Second Tuesday Art Walk #6 – Discovering A Home’s Hidden Storage Areas

Welcome to the January edition of Second Tuesday Art Walk.  This time we’re on a treasure hunt to find that precious commodity:  Hidden storage space.  But what we’re looking for is hiding in plain sight, because it’s easy to scout out those little underutilized areas once we take a fresh look at our homes.

The possibilities are endless, but today I’m sharing five.  Let’s get started!

1.  Covered Porches and Protected Entryways

I always strive to make my front porch look welcoming.  But, without sacrificing style, I could do a lot more to make it functional – a place to store umbrellas and mud boots so they never have to come inside.

In a protected outdoor area, it might even make sense to add a simple hat and coat rack like the one that Sara built.

Photo courtesy of Twelve on Main

It took her less than 20 minutes to make it herself.  The tutorial is here.

2. Small-Scale Vertical

When I think of vertical storage, I usually think large-scale, like closet organizers and wall units.  But small-scale vertical storage can make life so much easier.

I could get rid of the lazy Susan next to my range if I had something like Amy’s DIY backsplash shelf and organizer.  I love that it takes up zero counter space.

Photo Courtesy of Her Tool Belt.

3. Re-evaluating Closets

This suggestion might seem obvious, but how many of us actually do this?  And what a difference it would make.

Beth and Nick took this basic builder-grade closet . . .

Photo courtesy of Reality Daydream

identified all the unused spaces, and then created custom DIY shelving that uses every possible area.   “After” photos and the tutorial can be found here.

4. Areas Behind Doors

Taking the door swing into account, my husband Chris created this shallow, L-shaped shelf to fit in the small space behind our laundry room door.  Here we stash cleaning tools and supplies, an iron and an ironing board.

And this hard-working little space doesn’t feel cluttered.  This area is part of our recent laundry room remodel.

5. Recessed Dressers and Cabinets

Our house is what is called a “one-and-a-half story house.”  That is because some of the upstairs portion of our house is finished, livable space, while other parts are unfinished attic space.

Since we have little doors that lead to those unfinished spaces, I store things there. But it’s awkward creeping around in these dark, low-ceilinged areas, and I usually bump my head or get scratched by an exposed nail.

That’s why I so admire Sarah’s recessed dresser.  She’s using space in the unfinished attic to store things, yet she can access those items from her bedroom.

Of course you really have to know what you’re doing to work around wall studs, wiring, or other things that might be hidden in the wall.

Photo courtesy of Simply Sarahdipity

Another advantage to this recessed dresser is that it takes up zero floor space in the bedroom.

How I love saying that.  Zero floor space.  Now I have all sorts of ideas for similar projects at our house.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Shop
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Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
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Simple DIY Toddler Dress-Up Outfits

Happy New Year!  It’s January, so we really should leave the holiday glitz behind and get busy organizing our closets, our cupboards, and our lives.

Or . . . we can start the New Year on a lighter note.  Want to see the silly little dress-up outfits that I made for my niece?  Sure you do.

Learning By Dressing

I was happily surprised when “dress-up items” appeared on the list of things my niece would enjoy for Christmas.  Even though she is a small toddler, apparently she likes to experiment with outfits and jewelry.  But at her age, she’s not trying to look like a princess.  She’s just using dress-up activities as a learning game.

So I thought it would be fun to pull a few things together for her.  But the ready-made dress-up costumes that I found – ones that were within my budget anyway – all had three issues:  They weren’t available in her tiny size, they looked cheaply made, and they looked stiff and uncomfortable.

So I decided to make her some dress-up outfits.  My sewing skills are pretty much limited to straight seams, so these little outfits would have to be simple.

Not Reinventing the Wheel

Disclosure:  Affiliate Links are used below.

I intended to sew a few tutus, but then I came across some lovely tutus in her size at Macy’s.  They were on sale, plus I had a coupon.  Sewing my own would have been more costly than buying them.

One of the tutus from Macy’s

The inside linings are very soft, so these tutus seem comfortable to wear and easy to pull up over leggings or even pants.

I bought two and added my own embellishments.  Using pom pom trim and torn strips of batik fabric (both left over from previous projects), I gave one tutu a colorful, zany look.  I added tulle flower trim to the other one for a classic ballerina look.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Tutus

I found a simple white sweater at a thrift store.  It looked almost new, and perhaps had never been worn at all.

Child's sweater from thrift shop

Such a cute little sweater.  I almost felt bad about what I had planned for it.

I washed it and added zany embellishments that complement the colorful tutu.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Embellished sweater

The strips of gathered tulle fabric sewn over the sleeves resemble little wings – or a cape.  She can use her imagination.

