Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Inspiration Versus Actual: How Did It All Play Out?

I'm feeling pretty nostalgic these days. As we pull our North Carolina home apart, it's only natural for me to reflect about our time here...all the memories made, holidays celebrated, challenges endured, and of course...projects made, photographed, and blogged! Three years ago, we moved into this house after living in our previous home for just a year. This home felt like my design oyster of a sorts, and I couldn't wait to make over room after room and put all my ideas and creativity to work. And for three full years, I have done just that. Project after project and makeover after makeover. I literally hung the last thing on the walls just a few weeks ago. 

When I realized it was just about 3 years ago to the day that I was sitting in a hotel room (waiting for this house to become available), immersed in plans, color samples, fabric swatches, and countless pins, excitedly designing out inspiration boards and project to-do lists for this home, I couldn't help but want to look back and see how it all played out. While I referred to these inspiration boards a lot in the first few months/year in this home, I haven't looked at them in a really, really long time. So today, I'm revisiting my inspiration boards from three years ago and showing you how they turned out in real life. I didn't edit a thing from these original boards, and it sure is interesting (and fun!) to see how simple color, fabric, and project selections translated into real rooms in our home!

Dining Room. The dining room is one of our favorite spaces in this house, and it also came together the easiest. For not referring to the inspiration board for a long time, it's pretty amazing how close the room result came!
Inspiration vs Actual | Dining Room
Living Room/Playroom. On the flip side, the combined living room/playroom was the room that took the longest, wrapping up just in the last few weeks. I wavered a lot from the original "plan," especially in the beginning, completely changing the color palette to red/white/blue. After things were going no where good, I returned to the cobalt+turquoise scheme, also adding in lemon and kelly green. As I look now at my starting inspiration board, I don't think I had a solid direction/mood for this space mapped out. Perhaps that's why I had the hardest time pulling it together! 
Inspiration vs Actual | Living Room

Master Bedroom. The master bedroom was the room that came together slowly, but came together easily. All of the pieces fit together just right, it was just a matter of finding the time to do them! Of all the rooms in our home, this final result matches the inspiration the closest. I think it is because the inspiration images reflected a total room feel, rather than isolated projects that I had to somehow puzzle together.
Inspiration vs Actual | Master Bedroom
Henry's Nursery. Woah! Raise your hand if you remember Henry's original nursery!?! Even though I pulled this room apart just over a year ago, it feels like ages since his room looked like this! This was a fun and whimsical room with a painted ceiling and stripes on the wall. I pulled this room together really quickly because 1) I used many items from his nursery in our previous home, 2) I had a clear theme, and 3) baby rooms are just too fun to work on! My only regret here? Painting the ceiling lime green. Little did I know everything in the room (from the toys to furniture to our faces) always looked putrid. Never again!
Inspiration vs Actual | Nursery
Henry's Big Boy Room. Around March of last year, I had enough of the green ceiling and the baby nursery feel. So when we transitioned Henry out of his crib, I also took the opportunity to give the room a fresher and more grown up vibe. By this time, I had a better handle on how to create a truly helpful inspiration board by focusing on the overall, cohesiveness of the different elements rather than just a visual cluster of colors and project ideas. As such, this room came together quickly and easily and was never touched up after I proclaimed the room done. This room is still one of my all-time favorites.
Inspiration vs Actual | Big Boy Room
These last two room comparisons require a bit of an explanation. Both of these spaces were re-done several times with the final result swaying significantly from the original inspiration. (Sometimes you end up abandoning plans all together when the room is just not coming together the way you wanted.) As many of you long-time readers know, neither of this spaces finished up as I have them here. I am planning on putting together one final full house tour to show you the final state of every room, so today I wanted to show you how they ended up before I decided to change directions all together!

