DIY Chalkboard Sign

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Confession…I love chalkboards. Or, I love creating cute little works of art on chalkboards. Weird, I know. I have created some fun chalkboard signs for my mom’s business and thought it was time I have one in my home. I created a new photo gallery wall in our living room and took down the old gallery wall which was hanging in this space. It’s kind of an awkward spot. You enter our home into a foyer with a vaulted ceiling with the living room, dining room and kitchen to the left but you don’t really see those rooms until you round the corner. As you turn the corner, you step up 4 stairs into the living area and this wall is right in front of you.

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Not only is it an awkward spot, but the wall itself is a bit awkward as well. It is essentially a square in the center of our upstairs area. On the left of it is our living room and on the right is our dining room and kitchen. And because of the light switches and thermostat, the placement of anything you put on the wall either has to be really high or really low. Which is the reason I wanted to move the gallery wall, because the photos were up so high, you never really saw them very well. Once I completed this sign, I loved it in this space but still felt like the wall needed something on the lower half too. I think a thin sofa table up against the wall could possibly look good. However, very shortly there will be a DIY baby gate at the top of those stairs…hint hint at a future post…that will visually cover that space as you walk up toward the wall so I will most likely leave it as is until after the gate is up.

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The great thing about this sign is that the size is completely customizable for your space if you use the same project boards that I used from Lowe’s. They come in multiple sizes, thicknesses and made from different types of wood. For my space, I used a stain grade pine panel that is 3/4″ thick x 24″ tall x 36″ wide. Unfortunately, I can’t find these pine panels on their website anymore but they are usually kept in the lumber area, near the wood trim section.

Supplies
stain grade pine panel 3/4″ x 24″ x 36″
1″ x 2″ x 4′ pine board (for trim)
table saw or miter box (for cutting trim)
wood glue
1 1/2″ brad nails and nail gun
wood filler
220-grit sandpaper
chalkboard paint
stain or chalk paint for trim (I used Minwax stain in Dark Walnut)
chalk

Step 1: Cut your trim

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Lay your project board down and cut a piece of trim for each side. Now, you can just do straight edge cuts on your trim instead of angled miter cuts. If you have a table saw and can do miter cuts easily, then I say go for it. If you are trying to do it with a miter box and hand saw, probably not worth all the effort. At least not with the wood that I used for the trim, because it is not soft and would not be easy to cut through with a hand saw. So, if you are doing a straight edge, 90° cut with a jigsaw, simply cut the top and bottom pieces first, attach them with the wood glue and nails, as shown in step 3, and then measure and cut the side pieces. If you are doing a mitered angle cut, I measured one side at a time and as I measured the next side, I held the previous side in place to make sure I had a proper measurement and snug fit at each corner.

Step 2: Paint

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I know it might seem a little backwards to paint first and then assemble, and you don’t have to do it this way, especially because if you use wood filer to seal the corners on the trim, you’ll have to touch that up anyway. However, I didn’t want to deal with having to be super careful to not get the chalkboard paint on the trim once it was assembled so it just seemed easy and must faster to paint the pieces beforehand. Like I mentioned above, I used this chalkboard paint for the main board (2 coats) and Minwax stain in Dark Walnut for the trim (1 coat wiped on with a cloth).

Step 3: Attach trim to chalkboard

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Lay a piece of trim down on it’s thicker edge, add a thin line of wood glue to the edge that will attach to the chalkboard. Make sure the edges of your trim are flush with the chalkboard or the corner on each end and attach the trim using 1 1/2″ brad nails and a nail gun

Step 4: Finish corners with wood filler

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Use a little wood filler at each corner to fill in any gap between the trim boards. Once it is dry, use 220-grit sandpaper to buff the wood filler smooth and touch up with whichever stain or paint you used.

Step 5: Chalk art fun!

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Now you get to change up your wall décor as often as you want, and the great thing about chalk…if you don’t like it, you can wipe it off and do it again! I get a lot of my chalkboard inspo from Pinterest. Just type in chalkboard art and there you go. Some are way more intricate than others so just start with something simple and each time you can get a little more brave 🙂 I also added this little faux fern garland to the top for a little something extra because I felt like the wall was still a little naked.

Tips for creating chalkboard art
1. Use your chalk to divide you board into 4 equal sections, lightly draw a faint line down the middle of the board both vertically and horizontally. Whatever picture you are using as your inspiration, visualize it in 4 sections just like your board. This will help you with placement of each word or picture in relation to everything else.
2. Start from the center and work your way out. I started this board with “hello” and the sun, and then followed with each line and did the arrows last. It was easy to figure out the placement for the most central word and then look at how each word or object is placed in relation to that central word.
3. Sketch it out first. I do a very rough, very light-handed sketch of each word to make sure I like the placement and the size before coloring it in darker or finalizing it. Keep a wet rag on hand to wipe away sketch marks that don’t blend in or are outside the lines of your final word. This works especially well for cursive words because, for reals….my cursive ain’t pretty! Unless I go VERY slowly and sketch it first.
Have fun!!

