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.

Bedroom Console 2

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!

Pie Safe 1

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!

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!

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DIY THURSDAY: GIVING THANKS.

With the holidays very quickly approaching, I thought it an excellent idea to offer an inspirational tutorial for a gift any “hostess with the mostest” would adore.

I strongly believe that one can never have too many bread boards. Seriously. Not only do they offer a multitude of serving opportunities, they are fabulous as home décor: to be hung, piled, filed, and everything in between. You can paint them in chalk board paint to serve as a menu board, you can convert them into trays, you can use them in floral and fruit arrangements – truly, the possibilities are endless!

pretty!French inspired

Pinned ImagePinned Image

So whenever I come across vintage breadboards on my picking adventures, I immediately snatch them up (and always on such a dime!). Of course, “vintage” tends to come with a bit of wear and tear so needless to say, a little TLC is necessary with these purchases…

First and foremost, you need to sand the suckers down! I started with my electrical sander on the flat surfaces and then hand sanded with 150-grit sandpaper along the edges and corners.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take “before” pictures prior to the sanding, but here are the boards post sanding:

Bread Boards Sanded

Once the boards were sanded to their original grain, I washed them with soap and hot water and let them fully dry before sanding again with 220-grit sandpaper to smooth down any raised grain. I then wiped each board down with a damp cloth to remove the dust and then began staining.

*Now, with bread boards it is important to use food-safe oils such as teak oil, danish oil, mineral oils, or designated butcher block oils that cure IN the wood rather than ON the wood. I chose a butcher block oil for the larger board and a danish oil in a medium walnut stain for the smaller board.

And when applying these oils, I like to use a small a small chip brush – you can purchase an entire pack for only a few dollars at your local hardware store – but this is merely a preference and a clean, soft cloth will work just as well.

Here are the boards with one coat of oil:

Bread Boards Stained

It is also important to note the drying time for any oil that you use as the boards ARE NOT food safe until the distillates are FULLY cured. This can take days or even weeks so please be sure to read the instructions fully and carefully!

Once the boards have cured, you’re done!

Bread Boards Complete

Simply wrap them as you see fit, slip in a card, and voila! The perfect hostess gift.

Bread Boards Bundled

For an additional challenge, or if you’re flea market search doesn’t pan out, you can also consider making your own!

Want to add a few cheeses to go along with the bread boards (because who doesn’t love cheese?!)? Be sure to refer to Joanna’s handy, dandy cheese guide and you can’t go wrong.

Enjoy!

DIY THURSDAY: OLD COAT RACK = ARCHITECTURAL DECOR

I’m a huge fan of those old, chippy, and occasionally rotten wooden architectural pieces. In fact, I’d like to have far more of them in my home. Unfortunately, it just so happens that they often come with a hefty price tag, or they are so rotten that they simply fall apart in my hand! So until I stumble upon those pieces that speak to me – without instantly crumbling into dust – I have to settle with what I have or simply create something similar…

Aha! Some of you may remember the barn door turned coat rack I put up in place of this piece:

Old Coat rack

Well, today I finally decided to do something with it. A few swipes of paint and a dab of dark wax would transform this piece into the perfect architectural décor for my French door frame. So off to work I went…

Coat Rack Before

First, and quite obviously, I needed to remove the hardware, so I grabbed a Phillips-head screw driver, removed all the screws, pulled off the hooks, and put them to the side for use on another project.

Coat Rack During

I then sanded down the holes a bit and filled each one with wood-filler. After allowing the filler to quickly dry, I lightly sanded again, wiped down the entire piece with a damp cloth, and began painting in…you guessed it, Annie Sloan’s Old White!

