Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tips for DIY Gallery Walls

I am a self-professed gallery wall fiend! I know that I tend to be a "busy" decorator, and gallery walls are the best way to satisfy my need to fill every space. Minimalism is just not my thing friends! 

A gallery wall is great because it can allow you to fill a large space over time without having to spend big bucks on a large piece of art, especially if that's not your taste. There's nothing more sad than a small, wimpy frame centered alone over a sofa. On the other hand, hanging a mixture of frames, shelves, and other decorative elements allows you to introduce some texture, color, and interest that you can't always get from one single piece of artwork, and you don't have to break the bank.

The downside of a gallery wall is that it can become overwhelming to get all of those elements just right. I know the wall over our sofa is straight up swiss cheese from where I've moved things around so much. Here are my tips and tricks for fun, curated gallery walls on a budget. 

1. Have a Plan
I have made the mistake in the past of just throwing things up on a wall without any real idea of the finished look I was going for. Sometimes that is out of necessity since it can take months to collect the right items for a space (and I am impatient). What has worked for me is to find a general shape or flow I like. I start from there, and then work my way out. 

The best way to plan the layout of your frames is to create paper templates. When I re-did our hallway "Wall of Love" as we call it, I used an old roll of art paper and traced every single shelf and frame and cut them out. I labeled them with a note so I would remember which rectangle I was looking at ("small scalloped frame" for example), and I made a mark where the hanger on the back was. Then, I hung the templates on the wall with painters tape. It allowed me to move the different elements around without destroying my fresh paint job, and I was able to get a better feel for the spacing of everything and the overall look. It was incredibly tedious (I have over 50 different frames and whatnot hung there!) but so worth it because, for once, I was able to get it right the first time. 

2. Choose a Color Story
In order to tie in all the different elements of your gallery wall, choose a cohesive color story to repeat throughout. Our hallway Wall of Love uses chalky white, black, and natural wood tones with pops of coral and gold. We repeat it all the way up the stairwell, so even though there are over 50 individual pieces, it works as one [gigantic] statement. 

3. Be Thrifty
Most people know that the thrift store is an excellent source for photo frames, but I'm including it anyway. Pretty much all of my favorites came from our local secondhand shop. 

Guess how much of this was spray painted. Answer: ALL OF IT

Hit up the thrift store then bust out the spray paint! And don't worry if the art inside is an ugly teddy bear squeezing a heart and the saying "A friend loveth at all times." You can cover that up too! 

Which brings me to... 

4. Get Crafty
My favorite resource for new art is the scrapbooking section at Hobby Lobby or Michaels. I buy the giant 12x12 pads of scrapbook paper and use those as backgrounds in frames or as the art themselves. With a little Mod Podge and an interesting frame,  you have new art! 

Lunch tray + scrapbook paper = Art! 

Another favorite that I've found at Hobby Lobby are the pads of ready-to-frame prints by Me & My Big Ideas.

 If you use a 40% off coupon, you can get one of these babies for less than $10. It also  includes ideas for placement and arranging. They sell a variety of frames in the store too, but those costs add up. I have one of these prints stuck to the wall with green scotch tape right now, and I love it (washi tape works too!). I mostly used these to tie in color in the Wall of Love. 

5. Shop Etsy
If you're pressed for time, or just having a hard time creating the art yourself, try searching Etsy for art prints. Usually these can be printed right from your computer at home (I usually use high quality photo paper for mine). 

Some of my favorites are these flowers and this quote  from Printable Wisdom.
 Only five smackers and you download it instantly! Plus, you own that file, so you can print as many copies as you need (for personal use, obvs). That means alllll your friends get framed art for Christmas this year! 
I have also bought lots of other fun art prints from Etsy that were shipped to me, including Frida Kahlo, Doctor Who and Breaking Bad themed prints. 
You can also search Pinterest for free printables. 

6. Three Dimensions
Last, layer in other three-dimensional decorative elements to break things up and add some texture. Try hanging a small shelf, a faux deer head, plates, letters,
or a hanging vase or mason jar. I'm especially proud of the painted crate I have in my kitchen. 

Most of all, have fun! Don't be afraid to experiment with the placement and colors and nontraditional elements on your walls. I hope these tips will give you some fresh ideas for your own gallery walls.

Do you love the gallery wall trend? Are you a busy decorator like I am? What's the weirdest thing you every hung on a wall? 

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Kitchen Update and Story Time

Today, I am excited to share some of the progress we have made in our kitchen! Here's a reminder of what we were working with. 

When we first moved in, our kitchen was DARK! We filled it with black furniture, chose a dark-ish green paint, and kept literally every appliance we owned out on the countertops. It was cluttered and dated. I have since moved on from my job teaching high school Spanish, and from this Latin American themed decor. I loved our hardwood floors, but I was never crazy about the laminate counters or the finish on the cabinets. 

