Monday, November 29, 2010

Keeping our House Warm

Ladies and gentlemen, we are trying something new this year.... thermal window covers.

We have a huge picture window in the front of our house, with two smaller windows on each side.  The opening is over 100" wide.  Every year Matt tries to get out the window plastic and the double sided tape & cover this opening.  It's a vinyl window in a wood opening.  He goes around the wood on the top and sides, but has to tape to the vinyl on the bottom.  Every year we spend $13 on the "extra large" sliding door plastic in order to get a sheet that is big enough.  And every year, the cold temps, breeze coming through the gaps in the window and the fact that the tape is on two different materials, the plastic comes undone, and we wonder why we ever put the plastic on in the first place.

Well the thermometer is dropping, and now I know why we try this plastic wrap every year, it's like a BREEZE coming through our front windows!  We might as well have the windows open!  So, being that today was Cyber-Monday, I decided to look for a deal on window thermals.

I tried JCPenney first.  They were having a great sale on 42" wide panels - $15 dollars a piece.  We would have to get three panels to fit the width of the window. They would be worth their price in just 3 seasons.  However, they were out of white & the website started crashing after that.  So I moved on to  I found a couple of options.  Luckily, they were all sold in pairs, and with most of them, they were 52" wide or greater per panel.  Because we have a double curtain rod, and we will be placing these closest to the window, we weren't super concerned with the appearance.

We ended up finding a pair 52" wide for $30.  Even better than the price we had with the first ones.

Photo from
We got them in off-white.  They apparently have a bit of a "sheen" to them.  We decided that if the sheen was awful, we would just keep the drapes closed.  If not, the sheen might add to the holiday decor, making them a little extra sparkly.  Regardless, we are hoping that they stop the arctic breeze from continuing to chill our living room!  We'll keep you updated on how things go.

Another thing that we started doing a few years ago was trying to keep the heat from going right up the stairwell and out through the roof.  I got three yards of corduroy fabric on sale, at JoAnn's of course, made a rod pocket on the top, and hemmed the bottom.  We got a tension rod to span between the stairwell walls.
Personal Photo
The fabric is the same color as the carpet, so it's a little hard to see exactly what's going on in the photo, but it's the best thing we have done.  It keeps the first floor noticeably warmer, which keeps the heat from kicking on more often.  This keeps our bills down!  Yay!  Super cheap idea, super easy, super worth it.

We'll post more of our Winter Ideas as we come up with them.  Exactly how we are keeping our old leaky house warm and comfortable.  How are you keeping your house warm this winter?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Decorating

The Christmas decorating season has officially begun at our household.   My love for Christmas decorating started early.  My mother has always decorated, literally, every flat surface in her house for the holidays!  Every year, we would go to Thanksgiving day lunch at my Aunt's house.  After dinner, we would come home and spend the rest of the night watching Christmas movies, putting up the tree & decorating the mantle.  The 'bug' had been planted in my brain & I was a Christmas decorator for life!

Matt & I aren't quite as regimented in our house, but the decorating did begin just after Thanksgiving.  The tree is up, devoid of any lights, but up, some things are getting placed up on other surfaces. 

One of the projects that I wanted to work on was our dining room table.  I found some great white linen fabric at JoAnn's for $2.50 and thought that it would make a great runner.  Unfortunately, it turned out not to be as long as I would have liked.  After taking a look at the situation, I decided that it was okay to have a runner that didn't hang over the edge!  So the project began.

First I pinned and hemmed the first edge:

Personal Photo
 Then I trimmed the runner to the width that I wanted, plus one inch for the other hem.  Then hemmed the other side.  I folded the corners and trimmed them, and hemmed both ends.

I also wanted a simple centerpiece to go on the table.  I took two footed vases, that we got for our wedding, from Crate & Barrel and added one white pillar candle to each vase.  I filled one with red wood balls, as I wanted them to simulate cranberries without having to worry about them molding, wrinkling, etc.  Then for the other one, I wrapped green garland several times around the bottom, adding white and silver glass ornaments on top.

Here is the final table:

Personal Photo
 Pretty, right?  I think it might be a little TOO simple though.  My first idea is to make a larger runner out of dark red or silver fabric to give it a little something extra.  I've also added a couple of votive candles to add a little decoration.  My other goal is to find a great red ribbon and tie a bow under each vase.

But there is our runner and the START at our dining room table.

Another thing that I love to decorate is the mantle.  We aren't even close to getting it done yet, but here is just a little glimpse of our first hint of decoration up there:

Personal Photo
Another area I like to dress up is our tiny foyer.  We started with hanging green garland around the door casing.  Then we added white lights to the garland.  There were left over lights, so I decided to grab a glass container, and contain them at the bottom.  Here is what the bottom looks like & I love how it turned out.

