5 Budget-Friendly Ways To Make Your Home Look And Feel Fantastic

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

If you want to make your home look great, but you don’t want to break the bank, then you have come to the right place. This post will touch on some of the ways to keep your home looking and feeling its best.

1.  Declutter

Decluttering may seem like the obvious thing to do but, more often than not, people hang onto objects they don’t need without even realizing it. If decluttering your home seems overwhelming, start out with smaller areas, such as your cupboard or even your sideboard. You can then work your way up to doing the full room. Make sure that your kids’ toys are all stored away in boxes, and group things into different bags too. It may be that you have one bag for recycling, another for charity, and then one more to pass down to family members. Decluttering can make a huge difference in how you feel about your home.

2.  Try Out A New Scent

A new perfume can really lift your spirits, but did you know that scenting your home with a candle or even a diffuser can work wonders for you as well? The right scent can make your home feel calmer or more energized  If you want, you can group some candles together as a colorful centerpiece for your table. A new scent will help you to make your space feel extra beautiful and homey.

3.  Pressure Washing Is Your Friend

Pressure washing your home’s exterior features is one of the best ways to give your home better street appeal and a fresh and tidy look. You may even find that it helps to add value to your home. Pressure washing works on stonework, decking, or even paving. And it’s never been easier for you to hire someone online to do high pressure washing for you.

4.  Style Your Coffee Table

If your coffee table is cluttered with paperwork or a mountain of remote controls, then why not think about styling it instead? Pick up a pile of hardback books from the thrift store and display them on your table. Use a nice, round tray and then fill it with candles or small decor accents. Flower-filled vases are also ideal here.

When styling your coffee table, it helps to remember to . . .

5.  Display Items in Threes

Done properly, displaying items in groups of three (or sometimes five) helps them to look like carefully curated decor items.  It’s fun to play around with this concept.  For example, try using vases in different shapes and colors. Or keep the look monochromatic by using objects of the same color but in varying heights and shapes.  

These five tips are just a few of the easy ways to make a huge difference in the look and feel of your home.  

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

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Gifts For Gardeners

With gardening season upon us and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day quickly approaching, this is an excellent time to think about gifts for the gardeners in our lives.

Below is a little round up of gifts, from practical to fun, that gardeners might enjoy.

This post contains affiliate links.  For more on my affiliate links, please see this page.

Keeping Tools Sharp

Cutting tools like shears and clippers are very important in gardening.  A dull cutting tool can make a project much harder than it needs to be.  That is where a good blade sharpener can come in handy.

 

SHARPAL multi sharpener

A Lightweight Blower

Keeping walkways and patios clean can be a big job with just a broom.  But some blowers can be heavy and cumbersome to use.  I was gifted this lightweight Ryobi One cordless leaf blower a few years ago, and now I don’t know what I’d do without it.

 

Fabric Grow Bags

Recently, I’ve become intrigued with fabric grow bags. They are available in varying sizes, and I plan to try out a couple of large grow bags this summer for tomatoes and pumpkins. They aren’t much to look at, but they are said to help plants grow healthy root systems.  And they store flat when not in use.

Oppolite 20-gallon grow bag

A Tool To Keep Gardening

For the gardener who has a few aches and pains but doesn’t want that to limit their time in the garden, a garden kneeler and stool can be exactly what they need to keep doing what they love.

 

Outdoor Entertaining

When it’s time to host those summer garden gatherings, a practical and well-appointed bar cart can be very useful.

EROMMY outdoor wicker bar cart

Herb Garden

Herb gardens can be as attractive as they are practical.  And they get bonus points if they are easy to use or if they work in small spaces.  This FOYUEE Raised Planter Box hits all those marks.

Animal Succulent Pots

Recently I bought these adorable Ceramic Animal Succulent Plant Pots for my neighbors.

And I’ve had so much fun finding just the right little plants to dress them up.  They didn’t come with saucers, so I added those too.

Self-Care For The Gardener

Gardening can take its toll on hands and feet.  This gift set by Burt’s Bees brings healing to hands, feet, and lips.  Best of all, the products are climate pledge friendly – which is something many gardeners care about.

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

 

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Revamping An Old Folding Table

Recently I shared the makeover of the basement craft and sewing area that Chris and I worked on.

As part of that makeover, I revamped a large, bland folding table to use as my craft table.  I love how that table turned out, so today I’m sharing the details of this simple project.

The Table

I got this 3′ X 6′ faux wood laminate folding table years ago from an office where I used to work.  It took some doing to smuggle it out of the building unnoticed.  (Actually the office was closing and they sold it to me.)

 

It had been used for years in document rooms.  At home, we used it for things like parties and yard sales and, most recently, in my basement craft and sewing area. It was great to have such a large table to work on, but the laminate top was scuffed and worn.

I wanted something more cheerful than the tired faux wood look.  But that something had to be durable and easy to clean.

So this is what I did.

Sanding The Table

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I started by hand sanding the table with 220-grit sandpaper.

