Organizing My New Dressing Room

Happy New Year, dear readers, and welcome to a new decade.  I  can’t believe we’ve entered the 2020’s!

Thanks to having participated in the One Room Challenge last fall, a six-week challenge during which Chris and I completely remodeled my little dressing room, I can at least say that I’m starting this new decade with a neatly organized wardrobe.

And while I certainly can’t claim to be an organizing guru, I did pick up a little inspiration from tidying expert Marie Kondo.  My takeaway:  Think vertical.  So here, I’m sharing some of the simple ways I organized my clothes and jewelry as I moved them back into my newly revamped dressing room.

 

Starting with A Clean Slate

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Before I started organizing, I donated all of my clothes to charity, and then I went out and bought a brand new wardrobe to go with my new dressing room!

Wait, no.  That was just a dream.

Actually, when the dressing room remodel was in its final stages, I began to do laundry – lots of it.  Although most of my clothes were already clean, I washed every piece that was going back into that room.  I just wanted everything to be fresh.

This process helped me take stock of exactly what I had in my wardrobe.

I lined the dresser drawers with a cheerful retro floral shelf paper.

And I tossed a charcoal air freshener into each drawer.

Then it was finally time to start organizing.

 

Ombre Denim

We put a lot of thought, but not a lot of money, into this dressing room remodel.  I love the south wall “built-ins” that we created by combining two salvage-shop kitchen cabinets and an old dresser.

Dressing room remodel

These new built-ins are intended to look original to our 1920’s house.  They frame a small window and work well with the sloped ceiling.

I was looking forward to using this upper cabinet for purses.

Vertical walk in closet storage

But then I realized it was suited to a more practical use: Denim.  I have way too many pairs of jeans, but I wear them all.

organizing jeans

In my new vertical cabinet, the jeans are stacked on top of one another.  But, unlike being stacked in a dresser drawer, they are all visible.  And they are organized by color and saturation.

organizing jeans

I fold them so that the pockets are always on top.  Since many brands of jeans have distinctive pocket stitching, I can quickly find the pair I want to wear.

 

Vertical Sweaters and T-Shirts

My sweaters and T-shirts are folded and placed neatly into drawers in the large wardrobe on the north wall.

But they are positioned vertically, as Marie Kondo suggests.  So, just like with my jeans, I can quickly see what I have.  Now nothing gets buried and forgotten.

organizing shirts

I use a charcoal air freshener as a spacer when I remove a shirt.  This keeps the other shirts neatly in place.

A charcoal air freshener, used as a spacer, keeps the vertically positioned shirts in place when one is removed.

I use expandable drawer dividers to define separate spaces for long-sleeve T-shirts, short-sleeve T-shirts, and tank tops – and for creating zones inside of drawers for things like purses and scarves.

Drawer organization

Velvet Hangers

I love the look of vintage wooden clothes hangers, and I use them on the open clothing rod on the north wall.  After all, I want this room to make me happy – not just be functional.  I love the look of this rustic pipe rod with the vintage hangers.

Vintage inspired clothing rod

But, in the enclosed hanging space inside the large wardrobe, I use space-saving velvet hangers similar to these.  I was a little skeptical about them at first, but to me it seems that they really do save space.

The velvet makes them grippy (sometimes almost too grippy), so clothes don’t slide off.

clothes on velvet hangers

And I love that these clothes are in an enclosed wardrobe.

wardrobe

I wanted a lot of enclosed storage in the dressing room because, before, the room always looked cluttered.  And all that clutter tended to gather dust.

Vertical Necklace Storage

Another enclosed storage area is this little vintage cabinet that we retrofitted into the northeast corner.

Vintage leaded glass cabinet

In it, Chris installed dozens of hooks for hanging necklaces.

organizing necklaces

Now, necklaces don’t get tangled, and it’s easy to see what I have. The shelf is also a good spot for the earring organizer I made a few years ago when I was going through my vintage button obsession.

A Victorian-era butter dish, so rustic that it’s silver plate is wearing off, holds a couple of fun vintage treasures inside.

Victorian butter dish

 

Vintage pins
Vintage pins.

On the shelf below, stackable jewelry trays similar to these hold other pieces of jewelry.

stackable jewelry trays

I just love that this room feels more airy and spacious than it did before the remodel, even though it holds the same amount of stuff.

Now if only the rest of my house was this organized!

 

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

 

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A DIY Lighted Holiday Sphere

If you’ve been with me for a while, you might remember the DIY hanging garden sphere that I shared this past spring.  I made it by clipping together two wire hanging basket cages.

Little did I know that the sphere would become a nursery for eight adorable baby juncos – two nests with four chicks each!

The baby juncos are long gone and, now that the holidays are upon us, these two hanging basket cages have a new job – this time as a lighted sphere for my front porch.

DIY lighted holiday sphere

You can pretty much see how I made it just by looking at the photo – except for that spiky white thing inside.

So what is that thing?

