From Ugly to Snuggly: Repurposing A Sweater Into Pillow Covers

All winter, we’ve been using our covered front porch as a safe place to visit with a few people at a time.  We also sometimes use it just for ourselves – to sip coffee or cocktails and feel like we are getting out of the house.  We fire up our small tabletop heat lamp and, if we have visitors, we bring out comfortable, appropriately distanced seating and a few small tables.

The bench is always on the porch, and during the holidays we had a couple of festive throw pillows on it.

The large pillow is actually from our sofa, so I didn’t want to keep it outside indefinitely.  And it was time to change the look.  I wanted comfy, warm-looking pillows that could transition from winter to early spring.

I wanted to make pillow covers that looked knitted.  I’d been meaning to find a used sweater to repurpose, but I ended up using this sweater – which was on clearance for $12 at a local chain store.

In the title, I referred to it as ugly, but that wasn’t fair.  It would look nice on the right person, it’s simply not my style.

But style is not why I bought it.  I chose it for the texture and also for the blocks of color.

 

Creating The Pillow Covers

I started by ripping all the seams of the sweater apart and placing the fabric flat so I could see what I was working with.

I cut two 17-inch squares from the sweater pieces and stitched them on to cotton muslin squares cut to the same size.  The muslin served as a lining for the sweater squares.  It stabilized the knit fabric and gave it some heft and support.

Once the two sweater squares were lined with the muslin, I used them to sew a simple pillow cover for a 16-inch pillow.

Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned

I had enough scraps left to cover a small rectangular pillow, but this time I didn’t take the step of attaching the sweater fabric to a muslin lining first.

This was a mistake, and this pillow cover doesn’t look as good as the first one.  I learned that the lining really does matter when working with a knit sweater fabric.

 

But what about the sleeves?  I saved the sleeves of the sweater, and I’m going use them to make wine gift bags.

Snuggly Pillow Covers At Last

The pillows help my front porch decor make the leap from holiday to winter and early spring.

I have a variety of looks now – not only with color combinations but also with texture since I intentionally used some of the sweater fabric inside-out.

 

 

 

The Promise Of Spring

I’ve decided that paperwhites are not just for the holidays.  The bulbs are sprouting well under the protection of our porch, so now they serve as an optimistic little reminder that spring is just around the corner.

A New Porch Goodie

One thing I gave Chris for Christmas is this little Sanag Portable Bluetooth Speaker.

It makes our porch visits more festive, and I’m looking forward to using it on our back patio and on camping trips as well.

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

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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

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An Easy DIY Lemon Cypress Wreath

Ever since I made my all-natural, fully compostable fall wreath last year, I’ve been sold on making simple hand-formed wreaths using natural ingredients from my own garden.

They are surprisingly easy to make, and recently I made a winter wreath using this technique.

A DIY Lemon Cypress Wreath

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For my wreaths, I just use trimmings from my garden – plants and vines that I am cutting back anyway.

The Foundation

I still had a few grapevines in my garden that needed pruning.  Most of the vines were a bit brittle by this point, but I found a few bendable ones.

So I simply cut the vines to length and carefully bent and wrapped them together, winding them around one another, to make a wreath form.  I tucked the ends in around the vines as I worked to make sure everything was secure.

It didn’t look perfect, but it didn’t have to.  This would just be the wreath’s foundation.

Note:  For those who don’t have grapevines or other suitable vines to work with, pre-made grapevine wreaths are easy to find and relatively inexpensive.

 

The Main Attraction

We have a large lemon cypress (or goldcrest) shrub in our yard.  It started out as a little accent plant in a pot on our patio, and I originally chose it for its lovely, groomed shape, its lemony fragrance, and for its fresh, vibrant shade of green.  I always make sure to have a couple of these beauties in pots on our porch.

Fresh colors really pop against our charcoal-colored door, and this plant needed trimming anyway.  So I saved a small branch for this project.

I cut sprigs of the lemon cypress to the length I wanted and then, starting at the top of the wreath and working my way down one side, I just wedged the ends between the grapevines until they seemed secure. No wires were needed.

If a sprig failed to secure, or if it didn’t look right, I just used a different one.  When I had that side done, I started at the top of the other side and worked my way down.

The lemon cypress draped nicely and was easy to work with.  Soon I had the wreath form filled.  I gave it a few shakes to make sure everything was secure.

I was tempted to leave it just like this:  Understated and all-natural.  But it did need a little something.

