Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mirrors.....What Can You Do With Them?

Making mirrors a piece of artwork........

When I moved into my house 11 years ago I had those contractor mirrors in every bathroom. I lived with them for years, but eventually just got sick of how plain they looked. Without spending a fortune, I was able to make these plain mirrors into something that looked nice and complimented my decor. I started with the master bedroom bath. I went over to the local Home Depot and walked around the trim aisle. It's amazing how many types of trim there is out there. Here is a site where you can actually look at several types of molding.

What I came across was door molding with square rosettes in the corner as pictured below.

This type of wood isn't cheap either, but for the master bathroom I decided to splurge. Cutting is easy! Straight cuts only. I used a cheap miter saw with a miter box. I measured my mirror (twice....I always make mistakes) and cut my wood.
I kept in mind the measurement of the square rosettes. I glued each piece to my mirror (the four rosettes first) and carefully attached duct tape to hold them up while drying. I used clear silicone adhesive which I purchased at Home Depot. I used this because it's strong and if I ever decide to remove my frame, I can use a razor blade to remove the silicone and not ruin the mirror. That's important because if you like to change things around you will still have an intact mirror. Here is what it looked like when finished.
Before I hung this wood a did a faux finish on all the pieces. Some people I've shown this to have asked this question: Why not put the frame together with nails and glue and then hang it? Well, it just doesn't work that way, the frame is just too large. I know this because I tried that way first. Install the pieces one by one. Measure carefully....that is the key.

I did a wildlife/animal print decor in my kids bathroom. Their mirror was boring too. I purchased four pieces of bamboo from Pier One Imports and glued them in the same way as the framing above. I placed bamboo on the top, sides and bottom several inches from the edge of the mirror and gave it a framed look. It now matches the decor of the bathroom.

This photo doesn't do it justice, but if you look below the light fixture, you will see the top bamboo piece.

I do my own stained glass work, so I made these and glued them (clear silicone adhesive) to the two lower corners of the mirror. The mirror I purchased at a thrift store for $5.00. Stained glass is something you can find at thrift stores, garage sales and retail stores. Use your creativity and think about what would look nice on the mirror. See below:

Close up of stained glass glued to mirror.

Lastly, I did the downstairs bathroom mirror. This one was a little more tricky. I used plain door molding and mitered the corners. You can see from the photo that I glued four decorative corners on(purchases at Home Depot)and also a small, thin decorative piece of molding around the perimeter of the mirror. I faux finished the wood before mounting it with a marble effect.

Basically, you can do plenty with a mirror to make it fit your room. Look for decorative wood corners (I know they sell them at Lowes,
Home Depot , Joanne's Craft store and Micheal's Craft store)

Silk flowers, stained glass (check ebay) and a host of other items that can decorate your mirror.

Here are some websites that may help.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What can I do with my purple room?

Kathy from New Jersey writes:

Hi Christy,

I have moved into a new home recently. My husband and I have been painting and decorating some of the rooms in our house, but have left the guest bedroom for last. This was a young girls room from the previous owners. As you can see, it is very purple!! The top half of the walls have a faux finish, then a white chair rail. The bottom half of the walls are a light purple or lavender. I don't mind the purple, I just don't want it to look like a young girls room any longer.Any suggestions,

Kathy from New Jersey

PS The peace sign is from the Jersey Shore dating back to 1974!!!


You're very lucky to have a husband that helps you! When I first look at these photographs saw too much purple. They have painted the walls, ceiling and even the heat baseboards purple. Purple is a very pretty color, but like everything else, too much of a good thing isn't so good. There are lots of things you can do to this room to break up the purple effect.

Go to the Behr paint web site: Click on the Start ColorSmart bar. Go the purples and match up your room color. Then see what selection Behr recommends that you match it with. It gives you several choices, but in the end you can paint a bedroom on their site and see how the colors coordinate. It's another great site for "virtual" painting.

If I had this room to tackle, I would first re-paint that ceiling, it's just too much purple. I would paint that ceiling with a flat white and add a hint of beige/fawn/tan. I would paint over the faux paint (above the chair rail) with a very light tan (Khaki like). I would add some throw rugs to give a warmer feeling and perhaps look around for some wood side tables. Add some larger lamps on the side table. I would definitely paint over the closet doors to get rid of the tuxedo look.

If you love the faux finish and want to keep it, then change the color of the solid paint under the chair rail. You could paint a tan color there as well. Add some nice prints, some greenery and for heavens sake, ditch the peace sign!

