Today, a “fake it ’til you make it” project that I can be proud of! I love the look of built-in shelving – it’s the perfect marriage of beauty and function – but the price tag is another question. Also, … Continue reading
I just love the look of Roman shades, like the ones in the little boys’ room, which I trimmed in ribbon.
We needed those functional shades for the bedroom, but in other places, a fixed shade works just as well, like this one in our master bath. For our updated family room, I wanted the look of Roman shades, but I didn’t need the function. These new shades I made are fixed, meaning you can’t raise or lower them. It works for our location, since the windows face a private area and are shielded from direct sun by greenery.
To make my decorative shades, I adapted this tutorial from Kate aka Centsational Girl.
These instructions are for making shades from existing curtain panels I had. Kind of long story, but I used to hang floor-length panels at these windows, and with the new built-ins (so much anticipation! I will show them to you soon!), the panels don’t fit, so these fixed shades are the perfect solution. The other windows in this room are actually tall French doors, so the new shades make these windows look like they’re much taller and match the height of the doors.
I started with curtain panels that were 45″ wide x 95″ long, and I made finished shades that are 24.5″ high and 39″ wide.
First, I cut off the hems on the sides, to give a panel that is 41″ wide and unfinished on the sides. I ironed a 1″ hem along each side.
I then folded the panel in half lengthwise, so I had a 47.5″ high doubled panel. I sewed the back and front together on three sides, leaving about 2″ open at the top, which creates a sleeve to hang on the curtain rod.
Next, I figured out where I wanted my folds and marked these with chalk. I stitched the front and back pieces together at the top of the folds, where it would not be visible. For my shades, this was at 10 1/2 inches and 27 1/2 inches from the bottom.
I tacked the folds in place by hand-stitching at the sides and roughly every 7″ along the back.
Finally, I slipped the new shades onto our curtain rods, and there they are! (I wish I had made them a smidgen wider, to fill the curtain rod, but I’m not going back…).
Let me start by saying that I am as loathe as the next person to damage a book. That being said, we’ve accumulated a few in our house that are no longer needed. These include obsolete text books and the like. So, when I was looking for some tricks to camouflage the electronic components in our family room, it made perfect sense to give new life to these old books.
I already made a fabric-covered box to hide our chargers. Next, I turned a book into a neat cover for the computer that sits under our TV.
I started by using a craft knife to cut out the pages from a big book. It was an old dictionary that didn’t even have “LOL” in it. LOL. Oh, that was terrible – let me just get on to the crafty part.
Next, I wrapped the book in fabric. In the past, I have used Mod Podge for decoupage, but this time, I tried Yes All-Purpose Stik Flat Glue, which I liked, because it doesn’t have the strong smell of the Mod Podge.
When that was dry, I cut two pieces of foam board to fill the sides of the book where the pages had been. These supporting pieces are just big enough to hide the view of the computer from the sides and to hold the top cover up. I left the back open, to make sure the computer doesn’t overheat. I glued them in place with hot glue, and ta-da!
I really want to show the whole fireplace wall in the family room, but I am making myself sew the shades for the windows first. Hopefully, soon!
Stay tuned (ha ha, pun intended)! Our new family room with fireplace and built-ins is almost ready to show you. As part of the final touches, I wanted to find a way to hide some of the electronics that are a necessary but not-very-pretty part of a modern family room. I like this little box I created to hide our chargers!
I started with a used gift box that was the right size and turned it into this fabric-covered box.
Bottom of the box:
- I folded the front of the box flat, so that we can easily plug things in to the charger.
- In the back, I cut out notches where the wires would go in to the back of the charger.
- The cardboard was quite thin, so I added some reinforcement to the sides and back.
Top of the box:
- I cut large holes in the back for the cables to go into the back.
I wrapped the top and bottom in a single piece of fabric, so that it joins the pieces in the back, and the box is hinged.
I also punched a small hole and added a ribbon handle to the front of the box lid.
Here’s the box doing its job on our family room shelf:
I’ve got another disguise planned for the computer sitting next to the charger, and I hope to show that to you soon!
I have a lot to be grateful for with my job and family. They keep me busy, teach me, and make me happy every day. It’s equally wonderful, when I can steal a few minutes at the end of the day to do something that is just for me. And that something is usually something creative – sewing, cutting, gluing, or writing about my projects for Jewels at Home.
For those times when I need a little getaway, I love my creative retreat in the top corner of our house. A lot of really fun projects have been cooked up in this space. Did you stumble onto my blog through one of my DIY creations? Well, I’d love to show you where it all happens!
Whether you have a little corner or a roomy studio, here are my five keys for a perfect creative retreat:
- Work surfaces
- Beautiful colors and patterns
- Artistic inspiration
So, I’m lucky enough to have this room to myself for the moment, until the little boys decide they don’t want to share a room anymore. For many years, we had our guest room in my studio, and that worked quite well also. We used a twin-sized daybed that didn’t take up much space, and there was a pop-up trundle that could be used to create a king-sized bed, when we hosted a couple.
