DIY: Faux clamshell with succulents!

 

You know that feeling when you figure out how to do something and you want to share it with the world? The other day I decided I wanted to make a faux giant clamshell filled with succulents that didn’t cost hundreds of dollars like the ones sold on sites such as Ballard Design and Houzz.

 

 

 

giant clam shell succulents

Source: Ballard Design

 

 

Well, inspiration struck, she didn’t let me down, and I want to share with you that you can do this, too! It’s so easy! The results are awesome! And it was very inexpensive! 🙂

 

 

I have long had an ooey gooey crush on giant clamshells, but their hundreds-plus price tag kept obstructing our conscious coupling. (Oh Gwennie Paltrow, may the lovely alliteration of your odd press statement live on.)

 

 

 

faux-clam-shell-dining-table-zebra-rug

Source: Elle Decor

 

 

 

 

They are just so good looking.

 

 

 

 

faux-clam-shell-orchid-decor

Source: Unknown.

 

 

 

They add equal parts whimsy and style to any room…

 

 

 

faux-clam-shell-master-bath

Source: Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

And can be so versatile. Witness the planter-turned-drink-dispenser below.

 

 

 

 

 

giant clam shell drink dispenser

Source: Unknown.

 

 

 

 

But, again, so expensive, even for a faux version. Until now.

 

 

 

I began with a clear plastic clamshell.  I happened to purchase one years ago at a garage sale and occasionally used it to serve salad for the equally occasional tropical-themed party. But you can find the same thing at the Oriental Trading Company where they term theirs a Sea Shell Punch Bowl.

 

 

Lightly sand the shell, inside and out (focus on the exterior if you will only be using it as a planter and not a drink dispenser or decorative bowl to hold say blown glass balls).

 

 

 

faux-plastic-clam-shell

 

 

 

To begin building the layers of the finish, spray the shell with white or cream colored spray paint.

 

 

 

faux-giant-clamshell

 

 

 

Once the spray paint has dried, use a paint brush to paint the shell a cream color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While (whilst?) the paint is still wet, sprinkle with sand. Note: we didn’t have any sand on hand, but we do have a DG (decomposed granite) pathway that has a lot of sand mixed with the DG, so I sourced my sand that way. This is all to say, don’t worry about taking this step too seriously. Sprinkle sand on, rub some off, add some more (like a chef seasoning a soup: just use your intuition) and you’ll get it right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is my hand, paint-dotted fingernail and all, displaying the shell in between coats of paint and sand. After this point I brushed off some sand, added more paint, and tossed on more sand. Layering, folks, it’s all about the layering.

 

 

 

faux-giant-clamshell-DIY

 

 

 

 

When I was happy with the look and the paint/sand was dry, I filled the planter with cacti/succulent potting mix and planted the succulents. Note: the online versions of faux clamshells stuffed with succulents come with faux succulents, but I think a faux shell is enough faux and opted for live plants. You will need to water the succulents about every week or so and if you will not be placing them in a sunny spot indoors, give them at lest an hour or two al fresco every few days to make sure they stay happy and healthy.

 

 

 

DIY-Faux-giant-clamshell-succulents

 

 

 

 

Here is the one I made for a client. We used it for her coastal-themed dining room.

 

 

 

faux-giant-clamshell-DIY-succulents

 

 

 

 

 

And on my table…I couldn’t help making one for myself, now could I?

 

 

 

 

modern-dining-room-pendant-lights-faux-giant-clamshell-succulents

 

 

 

 

 

 

fan-palm-decor-faux-giant-clamshell

 

 

 

 

And good ol’ Bunny Williams stuffs moss in hers (I think it goes without saying that I didn’t make hers), because she’s clever like that.

 

 

 

 

bunny-williams-moss-faux-giant-clamshell

 

 

 

 

Happy weekend and happy decorating and happy faux giant clamshell succulent planter making–phew, a mouthful! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

How to clean a sheepskin rug!

 

Things change.  Just the other day Oxford University Press announced Christopher Marlowe’s name will be cozying up next to Shakespeare’s as co-author of at least three plays in Henry VI. So after years of speculation and fine-tooth word-combing, we discover the Lone Bard wasn’t the sole scribe after all. Similarly, (if you are open to the word “similarly” being used very loosely), furniture made with galvanized metal and rivets and exposed bolts and parts that make it look like it hailed from an industrial center is not the hot commodity it once was. And, in the world of rugs, chevron rugs with all their zigs and zags, which used to seem so charmingly graphic, are now so “yesteryear”.

 

 

sheepsking-on-chair

Source: Unknown.

 

And now?

 

Sheepskin rugs are today’s underfoot darling with their no-color, all-texture simplicity–and what a texture! You will want to sink your face into the thick fluff and stroke it like you are petting the dear lamb it once was–yet they have been around so long (heck, my grandmother used to decorate with them!) they seem in without risk of ever being out.

 

 

And they are lovely.

 

 

 

Add one to a plain chair that is crying out for a little something more and not only have you increased the style quotient, but padding for the tushy (and/or utilized the auxiliary side benefit of camouflaging caning that was badly in need of repair 🙂 ).

 

 

 

two-chairs-sheepskin-rugs

Source: Pop Sugar.

 

 

Have a crying baby? That wail could mean, “My nursery is missing a sheepskin rug!” Incorporate one and suddenly there is the softest, cloud-like landing for your little one who is just learning to crawl or walk. (Note: Most baby books warn that while the fleecy fluffiness of a sheepskin rug may make a beautiful backdrop for an Anne Geddes-esque photo, DO NOT let your infant sleep on one as there is a risk of resulting suffocation.)

 

 

 

sheepsking-rug-nursery-2

Source: Elle Decor.

 

 

Ooh. Ahh.

 

 

 

sheepskin-rug-nursery

Source: Elle Decor.

 

 

 

They seriously up the style ante.

 

 

 

livingroomcombo

Source: Elle Decor.

 

 

Design plan: remove two cushions from sofa. Place on floor. Drape a sheepskin rug on each. Done.

 

 

 

sheepskin-rug-decor

Source: Elle Decor.

 

 

 

They just look so amazing.

 

 

 

mongolian-lamb-stool

Source: Elle Decor.

 

 

 

Until they don’t.