01 02 12

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Painting Fiasco.......saved!

A Painting Fiasco............saved by a spackling technique

A few years ago a very talented friend of mine called me in a complete panic. She had tried to remove wallpaper in her bathroom and by doing so, had ruined the wall. What she did not realize at the time is that whoever had put that wallpaper up, had never primed the wall first. What my friend had done was not only remove the wallpaper but pieces of the wall board underneath. It was a complete disaster and the wall appeared to be ruined.

This is not the first time I've heard a horror story like this. Many people have made this mistake before. So what to do? Well, short of hiring a professional to come in and re-spackle the entire room or replacing the wallboard you have to look for a way to fix it. What we did really worked well.

Get a bucket of spackle and a large spackle knife. Coat a 4X4 area of the wall with a thin coat of spackle. Now depending on what kind of texture you want, you will need to find a tool that will create that texture. Some examples are: a nail brush, comb or just a narrow spackle knife. What I did on my friend's wall was to use a spackle knife and move it back and forth making an X pattern. When it was finished it looked like a basket weave design. Work in 4 X 4 areas so the spackle does not dry before you can work your texture in. Let it dry for a day and then drag that wide spackle knife down from ceiling to floor to knock off any high areas or bumps. Then paint your room like just like you would any other room.

This technique is great for rooms that have damaged walls or even if you just want to have a texture. Just remember, if you do this to your walls you had better like them. Smoothing them out again will be messy and difficult (lots of sanding). For my friend's bathroom it was a life saver.

Here are pictures of the wall. Unfortunately they don't show that texture at all. The walls in the photo's look completely smooth, but they are not. They have a texture, as described above.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

How can I give my tree art a finished look?

A Readers Question..................

Anca writes: My husband played with what he calls "stump art" by debarking them, then using sandpaper and dremmel for a smooth effect, and lastly, engraving someone's name or initials on it. He does not have a lot of patience, so I jumped in, did some more dremmel and sand paper work, went over the letters one more time and sprayed with polyurethane at the end.What we were aiming at, was the "finished" look you obtained, but we did not come even close. Any tips? Why did it take us so long, and doesn't it take A LOT of spray?Loved your ideas and thanks for your comments.

Anca: Thanks for writing. I know exactly what you are talking about. I tried spraying the tree stump with polyurethane several times. Part of the stump stayed shiny and other parts seemed to be absorbed by the treek, leaving it dull. I never really had that finished look. I purchased a product called Mod Podge. It's used for decoupaging. I purchased it in a local craft store. I know Walmart also carries it. It comes in a glossy or matte finish. For the one pictured I chose glossy. I brushed in on (it goes on white like Elmers glue) but dries very quickly. It really gives it a finished look. You could also try the matte finish, which would probably give you a very natural look. I paid about $5.00 plus for an 8 oz bottle. Not bad when you consider the price of polyurethane these days and I only used one coat. I have inserted a link for you so you can check out this product. It has many uses.

Thanks again for writing. If you get a chance, send me a photo of the finished tree and I'll post it on this site. Good luck and I hope this helps.
Christy01 02 12

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Can I create something from my yard waste?

John from Tennessee writes:

Christy,I'm in the process of some fall cleaning in the yard. Anything useful among the various debris?

Well, John that is an interesting question. There have been a few things I've used from the yard. The first one is a large branch that fell from a tree in our yard. When I saw it, I thought it would make either a great curtain rod or a railing for our basement. It's free and looks really nice. I took the branch and let it dry for a few days. I sanding it really well and cleaned it up with some diluted bleach. I then stained it and varnished it several times. I purchased some really nice hardware from the internet (that wasn't cheap though) and hung the railing up. It looks really great.

I have seen this same thing done with curtain rods. When finished you just drape some fabric over the branch. This looks great in a room that has a southwestern motif. The trick is to find a nice branch that is "fairly" straight. Don't get too caught up on the fact that the branch is not poker straight, that's what gives it character.

Last year one of our smaller trees fell down. My nephew noticed how unusual the stump was, so he cut it out of the ground. I made a planter out of it. I let this dry out for days and then sanded it up with my Dremel. I then painted it with Glossy Modge Podge (you could use spray gloss). I stuck some foam into it and placed some silk flowers in it. This is how it looks.

So John, there are a few things you can make from yard debris. Curtain rods, railings and planters are just a few examples.

Thanks for the question!

01 02 12

Faux finishing an entertainment unit....