Personal Photo
 We still have a ton of decorating to do, and will update everyone as it happens!
What are you guys doing to decorate for the holidays?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Decor

I'm a sucker for finding images of things that I know I can make, and trying to recreate them.  This year, unfortunately, with funds being low, I'm just looking for inspiration for next years' decoration.  Some of these are so creative and so easy, I hope I can inspire just one person to go out and pick up a few items to make your home perfect for tomorrow's festivities.  Check out some of the Thanksgiving Decor Images below:

This centerpiece uses simple pillar candles and seasonal veggies.  I see Asparagus, Artichokes, & Green beans.  The Asparagus & Green beans are tied on with a nice ribbon & everything is plated on a nice tray.  Toss on a few seasonal blooms & you have a perfect centerpiece for your Thanksgiving Day table.

Photo Credit:  Here
How about a quick and easy plate decoration.  This one uses a pine cone, three feathers & a shaped pipe cleaner to make a cute Turkey to put on everyone's plate.  Add a colorful napkin & a simple hand-written place card & everyone knows where to sit!

Photo from Martha Stewart
In this image I'm looking at the super simple centerpiece.  Do you still have a tree or bush with dried flowers or berries on it?  If so, cut a few down & place them in a nice vase.  Simple, right?

Photo from Martha Stewart
Have any left over gourds or pumpkins from Halloween?  You can probably find them super discounted at the store right now.  But a can of gold spray paint & paint all the gourds the same color.  Display them on a plate, directly on the table, or make a lovely centerpiece using your favorite cake stand.

Photo from Martha Stewart

How easy are some of these?  How about filling a large glass bowl with acorns or buckeyes?  What if you take some not yet brown leaves & make place cards by writing on them with a metallic pen?  So simple!  And a lot of these can be accomplished with things you have in your very own back yard!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  Let me know if you see a great centerpiece or creative idea this holiday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Color Inspiration: Bright Green Dining Room

Being that we are about to slip into the doldrums of winter, I thought it would be appropriate to do a happy color inspiration board.  Something to make people feel "spring" just looking at it.  Green is one of my favorite colors to decorate with.  So I decided to set up a dining room using green as the main focus.

Chair: Mitchell Armless Chair - Target, Sideboard: Cirque Three-Door Sideboard - Crate & Barrel, Dining Table: Basque Dining Table - Crate & Barrel, Bench: Essex Bench - West Elm, Plate: Reactive Dinner Plates - Target, Clock: Brushed Metal Clock - Target, Vase: Helena Vase - Crate & Barrel, Floor Vase: Rattan Vase - Crate & Barrel, Plant: Onion Grass/ Ceddum in Metal - Target

This dining room was inspired by the Mitchell Armless Chair from Target.  Not necessarily used as a dining chair on their website, I think it would make for a perfect formal dining chair.  You could put two on one side of the table, one at the head and foot of the table, and use something classic like the Essex bench on the other side: formal, yet relaxed.

In this dining room you would paint the walls a medium green color, like the one pictured in the color palette above.  You could run a light green runner down the middle of the dining table & put a great clear footed vase filled with a tall pillar candle & seasonal fill as your center piece.

Top the amazing copper colored side board with the blue vase in two different sizes, and maybe add a wood decorative item to the pair to make it an interesting trio.  The rattan vase can sit on one side of the sideboard holding tall green curly willow branches, while a great potted tree sat on the other side.

I love this dining room & hope you get some inspiration for you own house with this board.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Our New Kitchen Faucet

Since we moved into this house, one of the things that we have been dying to replace is the old kitchen faucet.  Now, I am still getting into the knack of blogging, so of course I forgot to take a picture of the before, but this is the faucet that we had:

Image from
Basically the cheapest faucet that the previous owner could have gotten from the home improvement store.  Only, imagine that it is rusty, the hot and cold plates had fallen off the handles & the putty was spilling out around the faucet.  It was awful, dirty looking & not what we wanted to present to our guests.  I wish I could find an old picture, but maybe it's less embarrassing that I don't.

So this morning, Matt and I went about putting on the faucet that my Dad got me for my birthday (big thanks to Dad!!!).  First, we had to remove the old faucet, and for the hunk of junk that it appeared to be, it seemed to be GLUED to the underside of the sink.  Ladies and gentlemen, when it says "hand tighten" and "do not over tighten" - DON'T!  After Matt hurt his hand, and I jambed my thumb, we finally drenched the thing in WD-40 to loosen the locknuts.  We finally were able to get them unjammed and took the dirty old faucet off, and put it immediately in the trash can.

I scrubbed down the entire sink surface with steel wool (that stuff is amazing, by the way) so that the sink looked almost brand new.  We then installed the new faucet.  And here is the final product!

Personal Photos
The first picture is before I scrubbed the whole sink, the second shows the amazing-ness that is steel wool!  Awesome, right?  It's like having a whole new sink! 

