Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Interior Decorations (Fireplace Mirror, Mantle and Staircase)

Decorating our Fireplace Mirror and Mantle

I love leafing through the decorating magazines and mentally get a picture of what I can do with my own home.  Several years ago, probably 14 or so, I saw this very lavish entry hall picture in a magazine that had magnificent decorations around the mirror and also on the entry table below the mirror.  I had obtained a large & lovely mirror when my home in Joplin had been used on the Historic Homes Tour.  So I purchased the mirror at cost since that is the way you can acquire beautiful items if you allow your home to be utilized for the tour...and all at cost.

So I took that idea from the magazine and for many years I've been decorating the mirror with Christmas decor and I've also added lights to the garland. Over the years I've updated the decor on the old garland with new, bright and shiny flowers and fruit but the white balls (string of lights have lasted through the years.  So here is the finished project, one taken at night with the lights on the garland and the other in the daytime without the lights.

Night time with garland lights plugged in

Daylight with garland lights unplugged

The iridescent and see through bows were made from a spool of ribbon I bought back in 1988 and each year I fluff them up and use them over and over.

Staircase Garland, Bows and Lights

When we moved to Tulsa in 2002 I was thrilled to have an open staircase once again and so totally remembered the beautifully decorated staircases from the home decorating magazines.  This picture is not the best angle, as my husband brings in from the outdoors in the winter, the 15' Ponytail Palm which stands in the open ceiling area at the base of the stairs.  So that blocks taking a picture of the entire staircase.  He loves his plants and I love him so the palm tree stays.

Stairway with lighted garland

I simply wrap inexpensive green garland with gold garland and I was fortunate to find the white ball lights again in a bigger size than I used on the fireplace mirror. I use the wire inside the green garland and wrap around the electrical cord to hold the lights in place. I made the large red bows from a large roll or ribbon purchased, of course, after Christmas on the 1/2 off specials. 
 I have large plastic totes where I keep one marked fireplace/mirror & mantle and another tote marked staircase decor.  
 I love the festive look of the staircase and fireplace/mirror decor.  I just put on the beautiful Christmas DVDs, light the fireplace, plug in the lights and my world becomes peaceful and golden in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of this time of year.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Personalized Ornaments or Gift Tags

on the tree, next to my sister's ornament
Every year as we put our tree up it is fun to see the ornaments we have collected throughout the years. This year as I unpacked the ornaments, I surprised to find those that my sister Misha had made me. They were simple, but thoughtful, and I had not really given them much thought in the past. Except now she is gone, and they are a beautiful memory of her. To know that she took time to make something by hand for my family and ship it off to us is very special.  It was bittersweet. I can just see her, sitting in her living room with the supplies gathered around; curling ribbons and writing with paint markers in her pretty handwriting. Growing up we did a lot of homemade ornaments and she was carrying on that tradition.

So after reading a post at Rosemary and Thyme today, I realized I had everything I needed to make a few special ornaments for my friends and family! Hopefully they will think of us each year as they decorate their trees! This is a very simple project, I used our Clay Polymer that is pliable until baked for 15 minutes and rolled it out with a jar. After some thought and searching through all our cookie cutters, we decided to use a small jar lid to cut the circles and a straw to cut the twine hole. We had to do a custom shape for those with much longer names :) I recently bought a kit to imprint letters onto cookies and we used it to print each family's name. On the back I used a toothpick to hand draw a heart with the year '14.

finished product
the "fancy" version
a little personal touch on the back

the tools, before baking
Clay Polymer
Twine or ribbon
Roller - I used a small jar
Cookie Cutter/lid/sharp knife - to cut shapes
Straw - the perfect size to cut out the twine hole
Glitter and glue (optional)

Follow the directions for your clay on baking time and let them cool before tying on some pretty twine or ribbon. I decided to dress up a few, that I won't be sending via mail, with glitter around the edges.