The purpose was to scuff the laminate just enough to make the primer adhere.  With the fine, 220-grit sandpaper, there would be no obvious sanding marks.

 

Vacuuming and Wiping

Then I vacuumed the table and wiped it with a damp cloth to make sure all sanding residue was gone.

Masking The Edges

The rim of the tabletop is some sort of rubber.  I doubt any paint would adhere to that very well, so I masked it off with one-inch blue painter’s tape and left it alone.

As you can see from the photo above, the table was literally rough around the edges.  I thought about sanding the edges more, but that could have led to more chipping.  Maybe there was something else I could have done with that, but it was so minor that I chose to just let it be.

Applying Primer

I wanted a smooth finish and I didn’t trust a paint brush to give me that.  So, I used a paint edger similar to this one (in light, broad strokes) to apply three coats of Kilz Premium Primer.

Was three coats of primer overkill?  Not when painting over laminate.  And not when the paint I wanted to use next was a much lighter color than the faux wood.

I let the primer dry thoroughly between coats.

Applying Paint

I went through our paint stash and came up with the paint left over from my master bedroom refreshBenjamin Moore “Galt Blue.”  It was exactly the clean, airy color that I was looking for in my craft room.

Again using the paint edger, I applied two coats.

 

Applying Finish

Since this was to be a worktable, applying finish would be a very important step in protecting the table – and hopefully keeping the paint from chipping and exposing the laminate underneath.

With my trusty paint edger, I applied two coats of Verathane Ultimate Polyurethane in Satin.

This entire process was very similar to the process I used to create the stenciled floor in my dressing room.

I’m happy to report that the floor has held up well, so I’m hoping to have the same result with this table.

The last step was to remove the masking tape.

The Result

This cheerful, smooth-surfaced table works well in my craft area.

revamping old table

When we first thought about hanging the pegboard, I wanted to paint it.  But, after painting the table, and with the colorful pegboard accessories I used, it turned out that painting the pegboard wasn’t necessary.

basement craft area

It’s early days but, so far, the table finish is holding up well and it is very easy to keep clean.

Not too bad for an old document table.

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

 

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Easy Ways To Elevate Your Hallways

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

When people decorate their homes, they usually focus on major areas like the living room, kitchen, and master bedrooms. On average, people redecorate twice in eight years, and the hallways are one of the last places on the list. Perhaps this is because it may not be cost-effective, or they just don’t know where to begin. However, your hallway can become an elegant and interesting part of your home with a few simple upgrades, including the following.

1.  Use natural light to your advantage

If you have windows in your hallways, you can bring natural light indoors.  Natural light is particularly helpful if you want to open up a narrow hallway. This is because the daylight gives the impression of open space. You can make the windows the focal point of your hallway by hiring companies like Renewal by Andersen to install outstanding window frames for you. Alternatively, you can use curtains to add some color. Curtains are relatively inexpensive and, at night, you can just draw them for privacy. 

2.  Use art

You can also use art as the focal point of your hallway. It gives the area some depth, and it gives the eye something beautiful to look at. You can either buy art from your favorite artist or go DIY by framing wallpaper or family photos. You can go all out and create a gallery wall if you have the means. These are fun because they give you creative freedom and can allow your personality to shine through. If you have a family, you can make it an activity. You can mix the sizes to give it a chic appearance and spark conversation with your guests.

3.  Transform the ceiling

Because hallways are usually small, some experts recommend considering height when decorating this space. This means your ceiling should not be left out in the process. Consider decor that encourages the eye to look up to create the illusion of a bigger space. If your ceiling is high enough to accommodate it, you can use a chandelier.  If not, or if you’re trying to save cost, vertically striped wallpaper will also give the illusion of height. 

4.  Choose a standout color


Painting is one of the easiest ways to turn any space from lackluster to exceptional, and you can elevate your hallway with paint colors that stand out. White is usually a recommended color because it makes any space look bigger and brighter. Darker colors are also good options if you want a cozier, closed-up feel to the area. Some experts also recommend creating continuity by painting hallways the same color as adjoining rooms.   

In most cases, your guests will need to go through your hallway to get to the main areas of your house – or at least to the powder room. So, with the above tips to get you started, you can make your hallway more interesting for your guests and for your family.  

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

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A DIY Luxuriously Soft Coverlet For A Child’s Bed

I love to sew home decor items like curtains, pillowcases, cushions, and tablecloths.  But I keep it simple.  If a project is complicated enough to need a sewing pattern, it’s not for me.

So recently, when I heard that a six-year-old family member needed some new bedding, I saw an opportunity for a fun and simple sewing project.

Below I describe in detail how I did this project.  As my editor (husband) pointed out, it’s a bit long and drawn-out.  So, if you’d rather just see the final result, scroll down to “The Result” near the end of this post.