The benefits:  Now we can have lukewarm water!  I was so annoyed by having to turn on hot & cold separately.  We also have a much taller gooseneck, which will help immensely with large dishes, as will the sprayer!!  So excited to have it done.  Big thanks again to Dad, we love it.

It finally looks like a sink that belongs in our house!  Only about an hour and a half of work & it's totally transformed the space.

Friday, November 19, 2010

CasaSugar: Weekend DIY

I'm a huge fan of the people over at CasaSugar.  They have an amazing website & I encorage everyone to check it out.  One of their Friday specials is their "Weekend DIY".  Since this site is so much about DIY, I figure it's only right for me to add a link to their page every Friday, letting you see what little projects you can accomplish this weekend.

Check out these seven for this weekend:  Weekend DIY

Concrete planters, Thanksgiving banners.  Some cute stuff there!
Have a great weekend everyone!

Mantle Headboard

Since we all know that I was doing a lot of research on headboards before we built ours, I wanted to share another, really cool, headboard idea that I came across.  Of course it's from Martha Stewart, since I adore that website.  Check out this gem - a headboard made out of an old mantle!

Image from
If your style is a little more formal, or a little shabby chic, this is the headboard for you.  It's beautiful AND it leaves a great little shelf over the bed.  Here's how to construct it.

Tools Needed:
Semi-gloss paint (or your preferred finish)
Batting (I would suggest several layers just to make it a little more plush)
Staple gun
Linen fabric
Fabric circles, optional
Pinking shears, optional
20-gauge brass wire
Mending brackets
"L" brackets

Mantle Headboard How-To

First you want to sand down the mantle & wipe down the wood - as you would with anything you are trying to refinish.  Prime and paint the mantle & let dry completely.  If you are looking for something that is fairly flat, go with a satin paint, for something a little more flashy, go with a semi-gloss paint.  A high-gloss will be very reflective, but if you are into it, go for it!

Cut a board to fit the size of the opening in the mantle (minus a little room for the batting & fabric).  Drill holes in the plywood for the decorative buttons if you want a tufted look.  Cover the board with batting, cutting the batting 4 inches longer all the way around, then secure it to the board with a staple gun.  Cut the fabric with enough room to cover the batting.  Place the board batting side down onto the fabric & secure the fabric with a staple gun.  Remember to pull the fabric tight & fold the corners!

If you have chosen to add buttons, they used both buttons and fabric circles, which they cut with pinking shears from contrasting fabric 1 inch larger in diameter than the buttons;  fold the circles in the middle and snipped a slit for our button shank to fit through. Insert an 8-inch length of 20-gauge brass wire back to front through each hole in the board. On fabric side of board, thread a button with a shank through the slit in the fabric circle. Bend wire and push it back through the hole so both ends of wire are on back of board. Place board face down on work surface. To secure button to board, thread it through a plain button on the back of the board and knot the wire by pulling it tight, causing the fabric to form a rosette. Repeat for each tuft.  Add the buttons.  (I copied Martha's text here, as I think she explained it WAY better than I could have.)

They suggest using mending brackets to attach the headboard, I would use at least two on each side, maybe one on the top for good measure.  Screw each bracket into the back of the plywood & into the mantle.  Make sure the screws aren't too long so that they pierce through the wood or the mantle!  The site then suggests using L-Brackets to secure it to the wall.  Because it's top heavy I would definitely suggest securing it to the wall in some fashion.

Here is the website link for reference: Mantle Headboard  and happy DIY-ing!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reading Nook

At some point in time, everyone likes to curl up with a comfy blanket, a book or magazine and just sort of, decompress.  Sometimes your family is on the couch watching television, and sometimes you just want to take yourself away from that all, and be by yourself for a few minutes, even if it's only five feet away.

Introduce the Reading Nook.  

Image from CasaSugar

Heavenly, right?  Essentially all this requires is a totally under utilized corner, a comfy chair, a small table and a lamp.  Toss your favorite blanket over the arm of the chair & you have your own personal hideaway.  You can put this in your bedroom, next to your nightstand, for a super easy fix.  You can station one in a quiet corner of a living room or den.  You can even take a large awkward hallway and add these few simple things to add visual interest and a nice little spot to relax.  Here are a few more images to get you motivated. 

Image from Crate & Barrel

Image from West Elm

Image from HGTV

Image from Better Homes & Gardens

No matter your style, or budget, these are extremely easy for everyone to put together.  We have the beginning of one of these at our house.  When we got our larger couch, we didn't need the upholstered storage bench in the living room for extra seating.  So I took a corner of the dining room & positioned the bench there.  I'm still short a lamp & table, but I think we could get a small table cheaply at TJMaxx or Marshalls & steal a lamp from somewhere else in the house to make the perfect little corner.  A couple pillows & a blanket & our corner is set.

