I just wanted to do a quick share of one of my new favorite things. For any of you who would love to dabble in some artistic endeavors but are unsure if you can do it. This is for you!!
I have been wanting to learn to paint in watercolors for years. My Mom dabbled in it and I have always been drawn to the dreamy, somewhat abstract images that the medium produces.
However, work and Momming (pretty sure that's not a word) have not allowed me time to take a class. But now thanks to the generosity of online art teachers, I am finding my happy place!
These are a few of the projects that I have learned how to do through a site called Let's Make Art. Sarah is just so charming and she really makes it so easy to follow along and produce great results...even when I have no idea what I am doing! You can either purchase their kits individually, subscribe to their kit service or just access the online tutorials and use your own materials and supplies. They make it so, so easy! I also love the idea of their gift service. At $15 per project, it's a great, affordable way to share creative arts with a loved one.
I'm also loving YouTube instructor Creations CeeCee. She gives fantastic advice on how to spark creativity and find your own look. Her videos are especially useful after you learn some of the technical basics of watercolor. Then you can play with some of her exercises to develop your own personal style. She also explains how to build your own supply inventory (so you don't waste money purchasing the wrong materials). I now have a list of cool things to request for my birthday and Christmas this year!
My goal is to set aside a couple of hours each Friday or Saturday to watercolor and sketch. It is a wonderful way to quiet my mind and de-stress from the weeks' craziness. I love love love it and am so inspired to see what these ladies can teach me next! I hope some of you will check out these resources and give this medium a try. Please share if you do!
Thanks for visiting!
Thanks for popping in! This is Chapter 4 of my office reno series. Click these links to read all about the DIY paint treatment, wall unit and butcher block countertop projects. With those stages complete, I started composing the rest of the space. The budget was tight, so you won't believe how I stretched my dollars and also infused some really personal moments into what is now one of my favorite rooms in the house. Please note that this room was not put together in a day. It evolved as I found things that spoke to me. Patience is definitely a virtue in personal design, so I encourage all of you to just keep looking when you are seeking the perfect piece. Here are the details!
Main Furnishings I'm a lover of mixing styles. While the wall unit is fairly traditional and the paint is ornate and glam, I wanted a little classic and a little modern in the mix. These three items were the perfect combination at the perfect price. The loveseat is from Target and I scored it on sale and with free shipping using my RED Card. The desk is my fave. Small, but I get twice the surface space with the bottom shelf that is easily visible because of the glass top. Only $135 from Amazon! The chair was also quite affordable and so comfy. $95 from Amazon. With my loveseat sale price, the main pieces in this room came to less than $500. Such a great deal for pieces that I love and fit the room so well.
Capiz Globe Shades This room did not have overhead lighting and I did not have the budget to hardwire, so I found plug-in bulb fixtures that I hung from the ceiling. Cord covers do a pretty good job of hiding the cords along the ceiling and walls. Not perfect, but I am ok with it. I tried several different drum shades with these fixtures, but none of them were special. And then...I stumbled upon these blingy beauties at Decorator's Outlet here in Richmond. This store offers seconds and slightly damaged goods from high end lighting company, Shades of Light, and it's a treasure box! These globe shades were $10 each!! What a score. I looked for some similarly affordable options for you, but the closest I could find was this slightly larger and more expensive version from Pottery Barn. I love the organic texture and reflective quality that they bring to the room.
IKEA Hack Coffee Table Never underestimate the power of a can of spray paint. This is a popular hack that is all over Pinterest and it was the perfect solution for my glam office. It's a small room, so I wanted something glass that wouldn't take up too much visual space. And gold. So the answer was this coffee table from IKEA and a champagne finish gold spray paint. $80 for the whole thing. Not bad! (If you prefer, you can separate the two tables and use one as a coffee table, one as an end table. I love that versatility!)