Choosing The Fabric And The Project Design

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First, I cleared the idea with the youngster’s mom.  Then I started the project the way I begin all my sewing projects:  By rushing off to the fabric store with only a half-baked idea of what I was going to do or how I was going to do it.

What I knew at that point was that I wanted to make a flannel bed cover of some sort with a coordinating pillowcase.  I wanted to use flannel because it’s warm and soft – and it’s usually on sale after the holidays. I also knew that, although I adore quilts, I did not have the patience, skill, or desire to actually make one. I wanted to make something like a quilt, only easier.  So I decided to make a coverlet.

At the fabric store, I carefully selected some adorable, coordinating fabrics that I loved.  Then I put them all back and chose fabrics that this particular six-year-old kid would like.

I came out of the fabric store with planets, kitties, and plaid.  The coverlet would be reversible with planets as the primary fabric on one side and kitties on the other.

I was in love with the white plaid fabic at the top of the stack, but there wasn’t much left in the store.  I bought what they did have and hoped I could somehow make it work.

Altogether, I bought about 12 yards of 42″ wide flannel and about 5 1/4 yards of this 45″ wide batting.  The flannel is cotton Snuggle Flannel from Joann Fabrics.  To me it seems softer than some other flannels.  And, as I learned later, it’s even softer after laundering.  But the patterns are printed on the fabric – not woven in.  So this is not high-end flannel.  And the patterns are not always printed squarely on the fabric. This meant I’d have to do a little tweaking to make the patterns line up and also keep things straight.

This tutorial for making a flannel blanket was a very helpful starting point, and I did end up using most of the tips there. But the tutorial is for making smaller throw blankets (about a 40″ width), and I was going to make a twin-sized coverlet that needed to measure about 70″ X 90″ when finished.

But really how difficult could it be?  We’ll get back to that question later.

Preparing The Flannel

I did a little research and watched videos on how to prepare flannel for sewing.  If you’re planning to work with flannel, I highly recommend doing this.

One important thing to note is that flannel shrinks – a lot.  So I washed all the fabric in warm water and machine dried it so that it would preshrink.  I put a towel in the dryer with the fabric to keep it from wrinkling because the next step is, of course, pressing the fabric.  Flannel should be carefully pressed as opposed to being ironed.

I had yards and yards of fabric, so I confess that I did not press every bit of it.  Placing a clean cotton cloth between the fabric and the iron, and misting with a bit of water first, I just carefully pressed out the main creases and folds.  I figured that would be enough since my final goal was a casual, soft look.

Flannel tends to fray.  It can also bunch up in the sewing machine.  I eased the tension on my machine a bit, and I used a slightly longer stitch length than I normally do.  It is also recommended to use a walking foot when sewing flannel.  I didn’t take this extra step, but I’m happy to say that, in this case at least, I didn’t have any trouble with the fabric bunching.

But before sewing, I squared my fabric by ripping it.  Predictably, the flannel frayed a bit when I did this, but I always prefer to square my fabric before working with it.

The Project Begins

Making a template on the living room floor

Since this was such a huge project, the easiest way I could think of for measuring out the fabric, planning the pattern, and piecing it together was to mark out the finished dimensions on the living room floor.

So, I cleared away and cleaned a large area on my living room floor.  I carefully measured a 70″ X 90″ rectangle and marked the corners and the middle of the rectangle with blue painter’s tape to create a template.  Then I re-measured to make sure I hadn’t messed up.  Since the tape had a one-inch thickness, the inside of the tape template would represent the finished dimensions of the coverlet.  The outside area, although just a bit too wide to represent the coverlet’s unfinished dimensions, would still serve as an approximate reference point.

The biggest challenge of working on the living room floor was convincing our cats that this whole setup wasn’t solely for their amusement.

Every time I turned my back for a split second, something like this was happening.

“The human seems upset. I’m not sure why.”

But the cats were ever so helpful in that they eliminated any doubt that I’d have to launder this project again once it was finished.

Cutting and Sewing The Fabric Pieces

I started with the cat fabric.  The fabric, before pre-shrinking, was only 44″ wide.  I needed a 71″ width.  So I sewed two pieces of the cat fabric together, making sure to line up the pattern.

Then I measured, cut, and sewed together two narrow pieces of the white plaid fabric (just enough for an accent border since I didn’t have much of that fabric) and sewed it across the top of the cat fabric.  I just tried my best to keep the fabric patterns matching and lined up, but it wasn’t perfect.

Then I placed this fabric piece, consisting of the four sewn-together panels, over the template on the floor and, using a large straight edge, I marked and cut the fabric to the 71″ width and the 91″ length that I needed.

Then I pressed all the seams open.

Then, using the planet fabric and the orange plaid fabric, I employed a similar method for what would be the reverse side of the coverlet:  I  joined panels of fabric together and then measured, marked and cut so that I had a 71″ X 91″ piece of fabric.  And then I pressed the seams.

Cutting And Basting The Batting

The batting had a 45″ width so, using a straight edge, I cut two 45″ panels to the 91″ length that I needed and placed them on the template side by side.

