Tag: DIY

Just Call Us the Griswolds

Can you tell by the theme of my posts this week that I’m in full holiday prep mode? If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know we may have gone overboard in our recent shopping trips for outdoor Christmas decorations for the new house…

Christmas Haul

We have enough lights, garland, ornaments and bows to decorate the entire block. Okay, well, maybe not. But we did go a little crazy. Mike and I both love the holiday season and we’re having a blast buying decorations for the new house. It’s a thrill to finally have a home to decorate! Our motto is, “divide the cost by all the years we’ll be putting these to good use.” Yeah, we’ll go with that.

Let’s take a closer look at what we bought to (hopefully) achieve the look we have planned for the outside of our house. I did a ton of searching (both online and in stores) for the perfect wreath to adorn both the front and side of our house. Our home is on a corner lot and exposed on three sides, so we’re planning to decorate more than just the front view. None of the wreaths that fit my budget were quite right, so I decided to buy unadorned, non-lit wreaths and style them myself (hello, future blog post). I can’t wait to get these babies put together to share the final product with you! Here’s the base wreaths that I purchased for around $15 a piece.

Wreaths

And after some more search and planning, these are the decorations I went with to decorate them.

Wreath Decorations

Notice the ‘G’ from my post last week? I told you I wanted to sneak it into my holiday decor! I played around with these decorations after we got home from shopping last night to give you an idea of what I’m envisioning.

Test Wreath

Like I said, the wreath above is no where near final, I just wanted to lay everything out to see if I liked how the pieces were all coming together. I’m hoping to hang the wreaths in the window with a spotlight shining on each one. I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

We also purchased a ton of lights and garland to adorn the outside of our home. One of my favorite things that Mike found were these red and green Edison bulb light strands. I’m obsessed with the festive, vintage feel these have and I can’t wait to see them go up. Mike really wanted some sort of colored bulbs out front and I was struggling to figure out a way to pull everything together – especially since traditional colored light strands include non-traditional colors like purple, yellow and orange. I think these lights will add color without looking too visually overwhelming. What a great find!

Edison Bulb Light Strand

Mike also wanted to wrap the three trees in our front/side yard with lights, so we picked up three 300-bulb packs of mini lights to wrap the trunks and we’ll hang these oversized red and green ornaments from the branches for an extra special touch.

Oversized Ornaments

Finally, we’ll give the look a finishing touch by putting these candles in the front and side windows of our home to give it a soft glow. We decided not to line the house in lights for safety reasons (neither of us are interested in climbing on a high ladder or a roof) so I think these candles will add some sparkle instead.

Window Candles

There you have it! A sneak peek of all the stuff we got in our two-night marathon of shopping trips in preparation for the big Christmas decoration bonanza that’ll be happening at our house during the weekend after Thanksgiving (if we can hold out that long). How are you guys planning for the upcoming holiday season? Any outdoor decorating tips to share before we get started?

DIY Christmas Tree Garland

Happy Monday! I had a pretty leisurely weekend catching up with friends and family, so I wanted to squeeze in some time to do a Christmas craft in preparation for our holiday decorating bonanza that will be happening over the next few weekends. I made a cute paper bunting as a decoration for our housewarming party, and I loved the look of it so much I left it up until a few weeks ago – well past the date of the party. I wanted to bring back the look of the bunting but give it a holiday flair, so I used the same technique to make this Christmas tree garland.

DIY Christmas Tree Garland

My first step was to search for a simple Christmas tree image to print out and use as a template. After a quick search I found this sweet, rounded Christmas tree that was meant to be a coloring page for kids. The simplicity was exactly what I was looking for, so I printed it and cut it out to get started. Though I loved the star on top, it just wasn’t practical for this craft so I had to cut it off.

Template

Next up was choosing the scrapbook paper to make the garland out of. I bought a book of Christmas-themed paper a few years ago so I just thumbed through it until I found the look I wanted. I chose four coordinating patterns to give the garland a little variety while keeping it easy on the eyes. It’s visually interesting without being too busy.

Scrapbook Paper¬†With the paper chosen it was time to trace my template onto the back of each page. I traced three Christmas trees on each page for a total of twelve trees. The finished garland came out to be about two feet long, so keep this in mind when you’re choosing how many trees to cut out.

Tracing

When all your trees are cut out it’s time to punch a small hole in the top where you’ll thread the twine through. I recommend punching a few test holes into the template tree first so you don’t ruin one of your hard-earned trees with a poorly placed hole punch.

Hole Punch

One of the added benefits of a craft project like this is the confetti that results from punching holes into cute craft paper. Check it out! I’m saving this as I go because I can definitely see this looking adorable in a confetti balloon or strewn across a table at a party. This is about three projects worth of confetti so it will be a while before I have enough to use for a party – but you could always make your own by punching wholes throughout a few pieces of scrapbook paper. I don’t think it’d take you very long, either.