 

Accent Pieces

I’ve learned from experience that natural winter berries, at least the ones that I grow in my garden, don’t look good for long.  So I did add one man-made element, which I already had on hand:  Faux berries.

The faux berries are on wired sprigs, but I just covered the wires as best I could with the cypress greenery.

I tried adding a bow and a few other decor pieces, but they just didn’t look right.  Sometimes simpler is better and, since the berries are slightly over-sized for the wreath, they make enough of an impact on their own.

 

Some of the grapevine foundation is still showing in places, and that’s okay.  Unlike a wire wreath form, the grapevines add a rustic interest.

I think the snappy green of the lemon cypress is a fun departure from traditional holiday greens.  This wreath cost me nothing to make, and making it only took about an hour of my time.

Once the season changes, I can easily remove the berry sprigs and then toss this wreath straight into the yard waste  bin.

Here I must admit two things:

One, since I’ve never used lemon cypress in a wreath before, I have no idea how long it will look good.  I will probably mist it from time to time.  My hope is that it will last at least through Christmas.

And two, our front door is in a protected area.  A wreath like this in a different, more weather-exposed environment, may not hold up as well.

More Fun With Wreaths and Lemon Cypress

It’s fun to use old wreaths in new ways.  A few years ago, before I started making wireless wreaths, I made this wreath from birch twigs.

Recently, I trimmed that wreath down to make it more compact.  I used it, along with lemon cypress cuttings and fresh berry sprigs, to create this very simple and natural look for the pillar near our back door.

 

 

Finding Lemon Cypress

Lemon cypress trees can usually be found at better nurseries and garden centers – and from various online sellers, including some on Amazon and Etsy.

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

 

BROWSE MY COLLECTION OF PANDEMIC STOCKING STUFFERS

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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Personalize Your Home With These Brilliant Interior Tricks And Tips

Many of us are spending more time at home these days, so today I’m happy to share this guest post with some lovely tips for beautifying and personalizing our homes.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Personalize Your Home With These Brilliant Interior Tricks And Tips

When you live in a home, you want to make it feel as personal as possible. After all, it’s where you spend most of your time, especially during the present crisis. 

But what if you look at the four walls of your abode and get the sense that it is not a reflection of who you really are?  What can you do to fight back and make your property feel more like yours?

Here are some ideas to get you started. 

1.  Add A Pleasant Scent

 

There’s no denying that many of us react strongly to certain scents. When we detect a familiar fragrance, it suddenly transports us to a different place, and we feel refreshed.

That’s why we need to add pleasant fragrances to our homes. 

Your options here are almost endless. You could go for the subtle scent of potpourri, or you could fill your diffuser with essential oils. 

Whichever you choose, try to go for fragrances that remind you of home. Think about the scents that you enjoyed in your childhood.  Familiar scents might include lavender, sandalwood, or beech.  Or the scents of warming spices like cloves and nutmeg.

If you have a penchant for essential oils, you could also experiment with stronger fragrances. Peppermint, for instance, is distinct and helps you relax and unwind after a long day. 

2.   Personalize Your Furniture

Generic furniture is affordable and often high quality. But it doesn’t always feel like yours. Your home can often start resembling something out of a magazine instead of an environment that reflects your character. And that can be a little soul-destroying. 

So what can you do about it? 

One option is to start personalizing your furniture and making it your own. 

The easiest option is reupholstering. You just select a suitable fabric and then get a reupholstering service to fit it to your sofas and chairs. 

If you love DIY, then you can get creative and take things much further. And upcycling old pieces of furniture allows you to stamp your mark on them and make them feel more personal. 

3.  Soften Harsh Lines

Straight lines can make a property feel clinical and formal, but there are several ways to remedy this. One is to add more soft furnishings, like throws and cushions. Another is to disrupt some of the straight lines by hanging wall art or adding more sideboards to your rooms.

Play around with furniture placement.  If you have space, you might want to add a round rug to your living room and place furniture on it. Placing furniture pieces in the center of the room on something round can dramatically change how the room feels. 

4.  Add Heirlooms And Memorials

Don’t just put your heirlooms and memorials in a box in the attic and forget about them. Instead, leverage them to make your house feel more like home. 

Memorial and keepsake stone rocks can have a profound influence on how you feel about your house. They remind you of the connections that you have with the people in your life. And they help to stamp your mark on your interiors. Your rooms no longer look like something you would see in a magazine. Instead, they’re personal and reflect your values. 

5.  Put Colorful Plants Everywhere

Research suggests that people react positively to plants in their environment. The more of them that we have, the better we feel. 

