Giving Thanks

I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

This blog would be nothing without you (no one enjoys talking to a brick wall, right?), and I am so thankful for your support.

This is my favorite Bible verse of all time – and our marriage verse – but it seems especially appropriate today:

Well, I've got to run... I'm on apple pie duty!

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'Tis the Season to Give (and Decorate)

We had a very busy weekend at our house! I started working on my holiday tablescape for my upcoming church event (here's a sneak peek!), brought out the Christmas decorations (never mind that it's not even Thanksgiving yet), AND we got new travertine floors in the den.

I'm right in the middle of all three projects right now. Literally right in the middle– as in, I'm sitting in my office with all of the furniture from the den jam packed in here around me, plus three dogs (we're dog-sitting), along with miles of glittery gold wrapping paper that has decided to blanket every part of this room with gold flecks. It's extremely messy and chaotic right now, but I'm so excited to show you the photos once we're done. The husband is currently applying the last coat of hardener to the tile, which needs to dry overnight. We can't move our furniture back in until tomorrow, which means I'll have photos for you soon!

Meanwhile, I've already transitioned to full-on Christmas brain. I'm thinking about Christmas shopping, holiday decorations, various activities I want to do during the season, festive clothes I want to wear– the works! If you're on the same wavelength as me and might be getting a head start on your Christmas decorations or holiday shopping this week, I thought I'd share some of my favorite related posts from years past. Keep reading for holiday decor ideas, DIY decorations, and affordable DIY gifts.

First of all, let's talk about holiday tablescapes. I really love decorating for parties although I rarely throw parties. Maybe that's because I'm bad at cooking and it stresses me out? Anyway, I always participate in the Christmas tablescapes party at my church, which is the perfect opportunity for me to decorate a pretty table without actually having to host an event at my house.

The first year I went with a green and gold scheme, utilizing one of the things I collect – pears.

Last year I did an preppy, equestrian table. I asked myself, "Would Ralph Lauren eat at my table?"

I'll be sharing this year's table next week. It's very different from my last two. Stay tuned!

I have a ridiculous amount of fun decorating our house for the holidays each year, but we always try to do it on a tight budget. These are some of my favorite DIY Christmas decorations from years past:

DIY Birch Wreath

For even more affordable ideas, check out our holiday home tours from 2012 and 2011. This year's home tour will be extra fun since I have almost double the living space to decorate with this new house. Now I can have multiple themes and styles throughout the house, which is really exciting!

Now, let's talk about gifts. I'm a big fan of sweet treats as gifts for neighbors, coworkers, friends, etc. I've tried some different treats each year, but all have been very well received.

These taste fantastic and are super cute to give as gifts, but I wouldn't call them quick. It takes some time to dip them in chocolate, apply the sprinkles and make the face. This is a really fun activity for families, and you could enlist your kids to help decorate the Santa faces. Make it a baking party and have fun with it, and then take them with you to make "secret deliveries" like we did!

And if you're looking for some DIY gift ideas that aren't edible, how about these?

I've made these so many times, and it's really fun to customize the colors and style for each recipient's personality. They also make great bridal shower and Mother's Day gifts.

You can bundle it with the painted spoons for bonus points!

Jewelry lovers, try these two statement necklaces: Anthropologie-Inspired Necklace and Ombré Beaded Necklace.

If you have a plain doormat and some craft paint, you can whip up a custom welcome mat as a nice gift. Monograms or cheeky sayings work perfectly for this type of project.

Check out my tutorials page for more fun DIY gift ideas!


We have a lot of fun projects to share with you that we're working on right now:

- New travertine floors in the den
- Master bathroom makeover
- Master bedroom makeover
- Guest room makeover
- 2013 Holiday Home Tour
- 2013 Holiday Tablescape

We'll be revealing all of these projects in the next couple of weeks, so keep checking back for the latest updates!

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DIY: How to Build a Wall of Closets From Scratch

On Monday I shared with you the husband's biggest project yet, custom built-in wardrobe closets for our master bedroom.

Now it's time to talk about how he did it!

When we came up with the initial idea, the first thing we did was go to Ikea to look at their closet systems. I'd seen a ton of great Ikea closet hacks online, so I was hopeful we could use their pieces to create something semi-custom. A quick look at the price tag and the Pax dimensions squashed that idea quickly! They weren't going to fit our space, and they weren't going to fit our budget either.

Once we knew we couldn't afford to buy an entire Ikea closet system, we decided to build around some of the interior components they offer. The husband is obsessed with these Komplement pants hangers (we had them in our other house, too), so we started our entire design based on those dimensions so they would fit perfectly.

There was a lot of sketching involved. I looked in his notebook and found all of these drawings – some by him, some by me – as we tried to figure out exactly what configuration would fit perfectly. It took us some time to finally figure out the best use of the space using the weird dimensions of the Ikea drawers and pants hangers.

Then I must have been bored because I even busted out my colored pencils! As you can see, things have changed a little bit from our original plan. 

The next step was to figure out how to build the darn thing. Where to begin? YouTube, of course. We watched this video by Sawdust Girl to get an idea of how she built hers (impressive project, to say the least).

