Category Archives: Crafty Home Decor
Some things just run in the blood. When I was a young woman and owned my first home, I was constantly searching for ways to beautify my surroundings. We didn’t have much money then but I got out my sewing machine and my crafting tools and went to work. I made my own draperies, rewired lamps, hung medicine cabinets, refinished furniture, and tiled floors and walls. For my birthday I asked for a drill and a sander. Happily, I no longer have to go to such extremes to have a beautiful home. Whatever I do now is for the sheer fun of it. However- and there is always a however-I have this really awful laundry nook…
I’ve blogged about this before so you know how much this has bugged me. The first photo shows my laundry nook in the garage. It is in a deep closet with louvered doors, ugly cabinets, a bare wood shelf and loads of dust, dirt and spider webs. The floor is concrete and stained from years of oil leaks. The second photo shows the nook and the empty space beside it where we store our ladders. There was no laundry tub so no way to wash off muddy hands or shoes, remove stains in fabrics, or wash my pup Frazier. Did I mention that I like to have everything look beautiful? Just because you have to do wash, doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be in a nice environment. Our house was built in 1987 so laundry rooms were not as popular then as they are now.
Last week we finally had a handyman come over to install a laundry tub and shelves. Paul and I disconnected the washer and dryer and moved everything out of the nook. While Paul painted the nook, I painted the louver doors and the cabinets. Everything got 2 coats of Decorator White in a semigloss finish, completely covering the dingy old beige primer that had been on the walls since the house was built. The next step is to lay a comfort mat in the laundry space to extend over to the house door and recycling area. This should help to cover up some of the oil stains left by the previous owners and will make it easier for me to keep that whole section clean.
The other side of the garage houses our car and the workbench. We will work our way around the space, painting everything white and re-organizing the storage. Then we’ll paint the ceiling. I’m actually pleased that I don’t have to shlep down to the basement to do wash. As Paul and I get along in years, we’ll appreciate the proximity of the washer and dryer to the kitchen. The one drawback is that woodworking projects in the garage have a way of depositing sawdust and dirt in the nook area. I think that I will install some fabric behind the louvers in each door to filter out the worst of it. Stay tuned for some updated photos in the next couple of days as we move around the space, improving as we go.
We purchased our “empty nester” ranch house in 2009. It is located in a beautiful development adjacent to a small town in a rural section of southeastern Pennsylvania. The house was 22 years old at the time. The owner, a single man, had replaced all the major elements but had done nothing to improve the cosmetics. The wall-to-wall carpet in the hall and bedrooms was stained, the appliances were ancient, and each room had the ugliest ceiling fan ever manufactured. We’ve updated our home in a modest manner, bypassing high-end finishes and concentrating on attractive and durable surfaces instead.
The guest room, never a priority, languished. We had moved in two old-fashioned studio couches so that the grandchildren would have a place to sleep but it was not a very welcoming space. Below you see the “before” photo taken on the day we moved in. We used it for storage for several months!
Finally, perfectionist that I am, I became tired of the run-down look of the room. I had painted it blue and we had installed grey wall-to-wall carpet in the hall and in the bedrooms. It was looking much better but still not very nice.
I started with a pair of Ikea platform beds that I purchased on Craig’s LIst. With some leftover plywood and scrap faux suede, I upholstered 2 headboards. I also found some black fabric on sale for the bedskirts which I worked so that they had box pleats on the corners and could be fastened to the platform with velcro. They are both completely lined. The comforter sets were purchased at Wal-Mart for $25 each.
In the corner of the room, I placed a tall chest that I purchased at auction along with the nightstand for $5. The chest and nightstand are also Ikea and both were in excellent condition. The ornate mirror was a Goodwill find that cost $10. It is very good quality and I hesitated about painting over the gold frame but decided it would look better black. The round end table was from Target. It was $79 and I added a glass top for $6. I placed a small paper doily between the glass and the table. The wicker chair was another Goodwill find for $25 and was brand new with the tags still on it when I bought it. I found some blue print fabric on sale at JoAnn’s and made the chair cushion as well as bolsters for the beds. The sheers at the window are also from Wal-Mart and were $9 per panel. The floor lamp can be adjusted and the light can be lowered by only turning on 3 bulbs at a time–another Wal-Mart item. (My nosy pup, Frazier, had to see what I was up to!)
There’s nothing fancy about any of this but little touches bring warmth and coziness to the room. A couple of knob racks to hang clothing, coordinating teddy bears, a bedside alarm, and a clothes hamper in the closet all contribute to a good experience in the guest room. I found an old calandar of Ansel Adams black and white nature photos in a thrift shop and framed them with inexpensive snap frames. And because the makeover was so inexpensive, I don’t have to be concerned about breakage when the grandchildren stay over.
Wow! If you’ve never tried Frog Jam then you are in for a treat! Contrary to what the fellow at Johnson’s Peaches in Candor, NC. told me, this jam does NOT contain frog legs. It’s actually a medley of figs, raspberries, orange, and ginger. I was skeptical about the ginger because this spice usually packs quite a punch but I was pleasantly surprised to find the flavor very subtle. I’ve never seen this jam around here. We picked it up as we were driving to Lynchburg, VA along a state highway.