 

 

 

Behold our sheepskin rug, purchased only two years ago, and in a very sullied state. (We have dogs. And apparently very dirty feet.)

 

 

 

dirty-sheepskin-rug

 

 

 

 

Lackluster at best. Disgusting grimy-grossness at worst.

 

 

 

 

sheepskin-rug-nursery-giraffe

Source: Elle Decor.

 

 

 

While sheepskin rugs are fairly reasonably priced (you can find them at various sources such as Pottery Barn, Serena and Lily and Crate and Barrel; I found mine at Costco for $149), they are not so reasonably priced that you’ll want to replace one very often. So instead of casting mine off to Craigslist and buying a new one, I put two and two together: my hair always looks better when brushed. Let’s see if brushing will revive a sheepskin rug.

 

 

First, I shook it to remove loose dirt and debris. Because this was impulsive experiment, I used my actual hairbrush (which you can see–unless you avert your eyes, which I’d totally understand–has my actual hairs still in it!). I have since read that a wire-bristled pet brush is recommended and that certainly eliminates the questionable unhygienic practice of sharing a hairbrush with a surface that rests on the floor and is regularly walked upon. You may want to purchase said brush for this specific purpose because if you use the same brush you use for your dog or cat, you risk transferring dog or cat fur to your rug. (Interestingly, human hair which is much longer, does not present this problem.)

 

 

brushing-sheepskin-rug

 

 

 

Settle in in front of the TV, turn on some music, or call your chattiest friend. When twenty minutes have passed, you will look down and ask yourself “Am I a magician because I just made magic happen?” The clumps and matted parts will be a thing of the past.

 

 

 

 

sheepsking-rug-and-feet

After.

 

 

 

 

And…..

 

 

 

 

brushed-sheepsking-rugUp close.

 

 

 

 

the-sheepskin-rug-2

Source: Elle Decor.

 

 

My sheepskin could be salvaged with a simple brushing, but in cases where the sheepskin has been soiled by urine or vomit, or worse (I’m thinking about those nursery applications, here)  I searched the internet and there were quite a few sites–and videos–that recommend hand-washing in the bathtub. The process is as follows:

 

 

  1. Shake out the dirt.
  2.  Soak sheepskin in tub filled with COLD water (in case the all-caps were not screaming loudly enough, I’ll reiterate: if your sheepskin is Hillary Clinton, hot water is Donald Trump. As in “sworn enemies”.)
  3. Agitate the rug by hand. Some sites recommend using sheepskin cleaner, others Ivory hand soap or Johnson and Johnson Baby Shampoo. But, contrary to what intuition–and the use of the word “wool” on the label–might lead you to believe, almost every tutorial I read warned against using Woolite. Hmm.
  4. Rinse. Squeeze out the excess water without ringing or you may damage the hide and further matte the wool. Comb with a pet brush (although one site said to not brush while wet). Lay flat to dry or line-dry in enough sun without being in the direct sun. You want just the right amount of sun. (I think Goldilocks was weighing in on this one.)
  5. It can take up to 7 days to dry which might make you want to use the dryer. If you do, some sites recommended using dryer balls or tennis balls to fluff the rug. All sites said use the air setting only–NO HEAT!
  6. Once dry, it will still appear matted so you will need to call that friend, turn on the TV, or listen to NPR so you can hear more about Shakespeare being usurped as sole author, and brush until you can’t brush any more and then your rug will look new again. Ancillary upshot: your rug will not only be clean and smooth; your biceps will be bulging like you just lifted weights.

 

 

 

And, once, again, you’ll have a stylish rug that resembles this:

 

 

 

 

butterfly-chair-sheepskin-rug

Source: Elle Decor.

 

 

And in the spirit of change, some wise words from Andy Warhol:

 

 

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” –Andy Warhol

 

Signature

 

DIY Modern Dining Table and Modern Bench!

 

When we first moved into our house almost three years ago, our circa 1958 dining room looked like this.

 

 

 

Dining room with pony wall first moved in

 

 

 

We replaced the existing sliding glass doors with wider, accordion-style doors from LaCANTINA which are essentially three panels of glass that are hinged together so you can either open one of the panels (one is designated for this purpose) as you would a regular swinging door, or push all the panels off to the side, leaving the entire opening free and clear–as opposed to a regular sliding glass door where one panel of glass slides and the other piece is always fixed in place. Boring explanation aside, the door is awesome and when it is fully ajar, suddenly the dining/living room feels that much bigger because the inside and outside read like one continuous space.

 

 

 

La Cantina door outside

I believe our cat thinks it’s awesome, too.

 

 

 

For anyone who is thinking of installing these types of doors, I give a giant thumbs up, but a couple of things to note are if you can possibly keep your inside flooring material (e.g., wood; carpet; tile) in the same color family as any exterior flooring (e.g., wood; stone; concrete) the more seamless the effect is. In our case, we didn’t do this, because we kind of have this somewhat unintentional, but once recognized, appreciated and adhered to, theme of warm wood and concrete going everywhere, but if you HAD the option to stay in one color family, it would make the space seem that much larger.

 

 

The LaCANTINA door comes with three options of threshold heights and we found the trades (the salesman and installer and the company that poured our concrete patio) were adamant that we install a tall threshold to prevent rain from entering the interior, but that would have killed the smooth transition we were after. We were temporarily torn about what to do (we certainly didn’t want to welcome water into the house, but we didn’t want to relinquish our goal of creating a patio that was level with the interior floor it abutted). In the end, the solution was to go with the ADA threshold which isn’t completely flush, but close to it, and have the concrete crew cut into the stucco of our exterior walls and lay a waterproof membrane at the new height of the patio (the patio had to be extra thick in order to be flush with the interior floors); grade the patio so water only had one direction to flow–away from the house!–and to install a few French drains at any point we figured water would want to collect. Granted, rain in California is now as rare as unicorns, but we did get a few heavy rains post installation this past winter, and I’m happy to report nary a drop worked its way inside. Should you do this? The answer is consult with your builder or contractor as the slope of your individual property must be factored in and trapping moisture must always be avoided, but, if possible, it’s certainly ideal to avoid two different heights for both aesthetic reasons and to avoid tripping.

