use a jigsaw or circular saw to do the cutting if you don't have a miter saw, but beware, if you do that, this suddenly becomes a bit longer of a project.

For the paw prints, the squares had sides of about 3", while the squares for the bone and cat face were a bit smaller at 2 5/8" per side.

These super cute DIY scrap wood ornaments are an easy way to honor your pet on your Christmas tree. Some scrap wood, sticker paper, and twine is all it takes! #AButterflyHouse #DIYOrnaments #DIY #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #Ornaments #ScrapWood #ScrapWoodProjects

I then used my drill to cut holes at the top of the plywood.

These super cute DIY scrap wood ornaments are an easy way to honor your pet on your Christmas tree. Some scrap wood, sticker paper, and twine is all it takes! #AButterflyHouse #DIYOrnaments #DIY #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #Ornaments #ScrapWood #ScrapWoodProjects

Then stained the plywood with Minwax's English Chestnut, which is something I had around the house. I've stained this plywood before, and knew exactly how it would turn out, but if that's not the case for you, you might want to test your stain on a scrap piece of wood to make sure it's a) the right color, and b) doesn't need wood conditioner.

These super cute DIY scrap wood ornaments are an easy way to honor your pet on your Christmas tree. Some scrap wood, sticker paper, and twine is all it takes! #AButterflyHouse #DIYOrnaments #DIY #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #Ornaments #ScrapWood #ScrapWoodProjects
Step 3: Assemble the Ornament

For the dog bone and cat face, this is as simple as placing the cut-out sticker onto the wood and threading some twine through the hole.

These super cute DIY scrap wood ornaments are an easy way to honor your pet on your Christmas tree. Some scrap wood, sticker paper, and twine is all it takes! #AButterflyHouse #DIYOrnaments #DIY #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #Ornaments #ScrapWood #ScrapWoodProjects

For the pawprints, I made a light pencil outline of the print on the wood before I finished cutting it out. This gave me a guide when arranging the ovals so that the paw print looked right.

These super cute DIY scrap wood ornaments are an easy way to honor your pet on your Christmas tree. Some scrap wood, sticker paper, and twine is all it takes! #AButterflyHouse #DIYOrnaments #DIY #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #Ornaments #ScrapWood #ScrapWoodProjects

You can't see the outline I drew at all, but I swear it's there! Once I'd drawn the outline, I finished cutting out the paw print, and placed each piece on the wood, using the outline I'd drawn as a placement guide.

These super cute DIY scrap wood ornaments are an easy way to honor your pet on your Christmas tree. Some scrap wood, sticker paper, and twine is all it takes! #AButterflyHouse #DIYOrnaments #DIY #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #Ornaments #ScrapWood #ScrapWoodProjects

I made hangers out of twine and a basic knot, and then hung the ornaments on the tree!

These super cute DIY scrap wood ornaments are an easy way to honor your pet on your Christmas tree. Some scrap wood, sticker paper, and twine is all it takes! #AButterflyHouse #DIYOrnaments #DIY #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #Ornaments #ScrapWood #ScrapWoodProjects
These super cute DIY scrap wood ornaments are an easy way to honor your pet on your Christmas tree. Some scrap wood, sticker paper, and twine is all it takes! #AButterflyHouse #DIYOrnaments #DIY #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #Ornaments #ScrapWood #ScrapWoodProjects
These super cute DIY scrap wood ornaments are an easy way to honor your pet on your Christmas tree. Some scrap wood, sticker paper, and twine is all it takes! #AButterflyHouse #DIYOrnaments #DIY #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #Ornaments #ScrapWood #ScrapWoodProjects

Isn't that easy? And they turned out adorable! I wanted to make one for every family I knew that had a pet… but it turns out I don’t know that many people with pets, so instead I have memorial pet ornaments for all the pets who have crossed the rainbow bridge. Whatever works, right? I hope you enjoy them!

Think you might make these? Save it to Pinterest!
These super cute DIY scrap wood ornaments are an easy way to honor your pet on your Christmas tree. Some scrap wood, sticker paper, and twine is all it takes! #AButterflyHouse #DIYOrnaments #DIY #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #Ornaments #ScrapWood #ScrapWoodProjects
Want to see more DIY Ornaments? Follow me on Pinterest and Instagram!
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Before and After: Kitchen Makeover

So, finally, it's here! The post everyone (or at least me) has been waiting for... the kitchen reveal!! I have been working for four months on completely remodeling my kitchen. Here's what I started with:

See how I remodeled and organized a completely dysfunctional kitchen in this room reveal. The kitchen makeover was completely DIY, and took a total of four months! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Kitchen #BeforeandAfter #RoomReveal #Organization #HomeImprovement

Note: This page contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I will be compensated with no additional cost to you.

It wasn't pretty. It wasn't functional (hello, complete lack of appliances.) It was everything I never wanted my kitchen to be. And now I have:

See how I remodeled and organized a completely dysfunctional kitchen in this room reveal. The kitchen makeover was completely DIY, and took a total of four months! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Kitchen #BeforeandAfter #RoomReveal #Organization #HomeImprovement

So much prettier. So much more functional. 

See how I remodeled and organized a completely dysfunctional kitchen in this room reveal. The kitchen makeover was completely DIY, and took a total of four months! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Kitchen #BeforeandAfter #RoomReveal #Organization #HomeImprovement

I am obsessed with these 30 inch wide drawers. They store so much stuff, and give me the perfect "food preparation area." I keep all my food, utensils, mixing bowls, etcetera, in this corner, so I'm not running all over the place trying to make dinner.

