Category Archives: Decorating

Second Tuesday Art Walk #1

Welcome to “Second Tuesday Art Walk,” my new feature that comes out on the second Tuesday of every month.  After all, who can’t use a little beauty on a Tuesday?

And it will always be the second Tuesday because – well, actually I don’t remember the reason now.  But here we are.

In no rational order, we’ll be looking at interior design inspiration, fun little discoveries, and things I’m obsessed with.  You can click through the links to learn more about anything you see here.

So grab a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine, and let’s begin.

Gorgeous, Breezy Enclosed Porch

August always has me planning ways to extend summer fun.  That would be a lot easier if I had Ashley’s gorgeous outdoor room.

I especially love those crisp, airy curtains.  Perfect!

Photo courtesy of The Houston House
Charming Repurposed Clothing Projects

Who needs the fabric store if you have old clothes on hand?

SuzerSpace’s sweet DIY purse has me sifting through my husband’s closet to see which shirt he “doesn’t need” anymore.

Photo courtesy of SuzerSpace

Mary over at In The Boondocks also has a talent for repurposing old clothes.  Actually, she’s amazing at repurposing anything.

Here is what she did with an old denim dress and a beach find.

Photo courtesy of In the Boondocks

And I love what she made from an old milk crate and an old blouse.

Beautiful Built-in Sleeping Nook

Sloped ceilings can add so much character to a room.  But they can also be challenging to work with.

Tricia really made the most of her little A-shaped dormer space with this DIY built-in bed.  I love everything about this.  Be sure to check out her before photos!

Photo courtesy of Simplicity in the South

Dream Trailer

Mandi calls her trailer, The Nugget, “the cutest vintage trailer on the internet.”  And I can’t argue with that.

Check out The Nugget’s Reveal and you’ll fall in love too.  The interior photos start about halfway through the post, and there are a lot of charming details to see here.  My favorite little detail is the kitchen faucet.

 

Photo courtesy of VR Vintage Revivals
Trending Color

Looks like brown is making a strong comeback.  In fact, Country Living is saying that brown is the new black.

Shutterfly has come out with their 75 Enchanting Brown Living Room Ideas.  And one of them features my living room!

Image courtesy of Shutterfly

Shutterfly’s post has some great examples of how brown can bring warmth and balance to a room.  And there’s lots of inspiration for integrating brown into existing decor.

Unexpected Discovery

Recently we took a road trip along the beautiful Oregon Coast.

While antiquing in the small towns there, we found these old cobbler shoe forms for children’s shoes – complete with worm holes.  

The smallest one measures only five inches.  Adorable.

Our laundry room remodel is almost compete, and these little guys will be cute in there grouped with the shoe care supplies.

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used below.

I’m intrigued by vintage children’s shoe forms now.  The varying sizes make them so fun for decorating.

 

Beauty on Sale

Yes, beauty in the form of luxury furniture and accessories!  One King’s Lane has reached out to let me know about an upcoming promotion:  From August 22nd through August 23rd, 2017, they are offering a 20%  discount on their entire site (although some exclusions apply). Just use the code “OKLSHARE20.” All eligible items in your purchase will be marked down once that code is applied.

Enjoy the Summer!

Now I’m off to take a late-summer blogging break, but let’s meet back here on the second Tuesday in September.  Thanks so much for visiting today, and enjoy your summer!

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Lobsters, Lanterns, and Paul Revere

My husband Chris and I are pretty sensible people.  We tend to plan and think things through – usually.  But if you’ve ever read my About page, you know that our decision to buy our 1927 cottage was impulsive and driven by passion rather than reason.

And so was our recent trip back east.

It all happened because of Chris’s latest obsession:  Collecting and restoring vintage Coleman lanterns.

Turns out there’s a club for that – the International Coleman Collectors Club (or “ICCC”).  And just a few weeks ago, Chris found out that they were about to have their annual convention.  In Massachusetts.  A five hour flight for us.

Chris asked me if I’d go with him.

I booked our flights before he could change his mind.

But of course, I told him, we couldn’t go all that way just for the convention.  That would be silly.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to check a couple more things off my bucket list.

Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor

I feel so fortunate to live on the West Coast where we enjoy beautiful sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

The last rays of sun at Grayland Beach State Park in Washington State.

But I’m always curious about that “other” big ocean way across the country where the sun rises.  Maine in particular seemed so intriguing and romantic to me:  Rugged coastlines, old lighthouses, grizzled fishermen, colorful buoys – and Acadia National Park.

So as soon as our plane landed in Boston, we headed up the coast to the village of Bar Harbor, Maine.

Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, Maine

I didn’t really have time to research Bar Harbor before our trip.  I’d always pictured it as rustic and weathered:  Crusty fishermen wearing heavy wool sweaters and pulling lobster traps off their boats.

But it was more gentrified than that:  Lots of great shops and restaurants, and many intriguing lodging options.

Eventually I did find my colorful buoys.

Bar Harbor, Maine

The best part is that Bar Harbor is at the entrance to Acadia National Park.

As national parks go, Acadia is small.  But there’s a lot to see.  On our first day in the park, we enjoyed the rugged coastline.

We caught a glimpse of the remote Egg Island Lighthouse before a heavy blanket of fog moved in.

Egg Island Lighthouse, Maine

And watched water rush through Thunder Hole.

Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park, Maine

We took a murky hike to the summit of Gorham Mountain – all 525 feet.  We learned that these mountains were once much taller, but over the ages erosion has worn them down to their granite bases.

I liked that we got to experience the Maine fog, even if it meant missing the views.

The next day the sun came out, and we made up for lost time.

We hiked at Cadillac Mountain.

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

We explored the carriage roads and magnificent stone bridges at Logan Pond.  John D. Rockefeller, Jr had these roads and bridges built when he owned the land.

Carriage Road, Acadia National Park, Maine

Carriage Road Bridge, Acadia National Park, Maine

And we visited the Bass Harbor lighthouse.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse, Maine

This part of Maine smells so good.  Everywhere we went, we were either smelling the fresh ocean air or the fragrant balsam fir.

The L.L.Bean headquarters are a few hours south of Bar Harbor in Freeport, Maine.  There are several  L.L.Bean stores located there and, when we walked into the first one, there it was again:  That smell of balsam fir.  So I bought it to take home.

I’m looking forward to making sachets with the large bag of balsam fir needles.

We also found a drying rack for our laundry room at an antique store.  It’s still working its way across the country to its new home on the West Coast.

But it’s time to move on to the world of vintage lanterns.

All Things Coleman

We headed to rural, inland Massachusetts – to the tiny town of Winchendon.  Here, collectors of all things Coleman, but especially vintage lanterns, were having their annual convention at the senior center.

Now coming from the Pacific Northwest, where our architecture is relatively new, I imagined the senior center to be a dated one-story  building with dingy linoleum floors.

Here is what I found.

Old Murdock Senior Center

The Old Murdock Senior Center was built in the 1880s and was originally a public high school.

Old Murdock Senior Center

In the auditorium, Coleman collectors from around the world shared their treasures, their stories, and their knowledge.

Vintage Coleman

Vintage Coleman Lanterns

From the unusual to the rustic, it was all here.

Vintage Coleman Lanterns

One of the first Coleman lanterns: An Arc lantern, circa 1915.

We were newcomers to the club, and everyone was so welcoming. On the second evening, we joined them in a “light up” outside the senior center.  It was their way of honoring members who had passed – and it was beautiful.

Vintage Coleman Lanterns

Vintage Coleman Lanterns

But it was almost time to fly home, and we were only about an hour and a half from Boston.

Boston

We’d visited Boston before, and I just have to say that I love Boston. I love the architecture, the people, and most of all the history.  This is where it all began for the United States.

On our previous visit, we only saw the first part of Boston’s Freedom Trail.  So this time we started at Bunker Hill Monument and worked our way back to Paul Revere Square.

We toured the USS Constitution.  “Old Ironsides,” as they call her, is actually made of live oak.

UCC Constitution

Launched in 1797, she was the second battleship ever to be built for the U.S. Navy.  And she fought pirates.

USS Constitution

No trip to Boston is complete without a visit to a colonial-era graveyard.  We visited Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.  Some of the deceased buried here were born in the 1500s!

Colonial Graveyard, Boston

I loved the timing of our Boston visit:  Right before the 4th of July. There is no better reminder of what Independence Day is really about than touring the Old North Church, where the “one if by land, two if by sea” signal was sent from.

Old North Churck

And admiring a bronze statue of Paul Revere.

Paul Revere and St. Stephens Church

So, to my American readers, Happy Independence Day!

And liberty forever.

 

A cannon port on the USS Constitution

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  • Chris loves collecting vintage Coleman lanterns because he enjoys searching for them, and often the ones he finds are very affordable.  They don’ take up much space to store or display.  Etsy always seems to have a fun selection of all things Coleman.   Remember though that there is a lot to learn about safely lighting these lanterns.  Please use caution and do your research.
  • The drying rack I found at the antique store is probably not an antique.  But I love it because it’s expandable, and it has a shelf and pegs for more storage.  It look almost exactly like this one on Amazon.com.
  • The fragrance of balsam fir comes in many forms.  Now I wish I’d bought the adorable cabin incense burner.  I still might.

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Our Mudroom Before and After

Affiliate links are used in this post.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that we’ve been slowly refurbishing the smallest and most neglected room in our house – the mudroom.

Mudroom before

Little Room – Big Embarrassment

The mudroom had become an eyesore over the years. Which was unfortunate since it is the best way – the only way really –  to get out to the back patio where we sometimes have dinner parties.

So when we had people over, I was always tempted to stage some kind of distraction as they walked through the mudroom so they wouldn’t notice how dingy it was.  (“Oh, look out there! Is that an eagle?”)

Burkedecor.com is all new

The biggest challenge with the mudroom is that there are three doors and a large window in this 5′ X 7′ room.  So that really limits wall space.  In this room, we simply can’t do the cool storage lockers or vertical cabinets that look so great in other mudrooms.

Mudroom windows

But in 1927, when the house was built, no one was thinking about wall space in the mudroom because it wasn’t a mudroom then – it was a covered back porch.

The Makeover

Our mudroom makeover has taken months.  Since it’s next door to our laundry room, and they share the same concrete floor, we’ve been remodeling both rooms simultaneously.

Here is what’s been happening in the mudroom:

Floors

This all started back in January when we hired Kenji to refinish the scruffy concrete floors in both rooms.

