7th House on the Left

Sometime last year, I saw these adorable reclaimed apothecary matchstick bottles (I even ended up featuring them on our 2013 holiday gift guide here). I initially thought they would be neat hostess gifts – especially for the holidays – but now that the holidays are behind us, I thought they’d be great to have here and there around the house readily available for my candle-loving self. The only thing is that they always seem to be out of stock. So, feeling the need for an adorable reclaimed apothecary matchstick bottle in my life, like now, I decided to DIY my own version. Let me just go ahead and tell you, this is one of the simplest DIY projects ever.

DIY Apothecary Match Bottle // 7thhouseontheleft.com

I started out with a small glass bottle that I found at Hobby Lobby for $2 (it came with a metal string/hook around the top but it easily came off). I took the cork top out, turned the bottle upside down and placed a nice big blob of glass etching cream on the bottom. Be careful not to add too much – what I have in the photo above is the absolute maximum (I was too busy focusing the camera to pay attention to what I was doing). If you add too much it will drip over the edges and etch drip marks on the side of the bottle.

DIY Apothecary Match Bottle // 7thhouseontheleft.com

I let it set (on a paper towel just in case) for about 2 hours – which is a lot longer than the directions on the bottle tell you to do, but I just wanted to make sure it was deeply etched enough to strike a match. When time was up, I rinsed off the etching cream in the kitchen sink (followed by a good cleaning of the sink just in case) and cleaned the bottle with a bit of dish detergent to make sure all of the cream was gone.

DIY Apothecary Match Bottle // 7thhouseontheleft.com

The cream made the surface really cloudy looking – but not rough. Nevertheless, it was rough enough to be able to strike a match and worked perfectly. If you try out this project and for some reason the glass isn’t rough enough, just add another blob of etching cream and wait another 20-30 minutes. Update: I made another one today and decided to leave the etching cream on all day long (about 12 hours) and it turned out to be much more rough than the other bottles – which makes the match light a little better.

Bonus tip! If you don’t want to mess with the etching cream, another option would be to cut a small circle of low-grit sand paper and glue it to the bottom of the bottle. It’s not as pretty and seamless looking, but it does make lighting the matches extremely easy, and it makes the whole project just that much simpler.

DIY Apothecary Match Bottle // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Put the cork back in, add some strike anywhere matches and you’re done – that’s it! Now, a note about the strike anywhere matches: they are extremely hard to find – at least around Richmond anyway. Greg and I checked five stores looking for strike anywhere matches (Lowe’s, Target, Martin’s, Food Lion, and REI) and we couldn’t find them anywhere. We ended up buying 3 boxes on eBay for about $6 (they also have them on Amazon). So, if you’re having trouble finding them in your neck of the woods, try the World Wide Web.

DIY Apothecary Match Bottle // 7thhouseontheleft.com

You can get fancy and easily add a design or monogram to the side of the bottle using an adhesive stencil (which are available at most craft stores) or making your own stencil with painter’s tape, but I just decided to keep this one clean and simple. Add a little tag with some baker’s twine, and these would make for great party/wedding favors.

DIY Apothecary Match Bottle // 7thhouseontheleft.com

I loved how nicely the first one turned out that I ended up making three of these for around the house (one for my office, one for the master bedroom and one for the kitchen – the places we burn candles pretty much everyday). I’m also going back to Hobby Lobby later this week to pick up two more (one for the living room and one for the guest room). Like I said earlier, this is the easiest little DIY project ever, so I just can’t get enough.

You know when you have those projects that you start on and you’re all gung-ho on getting that sucker done, then an obstacle comes out of nowhere and you’re back at square one? Well, that’s sort of what happened when we decided to finally get around to tackling the half bathroom. We were all like, “This is what we’re going to do, we’re so excited! Yada, yada, yada…” and then, bam. An obstacle by way of an unforeseen wiring problem with the exhaust fan. We’re still working on that issue (well, my dad is, since he’s our designated licensed electrician). Until we get that figured out, we’re going to move on with another project in this space – more specifically, do something with the 41.5-inch wide wall behind the toilet.