 

 

 

Modern dining table RH chairs pendant dining lights

 

 

 

We painted the walls Benjamin Moore’s Simply White (in an eggshell sheen), replaced the existing chandelier with pendant lights from RH and added taller (5″ inch tall) baseboard. Side note: tall baseboard is one of those little details that is actually huge! Most builder-grade homes have diminutive baseboard, 3 1/2″ or shorter, as well as slim door and window casing, while higher-end homes and homes that were built prior to the 1950s, tend to have more generous trim. It’s true that many fancier and older homes have 9′ or taller ceilings, whereas builder-grade homes, and–darn it!–our, home has 8′ ceilings, so scale is at play, but there is something about good (and tall) trim that just adds a feeling of solid craftsmanship and tells the eye, “You are looking at quality.” So, whenever possible, I suggest replacing baseboard with something that is at least 4 1/4″ and, yes it depends on the style of your home, but nine times out of ten, I’d suggest avoiding flourishes like ogee detail and stick with the good ol’ clean lines of a straight or eased-edge Craftsman style baseboard.

 

 

Ogee baseboard detail

Ogee detail at top of the baseboard

 

Craftsman baseboard

 

Plain and simple.

 

 

 

Fast forward to the point where our new floors are installed, we have our fireplace stuccoed to look like concrete (you can read all about that here) and we removed that weird pole that dropped down from the ceiling and died into the top of the pony wall. That left the next step: removing the wood cap from the pony wall.

 

 

 

Pony wall with cap

 

 

 

Once the cap was removed, we were left with something like this…

 

 

 

Pony wall wood cap removed

 

 

 

 

We capped the pony wall with two pieces of Douglas Fir joined with construction adhesive (and clamped together as tightly as possible while the adhesive dried). We did a test run below.

 

 

 

 

Wood cap on pony wall copy

It fit!

 

 

 

Because this is only a temporary fix until we can spring for truly gutting and remodeling the kitchen, we attached the stained and finished Douglas Fir top by screwing it into the pony wall from the top down. If you were going to do this somewhat permanently, I’d suggest counter-sinking said screws and covering them with dowels that can be stained to match. We’re calling our exposed screws good enough and declaring them “Industrial Chic”–or the term I’m trying to coin: “Industic”.

 

 

 

Bar stools pony wall

 

 

 

Okay, but “The table, the table!” you might be saying. Okay, getting there. We wanted a realllly long (96″) table following the principle that bigger furniture often makes a space look bigger than if you try to stick multiple tiny pieces in a room and your eye just reads the space as so small that it can only accommodate Lilliputian-sized stuff.

 

 

So we wanted to go big and what we wanted was this Parson’s table from RH.

 

 

 

 

RH Parsons Table

RH’s Arles Rectangular Table in Grey Walnut.

 

 

But at $3,295, for the 96″ x 39″ x 30″ table, the price was steep, especially when I read the fine print that disclosed it only has veneer of Walnut wood. (Humph!)

 

 

 

We also liked this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roebling Live-Edge RH tablejpg

RH’s Roebling Live-Edge Walnut Table

 

 

But at $14,995 for a 96″ x 44″ x 30″ table this was not only a wee bit wider than we wanted, but beyond a wee bit exorbitant and since we had already eaten up nearly the entire budget on five RH Rizzo chairs, we needed a new plan.

 

 

 

RH Rizzo Dining Chairs

RH’s Rizzo chairs

 

 

So the plan was hatched to BUILD OUR OWN, from solid planks of wood! It all started with the customizable welded stainless steel legs that JB found from SteelImpression on Etsy. I cannot say enough good things about this company. Not only did the price seem reasonable ($220, including shipping, for the pair), but they had them finished and en route two days after we placed our order. We realized if we made the tabletop with the roughest grade of Redwood Home Depot carried, the boards were only $38 x 4 = $152 plus $220 legs, we were back on budget!

 

 

The following picture shows Douglas Fir boards since we started with DF boards which we glued together only to discover they didn’t stay that way (the fourth board, even after a second round of adhesive, refused to stay attached), which is how the pony wall cap project was born (waste not, want not). I am including this photo to show the important first step of using construction adhesive …

 

 

Glue redwood diy dining table

 

 

 

 

And biscuit joints! The combination of the two was the only way we could get four 96″ long boards to work as a team.

 

 

 

 

Biscuit joint DIY dining table

 

 

 

 

I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to keep the boards clamped together while drying.

 

 

 

 

Clamping DIY redwood modern dining table

 

 

 

After the four boards were properly joined, JB sanded them starting with 60 grit then working his way to 100, 150 then 120 grit.  We used Minwax stain (color: Provincial) and sealed the top and bottom (to prevent moisture from entering and warping the boards) with Varathane clear water-based Polyurethane in Satin. On that note, if you have room inside (i.e., your garage), let the wood dry there and not outside where it will risk warping due to the elements (a misty morning or dewy evening is enough to cause some warping and create moisture blemishes on your finish).

 

 

Next was the bench which was much easier since it was just one piece of wood that needed to be cut and sanded.

 

 

 

DIY dining bench staining

We cut the bench to 74″ long to work with the 96″ long table.

 

 

 

Again with the staining and sealing. Once dry, we flipped it over and screwed in the custom legs. Also from SteelImpressions on Etsy.

 

 

 

 

Here is the bench where we first positioned it, against the wall, so the RH chairs could be more on display.

 

 

 

 

Modern dining bench

 

 

 

Like this…

 

 

 

 

DIY Modern dining table RH leather chairs

 

 

 

 

Once I reversed the chairs and bench for a photo shoot, I realized the dining room appeared much more open and airy–and the good lines of the bench were no longer hidden–when the bench was placed on the open side of table.

 

 

 

Like so…

 

 

 

 

DIY modern bench DIY modern dining table

 

 

 

There you have it.

 

 

Very easy. Fairly inexpensive, certainly loads less than an RH table, and not a veneer, but solid, sandable wood.

 

 

And one more time…the Before (in preparation for hardwood floors and from the looks of that stag painting project in the background, Tannenbaum Time).

 

 

 

Dining Room before with carpet torn up

 

 

 

And After…

 

 

 

Modern dining table modern dining bench

 

 

 

Wood for table: Four pieces of 2″ x 12” x 96″ rough-hewn Redwood planks from Home Depot at $38 each. We trimmed each board to 10″ wide so with four boards the final width of the table is 40″;  the length is 96″ and with the legs it is 30″ tall.