He took the floors from this

old concrete floor

to this.

remodeled concrete floor

Repaint

The mudroom was in rough condition.  This corner was the worst part.

Southwest wall before new floor and new paint.

I painted the walls with Benjamin Moore Pale Oak.  For the trim, I used a white paint we’d had custom mixed to match our kitchen cabinets.  Since the mudroom  can be seen from the kitchen, this helps unify the spaces.

Southwest wall after paint

The ceiling, still beadboard from when the mudroom was the back porch, didn’t need repainting.  We kept the vintage parrot light here that matches the one we have in our kitchen.

Beadboard ceiling

Shelves

Now don’t laugh, but here is what was hanging on the wall near the back door before.

 

The large mirror/shelf was from Pottery Barn, and it was really something in its day.  But with wall space being such a premium in this room, a large mirror is the last thing we should have had taking up that space.

Plus the shelf above the mirror was so high that it wasn’t practical to store anything useful, so it became a catch-all for silly things.

We wanted to put shelving there instead, but we couldn’t find any ready-made shelves of the right dimension.

So Chris made these beautiful shelves.

Custom mudroom shelving

He bought a piece of fir, cut it to size, and used a router to soften the edges.  Then of course he sanded, stained, and finished the wood.

mudroom shelving

It was a fun little project, but I think the part he enjoyed the most was finding the antique shelf brackets on eBay.

antique brackets

We were very lucky, he says, that someone was selling four of them.

The wire baskets hold hats and gloves.  The shelves sit above a small shoe cabinet.  It all barely fits in the shallow space between the wall and the door.

 

Chris can display some of his vintage camping lanterns here.

1955 Coleman Lantern

The little shoe cabinet helped us solve a problem:

The Shoe Solution

Chris likes to keep most of his shoes in the mudroom near the door – which really makes sense.  But here is how our shoe situation was before.  Not good!

And, since I didn’t want to make things worse, I kept my shoes in the laundry room.

Notice too all the shopping bags stuffed into one cubby, and the basket for hats and gloves above that.  It was a little tower of clutter. And it left us nowhere to sit while putting on shoes.

So as our earliest mudroom project, we converted a little shelf unit that had been sitting by the back door into more shoe storage by adjusting its shelves.  Here is the post for that fun little project.

mudroom shoe storage

This freed up some space in and around the shoe bench.  I repainted the shoe bench and made a cushion.  Now we have somewhere to sit while putting on shoes.

Mudroom shoe bench

I got rid of the coat rack hanging above the bench since it looked terrible and we never used those jackets.  We use the shopping bags more, so I made a space for them instead.

So the area that looked like this

Mudroom before

now looks like this

Mudroom after

Something Missing

I do miss having a mirror in the room for that quick last look  before heading out, so I’ll find a space to hang a small mirror.  And then we’ll be done.

Clean and Simple

This little room is more functional now.  And it will stay this organized forever!

Just kidding.  Even I am not that delusional.

 

mudroom remodel

Behind the Door

Let’s open the laundry room door and take a quick look at the progress in there.

Since my last laundry room remodel update, we ordered a quartz countertop for the north wall where the appliances and sink will go.

And now we wait until mid-July for the installation.  In the meantime, we’ve been shopping for accessories including this stainless retractable clothesline, which I can’t wait to install.

But there is something new and exciting.  My brother, Dan, is building us a beautiful custom corner cabinet.

Custom corner cabinet

We wanted to get the most out of this tricky corner without taking up too much floor space.  This corner cabinet is our best option.  And there is no one better to build it than Dan, who has created some gorgeous built-ins for his own house.

It fits nicely under the window.  The drawer still needs to be installed, and it will have the same quartz countertop as the appliance wall.  But it’s already looking perfect for the space.

Materials for the cabinet cost almost nothing.  Dan used old plywood he’d salvaged from his kitchen remodel.  And I had two extra cabinet doors (for our new cabinets) left over from our own kitchen remodel. Luckily they were the right size for the corner cabinet.

So now the corner cabinet matches the sink base.  And both laundry room cabinets match our kitchen cabinets.

And my brother rocks.

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Chalk it up to Mystery

In this post, I’m hoping to solve a mystery – and I’m sharing a fun little DIY decor project.

And the two are related.

Mysteries and Secrets

Our 1927 cottage has many mysteries and secrets.

For example, if you’ve been reading along for a while, you know that we’re in the middle of a laundry room remodel.  Well recently, while working on the heating system, my husband Chris found a secret chamber under the laundry room.  We’d always assumed the laundry room was set on a concrete slab.  Turns out it has its own little basement.

And this isn’t even the first secret chamber we’ve found.

But today I want to talk about the laundry room’s mystery cupboard.

The Mystery Cupboard

This is how our laundry room looked before we started the remodel.

Note the innocent-looking recessed cupboard above the washing machine.

Although lately, during the remodel, it’s been looking more like this.

Anyway, here is the inside of the cupboard. Pretty rustic.

Can’t see the top?  That’s because there isn’t one.  This cupboard goes all the way up to the unfinished attic.

So is it a laundry chute?  Probably not.  After all, who would want to climb far into the unfinished attic to deposit laundry only to have some of it land on that little shelf at the halfway point.

It also stretches to the left behind the wall for several feet, so it’s larger than it looks.

