Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Making Furniture Match............

Many years ago all furniture in the same room had to match. You couldn't get away with throwing a cherry cabinet into a room filled with oak. Nowadays things are different. You can blend an eclectic web of painted items, various woods, wicker and even rod iron all into the same space and you won't offend anyone. The trick is to do it tastefully so it makes "sense" to the eye.

A few years ago I purchased a dining room set with a china cabinet. I wanted something very different and unique, not elegant nor traditional. Not an easy thing to find. Fortunately I picked up a set with a Spanish influence and loved it.

Now I find myself with a big problem, I really need a sideboard. I desperately need storage for things that I use in that room. It's been 6 or 7 years since I bought this set, so how can I possibly find something to match. I tried.............shopped.................looked.....................but nothing, not even close. What I needed was something that "wasn't going to match" because if I tried to match it, it was going to look horrible.

I stopped into a retail store called Grand Harbor a few weeks ago and there it was. The perfect piece but the wrong color!!!
The more I look at it the more I can't believe they painted the front rust and the top red! Red does not match anything in my dining room but the rust does, so there was only one solution-paint it! There were also a few small dents on the top so I asked the manager for a discount. He gave me 20% off the entire cost. It really pays to ask. This entire piece is made of MDF wood (that's the crushed and compressed wood). I guess the days of buying "real" furniture may be coming to an end. The sales guy told me that they are starting to use more and more MDF to make furniture to save our precious resources. I am all for that and the piece looks really nice.
Here it is with a new top color-walnut brown which coordinates much better with the colors in my dining room. The style of this piece is certainly not Spanish, but more of a dutch/country influence. Surprisingly it still looks very nice in the room and I now have plenty of extra room to store china, table clothes and other items.

The bottom line: You can buy something and alter it if you need to. This piece worked but the colors did not. You must be brave going in and remember......you can do it. No one wants to spend money on furniture and be faced with painting it, but if you want to make it your own you may have to do it. In this case, I had no choice but I'm happy that I took the time to make this piece fit perfectly into my room.01 02 12

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Suggestions For This Floor Plan......

I recently received an email from Tiffany who needs some help with her den. What I would like to do is give Tiffany as many creative suggestions that "you" the reader are able to come up with. Please read her description, view the pictures and leave a comment in the comment area at the end of the post. so she can get some help from all of us. I would appreciate your feedback and I know she would as well. You may have a room like this or have been in one similar. So take a look......and don't be shy!

We all see things differently....................

Hi there!

Thanks so much for being willing to offer advice about how to make a house more like a home without taking out a second mortgage! My name is Tiffany and my husband and I purchased our first home in Memphis, TN in June 2007. Overall, we are loving our 1927 bungalow. We are scratching our heads about how to make our living room more functional. Basically, the floor plan in the room makes it very challenging to fit a tv in addition to enough furniture to hold more than 2 people. We are a household of two, so it really only becomes a problem when company comes over. We try to entertain regularly, though, so we know we need to change the way it currently is. I have attached some pictures to help you understand, and I do apologize if they are huge. The room is 14 1/2 feet by 13 1/2 feet. As you can see, it has 3 doorways (including one set of french doors), a fireplace, and 3 windows. This doesn't leave much room to put any furniture against the walls! The corner that houses our tv is the corner that has the cable jack, so it will be tricky to put the tv anywhere else in the room. HOWEVER, we are strongly considering getting rid of our cable just because it is so addictive, so we would be open to hearing suggestions for other places to put the tv.We suspect that we need to get some different sizes and shapes of furniture to better fit in the room. We can part with almost anything in the room. All of the furniture in the room is second hand (and we will shop for second hand furniture if we need to replace anything!).The only pieces that have sentimental value to us are the floor lamp and the trunk, but those don't have to stay in the living room. Do you have any suggestions for a furniture arrangement that will allow for more seating in the room? Thank you for your help. I really appreciate it!


Here are the photographs of Tiffany's room.

Here is what I wrote back:
Dear Tiffany:

Your new home is beautiful and there is so much you can do with it. Your living area is a lot like mine. Although my room is a little bigger it has two sets of french doors, three single doors and three windows. It's an impossible situation because there is no where to put furniture. I landed up buying a sectional that faces the television and fireplace.

Here are some ideas. I would place that television right under the ceiling. They make television stands so you can mount your tv up high. I purchased one at Walmart and it cost me about 35.00. The one that is pictured below is mounted from the ceiling. The one I bought mounted from the wall on a metal arm. They aren't the easiest thing to install....you need muscle! That's where hubby comes it. This will free up lots of space that is currently used for the television. These shelves also have areas to place DVD's and boxes. You can purchase brass channel (Home Depot or Lowes has it) that you can mount into the corner. This is where all the wires go, so you don't see them hanging down from the TV.

