I’m working on adding a few homemade Christmas touches each year to our collection and this year I decided to DIY a new pillow cover for our couch. The sectional is an ever-changing pillow hodge podge (I tend to just cover up a current pillow with a new cover, so sometimes you can find two or three previous designs underneath ) and I scooped up this particular basic tan throw pillow cover from Ikea for $6.
I thought about felting an ornament or Christmas tree design onto the front (maybe a future project?) but then recalled seeing pillows of seasons past with a simple, scripted message and decided to give it a go.
The toughest part was deciding on what word! I love the pretty flow of ‘Merry’ and the joyful message – or state of Christmas being – that it conveys. It’s a good word to see day in and day out during this special time of gratefulness. Plus ‘M’s are just too fun to write out in cursive! (yeah for an ‘M’ first name)
Supplies for this project included two bright red embroidery thread bunches, an embroidery needle and my blank pillow cover.
An embroidery stitch is quite simple, it involves a basic back stitch technique so that while you’re stitching forward in your design, each stitch will head backwards as you go. Forgive the left hand awkwardness of this shot while I balance my camera in the other:
So my forward progress is on the reverse side of the pillow (though make sure you’re not stitching the two pillow sides together) and my needle pops up and out of the fabric about 1/4 of an inch out from the previous stitch. Then I head back towards that previous stitch to cover up my 1/4 fabric gap. The back stitch allows me to overlap my stitches just a hair so that the embroidery might appear to be close to one continuous line.
Writing out the entire word ‘Merry’ took a couple of hours one late evening while we had some friends over. I like projects that occupy the hands but don’t require too much thinking .
I first attempted to draw a light pencil line on the actual fabric to give myself a template to follow with the needle, but quickly found that it disappeard into the color of the tan fabric too quickly. Anything darker and it would have been harder to erase off of this heavily weaved fabric. Update: Sheila just shared with me that you can purchase a vanishing fabric marker that will write purple and disappear by the next day! Perfect!
In the end I wrote out ‘Merry’ on a card and free handed the pillow. The imperfections are part of what makes it special, though I see areas where I would have dipped my cursive down further, should have slanted my ‘y’ more, or might have added more flourish for interest. Ah well.
I’m really excited with how this project turned out given the time I worked on it and the easy update it makes to the living room! When Christmas is over I can pull off the cover of one of my favorite pillows (those ikat tan ones left over from the nursery glider fabric) that’s hiding below and pack up the ‘Merry’ cheer into my Christmas boxes for next year.
Christmas is just around the corner! So exciting!
Tags: Accessories, Christmas, Crafty Solutions, Decorating, DIY, Home, Living Room, Red, Sewing, Tutorial
Posted in Crafty Solutions, DIY, Holidays, Home, Our Living Room, Renovating Adventures | 3 Comments »
I’ve been anxiously waiting to catch you all up on my breakfast nook project, but I’ve reached a bit of a design dilemma and I thought I’d share what’s going through my mind right now.
I’ve moved the bench seat from the edge of the island:
To this blank wall. We’ll call it the problem wall.
This particular wall used to be the dividing line between what was (way before us) a bedroom and an entry room (at least that’s our suspicion…). It had an unusually placed window just to the right of the side door that makes us wonder if a mudroom existed here before (and a slight buckling in the wall where there may have been another wall that jutted out of it?). The wall was gone before we moved in and a den was in its place.
During our kitchen transformation, this small little window broke and was quickly boarded up and left for a future project. The plan is to either A. replace it, B. use glass block to fill it in, or C. make it disappear altogether as a solid wall. The last is my vote, but Kevin is not 100% convinced on which he loves best. So it sits now as a piece of plywood in the kitchen. We finally painted it to match the walls (though it doesn’t blend much…) and avoid photographing it altogether . When we have guests over, sometimes I hang a piece of art right up over it.
The ultimate goal is to integrate that space back into the house, and even if we wait on the to-close-or-not-to-close decision for a while, I’d like to come up with a solution to hide the eye sore in the interim.
I had this space in mind too for the kitchen breakfast nook and I thought it might work well if the end of counter idea (see top pic) didn’t. And the bench? The perfect size!
Now just picture a round little table and two chairs in front of it.
I love that the colors tie in so well with the artwork.
But back to that dilemma, because the plywood ‘pin board’ is a big eye sore.
I have a couple of ideas…
The first one that I imagined as perfect for the space was to find a cool old mirror and convert it into a chalkboard, like this:
How beautiful! Image from here.
But I searched and searched and had the hardest time tracking down a large enough ornate mirror. See, to both cover up that plywood (temporarily, of course) and look somewhat natural on the wall, I needed a piece that is roughly 44″ tall and 40″ wide (big and tough to find).
Still on the hunt for an ornate mirror, but I suppose option two would be to hang a regular square chalkboard that might look something like this:
I could build my own or find a large frame and then turn it into a chalkboard.
Image sources for all of these ideas can be found over on my kitchen Pinterest board (Pinterest is where I was lucky enough to track most of them down!)
If I build my own frame… perhaps a chunky reclaimed wood look?
Love the look of wood and chalkboard… though gold is high up there as well!
