It's the little things!

Cheap and/or free are always my favorite way to add a little seasonal warmth to my home!

I shop sales, clearances, auctions, yard is always fun to find inexpensive little "treasures" I can use to decorate a space or add a touch of warmth or whimsy. 

Last Friday I actually did something I really hate. I shopped "retail stores." I was specifically looking for cotton stems or cotton wreaths. Evidently decorating with cotton is all the rage this fall and I wanted some...but evidently that is another "fad" that hasn't hit our area because after hitting every home decor store in the area I came home empty handed.

My neighbor Tammy dropped by this week...she had visited her daughter in south Arkansas and brought home some REAL cotton stems from their farm.

Tammy to the rescue!!!! I couldn't believe she had a pile of cotton stems in her garage just sitting there for the "pickin!" 

LOVE! I literally just snipped off the root ends and stuck them in a little vase. I probably should find a bigger vase, but I love how these REAL cotton stems fill this space! 

Last year I feature some awesome little "coffins."  Sounds morbid I know, but as I explained, they are actually the lids to antique sewing machines...and I absolutely love them! I used a couple for storing photo albums but I had one that was just sitting in the den.

My other neighbors, Kenny and Maryann, have these really cool trees in their backyard...they kind of look like Aspens and the bark is "whiter" than normal tree bark. I have no idea what they are but I used the branches in my little seasonal box I shared here. I decided to cut a few more of their branches and use those in this little coffin in front of the fireplace.

So simple! old galvanized bucket dressed for the season! Just drop a potted mum in it (no need to get your hands dirty!)....or if you don't want to spend the money on a mum, fill it with berry stems, pine cones and pine branches! Again, super simple!


My point? Adding seasonal touches to our home decor doesn't have to cost much, if anything. Just look to nature (and your neighbors!) We do it in the spring and summer when we bring in cut flowers. Fall gives us just as many ways to bring nature into our homes!

Green "horse apples," red berry bush stems, pine tree branches, tree limbs with colorful fall leaves...all ways to bring nature into your space. You can stick them in wood bowls or galvanized buckets or cheap vases or old wooden boxes. 

Some of the prettiest seasonal decorations are free!

It's finally FALL!!!!

...which explains why I have been MIA for a few weeks. Fall. Time for our "traditional" trip out west.

A week in the mountains NEVER disappoints. As I posted last year it is a trip we look forward to for a number of reasons...trees, fishing, train rides (two this time!), down time, inspiration! 

And this year I FINALLY landed my "trophy brown!" 

This was taken on the Colorado River with our guide, Adam, from Cutthroat Anglers out of Silverthorne, Colorado. This is our third year with him and we always have a great day on the river!!! Even if you aren't a die-hard fisherperson, the scenery is worth the trip!

Seriously girls, if you don't fly fish, learn. We take a guided trip in a boat every year, but we normally wade fish. I walk out into the middle of the river and the only thing I can see or hear are the bald eagles and the rushing water. No demanding kids, no barking dogs, no ringing phones.

Don't get me wrong...I love talking to and spending time with my kids. I love talking on the phone. I love my dog (but I don't let her bark!) But a few hours standing in the middle of a river can recharge my over worked brain!

The downside to the trip was the return. First, the jeans and boots went back in the closet...not nearly as cool here as it was there. Second, I came home to a broken refrigerator! I guess it could have been worse. I could have come home to a freezer full of rotted food. Fortunately my daughter caught it before everything thawed and managed to salvage the freezer foods. The stuff in the refrigerator was ruined.

One of the upsides to being an empty can survive for several weeks with a small temporary fridge until the one you really want comes in! 

Truth is, I'm kind of digging the "spacious" look of a small! Seriously, who needs anything more than a few quarts of ice cream and ice in the freezer!

Before we left I managed to get most of my fall decor up. I do this so I can come home and enjoy the season! 

Again, not much (if anything) has changed this year but I thought I would try out the new camera we bought before vacation to see if I could get better photographs. So while most of this might seem familiar (just "search" fall on this site...tons of inexpensive inspiration!), I'm hoping the pictures have improved a smidge from years past!

