You feel the creativity when you walk into Front Porch Mercantile in Moncton, N.B. A multi-coloured stairway leads upstairs and a chalkboard wall decorated with bright picture frames lists up-coming workshop classes. The shop’s main floor is full of home décor items, every paint colour imaginable, and artfully refinished furniture.
Lisa Casey and her husband, Tom Guitard, moved from Toronto to Moncton to run the shop in March 2017. For Casey, it was a dream come true when her friend Wendy Batten decided to franchise the location. “I love this,” she says. “I was always painting crazy flooring and refinishing furniture at the cottage.”
One of Casey’s favourite parts of owning the store is teaching classes in the bright upstairs workshop. A popular class this season is the Rustic Mason Jar Holiday Centrepiece workshop. Casey’s adapted the steps for East Coast Living—make a personalized centrepiece that shines all year.
1. Gather your supplies
You need: 8-foot boards of knotty pine (4 inches by one inch), 12 two-inch nails, three 500-ml mason jars, three different colours of chalk-style paint, several feet of ribbon or jute, two 2- to 3-inch handles, plus 220-grit sandpaper, hammer, drill or screw driver, glue gun, and measuring tape.
You’ll also need twigs, foliage, leaves, and pinecones. What you put in your centrepiece depends on the look you want. We used faux foliage from a crafting store for a modern fall look, but you can use fresh winter greenery to bring the outside in.
2. Cut your wood
The board yields enough wood to build two boxes. To build each box, you’ll need to cut your wood into three 10-inch pieces, and two 5.25-inch pieces. Be precise with your measurements or your box may not fit together.
No saw? No problem. Ask the staff at your local hardware store to cut it for you.
3. Assemble your box
The two small pieces of wood will be the ends of your box. Mark holes near the corners of each, and hammer your nails half-way in before assembling your end pieces to the front and back of the box. This will make it easier to drive the nail all the way in.
Once your end pieces are nailed to the front and back of the box, forming a rectangle, mark two holes about a two centimetres apart, one centimetre from the bottom of the box. Hammer two nails half way in to each side, being careful not to hammer all the way through the end pieces yet.
Slip your base, the final long piece of wood, into the box and finish driving your nails.
Paint your box a solid colour for a simple look. For a distressed look, coat the box thickly in a dark colour, let dry for 20 minutes, and apply a lighter colour. Let dry 20 more minutes, and then sand lightly with 220-grit sand paper to expose the darker coloured paint underneath.
Apply wax with a soft cloth to protect the paint and add a vintage look.
Paint your jars in a lighter colour, let dry 20 minutes, and distress with sandpaper across the textured type on the front of the jar and around the mouth. Apply wax with a soft cloth.
5. Get a grip
Using a screwdriver or drill, fasten the handles to your box. The style of your handles will add character to your box. Try wrought iron-style handles for a vintage look or brushed metal for a contemporary look.
6. Arrange your box
7. Arrange your foliage
When choosing foliage and twigs, select an array of sizes, with your longest pieces being about one and a half times the height of your jars. Arrange the shorter heavier pieces first, and then fill with thinner, taller pieces to add dimension. Trim as needed.
8. Admire your handy work
Casey says a project like this can easily be customised to your personal style and home décor. For a year-round look, paint your jars and box in colours that compliment your décor, and avoid gluing any accents to the jars. This way you can swap out the foliage with the seasons.
Bonus idea: Holiday-themed centrepiece
Make this project the perfect Christmas decoration by using reds, greens, and yellows, and use pine or spruce bows for foliage.