Book Review: The Design Cookbook

I love books. Not just the stories in them, but the feel of hefty printed pages in your hands. I especially love looking at used books stores and book sales. There’s something about the combination of a good deal on a newer book mixed in with the curiosities of vintage books that makes for such an enjoyable browsing.

I was recently in Chicago, where I met up with some friends from high school to do the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. On our last day, having walked 39 miles through the beautiful city and shopped our hearts out at the fashion outlets, a friend and I hunted down a big used bookstore: after-words in River North.

I found some fun books for souvenirs for the boys, and my personal pick was The Design Cookbook by Kelly Edwards. Even in this day of Pinterest, I find there is something special about browsing glossy images in a book or magazine.

Kelly Edwards really captures my style goals in this book – the rooms all have an eclectic combination of classic, modern, and whimsical elements. This can be a hard look to pull off, because the room is much more than a sum of the parts, so the “cook book” format is especially helpful. Kelly shows a series of rooms and then breaks them down into a list of features, like a painted lamp and dark walls. I like how this step-by-step approach to decorating can help you with recreating any room you see. The book also includes a handful of DIY projects.

Here are a few of my favorite vignettes from the book.

I am definitely feeling inspired, and I hope you are too!  For the “recipes” for these rooms and more, check out The Design Cookbook by Kelly Edwards.


Chinoiserie Chic Living Room

Our living room has evolved over the years. Here’s a look at some of our latest additions, including the color block drapes and these pretty turquoise chairs from Article (formerly Bryght). I have to admit I was pretty nervous when the intense color showed up in my living room, but I am so glad I took a risk!

Over on the other side of the room, I have a little bar set up next to the dining area:

I recently moved this painted Chinese screen over the bar area when I was rearranging our art. I really like how it brings the eye up and emphasizes the tall ceilings.

And here are two paintings by my mom that I recently added to the living room. These remind me of De Gournay wallpapers and add an authentic bit of Chinoiserie to our home.

Hope you enjoyed the details in our living room!


Tip for Quick DIY Greeting Cards!

So, by now it is no secret that I love beautiful papers and prints. While I am busy discarding and tidying my house a la Marie Kondo’s book,The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I have held on to almost all my paper, as it does truly spark joy! That being said, all this beautiful paper doesn’t belong stored in a craft room, so I am always looking for ways to use and share it. I made this paper art to decorate my craft studio, and I have a big project cooking up for the holidays.

I also love making cards. While these can get elaborate, with multiple papers and shapes, rubber stamps and ribbons, today I want to share a quick way to make unique cards. All you need for this project is two sheets of coordinating paper, and you will end up with four beautiful one-of-a-kind cards.

Tip for Quick DIY Greeting Cards! It's quick and easy to turn two sheets of scrapbook paper into four unique greeting cards | Jewels at Home

Here’s how:

  • Start with two sheets of 12″x12″ scrapbook paper in coordinating colors and patterns
  • Cut 2″ off both sheets of paper, to create 10’x 12″ sheets
  • Cut the sheets in half in the perpendicular direction, to create four 6″x10″ sheets
  • Fold the sheets in half to make cards that are 5″x6″, which fit easily in envelopes for 5″x7″cards (for some reason, I have a ton of these collected over the years!)
  • Finally, cut the 2″ strips in half lengthwise and glue them on the cards of the opposite paper, to create a simple and pretty design.
  • If you are making more sets of cards, you can switch the 2″ strips around multiple ways, to create even more different patterns!

Tip for Quick DIY Greeting Cards! It's quick and easy to turn two sheets of scrapbook paper into four unique greeting cards | Jewels at Home

One of the things I love about this project is that there are no scraps leftover – just a set of cards ready to brighten a friend’s day!


Artsy Decoupaged Mirror Frame

As you know, since I read Marie Kondo’s book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (my review here), I have been busy clearing out and cleaning up our home. Ironically, once I removed a lot of the random piles of kids’ artwork and sports equipment from our foyer, it looks rather bare.

This space definitely needs a brighter and more colorful feel, and I decided to start by adding some pretty paper to our foyer mirror.

Artsy Decoupaged Mirror Frame | Jewels at HomeI originally had a plain mirror there, one that actually came with a bathroom vanity I ordered for our guest room. It was very simple and the perfect blank slate for something decorative. I had bought this pretty blue paper from Paper Source a while ago, and it has been waiting for a project! I used to use Mod Podge for decoupage, but I recently bought a tub of Yes All-Purpose Stik Flat Glue to try, and it has been working well, without the odor of Mod Podge.
Artsy Decoupaged Mirror Frame | Jewels at HomeHere’s how this splash of color and pattern looks in our foyer. It reminds me of the the pretty patterns from Serena and Lily. I think the next addition will be some more accessories and a rug. Hope to show those to you soon!Artsy Decoupaged Mirror Frame | Jewels at Home
Artsy Decoupaged Mirror | Jewels at Home


Planning a Room – From Inspiration to Finishing Touches

Did you just move into a new place? Or perhaps you are settled in your home but ready for a change of style. It can be challenging to plan a space from scratch, but it’s also a great opportunity.

