Winter Wreath DIY

Are you experiencing withdrawals after putting away your Christmas decorations?

You, my friend, are not alone.

Now that the new year has come, my sparkle quotient is running seriously low. Luckily, I have a most brilliant husband who recommended I make some “winter” decorations that weren’t specific to any particular holiday. (Yes, we talk about how I feel about putting away Christmas decorations, and he listens sincerely and makes helpful suggestions.) I hit the ever-craft-loving jackpot with him, folks.

At his suggestion, I began setting aside blue, gold, and silver ornaments and accessories from my Christmas tree when I was putting it away. (I had a blue themed tree a few years in a row so there was plenty of wintery swag to spare.)


I also broke out my giant box o’ glue. Adam says I should join “hot gluers anonymous.”


Lastly, I had a straw wreath on hand from a Christmas wreath I never got around to making. Optional: The watchful cat who’s just mad he got kicked out of “his circle straw bed.”


By now you know I’m terrible at taking “in progress” pictures… (sorry!) but basically, I laid out all my materials around the outside edge to see how it all needed to be arranged to get the best coverage. Thank goodness for the poinsettias! Those made for a great flexible filler.


I just went one piece at a time, placing a mound of hot glue where I wanted each trinket, until I had the front of the wreath all covered. (I left the plastic wrap on the wreath and used a screw driver to dig “pilot holes” for certain sprigs as needed.)

Lastly, I found a little peacock guy that needed a home, and popped him into the bottom left of the finished wreath. 20140106-213257.jpg

Here’s how it turned out:


It feels like this cost next to nothing since I had the supplies on hand, but realistically it’s probably a $15 or $20 project. The straw wreaths are $4-$5, clearance ornaments are maybe $10, then a few bucks for glue sticks. Total project time was maybe an hour, but I was also watching Jimmy Fallon Late Night so I was doing some serious multitasking. It probably wouldn’t take a more dedicated crafter more than 30 minutes or so.  😀

Anyway, hope this inspires a little “winter decorating” and decor recycling of your own! XOXO


Dining Room Update: Box moulding, cheapie curtains, and more!

At long last, we have a functional dining room!


When we moved in, this was a formal living room that we knew we’d never use. I searched and searched and finally found a layout for a dining room / sitting room combo from the design team at Ballard (


This ended up being the perfect solution for such a long room where we hoped to accommodate a lot of people.

It took a lot more effort than we originally thought, but we finally got the chandelier moved from the old dining room to the new. (We had to tap into an existing electrical box in the attic, run new romex to a new wall switch – not to mention cutting a hole in the ceiling in just the right place… no pressure!) But that made such a huge difference in the look of the room, with the added benefit of not having to eat by lamplight / candlelight anymore. (Let’s face it – it’s only romantic when it’s elective!) We also moved the couch into the seating area at the end of the room… it’s the perfect landing spot for Adam and his near-nightly food coma.


So you know how Better Homes and Gardens sends out about 50 emails a week with “quick and easy” decorating ideas? Well I actually found a usable idea… check out my super sweet stag / gold branch pillows! I almost feel guilty that they cost about $2.00 apiece. Those are clearance “holiday” placemats from Target – ripped open and stuffed with batting. I call this one my “Frankenstein” pillow…


…on account of it’s stitched back together pretty roughly… but we’ll keep that between us! The others went back together almost undetectably since they were stitched at the edge. This one had a double hem so I had to open it up inside the second stitch.


The old dining room is becoming a “keeping room” of sorts. It looks somewhat better now that the chandelier is gone and we have a regular ceiling light in there. Not exactly sure how we’re going to end up decorating it, but for now it’s a great entertaining space. The console table on the left is perfect for serving drinks, and the doors at the back of the room open up onto the back porch. Mostly, it’s where I drink my coffee and eat my cereal in the morning since we don’t yet have an eat-in area in the kitchen.