Adding plants and color makes a home feel more inviting.  Start in the bathroom. Choose species that don’t require a considerable amount of natural light, as these will tend to thrive the most. 

Once you’ve done that, begin adding plants to your hallways and living spaces. Put them in the kitchen to brighten up the countertops and make them appear friendlier.  You could also try growing herbs in your kitchen so you can have fresh herbs readily available for cooking.

6.  Improve Your Seating Arrangements

Seating arrangements can make a room feel static, or it can make a room feel dynamic and interesting.  Think about how most people arrange their seating. More often than not, they push the furniture up against the walls, dominating the room. 

That’s not what you want. If your living room is only large enough to accommodate a single two-seater sofa, then limit yourself to that. Place it on a rug in the middle of the room and allow it to become a focal point. Don’t let your furniture dominate the size of the room. Let the room’s size determine the kind of seating you put in it. 

7.  Add Flashes Of Color

Neutral homes are good for making you feel relaxed and keeping things simple. But there is currently so much use of beige, white, and cream in interiors that using these colors can make your home feel impersonal – and just like everyone else’s.  

Fortunately, you can fight back against this by adding pops of color to your living and dining areas. 

Try painting the wall on the opposite side of your front door an accent color. If the rest of your property is neutral, try adding black. The interior will immediately feel more personal to you. There will be an edginess and sophistication about it that wasn’t there before. 

So, how will you make your home feel more personal?

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

BROWSE MY COLLECTION OF PANDEMIC STOCKING STUFFERS

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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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Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
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Garden Design
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Two Easy Black and White Projects

Black and white is a timeless color combination.  And because it serves as a neutral base for other colors, it works almost anywhere.

Earlier in fall, I finished a couple of small sewing projects that involved black and white fabrics.

Project 1:  An Easy DIY Dining Chair Upgrade

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Recently we bought a beautiful antique dining table and chairs from a friend who was moving.  This craftsman-era set is in wonderful condition and had been in our friend’s family for generations.

Craftsman dining set

The set has six chairs – all of which have the original leather seats. The leather is probably over 100 years old, so the seats all have a lovely vintage patina.

Craftsman dining chair

But they don’t have much padding, and it doesn’t take long for them to become uncomfortable.

There is a way to go in underneath each chair seat and add some padding to the middle, but it would hardly be worth the work – or the risk of damaging the leather.

Topping them with cushions was the best option, but I could not find pre-made cushions that would fit these chairs.

So I decided to make my own.

 

Choosing the Fabric

We don’t have any Western decor in our home, so cowhide is not a fabric that I would normally consider.

But by accident, I happened to notice how nice an animal print fabric would look with the old leather of these chair seats.  So, rather than looking Western, I was hoping that the cowhide would enhance the rustic craftsman-era look of the chairs.

For several reasons, I wanted to use faux cowhide instead of the real thing.  The local fabric store didn’t have what I had in mind, so I ended up buying this suede velvet cow print through a vendor on Amazon.

Faux cowhide fabric

It looked authentic enough to me.  It was soft and had a nice texture, and it was easy to work with.

Choosing And Cutting The Foam

I figured if I was going to upgrade these chairs, I might as well go for maximum comfort.  So I used two-inch thick high-density foam cushion squares similar to these.

The chair seats are not a true square.  They taper in gradually towards the back.  So, I made a cardboard template and traced it onto the each foam square.

Then I cut the foam using an electric knife.

My electric knife is very old, but it’s similar to this one.

Sewing The Cushions

I sewed simple cushion covers with box corners.  I did this so that the fabric pattern would continue down the sides of the cushions without being interrupted by a seam.

So, the only visible seams are in the corners.   For the bottoms of the cushions, I used a felt fabric that I had on hand.  (Whenever I can, I like to try to use up what I already have.)

A corner and the bottom of the cushion.

Corner Straps

So that the cushions don’t slide around on the chair seats, I sewed small faux-leather straps into the two back corners of each cushion.  They wrap around the chair backs and adhere together with Velcro.

By hand, I baste stitched each cushion cover closed in the back where my stitching would not be visible.  The stitching will be easy to remove if I ever want to replace the cushion covers.

 

The Result

The chairs are much more comfortable now.

Craftsman dining chair with faux cowhide cushion

And the original leather remains intact.

There is a slight bevel around the edge of each leather chair seat, and I wanted that bevel to remain visible to show the contrast between the leather and the cowhide.

