Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Adding Fun Entertainment to a French Inspired Baby Shower

When planning a baby shower, we always include baby shower games.  While these are fun, there are additional ways to add some entertainment to your baby shower party.  As we hosted my friend's baby shower in a French Theme, we decided it would be fun to include a picture area. 

Shannon located a wall art decor piece of the Eiffel Tower.  As simple as that, our stage was set.  We stocked the area with fun dress up materials.  We included hats (located cheaply and then adorned with feathers), a mask (again created from feathers and glitter), boas, canes, mustaches and picture frames.

One of us broke the ice on that area and soon enough it was filled with lots of participants.  Most took this opportunity to take a picture with the Guest of Honor and on it went.  It added a touch of unexpected and entertainment to our baby shower.  The photos below are just a small sampling of the cameras going off in this area.

And continuing the theme of sustainability, the wall art decor can be recycled in the nursery or anywhere else the mommy to be may enjoy it displayed.

Etre un bon coup!

Literally translated it means 'being a good hit'.  The meaning actually refers to being good in bed...so careful when choosing your french quotes!  I will take the literal meaning for this post.

Creating the BEBE sign for a French Inspired Baby Shower

One of my best friends is pregnant and in need of a baby shower, of course.  So, we all took this as our opportunity to create a French Inspired Baby Shower for our friend.  Most of us met in french class in high school.  To this day, Meaghan will still randomly send an email in french (for which I hit the Internet to translate).

One of the items we all agreed on including was the BEBE sign originally created by Martha Stewart.

While certainly no Martha, I headed to Michael's to be inspired.

I picked up floral wire (thick gauge) and plastic flowers that could wrap around letters and match our color scheme.  Meaghan is having a baby boy, so I tried not to go crazy with flowers.  I also picked up some green floral tape to wrap around the letters.  I located some butterflies and birds as well as some ribbon.  I have hot glue at home so off I went.  I picked up way too much but I knew I could return what wasn't being used.

I started by creating the "b" in lower case and shaped the floral wire into the "b" shape.

I then did the same to create a matching "b" and two "e's".  Once those items were complete (this took a little while as I kept changing my mind as to size) I applied the green, floral tape to each letter.

The floral tape helped complete the shapes and create a backdrop for the flowers.  I started searching in my pile of flowers for what inspired in the moment.  I cut and attached accordingly. 

Then I added a little bling with my butterfly.  This also assisted in hiding an area of hot glue I did not want showing.

Once the first letter was complete, I used the color pattern with the remaining letters.  This time I approached each one in the order it would hang.

Upon completion of all letters, I attached some blue, gauzy ribbon and hung my art for any final touches I may need to make.

The nice thing about this type of decor as well as others created for the party, this can be recycled into decor for the nursery.  Until the day he wakes up and tells his mommy he doesn't want flowers in his man cave anymore.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Becoming Inspired By Another's Art: Creating Your Own Artpiece

A few months ago, one of my best friends sent me a link to Pinterest with a piece of art she wanted.  However, she wanted me to create it.  I said...sure, no problem.  A few months passed and the opportunity presented itself to create the art piece.  Another best friend of mine decided on completing a project together.  She is very skilled with sketching and I make an effort to be skilled in painting and creativity.  So, we combined our resources and set on our course to surprise Shannon with her very own art piece.

First, allow me to introduce the artwork that started us down the path and caught the attention of Shannon.

This is a piece by artist Monica Furlow titled Button Tree 0006.  This is one piece among many that draw out the spirit of artistry enchanted by childhood and imagination.  Taking an item in nature and embedding childhood imagination in the story is what inspired Leah and I on our quest.

Rather than trying to recreate an exact replica, we chose to use this as an inspiration or springboard for our own artistic creativity while keeping Shannon and her personality in mind.  So, we set on our quest to see if we could accomplish this artistic feat.

We began by utilizing Leah's skill with sketching.  She is very serious in this process and wanted to make sure she did the artist justice.  She focused on sketching the tree for which we would paint around.

We then headed to the background.  Mixing the acrylic paint colors together and trying to find depth in the background was fun.  I used a paint brush to complete this process.  The beautiful part of this coloring experience is NOT having to always stay in the lines.  Rather it was fun letting the paint dictate the lines.

The next endeavor in our mission was the background within the tree itself.  Mixing the colors was an experiment in trying to blend with our background, but allow it to stand out on its own.  We added more blues in this arena to add a bit of personality.