Do you have a reading nook, window seat, or anywhere special that you like to curl up?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to Paint Unfinished Furniture

Matt and I are slowly (okay, we are stalling) building an end table for our bedroom.  It will be a DIY project that we will share when it's complete.  We have all the pieces cut & now we just have to start putting them together.  It's sort of a daunting task, and I've finally decided that doweling the pieces in is probably the best way to put the table together, but once it's done, we'll need to paint it.

Now we have painted nearly every wall in our house.  We have painted some of the aluminum siding outside.  We painted the fence, but we have never painted furniture.  So I went searching for a quick "how-to", on how to do it correctly.  It seems simple enough, it's just about taking time to do it well.  Here is a quick tutorial from Real Simple on how to paint unfinished furniture:

1. Lay down a drop cloth:  If painting inside, you want to protect your other belongings, remove any pulls, wheels, or hardware from the piece.

2. Sand the Furniture:  For a smooth finish, use a flexible-foam sanding sponge or 220-grit sandpaper. If your piece has knots, sand them until they’re even with the grain

3. Dust Furniture:  To remove residual grit, you can use a clean cloth or a vacuum.

4. Prime:  To seal the wood, roll or paint a coat of primer over the entire piece. You can also use spray primer. Priming hides imperfections and provides a surface for the paint to adhere to. Let dry for at least an hour.  Aha! If you’re not sure whether you want a shiny or a flat finish, try flat first. You can always re-cover flat with a satin or a semi-gloss, but it’s harder to go in reverse and cover the sheen.

5. Paint:  Using a roller on large surfaces and a brush on smaller ones, apply a coat of latex paint.

6. Let Dry for at least Two Hours:  When the paint is dry, use a clean brush to apply a second coat of paint (two coats are generally the minimum needed for a nice, even finish).  Tip: Between coats, put your brush in a plastic grocery bag and stash it in the refrigerator to keep it moist. That’s faster than cleaning it and waiting for it to dry.

Check out the DIY here:  How to Paint Unfinished Wood Furniture

DIY Half Table

Do you have a small entryway or foyer, where you really need a table to collect things like keys, mail & maybe a cute potted plant?  Well, knowing and acknowledging the genius that is Martha Stewart, here is a simple DIY table remodel that makes me wish I had a place for this in my house.

Here is the before image of a dining room table that had lived it's life to the fullest.  Apparently one leg was destroyed & the finish was scratched beyond easy repair.

Photo from
 This project was made easier because the table pictured had an extender, where extra leaves could be added to make the table larger.  This small circle was it's most compact form.  This made the process easier because there was no sawing involved.  The extender mechanism was removed and the table was immediately two perfect halves. 

I think that you could do this with a table that was solid, but you would need to be prepared to cut through the top first & while still mobilized, saw through the supports in the same location to make things even.  You could then sand the back side of both to make it sit flat against the wall.

The half of the table that is in the best condition was chosen for the project.  Sand, wipe and prime the table before applying the finish coat.  If you are using a darker color, use dark tinted primer, and be prepared to put on a second coat of finish paint.

Screw a 2"x2" block of wood onto the wall at the height of the tabletop.  The easiest way to do this is to stand the table up against the wall, sit a small level on the table to be sure that the table top is flat, and measure to the underside of the tabletop.  This should be where the top of the 2"x2" block sits.

You can rest the table on top of the block, or for extra stability, screw through the tabletop and into the block of wood.  You will want to use wood filler and paint over the screw location if this option is chosen.

And viola!
Image from
This table is simple, chic & exactly what your foyer, entryway, or even mud room is looking for!  Add a few large canvas totes under the table for a great location to store hats, gloves & scarfs in the winter, or to keep your grocery tote bags, or even use the bins for your kids toys, as a neat location to keep things wrangled.

I love this table and hope that someone can use this for their home or apartment!

Here is the link to Martha's "How-To" if you want to visit the original site: Martha's Half Table

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Using Wall Anchors: How and Why

So I'm sure that at one point in time, all of you have gone to the hardware store to pick up a pack of screws, or bought a shelf to hang on the wall, and with it came a pack of screws & the same number of little plastic parts - like these:

Personal Photo
And I'm sure that some of you thought "What in the world are these plastic things?" - I know that I did the first time that I saw them. Well, those little plastic things are the magic that is the "Wall Anchor" and they have a very distinct purpose.  They help to ANCHOR whatever it is that you are hanging, to the wall.  Being the proud owner of a 90-year old house with extremely brittle, plaster walls, I have come to love these little devices & I'll tell you why. 

Say you want to hang a very heavy picture from your wall.  In a house built in the last 50 years, you would probably get out your stud finder, find the closest stud, hammer in a nail or drill in a screw & hang your picture.  However, using a stud finder in an old home is much more difficult.  Metal lath, differing thicknesses of plaster & unconventional stud spacing, will really confuse a stud finder - so most of the time, our stud finder is used only to hold up in front of Matt.  It makes him smile when it turns red and beeps :).