That takes care of the TV. You still can enjoy it, not have to move the cable and it gives you more room.
As much as I love the french doors, they are really taking up a lot of space. Could you remount the doors so they open into the other room? It's a thought.....imagine how much more room you would have. Do you really need the doors at all? Have you thought about taking them out completely and installing decorative wood corners (painted white to match your molding).
They also sell these in HD and Lowes. Not too expensive either.
This creates an "opening" without doors. I know that you probably like these door and want to keep them, but the room would become a lot bigger if they didn't swing into that room. There isn't much you can put against those walls that won't interfere with the swing of the two doors. Just a thought.

If you can get your TV mounted high you have the possibility of placing another piece of furniture under it. Maybe even a small chair with your floor lamp as a reading area. This area could also be used for shelves, books and decorative items. Of coarse you want that TV properly mounted otherwise it could fall onto the poor person under it. It has to be mounted into studs. Don't worry they come with directions.

If you move your couch directly in front of the fireplace (so when you sit on the couch you are looking at the fireplace) and eventually add two comfortable chairs in both corners of the windows, you will create a space where the fireplace is the focal point. You can entertain and also watch TV from either chair. Club chairs would probably work nicely because they tend to be smaller. Add a warm throw rug and drape some fabric from all three windows (something simple). Definitely keep the lamp and the trunk. The trunk could also be a coffee table (add a nice piece of wood to the top) or an ottoman (buy a piece of plywood, a thick piece of foam and cover with fabric and staple to the bottom piece of plywood.

I just looked back at the photos and realized that if you opened the doors into the other room it would interfere with another door. Well, you have the option of removing them, storing them and if you miss them you can easily put them back. I think the key is the TV. If you mount it high up, add the chairs, move that couch you will also be able to see that TV and entertain. The couch should be positioned into the middle of the room so you can walk behind it and doesn't disturb the flow of traffic.

One more tip: Measure those windows to see how many yards of fabric you would need to make some long swags that you could puddle onto the floor. Carry it in you wallet until you find some beautiful, discounted fabric and buy it up. If you don't sew or have a machine, don't worry. They make invisible hemming that you iron on. Install two brass hooks at the corner of each window and swag your fabric over it. It will look great and you'll add some more warmth to the room.

I hope this all helps you and if you have anymore questions please don't hesitate to ask. Would it be all right with you if I posted your email and pictures on my site. I think my viewers would love to see this? Please let me know. If not, that's fine too.

You are off to a great start.

Please leave comments below and thanks so much for participating and giving Tiffany your help.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Space Under Your Kitchen Cabinets....

I'm feeling a lot better now!! Thanks for all your well wishes, I really appreciate all your support. I won't go another year without a flu shot. This is the first year I didn't get it and needless to say..............I got it with the addition of strep throat. Never again!!

I've talked about the space above kitchen cabinets in past posts so now we'll take a look at the space below them. I am not very lucky in my kitchen and have very little counter space, so I really look for ways to maximize my counters. Last year I purchased a very nice stainless steel spice rack that sat on the counter next to the stove top. It looked beautiful there for a while until several things became apparent: It took up way too much space and it constantly had to be cleaned. The thing drove me nuts! I had to get rid of it. When I was just about to store all my spice bottles back into the cabinet something occurred to me: why not somehow use the space below the cabinets? It's there, doing nothing, so why not put it to use. I decided to build a long, narrow spice rack to tuck right under my cabinet where I could store my spices. Conveniently located, easy to clean and out of the way.

Here is how I did it. I started out by measuring how long a piece of wood I would need to fit all of my 20 bottles. It turned out to be about 36 inches long and only needed to be about 4 inches wide. I use Hobby Wood that I bought at Home Depot. They carry hobby wood in the lumber department. They happen to come in just the right size so I didn't even have to cut it. I found three scrap pieces of wood and cut them all the same length=6". I screwed them into the back of my shelf and then into the back of my cabinet.

See photo:

When I screwed it into the cabinet I made the hole just a little bigger so a wood button could be glued into the hole. It gives it a more finished look.

I added this rope trim that I also had at home. Cut to fit, glued with wood glue and two small nails for extra security. It was painted, hung and ready for some action.

