Some Things Never Get Old – Vintage Superhero Wall Art 

Superheroes have been capturing our imagination for decades, and the recent revival of superhero movies shows they are truly timeless. And since everything else with kids changes way too fast, superheroes make a great and enduring theme for their decor. I really enjoyed making these art projects for our kids and our friends’ boys.

My materials for the vintage superhero art were:

The calendar pages look great framed on their own. For our friends’ boys, I made these framed initials:

Looking for more superhero ideas? You may remember the covered mirrors and pencil tins I made a while back!

To infinity and beyond,

“Jewels”

That Spells DNA – Nerdy and Beautiful Baby Quilts

“DNA, you’re in my heart
DNA, in fact you’re in every part of my body
Each cell has a nucleus, each nucleus has chromosomes
And DNA, baby, that spells DNA”

-That Spells DNA by Jonathan Coulton

I can thank Steve, who is at the forefront of all things nerdy, for introducing me to Jonathan Coulton over a decade ago. Of course, as a genetic counselor, I have a particular soft spot for “That Spells DNA.” If you’re as nerdy as we are, and you don’t already know and love this song, you will want to check it out!

So, when we found out we were having a mini baby boom in our work family, with two babies due within two months, it wasn’t too hard for me to decide on DNA-themed baby quilts as gifts.

I found the DNA-themed fabric, Color DNA stripe by Melissa McCulloch, on Spoonflower. The fabric in the quilts is actually left over from a few Halloweens ago when our group dressed up as (if terrible puns cause you pain, skip this next part!) Gene-gnomes. The colors were a perfect jumping off point for this colorful gender-neutral patchwork of yellow, blues, greens and coral-red.

Here are some close-ups of the beautiful fabrics. I wanted to use every last scrap of the DNA fabric, so there is one patch in each of the quilts that I like to call “CRISPRed.” Can you spot one?

And here are a few more pictures of the quilts during their photo shoot, before they went off to their new homes!

All the colors and patterns together make me so happy! I am excited to meet the newest babies of our work family and give them their quilts, so they can start their genetics lessons early!

“Jewels”

Custom Scrapbook Luggage Tags

These little luggage tags make wonderful gifts that are quick to make and practical!

Every kids loves having something with their name on it, and every adult fears taking the wrong bag at the airport. I’ve actually done this – and it was a huge pain, because I had to spend hours and $$ going back to LAX to exchange the bag, but I was relieved that at least the woman whose bag I accidentally took was really nice about it.

I love all the ways you can customize these luggage tags. I am showing these with scrapbook paper, but I’ve also made some out of wedding invitations to give as a gift to the couple, and you could use photos or lots of other ideas!

I’ve made tags with two different types of lamination:

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There’s really nothing better than a beautiful combination of scrapbook paper and stickers, is there? … Well, maybe dark chocolate and red wine… or world peace… okay, but these are really fun and pretty, so go and make some, because world peace may take a while to achieve.

“Jewels”

The Neutral Pillow Project

Whether you lean towards Scandinavian-inspired, Modern Farmhouse, or California Casual, everything light, white, and wood is in right now – and I love it!

While I’m always excited to incorporate new looks into my home, it takes some creativity to do this – we’ve had most of our major furniture pieces for a decade or more.

One strategy that’s easy on the budget and environment is to change out accessories like pillows. Here are some light and bright ideas that you can use to give your room a new look!

Admittedly, my “things I have in the house already” is rather extensive, but I’m still proud that I managed to make all these pillows with them.

Here are the links to a tutorial on making simple throw pillows and tutorials for the window seat pillows, including bolster and flanged pillows.

Starting with: Ribbon-embellished geometric pillows:

  • I started by sewing lengths of ivory ribbon onto a linen-like fabric in diagonal stripes
  • I then cut out panels to create a chevron or herringbone pattern for two bolster pillows to add a neutral accent to my teal armchairs
  • With the leftover sections of ribbon-embellished fabric, I created one more throw pillow for our living room loveseat

Mudcloth-inspired contrast stitching:

Neutral doesn’t have to mean boring! I took some plain canvas fabric I had and, inspired by the oh-so-popular mudcloth trend, cut it into panels and sewed it together with contrasting navy thread:

There are a million more ideas for sewing simple pillows to change the look of your space – and when I try them all, you’ll see it here!