Craft Room/Office. This room is another example of how the inspiration board didn't do me any favors in providing a feel, mood or solid direction for this space. While I did create many of the projects seen on my board, I floundered a TON in getting this room to a place where I felt productive and creative. I ultimately ended up abandoning the green completely (swapping it for gold accents instead) and concealing many of my craft supplies behind doors and drawers for a more streamlined look. 
Inspiration vs Actual | Craft Room
Outside. As many of you long-time readers know, our front porch has had the most different looks of any other space in our home. This is partly because outdoor items in the North Carolina elements (sun, sand, wind, rain) take quite a beating. And as I replaced things, my aesthetic changed considerably. I also found red a bit difficult to decorate around and slowly but surely eliminated it from everywhere around our home. Still, my original front porch was an almost-perfect reflection of my inspiration board (and I still REALLY love that color palette) fact, I might even go back this direction for our deck/patio space in our next home! Good thing I have a lot of the fabric leftover ;)
Inspiration vs Actual | Outside

All in all, this little exercise and walk down memory lane was really fun and encouraging to me. I am certainly not a designer and don't know a thing about the "right way" to design a room or put together an inspiration board. I made a lot of mistakes along the way and even abandoned some of my plans all together...but I also learned a ton about myself, what I like/don't like, and what elements help a room come together well. Many of these spaces indeed turned out similar or close to my original plans for the space; and I can now see that the rooms I really floundered in didn't have a good solid direction mapped out in the first place. 

As we head into our next home for the next year, I'm not going to be able to re-design our entire home top-to-bottom (thank goodness!). However, I'm now super excited to pull together some fresh inspiration boards to help me put things together and continue to refine my style and our home in our new spaces!

I'd love to know...Do you use inspiration boards when you make over a space? Do you find them useful or restrictive? Do you ever stop and look back at your original inspiration for a space? What do you think of how my spaces turned out?

I hope you all had a fantastic holiday weekend! If you follow me on Instagram, you know we have been soaking up some of our final days of North Carolina sun and sand. I can't believe our time here is actually coming to an end!

See you back here Friday for my monthly writing round-up!


Friday, May 22, 2015

Organize This: Printer Station

Time is quickly winding down in this house (sniff), but I wanted to sneak in one last Organize This post centered on a little nook that I made over quite some time ago but never got a chance to share! When I consolidated my craft work station and re-arranged our craft room/office at the end of last year, my blue towers needed a new home. After shuffling around (and selling off) a few items, our former printer station and blue storage towers were combined on the same floor foot print to create the ultimate Printer Station!

Organize This: Printer Station

For whatever reason, my son is (and always has been) obsessed with our printer. Having it concealed before worked great, but putting the printer up high has worked even better! I love having it completely out of the way and off our desk surface but easily accessible when we need it. Three cheers for wireless technology that truly allows you to put items exactly where you need them! Thanks to the printer, a stand-alone acrylic file holder and the storage drawers below, all of our printing supplies are in one handy place!

Organize This: Printer Station

In the three drawers right below the printer, we keep extra printer ink, cords, printable CDs, and white printer paper for quick and easy access whenever these supplies run out. I love having dedicated places for these items. When we run out, both Greg and I know exactly where to find replacements; and when we buy extras, we know exactly where to put them!

Organize This: Printer Station
Organize This: Printer Station

In the acrylic file holder right next to the printer are all the speciality papers I use for various craft projects, as well as those we use for household tasks. 

Organize This: Printer Station

I found the clear acrylic box at Staples and cut the gold "Files" label with my Cricut out of gold contact paper.

Organize This: Printer Station

Because I can't leave anything plain, I used Jen's great trick of upping the style factor of my file folders by adding washi tape across the tabs and labeling with a fine tip marker.

Organize This: Printer Station

Inside all these folders are my specialty papers: white cardstock, glossy photo paper, laminating sheets, return address labels, printable sticker paper, t-shirt transfers and more! After trying different methods for storing these types of supplies, I have to say I LOVE having them in separate, labeled file folders right next to the printer. No more mixing of the various printer-friendly sheets, and everything is ready right where I use it!

