Mini Mudroom Builtins

Anyone with a Pinterest account has certainly come across more than a few dreamy, spacious, and impossibly clean mudrooms. I’ve certainly pinned my fair share of ones that are easily 4x the size of my actual usable space…

Laundry room built-in cubbies | somuchbetterwithage.com

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But they got me thinking… who says bigger is better? Heck, I figure the smaller it is, the quicker it is to clean!  🙂

After many months of searching, I finally found this Goldilocks of mudrooms on This Old House… not too big, not too small, just right for us!

kids in mudroom with storage and clothing hooks, ask this old house tv producer chris wolfe remodeled kitchen

So I sat down to sketch out my own design based on the dimensions of our space. That’s when I came across the first wrinkle. I realized that I couldn’t design ANY exact measurements until I found and purchased the baskets that I wanted to use in the cubes on the left side. That took a few days, but I finally found some on sale at Michaels. Y’all – I walked into the store on a whim, not knowing if they even SOLD baskets there, and lo and behold they were having a 50% off baskets sale. Sometimes my shopping luck is just unreal!

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Once I had those on hand, I was able to use their dimensions to design the cubes and then figure out how much space that left me for the other parts of the design. Many sketches and wadded up pieces of paper later…. I had my design! The piece on the left shows the cubes, bench, hooks, and shelves. The front sheet is my cut list for two sheets of plywood. I even figured out which cuts I needed to have done by Home Depot versus which I could handle on my sliding compound miter saw.

 

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So after my trip to Home Depot and help from one of their very patient employees, here are the plywood sections that I started with:

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I painted  most of the wood pieces first, then cut them into the different shapes and sizes that I needed to assemble the different pieces of the built-in unit.

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First, I put the bench mostly* together, then brought it in from the garage and affixed it to the space. The cube storage was also mostly assembled in the garage then installed on top of the bench.

*By “mostly”, I mean I got it completely assembled and then realized I couldn’t fit it into position because it was the exact size of the space that it was going into… so I had to take it back apart, pull off the left side panel, then fit it into place and nail it back together. Lesson learned! 🙂

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It was kind of ugly for a while, but a little paint, trim, and board and batten in the locker area spruced it up nicely!

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I jumped the gun last night and added the coat and bag hooks while the paint was still drying. I just couldn’t wait to see the finished product!

imageSo here’s where it stands right now… you can see I still have lots of paint supplies out so that I can finish touching up a few areas… but it’s mostly done! Just need to let it dry, then I can add my linen-lined hyacinth baskets into the cubes on the left.image

 

 

 

From start to almost finished… one more project down, and lots more storage space gained!
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Gold and Charcoal Mama-Cave-Slash-Nursery

 

Hello, gorgeous! This beautiful room is the brainchild of my bestest friend and partner-in-crafting-crime. And it’s for her baby. Crafting win!

Glam, gold, gray

For those moms who are brave and patient enough to wait on finding out their baby’s sex,  the nursery decor can certainly present a challenge. My best friend is in that exact situation, but it seems she has never once wavered on her design direction. Since they decided to wait for the big surprise, she wanted to get away from the pastel, baby-ish decor and do a room that would feel soothing to her and still appropriate for their little one.

The colors: gold, black, white, gray.

The theme: “glamorously whimsical”

(I’m officially calling it “glamsical.” Or, “glam-sicle” if I may hereby coin a flavor for future frozen treat marketing.)

ANWAY, our goal was to make a collage of different coordinating pieces to achieve the overall look and feel of baby-cuteness and mama-sophistication for a boy or girl. Enough with the words… let’s just get to the pictures!!

First, we grabbed some blank paper and created an arrangement on the floor to see what kinds of pieces we needed to create. This helped us create a list of how many canvases, frames, etc. we would need to purchase at the craft store.

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If you look closely, you can see we even sketched out the content of each piece.

Then, we went shopping and *wiggles nose* created all this good stuff!

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We made the alphabet printable in Word and printed it from the computer before filling in a few letters with glitter and sticking it in a basic black frame.

 

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You can see I practiced my technique on some printer paper first! I made the circles with 2 different shot glasses dipped in paint.

 

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Jess went behind me and filled in all the circles and added glitter when warranted.

 

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We printed a deer silhouette offline and cut it out to trace it onto our little 8×8 canvas

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Filled him in with craft glue using a paint brush and topped him off with gold glitter.

For the "Y," we got a wood block and a premade white letter from Michaels.

For the “Y,” we got a wood block, painted it black, and hot glued on a premade white letter from Michaels. So simple, cute, elegant, and easy!

