Gallery of Plates for the Dining Room

UPDATE 4/20/2011:

I wasn’t completely happy about the first iteration of our plate display, but that’s okay!  I popped into the Goodwill store on my way back from the hardware store today (buying spray paint – what else?!) and found two little plates that complement the collection nicely.  They were just $2.49 each, so a good deal, too!  I think flea markets and thrift stores are great places to find items for decor and styling.  A lot of the items would not seem special on their own but work well together.  It also gives your room a lot more personality to have a mix of old and new items.

I hung the new plates with the same 3M Command Picture Hanging Strips
that I used for the oversize initials project – I was paranoid and used way more strips than specified for their weight – and I think the display looks much more complete.  The other thing I did was to swap one of the blue and white plates with one of the green ones.  I was staring at it during dinner and just jumped up to try it!  Sometimes, staring at things helps.  It breaks up the line of blue and white plates while creating a small grouping with the two green ones.  Getting a balanced design can take a few tries, but it’s so pleasing to look at when it’s done. Here is the new dining room display.  I might still keep an eye out for something special at the flea market this weekend, but I no longer feel like something is missing.

wall gallery take 2

Take Two: The collection of plates feels more complete and balanced after the addition of two more plates and changing the positions a bit.

plates close-up

Close-up of the plates. Finding the right balance can take a few tries. I needed to separate the blue and white plates, because they are so strong and formed a line in the original placement. It works to group some like items together, like the octagonal green plates, while separating others, like the two small plates.

ORIGINAL POST:

Remember the collection of plates I found for $11 at our local rummage sale (The Pleasure of the Hunt)?  I put them up in the dining room today, and it was an easy project to dress up the space!

Gallery of plates

Wall display with plates from a rummage sale. $11 worth of plates and another $11 of hanging materials.  I think I need a few more plates!

I got the idea for this plate gallery from Sabrina Soto’s High Low Project on HGTV.  I like Sabrina’s style – it’s classic and comfortable with a fresh contemporary touch.  If you haven’t seen the show (and I recommend you do!), she starts by designing a dream room for her clients that is full of high-end pieces and then recreates it for a fraction of the cost.  There is an element of the show that is a bit silly – some of the elements in the first room are always exceedingly expensive – like original artwork or rare antiques – and she also saves a lot of money on the second version by having her assistant build things, but overall, I love the concept.  Because she tries to recreate the original room, you get to see the project broken down into components, and she good tips for deals and DIY projects, which are right up my alley, in case you couldn’t tell!

Anyway, in one of the episodes (I think it’s the first one), she does a dining room makeover and hangs a collection of plates on the wall.  She used these Invisible Disc Hangers which are a great way to hang plates securely without any visible hardware!  They are made in England and available from a lot of vendors.  I found a good price for mine on eBay.  They are easy to use – just wet the disc and press it onto the back of a clean plate.  I used blue painter’s tape to mark the top center of the pattern, so I could line up the hanging ring.

disc hanger on plate

Just wet the disc hanger and press onto a clean plate.

I like how it looks, and I’ll see if I can find any more great deals on plates to add, when I go to the flea market next weekend.

“Jewels”

Art Clips for Kids’ Fridge Gallery

Well, first of all, I never dreamed I would put a picture of our fridge in this blog. The whole kitchen is terribly dated and doesn’t reflect our style at all. However, it works, and given the cost of a kitchen renovation, we’ve decided to live with it for a while.

I’ve been trying to spruce the space up a bit and add some functionality – for example, I got a kitchen island cart that added just enough storage and counter space, as well as a small eat-in area for the kids. If you can’t afford a renovation right now, it’s definitely a good option, and there is a huge range of size and styles.

Sometimes, it’s the little things. It sounds a bit silly, but even though we are living with the pink (yes, you read that correctly) counters and floor and the impractical cabinet layout, we were really missing having a place to display our kids’ art. Like a lot of fridges, ours does not hold magnets. And I only wish this were because it is cool stainless steel – no, it’s 80s/early 90s black.

I will credit hubby for coming up with the idea of using clips to attach art to the fridge. His “beta” version used plain clips and poster putty, which showed behind the clips and lasted about a month before falling off. I decided to take his idea and “Jewels-ify” it with some improved engineering and design.

