Tray Matchbox Car Organizer – DIY Monthly Challenge

Howdy, folks!  It’s that time again for our…. (cue announcer voice) MONTHLY DIY CHALLENGE!!! (challengechallenge) <- echo.

updated January challenge picture

For any newbies, this is a challenge that several awesome bloggy friends and I team up for each month.  The rules are simple… we’re assigned an item and must make something with it.   Easy peasy.   This month’s theme was to use baskets, boxes, or bins for an organizing project.

Like most months, it took me a while to pin-point exactly what I wanted to create for my project.   I hemmed and hawed, and finally one day last week, I remembered these fantastic metal trays that I’d purchased from Target a few months back…

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….. for (drum roll please)…

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$2.98 a pop!!  I pretty much did the happy-dance right there by the clearance end-cap when I found them.   And then proceeded to possessively shove all remaining trays into my cart and make for the hills.   I took six of these babies home that day.  SIX!!   Two are currently residing in various parts of the house, but I still had these four little guys to find homes for.

Now, I’ll be honest… When it comes to organizing, I dub our home’s progress as “sub-par”.    We’ve been so busy working on larger projects since moving in 2.5 months ago that organization has sort of fallen to the wayside.  There isn’t a single space in this house that has reached the point of organization.   It’ll definitely get there once all the larger players are in place (painted walls, larger decor pieces, etc), but for now… well, suffice it to say that I had my fill of choices as to where to utilize my kick-bootie trays.

Ultimately, Lucas’s room won out, though.   His space is the closest to complete (though definitely not there yet).  The more finished a space is, the easier it is for me to visualize and create useful storage solutions that make sense.  Plus, he has a lot of toys.  Most of which are piled in the closet. And drive me crazy every time I walk in there. Thus, I decided to tackle the beast one Matchbox car at a time.

Ya see, my light bulb moment occurred when I realized that my trays were the perfect depth to serve as matchbox car shelves if I were to simply mount them to the wall.  Having my project decision finally made, I completed yet another happy-dance and got going.

Upon examination, I realized that my trays had a raised ridge along the back, which made hanging difficult.   After mulling over a solution, I decided that the best course of action was to hot glue several layers of heavy-duty cardboard…

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…to the back of the trays to create a little “plateau” that would be even with the ridge…

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These would act as mounting blocks for some Command picture hanging strips…

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 Next, I needed to determine placement for my trays, so I created templates by tracing the trays onto brown paper…

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I cut them out and adhered them to the wall with tape (as is demonstrated by this fantastically crummy picture)…

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I played around with placement and once I was satisfied, I marked the location of my templates with a pencil.  Then, I made a more precise vertical line along one side with a level.   This was my guide to ensure that my trays were stacked exactly above one another (P.S. I erased it later)…

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The rest was as simple as following the instructions on the back of the Command box and adhering my trays the wall…

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Next, I decided to add a little more color and function to fill the spot to the left of the trays.   I simply hung this neat orange hook (also found on clearance for $1.78) next to my trays for some hanging storage…

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I added Lucas’s matchbox cars, aaaaaand here’s the final product…

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And the corner of the room, complete with his Ninja Turtle bulls-eye game…

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And a farther shot of this side of his room with the new addition…

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There’s still WAY more to come on these walls, but hey… progress is progress. And I’m totally content with progress. I still need to add art above the head of his bed (and possibly shift that bicycle print down a bit) as well as incorporate a few other decorative elements to help tie everything together.  In any case, though, I really have to thank my bloggy friends for this one.   Honestly, I’m not sure I would’ve thought to create this if I hadn’t been pushed to do so with this challenge.   And I LOOOOVE it.  And so does Lucas.  He was so excited when he saw it.  He immediately began rearranging the cars and has been playing with them much more frequently now that they’re in plain sight.  Total Win-Win if you ask me.

So, with that, I give you the lovely projects created by my fellow bloggers.  Do yourself a favor and check them out!

TDC Before and After

How to escape decorating paralysis (Aka: our mudroom is prettier now)

Making decor decisions can be a daunting task, even for the most DIY-driven. I hope that by now, most of my readers know that deciding on decor is not an overnight thing for me. I mean, I’m definitely no expert.   Decorating in my world happens little by little, one project driving the next decision, and so on and so forth.  When it comes to making decisions like these and learning about home decor, it’s been exceedingly helpful for me to observe other peoples’ thought processes.  What drives them and how they look at things.  The small steps they take to turn blankness into beauty.  So, I thought that instead of doing a normal before/after type of post like I normally would, it may be fun to break down my laundry/mudroom progress in a more detailed way.  How I’ve been making those decisions.  Step by step. To the end(ish).   Just on the off-chance that this might help someone else to break out of that decorating paralysis.

So, let’s start with how we left the laundry/mudroom.  Last we spoke about it, I had just cleaned and organized the space…

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Though, I was thrilled to have the space clean, I wasn’t a fan of the multitude of brown tones in the baskets, thus, I wanted to change up the decor. My one challenge was that I needed to use what I already had. No new purchases. I had to make do with the current basket situation.

Honestly, I stared at this space A LOT. Indecisive. Unsure of how to proceed. I’d walk in.  Stare.  And walk out none the wiser.  After weeks of this, I finally reached a point where I said “Okay, Christina. JUST DO SOMETHING.”.

