FAIL: How To Remove Latex Paint From Plastic

I knew this day was coming: the first disaster project has made it into the FAIL pile, and you get to reap the benefits. This is how not to remove latex paint from plastic or resin.

The first rule of Flip Club: Always, always, always inspect your Craigslist purchases thoroughly before buying them.

 I scored this sweet resin oval mirror with the intent of turning it into a chalkboard , but when I picked it up, I discovered the deep turquoise color from the photos wasn’t original. It was a really terrible paint job by the owner. Bits of painters tape still stuck to the edges of the frame. It also wasn’t wooden as the owner claimed. It was plastic. In a hurry, I took it anyway thinking I’d figure out a work around. Wrong!

I began with a little research about how to remove latex paint from plastic, and chose a solvent I had on hand: nail polisher remover and elbow grease. It worked pretty well on the smooth areas, though with a lot of effort and cotton balls!

 But removing the paint from the ornate detailing was nearly impossible.

So, I decided to soak the frame in the nail polish remover first to see if it would make it easier to scrub the paint off the crevices. So I folded some tin foil around a large section of frame, poured in the remover and left for 15 minutes. Guess what I found when I came back.

A sticky, distorted form that used to be my mirror frame.

Shocked and pissed off that hours of scrubbing were now all for naught, I looked for clues about what went wrong. And there it was: acetone nail polish remover written plainly on the second bottle I had opened for the soaking experiment. I had been using non-acetone remover up until that point. In case there was any doubt as to whether or not acetone eats plastics, I can undoubtly tell you, yes, it does. Oops.

Marked this one off as a big, fat FAIL.

My Five: 5 Pins I Want To Try Right Now

Ah, Pinterest. We have a sticky love/self-loathe relationship (by self-loathe I mean that easy trap to fall into where you think you’re not succeeding as a parent / business person / partner / homeowner because of all these amazing things you see on Pinterest that you’re obviously not doing. By the way, it’s bologna. No one does everything well all the time. You can bet something is sacrificed.).

Nevertheless, there’s some serious creativity on Pinterest, and these are the 5 pins I want to try right now (by the way, I’d love to pin with you. Drop your username in the comments, and I’ll give you a follow! You can follow me on Pinterest under A Happy Hue.):

  1. DIY reupholstering. My grandmother, who was obsessed with French country decor, bequeathed this super sweet velvet tufted wing-back chair to me (is it really a wing-back?).
    Red velvet tufted wing-backed chair
    See what my cat left behind?

    Even though I adore its original fabric, it’s worn bare in a few places and the pet hair really clings to it. It needs to be reupholstered. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon. So, I’m dying to try my hand at it. Now that I’ve had a go at tufting (I made a tufted headboard a couple years ago, which I’m sure I’ll post about at some point), I’m much more comfortable with the idea. I’d also love to try my hand at painting an upholstered chair to give it a facelift. Yes, painting.

  2. Caulk my rugs to make them non-slip. Isn’t it genius?

    Found at
  3. Make this tent in my toddler’s room. Ok, not actually this whole stage…just the curtain. I’ve made an embroidery hoop tent for her before, but it just was sturdy enough for my liking, and it also wouldn’t suit the corner of her room I’d like it to reside in. See, I’ve recently turned one half of her closet into a playnook, and I’d like the tent to cover the entrance so it’s more like a hideaway. 
  4. Cord clean up. This pin combines two of my favorite things – tidy cords and command strips. What’s not to love?

    Found at
  5. Repurpose an old picture frame.  This is my second most popular pin (just behind a sugar cookie recipe :-P) and for good reason. The style of this particular one is way too country for my home, but I like the concept of adding a fabric and dimension. Now if only I had a spare frame in mind…
    repurposed picture frame
    Found at

    So, what are your favorite pins of the moment? Link in the comments.

If you like what you see here, consider following A Happy Hue on Instagram @ahappyhue, Pinterest, Facebook (though you’ll see less from us on Facebook).

Reveal: French Provincial Dresser Makeover

Check out these bodacious curves! Yes, bodacious.

French Provincial Before

Confession: I’m kind of addicted to room and furniture makeovers. In the seven short years I’ve lived in my house, my walls have been teal, yellow, red, tan, and grey. Only barely did they escape becoming eggplant purple (still have the cans of Blackberry Currant to prove it).

So I know how much a coat of paint can completely transform a thing, and for someone with constantly evolving taste, it’s a major budget-saver. So when I saw this small, dated french provincial dresser, I knew all it needed was a bit of TLC to restore its tres chic status.

