DIY Gold Foil Prints

I’ve been in the process of creating a gallery wall for my new bedroom, and I knew that I wanted to incorporate some typography designs in a gold foil finish. Since my printer does not print with gold ink (alas!), I had to find a way to get that shiny, metallic finish on the designs I wanted. A few google searches later, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the solution was!

How I Did It

There are several DIY gold foil techniques, many of which use some form of adhesive to adhere the foil to your project. The technique I followed, however, uses heat.

Step 1: Find or create your design
I selected a couple of typography designs as well as some patterns that I really liked on Pinterest. I then enlisted the help of my brother, who is currently studying graphic design, to recreate a printable version of what I envisioned on Adobe InDesign.

Step 2: Print your design with a laser printer
It is important that you use black toner to print your design. You will not get the same results if you print your design using other toner colors or if you use an ink-jet printer.

Step 3: Apply the foil to your design using heat
I purchased some gold Deco Foil from Amazon for $5.49. It comes with five 6″ x 12″ sheets of foil.Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 4.58.53 PM

I cut the gold foil to the size of my design and placed it gold side up.

Cover the foil with a piece of parchment paper. Using medium heat and firm pressure, iron over your design on top of the parchment paper for 30 seconds. The heat from the iron will cause the foil to adhere to the toner. I had to play around with the settings on the iron to find the heat level that worked the best without melting or burning everything.

After I removed the iron, I could see the areas of my design that reacted with the heat and adhered to the gold foil.
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Step 4: Allow the foil to completely cool

Step 5: Carefully peel off the remaining foil
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If you look closely, there are some parts of the design where the gold foil did not completely adhere to the toner. This was most likely due to inconsistent heating with the iron. To avoid this in the future, you could use a laminator instead of an iron. Other than that, I love the way it turned out!

Step 6: Frame and enjoy!




An Upcycled Closet Organizer

One day after driving home from work, I decided to stop by my apartment’s dumpster to salvage some cardboard for my closet update. I was able to find a few large and clean pieces of cardboard, but I also found one a 3×3 ClosetMaid storage cube!

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “I can’t believe you took that from a dumpster!” But do not fear, for there is a method to my madness. Before I adopt a gently used item, I always go through this mental checklist in my head:

  1. Is it in good condition? (Is it still usable and without smells or questionable stains?)
  2. Is it useful? (Does it have potential? Can I repurpose this somewhere in my living space without adding clutter?)
  3. Is it newly discarded? (The longer it has been left outside, the more I question its structural integrity. Plus, I don’t want any surprises from spiders, cockroaches, or any other legged creatures after I’ve brought the furniture into my home!)

This lovely organizer was a bit dusty and scratched up, but otherwise in good condition. In terms of use, I wanted to place it in my closet, since I had a large empty space that was being underutilized. If it did not fit in my closet, then I could also place this guy in my living room, where it would serve as a bookshelf or for shoe storage. Lastly, when I discovered the closet organizer, it was sitting just in front of the dumpster and therefore appeared to be newly discarded. With my three criteria satisfied, I then set out to adopt the organizer and bring him back to life.

With the help of my roommate, I lugged this guy up to my apartment, where I left it on my balcony for a day to allow for any odors (and potential bugs!) to dissipate. The following day, I gave the shelf a thorough wipe down, checked for little critters one last time, and brought it into my room. It turns out that the organizer fit perfectly in my closet.

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The first owner of the closet did not assemble it correctly, which explains why you can see particle board innards in this picture. While the closet functioned well, it did not look very nice. What better way to spruce it up than with paint and contact paper?

How I Did It

Step 1: Apply primer

I wanted to paint the organizer white because white can brighten up any space, especially in my confined closet. First, however, I needed to prime the laminate. If I used normal paint without primer, then the paint would not adhere well and would result in bubbles. After doing some research, I decided to use the Zinsser Cover Stain Primer & Sealer.

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I used a foam roller to paint the majority of the closet and filled in the holes with a foam craft brush. I didn’t use a bristle brush because it was easier to achieve a more uniform and smooth distribution of paint using the foam roller. (Some sources recommend sanding down the particle board laminate prior to priming to enhance adhesion, but I found that the primer I used stuck just fine without sanding.)

Here’s what the closet organizer looked like before coat #2:

It took a few hours between coats, and once I finished the second coat I left the organizer outside for a couple of days to cure and allow for the odors to dissipate. Normally, I would have painted over the primer, but decided against it because 1) the primer did a pretty good job at covering the dark laminate, 2) did not seem to come off too easily, and 3) I will be moving to a new place once I start dental school and am unsure whether I’d be able to take this closet with me.