The fabric has a large pattern repeat, so each cushion is a little different.

Craftsman dining chairs with faux cowhide cushions

It’s fun to mix the rustic cowhide look with vintage linen and fine china.

And the cushions work with my new buffalo plaid tablecloth – a little gift I bought for our new table.

I became enamored  with the black and white buffalo plaid tablecloths that I saw at a home decor shop.  They were a fun look for fall and were reasonably priced – and the fabric was good quality.

None of them were the right size for the big square table, but it occurred to me that it would be less expensive to buy one anyway and alter it to fit the table than it would be to buy fabric of that quality at the fabric store.  And this way I would be getting exactly what I wanted.

And since I would be firing up my sewing machine anyway, I bought a second tablecloth for another project.

Which leads me to:

Project 2:  New Greenhouse Shades

Yes, I would be cutting up a large tablecloth and using the fabric to make shades for my greenhouse!

For several years, I’d had these cute DIY burlap shades in our greenhouse.

Sunglo Greenhouse

I loved them.  But they were in the greenhouse year round, and they were starting to show some wear.

It did not occur to me when I made the shades that I might want to wash them from time to time.  And machine washing burlap can be a tricky business.

But the tablecloth, on the other hand, was machine washable.  It was made of good quality home decor fabric that hopefully will hold up nicely in the greenhouse.

So I removed the burlap shades (which, since they were natural burlap and therefore compostable, I could put in my yard waste bin).

Then I deep cleaned the interior of our greenhouse.  I’m talking the entire interior, from the floor to the acrylic panels and everything in between.  I try to do this every year in early fall.

Sunglo greenhouse

 

Now the greenhouse was ready for the new buffalo plaid shades.

The shades were easy to make.  I just cut the tablecloth into the rectangular panels that I needed and then hemmed them.

Sunglo greenhouse

 

In the greenhouse, they are attached to a thin cable by clothespins – making it super easy for me to remove them when I want to wash them.

Sunglo greenhouse

 

These photos were taken a couple of months ago – right after my greenhouse deep clean.  Now the greenhouse is jam packed with plants that I am overwintering.

The buffalo plaid is a big change from the burlap, and in truth it took me a while to get used to the new shades. But now I love them.  And of course the plants are enjoying the filtered light that they provide.

Christmas decor is the focus now, so the tablecloths I found aren’t in the shop anymore.  But there are many options for black and white buffalo plaid tablecloths on Amazon.

To see more greenhouses like ours, check out the Sunglo Greenhouses website.

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

BROWSE MY COLLECTION OF PANDEMIC STOCKING STUFFERS

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
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Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
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Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

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How To Beautifully Decorate Your Porch

Lately I’ve been focused on reworking our front porch so that we can better use the space to safely and comfortably visit with friends during the upcoming holiday season.  So the timing could not be better for this guest post, which reminded me of a few easy things we can all do to beautify our porches.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

How To Beautifully Decorate Your Porch

Your porch is the first impression that visitors get of your home.  It has the potential to set the design tone for the rest of your house.  But even more than that, it is an extension of your home – a bonus space that you can utilize for storage, outdoor activities, socializing and relaxation.

Here are three quick and easy ways to beautify your porch.

1.  Add Seating

You might picture an old farmer sitting on the porch with a hay strand sticking out the side of his mouth but, in actual fact, porch chairs are a lovely addition to your home. Unless your porch is enclosed, you should invest in weather-proof chairs like a plastic adirondack chair which will brave all the elements. In addition, you can cover the chairs with decorative or protective covers to add color and style to the furniture. 

A chair on your porch means you can sit and take in the world as it goes by. Or you can visit with friends in the fresh air.  A porch chair is relaxing, functional and decorative too. 

2.  Incorporate Plants

Another way to make your porch more beautiful is to add plants. If your porch is enclosed and/or protected by glass, you can find stunning house plants which love to soak up the sun. If your porch is exposed to the elements, you could add hanging baskets of flowers, or small shrubs or potted trees in  attractive containers, to your porch space. 

Either way, a splash of green adds vitality to the porch, making it a refreshing, welcoming space for all who visit. 

Some house plants that love sun and are easy to maintain are: 

  • Golden pothos. The beautiful leafy tendrils of golden pothos are hard to kill – and it grows at rapid speed!
  • Cacti. Cacti are easy to maintain, virtually unkillable and funky to look at. If it can survive the desert, it can survive the porch. 
  • Fiddle leaf fig trees.   These trees are a very popular choice at the moment.  They can be bought as young trees or as full sized ones; outdoors in warm climates or indoors in any climate, these stunning plants bring any room to life.

