Blue and White Chinoiserie Lamp DIY

I really think you all might lose your minds over my latest discovery.  Or at least, I did.  But wait, wait, let me backtrack...

As I've mentioned before, I (along with everyone else in the design world, it seems!) am in LOVE with the blue and white thing happening.  I've been slowly collecting vases and plates and platters of all kinds, mostly from antique shops, Goodwill (if I'm lucky), and some online auction sites like Everything But the House.  My hunting has taught me that the name for many of these pieces is Chinoiserie.

It also seems to me that as soon as you attach the word Chinoiserie (pronounced chi-noi-ser-ie) to anything, it automatically quadruples in price!  Which is why my collecting has been very slow and strategic.  I can't be giving my husband ulcers over this stuff.  :)

For awhile now I've been searching for a small Chinoiserie lamp to fit a quirky spot in our house.  Until I find the perfect one, I've been using a rather ugly little lamp that just irritates me every time I look at it.  Does that ever happen to you?  It's the perfect size and scale for the space but the more I stare at it, the uglier it gets! Here it is (sorry so blurry but you get the idea):

Then, suddenly...inspiration!  While I'm waiting for the perfect antique yet inexpensive Chinoiserie blue and white lamp to fall into my lap (that happens, right?), why not use a few old and faithful friends to spruce up my existing lamp?

Mod Podge.

Scrapbook paper.


Are you with me?

So first I needed some scrapbook paper or gift wrap in a classic blue and white pattern.  Easy, right? I trekked all over town and all over the internet.  Nothing.  Seriously, I just needed a few sheets of this stuff and I figured the design trend was so hot right now, it'd be a cinch!  Nope.

Finally, I stumbled upon this adorable Chinoiserie pumpkin done by Susan from Between Naps on the Porch.

She made this cutie herself after seeing something similar in Country Living and wrote a fabulous tutorial here.  And you know where she got her scrapbook paper?  A photocopier.  Seriously!

So here's the part that is just blowing my mind with the possibilities: a good color copier can print any pattern you want (assuming you're not pirating it of course).  Just take yourself to Kinkos or FedEx or wherever, bring an inspiration piece to be copied, like a flat piece of fabric, pages from a book, or (in my case), email them a PDF of a design you like.  Then here's the key: have them make a color photocopy using a digital laser printer (not ink jet, which I think is what most of us have in our basements!).  A laser printer will make sure that the pretty colors on your paper won't run when you start working with the Mod Podge.  Also, I found that a slightly heavier weight paper was more like the weight of scrapbook paper and was great to work with (my FedEx Office guy called it 32 lb. weight).

I was able to find some beautiful digital scrapbook paper from a shop on Etsy (link here if you'd like it for yourself!), and for less than $5 I got an instant download of six .jpg files.  Six gorgeous Chinoiserie prints to choose from!  I converted them to PDFs (although I think it would have been just as easy to print as .jpgs), emailed them to my local shop, hustled myself over to pick them up and within 20 minutes I had these in my hot little hands:

So now back to my lamp.

First I gave it a quick coat of paint so nothing would bleed through.  White paint over the parts to be covered with the paper.  Gold paint for the parts where I was going to put Rub-n-Buff.

Next I applied the Rub-n-Buff (in Grecian Gold) and cut my scrapbook paper to fit.  I glued it on with a few layers of Mod Podge (under the paper and two layers on top).  Then...patience while the whole thing dried.

Hello lovely!

Let me zoom in just a bit.

Even I, the Queen of Mod Podge, am surprised at how well this turned out!  I hoped for something that would just look better than it did before (not hard to do).  But I really think I'd be drawn to this lamp if I saw it in a shop today, not just because I rescued it from ugly!

Even getting up very close, the colors are crisp and clean.  No bleeding at all.  I'm telling you.  Laser printer.  A revelation.

Who am I kidding?  This discovery doesn't mark the end of my Chinoiserie hunt.  The thrill of the chase, right? Ha!  But it's a fun and inexpensive way to copy a look that I know many of us love.

Have a great weekend!


Fall Prettiness

I've been having fun with fall decorations lately and thought I'd invite you in for a tour!  

Please be advised that my house was not clean during this photo shoot.  I just moved the toys out of the way where you can't see them.  :)

Starting with the front porch...

And my fall garland, which I wrote a tutorial about last year.

Come on in!

Our dining room table, filled with pretty (and fake!) fall stuff.

Can someone tell me how to do those fancy chalk letters I'm seeing everywhere?

A little pumpkin towel (which I had to spot-clean before it was ready for it's photo shoot!).

This is just to show you that we finished the backsplash in the kitchen!  (and no more fire hazards)

I love the look of pewter with fall berries.

Can you see my blue plates hanging in the background?  I was scared they'd be too cramped in that space, but so far I love them!

