DIY Wall Initials – This time, for the Girls

Remember these wall initials I made for my kids? I put one up in the nursery already, using 3M Command Picture Hanging Strips.  Besides hanging them on a wall, you could make these letters part of an artful arrangement on a shelf or stick them to the door.  I made mine as big as a 12×12 inch sheet of scrapbook paper would allow, but I would love to make a really large one some time with wrapping paper or fabric.

DIY paper-wrapped wall initials by Jewels at Home0120531-181246.jpg

DIY paper-wrapped wall initials by Jewels at Home

These oversize letters were also the May Giveaway, and Jenny won them for her two girls. While I was working on Jenny’s letters, I made two more for my twin nieces, who are turning one next month! It’s often easier to do several of any project at once, while you have the motivation and all the supplies out. You definitely learn a lot as you repeat projects, too. Don’t you wish you could always start with the second one, after all the mistakes have been made?

I already posted the instructions for making these letters, so I’ll jump straight to the final result!

DIY paper-wrapped wall initial decor by Jewels at Home

DIY paper-wrapped wall initials

Fun with DIY initials by Jewels at Home

With this combination of letters, I just couldn’t resist!!

DIY cardboard wall initial decor by Jewels at Home

Close-up of this pretty paper on the “C”

DIY cardboard wall initial decor by Jewels at Home

Close-up of some more beautiful paper on the “m.”

As you can see, I used lower case letters this time and a different font: American Typewriter Bold.

american typewriter font

And I’ll add one tip if you have to wrap around a small opening. I cut the tabs in a zig-zag pattern, so that they don’t get too short.

Cutting tabs to wrap letters in paper by Jewels at Home

Cutting tabs to wrap letters in paper

Beside the fact that I nearly glued all my fingers to each other in the process, it was so fun for me to make something for little girls, since we have a house full of (wonderful!) boys. I’m also really glad to give Jenny’s girls a piece of home that they can take as they move overseas and just as thrilled to have something unique to celebrate the big one year birthday with my nieces!

Looking forward to another fun giveaway starting next month!


Perfectly-Mixed Traditional Dining Rooms

I recently put together a contemporary mixed dining space for my dad’s house, but there are many examples of beautifully eclectic traditional spaces as well.  As I mentioned in the previous post, the key is to balance contrast and connection between the diverse elements in a room.

Here are two examples from two of my favorite designers: Sarah Richardson and Candice Olson, as well as some pictures of our dining room at home.

Sarah’s House

This beautiful dining space has a modern take on many traditional elements, such as the wallpaper and Queen Anne chairs (remember when I repainted my Queen Anne chairs?).


  • The plush dining bench sits opposite – literally – to the wooden Queen Anne chairs
  • The trestle table has a simple, rustic style and dark color that give a strong foundation and sense of comfort to this light, glittery room.


  • The grey color of the chairs reflects the overall light neutral palette of the room.
  • Both the bench and the chairs have an ornate, traditional feel, as does the chandelier.
Sarah's House Dining Room by Sarah Richardson

Sarah’s House Dining Room by Sarah Richardson

Go to Sarah Richardson Design

Divine Design:

Candice Olson has a great eye for beautiful things.  Her rooms always feel lush and complete to me.  This dining room design looks fairly simple, but there is so much beauty in the details.


  • The white and black palette provides instant contrast.
  • Candice used two different chairs at the table, with more substantial arm chairs at the head of the table.


  • The black and white color scheme is carried through every part of this room, including the chairs, rug and curtains.
  • Even though the head and side chairs are different, they have a similar scale and shape to them, so they work together.
Candice Olson dining room featured in Elle Decor

Candice Olson dining room featured in Elle Decor

Go to Candice Olson’s website

Jewels’ house:

I also have a mixed dining set at our house, where I painted and reupholstered our Ikea chairs to work with a dining table from craigslist that I had fallen in love with.  I started out looking for cherry wood Arts and Crafts chairs, and I am so glad that I ended up painting our chairs black.


  • Black and cherry wood look beautiful together, without disappearing into each other or feeling heavy and overwhelming, as a more traditional wooden set can.
  • I have two traditional Chinese chairs at the head of the table, which is a perfect place to introduce something different.


