inexpensive art

Happy Friday!

Last week, I worked on two projects that have been on my to-do list for a while.   I’ve struggled with what to put in the empty space on the shelf above our television, and have searched for the right piece since the entertainment center was installed.  I wanted one large ‘something’ to serve as a focal point, and was coming up empty at my usual haunts (Homegoods, Target, consignment shops…)  My friend Brooke and I went to Luckett’s annual outdoor market a few Sundays ago, and I came home with a few other treasures, but nothing for the shelf.  SO, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands, paint a piece of art, and frame it.

I’ve been loving (and pinning) lots of pastel, fairly muted, “happy” abstract oil paintings and watercolors, and so I tried my hand at creating my own, pulling colors from our living room.  Some of my favorites are by artists Britt Bass Turner and Elise Pescheret, both of whom I discovered on Pinterest (of course).

Here is just a tiny sample of their work, which served as my inspiration:


(Above painting is “Collete” by Elise Pescheret)

 Pinkycopy Summercopy


So off I went to Michaels. They were having a BOGO frame sale, and I came home with this for the project:


I needed a long, rectangular frame for the space and could only find collage frames.  So I just removed the mat and traced it on artist’s paper to get the proper dimensions.

Then with my trusty acrylic paints (all purchased inexpensively for various projects over the past several months), I took a deep breath, said a little prayer, and made my own version….


…then re-framed it. Here it is at home in our entertainment center:




I wanted it to complement the small pops of orange & coral we have throughout the room, as well as the aqua and grey overall color scheme.  I am very pleased with the result and ESPECIALLY thrilled that spot is now filled!  And hey, because it was so inexpensive, if we ever find something we like better, we can always replace it and move the art to somewhere else in the house.  I love when purchases can have a variety of uses and “homes” over the years under one roof. 🙂


What did I use the other frame for?  Had to take advantage of the Buy One, Get One Sale!  For years now I’ve wanted to make some sort of print using the free paint chips available in abundance at Lowe’s/Home Depot/hardware stores.  A few weeks ago, while waiting around for paint samples to be prepared for me at Lowe’s, my eyes landed on the wall of Pantone color samples.  They were the perfect size; larger and more rectangular than ‘classic’ paint chips (think the vertical strips).  With Emmeline’s big girl room in mind, I gathered up all chips from the coral & pink family. Now that I’m typing this out, is there a better term than “paint chip”? Help? None comes to mind…have I been calling them the wrong thing all my life?!

Anyway, I thought they would be cute to create a piece of “modern-looking” art to hang in her new room.

Here are the frame and chips ready to go:


I cut the bottom margin off each rectangle, then tried various arrangements of shades until I landed on this one:



Then using a leftover piece of artist’s paper from my abstract painting, I lined them up, making a grid.  When I got them evenly spaced, I taped them down and put the mat and frame back together!

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So easy-peasy.  The hardest part was lining the rectangles up evenly.  And talk about cheap art! I’ve been dreaming about all the cute color “grids” you could make…blue…green…purple…

I will post pictures of the print hanging on her wall next, along with other aspects of her room that we’ve been working on for the past few months!  With three weeks to go til D-Day, it’s coming along!

Hopefully I could give a couple ideas to those of you in need of  inexpensive art solutions for the home.  Have a great weekend 🙂


basement makeover

“Making over” has been a common theme in our house, since we found out our family would be growing by one more girl this June.  We knew we’d have to give up our third room (previously used as a guest room) to become Emmeline’s ‘big girl room’, and her former room would stay as the baby’s nursery.

So, our basement needed to be a multitasker; serving as a guest quarters and play/tv room. Luckily, we have our second full bath in the basement, so when people come to stay, they will have their own facilities.

We knew we wanted to get rid of the old sofa (which was featured in one of my very first posts, my barn sale steal!)…


…and replace it with a sleeper sectional.  We found just what we were looking for at Gardiners Furniture.  We purchased it on New Year’s Eve while they were running excellent specials, and it was well worth the wait… we were so excited when it arrived!


