Monday, October 22, 2012

How to Get Started on a DIY Project

Recently several of my friends have told me that they want to do a DIY project, but either don't know where to begin, or that they feel overwhelmed at all that will need to be done, so they don't start.

I thought I would talk about how I go about my DIY projects. Maybe my approach won't work for you, but it might, or it might spark an idea on how to get yourself started.


When I decide I want to do a project, the first thing I do is start collecting images. I used to do this with magazines, glue sticks, and sketchbooks, but now I primarily use Pinterest. Even if I find an image in a magazine, I can usually find that image online with a little searching. I create a different Pinterest Board for each project.

For example, I am currently working on my bedroom, and I'm sure you will see the correlation between my Pinterest Board for my bedroom, here: and the Bedroom so far, as shown here:

The Power of Lists

Once I am ready to commit to the project, I start to make a list. My first list is wild and random, listing everything and anything I can think of that I will need to do. I usually break it down like this:

  • Things I need to do (give away, sort, paint, ask, borrow, etc.)
  • Things I need to buy
My first version of this list is always overwhelming, and sometimes repetitive. I don't try to be organized, I try to just imagine every corner of the room, plus the ceiling and floor, and what will need to be done there, and what I need to do to make it happen.

My next step is to create a new organized series of lists. I go into the "things to buy" and sort it by type (for example, things I would buy at a hardware store, things I would find online, things I might go thrifting for, etc.) When I have it organized, I use a highlighter to highlight the things I need first, and what I can currently afford.

Next, I go to the "things to do" list, which is usually a crazy mess. I sort it by categories; things to sort/give away, things I need to physically accomplish (paint, sand, cut, collage, etc.), and then a miscellaneous list of things like - questions I need answered, things I might borrow or beg vs. buy, etc.

Again, I go in and highlight the very first things I can do / afford.

Figure it Out! There is Always a Way!

If you are looking at your list and think, there is no way I can afford to do this . . . then you weren't creative enough in making your lists!

You don't have to have the latest / newest item. There is no reason you can reupholster a piece of furniture, or paint it, etc. I know from experience that things you create yourself have way more meaning for you than things you just buy and set up in a room. 

There are SO MANY step-by-step resources on the internet, that there is no reason you can't DIY anything you need to do. I have learned to wire lamps, hang chandeliers, and change out a manual thermostat for a programmable one - all by looking for online tutorials!

Don't forget inexpensive sources for materials such as Restore, local thrift shops, Craigslist, and garage sales.

If you want it bad enough, you will figure out how to do it.

Do What You Can Do as You Can Do It!

Not every room redesign requires getting rid of existing furniture. If it does, I usually try to get rid of things I won't be keeping in the room at the same time I'm getting whatever I will be replacing it with, because I don't love living in a place with no furniture! But, I like taking photos of things I'm getting rid of and offering them to family and friends, so that when the time comes, I know who is getting it, and how I'm going to get it out of my house. 

If possible, I repurpose things in my house (never underestimate the power of paint to give an item a brand new look!), and I tend to keep pictures and art in storage because even if I don't use the art again, I may use the frame, or repaint the canvas, and those are things I don't have to purchase.

I also like to talk to local friends and family about projects, because you will be amazed at how many times I've said I wanted something, and someone said, "Oh, I have one of those in my garage . . . you can have it!" 

Money Saving Tactics

Free Shipping Options

I shop online a lot, and I have paid for memberships at Amazon and for their free shipping plans. Because between myself, my family, and my clients, I have so many things delivered, these plans have more than paid for themselves.

Another option is to go to and look for sites specifically offering free shipping.

Be Willing to Customize

One way that I have saved a lot of money in furnishing this house is that I never worry about the color of furniture. I have repainted many of the brand new pieces I've brought into the house, but I have saved a TON of money over being forced to pay more for an item that is an exact match to something I already have.

If an item is the right shape and size, and made of a material that can be painted, I will purchase it in the cheapest color, and then customize it to my home when it arrives. 

The upside to this is that all of my furniture is unique - even if someone wants the same piece, they would have to be willing to do the same work to get their item to look just like mine! (Which would be fine with me, if they want to do that work!)