I overlapped them in the middle by about an inch and pinned it.  Then, since this would be too cumbersome to push through my sewing machine, I hand-basted the two pieces together where I had overlapped them to create the width I needed.  As you’ll see later, the hand basting was only the first step I would take in making sure that the batting wouldn’t shift inside the coverlet once it was finished.

Then I cut the batting to the 71″ width that I needed.

Pinning It All Together

I carefully placed the two 71″ X 91″ fabric panels, right (good) sides together, flat on the floor.  I made sure to eliminate all creases and wrinkles.  So, I had the two good sides on the inside facing one another.  I placed the batting on top of this, and then I pinned the edges of the three pieces together.

I’m making this sound easy, but this was the most difficult part of the project – pinning these three huge pieces together without anything getting creased.

So, this is a good time to get back to that question “How difficult could this project really be?” At this point, the project seemed doomed to failure.  I was starting to regret ever taking it on.

Sewing The Perimeter

Finally I was satisfied with the pinning and I took this giant project to my sewing machine.  Using about a half-inch seam allowance, I sewed around the perimeter of the coverlet, making sure to backstitch at potentially vulnerable places like seams and corners.  I left part of one side open and unsewn so that I could easily pull the fabric right-side-out later.

Here, the batting is on top and the two fabric pieces are underneath with their “good” sides facing one another. The perimeter of this project has been sewn closed except for the area on the left between the two pieces of blue tape.

Pulling It Right-Side-Out

Then I reached inside the unsewn area, between the two fabric pieces, and carefully reversed the coverlet – pulling the whole thing right-side-out.  Now the good sides were facing out and the batting was inside sandwiched between the two fabric pieces.

Reversing it was like a mini-reveal of how this project was going to turn out.  I held my breath and hoped for the best.  And it actually didn’t look too bad.

Pressing and Pinning

I pressed the perimeter of the coverlet to give the seam a neat look.  When I got to the unsewn area, I tucked the fabric inward and pressed it so that the unsewn area looked neat and finished like the sewn area.  Then I pinned it.

The Finish Stitch

I used a zigzag stitch around the entire perimeter (about a quarter inch from the edge) to seal the unsewn area and as another measure in securing the batting.

It also gave the piece a cute, finished look.

Securing The Batting

This coverlet was going to be for an active little kid, so I wanted to make sure the batting wouldn’t shift.  So I used another tip I found in this tutorial:  Adding hand-tied knots to secure the batting.  Once again placing the coverlet on the floor, I measured out and put a small hand-stitched knot at every share foot.  I used a strand of embroidery floss for this.  I made sure the needle went through the batting and picked up the fabric on the opposite side of the coverlet.

I quadruple tied each knot to make sure it would not unravel.

Once I was done, I could barely see my work in the overall look of the coverlet – which was a good thing.

The Pillowcase

I made a simple pillowcase using this method but with a few changes – mostly for the sake of preference – including making the pillowcase reversible.

Laundering Again

With my heart in my throat, I put the entire finished project through the laundry, this time on delicate because it’s recommended for the type of batting that I used.  I tumble dried it on low and then took it out immediately so that it wouldn’t wrinkle.

It came out luxuriously soft.  The only glitch was a little bunching at the hand stitches that I’d added at the end, but that is barely noticeable.

The Result

I’m very happy with the result.  It isn’t perfect, but I’ve convinced myself it doesn’t really need to be.  After all, it’s just kids’ bedding – not world peace.

 

 

It’s reversible and interchangeable for lots of fun options.

 

 

But does it actually fit a twin bed?  I tried it out on half of my king-sized bed and it fit well.  So I think it will be fine on a twin bed.

 

It’s so wonderfully soft that I’m gearing up to make a king-sized version for my own bed.  Just kidding!  I’m pretty sure it will be a while before I tackle such a huge project again.

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

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An Easy DIY Eucalyptus Wreath

For a while now, I’ve been making wreath forms using clippings from the grapevine that grows along my fence.  I like to dress up these wreath forms with other garden clippings to make affordable, all-natural wreaths like this one and the second hop wreath in this post.

So last fall, as I was hard pruning the grapevine, I made a few wreath forms from the clippings.

They take hardly any time to make – and no special tools.  It is just as easy as it looks.  Starting with three vines and adding more as needed, I just cut them to the size I want and wrap, weave, and bend vines around one another, into a circle. Then I tuck and wedge the vine ends in until they are secure.

This works much better when the vines are still green and flexible.  The vines I was working with last fall were already partially brown and dried, which made things more difficult.  But I was still able to make it work.

 

I like my grapevine wreath forms to be thinner and airier than the ones you see at the craft stores.

I gave two away and kept one.

I used my wreath form to make the eucalyptus wreath, but first I used it to make . . .

The Hasty Holiday Wreath

We were going to be out of the state for most of December, and I wanted the house to look occupied while we were gone.  So I quickly put up a few holiday decorations before we left – including a wreath made using the wreath form, a few garden clippings, and a sprig of faux berries.

