Design Tips

I have been getting into design a lot lately. I am definitely a novice at best and love getting new ideas and tips on how I can make my home feel and look more cohesive. I know that I will always have some project in progress and my likes/dislikes will be constantly changing; but its good to have some basic strategy points to help guide the direction I take with any room design.

Right now, the two biggest things that have been inspiring me in terms of design have been The Nate Berkus Show and following a couple blogs that are speaking to me at the moment. Its been fun to implement some of the tips I have gleaned from these resources. Just recently on The Nate Berkus Show, he was talking about some questions to ask yourself when you are redesigning a space that I felt I should write down for future reference.

  • What are your favorite colors?
  • How do you want this space to feel when you walk into it?
  • What words would you use to describe the feeling you want to invoke in that space?

These are all good tips when it comes to redesigning any space in your home. Lately I feel that having a concrete idea down on paper or even on a virtual pinboard is very helpful in seeing the end result. This helps keep everyone on track and most importantly, on budget.

What are some tips you have that help guide your remodel plans?

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Kitchen Remodel: Part 1

This is Part 1 of our kitchen remodel. Funding and the lack of motivation kept us from completing this entire project at one time. As you can see below, this kitchen really needed a makeover. We did all the work ourselves and in the middle of the summer so we could utilize the BBQ to make dinner as some nights our kitchen was completely non functional.

The cabinetry was a dark brown laminate wood that we buffed with a sander then primed and painted with Valspar Antique White. We wanted a lighter space and felt that the dark cabinets really made the whole area feel heavy. I also knew that I didn’t want just white cabinets; it needed some dimension. I looked at glazing over the white but in the end decided to just use some stain instead. I felt the shine of the glaze would be too much for the space as well as adding a whole additional step that was a lot more work than I was willing to do. I found new hardware to match the hinges on the doors. We decided to not replace them because the hinges slipped into grooves that were in the frame of the cabinet. Replacing them meant tearing down the entire cabinet, which we were not willing to do.

We also changed the counter tops to a darker color to help hide any stains that might occur. The old counters were white and the years of use really started to show and make them feel outdated as well as grungy. Hubby found a way to cover the existing counter tops with our new Jamocha Granite laminate material. We loved how it brought the different colors of the room together as well as making it feel more updated. We decided to install bead board as a back splash and to the ends of the cabinets to make them feel more like pieces of furniture and to give the space more texture. The walls were painted with Sherwin Williams Softer Tan to match the existing dining room walls.

Looking back at the before pictures still shocks me. I do remember walking into the room the next day after everything was put back up and feeling like I was in a completely different house. It really is amazing what a little bit of paint can do.

Stay tuned for the rest of our Kitchen Remodel.

What are some of your inspirational photos and tips?

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Make Your Own Wool Dryer Balls

Our laundry routine has changed a lot as a result of our decision to cloth diaper and in doing so I thought I would share one project that goes along with how we wash clothing in our home. This is a project that I had on my list to do for well over 6 months! Since it is so simple, it kept getting pushed aside to make room for other projects instead. However, with numerous grumbles about static amongst our clothing, I knew I needed to make these wool dryer balls quickly. The main reason behind us not using dryer sheets is we cloth diaper and the sheets can lead to build up on our diapers which leads to leaking. I have only used these dryer balls for a couple of weeks so I have not noticed dramatic results, while there still is static in some of our loads, I do think there is less static than before.

To make these dryer balls you will need:

100% wool yarn or yarn that is good for felting (make sure you read the label carefully, some yarn appeared to be wool to me but when I looked at the label it was not)

pair of pantyhose or a tube sock (I did not have good results with the tube sock, but its worth a shot if that is all you have on hand)

small pieces of yarn to tie off the pantyhose between each ball

tweezers or a crochet hook

To start your ball core, wrap the yarn around your fingers a few times then carefully remove it and pinch it together. Now continue to wrap the yarn around itself creating a misshaped ball.

Continue to wind the yarn carefully and tightly till you get a ball size to your liking. I was not very methodical in how I wrapped my yarn so it will be interesting to see how much that effects their durability in the future.

Make sure that when you are making the core balls that you leave enough yarn to make another layer. You can also buy more yarn if you run out as well, but I only had this skein and knew that my store no longer carried this brand since I have had it for a long time; plus I was being lazy.

I found that using tweezers instead of a crochet hook worked to help tuck the loose strand into the ball. I made sure to completely cover it so that I didn’t have to worry about it unraveling or end up sticking out after I felted it.