Beg / Borrow Limited Use Tools

I have accumulated a lot of tools, but if I need something for a one-time project that I don't foresee using again, I will start asking around. Friends will often lend me a tool. Because my house is organized, and I take good care of my own tools, they know I will take care of theirs as well. (Plus, on the rare occasion that someone hasn't wanted to lend me a tool, I have had friends offer just to come over and do whatever I needed done for me!)

Get Started

Once you have your lists completed, and you have highlighted those first couple of affordable / doable steps, then get started. Projects tend to have a momentum of their own. When something arrives for the project, it is hard to let it just sit there! You want to get to work on it, and the more you do, the more you want to do.

Each time you cross something off your list, highlight the next item to be done. I often write my highlighted items on a post it note and keep them in my calendar so that if I'm out and about and see something that might help, it is there to remind me. This is especially important with shopping lists!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Update Bedroom Photos - still in progress

The bedroom is still in progress, so I thought I would show you how things are moving along . . .

So, this is what the bedroom looked like last time I showed you . . . 

As I mentioned, I added a chandelier to the center of the room. After searching for a small, but affordable chandelier, I found this one for $79.99 at It started like this:

I removed the crystals, and spray painted it purple, and then replaced the crystals, adding more with purple crystals I purchased on eBay.

Here it is after being hung, the color of the chandelier doesn't show as well with the bulbs lit.

The color of the chandelier is much closer to the color of the drapes and canopy, as shown here:

I also added a side table to the left side of the bed, and added a scarf and a few knickknacks. 

You may notice a small change on the headboard between the two photos above. I added an embellishment I purchased from D. Lawless Hardware.  The pieces come in raw wood.

I spray painted it silver to match the headboard. 

Here it is on the headboard. 

I think that it makes a big impact to the headboard; and much more in keeping with the overall Hollywood Regency theme I'm going for!

I've had a few questions about the mirrors I used on either side of the bed. They were called Versailles, and I purchased them through a catalog site called Home at Five, but they are no longer available through their site at present.

My new chair arrived today, but I'm still awaiting the side table and rug, as well as a new print for the wall. 

This is the chair I purchased (for just $129!), but I have painted the legs silver:

 This is the side table to go with it:

And this is the art for the wall, which I purchased in 18" x 24" canvas.  I will be adding another canvas, but I want to see this one in person first!

Other work to be done:

My original plan was to paint the tables on either side of the bed silver, but now I'm unsure that I want that much silver together. I may decide to paint them silver, and then silver leaf it so that it would have a different look from the headboard and not be so "matchy-matchy". 

Also, my bed linens, etc. are still in progress. I'm looking for shams the right color, etc.

I have to re-hem my drapes, as well. I got confused with the measurements the first time, and left them 8" too long - but much better to have it be too long than too short!!

I'll be writing more, soon!

I've shared this post at the following sites:

shabby creek cottage

Fridays Unfolded
The Shabby Nest

Thirty Handmade Days

See Vanessa Craft

Liz Marie Blog

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dinner for God

My good friend Rayme Sciaroni has written an inspirational book that promises to be ‘earth and soul’ changing!

Entitled, “Dinner for God”, this delightful non-denominational story follows a woman, Jenny, in her early fifties who receives a letter from ‘God’ requesting her to host a dinner party – in God’s honor!  Not sure whether the letter is a hoax or not, she decides to do as the letter asks.

Thus come the questions for all of us:  If God were coming to your house for dinner, what would you serve?  What would you wear?  Whom would you invite?  What would you talk about?  Find out as Jenny handles these questions and many others as she journeys through to find the perfect dish she chooses to share, the guests she wishes to invite and the conversation that brings fresh and enlightened ways of viewing ‘God’, ‘The Highest Source’, ‘The Universe’…your pick.

Information on “Dinner for God” by Rayme Sciaroni book/cd is available at:

The book/cd is also available at Amazon including Kindle, and the songs are also available on MP3.

I can guarantee you this is one book you won’t want to miss! (P.S. also available for Kindle!)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Progress on the Bedroom Project

I still have a long way to go, but I thought I'd share my progress on the bedroom project!

Here is where things are as of tonight (okay, this morning as I am writing this at 2 AM).

Pardon the unmade bed . . . all of the bedding hasn't arrived. 

Here is what I have accomplished so far - got rid of the old headboard, and night stands that came in the room, painted the two twin headboards and put them together (still working on that - more on that on a future blog post), painted the new chandelier (which will hang above the center of the bed in the center of the room - not shown as it is not yet hung, also more about that later), painted and hung the two mirrors, hung the curtain rod above the bed and draped the fabric. 

