The Interior Frugalista: July 2013


July 25, 2013

Backyard Firepit {redo}

I don't know where the "Cation" went in our Staycation? We definitely stayed and we worked our tail feathers off! Here is another project we worked on during our 1-week staycation without the cation.
This is the Before shot of our firepit.  Not terrible - made with simple cinder blocks and a few rows of roman pavers.  It served us well for many years.
But we decided to move our firepit several feet towards the center of our yard and further away from our neighbour's garage. As soon as the decision was made I pulled out the shovel and started removing the sod. Which wasn't the smartest thing to do because I have a meniscus tear in my knee and I'm waiting for surgery. My ambition came back to bite me in the, ahem, knee!  That was several weeks ago so I was happy to finally get started on this project. So long mud - hello pretty roman pavers!


We lucked out and found small stacks of pavers, albeit three different colours, being cleared out for $1.00 each. Hubby and I looked at each other and said, "we'll make it work".  As it turned out we rather like the randomness of the four different colours.

Here we as in Hubby are adding Polymer sand to bind the pavers.

I've decided I need to build a replica of the tete-e-tete my Dad built many years ago. Next week's project... (shhhh, I haven't told Hubby these plans yet)

Looks so much nicer now! Psssssst, that path on the right is leading to something I've been working on for a couple of weeks. The Reveal will be posted by the end of the week.

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July 24, 2013

How To Turn Plant Pots Into A Water Fountain

For years I've been wanting a unique water fountain for our deck. I found many beautiful fountains but none that fit our budget. Every August, when they typically go on sale, I would frequent my local garden centers and home improvement retailers but the styles I liked would be picked over.

One afternoon while relaxing on the deck I glanced over at the heap of plant pots we didn't use this summer. Stacked one on top of the other were a trio of pots that we've had for many years. While looking at the stacked configuration a light bulb went off in my head. What I saw wasn't a stack of plant pots but rather a Plant Pot Water Fountain.

How To Turn Plant Pots Into A Water Fountain

I spent a few days scratching my head to come up with a plan.

How To Turn Trio of Plant Pots Into A Water Fountain

I cannot tell a lie, we had several frustrating botched attempts with this project. Rocks that were too small and kept plugging the pump. A spray nozzle that overflowed onto the deck. Painting a large plastic base to catch the overflow but the paint peeled despite several coats of protective finish.

We also had a chunk break off one of the pots while trying to make a hole in the bottom to accommodate the pump....ahem...with a hammer. Oh well, like they say, live and learn. At least by following this tutorial you won't make the same mistakes we did.

Materials To Turn Plant Pots Into A Water Fountain

Eventually, we figured it out and today I'm sharing the step-by-steps so you too can build one.

How To Turn Plant Pots Into A Water Fountain 

Water Fountain Materials List

*affiliate links are included so you can see the products used to make this fountain
  • 3 plant pots to create a tier in different sizes.  You want to ensure they have center holes on the bottom that will accommodate the pump tubing or else you will have to drill the holes.
  • 2 terracotta pot saucers close to the diameter of the bottom plant pots
  • PVC pipe large enough to stabilize a pot sitting on top
  • Pond Pump (see note below)
  • River rocks 

We used a 100 GPH Pond Pump. However, it's important that you purchase one that can lift the water vertically to just above the height of the top flower pot. I have been advised that it's a good rule of thumb to purchase one rated at least 6-inches higher than what you need. If it pumps the water too high, discharge the flow reducer valve to adjust the flow to where you want it.

Step 1 - Sealing the drainage hole on the bottom pot

In order for the water to recirculate, you will have to seal the drainage hole in the bottom pot. We used a small tile but a piece of plastic would work too. Secure it in place with silicone, running it all around the tile as well to ensure a tight seal. Let it cure for at least 24 hours.

Step 1 How To Turn Plant Pots Into A Water Fountain

Step 2 - Inserting the pump

  • Place the pump on a sturdy base in the center of the bottom pot.  Based on the type of pump you purchase and the size of the pots, you may be able to avoid this step.
  • Attach the plastic extenders to the pump in order to raise it so the spray head is above the rim of the top pot.  
Step 2 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

Step 3 - Making plant pot risers

  • Cut the PVC Pipe to a length that will allow the second pot to sit just below the rim of the bottom pot. Repeat this step for the second pot and the top pot.
  • Now that you have the desired heights for each pot, remove the PVC pipe and notch out a groove in the bottom to accommodate the pump's electrical cord (see picture below).
Step 3 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

Step 4 - Base for largest Plant Pot

Set the plastic pipe so it rests on the bottom of the largest pot. This becomes your base for the next step. You'll notice the sturdy base we used to raise the pump to the desired height fits inside the PVC pipe.

Make sure you cut the plastic tubing nice and straight so your pots sit level.