See how I remodeled and organized a completely dysfunctional kitchen in this room reveal. The kitchen makeover was completely DIY, and took a total of four months! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Kitchen #BeforeandAfter #RoomReveal #Organization #HomeImprovement

I also absolutely love the butcherblock countertops. Oh my goodness. So pretty. So inexpensive. So easy to prep and install. They are amazing, and I'm so glad I ignored all the people complaining about upkeep. I love them.

On the other side of the room, I started with this:

See how I remodeled and organized a completely dysfunctional kitchen in this room reveal. The kitchen makeover was completely DIY, and took a total of four months! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Kitchen #BeforeandAfter #RoomReveal #Organization #HomeImprovement

I closed up that laundry room door, and now have a much more functional U-shaped kitchen that looks like this:

See how I remodeled and organized a completely dysfunctional kitchen in this room reveal. The kitchen makeover was completely DIY, and took a total of four months! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Kitchen #BeforeandAfter #RoomReveal #Organization #HomeImprovement

My cat, Penny, decided this was the perfect time to perch on the countertop. I went with it.

It doesn't even look like the same kitchen, but I swear, it is. I now use that corner as my "food cooking" area. Everything I need to actually cook food is in the little drawers next to the stove (the stove utensils, oven mitts, etc.) It works so well.

See how I remodeled and organized a completely dysfunctional kitchen in this room reveal. The kitchen makeover was completely DIY, and took a total of four months! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Kitchen #BeforeandAfter #RoomReveal #Organization #HomeImprovement

I also have all my "extra" appliances over there. You know what I'm talking about, right? That waffle iron you use once a year. The air fryer I probably don't really need. Everyone else is guilty of accidentally buying these things too, right?

See how I remodeled and organized a completely dysfunctional kitchen in this room reveal. The kitchen makeover was completely DIY, and took a total of four months! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Kitchen #BeforeandAfter #RoomReveal #Organization #HomeImprovement

I also created a little mudroom for the back door. It's super helpful for keeping organized as I run in and out the door. 

See how I remodeled and organized a completely dysfunctional kitchen in this room reveal. The kitchen makeover was completely DIY, and took a total of four months! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Kitchen #BeforeandAfter #RoomReveal #Organization #HomeImprovement

There is also now seating in the kitchen. It's small, but it works, and I am so excited to have a place to eat breakfast each morning. I made the bar with the leftover butcherblock from the countertop; if you're interested to see the whole process, click here. I am also completely obsessed with the sunflower mirror, which I made from scrap wood and dollar store sunflowers. I thought it'd be cute, but I didn't think it'd be this cute.

See how I remodeled and organized a completely dysfunctional kitchen in this room reveal. The kitchen makeover was completely DIY, and took a total of four months! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Kitchen #BeforeandAfter #RoomReveal #Organization #HomeImprovement
Confession Time...

So finally, there are some things I need to confess. I don't universally love everything. I feel like I'm breaking some kind of blogging rule, that everything I make is suppose to be *amazing* so you feel inspired to go and do your own project. But that's not life, and yes, there are some things I screwed up.

First of all, the wall color. When I moved in, the wall color was the absolute least offensive thing about the kitchen. It was a nice, neutral creamy color. As a result, it did not even occur to me at the beginning of this project to change it. Now that the kitchen is all done and pretty and new looking, the creamy yellow-pink wall color stands out. Big time. It even makes my bar seating area look less cute than it actually is. I suppose I could go back and paint the remaining walls a more-white color, but I am a bit tired of remodeling this kitchen, so that will have to wait.

Secondly, the plywood floors. I don't love them. I detail why in this post, but suffice to say, if I could go back and do the floors in a real flooring type, I would. Granted, I now know that I came in almost $1,000 under budget, so I could've afforded real floors, but I didn't know that at the time.

See how I remodeled and organized a completely dysfunctional kitchen in this room reveal. The kitchen makeover was completely DIY, and took a total of four months! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Kitchen #BeforeandAfter #RoomReveal #Organization #HomeImprovement
Overall Though...

I love my kitchen, and am so excited that I can finally cook real food in it! There is so much storage, which as someone who hoards kitchen supplies, I definitely need. The seating and mudroom area are functionality that I was so thrilled to squeeze out of this tiny kitchen. I am so glad I tackled this project, even if it took four months to do everything myself. And I came under budget, too, which was an exciting bonus!

Thinking of redoing your own kitchen? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below! Additionally, if you like my kitchen, go ahead and save it to Pinterest so you can look at it again later!

See how I remodeled and organized a completely dysfunctional kitchen in this room reveal. The kitchen makeover was completely DIY, and took a total of four months! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Kitchen #BeforeandAfter #RoomReveal #Organization #HomeImprovement
Want to see more room reveals? Follow me on Pinterest and Instagram!
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Budget Kitchen Remodel: How I Kept It Under $10,000

It is a really freeing feeling to be able to start a major remodel project with the knowledge that no matter what you do, no matter how much you screw up, you cannot make the room any worse than how it started. That was my kitchen.

There were no appliances, save a smelly dishwasher and some mini-fridge/toaster oven things I brought in so I wouldn't starve in the meantime. There was no hardware on any of the cabinetry, the drawers didn't operate smoothly, and the 1/2" plywood shelves in the cabinets were moldy and sagging. 

