Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Extra Extra! THIHM Around the Web #1

Happy Thanksgiving Week, Friends! I hope your week is filled with family, friends, safe travels, yummy food, and hearts full of gratitude! Since this is a slow week project- and blog-wise, I thought I would take this opportunity to introduce you to a new "feature" (for lack of a better word!) here on The Homes I Have Made! As many of you know, I write articles and project tutorials for a few other websites. These writing assignments have been really great opportunities for me, and I am really enjoying the challenge of coming up with projects for the topics I am assigned. Instead of popping on here every time an article goes live on other sites (which is quite frequent!), once a month I'll round up all my writings in one big post instead! I take a lot of pride in the articles I write for other sites, so I'd love it if you took a few extra seconds/clicks to check out these great projects!

I (finally) shared my all-time favorite, crowd-pleasing, ultra-hearty Sausage and Beef Barley Soup over on ForRent.com! This is a recipe I've been meaning to compile and photograph for a while because I always have friends asking for it! On your next chilly night when you need a hearty meal for a crows, give this one a try. I promise it will become one of your regulars! 

Barley Soup_Meal_ForRent.com


I haven't shied away from the fact that I loathe our current kitchen. Despite its awkward size/layout and lack of window, I've found ways to love it. Over at ForRent.com, I am sharing 5 Ways to Fall in Love With Your Kitchen again!

Kitchen Ideas_Feature Image_ForRent.com


Down here in the south, our summers stretch into October, but that doesn't mean I can't reach for some cozy accessories! I whipped up these adorable and oh-so-easy knit scarves and am sharing the tutorial over on My Daily Bubble. They are lighter wight and less bulky, so perfect for cooler days and smaller frames!

Knit Scarves-001


Last but not least, ForRent.com asked me to get my Christmas stash out early and whip up some creative wrapping ideas using easy-to-find and inexpensive craft supplies. This post was so fun to put together, so be sure to hop on over to get all my easy package ideas!

Wrapping_Gifts on display_ForRent.com


As usual, these posts will never appear in their entirety here on THIHM, so be sure to follow the links to get all the details and pin, like, and share these ideas! These assignments help me keep THIHM running, so I really appreciate you supporting my work appearing elsewhere!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I'll be back next week with some house updates we've been making in recent weeks!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Little Updates in the Family Room

For those of you who have been reading for a while, you might recall the one room in our house that has given me the most trouble has been the heart of our home: the family room. Why is it that the most used room is always the hardest to pull together? This room has gone in lots of different directions and had lots of different looks in the 2+ years we've lived here...and while I love the projects and progress made in this space, it still doesn't feel quite right or done to me. I've  made a bunch of updates lately that I keep thinking I'll show you when I do the final room reveal. But I'm starting to think this room will never really be "done," so I figured I'd give you a mini tour of the room now and the updates I've made in recent days/weeks/months!

Here's the room as of yesterday...there's something about the light this time of year...it just makes everything in this space look so bright and fresh! I love it!

Main Room Quick Updates-001

I've recently showed you a few updates to this room, namely my plant stands, new lamps, brass hardware, and acrylic tray...

Main Room Quick Updates-002

...but there have been some smaller, more subtle, updates in here that don't quite deserve their own post but I want to show you all the same!

Like my vintage brass winged bowl that now holds our coasters...

Main Room Quick Updates-003

...and this gorgeous watercolor/lucite box that now holds all of our remote controls...

Main Room Quick Updates-004

The most recent addition (as of this past weekend!) was this new arrangement of artwork over in the play area. This little spot used to hold Henry's Magnetic Learning Station, which unfortunately was under-used and taking up precious wallspace. In an effort to de-clutter and improve function in the playroom AND get my new art up on the walls, the magnet board came down (and has since been re-purposed!) and this arrangement went up. I am LOVING that strong jolt of color on that far wall and the way the colors play off his toys and accessories!

Main Room Quick Updates-005
Main Room Quick Updates-006

Our diagonal entryway wall got a few updates this past summer, my favorite of which is my new owl planter that I got for 50% off. Oh gosh - I just love him!

Main Room Quick Updates-007

I also finally hung a piece of glass we got custom made and engraved with our last name when we lived in Okinawa...oh...7 years ago! It has a really strange mounting mechanism that prevented us from hanging it before. Once I had the idea to mount it to a wall plaque before hanging it on the wall, this baby was up in no time! How great that the colors I selected at random years ago work so well in our house! I guess when you really love a color combo, it sticks ;) I also picked up a colorful box from Target on clearance back over the summer that tie all our house colors together. And the cloche was a find from my parents' basement. #everythingoldisnewagain. Gosh darn it though, I cannot find the right thing to go in it!