So, if you can't find a stud, or it just so happens, that where you want to hang this picture is in a spot where there is no stud, you can use a wall anchor!  We have used literally dozens of these all over our house & they have worked like a charm. 

When we moved into our house, I wanted to hang our brooms up in the hall outside of our kitchen - to get them out of the kitchen and off the floor.  The first thing I tried to do, was simply hammer a couple finishing nails into the wall to hang the very lightweight brooms from.  I picked one up, tapped it a few times, and it disappeared into the wall.  I moved over an inch and I tried it again, thinking I hit the head a little too hard.  Again, the nail disappeared into the wall.  So I got out a much larger nail, thinking that I would hit something easier with this, moved over another inch or so, and hammered it into the wall.  Well this is what that experiment looked like:

Personal Photo
Do you know what that is?  That is two small and one large hole where the nails literally went through all of the plaster.  If you look VERY closely at the big hole on the left, you can still see the head of the large nail sticking out from inside the plaster.  This is one of the things that can happen if you try to nail or screw into plaster, and even drywall without using an anchor.  Another thing that can happen, is that because the nail is not "attached" to anything, it will hang down with the weight of whatever is hanging from it, and could potentially make more damage to the wall, should the nail or screw pull out of the wall.
Well I have decided that what we will do, is to spackle over those holes, put in wall anchors & leave the screws sticking out from the wall.  We will use the screws to hold the brooms instead of these useless nails.

Wall anchors are very easy to install.  You want to drill a hole in the wall that is almost exactly the same diameter as the anchor.  This takes a little bit of practice to selecte the right size drill bit.  You don't want the hole to be too big, or else the anchor will have room to move, and it will defeat the purpose.  You want to have to tap the anchor into the hole, so that it is tight in the wall.  Always start the hole smaller than you think, you can always make it bigger, but you can't make it smaller!  Try pushing the anchor into the hole you have created.  If there is so much resistance that the plastic starts to splay, stop and make the hole just slightly bigger.  Once you can get the anchor about halfway into the wall, tap on the end with a hammer to get it the rest of the way into the wall.

Once you have the anchor in the hole, it is ready to be used.  You can now attach what you are hanging with the screw, just be sure to aim for that anchor!  The screw will grab onto the ends of the plastic that are inside the wall and will splay the plastic anchor out behind the wall, almost in a cross shape, along the back side of the plaster or drywall.  This is so that the anchor can use the leverage of the back of the wall, to hold up what you are hanging from it.

It's that easy & extremely helpful.  However if you are hanging something extremely heavy and/or breakable, you will want to take the time to locate the stud to attach it too.  These anchors are strong, but I would play it safe with any valuables.  I will have you know though, that they have been holding up an entire rack of clothes in our closet for three years now!

Have you used wall anchors?  How have they worked for you?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wedding Design: Love for Rustic

While we were planning our own wedding, I must have looked at THOUSANDS of photos online.  I literally spent entire days browsing through online site such as Project Wedding, Style Me Pretty, Martha Stewart Weddings & The Knot.  Occasionally I would find a great idea that I could incorporate into our wedding, but most of the time, I was falling in love with a lot of different styles of weddings, other than the one that we were planning.  Maybe it was growing up on a farm, maybe it was my husbands' love for the outdoors, but one of the styles I fell deeply in love with was the new "Rustic" style.

Rustic, you say?  Like a dirty old barn?  Not, even close!  The title of this style might be misleading, so let me give you a little idea of what a 2010 Rustic wedding looks like.

Image from Martha Stewart Weddings

Image from Project Wedding

Image from Project Wedding

 Image from Project Wedding

They are simple, elegant & chic.  Using colors like moss green, coffee brown, mocha, ivory and even a touch of gold, one can bring in just about any element from nature & incorporate it into the style.   It's a style that is being used widely in the wedding world right now, and when done well, this design style is amazing. 

One specific element that I really adored, was using slices of tree trunks for the base of centerpieces, or using a couple of them them as a guest book to be signed or carved into.  Here is one example that turned out beautifully, where they use several slices as cake stands... and they are incredible!

Image from Once Wed

Image from Once Wed

The thing that really pulls together this whole style,  however, is the right venue.  A formal hall, or a beautiful ball room is not exactly the right space for this type of style.  When I think of a rustic wedding I think of an outdoor ceremony under a big oak tree dripping with hanging votives.  I think of an old barn, with thousands of twinkle lights draped from the ceiling.  Something like this:

Image from here

Image from Project Wedding

Image from Martha Stewart Weddings
I think that this style can make a wedding seem very intimate and personal.  The accents from nature bring a little something extra to the decor & it looks amazing.  So if you love this style and are getting married soon, search around for local farms.  Some of them are really starting to cater to brides since this trend has really taken off.  Actually, I really would love to start incorporating some of this design into my home.  It really brings the outside in and it's warm and inviting.

