Monthly Archives: June 2012

In the Dining Room, With the Candlestick


Eighteen months after living in the house, we finally got around to buying a dining room table (another CraigsList find, by the way).  We felt accomplished having finally filled the room with something besides the constantly growing tumbleweed of cat fur (seriously, how does something so small generate so much fur?!).  Well, then the table sat empty, void of any decor, for another four months.  Then came the saddest looking three, black candlesticks you’ve ever seen.  Leaving the table empty was probably a better looking option, honestly.  I decided what the three candles needed were more friends and possibly a little spray paint to add some interest to their dull, black look.

Knowing I was going to spray everything anyway, I began the hunt for interesting shaped candlesticks, not caring what the color was.  So, of course that led to picking out some of the ugliest candlesticks known to mankind.

Well, maybe second to these… honey, you’re going to regret this decision someday.

Aaaand now for the runner-up…

Look at those things.  They look like they belong in some tacky, safari party.

Quick, get me my spray paint.  Of course we used our go-to color, Rust-o-leum Heirloom White.

First coat (and I actually helped this time… before you argue, Chris, I’m not yet claiming to have sprayed it 100%).

Ah, much better.

Then we flipped them over to do the second coat.

So, we may have skipped the priming step, which turned out to be a mistake.  The spray paint had a hard time sticking to some of the glossier candlesticks and ended up dripping a little.  Not a huge deal.  We just sanded out the drips with a sanding block and went on with the next round of coats.

We finished with one final third coat and voilah, no more weird-tribal candlesticks.

I decided the candlesticks looked too plain and “new” and by now, I’m sure you’ve figured out the new, fresh out of the box look doesn’t really match the rest of our decor.  These babies needed a little distressing!  You know I always love a good reason to bust out my sander.  After a few minutes of distressing all the edges and detailed trim, the project was complete.

Now…. if we could just fill up those empty walls…


This may surprise some of you, but most of the projects we do together aren’t by choice. Usually, Julie announces she doesn’t need my help, which is really just a tact to get me to let her buy something we don’t need. “Don’t worry, I can do this myself!” she always says. The majority of the time, though, she gets part of the way into something and then comes running to me because it’s “not working” or something to that effect. This is one of those times.

We bought our dining room table in the fall, so it was initially decorated with some really cool Halloween stuff, which I wanted to leave out all year (Julie never lets me get my way). Eventually, we had to find a permanent solution. Julie found some candlesticks from… wherever… and I assumed we now had table decorations. I was wrong.

This table is something we have literally used twice, so I can say with confidence that it’s something I had little (read: no) interest in. Be that as it may, I was ultimately dragged to Garden Ridge in search of more candlesticks. Shopping with Julie is something that can really only be described as an undertaking, but I eventually got her out of the store with most of my savings intact. Once we got home, though, I realized the real fun was about to begin as Julie said the six words I fear most: “We need to spray paint these.”

Within five minutes of setting up, something went wrong and Julie came running for help. It turns out that the paint cans were putting out a dark, uneven, and textured spray pattern. I cleaned the nozzle and shook the cans a little longer and all seemed well until, of course, the paint started running. For something so small, these candlesticks were really getting on my nerves. Finally, over the course of several days and several coats, we managed to get an even coat to stick… which, of course, Julie then wanted to sand off (“distressing”, she calls it).

I’m just ready for Halloween again.


P.S. Did you spot our little ball of fur?  Hint: it’s not Colonel Mustard.



Filed under Dining Room, Easy DIY Projects

Our Treasure(d) Map


Our living room is MA-SSIVE.  Seriously, we have way more room than we know what to do with, which in turn creates way more walls than we know how to decorate.   Ah, yes, here’s one of our big, sad walls.

We’ve hung up photos, art, even a giant key (more on that here).  Needless to say, I’ve been running out of ideas for something new, clever, and most importantly, things that take up a lot of wall space.

Maps have been on my mind lately and I wondered if there was a different way of displaying them.  I found these inspiration photos and knew I was on the right track:

Source: Little Birdie Secrets

Source: Desire to Inspire

Source: DecorPad

Source: Pinterest

I had the idea, now all I needed was an awesome map.  I remembered back to a little shop my Mom and I had once visited.  In the veeeery back of the store was a box full of reproduced vintage maps of Texas cities.  At the time, I thought they were interesting but hadn’t yet been inspired to grace my walls with unique maps so, sadly, the map went another day without a happy home.  Little did it know that I’d be sending my Mom back a few months later to grab him up.