The couch is so comfortable and has been perfect for creating extra seating downstairs.  And boy is it great when you can both lie down, watching tv fully extended without touching! ; )


Here’s a pic so you have a clear visual of our coffee table and new carpeting.  The coffee table was a Craigslist purchase when we first moved in, and it was given new life with Annie Sloan’s “Antique White”.  Our posters once had homes in different rooms, but we collected and reframed them all for the basement, hoping to give them a greater impact when grouped together.  Pillows are needlepoint Jonathan Adler (barn sale purchase), side table is from Homegoods.

The low-grade carpet that was installed before we moved in had certainly started to show wear and tear.  We knew if two gals would be crawling/playing/lying on it constantly, we needed fresh wall-to-wall carpet.  Thank you Lowe’s!


The floor lamp was a hand-me-down from my in-laws, and we gave it a new shade to match the lamp’s seen in pictures above.  Blurry child has not been Photoshopped out, sorry.


Our Ikea bookshelf, also purchased off Craigslist when we first moved in, was stained dark walnut.  Annie Sloan to the rescue, once again!  We combined Antique White with Graphite {have a mentioned chalk paint is also great for mixing?!} to give it this medium grey, distressed look.  So much better.


This desk was once a bright blue {see below}…


…kindly purchased at a yard sale by my in-laws when we first moved in and I needed a desk space.  One day I would love to have a built in “command center”, but this more than does the job right now.  We painted in Antique White and wow, what a difference it made.  The chair was purchased from Lucketts in Leesburg, VA.  If you live in the area and have never been, it is definitely worth the trip! I know it’s dark {please pardon my extremely novice photog skills}, but the piece to the right of the desk is our printer stand. It’s faux wood and was formerly white, purchased from good ol’ Craigslist.  Painting it Graphite makes it look much better alongside the desk.

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The tv moved down from the living room and was mounted to create a better viewing situation, and more space for TOYS!  The bookshelf to the right was actually a ‘less-than-perfect’ piece that was supposed to be part of our living room entertainment center, which will have its own post soon….anyway, my father-in-law gave it to us to use to hold electronics, and with a coat of Antique White, it’s perfect for the basement!


My attempt at toy organization.  It’s been working for now, while Mom is saddled with most of the cleanup….


We are loving our “new” basement, and envision the hours we’ve already spent down there doubling when Emmeline’s baby sister arrives! : )

Upholstered Headboard

Well, I was certainly naive to think that I would be able to keep up any semblance of a regular posting these days!  Each time Emme goes down for a nap, it’s a race to the finish to get as many things done as possible!  And usually, the blog falls by the wayside.  All moms out there are saying “duh”, and I am certainly not complaining…it’s just an adjustment!  She is eight weeks old today…I love this smile!

(Here she is sporting one of Dad’s birthday presents 🙂 )

My latest project was creating an upholstered “headboard” for our bed.  After many wake-ups in the wee hours of the morning, we desperately needed something to lean our head against in bed.  And of course it makes the bed (and subsequently the room) more finished.  We are going for a green theme in the room and will definitely need to paint the walls.  Funny how when you finish one project it makes glaringly obvious all the things yet to be done!  I use “headboard” in “quotes” because it’s not actually attached to the bed frame but rather the wall, as you’ll see at the end of the post.

This project has been a few weeks in the making, so it’s hard to say exactly how long it took us from start to finish.  There were of course a lot of pauses along the way.  I will say that it was a pretty time-consuming project, but the end result was certainly worth it!

I won’t bore you with all the details of the how-to, because we followed the same steps as in the trunk bench cushion.  Please refer to that for instructions, and I will give a brief summary below with pictures.

We had a piece of plywood cut down at Lowe’s to 5×3 feet, to fit the length of our queen bed.

After much deliberation, I decided to keep the rectangular shape.  I wanted there to be enough clearance to sit upright in bed, and I figured the fabric’s pattern made a good statement alone, that it didn’t necessarily need more detail.  Keep in mind that you can always change the shape or fabric over the years if your tastes change–just remove the staples!