Personalized Art This may be one of my favorite things in the house, but I am not going to lie to you. It was not as easy as is advertised. It started with 2 favorite photos of my twins (yes, I know. They are obviously fraternal). I wanted to turn them into paintings, but as crafty as I am, I am not a fine art painter unless I have something to copy. So I thought "wouldn't it be great if I could have a paint by number kit of these photos"? Well. Ask and you shall receive, I guess. I searched and found this company, Easy 1-2-3 Art, that offers custom paint by number kits of your photos. I loved the modern impressionistic effect that they offered, which you can manipulate until you get the look that you want. So I ordered and was thrilled when they arrived. I got to painting right away, but was dismayed that the included paints were not at all matching the original photo colors. The entire palette was much darker than it should have been. So, I bought some white paint and set to work lightening every single color. It was a pain and the project took me months rather than weeks. However, I love love love these paintings. A little abstract, colorful and full of subject matter of my favorite things on earth. It was all worth it.
Family Travels Map Travel is a huge part of my life. I spent many years working in the entertainment industry, visiting 5 continents and some of the most amazing places on earth. I also want to infuse that wanderlust in my kids and show them how important it is to experience and appreciate different cultures. This map documents the places that I or we have been and it was a cinch to put together. I simply found a large map printed on fabric (online) and secured it to an art canvas using duck tape. Push pins represent all of the places that we have been thus far. Hoping to one day cross off the other 2 continents!
Made-it-myself macrame I have a few tried-and-true design tricks that I always recommend for clients and use in my own home. One of them is to mix up wall decor so that you don't end up with all photos or all art, etc. So my general "wall rule of 3's" is to use at least one piece of art, one mirror and one textile or organic accessory per room. This formula adds so much interest and keeps the room from looking flat and one-note. I've loved macrame since I was a kid in the 70's. It was my go-to craft of choice. So when it came back recently, I was not about to buy one already made! I found this pattern on Etsy and whipped this up while we were watching a football game. It's not a complex design, but it sure does make me happy and I love the texture that it adds to the room. And the best part is that it is a really affordable piece of large-scale art.
Hide & Seek Shredder These photos speak for themselves. Ingenious, right? Thank you, Pinterest ;)
Well, that's it for the office series! I hope you found some nuggets of inspiration that you can use in your own home.
Stay tuned for some more money-saving DIY projects, including the big reveal of my neighborhood clubhouse makeover. This was affordable transforming at its best!
Thanks for visiting!
Hammer Time: Fancying up the office with paint
I promised you more on the office revamp, so here are the details of the paint. Keep in mind, this part of the project is a few years old and many owners might now look to wallpaper for a similar effect. For those who haven't noticed, wallpaper is definitely back in and textile technology has progressed eons, making it easily removable. It's not cheap, however. But this treatment was SO budget-friendly and I was able to scale it exactly the way I wanted it. I'm tellin' you people, DIY can save you gazillions! The best part is that years later, I still really like this (I'm a sucker for a little bling). Here's the step-by-step.
I was back and forth on a new color for this room and after some trial and error, decided to stay with the neutral background that we have in the foyer and halls. I'm happy with that, as it gives a more peaceful transition between the downstairs spaces. However, I wanted something in the room to make it special. I had been coveting a stencil that I had seen on Pinterest, so I decided to give it a try here. To the left is the inspiration shot. The tone of this home reminds me alot of some of the areas in our home, so I was pretty sure it would work.
When I started researching the technique, I found that the ready-made stencils can be quite expensive. This design was about $50, plus shipping. Too much for me! So, I set about creating my own pattern. Not a stencil, per se, but more of a tracing technique. Photos of the process are above:
I folded a piece of letter size paper into quadrants. Then with the folds on the left and bottom, I sketched out 1/4 of the medallion. This took a little trial and error to get the right curves, angles and proportions, but it was not difficult.
I re-folded the paper and cut on the line that I drew.
Then I did the same thing to create the inner line of the medallion, stacking them to make sure the points were lining up and the lines were the proper width.
This paper was too flimsy to use as the actual pattern, so I transferred the designs to poster board that I painted the background color. Before applying to the wall, I set out to the find the perfect accent color. I love the metallic effect in the inspiration pic, so I experimented with several colors to get that effect. I ended up combining light champagne and gold toned acrylic craft paint...perfect!
Time to cut out the medallions and start tracing! This was a very time-consuming process, mostly because I used a level to make sure that the outer medallions were lined up straight. Once the outer medallions were traced, the inner tracings were pretty easy to align.
