Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Decs: Den!

Hello lovies!  Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!  We newly Cornwells are still beat from this weekend's festivities but I'm happy to say that the party was a smash hit and we were so pleased to welcome everyone in to our new-to-us home.  Realized I missed my final Christmas Dec's installment on Friday while we were crazily finishing the stairs - nothing like burning the midnight oil!  So see below for the final gussied up room.  Back tomorrow with deets on the party - can't wait to share!!

The Merry and Bright canvas was my biggest project down here, but I, like many others, I'm sure, pinned this little project last Christmas and I reallly wanted to try it out.  It as actually pretty easy, outside of a little self hatred of my own handwriting, I think it turned out pretty well!

I simply sketched out the letters in pencil.
Painted over them with gold and silver paint. Flipped the canvas and used an exacto knife to cut tiny slits into the back of the canvas and poked the tiny light bulbs through. 
 I think the type of lights I used really helped make them stick in the canvas - I had purchased 7 strands of tiny tiny globe lights for our wedding to hang in the wisteria a couple years ago and didn't end up using them all.  So rather than having to glue the lights in place, like most tutorials, they stuck there pretty well on their own due to the tiny nubs.
all done up, and an unfortunate iphone pic.
I also, was totally inspired but this awesome bookish mantle I spotted while popping into West Elm in Chicago a few weeks back.  it totally ties into our sponsored charity for our holiday party this year where we decided to collect books for the local children's hospital.  I'll post more pictures this week, but I set out to several local thrift stores and for around $10 I picked up about 2 dozen red, hard backed books for our mantle.  After a little zhushing, I think it turned out great, can't wait to share!!
Hope you all had a great weekend!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Decs: Living Room!

Now onto the living room.  This room got some major updates with a brand new tree -  hello skinny tall beauty - and a super fun and super easy DIY.

I actually do have pics from my super simply JOY project.  Picked a  couple pressed corrugate letters up from Hobby Lobby along with some gold spray paint and some gold glitter spray paint.

We also have this new beauty in the corner.
i love her.
As a bonus, and not styled at ALL, we also hooked up this little dec for the dining room chandelier.  I'm super pleased with how it turned out.  Stole this idea from from Miss. Kristin
Who would have thought zip ties could be such a staple?!
And if you haven't noticed a theme yet.  I'm totally digging black and white accents to tie this Christmas together.  Sure there's pops of red and green all around, and of course gold (duh!) but for the most part I've tried to tie everything together with some simple black and white ribbons.
Last set of decs plans tomorrow as we plunge into the final prep for Saturday's party!  Can't wait to share!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Decs: Front Porch

Onto the Front Porch plan.  You may remember that we unfortunately have a plethora of decorative wrought iron on this house of ours.  Outside of the cagey things on the windows (GONE, btw!! - yay for unrealistic pre party to do lists! pics to follow!) we also have the pleasure of being host to 4 large decorative iron columns on our front porch.  The main objective of the front porch decs?  Frame the positives and block out the negatives.

Here's how I aimed to make that plan a reality:

I got these exact galvanized planters from the Target Privet house closeout sale this past summer and just love them.  I was also able to snag some super tall (think 3+ feet) French flower buckets for the front porch from Hobby Lobby.  Some fun ribbon and several warm LED willow branches add some nice height.  One of my FAVORITE decs that was an "audible" if you will (aka impulse buy) are 3 Douglas Fir wreaths from our 3 big windows in the front.  We're holding out for plantation shutters for this 11 foot stretch of windows, but in the mean time, I've put up some basic white ikea curtains to provide a tiny bit of privacy and frame.  These 3 wreaths are the perfect extra detail and scream a little big more of that "homemade christmas" that I love so much, rather than my prelit, fakey garland.  Can't wait to share some pics of the finished project!

Tomorrow...Living Room decs!!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Decor: Kitchen!

So I was holding off on posting all my Christmas decorating plans until I had some of the "make this" after shots to share.  Turns out that in the craziness leading up to our party this weekend, all "after" shots are also clogged with fixin's for the party and general holiday craziness.  With the party a mere 5 days away I'll be sure to post a full set of pics of all our decs once the house is gussied up and clean for guests.  Until then, here are some plans I hatched several weeks ago, that I'm happy to say, I've stuck pretty closely to....