We had to buy the 2″ foam in two pieces since they could only cut it one way at Jo-Ann’s.  Then we measure and cut with an Exacto knife to fit the board.

Once we had the pieces cut down to size, we sprayed this adhesive onto the plywood and pressed the foam pieces back down.  This step was different from the bench we covered, but necessary due to the size of the piece we were working with and the multiple foam pieces.

Then we covered the foam and plywood with batting, and stapled it into place on the backside of the plywood.  We laid the fabric underneath (we used 2 yards) and wrapped that around the batting, and stapled it as well.

Here’s a close-up of the fabric:

We purchased flush mounts to mount the headboard to the wall, directly behind the bed.

And the finished product:

I think it makes the bed and room look more put-together…and it’s much comfier during those late nights!


January Joy

Hey everyone…it’s been a few weeks since I posted last, but I’m overjoyed that the reason why was the birth of our beautiful baby girl, Emmeline Claire!

She was born on January 4th at 3:10 pm, weighing 8 lbs, 10 oz and measuring 21 inches…childbirth was an amazing experience and I’ve had to pinch myself every day since…I can’t believe I’m a mom!  She is just precious in every way and we are LOVING being parents.  Thankfully she has been a rather content baby–which I know could change, but in the meantime she has made my job easy.  However, I haven’t been left with much time to spare lately!

The weekends are the best time to get things done, because obviously we have two adults to keep an eye on Emme.  This past weekend we were able to complete a long-awaited project.  Over the summer we went to a barn sale (where we purchased our basement couch) and picked up this trunk:

It actually belonged to the original homeowners, and has “Baltimore, MD” stamped on the side…it was a steamer trunk that has been around since the 20’s!  It took a good bit of cleaning up when we brought it home, and since then it has sat in our bedroom with a beach towel over the top.  It was screaming for a cushioned top to make it more of a bench.

It was very easy to do, and the supplies cost around $30.  To DIY, you will need:

-piece of plywood, dimensions to fit the top of the bench (ours measured 20 and 3/4″ x 3 feet)

-piece of foam for cushion, large enough to fit top of bench (we used 3″ foam from Jo-Ann Fabrics)

-quilter’s batting (there are many different price ranges and thickness, but you just need it for a little extra padding…we bought a bag that was $5 with a 50% off coupon)

-fabric of choice (we purchased a yard, which was plenty big enough to cover the cushion)

-Exacto knife, staple gun, and scissors

-Screws and drill to attach cushion to surface (or top of trunk in our case)

We started by laying the foam on top of the plywood.  We trimmed it down to size using an Exacto knife.

Once that was trimmed down, we trimmed the batting to size, wrapped the batting around the foam and plywood and stapled it to the back of the plywood. TIP: Make sure to pull the batting taut to the back of the plywood as you staple.

Then we flipped the board over (so that the batting and foam were on top) and placed the fabric on top to make sure it laid properly and the print was as centered as possible on top of the cushion.

We carefully flipped the cushion over so the fabric stayed in place, and then stapled the fabric to the back of the plywood.  Again, make sure to pull the fabric tautly so there aren’t any wrinkles or sags.  We wrapped the fabric around the rectangular cushion just as if we were wrapping a present.

Now it was ready to screw on to the top of the trunk!  Jason used a drill to attach it, and drilled screws through the underside of the trunk’s lid to secure it.

And the finished result:

(Please don’t mind our curtains that desperately need to be hemmed! 😉 )

Now it’s a great surface to lay pillows after turning down the bed, or clothes, or whatever!

I’m thankful to have had a little time over the weekend to complete this little project…fingers crossed that I’ll be able to get back to posting on a regular basis soon!

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Emmeline pics…she has the cutest curly hair, which dries in every which way after her bath 🙂  And she loves placing her hand like this under her chin!  I feel like she’s developing a little personality already. 🙂

Lightening up

I love our dining room, but even with a bright chandelier, the lighting has just not been right.  I felt like the wall with our buffet table (which is actually an antique dresser passed down from my Grandmother) was just  a bit too dark for my liking. That area of the room needed some brightening up.

I have been shopping around for inexpensive buffet lamps, but then had a *bright* idea the other day…why not just use lamps I already had? A few years ago I purchased these beauties ( 🙂 ) at Ikea, always with the intention of painting the lamp bases.

That never happened, and they were residing currently atop my dresser in our bedroom.  While I love symmetry, I figured one lamp would do the trick in that space for now at least…there is a lot of other lighting in our bedroom.  So I put the nursery lamp’s twin on top of my dresser, and moved the Ikea lamps to the dining room.

Before I did that, they needed some sprucing up…the bronzed metal just did not go with the dining room.  I have a gold mirror hanging above the buffet on loan from my mom, so I thought I’d turn the lamps gold as well.

Before getting out the can of spraypaint, I remembered seeing a great idea in my Design*Sponge At Home book.  She had given vases the look of textured porcelain by painting a design with puffy paint, letting it dry, and then spray painting over the design.

So I decided to give a little more pizazz to my lamps by using this technique.  I used a puffy paint color I already had on hand:

and began painting a design…

Once that dried, I spray painted two coats of gold paint on the lamps.  I taped off the lamp cords so they wouldn’t be painted gold.

It gave them a nice 3-D finish!

Here they are on the buffet, and I think it makes a world of difference in the dining room!

I think it makes the blue walls glow, and just puts me in a better mood when I walk into the room!  Always nice to get a new look by re-purposing something you already own and using materials already on hand! A free little facelift : )

(Above is a shameless plug of our secretary in the dining room…I just love it because it was given to me by my parents but Jason and I painted it white a couple years ago…pictured are blue and white china from my mother-in-law–garage sale find!– mixed in with wedding crystal, shells, and monogrammed high-ball glasses. This piece of furniture makes me so happy!)

New year, new look

Happy 2012!  BB decided to not make his/her appearance in 2011…I guess he/she has their reasons!  I just hope they’re not already paving the way for a lifetime of procrastination. ; )

Today is the actual due date, but it’s just been a normal day around the house for us.  We shall see if anything happens!

I decided to give my blog a fresh new appearance to kick off the new year.  I like it and hope you do too!

Since there have been no signs of BB, Jason decided to undertake painting the guest room.  We decided on Secret Passage (Olympic One paint+primer from Lowes, of course), and it’s a pretty pale grey.  I am so glad to get rid of that periwinkle color! There were serious clashing issues between that and the aqua and black color story I had chosen for the room.  This grey color provides a much nicer backdrop.

Yesterday I worked on a pillow sham to go with the new bedding.  Here is what I came up with:

It was a very easy, inexpensive, no-sew project that I encourage you to try if you want to spruce up or add to your pillow collection!

Materials required:

-standard 21×27″ sham (mine was purchased on clearance at TJMaxx for $10)

-9×12-inch piece of basic felt (I chose a charcoal grey color.  I bought 2 pieces, which I would recommend in case of mistakes–plus they can be purchased for under $1 a piece, so why not?)

-template of your choice (I printed out a large “B” for our last name, done on Word with the font “monogram kk”)


-sharp scissors

-fabric bonding glue (this makes it no-sew! I highly recommend Aleene’s Fabric Fusion permanent dry cleanable fabric glue pen.  It came in a pack of 2 for less than $5–or even cheaper when you use a coupon!–and worked really well)

Time to get started!

I gave the sham a quick bath in the washer, and while it was drying I printed out my template.

I then carefully cut around the “B”.

You can pin whatever you choose to trace onto the felt, but I found that the paper stayed pretty still because it stuck to the nubbiness of the felt.

Trace around your design using chalk (TIP: I found the underside of the felt to be smoother, so I laid my “B” backwards on this side…this made it easier to trace with the chalk and avoided any marks left on the right side of the felt once I cut it out and turned it over).

Using a rubbing motion with the chalk helps to create a bold line.

I left out some of the finer details when I traced–I wanted it to be a bolder “B” on the sham.

Then I cut around what I traced using sharp scissors.  The “B” took a little touching up afterwards, just to make sure there were clean lines. Oh and yes, I am still in my robe.

I put a paper bag inside the sham to prevent any bleeding of glue onto the fabric.

I laid out the felt design on the sham, measuring to make sure it was directly in the center of the sham (for example, my “B” was about 9 inches wide, so I left 9 inches on either side of the letter).

Once I had it placed just where I wanted it, I used the fabric glue to affix the bottom of the “B” to the sham. This way my design stayed in place and I didn’t have to re-measure.

After gluing the bottom in place, I folded over the rest of the letter and used a generous amount of glue.

I pressed the design firmly to the sham with my fingers, then went around afterwards to touch up, making sure all edges were firmly glued down.

The glue takes about an hour to set…just make sure you leave ample time to dry before inserting the pillow into the sham of course.

Below you’ll find more pictures of the finished product, as well as our guest room transformation!

I love the idea of mixing fabric textures….the nubbiness (I’m making that a word if it’s not already!) of the felt against the soft stitched sham makes for a neat effect I think.

I love our new grey walls, and it’s been great to finally hang the chandelier prints!  It finally feels like the room has come together.  It was so nice to get an unexpected weekend project in–so maybe BB realizes his/her mother is project-obsessed and was just giving me a little more time. : )

DIY Duvet

Well, my energy cooperated with me today, and I was itching for a project to do…plus, keeping busy makes the time go by faster until the baby decides to arrive!

Our lack of guest room bedding has been bothersome as of late…I have been looking high and low for an inexpensive duvet or quilt to put on the bed, but to no avail.  We still have more work to do in the room–new paint color, chandelier prints to hang, and a new bed skirt needed…but I figured sprucing up the bed was a good start.

I had seen a sheet set at Kohls that was out of my price range, and just sheets.  But today I searched for DIY comforters/duvets on Pinterest and it led me to an easy tutorial using two flat sheets on Martha Stewart’s website.  So I decided to give it a try!

I went back to Kohls, and the queen sheet set was on sale.  And with using an additional 15% off coupon, a gift card, and merchandise credit….my grand total came to $2.02.  For sheets that started at $90.00!

I liked the funky black and white geometric print of the sheets, and thought it would look good in the guest room.  I am hoping to achieve an art deco/graphic/masculine-meets feminine look. Sounds like a lot going on, doesn’t it?  But I have a vision in my head and hopefully it will translate to real life when all is said and done!

For the underside of the duvet, I used a white sheet from Pottery Barn that we had on hand.  I pinned the sheets right side together, and stitched the two long sides together using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

For the bottom of the duvet, I pinned the edges together, leaving a 3 foot gap to put the comforter inside.  The white sheet was slightly longer than the printed one, so it left a longer hem after sewing.  This was fine because the actual comforter was a little bit shorter than the sheets themselves, and I didn’t want it swimming in there!

Once these edges (minus the gap) were sewn together, I turned the duvet right-side out.

For the top edge of the duvet, I stitched along the outside, right underneath the top seam of both sheets. (Pictured here is the other side of the duvet, not the black and white side, obviously!)

To close the 3-foot gap once the comforter is inside, I used fusable Velcro strips–new sewing required, just an iron!

I evenly spaced the Velcro and followed the instructions in the package for ironing them on…it was very simple.

Pictured above is after I ironed on the fuzzy side of the Velcro. I stuck the loops side directly to the fuzzy side so I could make sure they were lined up before I ironed them on.

I placed both sides of the gap together, then ironed on the Velcro strips.

This is probably obvious to most, but just keep that iron moving so it doesn’t scorch the fabric, and make sure to give the Velcro ample time to cool before you start pulling open the gap to insert the comforter.

So….$2.02 for the sheets, and $1.50 for the Velcro (I used a 50% off coupon at Michaels) helped me create this cute duvet for a whopping $3.50!

Here are some close-ups of the pattern, and both sides of the duvet:

For a sewing novice like myself, I am proud of my handiwork and the finished result! Now our guests will have a warm and cozy place to sleep. : )