Christmas Tree

Our first Christmas in our, My Chicago House

Our Christmas tree is from Balsam Hill. There were so many choices to sort through, but ultimately I decided on the Stratford Spruce Tree, 9′ tall with clear lights. I ended up calling customer service to help narrow down the selection and was guided towards this tree, which was less expensive than the other option I was considering, and, it is now on sale! So, even cheaper if you still need one. 
There is a mix of “filler branches” and natural looking branches that are arranged with filler towards the center and natural on the outer edges. The filler branches do not look real, but you cannot see them. The natural needles look nice. Here is the tree immediately after we set it up. I like it!

Balsam Hill tree, 9′ tall, immediately out of the box

It was easy to set it up and shape the branches, but we couldn’t have done it without the labels so we will keep them for next year so we don’t get stuck. Setting up the tree was fun. We put it together over the course of an afternoon. 
I wanted our tree to be different this year – “artsy” and organic. I wanted it to be monochromatic with a modern flair. I decided on purple because it is a nice contrast to the green walls in our dining room and a totally “new” color in our house. I bought 6″ thick painted burlap ribbon on Etsy and large glass ornaments from Michael’s to DIY. 

DIY ornaments painted purple in varying shades

I filled each ornament with water and paint (the paint is on the inside, not the outside) to varying degrees in order to get a full set of ornaments that start out light, and move darker, so that our tree ultimately has a subtle “ombre” ornament affect. For the very light ornaments at the top of the tree I poured in water and shook it with a drop of paint I dripped inside. I wanted these light ornaments to look like a soap bubble. 

The violet burlap from Etsy arrived and is perfect. I loosely arranged it on the tree and clipped the ends in a “v”. 

Violet burlap from Etsy draped on tree with ends clipped into a “v” 

The ornaments were arranged from light to dark, starting at the top.

Glass DIY ornaments arranged from light to dark, starting at the top of the tree

The presents will be wrapped in brown paper with burlap bows. We are separately going to buy a few wreaths to hang on the dining room shelves and I will decorate those wreaths with purple ribbon also. Very simple wreaths with one, wide, purple ribbon wrapped across each. 

The den, plaid makeover

Plaid carpet install

The den has been in process for quite some time and not including the kitchen, the last room to finish, but we have a great base with the walls painted Railings by Farrow & Ball to layer on mixed plaid and cozy this room up! As a reminder, this is what the room looked like before we got started. 

The den, from the listing photo

It is amazing to think that our cozy den was once a bedroom!

The first thing we did was paint the space and remove all traces of gray

It still makes me sad that the homeowner painted the entire home gray to sell it, just for me to immediately re-paint, but alas – the gray is gone, and so is the pink square that the mirror was hiding… 

The carpet selection for this room was simple. I knew I wanted a modern plaid rug in a navy tone and was immediately drawn to a carpet from Stark that could be custom cut to fit the room perfectly. 

From selection to installation, the Stark carpet was in place within one month

We had a couple of real-time decisions to make as the carpet was being installed. Namely, whether or not we left the “tail” of carpet alongside the fireplace and behind the door. While it is relatively “skinny” I decided to keep the tail as the door is often open and I wanted to see the carpet extend behind the door. I also did not want the door to get caught up on the edge of the carpet when opening and closing. After months of living with this carpet, I am happy we kept the tail. 

We debated keeping this “tail” or cutting it short and decided to keep it

The addition of the carpet made such a difference in this room and I am so happy with it. It is a perfect compliment to the Railings paint color. 

The carpet is a perfect match to the Railings paint from F&B

Still in process is a cornflower blue pull-out couch from Avery Boardman that will be delivered soon. Once the couch is in place I will select chairs from Chairish (or Ebay) to re-upholster.

Stark carpet in place, waiting for furniture

I’ve narrowed down the fabric to a selection of Colefax and Fowler plaids, pictured below. They all coordinate well with the couch fabric (below, bottom right), and the carpet. I’m debating introducing more than one plaid and am thinking about it all as a big mix and match project. It needs to coordinate, but it doesn’t need to match perfectly. 

