Déjavu – February in Review

1000Giveaways

February 2011 was the month of love! The month that I challenged you to Fall in Love with Your Home. These are the highlights from February:

Intro: A brief little story about how we fell in love with our home before we lived in it.

 

Painted Smooth Ceilings
Why your ceilings should be scraped smooth or at least painted an ultra-bright white. More Light Reflected = Better Mood (Amoré)

 

Removing the Blinds
Reclaim up to 25% of your natural light by strategically hanging blinds and curtains or removing them altogether.

 

Making an Entrance – Spruce Up Your Entryway for You!
Why not create an entryway you are glad to come home to. This is the door you use more frequently to enter your home. Make your home welcome you with open arms.

 

1,000 Followers! Woo Hoo!
Hard to believe that I have over 1,000 followers. But, it’s true!

 

Love Your Home, Not The Stuff! Taming the Clutter
Those small piles, knick knacks and items left out can create visual clutter. It is distracting to your eyes and you mind. Some quick de-cluttering tips.

 

I LOVE Decorating with Books – Guest Post with Honey We’re Home
Love your books, but worried they are cluttering your home? Megan is here to save the day! I love her rainbow bookshelf.



Creating Seasonal Vignettes
Learn how to create attractive vignettes on your mantle, table tops and more.

 

Isn’t It Amazing What a Little Paint Can Do?
How to choose paint colors to evoke a mood and how to preview them in your room or on your home without lifting a paint brush!

 

1,000 Follower Giveaway Details!
Enter to win Pretty Handy Girl in a Box. A celebration of reaching 1,000 followers.

 

New Light Fixtures to Light Up Your House Love
I’m sharing with you my secret to finding affordable lighting for my home. And then sharing a tutorial for installation.

 

Creating an Outdoor Oasis – Guest Post from Jess at Frugal with a Flourish
Create an outside paradise with these easy to build trellis planter boxes.

 

Adding Moulding to Your Staircase – Guest Post from Emily the Decor Chick
You have to see this fabulous staircase makeover. Emily show us how she installed picture frame moulding on her staircase.


 

Storage and Organization in Your Mudroom – Guest Post from High Heels and a Hammer
A mudroom makeover and ideas for building your own bench and shelf for storage. Plus, a linen covered message board.

 

Faux Granite Countertops – Guest Post by Creative Kristi
Have ugly laminate counterops? Check out how Kristi transformed hers to look like granite for only $30!

 

Changing Out Your Pillows and Throws for a New Look
You can create a new look you’ll love in 5 minutes or less just by changing out your pillows, throws or other “soft” accessories in your room.

 

Covering an Unsightly View – Guest Post by Sandra from Sawdust and Paper Scraps
Have an ugly view out your window? Sandra shows us how to disguise the view and still let light in.

 

Decorating with Plants – Guest Post by Sand & Sisal
Who knew that plants could improve your mood? But, it’s true, these potted friends breathe life into our homes.

 

Creating a Focal Point – Guest Post by Two Story Cottage
Sometimes it isn’t your decor that pulls a room together, it is creating a focal point.

A special thank you to all my guest bloggers this month! I couldn’t have provided you with all these resources without their help!

Megan – Honey We’re Home

Jess – Frugal with a Flourish

Emily – Decor Chick

Kristen – High Heels and a Hammer

Kristi – Creative Kristi

Sandra – Sawdust and Paper Scraps

Kim – Sand & Sisal

Erin – Two Story Cottage

 

Coming up next month: More DIY tutorials, A special pass to view the Space Shuttle Launch Discovery, and more!

Creating a Focal Point – Guest Post by Two Story Cottage

As we say goodbye to February, I have one final guest blogger for you. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Erin from Two Story Cottage.

If you haven’t been in Erin’s Two Story Cottage, she gives her readers a warm open invitation to view her beautiful home.

Two Story Cottage Dining Room

Reading her blog is like leafing through the pages of a home design magazine! And she shares her decorating secrets with you! Her home can be described in one word, GORGEOUS! Be sure to accept her invitation to view her home today.

Please welcome Erin from Two Story Cottage.


Dear Friends of Pretty Handy Girl,

Hi! I’m Erin @ Two Story Cottage. I’m a catalogaholic who enjoys art and all things cheerful in decor. As a Mom of two little ones I’m working to achieve balance between my creative side and my responsibilities at home. I’m a DIY newbie so I’m a total work in progress!

Today is the last day of “Falling in Love with your Home” so I’m hoping that by now you are smitten. If not maybe creating a focal point will tip you over the edge. The goal of a focal point from a design perspective is to draw the viewer’s eye to a central point. Do you have a room in your home that needs some “umph”? Or maybe you are looking to focus attention away from something else? Creating a focal point may be your answer.

There are many great ways to accomplish this! I’ll show you some ways I have created focal points in my home.

A Focal Point Using Color
We have a TV over the fireplace in our family room which I like to draw attention away from. To do that I hung a large, bold painting on the perpendicular wall.  It draws your eye away from the TV wall for sure!


A Focal Point to Ground the Room
We have a living room/ dining room combination that felt like a bowling alley. To help define the living room I created a large focal point by adding a fireplace ( an ambitious project for a DIY beginner like me). The addition of the fireplace served two purposes. It took attention away from the looong space but also served as a central point to arrange furniture around.  I painted it white and used glaze to antique it for contrast so that it would stand out a little more while staying within my neutral palette.
A Focal point to distract from the obvious

My desk in the breakfast room is large and seemed to stick out like a sore thumb in our very open home. An unintended focal point! However, I did NOT want to get rid of my workspace so I decided to take attention away from its’ purpose. I took away all of my obvious office supplies and utilized the shelves to decorate it as if it were a buffet. I also mounted the hutch to the wall and added Ikea cabinets
underneath to store all my clutter.

A Focal Point to Create Interest
My dining room is very neutral and I love it but it needed something to jazz it up a little. Enter my accent wall. A few stripes and decoupaged plates took it from barely noticeable to “wow”.

Thanks for letting me guest post, Brittany.  You have definitely empowered me to find my inner DIY skills!

Thank you Erin! I hope you enjoyed her post on Focal Points. I realize I have some work to do in a few of my rooms now. How about you?


This concludes the “Falling in Love with Your Home” series at Pretty Handy Girl.

This is also your last chance to enter my 1,000 follower giveaway. Be sure to enter HERE,
because I will be choosing a winner on March 1st!

Decorating with Plants – Guest Post from Sand & Sisal

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Today, I have another special guest for you. Kim from Sand & Sisal is here to share with us some tips for using plants to decorate and improve our homes.

And the best news is that you don’t need a green thumb to care for many of these. She breaks down each plant’s water and light needs.

If you haven’t been to Kim’s blog, you need to surf on over there right now (get it? Sand & Sisal, Surf?! Ha, ha, I’m so witty. One of my favorite projects she has tackled was renovating her 1949 Bathroom.

Bathroom Before

Bathroom After

Amazing transformation isn’t it?! Okay, now everyone kick back, and enjoy a guest post from my friend Kim at Sand & Sisal.

Hello everyone! I’m Kim from Sand & Sisal, and I’m so glad to be guest posting for Brittany’s “Fall in Love with Your Home” series today. Brittany and I are southern girls and actually live only a few hours away from each other, but we met through blogging and were Twitter friends. I was thrilled to meet her face to face at the Blissdom 2011 Conference held at Opryland in Nashville, TN.

PHC & SS

The Opryland Hotel has 9 acres of lush indoor gardens and even though there was snow outside the tropical foliage and flowers brought a touch of paradise that melted any vacationer’s wintery chill. Below are some pictures I took in their gorgeous Conservatory.

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Springtime (thankfully) is approaching fast here in the South, but you can have a taste of spring by bringing a bit of the tropics indoors! One of my favorite plants to have around the house, and had also covered Opryland’s gardens, is the Peace Lily. Its lush green foliage, beautiful white blooms, and low maintenance make the Peace Lily a household favorite.

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The Peace Lily requires low light and should be watered to keep soil moist but allow the soil to dry out between watering. The Peace Lily is one of the top 10 plants that clean the air in your home. They are known to reduce formaldehyde and carbon monoxide levels.

Do you have an empty corner that just needs something? I have several! The Majesty Palm, another “clean air plant” is what you need!

majesty palm

Majesty palms thrive on bright light and minimal water but I have found they do quite well in moderate light. I have several that are all on the north side of my home. Water these palms once a week but make sure they are not sitting in water or they will yellow and drop dead quickly.

