the den is almost done!

it's not quite done, but i thought i'd share how far our little den has come with really just some colorful new accessories.

before.... super boring & beige:
after... much more lovely & light-filled!

i still have several more projects to finish... some throw pillows, a new craigslist-find coffee table that's awaiting a fun paint finish, & maybe a little something extra on that plain little loveseat. but it is really coming together... i'm so excited!


one more reason to love coffee.

i did it.

i finally jumped on the coffee filter wreath bandwagon.

i figured, with a $1 wreath form from the dollar tree & 2 packs of unbleached coffee filters, what is there to lose? [i ended up making one with the bleached white as well. they were just too yummy not to do 2 colors.]
so big. so fat. so glam. exactly what i needed on the big mirror in my dining room for some subtle color, something big & interesting, & lots of texture.
oh, all that texture. i want to hug it.
if finn were a girl i'd hang a white one over his crib. my excitement for them even bubbled over onto my facebook page, where i ended up selling one of each to a friend for her upcoming wedding. if you want one too, leave me a comment... i'm not sure if they'll mail but if you're in the area i'll meet up with you some where!

over coffee, maybe? it just seems right.


what a difference a shade makes...

i feel like i use that joke a lot. note to self, don't become a cheesy one-liner joke recycler. eep.

but! when i got those giant green lamps into our den, i did realize what a difference some nice, cozy lamp light makes. what i had already realized is how much i hated the overhead light fixture in that same room.
this room is officially the dining room, according to the builder's plan for our townhome. because the room is carpeted [we have kids!] & because there's a much larger room right off the kitchen with nice hardwoods, it made absolutely no sense for us to have our dining room table in here [although we did try it for a minute during christmas this past year]. so, that at least explains the existence of this standard, boring, dime-a-dozen builder's grade 3 lamp dining room fixture right in the middle of my living room.
i've tried other things to hide it, my favorite being 3 big white paper lanterns which i did like for awhile. i've even covered it in candy canes & hung 2 giant snowflakes on it, in attempts to give it some holiday spirit. no such luck.
i finally decided i wanted to find a ginormous drum shade to just cover it all up & make it feel more living room appropriate. the problem was, i'd need one that was 20 inches or more in diameter to fit over the arms of each lamp... which is no cheap thing to buy. sure, i'd heard plenty of stories of folks finding the holy grail of a 24 inch drum shade in perfect condition on ebay, at a thrift store, or at a lamp outlet place. but i was short on time & long on impatience with this ugly fixture.

i started by taking the glass shades off & using an S hook to loop the chain up until the fixture was about 5 inches from the ceiling.
pretty, right? you can see why i was in a hurry to cover the whole thing up. i was going to try out an embroidery hoop tutorial, but couldn't seem to find the huge hoops [actually quilting hoops] in stock anywhere. plus, i was a little tired from my last few projects going ever-so-slightly wrong. ever feel that way?

as luck would have it, i was browsing through world market looking for throw pillows when i stumbled across this guy among their mix & match lamps & shades... a big burlap shade that was 17 inches across the top & 20 inches across the bottom for just $30.


but did he fit?

there's not much room between the light bulbs and the edge of the lampshade & i had to unscrew a bit of the bottom of the fixture to get it on there, but who cares? it's exactly the look i wanted with no diy-ing & only $30. speaking of bulbs, i also got some new ones at wal-mart that specifically mentioned "open fixtures" on the packaging. i think the twirly energy-saving ones were just too darn bright.

here you can see how close the light bulbs come, & the ghetto rigging careful configuring i did to make the shade stay on there. we decided to keep the light on all day when i was home one afternoon & if the burlap didn't burst into flames, we were probably ok. [i'm mostly kidding- the bulbs are not hot to the touch & the shade has a plastic lining. use lots of caution & common sense when it comes to tiny electrical glass balls in your home!]
big drum shade for the win! i love love love how it looks! it's made a major difference in the room feeling like a den & not a dining room.
what's your favorite way to rig up some new lighting?


you too can gallery wall!

