I just secured the strand of lights with as many twist ties as was necessary, wrapping the strand around the outer circumference of the sphere several times and spacing the lights as evenly as I could.
I hung the sphere from a hook on the porch and voila – we now have a fun and budget-friendly addition to our outdoor Christmas lights.
And it’s large enough to lend a chandelier-like elegance to the front porch.
Of course, this sphere would look good even without the allium in the middle. But since I had it, I thought it was a fun addition.
I shook the branch off really well and sprayed it with a little peppermint oil, which is a natural insect repellent, before bringing it in. I left it outside for little while to give any insects that might have been on the branch ample time to escape.
Creating the Garland
Creating the garland took, at most, 15 minutes.
I cut the twigs off of the branch and laid them out (on the laundry room floor) to form the length of the garland.
I used 22-gauge florist wire to securely connect the twigs to one another. Then I just wound a narrow (3/4 inch) holiday ribbon through the garland. I concealed the florist wire with the ribbon where I could.
That was it: The hemlock, the florist wire, and the holiday ribbon.
Hanging the Garland
Even with help from my husband, this part of the project took a while. We didn’t want to damage the wall by using nails, so we (and by “we” I mean Chris) hammered little nails to the top of the picture rail. Then “we” used clear fishing line to suspend the garland from the nails.
The nails would be easy to remove, but we left them so they can be used for other garlands and bunting.
The garland was very simple, but that was exactly what I was in the mood for last year: The beauty of nature without any glitz or gaudiness.
The draping greenery and tiny pine cones created a fun little “enchanted forest” feel.
With the remaining hemlock twigs, I made a small wreath to hang in the window.
Hemlock Doesn’t Last Long
The garland was fine for a couple of weeks but, when I took it down, I was reminded of why, despite its charm, hemlock isn’t used much in holiday decor: When I moved it, needles fell everywhere.
It had become very dry and brittle indeed.
So, if you do use hemlock in holiday decor, just make sure to keep it away from anything that might cause it to catch fire.
Hemlock is fun to use in fuller wreaths too, such as this foraged wreath that I made back in 2014.
Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.
Browse my shop to find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!
Every so often I come across something that talks about the benefits of aging in place, and it always worries me a bit because our house has so many stairs and a very high-maintenance garden. It suits our needs fine now, but will it in the future? I’m not so sure.
One of the benefits of designing a brand new house is that a person can consider the evolving needs of their family – and even what their own needs might be as they age. So I thought this guest post, with pointers on how to design a new home for the future, was very interesting.
The following is a contributed post. For more information on my contributed posts, please see this page.
Design Your Home With The Future In Mind
When you are designing something as important as the home you will live in, you obviously want to make sure that it is going to suit your needs, and the needs of your changing and growing family, for many years to come. You’ll want to focus not only on your present needs, but on what your needs might be in the future. Designing your home with the future in mind sounds simple, but it can actually be a considerable challenge.
If you are planning to design a new home and live in it for many years to come, here are a few things you may want to keep in mind.
Flexibility Above All Else
To create a home that will be likely to stand the test of time, you will generally need to promote flexibility above all else. What does this mean? Basically, it is a way of ensuring that each room in your home can be changed around relatively easily and quickly if you should need it to be. Of course you will start off with a plan for how the room will be used, but the more that you can integrate future possibilities into the design, the more you are preparing the whole house for the future.
One example would be if you design a ground-floor room to be a study – but keeping in mind that, in the future, it might need to be a bedroom for someone who can’t climb stairs anymore.
Consider Worst-Case Scenarios
None of us can predict what our future needs might be. A perfect home would be one that is likely to accommodate all of the possible futures that might crop up for you and your family.
As well as planning for the things you expect and hope for, it is wise to plan for any worst-case scenarios just in case they crop up. Especially if you are planning to age in place, or possibly care for an elderly parent in your home, ensuring accessibility to the home is a major consideration. This could mean including wheelchair ramps and any other features you would need in those circumstances.
Think Long-Term When Choosing A House Style
When choosing the style of the home, consider that not all current design trends will stand up to the test of time. But by choosing a classic and timeless design, you can ensure that your home will never go out of style. And with a design that is classic yet simple, it’s easy to change up your interior décor as you wish and infuse current décor trends to keep your home looking contemporary.