Need to remodel a kitchen on a budget? See how I completely DIY remodeled my kitchen, cabinets and appliances included, for under $10,000. #AButterflyHouse #HomeImprovement #Kitchen #KitchenRemodel #BeforeandAfter #DIY #DIYProjects #Budget

Note: This page contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I will be compensated with no additional cost to you.

The floor consisted of grey peel and stick tile, which I suppose matched the grey laminate countertops. The room was lit by a single light bulb screwed into the ceiling. No cover or anything. Just a light bulb. The overall atmosphere was dark and dull, and I could not imagine anyone wanting to spend a second in that room.

Need to remodel a kitchen on a budget? See how I completely DIY remodeled my kitchen, cabinets and appliances included, for under $10,000. #AButterflyHouse #HomeImprovement #Kitchen #KitchenRemodel #BeforeandAfter #DIY #DIYProjects #Budget

The kitchen needed help, obviously. And some new appliances. But here's the thing: I paid less than $100,000 for this house. Experts (aka, the internet) suggests you not pay more than 10-15% of the value of the house for a kitchen remodel. This house is in a small rural town in the Midwest; I am well aware that I am unlikely to recover remodel costs when I sell the house. Therefore, this remodel needed to be as inexpensive as possible. I was aiming for under $10,000, including appliances and cabinets.

That budget meant I was doing everything myself. The plan. The demolition. The installation. Running utilities. Everything. It took four months. 

The Plan

I started by drawing considering different layouts of the kitchen. The gas line led to the empty wall across from the sink, and a circuit labeled "fridge" supplied an outlet next to the gas line, so I suspect the prior owners kept the stove and fridge on that empty wall (see below!)

Need to remodel a kitchen on a budget? See how I completely DIY remodeled my kitchen, cabinets and appliances included, for under $10,000. #AButterflyHouse #HomeImprovement #Kitchen #KitchenRemodel #BeforeandAfter #DIY #DIYProjects #Budget

But as a kitchen layout goes, that seemed awful. No workspace or storage next to the stove. No counter space to put down things from the fridge. Need an oven mitt? Have fun running across the kitchen. Getting ingredients out of the fridge? Good luck finding a place to put them. I didn't want to move the gas line, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed inevitable.

After I'd drawn about 10 to-scale drawings on graph paper, I finally came up with a layout I could live with. I'd close up the door to the laundry room (and make a new door in the hallway,) line that wall with the stove and cabinets, and place the fridge to the left of the exterior door. See below.

Need to remodel a kitchen on a budget? See how I completely DIY remodeled my kitchen, cabinets and appliances included, for under $10,000. #AButterflyHouse #HomeImprovement #Kitchen #KitchenRemodel #BeforeandAfter #DIY #DIYProjects #Budget
Need to remodel a kitchen on a budget? See how I completely DIY remodeled my kitchen, cabinets and appliances included, for under $10,000. #AButterflyHouse #HomeImprovement #Kitchen #KitchenRemodel #BeforeandAfter #DIY #DIYProjects #Budget

The hand-drawn layout above is a top-down drawing of the base cabinets; I have a similar drawing for the wall cabinets. This was my final base cabinet drawing where I used Ikea cabinets. I have similar drawings with Home Depot's entry line of cabinets, but I ultimately went with Ikea due to the flexibility of choices. The Ikea cabinets were more expensive, but I was able to put drawers exactly where I wanted them, which seemed worth the trade-off.

Note that if you go with Ikea for cabinets, they offer a free in-home measuring service (well, the cost is deducted from your final total,) as well as free in-store consultations to help you plan your kitchen. I am an overconfident idiot who didn't want to drive 90 minutes into the store, so I didn't take them up on these offers, and instead ordered everything online. I missed things, like the rails needed to hang the cabinets and the toekick pieces and a few other things, and ended up driving into St. Louis to purchase them anyway. Don't make my mistakes. Take advantage of their free services.

After determining my layout, I waited a couple days before actually ordering the cabinets and appliances. This was to give me an opportunity to think of reasons this layout wouldn't work. For example, on day 2, I realized that there was a HVAC vent right where I wanted to put the stove. This is really obvious in the photograph I labeled above, but not so obvious if you're just looking at the paper drawn layout. As a result, I ordered a separate cook top and electric oven instead of a range combo so that there would be room for the air to vent. Also: don't forget about your doorway size. I didn't think of this at all, but got lucky that my 30 inch fridge fit through the 30 inch doorway.

The Major Purchases

Finally (aka, about a week after I moved into the house,) I ordered the cabinets and appliances. I got the appliances from Lowes, and was able to hit their 4th of July appliance sale (40% off, plus $200 in rebates, plus an additional 10% off coupon that I had from changing my address.) The only thing was that I ordered an LG Suite of appliances that were special order only, so they didn't come in for a month and a half. This was actually fine, as it gave me time to demo the old kitchen and get the cabinets installed before the appliances arrived. 

If you're curious, I ordered this cooktop, this oven, this microwave, this fridge, and this dishwasher for a total of $3656 (which does not include the $200 rebate I received later.) I picked LG primarily because of the fridge: I only had 30 inches of space and this was one of the few french door refrigerators that was only 30 inches wide. If you're curious about how I feel about any of the appliances, feel free to ask in the comments!

As mentioned above, I got my cabinets from Ikea. I purchased during their big "kitchen event," which is basically a 15% rebate on your purchases. This was nice, in that when I returned to Ikea to purchase all the things I initially forgot, I was able to use my rebate instead of more money. However, I'm not actually convinced this is that great of a deal, because when I returned to Ikea after the kitchen event was over, a number of items were less expensive than when I priced them in July. I didn't go through and compare item by item, so this isn't scientific data by any means, but if you're considering a major purchase, maybe track prices for a while before you buy.