I started with plastic clips leftover from the temporary shades we had everywhere when we moved in. They are great for this project, because they are small and lightweight. The spring is not as strong as a clothespin, which makes them easier to use when attached to a surface.

I cut out strips from scraps of our Imperial Trellis wallpaper to fit the clips. I think it would have worked to cut random strips, but I tried to make patterns like stripes, “V”s, and zig-zags. This wallpaper went in the powder room and living room bookshelves. It has been the Energizer bunny of home decorating for me – it just keeps going and going! I’m totally in love with the elegant, classic, clean-lined pattern and the glow of the silver.

covered clips

plain plastic clips covered in wallpaper. I used hot glue, because the clips are not flat. (By the way, someone really needs to teach me some photo editing, so I can do proper "before and after"s!)

Finally, I used command adhesive strips from 3M to attach the clips to the fridge, and now we have a place to hang artwork and reminders! Yay!

20120429-075750.jpg

command adhesive strips to hold the clips on the fridge.

art on fridge

Finished fridge gallery.

20120429-155931.jpg

Close-up: how happy am I to look at this every day?!

I think these clips would also work on a door, art display board, or wall, not just on the fridge, so give it a try and send a picture of your results!

What a good feeling to have at least one thing in our kitchen that I enjoy looking at!

“Jewels”

Growth Chart Ideas: Where Did the Time Go?!

My dear friend Cathy just gave me a challenge: she’s moving out of the house her family has lived in for many years and wants to preserve her children’s heights recorded on a door jamb. Here is her treasured growth record. You can see why she doesn’t want to leave it behind. I used to babysit her youngest when he was five, which is the lowest mark in this picture, and I can hardly believe that he has grown so much! Where did the time go?!

Cathy has been recording her three boys’ heights on this door jamb for ten years!

I’d love to hear your creative solutions to this dilemma. I’m also wondering how many people have all their kids heights combined in one place like this and how many have individual charts for each child. I can see the benefits and downsides to either approach. Here are some of my ideas, including the growth charts I sewed for my kids.

1) Transfer the entire jamb: You could remove the piece of wood with the markings and replace it. In the new house, it could be installed in a doorway or hung on a wall. This would allow you to retain all the quirky charm of the original – with the different colors and handwriting over the years. I personally think this would look so sweet as a piece of “art” in a family room or kitchen. (However, I think Cathy is going to be reluctant to pursue this idea, as she’s sort of worn out on DIY projects after prepping their house for sale.)

growth panel

This family recorded their children’s heights on a piece of wooden paneling. When they moved, they removed the plank from the wall and hung it in their new home (quite a surprise for the buyers of their old house!).

From: Like Mother, Like Daughter blog

2) Take photos and transfer: Like everyone else who has a smart phone, I find myself taking pictures of everything – usually five pictures of everything…. at least five times a day. All this picture-taking can get a bit ridiculous, but it also has its uses. I love the idea of taking photographs of the door jamb – it would probably take five or so photos to capture it all. I was trying to think of ways to keep track of the scale, so you can reproduce it accurately. One way would be to mark off 10 inch sections and take a picture of each section on its own, so you know it’s to scale if you print an 8″X10″ picture. Another way would be to take some notes on reference points (eg. Junior was 4 feet tall in May 2007), to help you work out the right size later. Once you have printed out your pictures to scale, you could

  • frame them, either in several simple frames stacked one on top of each other or in a long frame, designed for posters
  • decoupage them onto a wooden board or a new door jamb. This option requires no construction work (which I am sure Cathy will appreciate!) and would still capture the personality of the original. For this project, print onto plain paper, rather than photo paper.
  • make iron-on transfers and display on a piece of fabric.

3) Transfer the information to a new growth chart: Cathy did this the last time she moved, transferring the heights to a piece of masking tape, which is a great idea! Once you have the information, your imagination is the limit for ways to display it. There are so many beautiful ideas for growth charts out there, but here are some of my favorites, including what I did myself. A tutorial for making my growth chart will be in an upcoming post.

