Conversation Heart Door Hanger

 

Valentine Door Hanger

Sometimes I just need to paint something, glue something, and make something cute, ya know? Life can get so hectic but there is something about taking 30 minutes (or less) and doing a craft  project that calms me down. So every once in a while I will stop what I’m doing and pull out some supplies and see what happens.

That’s the story behind this quick, easy and totally cute Valentine’s Day craft – a “conversation heart” door hanger that is perfect for any door or small wall space in your home. Paint the hearts any color you like, write a few sayings, glue on some ribbon and voila! Instant gratification.

And then you can resume your busy schedule.

Valentine Craft Supplies

Supplies

3 Wooden hearts from the craft store (4″ across)

1 Spool of red & white polka dot ribbon (1.5″ wide)

Acrylic craft paint (I used yellow, pink and lavender)

Foam paint brushes

Red paint pen

Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Sand paper or sanding block

 

Directions

1. Lightly sand each wooden heart with the sanding block or sand paper. Just enough to smooth out any rough edges. Remove any dust with a barely damp paper towel.

2. Paint each heart a different color. Apply at least 2 coats for complete coverage, allowing to dry between coats.

3. When the paint is completely dry, write conversation heart sayings on each heart with the red paint pen. (You could use a red Sharpie marker if you don’t have a paint pen.) For inspiration on what to say, click here for a recap of the newest sayings from the maker of the Sweethearts candy.

4. Lay out the hearts, spacing them evenly apart. Measure a length of ribbon – you want it long enough to fit all the hearts plus at least 6 inches above and below the hearts.

5. Glue the hearts in place with hot glue. (Use more than you think you need.)

6. Fold down the top inch of the ribbon and secure with a dot of hot glue (you want a double thickness of ribbon to be tied into the bow).  Measure another length of ribbon to create a bow – about 2 yards if you want the streamers to be as long as middle ribbon. Use this ribbon to tie a bow around the top of the ribbon with the hearts, making sure the knot is nice and tight.

7. Cut the bottom edge of the ribbons in an inverse “V” shape if desired. Hang the doorhanger from the knot in the bow from a nail or hook.

 

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7 Ways to Refresh a Room in 15 Minutes or Less

Time is relative. Fifteen minutes may seem like an eternity if you’re stuck in traffic and late for work. Or, it may seem like the blink of an eye when you’re in the zone working on a project.  It’s the same quantity of time, and it will pass whether we are sitting still or moving fast.

When decorating your home, you can make an enormous difference in a room just 15 minutes at a time. So without further ado, here are 7 ways that you can start to refresh your entire home. Simply set a timer and work for 15 minutes. You might be amazed at what you can do.

Who says there’s no time to decorate?

 

1. Clear some clutter

Cluttered table

Sometimes refreshing a room is like the old adage, “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” Meaning, there’s just too much stuff in the way of seeing the room and its features and furnishings.

I’m not saying you’re going to completely de-clutter and organize your entire house in 15 minutes. But what can you do? Maybe it’s just cleaning off the kitchen table or the counter. The room will look and feel better instantly!

Nearly every decorating plan starts with cleaning and decluttering—removing anything that is not used frequently, belongs somewhere else, or gets in the way of the room’s purpose. Examples might include shoes, toys, magazines, papers, clothes, dishes and glasses, or even furniture.

Look at your room with an objective eye. What really doesn’t belong there? Unless you belong on a show about hoarding, chances are if you slow down and look at the room from a new, fresh perspective, you’ll see lots of items that can be removed.

When in doubt, ask a neighbor or friend what they see as clutter in your room. (Or try my Clutter Clearing and Organizing audio course.) There’s a great Polish proverb, “A guest sees more in an hour than a host in a year.” Sometimes we just get comfortable with all the stuff. Pare it down and let the room breathe.

 

2. Let there be light

Lots of lights

Light is one of the most overlooked elements of interior design, and yet it’s one of the easiest to acquire and manipulate.

