Fireplace Transformation

img_0851One of the main elements of our new living room is the fireplace and built-in housing for the television. This multi-faceted project took a long time to complete, and ended up including some DIY work on our parts that we weren’t initially planning for.

img_9293aThe original fireplace was very bare, and lacked presence. The brick face was broken in a few spots, and the remnants of carpeting were stuck to the bottom edge. Overall it was unappealing and needed a change.

fireplaceconceptWe knew that we wanted to be able to cover up our television when it was not in use, as well as house all of our electronic devices inside of a media cabinet. Once we determined the color of the tile and how the doors would open, we started designing the entire piece. James created this concept art, and we worked with Martin Cabinet Designs to figure out the specifics of mounting the television and running the cables. They then had the difficult task of building the cabinetry over the existing broken fireplace.

img_9903img_0850The level of detail they added was exactly what we were looking for, and it came out perfectly in both design and function. It instantly became a part of the room, enabling us to easily forget that it ever wasn’t there at all.

img_9900With the carpentry done, we thought that we would be hiring contractors to tile over the brick, but because it was such a small job, we decided to do the tiling ourselves.

img_0123This was our first time ever using mortar, but it was easy enough to apply to the brick. First we had to smooth out the surface, which was especially difficult around the pieces of carpet that were stuck to the bottom.

img_0124img_0130For the tile itself we went with 3 inch square tiles from Fireclay Tile in Kelp, which has a lovely variety in shading, and a subtle shattered look. We used 1/4 inch spacers, which gave us plenty of leeway if our tile placement wasn’t entirely even.

img_0128Having to use a wet saw was one of my biggest hesitations, as they can certainly be intimidating, and proper safety precautions are very important. Once I got the hang of it, it cut very cleanly and made the whole project go smoothly.

img_0132img_0135After setting all of the tiles and allowing the mortar to dry it was time for the grout. We picked a white grout to let the green of the tile really stand out.

img_0134We were relieved to get a clean edge around the bottom, and the bullnose tiles around the rim of the hearth give it a softer look in comparison to the sharp brick edge that was there before.

img_0848Once it was all dry and finished, we placed a new fireplace screen that better matched the iron detailing in our living and dining rooms, and added a couple of plants to the hearth. Another home design project successfully checked off our list.

 

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Staining and Upholstering Chairs

When we started to look for dining room furniture for our home, I knew that I would want round back chairs. I have always loved the style, and the soft curves would be fitting for the look of our living room. We searched high and low for an affordable option that would match our color scheme, but finding the perfect ones seemed impossible. A couple of months ago, we found the correct style for sale, but when we received the chairs they were no where near the color of our table, so I decided to re-stain and re-upholster them myself.

IMG_9526The process was long and complicated, but this was the best way to guarantee that we would have the style of chair we envisioned. Here you can see the original chair, which was very gray covered in a rough gray fabric.

IMG_9530IMG_9532We took off the original gray fabric, and removed the old finish. After prepping the wood for staining (I read a lot on the nuances of how to properly remove old stain, sand, and condition wood), I applied a gel based stain that would closely match the color of our dinning room table.

IMG_9541Once the process of re-staining and finishing the wood on the chairs was complete, it was time to re-upholster. We looked at several fabric swatches, and decided on this light champagne color to create a soft, neutral space.

IMG_9542The last part of the process was to make piping for the bottom and back of each chair. Thankfully, I have plenty of experience with a sewing machine, so this was the easiest part of the project.

IMG_9529I made the piping on the bottom a bit thicker than the one on top as it seemed more fitting for the proportions. The piping not only hides the staples put in to hold the fabric, it also makes the chairs look complete and elegant.

IMG_9527This has been one of the most difficult projects I’ve taken on, but absolutely worth all of the effort. I love how the chairs look in our space, and can’t wait to finish the rest of the dinning room changes, which we will reveal here as soon as they are ready.

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Handmade Lavender Sachets

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There’s a reason sachets are so popular: they’re simple to make, have many uses, and make excellent gifts. I love making these little sachets to put inside drawers, as a decorative piece on the bed, or even to throw into the dryer in lieu of dryer sheets.

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To make these little bags I first traced 6 4″ x 5 1/2″ rectangles onto a piece of fabric. I then embroidered little images of lavender onto three of the rectangles using two shades of purple and one shade of green.

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Next, I cutout the six rectangles and paired each plain one with an embroidered one, then hemmed all of the tops of the rectangles so that the fabric wouldn’t fray. The embroidered pieces were flipped to face in, and each set of two was sewn along the edges on the bottoms and long sides of the rectangles.

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After that, I flipped the bags so that the lavender embroidery would be facing out. Lastly, each bag was filled with about 1/3 cup dry lavender and the tops were tied with twine. The dry lavender smell will last for months, and the pouches can be refilled whenever necessary.


Striped Picnic Blanket

James and I love going on picnics, but finding a pretty picnic blanket that we don’t mind getting dirty at an affordable price has proven to be a challenge.  So, I decided to make a simple one myself using fabric I already had at home and fabric paint in two colors.

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To get started I cut out a large square of fabric and hemmed each side with a sewing machine. I drew out the pattern on a piece of paper beforehand, and used a ruler and masking tape to tape off the sections that would be painted. I then painted in the stripes and let the paint dry completely (at least 4 hours).