The Secret Ingredient

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It’s a huge allium seed head!  It bloomed purple over the summer and then dried to a soft straw color.

I photographed it in a child’s car seat to give you an idea of just how huge it is.

There are so many varieties of larger alliums, and I don’t remember exactly which one I planted.  But my educated guess is that it’s an Allium schubertii.

In early fall, when the blossom had gone to seed, I cut it and let it dry in my greenhouse.

Dressing Up The Allium Seed Head

I sprayed painted it with Rust-Oleum Specialty Metallic in silver.  It looked okay, but it didn’t really pop.  So I sprayed over that with a light coat of Krylon Glitter Shimmer in opulent opal.  That gave it a little more of the holiday glam I was looking for.

Then I put the painted seed head inside the two hanging baskets and clipped the baskets together using the fastening clips from one of the hanging basket chains.

The allium seed head is now captive inside these two hanging basket cages, one of which is turned upside-down and set on top of the other. Then they are clipped together with, and suspended by, the hanging chain from one of the hanging baskets.

Getting the allium inside the sphere without damaging it was a bit of a challenge, but I just did my best.

 

Lighting the Sphere

I used a 20-foot length of indoor-outdoor, green-wired clear incandescent mini lights, but a safer option would probably have been LED mini lights since they don’t burn as hot.

I just secured the strand of lights with as many twist ties as was necessary, wrapping the strand around the outer circumference of the sphere several times and spacing the lights as evenly as I could.

I hung the sphere from a hook on the porch and voila – we now have a fun and budget-friendly addition to our outdoor Christmas lights.

DIY lighted holiday sphere

And it’s large enough to lend a chandelier-like elegance to the front porch.

DIY lighted holiday sphere

 

Of course, this sphere would look good even without the allium in the middle.  But since I had it, I thought it was a fun addition.

This isn’t the first time I’ve used allium seed heads in holiday decor.  A couple of years ago, I made a frozen allium forest for our vintage putz church.

Happy Holidays!

Except for possibly publishing a guest post or two, I’m putting this blog down for its annual “long winter’s nap.”

So I’m wishing you and your loved ones the very best of the holiday season, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the New Year!

 

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

 

 

 

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A Fifteen-Minute Garland

Last December, I was on a walk and came across a beautiful branch of hemlock that had been brought down in a windstorm.

Hemlock branch

So I brought it home.  Although hemlock does tend to dry quickly and become brittle indoors, I love it because of its small and adorable pine cones.  They can add so much natural charm to holiday decor.

The twigs and pine cones on this branch draped so gracefully that I decided to make a simple garland for the archway between our living room and dining room.

Preparing the Greens

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I shook the branch off really well and sprayed it with a little peppermint oil, which is a natural insect repellent, before bringing it in.  I left it outside for little while to give any insects that might have been on the branch ample time to escape.

Creating the Garland

Creating the garland took, at most, 15 minutes.

I cut the twigs off of the branch and laid them out (on the laundry room floor) to form the length of the garland.

Hemlock garland in the making

I used 22-gauge florist wire to securely connect the twigs to one another.  Then I just wound a narrow (3/4 inch) holiday ribbon through the garland.  I concealed the florist wire with the ribbon where I could.

That was it:  The hemlock, the florist wire, and the holiday ribbon.

 

Hanging the Garland

Even with help from my husband, this part of the project took a while.  We didn’t want to damage the wall by using nails, so we (and by “we” I mean Chris) hammered little nails to the top of the picture rail.  Then “we” used clear fishing line to suspend the garland from the nails

Hemlock garland
You can see the nail in the picture rail here, but the fishing line is almost invisible.

 

DIY Hemlock garland

The nails would be easy to remove, but we left them so they can be used for other garlands and bunting.

 

The Result

The garland was very simple, but that was exactly what I was in the mood for last year:  The beauty of nature without any glitz or gaudiness.  

The draping greenery and tiny pine cones created a fun little “enchanted forest” feel.

Hemlock garland

 

Hemlock garland

 

Hemlock garland

With the remaining hemlock twigs, I made a small wreath to hang in the window.

DIy wreath

 

Hemlock Doesn’t Last Long

The garland was fine for a couple of weeks but, when I took it down, I was reminded of why, despite its charm, hemlock isn’t used much in holiday decor:  When I moved it, needles fell everywhere.

It had become very dry and brittle indeed.

So, if you do use hemlock in holiday decor, just make sure to keep it away from anything that might cause it to catch fire.

Hemlock is fun to use in fuller wreaths too, such as this foraged wreath that I made back in 2014.

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

 

 

 

Browse my shop to find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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A Gold and Glass Thanksgiving Table

After being immersed in my dressing room remodel for the past six weeks, it’s nice to finally write about something different – especially something as fun as Thanksgiving table decor.

Last year, I’d seen a photo in a home decor magazine that became my inspiration for our Thanksgiving table:  Oil lamp chimneys with candles burning inside were grouped loosely together with a few scattered fall leaves on an off-white tablecloth.  So simple and elegant.

