Getting Crafty on a $0 Budget

by Katy on September 5, 2011 · 34 comments

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of HGTV. I love the creativity of the different designers, and I especially love Design Star, the competition where designers compete to win their own show. (I do however hate, hate, hate House Hunters, in which spoiled American couples look at gorgeous houses and complain about too small walk-in closets and kitchens not having granite countertops, all the while talking about how they don’t even cook!)

However, I am trying to put aside an extra $5000 over the coming school year, so that my sons can go on their class trips to Japan. Which leaves me with about, oh . . . negative $4500 for fun decorating projects. But that’s okay, since I seem to find all sorts of great projects that cost no more than time and imagination. Let me show you my most recent crafty projects.

First was converting a skateboard deck into a shelf for my son’s room. These skateboards were given out as freebies at a Portland Timbers soccer game a few weeks ago, and despite not being all that into skateboarding, my sons eagerly brought them home. Now, there was no way I was going to buy wheels to go with these super low quality decks, but it occurred to me they would make great shelves above their desks. Luckily, I remembered that my mother had a rotted out and rusty shelf sitting in her driveway, which I snagged for the project.

The shelf from my mother's driveway. Note the gross particle board and the rusty metal brackets. A screwdriver easily removed the shelves to get them ready to paint.

The spray painted brackets. The rust was actually quite superficial, so all I did to ready them for painting was a quick wipe with a rag. The paint I snagged from my mother's basement. (Thank G-d she's not a minimalist!)

The completed shelf. My son is a HUGE Timbers fan, so this is a perfect addition to his room!

And then today I found a framed poster of a polar bear set out next to a neighbor’s trash can. It was kind of dirty looking and the lower corners were a bit mashed, but the glass was intact and the frame was actually wooden.

My husband and I were given a signed print of a painting from artist and family friend Elizabeth Harris when we married back in 1993. We framed it using glass, foam core and clips at the time, but time and a number of moves broke the glass and neglect was taking its toll. The poster itself was larger than standard size, so I knew I could cut away the wrinkled and ripped excess and still keep enough to be worth framing it.

A framed polar bear? I think not! It's barely visible in the photo, but you can see how the lower left hand corner is kind of mushed. I used carefully cut black electrical tape to reconstruct the corners.


My poor print. It's wrinkled and even torn on the left hand side. No worry, as it's too big for the frame, and I have to cut off the excess anyway.

Our framed print. Sadly, I had to cut off where the artist wrote "To Katy and Dale" on the bottom, although I did paste it onto the back. It's the perfect size for this very vertical space on our landing. I love this print, and I know it will warm my heart every time I pass it by.

I get so much satisfaction from creating something wonderful out of other people’s discards. And being on a super strict crap-my-kids-need-money-for-their-Japan-trips budget does not mean I have to give up having fun with my house. Those HGTV House Hunters can keep their walk-in closets and granite counter tops, I’m more than happy with my track-picked treasures.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.

Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.


{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Jinger September 5, 2011 at 4:33 am

Turning trash into treasure…one of my greatest loves and your treasures are lovely! Yesterday I found a perfect wooden Papasan chair frame beside the dumpster. My college girl has always wanted one. Using a leftover fabric shower curtain and fiber fill for a new cushion, she now has her dream.


Indy September 5, 2011 at 7:24 am

I found the frame for a double papasan (a mamasan) a while back. A bit of relashing with some cool bamboo twine I had revitalized it. As for the cushion, I collected all of the extra blankets and pillows that were stored in my closet and layered them evenly inside a brown and bleach stained single size fitted sheet.

It looks like tortise shell batik which goes with my streamlined bohemian living room, and is the most comfortable seat in the house. Extra bonus, I now have a whole reclaimed shelf in my closet.


Katy September 5, 2011 at 7:25 am




Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares September 5, 2011 at 6:14 am

Good job! We, too, finally framed a print hubby got in Italy about 20 years ago. I picked up a really nice framed acrylic painting for next to nothing, but decided I didn’t care for it much. A new mat, and it’s now in our dining room–finally! The European print sizing is different than in US, so I had to *gasp* buy a mat, but it was a cheap remnant, and it was worth it, just to get the print out of the closet for once and for all!


harriet September 5, 2011 at 6:18 am

To save a few bucks on a frame, you cut off where the artist signed and inscribed the print? That’s crazy.


Jessica September 5, 2011 at 6:27 am

She said she pasted it on the back. It doesn’t sound like she’s planning on selling the print or otherwise letting someone else ascribe value to it, so I’d say if that doesn’t bother her to have it that way, then it makes perfect sense to do what she did.


Katy September 5, 2011 at 6:49 am

I thought about what the artist would rather have me do. Cut off the top of the painting or cut off where she wrote her inscription? And no artist worth her brushes would choose to have someone hack away at pieces of her art. 😀

And of note, there was a $49.99 price tag on the frame, so my savings was significant. (Yippee!)



harriet September 5, 2011 at 8:20 am

The artist would probably have rather you waited till you found a frame the right size at Goodwill. No skin off my apple, but I take art seriously.