Half Bath Layout / 7thhousentheleft.com

Our initial thought was to put a large piece of artwork on the wall, but after thinking it over (and getting opinions from my family when they were in town last week), we decided that adding shelves would balance the tiny space out and make it feel more “finished”.

Restoration Hardware Inspiration / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Needless to say, there are thousands of shelving options available for purchase out there. Since time was on our side during our 3-day weekend, we decided to tackle a DIY option. While scrolling around Restoration Hardware’s website, I stumbled on these reclaimed wood wall shelves. Greg and I both loved the modern meets rustic vibe and thought it could easily be replicated with some DIY action.

DIY Restoration Hardware Inspired Shelving / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Seeing as how this room is really small along with the reflections from the mirror, it’s really hard to get good photos of the space, so bear with us. Before we took a trip to the hardware store, we mapped out where and how long we wanted the shelves to be with a few pieces of painter’s tape (seriously, we use this stuff for everything but painting). The shelves ended up coming at 30 inches long (leaving 5.25 inches on either side) and 12 inches apart. We decided to go with 10-inch-deep shelves so that they wouldn’t be in the way while using the facilities, but they’d still be functional. At that point, we grabbed our measurements and parts list and headed to the hardware store!

DIY Restoration Hardware Inspired Shelving / 7thhouseontheleft.com

We purchased a 10-foot piece of 2″ x 10″ pine and had it cut into four 30″ pieces (even though we only needed three, we’re hanging onto the fourth piece for a possible future project). We also bought six 10-inch-long pieces of 3/4″ galvanized pipe, six 3/4″ floor flanges and six 3/4″ pipe caps for the shelf brackets. Other necessities included a small can of Special Walnut stain, a sponge brush (we bought a few just because) and a can of spray paint (we’ll get to those details in a second).

DIY Restoration Hardware Inspired Shelving / 7thhouseontheleft.com

First, Greg made the “brackets” for the shelves. All he had to do was take a 10″ pipe piece and attach a floor flange on one end and a cap to the other. We went with galvanized pipe (you can find it in the plumbing section) because we wanted a good, chunky, industrial-looking pipe. However, for a more inexpensive version, you can go with EMT conduit (which is over in the electrical section).

How to Make Faux Wrought Iron // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Once all six brackets were assembled (which took only about 2 minutes), I spray painted them with a light coat of Rust-Oleum’s textured spray paint (in Aged Iron). Once they were dry, Greg covered them in a coat of flat black enamel spray paint we already had on hand.

How to Make Faux Wrought Iron // 7thhouseontheleft.com

The textured base with the combination of the flat black enamel spray paint made the pipes look extremely similar to wrought iron – a tip we’re going to remember if we ever want this look for a future project.

DIY Restoration Hardware Inspired Shelving / 7thhouseontheleft.com

As you can see, we picked out the ugliest piece of 2×10 framing board we could possibly find because we wanted the shelves to have as much character as possible. Before we started the staining process, we sanded the boards and rounded the edges with a vibrating sander and 120 grit sandpaper. We weren’t looking for perfectly round edges–we just wanted them to look a bit worn.

DIY Restoration Hardware Inspired Shelving / 7thhouseontheleft.com

For the stain, we used Minwax’s Special Walnut, which we already had in our stain/spray paint stash. Greg applied the stain using a sponge brush to ensure it would get down into all of the scratches and nicks we made during the distressing process. We decided not to seal the planks with polyurethane because we really didn’t want a glossy finish of any kind, and we wanted it to look as close as the inspiration shelving as possible, which isn’t sealed. Since a clear coat wasn’t in the plan, we made triple sure the stain was thoroughly dry before we put the shelves in place.

DIY Restoration Hardware Inspired Shelving / 7thhouseontheleft.com

In the photo above, you can really see the awesome character from the “ugly” wood coming through the stain. Greg was lucky enough to hit a stud for some of the right-side brackets. For the other 18 holes, he used toggle bolts to hold everything in place. These puppies definitely aren’t going anywhere.