Light makes a room feel larger, brighter and fresher, so take some time to assess the lighting situation in your room. If the room has a window, wash it inside and out to let in more sunshine. Open any shades or blinds during the day to maximize natural light. If there are window treatments, are they too heavy, dark, or outdated for the room? Just taking down drapes—even if you don’t have anything to replace them with just yet—can have a dramatic impact on a room.

Then look at the light fixtures and lamps in the room. Is there enough light to move around the room at night, or if there are no windows? If not, add more lamps to the mix. Check the maximum wattage stated on each fixture and lamp, and install higher wattage bulbs to bring in more light.

 

3. Rearrange the furniture

Room arranger w arrows

Arranging furniture in a room is a lot like a puzzle. And once we think we have it figured out, we keep it that way. For years. (I’ve certainly been guilty of this!)

But what if there was a different way? Switching up the furniture arrangement can shift the feeling of a room in an instant.

Before you start moving anything, play with the arrangement on paper. Create a scale drawing of your room on a piece of graph paper, measuring the walls and noting any doorways and windows. Then measure and draw shapes to represent the furniture pieces and place them on the room drawing, playing with different layouts until you find one that feels right. Pay attention to traffic patterns and how the room is used, and try to create “zones” for each use. I’ve created a design tool that makes it super easy to try this designer trick. You can get it FREE here.

And, it may be that the current arrangement is the best for the room, and that’s great! At least you’ve looked at other options.

 

4. Get your group on

Grouped items

Have you noticed most of these tips so far have been fast and free? #4 follows that lead with a “use what you have” approach to accessorizing your room.

Shop your house for accessories—objects, candleholders, vases, picture frames, figurines—that have a common, unifying theme or motif. Maybe they’re all red, or they’re all ducks or apples or sailboats. Chances are there’s a collection of something hiding in plain sight around your home. Bring everything together and display items together on an end table, dresser, sideboard, console.

Displaying similar items together gives them more presence and makes the room more personal. Visually link smaller items together by placing them on a tray. This is a heart display I put together for Valentine’s Day a few years ago.

 

5. Update with textiles

Pillows on sofa 2

One of the easiest and fastest ways to change the entire look and feel of a room is with fabrics.

Look around your room. What fabric elements could be changed, either by bringing in something new or swapping them with something from another room? Think about:

  • Drapes
  • Area rugs
  • Toss pillows
  • Slipcovers
  • Throws
  • Table coverings
  • Shower curtain
  • Towels

As a bonus, updating the textiles also means bringing in new (or more) color, texture, and/or pattern.

 

6. Add life … literally

green plant

Live, leafy green and/or blooming houseplants (not silk plants or cacti) are great additions to nearly any room. Their green color is automatically calming to the eye, and they produce oxygen. Plus, they are relatively inexpensive and can easily fill a large area—like an empty corner— if need be. Or, opt for one or two smaller plants placed around the room. If you don’t have much of a green thumb, ask your florist to suggest a hearty variety, or add a self-watering tube like an Aquaglobe®.

Fresh cut flowers are also a great decorating secret. Their color, life, texture and fragrance can be elegant or fun, indulgent or whimsical. And with most supermarkets now selling flowers, they’re convenient, too!

To get the most from supermarket bouquet, be sure to re-cut the stems when you get home and make sure the vase is scrupulously clean to prevent bacteria from killing the blooms prematurely. If it’s a mixed bouquet, consider making smaller arrangements and tuck them all over the house, in the bedroom, bath and kitchen for example.

 

7. Alter the art

Blank art

Art can set a mood, reinforce a theme, or be just plain wonderful to behold. Like light, art is often an afterthought in a room’s design plan, but it deserves much more attention.

Art is also fairly easy to swap from room to room and season to season. Think of your rooms like a gallery with an ever-changing collection. Look around your room. Does it currently have or need some art? Is there a focal point piece, for example over the bed or fireplace? If so, is there another piece in the house that could be traded out to give the room a fresh look?

Anyone who’s followed this blog knows that at holiday time, I love to change up the art all over the house. Here’s a quick and easy seasonal tip: Use the same frame and mat, but swap out the image. I’ve gotten a lot of mileage from some simple silver frames in the guest bath, with a rotating display of everything from calendar pages to greeting cards and trip photos to scrapbook paper.