Most of the french provincial style furniture you see today is likely from its revival period in the 1960’s. One of the top makers of french provincial furniture from that era is Henry Link, which I was surprised to discover was also the maker of this little piece. Score!

Ready for the reveal?

french provincial before and after On the surface, this gal was in fair shape, but under the hood had a few deep scratches and needed some structural and hardware repairs.

Pro tip! Before buying a piece of used furniture, don’t forget to check under the hood. Remove all of the drawers. Inspect all sides, front and back. Check exterior and interior hardware for loose or damaged spots. If the piece is against a wall, move it so you can really get a good look.
Once repairs were made and hardware removed, I prepped the surface for painting with a light sanding – just enough to remove the sheen from the Formica and smooth out sloppy rough spots in the detailing. A quick wipe down, and she was good to go for the next stage of painting.
Since this is my first piece preparing for retail, I chose a warm grey base accented with cream in the Fusion Mineral Paint line (a chalky-type paint that doesn’t require a top coat). It was my first time using it, and I really liked it (full review to come). Two smooth coats with no primer was all it took. Pretty, isn’t it?

Pro tip! To fake a continuous stroke, put your freshly dipped brush below the last place you left off and blend the new paint into the exist stroke. It’s much easier to lift the brush off wet paint without a stroke mark than it is to put the brush down on wet paint without a mark.
Now for the detailing. The bloody detailing. Unless your hands are steady as surgeons’ this task is no quick feat. Not only do you have to paint the lines evenly, but also without brush strokes so that it looks like one continuous line. I ended up using painters tape (also not easy to cut it for these sweet curved lines).
In between detailing coats, I painted the hardware the same cream-colored shade, mixing a bit of water into the paint to thin it out and keep it smooth over the ornate bits. A paint sprayer would be really helpful for this type of thing in the future!  Finally after three coats, I distressed the drawer pulls by hand sanding.

Ah, so fresh! So what do you think?
I wish I could keep it for myself!

So tell me in the comments, what color(s) or technique would you have chosen?

Mini Chalkboard giveaway

GIVEAWAY! Free Handmade Mini Chalkboard

Is this not the cutest little chalkboard?

Mini Chalkboard giveaway
Win one of these mini chalkboards, handmade by A Happy Hue.
You have no idea how hard it was for me not to keep this little gem for the gallery wall in my kitchen. Seriously, it is the perfect size and shape for an eclectic gallery wall, a stylish accent for a vignette, or as a balanced accent when used in pairs (like Him / Her signs for a bedroom or Baby A / Baby B signs for twins!).

This handmade mini chalkboard is painted in cream-colored mineral fusion paint (Limestone to be exact), with light distressing that reveals the most delicate peaks of gold. So, so cute. And the best part is you can write or draw anything your little heart desires, how often you desire. So many possibilities. And it can be all yours if you win my #followhappyhue sharathon!

Now for the details. This giveaway is all about sharing and following, and there are lots of ways to get multiple entries. You can enter this contest three ways: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Each social media platform you enter on gets you additional entries.

How To Enter

  1. Instagram
    1. follow @ahappyhue
    2. tag three friends in the comments
    3. share this post with the hashtag #followhappyhue
  2. Facebook  
    1. like us
    2. share this post with your friends – Be sure to tag A Happy Hue so we can give you credit for it
  3. Twitter 
    1. follow @ahappyhue
    2. tweet this post with the hashtag #followhappyhue

The sharathon will run for 2 weeks, at the end of which, I will draw a random winner, confirm the winner’s contact info and announce it within 48 hours of contest closing.

That’s it! Share on, friends.

Official rules and disclaimer: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are not affiliated with this sweepstakes and cannot be held responsible. You can tag new friends and share the post once per day for additional entries. Eligible contestants must be 13+ years of age and must be able to provide a continental US mailing address in order to win. By participating, you are agreeing to the contest rules. 

How To DIY Easy, Gallery-Worthy Bump Photos in 15 Minutes

Stay tuned for my upcoming giveaway by following @ahappyhue on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!

Don’t you just love a good bump photo? Every time I see another social media pregnancy announcement, I get excited for the flood of bump shots about to invade my newsfeed. First time moms, especially, are great at documenting that balloon blowin’ up.

9 Months of Bump Sillouettes
First, let me just say that I am not a great photographer. But I knew before I was even pregnant with my first child that I wanted to photograph it, and not just in a snapshot, mirror-selfie kind of way (though nothing wrong with that). I wanted to be able to hang these on my gallery walls. I wanted my daughter to see how much I loved her right from the very start. I wanted the photos to look as empowered as I felt. Simple, natural and beautiful.

1st Pregnancy Bump Series
This photo is one of the bump series I took with my first child. Lots of work.

