30 December 2010

Mantlescape #1

It's not every day that we can tackle a big DIY project like this.  If we're lucky, we might get the time and money to do one large project a month.  The other days are spent dreaming, making lists and moving around what you already have for instant change.  Today's change was obvious for me.  My mantle.

For the past 4 weeks, my mantle was decorated for Christmas, and Christmas ended yesterday in the Casa de la Transue.  Here is what I whipped together in literally 3 minutes.

My goal was to try to come up with something that could last me through the winter and create a smooth transition into a spring mantlescape.  After enjoying the White Christmas we had this year, I was inspired.  I gathered up white items from all over my house.  When placing them, I made sure that I varied the heights and textures of my items.

Look at the difference it makes when I put my tallest items at the ends of the mantle.
Now, it looks a little "matchy-matchy" with my larger items on the outside.  My poor, glass apothecary jar looks all alone out there since it is clear.  It just doesn't look grounded in the setting.

Now look when I change out the paper mache bird and the lotus flower.
Again, it looks too matchy with the birds equally flanking the wreath.  When decorating, you want to vary your heights and textures while tying them all together as a scene.  In this mantlescape, the color white works in tying everything together.  I even made sure to select books in colors that would work with this display.

In case you like something you see, I have created a source list for you.
  • Finials - Home Goods garden section (under $20.00 for the pair)
  • Lotus flower - Home Goods ($2.99, but needed to be sprayed white)
  • Owl - West Elm ($10.00 with free shipping)
  • Apothecary Jar - Thrift store on the square in Dahlonega, Ga ($6.00)
  • Books - off of my Black Mountain Furniture built-ins in my library
  • Paper Mache Bird - West Elm ($10.00 with free shipping)
  • Shutters - Thrift store on the square in Dahlonega, Ga ($20.00 for the pair).  Using shutters as decor was inspired by photos at The Nesting Place
  • Wreath - Crafted by Yours Truly (under $10.00 in supplies) after reading this blog at The Nesting Place.  That's right, people.  It is made from coffee filters.
Although it was sad to see Christmas go, it was so much fun to change up my house with a fresh, new mantlescape.  What fresh changes do you have planned for your house now that Christmas is over?

Linked with The Stories of A to Z and Funky Junk Interiors.

29 December 2010

Breakfast Nook Redo - Before & During

Everyone loves a good before and after, but today I am here to show you a pretty good before and during!  Here is how our breakfast nook looked on Monday:
(Isn't it crazy how using a flash or no flash completely changes the look of my wall color!?)

After about 6 hours of work spread over two days, our breakfast nook looks like this:
Here's a breakdown of the process that got us this far:
Score all trim before removing the baseboards.
Gently remove all baseboards.  To save money, you will reinstall these at the end.  (Key word gently - that's why you see ME doing this step!)
This is the product we chose.  It is actually a kit that you are supposed to buy with an interlocking baseboard and chair rail.  However, the baseboard that came with the kit was much smaller than our current baseboard, and everyone wants the chunkiest baseboards as possible, right?!  Also, our living room, dining room and hallway is already upgraded with a chair rail, and the chair rail in the kit was not a matching design.  In the end, we just bought these already primed, composite wainscoting panels, used our old baseboards and installed matching chair rail molding.

Here are how the wainscoting panels work:
Interlocking panel make instillation a cinch.
After putting a few panels together, we located a stud.  This was super easy.  We new that one of the electrical outlets was secured to a stud, so I just measured up the wall and marked above the panels every 16 inches.  The mark won't matter since the chair rail will cover it up.
(These pictures might look staged, but I swear they are action shots....can't you tell?!)

After installing all panels, we reattached the baseboards.
(I know the "we" looks a lot like Rusty, but I did remove all baseboards and run the nail gun.  Someone has to document our work!)

Next, we measured, cut and installed the chair molding.
Here's what's left to finish the project:
  1. Caulk all trim and seams
  2. Paint trim, wainscoting and chair rail a high gloss white
I'm not even sure I have any readers left considering I showed the "During" picture at the beginning of the post, but if I do, here is my list of what to do to finish the kitchen/breakfast area completely:
  1. Paint the kitchen either a creamy off white or a white grey
  2. Purchase (and possibly paint) a 42" or 48" round table and four chairs off of Craigslist (I check every day and have about 10 e-mail negotiations going.  My budget is $100-$150 dollars depending on the size and current color)
  3. Find a drum shade light fixture to hang over the table
The total cost in materials for installing the wainscoting is around $125.00 since we were able to salvage our current baseboards and my labor only charged me for lunch both days!  We love the results and feel it adds so much to the space that it lacked before.

If you had $125.00 and a few hours to complete a project around home, what would you tackle?

27 December 2010

Table Talk

Today was a very exciting day.  Rusty and I did our first home project outside of painting a room or hanging a shelf.  We tackled wainscoting.  In the breakfast nook.  Doesn't that sound elegant?  It is much less elegant after hearing why we jumped on making it our first project.  There is a very practical reason behind it.  Two reasons actually.  Those reasons are Hank and Dagny, my hounds.  More than once this winter, our temps in the mountains have stayed in the teens for several days in a row.  That means our little ones come inside for the night and sleep in the kitchen.  It also means that they hound up the drywall in the breakfast nook.