I tackled this over several days - grabbing an hour or two when I could. It took alot longer than a stencil probably would have, but I am beyond thrilled with the result! You can't tell by the picture, but from one direction, the accent color reads darker (like you see here), and when the light hits it, the accent is lighter and metallic...just like the inspiration! It's pretty much one of the first things you see when you walk in the door and I love the tone is sets for the rest of the house. A little bit ethnic, a little bit glam and totally DIY...that's me!!
Next time, I'll show you all the fabulously inexpensive and personal accessories that really make the room sing. You won't believe how little money they cost!
Thanks for popping by!
On to the next phase of the playroom to office transformation. Cabinets were complete, but I had alot of trouble finding a countertop that I liked and could afford. So, I took a leap and made my own. Here's the step-by-step of that process.
Here's where we left off. Check out this post to see how I turned stock kitchen cabinets into a custom office wall unit.
As with all my projects, I have an aesthetic in mind and then have to find a way to make it affordable and try not compromise my dream too much. The desktop for this unit was a big hiccup in that department. I looked at pre-fab countertops. Decent price, but felt that they looked too kitchen-y. Really wanted butcherblock, but was not able to find an affordable option. IKEA recently discontinued a perfect option, so that was out. So, back to the drawing board...make my own. Our neighborhood has a property manager/maintenance person on staff whom I have befriended. He has been a great mentor to me, popping by to check out my projects and offer tips here and there. So, Larry was my first stop when I started brainstorming this idea. I explained my plan and he gave me a sanity check and helped tweak where I needed tweaking. Thanks SO much to Larry!!
Back to Lowe's and the lumber department. I needed 10' lengths in a variety of widths, which I would attach together to form a 26" deep desktop. I went with 10", 8", 6" and 4" wide planks. I was not in the habit of buying lumber, so Larry helped me realize that even though these boards say 10" wide, for instance, they are actually a 1/2" less than that. So, all of mine did equal 26" wide, not 28". A convoluted system, if you ask me.
Once home, (I am lucky they did not snap in two when I shoved them in the back of my CRV), I laid them out in the order that I wanted them and marked the back and left/right sides of each board.
Fast forward a few days later...then came the tricky part. I had to move very quickly, using strong wood glue to attach the boards to each other (without letting the glue seep out) and then clamp them securely together...but not too tightly as I did not want them to buckle. Once glued, I had to attach cross-braces to the underside (as shown in the next to last photo below). I did one in the center, and one about 15" in from each end. Again, thanks to Larry for those tips.
The wood was not perfectly cut at the mill, so there were some differences in thickness in some areas as well as a few small gaps in between boards. I had to use wood filler on some areas to minimize those. Here's the raw surface.
I hated the next part. I had to use an orbital sander to try to get a more even and smooth surface. This process creates SO much dust..and I did not have a mask on. So I coughed for the remainder of the day and am convinced that this exacerbated a cold that eventually turned into bronchitis. Lesson learned.
I finally got it as smooth as I was going to get it and then started the staining process. I wanted a rustic look..kind of a golden oak color that would not match, but would complement the maple floors. I used a wood conditioner first, then applied the stain in sections, and finally 3 coats of matte polyurethane.
I like the color of the finish. I don't like the way that it highlights the sections where I used wood filler, but I had no choice with that.
Update: These were originally made in 2012. Had I made them today, I might have chosen a stain with a little more of a neutral brown tone. But it's all fine, so no regrets.
The open desk section in between the two lower cabinets in fairly wide, so I had to figure out a way to support the weight so it didn't sag. Again, Larry suggested the ledger board, which is screwed to the studs in the wall. The back of the desktop rests upon that. I had planned to do a post to support the front, but didn't like the look of it once I got it all put together. I elected to do a bracket from the back wall instead. It's not a perfect amount of support, but I think it will work. The boys know not to sit or stand on the desk.
Here's the finished unit, with hardware, baskets and stools. Since completion, this room has evolved from kid craft space to my office work and storage unit. It houses my design supplies as well as photo albums, party supplies and stationery.
Stay tuned for the next post for details on the paint treatment, some accessory favorites and how this room evolved into my happy place!
Thanks for visiting! I hope you found some inspiration to tackle your own DIY dreams!
