2014 Fall Home Tour

I wish it felt more like autumn here in Texas. We had a brief cold front a few weeks ago, but it blew out as fast as it came through and it's been toasty and humid ever since. I decided to ignore the high temperatures and welcome in the fall season with my coziest decor, hoping that will somehow usher in the fall weather. I am, however, taking a stand against Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I need a chill in the air before I can order one of those delightful drinks.

I have three bins of fall decor we I keep in the attic that consists of different fake gourds and pumpkins. I try to find new ways to scatter them around the house from year to year, and this year I started with a little harvest basket in the formal dining room. 

Isn't the basket pretty? It's another one of my thrift store treasures. Those pretty orange and fuschia flowers are from the Dollar Store.

I don't do much in the formal living room except switch up the pillows to bring in some jewel tones. 

My dad surprised us with some purple mums this past weekend, and I love how they freshen up my DIY pumpkins from years past. 

For the den, I added some pumpkins and gourds to the mantel, along with my favorite old manzanita branch. More jewel tone pillows (World Market) make the sofa look extra cozy. 

My other favorite fall decorating technique is to subtly tuck small pumpkins and gourds around the house, like so:

So, have you decorated for fall yet? It certainly does get me excited for the season to see my little pumpkins scattered around. Bring on Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can't wait!

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DIY Painted Door Mat Part II

Remember when my best friend Kelsey and I painted a welcome mat for her apartment? Well, I decided to do a slightly different version for our back door as part of our recent home office makeover.

By the way, we totally won the Renu Challenge room makeover contest with our home office/art studio makeover! We get $500 to spend in the Leviton store, but we haven't decided what to buy just yet. My nerdy electrical/audio obsessed husband is super excited about this prize and is carefully considering what he wants to purchase with our prize money.

Instead of doing a stencil like the previous version, I just took a paintbrush and used acrylic paint to paint "grateful" freehand on my plain door mat from Ikea. Of course it's the perfect word for the fall season, but it's a very special word for me all year round. I guess you could call it my mantra; I try to remind myself to be grateful for my blessings whenever I am feeling down. 

Every time I shower, I use my finger to write "grateful" in the condensation of the glass shower door; that's how often I think about this particular word! I always write it in the same spot and with the exact same handwriting, so I tried to imitate that as closely as possible when I painted this mat. So as simple as this rug looks, it is very personal to me – which is exactly what I wanted in this room that is "my" space. Every item in this room is tailored to me and my personality, even down to the door mat.

I never thought I would talk about my showering habits on this blog, but you just never know where this thing is going to go... 

You can catch a glimpse of the original painted mat in this picture from the office makeover, but the plain white paint didn't seem finished. It was hard to get a straight edge with the texture of the rug and my paintbrush, so I wanted to figure out a way to make my handpainted work look more polished.

My solution? Only the greatest crafting invention of all time: puffy paint! I found some neon pink puffy paint in my stash (which was actually the only puffy paint I own; quite a travesty) and used it to outline the word. So much better! I love how the hot pink paint gives it a pop of color and a smidge more personality, too.

 This is such a simple project, and it's really affordable. You could customize your welcome mat for all the seasons and holidays or even just paint your family monogram or favorite word. I love the possibilities!

This is just a small part of the fall decorating happening around here. I'll be back soon with a full "fall home tour" like I did last year. I love decorating for my favorite season!

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DIY Custom Gift Baskets & Pallet Art

I've been creating some cute custom gifts lately that I thought I would lump into one blog post for you today!


I've been using my thrift store basket collection to create custom gift baskets for friends and family, and it's helping me create thoughtful gifts without breaking the budget. My local thrift store has a huge basket selection, so it's easy for me to find the perfect one for whatever gift basket I'm trying to create.

Back in July, the husband and I were preparing to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. We like to stick to the traditional gifts, and the 4th anniversary gift is fruit or flowers. That's a pretty easy one for him to buy for me, but it's not as easy to think of something fruit- or flower-related for a man! I thought about it for a long time, dreaming up (and eventually vetoing) options that were way out of our established anniversary budget. I finally decided to make him a custom fruit basket filled with fruit-y things I already know he loves.

