Thursday, September 26, 2013

Our Plan for the Living Room Built Ins

One of the things that I wish our house had (other than a larger backyard) is a fireplace and mantel. I guess when they built it in the 20s, budget was also at the forefront of their mind and they opted out of one. I wish I could go back in time and explain to them how they should really just go for it, because in the year 2013 this girl would really like to get her hands on a mantel to decorate for the holidays.... If only.
For a while I just accepted it and just put it on the "Want List" for our next home... but then one day a few weeks ago as I was sitting in our living room, it dawned on me that I don't technically have to have a fireplace to achieve the look that I'm wanting. (Although I will admit that a fireplace would be nice and cozy). I honestly can't believe it took me this long to have that 'aha' moment. (Shout out to Oprah)
So with that... this is what we're working with...
Have I mentioned how nerve-wracking it is to upload pictures of your home?
Ok- just thought I'd share....
We currently have 2 small built in bookshelves that flank each side of the main wall in the living room (PS- the living room is a whole other story... Working with mismatched furniture and giant sectional has made that room the most difficult to work with so far. Hoping to make some strides soon in that department, but right now I kind of feel stuck). The bookshelves were originally a dark wood tone which we painted white soon after Nathan bought the house. (I WISH I had a before picture of those... I feel like they have to be out there somewhere, so if any of my friends have any please pass them along). Painting those bookshelves white made a HUGE improvement and I didn't think about them too much more after that. However, once we got married, moved in, and started using the living room on a nightly basis, they didn't seem right to me anymore. It could have been when we hung the large flat screen in between which made things feel really heavy and unbalanced.. or when we added the dark (and cheap) TV stand in front of the wall (already moved out of the way in the picture above). I always thought the wall just looked off, and felt like there had to be another solution....
So.... I started searching for some inspiration and quickly came up with a plan that I feel will make the room feel taller, more balanced, and less heavy. Here are some of the inspiration pictures:
Found this picture here. Love the detail above the mantel.
Another one with great detail.
The side bookcases remind me of what we're working with.
I really just like the look of this room. Looks so peaceful.
I like that the back of the bookshelves are vertically wood planked.
Couldn't find the main source for this one.
Pulled this one because it gives me a good idea of what we can do above the 'mantel'.
 Clean and simple lines. Very doable. Plus- that is some great V-day decorating.
I could see my friend Jayme going all out like this.
Last but not least, this is from one of my favorite blogs, Honey We're Home.
I thought this was a great media center that gave me a good idea of how our wall
with a TV can look. I really like the detail of the storage on the bottom
(and the painted back panels)
Our plan is to make the wall a hybrid of a large built in/mantel/entertainment center. We both like the TV to be at eye level (Nathan's reasoning- because that's where a TV should be placed. My reasoning- If we're putting in a mantel there's no way I'm placing a TV on top and wasting prime real estate... Mantels are clearly for decorating purposes only). It won't be your normal look since the TV will be under the mantel, but I think it will end up working for what we have going on. We (as in Nathan) also plan to build center lower storage under the TV to balance off the existing lower storage under the book shelves. The final task will be replacing the existing cabinet doors with some more substantial wood and detail.
Here are a few plans I made up in Power Point (I'm a power point addict. I seriously use it all the time for the weirdest things... and it's never for a 'slide show'). I'm still not sure of how we are going to detail the mantel (if at all), but I played around with some ideas. Good thing is- we can get started on this and deal with the detail later once it's decided.

 What do you think? Any suggestions? I think I've been staring at this wall for too long!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Dressing Up Your Table for Fall

