One of the first things that Jim and I wanted to do when we got the keys to our Retro Ranch was get rid of the shower door in our hall bathroom.

Well here it is, nearly a year and a half later, and that mildewy, moldy, slightly broken shower door was still waiting for me to just try to remove it.

Then this weekend I had one of those urges to demo something...do you guys get those? I walked past the hall bath and the shower door gave me a funny look…that’s it! You, Mr. nasty shower door, are coming out today!

While I was gathering my tools and trying to figure out the best way to start the attack, I looked around the rest of the bathroom…

…then I remembered I had bought a new mirror from IKEA about a year ago. I could put that in too this weekend. As I continued to inspect the space, I had another thought, why not brighten up the minuscule amount of paintable wall space with some color?

I wasn’t sure what color to use for the bathroom, so I thought about it while I started the shower door demo. I would have liked nothing more than to smash that door all over the place with a sledge, but I also didn’t want to clean up all that glass, so I opted for the less violent demo.

First I removed the doors from their track (which wasn’t hard because the bottom catches had broken off years ago).

Then I used box cutter blade to carefully cut along the caulk so I could pry the metal tracks off the walls and tub. (I researched this step and it is very important to make sure you are super careful when cutting around the tub so you don’t scratch the finish). After that I unscrewed the screws that were holding the rails onto the shower walls. Then came the fun part. Trying to carefully pry the rails off the walls and tub.

The wall rails came off pretty easily.

I was left with some nice caulk lines and the bright red mollies where the screws had been…

The bottom rail on the tub didn’t come out quite as easily. I carefully cut, scraped and wiggled the piece for probably about 30 minutes before I finally got it off…

Let me tell you…

it wasn’t pretty under there. Yuck, yuck and triple yuck. Next was the most tedious part of the job. Scraping all the caulk carefully off the tub and walls. It was a gross and boring job. (cue sad music)

About an hour later, I had this. A mostly clean tub and wall. (But there is a new problem…can you see it?)

When I was scraping the caulk off one of the tiles, it cracked, broke in half, fell off the wall and took another tile along for the ride. (cue more sad music)

At this point, the tub was looking really good. The wall, not so much.

Luckily, I had some mastic and grout just hanging out in the basement waiting for this to happen. (cue happy music!)

I used the mastic to glue the tiles back to the wall. (Eventually I would like to re-tile the bathroom, but that’s not in the budget for this year, so I need to make what I have work until then.)

Next on the list was dealing with the mollies.

I used needle nosed pliers to pull out the ones that were loose and my knife to cut back the ones that wouldn’t come out of the wall. (I ended up filling these holes with grout. I’m sure you could also use bathroom caulk)

Then it was time to put up my new shower curtain rod! I bought a curved rod to maximize the space inside the shower when the curtain is closed. It was pretty straight forward to install. I used a glass & tile drill bit and the templates that were included in the package and it went up in no time. Much better!

Next on the list, remove the old mirror. This part was pretty easy. The hardest part was that it was heavy! Good thing my adorable husband Jim was there, ready to carry it to the garage for me. Hey look, the wall behind the mirror is green!

This is when I had my epiphanyThe bathroom was originally green! I recently painted my office a similar shade of green! I have leftover paint! Logically, I decided to paint the bathroom green.

My green is a bit brighter, but actually closer to the shade of the bathtub than the original green from behind the mirror.

Another thing I noticed when I removed the old mirror was that at some point, someone tried to spackle the wall around the top of the mirror. They didn’t do a great job. Since the new mirror I got is smaller than the mirror I took out, some patching was in order. Luckily, I had a bucket of joint compound in the basement. Unluckily, when I opened that joint compound, it was moldy. Eww.

I did what any reasonable person would do at 7:30 at night after already making one trip to the home improvement store for the day. I called my neighbors and asked if they had about a cup of drywall I could have (no sugar or anything,  just joint compound). Sadly, their joint compound was also moldy! What were the odds? Anyway, back to the home improvement store for me (and Jim).

Note: Our trip to the store took longer than I had expected because on our way to the joint compound isle, I saw a piece of plywood I just had to have. (It was on sale!) We spent about 30 minutes trying to tie it to the top of my car in the dark in the parking lot because it was 2 inches too large to fit inside and then I couldn’t go faster than 30 mph all the way home because it was thumping around a lot and Jim had to hold it down to the roof of the car. Did I mention I have the best husband ever?

Anyway, back to the joint compound

I spackled the wall, let it dry overnight and then sanded it and wiped down the wall to remove any dust. Then I got to hanging the mirror.