We sketched this design out on a piece of scrap paper before we traced it onto the canvas and added paint. We decided to add a second thin line to each side later on once we slept on it.

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She got the gold stickers off line. The pillow was a quick makeover of an existing pillow form.

For the pillow, we used my handy no-sew hot glue technique to cover her nice pillow that just didn’t match the current decor. So easy! We covered it with 3/4 of a yard of fabric that we got on sale at Joann’s and added a black felt cutout heart (again with hot glue).

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How about a little pano for the full effect!?

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 Don’t you just love it!?

Description of various pieces (left to right, and also possibly up to down, if you can follow)

Gosh, I’m bad at the detail work when it comes to explaining the step-by-step process. Hopefully, this helps decipher which pieces are which!

1. Alphabet + I heart U (printable with glitter and frame)

2. “Let them be little” hanging quote (a gift from her sweet sister)

3. Framed fabric left over from pillow

4. 9×12 canvas with gold and glitter circles

5. Deer head glitter silhouette on 8×8 canvas

6. Initial plaque – white letter on painted wooden square (hung with ribbon hot glued to back)

7. “You are our greatest adventure” black and white printable in a frame

8. Gold chevrons on 9×12 canvas.

9. Black felt heart on gold polka dotted scrapbook paper in a frame

10. 8×10 canvas covered in printed fabric (secured with hot glue)

Oh my gosh y’all, it turned out so awesome and we were just so pleased with ourselves! Hooray for this glittery, “glamsical” mama cave!

XOXO

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Kitchen Wall Decor

I know what you’re thinking… “Plates on a kitchen wall… isn’t that just TOO obvious?” Maybe, but it’s also “pretty and practical,” and that’s what this blog is all about! Plus, I like to think the random corbel in the middle adds a little something unexpected.
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This morning I was getting ready for my husband’s birthday barbecue when I noticed a scratch (or more accurately, “gouge of suspicious origins”) in the kitchen wall. Who knows which piece of heavy construction equipment that’s been steadily trickling in and out of the house actually caused this damage. Not that it matters… but what DOES matter is that there are people coming over today and they will all be standing around with nothing to better to do than stare at this humongous scratch in my otherwise completely blank kitchen wall! Right!? OK so I get a little carried away sometimes… there is no way anyone would have noticed that mark with all the delicious food and yard games going on. But I decided a year is a long enough time to wait to decorate the kitchen wall and figured “there’s no time like the present!”

For the record, I think some people get the idea that I’m “effortlessly” creative, but sometimes it just feels compulsive. Like, I have to do it and I have to do it RIGHT NOW!

So, instead of, I don’t know, say, prepping food or doing anything else more pressing, I went and picked through my collection of mismatched dishes and got to work laying out an arrangement. And thank goodness I had a handful of little plate hangers, too!
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First, I laid everything out on the ground to see how I wanted it all positioned. The wine bottle was a placeholder for the little shelf that I wanted to use but hadn’t yet tracked down.

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I took this picture primarily to give myself a point of reference for how things needed to go on the wall. I ended up referring back a bunch of times. I hung the shelf first, right over top of the scratch, then hung all the other pieces around it. Even though I had laid it all out on the floor beforehand, Adam still had to do a bit of patient plate-holding in various positions while I stood back and assessed the layout to be sure it looked OK.

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Pretty cute quick fix for a bare wall, don’t you think? I don’t know if it’s my “forever” kitchen decor, but for about 15 minutes of work I think it’s definitely a look that I can live with for a while.

Happy hanging!

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Chevron Sewing Table Update

After a year in our first home, the kitchen remains a bit of a challenge. The biggest update so far was getting rid of the huge pub table that was built in to the counter top, which I removed and replaced with a window seat with lots o’ storage. That got us part-way towards my goal of designing an eat-in area for our super-tiny very cozy 60’s ranch kitchen. I knew I would need a small-ish pedestal style table to accommodate the window seat setup. I had been contemplating building one from scratch until…

Finally, y’all! I just found this amazing table at my favorite-of-all-favorites antique store… woo! (Better yet, I sent a courtesy a pic to the husband, and he loves it too!) Woo-hoo! laminate top table before Cute, right?! This table has a lot going for it (including a fully-operational foot pedal that Adam wants to rig into some sort of possibly dangerous, high-performance lazy susan) but let’s be honest… the top is kind of weird. It’s laminate, but not your average furniture-grade “trying to look like wood” laminate. It’s more like kitchen counter-style laminate, which is a weird look for anyone who’s not a kitchen counter. (And truly, kind of weird for them as well.) It’s almost like the top was repurposed from a restaurant table or something. Kind of sterile and, well… not-so-pretty.  I asked the lady at the checkout if she would consider selling me just the base… but she was much too smart for that. (I can only assume she didn’t want that weird top laying around, either!) And it’s a good thing, because original my plan was to go straight home and build a new table top from scratch using various wood scraps from the garage. But when she politely suggested I “find a way to dress it up” when I told her I wasn’t crazy about the top, I was all, “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!” 

