Hotel-style Bathroom Makeover

hotel-style-bathroom

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

One of the things I look forward to the most when traveling, is staying in a hotel room. I love hotels! Everything is (usually) so new and perfect, and knowing that I don’t have to clean up anything is instantly relaxing. Not that I party like a rockstar in my room and trash it, I actually keep things very tidy, but it’s nice to look around and not be reminded of all the repairs that should be made, bills that need to be paid, or chores that must be done. I wanted to carry this same sense of luxury and relaxation into my bedroom, but that would be a much bigger project than I’m ready to tackle right now, and overall, I’m happy with the way my bedroom looks. Instead, we took this challenge into our master bathroom where it was seriously needed.

I hated our bathroom. I hated the dated faucet, the flat wall mirror, and that we had to keep the counter cluttered with all our random personal items because there was nowhere else to put them. I hated the boring beige color of the walls, I hated the broken cabinets which were falling apart and had been glued back together on at least one occasion, and I hated the shower curtain which Carlos chose. (One day he complained that I never let him make any of the decorating decisions and the hideous shower curtain was the result of that argument – I have loathed it ever since.)

bathroom-before-collage-latinaish

So, it was decided – the master bathroom needed to be updated and I wanted to do it “hotel-style” but on a budget – always on a budget! Here are the instructions for what we did in case you want to do something similar. The project will take less than the weekend and you get a lot of bang for your buck. It’s really worth doing!

Hotel-style Bathroom Makeover

1. Using “FrogTape”, tape off anything you don’t want to get paint on. (i.e. floor and ceiling trim, around windows, around door frames, etc.) Remove the switch plates on light switches, too.

2. Remove the wall mirror – sounds easy, but this was a new experience for us. First, the mirror should be taped, (we used the “FrogTape” since it was handy.) We did a criss-cross pattern and then to be extra cautious, we taped it completely over with vertical pieces as well. The reason for doing this is in case the mirror cracks, this helps prevent it from shattering into a million pieces. You should also be wearing eye protection. Once you have removed any screws and brackets, you may find that the mirror is attached to the wall by some sort of adhesive. Use a length of wire and run it behind the mirror. Use a sawing motion to loosen the mirror up for removal. You should have at least two people for this procedure, as one person should be holding the mirror so it doesn’t abruptly fall when it becomes loose.

mirror-removal-tip

3. Patch any holes in the wall with caulk and then sand down any unevenness when the caulk is dry.

4. Paint the walls the color of your choice. For this project I used Valspar Silver Leaf 4006-1A in semi-gloss, (and I love it!)

5. We replaced the flat wall mirror with a medicine cabinet, which maybe isn’t in keeping with the “hotel-style” theme, but it was necessary to eliminate counter-top clutter. (Instructions are included with it.)

6. Following the instructions that come with it, install a metal hotel-style towel rack/shelf, (which we later stocked with some new white towels.)

7. Remove the old cabinet doors on your under the sink cabinet by unscrewing them from the hinges. Measure the doors and purchase 1/2 inch thick lumber cut to your specifications. (Lowe’s will do it for you free!) You can also buy new hinges (or use the old ones, if you want), new knobs, desired paint color (we used some black we already had on hand), paint supplies, and self-adhering felt pads.

8. Use sandpaper to rough up the surface of your cabinets so that the paint will better adhere. Paint the cabinet and the new doors. It may take a couple coats depending on what your cabinets are made of, the color it was before painting, and the color you are painting it.

9. Pre-drill holes for the knobs, then attach the knobs. Carefully measure and mark the doors and the cabinet for the hinges. Pre-drill holes for the hinges being careful not to go all the way through. Also, be very sure that the screws for your hinges are not so long that they’ll go through the other side. Attach the doors to the hinges and then the hinges to the cabinet. (If you prefer, you can first attach the hinges to the cabinet and then attach the doors – whichever is more comfortable for you.) Place a self-adhering felt pad on the inside of each door in the upper corner where it comes into contact with the cabinet – this will soften the noise of them closing and prevent the doors from getting banged up. Your cabinet should look brand new, and for a fraction of the cost and work involved in replacing the whole thing!

hotel-bathroom-4

10. Update the sink by replacing dated faucet handles. Don’t forget to turn the water off first and follow the instructions that come with them. (We bought this chrome faucet and are very happy with it.)