  • The chairs all tie together, because of their dark color and similar lines of the chair backs.
  • The Ikea chairs have a geometric cutout design detail on the back that is similar to the cutout design on the base of the cherry Arts and Crafts table.
Dining Room with painted and reupholstered chairs by Jewels at Home

Dining Room with new chairs. The head chairs are Chinese antiques, while the side chairs are transformed Ikea chairs. They all work together, because they share color and/or other design elements.

Dining Room with painted and reupholstered chairs by Jewels at Home

Dining room from the other side.

When you are looking for home decorating ideas, you can easily work with what you have by switching pieces of a dining set, slipcovering your chairs, or painting them for a fresh look.  Once again, I hope you feel inspired to create your own unique combination of elements in your dining space.  It can feel intimidating, but creating connections with shape, material, and color will help bring all the things you love together.


Perfectly-Mixed (not Matched!) Contemporary Dining Spaces

A matched dining set is just fine. But sometimes, your chairs wear out, you come across the perfect table at a thrift store, you move house and your old things don’t fit… or you just want to create a fresh and creative look in your dining area. If you’re feeling inspired, look at these examples of mixed chairs and tables to see how you can create a space that is unique and beautiful!

You can make a big statement by using a furniture piece of a completely different style from the rest of the room, but usually, it works best to balance contrast and connection. That is, the contrast of different materials, colors, and forms creates visual interest, but connections, or common elements between pieces in the room will pull the look together.

Here are some examples that blend modern style with a comfortable, homey look. I look at more traditional spaces in a companion post.

Hanna’s Room

This is a fresh and airy dining area from Hanna’s Room.


  • The natural wood of the table stands out in a space that is otherwise all white.
  • Its simple straight lines form a backdrop for the curvy chairs.
  • The bare bulb pendants and modern white chairs feel crisp against the other soft, worn surfaces in the room.


  • White is the obvious theme in this room, found in the walls, floor, curtains, chairs, and other accessories.
  • The wood table is simple enough that it doesn’t overpower the rest of the room, and the material ties into the wooden floor planks.
rustic table with modern chairs

This wooden table works perfectly in a clean white space by providing a contrasting material and color. Its clean lines fit with the modern design, and the wood relates back the painted wood floor. From Hanna’s Room blog.

Go to Hanna’s Room


Here’s another example of a mixed dining set using mid-century modern elements. The photo is from Quiest-Brooke


  • The warm red of the chairs contrasts against the distinctive white tulip table.
  • Both the red and white provide interest against the wooden floor and wooden sideboard.


  • All the furnishings in this room have a mid-century style.
  • The round back and mid-century style of the chairs works perfectly with the tulip table and warms it up considerably from the cool space-age look of a complete tulip dining set.
  • The red color is echoed in the pot and vase, and the white blends with the white walls and ceiling.
tulip table with red chairs

This distinctive white tulip table was paired with red wooden chairs. The circular back of the chairs and the mid-century aesthetic tie them together. The chairs are a beautiful accent in this room. From Quiest-Brooke.

Go to Quiest-Brooke

Dad’s beach house:

The two rooms above were part of my inspiration in creating the dining space in my dad’s beach house. This home is built with modern straight lines, but with an emphasis on natural materials, like the mahogany trim. As a coastal vacation home, it should be warm and inviting, too. There are many wonderful sources for rustic wooden tables – flea markets, Craigslist, thrift stores, or furniture manufacturers that make tables from reclaimed wood. I ended up buying a new table that still has that aged look. It’s the Antique Honey Verona table from Cost Plus World Market. I like the trestle style for its looks and for easy of seating (no bumping up against the legs of the table!). You can see in the picture below that Cost Plus paired chairs with a bench, which is another great way to add interest to your dining set. It’s still a lot of wood in the same color, though, and the look is too heavy and rustic for our space.

Cost Plus World Market Verona dining set

Cost Plus World Market Verona dining set

I chose to pair this rustic table with Jake chairs from Room and Board. These are very similar to the ones in picture from Hanna’s Room. I’ve seen the same style for literally ten times as much money from other sources, but I couldn’t tell you why. I was inspired to add some color after seeing the red chairs in the picture from Quiest-Brooke, so I got the Jake chairs in coastal-inspired white and blue, with two orange chairs for a fun accent at the head of the table. I still haven’t decided of three different chai colors is too much, so I took some pictures with and without the blue chairs. I could spray those white. What do you think?

