For this year’s Chinoiserie Christmas, I mostly used decorations I already had from our “white and woodsy Christmas,” with the addition of these hand-drawn ornaments! This post is coming late, because it took me all month to finish these ornaments, … Continue reading
Yup, yup, after years of wearing a “brown thumb” badge of honor, I finally fell hard for gardening and house plants about a year ago. As a crazy plant lady, I do, of course, occasionally indulge in buying some new … Continue reading
I’m decorating our foyer and wanted to feature a beautiful console table. While I found some already-finished options I liked, I needed something very specific to help disguise a radiator – but not block it off – so I decided to dive in and customize my own!
I knew I wanted the feel of a lacquered Chinese table, but I couldn’t find one in the right size and shape. I looked for something else with simple lines and hoped that with a few tweaks, some paint, and new hardware, I could pull off a transformation!
I started by assembling the sideboard except for the lower shelf. I wanted to leave the bottom open for baskets or stools. I had to fill in a few holes with wood filler. I also filled in the holes for the hardware and drilled new ones to match handles I bought on Etsy.
After sanding for a smooth finish, I started painting. I really debated the color choice, because the hall is already quite dark. In the end, I just knew I had to go with the color I loved and (with credit to Tim Gunn on Project Runway) make it work!
The navy paint is Nocturne by Behr, which I also used to repaint our master bath vanity. After painting, I added several coats of a glossy varnish, both to create shine as well as protect the finish.
My plan is to use some light-colored and neutral accessories to balance out the darker table.
Finn, the rug model, and the new console.
Can’t wait to see the whole space put together!
Most years, I try to make something creative as holiday gifts for our teachers and coworkers. There’s so much joy in giving, but we’re also living in a time and place where it feels like everything is at your fingertips, so something handmade feels like a good way to express how much we appreciate those around us. When I can manage it, I make a few extra to last through the year as hostess and grown-up birthday gifts. I’ve linked to previous years’ handmade gifts at the bottom of the post, if you’re looking for more ideas.
This year, I decided to make stenciled canvas tote bags as our holiday treat. They’re so pretty and unique, yet also practical, as we’re trying to minimize our use of disposable shopping bags. I had so much fun trying different combinations of colors and patterns.
What you’ll need:
- Canvas tote bags. These ones are great, because they are a cotton blend. They still look and feel just like cotton canvas, but they don’t wrinkle (I’m allergic to ironing)
- Stencils: I chose a tile design, arrows, gingko leaves, feathers, and birds (even though I just bought mine a couple of months ago, some are no longer available, so I’m linking to some similar ones. I got mine from Cutting Edge Stencils and Amazon)
- Craft paint
- Textile medium
- Sponge painters
- blue painter’s tape and old magazines
How to do it:
- Prewash the bags
- Choose a stencil and use blue painters tape to hold it in place
- Put an eye md magazine inside the bag, so the paint won’t go through to the other side
- Mix paint with textile medium according to the instructions
- Use the spouncer to apply light coats of paint
- Once thoroughly dry, iron the pattern using a press cloth to set the paint
- That’s all! Unless you’re me and repeat it many, many times!
Here are just some of the combinations I made!
Tile stencil in navy and in ombré blues:
Arrows, with a contrasting accent color and (bottom left) ombré blues:
Feathers,with a contrasting accent color or (bottom) ombré blues and greys.
I really liked the feathers!
I loved the tile in this mix of copper and gold paint. The metallic paints were very thick and made very crisp designs.
A close up of the feathers:
The birds were fun to arrange in different patterns and colors.
My mother-in-law likes gingko leaves, so I made this one for her:
And I got to keep this one for myself!
No matter how I plan, the holidays are hectic. I definitely all felt worthwhile when I went to give out the bags. Our teachers and friends were so excited – it definitely put me in the spirit of the season!
it made me happy to make the people I care about happy. My friend Liane took this great photo of her bag:
Looking for more handmade gift ideas? Here are some from past years:
- Dip-painted wooden kitchen utensils
- Stamped tea towels
- Magnetic desktop picture frames
- Washi tape gift jars
- Pancake and hot chocolate mixes in jars
Our Lego Ninjago birthday party is coming up, and I’m making t-shirts for all the kids as party favors.
I tried two different ideas for the shirts. First, I made stenciled ninja silhouettes for the older boys. Details on where I got the blank shirts and created the stencils are in that post.
And for the younger kids, here’s how the cute Ninjago eyes T-shirts turned out:
Instructions for DIY Ninjago eyes T-shirts:
- Create a template for the eyes and trace it onto contact paper. Cut out the template, including the eyebrows and eyes. I used a circle cutter – you could also use a large circle punch – for the eyes. You can print this image and enlarge or shrink it as needed:
- Stick the contact paper onto yellow fabric, trace around the outside with a pencil and use black fabric paint and a stencil brush to paint the eyes and eyebrows.