Hastily assembled, this wasn’t the most attractive wreath I’d ever made.  But we weren’t going to be around to look at it.  By the time I took the photo below, after our return, the wreath was dried out and looking especially haggard.

After I took it down, I pulled the greenery and the berries off and kept the wreath form.

The Eucalyptus Wreath

On a recent visit to Trader Joe’s, I noticed that they had fresh eucalyptus sprigs for $3.99 a bunch.  So I bought one bunch of seeded eucalyptus to use with the wreath form to make a post-holiday mid-winter wreath.

I simply cut the eucalyptus to the sizes I wanted and then, as with most other natural ingredients I put in these wreaths, I just wedged the eucalyptus stems between the grapevines to secure them.

A green eucalyptus stem is wedged into the grapevine wreath to secure it.

The eucalyptus stems were not quite as flexible to work with as some other greenery I have used, but it did work with a little trial and error.  When I was done, I gave the wreath a good shake to make sure everything was secure.

By wedging the stems into place, I didn’t have to use any wires.  So, the entire wreath can simply be tossed into the compost bin later.  Or I can easily remove the eucalyptus and just keep the wreath form.

One bunch of eucalyptus didn’t get me very far, but I still like the look of the wreath.

Eucalyptus wreath

I know this sparse style of wreath, using all-natural materials and no bow, isn’t for everyone.  But I enjoy its simple elegance.

Eucalyptus wreath

And I love the look of the seeded eucalyptus.

But how long will this wreath last?  I have read that seeded eucalyptus doesn’t last long.  It is in a cool and protected area on my porch, so that might give it some advantage.  I will update this post once I find out.

Update

It’s now just a little over three weeks since publishing this post, and the wreath has dried.

I was expecting the seeds to fall off and make a mess.  But they have stayed in place and have also dried.  They’ve lost a little bit of their color, but they still look good.

Granted, this wreath is in a very protected and dry location.  It has been exposed to cool (but not freezing) temperatures the entire time.  In different conditions, it may not have fared as well.

I think I’ll be keeping it around a little longer.

 

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

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Fall Porch Decor With Hop Vines

The hop vines that grow along the south side of our house are both a blessing and a curse.  Every year in late winter, I pull out massive amounts of trailing underground hop roots in the hope of keeping these vines under control.

The vines usually recover quickly from this setback.  Stronger than before and out for revenge, they are soon back to swallowing up the sunny side of our house.

Hops trying to get in through our dining room window.

But the hop cones are such a beautiful, fresh green when they emerge in late summer.  And they are rewarding to work with.

So today, I’m sharing a couple of my recent hop projects.

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A Hop Garland

The hop garland was surprisingly easy to make.

I simply measured how long I needed the garland to be and then weaved a few hop vines around one another until I had a long enough garland.  Hop vines like to wind around each other naturally anyway, and they almost feel sticky to the touch.  So it was easy to get them to stay woven together.

Hop vines naturally wind around one another.

In the few places where I could not get them to stay together naturally, I just tethered them together with biodegradable garden twine.

The key to success is to do this project when the vines are still green and pliable.  It’s no good trying this once the vines have already dried.

 

 

Then, using clear fishing wire, Chris and I suspended the garland from small hooks that are already installed on our porch ceiling.

There were a few larger hooks, just above the porch entrance, that also came in handy for hanging this garland.

I weaved in extra clusters of hop cones where needed for a fuller look.  When necessary, I tied them on with biodegradable garden twine.

 

This was several weeks ago.  Now the cone clusters have dried and mellowed to a soft caramel color.

And we added pumpkin string lights to the garland.

 

The garland is now brittle to the touch, but it’s holding up very well.  It definitely helps that it is under cover and, for the most part, protected from the rain.

The little hop headpiece that I made for our porch lion looked good at first.

But, since it was not under cover, it suffered in the weather and ultimately had to be tossed.

 

A Hop Wreath

Several years ago, I made this hop wreath using a metal wreath form as a foundation.

My hop wreath from a few years ago.

It was a fun and exuberant wreath, but now I know how to make an all-natural wreath using no metal forms, wires, or other manmade elements.  The beauty of an all-natural wreath is that, when the season changes and I no longer need it, I can just toss the whole wreath into the compost bin and get on with my life – no need to separate it from a metal wreath form first.

I started by clipping some of the grape vines that grow on our fence and weaving them around one another into a wreath form.  As with the hop vines, grape vines are easy to work with when the vines are still green and pliable.

A wreath form made using grape vines.

I just tucked the ends in until they were secure.  The grapevine wreath form didn’t have to look pretty since it was going to be partly covered by the hops anyway.

Then I cut a length of hop vines.  These vines had woven around one another while they were growing, so they had already done some of my work for me.

 

Then, for lack of a better description, I just weaved, folded, and tucked the hop vines securely onto the grapevine wreath.  It took a little bit of trial and error, but it was fairly easy.