Organize This: Printer Station

And with that...we have a handy and convenient Printer Station in our home office. An out-of-the-way, centralized location for anything and everything printing-related that we need and use on a daily basis!

Organize This: Printer Station

As always, my goal with these little Organize This posts are not to show you huge organization overhauls, but rather simple little solutions that you could complete this weekend that will make a big difference in the day-to-day functioning of your home! Be sure to check out my other posts in this series below:

Organize This: Bakeware

Organize This: Recipes

Organize This: Tiny Toys

Organize This: Wrapping Paper

I hope you all have a fantastic holiday weekend! We have a really fun one with friends and family planned, so if I am not here Monday, it's because I couldn't tear myself away from the fun to write my post ;)

See you back here soon!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

12 Wallpaper Ideas for Renters!

I've had wallpaper on the brain...and in my hands, on my furniture, and on my walls...lately! I love working with wallpaper in unexpected ways, as well as figuring out creative ways to get the wallpaper look without the hassle and permanence of the real deal! For all of you who love the look of wallpaper but are unable or unwilling to paste paper to your walls, I've rounded up 12 of my favorite (and completely renter-friendly!) projects to help you get your pattern fix!

12 Wallpaper Ideas for Renters

1. Transform a Lamp Base. Use removable/repositionable wallpaper to add personality and style to otherwise boring lamp bases. This technique works best for lamps with straight and simple shapes. Since it's removable, it's easy to change out as your decor or mood changes! (Used here: (this one is from Spoonflower)

12 Wallpaper Ideas for Renters - Lamp

2. Dress Up Cardboard Boxes. Basic cardboard boxes can become gorgeous and functional home accents by simply covering them in metallic wallpaper. Pre-pasted wallpaper makes this project a breeze: just cut, wet, and wrap! This is a great project for using up samples or leftovers from a bigger project. (Used here: this one from Lowes)

12 Wallpaper Ideas for Renters - Boxes

3. Create Graphic Pop Art. When paired with wood, paint, and clear resin, large wallpaper samples or scraps can become eye-popping, one-of-a-kind works of art that come down and move when you do. This technique can be customized to suit any decor style or color scheme by swapping out the colors, papers, and shapes. (Used here: free samples from Walls Republic)
 12 Wallpaper Ideas for Renters - Art

4. Give Furniture a (Temporary) Face Lift. Need to quickly and easily change the look of a piece of furniture? Maybe you temporarily moved it to a new room, and it no longer matches; or you are really craving a new look but hubby won't let you paint it. Cover the entire piece or just sections of it (in this case, the drawers!), with removable/repositionable wallpaper to give it a temporary update. Same as the lamp project above, this works best on furniture with clean, straight and simple lines! (Used here: this wallpaper from Spoonflower)

12 Wallpaper Ideas for Renters - Drawers

5. Create a Focal Point. If your space is feeling a bit one dimensional or needs a distinct focal point, consider introducing a new look through wallpaper. Instead of on the wall, cover a main piece of furniture in durable and textured wallpaper to create a visually interesting accent for your space. Wallpaper is a fun and often easier alternative to paint or stain, allowing you to create unique, one-of-a-kind pieces for your home with ease! (Used here: this paper from Walls Republic)

12 Wallpaper Ideas for Renters - Trunk

6. Make Your Own Wall Decals. Wall decals are a great way to get the wallpaper look without investing in rolls and rolls of expensive paper. From a single roll, cut shapes from pre-pasted wallpaper (using an e-cutter is best!) and secure them to the wall in an interesting, repeating pattern with water. When it's time to go, the decals peel right off without any fancy steamers or chemicals, and leave no residue behind! (Used here: this one from Lowes)

12 Wallpaper Ideas for Renters - Wall Decals

While I love a good wallpaper any day, I also love to re-create the look of wallpaper on the cheap using other materials such as wrapping paper and fabric. These next few projects utilize these other mediums, but the effect is the same and can certainly be achieved using wallpapers as well!

