A site about our home, doing it yourself, science in schools, and the ramblings of a girl who appreciates a joy in her life.

Wednesday, February 29

Putting yourself into decorating

Part of decorating a home is putting your heart into it. Over time I learned to move away from decorating to match things I had seen in store (Eat your heart out IKEA), and taking bits and pieces I had seen to make one whole cohesive element. I literally used to take a picture of a room and try to come as close as I could to it. I can tear walls out, rebuild a room, some electrical work and drywalling, but try to get me to decorate? I thought for sure that was only for the pros or those people out there naturally gifted with artistic talents. Coming from a very strong science background, I tend more towards straight angles, matched sets, and dichromatic color schemes. Putting a little spice and personality in to a space was hanging up some pictures.

Experience has definitely taught me to take some risks and to make decorating personal. One of my favorite projects highlights my life together with my husband and takes a task we used to do in grade school to a whole new level. Collages-memory boxes, etc. These stories in a box can seem hard but when you just decide to do it, you can make a great home decoration that is not only personal but honestly really cool too!

 My favorite collage box, is the one that holds all of our tassels. We get these great tassels for graduating, but its hard to find what to do with them. We did not really need a million pictures of us with our tassels hanging off of them hanging around the house. Plus, my husband and I are really proud of our educations and what those tassels represent. They meant too much to us to throw away or put in a box. My husband holds two Bachelor's degrees, one in Philosophy and one in Biology. he also has a Master's degree in Biology. I have a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry, and see that empty space to the right, well that is going to hold the tassel to my Master's degree in Environmental Science this summer-Stay tuned!

To make the box, I purchased a shallow memory box from Joann's for about $10.00. I covered the back of the board with scrap-booking paper. Because the tassels are so colorful, I wanted a neutral paper that while it would make a great accent would not stand out too much. The black and white letters are a fun play for education. I tried to hang the gold bars of each tassel at the same height, but since they are all slightly different sizes it make it kind of hard. (The matching tassels for 2004 and 2006 are because my husband and I went to the same undergraduate college.)
This past summer we went on a road trip down to California. Lets just say there were some highlights and quite a bit of low points. The best part of the trip for us (and Yes we went to Disneyland, however it was on the same day as all of the 5th, 8th, and 12th grades in LA!)  was our day spent in San Francisco. To make the box, I gathered everything that I had gotten that day together. 

I picked up the box at Joann's for about $9. It was an accidental purchase. I had meant to get a bigger box for a different collage. I then picked items that I thought fit well together and told the story of the day. I included a couple of the ticket stubs so it would say the date we went. I also put in two pictures that we took on the day to let people know that we had gone and it was not just a shrine to San Francisco. I used sticky baked Velcro tape to make the pieces stick to the board, and then used double sided tape to layer the pictures over each other. To get the nice map in the background, I refolded a tourist map of the places where we had gone, so it stood out more.
The very first collage box that I made had to do with our Hawaii trip. In 2009, we went on our very first big vacation as a couple. We came back with a lot of great memories and knick-knacks. It’s hard to have them all over though, so I wanted a way to put a few of them together to highlight some of our great memories. I got the deepest shadow box that I could find at Michael’s Craft Store. I then just started to layer in items until it had a nice look. I tied string from the top of the box to hang the shell necklaces from. In the bottom left corner is a little statue that always makes people laugh when they notice it. I decided to not put paper on the back, because I was worried that it might take away from the great things on top of it.

So really this whole post is just about how fun it’s been to find ways to make decorating our home personal. I like having the boxes up because it’s entertaining to explain them to people and when I see them I get to remember all the great memories that we had.

Tuesday, February 28

Creating a collection and making it work!

Our old front entrance.
New Front Entrance
So when you first walk into our house from the front door, you are greeted by our lovely living room. It’s nice and spacious and full of great accents (I think!). One of the issues I always had with it though was that directly across from the door is the wall that leads to the hallway.





At first I wanted to put pictures there. However that felt too cluttered, so down they went. Then we went to IKEA and looked at those neat wavy mirrors that they have, but at $15 each pair, and feeling like they were just not quite right for the space, we nixed that.

So really the wall sat empty for two years. We painted it grey and took down the horrible wood paneling that was there.  After some brainstorming with my husband, we decided that this summer we are going to remodel the kitchen and that wall will now become a half-way. However the summer is months away!  I want it to look more finished now. So when Joann’s had their entire fall home decorating accents on clearance, I went through and bought as many star shaped wall decorations as I could. I wanted to create the look of a collection without the price or making it match too much. I ended up spending about $20 on 4 stars. They came in all shapes and colors, including one that had a light textured pattern on it.




 I got home and I sprayed them with a satin-gloss black spray paint from Rust-oleum. I let them dry overnight and hung them up on the wall in a corner shape.  I feel like it adds a nice accent without being too heavy, and because the cost was not very much, when the wall comes down I won’t feel like I wasted a bunch of money.  The fact that they are all the same color makes them feel like a matched set without being too polished.






