Category Archives: Living room

DIY Picture Ledges

Is it just me, or does anyone else like to update a room every few years or so?  Jer thinks I am crazy, especially when I talk about redoing things that he thinks of as ‘done,’  Every time I look through old photos or blog posts and realize how long a picture has been hanging in the same place or the walls have been a certain color, I get the urge to start changing things.  I just tell Jer that is what he gets for marrying an interior designer!

Lately I have been feeling the need to give our living room a bit of an update.  It was one of the first rooms that I painted when we moved into our home almost five years ago.

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One of the main walls has a gallery wall full of photos and art that are fun and meaningful to our family.  I have added to the wall over the years, but it is getting too full to add much more.  I started thinking about some options that would allow me to rearrange the wall and change out items a lot more easily, and with fewer nails pounded into the wall.

blank wall

Hanging picture ledges was an obvious solution.  Picture ledges are screwed into the wall and then you can just lean your photos and art on it without the more ‘permanent’ nails.  This means you can layer items, and you can also switch them out a lot more easily.  I have looked at hundreds of images for inspiration, but this one is what finally motivated me:

one kings lane_rebecca minkoff_FAMILY PORTRAIT IN FRONT OF GALLERY WALL

I have looked into purchasing picture ledges, but most were either too small, too expensive or not good quality.  This week, I decided to tackle building my own ledges.  After researching several tutorials and plans on the internet, I found Ana White’s Ten Dollar Ledge tutorials.  She has both written instructions and a video.  Both are very helpful if you are relatively new to woodworking.  I ended up purchasing four 8-foot 1×4 boards and two 8-foot 1×2 boards.

ledge wood

My ledges would be called Twelve Dollar Ledges (inflation since 2010), but that is still a great price.  I also purchased a Kreg jig to make pocket holes, so I could hide the screws on the underside of the shelf.

jig set up

It was incredibly cool and rewarding to end up with such a sturdy and professional-looking product when it was finished.

 jig hole

I built two 6-foot ledges for our living room wall, and plan to use the remaining 2-foot pieces to make bookshelves for our kids.  Many people paint their picture ledges black or white, but I decided a light pine stain would give me the desired look.  

Stained ledge1

I can always paint later if we get tired of the wood.  Once the ledges were aired-out enough to bring into the house, I marked their placement on the wall and located the studs.  

Underneath view

(The above picture reminds me; make sure the boards you purchase are straight.  I laid all mine on the floor on all sides, and still one of the 1×2 pieces ended up a little wonky on the end).  

Since the ledges are 6 feet long and will be holding quite a number of pictures, I wanted them to be as secure as possible on the wall.  To make sure they were in the right place and level, I first used painter’s tape as a guide.  I screwed in the center screw first, and then rechecked to make sure it was level before putting in more.

pic ledge measure and level

Once the ledges were hung safely on the wall, it was time to arrange the pictures.  My ledges are about 4 inches deep, which means there is room to layer frames, and I can also add in smaller objects for display.  

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I started by placing the larger frames in the background, and then began adding in the medium and small frames.  I am sure things will be rearranged often, but to me that makes it the perfect solution.  I quickly realized that the round frames were not going to work on the ledge, so I ended up hanging them on the wall instead.

Final ledge

We can have the gallery of photos and art we love, but I can change things up whenever things start to look stale.  I finally got around to updating some of the photos and filling in some blank spots.  I still want to repaint soon, but this little project helped give me a needed change in only a few hours.

 

Curtains, Drapes and Blinds, Oh My!

*For those of you around Pocatello, I am teaching “The Organized Home: Clean Sweep” on Monday, February 9, from 6-8:30 pm!  Sign up through ISU Workforce Training!

I know I am not the only one who finds this time of year a little depressing.  One way I try to combat the short days and cold weather is to open up the shades and let the daylight in for as many hours as possible.  I am much more likely to open the window treatments if they are quick and easy to operate.  Here are a few suggestions that will help you let the sun shine in during those precious daylight hours:

1. Hang your curtains or drapes high and wide.  Hanging the fabric almost entirely outside of the window frame allows much more of the window (and daylight) to be open and visible.  Hanging the panels 6-9 inches above the window makes your room appear taller.  While I have always tried to do this, the curtains in our living room were too short to hang much above the window. IMG_6351We lived for a short time with the left curtains still lower and the right ones raised up! This photo really shows how much difference it made to raise the curtains higher.IMG_6630I recently purchased longer curtain panels, so we raised both rods to the 8-foot ceiling.  We were amazed how much taller and bigger our living room appeared!