Last weekend I decided to start tackling the box moulding project in the dining room. I had already hung the chair rail and acquired the paint, base cap trim, and other supplies that I would need. I started by painting the bottom part of the room in semi-gloss white with a roller and trim brush. By far the easiest paint job, EVER. Slapping paint on with total disregard for the edges – yes please!! Since the chair rail, base boards, and window frames were all covered in the same semi-gloss paint, it mattered zero if I overpainted in those areas.


Here’s what the half wall looks like with a couple coats of white paint while it awaits the moulding detail:20140105-233827.jpg

Once I had the half wall painted, I started hanging the box /picture moulding. I don’t own a compound miter saw, but I do have a table saw that I got at Goodwill (score!). I was able to make the 45-degree cuts, but they still weren’t perfect because of the off-ish angle of the saw blade. Luckily, we have caulk for that! Here is a painfully close-up shot of one of the boxes:


And here’s what they look like from a normal distance to the naked eye. (Notice I still need to sand and paint around the new light switch.)


This wall was a little tricky because of the air vent intake… I looked online and found a bunch of ways to address this issue (you can alter the shape of the box by skirting around the vent) – but I consulted with my husband and he wanted me to just terminate the moulding into the sides of the vent. Now I just need to give it a coat of spray paint – it looked plenty white before, but with the superwhite semigloss latex next to it, the vent now looks a little gray.20140105-230151.jpg

Here is a closeup of how the moulding and vent live together…20140105-230923.jpg

And here is the wall behind the china cabinet, which we will hardly ever see, but for the record, turned out pretty great!


I’m loving this project because I can do a little at a time without it looking terrible. It took a couple hours to do the wall painting, then I’ve hung about 2 boxes a day and am about halfway done. (Granted, with the learning curve, I’m sure the second half will go MUCH faster.) But if you look to the left and right of the window (below), you can see that the unfinished side of the room (on the left) is not terribly noticeable.


Now, on to my easy, cheapie curtains! I had some “Goodwill specials” up there before, but they were not wide enough to fully cover the window, and they were also too long – in the kitty danger zone if you know what I mean. 😐 I got 2 table cloths (60×102) at Target on clearance for about $8.00 each. I cut them in half after trimming them to the right vertical length and hung them on my curtain rod with the clip rings I already had from the previous set of curtains.

20140105-230357.jpgNo sewing, no hem tape, NOTHING! I literally measured, cut, and clipped. The raw edge blends right in – no fraying so far!


I used the leftover fabric from the curtains (two strips of about 28″x60″) to make pillow covers for the couch to pull the room together. The placemats on the table are from the same batch that I used for the pillows. I also snagged cloth napkins in the red fabric pattern, but those are in the wash right now.  😀


Do you love my twig candelabra from World Market? Thanks Mom!

All told, it’s coming together a little at a time. Definitely a huge improvement since we first figured out the layout of the room a few months ago!




Tiffany Blue Dresser Makeover

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE a good furniture makeover. It’s so satisfying to take a piece that has been cast off and give it a totally new look so it can be appreciated again. Plus, I hate to pay retail price for ANYTHING… for obvious reasons. (Today, I saw a factory-distressed console table “on sale” for over $1,200. Such lunacy!!) But I digress….

Old dressers are great candidates because they offer TONS of extra storage and are fairly easy to paint. I found this fantastic but… well… uninspiring Broyhill dresser at Goodwill for around $25. I had already removed the drawers when I remembered to take a “before” pic. 🙂


It was missing one of its drawers and the top was pretty beat up, but since I was planning to refinish it, I figured the “flaws” would just help shape the makeover. I sanded the top really well to get rid of most of the dings and dents. As for the missing drawer, I found a piece of scrap oak at Home Depot and used one of the other drawer faces to create a template for a false front. We installed it in the bottom-right drawer space using hinges and a magnetic closure so we can flip it down and use it for our cable box and other TV components.


When I bought it, the previous owner had already removed all the pulls, which is fine because I’m sure I would have wanted to change them anyway. I bought these cool pyramid pulls on Amazon… $15 for a 10-pack.