Jake Chair from Room and Board

Jake Chair from Room and Board

Here is the dining space in my dad’s beach house. I feel like it succeeded in blending modern features with a comfortable, coastal style. The chandelier is from West Elm. I don’t think the room needs anything more, though I might find or make a piece of art for the wall.


  • The antiqued wooden table adds a rustic touch to the new and modern space.
  • the orange chairs at the head of the table add interest next to the white chairs.
  • The modern lacquered chairs contrast with natural materials in the table, chandelier, and window trim.


  • The wood table echoes the wood in the trim.
  • The chairs are all the same style, although they have different colors, and those colors are found in other parts of the room as well.
  • The chairs, table, and chandelier all refer to the ocean in the material, color, or form.

Eclectic coastal dining room by Jewels at Home

Eclectic coastal dining room by Jewels at Home

20120529-152145.jpgEclectic coastal dining room by Jewels at Home

Jewels’ house:

Although the style is completely different, I also have a mixed dining set at our house, where I painted and reupholstered our Ikea chairs. I talk about examples from that room and other more traditional spaces in the companion post: Perfectly-Mixed Traditional Dining Rooms.

I hope you feel inspired and emboldened to create your own unique and exciting mixed dining set. As long as some elements – shape, material, color – tie into your space, you’ll end up with a look that’s striking and cohesive.


Easy Coastal Transformations for Ikea Dressers

My dad has a love of the ocean. He grew up spending summers at the beach, and it’s one of those memories that still stirs him. He’s downsizing his main home to a condo and invested in a getaway house near the ocean. A big part of his vision is to have our boys play on the beach the way he did, so I know we’ll be at the house a lot, too.

I’ve been charged with putting his house together, which at times has been a curse (construction project from &$@%!) but is, of course, also very exciting. I can’t deny I love a good decorating project and am fortunate to have this opportunity from my dad. And of course, since we’re by the ocean, I’d love to incorporate elements of a beach house into the design.

One of the many beautiful things the ocean gives us is the beautiful bleached grey patina of weathered driftwood. This dresser from West Elm caught my eye, because of the organic feel of the wood tiles and the fresh look of white against wood.


West Elm prices are reasonable, but I had a whole house to finish, so I was hoping for a lower-priced option. What do you think when you think of inexpensive furniture? Ikea, of course! Ikea is a real mix of flimsy stuff that is barely worth the low prices and some really fantastic finds. For furniture, I try to stick with their solid wood pieces, which are sturdier and will last a lot longer than paperboard and foil. These Hemnes dressers definitely feel like they’re sturdy and a good value.
One of the current finishes at Ikea is this gray-brown, which I think has the look of driftwood. The super-easy trick I used was to buy two Hemnes dressers in white and two in grey – all for the price of one dresser from West Elm. I then swapped the drawers between the two sets, and tada! Instant coastal charm with a clean look that will endure!

A simple swap was all I needed for the master bedroom dressers, and the white matches the West Elm Window Headboard perfectly.

Ikea Hemnes dresser hack - swap the drawers for a coastal transformation. By Jewels at Home

White dresser with gray-brown drawers in the master bedroom.

Ikea Hemnes dresser hack - swap the drawers for a coastal transformation. By Jewels at Home

For the kids’ bunk room, I wanted to use a surfing theme, so I painted surfboards on the drawers. The designs were taken from some of the bedding in the room. This is a fun coastal look that is great for young kids and still works for teens.

Gray-brown Hemnes dresser transformed with painted white drawers. By Jewels at Home.

Gray-brown Hemnes dresser transformed with painted white drawers in the boys’ bunk room.

Gray-brown Hemnes dresser transformed with painted white drawers. By Jewels at Home.

Gray-brown Hemnes dresser transformed with painted white drawers. By Jewels at Home.

How to:
To paint the drawers, I sanded the drawer fronts lightly and sprayed them with white primer. I painted the surfboards with acrylic craft paints then sprayed a clear finish on top.

By the way, I realize not everyone needs multiple dressers, but you could swap with a friend or just paint the drawer fronts for the same effect. It was easy to work with the panels before I assembled the drawers.

Hope you’re getting the calm feeling of the beach from these easy and inexpensive dresser makeovers!


I shared this post at:

Powder Room Reveal – Tiny Silver Gem

I am so pleased to finally show you our new powder room! It took longer than I anticipated, but it turned out just as I hoped. I used lots of silver in this small space, to make it feel brighter.

