Wednesday, February 29

And the paint color winner is:

Update: Two walls are done, and it's perfect! I highly recommend this way of picking a paint color!!

A drawing of an envelope
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None of the above!

We couldn't agree on a color last night.  One of us wanted lighter; one of us wanted darker; one of us looked like a deer in the headlights and wouldn't make the tie-breaking call.

So the Sherwin Williams guy did it for me.

I walked in with my taupe color card, and told him "this one is too light, this one is too dark", and felt just like Mama Bear. 

And he didn't blink. No problem he said, we'll just make the color in between those two. Really? I didn't know that was possible until recently. I've read that people would ask for a certain color 25% lighter, but I had never done it.  He looked at the two, and said he could make it just right in between the two we liked. 

And he did!  It's going up on the walls now, and I think it's perfect! 

I love leaving decisions up to other people.

Tuesday, February 28

How to pick a paint color....the "mom with nails" way....

1) Buy samples, and put them various places in the room; look at the samples on various walls, at different times of day, in different lights;

2) Wait three months, and still not make a decision.

3) Hire a painter, and find out he can come IN TWO DAYS, which translates into 12 hours from NOW.

4) Lean on the creative assistant, who ignores you for his guitar;

5) Lean on the creative assisant's assistant, who has that "all these colors look the same to me " look on his face, and realize that he will be no help;

5) Compare said samples of furniture, paint, and future curtain fabric trying to feel led toward one or the other:

6) Realize you still have no clue, but are headed to Sherwin Williams at 8am to buy paint anyway before the painter is here at 9am.

7) Hope for the best.

8) Hope the fabric store still has this fun funky floral fabric that is driving the whole room, since you have, well, put this off for months.

Monday, February 27

It's late, but time for one more post:

I sanded all day between appointments; odd day. But more on that tomorrow.

Tonight, I want to let you in on my newest project: You knew I loved to create jewelry, but so does everyone else in the area. I don't love to wear a lot of jewelry, until I saw this: Hand stamped, custom creations in sterling silver.   I found a jewelry venture that uses my sense of creativity with a hammer! A hammer! How awesome is that?? 

Like this: the "Hannah" with little girl stamp (little boy coming soon soon !)

Or the smaller and simpler "leah" design;

Or my favorite, the Olivia with the extra heart....

The Singular with swarovski crystal

There are many more designs to see at;
Also: visit me at facebook: and "like" my page. 

Once I hit 100 likes there, I will be giving away one piece of jewelry to a randomly selected winner, so get on over and start liking! 

I am seriously enjoying this new skill; It's personal, I'm helping someone to envision and then create a piece that is just their own.  And then I get to use a hammer. It's just about perfect, isn't it?

lauraGdesigns: Let's create something personal....together!

I see the light! and "how to decorate?" (being a question, not an answer...)

 was up front a long time ago: I have no idea how to decorate. Actually, I think it's part of the "About Me" section I first added to the blog.

Give me a hammer and saw, and I can build something. I can picture how it will go together, what it should look like, and have confidence that I can figure out any bumps along the way. 

Give me a sewing machine and some fabric and I can make something. 

Give me a paint brush or drill or that.  A lot of that was included in my growing up learning with two very handy parents.  I've got those.

But decorating?  I have no idea.  I know what I like: if I see a piece of fabric or a sofa or a lamp, I know my tastes.  I can pick out a light fixture or chair and just know it's me and will work for me.  But get all those pieces home, and they are "in" a room, but they don't flow: the room isn't together; it's just a collection of things I've picked and like, but that's about it.

So I've been doing a lot of reading and researching online about the do's and don'ts of decorating, hoping I will learn something!  I've found a few really fun and helpful sites, and will share those soon.

I know one thing you will read anywhere: lighting is key. 

We are sadly lacking in lighting in our family room.  We all fight over one spot on one sofa that has the light if anyone needs to read, and it happens to be the one next to this end table, so reading and having a drink spot at the same time makes this seat prime real estate. 