What I didn’t realize was just how much work it would be. Or how much I wouldn’t feel like getting all dolled up. Towards the end of my pregnancy, it would sometimes take me an hour just to get dressed, made up and get a shot I didn’t feel absolutely whale-ish in.

I knew better the second time around.

Sillouette Bump Pic
One photo in the series of sillouettes I took with my second child. Took 15 minutes each month to pull off. So worth it.

Aren’t maternity silhouettes beautiful? They put the focus right where it should be – the bump. Plus, these shots are sooo forgiving, from both a photography and vanity standpoint.

  • No makeup
  • No clothes, except whatever will give you the shape you’re going for (think sports bra, leggings, flowy night gown or dress)
  • No worries about “moon face” or showing off those new love handles you’re sportin’

Don’t believe me? For comparison, here are both photos from my 38th week of pregnancy for my first child and my second child. I’m 25 pounds heavier in the silhouette. Trust me, it was not all baby.

Can’t tell, right? So, here’s what you’ll need to recreate this shot in 15 minutes or less:

  1. A camera. I used my iPhone.
  2. A tripod or something tall enough to take a shot straight from about eye level. I used my step-ladder with a tool tray.
  3. Camera timer. I used the Camera+ app, which is also what I used as a…
  4. Black and white or monochromatic filter. I LOVE the Ansel filter on the Camera+ app (for those of you who follow me on Instagram, you know I use this filter a lot).

First, set up your shot. The key to this silhouette is finding a brightly backlit area. For me, this was in front of a bedroom window that gets direct sunlight all day. It also happens to have white semi-sheer curtains I could pull shut for a smooth, fully lit background.

Next, set up your camera on the tripod or makeshift camera stand and adjust the angle and frame. Most camera phones have an autofocus that also adjusts lighting. Play around with the focal point, putting it on lighter and darker areas of the shot, to see how it affects how much detail is visible in your silhouette.

Then set up your camera timer to at least 15 seconds. I found this was just the right amount of time to start the camera timer, run over to the window, pose and take the picture.

Now say cheese! Or don’t. You may have to take a few at first to get the pose and lighting right. Once you have the shot you want, apply the filter to polish it off. Voila. Frame-worthy bump art.

Upcycled Hutch Becomes Beautiful Storage Bench

You may not know it by looking at my house right now, but I despise clutter. Even though my floors are currently strewn with toys, crayons, shoes and kids clothes (the toddler is awake afterall), there is a special place in my heart for minimalist living. It’s head-clearing. It’s peaceful. It’s beautiful.

That said, it’s easy to pollute the beauty of minimalism with wastefulness. This is especially true for DIYers because we see the ordinary and unused, and we reimagine it as extraordinary and purposeful! Not to be confused with sentimentality, the idea of holding onto things to repurpose them can be a huge money saver. It’s green. It’s good…to an extent. So, I’m constantly finding a balance between upcycling what I can, donating what I can’t (or don’t have time to), and trashing only what I must.

I thought this hutch was the latter.

It came from a desk I purchased years ago when I began working remotely. It was a bad purchase: cheaply made laminated press board. My husband and I ended up removing the hutch, and I kept it because it had a nice shape, and I envisioned it being repurposed as a wall shelf for my outdoor herbs and succulents. But, when it became clear there was no way to make pressboard sustainable outdoors (duh!),  I got it ready to go to the dump.

And then it hit me. It wasn’t destined to be a wall shelf. It was a bench — a storage bench!

To transform this hutch into a storage bench it needed:

  • a new back (the original was a thin, torn piece of cardboard)
  • a base
  • legs, and
  • a couple coats of paint

Since I was working with laminate pressboard, there was a real possibility that this would end up in the failed pile. So I didn’t want to spend a lot of dough. With two kids under two in tow (say that three times fast), I headed to my neighborhood Lowes and bought:

  • 1/4″ plywood for the back, cut to size
  • 1″ pine for the base, cut to size
  • tapered pine legs with accompanying hardware kits
  • 2 yards of fabric (technically, I actually made a late night, kid-free trip to Walmart for this)

Supplies gathered, my work began, but I ran into a couple of  snags. Even though I predrilled holes to screw on the pine base, I still managed to do this:

Just one of the perils of working with pressboard. To repair the damage, I used a combination of wood filler and wood glue. Then I sanded it back down, though it was nowhere close to perfect. It wasn’t too obvious, though, and it would hold a coat of paint.