And just to be thorough, I ordered 14 cabinets and a sink from Ikea, which totaled $3095. That does not include the rebate, which I used primarily on accessories for cabinet installation (the rails and toekick pieces). I installed the cabinets myself; if you're curious about how that went, click here

The Prep

The cabinets took about three weeks to come in from the time I ordered them. While this seems annoying, it meant I had time to prep my kitchen for their arrival. Before the cabinets arrived I closed up the laundry room door/ opened a new doorway for the laundry room, installed a new electrical circuit (and ran the wire) for the electric oven, tore out the old cabinets and countertop, removed the peel and stick flooring from the floor, and installed a new plywood floor.

Need to remodel a kitchen on a budget? See how I completely DIY remodeled my kitchen, cabinets and appliances included, for under $10,000. #AButterflyHouse #HomeImprovement #Kitchen #KitchenRemodel #BeforeandAfter #DIY #DIYProjects #Budget

You'll note that I did not write a post on how to add a new circuit to your circuit breaker. That is because I am not at all qualified to be giving anyone electrical advice. I was super nervous that I was going to accidentally burn my house down, or electrocute myself, or something else dramatic (and if you do any of these things, I cannot be held responsible,) but guys, it was actually really not that hard. I did a bunch of research (I'm talking 4-5 hours worth) before I started, so I had a decent idea of what to do and what not to touch. It probably took me between 2 and 3 hours to actually run the wire, and most of that was spent wrangling the Romex into the right places.

The internet will tell you to hire someone. Maybe they're right. But my philosophy is that you'll never learn a new skill unless you take chances (make mistakes, and get messy!) 

Need to remodel a kitchen on a budget? See how I completely DIY remodeled my kitchen, cabinets and appliances included, for under $10,000. #AButterflyHouse #HomeImprovement #Kitchen #KitchenRemodel #BeforeandAfter #DIY #DIYProjects #Budget

For the record, the new electrical circuit I ran (the orange Romex on the left side of the photo) remained off until I connected the Romex to the oven.

The other thing I did before the cabinets arrived was move the gas line. I told you the electrical line was easy, right? Well, the gas line was not. Theoretically, gas lines are simple. Screw connecting pieces together until you end up where you want to be. It's a simple process. However, the stakes are high, and if you don't tighten the pipes enough, you'll have a gas leak, and then maybe your house will blow up*, and that seems bad.

*This sentence comes from the fear portion of my brain. My dad, a chemical engineer who spent the majority of his career at an industrial gas company, says that residential gas lines are barely pressurized at all, and it would take a leak in a basement at least a couple days to really be dangerous. I repeated this to myself throughout the entire project.

So, the entire gas line project I was paranoid I would under-tighten the pipes. Therefore, I was thorough in my tightening. This was miserable. I am neither large nor strong. It took every ounce of effort I had to get those pipes tight enough. Mid-project, I promised myself that if there was a leak when I was done, I would hire someone to come fix it, because there was no way I was going to do this again. Lucky for me, when the gas company guy came out to turn on the gas after I was done, he assured me there were no leaks. Thank god.

The Installation

Once the cabinets arrived and were installed, things started picking up. I purchased and installed my butcherblock countertops. I got them from Menards for a couple reasons, the first being that Ikea doesn't seem to have the solid butcherblock selection that they used to. There wasn't any in stock when I was looking. Additionally, the Menards butcherblock is 1.5" thick, costing $160 for an 8 foot length. This is less expensive than Home Depot, Lowes, and Ikea, and for thicker countertop. 

I was able to purchase the countertops during Menards 11% rebate sale (which they seem to have pretty regularly,) and therefore got $50 back. However, the countertops went on sale for around $130 a piece a couple weeks later, which was a way better deal. Super frustrating, no?

Need to remodel a kitchen on a budget? See how I completely DIY remodeled my kitchen, cabinets and appliances included, for under $10,000. #AButterflyHouse #HomeImprovement #Kitchen #KitchenRemodel #BeforeandAfter #DIY #DIYProjects #Budget

The appliances arrived shortly after I got the countertops (and this awesome pull-out towel rack) installed. When I ordered them, I didn't think much about installation, other than "I'll install them." Big mistake. Installing appliances is an involved process. Who knew? The fridge had to be connected to the water line. The oven had to be hooked up to the electrical line. The cooktop had to be connected to the gas. The dishwasher had to be hooked up to water and to the drain line. The microwave had to be mounted. I pretty much needed a full day for each of these.

The Finishing Touches

I finally, finally, got to the part of the project I was actually comfortable completing. If you were thinking this whole time "Oh, Lindsay's handy, she knew how to do all of this; I could never do this." No. I had no idea what I was doing. I had never opened a wall before. I had never even changed an electrical outlet, let alone install a circuit. I had never worked with any sort of pipe. I had never installed appliances. I had never done any of this. But I got through it. And finally, I got to do the pretty stuff, the things I had done before.

First up was the backsplash. The walls were weird, but whatever, I was so happy to be doing something I knew how to do I didn't care. I then created a mini-mudroom out of a corner of the room to help organize my primary entrance. Finally, I made a seating area out of the leftover butcherblock, which I was so, so excited to have!

