Call it a compilation of all the crazy projects I've come up with over the years. Call it a how-to for things around the house. Call it whatever you like :) It's what I do everyday. My blog is really just a way for me to share what I've learned over the years about home improvement, interior design, organization, diy, crafting and home repair. And most importantly it comes from always working on a budget and forever wanting to fend for myself when it comes to anything. I hope you enjoy (and learn a few things along the way :)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Window valance using raw fabric, ring clips and curtain tie backs (no-sew)

This is my super quick fix for a window covering in my kitchen. I bought some remnant fabric at Hobby Lobby. I used four ring clips and four curtain tie backs I already had to hang it.  On the fabric, the salvage edge was frayed but sewn so it wouldn't run any further, so I used that as the bottom edge.

To finish off the two side and top edges, I sealed them with a lighter (slightly melting the very edge to stop from fraying...luckily the fabric type allowed for that).

The clips are evenly placed about an inch down from the top edge (just pinch & clip).  Hopefully the photo helps explain that visually.

I then hug them on these curtain tie backs I had.  Another idea instead of curtain tie backs is cabinet knobs (see my previous post for how to).  Or even decorative hooks!

Bathroom door signs

Add a little decor in your hallways full of doors, and help your guests find your bathrooms.

The bathrooms my guests use upstairs and down are both in walkways with two or three doors. To alleviate the "try a door until you get the right one" phenomena, I hung a "Powder Room" and "Toilette" sign on each door to help people find the rooms with a little less confusion. Plus they are a nice decoration where there is no wall space to decorate.

I found mine at Hobby Lobby and Ross and hung them with double sided foam tape. They've hung for years with no incident of falling.

Pantry door chalk board

This is a super easy chalk board project that we LOVE on the inside of our pantry door, so you don't see it if it is closed.

I used one role of sheet metal from Home Depot (I think its in the ductwork section) to create the "board" and cut it to fit above and below the door knob on my pantry (I used utility scissors from the dollar store to cut it, but wear some sort of gloves to handle it so you don't cut yourself). You could use non-metal if you don't care if it is magnetic, or are willing to paint with magnetic paint, too.  When you go to measure everything, make sure you measure from inside the pantry.  You want the measurements to clear the frame moldings when the door is shut.

I spray painted it with one can of chalk board spray paint in black (here's a link Chalkboard Spray Paint ).  I used double sided foam tape to hang it on the door.  My doors are six panel, so make sure the tape is placed where it will hit the door.  The metal is thick enough that it doesn't "collapse" or bend in when you write on it over the panel relief.

Then I used very small flat molding (I think it's called screen molding but not sure; its in the wood molding aisle sold by the foot) and cut it to frame each piece of chalk board (cut it a little big, so there is room on the side of the metal to attach it to the door...if you cut it exact you'll have a hard time attaching it, and you'll be able to see the metal from the side.). I painted that trim with the cheap black flat spray paint before I put it on.

I installed the pieces with my staple gun (mine also shoots small nails, so I used those). You could use regular brad nails or a HOT glue gun, low temp one didn't work.  I did have to countersink a few nails that didn't go all the way in, then touched up the nail heads with a black permanent market.

I wanted something to keep the chalk in, so I used a cup from an old dish drain I had and hung that on the door between the two pieces.  You could use anything really.  This cup had the hook to hang on the drain, so I just mounted a piece of trim and hung it on that.

Lastly I suggest a chalk marker for things you don't want to get erased (daily chore lists, calendar borders, etc.). That has to be cleaned off with a wet magic eraser.  Chalk Marker

We mainly use magnets on the top portion for papers we need.  The bottom is the chore list, activities schedule and fine arts schedule in chalk marker.  Then my girls can cross out as they do their chores, erase when they are done, then the list is there for the next day.

Hope this helps you get started!  Happy building : )

Friday, January 27, 2012

Best girls book I have seen in a while, Smile by Raina Telgemeier

My daughters discovered this book at their last book fair, but it was sold out before their class went. We finally checked it out at our library and neither could put it down. In one day each, both girls plowed through it every spare minute they had. Several times they even stopped to tell me a funny scene... "that sounds just like daddy", "that's just like us". I truly hope she is writing more books soon. Just so you know it is a graphic novel but looks like comics not anime, and it is thicker. Cute story about a girl and a tooth incident. Anyway, here's a link on amazon, very inexpensive for a book your daughter will LOVE. Mine are 12 and 9 for your reference.

