Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Re-Frame Part Deux!

I mentioned yesterday that I had a cool project to share that involved old frames and re-used prints from magazines and books.  Mondays are a pretty busy day for us but I was able to upload all of my pics and I'm stealing a minute early this morning to give you the goods!  I had two frames laying around after the move and I just wasn't sure where I wanted to put them.  The first was part of a trio of framed artwork that Olivia's Nana Sherri had picked up for me at a garage sale a few years back.  They are 11 x 14 silver frames with a series of Victorian-era paintings, matted to a near 5 x 7.  They are in great condition and the backs are easily removable so that any type of art or photo can be inserted inside.  Two of the frames actually hold some fantastic artwork that Livy did in preschool.  The other frame was yet to be re-purposed. 

As you can see, the frame is matted to around 5 x 7, however, the inset can be removed to open up to an 8 x 10 which gives us more options to fill the opening.  First things first though, I wanted a dramatic change that was quick and affordable and I decided on... you guessed it!  Paint!  And let me tell you one of the greatest little surprises I stumbled upon at the craft store this weekend:  Mini spray paint cans!  Teensy little cans for those jobs that don't require a ton of surface coverage or maybe just a touch up here or there.  GENIUS!

 Here's a pic of the cute little can! And that's my little artist in the background, hard at work on a colorful craft project of her own.
The color I had on hand was white but the craft store offered a variety of colors to choose from.

 After carefully removing the backing and print from the frame, I used sandpaper to smooth the intricate edges and surface. 

Then I got to work spraying.  Here's what the color looked like after one coat:
And after some drying time (I usually wait about 10 good minutes with spray paint) I added one more coat.  Here's the frame after the second coat:

Hard to see here but I was satisfied when, after the second coat dried, I could no longer see any of the silver poking through.  If you wanted a more distressed look, you could finish after one coat and maybe even add some scuffs with the sand paper. 

Easy to see here is my peu artiste, hard at work on her masterpiece...
Next was finding the perfect print for the frame.  I have so many framed photos of Olivia around the house, as well as photos from my own childhood and my family; this time I wanted something different to finish the project with.  I have some books around the house by Rachel Ashwell, a noted designer and founder of Shabby Chic.  Her books are filled with beautiful pictures and are the inspiration for many projects around my house.  I started to flip through and found a gorgeous photo of a yellow rose and immediately cut it out of the book.  

It fit nicely into the 8 x 10 matted frame and when all was put back together, I must say, I was very happy with the end result.  The bright white edges, the pop of color from the rose... very nice indeed.

Total project cost was $3.00 for the can of paint.  Tres magnifique! 


The second frame I've had for years and I believe it was purchased from Marshall's.  It held 3 photos of various sunsets taken on the beach during many visits to Florida and I wanted a total change from the tropical theme.  

 I have a left over can of a soft, baby blue paint that I thought would be pretty and since I already had the idea of adding it to my mantle (opposite the newly painted white frame with yellow flower) I thought the blue would nicely compliment the teal mirror.  The can was a normal size and for such a small job I decided to just a pour a small amount into one of Livy's paper princess cups.  That way, I only use a small amount and can simply toss the cup when I'm finished.

After removing the backing and pictures, I sanded the frame, very lightly, and decided to quickly prime with the tiny can of white spray paint.  Priming is a great way to seal off the base and limit the number of coats you will need to paint. 

Once the primer dried, I got to work, using a soft-tipped brush and long strokes.  I followed the grain of the wood on the frame and painted the two tall sides using vertical strokes and the top and bottom sides using horizontal strokes.  

Here is the frame after one coat:
Because I primed and because I knew the general look I wanted for the frame, I was happy with one coat.  I wanted a distressed look so I waited for the frame to dry completely and then used sand paper to roughen up the edges.  I used quick motions and concentrated on areas that I figured would distress over time naturally (the edges and corners).

 After sanding, I used a soft cloth to wipe away the dust. 