Last year, we painted a light, airy pastel blue (Valspar Grand Hotel Mackinac Blue) and updated our table and chairs. 

Don't judge my sink full of dirty dishes, y'all.

We held a yard sale and sold all the extra kitchenwares we didn't need and never used. Everything else (except the KitchenAid mixer) found a home inside a cabinet. I rearranged, updated the color palette from bold primary colors to lighter pastels, and bought a new antique buffet that I am crazy about. Things were looking lovely, and I was feeling very proud of my crafty design skills. Then this happened...

Dun dun DUN!!!

I was at work when my husband texted me this photo. I remember taking deep breaths to slow the adrenaline that was about to explode my brain. Here I had spent weeks, No, months! Slaving away over paint and sandpaper and various mason jars, and he let one errant pot and missing trivet melt our countertops. I was definitely crying. 

Now. In his defense, our then-two-year old (who has always been a busy, handful of a child) had recently started working on potty training. Let's just say that the emergency that led to this fiasco involved poop, tiny hands, more poop, and perhaps a tv screen. It was an upsetting night for all three of us. 

So after the poop was cleaned up (but the burnt laminate smell still lingered), we made a plan. I had secretly wanted new counters all along, but didn't think it was the frugal decision to make. Now that we didn't have a choice, it was a little easier to spend that money. Only a little easier. We saved and saved for over a year. I rolled all my spare change and put it in a special project savings account. Every dollar we made at our yard sale went towards new countertops. I will share all the details of the material we ended up choosing in another post when the kitchen is done, but y'all, they are gorgeous. 

Having these new countertops gave me the spark I needed to start painting our cabinets, a project I'd been putting off because I knew it would be time consuming and a mess (I was right). 

So far, I have all of the uppers primed and painted and half hung back up. They still need some detail touch ups, but I'm getting excited to see the final look! Next I need to choose hardware! Here is a sneak peek of what I've done so far. 

Please forgive the low-quality photo. This is seriously the darkest corner in our house (#notaphotographer)! With two littles around, it may be a couple more weeks before everything is painted and I'm able to share the finished look. In the meantime, I'll be sharing other updates I've made around the house. You can always check out our house tour as I add more rooms and before and afters! 

Anyone else slaved through painting your cabinets? Was it worth it? Have you ever burned a hole in  your countertops? 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hey Y'all!

Well hello! Thank you so much for visiting my little blog! This is my first post, so I'm feeling the pressure a little bit. Pressure to be entertaining and interesting, and also pressure to hurry this thing up because the baby is currently snoozing in her swing. 

I thought I would share a little bit about myself and why I'm even writing this blog to begin with. I resisted the idea of starting it for a really long time. There are eleventy billion DIY and home decor blogs in this world, and I have no experience, no power tool skills, and no idea what I'm doing. Also, I'm a wife, momma, and self-employed business owner, which doesn't leave tons of time for all the work that a good blog requires. But, alas, here I am. All I know is that I have a crafty project on my mind at all hours of the day, and I can't stop decorating my house. I figured if I had this blog to come to and share with, the whirlwind in my brain might subside a little bit. 
She matches the decor

I have always been crafty and a maker. As a kid, I built elaborate condos out of shoeboxes for stuffed animals, decked out with wallpaper and handmade furniture. When I was teenager I taught myself (with my grandmother's help) how to sew. I altered my clothing and made stuffed dolls to represent my friends and me. I once made a skirt from an old New Kids on the Block pillowcase. 

In 2008, I was a recent college grad, and working as a high school teacher. I was desperate for a creative outlet, so one of my best friends and I opened an Etsy shop together. We sold quirky jewelry made from all kinds of funky stuff: cupcake toppers, Monopoly pieces, Legos, and buttons. We were fairly successful in a small town way. We went to several craft shows together over the years, and had our jewelry in a couple local shops. 
By the time my babies came along, we both were ready to do something different. We closed up our shop and gave away a lot of our inventory as gifts. Now I'm feeling that creative itch again, and our home is like a huge blank, beige canvas. 

I know none of these rooms will ever feel truly done. That's practically impossible outside of a BHG photoshoot. I mean, we live here. Life is not perfect, and neither is my house. But I find so much satisfaction in finding a beautiful arrangement of tchotchkes on my sofa table and getting my [one of many] gallery walls just right. I love the planning and daydreaming, I love the doing, and I love the admiring. I love crafting our life here, even if it's never perfect and sometimes the pictures hang crooked. 

I hope I've held up under the pressure here in this first post. I know it ended up long and kind of rambly, so bless your heart for reading it. The baby did grunt a few times over in the swing, but she's still out, so I guess I did ok. I hope you will check back as I share my daydreams, plans, and updates for our little home. 

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