So I found a muslin curtain that I wasn’t using anymore, and it became that simple off-white tablecloth.

Now that I had my “blank canvas,” the fun could begin.  And to me, fun is always more fun when I’m saving money.  Since I had most of what I needed already on hand, this was a very budget-friendly look to pull together.

 

Gold Leaves

Of course I immediately strayed from the magazine photo that had inspired me.  I couldn’t resist taking home some huge maples leaves I found on a walk in the park.  Maple leaves don’t stay beautiful for very long, so I spray painted mine with Rust-Oleum “Pure Gold” Metallic spray paint.

After they dried, I pressed them, and some other leaves that I’d painted, under glass for a few days.

This was easy since we have a glass piece that covers our dining room table when it’s not extended.  But pressing the leaves into a large book or under a heavy board may have worked too.

 

The Oil Lamp Chimneys

I took a few of the glass chimneys from vintage oil lamps that we’ve collected over the years and put candles inside.

A small glass ramekin served as the base for each one.

In the magazine photo, the chimneys were of varying heights, which is why they looked so beautiful grouped together.  But, since my chimneys were more or less the same height, I would be scattering them across the table instead of grouping them.

 

The Result

The reason I loved that magazine photo so much was because, by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I’m usually already wanting to move on from a fall decor look.  But it’s too early to set the table for Christmas.  This look was such an elegant compromise.

My table ended up looking very different from the photo, but I was still happy with it.

The largest maple leaves became place mats.

Since Thanksgiving comes only once a year, I like to use the good stuff:  Real silverware, vintage china, and vintage crystal wine glasses.

 

 

 

A Word Of Caution

At the end of the evening, I discovered that the candles were a little hard to blow out unless I took the chimneys off first, but the chimneys had become very HOT.  I had to use a pot holder to take them off and sometimes, because of the melted candle wax, they were stuck to the ramekin base.

So, just a little warning that, if you try this, be very careful when you handle the hot chimneys, and also keep kids, pets, and flammable items away from them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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

 

 

 

Browse my shop to find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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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ORC Week 6: Dressing Room Remodel – The Final Reveal

We’re here at last:  The big “ta-da” moment in our One Room Challenge® adventure! For five weeks, my husband Chris and I have been remodeling my small and quirky dressing room, and I’ve been posting weekly updates.  And it’s all come down to this:  The final reveal!

Thanks to Linda of Calling It Home for hosting this event, and to Better Homes and Gardens, media sponsor of this challenge.

In case you missed them, here are links to my previous posts:

Project Recap

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.

The Space

My little dressing room, located on the second floor, measures roughly 70 square feet.  And those square feet are very oddly shaped.

In addition to the odd shape, this room also has a sloping ceiling that follows the roofline along the east side.  It has two doors:  An entry door and a door leading to an unfinished attic space.

Design Goals

Our house was built in 1927 so, although we don’t want the house to look like a shrine to the 1920s, we always want new work – cabinetry, hardware, doors, and moldings – to blend seamlessly with the existing design features of the house.

I feel that the house’s original design features are easy on the eyes.  They’re simple and clean – yet charming.  And they’ve stood the test of time.  So I would rather use those design features than a trend that will look dated in a few years anyway.

Clutter Busting

You’ll see that the little dressing room was a claustrophobic and cluttered mess.  I wanted the redesign to include ample storage yet feel spacious.

Color

The room is small and has a sloped ceiling, so I decided to use one paint color on every surface, including that sloped ceiling, all the moldings, and all the cabinetry that we added.

The goal was for the room to be brighter, more elegant, more cohesive – and for that sloped ceiling to feel less oppressive.  I opted for good old “Simply White” by Benjamin Moore.

Budget

Since what we were remodeling was basically a closet, we challenged ourselves to keep the budget tight.  So, a challenge within a challenge!  We had lots of fun with this.  We sourced cabinetry pieces through Craigslist, salvage shops, and our own basement storage.  We always look to repurpose items instead of buying new when we can anyway – not only to save money but also because it’s an earth-friendly alternative.

The total expenditure (outlined in detail last week) was under $900 U.S.

Let’s start the tour!

Dressing Room Tour

Won’t you come in.

The North Wall

North wall after

Before the remodel, the north wall looked like this.

North wall before

I’d brought in a portable garment rack because there was not enough rod space in the room to hang my clothes.  A patched-together assortment of old dressers, shoe boxes, and racks made for a cluttered look that scratched away at my psyche every time I entered the room.  And there was a lot of vertical wall space going to waste here.

Now I have the enclosed wardrobe space.

Plus, for longer items, the new garment rod we installed over a shoe bench.

The new garment rod, which adds a much-needed rustic touch to the room, is made of authentic industrial pipe.

We did away with the worn carpet in the room, but failed in our attempt to daylight the original fir floor, which is buried under mid century linoleum.