2. Make the window treatment easy to open.  If it is tedious to pull back the drapes, it is less likely to get done.  Our living room curtain panels have grommets at the top so they slide easily on the rod, and I open them every day.  Ring clips also work well for simple fabric panels.  If you invest in heavier drapes, make sure you also get quality, smooth running pulls.  IMG_6613

3. Consider layering window treatments.  For our bedroom, we have inexpensive bamboo stick blinds layered under floor-to-ceiling curtain panels.  The curtains usually stay open all the time, and we just open and close the blinds.  IMG_6615The blinds are also hung to the ceiling, concealing the bit of wall between the ceiling and the top of the window.  Hanging blinds high allows more of the actual window to be free, making it appear larger.

4. Research your options.  Although I love the look and added softness (and color) of fabric window treatments, we chose a different route for the kids’ room.  Floor to ceiling curtain panels took up too much wall space in the already small room.  I also worried about them being pulled down accidentally.  I don’t particularly like the look of shorter curtains, so instead I purchased white blackout roller shades at IKEA. IMG_6637 They are very easy to open and close, and the wall below the window is now open for play.

IMG_6644To keep afternoon light from overpowering the kitchen, I shortened a bamboo blind originally designed for a french door.

5. Window treatments should compliment your lifestyle and the style of your home.  Proper drapes with heavier fabrics will make a room feel more formal.  A boxy valance is also formal, but can give a bedroom a luxe hotel vibe.  For a playful look, try a bold pattern or use unique accessories as a tieback (think leather belts, chains, men’s ties).  For us, washable curtain fabrics help keep living with kids a little more carefree.

How about you? Do you open your curtains first thing in the morning, or is it something that doesn’t even cross your mind?

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Fun Fireplace Makeover

Are you living with a fireplace that doesn’t fit your personal style?  You will be amazed at how a few simple changes can take your fireplace from an eyesore to a beautiful focal point in the room.

This spring, I worked with a young couple in Pocatello to turn their outdated fireplace into one that fit the couple’s more rustic modern aesthetic.  While the fireplace looked okay with the original wallpaper, as soon as it was removed and the wall repainted, it just didn’t fit with the colors and mood of the living room.

 The first thing we did was to find images of fireplaces that we liked, and then we worked on budget-friendly methods to get their fireplace headed in that direction.

Many people don’t realize that decorative moulding and filigrees are usually just glued or tacked on to the exterior.  Unless you live in an historical home, a lot of the frilly fretwork just makes for more difficult dusting, especially if it doesn’t tie in architecturally with the rest of the home.  We removed the extra detailing from my client’s fireplace to give it a more clean and modern look.  Be aware that the outlines will probably show, so you will need to fill a few small holes and sand it down for re-staining or painting.

We chose to paint the wood parts of the fireplace in this home.  The base-moulding and window benches on both sides of the room are all painted white, so the honey colored wood really didn’t fit in with the rest of the room.  Another option we discussed was to stain or paint the fireplace a darker color.  I photoshoped an image of the fireplace to give the couple an idea of what it would look like with several options, and we all agreed on a soft white.  My clients used heat-safe appliance spray paint to turn the gold vents on the fireplace black.

To add a bit of rustic charm to the fireplace, I designed a custom mantle cover using reclaimed barnwood.  We had the very talented Joe Borgeman, owner of Fall River Cabinets in Ashton, build the mantle according to our specifications, and then we just slid it over the top of the existing mantle and secured it.  The weathered gray of the barnwood complemented the existing gray-flecked tile and tied together the other elements in the room.  The added height and thickness of the mantle also gave more prominence to the fireplace and enhanced its place as the natural focal point of the room.

I styled the mantle for summer with some cool, beachy blues that really compliment the gray-green walls.  The painting, picture frames, blue bowl, basket and blanket were all purchased at TJ Maxx.

To make it more kid-friendly, I would remove the tall vase and flowers.  Here are a few more detail shots and some different angles.