  • plain plank of wood – this would be easy, inexpensive, and give the new record a similar feel to the original door jamb. You could paint the wood first or leave the wood grain.
  • purchase a ready-made growth chart to hang. These come in endless variety made from wood, fabric, or paper.
  • wall decals – decals are such an easy way to make a beautiful statement in a room. I customized a tree branch decal in our nursery. There are dozens of gorgeous examples of wall decal growth charts out there. I particularly love this one!
wall decal growth chart

Wallies Wall Play Woodlands Growth Chart

From: Fab Baby Gear website

And last but not least… Jewels’ hanging fabric growth chart!

20120429-065944.jpg

Jewels’ own hanging fabric growth chart. Tutorial coming up soon.

I’m sure there are similar growth charts out there, but I designed this one myself, keeping in mind that I wanted it to be

  • portable – so that we could take it with us when we moved (a feature this post proves is valuable!)
  • easy to store – fabric can be rolled up for compact storage and ironed later – wood, obviously, cannot, and paper could get folds and wrinkles – though you could wrap around a paper towel roll to minimize this.
  • complete – I wanted to be able to record my kids’ growth from birth to adulthood. Many ready-made growth charts stop around five feet. Granted, most tweens and teens may not have any interest in growth charts anymore, but their parents might, so I made mine go up about 6’2″, which is more than generous, if you could see how tall I am!

UPDATE 5/3/2012:  Here’s the link to the tutorial for making your own growth chart!

Please let Cathy and me know if you have more great ideas about how to preserve her treasured memories!

“Jewels”

New Powder Room from Top to Bottom – Wallpaper!

Our powder room facelift is going slowly… but surely!  Unfortunately, I started taking apart the space and then developed some inertia about getting the wallpaper up, as I hadn’t done wallpaper in a long time, so the sad state of this space got sadder before it started getting better.  Today, I put our toddler in daycare for an extra day, so I could go to Kindergarten Spring Sing at kids’ school without distraction.  After the performance – which was adorable! I took full advantage of the rare stretch of several hours “off” from both my office job and my mom job by having a lunch date with hubby and pledging to get this wallpaper up!

Vanity area before

BEFORE: The whole room was very white – blah – with dated gold-tone fixtures and a pedestal sink that has no room for storage or even the soap!

A powder room is a perfect place to use wallpaper – it makes a beautiful statement, without overwhelming you visually, financially, or logistically, as you only need a small amount.  I splurged big-time on the Imperial Trellis wallpaper in silver.  It was pricey, but I had enough to do the powder room, as well as line the backs of our living room bookcases.  I love the glow of the silver to brighten up our dark spaces.

Imperial Trellis wallpaper in silver by Schumacher. Click the picture to go their website for more information and colors.

I hung wallpaper once many years ago, so I remembered the basics, but I quickly refreshed myself with these instructions from This Old House.  Some of the planning steps did not apply to me, since I was doing such a small area.  I’m only hanging it above the (future) chair rail on one wall, because the ceiling slopes on the other walls (the powder room is under the stairs), and I thought the wallpaper on those walls would just draw attention to the changing ceiling line.

Here’s an overview of what I did:

Tools for wallpaper

TOOLS: From left, you’ll need
1. Squeegee: they make ones specifically for wallpapering, but a regular shower squeegee worked well for me.
2. Ruler or putty knife: to keep a straight line when trimming
3. Utility knife: for trimming paper at corners. Make sure it’s very sharp!
4. Pencil: for marking a plumb line.
5. Brush or roller: for applying wallpaper paste.
5. Wallpaper paste: mixed from a dry powder.
6. Sponge: for smoothing paper and wiping off excess paste.
Not shown: level or plumb line to mark a plumb starting line.

Booked wallpaper

After spreading the wallpaper pasted with a brush or roller, fold the paper as shown (called “booking”) for the adhesive to set.

sponging wallpaper

Line the first piece up with a plumb line. Then, using first a damp sponge and then the squeegee, gently smooth the wallpaper from the center towards the edges to remove bubbles and excess paste.

Wow!  Wallpaper

Wow! I was amazed at how the wallpaper made the room seem brighter and bigger. The silvery glow spread the light around the room, and the lines of the pattern made the space feel wider and taller.