For better or worse, Steve and I have moved a lot over the years, and on the “better” side, I’ve gotten a lot of experience designing spaces. Though I could have transferred our furniture and look directly from home to home, I used each move as an opportunity to refine our collection and re-consider our style. Of course, each home had its unique features of architecture, layout, and lighting, and adapting to each of these became an opportunity to try something new.

Here are some tips for creating your own dream room:

  1. Define the look you want
  • I like to look at magazines and online – Pinterest is perfect for this – and collect images of rooms I like. I start by collecting everything that catches my eye, and then I will edit the collection and look for common themes.
  • Once I have a collection of images that I like, I try to summarize the look in words, defining the color scheme and style. Having the style summarized helps keep me focused when I start decorating.
  1. Go slowly
  • I like to add elements bit-by-bit, to help me see how everything will fit together. I’ll often revise my plans as I go.
  • Don’t rush, or you may end up buying a lot of cheaper items to stay within your budget instead of focusing on slowly acquiring quality pieces.
  • Use what you have! I’ve had a lot of success re-using furniture in new ways. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing the purpose of a piece of furniture. For example, we used this bedroom dresser as a dining room sideboard for a while, and more recently, I switched to using a former TV stand as our side board.
  • Other times, you can repaint or reupholster an item to give it a new look. For example, I spent quite some time looking for black dining chairs with architectural lines, only to realize that I could repaint our existing dining chairs, and by adding a whimsical chinoiserie fabric to the seats, they fit in perfect with our new look.

3. Make it personal

  • While most rooms work best with an overall vision and cohesive style, the unique and unexpected touches are what make a room feel complete. This could be an accent of an bright color or modern art displayed in a traditional room.
  • To make your room feel personal and warm, It’s also important to make sure that you use a mix of new and old items in a room, so your home doesn’t feel like they came straight out of a catalog. I like to find vintage furniture on craigslist like this wooden chest or our marble top coffee table. I’ve also found a lot of great vintage picture frames and ceramics at local thrift stores.


A fun room to demonstrate this process is our living-dining room.

The style I honed in on for this room was based on a Hollywood Regency mid-century look. The main colors are silver/grey and blue. One of my favorite inspiration rooms is this one, by designer Elizabeth Gordon. I love the clean-lined feminine upholstered pieces, with touches of metallic glamor.


While I am well on the way to creating our dream living room, my rooms are never really done. I’m always tweaking things and looking for ways to change things around. One piece I have an eye on is this Chinese cabinet from the online auction site They have a variety of fine art for sale, including paintings and sculptures that would make a great jumping off point for your inspired space! The folks over at invaluable inspired me to write this post, and I have big ideas for a cabinet like this.

chinese armoire

I would like to turn this into a bar cabinet, by adding mirrors to the inside and displaying glasses and bottles. The doors would keep clutter hidden, but the screens would allow glimpses of the glass and bottles on the inside. I think it would be a spectacular addition.

I’ve already been scouting out the accessories I would need:

I hope I will be able to do this project soon and show it to you!


A Few of My Favorite Chairs – Whimsical Chippendale Makeover

I’m not trying to hide the fact that I have a bit of a thing for chairs. I picked up a set of Chippendale chairs off of craigslist a while ago. I’ll admit that I didn’t even know exactly where they would go, but I could not pass up these beauties.

A Few of My Favorite Chairs - Whimsical Chippendale Makeover | Jewels at Home

There were three armchairs, and you may remember I painted these black and reupholstered the seats with a complementary lattice print. They make beautiful side chairs in our living-dining room.


Next up were the four side chairs. I originally thought I would use them for an eat-in area in our kitchen, but when we renovated, we ended up with seating at the island, instead of a separate table.

Not to worry, though, the side chairs have found a home in our family room. This room is decorated with lots of white, as you can see in our “built-in” fireplace wall, and blue, as you can see in the new graphic pillows, so I found a print for the seats of the chairs that would connect to these colors. I love how the modern print makes these traditional chairs feel more contemporary, and the circles complement the angles of the lattice.
A Few of My Favorite Chairs - Whimsical Chippendale Makeover | Jewels at Home

A Few of My Favorite Chairs - Whimsical Chippendale Makeover | Jewels at Home

Here’s how the new chairs fit in to the kids’ study space in our family room: A Few of My Favorite Chairs - Whimsical Chippendale Makeover | Jewels at Home

And a final look to see how all these chairs were transformed from stuffy to stunning!