Powder Room by Jewels at Home 1

The finished powder room has lots of bright and elegant details, like the Imperial Trellis wallpaper and new chair rail.

We did not want the hassle or the expense of a full renovation, so I did not take out the walls or floor, even though they were far from perfect.  I worked with what we had and

I’m very happy with the result. Before, the room felt unfinished (because, as hubby points out, it was unfinished) and plain. I  would actually avoid it and go upstairs to a “real” bathroom. Now, it’s still small, but it feels polished and pretty, and I occasionally peek in just to take a look (okay, that won’t go on for long, I hope).

Vanity area before

BEFORE: The whole room was very white – blah – with dated gold-tone fixtures.

I got the help of a handyman to change out the old pedestal sink for this new vanity.  Our half bath is very small, so I looked for a long time to find a small vanity that didn’t feel undersized.  I am happy with the look and functionality of this Covus vanity found on Overstock.  The new towel bar and toilet paper holder add a shiny touch in polished chrome.  The art is a print from an Henry Evans calendar (more of those to see in upcoming posts, too).  I picked the color of the flower and picture mat to tie in the old floor colors.  The frame was a thrift store find and brings more silver into the room.

Here are some more views of the finished room:

Powder Room by Jewels at Home

Powder Room by Jewels at Home 3

Powder Room by Jewels at Home

I’m very relieved to have this powder room off the to-do list.  It was getting embarrassing!  Now, I can get on to some more fun projects that I’ll post soon.


Inspirations from Daily Life – May 2012

I’ll keep updating this post through May and hopefully start a new post each month with some of the photos I’ve taken of inspiring projects and scenes I’ve encountered in daily life.

With all the great decorating blogs and Pintetest, there is certainly no shortage of ideas for design and projects on the Internet. Still, it’s a treat to walk around and find beautiful inspirations in our regular routine.

Kids’ Furniture

These fabulous chairs are in our kids’ school library. They have pages from old children’s books torn, aged, and decoupaged. You could get very creative with these. My friend and I were talking about making a set for the school auction with drawings from the students and their names decoupaged. You could do the same thing for a special teacher who is having a baby, as a shower gift from the class.



Baby Shower Cake

This was actually the practice run for my friend’s baby shower later this summer. On a marble chocolate and yellow cake, I spread whipped cream and created a duckie picture out of strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple. It tastes fresher and lighter than a traditional cake with sugary frosting, and you can’t beat the cute factor! I’m collecting more cute ideas for the main event!

Duckie cake for baby shower by Jewels at Home

Brick ceiling with exposed beams
This beautiful ceiling has a homey timeless feel. Seen at Portobella restaurant in Carmel, CA. We have beams at our house that have been painted white like the ceiling. I don’t think stripping them is in the budget, but we’re thinking of painting them a dark color for contrast.

Brick-lined ceiling with exposed beams

Brick-lined ceiling with exposed beams

Rustic outdoor canopy/strong>

This alluring outdoor seating area is in the Anthropologie store. I love the intimate and idyllic feeling of a canopy over the table.

Rustic outdoor gazebo with canopy

Rustic outdoor gazebo with canopy at Anthropologie store.

More ideas to come!


Scrapbook Paper Clothespin Wreaths {Inspired by Kojo Designs}

The idea for these brilliant clothespin wreaths came from Kirstin at Kojo Designs, who made it as a tea wreath, and it is one of my favorite projects.

O Tea Wreath, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You are

  • easy to make
  • inexpensive
  • eco-friendly, reusing items that would other get recycled or trashed
  • a showcase for gorgeous papers
  • frugal, using up small scraps of paper
  • the perfect gift – beautiful, unique, and useful!
  • versatile – start with tea and adapt for many other displays

Collage of wreath ideas


I think Kirstin’s tutorial pretty much covers it all. I had only a few variations for making mine. I also loved thinking up new ways to use these wreaths!

Here are the simple steps with my tips.