Need to remodel a kitchen on a budget? See how I completely DIY remodeled my kitchen, cabinets and appliances included, for under $10,000. #AButterflyHouse #HomeImprovement #Kitchen #KitchenRemodel #BeforeandAfter #DIY #DIYProjects #Budget
The Cost

I did the best I could to track every cost I had, but disclaimer here: there were probably a few small things that I bought in town that slipped through the radar (wood filler, the occasional 2x4, etc.) Additionally, all the costs below are pre-rebate. Regardless, here is my best estimate of the costs I incurred transforming my kitchen!

Project/Item
Cost

Appliances

$3656

$3095

$567

$263

Cabinet Hardware

$64

Electrical Circuit

$229

Kitchen Faucet

$206

$42

Appliance Installation Supplies

$65

Roman Window Shade

$29

Gas Line

$47

Cabinet Extension Project

$111

$62

Bar

$46

$33

$165

$82

Blinds

$17

Ceiling Light

$130

Light Above the Sink

$10

$25

$73

Total
$9017

I manged to come in almost $1000 dollars under budget, which is fantastic, especially since I wasn't tracking super closely during the project- I basically just threw all the receipts in a folder, and tried to limit my expenses as much as I could!

I am super, super excited to share the final reveal with you! Click on over to see it!

Need to remodel a kitchen on a budget? See how I completely DIY remodeled my kitchen, cabinets and appliances included, for under $10,000. #AButterflyHouse #HomeImprovement #Kitchen #KitchenRemodel #BeforeandAfter #DIY #DIYProjects #Budget

Make sure you're following me on Pinterest and Instagram so you don't miss out on any other room remodels! I'll be sure to post about them!

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And if you liked this post, or are considering remodeling your kitchen soon, save it to Pinterest!

Need to remodel a kitchen on a budget? See how I completely DIY remodeled my kitchen, cabinets and appliances included, for under $10,000. #AButterflyHouse #HomeImprovement #Kitchen #KitchenRemodel #BeforeandAfter #DIY #DIYProjects #Budget

The Ultimate Guide to Harbor Freight

Important Note 1: This is NOT a sponsored post. I just think Harbor Freight can save you a bunch of money, and I wanted you to know!

If I asked most people to name the major home improvement stores in the United States, I'd probably hear Home Depot, Lowes, and if they live in the Midwest, Menards. But they have an often overlooked competitor that I'd like to talk about today!

What is Harbor Freight?

Harbor Freight is a low-cost tool supply store that is located throughout the continental United States. They have locations in most medium-large size cities and towns, so there's likely to be a store somewhere near you. They specializes in affordable tools and supplies- meaning things like saws, sanders, sandpaper, measuring tools, clamps, etc. They don't sell raw material, like lumber, plywood, or nails and screws. 

In addition to having super low prices, Harbor Freight has a coupon based sales strategy. In addition to the coupons sent out in their monthly mailer, coupons can be found in DIY magazines and the ad sections of newspapers, as well as struggleville.net if you don't have access to any of the other sources.

If you've never heard of them, and you're wondering why, there are a couple reasons. First of all, the trade off for such low prices is that the items are of lower quality. As a result, bloggers hesitate to recommend them. Additionally, Harbor Freight doesn't have an affiliate program, so for internet DIY-ers, they would be recommending an inferior product for absolutely no personal gain. However, I think that Harbor Freight is a great way to save money when you don't need something super high quality, so I wanted to ensure you guys have the best information on how to shop there.

The Basics

Important Note 2: While the Harbor Freight links are not affiliate links (I just like Harbor Freight,) some of the other links are, meaning I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I don't recommend anything that I don't use and love!

If you're doing all your shopping at Home Depot and Lowes, you're wasting money. Come see how Harbor Freight can help you save, what you should be buying, and what tools you should avoid! #AButterflyHouse #savingmoney #powertools #tools #budget

If you walk into Harbor Freight without at least two coupons in hand, you're doing something wrong. There are three different types of coupons available, and two of the three can be used on anything:

  • Freebie Coupons- Harbor Freight has a number of items that they offer "free with any purchase." And if you're thinking they're items nobody would want, think again. Even non-DIYers need tape measures and basic screwdrivers. 
  • % Off Coupons- Every Harbor Freight mailer typically has at least one 20% off a single item coupon. Occasionally I'll see 25% off coupons that are only good on a specific day. Unfortunately you can only use one of these coupons per purchase.
  • Item Coupons- These coupons give a specific item at a specific price.

When I go into Harbor Freight, I typically have a freebie coupon, a 20% off coupon, and any item specific coupons I intend to use. Unfortunately, you can't use more than one coupon on the same item. However, if you only intend to purchase one item, say some sanding blocks, you can use the 20% off coupon on the sanding blocks, pick up a tape measure, and use a freebie coupon on the tape measure. Thus, even if you're only purchasing one item, you should always have two coupons!

The Freebies
If you're doing all your shopping at Home Depot and Lowes, you're wasting money. Come see how Harbor Freight can help you save, what you should be buying, and what tools you should avoid! #AButterflyHouse #savingmoney #powertools #tools #budget

I've mentioned the freebies a lot, because I swear, they're things that are actually useful. The following are my very favorite freebies, although they have more that I'm sure are worthwhile as well. To see the full list of freebies, plus current coupons for each, click here.