Alex from Georgia writes :

How did you faux finish the entertainment unit? Also, I notice that you have a lot of hand painting on your things. Do you do that yourself?~Alex

Dear Alex:

This unit you are referring to is pictured below:

This unit was originally stark white. I very lightly sanded it to begin with. This roughs up the finish and allows the new paint to grab it. I applied one coat of a bonding primer and let it dry for one day. I then applied a white latex enamel paint. Before that paint had a chance to dry I blended in a medium brown paint with a brush. The two colors blended together to give this effect. I did one section at a time so the white paint wouldn't dry before I could do the blending.

As far as the hand painting goes, I do all of it myself. If you aren't a good painter, stencils can really help. I have used them myself in the past and they work very well.

Thanks Alex for your question.01 02 12

Friday, October 26, 2007

What Color Should I Paint My Room?

What color should I paint my room?

When it comes to picking a color for your room the sky is the limit. There are so many to pick from. Ask yourself these questions; Does the room get lots of natural light or is it dark? Is this room unusually hot in the summer and cold in the winter? How much time do you spend in this room and what do you usually do in this room? Are you trying to create a certain atmosphere or mood? Is the room too small or too large?

Most people go out to the store and just pick the color they like. I'm certainly guilty of that! The following information will give you some ideas if you want to paint you room with a goal in mind. Please keep in mind that none of this is proven, but there is some science that backs up the theory. Frankly, it makes sense to me. Read on.........

Perhaps you have a small bathroom that needs paint. This room is dark with no windows. Yellow is a great color to use for a room like that. Yellow is cheerful, fun and makes objects seem closer making this room look larger after you paint it. Keep in mind that the color yellow is stimulating and can tire the eye, so don't use too much of it or your bathroom guests may come out irritated. Make your accessories another color. The opposite of yellow=violet.

Orange is another stimulating color. You'll notice that you see it in many fast food restaurants. Corporate America figured out a long time, orange and yellow make people want to eat. If you family is constantly dieting this won't be the best color for a kitchen. It does however lift your spirits, provides warmth and makes you feel comfortable. Don't over use orange. The opposite is blue.

Red is not for the kitchen unless you need to gain weight. It stimulates the nervous system and increases appetite desire. Bright red can be very irritating so use it carefully. Red is a great accent color and full of class. The opposite is green.

Green, one of my favorites, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the nervous system. Now you know why most hospital operating rooms are green. If your cranky mother-in-law is ailing and needs to move in with you to recover, paint her room green. Green is a healing color and you'll get rid of her quicker. Green is great for a small room because it will make it look larger. The opposite is red.

If you have a room in the house that always feels warm, paint it blue. Blue is the cool color. This color also depresses hunger (maybe a good color for the kitchen). Great for small rooms too because they will look larger in blue. Blue can make a room look formal too. Too much blue though is not a good thing. The room can look too cold.

Violet is good for making a small room look larger. Yellow is a great accent to violet because it is opposite.

Brown is earthy, creates a tranquil look and provides intimacy. If over used it can make a room look too bland so use another color or textures to accent. Beige and tan can give a room sophistication. Opposite is green.

Pink is warm and comforting. If your room is unusually cool, pink is a great warming color.

Black is elegant and sophisticated. Use it for elegant accents but don't over do.
White is stark but a great accent or background color. A white background can punch out your other colors and make them vivid and bold.

Now you know more about color families and what they will do for your room and you. So when you decide to paint that room answer the questions above and picking that color won't be so difficult.

Hint: If you don't plan on staying in your house very long, keep all your room colors neutral. Prospective buyers will appreciate your neutral home.

Here are some great interactive paints sites that provide you with the ability to see your room, with the color that you pick all completed. I have tried them myself and they do work. You just pick a color and insert it into a room that the website provides.

Here is a good site for calculating how much paint you will need. Just enter your measurements and the site figures out the rest.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

What tool should I buy my wife?

Nick from New York wants to buy a tool for his wife for Christmas. He wants me to recommend something. Well, Nick I can tell you that the best tool I have is the Dremel. This tool is a high speed rotary tool that is versatile, light weight and inexpensive. It can cut, drill, grind, polish, rout, sand, etch and clean.

You can use it on ceramic, stone, leather, wood, drywall, metal and laminates. It has plenty of other uses as well. It comes cordless for those times that you can't be attached to a plug and also corded when you need a little more power.
Comes with plenty of attachments.

The Dremel comes with plenty of accessories that allow you to be creative.