Reinventing the Wheel – Badly

I wanted to make a lined velvet cape to go with the ballerina tutu.  I don’t have much patience for following sewing patterns, so I thought it would be faster if I just cut fabric into a big circle and then chopped away at the circle until I had the form I wanted.

But was I ever wrong.  I almost gave up several times because the slippery, stretchy, velvety fabric I used was so hard to work with.  The cape, while cute at first glance, is definitely not my best sewing effort.

 

But oh well, it’s just for playing dress-up.

Felt Headbands

My niece visited us early in December, and I waited until she stopped running around for a moment to quickly measured the circumference of her head.

I used interfacing to create a basic headband form.

The pin was removed after the form was correctly sized and sewn together.

I made two of these forms.  Then I covered each one with felt fabric and embellishments to make comfortable but (hopefully) durable headbands.

One is colorful and wacky, the other classic with the same pink tulle flowers used on the ballerina tutu.

Jewelry and Pouches

I bought a couple of inexpensive children’s necklaces and sewed a simple pouch to hold each necklace.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Purchased necklaces with home made pouches

Vintage Gloves

My niece has lots of shoes, but I knew she needed gloves.  No dress-up ensemble is complete without them.

I purchased a little stack of vintage children’s gloves for a very reasonable price from a vendor on Etsy.com. 

Vintage gloves from Etsy vendor

While not in perfect condition, they looked and smelled fresh upon arrival.  Even so, I soaked and hand washed them in mild soap and a few drops of hydrogen peroxide.

The sizes varied.  I added the pair that she can wear now to her dress-up items.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Vintage gloves

The Box

A few years ago, a friend gave me a collection of postcards featuring the charming Flower Fairies illustrations of Cicely Mary Barker.  The illustrations were done between 1923 and 1948 and, although I missed the mark, they were my inspiration for the costumes.

So I glued a few of the postcards to the gift box that would hold her outfits.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Inspiration for

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Dress up box

At this point, my niece is probably still rummaging through her Christmas gifts, so it could be a while before she turns her attention to these costumes.  But if she has half as much fun playing with them as I had putting them together, I will be happy.

This post is for entertainment only and is not a tutorial. Please consider all appropriate child safety issues before taking on similar projects.

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Second Tuesday Art Walk #5

Sweet and Simple Holiday Gift Wrap Ideas

Welcome to the December edition of Second Tuesday Art Walk.  I hope you’re enjoying this holiday season.

About a week ago, I had my first gift exchange with a small group of friends.  I’d shopped early for their gifts, knowing that I would have tons of time to wrap them.  Unlike previous years, this time I would make sure that each friend received an amazing, festively wrapped package – a package so stunning that she would not even want to unwrap it.

At least that was the plan.

Of course that didn’t happen because I waited until about 20 minutes before I had to leave the house to start wrapping.  Having tons of time just meant I could procrastinate longer.

So for me, simple gift wrap ideas are always the best.  But simple can be beautiful.  Today I’m sharing a few fun and surprisingly easy gift wrap ideas.

Car and Tree Cuteness

Heather at Growing Spaces  shows us how to make a car and tree package sure to bring out the kid in all of us.

Photo courtesy of Growing Spaces

Ruffle Yarn Ribbon

A few years ago, I used ruffle yarn as ribbon – with fun results.

Easy holiday gift wrap using ruffle yarn

Easy to find at craft stores, ruffle yarn is nice to work with because it can be pulled apart for a lace-like look, and it usually contains tiny sequins for a subtle holiday glimmer.

DIY Scandinavian-Inspired Gift Wrap

White wrapping paper and a sharpie – what could be easier?  Andrea at the.beauty.dojo shows us how easy it is to get that clean, minimalist Scandinavian look.  And she also offers us free printable gift tags to complete the look.

Photo courtesy of the.beauty.dojo

Paper Doilies

Last year I became obsessed with old-fashioned paper doilies.

Easy holiday gift wrap using doilies

I mostly used them with plain craft paper, but sometimes with fancier paper.  They were easy to attach using a glue stick.

Holiday wrap using paper doilies

 

And I found they were more interesting offset on the package rather than centered.

DIY Gift Bag From Wrapping Paper

Some gifts just don’t fit in a box.  And I don’t usually realize that until the last minute.  Luckily Tasha at Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body has a simple tutorial for creating a gift bag from wrapping paper.

Photo courtesy of Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body

DIY Paper Tassels

Tassels are hot this year.  And Debra at Vintage Paper Parade shares an easy way to make them.