Its inconvenient location above the washing machine meant that I needed a stepladder to access it.  And since it’s recessed into the wall, I practically had to climb into the cabinet to get anything back out.  So I avoided using it.

My theory is that this is just oddly shaped extra space that the builder wanted to keep accessible in case anyone needed it.

But what do you think?  Do you know what it might be?  Help me solve this mystery!

Going Bye-Bye

Whatever this cupboard is or was, our plans for the laundry room do not include it.  No, it will be covered over in the remodel.  And if we should ever need to access the weird empty space behind the wall, we can still do so from the attic.

But I was sad.  That cupboard door was kind of cute.  It was also a piece of the house’s history – however weird that history might be.  I wanted to repurpose it.  But what should its new role be?

1920s cupboard door soon to become a chalkboard

A DIY Chalkboard

My friend Sandi is a very creative person, and she had a great idea: Turn it into a chalkboard.  At the time, Sandi didn’t even know that I’d been looking for a chalkboard for our kitchen. Perfect!

Cleaning the Hardware

It was a simple project.  We removed all the hardware pieces from the cupboard door and soaked them in acetone to remove the paint.

1920s cupboard door hardware

After that, the hardware pieces were clean but they still had a patina.  I was happy that they didn’t look brand new.

A Chalk Ledge

Chris cut and attached a piece of brick molding to the bottom of the door to serve as a chalk ledge.

Painting the Door

I sanded and cleaned the cupboard door.  I painted the frame, the edges, and the new chalk ledge with the same white trim paint we used for the kitchen.

After the paint dried, I used masking tape to ensure a nice clean profile for the chalkboard paint, which would go in the center panel.

DIY Chalkboard preparing to paint

I’d never worked with chalkboard paint before.  I used FolkArt Multisurface Chalkboard Paint by Plaid¹.  I followed the instructions on the bottle and on the Plaid website.  This included conditioning the chalkboard with chalk – something I will need to re-do from time to time.

To evenly apply the paint – which has a slightly gel-like consistency – I used a paint edger².  Then I back-brushed the paint with a paint brush.  (I have found that paint edgers come in handy for all kinds of paint applications beyond just edging.)

Reattaching the Hardware

Chris reattached the hardware, and the chalkboard was ready.

DIY Chalkboard

Now the hardware is just for character.

DIY Chalkboard

Chalkboard Central

This chalkboard was long overdue.  Since we shop for groceries at several stores and a farmers market, keeping lists of what we needed from each place was cluttery and difficult – especially since these lists often went missing.  Keeping lists on our phones didn’t work either.

But now, as soon as we realize we need something, it’s a few steps to “chalkboard central” to write it down.

DIY Chalkboard

I’ve been trying both chalk and chalk markers to see which I like better, but I’m not completely happy with either.  So I’m thinking of ordering some white chalk pencils I found on Etsy.³

DIY Chalkboard

I have found that wiping the chalkboard with a damp paper towel works better than using a chalk eraser.  We’ll see how all this holds up over time.

I’m happy now.  Not only is the little cupboard door still with us, but it’s serving an even better purpose than it did originally.

Before and After

You know how I love my before and after recaps.

Before (photographed upside-down).

After.

All posts on this blog are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements.


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A DIY Shoe Storage Upgrade

Before this house, I’d never lived anywhere that had a real mudroom.  And although our mudroom is small, I just love it.

But its best feature is also its biggest drawback:  The large windows.

Mudroom windows

All the wonderful natural light means very little wall space to work with.  As you can see from the photo, the limited wall space makes it difficult to keep things organized  – not that I’ve been trying very hard.  The room is a haphazard mix of random storage baskets and bins.  I’ve never really made it a priority.

Well that is about to change.  I’m in the process of reworking the mudroom – starting with the taming of the shoes.

Invasion of the Shoes

My husband, Chris, likes to keep the shoes he uses most near the back door.  The problem is, the shoes seem to multiply when no one is looking.  And yes, he really uses all of these.

Boot bench

A while back, in a half-hearted attempt to get organized, I added a flimsy thrift store rack to the top of the boot bench.  It doesn’t look good, and now we can’t sit while putting on shoes.

The small wooden shelving unit near the door was too shallow to house his shoes.

Mudroom shelving unit

A New Angle

What to do?  My mom suggested a shoe rack in place of the shelving unit.  It should have angled shelves, she said, so that the shoes would not interfere with the door swing.

It was a great idea, but most angled shoe racks I found were more suited to a closet than a mudroom.

And then I wondered about our little shelving unit:  Would it work to simply reposition the shelves at an angle?

plywood shelving unit

I asked Chris to give it a try.  He repositioned each shelf at about a 30-degree angle and used screws to secure them.

And it worked!  The shoes would be nicely contained on the newly-angled shelves.

DIY Shoe Storage

Now we just needed to make this basic unit a little prettier.

A 99-Cent Upgrade

A reclaimed wood top would elevate the look.  I checked the nearest salvage shop and found all kinds of beautiful wood – all of it too shallow in depth.

The next salvage shop was way across town, and I started to wonder if I was on another one of my fool’s errands.

While deciding whether it was worth the drive, I stopped at my local Goodwill.  There I found a piece of fir in the right depth – with a nicely finished edge.  And it was 99 cents!  I could not believe my luck.

Fir panel

All we would have to do is shorten the length a bit.  Reclaimed wood at Goodwill: Who’d have thought?