I think they turned out so sweet, yet simple enough to go with any decorations. I will use them to wrap up a few gifts too. It was a good project to involve my boys too, and they made one for each of their teachers to include with a gift card.

Everything you need for your project:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dining Room Hutch Redo with Custom Red Chalk Paint

Isn't it amazing how in decorating we get one idea about one item we want to change that leads to something else and then....before we know it, we've changed everything.  Take for instance, this old pine table I saw across the street from a restaurant while having lunch with friends.  It was sitting on the sidewalk with several other vintage tables at this antique shop and of course I could not leave without dragging my friends across the street to get a closer look.  Long story short, I took Mike back, he loved it and we bought it after deciding to get rid of my lovely Asian style dinning room set with sideboard. But this meant that I had to have something to replace the sideboard which held all my good dishes and silver serving pieces.  We also picked up 4 kinda matching Windsor chairs for the pine table.
 In the meantime, we were emptying Mike's Mom's home in Carthage Missouri of the family furniture after she passed.  There was this old 1950s hutch that caught my eye and after deciding that yes, it could hold with modification all 4 sets of my plates, cups, bowls, and silverware.  I knew I had to put color to the old hutch though.  So this blog is about that undertaking, turning the old rough looking hutch into something that would give my dining room a kick in the pants!!

Hutch being unloaded of its wares prior to shipping to Tulsa

I'd never undertaken such a major project and without my own shop or place to work, it was necessary to take the deck and the kitchen dining area for different parts of the project.

First, like in all my furniture painting projects, I had to sand the top to always expose the beauty of the wood prior to painting the remainder of the hutch.  That's just something I always do with every piece I paint. Guess you would say it is my signature.  Amber typically does the same thing with her furniture painting as well.  The top would then later get 4 coats of satin MinWax varnish between all sandings.  Again, I used my handy orbital sander to get a great finish.  However, once the old varnish was off using the orbital sander, the other 3 sandings required a fine grit sandpaper which I did by hand, not using the sander....just gives a finer finish.

And the work has begun

All hinges and drawers and doors had to be removed and sanded separately.  I used low odor mineral spirits to clean off all of the old residue from the sanding process and then wiped it all clean with soft rags that wouldn't leave lint.  Below I've taken the project to the kitchen dining area where I used lots of drop cloths and when painting I put the legs up on short blocks of 2 X 4s.

Making your own Chalk Paint

There are a few already made Chalk Paints on the market; most all are quite expensive.  I make my own with the following recipe.  Mix 1/3 cup of Plaster of Paris and 1/3 Cup of cool water; stir until completely smooth.  Mix that with 1 cup of really good latex paint (Lowe's Valspar works great) and stir thoroughly.  This will make enough chalk-finish paint for one coat on a six-drawer dresser. I needed to use two coats of the red paint to get the depth of color I wanted. Chalk-finish paint should not be stored and reused.  If you have a smaller project, mix smaller amounts of plaster, paint, and water in the same proportions. 
I did not create a video for you to watch the process but there are many online that will tell you about the painting, the distressing of the wood to give it a worn look and finally the waxing of the entire project. They do not all use the same process however.  For the finish, you can either use a chalk paint wax or a wipe-on or brush-on poly for the finish. I used a chalk paint wax and a brush and then buffed off the wax by hand with a soft cloth (lint-free). This process gives a nice patina to the color of the finish paint.

Getting There....

This was not easy...getting in to all of the shelves and backboard

Sanding and painting shelves on top of the hutch probably took the most time and was one of the most difficult of the entire process.

Ready to Wax the Chalk Paint

The knobs to the red China cabinet I had purchased in 1993 (see picture below) were wooden. I replaced the wooden knobs with a beautiful find from Anthropology.  But they no longer carry the same beautiful red knobs. However a trip to Hobby Lobby here in Tulsa to sort through their dozens upon dozens of beautiful choices for drawer pulls, produced an almost identical pull.  YES!!!