“Jewels”

Crushing On: Contemporary Chinoiserie Prints

Before I share all the beautiful prints I scouted out for you, I’m going to go on a small tangent. The Crazy Rich Asians book series by Kevin Kwan started years ago, but I caught the bug this summer, just before the movie came out. I’m currently obsessed with everything related to this world – I love the fun romp of the stories; I’m excited by the significance of their popularity for cultural representation; and I’m moved by the idea that while people in the books – and in the real world – spend a lot of time judging cultural authenticity and superiority, the message of the books is that cultural identities are individual, dynamic, blended, and beautiful.

I promise, this is all related, because incorporating Chinoiserie elements into my home is one my favorite decorating themes. Chinoiserie is “the imitation or evocation of Chinese motifs and techniques in Western art, furniture, and architecture.” I recently made a beautiful bolster for our bed, upcycled from a baby sling I held on to for the past seven years. (See my Instagram post for a picture of the original sling!) After making it, I was inspired to source some other Chinoiserie prints with a contemporary feel. Here’s what I found. I hope you’ll share your favorites, too!

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The archetype of Chinoiserie prints is Schumacher’s Exuberant Prints Collection. The origin of many of these prints are in fact vintage, but they still feel completely contemporary, which is a true sign of good design. They are pricey, but a worthwhile splurge, if you can swing it.

I’m particularly in love with Schumacher’s Chiang Mai Dragon:

A similar and more accessibly-priced option is the beautiful Robert Allen Ming Dragon:

And of course, when you are looking for a distinctive print, you’ve got to browse Spoonflower! I browsed tons of ideas there, and here are my favorites:

Cranes Garden by lorloves_design on Spoonflower:

KOI by tornpaperpaintings on Spoonflower:

Jenny Cherry Blossoms by Domesticate on Spoonflower:

Japanese Garden by Judit Gueth on Spoonflower:

(Yes I understand the irony/ inappropriateness of including this in a post on Chinoiserie… but it is pretty!)

In addition to accent pillows, you could frame a swatch of these prints or use one to line a tray. How would you use these prints?

“Jewels”

Macrame Plant Hangers- Now in Color!

I’ve decided to call my crafting style “serial crafting monogamy.” I definitely go on streaks where I fall in love with a new technique and can’t get enough of it. Right now, I’m sure you have noticed, I am addicted to macrame. Once I got the hang of it, I have so many ideas to try!

Today’s post is about adding color to your plant hangers – I did this with dyeing an ombre pattern as well as with adding colorful embroidery floss.

If you want to go back and see other posts on macrame, here are the links:

First, check out these beautiful ombré plant hangers. I made them with cotton clothesline and created the ombre pattern with navy fabric dye.


To get the ombré effect, I dipped the plant hanger in a container of dye solution and then pulled it out and hung it with just the bottom sitting in the dye for 20-30 minutes.

The other way I added color to the plant hangers was by adding gathering knots in different colors of embroidery floss.

And I just recently discovered Bobbiny cotton rope from Poland. It’s so soft, recycled, and beautiful, so I’m definitely scheming to add more color to my macrame projects that way!

“Jewels”

Bright Ideas – Making the Most of Your Windows – Part Two – Furniture Placement

People often comment on the great light we get in our house. A lot of that has to do with the good fortune of having big windows and a bright western exposure. But wherever you live, there are some tricks … Continue reading

Dining Room Rugs for Families – Form Meets Function

I’ve mentioned before that we use our formal dining room for most of our meals. This was a tradition my mother started when my sister and I lived at home, and I enjoy continuing it with our family.

I’ve posted about durable tablecloths and table runners to give your dining room a more formal look while still holding up to the kids. Recently, I have been debating about adding a dining room rug. I never even entertained (ha) this idea until the last few months, now that the kids are older and (a little) less messy. I really wanted the finished look of a rug, but I need to keep things practical as well.

