Category Archives: For the Home

Pumpkin Succulent Planter

DSC_0563To celebrate the beginning of fall and to autumn-ify my apartment, I picked up a miniature pumpkin, along with several small succulents to fill it with for a fall centerpiece. While I don’t enjoy pumpkin foods, I still really enjoy the smell and aesthetic of them this time of year.

To make this centerpiece planter, you’ll need a miniature pumpkin, approximately 5 inches, and a knife, spoon and three of the smallest succulents you can find. If you prefer, you could even paint your pumpkin or coat it with glitter for a different feel.DSC_0554 DSC_0550Cut a hole in the small pumpkin, about 3-3 1/2 inches wide, and hollow it out with a spoon, scraping everything out that you can. Use your knife to clean up the sides of the hole as best you can. Then carefully place your succulents inside. You will probably need to loosen the soil around the roots and let it fall to the bottom of the pumpkin in order to fit all three of the plants insides and still have soil on the bottom.

Depending on your pumpkin, you might find that you need more soil, but I didn’t need any more than what came in my small succulent pots. Clean up the sides with a paper towel once the plants are inside and your planter is complete. DSC_0565Put it on a table, shelf or mantle for beautiful autumn decor that will brighten the room. Just remember, a carved pumpkin won’t last forever, so when it begins to spoil, you’ll want to move out your succulents and discard the pumpkin.

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Dining Room Chairs Makeover

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I’m the type of person who sees what something could be rather than what something is. Hence, going anywhere with me might seem frustrating because I’m constantly stopping to see the DIY potential of every little thing, including really torn up old chairs on the side of the road. Andrew rolled his eyes at me with some serious enunciation the day I asked him to pull over and put them in the back of his car. Luckily, he loves me, so we loaded these into the Escort and brought them home for a little TLC.

As you can see, they needed a lot of love:

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It’s amazing what you can do with a little spray paint and fabric – we turned these ratty old chairs into suitable dining room chairs that were such a huge improvement over my original chairs, as you can see below.

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To makeover these chairs, I used sandpaper, three cans of blue satin spray paint, quilt batting, a staple-gun, a drill and fabric. First, we used the drill to unscrew the chair seats from the frame and set them aside. I sanded down the rough areas of the wood because they were old and beat up in some areas. After painting, the little knicks and scratches become a lot more obvious, so it is important to sand the wood beforehand, but it’s also nice to see that the chairs have some character and history with their small paint-covered scratches. I took them outside for a few coats of spray paint – the satin spray paint turned out to be a good choice because glossy would have made it look a little to gaudy (for my taste).

While the frames dried, Andrew slaved away helping me pry out the staples keeping the fabric and stuffing on the chair seats. Trust me, this is the tough part, and because the chairs were so old, the padding was practically falling apart. Once they were torn apart and only pieces of wood remained, I cut pieces of fabric, leaving at least 2-3 inches around the wooden seat. When reupholstering chair seats, you want a tough fabric since it will get a lot of use, so choose something a little thicker. I also cut the quilt batting, which was of medium thickness, and I folded over to make it even thicker, to approximately the size of the seat, leaving only a little space around it.

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I laid out the fabric on a counter, then centered the batting and the wood, and I pulled the fabric and batting tightly over the sides and staple-gunned them down.

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After a lot of stapling, the seats were finished, so we screwed them back on and ta-da! I’m so happy with how they turned out! Even Oliver likes them (He likes them so much that he’s already started scratching them up)!

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Ombre Paint Chip Calendar

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You may have seen in my Inspiration Around the Web post from a while back that I’ve been wanting to make a paint chip calendar. Well, here it is!

This is definitely one of the easier projects you can make if you are gutsy enough to take like 50 paint chips from your local hardware store. I had to get up the courage, but I managed to get out of Lowe’s without any really awkward looks from the employees.