Whether you have a whole room or just a corner for your projects, efficient storage is a must. If you only get a few minutes in a day to work on your favorite projects, you don’t want to spend the whole time looking for your supplies! Most of my supplies and projects are stored on these Liatorp bookcases from IKEA. I lined the back with a roll of gray sketch paper for a cleaner look.
I have lots of small boxes and baskets to hold different materials, and they are all labeled, to make things easy to find. These Nickel Plated Card Holders are a big help!
Want more storage ideas? That’s a wicker laundry hamper in the right corner holding bolts of fabric.
There’s more storage hidden in the big IKEA Pax closets we built in to the room (more about those in this post).
2. Work Surfaces
I have two work surfaces in the room – a desk for sewing or working on the computer and a big project table I created using the boys’ old dressers.
I should actually say I have three work surfaces, since a lot of big projects like quilts are done on the floor. When we moved in, I was looking for a rug for this room, and now I’m glad I don’t have one, since I work on the floor all the time.
I needed a lot of light in this room to help me work and also take photographs of my projects. The windows on two walls are a great source of natural light.
There is just one ceiling light fixture (you can see how I stenciled the shade in this post).
I added this plug-in Ikea Knappa Pendant Lamp over my big work table, and a little desk lamp also.
4. Beautiful colors and patterns
I live in a house of all boys, and I’m happy to keep our home’s decor pretty neutral. Since this is my room, though, I did allow myself to let go a bit more with the flowers and frills. The theme is shades of turquoise and green, and there are touches of color and pattern everywhere
The old Queen Anne chairs I painted and upholstered have a fun retro floral print.
These fabric-covered magnet boards contain all the colors of the room.
And the light shade I mentioned fits in with the rest of the room’s colors.
The roman shades, with their green floral print, were sewn by Liz at SFSeamstress. She’s so talented and even managed to rescue a few pieces of this fabric that I had started cutting for another project. Magic!
5. Artistic inspiration
I love so many parts of this space. Since I’m in the southwest corner of our home, I even have great views to inspire me, including sunsets like this one!
The bamboo ladder in the corner is a good place to display a quilt-in-progress.
In another nook, I get inspiration from my wonderful family. My mom made this quilt for my birthday one year. The cross-stitch is from my sister-in-law, and the paper flowers are gifts collected over the years from my boys!
Ready for a final look around to see how all these elements come together?
I am really, really in love with my workspace! Is there anything else I could ask for? Some more company! For Christmas, my oldest gave me a “coupon” for a day spent doing crafts together, and I am looking forward to that!
I’m also planning to start a “Creativity Circle” with some friends this year. I’m thinking we can have an activity each month – some girls’ nights in, some art shows, some classes. All of us are working professionals, moms, or both, and we could use some time to connect with our creative sides, and each other.
This is my studio, but I love curling up in other parts of the house, too. Steve has an office in the basement, and for him, the quiet spot, sheltered from the hub-bub of the day, is just what he needs to get his work done. If you don’t have the space in your home, or you need to separate home and work, there are lots of options for artists and entrepreneurs to join a shared work space like WeWork. Where do you like to work?
Wishing you a creative moment each day,
For various reasons, Steve and I have ended up living in quite few different places over the years. While I can’t exactly say that I enjoy moving, there is definitely something exciting about a fresh space. I love finding creative ways to upgrade and decorate a place to make it feel like home.
While we’ve been through several smaller and larger homes since then, I was prompted to look back to our very first house by the folks at Urban Compass, a NYC-based company helping people find apartments in the city. My little sis recently moved to Manhattan to study at Parsons (I’m so proud!!), so I know that in a competitive housing market like New York or San Francisco, you definitely need every advantage you can to find a place to call home. And every space, however grand or humble, needs some finishing touches to make it your own. Our first townhouse was no exception. This little place was stuck in the 70s when we found it, but I’m glad we were able to see and bring out its charm. This is where I first started finding my style and developing DIY skills that can be used in any space!
Looking back, there were a lot of little projects that we did throughout the house, but most of the transformation came down to a few easy tools you could use in your new space:
- paint – update your home with colors you love
- fabric – dress your windows and furnishings; replace doors in tight spaces
- add molding – I built a special board and batten wall that serves double-duty by providing soundproofing for a shared wall
Our house was brown, brown, brown, when we moved in. As a special touch, our garage door didn’t match the attached unit to our left (top picture below)! I found a pretty gray-blue paint, and we re-painted all the trim on the house, including our neighbor’s garage door – proof that a little paint can go a long way in updating your home!
Here’s Steve up on the rooftop (like Old Saint Nick!) transforming our dreary brown house into a charming cottage!