I have a young friend who mentioned recently that she was going decorate for Christmas because she didn't have any fall decor. I get it...when you are young with a growing family, it is tough to shell out a lot of money for seasonal decorations. But again, adding a few little things every year during the major blow out sales most stores have on seasonal decor this time of the year isn't a super stretch. And garage sales and estate sales are always great ways to build your seasonal stash if you can bring yourself to buy pumpkins and garland in June!

This is a new little sign I made out of a piece of old wood...printed off the lettering on my computer, traced it onto the wood and then handpainted it. Distressed and sealed! Super easy and inexpensive little touch!

I love these little lanterns. Super simple to decorate and change up for the different holiday seasons. Here I shared several ways to inexpensively and easily decorate for the fall season!

Inexpensive candle wreaths "repurposed." Think outside the box!

Another hand painted sign and a wreath I picked up from a garage sale for pennies!

Ugly ceramic pumpkins updated with a little spray paint scattered about. Its the little touches here and there that really warm up a space!

This is a cute little box can easily changed out for each holiday...I shared that here. Super simple, super inexpensive, super versatile! 

I'm stock-piling in the garage for a garage sale in a few weeks, but once that gets cleared out it will be "back to work" on a few projects I have waiting in the wings. 

This is my favorite time of the year! The weather is amazing and the trees are glorious! Enjoy!


How to choose the right paint color....

I have lived in this home for 17 years. The main living area paint color has been the same for 17 years! 

Matt and I repainted about 8 years ago. I painted it the exact same color...SW Creme. 

I love this color. It is bright yet soothing in the day and warm and soothing at night. For me, it is the perfect color for this space.

But "yellow" isn't the "in" color right now...lots of whites and greiges and grays...very few "creams."

I've fallen in line with some home decor "fads"....I have infused teal and cool reds, embraced boxwood wreaths and replaced ceramic tile and marble with travertine. I have painted my interior doors black and replaced much of my flooring with the darker, hand-scraped hardwood and laminate. I can't bring myself to paint my kitchen cabinets but I did install glass front doors, a larger window and open shelving to brighten it up!  

I have used the "greige" colors (specifically Revere Pewter) in several of the bedrooms. Because of 20' ceilings in the living room and the massive task of painting around cabinets in the kitchen and all the window trim in the den, I have dreaded painting the main living area.

Since we leave on vacation next week, I thought it would be a good time for a painter friend to come in and paint my entire living area. The worst thing a woman can do is watch a painter paint her home.

Why? Because it WILL NOT look the way you want it to look until there are two dried coats on the wall and all your "stuff" is back in place. Until then it is either too dark or too light, too blue, too green, too pink, too purple. And inevitably you will begin to second guess your choice and in turn drive your painter insane! Go away...come back when it is all done and dried!

So that was my plan.

My M.O. for choosing a paint color has always been the same. I pick up a few hundred "paint chips" at the store and bring them home to look at in my light. DO NOT fall in love with a paint color at the WILL NOT look the same in your home lighting.

Bring a few hundred paint chips home and start narrowing down your favorites. Trust me, you will be able to narrow it down to 3-4 colors you THINK you like! Then go buy sample pots of the paint you THINK you like.

Find several walls that get several different "lights" throughout the day. Trust me, paint changes color as the light changes while you may love the color in the morning, that horrid "green tone" you dislike may show up in the afternoon or evening. 

Since I already had a can of leftover paint from Mitchell's room makeover,  I started with the Revere Pewter. I love it in that room but in my living area...ECK! It was horrid...just too dark for my taste! Prime example of how a paint color can be amazing in one room of your home, and terrible in another!

So then I found a few others I THOUGHT I liked! Bought sample pots and painted large sections on two walls.

I have looked at these walls for two days...morning light, afternoon light, night light!

When it came right down to it, I still love the original color...more than anything I THOUGHT I might like.

So for now I am going to stick with the "cream" I picked out 17 years ago. It may not be the "in thing" right now, but it is a color I love.

And in the end that is what home decor is all about...finding what YOU love and doing it. In spite of what Pinterest and other bloggers tell you!