Adding More Character

Then I got it in my head that, since the mudroom is next to the kitchen, the exposed side of the shelving unit should be attractively paneled to match the style of our kitchen cabinets.

I tease Chris for keeping all kinds of scrap wood pieces, but it came in handy for this project since he had just the right scraps onhand to create the panels.

Then I painted the bench the same white as our kitchen molding – a color custom-blended to match our kitchen cabinets.

And here is how it turned out.

DIY Shoe Storage Unit for a Mudroom

A DIY Shoe Storage Unit

It’s perfect for the overflow shoes, and it frees up a lot of space in the boot bench.  There is even enough room for some of my shoes.

DIY Shoe Storage Unit for Mudroom

And for 99 cents out of pocket, it’s a nice upgrade for a plywood shelving unit that once looked like this.

Plywood storage unit

This small change is already improving the flow of the mudroom, but there is more to come, including a snazzy upgrade to the concrete floor.  So stay tuned!


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A DIY Doll Bed for My Favorite Little Girl

For my final post of 2016, I am sharing my favorite DIY project of the year.  This fun little project is close to my heart.

It’s Not About Needing

I was at my local Goodwill store a while back and came across something I didn’t need but just couldn’t leave behind:  This old magazine rack.

Vintage magazine rack

Such a cute little thing.  I especially liked the Edwardian-inspired turned legs and brass casters.

Vintage magazine rack - brass casters

That day furniture was half price, and the magazine rack was considered furniture.  I bought it not knowing what I would use it for. I only knew that I would not be using it as a magazine rack.

Aha, a Doll Cradle!

The magazine rack went into the basement for a while.  Then one day I realized that it would make a cute doll cradle – a Christmas gift for my niece Daisie.

So I asked my husband Chris to remove the two interior wooden dividers.  Then I would paint the magazine rack and add some bedding.

The Paint

The dark wood would need several coats of primer before I could paint it – unless I used chalk paint.  I had some leftover Plaid chalk paint in a color called Bavarian that would look very sweet.  But was chalk paint appropriate and safe for a child’s room?  I found this link by Plaid, which reassured me.

But I must mention here that I am no expert on child safety or babyproofing, and this post is not a tutorial.  So if you take on a similar project, you should research all safety concerns first.

Anyway, I went with the Plaid Bavarian chalk paint.  And although the chalk paint can be applied directly to un-primed wood, I still needed three coats of it to cover that dark stain.

A Little Customizing by Uncle

So the magazine rack was painted but it still didn’t look like a cradle. There was too much space between the vertical slats.

To add more vertical slats, Chris cut to size some of the wooden dividers he had removed and secured them to the cradle with glue.

Of course there was not quite enough of this wood to finish the job. But we discovered that paint stir sticks from the hardware store were the right width and depth, so he used a few of them too.

Vintage magazine rack
You can see that the middle slat is a paint stir stick.

I painted the added slats to match the bed.

Adding the Wax Coat

The chalk paint needed to be finished with a top coat of wax.  I used Plaid Clear Wax.  Since it can be applied with a rag, this was a quick and easy step.

Vintage magazine rack

The Bedding

Finally the real fun could start:  Choosing the fabric and making the bedding.

It was tempting to choose very girly, soft pink or white fabrics.  But my niece seems to enjoy strong patterns and colors.  So I found some fun embossed juvenile fabrics that looked easy to spot clean.  The green ball fringe trim would add a little zing.

Juvenile fabric

I had a pink and white chevron print calico fabric on hand, and I used it to cover the little foam mattress that I cut – and also to cover a small pillow.

I made two pillows, a comforter, and a mattress cover – all very small.  After all, the magazine-rack-turned-doll-cradle only measures 12 inches wide by 18 inches long.

The bedding is reversible so Daisie will be able to switch up the look.

Doll cradle bedding

doll cradle bedding

The turned legs look really sweet now.

magazine rack repurpose

But unfortunately Daisie has a very impatient aunt.  I really should have waited a few years to do this project since she is currently way too young to appreciate the doll cradle.

So for now, as long as her Mom and Dad think it’s safe enough, it will simply decorate her room.  And it might be a nice catch-all for toys and books.

What doll could resist sleeping here?

magazine-rack-repurpose-doll-bed-finished2

 

The magazine rack went from this

as-found

To this.

magazine-rack-repurpose-doll-bed-finished

 

Happy Holidays!

Dear friends, thanks for your comments and support this past year. Wishing you a happy and peaceful holiday season.  Let’s meet back here in January!

happy-holidays


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Budget-Friendly DIY Holiday Decor

It’s the most wonderful time of the year- that is until my holiday budget winds up on a runaway train.  Gifts, decor, party hosting, charities: It adds up fast.

So today I’m sharing three little ways to save on holiday decor.

Free Holiday Greens

I love to use fresh evergreen sprigs for DIY wreaths and decor.  I could buy bundles of greens at my local florist or nursery but that would be silly considering I can get them for free.  How?

Well, my local big box hardware store sells fresh Christmas trees in their nursery area.  As a courtesy, employees trim unwanted branches from the trees to tidy them up for customers.

These unwanted branches sit in a big pile and, if I ask nicely, the employees always let me take some.  In fact, they usually encourage me to take as much as I can carry.  After all, it’s less for them to dispose of.  And I get a nice mix since they sell spruce, fir, and pine trees.

