Driftwood Repurposed

By Kathryn, Guest Contributor

Hi Everyone! Clara here. As some of you know, we have a new member of Banner Day, Kathryn. She's going to be guest contributing on this blog once in a while with some DIY tutorials and other projects she's been working on. So read on to learn how to harness that creative energy into making something beautiful and unique! 

Last fall, my husband and I took a road trip up the California coast. As we already live in northern Sonoma County it’s hard to believe there is more north of us, but indeed there is and we didn’t even leave the state! Our exploration led us to the Lost Coast, where we felt truly embraced and awed by the magic of the Pacific Northwest.

The Lost Coast is 24 miles of remote coast only reachable by small, steep back roads. Interestingly, the engineers of Highway 1 determined construction was not feasible in that area, and sleepy towns and those few secluded, windy country roads surround the coast. Many people hike the whole length of the Lost Coast trail, which takes a full three days due to rising tides creating impassable portions for half of each day. While we opted for cozy B&B’s rather than chilly camping, we did drop in at some glorious points along the trail.

As former east coasters, we both still marvel at the majesty of the Pacific Ocean, and we were struck even more so, as we hiked down a trail to find ourselves alone, with only the company of the pounding incoming tide. It was here, that we discovered a gold mine, in amazingly weathered, sun-bleached driftwood. We weren’t sure, at that moment, what we would make with it, but my ever-prepared husband pulled out some rope, bundling a bunch of pieces to carry up the steep hike back to the car. 

It was not long after we returned that a friend, who was looking for some décor to freshen his apartment before his new girlfriend came to visit, that we realized the driftwood’s naturally worn charm would look great as a display piece either for candles or succulents. His was the prototype and now we have made several iterations, which we use around our home. 

Driftwood tea light holder or succulent planter, How To:

1.    Gather fallen wood. Driftwood is great as it has been naturally cured, or dried, in the sun. In general, you want something solid, with not a lot of blemishes or any obvious mold. Look for interesting shapes and if it is damp when you collect let it dry in sun before processing.* 
2.    Clean off all pieces with a coarse brush.

3.    Determine which side will be the bottom and then sand, so that the wood sits flat. We use a bench top belt sander, but this can be done by hand using a squared block and 80 grit sand paper, or a hand plane. 

4.    Roughly determine the placement of the holes. Keep in mind the diameter of the drill bit, and that you will need to drill down at least ½”. 
5.    Drill holes. We are fortunate enough to have a drill press, but this can also be done using a power drill. The bit we use is a Forstner bit, which produces a flat-bottomed hole. 
•    For tea lights, use a 1½” drill bit and drill down ⅝” at the shallowest point. This will ensure the edge of the tea light holder will not be visible.
•    For succulents you can use either the 1½” bit, or a 1⅝” bit. You can drill to a depth of anywhere between ½” to 1½” (the deeper you go, the better for the plant). 

6.    It’s best to clamp down the wood and drill straight down. You might be tempted to drill sideways to go with the movement of the wood, but that just makes plants look like they are falling out or will make candles drip. 
Tips for drilling: 
•    Begin to drill the hole and then back the bit out to clear the wood chips. Do this repeatedly until you are at the desired depth. This avoids stressing the drill and allows you to clearly see where you are going, ensuring a straight hole. 
•    To ensure you drill to the correct depth, you can measure and mark the drill bit with a grease pen.
7.    Clean wood pieces with a damp cloth after drilling. Allow to dry before next steps.
8.    If you’d like, you can rub one to two coats of mineral oil on the wood as a finish. We prefer to keep the wood in its natural state, cleaning periodically with a wood cleaner (we like Method brand).
9.    You can then pot your succulents** or place your tea lights!!

Your new holders can be used as a great addition to a tablescape, a standalone centerpiece or placed on a sideboard or bedside table. Burn candles only where safe and remember that succulents do best in lots of sunshine!

We love having these organic, natural pieces as a reminder of our adventure on the wild Northern California coast. We look forward to making the same trip north, again this fall… wandering on isolated beaches, and gathering the remnants of the tides. 

*In certain areas removing items may be prohibited. Forage at your own risk.