I was in Lowe's (for paint thinner and sandpaper: the hutch continues), and happened down the lighting aisle.  I found something that would work in the family room, but if it didn't, I could use it in the bedroom (we are lacking lighting in a lot of spots....).

So here is the before:

....and the after:

It's such a simple thing, and no big deal.  I know: it's just a lamp.
But in other ways, it was a huge change to the room.  It completely changed the feel of the room (and this is in the daylight!), opened up a whole side of the room where no one sat (and is now mine), and just seems to give the room a little bit of balance.   I think that is the lesson for me today: it doesn't have to be big changes to have a big impact. 

Next? I'm not sure yet. That's why I'm doing more reading, to see how the room is going to come together, and to see if I can actually bring a room together.  It's a process, and we'll see how the process continues.

One website I've come to love is Better Homes and Gardens.  They have a great, easy to use room design tool.  You can specify the size of the room even odd shapes like our basement!).  Then you can add furniture, end tables, rug and more.  As much as I love to move things around, this method is a lot easier on the back!  Check it out!

Friday, February 24

Back to the hutch: to paint, or stain? Paint. No, stain.

It was such a gorgeous day, I was able to open the garage doors and work on sanding the hutch again....remember that project I started months ago?   Here it is: this hutch  came out of my mom's house in August, moved to my sister's house, and finally made it's way here. 

I have gone back and forth trying to figure out whether to paint it or stain it.  The faux finish on it contains lead, so I have to be careful.  Today I had just about talked myself out of dealing with it.  I was definitely back to just slapping some paint on it and calling it done.   

But then I looked at the doors I had already sanded: the wood is so gorgeous.  There are so many variations in it and it's so interesting.  To cover it up would be a shame, and I would always wonder what it looked like.

So I went to the store to buy paint, and left with stain. 

I flashed back to the wood I uncovered on the door, and decided to go all in.  I came home and sanded one side down (before I ran out of super duper coarse sandpaper).  Above is what I found: beautiful wood, lots of grain, so interesting and fun.  I cannot wait to get the rest done and get it stained!!  Hopefully we'll have a few more days of "spring" in this winter so I can finish it. 

In case you're wondering: I went with Minwax stain and poly from Sherwin Williams.  Per instructions, it's really easy to apply with great results. 

I'll keep you posted, and hopefully it will be as beautiful in real life as it is in my mind.

Thursday, February 23

February.....please meet Virginia.....

If you are used to real winters, then the weather in Virginia may surprise you. And I'm sure it has February as confused as the rest of us. 

Sunday: Yep, we finally had our first real snowstorm. We've had some flurries, but this was enough to go out and play.

It was close to 70 degrees:  and the trees burst into blooms:

It is still February though, and then there's March; we will still have these ups and downs for a while.  But for today, I made good use of it.  We ate lunch outside, we played outside, I weeded, I opened windows and doors..

It was lovely.

And I got to return to a project I've put off all winter.  But it's back, and I can't wait.
Details tomorrow....

Wednesday, February 22

Hang that thang....

Well, we do live in the south, so a little souther drawl every once in awhile isn't too surprising.  Carter asked me today "When are you going to hang that guitar thang?"   So I got right on it....I had the "guitar thang" for over a week and hadn't gotten around to hanging that thang....

What is the "thang"?  Here it is: it's a thang you hang on the wall to hold a guitar.  Carter has been taking guitar lessons for a year now, and just recently has really wanted to be playing it daily.  Around here, between puppy teeth and kitty claws and such, we don't dare leave it sitting out (one guitar case already bit the dust, we'll just leave the details alone). 

Being a "mom with nails", I was so happy that I didn't have to say "wait until dad gets home" (his eyes would have glazed over anyway....did I mention he's not handy?) or have to wait to find someone to figure out how to install the thing (thang) on the wall.