11. Replace switch plates and electrical outlet covers. We just bought new plastic ones in a basic white color and they look nice and clean, but if you want to splurge, there are plenty of fancier ones to choose from.

12. Add accessories sparingly! Now that your bathroom is clean and uncluttered, don’t junk it back up with too much stuff. We put up a simple white wall clock, (Carlos likes to keep track of the time while getting ready for work), and I stuck a small plant in a hurricane glass. I decided not to hang up any wall art for now because I like how it feels without it.

That’s it! Now run yourself a bath, turn on Shakira’s new album, and tell everyone to leave you alone while you pretend you’re on vacation in a hotel bathroom for an hour or two!

before-after-bathroom

finished-bathroom-makeover-1

hotel-bathroom-2

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Organízate!

get-organized

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

Carlos wouldn’t describe me as an organized person but it seems to me I’m always organizing something, and this past month I tackled an area of our casita we were both unhappy with – the laundry room.

laundry-room-before

First let me explain, our house is small – So small in fact that we don’t have a basement, garage, attic or extra bedroom, (also known as the places most people stash all kinds of random, little-used and seasonal things.) Because of this lack of storage space, the laundry room has become our “catch all” area – specifically, the shelf hidden behind the blue curtain.

The level of disorganization behind that curtain was so horrible that I was too ashamed to even take a photo of it. Something had to be done.

We took down the curtain (which is on an adjustable rod), and then sorted everything into categories. Some of the things we kept, some we donated and some went into the trash.

Next we removed the wire shelving so we could give the scratched up wall a much needed coat of paint after first repairing emergency “access doors” that had been haphazardly cut into the drywall to fix leaks years ago.

Taping off the trim with painter’s tape made the job easier. I let my younger son choose the paint color and he chose “Green Supreme” by Valspar.

Once the paint had dried, we had a decision to make. We could install cabinets which is more difficult and much more expensive, or we could put the wire shelving back and organize our things into baskets. I chose the basket route which I think was the right choice since a lot of important pipes are inside that wall and putting up cabinets would make it difficult to access them in an emergency.

I also decided not to get rid of the curtain entirely as I had originally planned – reinstalling it under the shelf meant I could hide the unsightly washer hoses, (and this also helps prevent the loss of runaway calcetines that somehow get flung back there.)

laundry-room-after

We’re much happier with the way it looks and being organized is a great way to start the new year.

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

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¡Viva la Nieve!

worx-snowthrower-assembly1

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. A WORX 13-Amp 18-in Electric Snow Blower was provided for review purposes. No other compensation was or will be received. All opinions are my own.

The day after we had already shoveled out of our first snow of the season, the new snow blower arrived at our door, (Carlos didn’t find that as amusing as I did.) Nevertheless, he got to work assembling the snow blower right away to prepare for the storm forecast for the next day.

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The assembly instructions that come with it are in both English and Spanish. In our experience, Spanish instructions often aren’t as good as the English, but these seemed to be equally accurate and included the same illustrations for each. That being said, despite Spanish being his first language, Carlos used the English version as he almost always does to assemble things. My theory as to why he does this? He learned vocabulary for tools, hardware and the verbs associated with those words in English through various labor jobs he’s had over the years in the United States, not in Spanish while growing up in El Salvador. Interesting, isn’t it? Are there any situations in which you prefer to use your second language rather than your native language?

It took no more than 30 minutes for Carlos to put the snow blower together and then we waited for the flakes to fall. We didn’t have to wait long as several inches of heavy, wet snow piled up the next day.