  • Tape Measure- It's a tape measure. It works. I have no idea why anyone would ever purchase a tape measure when you can get this one for free.
  • 6 Pieces Screwdriver Set- Basic screwdrivers. I'm always losing screwdrivers. I feel a heck of a lot less sad about that when they're free.
  • 7 Function Digital Multimeter- A few years back my dad told me to pick this up as my freebie next time I was at Harbor Freight. I literally had no idea what it was or how to use it. Three years later, all I really know how to do with it is test my outlets for power, but that sole use has made the multimeter invaluable to me.
  • Microfiber Cloths- These things are super low quality microfiber, but they're free rags, so I still find them useful.
  • Electronic Fly Swatter- This is the only device I can actually manage to kill flies with. Super great. The only downside is it doesn't come with batteries, so you will have to purchase those.
  • Big Blue Flashlight- Harbor Freight actually has two freebie flashlights. I like the blue one better simply because it's bigger and it hangs!
  • 40" x 50" Moving Blanket- I use this as a dropcloth. I used to use the plastic blue tarps (also freebies,) however dried paint would flake off and make a mess, plus the plastic didn't fold easily. I therefore switched to the moving blankets, although they are a little smaller.
Items Worth Buying
If you're doing all your shopping at Home Depot and Lowes, you're wasting money. Come see how Harbor Freight can help you save, what you should be buying, and what tools you should avoid! #AButterflyHouse #savingmoney #powertools #tools #budget

So as mentioned earlier, one of the cons of Harbor Freight is that the items are lower quality than you'd find at other stores. Here's a list of items I've purchased and had a good experience with.

  • Pittsburgh 7 in. Rafter Angle Square- This is amazing. I’m not totally sure who or what exactly this is intended for (roofers is some capacity?) but for the average DIY-er, it’s great. I use it constantly to check if my angles are square, to make sure I’m drawing a perpendicular line, and when I need to draw an angle for a cut. Also, it’s a piece of plastic, so Harbor Freight couldn’t really screw it up. $4.
  • 10 pc Foam Brush Kit- Do not be fooled. These are crap. They will ultimately fall apart. But- they are super cheap, and will probably make it through an hour’s worth of staining. Which is exactly what you need them to do, and then you throw them out, because nobody ever wants to clean up stain or any other sort of oil-based product. In fact, cleaning the brushes is probably more expensive than the actual brush itself, because mineral spirits are way more pricy than these things.
  • Sandpaper Sponges- Harbor Freight sells a variety of different sizes and grits, so pick what works for your project. In general, these are awesome for getting into nooks and crannies that a sander wont be able to reach. Additionally, it’s nice to have something to hold on to, since I don’t own any sort of sanding block for hand sanding. Each one actually lasts a surprisingly long time, and I use them pretty frequently.
  • Clamps- They're cheap and they work. Why pay the big bucks when you can get something effective for less?
  • Sisal Rope- I used this to make my Farmhouse Doormat project, and it was perfect. It's hard to mess up rope.
  • Levels- If you're doing any project that requires leveling over a long distance (installing shelves or cabinets, for example), save yourself money and purchase your levels from Harbor Freight.
  • Hardwood Dolly- This is essential for anyone who purchases thrift store or yard sale furniture. As a single girl who is not inclined to ask for help, it was my secret to moving heavy pieces from the car into the house. Super useful.
  • Wire Strippers- This one is actually surprising, because wire strippers are easy to mess up. They need to be super precise to accurately strip wires of insulation without damaging the wire inside. Regardless, Harbor Freight has actually done a decent job with these wire strippers; they strip the wire quickly and effectively without any extra damage.
Items to Avoid

Now, I know I've raved about Harbor Freight for most of this post, but I have purchased things that were complete busts. Here's the items from Harbor Freight that were completely useless.

  • Sandpaper: It seems great. Ten pieces, for around four dollars! Compared to Home Depot, where you pay more for half that amount, it seems like a bargain. And it’s sandpaper, right? What could go wrong? Everything. This stuff rips so easily that you will spend more time replacing the paper on your sander than you will actually sanding. I never went through and collected data to see which one was cheaper, but I would be willing to bet that the four sheets of higher quality Home Depot 3M Sandpaper will actually sand more of your project than the ten sheets of Harbor Freight Sandpaper would.
  • DrillMaster ¼ Sheet Orbital Palm Sander- Back when this still worked, I would sand. And sand. And sand. And even with a low grit number, it seemed like no progress was made. I knew some palm sanders worked, because in some of the wood shops I worked in, I would use nicer palm sanders and sanding would happen. So I sat around and wondered what was wrong with me and my projects at home, because clearly this sander shook a bit or something, so why was nothing sanding? I never quite figured it out, so one day, when this sander turned off mid-sanding and refused to turn back on, I went and got a nice sander (this one, actually) and never looked back. 
  • Batteries- The batteries at Harbor Freight are super cheap and therefore super tempting. Resist. I once bought (or got as a freebie) some AAA batteries to keep in my classroom for kids who needed them for their graphing calculators. The very first day I gave some out, they leaked in a calculator. That $100+ calculator never turned back on. Just say no.

Clearly, there are some great deals to be had at Harbor Freight. There are also some things (I'm talking about you, calculator-ruining batteries) that you should absolutely never, ever buy. I hope this guide gave you an idea of what those things are! If you have any questions about a Harbor Freight item, feel free to ask in the comments below, or shoot me an email. I'd love to hear from you!

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How to Sew a Ruffled Towel (Even if You’re a Beginner)

Lets talk about towels. I have one rule about towels: they must be absorbent. You know what I'm talking about, right? You go into the bathroom to wash your hands, try to dry them on the nearest towel, and absolutely nothing happens because that towel is one of the cutesy ones that doesn't absorb anything. If you're in the house of a sane person, you might be able to turn around and find another, more absorbent towel nearby. Otherwise, you stand there shaking water off your hands and cursing this person who thought decor towels were a good idea.

