Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bonus room re-do

Like many two- or three-story homes, our house has a "bonus room" over the garage.  I suppose the name indicates that this space isn't really necessary for the functioning of the house, but if you have kids, it's definitely a "bonus" to have this extra space!

As you can see, we have a big garage--which means we have a big bonus room built into the eaves under the roof there.

Our bonus room has been well-used in the seven years we've lived here, but until now it's never been decorated.  It's mostly been the place where old furniture goes to die--stuff that won't be hurt by teenagers hanging out, doing the things that teenagers do.  But now that we're down to just one teenager living at home full-time, this room doesn't have to be quite as tough as it used to be.  Time for some decorations!

Here's a look at the room from one end to the other:


And here's a view looking back the other way.

The room re-do started when I found this "Architect" rug in a colorway that I knew would go with our old couch.  The rug is big enough to anchor the seating/TV/video gaming space (6'6" x 10"), and it was on clearance for 69.98.  It hopped right into my cart!  Now, are these the most up-to-date colors in home decor?  No.  I think that's why this rug was on clearance.  But do they work well in this space used mostly by teenage boys?  You bet!


I found a fabric that went well with the rug and the sofa and made some new throw pillows.  Easy and inexpensive update.


We had the Swedish armchair; it got a new throw pillow but otherwise remained the same.  To round out the seating area, I made over some roadkill rescue chairs. 


One of our neighbors threw out some sturdy if a little worn-looking chairs.  Here's how they looked to start:


A little black spray paint and some new fabric go a long way toward a new look for almost no money.


You can see in this photo that the narrow end of the room is a stage.  We bought this house when it was under construction.  Upon looking at the footprint of the bonus room, my husband asked our builder if he could elevate that portion of the floor to make a stage.  At that time our oldest son Will was in 8th grade and was in a couple of bands; the stage made a great place to practice and perform.  


Now that Will is 21, he's not at home very often.  So his instruments and equipment have moved to one side to make way for Lee's LEGO studio.  Here he films LEGO review videos for his YouTube channel.  The artwork for the stage was a simple DIY project:  I mounted LEGO shopping bags onto foam core and popped them into black frames that I had on hand.  Easy and free! 


A lamp from Target and three square mirrors from IKEA are just right for the short wall above the piano.


For the stairwell leading to the bonus room, I used architectural prints of the lighthouses of North Carolina.  These came from the Bodie Island gift shop and cost about $3.00 each unframed.  I used double-sided tape to mount them on black paper and slipped them into clip frames.  They're hard to photograph in this space, but I love the way they look!

Here's a close view of one of the prints:


And now for my one splurge in this room.  Some time ago a friend gave me a beautiful print (a copy, not an original) of an architectural drawing of the 1984 renovations on the Statue of Liberty.  To go with this room's building/architecture look, I had the print framed.  This baby is 36 inches x 42 inches, so it's definitely a special piece!  

Maybe I should have splurged a little more and gotten non-glare glass.  Oh, well.  Here's a little better photo of the print:


And a bit of the detail:



Isn't it cool?  It's in a little nook at the end of the room.  When this table is not covered with a LEGO display, it's a great place for board games.  We've had teenage boys here playing Trivial Pursuit until 2:00 A.M.  Those are the times I'm grateful for a bonus space--this room is all by itself over the garage, so there's no noise in the rest of the house!



Now for my very favorite part:  the cost.  Even with lots of new touches in this room, I spent a total of only $300 on the makeover.  Many things I already had on hand; I just pulled things together to work in this space.  That makes me happy!

Thanks for taking a tour of my bonus room!  What do you think?

I'm joining these fun parties:




Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Easy, inexpensive flower vase

I enjoy giving fresh flowers to friends.  Pretty much every woman I know enjoys receiving flowers; presenting flowers to a loved one is a real joy for me.

Some flowers I grow myself; others I buy at the grocery store.  One of my favorite ways to present them is super-easy and nearly free:



Here's how to make this simple burlap flower vase for yourself.

Start with a jar (I think this one originally held pickles).  Cut a scrap of burlap to fit around the outside of the jar, including a little extra for the circumference.


Using a glue gun, glue the burlap scrap to the outside of the jar.  Careful not to burn your fingers--hot glue seeps right through burlap!  Fold over the final edge to form a neat seam.


If you like, slip a rubber band around the jar for extra holding power.


Cover the rubber band with ribbon, raffia, twine--whatever you like!  These flowers were for a friend who likes a touch of black, so I added some black ribbon I had on hand.


Cut your fresh flowers to show just above the top of the vase.  Strip off greenery that will be below the water line.  Fill your vase with fresh water and add a couple of drops of bleach (this will help your flowers stay fresh longer).




Voila!  Quick, easy, and nearly free--and so pretty!