Hi friends. This week, I am digging out an old project whose story I thought might be worth re-telling. This room was a soup-to-nuts DIY that I completely transformed for a fraction of what it would cost to pay a pro or buy retail. There are lots of parts, so I am going to break it up into several posts. Hopefully, there are some gems here that will inspire you and solve some of your own design dilemmas.
A little history... this part of the story was originally told in a blog post from several years ago. To give a frame of reference, this room used to be my kids' shabby little playroom. Nothing spectacular...just their own space for them to hang out (although I'm now wondering why on earth I chose that yellow paint!). Once they got a little older and started spending less time in there, my goal was to turn in into a "study" where they could do homework and play games and I could craft. Here's the "before". That tyke starts high school this year (insert Mom tears here).
Phase 1 was new wood flooring throughout most of the downstairs (which we did contract out and is under the area rug above) and paint. I'll give the lowdown on the paint in a later post. Next up was building a wall unit that could provide a desk area and lots of storage. That's where this post begins. (Fast forward to 2019 and it has evolved into what might be my favorite room in the house. My office. More on that later.) There's lots to see here, so hang on to your hats. Jump into my time machine while I take you back to 2012.
The wall unit
Here we go...moving on to the next and biggest part of the project. The cabinets. I have been stewing over this addition for several years...mentally exploring all the different options for getting it done. Of course, the first requirement was that it had to be affordable, but I also wanted to make sure that it was quality. I was willing to do some install, but was hoping to not have to do too much manual labor.
I checked out all the wall unit options...IKEA, Pottery Barn, Ballard...all beautiful but way too pricey for my budget (even IKEA). Next it was on to Lowe's and Home Depot, but all the white stock cabinets were laminate/melamine. I really didn't want to go there if I could help it as the quality can be questionable. Custom products were made to last, but definitely cost-prohibitive. So, the bottom line is that there were some affordable options and some quality options out there, but no luck reconciling the two without going DIY.
I ended up going with stock cabinets from Lowe's. They are solid oak, but unfinished. More work than I really wanted to take on, but the price was right. I took an inventory of the cabinet sizes that they carried and then went home, measured the space and sketched out the configuration that would work.
Trying to save a buck, I took these home from the store myself, fitting them in the back of my CRV. It took 3 separate trips to get them all in. My back has been killing me since. But, too late to turn back..on to the painting. I cleared space in the garage and set up shop for what would be a two week process of sanding, priming and painting.
It is recommended that you remove cabinet doors prior to painting, but alas, screws do not always cooperate, so I was forced to leave the doors on for the cabinet below. Not ideal, but flexibility and trouble-shooting skills are key when DIYing. And a few curse words help ease the frustration as well ;)
Let me interject here and say that I was by no means winging it with all of these tasks. I had my iPad by my side the entire time, consulting Google, YouTube and various message boards for process, instruction and tips. This is the room that the internet built. I especially needed assistance when it came time to install the cabinets. They are darned heavy and I had to make sure that they were securely attached to the wall. This involved lots of measuring, stud-seeking (uses different skills than when I was single - haha) and calculating. The shot below shows the ledger boards that I installed to help keep the upper cabinets level and supported while the hubster and I screwed the cabinets in.
After the upper units were in, we brought in the lower and set them in place. It was so gratifying to see everything start to take shape. A couple of additional comments: I decided to leave the doors off the upper square openings and put baskets in to add some texture (baskets still to come). I also had to compromise on the height of the lower cabinets. Ideally, I would have liked to have them at a standard desk-height. However, desk-height cabinets seem to only be available by special order, so I was limited to the counter-height cabinets. They will require bar stools for seating, but I don't think the difference will bother me once everything is completed.
And now back to 2019. As you can see from the top photo, this space has grown with me over the past few years and I am thrilled with the functionality that this room offers. Especially the wall unit. So much storage for all kinds of items...photos, craft items, catalogs and design tools. And an expansive desktop to lay out materials for staging and design plan development. As I have lived with it, I think the only thing I would change is probably finding a way to extend the cabinet facade all the way to the ceiling. I'm not a fan of the gap, nor do I like filling that space with stuff. Other than that, it's a great addition to our home.
Stay tuned for more info on the countertop (also DIYed), paint, lighting, furniture and art.
Thanks for visiting!
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.
Thanks for visiting!
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.
Thanks for visiting!
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.
Thanks for visiting!
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!