P.S. I was immediately asked "what did you do about the big painted splotches on your walls?" Remember my advise about ALWAYS keeping a can of touch up paint in the house, protected from extreme temperatures, so it will last? Yep, I have painting over the large splotches was no biggy! If you don't have the paint or know exactly what you painted with originally, you may be in trouble! 

Armoir makeover....

Occasionally I find a piece I really love. This armoire is one of those pieces.

I obviously don't have room for it in my home, but it is a very unique piece that could serve a number of purposes in a home...dresser, kitchen pantry, tv cabinet or even bathroom storage! 

In it's original condition it wouldn't have been difficult to over-look. But this is one of those times one has to look beyond the years of neglect and abuse and know that it can be made beautiful and useful again! 

Again, I have to have my "wood fix" so I decided to strip and refinish the top. I stripped it using this process and then topped it with tung oil finish. I love how removing all the old "muddy" finish revealed a very unique and beautiful walnut veneer! Seriously, this took minutes...don't miss out on uncovering a piece of "art" just because you think this will be a difficult task and do not use the wrong process (like sanding!) 

I had originally planned to paint the inside, but after stripping the drawers I decided the mahogany was just too beautiful to slather in paint so I decided to strip and oil it as well.

The veneer doors and sides weren't anything to write home about. A little "chalk paint and distress" treatment brightened the piece and gave it a much needed "update." This "farmhouse" look isn't exactly my style but it really brought this cabinet into the 21st century!

In the end, a simple makeover made all the difference! 

This week has been "project" week for me. Usually I take inventory of what needs to be done and then make a plan for how and when....again, I use an "assembly line" process when I have a lot to work on!  Tuesday was sand, repair, build and prime day. Can't paint when saw dust is flying all over the place. Today I will sand the primed pieces and chalk paint a few. I like to let the chalkpaint cure a few days before I sand...I have found that the paint "distresses" rather than peels when it has cured well!  

Off to work I go!!!!

The calm AFTER the storm....

We have all heard the expression "the calm before the storm." For DIYers, we live for the calm AFTER the storm.

Before the storm we are searching non-stop for "inspiration," driving all over town or burning up our computers looking for materials... measuring, planning, pondering, stressing. 

Then the day comes...the dreaded "demo day!"

Unless you have the luxury of starting from scratch there is always a little bit of "demo."

As you probably know I have spent the better part of three years "sitting on my hands," doing everything in my power to NOT paint my kitchen cabinets. I just know that someday in the future the "white cabinet craze" will come to an end and I will be stuck with painted cabinets. that quest, I have "reset" my entire kitchen, built open shelving, installed glass doors...and now? Well, after much measuring, planning, pondering and stressing, I have decided to take two more steps to a "lighter, brighter" kitchen WITHOUT painting the cabinets. 

Hence, the "storm." 

This is my kitchen shortly after the "reset".... "at peace." 

I decided to install a lighter backsplash. It is time. The tile has been there for 17 years. Truthfully, itwas still the right style, just not the right color....everything was so "orange." 

I went online and searched for some inspiration...I was pretty sure I wanted travertine but I wasn't sure what style...subway, tumbled, split-face...just so many options. One of the problems I ran into is that "painted cabinet craze." It seems so many kitchens that feature travertine backsplashes also have painted cabinets...mine are stained. 

But I found a few "inspirations" that allowed me to see what the different types of tile would look like...again, I put the pictures in my "inspiration file" and didn't bother to save a "link." So my sincerest apologies if this is your kitchen or picture and I do not give you proper credit...just know that imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery! 

These are just of a few of the MANY photos I put in my "inspiration" file.

So off to the tile stores I went. Honestly, I have been looking for new tile since I installed new granite over four years no avail. I finally found one I  loved! I brought home a sample...looked good. Played with it in different lights...all good. So I ordered it!

Here is one small problem with even the simplest change around here. If I am going to install a new backsplash, now would be the time to install the larger window I've kinda been wanting. Bigger window, more light... "lighter and brighter." Right?