From there, it was the tree itself.  In staying within the parameters set by Monica Furlow's drawing, depth was important.  This particular task took a bit of time.  The mixtures of purple and grey with white and black allowed for that depth to shine.

In consideration of every tree with the ability to have leaves, we chose to fill in the tree leaves even though we knew we would be doing a lot of work on top of that paint.  With a sponge purchased from the art store for a dollar, we mixed a color together for this level of the painting.  I guarantee you there were very few base colors used in this painting.  Part of the artistic mark, was creating our own colors as we went by mixing some magic.

While the top half dried, we started plotting our attack on the wispy and dramatic grass in Monica Furlow's painting.  We decided to go a little more dramatic and let the colors do the talking in our painting.  It may not show as much balance as her artwork does, but it fit our mood and what we knew Shannon would love.

More color mixing happened.  We also edited a fan style paint brush by cutting pieces out to offer a more dramatic stroke and less work in the end.

While Leah had been panicking during day one, my turn was in day two.  I was worried about the incredible green shade I had chosen.  But, by continuing with layering of colors, we found what we were trying to reach.  We layered colors upon colors.

Now, for the piece de la resistance!  We had been debating about whether Monica Furlow had painted the buttons or used real buttons.  I still believe they are painted.  We decided to use real buttons.  Incredibly charismatic buttons that would create balance with the moodiness and reality of everything else within the painting.  This is when we reached into our inner child and played.  It almost gave the Virgo within me an anxiety attack, but I let that go as we let our creativity and mission come to fruition.

Hot glue gun and hundreds of buttons in hand, we continued our mission.

Yes, we used real buttons.  We located bags of miscellaneous buttons at Michaels.  We then selected a few other buttons we knew Shannon would like specifically (tie dye peace sign buttons).  We laid them out and then set to hot gluing them.  The only mission was to not have the same buttons in one area or too much of the same color.

We also added a little more of Shannon's free spirit and humor in the mix by adding the frog, butterfly and dragonfly buttons as supporting characters.

We signed our picture and surprised her the next day at our friend Meaghan's house while planning her baby shower.  I told Leah that Shannon would cry.  She didn't believe me, but sure enough she cried.  She was so surprised and in love with our interpretation of the painting she had fallen in love with earlier this year.

So, I am not sure there is a moral of this story, other than go for it.  And just because you are working from someone else's work does not mean it needs to be a replica.  There is much joy in taking an inspiration and making it your own for someone else who is so deserving.  I would hope that the artist would find it a compliment that her work inspired amateur artists to go for it!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Office Redo Inspired By a Temper and a Painting

I admit I can have a bit of a temper.  A lot of time this flare up of my temper is after a time frame of pent up frustrations.  The smallest frustration at a certain point can cause my temper to surface.  In response to this I sometimes sulk or yell.  Every once in a while, I use my temper for good and not evil.  My Office Redo is one of those cases.

I was in a temper at my boyfriend at the time and was walking by my "office", which at the time was nothing but a room with junk and bad carpet (disgusting really).  So, for some unknown reason, I found a razor blade in the garage and proceeded to rip the carpet out.  I spent hours moving furniture into the bedroom, rolling up carpet and avoiding assistance to carry the garbage carpet down the stairs.  Once I was finished...I had no idea what to do with the room.  While the offensive and smelly carpet was gone, I had nothing to replace it.

Evidence #1 - Mid carpet removal and I started taking pictures of the disaster.
Evidence #2 - Junk, junk and more junk as well as a whole lot of white.
Evidence #3 - The adornment above the closet was the leftover plastic from the ceiling redo...several years earlier.
In speaking with my ever helpful mother, she told me she had purchased some laminate flooring she was no longer going to use.  And, things started to click.  The baseboards would come out and be replaced.  I am a firm believer that is the fastest and easiest face lift to a room.  The walls needed painting and the room needed a big purge session. 

I have a painting that used to be in my grandmother's office that has always held my attention.  It reminds me of one of my favorite poets, Robert Frost, and his poem The Road Not Taken.  So, this would be my inspiration piece for the room and I would draw warmth and browns from the piece.

My inspiration piece.
The color for the walls I chose is called Tender Twig.  I loved the color, but I may have loved the name more!  All the walls were painted and the flooring was going in.  Please note in the picture the underlay is actually upside down.  This is a big no-no as this can create shifting of the flooring later on as I found out.