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Gallery Wall

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You know the best way to wake up early on a Tuesday morning? To the sound of your dog getting sick. I mean, nothing gets you to jump out of bed and on your feet faster. And then try going back to sleep after that. Two things that I thought would be an issue having dogs with a baby or small child. 1) That the dogs would take or chew on the baby’s toys and 2) the dogs are going to get a little “thicker” when the baby starts eating solid food and can therefore feed the dogs 🙂
Until now, neither have been an issue. The other day, Landon was sitting on one of his little chairs that has toys attached to it, eating a teething biscuit. By the way, teething biscuits have to be one of THE messiest foods I’ve ever seen! Anyway, my mother-in-law was cleaning him up after he finished and Ella, sneakily and one by one, grabbed the toys which were now covered in biscuit crumbs. The toys were (<– notice how I said “were” not “are”) those round plastic rings, bright colored that stack on a cylinder and form a pyramid. Super flimsy and took no time at all for Ella to demolish while trying to eat every crumb she could find. I found the leftover plastic under our bed with some of the consumed plastic making it’s appearance this morning.
Welcome to our little slice of crazy town!

We have been so lucky to have some amazing photos taken over the last year and a half since finding out a little babe was on the way. Something I’ve been so bad about, in recent years, is displaying personal photos at home. This, to me, is such a down side to all the technology we use on a daily basis. Our photos are all contained on phones and computers and rarely make their way onto paper and into our homes. Why? One of my favorite things in other people’s homes is seeing all their personal photos, their family & friends, big events, love. I am resolving to have more photos printed and finish my home spaces with this personal décor detail.

I had this large wall space in our living room and went back and forth about what to put there. We did have a gallery wall in the house before, but it was all wedding photos and the location wasn’t a noticeable spot where people would stop to look at it. I asked Jeff if I should replace the current gallery wall or move it to the large wall in our living room. His response, “put it in the living room so we will actually see it everyday and enjoy it”. Yes! Too often, gallery walls are hidden on stairwells and in hallways where people don’t see them as often. Bring those photos to a prominent location!

I went with a grid style gallery wall, very uniform and pretty easy to put together. I have seen some gallery walls that are asymmetrical and I do love them, but I am just too “straight line, symmetrical, matchy-matchy” for that style. Maybe someday I’ll step outside my comfort zone, but until then, here are a few tips to help you create your own grid-style gallery wall…

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1. Determine the space and size of your gallery wall
Figure out where you are going to put your new gallery wall. Chances are, you already have a blank wall in your home that you struggle with filling or decorating. Next, think about how big you want the gallery to be. This will give you a measurement from top to bottom and side to side and help you know what size and how many frames you can fit in your space. For instance, my space was about 42″ x 51″. I had a pretty particular look I wanted, so I had already picked out the frames and therefore knew the exact measurements. I used an 11×14 frame that was matted for an 8×10 photo, plus the width of the actual frame, it left about 2″ between each photo if I did 3 across and 3 down. This part may take a little configuring, just be sure to measure the actual frame because depending on the thickness of the frame, it can add an additional 1-2″ to each photo.
2. Choose your frames
Here’s a tip if you want a uniform look, use a frame with matting. This will help separate the photos from each other as well as “tone down” the photo so that each picture isn’t competing with the one next to it. I was going for a black & white theme and found these frames for an amazing price at Michael’s. This frame is normally $23, but Michael’s regularly has sales on their frames and they usually do it by brand. These were 60% off last week!!! While they are no longer on sale, they do have a few other brands on sale right now. If you find one you like that is full price, it’s worth it to just keep checking back for sales.