7. Make Your Closet Fun! In the same way that pretty paper liners add a pop of fun and whimsy to your drawers, adding fun paper to the back of closets can make putting items away a bit more exciting. Thick wrapping paper adhered with double-stick tape is the ideal faux wallpaper for renters! Unlike wallpaper though, wrapping paper rolls only contain about 12' of paper so be sure to buy enough for your project. (Used here: wrapping paper from Marshalls)

12 Wallpaper Ideas for Renters - Closet Background

8. Pretty Up Your Work Space. Patterns don't necessarily need to go on the walls to make a graphic statement. To brighten up dark furniture surfaces or add a bit of interest to your work station, put patterned paper under a sheet of plexiglass for a cheap yet ultra chic makeover! (Used here: wrapping paper from Marshalls)

12 Wallpaper Ideas for Renters - Desk top

9. Manage Tasks In Style. Instead of using a basic dry-erase board in your work space, place patterned papers behind glass frames to create pretty and fully customizable wipe boards. Now both functional and decorative, who said office supplies couldn't be stylish? (Used here: wrapping paper from Michaels Craft Store)

12 Wallpaper Ideas for Renters - Dry Erase Boards

10. Create the Ultimate Accessory. This frame utilizes the same concept as above, just in tray form. Attach thick plexiglass and handles to a sturdy frame to create a clear acrylic tray. To tailor the tray to your decor or for any season that comes along, simply swap papers underneath the plexiglass (held in place with double stick tape). By swapping out decorative papers, you have one home accessory that can work all year long! (Used here: wrapping paper from World Market)

12 Wallpaper Ideas for Renters - Tray

11. Define a Nook. Wallpaper, or in this case fabric, on the wall can help define a nook or zone in your house where there isn't one. Here, a random corner in a hallway becomes a defined, eye-catching and stylish command center thanks to the help of polka dot fabric secured to the wall with a staple gun. Using paper or fabric in small doses like this is also a great way to keep cost and labor down! This wall used just under 3 yards of 54" wide fabric, costing me about $25 and took me about an hour to install! (Used here: Waverly On the Spot fabric in Estate Blue).

12 Wallpaper Ideas for Renters - Fabric Wallpaper

12. Brighten Up a Bookcase.  Dark bookcases can be brightened up, made more visually interesting, and tied into the room decor scheme by adding paper (or again, fabric) behind the shelves. This look can be achieved in a variety of ways. Here, the fabric is held in place with adhesive-backed Velcro. However, you could also adhere paper with double stick tape, staples, or tacks. For a very removable approach, adhere paper/fabric to cardboard, luan, or foam core cut to size, then slide the sheet into the back of the bookcase before inserting the shelves (which will hold the board in place!). (Used here: Premier Prints Zig Zag in Black and White )

12 Wallpaper Ideas for Renters - Bookcase

Just because you're a renter (or even if you're not but don't want to deal with the permanence of wallpaper!), there ARE ways to use this fantastic home decor accent around your home in ways that provide major impact but are totally movable. I love that more and more sites and companies are offering amazing patterns in wallcoverings, giving me all the more reason to come up with new ways to use them up in our homes! You better bet more wallpaper projects are in my future!

Hope you're having a great week! On Friday, I am sharing one final look/reveal from our home! See you then!


Monday, May 18, 2015

DIY | Grasscloth-Covered Trunk (with Walls Republic!)

Happy Monday, Friends! Boy oh boy, do I have a treat of a post for you today! I've been so giddy to share this one with you so let's get right to it! 

It's been a long, cold, rainy winter here, making it difficult to make over furniture - one of my favorite hobbies. With warmer temperatures finally here, I kicked off my furniture revamping season with a bang. Take a look at our new grasscloth-covered trunk/coffee table! I am so smitten with this piece, I'm going to let the photos do (most of) the talking!

