Friday, April 20, 2012

New Rug {finally}

Our front room, dubbed "the Book Room", is one of my favorite rooms of the house.  It's not entirely quiet since our house is very open... but it's great for reading and getting away for a little relaxation without being surrounded by DS sounds, hyper kids and loud kid's TV shows.  It's also my tan & black room.  I loved the way it looked... but it was missing something.  A rug.

This little bugger came into our life... ironically the same day I painted the Book Room.  :)

Lucy is a sweetheart, but was a stinker when it came to house training!  There was no way I was risking buying a rug only to toss it in the trash.  I lost our 8x10 shag rug in the family room due to this little bugger.  By the time I realized just where the stink was coming from, it was way too late.  Funny... shag rugs are fun to walk on, but "liquids" sink to the bottom and aren't easily seen!  It took us a long while to figure out that she'd been using our rug as her personal bathroom for weeks.

Well, a year later, I think we have it all worked out.  She's much better now, and rarely goes into that front room.

So, I took the plunge (cheap plunge) and bought a rug from Overstock.
It's an indoor/outdoor rug, but I wasn't looking for plush.  I wanted something with tan and black.  But most importantly, I needed CHEAP.  :)

Here's a brighter photo.

Our little dog, Aspen, died a month ago.  She was my first kid... 14.5 years old!  So, when she was gone, we removed the adorable "doggie throne" (first photo) since Lucy is too big for it.  I replaced it with a simple black chair.

This was a $2 yard sale find, spray-painted glossy black.  It goes well with my $2 yard-sale vase.  Not sure how much we'll use that chair, but it replaced the other chair just fine.

Oh! And we've had that rug for about a month now.  And no surprises!  YAY!  I'll still wait a little before we get the replacement shag rug... 8x10 is a little more expensive... and I really don't want to trash yet another one.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Breakfast Room Update

We have a door to nowhere, as many new-home owners may have.  You know the one... the pretty sliding doors that look out into the backyard... with the big ugly white gate stretched across it since the door is a story above ground!

We have no deck or stairs or anything outside that door... yet.  {should've bought a Mega-millions ticket... I KNOW I would've been a winner.}
Here is a shot of the doors when I hung up 40th birthday cards for my husband.  Those are simple brown curtains... nothing fancy.  Sort of "blah".  

So, rather than let that door sit there, bare, we have dressed it up a bit since it's on a big open wall.
After we painted the walls cream, it was time to address the problem of all-solids in our main floor.  
We bought these super sweet curtains at Target for just $20 a panel.  They are "Tan Henna", in case you are curious.  Since they are not lined, I simply attached them to the clips over the other brown curtains.  Perfect!  It gave the panels some more fullness AND the ability to darken better.  (The afternoon sun can be blinding through those doors!)

I made this sign.  SUPER easy, thanks to some directions on the Nate Berkus Show 
I simply bought a 6' length of 1"x6" select pine (I wanted a very flat piece of wood.)  

I painted it a dark gray (used up some extra paint from the office walls) in two coats.  Then I printed off the letters on my printer.  I lined up the letters on the board and traced them all, adjusting for better spacing when necessary.  When you trace the letters with a ballpoint pen, the wood becomes indented.  

After the tracing, I used some craft-store acrylic paint in sand-color to fill in the letters with a brush.  Next time I'll get a smaller brush, since it was tough in some areas, but that was my fault for being too impatient to wait to get a new brush.

The sand colored paint was a little gloppy in some areas and sparse in others, but I figured I was going to roughen it all up, so I wasn't concerned.  After the words dried, I pulled out a sanding block and roughed up the surfaces and corners and edges a bit.  Since I didn't paint two different colors, the sanding sometimes revealed bare wood.  So, I darkened the edges and the surfaces by rubbing the Distress Ink pad all over the sign lightly.  It picked up the corners easily and gave a bit of an aged look to the rest of the sign.  

After the Distress Ink dried, I sprayed the entire sign with a coat of acrylic sealer.  
Sorry I forgot to take step-by-step photos.  I was so giddy to get this sign done after we finally agreed on a phrase to go on it!

 Guess how I hung it up?

