Friday, August 30, 2013

DIY: My Easy Burlap Wreath

Hope you don't mind some crafting popping up on here. I could literally sit for days doing just that- crafting, drawing, sewing, painting. Get me a coloring book and some crayons and I'm happy for hours. So needless to say, when I saw all of these burlap wreaths popping up on Pinterest, I knew this would be my next project. I'm a full supporter of getting on the Trend Train if you're digging something... there's nothing wrong with joining in on the fun. Honestly, the only problem I had with this project was that it was actually too easy and too quick. My planned Sunday afternoon of crafting therapy was cut short with a complete wreath and no other projects lined up. That is what I would call a first world problem, folks.
So after checking out some pins, I created my modified version of creating a quick and simple burlap wreath. I've noticed that there are all different styles of these, so I just did what was pleasing to my crafting-loving eyes. Here goes it:
1. Spend hours upon hours in Hobby Lobby browsing the aisles... and also picking up the following supplies:
  • Wire Wreath Frame... I just eyed what size looked right to me, but I think I could have actually gone a little smaller.
  • 2 packs of tan pipe cleaners. You can also use the wreath wire, but since burlap is so light, I didn't think it was necessary. The pipe cleaners are also cheaper and easier to twist with your fingers. (Disclaimer: If you're putting your wreath on a glass door, I would opt for the wire. The tan pipe cleaners aren't the most beautiful things to look at... but let's be honest- either is the back of a wreath)
  • Wired edge burlap ribbon. I got TWO 30' spools and used nearly all of it. FYI- This is where you see the difference in the wreaths. Some are made of the wired edge and some are made of the raw edge burlap ribbon. It really is your preference. I chose wire edge just because I thought it would be easier to shape, but you can also get a great wreath of a more compact folded look by opting for the non-wire. It's up to you. I think this process would work for both.
  • Decorative ribbon, letters, or whatever else you want to use to make it more personal or themed.

 Your supplies... I actually bought 2 rolls of 30' ribbon.
2. Cut your pipe cleaners in half.

3. Break open the ribbon and grab one of your newly cut pipe cleaners. In order to start your wreath, it's important to get a secure connection. Take the pipe cleaner and stick it through the end of the ribbon.

4. Take the ribbon with attached pipe cleaner and wrap it around 2 or 3 rings of the frame. What I found most helpful was never wrapping the pipe cleaner around the entire frame or just one of the rings. It always felt more secure and full by securing it to at least 2 rings at a time.

I just realized this picture is the opposite of what I'm saying above... Oops! After I took this picture I ended up wrapping the pipe cleaners around more rings to make a secure connection.

5. Start looping and folding. After each loop, take another pipe cleaner and connect to the frame. Once connected you'll want to twist the pipe cleaner at the back of the frame so it's tight. I would do about 2- 3 loops per section and then move forward. This is really where you just eye whatever shape and loops appeal to you.

And we're looping....
And we're twisting....

And we're back to looping...
6. After every few sections, I would turn it around and tighten a few of my pipe cleaner sections together. This made the wreath feel much more secure.

Not the most beautiful sight... but it works.


Almost there... this was about 15 minutes in. 

One thing I noticed was that my loops started to get larger as I went. Oh well... It happens. Instead of starting over I just completed the whole frame and then went around again with ribbon and filled out any section that I felt needed a little more oomph. It worked pretty well actually. Don't stress if it's not perfect.

7. Once I was satisfied, I repeated the step I made at the beginning- inserted a pipe cleaner at the end of the ribbon and secured it to the wire frame.

8. I then tucked in the pipe cleaners so they wouldn't be sticking out.

8. Shape and fluff! Again, this is why I originally went with the wired edge, but I'm sure you can also shape and fluff a bit with the no-wire edge.
9. Accessorize. With the start of football season this weekend, I thought I would add a little something extra to showcase our proud alumni status (or is it alumnus?). I also plan to use the wreath throughout the year, so I made sure everything was removable. I picked up some red and white chevron ribbon and some wooden letters (U and L of course). To secure the chevron ribbon, I just slid the wire through the knot of the bow and attached. This way, I can easily remove once I'm ready for something new.