Main Room Quick Updates-008

This wall is still one of my favorite spots in our house!

Main Room Quick Updates-009

Over on the bookshelf behind the front door, I placed my turquoise bulldog bookends that my Dad gifted me for helping clean out the house all summer. Pretty sure he thought I was crazy when I picked them out at a local store. Imagine my delight when I saw them featured on Joss & Main two weeks later - sold out!

Main Room Quick Updates-010

So those are a few updates I've made to the space since you saw it last. Baby step by baby step it is coming together and it's inching closer to "done"....although I really can't put my finger on what is nagging me so much about this space...even as I sit here and look at the photos. I absolutely love the single elements and projects here, but I just can't help but feel like a big tie-it-all-together element is missing. My instinct is it's the window treatments. I love those cornice boxes but I've always felt like patterned drapes are the missing piece to this puzzle. With less than a year left in this house, I'm not making new window treatments now, but that's my hunch!

Main Room Quick Updates-011

What do you think? Does this room feel complete or is something missing? If so, what? It's driving me craaaazzzyy!!! Help!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Easy (and awesome!) Lamp Update - a Target Hack

After weeks (err...months) of feeling like my creative tank was running on empty, I've suddenly had a jolt of creative energy with lots of new ideas for projects and posts and updates for the house. We spent a good portion of the weekend doing all sorts of things, and it feels SO good to be back to my creative, projecting self! Honestly, I think my creative funk had a lot to do with my husband being gone. Needless to say, running a household and parenting by myself required a lot from me...and now that it's over and I'm back to having support on the home front, I feel like I suddenly have the mental capacity and physical energy to pour into projects again! Woo hoo!

On of the projects we tackled this weekend was a lamp update a long time coming! With the help of some spray paint and wallpaper, we have some fantastic "new" lamps that I am simply ga-ga- over!

Lamp Makeover-001
Lamp Makeover-002
Lamp Makeover-003

Let's start this makeover story at the very beginning...oh...about two years ago...when we moved into this house. We needed some lamps for our living room space, and I was adamant about finding big, round, glass lamps just like these. I picked a weekend and said "this is the weekend I am finding lamps." I set off to every store I could think of in our small town and couldn't find anything that was just right. Instead of trying to find a shape or color that I truly loved, I became fixated fixated on the "glass" element and settled on these glass, fillable lamps from Target. Ever since, I have tried to convince myself that they were great. Sure, they were modern and simple, but it seemed strange keeping them empty (I couldn't think of anything to fill them with that worked with our decor/style)...and it didn't take long for me to start pining for new lamps. 

Lamp Makeover-004

I've come pretty close to buying new lamps for this room on a few occasions, but never went for it because these lamps function just fine. I even considered painting the insides a la Emily Henderson, but that route felt too permanent. Then a few weeks ago, I was going through my wrapping paper/vinyl/contact paper collection (more on that later!) and it occurred to me that the lamps were perfect cylinders and therefor I could wrap them in paper! An idea was born, and I set off to execute it this weekend!

First I wanted to address the finish. With my new brass hardware, I felt like these lamps would work better with the room (and the paper I chose!) if they were gold instead of silver. I taped off the glass cylinders, light sockets, and cords with a combination of painter's tape and brown craft paper.

Lamp Makeover-005

I then primed the metal surfaces with Zinsser 123 Primer and followed up with a single coat of Valspar metallic gold paint. This stuff covers so well - I am always amazed at the finish with this paint!

Lamp Makeover-006

While my lamps were drying I cut my wallpaper down to size. 

Rewind to a few weeks ago...Once I determined that I didn't have anything in my collection that would work well, I turned to Spoonflower for their endless pattern options. This pattern was one of the first ones I considered, and it's the one I ultimately went with after looking at dozens of options! I ordered some of their peel-and-stick paper in just the right length I needed for this project (3 feet). For both my clutter and my pocketbook, I just LOOOOVE that I didn't have to buy a $60 12' roll. When it arrived...I have to tell you...I was SO amazed with this product. It looks and (more importantly) feels like wallpaper...real bonafide wallpaper...but it has a peel-off backing just like vinyl or contact paper. It's thick and durable...and really...just lovely. I am so smitten with it. Friends, this is not a sponsored post at all, but I have to say....yes, Spoonflower is a bit expensive, but WOW - the quality is just so nice! I can't wait to use this product in future spaces!

