Horse Squared: Colorful DIY Bookends

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! We’re celebrating with Burger, Clara, each other, and a photography crew in our house for the third straight week. But there’s a twist today: we’re trying not to vomit! Poor Clara got sick the entire evening on Saturday and into the morning on Sunday and now it appears that John and I have the bug… but the show must go on! The good news is that we finished all of our secret projects so we just have to get the last 20 in the can by Friday and we’re done-zo. Oh yeah and we’re supposed to shoot some cover shots tomorrow (ahhhhhhhhhhhh) but we won’t think about that right now. So Happy V-day from our slightly green household to yours! Now let’s horse around a little…

I’ve started to realize that my little self-imposed “Dude, Get On That Already” challenge should probably just be called “So I’ve Been Hoarding Little Animal Friends And Now I Get To Spray Paint Them.” Here’s Exhibit A and Exhibit B. Although, in my defense I’ve apparently been hoarding other things like coat hooks and old light fixtures too, so it’s not like I have a spare room full of ceramic animals. Yet. But I did have these guys that we bought for $2.50 each almost exactly a year ago in Delaware in a whirlwind thrift-store-palooza. And then they sat in our playroom for 12 months. Poor guys.

But I had big plans for these little orange and black sponge painted horse heads from the start. First I gave them a few thin and even coats of primer (slippery ceramic things like this usually do best with some spray primer before any spray paint).


Here they are all primed up and steely gray:


But spring is in the air! So some happy yellow spray paint was just what the doctor ordered.


It took about five thin thin thin coats (more of a mist than a real coat of paint). You really want to just hold the can about 12″ away and keep your arm moving the whole time (there are more spray painting tips for ya right here). After a few days of letting them cure outside in the carport I brought those babies in and put them to work:



Who’s ready for warm weather and cherry blossoms and birds singing? This girl (points to self with yellow spray painted thumbs).

So that’s the story of two $2.50 thrift store book ends that sat in the playroom for a year collecting dust. One more thing off the ol’ list and out of that room. Hurrah! At this rate the room will be empty and ready for a big makeover in about three years. Haha. Kidding. But I still have a ways to go, which is why I love forcing myself to tackle one small thing we week. It’s do-able and not too overwhelming, but it definitely adds up to 4-5 little accomplishments each month along with some other big projects that we’re juggling (like zee book and zee kitchen). Did I just get French for a second? Anyway, the weirdest thing is that sometimes these little projects make me beam the most. How strange is that? It’s the little things.

What have you guys been up to? Are there any other Dude Get On That Already challengers who have tackled things that need to be cleaned/organized/painted/etc? Anyone else trying not to lose their lunch on V-day? Do tell.


  1. says

    Your challenge inspired me to pull the house paint out of storage and touch up all of those “you can’t be serious” spots around the house.

    You know, like the hole I patched with spackle but didn’t repaint…2 years ago. {eek}

    So 2 years of thinking about doing took me about 45 minutes to do in total. :)

  2. Sara says

    I just did this last weekend to a pair of owl bookends that I picked up at the antique mall here in Austin! They’re gray right now, but I’m really feeling your yellow so mine may be destined for another go-round with the spray paint. I think that doing the same project makes me an official YHL-er, right??

  3. Karen F says

    Wow, I would never have given those a second look if I saw them in their original state, but you made them beautiful!

    Hope you all feel better soon!

  4. says

    Oh I love them! I’ve been looking for ceramic horse heads for months now and can’t find any that are in this more classic shape (as opposed to cheesy cowboy-ish ones at HobLob). I did just find three amazing antique solid brass rocking chair horses, though, so I’m quite happy for awhile.

    You’re so right: it’s the the little things. :)

  5. Katie says

    Love them! I found a similar set of horse head book ends this past summer at a thrift store while on vacation. My sister thought I was crazy for buying them, they were $6 for the pair and two totally different colors but now they are spray painted glossy white and look great on my bookshelf! She would never admit it, but I think now she’s jealous :)

  6. says

    You are rubbing off on me! I have a future project planned (waiting for sunnier days) to spray paint a ceramic piece, something I would have *never* considered before. Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. says

    Further evidence that we should be friends: I have almost these exact bookends in our living room (holding up my collection of the new Penguin classics hardcover books. Swoon). Our bookends are shiny white at the moment, but I could see that changing.

  8. Anya says

    I was definitely “dude, get on that..” this weekend when I finally tidied everything up and organized from our move 4 weeks ago.. Nothing like a housewarming party to get your act together! Next up is starting a picture frame wall, like your hallway, and hanging bedroom curtains with our new drill!

    I love all your cute ceramic animals and I need to do some thrifting to find my own :)

  9. Sherry from BC says

    Such a shot of lovely sunny colour next to your globe…..I love globes. I have picked up several thrifting and they always make me smile. The pop of yellow really sets off the books. Hope the bug isn’t too horrible for you with all you have on your plate right now. It always amazes me how much you accomplish. I have been trying to do one thing a week along with you. I have managed so far this year and it does chip away at the huge to do list. Can’t wait to see your book. Ginger ale and crackers for everyone!

  10. says

    Speedy recovery to all of you! Cleaning up vomit is one of the worst… The bookends look great and the color works perfectly with the office. Even though winter has been pretty mild this year, I’m still ready for spring to come already :-)

  11. says

    Oh goodness. I hope you all feel better soon.

    Though, this is how my (now) husband and I spent our very first Valentine’s Day. Back when we first started dating my husband (very new boyfriend at the time) thought he had food poisoning so we scrapped our date of lunch at Cheesecake Factory and a trip to the Planetarium (huge geeks, I know)and I went over to his apartment to take care of him with gatorade and saltines. Not exactly a dream date, especially when the next day I got it full force!

    Now it’s kind of a joke with us though – like “Well, at least we’re not puking!” :)

    Stay hydrated over there! and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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