Monday, March 30, 2015

The Makings of a Sweet Pea Baby Shower!

Happy Monday, everyone! Phew - how was your weekend? Ours' was consumed with the little man's 4th birthday party (and recovering from it!). I have a few projects I want to get through before I show you pics of his Planes-themed party - but it was a great day, and he was oh-so-happy, making all the late night crafting I did (while sick!) in the days leading up to it totally worth it!

One thing I learned in my reader survey from last year is that some of you don't like it when I drag projects out over multiple posts. I get that, I really do! But sometimes I just have too much I want to share to jam into a single post. And while I pinky-swear promise I will not drag this Sweet Pea shower out too long, I did have a few more things I wanted to chat about in regards to how exactly (and simply!) I (with the help of a friend!) pulled off this little party!

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Last week, I revealed to you this Sweet Pea Baby Shower - you can see the full reveal here! I kept saying over and over again how simple this little shower was to pull together. It occurred to me that I am often saying things are "super simple"...and some of you out there might be saying "yea - simple for you, Megan!" Today, I really wanted to show you how I took off-the-shelf products and added just a few simple DIY touches to create a really unique and special party!

Once my girlfriend suggested the Sweet Pea concept, we were immediately off and running with both a color palette and a theme. As I mentioned last week, the foundation to the entire party setup was achieved with really cute party supplies. My friends over at Party Pail graciously offered all the plates, cups, napkins, tablecloths, balloons and candies featured at the party! I took care to select the right mix of patterns and solids to give the party a whimsical feel without feeling too busy...

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With those elements selected, I wanted to create just a few decorations that would drive home the pea theme and give the whole party a unique/homemade feel. I knew we'd have three candy displays that would need something in them. I then also found some cute pea graphics I wanted to incorporate in various ways. Using the Cricut Design Space software, I sat down and (in one sitting) designed everything we'd need. I find that by designing everything all in one step keeps me from running back and forth between the computer and my machine and having to re-load same colored papers over and over again to make more and more items. I ultimately landed on the large Sweet Pea sign, two small pea signs, two large pea pods and a bunch of smiley faces that would be cut from vinyl and applied to anything and everything! With the files designed, everything was cut and assembled within an hour!

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Assembling the candy arrangements was so simple and really took no time at all once I had all my supplies gathered! (Over the years, I've stocked up on a variety of glass dishes and display canisters, making it a snap to create centerpieces without spending a lot of cash! I use these, and others, over and over again in a variety of ways in all of my party throwing. If you host a lot of parties, these are a worthy investment!)

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While these green gum balls were adorable and a great price, I didn't want to load up on bags and bags of candy just for cute displays, so I did what I always do for displays like this: put another glass bowl (upside-down) into the bigger bowl and then pack the gum balls all around it. From the front, no one is the wiser...and my single bag of gum balls was just the right amount to "fill" my display!

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I used the same strategy for the small canisters of peas! A cup upside-down (and even packed with a bit of tissue paper in the back), ensured that a single bag of candy filled up both display jars. 

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I used the green-striped straws to support all the signs. Why not add cute little doses of pattern and color where you can?!? For the small signs, I poked holes in the paper cups, slid the straws in, then hot glued the signs to the straws. Extra chocolates covered the tops of the cups!

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Besides the three little signs, I cut some pea pods from cardstock for the corners of the tables; and then made a long garland with super-sized links. I cut every shade of green cardstock I had into 3x12" strips and then linked them together with a stapler one night while watching The Voice. By using a variety of green cardstock, everything at the party from candies to the cupcakes to the table linens instantly coordinated. Everything was hung at the party using clear packing tape! #beststuffever

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The morning of the party, we blew up all the balloons and went around putting the vinyl faces on everything. I didn't worry about transfer tape or lining anything up...just peel and stick, friends!

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And that was really it! See? Simple!!! A single night of crafting yielded some adorable projects that came together in a flash. A few smartly planned and coordinated details like these go a long way in making basic party products look like a fully custom party!

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Thanks for indulging me in chatting a bit more about this shower. I do want to show you the neat way I made the invites, but that will wait until next week! On Wednesday, I have another quick craft tip to show you that will really help out those of you with die cut machines!!! See you then!

Megan

I did not receive compensation for this blog post; however Party Pail did provide the party supplies for me to use and review. Please remember that I only work with brands and products I fully support and that make sense for my home, my family, and this blog. All opinions are 100% my own!

