HOUSE TO HOME: DECORATING ON A BUDGET.

When my husband and I moved into our house a little over two years ago, it became our chance to mold and define our style together – other than a bed, an armoire (which I hate, by the way!), a couch, a chair, and an entertainment unit, we were starting fresh. And while there has been plenty of compromise and concession (ehem, like that armoire…), our house is finally evolving into a home that reflects our life and lifestyle together.

It’s a never-ending process, of course. The fact that we try to do as much as we can ourselves and by hand has slowed us down drastically! But this is something that I can’t help but appreciate (although sometimes not  until after the fact…) – a lot of blood, sweat, and tears have gone into this home so far!

So as someone who very much cares about the look of her home, has made an attempt to decorate said home on a budget, and as a self-taught DIY’er, I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve learned along the way:

1. Use what you already have.

Game TableKitchen Island 2

Ever heard the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” Well, it’s time to start shopping your own trash and rediscover those hidden treasures! This entertainment unit, for example, was such an eyesore in my home. I hated it, despised it, and very badly wanted to trash it. My frugal husband, on the other hand, could see no logical reason in getting rid of it and since it was only purchased a couple years prior, insisted on keeping it. That’s where a good ole can of paint and a paintbrush come in – if you can’t toss it, then paint it! In just a few hours, I was able to transform the entertainment unit to something that meshed with our home décor and didn’t offend my sense of style. Is it ideal? Not quite, but it works for now. Which leads me to…

2. Be patient! Transforming a house into a home doesn’t – and shouldn’t – happen overnight.

When we first moved into this house, I wanted everything to be perfect immediately. I wanted every single room to feel complete, with rugs and curtains, a full set of furniture, a fresh coat of paint, and all the comforting details of a room that has been lived in. Problem was, the rooms hadn’t yet been lived in, not by us at least, and by trying to create something that only time and patience and living can create actually created nothing more than a stressful and artificial atmosphere. Take the time to find the rug that really appeals to you, a paint color that makes you light up every time you walk into a room, artwork that truly reflects your personality, and a dining table that you can imagine sitting at with friends and family for many, many years to come. Until then, get creative and make what you have work. Believe me, it’s worth it. This patience is also much easier on the wallet!

3. If you can’t find what you want at a price that you want it, then build it.

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My husband and I love the look of original, distressed wood but this kind of furniture often comes with a hefty price tag. Luckily, we had the fortune of discovering old pallets and naturally weathered wood behind our shed when we moved and over the years, have put it to good use. So far, we have built a giant chalkboard, a console table, a sofa table, and a patio table and still have wood to spare! Don’t have weathered wood sitting behind your shed? Craigslist is the perfect place to find some. If weathered wood isn’t your thing, your local Lowes or Home Depot should do the trick! You can find the plans to build practically anything online.

Chalkboard

4. Flea Markets and yard sales are your friend!

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Going right back to that phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”….it’s so true! I have found some amazing pieces for pennies simply by taking the time to scour thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales. Sure, there are a lot of misses, but that one, perfect hit makes it all worthwhile.

Bench & Crate

(PS…crates are great for storing puppy or children’s toys!)

5. Paint your walls!

This is the first thing my husband and I did when we moved in – we painted our hallway and dining room in a color we love, and then we painted the living room, and the library, and then the kitchen; we painted an accent wall in the guest room and painted the nursery (once my office) twice. It’s amazing how something as simple as painting a wall can completely change a room, brighten it up, or add drama.

6. Create your own art.

Hats

Art is expensive and I am still in the process of finding the right pieces to fill my walls. However, one way I have managed to fill the empty space is simply by creating a hanging collection: a gallery of photos, a collection of hats and scarves, wall shelving filled with ironstone, even coats. Have a few old windows or empty frames laying around? Gather them together and layer them up! If you have scraps of pretty patterned material from your sewing supplies or old shirts, frame them and hang them. You can even collect a variety of leaves and flowers during your morning walk or afternoon hike, dry them for a few days between a phonebook, and again, frame them and hang them. Get creative!

Dining Room Ironstone

In the end, a little creativity goes a long way and not only creates a home with a lot of personality, but also gives your wallet a little break. And believe me, I still have a long list of tips to share so stay tuned – I’ll be continuing the series next week!

Have some suggestions and home decorating tips to share? I’d LOVE to hear them!

GO BOLD & GO STRIPES!