Need a pop of color? The Flamingo Flower comes in red, pink, white, or lavender. It blooms year round and requires medium light with moist soil. I have found the Flamingo Flower to be an easy plant with a showy blooming performance.

flamingo flower

Another plant with bright, bold color is the Croton. Croton’s start out dark green but will develop bold color as they mature and are allowed to have bright light and cooler temperatures. So if your Croton is lacking in color, then move it to a bright window but don’t let it get overheated. It loves to be moist so this one requires watering at least once a week. The Croton is another top “clean air plant”.

croton plant

Plants not only help clean the oxygen in our homes but add a sense of tranquility and comfort to our indoor spaces. Choose an empty corner or a lonely tabletop and add lush plant, and I promise, you’ll smile, and maybe just breathe a bit better!

Kim

Thank you Kim! I love decorating with plants! They offer such life and texture to my vignettes.

After reading Kim’s post, I’m ready to try my thumb at a bigger species. So, I’m off to the nursery to buy one of those gorgeous majesty palms. I had not idea I could grow one of them in my home.

How about you? Do you have any plants you love to decorate with?

Covering Unsightly Window Views – Guest Post from Sawdust and Paper Scraps

I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts on “Falling in Love with Your Home” in February. We’re in the home stretch (yes, pun intended) now. Today I have my roomie from Blissdom, Sandra from Sawdust and Paper Scraps. She and I love our power tools, and LOVE to build things. I think it would be a blast to work on a collaborative project one day. She’s definitely my soul sister.

Please welcome the lovely Sandra from Sawdust and Paper Scraps who is going to show you how to disguise an ugly view!

Good morning Pretty Handy Girl fans! I’m Sandra from Sawdust and Paper Scraps, here to share an easy and inexpensive project to transform and beautify a window with a less-than-stellar-view!

(Or a window where you want privacy without blinds or drapes like a bathroom or shower.)

We have a basement and even after I added casing, trim and paint to the inside of my window… it was still really unattractive- outside!

So I went to Lowe’s and bought a $14 roll of frosted glass vinyl window cling!
Before installing, I made sure my window was as clean as possible.  I had to clean AND scrape off some paint because SOMEONE was a little sloppy!  (uhem-me)

I installed it on one window by myself and it was something like a scene from an I Love Lucy rerun.  Vinyl flopping down over my head, sliding off one side while I was trying to smooth out the other…
Definitely easier to install with 2 people. But do-able with only one!

The instructions for the stuff I bought said to spray the window and the sticky side of the vinyl (with a liquid that you can purchase separately. But, you can also use a soapy water mixture in a spray bottle).  You have to peel off the backing which I did just a little at a time while person 2 sprayed and then stick it to the window.

After you put the vinyl on the window, use a utility knife to trim off the excess and a credit card or little squeegie to smooth out the wrinkles and push the extra liquid out from under the vinyl.  While it’s wet, you can pull it off and reposition it- so keep it all wet until you have it placed just right.  Then let it dry.  That’s it!

Easy.

I think it’s a big improvement for relatively little cost or effort.

This particular room is my daughter’s playroom so I also built some shutters,


a wall of storage,

and a playhouse. If you’re looking for another project to whip up!

But it all started with the window-well.

And a little vinyl cling!

Thanks for having me Brittany!  And thanks for letting me share with you all one thing I did to help me “Fall in Love with My HOME!”

Thank you Sandra! Great tutorial. I love how easy and quick that solution was. If you haven’t been to Sandra’s blog, you need to zoom over there now. She is the Queen of built-ins and decorative mouldings. Plus, she has just enough crafts to keep you creative!

Changing Out Your Pillows for a New Look

ClubChairAfter

Winter is almost over, and not a moment too soon! I have been hanging onto my Christmas cards and warm fuzzy pillows and throw (from Pier One). But, I have been feeling the Winter blues. So, I decided to make a quick change to the line up in our living room. (Hey, Pretty Handsome Guy, did you like how I used a football term?! ha, ha.)

By the way, speaking of Pretty Handsome Guy, today is his birthday! He’s the big 4-0! Woohoo! I have four months to tease him about being 40 until my counter ticks over too. Then I’ll have to shut up about it.

Okay, sorry for the diversion, back to the topic at hand, falling in love with your room by changing out pillows.

Couch Before - Christmas Pillows and Throw

Sometimes falling in love with a room again is simply a matter of changing out your fabrics or pillows, throws, place mats, runners, a rug, etc. (Especially if you have an old couch that you are hiding under a slipcover.)

I had a few minutes without the kids the other day and suddenly found myself at the back of Steinmart in the pillow section. Within 15 minutes I had grabbed several discounted pillows and was running for the register before I had to pick up Pretty Handsome Boy #2. (Anyone else been in that mad dash to the register using up EVERY single minute before it is time to reclaim your children? Yeah, I figured I was the only one.)

When I got home, I performed transformation magic on the two chairs and sofa in our living room.

Wingback Chair Before

Wing Back Chair After

Club Chair Before

Oh – you eagle eye you – Yes, I know you just saw that pillow in the wingback chair above. I just moved it. FREE transformation Baby!

Club Chair After

Couch Before

Couch After (Throw from Club Chair Before)

Couch After - Close Up Pillows

As you can see in the above picture, I FINALLY put away all my Christmas cards that were displayed on the shutters in the background. So, how about your home? Do you have a room that could benefit from just a few new fabrics? Try it, this is the quickest way to transform a room.
I hope you will check out some other ways to “Fall in Love with Your Home Series”. in February!

Faux Granite Painted Countertops – Guest Post by Creative Kristi

Covered Access Panel

Hey all, I’m super excited to share a sweet friend with you today. I met Kristi at Blissdom and she is one of the most unselfish women I’ve ever met. She blows me away when it comes to her blogging knowledge and business savvy . But, what I really wanted her to show you was her faux granite countertops! If you hate your countertops, you are going to want to see this!

But, first a little more about Kristi’s blog. Kristi truly is creative, she blogs about crafts, home renovations, and oodles of other ideas! Check out this ingenious solution she came up with for hiding an access panel in her home:

She turned it into a cute framed chalkboard!

Be sure to hop over to her blog to get the full effect of Creative Kristi!

Now, please welcome Creative Kristi to Pretty Handy Girl:

 

Hey all! My name is Kristi & I blog at Creative Kristi. A little about me: I’ve been blogging for over 2 years & just love it-it’s my creative outlet. I’m married for 4 years to my wonderful husband, Military Man, who is in the Army National Guard. We have two beautiful kids- Little Man who is 3 & Miss E who is 8 months. We live in Maine & are SO READY for spring – how about you?

I’m so happy that Brittany asked me to share my counter-tops with you during her “Fall in Love with Your Home” series because doing this really did help me fall more in love with the home we have rather than always pine about what we didn’t have.

See, I had these ahem lovely baby blue countertops (with matching wall paint) when we moved in:

While I’m sure many of you are just so jealous of my very 1980′s kitchen, I was not so much a fan. But getting new countertops was not in the budget for a very long time. So I started researching alternative countertops. I loved concrete counters but when I priced it out it was still pretty expensive-even the DIY version. Then one day I stumbled upon someone who had painted their countertops to look like marble. I’m not a fan of marble but I thought surely the same concept could apply to granite counters. Nevermind that I am not an artist-I can’t even draw a person! I decided to just go for it. The materials listed online were very expensive paint and sealer-I figured I could try it with little bottles of acrylic craft paint and a glossy sealer (supplies listed below) I found at my local hardware store.

It took me one week and many bottles of acrylic paint but less than $30 later I had my ‘granite’ countertops!

It worked, looked amazing & two years later it still looks new! (You can read more about the transformation HERE.)

I even put together a video tutorial so that you can do your own if you’d like! You can watch it on YouTube HERE.

Here is a close up of the ‘granite’ I created.

I know that there are counter top paints now out on the market but I can pretty much guarantee they don’t come close to this level of ‘fooling’ people because they are usually only one or two colors, you need multiple colors & varying patterns in order to mimic mother nature. Besides I think acrylic paints, a gloss sealer & paper towels might just be cheaper! I still (2+ years later) get asked all the time when we got our new granite counters!

