Up-cycled Radio Shell Wedding Card Box

Ok ladies. How many of you have things that have been sitting in your garage for months (or years…ahem) that you keep meaning to get around to but are maybe also slightly intimidated by?

My hand is in the air right along with you. I’ve been toting this rusty, busted up radio to shows with me all summer (and listening to my husband tell me to trash it every time he saw it or moved it). I pulled it out of an old house in Utica when Charlotte was a baby, and my ideas for it have gone through several revisions in my head.

Until Christina needed a card box for her wedding last month, however, I had no motivation to actually get it finished. And, of course, I waited until basically the last minute (the Monday before the event) to get it done. I took plenty of photos along the way, because there was no way that I wasn’t sharing this major triumph with all of you.

Here’s my vintage radio shell upcycled into an adorable wedding or shower card box:

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This piece was disgusting. I’m talking it was caked in several layers of grime. The house where I found it had been basically abandoned for twenty years, and everything in it was really, really dirty. I’m pretty sure that there were various animals living in it when the grandson finally got around to cleaning the house out and putting it up for sale.

Most of the radio’s guts were long gone, and what was left was really rusty and basically impossible to salvage. To be honest, when I saw this thing laying in the front yard of that Utica house, I probably should have just left it there, but I was drawn to the shape and the details on the front—there’s just something so romantic about an old radio to me. So I tossed it in my van and saved it from being trashed.

Fast forward three years.

The first thing I did was spray it down with the hose to wash the first layer away of dirt away. I still ended up with several rounds of super dirty rags before it approached some semblance of being clean.

I used my jigsaw with a metal blade to get rid of the guts of the radio before the final wipe down.

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There were obviously some sharp edges left over, but the screws holding this metal ring in place were still there, which made a future step much easier than I thought it would be–more on that later. I left the sharp edges for now, since I wasn’t messing around inside the radio much. I figured I’d sand them down a bit later, or else tape over them if they seemed too threatening.

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I had to glue a few of the little pieces back on, and then I gave it a few coats of Rethunk Junk in Cotton. I know what you’re thinking—no Annie Sloan? Girls, I’m loving Rethunk Junk right now for certain pieces, and this was one of them. I also used this paint on my newly redone kitchen table and some of my chairs, and I love the cleaning product, paint and sealer, especially for a piece like my table, which gets a lot of traffic every day.

With Annie Sloan, I really feel like these old pieces with the deteriorating finish are going to bleed really bad through lighter color paints like Old White, but the prep product for Rethunk Junk seems to sear all of that stuff away pretty well. There is a small brown spot on the front of the radio that came through the paint, but I distressed it in that area and it doesn’t really show up super dark. I might do a compare and contrast post for these two paints at some point in the future, because there is a lot more that I want to say, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

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For the card slot, I drilled a hole in the top of the radio and then used my jigsaw again to cut a rectangular hole across the top of one side. What the photos don’t show is that, like a dummy, I did this while the paint was still wet on the other side of the box…yeah, that’s right. I’m a total spaz. I would just say that I was so excited to finally be putting this together that I just couldn’t help myself, but really, it’s probably that I just wasn’t thinking. At all.

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I used my jigsaw to cut a piece of wood for the back, and then cut that piece into three pieces for the top, the side, and the door.

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Remember how I said that the little metal ring on the inside still had the screws in it, and how they weren’t rusted past recognition? That made it super easy to remove the bits of old fabric that were still hanging on around the edge of the speaker, cut a little circle of this vintage lace that I’ve also had for years, and then put the metal circle right back over it to hold the new fabric in place.

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Now that it’s over, I have no idea why this project was so intimidating to me. It could be that I didn’t really have much to go off of when I was putting this together–I couldn’t really find a tutorial or a photo for inspiration anywhere, like I often do when I’m up-cycling or building a piece for a customer.

I was surprised at how smoothly the whole thing went, too–I didn’t really hit a snag like I often do with other projects, and the metal ring made what I thought would be the hardest part into what was actually the easiest part.

The card box fit in perfectly with the rest of the decor–it was even more adorable than I thought it would be. The last thing I did was use my Cricut to make a Kraft paper and twine “cards” banner for the front of it.

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I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the box now that the wedding is over. I halfway want to keep it, but honestly, what am I going to use it for? The occasional wedding? Every party that I ever throw from now on? My practical mind is telling me that I should just list it in my Etsy shop and let it go, but my emotional mind is telling me that I’ve held on to it this long, and worked so hard on it, and that I’ll probably use it again someday…

Decisions, decisions.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me about that project that you had (or have) sitting around for years before you finally got around to it. Why did you wait so long? How did it turn out? Was it easier or harder than you imagined? Did you do it for yourself, or for someone else, and do you still have it today?