Ok, I’m starting to see a bit of a pattern here – first, I paint a fun little stripe on this dresser:

Antique Dresser Green

Then I go and buy this oh-so adorable diaper bag, and then up go the stripes in the nursery:

Nursery in Progress

And today, I actually find myself wearing not one but two layers of stripes! Do you see where this is going? I think it’s leading to a bit of an infatuation…

Yes, I can’t deny that my eye has been drawn to the bold pattern of stripes: rugs, curtains, couches, clothing, shoes – you name it, and I probably want it in stripes. Perhaps it’s the heat of summer, or the dramatic bundle of joy that’s about to enter my life, or maybe it’s simply a way to escape the many realities pounding at the back door, but most recently, I’ve been gaga for even bolder and sometimes whimsical stripes of black and white.

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(By the way, this amazing room reminds me of this gorgeous bag currently on my wish list!)

Not just any black and white, of course, but black and white with that bright, happy pop of color. There’s something so surreal and positive about this combination – it’s empowering! But as empowering as it is, it does not have to overpower a room.

The rug in the room you see above, for example, is most definitely bold, but instead of the eye being drawn directly to the rug, it is ever-so-slightly diffused by the pop of turquoise and the whitespace above it – the eye is first drawn to the rug, then up to the turquoise table, and then further up to the patterned throw pillows (which pop against neutral background of the couch), and then finally to the whitespace and elegant artwork. Now imagine this whitespace filled with a colorful collection of art – whoa! A little too much going on there, eh? Without a focal point, the eye doesn’t know where to land, and what is individually bold and beautiful simply becomes a jumbled mess of color.

Allow the stripes to become center-stage by creating a bold white-space around it.

If you’d prefer to add stripes a little less in-your-face, consider the smaller pin stripe. And rather than using whitespace as a separate focal point, create a neutral background.

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For example, the gallery of artwork you see above is simple and elegant. It has in it a touch of color but nothing that overwhelms the senses – the blue floral painting with gilded frame being the most eye-catching (which the blue throw pillow on the couch draws the eye away from). And despite the stripes, the natural color of the rug maintains a calming presence. The bold stripes of the couch now becomes diffused by the natural, earthy tones surrounding it. The eye is initially drawn to the couch and as it sweeps across the rest of the room without another focal point to land on, it then takes in the whole picture – the layers blend together to create a glamorous yet relaxing atmosphere.

Give the stripes a more easy-going presence with a neutral, earthy backdrop combined with smaller, thinner stripes.

Of course, if your home is anything like mine – down-to-earth and rustic with a cottage-y feel, you may feel like there just isn’t any room for the boldness of black and white! But don’t give up hope my friends, there is always room…

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You can add a lightweight and naturally textured throw rug at your back door. What an amazing juxtaposition with the otherwise distressed and rustic detail! And that pop of red – oh my.

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You can add it to wicker to maintain that cottage look with a slightly glamorous twist.

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Or you can add it into your tablescapes – indoor or out.

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You can create a little glamour just for the bedroom…

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Or you can simply wear it!

So tell me, how do you plan to infuse stripes into your life?

NESTING & NURSERY PROGRESS!

Well hello my friends – I can’t believe it’s been a month since I last blogged! (Time flies when you’re having fun). Yes, I’ve been in full nesting mode and have been working on a handful of projects that I’m excited to share with you.

First, I have finally made progress on the nursery! You see, I’ve had an idea in my head from the moment I realized I was expecting, but have been dreading the process of actually bringing it to reality – specifically, the painting process. Sure, I do paint for a living, but painting multiple stripes on multiple walls does not sound the slightest bit appealing to me. Add to that a 100 year old home with crooked walls and floors and it’s a recipe for disaster!

But one rainy day I decided to go for it – if it didn’t work out I could just paint over it, right? And after much measuring, taping (a roll and a half of frog tape, to be exact!), and more than a few hissy fits, things finally began to take shape…

Nursery Progress 1 copy

(ps…I love, love, LOVE this diaper bag I got from Skip Hop!)

A day and a half later, the straight-ish lines were complete and the crib put together…

Nursery in Progress

And now comes the fun part – the details! I can’t wait to start shopping for the baby blankets, artwork, and pops of color…10 more days until I find out the gender!!

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Obviously, I’ve had baby on the brain, but I have also managed to complete a few projects not at all baby related.

