10 DIY sunburst mirrors

I completed the Netherlands trifecta last Friday. I biked for 30 minutes in the rain to a thrift store. I feel like I should’ve been awarded a Dutch residence permit right then and there.

But all my effort wasn’t for nothing. I rode there with a purpose — nay — a destiny.

Thrift store circle mirror

Ever since I saw it and passed it up, I had been thinking about it. What had I been thinking passing up a large circle mirror for only €5? The thrift store gods were smiling down on me and I just snubbed my nose at them.

Apparently, the gods considered my long wet bike ride a worthy sacrifice, though, because the mirror was still there almost a week later. Phew!

When we got it home, I promptly took a razor to it since the prior owner hadn’t taken much care when they painted it and there were little spots and flecks of brown paint on the surface of the mirror. Also, that price tag needed to come off. Why they don’t put those ridiculously-sticky price tags in more inconspicuous places I will never know.

Razor to clean mirror

So now that it’s all clean, I just have to figure out what to do with it. It’s really large and heavy, so we can’t add anything that would make it much heavier on the wall. I’m thinking sunburst mirror, but there are hardly any ideas about how to DIY those.

Haha, of course that’s not true. There are tons. It seems you can take just about anything and arrange it into a circle around a mirror.

Here are 10 things you can make sun- (or star!) burst mirrors out of:

10 DIY sunburst mirrors

  1. Plastic spoonsHow to Make A Decorative Chrysanthemum Mirror out of plastic spoons!
  2. Wood shimssunburst mirror DIY
  3. Dowel rodsDIY Starburst Mirror
  4. ClothespinsCircle Mirror
  5. Poster boardHow to Make a Sunburst Mirror
  6. BBQ skewersMy Sunburst Mirror
  7. Paint stir sticksDIY: Paint Stick Sunburst Mirror
  8. Tree branches: A Sunburst Mirror Project
  9. CardboardRecycled Cereal Box Sunburst Mirror
  10. Forks, butter knives and spoonsA Starburst Mirror for the Dining Room

We’re gonna do something a little bit different with ours, though. She’s all taped up and ready for action!

Thrifted circle mirror


August Rush

I wish this blog post had the same budget as that movie! Alas, this is not a feel-good Hollywood drama.

However, this post is supposed to make me feel good by reminding me of all the progress we’ve made on our home despite the financial setbacks. Bring on the Hollywood ending!

It did feel really good to open up here and be honest about the job snafu and all the trials that come with expat-riatism (should be a word!), so I will definitely be doing that more. I hope that writing about my experience will make some new expat feel better by knowing she is not the only one struggling with immigration issues.

Anyway, you want to know what never fails to turn my sad face upside down? This happy one:

Our kitten Ludovico

Yes, that’s an updated picture of our little fuzzball Ludovico. He’s made such an impact on our lives already — I actually okayed a scratching post the other day saying “I guess that doesn’t look so bad.” If you want to see A LOT (okay, too many) pictures of Ludo, I post them on my Instagram almost daily. You should follow me!

Ludovico was a big change for us, but a lot of the updates we made  this month were small, affordable ones like adding some hooks and hardware in our toilet and bathroom, thrifting some kitchen necessities, and splurging (well, as much as broke people can splurge!) on a designer clock.

Ikea Grundtal toilet paper roll holder

I didn’t blog about this, but it bears mentioning that you can make a stuck-to-the-wall toilet paper roll holder much prettier by running some acrylic caulk around the edge and smoothing it out with a paper towel, like so:

Ikea Grundtal toilet paper roll holder

See? No more gross see-through holes!

We did make a couple of big changes this month. They were just ridiculously cheap! We added a bunch of hand-me-down furniture to our living room.

Living room

And ain’t nothing wrong with this discounted Pax wardrobe:

Ikea As-Is Pax wardrobe

Well, that is, until we broke it.

Ikea broken Pax wardrobe

Womp womp. That’s okay. “We can rebuild him…we have the technology.” More on that later.

This month, we also added a thrifted chandelier to our living room, lovingly spray painted white, the rainbow’s most forgiving color.

Thrifted chandelier spray painted white

Funny story, I am in the process of repainting it. Yes! It’s true! Maybe this month has been a wash.

Ah well, at least we got some relaxing in before the summer ended.

Bosbad Amersfoort


Give me a break

These days, with money being so tight, it gets easy to beat myself up about what we can’t yet afford to do around the apartment.

But today when I woke up I heard my brain telling me to relax.

So I listened. And I realized…

It’s okay that the couch is a little dirty in spots. It was free and it is holding up well to Ludovico’s talon claws.

It’s also his favorite place for daily cat naps, which are a much-appreciated break from the norm of “No! Stop! Ouch! That’s my leg!”

It’s also okay that the hand-me-down bench we received from Rolan’s uncle is upholstered in a dark red and black damask.

Because, as it happens, the Ikea Ofelia throw that Rolan’s mother gifted me makes a pretty nice little slipcover for the time being.

Not perfect, but it’s fine for now!

Also not perfect is our clothes storage situation in the bedroom. But that’s okay because we have beautiful dark blue curtains we found on clearance that were lovingly sewn together by Rolan’s mother and hemmed to the right height by yours truly.

And even though I will probably kill them soon, I am enjoying the fresh herbs we have growing in our kitchen.

There is so much possibility in this apartment. I simultaneously can and can’t wait to see what comes of it.


A dandy chandy

My man Rolan is 2 for 2 on great thrift store lighting finds. If he weren’t already a great catch, I’d be keeping him around just for his keen eye for lighting.