Swatches from Colefax and Fowler and our chosen couch fabric from Manuel Canovas, bottom right

Keeping in mind the art that we selected for the room, I am leaning towards the plaid on the top right of the image above for side chairs. The fabric has a sense of plum which helps to pull in the tones of the artwork and it feels like a better coordinating fit, to me. 

Stephanie Hier artwork in den, wall painted Railings by F&B

Once the couch is delivered and in place I will make the final decision. I’m enjoying taking my time on this project! 

Halloween Chic

Simple Halloween decor that is classic and spooky

Our Halloween decorations were all sourced from Michael’s craft store. We spent less than $100 and will use all of the decorations again next year. I wanted to bring in the “spooky” and “freaky” without making the decor too dark or sensational, and on a white bookcase it was impossible to make the decor too dark anyways, so I worked with what we had and even incorporated some of our usual shelf decor, that with the black fabric looked spooky too!

The hand mannequin that is always on our shelf looks spookier with the Halloween colors

I flipped all of our books so that black, white and red bindings were the only visible colors facing out. I removed all items from our shelves that were out of color scheme and hid them below. I layered a combination of black fabric, black stuffing and faux fall leaves across the shelves with a mix of styrofoam (read: cheap) skeleton heads, black crows and a “bag of bones” nestled in a chicken wire box.

All of the books turned out or face forward were red, white and black / B&W

The black stuffing went a long way to elevate basic shelves to Halloween chic with the mix of faux leaves. Be sure to stand the leaves up in the stuffing so that you can see them from afar vs. simply laying them down flat.

Leaves standing up in the black stuffing add more color and texture than leaves laying flat

The crows were a fun addition to the shelves and we were able to tuck a few away in some “surprise” places throughout the house.

A crow perched atop the Sapiens bookcase

Each fireplace mantle was decorated differently with a combination of small pumpkins, white and orange, and more faux fall leaves. In total, I used four bags of the faux leaves and they went a long way. I took all of the extra leaves and piled them at the edge of the fireplace on the ground.

Out of frame is a pile of faux leaves at the base of the den fireplace

The dining room fireplace was decorated with faux leaf branches from Michaels and a line of orange and white striped pumpkins from the patch!

The faux leaves look real against the [real] mini orange and white striped pumpkins on the dining room fireplace

The dark Calla Lillies that we always have in our living room in their bone vases look perfect for Halloween! The white pumpkins are simple and sweet. 

Friendly “Halloween” flowers in the kitchen

All of our mini pumpkins were purchased at the pumpkin patch. We bought 15 of these minis and scattered them though the house!

All of our pumpkins were cleaned before we placed them around the house. 

While we will have to toss the pumpkins end of season, all of the other decor can be stored for next year. 

In our entry we nested a bundle of dried corn against a cluster of larger pumpkins and more faux leaves

Happy Halloween!

Raleigh baby room surprise

I remotely planned a baby room design for my friend Meghan in Raleigh. You can see some of my planning here. Last night, while Meghan was sleeping, I made it happen in 4 hours. The best part about this room? All of the major ingredients to make it fabulous were less than $600.
As a reminder, this is what the room looked like before. It was basic – nothing particularly special about this room, but it is a room everyone can relate to. It is a basic bedroom!

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A very basic baby room – the “before” shot

Meghan had recently carpeted and painted the room so there was a nice base to work with, but decorating wasn’t a first priority with the baby only 4-weeks away. The baby gender is unknown and Meghan wanted this room to “last”, so the design is intended to be gender neutral and sophisticated so it will be age appropriate for many years.
When working on a budget, the best way to make a big impact for less dollars is to hang a mural wallpaper. Lulu and Georgia has beautiful choices. I needed 2 rolls for this project. I began at 9PM and started with wallpaper.

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It was my second time installing wallpaper and I did it alone, so I trust anyone could do this. The paper is pre-pasted so all you need to do is use a sponge to spread water on the back of the panel, hang, and push out the air bubbles. The pre-pasted glue is a bit “slimy” in texture once it is activated, so you have some time to maneuver the panel and slide it into place so it matches up. I trimmed the base, top and around the outlets with a sharp x-acto knife and a straight edge (the same tool I used to smooth out the wallpaper).