Supplies:

  • One U-G-L-Y laminate countertop (mine was blue)
  • A cleaner of some type and a rag (I used a 50/50 mixture of vinegar to water- as I do to clean most surfaces in my house)
  • 1 Quart of Kilz primer (or other stain blocking primer-you need something that will ‘block out’ the color underneath & also give your acrylic paint something to ‘stick to’)
  • Acrylic Paint in colors to match a print out of granite you like. (Just google granite countertops and find an online store that has close ups of the granite…find one you like, print the picture and head off to the craft store!)

I used FolkArt brand (made by Plaid) and the colors I used are: 938-Licorice, 425-Medium Grey, 2381-Battleship Grey (I did one section of my counter top in this and didn’t like it so used it very very sparingly after that), 450-Parchment, 602- Country Twill, and applied with an old toothbrush to just lightly mist the counter top: 660-Metallic Pure Gold.

  • An old toothbrush
  • paper towels
  • a piece of cardboard or something to squirt your paint onto.
  • Foam brushes (for clear coat application)
  • Some form of high gloss clear coat-non-yellowing (I used: Water-based Polycrylic Protective Finish in Clear Gloss-I only bought 1 QT. I believe but it will depend on how much counter space you are painting)

Thank you again Brittany for letting me share my favorite tutorial & if any of you try this please feel free to send me pictures-I would love to see them & feature them on my blog!

Have a happy day,

Thank you Kristi. Okay, so seriously, isn’t that an amazing transformation! I love that she was able to re-create the look of granite so successfully.

I know there may be some doubters amongst you that don’t believe that you can repaint laminate counters and have them last. Well, I can vouch for the fact that you can re-paint laminate countertops because ours has lasted over three years. You can see them in my guest bathroom vanity makeover where I painted over the harvest gold counters.

Those counters still look almost new. The only issue popping up is that there are hard water stains right behind the sink, but that would happen regardless of the counter surface. I hate hard water.

I hope you are enjoying the “Fall in Love with Your Home Series”.

 

Storage and Organization in Your Mudroom – Guest Post by High Heels and a Hammer

WholeStorageUnit

Welcome back, I have a very special guest today. She’s another power tool junky, but she wears high heels (I myself struggle with that skill). Perhaps she will take me under her wing and show me some tips for wearing high heels comfortably.

If you haven’t guessed who my guest is today, it is Kristen from High Heels and a Hammer!

Well, if you have been deprived of Kristen’s blog and haven’t realized how amazing she is, let me just show you:

She built that headboard herself. Isn’t it beautiful! But, that’s nothing, wait ’til you see what she has for show-and-tell today! She is going to show you how to “Fall in Love with Your Home” via the most used room in her home, the mudroom. Grab your hammers and click your heels together as we welcome Kristen to Pretty Handy Girl! (Tee hee, get it, hammers and heels? I’m such a nerd.)

Hi everyone, I’m Kristen from High Heels and a Hammer and I’m thrilled to be here on Brittany’s blog today.  I have long admired her talent and creativity and was delighted to get the chance to hang out with her at Blissdom.  She is sincere, supportive, and has a genuine desire to help others.

I recently finished revamping my back entryway.  As my old house did not have a proper entryway, I was beyond excited to have a space for backpacks, boots, and snowy jackets.  There was only one problem with my new space, it lacked organization and function.  This is what our mudroom looked like when we moved in.

And here it is now.

After pricing out many options, I decided to build a bench and shelf system using modified plans from Ana White.  I chose to make my bench and shelf out of select pine.  Because I planned on painting them white, I knew I could afford to use a less expensive wood.

I varied the spacing of the cubbies for the bench because I wanted a few bigger baskets for soccer socks and shoes and a smaller one for the dog’s leashes and extra collars.

I made a cushion using foam and a bright, graphic fabric.  Now we can be sitting pretty while we’re taking of our boots and soccer cleats. :)

For the shelf, I chose to keep the spacing uniform because I liked both the look and the functionality better.  A set of hooks makes hanging up jackets an easy chore, and a few more baskets provide accessible storage for smaller items.

The finished result is a bench and shelf system that is both functional and beautiful.

Like most families, a tremendous amount of paper passes through our home.  Often this includes permission slips, notices, and other time sensitive items that could easily get lost in the clutter that tends to pile up on our counters.  Keeping these important papers in plain sight inspired another vital addition to an organized and efficient entryway system: a message center.  Because we are a fairly large family, I decided we needed a fairly large message center:

I built a message center (from Janell’s instructions) using a 30″ x 60″ project panel, 1 x 3′s, 1 x 2′s, cork, and a strip of magnetic steel.  I framed out the cork with the 1 x 3′s and added 2 1 x 2 strips at the top for interest.

And because I like things to look pretty I chose to cover the cork with a creamy linen fabric and trim it out with beautiful braided cording.  No more frantic searches for permission slips, or forgotten phone messages.

Our back entryway is one of the most used rooms of our home.  I want it to function in a way that is useful and practical.  The fact that it’s cheerful and pretty is icing on the cake.

I hope you all enjoyed seeing my back entryway/mudroom transformation.  Thank you so much for having me Brittany.

P.s. I am having a giveaway on my blog for a $50 VISA gift card. I hope you will stop by to ENTER!

So, what do you think? Are you loving her mudroom bench, coat rack, and message board organization? I am! I can’t tell you how important it is to have your mudroom organized and standing at the ready to help you on your way in and out of your home each day. Ask my friend Reneé how her mudroom organization has saved her sanity.

 

I know our mudroom bench and coat rack is the workhorse of our family.

 

It really is the one thing that makes me love coming into my home. Okay, so is this!
Don’t feel comfortable building your own? How about one of these affordable options? (Commission Links, click on image for more information.)

French Country "French Maple" & "Weathered Linen" Hall Tree with Storage BenchWhite Storage Bench with Seat and 11 in. Height x 10.5 in. Wide Cubbie StorageHall Bench with 3 Baskets by Winsome Wood


Creating an Outdoor Oasis – Guest Post by Frugal with a Flourish

Yesterday we had a 78F day in NC. I spent most of the day raking leaves out of our planter beds. I was so thrilled to see little green plants poking through the soil. I don’t know about you, but I am sooooo ready for Spring! Old man winter better be packing his bags pronto.

In anticipation of warmer weather, I have a special guest to help us with “Falling in Love with Your Home” on the outside! She took a ho-hum patio and created an outdoor oasis with trellis planters!


She is none other than Jess from Frugal with a Flourish!

Jess is so down to earth and a pleasure to talk to. After 5 minutes talking to her, I felt as comfortable as if I was talking to a long time friend. Her blog is just as warm and friendly. If you haven’t been to Frugal with a Flourish, you have to take a few minutes to peruse her blog.

One of my favorite projects that she shared was creating these beautiful bird silhouette plates for $5!!! Yup, you read that right. One Abe Lincoln!

I really need to get my act in gear and make some of these! I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Without further delay, put your hands together and give Jess a big warm Pretty Handy Girl welcome! Yeaahhhh!

Hi guys! I am Jess from Frugal with a Flourish and I am so excited to be guest posting at Brittany’s today! People like Brittany helped to inspired me to take on this project! Today I want to talk about loving your outdoor space even if what you have isn’t a whole lot. We are so close to spring that I know that is going to be an area that will be on all of our minds soon! Because of that, I would like to share with you my Patio Redo I did last spring!

What we started with was this – the world’s smallest patio. Isn’t it just pitiful?? I decided that I wanted to turn it into a book nook, since a single chair was almost the only thing that that would fit out there.

So what did I do to transform it? Check it out!

Ta-da! I love it! Here are some more pics! A view from farther away. It looks great from the street! (And per the hubby – my neighbors confessed to being a lil’ jealous of it!)

Now how did I take this from a lonely slab of concrete to a lush little getaway? Let’s break it down.
First, I added these fantastic lattice planters. I built these with my own two little hands – with very little assistance from the hubby – mainly moral support!

These planters were the first thing that I had ever built or conceptualized in my head after looking at a picture. And I have to tell you guys that I have been HOOKED on power tools ever since! If you are interested in how to build them – hop over and check out my detailed tutorial. I hope it inspires you to want to get out there and pick up a nail gun too!
I also got some brackets and hung my PB Knockoff Mason Jar Lanterns out there! This provided two important elements. One, they gave off a lovely glow as it got a little closer to dusk. But more importantly those were citronella candles! So they also provided a little barrier around the patio to ward off those nasty mosquitoes!

Now, to block off the corner a little more from the street, I also added two shepherd’s hooks with hanging baskets and some other planters. Having all the flowers out there was fantastic over the summer months!