Confetti

Anyway, back to the garland. We’re almost done! Now it’s time to string the trees onto your twine. I recommend threading the twin trough the back of the whole twice so the twin wraps around each side of the hole giving it more stability. If you only thread it through once your tree will turn more to one side and your garland won’t look very good from straight on. This is a pretty tedious step too, but once you have your twine threading down pat it moves more quickly.

Twine

The beauty of this project is that the twine holds the Christmas trees in place so you don’t have to go through the extra step and added cost of adhering them (though you can if you want). To hang the garland, I simply wrap the ends of the twine around a thumb tack and push it into the wall. I’m eventually planning to hang this over my mirror in the dining room so you won’t be able to see the thumb tacks at all, but it doesn’t photograph well so I pinned it up on the half wall leading into my kitchen to give you an idea of what it looks like hanging.

There you have it! DIY Christmas tree garland that’s as easy to make as it is on your budget. I actually had all these materials on hand, so this custom garland project only cost me $0. I’m hoping to do some more Christmas crafts on the blog leading up to the holiday. What about you? Have you gotten crafty with your holiday preparations? Do you have a traditional holiday craft that you make every year?

House Tour Part One

My husband Mike and I purchased our first home in March 2013, and we’ve been making it our own ever since. The house was a short sale and it definitely needed some TLC. We’ve painted nearly every square inch of wall, ceiling, trim and door in the place in addition to replacing the carpeting upstairs and ripping out dingy carpeting in the downstairs living room in favor of more dog-friendly laminate. We also took down a glitter-tastic popcorn ceiling that spanned the entire downstairs. I’m very proud of the updates we’ve made to our abode and I plan to blog from time to time about home decor (it’s a passion of mine) so I figured I’d give you a lay of the land. The first phase of our virtual home tour covers the downstairs floor of our two-story townhouse. Here we go!

Welcome to Casa Genovese (fondly known by many of our friends as ‘The G-Spot’ thanks to my husband’s wicked sense of humor). Here’s the view as soon as you walk in the front door. The kitchen is at the front of the house (to the left) with a door to a half bath and another to our pantry/garage to the right. You can see straight through to the living room from here.

EntryThis is our kitchen. It’s the most colorful room in the house. I chose to paint it a vibrant red/coral color that plays really well with the cabinets. The bright color works in here because of the floor length windows that bathe the room in sunlight. Eventually we’d like to install a backsplash to kick it up a notch, but this kitchen has come a long way from what it looked like when we bought it. Two words: wallpaper border. Ugh! Thank goodness it’s gone.

Bay Windows

Fridge

Cabinets

SinkA downstairs half bath is one of three bathrooms in our house. I chose to amp up the small space with a fun striped wall. We installed the new vanity a few months ago, and I handled the plumbing!

New Vanity

Hall Bath

Striped Wall

 

Just past the kitchen and bathroom is the dining room. One of our most impactful updates in the dining room was replacing the old ‘boob light’ fixture with this new chandelier. The dining set is very special to us, too. The table was Mike’s grandmom’s that was used for years and years to make big batches of gnocchi for family holidays, and the chairs were handed down to me from my Nana (who has a flair for decorating).

Dining Room

View to Living Room

Our living room is a wide room that spans the entire width of the house. We replaced old carpeting with this new laminate to match the existing hardwood in the dining room and entry. Eventually, we’d like to give the windows a more custom, high-end look by installing built-in bookcases and a window seat. How awesome would that be?!

CouchEntertainment Unit

Finally, our living room opens onto a patio in our back yard. The back yard is one of the reasons we loved this townhouse because it gives our dog Cody a place run free. We haven’t done much out here other than purchasing a grill (which we use ALL the time) and a chimnea to give the patio a little ambience. We’re hoping to purchase some new patio furniture and build out a deck over the old, cracked concrete patio in the spring. The fence will be getting a fresh coat of paint, too!

Patio

 

I can’t wait to show you the second story in a post next week, and I’ll be sure to share any DIY projects as we continue to update our place. Are you working on any renovations right now? What DIY projects got your home looking like new?

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DIY Vanity Upgrade

I’m excited to post my first DIY project ¬†– a vanity upgrade that I completed right before our housewarming party back in September. For just $19, I upgraded my beloved vanity to better fit our new space, and I’m in love with the result!

New Navy Vanity

I have a very soft spot in my heart for this desk-turned-vanity that has been with me since college. I purchased it at a thrift store for $35 when I was moving into my first apartment, and I promptly gave it a more personal touch by spray painting the hardware turquoise. Always an overachiever, I decided to also repaint a neat hand-me-down chair with the same turquoise color to give it some extra punch. At the time I loved the combination, but I finally felt like I was growing out of it as I honed my DIY savvy and my decorating sense. I just knew I could do a better job and give it more style.