Creating the wreath base:

  • Cut a cardboard wreath using sturdy corrugated cardboard or two pieces of thinner board glued together. I used a plate for tracing the outside circle and a scrapbooking template for the inner circle, though you could also use a cup. If you are using scrapbooking paper, make sure your wreath is no bigger than 11 inches in diameter, so you can wrap the 12 inch paper around.
  • Cut your paper in a circle 1/2 to 1 inch bigger all around than your wreath. The more room you have the easier it will be to wrap the paper around. I used a beautiful wrapping paper called Hydrangeas by Kate & Birdie. I’ll have more projects with that paper coming up!
  • Center your cardboard base on the paper and glue in place. I preferred to use a glue stick for this step, to give a smooth finish.
  • Cut tabs around the outside and the center. I didn’t cut all the way to the cardboard, so the the tabs would not show on the sides.
  • Glue down the tabs in the back. I used the glue stick here, also.

Wrapping the wreath base. After glueing the circle in place, cut tabs around the outside.


I used a craft knife to cut the tabs in the center and held the wreath up to the light to see where to cut.


I liked the glue stick for glueing down the tabs. It sticks quickly and doesn’t wrinkle the paper.

Creating the clothespins:

  • You can find wood clothespins online or at a hardware or craft store. Try the dollar store, too!
  • Cut strips of paper the width of the clothespins. This is a great way to use up all sorts of small scraps of paper that are too beautiful to waste. To cut the thin strips, I used the trusty quilting ruler and mat I used in making the fabric growth charts.
  • Glue the strips to the pins. I used white glue to attach the paper to the clothespins, because it soaks into the porous surface of the wood and leaves a smooth finish. I spread the glue on one pin and then pressed it against a second one, to get a thin layer that completely covered the side of the pin.

I used a quilting ruler and mat to cut precise strips of paper for the clothespins.

glueing onto clothespins

I used white glue for covering the pins with paper. By pressing two pins together, you get a thin even layer of glue.

Covered clothespins

Wow! These clothespins are so beautiful!

Finishing the wreath:

  • Using a glue gun, attach the pins around the wreath, with the clips facing outward.
  • Loop a ribbon around for hanging. You could also use some adhesive strips on the back, if you don’t want to see the ribbon. I like the 3M picture hangers I used for putting up the oversize wall initials.
glueing pins to wreath

Finish the wreath by glueing the pins in place with a hot glue gun and adding a ribbon to hang it.


Endless ideas!

I made several of these wreaths for Christmas and birthdays recently, including teacher gifts, and they were always a big hit. I made them in a variety of colors for many different looks

While I gave the wreaths away with tea bags, my friends and I have found new uses for these beautiful wreaths. Here are some of our ideas. I’d love to hear yours, too!

  • Appreciation wreath – My friend Monica used hers to write messages of appreciation to her kids. She used index cards cut in half and wrote in a different color for each child.
  • Inspiration board – I’m using mine to pin ideas for craft and DIY projects.
  • Photo display – what a pretty way to display your favorite pictures!
  • Card holder – for holiday cards, birthday cards, business cards.
Inspiration wreath

I’m using my wreath to organize ideas for projects. I might need some more pins!

I think there are lots of great uses for the decorated clothespins themselves, too. You could

  • Mount the pins on a rectangular backing for a memo board or photos.
  • Put magnets on the back to use on fridges or magnet boards. If you don’t have a fridge that holds magnets, you can stick the clips directly on the fridge with a removable adhesive, which is what I did with these clips for kids art.
  • Set up a “clothesline” art gallery and use these pretty clips to easily hang and change the kids’ projects.
  • Clip together papers or swatches to organize your office or craft room.

Thanks again to Kirstin at Kojo Designs for this wonderful project idea. It has become a standby for me, and I hope you will let me know if you come up with new ideas for these beautiful wreaths and pins!


Stenciling on Fabric – Lampshade and Pillow

Have you seen these fabulous pendant light drum shades at Room and Board? I’ve been drooling over them for years, with all the gorgeous prints and colors. They’re a splurge at several hundred dollars a shade, but they are really beautiful. Go check out all the beautiful and funky prints they have!

Zinnia Cool Pendant

Galbraith & Paul drum shade from Room and Board in Zinnia Cool pattern.

As always, I was wondering if I could make something like this myself, and in browsing ideas, I found some great examples, including this one from Laura at Some Kind of Lovely Ride. She did a beautiful job on her shade and had great instructions that helped me conquer my apprehension about this project!

laura's lamp

Yellow floral stencils on a lampshade by Laura at Some Kind of Lovely Ride. A perfect DIY inpsiration!