when we first moved in, i wanted to absolutely fill all these empty walls with gallery-style frame arrangements. there are so many well done ones floating around the internet to inspire! i did our black & white wall in the dining room:
& traded out old for new as our family grew & changed. this is more what it looks like now:
but when it came to the living room, we were hesitant to punch lots & lots of tiny holes all over. there was just so much wall space! after lots of discussion of options, we hung one long shelf with simple brackets & filled it with leaning frames. it ended up being a great idea for a time because we [ok, i] could constantly rearrange furniture & swap out the frames without having to re-do it all or have it look off-centered, etc.
the new place i had in mind was this big empty wall above the love seat in the den.
i even had a little teeny one in my mood board photo to test out the look. see it there on the left?
to get them hung, i used every trick in the book. i used the paper template method. i used the toothpaste method. i even used a level AND remembered to take an in-progress photo! i was a little concerned i might not have enough frames to fill the spot & it might look silly. i shouldn't have worried! they seemed to multiply as i started laying them out flat & arranging them.
i used some cheap packing paper [you know, the kind meant to be scrunched around your dishes when you're moving?] to get them centered & situated. granted, these are terrible no-light after the kids are in bed shots, but it really proves the blah beige need for some color on this wall, right?
the best thing about gallery walls is that you don't have to have a bunch of huge frames. if you group enough medium/small ones together they read as one larger piece! i really love how purposeful the end result is!
it looks great considering it's unexpectedly the first major view in eyesight as you come through the front door:
i guess now i have to do some tweaking to reflect that we'd had a second child! is there a spot on your walls that needs some filling? i've pinned lots of really pretty gallery/frame arrangements on my 'pretty for home' board if you want to check that out... pinterest of course is a treasure trove of ideas of all the different ways to do one.


world's most GIANT mirror!

ok, so not THE world's most giant mirror... the lady i bought it from had just replaced it with a gorgeous one about 3 times bigger, which truly was the biggest mirror i've ever seen ever. but i snapped this one up for $40 within a couple hours of her listing it. don't you love it when rich people sell their "old" stuff on craigslist?
but still, it is large. probably the biggest single thing to hang on our wall that i've ever purchased.luckily, it's not as heavy as it looks, but unfortunately, it doesn't exactly bend. i had a heck of a time trying to get it in my car, and for a few minutes was sincerely worried i was going to have to leave my newly-purchased mirror on the lady's driveway until i could go home & come back with my husband's truck.

i ended up wedging it face down & horizontally across the entire interior of my camry, with one edge precariously near to to the corner of my eye as i drove.

but we made it home! and look how huge:
again, the gold & crackle is a bit much [although in the right space it could really be kinda glam] but look at the gorgeous detail!

so i hit it with some aqua spray paint
& then some ralph lauren smoke glaze. look how it brought out all the scripty-scrollies & toned down the blue just a tad:
but i hung it up in our new den & it was screamingly obvious- way too blue. i mean, i was going for big bright statement piece, but the statement this one was making was more 'what is up with that mirror?' in a bad way. so back to the drawing board.

i repainted [by hand this time] some icy blue "oops" paint i found at home depot on the edges in between the fancy scrollies, leaving them the aqua so that they would still pop.
then i re-glazed all the freshly painted parts so that it would blend a little more...
& now i love it! it looks so nice down that long hallway, centered in the middle of the wall, reflecting [hopefully] all the sunlight from the big window on the opposite wall! i think visually it goes a long way to bringing me closer to my inspiration board. it's really coming together!
i love how it looks reflecting the new gallery wall!


the look for less: lamp lovely!

a big priority for my living room/den revamp was some new lamps! firstly, so that i could stop using the overly bright actually-meant-to-be-the-dining-room overhead fixture & secondly, i wanted a matching pair to bring in some symmetry to my typically rather eclectic home.

what i wanted to purchase were these lamps from target:
although i swear in the store they were the perfect shade of green... maybe i'm thinking of these:
either way, unfortunately, they were $50.
deal breaker.

so what i did purchase were these huge, terrifyingly brassy wonders.
do you ever see someone walking out of goodwill with something completely crazy? and you start wondering what on earth they are going to do with that item & why on earth they could possibly want to part with any amount of money for them?

yeah. that's pretty much what i think people were thinking as i walked to the car with one of these huge gals under each arm [& a giant smile on my face!]. they're seriously ginormous- did you see my sunglasses up there hiding in the shadow of their enormity?
but at goodwill they were much more my price range... $6 EACH. i won't even try to describe the sound my husband made when i walked through the door with these wonders. the very first thing i said was, "don't worry, they're not going to stay this way!" and thankfully, i had a vision...