Like this dresser that sold in less than a day, and it’s now very lonely counterpart…

Dresser & Nightstand Set

Or this outdoor table (built by my wonderful husband) that I painted in ASCP Old White and stained using an aged vinegar and steel wool mixture…

Patio Table

Thank goodness I put on multiple layers of spar urethane before the downpour! Now to purchase new chairs….

And as usual, I have a few other projects that I’m working on simultaneously that I hope to finish after this non-stop rain!

Projects Galore

With a little help from the dogs, of course!

But back to baby….almost 21 weeks (on Wednesday)!

20 Weeks copy 1

20 Weeks copy 2

20 Weeks copy 3

Obviously this was taken on a productive painting day!

TAKE ME THERE: ELLEN & PORTIA’S SANTA MONICA RANCH

If you’ve seen the cover of May’s Elle Décor, then you’ve seen a little slice of heaven. And if you turn to page 166, you’ll be transported into a rustic haven surrounded by the natural beauty of the Santa Monica mountains:

What was once the estate of actor William Powell in the 1920’s, then a monastery, later a rehab center, and then finally a professional horse facility before being purchased by the current homeowners, has now become the personal stomping grounds and decorating project of Ellen Degeneres and Portia De Rossi.

And decorate they did!

After much renovation to the multiple structures on the 26-acre property, Ellen and Portia created a sophisticated country lifestyle amongst the property’s 8 cabins and large barns…

I’ve daydreamed of a farmhouse fixer upper so with a little inspiration from the above, I’ve created my own little rustic retreat…

THE CORNER OFFICE

If you read my previous post, you just may have heard the happy news: we’re expecting! And with a baby on the way, my mind is running a million miles a minute with all the things I need to do before the big arrival. I want every room in my home to be picture-perfect and magazine ready. I want to finish every single unfinished project sitting around the house. And I already have a collection of quick, easy, and healthy recipes that may possibly rival Martha Stewart’s. Some people like to call it “nesting,” but I just call it “crazy.”

And I’m pretty sure my crazy started with the nursery.

I have grand plans for the nursery, you see, but before I could get started on la chambre de bebe, I had to move my office/craft room into an itty bitty corner of the guest room. I felt a little disgruntled about getting stuffed into a corner (nobody puts Baby in the corner!) so to ease my crazy and to give myself a little pick-me-up, I purchased a new desk.

I think we’ve all seen the parsons desk (via West Elm) through our Pinterest stalking browsing…

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…and since I’ve had my eye on it for quite some time, that’s exactly what I went with.

It’s a little outside my typical cottage-vintage style, but I love it. It’s sleek, it’s modern, and just a little glam with its glossy finish.

Corner Office 3 EditedCorner Office Edited 2

Corner Office Edited

I need to hide the wiring and one day get a new computer, but as far as the office goes, I think crazy is content for a little while. Now on to the next room….

OH EMERALD, HOW DO I LOVE THEE? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS…

I think it’s important that we all add a little sparkle to our lives and, other than spending a small fortune on shiny trinkets, there’s no easier way than by implementing Pantone’s 2013 color of the year – EMERALD!

PANTONE COLOR OF THE YEAR 2013 - Emerald 17-5641

Initially, I was a bit surprised at this announcement. Emerald is a gorgeous color, indeed, but it’s also quite a bold one. But after a little research, I am absolutely and utterly enamored:

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Emerald silk curtains just ooze lusciousness!

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Throw in an emerald (and velvet!) settee and I am in heaven.

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Adding that small pop of emerald to a neutral base is a great way to ease into the color (remember: accessorize, accessorize, accessorize!).

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But if you’d like to get a little more playful, consider mixing emerald with turquoise or teal…

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Or perhaps a little dash of plum…

richard goullet interior designer

richard goullet interior designer

Or if you’re feeling particularly bold…

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As for me, while I may not be so bold, I have certainly found my own inspiration:

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Oh yes, I can guarantee that a few of my furniture pieces will have that pop emerald!

However you choose to infuse emerald into your life, it’s bound to bring a little joy, and just in time for the holidays!

Oh emerald, how I love thee indeed. Smile

DIY THURSDAY: ENTERTAINMENT UNIT REDO.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have gotten a peek of my entertainment unit redo last night. I think I let my excitement get ahead of me!

