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Posted on: July 21st, 2015 by Darla | No Comments

Easy. DIY. Style. Most people want it all. If this describes you, you are going to love this Easy DIY Framed Art project that Behr paints shared with us at Haven Conference 2015. The best part is that you already have all you need to do this at home.

There was a lot going on at Haven, and tons of tools and tips that I’ll share with you over the coming weeks, but honestly, this little project took no time at all, which was good, because I had places to go and friends to meet!

Easy DIY Framed Art title

Supplies for Easy DIY Framed Art project:

  • Picture frame with glass (Frames that are headed to or just came from the thrift shop are great for this project.)
  • Fine tip artist brush
  • Paint (Be sure to use a high quality leftover paint, preferably one with a primer, or get a sample pot of Behr Marquee at thr Home Depot.)
  • A design outline. We used an animal silhouette. You could use a college logo or a picture from a magazine.
  • Background matting, such as fabric scraps, scrapbook paper, wallpaper scrap, pretty napkin, or shelf paper/contact paper square like we used.

Step 1
Lay the paper outline under the glass and paint over the outline, directly on the glass, completely covering the silhouette design. Let the paint dry.

Easy DIY Framed Art painted silhouette

Step 2
Cut your background material to the size of the glass.

Easy DIY Framed Art pinted

Step 3
Reassemble the frame, laying the pretty backing on the frame backing, then the glass. You might want to turn the glass with the painted side in, but you don’t have to.

Easy DIY Framed Art  reassembled

That’s it! You can put old frames to use with this simple project, and add high impact, personalized design to your space in about 15 minutes. This works with any size frame. Just select the size of your silhouette/outline for the size of the frame.

If this is too easy for you, you could always rescue an old frame by spraying or brushing it with a new coat of paint. This works wonders on even cheap, plastic frames, if you use a good quality paint.

Unfortunately for me, the glass on this little project didn’t make it home in one piece, so I get to make this again. Ah, well, just one more way I get to relive those Haven memories.

Posted on: July 12th, 2015 by Darla | 12 Comments

It’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post, I almost don’t know how to begin. 😉  But I figured a few of my friends, including those that I’m going to see again at Haven Conference this week, might want to see a recent design project using Tuscan Tile stencils on stair risers.

Tuscan tile stencil design on stairs title

The clients had just finished building out their basement, and didn’t fancy either the cost or upkeep of carpeting the stairs. Knowing their elegant upscale style, I suggested this Tuscan Tile pattern from Royal Design Studio Stencils. Do you really want to see how rough these really were when we started? Pretty rough.

unfinished stairs ready for Tuscan Tile stencil

We had the contractor complete his part of the job with a brown porch and floor paint from the Home Depot.

painted stairs waiting for Tuscan Tile stencil design

Now comes the pretty part. We used the Sherwin Williams Commodore (SW6524) blue paint in flat that was used elsewhere in the rooms for the darker blue, and I layered that with a shimmery Metallic Teal stencil cream from Royal Designs Studios for the two-tone stencil.

paints used for stencil stair design

Here is the finished stair riser stencil project.

Do you notice the soft, sweet little shimmer?

after- Tuscan Tile stencil design from Royal Design Studios

You’ll notice one thing right away, that we didn’t paint the risers (that’s the part of the steps that are vertical) white. You’ll see dark treads and white risers in a lot of designs, but I find that is very impractical because the stairs are nearly impossible to keep clean. Since this is the basement level, and not the main part of the house, we opted for easy maintenance, and just added the pizzazz with the stencil. I’m confident we made the right choice.

In case you want to follow along, here are the basic steps of the stair riser stencil project.

1. Prep the wooden steps with a good quality porch and floor paint.

2. Tape up your stencils in a row. I wish this stencil came as a row, but it only came as individuals, so there was a lot of taping!

Tuscan tile stencil on stairs

3. Paint the first color in the design you’ve chosen. I used a foam roller to paint the entire design on the entire riser from left to right. Be sure to offload the roller each time before applying the paint. This step is very important to get a nice, crisp application. I found that the latex as the first layer was a very good base for the shimmer paint. Wait just a few minutes for this layer to dry. It’s a very thin layer, so it dries quickly.

first paint layer on stair stencils

4. Use a stencil brush (these have a flat brush head) to tamp in the second color in alternating patterns. Be sure to offload the brush onto a paper towel each time. You honestly use miniscule amounts of stencil creme. I didn’t even use half of one jar!

second layer of paint on stair stencils

5. Remove the stencil, and use a fine point artist brush to go back over each color separately and make the design as sharp as possible.