I created the white boxes using 1″ painter’s tape around the edges of the drawer and taping off another square leaving a 1/2″ gap. I sealed the edges of the tape with a coat of the blue base color paint before painting 2 coats of white over it. That helped prevent the white from bleeding under the edges of the tape since the blue had already filled any gaps. (I learned that trick a while back and it works like a charm. There’s a great tutorial at Bloglovin…. check it out!)

As for refinishing, I used my orbital sander + sanding disks, Killz primer (1 coat), Behr “Agave” paint in satin finish (2 coats), and Minwax Polycryllic satin finish (2 coats). Here are the steps:

  1. Remove all drawers, door, pulls, hinges, etc. Place over dropcloths or outside.
  2. Sand all surfaces well to remove grime and create a good surface for the paint to stick to. I used 100 grit sanding discs.
  3. Wipe surfaces down with a damp rag or paper towel to remove dirt and sanding dust.
  4. Use a high density foam roller to apply a coat of primer to dresser, door, and drawer faces. Let dry.
  5. Rinse/dry roller and apply 2 coats of chosen paint color. (Sand between coats if you notice any bumps, ridges, or dust in the paint.) Let dry.
  6. Create white boxes using painter’s tape and white paint.
  7. Using a clean paint brush, apply 2 coats of polyurethane/polycryllic to protect from damage. (Let dry completely between coats).
  8. Install drawer pulls and put everything back together.

The total cost of this project was around $60 (that’s the dresser plus paint, primer, and drawer pulls). I saved some money since I already had painter’s tape, rollers, brushes, and polycryllic. Add another $20 for those items, and $80 is still a bargain for such a fun piece!

Hope this inspires a little furniture rescue mission in your future!



60’s Fireplace Refresh

There are a lot of wonderful things about living in a house instead of an apartment. For me, one of the things I was MOST excited about was having a fireplace mantle to decorate. Especially around Christmastime. So I was super thrilled when we bought a house with not one, but TWO fireplaces! The catch? No mantles! NO. MANTLES. The builders clearly underestimated the sheer joy to be had in decorating and RE-decorating these wonderful focal points. What’s a cozy fireplace without a mantle full of family pictures and holiday decorations? And WHERE would you hang the stockings?

We decided to tackle the one in the den first, since it gets the most face time with us and our guests.

Before: Bold & Brassy


Isn’t it so dark? Just think what it would have looked like with the original wood paneling before it was painted. It must have been like a cave in here!

To be honest, I actually love the challenge of getting this little guy brought into the 21st century. Plus it gives me an excuse to try out this fireplace makeover technique I saw from The Yellow Cape Cod via Pinterest (where else?!).


And because I’m terrible at taking progress pictures, here’s the AFTER for the whitewashing portion of the project. Instructions below!


Phase 1: Whitewashing

Here’s what I did:

  1. Mixed about a cup of leftover white latex paint with water. I started with a 2:1 water to paint ratio, but found that a MUCH thinner mixture worked better. I just kept adding water so I’m not sure where I landed, but basically you want it to look like skim milk. You can always go back over any thin spots later, but it’s much harder to un-paint the areas that have too much coverage!
  2. Sponged the paint/water mixture on very liberally with a utility rag and an old paintbrush and followed with a dry rag to catch drips.


  • Pre-mix plenty of paint and water so you have enough for the whole project
  • Cover the hearth while you paint the vertical brick… otherwise the drips will dry in little circles and will show through when you white wash the hearth. They can be sanded off, but it’s easier just to put down some paper.
  • Vacuum the cracks before you start. It’s amazing how much loose mortar “dust” is hanging out between the bricks!

It probably took about an hour and a half to whitewash the whole fireplace. It still needs some more work, but I love that you can still see the different shades of the brick. Although now that the brick is painted, the brass surround stands out even more!  😐


Phase 2: Painting the Surround

The next step was painting the brass surround using Barbecue Black. I followed the tutorial at from Infarrantly Creative, but the steps are pretty intuitive if you’ve painted before. The major twist, however, is using spray paint INSIDE. Black paint, no less. This had serious potential to get reallllll messy.