It was pretty easy to do because my thoughtful and adorable husband Jim bought me that awesome level for our first anniversary…(it was just what I wanted!!)

…looks good to me. (I do have the best husband ever!)

Since it was a balmy 56 degrees outside (in November!), I thought I might try to fix the rusty light switch plate cover with a quick shot of spray paint…I just so happened to have some in the basement from another project!

While it didn’t turn out as chrome as the original, it is a lot better looking than the rust!

And now for the moment you’ve been waiting for!

The Minty Fresh Mini Bath Makeover reveal!

(The painting was done by my Mom in 1971. It was hanging in my Nana’s hall bathroom in Mississippi.)

(I picked up that Marushka sailboat fabric screen print at a yard sale for $3!)

Look! I grouted where the broken tiles were and they are as good as new!

Much better, don’t you think?

There are still a lot of things I would like to change/fix in this bathroom, but this Minty Mini Makeover was a good start. The room feels so much bigger without the shower door, and now I can see that fabulous mint green tub better.

All in a weekend’s work!




Hi all! Thanks for waiting patiently while I finished up this project. I mentioned in my last post that I had tackled two projects over the Labor Day weekend…and I did, but I  only totally finished one of them (which was the headboard refinishing).

The other project I started was building some really awesome mini ranch house shelves for my mini chair collection. The whole time I was sanding the Broyhill Brasilia headboard, all I could think about was building these cool little shelves, so as soon as I was done with the headboard I ran out to get some wood and started building.

The trouble was that I didn’t finish by the end of the long weekend. I wanted so desperately to show you all my final product, all done and hanging on the wall with mini-chars and everything but I had only built, stained and finished one of the three ranch house shelves that I wanted to make. I decided to work on building the other two shelves after work this week…which means my kitchen remained a wood shop from Tuesday until last night.

And then late last night I decided on the arrangement and placement of the shelves and took the time to hang them, but the polyurethane wasn’t totally dry! I didn’t dare put the mini chairs on the shelves until everything was dry, so I played the waiting game.

This afternoon, after a week full of designing, building, staining and top coating, the shelves were ready for the chairs…

Ohhh look, I can see them!

Let me tell you, the sight of my mini chair collection on these shelves that I dreamed up and then built myself is pure joy!

I am so excited about them!

Now my mini chairs have a home! (Well, three to be exact)

The grouping of three shelves fits perfectly in the space over the TV.

But I would need to make about 30 more of these to fill the entire orange wall…

Maybe this winter I will have time to make a painting or something to fill the rest of the space. What do you think Leo?

Okay, okay we can go for a walk now Leo!

While I take him out for a spin, I will leave you with one last look at the lovely little ranch house shelves

…I’m so excited about them!

What do you think?



With the weather being so hot an humid the last few weeks, I decided to tackle a few inside projects (in the air conditioning) that I had been putting off. One of them was
this mess:

Since we moved in, I have been putting whatever I don’t know what to do with in the laundry room cabinets. What I really wanted those cabinets to contain was all the laundry/ironing supplies, spare light bulbs and batteries and my sewing stuff.

I am not the seamstress my Nana was, however, she gave me all her sewing supplies. Nana’s sewing stuff consists of a yellow desk-like cabinet (which my grandfather built for her) with a 1942 pop out singer sewing machine. The drawers were full to the brim with all kinds of sewing notions. It has been sitting in my garage for a year now, just waiting for me to find it (or at least it’s contents) a home.

All the thread I inherited was in tangles, which can be easily frustrating when all you want to do is find the right color thread to sew the button back on your adorable husband Jim’s polo shirt.

I started sorting through and untangling it as well as all the drawers full of notions while at the same time trying to devise a system to better store my rainbow of thread.

Luckily I bought three of these black bins at Target a few months ago especially for this project. I filled one of them with my fabric, one with light bulbs and batteries and the third one housed all the other sewing stuff, except the thread.

I finally found a use for that cigar box my Dad gave me several years ago! Perfect for all the stray buttons!

While I was sorting the thread into color groups and it hit me…

I had two of these 1 x 10 boards in the basement, which I got for free.

At my last place someone was using them as a ramp to load their band gear into a van in front of my house. When they had their gear loaded up, they left the boards in my front yard. After the boards had been there for a few days, I guessed that the van guy was not coming back and I’ve had them ever since. Finders keepers right?

To make my thread storage system, I drew out a grid pattern on the board as a guide.