Friday, March 27, 2015

THIHM Around the Web #5

We're heading into the last weekend of March! How is that possible? I swear it was just Valentine's Day! As the month draws to a close, I like to take a quick breath and point you to my posts and projects featured elsewhere on the www! This month was quite the festive one for me with all sorts of green, Easter, and Spring-themed posts.  

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(I realize by recapping here at the end of the month, some of these ideas are a bit "too late" to use this year...I do push out all my posts and links as they go live on all my social media outlets, so be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to see these projects in real time!)

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Over on the ForRent.com blog, I showed off a fun and creative way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with an "Eat Your Greens" Day Party. This is something we used to do when I worked in Health Promotions to raise awareness for getting more greens into your diet. It was fun to pull this together and use some of my old knowledge and ideas! I also shared some great snack ideas for any upcoming Spring Break road trips and vacations. I think you'll love my clever packing solutions!

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On the My Daily Bubble blog, I have a simple tutorial for making these adorable peek-a-boo pots of gold. These were so fun to put together, and the kids on the street loved finding them outside their doors from a "secret leprehaun!" Bookmark this one for next year!

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Over on The Good Stuff, Coupons.com's blog,  we wrapped up the Home Hacks series by showing you a variety of strategies for de-cluttering and then all sorts of ideas for getting rid of all that un-watned stuff. Then I turned my attention to all things Spring and crafty, with lots of good Washi tape and Easter projects! 
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Just a friendly reminder that these posts will never appear here on THIHM, so be sure to follow the links and pin/like/share from there. Thanks for supporting my work here and around the web!

Between a last-minute trip for a family emergency, throwing a surprise baby shower, fighting a nasty cold bug, and prepping for my son's birthday party this weekend...this week has been...NUTS. I'm so thankful Spring Break is just around the corner, because this gal needs some rest! I'll be checking in next week with a few fun projects before taking a few days off...so see you back here Monday!

Have a great weekend!
Megan


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sweet Pea Baby Shower

Behind the scenes here at THIHM, I have been in full-on party planning mode lately. Not only is my little guy turning four next week (and his big party is this weekend!), but I also had the chance to co-throw a super sweet surprise baby shower for a lovely friend and neighbor. I don't think you can go wrong with any baby shower theme, but for this we-don't-know-the-gender-baby, the pea theme was an absolute perfect fit!

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A few weeks ago, we sent out these suuuuuuuper adorable invites (if I do say so myself ;) to the Mom's friends. I honestly think they are the cutest invites I've ever designed! Next week, I'll show you just how I made them!

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All hush hush, my friend did all the baking and food prep while I pulled together the decorations. With the help of Party Pail, a new-to-me party supply website, this party came together effortlessly by combining some adorable off-the-shelf supplies with a few clever DIYs!
  
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I mean, could there be a cuter theme than peas? The green felt so bright and fresh for a baby shower, and it was just so fun to play up the round little vegetable with polka-dots and smiley faces!

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The stars of the entire tables cape were these three simple candy displays. As soon as I saw these green gumballs and chocolates on the Party Pail website, I knew I wanted to create a fun and thematic display. Candy buffets and displays always seem so expensive and complicated to me. Thanks to Party Pail's reasonable prices and color-coded shopping (as well as a few clever tricks I'll show you next week), these displays were a budget-friendly party show stopper! Simple signs out of cardstock bring the whole display to life...

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If you need a quick yet adorably coordinated party in a flash, I can't recommend buying patterned plates, napkins and other accessories enough. (I used this line!) If you look back through my parties, I almost always use fun plates and napkins. They not only help establish the color theme of the party, but add a whimsical flair, always necessary for any party atmosphere! I often try to combine patterns and add in some solids where I can for maximum visual impact! 

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To help all the bright lime green feel more like a baby shower, I cut out a bunch of cute little smiley faces from pink and black vinyl and put them wherever I could! The green lollipops were instantly changed into sweet baby face pops!

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Here, one little face helps the whole balloon arrangement look like sweet peas!

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And the biggest hit of the party? These balloon babies. I can't take credit for these (thank you, Pinterest). but I honestly think they were the cutest (and easiest!) thing I made for the entire party! Tissue paper, three balloons, ribbon and a smiley face. Done and adorable.

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Hmmm...now that I think about it, the other huge hit of the party were these amazing gourmet cupcakes my co-host had made. Not only were they soooo on-theme, but tasted heavenly!

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To eat, we served my go-to brunch meal: egg and sausage casserole (I always make this one), fruit salad, blueberry muffins, and a dessert. It's light enough for brunch while still being satisfying, and everything can be prepped ahead of time. 