What do you guys think?  Would you do a rustic wedding?  I think that if I had it all to do over again, it would be one of the top contenders!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More Inspiration - Grey & White

I am personally in LOVE with the color combo of grey and white right now.  It's not as harsh as black and white, and it can be very chic.  I think that this combination could work for just about any room in the house, but today I've looked at it for your living room/ den. 

This board is slightly more feminine, using furniture with thin legs & curvy forms, but I don't think that when put together with everything else that it would necessarily be a feminine room.  A chunky coffee table or end table could offset the delicate furniture very nicely.

I have also added a couple modern colors to the mix to make the room more "now" than just the classic grey and white.  I've added an eggplant purple and a yellow gold color to the mix.  Keep in mind that the addition of "yellow gold" does not prevent you from mixing in a few silver pieces, as evident in the chandelier shown on the board.

1. Sutton Sofette - West Elm  2. Hoopla Amber Table Lamp - Crate & Barrel  3. Henry Sofa - West Elm  4. Sylvia Pedestal Accent Table - Pottery Barn  5. Whirlwind Metal Wall Art - Bed Bath & Beyond  6. Kailyn 5Lite Chandelier Lamp - Target  7. Abby Mauve Decorative Pillow - Target  8. Home Textured Throw - Target

In this situation, I think that you would do best with a soft grey wall and a slightly off-white trim color combo.  You could add a wonderful eggplant chaise, or pair of footstools to throw in more color & accent with dark wood (even as dark as black) for the coffee table, television stand, etc.

I love this combo & would really love to use this in my house... if I just had an extra room....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Busy Weekend

Well I just wanted to send up a quick post, letting everyone know that I'll try to add more content this afternoon.  We had a super busy weekend with friends in town, my dad was visiting & my sister's swearing in.. That's right, my sister is officially a lawyer!  So a big congrats to her!

We did absolutely NOTHING to our house this weekend - not even cleaning or laundry :( so I'll get back to the posts as soon as I can.  In the meantime, check out some of the other tabs.  I have put together a tab on our wedding & all the details, which was nearly 5 months ago now.  There is also a tab accumulating information about our house, one about our projects & another about color and design inspiration that I'm trying to add to every day.  The DIY pages and general wedding pages are so far empty, but won't be for long!  Keep checking back - you'll see info soon.

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Our Home: Dining Room

Our home is far from complete... it is a huge work in progress. As I have mentioned before, we have combined our stuff, filled in the gaps & now we're trying to decorate it to make it more like "home". Its usually a matter of purchasing a bunch of items, trying them out and figuring out what you like and what you don't. A home is always evolving.

When we moved into our house - everything was stark white.  Not just stark white, but almost "white-washed".  Whatever paint was used, was awful and everywhere. 

Personal Photo

The first project was to pick out a color palette & paint those walls!  My dear friend, and now cousin-in-law, Christy, helped me to paint nearly every piece of trim on the first floor of that house.  We washed it, used liquid sandpaper, and painted it all.  12" baseboards, door frames, window casings & crown molding.  It took us days to get it all done.  Then it was time for the painting brigade to come in.  Mom, Dad, sister, Matt's parents, and lots of friends came over and helped us paint the living room, dining room, kitchen and two bedrooms upstairs.  We figured it would be much easier to do before there was furniture!

We picked a fairly neutral palette.  A light sage green for the walls of the living room and a dark mossy green for the walls of the dining room and foyer.  The trim is all done in a light cream while the accent color was to be a dark red.  The house had been recently, and cheaply, carpeted, so we were left with a beige colored carpet for now.

We then moved in all of our stuff.  This is how our dining room looked just after the move.

Personal Photo

The dining room set is my Grandmother's.  When she moved into her smaller apartment, she didn't need the dining set, so it went into storage until I could use it.  I love the cherry wood and the cool 1940's lines.  The walls were still pretty stark - no art had made it up yet & no decor had really been set out yet.

But time has past, we have put things away, gotten more and the house is becoming our home.  This is what our dining room looks like today:

Personal Photos

Still not completed, but on it's way.
The sewing machine still needs to find a permanent home, I have to repot the plants & I'm still looking for the perfect tray to put under our collection of cool bottles on the server.  I'm sure you will see some of these projects, as they happen, here on the blog.