 The mantle, with more blue and white, because I can't bear to put it away, even for just a season!

Fresh flowers and my sweet kids' Halloween books.  Pulling out the seasonal books is their favorite part of decorating the house for holidays!

More pewter.  This one I found at Goodwill!  I think it was so tarnished that no one knew what it was.   I took a chance, and once I shined it up, it looked great!

Three little pumpkins.  I found this charming print at one of my new favorite online art shops, here. (On eBay!)

Another one of my kids' favorites.  Our Halloween advent calendar, which morphed from this one that I made years ago.

And because this is a fall post, I have to share a few adorable photos from our recent small town Homecoming parade.  Nina dancing to the marching band...

...and Henry looking cute after walking in the parade with his flag football team.  (I promise little Vivian was being cute too, just moving too fast I couldn't get a good photo of her quick little two-year-old buns.)

Happy Fall y'all!


Finally, A Kitchen Update!

Thank you all for your patience as I gear myself up to give you a kitchen update!  (Or are you all just so scared it's going to be another picture of the plumbing in my walls?  Ha!  Believe me when I say I hope we never have to speak of them again.)

So, because it helps me when I feel like our remodel is C-R-E-E-P-I-N-G along, I will go back to a photo of the old kitchen before we moved in.

And here is where we are today!  Most of you who have been here with me know that we ripped out that wall between the old kitchen and dining room.  And when I say we, most of you also know that I mean my husband.  :)

So the perfectionist in me really wants to wait until all the details are done before I show you an update.  Even when people come over and see it in person, my knee-jerk reaction is to start yelping But wait!  Someday we'll have a pretty planked farmhouse backsplash!  We're covering all those wires up with crown molding, I swear!  And I really meant to finish sanding that bit of drywall.  But I told you a few months ago that things were going to be a little more real up in here.  So I present to you the other side of my kitchen:

I don't think I've ever mentioned on here that I am married to Dave Ramsey.  Well, not really Dave Ramsey, but someone equally committed to not going into debt and paying out of pocket whenever possible.  I say that with some wifely sarcasm, but in all honesty I love that Brent is such a financial planner and he takes great care of our family.  However, in matters of a major kitchen remodel, this manifests itself in the following way: Carrie wants kitchen done now.  Brent wants to save up for kitchen and complete it in phases as money becomes available.  

As you might have guessed, the phased plan wins!  So we have finished cabinetry on one side of the kitchen and the other side is patiently waiting for a pantry and some open shelving for cute dish displays.  :)  In the meantime, you would not believe how much stuff you can fit on those gorilla racks!

Phase I of the remodel still gives me so much to celebrate!  I am obsessed, for example, with these brass knobs.

And I spend a bizarre amount of time contemplating how cute this vintage brass rod looks on my antique butcher block.

But to keep it real, I will now show you my open electrical box and tape on the walls.

I will show you my favorite cow painting, which I hung on the side of the cabinet next to my kitchen sink window.

And then I will back up a little bit and show you more exposed electrical and unfinished drywall behind the sink.

Pretty bin pulls on my drawers.  My dream stove. (Still quite frightened of it, to be honest, but we are becoming friends!)

And more exposed wiring that eventually will be hidden by molding.

But somewhere cute to put my grocery sign, which I made years ago just hoping it would find a home like this!

We've definitely asked ourselves if we did the right thing by taking on this huge project!  It's been a challenge to live in the mess instead of finishing it all right now.  But it helps to look back and celebrate how far we've come since Mother's Day weekend when Brent turned to me and said "I think I'm going to rip that wall out today."  (By the way, that was one of the awesomest things he's ever said to me.)

Beauty with imperfections...kind of like all of us, right?  Thank you for going on the ride with me!


The Kitchen Renovation Leaked Into the Family Room!

I'm sure this is nothing new to you.  But you know how, when you start a new house project, it suddenly--somehow--brings up a bunch of other new projects that you want to do?

Yeah.  We know a little about that around here.  :)

It's a long story, but basically here it is.  There is a support beam that divides our kitchen from our family room.  It used be buried in a very 1970s-era soffit.  Once we ripped out the soffit, the beam was just hanging there, very much in the way but very much necessary to, you know, hold up our house.  You can see it in the photo below.

We weren't sure if we should just hide the beam inside a smaller soffit or try to make it pretty, like one of those beautiful exposed beams in Country Living.  Problem is, neither option seemed to fit our house.  Then our kitchen designer had the idea to build a mini-wall on either end of it, thus hiding the beam in a cased opening with trim to match the other openings in the house.  Brilliant!

My husband built a 14 inch wall on either side, and then covered the whole thing in drywall and trim.  It looks like it's been there all along! I love how it helps to divide the kitchen from the family room, while still leaving it nice and open.  We do most of our living in these two rooms, and I didn't want them to feel isolated from each other, just distinct and different.

