Category Archives: Easy Updates

Photography to Add Modern, Beachy Feel

Sometimes I look around and lament the fact that almost all of my furnishings and accessories are comprised of other peoples old things. I do love vintage and shopping secondhand, but I also don’t want my home to look dated and dowdy. I’d like to just go out and buy a clean-lined sofa and coffee table and a few shiny new accessories, to impart a more modern aesthetic. However, my real life budget holds me back from those larger purchases. So, I’m always looking for small ways to add bits of modern appeal.

I’ve come up with a plan to do a beach inspired photo display in the dining room. I’m not sure if it will be a gallery wall or if I’ll spread them out around the room, since I don’t have tons of wall space. I’ve taken quite a few beach photos throughout the years, of the different coasts I’ve visited. I might also add a few Etsy finds into the mix. I’d frame them all in simple, white picture frames. I think that photos like these will mesh well with the dining nook fabrics I chose last week.

These are the fabrics I ordered last Friday, for the dining bench.
These are the fabrics I ordered last Friday, for the dining bench.
Digital download, $5.80, from Lilandlola on Etsy.
Digital download, $5.80, from Lilandlola on Etsy.
Circle ocean digital download, $5.00 from happybearprints on Etsy.
Circle ocean digital download, $5.00 from happybearprints on Etsy.
Ocean print 16 x 20 for $15.00 by hazytone on Etsy.
Ocean print 16 x 20 for $15.00 by hazytone on Etsy.

 

Honing My Dining Room Design Plan

I’ve been side-tracked with other home design and organizing projects and neglected my dream of a relaxed, global but beachy feeling dining room. There are several projects that need to be completed in order to fulfill this vision. The first was refinishing the dining table, which I described in a previous post.

The completed dining table.
The completed dining table.

The second project on the list was creating pillows and a dining bench cushion, for a cozier dining nook. I finally ordered some fabric, and the patterns are NOT what I was planning on. A while back I wrote a post on combining fabric patterns, and highlighted the prints that I intended to use. This is what I had pulled together:

My original plan for fabrics in the dining room.
My original plan for fabrics in the dining room.

These are the prints I ended up ordering today:

These are the fabrics I ordered today, to complete my dining room vision.
These are the fabrics I ordered today, to complete my dining room vision.

In the end, I wanted the colors to feel brighter and happier. I always gravitate towards pale aqua and soft apricot as a pairing, and it seemed I was forcing the other color pallete a bit. This is how I’ll use each fabric.

This will cover the dining bench cushion. Joyful Leaf Paisley in White/Teal, $6.64/yd on fabric.com.
This will cover the dining bench cushion. Joyful Leaf Paisley in White/Teal, $6.64/yd on fabric.com.
I'll make two pillows out of this. It brings all of the colors together. Olana by Waverly, $15.17 on fabric.com.
I’ll make two pillows out of this. It brings all of the colors together. Olana by Waverly, $15.17 on fabric.com.
I wanted to pull in navy blue for a bit of contrast. Jiri Stripe in Navy/Birch, $12.96/yd on fabric.com.
I wanted to pull in navy blue for a bit of contrast. Jiri Stripe in Navy/Birch, $12.96/yd on fabric.com.
The warm tones complement the cool aqua of the bench fabric. I'll make a pillow out of this one. Tullahoma Ikat in Copper, $9.48/yd on fabric.com.
The warm tones complement the cool aqua of the bench fabric. I’ll make a pillow out of this one. Tullahoma Ikat in Copper, $9.48/yd on fabric.com.

Truly, I’d like to somehow add a back to the bench, to make it more comfortable to sit on for longer periods of time. I’m thinking of finding a headboard  to re-purpose and attach to it. The other elements I’ll add to pull the design together include painting my bookcases white and adding in some more modern decor accessories. I’m going to start with the bench project and I’ll keep you updated.

Add a Small Shelf for Big Organizing Help

Hanging a wall shelf in a small area where you just need a bit of a surface can really make a major organizational impact. I’m in need of one over my washing machine, so I can get the detergent, fabric softener and stain removing products off of the dryer. Here are a few ideas of other places where a little shelf might come in handy:

  • Near your front or back door, with a stylish dish for keys and wallets.
  • The area between your bathroom sink and the medicine cabinet.
  • Instead of a bedside table in a small bedroom, like mine.
  • Just above or to the side of the stove or cook-top for commonly used spices and oils.
  • On the wall just above your desk, to keep office supplies off of your work surface.
  • Above your dining room buffet for extra glassware and decorative accessories.

I searched Etsy and found some beautiful, handmade options that just might enhance  your home and fill an organizational need.