After the wallpaper was done I worked on the curtains.

DIY Pom-Pom Curtains: The curtains are Threshold from Target. I bought pom-pom trim from Amazon and 1 roll of HeatnBond hem tape. This is all you need, plus an iron. These curtains were less than $50, TOTAL, for BOTH panels! All you need to do is iron the pom pom trim to the inside edge of the curtain with the HeatnBond hemming tape. I had to set my iron to a much higher steaming setting than the directions recommended, but that worked fine. This took ~20 minutes.

Iron on pom-poms, make fabulous curtains for <$50 total

The finished panel from the front. So beautiful and so easy and so inexpensive!

After I finished the curtains, I arranged the furniture around the edges of the room, accessorized with a $36 Lulu and Georgia Zeba pillow, a $48 trio of West Elm frames filled with my own animal watercolors and laid down a $163 Lulu and Georgia Nasra 5×7 rug.

West Elm gallery frames with watercolors by me

Lulu and Georgia Nasra rug, 5×7, brightens up the room and adds a nice extra layer

While I initially planned to make a DIY mobile, I found this Blabla mobile on eBay for $40, so I went with that given retail is $170+. Whenever I’m looking for something special, I always check Ebay first and I always bid under list. Even if the item is an auction item (and doesn’t have a buy it now option), I will message the seller and ask if they will take a lower price. Why? Because negotiating is fun! 😉 This one was listed for $60 and I got it for $40, muahaha.

My Ebay Blabla mobile is FAB and entirely handmade! Fits jungle theme perfectly.

I finished at 1AM. Surprising Meghan was the best, she loved it. 🙂

A 4-hour makeover, complete! Lulu and Georgia Mural

Jellycat doll, Pehr bag, Target Lamp, Wayfair chair, Lulu and Georgia pillow and mural and rug

 

 

Potter Barn crib, BlaBlah (Ebay) mobile, Target side table, DIY pom-pom Target curtain, Lulu and Georgia Mural

Paintings by me! Lulu and Georgia jungle mural

The drawer pulls we planned to update are delayed from China, but they are en route and will be mint green porcelain.

Love you Meghan and baby S to-be! Lulu and Georgia jungle mural

It was such a fun project and I’m so lucky that Meghan let me express all my ideas freely and completely trusted me with this room after a half bottle of wine. Love you Meghan, and baby S!

DIY: Rope Credenza

It’s labor day weekend and we’re making a credenza!

Once upon a time I set my eyes upon a rope credenza at a property that we visit annually on the East Coast. The second I saw it I thought, “I could make that”. And alas, the time has come. Our den walls are plaster so we cannot hide our TV wires within the walls. We will hang a Samsung Frame TV and hide the wires in a credenza. Since I was not originally planning on needing this piece of furniture, I wanted something simple and inexpensive while still appearing high end. I covered the entire IKEA Henmes sideboard in rope. (Naturally!)

Supply List:
1) IKEA Henmes sideboard, light brown, 2) 1,200 feet of 5/16″ Manila Rope, 3) Glue gun and glue sticks, 4) A paintbrush like this, 5) New knobs (optional) and longer screws to fit (rope requires screws to be slightly longer)

Pro Tip: This project took me 14 hours start to finish, so you need a weekend. I’d also recommend a very sharp knife and scissors for cutting the rope.

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IKEA Henmes sideboard: $329

Mecox has some interesting rope covered furniture that serves as a nice inspiration for this project. While I won’t be exactly mimicking this piece, I liked it very much.

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Mecox Pawley Abaca Rope Dresser: $1,875

The rope I am working with is from Knot & Rope supply.

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1,200 feet of 5/18″ rope from Knot & Rope Supply

Beginning with the drawer fronts, work from the outside in to cover them in rope. Do the same with the top of the sideboard. For the drawers, I worked from the center out because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t covering the holes for the drawer pulls, but in retrospect I think this was a harder path. It was harder because I had to measure in from the outer edge to make sure I was starting in the right place.