You Can Only Do So Much
As you strive to design a home to suit your needs now and in the future, be aware that you are almost certainly going to fail in some way – because the truth is that no one really knows what the future will bring. And you can only do so much to prepare for it. So, all you can do is give it your very best shot and remember the most important thing of all: Design a home that will make you happy.
Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.
Browse my shop to find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!
Last year, I’d seen a photo in a home decor magazine that became my inspiration for our Thanksgiving table: Oil lamp chimneys with candles burning inside were grouped loosely together with a few scattered fall leaves on an off-white tablecloth. So simple and elegant.
So I found a muslin curtain that I wasn’t using anymore, and it became that simple off-white tablecloth.
Now that I had my “blank canvas,” the fun could begin. And to me, fun is always more fun when I’m saving money. Since I had most of what I needed already on hand, this was a very budget-friendly look to pull together.
Of course I immediately strayed from the magazine photo that had inspired me. I couldn’t resist taking home some huge maples leaves I found on a walk in the park. Maple leaves don’t stay beautiful for very long, so I spray painted mine with Rust-Oleum “Pure Gold” Metallic spray paint.
After they dried, I pressed them, and some other leaves that I’d painted, under glass for a few days.
This was easy since we have a glass piece that covers our dining room table when it’s not extended. But pressing the leaves into a large book or under a heavy board may have worked too.
The Oil Lamp Chimneys
I took a few of the glass chimneys from vintage oil lamps that we’ve collected over the years and put candles inside.
A small glass ramekin served as the base for each one.
In the magazine photo, the chimneys were of varying heights, which is why they looked so beautiful grouped together. But, since my chimneys were more or less the same height, I would be scattering them across the table instead of grouping them.
The reason I loved that magazine photo so much was because, by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I’m usually already wanting to move on from a fall decor look. But it’s too early to set the table for Christmas. This look was such an elegant compromise.
My table ended up looking very different from the photo, but I was still happy with it.
The largest maple leaves became place mats.
Since Thanksgiving comes only once a year, I like to use the good stuff: Real silverware, vintage china, and vintage crystal wine glasses.
A Word Of Caution
At the end of the evening, I discovered that the candles were a little hard to blow out unless I took the chimneys off first, but the chimneys had become veryHOT. I had to use a pot holder to take them off and sometimes, because of the melted candle wax, they were stuck to the ramekin base.
So, just a little warning that, if you try this, be very careful when you handle the hot chimneys, and also keep kids, pets, and flammable items away from them.
Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.
Browse my shop to find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!
We’re here at last: The big “ta-da” moment in our One Room Challenge® adventure! For five weeks, my husband Chris and I have been remodeling my small and quirky dressing room, and I’ve been posting weekly updates. And it’s all come down to this: The final reveal!
My little dressing room, located on the second floor, measures roughly 70 square feet. And those square feet are very oddly shaped.
In addition to the odd shape, this room also has a sloping ceiling that follows the roofline along the east side. It has two doors: An entry door and a door leading to an unfinished attic space.
Our house was built in 1927 so, although we don’t want the house to look like a shrine to the 1920s, we always want new work – cabinetry, hardware, doors, and moldings – to blend seamlessly with the existing design features of the house.
I feel that the house’s original design features are easy on the eyes. They’re simple and clean – yet charming. And they’ve stood the test of time. So I would rather use those design features than a trend that will look dated in a few years anyway.
You’ll see that the little dressing room was a claustrophobic and cluttered mess. I wanted the redesign to include ample storage yet feel spacious.
The room is small and has a sloped ceiling, so I decided to use one paint color on every surface, including that sloped ceiling, all the moldings, and all the cabinetry that we added.
The goal was for the room to be brighter, more elegant, more cohesive – and for that sloped ceiling to feel less oppressive. I opted for good old “Simply White” by Benjamin Moore.
Since what we were remodeling was basically a closet, we challenged ourselves to keep the budget tight. So, a challenge within a challenge! We had lots of fun with this. We sourced cabinetry pieces through Craigslist, salvage shops, and our own basement storage. We always look to repurpose items instead of buying new when we can anyway – not only to save money but also because it’s an earth-friendly alternative.
The total expenditure (outlined in detail last week) was under $900 U.S.
Let’s start the tour!
Dressing Room Tour
Won’t you come in.
The North Wall
Before the remodel, the north wall looked like this.