Anyway - I cut down my paper (very carefully) to the measurements of the glass cylinder. In my case, 15.25"x18".

Lamp Makeover-007

I don't have pictures of the application because it was a two-person job. I highly recommend applying the paper with a helper if you want it straight, even, and bubble-free! My husband held the lamp horizontally (one hand on the bottom, one hand on the socket) while I applied the paper, lining up the edges of the paper with the top and bottom of the lamp. He then slowly rolled the lamp as I laid and smoothed the paper. It went on so nice and easy, I couldn't believe it. After tons of projects working with contact paper (that tears and bubbles and creases), this went on like a dream. After a few smooths to get bubbles out...our lamps were done!

Lamp Makeover-008

This was definitely one of those projects that turned out so much better than I expected. I LOVE the dose of pattern and how it plays off the cornice boxes, but it's not too much or too busy. All of a sudden our hum-drum lamps look like a million bucks!

Lamp Makeover-009

A quick note about the pattern repeat. The circumference of my lamp was 18", and unfortunately, the pattern repeat on the paper didn't work out to an even 18". Thankfully, this type of pattern is pretty easy to disguise where the paper meets up. Here's a shot of the back of the lamp, where the cord is and where the paper meets up. It obviously doesn't meet up perfectly, but the pattern is so forgiving, most won't see or notice! If you take on this kind of project...think about how the pattern repeats when selecting your print!

Lamp Makeover-010

I am so excited about this lamp update. After years of being so frustrated with our lamps, I walk into the room and say "wow" every time!

Lamp Makeover-011

This project cost me about $30 for both lamps (including paint and paper)....not a super inexpensive fix, but a lot cheeper than a whole new set of lamps! Plus, the quality of the wallpaper is so nice, I really feel like it was worth it to get me to love these lamps! If you have some lamps that could use a little pick-me-up (and they have a simple/even shape!), give this update a try!
Lamp Makeover-012

I hope you all had a great weekend! Like I said, a bunch of things are in the works (finally!) so sit tight!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Shopping Asheville NC!

Hello Friends! Sorry for the late post this week. We took a quick little getaway to the mountains of North Carolina for the weekend. The trip was equal parts welcome home/anniversary/Fall family getaway. We've been wanting to visit Asheville, NC since moving to NC...and we were able to sneak in a great little trip between the 1' of snowfall a few weeks ago and the Polar Vortex arriving this weekend. We had great temps, saw lots of Fall color and ate great food...AND my husband indulged me with LOTs of putzing and browsing through wonderful antique stores! It was a total treat as I could literally putz through antique and consignment stores all day long, day after day. And while I couldn't stop in every store in this great little town (there's a lot of them!), we did leave town with some awesome finds that I wanted to show you today!

My favorite and most exciting find was this solid wood antique Jenny Lind bed, complete with headboard, footboard, and rails for...wait for it...$45!!!! I was so excited, I couldn't get it loaded in the car fast enough! We don't really have a place or a need for this bed right now, but I have been so smitten with this kind of bed for years that I literally couldn't pass it up. I think my husband thought I had lost it, but I was determined to bring this thing home. It's sturdy and in pretty good shape structurally; the wood finish is pretty rough so I will have no heartache painting it a bright fun color someday! My sister-in-law almost dampened my spirits when she suggested that it was probably an antique bed requiring a 3/4 mattress. I was even more excited when I got home, measured and determined it's a true double! Yay!

Asheville Shopping-001

Next up, I found some brass accessories for super cheap. I always get bummed out when I find cute accessories like these marked up pretty high in antique stores, but the prices on these were so reasonable, I snatched them up! The large swan was $6, the small swan was $4, and the elephant was $8. The winged bowl was $4 and the brass trashcan was $15!

Asheville Shopping-002

Out where we live on the coast, we don't see a ton of mid-century-modern finds, which is fine, but I've been crushing over some of the cool things I've seen other bloggers pick up on their thrifting trips. I was super excited to stumble across these vintage MCM lamps. They were $90 for the pair (which I honestly don't know if that's reasonable or not), but I LOVED their shape and mix of wood/white and thought they would incorporate well into our home! Now to find just the right shades!

