Monday, December 8, 2014

Simple Christmas Pillows

Just in case you missed it, last week I made these simple Christmas pillows for Make It and Love It.

These pillows will take you no time at all to whip up and will definitely add some Christmas cheer to your favorite couch, chair, or bed.

In fact, I'll bet you could get both of these pillows done while watching your favorite Christmas movie!

So head on over and check out the tutorial HERE.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Birch Family School Room Part 1

Welcome to the Birch Family School Room!

This little room has been a labor of love as I've strived to make it a place of peace, learning, and function. It's been a challenge to use every square inch of this space wisely so as to have a functional room that is free of clutter.  For our school room I decided to go with a vintage/farmhouse look and I'm kind of excited at how it turned out.

 Every morning we start the day with the Pledge of Allegiance.  I love this little IKEA guy and he sits on the most adorable 109 year old American School Dictionary that I snagged at a thrift store.

I tried to divide the room up into two different learning spaces: one for my school aged boys and one for my preschooler and toddler.  In the far corner of the room is a little table that my 2 year old and 4 year old work at.  They each have bins that I put different activities in (such as puzzles, books, coloring pages, alphabet workbooks, and crafts) and they bring their bins to their table to work on. I have been amazed at how well they will sit in the corner and work away!

It may have something to do with these adorable vintage school chairs! They love to sit in chairs that are just their size.  These were also purchased from a thrift store with the intent of being fixed up, but I just don't have the heart to repaint them.  I think they have so much character and charm just as they are!

Next up is my orchard crate bookshelf.  I found these crates on an online Yard Sale Facebook page for $8 each and knew I had to have them. Hubby nailed them all together then screwed them to the wall.  They work perfect to store our books.

And the top is a fabulous place to keep some of our other school supplies such as our globe, dictionary, Judy clock, United States Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

 We have another book storage area made from IKEA spice racks.  These hold mainly the board books.

This area also doubles as my teaching area as it is where the white board is located.

Each week we memorize a new scripture verse and this area worked great to hang our Scripture chalkboard. (This scripture is from The Pearl of Great Price in Latter-Day Saint scripture.)

See that dent in the wall up there? That's from little boys running into the room and swinging the door open...and it is why our class garbage can recently moved to this area. Hopefully the hole won't be growing any bigger because the garbage can makes a great doorstop.

Next up is the "big boy" learning area.

We made two of my Farmhouse Modern desks and set them up face to face. The reason for this was so that the boys wouldn't be facing the wall all day and when the desks are pushed together it allows for a nice big work space. The desks are plenty big so the boys can't touch (and kick, ha!) each other. Here is another view of the desk. 

I'm really in love with the legs on this desk.  The tutorial can be found over on MakeIt and Love It.

I knew I wanted to pair a modern looking chair with these desks and I found these cute chair tops at IKEA.  The only problem was (1) that the bottom was a swivel chair and (2) they were sold out of the bottoms anyway.  Having full confidence in my husband's ability to make anything work (seriously, the man has some mad visual spacial problem solving skills!), I bought a different chair bottom that I thought would work. He may have been slightly frustrated at my purchase, but just as I had full confidence that he would...he figured out how to make it work with an extra piece of wood and some long carriage bolts.

On top of the desk sits our Kleenexes (a classroom necessity!) and our school pet, Rivers, the fiddler crab.

On the wall is our classroom clock and it has come in quite handy in teaching my 1st Grader how to tell time.

 The wall is also full of inspirational quotes and our chalkboard.

This chalkboard was made from a thrifted frame and a piece of masonite...and MANY coats of black chalkboard spray paint.  This chalkboard is multifunctional and sometimes it has an inspiring message and other times it has our goals or schedule for the week.

Behind the boys' desks is the bead board wall. At the top of the wall is a wire where we hang all our fun school projects.

The shelf sure has come in handy for storing our school supplies.  I like having them up out of the way, yet the boys are still able to see what's in the jars.