I’d brought in a portable garment rack because there was not enough rod space in the room to hang my clothes. A patched-together assortment of old dressers, shoe boxes, and racks made for a cluttered look that scratched away at my psyche every time I entered the room. And there was a lot of vertical wall space going to waste here.
Now I have the enclosed wardrobe space.
Plus, for longer items, the new garment rod we installed over a shoe bench.
The new garment rod, which adds a much-needed rustic touch to the room, is made of authentic industrial pipe.
We did away with the worn carpet in the room, but failed in our attempt to daylight the original fir floor, which is buried under mid century linoleum.
Instead, we covered the whole mess with a plywood underlayment, and then I painted, stenciled, and protected the plywood with a finish.
I love all the space that I have in the large wardrobe, which we purchased from a private seller on Craigslist and then refurbished. It’s a perfect width for the alcove space. Above the wardrobe, baskets will hold things I rarely use – like ski gear and travel accessories.
In the northeast corner, we added a vintage leaded glass cabinet, which we rehabbed and then put on these turned legs so that it would be tall enough to clear the baseboard and fit snugly in the corner.
Years ago, we bought two of these cabinets at a garage sale for $5 apiece. This cabinet’s mirror-image twin currently lives in our kitchen.
My vintage dolls and other little items were collecting dust in this room, and one of my goals for the remodel was to find a place where they could be displayed but protected from dust. I also wanted a better system for organizing my jewelry.
The vintage cabinet meets both needs. We added hooks to make necklaces easy to sort and find.
And all my little vintage items that used to drive me crazy have a home now.
I love how the north wall turned out. It’s fun, it has character, yet it’s calm and uncluttered – a far cry from the chaos I had going on before.
Looking at these before photos again, it’s surprising to me how much larger this wall space looks now.
We did keep the light fixture that was already in the room. It was a recent upgrade – a vintage milk glass light.
The East Wall
The ceiling slopes all along the east wall. There is a short door that leads to an attic space. It’s a cheap, hollow-core door that is not original to the house. It had a 1970s-era knob, flimsy hinges, and was framed in with tragically cheap molding. Its only redeeming quality was the beveled dressing mirror. Otherwise, it was very sad.
He added 1920s moldings that he’d saved from another project, and he added vintage hardware that we already had on hand – including a petite vintage glass door knob that would fit well on this petite door.
He made this cheap hollow-core door look original to our house – all without spending a cent.
On the east wall, we turn to face the south wall.
The South Wall
The south wall is a strange part of the room that is not even four feet wide. It’s a long, narrow alcove that felt even narrower because of where I had placed the tall dresser.
It was no fun trying to get anything out of these drawers. And, as you can see, this is where the carpeting stopped and an area rug took over. Pretty classy!
Here is the area now.
Since the overhead light is near the north wall, this part of the room was dark at night, so our one splurge for the room was to buy a 1920s-era sconce light, which had been professionally restored, from a salvage shop.
Up until yesterday, we were still working on this part of the room. I decided at the last minute that a chair was needed here, but it would have to be very petite.
I had this little bentwood chair kicking around in our basement. But of course it needed work, and I was still putting the final touches on my “ebonized” finish for it yesterday morning. And the faux fur seat cover arrived just in time.
At the same salvage shop where we found the sconce light, we found two narrow kitchen cabinets that, rehabbed and put together with an old dresser from our basement, would work nicely for the space around the window.
Where these kitchen cabinets once held canned goods, they now will hold sweaters – or maybe handbags.
And the old dresser, with its inset drawers, looks identical to the original built-in cabinetry in our home.
We added glass cabinet knobs to all the pieces to match the cabinet hardware throughout the house.
And I lined all the shelves and drawers in this south wall installation with a retro-floral shelf paper that I just love.
It was easy to reposition – unlike some other shelf papers that I would end up wadding and throwing away in frustration.
So you might be wondering if I forgot to add wall art. But actually I love this uncluttered look so much that I have no desire to hang anything on these soothing white walls. I might change my mind at some point, but right now I can almost feel my blood pressure drop when I walk into this room.
Seems some home improvement projects are difficult from the get-go. But with other projects, things just fall into place. With this project, I was lucky.
Lucky because the floor stencil measured out so perfectly for the room dimensions.
Lucky because we found, or already had on hand, cabinetry pieces that fit so well into the strange little spaces that we were working with.
But most of all lucky because Chris so good-naturedly embarked on this challenge with me.