The snow blower instructions encourage you to set it outside for a few minutes so it can adjust to the temperature, so once the snow stopped, we did that and later brought it out to our driveway where we plugged the extension cord into it. (We purchased a blue-colored outdoor extension cord especially designed for cold weather at Lowe’s.)

Carlos used it first before showing me how. I liked how easy it was to start. You push the button and squeeze the handles to start it. To stop it, you just let the handles go, (which is an excellent safety feature in case you slip on the icy pavement.)

worx-snowthrower-handle

I found the snow thrower to be really lightweight and easy to handle. We were impressed with how far it threw the snow and how simple it was to turn the little crank and change the direction in which it throws the snow. As far as noise level – it wasn’t whisper quiet, but it wasn’t louder than expected either. You can see and hear it in action for yourself in the video below.

As for the actual job it did of clearing the snow – we were satisfied given the fact that our driveway is over a decade old and has never been properly sealed or re-paved. In other words, the texture of our driveway is really rough, so it’s difficult to get it perfectly clean regardless of what we use.

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We used a snow shovel in one section to compare and the shovel didn’t do any better than the snow blower, at least with this particular type and amount of snow.

shovel-snow

A week later it snowed again, another few inches of the same type of snow, and the snow blower worked again without any problems whatsoever. While we didn’t feel the snow blower sped up the process of removing the snow, and may actually have taken a little longer than a shovel due to setting it up, the benefit of not waking up the next morning with back pain made it worth it. Using the snow blower also means we have energy left after we clear our own driveway and so we’re better able to help our elderly neighbors. (Which is not a totally unselfish act. Sometimes they give us cookies to thank us. I find cookies motivating.)

Interested in learning more? Check out information and reviews of this snow blower at Lowes.com, or on the the WORX website. You can follow WORX tools on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Do-it-Yourself Lotería Ornaments

Do-it-yourself Mexican Bingo Lotería Ornaments

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

Each year we decorate the tree and each year I’m not content with the ornaments I have to choose from or the ones available at the store. None of the ornaments are quite what I’m looking for which means I end up looking for unconventional ways to remedy the situation. One year I even ended up hanging capiruchos on the tree!

This year I decided I’ll make my own ornaments. Because the holiday season is so hectic, I wanted something that wouldn’t take too long, and because the budget is tight this time of year, I didn’t want it to be too expensive either. Here is the craft that resulted!

These Loteria ornaments took me about two hours from start to finish and cost about $15 if, like me, you have many of these items on hand already. I’m so happy with the way they came out. I can’t wait to decorate the tree. Here’s how you can make your own custom ornaments for yourself or as a gift. Will you make Loteria ornaments or something else? Other ideas: family photos, photos of your native country (if you live elsewhere) or, the covers of favorite books – the possibilities are endless!

Custom Handmade Ornaments

What you need:

Jigsaw, table saw or handsaw
Safety glasses
3/8 x 3 x 24″ pine craft board (two)
#216 – ½ x ½ in. zinc screw eyes, 10 pack (three)
Medium grit sandpaper
Ruler, yard stick, or measuring tape
Pencil
Scissors
Elmer’s Glue-All, general purpose adhesive
Small craft paint brush
White mason line (string)
A heavy book
Digital images you wish to make into ornaments (and a printer)
Card stock for your printer (not available at Lowe’s)

Directions:

1. Using a ruler and a pencil, draw a line on each of your boards every two inches.

2. Wearing safety glasses, use a jigsaw, table saw or handsaw to cut the board on each line so that you end up with 24 two inch blocks of wood. (I used the Rockwell BladeRunner sent to me by Rockwell. It cut through the wood like butter and was really comfortable to use right on the dinner table where I do most of my crafting. I think I see more projects involving wood cutting in my future!)

rockwell_bladerunner

3. Lightly sand the rough edges on each piece if necessary. Set aside. (Optional: You can paint the blocks of wood any color you like and allow to dry. I chose to leave mine natural.)