I put one on each top corner and one in the middle ... each with two nails to be a little more secure.  

To fill in the empty walls on other side...

I added a few frames.  I bought the frames at HomeGoods for $4 each... they were in the clearance area and were two different colors, but after repainting them and distressing them, they work!  Here are my girls.

And here are my boys.  

I had a simple red berry wreath on the doors, but I decided it wasn't very springy, so I added a few little doodads and leaves I got at Michaels yesterday.

I added another panel to my kitchen window, in order to match.  They didn't offer any other sizes and/or valances in this print, so we just bought another panel.

I inserted the tension rod, pinned the bottom part of the panel to the top with four safety pins, wrapped ribbon around the top and bottom and tied two pretty little bows.  Wah-lah... quick and easy valance from a full 84" panel!

Now that the room's walls are all prettied up with new wooden plaques and new dressed-up door, I think our breakfast room needs just one more thing....

Um... a table?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Ballard-Inspired Wood Plaques

I {heart} Ballard Designs catalog... and if I could actually afford their things, I'd probably decorate every single room with their styles.

Alas, I cannot... well, and still manage to feed my kids.

So, when I find something I REALLY like, I either wait for it to hit the outlet page, buy only the things under $30 (like my rubber doormat or small door rugs), or duplicate it myself.  

(Or just pout a little till the pain subsides.)

So, when I saw this....

I loved the idea of it.  Granted, they were the right size (about 8" square) and looked really cute... but I couldn't get over how much it looked like framed scrapbook paper.  I mean no disrespect toward the artist... they are beautiful.  But some scrapbook paper can look pretty doggone cool, too.

We recently (finally!) painted our kitchen walls.  Yes, I took a huge leap of faith and painted them "Water Chestnut".  Um, that means they went from white to cream.  :)  Here you can see that wildly daring color above the window.
Like my new Cricut words over the window?  We are big-time tea lovers here!  By the way, that red valance will be going soon.  Looking for more subtle colors.

Anyway, the walls were finally done, and we liked the simplicity of the Water Chesnut, but I needed to splash some color in the room.  Muted color, but color indeed.

So, I decided to make my own plaques... with my own choice of colors (and refused to pay $169 for the Ballard ones).

I bought a 6' length of 1"x8" pine board at Home Depot, and my dad cut it into squares (I think they were about 7.75" square when finished).  That gave me 9 squares.  

 Then I painted the squares' edges with some paint I had on hand.  I think it was the color of our family room.  :)  I painted a little on the face of each too, since I didn't expect the paper to be the exact size of each square.

Here, my daughter is beginning to Mod Podge the squares.  We coated each square with a thin, but complete coat of Mod Podge (not too thick).

Then we applied the cut paper we chose.  I was aiming for some simple patterns, but in the greens, rusts, and neutrals that we have throughout our main floor.

After they were all covered and dried (overnight), we applied one more coat of Mod Podge to the top.  I'm not great with this.  Somehow a few still ended up puckering and bubbling.  Ugh.  No worries... I worked with it.

Then I pulled out my "Distress Ink" ink pad and rubbed it along the edges and corners.  Then I lightly smoothed it over the surface of each square.  Guess what that did?  It highlighted those weird bubbles and puckers.  The cool thing is that instead of bringing attention to the puckered paper and showing "Here... look, she screwed up and made bubbles", the brown ink hid those bubbles under the distressing looks.

Here's a typical side-view.

Here are all of the plaques. (See in a few the brown lines?  Those are the ink-covered bubbles.)

I needed a way to hang them up... and didn't have any picture hardware on hand.  So, I turned to my daughter's huge jar of pop-tops.  

I nailed each one on by allowing about 1/16" on the side and top and nailing at the solid piece.

Here they are hanging on my kitchen wall.... now for a neat way to decorate that new table over the dog crate....

Up close....

And a side view.  Love the distressed look.

Super easy, and a great way to incorporate your favorite colors into a wall display.  I think I paid less than $16 for all of this (one-tenth of the Ballard price).  $12 for the wood (I got select pine, to make sure it was very straight.)  I had Mod Podge on hand, and the scrapbook paper was less than 50 cents apiece.