Some of the changes:  We added the glass top wine rack (which is SUPER useful & we love), we have changed everything in the display cabinets & art has made it up onto the walls.  The Monet is from my dad - Matt and I saw a Monet exhibit for our first anniversary & then another one again in NYC this past fall.  The Picasso print was Matt's.  Most of the items in the cabinets are gifts from our wedding.  I love the corner display cabinets, they are very convenient, and even have hidden storage below.
The runner that you see on the table was another DIY from the wedding.  I am pretty new to sewing, my mother got me the machine & this was my first attempt at "hemming" anything.  I had made that to sit under our signing frame on the escort card table.  However, the black and silver pattern doesn't really go with our dining room, so I will be making another runner.  I'm totally in love with burlap right now, and because you can get it in different colors, ultimately I will want to make a light green burlap runner for the table, probably about 18" wide.  Something like the image below... not what you think of when you think burlap, right?  I love it, and think it would make a perfect addition to the table.

Image from Real Simple

So that is our Dining Room.  A work in progress.  We took hand-me-down furniture, gifts and a little DIY to make it into something we really enjoy.

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Life as a "Planner"

I probably should have picked a career as an Event Coordinator, or Wedding Planner. 

Why, you ask.  I am a planner by nature, and an organized one at that.  It comes from my mother's side; my mother is a planner, her sisters and mother are planners, etc. etc.  Why am I thinking about this right now?  Well it's time for me to buy a 2011 planner.   That's right, I'll stand up and admit it - I'm a paper planner girl.  I am not anti-technology, far from it in fact.  I use a computer all day long, I have a cell phone, an MP3 player.. And I really did try for a long time to try to get into using a palm pilot or keeping my calendar on my work computer - but it never worked for me.  I am a write it down & cross it out kinda girl and I don't think I'll ever change.

Photo from Real Simple

My 2010 planner got quite a workout with our wedding and I'm in the market for a new one.  Is it just me, or does anyone else have a planner that looks like this: stuffed to the brim with mail, paper, notes & paper and pages filled with "to do's" and "reminders"?  My schedule got so busy that I would fill up the day, run into the margins, and then add post-it notes over it to add more stuff to do.  Unfortunately there is no other way for me to stay organized. 

In the past I have gotten a planner like the one above, with a week laid out on two pages - unfortunately, I think I need to expand.  This year I took each day and drew a line down the middle.  The left was a personal list, the right was a work one.  I ran out of room on a LOT of days.  So I might have to find one that gives me a little more room to write.  I am also not a fan of the planners that have the pages laid out so that they have a whole day on the page with the times of the day written on the side.  I don't know what time I'm going to call the gas company, I just have to do it.. I don't want to "schedule it", I just want to write it down.  I am a list girl, like I said before, I like to write it down and cross it out.

I was raised on lists, my mother was the ultimate list maker and I learned that behavior from her.  Every morning in the summer, my sister and I awoke to find our "list" of chores for the day.  I remember my mother making her grocery store lists for the week.  Still to this day when she has a party, she has a list of what needs to get done.  Me, I make lists for everything - what I need to do & who I need to call,  all of the stores I need to stop at on the weekend, grocery lists, Christmas lists... it even spilled into my work life - I make lists of what I need to work on, I even make lists for everyone else!  I even found myself making a list of things I needed to do before our Halloween party... what is a girl to do?

Photo from Real Simple

So the search begins for the perfect planner - not too big, but not too small.  It has to fit in my purse, but it has to have more room.  I'm sure I'll stop by all the usual stores - Target, Office Max - but will I find the perfect one?  Only time will tell.  Fifty-Six days to find one, Fifty-Six days till the end of the year - and why do I know that?  It's written in my planner.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Our DIY Headboard

For the past four or more years, the pillows on our bed have been falling back behind the mattress.  When you would go to bed at night, everything was perfect, but when you'd wake up in the morning, one of your pillows was missing.  Why? you ask.  We never had the extra cash to splurge on a headboard. 

The bed that we bought was a platform frame from West Elm, and we decided that we weren't able to spend the extra $450 on the headboard... why did you need one of those anyway? Unfortunately, we found out the answer, every night for years, before we decided to do something about it.

I had heard talks, and read countless pages about how to make your own headboard.  Fabric headboards, ones made out of old kitchen cabinets, even ones made out of old doors or tables.  "Just a few simple steps" they all claimed.  But all of them seemed to go far beyond our fairly new DIY skills, so I decided to design something easy for us.

I apologize in advance that I didn't take step by step photos of this process.  It was before we decided to start blogging, so I'll do my best with sketches to show the process.

This is what I came up with:
Easy?  You say?
It made all the sense in the world to me.

MDF... check
2x3's... check
High Density Foam... check
Batting... check

The first step was to figure out exactly what size headboard we wanted and where we wanted it to sit in regards to our mattress.

In all the posts that I had read, no one addressed where the headboard should hit the mattress.  We decided that in order for things to stop falling behind the mattress, the headboard should go down to about half-way to the bottom of the mattress.  You can sort of make this out on the sketch page.  There was one thing we didn't account for, but I'll talk about that later in the "lessons learned" section.

