DIY Home Decor Handmade Gifts

DIY Empty Toilet Paper Roll Bee Wreath

I love bees.  They pollinate our gardens, make delicious honey, and they have some serious grrrrl power action (most bees are female—the male bees (called drones) mate and then kick the bucket). I wanted to add some bee decor to my home without it looking like a second grade classroom.  So, much of the bee decor I’ve seen is a bit too cutesy for me.  Looking around my house for possible materials, I found my bag of empty toilet paper rolls.  You may be wondering why I have a bunch of empty toilet paper rolls . . .  Well I teach science and honestly, empty toilet paper rolls are the best building material for hands-on projects.  They are free and can be used in soooo many ways.  Anyway using my toilet paper tubes, hot glue, spraypaint, and some cardstock, I made this awesome honey bee wreath. 

DIY honeycomb bee wreath
The wreath also looks great as a window hanger! And . . . No. . . that is not real honey.

Supplies for DIY Wreath: 

Making the Toilet paper roll honeycomb

I wanted the wreath to have hexagons like actual honeycomb. However, if you want to save yourself a lot of time, you could just keep them round. If you are doing that, just cut each tube into three or four equal “honeycomb” rings. 

To make honeycombs, start by scoring (a light cut that doesn’t go all the way through) a straight line down the tube using a ruler and an X-Acto knife. Then repeat on the opposite side.

Your tube should now lay flat.  Measure the distance between the two cuts and divide by three.  For most of my tubes that was ⅞ of an inch.  Measure that distance from both edges and make two more score lines on that side of the tube.  Then turn the tube over and do the same on the other side. Once all score cuts have been made, fold the tube at each cut to get the hexagon shape.

Next, cut your tube into three or four even rings.  I used the width of my ruler as I wanted all of my honeycombs to have the same thickness. Each tube made three honeycomb rings. 

Cut the honeycomb rings from score tube
Cut 3-4 rings from each tube. I used the width of my ruler as a guide.

Making the wreath: 

Lay out the tubes into a design that is pleasing to you.  I went for a hexagon shape with some open spaces.  I do think a solid shape would be the sturdiest. Hot glue the hexagons together.  Make sure to really push each piece tight to minimize gaps.

Fill in any gaps with hot glue.  Tip: dip your finger in a little water and then you can mold the hot glue before it hardens and not get burned or have it stick to you. 

Spray paint your wreath.  I did two coats of yellow all over and then I dusted it with a final coat of gold.

Spray Paint toilet paper tube wreath
This is two coats of yellow. I then added a final dusting of gold spray paint.

Making the Bees: 

While I waited for it to dry, I used an X-Acto knife to cut out the honeybees from black cardstock.  I taped the printed out bee to the top of the cardstock and then cut through both layers.  I did not cut out every little vein in the bee wings but varied up which parts I cut out for each one. After cutting out the bees, cut out the bee body from a contrasting color (one body per bee).  Glue the body behind the bee silhouette cutouts. Download a Free-BEE silhouette template at the bottom of this post!

Cut out bee silhouette and body
Glue the bee body behind the silhouette (I used a glue stick).

Finishing touches on your DIY Toilet Paper Roll Bee Wreath: 

After the wreath has fully dried (at least two hours) you can add some hot glue honey.  I recommend you practice this on some scrap tubes first.  While holding the wreath upright, add a small puddle of hot glue to the bottom front of one ring.  Wait 10-20 seconds and then tilt it slightly forward to form a drip.  If the drip looks like it is going to fall, dip your finger in water and then support the drip until it dries (the water will keep the drip from sticking to you).  

I wanted my honey drops to sparkle. So, I added some mica powder.  This is the same stuff that gives makeup its shimmer. You could also just use gold eyeshadow. Just add it using your finger to the dry glue.

Next, glue your bees to your wreath.  If you plan to put it on your door, add a few coats of a spray polycrylic protective finish.

I hot glued two coffee stirrers to the back of mine to give a little more support at the top.  To add the hanger, use a hole punch to make a hole on either side of the wreath and then thread some cord or yarn through it.  Tip: If you don’t have any pretty cord, you can take handles off old gift bags and they work perfectly.  I just twist tied mine together to make it long enough. 

DIY toilet paper roll Bee wreath
A fun DIY wreath to celebrate summer!

Looking for other DIY home decor projects? Check out our IKEA nightstand makeover.

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DIY Home Decor

DIY IKEA Hacks – painting laminate

So, there was a point in my life when 90% of our home furnishings came from IKEA.  It was the only furniture that we could afford that was also reasonably stylish.  Over the years we have slowly upgraded most of our IKEA furnishings and I have done some DIY hacks on others. But alas, I had a few laminate IKEA pieces that I hadn’t redone or thrown out because they were just too handy. I had planned to buy replacements, but then there was the quarantine. With plenty of time on my hands and lots of paint in my basement, I decided to attempt a laminate DIY IKEA hack. While I have done DIY IKEA hacks in the past, this is the first time I attempted to paint laminate.