This is a pair of copper painted brackets, so you would have to supply your own wood. The maker can craft these to your desired measurements. $20 for this pair from Unique Wood Artwork.
This pair of copper painted steel brackets, fits a shelf one inch thick. You would have to supply your own wood, but the look is so pretty. $20 for this pair from Unique Wood Artwork.
A shelf for a shallow tray for your keys and mail on top and hooks to hang coats and bags underneath. Corvallis Coat Rack with Floating Shelf by KeoDecor.
A shelf for a shallow tray for your keys and mail on top and hooks to hang coats and bags underneath. Corvallis Coat Rack with Floating Shelf, $115 by KeoDecor.
These would look great in the kitchen or bath. Urban Industrial Pipe Floating Shelf $37.30 from Henry Lewis Home.
These would look great in the kitchen or bath. Urban Industrial Pipe Floating Shelf $37.30 from Henry Lewis Home.
A sleek and minimal look, but made of super strong steel. 13- Gauge Wall Shelf, $28 by Cream Street Shop.
A sleek and minimal look, but made of super strong steel. 13- Gauge Wall Shelf, $28 by Cream Street Shop.
this shelf is such a simple design, but makes a very cool statement. Hanging Pallet Shelf, $22.50 by Lee Art Designs.
This shelf is such a simple design, but makes a very cool statement. Hanging Pallet Shelf, $22.50 by Lee Art Designs.

 

Trends in Cabinet Hardware

Changing out or adding new cabinet knobs or pulls is an easy, and often low-cost way of updating the look of your kitchen, bath or a piece of furniture.  I’ve pulled together a few styles that are trending right now, to inspire you to make this happy little improvement to some corner of your home.

Acrylic. This crystal clear option would look so fresh and modern in the bathroom or kitchen. I absolutely LOVE the smoke-colored version too. So sophisticated!

Schaub and Company Positano 6" Pull. $13.40- $15 on pullsdirect.com.
Schaub and Company Positano 6″ Pull. $13.40- $15 on pullsdirect.com.

Natural Stone and Concrete. These are two materials you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find on a cabinet knob. They are each textural and expressive, sure to make a statement.

Lucy Concrete Knob. Set of 2 for $25 on rejuvenation.com.
Lucy Concrete Knob. Set of 2 for $25 on rejuvenation.com.
Swirled Agate Knobs. $24 on anthropologie.com.
Swirled Agate Knobs. $24 on anthropologie.com.
Druzy Quartz Knob. $18 on anthropologie.com.
Druzy Quartz Knob. $18 on anthropologie.com.

Extra Long Pulls. This is a classic, no fail way to make old cabinets feel more modern.  I suggest mounting them horizontally on cabinet doors as well as drawers, for a cohesive look.

Glide Rite 6 in. Stainless Steel Pull. Set of 10 for $26.99 on overstock.com.
Glide Rite 6 in. Stainless Steel Pull. Set of 10 for $26.99 on overstock.com.

Mismatched and Eclectic. I’m generally a fan of mixing patterns with fabrics, so why not knobs? Purchase various styles of a certain color or finish, or vise versa.

Marbled Solitare Knob. $10 each on anthropologie.com.
Marbled Solitare Knob. $10 each on anthropologie.com.
Various ceramic knobs, in sets of 2 for $2.38 - $4.78 on worldmarket.com.
Various ceramic knobs, in sets of 2 for $2.38 – $4.78 (current sale price) on worldmarket.com.

Ring Pulls. These little pulls work great for small drawers and doors. I could seem them on a reinvented vintage desk or hutch.

Bosetti Marella Ring Pull by Classic Hardware in Polished Brass. $7.03 on myknobs.com.
Bosetti Marella Ring Pull by Classic Hardware in Polished Brass. $7.03 on myknobs.com.
Top Knobs Nouveau II Finger Pull in Brushed Satin. $6.30 on pullsdirect.com.
Top Knobs Nouveau II Finger Pull in Brushed Satin. $6.30 on pullsdirect.com.

Five Incredible 8’x10′ Area Rugs Under $200

A couple hundred bucks can go along way to update the decor in your living space, and not much makes more of a design statement than an amazing area rug. Here are five 8′ x 10′ finds, all under $200.

Assembly Home Plus Sign Printed Rug, $199, on urbanoutfitters.com.
Assembly Home Plus Sign Printed Rug, $199, on urbanoutfitters.com.
nuloom chinky loop jute beige
Chunky Jute Rug in Beige, $170.58 on homedepot.com.
Traditional Vintage Inspired Overdyed Rug in Blue, $150.74 on Overstock.com.
Traditional Vintage Inspired Overdyed Rug in Blue, $150.74 on Overstock.com.
Brianna Area Rug in Yellow, $160.49 on Wayfair.com.
Brianna Area Rug in Yellow, $160.49 on Wayfair.com.
Selina White Easy Shag Rug, $ 198.03 on Wayfair.com.
Selina White Easy Shag Rug, $ 198.03 on Wayfair.com.