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For this project, you’ll need:

  • Large frame, preferably with glass rather than plastic
  • 7 paint chips in 6 colors (42 total)
  • Glue
  • Thin poster board
  • Paper cutter and/or scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

First, cut your poster board to the size of your frame. Based on the size of your frame and poster board, measure how large to cut your paint chips. I did this by dividing the length (12 in) by 6, which suggested that I cut my paint chips to 2 inches long. Then I used a pencil to mark every two inches, plus a little extra space between the squares to assure myself this would be accurate. I did the same for the width (18 in), diving by 7, which told me to cut them approximately 2.5 inches wide.

Set aside one color of paint chips – these will be your days of the week. On a 12 x 18 inch poster, I cut the remaining 5 colors down to 2 x 2.5 inches, and arranged them from dark to light with about 1/4 inch space in between.

They should also be spaced out so that there is enough space at the top to write the name of the month. Take the color you set aside (in my case, this was the darkest color) and cut it  .5 x 2.5 inches. I wrote the days of the week in Sharpie, but I would certainly recommend using stickers or a stencil to spell out the days. I went for the cheap option.

When you’re satisfied with the layout, begin gluing the pieces to the poster board using either sticky squares or liquid glue. I chose sticky squares because it’s my go-to choice for any paper projects. I don’t like the potential residue or outlines left by liquid glue, especially when I’m gluing so many pieces. Plus, by using sticky squares, it’s easier to pick up and adjust the squares if you mess up.

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Once everything is glued down, carefully pop the poster board into your frame and start writing! Another suggestion (for a larger canvas), use a lever punch to create a circular hole in the upper corner of each square to serve as a placeholder for your days of the month. I couldn’t sacrifice the writing space, but on a larger canvas you can.

Now it looks great on my desk at work! After almost three months on the job, my desk still looks pretty empty, so it’s nice to have something taking up space.

Chalkboard Clipboard

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Now that Andrew and I officially share a grocery list, among other things, I wanted an easy way for us to keep track of what we needed for our next trip to the store. I have a million of those notepads that stick to the fridge, but the need for a pen always deters me from actually using them. Instead, I found a way to keep track that also hides easily – a chalkboard clipboard.

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To make a chalkboard clipboard, you’ll need:

  • A clipboard (duh)
  • Chalkboard paint (duh)
  • Chalk (duh)
  • Masking or painters tape
  • Medium-sized paint brush
  • String
  • Liquid glue

Start off by taping a line across the top of the clipboard. I did this because trying to paint underneath/behind the clip would have been an unnecessary hassle. Start painting the bottom part with well-mixed chalkboard paint, including the sides. I find that chalkboard paint can be a little streaky, so take that into consideration when choosing a paint brush. Paint a couple coats until the bottom portion of the clipboard is covered. Once dry, remove the tape.

Before you start using your clipboard, you’re supposed to slate it. Run the side of a piece of chalk down the entirety of your chalkboard and then use a damp paper towel to wipe it clean. This acts as a setting for the paint.

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Next,  cut a piece of string about 12 inches long and use a small amount of glue to wrap the string around the end of a piece of chalk. Once wrapped, tie around and in a knot to hold it. Then tie the opposite end to the top of the clipboard and set your chalk on the clip as you would a pen – this way, you’ll never lose the chalk.

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You can also add a piece of patterned washi tape at the top and write on it with Sharpie for your title. I dubbed mine “the list,” so that whenever we say we need something, we can just say, “Put it on the list!”

Use a nail or, in my case, push pin to hang the clipboard inside a cupboard or on your wall. I love having it inside the cupboard so it’s mostly out of sight but comes in handy when I need it. In a matter of minutes, I turned a ratty old clipboard I never used into a very useful chalkboard.

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Painted Bottle Cap Tray

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IMG_4421I originally saw this great idea a while back on Sweet Something Designs, and I’ve wanted to try it ever since. It was quite a few months in the making because I had to gather all of my materials and find solutions to a few problems. This included drinking enough beer to gather all of these bottle caps. I thought I was drinking a lot but apparently not enough. It took a lot longer than I expected to gather enough bottle caps, so I enlisted some help from my boyfriend’s fraternity, which sped up the process A LOT.

