How To Decorate a Birdhouse

I have a Fun Friday post for you today.  Since moving to the lake, I have gotten very interested in something I never thought too much about before. It is something my mom loved to do and something my sister is passionate about. Even a few of our friends who have come to visit us over the last year, enjoy it.  In their luggage, each brought their own binoculars and guidebooks in hand as they were excited to…. bird watch. I especially like this hobby since it has given me a fun project… birdhouse decorating :)

How to decorate a bird house

Living on the shores of a big lake with lots of trees gives us a front row seat to watch nature all around us. From fish, ducks, and turtles along with big herons to tiny hummingbirds. They all have become part of our daily life, some of them feel like family.

Decorating a bird house

For my birthday last June, Ed bought me a pair of good binoculars so I could see the birds around the house and lake up close. I use them daily. Recently, while eating our Christmas breakfast we got to watch a heron catch a fish and then feast on it for his Christmas meal. Every one at the table wanted to see and the binoculars were passed back and forth so we could all watch. It was fascinating. It is like the National Geographic channel right outside our window. :-)

Bird feeder and birdhouses

After we closed on the house last year, I remember walking around the property. I noticed there were birdhouses all around the yard on trees. The previous owner also left a very nice bird feeder. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but a week later, one of my neighbors came over and told me he saw that our bird feeder was empty and he would fill it.

I was like…oh?…… OK… thanks.

I just thought he was looking for an excuse to try to get to know us, but I was wrong, he knew the birds in the area have come to rely on the food in the neighborhood feeders and wanted to keep them coming. :-)

I now enjoy filling the bird feeders on a weekly basis and have learned quite a bit about the birds in the area. Even though it is winter, we still see Cardinals, Bluebirds, Pileated Woodpeckers and many others.

In the spring we saw the resident herons had a little one, where there was once two, there were now three hanging out and one was half the size of the other two. Same with the ducks. Two became 10 and those 8 little new ones were the cutest. When things were quiet outside, you would see the baby ducks and their momma come all the way up to the bird feeder to eat the discards on the ground the birds didn’t like. As soon as I would open the door to get a closer look…. off they scurried, in a line… double-time back to the water. :-)

Painted bird house

The same neighbor who filled our bird feeder when we first moved to the house is also a woodworker and one of the things he enjoys making from scratch is birdhouses. He made one for Ed with his alma mater, the Naval Academy logo on it.  Bluebirds have taken up residence in it.  Very fitting don’t you think?

Over the summer I bought a hummingbird feeder. The hummingbirds have left for the winter, but I am sure they will be back come spring. They are so amusing to watch.

With all the birds, it also means we see the circle of life right in front of our eyes, too. Hawks chase the smaller birds and in their pursuit to find safety they fly right into the sliding glass doors on the lake side of the house and sadly die instantly. :-(  It has happened more than once. Birds falling out of nests and birds making nests in the baskets where I keep my hats and gloves. Finches making nests in hours after I put a wreath on the front door with turquoise eggs all nested inside. I left the wreath up until I was sure all the eggs were hatched. :-)

I am a frequent customer now at the local bird store and have learned that just like us, birds like their homes to be clean, safe and comfy cozy.  They don’t like old and dirty.  I also learned that birds won’t go into birdhouses on trees where squirrels can easily get to them so I was told to take all the old birdhouses down since to birds they looked like a rundown houses and won’t take up residence in them.

How to paint and decorate a wood birdhouse with fabric and paint

When my Waverly Inspirations package came for the January creative challenge, I had no idea what I would do with the navy, green and red fabric and paint. I was pretty stumped since they are not colors I use to decorate with. It wasn’t until I was at my desk one cold afternoon and saw a bird making a nest in a bare tree, that I decided I would make a birdhouse that I could see out the door of my studioffice door so I could give a family of birds new safe and warm place to call home.

If you are new to my blog, I am a Waverly Inspirations ambassador. I, along with a handful of other bloggers receive a box of fabrics, paints, ribbons, or stencils and are challenged to create something decorative using as many of the items in the box as we can.  We can also spend up to $50 to help us make something.  I bought a birdhouse, buttons, and Exterior Mod Podge along with a few other basic crafting supplies.

