#NoNewvember Challenge!

I’m really excited today to finally share a challenge I’ve been thinking of creating / sharing / doing for years. Having a baby and then emigrating kept me busy the past few Novembers, but this year I can share my idea and challenge that I hope you will jump on board with this month; my #NoNewvember Challenge!

I’d like to think the hashtag is pretty self-explanatory, but for the sake of adding more sustenance to this blog post, I’ll explain in more detail and give all the positive reasons for choosing to join my #NoNewvember Challenge.

The challenge I’m setting is for the month of November; should you need to buy something for your home, for yourself or for someone close to you, I challenge you to try and source that thing secondhand vs. buying something brand new. This is essentially a newer version of my Nearly New Wood Challenge [please excuse the higgledy-piggledyness of the layout of that post] from a few years ago but come on, this one is punny and everyone seems to be on board for monthly challenges these days. I’ve got to try and keep up with what the kids are doing.

For me, the three absolute main selling points to try this challenge are …

1. THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
I try not to talk too much doom and gloom about the current environmental climate, but it’s something I think about every single day. Buying secondhand pieces vs. buying a brand new factory-made piece is kind of a no brainer for me. It’s become far too normal to mindlessly buy things we don’t need. Take charge and become more conscious of what you’re buying and what type of market you’re feeding. The environmental impact of creating new products is overwhelming. The fashion industry alone is one of the most harmful contributors to pollution and climate change. I don’t want to focus on the negative, but this is now our reality and this is one of the many ways I’m trying to proactively do something and do something positive. Everything you need is already made and living out there somewhere! Get creative about what you need and enjoy the challenge of finding that perfect secondhand thing! For me, the challenge and reward of finding something perfect secondhand is one of the best parts.

2. BUYING SECONDHAND WILL SAVE YOU MONEY
There is nothing that gives me more smug levels of joy than telling people how I got this amazing thing and for like $20. Like our dining room chandelier. That cost me just $10 and it’s more beautiful than a baby’s first smile. Buying secondhand will 99% of the time be cheaper than buying brand new items, and especially with Christmas just around the corner, who wouldn’t like a bit of extra cash? Hi, my name is Alex and I like not spending huge amounts of money. Who’s with me?

3. IT’S [FOR THE MOST PART] ONE OF A KIND
Yes, I know, technically there is going to be more than one of the secondhand thing you found because if it was made 30 years ago there for sure wasn’t just one made, but those things aren’t currently on shelves at over a thousand stores nationwide. I have found some of the most amazing things secondhand and for me, that is so exciting. And some times choosing to buy secondhand has meant they’ve been sturdier and better made than what you can buy brand new nowadays.

You can apply the #NoNewvember Challenge to so many things for you and your home. From couches to curtains and sweaters to scooters, you can source it all secondhand. For example, this summer I was in desperate need of shorts once it climbed above 40°C. I looked in main brand stores for a week or two and found nothing that would suit my shape or basic requirement to have a crotchal section in a pair of shorts. I went to our local Value Village and within 30 minutes I had found two pairs of secondhand shorts that I not only felt very comfortable in, but actually looked good in. That is no easy feat for me.

Another example is for Cora’s birthday a few weeks ago I took to Kijiji to find a present and found a secondhand wooden play kitchen which was not only a fraction of the price of buying a brand new one, but it was exactly what I was looking for, would not have been able to buy locally and would have spent a small fortune on shipping. I found the original toy wooden kitchen online and it retails for $450 brand new. Hell no, I would not have spent that much IRL. I spent a fraction of that [and of course, I will be sharing it soon!].

I could go on and give more examples, but basically my entire blog is kind of now based on secondhand stuff so feel free to keep scrolling and see all the things I’ve found secondhand over the years. I’m also hoping to share each day this month a photo per day of some of my favourite secondhand pieces I’ve found over the years that I love just as much as the day I found them (and use often). I’ll be sharing them on social media, and at the end of the month I’ll be sharing a blogpost with all the #NoNewvember finds that are shared and posted online!

So please share your favourite finds using #NoNewvember online and help spread the word about my new challenge!

p.s. Obviously, there are some things I can understand you would not buy secondhand; undergarments, dentures, pillow inserts, hygiene products, mattresses etc. There is a line that maybe shouldn’t be crossed, but that line is pretty far away and to be honest there aren’t many things on that list. Please use your own judgement.

Storage bench makeover with Fusion Mineral Paint

I’m sorry. I did it again. I painted a thing. Is this get boring? Correct answer: NO.

The relentless humidity we’ve been experiencing here in Ottawa broke last weekend and in a burst of energy, I started to organize our front hallway. One of the many updates I’ve wanted to make to our hallway was to add a storage trunk of sorts that could hold our hats, mittens and scarves in the winter and store our shoes in the summer. I also wanted it to be cushioned so we could sit on it, but it could be no wider than 40 inches as that’s the exact width of the small alcove-type space in our hallway. So I did what I do best and logged in to Kijiji to see what I could find.

It took me a long time to not only find the right size storage bench, but one that hadn’t already been taken by someone with a car that could pick it up sooner than I could. I’m talking like 10 months of searching to find something, but F I N A L L Y last weekend I found a storage bench that no one wanted, that would fit our picky hallway nook and the owner offered to deliver it to me for free. Yassss.