Megg September 5, 2011 at 9:27 am

I think the artist would just rather have her art framed and on display, than getting wrinkly and possibly damaged because there’s nowhere to put it! I like it 🙂


Barb September 5, 2011 at 9:37 am

I’d suggest that any artist worth her salt (including me, although Im a fabric artist), would rather have her work displayed, used and loved rather than wrinled and put away somewhere until the right (perfect, expensive) frame appeared.


Jessica September 5, 2011 at 6:29 am

It seems like the key here is that you picked up free things with a specific purpose in mind. My husband is forever picking up things off the curb on trash day simply because he hates seeing them go to waste, but we don’t necessary have anything to do with them. And we live in a small apartment, so his “supplies” for yet-unknown projects can pile up quickly.


Katy September 5, 2011 at 6:42 am

Yes. Bringing home free stuff is just like shopping in this manner. Don’t bring it home unless you know exactly what you’re going to do with it and where it will go.

Or. . . Don’t bring it home unless it has good resale value and you will actually make the effort to sell it.



cj sime September 5, 2011 at 7:54 am

Thanks for the laugh: (Thank G-d she’s not a minimalist!) That is too funny and I think those of us who are new to minimalism are aspecially appreciative to the hoarders in our lives.

Fantastic project!


Megg September 5, 2011 at 9:28 am

This has nothing to do with your post, but I LOVE House Hunters! I love seeing the ridiculous things people say, and complain about, and I love trying to guess what they’re going to choose, or seeing how they have to compromise. But just over a year ago we were those house hunters. It’s my guilty pleasure at the gym 🙂


Jessica September 5, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I’m always mixed on the house hunters, I never watch the regular one, but the international version. I like most episodes, but sometimes I want to scream that you moved to a different country for a reason and it shouldn’t have been to live in a reproduction American house when you got there.


Ann September 5, 2011 at 11:26 am

LOVE the use of the skateboard deck!!!


Shannon Breen September 5, 2011 at 4:13 pm

When you mentioned HOUSE HUNTERS, it made me think of WHOSE WEDDING IS IT ANYWAY? that I used to watch. I enjoy weddings and get a kick out of the planners, but it would always amuse me when one would say something like, “She has a very limited flower budget of $5,000.” I paid about that much for my entire wedding 16 years ago. 😉


Shannon Breen September 5, 2011 at 4:14 pm

P.S. I am completely lusting after your staircase. SO love that carving in the bannister


Katy September 5, 2011 at 6:54 pm

That banister is what sold us on this house.



namastemama September 5, 2011 at 4:25 pm

you rock.


Susan C September 5, 2011 at 4:34 pm

I thought you were going to talk about the HGTV show on tonight where they will redesign the Tumbleweed Homes (Tiny homes).


Susan September 6, 2011 at 3:25 am

Will this be available to see in the UK on the internet, Susan C.? I love the Tiny Homes blog so much…and would love to see this! Maybe they might post on the Tiny Homes blog?


dustimc September 5, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Very inspiring. Thanks for the ideas.


Jo September 5, 2011 at 10:48 pm

The picture looks beautiful there with the light from the window coming in to highlight it.

I prefer your picture trimmed as you have it, rather than with the printed name showing. I think that art belongs to the person who owns it and should be displayed however they please. If an artist wants his or her art displayed a certain way, he or she should keep it. Just my opinion.


Jennifer September 6, 2011 at 3:08 am

Honestly, I think having a small budget unleashes creativity. If most people had the money they would just go out and buy what they wanted or needed, how boring is that?! For example, we needed a really big curtain rod, couldn’t find one for cheaper than $50. I refused to pay that for a damn stick! So what did we do? We bought 3 plant hangers from the hardware store and then the hubster went out and cut a long slender maple. Now we not only have a curtain rod, but a really cool one that fits our style perfectly! Oh yeah, and we saved $35!!


Susan September 6, 2011 at 3:28 am

I haven’t been redecorating but I’m currently working on a patchwork quilt made from remnants of fabric that has cost me only £10 so far! I think that’s a bargain…


Kristin September 6, 2011 at 4:36 am

I live in a very small house with a brand new Ikea kitchen with granite countertops, a porcelain farmer sink and hard tile floor. Recently my s/o was washing the large yellow Pyrex mixing bowl that I inherited from my grandmother. It slipped into the sink and smashed to smithereens! I prefer stainless steel sinks , laminate counters and vinyl flooring which do not spell Instant Death for any dishes that get dropped on them!


Steady Plodder September 6, 2011 at 7:07 am

Great job repurposing! And I’m glad someone else gets aggravated with some of the House Hunters episodes. I love watching it, but get frustrated when they complain too much about what is missing!


Karen September 6, 2011 at 11:50 am

My husband brought home the Timbers skateboard deck also, but neither of us skateboards and we don’t have kids! We thought about selling it but I love this shelf idea instead. Thanks!


Jasmine August 23, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I know this has been mentioned before, but it probably wasn’t a good idea to cut the print. Even if it was created by a local artist, it is an original piece and will still hold value. By cutting off what the artist intended to be there, it causes the piece to depreciate. It would have been better to get bought a larger frame and just have an appropriate-sized mat be cut to fit. I understand that this is your print in your own home, but it might not have been the best advice for others.


Katy August 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm

It’s a poster of a print, so worry not!



Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: