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 🙂


living room entertainment center

Probably our most exciting “project” to date is the beautiful entertainment center my father-in-law Ray created for our living room this year.  I put “project” in quotes because I had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of this exquisite piece, other than emailing him a picture of my vision.

Jason’s dad is not only is a master woodworker {as evidenced below}, but he’s also one of the very kindest and most giving men I know.  His tireless months spent working on this project, after his full-time job and on weekends, is just one small example of his extreme generosity.  We are so thankful for everything he did, start to finish, and the finished product is simply incredible and awe-inspiring!

To give you some background, I was completely fed-up with our “entertainment center” situation in the living room.   I put “entertainment center” in quotes because it was a sorry excuse for one.  I was never satisfied with it, from the moment we brought it home from Ikea to our apartment as newlyweds.

Here is a close-up of what we had in the corner of our living room:

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No matter how much I rearranged all the little cubbies, it always looked like a black hole of unattractiveness. One night, when I was on the brink of breakdown over it (I know, get a GRIP, Claire), Jason suggested we ask his dad to help us build something new for that spot.

We knew we wanted something with a built-in feel, but could be taken with us when the time comes for us to move.  We needed display shelving as well as cabinet storage.  After a couple days of research, we landed on this particular style, done by Kelly Stivers’ of Bungalow Blue Interiors.  Here is a snapshot of what she did in her home:

bookshelves restyled 12



A few short months later, this was a part of OUR home:


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In addition to how wonderful it looks, we can’t get over how much MORE room it actually gave us!  The storage cabinets below are wonderful, and I’ve had a ball creating little vignettes in each shelf.  Here are some close-ups:


{my teeny collection of decorating books & teeny abstract art, in in an old frame spray painted gold}


{lacquer boxes are from Homegoods….Herend elephant perched on top was Emmeline’s first birthday gift from her GG & Popps}



{Frames are Homegoods purchases, horse was found at an antique store in Richmond, given to me by my mom…I passed it up, but she surprised me with it later…an homage to my affinity towards horses ; ) }




{Black frame housing abstract was a cheapie at Homegoods…I taped off the corners and painted them gold to dress it up a little}

We are overjoyed with the beautiful addition to our living room, and it will be enjoyed for years to come.  It goes above and beyond what we imagined, and we are so thankful to Ray for his loving handiwork!

sunburst mirror

Oh this project.  I’ve had all the materials to create a “sunburst mirror” for over a year now, but I’ve never mustered up the energy/brain power/desire to actually roll up my sleeves and create. So, a box of stuff has been gathering dust in our workroom for months and months.  Until last week!  When I finally decided to spread out a drop cloth (I’m always spreading out drop cloths, it seems) and make this darn thing!  I must admit, I had good reason to wait so long…the end result was good (thank goodness!), but holy moly, was this a brain melt!!! For me, at least.

If you decide to attempt this project–and I do recommend it because the outcome is good!–my advice to you is this: just go with it.  If things aren’t lining up perfectly, just do your best and trust that if you like the overall “look” of your sunburst shape, it will translate well to the wall upon which it’s hung!

Ok, so. You’ve probably seen mirrors like these over the past year or so…meaning I’m over a year late on the trend!  They are usually pretty expensive, but they are very cool (I think) and create a lot of impact hung on a wall.

ballard knock off mirror

I’ve read lots of how-to’s to make a DIY sunburst mirror (for around $20), and below are my adapted instructions.

What you’ll need:

Two wooden floral rings (mine were 18 and 12 inches), 2 packs of cedar shims (courtesy of your fave home improvement store), a mirror (mine was 10″ from Michaels), a hot glue gun, PLENTY of hot glue sticks, and some wood glue.

I began by laying out my shims.  I decided to create four different “lengths” of shims by staggering them along the two rings.  Seems simple enough, but brace yourself for the mind melt to occur in a few moments.

The first length “layer” of shims I lined up along the inner edge of the larger ring.

The second “layer” of shims I placed along the outer edge of the smaller ring.

Now here’s where it gets tricky.  The third and fourth “layers” I tried to stagger along the smaller ring.  Everything looked okay when I laid it out, but then I started to glue all the shims down (using my glue gun), and I just got so confused! I have no other explanation for it.  I thought it would be more formulaic (rectangular shims laid out along circular rings), but things didn’t all line up, causing me to have to overlap, eyeball, move, eyeball, move some more, until finally I screamed “I’m going insane!” and just went with it.  Maybe your eyes will not bug out like mine seemed to do.  Oh well, it turned out okay in the end, as you will see.

When I used up almost every glue stick I had affixing the shims to the rings, I was ready to attach the mirror to the center.  The hot glue gun worked well on the shims, I just ran into snags having to pull the shims off again and again, trying to re-align them to look right.  See “eyes bugging out” as previously stated.

(Sorry for the blurry pic.)  Remove plastic from the mirror (obvi), and glue down using wood glue–hot glue will dry too soon!

Allow ample time to dry (I used big books and free weights to weigh it down in place overnight).  Then it’s ready to hang!  You may decide to use a picture hanging kit, but Jason was able to hang it simply on a nail drilled into the wall.

We decided on a wall in our living room, that has been empty since taking plates down that had hung in our “old” living room.

Here it is!

I’ll admit, I did need reassurance from my husband and various friends I dragged in to show, but I am finally convinced that it doesn’t look totally wonky.  I’m actually very happy with it.  And hey, $20 for some wall art?  Can’t beat that with a stick.  Or shim.


Happy Wednesday!
Last week, my mom was kind enough to come up for a visit, to help me make pillows to coordinate with our re-done living room.

Always nice when you can bribe her with a cute granddaughter, too… 🙂

(If you’ll look closely at the picture above, you’ll see she’s drawn pink marker on her face.  That’s what happens when I hand her the only thing that will make her happy on a fussy day, then turn my attention to something else for a moment. Oops!)

Thank you to those who gave me input on the fabric swatches!  I decided on the grey geometric for sofa pillows, and the aqua chevron print for the chair pillow.  I wanted to bring in aqua–and I know chevron’s EVERYWHERE (read: as soon as I use it in my home it will probably go out of style within months), but I love it anyway & had to rep it somehow!

I used old feather pillow inserts (old meaning they were from the pillows I used in our “old” living room, purchased at Homegoods) and my mom helped me give them a new attitude!  And by help me, I mean she did the LION’S SHARE of the work.  Like 99% of it.  I am still learning the art of sewing and do not trust myself!  Plus, she can work twenty times faster.

Pictured above: a little girl up to no good, pajamas unbuttoned and flapping in the wind!

The pillow covers were created using straight seams on 3 sides, then hand-stitched along the fourth side after the form was inserted.

I feel like I could manage to make more on my own now, after having watched my mother very closely!

Aren’t they awesome?  I can brag because my mom made them!  I think she did a fabulous job.  They tie in our color scheme very nicely.  Thank you GG!

phase two: living room re-do

Things are looking far less messy, cluttered, and unfinished in the living room! Which makes me very happy, as I could feel my blood pressure rise every time I walked down the stairs or came in the front door. Phew!  Thankfully the Ravens game was on til midnight on Thursday, giving Jason an excuse to stay up and help me put things back together while simultaneously screaming at the television.  Just kidding, he was pretty uncharacteristically calm.  So thankfully, no hammers went through the wall and nothing was thrown.  He is loving me while reading this, I’m sure.
Yesterday morning I took some pics of our progress.  This shoot is entitled “Where’s Waldo?”, as you’ll find a tiny human in most of the pictures if you look closely enough.  (Please ignore the unbuttoned onesie over the pants…sometimes, it’s just not worth the struggle.  Remember, we call her Barracuda.)


The curtains were Ikea purchases…a good find I think!  They are velveteen-ish, and look “luxe”, as Hannah tells me.  The curtain rods were originally brown; a quick spray paint job turned them black.  We put the striped rug from the dining room in here now.  And the former brown sisal living room rug is in the dining room, which worked out well! Nothing new to buy there!


(Those swatches on the chair are potential fabrics for pillows.)


The cute white bowl is a new addition…I couldn’t pass it up on a recent trip to Richmond…$6 at Williams & Sherill!



Okay, I was a LITTLE picture happy. Most of the time it’s because I can never seem to get the lighting just right…I think I need a new camera…

You might recognize the side table from our guest room.  They were Goodwill purchases with a new paint job.  It occurred to me that they matched our new color scheme quite well, and after lugging it downstairs, I decided it was a great fit!  So we switched out the old wooden side table and put that in the guest room.  Which is okay in the meantime, since our guest room doesn’t get much face time other than my sister Hannah and the occasional friend sleepover. 🙂

Disclaimer: the slipcovers and curtains need to be steamed.  I was just so anxious to post pictures!  I will get to it, I promise myself.

A few things left to be done: painting our entertainment center white (and possibly adding cabinet doors to it!), and painting the frame of our sailboat print white (this will be tricky, as it’s a custom frame job so we can’t take the print out!)