The moment labor day weekend ends, I'm immediately ready for pumpkin flavored anything, football games, and 60 degree weather to begin. But come on, who isn't? Unfortunately, it doesn't happen that quickly in Kentucky, but we've been lucky to have a few 'fall-like' days here lately which has gotten me in the spirit.
One of my favorite things about this time of year is the decorating. (I'm sure I get that from my mother). Ever since we got our farmhouse table, I've been looking forward to this season because I knew exactly how I've wanted to decorate it and couldn't wait another day to get started....
I wanted to utilize the whole table (since it's massive), so Nathan and I made a long, narrow box that would work as the foundation for the tablescape. And yes- when I say 'Nathan and I', I mean that I ACTUALLY helped construct something. Shocking, I know.
It was a simple construction that included a nail gun, wood glue, and 1" x 4" boards. We then used some of the leftover stain that was applied to the kitchen cabinets and it was good to go. The box is great because I plan to use it all year round... Christmas centerpiece, Hydrangeas in the spring- lots of possibilities!
The easiest box ever!
Last weekend, Nathan and I made a trip to one of our favorite places, Huber's Farm. I think we were there three Sundays in a row this past summer because we love it so much... and we were trying to get some time in before the crazy crowds come in the fall. Too. Many. People. (That all just sounded very hipster... sorry about that). Anyway, while there enjoying some wine tasting with his parents, I was able to pick up some mini pumpkins and gourds for a good price (at least I think they were... not really sure what mini pumpkins go for these days....) I originally planned on using some fake pumpkins I had for the table, but couldn't pass these up in all of my Huber's loving glory. I then picked up some floral foam, candles, and Spanish moss from Walmart (Yes, I cheated on Hobby Lobby). The final thing I needed was some fake fall foliage thingys... I luckily already had a good amount that I have collected throughout the years, so I only had to pick up a stem or two for the project.
The supplies....
This project was really simple. The box is about 4" deep, so I made sure to add foam at the bottom to ensure the pumpkins could sit higher and weren't buried below. I simply cut the foam in half and placed the pieces in the box. I then added and spread out one bag of Spanish moss on top. From there, I spaced out my pumpkins and gourds until they looked nice and balanced.
Next up- the candles. I had 4 tapered candlesticks and a few pillar candles. I guess I wasn't thinking about the height of the pillar candles, because I ended up having to cut into the foam and place the candles into the holes I made. It ended up working pretty well though because they were then secure and not wobbly on top. I then finished it off by pushing the tapered candlesticks into the foam and we were good to go.
Finally- the fun part. I grabbed the fall foliage and a scissors and got to work. I cut each stem of the foliage so I could disperse it all throughout since I only had one 'branch' of each.
I really just messed with the foliage until it looked right to me and placed the pieces in between and over the edges. It ended up being exactly what I was going for and I'm loving it.

Sorry for the picture overload... I'm still messing around with my camera. 

This project was very quick and easy... including making the box. If you're not up for tackling wood with a nail gun, I think this could work just as well in a long narrow basket that you could pick up at any craft store, flea market, or even the dollar store... which is my other favorite place to shop. You'd be surprised at what The Dollar Tree is hiding!

Here it is all lit up... I'm trying to not light it all the time to avoid having to buy more candles! Oh and probably a major fire hazard. Oh well- it's pretty!

Hope this gets you in the mood for the fall season! I think my next project for the table is a light burlap runner to break up all of the wood that is going on. Hope you come back and check it out!


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Monday, September 16, 2013

From Farmhouse to Our House: Dining Room Table

Last December- after a long first week of work at my new job- I walked in the door on a late Friday afternoon to an early Christmas present....
A farmhouse table!
I can handle these surprises....
I don't know if I was more shocked at the beautiful piece of furniture in front of me, or the fact that Nathan tied a really great bow on top. The guy is a great gifter. You may think he's sleeping on the couch- ok maybe he is- but he's really good at listening to those little things I unassumingly mention... or notice my eyes get big when I'm scrolling across something on the computer screen. Meanwhile, I'm over here trying to find something for his birthday that's neither a man tool or car part. Why are guys so hard to buy for?
Check out that bow!
His dad was able to salvage some wood from a barn on Nathan's brother-in-law's family farm in Nancy, Kentucky (close to Somerset where he is from). I love how the origin of the table traces back to the area where Nathan grew up. It definitely makes the piece more interesting than a few pieces of lumber from the hardware store. All of the wood- even the legs- came from the barn so there was no need to buy any extra lumber. You can even see some of the old nail holes in some of the planks.
To keep it secret, Nathan utilized Josh's workshop...and his help of course. (Told ya there would be more Josh mentions.... they must really enjoy their male bonding time) There also wasn't a need to stain the wood. One side of the wood was very faded from facing the sun, but the interior side was still a rich, dark color. He made sure to utilize that side for the table top. (I bet the faded side would have looked just as good with a great sun-washed look) From there, a clear coat was sprayed over the entire table.
Removable extensions were also constructed. They aren't that heavy and they easily slide in and out whenever we need them. They are just inserted in the slots that were cut into the frame of the table. We've already utilized these quite a few times and are able to sit at least 10 at one time... with a maximum of 12 if you put two people at both ends. Who's cooking?
Slots were cut in the frame of the table.