I placed all the spice bottles back on the rack, but not before making all new labels for them using some fancy silver Avery labels

Here again are the final results and now you can see how much space this opens up for me. Plenty of room for canisters, tea kettle and the rooster. Ok, I really have to move the rooster! I can't tell you how convenient this is for me. Not pictured is the stove top which is to the left of the canisters. The spices are so convenient for cooking. I'm now looking for some other ways to utilize this empty space below the cabinets. I'll let you know what else I may come up with.

Next Post: A challenge for all my readers. Someone sent me a difficult floor plan. She needs some ideas on what to do with this space. I'm going to post the photos, email and some of my suggestions. I'm hoping that you will post some of your creative and helpful ideas for this room. Come back and check it out!!

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Can You Install Tile Over Existing Tile?

Well.....................yes, I did. When we moved into our house 13 years ago almost everything was white. The kitchen cabinets, walls, ceilings, counters, rugs, trim and the fireplace. It had large 12" X 12" white tiles around it. I stared at it for years before deciding it was time for a change. My decorating style lends itself to the warmer, earth tones. Eventually the den (where the fireplace is located) had warm oak floors installed, earthy tones in the furniture, pillows and draperies. The "white" fireplace had to go.

I tiled over the tile. I don't know if you are supposed to do it but I can tell you it is still going strong after four years. Selecting the tiles was easy, but making it fit exactly without having to cut anything was difficult. The tile was very rough and I didn't have the right tools to cut it. The solution was easy.

Don't cut................break it!

That's right..... I broke up a secondary color and wrapped a mosaic around the perimeter area so I would not have to cut it. All the tile fit just fine until I got to the perimeter. So placing broken tile around and creating a random mosaic, saved me.
Below is a close up of the mosaic. I basically took one tile at a time, covered it with a towel and gave it a swift blow with a hammer. I then set the small broken pieces into the adhesive. When it was all dry it was grouted.
The woodwork around the tile was painted using a combination of two beige tones blended together with a large bristle brush.
So you can install tile over tile or at least I did. It completely changed the look of the fireplace and made it the focal point of my den.
Next post: How to build a spice rack "under your kitchen cabinets." Practical, convenient and very handy....... I'll show you how. Please check back!
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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Expert Help On Painting Your Home....

Finally, a comprehensive site to help us paint! Painting is easy.....right? I guess you could say that painting a room really doesn't require talent. It's really not that hard.....how difficult could it be to paint a wall? I agree with most of this but how hard is it to find the perfect color?

It's hard, believe me. How many times have you picked a color, had it mixed at the store, painted it onto the wall...............and hated it! How come that color looked so great in the store and now it looks horrible on your wall?

Behr paints has put together a wonderful site that covers everything you will need to know about painting your space. I found this site just the other day and spent some time collecting information on exactly what this site offers you. Here is what you will find:

  • Talks about the color wheel

  • Assists you in finding complementary colors to the color you pick

  • Gives you facts about colors

  • Preview your color by ordering a sample (yes, you have to pay for this)

  • Inspirational, artistic, emotional, fashionable, historical aspects of paint

  • Different sheens, when and where to use them (semi-gloss, flat, eggshell....etc)

  • They offer a calculator. No more guessing. Plug in your measurements and they will tell you how much paint to buy.

  • Facts and info about interior and exterior paint.

  • Step by step directions on all the faux finishes

  • What paints to use for all your different projects (paint for cement, wood.....etc)

  • You can pick your paint color and paint it onto a "virtual" furnished room to see exactly what your paint job will look like when completed. I love this feature the best.

You must register to use the site.

If you go back into the October archives I have an article on how painting with certain colors can change the mood of the room.....color therapy.

Here is the site: http://www.behr.com/behrx/inspiration/artistic_1.jsp

Place it into your favorites so you can always go back when you have a project to do.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Scratch and Dent

Many retails store have a section that contains broken items. Some pieces are chipped, broken, missing a component (the mirror or actual picture) or scratched. Most of these items can be repaired with little effort. Some need much more help but if you're willing you can get a great buy. This rooster had a chipped beak but was marked 50% off. Originally marked at $20.00 marked down to $10.00. I really thought he would be a nice addition to my kitchen counter. He's functional too with a chalkboard for leaving notes. The chalk sits in his pocket.

The photo to the left shows the small chip close up.