This is what was in the package: the thang, two long screws, and two drywall hangers.  The weird white plastic things are the drywall hangers.  If you are screwing into a stud, (a 2x4 in the wall) you won't need these.  But if there is no stud where you are hanging, screws into drywall don't hold much weight at all.  The anchors provide the weight bearing strength you need. 

First we had to decide where to hang it. In the "piano room" seemed a good place (it's really the "living room", but we don't use it as such); he held it where he wanted, and I marked the spot.

One: Place tape (unsticky side), and poke a mark where the holes will be

Two: hold to wall, then stick tape to wall

step three.....remove the thang

Four: Tape is on wall; drill through marked holes

Then I held the thang up to the wall where C had marked; hold steady, spread out the painters tape (which is sticky side out) and tape it to the wall.  Drill through the holes and you have a perfect fit.

First though, I needed to figure out if the place he marked for me was into a stud or not so I knew if I needed the anchors.  The easy thing would be to get out my stud finder: a stud finder is a cool little electronic device that will beep as you drag it across the wall. First beep: a stud is starting; second beep, stud over.  Between those two lines is your stud.  Drill  away, confident that your weight will hold with screws only.  The second "method" involves something a little more complicated.  First, you decide you've already gone downstairs twice for the drill, again for the bits, and another trip to get the stud finder will just put you over the edge.....on to plan B, which is to just drill into the wall and see what you hit.  I decided on method B.

One drill hole later, I went straight through drywall and found no stud. Bummer.  That would have been the easy out.  But now I needed to install the drywall anchors.  No biggie, but it does add an extra step.   The big thing to be aware of at this stage is to start small.   You want your anchors to go into the drywall tight, so that the screw really attaches well.   You can drill a small hole and make it bigger if you need to but well, once you've gone too big, there is no way to fix that.  I don't have a tried and true method to do this (I'm sure someone more experience that I am can figure it out on the first try), but here's my technical how to: Start small; drill; try the anchor; won't fit? drill again, using the next bit up; still too small? try again with the next bit....and so on.  It only took me three tries to get the right size, but boy was it worth it.  Perfect  fit.

This type of anchor screws into the wall; other types just push in (I use a rubber mallet). This one I used the electric drill and just drilled slowly to keep it straight.  Once it was flush with the wall, i was in good shape. Next, I was ready to hang that thang. The thang (I guess it does have a name, like Guitar Hanger or something exciting) went over the anchors, and screwed right in. Test it with the hang on it with as much weight as a mom can, and I think we're in good shape.

I had Carter do the final hanging honors, and I think it looks mighty spiffy up there!

Good news? This entire hanging of the thang only took 14 minutes, excluding.... time.  I had put this project off all week, and it took less than 15 minutes of my day.  Lesson learned, and reminded.

I still hate the cleaning up part; if I could just figure out a way to avoid that, I'd be in good shape. 

Do you have something to hang? Get on it girl...get to hanging! Don't be afraid to try....a little spackle and paint can go a long way to fix any oops along the way.

Check it out: Closet party at Thrift Decor Chick!

Click here for link:  Thrifty Decor Chick
Do your closets need attention? Do you need ideas?  Then check out the closet re-do party at Thrifty Decor Chick! 

Get some great ideas, some inspiration, and a kick in the pants to get going!

Go on....get to work!  You'll feel better when things don't fall out on your head when you open that closet door....really, you will.

Tuesday, February 21

Priceless works of art

personal photos
I like for the things I look at in my home on a daily basis to be personal.  There are exceptions, but I like hanging things on my walls that mean something to me or were not just randomly picked up at a store.  I have a lot of photos on my walls (nature, family); pictures of places we've visited, and a few carefully piced pieces of "real" art from local fairs that have really jumped at us.  Not talking Renoirs here people, just prints of watercolors from a local artist that really stole my heart. 