Speaking of flowers – I am in love with the ones I put in my planters! They are called Mandevilla or Brazilian Jasmine. They have the most gorgeous blooms! I am actually trying to winter them. We will see how that works out!

They bloomed all summer long and can climb a trellis to over 15 feet high! Here is a pic from later this past summer to show you how well they grew up! Aren’t they gorgeous?


And of course, every book nook needs a place to sit and read. Here is mine. My chair is a rocker – which I love. I also have an umbrella for the stand under that table that I can use to shade my fair-skinned self if it is too sunny! Oh and I have a comfy pillow! It was a no sew pillow I made with some clearance outdoor fabric – the perfect cozy touch.

 

Ahhh… I just loved getting away out there this past summer and escaping into a good book! I can’t wait to get it all cleaned up again this spring. I hope this post inspires you to create your own beautiful space outside. Just remember, it doesn’t have to be big to be an oasis! Thanks again for having me Brittany!

Thank you Jess for sharing your backyard oasis with my readers. I too hope you have inspired them to create their own private paradise in their own yard.

Adding Moulding to Your Staircase – Decor Chick Guest Post

Today I want to welcome Emily from DecorChick! Isn’t she gorgeous! But, she’s not just attractive, she is brilliant! (And fun to hang with.)

Why do I think she’s brilliant? Because she has one extra special, creative brain. Just look what she made out of a little lonely drawer!

I love her home and all the changes she’s made to it. Especially her staircase makeover! I’m jealous of her staircase because, I live in a two story home, and I spend A LOT of time going up and down the stairs. Every step I take on the stained carpet stairs with an ugly banister and spindles makes me long to live in Texas in Emily’s home. I have been wanting to give our staircase a makeover since we moved in. Sadly, I haven’t started it yet. But, I know when I do I will be more in love with my home because of it.

Emily has agreed to share her staircase moulding tutorial with you today. So, please give her a big welcoming hug.

Heeeeeeeeeeeres, Emily:

Hi everyone, I’m Emily from Decorchick. I’m so happy to be posting on Brittany’s blog today. I’ve always been a fan of Brittany and her blog, and I was fortunate and got to hang out with her at Blissdom and it was so much fun. Brittany is such a sweetheart, but I know you all know that already. :)

I finished a big project (with the help of my Dad) and transformed our staircase wall with lots of moulding. I couldn’t be happier with the results and I will be showing you the makeover today.

So, let’s take a look at the before photos.

And now….the after!

Ahhh, don’t you love wainscoting??

I was actually smart for once and painted the wall white before we added any boxes. I know, can you believe it? I actually followed my own advice. :)

When you are trying to do wainscoting up a staircase, you are going to have odd angles and cuts. But this new little gadget my Dad introduced me to is so cool. You just set it on your angle, say for instance our staircase banister, and it tells you exactly what angle it’s sitting at.

Pretty neat right? Oh, and those are my Dad’s hands. I don’t have man-hands and hairy wrists.

The angle of my staircase is 37 degrees, so the cuts were all made to compliment that.

For the moulding, I chose to use the foam stuff again. The pieces I bought were 7ft in length and cost $2.38 for each piece. I ended up buying 27 pieces. So that is $64.26 just for the moulding for the stair boxes.

First thing we did was cut all of the pieces for all 21 boxes.

Then we used this make-shift template so we could glue each piece together at the right angle, and on a flat surface.

We glued 2 pieces at a time with hot glue, and let them cool.

Some pieces cooling…

And then we would glue a box together.

And eventually got all of these.

Then we put up the frames temporarily with double-sided tape to get the spacing correct, nailed them in with a nail gun, and added the chair rail. The rail is not an actual “chair rail” but is window casing trim. It is decorative like a chair rail and has a nice ledge to it.

Then came a LOT of caulking and spackling of all of the boxes and chair rail, more painting, and then done! And please, if you need to cover nail holes, use spackle and not caulking. I already knew this but for some dumb reason I used caulk and ended up redoing it with spackle. Caulk does not sand well and it gets rubbery. With spackle, it sands down nicely and you can’t even see the holes. Just my little tip!

I’ll just show you all more after photos because I know that’s what you really care about. :)

And here are a couple of night shots. P.S.- the sconces have flameless candles in them and they are on a timer, so they come on at the same time every day and stay on for 5 hours and turn off.

So what do you think? I think this is one of, if not, my favorite transformation so far. I think I always say that though. :) This wall was always a challenge to decorate, so that’s why it’s been empty for 2 years now. I think having the wall more as an architectural feature was the way to go.

To see how the design of the staircase came about, you can read about that here. To see a more detailed how-to of the moulding boxes you can read that here.

Source list:

  • Starburst Mirror – Pier 1 for $69 (was on sale over half off! The original price was $149)
  • Candle Sconces – Hobby Lobby $30 each (with half off)
  • Flameless candles – Pier 1. I already had these candles but had to buy one more for about $14. Pier 1 flameless candles are my favorite because they glow from the bottom up, instead of just the top like a lot of others do.

Materials – $64.26 for moulding boxes, and approximately $20 for the chair rail.

Wall color – Baguette from Sherwin Williams — (But it’s soon changing to a different color)

I hope you enjoyed my staircase makeover, and thank you so much for having me Brittany!

Thanks Emily! I appreciate that you shared your tutorial with us. What do you guys think? Pretty fab, huh?! Well, you haven’t seen nothin’ yet.

Checkout her fabulous pantry! Seriously, I love her pantry (and her Dad who helped her build the custom carousels for her pantry. DecorChick Dad, can you adopt me please!!!)

See for yourself:

Pantry Makeover HERE.

I hope you will hop over to her blog and tell her I sent you. Enjoy your visit!

Stay tuned, we have a few more guest posters helping me with “Falling in Love with Your Home” February!

New Light Fixtures to Light Up Your House Love

Earlier in the “Falling in Love with Your Home”series, we talked about increasing natural light. Today I will be expanding on the topic, but this time I’m talking about the man-made type of lighting!

As I mentioned in my previous post, in the quest to fall in love with our home, we have painted almost every room in our home, but I have also replaced almost all of the light fixtures as well!

There is no excuse for putting up with dated, dim, or just plain ugly light fixtures! (Although, I will accept “but, I have 25 foot ceilings” as an excuse.)

I know that sounds like it would cost a fortune, but honestly the average cost I’ve paid per light fixture is $30. I’ve paid as little as $5 and at most I paid $125 for the drum shade pendant in my office.

My sources for lighting are: Craig’s List, Habitat ReStore, Overstock.com, eBay and friends! A new source you might also try is DiggersList.com, it is kind of like a Craig’s List for building supplies.

One day’s haul from the Habitat ReStore!
$20 Semi-flush light fixture from Craig’s List.

And, you do not to spend money hiring an electrician. Removing and rewiring a light fixture should not stop you “Dead in Your Tracks.” Sorry, bad pun, I know. But, seriously, it isn’t rocket science. As long as you are safe and Turn Off the power (flip the circuit breaker) that your fixture is on, you should be able to replace your own light fixture.

Here is a good instructional video for replacing a ceiling light fixture:


Note: They mention you will need a helper in the video. I’ve only needed help when removing a heavy fixture (for example a ceiling fan.)

Still a little scared? Well, think of it this way, all you are doing is unscrewing screws, paying attention to how the light that you are removing is installed. Then repeat the same set up when installing the new. Easy peasy. Oh, and I don’t use the circuit tester (although I should). I turn the light on before I flip the circuit breaker. That way I can see when it is off.

To view another tutorial from Pretty Handy Girl for replacing wall mounted fixtures, CLICK HERE.

Now let the lighting parade begin:

In our foyer I wanted an open glass hanging fixture to light up the small space.

Before: Foyer Brass Light

But, I hated the brass light so much that I settled on a Costco semi-flush light that I paid $45 for.

Interim Foyer Light

Little did I know that I would find the perfect fixture a year later at our Habitat ReStore. A little Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint and I was in love with my new foyer light.

$10 Spray-painted Habitat Light Fixture. Tutorial HERE

We have all seen the hideous Hollywood style strip lights in a bathroom. That is exactly what we had in our master bathroom. I ended up finding this temporary fixture on Craig’s List.

Brushed Nickel wall mounted sconce from Craig’s List.

You have to love to hate this dated 1970′s fixture. Antique Brass and globes as big as duckpin bowling balls make for an interesting bathroom fixture.