Instead, we covered the whole mess with a plywood underlayment, and then I painted, stenciled, and protected the plywood with a finish.

I love all the space that I have in the large wardrobe, which we purchased from a private seller on Craigslist and then refurbished.  It’s a perfect width for the alcove space.  Above the wardrobe, baskets will hold things I rarely use – like ski gear and travel accessories.

In the northeast corner, we added a vintage leaded glass cabinet, which we rehabbed and then put on these turned legs so that it would be tall enough to clear the baseboard and fit snugly in the corner.

Years ago, we bought two of these cabinets at a garage sale for $5 apiece.  This cabinet’s mirror-image twin currently lives in our kitchen.

My vintage dolls and other little items were collecting dust in this room, and one of my goals for the remodel was to find a place where they could be displayed but protected from dust.  I also wanted a better system for organizing my jewelry.

The vintage cabinet meets both needs.  We added hooks to make necklaces easy to sort and find.

And all my little vintage items that used to drive me crazy have a home now.

I love how the north wall turned out.  It’s fun, it has character, yet it’s calm and uncluttered – a far cry from the chaos I had going on before.

Northeast wall before

Looking at these before photos again, it’s surprising to me how much larger this wall space looks now.

North wall after

 

 

 

We did keep the light fixture that was already in the room.  It was a recent upgrade – a vintage milk glass light.

The East Wall

The ceiling slopes all along the east wall.  There is a short door that leads to an attic space.  It’s a cheap, hollow-core door that is not original to the house.  It had a 1970s-era knob, flimsy hinges, and was framed in with tragically cheap molding.  Its only redeeming quality was the beveled dressing mirror.  Otherwise, it was very sad.

East wall before

Since the door is a custom size, Chris decided to rehab it instead of having a new one made.

He added 1920s moldings that he’d saved from another project, and he added vintage hardware that we already had on hand – including a petite vintage glass door knob that would fit well on this petite door.

He made this cheap hollow-core door look original to our house – all without spending a cent.

On the east wall, we turn to face the south wall.

The South Wall

The south wall is a strange part of the room that is not even four feet wide.  It’s a long, narrow alcove that felt even narrower because of where I had placed the tall dresser.

Southeast wall before

It was no fun trying to get anything out of these drawers.  And, as you can see, this is where the carpeting stopped and an area rug took over.  Pretty classy!

Here is the area now.

Southeast wall after

Since the overhead light is near the north wall, this part of the room was dark at night, so our one splurge for the room was to buy a 1920s-era sconce light, which had been professionally restored, from a salvage shop.

Restored 1920s sconce light

Up until yesterday, we were still working on this part of the room.  I decided at the last minute that a chair was needed here, but it would have to be very petite.

I had this little bentwood chair kicking around in our basement.  But of course it needed work, and I was still putting the final touches on my “ebonized” finish for it yesterday morning.  And the faux fur seat cover arrived just in time.

At the same salvage shop where we found the sconce light, we found two narrow kitchen cabinets that, rehabbed and put together with an old dresser from our basement, would work nicely for the space around the window.

 

 

Where these kitchen cabinets once held canned goods, they now will hold sweaters – or maybe handbags.

And the old dresser, with its inset drawers, looks identical to the original built-in cabinetry in our home.

 

We added glass cabinet knobs to all the pieces to match the cabinet hardware throughout the house.

And I lined all the shelves and drawers in this south wall installation with a retro-floral shelf paper that I just love.

It was easy to reposition – unlike some other shelf papers that I would end up wadding and throwing away in frustration.

So you might be wondering if I forgot to add wall art.  But actually I love this uncluttered look so much that I have no desire to hang anything on these soothing white walls.  I might change my mind at some point, but right now I can almost feel my blood pressure drop when I walk into this room.

Just Lucky

Seems some home improvement projects are difficult from the get-go.  But with other projects, things just fall into place.  With this project, I was lucky.

Lucky because the floor stencil measured out so perfectly for the room dimensions.

Lucky because we found, or already had on hand, cabinetry pieces that fit so well into the strange little spaces that we were working with.

But most of all lucky because Chris so good-naturedly embarked on this challenge with me.

Without his mad DIY skills and his honest, informed opinions, this project would never have gotten off the ground.

More To Come

After the holiday season, I’ll be sharing more about the revamp of the little bentwood chair, details about the door rehab, and how we made two kitchen cabinets and an old dresser look like built-ins.

Visit The Other Challenge Participants

This six-week challenge has been intense for both of us.  But it’s also been very rewarding.  Thanks to everyone who offered encouragement along the way.  It made a world of difference!

I can’t wait to check out the other final reveals happening through the One Room Challenge.  Participant reveals can be found here.