I’ve always wanted to make a cornucopia for my Thanksgiving table. Casting around for a nice large horn of plenty, I was disappointed to find that most of those on the market today are too small. Also, they are mainly made of light-colored wicker, a material that does not go well with my home decor. As is often the case, I found something suitable at my local Goodwill store. This cornucopia was also light-colored wicker but was generously sized–large enough to hold a variety of gourds, apples, and corn.
The next step was to paint the cornucopia inside and out. I had a nice craft paint with a metallic gold sheen left over from another project so I started to paint. Alas, the wicker absorbed the paint rapidly and my meager supply was quickly gone. Off to the hardware store for more…only to discover that this brand was being discontinued! But the nice lady at Tru Value came to the rescue with a metallic spray paint that looked very much like the one I had been using.
I don’t have a Michael’s in my area. The next best alternative was to go to the various garden centers and markets around New Freedom to find the gourds, autumn leaves, Indian corn, and mini pumpkins I wanted spilling out of the horn of plenty. In the process, I discovered that Mt. Airy Junction (sorry, no website), a florist and gift shop that normally carried only country-style crafts, had completely changed! To my great surprise and delight, it now features tapestry jackets, jewelry and all kinds of gorgeous scarves. Getting distracted from my project, I immediately purchased the most beautiful scarf in the world!
But I digress… the cornucopia is now ready for another coat of paint and the finishing touches. Stay tuned for the completed project.
On a beautiful fall day this week, Paul and I decided to take a drive to Chambersburg, PA. As we approached Chambersburg we discovered Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium along the side of the road. Mr. Ed’s carries all that old-fashioned penny candy we enjoyed as kids. He also features a museum collection of thousands of elephants in all materials, shapes and sizes. I was especially drawn to the little crocheted elephant languishing on a shelf.
Mr. Ed’s also had a large display of the “poor man’s Dale Chihuly” in the extensive gardens surrounding the emporium.
In 2004, my husband and I had been on the road in our RV for two years. Crochet was a great way to pass the time on rainy days so I decided to make a flag afghan for my daughter and her husband. Every good Republican home needs a flag afghan! I started with a Lion Brand pattern but quickly realized that I didn’t like the way it was made. I opted instead to work the entire flag in single crochet and I changed the dimensions to make it look more like a real flag. Then I found some star patterns on Crochet Pattern Central and made 100 (!)stars since I wanted the flag to be reversible. Even after all that, I still had to sew each star on by hand. What a job! Here you see me in 2004 in our 5th wheel trailer, the Carri-Lite, slaving away at sewing on the stars. The flag was a huge hit with my daughter when I finally finished it.
Here I am a few weeks later in Venice Beach, CA. holding hands with my favorite aliens!
The TV camo tapestry project turned out very well. After experimenting with several techniques, I decided to applique strands of brightly colored yarn to a piece of beautiful tapestry fabric that I purchased as a remnant on-line. It took the better part of a day to attach all the yarn with the zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine. Things got a little tough as the width of my fabric began to bunch up under my machine but I solved that problem by rolling it up from the end as I went along. About 4 hours and a backache later I was ready to cut the lining. Luckily I had some black sateen on hand. I cut it to fit my fabric, stitched it around all 4 sides leaving an opening for turning, and turned it right side out. After pressing, I folded the top edge to the back and hand slip stitched it into place. A small curtain rod from WalMart went through the casing. Originally I was going to mount the rod brackets above the TV but I found that I could place the rod over and slightly behind my wall-mounted TV and it would stay in place. It’s a simple matter to lift it off when we want to watch television. Total cost: $30.00.
This bench in my dining room provides extra seating at the table or in the living room if we get a crowd. I purchased it at a consignment shop, stripped off the ugly striped fabric and upholstered it. The legs had a 50′s blond wood finish that I really liked but unfortunately, the wood was gouged in some places. I sanded the legs and painted them in a yellow that matched the original finish.
Snack Table Project
These little bent-wood snack tables cost me $5. The legs were fine but the tops had beverage rings. I painted them to match the legs of my bench. An added benefit was that they fit neatly beneath my dining room console and are easy to transfer to the living room as needed.
Both the twin beds in my guest room are Ikea beds. They have chrome legs attached to a platform upon which the mattress rests. The legs were ugly, the frames were ugly and there were no headboards. I found out that it is impossible to use a standard bed skirt on a platform bed. So okay, this project did not end up being cheap. I purchased black fabric, yards and yards of Velcro (both the stick-on kind and the sew-on kind). Then I made two bed skirts with box pleats at the corners that are attached to the frames with Velcro.
I purchased 2 ceiling tiles (they are light-weight) and upholstered them in black faux suede fabric with 2 covered buttons across the middle of each. Then I attached them to the wall with heavy-duty Velcro. The room now has a bit of a retro look which I plan to emphasize when I finish decorating.