There is nothing manmade holding this wreath together.  It is just vines wrapped around one another.

The front door is very protected from the elements so, like the garland, the wreath mellowed into a golden caramel color after a couple of weeks.

 

A Little Viola Pumpkin

This isn’t a hop project, but I thought I’d share another little piece of my porch decor:  This simple little viola pumpkin.

I cut the top off of a sugar pumpkin and hollowed it, scraping out the seeds and some of the pumpkin meat. (The meat I’d removed made a nice side dish with our dinner that evening.)

Then I cut a drain hole in the bottom of the pumpkin.  I planted the violas in a small plastic container and placed it inside the hollowed pumpkin. A bit of moss conceals the plastic pot.

The hollowed pumpkin probably won’t stay fresh for long, so having the violas in a plastic pot will make them easier to remove when the time comes.  I know some folks use bleach or other substances to keep their pumpkins fresh longer but I don’t because (1) I’m too lazy, and (2) I like to compost my pumpkins when I’m done with them, so I want to keep them all natural.

More Fall Porch Decor

The rest of my fall porch decor is not exciting and, as you will see, our porch furniture needs a facelift – badly!  But here it is anyway.

 

 

 

(In case you’re wondering, the white box in the photo above is our Ridwell box.)

Now to plan:  Should I revamp the existing porch furniture or replace it with something new, perhaps one of these looks?

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Have The Home Of Your Dreams With These Simple Renovations

My recent living room makeover wasn’t a huge remodel.  It wasn’t even particularly imaginative. The biggest change was a new coat of paint. Yet it made a huge improvement to my home and the way I feel about it.  Now I want to keep going and repaint every room on the main floor!

So this contributed post, about simple changes that make a big impact, really spoke to me.

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

Have The Home Of Your Dreams With These Simple Renovations

Do you want to improve your home but don’t know where to start? Consider starting small.  Sometimes small changes are all you need to breathe fresh life into your home.  So, if you want to fall in love with your home again without spending a fortune, this post is for you! It will go over some simple renovations that will have your house feeling new in no time.

Apply A Fresh Coat Of Paint

Applying a new coat of paint is a cheap, simple way to update any room.  You can also peel off wallpaper before repainting your walls. 

The best time to paint is when the weather outside is warm and dry so that your fresh paint will not peel or crack—plan for at least a week of drying time before moving furniture back in. Laying plastic on floors and using a drop cloth to protect the floor will help contain any mess. Once it’s dry, you’ll be pleased with the beautiful transformation that a fresh coat of paint can bring.

Install New Lighting

An easy way to make a space feel new is with some simple light fixtures. Swapping out a fixture can change the mood of your home in seconds. Make sure the fixture is large enough to cover most or all of the space without being too overwhelming or detracting from other elements in the room, such as a fireplace.

It would help to balance lighting between ambient, task, and accent lights, so make sure you keep that in mind when selecting fixtures for different parts of the room. Select fixtures that complement your décor, but don’t feel limited to them. Be sure to hire a professional to install your new light fixtures if you are not experienced at doing this task yourself.

Replace An Old Roof

Some of the most important tasks to take on when having an old house renovated are those that will make your property more energy-efficient. Of course, the priority is usually a new roof as it can save you heating and cooling costs. 

There are many different types of roofing materials available, but asphalt shingles are often a good option because they last longer and are less expensive than some other materials. And sources like Affordable Home Services can make roof replacements cost effective.

Add A Mudroom

There are so many benefits to having a mudroom.  But even if there is no room in your existing floor plan to add one, try designating some wall space near your front or back door as a space for an organized “drop zone” for keys, sunglasses, gloves and jackets. Most importantly, provide a place for wet or dirty footwear. This can reduce the amount of dirt, mud, and other debris tracked into your house, so you won’t have to clean house as often.  

Invest In Your Entrance

The entrance is the first impression that guests have of your home.  If possible, make sure that your entryway has a welcoming feel. A great way to do this is by investing in a new front door or repainting your existing one and adding upgraded door hardware.  Try adding decent-sized plant containers on either side of the front door or an attractive outdoor chair or bench near the entrance.

Conclusion

The home of your dreams might be closer than you think. With just a few simple renovations, you can make any space feel like the place where you belong and want to spend time with family and friends every day. 

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4 Great Ideas For Improving Your Home’s Exterior

Today’s contributed post is on one of my favorite topics: Curb appeal.  At my house, there is always room for improvement in this area, and tip number 2 reminded me that I really need to step up my game when it comes to exterior lighting.

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

4 Great Ideas For Improving Your Home’s Exterior

We often hear real estate professionals talk about the importance of street appeal in buying and selling properties.  That’s because street appeal is your home’s public image.  It’s the story that it tells about itself and its occupants.  And that means something whether or not you’re selling your home. 

