Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Evolution of a Gallery Wall


This is one of those things I have struggled with getting "right" for a long time. I have admiringly oogled over beautifully designed gallery walls for a while now. I have pinned and clipped photos to my hearts content. I have saved every "fool-proof" plan on how to achieve the look and still...FAIL. No matter what I did it just did not look right. I wasn't 100% sure of what I was going for. I would put something up, think "Eh, it's okay", then a few days later start picking out all that was wrong with it. And...back to Pinterest or any of the other image packed sites. 

Just sad...trying pieces and having dismantled what was there...

This was an attempt. The shelf I had made years ago from some brackets that had been painted for my girls' bedroom when they were teeny-tiny. I used an old wood shutter as the top. I like the shelf but it looks small.

The large picture was one taken at Christmas of Mister and my two younger girls picking a Christmas tree. I had it printed at Staples and mounted to piece of cardboard and put it into an frame I had laying around.


While I liked these things individually, I could not get them to work together. There was too much space in between the pieces...it's just not right. I needed to start over. Everything came off the wall. I started curating a collection from around my home. (Shop your home before buying new stuff!) I perused my clipped and saved photos online and took note of what had initially caught my eye and made me want to save it the photo begin with. 

I had a mirror that I bought with mother at a craft fair back in 1989 or 1990. I fell in love with it when I saw it and it was one of those purchases that I have never regretted. It had been packed away for a while but I knew I wanted to use it for this grouping. (Don't be afraid to rotate your decor or pack things away for a while.) Mirrors are a great tool for decorating. They are less expensive than a piece of large artwork, they add light to a room,  and don't have to tie you to a color scheme. Make sure you place it somewhere that it will reflect something pretty or opposite a window. 

I measured the space of wall that I wanted to cover with my collage. I made sure to leave some room on the sides, a little at the top, and some area at the bottom that would not interfere with someone sitting close to it. Once my proportions were right I used a piece of chalk and a level to mark the outside lines on my wall. 





I used the measurements to lay out space on my floor. Now, if you do not have the luxury of doing this while everyone is a work or at school.... join the club. Everybody was banned from the living room. It took a couple of tries where I would lay stuff out, take a picture, have to pick everything up and try again another day. I think I did that three times before I was happy. 


Once I had it where I thought it looked good, I took more pictures. I took time to look at spacing, ect. in each picture. I still didn't like the shelf. It looked wimpy... "Ooh, I have those old brackets from our "before" kitchen", I remembered. (Sometimes, I am glad I am a hoarder!) They needed a coat of paint and that did the trick. 


I hung the center piece, my mirror, first.


I then placed the outer edges. From there I measured out each piece, held the piece to the wall and chalked an outline. I marked everything with chalk as I was going through it and when I was happy with how it looked on the wall, I used my chalk marks to measure and hammer in the hooks. 

I had an empty picture frame and needed something in it but it is an weird size and so as I looked around at odds and ends in my craft pile I came up with the idea to use an old drawer pull to hang a piece of slate from. I recycled a cup pull from my demo'd kitchen, turning it upside down, to hold chalk. It all got mounted to a 1x4 that I stained then put the frame around it. 


I later went back and rewrote the word in chalk pen.


An old house means some old treasures like the escutcheon plates and knobs on some of the doors. When we first moved in we made the bathroom door into a pocket door but saved the hardware. Mounted to the wall, it made a perfect hanger for my basket. 




Ugh! Still not quite right! There is just too much wall showing between pieces and it is not what attracted me to all my pinned and saved photos. Try again! I shopped my house some more...

A paper towel roll, some hot glue and twine served as great ingredients for a garland. 


Pieces from favorite local haunts, like Vintage Thymes, that I have collected filled in gaps and spaces. 



I needed something to fit in a space about 6"x8" above the mirror. I had a picture of a sunflower that I had found online. (I can no longer find the source.) I printed it onto wax paper then laid it, ink side down, on an unfinished piece of scrap wood. (Saw that on Pinterest.) I used a spoon to burnish the ink onto the wood. It worked! I put a hanger on the back and here is the finished product...



There! I took pictures, filled in spaces, more pictures and tada! 



No, I couldn't leave well enough alone. I moved furniture around and now, I think it will stay this way a while...




What do you think? Is there a gallery wall in your future? Hope my trials help you to figure out how to work yours out. 

Link Parties I Am Going To: 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Entryway Update

* Disclaimer! The photos are all over the place on this post because I can't seem to beat my hubby to the mark. I always procrastinate and think "Oh, I will take pictures before we start", but when Mister is ready there is no waiting for photos!

We live in an antique colonial-cape. Upon entering my home you have a choice of three directions. You can close the door behind you and turn right, through the french door, into the living room,


Old photo, not these colors anymore.
turn left, through another french door, into the dining room,

Also doesn't look like this anymore...click here to see after.
or head straight upstairs to the office, bedrooms and only full bath.