Asheville Shopping-003

Asheville has a huge local artist population, with tons of galleries and workshops that you can browse through. I wish we had the budget for some grand "real" art (I fell in love with a $3,700 painting!), I still wanted to find a unique piece of art to bring home from our trip. I found this little print titled Watching Over a Little One and was really taken with it. The colors work so well with our house, and it just felt fun, modern and fresh. I LOVE that is mounted to a piece of wood with this cool glossy coating, so it's literally ready to go on the walls right now! This little guy was $85, but considering I don't have to frame or mount it, that's a pretty good deal for unique/local art!

Asheville Shopping-004

Last but not least, I found this really cool folded-paper star 14' garland at 10 Thousand Villages for $5 each. I couldn't decide on gold or silver, so I got both. I think it would look awesome on a Christmas tree, but also in a kid's room or craft space as bunting! Can't wait to find a home for it!

Asheville Shopping-005

There are so many wonderful shops in Asheville, but in case anyone is going and wants some suggestions. here's the ones we visited and loved:
  • The Tobacco Barn (Biltmore Village area)
  • Sweeten Creek Antiques (Biltmore Village area)
  • Antiques at Riverview Station (River Arts District)
  • Woolworth Walk (Downtown)

It's funny how just a few small purchases can set off a domino effect of changes throughout the house! Just to get the painting on the wall and the lamps in the office, we're moving and re-arranging and editing down what we have to make room! I hope to have updates for you soon how (some) of these new-to-me finds get incorporated into our home!

Hope you all have a great weekend - we're spending our's re-arranging our most used room in the house - details soon!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pretty-In-Pink Ombre Dresser

I'm super excited to introduce you to my latest furniture transformation! Toward the end of my husband's deployment, we found out he was going to be extended a few extra weeks. And while a few more weeks isn't the end of the world, it made me sad and frustrated...and I just wanted/needed a feel-good, something-to-keep-my-hands-busy project! I found this little dresser at our local Re-Store for $35 and had an instant vision!

Pink Ombre Dresser-001

I've been really wanting to try the ombre effect on a piece of furniture for a while now - you know, the buy-a-sample-pot-of-each-color-on-the-paint-strip project? Yep, I know, the blog world has been there, done that. But I love it every time I see it and wanted to try it...so consider me having just jumped on the bandwagon :) Complete with brass flower knobs, casters, and gold drawer liner, this little thing couldn't get any sweeter!

Pink Ombre Dresser-002
Pink Ombre Dresser-003

The key to this look is finding a unit with drawers that line up just so: without a wood panel separating the top and bottom of each drawer. Not that it wouldn't work, I just prefer the look of all the colors together without the dresser frame breaking it up. I've been keeping an eye out for one for a while and was excited when this one was just right! And why pink? Because I just needed to work with a color that made me happy, and these pinks sure did the trick!

Pink Ombre Dresser-004

This dresser is just so darling, and I love her so much...but she didn't start out so cute. And her makeover story wasn't simple or easy, making me want to chuck her to the curb on more than one occasion. Here she is as I found her, in all her rough- and $35 glory. She was heavy as h***, and in super bad condition, but that has never deterred me before. I needed a good challenge!

Pink Ombre Dresser-005

When I bought the dresser, I was pretty convinced it was solid wood. I've done enough furniture shopping and transformations now to know what is fake and what is real - or so I thought. My plan was actually to stain the frame and paint the drawers, but my vision quickly changed when I discovered what I thought was solid wood was actually the most convincing veneer I have ever, ever seen. And to make it worse, some of the wood was solid and gorgeous and some was composite, so I really had no choice but to go the paint route. 

I sanded the top down to make it all clean and smooth, and then used pegs and wood filler to fill these strange holes in the top of the dresser. For some reason, I also sanded down the sides and front of the frame, still clinging to the idea that I could maybe figure out a way to stain it. 

Pink Ombre Dresser-006

But the weird top and faux wood was just the beginning of this dresser's problems. Do you see it? Down there in the bottom right corner? MAJOR water damage and wood rot. It was so bad that the back right leg was pulling out from the bad wood, so it had to be dealt with.

Pink Ombre Dresser-007

I kid you not when I say this is one of the grossest and hardest things I've ever had to deal with in a furniture transformation. The 1/2" plywood that made up the base of the dresser was both glued and nailed in the bottom of the dresser frame. I thought I'd be able to pry it out, but because the wood was so soft from moisture, it crumbled and came out inch by inch. It took me HOURS in the hot garage pushing, pulling, prying and cursing every bit of this dusty, crumbly, smelly rotted wood out. Once I got all the wood out, I then had to deal with all the nails still stuck in the bottom of the frame. But after a ton of sweat and hardwork, the base was completely free and cleaned-out, and I had a perfect ledge for new plywood.

