DIY Modern Minimalist Planter Boxes

diy modern minimalist planter box

Last May, the Dude and I picked up the materials to build three planter boxes for our balcony. We finished building them in June, and I did the first two coats of paint shortly thereafter. I didn’t get around to painting the third coat until August. The plants were purchased and planted in September. And now it’s the end of October and I’m finally blogging about them.

These planters were supposed to be done in June but then life…

So anyway, I pretty much followed the instructions in this tutorial to build the planters except ours are much longer and they are not vertically stacked.

diy modern minimalist planter box

We have a super long balcony, and I’ve been wanting to plant some stuff to fill the space. When I looked up the price of modern fiberclay rectangular planters I choked and decided to DIY it using wood and a few coats of paint.

We picked up all our materials from Home Depot, and the cost of making the three planters came just under $200 (materials are listed below). I can’t even buy ONE fiberclay planter in the same size for $200!

I planted blue oat grass, an evergreen grass, which I got from Hunters Garden Centre in Kits. Blue oat grass doesn’t need much water, which is a good thing, because watering plants is a chore I prefer to do sporadically. For soil I combined container mix and landscape soil.

The plants look a bit wispy at the moment but perhaps by next year they will fill out. I just hope they don’t die during the winter because that’ll be $120 that just withers away.

diy modern minimalist planter box

1 – 2” x 8’ x 12’ pressure treated wood
1 – 2” x 8’ x 10’ pressure treated wood
18 – 1’ x 6’ x 4’ cedar
12 – 3” screws
72 – 1 ½” screws
1 – roll of landscape fabric
1 gallon – exterior white paint (I used untinted Behr exterior paint)

diy modern minimalist planter box

Tips for making rectangular planter boxes

  • Pre-drilling all the pilot holes is a must when constructing the boxes. It’ll make things go much faster and easier.
  • The tutorial says to use deck screws but we used regular ones for the 3” screws.
  • For the gaps between the boards on the long side of the planter, we just eyeballed it. To prevent soil from seeping out through the gaps, I stapled landscape fabric in the inside of the box.
  • For drainage, place empty milk jugs at the bottom of the box, put a sheet of landscape fabric on top of the milk jugs so the soil doesn’t fall through, and then plant your plants on top of the sheet. Another reason I created the false bottom was to avoid filling the entire box with soil.
  • If using white paint it’s worth doing 3 coats. I found that 2 coats wasn’t enough for an opaque finish.

The great thing about making these ourselves, besides the satisfaction of building something with our bare hands, is that it allowed us to make them the exact dimensions that worked for the space. When I was shopping around for planter boxes they were either too big, too small, or the wrong colour (and definitely the wrong price!).


I’m pretty happy with how these planters turned out, and I hope they’ll look better as they age and get weathered.

Shortly after planting the blue oat grass, I felt inspired to go get more plants. I had some leftover soil, so why not? Here’s a cheerful collection of potted greenery, mostly herbs.


Our balcony is finally coming together, and I look forward to spending more time out on it next summer to enjoy our new plants.

diy minimalistic modern planter box

Making a Belly Cast

bellycast_01_webYes, I did it. I made a belly cast. When I first learned about it, I thought it was a weird thing for pregnant women to do. But then I read up on the process of making a cast of your baby bump and became intensely curious about the experience of creating one. Honestly, it seemed like a fun DIY project to do with the Dude. And it did turn out to be fun.

Of course, now I don’t know what to do with the belly cast. I simply wanted to make one, but I’m at a loss as to what to do with the final product. It will probably be stuffed in a box and buried in the closet. But I do want to take pictures of it with Nuggz once he’s born (Nuggz is our nickname for the babe). I’m especially keen to see his reaction to it when he’s a bit older; I think it’ll be hilarious.

The belly cast is still in its raw state. You’re supposed to sand it down and seal it with gesso. There are plenty of instructions on the web and YouTube videos showing you how to make a belly cast. Here are some tips I’d like to share based on my experience:

  • Start from the chest down.
  • Make sure to grease up your skin really well at the start or you’ll get a surprise wax job when you remove the cast. I used olive oil.
  • Try to avoid wrapping plaster gauze beyond the sides of your torso on to your back or it will be difficult to get the cast off of your body. The Dude went too far behind my sides, and he had to cut the sides of the cast a bit so he could wriggle it off of me.
  • Work fast! The plaster gauze dries pretty quickly.
  • Maintain good posture while sitting or standing so that the cast doesn’t look weirdly lopsided.
  • Do at least two layers. It’s a good idea to reinforce the thin parts with more plaster gauze later, but make sure the cast is completely dry before reinforcing (about 48 hours later) and it’s important to apply the additional gauze on the underside of the cast.

bellycast_02_webGiven that I didn’t have professional maternity portraits done, I suppose making a belly cast is an alternative way to remember this unique time in my life.