I use the branches in garlands and to decorate my front porch.

Budget holiday decor: Branches with a vintage lantern

And in simple floral arrangements.

Budget holiday decor: Roses and evergreen branches

My wreath last year cost me nothing.  I just used the free greens with a wreath form and some garnishes I already had.  Basically, the wreath was made up of scraps.

Budget holiday decor: A wreath made with random scraps

It was not my best work, but you get the picture.  To make it, I used the same method as when I made this foraged wreath a couple of years ago.

I also added a little holiday cheer to my greenhouse by making a Frankenstein monster of a tree.  I used a section of a large branch that we had on hand as the “trunk.”

My husband drilled a hole in the “trunk,”

drill

I placed some greens into it,

Budget holiday decor: Making a Frankenstein monster tree

Put it in a pot, and added some lights.

Budget holiday decor: DIY topiary

I ended up with what looked like a little topiary tree for the greenhouse entrance.  (This photo was taken before we added the new greenhouse foundation.)

But my mom, Erika, takes it a step farther.  She uses bare branches from her own garden to create holiday beauty.

Using Bare Branches

Once the leaves fall from the trees, the beautiful structure of the branches is revealed.  Mom spray painted cuttings from a small dogwood tree to create this wintry look for her fireplace mantel.

Budget holiday decor: painted branches on mantel

She used 6-foot-long branches from a mountain ash tree, some curly willow branches, and more of the dogwood branches to create this winter arrangement in an oversize urn.

Budget holiday decor: large holiday arrangement

The mountain ash branches are painted white.

Budget holiday decor: painted branches

She also used ormanental seed heads from her garden and some silk flowers she had on hand.

Budget holiday decor: large arrangement closeup

This large arrangement will be a stand-in for her Christmas tree – a fun and beautiful change of pace.

At some point, I want to try a different version of Mom’s idea: Taking several large, straight cut branches and turning them into a small indoor forest.

A Dollar Store Find

Last year, I noticed that my local dollar store sold shipping supplies, including five-yard rolls of brown shipping paper.  It was thicker than the craft paper I had seen at craft stores.

I was burned out on gaudy holiday bling and in the mood for understated, organic-looking decor.  So I bought a roll to use as gift wrap.

I used strips of unbleached muslin and burlap fabrics (leftovers from other projects) as ribbons and bows.

Budget holiday decor: gifts wrapped in shipping paper

I stenciled some of the packages.

Budget holiday decor: gifts wrapped in shipping paper

And monogrammed some of them.  The thick paper held up well to the craft paint.

Budget holiday decor: gifts wrapped in shipping paper

I really kept it simple, but I love how these packages turned out – with a bit of an “old-world” vibe.

Budget holiday decor: gifts wrapped in shipping paper

Since I have a lot of shipping paper left, I’ll be experimenting with new looks this season.

So when it comes to holiday decor, free can actually get you pretty far – and so can a dollar.

Note: All posts on this blog are for entertainment only and not intended as tutorials.


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Start Paperwhites Now for the Holidays

I wish I wasn’t so predictable.  Almost two years ago to the day, I posted about starting paperwhites indoors for a beautiful holiday centerpiece.  And now here I am again – back to remind you that if you enjoy having fragrant paperwhites around for the holidays, the time to start them from bulbs is now.

My earlier post explained in detail how to force paperwhite bulbs indoors, so I won’t go into that here.  If you’ve never forced paperwhite bulbs before, that post is very helpful.

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I’m just starting my paperwhites for this season, but I thought it would be fun to share what I did last year.

Finding the Look

To me, the fun of growing paperwhites is choosing the right combination of container, pebbles (natural or glass), and decorative accents such as moss, twigs, berries, even shells, to make an attractive display.

The possibilities are endless.  I used all kinds of containers last year: A silver urn, a vintage porcelain candy dish, a ceramic urn, and some  glass containers.

forcing paperwhites: bulbs in various containers

I started one bulb in a small jar.  Then I placed that jar inside a larger jar and lined the inside with moss.

Forcing paperwhites: using glass jars

forcing paperwhites: using glass jars2

The end result is a paperwhite that appears to be sprouting out of the moss.  On the other arrangements, I hid the pebbles under a blanket of moss to give the arrangements a softer, natural look.

forcing paperwhites: Various containers

I created a vignette with a lichen-covered branch from the garden for a little natural texture – and drama.  This photo shows the stage I enjoy the most – when the first flowers are beginning to bloom.

forcing paperwhites: A vignette

I moved the silver urn to the front porch. In moderate climates, paperwhites are usually fine in a protected area outdoors. In fact, I’m going to play around with that idea more this year:  Blooming paperwhites in containers on the front porch.

paperwhites on the front porch

The silver urn still needed a little something so I shopped my garden for twigs and more lichens.

paperwhites: closeup of natural accents used

Adding free or inexpensive natural accents always makes the arrangement look elegant.  And in the dead of winter, it’s fun to bring the outdoors in.

Paperwhites as Gifts

I started a few arrangements to give as gifts. They are wonderful hostess gifts. Throughout the year, I kept an eye out at thrift stores and estate sales for anything water tight that would make a unique paperwhite container.  I looked for attractive vases and urns, vintage milk glass bowls, vintage footed candy dishes, and cute pitchers or jugs.

