10 posts categorized "Home Decor"


Final Wall Collage for the Baby's Nursery

Without further delay, the wall collage for our baby girl's room is finally complete.


You know I'm a huge fan of collages (hence the "M" wall in my entry way) but I always forget that they are a total pain in the butt to do. I did take some photos of my process as getting wall collages correctly spaced is critical to the final look.

Once I received the items I ordered from Etsy.com in the mail, I physically took them around to a handful of stores looking for the right frames. I knew the paper doll and her dresses would do fine in a normal frame, but the baby doll dress needed to be in a shadow box.

(Note I purchased the brown frames from Walmart and the shadow box from Hobby Lobby. As mentioned before, the baby doll dress, paper doll and baby blocks were purchased on Etsy.com. The large metal "A" was found at an antique store in Rockwall, TX. The chandeiler sticker was purchased from LeenTheGraphicsQueen.com. The metal chairs were purchased back in 2006 from IKEA. The acrylic shelf was purchased at The Container Store.)

When choosing colors for the frames, it's good to try to find balance. I picked white for the baby doll dress frame specifically to tie in the white of the chandelier and the brown frames to tie in with the furniture of the room.


Once I got all the pieces, I laid them out on the floor exactly as I wanted it on the wall. This can be a slow process as I constantly move the frames around until I find that balance I'm looking for (for example, I knew I did not want the baby doll dress to be near the chandelier sticker just because they were both white--their separate creates balance).

Once you have it laid out, measure the total width of the collage.


(It helps to have a 75 pound black lab who is "assisting" you with this process.)

I measured the wall I was putting the collage onto to find the center point, with some simple math on a scratch piece of paper. I could then find the center-point of my collage as well--so I knew where I'd hang the first piece of the collage. It ended up being the metal "A's" left side.


I then made newspaper templates of everything. This step always seems excessive and drawn-out (I pretty much despise doing it) but it really pays off. I took each newspaper equivalent and taped it on the wall. (For the shelf I used a thin piece of cardboard.) This allowed me to step back and evaluate the spacing of each item and to make sure the height of the collage itself worked.


Once I got everything where I wanted it, I started the hanging process. I did the sticker first (man, that made me nervous since it's not re-positionable) and added the frames one-by-one.


Finally, the wall came together and it's straight, centered, and exactly as I envisioned it.


(Just don't give your husband the camera as you're finishing up the wall . . . as he'll go crazy and get a bunch of pictures, although it's not bad to get some behind-the-scenes-35.5-week-pregnancy pics!)


Fall Decor

As soon as Labor Day comes around, I'm ready to put up my fall decorations. Cody asked me to hold off for a few weeks, and considering that it was still 100 degree's in Texas at the time, I agreed.

I waited until October came and I then added as much orange, reds and yellows in as I could. And, with Thanksgiving coming up in just two weeks, I'm trying to enjoy these colors while they are still around.


I'm a sucker for mantles. I've had these stars up on our mantle in Illinois and carried the same look over to our Texas house. I'm starting to feel the itch to try something new, but I still love them for now.

(Inspired by Pottery Barn, but I picked up cheaper look-alike's in a small Texas-decor store in Stephenville, TX back when we were there for Christmas in 2006. I had to carry the dang thing on the plane as carry-on . . . a bit surprised it wasn't seen as a weapon!)


Antique Ball jars that always grace my side table. I just fill them up with different season-appropriate decor.

A close up of the bundle of wheat that is on my mantle. A great find at Home Goods.


A fallish look to the "M" wall with a large leaf fashioned out of twigs (found at a decor store). . . a fake pumpkin from Jo-Ann's . . . and a basket of smell-good pine cones and natural-material pumpkins.


12x12 pictures of fall leaves Cody took while on a hike in Illinois, set in IKEA picture frames.


A simple mini-grapevine leaf, with fall garland intertwined.

And for the shelf above our couch, a bit of orange around the base of a candle.


This bowl was supposed to house some more gourds/pumpkins . . . But five minutes into their existence they met their match with a certain 75-pound black dog.