As per the U.S Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey, homeowners spent $522 billion on home improvement projects from 2017 to 2019.  And, while much of this money and effort was spent on interior improvements to homes, improving your outdoor space is equally essential.

But improving your home’s exterior doesn’t necessarily have to be difficult.  Here are a few simple tips.

1.  Upgrade Your Front Door

First impressions typically begin at your front entryway, so having a dazzling front door is a guaranteed way to boost your home’s curb appeal. Thankfully, you can explore numerous ideas to make your front door attractive. For instance, giving your front door a new coat of paint can refresh your home completely. Alternatively, you can replace an old and unappealing door with a more eye-catching option. However, unless you plant to repaint your exterior, always choose a new front door based on your existing outdoor color scheme.

You can also upgrade your front door hardware to enhance its look. And if you are considering redesigning your entryway or front door, it is always best to add a personalized touch that reflects your style. As such, you can hop over to this page to consult with experts for durable, customized doors to improve your curb appeal.

2.  Invest In Exterior Lighting

Proper outside lighting is a must-have to boost your home’s exterior. For starters, exterior lights increase curb appeal and can even help you get more cash for your house when you decide to sell in the future. Indeed, the National Association of Home Builders reports that excellent exterior lighting can increase your home’s value by up to 20%. 

Outdoor lights also highlight exciting landscape or architectural features at night, so they are worth the investment. In addition, these lights increase safety after dark since well-lit exterior spaces deter criminals. You can select strong lighting sources if you want a highly illuminated space or opt for solar lights and small lanterns for a soothing and relaxed atmosphere.

3.  Revive Your Roof

Your roof is an essential aspect of your home’s insulation and weatherproofing system. But your roof also significantly contributes to your home’s exterior appeal. Therefore, a roof revival might be necessary to transform drab roofing into an aesthetically pleasing asset. Generally, your roof’s condition and age will determine whether replacement is needed. As such, take a critical look at your roof and consider repairing or replacing it to improve your home’s exterior.

4.  Install Window Boxes

 

Window boxes are undeservingly overlooked when homeowners consider ideas for sprucing up their home’s exterior. However, the classic window box remains an excellent exterior design feature that can add a distinct touch to your house and make it genuinely stand out. You can select a window box made of metal, wood, vinyl, or fiberglass, depending on your preferences. Then, hire a professional to anchor these boxes properly, reducing their chances of failing in the future. You can also consider planting some colorful mix and match flowers to make your exterior brim with life.

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ORC Week 8: A Pet-Friendly Living Room Makeover – Final Reveal

Finally we’re at Week 8 of the One Room Challenge.  If you’ve been following my living room transformation since Week 1, thank you so much for coming along on my little journey.  In this post, you’ll finally see if I accomplished my goal of creating an elegant, airy, and inviting living room that looks right for our circa 1920s house.  And, because we always seem to end up with at least one resident cat, it must also be able to withstand pet hair and pet stains.

Basically, my project consisted painting stuff, buying stuff, and moving stuff around.  To see some really impressive projects, check out what the other Challenge participants have done.  You can find their projects here.

Big thanks to media sponsor Better Homes & Gardens and ORC creator Linda at Calling It Home.  The ORC gave me the motivation I needed to actually do something about this room – and keep to a schedule.

The Room’s Challenges

In my Week 1 post, I went into detail on the challenges we were facing with the living room.  But, in a nutshell, this is just a very tricky room to furnish.  Because it has two huge windows, two doorways, and one large archway, there is very little actual wall space.  Since there is no entry hall, traffic flow from the front door to any other place in the house radiates from the living room.  So traffic flow also had to be taken into consideration when placing furniture.

As a result, most of the furniture was pushed against the walls.  This made the living room feel more like a glorified hallway.  And somehow it looked cluttered and empty at the same time.

Living room before

The sofa blocked access to the garden view from one of the large windows. Anyone sitting on the sofa would be facing away from the view. Since I’m the type of person who loves to look out windows, this has always bugged me.

Living room before

But turning the sofa at an angle from the window wouldn’t have worked either because that huge sofa would have impeded traffic flow to the dining room.

Living room and dining room before

Also, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, the room was a bit bland.  The blandness actually did have a calming effect – which is why we kept it that way for so long.  But this was not a room where we enjoyed spending a lot of time.

Although antiques are not trendy right now, we love ours.  But they felt stagnant in the room.  I needed to find locations that worked better for them.

So, here is what we did.  And as I explain the project, I’ll also mention a couple of things that make the room pet-friendly.

The Transformation!

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We mostly use this room for gatherings or for listening to music.

So, for a cozier gathering area, we replaced the sofa with a loveseat.  That enabled us to create a U-shaped seating configuration that centered around the large window instead of blocking it.

The new loveseat is from World Market.  I know from experience that it can comfortably seat two adults and one small child.

 

It was very affordable, and I am in love with its fun and classic design.  The green upholstered chair is also new from World Market.  They are both very soft and velvety.