Old Vanity

The old vanity’s bright turquoise hardware and matching chair that I loved in our old apartment just wasn’t translating well in our new master bedroom. It was feeling very mismatched to me (in an ahhh-what-is-that-eyesore-in-the-corner way, not a cute-vintage-thriftstore-makeover way) and I knew I had to give it an update before our closest family and friends showed up to help us break in our abode the following weekend.

A few months earlier I had pinned this vanity because I loved the look of the huge mirror resting on top. The vanity base reminded me of my desk, and as luck would have it my mom was looking to unload an oversized mirror with an awesome wooden frame. She saw my pin and told me she’d give me the mirror for free (score!) so project DIY-vanity-upgrade was launched!

Mirror Prep

I started by dragging the mirror and my painting materials (drop cloth, spray paint, cardboard and painter’s tape) out to the backyard where I could safely use the spray paint in a well ventilated area. I washed the frame down to get rid of any dust and dirt so the paint would stick for the long haul. Then, I cut a piece of cardboard to cover the mirror while I let the frame fully dry. When it was taped off leaving just the raw frame exposed, I spray painted the frame in short, quick blasts being careful not to spray the paint on too thick. The key to a smooth finish when spray painting is taking the time to do several thin coats to avoid drips.

Navy Mirror

When the mirror was finished it was time to move onto the bigger part of the project – refinishing my new natural wood stool. After doing some comparison shopping I decided to purchase a $13 stool at Target and refinish it myself to stick to my budget with the housewarming party right around the corner. I chose to purchase a new stool to replace the chair because my vanity sits right outside the doors to both our walk-in closet and our master bath, so I figured a stool would be a little more streamlined in such a busy space.

To refinish the stool, I started by sanding down the polyurethane finish and giving it a thorough wipe down to remove any dust that the sanding left behind. When the stool was fully dry it was ready for paint, and I gave it an all-over coat of crisp white. After letting the first coat dry fully, I applied painter’s tape in even stripes across the top and around the circumference of the stool. I also taped a drop cloth around the legs of the stool to protect my fresh coat of white paint from any navy overspray. I chose to tie the mirror into the stool by painting stripes on top of the stool in the same navy color as the mirror, and I love the way it turned out!

My last step was to repaint all the hardware from the vanity in the same crisp white as the stool. The vanity is actually a cream color and I really like the way the crisp white of the stool and handles contrasts with the vanity’s finish without being too compete-y. When all the painting was finished and dry to the touch I removed the painter’s tape and drop clothes so they wouldn’t stick to the finish. I then let all the pieces cure for 24 hours before putting them back into use. This is a very important step with spray painting to ensure the quality of your final product.

I wanted to choose functional yet beautiful accessories to top the vanity, so I ended up choosing a narrow tan and white tray to hold my foundation and perfume where I can easily grab them. I also added a vintage glass with gold stripes on the left side where I like to keep a fresh cut flower. It cheers me up. Hey, it’s the little things, right? And a vanity is something you’ll be using at least once a day, so it might as well make you happy!

Here’s the end result. What do you think of the before and after? Have you redone a piece of furniture to better fit a new space recently?

Vanity Before & After

Hi! I’m Brie.

It’s nice to meet you by way of this blog post. As the name of my little corner of the internet suggests – this blog is about my life. Why did I choose such a broad topic? Because I want to share so many aspects of my life with you. I had trouble pinning down a ‘theme’ for my blog, but I knew I wanted to write.

Brie Apple Picking

I’ve always loved expressing myself through writing. I’m one of those weird people who pours themselves into writing, closes the document or hits send on an email, and then promptly reopens it just to reread what I wrote. It gives me a thrill. Very weird, I know – but it makes me tick.

Why is the title of my blog in French? Because it rhymes (nice!), and because I happened to take French in school from grades 6 through 12. I got all the way to honors French 5 (whoa!) …and I don’t remember a lick of it – except for little phrases like the one in the title of my blog. But I have fond memories of learning French, so it’s sort of an homage to all the little pieces of the puzzle that make up my life, like learning French in a tiny little high school in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for quite a while now. My friends and family have nudged me to start it for just as long, but I’m a firm believer in listening to my intuition. And my gut said, “you’ll know when you’re ready.” As you may guess, my gut recently followed up with, “I’m ready,” and here we both are. Me, writing, nervous to share my passion with whoever’s interested enough to read my scribbles, and you, the interested party, who I have unending gratitude for because you’ve decided to read what I have to say. Thank you for that. I appreciate it.

Through this blog I’m hoping to share things I’m truly passionate about. I’m no Martha Stewart or Julia Child, but I love trying my hand at crafting and cooking just the same. Check back to see what kind of DIY adventure I’ve gotten myself into. I’ll be sure to share the good, and even some of the ugly. There’s a lot to be said for ‘course correcting.’