Thursday, March 8, 2012

Down + Dirty DIY: Free Vase Facelift

While there are certain skills I would claim to possess such as Good Scrambled Egg-Maker or Skilled Crib-Sheet-Changer, Awesome Housekeeper isn't one of them.  I'm not saying I live in a pig pen - my husband happens to be quite tidy, and I hate having dirty dishes in the sink - but specifically when it comes to the little touches, like fresh flowers, I totally stink.  It's not for lack of access or budget, since one of the great things about New York is that you can get cheap, fresh-cut flowers at any corner bodega.  It's that one of my phobias (like those knobby eyes that grow on potatoes...I shudder just thinking about them) is murky, swampy days-old vase water. 

I can't look at dirty flower water without gagging.  For some reason I can't help but imagine that some evil house fairy will show up unannounced to inspect my home one day, give me an itemized list of violations similar to the restaurant rating system here in NYC, and my punishment for each offense will be drinking dirty vase water.

I decided to conquer my fears by hiding them, since refreshing vase water is soooooo difficult (is there an emoticon for eye-rolling?).  Here's my down + dirty (+ free!) DIY vase facelift.

You will need:

- old vases or jars
- acrylic paints (or, if the weather were warmer and I had a back yard I would totally have preferred to spray paint these bad boys, but you work with what you've got)
- masking/painting tape
- foam brushes (or you can even use your finger if you didn't just get a manicure)
- "zhuzh", meaning little stickers like the ones you see courtesy of my Japanese lover, or even a shimmery paint pen or washi tape.   Again, use what you've got!
- drop cloth (or in my case, paper Trader Joe's bags)


Start with clean, dry vases.

Tape off the area you'd like to paint in your lighter color (if you're doing two-toned vases like me).

A note on painting - there are a few ways to skin this cat.  If it were warmer + I had a back yard, my first choice would have been to spray paint these for a smoother finish.  Also, if you're planning to use your finished jars to display "dry" items, like billy buttons or colored pencils, I would recommend painting the jars from the inside (basically pouring your acrylic paint inside the jar, turning it upside down so the jar is thoroughly coated with paint, and letting it dry upside down), but this does not work if you plan to fill your vase with water. So for this, I'm painting the outsides of the jars, which will result in a more textured, homemade look.

Peel off masking tape while paint is still wet, and allow ample drying time.  I let mine dry overnight, hence the next set of "daytime" pictures. 

Next, repeat the process and tape off where you'd like the darker paint to go.

 I've got this great, inky dark blue that, in retrospect, I wish I'd used on the whole vase.  Because I wanted a thorough coating of the blue, I did a hybrid dip-the-jar-into-the-paint and smooth-the-paint-on-with-a-foam-brush method.

Again, remove the tape and allow thorough drying time.

Onto the "zhuzh".  There are so many ways to do this, and I encourage you to use items you already own.  Maybe instead of circles it's rectangular strips of washi tape.  Or maybe while the paint is wet you dip one side of the jar in glitter.  I just happen to have about 1,000 of these little confetti-like gold stickers that I'm looking to use up.

For my confetti ombre look, I started at the bottom with the densest concentration of confetti.

From there I just worked my way up, spacing out the dots as I went.  Then I repeated the same process on the little jar.  Ipso schmipso.  Pretty easy.

The little stickers really shimmer in the daylight, too, which is a nice, glamorous counterpoint to the homey paint job.

It also helps distract from the dust on the top of the cigar box we brought back from our Costa Rican honeymoon five years ago.  I don't think I've dusted it since.

What do you think?  What would you do differently?  Have any jars in need of a facelift?


  1. Replies
    1. thanks, jacin! it was pretty easy, and the price was the best part ;) i'm itching to do one with spray paint once the weather cooperates.


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