I don't know, he looks awfully guilty.

(Lesson: We can do fall decor, as long as it's out of reach from this guy.)


The Baby's Room Has Been Chosen

This was a big decision. We have been married for over six years and have gotten used to having ample space for just our things. Both in Illinois and in Texas, our houses have had four bedrooms: master bedroom, guest bedroom, my office and Cody's office. Who would cave and give up their office?

To leave the manroom intact, we I decided to go with my office as the baby's room, mostly because I was not a fan of Cody's other suggestion: move his office into the loft area and the baby could take his old office. I like the idea of the loft being the "family room" where toys can roam free--away from adult guests.

Here is the bones of my office when we first were house hunting, so you can get an idea of the room sans junk and furniture:



As I mentioned before, I want to stay away from pink. I know that more than likely our daughter will be a princess-and-pink-loving girl, who can't get enough of pink, so I might as well get away with it while I can.

My idea board is really driving off the colors in the Pottery Barn duvet cover, which I will happily cut up and reuse/resew into a new creation. I found a twin duvet for $55 on eBay (about half the price of buying it in the store) and it will be the base of what I'm doing.


It will be an adventure of purging existing junk, trying to find a place for my office stuff, and coming up with a realistic livable space for our little girl to be in.

Stay tuned for the Upstairs-Reorganization-And-Baby-Room-Creation 2010 Project.

Here we go!


And The Sonogram Says . . . We're Having a Girl!

I was always convinced I'd have a boy, just because I never really saw myself having children until I was well into dating Cody. I saw a baby picture of him one day and immediately knew that I didn't want to have kids, I just wanted to have kids with him. (Amazing how falling in love with someone changes things.)

But, especially with the problems we've had, we ended up not really caring anymore. It's a cliche, but we really just wanted a healthy child.

Yesterday we are at Dr. U's office (my OBGYN) for the 20 week sonogram appointment, even though I was only 19 weeks. This is a big deal appointment because they confirm that they brain, organs, spine and other things are good to go.

I had been feeling the baby since last Sunday (I was sitting in Bible study with my hands on my stomach when all of a sudden, I felt a little bit of a pop) and I was so anxious about finding out if everything was okay. I was relieved when the technician checked the health of the baby first, as it made it much easier to enjoy the gender-finding part.

Right and the perfect moment, she rotated just enough for us to check. He typed "GIRL" into the screen and Cody squeezed my hand. How awesome to call her a "she" and not an "it" anymore!

So now comes the fun part. Follow me as I put together her new room, in a not so traditional pink way . . . My inspiration will be this beautiful flowered fabric from Pottery barn (link) which is girlie, but again, not pink.

Stay tuned as this unfolds . . .


Exactly How I Envisioned the Computer Desk to Be

I've mentioned before that I've been looking for a computer desk for our kitchen/dining/family room. Our house in Illinois had a built in desk and it was a great place to catch all the daily paper crap that builds up (bills, mail, etc.) as well as a place to put our computer, which is a huge part of our daily life.

This weekend Cody and I headed down to San Antonio for some R&R. He gifted me the trip for my 28th birthday and we planned a weekend out doing some tourist stuff in downtown San Antonio, but spending most of our time in the towns surrounding the city.

(I also got a four day break from Spangler. Not that I needed a dog-mom break, but I really really really needed a dog-mom break.)

Friday we were in Johnson City, TX (home of our 36th President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson) for lunch and walked into a cute little antique shop next door called "The Old Lumber Yard."


I was in the front of the store and Cody had already headed to the back (he's the in-and-out-I've-already-been-around-the-store kind of a shopper). He came back and got me, pointing out this desk:



Oh, I loved it immediately. I'm all for simple lines (no turned legs please!) and the signs of age, small marks here and there, are beautiful. It is the perfect finish, and the exposed nails in the top sealed the deal. It is functional, as the desk is tall enough for Cody to sit at, and it has a super deep drawer, enough to keep the paper crap we have in our house nice and organized.