Here I used mostly glass containers – some just large jars.  The fun of using clear glass containers is that, as the bulb begins to sprout, so does its root system, and you  can actually see the roots winding between the pebbles (although not so visible in the photo below).

paperwhites as a gift

Wired craft store berries are an attractive addition, but they also serve as stakes to keep the paperwhite blossoms upright as they grow.

With each arrangement, I included a card explaining how to care for the paperwhites.

paperwhites with care instructions

The card read:

Caring for Paperwhites:

Keep the water level just below the bottom of the bulb so that the roots are immersed.  These bulbs should start blooming in a week or so.  They can be enjoyed indoors – or outdoors in a protected area. Once the bulbs have finished blooming, they can be tossed into the compost bin.

Then they were boxed up and ready for giving.

paperwhite gifts boxed and ready

They hadn’t yet started to bloom when I gave them away, but that was actually a good thing.  The recipient could enjoy the show – and the fragrance – when the blooms began.

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Get The Look

Bulb kits also make wonderful hostess gifts, and here are a couple of especially nice choices.  Plus, for DIY arrangements, extra-large bulbs in bulk (the larger the bulb, the more flowers!) and some sweet containers for one-of-a-kind arrangements.

paperwhites-get-the-look

Clockwise from center:  Paperwhite Bulbs, 20 Count, Largest Commercially Available | Netherland Paperwhite Growing Kit in Blue Ceramic Planter (green also shown here) | Vintage Green Jug | Glass Flower Vase | Milk Glass Tear Drop Design Footed Bowl | Bamboo Flower Pot Self-Contained Garden Kit


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Small Table Solutions for Holiday Dinners – And Some Dinner Party Themes

This time of year, magazines, Pinterest, and Instagram are packed with dreamy images of holiday tables large enough to seat armies and piled high with picture-perfect holiday decor. Somehow, guests cheerfully manage to pass serving dishes between the towering centerpieces, candle groupings, and festive bric-a-brac.

Yeah, right.  In the real world, once the food platters arrived, most of that stuff would have to go.  And in the real world, dining room tables and family celebrations come in all sizes – even small.  So today I’m sharing a few tips for decorating a small table without sacrificing space.

Use Scaled-Down Centerpieces

I have a tiny dining room that can only house a small table.  But because my husband loves to cook the turkey, we happily host Thanksgiving.

For small holiday tables, it’s best to keep the look festive yet clutter-free.  So I keep my centerpieces compact.  They don’t sprawl across the table, and they are not too tall.

Take last year’s centerpiece for example.

Holiday table decor: Jewel toned centerpiece

In an urn with a small base, it didn’t take up much real estate on the table.  And it was just tall enough to add interest without being a distraction.

Choose an Interesting Theme

Since I have to carefully edit what I do put on the table, I try to come up with an interesting theme.  Last year it was jewel tones.

A lively tablecloth and flowers,  and amethyst runners and napkins, kept the mood festive.

Holiday table decor: jewel toned table decor

And the year before that, it was serene earth tones and rustic textures.

Holiday table decor: subtle elegance

Again, these looks are clean and simple.  On a small table, any more decor would add clutter.

Use Smaller Plates

Over the years, dinner plates have gotten bigger and bigger.  Many modern dinner plates are 12 inches wide.  Get a few too many of them on a small table and things look crowded.

For dinner parties, I often use our antique china plates which are just under 10  inches wide.  They are a better scale for the table, and they still hold plenty of food.

Use Narrow Chairs

According to Emily Post, for guests to be seated comfortably there should be at least six inches between chairs.  So using narrow chairs means that more chairs can be placed at the table.

Place the Silverware on the Plate

Another way to keep the look clutter-free and add the appearance of more space between place settings is to use this restaurant-inspired trick.

Rolling the silverware in the dinner napkin and placing it in the middle of the plate (as opposed to beside the plate) saves space.

Holiday table decor: silverware

Rethink the Placemats

When I’m trying to seat eight people on my small dining room table, placemats wind up too closely spaced to look good. Scaled-down chargers can be a nice alternative.

Bending the rules a little is fun too.  Simply using smaller, attractive dinner napkins as placemats can work.

Last year, I placed narrow homemade runners across the width of my table to give the place settings definition without taking up space.

Holiday table decor: homemade runners define the place settings

Which leads me to my fun new way to define a place setting without taking up any table space at all.

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Put It Under Glass

When we are not hosting dinner parties, we take the leaves out of our table and it becomes a small square table – great for two to four people.

It’s an antique table from the Craftsman era, so to protect the wood – and make the table easier to clean – we had a piece of polished glass cut to fit over the top.

custom cut glass table top

Sometimes we put a tablecloth under the glass and sometimes we just enjoy the look of the wood. Either way, it’s super easy to clean now. This is a wonderful option for a small table.

And it got me thinking.  I started playing with ways to define place settings by placing gilded leaves – in this case, witch hazel leaves – between the tablecloth and the glass. (For how I gilded the leaves, see this post.)

Holiday table decor: gilded leaves under glass

They are placed fairly tight around the edge the of the plate – again keeping the look compact.

The dark tablecloth adds elegance and sets off the golden leaves.