- When the paint dries, iron it on both sides to heat set the paint.
- Iron Heat’n Bond Ultra Hold Iron-On Adhesive onto the back of yellow fabric.
- Peel the backing paper off and iron the yellow fabric on to the T-shirt.
- I used black puffy paint to outline the fabric, which also seals the edges to help prevent peeling and fraying.
- Your design will last longer if you wash the shirt inside out.
Here are some close-ups of red Ninjago Kai and blue Ninjago Jay:
Besides red for Kai, and blue for Jay, I also made heather gray (because I’m not crazy enough to make a white T-shirt for a little boy) for Zane, black for Cole, and green for Lloyd Garmadon, the birthday boy!
Hope you’ll try some of these ideas and make shirts for your own little guys!
You can also always find great sales on Ninjago and other Lego shirts, games, and toys at Zulily.com!
I think you know by now that I love a great vintage find – what a great way to add character to your home, save money, and keep things out of the landfill.
My latest treasure is a marble-topped coffee table I found on Craigslist. I looked for a few weeks before finding something the right size and style for our space. This table has just enough curves and details to show its history – the seller said, it was his grandmother’s from the 1950s – without being overly ornate or fussy.
A quick paint job in glossy black gave the base of the table an elegant new look, and there was a small chip in the marble top that I repaired.
I think our living room is finally complete, so I will post some more pictures of the space soon!
Honestly, I don’t get tired of planning the boys’ birthday parties. This is different than saying I don’t get tired executing my own plans, which I do, but the ideas are so endless and inspiring, so I hang in there, and their happy faces are always the best reward!
This year, L wants a Ninjago birthday. I have to say that Lego’s marketing strategy is truly brilliant – combine Lego, a fantastic toy, with every possible boyish fad – Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pirates, Lord of the Rings, and Ninjas! It’s irresistible, as the clutter in the boys’ room will attest.
I’ve mentioned that I try to do a larger and reusable treat in place of a goody bag of small items. This time, I wanted to make the boys Ninjago T-shirts.
You can actually find T-shirts for sale for a reasonable price, if you keep your party small, but 1) I wanted long-sleeved shirts, since our weather is temperate year-round and 2) I think everything is more fun when you make it yourself!
I got the shirts at BlankShirts.com. I’m not affiliated with them or anything – I just figured I’d share my research in looking for inexpensive blank shirts. You can get short-sleeved shirts for as little as $2. I got these long-sleeved ones for about $8. I’ve also found some on clearance at Lands End for as little as $5, but you won’t get the same range of colors there.
I’m trying two different ideas for the shirts:
- stenciled ninja silhouettes for the older boys
- ironed-on and painted Ninjago eyes for the younger ones
Here are the instructions for the stenciled T-shirts. I’m really thrilled with how well they turned out, and it was quite easy! I’ll post the Ninjago eyes when they’re done.
- Choose a ninja silhouette from the Internet and enlarge it.
- Tape the printed silhouette over some contact paper and cut it out with a craft knife. I was able to do two layers at once, to make two stencils. (top row of pictures below)
- Stick the contact paper stencil in place on the shirt, with a piece of cardboard inside the shirt. (bottom left picture below)
- Use a stencil brush or sponge to apply black fabric paint. Remember to use small amounts of paint at a time and “pounce” up and down, so paint doesn’t bleed under your stencil.
- Remove the stencil. I was able to reuse it a few times.
- Once the paint is dry, heat set the stencil with a hot iron. I used a thin press cloth on the front and then also ironed it from the inside. (pictured below)
- Your pattern will last longer if you wash it inside out.
Yay! The pattern on these came out very crisp and looks great. I’m already thinking of other patterns to try!
More ninja-themed T-shirts coming up soon!
This post should be subtitled “The Accidental Artist.” When I set out on this project, I just meant to repaint some old ornaments I had. Along the way, some of them turned out with a lovely mercury glass look that was an unexpected and pleasant surprise, since I have been coveting those baubles but holding off on buying them, since glass and toddlers do not mix. I wouldn’t normally have bothered painting these inexpensive plastic ornaments at all, but since I had the supplies already, I thought I might as well, and it turned out to be a good thing!
I had a lot of simple red and gold ornaments left over from the Chinese “Red Egg and Ginger” party I organized for J a couple of years ago. I’ll have to blog about that later! This year, I’m trying for a red, turquoise, silver, and white -themed Christmas, so I decided to repaint some of the gold and red balls to turquoise and silver. I had plenty of other red ones.