Added extensions....
This table is huge... Go Big or Go Home...

It's great that we don't have to be too careful with it since a few dents and dings will just add to its character. I have to say- my favorite parts are the details of the knots and the natural edges- they really show the table's history and roots. Yes that was a pun.
It's without a doubt the most "rustic" piece in the house... but I think it really fits us to the tee. Nathan is just manly and rustic (He'll hate me for writing that... haha) and I'm always wanting to have some warmth in a space which this definitely provides. I have a feeling tablecloths may be used once kids come into the picture to avoid crumbs and messes in the cracks- but right now we tend to keep it pretty clean. I will admit I have used a vacuum hose for a few areas holding crumbs, but I usually just use a damp rag and it's good to go.
Now that we have this awesome table- it leads me to chairs. I'm currently living with some that I'm not the biggest fan of, but they're working (and pretty comfortable I might add). I have some pretty cool chairs in my mind, but I'm trying to keep the budget at the forefront before I make any drastic purchases... made that mistake before! So I guess in the meantime I'm in search of some new replacements... and by 'new' I mean something I can find for dirt cheap to recover and makeover! Stay tuned.... 



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Our Big Day Displayed: DIY Wedding Shadow Box

After getting married last July, I ended up with boxes and boxes of wedding decor and mementos that have been very difficult for me to get rid of.  The older I've gotten (you're killing me, 27) the bigger 'purger' I have become, so it's humorous to me to see the multiple boxes full of this stuff stacked up in my basement. I mean, I have about 30 invitations leftover, but can't seem to throw them away. What in the world am I going to do with them? My old shower invites and Save the Date magnets... just sitting in a box. God forbid they end up in the trash can! 

In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to do something special with the items I have held onto, so maybe that is a big reason why it all found a home in the basement for over a year. I'm usually not a big fan of shadow boxes ( I always thought they were a little cheesy), but I figured this would be the best way to display some of those items that take me back to some of my favorite memories.

So... I finally caved and bought a shadow box at where else but Hobby Lobby. The frame was 50% that week, but always remember that you can download the 40% coupon if you can't wait for things to go half off (I actually have the link bookmarked on my phone... and use it on the reg).  I also bought some white ball pins to secure everything into the back panel. Super easy.

When I got home, I sorted through my 'junk' and pulled out an invite, reception card, save the date, ceremony program, and some items from the reception including our cake knife and place cards. I also had some of my shower invites, but realized soon that the box wasn't big enough to fit everything... Well it could, but in my opinion it would look way too cluttered and not very cohesive.  

Included the label for the apple butter that was made for favors.

Including the cake knife gave the box some shiny interest, which then reminded me of some important items in my jewelry box from the wedding day. I decided to include my earrings, bracelet, and hair piece to bling it up a little bit. I also included my garter and bouquet brooch. If I ever wanted to let someone borrow them or pass them down, they're easily removable. Nothing in here is permanent. I think the pieces made it a lot more interesting and helped to contrast with all the paper that was going on.  It's also nice to see the jewelry for a change instead of hidden away... it's not like I was planning on busting out those earrings on a Thursday night!

Also added one of the flowers from my bouquet.
So there ya have it- A year's worth of boxed up wedding leftovers turned into a 10 minute project. I should have done it much sooner!  It's a nice reminder of that July day every time I walk down the stairs. I'll probably move it up and hang it in our bedroom once that is complete... which reminds me that that room is another thing on the list that needs to get started! Who wants to help us paint some ugly trim?
My attempt at a non-cheesy shadowbox...

What about you? Are you into Shadow Boxes or have done any cool projects with them? They're not so bad when they contain some meaningful things!

Monday, September 9, 2013

A New Home for My Granny's China

The china cabinet. This has easily been one of my favorite projects we have ever done. Not only because the outcome came out much better than I could have imagined, but because this cabinet holds one of my most special possessions- my Granny's china.

I was only two when my great grandmother passed away, so I don't have any memories of her, but I've heard countless stories from my mom and have looked through several photo albums growing up so in a sense I feel like I know her in some way... or at least I like to imagine what it would have been like to know her...