Got an idea of an inexpensive container for fresh flowers?  Please share!

**I'm joining Beth at Home Stories A to Z for her Tutorials and Tips party
 and Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for Tabletop Tuesday.**

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Updated master bathroom

We have a nice master bathroom--not huge or grand or terribly luxurious, but certainly not bad.  I'm grateful to have a master bath; it's wonderful to have a space that belongs just to Jack and me.  Yet this room had begun to look a bit tired.  Now, with two kids in college, "master bathroom remodel" is definitely not high on the list of expense priorities.  Anyone know what I mean?

I shopped the house and made a few changes for next to no money--and here's my new master bath!

Walking in the door:


My vanity:

Jack's side of the room, including the huge portrait of me (you can read about that here):

I made a number of small changes, most of them free.

The one purchase I made was a new rug to match the bath towels.  This is the only bathroom in which I don't use white towels, by the way.  I'm picky about bathroom rugs--I like a rubber backing so that the rug doesn't skid.  And I like for my bathroom rugs to be machine-washable and dryable.  I finally found a rug that fit my criteria at JCPenney.  $38 was all I spent on this room re-do.

Some time ago I rescued an ottoman from the thrift store and covered it in a blue and brown houndstooth to match my bedding.  Here's what it looked like before:


Not too beautiful, is it?  But a little work with my staple gun cured that.  Here's the bedding that matches this ottoman:


Now the ottoman serves as a handy seat beside the garden tub.  Beside it sits a basket holding some extra towels and a bamboo back scratcher.


I had this blue glass bottle which seemed to want to hang out with the ottoman, so I moved it onto the tub ledge.  I filled some vases with sand and added small pillar candles from my stash to complete that corner.


In the other corner, I already had a jar of sponges and soaps and a jar of bath salts.  I mixed a couple of drops of blue food coloring into the bath salts and voila!  Another touch of blue.


On my side of the bathroom, I added a lamp that used to be in my master bedroom.  It's just the right size for that slanted wall.  I like having a lamp in the bathroom--it feels so elegant!  Now I need to save my pennies for MirrorMates, don't you think?



The vanity chair is an old dining room chair that I spray-painted with Rustoleum's Heirloom White and re-covered in another fabric from my bedding.  I sit here to fix my hair.  

Here's a photo with the lamp turned off.   I already had the cute frames that look like perfume bottles.  They hold photos of my boys from when they were preschoolers.  Gosh, where did the time go?


I had an old soap dispenser that used to be brown--I spray painted it a light aqua color, flecked on some dark aqua spots, and then rubbed on some silver Rub 'n' Buff to accent the details.


Now to make some time to soak in that tub.  That may take more work than re-decorating the room!

Do you have a master bathroom?   If so, how do you keep it looking fresh and lovely?  Please share your ideas!

Note:  The wall color in this room is Sherwin Williams Craftsman Brown.  The master bedroom is painted with Sherwin Williams Mystery Green. 

I'm linking to these wonderful parties:

Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style
Saturday Seven at Positively Splendid

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to school: teacher gift


This week is back-to-school time at our house, so I thought I'd share this project from several years ago.  I still love this idea!

DIY Vase for a teacher's desk


Supplies: inexpensive vase with straight sides, pencils
Tools: glue gun
(Note: I bought a vase for $1 at Wal-Mart as well as some cheap pencils. You can use very cheap pencils because they don't have to write well--they're just for looks. My vase required 22 pencils to cover the entire outside.)



Simply apply hot glue to sides of vase and glue pencils all the way around the vase. That's it!



You've got a perfect vase for a teacher's desk.



And look how cute it looks with some grocery store flowers and a bit of ribbon.



Easy as pie, quick to put together, inexpensive. But much appreciated by a hard-working teacher.

Do you like to give your kids' teachers gifts?  What are your favorite gift ideas?  Please share!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Restaurant-quality bruschetta


We don't have a big garden, but we DO have tomatoes and herbs, which is enough to make my garden-vegetable-loving heart very happy.  One of my favorite things to make is bruschetta topping, and it's so simple.  It makes a wonderful appetizer or a great lunch for a busy mom.

The term bruschetta (pronounced broo-sket-ta, by the way; the "ch" in Italian makes the hard "k" sound) actually applies to the roasted bread.  The bread in Italy is so good; it's easy to imagine that people would have found creative ways to use day-old bread.  Slices of bread are usually rubbed with a bit of olive oil and garlic, and the bread is delicious on its own.  But with a topping made from fresh tomatoes, it's heavenly!



We ordered bruschetta at several restaurants in Rome this summer, and I was pleased to see that my homemade version stacked up quite favorably compared to theirs.