the vision is always easier than the actual execution. i spray painted them in the basement when they were really cold, with no primer, & they did crackle up quite a little bit. it was really frustrating, but i've learned my lesson- always always always prime when the thing you're spray painting is anything besides wood! [if it's made out of wood, chances are i'm going to distress the heck out of it anyways.]
so with a bit of grumbling i sanded them smooth again, primed, & re-spray painted. annoying, but luckily not too much of a tragedy!
this is a true likeness of the color in the daylight- rustoleum's satin eden which i LOVE. i've literally had to resist painting everything in our house this color. i happened to have some thick grosgrain ribbon in the same shade of green, & hot-glued it to 2 drum shades from our old lamps & it was just the perfect match. they're exactly what i wanted, and quite the steal at just $6 each!
i have to say too that i was greatly underestimating the effect of lighting on the 'feel' of a room. i've always hated the dark cave feeling of this room with its no windows & cheapo builder light fixture. i tried to play up the purposeful-ness of that by making the room our movie watching den, where you want it a little dark anyway, but the addition of a huge mirror and these 2 lamps
completely changes the mood! now it has a snuggly warm glowy feeling to it rather than a stark ill-lit feeling. a major difference, & i couldn't be happier!


my favorite paint finish.

have you ever spent a good long amount of time painting something just to beat the heck out of it after it dried? on purpose? that's pretty much my favorite technique...

1- because i'm indecisive & rarely stick with the first paint color i pick

2- because i'm a perfectionist & every
minuscule streak of paint on a smooth paint finish bothers me

& 3- probably because i'm a little lazy & definitely an amateur.

it doesn't take much to whip out a paint brush or spray can & go at it. & a new coat of paint can work wonders on pretty much anything! but i feel like busting out your high-grit sandpaper after & going to town on the thing takes it from painted thing to really interesting what's the story with that where did you find it painted thing.

i do this a lot with picture frames because they're low investment & easy to re-do if you really hate it afterward. here's a few examples:

distressing changes a messy, quickie paint job with cheap craft paint on a cheap $1 frame to a cute weathered beachy look that i love:

if you do it with multiple layers of paint you get a completely different effect. i thought these plain brown frames needed some color, so i went with a bright green & then decided it was too much. so i covered that with a bright blue that i decided was too much [see the note above re: indecisive]. so i took a sanding block & worked almost all of both the paints off until lots of the original frame showed through & added a tiny bit of glaze to finish it off:
completely different! seriously, there is no trick to it. you just sand until you think you've done too much, & then sand a little more. and these frames ended up being a great way to bring those blues & greens i love into the room even more.

well... i like this little 'messy distress-y' look even more on furniture. it feels a little naughty to paint something entirely & then entirely mess it up. i had this little table i inherited from my mom that i liked the shape of & knew it was good solid wood, but the plain brown was just a little too plain & i'm trying to do away with quite so many plain brown wood surfaces around here. so i spray painted it a bright blue
[the same from the picture frames above.]:
i really liked the color, but it turned out super glossy & glam, which just wasn't quite what i was going for, & definitely didn't fit in with the rest of my worn-in laid-back stuff.
then i saw a picture of this crazy awesome media cabinet & knew for sure i wanted to sand all that blue paint almost completely off. [check out the room she used it in too, it's completely amazing. i love her whole blog.]

so to the power sander i went. love that thing! i've used it so much hubs says it's officially mine. [some men get their wives flowers & chocolate for valentine's- mine got me belt sander refills because he's awesome & knows me. AND chocolate.]

i sanded almost all of the blue off of the top, & as much as i could get off of the curvy legs.it was a situation where the more i sanded it, the more i liked it!
things like this make me wonder why i wait so long to follow through on an idea & why i'm so intimidated by just going for it? it looks beat-up, worn-in & like it's been hiding in a barn or some place awesome for a long time. it's sanded so much, it's even soft. is it weird for a piece of furniture to be soft? i LOVE it.

& the perfect little spot for it:
i thought the bright teal, even distressed, might clash a little with my very navy chairs [more on those soon!] but i think it actually adds a bit of dimension... all the same exact blue would be very boring, & it seems to make something that could read a little too traditional [a matching set of navy armchairs] a little funkier, especially considering the chairs are a fun print!


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