Without his mad DIY skills and his honest, informed opinions, this project would never have gotten off the ground.
More To Come
After the holiday season, I’ll be sharing more about the revamp of the little bentwood chair, details about the door rehab, and how we made two kitchen cabinets and an old dresser look like built-ins.
Visit The Other Challenge Participants
This six-week challenge has been intense for both of us. But it’s also been very rewarding. Thanks to everyone who offered encouragement along the way. It made a world of difference!
I can’t wait to check out the other final reveals happening through the One Room Challenge. Participant reveals can be found here.
Welcome to Week 5 of the One Room Challenge®. It’s been a busy week, and we’ve made some progress on the remodel of my little dressing room. And we needed to – next week is the big reveal!
I can sum up my week in five words: Clean, sand, prime, paint, repeat. Not that I’m complaining. But I am dreaming of the day, hopefully soon, when I can actually use this cute little dressing room – and feel a little more girly than I do right now.
But I have the easy part. It’s up to Chris to make all the pieces that I’ve been painting fit into the room and more or less look built in – maybe even like they could be original to our circa 1927 house.
Except for one piece, the shoe rack I shared last week, all of the cabinetry in this room will be second-hand items that we have rehabbed and repurposed.
The cabinet itself, and the body of a vintage dresser, in the upstairs landing.
And the dresser drawers in the driveway.
A Visit To The Salvage Shop
We visited a local architectural salvage shop hoping to find a vintage sconce light for the room – which we did. But we also found these little kitchen cabinets. Believe it or not, they are just what the room needs – and we found them in the nick of time.
What we liked about them, besides their great condition and affordable price, was the single-panel doors. We knew that, once we painted them and replaced the door hardware, they would resemble the original single-panel cabinetry that appears throughout our house.
A Rustic Touch
Since the room will be mostly white, I thought it needed a little rustic counterbalance.
So we bought this wall-mounted garment rack kit. Made of authentic industrial pipe, it’s exactly the look I wanted. We could have made our own out of plumbing parts, but it was actually less expensive to buy this kit.
Every piece had a protective coating of grease to keep it from rusting. So they all needed to be cleaned and then sealed with a spray-on finish. Since I was running out of work space, I did that project on the back patio.
The Vintage Cabinet
Several years ago, we bought two adorable vintage cabinets for $5 apiece at a garage sale. If you’ve been with me for a while, you might remember that we used one of them in our kitchen.
We needed to put that cabinet on legs to clear the heat register in the wall behind it.
We are using the second cabinet in the dressing room. And that one also needed to go on legs – this time to clear the baseboard so it would fit snugly against the wall. Since we like them and they are a good value, we used the same legs that we’d installed on the first cabinet.
The only difference is that I painted these legs with the “Simply White” cabinet paint instead of using a finish on them.
Chris inset the legs just enough so that they would clear the baseboard. The cabinet was going in a corner, so it had to clear the baseboard on two walls.
Just like with the first cabinet, Chris anchored this one to the wall. After all, we live in earthquake country.
I had several little paint sample containers left from when I was deciding on the floor color. So I used one of them – Iron Frost by Valspar – to paint the interior of the cabinet and give it a little interest.
Because this cabinet has a leaded glass door, it can display “pretty” things. So Chris installed brass hooks along the top of the interior where I can hang necklaces and scarves.
The South Wall Comes Together
I haven’t shared much about the south wall of the room. That’s because, until now, there wasn’t much going on. It’s a very narrow portion of the room (not even four feet wide) and easy to over-fill. So our goal is to make it a useful yet uncluttered space.
This is where the vintage dresser and those salvage shop kitchen cabinets come into play. Put together, they work around a sloped ceiling and a window.
It doesn’t look like much yet, but I’m hoping it will soon!
All the cabinetry in the room will have the same hardware – glass knobs that match what is already on the cabinetry throughout the house.
Vintage glass knobs are fairly common, and I assumed they’d be easy to find locally. But none of the salvage shops we visited had enough of them. So we had to buy reproductions.
There we found the best price on the glass knobs we needed – and by searching I found an online coupon I could use. The knobs look great, but the screws they came with are all too long, so we will need to size every one of them down.
That’s on the list, but the list is getting a little shorter.
And speaking of lists . . .
Even with a super-small budget, things add up. Here is what the actual project cost is looking like, in round numbers. (The vintage dresser is not included because we’ve had that piece forever.)