Thanks for reading!

Talk soon,

Jess

 

 

Christina’s October Barn Wedding

I’m going to let everyone in on another secret. I love weddings! Everything about them. The food, the dancing, the getting to see friends and family, the celebration of love, the kids running around—and family weddings are my absolute favorite. Since I started dating Dan, it seems like we’ve been to a bazillion weddings (there are almost 30 first cousins), and every one of them has been perfect.

Christina’s wedding was especially perfect because I got to be along for most of the planning and preparation ride—she basically gave me her wish list, a small budget, and creative license to handle the entire venue set up. Her wedding board was full of ideas for the reception she planned at an awesome barn venue on the other side of the state, and from the minute I saw it I knew it would be a favorite fall project, and I couldn’t wait to get started.

July was wine bottle month—I had them soaking in my driveway, drying in the sun on my deck, scattered across the kitchen in various states of first coat, second coat, and wax, and then packed into bins to be taken back to Paw Paw intermittently throughout the summer.

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Christina’s colors were pink, white, and gray, and I did all the wine bottles (95 to be exact) in those colors using some Annie Sloan Old White and some leftover Wise Owl chalk paint I had in Petal and Gray Linen. It took two coats of paint to get the bottles fully covered. I probably didn’t have to wax them, but I wanted them to be as durable as possible, especially since we were transporting them back and forth across the state, so I figured the wax wouldn’t hurt, and it would have time to cure over the summer so that we could keep the paint chipping to a minimum (though Chrissy said she didn’t mind the shabby look).

After several thoughts about the base of the centerpiece, we decided to go with simple barn wood squares and slabs to tie in with the venue and keep everything unified (we debated using vintage mirrored trays, wood slices, and fabric squares, but the barn wood went best with the rest of the décor).

Once the wine bottles were well underway, I started to work on the guest book idea. Christina wanted an alternative to the traditional guest book in the form of an art piece that she could hang in her living room or master bedroom. Since her husband has two children, she didn’t want to leave them out by doing a piece that featured only her and Jabin, so she opted to have me do a piece that featured their family’s last initial. Again, I used ideas that she pinned to her board or sent me on Facebook (we had to communicate a lot that way since we are 2.5 hours apart!). A lot of the ideas we saw had a dark wood stain—I suggested going with a gray wash since that would work better with the color scheme of the wedding and the color palette in her house. I used a gray Minwax stain, a 28” x 28” piece of pine, and cutouts of the letter “Q” and hearts to get the design right before I started painting.

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These are the little things I work on at night when I’m watching TV with Dan. It’s pretty bad…I almost can’t just sit on the couch without having something to do with my hands, unless it’s a brand new episode of Game of Thrones, or a crucial play in a Patriots game. Everything else we watch, I have to multitask during.

I took advantage of a sale and a 20% purchase coupon at Joann’s to buy a ton of wood slices for the table numbers, then painted them with chalkboard paint and drew all the numbers on them ahead of time, since I wanted to save as much time as I could ahead of the actual wedding day.

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Christina also needed a card box, so I transformed this radio shell that I’ve had sitting around my garage for about a million years (I’m really into hyperbole in this post, I guess). I’m going to do a whole post about this project, so I’ll just do a quick before and after photo for you here, and you can look for the detailed post later this month. This was a project that I’d had in my head for about as long as I’d had the radio–I just needed the perfect excuse to work on it!

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The rest of what I used was all things I had sitting around my garage—crates, barrels, chalkboard signs, an old ladder—basically, anything rustic and barn-y looking that I had I crammed into the back of my van the morning we set out for the hotel. I also brought along the elements that I needed for Beth’s baby shower as well, since that was happening that night (Friday). Another thing about having a big family is that there are always a bunch of things going on at once–I can’t remember a year where there hasn’t been at least one baby or one wedding, though there are usually both, and multiples of each, and so we often celebrate multiple occasions when we get together. Beth’s baby shower was an adorable woodland theme–I’ll have a post up about that event soon, too!

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Friday night after the shower we spent a few hours getting the flowers ready—boutonnieres for all of the groomsmen, baby’s breath bouquets for the girls, and roses and baby’s breath for Christina. We also made a little bouquet for their daughter, Taylor. I had fun doing the bouquets, but I won’t claim to be an expert, and I didn’t take any photos of the process, shockingly enough….the only other time I’ve done bouquets was for my sister’s wedding a few years ago, so I felt a little bit rusty. The last one was probably the most beautiful…I always feel like my first few tries are a bit of a train wreck.