I decided it’s just the right kind of quirky with its sewing table base and modestly-sized top. My sweet husband helped me get it into place in the kitchen and it fits just right! Of course, Murph Cat had to come investigate immediately. He is violently shaking his head in this pic, which is why he looks a little poltergeisty. laminate top table before in kitchen So instead of making a new wood plank top, I decided to work with the one I had by painting it. I started by sketching out a pattern. Try not to be intimidated by my super advanced drawing skills. table pattern sketch Impressive, right? Now you see why I am a graphic designer by trade.

Then, I prepped the surface by sanding it with a 180 grit disc on my orbital sander. I had to remove the top and ROLL that sucker outside. No joke, it probably weighs at least 80 pounds. sanding laminate top with orbital sander I also took the important step of snapping a safety-selfie. I ALWAYS wear a mask when sanding! safety maskOnce I had sanded off the finish, I applied 2 coats of Zinsser primer (not shown.) Then, the real fun began. Who knew this would require advanced geometry?! finding the center of the table top Clearly, you can see I had some trouble with my measurements and markings. For the record, it is SO hard to find the center of a circle! It occurred to me only afterwards that the proper solution would have been to trace the entire top onto a piece of paper, cut it out, and fold it in half twice. Oh, so NOW my brain decides to start working! But that’s OK… the trial and error method works, too. Once I had the table top divided into quadrants, I grabbed a 1×4 board (about 3 feet long) from the garage and cut one end into a 45 degree angle to use as a guide for the pattern. (Sorry, not shown, but you’ll get the idea.) painting faux wood planks on the table top Note the very professional paper plate paint palette. Clearly I take my work very seriously.

At last, the fun part! I took some greige (Behr Sculptor’s Clay) wall paint I had left over from painting our master bathroom and mixed it with varying amounts of black-brown acrylic art paint. I grabbed different shades of paint to create a wide range of gradients. I applied the paint with a 1″ sponge brush in long strokes to create a wood-grain type effect. The intent was never to look realistically like wooden planks… but just to give it that sort of feel. faux wood planks painted on table top At first I left the outlines partially white so I could fill with the darker brown later (thinking, “shadows suggesting gaps between the planks”), but I ended up going back in and spongeing over them after I saw that the color striations created enough definition of their own.

HOWEVER… that all changed when I came back the next day and realized that my Sharpie lines had “eaten” through the paint and surfaced back to the top like some sort of paint-resistant zombie ink. I had to paint over all the lines the next day after all. Mental note: NEVER use a Sharpie to draw paint lines. That stuff is weird-strong! sharpie line bleeding through paint and poly Luckily, the end result is still pretty sweet looking. I’ll show you both possible results… before and after the Sharpie debacle. finished plank table top without sharpie showing through finished plank table top with border linesNot gonna lie… I tend to think it looked better “before” when the pattern was more subtle and before the zombie Sharpie came back to haunt me. But what are you gonna do? I suppose the brown lines are better than the weird purply-blue ones that the Sharpie left behind/beneath/on-top-of-everything-important.

So at the end of the day, I still think it looks pretty good. I had to make some compromises due to poor material selection on my part, but that’s just the way it goes! I think it’s much better than where we started, anyway. And when the paint and poly fully cure in about 2 weeks, I will finally have my first official casual, comfortable meal in the kitchen!

UPDATE:

Two days later and I am still having to go back and paint over some of the Sharpie lines in certain areas and then add another coat of poly. Apparently, this was a really blonde thing to do, because so far no one has had any sympathy for my plight and seems to think it’s ridiculously common knowledge that paint and Sharpie don’t mix. (“Lindsay, you’re telling me YOU didn’t know that? EVERYONE knows that!”) Well somehow I managed to survive 20+ years of crafting and painting without this ever becoming apparent to me… but I will certainly never forget! Truly, I can just feel myself getting smarter with every dumb mistake. 😀

Thanks for reading!

XOXO

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Pretty Leaves

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Hey y’all! This is so random… but since I’m trying to add some “pretty” in with all the “practical” I’ve been posting, I just had to post this picture I took of a plant growing beside the lake outside my office. I was sitting out there at lunchtime trying to get a shot of vitamin D, and I must confess… I was a little jealous that his only job is to sit around and turn sunlight into food. (Photosynthesis, schmotosynthesis.) 