Often times, I really struggle with making everything in my house feel balanced. What I mean is, that I will put two of decorations, or hang things at 90 degree angles, or only use the same color. After I started to notice that I did that, it drove me nuts and I felt like it made the house look like it was decorated by someone who did not know what they were doing ( ok that’s the truth!).  I noticed that in house’s  that looked well decorated (like my Mom’s house), items were not too matchy matchy, and sometimes came in all hues and sizes.  I have definitely gotten more comments on decorations that were personal and unique than items that while they looked great, were a dime a dozen.

Monday, February 27

Make a Spectatular Sunburst Mirror-Almost free!


So I may have gotten a little bit addicted to Pinterst. Once on there, I got especially excited about the home decorating projects. I may be a little cheap, and any project that I can do for the smallest amount of money but the most bang, I will make it! So I got the idea to make a paint stick sunburst mirror from ourhumbleabowed.wordpress.com. They had instructions on their "make it your self" page. I liked the idea so it was off to Home Depot to abscond with as many paint sticks as I could at a time. Luckily the paint people at Home Depot really don't care how many paint sticks you take at a time. I needed about 50 paint sticks for the project, but I was too chicken to take them all at once, so we went to the store several times over several days, taking out puppy for walks. I was feeling very awkward taking 10-15 paint sticks but they just either completely ignored me or smiled and left it at that.

Once I gathered all the paint sticks, I went to Joann's to pick up a 10inch mirror. 10 inches seemed the right size for the length of the paint sticks. I laid them all to make sure that they would fit. The first mirror I made I use white acrylic paint to paint the top and sides of each stick. They dried really fast and the color was free as I already had the acrylic paint. You can pick up a large tube of white acrylic paint at a craft store for only a couple of dollars. I used maybe a quarter of a tube.

After painting all of the sticks, I laid them out around the mirror and made one layer. I cut all of those sticks (about 26) to 8 inches. I glued them on. I originally bought Gorilla Glue to glue the sticks to the mirror, but after a test run with on some scrap wood, I found that the Gorilla Glue expanded and made a really thick seal, that while really strong, added too much depth to the mirror. So I just used hot glue instead, which made a really nice seal with the acrylic paint. After I glued on the first row, I laid out the second row and cut all of the sticks to 10 inches. I placed a Frisbee on the back of the mirror to help me keep the sticks even while I glued them down. I just eyeballed the gluing, but I made sure to not just glue in one direction, but to stop and go to the other side every couple of sticks so that they would meet nicely in the middle. I used a scrap piece of wood as a hanger on the back of the mirror.


I thought that mirror looked great in our guest room. We have a very yellow room, and the white paint on the sticks made a great whitewashed look. The mirror cost only $4.99 to complete as the paint sticks were free, and I already had the hot glue and the paint. After I made the first mirror, I decided to try again but make the mirror for our living room. We have blue walls with silver and chocolate brown accents.


I picked up silver pray paint from Home Depot for $3.49 and a new mirror from Joann's (this time I used a 40% off coupon!). When I glued the mirror, sometimes the hot glue would pop off of the silver paint, so I lightly sanded the ends of the sticks so that the glue would stick better. I think that the mirror looks great in my house. The silver really sands out and almost looks metallic, but softer somehow. Let me know if you try the project yourself and post any great tips below.

Sunday, February 26

Repainting a chair so that it fits in with your style

So I have had this rocking chair since I was a kid. My Grandfather made it and painted my favorite color in the whole world-Red. Since my favorite color as a kid does not match the rest of my house so well, and while its been a great chair, we just have no room for anything that big that does not match the rest of our items. I was hesitant to get rid of the chair, and hoped it would be great to have in the future, so I decided to make the great leap and paint the chair white so it would match the rest of the colors in the guest room.



So after making the choice to paint the chair, I wanted to use a paint that would stand up to people actually using it. I choose Home Depot's Behr Paint and Primer in One for Interiors. I choose a marshmallow white color in a satin finish so that it could take the knocks and the dirt without looking too shiny in the room.


I made a back pillow for the chair using some leftover fabric that I had. Its a little small for the chair but I think it still works. It actually makes the whole chair more comfortable!

Saturday, February 25

Welcome!

Well here we are. Starting a blog. It’s all new and shiny. I never really wanted to start anything like this because I was worried that I would not be able to keep up on it or make a good looking product. However, my husband completely disagreed with me and put me in my place by getting me a blog of my own! He believes that I can do it, so I should too. I think that the way it will go, is I will try to post some of the great projects that we have done around the house. It may take me a while to get them done, but hopefully in a few months there will be some amazing tutorials on completing home decorating and improvement projects. I am super excited about it and want to post a million things up right now, but I should take my time and get it done right. Now I am off to scrub some old brass objects into shiny new silver objects. I will post some pictures soon hopefully!