And I’d have to make it magnetic, just like Christina did:
Part of me is secretly wondering though if a command station so front and center as you walk into the kitchen is the right idea? Do I want lists and ticket stubs and reminders so evidently visible? Could I keep this space visually clean?
That wall above is just to the left of the island below. I’m standing in front of it while snapping this picture:
If I could and was willing to make that promise to myself, why not a cool fabric pinboard?
Picture this coral in a square frame and Liv’s art hung up in a semi-organized fashion:
Or perhaps I nix the command station idea and hang just a stunning piece of framed fabric (from a vintage scarf, tablecloth, remnant piece…):
Maybe a framed picture? Painting? Map? What would not look out of place in a kitchen/dining space? See how difficult I’ve let this one become?
PS You can find all of the kitchen renovation stories here.
Tags: Accessories, Breakfast Nook, Crafty Solutions, Decorating, DIY, Fabric, Home, Kitchen, Yellow
Posted in Crafty Solutions, DIY, Home, Our Kitchen Remodel, Renovating Adventures | 8 Comments »
Great news! The deck is stained and sealed and it’s looking awesome.
The entire staining and sealing project from prep to dry time took about five days, with just a few hours of that dedicated to full on painting.
Here’s the before:
The deck is a decent amount of square footage so for this particular project we pulled out our Graco Magnum paint sprayer (the kind folks over at Graco teamed up with Lowe’s to sponsor our curb appeal efforts this year, a huge honor so thank you again, Graco!). This is one excellent example that paint sprayers, once you have an area thoroughly prepped, can make a painting project fly by.
As far as a stain and sealant is concerned, we chose a two-in-one penetrating oil sealer that prevents wood damage and adds a slight natural color to the grain. We will have to reapply annually, but the process is supposedly easier than other coatings because there is no sanding involved. And an oil-based sealant means that this stuff is absorbed into the deck wood rather than just a layer on top.
Other benefits of this particular stain include: eliminates mold and mildew, helps prevent wood rot, helps to prevent warping, cracking or splitting, low VOC and is excellent at repelling water. Click on the above picture to learn more about the stain/sealer, we chose ‘Natural’ of the options listed.
Up first was thoroughly taping and papering off any areas that we wanted to make sure were absolutely not in the ‘spray zone’. Kev and I woke up bright and early one Saturday morning to completely secure the side yard while Liv was sleeping .
Next it was time to stain. I should first mention, backing up two days, that we power washed the deck and then allowed the deck to naturally weather and dry out before this particular Saturday (aka the day of the sealing). This is a step that is easily neglected and if skipped, can turn into an issue when it comes time to apply the actual sealant to the wood (aka make sure that moisture content isn’t too high – the wood is like a sponge and needs time to completely dry out before it will soak up the sealant appropriately). Check with the manufacturer of the stain/sealant that you choose and follow all the guidelines for surface preparation and application.
Then Kevin came back through and used compressed air to blast the last little bits of residue from the cracks and crevices of the deck. You can see that he found a new (and better) use for my just-purchased vegetable scrubber… (don’t worry, he literally stole it out of the grocery bag, it’s brand new).
Now it’s time to paint! Keeping the contents of the paint sprayer and various buckets (the front paint bucket contains the stain, which is being sucked up into the sprayer, the back bucket is the mucky bucket, full of all output and solvent from the sprayer) in one large container – an extra under-the-bed storage bin did the trick for us – is a really easy tip for moving your entire set up around the deck as you go while also keeping items orderly with fewer potential accidents (hose knocking over a bucket of paint, etc).
Deck in progress! The deck itself was a quick spray once all equipment was ready to go.
The paint sprayer has a two foot wand attachment that can be purchased to help focus your spray directly onto the targeted area (and not leave you with a hunchback). Kevin being the super tall man that he is especially enjoyed this feature.
Once the sprayer had coated a generous amount of sealant directly onto the deck, Kevin used a squeegee/sponge (there has to be a proper name for this, but we couldn’t find one) to push the liquid into each and every crevice and deck crack (don’t want to leave those cracks exposed ). The pattern went something like: spray, spray, spray, squeegee, squeegee, squeegee, repeat.
Using a paint brush, Kevin applied a coat of sealer directly to the sides and stairs of the deck. Possibly the most time consuming portion of the morning.
And she’s done! After drying for 48 hours (per instructions for the oil-based sealant), the deck is a pretty golden hue now. The entire project took Kevin a few hours (including prep) and another hour or so for clean up, pretty darn great for such a large space.
Here’s the man behind the machine, finished and ready to enjoy his Saturday.
And after a recent overnight sprinkle, the sealant is already proving to be worth its weight in deck gold.
The warm, natural color that we chose will continue to lighten with time to reveal the beautiful, natural redwood color variations and grain beneath.
A near-finished deck to bring us into fall.
And before I forget… a big thank you to iVillage for featuring Liv’s felt Christmas tree in their Christmas Tree slideshow, honored to be included amongst those creative bloggers who were also showcased!
We are incredibly excited to have partnered with Lowe’s and Graco for various parts of this project. All opinions are always our own and as usual we try to keep it as real as can be.
Tags: DIY, Home, Paint
Posted in Construction, Home, Our Yard, Project Lowe's, Renovating Adventures | 6 Comments »