Since I'm such a great planner, we had no idea whether or not the desk would fit the spot we had for it. Luckily, we conned our friends, who have a key to our house, to come and measure the spot Friday evening so we knew we had plenty of room.

It wasn't exactly convenient to drive back to Johnson City on Saturday afternoon, but we made it right before they closed. We got it home and the finished product is:


And I know, another horrible picture, but you can see the detail of the handle. Love it.


A fantastic birthday present. And, I'm so happy to finally have what is in my head in real life. While getting the stacks of mail off my counter.


What To Do With The Dog Crate?

When we got Spangler we quickly saw the advantages of crate-training him. He's very much into everything and being a lab, he loves to chew. Now that he is even bigger (60 pounds +) he can reach the coffee table standing on all four legs and can reach the entire counter area by getting on his back two legs.

Moral of this story? He cannot be trusted in the house unsupervised.

We're lucky in that I work from home, so Spangler is only crated when we're gone (he can't be in the backyard since he has fallen into the pool THREE times. He still hasn't figured out how to get out on his own so once pool season comes, we'll teach him how) or at night time. It's worked out really well and he even knows what "go to bed" means. He'll put himself in his crate (mostly) every time.

I've read online where some people don't agree with this training technique, but Spangler loves his crate. He'll put himself to bed in the evenings when he's tired, or go take some of his afternoon naps in his crate--sleeping with the door wide open. 

It's his safe place; his own little bedroom.

One of the challenges of having a bigger dog though, is that you need to have a bigger crate. And when you're trying to create a nice look to your home, a big dog crate stuck in the middle of your living room can ruin it.

This is What We Have Now

A huge crate that you see as soon as you walk in. It's in front of the focal point of the room, the fireplace.


It's been there for . . . over three months. (Wait, we've only had Spangler for three months? I seriously feel like we've had him a year.)

I've started to look into a couple other options, especially since the crate that we have is not really our crate (thanks Jace and Randy!). We do need to give back the crate at some point soon and I want to make sure the one we are buying has a more permanent home.

Our Options Include:

One . . . The Wooden Side Table AND Dog Crate

Pros: It looks nice

Cons: Expensive! Also, it may work for a little dog, but even a huge wooden crate as a side table will look very much out of place.

Two . . . The Metal and Faux Rattan Crate

Pros:It looks nice. It's large enough to hold Spangler. Not as expensive as a wood crate.

Cons:Spangler is a chewer and if we got this, it would only take one time of him being bored to start to destroy it.

Three . . . The Nicer Metal, Wood and Faux Rattan Crate

Pros:It looks nice. It's also plenty large enough for Spangler.

Cons: Expensive as well. It also is a potential chewing nightmare.

I think the biggest thing that will drive our decision is the maturity of a certain dog who, at this moment, is still very much a puppy. We may have to continue down the path of "durability" more than "appearance," which will make my living room still look very much Spangler-oriented.

If we put him in a fancy wood or faux rattan dog bed, we will likely come home to something worse than this:


A side story . . . We got home from church last Sunday and saw the above. It was cute, in a not-cute-at-the-time way, because when we come home Spangler is obviously excited to see us and ready to be let out of his crate. He knows that in order to be let out, he has to be quiet and sitting. He was trying to act as though he did not have his bed in a million pieces with a chunk hanging out of his mouth. In his mind at this moment, he was being quiet and good!


More Detail on the "M" Wall

A few weeks ago I wrote about one of the favorite areas of my house, what has been officially dubbed the "M" wall. Here is some more detail on the individual pieces.

Large Gold "M"

I had mentioned this before, but I bought this "M" at Home Goods back when we lived in Illinois.