This happens to other people too, right? Not just me??

So obviously, when planning out my kitchen, I wanted my kitchen towels to be absorbent. None of this decor towel crap. But I wanted my towels to be pretty too, because the were going to be on display and all. Since I am immediately distrustful of any decor towel actually being functional, I decided to make my own!

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DIY Ruffled Kitchen Towels
Materials (For 2 Towels)

- 1 Yard Terrycloth Fabric- I used Joann Fabric's "Vanilla" color, which was more yellow than cream. They also have a "yellow" color, but I decided the lighter vanilla color was more what I was looking for. 
- 1 Yard Diper Cloth Utility Fabric - I used this to make my ruffles, and it is only available in white. I'm sure if you wanted a different color, or even a pattern, other fabrics would work just as well.
- Matching thread
- Ruffler Foot- I don't know much about sewing machines, or really, sewing in general. However, in this project I learned there are two types of sewing machines; high shank and low shank. I don't know what that is, but I do know that you have to get the type of Ruffler Foot that matches your machine. Do your research on what machine you have! Mine is a low-shank Brother machine, and this Singer Rufffler Foot worked perfectly!

Step 1: Make Base Towel

I cut my terry cloth fabric to be 27" by 19" in order to make a towel that had a final size of 26" x 19". If you were curious, I measured a dishtowel I already had to figure out what size my final towel should be!

Learn to sew a DIY Ruffled Kitchen Towel- Even if you're a beginner! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Crafts #Sewing #Kitchen

Then I pinned and pressed my fabric along all edges to have a 1/2" hem. I have no idea why pressing is necessary, since you're about to sew the fabric, but that's what all the knowledgable sewing people seem to do, so like a good follower, I pressed my fabric first.

Learn to sew a DIY Ruffled Kitchen Towel- Even if you're a beginner! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Crafts #Sewing #Kitchen

Finally I sewed all around the perimeter of the towel to create a finished edge. My sewing skills are mediocre, so my lines aren't perfectly straight, but I don't think anyone will notice unless they decide to inspect my towel...

Learn to sew a DIY Ruffled Kitchen Towel- Even if you're a beginner! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Crafts #Sewing #Kitchen

You can barely see my seams in the above photo.. but they're there, I promise!

Step 2: Prep Ruffler Foot

Full disclosure: I spent about an hour figuring out the Ruffler Foot before starting to actually make my ruffles. I think I watched this video produced by Singer about six times. Additionally, I highly recommend you practice on some scrap fabric before you start. 

Learn to sew a DIY Ruffled Kitchen Towel- Even if you're a beginner! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Crafts #Sewing #Kitchen

Practicing with scrap fabric not only helps you figure out how to use the Ruffler Foot, but allows you to decided what setting/how often you want the Ruffler Foot to ruffle.

Other important note: be very careful when installing the Ruffler Foot to ensure your needle is aligned with the foot before you sew. I broke not one, but two needles when setting up, because the needle hit the metal part of the foot when it tried to sew. Oops.

Learn to sew a DIY Ruffled Kitchen Towel- Even if you're a beginner! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Crafts #Sewing #Kitchen

One of my sad, broken needles.

Step 3: Ruffle!!

I cut my diper cloth into 4" wide strips, then Ruffled all the strips assembly line style using the sewing machine. I had the machine set to Ruffle every 6 stitches, however they appeared to be super small stitches because my fabric was so light. Keep that in mind if you're using different fabric!

Learn to sew a DIY Ruffled Kitchen Towel- Even if you're a beginner! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Crafts #Sewing #Kitchen
Step 4: Hem Ruffled Fabric

After ruffling, I hemmed the other three sides of each strip. In retrospect, I think I should have done this before ruffling, and hemmed all four sides to help prevent the ruffled portion from unraveling. If you do this project and hem first, let me know how it goes!

Learn to sew a DIY Ruffled Kitchen Towel- Even if you're a beginner! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Crafts #Sewing #Kitchen

Hemmed fabric!

Step 5: Attach Ruffled Fabric to Towel

I pinned the ruffled fabric to the towel, testing and moving the fabric around until I liked the spacing of the ruffles.

Learn to sew a DIY Ruffled Kitchen Towel- Even if you're a beginner! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Crafts #Sewing #Kitchen

Note that this ruffle is a little short; it doesn't span the full length of the towel. That's okay, since I'll put a longer piece on top of it, so the short ends won't be seen.

Learn to sew a DIY Ruffled Kitchen Towel- Even if you're a beginner! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Crafts #Sewing #Kitchen

All done!

Learn to sew a DIY Ruffled Kitchen Towel- Even if you're a beginner! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #Crafts #Sewing #Kitchen

I love the way these little towels soften the room. They're super absorbent, and crazy handy to have around! Plus, they're a great project to practice a new sewing technique on (or just plain practicing sewing, if you're anything like me...)

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Simple DIY Snowman Ornaments

Guess what everyone? It snowed this weekend! Now, as someone who hasn't lived somewhere that gets snow in about a decade, I was pretty excited. Not only because of the snow, but because for the first time in ages, it actually felt like Christmas. I can't be the only one whose childhood programmed them to only feel Christmas-y when it's cold and snowing outside, right?

Now, full disclosure, it's actually mid-November. Not exactly Christmas, yet. But I wasn't about to let the Christmas spirit totally pass me by, so I spent the day making these super cute DIY snowman ornaments.