But do I want one that raises up like the existing window...or maybe one that slides to the side and has a screen that slides so I can hand stuff out to Brian while he grills. off to the window store. Remember, I DO NOT like to "shopping" for new windows and tile for a kitchen I know I will have to live with for MANY years is not really what I call "fun." 

Finally settled on a larger sliding window and a travertine tile and after everything was ordered I started the dreaded "demo." 

First, I removed the 9" cabinet to the left of the window. Honestly, the only thing in that cabinet were long expired cold medications and eye glasses my 28 year old son wore when he was 14! The cabinet didn't go to waste...I removed the door, painted it to match the laundry room cabinets and installed it between the two cabinets above the washer and dryer!

I can still tile, so I started removing the old tile...which means removing the sheetrock because, well, you ARE going to tear up your sheetrock when you remove ceramic tile. No way around it.

Now this is when I admit that I am no longer super woman. When I changed out this window the last time (no, this is not the first time I have changed out this window!) I did all the work myself, except the siding (I don't do siding). I removed the old window, framed in the opening for the new window and installed it. 

But that was a few years ago and this time I decided the cost to reframe and install the window was equivalent to what I would spend at the chiropractor. So I hired it done!

After tearing up one wall of tile and sheetrock, I decided to do a little research about tiling over tile.

Now I am one who NEVER paints over paper, or papers over paper, or tiles over tile. I'm a firm believer in removing the old before installing the new. But after a lot of research and talking with a few "experts" I determined that there is no reason I could not tile over the existing was sturdy, the tiles were all firmly attached to the wall and I didn't have any mold or mildew issues. So rather than remove ALL the tile around the entire kitchen and then have to replace ALL the sheetrock, I broke my cardinal rule and tiled over the existing tile on two walls.

After a day of window installation and several days of tiling, grouting, sheetrock repair, trimming, painting and cleaning, this is what I ended up with!

I also took the opportunity to add two more glass front doors. I had added several when I did the original "reset" a year ago, and I loved them. So I ordered two maple doors for the cabinets on both sides of the refrigerator, stained them to match the existing cabinets and added reeded!

My next big goal for this kitchen are new appliances...but as I have said before I can't bring myself to buy new when the old still works just someday! Honestly, it is a good thing I didn't do it a few years ago when I got a bug for stainless...because now I love the "black stainless."'s a good thing I didn't follow the fad then!

For now I am enjoying the "lighter and brighter" of the new backsplash and larger window!


Sofa/entry table makeover....

Another simple makeover on a table...gel stain, chalk paint, a little paint on the hardware.

I picked up this little table at an auction a few weeks ago and it really was a relatively simple update.

Gel stain can easily be applied right over existing stain but the top of this table had some serious issues so I used this proess to strip the top...then I applied gel stain.

Okay...I ave  t quit tping nw eause my key oard is otally fried and half y letters won't rkw...enjoy the pitures while I go uy a new mputer...

Little projects that can make a big impact!

While my garage is packed with projects I should be working on, the heat and humidity are just too much. This past week I worked on a few little projects inside!

The first is a "not so little project" but one I have been putting off for a loooong time! I shared the new living room chair I reupholstered here. I also had a little MCM chair and fabric ready to go but I could not bring myself to start the project. Upholstery is one of those things I do ONLY because I like the final results.

I was hoping duck egg blue and mauve would miraculously come back into vogue so I wouldn't have to mess with it, but that's probably not going to happen anytime soon! (Those who remember the 80s will understand this!) 

A teal club chair was one element of my den makeover plan I shared over a year ago. As I mentioned in the reveal post, not all elements of a makeover happen overnight...some may take years. Case in point!

Anywho, this wasn't technically a "little" project. I pretty much had to deconstruct the entire chair, strip and reoil the wood (beautiful!) and then reupholster. 

Once it was done....BIG impact.

But I really did accomplish two relatively "little" projects that have been on my "to do" list and that made a big impact.

The first was changing this little "gallery" of my "Things I Love" features. Family photos.

Honestly, these have not changed in 16 years but I want to change it up in my quest to "lighten and brighten" elements in my house. Since I am transitioning from the "warm" blacks and burnt reds to "cooler" reds, off-whites and teals, I decided these frames would be easy little elements to update with a little paint and new mats. Still love the pictures...just not how they are displayed

Here I shared the changes to the pictures on my dining room wall....