All I needed to do was match the right color and paint the chip. You couldn't even tell after it was painted.
In the photo to the right, here he is all finished and like new.
So remember to take a look around in the Scratch & Dent department to see what bargains are available and how much work it will take to repair it.
When you are shopping around and find something that is damaged, talk to the store manager and ask for a discount. I find that most of the time this works. Remember.......... they want to sell the item and if it's damaged most people won't want it. It can be very rewarding and frugal as well.
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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Decorating For Mardi Gras

One place I have always wanted to visit is New Orleans, so when the opportunity arose I jumped at the opportunity to go. The experience lasted four days, included picture perfect weather and memories I'll never forget. Many people have mixed emotions about New Orleans: some hate it and some love it. The key is to go and take in the many sites with an open mind, in which case you are likely to really enjoy it.

I loved it!! The people were wonderful, funny and engaging. The culture, scenery, architecture, food and music were the highlights. There was so much to do and experience.

It was a very inspirational trip which gave me so many creative ideas to bring home. I have never decorated for Mardi Gras and quite frankly haven't paid much attention to it, but my visit certainly changed that. I decided that we will include a small Mardi Gras tree in our home. Why not?......the Christmas decorations are all put away and the house looks kind of dark and quiet. I miss the lights, so what better way to bring them back.

When I got home I went to Hobby Lobby after Christmas and purchased a 5 foot tree. Get this: it's regular price was $59.00 with 80% off, so I paid $12.00 for my little Mardi Gras tree. I was shopping with my mother and she looked at me like I had lost my mind. Just more "stuff"........Yeah, she is probably right.

Perhaps I have lost my mind but this is just another way for me to decorate and for the family to get involved. Most of the ornaments are store bought but several are hand made. I got the kids (teenagers) involved with it and to my surprise they really had fun helping make some ornaments.

It's a fun way to celebrate the holiday.

The ornaments pictured here were purchased in New Orleans in a Christmas store.

The ornaments we made were fun to create and even the kids helped. I just experimented using different things and came up with this. I think that these could be expanded upon in many ways.


  • smooth styrofoam balls

  • Modge Podge

  • Decorative tissue

  • glue gun

  • flexible wire, gold is nice

  • acrylic paints (optional)

  • medium sized wood balls

  • medium sized wood rings ( available in wood aisle of craft store)

  • brush

  • brush on sparkle

    Most of these items are optional. You could use beads, feathers, sequins, etc.

Where did I purchase my supplies? All available at Joann's Craft store.

Pictured to the left is the styrofoam ball, a small wood ring and a wood ball. Notice the wood ball has a hole in it. That's where you can place a wire so this ornament can hang.

To the right you see that I used a glue gun to fasten both pieces to the ball.

Here is another glued addition. Another use for small wood appliques. Use your imagination and glue whatever you want to on your ornament.

Here is application of Modge Podge with the first small square of decorative tissue.

Here are three finished ornaments. I added gold bows and brushed on sparkle paint. I made a few more of these using the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. You can do so much with these. I wanted to hang some crystals at the bases but wasn't able to find exactly what I wanted. I'm still looking......

Just one reminder: the styrofoam balls must be the smooth ones. I used flexible wire that I wrapped around a pencil for shape and hot glued it into the top. Now the ornaments can be hung.

With the addition of some randomly placed acrylic paint the ornaments look like they were made for Mardi Gras.

If you are interested in Mardi Gras history and the traditions, here is a link:


Next post: Another "Scratch & Dent" item. How much is cost and what it took to repair it.

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Friday, January 11, 2008


These pine rounds are available at Home Depot and Lowe's for under $10.00. They are sturdy, thick and need just a little sanding on the sides to make them smooth. There is so much you can do with these pine rounds including:
  • hand-paint designs on them

  • mosaics-tile or glass

  • decoupage

  • stenciling

  • faux finish-an example would be marbling

I love creating tabletops out of these pine rounds. I recently decided to make a "coffee" table- a table created just for having coffee. Here is what I came up with using the following techniques:

Hand painting

Wallies prepasted cutouts


small glass tiles

The Wallie cutouts I purchased at http://www.wallies.com/

They have a great selection of cutouts that you can use. If you don't feel like you can hand paint, Wallies are a great substitute. In this case I used the coffee cups and the Cafe sign in the middle. Here are step by step directions:

1. I lightly sanded my pine round.

2. Using three colors of acrylic paint (gold, tan and darker brown) I used a paint brush to create a sponge like paint finish. Basically I just blended the three colors together.

3. I hand-painted the colored boxes around the perimeter of the circle. Although you can't really see it in the photograph, the squares are not perfect (believe me). I just used a square brush and painted boxes...one stroke and then the next. I don't like perfect! It's hand made and the imperfections make it look that way.

4. I applied glossy Modge Podge onto four areas of the table (where I would place the coffee cups) and then carefully applied the coffee cups. I then put Modge Podge on top of the cups and applied a layer onto the entire table. That gives it a glossy finish.