Then I was ready to put the frame back together.  Wanting to stay within the theme I already had going on the mantle, I found three more pretty pictures from the Rachel Ashwell books that I thought would look nice in the frame. I used a pencil to lightly trace onto the chosen prints and cut about half an inch around each line so that I would have room for tape.
And here's the finished work:

I've had everything on hand so there were no immediate costs.  If I had to guess, the original frame was around $10.00.  The Rachell Ashwell books were purchased at a garage sale for around $5.00.  That, plus the cost of the first frame featured here today totals $18.00.  An under $20.00 investment for a project that down the road, would give me a perfectly wonderful afternoon painting with my daughter (her project featured below) and a huge smile on my face whenever I walk into my house and see my pretty mantle.  Love it!


Books, candles and all things pretty~
And here's my Olivia's finished project of the day, a pink and purple jewelry box, painted and bedazzled to her liking.  Happy Crafting!

Monday, July 30, 2012


I was able to complete a few projects this weekend and I am excited to share them with you!  These projects are very simple and unique and anyone can try! 

While visiting a pretty antique shop in my neighborhood, I stumbled across a basket filled with vintage print outs of spectacular paintings.  The images were small and would easily fit inside any matted framework.  Each print was in clear protective sleeve and had its own back-story on the reverse side.  At $5 a pop, I couldn't pass it up!  I chose a picture entitled "The Engagement Ring" and it featured a couple in a garden locked in romantic conversation with one another.   I knew I had a frame at home that the picture would look perfect in! 

Once I was home, I removed the print from the protective sleeve and put it into my matted 8 x 10 frame and...

Done!  That simple and for $5.00 you can't beat it!  I decided it would look nice on a built in shelf that is in our living room.

The detailing on my frame compliments the printed black and white artwork rather nicely in my opinion. FYI, the frame was purchased at a Family Dollar for $5.00 a few years back.

The total project cost $10.00 and maybe 10 minutes of prep work once I got home.  Affordable.  Quick.  Pretty.  Happy.

Can't beat that~ 

NEXT UP!  Have an old frame that you are just not feelin' anymore?  Some interesting prints or artwork just laying around forgotten and unused?  No fear, I have a simple solution and I promise it will be quick and affordable!  Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Hand That Paints the Mantle... Cramps!

Soooo as  I had previously stated in my first Before and After post, we recently moved into a bigger house and with all of this extra space, there is a TON of work to be done!  The new house is a pretty, two story Colonial with wood floors and arched doorways and coved ceilings...  I love it!  Our bathroom upstairs is huge!  You could fit like, 10 people in there!  My previous bathroom in my flat was so tiny that my five year old and I could not even be in there at the same time without bumping into one another!

Though I love my new house, there are plenty of things I would like to revamp, refurbish and remake into a style that suits my tastes better.  One of those items was my fireplace  & mantle.  It is oak wood and frankly, though it is in good shape, it did not really meld with the feeling of the room.  It is also in a very odd place in the room.  Rather than on an exterior wall, the fireplace is located just inside the front door and rests on an interior wall opposite the kitchen.  So you walk into the house and BAM!  Fireplace.  Weird.

Since the fireplace is the first thing you see, I wanted it to exude the general feel of the house decor and that  usually ends up somewhere between Shabby Chic and Traditional.  And this finished oak complete with rope detail screams 1990 blah.  It also did not meld well with my distressed, teal mirror from an earlier project.  I wanted a change that would be quick and easy and time and time again, I have found that paint can quickly and easily transform a room.  I decided to paint!  And I decided on white.  It is a shabby chic staple and in my opinion, works well with a vintage or traditional decor.  I used Frog Tape for the wall and edges; again Frog Tape.  Amazing.  Try it, you'll see :) 

After sanding down the surface and edges, I was ready to paint.  I had a left over can of white paint by Valspar that I decided on for the mantle. It is a semi-gloss finish and I believe the shade was Clean White.  It's bright and crisp and I wanted a white that would pop against the khaki-beige like color of our living room. I used my trusty Purdy soft tipped brush and got to work.  I started at the bottom with long, quick swooshes.  About halfway up the first side, I realized the need for a roller.  Seeing as though I started this project in the middle of the day and dinner was quickly approaching, I knew a trip to the hardware was not an option.  I powered through with my brush and though the cramping in my hand only got worse, I knew the finished product would be worth it.  It should also be noted that the small rope detailing on the face of the mantle was rather difficult to paint with a medium sized brush.  Here I would have used a smaller paint brush to get in between every nook and cranny.  I guess a trip to my beloved hardware store is in my future.