Before I get any further, here are the supplies:

• 3/4 inch MDF (for the base cabinets)
• 1/2 inch MDF (for the doors, trim, detail work)
• 2x4 boards (to frame out the base)
1/2 inch overlay hinges 
Liberty Steel Bar cabinet hardware in a variety of lengths (so affordable!)
Ikea Komplement pants hangers
Ikea Komplement wire drawers
Ikea Komplement glass shelf
Wooden closet dowel rods
• Paint color: Pure White by Sherwin Williams

He quickly realized our wall wasn't straight, which (of course) complicated things. Then we had to factor in the angles of the ceiling, which meant my math teacher husband actually had to use the Pythagorean Theorem in real life. I can just see him talking to his class of 9th graders: "Yes, you will have to use this someday. In fact, I just used this exact theorem to build cabinets in my own house. Take that!"

I think I'm going to let the photos do the talking from here on out. Warning: Here come A LOT of pictures. And you can tell that I really took the time to clean up the room nicely during each one. Ha, yeah right! (Some of these are phone pics and some are on my nicer camera– whatever was handiest at the moment. Please forgive the inconsistencies between each one!)

Here we go, in chronological order (starting with a photo from when we initially toured the house).

Phew. I'm exhausted just looking at it.

Since I didn't do much explaining other than showing photos, please feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section. He would be happy to help if you're trying to do a similar project.

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REVEAL: DIY Custom Built-In Wardrobe Closet

This closet is the most complicated thing the husband has ever built. It's pretty amazing, I must say. I have no idea how he did it, but I'm so glad he did. The finished product is fantastic and amazingly functional. 

Thank goodness for YouTube videos and a keen mathematical mind, because he certainly has no formal carpentry training. And thank goodness he has a lot of patience because I would have given up the minute I realized angles and geometry were involved.

When we bought this house, we knew right away that the master closet situation wasn't going to work for us. We both have a lot of clothes and shoes, and there was only one small closet in the master bathroom. Plus we have learned that having separate closets is one of the keys to a healthy marriage!

Upon examining all of our options, we decided the best scenario was to do a built-in wardrobe closet for his clothes. We originally planned to use Ikea closets and place them on the flat wall in our room, but then I decided to make the project a lot harder by encouraging him to build the closets around the two windows in the room.

These pictures from the first time we toured the house help you get an idea of the layout. So instead of putting the closets on this wall with the bookshelves...

... we decided to build them around the windows on the opposite wall.

Why that wall? I figured that the window wall is the first thing people see when they walk in the room, and the custom built-ins would add some architectural interest to the room. I thought it might add some "wow" to a room with no special features at all. A master bedroom should feel fancier than the other bedrooms, right?

It all sounded so easy in my head. Then we started trying to figure out how to do it, and it immediately became complicated. The slanted ceiling was an added challenge, and the uneven floors didn't help anything. I sketched out ideas of what might work, and we finally settled on a plan.

The project started in June. He worked on it off and on, slowly chipping away whenever he had extra time. This past weekend we were finally able to enjoy the finished product! Because the actual "how-to" post about these closets is going to take me forever to write, I'm going to finish this post with a ton of photos of his new pride and joy. I'll be back later this week to break it down step by step! (Update: DIY: How to Build a Wall of Closets From Scratch)

Let's start off with some before/after shots, shall we? These are my favorite part. 


DIY Custom Closet Built-In Wardrobe



The view from the bedroom doorway...

DIY Custom Closet Built-In Wardrobe

Here's what it looks like as we walk down the hallway to our room:

DIY Custom Closet Built-In Wardrobe

The view from the bed:

DIY Custom Closet Built-In Wardrobe

My husband is one of those super organized people. He likes everything in his place. (This is why we can't share a closet.) Since he was able to design these closets for himself, he used Ikea components to create the perfect setup for his clothes and shoes. 

DIY Custom Closet Built-In Wardrobe

DIY Custom Closet Built-In Wardrobe

DIY Custom Closet Built-In Wardrobe

He added a full-body mirror to the inside of this door at my request, since we don't have one in the entire house and I need to see if my shoes match my outfit. :)

DIY Custom Closet Built-In Wardrobe

Since the husband really loves his shoes, he made use of the skinny space outside the windows as the ideal shoe storage place. The one on the right holds athletic shoes, and the one on the left holds boots and dress shoes. 

DIY Custom Closet Built-In Wardrobe

DIY Custom Closet Built-In Wardrobe

DIY Custom Closet Built-In Wardrobe

Each of the sections below the windows feature a hinged lid. You can lift up the top like a toy chest,  and that's where he stores his laundry. 

One more photo, just for good measure.   

DIY Custom Closet Built-In Wardrobe
I am so proud of my husband for staying with this project and making such a beautiful piece of carpentry for our room. The built-ins look better than I could have ever imagined. Yes, it was a long and tedious task, and sometimes he wanted to tear his hair out. But he stuck with it, and the finished product makes it all worth it! Now I can't wait to decorate the rest of the room...

Questions? Thoughts? Hit me up in the comments section, and I'll answer as quickly as I can.

Thanks for reading! 

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