Sources

Icarus Tile Floor Stencil
Wardrobe:  Private seller via Craigslist
Vintage Sconce Light:  Second Use
Salvaged Kitchen Cabinets:   Second Use
Shoe Rack:  Target
Glass Cabinet Knobs:  House of Antique Hardware
Yifely Retro Floral Self-Adhesive Shelf Paper
Pipe Decor Dual Flange Style Garment Rack
Legs for Leaded Glass Cabinet:  BingLTD “Pauline” Sofa Legs
Junovo Premium Faux Fur Sheepskin Seat Cushion Chair Cover

The baskets above the wardrobe were a Marshall’s find, but similar covered baskets can be found here.

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 Shop
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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3 Ways To Make Your Home More Personal To You

To me, the best homes are the ones that are a comfortable extension of the person living there.  It’s fun to walk into someone’s home and learn more about them just by what they have chosen to display.  Those little personal touches are instant conversation starters.

So I thought this guest post, with simple ways to create a more personalized home, would be a fun one to share.

The following is a contributed post.  For more information on my contributed posts, please click here.

3 Ways To Make Your Home More Personal To You

There are many things that you might want to be able to say about your own home, but probably the most important is that you want your home to be a reflection of you – to be as personal to you as possible.

If it is not personal to you, if it looks and feels like just about anybody could be living there, then you are just not going to enjoy it as much. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to ensure that you can make your home personal to you and, as long as you are focused on these, you should be able to make your home a much happier place overall.

So let’s take a look at three of the best ways to make your home more personal to you.

Custom Design

One of the simplest ways, of course, is to put some thought and effort into customizing your home’s design. It’s easier than you might assume, yet the effect it will have is truly profound.

After all, it is going to mean that there is no other home in the world which is exactly like yours. A good way to start is to consider transforming the look of your home with custom paint and glass.   The impact of fresh paint and new windows can be truly amazing.  And, when you have those basic elements in place, they can serve as inspiration for personalizing your decor.  

Personalized Decor

Of course, it is also hugely important to make sure that you have a lot of personal reminders scattered throughout your home.  This will make it much easier to feel that your home really is a place for you and your family. It might simply mean displaying photos of friends, family, or even pets.  Or it might mean including those special little items that remind you of different times in your life – or the travels that you have been on. 

Consider displaying your child’s art work – or perhaps something that you have been collecting.  Think about bringing in a few house plants to soften the look – or simply a few flowers from your garden. 

You also might try rotating just a few decor items so that your home has a fresh look each season – without a lot of work on your part.

Comfortable Atmosphere

We’ve covered customizing your home’s design and personalizing its decor.  But what really makes for a happy home – the glue that holds it all together – is of course comfort.  More than anything else, creating a comfortable atmosphere will make you feel that your home is personal to you.  Think color, texture, lighting, fragrance.  And don’t forget the more practical considerations:  Room function, traffic flow, and temperature.  Creating a comfortable atmosphere is actually simple enough, and it’s mostly a case of ensuring that the way you live in your space – with whoever you live with – is a peaceful and engaged one.

That is going to make a huge difference indeed.

However you do it, personalizing your home will make you and your family happy to come home after a long day.

 

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

 

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 Shop
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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My Budget Halloween Decor

Last year at this time, Chris and I were on our European adventure.  It was well into October by the time we returned, and we were both playing catch-up after being gone for so long.

So I didn’t have a lot of time to focus on fall decor for my front porch, but I did pull together a quick and very inexpensive look for Halloween.  

I thought it would be fun to share it with you today.

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.

Dollar Store Skull Vignette

Over the years I’ve become very selective about how much decor I buy (and then have to store) for any given holiday. That’s one reason I like working with natural elements in fall decor:  When the season is over I just compost them. 

But I found a small Edwardian-looking skull at a dollar store that I could not resist.  It inspired my little front porch vignette.

I cut some florist foam to size and placed it into a little clay pedestal (it’s on the left in the photo).  Then I concealed the foam with sheet moss and pushed a small wooden stake through.  I placed the skull over the stake.  The stake would hold the skull in place.

Then I covered a large clay saucer with sheet moss.  This would serve as  the base for the vignette I was creating.

The vignette consisted of the skull on a fancy pedestal, a small white pumpkin, and my favorite creepy plant, a cushion bush (Calocephalus ‘Silver Stone’).

Then it was just a matter of shopping my own garden for twigs, mosses and lichens to add.

Looking at it now, I wish I would have put a bow tie on the “neck” of the skeleton.  Maybe this year.

 

A Viking Pumpkin

Last year I chose pumpkins with interesting stems.  I thought this one was fun.

 

And this one, with its crazy stem, would make a fierce viking.

By the time I was finished with him, he looked more punk rock than viking.  

I added some twine to his stem and put him on the same black-painted grape wreath that I used as a nest for my haunted hatchlings a few years back.

 

Masks

My summer plants were still going strong last October, so I dressed up a potted fuchsia with a mask that I had on hand.

Another mask that I found at the dollar store glammed up my lion statue.  

They greeted trick-or-treaters as they walked up the stairs.

I added a few creepy lights to the mix and I was done.  