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Can you tell what my favorite beers are?

For my version of this project, you’ll need:

  • A tray with handles high enough to allow for bottle caps
  • Lots of bottle caps (so start drinking!)
  • Two colors of spray paint suitable for metal (I like Rust-Oleum)
  • Clear acrylic sealant spray
  • Acrylic water (I used Quick Water)
  • Disposable mixing container and stick
  • Thin piece of glass or PlexiGlass cut to size of tray

If you plan to create a design like I did, lay out your bottle caps in the tray – stagger them appropriately so that they fit somewhat tightly. Then pick out the caps that will have the first color. I created a chevron pattern. Spray paint these caps with your first color – yellow, in my case. They’ll probably need at least two coats.

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Once dry, you can lay them back down into the already planned pattern. Then pick up the remaining caps and spray paint them your second color – white, in my case. After two coats and time to dry, lay these back down into the preset pattern. The reason I think it helps to do it this way is that removing all of the caps after you’ve planned a pattern could make it difficult to perfectly replicate the pattern afterwards. Do whatever is easiest for you!

Next, you’ll have to mix the acrylic water. This is a two-part mixture that is used to create flower arrangements, so once it dries it has the appearance of water but hardens to hold the flowers in place (or bottle caps, in this case). You can use acrylic water to capture a lot of things, including photos and other trinkets. I used a brand called Quick Water, which I found at Michael’s for a reasonable price. Depending on the brand, follow the instructions on the box carefully. Most likely, it will require that you have a disposable clear plastic mixing container and disposable stirrer.

Once mixed well, pour over the bottle caps carefully, starting in the middle of the tray to avoid splashing against the sides. Try to distribute evenly throughout the tray, using your stirrer to move the liquid around carefully. You’ll have some time before it begins to harden, so take your time making sure you’re happy with how it looks. Your bottle caps may begin to float. Watch it closely for a while, pushing down the floating caps and popping any large air bubbles. To release the smaller air bubbles, you can also carefully tap the tray on the table a few times.

Let this site overnight. Quick Water required at least 8 hours without any disturbance and the more time you give it, the better. I found that the spaces between the caps hardened perfectly, but the substance left on top of the bottle caps was tacky. I sprayed the caps with sealant after taping off the sides of the tray. This helped a little, but it was still too tacky.

To remedy this last problem, I went to Lowe’s and bought a thin piece of PlexiGlass that they cut down to size for me. Before you go, measure your tray from the bottom if your tray is shaped like mine, smaller at the bottom and large at the top. Lay it on top and you’re good to go!

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If you’re more comfortable, you can spray an adhesive before laying down the PlexiGlass. I didn’t think it was necessary because I don’t use the tray for a whole lot, but it may come in handy one day.

Geometric Magnets

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I’m in the process of rethinking the apartment now that Andrew will be moving in, and I’ve decided I want to have a blue and yellow theme in the kitchen. Nothing too crazy, but some small, bright accents would be nice.

So I thought, what could I add? Magnets! It was a pretty easy project, and I like how the colors look against my white fridge.

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For this project, you’ll need:

  • Sculpting clay
  • Cutting tool
  • Magnets
  • Paint
  • Glue gun or strong hold glue
  • Cup or rolling pin
  • Template or stencil

Start out by printing out the design you want to make, unless of course you are confident in your free handing. I certainly am not, so I just printed out a hexagon and cut it out.

Roll out your clay using a cup or a rolling pin until it is approximately one fourth of an inch thick. Lay the stencil on the clay and use the cutting tool to carefully cut the design.

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Cover the pieces in a few coats of paint and let them dry a little before popping them in the oven according to the package’s instructions. The brand I used suggested baking at 230 degrees for 30 minutes.