But in an effort of keeping it real, I'll let you know that I completely botched the letters. Sometimes my impatience gets the best of me. Oops! I tried to freehand with a white paint pen but immediately regretted my decision. After attempting to paint over, I realized these letters were a No Go (for now).

Lesson in patience, folks.
I hung the wreath and was happy with it for a few days....

But I eventually felt like either the bow wasn't big enough or it could use a little extra something. After some digging through some of my wedding supplies (Hey, it's only been a year), I found a big wooden "W" and figured I would try a little spray paint action.

Break out the spray paint!

I think the "W" really gave it that something I was looking for. I still have the Louisville Cardinals on the brain, so I may eventually fix the college letters and apply those, but for right now I'm digging this look!

I'm already looking forward to changing it up for fall and Christmas! It's the little things!
I wonder how soon is too soon for pumpkins and leaves?

Good luck!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Down to the studs: The Kitchen Part 1

After originally planning to create one big post about our kitchen renovation, I looked through dozens of our progress photos and was brutally reminded of how big of an undertaking this project was. (Nathan was also very quick to remind me). In order to not overwhelm you with kitchen overload, I decided to make two separate posts. Not as fun as seeing a quick before and after, but it definitely makes me much more appreciative after breaking down all of the steps that were taken. Apologize in advance for some of the bad iPhone photos. I promise to have some good 'Afters' of the kitchen.
Let's get to the good stuff shall we? Behold Pre-Renovation College House Madness:
       Ahhhh.... I can smell the Red Bull and Vodka now. 
Note: Chalkboard had to be blurred due to inappropriate boy humor.
1960's cabinets, floral window treatments, and rotary phone were just a few of the gems. 

As we were going through these pictures, Nathan said point blank, "You must have really loved me to date me in these conditions." Why yes, Nathan, I do love you enough to overlook the monstrosity that was this kitchen. (If you didn't know already, Nathan bought his old college house and we are currently turning it into our first home.... room by room) Thankfully, this kitchen didn't last long because just a few short months later (as I first mentioned here), our friends demolished everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink during our Tear Down the Walls Party. While that certainly was a night to remember, reality then hit us and the real work had to begin. Party is over folks! Put down the sledgehammer and finish your beer! At the time, I'd make a sure bet that we were definitely 'that house' on the street. Can you imagine a bunch of mid 20-somethings walking in and out of our house covered in plaster dust and swinging hammers all while gripping a case of Bud Light? Our poor neighbors! I should really bake them some bread.
The party aftermath. This is what we call 'Progress'

The start of the kitchen renovation occurred two years before I moved in. Just barely into our 'grown-up jobs', budget and time were our main concerns before starting the transformation. What would be the most affordable materials?, What should we splurge on for resale value?, What do we NEED to do right away for a functional kitchen? It’s crazy to admit, but I don’t even think I had a real ‘design’ plan in mind other than the space planning. In fact, I remember looking through countless magazines (This was well before Pinterest, folks) and it was difficult to make up my mind knowing that everything was being done as we could afford it and based on deals we could find. It was definitely challenging to predict the future decisions we were going to make in the house. Luckily, our choices and hard work ended up working out and we are really happy with the end result.

The first thing we did was tear down the baby blue wood paneling... which led to ripping out dropped ceiling tiles, plaster walls and plaster ceiling. Talk about dusty! We then pulled up at least 3 different types of linoleum flooring that led us to the rough hardwood. It was actually pretty cool to peel up different eras with every floor. Our house was built in the 1920s and to think about all of the different feet that have walked on that flooring was pretty wild to think about. To add some extra square footage, we tore out the pantry and pushed out the wall toward the addition of the house. Our addition is a large room with windows and a loft ceiling, but it's currently used as our workshop since we don't have a garage. (I'm crossing my fingers for future craft room.)