Notice the cracks on the upper left side? When we had this "M" up at our house in Illinois I had it resting on a Crate & Barrel photo ledge, along with some other items, including an old iron plant hook I'd found at an antique store in Anoka, Minnesota. The plant hook is pretty heavy, and to be honest, it was a little too wide for the photo ledge. Sure enough, one day we heard a huge crash and plant hook took my beloved gold "M" to the ground. There it was in four big pieces. We were moving back to Texas anyway, so I wrapped it up in packing paper and didn't do anything with it until a year later, when we finally unpacked all of our stuff in our new Texas house.

Lots of super glue later, I now have it in one piece.

When I was planning out the "M" wall, I originally had the star on the left side because I felt it did a good job distracting the eye away from the cracks. I ended up having to switch it to the right side to give the wall a more balanced look. I obviously don't like the fact that it's cracked, but surprisingly, I don't think many people have noticed.

Western "M" in a Frame

This is a western-style "M" that is about four inches tall. It's cut out of a heavy sheet metal and you can see the couple of rust spots that are on it. I love the rust--it adds to the whole raw western look.


I picked up this "M" at a metal store in Stephenville, TX called Wood n' Things. Love the selection of metal they have there, and I think this "M" was only $2.99 (they have a huge copper bathtub at this store . . . if I had $5k and a place to put it, it would be mine!). I bought the frame at Michael's when they were having a 50% off frames sale. It ended up going with the ruggedness of the "M" perfectly.

The wooden star that is hanging off this frame was added to balance the star tied to the large gold "M." I felt that two stars still didn't work (odd numbers always look better anyway), so I sat the rusted metal cut-out star on top of the frame. I'm glad that worked visually since I wasn't sure how I was going to combat the tilting the wooden star caused. The weight of both stars balanced the frame nicely.

Large Stencil "M"

I don't advocate buying a bunch of things at one time to decorate a space, as it rarely ends up being a representation of things you love. If it's rushed, it looks rushed. This is one of those surprise cases where I purchased multiple things for this area, and yet I still feel like it came together well.


When I was frame shopping for the other "M's" I was on my way out of Michael's when I saw a large stencil pack in their clearance "as-is" box near the cash registers. Normally over $25 dollars, the stencil pack was missing a few letters so it was discounted to $4.99. I ended up buying the frame at the same time and was so happy it all worked out.

The gold from the frame pulls in the gold from the large "M" and the black matches the "welcome" sign and other black "M's" I have on the wall.

The other great part is that I have a ton of stencils leftover, so I've enjoyed giving them away to people, usually in the same frame I have.

A hint . . . The black paper backing, which is in the frame behind the stencil, can be found in the poster board section at Michael's.

The Silver "M"

I mentioned before that I purchased this silver "M" at Target back when Cody and I were first married, and I'll admit, I didn't think I'd find a home for it as I'm kinda over the whole 00's everything-silver look (or however you say the first decade of 2000).


The large "M" was gold, this was silver. I had pretty much decided it would be going in the going-away pile when I found the frame you see above at Home Goods.

The "M" is about 3/4" deep and the frame is actually a shadow box. It came as you see it, with a warm-yellow straw background and a clip on top to hold a picture. When I got it home, I was relieved that the "M" (barely) fit, but the yellow background, even though it warmed up the cool silver very well, seemed a bit overwhelming. The "M" also appeared a little too short for the frame.

A quick look into my scrapbook paper stash and I cut a piece of vellum (another 00's trend in the scrapbook world) out and I liked the result. The vellum allowed the warmth of the yellow to come through, and also made the squareness of the "M" work within a rectangle frame.


Being Resourceful with What You Have (And Learning to Love Walmart)

One of my biggest goals of my blog is to show that you can have a nice home that looks like you want it to, without spending a crazy amount of money.

I had never really been aware of what I did, but I have a habit of seeing something I really like and finding a solution that works within my budget. I call it the "see it in Pottery Barn but buy it at Walmart" method.

I remember when our real estate agent in Illinois, who was a pretty high-maintenance woman, was shocked at the changes we did to our master bedroom. More on this later, but when she first saw it, we had our king-size mattresses on the floor of this huge room, a half-broken nightstand Cody had since he was in high school (or longer), and the antique dresser that matched our guest-bedroom furniture. She walked in and was pleasantly surprised with the changes that we had done--and everything I had bought was from Walmart and IKEA.