If you are thinking about updating your own fireplace, consider staining it a different color, painting it, building a facade, adding tile or replacing tile.  To start your very own fireplace transformation, find some images of fireplaces or mantles you like.  With a little elbow grease you will soon have one that is more current and applicable to your personal style.  If you would like some help with your fireplace makeover or styling your mantle, fill out the Contact page we will schedule a time!

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A Growing Gallery Wall

I finally made some great progress on our living room gallery wall.  My article for ISJ (see below, at end) was what finally got me in gear.

The wall has been in the process for over a year, and I keep adding to it, or unintentionally taking away as the kids decide to remove a frame or two.  For awhile now, I have used all black frames of all sizes.  I liked black because it kept things somewhat cohesive, but it started to feel a little too neutral for my personal taste.  A few months ago, I came across a photo in Better Homes and Gardens featuring brightly colored frames, and I decided to add some color to our wall.  But first, I wanted to change all of the off-white mats to crisp white.  After trying acrylic craft paint, I discovered white spray paint worked much, much better!

But, the white spray paint also gave me the idea that it might be fun to just paint some of the mats bright colors, instead of repainting frames…and so I did.

Similar to giving a mouse a cookie is giving Becky a can of spray paint…it never stops.

On some double mats, I used a paint pen to add color to just one mat.  I also left some white, since my photos and art are also pretty colorful.

I recently added a large circular frame, because things were looking a little to squared for me. And on a recent Target trip, I came home with three fun circular gray mirrors. Since the lighting in the living room could be better, I hung a simple black wall sconce where it could be used for reading.

And another angle:

Plus, sometimes you accidentally end up with free art when you decide to randomly spray paint picture mats!

I am happy with how it is coming along, and very happy that it can be added to as we want to.  Obviously, I just hang pictures wherever I feel like it and don’t cut out templates from newspaper, like I suggest.  Nail holes are easy to patch, although I honestly didn’t have to rehang a single frame yesterday.  That sometimes isn’t the case.

How about you? Any gallery walls or new art hanging in your home?  I would love to hear all about it!

*Article I wrote for the Idaho State Journal, June 7, 2014, slightly edited for the blog.  I will link to flourishidaho.com when the link is available.

One of the things people ask me for help with most often is hanging art on a large wall.  Although one large piece of art can look fabulous taking center stage, often people either can’t afford or don’t want to commit to a large piece.  I think the ever-popular gallery wall is a great solution, especially since it typically infuses the room with your own personal style.  But, if the thought of pounding even one nail into the wall has you sweating, 10 or 15 nails might just delay your picture hanging progress indefinitely.  Here are a few tips to get you started with confidence.

 

1. Figure out the look you want to convey.  Do you like everything symmetrical and matching? Maybe you like something a little more random, but still neat and tidy? Maybe you prefer a look that is more organic and free-flowing.  Some of you will want a wall that is finished all at once, and others will want something that can be added to over time.  Take a look at gallery walls online if you aren’t sure what you prefer.

2. Decide what you want to incorporate.  Some gallery walls are made up of just family photographs, while others have a mix of photos and art pieces.  Still others have mirrors, decorative plates, text, hooks, etc. hung as a collection or mixed in with art and photos.  It is your wall, so make it personal to you and your family.

3. Choose your frames or items.  Look through the frames you already have and purchase more frames as needed. I pick up inexpensive frames at thrift stores, garage sales and discount home stores, and then I spray paint them if needed.  Many people choose all white, all black or all wood frames, but gold frames are also very popular right now.  In the past, I have used all black frames because I typically frame brightly colored photos and art and I wanted to keep the look cohesive.  I am currently enjoying the look of assorted frame colors and styles, so I am mixing things up a bit with some brightly colored frames mats. If you want a more formal look, try frames or items that are all the same size.

4. Experiment with different arrangements.  The best way to arrange your gallery wall is to gather all of your frames, art and miscellany together for the entire wall.  That way, you will be able to lay everything out and arrange it to your liking.  Another tip is to trace each frame onto an old piece of newspaper and cut it out. Then, tape each piece to the wall and get the placement correct before you start pounding in nails.  You can also mark where the nail needs to go, and then hammer it in right through the newspaper.  Consider a grid if you like symmetry, and use a level.   I typically start with the largest piece in the center, and work out from there, leaving about 3-5 inches between pieces on all sides.