An inexpensive wall mounted light fixture from Lowe’s really brought this bathroom into this decade (not to mention some paint and other updates. Details HERE.)
This shiny brass chandelier was the last of our light fixtures to be converted. I knew what I wanted here, but couldn’t find an affordable black chandelier.
Before: Dining Room Shiny Brass Chandelier
As luck would have it, I saw this baby hanging from a friend’s ceiling and remarked how much I liked it. Right there and then he told me I could have it. I’m only kicking myself for not installing it months sooner!
After: Black Chandelier
(FREE because it wasn’t a friend’s style! I know – seriously – don’t hate me.
Because I would if your friend gave it to you for free!)

When we moved into our home, the light fixture over the kitchen table was a dim 60 watt bulb fixture that really left me craving more light.

Before: Kitchen Brass & Glass Pendant Light

Okay, I really hesitated to post this next picture, but I refuse to hide any of my flaws from y’all. Well okay, maybe just a few.

I bought this light fixture off of Craig’s List hoping to improve the light on our table. BIG MISTAKE! It was such a harsh and direct light that I turned around and sold it a month later.

Interim Light: Modern Glass & Brushed Nickel.
“Ummm, Mr. Spielberg, I have something you might be interested to see in my kitchen.”
WHAT WAS I THINKING?

A few keystrokes on the keyboard brought me to this little gem for our kitchen. I just love the quaintness of this light fixture that I found on Overstock.com. Small, whimsical, yet not too cutesy. To center the chandelier over our kitchen table, I installed a ceiling toggle style hook and sewed a swag cover to hide the chain.

After: Rustic Bronze and Silver Leaf Chandelier $65 from Overstock.com

Chandeliers aren’t just for your dining areas. I’ve seen them in laundry rooms, bedrooms, and even mudrooms!

Black iron & rope 3-arm Chandelier.
Renee’s $10 Habitat ReStore light that we installed in her mudroom.

Don’t neglect your exterior lighting. These wall mounted lights were so small and looked very weathered.

Before: Dirty Brass & Shiny Black Exterior Lights

I finally found some beautiful old world lanterns at Lowe’s for $24 each! SCORE!

After: Copper Wall Mounted Exterior Lights. Installation Tutorial HERE.

Light fixtures don’t have to be hard wired. Some ambient lighting in our home comes from plug-in style lighting. Like these pendant lamps I made from minnow (fish) traps:

They started life as a $5 fisherman’s trap.
And now they have a new life on our screened porch.
$3 Thrift Store Lantern retrofitted with a plug in light kit.
Perfect for reading stories in Pretty Handsome Son #1′s bed.

I saved my favorite light for last. This star light hangs in our upstair’s hallway. The light is on a timer and gives off just enough illumnation for our little late night sleepwalkers.
Paper star light plugs into nearby outlet and is set on a timer.

So how about your home? Do you have any light fixtures you detest? Have you scoured Craig’s List? Be sure to check weekly for new postings.

1,000 Follower Giveaway! Pretty Handy Girl in a Box + Paint Preview + $25 Amazon Gift Card

Whoa, that title is a mouthful! But this giveaway is a BIG deal!
I’m celebrating reaching 1,000 followers!
One lucky reader will receive Pretty Handy Girl in a box, containing all of these fabulous items:
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Gray Sweater Vase
  • Mouse trap Notepad
  • Aged Bucket with Your Monogram
  • Larry’s Beans Gourmet St. Valentine’s Blend Coffee (Durham, NC specialty)
  • Escazú Sea Salt Chocolate Bar (Raleigh, NC delicacy)
  • Pottery Barn Inspired Lantern
Plus, 1 Free Paint Preview for your Home or Room!
How to Win:
You have up to 5 chances to win. Simply follow the directions below and leave a comment on this post for each one you complete. ***Be sure to leave your email address if it isn’t in your google profile.***

1. Comment telling me you want to be entered into the giveaway. (That was easy wasn’t it?)

Here are your additional chances:

2. Comment to let me know you are following my blog (Google Friend or Feedburner).
3. Comment to tell me that you “Like” Pretty Handy Girl on Facebook
4. Comment to tell me that you “Follow me” on Twitter: @PrettyHandyGirl
5. Comment to tell me that you either “Tweeted or Mentioned” my giveaway on Facebook. (Here is the short link to this post: http://goo.gl/fb/wH7NO )

Drawing:
At the end of February 2011, I will pick the one lucky winner. If you don’t win, stick around. If I reach 2,000 followers I’ll have another giveaway (guaranteed!)

Isn’t it Amazing What a Little Paint Can Do?

No truer words have ever been spoken. I LOVE PAINT! I will always profess my undying love to this amazing mood changer! In the course of over three years (the time we’ve owned our house), we have repainted almost every room in our home. Each room must convey a single emotion when we enter.

Kitchen = Sunny
Living Room = Cozy
Our Bedroom = Relaxing
Office = Calm
Mudroom = Inviting
Laundry Room = Fresh

Being an artist makes me a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to color.

I’d love to share some of my tips for picking out the perfect paint colors. Hopefully this will protect you from making a bad decision. But, rest assured that if you really don’t LOVE the color after you have painted one wall, you can take your paint back to the store and ask the “paint guy” to tweak the color for you. Or worst case scenario, you have to buy a new gallon. (Well, okay, that can get expensive.)

But, if you find a color you truly “LOVE”, it will translate into loving your home. So worth it in my book!

 

Before I paint any room, I go to several paint departments and gather several color chips that appeal to me. The colors that I REALLY think I’m going to like, I will grab a few extra chips of (shhhh, don’t rat me out for stealing paint chips.)

When I get home, I tuck the chips behind the switch plate cover, in the molding, or tape them on several different walls in the room. It is important to place the chips next to your trim moulding so you can see if the color will work well next to it.

After looking at the chips for at least a week during different times of day and different lighting (sunny or cloudy days) I am usually able to narrow down my choices to 2 or 3 choices.

Next I run back to the paint department and buy or have samples mixed up of the colors I like. Because I am a “work until I get it done” type person, I go ahead and paint big swatches on the wall next to the moulding on all four walls.  This is important because a color that looks good on your sunny wall may not look so good on a shady wall. And you need to see the colors and how they coordinate with the wall color in an adjoining room. If you aren’t quite ready to commit to painting your wall, go ahead and buy some poster boards and paint the swatches on the poster board and hang or prop them up in your room.

A few things to keep in mind while you are looking at a color. Just be aware that the color may change as the seasons change. Winter yields brighter and cooler colored light in our home because the trees are bare. In the summer, our light changes to a greener cast and less harsh lighting as the trees fill out with leaves. I can tell you right now, that I wait for summer to roll around before choosing any colors in the green or yellow family. I need to make sure they look good with the light reflecting off the leaves and into the room.

If you are still having trouble choosing a color, invite a friend over who will give you their HONEST opinion.

If you STILL can’t decide, never fear – Pretty Handy Girl is here! “Here I come to save your color dilemma!”

Introducing Paint Preview:

Some of us are visual people, we REALLY need to see the room painted before we know what a color is going to look like up on all four walls. A special thanks to Emily at Decor Chick for testing my new venture last week. I’m calling it Paint Preview. Thanks to the wonder of technology, I can now virtually paint any room in your home or the exterior of your home! Save yourself time and money by previewing your painting project before the first drop cloth is laid.

Emily’s Living Room Before – SW Baguette
Emily’s Living Room Paint Previewed – SW Anew Gray

Want more information about Paint Preview? CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.

Until then, I’m thinking about repainting our garage doors and adding grills to them. What do you think?

Our Home Before
Our Garage Paint Previewed

 

Creating Seasonal Vignettes

6_tips_for_seasonal_vignettes

I like to revitalize my love for a room by switching out the décor throughout the year. Decorating for the season gives the room a fresh look. Mantles are the ideal place to begin:

Autumn

 Christmas

Valentine’s Day

Springtime

But, if you don’t have a mantle, you can use any flat surface!

Side Table

Pedestal

Pie Safe Cabinet

Built-in Bookshelf

Recessed Window Seat

Here are six tips for creating successful vignettes:

1. Varied heights

Try to create a visual triangle. Have one tallest object, then a 2nd tallest and a shortest. I use books all the time to help elevate an object that might be at the same height as another object. Attractive wooden crates or boxes covered with cloth can work too.