Step 4 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

Step 5 - Base for medium plant pot 

  • Drill a hole in the center of the medium terracotta pot using a ceramic drill bit. Make sure the hole you are drilling is big enough to accommodate the pump extenders.
  • Set the largest terracotta base through the pump extender and let it rest on the top of the PVC pipe (see photo below).

Unlike the photo below, it is better to place the terracotta saucer upside down to help conceal the lip.

Step 5 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

Step 6 - Inserting middle plant pot 

  • Repeat Step 5.
  • Insert PVC Pipe into the second pot.
Step 6 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

Step 7 - Base for top plant pot

  • Add the next size terracotta saucer. Remember to place it upside down (unlike shown in the picture below).
Step 7 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

Step 8 - Inserting the top plant pot

  • Add the smallest pot on top of the terracotta base.
  • Ensure your spray head is just above the rim of the top pot.  You may need to add another pump extender to achieve the correct height.
  • Insert the fountain spray head onto the last pump extender.
Step 8 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

Step 9 - Adding river rocks and water

  • Add river rock onto each saucer until the terracotta saucers are completely concealed. Make sure you use a combination of large and small rocks. You want the large rocks to fill in the void between the saucer and the pot. The small rocks will help to conceal the saucer.
  • Fill the bottom pot with water and plug it in. Don't be alarmed by the noise the pump makes as it's priming. 
Step 9 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

And there you have it, an inexpensive fountain for a deck, patio, or apartment balcony. If you enjoyed my Plant Pots To Water Fountain tutorial, please share it with a friend and/or save it on Pinterest.

How to build a water fountain from plant pots

The type of spray head you use will determine the way the water fountain is assembled. Read further for more information...

Spray Head Styles

Mushroom Spray Fountain

This is the spray head style we used on our water fountain, the water simply flows through the pots to the bottom pot. Ensure that the water does not spray over the edges of the pots or you will soon run dry. You will need to eventually add water to the bottom pot due to evaporation. This option easily dismantles for winter storage.

Waterfall Spray Fountain Style

If you are wanting the look of standing water in the pots cascading over the edges, you will need to silicone around the holes in the middle and top flower pots where your tubing is passed through. By doing this the water will be held in each pot and will flow over the sides. Again ensure the water does not spray over the edges. This style does not allow the fountain to be disassembled for winter storage. 

Blossom Spray Fountain Style

For this style, you will need a basin with a much larger circumference than the bottom flower pot so the spray can flow over the edges of the pots and land in the basin. In this design, your bottom pot will have a hole in it so the water recirculates from the basin rather than the bottom pot.
NOTE: The basin must be deep enough to hold a sufficient water supply to keep the pump submerged in the base pot.

Looking for more water feature inspiration? We also built a gorgeous DIY Outdoor Water Wall.

A big Thank You to the following for featuring this project:

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July 23, 2013

The Looking Glass (How to turn ordinary glass into a mirror)

This was the little project that could. Inspired by Pinterest, I kept coming across these fabulous looking time-worn mirrors that were DIYed using ordinary picture frame glass. Determined that our outdoor space needed A Looking Glass, I went on the hunt for this magical product. 

I drove to every craft and home improvement store in our town and throughout the neighboring city. The clerks looked at me like I was from another planet, "you want what?"

Persistence is one of my strong suits and Determination is my middle name, so I contacted the folks at Krylon and learned that it is not available in Canada. What!!!!! When I say I wanted this product, I mean I WANTED IT BAD and I found it on Amazon. Shipping and duty cost more than double the price of the actual product but like I said, I wanted it BAD.

Turning ordinary glass into a mirror

So when UPS showed up at my door, I did the happy dance. Here is that liquid gold, Krylon Looking Glass Spray Paint.

Krylon Looking Glass Mirror Like Paint

You may be asking yourselves, so why didn't she just go out and buy a mirror? Because I had to see this stuff in action and if it worked, then just think of the possibilities for other fun projects!

And the fun begins...

How To Turn Ordinary Glass Into A Looking Glass Mirror

Spray fine coats on the back side of the glass and let dry around five minutes between coats and that is all there is to it!

Coat #1

Glass after one coat of reflective spray paint

Coat #2

Glass after two coats of reflective spray paint

Coat #3

Glass after three coats of reflective spray paint

Coat #4

Glass after four coats of reflective spray paint

Coat #5

Glass after five coats of reflective spray paint

Coat #6

Glass after six coats of reflective spray paint

What I love about this finish is that it remains slightly opaque after it dries which makes it more interesting than just a plain ordinary mirror.

Ordinary glass DIYed into a mirror

The picture frame I found in our basement storage room. I painted it with chalk paint in the color Versailles. I gave it a lightly distressed finish by sanding back some of the colors to reveal the wood underneath. Because it is hanging outside, I applied several coats of exterior polyurethane to protect the finish.

So that my friends is how to turn ordinary glass into a Looking Glass!