While I can't wait to write my post on the wainscoting and show you some before and after shots, this post is about getting some much needed advice. I need to buy a breakfast table, so I can move my dining room table out of my kitchen and into my dining room.  I know I want a round pedestal table with 4 chairs, and I don't care if the table comes with a leaf.  After we paint the kitchen, it will be a light neutral color with lots of natural lighting.  Our dining room table will be in the room beside it, and it is a dark walnut stain.

Look at some of these beautiful pictures I found out there for inspiration:

To add the most amount of light to the kitchen, I could go for an all white look to tie in with the trim:
I could go with a black table and chairs to tie into my black granite counter tops:
This brown table is just a shade lighter than my dining room table and will tie in nicely with my cabinets:
My eyes are also loving some two toned looks:
furniturefromhome.com (with 4 matching all white chairs)
No matter what I choose, I will try to snag a deal on Craigslist and paint it after one of my inspiration photos!  (I'm kind of bummed because Reginia over at The Not So Modern Family found me a FREE table today on Craiglist, but it was claimed moments before I called).

So what do you guys think?  I'm torn.  Should I go for a solid table/chair?  If so, which one?  What do you think of the two toned look?  They are pretty hot right now....

26 December 2010

Pottery Barn Jewelry Holder

Finally, I can write my post about an awesome Pottery Barn knock-off I created!  My friend just walked out the door with it as her 2010 Christmas gift.  I can only take credit for the grunt work not the inspiration.  I have been drooling over the real McCoy since I got the Christmas Pottery Barn catalogue (yes, I like to spell that word the British way...don't ask why...I've always been obsessed).  PB wanted $29-$49 dollars for this little invention:
I loved the idea for the earring hanger.  I think it would look so chic hanging in the bathroom.  Even a little vintage.  And the empty frames are so in right now.  I knew I could make it happen.

I bought some frames for $2.00 each at a local junk store.  Here are the ones I found:
My first step was to chose one and spray it.  I went with the square brown one.  My friend's bathroom is dark with brown and black accents, so I sprayed it black.  Next, I sanded it and distressed it for the Pottery Barn look I was going for.  This allowed the browns to show through.
The final step was to stretch the wire on the back of the frame to created a place to hang the earrings.  I used simple jewelry wire and thumbtacks.
I tried a few different ways, and after a little logical thinking and troubleshooting from the hubby, I ended up stretching the wire on the back of the frame as shown below:
Measure out where you want the wires and press the thumbtacks about 1/2 way in.
Tightly wrap the wire around one end and push the thumbtack firmly into the frame.
With gloves, tightly pull wire and wrap around opposite thumb tack.  Push deeply into frame.
Clip excess wire.
That's all it took, folks.  About $5.00 total for this project with plenty of paint, thumbtacks and wire to make about 20 more.  Here are some after pictures:
Instant art.  Functional.  Easy.
I'm excited because this project sparked an idea for an office project that I can't wait to get started when I find a large enough frame.

What DIY projects do you have brewing up?  Did you make any personal gifts to give this Christmas?

Linked up at To Sew With LoveThe Shabby NestToday's Creative BlogFunky Junk Interiors, Giggles, Glitz and Glam and Miss Mustard Seed.

Once every 128 years....

Today was so special.  Atlanta had a white Christmas.  It was our first snow on Christmas day since 1882.  After a few hours of watching the flakes fall, I put my boots on and ran out into our street to capture a few pictures of our new home covered in snow.

I don't think it could have looked more perfect on our first Christmas here.

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas.

25 December 2010

From Me to You

I hope as this posts (set on auto-post from Thursday night) that we are all surrounded by family and friends eating great food and opening wonderful gifts.  I also hope that you all will enjoy this wonderful gift I am giving you.  If not for yourself, you might know a friend who will love it.

In search for some wonderfully free art, I ran across this project at one of my favorite blogs, Bower Power

Here's a little tutorial:

I typed my whole project in Power Point.  I am sure you can use Paint or Word.  All you need is something that has text boxes for you to play around with.
You will want to adjust the fonts styles ans sizes to get the look you want.  Play around with capitalization and the directions of words.  You will also want to think about the size frame that you will want to display this art it.  I chose to do one for a 5x7 frame, so I adjusted my margins to be 4.75"x6.75" to allow for a little room around the edges.

Then you print it out.  I used regular printer paper because that is what I had, but card stock would be wonderful.
All that is left is to place this in a frame.
I think it looks wonderful, and it is very personal to me.  For example, not everyone calls their town "The Land of Milk and Honey" or "The Promise Land" or has friends who call it "The Galapagos".  But I do.  I also know that Amicalola Falls is in Dawson County, but it was my 1st real taste of Dahlonega when Rusty chose it as our 1st date and the place where he would eventually propose to me.

