Category Archives: Living Room

December 11, 2012

Temporary Faux Fireplace

Both our current home and our previous home are lacking in the fireplace department. It’s definitely something on the top of our wish list for the addition come spring time, but we won’t have one in time for the holidays. So, every year about this time we struggle to come up with a solution for Christmas stockings. Especially now that we’ve gone from three to four of them. But not this year!

Instead of trying to come up with a logical place to hang our stockings we just painted a temporary fireplace instead!

Paint a Temporary Chalkboard FIreplace via

We had some leftover chalkboard paint from our kitchen calendar wall, and it seemed like a fun paint option for the kiddos. And I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a blast to chalk my dream fireplace to life. We chose to paint it on the large, empty wall in the hallway that leads to the bedrooms. We’re hoping to do something fun here down the road, but for now it’s pretty bare. A perfect contender!

And for anyone looking to get better oriented, here’s a few shots to better explain the placement of the fireplace.

Paint a Temporary Chalkboard FIreplace via

I started by taping off the outside shape with painters tape. Frog Tape if you want it done right 🙂 As far as the shape goes, I started by first sketching a fireplace shape on paper, based on a few inspiration pics I had, and then measured everything out on the wall.

Paint a Temporary Chalkboard FIreplace via

I don’t always lay down a drop cloth when painting, but I’ve noticed in the past that the chalkboard paint tends to splatter off the roller quite a bit. Maybe it’s just my own experience, but thought it’d be good to know for first-timers. About three coats of paint later she was looking pretty good.

Paint a Temporary Chalkboard FIreplace via

You’ll notice the roller marks in the photo above, but I snapped this just after painting, so they blended in as everything dried. I could not wait to rip that tape off!

Paint a Temporary Chalkboard FIreplace via

I ended up outlining the fireplace shape with the chalk. This gave it more of a finished look, rather than the just the lines of the dark paint up against the gray walls. I think the contrast was just a little much.

I’m definitely not the best artist in town by any means, so when it was time to draw the actual fire I turned to google for some inspirational pics. Turns out, I’m not the first person to chalk a temporary fireplace! Which I’m very thankful for since the fire below was exactly the look I was going for! Since we’re hoping to have a real fireplace by the time next Christmas rolls around, we were only concerned for a one-year option, but I’m loving what they did for a more long-term option!

Faux Mantel Wall Hanging


 Something else worth mentioning, we tried to use command strips to hang the stockings – ultimate fail. Not sure what the exact problem was, maybe the strips weren’t meshing with the chalkboard paint, but they all fell down several times within the first 24 hours. So, it may not be as pretty, be we switched them out with push-pins. So far so good 🙂

Paint a Temporary Chalkboard FIreplace via

Any other fireplace/ mantel alternatives out there? I was really surprised at the lack of options on the web. We can’t be the only ones without a fireplace…


November 9, 2012

Large Custom Art Prints Tutorial (Part Two)

A few weeks ago I shared some super easy do-it-yourself art prints that are currently living beside our television. Since that time, several readers have come forward asking for more details. So, here I am to spill the beans!

The original post had some basic details about how to go through this process. I’ll be honest here. I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that people actually read what I write, and maybe even want to do these things themselves. So bare with me if my past posts are a bit light and lack the detail that they should. I promise to get better at this. You have my virtual word.

Buying Frames:

Alrighty. The first step I would recommend, before even thinking about designing anything, is to buy your frames. As I mentioned, we picked up two of Ikea’s Ribba frames. The reason for this? Measurements lie. You can look specifically on Ikea’s website and the measurements read 19 3/4″ W x 27 1/3″ H. Which we trusted, and ordered the prints accordingly. So, you can imagine our disappointment when they arrived and didn’t fit in the frames. And not just a “barely didn’t fit“. I’m talking we had to shave off nearly an inch on both the height and width. Basically, it’s better to be safe and measure the frame yourself, than having to risk cutting down the print and possibly ruining it.