I’m going to share my inspiration rooms, our current space, and the rugs I’m considering. There are literally thousands of options out there, and I’ve narrowed them down to my favorites.

First, here’s how our dining room looks now, without the rug.

So, you know I have a design crush on Amber Interiors. These are a couple of my favorite dining rooms designed by Amber Lewis and her team.

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The vintage rugs in these rooms feel accessible, because the complex patterns will hide small stains. This set me on a hunt for a vintage-style Persian rug for our dining space. While part of me would love to find a gorgeous high-quality wool rug, I am just too chicken – or too smart? – to put a few thousand dollars under my table for my kids to drop food on and my dog to lick… so, at least for now, I decided to look for an inexpensive synthetic rug that won’t make me cry every time something falls on it.

Here is my short list of rugs. My color scheme is greys and blues, and I was looking for something that had pattern but was still muted enough to feel neutral.

Rug collage

1 Unique Loom Rockwell Berkshire Area Rug

2 Safavieh Evoke Vintage Oriental Silver/ Ivory Distressed Rug

3 Freetown Distressed Vintage Inspired Gray/Ivory Rug

4 Willoby Vintage Oriental Charcoal Area Rug

5 Benson Bone Area Rug

And I have more rug ideas and inspiration rooms on my Pinterest board.

So, what do you think? Here’s another picture of the room currently. Our mantel is pretty busy, so I don’t want to add more busy-ness to the room, but I think it would really define the space and also show off the base of the table, which is a lovely Craftsman design.

I haven’t made a final decision yet, and I like all these rugs so much, that I might by more than one and put it in the living room or upstairs hallway…

So, whadya think?

“Jewels”

Kids’ Bath Grows Up – New Lighting and Finishing Touches! One Room Challenge Week 6

I’m really excited to be a Guest Participant in my first One Room Challenge! This is a great way to get inspiration and motivation for your home. For this challenge, I’ve decided to re-do our kids’ bath. It started out with a cute beach theme that seemed perfect when the boys were little, but now I am ready for it to grow up with them. Our new look features neutral colors, natural touches, and enough personality to stand up to three boys! Thanks for following along!

Recap:

  • In week one, I took this room back to a blank slate, including a new wall color
  • In week two, I started adding accessories to make the room functional again
  • In week three, I built wall shelves to create storage and display space
  • In week four, I added whimsical printed artwork
  • In week five, I personalized towels for the boys

Have you noticed that I’ve only been taking pictures of this bathroom from one side? Yes, it’s a small room, but I’m not too proud to stand in the bathtub or behind the toilet to get a good picture, like when I redecorated our master bath or our powder room! The reason I’ve been taking pictures from just one side is that one of the pendant lights over the vanity was broken, and both of them were originally hung too high. Finally, almost seven years after we renovated this bath, I’m finally really happy with the pendant lights.

As you know, I’m not afraid to use power tools, like when I made the DIY shelves for this project or built these plant stands. But, I am a little afraid of electricity. Steve helped me out and hung the new lights from West Elm. They look great with these LED Edison-style bulbs!

Speaking of that, let’s talk about light bulbs! I wanted the vintage Edison-style light bulbs, but there was a bit of trial and error to get the right ones. These were the third set I ordered… I’m used to looking at the wattage, which tells you how bright the light will be, but I forgot to look at the Kelvin, which tells you how “warm” or “cold” the light will be. I started out with 5000K, which was a very bright white that didn’t feel quite natural in the space. I then (accidentally) bought 2200K bulbs, which are very warm amber-colored. I finally found these bulbs in 3000K, and the light is just right (I am feeling a bit like Goldilocks, here!).

This chart from the LED Exchange is helpful for understanding Kelvin:

Links to the products and DIY projects I used in this room are at the bottom of the post.

And without further ado, here are some more pictures of our finished space!

A huge thank you to Linda for creating the One Room Challenge community, and high fives to all my fellow bloggers whose hard work and creativity were great inspirations! Be sure to go back to the One Room Challenge page to check out all the other projects!

I’m already thinking about the fall challenge and wondering what room I will redecorate!

“Jewels”