Great for removing rust and sanding hard to reach places.
Polishing is not a problem in hard to reach places.
One great use is putting the cordless Dremel on low to trim down and smooth out your dog's nails.

So Nick............get your wife a Dremel. Great for crafts, home improvement and assortment of other projects. Make sure you buy some jewelry as well! Thanks for the question.

For more information on the Dremel please link to 02 12

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What Can You Paint?

You can paint wicker furniture for a new look...........

paint a bathroom cabinet with a faux finish.......................................

or a ceiling fan disk................

And a porch....................................

or a teens room.....................................................................

An Entertainment Unit...............................................

Walls............with a faux finish

Clay Pots..................

Kitchen Cabinets.............

Paint your fan blades....from white to cherry tone

A Child's Room...................... faux finish

Paint your bathroom....... faux finish

Your master bedroom..........................
01 02 12

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

20 Bucks Changes The Whole Room you don't have a lot of money and you really want a new look for your room. Painting the room changes the look completely without spending lots of money.

What You Will Need:

Before you paint........
You may need primer
spackle and a putty knife
painter's tape (for those of you who don't have a steady hand)
drop cloth (.99 cents at Home Depot-plastic)
a ladder
cleaning supplies
for the princesses-rubber gloves

A roller frame
paint tray liners
paint tray
a really nice angled trim brush (I use and love the Perdys. They are pricey but if you clean them after use they will last for a long time).
regular brush
extention pole for ceilings and higher areas (use an old broomstick).

What kind of paint..........
Flat: no shine, washable and shows a minimum of imperfections.
Satin: durable, scrubbable with pearl-like sheen
Semi Gloss: very durable, stain resistant, scrubbable
High Gloss: maximum durability, stain resistant, scrubbable

How Much Paint?

How much paint you need depends on the size of the room, the condition of the wall surface, and the paint's spreading rate, which is given on the manufacturer's label.

Measure the total footage around the perimeter and multiply by the wall height in feet.
From this subtract 20 square feet for each door and 14 square feet for each window.
Divide by the spreading rate (usually 300 to 400 feet per gallon). That's the number of gallons you'll need.

There are tons of web sites available for this calculation and others. Don't forget this: the guys at the hardware store can help you too (if you can find one). If you do find someone they can usually answer any of your paint questions.

Next Post: What can you paint?

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Basic Tools:

Screwdrivers: phillips head and flathead and a few different sizes. You can get some pretty functional screwdrivers at the dollar store.

Hammer: A shoe works but the real thing is better

Drill: one very valuable tools. Get a decent one at Home Depot or Lowes. They have some nice ones on clearance.

An assortment of screws and nails.

Stud finder: Yeah, I know....all women need a "stud" finder. They really do help you find the stud in the wall so you can find the strongest place to install a nail or screw. They happen to be pretty cheap too.

2 pairs of plyers. A needle nose and a regular. They come in very handy. You can also get them at the dollar store.

Glue Gun: What a great invention. This comes in very, very handy.

Tape Measure: Can't live without this.

A decent saw and a wood mitre box: You will use these for sure.

These are the basic tools you will need. I started with most of these and added more along the line. I now have a nice collection of tools my "husband" has bought for me over the years. By the way, he doesn't use them.

There are specific tools for specific jobs. We'll talk more about that in the future. 01 02 12

Friday, October 19, 2007

How Do You Learn This Stuff?

Many years ago my husband and I bought a house in New Jersey. Parts of this house were over 65 years old. The house needed major improvements and rapidly started to fall apart right after we moved in. It didn't take me long to figure out that "hubby" had no interest in fixing things or working on home improvements, that became my job. So I read a lot, talked to others, watched the neigborhood guys work around their homes and purchased some tools. I asked lots of questions and learned as much as I could about everything pertaining to improving my house. I have always been artistic and continued to take classes in the local college hoping to learn as much as I could about different artistic techniques. After having three kids I realized there wasn't going to be a lot of extra money for decorating. I love to decorate, but I'm cheap. Over the years I've figured it out. I've actually saved thousands of dollars decorating my home, the "cheap" way. In my postings I hope to share all my ideas with you. Hopefully we will all learn how to decorate cheaply and tastefully together. I've pretty much done it all and everyone always seems very surprised when they see what I've done with something that most others would throw away. I'll provide pictures, information and plenty of details. All questions will be answered. I'm not an interior designer, nor do I have any ambitions of becoming one, but I can decorate on a budget and so can you. Next post: your tool box.01 02 12