When he found this beauty, I initially had my reservations. I wasn’t sure the mixed metals candelabra look was going to jive with our contemporary minimalist decor.

So we made a compromise. We would get the lighting fixture, but we’d have to make it less shiny.

Enter some matte white spray paint.

We taped off the light stems so that no spray paint would get into the bulb screw base and so they would remain black. Then we gave it one coat of primer.

We were already starting to like it better. So we went forward with two more coats of paint.

We are so happy with the final product. It’s got classic, timeless elegance yet it’s updated to fit in with the sleek lines of our brand new apartment.

I’m also really happy we chose to leave the glossy black light stems. I think it helps keep the light from disappearing into the ceiling.

It looks really cool from below too.

I can’t believe just how much a couple coats of spray paint did to update this light’s look. And did I mention the light’s low price tag? €2!

If Rolan keeps up like this, I can see a lot more spray painted thrift store finds in our future.


Tour time!

Is it a blessing or a curse when you can pack all your belongings in less than 3 hours? I’m going with blessing.

Yep, we planned to move on Sunday and we began packing around oh, I dunno… Sunday afternoon? We borrowed Rolan’s uncle’s band bus (complete with giant band name stickered onto the side) and filled it full of our stuff. Then we unloaded it in a matter of an hour because we have so much stuff you guys.

Internet was connected yesterday, so today I’d like to just share some pics of the apartment before we moved our things in. The pink wallpaper is in full swing in these pictures, so try to divert your attention more to the beautiful laminate flooring we installed.

Here is the view from the front door. The open door you see on the right leads to the powder room and the open door on the left walks into the living/dining/kitchen.

My plans for this space include a “landing zone” for mail, keys, jackets, shoes, umbrellas (we need umbrellas A LOT here), etc. The little telephone hanging on the wall is a video feed of the front of the apartment building and allows you to open the door (or not) for visitors. I am living in the future, ya’ll.

The biggest room in the apartment is the one that melds three vital rooms together: the living room, dining room and kitchen. I should call it the dinkitchliving room. Or the kitchdinliving room. Maybe I’ll go really wild and name it the lividinkitchen.

This room is home to two of the apartment’s biggest selling points: these big, beautiful french doors that open up to let in sunlight and fresh air. Another selling point was how big this room is. The pictures do not do it justice.

The door you see on the left of the above picture walks out onto this big balcony:

Sometimes the sun actually shines in the Netherlands, so we were thrilled with the idea of having a private place to enjoy those 2 spectacular days.

Back inside, the kitchen is extremely modern, with sleek white cabinets, stainless steel hardware, and brand-new Siemens appliances. There is also a hidden fridge, freezer and dishwasher in there (all on the left).

I’m planning on adding some open shelving on the left. Not sure what to do with the big wall over the sink, though.

The bedrooms are nothing spectacular — yet.

This is the master bedroom, you can tell because of how master-y it looks. Actually, it’s not much bigger than the other bedroom.

We’ve already decided that this room should become the office/studio. Rolan is a music man on the low down and desperately needs a place to put his keyboard and sound equipment. And so it shall be done.

In the bathroom, we have dual sinks and a walk-in shower.

And a bath. A big-enough-to-actually-enjoy-yourself-in bath.

Just for fun, here is our auxiliary room.

I hope that someday (in the very near future) this will house a washing machine. We have a severe lack of washing machine in this apartment. I’d also like to get some kind of dirty laundry system and linen closet thingamajig in here.

Not pictured is the powder room. It’s just a room with a sink and a toilet though so you’re not missing much.

And that’s the new place. We have already made some improvements and touch-ups since moving in so I’ll be sure to update with those.

What do you guys think? The wallpaper, is it as horrific as I think it is?


To-Do List

Our apartment is a brand-spankin’ newly built apartment, which is awesome because it’s got a modern look and feel and (almost) nothing needs to be updated (they put pastel pink wallpaper on all the walls! why? whywhyWHY!?). Ahem.

However, since it is brand new and no one has ever lived in it before, it comes without some necessary things. Like floors. And light fixtures. Those kinds of things will obviously take precedent over design-y and decorate-y things. But we are glad we get to live in the space while we tailor it to our liking and — of course — update you guys along the way.

Here, I wanted to keep an ongoing list of the projects we are planning for each room. You know, to keep things organized and maybe even keep us honest.

Take a look, but don’t get overwhelmed. And I’m pointing at myself with that last sentence.

Whole apartment

  • Install laminate flooring
  • Install quarter-round wall trim
  • Paint baseboards white(?)
  • Decide on color scheme
  • Decide on what to do about the wallpaper (leave it? paint over it? take it down, fix the wall behind and paint? hang other wallpaper?)

Bedroom

Bathroom

  • Find & install ceiling light fixture
  • Find & install over-sink mirror light fixture
  • Find storage solutions
    • Under sink?
    • To right of sink?
    • In shower?

Powder Room

Entryway

Kitchen

Living/dining room

Studio
  • Clean out this room
  • Figure out best use of space in here
  • Figure out curtain situation
  • Find & install light fixture
  • Find furniture

Balcony

  • Find furniture
  • Build pallet benches
  • Outdoor rug
  • Find small outdoor table and chairs

Utility room

  • Washer (dryer?)
  • Find & install light fixture
  • Figure out best use of space (storage? laundry?)

Storage room

  • Don’t let this become a mess! Get some kind of system in here pronto!

Just writing that all out was daunting! Sheesh! What have we gotten ourselves into!?