Taking you back even further is when Cody and I first got married in 2004. We really didn't have much at all. We were both still working at our minimum-wage college jobs and we had found a rental house outside of Dublin, TX for $500 a month. Even at that rock-bottom price, we did not have much extra at the end of the month.

The first two months at our rental house we used my sister's futon as a couch (she was back home for the summer and needed a place to sore it anyway). Knowing that we had to find something else soon, I ended up buying  this green couch from my boss for $50. As a nice gesture, they threw in their old love seat for free. The only problem: the love seat was covered with this horrible blue floral sheet-made-into-a-couch-cover fabric. Underneath that beauty was a brown swooshy-woodland fabric that was pretty old.


Time to get resourceful.

At Walmart I found a khaki canvas material for only $1 a yard! Score! I bought probably 10 yards or so. I then purchased a few packs of their upholstery nails (don't remember the price here) and got to work.

It was a huge task, but I took off the blue floral stuff and then slowly removed the brown fabric, stitching at all. I used it as a pattern and I literally recovered the couch myself (well, and Cody at some parts), using the upholstery nails to hold the front of the arms in place. The result:


(The only thing left to do was to turn the couch upside down, and using a stapler, attach the flaps leftover from the front arms)


I was really proud of myself for how it turned out. I had never done this before and I don't even think YouTube existed yet to try to find a how-to video.

We ended up moving four months after this and my snazzy new love seat didn't fit into our new apartment. So we set it up nice and pretty next to the dumpster, went to dinner, and came back to find it gone. I think not knowing what happened to it is good for me. I can pretend that it found a good home and is still going strong . . .

This goes to show you that with a little time and creativity, and a trip to Walmart, you can find ways to inexpensively make your home yours.


An Old Farm Table

Driving with no regards to time or any idea of where to go is a one of our favorite things to do. We did it in college—finding ourselves having lunch in Glen Rose, TX (we ended up hiring that restaurant to cater our wedding) or out on the country roads of Erath County. Once we moved to Illinois, we didn’t know anyone or have much to do, so we’d find ourselves driving through random towns and random country roads, with corn and soybeans everywhere you looked.

During one of those weekend drives in Illinois we stumbled across the town of Sandwich. We stopped at a coffee shop off of Highway 34/Church St, which was in this old house. Cute little town. When we drove a couple blocks further, we stumbled upon The Red Geranium General Store.

Some pictures my Dad took, back when my parents visited us in 2007, heading into the store:


On one of our early trips to the store, we came across an old farm table. It was $250 and for whatever reason, I didn’t get it. It was on my mind for the next few weeks/months but I had anticipated that it would already be sold when I went back. At Cody’s urging (he knows when I really want something) we went to Sandwich again to see if it was still available.

I cannot explain how excited I was to see the table not only still there, but 50% off—only $125. We bought it immediately, loaded it into our 2004 Nissan Xterra and headed home.

These initial pics are from April 2006 when we first brought the table home (notice our furniture-less formal living room and dining room):



Now this is crazy. Notice how long the table extends out.

I would love to somehow get similar leafs made so we can extend it more than it is.


In Illinois we ended up using it as our “eat-in” dining room table. These pictures are from August 2006:

The table runner and wire basket is from The Red Geranium General Store as well.

Now let’s talk about the chairs . . .

I bought the chairs at IKEA very soon after we purchased the table. I’d actually wanted the INGOLF chair over the OLLE chair, but at the time the INGOLF chair was $30 more per chair. At $29.99 (it’s now gone up to $34.99) the OLLE chair was a steal. I bought the “natural” color (no longer available) and started the time-consuming task of sanding off the shiny finish, painting the chairs navy blue, distressing and then re-glazing them.

It was a total pain in the butt. I confined myself to the garage on most days (I’m always cold and it’s always cold in Chicagoland) and it took weeks to complete (a little work here, a little work there).