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I honestly was just looking for a fun way to use these adorable chevron cups when I thought about the fruit salad, but I have to say, I LOVED not having my grapes roll all over my plate and fruit juices run into my casserole. Pretty sure I'm going to always be offering cups or bowls at my parties from now on! #partyscore

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Every little baby, no matter what number he or she may be, needs some sweet little gifts. A simple coordinating table cloth and another balloon baby help tie together other areas of the party space!

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One of the things I love most about throwing parties, is that with just a few small details, a bash can go from boring to blockbuster! One simple shop of party supplies and a few quick DIY projects, and we had the makings of a super sweet shower the Mama will always remember.

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While I was not compensated for this post, Party Pail did provide the party supplies for this party. Friends, I like to be perfectly honest when I'm sharing new products and sites with you, and today will be no different! I was so blown away by the prices, product availability, customer service, and product quality provided by Party Pail. My favorite aspect was that I was able to search the site by color/pattern. This made selecting products that coordinated and were on theme such a breeze. Admittedly, the site does not have a wide variety of themed supplies (cartoon characters, etc), but I always like to buy basic party supplies and add my theme through other accessories and accents, so this source is a really great fit for me. And the candy buffet candies available by color? LOVE! No more having to buy bags and bags of M&Ms to pick out the right colors for my theme! 

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It's been a while since I've thrown (and shown!) a little party. I really do love pulling basic supplies together to create a really special and festive atmosphere for celebrating. I hope you enjoyed this little mid-week inspiration! 

The parties are going to continue around here - next week, I want to show you how I pulled a few of these decorations together (I think you'll love how easy they are!), and then I also have Henry's big 4th birthday party to show you soon after that. Fingers crossed it all goes off without a hitch!

See you back here Friday!
Megan

I did not receive compensation for this blog post; however Party Pail did provide the party supplies for me to use and review. Please remember that I only work with brands and products I fully support and that make sense for my home, my family, and this blog. All opinions are 100% my own!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Upholstery - What I Learned From Hiring It Out

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have caught a peek at some “new” chairs that have made their way into our home...two chairs that are now so stunning and so “ME!” I am over-the-moon in love with these chairs, but I have DIY blogger confession: I didn’t do them myself. After years of them sitting in our garage, waiting for me to summon the courage to give them a makeover myself, I ultimately hired the job out. Today, I want to not only show off our amazing chairs, but also chat a bit about why I hired this job out, and what I learned in doing so!

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So…shame on me…I don’t have really good before photos. No kidding, these chairs sat in my garage for over 2 years, and I never got good pictures. I had to dig through all my photos even to find just a few photos to show you how bad they were when I bought them! Here’s one from a few Christmases ago…I think we were testing the size of the chair in the space and then left it there for a few weeks before it eventually got put back in the garage…

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And here’s another of them way back in the depths of our disaster-of-a-garage last summer when I was cleaning it out.

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I bought these chairs at the Raleigh Flea Market in the Spring of 2013. As soon as I saw them, I knew I was buying them. I loved their barrel-back shape and curvy legs…and what really sold me were the openings across the backs. These chairs were the perfect candidates for a multi-fabric treatment, and I was swooning big-time. The frames were solid wood, they were super comfy, and the foam and springs were in good shape. They did stink REEEEAAALLLY bad though, and the dark purple/blue fabric wasn’t doing the gorgeous frames any favors. The guy had 6-8 of them, but I only wanted two. I was really nervous about bargaining, but I went for it. I can’t remember for sure, but I am pretty sure I paid $25/chair.

I was so excited to buy these as my first upholstery project (although another lady, also buying some at the same time, thought I was nuts because she saw them as a tricky and tedious job – and I got the sense she knew what she was talking about.) This was back when I was all “paint everything white,” and of course, was planning on painting the frames white and upholstering them in bright fabric. Again, the lady next to me pointed out their gorgeous and relatively clean frames and thought I was crazy to paint them. (And right there, a seed was planted.) Still, when the vendor told me to grab any two I wanted, I didn’t take note of the frame colors (because I was going to paint them white)…a “mistake” that is still “haunting” us today….I’ll explain in a bit.