Smile at Amazon

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Easy Adorable Waves!

My girls LOVE to do their hair in different ways, so one day I picked up a triple barrel curler to give it a try.  After a brief reading of the instructions, it looked this cute after the first attempt!

This is what we's by Conair and ceramic.

Conair CD400R You Wave 3-barrel Ceramic Styler, Orange

This has to be the easiest way to do dramatic wave curls I have ever tried.  Literally just take a strand about 1 inch wide, close it "flat-iron style" over the hair at the scalp, then move down the strand (overlaping to keep it neat).  Even did it on myself very easily (you do need a mirror to see where to place it next). The application reminds me of the way you krimped way back when.

I immediately told my friends with girls about this one!

One way to elevate the height of your windows

So we all know we are supposed to hang our drapes to the ceiling now, but what if you already had your drapes hung lower? Why not add a piece of iron or a wall plaque over the window to help make it look higher. Then you don't have to buy new drapes or add a piece of fabric to the ones you have now AND you don't have to move the rod and patch wall holes!

This is in my master.  I only used one panel because the windows flank my bed.

These pieces came from my old house where I had half-round windows over my windows in my living room. Had to use them somewhere :) 

There is a space between the rod and the piece.  Jut couldn't capture it with the glare from the window.  Wait until you hear what I made the curtain rod out of (that's another post).

Hanging iron pieces in windows

Like a lot of people, I have numerous windows in my home that are over doors or other windows or just in an odd place that can't be treated with drapes. Why not fill them with an iron piece to help make them more decorative. Just take your measurements and account for any odd shapes.  They can be set in the opening or hung.  It depends on how much of a ledge you have or if you have a lot of movement in the wall (doors closing, etc.)

This is an odd modern-shaped octagon window I have in my non-modern house. I used a bold graphic circle piece to try to draw the eye away from the shape of the window.  It was a frame to a broken mirror in an as-is section.  It is hung with a single hook using the mirror's original hanging hole.

This is over my front door and is an eyebrow window. I needed a cascading piece to account for the arch.  This is just leaned in the window (it is lighter and has never even moved no matter how much the door has been opened and closed).

This is over my study doors and was originally filled with a "lovely" etched glass piece. After I replaced the glass myself (that will be another post), I hung this piece to give the blank area some interest. Double duty because it can be seen from both the study and the master bedroom.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hall closet organizers

These are dollar store pocket organizers I found. Staple gunned them to the inside of my coat closet. Super inexpensive storage solution for gloves, scarves, hats, earmuffs, etc. $4 later and we are no longer hunting for our cold weather accessories. We use an armoire for our stuff, but it would work just as well on a real closet door (you could fit more than I did :)

Adorable kids bouquet

Just came from a friends house, and her daughter had this adorable bouquet delivered. Real gerber daisies with googley eyes and pipe cleaner mouths put on them. So cute.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Using iron wall art as a ceiling medallion

You can probably tell I'm a fan of ceiling medallions. In this instance, this is my living room. I have high, valuted ceilings with absolutely no detail (I know ceilings usually don't have anything on them :), but in this case it's almost overwhelming to have so much space when you walk in that looks just plain vanilla.

I wasn't 100% in love with the fan, but it wasn't the finish that was bothering me (at least black with dark wood blades is neutral and goes with my decor). I immediately thought wood beams (a huge trend in my area), but that was way out of my budget. So, then I thought, why not another ceiling medallion. With so much ceiling, I knew that it was going to have to be big, but not super heavy, visually. That's what led me to iron scrollwork. Large but airy. This is what I found:

I happened upon this piece at Kirklands and hoped it would work. It was round, very large (almost four feet), and it even had a hole in the middle. That's a rarity, though many of the round pieces I have or have seen do have a center medallion that can be removed or at least knocked out. The best part was that it was only $29.99. Now came the test, was the hole big enough to accommodate the fan.

I borrowed an high A-frame ladder (it needed to be 10 or 12 feet, and the highest I have is 6). A few calls to friends with high ceilings, and I had one (always borrow when you can). Now the fun part, taking the fan down. I've done this before so I knew how, just not that high in the air :). After carefully and slowly getting that heavy, long-poled thing to the ground, it was time to see if the medallion would even work. Luckily this style of fan had a ceiling plate that mounted to the box, and then the cap screwed onto it from the side.