I decided to go with this map of Dallas and its “suburbs” from 1891.  This map is hysterical!  Every suburb it lists is now in the heart of the city, a solid 10-15 miles from current Dallas suburbs.  Oh, little did they know…

At the bottom of the map various population characteristics of Dallas from the 1890s were listed such as this gem: “the population is predicted to be 20 million in the year 1991,” a far cry from the 1.2 million who currently reside there.

Much like my inspiration photos, I decided to cut the map up into several slices, creating a more interesting image and taking up more room on the wall.

Before I made the final decision to cut up the map, I decided to use magazine pages to create a template and temporarily tape it to the wall to determine the spacing between each section and its exact placement on the wall.

While Chris thought I had lost my mind when I posed the idea of taping magazine pages to our wall, this was just the thing I needed to solidify my decision.

Would you be shocked if I said our wall stayed like this for a full 7 days before coming down?  You never know what you’re going to find at our house…

Originally, I thought about framing the cut versions much like the DecorPad inspiration photo but I didn’t like the look of the black frames between each of the sections.  It looked too choppy and broke-up the overall look of the map.  I made up my mind to go the canvas route instead.  It would add depth to the map and provide clean lines between each of the sections.  It would also be easy and inexpensive to do.

I purchased six 8″ x 10″ canvases from Michael’s which came in 2 packs for $4 each.

I laid the canvases out on top of the map and it was a perfect fit if we cut off the population statistics at the bottom, leaving just the map.

I then cut the map into six equal sections, centered on the six canvases.

A little measurement was needed… thus Chris was called in (if a project calls for calculations, it only takes me a minute or two to throw in the towel).

Cut, cut, cut.

And then it was pretty much in Chris’ hands.


One of the most prominent features in this house is the living room- it’s bigger than our first apartment (let’s pretend that’s because we have a huge living room and not because we had a tiny apartment). It’s also what the house is really built around, as everything else is basically just there out of necessity. It was also custom built in the late 70s, right around the time the “open concept” trend started to take form but hadn’t been refined to the point of the seemingly supportless structures of today’s modern home: it’s large and open, but also closed off from the rest of the house… hence, lot’s of wall space.

Julie has pledged to leave no wall uncovered, so I was now tasked with cutting up a map, gluing it to six canvases, and nailing it to the wall. Wait… what?

I’ve learned not to ask questions, so I just went to work. I had six pieces of a map (none of which led to any treasure) and six canvases, and had to make them be one. Without any wrinkles.

As usual, I turned to cars for a solution: automotive headliners are usually glued in with a special spray adhesive, which is actually what gives it that “new car smell” (I bet you’ll be the only one of your friends that knows that now, too). Automotive-grade sprays are expensive, thick, really sticky, and get you slightly high, so I opted for a less intense form from the hobby store:

First, I sprayed the canvas. I wanted the adhesive to soak into the cloth before applying the map so it was less likely to bleed through. It needs a nice, thick, even coat in order to adhere properly.

Next, I laid the map over the canvas.

Carefully smooth everything down. Make sure you don’t have sticky fingers (literally) that can tear and smear the map.

Roll the edges. Daintily.

Fold the remaining edges over the ends and staple them down. Ca-chunk!




I’ve been debating whether or not to find a white vintage frame to hang around the whole piece to give it more of a presence on the wall.  What do you think?  Framed or unframed?


Filed under Living Room

We’ve Been Framed!


I’ve been wanting to add something to the blank wall in our bedroom to add some interest to that side.  I was stuck on what to do though.  We already had an iron piece above the bed (more on that here) and a mirror on the wall opposite to the bed (seen here) so I needed something different.  I settled on creating a gallery wall after finding these inspiration pictures on Pinterest.

Source: 4 Men 1 Lady

Source: Better Home and Gardens

Source: Pinterest, Two Twenty-One

It would add personality to our room through personal photos and art while also taking up a decent amount of room (did I mention it’s a BIG blank wall?).

First up was finding the floating shelves.  The shelves in my inspiration pictures were simple white shelves but I wanted something chunkier and a little more decorative.  I struck out at the first few stores (Target- not long enough and a little on the expensive side at $25 each compared to others I’ve seen, Michael’s- no decorative options) but finally lucked out at Christmas Tree Shops where I found not only the perfect shelves but the perfect price- $9.99 each.  DONE.

Knowing I needed quite a few frames, I next ventured to IKEA to pick up some RIBBA frames.  These frames are great- they’re simple black frames that come with white mats already in them.  Now the question was how to lay all this out.  I carved out a section in the IKEA frame area and got to work building a few different options to decide what size frames to take home.