Children’s art is also a great addition to any room, and can be updated as the child creates new masterpieces. Nearly anything can be art!

A few tips about displaying art:

  • Be sure to hang it at eye level. Not too high and not too low, although most folks hang their pictures much too high. Look at magazines and home catalogs to get a feel for placement.
  • If there’s any doubt about how high to hang something, make a template of the art piece with some newspaper or kraft paper and tape it to the wall, then stand back. How does it look and feel in comparison to what you’ve seen in magazines or on design shows?
  • As a general rule of thumb, the top of the frame should be no more than 6 ft. from the ground.
  • Or, hang up on hanging art and use a gallery ledge instead. By far the easiest way to swap and rotate your favorite works of art.

What’s your favorite 15 minute life or design hack? Share your comments and stories on the Facebook page!

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Tie Up Spring Decorating with Scarves

The other day I met a business associate for coffee, and on my way back to my car I popped into Charming Charlie just to see what’s new. They were having a “2 for $20” deal on most scarves. That got my creative juices flowing! I love to decorate with scarves.

I found one that is gray, black and raspberry in a trendy suzani print–perfect for the living room.

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I styled it with apothecary jars from Urban Home and Cost Plus World Market.

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I also turned the fun Stockholm bowl ($20 from Ikea) into a candle sconce by placing it on a plate holder and just setting a pillar in front. (It looks awesome at night!)

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I still needed a second scarf for my “deal” at Charming Charlie. I looked around and almost gave up, but then I found a botanical print in hues of lime and aqua and I thought it would be great to wear.

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But when I got home, I happened to set it down on the table in the foyer (when I was putting the other scarf on the console!) and thought – wait a minute! This looks great right here.

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It looks great with the Bosphorus bowl from Pottery Barn, layered with river rock and moss, plus some spring branches and a rabbit ready for Easter.

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So maybe I’ll wear the scarf someday. But for now it’s a great spring look.

Scarves make a great table runner or a topper for a decorator round table. More ways to use them in your decor:

  • Tie two square scarves together and use as a decorative pillow cover.
  • Use the scarf as a wall hanging, attaching it with 3M strips or, if it has fringe, tie the fringe to a few nails or hooks in the wall.
  • Cotton bandanas can be used as napkins for a casual meal.
  • Drape scarves over chairs, benches, or sofas — anywhere you need softness, pattern and color.
  • Tuck a couple of scarves into your suitcase to liven up your hotel room.

Why not raid your scarf collection with a new perspective and see what might look fabulous in your home? Have fun with it.

That’s a wrap!

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One Stop Holiday Shopping at The Tree Lot

One of my top tips for gift giving is to shop “where” you are. Of course, it helps if where you are has a variety of departments or merchandise!

And that is definitely the case with The Tree Lot at Crate and Barrel, a pop-up shop that opened Oct. 29 at Town Square. The 6,700 square foot space is located just behind Brio, adjacent to the central park.

The Tree Lot is filled with items from Crate and Barrel’s Holiday 2013 collection and features a wide selection of globally sourced, exclusive home decor, gift items, entertaining/tabletop wares, tree trimming essentials and confections. Oh, the confections!!

“This year, we were inspired by the tradition of Christmas tree lots and we wanted to bring the joy and sentiment of that experience with our holiday product and visual display,” said Marta Calle, President and Chief Merchant of Crate and Barrel.

Calle’s Columbian roots bring a fresh, new perspective to Crate and Barrel and that is evident in The Tree Lot, with many rustic textures and ethnic elements from stuffed wool critter tree ornaments to garlands made from sari fabric. One of my personal favorites from the tabletop collection is this ceramic serving tray with a woodgrain texture ($19.95).

 Tray

Tree Trimming

Many ornaments have a handmade quality. The store’s selection includes penguins, deer, dachshunds and foxes along with glittering bells, balls and snowflakes.

Ornaments 2

Ornametns

One hot new trend is a tree ring. These oversized rings ($59.95), available in galvanized metal or hand-braided native palm, slip over the tree stand and eliminate the need for a skirt. (Although the store still offers tree skirts as well.)