Pink Ombre Dresser-008
Pink Ombre Dresser-009

Fortunately, inserting the replacement wood was a lot easier than getting the original out. I got a piece of plywood cut down to the right size at the hardware store and attached it to the base with wood screws. 

Pink Ombre Dresser-010

With some replacement feet (there was no way to salvage the original feet!), I finally had the dresser back up-right and ready to move on!

Pink Ombre Dresser-011

Before I could break out the paint, the drawers had to be dealt with first. I removed the hardware as well as the locks in the top center of each drawer. It took several rounds of wood filler and sanding to fill up the lock holes. Next, the insides of the drawers had to be cleaned up. Every peice I bring home from our Re-Store is in really rough shape, and this one was no exception. All three of the drawers had some wierd sticky residue all over the insides. Gu-Gone didn't do a thing, and I had no choice but to completely sand down the insides of all three drawers. It was just one thing after another with this baby!

Pink Ombre Dresser-012

With the top sanded and patched, the bottom removed and replaced, and the drawers patched and cleaned, it was finally ready for paint - weeks later! I used up some paints from my stash along with a few test pots of fresh colors! 
  • I started with a single coat of Zinsser 123 primer, applied with a 2.5" angled brush and a 4" foam roller, to all the surfaces of the drawer frame as well as the drawer fronts.
  • The dresser frame was given three coats (yes, three) of the BM Advanced High Gloss paint in Simply White.
  • The drawer fronts were given three coats of pink paint (Poppy Field, Passion Pink, and Whipped Strawberry), while the sides and inside required only one coat of the navy blue (Indigo Cloth).
  • The white frame didn't require a topcoat because the BM Advanced paint is so durable (after a long cure period), but the drawers were each given a couple coats of the Rustoleum Clear Gloss spray.

Pink Ombre Dresser-013

I ditched the black knobs that came with the piece and found these adorable flower brass knobs on eBay - they were $20 for 9 knobs which was a great deal, even with shipping! The other three knobs are tucked away for another someday project! I finished off the insides of each drawer with some really wonderful gold and white wrapping paper I found at Michaels for $2/roll. Oh - and because nothing about this piece was easy, after all was said and done, I couldn't get the drawers back in the dresser. Seriously. Even after numbering them from the start and trying out each drawer in each spot, the top drawer would not go in. After a late night brainstorm session with my brother-in-law and his wood-working buddy, we discovered that simply loosening the drawer rails allowed the drawer to slide back in properly. Random, but good trick to know!

Pink Ombre Dresser-014
Pink Ombre Dresser-015

I originally bought square feet to replace the rotted feet because that was what was already on the dresser, but I didn't love the way they looked and couldn't decide on a color stain that would look right. After weeks of the dresser sitting, mostly done, in the middle of the garage, I had the brilliant idea to add casters instead. As I mentioned above, this little thing literally weighs a ton. Adding the casters not only made it MUUUCH easier to move but also gave it the look I was after. The brass-lidded casters were a simple find at Lowes!

Pink Ombre Dresser-016

As I said, the BM Advanced paint is really, really durable once it's fully cured (this sat out in the garage for about 3 weeks). The top of this baby is pristine, and I don't have any hesitations putting anything on top of it!

Pink Ombre Dresser-017
Pink Ombre Dresser-018

This little lady caused me so much heartache and a ton of sweat, and took me so much longer than I anticipated. Despite all the delays and frustrations, I literally wrapped up this feel-good project the day before my husband got home!

Pink Ombre Dresser-019

Because I can never get enough of before/after shots, here's the dresser the day I brought her home and after her makeover!

Pink Ombre Dresser-020

There really is only one word appropriate for how I feel about this transformation...

Pink Ombre Dresser-021

Now for those of you who know my house color scheme, you know that a pink dresser really doesn't match a single thing...so you might be thinking, "where on earth is that going to go?" Well, I literally picked the color scheme because I just wanted/needed something to make me smile. And you're right, this dresser really doesn't match (or fit!) anywhere in my house! But I wanted to paint something pink so bad and now I have...and sure enough, I love her so much that I'm not getting rid of her. However, I may have just come up with a really great place/use for her...I just need to work it out a bit! Details to come soon! In the meantime, she sure does look cute on my polka dot wall, huh?

Pink Ombre Dresser-022

I hope you all have a great start to your week! I'll be back later this week with a few family room updates (I hope!). 


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