**Succulents, which should be watered sparingly, can live for several months in these vessels. They will however need to be repotted once they begin to grow and can simply be replaced by smaller plants. 

A Plethora of Pots for Plants

Indoor plants are now more en vogue than ever. And I wholeheartedly embrace this trend. I've always been a huge advocate of inserting plants to bring life and greenery into any room. 

What's just as important as placing plants throughout your home? As with everything, details matter, and the vessels into which you place each of your plants determine whether your plant family will shine and impress or fade into the background. Keep the aesthetic of your room in mind, but I generally gravitate towards more neutral colored planters with clean lines.  Below are some of my favorites. 

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5


A couple of things to keep in mind if you are creating a plant collection. If you are keeping a simple color palette for your plant containers, there are a couple of ways to make each vessel stand out. Consider putting one or two plants in a vessel with a stand or maybe using a footed container to get some elevation. Using a container with some texture such as one made of concrete or a pebbled ceramic brings in something different while staying neutral enough to work with whatever else is going in your room.  

Amp up your plant game even more? Dress them up in their Sunday best by placing river rocks, gravel or moss on the top soil. Your plants will thank you and your house guests will steal this idea for their own home. 

And sometimes you just need one really big vessel for that plant that won't stop growing...

A Secret Closet Garden

When I first walk into a consult, I never judge my clients' homes. They are busy with work and family, it's understandable that things get busy and their home isn't perfect all the time. I however do judge my home constantly. Since it's my profession, it's important for me to keep it presentable at all time if at all possible. I'm just glad we can hide some things behind closed doors. For example, my closet has been an eyesore for a while. Proof below. 

No styling, no prep, this is what it used to look like. We live in an older home and actual closet space in the master bedroom is non-existent. This closet butts up against the eaves of our roof which means expansion is out of the question. And one of the few times in my life where I'm glad that I'm vertically challenged. Anyone taller than me would never be able to use this as a closet. 

As you can see the closet is technically "finished" but rather drab and seemingly dirty although I promise you it's not. I briefly considered hiring a closet professional to come and help me but then I regained my sanity and realized we have a laundry list of more important items to focus on. So what to do? Armed with $200 I decided I could make it look and feel better. Ready? 

I decided wallpaper was the way to go, the biggest impact for relatively low cost. And I chose this one by Hygge and West during a recent sale. I love the pattern, it's feminine without being overtly so. And it's just so darn cheerful and happy. It looks even better on the walls!  

First step, I cleaned out my closet and donated/removed anything I haven't worn this past year. I actually clean out my closet every 4 to 5 months. I'm not a capsule wardrobe type of girl but I do keep my closet fairly edited. 

I moved the dresser horizontally to make this tiny closet feel roomier. I had a leftover round mirror from another project and reused it here. This mirror is perfect for when I apply makeup, lotions and potions. 

The old shoe rack was no longer working for me. Since I retired my pumps, I definitely have more flat shoes which didn't grip well to the shoe rack. I also wanted a more built-in look without the cost. It's amazing how many of life's problems can be solved by a trip to Target. Hyperbole, I know but somehow true. This shoe storage unit from Target is white and fits in with the dresser fairly seamlessly. 

Not all of my clothes fit into this one dresser. I'm a minimalist but not a monk. Below is how I store my hanging clothes. 

This closet actually runs the entire length of the house and there is another entrance to it from the guest room. So a fixed closet rod was out of the question since there is no immediate wall to the left. The garment rack is the only practical way to store my hanging clothes. I wheel it forward when I need something from the rack and wheel it back when I need some shoes or an item from the dresser.  In an ideal world I would prefer a walk-in closet a la Carrie's closet in Sex in the City. Alas, this is real life. And this setup works for me for now, especially with the small updates. 

Every morning when I open up my closet doors to get ready for the day, it's an absolute pleasure to have this bright and cheery closet greet me and set me in the right mood. It's just a closet and perhaps one wouldn't normally invest some time in such a small space but like in most of my work, I'm a big believer that every detail matters. Our spaces are a vessel for not only the life we currently inhabit but also a means to create the life we wish to have. And this closet to me says there are many more fabulous and exciting things to come!