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Process if you begin in the center, and work out. I found it was easier to work outside in

For the cabinet doors and sides I wrapped the center section first, similar to the top and the drawers, but cut separate strips for the outer border.

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Beginning at the outer edge, wrap to center, then cut strips for sides

I cut the rope with a Global knife that I will be taking to get sharped on Tuesday. Not to say it’s dull now, I’m just expecting that is possible…

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Cut separate strips to cover the border edges

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All the pieces coming together in the living room for assembly

After the credenza was assembled, I glued down the trim pieces.

Ikea Henmes hack, covered in rope

I appreciate that I am did not go into too much detail here, but I am expecting the likelihood of some fellow-crafter following in my footsteps to DIY this piece is somewhere around 0% (rounding). So, please reach out to me if you do want to do this, and I can help guide you through.

Ikea hens hack, covered in rope with Samsung frame tv (waiting on frame)

I will have a piece of glass cut to top this off and help protect from dust. The knobs were replaced with cast iron knobs that I found online for $20. The Samsung frame tv will have a maple frame that is still on it’s way to us.

DIY: Bistro Table

Making use of the scrap pile…

Bistro tables are expensive and it is not hard to DIY. I made a bistro table for our kitchen and am very pleased with the results. This table cost ~50% less than big box retail alternatives, is custom, better quality and has beautiful marble that is superior to the box store choices. It also took less than 1 hour to assemble and required very little time to procure (all online, no in-person).

Supply list: 1) Marble / stone: I purchased mine at Stone City in Chicago by simply emailing, reviewing pictures and selecting for custom cut, 2) Silicon adhesive, 3) Piece of wood, 4) Bistro table base: mine is available here

Pro Tip: Marble from scrap is generally less expensive, as are straight cuts (vs. circle) to produce. This marble was from scrap and was cut to size in a 30″ hexagon.

First, I ordered my base (link above) and emailed the stone yard to get pictures of available scrap pieces.

This is the image that the stone yard (Stone City, Chicago) sent me of my chosen (by email) slab

The specs of this piece of marble is a hexagon, 30″ across the widest point. When the marble was delivered, I glued the wood to the base with silicon glue and let this dry overnight. The stone yard did apply mesh to the base of my cut slab so the glue would better stick.

Glue wood to marble, screw base to wood! (Do not screw base directly to marble)

Flipping the table upright is a 2-man job (eek, I did it alone) given the table weighs close to 125 lbs.

Protective plastic covers the surface

The last step is to simply peel back the protective covering and treat the marble for stain resistance. I love this little corner for weekend coffees in the AM!

Complete DIY bistro table with Frontgate chairs and Schoolhouse Electric lights

The table is very sturdy and does not wobble whatsoever.

Stephanie Hier artwork

For the dining room and the den

We came across Stephanie’s work for the first time at an exhibition in Chicago called Note G at Chicago Manual Style. The first piece I saw was in a ceramic frame.

Stephanie Hier, It’s time to pay the fiddler (2018), Oil on canvas with glazed stoneware frame, 15 x 10.5 inches. Chicago Manual Style, Note G Exhibit.

I love this painting and I especially love how technically detailed it is. I thought about the work after the show and almost immediately went down a rabbit hole to find more works by this artist, and learn more about her, and maybe find a piece I could buy. And, I found two! The first is an edition that is really beautiful with unique, hand-applied, temporary tattoos. I got first pick and chose the strawberry and cherry because I just love them! I bought this edition from David Dale Gallery in London.

Stephanie Hier, With a belly full of the classics (2018), Digital print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag, hand finished with temporary tattoo, 69 x 53 cm. Variable edition of 12. Private collection, from David Dale Gallery.

I separately found a stunning piece from Downs & Ross in New York. A perfect fit in the dining room. The second I saw it I knew it was the one. It couldn’t be more perfect for the green room in subject and color and size and depth – I couldn’t love this more.

Stephanie Hier, Step into the light (2017), Oil on linen, 60 x 49 inches. Private collection, from Downs & Ross.

Both pieces have been hung – one in the den and one in the dining room. Both making me happy! 🙂