This project leans a little bit more crafty than construction, but it's one that brings me so much joy.
I was originally inspired by a stunning chandelier that my husband and I saw in a Portland, Maine shop. It was huge and raw and organic and captured my heart. Alas, I don't really have the space or budget ($9,000!) to be able to house that particular light, but I knew that I somehow wanted to incorporate oyster shells into my decor.
Fast forward a couple of months and I was visiting with two of my dearest friends at one of their river cottages in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Now these friends go all the way back to middle school, through high school, college, weddings and kids. They are those kind of girlfriends. Although we all live a few hours apart, we try to gather together every couple of months to recharge and reconnect and just be.
As we were sitting on the beach during that visit, I noticed that the shoreline was almost completely covered in shells. Oyster shells. Jackpot! My friend graciously allowed me to collect as many as I wanted and I set to work brainstorming.
While I knew I wanted to make a light of some sort, I wasn't sure what design I wanted to execute. So in the meantime, as I was perusing Pinterest, I found a lovely sphere made of oyster shells. It was a great, quick project to tackle while I continued to figure out the light design. Details on my chandelier to come in a later post!
I washed the shells thoroughly in a mild detergent. I also added a splash of bleach to help kill any tiny sea bugs. After they were dry, I loved the luminescent, almost metallic look that was found on the inside of the shells and I wanted to play that up. So I decided to paint them to make that finish more pronounced.
I mixed together these two craft store acrylic paints from Michael's and tested on one of the shells. Martha Stewart Pearl and DecoArt Champagne Gold did the trick. Initially, I was worried they would be too opaque and hide all the gorgeous shade variations in the shells, but the finish actually went on perfectly. Just sheer enough to add some glam while highlighting the natural beauty.
The next part was easy peasy. Using a hot glue gun, I added glue to the narrow end of each shell and inserted them one at a time into a white styrofoam ball. I tried to keep the pattern somewhat random, while placing them as close together as possible.
The result...a lovely addition to my tablescape and a beautiful reminder of friendships that last, no matter how many decades and miles pass between.
I hope you are inspired to make something to bring a personal touch to your space and remind you of cherished memories with the special people in your life.
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Who doesn't love a great before/after story? This Spring, I have begun work with a wonderful Richmond company called Outdoor Dreams. They are masters of hardscape and landscape design, helping homeowners realize visions of gorgeous and livable exterior retreats.
I recently came on board to do final staging of their completed projects. After the final construction elements are finished and the furnishings are in place, I work with photographer Becky of Becky Rees Creative to bring each space to life. It's truly a dream team!
This first collaboration was a complete renovation of the homeowner's backyard. Outdoor Dreams designed everything for them, from the back of the house to the edge of the property line. The undeveloped lot was transformed to include a versatile Techo-Bloc patio space, custom pavilion, gas fireplace, outdoor television and audio, stepping stone walkway, asphalt driveway, custom shed, water feature, aluminum fence, outdoor lighting and a low maintenance landscape.
Take a look at what the lot looked like before work began.
Fast forward a few months and look at how this gorgeous property is coming together! Who wouldn't love that gas fireplace that comes to life with a touch of a remote? And the outdoor TV and sound system that truly makes this pavilion a living room? I'm not sure if I would ever want to go back inside. So luxurious! Construction was completed last Spring and plantings were then installed, allowing them the year to mature.
The homeowners also worked with Outdoor Dreams to select furnishings designed to perfectly complement their new backyard rooms. The matching couch and loveseat provide plenty of seating and the large dining table comfortably seats 6.
Finally, it was time to apply the finishing touches. I layered on accessories in a palette of whites and soft blues and staged the space for a cozy weekend morning vibe. Becky worked her photography magic and here you go! We are all so pleased with this end result.
I can't tell you know much I am enjoying working with the team at Outdoor Dreams. Greg's creative vision is inspiring and I am so impressed with the professionalism of his entire team. If you are thinking about tricking out your backyard, I strongly encourage you to check out their website, www.outdoordreamsva.com and give them a call. All of these gorgeous after images are Becky's artistry. Reach out to her at http://beckyreescreative.com/ for all your photography needs!
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Here's a recent project that I am rather pleased with. Our powder room was about as dull as they come. Other than tiling the floor when we first moved in, I simply had not put that much effort into it. Which is a shame, because I think powder rooms are one of those spaces where you can go nuts injecting color and personality. If I had the time and money, I would do a bigger reno...tiling the wall, new vanity, etc. We have bigger fish to fry, however, so I decided to put some lipstick on it and call it a day. But, I have to say, I am kind of liking this lipstick.
Up until now, this room was the same beige that was painted by the previous owners and the only decor was a collection of art that we had found in our travels. We had developed a bit of a theme, with streetscape-type art from favorite places. Definitely a personal touch, evoking great memories.
I didn't want to replace that collection, but I also didn't like having those pieces randomly placed on the wall. So, I decided to group them on picture ledges, making them easy to add to or switch out if I felt inspired. These ledges needed to fit the space and I wanted a particular finish, so I decided to make them so I could customize them to my needs.