DIY Restoration Hardware Inspired Shelving / 7thhouseontheleft.com

For us, the weight of the shelves and the texture of the pipe are enough to keep everything nicely in place. Greg mentioned that if you wanted to make these a little more child-/accident-proof, you could take one extra step during the bracket-building process and drill two holes all the way through the pipes using a drill bit meant for metal. You might need a few extra tools (such as a vise–to keep the pipe from turning–and a higher-powered drill). At that point, you’d just need to attach the shelves with screws through the holes in the pipes.

DIY Restoration Hardware Inspired Shelving / 7thhouseontheleft.com

We really love the finished product, and it definitely makes the tiny space feel a bit more on the “finished” side. The shelves really help balance out the vanity wall on the opposite side, and we’re thrilled to have some storage to be able to showcase some pretty things.

When it came to adding accessories, I mainly just worked with what we already had on hand, but also took a quick trip to Tuesday Morning. That’s where I found the wire basket, mercury glass lantern and faux greenery ball. It’s probably obvious from the empty mercury glass vase that I’m not quite finished finding a combination of accessories that I’m in love with – so, I guess you can call this a work in progress. I didn’t want to wait until it was “perfect” to post it because I was anxious to show off our new shelves. Oh and the topiary on the top shelf looks like it’s hitting the ceiling, but it’s really just the angle of the photo. It’s actually about 2″ from the ceiling. I hope to find a more modern (and slightly shorter) one in the future.

Aside from switching the accessories around here and there, without making it look too busy, I also plan on adding something to the top of the toilet tank so the shelves won’t appear as being top-heavy for the wall.

DIY Restoration Hardware Inspired Shelving / 7thhouseontheleft.com

On top of helping the space feel more finished, we’re also pretty thrilled with the price, which was a fraction of the inspiration shelves. If we had purchased these from RH, it would have cost $683 including shipping. All of the supplies for our DIY version turned out to be around $100. Not too shabby.

Kitchen // 7thhouseontheleft.com

In the middle of the breakfast bar in our kitchen, we have a wooden trough filled with faux grass that Ash picked up at HomeGoods a while back. It’s really a great piece, since it’s visually interesting, but still slim enough to allow us to work at the counter or eat breakfast while sitting at the bar. The problem is that the faux grass is just a little too “fresh” when fall and winter roll around. Since we love having some sort of decoration in this space, but we wanted something to match the season a bit better, Ash thought it would be fun to build a simple rustic looking box. That way, she could fill it herself and switch it out with the seasons. Of course, when she said it would be fun, she meant “fun” as in, “It would be fun for Greg to build a box for me”. Even with my (extremely) limited woodworking skills, I figured it couldn’t be but so hard to build a box out of a few pieces of lumber, so we started measuring.

DIY Rustic Table Centerpiece // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Ash wanted the box to be a little chunkier and longer than the faux grass one we have, so she used ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape and marked out how big she wanted the box to be right on the countertop. This is something both of us have started doing with just about any project; it’s way easier than taking a picture and drawing something in Photoshop or simply trying to imagine what something would look like. After measuring (her dimensions ended up being 8″ x 34″), it was time for me to get to work…

DIY Rustic Table Centerpiece // 7thhouseontheleft.com

I went to Lowe’s and bought one 2×6 piece of framing lumber and one 1×6 piece of whiteboard, both of them eight feet long. Since we don’t own a power miter saw, and my battery-operated circular saw is currently out of commission, I went ahead and asked the lumber guy in the store to cut the pieces down to the sizes I needed for the project: two 34-inch 1×6 boards (for the sides), one 34-inch 2×6 board (for the base) and two eight-inch 1×6 boards (for the ends).

DIY Rustic Table Centerpiece // 7thhouseontheleft.com

It was just below freezing outside, so I decided to do as much of this project indoors as possible and set up a “work bench” on the peninsula. To protect the counter, I laid down a piece of kraft paper and taped it down with painter’s tape.