Wall, Trim, Cabinet, and Floor Paint and Floor Stencil
Since this was a small room, I used this Shur-Line paint and stain applicator and got a nice, even finish. (Of course, not wanting to take any chances, I didn’t use an extension handle. I was on my knees at floor level!)
And to reward myself for having come this far, I finally broke out my new HANDy paint tray. But more on that later.
I applied four coats of the finish, letting each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next. After the last coat, I let the room just sit empty for a few days to make darn sure the finish was dry.
So, lots of drying time. But while this was going on, Chris and I were tackling a monster.
The Wardrobe (aka, “The Monster”)
Chris and I found this wardrobe listed by a private seller on Craigslist. I wish I’d taken a photo of it before we set it on sawhorses in our living room. But at the time, it was all I could do to help him muscle it in from the truck.
So, here it is on sawhorses.
Carrying it down to the basement workshop was out of the question. This was a huge and solid piece of wood furniture. It was in great condition and it smelled fresh. And the best part (besides the price – only $100) was that, according to our measurements, it would fit perfectly into an alcove in the dressing room.
That is, with a few modifications.
Making it Fit
The top piece was wider than the body of the cabinet. So, the first thing Chris did was pull off that top piece and trim the sides to make it fit the alcove space.
Yes, it would fit – barely.
But there was another problem: The baseboard. In order for the wardrobe to fit, the baseboard in that alcove space had to go.
Chris used his Ryobi multi tool for this. I was a bit worried about the floor, but he didn’t damage it.
Meanwhile, I cleaned, lightly sanded, primed, and painted the wardrobe.
Again I used my new HANDy paint tray. It has a feature that I just love: A magnet holds the paint brush so it doesn’t slip into the paint.
Even with a much-used paint brush like mine, with many coats of paint over the metal, the magnet held it.
For applying the paint, I used my Shur-Line paint and stain applicator – the same tool I’d used to apply the floor finish. (Of course I still needed to use a small paintbrush for the detail work).
This method gave me what I wanted: An even application that looked more like a “factory finish” than I could have gotten by using the conventional roller-and-back-brushing method.
And it seemed like less work.
So I applied two coats of the Benjamin Moore “Simply White” cabinet paint – the same paint that I’d used on the moldings and doors in the dressing room.
The Wardrobe Goes Upstairs!
Then Chris and my brother Dan hauled the huge monster up our narrow staircase and muscled it into place in the alcove.
Wardrobe (sans doors and drawers) in place in the alcoveThis kind of fit was exactly what I was looking for. One my goals for the room, which I listed in my Week 1 introduction, was to add furniture that looked built in but was actually removable.
This piece fits the space so well, and finding it on Craigstlist was very fortunate – like finding a needle in a haystack.
If you’re into details, you probably noticed the small attic hatch in the ceiling above the wardrobe. Nothing is stored in that attic but, if there were ever a roof leak, we might need to access that attic space.
So Chris put the wardrobe on these low-profile trundle casters. Now it can be moved when we need to get into the attic. And, unless you know to look for them, the casters aren’t really that noticeable.
We put little wedges in front of the casters for now, but we’re going to anchor the wardrobe to the wall with an easy-to-remove screw.
And then Chris will replace the baseboard that runs along the wall in front of the wardrobe. But that too will have screws instead of nails so it can be removed if we ever need to roll the wardrobe out.
A “Customized” Shoe Rack
I bought this shoe rack (which is actually called a horizontal cube) from Target because its style and dimensions were perfect for the space I had in mind.
I wanted it to fit flush against the wall, but again the baseboard was an issue. So Chris carefully cut a small chunk out of the back of the shoe rack to make it fit neatly around the baseboard.
The shoe rack came unassembled, so Chris could make the necessary cuts before he assembled it.
I love that the white of the shoe rack is so close to the Simply White that I’ve been painting everything. The only thing I don’t like about this piece is that the screw heads are exposed. But I’m not sure they will be very noticeable once the other pieces we have planned for this wall are in place.
By the way, this shoe rack is the only new piece of furniture going into this room. All the other pieces will be ones that we already had or that we purchased second-hand.
After all, this is a budget project.
Coming Next Week
We are getting down to the wire, and there is still so much ground to cover. We need to install a second light fixture, a garment rack, a bit of molding, and possibly a wall shelf. Chris has more furniture customizing to do.