But remember that not all plants survive in all outdoor areas.  If your porch is not enclosed, check before buying a plant to make sure it will survive, and thrive, in your planting zone.

3.  Add Color

A splash of bright color is bound to make your entryway space come to life. You could invest in a rug made of recycled plastics which is environmentally friendly, gorgeous to look at, and easy to clean.

Alternatively, an enclosed porch could benefit from tasteful artwork or a wall hanging that takes it from a bland entryway to a stylish part of your home you can be proud of. Adding color to a particularly neutral, bland space in your home can transform it for the better, and what’s more, this can be achieved relatively cheaply without any stress or hassle!

In conclusion, your porch isn’t just a neutral place you bypass on your way into your house. The porch can be a beautiful, welcome entry to your home with these simple steps!

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

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
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Two Projects With One Pumpkin

I recently bought a few pumpkins for our front porch.  One of them was this white pumpkin.

white pumpkin

I wanted to use it to create a succulent planter.  But then I noticed that part of it had a funny little “grumpy face” look that I wanted to do something with.

So I figured out a way to do both.

 

A Pumpkin Succulent Planter

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Pumpkin succulent planters are fun and easy to make.

And I had garden succulents that needed dividing anyway.  This pretty plant, which I believe might be an Echeveria ‘Imbricata,” bloomed so nicely over the summer.

Echeveria 'Imbricata'

But now this “hen” plant was being crowded in the pot by the smaller “chicks” she had since produced.  So I just clipped away the smaller plants, making sure to also take as much stem as possible.

Some of the stems even had little roots on them.

And then I carefully pulled off any dead leaves.

Echeveria 'Imbricata'
Dead leaves have been removed from the cutting on the left.

I had cut the top off of the pumpkin, hollowed it out to about a one-inch thickness, and poked a few drain holes in the bottom.

I filled the pumpkin with moist potting soil, and then I simply poked the succulents into the soil.

It was a lot like creating a floral arrangement.  I used a different variety, a longer-stemmed succulent cutting, in the middle to add some height.

Pumpkin succulent planter

 

Pumpkin succulent planter

The pumpkin probably won’t last long.  They never do.  But once the pumpkin is past its prime, I will re-pot each succulent cutting into individual 4-inch pots and, since they are not winter-hardy in my climate, put them in my greenhouse to overwinter.  Once in soil, they take root pretty easily.

I do this every year with these succulents anyway, but this year they just made a pit stop along the way to this pumpkin planter.

 

A Grumpy Face

The grumpy face that I mentioned having seen in the pumpkin was actually on the top – the part that I cut off when I made the planter.  The stem was the nose.  So, instead of discarding the pumpkin top, I just propped it vertically and gave it a little makeup.

Pumpkin halloween projects

 

And hair.

Live Spanish moss

For the hair, I used my live Spanish moss.  It had spent the summer hanging from branches on the front porch.  I bring the moss indoors in winter, but it should be okay on the covered porch for now.  I secured the moss to Grumpy Lady by tying it in the bow and then using a safety pin to attach the bow to Grumpy Lady.

I put plastic wrap on the back of the pumpkin top in hopes that it will stay fresh longer.

So, Grumpy Lady now sits in a pot in the corner of the porch waiting to be noticed.

And she’s not happy about it!

Resources:

I really enjoy my live Spanish moss.  It requires a little care, but it is so fun to use in floral projects like this one.   Live Spanish moss can be found at better nurseries and also on Amazon.

To see plants similar to my hen-and-chicks-type succulent, check out these beauties on Etsy.

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

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

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How To Turn Your Garden Into An Outdoor Oasis

This summer, the garden has been our go-to safe place for visiting with family and friends – and it has become a quiet oasis from the cares of the world.  I’m sure that many people are appreciating their gardens now more than ever, so today I’m pleased to share this guest post with helpful hints on transforming your garden into an enjoyable outdoor space.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

How To Turn Your Garden Into An Outdoor Oasis

There’s nothing like spending an afternoon in the garden when the sun is shining and the birds are singing. If you’re looking to make the most of your outdoor space, and you need a little help or inspiration to turn your garden into a tranquil oasis, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some tips and tricks to create your own slice of paradise. 