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The final product is pretty, comfortable, and affordable. I’m excited to take this new blanket to many picnics and beach days this summer.

 


Hand Painted Egg Cups

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I’ve been on the lookout for egg cups for quite some time now, but have been unable to find a complete set that isn’t either plain white, or does not suit our kitchen’s color scheme. Instead of continuing the search, I decided to buy some simple white ones and paint them myself at home with some acrylic paint and clear glaze.

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I picked colors that matched our kitchen table and hutch, and alternated them to create three different patterns. The design on the middle part was done using a small handmade stencil.

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Once all of the cups were painted and glazed, I let them dry for about 12 hours and then placed them in a cool oven set to 350F for 40 minutes (the cups have to heat with the oven or the harsh temperature difference can crack the paint).

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I’m very excited to have this little set and can’t wait to enjoy many warm egg breakfasts with them.

 

 


Handmade Wedding Gown Sash

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We are currently on an airplane (I love in flight wi-fi) on our way to Rhode Island. This week-end we are taking care of  some wedding planning details, one of which will be getting my first set of alterations done for my wedding gown. I’ve had to do some prep work leading up to this weekend aside from the trying to get in better shape situation most brides put themselves in. The first thing I had to make sure to do was find my wedding shoes so that the tailor can alter the hem. This mostly involved a lot of online shopping. Eventually I found this pair in nude color that I felt worked well with my dress, and are comfortable enough to wear the whole day.

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The other component was making a sash for my dress. This is not a necessary piece, but after trying on some ribbons around my waist when I was dress shopping, I decided I wanted to make my own. I loved the idea of having a piece of my wedding ensemble be something that I made with my own hands, so I took the challenge and am very pleased with the results.

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Using a variety of fabrics in different shades of blush and champagne, I constructed three of these little flowers.

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I started off by tracing different size circles onto the fabrics with a pencil and three different sized glasses.

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Once I had all of my circles traced, I carefully cut out the circles with fabric scissors.

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This took the longest amount of time since I cut many more circles than I would need, to have a lot of options for those that would make it into the final product.

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Then, using an unscented wax candle, I carefully singed the edges of the fabric.

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The singeing of the fabric has two purposes: 1. it seals the edges so that the fabric won’t fray, 2. it makes the fabric curl in to give the illusion of a flower petal.

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I used a blush colored lace fabric to give the flowers a bit more delicate detail. Using nail scissors, I cut out along the edges of the shapes in the lace to make the flowers have a more textured look.

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Once I had all of my pieces, I sorted out just those pieces I wanted to use. A few pieces had a slightly burned edge due to the singeing process. Then, I stacked the circles from largest to smallest, insuring that each flower had all four fabrics incorporated.

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Once the main body of the flowers were finished, I stitched in a few pearls in the very center of each.

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I made one larger flower for the center of the sash, and two smaller ones to go on the sides.

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Next I got to working on the ribbon itself. I purchased a light champagne colored ribbon, and a lace ivory colored ribbon with small pearls attached throughout. Using a small needle, I stitched the two ribbons together at various points. I did not want the lace to lay completely flat against the ribbon, so I only secured it at the tops and middle of the lace.

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Once the ribbon was ready, I secured the three flowers with needle and ivory thread so that they would be positioned just slightly to the right of my middle.

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It took many hours to complete this, but I couldn’t be happier with the final result. I cannot wait to see what it will look like on my wedding gown.


Save The Date

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The countdown toward wedding day has started. Although perhaps a bit early, we decided to send out our save the dates a year in advance. It will give our guests more than enough time to get any affairs sorted before flying out to New England. We’ll be travelling a lot in the upcoming year to plan the wedding and I am a little nervous about planning a wedding that will take place across the country from where we live, but excited nonetheless.

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James and I are both quite detail oriented and most importantly place a lot of thought and value into any aesthetics surrounding our lives. Creating the save the dates was a much more intensive process than we initially thought, but even after the frustrations of not finding just the right shades of paper and figuring out just how to create our mailing labels, we were happy with the finished products.

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Paper and labels weren’t our only obstacles along the way. It seemed that every idea we had was faced with a great challenge. We decided to create a pseudo train ticket format to signal out the date of our wedding by creating a calendar box and punching out the holes for the month and day. The process of creating the images we wanted was easy peasy, but finding the pieces to execute our ideas didn’t prove to be such. After we had finally found papers we were content with, a great print shop to handle the printing and cutting, spent hours cutting and gluing the labels, and even much thought devoted to what stamps we should use, we were faced with the duty of finding a hole puncher. You would think that that would be the least of our worries, but apparently no place we visited, art supply or office supply store, carried something as simple as a 1/8′ hole puncher. So we decided to do the next logical thing that anyone would do in the year 2013: we purchased one online. ‘Problem solved!’ – we thought. ‘I think not!’ said the hole puncher. We received our hole puncher and were ready to finish our lovely save the dates to find that the hole puncher was not long enough to reach our desired area on the cards.  James was a flurry of frustration, but I didn’t want to give up so soon. So we decided to take it apart, which as has been the theme, put up a bigger fight than it should have. As you can see I literally torched the thing and it was still resilient.

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In the end, we won.

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We each took half the pile to put in the mail box. The first project for our wedding complete.

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And off they went! A labor of love. If we were able to beat all these pesky little blocks in the road, we can do anything.

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