Designing the Artwork:

I’m going to walk you through what I did, but this is obviously artwork and the more custom the better. So make it your own and don’t be afraid to veer off from what I’ve done. There’s no better place to break the rules than here. I used Photoshop Elements to layout our prints, but I’m sure there are plenty of other programs that could’ve been used just as easily. This is just the program I prefer to work with. Also, I am in no shape or form a Photoshop expert. There are probably other ways (and better ways) to go about this. This is just what I found to be the easiest for me.

I began by opening up a new blank file. You’ll want to insert your frame dimension here. I used 18.75″W x 26.5″H (removing 1″ from each side to fit the frame). 300 resolution is best for printing, anything higher is unnecessary.

This tutorial is so easy. I can not stress that enough. You literally use a total of three tools. Three, people.

Move tool, type tool, and color.

To begin inserting dates I selected the type tool, chose a font family (we used 28 Days Later, free download), selected the font size (300 pt in this case), and finally the color (the dark gray is #565555 and the mustard yellow is #e3ca5b). The numbers are all individual. For instance, in the last line 03 is a set, 12 is a set, and another 12 set. The only exception to this is the 11 (third row down) where I had to split the numbers from each other to match the spacing of the others.

There’s probably some fancy grid layout that I don’t know about and would make my life so much easier, but here’s how I went about centering all the dates to one another. The Align Tool. You simply select all the dates you wish to line up (hold the shift key to select multiples). For example, select 07, 04, 11, 02, and 03 to align them vertically.  Once the dates are selected, chose the Align tool at the top of the toolbar, and the “horizontal centers” from the drop down menu. Voila, aligned. As for spacing the the numbers out, again probably a better way to do this, but I just eye’d everything. You’ll just want to make sure that the spacing to edge of the canvas is the same all around for a cohesive look.

Once you have a design that you’re happy with, you’ll want to save it as jpeg to your desktop.

Print Those Beauties:

Now you’re ready to print! As I touched on in the earlier post, I used FedEx Office, costing us around $50 for the two. We didn’t do a whole lot of comparison shopping, only ybecause we’ve worked with them before and had great results. I’m sure there are several other companies for printing, and possibly even a less expensive alternative.

You’ll want to go to the FedEx Office website to begin and select the “start online order” button.

Which will bring you to this screen, where you can “set up a document”.

After selecting the “upload from your computer” option, a pop-up will allow you to select the jpeg document that you’ve saved to your desktop. Open it.

FedEx will then upload your document, which may take a few minutes depending on the file size. Once it’s completely uploaded you’ll get a little purple warning saying “this is not standard type file”. Select the “review options” button.

A pop-up box will then give you a few file type options. Select the second option, “make a large print”.

Then you’ll be taken back to the loading screen where you’ll want to select “set print options” and then the “print and posters” option.

Another pop-up will appear giving you options to customize the paper. Change the selection from “posters/print packages” to “custom prints & posters”. For this print specifically, you’ll want the portrait orientation option and the custom size of 25.5″H and 18.75″ W. Under “Paper Stock” I chose heavyweight paper with no sheen, but that’s just a personal preference. I also chose not to have lamination or mounting. Again, up to you.

After selecting to continue you’ll be taken to review your options where you can either chose to checkout or add more items to the order. And although I rarely choose this option, I love that the checkout gives you the choice to pick-up the order at a FedEx location. Save some shipping mulah. Just a heads up, once you’ve filled out the shipping and billing information, FedEx usually gives you a call to confirm all the information. Being fairly new at all this, I really appreciate this step because I’m always afraid I’ve messed something up filling out so much information online. It’s like my FedEx mom checking my homework before I turn it at class the next day. Thanks ma!

* And despite how much this is starting to sound like I’m on the FedEx team, we are not paid or perked for anything said here. Just our honest opinions sharing what we love. 