Clearing Up And Basic Maintenance

Before you can start reaping the rewards of a stunning, serene garden, it’s essential to tackle the jobs we tend to put off. If you leave your garden for days or weeks without tending to flower beds or clearing away debris, it can quickly become messy and unkempt. Try to keep on top of tasks like getting rid of leaves and weeding, as this will save you time and effort in the long-run. If you’re starting out on a new and improved garden project, the first step is to arm yourself with a trowel, a rake and some trash bags and clear up. Once you’ve tidied up your garden, it will be a lot easier to keep it looking smart, and you’ll also be able to visualize ideas and design concepts. 

Getting Rid of Unwanted Visitors

Nothing spoils a restful day in the garden like unwanted visitors in the form of garden pests. They can be a problem for homeowners and keen gardeners, and it’s always wise to take action swiftly if you do spot signs of an infestation, or you’re worried that you might have attracted hungry passers-by. Look for signs both inside and outside of the property, and seek advice if you’re worried about bees, wasps, flies, rats, mice, cockroaches or mosquitoes. Pest experts like Mosquito Authority can provide treatments to combat existing problems, as well as offering advice to help you prevent issues in the future. Once your garden is pest-free, you can enjoy the peace and quiet with no unexpected interruptions. 

Seating And Chill-Out Zones

Whether you enjoy a glass of wine at the end of a busy day at work, or you try to spend as much time in the outdoors as possible, it’s always beneficial to have a comfortable spot to take in the views and unwind. There are myriad seating options to choose from for your garden, and you can buy products based on your style and taste, your budget and the amount of space you have available. If you have an entertaining area, or you have a patio or a deck, you could browse sofa sets or invest in a table and chairs. If you’re after something a little more casual or informal, you can create a chill-out zone with beanbags, oversized floor cushions, blankets, throws and lanterns.

You could also use benches and picnic tables to channel a rustic vibe, scatter sun loungers around a pool for a resort-style aesthetic or hang hammocks between trees for an exotic feel. If you have children or grandchildren, it’s a good idea to section off parts of the garden so that you have spaces for fun and games as well as adult-friendly zones where you can embrace the serenity. 

Plants And Flowers

Plants and flowers can have an incredible impact on the aesthetic of your garden, but they also play an instrumental role in promoting calm and helping you to feel relaxed. Some scents and aromas are known to soothe, while others can make you feel more positive and energized. Choose scents that you love and think about how you want to feel when you’re sitting out in the garden or kicking back in your hammock or swing seat after a busy day. Lavender and chamomile have a calming influence, peppermint can help to lower stress levels and yarrow can ease anxiety. 

Water Features

Water features can provide a stunning focal point in any garden, but they’re also renowned for their calming impact. The sound of running water tends to make us feel more relaxed, and it can be satisfying to sit or lie in the garden listening to water splashing or trickling.

There are all kinds of options available, and you don’t need to have a huge garden to install a water feature. You can choose anything from ponds and waterfalls to classic, decorative fountains and ultra-modern wall-mounted or freestanding water features. You can make a statement in a compact yard, a family-friendly space or a sprawling country garden. 

Lighting

Outdoor lighting enables us to spend evenings outside and enjoy al fresco dining, but it also creates a lovely, romantic, relaxing atmosphere. Depending on the style of your garden, you can use up-lighters, wall lights, string lights, lanterns and sunken lightning for decking and walkways to illuminate the space and create a cozy, intimate feel. 

Privacy

If you don’t live in a rural area, you might have concerns about your neighbors or passers-by being able to see into your garden. If you would like your outdoor space to be more private, there are solutions. You can look into installing fencing or planting trees, or you could put screens up to create private areas where you can sit back and soak up the tranquility. Bamboo and reed screens are very popular, as they are inexpensive, they have a lovely, natural aesthetic, and they are versatile. If you have a hot tub, or you’d like to be able to sunbathe without worrying about anyone else seeing you, it’s worth looking at gazebos and awnings.

Do you long to enjoy blissfully peaceful afternoons or evenings in the garden? If so, it is possible to turn your yard into an outdoor oasis. Start by clearing up and tidying and getting rid of pests. Once these jobs are completed, you can focus on enhancing the beauty of your garden and creating a relaxing, soothing atmosphere. Search for plants and flowers that have a calming effect, set aside comfortable, cozy areas to sit or lie down, use water features to create a focal point and aid relaxation, opt for soft, romantic lighting and use screens, trees, bushes and fencing to add privacy.

 

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

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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Exploring

A DIY All-Natural, Guilt-Free Fall Wreath

Fall is just around the corner, and if you have a garden you know what that means:  Fall garden cleanup!   But why not make it fun?  Today I’m sharing an amazingly simple wreath that I made last year using garden clippings that would otherwise have gone into the compost bin.