Photo courtesy of Vintage Paper Parade

Fabric Strips

One year I used torn strips of muslin fabric, left over from a sewing project, instead of ribbons and bows.  The result was a soft, old-world look.

Easy holiday gift wrap using torn fabric

 

Happy Holidays Dear Friends!

I’m putting this blog down for her long winter’s nap, but we will pick things up again in January.  Until then, I wish you and yours every happiness that the holidays bring.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only.

 

Holiday Reading


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Frosted Alliums for Holiday Decor

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that in September I urged you to save any allium seed heads that might be growing in your garden.  And now I’m going to show you why.

The Inspiration

Last holiday season, my talented friend Loralee gave me this adorable gift, which she made herself using an allium seed head.

It got me thinking about all the ways we can use allium seed heads in holiday decor.  So I’ve been doing a little experimenting.

Finding Seed Heads

Allium plants are grown from bulbs.  In my area, they bloom spring to summer, and then the flowers turn into seed heads that are highly ornamental.  They come in many sizes, heights, and shapes.  Some are huge, some are tiny.

I found only one seed head in my own garden, but it was pretty spectacular.

And in early fall, a neighbor offered me all of her allium seed heads.  She had a nice variety.

Some still had seeds so I left those outside for the birds until the weather turned.

And I let them all dry indoors completely before I began using them.

The Experiment

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used below.

 

I used matte white spray paint that I had on hand.  I wanted the seed heads to look frosted, not flocked, so I used the paint sparingly.

While the paint was still wet, I dusted each seed head with Buffalo Snow Flakes iridescent sprinkles (which I also had on hand) for a subtle sparkle.  Then I carefully shook off the excess.

Even though I shook off the excess, little bits of the Buffalo Snow Flakes continued to shed.  So in this case I probably would have been better off with a spray-on sparkle.

Working with the alliums took a little patience because some of them were still shedding seeds.

And the seed heads got tangled together very easily.  They were brittle and fragile, and I had to be careful not to damage them.

Still I am happy with the results.  Here is what I’ve done with them so far.

Frozen Forest

I like to keep things simple.  By securing allium stems of varying heights to spike frogs,

I made a frozen forest to go behind the vintage putz church that once belonged to my husband’s parents.

 

Nutcracker’s Adventure

The smallest allium seed head is secured to a tiny spike frog.  It towers over a three-inch German nutcracker as he wanders through a miniature forest.

Holiday Drama

The seed heads were on long stems.  Some of them were almost as tall as me.  I had fantasies of making a full-sized allium forest with them.  But getting them to stand securely on such tall stems would have taken some doing.

Still I had one dramatically curving stem that was almost three feet tall, and I wanted to do something special with it.  I was able to secure it, and a few other stems of varying heights, by inserting stem wire into the bottom of the stems and leaving a couple of inches of floral wire out of the stem.   I used wire cutters to cut the stem wire to size where needed.

Then I secured them to a piece of styrofoam set in a shallow clay bowl.

I covered the styrofoam with preserved moss and added a some small vintage ornaments.  I chose one good example of each type of seed head to make this crazy thing.

What Mom Did

Of course I frosted way too many seed heads so I gave some to Mom.  Her first career was in floral design, so I was curious to see how she would use them.

She mixed them with materials she had on hand to make this lovely piece for her entryway.

 

Mom is amazing with all things floral.  She could have made five of these in her sleep in the time it took me to put together my “Holiday Drama” creation.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


About Putz Houses and Churches

Putz means different things to different people, but really any piece of a holiday-themed  miniature village can be considered putz.

Want to make your own?  Check out the DIY putz house kits and other putz on Etsy.

AgedWithThyme’s tiny putz saltbox house kit is especially cute.  I love that colonial look.


Holiday Reading

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Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
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Second Tuesday Art Walk #4

Small Handmade Gift Ideas

Hostess gifts, stocking stuffers, gifts for co-workers, hair stylists, and lunch buddies:  I always need small gift ideas around the holidays.

But I love the small gifts.  They are an opportunity to give something fun – something unique and handmade.

So in this Art Walk, we’ll be looking at a few DIY and artisan-made gifts.

Easy-To-Make DIY Gifts

For most people, this time of year is busy – too busy for elaborate DIY projects.  So I’m showing you a couple of my own simple projects and a couple of projects that I would love to try.

Fir Scented Sachet Ornaments

Last summer on our trip to Maine, I bought a bag of Balsam fir needles.  It smelled so wonderful – like a high-mountain hike.

Recently I made sachet ornaments using the fir needles as the filler.

Fir sachet ornaments: DIY gift idea

These ornaments are nice to hang on artificial trees to give them that “real tree” scent.