 Also on the shelf are our carved books spelling out JOY.  Its an acronym we use to remind the boys to put others first (Jesus first, Others second, You last).

I hope you enjoyed Part One of the Homeschool Room tour! I know, after all of this what else could there possibly be to show you? Well, I have a whole closet full of workboxes and curriculum that are in the process of being organized, and when that's done I'll be back to show you!

Monday, September 22, 2014

How Paint Furniture With Chalk Paint

I've heard so much lately about chalk paint and how wonderful it is. I must admit, the "I like projects to be fast" part of me was thrilled with the idea of NO sanding and priming. I've finished a few pieces of furniture before like my hutch and desk and I hated the time it took to sand, prime, paint, sand, and paint some more. I am happy to say that I am totally converted to the convenience of chalk paint!

I came across this nice little file cabinet at a local thrift store.  After ditching our giant desk, I was still in need of some extra space for some files and I knew that with a coat of paint that this cabinet would be perfect.   My mother-in-law has recently painted her bathroom cupboards in chalk paint, and after seeing the results, I knew I wanted to try it.  So I picked up some Americana Chalk Paint (color is Vintage), some wax, and a new roller.

The first step is the same as it is with any other furniture refinishing project: remove the hardware and give the piece of furniture a good scrub down. I'm always amazed at how dirty furniture actually is!

 Now this is the fun part...start painting! Seriously. No sanding! No stripping! No priming! Just open that chalk paint (give it a good shake up first) and start painting.  You can use either a roller or paint brush with chalk paint.  I used a roller for the bigger areas and then came back in with my brush for the more detailed areas.  The nice thing about chalk paint is that the paint brush strokes will flatten as it dries so you don't need to worry about sanding the paint to get rid of those brush marks. I gave my file cabinet two coats of paint because I wanted it completely covered, but most of the time one good coat of chalk paint should be enough to cover your project.

Now let your project dry while you go grab new hardware or paint the old hardware.  You can even use chalk paint to paint your hardware too! I, however, used black spray paint so it would match my desk

If you would like to, now is the time to distress your piece of furniture.  I'm not really in to distressed furniture so I didn't distress this piece.  If you would like to distress your piece just take some sandpaper and scuff it on the edges and areas that would have naturally been worn down.

Now that your piece of furniture is dry, you can pull out your wax.  There are two types of wax: clear and dark. Clear wax is used to seal the chalk paint and gives it a slightly darker and glossier appearance.  It will help to protect your piece so it doesn't chip. Dark wax is used to give the piece a more worn and aged look and it is suggested that you put it on over the top of clear wax so you don't ruin your paint color.

There are specialized wax brushes out there that are more of a round brush.  I have heard these work fabulously, but I just used one of my old paint brushes and it worked great for me.

Start by taking some wax out of the jar (a plastic spoon or paint stirring stick works great for this) and put it on a paper plate or piece of cardboard.  Dip your brush into the wax, covering only the tips of the brush, and then apply it to the furniture.  Only wax a small area of your piece.

Then take a color free rag and rub the wax in using a circular motion.  This helps to remove any excess (like you can see in the above picture) and helps to work the wax into the paint.  You will continue to wax small areas then rub it in until the whole piece of furniture is waxed.  Let it sit for awhile to dry.

Wax is a fabulous way to seal furniture. It doesn't have the odor of other finishing products like polyurethane and it is so easy to use.  I even used wax on my Farmhouse Modern Desk that I made for Make It and Love It and it gave the top of the desk a beautiful slightly glossy finish.

 After completing the waxing step, you can add your hardware back to the piece and it is finished! (And probably done in less than half of the time that it would have taken to finish it with other paints.)  This project only took me a few hours and I am so happy with the result.

I'm looking forward to refinishing some more furniture soon and will definitely be using chalk paint from now on!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How to Paint an Orange Peel Pattern

I know this tutorial has been long awaited by some of you, especially those of you who've seen my wall on Instagram or on my Faux Mantle post. This tutorial was almost as laborious to write as it was to paint this wall! I have to give a big shout out to my wonderful husband for his help on this project...he's the best! So, without further ado, here it is.