When we moved in the stairs were covered in carpeting (no pictures) and ya know that had to go! The stairs, in keeping with the old house feel, are narrow and steep.....and boy, did they creak!

We painted it to look like this:







The bead board wainscoting and stairs were a raspberry-chocolaty color.  In keeping with the times, the walls had gotten a paint technique. First we painted the walls a warm yellow. Once dry, I went over with white paint that had an additive that extended the drying time. It allowed me to roll on a coat of white then I pulled a wallpaper brush through the wet paint to leave a stria effect with the yellow showing through.

Of course I couldn't leave it like that. Using my Donna Dewberry (remember her?) skills and stencils I painted two topiary on either side of the stairs. The floor was covered with an ugly piece of linoleum but neither of us were brave enough to want to try to tackle that at the time as it was securely glued down to the wood floor.

This was taken after we had already started the process, hence the big blob of white paint on my topiary.
But all that was over ten years ago and it didn't match where my home and style are now so what's a girl to do? Right.... Pinterest! First, I found pictures then...  pitched the idea to Mister. It took some time for him to get used to the idea but he is a good sport. When he does get the vision he is all in and I've already told you there is no waiting for my photos... First thing was to remove that linoleum! Underneath, the maple wood floors were in good condition, all things considered.


The stairs. Ugh. We first had to fix the squeaky steps so that took us to the basement door and a big mess of taking down the peel n' stick wallpaper, horse-hair plaster and lath. Yuck!

When we took down the plaster the only support was the dark piece of wood going down the center.

Once that was done we were amazed that we had not fallen through to the basement long before now! There was nothing supporting the stairs other than either end of each stair. No center support!

The center wood was not even notched into the stairs; just resting on the inside corner of each step!
Because these stairs were put in 150-200 years ago they were not done on uniform sets of stringers. Each step was individually cut thus the uneven stairs.




Mister put in a center support (1" thick plywood) then cut individual triangular-ish pieces to screw into that support in order to sure up each step. He went back up to the top side of the stairs and screwed right into the top of each step. That did the trick; not a squeak nor creak! Next, our favorite tool for an old house... caulking1 We used wood putty on the top side.

Now we (yup, Mister) could paint. Mister painted one side of the stairs first leaving us access to the upstairs while it dried and the next day he painted the other side. They ended up getting two coats as did the trim and doors upstairs. Ahhhh...clean. We used my go-to white, December Starlight, by Valspar.



The walls got a couple coats of this lovely gray, Ralph Lauren's Elgin Gray.


And............... bad idea............that was NOT going to work! The treads were going to be ugly within days. We decided that the risers would stay white but the treads would get a nice couple coats of blue; Behr's English Channel.





Sometimes you just have to put on your big girl pants and let go of the pretty dream. I will be much happier, long term, with the blue.



And this is the tiny entry way now. I still want to replace that light fixture as it does not go with my decorating style now but I have not found what I am looking for yet.









Now I am thinking I may need to paint the front door but don't know if I can bring myself to do that. What do you think?

Party Time!
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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

No Fuss Beach Decor

What happened to summer! It has been a busy one, this year. Summer started with a visit from my dad and my second oldest child graduating from high school.


There were trips to the Cape.



Nobska Lighthouse
I completed my first (I say that as if there will be more) remodeling job for someone other than myself. 


I did manage to get a few projects done around the house but I will save that for another time. There were more trips to the beach and sleep-overs and birthdays.



But before all of this I did some summer decorating. I got too busy doing stuff to ever get that post up on the blog and here it is now August 31st, the unofficial end of summer. All the bloggers I like to follow are posting autumn decor images, crafts and tutorials. Not me, no sir! Once again, I am clinging onto summer with every fiber of my being. It should be no surprise that my summer decorating revolves around all things beach. None of it is really fussy, just collected things from the beach like my beach glass, shells and rocks stuck in jars. 


Peonies from my June garden with a mixed bunch from our local florist.

Dried hydrangea from the garden, an old clock face under a cloche with a paper rose and twinkle lights to make it sparkle.






A card-catalog drawer painted and metal letters purchased from one of my favorite monthly markets. A Mary Engelbreit print from one of her old magazines framed up nicely.



My collection of heart stones found on the beach.

A pair of old corbels that came off our front porch when we had to do some repair work. They were covered due to lead paint. I cleaned them up and put on several coats of shellac. 

I have checked everything off of the summer to-do list:


I'm not ready to start thinking about decorating for autumn nor for facing the reality that it is almost time to get back to our home school routine-(like tomorrow) but time waits for no man- or procrastinating homeschooling, decorating, blogging mama. Hey, Labor Day is almost here. I bet I can get to the beach one more time!