Step 2: Cut and apply the contact paper

I had purchased this contact paper from the Macbeth Collection a couple of years ago. I love the happy turquiose color and the chevron pattern, and thought it would look great in my newly painted organizer.

After I measured and cut the paper in squares, I peeled off the adhesive backing and applied it to the closet. It is super easy to apply if you peel off the sheet and smooth down as you go.

I repeated this for the five cubbies that had a laminate backing. I love the way the paper pops out against the white!

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Doesn’t he look happy in his new home?

2015-03-15 14.25.55Step 4: Organize and decorate

Since this organizer will be living in my closet, I wanted it to store my clothing and accessories in a way that would maximize my morning routine. I placed my jeans and heavy sweaters at the bottom, while cardigans and cotton shirts lived in the top shelves. The blue cube in the top-right cubby contains my undergarments, while my travel toiletries live in the center cubby.

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I always like to fold my clothes in a consistent fashion. This not only minimizes the amount of space each article of clothing takes up, but it also allows for easy stacking. I also sort each clothing type according to color, usually from light to dark. This way, I know exactly where to look if I want to wear a green shirt. Arranging the items according to color also helps to keep things visually organized.

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On the top of my closet, I keep a small tray to corral my hair clips and watches, a scented candle, earrings, and my current handbag. (I store the rest of my purses in another closet.)

I also keep a framed Chinese papercutting that I purchased on a recent trip to China. I love the intricate and delicate details! This was one of the first purchases I made in Asia, and so it has some sentimental value.

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Cost-Benefit Analysis

Here is a breakdown of the costs (both time and money) I spent on this project:

Closet organizer = $0
Primer = $9
Foam roller = $5
Craft brush = $0
Contact paper = $0

Grand Total: $14 & 3 days

Why it Makes Me Happy

I’m thankful that I was able to adopt this closet organizer and give it a new life with just a few coats of primer and some contact paper. Every time I open my closet and see that bright organizer, I can feel a smile forming—and I know that my happy space has done its job!

A Closet Refresh

Even with all of my cleaning and organization, sometimes there are things that I cannot put into any particular category. All of these miscellaneous items are dumped into my “Other Things” closet.

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Behold my closet of junk. (In my excitement to reorganize this closet, I had already unscrewed off the doors. Apologies! I will try to remember to stop and snap some photos for future projects!) I think that part of the reason why this closet even exists is because of those pesky doors: they allowed me to conceal the mess and the ugly hiding inside. Every time I opened those doors, I would cringe and shut them again. I don’t want to be feeling guilty in my own room, and so I decided to clean everything out and give the closet an easy, renter-friendly refresh.


I got my inspiration from these built-in shelves. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term “built-in”, it basically refers to anything that was factored into the design and architecture of a space, making it look like it was literally built into the area.

Source: Lolly Jane

Polka-Dot-Wrapping-Paper-Backed-BookcaseSource: Oh My Dear

I love how built-ins are not only functional, but also aesthetically pleasing. I especially like that you can either paint or wallpaper the backs of the shelves to give a pop of color. Since everything in the closet would now be out in the open, I would be forced to get rid of the things I don’t need and figure out a way to store everything in a way that is pleasing to the eye.

wall-of-bookcases-cgSource: Censational Girl

As much as I loved the cute patterns and textures in those first two pictures, the space that I am working with is small and in the corner of my room. Also, while the minimalistic decor balanced out the busy patterns in the first two pictures, there are a lot more books and knick knacks featured with a less chaotic background in this last picture.

I wanted to emulate the streamlined look of this last inspirational picture, but still maintain the happy and playful feel of the first two.

How I Did It

Step 1: Remove the Doors

Since I wanted to recreate a built-in look as much as I could with this closet, the first step would require removing the doors. That was easily done with a screwdriver. (Since this is an apartment, I kept the screws in a Ziploc bag taped to the doors and stored the doors elsewhere. I will put them back up when it’s time to move out!)

The landlord had painted over the door hinges, which left unsightly patches of unpainted wood underneath. I had a white paint pen handy, and used that to touch up and color in the necessary areas. I painted several coats.

The paint pen I had didn’t entirely match up with the existing paint; however, since I was only painting a small area and since I’m not going to stay in this apartment long-term, I was okay with it not being perfect.