Just painting the frames and adding new mats made a HUGE difference in this space and cost very little.

I removed all the matting, photos and glass from the frames (good time to REALLY clean the glass!) I had mounted these pictures ON TOP of the matting so all I had to do was cut new teal matting using the old mats as a template and then reattach the photos using double sided tape. Frames are super easy to paint...a little primer and a little spray paint (Valspar Riviera favorite off white spray paint) 

Perfect! (Um...yeah...I need to do something about the nasty looking thermostat!)

The other little project was super easy as well. I have wanted "modern" type house numbers for some time. I even painted some on my front door several years ago.

The actual house numbers that can easily been seen from the street are in the gable above the garage door...just cheapo, boring black numbers. Right now they are covered up with the "ivy" that is creeping all over the front of the house and at Christmas they are covered with a huge wreath (that warranted a visit from the code enforcer one year!) 

In my defense, this stuff usually doesn't get THIS out of control. Brian usually pulls it down every year when he puts up the Christmas lights. But last year we used one of those "star shower" thingies and didn't put any lights on the is out of control! 

I have a plain "ho-hum" brick column on my tiny front porch that I thought might be perfect for a number display!

I ordered the "modern" style 4.5" numbers from Amazon. 

Somewhere along the way I picked up a plank of walnut. I've kind of been hoarding it for the last few years waiting for the perfect project and this was it.

I laid out the numbers on the board, measured and then cut the board the length I needed. Not sure how well tung oil finish will hold up outdoors, but that is what I used to seal the wood (3 coats).

Then I measured and marked where each number was going to go, drilled holes, secured the numbers using hardware screws, and then mounted it all on the brick column.

I used masonry screws to attach the board to the column. Since I didn't want the screws to show, I drilled a hole 1/4" deep with a 1" paddle bit, then pre-drilled in the middle of that hole for the masonry screws and then covered it all with hardwood plugs.

Dabbed a little tung oil finish on the plugs....cute as a bugs ear!

Doesn't look like the heat is going to let up any time soon so I have hauled several pieces into to the dining room to chalk paint! Maybe I can get a little bit of projecting done and get some room to breath in my garage! Maybe....

Flagstone repair.....

It's no secret, I love flagstone. I literally have TONS of it in my yard. Last year I shared my new flagstone "patio" in the front of the house. Still love it! I did add a HUGE stone under the roof valley so a heavy downpour of rain water didn't cause so much "settling" on the smaller rocks. 

As beautiful and natural as flagstone is, it does require occasional "maintenance." There is always the occasional weed and sometimes a rock, or rocks, will settle a tad. The rocks on the backside of my pine tree row have shifted and settled over the years (roots and moles), but honestly I don't really care...kind of gives it a "natural" look. 

But when the rocks in my walkway began to sink as a result of the stupid moles, something needed to be done.

First, I killed the mole. (Knowing full well another will take over his territory...whatever! Here I shared my "mole hunting" ritual!)

Second, I needed to remove the rocks and put in a new "base." 

Before I moved the rocks that needed a little shoring up, I snapped a picture of them with my phone....

I know me well enough to know that I will never be able to remember how they were laid out...lesson learned the hard way! 

After removing the rocks, I packed down some top soil, primarily to fill the mole runs.... (if I really wanted to mess with the moles I would have put down a gravel base...but I used what I had on hand! No doubt I will have to do this again!)

...and then about two-three inches of sand.

Then I let it sit. We were forecast to have several days of rain, and several good steady rains is the best way to make sure your base is packed down well!

If you don't get a good rain, you can water the area down with a hose and pack it. They have special "packers" but I figure my @%# pounds of person stomping around on it will suffice! At least in this small area...

After a good soaking (yippeee, it actually rained!) it may need a little leveling so just add a little more sand and then water and pack that well!

It was a good thing I took a picture of the "before"...otherwise I indeed would have had issues placing the rocks.