Just kidding – plants are the best! (Thanks for the oxygen, by the way.) And what a good looking guy! His leaves are impressive… I could get lost in all those shades and stripes and curves and… wait, what were we talking about?

OK, I probably sound like I watched Fern Gully one too many times as a kid, but seriously, it’s hard NOT to appreciate the simple-yet-mind-blowingly-complex beauty of nature. I, for one, find great joy in noticing things that are just nice to look at.

When I was little, I collected “pretty rocks” — always thrilled to find a piece of quartz and proudly present it to my parents in exchange for a shower of praise for my unique find. Nowadays I’m more likely to collect snaps of trees, flowers, moss… whatever pretty thing I see. I have always loved taking pictures, and nature makes the perfect subject. Beautiful, undemanding, and ever so patient.

I wish I knew the name of this particular plant… I Googled “Georgia, plant, large leaves, light and dark green stripes” and came up with a bazillion pictures of hostas (which I also happen to love!). I may have to consult my landscaping buddy and get his expert botanical opinion.

Anyway, here’s hoping you also get to enjoy something colorful, outdoorsy, or just plain pretty today!

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UPDATE
OK so as amazing as I thought this guy’s leaves were, check out the flowers!! Now I’m truly impressed. Those stalks must be 7 or 8 feet tall. Amazing!

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

At long last, we have a functional dining room!

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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 (howtodecorate.com):

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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.

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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…

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…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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.)

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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

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

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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.

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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!

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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.  😀

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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!

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XOXO

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Christmas Crafts and Decor

OK, I can’t be the only one who’s been pinning Christmas craft and decor ideas since, oh… April… right? My pinboards runneth over with DIY Christmas decorations and inspiration. Growing up, my folks always had pretty, classic wreaths on our windows, so I envisioned the same. I used poinsettias in combination with bows, garland, and wreaths. We mounted them to the windows frames with cup hooks… the ribbons are just decorative. 

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And we even decorated the non-functional lamp post at the end of the walkway. He looks like he’s wearing a Christmas suit and bow tie… hah!

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We definitely underestimated the cost and work involved in decorating our home for the first time. But we stuck to the essentials and are looking (and feeling) very much in the Christmas spirit!

On to the crafts… there are only so many hours in the month of December, so I picked a few of my favorites to start with. We’ll see how many more I can knock out before the big day comes!

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Left to right… twig + ornament + frame, paper cone + fabric “trees,” glitter deer silhouette, deer & moose from Hancock Fabrics (I cheated on buying those, but they were… wait for it… 80% OFF! I paid $2.40 for both.)

Here are some close-ups:

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That’s a dollar store frame, dollar store ornament (2 for $1), twigs from the yard, craft glue (like Elmer’s), and a strip of scrap plaid fabric.

My current favorites are next…..

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I made these three “trees” with poster board, hot glue, and scrap fabric. The green is strips of felt cut into a sort of wide fringe. The cream is painter’s drop cloth twisted into cord. The red is pleated plaid cotton I had left over from repairing a few quilt squares for my mom. (Hey mom!) Here is a tutorial for creating the cones from poster board. I skipped the tutorial and just used good ol’ trial and error until I got it right by cutting the approximate shapes and rolling, trimming, glueing, taping, stapling, and trimming some more.

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And by the way, what in the WORLD did we do before hot glue?! Definitely my most favorite craft essential.

Last but not least, my sweet, glittery deer silhouette. This idea has been out there for a while but I was so excited to make my own!

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He is comprised of: an old painting from Sips and Strokes with painter’s dropcloth stapled over the top, craft glue (like Elmer’s), and gold glitter. Easy peasy!

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As you can see, I had to pin all his extremities down so I could trace the outline.

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Then used glue, a paint brush, and glitter to fill him all in.

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He’s so awesome… Adam wants to keep him up year ’round! We’ll see how it goes. He is pretty fabulous, after all!

Merry Christmas and happy decorating!

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Kitchen Update: It’s coming together!

We finally got the doors put back up this week. Now I can finish painting them and leave them open to dry for a few more days. Once they’re dry to the touch, I can’t wait to get the pulls installed. I chose oil rubbed bronze to break up all the white and help pull in the dark wood countertops.

Here’s my inspiration… kind of going for the farm kitchen look.

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I love the wood counters and white cabinets. And the beadboard – yes please!

And here’s what we have so far…

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Even with the lights off, the kitchen is so much brighter now!