How to make and decorate a birdhouse

This is how I used them…to make a whimsical birdhouse.

How to Paint and Decorate a Wood Birdhouse

supplies needed:

Everything I needed I found at Walmart.

  1. Sand the surface of the birdhouse with sandpaper to smooth and rough edges. Wipe away sanding grit.
  2. I decided to mix the paints I received to come up with a custom color, a soft chartreuse.  I mixed the paint colors, Curry and Evergreen in a small dish.  3 parts Curry to 1 part Evergreen. I used a craft stick to stir the paints to make the light green color.

3. Apply one light coat over the birdhouse. Let dry. Apply a second light coat, let dry.

Attach Buttons to Birdhouse Roof

Birdhouse painting ideas

  1. Use a piece of printer paper to make a template of one side of the birdhouse roof. Line the edges of the paper up with the front and top edge of the roof. Make a crease with your hand. This will allow give you the exact shape and size of the roof.
  2. Layout the buttons on the paper template to make sure you like the arrangement and the buttons you want to use fit well together.
  3. Starting at the top front edge, begin attaching buttons using all-purpose adhesive.
  4. Continue to attach the buttons until both sides of the roof is covered.

Cutting The Leaf Design from the Fabric

  1. I only wanted to use shades of green to decorate the birdhouse, so using very sharp scissors, I cut out the green leaves in the mostly navy blue and red fabric.

Painting a birdhouse idea

2. I attached the leaves to the front and sides of the birdhouse using Exterior Mod Podge. I applied the Mod Podge on the under side of each leaf and overlapped the leaves until the wood was covered. I used smaller leaves and cut the larger leaf design into smaller sections to cover the sides and back of the birdhouse. I did not put the fabric near the hole in the birdhouse, I covered that area with buttons.

3. Once the back and sides were covered in the cutout fabric leaves, I applied 2 – 3 coats of Mod Podge over the leaves, letting each coat dry before applying the next. Mod Podge not only works as a glue, but is a sealer that will protect the paint and fabric from the elements.

TIP: Exterior Mod Podge is thick and will be shiny when dry. Make sure when applying it to brush in one direction only so when dry, you won’t see any texture in the sealed finish.

When I was attaching the fabric leaves, I tried to create symmetry with them on the front, back and sides of the birdhouse. Once the Mod Podge was dry, I glued a few layers of the buttons to the front and around the hole.

Here is what the back looks like.  Once the Mod Podge and glue is dried, hang the birdhouse outside and wait for a new feathered family to move into the pretty new home soon. :-)

Decorate and paint a designer birdhouse. Craft idea for decorating a birdhouse with paint, fabric, and buttons.

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  1. Tyler Johnson says:

    That’s a good idea to use the leaves to decorate the birdhouse. I would think that would make it blend into the trees and make it look more appealing to the birds. I would want to make sure to have birds in the birdhouse and hopefully, that would help that.

  2. Robin Johnson says:

    Hi my name isRobin, I didn’t want to travel to to get Annie Sloan chalk paint..So I bought Waverly.
    I want to paint my fireplace, so will that work ok?? I also bought the wax,
    If you could let me know I would be grateful!!

    Thank you

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Robin –

      Yes it will work to paint a fireplace – are you painting the wood around it, stone, or tile?

  3. Kimberly ~ Serendipity Refined says:

    Hi Diane, I love your bird house! I think that they’d be darling inside for spring too!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kimberly – I agree… Inside it would stay all nice and pretty too. :-)

  4. I confess to being a closet twitcher myself. When Beloved and I are at the cabins, or just going for a walk in the forest, we will be armed with binoculars and a bird guide. Looking at your list of feathered friends, I fear I may envy your lake house even more! I hope the bird houses help to reduce your patio casualties. Sue x

  5. Hi, I hope this link might be helpful to decrease the number of glass/bird incidents. Two little birds got into my house the other day (I think through the dryer vent opening that I was in the middle of fixing and never thought birds would use). It took me at least 30 seconds to process what I was seeing. In the time it took me to get to a window and open it they had flown into every window and mirror they saw! It was so distressing for all of us. Live and learn I guess.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Liz – Sorry to hear about the birds getting into your house. That would distress me too. Thank you so much for the link to the great article on why birds fly into windows. I will look into changing a few things around our yard to see if we can lessen it from happening.