The wreath didn’t cost anything to make.  I also didn’t need to use wires, cages, or any other man-made materials so, once the season was over, the entire wreath could be composted.

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Creating The Wreath

I’d been meaning to get rid of an overly-ambitious grape plant that I’d placed along a fence.  The fence was not enough structure for the rambling beast to climb on, so I needed to prune the beast back several times every summer.

But then I saw some beautiful DIY grapevine wreaths on Instagram.  Since I had plenty of grapevines, I decided to try making my own.

And it was so simple.

 

Start With Green Vines

I used freshly cut vines that were still green and pliable.

After removing the larger leaves from the vines, I started by wrapping two vines around each other.

And then carefully forming them into the shape of the wreath.  I just kind of wove the ends around each other and tucked them in to secure them.

Then I wrapped in more vines, one by one, making sure to wrap them around any loose ends that needed to be secured so that the wreath wouldn’t unravel.  To make sure they didn’t snap, I tried not to force the vines or wrap them too tightly.

They were fun to work with.  The tendrils gave the wreath a lot of personality.

 

 

I made two of these basic wreath forms and gave one to a friend.

DIY Grapevine wreaths

I put the second one in my greenhouse for a few days until it dried.

What if I didn’t have grapevines to work with?  I’ve been meaning to experiment with other safe, non-toxic green, flexible vines and twigs.  This year I’m going to try making a wreath with the long branches of my butterfly bush – while they are still green and pliable of course.

Add Accent Foliage

The wreath form had dried to a mellow brown color and was very solid.

By then it was time to prune my hydrangeas, so I cut several hydrangea flowers on long green stems and wound those stems through the gravevine wreath – again using no wires.

The photo below shows the back of the wreath, and you can see the green hydrangea stems winding through the wreath.

DIY Grapevine wreaths

I shook the wreath a few times to make sure everything was secure.

I hung the wreath on the door, and the hydrangeas gradually dried on their own.  I’m not sure if every variety of hydrangea would dry so nicely, but I was lucky with this one.

 

The Result

The wreath looked nice and fresh for weeks.

DIY Grapevine wreaths

 

DIY Grapevine wreaths

Turns out that stupid grape plant has value after all.  So it gets to stay.

 

A Holiday Wreath

I could have simply tossed the wreath into the compost bin once the season changed.  But it was still pretty solid.  I was feeling too lazy to create a holiday wreath from scratch, so I just removed the hydrangeas and re-decorated it for Christmas.

For the holiday version, I used Deodar cedar twigs that I’d found on a walk. The long, flexible twigs worked well to wind around the grapevines.

DIY holiday wreaths

 

But I cheated this time and added wired pine cone springs (which helped secure the cedar sprigs) and a few other man-made materials that I already had on hand.

Not the best Christmas wreath I’ve ever made, but I went with it anyway.

DIY holiday wreaths

You can’t really see the grapevines, but they are under there!

Wreaths are so fun and easy to make.  If you love experimenting with them, check out some of my other wreaths – like my hoppy harvest wreath, my foraged wreath, and the wreath that the storm blew in.

 

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

 

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 

 

 

 

 

A DIY Old-World Concrete Garden Trough

I love anything that has an “old-world” look, and I’ve always admired the ancient-looking concrete water troughs that I’ve seen around Europe.  Many of them have been converted into garden art or planters that grace the gardens and town squares of quaint villages.

But, around here, concrete troughs usually have three significant disadvantages:  They are hard to find, they’re expensive, and they are very heavy.

So today, I’m sharing how I recently made my very own “old-world,” lightweight(ish) concrete trough.

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Starting With A Styrofoam Box

This project is not my brainchild.  I found the method years ago in a magazine – most likely Better Homes and Gardens or Martha Stewart Living.

What I loved about it was that these concrete-wrapped Styrofoam planters were lighter than similar planters made entirely out of concrete.  And it seemed like a great way to repurpose a Styrofoam container.

Back when I first came across the magazine article, I tried the method using a small rectangular Styrofoam box.  After many years, that smaller concrete planter is still holding up very well (although it’s actually too small to be of any practical use and has been relegated to the no-man’s-land behind the garage).

For this recent project, though, I used a much larger Styrofoam shipping box that had been taking up space in our basement for some time.  I’d been saving it because, measuring at 32″ X 13″ X 10″, it was just the right size to serve as the inner core for a small concrete trough.