I’d spent two dollars at the dollar store, and a bit more for some pumpkins.  The rest I had on hand.  

 

 

Fall decor might go by the wayside this year too because, in early October, I will be kicking off a (hopefully) fun special project – something that I’ve wanted to tackle for a long time.  So stay tuned!

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
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Dan’s Workshop
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Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
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Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
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A DIY Shatter-Resistant Garden Mirror

In my previous post, I shared my makeover of a dark shade garden.  That makeover included a DIY garden mirror that I hung on the back fence to bring in and reflect light.

Ideally a garden mirror, one that will stay out all summer, or possibly all year, should be shatterproof and weatherproof.  Now I’m not sure if the mirror I came up with really hits those marks, but I do know that it is shatter-resistant.  As for the rest, time will tell.

The project started with  . . .

Finding Frames

I scoured thrift shops to find a frame made of plastic, resin, or some other weather-resistant material.

I found these frames on sale at a local thrift shop and paid about $7 for the pair.  They had cheap, ugly “art” in them, which I removed.  I was only interested in the frames.

Thrift store frames

 

I bought two frames because I had a gut feeling that I should do a small test mirror first to avoid making mistakes on the “real” mirror.

Turned out I was so right about that – mistakes were made!  Very silly ones at that.

We will come back to the test mirror later, but for now we’ll talk about my experience with the larger frame – the one I worked on after I had learned from my mistakes.

Finding the “Glass”

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The large frame would hold a 18″ X 24″ piece of art – or, for my needs, a clear acrylic sheet.  I found one the right size at my local hardware store.

The acrylic sheet is lightweight, shatter-resistant, and non-yellowing.

Making an “Antique Mirror”

Step one of making an outdoor “antique mirror” is very, very important:  Put a piece of blue painter’s tape on one side of the acrylic sheet.

Blue tape marks the front side of the acrylic sheet

The blue tape marks the front side – the side that should not be painted.  Otherwise, things can get very confusing later in the project – especially if you’re me and you manage to find a way to lose track of which side of the sheet you were actually painting.  Since it’s a clear sheet, once you lose track it’s almost impossible to tell.

So anyway, blue tape.

 

With the front “blue tape” side of the mirror facing down, I spray painted the back side with Rust-Oleum Mirror Effect.  I chose it because I read that it gives glass the look of an antique mirror.

This paint has a heavy fume smell so, after a while, I decided to use a painter’s mask.  Some of the other paints and products I mention below are pretty intense too so, if you use them, be sure to read and follow the cautions on the labels.  I also tried to keep my painting project far away from things like bird feeders and bee activity.

Rust-Oleum Mirror Effect after one coat

(Please excuse my old-sheet-turned-dropcloth here which, as you can see, I have been using for years.  It’s starting to look like abstract art itself.)

It took quite a few coats of paint to actually cover the acrylic sheet.  And the paint looked a bit alarming when it was in the process of drying.

Rust-Oleum Mirror Effect dries unevenly, but not to worry

But I wasn’t going for perfection here.  I wanted it to be a bit imperfect and patinated so it would look like an antique mirror.

After about five coats, I could still vaguely see through the “mirror” when I held it up to fence where it would hang.  It needed a backing of some sort to make the “mirror” opaque.  So, after the mirror paint dried, I sprayed black paint right over the mirror paint.

Yes, I sprayed it on the same side of the acrylic sheet where I had sprayed the mirror paint.  This step was a bit counter-intuitive, and my paint-fume-soaked brain had a hard time grasping the concept.

 

I used RustOleum Engine Enamel, in gloss black, from my husband’s stash of spray paint only because I had it on hand and, since it’s intended to be used on engine parts, it seemed like it would be a durable paint.

Could I instead have used some sort of black weatherproof backing and just placed it in the frame behind the acrylic sheet?  That might have worked too. Or it might not have if, at some point, water found its way between the “mirror” and the backing and caused some sort of problem.  Since it’s an outdoor mirror, this could happen.

And this way just seemed like less work.

I let the “mirror” dry thoroughly.

 

The Garden Mirror – Or Not

I wasn’t sure how I would secure the “mirror” to the frame, but it turned out that I didn’t need to worry.  That piece of acrylic fits so snugly into the frame that it isn’t going anywhere.

If anything, it’s so snug that there is a slight bow in the acrylic sheet that, if it were any more pronounced, would give it a “funhouse mirror” look.

One reason I liked the frame that I found for the mirror was that it looked like black bamboo.  So I hadn’t intended to paint it.

But when I hung the mirror, I was underwhelmed.

DIY garden mirror

The frame looked boring and dated.

Back down it went – back to my much-used spray paint drop cloth.

Painting the Frame

It would have been really hard to get the acrylic sheet out of the frame again, so I just masked it with newspaper so I could spray paint the frame.

I used the sports section since I never read it.