You could make this for a specific state, a city, a school or college, a couple, a special friend, or even a family.  All it takes is a little time thinking of personal words to describe it.

Since it is Christmas, I would love to e-mail the template I already have set up for this project in a 5x7 size.  You can use what I already have and change the words around for your own art.  If you would like the file for free, just leave me a comment with your e-mail address.  I will send it over.

Again, I hope everyone is having a very Merry Christmas!


24 December 2010

My 1st Hole in the Wall

I have officially devirginized my walls.  That's right.  After living here for eight months, I finally nailed in the first hole.  Well, seven holes, actually.  I made a   frame collage stolen inspired by this picture at Young House Love.
To make mine, I started by finding a frame for the middle to save the most money I could.  I have collected so many frames over the years with my dad being a framer.  This particular one was a mahogany color with a black and gold mat.  I sprayed it write and kept thinking about ways to salvage the mat.  Then, I kept an eye out for frames anywhere I went.  

I found the 5x7 frames at Garden Ridge.  These are the only two that came in my white color scheme.  I got the 8x10 and 11x14 frames at Wal-Mart.  They came with a white mat; however, they were all black frames.  After spraying all frames white, I knew I needed to add a little texture and contrast in there to break up the white frames on the white mats (plus the black and gold mat was still an issue).  My solution - cover the mats with fabric.

To cover them, I just ironed my fabric, cut out a piece that was about 1/2 inch larger than the mat of all four sides, sprayed the front of the mat with spray adhesive and placed it face down on the wrong side of the fabric.
Then, I cut a hole in the middle of the fabric, cut an "x" and stopped sharply at each corner, trimmed the excess fabric and tightly hot glued down all edges.  
Yes, a really good blogger would have pictures of each step that were Photoshoped for optimal aesthetic pleasure!

The last part was to hang them.  My strategy: center the large picture above my bench (which is already centered on that wall), hang the frames on the right side and then try to match the left side.  The outcome: total success!  Here are some after pictures:
The last part of this project is to fill the empty frames with some art and color.  I have been chewing on that one since I wrote this post weeks ago.  I have ordered a few things from ETSY and have made a little art myself that you will get to read about soon.  Until then, I just stare at the progress I have made so far and keep thinking that these frames will get to hold a lot of cool things over the years as our lives and styles change.

Here is the final breakdown of my expenses:

Large frame: FREE
(2) 5x7 frames: $9.98
(2) 8x10 frames: $6.00
(2) 11x14 frames: $25.94
1 yard of fabric: $1.00 (clearance)
spray paint: already had
spray adhesive: already had

Total: $42.92

What is it that makes nailing that first hole in a new wall so difficult?  What do you like to frame other than photographs?  Have you even been inspired by a photo online?

I am linked up to The Stories of A to Z

23 December 2010

What in the Hound?!

I have never been good at documenting anything.  I have six or seven diaries/journals tucked away on shelves and in hope chests that are three-fourths unwritten.  When scrapbooking became the new journaling, I started several and now have moved them three different times - all still incomplete.

So, now I am attempting the blogging world.  Who knows how that will go.  But I think this has some potential to stick.  One thing it is doing is encouraging me to live more.  I am trying new things just to have some good stuff to write about.  Blogging has forced me to slow down and take pictures.  Now I have folders of picture on my computer organized for events in the event that I want to blog about it.  I think it is the best habit I have ever started.

Even though you can't tell, this post is about my dogs.  (You would think an English teacher wouldn't wait until the third paragraph to introduce her topic.)  Rusty and I have had the hounds for about seven years now.  I think I only found about thirty pictures of them on my computer.  Total.  Now I am on a mission to document them more.  I am snapping pictures of them and have even put a new page on our blog called "Our Dogs".  Here is my first post about them.  It involves a little crafting.

Rusty and I found this kit at Bed Bath & Beyond and picked up two of them.  Basset Hounds have very distinctive paws, and we knew this was the perfect way to document their personalities.

 The kit was so simple.  First, we rolled out the putty and made two circular ornaments.
Dagny was the first victim.  She was very cooperative, but her print turned out very...."houndish".  It was dirty and hairy.  While Rusty rerolled out the putty, I cleaned off both of their right paws, and we tried again.  Here's Hank.  Let's just say we was more dramatic participant than Dagny.
After capturing both of their prints, we picked out any stray hairs and shaped them as perfectly round as possible.  We punched a hole in the top of each of them with a straw and set them out to dry.

The kits had enough excess putty for us to make a third print.  We printed Hank's paw and are giving it as a gift a little later this week.  Can you see how dirty they still look even after washing their feet!

After 48 hours of drying, I sprayed them a high gloss white and looped a ribbon through them.

Here are the after pictures of them hanging on their stockings.

Can you tell which one is Hank's and which one is Dagny's?  I just love this idea because it is more novel than a picture.  It was also something fun for Rusty and I to do together.

Anyone else enjoy doing little craft projects as a family?  Or maybe you have quit on journaling or scrapbooking like me.  Do you have a system for making sure you stay on top of capturing those precious moments in life?
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