I LOVE Christmas!  Every year I try to squeeze it all in!  Decorations, cookies, music, more decorations, holiday parties, gift wrapping and hopefully a little snow!  I thought I'd start a little mini series sharing all my plans to "Christmas up" the various rooms in our new house.

Let's start with the Kitchen.  Often overlooked, but always the hub of any good party, I like to make sure we have a few playful decorations in here that remind us why we're imbibing in all these delicious foods and drinks!


Back tomorrow with our outdoor decs!  Also, full recap of all the CRAZY projects that have been sucking up our time in preparation for this party.  90 "YES" RSVPs later, and my head is still swirling trying to prep!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Christmas Party: Invites!

Every year I say, we have to get these out before Thanksgiving and every year we end up failing miserably at achieving that.  This year we missed my deadline (Nov. 15) but thankfully still got them out before Thanksgiving.

Because we finally have a bigger house, we're able to invite more people this year - yiphee!  But with more people comes more planning, so this year rather than hounding everyone to RSVP, I went digital!  Enter Paperless Post.

The idea of a formal digital invitation is so appealing and I couldn't wait to try it out.  The e-version (they also I have the option to print) has lots of freebies built in but it's all based on "coins." You're given 40 coins when you start out and I selected a free invitation and just had to pay for my "envelope" and "envelope liner."

There are tons of great templates to choose from and you can customize all of them.  I also selected a custom envelope insert to reinforce my holiday theme. These were a few of my favs.

This Line is Tangled
Merry Merry
But ultimately we had to stick with the festive black labs to pay homage to my little E Bear.
Gross I know.
blurred out so no internet crazies show up at my house.
that said, if you want to come, email me!
So far, I'm totally pleased with the quality and everyone has complimented Paperless Post's fun digital delivery presentation (it actually looks like you're opening a real piece of mail - hence the envelope + liners)
What's your favorite invite tool?  Still sticking with paper?
PS this is NOT sponsored by Paperless Post, but I do love them dearly!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekend Recap: Den Makeover Part 2

Chalupa Batman! This has been a crazy couple of days! (Extra points if you get that reference!)

I was MIA last week with a quick jaunt up to Chicago for work meetings, but I was also able to sneak in some quick (and much needed) home decor shopping - more on that + some initial Christmas inspiration tomorrow.

This weekend was INSANE.  Looking back I feel a little like I just participated in some sort of HGTV home makeover. Although, to be clear, the finished product while impressive - to me - was still not on par with TV makeover greatness - but it was pretty darn good!

I kicked off the weekend by cleaning the house and getting some fixings for a nice, home cooked meal for my husband. 

This was an effort to butter him up to paint....the fireplace...on a Friday night...this Friday night.

Begrudgingly he obliged and that dark fireplace went from drab to fab with a coat (err coatssss) of white latex paint - more on that later this week.

sweet D in progress - I was helping BTW.

Saturday morning we woke up at 7 to start the final crown and baseboard installation process!  D and my amazing brother in law installed base in D's office and the den while I worked on THE WORST JOB EVER - sucking up leaves.

Our big beautiful backyard is suddenly a huge pain in my side, literally.  I spent the entire weekend sucking up bags and bags and BAGS of leaves and it's still not spotless back there.  At the end of the weekend I counted 18 bags - just from the backyard, and that's full of chopped leaves!  Did I mention that Kirkwood charges $1.50 for each bag? 18 from the back + 12 from the front means I'm officially out $45 for lawn care in two weekends alone!

Rant over.