Fir sachet ornaments: DIY gift idea

And they can be bundled into gift packs.

Fir sachet ornaments: DIY gift idea

After Christmas, they can be tossed into closets, drawers, or chests to keep those smelling nice.

You can find the tutorial for making these at the end of this post.

Cute, Tiny Refrigerator Magnets

I’m in love with these adorable little magnets that Stephanie made.

Photo courtesy of Ingenious Inkling

Who wouldn’t want one (or several) of these?

This craft looks so fun and easy.  For the tutorial, click here.

Batik Dinner Napkins

Last year at a fabric store on Black Friday, I found cotton batik fabric quarters (aka “fat quarters”) for 75 cents each.

They measured 18 X 21 inches and the fabric was double sided – perfect for dinner napkins.

I bought an assortment and made a set of 8 eclectic dinner napkins.

And all I had to do was double-fold hem the edges (for how to sew a double-fold hem, see this post).

DIY Batik Dinner Napkins
Batik dinner napkins: A fun DIY gift.

What could be easier?  And the fabric was made in India, machine washable.

Rope Trivet

Jess made this elegant trivet from a clothesline rope.  The texture looks so luxurious.  Now I want to learn to crochet.

Photo courtesy of Make & Do Crew

For the tutorial, click here.

 

Artisan-Made Gifts

These handmade creations are on my list of small gift ideas for this year – although I worry that if I buy them I will want to keep them.

Disclosure:  Affiliate Links are used below.

Geometric Ornament

Elegant and contemporary, this handmade ornament by Waen would make an impressive hostess gift.

All Natural Spa Gift Set

I can think of a few people on my gift list who deserve a little pampering.  And I can feel good about giving this all natural beauty set by LittleFlowerSoapCo  because these products don’t contain palm oil.

But what I really love is that this set can be customized with several luxurious choices for the soap and the lip balm.

*If allergies or sensitivities are a concern, ask for and check the list of ingredients before purchasing.

Personalized Passport Cover

Yes, we have one in our family:  That person afflicted with wanderlust.  A personalized, embossed leather passport cover by ShopAlwaysRooney would be just the ticket for our world traveler.

Gourmet Sea Salts

This set of gourmet sea salts by purposedesign is nice for any foodie, but the presentation is handsome enough for the hard-to-shop-for men on my list – at least those who like to cook or grill.*

*If allergies or dietary restrictions are a concern, ask for and check the list of ingredients before purchasing.

Indoor Herb Garden Kit

Plants and seedlings – or even the promise of them coming soon – can brighten drab winter days.  This little seed kit by Mountainlilyfarm comes in a cute wooden berry basket, and the seeds are grown in the Ozark Mountains.

For the Crazy Cat Person

Until a few years ago, that crazy cat person would have been me.  Priscilla is now our only cat.  But for many years we had three cats – plus the occasional foster.

I wish I’d had this sign by BelvedereCollections then, since it would have answered the question that my friends and family were too polite to ask.

By the Way

Oh by the way, if you enjoy cheerful, fragrant paperwhites blooming indoors during the holidays, now is the time to start them from bulbs.

Check out my posts Growing Paperwhites for a Beautiful Holiday Centerpiece for the how-to and Start Paperwhites Now For the Holidays  for more paperwhite inspiration – and ideas for giving them as gifts.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only.


Sachet Ornament Tutorial

It was so easy to make these sachets.

Tools and materials:

  • Fabric cut into 4.5 inch squares (this is a great way to use up leftover fabric scraps)
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Pinking shears
  • Narrow fabric ribbon cut in 8-inch lengths
  • A bag of Balsam fir needles
  • A sewing machine
  • A tablespoon

How to Make:

  1. Good sides facing out, I sewed two fabric squares together on three sides, leaving 3/8″ seams.  I looped the ribbon and incorporated it into my stitching in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. So now I had a little fabric bag with a ribbon loop in one corner.  I scooped about three tablespoons of fir needles into the bag.
  3. Then I sewed up the top of the bag, again leaving a 3/8″ seam.
  4. Then I finished each edge with pinking shears.
Step 1 - sew two fabric squares together on three sides
Step 1
Step two: Fill the fabric pouch with fir needles
Step 2
Step three: sew the fourth seam
Step 3
Step 4: trim the edges using pinking shears
Step 4
Finished sachet
Voilà!



Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
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Dan’s Workshop
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Floral Design
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A Blue and White Thanksgiving

For the past several years, my husband Chris and I hosted Thanksgiving in our tiny dining room.  We learned that the key is to be prepared.  We planned ahead, and we divided tasks.  Chris was a natural in the kitchen, and I clumsily muddled through as his sous chef.