Granny with her 1960s style

I believe my Granny received her china when she got married in the 20s. My grandma then held on to it for some years and eventually passed it down to Aunt Teri, my Godmother, when I was a girl. We traveled every year to visit my aunt and uncle in Georgia, and my Aunt Teri would mention several times that I would be the next to have that china in my own home one day. It was displayed in her dining room and I always thought they were the most beautiful dishes I had ever seen. It was so fun to imagine myself using it for all of those 'grown up' dinner parties and family holidays once I was married and a mom of my own. However, I always assumed I would be getting this china when I was much older. So, it was definitely a huge surprise when my aunt called me during those months of wedding planning to see if we would like to have it now. It was- without a doubt- one of the best gifts I have ever received.

Now, if anyone knows me well, you're probably aware that I have a love for anything gold. I always have. I may be a bit partial, but had I seen this china anywhere else, it would have been the first thing I would have chosen. I like to think my Granny and I must have had the same taste... or maybe that is wishful thinking.  I think it's perfect...  and I also think it deserves to be shown. Even though I had no china cabinet to display it in (and there were still wedding presents lined up waiting to be unpacked), there was no way this china was going to be boxed up and put in storage.  Once the wedding stuff died down, Nathan and I took a weekend trip down to Georgia to pick everything up and haul it back to Louisville (very carefully).  So, before we even got in the car to head south, I was already browsing countless Craigslist ads looking for the perfect piece to makeover. As I've said before, budget is always priority. Who has time for full price?

It took some searching by the both of us, but Nathan finally came across a potential piece on Craigslist. It was exactly what I was looking for. He had some doubt when we went to see it in person, but I knew right away that it was the perfect size, had plenty of character, and showed a ton of potential. So 24 hours after we got back from Georgia, we purchased it for about $90.00. (I think it was originally $100, but Nathan was able to negotiate. I am never in charge of negotiating... knowing me I would have somehow paid more than what it was listed. World's worst.) I made the mistake of not taking any of my own before pictures of the cabinet. I must have been too excited to get the project started that it just slipped my mind. The only picture I have is the one from the ad that I thankfully saved on my phone. Even though it's an awful quality, I think you can get the idea....

Please blame the Craigslist seller for this awful picture...
OK I blame myself for not taking one.

We have limited wall space on our first floor due to an open floor plan, so size was definitely a factor when searching for a cabinet. I was actually looking for more of a curio style instead of a larger standard china cabinet so it could fit a small wall in our dining area. I knew I wouldn't be able to display all of the pieces, but as long as I could have room to provide a nice mix, I would be happy. I was also looking for a cabinet with lower closed storage so the piece felt a bit more substantial. I think an all glass cabinet would make me too nervous and tend to look too fragile in the space. The cabinet we found was a very dark (and cheaper) wood. It wasn't the highest quality, so I didn't feel bad at all with my plan of painting it (white of course). It originally had wood shelving and an old yellow light bulb at the top that lit the inside. The wood shelving didn't allow any of the light to shine through the cabinet, so we knew we would be switching those out for glass. One of my favorite features was the curved glass doors- it was definitely an added bonus and gave us more room to display the china inside.

The first thing we did was unscrew the doors and carefully remove the curved glass from the frames. We also took off the old hardware that was a little too 60s for what I was going for (However, I did keep all of it because you never know where you can use that stuff next.) We then wiped it down with soap and water... not surprisingly my least favorite part. Ughh grossness! (I'm weird about things... Don't get me started on bathrooms.) We were then ready to break out the primer. We had a can of Zinser primer on hand, so there was no need to get any extra supplies that night. We did 2 coats of primer and then (im)patiently waited to start painting the next day.

Primed and ready to go! And now we wait.....
The next day we went to Lowe's so I could search for a 'clean white' paint. After looking for more than what Nathan thought was normal (poor guy), I found the right white. Low and behold it was called Clean White by Valspar. Meant to be! I feel like there are so many whites to choose from and they can all look different in so many spaces, but this one seems to stay consistent and I plan to use it for some more projects. Basically, it's not too warm and not too cool. We ended up applying 3 coats of the paint- I wanted to stop at two because of my project impatience, but Nathan convinced me it needed another. That third coat definitely gave it a finished look. He's usually right....
'Clean White' by Valspar.

I had been wanting to try out some stenciling for a while and thought this could be a perfect opportunity to test it out... especially since it was in a small dose. If we didn't like it, we could just paint over it and all would be fine. I had been looking at stencils online here, but I didn't want to spend that much money on something I wasn't sure would work out. While I was at Hobby Lobby (I'm there a lot), I came across the exact stencil I had in mind for a much lower price. The scaling was also perfect for the back of the cabinet. I picked it up along with some gold craft paint and a stencil roller and got to work.