The fabric above the headboard is silk shantung, and it matches the velvet drapes that I hemmed, and hung. They don't show in this photo, but I'm still waiting for the sheers, so I'll show that more later.

I still have TONS to do! 
  • I will be painting the tables on both sides of the bed - the one on the left side of the bed is MIA, but it will be in the room tomorrow. I have to pull it out of a shed.
  • Add wood embellishments to the headboard (painted.)
  • I also have to paint a console table that is on the right side of the room.
  • There will be some new art coming into the room.
  • I need a large rug for the space.
  • Hang the chandelier. (Because all bedrooms need three chandeliers!)
  • I have to repair and recover the bench at the foot of the bed, as Talullah put her big doggie foot right through the cover of it.
  • Possibly getting a new chair for the room, or an armoire . . . I haven't decide what I'm doing with the corner to the left of the window.
  • Find some coordinating linens in soft gray, or perhaps dye some if I can't find the color I want.

Just to take you on a little journey from where I started. This is what it looked like when I moved in. (I was a furnished guest house on my sister's property.)

This is what it looked like since I moved in. I made a quick (but ultimately too short) cover for the headboard, and hung my chandeliers, and used my linens I had from before.)

I think it is coming along nicely! Still much to do, but it's getting better each day! And here it is as of today . . . stay tuned . . . much more action coming in the next few days, with "how to" posts to follow.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Random: some photos, and a quick project shot

We've had some gorgeous weather lately . . . and storms . . . here are a few photos from my recent galavanting. 

This is my favorite lightening shot I took the other night from my porch. 

Talullah is my companion whenever I can bring her. She loves to travel, and she loves people. 

Last Friday, I had a friend visiting from California. We took him to the food truck event at H & 8th, and then over to the Oklahoma City Regatta Festival. Talullah is always a big hit anyplace I take her! She loves people, and there is no shortage of people who love meeting her.
The Regatta Festival night races were great fun. Here is a quick phone shot from the event.

Just to keep the blog business like . . . here is a photo of the door of my local hair salon, and a vinyl design I did for their door using my Silhouette. I still have a love/hate relationship with the machine, but when I get it to cut properly, it is a wonderful tool! I have used it quite a bit, but I thought this sign turned out well. They added rhinestones to the chandelier to bling it up, which I think adds to it's charm. 

Client Living Room Progress Update

My client wanted to update her living room without spending a lot of money. Because the entire house is paneled, the fastest way to make a big difference was obviously paint!

We kept her leather furniture, and her grandmother's china hutch and coffee table, but we replaced the TV stand.

After priming and painting the walls (we decided to keep the beams unpainted as she wanted to keep a country look), we added a rug from, and drapes from Dollar General ($9.99 per panel! A great deal!) 

We painted her grandmother's hutch, and moved it to the side wall. I will show closeups of the hutch soon. It turned out amazing!

The client had a spare dresser out in her garage, so rather than buy a new media center, we decided to adapt what she already had by painting it, taking the top two drawers out, and adding baskets. The client had seen this done on Pinterest, and loved the idea of it. 

This is the piece after painting it, but it needed something more.

I added a stencil to the bottom drawers, and we drilled holes for these cute drawer pulls the client found at a local discount store. What a difference!

Here is a better view of it.

I didn't get a photo of it in context of the room, but we added this old window that the client already had to the far wall where the China Hutch used to sit. I added a scroll vinyl piece that I already had from another project to give the window some interest.

Here is a fun Pinterest inspired project.

I ordered this 24" wood letter from Build-a Cross online. I highly recommend them! The first cross they sent arrived damaged, and they immediately sent a replacement. The quality of the wood is great!

I spray painted the letter for the client, but suggested to her that she look at the pennies projects on Pinterest. I thought the shine of the pennies might make an interesting texture on the letter, and tie in the warm aspects of the leather furniture with the blues and greens in the room. My client did this on her own, and I think she did a great job!  

Finally . . . here is the before of the kitchen. You can see it in the background of the  photo with the chair and the "H" on the wall. It is open to her living room, so we really had to tackle both. 

Here is is after paint, a new rug (same pattern as the one in the living room, just different colors), and painting the kitchen table and chairs. We added another window to the wall in this room (client already had it) along with a rustic candle mold that the client also had before we started. 