These were really quite easy to build. I used premium pine lumber to limit the number of knots and imperfections.
Here's the supply list:
- (2) 6' lengths of 1x2 Select Pine boards
- (2) 6' lengths of 1x3 Select Pine boards
- (2) 6' lengths of 1x4 Select Pine boards
- Fine grit sandpaper
- Wood glue
- Circular saw
- Nail gun
- Minwax Stain in Provincial
- Clean rag and gloves
When you are purchasing your lumber, make sure the boards are cut straight and not warped. Just place one end on the floor and one at eye level. Turn the board vertically and look down the length of board to make sure it's straight. If it's not, choose another one until you find a good one.
Cut your boards to your desired length and then sand the ends. I made my shelves 32" long, so I was able to get 2 shelves from the lumber that I purchased.
Then arrange them as shown. The 4" board is the back, the 3" is the bottom and the 2" is the lip.
Apply a thin line of wood glue to join the boards and then secure them with the nail gun. Try not to get any glue on the outer surfaces of the wood as it will interfere with a smooth stain application.
I love the Provincial finish of stain. It's a neutral medium brown. Not too dark, not too red. I just used a rag to lightly rub an even coat of the stain onto the wood.
You have a couple of options for hanging. I have seen some picture ledges screwed directly into the drywall. I think is a good option if you have a longer ledge and you can hit the studs for a secure mount.
I elected to use a cleat-type hanger. These come in different lengths and have a level built in so they are quite easy to install. Available at Lowe's and Home Depot. This type of installation does not guarantee a completely flush mount to the wall, but it's strong and the slight tilt does not bother me.
,Other additions to this room include:
- Fresh paint. Sherwin Williams Anew Grey on 3 walls and my fave, Sherwin Williams Seaworthy, on the focal wall.
- Champagne Gold-framed round mirror (Lowe's)
- Champagne Gold knobs (Target), toilet paper holder and towel holder (Amazon)
- Tassel hanging that I made with a twig, yarn and wood beads. I love adding something textural and organic to a room.
- And my favorite addition, my ultra glamorous light (Wayfair). Every powder room needs a little bit of bling!
I added a few geometric prints from IKEA to balance out the other art. The black frames unify everything. I'm still in search of the final touch for this room...removable wallpaper for the ceiling. Trying to decide on a color/design. When it comes to powder rooms - have no fear!
I'm in the process of making more ledges, which I will hang in the upstairs hallway to house family photos. I like keeping photos gathered in one space and on ledges so I can mix them up and easily add new ones. Again, I like to put them all in black frames for a more cohesive look. Keeping them centralized also opens up space for art and accessories elsewhere in the house, which are usually the real workhorses in pulling a room's design together.
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I have a friend who used to call me Crafty Cathy. It's simply rare that I meet a project I don't like. And I tackle all sorts of things... to save money and flex some design muscles, but also to learn new skills. Tiling, carpentry, flooring, upholstery and tons of art and decor techniques have all been crossed off the list.
Those who know me well know that my house is a product of DIY projects, hacks, and arts and crafts and I absolutely love sharing how I made these things.
So, I'm creating a new series I like to call "Hammer Time" (insert groan here;) to show you all how easy it is to elevate your decor into something really personal and special. And save tons of money in the process.
First up is my take on a favorite IKEA hack. This is the RAST dresser. It's a very affordable $39.99 and is solid pine. However, out of the box, it's a pretty nondescript piece.
My mission was to create a statement piece for my entryway. As you walk in my front door, the facing wall is fairly narrow, so I was having trouble finding something to fit. And I wanted something colorful to draw people in and introduce the palette. I knew that, with a few changes, I could make this into a modern and functional piece.
As I was brainstorming this piece, I was also working on refining an accent color palette to carry through the house. I knew I wanted a deep teal blue - a favorite of mine since childhood. So I took some cues from a recent art purchase and landed on Sherwin Williams Seaworthy (7620). The print is by a local artist named Holly Markhoff and it reminds me of all of the amazing sister-friends that I am so blessed to have. Love it!
Next step was figuring out how to make the bottom of the chest flush and how to attach legs to make it taller. All I had to do was cut a 1x4 to size for the front and secure a couple of 1x2s on the underside to provide a way to anchor the leg brackets.
The legs were from Home Depot. Unfinished wood with silver bottoms, which I spray painted gold. Once assembly and painting were complete, I finished it off with these handles from Wayfair (12 5/8" center bar pull in Golden Champagne). Before painting, I had to patch the existing knob holes and drill new ones, but that was pretty painless.
And voila! My new, one-of-a-kind entry chest went from dorm room drab to delightfully me! I may play around with adding some trim to the drawers...just to give it some dimension. But, I love it for now and it's a great source of storage. Candles, linens and seasonal goodies all now have a home. Helpful tip: In a small area, I always recommend that furnishings have a function as well as beauty. It's a win-win.
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This area is designed to house a treasure trove of helpful information. I'll include timely staging and decor tips, and industry data that will help sell houses!