Speaking of paint, that was the other hiccup. In case you haven’t heard, one of the best properties of chalk paint is that it works on nearly any surface without sanding. Well, folks, I’m here to tell you that wood laminate is one of the only surfaces chalk paint will not adhere to properly. Rookie mistake. It took me hours longer than it should have to paint this piece because I had to add layer upon layer attempting to cover up the gaps and streaks. Thankfully, it adds an aged effect.

Yikes. But now we both know.

I’m really pleased with the end result despite its imperfections. The fabric back really makes it pop, and it’s the perfect size for my toddler’s room. So glad I didn’t give up on this cute little hutch remixed.

Time, Materials, Cost

  • plywood – $8
  • Pine, legs and hardware – $30
  • 2 yards of fabric – $8

In addition to the materials above, I also used:

  • leftover CeCe Caldwell chalk paint (from this project) in Destin Gulf Green,
  • leftover CeCe Caldwell wax,
  • an assortment of wood screws from my existing stockpile,
  • power drill, various drill bits and screw heads,
  • hammer,
  • sand paper (fine),
  • Wood filler and wood glue
  • mod podge, and
  • tacks that held the original cardboard backing

Difficulty: moderate

Time: 7 hours (I estimate about 2 hours longer than necessary due to complications)

Fast Hacks Friday: Throw Blankets As Toddler Bedding

Did you know a 50″x60″ throw blanket makes the perfectly sized comforter for a toddler bed?

clara's bedding Mind blown, right?

You’re probably already dreaming about sifting through the luxurious, throws-of-many-colors at HomeGoods. The options for your Little’s nest just got a lot bigger, softer, and easier to pair with your existing decor. 

Don’t you just want to curl up on here?

As with many kids, Clara, my two-year-old is really into textures. So when I recently updated her nursery to toddler room I knew her big girl bed needed cozy, strokable bedding to match. She now has it. And just about every other day as she climbs in for a nap or bedtime she’ll burrow into her furry bedding and whisper, “soooooff.”

What’s more, this throw cost $14.99. Heckuva lot cheaper than those seizure-inducing character comforters and adorable but pricey Land of Nod / Pottery Barn Kids-type bedding sets.

Happy hacking!

Product Review: Truly’s Natural Deodorant

I know I’ve stuck to DIY topics thus far, but if any of you have checked out my about page, you may have noticed I mention health topics and product reviews as part of my repertoire.

I didn’t expect to have a product to review already, but you guys. Truly’s Natural Deodorant is the shiz. I first heard about Truly’s from my friend over at Crunchy Farm Baby, and she didn’t steer me wrong. 

 Rest assured, the number of personal care and beauty products I’ve felt compelled to write a review about are extremely limited. The state of both of those industries in terms of transparency, honesty, effectiveness and health is abysmal at best. At times, it’s led me to DIY and hack my own personal care products, such as face wash, moisturizer, acne treatment and yes, even deodorant.

I’m not here to talk about the possible health hazards of modern antiperspirants and deodorants (just ask Dr. Google) , but I do want to talk about their ineffectiveness.

  Ever notice how you still sweat despite promises of “12 hour wetness protection”? Yeah, me too. This is due, in part, to the fact that our bodies are designed to sweat. It’s actually good for you, nay, necessary to rid your body of toxins and to keep you cool. And by clogging up your sweat glands with aluminum in antiperspirants (yes, that’s actually what’s happening), your body over compensates by producing more sweat, much like washing your hair too much will cause an over-production of oil (and an endless cycle of more washing leading to more oiliness). Some people are blessed with barely glistening bodies even after a hard workout. Not me. More than that, I still had issues with, err, eau de funk.

So am I just cursed with mutant genes, no match for any modern anti-sweat, anti-stink products?

No, most deodorants just suck.

Enter Truly’s, a 100% natural cream deodorant. After two weeks of use:

  • I’m sweating far less than I ever did using Secret Clinical Strength.
  • On average, I can go 1.5-2 days before I start smelling. Seriously.

Do you really need to hear more? Other notes:

  • It doesn’t leave that gummy film on my clothes, even after washing.
  • It’s a cream, so you do have to apply it with your fingers.
  • It’s odorless with just a sugary hint of coconut (because it’s made with coconut oil and powdered sugar)
  • I did have a couple days of mild irritation (the baking soda can be abrasive to people, like me, with super sensitive skin. However, they do make a milder version, which I plan to try next).
  • You only need a pea-sized amount on each arm, so it should last a long time.
  • Find it on Amazon for $13, shipped.

All in all, its very minor flaws are totally acceptable to me because it works so damn well. Five stars.

How to Make an Entire Room’s Worth of Wall Decor for Less Than $35: Part 2 of Lottie’s Nursery Reveal

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Just picking up where I left off in A Perfectly Pretty Turquoise, Yellow and Pink Nursery

Guess how much I spent on all this wall art?