D and our brother in law D finished up the crown in the den last night and I'm happy to report that the place is looking a bit more like this....

look at that big beautiful crown!
So I'll be back with a full look at this before and after + detailed instructions on painting of fireplaces. But I couldn't help by take this crappy iphone pic and send to some of my nearest and dearest in a deliriously proud and incredibly exhausted moment yesterday.  Not sold on keeping the mantle natural but too exhausted and not committed enough (to any color) to paint it quite yet.
I cannot tell you how much BRIGHTER this room is now - it's actually pleasant to be in!
Other item's crossed off my "do before our Christmas party" list?
o   Remove paint from den window done!
o   Remove paint from guest window pushing till after the party...
o   Fix paint touch ups in bedroom done!
o   Call someone to fix ice maker
o   Paint den doors (4)
o   Sand and stain/paint stairs
o   Caulking all base now there's more of it...
o   Caulking all crown now there's more of it...
o   Paint den  done!
o   Install black splash in kitchen
o   Move den bath mirror up
o   Install sliding door screen
o   Paint shutter in front
o   Remove things on windows in front
o   Sand driveway
o   winterize backyard done!
o   Hem dining room curtains
o   Finish cafĂ© curtains for kitchen
o   Paint office chair (black ) needs final spray
o   Paint office desk (white)
o   Gold mirror installation in dining room done!
o   Buy fabric for dining room, bedroom and kitchen cornice
o   Order bedroom curtains to match bedroom cornice
o   Sand and paint dresser for bedroom
o   Buy bench for front hall
Oh yea, and decorate for Christmas, clean the house, walk the dog, order food for the party...and on...and on...  tis' the season!
Are you ready for this week's festivities and all that follow?


Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekend Recap: Den Makeover Part 1

Hope you all had a lovely weekend!  We were pretty busy this weekend with two main projects: tackling the insane amount of leaves that have accumulated in both our front and back yards, AND making a plan for the den!

After spending roughly 6 hours on Saturday, we got the front yard 80% cleared of leaves but unfortunately didn't even touch the back.  This was due largely in part to a LONG trip to Home Depot where we purchased (hopefully) our final batch of crown molding and baseboards.  With this purchase, we've officially purchased/installed crown and base throughout the entire house except in the kitchen (which we hope to completely gut and possibly expand in the next 18 months) the 4th bedroom (which is just small and honestly mostly finished so we don't want to mess with it) and the basement (who cares!).

This is such a milestone for us and a big step towards feeling "finished" with some of the projects we started 6 months ago now.  Next weekend my amazing brother in law (who installed all our baseboards as seen here) will install the final crown and base in the upstairs hall, D's office (missing the base), den hall and den!

In preparation for the den work we finally took the plunge and painted. Originally the den looked like this, a dark tan.

closing day pic!

I don't mind it too much and honestly it's very close to the color we had in our old house's living room/dining room.  The problem was that despite three large windows and a huge sliding glass door, this room is pretty dark naturally.  The two windows that flank the fireplace have a lot of brush outside them causing a shady tree house effect and the dark fireplace doesn't help matters.

So enter the plan to brighten this space up!  Last week we checked out several paint colors and settled on Glidden's White Lagoon.  We wanted something that was "white with a hint of light-grey-blue-ish-ness"  I think this meets the mark but I'll admit that it was rather alarming seeing it all go up.


before with test samples on the wall
left side is up! sleeping dog
after - way brighter, except for that fireplace...
yay new paint color, BOO dark fireplace!
So as you can see, we still have some work ahead of us painting that fireplace but from what I read, it shouldn't be too hard.  Next weekend the crown goes up - which explains that lack of cutting in on the ceiling, we followed the painting process as last time we installed crown.
So this Monday leaves me anxious for next Saturday when we begin the end of the crown/base project!  I leave you with some awesome uses of White Lagoon - I can only hope our finished product looks this good!
glidden white lagoon and glidden white on white stripes

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dining Room Update: Mirror Montage

Our dining room walls are very blue.  I thought originally that I'd want to lighten this up with some fun, more white focused art.  I also contemplated using some canvases for a quick DIY to create the same Kate Spade inspired art that's floating all over Pinterest.  I even bought the canvases!  But the more I thought about it the more came to the realization that this room needed light, and outside of putting sconces on those clean walls - the next best thing is mirrors!