Pet-Friendliness:  Although I can’t speak for all cats, none of our cats have ever been compelled to use furniture covered in microsuede as a scratching post.  It’s also easy to spot-clean and vacuum. So I made sure that my new furniture pieces (the loveseat and upholstered chair) were covered in microsuede fabrics.  

The new furniture configuration called for a square area rug.  The new area rug I found carries a bit of an arts and crafts theme that I think goes well with our 1920s house.  The only thing I’m not crazy about is the fringe.

Pet-Friendliness:  Maybe it’s just the particular vacuum that I have, but I find it impossible to vacuum cat hair from low-pile rugs.  So, when shopping for a new rug, I didn’t consider rugs with a pile height shorter than a half inch.   

I gave the tray of our old coffee table/ottoman an update (detailed in my Week 6 post).  It not only looks better, it’s also easier to clean up spills since now it has a plexiglass cover.

Beyond it, under the window, is the little vintage bench that used to be in our bedroom.  It works well here as extra seating yet it doesn’t block the window view.

This Hepplewhite-style chair was one of the first antiques I purchased (at a swap meet) as a young adult.  I love it just as much now as when I first saw it.

In the corner behind it, a vintage lamp adds evening lighting.  A majesty palm and a “string of bananas” succulent help to blur the line between indoors and outdoors.

 

A piece of abstract art done by my preschooler niece, and an oil painting of our cat, Eddie, painted by a friend, hang on the wall.  (Now Eddie can give us his judgy look even when he’s not in the room.)

 

To the left of the palm is the dresser I revamped with chalk paint a few years ago.

 

As a side table between the two chairs, we are using a small vintage table that we inherited from my mother-in-law.

And next to the loveseat is the industrial glam campaign table that used to belong to my Mom.  She graciously agreed to trade another table with me so I could have this one.  So I guess I didn’t just shop my own house for this room, I also shopped Mom’s.

From the front door, traffic flow still works.  But the living room no longer looks like a hallway – with furniture pushed against the walls.  It’s cozier and more intimate.

The north wall is the longest stretch of uninterrupted wall space, but the front door also swings in here.  Furniture placed on this wall needs to be fairly shallow for the sake of traffic flow.

Here we placed our wardrobe-turned-stereo-cabinet and an antique console.

This wall gets indirect light from two large windows, so plants here always seem to do well.

We don’t use the front door much ourselves, but guests and packages come in this way.  So, other than the plants, I didn’t go overboard on styling the console as it will no doubt serve as a drop zone.

 

But of course I had to tweak something after this post was published.  I remembered a friend’s advice to make the living room reflect our personalities – which I think I did for the most part.  But the console felt impersonal.  So I changed a few of things and added a couple of art pieces done by family members of all ages.  There’s still space to use the console as a drop zone, but now it’s just more “us.”

Moving on to the west wall, we have our liquor cabinet.  The large mirror was hanging in this location before.  It’s the only piece in the room that went back to the same location.

We got the wood carving from a local artist in Kona, Hawaii, while vacationing on The Big Island.

From the dining room, there is ample space to enter the living room despite the placement of the loveseat.

As a transition between the living room and dining room, we hung a large print that we got at an arts and crafts fair in Newport, Oregon.

The photo was taken under the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport.

I really love how the photograph looks with our new wall color, and I’d like to talk a moment about the new color.  It’s a PPG color called Iced Periwinkle.  This color changes noticeably in any changing light.

For example, this color is in both our living room and our dining room.  But, when the dining room light is on, it looks like a completely different color.  So far I’m liking any color it decides to be.

Deep, moody colors and wall treatments like box moldings are trending now, and they look fantastic. But it’s not what I wanted for this room.  So, once again, I’m flying my freak flag and going against trend.

Speaking of which, this is also a good time to mention the window coverings – or lack thereof:

If the windows were mullioned, I would have already replaced the dated mini blinds.  But I have yet to find an alternative type of blind or shade that is as versatile or as suited for the expanse of these large picture windows.  So, until I do, they have to stay.

Also, you might be wondering where the curtains are.  The curtains that were in the room before actually look better with the new wall color but, for the time being, we are enjoying the windows without them.

But let’s get back to the single most important issue:  Our resident cat Eddie.  Before the room transformation, he loved sleeping on the large sofa against the window.  So I was hoping he could find happiness in this room even after the transformation.

Well, the jury has come back.

And I think he’ll be okay.

So I can finally say that, as far as I’m concerned, the transformation was a success.

I will leave you with one last before . . .

Southeast wall before

and after.

Southeast wall after

Sources

The Camel Leanna tufted loveseat is from World Market.

The green upholstered chair is also from World Market, though I’m not seeing it on their website at the moment.

All throw pillows are from World Market.

I got the square area rug from another source, but it’s available on Amazon (and on sale as of this writing).

The felt rug pad under the rug is from RugPadUSA on Amazon.

The woven seagrass plant basket that the majesty palm is in is from Artera Home Store and available on Amazon.

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 Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design