Some things I would do differently:

  1. I did not sand the chairs enough from the get-go. I knew that I needed to “rough” the chairs up, so the paint would have something to stick to, but I did not get into all the cracks and crevices like I should have
  2. I would have purchased a better quality paint. I went to Wal-Mart and got the cheapest paint, which was really stupid. I really think I had to put around 4-5 coats on to make it as dark as it needed to be. The cheap paint as also very thin, so on some parts of the chair you can see paint drips
  3. I would have spray painted it, not brushed it on. This is an obvious thing to do, right? No idea why it did not cross my mind at the time
  4. I would have done my homework on the clear coating. I don’t remember what I used, but in some places it caused the paint to crackle. The combination of the paint and clear coating was obviously wrong
  5. I would not have overdone my distressing. I pretty much fixed all my mistakes by painting over them (thanks to Cody pointing out that I had sanded where paint wouldn’t naturally wear) but what a pain to do. Surely there was a YouTube video on distressing that could have helped out

Overall, I’m happy with the result. I still have the same setup that we had in Illinois here in our Texas house:

As we discuss redoing the kitchen, I’m seriously contemplating replacing the chairs (when we’d replace the barstools as well) but this old+new set has held up very well over the past four years. I haven’t grown tired of the runner or basket either (and I added the salt and pepper shakers in December 2007—found them at one of my favorite stores in Stephenville, TX). You can’t beat a $125 table that you just fall in love with. And with $29.99 chairs that challenge you to get resourceful.


The "M" Wall

I’m not much of a collector. I actually can’t think of one thing that I purposely seek out to collect, like giraffes (Cody’s grandma), Madame Alexander dolls (my little sister) or even something I’d love to collect, cake stands (my Mom).

But, I love collections. Collections of like items, whether it is in color, theme, etc. can make a dramatic statement in décor.

I purchased my first “M” at Target back in 2004. We had just moved from our college town to Dallas-Fort Worth and had only been married for about six months. During one of my shopping trips I spotted an end-cap full of silver metal initials. I just had to grab the “M.” (I ended up putting it on this horribly-ugly white floral shelf in our bedroom, next to a silver metal candlestick with a red candle. Wish I had a picture—you would agree that the shelf was ugly and silver-on-silver just didn’t work.)

Fast forward three or so years later and we’re living in Illinois. The silver “M” was likely stuck in a box still, or in a drawer. I know I wasn’t using it anywhere in our house. I then came across a ginormous gold-leaved “M” at Home Goods and fell in love with it. I put it alone on a shelf and was happy with the result.

Then, in 2008, we had a nine month transition from Illinois back to Texas (long story) and I kept coming across different “M’s” that just grabbed my attention. They were different sizes, shapes and colors and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. It was a challenge for me. Sometimes I can get so fixated on color or making things match, but they made me happy.

So after great internal debate, lots of shopping over a year, I’d like to introduce my “M” wall:


This works for me for a couple of reasons:

It Displays My (Unintentional) Collection
If you have a collection of any kind, or find yourself buying similar things over and over again, make your collection work in your home by grouping it together. I love all things “M” but, if I had placed pieces of my collection throughout my home, it wouldn’t have made as much of a statement as putting them together. Look around and see common and/or similar pieces and group them together. You’ll love the result.

The Colors Don’t Match, They “Go”
I think I first heard this on TLC’s “What Not to Wear” and it’s so true. Things don’t need to match. In fact, you want items to not match, but work together. The silver “M” is the only silver item on the wall. But, I used a white background against the western “M” which balances the starkness of the silver. I have a brown weathered frame for the western “M,” but a more modern black frame for the silver “M.” I think it works and it makes me happy.

I Can Keep Adding to My Collection
Uh oh—more “M’s”? You betcha. That’s the best part about a collection, is that you can add and it still works. I’m sure there will be a time where adding it to it will be too much, but I just don’t feel like I’m there yet.

Coming soon, more details on the pieces of my “M” wall and how it was put together.