Step 2: Empty the closet and start with a clean slate

Now that I had my inspiration, the next step was to start fresh and take everything out of the closet. The closet contained items ranging from extra linens to cake pop ingredients to vitamins.

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I left all of these items on the side until I was finished with Step 3.

Step 3: Add some color

I knew that I wanted to have a vibrant pinkish coral color lining the back of my closet. Being a renter, painting the walls was not an option, and so I decided to look for coral colored wrapping paper, wall paper, or contact paper. Once I got the paper, I would just measure, cut it to size, and then adhere it to the wall.

Unfortunately, finding coral colored paper in a size large enough to line the closet was much more difficult than I had anticipated. The stores I looked in either had papers with tons of elaborate designs, did not have the right shade of coral, or were way out of my price range. I didn’t want to spend all of my time looking for coral paper, and so I decided to compromise with gold wrapping paper instead. Seeing as Christmas season is just around the corner, I rationalized that I would be able to use the extra wrapping paper for presents.

Excited to finally add some color to my closet, I measured and cut the wrapping paper and then temporarily adhered it to the back of the closet with Scotch tape. I stepped back to take a look at it, but I didn’t like what I saw.

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Apart from the fact that the paper was stubborn as heck and wouldn’t stay on the wall, the color was also a bit off. I imagine it is probably because my walls (not pictured) are a light yellow/cream: since the wrapping paper was gold, it made the space look too yellow. Additionally, because that closet is in an awkward corner space away from the bedroom window, that area tends to be a bit darker than the rest of the room. I didn’t like it at all.

So it was back to the drawing board. I decided that I did not want to compromise with my original pinkish coral after all; this meant that I needed to find a way to color the back of the closet without actually coloring it. It was not until I found some large leftover cardboard boxes at work that my light bulb went off. Instead of painting the back of my closet, I would paint the cardboard piece and then use that to line my closet!

That day after work, I went straight to Home Depot to grab myself a sample size of coral paint. (8 oz. for only $2.94!)

As soon as I got home, I opened the container and painted a small section of cardboard and put it in the closet to see if I liked it. And I loved it!

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Now that I knew I loved the color in the space, I measured and cut the large cardboard pieces to fit into the six closet cubbies. (Only the closet doors were removable, otherwise I would have taken out the shelves so that I would only have to measure and cut two large pieces.) Of course, each cubby was also a different size, and so I measured every shelf space separately.

Once all of the pieces were cut, I set out to paint them all. I used a foam craft brush from Michaels that I already owned. I did the painting over several nights, as I mainly resumed this project after coming home from work.

I only painted one coat and was careful not to slather on too much paint, otherwise the cardboard would become soggy and then warp upon drying.

After allowing the cardboard pieces to dry overnight, I inserted them into their corresponding shelves using some heavy duty packaging tape to secure them in place. I completely love the way they turned out!

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Step 4: Organize and decorate

This was my favorite part of the project. I gathered the items that I no longer used on the side so that I could donate them to Goodwill.  For those items that were remaining, I determined which ones could also multitask as decorations. Using storage I already had (fabric-covered boxes and extra mason jars), I was able to consolidate and arrange accordingly. Take a look at my finished project below! (This picture was taken at night, and so I apologize for the odd lighting. I really wanted to wait until the weekend, when I could snap some photos when the sun was out, but the weather forecast predicted gloomy skies and I honestly just couldn’t wait to share this with you all!)

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Let’s go through what’s in each shelf, starting from top to bottom.

Shelf 1: Portable fan, memory box, extra storage jars, Christmas decorations, spray paint cans
Shelf 2: Cake pop supplies (candy melts, pieces of foam, cake decorating supplies)
Shelf 3: Notecards, washi tape, labels, chalk pens, chalkboard easel
Shelf 4 & 5: Handbag displays for purses currently not being used
Shelf 6: Extra blankets and throws

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Here is a breakdown of the costs (both time and money) I spent on this project:

Paint = $2.94
Cardboard = $0
Foam brushes = $0
Storage = $0

Grand Total: $2.94 & 2 weeks (evenings only; no weekends)

Why it Makes Me Happy

I love that this project: 1) cost me less than my favorite latte; 2) gave me something productive to do after I got home from work; and 3) beautified my little corner with items I already owned!

I know that for some people, all of this work that I went through seems superfluous and unnecessary, but this closet makes me smile every time I look at it–and to me, that makes all of the difference.