Category Archives: use what you have projects

Cute spice jars to make for young Moms on a tight budget

Here’s an easy project for young Moms on tight budgets. Create a set of spice jars using baby food jars and a little bit of fabric. The spices remain fresh in the jars and the jars have an opening large enough to slide in a measuring spoon. They’re more cute than chic but they’re functional and stackable and oh, so easy and inexpensive.

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baby food jars with lids
cotton fabric
cotton batting for quilting, (comes in a flat layer)
narrow silk ribbon
dimensional fabric paint (or adhesive labels)

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scissors or pinking shears
hot glue gun



1) trace around a jar lid on to paper and cut out
2) using scissors and the paper circle as a guide, cut out circles from a layer of cotton batting, batting circles should be the same size as the lid/paper circle
3) using pinking shears (or scissors) and the paper circle as a guide, cut out circles from the fabric, the fabric circles should be larger than the lid/paper circle by about 1 inch around each edge. The fabric circle should cover the top and sides of the lid and extend about 1 inch past the sides of the lid.
4) use a dab of hot glue to secure the cotton batting to the top of the lid
5) center the top of the lid over the wrong side of a fabric circle. Hot glue the fabric to a small area on the side of the lid. Stretch the fabric tightly across the lid from the original glued area and glue fabric in place. Then begin gluing the fabric to the sides of the lid working around the circle and keeping the fabric taut as you glue. There should be no fabric wrinkles across the top of the lid.
6) hot glue a band of narrow silk ribbon along the sides of the lid over the fabric. Keep the ribbon taut as you glue. If you want a bow use a length of ribbon long enough to tie the ends into a small bow.
7) using dimensional fabric paint, carefully print the name of the spice onto the glass jar. Allow paint to dry. (Do not wash in the dishwasher, or scrub directly over the fabric paint, gently sponge or wipe.)


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The same concept can be used on larger jars to use as sugar bowls and/or dry food storage containers.


the $12.50 Solution: a use what you have project

The problem: positioning a queen-sized bed in a small 10 x 12 bedroom that has two doors, two windows, one closet, and very little un-interrupted wall space.

The solution: positioning the bed directly before the unused second door; the floor space in front of it was dead space…unusable. The new arrangement worked well spatially, allowing pathways on both sides of the bed, did not block the windows, and left enough space for a small dresser, bookcase, and chair. It worked well functionally but frankly it didn’t look so great.

The second half of the solution: mounting a simple curtain rod at the top of the door frame and hanging two curtain sheers at the head of the bed, draping them along the sides of the bed in a quasi-canopy-mosquito net arrangement.

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This was a “use what you have” project. The only expense was the curtain rod for $2.50 and 2 sheer panels for $5.00 each, a total of $12.50.  I already had the bed skirt, throw pillow, blanket, and bed pillows. The quilt and sham previously on the bed I stored in the closet, aiming for a simpler, more serene white-on-white color scheme. White sheers were already at the windows.

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Most “normal” houses do not have a connecting door between two bedrooms but this idea can still be used to create an easy, inexpensive pseudo-headboard. It can also be used to enhance a headboard depending on the headboards size and shape. The wall at the head of the bed between the sheers can be hung either with wall art or a second rod and sheers enveloping the bed on three sides. The fabric does not have to be sheers, and the color does not have to be white. Other possibilities are light-weight cotton fabrics or sheets hemmed at the edges, white, colored, or ombre sheers or curtains, or even fabric shower curtains.



The room before I decided to paint the walls white. The cream colored walls gave a subtle contrast to and helped soften all the white.


use what you have: Kim’s mirror

I’m adding a new category today, “use what you have” projects; decorating/decor projects that cost little or nothing to complete.

The problem: an over-sized, very plain mirror in my friend Kim’s, rental living room.

The house was originally built as a railroad depot in the lateS5002276 - Copy - Copy
nineteenth century; it was successfully converted into a private home but with a rather odd floor plan. The living room was  the depot’s waiting room and is a huge space with hardwood floors and a blonde-brick fireplace. Above the fireplace is a wall recess that holds a very large plain mirror. The mirror was too 
plain. It needed something…color…definition…  Because it was a rental the options were limited: removing the mirror was not viable, framing it was too expensive, painting was not possible, and attaching anything to the walls around or near the mirror was not practical due to the composition of the wall.

The solution:

We “framed” the mirror using wood-toned duct tape that Kim already had. Unless you looked really closely (within inches) you couldn’t tell it was tape; it looked like a wood frame.


Kim prefers wood tones and neutrals but duct tape comes in a huge variety of colors and even patterns, and only costs a few dollars for a roll. Or consider using washi tape. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to add color and definition to a too plain mirror when other options are not viable.  


Once the mirror was “framed”, the second step was to arrange furniture and replace the accessories. The accessories were  too small for the space.  Because the fireplace is in a corner between a door and an open archway, furniture placement is difficult, but we placed two chairs (from another room) on either side of the fireplace with a small table and plant. Then we propped framed art prints (from another room) on the mantle. The final suggestion: a rug  before the fireplace and between the chairs.

from here….

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                                           …to here, using what we had. Total cost: 0