Once the wallpaper was up, I started adding a few accessories: a large mirror which, again, helps with spreading light around the small space, a new chrome towel bar, and some art that I pulled from a calendar (more examples of this great art in an upcoming post) and put into an frame found for a few dollars at Goodwill.  Again I used silver, to brighten up the room.

new mirror and towel bar

New mirror and towel bar added to the room. The “top” of our top-to-bottom facelift is done!

I am SO happy with the result so far.  It’s now a pleasure to enter this room that I had been avoiding!  What is the plan for the rest of the makeover?  I’m going to add a chair rail and paint the area below in a warm blue-grey, like this inspiring powder room by Sarah Richardson.  I’ve also got a new vanity going in to give us a little storage and counter space.  Hope to post the finished room here soon!

[UPDATE:  The powder room is finished!  You can see it here.]

An inspiration for our powder room. Click the image to go to the image on Sarah Richardson’s website.

And on a different note, what projects on the horizon have me all excited?  Check out these FREE chairs I am going to make over for my craft room/ office!  I can’t wait (though maybe I should finally finish the powder room first…)

Queen Anne Chairs - before

Sneak preview: A glamorous makeover is in store for these Queen Anne chairs I got for FREE through Craigslist.

“Jewels”

Whimsical Retro Nursery

Here is the first room tour of Jewels at Home. The tours are my motivation to “finish” (and clean up!) our house, room by room. In reality, our spaces are a constant work in progress, reflecting the dynamic nature of our lives, but it’s a great feeling when a room gets to the point where it’s ready to share. Let me know if you have a room in your house to share on Jewels at Home!

Our house was a fixer-upper when we bought it last year. Besides maintenance problems (clogged sewer pipe!) and cosmetic issues (pink, pink, pink!), the house was built as a sort of grand space that meant a small number of large and formal rooms, when what we wanted as a modern family of five was more separation of spaces for sleeping, working from home, and playing. I’m glad I spent so many hours staring at the real estate brochure with floor plan, because I figured out that we could convert the “dressing room” off the master bedroom into our ensuite bath and create an entrance through a hall closet to turn the old master bath into another bedroom. Adding the bedroom, that we are using as a nursery, has been a huge value for us.

Bedroom before

BEFORE: This space was the dated and pink master bath. By making a new entrance through a hall closet, it became a new bedroom!

I figure the reason that the nursery was the first room in the house to be “finished” is probably because it’s a small room, and, of course, because it’s SO fun to decorate a nursery! A child’s room is a place where your imagination is the limit!

Whether it’s because we are indecisive or enjoy change, we’ve moved a lot, and each of our kids has had a different nursery. I’ve loved putting them together, and while there are elements that have naturally been shared by all of them, each is also unique. Our current nursery has established itself with a whimsical retro feel. I preferred to make our kids’ first rooms pretty neutral – no car or princess themes here. I know from experience that they will develop their specific interests soon, but I chose not to make them a focus in the nursery.

This “Connor” rug from Pottery Barn Kids circa 2003 was the jumping off point for the colors in the room. I love its palette of dark and light blue, sage, and red. Cheerful for a child’s room, but not too juvenile and cutesy.

Connor Rug

"Connor" rug from Pottery Barn Kids has the inspiration colors for the nursery. The red is picked up by the wrapping paper on the inside of the bookshelf, and the blue in the toy bins (which are old diaper boxes wrapped in fabric!). The sage green is in the bedding, including the sleepsack hanging on the wall.

The roman shades from Country Curtains are a find that I cannot recommend highly enough! They are attractive, safe and easy to use (cordless and raise and lower with a spring, like a roller shade), and inexpensive. They’re not custom, and they didn’t have a size that was right for our other rooms, or I would have bought more! Even though they have a “thermal” rather than blackout lining, I find they cut a lot of light for nap time, maybe because of the dark color.

reading chair

Here is our cozy chair for reading, nursing, and snuggling.