My sweet husband helped me cover all the brick around the surround with packing paper. We made sure to slip it behind the metal and the brick so no paint spray would get through the edges. We also taped off the glass panes using pieces of cardboard we cut to fit.




Then, we assembled a crude paint tent with a plastic dropcloth and a chair. Hey… it doesn’t have to look pretty to work!


I suited up in black scrubs from head to toe and covered my hair and neck with plastic bags. I even taped my sleeves over my gloves to keep any paint spray from getting on me. Finally, I put Pond’s cold cream all over my face so the paint couldn’t stick. The heavy duty breathing mask was a MUST. Not shown are my dirtbiking goggles… gotta have eye protection!

Even with the mask, I ended up holding my breath while I spray painted under the tent. The fumes were crazy toxic! I ducked in and out a few times (even running outside to get fresh air) before I finally finished spraying the whole insert.

Here’s the before and after:


I liked the black, but it still looked so… BARE! We discussed installing a floating mantle shelf, wiring it for power so we could mount the TV over it…. I mean we probably waffled back and forth for weeks looking at pricing and wiring and such. Then, one happy Saturday, I came across this “headboard” at my favorite local flea market/antique shop. Thank goodness it wasn’t being sold as a mantle… the price ranch for headboards is much cheaper!


We had to remove the fabric covered panel and trim it down to size with a skill saw (it was too deep for our fireplace). We cut it down from 16″ to 9″.

But then, we had to learn how to affix it to the masonry. That was kind of scary. I pictured future children hanging on it and pulling it off the wall. I let the husband handle that part of the show.


After: Fresh and Bright!

Finally… at long last, the mantle is securely mounted and now just needs a fresh coat of paint! And some accessories. It looks so much more balanced… I don’t know how this house lived 45 years of mantle-less life. I think it’s happier now. 😀


Just in time for Christmas! 🙂  I gotta say, this makeover took some patience. We moved in June 3 and got this done in December… but it was SO worth the wait. I love my bright, fresh, cottage-y mantle and can’t wait to hang some stockings!


Thanks for reading!



Bestie Table Twins

Have you ever had a moment where it occurs to you that you and your best friend are friends for an innate reason, beyond shared experiences and years and years of laughter and tears? It’s because you just genuinely like each other and actually like the same things! It’s amazing to go through life with someone that — despite time and distance apart — still sees things the way you see them (even if it is just when it comes to furniture).

Last week I got to visit my bestest friend 600 miles away and tour her beautiful new home for the first time. I all but totally freaked out when I walked into her dining room and found myself in the presence of my new farm table’s doppelgänger. TOO. WEIRD! But so much fun to realize how similar our tastes are. Check out the side by side:

Can you even BELIEVE how similar they are?? I gotta give it to her – she has GREAT taste. I think she found hers at Ashley or another local showroom. She definitely shares my design style but not my stubbornness when it comes to insisting on paying less than $50 for everything I buy, ever.

Anyway, I just got such a kick out of this and wanted to share.

Here’s to bestie love!


Dining room update – in progress

A few days ago, we successfully got our shiny new homemade farm table moved into the “new” dining room (formerly known as the formal living room) with the help of my sweet brother.


He also helped me rearrange the room – china cabinet and all – several times before we found a layout we liked.

Here’s where we started:


Notice the awkward “AA circle” as my bro so aptly named it. We were using our old dining chairs as placeholders to figure out if a seating arrangement would make sense on that side of the room. You guessed it! Not. Working.


Then we moved the table to the middle of the room:


And put the china cabinet in the nook along the side wall where it fits perfectly!


I think the room looks so much bigger now! Plus we have space for a seating area at the end of the room that’s nice and cozy instead of hanging out in the doorway right next to the foyer.


There is so much more to do to make it an actual dining room… Chair rail, box moulding, oh, and a chandelier maybe. You know, just a few more little major purchases! But for now, I think the giant table in the middle of the room sort of sells it. What do you think? Murph cat agrees… He can smell the food already!