After laying the rocks and making sure they are level (if not, just lift and throw a little more sand under it), I top them with a sand/soil mixture, sweep it into the cracks and then water again. You may have to do that several times as the mixture settles between and under the rocks!

As you can see, I finished up just as the rain started again! That is actually good because it will allow the sand/soil mixture to settle naturally and I can fill it in as needed! chore down, many more to go! Finally finished up Katie's headboard and got that set I hope to share all the fun little projects we did for her condo! I'm working on a chair that has been sitting in the corner of my den for over a year and I have several other little projects to share in the next few weeks.

Including a big change in my kitchen! Materials are ordered!



Lazy days....

This heat is brutal...I hate to gripe because my son reported it was 120 degrees in Phoenix a month ago and I usually we are in triple digits by now. But seriously, this heat and humidity is brutal.

Because of that I get a tad lazy.

First, I want to hibernate...seriously, go inside and not come out until October. Second, I tend to do stupid things....

Like take this little mahogany bookshelf in without doing anything to it....

Not horrible and I really thought just MAYBE someone else would take a risk on it. But it did have several issues.

First, the overall original finish...kind of cruddy!

Not horrible, but not great either.

The biggest issue was a "burn" on the veneer,. Seriously, how does this happen?

I have no idea!

I brought it home after it sat in my room at 410 Vintage for a month or so...evidently no one was willing to do their own DIY on it. So it was up to me to make it presentable...curses!

First, I had to repair the burned veneer (again, what the heck?) I used the same process I used on the old dresser and shared  here. 

I really wanted to save a little bit of the wood feature, so I used this process to strip and oil the top. Didn't take but a few minutes!

Plaster paint, distress and seal. 

I want to admit one little glaring error in this little makeover. Mahogany has a tendency to "bleed" through any paint. The BEST thing to do when painting mahogany is to first seal it with a clear lacquer or primer, then apply your paint. 

I, sadly, did not do this. And while my little "repair" job on the veneer is darn near perfect, the fact that the mahogany bled through makes this little oversight a little more glaring.

You can clearly see where the patch is and where the original finish bled through...I'm blaming this one on the heat too! I know better.

Oh well...guess I'll just drag it back in the house and give it ANOTHER little makeover...curses!

"New" barstools and a few dresser makeovers!

Last week I shared the prep work on the "chest of drawers from hell."  

This week I was able to get it painted and the hardware installed! Precious!

I kept the paint treatment fairly neutral with one of my favorite off-whites...."Swiss Coffee." The white and teal combo has been selling VERY quickly, but I decided to stay simple and neutral with this one! Partially because I absolutely adore this hardware and I didn't want to do anything to distract from it!!

As I mentioned last week, I painted the interior of the drawers to seal in the "funk" and make them look a little better! I used some leftover paint I had from another project...takes a few extra minutes but honestly, well worth the time and effort!

As you can see, the extra time I took to repair the damaged veneer on the top and the side really paid off!

I took this little chest to 410 lasted all of about 4 hours! Confirmation that all the hard work was well worth it!

I did paint one old dresser I had with the teal and white combo...

Just one of those old maple dressers...a little paint, a little gel stain on top, some new hardware and this baby sold within two hours of taking it in! (I didn't even bother to take a photo before I delivered it...this is one I snapped with my phone!)

 I also finished up another little project waiting in the wings...these old bar stools!

Certainly not something you would want in your kitchen which might explain why I was able to pick them up for a few bucks each at an auction. Pretty ratty!

But with a little KSTP treatment and a simple reupholstery job on the cushions, beautiful!

After I disassembled them, I cleaned them up, sprayed them with Kilz, sanded smooth, wiped with a tack cloth, and then I sprayed them with a satin white spray paint. I had some leftover grey herringbone material from Sister's tufted chair project (will share that soon!) so I used that to recover the seats.

Recovering barstool seats and dining room chair seats are one of the simplest "reupholstery" jobs a DIY newbie can tackle. And it can completely change the look of a stool or chair. Again, TONS of great tutorials online for this simple project!

Again (and again and again) if you have a "ratty" piece of furniture that just doesn't trip your trigger any more, CHANGE IT! Life is too short to live with ugly furniture!