I didn’t buy any new furniture for this room when we moved in, because I figured that a nursery arrangement is always temporary anyway. I took a tip from one of my favorite designers, Sarah Richardson, and even though I mixed wood tones, I made sure that each wood tone was found at least twice in the space, so it doesn’t look out-of-place: the crib and dresser have an espresso color, the bookshelf and picture frame on the opposite wall are a light wood, and the floor and chair have a medium tone. I added the wrapping paper to this bookcase in this post on dressing up bookcases: “Decorating Inside the Box.”

bookcase wall

The bookcase has room for display and storage. The mix of dark and light woods can work, as long as you have each wood tone in multiple places in the room.

Change table

This change table is an inexpensive version of the popular modern nursery furniture. I love the wall decal of a branch right next to the window, extending the outdoors into the space. I customized it by adding the letters spelling "sweet dreams."

A lot of the accessories in this room have special meaning. On the shelf and off to the right are a lot of accessories from my childhood, including the lamp, a bronzed shoe, and a “ducky bank”. In our reading corner, I made the quilt, and my close friend knit the baby blanket on the arm of the chair. The display wall between the windows has a paper quilt block from an old friend, a name plaque with motifs from MY baby blanket, vintage switch plates from my baby room, and an oversize letter “J.” You can see how I made the letter here. The jungle animal clothes pegs next to the book shelf is special, because my mom, who did not survive to meet her grandchildren, bought this for them in anticipation many years ago. Last but not least, the squeaky “Jumping Jack” below was a gift she bought for me as a newborn baby with her first paycheck after returning to work. My parents told me, he made me laugh for the first time, and all my kids gave enjoyed him too.

20120423-172040.jpg

My baby toy is bringing smiles to the next generation.

The end result of this transformation is a cozy, comfortable room that brings a smile wherever you look!

“Jewels”

Rummage Sale Finds: The Pleasure of the Hunt

There is hardly a finer feeling than being outside at a flea market or rummage sale on a beautiful day and finding a great deal on something lovely to bring home. Finding used items is not just about saving money – though that’s wonderful, too. It’s also about the personality and dimension that a mix of old and new things can bring to your space.

Today is one of those rare and perfect San Francisco Saturdays, when the sun is bright and hot, and there’s just a gentle spring breeze in the air. We took a family walk out to our neighborhood rummage sale. They call it a “collectibles” sale, but I think that’s a bit generous. The older boys brought their wallets, dreaming of a great Beyblade (if you have no idea what that is, just ask any five- to ten- year old boy!) or Lego find in the toy section, so we all felt the anticipation! We stopped at a fountain along the way, and our oldest shared his pennies, so they could make a wish.

When we arrived at the park for the sale, the boys were in and out quickly, after determining there were no Beyblades to be had. They did indulge in some muffins and lemonade from the bake sale, though. Our oldest later reported that he felt very grown-up, purchasing his own snack and that it was a very satisfying outing for $2.02 (the $.02 having gone into the fountain).

Hubby spotted these vintage board games in the toy section for $1 a piece, and they look ultra cool. They’re dated 1960 and 1958. Here they are on the game table in our den. Can’t wait to try them at a family game night!

vintage board games

Game of the States from 1960 and Gettysburg from 1958 for $1 each! Looking forward to playing these!

Now to my treasures! Nothing big, but I’ve been looking for accessories for our living-dining room, and it was a great place to pick up a few inexpensive items that feel like they have a story behind them.

old wooden box

$5 for this decorated wooden box with a little key.

painted silver box

The metallic spray paint gives a great glow very quickly!

spray paint

I used Krylon grey primer both for priming and a very light dusting over the silver, to give it a more aged look. The silver paint is very shiny!

side table styling

The new-old silver box on the nesting side tables in our living room. Not sure how long this vignette will stay safe from toddler curiosity.

dishes

Total of $11 for these five plates. They will hang on the wall in the dining room.

Today was a ton of fun, but for serious treasure hunting, you cannot beat the Alameda Point Antiques Faire, held the first Sunday of every month. It’s enormous, with row upon row of serious antiques vendors. I went on January 1 this year with a friend, and it was a wonderful start to the year, wandering in the fresh air, enjoying the view of San Francisco, gnoshing on Jamba Juice and kettle corn, and striking bargains! We plan to go back in May, and I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!