I taped the balls upside down on some scrap cardboard with painter’s tape, sprayed a coat of primer and then a few coats of paint. The turquoise paint was initially intended for an old wooden chest. This color was actually too bright for the chest, but it came in useful here. The silver (soon to be “mercury glass”) ornaments were painted with Rustoleum metallic paint in “chrome.” I’ve been in the lookout for Krylon’s “Looking Glass” paint, and I have yet to find it in a local store, but the Rustoleum metallic chrome seems similar and has a very reflective silver finish. I would have been happy to leave the ornaments silver, but I thought I would do a clear topcoat to help protect them from chipping. The clear spray I happened to have in the garage is a lacquer, which might have more solvent in it than a regular spray paint. In any case, it left tiny dull spots on the chrome, and for a split second, I was disappointed, but I’m now as pleased as (Christmas) punch, because they have a great faux mercury glass look!
Here’s how I painted the ornaments:
Here are some more pictures of the “mercury glass” ornaments. They are not perfect, and I’m eager to try more of the faux mercury glass techniques out there, but as accidents go, this one was very happy (much happier than some of the mishaps that have not ended up on the blog!).
I’m definitely getting that festive holiday feeling! How about you?
I give my hubby a lot of credit for seeing the potential in our current house. While I’m incredibly grateful to have a comfortable home to live in, it has been a long process for me to actually come to love the look of the place. There was a lot of pink, red, gold, and heavy ornate-ness that we’ve been slowly replacing. I think the recent work by our painters was the tipping point for me. I can now truly say that it is a pleasure to walk in the house and see these stairs.
As you can see, a lot has changed since the (blurry – sorry, I had to enlarge it to focus on the stairs) real estate picture was taken. We started by changing the light fixtures from crystal chandeliers and sconces to more architectural fixtures, and we replaced the red and grungy carpet with a brown textured wool with a sage green twill binding.
This fall, our painters Joe and Jose (yes, they know they have the same name), helped with a new wall color – Manchester Tan from Benjamin Moore – and painting the stair risers white to match the trim. After they were done, I also spray-painted the metal carpet rods, covering up the tarnished brass with satin black.
The easier thing would definitely have been to paint the risers before the carpet runner was installed, but sometimes inspiration does not come in an orderly way.. So Joe and Jose patiently taped off all the carpet, sanded the risers, primed and painted them.
As for the carpet rods, I considered replacing them, but these innocent-looking pieces of metal are actually very expensive, at $40 plus a set, so a little but of work went a long way. I sanded, primed, and spray painted them a satin black finish to match the wrought iron balusters. I decided to leave the brackets on while painting, which held the rods off the cardboard surface. However, this did mean that I had to shift the brackets between coats, so no areas were missed, and it took a lot of coats. I would recommend lining the rods up very close to each other when painting, so each pass with the spray paint will cover multiple rods.
After I re-installed the carpet rods, the screws were still brass. Luckily, I had watched a wrought iron handrail get installed in our old house, and I saw that the installer painted the screws by spraying matching paint into a cup and then painting it on the screws. I used a cotton swab for this.
I did have a debate about whether to put the carpet rods back on at all. They’re decorative, not functional. I think they make the stairs look more formal and traditional, while they look a bit more contemporary without the rods. I put them back, at least for now, because they do a hide some staples and raw edges on the carpet. What do you think?
Finally, we’re not really statue people, so I decided to fill the spaces on and around the stairs with orchids and houseplants instead. Here’s how our finished space looks. Ahhhh….
I recently became obsessed with the look of vintage faux bamboo dressers, like those made by Thomasville or Henry Link in the 60s and 70s. These dressers have come back into fashion, repainted for a gorgeous new look. I see them on eBay and Etsy regularly, but with the shipping costs from across the country, it doesn’t seem quite worth it. I’m also nervous about taking on such a big project. As Ibie, whose dresser is in the second picture below, chronicles on her blog, the painting process on such a large piece is not for the fainthearted.
Here are some of the beautiful makeovers that caught my eye:
Go to Little Green Notebook
Go to One Story Building
I still have this project in the back of my mind, and I occasionally look around on Craigslist, eBay, and Etsy for that perfect dresser to repaint, but for now, I’m happy with an easier update to our old dresser. This is actually an inexpensive piece that we bought a decade ago. We almost got rid of it a couple of years back, but no one on Craigslist even wanted it, so we decided to repair all the sagging drawer bottoms, and I’m so glad that it has a new life as the sideboard in our dining room.
The hardware we had on there is a little rustic for our space, so I decided to give those old knobs a new life down at my dad’s beach house and replace the hardware with – what else – faux bamboo pulls! I chose this Belwith Bamboo Collection black nickel cabinet pull
, and there were several others out there that also look great, and I put some of my favorites on Pinterest.
Since the new pulls need two holes, I had to drill new ones. TIP: I used a piece of a piece of painter’s taped marked with the distance between the holes, so I could quickly measure and drill.
And here’s the “new” old dresser. No, it’s not as stunning as an old Regency dresser painted in an elegant new color, but it was quick, easy, and inexpensive.
I’m happy with the result of this little project, and will still keep my eye out for something perfect.