The two drawers had no dividers so Mike and I made dividers to hold the silver ware and serving pieces.

One drawer completed

I enjoyed the distressing part and if you've not done this, just take torn pieces of a medium grit sand paper and hit the places where wear and tear might happen. That would be around edges, stand out decor and really...any other place that strikes your fancy to add to the charm of the piece.  You wax the furniture piece after you distress it so you still need to wipe down any paint you've loosened.

One door completed

The top two shelves of the upper part of the hutch had groves for the plates to be displayed, but the top of the lower part of the hutch itself had no grooves to place a third row of plates.  I found a long strip of natural grain molding that matched the maple top of the lower part of the hutch and glued it in place ... just enough so that I could stand up another row of plates.  That way, my entire set of my best serving pieces were on display.  More than one way to "skin a cat..." as my sweet Mother used to say!
Hutch in place prior to bottom plates were on display so that you can see both the newly completed red hutch along with red China cabinet I've had since about 1993.

And there you go!  Really glad to finish this project

I am so glad that I chose this project.  It was fun, tested my patience and I learned so much.  I've got a really great old chair that will sit at the end of the pine table.  It is going to get a coat of matching red chalk paint soon.  But that is another day.  When that is done, there will be a post for the pine table, the Windsor chairs and the funky cushions that puts the icing on the cake.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas Decorations for Outside on a Budget

Beautiful Christmas Home Decor for Outside

For several years I've been putting time into decorating the outside of my home with garland, bows, Christmas balls.  You can do this and you do not need to spend an arm and a leg buying already "fancied-up" and expensive garland.  I buy the inexpensive garland, wrap it with lights, tie on a couple sizes of Christmas balls (red) and join it at the top with a pretty 36" decorative swag. The swag below was already decorated with glittery balls and artificial fruit and gold twigs.  I joined the two sides of the garland and the top swag with the two strings of LED lights (any lights will do but less chance of burn out when using LED lights).  Note that I made a big burgundy bow, fastened it high about the door with a couple of green velvet and gold streamers for a more elegant effect.
When I first put this together about 10 years ago, I found really large white cup hooks and they stay mounted up either side of the door (4 on each side) year round. I put three above the door frame, another up high for the burgundy bow and four down either side of the door frame. The hooks keep everything from blowing in the wind and the garland close to the door frame. I hide the bottom of the string of lights under the porch door mat and the outside plug is close to the door. I do not bother to unplug it during the day time.  And by the way, the wreath was really really inexpensive, but elegant.

Close Up for Top of Door

Entire Door Decoration

Garage Light Wreath

The Garage Light Wreaths are quite inexpensive and I just wrap them with left over gold garland and found inexpensive bows at a close-out sale.  I just slide them up over the bottom of the light and push hard for them to fit over and behind the top back of the light.  They are simple but really add much color and festiveness.

Garden Gate

For a couple of years now I've been putting a bouquet on my Garden Gate with very little thought.  Because we have done extensive work in our back yard this summer, I wanted to enhance the outside approach to the backyard by fancying up the Garden Gate.  I had a gallon of miss-mixed paint I picked up at Home Depot for $5 that I've used for several projects and figured it would be 
appropriate for the garden gate.  The hardware on the gate are all estate sale and flea market finds that I had been collecting.  This summer I put a mixed bouquet of artificial summer flowers in a basket
to hang on hooks attached to the gate.  I've just taken down the basket of artificial fall flowers and
hung the Christmas wreath, a little bigger than the garage light wreaths, but used the same bow.
I've had the wreaths for many projects over the years, but now I am sure they will have a permanent
Holiday Home!

So for your own've got time to do this and above all you can keep your expenses really low. You've probably got all you need right now in your attic or stored in the garage in forgotten boxes. Your guests will arrive with a feeling of being warmly welcomed and your neighbors will
appreciate the beautiful addition to the neighborhood.