DIY Fall Wreath

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Hi, friends!  I’m so excited that Fall weather has finally graced us in Delaware, and it feels like it’s here to stay for at least a few weeks (fingers crossed).  There is so much to love about this time of year – from the clothes (plaid, sweaters, and scarves? Yes, please!) to warm, nature-inspired hues to soothing mugs of mulled apple cider.  Everything about the Autumn season feels so cozy.

This weekend, I decided it was time to Fall-ready our front porch, so I picked up a cart full of hearty mums in deep shades of yellow, orange, and burgundy, along with a few pumpkins in varying shapes and sizes to line our front steps.  The only thing missing was a big, bountiful Fall wreath to hang on our door.  Although there are a lot of pretty and affordable store-bought wreath options available, I was having trouble finding one in the exact style I wanted – bold and colorful, but not too country or too modern.  I decided a DIY option was my best option (as is so often the case)!

Here is how I assembled my easy DIY Fall wreath:

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To start, I laid out all of my supplies.  The options and variations are endless, but in general, you will need a base wreath of some sort (I used a traditional grapevine wreath that you can pick up at any craft store), artificial foliage, flowers, berries, etc. (you can really use your imagination here and have fun experimenting with colors and textures), a cutting tool to trim the foliage (wire cutters or heavy-duty scissors work best), and floral wire (available at craft stores) to secure stems in place.  It may also be helpful to have a hot glue gun on standby, depending on the size and shape of your accouterments, but I didn’t need to use one, since the stems I chose were larger and could be tucked securely into the grapevine wreath without the aid of an adhesive.

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I started by affixing grassy pieces of wheat around the wreath to serve as a backdrop for the brighter foliage.  My basic plan for the wreath was to have the foliage radiating out from a focal point in the lower right segment of the wreath.  I wanted a look that was random, but controlled (i.e. not a perfectly repeating pattern around the entire circle).  The grapevine wreath was a very user-friendly canvas; most of the stems could be inserted simply by pushing them into the desired area, and they stayed snugly in place as-is, without the need to affix them further.  To secure any stems that felt like they might wiggle around if left to their own devices, I cut a small length of floral wire (about 6 inches) and wrapped it around the stem (photo 1 above) and out the back side of the wreath, pulling the wire taut against the stem to hold it in place (photo 2).  I twisted the ends of the wire together several times (photo 3), cut off the excess, and tucked the end into the back of the wreath.  Below is a photo of the wreath with all of the wheat/grass in place.

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Now, for some color!  I repeated this process several times with varying styles and shades of Fall foliage, trying to keep the arrangement of shapes and colors random in a way that was pleasing to the eye.

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Once all of the foliage was in place, I added groupings of brightly-colored flowers, berries, and wispy orange grasses (a little whimsy here goes a long way to keep the overall arrangement from looking too stuffy).

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For a finishing touch, I tied a long ribbon around the top of the wreath into a loose, cascading bow, and there you have it – a lovely and deceivingly simple DIY Fall wreath.  The best part?  Your neighbors will never know you threw it together in less time than it takes to watch one of your shows on Netflix.  Shhh – we won’t tell! :)

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I hope you all give this DIY a try.  Feel free to tag me in your Instagram photos (@startingoutinstyle) or on Twitter (@StartingOIStyle) – I’d love to see your awesome Fall-fabulous creations!

Happy crafting,

Meg

Crafty Playroom Makeover

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My soon-to-be stepdaughter and all-around awesome kiddo, Aubrey, celebrated her 8th birthday recently, and as my gift to her, I decided to create a fun playroom/craft space in our finished basement.  Until now, the space had been used mostly as storage for her toy overflow and was completely utilitarian.  My goal was to turn the sterile-looking space into a bright, cheerful room where she would be excited to play with her friends, do arts and crafts, and feel like she had a special hangout spot in the house that was truly “hers”.

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{Artwork and Marquee Letter Source: Ross Stores}

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Since one of the main uses of the space would be for arts and crafts, I made sure to fill the room with items that were easy to clean (or inexpensive to replace if needed).  I avoided anything too precious, because let’s be honest, it’s likely that everything will wind up with paint or marker on it at some point.  In real life, kids are messy…and that’s ok!  My goal, though, was to give Aubrey a place to store each type of item (puzzles, crayons, books, etc.), so it would be easier for her to make a habit of keeping things tidy.