I really should look through my husband’s paint stash more often.  This time I found another product intended for engine parts called Dupli-Color Adhesion Promoter.  I used it on the frame to make sure the spray paint would adhere properly to the plastic frame. (Time will tell if this step actually helped.)

Then I painted the frame with the RustOleum “Gold Rush” Metallic spray paint – which I had on hand.

The Result

Classic gold frames never go out of style.  And I love the contrast of the rustic fence against the polished gold.

Shatter-resistant DIY garden mirror

As for the mirror itself, it is not super-clear.  In fact, it is a bit hazy.  Everything reflected in it has a sort of “dreamlike” look.

 

Shatter-resistant DIY garden mirror

But I love how it brings light, interest, and even motion to a dark area of the garden.

This mirror does reflect a lot of light, so I would not want to use it in an area that gets direct sun.

Will it really hold up outside?  Time will tell.  But will a flying rock or errant softball break the “glass?”  Probably not.

The Test Mirror – And What Went Wrong

This is how the test mirror turned out.  It is the result of my doing everything wrong.

DIY garden mirror

What I think happened here is that I lost track of which side I had painted with the mirror paint.  And then, instead of painting the black paint on top of the mirror paint, I painted it on the reverse side of the “glass.”

To secure the mirror to the frame, I used a strong glue.  The glue seeped out along the sides and, when I wiped it away, some of the mirror paint actually came off with it, leaving black paint exposed.

DIY antique garden mirror

 

So this mirror has a lot of patina and looks very much like an antique mirror.  For this mirror, I used Krylon “Looking Glass” Silver paint, which to me seemed very similar to the Rust-Oleum Mirror Effect that I used on the large mirror.

I had experimented a bit by using a paper doily as a stencil, and the look is fun.

DIy antique garden mirror

 

But as you can see, the actual mirror part is very murky.  That’s because the mirror paint is sitting on top of the acrylic sheet instead of behind it.

For the right look, it’s always best to paint on the back side of the sheet.

Now I’m intrigued about the endless possibilities of DIY antique mirror projects.  I want to do a little experimenting using more stencils and finding new ways to create a patinated look.  I might even use real glass next time.

Where’s my blue tape?

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
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Releasing My Air Plants into the Wild – And a Spring Garden Tour

A while back, I briefly mentioned my current plant crush:  The air plant called Tillandsia usneoides (or live Spanish moss).  I’d been admiring these plants for some time, and recently I broke down and bought a few.

They are very versatile.  I even used one as the outer ring for my elevated tulips arrangement.

Elevated Tulips

Spanish moss is the mystical-looking stuff that hangs from live oak in the South.

At my house, it just hangs from a tall vase and resembles a beautiful sorceress.

Live Spanish moss
Fun trivia: Spanish moss is not really a moss, nor does it come from Spain.

 

Caring for My Spanish Moss

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Every couple of weeks, I soak the plants in water for six to eight hours.

Live Spanish moss soaking in water

Sometimes I toss a couple of small drops of plant fertilizer into the water.

After their long bath, I hang them to dry.

Live Spanish moss drip drying after soaking in water 6-8 hours
Live Spanish moss turns a beautiful shade of green when it’s wet.

Alternatively, I could mist the plants every 3 or 4 days.

This plant loves filtered sunlight and good air circulation.  In my climate, it yearns for the outdoors in spring and summer.

So recently, I decided to give the sorceress what she wanted.  I would release her into the wild.

 

Releasing My Air Plants Into the Wild

Of course it’s safety first for my beloved Spanish moss.  So the sorceress went only as far as my front porch, but at least she’s outdoors.

Live Spanish moss

 

She hangs from a potted corkscrew willow branch where soft breezes and morning sun can caress her.  My thought is that this closely resembles what she would be doing in her natural habitat.  And here, I can make sure she gets enough mist to (hopefully) stay happy and healthy.

Live Spanish moss

Kidding aside, I’m hoping to see this plant grow and multiply this summer.  With more of it, the decor possibilities are endless.

Will the birds try to use the Spanish moss for nesting material?  We will find out.  I’m whisking the sorceress indoors at the first sign of trouble.

But right now I think the lion likes her.

Front porch decor

 

porch

 

A Spring Garden Tour

These photos might have you thinking that I have some tiny modicum of  control over the garden, but don’t be fooled.  As always, chaos is winning.

So I have decided to just go with it.  If something wants to form drifts and take over, maybe that actually means less work for me?  I can kid myself anyway.

Urn in garden drifts

 

After all, it’s hard to get mad at the adorable sweet woodruff that has taken over my patio garden.

Sweet woodruff

 

Patio

 

Patio

 

Or the poppies that are everywhere.

Poppies

 

This time of year, everything is so fresh and green.

Birdbath

 

It’s amazing what a difference a couple of months can make.  Here is our front birdbath now.

Birdbath and peonies

 

And this is what it looked like during “The Big Snow” in February.

Birdbath in snow

 

And now in the shade garden, where the snow had flattened the undergrowth, the tiki is being taken over by hardy geranium.