As the months passed and they sat in the back of our garage, I looked at them over and over. First, they were going to be my summer project, then my deployment project, then my winter vacation project. These were going to be my “teach myself to upholster“ chairs…but the more I looked at them, the more I realized I reeeeeaaalllly didn’t have the skills for the job. After months (years!) of hemming and hawing over these, I finally took the plunge and hired this job out. I ultimately paid to get them upholstered, and this is why:
  • I wanted them done. Like yesterday…and I have too much on my plate. I’m juggling a lot right now and the idea of getting into a big, involved, figure-it-out-as-I-go project just wasn’t in the cards. There are times when I am game for that, right now isn’t one of them. These chairs have been sitting in the back of our garage for too long, and I wanted them done for our next house. 
  • I wanted them to be perfect. There are pieces of furniture in our house that I am willing to experiment on. If my plan doesn’t work out or the final result isn’t great, no big deal. But these chairs? I wanted them to look amazing. I didn’t want to spend a bunch of time, money and effort for them to just look okay. 
  • I wanted the upholstery job to match the pricey fabric. So let’s chat fabric selections for a minute. I am all about finding and using inexpensive fabrics whenever and wherever I can. But I also know how super frustrating it is to make something on the cheap for it not to hold up. I wanted to upholster these chairs in super durable and kid-friendly fabric. Fabric that I would love but wouldn’t cause me to freak out the second Henry went near it. I knew Sunbrella fabric was my best bet (and their patterns are to die for), but it’s so pricey. I didn’t want to spend a fortune on fabric for the upholstery job to look amateur. Honestly, once I decided to buy good fabric, I knew I wasn’t doing this job myself.
  • I had a guy. A good friend had just gotten some pieces re-done and she was raving about the quality, the timeline, and the prices. Suddenly, I didn’t have to research or find a place to get them done. She had a guy, and she was willing to drop the chairs off for me (it’s about 90 minutes from our house). Before I even knew it, we were loading them into her car for her to take them in. Done.
So before I get into the specifics of how the chairs turned out and what I learned along the way, let’s chat a bit more about our fabric selections. Like I said, I really wanted to use Sunbrella fabric. I had bought a yard of it a few summers ago for the throw pillows on our porch, and I have been so impressed by it. Not only is it spill- and sun-resistant, but it looks and feels like normal fabric (not plastic-y) like outdoor fabric, and the colors and patterns are crazy good. When I literally stumbled upon the large-scale navy and white floral motif (below, #1), I knew it was the one. I must have looked at that fabric 20 times over the course of a few months before finally ordering it.

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A few things to think about before taking the plunge on expensive fabric
  • Order samples when you can. I looked at that #1 fabric so many times online but not once did I realize it had teeny-tiny yellow squares in it until 8 yards of it arrived. It wasn’t a huge deal because yellow still works in our house AND it’s not even noticeable, but it was something I wished I knew before buying it.
  • Look for coordinating patterns within a line of fabric. I knew I wanted a contrasting fabric for the open backs of the chairs. Obviously, matching colors online is super tricky, so I opted to shop coordinating Sunbrella fabrics for the back and welting fabrics. Once I saw that navy stripe, it was a done deal.
  • Wait for a yardage quote. I had absolutely no idea how much fabric to buy and I didn't want the job to get put on hold to wait for more fabric. As such, I dropped the chairs off first, the upholstery guy quoted me yardage for fabric, and then I purchased it. I also factored in an extra yard for each so I can make some extra pillows, curtain trims, and other small accents using this same fabrics without having to hunt down and find more.
  • Wait for sales. The Luxe fabric is regularly priced at $80/yard. Ouch. I know that fabric stores tend to put home décor fabric on sale during holiday weekends when there is also typically a 20% off entire purchase coupons. Over Presidents’ Day Weekend, the fabric was marked down to $39.99/yard at Joann Fabrics, plus I had a coupon. I had all the fabrics loaded in my cart ready to purchase them, when I remembered to…
  • Check Ebay!!! My biggest fabric tip is to check Ebay. I found all three of my fabrics for significantly less than what I could get on sale from Joann's. I paid $17/yard for both the stripe and solid and the floral for $30/yard on Ebay…all with free shipping, saving me close to $200. (Side Note – I originally purchased the floral fabric for $18/yard as well. I was mid-happy dance when I got an email from the seller that it was sold out at that price. Bummer! If you’re not in a hurry, watch Ebay and wait for just the right price to pop up – you can save a ton of money!)
Phew – SO much babbling. But after all that, are you ready to see how fantastic these chairs turned out? Have a look-see!

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Oh.my.friends. They surpassed every single expectation.

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The wood was cleaned up so beautifully. The bright fabrics against the dark frames look stunning and really accentuate their curves. The frames are even more beautiful than I realized. The solid welting was such a great (and last-minute!) decision…

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And can we just pause and look at these stunning backs…the whole reason I bought these chairs in the first place…swoooooon.