Once you have your core balls made, place them in the pantyhose or tube sock separating each one with a small piece of string. It will look like a caterpillar. Then throw it in the washing machine on the hot cycle. This will help make the felting process work faster. After the wash cycle dry it on the hottest setting in your dryer. When they are dry, you should be able to notice the felting and all the strands of yarn should not slip off the ball.

I have started to add more yarn to the core balls in the photo above. You can see how the other two balls look smoother and the strands of yarn are not as pronounced-this is what the felting process looks like. Repeat the same steps above to finish the project.

So far they have held up in the dryer quite well. As you continue to use them, they will continue to get harder. I am interested to see how well these continue to work.

Have you found new ways to stream line your laundry routine?

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Christmas Book Advent Calendar

A few years ago when I did not have a child, I came across this idea for an advent calendar and totally fell in love. I love children’s books and anything about Christmas so the two together was just brilliant! I filed it away to use when I was fortunate to become a mother and I finally get to do it this year!

I used to teach elementary students so I already had a bunch of books from those days. Even going through my stash I came up with only 15 books. Looking through them I know that I would like to replace some of them with a few more classics like Polar Express but for now they will work. Isn’t this edition that my husband grew up with charming? I love that it has history in his holiday traditions growing up and now will part of ours.

My plan is to read a new book every other day and then once a day a few days before Christmas. I already know that this plan will change for the years to follow when more books are added in, but we will see how it works for this year. Either way I am very excited to do this and hope it will be a new tradition that leads to great holiday memories for years to come.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

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Fishing Pail Lamp Shade Makeover

My love of vintage and antique items definitely came from my parents. I grew up around items that most kids my age didn’t have a clue about let alone appreciate. Lately my parents have been going to auctions and finding a bunch of awesome stuff, which I am very jealous about. So, while they were visiting over the Thanksgiving holiday we all had to go out to a local antique store to see what they had to offer. Finding items that my parents couldn’t live without but still fit into a suitcase to take home was definitely challenging, but it was still a fun day.

The biggest thing that I found was an old fishing pail that I transformed into a lampshade. I have been noticing this look all throughout blog land and in certain catalogs. There was also a booth at the antique store that was selling similar lamps but with more frills to them. I have had this lamp for years but have never liked the look of it, consequently it ended up in my bedroom where no one else could see it. Now that it is in a more public viewing area, ie. my living room, I knew it needed an update. Took me over two years to finally do something though!

When my parents and I got home I couldnt wait to get started on my lamp make over. Lucky for me my dad was a good sport and helped me out, even with all the timeouts for taking photos. He was also the mastermind behind drilling a hole in the bottom of the pail. I originally wanted the top to be used for the bottom but it was too wobbly and just didnt work.

This was a very basic project and took literally 5 minutes to make. It might have been faster if our drill battery didn’t keep dying on us. Luckily there was an extra one that had more juice. Make sure that your item that is going to be the lampshade is clean and ready to be installed afterwards.

We also matched up our circle saw to the size of the shade ring from the old lamp shade. This allowed us to secure the whole thing together. Depending on what you have to work with, you may or may not have to do this step.

This is looking down into the pail. Our hole is already drilled and the pail is sitting on top of the stand. Now all that we did was screw on the shade ring and then put in the light bulb to finish it off.


The shade ring keeps the pail in place and the top has a bit of character with the lid popped open like this. For now I am leaving it as is, but I may find that I don’t like staring at a naked light bulb and may enclose it with parchment paper or fabric to hide it.

Do you have a project that needs to be done and are just waiting for the right piece of inspiration? Share your thoughts, frustrations and success stories with us!

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Vintage Silverware Napkin Holders

Thanks to all your comments! I love that I was able to inspire you with something new. Here is the tutorial I promised about the napkin holders.

Here is the line up. Spoons, big headed hammer, a flat surface to pound on, letter stamping kit and a sharpie marker.

I started with some spoons that I have had lying around for years. You can also use any pieces you have on hand or ones you found at a thrift/antique store. As you can see, I opted to not polish mine as I liked the natural patina these had; but you can easily polish your silverware if that is the look you are going for.

I apparently got so involved in the hammering process that I forgot to take any pics of the flattening process. Oops! Hopefully you can picture the rest in your head, so here goes. I used a hammer with a bigger head to help flatten faster. I also found that I had to work around the edges and slowly meet in the middle. Flipping the spoon back and forth also helped as the spoon would slowly bend upwards as I hammered. Remember to take your time and slowly work with your material. Some of them still turned out with a few ripples, but I was ok with that as that was the best I could do. Plus I am a wuss and was getting tired from all the pounding.