To make it, you simply chop tomatoes and stir in a bit of chopped fresh garlic, lots of chopped fresh basil, salt and pepper to taste, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Serve with any good bread or heaped on top of toasted bread slices.  Here's the recipe:

Bruschetta topping

1 pound fresh tomatoes, washed and chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, finely chopped
fresh basil leaves, chopped (I use a LOT!)
1-2 Tablespoons good olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Stir garlic into tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle in olive oil.  Gently fold in chopped basil.  Add a little more olive oil, salt, or pepper if needed.  Serve with roasted slices of bread.  Enjoy!




**Do you love fresh tomatoes and basil as much as I do?  What do you make with them?

I'm joining these fun parties:

Tips and Tutorials at Home Stories A to Z

Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam


Friday, August 10, 2012

Decorating my dining room

Have you noticed that dining rooms are becoming passe'?

It seems that more and more people are turning their formal dining rooms into offices, craft rooms, libraries, or other spaces that will be used more often.  And I understand that.  But I'm so glad to have a dining room.

I love the fact that there's a room in my house that's only used upon occasion.  For me, that means it stays clean--which means that it's ready for any kind of use at a moment's notice!  Our dining room table gets used for meals only once in a while, and it also gets used as the buffet table at showers and parties.  Aside from that, though, it's a great spot for the food spread at a shower or party. it's a good place for meetings, tutoring sessions, interviews--any sort of gathering of people that benefits from having a table and chairs.

I usually just keep a porcelain footbath with a green plant in the center of the table.  This is easy to move if I want to use the table at a moment's notice.























For holidays, I change the centerpiece, like this basket at Easter surrounded by my mom's egg collection at Easter:


I keep the footbath and fill it with ornaments at Christmas:


My dining room decor is based on a rug that I've had for many years.  I love this Karastan rug, and I'm constantly amazed at how well it hides dirt and dog hair.  And just look at all the colors!


I pulled a blue from the rug and had my wall paint color custom-mixed.  I like deep colors in a dining room.  After many years of having red walls, I'm really enjoying the French blue.  The blue might be a bit overwhelming if it covered the entire wall, but above the chair rail I think it looks smashing.  And as you can see, this room has lots of white trim and built-ins that really pop against the dark walls.


My dining room table, china cabinet, and tea table were my mother's.  Queen Anne furniture is not my favorite, but I am thrilled to have my mom's furniture.  The primitive sideboard I really like.  My mom and dad found it at an estate sale years ago.  I'd love to know the history of this piece.



My favorite piece in the room is the deacon's bench that serves as seating for one side of the table.  This deacon's bench was in the little church in Kansas that my grandmother attended all her life.  My mother was baptized and married in that little church, and I have fond memories of visiting it when I was a kid. The congregation moved into another building several years ago and the old church building was torn down.  My grandmother was given this deacon's bench, and I was blessed to inherit it.


My dining room decor is a mix of treasured pieces, inexpensive accessories,  and DIY decor.  For instance, I made the floral pillow that graces my treasured deacon's bench.  I also made the toile candles that sit on the china cabinet.


Of course, I love making special decorations at Christmastime, like the swags in the windows.  Because these windows are untreated, I can also add fun touches like the ornaments hanging from ribbons.


Do you have a dedicated dining room in your house?  Do you use it?

I'm joining Kelly at Kelly's Korner for her Show Us Your Life party. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Quick, easy birthday gift

Ever need a quick birthday gift for a kid?  Or get tired of giving the same old Target gift card?  Me, too.

My own children assure me that kids love to receive money as a gift, even more than gift cards.  But tucking a bill into a card doesn't seem like much fun to me.

Here's a fun way to give a money gift.  Obtain dollar bills, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies in the number of years that the birthday boy or girl is celebrating.  For instance, here's the money you'd need for a gift for a 5-year-old:


Now package the money however you like--in a small gift bag, in a clear plastic bag tied with festive ribbon, or maybe in a little bucket from the dollar store, like this:

This made a great birthday gift for a total cost of $7.05 plus an extra dollar for the packaging.  (And since I had the spare change just sitting in a drawer, it felt like it only cost $5.00.)  Not a bad price for a fun birthday gift!

Needless to say, this gets more expensive for the older the kids get, but for younger kids it's lots of fun.  I've made a tradition of giving this gift to my boys every year, starting when the oldest turned five.  It's an extra little gift from Mom to the boys.  This year, Will's gift totalled $29.61 of cash.  I asked the boys if they felt like they'd outgrown this little tradition, and Preston replied, "Are you kidding?  We'll never outgrow this!"  I'm hoping that I'm still around when they turn 40; it would be fun to wrap up $56.40 in small bills and loose change and watch them open it.

Have any ideas for quick and easy kid's gifts?  Please share!

I'm joining Beth at Home Stories A to Z for Tutorials and Tips
Vanessa and Heather At the Picket Fence for Inspiration Friday