But it was significantly larger than any of the examples I remembered seeing in the magazine article.

Would the method from the magazine work on such a large piece of Styrofoam?  I was going to find out.

The first step was to clean my Styrofoam container and pull off the strips of tape stuck to it.

Making Drain Holes

Since this cement trough would be used as a planter, I needed to put a couple of drain holes in the bottom.

Wrapping the Styrofoam Box With Wire Mesh

The next part was the hardest and most unpleasant part:  Wrapping the Styrofoam box with wire mesh.

I used galvanized, 23-gauge wire mesh (also known as hardware cloth) with 1/4 inch squares, similar to this product.

Galvanized wire mesh

Wearing heavy work gloves and long sleeves, I cut it to the sizes I needed with tin snips,

And then formed it as tightly as I could against the box, at times pounding it lightly into place with a rubber mallet,

And sometimes using a little wire to loop through and hold two adjoining sections together.

I did my best to make sure that any sharp edges were pointing inward.  I covered the entire box with wire mesh, lining the inside walls with it as well.

This all took a lot of time and, despite all my precautions, the wire did bite me a few times.

 

Covering The Wire Mesh With Concrete

I don’t remember exactly which concrete mix the magazine article recommended.  I chose to use Quikrete Sand/Topping Mix.  It’s actually meant to be used as a base for laying pavers or patching steps and walkways.  What I like about is that, when mixed with water, it has a smooth consistency.  It is for projects that will be under two inches (but not less than a half-inch) thick.  (For projects under one inch thick, it’s recommended to replace some of the mixing water with Quikrete Concrete Acrylic Fortifier.)

Wearing gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask, I just mixed small batches by hand (more on that below).

I wanted the trough to have a bit of an old-world patina, so I stirred a few drops of the Charcoal Quikrete Liquid Cement Color into the water that I used to mix the concrete.

The mixture looked darker when it was moist.

I applied it to the Styrofoam box with a trowel, making sure to press it firmly through the wire mesh and then cover the mesh completely.  I smoothed it as much as I could with the trowel.

Then I used a small whisk broom to level the concrete.

I followed that up by smoothing the concrete with a large drywall knife (because it’s what I had on hand), and it worked well.

But I was not going for perfection.  I wanted it to look a little rustic and handmade.

So why did I need to work in small batches?  Because the topping mix that I used can only successfully be applied to horizontal surfaces.  So, I could only do two “sides” at a time:  Whichever two sides were sitting horizontally.  And then that needed to sit in place and dry before I could reposition the trough to work on two more sides.

Needless to say, this project took me a few days to complete although, once I had my stride, it was only about a half hour of active time each day.  I covered the entire box, inside and out, with concrete.

At times, the project got messy and seemed to be spiraling out of control.

The bottom of the trough after cement was applied.

I was wondering if it would even hold up.

But it all worked out in the end.

 

The Result – And A Problem Solved

This new “old-world” trough helped me get a handle on the long-neglected herb container garden behind my greenhouse.

Before: The chaos of my old herb garden.

Many of the herbs had outgrown their containers or weren’t getting sufficient water.  I moved the larger herbs out of pots and planted them elsewhere in the garden. Then I cleaned up with area a little, and my husband Chris and I leveled a new spot for the trough.

And then Chris moved the trough into the area we’d prepared.  He was able to pick up and carry the trough to its new location by himself.  Had it been a solid concrete trough, there is no way he could have done that.

Once in place, we found we still needed to do a little work to the area.  I was able to tip the trough on its end to get it out of the way and then muscle it back into place by myself.

It’s not super lightweight, but it is lighter than it looks.

 

DIY concrete garden trough

My cement work is not perfect, and the color isn’t completely consistent.  But, to me, these quirks give it a bit of character.  I am hoping that it develops even more of an old-world patina over time.

DIY concrete garden trough
After: A little order in the herb garden.

 

DIY Concrete garden trough

 

Different herbs need different soil conditions and moisture.  The herbs I chose for the trough all do well in rich, moist soil.

DIY concrete garden trough

From left to right, the herbs I planted are:  Chives, tarragon, cilantro, Thai basil, and Italian parsley.

How long will this trough hold up?  Only time will tell.  I will count myself lucky if it lasts as long as the first, much smaller piece that I made using this technique.

The good news is that (although I would not advise trying this) just yesterday Chris briefly stood on the rim of the trough to reach something on the top of the greenhouse.

And the trough held up!

 

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

 

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series