6. Repeat on each riser. Work from the top of the stairs down to the bottom so you aren’t climbing over the wet stuff.

7. When finished, protect your design with one or two layers of matte water-based polyurethane. This doesn’t change the color or sheen at all, but will protect your design from dents and dings for longer. I had a hard time deciding which one to use, but I was super happy with Minwax Satin Polycrylic (water based)
Protective Finish in Clear Satin. Again, I only used half of a 1/2 pt can for all fourteen risers.

Tusscan Tile design on stairs by Royal Design Studio


Working with stencils can be time consuming, and it’s definitely all about the details, but one of the things I like best is the fact that you can customize your project as much as you’d like. As a surprise to these homeowners, I stenciled a drum lampshade in the same design for them. You can see other lampshade stencil projects I did here.


Tuscan Tile design from Royal design studios on a lamp shade

I will not lie, this projects took hours. And hours. But it was so worth it. Every time I visit, they tell me how they love it more and more each day, and how many of their neighbors absolutely love the stencil designs.

Help me out here. It can be hard to keep writing these articles in summer, not knowing if anyone is reading or inspired by them.

Have you done something amazing to your stairs?

Are you inspired by these modern stencils?

Please comment below! Thanks.


Posted on: June 23rd, 2015 by Darla | No Comments

No matter how much painting you have or haven’t done, it’s always good to pay attention to details. Here are five details to keep in mind.

5 furniture painting tips

Furniture Painting Tips: Beware of drips.

Whether you are painting with a brush or spray, drips are the enemy. If you are working with spray paint, use a light touch and several light coats. If you find drips, sand them out and add another coat. With brushed paint, you’ll often find more paint than you need collected at the corners and edges. Try to find it before it starts to dry, and just brush away the excess with a nearly dry paint brush. Once it dries, you’ll have to sand and paint, but it’s very hard to get it right. Be sure to walk all the way around your piece just after you paint it, and look at it from all angles to catch those drips.

5 furniture painting tips drops

Furniture Painting Tips: Use long, end to end strokes.

Here, you can see the top that was covered with short strokes. This might be ok for a first coat, depending on the finish you are working with, but try to get each coat as smooth as possible using long, end to end strokes that cover the length of whatever you are working on. This means getting the feel for how much paint is loaded on your brush, so that it covers in one pass. It’s just like Goldilocks: not too much and not too little. If this seems hard, then get the entire surface covered with paint, and give it one complete end-to-end pass of the brush while it is still wet. You’ll still see light brush strokes in most paint, but you don’t want to see where it starts and ends.5 furniture painting tips brush marks

Furniture Painting Tips: Pay attention to the ends.

If you’ve followed the step above, two sides of any rectangle will be easy because they are going with the direction of your brush. The other two ends, or in the case the ends where you start and finish your stroke, are harder to get just right. You want to be sure not to end up with a bead of paint on the sides. Go over this a couple of times. Feather in the ends, checking one last time for drips that you might not immediately see.

5 furniture painting tips smooth edges

Furniture Painting Tips: Did you mean to make those stripes (and globs)?

If you are in a hurry, or if you are new to painting furniture, it’s easy to end up with extra stripes of paint on your furniture. This happens usually because you load too much paint on your brush, and it falls off onto the furniture, and dries quickly. Be careful to lightly wipe your brush against the inside of the paint can to unload some of the paint on your brush. “Unloading” the brush isn’t  an extra step; it’s part of the process.It takes a while to get the right feel for how much paint is just right on the brush, and how much paint causes sloppy marks and drips. Less is more to start with.

5 furniture painting tips stripes and globs

Furniture Painting Tips: Kamikaze bugs.

This last one is a toughie. I don’t have a studio, so I’m usually working on my projects in my yard in good weather or in my garage. Outside, the trees and pollen will land on a half-dry project, becoming an unintended part of the design. Inside the garage, the bugs will swing by and get stuck. I honestly don’t have an answer for this one, except to be vigilant in protecting the work area and pulling out the offenders as soon as possible. The best solution would be to have a work area with a slow-moving overhead fan, which discourages bugs. But, this is real life people. If you do have a critter in the mix, try to pull him out asap, and touch up if needed. That’s the great thing about painted furniture. It isn’t factory perfect, so you can always touch it up, whether that is hours or months later.

5 furniture painting tips bugs

Painting furniture can be incredibly rewarding, but incredibly frustrating as well. Just take your time and remember that we all have to deal with these same issues. You’ll get better the more you do, and the more you practice your technique. In the end, you can consistently come up with beautiful results like this end table makeover.

Beautiful on the Inside (End Table Makeover)

Posted on: June 18th, 2015 by Darla | 6 Comments

I had the pleasure of finishing up this garage organizing project, and wanted to give you some inspiration.

super beautiful organized garage after (8)I am really not clever enough to have timed this post just before Father’s Day, but hey, if it gives you some ideas, even better.

The garage floor was sealed with one of the Rust-Oleum garage products.