Click the picture for the Alameda Antiques Faire website.

“Jewels”

Jewel-Toned Antiques

I was running errands in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco when I came across a unique and stunning boutique called Forgotten Shanghai.

Forgotten Shanghai logo

Amazing and unique store in SF. Click the logo to go to their website.

Their showroom is packed with furniture and decor items that range from Chinese antiques to modern designs with an Asian feel.  There are lots of treasures to browse, and I could have spent hours there, if I didn’t have two kids in tow who were on the verge of becoming the proverbial bulls in the china shop (haha!).

The products that caught my eye the most were the wooden chests and screens that were painted in blue and green jewel tones:

forgotten shanghai boxes

Media and File boxes in gorgeous colors. Click the picture for the product website.

Lacquered wooden screens in a range of fresh colors. Click the picture for the product website.

Tragically, at several hundred dollars a piece, their prices exceeded my budget.  I kept thinking about them, though.  I love adding Asian elements to my home – the classic lines are elegant and complement the Arts and Crafts pieces we have.  And with the fresh blue and green lacquer, these classic forms feel contemporary.  Luckily for me, I had a couple of pieces at home that I could make over to get the same look.

Painted wooden chest

I picked up this solid wood cedar chest off craigslist for $99 a few years ago from a woman who used it for staging homes.  It is stamped inside with “Wills Cabinet Shop Somerset, PA,” which looks like it is sadly no longer around.

chest before

Before: Cedar chest bought off craigslist.

Regular spray paint comes in limited colors.  I had a false start painting with a really unfortunate electric blue from the craft store.  If you don’t find the color you are looking for at the hardware store or regular craft store, I would recommend Montana Spray Paints, which are artists’ paints.  I found this color, Fjordonline, but I later discovered that Aaron Brothers carries Montana paints.  After sanding, priming, and painting, I added several layers of a glossy clear coat.  This really helps give a finished look as well as prevent any color from rubbing off on walls, etc..

painted teal chest

After: chest painted in Montana Fjord with a glossy finish.

Window screen

Another great find was this Chinese wooden window screen that I found at a consignment store for just $65!  Similar screens usually cost several hundred from a knowledgeable seller.  I was torn about painting it, as it always feels a little “wrong” to paint good quality wood.  In the end, I went ahead, thinking that I really needed something to brighten up our living room, which already has a lot of wood on the floors and in the larger furniture pieces.  The paint color is “Swept Away” by Benjamin Moore.  I had it leftover from painting our kids’ bath.  Again, I finished it with several coats of a clear finish to seal it.

Painted screen

Chinese wooden window screen painted in pale blue "Swept Away" by Benjamin Moore.

I’m so happy with how my Forgotten Shanghai copy-cats turned out! I’m especially excited that I make them from things I already had around the house. I have one more screen that is left-over from a carpentry job that I am thinking of painting in a glossy black for the foyer. I’ll post a picture when it’s done!

“Jewels”

Oversized Letter Decor: Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…

… a very good place to start!

Art that features initials is so versatile. It looks great as part of a wall display, on a shelf, or on a door. It could make a great gift for a baby or child – it makes a kids – and the parents – feel so special to see their name on things!

There are lots of great ideas for projects featuring artistic initials, and I want to try them all! I decided to start with a simple 3-dimensional cut-out initial wrapped in paper or fabric. Here’s how I did it!

1) Buy or make a base letter: I’ve seen oversize wooden and cardboard letters at craft stores, so you could definitely start with one of those. In this case, I was feeling lazy and cheap – not to mention I do my projects when the kids are either napping or in bed at night, which makes trips to the craft store hard! So, I decided to cut out my own letters from cardboard. I had some extra-thick cardboard leftover from “dish pack” boxes from our move. These are great for lots of cardboard projects, because they are made from a double layer of corrugated cardboard and thus stronger and warp less.