Like This

                      Vs. this which I'm used to (but trust me, I would have made it work if it was like this)

So I headed up with the ceiling medallion and plate. It wasn't easy but I managed to get the ceiling medallion flat against the ceiling with my left forearm, then the plate under it with my left hand and start one screw with the right hand so it would hold. Luckily the iron is hollow, so it wasn't so heavy that there was no way I was going to do it. Next I started the second screw, then began the process of raising every thing by screwing each one in a little at a time. Once it was up, I truly couldn't believe it. Just a matter of bringing the fan back up, hooking it in, rewiring, putting the cap on, then back down to admire my HARD work.

I was afraid the fan would be unbalanced when all was said and done, but it must be a good fan, because it wasn't. I adore the results, even though I still want beams! Most importantly, I think this was the project that made me realize, I probably could do anything around my house if I just put my mind to it!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hang a chandelier over your stove...or anywhere in your kitchen for that matter!

This may not apply to everyone, but if you have an alcove with a stove (like in my case) or a sink or a cabinet, why not switch out the light for a chandelier!

I picked this one up on a Target clearance not even knowing where I was going to hang it.  In my case this brick stovetop enclosure had an ugly florescent light hanging up inside for task lighting. 

I got a ladder situated to go up in the opening, took the florescent light down, added the new chandelier and completely changed the look of my stove for maybe $15!

Maybe hang one over your island or over your corner sink.  It doesn't have to be an alcove.  You can even change out a can light without the help of an electrician with those new kits they have at Lowes and Home Depot.  Heck, hang it in your pantry.  It's about making your house feel luxurious without spending much!

Now, it's time for everyone to walk around their house to find a place for a chandelier : )

Hanging wall art between drapes (to fill large blank wall spaces)

So with the new trend to hang drapes to the ceiling, I have found that you are often left with large wall spaces between drapery panels if the window your are treating is quite a bit lower than the ceiling. 

To expand upon the post below, once I hung the drapes with the cabinet knobs, I decided the bare wall space in between was just too plain.  I found these cute rectangular wall plaques at Hobby Lobby and hung them in between to help "fill" the gap and just make the window treatment more "complete".  You could hang anything abstract really (an iron piece, a metal piece, a mirror, ceiling tins, etc.)

Who knows, maybe this tip might just give your current window treatments a new lease on life, so they seem "new" without redoing them completely.  Of course, I just use tips as a reason to get out and go shopping : )

Using cabinet knobs to hang drapes

I'm always looking for a creative way to make my windows look different than the standard pole and drape.  I like that look but just don't want it in every room.  In this case I had a window seat in my game room that needed some warming up.  It has a small header above the drapes to work with.  Looking for inexpensive options, I realized cabinet knobs are cheap (or at least some are).  All 15 of these were less than $10 at a local building supply surplus store we have.  Very easy to install. 

You do need to also buy those double sided screws that are a screw on one end and a bolt on the other (They are called hanger bolts).  Just take the cabinet knob over to the hardware section to get the right size double sided screw for your knob.  They sell them individually or in packs (just get the best priced one : )  This is what they look like.

You screw the bolt end into the knob, then the screw end into the wall.  Took maybe 10 minutes to hang these (might take a little longer if you run into metal or difficult studs and need a drill).  Hope this gives you some ideas of drapery hanging alternatives : )

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Using an old frame as a ceiling medallion

This is the ceiling fan in my study.  The fan was already this color, but the little ceiling fan caps they hang from always look so wimpy to me on those big plain ceilings holding those big fans.

I found a broken mirror in the Garden Ridge scratch and dent section, but loved the oval iron frame.  Hung it with those plastic mirror clips (took them off of my bathroom mirror before I framed it, so I had them around : )  Painted the clips and the ceiling (between the cap and the frame) to sort of match the fan finish.  I did a base coat of a brown and then dry-brushed the black over it.

I can hardly believe it turned out so well.  I always assume in the middle of the project that it is going to look bad and need to come down.  Thank goodness I liked it : )

I will admit that I also changed the light kit, but that's another post : )

Basketball Cake - Easiest I've ever made!!!