 

Legs for table: $220, Steel Impressions from Etsy. 29″ tall x 36″ wide–total width, including the opening between the legs.

 

Wood for bench: One piece of rough-hewn Redwood 2″ x 12″ x 96″ cut to 74″ long, $38.

 

Legs for bench:  $160, Steel Impressions from Etsy. 17″ tall x 10″ wide–total width, including the opening between the legs.

 

Stain: Minwax in color Provincial $8 per quart

 

Finish: Varathane Polyurethane, Satin, water-based $17 per quart

 

Total cost for the DIY modern table: $397

 

Total cost for the DIY modern bench: $98

 

 

Happy Saturday! 🙂

 

Pink signature

 

My Pet Cloud: A children’s book you won’t want to throw against the wall!

 

You know how people say, “I’d love to write a children’s book”? Well, my mom and I did it! I wrote it, my mom (Lyn Gianni, an artist by trade) illustrated it and it’s now available at Amazon.com and Chaucer’s Bookstore here in Santa Barbara.

 

 

 

My Pet Cloud front cover

 

 

 

 

 

The inspiration came from my sister who conjured up the title. We all kind of sat on the idea for years until JB and I got married and I decided now is the time to write a children’s book. I became pregnant soon after so I must have had kids on the brain!

 

 

Microsoft Word - My Pet Cloud for upload.doc

 

 

 

The story is this: We have all seen shapes in the clouds but the young boy looks up and finds a special cloud. He names the cloud Harold and they become inseparable (except when Harold has to go indoors, of course) friends for life.

 

 

Microsoft Word - My Pet Cloud for upload.doc

 

 

 

Harold and the boy play and share adventures and the cloud is a reassuring presence. The boy learns that he can count on Harold for support and even though the cloud may disappear for a little while, as people in our lives sometimes must (whether it’s a parent leaving for work or a date night, or something more serious like a relative or pet passing away) their strong connection ensures that Harold will always be there for him.

 

 

Microsoft Word - My Pet Cloud for upload.doc

 

 

 

 

Our goal was to create a children’s book that delivered a good message (you are not alone) via a fun concept (a cloud that could be your best buddy).

 

 

 

My Pet Cloud sleeping

 

 

 

The world can be a scary place, but it’s a little less scary when you have a pet cloud. What we really loved about the concept of the pet cloud was it was something every child could have access to: no matter how rich or poor, no matter where you live or how you live, every kid can have a pet cloud.

 

 

 

Microsoft Word - My Pet Cloud for upload.doc

 

 

 

I studied children’s books before writing My Pet Cloud, but it was purely in the context of research (to capture the correct cadence, get a feel for how many words per page, gauge age-appropriate subject matter, etc.) and it was before I had a child of my own. Now that Kai has come along and I’m reading the same books I had previously studied to him over and over (and over and over again!) I’m discovering that some of the ones I once liked, I can now barely stand.

 

 

Microsoft Word - My Pet Cloud for upload.doc

 

 

 

 

 

But I’m happy to say, My Pet Cloud is holding up to the “Parent Test”; it’s not only still likable after umpteen-plus readings, but I find more to like about it each time I read it.

 

 

 

Microsoft Word - My Pet Cloud for upload.doc

 

 

 

 

But you don’t have to just take my word for it; you can click here for some online reviews.

 

 

Microsoft Word - My Pet Cloud for upload.doc

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’d like to own your very own copy of My Pet Cloud, it is available on Amazon.com.  It is also at Chaucer’s Bookstore in Santa Barbara.

 

 

For local readers, Chaucer’s (at 3321 State Street) is hosting a reading and book signing for my Pet Cloud this Sunday, April 3rd, from 2pm-3pm. I will be there singing copies of the book, with Kai in tow, and we’d love to see a friendly face if you can make it! 🙂

 

 

PS, Thank you to Matt Kettman and the Santa Barbara Independent for running a story on My Pet Cloud. The issue hit the stands today, but you can see an online version here.

 

 

Santa Barbara Independent My Pet Cloud 2

 

Photo credit Paul Wellman via the SB Independent.

 

 

Pink signature

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Anniversary! DIY Rustic Wedding Decor Ideas!

 

 

This Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of my wedding to JB. In commemoration, I’m posting the column I wrote two days prior to our Big Day.  Imagine prepping for a DIY wedding that was taking up every spare moment meaning I hadn’t had time to pen my vows and, thus, was agonizing over writing them at 9:30 pm the night before, praying I’d come up with something that elicited at least a few giggles from the guests and, of course, would be meaningful to my future husband when all I really wanted to do was fall into a deep slumber from the utter exhaustion brought on by the two days straight we spent outdoors setting up for the event during the 90 degree heat wave–and my column was due just two days before the wedding; ack, it was a hectic time! Included are photos of some of the DIY decor we tackled for our rustic wedding. I’m happy to say I met my deadline (for the column and the vows, although I was editing them down to the last minute while my hair was being curled and brushed into submission). The column ran the morning of our wedding: 9/13/14. Enjoy! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Happily Ever After SignSimple sign created from leftover planks of hardwood flooring, painted with lettering and nailed to a piece of plywood.

 

 

 

 

The day this column appears in print, I’ll be standing at the end of a borrowed carpet runner, poised beneath a makeshift copper arch, and gripping (likely with perspiring palms) my homemade bouquet. And uttering some (hopefully) profound words which will culminate in the momentous proclamation of (gulp!) “I do”. Today is the day I marry the best man I’ve ever known.

 

 

 

 

 

Wedding dog tuxedo LiloSweet Lilo, my Chiweenie, sporting a tuxedo from Petco.

 

 

 

 

If you and I had hours to spare, I’d tell you about the panic attacks, the pages and pages of “To Do” lists that caused me to bolt upright in bed wondering, “Did I…?” and the multitude of design decisions that had us thinking, “Eloping would’ve been so much easier!” Because–everyone was right, planning a wedding is a lot like having a second job–one that costs more than it pays! But along the way we discovered some design ideas we really loved, and since they were DIY, they helped keep the budget down. So without further ado (after all, I have a wedding to get to!) here are some of our favorite homespun wedding decor ideas.