It’s quite amazing how easily a quick paint job can change the dynamic of an entire room. Initially, the entertainment unit was the monstrosity in the room – The Big Black Box was the focal point indeed:Living Room TV

I’ve been wanting to paint this sucker the moment we brought it into this house, and after finally convincing the husband that it was a go, I also had to convince him to unplug all the cables and go without TV for a couple of days, and it just so happened that it was during the SEC and NFL games. Oops…

But the weather was cooperating – almost 70 degrees! – and I could wait no longer. So we lugged it outside and I immediately went to work.

First, I removed the backing, shelving, and doors, and then sanded the entire piece down just to rough it up a bit in order to give the paint something to hold on to. I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint for the majority of the piece, which typically requires little to no sanding, but I wanted avoid applying a half dozen layers!

Entertainment Unit Sanded

I then applied a thick layer of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in French Linen to avoid any seepage of black when applying the Old White.

Entertainment Unit French Linen

Once this base layer was dry, I gave it an allover light sand with 220-grit sandpaper to smooth it down, and then began applying the Old White.

Entertainment Unit White

I applied two layers of Old White on the exterior and just a quick layer of the white on the interior and again, used 220-grit to smooth things out. *Typically, you do not need to sand between layers. Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint is meant to give that hand-painted and matted affect for that distressed and aged look that everyone loves so much. I wanted to go for only a very light distress, however. Sanding with high grit paper allows for a smoother surface and offers a very light sheen rather than a matted finish.

Once the Old White was fully dry, I painted the interior in a custom blue using Louis Blue and Old White.

Unfortunately, at this point, I noticed the weather becoming a little less cooperative – a large and dark rain cloud was blowing in – so I quickly finished up with the blue, allowed the paint to fully dry, lightly distressed the edges using 150-grit paper, and then lugged the piece inside. (And in my hurry, I forgot to take the remaining pictures!)

In between bouts of rain, I painted the backing in my custom blue, the doors in yet another custom and slightly lighter blue, and the shelves in Old White. And finally, once everything was dry, I lugged the unit back outside to spray the top and interior in a crystal clear enamel to give it a tough, protective finish (I knew the top and interior would get a bit of a beating over the years, so I wanted to avoid the waxed finish).

Finally, I left the putting back together of the unit to the hubby while I basked in my accomplishment. Once things were in working order, I added some ribbon detail to the doors, and here it is today…

Entertainment Unit Styled

Entertainment Unit Macro

Entertainment Unit Styled 2

Better, don’t you think? It really blends into the room and brightens things up! I’ve added a few more touches of blue throughout the room to tie it all together and now feel much more at home. It’s amazing what a little paint can do!

Linked to:

Furniture Feature FridaysCherished Bliss

THE BIG BLACK BOX–REVISED…

If you refer all the way back to this post, you’ll recall just how much I hate my entertainment unit. My husband bought it when we were in our previous and much more modern apartment in DC, but now that we are in our 1918 farmhouse style home, it simply clashes…with everything.

Living Room TV

The Big Black Box

While I couldn’t throw the piece out the door as was my initial instinct, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands with paintbrush and a few cans of paint.

I still have a few finishing touches, but here is a sneak peak:

Entertainment Unit Peek

Pictures and tutorial coming Thursday (oh, the suspense…)!

It still boggles my mind that it is next to impossible to actually find pictures of a television styled in a home. Although, I suppose it does make perfect sense – who really wants to see a towering and overbearing TV in the glossy pages of a magazine? But the reality of it is, we all have one. And if you happen to have a husband that enjoys football, you probably have a very large one! Truly, it’s impossible to hide so one must make do…

I think Miss Mustard Seed was the first to post a full frontal photo of an enormous TV setup that I actually liked:

She’s simply amazing, isn’t she?

I’ve come across a few interesting options since, so for those of you like me that have to live with the dreaded Big Black Box, this is for you!

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Offset your TV on a large console with oversized art.

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Frame your TV within a mantle piece. Or, if the TV is too large for a mantle (like mine) find or build a large, gilded frame to contain it.

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Just put it all out there on an oversized easel!

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Built-ins are your friend.

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Or just stick it in a corner.

What do you think? How do you integrate and style your own “Big Black Box?” Pictures and ideas would be appreciated!

DIY THURSDAY: SEASONAL WREATH & A BOXWOOD FIND.