Even though I hadn’t figured out everything I wanted to do, one thing I DID know was that the basket on the middle shelf needed to change.  He was the odd man out on the brown-tone spectrum. The baskets on the bottom shelf coordinated with each other as did the ones on the top.  So, out with the middle-man.

I decided to use my DIY pear art as inspiration and painted the basket with the same green paint as the pears (it’s an oops paint which I purchased on clearance).  Which left this….

Loved the pop of color.   And decided that I was on the right track, though the scale of the baskets on the bottom shelf felt off, so I swapped them.  Then, I decided to add some functional art.  That bottom shelf was just screaming for some variety and a nice, simple frame seemed appealing to me.

I’d been eyeing those laundry symbol cheat sheets on Pinterest for some time, and thought that a nice, framed version would be just the ticket.  I dug through my stash of misfit frames and came up with this guy….

Obviously… he was brown.  Ugh.  More brown.  Thus, he needed to be painted, but I was unsure what color to paint him.  While I marinated on that, I chose to add some green to the lower left basket.  So, I added stripes…

Hmmm… Okay, okay…  It was okay.  I wasn’t jumping for joy, but I wasn’t completely offended either.   So, I decided to sit on that while I tackled the frame.   I still had no clue what color to paint it, but figured that I’d never gone wrong with white before. And if I hated white, it would simply act as primer for my next color. Win-win.  So, white it was.  I printed out this printable on plain ole’ computer paper…

…set it on the shelf, and moved the white vase to the other side of the middle basket to help balance out the lighter tones throughout the space…

Loved the art, but not the placement.  So, I hung it on the wall..

Much better.   But now, I felt that lightness was lacking on the striped basket. So, I painted the trim and handles white…

Ugh. No. NONONONO.

Just. No.

Upon placing it back on the shelf, I realized that I’d inadvertently transformed my basket into a Kardashian. He was trying just a bit too hard to get attention.  So, I did what any decent person would do.  I apologized to my basket and painted the white trim green.  Then, I flipped it around to the non-stripey side and added a faux sage plant in a galvanized bucket…

Better.  Much better.  Now we’re getting somewhere.

At this point, I felt I was making some progress, but that lower basket on the right was still bugging me with its brownness.   So, I busted out some leftover fabric from my Target-inspired bench.

Problem??

I only had scraps.

But, have no fear… this was a job for (insert announcer voice) Iron-On Hem Tape…

I simply ironed a nice finished edge on the bottom and any sides that would be visible…

And used the hem tape to connect the scraps…

…to basically form a loop of fabric.

…Which would then be inserted into my basket to create a nice, patterned top border.   Essentially, I’d created a dickey for my basket.  Howard Wolowitz would be proud.

I simply folded the finished edge of my fabric over the top of my basket and secured the inner corners with straight pins…

Which left this…

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If you had a longer strip of fabric, you would only need to bond the fabric in one place to form a loop.   Super easy.

Here’s where the laundry/mudroom stands now…

And just so you don’t have to scroll back up, here’s a little before and after…

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It’s so much brighter and MUCH less brown.  Woo-hoo!   Lucas LOVES it.  He walked in there and exclaimed “Did you do this ALL BY YOURSELF??!!”  and “Is so prerry!!”.   Love that kid.

So, seriously, if you’re ever cursed with the dreaded decorating paralysis, my motto is: JUST DO SOMETHING.

What something, you ask? Here are a few ideas to get the wheels turning…

1. Start with a clean slate. I didn’t include this step this time because I’d already done it previously, but clear the area of all things. Then start fresh in putting things back. You never know what ideas may come once you have a blank space to work with.

2.  Collect ANY item you may want to use and set them all in one place.  Basically, shop out of your stuff.   Having everything at arms reach might inspire ideas that you may not have had otherwise.

3. Move stuff around. Play. Experiment. Utilize different placements to see what speaks to you. This not only applies to shelves, but to rooms. Time and time again, I’ve been at an utter loss for what to do with a space, then I simply rearrange some furniture and suddenly, IT’S ON. And I know exactly what to do. In fact, I had this exact issue with both our living room and Lucas’s room. You can read about both of those struggles and the end results here and here.

4. Paint things.  You can always paint them back later if you don’t like them. It’s a simple and free/cheap way to reuse stuff you already have, but make them shine in a whole new way. Another take on this concept is adding ribbon, fabric, or otherwise embellishing items to make them better suit a space.

Basically, the point is to just do something to get the ball rolling until you reach a point where you like what you see.   You never know what little tweak might trigger the inspiration to start flowing.

And, I’ll be honest… these shelves still aren’t exactly where I want them.  I’d like to do something with those top baskets, as well.  Or possibly change them out for something that seems a little lighter visually. I’m still tossing that around. In fact, I’ll probably be noodling with these shelves for quite a bit until I reach my own little happy place.   But, at least now I’m WAY closer than I was when I started.   And that’s something in itself.  Progress… such a sweet, sweet word.  Even if there were a few hiccups along the way (*coughcough*stripedbasket!).   But, hey, that’s the beauty of paint (and Craigslist… people will buy anything. Heehee!).

So, how do you overcome decorating paralysis? Any decor noodling going on in your neck of the woods?

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Linked up at: Houseologie, Brepurposed, Anything & Everything, Home Stories A to Z, Lines Across, Sugar Bee Crafts, Home Coming, Tatertots & Jello, I Heart Organizing

The DIY Dreamer
TDC Before and After