2. Varied textures

Using a variety of textures creates visual interest. In the picture below I have a ceramic bird sitting on torn strips of newspaper in a plaster container on top of an embroidered linen and some books.

3. Color palette

Choosing a color palette of 3 colors or less is an easy way to create an appealing vignette. For my Valentine’s Day vignette I chose to work with primarily red and white with some black.

The next year, the color palette was red, aqua and white.

4. Odd numbered groupings

Vignettes and small groupings tend to look better when you use an odd number of objects.

For example, in the grouping above, I have assembled:

1. Birdhouse on a candlestick (visually they are one object)

2. Bird nest in pedestal (again visually counts as one)

3. Stack of books

4. Picture frame

5. Felted rose laying in front of the picture frame.

5. Varied Shapes and Scale

Vignettes work well if you can vary the shape and scale of your objects. Grouping many objects of the same size and shape will not give your eye enough to explore and study. Always take a step back from your vignette to make sure that your grouping has different shapes and sizes represented.

6. It’s Your Décor

This is the most important rule! Make sure you create something you like. Use your own objects. And if you love it, that is all that matters. It really doesn’t have to meet someone else’s criteria of perfection. I wrote a whole post on imperfect decorating HERE.

Happy Decorating!

  

Did you spy Christmas cards in the background? Sure, it is February, but I love them too much to take them down yet. If you’d like to read more “Fall in Love with Your Home” February posts, click on the button below to see a recap of this month’s theme:

 

I Love Decorating with Books – Guest Post from Honey We’re Home

On the heels of my de-cluttering post, I have a special guest who is going to show you how you can keep all your books and make them look attractive instead of cluttered! Hooray for book lovers!!! And once you see how she used her books as décor, you are going to run to your bookshelves and create another reason to fall in love with your home!

Without any further waiting, I’d like to introduce Megan from Honey We’re Home
(and her fabulous helper and right hand man, James.) 

Okay, but wait, before I let her talk, I have to tell you that Megan’s home is absolutely gorgeous. If you haven’t visited her blog, do so NOW!

What, you are still here? Seriously! Look, here are just a few pictures from her home:

Okay, so you are back, and NOW without any further delay, Please welcome Megan!

Although I had admired Brittany’s handiwork and especially her boy’s reading nook for a long time from afar, I was thrilled to get to meet her in person at Blissdom.  Needless to say, she is so down-to-earth and personable and really listens to you when you are talking.  Eye contact and all.  And she really is purely intent on showing her readers how they can accomplish the kinds of projects she does in her home in theirs!

What I’m sharing with you today is how I’ve used books as decor in our home.  I love reading and have amassed quite a collection of books over the years.  It’s funny how you can tell a lot about a person by the books they read.  In my house, you would guess I’m into God/religion/spirituality, decor/interior design, parenting/babies, fashion, and cooking.  My husband’s books are all about business, law, and history.

I’ve received a lot of inspiration for decorating with books from blogland and I especially love those “rainbow” bookshelves and wanted to try my hand at it.  I’m pretty familiar with my books, so I’m sure I won’t have any trouble locating them even though they aren’t categorized by subject.

Here’s my rainbow bookshelf in the upstairs hallway.  All I did was group the books into rainbow order by their spines and then arrange them on the shelf.   I reworked it a couple of times, and ended up with this:

basket, book, James, walls, J bath 001
basket, book, James, walls, J bath 002

Here’s the close up:
basket, book, James, walls, J bath 007 basket, book, James, walls, J bath 004 basket, book, James, walls, J bath 006
There’s barely a room in my house that doesn’t have books, for example:
My Office
image
image
image
Kitchen
Books 007
Pantry
image
James’ Nursery
Books 023
 Books 026

Thanks for having me Brittany!!

Be sure to check out some other ways you can “Fall in Love with Your Home!”

Love Your Home, Not The Stuff! Taming the Clutter

get-organized-save-time-125

Okay, we’ve all seen an episode of Hoarders by now. The guy that hasn’t seen the carpet in his home in 5 years or the woman who saves everything! We see those extreme examples of clutter and can’t imagine how they can live like that.

But, the question is, do you see clutter in your own home? I can tell you that I have clutter. Not, OMG call Hoarders type clutter, but small piles of it. A few extra knick knacks, some papers that need to be filed or those horrid happy meal toys! They start out in corners, bookshelves, flat surfaces. Sometimes they stay like that, they are there but not “bite you on the nose” noticeable most of the time. And sometimes they multiply and become little families of clutter. Even the smallest bits of clutter are noticed by your eyes, and your brain processes it. This is what I call visual clutter.

In college, I used to have to clean my entire room before I could start on my illustration assignments. I do the same thing in our garage (which is cluttered now) before I can start on a new project.

I NEED the visual calmness of a clean room so I could be more creative and more productive.

This week, I want you to pick one room. Preferably the room you spend the most time in. Is it your kitchen or your home office? Whatever it is, this is the room that will make you happy when you are done. It is the room that will allow you to “Fall in Love with Your Home.”

Materials:
Four Boxes (or laundry bins)
Large Trash Bag
Different Colored Sheets of Paper
Thick Marker
Cleaning rags
Windex or general cleaners

Begin by gathering your four boxes.Label each one with these labels: KEEP, DONATE or SELL, RECYCLE, TRASH. I like to use a different color for each label so I don’t accidentally toss something in the wrong bin.

  • KEEP = Things that don’t belong in that rom or to be stored away somewhere else
  • DONATE or SELL = Goodwill, Thrift store or FreeCycle.org donation. Or sell via yardsale, Craig’s List, eBay or other sales venue.
  • RECYCLE = paper, glass, cans, and other curbside recycling. Also, dry-cleaner hangers, plastic bags, or other items that can be re-used. I.e. Old cloths or linens that can be cut up for cleaning rags.
  • TRASH = Anything worthless in value. I like to line the trash bin with a big plastic bag to make it easier to empty.

Start in one area of the room (I like to start furthest from the door or work clockwise from the door.) This will be the first zone you are going to work in. Begin by taking any and all the items from that zone (unless the item has a place to be stored in that room. In that case, put it away.)

Once the zone is clear, clean off all the surfaces.

Now either put the items away that are staying (preferably out of sight) or place it in one of the four bins.

If you find yourself stuck ask yourself these questions:

  1. Have I used or worn it in the last 6 mos? 1 year?
  2. “Will this item help me create the home I want” – Peter Walsh
  3. Is this item irreplaceable?

If the answer to any of those questions is “No”, then say adieu to it now!

If you find yourself stuck. Try the 1 year box idea. Create another box and put anything you are undecided about inside. Seal it up and write a date 1 year from today on it. Next year when you find that box in storage, get rid of it. Don’t even open it. If you didn’t miss the items inside then you don’t need them. Just donate it.

Continue until you have cleared your zone.

Assess the “KEEP” items and decide which ones can go back in that zone. Be sure to store them out of sight. Don’t allow them to become visual clutter in your room.

I’m going to stop here, because I have some important pieces of furniture for storing items at my reach, but not in my visual line of sight.

First is my Craig’s List pie safe:

This $65 special is not very big.
Approximately 36″ wide by 60″ tall.
But, it stores everything but the kitchen sink!

Top Shelf:

  • school papers
  • school work
  • kids artwork
  • Workbooks
  • Coloring Books
  • Favorite Magazines
  • Coupon Binder Sleeves

Next shelf:

  • charging station (tutorial to come)
  • Cell phones
  • Cameras
  • Battery chargers
  • Walkie Talkies
  • Recipe Box

Drawers:

  • Left: Pretty Handsome Guy’s mail
  • Rigth: Pretty Handy Girl’s mail

Bottom shelf:

  • Cookbooks

Renee’s credenza (another Craig’s List find):

Top drawers:

  • Left drawer: Mail for him
  • Right drawer: Mail for her
  • Lined baskets store all of their daughter’s art supplies! Brilliant and beautiful.

Okay, back to de-cluttering. When you have finished going through the whole room go ahead and start removing the bins from the room. Empty the trash, dump the recycling in the curbside recycling and sort out any other items that aren’t curbside. Put them in your car so you can get rid of them while you are running errands (drycleaner, grocery store, etc.)

Now, sort through the Donate/Sell box. Grab a notepad to jot down anything you will be donating. Then put that pile in a bag and put it in your car as well. Be sure to run by Goodwill or the thrift store one day this week. Put the items you intend to sell in a dedicated spot in storage. Make a commitment to yourself to sell them within 3-6 mos. and donate them if you haven’t after that time frame. (Pretty Handsome Guy might be calling me out on this one.)