Now that the television has changed into a huge presence on the living room wall, it’s time to consider some ways to minimize its impact on home decor. I looked at many alternatives: cabinets, hide-aways, artwork covers, and aquarium dvds. The aquarium dvd proved to be a beautiful solution but I was not happy about the necessity of leaving the TV running all day. In the end, I purchased some very elegant tapestry fabric at a discount outlet on line.
I have a contemporary living room and this fabric coordinated well with the other upholstery in the room. The only drawback was that it was a bit too neutral for the other bright accents that I had on my walls. Yarn stash to the rescue! Rooting through my Red Heart worsted yarn, I chose 4 colors that would provide just enough interest to perk up this beautiful tapestry fabric. I experimented with attaching strands of yarn to the curvy outlines woven into the fabric. Once I got the hang of keeping the strands running along the edges of the patterns on the fabric, I stitched them in place with a wide zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine. The colorful yarn provides just enough textural interest and artistic touch to make this plain fabric very unique.
The next step will be to cut my fabric to about a 44″ X 28″ rectangle and then to attach the strands. I’m sure that the width of the fabric will provide its own challenge as I attempt to work my way across the piece. Once it is done, I’ll sew on a lining and hang the tapestry over the TV on a small rod. The rod can just be lifted from the brackets and placed elsewere when you want to watch TV. Stay tuned to see the completion of this project…
Now that I’ve finished the Elegant Evening Cardigan, I have to get back to the other projects I’m working on. I’m a very impatient person and don’t like to have to wait for furniture or special orders to finally arrive. And then there are those little decorating problems that don’t have a store-bought solution. Luckily I’m very handy and can do almost anything I set my mind to.
I purchased a little bench at a consignment shop. It was just right for my space but needed new upholstery, a refinish on the legs, and a custom back to make it work in my room.
I’ve gotten as far as re-doing the upholstery but still need to refinish the legs and make a backrest.
Despite my very original and artful decorating of the wall over our TV credenza, my husband recently got a big television so my photos will end up in the guest room. The big TV is very black. To take away some of the stark appearance, I’ve decided to make a frontpiece that will cover the screen when not in use. My fabric is gorgeous and looks like a hand-woven tapestry.
I have an original idea for attaching the tapestry to the screen but I haven’t started this project yet.
And finally, my guest room, which has two twin beds, desperately needs decorating. I found the cutest gray paisley comforters at Walmart ( perfect for the grands). Now I plan to make 2 headboards upholstered in black and 2 black bedskirts. The platform beds have a rim which keeps me from using manufactured bedskirts. I also have to hang drapes and wall decor as well as cover a red leather chair so that I can use it in this room.
So you see, I never seem to run out of projects! Next week I’ll be visiting my family in West Palm Beach and I will not attempt to post to my blog while I’m gone.
I was browsing through my old photos of our 7 years on the road looking for some particularly captivating pictures that I could frame and hang on my living room wall. We had spent quite a bit of time in Yellowstone National Park in 2007 and the photos I had made of the thermal pools were just the ticket. Some of the shots looked almost like abstract paintings and I thought that they would go well with my contemporary furniture.
Instead of paying a fortune to have each one professionally framed, I headed to Walmart to get the thin snap-in frames that look so good in a modern decor. Alas, they were out of them! Instead, I bought the more traditional walnut-colored frames with a cream mat and a band of dark color running around the inside of the mat. These were $13.95 each. After cutting some craft paper to size and moving the paper over the wall in different configurations I finally hit upon a nice arrangement. Up went my photos and you can see the result below.
I’ve been bitten by the decorating bug. After living in our home for a year and a half we are finally getting rid of our hand-me-down furniture and buying new. When we adopted the RV lifestyle 9 years ago, we had given away, sold, or otherwise disposed of all our furniture and possessions. Now, after 7 years on the road we’ve decided to settle down again. Of course we had to start from scratch.
I was having a hard time finding a 45″ contemporary bench that was high enough to conceal my wall outlet. I wanted something with curved legs but it had to be somewhat transitional, not too modern. Of course, I did the usual Google search. I even ordered and returned three different benches. Nothing was working out. In desperation, I decided to hit the consignment shops once again. No luck at the first two but I hit pay dirt when I stopped in Great Finds and Designs in Timonium, MD.
There, just beyond the sales desk was my bench! I was somewhat dismayed by the price. It had just recently come in and was marked $140. The wooden legs were extremely scuffed and even gouged out slightly in the back. The cushion doesn’t bear talking about. Clearly it needed new upholstery. I figured it was worth about $75 as a used piece of dated furniture. I would have to wait two months before the price was reduced to $85. Well, it wasn’t worth taking the chance. I bought it and stopped at Joann’s on the way home to purchase some batting and upholstery fabric. The legs will need some sanding and repair too.
Still in all, this bench was a good deal. Even with the repairs, it will still be significantly less than the other ones I had ordered. Add to that the fact that this mid-century style is now becoming very popular, I think that I made a great find. I’ll post the “after” photos when I have completed the refurbishing.