Check out those studs!
From there we framed out a new pantry (which is actually over the exterior stair entry to the basement) and started putting up some new drywall. Now I have a disclaimer: when I say “we”, I mostly mean Nathan and his roommate/best man/confidant/carpenter/overall great friend, Josh. If anyone knows him, you won’t be surprised to know that he put in a TON of hard work and his own free time into the house because, honestly, that's just the kind of guy he is- always helping out his friends. We are forever indebted to him and immensely thankful!
  Drywall, electrical, paint, tile complete!

In order to save some pennies, we found some Lowe's tile on clearance and we opted to forgo purchasing cabinets and instead build our own... yes build our own cabinets! I'll admit it- I think the only activity I partook in the actual construction of the cabinets was drilling in 3 screws for 'fun' (pathetic, I know) but the guys worked tirelessly (most of this occured in the living room) to put them together. Slowly but surely, the cabinets were built and installed. It ended up being a longer process than standard kitchen renovations, but that cabinet construction was HARD work. The thought of nailing, sanding, and staining after coming home from a full-time job wasn't exactly appealing, but thankfully we got it done.

 The living room construction zone.
Putting the cabinets in place.
Once the cabinets were in, we were able to get a great deal on some granite from Josh's brother-in-law. After a few mornings of eyeing some beautiful granite slabs, we played it smart and safe by going for an affordable and neutral option. We were also able to use a local countertop installer recommended by our friend, Jeff, which helped us tremendously. I still remember stopping by after work that day and hardly being able to walk inside because I was so nervous! Thankfully, we were very happy with the installation. Who doesn't love new granite and a shiny new sink?

OK... so I think that is plenty of kitchen overload for one post. Shewww! These pictures bring back a lot of memories and I'm starting to get tired just thinking about it all (Where's the red bull vodka? Kidding... kind of ) I'll be back soon with round two of the kitchen makeover. In the meantime, here's a little sneak peak of the kitchen as it is today. Hope you come back to check it out!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It's About Time....

Hi there! 

I've been meaning to start this blog for a LONG time now so our family and friends can keep up with our never ending house adventures. From some drastic home improvements to simple Do-It-Yourself projects to the more than occasional design disaster, I figured it's better late than never right? After telling my sister-in-law last December that I would be starting this blog "right after Christmas" (Ummm.... Hello August!), I got the final push from her a few weeks ago, and figured why not? Since most of our family and friends are all over the place (Shout out to Florida, Texas, Germany, Italy, and Thailand!) I thought this could be an easy way to answer the all too common question of "How's your house coming along?" while also helping me keep my creative juices flowing and get feedback on new ideas for our home.

While our house isn't close to where I want it to be, it has come a LONG way. As most of you know, our home was actually Nathan's old college digs. Yes- he used to rent this house with his buddies. It was without a doubt THE party place for a few years during and after college. I need to dig a little deeper for some good "Before" pictures, but it's hard to believe how far it has come. To be honest, any pictures I find are probably going to be filled with beer bottles and Chinese takeout boxes. So imagine my horror (yes- horror) when Nathan proposed the thought of buying this perpetual man cave.... I was pretty upset because I knew I would be living here once we were married (There may or may not have been a few tears shed). However, the shock eventually wore off and he purchased it for a great and apparently irresistible deal. With the help of some friends and one memorable and appropriate "Tear Down the Walls" party, we started the transformation...

Excuse the grainy pictures, but that was dust in the air! Our friends helping at the
"Tear Down the Walls Party" 2010. (Surprisingly, no one was injured in the progress of this party.)

Fast forward 3 years, we have been married for a little over 12 months and are still continuing to tackle room after room... and we still have plenty to go! Looking back on it, it was clearly the BEST decision we could have made. Buying a reduced priced home has helped us to be able to afford those updates that we were really wanting and it has been a lot of fun and rewarding along the way. That being said, everything we have done has been on a budget and that mindset is at the forefront of every project we take on.  

We truly LOVE this house. The more we pour our sweat into it and make it our own, the more we appreciate every nook and cranny. I gave Nathan a note on closing day of the "new" house and told him I could not wait to help him make this house a home.... and thankfully with a lot of love, time, and effort- that is exactly what it has become.

Hope you stick around!

A framed memento of closing day on the old college digs... April 29, 2010.