 

 

 

 

Chalkboard frame signsOh the many uses of a framed chalkboard sign.

 

 

 

 

Love signs: Chalkboard signs are a perfect way to convey table numbers, label an unrecognizable dish such as, say, “Vegan Bratwurst” or explain the contents of a drink dispenser containing “Cucumber water”. When marked with the words “Love” or “thanks!” these signs do double-duty as props held by the bride and groom for photos that can later be printed into custom thank you cards. And, unlike so much wedding decor, chalkboard signs can be wiped clean and used for party decor throughout the year. (Imagine “Boo” or “Pumpkin soup” in October.)

 

 

 

 

Chalkboard framed Love sign DIY wedding decorLove signs.

 

 

 

 

99 cents store frameFrame from the 99 Cents Only store.

 

 

 

 

 

Spray paint glassRemove glass insert and spray with aerosol chalkboard paint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chalkboard paint on glassLet the sprayed glass dry, then cure.

 

 

 

 

 

Chalboard framesPop the chalkboard painted glass back into the frames.

 

 

 

 

 

Hang chalkboard frameIf you want to hang the signs on the back of a chair, thread ribbon through the picture hanging loop on the back of the frame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Mrs. Chalkboard signsTa da!

 

 

 

 

To make these, begin with photo frames, preferably ones with slightly ornate, even gilded, frames–if they aren’t gilded, you can spray them to be. (The 99 Cents Only store is a great source.) Remove the glass and spray one side of it with aerosol chalkboard paint. Dry for fifteen minutes then spray a second coat. Let dry for at least two hours, then pop the glass back into the frame, painted side facing out. Important: Do not skip the next, crucial stop of curing the surface of your chalkboard by rubbing its face with the side of a piece of chalk and then wiping it off with a clean dry cloth lest whatever you write be forever etched into its surface.

 

 

 

 

 

Paper strips of brown paper bagsUse a paper cutter or scissors to cut 1/2″ x 12″ slices from a paper grocery sack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paper bag strip love napkin band DIY wedding decorSuggestion.

 

 

 

 

 

Paper wedding bands: Decorate any linen or paper dinner napkin that has been folded into a rectangle with a personalized band. Use a paper cutter to slice 1/2″ wide x 12″ long strips from the plain, unprinted side of brown paper grocery bags. Wrap the band around the center of the napkin and secure it to itself on the underside of the napkin with a piece of clear tape. Use your best script or individual letter stamps and a stamp pad to create a special message. Example: “Love”, the wedding date, the first names of the bride and groom connected by an ampersand, or a dot of sealing wax in the center stamped with the couple’s monogram. (For upcoming holidays, this same technique can be used to write, “Thankful” or “Peace”.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wedding favor wine jellyThank you to my sister for making this fantastic wine jelly. The “silverware” was plastic cutlery from the 99 Cents Only Store.

 

 

 

 

 

Ceremonial sprigs: For a twist on traditional flowers, use sprigs of rosemary, lavender or sage to decorate wedding cupcakes, a tiered wedding cake, or tuck into the aforementioned napkin bands. Lavender, long associated with love, virtue and devotion, has calming properties which may just come in handy on The Big Day.  Sage is linked with wisdom and mortality, but rosemary has the most notable history. Tied to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and also a symbol of fidelity, brides used to weave it into their wreath headdresses, decorate branches to give as wedding favors, or dip into their wine during toasts. Lasses would sleep with sprigs under their pillows to induce dreams portending their husbands to be. Cautious (and superstitious!) brides slipped sprigs into their partner’s pocket to ensure faithfulness. All three of these herbs grow prolifically, so any of these plants can be purchase for the occasion, stripped of some leaves, and then planted in the garden to commemorate the red-letter day–not to mention seasoning many shared meals to come!

 

 

 

 

 

Cork Love Wedding Sign Wedding DecorThis was actually not at our wedding. I randomly saw it a few months ago at a wedding held at a restaurant that I happened to pass by and it was so cute, I could not resist taking a photo and sharing it with you.

 

 

 

 

Framed!: A large, empty frame from a thrift store or garage sale makes a fun photo prop for wedding pictures. The more ornate, the better. If it’s not already gilded, spray it with gold or silver paint. Guests can take turns holding the frame in front of themselves as they pose. Tip: Attach rows of twine across the back of a large frame, hang it to the wall, and clip plain wooden clothespins to the twine rows. Keep a Polaroid camera on hand (these can be found online) so guests can take selfies and pin them to the twine. The best shots can later be placed into a photo album for the newlyweds.

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Mrs chair signsYet another use for chalkboard signs. The chairs were from an estate sale.

 

 

 

 

Take a seat: Look to your local thrift store for old and interesting wood dining chairs for the bride and groom. If the seats need new fabric, see if they can be unscrewed (from below) and popped out. If so, reupholstery can be as simple as using a staple gun to cover the seat with your favorite fabrics. Tip: Painter’s drop cloths are an inexpensive alternative to linen; natural burlap is nice, too. If the wood structure has seen better days, painting it white or gold–or any one of your wedding colors–will quickly refresh it. Just so it doesn’t look too new, you may want to consider strategically sanding the freshly painted wood to give it a gently aged appearance. Tie the chair back with strands of ribbon and signs reading “His ” and “Hers” or “Mr.” and “Mrs.”.

 

 

 

 

 

Holding bouquetsMy dress was second-hand, but I loved it. Here are my ladies of honor holding our DIY bouquets. See the tutorial on how to make your own here.

 

 

 

 

Say “Yes” to a designer dress: Without growing broke, that is. Bridal dresses usually come two ways: expensive and beautiful or cheap and they look it. As of last year, Santa Barbara got another option with the arrival of The White Peacock bridal consignment store. Because these dresses have been worn (usually once) and dry-cleaned, they look brand new. And because most of them are designer names, they’re jaw-droppingly beautiful, which means you can be too, without the price tag to match. Tip: After your wedding, if you’re not inclined to keep your dress for posterity, you can always sell it back to recoup some of that wedding expense!

 

 

 

 

wedding centerpiece ferns succulents tree tumpStumps and succulents: a perfect, inexpensive, combo!