We only had a few hours to prep at the barn, so I brought along as many aunts and cousins as I could find, and Christina sent a few friends to help as well. The venue, MillCreek Wilde was a little smaller than I had pictured, since I’d only seen it in the photos on their website, and as we were unloading, I was trying to mentally check off all the things that I’d brought and sort out what we needed and what we wouldn’t have room for.

**While you’re over on their website, because you know you clicked that link, can we just take a moment to gush over the bridal studio? When I walked in there before all the girls arrived, I was like, whoa. Amazing. I want that exact thing in my backyard. I would spend all my time in there. Give it to me now.

The biggest thing was prepping the tables, so we started there. Tablecloths were steamed, barn wood was set, wine bottles with baby’s breath were placed, and table numbers were assigned according to the seating chart.

Christina and her mom, Carol, did this really cool thing along one wall of the reception area where they had us hang all the wedding photos of all the family members that they could get their hands on—just the couples, and it was really sweet. With such a huge family, they had no problem covering the wall with the photos, and it was one of the biggest things that guests commented on—they’d never seen anyone do that before and it was a really special thing to see.

One of the biggest challenges of the day was the head table. I’d brought a bunch of mismatched linens with me, along with bunting and little cheese boxes and a cute DIY’ed Mr. and Mrs. banner, but, because of the weather, the ceremony was moved indoors, which meant that the reception area was also the ceremony area and the head table couldn’t be put together until AFTER the ceremony—about a half an hour before the dinner would be served (which also means that I didn’t get a good photo of the head table, so don’t be surprised when you don’t see it).

Luckily, the head table was made up of four or five rustic farmhouse style tables that were stained dark and whitewashed slightly, and they didn’t really need a lot of dressing up. After the ceremony, I threw the biggest lace tablecloth that I have (it used to belong to my grandmother) over the center of the table on a diagonal, pinned the banner across the front, and then scattered my rose and baby’s breath chees boxes along the front, using the bridesmaid’s bouquets to add a little more interest here and there.

We ended up having about a million extra wine bottles, so I used them everywhere I could—I stuck them in the bathroom, along the stage by the dance floor, by the windows, on the dessert tables—all the extra ones really helped tie the whole thing together. By far, I’d spent the most time getting all those bottles ready, so I was going to use them all!!

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Weddings are the best, don’t you agree?

Talk soon,

Jess

 

Christina’s Rustic Summer Bridal Shower

Hey everyone! Today I’m sharing a bridal shower that I styled last month for Dan’s cousin Christina, who is getting married in October (be sure to stay tuned for the post on her wedding preparations—it’s going to be a beautiful event!).

Dan’s mother and step-father have a lovely vacation home in Bellaire, MI, and we have at least two big family gatherings there every year, one in August and one over the break between Christmas and New Year’s. Dan has a huge family, and there is almost always a new baby or a new wedding every year—when we are all together, we try to have showers and celebrations for these events as much as we can, so we planned Christina’s shower for the first Saturday in August, at the end of our first big family trip of the year.

One of the things that I love about Dan’s family is that, as big as they are, they make a huge priority out of getting together for these types of events as much as possible. We’ve never had an event like this with less than twenty family members, and this summer we had close to thirty here. Even some of our extended family made the trip.

I had just finished doing Sterlingfest the day before we left Rochester to come to Bellaire, and I didn’t think to bring any of my décor pieces with me for the shower decorations. I had to come up with a good plan kind of on the fly, which was actually really fun. I love visiting the thrift stores all around northwest Michigan, and I found some awesome treasures and one great new store (more on that later) as I was hunting for things for the shower.

Because it was late summer and Christina is having a rustic barn wedding anyway, I pretty much immediately decided to use wildflowers for the centerpieces. This meant I needed little vessels for the centerpieces instead of big vases. I started my hunt close to home, at the Nifty Thrifty in Bellaire. I found a small white creamer and a few medicine bottles, and that became my inspiration for the centerpieces.

Dan and I drove over to Gaylord the next day for a little lunch date and some more hunting, and we found several more medicine bottles in the half off tent outside The Resale Store, and then a few more tiny white creamers inside. I also bought a nice chair there for only $2:

The Gaylord Salvation Army was a bust that day, but I love the Habitat for Humanity ReStore there, and even though I didn’t count on finding anything for the shower, I scored this amazing headboard and footboard there for my newfound bed bench obsession:

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Hobby Lobby supplied tiny bags and Thank You tags for the luxury soap favors that I found at Mrs. B’s, as well as a little chalkboard sign for the favor table and some burlap for runners. I splurged and bought some pre-cut linen hearts as well, to sprinkle over the runners.