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk
DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk
DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk
DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

I mentioned a few weeks back that I was partnering with Walls Republic for a few projects to introduce you to their amazing line of quality wallpapers. (Be sure to check out my Wallpaper Silhouette Art here!) I LOVE wallpapers and wallcoverings, but being renters, its traditional use is not really a viable option for us. However, there ARE ways to use wallpapers to bring color, texture, and so much style to your space that are totally renter-friendy and completely movable!

One of the best (and easiest!!!!) ways is to use gorgeous, textured wallpaper to cover an unsightly piece of furniture. You won't believe how easy this project is, and I can't wait to show you!

  • A piece of furniture with relatively clean lines
  • Wallpaper of your choice - I used this gorgeous aqua and blue grasscloth (I ordered one roll and used not even half of it!)
  • Mod Podge - I used matte finish
  • Paint - in the same color as the background of your wallpaper (as necessary)
  • Spray paint and primer - as necessary
  • Decorative accents - hardware, nailhead trim (always necessary ;)
  • Tools: Scissors, cutting mat with ruler and rotary cutter, foam brush, paper cups, screwdriver

I started with this old, quite ugly trunk that we've had for YEARS! We bought it at an auction in Okinawa, Japan (there may have been wine involved ;) We've held onto it because it's super functional (hello, storage!), but its color and style never really worked for me. I always knew I'd give it a makeover, but since it was made of MDF and had a ton of chipping paint, neither painting or staining it were really options. This piece was a perfect candidate to cover in wallpaper...hide all those imperfections!

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk
DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

Like with any furniture makeover, start by removing all the hardware and taking the piece apart if it has drawers, lids, etc. I removed all the hardware, and then removed the lid from the base of the trunk by taking off all the hinges.

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

The bottom edge of my trunk was curved and had some tricky decorative edging on the legs. While I possibly could have papered the base too, I really wanted a simple clean look around the bottom. After a very good cleaning and light sanding, I flipped the base of the trunk over and gave the very bottom of it my favorite durable white paint treatment: Zinsser 123 Spray Primer followed by Rustoleum Gloss Protective Enamel in White. 

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

With the base drying, I sanded the lid lightly to remove dirt and some sticky residue buildup. After taking some measurements of the lid and the wallpaper itself, I knew I was not going to be able to cover the lid and fold the wallpaper down over all the edges (essentially, wrapping the lid). Since I was going to have to have seams somewhere, I decided to paper the top and sides separately. So that the yellow trunk wouldn't show through on the corner edges where the seams would be, I painted all the edges with matching paint (that I had one hand). In hindsight, this was a really good call, because it really camouflages where the paper edges meet!

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

With the paint dry, it was time to apply the wallpaper. I started by measuring the dimensions of the top of the lid and cut a single sheet to cover the entire thing. I double checked all my measurements before cutting, and got nice clean cuts by using a rotary cutter (highly recommended!)

A note about wallpaper pattern: Although I honestly picked the grasscloth because I LOVED the colors and texture, it turned out to be a perfect paper choice for this kind of project. Matching patterns on and around various furniture angles can be quite tricky. The grasscloth was varied enough that matching patterns from the lid to the sides to the base was very seamless (ha!). When picking your paper pattern, be sure to keep in mind how often you will have to line up the patterns on your piece. Also, when determining how to cut and paper your furniture, spend some time figuring out the best way to cut it and line it up so that the pattern reads the same direction for all angles, as applicable!

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

I went back and forth about how to secure the wallpaper (which does not come pasted) to the trunk itself (debating between wallpaper paste and Mod Podge). After reading several other tutorials, I gave the Mod Podge a go (because I had it!) and it worked beautifully! 

To secure the paper to the top, I worked on half the trunk first, secured the paper, then worked on the other side. Start by coating a section liberally with Mod Podge. Lay the paper onto the Mod Podge (wrong side down, obviously), lining up all the edges as best you can. Use a brayer to vigorously smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles. This wallpaper was nice and thick so I could tug and position it as I needed to without worries of it tearing!