But over the years, what takes up the majority of our space is very personal.  Our gallery wall was completed with personal photos, scrapbook papers and other things we already had on hand. I didn't buy one thing for that wall (including the frames: I had a stash I had kept over the years; I just spraypainted them all white!) A few of the pieces are artwork that Carter made. He had an awesome art teacher in preschool.  I included a lot of it on our gallery wall in the living room.
preschool art
preschool art on tile

 You may recognize a "Monet" or a "Rembrandt" there.... all amazing work from a child that age, and I give ALL the credit to his art teacher.  She had such a way of pulling out the creativity, along with having incredible projects and ideas for them to work on.

I was going through other papers from his preschool years, and came across this.  I think I kept it all these years because it just did something for me. Yes, it's a simply stamp and paint project on a piece of paper....that' smy point.  This is priceless art!  And since it's red (like the gallery wall) and orange (like my new obsession), it is perfect to include. 

It's pretty bunched up, I think from the effect of water on paper, so I thought I should do something to flatten it out.  But I was afraid anything I tried would mess it up, so I just went straight to framing. 

And a very few minutes later, here is my "priceless" (and free!) work of art added to the gallery wall!  I just love it.  And it goes to show that you can decorate your walls with little (or no!) cost and having a warm, meaningful space. 


What do you have sitting around waiting to be framed into a priceless work of art for your home??

Saturday, February 18

Just because....

We're expecting snow this weekend (first flakes of the we are excited!!).  Spring is still my favorite time of year though, and while editing pictures this morning for our annual photobook, I saw this.  Just wanted to share a little spring yumminess today.

Friday, February 17

While I sit: Making fun, easy photo albums

I'm sitting a lot.  I'm watching this boy recover, but looking puny still.  He doesn't want anything but a spoonful of sherbet every few hours. He needs pain meds every six. He doesn't need much more from me, but I still have to sit here and watch him.  I just need to.

So while I sit, I need something to keep busy.  A few weeks ago, Sherry posted at Young House Love about catching up with their "family yearbooks".  Oh yeah....I had started my online photo album last year....or was it the year before that?  I tried the "scrapbooking" type photo album for a while, and did good with that for a few years.  But, it wasn't really my "thing"....all that clutter makes my heart go a flutter, you know?

I'm more of a computer person.  And I started, I really did. One of those years.  Sherry's post reminded me, but more than that, she inspired me.  See, I was still doing the old scrapbooking style, just in digital format....a few pictures per page, a title, text....  And I did not love doing was very tedious.

Instead, take a look at the pages they shared: there are pictures everywhere! I love the style of it....I take a monumental amount of pictures, and trying to pare those down to just a few was so painful and time consuming.  And while I'd love to remember every detail of each picture, it's just not practical. 

But it got me going, and I've started. And hopefully I will take the time to actually finish a "yearbook" in the next few days.   They used MyPublisher with great results.  I've always used Shutterfly, and my pictures live there, so I'm using that.   It seems like both offer great discounts at times, so keep an eye out!  Shutterfly is offering up to 30% off photobooks right now....get to work!

I can't post examples from Shutterfly yet (still in process), but using the free Picasa collage tool I made something that will look similar.  Page after page of pictures, memories and fun.

Page after page of tons of pictures....I love it!  Shuttefly books also have many options: a few to a lot of pictures per page; titles on some, pages of text on others.  There are so many layouts to choose from.  Once you decide how many pictures you want on a page, you pick a layout with that number of pictures, and wham!  Page is complete.  It's so easy and so much fun!

So get to work.  If nothing else, get those pictures off your hard drive and get them backed up online.  Get them organized by month or event; once you do that, the photobook will almost just fall into place on its own!

ps: AMWN is not afilliated with Shutterfly in any way.  I have had my pictures housed there for years, and have had great luck with calendars and produts I've printed there.  

Thursday, February 16

We're hanging in there....

No fun house projects going on right now; our few hour stint in the hospital as an outpatient turned into a lot more, and not fun.  So my focus is on him, of course, and thoughts in my head.
Sharing them as he rests on, soon.
Now I just need a post on how to recover a house that looks like something exploded in it! 

the Mom, doing job #1 today

Tuesday, February 14

Easy-peasey: DIY Valances!