Then I used my handy mini miter box and saw (left over from my art school days) to cut some shish-kebab skewers to the desired length.

After that I drilled a hole just big enough to fit a skewer in the center of each of my grid lines on my 1 x 10 board.

I popped the skewers into place and then spray painted the whole thing white to make it look more finished. The result was the perfect, quick and cheap (free since I already owned all the materials) thread storage system.

It is a little difficult to get the thread off the inside skewers, so if I were to do this project again, I would probably go for a rectangular shape that was longer and only had two rows of skewers. However, for me, someone who barely ever sews, this method of storage is fine. At least it makes for a pretty color coordinated display that doesn’t make me scream when I look at it (like that pile of tangled thread I started with).

Now the cabinets are much more organized.

I know where everything is and I can easily get to my sewing supplies when my adorable husband Jim pops a button off his shirt. The sewing cabinet and machine are still in the garage, but I am not sure if I should keep them. In the event that I ever do sew anything, I usually hand stitch. Nana’s machine is really cool (and really heavy) but it is hard to justify keeping something that I might not ever use. Oh the dilemma!

So what did I do with the rest of my boards?

I made a custom size shoe rack of course! It took me 5 minutes to cut the leftover board pieces and nail them together. I spray painted the shoe rack to make it look a little more finished and let it dry, then put it to work right away:

Did I mention I have a shoe addiction? I might need to make a second story in the future, but for now, I just gained valuable closet floor shoe storage as well a more organized closet and laundry room!


Last summer when Jim and I moved into the Retro Ranch and we set out on the quest for a queen sized mattress (our last house was only big enough for a full sized bed!) we stumbled across a Barcelona Style chair in the scratch and dent section of the furniture store we were in.

Now if you know anything about Barcelona Chairs you know that not only are they really cool, but they are also really expensive! So expensive in fact, that I would never be able to afford one unless I somehow won the lottery. (odds of that are slim to none) So when I saw the knock off Barcelona style chair-with hassock-in the scratch and dent area I was instantly excited. On first glance it looked like nothing was really wrong with it…until we noticed that several of the straps on the hassock were broken. The chair had originally retailed for $800 at this furniture store and since it was already marked down to $350 because of the damage, we thought it was a really good deal. However, we also had just dropped a chunk of change on a new mattress and I am one heck of a bargainer, so we figured it was worth a shot to try and get some more $$$ knocked off the sale price. Sure enough, we found the same guy who had just sold us the mattress and inquired about the chair. He was able to knock another $100 off so our grand total for the chair and the hassock was $250. Now that’s a deal!

It wasn’t until I got home that I thought, “How the heck am I going to fix this?”

I did some searching on the internet and found little to nothing about replacing the leather straps on a Barcelona chair. I was racking my brain to try and figure out what to do, or where to take the chair to have someone else fix it (and what that might cost) when a light bulb went off in my head. Sometimes the answer to the question “how to fix the leather straps on a Barcelona chair” is found by googling “how to repair a leather strap on a horse saddle.”

I did a bunch of research on saddle repair and even found a place to order the leather straps and punch tool for the repair job. I also ordered Chicago Screws to join the leather straps and secure them on the chair frame. Here are the tools and materials I used for the job:

  • 1/4″ Silver Chicago Screws (package of 25)
  • Silver Sharpie marker (for marking the black leather)
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Measuring tape
  • Cutting mat
  • Ruler or straight edge
  • Box cutter
  • Leather punch
  • Leather straps (I just measured the existing width and length of the straps on the chair and added a little to the length to ensure I had enough to wrap around and fasten on itself (they were 1.5 inches wide) Then I used a piece of string to estimate how long of a piece I would need for each strap (plus a little more for wiggle room) I ended up ordering 3 of the Black Latigo Straps. 72 in x 1\8 in Thick.-(bls06) 1 ½ in ($17.99 ea). I ordered more than I actually ended up using so if any more of the old straps break, I can repair them right away.)

Here is what the hassock looked like before…Jim and I had taped it so it looked less broken sitting in our living room, but the functionality was not good…

Of course Leo was all over the project helping….

First I used the box cutter to remove the broken straps from the frame…

I removed as much of the old leather that I could from where it was riveted to the frame. (Notice one strap is repaired already? Well I was so excited to see if my method would work that I forgot to take pictures of the steps until I had one done already…oops!)