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{Sources: coffee table – Ikea (older); party banner, bookshelf, and rug – all from Target; “create” wall decor – JoAnn Fabrics; floor pillows and wooden planter box – Ross Stores; metal magazine rack – Marshalls/Home Goods}

IMG_2920At the center of the room is a smooth-surfaced coffee table that, with the addition of a few fun floor pillows, serves as a perfect spot to draw, paint, and work on craft projects.  A wooden planter box at the center of the table keeps all of Aubrey’s colored pencils, markers, and paint brushes within easy reach.  Larger supplies, such as paints and drawing pads, are tucked away neatly in the bookshelf.

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{Sources: bulletin board – Marshalls/Home Goods; table – local vintage store}

I tucked a small vintage nightstand and bulletin board into a corner of the room to turn this once-wasted space into a spot where Aubrey can display her favorite artwork.  The inside of the nightstand holds larger games and Lego sets and really helps to turn this awkward corner into a functional space.

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On the other side of the doorway, I hung a couple of maps to give the room a little bit of a classroom vibe (which Aubrey loves)!

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{Sources: chairs and striped rug – Target; supplies for wall embroidery hoop DIY – JoAnn Fabrics; Oscar Schmidt ukulele – Musician’s Friend}

On the far side of the room, I created a little seating area featuring two folding circle chairs centered around a colorful striped throw rug where Aubrey (or her grown-ups, for that matter!) can sit and read or watch TV.  The chairs are comfortable but lightweight enough to be moved around as needed, making them a great option for this type of multi-purpose room.

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For some colorful and inexpensive artwork, I created the above wall-hangings in what was one of my favorite and easiest DIY projects ever.  The only supplies needed were: 1) embroidery hoops of varying sizes (these can be purchased at any craft or fabric store); 2) scissors; and 3) fabric.  For an extra thrifty touch, instead of using traditional fabric purchased by the yard, I repurposed the fabric from a reusable shopping bag I picked up for around a dollar at the craft store.  The entire project cost around $5.00 and took me less than 10 minutes (including hanging time!).  I simply affixed the fabric inside the embroidery hoops, trimmed away the excess, and hung them on the wall.  That’s it!  As far as DIY projects go, this one was almost embarrassingly easy, but it adds such a great pop of color to the room and echoes the crafty motif.

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For some equally simple and high impact wall decor, I hung this festive party garland above the TV.  Throughout the entire room, I tried to keep the main wall and furniture colors relatively neutral and rely on accents like throw rugs, pillows, and wall decor to bring fun pops of neon pink, orange, and teal to the room.  This way, as Aubrey’s tastes change (as they inevitably will), it will be easy to swap out pieces and give the space a fresh look without a lot of effort or expense.

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Aubrey loves her new playroom.  Here she is showing off our first masterpieces completed the night of her birthday.  She has already had her friends from the neighborhood over to play in the new space and is enjoying putting little decorating touches on it to really make it her own.  It makes me so happy to see her using and enjoying the space…even if that means we get a little paint on the floor now and then. :)

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I’d love to hear your favorite ideas for decorating kid-friendly spaces and how you keep them looking tidy(ish).  Share your tips in the comments – I look forward to hearing from you!

Happy crafting!

Meg

 

Falling in Like with Our Sitting Room

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Since moving into our home a little over a year ago, we’ve debated what to do with the awkward little room off of our entryway.  I deemed this room the “sitting room” (though we don’t actually do much sitting here), because that had a nicer ring to it than the “wasted space room”.  It’s too small to use as a proper living or dining room, and since it’s the first thing you see when you enter the house, we’d rather not use it for an office or playroom (i.e. anything likely to greet you with a collection of clutter when you first step through the door).  We need to give the room a dedicated purpose, but I just haven’t loved anything we’ve tried in the space yet.  This past weekend, though, I decided to give the space an early Valentine’s Day treatment, and I think I may have finally stumbled upon a solution to this decorating dilemma that I love like very much.

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I decided to use some of my favorite leather-bound books as a backdrop for some V-Day themed decor, and the more I arranged and rearranged the shelves of our little vintage cabinet, the more I liked the idea of using this space as a home library – a cozy (electronic-free) corner of the house to sit and read, enjoy a quiet cup of coffee, and showcase my dear collection of leather-bound classics.  The books you see here are just a small part of a larger collection, so I can envision us eventually replacing the small cabinet with a much larger bookshelf or custom built-ins.  I think we’ll live with the current setup for a while to see if the home library might be the winning solution for our awkward little space, but for now, I am very much in like with the idea.

Here are the details on the current setup, including a quick tutorial on how I made the chalkboard using a reclaimed vintage door:

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For starters, this room is very much a work in progress.  The wall color, carpeting, and window treatments were the previous owners’ choosing, and they are on our list to be updated.  Until then, we’re trying to make the most out of the bland-on-bland color palette.  At the center of the room is a vintage glass-doored cabinet, a $40 Craigslist find that JC and I repaired and then refinished with distressed layers of cottage white and elephant gray paint.  This little piece holds a special place in my heart, since it’s the first DIY project that JC and I worked on together.  That being said, it makes a fitting centerpiece for my V-Day inspired arrangement.