I was so excited to get started, I rushed to the craft store to pick up my supplies and get to work! I stenciled the lampshade in my craft studio and while I was at it, I also stenciled a piece of fabric for a throw pillow. I used Laura’s basic instructions and discovered a few tips along the way, so here’s how it went:



Supplies for stenciling on fabric.

  • Stencils – I used Mini Peony and Mini Mums by The Crafter’s Workshop.
  • Stencil brushes or sponges – These sponge “pouncers” are inexpensive, easy to use, and washable for reuse.
  • Paint – I had a variety of acrylic craft paint around, and I did mix some to get the colors I wanted. It’s optional, but I also added some “textile medium” to my paint, which makes the paint more flexible when dried. This wouldn’t be an issue for the shade, but I thought it would help on the pillow. I mixed the paints in paper bowls.
  • Tape – I used painter’s tape to hold the stencil in place and mask off any areas of the stencil I didn’t want to use.


Basic stencil:

  • Tape the stencil securely in place
  • Put a small amount of paint on your pouncer. If you load on too much paint, it will run under the stencil and smudge your pattern.
  • Lightly dab through the stencil, moving only up and down. Don’t brush side to side, as this will also make paint run under the stencil.
  • Carefully remove the stencil and blot the back on a clean piece of paper to remove any excess paint
  • Repeat!

Tape your stencil in place and lightly dab on the paint.

Adding a color:

  • Wait until the first color is completely dry.
  • If you are going to overlap designs, like I did, think ahead about which color you want to be “on top” and start with the colors that are on the bottom.

Finishing the fabric:

  • This is not necessary for a shade, but for a pillow or other fabric that will be touched and possibly washed, you’ll want to set the paint. When the paint is thoroughly dry, iron the stenciled fabric from the reverse side with a dry iron on medium-high for three to five minutes to set the colors. You can repeat this on the front, laying a thin cloth over the stenciled fabric, so the paint doesn’t stick to your iron.

Finished stencils!

Here is how the shade looked before:


A simple drum shade. Pretty, but I wanted to add some color!

And here’s the finished shade:


Drum shade transformed with floral stencils in blue, green, and silver. I dare say, I like this better than the inspiration shade!


The random pattern of stencils gives a different look from every side. And it makes it easier, because you don’t have to worry about lining up the pattern.


Lit up at night. No, I’m not tired of looking at it. Can you tell?

Here’s the finished fabric. I’ve got a lot of pillow projects lined up, so I should work on those soon!


The stenciled fabric, on the bottom, will be a throw pillow for the daybed. The colors coordinate with the hydrangea print paper I found. I’m making desk accessories and some other projects with the paper.


This project is shared at:
The Shabby Nest

New Powder Room – Chair Rail and Baseboard

Oh my, it’s May! And it’s a very good thing that my friend Ari advised me to start my bathroom makeover after my son’s birthday party. That was two months ago, and I had some delusion that I could get the whole project done in a week – on top of taking care of the kids, going to work, and planning the party itself. I hadn’t wanted people to see the ugly old powder room at the party, but waiting turned out to the right decision.

As they say, good things come to those who finally get their behinds in gear and do some work. I had a little spurt of energy in April, when I put up the wallpaper. Now, I’ve finally added the new trim. I put up a chair rail and used the trick of adding a thin piece of molding a few inches above the existing baseboard to give the illusion of a more substantial baseboard. Adding new trim gives your room architectural detail and makes it feel more elegant and finished.

So here’s what I did:

1) Choose trim

For both the chair rail and the baseboard extension, there aren’t standard shapes, so pick something that you like. I picked a heavier piece with a slope for my chair rail and a very thin piece for extending the baseboard. I get almost all my home improvement supplies at our local hardware store, Papenhausen. I love that I can walk there, and the staff is always friendly and knowledgeable. In a relatively small space, they have just about anything you could need. This time, however, I did end up at a big box store to get a wider selection. It’s almost endless!


Left: small trim piece used to extend the baseboard. I think this is called “stop” molding.
Right: heavier trim piece used for a chair rail. This piece was pre-primed.

2) Measure (twice), cut (once – I wish!)