 

 

 

 

 

Stumps and succulents: This project can take some foresight, but if you have time, keep an eye out for any neighbors who are felling trees. If they are kind enough to let you have any of the refuse, stumps make great centerpiece bases for a rustic wedding (add a glass hurricane, candle, and/or flower arrangement on top) and can be used as risers on buffet tables. Instead of renting a wedding cake riser, an extra-large stump adds a touch of nature–and saves you a rental fee! Succulents, in lieu of flowers, not only hold up to the heat of a summer wedding, but need not be tossed. A bouquet or centerpiece of succulents will re-root if planted in your garden and will continue to commemorate your special day.

 

 

 

 

 

Happily Ever After light signThis sign was inspired by the Lite-Brite kids’ toy from our childhoods. It was as easy to make as drilling holes into a plywood board, painting the board black, and inserting Christmas lights.

 

 

 

 

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DIY bandana pillow project!

 

There was once a smallish outdoor pillow.

 

 

 

This pillow…

 

 

 

 

Outdoor furniture pillow

 

 

 

Not bad.

 

 

But not so good.

 

 

It was just sort of…

 

 

Blah.

 

 

And that wasn’t doing anything for our outdoor seating. Enter: the inexpensive bandana ($1 each at Walmart or the Dollar Tree).

 

 

 

 

Bandana pillows on bench

 

 

 

And some down and dirty sewing!  No cutting necessary as these bandanas come 22″ x 22″. I used 22″ x 22″ pillow inserts (the finished cases were 21 1/2″ x 21 1/2″) which made for a nice, snug fit.

 

 

 

 

Bandana pillows on outdoor seat

 

 

 

You know the sewing drill, right? Simply place the fabric front to front; sew all sides together except one and turn inside out to reveal your, almost, finished pillow.

 

 

Now about that final side. In an alternate universe where I am a more adept sewer or someone was, kindly, doing the sewing for me, that last side would get a zipper because when you can remove your pillowcases you can A) launder them and B) frequently change your cases allowing you to alter the look of your decor as often as you see fit.

 

 

 

Stack of colorful bandana pillows

 

 

However, since I was my own labor force, I opted for the easy route of sewing a long, single strand of Velcro, in lieu of a zipper, (sewing the “girl” part of the Velcro to one upper lip of the opening and the “boy” part to the other), and calling them sufficiently finished.

 

 

JB built that side table using wood salvaged from our former pergola: 4 x 4s for the legs, 2 x 6s for the edges and 2 x 4s for the top. I love it now, but once the legs develop a patina to match the top, I think it will look even better.

 

 

 

 

Coral bandana pillow on chair

 

 

At $2 per pillow for the bandanas (one for the front, one for the back, and you may want to consider using a different color for each so one pillow provides two different color options), this might be the least expensive pillow you ever make. Imagine using them on a twin bed to add more color to a kid’s room or on an all-white bed in a guest bedroom in a rustic-style home. Note: If you use them outside for entertaining, I’d suggest pulling them in as soon as the last guest leaves or the somewhat thin fabric will likely fade before someone can say,

 

 

“Cute pillows!”

 

 

 

Happy Monday!

 

 

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Santa Barbara street sign photographs and guest bedroom reveals

 

 

A few years ago, I came up with an idea to create custom art for a client’s guest bedroom. Since the house was here in Santa Barbara, and the room was a guest room, I thought it would be fun to take photos of street signs that were iconic to Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara Street, Mission Street, California Street) and print, frame, and hang them ourselves.

 

 

 

Santa Barbara street sign photography

 

 

Cute/fun/intriguing, right? But the project never got off the ground. Or, more to the point, neither the client nor I made the time to go around snapping street signs.

 

Fast forward five years later to the client who has

 

gusto..

 

an open mind..

 

and an iPhone that takes very good photos!

 

 

And that is how my idea for custom Santa Barbara street sign photographs, to hang in a guest bedroom, finally came to fruition.

 

 

A guest room which began like this…

 

 

 

 

Guest Bedroom before

 

 

 

Well, not exactly like this. The first element to be ordered was the seagrass headboard which was prevented from having its true moment until we fixed up the rest of the room.

 

 

Which we did…

 

 

 

 

Guest bedroom shot after

 

 

 

There was a bit of cajoling before I could convince her of the greatness of this nightstand from Pottery Barn, but the moment we placed it she agreed it added the right amount of world-traveler-whimsy to the space.

 

 

 

 

Pottery Barn trunk side table glass table lamp

 

 

The other side of the bed…

 

 

 

Nightstand jute shade lamp

 

 

 

 

And the other side of the room with a new lamp, pillows and accessories…

 

 

 

One day, or so I’m promised, we can reupholster that chair in an oatmeal shade of Belgian linen. For now, it got a pillow makeover. The orange table lamp was a super find as it tied in so nicely with the custom orange bolster pillow.  PS, My client sewed all the pillows herself with fabric we selected from Your Remnant Store.

 

 

 

White bed seagrass headboard 2

 

 

 

 

Not bad, eh?

 

 

 

 

Three blue and white Euros pillows on bed

 

 

Note: The street sign photos were taken on a regular ol’ iPhone and printed in sepia at regular ol’ Costco. We popped them into pre-fab frames from Aaron Brother’s and…ta da…inexpensive, original art, ideal for a Santa Barbara guest bedroom was born!

 

 

Speaking of guest bedrooms, here’s Guest Bedroom Number Two as I first saw it…

 

 

 

 

Guest bedroom before

 

 

 

 

 

Not bad. It has that all-white bed thing going for it. But we could do better, so it was transformed into this…

 

 

 

 

Guest bedroom after 1

 

 

The nightstands…

 

 

 

 

Nightstand in guest bedroom

 

 

 

 

Opposite wall…

 

 

 

 

Guest bedroom other view(More Santa Barbara-themed art, this time an old rendering of the Santa Barbara Mission.)

 

 

 

 

Notice the lighter version of the seagrass headboard that we used in the other bedroom and, my favorite part, the custom Euro pillows (Kravet fabric: Nashik/Bluemoon) that my client was happy to sew herself!

 

 

 

 

Guest bedroom with three pillows seagrasss headboard

 

 

 

 

Here’s to turning the ideas floating around in our heads into finished projects! 🙂

 

 

 

Happy weekend!