Finally, sort through the KEEP box, bring the box with you around the house, and stop in each room. Put away all the items that belong in that room. If you have to, go ahead and leave the items for that room somewhere to be put away later. Remember today you are only tackling the one room!

My closet, de-cluttered in less than 30 minutes.
Color coordinated clothes help you pick outfits faster.
And makes you aware of what colors you have enough of in your wardrobe.

Go back to the room you just de-cluttered. Sit there and breathe in. Allow yourself to enjoy the calmness of a clean and clutter-free space. Let yourself fall in love with this space. Anytime you find yourself disgusted with your home, go back to this space and rekindle that flame.

Now get crackin’ and eliminate that visual clutter. Need some help controlling clutter? Let Simplify 101 give you a jumpstart with a FREE mini guide, click on the button below to get started.

1,000 Followers! No way!

Some of you may have noticed that I reached the 1,000th Google Friend follower (not that I’m counting. Okay, I’m trying not to.) I really wasn’t expecting this many readers to jump on board so quickly. So, y’all caught me off guard.

Some of my most recent readers have come over from Today’s Creative Blog or The Stories of A to Z. (Thank you Kim & Beth!) Well, I’m so glad you are here and I hope you enjoy my blog.

In the tradition of celebrating certain follower milestones, I will be putting together a giveaway for one lucky follower. In the past I gave away a Hollowed Out Book  with a gift card to Border’s inside.

and a CD/DVD Visor Wallet with a gift card to Amazon.com inside.

But, this time I’m going to be offering something REALLY special! You’ll have to wait to see what it is. I need to work out a few more details, but I should be sharing what the giveaway is and how you can win soon. Please bear with me until then. (Can you tell I was really surprised by this milestone?!)

In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying the “Falling in Love with Your Home” series.

Up tomorrow: learning some de-cluttering secrets!

Making an Entrance – Sprucing Up Your Entryway

If your home is like ours, we have two entrances. The front door,

and the door near our driveway. The latter is used about 95% of the time by us and our friends.

Creating an inviting entrance for yourself is so important for falling in love with your home.

Think about it this way: How many times do you go in and out of your home through that one doorway? How many times do guests go in and out of that doorway? Do you follow me? So, it is you who should be welcomed home to your lovely home first and foremost!

This is what our family entrance looked like a few months ago:

How I lived with that ugly brown aluminum door for 3 years, I will never know. And let’s not even talk about that little red CPI security sticker!

Lucky for us, a neighbor sold us her full view storm door when they added a garage onto their home. Had they not, I probably would still be scouring the Habitat ReStore. Or at least I would have painted the old door to match the house or use a more inviting color than doo-doo brown.

After I installed the storm door, I made sure to repaint the threshold as well. What?! You can’t see behind “Doo Doo Brown” above, is this?

Niiiiiice. Gold threshold with silver metal showing through. Not exactly my favorite rustic look. The easiest way to repaint it would have been to remove the threshold and spray paint it in the yard on a tarp. But, those screws weren’t going to budge for me. So, I masked off the entire doorway…

…storm door, floor, and…

…the mudroom to spray paint  one piece of threshold brushed nickel. Okay, call me crazy, but I was on a mission to make my entryway more inviting for myself. And I wasn’t about to get brushed nickel on any other surfaces.

Much better, don’t you think? And I can honestly say that after using automotive primer and then the Rustoleum Brushed Nickel metallic paint, the threshold still looks like new!

But, I didn’t stop there. I added a kick plate in matching brushed nickel. And replaced the door sweep as well. And splurged on a new door mat. {Love my new mat!}

Finally, looking beyond the doorstep, I add some pumpkin topiaries, plants, wreath or other decorations (depending on the season) to greet you – errr, I mean me.

My good friend has this adorable planter near her side entrance (that she uses about 95% of the time, too.) It is the perfect place to switch out plants, or other decorations depending on the season.

So, that takes care of the exterior, but don’t neglect the inside! I added a new coat of paint to the inside of the door (that my sweet departed maniacal dog had left claw marks all over it.) I was so anxious to freshen it up, I didn’t even tape off the windows.

After the paint dried, I used a razor blade to score…

…and then scrape off the paint.

And as a final, welcome home, I hung my message center just inside the door.

I’m so happy to be home!

So, what do you think? How does your home greet you? Does it welcome you with open arms or is it more of just a brief, “hi?”

Removing the Blinds – Let There Be Light

Welcome back. Today, I’m going to show you how to maximize the amount of light that comes in your windows. 

In my last post I talked about scraping and painting your ceilings to help reflect more natural light into your home. As we learned, more light can boost  your mood, making you happier and helping you love your home.

Today, as part of my continuing series “Fall in Love with Your Home February”, we will be focusing on the windows in your home.

If you have mini-blinds (well, in my case I had maxi-blinds), they can block up to 25% of the light coming in your room, even when they are raised! Look at your window blinds, curtains and/or valance. Do they cover more than half of a window pane? Or more than 3-4″. If they do, they are blocking light.

Take a look at this photo taken today in our bathroom. The “maxi-blinds” were completely pulled open (picture on the left), but look how much light they were blocking when I took them down (picture on the right). You can see there is more light being reflected on the ceiling and the door. And it is a cloudy day. Can you imagine how much light is blocked on a sunny day?

Next up, take a look in our master bedroom. The top pictures show the room with roman shades that covered one whole pane height, or almost half of the upper window. The bottom photo is taken around the same time of day with new shades hung much higher. The amount of light increased in the room is dramatic!
As you can see below, I hung the shades above the window, and they only overlap the window by about 3-4″.

I also added curtains to the windows, but the rod extends far enough to the sides that the curtain doesn’t cover the window.
When opened, they only slightly cover the window casing.
What you saw above is akin to cheating the size of your window. If you install the blinds  and hang the curtains  outside the window, it makes your windows appear larger than they are. 
Now, I’d like to bring in a professional interior designer so she can show you some of the rooms she has redesigned to maximize the amount of light coming into the windows. 
Introducing Caitlin Campbell from Symmetry Designs in San Jose, CA:
The photo below is from her portfolio. Believe it or not, the two pictures are from the same dining room. The photo on the left is the before picture. And the photo on the right shows the room with the bulky valance removed and curtains hung on the outside of the windows. Even with the new dark dining set, the room has a much brighter feel.
photo courtesy of Symmetry Designs
This living room that Caitlin designed, was a bit drab and dark
(even with an exposed glass door).
photo courtesy of Symmetry Designs
But, after removing the valance and opening the mini-blinds, this room beckons us to enter and enjoy. Look at all that natural light flooding in.

I understand that we all need privacy sometimes. So, feel free to draw your curtains or blinds at night. But, I beg of you, please open them every morning! Invite in a little sunshine to brighten your day. And find yourself falling in love with your home.

Disclosure: Those of you that know me, know that Caitlin is my sister, but she REALLY is a talented interior designer. Besides if I told you she was my sister from the get go you wouldn’t have paid attention to her fantastic room makeovers. But seriously, she is NCIDQ Certified and an Industry Member of ASID. So, if you live in the San Jose, CA and need some expert design advice, look her up!
A few products you might be interested in (commission based links):

Leaf Curtain Rod - Wrought Iron Leaf Curtain Rod – Wrought Iron
~Allow 3-4 weeks. Cannot express ship or ship to Alaska or Canada.





Acorn & Leaf Curtain Rod Acorn & Leaf Curtain Rod
Wrought iron acorn and leaf curtain rod. Available in three different sizes; 1/2″ Diameter. Made in the U.S.A. Curtain brackets sold separately (see link below). ~Allow 3-4 weeks. Cannot express ship or ship to Alaska or Canada.






120x60 Spring Summer 2011 New Collection

Painted Smooth Ceilings – Falling in Love with Your Home

Welcome back. Many of you may participate or read a weekly WIWW (What I Wear Wednesday). Those women in blogland, they really know how to put an outfit together. I am seriously jealous because sometimes I feel wardrobe challenged. Maybe you can help me. Here is what I wore Wednesday:

Ladies, if you want to copy my looks, here is the breakdown:
1. Hooded Knit T-shirt Top bought 15 yrs. ago at Gap
2. Gap Jeans bought about 5 yrs. ago. Those are authentic knee rips!
3. Dansko Clogs with the heels worn down to a hollow core.
4. Latex gloves (the better to paint with.)