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

Although I cut my paper as accurately as I could, I still had a teeny tiny bit of paper overhang the edges. I flipped the lid over and then very carefully used the rotary cutter along the edge of the lid to trim away the excess paper. Worked perfectly!

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

With the top papered, I measured the height of the side of the lid and added an extra 3/4" to wrap the paper under the edge of the truck (toward the inside).

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

I was able to cut one long continuous piece to wrap the entire circumference of the trunk (a benefit to using wallpaper: you can make really long cuts!) I applied it the same way as above: one section at a time, applying Mod Podge generously, lining up the edge of the paper with the top edge, and then rolling it all smooth and taught. Work slowly and diligently, because once the glue dries, you can't get wrinkles out!

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

Once the paper was attached all the way around the edge of the lid, I folded over the excess paper to the underside of the lip, securing it with more Mod Podge all the way around. 

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

At the corners, I clipped the paper (on diagonal), which allowed me to make a nice corner fold. To get the paper to stick and lay nicely, you may have to use a lot of Mod Podge, and secure it with tape while it dries. 

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

Above is a shot of the underside lip of the trunk with the edges folded over nicely. Below is the view of the top of the trunk. You can see how nicely the paper lines up at the corner edges, and how thanks to the blue paint, you can hardly notice a seam. To ensure the paper doesn't peel up over time, I added 2 very light coats of Mod Podge just at the seam to seal up the corners. Use a tiny paint brush to do this, as the matte of the glue can slightly change the look of the wallpaper. Note: I did not seal the entire trunk, just the edges where the papers met.)

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

I essentially repeated the exact same process for the base of the trunk. I wrapped a single cut all the way around the trunk, papering and smoothing once side at a time. I then folded over and glued the paper onto the top lip to create a nice finished edge, just as I did on the lid.

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

With all the sides papered, we re-attached the lid to the base with the original hinges. The final step was to add a new nice, large silver handle (so we can open the trunk!) to the front and some nailhead trim around the base. I wasn't sure if I'd use the trim; but once I held it up, it finished off the piece so nicely, I knew we had to do it (I had an awesome helper!)

Silver Accents on Grasscloth Trunk

And with that, our ugly duckling of a trunk turned into quite the gorgeous swan!

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

I know I say a lot of projects are "easy," but I have to tell you that even I was surprised at how truly easy this one was. You do have to start with a nice simple piece that lends itself to papering. But once you figure out just how to cut your paper so that the patterns line up, it's a matter of cutting, gluing and smoothing. No sanding, no filling holes, no messy paint, no waiting for paint to dry or applying top coats. Once the spray paint on the base was on and dry (admittedly), we were able to move onto papering and hardware, and this whole thing was done in about a day! It is truly a doable and durable way to makeover a piece of furniture and give it a whole new life!

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

With every furniture makeover, I say "this one is my favorite." But I really mean it this time. Never did I think our ugly yellow trunk would have turned out so beautiful. Working with the grasscloth wallpaper was an absolute dream. It was easy to cut, easy to apply, has gorgeous color and texture....and the result is so high end. Greg and I keep looking at it over and over, not believing we actually did it ourselves! As a renter, I would never be able to have this kind of look in our home, but by applying gorgeous wallpaper to an old piece of furniture, it has completely changed the look and feel of our whole space in a way that can come with us!

Dare I say, I like this here better than the ottoman I've had all these years?

DIY | Grasscloth Covered Trunk

What was going to be a garage sale cast off has become one of my favorite items in our entire house. You better bet this baby is coming with us to our next home! And I am so smitten with this technique, I want to wallpaper all our furniture now! #kiddingnotkidding

I'd love to hear what you think? Do you love that blue grasscloth as much as I do? Have you ever used wallpaper to cover a piece of furniture? I am anxious to see how it holds up - I'll be sure to report back in the coming months!

See you back here Wednesday with some more fun projects using wallpaper!

I did not receive compensation for this blog post; however Walls Republic did provide the beautiful grasscloth wallpaper 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!


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