Step 2 Take a piece of the leather and wrap it around the chair frame…

Use the silver Sharpie marker to mark where you want to punch your holes…

Also mark a line on the side where the edge of the leather is when you fold the leather strap over the chair frame…

Step 3  Use the leather punch to punch the holes on the top of the strap where you marked them…

…This took a little time to make sure the hole went all the way through enough to get the screws in. (I had to punch it from the top and then line up the punch and punch it from the bottom before the hole would punch all the way through)

Step 4 fold the strap over and line the edge up with the line you drew to show where the edge of the strap overlaps, then use the silver Sharpie to mark through the holes that you just punched so that you know where to punch the second set of holes.

Step 5 Use the punch to make the second set of holes.

Step 6 Put the top part (not the side with the screw face) of the Chicago screws in the first set of holes…

…then put the bottom half of the Chicago screws in the other set of holes, put the leather strap around the chair frame and use a screwdriver to tighten the screws down.

Step 7 take the leather strap and pull it tightly around the other side of the chair frame (you want it to be tight so that the cushion doesn’t sag, especially as the leather stretches) and mark where to cut the strap as well as where to punch the first holes.

Step 8 use the box cutter, ruler and cutting mat to trim the leather strap. (You could always measure and cut, but for me this was easier. Also make sure the blade on your box cutter is very sharp!) Then repeat the steps above to mark and punch the holes and attach the leather strap to the chair frame with Chicago screws.

Ta-da! You have just repaired a strap!

Repeat again…

…and again until you have replaced all the broken straps on your chair or hassock…

All fixed!

I also had one strap that broke on the chair itself, so I used the same steps to repair the one broken chair strap.

The whole project (tools and materials – I have leftover materials in case another one of the “fake leather” straps break) cost me about $85. Total cost for a Barcelona style chair: $335. Not bad if I do say so myself!

Update: I have just been informed of another source for replacement chair straps (in both black and white) Read my new post!

NEW UPDATE: According to some of my readers, the source for leather straps I have listed is no longer a good place to purchase them.

Hatcher writes:
November 25, 2013 11:33 am

Nice blog post. I repaired my chair as well using this approach – although I wanted to warn you that despite your positive experience with eleathersupply, they are now a fraudulent company. I suggest you refrain from referring folks there – I attempted to purchase my straps there and am now in a fight to get a refund. They took my money, but won’t send me any straps (because they don’t have them! and after 2 months of waiting, still don’t!), nor refund my money.

I have filed fraud reports against them with the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Reports and the state of Texas.

Buyer beware — I didn’t have any problems with this company back when I first purchased my straps, but since then it seems that they may not be a good source due to the delivery issues listed above. Do your own research to find supplies from a reputable seller!


It was 40 degrees when I woke up this morning. By noon it was nearly 80. This is not a typical spring day in Wisconsin! Since it was so nice out, I thought I would start prepping the garden space for our new raised bed victory garden.

Last July, the garden looked like this:

See that “pile” of weeds, that’s the garden. I have my work cut out for me.

All winter I have been reading about raised bed gardening. For our victory garden, I decided to combine two similar methods of raised bed gardening. We will be constructing a raised bed garden out of cinder blocks and then will be using the square foot gardening method. The two books I consulted are Cinder Block Gardens by Lynn Gillespie and All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.

Before I can start constructing my garden however, I have to shape up the space:

Of course Leo was all ready and willing to help with stick removal.

I found lots of interesting things buried in the garden:

  • 22 small square red pavers
  • 8 green rectangle pavers
  • 6 large square pavers
  • many pieces of landscape timber
  • 3 tomato cages
  • 2 pieces of steel plate (price tags still on)
  • a small piece of plastic cheese (seems like it might have been a magnet)
  • a cup
  • half a coconut
  • black plastic edging (this stuff is everywhere around the yard)
  • a stack of decomposing newspapers
  • plastic chunks that looked like wood that were full of water (not sure what they were supposed to be for)

After curating my collection of stuff, I got busy snipping down the giant crop of invasive buckthorn trees. I started by getting them out of the chain link fence as best I could, but some of them will just have to be removed when I take out the garden fence to replace it with the new one because they are practically woven into it!

…and yes, buckthorn does have thorns. Which means I now have holes in yet another pair of work gloves!

At the end of the work day, I had several neat stacks of pavers, another can full of brush and then some, a sunburn (ouch!) and a much better looking garden space (though it is hard to tell from the photos)…

…and of course a thirsty dog.

It is supposed to be much colder tomorrow but for at least one day, we had a glimpse of summer. Hopefully the next time it gets that hot I will have the garden put together (and remember to wear sunscreen!)