4. Print whichever images you wish to use on your ornaments on card stock. (Card stock is sturdier than regular copy/printer paper and will hold up to glue better.) Make sure that your images are small enough to fit on the face of the wood block. I kept mine around 1 ½ x 2 inches. I found Microsoft Word useful for this. I scanned the images into my computer and then opened them in Microsoft Word which has a built-in ruler across the top of the document.

5. Cut out the images with scissors.

6. Using a small paintbrush, brush glue on the back of each image, (working on one image/ornament at a time.) Position the image in the center of the block of wood and push down to adhere. Place a heavy book or other flat heavy object on top of the ornament for a minute to help the image to dry flat and adhere well. (Optional: If using specialty decoupage craft glue which advertises that it can be used for “sealing” as well as adhering, feel free to paint over top of the image to give it a finished glossy look and allow the ornament to air dry without any heavy object placed on top. Painting over top the image is not advised if using Elmer’s Glue-All.)

7. Once dry, twist a screw eye into the top side of each ornament. If your fingers become tired, needle-nose pliers will help you screw them into the wood. Tip: Sometimes a careful little tap with a hammer will help get the screw eyes securely into the wood before you attempt to turn/screw them in.

8. Cut the string, (I used white mason line because I like the simplicity of it, but you can use any color or type of string you like), into pieces about 4 inches long. (You will need 24 of them.)

9. Put each piece of string through the screw eye on each ornament and tie in a knot.

10. Your ornaments are ready to hang on your tree! Feliz Navidad!

How to make your own Lotería Ornaments

Make your own Mexican Bingo / Lotería ornaments

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How to Make a Día de los Muertos Nicho

Do-it-Yourself Frida Kahlo Nicho

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

October is my favorite time of year, not just because it’s autumn, (which is my favorite season), but because this is the time of year when all kinds of creative Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) crafts and products start to pop up all over the place in preparation for the November holiday.

For Día de los Muertos, many people in Latin America create an ofrenda, or altar, to honor their deceased loved ones, so I knew I wanted to create something along those lines.

While walking around Lowe’s to brainstorm ideas, I walked past the wood moulding and noticed how the crown corners looked like little houses when turned the wrong way and this reminded me of the nichos I used to make. Nichos are a beautiful Latin American folk art which incorporate mixed media in the style of a shadow box and often serve as a religious altar. Because I already keep photos of our deceased loved ones on a permanent altar of sorts, I decided to make a nicho to honor the iconic Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo.

How to make a Frida Kahlo nicho

mini-papel picado,  Frida Kahlo nicho

Frida Kahlo nicho for Día de los Muertos

If you want to make a Día de los Muertos nicho, follow the directions below to get started now!

Día de los Muertos Nicho

You need:

1 large crown corner (wood moulding)
wood glue
3/8 x 4 x 24 inch pine craft board
3/4 in. x 1 in. brass hinges
2 cabinet knobs
craft paints and brushes
hand saw
small hammer
1/16 drill bit
3/16 drill bit
drill
miniature screwdrivers
measuring tape
pencil
safety glasses
sandpaper
decorations of your choosing
small photo of deceased person you’re honoring
battery operated candles

Directions:

1. Remove stickers from the wood. Lightly sand to remove stickiness if needed.

2. Carefully knock out triangular corner supports inside the corner crown.

Frida Kahlo nicho how-to

3. Sand the corner crown to remove glue and rough edges.

4. Cut the craft board so you have two 7 1/2 inch pieces. The third piece set aside for another project.

nicho_howto2

5. One 7 1/2 inch piece will be the bottom of the nicho. The other 7 1/2 inch piece should be cut into two equal pieces measuring 3 3/4 inch – These will be the doors of the nicho. Sand these pieces.

6. Measure and pre-drill holes on doors and sides of nicho for the tiny screws that came with the hinges. (I pre-drilled these with a 1/16 bit and used my Rockwell 3RILL, which is my new favorite tool. Full disclosure: Rockwell gave the drill to me to use on my Lowe’s projects.)