Wall Decor Collage
$31. Seriously.

Once I settled on this lovely color palette from ColorWorld as the inspiration for Lottie’s nursery, the least expensive choice for the perfect wall art was to make it myself. With such a tight budget (less than $150 for the entire nursery, not just the wall decor) the task was a bit daunting. It’s one thing to need a single piece of wall art (find a rad printable and cute frame); it’s another to need an entire room’s worth.

So I hope by sharing my process, you feel inspired to take on the upcycled wall art challenge yourself:

Step 1) Settle on a source of inspiration, something to help narrow your focus and fuel your creativity.  Resist the urge to get too specific at this point. It can cripple your imagination when you’re sifting through you options for free or inexpensive materials. I landed on birds. They suit her chirpy personality and constant cooing, and thankfully for me they are also relatively easy to draw and cut out.

Step 2) Gather the raw materials. I actually love this part of the process because I get to imagine all my existing stuff reincarnated in a fun, fresh way. Check your closets and garage for inspiring items: frames, wood scraps, fabric scraps, crafting supplies, odds and ends — anything that could be tweaked or painted or given a new purpose, breathing new life into it. Also, take note of the tools at your disposal. During my sifting process, I gathered:

  • a thrifted empty white wooden picture frame
  • a plain black nine-photo picture frame from my closet
  • two brown unused walls shelves found in my garage
  • a small piece of unused wall art I hadn’t been able to sell on craigslist
  • jute twine from my crafting supplies
  • fabric scraps
  • a 8″x10″ canvas leftover from my toddler’s painting party
  • my staple gun
  • mod podge from my crafting supplies
  • tiny clothes pins leftover from my toddler’s first birthday party
  • fallen branches from a maple tree outside my house (I just thought they looked cool)

Step 3) Get creative…or borrow someone else’s creative genius. Pinterest is your best friend here. One simple search for “repurposed picture frame” produces a plethora of ideas. I was largely inspired during step two, so I took to Pinterest to flesh out some of my ideas and came across this birds-on-a-string DIY from Julie’s Jotter as well as this refreshingly simple paper bird mobile craft from Martha Stewart. Note: you will likely go back and forth between step 2 and step 3 as you come across new inspiration.

Step 4) Fill in the holes. Figure out what you’re missing to complete your projects, and go get it! I ended up only needing one small fabric bundle and some craft paper.

Step 5) Get to craftin’! The thing about DIY projects is that they do take time. Some are faster than others, but if you whittle away at it a bit during your free time, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

When it was all said and done, I had:

  • two wall shelves, painted white
  • one fabric birds-on-a-string frame
  • one paper bird mobile
  • one multicolored fabric scrap framed picture
  • one bird’s nest art
  • one small, unframed mod podged fabric bird art
  • the sampler with the frame repainted to match the color palette

Time, materials, cost:

In addition to the list of materials I listed in step 2, I also purchased:

  • one extra can of white spray paint, Walmart, ($6)
  • one 10 pack of small quilting fabric pieces, Walmart, ($10)
  • one multipack of craft paper, Target ($15)
  • Time (this is where it costs you): 20+ hours, spread out over a 1.5-2 week period

If you’ve got the time, imagine what projects you could complete using stuff you already have laying around the house?

In my final post about this nursery, I’ll briefly delve into the how-to for each project (hello, mod podge!)

A Super Simple Solution for All Those Hair Clips and Bows

Parents of little girls, what do you do with all those little hair clips and bows? Before they’re even born, the collection begins. I think they’re like those teeny tiny baby shoes, irresistible to passers by, and between showers, grandparents and friends, you end up with at least three bows for every outfit.

At first I put them in a pretty glass bowl, but that led to pairs getting separated and made a rats nest when trying to find just the right one – not practical when it’s a wrestling match just to get the wee ones in and out of a onesie. So, I started keeping an eye out for something I could clip them to. That’s when luck met opportunity in one of my favorite area thrift stores.

Voila! Enter the french memo board. Isn’t it perfect?

Typically, I’d rather make a simple item like this rather than pay $15-$30 for one that’s functional but not particularly special. However, this one was a score for three dollars. I love that pairs stay together neatly.

Since I bought this over a year ago when Clara, my oldest, was still a baby, I hung it out of her reach by the dresser. But once she shows any interest in picking out her own clothes, I’ll simply reposition it with a command strip so that she can reach. Simple as that.

Assuming I don’t find a deal on a second memo board, I’ll be making my own in the near future.

Up Next: Part Two in my DIYed Turquoise, Yellow and Pink Nursery series – Wall Art!