If you look along the top of the room, you will see that there is a 12" soffit that runs around the kitchen shelves. We are planning to add tin tile to it, and we are waiting for it to come in. We will also be adding a new chandelier, another rug, curtains, and some other decor pieces, including some shadow boxes with antique kitchen tools that were her grandmothers. We know it is going to be adorable . . . but I couldn't resist showing you the amazing change that just the paint made. The client did almost all of this painting by herself! I just chose the paint colors, and she has been a painting machine!

Here is a shot of Talullah on that rug in the kitchen . . . yes, she is that big! That rug is 9'! I brought her with me for a late night painting session . . . the client loves Talullah, but her dog, Daisy, hid nearly the whole time. Poor Daisy. She is used to being an only dog. As you can see, Talullah finds painting exhausting!

I'll be posting more updates on projects in this house, soon!

Project Updates - What's Happening Around My House

I don't have any big reveals ready yet, so I thought I'd bring you up to date on a few projects I've been working on.

This is a huge bird house that I ordered online - and failed to read the size before I purchased. It turned out to be about 28" high and 16" wide - much too big for the side table I was planning to use it for - so it got a quick coat of paint so that I can use it outside.

I loved the shabby chic paint job it came with, but it looks very cute out on my patio now. Photos, soon, when I do a reveal out there. Working on the curtains for the patio this week.

When I last told you about my kitchen, I told you I had shown you the finished chairs, and was waiting on a rug I had purchased . . . well, I don't know what I was thinking when I ordered it! I clearly had lost my mind combining this "old world" pattern with the more modern pieces the room.

Fortunately, I knew it would look good in my niece's house - and what I didn't know is that she had a black and white dot rug in her house that she didn't think looked good in her living room, so we were able to switch rugs.

The black and white rug looks much better with the furniture, but the sizing was off for the space. So, I ended up switching it with the other rug in the kitchen space.

I preferred the dots with the table, rather than repeating the diamond pattern, but the size of the rugs made more sense this way.

Here you can see the larger rug in the longer portion of the kitchen (which is L shape with the dining area.) On the list of projects is painting the kitchen cabinets, along with doing something to that pantry to make it less boring!

Anyway, back to the projects . . .

You know you are in trouble when you open a box and see that step one of your project includes about thirty steps. (see below.)

But . . . after it was all put together (which required taking it apart TWICE because the instructions didn't include up/down directions on several parts, and you wouldn't know if you got it right until you got it nearly complete, it was worth it. I am very experienced at putting together furniture, and I'd never seen anything like it. Ikea instructions were absolutely verbose in comparison! All that said . . . I really love it. 

(Those short curtains in the background, and the broken shades, are both about to be replaced with red Shantung drapes.

The refrigerator in the guest house is not fancy. Having recently spilled something out of a bowl in the refrigerator, I was reminded what a pain it is to clean! So, I ordered 47'' Wide Oil Cloth Stella Cherries White Fabric By The Yard.  Once it arrived, I carefully measured each shelf in the refrigerator and door.

I read online that I could cover the shelves as long as I didn't block the places where air circulates - like the sides of the shelves where they meet the walls. I cut each piece slightly smaller than the shelf. 

Here is what the top shelf looked like once it was covered. 

I also cut individual pieces for the door shelves and the drawers. Once everything was back in, the refrigerator was slightly darker on the lower shelves, but after keeping a thermometer in the refrigerator for several days, I found there was no decrease in temperature. It is all much cleaner now.

As you can see, the dogs are all aflutter at the changes. The bedroom is about to change . . . more on that soon! 

 I don't have a "before" photo, but after reading about someone else replacing their manual thermostat with a programmable thermostat, I bit the bullet and  bought this from Amazon. I chose the Hunter 44272 5-Minute 5-1-1 Day Programmable Thermostat because it was inexpensive, and promised to be easy to install.

While it took me considerably longer than the five minutes they advertise, it was actually very easy to do. What took time was figuring out how to take apart the original thermostat to get to the wires, and to figure out what the wires meant. This was simply because I am completely unknowledgeable about HVAC and wiring.

Finally, I found this cute welcome sign at a local shop for under $10.00. I used the clear Command clips to attach it to my front door. I'd been thinking about adding a word to the front door. I like this easily changeable option.

More soon!