You can find endless fonts by searching on the internet. I settled on Archive Garfield for a classic feel:

Archive Garfield

Archive Garfield upper case letters example from Myfonts.com

My Fonts website

Whole alphabet at Fonts.com

You could print out the letters you want, enlarge and then trace them, but I decided to wing it freehand. First, I decided on the overall dimensions I wanted – nine inches high – and marked that area on the cardboard. Then, I sketched the letters inside the space, using a ruler to make the straight lines. I also made some of the areas a little thicker than they are in the original font, so they would not be too fragile when cut out. I ended up using a popsicle stick to reinforce the thin part of the “K.” Also try to avoid narrow gaps – the inside curve of that “J” turned out to be tricky to wrap around. I used white glue on the very short tabs of paper and held them in place by wedging some bubble wrap in the gap until the glue dried. It turned out fine.

20120415-210502.jpg

Sketch or trace the letters onto cardboard using a ruler to help. Make sure the lines are not too thin and also try to avoid narrow gaps.

2) Apply paper or fabric: This is where you could get creative and use scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, maps, photos, fabric, whatever! I would recommend cutting leaving a one inch margin around your letter – I didn’t have that much, because I was using a scrap leftover from decorating the back of our little guy’s bookcase, which made it harder. Also, if you are using corrugated cardboard, I would just put a couple of spots of glue from a glue stick on the front, because if you glue it down thoroughly, the corrugation will show.

Cut tabs to help ease the paper around curves and corners and then glue down the tabs. Because I had a small margin, I needed to use some tape to help. Once I had the paper wrapped around, I used a popsicle stick with a little white glue on it to help smooth any areas where you could see the tabs, like around the curves.

20120415-212742.jpg

Lightly glue your letter to the back side of your paper or fabric. Cut out with a one inch margin (more than I had!) and cut tabs for the corners and curves. Glue!

3) Voila! and Finish! You could clear coat your letter with clear spray paint or Modge Podge. I wouldn’t do it with the corrugated, because, again, it would make the corrugation show through. It would be a nice finish for wooden letters, though.

20120415-220836.jpg

Finished product! A 3-D initial wrapped in beautiful paper.

4) Hang and enjoy! I’m using 3M Command Picture Hanging StripsEdit. These are very easy to use and have the additional benefit of adding more dimension to the letter, so it really stands out from the wall.

20120415-220903.jpg

3M Command (TM) Picture Hanging Strip – easy and removable!

This initial is for our youngest’s room as part of the wall collection below. The “quilt block” is actually made of paper and was a gift from my friend Penny many years ago. And the vintage nursery switch plate covers go beautifully here, too. The one on the left is mine from when I was little. The other one was picked up at a garage sale for $1. They can also be found on eBay for about $15-25. I didn’t really have a functional use for them, but I think they work perfectly in this display. This whole wall relates back to the other side of his room, where the same paper is lining the bookcase, and a vintage lamp from my childhood provides a reading and night light.

Nursery wall

The “J” in its place on the nursery wall.

And now, here’s a sneak peek at the other kids’ initials! I let them pick their own paper. I was thinking stripes, but I love how the stars turned out.

DIY paper-wrapped wall initials by Jewels at Home

DIY paper-wrapped wall initials for my boys’ rooms!

“Jewels”

Upholstered Chairs: Beautiful from the Back

I love such a love for beautiful fabrics! And why use just one fabric to upholster a chair, when you can use two?! The back of a chair is a great place to use a more delicate, expensive, or ornate fabric that might not be ideal for the seat, and the contrast between the two materials adds a lot of interest. I’ve seen great examples of this from some of my favorite designers:

Candice Olsen dining chairs

Candice Olsen used a contrasting fabric on the outside of these beautiful dining chairs. The blue ties the seat and outside together.

Candice Olsen Design

Sarah Richardson chairs

Sarah Richardson strikes a great playful note with these chairs upholstered in multiple fabrics. Again, the color theme - in this case, red - tie them together.

Sarah Richardson Design

So, I was looking around my house for a way to try this, when my eyes landed on a pair of green side chairs that we’ve had for many years as extra seating in our living room. They were originally dining chairs that worked well for saving space, and I cut down the legs to make them more comfy for lounging. Our new house can get dark, so I’ve been trying to lighten up our furniture, and I just happened to have recently bought this gorgeous floral fabric. I didn’t even have a specific plan for it, but I knew that I had to have it (did I mention, I have a weakness for beautiful fabrics?!) I spotted it on Fabricguru.com, which is my favorite online fabric store. They have great prices on remnants and an easy-to-browse interface. The downside is that a lot of the fabrics are discontinued or almost so, so if you need more down the road, it may be hard to find.