After the fourth dirty look from a fellow shopper trying to reach a frame in my construction zone, I reached my final decision.  I would put four frames on each shelf.  Here’s the breakdown of what I bought:

1 RIBBA 8″ x 10″ black photo frame: $9.99

1 RIBBA 20″ x 9″ (fits three 5″ x 7″) black photo frame: $9.99

1 RIBBA 4″ x 4″ black photo frame: $9.99

1 RIBBA 4″ x6″ black photo frame: $2.99 (I can’t find it on the site but I promise it exists)

2 RIBBA 5″ x 7″ black photo frames: $2.99

1 10″ x 14″ black photo frame from Michael’s: $5.99 (IKEA didn’t have this size in the RIBBA so I found a similar one at Michael’s that would fit an odd-sized piece of art I had)

Now it came down to what I should use to fill the frames.  I had 10 spaces to fill which, at first, seemed exciting but turned out to be an arduous task of finding that many items that a) correlated with each other and b) fit the correct frame size.

Well, after several weeks of frames scattered all over our floor and searching through old photos and Etsy for art at every possible chance, the long journey has ended.  Here’s how I managed to fill all the frames:

Top row, from the left:

1) 4×6: One of my bridal shots

2) 10×14: A painting of a girl with a red umbrella strolling through an alley that I picked up in Prague, Czech Republic

3) 8×10: A typography piece I created using an ee cummings quote.

4) 5×7: A shot from Chris and I’s wedding

Bottom row, from the left:

5) 4×4: A photo of Chris and I from our first high school dance together (seems so long ago!)

6) 8×10: A black and white print of a floral arrangement that I picked up from IKEA for a whopping 99 cents.

7) 20×9: 2 photos- one of our Christmas card photo from this year and one from last and 1 typography print that I created which says “I’ve loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night,” a quote from Galileo Galilei (I needed something nerdy to represent Chris).

8) 5×7: Of course our room needed a little more Texas in it so I found this cute print from 1canoe2 Letterpress on Etsy for $18.

For those of you interested in the typography pieces I created, you’re in luck.  I’m giving them both away in free printables!  Happy birthday to you.

Galileo quote: download here

ee cummings quote: download here

Happy framing!


For those of you at home wondering how much of what we say is true, I’ll answer your question: yes, Julie really does lay out frames in the middle of the store, regardless of how many “slip and fall” hazards she’s created.

I’ve built a lot of shelves, but they’ve almost always had some sort of support extending to the ground. This time was a little different, though. Julie wanted floating shelves, which meant I’d have to mount them to the frame of the house. It wouldn’t have been a big deal except that it took me two days to explain to Julie that they could only be moved up and down, not left or right.

Here’s a DIY tip for you: when trying to determine the location of the studs in your house, start with an electrical outlet. The outlet box is always going to be mounted to a stud, and almost always on the left side. So, chances are that to the right of your outlet is going to be a wood stud. Studs are most commonly placed 16″ apart (sometimes 12″ or 24″, though), so just get a tape measure and you should find a new stud every 16″!

Anyway, after finally convincing Julie of the necessary placement, I ran a 2.25″ drywall screw into the stud and measured out the distance I’d need to mount the second screw, using a level to ensure they were at the same height. Since the mounting points for the shelves were 20″ apart, it would technically be unsupported on one side, so I used a drywall anchor to retain a little stability. After making a few height decisions, I mounted the second shelf as offset as possible while still mounting to the stud on one side.

After the shelves were mounted, we laid out the frames. The shelves are somewhat narrow, so getting the thick frames to lean at the proper angle was a bit time consuming. We finally got everything set up just the way we liked it and went to bed. Unfortunately, around 2 AM, we awoke to the sound of the biggest frame taking a nose dive off the shelf and splitting itself in two. Somehow the glass stayed intact, but I had to glue the frame back together. Clearly, a solution needed to be found.

Julie hates it when I rummage through my “car stuff” cabinet in search of anything that will end up inside the house, but I knew I had the solution: double-sided foam tape.

It’s made for vehicle trim pieces but I’m convinced it would hold your car to the ceiling if you wanted it to… so I knew it would work on some picture frames. I cut some small pieces and placed them strategically around the frames to hold them to the shelves, the wall, and each other.

It may be overkill, but we’ll probably have to cut a section of the wall out if we ever want to take them down.

As for the pictures in the frames, we’re admittedly vain and thoroughly enjoy looking at ourselves, and we just couldn’t resist adding some Texas into another room.

The results.


Filed under Master Bedroom