My latest DIY IKEA hack was on this Aneboda nightstand. I’m pretty sure I bought it because the price was right for the functionality, but I’m pretty sure I never loved the look.  While it still remains functional, I still don’t love the look. The only reason I didn’t redo this piece before was because I was convinced that I couldn’t paint laminate, turns out, I was wrong (which happens more than I want to admit).  You CAN paint laminate! With some careful prep work, I transformed this nightstand into something that adds character and charm to my bathroom. 

Supplies Needed for your IKEA Hack: 

Optional Supplies:

How to do a DIY IKEA Hack on laminate furniture.

I took out the drawers and took the handles, legs, and faces off the drawers.  While this step is not critical, it definitely made sanding and painting easier and it was not as hard as I thought it might be.  I didn’t take everything apart as some websites advise you to do, I just took off the parts that would help make my job easier. Tip: If you do take it apart, take pictures of which screws go with which holes.  That will make it easier to put back together. 

Prepping the furniture

  1. In order to keep the paint on your laminate furniture, you’ve gotta rough it up.  Lightly sand all the surfaces you plan to paint with 220 grit sandpaper. Keep your sanding light. You don’t want to gouge the surface. 
  2. Completely wipe down and with a lint-free cloth dry the piece.  Make sure there is no dust left to muck up your paint job. 
Painter’s tape on drawers
I just put painter’s tape around the edges of the plastic insert.

Priming and Painting the furniture

  1. Time to prime! I used a small roller and did two coats of primer (allowing it to dry in between each coat).  I taped the edges of the drawers where I intended to put the contact paper, but I didn’t worry about taping anything else. 
  2. After the primer dried, I rolled on my topcoat.  I went with an interior white with an eggshell finish.  I used this because I already had it in the basement and while many will argue that each shade of white is unique and brings a slightly different feel, I didn’t want to go to the store and I’m trying to whittle down my paint collection.
IKEA aneboda nightstand after two coats of primer
This is two coats of primer on the nightstand. I didn’t worry too much about the inside as it will never show.

Adding the finishing touches

  1. As I allowed everything else to dry, I spray painted the handles and the feet a lovely vintage gold.  I used to hate gold, but I’ve been finding myself wanting to spray paint everything gold lately. It gives a nice pop of color and seems to always look classy.
  2. Before the protective topcoat went on, I went over some of the fine details of the drawer with a small paintbrush.  I had unfortunately let the paint get too dry before I took off the painters tape and ended up with a few places where I had ripped the paint off.  You should NOT wait for the paint to completely dry before you remove your tape.  I’ve learned this lesson before (many times), but always seem to forget.  If the paint is tacky it tends to rip up the adjoining paint and not leave a clean line.  Important tip: Remove the tape while your paint is still wet!
  3. Let everything dry for at least a day and then add the Min-wax clear protective coat.  I added just one layer, but add more if it is a heavily used piece.
  4. Allow it to dry again for at least 24 hours and then put all the pieces back together.  
IKEA aneboda nightstand after primer and topcoat.
This is the almost finished piece. Still need to add the contact paper.
  1. Optional Contact Paper: My nightstand had these translucent plastic windows that I hated as I could see disorganization behind them.  So, I added this delightful contact paper.  There are many birch tree patterned wallpapers out there, but this one was only $12 instead of $30 or $40. Tip: If you get impatient and add on the contact paper before the paint is fully cured, you may end up scuffing the paint.  If you do that, just use a small paint brush (like really small type used by artists for painting pictures) to touch it up. 

Looking for other DIY furniture ideas? check out our mid-century modern side table.

IKEA laminate furniture makeover

DIY Home Decor

Science Nerd Gallery Wall

I love a well done gallery wall and I love unabashed nerdery.  However, I do realize that my love of animals, insects, and other natural oddities can be a bit over the top for the general public.  So, I turned a corner of my craft room into my own personal science gallery wall.  The best part is that it was inexpensive home decor project, as I have been collecting my items over the years.  The key to creating my science gallery wall is that I always keep an eye out at second-hand stores for books and frames that have potential to be repurposed as thrifty home decor.

The best part is that this microscope still works!!