Floral Noir

Robert Allen Waldemere Contemporary Floral Printed Cotton Drapery Fabric in Noir

Here’s what happened when the old chairs met my new fabric:

floral fabric on green chairs

Waldemere floral fabric on the outside of green velvet chairs.

To apply the fabric, I experimented with our staple gun, but in the end, it worked best to apply the fabric with just a regular craft glue gun. I folded about a half inch “seam” around the edge and just glued it on. I was prepared to cover the edges – or staples, had I used them – with some piping, but I lucked out, and the panels had piping already, so it looked very finished with very few steps. I think you could retrofit a variety of existing chairs with some creativity and minimal upholstery skills.

For some more inspiration, check out these beautiful examples found by other bloggers:

Saks chair

Spotted by Caitlin Wilson at Saks.

Caitlin Wilson Design

K-desgn chairs

Chairs by K-design, spotted by Decorati.

Decorati Interior Design Blog

Go give it a try! It might take some adaptation to work on your particular chairs, but keep in mind using nailhead trim, piping, or decorative braid to hide staples and seams, creating a transition as you turn your chairs into eye-pleasing conversation pieces!

“Jewels”

This project is shared at:
handmade projects

Puppy Love and Loss

It’s a story that has been told many times. Cooper was, as they say, our first baby. We even named him after hearing the name from one of hubby’s coworkers, who had used the name for his new (human) baby! For years, our lives happily revolved around this adorable furball, from weekend outings to vacations, he inspired us to explore and experience so many new places.

Cooper puppy

Cooper, just a day after we brought him home in October 1997. Our friend took this picture with a polaroid camera!

Years later, when the kids came along, Cooper was the faithful guardian who learned to bravely tolerate their expressions of love, including the classic tail-pulling, ear-tugging, and yes, even a “haircut” by our oldest, when he was three and Cooper was nine. We learned quickly to never put our baby down near other dogs, as Cooper would chase them all away. Even if they disrupted his peace, Cooper embraced the boys a treasured members of his “pack” with a loveable curmudgeon-liness.

And now, finally, after surviving a cancer two years ago, old Coops is slipping away from us. I am endlessly amazed at how much life teaches us. I will confess to, previously, having a somewhat limited ability to empathize when others lost an elderly loved one. Where I work, I see and hear so many stories of people who have died young. And having lost my own mom when she was in her early 50s and I was 25, I always thought that I would be nothing but grateful to be so fortunate as to watch someone grow into old age.

And so, even though the tears are flowing, I am really grateful for Cooper and for what this new experience is teaching me – about how it is possible to be thankful and heartbroken at the same time. About what a wonder it is to share life with another species – and to witness a full life in a time that for us is relatively brief. It is such a vibrant illustration of how youth evolves into maturity and maturity into old age.

Cooper vacation

Cooper on vacation with us this past week. He has gotten very thin and slow, but I hope he still feels loved by us.

While I am treasuring my own memories and, yes, wallowing in my own heartache, I am touched by how hubby and I are navigating the decisions around Cooper’s care, how in that process we are learning new things about ourselves and each other, and how my memories of Cooper are intimately interwoven with our marriage, which is only barely older than he is.

I am also thinking about how to share this experience with the kids and support them with the first major loss in their lives. We’ve been preparing them over the past few weeks. There are some good suggestions here at Kids Health and from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Since I’m just reading these now, it’s reassuring to know that we’ve been doing a pretty good job “winging it.”

Among other resources, a friend suggested the book The Tenth Good Thing about Barney, and I also found Saying Good-bye to Lulu. For a more spiritual approach, there are several choices, including The Legend of Rainbow Bridge. I’ll try these out with the kids. Both of the older ones have been writing books recently at school and at home. Maybe, they would like to write their own book about Cooper. I would love to hear things from their perspective.

With a grateful though heavy heart,

“Jewels”