Also drill holes to attach the cabinet knobs – I used a 3/16 drill bit for those.

rockwell_3rill

7. Paint pieces desired colors. Allow to dry. (Sand lightly for a slightly weathered look.)

8. Screw the knobs on the doors through the 3/16 holes you drilled. (Depending on the knobs you bought, you may prefer to find shorter bolts than the ones that came with the knob due to the width of the wood.)

nicho_howto3

9. Use a mini-screwdriver to attach the hinges to doors and then doors to nicho where you have pre-drilled holes.

10. Use wood glue to attach the bottom piece to the bottom of the nicho. Allow to dry.

11. Place photo, battery operated candles (real candles absolutely not advised!) and other decorations inside. Display on a shelf or attach a picture hanger to the back for wall display.

Do-it-Yourself Frida Kahlo Nicho

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Build a Window Shelf & Upcycle Your Bustelo Cans

windowshelfSeptLowesfinalwithlogo

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

This month’s challenge was “window treatments.” It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do because I’m not the type to get excited about curtains and such, plus, I like to let as much sunlight into the house as possible. If we didn’t have neighbors, I probably wouldn’t have blinds at all. So I looked at all my windows and brainstormed. I decided my kitchen window needed a mini-makeover. I have a tendency to keep all kinds of plants and jars in the kitchen window and it was getting crowded, so as you can see in the photo above, I decided to build a shelf into the window.

Building a shelf into a window is probably easier than you think. Here’s how we did it.

Build a Window Shelf

What you need:

measuring tape
a length of board cut to the dimensions of your window
decorative wood trim cut to the length of the board
4 L-brackets
pencil
level
screws
screwdriver
small nails
hammer

optional: Paint or wood stain, paint brush

Directions:

1. Carefully measure the inside frame of your window. You want to get a piece of wood cut to those dimensions. Get a piece of wood trim cut to the same length.

2. If painting or staining the wood, do this before continuing to step 3. We decided to paint our shelf white because eventually we want to paint the window frame and kitchen cabinets white. (So for now, it doesn’t match. Ideally you want to match the wood to the existing window frame color.) When the paint or stain is dry, you can use a hammer and nails to attach the decorative trim to the front side of the shelf. (This will help hide the L-brackets when the shelf is in place.)

3. Decide where within the frame you want the shelf, (i.e. right in the middle or up higher.) Use a pencil to mark where you want to install the L-brackets which will support the shelf. Use a level and the measuring tape to double check that you have marked in the right spot on both sides of the window frame.

4. Install the L-brackets using the screws and screwdriver.

5. Place the wood on top of the L-brackets. Check again with the level in case you need to make adjustments. If it’s level, congratulations, you’ve just built a perfect new window shelf.

Lbrackets_5

Need something to put on your new shelf? Buy a new plant and some potting dirt then put it into an empty coffee can. (I know some of you have plenty of empty Bustelo cans, so make good use of them!)

busteloplant_5

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Cold Horchata and a Low Electric Bill

fridge1_latinaish_x

It’s August which means it’s time to share my home improvement project of the month. This month Lowe’s challenged us to make our casita more energy efficient and to also get ready for autumn.

When I researched ways to make our home more energy efficient, I came up with a lot of options, but so much of the information pointed to one thing – “el refri” – (that’s Spanish for “the fridge.”) Check out some of these facts:

“Refrigerators and freezers consume about a sixth of all electricity in a typical American home – using more electricity than any other single household appliance.” – Source: ConsumerEnergyCenter.org

“ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators are required to use about 15% less energy than non-certified models…By properly recycling your old refrigerator and replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator, you can save from $200–$1,100 on energy costs over its lifetime.” – Source: EnergyStar.gov

“Refrigerators are the top-consuming kitchen appliance in U.S. households…” – Source: Science.HowStuffWorks.com

It didn’t take long for me to get the message – especially knowing that our refrigerator was over 10 years old and not functioning well – (Although according to Carlos, our old fridge wasn’t completely broken compared to his childhood refrigerator in El Salvador. He says the door of his refrigerator wouldn’t stay closed so they installed a latch on the outside of it.)