But my favorite part of preparing was planning the table decor. So today I’m sharing my blue and white table from last year’s Thanksgiving dinner.

Denim Inspiration

Denim for a Thanksgiving tablecloth?  Why not.  Last year, I became obsessed with this denim fabric.  The pattern reminded me of a block print fabric from India.

Denim fabric, muslin fabric, and accent ribbon.

I got some white muslin to make napkins and some white and blue ribbon to continue the theme.

We all know that denim jeans can go anywhere.  It’s all how you put the look together.  And the same is true for a denim tablecloth.  I wanted a look for my table that was the equivalent of wearing jeans with heels and a tailored white blouse – elegant and classic.

Blue and white Thanksgiving table decor

A classic outfit deserves minimal but well-chosen accessories:

Gold painted leaves.

A DIY gold painted leaf

Blue and white serving pieces.

Blue and white serving pieces

Crystal and understated floral arrangements.

Blue and white Thanksgiving table decor

Blue and white Thanksgiving table decor

Thanksgiving table decor can be very elaborate –  but that never works for my tiny table.  It just means moving more things off the table to make way for the feast.

Small Table Solutions For Holiday Dinners

Last year, I published this post that shared some tricks and tips for hosting holiday dinners on a small table.  That post also shared a few of my previous Thanksgiving table looks.

Earth-toned Thanksgiving table decor

This year we will be dining in style in this gorgeous dining room.  Wherever your Thanksgiving takes you, I hope you have a wonderful one!

Post on this website are for entertainment only.


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Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
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Our Laundry Room Reveal: Before and After Photos

It’s finally time!  Today I’m taking you on a tour of our completed laundry room remodel.

If you’re a regular visitor (hi, Mom), you know that this remodel has stretched on for months, and I’ve been writing posts as the project progressed.  If you’d like to get caught up on past posts about the remodel (which was done in conjunction with our mudroom refresh), here is the list:

And at the end of this post I’ve listed sources for, and information about, some of the products that we used in this remodel.

Let’s Begin!

The laundry room measures only 7′ X 7′, so our goal was to make the best use of the space without overloading the room.  The house was built in 1927, so I wanted the laundry room to be a mix of old world charm and modern efficiency.

Although my husband Chris and I came up with a detailed plan for the room, Chris did most of the actual work.  My brother Dan gave us the initial push we needed by brainstorming with us about how to bring the plan to reality.  Dan also helped to reroute and replace the plumbing – and later in this post you will see the beautiful built-in that he made for the room.

Okay, let’s walk in through the mudroom.

The North Wall

Now we’re inside, and this is what the north wall used to look like.

Laundry Room Remodel: Before
North wall before

I liked having a utility sink.  But there was very little surface space for folding clothes, and ironing in here was too much of a hassle because the only electrical outlet was up on the wall behind the appliances.  As for storage, there was a little recessed wall cabinet, but it was very difficult to access.  Things stored in there were quickly forgotten.

Here is how it looks now.

Laundry Room Remodel: After
North wall after

I think the space actually looks bigger now.

The appliances are 36″ tall, so the new sink base cabinet, which matches our kitchen cabinets, had to be customized to be taller than an ordinary base cabinet.

The quartz countertop had to be 38″ high – but that’s only about two inches higher than your typical kitchen countertop.

And it’s 33″ deep, which is almost 10″ deeper than a kitchen countertop.  So there is lots of space for folding clothes and doing other projects.

Of course, with the deeper countertop, the upper shelves are not easy for me to reach without a ladder or stool.  Our initial plan called for cabinets instead of shelves, but cabinets would have been just as difficult to access.  And any shelf or cabinet that we hung near the window could only be 8 inches deep or it would obstruct the window.

So the shelves hold things that we don’t need often – like shoe care supplies.

A basket of rags sits on a lower shelf within reach.

And the shelves are a fun way to display a few vintage items.

 

I enjoy the look of wood and wicker against the white paneled walls.

And no matter what time it is anywhere else, it’s always 2:00 in our laundry room.

Mid Century Sunburst Clock

Chris remembers this mid century clock from very early in his childhood.  Recently he brought it upstairs from the basement to repair it, and I stashed it in the laundry room to get it out of the way.  And here it stayed – the perfect round object to go in the middle of all the straight lines on the north wall.

Chris has a plan to get it running again, but either way I love the way it looks in this room.

Mid Century Sunburst Clock

I thought about finding some way to conceal the valve box, but I turn the valves on and off every time I do laundry.  So it’s fine.

We chose a stainless deep sink to use with a Delta faucet.