 

 

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Succulents and roses: DIY wedding bouquet!

 

Before there was a burgeoning baby bump…

 

 

 

Kisha bump shot by plants

 

 

 

before each day was a new day to receive different advice on co-sleeping, sleep training, and BPA-free bottles; another opportunity to try to fathom how a little baby will change our lives in such a big way, there were more casual thoughts…

 

 

 

like how to plan a DIY wedding.

 

 

 

It feels like forever ago, but just last September we had our Big Day full of rustic this and handmade that and one of the best elements was the bouquet

 

 

 

…inspired by this one!

 

 

 

Meryl Brown Bouquet inspiration

 

 

 

Oh so pretty, but also so pricey which prompted the DIY idea.

 

 

The task began with step one…

 

 

Pick your flora. I was lucky enough to have the help of a friend and mentor who just happened to have an account at a wholesale nursery, but flowers from Trader Joe’s, Costco, and/or your local Farmer’s Market, are also reasonable sources.

 

 

 

flowers at florist

 

 

 

Act fast or wear a parka; it’s cold in there!

 

 

I remember those walk-in refrigerator rooms being so chilly I had to grab a blanket from the car to wrap myself in like I was wearing a giant shawl–if shawls came in orange fleece. Now, that I’m pregnant and like a walking fevered person who daydreams about ice hotels and the walk-in at Costco where they keep the milk and eggs, this frigid rooms sounds teeth-chatteringly pleasant.

 

 

 

Flowers at wholesale florist

 

 

 

 Hurry, before the frost bite sets in!

 

 

 

 

Greenery at wholesale florist

 

 

 

Lay out your picks before you make your final purchase.

 

 

Just like designing a room, you want all the components to work together. I brought the stump and glass hurricane along with us as a reminder of what the centerpieces would look like. Notice how the glass is starting to fog from being in the fridge one moment, the tepid air the next. To my annoyance, my eye glasses were doing the exact same thing so I had to view our selection through a foggy haze. Good thing I had another set of eyes with me. Perhaps that should be the next tip.

 

 

Bring along a friend whose opinions you value. You’re stressed out enough; don’t try to tackle this alone.

 

 

 

Flowers lined up at wholesale florist

 

 

 

Once at home, set the stems in buckets of water and place the bucket in the fridge until the moment you are ready to assemble your bouquet. (Once your bouquet is made, it will go back in the fridge to chill until it’s ceremony time.)

 

 

Gather your supplies: floral wire, floral tape, scissors, wide ribbon and pearl hat pins.

 

 

 

 

Tools for DIY bouquet

 

 

 

Arrange a small cluster of flowers, working from the center, out. You will end up making a few of these small groupings and wrapping them together as one large bouquet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIY bouquet

 

 

We skipped the succulents for my bouquet, but they are so easy to work with that I did a bouquet-making-reenactment to show you how.

 

 

Gather your succulents.

 

 

 

Succulents for wedding bouquet

 

 

 

Use your fingers to pinch off any extra leaves.

 

 

 

 

Pinch leaves off succulent make bouquet

 

 

 

 

Once you have a clean stem, insert floral wire near the top and pull through to create two loose ends dangling near the stem.

 

 

 

 

 

Floral wire in succulent bouquet

 

 

 

 

Wrap the two loose ends together. 

 

 

 

 

wrapping floral wire succulent bouquet

 

 

 

 

Cover the wire “stem” by wrapping it with floral tape. Tug at it as you go so the tape will become tacky and stick to itself.

 

 

 

 

 

wrap floral wire with floral tape diy bouquet

 

 

 

Repeat this process for each succulent floret.

 

 

 

 

wrap succulents floral tape diy wedding bouquet

 

 

 

Continue making your small groupings until you are ready to bring them together and wrap as one.

 

 

 

 

 

make your own bouquet

 

 

 

 

As you build your bouquet, stand in front of a mirror and hold your bouquet in front of you so you can see how it will be viewed during the ceremony and in photos.

 

 

 

 

 

making your own wedding bouquet

 

 

 

 

When you have it just right, wrap the stems together with floral tape. Submerge the bottom of the stems in a container of water inside your refrigerator. Just before the ceremony, wrap the floral tape with ribbon starting at the top and working your way down. Tuck in or fold over the raw edge of the ribbon and pin it in place. For extra security, pin the ribbon at both the bottom and top. 

 

 

 

I did not have a picture of this process as my friend kindly did this step for me while I was getting ready, so I did another reenactment as seen below.

 

 

 

 

DIY succulent wedding bouquet

 

 

 

 

We used the leftover flowers to decorate the cake.

 

 

 

 

wedding cake succulents tree stump

 

 

 

 

We used them for the centerpieces, as well. Since the wedding was located in a high-fire area, we only used battery-operated candles so we didn’t risk the fern fronds burning. Instead, when night fell, they looked so pretty with the glow of the candle behind them.

 

 

 

 

 

wedding centerpiece ferns succulents tree tump

 

 

 

The same technique of wiring and wrapping was used to create the boutonnieres and for the bridesmaid bouquets…

 

 

 

 

Bride and bridesmaids holding wedding bouquets over faces

 

 

 

 

and the rest went to the bouquet!

 

 

 

 

 

Bouquet 2

 

 

See? Totally easy!

 

 

Thank you to Jennifer Taylor of Taylor House Interiors for teaching me how it’s done so I could have a bouquet just as pretty as the one that was not in the budget! 🙂

 

 

 

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Five-minute DIY circle painting!

I was inspired by the circle painting on the left.

 

 

Image via Houzz; design by Amber Interiors.

 

 

In fact, I was inspired by the entire space but it’s a completely different design direction than we’re taking our house since our 1958 house is whispering (yelling, in some areas) that it should go modern. Thus, we’ve installed a frosted glass and aluminum front door; the single panel Shaker style interior doors we ordered (a full 11 weeks ago, but were back-ordered!) to replace our current, flat panel, hollow doors (the ones with the veneer that has begun to split and peel at the bottom creating an unsightly, pants-snagging “fringe” effect) go in tomorrow; and, as far as trim, we’re opting for minimal and as many ninety degree angles as possible. Not an arch in sight!