Now just okay the phone call and you can call this artwork Dunzo. And yes, I realize that this post has become incredibly long, but I wanted to make sure to cover all the details. No matter how simple they may be. Hope this cleared up any questions you guys may have had from the original post! If I’ve left anything out, feel free to ask away in the comment section. Also, any photoshop experts out there that have any extra tips or advice, PLEASE do tell!

October 23, 2012

DIY Mason Jar Vase & Key Hooks

Since it’s unlikely that the mudroom portion of the laundry room will be completed by this winter, we’ve been brainstorming on a quick fix for the collection of jackets and coats forming by the front door. We have a wooden coat tree from our last home, but the entryway is already so tight with the office crammed in, that we wanted something smaller. I’d come across this brilliant little key/ coat hook combo a few months ago and planned to buy one eventually. Well, ever since we started building nearly every piece we can for our home, I decided it would definitely be something I’d rather DIY. Just for the sake of it being built by us. Ricky is loving this new approach to things, ha. Thankfully, this was an easy project, taking us maybe 20 minutes tops.

We started with some basic supplies.

– 21″W x 5″L piece of pallet wood, leftover from our pallet wallFree

– (3) oil rubbed bronze hooks picked up from Home Depot – Under $10 for all three

– Large Mason Jar – Just over $1 with coupon from Michaels

– 4″ Pipe Clamp – From the plumbing section at Home Depot for about $3

Total Spent – $14

After cutting down a piece of pallet wood to the size we preferred, it was mostly using screws to attach the pipe clamp and hooks to the wood from there. We slipped the mason jar into the pipe clamp, tightened it up, popped in some flowers, and called it a day. Well, with this project at least.

She sits just to the left of the front door (looking from the inside of the house), and is the perfect drop spot for our keys and jackets. It’s definitely not enough room for several guests, but we have bigger plans down the road for that. Possibly once the addition is complete and my desk/ office area are out of the way! For now, we’re enjoying having things off the floor 🙂

October 11, 2012

Privacy Please

Notice anything?

Yep, we finally broke down and decided to spare our neighbors the daily dance parties going on in our living room… with newly added window treatments. They always make such a difference in any room. Something “homey” about have curtains. Also, the privacy is a plus. Now I don’t have to wear pants. I’ve been waiting so long.

I kid, I kid.

And on a serious note, the window panels really don’t do much for privacy. We hung them so they just graze the the sides of the window, in hopes of making the window feel larger. Which isn’t necessary, because it’s already giant for the room size.

We’ve toyed with the idea of some kind of shade or blind in addition to the curtains. But being that this won’t be our permanent living room (the addition will house a second space), we’re thinking the extra privacy won’t be such a big deal when we’re spending less time in here.

As much as I’m obsessing over this room being finished right now, I’m also dying to get that giant sectional out of the middle of the room. It’s such a cramped area behind it and into the entryway. Plus my office is hanging out back there. It’s way too much function for one space. But for now, it’s our only option. Spring time couldn’t come soon enough. We can’t wait to get this addition project rolling.

These pictures really don’t do the window panel colors justice. Somehow the light gray in the pattern managed to match the dresser and the dark gray matches the sectional. To a tee. It’s good.

The window treatments are the Tali Printed Panels from West Elm by the way. I really wanted to DIY some with my own fabric, but after DIYing the pallet wall, the media console, and the custom art, I was ready for something easy. Which didn’t exactly happen because I ended up having to hem them anyways. But for the record, I used no sew Heat n Bond.

October 10, 2012

DIY Custom Art Prints

I love me some good artwork. However, if you were to take a walk throughout our home, you would never know that. I can count on a single hand the amount of original pieces we have in our house. No wait. None of them are original, they’re all prints. So, we have zero. I would LOVE to buy some amazing originals and support the artists that are oh-so talented, but we’re on a tight budget around here and art isn’t cheap. When I do actually buy a piece, or even browse, it’s usually on sites like Etsy or one of my personal favorites, Society 6. I like how you can still find quality pieces that are unique and affordable. (Again, not paid just sharing what we love.)