It turned out that the 2×6 I bought was pretty warped, so it wouldn’t sit flat on the counter. The 1x6s I had, were nice and straight on the edges, though, so I just made sure they were level and ignored the fact that the 2×6 was up off the counter on one corner. I applied wood glue to each side of the base piece, put each of the side pieces in place, and clamped it all together using two 12-inch hand clamps. At that point, I realized my 1x6s weren’t exactly perfect either, so I flipped the box over and clamped it in the middle to take out some of the bow.

DIY Rustic Table Centerpiece // 7thhouseontheleft.com

About 24 hours later, the sides were dry. I applied more wood glue to the end of the box, attached the end pieces and let it sit for about 12 hours.

DIY Rustic Table Centerpiece // 7thhouseontheleft.com

I’ve always heard about the powers of wood glue (how the wood would break before the glue would), but I was nonetheless surprised at how secure it actually was after it dried. If it was going to be used for anything weight-bearing, I’d have probably used a combination of nails/screws and glue, but I’m not planning on filling my new trough with concrete.

DIY Rustic Table Centerpiece // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Now that everything was dry, it was time for sanding and filling. The 1×6 whiteboard I bought was already nice and smooth in most places, so all I had to do was round off the corners a bit and sand down some of the knots using a combination of some sanding sponges we had lying around, and 3M SandBlaster sheets.

DIY Rustic Table Centerpiece // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Just to make sure the new box didn’t look too “homemade”, I decided to use some stainable 3M Wood Filler on the outside edges. It went on easily (I just used my fingers), and looked great after everything dried. At this point, I was pretty proud of myself, but the stain really brought the whole thing home.

Minwax Espresso Stain / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Everybody knows how much we love our Minwax Dark Walnut stain around here. I think I’ve used it on 80% of the wood projects we’ve done. This time, however, another color caught my eye just as I was reaching toward the Dark Walnut. After calling Ash to make sure she was okay with taking a risk based on my knee-jerk reaction to a new stain color, I picked up the can of Espresso 273 and happily headed toward the car, completely forgetting stain-application tools in the process. Luckily, we had a brush and some rags on hand, and one coat of stain later, and I’d become a true believer.

DIY Rustic Table Centerpiece // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Seriously–I could not have been prouder of my choice – if I do say so myself. Once the staining was finished, I brought the box in from the cold and set it up on a few large cans of green beans to dry completely.

DIY Rustic Table Centerpiece // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Once it was good and dry (which took about 24 hours), Ash decided adding a few brass nail heads to the end pieces would add a simple touch of detail. In this photo, you can get a better look at what the wood filler looks like after one coat of stain. If you were using the wood filler on a nicer piece of furniture, you’d want to sand the seams a bit better before staining (I was too excited to apply my new stain color) and maybe go over them with another coat of stain or two to make the whole piece look more uniform. For this particular project, I left it as is after one coat. For a rustic box, it just looks cooler to have some variation and imperfections. At this point, it was time for Ash to fill the box with holiday cheer…

DIY Rustic Table Centerpiece // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Ash filled the trough with a live greenery garland that I picked up at the hardware store and some extra ball ornaments we had in our Christmas decorations.

DIY Rustic Table Centerpiece // 7thhouseontheleft.com

For the candles, she filled various-sized mason jars with Epsom salt and placed a battery operated candle in each of them. The texture and weight of the salt really looks like snow.

DIY Rustic Table Centerpiece // 7thhouseontheleft.com

The countertop centerpiece turned out exactly how we’d hoped. We still have ample work/eating space on either side, and it brings in some fun rustic decorating elements that Ash can change up with the seasons.

DIY Rustic Table Centerpiece // 7thhouseontheleft.com

The photo above really doesn’t do it justice, but it looks really awesome at night, too. The soft light from the candles glows through the salt snow. This, without a doubt, is our favorite seasonal DIY project yet – and what’s so cool is that we get to keep it all year round.

3M DIY Collaboration // 7th House on the Left

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