A few red and white bins help contain the clutter and increase the cute factor.

organized garage after and sealed floor

You’ve seen me use this Organized Living system a million times. We left plenty of space on this rack to store the patio cushions during the winter. See through metal bins are perfect for storing- and seeing- sports equipment.

super beautiful organized garage after (8)

This is one of my favorite things. These grids are rock solid on the wall, secured at 6 points, while the hangers themselves are completely customizable for whatever gadgets and tools you need to store. Pretty cool.

garage after (5) for hanging tools

What else would you like to know about this gorgeous organized garage? Please leave a comment below.

Posted on: June 2nd, 2015 by Darla | 18 Comments

What could you do if you could be 80% efficient in your day instead of just 20%? We’re about to find out. Welcome to a new home office makeover in coral and blue.

Home Office Makeover in Coral and Blue

Wayfair is sponsoring this post that brings you a pop of color in coral and blue.

How can a home office makeover make a difference to a small business owner’s efficiency? When your office has become the family’s dumping space, and you are constantly shuttling between the kitchen table and the sofa, it can be hard to stay on top of all those little details that make a small business hum.

Please note: This office wasn’t messy. It was abandoned.

Abandoned spaces are magnets for clutter.

cluttered Home office desk

The homeowner didn’t feel at home in this space, and so she ended up working elsewhere, even though her business has grown in leaps and bounds over the recent years. She deserved an office, but this alcove off the master bedroom had become just a storage space.

cluttered small business home office

The built in desk was split in two parts, his and hers, and divided by a bracket and a file cabinet on the underside, so without structural changes, she could never really use all the space. And the other side of the room, even though the ceiling sloped, had tons of potential that wasn’t being lived up to.

home office needs decluttering

We’re not sure if the mustardy color was the biggest culprit, or the unframed doorway was causing it, but we agreed that the energy between the main bedroom and this office alcove was a vicious push/pull, and it wasn’t restful for the family or helpful for the business.

Even though it’s a small-ish space, this was a relatively large project because we:

  • Sorted and purged through all the papers
  • Set up a business filing system
  • Slimmed down the homeowner’s paper filing system
  • Eliminated unwanted electronics
  • Painted the walls and the file cabinets
  • Created an entirely new desk area for the business owner
  • Swapped in a new desk (repurposed from a bedroom) for the husband
  • Decorated
  • Created separation between the two spaces with a restful, heavy lined curtain.
  • Added color and scale on the small window with a new custom valence.

Can I say, I just never want to leave this space, now.

Home Office Makeover in Coral and Blue reveal

Oh, right, we even have room for the family to practice guitar, now!

Of course, there is tons of organization. We added under shelf LED strip lights to ensure the work space is bright and cheery.

use bins to create office storage on shelves

A couple of mason jars are painted (same custom coral color) and hold office essentials like paper clips.

Home Office Makeover in Coral and Blue-mason jars holding office supplies

There are tons of organized spots here for projects as they come up. Books that stayed are on topic and inspiring.

Organized Home Office Makeover in Coral and Blue

No drawers? No problem. These simple plastic bins create oodles of organization.

organization for Home Office Makeover in Coral and Blue

Two ugly black (but sturdy and free!) file cabinets were painted a custom color mix Annie Sloan Decorative Chalk Paint ® color just for this client.

Painted File cabinet -Home Office Makeover in Coral and Blue

A new nail-head upholstered chair came from Wayfair.

chairs for Home Office Makeover in Coral and Blue

A matching chair outfits hubby’s new desk on the former storage side of the room. Since there are no large drawers in this desk, a repurposed crate serves as file/paper storage for him.

2 person office- Home Office Makeover in Coral and Blue

The shelves were carefully purged to hold those things that will help move the business forward. Dollar frames (originally black plastic) were custom painted with the same chalk paint to match the file cabinets and bring in friendly faces.

Home Office Makeover in Coral and Blue

It’s all about the details. We no longer needed the printer stand, but we repainted it to become a new footstool, making the spot more comfortable and hiding some cords under the desk at the same time.

Footstool in Home Office Makeover in Coral and Blue

Even though we created a separation from the bedroom with some lovely, heavy curtains, she may or may not be leaving them open a bit just to peek at the pretty new space.

Curtain seprarate the Home Office Makeover in Coral and Blue

Well, the space is different, but what about the business owner? She claimed she was only 20% efficient in her day, but now that she’s working every day in a real office that’s organized, she reports being closer to  80% efficient or better. Who wouldn’t be in an inspiring, beautiful, organized space?

She thought she could, so she did.

I just love this space. It’s my favorite so far.

I know, I know, I say that every time.

Check out these other fantastic home office makeovers:

Home Office Makeover in Blue and Green

Home Office in a Closet

Home Office Makeover with IKEA Shelving

Designer’s Home Office Makeover


 What’s your favorite spot in this new home office makeover?