Stainless deep sink with Delta Leland faucet

The East Wall

In the northeast corner, we hung hooks for a couple of vintage coat hangers – one that we found inside the kitchen wall during our kitchen remodel (and that we later realized the original home owners must have brought with them from England).  The other belonged to my German grandfather.

Vintage Coathangers

This is what the east wall used to look like.

East wall before

The little area behind the door, only 14 inches deep, was a mess.

East wall before

And this is how it looks now.

East wall after

I came up with the idea of an L-shaped shelf above a tool rack.  Chris used a couple of leftover shelves and made it happen.

L-shaped shelf to hold cleaning supplies and tools.

The portable space heater from the before photo isn’t needed anymore because Chris added ducting and a heat vent to the room.

Southeast corner after

And it all tucks neatly behind the door.

Originally I wanted a built-in ironing board, but then I realized that I was too in love with the new wall paneling.  I didn’t want a built-in ironing board to detract from the look.  So a tabletop ironing board hangs behind the door, and I just take it to the counter to use it.  This little downgrade saved us a few hundred dollars, and it’s probably just as easy to use as a built-in.

The South Wall

I didn’t get a before photo of the south wall, but this is how it looks now.  Not the best photo, but I had to climb up on the countertop to get it.

South wall after

The Southwest Corner and the West Wall

The southwest corner was a cluttery embarrassment.  Only close family members were allowed to see this.

Southwest corner before

(By the way, Chris is proud of me for getting both toilet plungers into the before photo.  Yeah, I really got my point across with this shot!)

There was a lot stored here.  I found new homes for the things that didn’t really belong in the laundry room.  And there would be some storage in the new sink base cabinet.

Still I knew we’d need more storage, and I wanted it to be easy to reach.  A rectangular- or square- shaped cabinet, placed in this corner, would eat up too much floor space – and ruin the flow.  We realized a corner cabinet would be perfect here.

Dan has built many cabinets for himself, so he offered to build us a corner cabinet – one that would match the sink base cabinet.

Southwest wall after with custom corner cabinet

The little top drawer is very convenient, and there is a surprising amount of storage here.  It works nicely in this corner, with the countertop fitting just below the window frame.

Above the corner cabinet is the expandable wall-mounted drying rack that we found on our recent trip back East.

Southwest corner after

I used a portable wooden drying rack for years.  It would collapse at unexpected times, and it was a pain to store.  I find myself using this wall-mounted rack all the time.

Wall-mounted drying rack

So this was the west wall before.

West wall before

And this is the west wall now.

West wall after

I went with inexpensive matchstick roller blinds for now, and I’m enjoying them.  But I may get something else for the windows in the future since these aren’t very easy to roll up and down.

The washer door clears the corner cabinet – barely.

West wall after

Air Space

Even air space counts in a room this small.  Between the two windows, we installed a stainless retractable clothesline.

Retractable clothesline

It stretches across the room, giving me seven feet of space to hang laundry.

It’s high enough not to strangle us when we walk in, yet low enough for me to use easily.  I love it since I have so many items that I would prefer to air dry.

The Light Fixture

With the windows, this room gets tons of natural light.  We did hang a vintage light that we had in storage.

Vintage light fixture

I guess I lied when I said this project was done.  This room still needs a small towel bar.  But we are very happy with the way it turned out.  It’s functional, it works hard for such a small room, yet it’s has a cheerful, airy vibe.  I love spending time in here – even if I am just folding clothes.

I hope you enjoyed the tour.  In case you’re interested, I’ve listed a few things below that are either the same as or similar to products we used in this remodel.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


Sources

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Wall-Mounted Drying Rack

This Robbins Lumber expandable wall rack is very similar to ours, although it is unfinished wood, so it would need sanding and either finish or paint.

Stainless Deep Sink

This Enbol SD2318 23 Inch 16 Gauge Stainless Steel Sink is very similar to ours in size and quality.

Faucet

I actually won the Delta Leland faucet as a door prize when I attended the Blogpodium conference in Canada a few years ago.  Here is the information on this faucet.

It is also sold via Amazon.

Window Coverings

These Radiance Fruitwood Imperial Matchstick Bamboo Shades  are very similar to the ones we installed in the laundry room.  But as I mentioned above, ours are a little difficult to roll up and down. Their quality matches their modest price.  Still I love the way they look. They do let a lot of light in, which is what I wanted for the laundry room.  But of course that doesn’t work for every situation.

Retractable Clothesline

This KES Stainless Steel Retractable Clothesline is what we have in our laundry room.  And for the price, I am very pleased with the quality.