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My goal was to fill the shelves with items that were sentimental or love-inspired without going overboard.  I wanted to give a nod to the holiday without venturing into full-on Hallmark mode.  (It’s a fine line sometimes).  I started by arranging small groupings of books along the shelves.  At first I used only red books but felt I needed some contrast to keep the arrangement from looking too formal (a little maroon leather and gold gilding goes a long way).  I then filled in the remaining space with photos and other decorative items including a pretty soap dish I found to hold chalk and our DIY “date jar” (more details on that another time).  Along the front of the cabinet, I secured two ribbons and used mini clothespins to hang some sweet family photos.

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I brought in a club chair to flank the cabinet, along with a gray storage ottoman to house some less display-worthy books and magazines.  I accented the chair with a pink and gray pillow, a cozy throw blanket, and a couple stuffed animals for a sweet touch.  I can’t wait to have a quiet morning free, so I can cuddle up here with a good book!

Behind the chair and resting against the wall is a chalkboard I made using a vintage reclaimed door I picked up from a local resale shop for $20.  The quote – “Love actually is all around” – is from the movie Love Actually, which is one of our all-time favorites.

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Before painting the door, I gave it a very thorough cleaning, making sure to knock off any chipped or loose paint, so my chalkboard surface would be nice and smooth.  If the door had layers of glossy paint or a very uneven finish, I would have chosen to do more prep work, but because it had a smooth, matte finish, I didn’t feel the need to sand or prime it.  I used Krylon low odor chalkboard paint, so as you can see in the photos above, I was able to paint right in my living room with the door cracked for ventilation.  (It’s freezing this time of year in the Northeast, so I try to avoid working outside or in the garage at all costs!)  Because the inset panels of my door had a nice defined edge, I was able to easily cut in the outside border of paint without the assistance of painter’s tape (bonus!).  Once the outside border was painted, I went back and filled in the center space.  As you can see above, the first coat was very thin.  I ended up needing three coats of chalkboard paint to get the coverage I wanted, making sure to let the paint dry thoroughly between coats.  Remember, your end result will be much more durable if you do several thin coats rather than one thick coat.  Once the final coat was dry, the chalkboard was ready to use – no need to do a seal coat with chalkboard paint (double bonus!).

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I found the above chalk pastels at Target, and they worked really well on my painted chalkboard surface.  I made sure to test the chalk out in an inconspicuous corner to make sure it would erase.  Don’t forget this step!  You don’t want to go to all of the trouble of painting your chalkboard only to have to paint it again, because your chalk won’t wipe off!

I think my first chalkboard design came out ok, but it took me so much time to freehand my lettering.  I have a whole new level of appreciation for my school teachers who were able to write so legibly on the chalkboards day in and day out – it’s not easy!

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The source of the quote, Love Actually, is all about the different types of love to be found – romantic love, the love of a father for a child, the love of a longtime friend – and that felt like the perfect expression for our home and our little family unit made up of me, my boyfriend (and longtime best friend) JC, and his daughter A.

We are still learning to love our house, room by room, as we make it our own.  Some rooms were love at first site, and some, like our little sitting room, we have grown to like more and more over time, with a little trial and error and lot of patience.  The fun is in the process, though, and we couldn’t be happier to be living under this roof – quirky rooms and all – together.

Wishing all of you a love-filled season, from our home to yours.

Xoxo Meg

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Dining Room Progress Report

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Happy 4th of July Friday, everyone!  After a bit of a hiatus {due to starting a new job}, I’m happy to be back on the blog and excited to share some progress we’ve made in our dining room.  We’re only halfway through the projects we have planned for the space, and already the room is feeling brighter and more inviting.  I can’t wait to see the end result once all of the final decorative touches are added.  In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to share what we’ve done so far…

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As you can see in the “before” photos above, when we moved in, the walls were painted a dingy salmon pink and were littered from end to end with large nail and wall anchor holes.  We repaired the walls and gave them a fresh coat of paint {Tinsmith by Sherwin Williams}, which did wonders to open up the space.  Paint is always a great way to add big impact without spending a lot of money.  Case in point: our dining room table.

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When we bought the new house, JC’s parents graciously gave us their kitchen table set.  Since the finish had some wear and tear, we decided the table and chairs would make a great DIY makeover project.  We didn’t have much of a plan in mind when we went to pick out paint colors beyond wanting something to compliment the new wall color.  After a good hour or so of indecisive hovering over the Home Depot paint counter, we finally settled on a combination of a dark gray-brown and a silvery light blue (Behr Premium Semi-gloss in Burl and Millennium Silver, respectively).