Posted in DIY

Fabric Wall Hanging

What I really call this wall hanging is the “Poop Shield.” I made it specifically to go by the baby’s changing station so that when he pees or poops during a diaper change, the wall will be protected. Frankly, I did this project as an excuse to do more fabric painting because I really enjoyed the first time I did it with the cushions.

If you can sew in a straight line then you can easily do this project; all you need to do is hem the edges. Again, I used a piece of canvas dropcloth like I did with the cushions (I have tons of this material!) and used a dowel to hang it up. The cross pattern was inspired by this DIY project I saw on Pinterest.

Supposedly, infants like to look at high contrast objects so hopefully our kiddo will be entranced by this wall hanging whenever he gets his diaper changed.


Posted in DIY

Painting Fabric by Hand

Making these cushion covers has been a long saga, one that began last year with the idea that I wanted to make my own ombre dyed cushions. I had a ton of canvas dropcloth left over from a previous project and so I first had to sew them into covers. I was debating between a zipper closure and an envelope closure and decided to go with the latter because I didn’t want to take the time to learn how to sew zippers (my sewing machine skills are very basic). Once they were sewn up, I had to decide what colour they would be and the dying technique I’d use. Originally I had my heart set on black ombre cushions, but as I looked into how to do it, I realized it would take more time and effort than I was willing to commit. I also considered shibori dyeing, which I just discovered, but that also required a fair amount of effort. Finally, I decided on the easiest technique: using fabric paint. Of course, I agonized over which colour to go with, and at the end I finally decided on yellow because I find that I’m really drawn to yellow these days. But I did paint one pillow using black (I couldn’t resist!). So the cushions ended up looking wildly different from my original plan of black ombre cushions. Still, I’m so pleased with how they turned out.

So here are the steps for how I made the cushions.

Cushion covers made out of 100% cotton
Fabric paint
Disposable plate or shallow bowl for fabric paint
Foam brush
Paintbrushes (smallish and biggish)
Painter’s tape (optional)
Water soluble fabric pencil (optional)
Newspaper or dropcloth to protect the surface you’re painting on

First make sure to launder your cushion covers as this will make the paint adhere better to the fabric. For the pillow with the black lines pattern I used Jacquard Textile paint in black and a foam brush that was 2 1/8 inches wide. Using the fabric pencil, I marked the cushion cover every 3 inches so as to ensure that I painted the lines evenly spaced apart more or less across the pillow.

Lay some newspaper or a dropcloth on the surface you’re working on. Additonally, place a layer of newspaper inside the cover so that the paint doesn’t seep through to the back part of the cushion.

Pour some of the fabric paint onto your plate or bowl, dip the foam brush in it, and paint away! The Jacquard Textile paint is quite thick so a little goes a long way. I also used a yardstick as a guide to help me paint the lines evenly.

Ta da! So easy and it looks so good. Let the paint dry and then heatset using an iron according to the fabric paint’s instructions.

For the yellow striped cushions I used Jacquard Dye-na-flow, which is a very watery fabric paint. I used a regular paint brush to apply the paint initially.

Use the painter’s tape to mark the stripes you want to paint and then paint away. Peel the tape away and then use a smaller paintbrush to paint the edges of the stripe to make the lines look a bit jagged.  If you prefer you can skip the tape and freehand it.

Another couple of progress shots. Don’t forget to heatset the paint once the pillows are dry.

Voila! Because the Dye-na-flow paint is pretty watery, when it dries it doesn’t make the fabric too stiff.

This project was so easy to do that now I’m inspired to paint more fabric. I have a few ideas floating around in my head, and hopefully I will share the results here.

Posted in DIY

Once You Go Black…

So my obsession with black continues. For ages I’ve been wanting to paint these baskets some other colour so that they would contrast from the wooden floor and the wooden shelf. There was just too much wood going on in that part of our living room, and it was irking me to no end. Not surprisingly, I chose to paint them black because I’m still obsessed with black paint.