      1. Hi, Thank you for considering the birds :) – once a pigeon got into our house when we were kids and it built a nest on my brothers bed while we were at school. He was so upset he refused to sleep on the bed until he had all new bedding! So a few minutes of two birds in my house wasn’t so bad, lol

  6. Diane,
    I have been reading your blog for a couple of years now – check in every day just to see if there is a new post. I have to say, this is one of my favorite posts you have done. It really makes us think about WHY we enjoy our homes. It’s not the stuff, it’s the whole package and enjoying the wonderful world all around our homes and hometowns. My husband and I enjoy having breakfast outside on our back deck from spring through fall and, yes, that includes the little chirping spectators in the trees that go along our back fence. Good for you! May you continue to enjoy your new hobby in your new environment. And what a nice, grounding activity away from all that DIY you’re into these days!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Janet – Thanks for the nice note. I totally agree with you that our homes are so much more than the house itself or what is in it, but the whole package and the lives we lead in our homes. I purposely didn’t name my blog with the word decorating in the title for this reason. There is so much more to living, creating, making and enjoying life. I try to get outside a few times a day to enjoy nature. It relaxes and inspires me at the same time. Thanks for reading all my posts all these years. That is the best thing a blogger could ever hear. XO

  7. I put removable stickers on my Windows to prevent bird crashes but I see it was a hawk! Happened to me once too but it recovered.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Donna – That is good idea to put stickers on the glass doors. The previous owner put stickers on the upstairs inside bedroom sliders so guests don’t bump or try to walk through the glass. I kept them in place. From the outer side, it all looks dark to the poor birds that fly into them. :-)

  8. Margaret Fretwell says:

    Would you mind sharing the type of binoculars you have – brand, strength, etc.?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Margaret – Ed looked at Nikon and Bushnell. He bought me the Bushnell because he thought they had better clarity: Bushnell 199842 Legend M Series Binocular, Black, 8x 42 mm You can read about them on Amazon, here:

  9. Hi Diana, We started feeding the birds about 2 years ago (thanks to a gift from my daughter, a feeder like yours in the picture). We really enjoy it and we’ve added a suet feeder and a nut feeder. Out west here, we get different birds of course, but the blue jays and the woodpeckers love the nuts. It really brings joy to our lives each day. The feed is pretty pricey though and in the spring they can go through a bag a week!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mary – What a nice gift.They do bring joy to our daily life. I agree that the feed can get quite pricey. I joke that we are going to go broke buying a new bag every week, plus the Hummingbird nectar in the summer. Cha ching…cha-ching. :-) I have been trying out different brands and types to find the best for the least amount of money. I haven’t added the suet or nut feeder, but have looked at them. Since we have woodpeckers, I think I will pick them up on my next trip to the store.

  10. TerriC/HoustonLady says:

    Hi Diane,

    What a fun post!! My husband enjoys making birdhouses for our home here in Texas. I also enjoy seeing the different birds that come and visit : )
    Have a great & relaxing weekend!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Terri – Thanks. I am glad you enjoyed the post. I do enjoy writing about other interests from time to time besides decorating. :-) Happy weekend. I hope it is a relaxing one for you too. XO

  11. The next thing you need is a spotting scope! Especially if you’re mostly watching birds from one place, you’ll find it is even better than good binoculars. Have you seen the movie The Big Year with Steve Martin and Jack Black? I think you’d really like it. My husband and I have always been birders but when our nest became empty we started taking more trips to bird. We just kept a backpack ready with water bottles and granola bars and extra binoculars and our guide books and would take off to go find a snowy owl (or just eagles). Welcome to the club!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nancy – I have never heard of a spotting scope, but just did a Google search to find out more. Thanks for the tip. I have never seen the movie The Big Year . I love movies and will see if I can find it on On Demand or Netlix and watch it this week.