Once they’ve cooled, take the pieces outside to spray a thin coat of acrylic sealant to give them a clean shine. After they’ve dried, glue medium sized magnets to the backs using a glue gun or heavy glue. Personally, I prefer my glue gun because I rarely have a good, intense glue on-hand.

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Then it’s time to start hanging! Use them to hang photos, notes, etc. or just make cute designs on your fridge.

DIY Lamp Makeover

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One person’s trash is another’s treasure. In my life, this is always true. A friend of mine picked up this cute old fashioned lamp at a garage sale and passed it on to me. Recently, I finally got around to making it over with a new color and a new shade.

For a project like this, you’ll need:

  • Spray paint that works on multiple surfaces (I recommend Rust-Oleum)
  • Clear or sealant spray
  • Fabric
  • Wrapping paper (any)
  • Spray adhesive (I recommend Elmer’s Craft Bond)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

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Above is the original. First, I cleaned the base of the lamp because it was pretty dusty and the paint needs something to hold on to, so the cleaner the better. I removed the shade and took the base outside to spray paint it yellow to match the new fabric I chose for the lampshade. I covered the cord and top with masking tape and spray painted a coat of sun yellow on the base. After that dried for a while, I sprayed it with a second coat. My favorite brand of spray paint in Rust-Oleum, which you can buy at Home Depot for fairly cheap. It works on just about any surface. When it’s dry, spray a coat of clear sealant over it to provide some extra shine and seal the paint.

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While the base was drying, I got started on the lampshade. You may want to iron your fabric first. I always do!

Start by tracing your lampshade onto the backside of a piece of wrapping paper. I recommend using wrapping paper because it will likely be long enough and thin enough to trace, cut and move easily. Place your lampshade at the corner of the paper and roll it upward, keeping track of where you started and using your pencil to trace one side of it. Put it back at the corner and trace along the other side. Depending on the shade, it may go straight or it may curve like mine did.

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Cut out the piece of paper. Lay it around the lampshade to make sure the size is appropriate. Then trace this shape onto the backside of your fabric. Use the scissors to cut approximately a half inch outside of the shape you made on all sides. You’ll want this extra space to fold over the top and bottom and to fold a seam at the end of the fabric. When the shape is cut, once again lay it over the lampshade to see how it will fit. Spray the piece of fabric with a thin layer of adhesive and carefully begin laying it around the lampshade. I recommend Elmer’s Craft Bond for spray adhesive because it is the only one that I have tried so far that truly works for fabric projects.  Ignore the one in the photo. I learned this was not the correct choice for this project. Go slowly, smoothing the fabric out as you go. My lampshade wasn’t flat, which made it more difficult. This project is easier with a flat lampshade.

When you get to the end, fold the fabric over and glue it down. Carefully use the adhesive glue or even a small amount fabric glue to fold the top and bottom edges down into the shade.

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Once the shade felt secure and the base was dry, I put the two together for a cute addition to my desk! Personally, I like yellow in small doses rather than large, and I love the way this lamp turned out with the grey contrast of the lampshade.

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DIY Splatter Canvas

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If you’ve ever seen The Princess Diaries, you may remember the scene where Mia’s mom is throwing darts at a canvas covered in paint-filled water balloons. One day, my friend and I decided to try it, but life is nothing like movies.

After trying and failing to pop balloons full of paint, we opted for simply dripping the paint down the canvas. Using a few different colors that matched my decor, I splattered paint onto the canvas with a paintbrush while it leaned upright against something. I also dipped paint down the canvas, creating a similar look to what Mia’s mom created in the movie.

All you need is the canvas and a few colors of regular acrylic paint. It doesn’t take long at all, and it looks great on the wall.

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Add Color with Unique Side Tables

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This is a quick, easy tutorial for making personalized side tables that reflect your home. I came up with this idea when my roommate and I picked out pillows at IKEA that have a doodle-like design on them. She found some old haggard-looking stools, so I came up with the idea to paint them to match our new pillows.