And I have more painting – much more. After the wardrobe went upstairs, I immediately put another piece on the sawhorses in our living room.
Lots of white will be going into the dressing room, but I’ll leave you with a little preview of some of the other colors that we’ll be incorporating.
There are so many amazing room transformations happening over on the One Room Challenge. If you get a chance, check out what some of the featured designers and the other guest participants are working on.
To me, the best homes are the ones that are a comfortable extension of the person living there. It’s fun to walk into someone’s home and learn more about them just by what they have chosen to display. Those little personal touches are instant conversation starters.
So I thought this guest post, with simple ways to create a more personalized home, would be a fun one to share.
The following is a contributed post. For more information on my contributed posts, please click here.
3 Ways To Make Your Home More Personal To You
There are many things that you might want to be able to say about your own home, but probably the most important is that you want your home to be a reflection of you – to be as personal to you as possible.
If it is not personal to you, if it looks and feels like just about anybody could be living there, then you are just not going to enjoy it as much. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to ensure that you can make your home personal to you and, as long as you are focused on these, you should be able to make your home a much happier place overall.
So let’s take a look at three of the best ways to make your home more personal to you.
One of the simplest ways, of course, is to put some thought and effort into customizing your home’s design. It’s easier than you might assume, yet the effect it will have is truly profound.
After all, it is going to mean that there is no other home in the world which is exactly like yours. A good way to start is to consider transforming the look of your home with custom paint and glass. The impact of fresh paint and new windows can be truly amazing. And, when you have those basic elements in place, they can serve as inspiration for personalizing your decor.
Of course, it is also hugely important to make sure that you have a lot of personal reminders scattered throughout your home. This will make it much easier to feel that your home really is a place for you and your family. It might simply mean displaying photos of friends, family, or even pets. Or it might mean including those special little items that remind you of different times in your life – or the travels that you have been on.
Consider displaying your child’s art work – or perhaps something that you have been collecting. Think about bringing in a few house plants to soften the look – or simply a few flowers from your garden.
You also might try rotating just a few decor items so that your home has a fresh look each season – without a lot of work on your part.
We’ve covered customizing your home’s design and personalizing its decor. But what really makes for a happy home – the glue that holds it all together – is of course comfort. More than anything else, creating a comfortable atmosphere will make you feel that your home is personal to you. Think color, texture, lighting, fragrance. And don’t forget the more practical considerations: Room function, traffic flow, and temperature. Creating a comfortable atmosphere is actually simple enough, and it’s mostly a case of ensuring that the way you live in your space – with whoever you live with – is a peaceful and engaged one.
That is going to make a huge difference indeed.
However you do it, personalizing your home will make you and your family happy to come home after a long day.
Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.
I’d started the project with confidence after getting some words of encouragement from Stacie, another ORC participant who had just finished a charming stenciled wall. This kind of moral support is what makes the ORC so much fun.
In case you missed them, check out my Week 1 and Week 2 posts. They explain the strange little dressing room that my husband and I are remodeling.
Chris had installed a plywood floor in the room to cover some hideous mid century linoleum. (Check out Week 2 to see the ugly linoleum!)
We came to the conclusion that, to avoid having too much of a height variance between the hallway and dressing room floors, and to keep this project cost-effective, simply painting the plywood was the best option.
The mostly-white room would need something to “pop,” so we kept coming back to the idea of a stenciled floor. After all, stenciled floors and stenciled tiles are kind of a thing right now.
But sometimes it doesn’t take long for “a thing” to become “that old thing,” which is why I try to keep my decor classic and avoid those kinds of “things.”
Then it dawned on me that this is just paint – one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to infuse a trend. Once the stencil is not “a thing” anymore, I can simply paint over it. But I really don’t want it to come to that, so we chose this classic eight-inch stencil.
You can see that four stylized fleur-de-lis images make up the eight-inch square. It really doesn’t get more classic than the fleur-de-lis, which has been around for centuries.
And it would also work with nicely with the original design elements of our circa 1927 house.
The Fun Begins!
I suspected (and rightly so) that this project would be time consuming and frustrating. So I did a little research and found a wealth of information over at lovelyetc. com. Here, Carrie talks about her DIY stenciled plywood living room floor. She even has updates on how it is holding up.
Not wanting to re-invent the wheel, I followed her advice pretty much to the letter. And when I didn’t follow her advice, I lived to regret it (more on that later).