This Pretty Handy Girl can’t wear her good duds on a painting day (although I’ve been known to do that occasionally.)

Painting is a nice segue into the first secret for “Falling in Love with Your Home”. Our home started out dark and dreary on the inside. Most of the rooms had dark wall colors, but the biggest problem was the dingy white popcorn ceilings. Those suckers are light sponges! They absorb the natural light and keep it all to themselves.

Here is a good example of the light difference between a smooth ceiling and a textured ceiling:

Both pictures were taken minutes apart in adjoining rooms that have the same south facing windows. The rooms are identical in size. The room on the left (master bedroom) has popcorn ceilings and light blue walls. If you look closely, you can see how each pock has a shadow. The texture effectively stops the light from being reflected. Meanwhile the ceiling on the right is smooth but the walls are a dark blue (son’s room). Despite the darker walls, the ceiling appears lighter because the light is reflected due to the lack of texture.

As you can see, we are able to lighten our rooms about 10 – 15% by scraping and painting just the ceilings! (Imagine what painting the walls a lighter color will do!)

Two more benefits of a smooth ceiling:

  • A smooth ceiling will visually raise the ceiling, while the textured ceiling draws your focus to the texture and makes the ceiling feel lower. You’ll have to trust me on this one.
  • And, a smooth ceiling will not collect as much dust. I don’t have to tell you how important that is for allergy sufferers (ahhh- choo! I’m allergic to dust mites.)

In summary, why do you want a bright and smooth ceiling? Because, it will reflect more light and natural light is a mood booster.  And during the seemingly never-ending winter months, we all need more sunlight to avoid mild depression or gloom. Translated: Better mood = Loving Your Room!

This is how we do it:

We have the popcorn (textured) ceilings scraped. Notice how I said, “Have” them scraped. I am handy – as you know – but there are certain tasks that I won’t do. I successfully scraped the ceiling in our pantry, but my neck was in pain for a week afterwards. I vowed never again. It is also a good idea to pay a professional if you live in an older home. Textured ceilings may contain asbestos. (Thank goodness ours didn’t.)

Now, even if you don’t have textured ceilings, you likely can still benefit from adding a fresh coat of paint. Ceilings are usually neglected for years. They are often painted with a builder’s grade white paint. The builder’s white is a dingy off white color compared to an Ultra Bright Flat White. It also doesn’t age as well and will tend to yellow or dull over the years. Here is an approximation of how a builder’s white might look next to an ultra bright white color:

AND, let’s say you really don’t want to mess with those texture ceilings, if you buy a thick nap roller and repaint the ceiling with an Ultra Bright White, you will still notice a big difference. (One word of caution when painting textured ceilings. Paint over one spot and move on. If you go back over that spot while it is still wet it can pull the texture down.)

Tutorial for painting ceilings like a pro

Materials:

  • Valspar Flat Ultra Bright White Latex Paint
    (this is the brightest white we have found. Valspar is sold only at Lowe’s)
  • Latex Primer
  • Paint tray
  • Paint roller
  • Roller extension rod
  • Edger
  • ScotchBlue Painters tape
  • Tarp
  • Fine grit sanding block
  • Car Wash sized sponge and bucket
  • medium size flat artist’s brush

Begin by covering every bare inch of floor with plastic or thick canvas tarps. And cover any furniture left in the room (although you should try to remove everything from a room when you paint, it is just easier that way, trust me.)

Remove blades on a ceiling fan, simply unscrew the arms from the motor:

Then cover your light fixture with a plastic bag and painter’s tape.

Next, apply painter’s tape around the top of the walls of your room. If you are going to re-paint your walls after the ceilings, you can skip this step.

Start with the primer (a must for newly scraped ceilings, but not necessary for previously painted smooth ceilings).

1. Use your edger around the perimeter of your room. I like this handy-dandy edger that has a hole for the extension pole (especially helpful if you have high ceilings or neck issues.)

2. After the perimeter of the ceiling is done, edge around any light fixtures or vents.

3. Reach for your roller. I like to work in 5′ sections. Start by rolling out a letter “W”. Then roll back and forth, up and down and in random directions until you have that section of ceiling covered.

This will insure that you don’t have racing stripes on your ceiling.

4. Continue working next to the section you just finished. Try to work into the previous section while the paint is still wet. Otherwise, let that section dry before trying to roll into tacky half-dry paint.

5. Allow the primer to dry, then lightly sand your ceiling to remove any specks that got into the paint. Wipe the ceiling with a damp sponge.

Now repeat steps 1-5 using the ultra bright white paint.

Let your ceiling dry and then add a second coat of the ultra bright white (yes, definitely use two coats to leave your ceiling looking like it was painted by a pro! Don’t skimp.)

When you are done, remove the painter’s tape and pull out a small flat artists brush.

Pour some wall color paint into a small cup (I like to keep spare paint for each room in small jelly containers or jars. That way if one of my boys (adult and child alike) should happen to mar a wall, I can fix it in a jiffy.) Use the flat brush to create a smooth line at the top of your wall. Then finish by touching up any ceiling spots that were missed.

Take a look at the difference in our office! The top picture shows the room right after the ceiling was scraped. During the day!

And this next picture was taken of the same windows (different angle) at night!

Wow, brighten my world! View more pictures of this room HERE.

Okay, so I really like the ultra bright smooth white ceilings, but I did come across this gorgeous ceiling over at Not Just a Housewife, that would also make you swoon over your room if you were to try it. Check out Stacy’s tutorial HERE.

P.s. If you are renting, please don’t despair. I will have some tips that don’t involve painting your home.

I leave you with a glimpse of hope for those of you snowed in this week:

Daffodils Popping Through the Ground
Daphne Buds Getting Ready to Sprout

I just took those pictures yesterday, February 2nd! I live in Raleigh, NC, so thankfully spring is on its way. (Don’t hate me.)


5-Piece Nonstick Coated Paint Tray Set

00500 - Premium Paint Edger 00500 – Premium Paint Edger[635870] UPC: 022384005006 10L x 7.63W x 9.5H 0.2 LB 0.42 Cubes


How We Fell for Our Home

Hooray, February is here. This is the month of love (and chocolate!!! But, I digress.)

I have a funny story to tell you about our home. We actually fell in love with our house before we owned it.

This story starts during a torrential downpour in 2001. We were driving around with our realtor looking at homes in Raleigh. The rainstorm turned ugly and our realtor pulled into the first neighborhood he could find. As he drove carefully down the tree lined streets, we saw a For Sale sign ahead.  As we drove closer, we saw a handsome two story home on a hill.

The landscaping was well manicured and there was an adorable little side porch.

Our realtor called the office to find out the details on the home. It turns out that the owners were asking 5K over our maximum search. The interior was equally well cared for, so the next day we put an offer on the house and moved in within 2 months.

We didn’t realize how lucky we were to have found this house on a perfect little cul-de-sac. As the months progressed, we got to know all our neighbors on the street. Each and every one of them were warm and welcoming and oozed southern charm.

As the years went by we welcomed our first son into our house and then a second.

The home office, that we had renovated and installed built-in cabinets and a window seat into, became the nursery.

Feeling the pinch of squeezing all four of us, a dog and a home business into a three bedroom house, we began to look at other homes in the neighborhood, but dreaded having to move away from our location (did I mention how much we love our street?)

None of the other houses lived up to our picky needs (again, loved our street!)

Pretty Handsome Guy and I talked between ourselves about the one house on the street that we would love to live in. It was the charming dutch colonial house across the street.

He said, “Heaven forbid that our neighbors would ever move, but if they did we’d have to buy their house.”

And one day that is exactly what happened. It was such a bittersweet moment because we really adored our neighbors and their children. And we didn’t want them to move away. But, we basically said, “Tell us how much you want for your house.”

Three months later, we literally backed out of our old driveway and straight into our new one! (Sadly we didn’t win the Guiness Book’s shortest move on record.)

Our new home needed some updating and a little TLC, but we still loved it! It fits our style (old, casual, comfortable.)

We have slowly transformed one room at a time to fit our personality and allow us to “love” the inside of our house as much as we love the outside.

Office Before

Office After

Living Room Before

Living Room After

Guest Room Before

Living Room After

This month I’ll be sharing some ideas for turning your house into your dream home. Plus, I have a special giveaway announcement as well. But, you’ll just have to be patient.

I hope you’ll come back for some a-moré.