Shelves

Our shelves came from Home Decorators, but I believe that style has been discontinued.  This Home Decorators 23″ Classic Floating Wall Shelf is not exactly the same, but the dimensions are very similar.

Tabletop Ironing Board

This collapsible tabletop ironing board works just fine for me – especially considering the small amount of ironing that I actually do.


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Second Tuesday Art Walk #3

My niece is learning to talk.  Her vocabulary is constantly expanding, but at the moment she is an expert at getting her point across with just a word or two.

For example, when I saw her the other day she cautioned me, in her sweet little voice, “Careful.  Heavy.”  I knew immediately that she was talking about fall decor.

She was trying to remind me that many things we use in fall decor can look heavy to the eye.  Pumpkins, sunflowers, hay bales, mums, hydrangeas:  They can all look bulky.  So I needed to be careful or I could cross that fine line between festive and foolish. 

Then she gave me a look that said “And get a move on, Auntie, it’s already October!”

Our little chat helped me choose this month’s theme:

Elegant Fall Decor

This year, I’m in the mood for something fun yet elegant.  This is what I found for inspiration.

Corn Stalk Wreath

Here corn stalks have been deconstructed and made into a whimsical wreath that would look good on any door.

Photo by Hymns & Verses

French Country Dining Room

Oui merci.  White pumpkins, candles, and hydrangeas give a relaxed, rustic vibe to this French-inspired dining room.  The simple linen tablecloth keeps the look balanced.

Photo by So Much Better With Age

Pumpkin Vignette

If the pumpkins below had been placed on a heavier table, the look might be clunky.  But by using a skinny metal table that blends with the wall behind it, we have a vignette that is airy yet still sets a fall mood.

Photo by Laurey Glenn Photography

 

Fall Porches

I found two gorgeous porches that offer endless inspiration.  I’m sharing one photo of each, but I encourage you to click through the links to see so much more.

  • Balanced Entry

White mums?  What a great idea.  Symmetry and a muted color palette keep this entrance tasteful.

Photo by Little White House Blog.

 

  • Rustic Lighting and Natural Materials

With the days getting shorter, its a fun idea to add a little extra lighting to a covered porch.  Swap the white pumpkins for other seasonal ornaments and this look will work for months.

Photo by Vin’yet Etc

Grassy Centerpiece

This gorgeous centerpiece uses grasses, fall wildflowers, and long-lasting greens.

I love how the grasses capture the natural light and add a soft texture to the arrangement.

Photo by Anna Shackleford

Little Details

It’s fun to combine tried-and-true pieces of fall decor with new items – or to put a new spin on the tried and true.

  • Faux Olive Branches

Kathy at A Delightsome Life has two tutorials for making these beautiful faux olive branches.  They are an airy complement to heavier fall decor.

Photo by A Delightsome Life

 

  • Gleaming Mini-Pumpkins

Seems I always have to go off in a different direction.  White pumpkins have been so popular, but last year I painted mini-pumpkins for a warm, metallic look that would last through Thanksgiving.  These were fun to scatter around my living room and use in table decor.

My Crocosmia Crush

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And I found inspiration from my most reliable source:  Mom.  Her crocosmia plants had multiplied over the past summer so she had to remove some.

Crocosmia seed heads are a nice accent in floral arrangements.  She offered me a handful of the plants she’d pulled out of the ground so I could use the seed heads.  The bulbs were still attached.

The bulbs and roots looked so interesting that I decided to use the whole plant as decor.

 

It was simple:  I filled a shallow clay pot with floral foam and then covered the foam with forest moss.  I inserted a small bamboo garden stake in the middle and then secured the crocosmia stalks to it with garden twine.

I love the look of the bulbs and winding roots.

I used some seed heads elsewhere.

Featured Etsy Artist

Fabric pumpkins are everywhere this year.  Some are better than others.

To me, these needle-felted pumpkins by ForestFindsbyCassidy look like tiny works of art.


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A Luxury Rug Pad for a Bargain Rug: Why It’s a Good Idea

You wouldn’t expect a piece of fitness equipment to come with an unhealthy odor but, a while back, I bought a new yoga mat that had such a strong chemical smell that I had to return it.

So when RugPadUSA.com asked me to review one of their eco-friendly rug pads, I thought it would be an interesting experiment.

Of course, to keep my review as accurate and impartial as possible, it was essential to shop for a new area rug to go with the new rug pad.  A sacrifice, I know, but one that I was willing to make for the sake of journalism.

The rug and pad would be going in the room where we do our morning yoga stretches. Because of the yoga, Will at RugPadUSA.com suggested I try the Superior Lock 1/4″ rug pad.  It has a natural rubber backing to keep the rug in place and a recycled felt core for comfort.