Anyway, we went to Lowe’s and after browsing for a few minutes, we found an Energy Star refrigerator in our price range that fit the dimensions of our kitchen. It’s not one of those fancy side-by-side refrigerators and it isn’t made of shiny stainless steel, but we’re happy with it.

The next day Lowe’s delivered the new fridge and took away the old one for free.

WholeFridge_Lowes_August_Latinaish

As you can see from the two photos so far, I have the new fridge organized inside and out – which brings me to the “getting ready for autumn” portion of the challenge. For most families, August means it’s time to get ready for “back-to-school” and the refrigerator is one of those parts of the household that is impacted. There will be school lunches to pack and store on the inside, while the outside serves as a message center for events, permission slips, menu plans, grocery lists, calenders, art work, and graded assignments we want to display to show our orgullo when our niños do well.

Sticking all these things on the fridge haphazardly with magnets from the local pizza place doesn’t set a very good example for the kids when you hand them new school supplies and tell them to keep organized, plus it just looks messy, so I came up with a few do-it-yourself crafts to de-clutter and keep organized. See the directions below to make your own!

Do-it-Yourself Magnetic Frames & Corkboards

What you need:

• Picture frames
• Magnets (I found these in the hardware aisle at Lowe’s, you can use circular discs or rectangular blocks, depending on the size of your frame.)
• Hot glue gun & glue sticks
• Scissors
• Pen
• Style Selections 2′ x 4′ Cork Roll (at Lowe’s)
• Optional: Paint or spray paint

Directions:

1. Gather your supplies. For the frames, lightweight frames work best since you’ll want the magnets to hold it securely on your fridge. Check your dollar store and second hand stores for great deals on frames and get them in a variety of sizes. Smaller ones can be used for photos, but you’ll want larger document-sized ones for the corkboard and for displaying papers your child brings home from school.

Note: I left my frames silver because I thought they looked nice like that, but if you want to paint or spray paint the frames, you should do that before anything else. Just remove the backing and the glass, place on newspaper, and then paint or spray paint. (Lowe’s has a Valspar brand spray paint specifically for plastic if you’re using plastic frames.) Allow to dry before continuing.

2. Cut the cardboard stand off the back of the frame – you won’t need it. This doesn’t have to look pretty.

3. For a corkboard frame, remove the glass and use it to trace the shape/size onto the corkboard with a pen. Cut the corkboard out with scissors. Set aside.

4. With the glass removed, trace the inside of your frame onto the cardboard backing with a pen. These marks are what will guide you for positioning the corkboard in the center of the frame if needed. Remove the cardboard backing from the frame and use hot glue to attach the cork material to the cardboard. When finished, put the backing, now covered with the cork material, back into the frame.

5. To make both magnetic corkboards and regular magnetic frames, flip the frame to the backside, and attach a magnet in each corner with hot glue. If your frame is heavier, you may need to attach more magnets for it to stick securely to the fridge.

Note: I recommend not using the glass at all when frames are displayed on the fridge. The glass makes the frames heavier and considerably more dangerous if one happens to fall when opening or closing the door.

Lowes_fridgeorganized_outside_latinaish_x

Three Bonus Organizing and Energy-Saving Tips:

• Buy an expanding folder that closes securely. Hang this on your fridge using two strong magnetic clips. It’s great for keeping smaller clutter like business cards for local repair companies, coupons, frequently used recipes and restaurant menus, accessible but hidden.

• Label things and keep them organized inside your refrigerator to cut down on the amount of time you search for things. Keeping the refrigerator door open leads to higher energy bills.

• Keep a magnetic grocery list on the fridge and update it as needed throughout the week. This will save you from holding the fridge door open for an extended period on grocery shopping day to take inventory.

What is your best tip for keeping your electric bill down and staying organized? Díganos en comments!

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Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s to purchase products to complete projects. All opinions are my own.