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At the last-minute, I almost chickened out with the stripes on the back. The upholsterer wasn’t sure how “straight” the stripes would look with the rounded backs of the chairs…but I gave the go ahead to proceed…and worried endlessly about it until I went to pick them up. I'm so glad I went for it - the striped back makes the entire chair for me!


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So…let’s chat about the stain colors. Recall that I paid no attention to the colors of the frames when I selected the chairs at the flea market because I was going to paint them. I ultimately determined that the lady at the market knew what she was talking about, and I decided to leave the frames stained and selected light fabrics. Once it was time to clean them up, I ultimately opted not to have the frames stripped and re-stained (due to cost). Are the frames different colors? Yes. It is super obvious? No; at least, I don’t think so. Does it bother me? Yes and No. Part of me doesn’t really notice or care because they will never be right next to each other. The other part of me wishes they did match because they turned out so incredibly stunning that it’s kind of annoying that they don’t match. Oh well. Lesson learned.

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So, our beautiful, stunning chairs are now home. Unfortunately, they don’t really have a permanent spot because…um….we don’t really have room for them, AND there is SO much going on in this space…that these chairs are a bit TOO much in here. (That cornice and those chairs together are no good in so many ways).

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So one chair has been put next to the television…for the next two months. It’s not a great place for her because you can’t see her lovely back. The other chair is floating around and getting put in random spots. They don’t work in here right now, but they are too pretty to stick in the garage. You better bet they will be the star of our next family room….

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So…now that I’ve bought the chairs and the fabric and paid to get them re-upholstered, here’s a rundown of a few things I learned on this journey:
  • Paying to get them done was worth every.single.penny. My husband and I have uttered that at least 20 times (each!) since we brought them home. I would have never been able to get such a professional-looking final result. The upholstery job is impeccable, and they are now some of the nicest things we own. We paid the money, and the result matches it. Instead of being a DIY we’ll cast off in the next garage sale, these will be in our house for a very, very long time.
  • Trust your gut. Sarah Richardson is my very favorite interior designer, and one of the things I love the most is how she mixes and matches fabrics on her custom upholstery. I bought these chairs ready to channel my inner Sarah, but started to worry that I was using too many fabrics. I came so close to using just the floral. In the end, the combination of fabrics on these chairs is what I love the most, and was the whole reason I bought them in the first place. I am so glad I trusted my gut and hunted down fabrics that looked fabulous next to each other.
  • Fix the problems. Our upholster never asked us about the difference in stain colors between the two chairs, and I never brought it up. Who knows how much more it would have costs to remedy it. I assumed it would have been a lot more, but I’ll never know. If differences in stain or other details are going to bother you in the long run, get it fixed while you’re having everything else done. The idea of now un-doing this gorgeous upholstery to fix the stains is unthinkable, so we’re living with it.
  • Address the smell. We assumed that by replacing the fabric on the chairs that the terrible smell would be gone. Although we didn’t specify for the foam to be replaced, we think he did and we’re happy to report that the cushions no longer stink. However, the wood still stinks. It never occurred to us that the wood was containing the stench. Now that the chairs are home, the smell is getting better, but there is still a hint of must. We haven’t tried to treat the frames with anything yet – if you’ve experienced this and have any suggestions, let me know what worked for you! I do wish we had mentioned the smell to the upholsters because they might have been able to treat the frames before re-doing the fabric. 
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All in all, I’m so pleased with our new chairs, but we definitely learned some do’s and don’ts for next time. I felt like such a grown up sending off our chairs to the upholsterer and picking out custom fabrics. We obviously made some novice mistakes, but they sure did turn out nice! I think the thing I love most about these chairs is that they are so ME. I often struggle to find “my look” and “my style.” I see such a variety of rooms and spaces I love, especially around the blog-o-sphere, and I find myself swaying with what I like and what I buy. When I look through my pin boards and search for images that make me swoon the most, it’s the preppy yet playful spaces full of smart patterns, contrasting colors and interesting details. These chairs are all those thing to me, and I am excited to use these as the jumping off point moving into our next space!

You might be wondering about price. Including the chairs, the upholstery and the fabric, each chair ended up right around $400. Certainly not my usual thrifty DIY project, but, as I said, these evolved into investment pieces that will be in our home for a long time.

Have you ever had anything re-upholstered? Have you experienced any of my newbie mistakes? Anything I should know for next time?

I hope your week is off to a great start! Next up here on Wednesday, a sweet little baby shower reveal I think you all will love!

See you then!
Megan

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