For the longest time I have wanted to do a stenciled wall in my house, but haven't wanted to fork over $50-$60 for a stencil. That's when I came up with the idea for this Orange Peel pattern wall. It adds the perfect amount of pattern to your room.

It will definitely make that feature wall pop.

The good news is that you can do it with something we all have in our house…a dinner plate! Are you ready to paint your own Orange Peel Wall? For this project you will need:
  • dinner plate
  • cardboard 
  •  tape
  • level
  • pencil
  • small paint brush
  • paint
  • 90 degree triangle
  • straight edge (I used a ruler)
  • lots of patience!
To start out, you will need to prep your wall.  This will either mean giving it a good scrub down or a fresh coat of paint. I gave my wall a new coat of white paint to make sure it looked clean and crisp. You will need to tape off the ceiling, side walls, and baseboard.

Next you will need to grab a large dinner plate (mine measured 10 1/4 inches across...yours may vary). Take the dinner plate and place a piece of tape anywhere on its edge. Next, mark one edge of the tape with a pen and measure from this mark across the plate.  You may need to move the tape measure around until you find the farthest away point on the opposite side of the plate. Place the edge of a second piece of tape on this mark.  Next, grab your straight edge.  On your straight edge, mark your plate's diameter and the mid-point of the diameter.

Place the plate on a solid surface and line the marks on the straight edge up with the pieces of tape on your plate. Now take your 90 degree triangle and hold it against the straight edge on the plate so its 90 degree side lines up with your midpoint on the straight edge.  Mark the plate where the triangle crosses its edge.

Add a third piece of tape at this point.  Repeat on the other side of the plate until you have four pieces of tape on your plate equidistant from each other.  These marks will come in super handy as you try to keep your pattern lined up.

You will also need to take your plate and trace it onto cardboard.  This will serve as a template you can cut down so you can start and finish your pattern against walls. Depending on your wall's dimensions you may need to cut down your template to different sizes...which means you may need more than one template.

We are going to trace our pattern bottom up and starting against a wall. To start out, you will need to use a half circle against the wall, and you will get this half circle by cutting the cardboard circle in two. Starting at the bottom, and against one side of the wall, trace half circles all the way up to the ceiling.  Come back down to the bottom of the wall, and using your level, mark a point one diameter's width out from the intersection of the two half circles. This will make sure your pattern stays level as you move across the wall. Line the tape marks on your plate up with the intersection of the two half circles and the new point you have marked and trace the plate.

 You will continue this pattern bottom up until your wall looks like this.

Next comes painting.  You will paint everywhere your circles overlap.

I used a semi-gloss paint to make my pattern pop against the satin sheen background paint. The painting takes a long time, but I definitely think that the end result is worth all the hard work.

Oh, and excuse the missing trim and gaping hole...I'll be back soon with a tutorial on how to make your own custom air intake grates!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Not So Back To School

So I guess its time we made it official: this year we are homeschooling. I know that there are so many opinions out there about schooling: how, where, and why you should do it. Believe me, I'm pretty sure I've heard it all from "your kids will be socially awkward if you homeschool" (ahem, there are socially awkward kids in public school but you don't usually blame it on the school, right?) to "I couldn't possibly do that! I need a break from my kids!" (I get it, as moms we all need breaks. Personally, my mommy heart always broke a little sending my kids off so someone else could enjoy them during the best hours of the day). In the end I think education is such an individualized thing and there is no "right" way to do it.  You have to do what is best for your family and your circumstances.

As someone who has a degree in education I totally understand the importance of public schools, they are absolutely essential.  My boys have gone to public school and loved it. Since my oldest started school a few years ago there has been something in the back of my mind telling me that there might be a different way for my kids to get their education.  I've looked into doctoral dissertations, blogs, and books on it...and yet each year I've still chosen to send my kids to school. This year that something in the back of my mind wouldn't go away and I knew that we needed to homeschool. Its been exciting, stressful, and overwhelming to say the least.  Picking out curriculum, turning a room in our house into a school room, and printing, printing, printing out packets. I'm tired, yet thrilled.