Before we go any further, I should mention that plywood is considered a subfloor, and this might become an issue when selling a home because some lenders don’t like exposed subfloors. Not sure if that would count in my case because there is a “real” floor under the plywood, but it’s worth mentioning.
The Paint and Colors
I used Valspar Porch, Floor and Patio Latex Paint. After much deliberation (insert eye roll by my husband here), my colors were “Crucible” for the base coat and “Fresh Bread” for the stencil.
With the room being so tiny, a quart of each was enough.
Applying the Base Coat
I’d already applied two coats of Zinnser Bulls Eye Primer. So over this, I applied two coats of the Crucible using a roller cover designed for smooth surfaces and my trusty, and much used, Shur-Line edger for the edges. (And of course, I vacuumed the floor, the roller cover, and edger pad within an inch of their lives first, for a lint-free application.)
This was definitely the easy part.
Measuring For the Stencil – What, No Way!!
Measure twice, stencil once. I measured the room to figure out the best plan of attack for the pattern I was about to paint. If there would be a part-pattern along any edge, which edge should it be? And then where should I start?
After measuring, I was sure I was wrong. No way could I be this lucky: The pattern repeat would fit perfectly with the dimensions of this weirdly-shaped little room. There would be no part-patterns along any of the floor edges!
To better wrap my head around this (and to practice a bit more with the stencil), I painted the pattern repeat on a test board that I’d used earlier to experiment with paint colors.
I wasn’t wrong.
Painting the Stencil
The size of my stencil turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. While it fit perfectly with the room dimensions, at eight inches it was a very small stencil for use on a floor. I bought it because I liked it, knowing full well that Carrie recommends using a larger stencil.
I’d created a lot of work for myself.
The process took many hours over several days. I learned that the stencil worked best if wasn’t too clean but also not too gummed up with paint. Medium gummy was just right. And it was important not to oversaturate the roller with paint. Less paint on the roller meant less cursing by me.
I kept a wet rag handy to wipe away any mistakes. And there were mistakes.
The stencil had a guide to make it easier to keep the pattern lined up.
But I was so focused on keeping the lines straight that I forgot one important fact: Straight lines and old houses don’t mix.
I found out the hard way that one of the walls runs ever so slightly at an angle. So, while the stencil pattern lined up, it looked a bit crooked running next to that wall.
I had to paint over that portion and start again – carefully repainting it so that the pattern looked lined up yet still ran straight along the wall.
By this time, I was dreaming about the end of this project, when I would light a glorious bonfire and watch that stencil burn! (Of course it was only a dream since burning plastic is very uncool.)
And I shouldn’t be mad at the stencil anyway. Made in the U.S.A., it was good quality. It held up well considering how many times I cleaned it during the process.
Now the hard part is over. The floor looks a bit busy but, once the furniture is in, it will all come together.
It’s not perfect, but it is a hand-painted floor so I think the imperfections give it character. That is what I’m telling myself, anyway.
Because, perfect or not, I’m done stenciling!
Coming Next Week
The next step is to protect my work with several coats of finish, and then we can focus on the furniture.
Do you have your best ideas when you first wake up? I’d been grappling with my plans for the furniture layout in this quirky little dressing room. Something wasn’t quite right.
And then this morning I woke up with the solution.
Maybe all the inspiration I’m seeing in the One Room Challenge® is rubbing off. It’s week two of the challenge, and it’s been fun checking out the room transformations happening here.
And it’s excellent motivation as Chris and I continue working on the remodel of my dressing room. If you missed my Week I post, pop over to see the before photos and our plan of attack.
But essentially, here is the layout of the space we’re working with, all 70-ish square feet of it.
What the sketch doesn’t show is that the ceiling on the east wall slopes down with the roofline to meet the wall. So, the east wall isn’t even six feet high.
Week Two Progress
We have been very busy, and I’m happy with our progress so far. Here is what we’ve been up to.
A Decision On The Floor
Almost every finished room in our circa 1927 house has the original fir flooring exposed and refinished. Except for this little room. It was carpeted, and that’s because, under the carpet, there was mid-century linoleum covering the original fir floor.
We found evidence that someone, at some point, had tried to remove the linoleum but had given up.
Chris tried several methods of removing it himself, including heat. But this flooring was holding on tight, and the tiny bit of progress he made was painfully slow and unpleasant. It would take countless hours to remove it, and many more to salvage the fir floor beneath it – if that floor was even salvageable.
