Contemporary Take on Vintage Photos

This originally appeared as a guest post on Seattle Magazine’s website. We recently were asked a question about working with large format graphics so thought we’d re-post the article here.

Here’s a relatively easy project to display old family photos in a contemporary way. Enlarge, mount on plywood, and frame with flat steel bar.


My parents met when they were in first grade. Family legend has it that in the second grade my mom said she was going to marry “Jimmy” and about 15 years later, she did. We’ve had these great photos in our family and I’ve always loved them – especially the one where they are standing in front of a brick wall of the post office. It’s graphic, simple, and the composition is so great with them off to the side and the window off the edge on the other side.

I wanted to blow it up really (really) big and frame it in a simple contemporary style. With Monica and Mary Jean’s help, this is what I did: Continue reading

DIY: Lamp from Vintage Book Pages

We had some plastic “Zip” letters. We had an old 1961 Wizard of Oz book with cool illustrations. We thought “wouldn’t it be fun to make a lamp that reveals a little secret when you turn it on?”

This is how we made our magic-vintage-book-word-lamp.

First we picked our favorite illustrations and decided on a good word – “OZ” repeated 2x was perfect.

We needed holes in the edges because the 4 sides were to be joined with little 1/2″ metal book rings. We figured out the distance our holes should be from the edges, made a little template from an old coaster, and drilled through the coaster into the plastic. We placed a piece of scrap wood in the back to prevent the drill from going into the table. :)

The book was too cool to cut up, so we copied our favorite illustrations onto white cover stock.


Copies of the book illustrations onto white cover stock. We were a little paranoid about copying a book, so we conducted a little research online and deduced the Wizard of Oz is public domain as of 1956 or so.

Then we placed the letters onto the pages and lightly traced the corners with pencil onto the page to mark the positioning.


Next we spray glued (Super 77) the back of the page and placed it in a window. Using the pencil lines as a guide, we carefully placed the right side of the letter onto the back of the picture.

We burnished the pages onto the plastic letters. Working from the back side, we used a very sharp X-Acto knife to trim away the excess paper, holding the knife firmly against the plastic edge. We held the plastic letter up to the light to see where the drilled hole was located and used a skewer to poke a hole through the paper.

After doing that for all four letters, we attached them at the corners with the metal rings.


We needed a small lamp so we made one with a small socket and some scrap wood. (There are lots of tutorials out there for wiring your own lamp!)


That’s all there is to it – there’s no place like home.





Some complicated thoughts:

You can order individual Zip letters here (and probably other places). The Zip letters have slightly rounded edges which allows room for the lamp cord to pass through, which is nice. A drawback is that not all the plastic letters are not the same width, and if you are making a square lamp, that’s a problem. So one has to do a little planning, which is hard to do if the letters are not in front of you. This is one of the reasons we chose a two letter word (“OZ”) and repeated it. Another option is to cut clear acrylic sheets, available at craft stores. You can make your own letters by cutting them from black paper and spray gluing them onto the plastic, then spray gluing your image. Then you can make all your sides the same width. You would need to figure out a way to pass your cord through though – you could always drill a hole in the plastic towards the bottom, and thread the cord through before you wire up the lamp.

I told you these were complicated thoughts. Let us know what you come up with!



Farmer’s Market Booth Display

This is a little side project that I did for our friends who own a blueberry farm (Hunter’s Moon Organics). They are going to participate in local farmers’ markets and were in need of a display table, shelves and pricing sign for their booth. Using salvaged materials, this is what I made:


This is very similar to the tabletop we covered with dictionary pages. See that post here.

This table needed to be portable and easily dismantled, so to keep it light, the table top was made with a hollow core door from Second Use Building Materials. The legs are old metal saw horses, with glue-laminated beams uses as the supports. It all comes apart easily.

The top of the table is covered with cut-up brown re-enforced mailing envelopes and are glued them down with Mod Podge. The farm’s logo was printed large (in sections) onto the brown paper and positioned so only part of it appears on the top of the table. The outer edges are framed with flat bar metal and secured with galvanized lag bolts/washers. The top is coated with 2 coats of exterior Verathane, for easy cleanup.

Tiered Blueberry Display:

The tiered displays are made from old fence wood, sanded, and finished with Profin.

Pricing Chalkboard:

This will display the pricing and upcoming events at the farm. It’s made from an old school chalkboard, found at a yard sale. The “Local Harvest” type is printed on old magazine paper and Mod Podged onto a yardstick and secured with nails top/bottom.

These pieces will be used in combination with a canopy with banners with the farm logo. Can’t wait to see how it all looks together – we will keep you posted!




Staircase from Iron and Salvaged Wood

The other day someone wrote in and asked about the staircase that is shown in one of our posts about re-using old doors in a remodel. I realized that we had never posted about the stairs – mostly because they were completed before we ever started blogging. I don’t have any pictures of the process, but for those of you interested, here are some photos/details of the final staircase: 

stair railing design, custom stair railing, metal and wood staircase, modern stair

The design came from our desire of wanting a mix of traditional Craftsman (like our downstairs) and a slightly contemporary look (like our upstairs).

The husband painstakingly built the staircase, using planed/salvaged Douglas Fir (when possible). We had a local metal fabricator, Atomic Fabricators, build the iron work, and provided them with plywood templates so the measurements and angles fit perfectly. We attached the iron to the wood with galvanized lag bolts.

The project took awhile and it was certainly challenging. In the middle of the process I would often catch the husband just gazing off into the distance in a trance-like state holding a tape measure.

One drawback: the fir treads are a little soft and we’ve learned the hard way that it isn’t a good idea to let your kids wear soccer cleats in the house.

stair railing design, custom stair railing, metal and wood staircase, modern stair

stair railing design, custom stair railing, metal and wood staircase, modern stair




Organize Your Spices: Make Labeled Tins

This post originally appeared last month on the blog Mod Podge Rocks. Check it out for great crafting ideas.

Do all of your spices in their random-sized containers drive you crazy? They have always bugged me – I could never find what I needed (so I would inadvertently buy duplicates) and no matter how neatly I placed them on a lazy susan, they never stayed organized.

Spices_beforeYou’ve seen spice organizers out there, and for good reason. But they can get a little expensive. Continue reading

Simple Organizing for Summer

A sure sign that summer has arrived in Seattle – wet suits and towels on the railing. It’s always this tidy (so not) –

Happy Fourth of July from Hammer Like A Girl!

Simple Organizing Project With Hooks

One of our favorite super simple organizing projects – recycled hooks on the stair railing :)

Have a great and relaxing Fourth!


Polka Dot DIY Wall Art from Paint Swatches

This post originally appeared last month on Mod Podge Rocks Blog. Check it out for lots of great craft ideas! Polka dot DIY wall art from paint swatches

We have always been inspired by the art you see nowadays in Pinterest-land where people use (free) paint swatches. (We’ve often wondered if the paint suppliers mind this upcycle trend.) We came up with an idea using paint swatches, paper, and large hole punches to create polka dot DIY wall art. It is a simple project that you can easily customize with your own color palette and favorite patterns. Continue reading