So here comes a minor design disaster... Right away, I broke out all of the supplies and got moving. The template fit perfectly inside the cabinet (although it's easily cuttable with a scissors if you need a custom size.) I then started rolling the paint on to the stencil that I placed on top of the back panel. (Note- to avoid stenciling vertically, we laid the cabinet on its back on the floor. This made things much easier.) I didn't read ANY directions and didn't take time to check out any tutorials.... so when I pulled up the stencil, my lack of experience definitely showed. It was a globby (is that a word?) mess and the paint was so light that it wasn't even close to the contrast I was looking for. I knew that the paint I selected wasn't going to work, so I didn't even bother to read directions and try again. I wiped up the globs... which led to another coat of primer and then another coat of the white paint.... Not fun at all. I also didn't have any desire to take pictures of the mess because I was so frustrated. Next time I plan to take pictures in my project failed rage.... don't worry.

About to give it a go... About to unknowingly fail!

Not wanting to wait any longer, the next day I picked up some gold spray paint and figured we would give it a go. I don't think the stencil packaging recommended spray painting at all, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to try. (Spray paint. Fixes. Everything.) While it definitely required the two of us, we taped down the stencil and then covered the rest of the cabinet with paper and plastic to prevent the paint from getting anywhere.

No looking back now!

Nathan- and his patience- slowly sprayed the paint on the stencil and after about 30 seconds we pulled it up to reveal exactly what I had in mind. The spray paint was the perfect solution and I was able to get the contrast that I was looking for. It also dried right away and didn't leave the goopy mess that the craft paint did. We have a winner, folks!


We then moved it down and repeated the steps to finish the back panel. This was a much easier and better result than my original plan, but if you end up spray painting remember that more than one person is probably needed. We also made the mistake of spray painting in our back room... We may or may not have been a little lightheaded after 20 minutes.... Next time we will take it outside!

Tape... Paint... Repeat

Once everything was dry, we inserted the glass back into the painted door frames and attached them back onto the cabinet. We did the same with the bottom storage door.

The glass was just held in like a picture frame so it was easy to reinsert.

I was able to pick up some small clear knobs from Hobby Lobby for about a dollar a piece. The new hardware is a welcome difference from what was originally on the piece....

Hobby Lobby also never fails.
Finally, we already had some glass leftover from the old kitchen, so Nathan cut the shelves to size with a glass cutter... Have you ever used one of those things before? It's the simplest tool, and you can get great results. I guess I've been living under a rock! Anticipating the glass shelves to be the hardest part, I was shocked at how easy they were to cut. If we hadn't had any glass already available, we planned on just picking some up at Lowe's. (Or Home Depot... or local... whatever your preference!)

We installed some wood on the sides 
before painting so the glass could easily rest.
Once the glass was in place, we got a new light bulb to insert into the top of the existing fixture. Surprisingly, all of the wiring was in good shape and there was no need to do any fixing. Nathan also wanted the cabinet to be secure since we walk by it so often, so he anchored it to the wall with a screw and some metal wiring. It's good to have an engineering brain at work....

And here it is ready to house the china....

Ready to go in all of its 'clean white' glory...
There were a few areas that were blurry from the spray paint,
so I just went back in with white paint and touched up with a small paint brush.


I spy our neighbor's siding....

And now the best part... displaying the china! Things like this really excite me. I had so much fun styling it in different ways, but I ended up thinking less was more. I was also able to include some wedding gifts we received including a beautiful bowl and some of our new wine glasses. It's a small space, but this tiny cabinet holds a meaningful collection of items that I will always love. I think in our next house, I will have to makeover a larger cabinet so it can all be on display. More projects! Wooo!

Finished product.

I feel like I want to host Thanksgiving now...or maybe not.
I'm so happy and eternally thankful that I have these pieces in our home.... It's so cool to think about the different generations in my family that have used this throughout the years. But just thinking about all of the many holiday dinners and (traditional Christmas breakfasts) that they'll eventually be a part of is an even greater feeling. I hope when I pass this china down the female line one day, it will be appreciated and cared for with as much love as I've already come to have for it.... but God willing they like gold ;)
Hope my Granny would be proud!