Measure each wall. If you have an old house like ours, measure at the exact height you will mount each piece, since the walls may not be even. Chair rail is usually mounted 36″ +/- 2″ from the floor. I picked the height of the baseboard to avoid some plumbing. A lot of older and more expensive homes have high baseboards, so this is a great trick to mimic that look, without using a lot of trim, since you’ll just be painting the wall between the old baseboard and the new trim all one color, so it looks like a single tall piece of molding.

You will need a way to make miter cuts (cuts on a 45 degree angle). If you have a table saw, follow the instructions for using that. If not, you can use a tool called a miter box along with a handsaw. Cut the trim into the lengths you need, with mitered ends at each corner.

DO NOT miter the ends that will meet that meet the door jamb, as these should be flush. Yes, I made this mistake – I must have been to0 excited about figuring out how to use the table saw.


Cut the trim pieces at 45 degree angles at the corners.

3) Install the trim
Mark a level line and nail the trim in place with panel nails. You can hammer the nails partway into the boards before nailing them into the wall. That makes it feel less like you need three hands! Once the boards are installed, countersink the nails, i.e. use a nail set or another nail to push the head of your nail into the board, so it doesn’t stick out.


Tools for installing trim:
1) level
2) hammer
3) panel nails
4) nail set (you can also use a large heavy nail)


Hammer the nails partway into the molding pieces before installing.

4) Patch and caulk

Luckily, this step can hide a multitude of errors, and there were a few! Use wood filler to cover the nail holes and any larger gaps (gaps? What gaps?). Sand the patched areas smooth. Then use paintable caulk to run a line along the top of the molding to fill the small space between the wood and the wall.

tools for patching molding

Tools for patching and caulking:
1) sandpaper. I store mine in a magazine file.
2) caulk and caulk gun. You can get ones that you squeeze by hand, too, so the gun is not necessary. Any kind that is paintable is fine.
3) putty knife for smoothing filler
4) wood filler


Wood filler used to cover the nail holes and fill the gap at the corner.


The caulk fills the gap between the new trim and the wall.

5) Ready to paint!

All the trim is installed. The next step is to prime and paint this area. I’m going to use a medium grey on the wall below the chair rail, similar to the inspiration room by Sarah Richardson.

powder room trim

The new chair rail and baseboard extension are in place and ready for priming and painting!

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

By the way, I learned how to install trim watching the Christopher Lowell over a decade ago. Did any of you watch him? He did a great job breaking projects down into steps, and he ended every show by enthusiastically saying, “You can do it!”. Those words kept running through my head as I was working!

Yay! The finish line is in sight for this bathroom makeover. I’m ready to paint, and I’ll call in a plumber to replace the sink with a new vanity. I hope I can post the completed powder room soon. Until then, remember, you can do it!

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


Painted Gold Stripe Tray {by Ari}

DIY decorating projects aren’t just great for saving money. I love the feeling you get when create something that is exactly your vision and absolutely unique. And it’s even more fun when you can share the experience and results with friends. I’m so pleased to introduce you to Ari, my friend, neighbor and fellow working mom/ lover of crafts and decorating. We’ve worked together on quilts for the school fundraiser and shared great times painting furniture and antique hunting. Recently, she got the inspiration to paint decorative trays, and I caught the bug, too.

We picked up some old trays at the flea market last week, and Ari wasted no time getting to work! Here’s the tray she started with, which is one if a pair she picked up for $15 total.


This play tray has a cool mid-century feel, but it’s definitely plain. Just wait until Ari works her magic!

Using an inspiration she had found, which is included in my earlier post on ideas for decorating trays, she decided to paint gold stripes on it for her dining room.

To start, she painted the inside of the tray with a base of white and let that dry overnight. Then she used blue painter’s tape to mask off this great stripe pattern. Chevron and zig-zag patterns are so popular right now, and this is a great play on that idea, without feeling overly trendy. There are metal corners on her tray, so she masked those off, too.


Use blue painter’s tape to mark off your pattern. This is a nice play on the popular chevrons and zig-zags.

Now for the fun part, she sprayed the entire tray with metallic gold spray paint. After letting it dry thoroughly, she removed the tape, and WOW! I can hardly recognize that plain old tray. The result is so sophisticated and will look great in the dining room.


A glamorous transformation for a flea market find. The gold really shimmers and the stripe pattern is so sophisticated.

We have more big plans for decoupage and stencils on trays. I’m also thinking this technique would look great on a wooden box. Come back soon to see how everything turns out.

“Jewels” and {Ari}