What do you put in a fruit basket for a macho man who wouldn't normally enjoy receiving a fruit basket? Here's what I came up with:

• Fruity Dino Bites (It's the off-brand of the real thing – he prefers these to Fruity Pebbles.)
• Orange Crush soda
• Angry Orchard apple-flavored beer
• Fruity Gushers
• Skittles
• A bag of Cutie Oranges (his favorite fruit)
• Fruit-of-the-Loom undershirts
• Apple iTunes gift card
• Banana Republic gift card
• Mango scented lotion
• Cherry Merlot hand soap from Bath & Body Works (He has a thing for nice-smelling hand soaps.)
• Pineapple printed socks from Target
• Red Hot Chili Peppers greatest hits CD (which was a bust because apparently he already had that one – oops)
• Pear-themed gift card

I piled it all in a simple rectangular basket I found for $2 at the thrift store. Voila, instantly cute gift!

I think the best thing about gift baskets is that you can pile a bunch of stuff in there and suddenly a random gift (like my fruit basket) looks cohesive and thoughtfully considered. And if you choose a nice basket, that's a major bonus. We can all use more baskets or storage vessels!

The other gift basket I made was for a dear friend who is expecting her second child. I wanted to buy mostly practical things like diapers and wipes since she already had most of the items she needs, but I wanted it to be cuter than just wrapping up a box of diapers. Perfect time for a gift basket!

I found this dark round basket at my thrift store ($3) that I knew would match the rustic nursery she was planning for her baby boy. Then I made it so much more adorable (and added another useful gift to the mix) by lining the basket with this adorable pom pom throw blanket from Target. It's not technically a baby blanket, but it's soft and cuddly and that creamy color will work in any room in her house. I should know; I have the exact same one in my guest room!

Isn't it so cute with the pom poms hanging over the edge? The other bonus is that the blanket takes up the bottom of the basket, making my diapers and wipes perch perfectly inside the basket without having to add any tissue paper or other padding to the bottom of the basket.

The other part of this baby shower gift was a custom piece of art for her moose-themed baby nursery. Scott built this 3x3 wooden "canvas" for me out of cedar fence pickets. I stained it a darker brown color and then painted a moose silhouette on top using white acrylic craft paint. I'm so happy with how it came out, and it was a big hit at the baby shower.

So that's one of the things we've been doing lately – creating random gifts and checking small projects off our list. Have you ever thought about using those thrift store baskets to create your own custom creations? I'm thinking I will start a little basket collection in one of my storage closets and just shop from there whenever I want to create something special for someone!

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Reveal: Home Office Makeover!

One of the things that excited me so much about this home when we bought it was that I could use this room the previous owners were using as a playroom as my home office/art studio. The husband agreed that I could have this room all to myself, so I was able to make it as feminine and "me" as I wanted without considering his masculine sensibilities. I finally finished it this weekend, and it is now one of my very favorite places in the house.

Let's start at the beginning! Here how this room looked when we toured the house. The previous owners had twin daughters and used this as a playroom. It's located right in the middle of the house, adjacent to the formal living room and kitchen. It has a door that leads to our back deck and another that leads into a guest room. This room has four different entrances, so it's a major connecting point of the house.

We painted some rooms before we even moved into the house, including this one. I wanted it to be bright and fresh so that I could have a gallery look when I hung my artwork, so I went with Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore. 

We hung a thrift store chandelier and painted my old dining table to use as a desk, and that was how the room looked for more than a year while we worked on other parts of the house.

I finally got the motivational push I needed about six weeks ago when I was chosen by Leviton to participate in the Renu Challenge, a room makeover competition featuring 20 designers, bloggers and regular home owners. The challenge was to incorporate the Leviton Renu line (really fancy light switches and plugs that come in a rainbow of color combinations) into a room makeover. 