As an added bonus, it helped us to figure out what do to with these awkward spaces on either side of our fireplace.  (See what I mean about projects spreading around here?)  When we bought the house, the fireplace was cozy but needed a little updating.  Here it was in 2012.

We painted it, and added some trim to the bottom half of the room to tie it all together.  Below, you can see how it looked after that first round of updating.  (This photo is pre-kitchen renovation, so you can also see how there was no division between the family room and the kitchen, except for the huge soffit.)  I always wondered what to do with the spaces on either side of the fireplace, especially the one on the right.  It looked like it was asking for a built-in bookshelf there, but I couldn't figure out how to balance that with one on the left without it looking like it was just floating.  So both sides stayed empty.

Then, hallelujah!  Building that small wall on the left side created a matching little alcove next to the fireplace, perfect for a narrow bookshelf.  So, while we waited for the plumbers and electricians to work their magic in the kitchen, we focused on this project.  I just love how adding a small amount of wall encloses the room.  It feels cozier, and I can't wait for fall to light our first fire in the fireplace!  (And yes, those are still my Fourth of July decorations.  At this point they'll just stay up until Labor Day, and then I'll switch over to pumpkins and gourds, my favorite!)

Of course, styling the bookshelves was my favorite part!  We always have books around here that need a home, so that part was easy.  And most of the other artwork and decorative stuff was just repurposed from another place in my house.

We also got some inexpensive timers for the lights on the shelves.  My husband hates going around at night to turn off all the lamps I turn on.  At least this way, there are a few he doesn't have to roll his eyes about!

So, if what you're thinking is "Those built-ins look familiar for some reason," you'd be right!  Last year we added built-ins to our former-living-room-turned-dining-room.  You can see how similar (identical?) they are here.  I thought about doing something different this time.  I really did!  In the end, though, I thought the family room needed a little spot of color surrounding the fireplace.  But I wanted to keep the shelving and trim off-white to match the rest of the house.  So, I painted the beadboard in the back of the shelves my favorite green, "City Arboretum" by Valspar.  I love it!  I am nothing if not predictable boring!

This final photo gives you another angle into the room...bookshelves are on the left, just out of the shot.  And I'm sorry about the bad lighting!  It was a bright day I'm not much of a photographer to begin with.  :)

I'll be back with some updated kitchen photos soon.  Because YES!  There is progress! Yay!


Milk Can Upgrade

Since our family has been spending so much time out on our patio while our interior is torn apart, I thought I'd take a brief detour from Kitchen Remodel 2015 and share with you a great little project for the outside! (Although truthfully this could work great for an indoor piece if you'd rather.)

One day I picked up this milk can for $5 at a garage sale.  I just love it when things start out this hideous!  Makes the transformation all the more gratifying. :)

I'd been looking for something to replace this old table outside.  It was fine, but starting to show some wear.  We inherited it from my husband's grandparents and though I'd already spray painted it to spruce it up, I think it was on it's last legs!

I'd read that Annie Sloan Chalk Paint was a good option for outdoors.  I totally agree!  This color is French Linen, with a dark wax coat on top.  I actually did this over a year ago, and it's still holding up great!

I picked up a wooden disk at Lowe's, stained it and sealed it with Helmsman Indoor/Outdoor Spar Urethane by Minwax.  (It's the best for protecting wood for outdoor use, I think.  Thanks, Dad, for the recommendation years ago!)  If you look off into the distance of the photo below, you can see our kids' tree swing, made by gluing two of these same disks together.  I stained and sealed them the same way, and the swing has held up great too!

My husband attached the disk from the underside with some screws, but if you're not worried about small children tipping it over, you could probably get away with a strong glue (?).  We also put some sand in the base of the milk can to give it a little more stability.

Not bad for a $20 investment!


Small Victories

I can't believe I am actually dedicating a whole post to one corner of my kitchen ceiling.  This is getting ridiculous!

But, as I am learning again and again during this mostly-DIY renovation, you gotta take the little victories whenever you can get them!  S-L-O-W is the name of this game, and waiting for the reality to catch up with the vision in my head is teaching me much about patience.  :)

So here again are those pipes in the corner of the kitchen, above the eat-in portion:

A few weeks ago I celebrated with you all that I had drywall and those pipes were hidden from sight:

And now I can say that it's starting to resemble a real room!  The drywall is complete, most of the paint is dry, and over the weekend my husband hung our new light fixture and did some major damage in the woodworking department.

As you can probably tell, I'm still catching up on painting the woodwork.

And I've also been busy with a project in the adjacent family room...you may be able to see a bit of that if you look closely on the right side of the photo.  More on that to come very soon!

In the meantime, wish me patience, my friends.  It's pretty bad when even my 8-year-old daughter knows that it's not one of Mama's strengths!