See? A simple paint job makes a world of a difference! I also like that the baskets match the black floor lamp.


I first tried using regular paint but it wasn’t going on to the basket evenly. So I switched to spray paint and it was much better. First I did a coat of primer spray paint as the photo above shows. Then I did a couple coats of chalkboard spray paint. Chalkboard paint gives a nice matte finish.


The baskets are from IKEA. I just discovered that these baskets now come in black, but when I purchased them a few years ago there was only one colour option. I have another small thing in our apartment that I’m planning to give a black paint makeover. Can’t wait!

Paint Dipped Party Forks

Over the summer I organized a little get-together, and on a whim I decided to make some festive forks for it. Whenever I can I try to add DIY elements to a party. It’s the little details, people!

This is an instant gratification DIY project – my favourite kind, given that my free time is very limited nowadays. I noticed a couple years ago that paint dipped home accessories and furniture were all the rage. I don’t know if this trend is still going strong, but I thought it would be cute to have paint dipped forks.


Wooden forks (I picked up some bamboo forks from Ming Wo, a kitchen supply store in Vancouver. )
Acrylic paint
Painter’s tape


Get your forks ready and wrap a piece of tape around each one, somewhere around the middle of the handle like in the picture below.


Paint the area above the tape to the end of the handle.


I just used some acrylic paint I had on hand. One was a gold metallic paint and the other white. I found that the gold paint didn’t provide enough contrast. After the first coat of paint I let them dry for a about 10 minutes. Then I applied a second coat of paint.


Let the forks dry, making sure the paint doesn’t smear. If I were more ambitious I would have painted a clear varnish to protect the paint, but I didn’t really care to since I knew these forks would be tossed out after a few uses.

Make sure to clean the forks before using them for eating. I was careful when washing the forks so as to not damage the paint.


Posted in DIY

Cheese Box Nightstands

We finally have matching nighstands! This is actually the first time I’ve had a proper nightstand on my side of the bed. For the last few years I’ve been either living without one or just had a basket to hold my reading materials. The Dude has had a series of salvaged nightstands we picked up from various places.

So a few weeks ago I bought a pair of vintage round cheese boxes from Stepback for the purpose of using them as nightstands. I really like that they’re round, which provides a nice contrast to the big rectangular bed and dresser. We just slapped some castors on them to make them a bit taller, and because I like putting castors on just about any piece of furniture! This was a simple, instant gratification DIY project, and I’m so pleased with the results!

I especially love the seams on the cheese boxes, particularly on the one right above with the numbers stamped along the side of it. Back in the old days these boxes were used to age cheese.

Here’s a play-by-play of how we attached the castors onto the cheese box.

Materials and Tools

  • 2 cheese boxes
  • 6 2 in. brass castors
  • 24 bolts (size will depend on your castor)
  • 24 nuts (size will depend on your bolt)
  • 24 washers (size will depend on your bolt)
  • Pencil
  • Power drill

Turn the cheese box upside down and position the three castors to where you want them to be.

Use a pencil to mark where you’ll drill the holes.

Use the right sized bit to drill the holes.

Fasten the castors to the cheese box with the bolts. Turn the box over carefully and place the washers over the bolts.

Fasten the nuts to each of the bolts and you’re done!

They look old and lovely. It pleases me to no end when we’re able to acquire a used piece of furniture (or in this case a used item repurposed as furniture) instead of buying something brand new. One of my decorating mantras is to use preloved furnishings as much as possible because it’s better for the environment and, to boot, they provide a lot more character than something that was manufactured recently.

Arranging Wall Shelves

One important thing I learned about wall shelves is that you want the space between them to decrease as you go up. By the time I got this tip from the second Apartment Therapy book, I had already put up the wall shelves in my office. I had initially spaced the shelves evenly apart; if you look at the “before” photo you can see that the space between the top and middle shelves actually looks bigger than the space between the middle and bottom ones. It’s a visual distortion, and that is why it’s crucial to arrange the top shelves closer to one another in order to compensate for it. When I realized this, it bugged me to no end. The Dude told me to just accept it and move on. But it seriously ate away at me.

Finally when I repainted the walls last fall, I took the opportunity to lower the top shelf by just an inch. It’s amazing how just one inch made all the difference in the world! I could finally look at the wall shelves and be at peace. I mean just look at the “after” photo. The shelves look so much better and evenly spaced out!