Enter the mirror montage project.  I knew after seeing pictures like these that I wanted a few different sizes of mirrors to create more of an installation look than just one big mirror (I'm not in the habit of watching myself eat at the dinner table)

Pinned Image
Pinned Image
But when it came time to pull the trigger on all these different shapes and sizes it still felt like I needed a "theme" to carry them all through.  Enter my BFF, loud and proud GOLD.
Trouble is, I'm apparently the only one fully 100% embracing the gold revival (the buyers at Hobby Lobby FOR SURE are not on board yet) so there was a serious lack of gold mirrors to be found.  So then I jump ahead to thinking, hmm maybe this project is "Magic of Spray Paint" worthy?  Well with the vast array of textures I was finding (lots of that don't spray paint me plastic) that didn't seem like it would end well.
Finally, I settled on gold leaf!  So here I bring you, my gold leaf tutorial!
First off, I collected almost a dozen mirrors from Hobby Lobby and the like, mostly for $5 to $10 with frequent 50% off sales.  I knew I wanted one interesting focal point, so while the majority of the mirrors are oval or circles or some version therein, the crown jewel is a mosaic tile sort of design that will match really well with the new rug we got for this room.  Of course I found it at Target and it was part of the Threshold collection - love!
So here we go!  I got all of my gold lead materials from Hobby Lobby or Michaels. They have pretty much the exact same selection.  I'd recommend starting with one of their starter kits which include all 4 of the liquids you'll need + 10 sheets of gold leaf to get you started.
 Step 1, make sure your mirror is clean and free of dust!  This is also the step where you can put down a "base color"  I chose not to do this on any of my mirrors, wanting the black (and in some cases, yellow/blue) to show through in tiny tiny areas to create a little patina.  But I do recommend adding a base if you're looking for a picture perfect, and realistic gold texture.  Strangely enough, people recommend starting with a base of red.  Red base paint comes in the start kit I referenced.
Then, you'll take the adhesive and a foam craft brush and put a light coat on the entire area you'd like to gold leaf.  Make sure you really cover it all as you will NOT want to go back and add more once you start the leafing process.  Let this coat sit for about 10 to 15 minutes so it gets tacky.
Then it's time to get out the gold leaf.  It comes packaged between thin sheets of tissue paper and its VERY fragile so be careful as you pull it out - I found it best to get some static on my finger and let that do the work.
Then you lightly place it on your surface, being sure to create enough give that once you smooth it into the cracks it doesn't break.  This part takes MAJOR practice!
I used a dry foam craft brush to push the gold leaf into place.
Once its all in place and pressed down, you'll likely have some left over pieces that you'll need to pull off.  Keep those for filling in the gaps later.
Speaking of those gaps.  So I try to fill as many gaps as possible with more gold leaf.  Anything else that's still uncovered can easily be filled in with a gold leaf pen.  These cost about $8 but are AMAZING and I was able to do all of my mirrors with just one pen!  I clearly got lazy on this last mirror and had lots of black uncovered spots to fill in.  This was because my lazy self didn't put enough adhesive on the sides so nothing was sticking.
The next step is sealing.  I again applied this with a new, clean, foam brush in just one light coat.  It's important to fill in any gaps with the pen before sealing.  One other thing before sealing - some people like to put an antiquing coat on to tone down the brassy look of the gold.  I was actually looking for that yellowy sheen so I didn't use a toner but if you wanted to, you should do it before the sealant.  Toner comes in that starter kit.
And that's it!  I went on to lay out my mirror gallery on my dining room table, trying to figure out the width in between.
Then you saw from yesterday's post that I hacked up some newspaper to recreate this general layout on the wall before hammering.  Dan said this was a HUGE help.

Finally before starting to post them, I gave them all a good cleaning and scraped off the gold foil that got on the mirror, using the same method we used to get the paint of the windows last weekend.

 Here she is!  So excited to have something up on the wall and something to cross off my to do list!
Have you put up anything fun on your walls lately? 
This weekend we've got projects galore, involving painting the den, buying more (and hopefully the LAST!) bit of crown and baseboard and of course painting painting painting!  Before and afters next week!
Hope you have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Bedroom Addition

Guess what landed on my doorstep yesterday?  Hint: it has to do with an update to this look:

+ one unhappy dog.
We didn't trade Emma in, but the new rug did finally get here!
+ one unhappy dog + new chevron rug
It's definitely a different look and a pop of much needed color/pattern.  As you can see this is clearly a work in progress with a messy bed.  But more big projects on the immediate horizon for this room.
I also finally finished up a project for the dining room last night - super excited to share that tomorrow.  Here's a hint.
hmm, planning my black friday deals already? who knows... crappy iphone pic. oops.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Magic of Spray Paint: Office Chair Edition

In our new house, D and I are both fortunate enough to each have our own "me" space.  This is the juvenile term we used to define territories when we moved in together 4+ years ago.  In our old 900+ sq foot bungalow, I had primary custody of the kitchen, dining room and living room whereas D claimed the second bedroom as a man cave of sorts.  Which quickly turned into a tone on tone horizontal striped with matching curtain/chair combo "man room."