I also knew the mantle would need a few coats as I did not prime the wood.  Three was the magic number and after three coats (letting each coat dry completely in between) I was happy with the results.  After the last coat was completely dry I put the distressed mirror back on the mantle and also added some books and vintage candles.  The candles were purchased at an estate sale by a friend.  They burn slowly and even when the candle is gone they will still look pretty for years to come sitting on my mantle, or on an end table or book shelf. 

This project cost me $0.00 as the paint was left from the previous owner and I had the sand paper and brush on hand.  It did cost me some pain from the cramping in my hand but like I said before, the end result was worth the cramps.  I walk into my house every day now and see this pretty white mantle and no more 90's oak wood roping.  Totally worth it~

Speaking of pretty things, I am in the middle of another project for my daughter's room that involves one of my favorite colors... PINK!  Stay tuned and...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sherri Scrapbook

Click here to view this photo book larger

Photo Book Tip: Create an adventurous travel photo album at Shutterfly.com.

Home Sweet Home

Though my daughter Olivia's father and I are no longer together, we remain good friends and to this day I am still in frequent contact with his family and adore them greatly.  I recently learned that the family is selling their home located in a beautiful, lake-filled suburb complete with wooded grounds and rolling hills and more than a few dirt roads.  This house has been in the family for over 35 years and is filled with many wonderful memories and stories.  In a recent conversation with Olivia's Nana Sherri, we were talking about how bittersweet the last few months have been as they prepared the home for sale.  The house is quite large, and with her family grown and mostly moved away, it now houses only herself and her husband and is of course, dotted sweetly with weekly visits from Olivia.  This is a lot of space for a couple looking forward to retirement and relaxation and it was with heavy but forward-looking hearts, they decided to downsize.  
The house rests in a wooded area and is very close to a pretty lake with boat access.  Sherri often talks about how lovely it was to allow her children to grow up in an open environment, complete with dirt-road walks, campfires, days on the lake and fire-fly catching at night.  It was stories like this that made me very excited to introduce my Olivia to a life that included the robust outdoors and playful, energetic activities.  
Though the family is not moving very far, and intend to stay close to the pretty lake and all of its amenities, it is still very difficult for Sherri to leave the home that has become the welcome retreat and foundation of life for the last 35 years.  It is my firm belief that life expands and flourishes not just by where we are at, but by whom we choose to surround ourselves with and also how we chose to exist in those surroundings.  The lake house is a true testimony to this belief.  When Sherri started her family with the love of her life, they, like many young couples, struggled to make ends meet and provide a comfortable and happy environment for their children.  They both worked hard and Sherri developed an interest in "garage-sale-ing" as an affordable way to uniquely and tastefully decorate her home.  Eventually, their hard work paid off and they were able to decorate the home as they wished, but Sherri's interest in re-furbishing and re-using a vast array of antiques, collectibles, home furnishings and the like stayed with her and she has managed to cleverly mix the old and the new and create quite an eye-catching and gorgeous home.
I was lucky enough to celebrate a milestone birthday with Sherri and her family a few years back and as a gift, decided to put together a photo book of this wonderful home and all of the treasures and memories it stores for those who are close to the family.  After Olivia was born, her father and I lived in the home for some time while getting on our feet during a career change, and the house holds a dear place in my heart because it enabled my family's survival for a short time and also because it held great hope for my own daughter's experiences growing up in and around the lake house.  
I've added a few of the pictures here today to give you an idea of the treasures and life that the house holds and perhaps this small tribute will bring comfort to Sherri as she packs her things and gets ready to move. I wish Sherri and her family lots of love as they embark on the next chapter of their lives and settle into their new house and become accustomed to new smells, sounds and structure. 

Our homes are the heart of our worlds.  Home is where family resides.  Home is what shelters us from the storm and keeps sacred our most treasured and true belongings.  There is something to be said for a person who puts their heart into making a warm, welcoming home for visitors and family alike.  We take pride in our home.  From the very first moment we cross the threshold, to the moment we lock the door behind us for the last time.  Home is where the heart is. 

 Home Sweet Home.