Paint went a long way on the inside of our house, too. The top picture below is of our bedroom when we first moved in. The walls were boring beige, and the windows had functional, but unremarkable, blinds. In the second picture, you can see the tranquil space we created with some light blue paint. More about those window valances and the molding… keep reading!
Our house had functional, if uninteresting, mini-blinds on all the windows. Rather than spend money changing them, I sewed fabric valances for all the windows, which gave them a finished and warm look.
A lot of starter homes are full of tight spaces. The little bathroom off of our bedroom had a rickety bifold door that made the tiny space even more cramped, so I removed it and replaced it with a curtain that matched the valances in the bedroom. A curtain would be great solution for a small laundry area, too. Bonus: I trimmed the bathmat and shower door in the same fabric!
Board and Batten with Soundproofing!
DIYers are familiar with tricks like adding molding to give character to a plain space. The wall between our bedroom and our neighbor’s was paper-thin (and we had the detailed notes left by our curmudgeonly neighbor to prove it), so when I added trim to this wall, I put sound-insulating foam behind the boards to give us both more peace and privacy. The thicker trim also left a little ledge for display.
I had a lot of fun walking down memory lane to put together this post, and I love that many of the projects I did years ago would work just as well in any home today.
Look at this picture I found of moving day! Gone are the days of fitting a futon and a few boxes into a little rental van. It was a lot of work to move ourselves, but we had the help of friends, and I do feel nostalgic looking back.
I still smile looking back on this first home sweet home. I love the projects we did to make it beautiful, and I hope you are feeling inspired to make your mark on your own space!
Okay, so these were supposed to be for my nieces’ birthday this year, but I wasn’t done in time. That’s alright, because it’s even better to give them the purses in person while they visit us for the holidays!
The concept is similar to the striped felted purse I made for myself, so you can read more detailed instructions there. I somehow managed to forget that the felting shrinks more in length and width, so the purses ended up a bit stouter than I intended, but I think they will work out. I added a little button and loop closure this time. I also made the straps out of fabric, rather then knitting and felting them, because I find the strap on my purse a bit scratchy. I think I’m going to go back and line my strap with some fabric.
Other than that, I’m very happy with how the purses turned out. It was fun to put some contrasting fabric inside, and I hope the girls have a lot of fun with them!
How are you spending this Christmas Day? After a super-hectic December, the Bay Area has given us a clear and cool day to enjoy. We’ve opened presents and took the whole family to the park. Now, it’s time for some rest. The last few years, I’ve been inspired to try new color schemes for holiday decorating. First, there was the silver Christmas, and last year’s was all in white. This year, I was inspired by the brilliant red of cardinals on a snowy backdrop, and I added back dashes of red. The result is serene and festive at the same time.
After making new decorations for our silver-themed Christmas and white Christmas, this year was easy – all I had to do was re-use those decorations and add back a bit of red! Here’s how some of our decorations came together:
I love looking around at our red and white decorations. A bright and crisp day outside is making for a perfect Christmas!
The fact that I’m writing this when it is already Christmas morning in most parts of the world tells you what kind of crazy-busy December we had this year. I’m definitely looking forward to a few days of downtime with the family.
We don’t do a lot of shopping for Christmas. The adults in my family have generally agreed to not exchange gifts, and our kids get so much from their grandparents and aunts and uncles, that at most, we pick up one or two little things for them. However, on the night of December 23, I realized that I really wanted to have something to give to my dad and brother-in-law who are both celebrating Christmas with us this year. There was absolutely no way I was going to go near a mall on Christmas eve, so I wracked my brain and scoured my craft supplies to come up with a few meaningful projects that we could make at home.
We reprised the mugs that we made for Steve’s birthday and Father’s Day last year, and the boys also made these fun picture collages. We enjoyed going through old pictures to find our favorites, and I also added some extra copies of Christmas cards from the last few years. The boys did all the cutting and gluing themselves, as evidenced by the fact that there are duplicates right next to each other and other quirky touches. I think that our family is going to love these!
And for me, being able to stay in on December 24 was the best present of all.
It’s no secret that I love decorating for Christmas. Even so, I’ve always held back a little from building a miniature Christmas village. Maybe it’s the expense, or the worry that my kids would break off the small parts, or the thought that if I took that step, there would be nothing left to distinguish my house from a Christmas museum. Well, here goes nothing!
I had already been playing around with my head with ways to DIY a village, possibly out of cardboard or paper, when my coworker and friend Beth found these adorable miniature wooden birdhouses. We used them for a group holiday project last year, and I turned mine into this pretty monochromatic village.
In addition to the birdhouses, I found a variety of unfinished wood and houses at the craft store. These were really inexpensive, ranging from about $1 to $10.
I did a few modifications, like removing the strings from the birdhouses and adding some embellishments with popsicle sticks and other wood pieces.
You can add tiny wreaths, doors, and as little or as much detail as you want.