Next, I also chose to stamp out the words for numbers 1-6. I wanted to be able to utilize them for other holidays and felt “give thanks” or something along those lines would be too Thanksgiving specific. But the beauty of this idea is you can stamp anything;

  • Names of your guests would be very charming. They could then take it home with them as a favor.
  • Give Thanks or other words for gratitude.
  • Eat in different languages
  • A favorite quote or Bible verse, depending on your available space.
  • If you have an engraver, you could try engraving a picture or symbol.

Be creative with it and have fun! No matter what you chose, it will definitely be a conversation starter.

To make the letters stand out I used a sharpie marker to trace over them and then rubbed it off. The ink stayed in the indentation of the letter and made it easier to read.

I debated for awhile how I wanted to shape these spoons. In the end I decided to bend them in half making a U shape that I could slip my napkin into. The nature of my spoon ultimately led to this decision. If you want a true ring I would suggest using pliers and wrapping your spoon around a bar or whatever you have on hand to give you a smooth circle. I used the handle of my hammer to help bend my spoon but was not too sure how well it would make a circle. Again, work slowly with your material and use what you have on hand to help guide your shape.

I would love to see your results so be sure to leave a link to your picture in the comments section.

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Thanksgiving Table

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought I would put together a tablescape that would possibly inspire you to do something new and or different for your table this year. For the first time in a couple years I will have company over for the holiday. I am excited but at the same time I have to kick everything up a notch and have a menu planned as well as an attractive place to eat. When it was just my husband and I we really didn’t worry about any of that. In fact, last year we went camping in an A line camper and practically froze while trying to fry our turkey. It got so cold that even my contact lenses froze overnight. But that is another story for a different time. Anyways, I knew that I had to have an awesome table to welcome our guests.

After becoming a mother for the first time, I have noticed that a lot of my focus has been on keeping things simple. It must be from the lack of spare time to work on things, but either way keeping my decor to a minimum has been very liberating for me and I find myself trying to reduce a lot of other areas in my life as well. It is definitely a challenge, but also very freeing.

First things first, I started with a neutral base as my tablecloth. I am a huge fan of drop cloths lately. They give the right amount of rustic charm as well as a smoother texture than burlap. It also helps that they are already hemmed so I don’t have to worry about wayward strings or getting out my sewing machine. They are easy to clean and can be reused in multiple ways. Recently I have also transitioned into white dishes. I feel this allows me to use them for every holiday and it is easier to add a few small touches of color in the napkin or centerpiece that reflects the holiday instead of having a cabinet full of different colored dishes. It also allows the food to be the main focus of the table, which I feel should always be the focus. To help separate the plates from the tablecloth, I added dark brown woven grass chargers. I found them a few years ago in the bargain section of my local big box store. To add a bit of nature, I filled the bottom of a chicken feeder with coffee beans and added a few tiny pine cones. I already had them on hand, but you can find them outside if you are lucky enough to live close to trees or at your local craft store. Simple white candles wrapped in jute add the finishing touch to my centerpiece.

I also added a touch of color to my tablescape by using some gold napkins. I had some vintage silverware that I turned into napkin rings. I love the unexpected look the flattened spoon gives to the table. It is also one of the first things you notice when you look at each place setting that sets the tone for the rest of the meal.

I hope you found something to inspire your table this year. Check back later for a brief tutorial on how to make napkin rings from vintage silverware.

Who will you be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with?

Linking up to: Creative Me Monday, Inspire Me Monday

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Fall Mantle

I love changing my mantle to reflect the seasons. It is such a nice change of pace from the rest of my home. Plus it is a fast fix to make the room feel different without having to move a lot of furniture around. I have found that lately I am sticking to just a few items, unlike years past where I have packed as much stuff on the mantle as I possibly could. The simplicity of it all really appeals to me right now.

Shopping the house is always my main focus when I am putting together a new mantlescape. Recently I purchased a grapevine wreath but decided to leave it alone and not decorate it with anything. Again, the simplicity of it really works for me right now. I love to display elements that reflect what reminds me of the season. Fall is also a great time to play a tribute to the hunter in your life by making a mini exhibit of the antlers, feathers, or mounts that they have collected from their hunting trips.

Happy Fall everyone!!

What pieces or items inspire you this season?

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Pumpkin Oatmeal

Mmmm! Fall is finally here and I am very excited about it. What’s not to love about the cooler weather, changing leaf colors, and pumpkin?! In honor of those orange spheres of goodness, I am sharing a recipe that I came up with a few weeks ago and have been enjoying every morning with a big mug of steaming hot coffee.