Living, Dining, and Bringing the Farm to the Ranch

To me, one of the greatest joys of home ownership is sharing our space with loved ones. Specifically, I’m talking about dinner parties. What’s better than enjoying great food and conversation in the comfort of your own home? Especially for those of us – ahem… HUSBAND – who suffer from the chronic and incurable condition known as the “food coma.”

We love our adorable, comfortable home, and have also loved having the opportunity to get a little creative with how we use our space. The original dining room had great natural light and looked out over the back yard, but the dimensions were a wee too teeny for all the guests we envisioned hosting. Here is the listing picture:


Additionally, we had this big, beautiful, “formal” living room that we couldn’t really see ourselves using the way it was designed. Again… the listing picture. (I can’t believe how much furniture this room holds!!)


After pondering this too little / too much space quandary, my husband had the ingenious idea to reinvent and repurpose our space in the way we saw fit – and that meant turning the living room into a big-o formal dining room and the dining room into a sunroom. (It’s cozy enough, after all!) This of course gave me license to have a great big dining room table. WOO HOO!!!!! Happy dance. Let’s get to work!

I found a tutorial on Pinterest for a homemade farm table from the Domesticated Engineer. She provided a cut list and step by step instructions, which we printed and took to Home Depot to collect lumber and supplies. The nice man in the lumber department made all the cuts for us so it was easy to load up the car with all the pieces. We got them home and laid them out to see what the final size would be.


Turns out it will be about 7 feet long and 3 feet wide. (Don’t you love that I waited until after I bought and cut the lumber to really assess the final size?) Anyway, it’ll be long enough to fit 3 parsons chairs on each side and 1 on each end… just in case someday  we can afford that many chairs! 🙂  Here’s what it looks like all put together… thanks to my sweet, drill-wielding husband!


I gotta say, the sanding took FOREVER, even with an orbital sander. There are just so many pieces and you have to sand each one the same way, rounding off the planed edges just so. If you try it yourself, make sure you wear a dust mask! Once we got it all sanded and assembled… Adam’s work was done and it was my turn working to get it all finished. We picked a dark walnut stain… and word the wise… that stuff needs professional shaking! I had never stained anything before in my life, so when the can said to “shake before using” I figured a few cocktail-style over-the-shoulder moves would suffice. NOT! The first half was water and the last half was tar. Miraculously. it turned out OK in the end after about 4 coats. Next time I’ll have the paint folks at the hardware store put the can on the paint shaker for me. (That’s probably what it would have taken to mix it thoroughly.)

So here’s what it looks like after 3 bad coats of watered down stain and one really extra thick one:




Here’s what it looks like all finished and in its new home in the transitional dining room.


Chic of the Week – Home Style

After moving in almost exactly 3 months ago, I’m amazed at both how much and how little we have gotten done! It turns out – and everyone told me as much – that the things I thought I would be focused on took a back seat to the things that actually DEMANDED our attention.

In 12 weeks we have managed to:
• Install a brand new and very color-coordinated roof
• Have a gas leak fixed and plumb our stove for gas (goodbye glass cooktop!)
• Install a new (amazing) gas range and over the range microwave
• Install a new dishwasher a few weeks later (despite having sworn two new appliances were enough) when we finally got over the sound, smell, and size of the old one
• Replace the original 1960s Sears garage door openers with newer, quieter ones that don’t make the whole house shake when they open
• Paint the kitchen cabinets and install cabinet and drawer pulls. What. A. Job!

So, with that in mind, decorating and furnishing has been the last thing on our minds.

But now that those biggies are out of the way, I’ve become recommitted to decorating little bits at a time. I mean REALLY little bits. It was major news when I bought pillows last week! (And I was super excited to find them in a 2 pack for $20 at TJ Maxx!)

They go perfectly with our red couch and give me some great color ideas for the rest of the room… Hello, blue! By the way, this photo looked much better on my iPhone screen. Sorry about that!


I also found this adorable x-side table and metal and glass lamp at goodwill. So snazzy!


I seem to have such great luck at Goodwill, but really it’s just a statistical probability that if I go to three different stores every weekend I’m pretty much going to find SOMEthing awesome. 🙂

Let’s hear it for baby steps!!