The dining room is under a long-term transformation.  We don't "dine" much around here: we're more of the "throw the burgers on the grill and each on a blanket on the grass" kind of family.  So the dining room is pretty much wasted space except for once every two years or so.  It does get a lot of use though as a Lego building room. So my idea was to incorporate the pretty, fancy room with the fun.   The fancy? A piece by this artist who does gorgeous copper sculptures.   It is our favorite thing in the whole house; this room is and will also be decorated around this piece. 

 The fun? Well, I thought this fabric was a good start.  A little artsy, a little lego-ish fun, right? I first saw this idea on Pinterest as a "no sew valance" idea.

  I wanted more of a lined looked, so I adjusted a bit for mine, but the original idea was great.  I didn't like what I had in the dining room....boring and bland.

The project starts with 1x4 pine boards: the cheaper the better, because nothing of the wood will show.  The only important part is that the boards are straight.  I first needed to decide how far out I wanted the valance to be from the window: I decided on two inches, so I cut two pieces of 1X4 two inches long.   The next piece depends on how long you want the valance.  I decided on just bigger than the frame of my window.  I ended up with a "U" shaped piece 2 inches deep and 36 inches long.

Next it was time for fabric.  Like I mentioned at first, I decided against the "no sew" option.  The front of our house faces west, and the light through those windows would show right through a piece of unlined fabric. 

To make the valence was like making a big pillow case.  I cut a piece of the fabric that was about the length I wanted, and width plus about 10 inches.  I figured this would be a test case, so I wasn't too worried about having to do it a time or two to get it the way I wanted, so I didn't spend a lot of time stressing over measurements. 

Fabric is sewn right sides facing together; sew three sides around, then turn and press.  The remaining side can be hand sewn shut, or as I did, just machine stitched on the outside. 

The fabric was then just simply staple gunned onto the board.  I did a little inverted pleat in the middle for a touch of interest; you could just have it straight across also.

Hanging it on the wall just required a few L brackets and screws, and viola! Valances.

I have more to share on this project, but my focus tonight is elsewhere; more to come in a few days.  To see what I'll be up to, visit for the upcoming adventure we have in store at 5am tomorrow.  For now, goodnight!

To check out the artist of the copper sculpture, see  He's amazing!  We hope to own another of his sculptures or fountains one day.

Monday, February 13

This Old Cabinet: Part Two

So the door was done and hanging, magnetized and decluttering our refrigerator (although some of the magnets went to school today for morning share time). 

So I was left with a cabinet with no door.  Bland and white it was, with many years of layers of life on it.  I need color in my living room, and I'm liking this set of yummy colors to add to my sage green (thanks to  The second color from the top is my furniture; the middle color is the color I'm thinking of painting the family room (which is similar to the kitchen color), and the lower colors: yummy.  I love spice colors, reds, and have a recent attack of the oranges for some reason.  I have would have added these together on my own, but this pin hooked me.  So out came the Jalapenos (Sherwin Williams "jalapeno" color that is!) which is the color in our basement. How convenient! I pictured gradient colors on the shelves.

Double double toil and trouble....I felt like a witch at halloween mixing up a brew.  I took the straight paint color, and added into each cup in (hopefully) equal amounts.  Then I added white primer to each, adding just a bit more in each cup to get a lighter tone.  Then off to painting I went.

This take was too dark, and too much the same.  Back again.......

But this time, it was just right!  I added in some baskets I found on sale, and added some texture to the room (which is what the "how to design people" say you need to finish a room).  I feel like I'm on the right track.

And now that I look closer, I'm seeing a lot of little touches of orangy/reds in the room. 

Awesome!  Now on to curtains, wall color decisions, mantle spruce up and pillows (which I have a love/hate relationship with, since they always end up on the floor or used as weapons, shields or grenades).