It was a storage bench only a mother could love. It was made almost exactly 51 years ago [according to the stamp on the inside saying “October 1967”] and was covered in brown and beige faux leather material. It was pretty fugly, but I could see its potential.

It is very well made and has some heavy-duty hinges and for $40, it was a total deal in my mind. A few hours after it was delivered I was painting it with my now very reliable Fusion Mineral Paint. The storage bench isn’t going to be a major focal point in our hallway, so I wanted it to be in a dark colour that could hide the scuffs and scrapes that come with an entryway, so I painted it in Coal Black from Fusion Mineral Paint. Just like our painted tufted leather armchair!

I painted two coats of Fusion Mineral Paint’s “Coal Black” on the dark brown sections and three coats were needed to cover the lighter beige [in the photo above you can see the difference between two coats of paint on the beige vs. one coat of paint on the right. The two coats were good, but still streaky so a third coat was needed]. I took my time and left the bench for a few hours between each coat.

After the three coats were painted, I left the storage bench open overnight [so the paint on the seams wouldn’t seal shut] and by the next morning it was ready to be used.

I continue to be amazed by how well Fusion Mineral Paint works on leather [and faux leather alike]. The coverage is perfect and you honestly cannot tell it’s a piece that has been painted. I’m not just saying this because Fusion Mineral Paint sent me paint. I’m saying this because I feel more people need to know that the DIY possibilites with paint are becoming more and more endless. If you see a secondhand piece of leather [or faux leather] furniture for sale but the colour isn’t your favourite and the thought of having it reupholstered is making you gently weep, know that painting it with Fusion Mineral Paint is 9,000% an option.

Our hallway is still a WIP, so it’ll be a few weeks before I’m able to properly photograph our storage bench in its new home. But for now, I’d like to thank Fusion Mineral Paint, again, for providing me with paint to do this project [and a few more coming soon!]. It means a lot to this busy working mom who is barely holding it all together đź’•

DISCLOSURE – while this post is not sponsored, I did receive this paint free of charge from Fusion Mineral Paint in exchange for a blog post. I only work with brands that I like and of course, think you will too. Thank you for supporting the companies that support The Interior DIYer.

Updating (and childproofing) our secondhand dining table with faux marble contact paper

It’s been in every dining room photo since my One Room Challenge but I never got around to properly introducing it; our updated dining room table! I updated it in May with some faux marble contact paper and I’m only getting around to writing about it now. Story of my life these days, but it was the best update I could have made to that table.

One of the many things the previous tenants left for us was their dining room table. They knew we had next to nothing since emigrating from Dublin and since they’d be buying a dining table for their new house, they decided to really kindly leave their old one.

I was irrationally excited about it as it’s a really solid table [we bought a table last October, but it ended up being very weak and flimsy]. Our dining room is also a really big room so it needs a big table to anchor it and make it feel less like you’re floating around in the middle of the ocean. While I loved the shape and size of the table, I knew I’d want to eventually update it. But exactly how was my next daunting question.

The table is for the most part solid wood, but in a deceptive way. In a few spots [as you can see on the left in the photo above] it’s some sort of MDF just beneath a thin surface of real wood. There was also no finish so the raw, untreated wood had a lot of stains it wasn’t willing to part with; nail polish, coffee and food in general. None of which could be cleaned off.

I first thought about staining the table with a wood stain, but to be honest, I didn’t like the wood pattern on the top and the already dark knots would have ended up looking even darker. My next immediate thought was to cover it in contact paper, but I was hesitant. I mean, that’s a lot of table to cover. And the edges were so fiddly.

It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I finally made a decision; I was trying to once again clean a smushed blueberry from a few days previous [yay, untreated wood that absorbs everything] when a massive splinter of wood from the edge broke off into the palm of my hand. And I mean it was huge [#ThatsWhatSheSaid]; it was about 5 inches long, razor sharp and decided it would much rather hang out in my hand. What if it had broken off when Cora was around? What if it happened when I wasn’t there to see it? The mind goes to fantastic places once you become a parent, so that afternoon during Cora’s nap I took out the rolls of contact paper and got to work.

It was time consuming but easy to cover the table. I took the leaves apart and applied the contact paper one section at a time. I used the same technique I used a few years ago to cover our then coffee table – you can see the full step-by-step tutorial here! [p.s. I was about 2 weeks pregnant with Cora in those photos, but didn’t know it đź’•]. I also lightly sanded the legs and applied two coats of white paint [I used some leftover Behr’s eggshell paint for baseboards and doors as it was wipe-able and held up really well throughout the dining room].

I will be the first to admit it is not a perfect update. When you stand at the end of the table you can see the wood pattern in the reflection, but only if you’re really concentrating. The end leaves of the table are much wider than the width of the contact paper so there’s a random 2-inch strip of contact paper at either end. But for us right now, this table is perfect. It fits the three of us for dinner plus the hot mess of garbage that gets dumped on it. It’s very sturdy. But above all else, it is a dream to clean. No matter what you spill or drop on it, it wipes off immediately. And when you have a toddler that is an angel one minute and the 11th member of Suicide Squad the next, that’s a deal breaker. Function > form.

For anyone curious, I ordered my contact paper directly from the manufacturer. They said it’s available in Lowe’s here in Canada [but I couldn’t find it on their shop online], and back in Dublin I bought this exact same contact paper in B&Q.