This new house has afforded us to each have a place to "conduct our business" haha.  Basically he has a place to work on his side business with his brother (shameless plug: and work/scouring the internets for information about the NHL lockout.  While I have a place to hoard my extra junk that won't fit in my closet, pay bills and think about all the things I want to decorate.

Deserving of an entirely dedicated post of its own, I won't go into the specifics on the plan I've hatched for my "office" but it does include these fabulous lamps  that I found recently at a thrift store.

It also includes this:  A caned seat chair I found at a thrift store for $10 a couple years ago.  As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to paint it, but surprisingly enough, once I got it home D was the one who thought we should preserve all the effort someone had put into hand painting all the detailing.

can you believe only $10 for this? the lines are great and the caning is in mint condition!
In it's new home, I felt like it was begging to be repainted and I even toyed with doing a fun combo of colors on the caned seat and the rest of the chair.  But once I saw this image on Effortless Style, I was compelled to go glossy black!
Marilen Rentmeeser's office via
This office is so interesting, because it has a lot of neutrals and yet it's totally an interesting show stopper with the pops of red.  Black lacquer here I come!
I totally think the lines look more modern now in the glossy black.  And the hand detailing is still barely visible but in texture only which I kind of love.
i spy a little pup sunning herself
So excited to finish up the office.  Back with what I'm doing to the desk + some storage ideas later this week.

Weekend Recap: Wino

This past weekend was a perfect mix of relaxation and productivity.  On Saturday I headed about 40 minutes west of St. Louis to "Missouri Wine Country" to celebrate one of my good friend's bachelorette parties!  It was a mini reunion of sorts as I met my friend X at my old advertising agency and much of the party was also from our old agency.

X, the bride to be and the awesome LED pole.  \
X's mom may have suggested hand sanitizer when we got on...

It was so great to catch up with the girls, some who still work there and others who have gone corporate, like myself, or continued onto other agencies.  We used to joke that because the agency life was so full of fresh faces that each new batch of hires was like another pledge class coming in.  This was our pledge class reunion for sure.

It's interesting because even though I've only known these girls for 3+ years, they really know me exceptionally well because unlike a spouse, boyfriend or best friend, I literally spent 40+ (definitely more like ++) hours a week with this crew, more face to face quality time than I did with any of the aforementioned.  As a group we talked through first apartments, graduating from roommates to living alone or with boyfriends.  The skeptical talk of marriage and careers and then eventual development of both.

some of the pledge class
Now lots of us are married, most fairly recently, and some even have kiddos.  It's kind of special to see that much growth in someone you care about in such a short period of time.  With sisters and boyfriends and even best friends it always seems more gradual. Sorry for being a cornball.

At any rate, I had a fabulous time with these ladies and can't wait to see X get married on New Years (I know, so fun!!) so we can do it all over again.

Sunday, D and I got up at the crack of dawn! OK so only new 7/old 8am. BUT we worked all day and I'm happy to say that all the trim in the house is FINALLY done.  What a boring job! No more whining about this not being done now.

D was in charge of a slightly more mind numbing task - scraping paint from the freshly painted wooden window frames with a razor.  Can you say kill me now?  Eek.  If you should ever want to attempt this - and I will say it does look 10X better - here's my recco: wet the paint/windowpane with some warm soapy dishwater before you start scraping  and invest in one of these scraper guys for $2 at home depot that actually holds the blade for you.  It still takes a long time but this makes it a little easier to get off and hold on to.

I also worked on another fun spray paint project, as well as something for the dining room.  More on those projects this week!

PS go vote! duh.