5. I drew out a circle in the center of the pine round. Here I placed squares of red-checkered tissue paper and applied Modge Podge. The design is so random that it's hard to imagine the tissue paper was red checks orginally, but I like that look.

6. I glued small glass tiles around the perimeter of the inner circle. I found a little bag of these at Michael's Craft store. I used Mosaic glue for this step.

Here is the little coffee table all finished. I purchased four ready made legs at Home Depot and just painted them with acrylic paints to match. The entire table was given a coat of polyurethane when finished, just to protect it.

Check out www.wallies.com for some interesting cutouts that you can use on furniture, walls, ceilings and tables. I especially love the tree frogs!

My table will go out onto the screened-in porch right next to the chair where I have my morning coffee. I have just purchased two more pine rounds and plan to make some "classy" glass mosaic tables. Stay tuned...........

Future post: Decorating for Mardi Gras. I spent four wonderful days visiting New Orleans. I had never been there before so it was a real exciting trip for me. I loved the people, the place and the atmosphere. Now I just have to celebrate and enjoy Mardi Gras in my own home and I'll show you how I do that.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Decorating With Wood Cutouts.....

Most craft stores have an aisle that contain wood cutouts in every conceivable design. They are fun to use, decorate, paint and add to furniture, doors or walls. In this bathroom a cabinet was needed for storage. The cabinet was purchased in Target, on sale around $24.00 but was plain white. Since the decor of the this bathroom is animal prints and the room is basically for a teenager some needed changes were made.

The white cabinet was painted using a sponge technique involving two colors together. The little fish that swim across the drawers were hand painted and glued on. The fish were placed so at least one of them would hang over the drawer when it is open, just to make it flow even better.

I replaced the ceramic knobs with wood ones and painted them as well. This all adds a whimsical look to the cabinet.
I often find things in the store that just don't work in my home in terms of color. Many times I purchase the item, take it home and change it so it does match. Here is just another way to use your imagination and change the look of something.
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Monday, January 7, 2008

Decorating With Wood Appliques

Decorating with wood medallions also known as wood appliques or gingerbread, can be so interesting and creative. You can add these embellishments to:

  • Cabinets

  • desks

  • furniture

  • wood boxes

  • fireplaces

  • picture frames

They can be stained, painted or decoupaged onto any of the items I listed above and more if you just let your creative juices flow...

I have purchase them at Lowe's Home Improvement, Home Depot, Michael's Craft Store and JoAnn's. They really vary in price and sometimes can be quite expensive. I purchased the one to the left for about $2.95 at Joannes. I plan on hand painting it in soft colors and adding to a headboard.

Just looking at this photograph I'm thinking you could drill a hole in the middle and insert a knob. Wouldn't they be a great addition placed behind knobs of a plain desk or dresser? They could be hand painted, painted a solid color or stained to match the wood of the furniture.

I found an Internet site that carries a pretty good selection at very reasonable prices. If you don't spend over $50.00 they will charge over $10.00 for shipping, still not a bad price considering how high they are sometimes in retail stores.


If you only need a few I suggest you check out the retailers I mentions above.

This is what I have done with some of them:

These flower medallions are placed on the upper columns of my fireplace. The medallion is glued onto the fireplace with wood glue. A sponge technique is used on the fireplace and the wood medallion. I sometimes apply caulk around the piece so it really looks like it's meant to be there.

To the right is another flower medallion placed on the upper column of an entertainment unit. Applied the same way as the fireplace.

Here is one larger wood applique placed under a kitchen cabinet, directly above the microwave.

Above is a close up of the larger applique. I added this to a very plain board to give it some character and interest. This applique was caulked all around to create a smooth transition onto the cabinet.

To the left is a smaller applique mounted onto a coordinating kitchen cabinet above a sink. Same thing, just a little smaller.

To the left is the top of a small box with a tiny wood applique on it. This box was decoupaged using Modge Podge.

These little wood appliques come in a variety of designs, shapes, sizes and they also have decorative corners. They can turn a plain piece of furniture into something elegant and unique. They can also hide flaws, cover holes and serve as a back plate to a plain knob. Use your imagination and come up with great ideas to incorporate these wood appliques into your decor.

Stores I mentioned in case you need any information:





In my next posting I'll show you something I did in a kid's bathroom using small wooden fish and a cabinet I bought at Target.

Also some more teen room decorating to show you.......


I have just finished a "coffee" table. You'll see what I mean-this is only a table for coffee! Stay tuned........

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