After all, there was a good-sized mystery patch in the middle.
And some weirdness in a corner.
But the larger issue was that, by disturbing this older flooring and adhesive, we were running the risk of releasing and breathing asbestos. For this to be done right, we needed to hire someone who was licensed to perform asbestos abatement.
So at this point I was more than happy to move on to our Plan B.
Chris would just cover the whole mess with quarter-inch plywood. And then I would paint it. That’s right – a painted plywood floor!
But before Chris installed this beautiful new plywood, I painted the walls, moldings, and entry door. Since we were going to cover that old flooring anyway, I wouldn’t even need a drop cloth.
Wall and Trim Paint
The room is very small. It has a ceiling that follows the sloping roofline of our second floor. The sloped ceiling had been painted a different color (ceiling white) than the walls (a light blue), and I always felt like that weighed the room down somehow.
So, my thought was that painting the entire room – ceilings, walls, moldings and doors – all in one neutral color would lighten the room and make it appear larger.
Since the room only has one small pocket window, I wanted a very light paint. So, I went with good old Benjamin Moore “Simply White.” Despite the name, the color is actually a soft and neutral off-white that is said to play nicely with other colors – even other whites.
Perfect, I thought, for a that classic and uncluttered look I wanted.
I used a matte finish for the walls and ceiling. I used their satin cabinet paint (which will come in handy later too – you’ll see!) for the moldings and doors. Although both paints are Simply White, just the variation in the paint finishes provides enough contrast to bring a little definition to the moldings.
The Plywood Floor Begins!
Once I finished painting, Chris installed the plywood floor.
and patched the seams and screw holes.
I was surprised how quickly he did all this, and as usual he did a beautiful job.
I vacuumed the floor thoroughly and applied two coats of Zinsser Bulls Eye primer. To apply the primer, I used a short-nap roller cover made for smooth finishes. And I used my trusty Shur-Line edger (which I often use in place of a paint brush) for the perimeter. I vacuumed both the roller cover and the edger pad before using them to make darn sure I’d have a lint-free application.
So now the floor is a beautiful blank canvas, and I’m a bit nervous. I’d been experimenting with various paint applications, including a takeoff on rag-rolling that I’d hoped would look like a treated cement floor – but wound up looking more like a dirty floor. Someday I might play around more with that technique.
But for this little room, Chris and I kept coming back to the idea of a stencil. With the all-white everything, it would be a nice contrast to have the floor carry a pattern.
While I was deliberating over the floor, Chris was rebuilding the sad little door on the east wall that leads to an attic space.
This short hollow-core door (only 64 inches tall) is not original to our circa 1927 house. And neither was the cheap 2-inch molding around it.
So Chris rebuilt the door to make it look like one of our original single-panel doors from the 1920s.
This turned out to be a very cool project, but it was more planning and more work than it looks like. So I’m going to write a post in the future dedicated solely to this door rehab.
But for now I’ll explain it in broad strokes.
He started by installing molding around the door that had actually been removed from another room in our house! (Chris tends to hang on to things, and sometimes this comes in very handy.)
Now the molding around the door would match the other moldings in the house.
Then he installed molding around the perimeter of the door itself to give it the appearance of a single-panel door.
Once all that was done, I primed the door and moldings and painted them with the Simply White cabinet paint.
Then it was finally time to upgrade from the cheap, 1970’s-era brass-tone knob that had been on the door – the knob that has bugged me since we moved in.
We’ve collected a pretty good stash of old house parts over the years and, rummaging through it, we found this beauty.
We chose it because of its petite size (in scale with the door) and because all of our original doors have glass knobs.
We also replaced the flimsy hinges on the door with these vintage hinges – which, besides being very well-made, are identical to the hinges on our original doors.
I want to be careful not to give away too much before the big Week 6 reveal but, since I didn’t put a mood board together, I want to show you this door as an example of what we have planned for the entire room: 1920s elegance, feminine but classic, glass knobs, soft white.
Pre-rebuild, the door had a beveled dressing mirror attached to it, and we just reused it. There is a small chip on the lower right had corner, but I can live with that. Character.
Coming Next Week
The stencil begins! I know this will be a ton of work – and probably pretty frustrating. I’m really hoping to have decent results.
But if I don’t, it’s just paint. I can always paint over it and try something else.