5. Hang your art and enjoy the results. Consider hanging picture ledges and leaning your art and photos against the wall for a flexible and layered look.  Now, take a step back and enjoy your hard work.  Gallery walls always attract attention, so be prepared for people to linger!

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The January Cure, Assignments 13-19

Whew!  Last week flew by, and this one seems to be going even faster.  Which is good, because I don’t know how much longer I can keep from adding cream to my coffee on the Whole 30!  I can do it.  We are out of coffee filters, so I might just skip the coffee altogether for the last few days.

Anyway, we have been doing an okay job keeping up with the assignments from Apartment Therapy’s January Cure. My kids are still little messers, but at least I know in my heart that at some point in the last month, each space in our upstairs has been thoroughly cleaned and organized.

Assignment 13 was to get papers and files in order.  That one is still being worked on, but all of the paper piles in the kitchen and on my desk area have been dealt with.  It feels good. I also rearranged the living room a bit so the file cabinet (which we use as an end table) is much closer to my desk.  Before, it was clear across the room and blocked by a box.  Sometimes all it takes is a simple solution.  I also have a small filing system on my desk for things like bills, tear sheets from magazines, and kid’s art.

Assignment 14 was to deal with cords.  Jer was a trooper on this one and spent the evening cleaning his ‘office’ corner in our living room.  It was past due for a cleaning, so that was a giant bonus to this assignment. We finally brought our printer upstairs so that it could be used. Jer brought in the base of an old tool box that was given to us by a friend for some storage and spot for the printer. It is not perfect, but it works for us for now. Jer likes having a drawer to put all of his ‘toys’ that the kids often got into before.  I like not having to fish the ear buds out of little mouths.

Daddy and his Helpers, fixing the tool chest/printer cabinet.

Freshly cleaned and organized space.

Assignment 15 was to clean out medicine cabinets and drawers in the bathroom.  The medicine cabinet went quickly and I loved the result so much that I tackled the hall linen closet also.  I added some baskets there to corral some of Jer’s stuff and some of my extra decorating things.  I also use lots of little baskets for things like medicines and extra bathroom products.  It feels so much better now, even though it would probably look better if the baskets all lined up and matched. Ha!  I didn’t get to the drawers below the hall closet. Another day.

Linen closet.  Could still use some work, but SO much better than it was.

Assignment 16 was to declutter books and media.  This is the day I started on my livingroom/office shelves. They have been bothering me for a LONG time, but it was a daunting task.  I started by analyzing it and deciding where the problem spots were.  Mostly, it was just the two larger open shelves that were the biggest trouble.  That was where we put piled everything that needed to be out of reach of little hands.  It had become overwhelming and precarious, to say the least.  I started by emptying those shelves into a laundry basket (which I will soon have to deal with) and wiping them down.  I decided that to solve the problem of them becoming a junk receptacle, I would fill them completely with books.  I have all my design and art books upstairs by my desk for easy reference, and most of them are nice colors.  I like to organize these books by color, because it just makes sense and looks the best to me.  I filled those two shelves and called it a night.

Over the past few days, I have been working on my shelves (among other things, don’t worry), and I finally have them under control.  I have a serious magazine collection problem, but I went through and got rid of 10 magazines last night.  I plan to do a few each night, until my problem is handled.  The bottom four shelves on each side of my desk are pretty much filled with my kid’s books and games/puzzles/toys.  It works for us, except the littlest one loves to just pull books off the shelf.  He does look at them sometimes.  So, this picture was taken this morning after I put him down for a nap and before it gets messy again. Not kidding.

So.much.better.  You may notice that I moved the orange art and craft tubs from the top of the fridge to the upper right of the shelves. Working well so far.

Assignment 17 was called Weekend Chores: Flowers, Outbox, Living Room and Lighting.  Whew! Didn’t even think about the lighting yet.  Jer picked up a little bunch of purple flowers, I took one load (more to come) to the thrift store to donate, and I am still working on the living room. It has been vacuumed and dusted.  It is just not completely rearranged and sporting its new rug yet.  As I sit here writing this post, I am amazed at how much more relaxed I feel when these shelves are organized and my desk is cleaned off.  SO refreshing and positive that I might not even miss my coffee for the next few days. Maybe.