Pumpkin Oatmeal

1/2 cup oatmeal

1 heaping Tablespoon of pumpkin puree

sprinkle of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice

dash of salt

brown sugar to taste

Fill your bowl with all the ingredients then cover the mixture with water. I cook it until the water is gone, which for me is about 2 minutes. I have an ancient microwave so things always take longer to cook, so you may have to adjust your cooking time.


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Farmhouse Table Makeover

I am continuing my posts on past DIY projects. We have built up quite a few posts (3+ years worth!) and it will keep me busy getting this blog caught up with them all. It has been a lot of fun going back into my personal archives to find these projects for you to see and hopefully be inspired by. With that in mind I am pleasantly surprised at how well I did document some of the steps. I will do my best to remember as many details as I can.

I have had this table for years. My parents found it at a thrift store and we jumped on the price-$70 for the table and four chairs. At the time I really didn’t know what my style was or have one for that matter, so I lived with it. Fast forward a few years involving getting married and moving a few times and now that poor table felt outdated. The wood was too light for me and the fact that the chairs never quite matched really started to stick out in my mind. I knew I wanted something different, but wasn’t willing to spend hundreds of dollars buying something new. At the time farmhouse tables were just starting to pop up on blogs but it still was not a huge success like it is now. I found one site that explained how they updated their old table and I knew we could do something similar. I do not remember what site it was but now its easy to search for directions as there are a lot of tutorials on this idea. Below is not technically a tutorial but it shows a few steps of our process-hope this helps.

First we took the existing table apart to get a better feel for the construction. Then we headed to Lowe’s to purchase the necessary wood. We bought 2×8 pine and cut them to length and made a new top to go on the existing legs. Deciding to use the existing legs saved us time and money. The leg design is not a traditional farmhouse look, but their simple curves did not scream for attention or steal away from the over all look so we left them. One tip we always try to do when buying wood from the lumber yard is thoroughly look over each piece. A lot of them are warped or have difficult knots to work around or other imperfections. I usually don’t mind this look, but sometimes you might not. Don’t be afraid to go through the whole stack to get what you want, you will be happy you spent the time finding quality pieces. Unfortunately some of our pieces were twisted on one end so we had to weight down the boards for about a week to help them straighten/flatten out. We looked through the whole stack too, so sometimes that is as good as it gets. Plus I didn’t want to wait any longer for a different batch to come in, I had waited too long as it was so I was very impatient… I’m working on it.

Removing the old table top and using it as a template helped us to make sure we were not compromising the size. It also helped weigh down the new boards to straighten them. You can also see the added supports we installed to help balance the increased weight of the pine boards. We knew that we needed the durability that 2×8 pine provided. 1×8 pine was too small and its depth was not up to scale with the rest of the table.

In the beginning I debated on whether to paint the bottom of the table support and the legs a different color or use plain old black. I decided to use semi gloss black in hopes it would be neutral enough to go with additional furniture pieces that I would be adding to my home as time went on. Looking back, I am glad I decided to do this as I have started to hone in on my style since making this and the design has still fit in beautifully with all my new pieces.

One of the things I did not like about our old table was the light wood color. This knowledge prompted me to decide on the darkest stain our local hardware store carried. Minwax Dark Walnut was what we chose and it turned out perfect. We did apply two coats as well as three coats of polyurethane in case you were wondering.

I grew up in the mountains so I have always been drawn to rustic and lived in furniture. Lucky for me, my husband is pretty much a mountain man and likes this look as well. In order to keep that look we used hammers, chisels, screws and a wedge to distress and add visual interest to the table top. I also distressed the legs a bit to match. It was hard to get a good photo showing the different marks.

I also had this console table that we constructed years ago, before blogs or anything like that so sadly I do not have any photos showing how we made this one. At the time I really liked the green color and light wood but knew it would now stick out against the new table so it got the same type of makeover.

Ah! So much better. I painted over the green with the same semi gloss black paint. I sanded the top and distressed it to match the table. Applied some stain and poly and now it is the perfect mate to an awesome farmhouse table.

I hope this post helped you to see how easy it was for us to update a piece of furniture that still had many years of life in it, but the style was not quite right.

Do you have a piece of furniture that you like but don’t completely love? Go ahead and give it a facelift! You will be glad you did and wonder why you didn’t think of it sooner. If so, come back and tell us about it. We love to see your before and afters!

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