This I had to share.  From my daughter's High School Musical era, but it could be good for any sports themed party.

Bake the cake in a Pyrex Bowl.

Color Cream Cheese Icing with red & yellow food coloring and ice.

Pipe with a very small tube of black ready-made icing (simple plus sign, then add two arched lines)

Add any appropriate "Team" letter in the right color (child's initial, your child's basketball team letter, their favorite pro team letter, etc.)  I again used a small tube of red ready-made icing.

I could not believe how cute it turned out for something so simple.

(I added the four little paper logos for fun from the invitation and thank you note those who didn't know what HSM was would get why my girly daughter had a sports themed cake : )

Iphone gloves

Ok, my first "products I love" post. I just love these smart phone gloves, and they are a great price on Amazon! I didn't even realize you couldn't control your phone with gloves until it happened to me. Glad to see a cute colorful option!

Using curtain tie backs as curtain hangers

OK, so I admit I found these curtain tie backs at a home decor warehouse sale for 25 cents each.  So I picked up 16 at that price deciding I could use them for something. 

Well, when I arrived at my new house many years ago and saw an arched window to address, I realized they just might work.  I didn't like the way a straight bar all the way across looked and considered the short bars on each side approach, but I didn't like fighting with the architecture.  I felt the treatment needed to arch, too. Plus, I already had these, so there's that : )

I bought a $2 package of clip curtain rings at Big Lots to clip the panel to and voila!  I love them : )

Framing plate glass mirrors

Most of us have them in our bathrooms.  Those frameless mirrors that are just dying for detail.  It's so simple to frame them!  Molding, paint, double sided tape and call it done.

For this bathroom, I chose fluted molding and corner blocks (all available at Home Depot/Lowes).  Your cuts don't have to be as precise.  Don't cut it exactly the width, maybe an 1/2 inch long.  Gives you some wiggle room on placement.  I painted both black then dry brushed a bronze paint over the top.

IMPORTANT TIP:  Paint the back of the molding, too.  You will see the reflection in the mirror and it will look bad if you don't.

I did not use mirror adhesive to attach this (it's very light molding on a small mirror).  I used 3M heavy duty clear mounting tape (it's thick like foam tape but clear so  you won't see it in the reflection.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT TIP:  Keep the mounting tape to the outer edge so it won't be seen at all.

I've had this up for at least four years and have never had a problem with is coming off. 

If you use heavier molding (i.e., MDF or longer pieces) I would advise using mirror adhesive.  I have one bathroom where I need to do this because the mirror is extra long.  Will post when it's complete to add any tips on using mirror adhesive.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How to make a Scentsy jar look even more decorative.

Got this idea from my Scentsy consultant. She has about five done this way around her house. Tray was my husband's Grandmother's. The decorative filler from Dollar Tree.

Looks like they still sell this style of warmer, too.  Charity Scentsy Warmer

Baskets in bookcases and!

Think your built-ins look cluttered? Don't know how to decorate your bookcases? Need storage? I had the same problem, so I filled my built-ins with baskets. Provided much needed storage for crafts, activity accessories, electronics, school supplies, etc.

I found my baskets at World Market years back, but anywhere that has similar baskets in different sizes will work.  I've seen them at Ikea, Container Store, Garden Ridge, Pier 1, TJMaxx, etc.  At first it seemed like an expensive project, but the most expensive one was $15.99 (total under $200 with my coupon of course :).  One piece of furniture would have cost me more and this has been the best project I have ever done in my house to solve a problem!  

For me it also helped lighten up the wall color-wise.

Painting switch or plug plates

This is my first "project from the past" post. I've done so many things around my house already, that I'll be highlighting completed things as well.

This is spray painted plugs and light switches. Tape off around the plate and just spray. The brown plastic at the bottom is before and the textured metal looking one is after. I've had these like this for many years and no chipping. I used the hammered metal spray paint by Rustoleum you can get at Home Depot or Lowes.  The color is either dark bronze or brown.

After - Plug

After - light switch*


The light switch is an outdoor "cover" plate I picked up at Home Depot.  These plugs are all on my island and there's an odd double switch that controls one overhead light and the garbage disposal in the sink.  For fear that someone might accidentally hit the switch at a bad time, I decided to cover it to prevent it from accidentally happening.  That switch plate was gray before I painted it, so you can see that the hammered metal paint really covers well.