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3. Choose your pictures & print
For the uniform grid look, you need to choose all vertical or all horizontal pics. I know I know, duh! But, I started picking out photos and then realized I was choosing both and had to go back and do it again! Another thing I did for uniformity was adjust the color of the photos before printing. The main reason I did this is because I used photos from all different photo shoots and 2 different photographers who have very different editing styles. Some of the photos were bright, vivid color and some were more muted. Plus, with different outfits and backdrops in each shoot, it just made for a lot of different looks going on. By adjusting the color, it helped make all the photos look more like they went together. I don’t have any fancy photo editing program, just the one that came loaded on my computer. All I did was edit the saturation of the photo to pull some of the color out. When I found a color level that I liked (I used -65 but it will probably be different on all computers/programs) I adjusted all the photos to the same level. Note: When you do this, make sure you “save a copy” of the photo, don’t save over the original, just in case you don’t like it, plus, you don’t want to loose the integrity of the original photo. Obviously this step isn’t necessary. I also did this because of the black & white look I was going for. I wanted to use my favorite photos but I didn’t want them completely black & white so this allowed me to get the look I was going for while still keeping a little color. As far as printing, if you are using professional photographs, chances are, your photographer will have a suggestion as to where to print them for the best quality. Our photographer uses Smugmug, but also suggests Shutterfly as a good place to print.
4. Hang your photos
I’ll be honest, I was not super technical with this part. I hung the center photo where I wanted the center of the gallery to be. For the photos directly above, below and beside the center photo, I just measured out the height or width of the frame, plus an additional 2″ for the space between each photo. Because I was just sort of winging it, I did have to make some adjustments. Just step back and check after you hang each photo because it may look even up close but once you step away you’ll be able to tell for sure. If you want to be more technical about it, you can pick up a laser lever at the hardware store. This one from Lowe’s is $20, attaches to the wall and will easily get the job done. If you are using a laser lever, your laser line is going to be where you hammer the nails into the wall so be sure to adjust down a bit from where you want the top of the frame to be.

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Now go get those photos printed and start enjoying them! 🙂

Inspired by…black & white

We are going on hour 12 of baby sleep! He woke up at 5:45 to eat, but other than that, has been out since 9pm last night 🙂 I’ve been doing a little trial and error as far as sleep routines go and we may have found a good balance yesterday. I’ll keep it going for a few days and report back if continues to be this successful.

I’ve been having trouble finding inspiration and getting projects done these days, mostly due to lack of time to just sit around surfing Pinterest or having an extended period of time to accomplish anything. I started my first building project since Landon was born about a week ago and, so far, I’ve only completed step 1. Insert face palm emoji here. I think I need to learn to let go a bit, especially the expectation of always having a clean house. I wake up when baby wakes up. Take a shower and get ready for the day during nap #1. Pick up the house, do dishes and laundry and check emails, Insta and Facebook during #2. Run errands during nap #3. By this time it’s usually 2 or 3pm and it leaves 1 or 2 more naps, one of which is usually spent getting dinner ready. This 12 hour sleeping situation could really help me out if I just stay awake after that 5 or 6am feeding, so, Landon…let’s keep this up…okay?

I am excited to share my first building project in a long time with you guys! I am building floating corner shelves in the nursery. They are actually pretty easy and are such a great way to fill space in a functional way in those awkward corners that you never know what to do with. Anyway, until then, I thought I’d hold you over with some inspiration. I’m loving the combination and contrast of black and white right now. I still LOVE all white neutrals but I really like to add black (especially wrought iron) or wood accents.

Enjoy!

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DIY Upcycled Frame

IMG_4730As I type this, I am watching Fixer Upper re-runs and the episode where Joanna created a wall sign with the saying “today is a good day for a good day” is on! It’s meant to be that I have this sign in my home and post it for you all.

I’ve had this frame in my garage for SO long! I got it about a year and a half ago and originally was going to turn it into a mirror, but kept putting off take it to a glass shop because of how huge and heavy it is. Then I saw a faux deer head in a frame backed by weathered wood at a vintage market and I got inspired. I thought about putting a faux deer head in the frame but my hubby nixed that idea…he’s not big on “dead animal décor”, even if it is pretty and fake. So much for that trend.

Supplies
5/8″ x 5 1/2″ x 5″ cedar flat-top boards
1″ panel nails
wood glue
paint of your choice

You could do this with any frame you have, big or small, with some paint and rough cedar.

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I started by taking the backing and picture out of the frame.

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I bought cedar flat-top fence pickets because they are cheap and have a rough grain for a good distressed look. I cut each board to fit just inside the frame and attached them with wood glue and 1″ panel nails.

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Once the boards were in place it was time to make the wood look weathered and to paint the frame…

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On the wood, I used Heirloom Traditions DIY chalk paint in Weathered Wood. I used a wet brush technique (dipped the paint brush into water, then into the paint) so that the paint went on very thin. Once the first coat was dry, I went over it with Dark Liquid Patina, which is a top coat/wax that adds a dark distress and brings out darkened highlights and accents in your wood. On the frame, I used A La Mode chalk paint and lightly brushed over the frame, avoiding pressing too hard to keep the paint from getting into the crevices. The frame and wood turned out EXACTLY how I wanted!! Final step was the print, I used A La Mode chalk paint and a small 1/2″ wide detail brush. I used a pencil to rough sketch the words and then went over it with paint a couple times. You could also use a stencil if that’s easier.

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Inspired by…living rooms

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I’m getting close to finishing my foyer which means it’s almost time to start on the living room. To get prepared, I’m sharing some of my all time favorite living room photos for inspiration. I love a neutral color palette (although I am loving the blue & white theme that is trending right now) with a rustic glam theme. Enjoy!

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