Rings

Gift Wrap

Customers who purchase rolls of Crate and Barrel wrapping paper ($7.95) may have their purchases wrapped by a store associate at no additional charge. This year’s washi tape craze hits holiday wrapping with a selection of “ribbon tape” ($4.95 to $9.95) from Japan in a variety of widths and designs from a cute mouse to “no peeking.” Wrap your boxes with tape instead of traditional ribbon!

Tape

Confections

I’ve been buying C&B Christmas confections for many years, so I was pleased to see that The Tree Lot has a good selection of this year’s sweet treats, from traditional hard candy to homemade marshmallows from the Butter Baked Goods bakery in Vancouver. (Try the gingerbread marshmallows!) Bourbon balls, peppermint bark, English toffee, organic hot chocolate mix and the popular mini melts are just a few of the tempting offerings.

Hard candy

Marshmallow

Home Accessories

Shoppers at the The Tree Lot will find plenty of holiday home accessories, including an array of bright pillows, cozy throws, vases and  candle holders. The Jingleberry bowl filler ($9.95) caught my eye, and would be perfect mixed in with my usual pinecone display.

Pinecones

Gift Ideas

Many of the items highlighted here would be a wonderful holiday gift (and I’ll put together my top 5 hostess gift ideas in another article), but The Tree Lot has a dedicated display of interesting, unique and downright quirky gift items for everyone on your holiday shopping list. Even things for your pets! But what interested me was a stack of Japanese notepads. I thought, why on earth would there be a stack of notepads? Well, I felt the paper and it’s sumptuous — like no paper I’ve ever felt, and it’s graph paper.

Paper

Now, who on my list is a paper aficionado? There has to be someone!

The Tree Lot will be open through Dec. 31. The pop-up concept is a first for Crate and Barrel, who is trying the holiday stores in three other locations that do not have a Crate and Barrel retail store. While there’s no concrete plans to bring a permanent store to Las Vegas, we can cross our fingers that The Tree Lot is a good market test!

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Spellbinding Books for Halloween Displays

Look in the Halloween aisle of any discount department store, home store, or craft store this year and you’ll see a “witch books” accessory item – a faux stack of books about spells and potions and the like. 

 

Witch's Spell Books

Usually crafted of resin, these decorative accessories will set you back at least $17 (the cheapest I found) and as much as $30 or more!

You can get the same look (actually, a more authentic look!) literally for pennies a book with your printer, some self-adhesive paper and some printable book labels (see below).

One of my friends saw these in my “Witch’s Kitchen” vignette (using my Macbeth Bottle Labels) and thought the “Curses, Charms & Hexes” book was real. For a brief second, I think she thought, “Is Deanne really a witch?” She seemed a bit concerned asking, “Um … is this real?”

The “spell” for creating these charmed accessories is just 1-2-3.

Step 1: Choose your books!

Create as many books as you’d like, keeping in mind the “odd number rule” for creating vignettes. (Groupings of items look best in odd numbers, like 3 or 5.)

The secret to this project is using well worn, hard cover vintage books; find them at your local library book sale, a thrift store, or a second-hand bookstore. I’ve collected several over the years as they make great additions to bookcase displays. If the binding happens to be black (like my “Charms” book, which was my dad’s civil government book copyright 1928!) you may use it as is; otherwise, cover the book very simply with black paper or cardstock. This will help create a cohesive look.

Step 2: Print the labels!

For the labels, I experimented with light colors, a parchment background, and clear labels. Ultimately, though, I thought the best look was achieved with the darker labels. You can take your pick and download either or both!

Halloween book labels light

Halloween book labels dark

I used Avery® removable full sheet labels (no. 6470) to create the labels with my color printer. A package of 10 full sheet labels will run about $16 at an office supply store. I used two sheets, so I’m about $3.20 in for this project. I like these labels because they are easily repositioned if you have an air bubble or need to adjust the placement, and they come off easily with (in my experience) no damage to the surface. (But that doesn’t mean you should go putting these on irreplaceable or sentimental antique books!)

Simply print the labels on the Avery® label sheets, cut the labels out and place them on your books. How easy is that??

Step 3: Style up!