‘Tis the season. I am slowly packing up my Fall décor and transitioning over to Christmas – I’ve given myself until Dec. 1 to get in gear! And while I have yet to unpack the boxes brimming with Christmas spirit, I have found a moment to get my holiday craft on.

Before diving into my DIY, however, I must divulge to you a most amazing deal! I mentioned in a previous post that Trader Joes was selling boxwood wreaths, but at the time I wasn’t quite sure of cost or size. Well, I happened to swing by Trader Joes yesterday and to my disbelief, these adorable and perfectly sized wreaths were only $9.99! Needless to say, I left with an armful (and a dazzling smile). At such a fabulous price, I highly recommend grabbing a few for yourself before they are all out!

Boxwood Doubled

I then headed to Michael’s and left with an armful of supplies…

My first task was to hang up my newly purchased boxwood wreaths. Two of them were perfect as is for my dining room French doors – I simply wrapped a ribbon around each and pinned them to the door. For my third boxwood, I wanted to add a little zest, so I wove in a few berries, added a couple of doves, a few pinecones, and again, hung with ribbon:

Boxwood Styled

Now full of holiday spirit, I moved on to my next project:

Twig Wreath Unfinished

I picked up this guy while at Michael’s, as well as this:

Materials

So with the Krylon in hand, I lightly sprayed the wreath to give it that frosted look, allowed the paint to dry, and then sprayed the snow in areas where snow would typically gather…

Twig Wreath Sprayed

I then wove in a few red berries and added a couple of cardinals for that pop of color (unfortunately, the Charlottesville Michael’s was out of a lot of supplies so I only managed to snag two of them, but as soon as a new shipment comes in, I’ll be adding more!).

Here is what it looks like in the meantime, simple and sweet:

Twig Wreath

Finally, since I didn’t quite complete the above wreath and my hands were itching for another project, I decided to fashion another, smaller, sheet music wreath for my living room mantle:

Sheet Music Wreath

(yeah, that’s an a/c vent you see there, right in the center of my living room wall! Not sure why the renovator decided to place it there…but it is the bane of my existence. I try to hide it as much as possible!)

You can find the tutorial here.

After this little bit of crafting, I’m now feel like I’m on a roll. Next: the mantles. Time to break out my big box of Christmas!

CYBER MONDAY: A FEW GOOD SALES!

While I wholly admit that I avoid Black Friday with a 100’ pole, Cyber Monday is another story. There’s nothing quite like shopping sales from the comfort of my own home! Unfortunately, rather than shopping for gifts as I should be, I’m getting sucked into a little retail therapy for myself. I know I wrote a post this morning, but I couldn’t help sharing a few great deals that I’m currently looking at…

Garden Side Chair

My husband and I have been looking for a few outdoor chairs for the table we built for our pergola last summer. Not only are these guys on sale for $98 at Home Decorators, but shipping, which would otherwise be almost $50 per chair, is currently FREE!

Hanging Pendant Lamp

I love, love, LOVE the industrial look of the pendant light, and the size is perfect. Today at Wisteria, you can get 25% off site wide! This light is typically $169 but with code thx25, you can get it for $126.75. Here it is in a dining room (so you can get a good idea for size)…

Hanging Pendant Lamp

The fern wall décor is also on sale for $149 each (originally $199)!

Boxwood Trees | west elm

I love the look of boxwood trees, whether in your home or on your patio. I do not, however, love the price tag that typically comes with them. At West Elm and for today only, not only can you get a LARGE boxwood tree for $31, but shipping is free!

Stage Set Design for the Play the Magnanimous Cuckold by F. Crommelynck, Meyerhold Theatre, Moscow Stretched Canvas Print by Liubov Sergeevna Popova at Art.comPortrait of a Young Woman, 1896-97 Stretched Canvas Print by Gustav Klimt at Art.com

Unfortunately, I don’t know too terribly much about art, but I do know what I like and I know where to find an excellent deal. Today only, Art.com is offering 30% off! These oversized stretched canvas prints are typically $249 on up – with 30% off, that makes them $175. Pretty hard to resist!

Plaid Fringed Blanket & Shams | Pottery Barn

And lastly, there’s something about a plaid blanket that oozes comfort. I can imagine myself in a log cabin, fire roaring, feet curled up, hot chocolate in hand, and plaid blanket thrown over my lap. Ah, perfection! This blanket from Pottery Barn is not only on sale for $119, but shipping is free!

Happy shopping Smile