Holiday table decor: gilded leaves under glass closeup

And as you can see, the leaves are under the glass, so they don’t interfere with anything on top of the table yet they still add interest.

Leaves can also be arranged under the glass to expand the look of the centerpiece.

Holiday table decor: Gilded leaves as centerpiece under glass

The possibilities here are endless.  For spring and summer, flowers or fern fronds would be fun.

Of course, once we expand the table for Thanksgiving, our glass top won’t fit.  But at least this started me thinking, so this year my Thanksgiving decor just might include leaves pressed under glass.

Have Fun

Whatever the size of your dining room table, things always turn out better when you enjoy decorating it. So don’t forget the most important tip of all:  Have some fun with it!

35 Dinner Party Themes

Recently, ProFlowers reached out to me to share their wonderful post “35 Dinner Party Themes Your Guests Will Love.”  It’s a compilation of dozens of creative dinner party themes with helpful filters such as style, season, and guest size to help plan the perfect holiday get together.

In addition to being packed with creative ideas, the guide is beautifully photographed.  I hope you enjoy perusing it as much as I did!

ProFlowers Dinner Party Guide


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Saving Four Innocent Chairs from the Dumpster

This past summer, my husband Chris and I were enjoying a bike ride in our neighborhood.  It was a beautiful day, and at the time Chris was still clinging to a tiny shred of hope that his wife might actually be sane.

That hope was about to be dashed.

The Chairs That Needed Me

We came across these four chairs, which someone had kicked to the curb.

chairs before rehab

A few people were looking at them, but everyone wound up walking away.  They were destined for the dumpster.  So of course I had to step in.

At first glance they looked like rattan chairs. But on closer examination the frames appeared to be oak.  The non-loadbearing cross-braces were a mixture of bamboo and rattan.

Bamboo - cane - oak chair before rehab

So they were very solid.  They just needed a lot of work, starting with a good cleaning.

Cleaning

Using fine steel wool, I scrubbed them down with denatured alcohol. Then I rinsed each chair with water.  Cleaning was probably the most time-consuming part of rehabbing these chairs.  Every nook and cranny of every chair needed to be cleaned.  One chair in particular was heavily covered in black soot.

Reupholstering

I thought that reupholstering these chairs would be a snap.  The seats looked removable.  I was hoping to remove each seat before I cleaned the chairs.

Turned out the seats were built into the chairs.  They would be impossible to remove without destroying the chairs.  So I removed the fabric and padding.  Each chair had a tack strip for the seat cushion which also had to be removed.

furniture rehab removing the chair pads

Apparently whoever built these chairs didn’t intend for them to ever be reupholstered.

As a solution, Chris cut new seat bottoms from scrap plywood he had on hand.  We would secure them to the top of the original seats once I added the new cushions.

tools-for-working-on-the-chair-pads

Finally the fun began:  Choosing the fabric.  I chose an outdoor fabric with a fresh, tropical pattern.  Then I used my trusty old electric carving knife to cleanly and easily cut the foam for the new chair pads. For more detail on how I reupholster chair pads, check out this post.

Refreshing the Wood

Using a rag, I wiped the chairs down with Howard Restor-A-Finish in Golden Oak.

Fixing the Caning

Some of the original caning was coming unraveled and some was missing. I had never worked with caning before, and I ordered the wrong size.  It was a bit thinner than the original caning.

But I only needed to replace the caning in a few areas, so I used it anyway. And it was very easy to work with once I soaked it in water for 30 minutes.

I figured that once the new caning was stained to match the chairs, the discrepancy in size wouldn’t be very visible anyway.

Furniture rehab new caning

Turned out the new caning didn’t absorb stain very well, but luckily we have many half-used cans of stain on hand, and eventually I found one that worked.

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Finish

I applied a coat satin finish to each chair.  This went quickly since the finish could be applied with a rag.  This really made a difference, giving the chairs an elegant, subtle gleam.

Almost Done

A few of the metal feet on the chair legs were missing, so Chris attached new ones, and then he attached the newly-upholstered chair seats.

 

Were these chairs really worth all the work?  Well, it would have been a shame for them to wind up in the landfill, but if I had it to do over, I just might have left them on the curb hoping that someone else would rescue them.  And I really should have learned my lesson after the chair project I did earlier this year.

Indoor/Outdoor Chairs

But now that all the work is behind me, I love these chairs.

Especially because of the outdoor fabric, they look elegant yet informal.  And they are so versatile:  Great for additional indoor seating or for garden parties.

furniture rehab tropical fabric

Bamboo - cane - oak chairs after rehab

Chairs after rehab

They are still not perfect, but they are old so imperfection is part of the charm.  And they are a far cry from what they were before.

before

One More Rescue

So in summer I impulsively rescued those four sad chairs that needed a ton of work.

Meanwhile, at an estate sale, Chris found a little mid-century bar that barely needed anything.  But it wouldn’t work, or fit, in our house.

No problem.  It turned out to be a fun little addition to our patio for a few late-summer get-togethers.

Midcentury bar

This is post is for entertainment only and not a tutorial.


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Howard Restor-A-Finish is a wonderful product for refreshing furniture.  It’s quick and easy to apply, so we use it all the time in our furniture rehab projects.  It is available in many stain colors, and I used the Golden Oak finish for the chairs.

The lovely finish I used on the chairs was General Finishes Arm-R-Seal in Satin.


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