We have a queen bed.  The bed frame is 62" wide, so in order to give us a little more room on either side of the framing elements, we decided to make the headboard 64" wide.  We also decided that we wanted the top of the headboard to be 44" above the finished floor.  We gave ourselves 14" off the floor, which put the headboard against the back of the mattress, and made it an even 30" tall.

Next we headed out to buy our materials.  Yes we needed the obvious things like wood, foam & batting, but we also needed nuts & bolts, spray adhesive, wood glue, a spade bit & of course fabric!  We used the following materials:

*1/2" MDF (4x8 sheet)
*1- 2"x3"x8' piece of lumber
*2" thick high density foam to cover headboard
*Cotton/ polyester batting
*Fabric large enough to cover the headboard size, the thickness of the batting, foam & MDF with a few inches to spare for stapling.
*Four 5/8" bolts (w/ 4 washers and 4 nuts) for attaching headboard to the frame
*Four bolts (with 8 washers & 4 nuts to attach headboard frame to bed frame (this will vary depending on your bed frame)
*spray adhesive
*gorilla glue
*1" spade bit
*1/4" finishing staples

The first step was the "frame" that was attached to the bed frame.  Our wood bed frame had holes ready for the attachment of a headboard.  We decided to use 2x3's and to attache them with bolts to the existing frame.  We made the 2x3's 42" tall, leaving 2" at the top for the batting and fabric overlap that we will get to later.

One of the important factors of our headboard was that we wanted to make the padded portion removable.  Over the years this bed could change rooms, the room could change colors & we wanted to be able to remove the padded portion and reupholster it.  This is easily accomplished with bolts attached to the MDF and bolted onto the frame.  All we had to do was drill holes through the MDF & the 2x3's at corresponding locations.  But we didn't want bolts sticking out the back and scratching up the wall.  So we measured exactly what the assembly would be:  1/2" MDF + 1-1/2" Framing member = 2".  We got 2" long 5/8" bolts & counter sunk them into the 2x3's 1/2" inch.  So the holes on the front of the frame were just large enough for the bolts & the holes on the back were 1" around, so that there was room to screw on the washers and bolts.   These holes were 2" down from the top of the 2x3's & 4" up from the bottom of the MDF headboard.

The next step was the MDF.  We drilled 4 holes in the MDF to correspond to the holes in the 2x3's.  We used gorilla glue to glue the 4 bolts through these holes.  The heads of the bolts would be embedded in the foam, so that the threaded portion stuck out the back.  We lets this dry overnight, cut off the excess foam from the gorilla glue & moved on to the next step.  The image below shows what this step looked like if attached to the frame.

Next we took the 2" thick, high density foam and cut it to fit the MDF.  The foam that we got from JoAnn's was 90" long and 24" wide.  We cut the foam into three 30" pieces & trimmed the middle piece to fit the 64" dimension.  At first we thought we should carve out spaces for the bolts to sit flush, but after we applied the foam, we realized that you couldn't feel the bolts at all thru the foam.  So we sprayed the MDF, stuck on the foam and let it sit for a couple hours.

The next step was to apply the batting.  We got a twin size sheet for quilting purposes.  It was thick enough that we could fold it over so that it was three sheets thick & it fit the bed perfectly.  We sprayed spray mount onto the foam and added the batting layer by layer, spraying each layer to the last layer added.  We then trimmed the batting.  You can trim it to be the same size as the foam, or leave a little hanging over to make the fabric wrap the assembly a little easier.  We chose the latter.

Then we got out our stapling gun and attached the fabric.  We laid the fabric pattern-side down on the floor, laid the headboard on top of it, and started stapling.  We did one staple at the middle of each side to be sure that we had enough fabric.  Then we slowly started working out from the center to the corners. 

We checked a lot of website about how to tuck the corners, each having a different method, until we found one that we liked.  The way that we did ours was to take the pointed corner and fold it over to form a triangular shape.  We then folded the two remaining triangles straight down, to make a "pinched" corner.

Then all we did was attach the headboard to the frame and VIOLA!  Our very own fabric headboard.

Personal Photo

Maybe next time we'll try to tackle something more complicated... but we were pretty proud of ourselves with this one, and not a single pillow lost since the headboard was installed!

EDITED TO ADD - Lessons Learned:

I almost forgot that I had also said that I was going to post a "lessons learned" note after the post was over.  Remember I was talking about making sure that the headboard went down behind the mattress... well for us it caused a bit of an issue.  Because the headboard frame was attached directly to the bed frame & the headboard w/ MDF, foam, batting and fabric was close to 3" thick, it pushed the mattress forward quite a bit.. so much so that it no longer fit in the confines of the platform frame. 

The easy fix is to put a "wedge" in between the 2x3's and the bedframe.  Even an inch to an inch and a half, the same width of the 2x3's to make the headboard frame sit a little futher off the bedframe.