I found the perfect spot for it on our deck.  When you are sitting in the Adirondack chairs facing the house, you now see a view of the yard.  Love it!

Regular glass into Outdoor mirror

I must say it was worth the cost of having the Krylon Looking Glass Spray Paint shipped because it was so much fun to try. I plan on turning dollar store glass into mirrored glass next.

Have you ever used looking glass spray paint? Has this inspired you to give it a try?

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July 21, 2013

Pretty Rose Modge Podge Thumbtacks

A fun way to make your own unique thumbtacks!


Materials Needed:
Modge Podge Melts
Craft Hot Glue Gun
Flat Round Head Thumbtacks
Candy Mould
Cooking Spray
Craft Paints
I picked up these inexpensive candy moulds at Michael's. There are numerous designs to choose from but I fell in love with these pretty rose ones. Now I'm not going to lie, I could have shown you a picture of the brand new mould right out of the package but as you can see there are staples holding this one together. Why you ask? Well my first attempt at making these didn't go so well. There used to be 10 roses but Ahem, they stuck to the mould and I couldn't pry two of those pretties out come hell or high water!
TIP:  Apply a light coat of cooking spray inside each mould.

Heat up a craft glue gun and remove any residual glue from the gun before starting. Insert a stick of Modge Podge Melts and fill each mould. I found lightly shaking the mould as I went helped keep the liquid nice and level. Before they cool insert the blunt end of a thumbtack into the center of each mould.
TIP: Make sure the point of the tack is sticking out far enough that it will pierce into a corkboard.
Let them cool completely and pop them out of the mould.

How cute are these!  Wipe any cooking spray off with a paper towel.  I think they are gorgeous left white but I couldn't resist adding some colour.

I simply painted each one with craft paint in a Pearl finish. I did some red and added some white to the red paint to make some pink. I thought I'd be creative and paint some silver and green. Ummm, not loving them but what the heck!

I think they are mahvelous dahling!

I love this cheeky card that Hubby came across in his travels and thought I'd appreciate it's humour. It says, "Pull up your big girl panties and just deal with it".

So there you have it, unique and personal thumbtacks for your corkboard!
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July 20, 2013

Tray Chic (Pun Intended)

Another update on the trays!
Remember earlier in this post I couldn't figure out why when I applied clear wax over the chalk paint on this tray that it turned pink?  

Mystery solved!  Well it wasn't much of a mystery and I don't know why I forgot about this simple technique for resolving stains bleeding through paint.  I applied a coat of shellac over the entire tray and repainted it with Pure White chalk paint and dry brushed the filigree with Duck Egg Blue chalk paint.  Ta Da, no more pink!

Unfortunately I lost my handpainted floral detail but I'm okay with that.  I think it looks just as pretty without.

A little update on the trays!
After all my fun transforming them, I couldn't just put them back into the cupboard.  This spot in my kitchen at the end of the cabinets has bugged me since we finished our kitchen renovations.  It needed something but I couldn't figure out what.  

Much better now!

I bought the letters in a clearance bin at Michael's.  They only had Capital T's left so I went with it and I love how it adds a little whimsy to the vignette.  I painted the letters with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Graphite and applied a coat of Annie Sloan Soft Dark Wax.

 I picked up these little cuties at one of my favorite stores, the Apple Box Boutique.  I tied a little raffia bow onto each and I think they look so pretty in this spot.

I've been on a tray transformation binge!
With summer in full swing we tend to put our trays into action far more often. We've been using ours to transport food and dishes onto the deck for BBQ's and serving snacks and drinks around the firepit. Sadly, each and every one of our trays didn't bring much personality to the occasion.  My first thought was a shopping trip to buy some pretty new trays.  My second thought was $$$.  My third was "Chalk and Milk Paint".

I found this beauty at a thrift store for $4.50! I was so excited to get started on it's transformation that I forgot to take Before pictures. It was a dark wood (not sure what) and had a few chunks missing from the inside (nothing that Dynamic Dyna Patch Compound couldn't fix).

I painted the first coat with Old White Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and then decided to paint the second coat with Pure White Annie Sloan Chalk Paint because I wanted more of a crisp linen vibe. I then lightly dry brushed over the raised filigree with Duck Egg Blue Chalk Paint. Carefully, I hand painted over the gold floral filigree with Duck Egg Blue. It isn't perfect but I think perfection lies in the imperfections!


I did a light distressing around the edges with sandpaper revealing the natural wood underneath. I then applied a couple coats of Annie Sloan Soft Wax over the entire piece.

 Then a mysterious thing happened???  For some unexplained reason while the wax was drying the white paint turned a light shade of pink.  Scratching my head I checked my wax brush and buffing cloth to make sure there wasn't any red paint on them.  Nope!  I haven't a clue why this happened but I decided it looks pretty with the duck egg colour and for now decided to leave it.  Reminds me of a light shade of Antoinette Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

If anyone knows why this may have happened please post your comments below!
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