Another tip I learned by simply looking at a lot of wall shelves on the internet is that you want to place less items on the shelves as you go up. I noticed that the best stylized wall shelves are the ones that don’t even hold anything on the top shelf – they are simply left empty! You want to create a sort of a pyramid effect when arranging things on wall shelves, i.e. going light to heavy from top to bottom. It mimics how things are arranged in nature (e.g. think of cascading waterfalls) and so our eyes find it visually appealing.

Below is a set of wall shelves in our own apartment. Not the best stylizing job but I tried to mimic a cascading effect.

Here are better examples of well arranged wall shelves.

from Freshome

from The Brick House

Of course, rules are meant to be broken. Here’s a set of wall shelves I love that disregards everything I just wrote.

from Manhattan Nest

How to Clean Sterling Silver the Easy and Fast Way

Sterling silver jewelry is my favourite kind to wear. But in the past I avoided buying it because I hated that it tarnished. Because I didn’t know how to clean silver well enough to bring it back to its former pristine condition, I would just chuck it aside and never wear it again.

Then I discovered a simple, safe, and effective method for cleaning sterling silver. So now I have no qualms about buying and enjoying silver jewelry.
Here’s a pair of earrings that had tarnished and needed cleaning. See how fast and easy it is to get them looking perfect again using the method described below.
– Non-metal bowl (glass or plastic works well)
– Piece of aluminum foil big enough to line your bowl
– Baking soda
– Chopstick or any other wooden/plastic utensil

1. Bring to boil enough water to fill about half the bowl.

2. Line the bottom of the pan with the piece of aluminum foil.
3. Place a heaping teaspoon of baking soda on the foil, and fill the bowl with water (about halfway is fine).
4. Drop your jewelry into the bowl, making sure it touches the foil. Water will start to fizz and there will be a slight sulfurous odour.
5. Leave the jewelry in for about one minute. Then fish it out with a chopstick or plastic utensil and wipe dry with a piece of soft cloth or kleenex.
Looks brand new, doesn’ it? Now this method of cleaning also works for other items made out of sterling silver such as wire baskets, silverware, and any other housewares made out of silver.
What I love about this way of cleaning is that you can do it with items you readily have in your home. It doesn’t require buying jewelry cleaners and other nonsense. Plus, this method won’t damage the silver and it’s super quick and easy!
One last tip: in order to prevent your silver from tarnishing make sure to store it enclosed in a box when not in use. Oxygen is the enemy of silver! It’s what causes silver to tarnish.

Posted in DIY

DIY Holiday Cards

This holiday season I got the urge to make my own cards. I used materials I had lying around and whipped up these cards in no time – a fast, instant gratification project.

– Various felt fabric
– Yarn scraps
– Ribbon
– Blank cards
– Cardstock paper
– Glue

– Fabric scissors
– Pen

Ornament Card

1. Draw ornaments shapes on cardstock paper with a pen. Cut out the shapes. Then place an ornament shape on a piece of felt fabric and trace around it with a pen. Cut the shape, preferably with fabric scissors for a clean, crisp edge.

2. Spread glue lightly on back of ornament shape and paste it on the front of a blank card.

3. Pour a thin line of glue from top centre of the ornament to the top of the card. Glue a piece of scrap yarn on it. Then cut off the excess at the top.

4. Make a little ribbon with a piece of scrap yarn. Then glue it at the top centre of ornament.

Christmas Tree Card

1. Cut a triangle from a piece of green felt fabric.

2. Cut three ribbon scraps and glue them on the diagonal on the tree. Allow to dry for 30 minutes. Then cut off the excess.

3. Cut out a little tree stump from a piece of felt fabric.

4. Spread glue lightly on the backs of the triangle and stump and glue on the front of a blank card.

Trio of Pennants Card

1. Cut out a rectangular strip  of felt fabric. Fold lengthwise. Draw a diagonal line from the point where the corners meet to a point on the folded edge about 1 cm in from the adjacent edge. Cut along the line. Repeat this step two times with other pieces of felt fabric.

2. Lightly spread glue on backs of pennants. And paste on the front of a blank card.

If you don’t have felt fabric on hand, coloured paper would work just as well. I used felt because I’ve got heaps of it (it’s one of my favourite materials to work with).

Posted in DIY