This is my first blogging competition, and it was a little bit intimidating because I looked at my competitors and noticed many are professional interior designers and most are way more "popular" than me and this little ol' blog. I mean, they actually have Twitter followers! I'm still trying to reach 125 Twitter followers over here. But I decided to just stay true to my decorating style (low budget with a lot of DIY flair) and do my very best. I really did not want to embarrass myself, so I worked very hard to make this room into a space I that makes me proud. 

This room is SO me. It's a lot more bold, quirky and creative than the rest of our house, and I did that on purpose. This is my work space, and I want to feel creatively stimulated when I'm in this room. While I try to make the rest of my home feel like a calm refuge from the world, I want this room to be exciting and energizing. 

Let's see some after pics, shall we?!

When I was considering which color switches/light plates to choose for the challenge, and it was a unique proposition because I have never used anything other than a plain white light switch. (I've always tried to downplay the switches and plugs instead of making them part of my room design.) I could have chosen white, but I felt like the interesting part of the Renu line is the color selection and the mix/match feature, so I wanted to take advantage of those elements. 

I provided a Q&A to their blog that explains why I chose black and white switches, but the main summary is that I was inspired to make the switches and plugs look like part of my gallery walls. I chose black frames and white switches to mimic the black frames and white mats I use to frame my artwork inside my home office/art studio. 

The gallery walls are a central element of this makeover. See how the corner gallery wraps from one wall to the other and blends perfectly with the light switch and plug?

Also, how cute is my $5 vintage office chair I found at the thrift store the other day? Love. (Although it
looks kind of crooked in this photo above, which I haven't noticed in person. Oh well.)

And then on the opposite wall, I did an unconventional gallery near my DIY letter bookshelf that also incorporates a switch and plug.

There's my $5 Milo Baughman chair, sitting so happily in the little reading corner. 

One of the few purchases I made for this makeover was the $100 Ikea Lappljung Ruta rug. It's so graphic, and it provides a perfect backdrop for the bright teal dining table I've had for 10+ years. I've always wanted to buy that rug but never had the perfect space – until now!

Did you notice the ceiling? I cut stars out of reflective silver contact paper (by hand!) and placed them on my ceiling one-by-one. Talk about tedious. Thank goodness it turned out to be one of my favorite design elements or I would be very bitter about how long that process took. At least it was a free project since I've had that contact paper sitting around for years now. 

I love how the ceiling bounces around the light and enhances the interesting ceiling in this space.

In the far corner, the husband repurposed a wooden bench we found in our attic (left by the previous owners) into floating shelves. I wanted more storage, but I didn't want to take up a lot of visual space. The floating shelves painted the same color as our walls were the perfect solution, and I love that we built them for free. 

We also spray painted the hardware on that Ikea Knodd trash bin  gold to make it a little more special. It's actually filled with dog food, not trash. 

If you have followed this blog on Facebook for a while, you may remember this incredibly random post that turned out to be my most popular post ever. Who knew you guys were so excited about pencil sharpeners?!  (I'm not sure what that says about my blog Facebook page, maybe I need to up my game if the best thing I've ever posted is a picture of a pencil sharpener.)

I asked on Facebook if I should keep the random pencil sharpener the previous owners left on the wall of the laundry room. Your answer? A resounding YES! I saved that beloved pencil sharpener this entire time and finally spray painted it gold for this room makeover. Doesn't it look so glamorous next to the vintage beaded top my grandmother passed down to me?

This rolling bookshelf is our "dog station" where we keep their food bowls, water bowl and all other pet paraphernalia. Perhaps not the prettiest, but extremely functional nonetheless. 

All in all, I am so thrilled with my new work space. It makes me so happy. I work from home twice a week and do all my blogging/crafting/artwork in here, so I'm in this space a lot. It really brightens my workday to have a special space all to myself. It's a big upgrade from sitting at my kitchen counter.

If you have any questions, hit me up in the comments! I thought about doing a source list, but there are so many small items and tiny details in this room. I'm happy to provide the source if you are interested in a specific item, although I will say that many are thrift store/flea market/DIY projects.

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