Here are some styling and decorating tips for your terrifying tomes:

  • Group with witch’s brew ingredient jars and an open “spell book” featuring the spell recipe from “Macbeth.”
  • Display with black, silver and white pumpkins.
  • Place next to a cauldron or witch doll.
  • Create a spooky black and white display on a bookcase inspired by this Pinterest pin.
  • Top off your stack of books with a skull, a crow, or crystal ball.

Of course, feel free to come up with your own labels, too! I’d love to see how you make this project your own; please share your photos on the Facebook page!

The spell books add a touch of authenticity to the Witch's Kitchen vignette, don't you think?

The spell books add a touch of authenticity to the Witch’s Kitchen vignette, don’t you think?

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How to Conjure a Witch’s Kitchen

Witch's Kitchen overview

This year’s Halloween theme is drawn from the witches’ cave scene in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. When I read the scene, the list of ingredients stood out to me, and I had an “a ha” moment: why not create a witch’s kitchen, complete with the ingredients for the spell? So that’s what I did!

This project is really fun, and curiously easy. I’ve styled it with make believe ingredients, but this would make a great candy buffet for a Halloween party with edible “ingredients” in the jars.

Ingredient collage

Supplies

  • Empty jars
  • White paper or labels such as Avery® 6470 (see below)
  • Black card stock
  • Ingredient label artwork
  • Black and orange ribbon
  • Double-sided tape

1. Decide on the number of ingredients you’d like to display. I chose 8 ingredients that I thought I could replicate easily enough. You can download the Macbeth Bottle Labels as shown, or create your own.

2. Collect clean, empty jars. I used an apothecary jar that I already had and purchased a new one at World Market for $15. Then I filled in with jars whose previous tenants included pickles, olives, salsa and spaghetti. (It’s a great time to clean out the fridge!)

3. For a cohesive look, use spray paint to paint the jar lids whatever colors you’d like. I used black and silver.

4. Print the jar labels and carefully cut them out. I used Avery® 6470 Removable Full Sheet Labels (about $16 for  a pack of 10 at office supply stores). I only recently discovered these labels, and they are genius for this project. You could just as easily use white paper.

5. Cut black card stock for each label, cutting it just larger than the label. Adhere the labels to the card stock backing. For variety, I wrapped a couple of the jars with a wide band of the black card stock and adhered the label to the band.

6. Embellish the jars with black and orange ribbon; adhere with double-sided tape.  Attach the labels to the ribbon with double-sided tape or hot glue if necessary. For hanging labels as shown on the apothecary jars, punch a small hole at the top of the label and insert the ribbon.

7. Fill the jars with the real or faux ingredients of your choice. Here is where your creativity can roam wild! I had been thinking about Scale of dragon“scale of dragon” and coming up with possibilities like waxy green magnolia leaves or something. And then one day I was in the front yard and the wind had blown some bark from a tree. I looked at the texture and the cracks and thought, with a lick of paint these could be dragon scales! So I went into the garage, dusted off the bark and hit the pieces with some olive green spray paint and just a smidge of black spray paint. I love the look!

Here’s what I used to fill the jars:

  • Scale of Dragon – tree bark
  • Slips of yew – evergreen cuttings
  • Eye of newt – black beans
  • Filet of fenny snake – beef jerky
  • Root of hemlock – twigs
  • Wool of bat – steel wool
  • Teeth of wolf – fake teeth (about $4 at Halloween stores)
  • Toad venom – colored muddy water

8. Style these jars with a copy of the recipe, printed on parchment paper for full effect. (Download a copy of the Macbeth recipe here.) For this look, I made a book stand by placing a binder (wrapped in black fabric) on a silver candle stand, and then placed the recipe page in my grandmother’s well-worn cookbook for an authentic look. A piece of black seam binding creates a page marker.

***

Witch's Kitchen detail

Round out your witch’s kitchen display with candles, mercury glass bottles, a skull and a crystal ball. Look around your house for accessories than can translate into this theme and add to the look.

Oh! And don’t forget the witch’s other spell books. I’ll give you the instructions for that project tomorrow.

Happy Haunting!

 

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