Pretty Patterned Lamp Shades

Trading a boring white lamp shade for a fun, patterned one is the easiest way to inject a playful element into your living space. Although I’ve been known to make my own, there are a dizzying array of choices available to purchase as well. Here, I’ve rounded up a few pretty ones, from several sites where you’ll find a great selection.

lamp shade flocked ogee target
Flocked Ogee from target.com.
lamp shade flocked criss cross target
Flocked Criss Cross from target.com.
lamp shade seedling overstock
Stockholm shade by Thomas Paul for Lamps Plus.
lamp shade star gazer nod
Star Gazer shade LandofNod.com.
lamp shade up and down minted
Up and Down shade minted.com.
lamp shade watercolor scallops minted
Watercolor Scallops shade minted.com.
lamp shade petaled echo minted
Petaled Echo shade minted.com.
lamp shade adventure camp minted
Adventure Camp shade minted.com.

You Don’t Need a Sewing Machine to Make New Pillow Covers

Around the holidays, I like to switch up my decor scheme just a touch, for added Christmas flair. I wanted to do a few changes this year, that might carry through into winter, so I wouldn’t have to take it all down right away. As I was searching for inspiration, I kept seeing images of cozy cabins festooned with tartan plaid prints and layered with Pendleton wool blankets and shearling accents. To capture a woodsy feel, but not go gung-ho log cabin, I bought some plaid flannel fabric at JoAnn, and made pillow covers.

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Possessing the ability to sew a straight line is such a game changer when it comes to quickly updating your home decor. You can make pillow covers, hem curtains and do basic upholstery too. I’ve had my sewing machine since I was a senior in high school. I’m not a talented seamstress by any measure, but I’ve got the straight line thing mastered.

After I cut my fabric last weekend, I headed down to my studio to set up my sewing machine. I got the bobbin loaded, the thread through the needle and positioned a pillow cover under the presser foot. And go! Only it didn’t. It got all hung up, and I tried and tried to trouble-shoot the issue, but I couldn’t figure it out.

I’m sure it is high time I had my sewing machine serviced, but I just don’t have the time to deal with it this month. What’s a determined decorator to do then? Well, I just happened to have some Stitch Witchery fusible web tape on hand, and to my great surprise, it worked like a charm! While I wouldn’t normally substitute sewing with this method, since I’m not planning on using these covers indefinitely, I wasn’t too concerned about long-term wear. This is also not a 100% no-sew project, because I closed up the pillow covers with hand-sewing. Here is what I did.

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Cut two pillow cover pieces one inch larger than the size of your pillow form. Example: My forms were 18″ x 18″, so I cut my pieces 19″ x 19″ for a 1/2″ seam allowance on each side. I use a Fiskars cutting mat, O’Lipfa Lip Edge Ruler, and Fiskars rotary cutter for this task. It makes very quick work of the job.

Lay your pieces right sides together. Pin around the sides.

Now cut strips of Stitch Witchery fusible web tape to match the length and width of your pillow. You’ll want them to overlap at each corner. My tape was too wide for the seam allowance I had planned on, so I cut the strips in half, length-wise. You’ll also need to leave a gap on one side, to slide the pillow form into the cover when it is finished.

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Sandwich the tape in between the cover pieces, making sure to keep the strips nice and straight and overlapping at the corners. Leave a decent-sized opening to put the pillow form inside. I think mine was around 10″.

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Heat up your iron, and press! Set your iron to wool, or another high setting. You’ll want to use either a damp pressing cloth, or a damp piece of plain cotton between your iron and the pillow cover, to protect your iron in case some of the fusible web tape escapes. Hold the iron in one spot for 10 seconds, then move on, until all the edges of  the cover are adhered.

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Turn the pillow cover right-side out. Now you can gently stuff your pillow into the opening. You can either sew it closed by hand, with a needle and thread, or try to add a strip of fusible web tape inside the seam allowance, and iron it closed. This can be difficult to do, with the pillow form inside.

And there you have it, a pretty simple pillow cover, no sewing machine required! I made three covers in all, in two different plaid prints. They joined two blue tweed pillows on the couch for a super cozy vibe. My cat Teddy can attest to that!

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Why I Didn’t get a Traditional Christmas Tree This Year

I do love trimming up a gorgeous Christmas tree, and over the years I have amassed a beautiful collection of glittering, festive ornaments. The tree usually takes a prominent spot in our living room and we rearrange the furniture to accommodate it.  My favorite part is how Thomas helps us put the ornaments on, and the tree ultimately ends up feeling very bottom heavy. Then we sit and watch Christmas movies in the twinkling glow of the tree’s tiny white lights. Magic!