A "before" shot of our future school room.

Next week we will officially start school.  I've been scouring online for some sort of school theme for us this year.  I've read quotes from religious leaders, famous scholars, and world leaders. Nothing has stuck out to me... until I was listening to the radio with my boys the other day.  A song came on from one of our favorite bands.  It was a song my boys love.  As they sang along to the words, it just felt right. It also felt nerdy and uneducated to pick a homeschool theme from a rock song, but in the end it described exactly what this first year of homeschool is for us.

We are walking away from the world this year.  We are leaving the culture of school behind.  It's been hard, and I mean really hard.  Last week all of our neighbor kids went back to school and a part of me ached that my kids were missing out on all the "Back to School" fun...and a part of me really wanted to run over to the school and re-enroll them.  I had to pull myself together and remind myself of why I was doing this: to be a better kind.  Sometimes in life its hard to step away from the norm.  Its hard to break from culture.  The road less travelled by is definitely harder, but I'm hoping it will be worth it in the end.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Utah Valley Parade of Homes Round Up: What's trending in 2014

Whew! The last few weeks have been both exciting and tiring as I've tried to visit most of the homes in the Utah Valley Parade of Homes. If you know me, you'll know that I'm crazy about good design and home decor so getting to tour newly constructed homes was like a dream come true.  And I got to do it all with this girl.

About a year ago she built a house down the road from me, and after my hubby and I walked through their house (ahem, yes, while it was being built, I guess we're trespassers?) I told him that she had pretty much done everything in the house that I would have done and I needed to get to know this girl.  We soon found out we'd gone to the same University at the same time, and our majors were even in the same building, on the same floor! Yet our paths never crossed until now. It was so fun to go on this tour with someone who is as passionate about good design as I am.

I loved seeing all of the things that are trending for 2014.  So here is my rundown (of what stood out to me!) of must haves if you are building or wanting to update your home decor.

(Lots of iPhoneography ahead…I was too lazy to take my nice camera.)

Barn Doors: When my husband tore apart our bathroom three months ago to remodel, I knew that I wanted to replace our two doors with one sliding barn door.  I had NO idea how popular barn doors were until the parade of homes.  I think that there was one in almost every house we visited.

Wallpaper: I have to admit, that when I first heard wallpaper was making a comeback, I was less than thrilled at the idea.  I had visions of early 90's floral prints and wondered how this could be trending again.  However, this home tour completely changed my mind.  Wall paper can be done in a classy way.

 Orb Lights: I didn't get too many pictures of these, but they were in every house we saw.  Considering that these are pretty costly little lights, I'm thinking of making my own.  It can't be that hard, right?

Feature Walls: From grid, to chalkboard, to corrugated metal, it's time to dress up those plain walls with architectural features.

Blue Cupboards: Obviously I'm a huge fan of the color blue, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that blue cupboards in bathrooms and laundry rooms were really trending.  From Mint to Robin Egg Blue, these hughes brought a crisp coolness to each room and added the right pop of color.

Tile: Obviously tile is always in style, but this year I noticed lots of Moroccan tile.

Here are some more unique tiles that I loved.

And last of all here are some of my favorites. There's a lot.  I had a hard time choosing!

Favorite Landscapes:

This house, by far, was very impressive (16,000 sq ft) but the landscape is what really drew me in. Every detail was precise and immaculate. It even impressed my landscape designer husband (who I made come with me one night so I could show him my favorite houses). He is rarely impressed by local landscape companies, but this one got an "OK" out of him.  I take that as a success. He's crazy picky about landscapes.

I also loved this entryway, although it fell flat for my husband.

Favorite Bathrooms:

Favorite Spaces:

I hope you enjoyed this picture tour as much as I enjoyed the real one! Are you ready to update your home with a new barn door or orb light?

I am.