The catch? I’m a DIY’er at heart, and if I think for one second that I can replicate something, or even enhance it to make it more “me”… Not buying. Sometimes I may even spend a little more (although not much!) just for the satisfaction that I made the piece. It’s actually probably a blessing that I struggle with sewing, or I may not buy a thing for our home, or the kids for that matter. So, as I was browsing Etsy one evening and ran into these two prints (from separate shops) you can imagine what went through my head.


First piece, whoa… that’s amazing. I absolutely adore the custom dates. Such a personal piece to have displayed in your home and I’m digging the way the numbers are arranged… But I wish there was a touch of color… and I would change up the font a bit… and remove the names… and align things a bit differently. See where I’m going with this?

Second piece, instantly inspired! I could not possibly come up with a quote that better motivates me to do good things with my life. It’s straight to the point and easy to read as I walk by throughout the day. I also love the thought of the girls growing up to someday read this quote and hopefully being just as inspired to be the best them they can be. Cheesy, but true. Next thought. Hmm? I have similar fonts in photoshop… and I could pick the exact colors used… and the size… and I’ve DIYed large prints before in our previous home. Totally do-able.

Not buying.

This definitely doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy their prints! They’re absolutely great pieces and I would be whipping out the mulah if I wasn’t so cheap. Not to mention overly particular (compulsive even) with every single detail that goes into them. Perfectionist, maybe. Controlling, ha. Tried to sugar coat that one.

Point of this ramble, I decided to make these prints myself. I used Photoshop Elements. Which, tangent – if you’re wishing you had Photoshop for a small business or even personal use, Elements is where it’s at. The $700 price tag for Photoshop didn’t sit to well for us, so I gave Elements a try. Mind blown. Everything I need for the blog, plus more. I think we got ours at around $60 with a coupon. The newer version is priced at $90 on Amazon right now, and I see coupons floating around all the time.

Anyway… I spent about an hour messing around with different designs and fonts before I finally settled. The font I used is “28 days later”, available for free download here. Then I uploaded them to FedEx Office, sent out the order for two large prints, and 48 hours later I had them at my doorstep. Love that. Also, if you’re looking to print your own artwork, know that I went with all the basic options when ordering online. Nothing fancy. I picked up two of Ikea’s Ribba frames to display them in and had instant custom art work.

My favorite part about making digital artwork yourself if the ability to go back at a later date and tweak it. Say we change up color schemes, want a new quote, or gasp.. have another baby to add to the dates print!

Speaking of, just for kicks I’ll walk you through the importance of the dates we used. They read horizontally and we used a dd/mm/yy format. Starting at the top.

07/0/07 – We closed on our first home.

04/24/10 – Our wedding date (my parent’s as well, awww).

11/05/10 – Zoey’s birth date.

02/10/12 – We closed on our second home.

03/12/12 – Lizzy’s birth date.

And yes, I’m fully aware that those dates are not in “correct” order, haha. For example, closing on our first home three years before getting married. Or Zoey’s birth only seven short months after we married. What can I say? We do things a bit different around here.

Also, in case anyone is wondering, the yellow “7,5, and 2” have very significant importance to us and just happened to be perfectly aligned diagonally. Gotta love that.

I really impressed with the quality of the prints. They came out perfectly, although I did end up trimming them down just a bit. We’ll definitely order just a tad smaller than the recommended frame size next time. We ended up paying about $50 for both prints including shipping. Not bad considering they measure about 20″ x 28″.

 We’ll have one more living room update for you tomorrow (that has yet to be seen!) and then we may just be calling this room D.O.N.E. Well, other than me constantly switching up decor. We all know that will never end 🙂

Update: A new post with a detailed tutorial can be found here for the custom art prints!