Well, this year, we decided to change our approach for several reasons, most of them having to do with our adventurous ten-month-old baby. Lucy is an explorer by nature and would rather get into things she should not, than say, play with baby toys.  As our house is small, the main play area is our living room, and for the most part it is baby-proofed, so she can be free to roam and be safe while doing so. Adding a Christmas tree into this environment sounded like a recipe for constant headaches and countless “No, Lucy, don’t touch that!” moments.

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Instead of heading out to cut down a traditional Christmas tree, we went to Bremerton City Nursery and chose a five-foot-tall Leyland Cypress in a pot. We asked the gal on duty that day, Alex, lots of questions, and learned that if we were careful, we could keep this tree alive and use it again next year or plant it in the yard this spring.  We left feeling very encouraged that we could make it work. The following tips just about sum up her advice, but if you decide to do this yourself, I would certainly consult the experts in person, since I am not an authority.

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  • The tree can survive indoors for around three weeks, given the care it needs.
  • For a few days after you bring it home, leave it on a covered porch, next to the house, or in a daylight garage to ease into acclimating it to life indoors.
  • Place the tree near a window, so it can get natural light.
  • Give it lots of water, since the air in your home is much drier than it is outside, especially with the heater running.
  • Speaking of heaters, if you must place it near a heat vent, position the louvers on the grate to point the air away from the tree, or close them to block the airflow completely.
  • Get it back outside after Christmas, under cover for a few days, then it can be out on the patio, soaking up the winter rain.

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There are many varieties to choose from. Our Leyland Cypress has sort of a Charlie Brown feel, but we dressed it up with various metallic ornaments and a vintage paper garland that I made. I tried putting lights on it, but they looked a bit bulky. I just might order a string of those teeny, tiny “micro” lights, and see if they blend in any better.

micro fairy lights

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I put the tree’s pot inside a plastic garbage bag, to hold the excess liquid from watering it, then disguised that with a burlap coffee sack. Now it sits on our buffet in the dining room, and adds lots of holiday charm to the space. We eat in the dining room three times a day, so we get many opportunities to appreciate the tree’s simplistic beauty. I hung cedar garland with white lights in the living room, and decorated every surface with something Christmas-y, so we aren’t want for a festive feel at all. While I did miss the ritual of going to the tree farm with friends to select the perfect tree, I thoroughly enjoy our potted tree and the house doesn’t feel any less magical!

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How to Hang a Gallery Style Wall

This blank wall was just screaming for some art!
This blank wall was just screaming for some art!

Many of you might love the look of a salon-style gallery wall, with a cozy mash up of art and family photos, but may feel intimidated by how to get the right look. My friend Kim was in the same boat. She had all of the pieces she wanted, but needed help coming up with the right configuration, so that the wall would feel balanced. Here is the process we went through to get it right.

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Lay out all of the pieces on the floor in front of the wall they will hang on. Play with the configuration until you achieve a sense of balance. Consider the largest pieces first, they will naturally be your anchors. If you have just one larger piece, it might look best in the center, with the smaller pieces surrounding it. Kim had two larger pieces, so we split them up, essentially dividing the wall into three equal zones.  Also scrutinize the use of color in the pieces. Kim had dashes of red that we wanted to sprinkle through-out.

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Now use a roll of butcher or art paper and trace around each piece, then cut it out. Make marks on the front of the paper that indicate where the hooks or hangers are located. Using painter’s tape, adhere these to the wall in roughly the same configuration you had on the floor.

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Move them around until they look and feel right. You want to consider the negative space between just as much as the pieces themselves. Keep the spacing as equal as you can. Use a ruler if you need to, or just eyeball it. Step back and look at it from a distance.

Allow for the furniture that will be under the pieces. Kim’s sofa was 36″ high. We left nine inches of space between the top of the sofa and the bottom of the art work. You need a bit of breathing room so you won’t knock a piece down, but you don’t want your art so far above that the furniture, that it feels disconnected and un-grounded.

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Once you have the paper exactly where you want it, check that your marks for the hangers are level and centered before driving in any nails. Use picture hooks or regular nails for smaller things, and larger picture hooks or drywall anchors and screws for heavy pieces. Hang a couple of the larger pieces as you go to make sure you like where the grouping is headed. Remove the paper once you have the nails or hooks in place.

Hang your art!

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While making the paper mock-ups is a bit laborious, I think it saves time in the end. It also saves you from making too many errant holes in the wall. We ended up only needing to move one piece up a few inches from where our first hole was, due to its weight once hanging. The red “R” though, was another story.  The hanging holes were in odd spots, and it was extremely difficult to get that letter level! Lots of holes for that one, in fact, I lost count. Good thing Kim was already planning on giving that room a new coat of paint, after our hanging day! She can patch the holes then.

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The salon-style wall is such a good looking way to fill a big blank wall with character and to display a collection of art or photos. You can match all of the frame and mat styles, or go rogue and make it an artful mix. I just love the way a wall like this adds a layer of coziness and personality to a room.