You can recreate an old table or stool from your home or pick one up at a garage sale for next-to-nothing. To begin making your personalized side tables, you will need some basic acrylic paint. Choose several of your favorite colors at Michael’s, which offers a wide variety at a low price. Because you will be going over the paint with a Sharpie, remember to choose colors light enough for the Sharpie to be visible over the paint later.

At Michael’s or Home Depot, you may also want to pick up a can of clear spray paint to use as a sealant. The only other items you will need are a couple of medium sized paintbrushes, a regular-sized Sharpie, and some everyday paper towels.

Depending on the stool or table you’re painting, you may also want to buy primer, which is inexpensive at your local Home Depot. Unfortunately, I don’t have a before picture of these stools because I didn’t plan on this blog a year ago, but I used primer in my case because the original stain on the stools didn’t look very nice. If the piece is  a dark color, primer would be a wise choice.

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If you feel the need to use primer, first prime the section of the piece that you plan to paint. Once the primer is dry, begin painting large chunks with your colored acrylic paint. It does not need to follow any pattern. Follow it with a second coat. Give this plenty of time to dry before moving on to the stenciling.

If you are unsure what to draw, outline it first in pencil. It should erase easily and will be visible enough to see over the paint. Next, trace your doodles in Sharpie. If you mess up, simply paint over your mistakes, but it may take a few coats.

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Take your time and draw whatever reflects your home. If the Sharpie appears light, trace over it a second time as you see fit. Once the ink is dry, take it outside and generously spray the clear spray paint over the top. This will keep the marker from wearing away easily.

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For only a few dollars, you’ve revamped an old piece of furniture that once blended into the background. I get compliments on mine all the time, and it’s nice to know my stools are one of a kind.

Square Photo Collage

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I have an incredible amount of extra photos lying around. These are either duplicates of the photos in my scrapbook or photos that just never found a place. For a while, a lot of people were posting about instagram collages, which really just means a bunch of square photos. I took this idea and ran with until I came up with this collage. Let’s be honest. There’s nothing very special about it, but it looks great sitting on my bookshelf in our tiny excuse for a hallway.

For this project, all you will need is a frame (the size is up to you), photos, a paper cutter, multiple colors of cardstock, and some type of glue or sticky squares. My frame is 16 X 20 in., and I chose it with the intention of never actually hanging it, so I chose the cheapest thin frame I could find. I began by cutting my photos to 4 X 4 in. because of the size of my frame, so adjust accordingly based on the size. Because of the way I laid out my photos, I used ten. When cutting, always remember that it’s better to cut something just a tiny bit too big than too small. You can always shave off a little on the sides, but you can never get it back if you trim it too much.

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Next, I cut different colors of cardstock to the same size. I also needed ten of these. After everything was cut, I laid out the pattern I wanted to make sure I liked it before I glued everything down. If you want, you could also leave out the cardstock completely and use all photos throughout the collage. In fact, this would make it more of an actual collage. Because of where I planned to put it, I didn’t want to go for the cluttered look. It would be too difficult to tell what you were looking at when it was in a corner with a bunch of other things.

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I chose sticky squares to lay down the pieces because glue is messy and if you don’t like where you put it, good luck trying to move it. When you buy a new frame, it generally comes with a paper inside that fits the size of the frame, usually with a smiling couple or something on it. Using this perfectly cut piece of paper, I alternately stuck down my squares, making sure to fit each piece directly next to the other and along the edges of the paper. All your lines between pieces should line up. If they don’t, adjust. If adjusting isn’t enough, you may need to trim a little off the sides of certain pieces.

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When you’re satisfied, lay the collage in the frame, put the back on, and your photo collage should be ready to display. You could go so many ways with a project like this. If making it for a gift, you could replace the cardstock with little notes, signatures of party guests, or even quotes. You could also use newspaper clippings or book pages or more photos. It simply depends on you and the occasion.