Coat Rack During 2

With two light coats of chalk paint, I gave it time to fully dry, and then once again lightly sanded the piece down, distressing at the corners and along the edges.  After wiping it free of dust, I began waxing the entire piece with Annie Sloan’s clear wax. Once the clear wax was buffed, I then began applying dark wax, making sure I really worked it into all of the nicks and grooves:

Coat Rack Waxed

With the dark wax, I tend to work in smaller sections – this piece was small enough for me wax on half the piece with dark wax, and then wax off with clear wax before the dark wax fully dried. I then repeated the process on other half. This process removes the majority of the dark wax, leaving behind a light stain on the majority of the piece, and a darker, almost dirty-like stain in the nicks and grooves. The final product looked like this:

Coat Rack Complete Macro

It took me a while to hang it above the French doors – I really could have used a second pair of hands! But after struggling with it a bit this morning, I finally managed to get it in place, and fairly straight too!

Coat rack Completed Hung

It’s a little more brown than I would typically paint, but I think it mirrors (pun intended) this piece directly across from it quite nicely:

Mirror in Dining Room

What do you think? Do you have miscellaneous items laying around that, with a little TLC, can be transformed into architectural décor? Time to start rummaging around in your garage!

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DIY THURSDAY: MILK PAINTED DESK.

I’ve been waiting with bated breath for Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint to arrive (via Red Posie) and the big moment finally arrived yesterday afternoon. It was a bit like Christmas morning opening the box and a shiver of excitement came over me as I peered down at my powdered paint. I couldn’t wait to use it!

Unfortunately, it was already late in the day and since I was only 85% recovered from the bug I had caught earlier in the week, I decided to give it one more day….but come this morning, I popped out of bed and went straight to work (well, after a cup o’ joe or two, of course).

Now, I’ve been saving a particular piece for this paint – a piece small enough to finish quickly and cheap enough that if I screwed it up, I wouldn’t be heartbroken.

Student Desk Unfinished

A cute little student desk!

I’m embarrassed to say, but this piece has actually been sitting in my kitchen – sort of as a kitchen island – for almost a year while I’ve been (very patiently) waiting to repaint and lightly renovate the walls and pantry. Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures! Needless to say, when I got wind of the MMS line of paint, this was the first piece that came to mind.

So, with the powdered form of milk paint in hand, I happily began the  transformation.

Before I get into the details of the project, however, I must give you a pre-painting tip that is particularly useful if you’ve never used milk paint before: I would highly, HIGHLY recommend watching the MMS milk paint tutorials! In my excitement to use the milk paint, I decided to forgo this and immediately regretted this decision when mixing the paint. Frankly, I had no idea what it was supposed to look like, what consistency it was supposed to be, etc. It is very different than your typical latex, acrylic, or chalk paint!

With this said, I added just a little more water that I should have and ended up with what I like to call “skim” milk paint rather than what should have been “whole” milk paint. Hence, when applying the paint, it was a bit runny.

I went with it, nevertheless, and after sanding the top of the desk to its original grain (which took a heck of a lot of sanding!), I painted the base with the first coat of my runny milk paint in Ironstone

Student Desk Half Finished

You can’t quite tell from the above picture, but when the milk paint begins to dry, you can see areas in which the paint doesn’t fully adhere and actually begins to chip. If this is an affect you’d rather avoid then make sure you mix the bonding agent in with the paint mixture! I happen to love the chippy affect, so I left the mixture as is.

I allowed the paint to dry for approximately 30 minutes then took a putty knife to very lightly remove the chipping pieces. I then added a second coat of milk paint and repeated the process. Once I achieve my desired “chippy” look, I added one coat of MMS clear wax to seal the paint and give the piece a nice, natural sheen. Finally, I brushed on a coat of Danish Oil in medium walnut…Student Desk Almost Complete

One coat of Danish Oil down, which you can see is still a little wet.

…allowed it to dry for 30 minutes before applying a second coat, and voila! After allowing the second coat to dry for another 15 minutes and wiping the whole piece down with a cloth, it looked like this:

Student Desk Finished

Student Desk Finished 2

Did I mention that we’ll be repainting soon?! As you can see, it’s much needed!

Student Desk Macro

I actually love how it turned out (I’m still working on my photography so the piece looks a bit better in person…) and particularly love the chippiness of it, but it’s definitely important to be aware of how milk paint works before applying it! What do you think?

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