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In the photos above, you can see the “before” table {a cream painted finish with light wood top and drawer pulls} in the process of being painted by me this past Winter {as evidenced by my hat, vest, and holiday coffee!}.  A few coats of paint transformed the table from a country basic to a fresh, modern piece to suit our new space.  My favorite detail, though, has to be the new metal drawer pulls, which bring a nice textural element to the room.

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Now that the walls and table are finished, our next step is to either refinish the matching chairs {which we’re currently using as-is} or find new chairs to compliment the table.  I think I’d like to incorporate some upholstered parsons-style chairs or something in a metal or natural fiber to add another layer of texture to the room, but I’m still searching for the perfect solution. {You just know it when you see it, right?}

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Our remaining projects for the room include refinishing a vintage buffet/sideboard we found to go on the far wall {under the painting currently hanging above}, replacing the underwhelming fluorescent light fixture over the table, and then – my favorite part – adding all of the fun, decorative accents like art, window treatments, and décor pieces.  In the long term, we would also love to replace the wall-to-wall carpeting with all hardwood flooring, but for now, we’ll make the best of what we have.

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What do you think?  We still have some work ahead of us, but I’m happy with how things are progressing.  I’d love to hear how you would finish the space.  What would you choose for seating, lighting, window treatments, etc.?  I can’t wait to read your suggestions!

Wishing everyone a happy, fun & safe Independence Day Weekend!

~Megan

 

Quick & Easy Ottoman Update

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When we moved into our new house, the walls in our main living space {living room, dining room and kitchen} were a dull shade of salmon pink, which made the whole downstairs feel dark and dated.  I just finished painting the living room a crisp shade of gray {Sherwin-Williams Tinsmith}, and the space already feels so much brighter and refreshed.  To compliment the spiffy new fireplace wall, I decided to create a little seating area where we could sit by the fire, read, or enjoy a cup of coffee.  After finding an armchair to fit the space, I started looking for a small ottoman that could double as a side table or extra seating when needed but wouldn’t obstruct the view of the fireplace.

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I found this little stool at Ross {if you don’t have one in your area, it is similar to a T.J.Maxx or Marshalls}.  Though the Roman-themed fabric did not match the aesthetic I had in mind, I loved the metal base, and at under $30, the price was right.  I checked to make sure the seat was removable, and since it was, I knew it would be a cinch to reupholster.  For the new fabric, I turned to a slightly unconventional source – a pillow case!  While at Ross, I stumbled upon a discount sheet set, which featured a small geometric print in the perfect shade of blue to compliment my color scheme.  I was sold!

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Supplies used:

  • Stool with removable seat
  • Screwdriver
  • Fabric {I used a pillow case, but if you are buying fabric by the yard, how much you will need will depend on the size of your stool.  For most purposes, a half yard to a yard will be more than enough fabric.}
  • Sharpie or something to draw an outline on your fabric
  • Scissors
  • Staple gun

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1) To begin, I removed the seat from the stool.  The seat was attached with 4 screws, so I just had to unscrew them using a Phillips-head screwdriver.  2 & 3) I then spread out my fabric, wrong side up, under the seat.  4) I drew a circle roughly three inches around the seat and then cut the excess fabric.

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5) With the seat facing right side down, I pulled the fabric taught and stapled it to the bottom of the seat.  6) I then pulled the fabric taught on the opposite side of the circle from where I had just stapled and, after checking the front of the seat for any wrinkles, I stapled the fabric in place to the back of the seat. 7) I continued in this manner – stapling one side, pulling it taught, checking for wrinkles, and then stapling the opposite side –  until I had worked my way around the entire circle.  8) Once the fabric was securely stapled to the bottom of the seat, I flipped it over once again to smooth any wrinkles. {You see a theme here, don’t you?}

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Next, I trimmed away the excess fabric from the bottom of the seat and reattached the seat to the stool base.  Easy peasy!

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Et voila – that’s all there is to it!  The whole project took less than 30 minutes {and it only took that long, because I was stopping to photograph each step}.  I am really pleased with the finished product, and it goes perfectly with my new chair and freshly painted gray walls.  I have already used it as a footstool and a handy spot to rest my coffee, and I can’t believe the whole project cost less than $40!  I have seen similar metal stools selling for four times that price, so I consider this a major win in the budget-friendly decorating department.

What do you think?  Have you ever tried this technique to give new life to old stools, dining chairs, etc.?  How did it turn out?  I’d love to hear from you!

Meg