  12. It was such a nice Springtime blog to read in the midst of my Indiana winter today. I too feed the birds and love to see the variety who come to visit my feeders. I don’t have birdhouses out since I also feed and shelter a colony of community cats. I don’t want to tempt the cats with baby fledglings around learning to fly so I just feed the birds and then they go into the treeline just off my property to build their nests. My cats are well fed so they don’t seem to bother the adult birds at the feeders. It’s worked just fine so far. I do love building birdhouses though and have done many to give away as gifts. My grandkids always loved the birdhouses I gave them when they were little and now that they’re adults, they still recall some of Grandma’s silly paint jobs on them. Getting involved with nature is good for the soul. Thanks for posting ….

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Pat – I am happy that my post warmed up your Indiana winter day for you. :-) One of the nice things about moving to SC is that winter is very mild. It does get cold and we did get a dusting of snow last weekend, but it was gone by noon. This week it was in the mid 70’s.

      What a nice thing to make for your grandkids and better yet, what wonderful memories they have now of the birdhouses and your creativity. I agree with you that nature is good for the soul. XO

  13. If you like bird watching you may want to check out this link for 24/7 live streaming of an eagle’s nest in Ft. Myers, FL. Mrs. Eagle laid 2 eggs but only 1 hatched out ( on 12/31/16). The other egg is not viable and won’t hatch at this point.

    I think birds are beautiful but they kind of freak me out too (I think it’s their feet and the wing flapping). Nevertheless, I have found it absolutely fascinating to watch the eaglet hatch, grow, and see how both Mr. & Mrs. Eagle care for it. I’m astounded how fast the little eaglet is growing! I’ve been keeping the site up on my computer all day/every day since I found it several weeks ago and I frequently check in on the nest activity throughout the day. It’s almost addicting!

    1. I also love watching little E9…so cute!!! But fair warning…once you start you will be addicted!! Lol I find myself checking on E9 first thing in the morning before reading my emails or looking at FB. Enjoy God’s wonderful creatures!!

    2. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Shari – What a fascinating thing to watch. Thanks for sharing the link. I can understand how it can be become addicting to watch. :-)

      1. Hope you got to see it before the live feed cameras went down. So sad we haven’t been able to view what’s going on in the nest for TWO days. Hopefully they get the problem fixed SOON because I’ve kind of become emotionally invested in this beautiful eagle family and I keep wondering what I’m missing in little “E9’s” growth and development.

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Shari – I did not get to see it :-( I will keep checking back though as I am very interested and eager to see little E9.

  14. Linda Weeks says:

    Absolutely right! Diane is an inspiration! I’m happy to hear that you are now enjoying watching the birds! My aunt told me once that you get a better seat in heaven if you feed the birds… she must be in the front row.
    My mother-in-law once gave me a bird feeder for a birthday gift, and I looked at my husband and said, “We have birds??” But we’ve had no end of pleasure watching them for many years now.
    Keep your camera and binocs at the ready! You’ll be seeing all manner of creatures! Enjoy!

  15. I, too, love to watch the birds. We have had 33 different types of birds at our feeders, plus hummingbirds at those feeders. Hummingbirds are mean little suckers, tho. LOL. Someone asked where to get your feeders; Wild Birds Unlimited have great feeder systems and feeders, and also bird seed. There are local stores around the country, plus you can also shop online. My pole system and feeders all came from them. They have great products and are also very helpful. I have followed your blog for quite awhile, but this time is the first time I have commented.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Pam – Wow 33 types of birds. I think I have seen around 15. The most interesting was a huge owl. We only saw it once, but I would love to see him again. When we first moved to the house, I contacted the previous owner and she told me she bought the feeder and food at Birds Unlimited. I go there frequently now and ask lots of questions. I also found out that if any part of my feeder breaks, cracks, etc, all I have to do it bring it to them and I will get a free replacement part. My column feeders are an old style with screws. Now they make them with push knobs so it is very easy to clean them. I hope to get them replaced over the next year. Thanks for taking the time to say hi and for reading my blog. XO

  16. Seasonail (Janet) says:

    I’ll bet the woodworking neighbor could figure out how to make a trap door with a hinge so you can clean the birdhouse out. I too love your blog and your projects inspire me to tackle my own projects around my house. I tell myself if Diane can do it, so can I. I even bought a Tuft and Needle mattress based on your review and love it. A co-worker bought one at my recommendation and he and his wife love theirs also.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Janet – I bet my neighbor could make them with the tap door, he may even make a few with doors already. He makes about 15 or more a year, all different shapes and sizes that he donates to his church to sell at their annual Holiday Bazaar. He made one look like an old-fashioned telephone…so cute!