Do not lay your underlay upside down.
Clean, white baseboards were put in using a circular saw and a family friend.  New door base was also added to give the feel of luxury.

Lowes actually has door moulding kits that are pretty cheap.  Next I need to dress up other areas of the room.  I went to TJ Maxx, Burlington and Ross and located some wicker baskets for closet storage.  I also located some unique and a little "mismatchy" items to place above the closet.  I am not a big fan of using fake plants, because I don't want to dust them.

I chose some items a little outside and inside the scheme of the room's decor.
Closet reorganization.
Keeping the existing shelving, I painted a fresh coat of paint.  I also removed the clunky doors and added artistic linens using linens from Anna's Linens in two colors and a curtain rod.  Some tie backs were used to swag the space and offer an open feel.

The desk area was also cleaned up and adorned with a rich piece of art.  I love the look and feel of maps as they remind me of history and travel.  I also added a bit of differing texture in the room using a shag style rug that is still low key enough it works well.  I also like working on the computer without shoes, because of the rug.

This shot was mid clean up.  I also donated the Nintendo video games and am still in trouble with my brother.
I cleaned up a work space that is a scrap booking table.  This is great for storage.  It is also on wheels and can open up even further.  I may still dress the window.  I just have not been able to commit to a linen yet.  I am thinking some solid to contrast the linens used on the closet.

Finally, I added personal items to the room.  This includes some caricature drawings.  I love the personality and unexpected that they add to the room.

Moral of the story: every once in a while your temper may be a good thing?  Not sure if those are words to live by as this type of project start and finish is not always the result nor is it guaranteed.  I enjoy the space and love the touches that exist every once in a while that almost do not appear to belong.

This particular room was done a few years ago and is under review for some more updates.  I think the chaise may be replaced with a futon lounger so the room may double as a guest room.  But, then again, I may change my mind a couple more times.  And, that is just fine.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Creatively Thrifting

A year ago, I would not imagine myself completely addicted to thrifting.  But, here we are...I love finding deals.  I love finding homes for discarded items and I love thinking outside the box for these items.  Most of the time, the items I locate require some work with paint, cleaners, re-working, etc.  Every now and then, the thrifting angels smile upon me and it is only a matter of making it happen.

This weekend my mother, a friend and myself set out for thrifting following my triangulation scheme of preferred stores.  At Goodwill, I located some iron items that seemed fit for my Tuscan inspired dining area. 

I currently have a beautiful, large mirror from my great-grandmother's house in the dining room, but some adornment would work wonders.  Some beautiful ironwork would be a great offset to the gold, but can be pricey.

As luck would have it...there were some plant holders in iron for $3 a piece at Goodwill.  Also, nearby I located some iron candle holders that I envisioned to round out the look of my adornments.  These were $2 each.  So, my thoughts take me to getting a great look for $10 without additional work.

I cleaned the pieces up with soap and water and got to making my vision happen.  The cashier at Goodwill informed me the pieces were for plants.  I told her I needed them for wall decor.  She stared at me a moment and then said, "Well, if you are creative, that could work."  The gauntlet was thrown down in that moment!

Votives are the missing element here.  I picked up 6 for .50 each at Walmart.  They did not fit quite right and I have another candle piece with Amber votives that work perfect.  I traded the amber votives from the other piece with the new votives from Walmart.  Voila!  There is light and ambience that matches the intended look.

I love putting my own touch on the items as I redress my house, but sometimes it is nice when they just fall into place.  A little creativity and this wall is complete.  I can't believe anyone wanted to just use the top pieces as plant holders.  I was shocked those were the purpose as I only saw them in the space as decor.

To each their own.  As long as you follow whatever may be "your own" there will be success in your endeavors.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

How To Transform Kitchen Cabinets Cheaply

I have a very small kitchen and had the wonderful idea of painting it a deep red when I moved in.  As time has passed, I realized my mistake and that the color was drowning out my kitchen.  Plus, my cabinets are cheap and yellowy in color.  So, transformation time in my kitchen.

First necessity was a paint color.  I needed something to work with my living area while defining my kitchen space. I was looking for a more elegant and chilled out color.  So, I went to Home Depot and picked up samples in peach and brown.  I painted them on a wall and selected Applesauce Cake by Behr.  The nice thing about samples... they are a couple dollars a piece and help ensure that you are happy with your decision before putting a lot of money and work into the wrong paint color.