These super cute DIY snowman block ornaments are an easy craft to make and will look great on your Christmas tree! Full tutorial shows you step by step how to complete the project! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYCrafts #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #ChristmasDecor #DIYOrnaments #DIYChristmasOrnaments

These snowmen are super cute and easy, and are made mostly with supplies DIY-ers already had around the house. I picked up some wooden blocks from Home Depot, but that was it!

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DIY Snowman Ornaments
Materials

- Wooden Blocks- I got a set of eight from Home Depot for around 3 dollars. I'm sure you could find them at most craft stores (as well as Amazon!)

- Sandpaper- I used 120 grit and 220 grit sandpaper, but combo of a medium and fine grit sandpaper would probably be fine.

- White Paint- I used acrylic craft paint since I had it around the house, but honestly, latex or spray paint would probably be fine too.

- Small Paint Brush

- Black and Orange Sharpie (or acrylic paint)- I used a sharpie to draw the face on, because I thought I'd have better control with a pen than I would with paint, but either would probably work.

- Ribbon (for bow)

- Twine or String (for hanging)

- Screw Eyes- I have these tiny ones left over from another project. They were perfect for this, but if you only have larger ones, they'd probably be fine too.

- Hot Glue and Gun

- Drill and 1/16" Drill Bit- For drilling a pilot hole for the eyelet screw. 

Step 1: Paint the Blocks

I painted all of the blocks with two coats of white acrylic paint. The paint dries super fast, so with actually went pretty quickly.

These super cute DIY snowman block ornaments are an easy craft to make and will look great on your Christmas tree! Full tutorial shows you step by step how to complete the project! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYCrafts #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #ChristmasDecor #DIYOrnaments #DIYChristmasOrnaments
Step 2: Sand the Blocks

I wanted to have a little bit of contrast around the face of the snowmen, so I sanded all the edges on all the blocks with 120 grit sandpaper. This was definitely the most time consuming step, and honestly, probably doesn't make that big of a difference in the final product, so you could probably skip it if you're short on time.

I also sanded the faces of the blocks with 220 grit sandpaper, since they felt a bit bumpy. I would recommend doing this- it goes fast, and makes the blocks seem much nicer.

These super cute DIY snowman block ornaments are an easy craft to make and will look great on your Christmas tree! Full tutorial shows you step by step how to complete the project! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYCrafts #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #ChristmasDecor #DIYOrnaments #DIYChristmasOrnaments

 Do you see how wood is visible at the edges of the blocks? That's from my sanding!

Step 3: Draw/Paint the Faces

I had both black and orange acrylic paint and Sharpies. I ultimately decided to use the Sharpies, because I thought I'd have better control over it, however I think the paint is definitely an option if you have small brushes and are somewhat skilled at painting.

These super cute DIY snowman block ornaments are an easy craft to make and will look great on your Christmas tree! Full tutorial shows you step by step how to complete the project! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYCrafts #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #ChristmasDecor #DIYOrnaments #DIYChristmasOrnaments
Step 4: Add Screw Eyes

I started by drilling a single, tiny pilot hole in the top of each snowman. I just eyeballed the center- no need to measure.

These super cute DIY snowman block ornaments are an easy craft to make and will look great on your Christmas tree! Full tutorial shows you step by step how to complete the project! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYCrafts #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #ChristmasDecor #DIYOrnaments #DIYChristmasOrnaments

Then I screwed (by hand) the screw eyes into each of the holes.

These super cute DIY snowman block ornaments are an easy craft to make and will look great on your Christmas tree! Full tutorial shows you step by step how to complete the project! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYCrafts #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #ChristmasDecor #DIYOrnaments #DIYChristmasOrnaments
Step 5: Add Twine or String

Thread a 8-10 inch piece (I eyeballed this too...) into the screw eye and tie a knot. I wanted the knot to stay at the screw eye, so I secured it there with some hot glue. 

Step 6: Make and Add Bow

If you're thinking "oh no, I'm terrible at making bows," it's okay, me too. Every time I go to make a bow, it turns out crazy. But for these, I followed this handy 4-step process by Better Home and Gardens, and they turned out at least semi-cute.

These super cute DIY snowman block ornaments are an easy craft to make and will look great on your Christmas tree! Full tutorial shows you step by step how to complete the project! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYCrafts #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #ChristmasDecor #DIYOrnaments #DIYChristmasOrnaments

To add the bow, I simply secured it to screw eye with hot glue.

These super cute DIY snowman block ornaments are an easy craft to make and will look great on your Christmas tree! Full tutorial shows you step by step how to complete the project! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYCrafts #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #ChristmasDecor #DIYOrnaments #DIYChristmasOrnaments

While I haven't put up my tree yet, I am now super excited to do so! The snowmen ornaments will look so cute! I plan to put a couple on my tree, and give the rest away as Christmas gifts. While I don't have any kids of my own, as a former teacher, I think these would be an awesome holiday teacher gift for those of you looking for ideas! If you make them, let me know what you do with them in the comments!

These super cute DIY snowman block ornaments are an easy craft to make and will look great on your Christmas tree! Full tutorial shows you step by step how to complete the project! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYCrafts #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #ChristmasDecor #DIYOrnaments #DIYChristmasOrnaments
Think you might make this? Save it on Pinterest!
These super cute DIY snowman block ornaments are an easy craft to make and will look great on your Christmas tree! Full tutorial shows you step by step how to complete the project! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYCrafts #DIYProjects #ChristmasCrafts #ChristmasDecor #DIYOrnaments #DIYChristmasOrnaments
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