 

 

But the circle painting…it could certainly fit into almost any decor. Including ours!

 

 

So I hacked it…

 

 

 

And so can you!

 

 

 

So let’s get started!

 

 

 

Like any good hack, it begins with an IKEA product: the  27 1/2″  x 39 1/4″ RIBBA* frame for $24.99.

 

 

 

Ribba practice drawing circles

 

 

 

*Note: I chose a black frame, but when I just looked at IKEA online, the only colors listed for this size were Brown or Aluminum; however, those colors would work as well. Maybe the Brown more than the Aluminum-if we’re going to get picky about it.

 

 

1. Sketch the design on a piece of paper to get your wrist warmed up. Then, using a wide brush and black acrylic craft paint, paint a trial run directly on the plastic-wrapped frame. This helps your hand and wrist get a sense of how big those circles must be in order to fit the scale of the frame. If you don’t like your first go-round, if you work fast enough, you can use a wet paper towel to wash off the first attempt, and try again.

 

 

 

Paint in foil in bowl

 

 

 

Handy tip: I like to pour my paint into any disposable plastic container (i.e., yogurt, salsa, wrinkle cream) so I can feel okay about dumping (recycling) it when the the little bit of remaining paint has dried and can easily be peeled away. However, with no plastic containers available, I wrapped a porcelain bowl with foil which completely protected the bowl and made for easy clean up and I have now decided this is the superior method.

 

 

 

 

Ribba template

 

 

 

2. Place your brown craft paper on the ground. Use the RIBBA paper that comes with the frame, which is conveniently the same size as the plexiglass, to create your template and cut your craft paper to size.

 

 

 

DIY black painting circles drying

 

 

 

 

3. If you have as little patience as I do, and are into this self-imposed five minute deadline thing, a hairdryer will help speed up the drying process.

 

 

 

4. Use a black Sharpie marker to autograph your art so everyone who sees the image can associate its universal appeal with little ol’ you. Once the image has dried, pop it back into the frame in preparation for hanging your masterpiece.

 

 

Note: And don’t, please don’t, stare at the plexiglass and wonder why IKEA was “so stupid!” as to print “IKEA” on both sides of the plexiglass, then call your mom to schedule the next pilgrimage to IKEA because, you whine, “They will have to take this useless thing back; I can’t use it with “IKEA” stamped all over it!” only to take a nap from which you awaken refreshed with your pregnant brain recharged and back to the state of a normal, thinking person’s brain and then realize the plexiglass was covered with stamped, protective sheets of plastic that peel off both sides of the plexiglass in under two seconds.  And then you deeply regret using the word “stupid” and compulsively eat three brownies to make the universe feel right again. Nope, don’t do that.

 

 

 

Black circles modern DIY painting

 

 

 

Full disclosure:  In our house where the flooring is pulled up to expose the concrete (and we’re not talking the pretty, intentional polished kind but the When-are-those-darn floors coming, again? variety), and every interior door and jamb has been ripped from the walls in preparation for new doors, and the dining table is hanging out in the living room, where it really doesn’t fit, because the new doors are in the dining room, you might understand how there is NO PLACE TO PHOTOGRAPH OUR HOUSE WHERE IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE A CONSTRUCTION ZONE except for in front of the fireplace! So the ornate gilded mirror that usually lives above the fireplace came down and I put my styling powers to the test to give you a hint of how this painting could look…

 

 

…in your normal, I’m just guessing here, non-construction zone house.

 

 

 

 

However, the moment those fireplace photos were snapped, I hung the circle painting where it will really live…

 

 

 

Black circles DIY painting entry

 

 

 

In the entry where, one day, when the doors and floors are installed and the walls are painted, and we move the heater up to the attic so the intake vent can be relocated as a ceiling vent and not make it an illogical place to set a basket, this space will look so pretty with a circle painting.

 

One day! 🙂

 

 

 

Happy Friday!

 

 

 

 

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Biggest (little) project!

I had to think for a moment about how to categorize this post. Design Musings? Nah, that’s better suited for a future post on nurseries. Before and After? (I could show you some tummy-tracking selfies that might make you gasp, “How much weight are you supposed to gain in the first trimester?!” and understand why my wardrobe has had so many reruns as of late. Black stretchy pants and Indian tunic: I couldn’t have put off buying actual maternity clothes for so long without you!) Nope, this one is definitely going to be filed under Projects.

 

 

Projects with an estimated completion date…

 

 

of 11/15/15.

 

 

 

 

Bun in the oven

 

 

Translation: As of this posting, I am 16 weeks pregnant! And, yes, that blue oven means something: it’s a boy!

 

 

A big thanks to Farid at Reid’s Appliances who never balked once when I walked in toting a tiny paper bag containing the Mexican pastry I bought down the street for the sole purpose of It Was The Only Pastry That Didn’t Have Pink Frosting, and asked, “Would it be all right if I did a ‘Bun in the Oven’ photo shoot using your ovens?”*

 

*I really wish I could tell you who makes this awesome looking oven but lately my hormone-addled brain has experienced a few, “Hmm. That’s a good question,” moments.  Ah “pregnancy brain”, how long will I get to use you as an excuse?

 

But, I can tell you this. We’re very, very excited and we’re scrambling to transform our house’s current state of bare concrete floors (when JB, in a moment of great ambition, last winter, pulled up our carpet, we never imagined we’d be staring at this unsightly, pitted concrete for this long), the splitting-in-long-strips-at-the-bottom, noise-transferring hollow core doors with builder-grade brass handles, the walls painted a shade I’ve, not so affectionately, termed Band-Aid, and…oh, yeah there’s that little (big!) detail of transforming the guest room which has served as JB’s walk-in closet for far too long (or from the moment we moved in and I took over ours) into a Pin-It worthy nursery.

 

But, in other news, we just found out the house next door to ours is for sale which prompted us to take a good long, shock-inducing look at our front yard–that we recently had stripped and yanked of its former ivy ground cover, yet that tenacious ivy soldiers on and is popping back up like a darn weed–and inspired us to spend the weekend fixing up the front yard first, before we drive the price of the nice neighbor’s house down! I figure I better do all I can while I still have the gusto.

 

 

 

Happy, gusto-filled, weekend to you!

 

 

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