The microscope on the shelf came from the old codger (aka my Dad) when he was working on a house and the homeowners were throwing it out.  So, if you do like nerdy things, you can’t be too in the closet about it, as you won’t have others keeping an eye out for spectacular finds for you.  The insect collection I got when I worked at a museum and they were clearing out old collections and I got a whole box all about bugs! You could make your own insect collection, if you aren’t too squeamish about killing insects. Personally, unless it is a mosquito (or a termite) I try to avoid intentional insecticide. So, enough chatting, read on below to get tips on creating your own nerd gallery.

Top ten Nerd Gallery tips:

  1. Keep an eye out for old books! They have the best pictures, especially old scout handbooks.
  2. Scour your local second hand stores for nice frames.  Don’t worry about the color as you can spray paint them.
  3. Do you know anyone that works at a museum? A school? A library?  Let them know what you are looking for as you never know when closets will get cleaned out.
Moth and Insects in resin
I scored these when a museum I worked at was cleaning out the archives!
  1. Hit up your local flea markets. Keep an eye out for unusual things like wood carvings, feathers, old weather instruments (just be wary of thermometers with mercury in them!)
  2. Yard Sales and estate sales have so many possibilities! 
  3. Do you have older relatives that might need help cleaning out a basement or an attic? I remember when I was younger that everyone seemed to decorate with owls.  I thought it was odd, but now I’d love to get my hands on that owl lamp my old neighbor had. 
  4. Take a hike! No kidding.  I have found some really cool fossils and rocks in my wanderings (just double check the park’s regulations before you take anything).
  5. Make nerdy friends! I had a friend that had his Ph.D. in lightning physics and he gave me a fulgurite-which is sand that has fused because it was struck by lightning.  It is awesome.  I had another biologist friend that gave me a horseshoe crab exoskeleton.  Also, really cool! 
Horseshoe Crab and Fulgurite
In the front is the fulgurite in all its glory and in the back is the horseshoe crab exoskeleton.
  1. For free printable plant images check out the USDA’s special collections.
  2. If you are looking for animal diagrams or cool line drawings check out the Biodiversity Heritage Library.  You will need to be a little patient with your searching, but they have some really cool stuff!

So, that is it.  I hope that this might inspire you to embrace your inner nerd and proudly display your nerdery in all of its finery. 

Nerd Gallery Wall
This small corner brings me so much joy, as it proudly displays my nerdery for all to see.
DIY Home Decor

DIY Mid-Century Modern side table

I love the look of clean lines with mid-century modern furniture.  However, anything that says “mid-century modern” automatically goes up in price by at least $200.  When my husband and I were looking for bedside tables, we wanted something small that wasn’t too fussy.  It only needed to hold a lamp, our phones and maybe a book.  Whenever we found something we liked it would be several hundred dollars. Of course, multiply that by two because we wanted a matching set. All of the posts I found online for DIY mid-century modern side tables, required tools we didn’t have. I also discovered that hairpin legs weren’t that cheap. We needed a solution that was under $50 for each table and didn’t require extensive building skills.  I’d almost resigned myself to a mismatched pair, when the hubby stepped it up with a clever Target and Ikea hack.  We used an unfinished wood toy bin from target and bike hooks from IKEA. These DIY mid-century modern side tables are so simple that you can have zero building experience and make them look fantastic!

Supplies List

Steps for finishing wood box:

  1. First lightly sand with a fine grit sandpaper (220 works well).  Wipe off all dust with a damp cloth and allow to dry completely. 
  2. Follow the directions for the prestain (you can skip this but the stain will go on more even with this step).
  3. Apply stain following directions on can.
  4. Apply at least two layers of the polycrylic protective topcoat—If you like to have a glass of water next to you at night, I’d maybe go with three layers to really protect the wood. 

Steps for Bike hooks turned hairpin legs

  1. As you are waiting for the stain and top coat additions to dry you can work on the legs.
  2. Remove the plastic tubes on the hook toss them or squirrel them away for some future unknown use.
  3. Lightly wipe legs with either steel wool or the sandpaper.  You just want to lightly rough it up to make sure the spray paint stays.
  4. Wipe down with a damp cloth and allow to dry completely. 
  5. The trick to a good spray paint finish is patience (not always my strong point).  You need to do several coats and allow it to dry in between.  Apply the spray paint at least 8 inches from the legs and keep it moving to avoid drips.
  6. Do as many layers as needed to get satisfactory coverage.

Putting it all together

  1.  After everything is dry, place the legs on one of the short ends of the box screw them in with wood screws that aren’t too long.  My screws were somewhere between 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch.
  2. You can double check by holding the leg up to the edge of the box and lining the screw up.  It should be long enough to go into the wood at least halfway, but not come out the other side. 
  3. Congrats you now have your own DIY mid-century modern table that is functional, fabulous and frugal. 
DIY sidetable

Looking for other DIY furniture ideas? Check out our IKEA nightstand hack.

Mid-century modern side table