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The next morning I drove over to Mancelona to check two thrift stores there. The first was the Mancelona Food Pantry and Resale, where I found a couple of bottles, some small milk glass vases, and a vintage gossip bench, which was my first of the summer and something that I’ve been dying to find this year.

I love this particular shop because their prices are amazing. I spent $0.40 on a set of eight glass tea light holders for the table, so, basically nothing. The gossip bench was only $15.00, which was also a great deal. The only other time I’ve found one that inexpensive was at a random garage sale in Armada on the way to my brother’s wedding rehearsal five years ago. It was pretty special. I may have done a happy dance.

The second store was on my way back to Bellaire, the Community Lighthouse. This one is hit or miss for me, but I did find a few more bottles and a small white bud vase (that was later broken by a stray soccer ball before I got to use it–these things happen in a house full of happy cousins), so this time was a success.

Here’s my array of tiny glassware for wildflower centerpieces.

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I wasn’t completely happy with the burlap runner idea because I felt like it was too predictable, but with limited options for creating something awesome (I had no access to a sewing machine or hot glue gun), I broke down and bought a little roll of it. What I was really hoping to find was some chippy painted barn wood or rustic wood slices.

Enter Deer Creek Junk, my new junk store find of the year.

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It was one of the best salvage stores I’ve ever been to, and there were so many cool pieces and different ideas and inspiration I got from walking around. I’ll definitely head back there before long. I had to limit myself to what I would buy for the shower, and I ended up just grabbing some wood slices and three letterpress Q’s, since Christina’s new last name will be “Quick.” I wasn’t sure exactly what I would do with them, but I thought they would be cool.

I still feel like the wood slices were a bit predictable, but at least they aren’t as ubiquitous as the burlap.

Every time I felt like I was done shopping for the shower, I managed to find one more cool piece that I couldn’t resist buying. I justified the wood slices by telling myself that I’d also use them at church for the tables at the Bible Journaling event I was in charge of last month (which I ended up using something else for–ha!), so I wasn’t buying them for just one purpose.

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A few days before the shower I soaked all the bottles in warm, soapy water to get the stickers off and get them nice and clean. I played around with the design until I figured out something I liked—of course I had overbought for the centerpieces, but I used the rest of the pieces for other areas. Some of them ended up going up on the mantel—we piled the gifts all around the hearth as people arrived.

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The biggest bottles I planned on using for the favor table, along with the letterpress Q’s. The last thing that I really needed was something to prop up the bottles and letters so that they could be easily seen. I was thinking a small wooden crate or a stack of books with the covers ripped off, which would be simple to find if I just went back to the Nifty Thrifty on Friday if I couldn’t find anything better.

Fortunately, on the way out to Friske’s Farm for a day with the cousins, we found one last garage sale that we didn’t even know we needed, and that supplied the final element for the favor table–a cherry lug (that’s the wood box in the photo). In addition, I picked up a few more medicine bottles, including some really tiny ones that ended up being absolutely perfect and a few vintage hankies for my Etsy shop.

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The last thing I was in charge of was the cake, which I ordered from a bakery in Central Lake, A Touch of Class. I told Tracy about the theme of the shower and that we were doing rustic favors and decorations, and she came up with the idea for a naked cake with flowers from the Bellaire Farmer’s Market. Everyone absolutely loved the cake–even Christina, who is not much of a cake person. I must have been subconsciously remembering her wedding board on Pinterest–she’d pinned a naked cake there before she ultimately decided to go with cupcakes.

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It fit in so perfectly with the theme that I decided to use it as the centerpiece for the biggest table, with two of the smaller set-ups on either side, and it looked really beautiful. I loved being able to use items that I gathered from around the Bellaire area, and I’m actually glad that I didn’t plan out a bunch of pieces ahead of time, because it gave me an excuse to drive around and do a little junk shopping, which is one of my favorite things ever.

The wildflowers mostly came from the side of the road right in front of the house–there’s a hill there that slopes down from the golf course, and only the edge of that gets mowed, so there were plenty to choose from. Charlotte helped me pick the flowers and fill the little bottles with water–she loves anything that has to do with water or the sink–even doing dishes!! We also used some of the hydrangeas that grow like crazy in the front and on the side of the house–no one really sees the ones on the side anyway, so I grabbed them from those bushes–they get so heavy with blooms in July and August that a lot of them droop over onto the ground!

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We had great weather, played some fun games, and had a really good time together celebrating Christina’s upcoming wedding.

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Thanks for reading everyone!

Talk soon,

Jessie