Tiki
This Easter Island-inspired tiki was carved by Chris’s brother.

 

Over on the fence line, the bees are crazy about the blooming hebe.

fence

 

I am a pushover for topiaries because they can help bring a little structure and order to the chaos.  Recently I pruned this succulent (which spent the winter in the greenhouse) into an orderly shape.

Succulent

 

The peonies I planted last year are still scrawny, but I did get a beautiful blossom from one of them.

peony
The packaging for the peony tubers simply said “pink.” Imagine my surprise at this beauty.

This time of year, there is always plenty to do in the garden.  You could probably tell that I still have a lot of work left.  Gardening (or “taming the beast,” as I think of it) is the main reason that my blog posts are so few and far between in spring.

Thanks for visiting today and coming along on my spring garden tour.  If you get a chance, check out my Summer Gear page – one of the new “rooms” in my updated Shop.

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

Sources

Live Spanish moss  can be found in better plant nurseries or on Amazon.

 

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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A Tour of Erika’s Sunroom

Every now and then, I take my readers over to visit my mom Erika’s beautiful garden.  But today we’re headed inside her house to tour her charming sunroom.  

It’s my favorite room in her house and the one I always gravitate toward.  But it was not always like that. 

In fact, it was not always a sunroom.

A Porch Conversion

When Mom first moved into her mid century rambler, the sunroom was actually just a covered porch.

The original covered back porch.

Even though the porch was in dire need of a facelift (as was the rest of the house), it was a nice place to relax on a warm day.  But it wasn’t living up to its full potential.  Mom could almost hear the porch begging to be enclosed and converted to a sunroom that could be enjoyed year round. 

So that is exactly what she did.  She hired out some of the work, and she had some help from my brother Dan.  But she did much of the work herself – including installing the ceramic tile floor.

A door in the media room gives us access the sunroom.  Let’s go back in time to right after Mom got the house.  This was the media room then – and the door to what was then the covered porch.

Before improvements: The media room and the door to the covered porch.

 

The media room was probably the ugliest room in the house  – and if this photo isn’t proof that Mom is fearless, I don’t know what is.  (Actually, at the time I think we were all pretty excited about the potential of Mom’s cosmetic fixer.)

The Tour Begins

Of course, Mom immediately made improvements to the media room.  This is the entrance to the sunroom now.

media room after
The media room, after improvements, with the sunroom beyond.

 

The sunroom is long and narrow, so Mom divided it into three zones.

The Tea Room

Coming through the media room door, this is the first area we see.  

Sunroom

A corner of windows gives it abundant natural light.  When I visit Mom, especially on a rainy day, there is nothing I love more than to sip a cup of tea with her here.

 

Porch converted to a sunroom.

For a rustic contrast, Mom kept the original  pine ceiling.

If we turn toward the bank of windows, we have access to the outdoors.

Exit door of the sunroom.

And here I must mention that my brother Dan did the interior finish work on all the windows and doors.

Sunroom bank of windows.

He did a beautiful job of trimming them, and it was good practice for the stunning dining room conversion he undertook at his own house a few years later.

The Reading Area

If we turn from the tea room, we face a teak bench.  It serves as a reading area, but more importantly it helps to separate the potting area behind it from the tea room.  

teak bench

The bench divides and defines the spaces, yet it is low enough to allow ample light and a spacious feel.

Plus, no matter who you are, it is a nice place to relax.

Teak bench and our loyal buddy,

The Potting Area

The newest addition to Mom’s greenhouse is the bench that my father built years ago.  In my childhood home, this bench sat in the entry hall.

Mid century shoe bench before its facelift.

 

Mom replaced the cushioned seat with a laminate, added a little paint, and now the bench is part of her potting area.  It stores potting supplies, and the top can be used as a work surface.

Sunroom

And from the tea room, we don’t see the potting soil, empty pots, or hand trowels.

Sunroom potting area

But this is where plants are overwintered and tubers are started in Spring. 

Mom saves money by buying annuals in small six-packs (aka pony packs) and then separating them into 4-inch pots.  There they have room to grow and are protected in her sunroom until it’s warm enough to plant them outdoors.

 

A shelf in the corner holds decor and plants.

Asia-inspired shelf

 

It is still bright enough in this corner for the plants to thrive.

Plants on red shelf

 

Sun-loving plants are placed near the windows.

Sunroom

This concludes our little tour of Mom’s sunroom.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Sunroom

Now it’s time for Mom to relax a bit with her loyal companion before starting her next project.  But knowing Mom, she won’t be sitting for long.

Sunroom

Here are my previous posts about Mom’s home and garden:

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Did You Know

Mom is also a writer.  She currently has two books available on AmazonYear of the Angels, a touching historical fiction novel based on her real-life experiences during WWII, and Cries from the Fifth Floor, a fun paranormal thriller/murder mystery.

 

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

 

 

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

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


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