Applesauce Cake by Behr
Next thought...cabinets.  I am not in the market to spend a lot of money so buying new cabinets was not the ideal decision.  The decision process first started with: to STAIN or to PAINT the cabinets.  After doing some research, it turned out the decision was fairly simple.  If you appreciate the wood grain then stain.  If you don't care about the wood grain then paint.  I selected the paint option.

Going back to Home Depot, I selected several samples ranging from mahogany to brown.  I painted the samples on the interior of the cabinet and selected rich mahogany.

Take the cabinets down with a drill by removing the screws that hold up the brackets for the cabinets.  The cabinet inserts can be removed at this time and not painted if you plan on replacing them.  Using a skill saw you can cut out the inserts.  Also, remove the inner ledge from the cabinet doors.  Saving these inserts will assist in cutting out the replacement pieces. 

Paint one coat, let it dry overnight and paint another coat.  Add polyurethane as you deem necessary for the sheen you are grabbing.  I selected satin paint for ease of cleaning, but opted to add some polyurethane to contain the color better and add more sheen.

While the cabinets are down, also paint the cabinet structure with two coats of paint.

Spray paint the brackets while they are off the cabinets.  I used black spray paint. Again, two coats are recommended. 

Upon drying use the brackets and drill to screw the doors back into the cabinet structure.

If you are using something else for the cabinet inserts, now is the time to get busy on those pieces.  In this case, I elected to use polycarbonate glass.  One piece worked for all of my upper cabinets and can be located at Home Depot for $50. 

The nice thing about polycarbonate glass is that it is light but still sturdy, economical and can easily be worked into a design.  I found that the beveled glass inserts were about $25 per square foot.  Polycarbonate sounded better and better to me!

Using a circular saw, you can cut the polycarbonate glass to fit the inserts you have saved from the cabinets.  Some articles lead you to believe that a razor can be used to cut this glass and that is WRONG.  You need something sturdier.

I ordered some regular glass film from WalMart.  You may need fancier and more expensive cabinet glass film if your cabinets have a lot of direct sunlight.  If not, then you can use the $25 per roll selection that I grabbed.  I order in Mosaic and waited the week for it to be delivered to the store.  I ordered two rolls, but only needed one.  This can easily be returned to your Walmart store by grabbing an online return receipt from the website.

The scene is set...a squeegee, spray bottle with water, glass cleaner, razor and the Lexan polycarbonate glass cut to fit the cabinets.  First, clean the polycarbonate glass and then spray with water.

You can actually use less water than pictured above.  Actually, it is better to use less water as the film will become slippery.

Unroll the film on the table, place the polycarbonate glass on top and use the razor to outline the glass and cut through the film. 

Remove the backing and place on the glass.  You can continue to place the film until you have the fit you want.  The nice thing with this process is that there is not any glue application, which allows some room for initial error.

Spray the top of the film with some more water.  Then, using the squeegee, lightly but deftly flatten the film out until it fits perfectly to the glass.  Keep in mind, there is not glue involved so it can still slip.  This process is dependant on static from the polycarbonate glass and the water application.

I also used a paper towel to clean the excess water from the top.  Then, flip over the glass and trim the remainder of the film using the razor knife.

Once completed, place in the divot of the cabinet.  You can use masking tape to hold the piece in place while you apply the glue.

We used Tub & Tile sealant in clear as the glue to place the glass.  Using the sealant, apply a line of sealant to the bottom and top of the glass on the interior of the cabinet.  The sealant needs to be used on the glass portion of the insert and NOT on the film itself. 

Leave the film facing out.  This will allow for easy clean up in the future as well.  A nice note to this process, is knowing that fingerprints will not be an issue down the road as it would be with actual glass.

Continue to use the masking tape while the sealant dries.  Allow to dry overnight and then apply a second coat and remove the masking tape.

Adding hardware can do great things for cabinets, as well.  It also reduces the need for additional clean up as paws will only be working with the hardware rather than the entire door.  I located a set on EBay for $20 and used it for all of my cabinets and drawers.  Drill a hole and attach using the screws that come with the hardware.

Voila!  $95 gave my kitchen cabinets the uplift they needed including the hardware.  Now, I am adding to my to do list...the painting of the shelf lips.  Also, during this makeover, I updated with decor above my cabinets (see previous blog).

A big journey for my kitchen cabinets, but I feel like they are all grown up!!

Now onto the appliances...I think black will do nicely.  And, no...I will not be replacing them.  I checked out black appliance paint and it is $30 for a six pack.  I smell some more home redressing!