A Few of My Favorite Chairs - Whimsical Chippendale Makeover | Jewels at Home

So fun! So fun! Funny story. Some of you know that Steve is an avid runner, and I honestly believe I get the same endorphin rush from completing a fun makeover project like this one. Isn’t that crazy?


The Ultimate Craft Studio – Five Keys to the Perfect Creative Retreat

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!

The Ultimate Craft Studio: Five Keys to the Perfect Creative Retreat | Jewels at Home

Whether you have a little corner or a roomy studio, here are my five keys for a perfect creative retreat:

  1. Storage
  2. Work surfaces
  3. Lighting
  4. Beautiful colors and patterns
  5. Artistic inspiration

1. Storage

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.

The Ultimate Craft Studio: Five Keys to the Perfect Creative Retreat | Jewels at Home

These IKEA Liatorp bookcases fit together neatly and hold lots and lots of supplies!

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.

The Ultimate Craft Studio: Five Keys to the Perfect Creative Retreat | Jewels at Home

There’s more storage hidden in the big IKEA Pax closets we built in to the room (more about those in this post).

The Ultimate Craft Studio: Five Keys to the Perfect Creative Retreat | Jewels at Home

The closets in this room, and all our bedrooms, are IKEA Pax units framed and built into the wall. There’s tons of efficient storage inside!


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.

The Ultimate Craft Studio: Five Keys to the Perfect Creative Retreat | Jewels at Home

The Ultimate Craft Studio: Five Keys to the Perfect Creative Retreat | Jewels at Home

The Ultimate Craft Studio: Five Keys to the Perfect Creative Retreat | Jewels at Home

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.

3. Lighting

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).

Stenciled lampshade | Jewels at Home

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.

Queen Anne chair makeover by Jewels at Home

Free Queen Anne chairs found through Craigslist: from worn and boring to fresh and elegant!

These fabric-covered magnet boards contain all the colors of the room.

Fabric-covered magnet boards | Jewels at Home

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 Ultimate Craft Studio: Five Keys to the Perfect Creative Retreat | Jewels at Home

I also like having the magnet boards to keep ideas easily visible. I use one of my clothespin wreaths to keep a list of to-dos.


The bamboo ladder in the corner is a good place to display a quilt-in-progress.

The Ultimate Craft Studio: Five Keys to the Perfect Creative Retreat | Jewels at Home

I have a little inspiration wall in the corner, including paper art projects that I made and a cute printable from Isn’t That Sew.

The Ultimate Craft Studio: Five Keys to the Perfect Creative Retreat | Jewels at Home

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!

The Ultimate Craft Studio: Five Keys to the Perfect Creative Retreat | Jewels at Home


Ready for a final look around to see how all these elements come together?

The Ultimate Craft Studio: Five Keys to the Perfect Creative Retreat | Jewels at Home

The Ultimate Craft Studio: Five Keys to the Perfect Creative Retreat | Jewels at Home


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,


Mudroom Locker DIY: Bookcase Makeover

With our recent renovation, we finished the basement and garage – yay! The garage entry gets used quite a bit when the boys are playing out back or running in after school, so I wanted to create a little mudroom area to corral their jackets and shoes. I especially love this project, because it’s made entirely with things we had in the house already!

Mudroom locker made from a repurposed bookcase | Jewels at Home

I got the idea for turning a bookcase into a mudroom locker from Melissa at Polka Dot Chair, who did this great project using IKEA Billy bookcases. I was going to do the same thing, when I realized we had all the parts I needed at home.

I started with this big heavy bookcase I bought off Craigslist ages ago. I never want to move it again! I shifted the shelves towards the top and bottom – which was perfect, since the bookcase was already missing a shelf, and added hooks for coats and the dog leash. The hooks were from two over-the-door racks we were no longer using. I cut off the hangers and just screwed them in place.

The two baskets on top were also repurposed and fit perfectly, holding all the extra soccer cleats and other shoes waiting to be passed down from one brother to another. Finally, we’re lucky to have pretty mild weather here, so I don’t need my boots too often, and the space on top is the perfect place to store them for a rainy day – haha!

A bamboo doormat finishes off our garage entry!

Mudroom locker made from a repurposed bookcase | Jewels at Home
I’d love to spruce up this area even more by painting the back of the bookcase and the door, but if you could see all the boxes that are half unpacked upstairs, you’d believe me that I’ve got bigger fish to fry!