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DIY | Manolo for the Home - Part 4
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Poll: Does Finished Really Mean Finished?

I have a good friend who moved into her house (which is a lot like mine in terms of size and shape except for a few additions and swapped doorways) way before I did but has way more bare walls and surfaces not being used to display stuff. My impression was always that her decor choices were entirely intentional. While I can’t seem to see a bare wall or buffet top without immediately thinking of something that would just be perfect there, I also like the clean, uncluttered look that many people prefer. As it turns out, however, my friend’s decor style actually isn’t her style!

She admitted to me one day that there are all kinds of things she wants to do to her house to make it her own. But she doesn’t actually want to do any of them until she can do all of them because she doesn’t like that ‘in transition’ feeling. She’s much more interested in achieving what I call a finished-finished look, i.e., a decor scheme that is put in place and then remains unaltered until it’s time for a complete overhaul. I, on the other hand, am one of those people who is always shopping her own house for things that would fit better in other rooms. I don’t know quite how I want everything to look, but I know it when I see it, enabling me to take advantage of things like $1 signs at the thrift shop.

My friend has a concrete idea for her home. My dream house is always evolving, which is why I’m still making inspiration boards for my daughter’s room when her room is, in the eyes of everyone we know, done for now. Finished-finished, in other words.

But if my living room and bedroom (currently non-existant, but whatevs) and my kitchen will never be finished-finished, why should my daughter’s room be considered done? I like an evolving house – besides the fact that little touches keep things fresh, I will probably never have to do a complete room overhaul. Something, I hasten to add, I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford. But that’s just my way of keeping a home. As outlined above, it’s certainly not the only way, which is why I want to hear about YOUR way. Do you wait until you can whip up a whole perfect room or do you decorate and then redecorate in bits and pieces?

(Images via: Little Crown Interiors, Zachary Dickory Dock, Sproutstyle, Sugabee Lane, Modern Pea Pod, Cookie Dough Designs, and Sweet Retreat Kids)

Burlap Bag Craftiness

Have an old burlap coffee bag, potato sack, or rice bag squished up somewhere in your closet because it was just too interesting to throw out but too large to use as a lunch bag or tote? Never fear! Some of my favorite bloggers have got you covered with burlap bag craftiness that is in many cases, super easy. And in the cases where it is, the results are super awesome. Here are some of the ideas that got the crafting center of my brain humming:

A sweet burlap pillow (via)

A useful burlap apron (via)


Branching Out!

What could be easier than finding a cool (and dry) branch, spray painting it to make it pop, and hanging the result on the wall or displaying it in a vase? Not much, that’s for sure! So for all those who like to go and look for pretty leaves in the fall, I suggest keeping an eye out for interesting branches – the manzanita branch seems to be the most popular choice – that might just fill that annoying hole in your decor. Here’s some painted branches inspiration:



DIY Chalkboard Like a Pro (Instead of Like Me)

Ah, chalkboard paint. I love you so – in fact, I’d go so far to suggest you’re one of the most awesome inventions ever. I mean, come on. Chalkboard paint! Make anything into a chalkboard, and it comes in different colors, too. But, my gosh, are you fickle when you’re not applied to a perfectly smooth surface.

That’s right, my dear readers. If you love the thought of a DIY chalkboard do be prepared to brush on about a bazillion coats and sand thoroughly between each one. If it’s something like a chalkboard table you’re after, that’s one thing because most tables start out relatively smooth. But a chalkboard in the kitchen or in a kid’s room on a normal wall? That’s what we did, and what we thought would be a simple couple-of-coats job turned into a two-day, all day project for The Beard while the baby and I were in Florida.

Oh, things turned out all right – the baby’s room now has an almost floor-to-ceiling framed chalkboard (magnetic, even) that she’s going to love when she’s older. But ask my husband and he’ll tell you that it was a real pain in the rear.

So how do you get a DIY chalkboard like a pro? Easy: Chalkboard decals. There’s no painting, no sanding. You don’t have to worry about taping off an area, and getting cool shapes like fruits, elephants, and such becomes a whole lot easier when you’re dealing with a peel and stick panel. If I was doing the whole project over again, that’s what I’d go for, since the decals aren’t that much more expensive than a can of the paint. The only bonus to painting? A lot of leftover paint, so now I can find smooth things to chalkboardize!

Above: Word bubble decals from Scribble

Seven Ways to Repurpose a Teacup

Repurposed teacups? Yes, please! This is a fun bit of DIY that anyone with unused pretty teacups or a thrift store nearby can do without much trouble. The things one can make from a teacup range in difficulty from easy projects (think tiny planters for succulents) to involved projects involving wiring and cutting, so no worries if you’re not all that crafty. Here are seven ways you can repurpose your teacups and prettify your environment at the same time.

I wrote about Domestic Construction’s teacup chandeliers way back in the day, but at $60 for one DIY is the order of the day (at least in my household). DIY it with some thrift store teacups, some Ikea pendant kits, and something to hang ‘em from.


My Favorite Ever ‘Before & After’

I never really thought I’d have a favorite ‘before & after,” but I definitely do and it has to be Sandra Foster’s amazing tiny DIY Victorian cottage! She took a 9-by-14-foot cottage (an old hunting cabin) that happened to be on her property and renovated it herself for a mere $3,000 – a figure that includes furniture and accessories.

The part I like best about Foster’s story is that she’s not a professional designer (she’s a fiscal administrator), she’s not rich (Foster’s other house a trailer), and the whole thing was a personal labor of love – and when I say personal, I mean that Foster DIY’ed it to the max. While she may be just a little bit on a higher plane than most of us when it comes to using the contents of a toolbox, her amazing little cottage makes me feel like I can do just about anything I set my mind to!

There are a couple more pics under the cut, but I definitely recommend checking out Foster’s blog and the NY Times slideshow for lots more sweet photos of this DIY marvel!


A Palace Fit for Two Princesses

I have to say that I am all at once inspired and mortified by this amazing girls’ room put together by Christina of Full House – inspired because oh em gee she did everything for less than $250 and mortified because I’d started to feel like my daughter’s room was coming together just a little bit and good lord it certainly is not in comparison.

I cry that I was not born with the gene that lets some people do amazing things on a tiny budget. But to all of you I say if you’ve got it, flaunt it! You can see how Christina did it here at Little Green Notebook!

Project: Easy DIY Wall Art

I wanted to share this cute, simple project from Donation 2 Decor. Cheap or – even better – found picture frames get a makeover and some new contents using spray paint, masonite, some printed words, and sealer.

The instructions are here, along with several other neat projects for the home. If you give a go, be sure to send me an email with your results!

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