So let’s talk a little about my new rug and rug pad.

The Rug

I only buy inexpensive rugs because my cat, Priscilla, won’t let me have anything nice.  If you have a pet, I’m sure you can relate.

So I fell in love with a rug that I found at Ross.  At $49 for a 5 X 7 rug, it was a bargain.

Years ago, when I was on a budget and buying wall-to-wall carpeting for a basement, someone told me that it was okay for me to buy inexpensive carpeting as long as I upgraded the pad – because an upgraded pad would help the carpet wear better.

So I am going on the assumption that the same would apply to an area rug and a rug pad.

 

The Rug Pad

The Superior Lock 1/4″ rug pad arrived quickly and with minimal packaging.  And no chemical odor.  In fact, no smell at all that I could detect.

Rug pads are really nothing to look at, but I think this one, with its felt core, has the look of quality.

Superior Lock 1/4″ Rug Pad

So far, my experience with the rug pad has been positive.

Pros

  • No chemical smell.  And actually I learned that many rug pads sold in the big-box stores are made with PVC or plastic and could contain toxins.  The materials and chemicals in these rug pads could also harm floors and rugs.  Which leads me to:
  • My rug pad is made of natural rubber and recycled felt.  So it should not harm the floor, the rug, Priscilla, or her humans.
  • The pad is the exact dimension I need for the rug.  RugPadUSA.com custom cuts the pads at no additional cost.
  • When I do yoga stretches on the rug, the pad keeps it securely in place on the hardwood floors.
  • I feel that the thickness of the pad makes my bargain rug look and feel luxurious.
  • The rug pad has a 20-year warranty.
  • And it was made in the U.S.A.

Cons

  • The inevitable has happened.  The rug and pad have attracted the riff raff.

Actually, I can’t think of any disadvantage to this rug pad.  In my opinion, and for my needs, it’s a keeper.

 

A warm thank you to RugPadUSA.com for sponsoring this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.

 


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Our Kitchen Remodel Series
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Our Laundry Room Remodel


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Summer’s Last Dinner Party

Note:  I’m still redecorating My Sweet Cottage, so please pardon the dust!

Recently, we decided to invite a few friends over for dinner. We wanted to have one last party on our back patio before the weather changed.

But we didn’t stop to think about how early the sun goes down this late in summer.  The patio sits in the far corner of the garden, and there is no lighting there.  So once it got dark, candles alone would not be enough.  We had to set something up – quickly.

Desperation Lighting

If done right, outdoor lighting can be gorgeous.  I was inspired by the magical, romantic lighting at the garden concert we attended earlier in the summer.

The Nick Drummond Band during their “Under the Stars” concert.

But of course we didn’t have time for anything that elaborate. At this point, all I could hope for was lighting that was adequate but not glaring.

I had a strand of Edison-style filament bulbs that I use during the holidays.  We attached one end of the strand to a long bamboo pole. The pole was then anchored to a tree.

We ran the lights above the table.  On the other end, we attached the strand to a tree branch because that was our only option.

It wasn’t elegant, but it would get us through the night.

Heat

Once the sun goes down, so does the temperature.  So we made sure we had plenty of fuel for our heat lamp.

I momentarily considered setting out some blankets in case anyone got cold, but with the heat lamp it really wasn’t necessary.

Bug-Proofing

I used all the little bug-proofing tricks that I shared in this previous post.

The citronella centerpiece took me about 10 minutes to put together.  I set a tall glass candle holder in the center of a small clay saucer, filled the saucer with water, and added some leafy twigs from the garden.

It was compact enough for the small round table.  Flowers would have attracted bees, which is why I used only the fresh twigs to add some interest.

Little Touches

No matter how hard I try, by late summer my garden looks like an overgrown monster.  I used to let this keep me from entertaining, but I’ve come to realize that no one really minds the monster but me.

Still it’s nice to create a diversion.  Chris set up his mid-century bar across from the patio.  This was where the party would start.

 

I tossed a few blossoms into the bird bath,

Tucked a few citronella candles around the patio,

And we set up our iPod player for music.

As neglected as it was, the patio still had some charm.

 

 

Goodbye to Summer

Everything worked out.

Photo by Loralee Wenger

We were warm, the bugs stayed away, and we could see each other.

It’s raining today.  We really needed the rain, and I hear it’s going to stick around for a while.

But at least we enjoyed the last warm day of summer.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

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We used the Vickerman lights, which I love.  However the bulbs are glass, not plastic, and the filaments are delicate.   The globe string lights are perhaps sturdier, although I haven’t tried them. The heat lamp is very similar to ours.

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