Progress.  I love progress.

Thursday, February 9

Using Magnetic Paint: Does it really work?

Part one of a two part project:

This cabinet came from my Pop-pop's house (read more about him here, moved to my mom's house, then in August came home with me.  It sat in my garage for a while, then I moved it into my living room, in this corner. 

I wanted to live with it awhile before I was sure what it was going to become; I had a vision from the start, which is really unusual for me.  I just knew what this was going to be in my house, which is very different from it's first two lives. 

What the cabinet will be will have to wait until part two, but today, I want to share with you what I did with the door!

I removed the door from the cabinet, and knew it was going to have a purpose, or repurpose, of its own.

I started with a trim around the outside, thinking I was going to leave the inside the color of the magnetic primer.  I used the darker color of the kitchen stripes.
first coat
The next step was the fun part: painting with the magnetic paint.  I used Rustoleum's magnetic primer bought from Lowe's.  I sanded down the door by hand just to rough up the finish and make sure the paint would have a surface to bond to.   The first coat didn't look so great: I honestly wasn't sure what I was in for at this point!

after many coats!
The first coat of magnetic primer didn't look so great!   I ended up doing a second, third, fourth, fifth, and even sixth of primer before I had a coating that looked and felt right.

By "looked" right, it was dark and completely black, fully covering the original paint.  By "feeling" right meant testing with various magnets throughout the process.  I put on thin coats, and allowed each to dry for 30 minutes.  I then would test with a magnet, and could feel the pull or lack thereof towards the door.  Towards the end, I would tilt up the door 45 degrees and get a better feel for the pull;  after 6 coats I felt like I had a good thing going.   It sounds like a lot of coats, but out of a quart of primer, I only used about 1/5 of the can.  
As you can see, the primer was really really black.  I wasn't sure I could paint over it, but was feeling like I wanted the entire door to look the same.

 At this point is where I will sound like a walking blogging commercial for Sherwin Williams: their  paint is awesome!  The first coat covered like a pro!

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Here we are setting up in its new home in the kitchen. It gives the same light/dark effect the stripes gives, so I'm happy I went with the darker color. 

The first magnets I tried were lighter ones with larger magnets on the back; the entire back of these two are magnetized; these worked well for both reasons: light and large magnets.

This magnet also did ok: it didn't have a large magnet on the back, but was on the lighter side so it worked fine also.   After I tried all the magnets we had, only two didn't work with the paint.  There was one that was fairly heavy, made from a piece of slate.  The second one was a small stuffed animal with small magnets in it's feet, and that didn't stick at all.

I hung the door on the wall, and used one of my favorite products to steady it.  I love the Command products: this one is the velcro type fastener.  Stick one side to the door (or picture frame, wall hanging), and the other to the wall.  Stick and unstick until you have a solid, straight hanging on the wall.  And even with the little (hopefully rare) little earthquakes we get here in Central Virginia, pictures stay nicely hung in place. 
The icing on the cake? my clean and cleanable fridge doors! I love it! We collect magnets from trips as opposed to another tshirt or trinkets which we don't need (read: Mom doesn't like clutter). We've all become excited about collecting a new magnet, but the refrigerator was getting overrun, and honestly, looking pretty junky. This is a great answer. I love my new (old) door!

My door may get some sassy little accents to color it up, or a stripe of paint to accent the frame. Or not. For now, I'm enjoying my little repurposed door from a cabinet that was handed down for three generations.

Next: See what has happened to the cabinet  in its "un-doored" state.

PS: A few more notes: If you are applying this to a wall, the instructions suggested using a small roller which I do recommend.  I used  a foam brush, and did have to work to get the edges smoothed out.  Second, have the store mix the paint for you; I had to stir and stir and stir to get it all mixed up.  Depending on how long it has been on the shelf, a spin in the store will save you a lot of arm fatigue!  And one more thing: for added fun, you can add a coat of chalkboard paint and have a chalkboard/magnetic space all in one!