      Thanks for reading my posts for so long. It makes me happy that you get inspired by what I do :-) I have the Tuft and Needle mattress on the guest room bed. Everyone who stays with us, always comments on how comfy the bed is. When I tell them it came rolled up in a box, they can’t believe it! :-)

  17. Hi again! I wanted to ask you where you purchased the amazing bird feeder. Thanks!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nancy – The birdfeeder is from Birds Unlimited. It is a national chain. We found out from the previous owner where she got it. I went to the store to buy bird food and the owner told me that once you buy one of their feeders, if anything breaks or becomes unusable I can just bring it in and get a free replacement. The column feeders on my feeder are an older model with screws at the bottom. To clean the feeders, you need a screwdriver. Now they make them so you simply press and the bottoms clicks open to clean the bottom that does get gunked up with old food. One is cracked so I think I am going to take it and get a replacement soon.

  18. Guess what ?? I have become an avid bird watcher too! Not only here in NJ but at our Lakehouse as well!! I love watching the hummingbirds. They are so fascinating.
    We put a double feeder up this fall in NJ. We have so many different birds who come to feed. I love the Cardinals with their bright red plumes. My grandson who is 4 was so taken by the feeder, asked his parents to buy one for him in Florida!! So much fun!
    Btw love the “N” birdhouse!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nancy – Your grandson sounds so cute. I hope his parents bought one for him. :-) My neighbor John loves the fact that Ed went to the Naval Academy and along with the bird feeder has made us a Christmas ornament birdhouse and painted an old fashioned saw to display in the garage, both have the N* logo.

  19. Looks great and would be a project I would enjoy. Do the craft store birdhouses open so you can clean them out as needed? By the way, I enjoy your posts and your blog.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Linda – No, the birdhouse does not open, so if a bird family lives in it and leaves, other birds will probably not use it. That is what the owner of the bird store told me. One of these days I would like to get a bigger house that you can keep for a long time that is easy to clean and maintain. Do you know of a good one? I have been thinking of getting one with the clear back that you place on a glass window so you can see the birds at eye level without them seeing you. Not sure it they sell them in birding stores or only…as seen on TV retailers. :-)

      1. Some clever person will probably tell you how to convert a craft-store birdhouse so it opens for easy cleaning. I doubt the birds would feel secure and protected in a house with clear plexiglass (unless it has a cover). I have a couple of houses that have one side with a panel that can be riaised to view the nest; the other side can be opened to clean the house.

  20. I completely agree with the previous wtiter’s post. (Patricia). I love your blog so much Diane!!

    Thank you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kristin – Thanks so much. I appreciate you taking the time to comment and tell me. It means a lot to me. XO

  21. Patricia Wilson says:

    Diane, I’ve been following your blog since before you moved to your dreamy lake house. I’ve been following all of your projects in yours and Ed’s new lakeside home as well and love all that you’ve accomplished. Now I’m following your kitchen re-do and, as usual, admiring your design style and especially your DIY-ability. I can’t wait to see your completed new kitchen. I also enjoyed seeing your birdhouse project. I have several thrift store birdhouses, more complicated in that each is a replica of a shop of some sort…clever, but not my style. Your birdhouse design made me realize that I can re-make these birdhouses in any style I desire…in my case, approximating French cottages in Provence. Diane, I always look forward to each and every one of your posts because they always inspire me. Just so you know, I don’t comment on each and every one of them, though I could.

    You are, indeed, an inspiration, Diane.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Patricia – Thanks for the nice note. I always smile when I see your name pop up in the comments. It makes me so happy to hear that even though what I posted was not quite your style, you still came away with inspiration to give your birdhouses a new look in your own style. That is the best and why I named my blog, In My Own Style. If we all decorated and/or created in the same way….what a boring world it would be. XO Enjoy the weekend.