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Spooktacular Mantle!

Halloween is almost here so I put together a little treat for you…muahaha!! This fun mantle display was not tricky to put together so here is the breakdown in black and white.

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Don’t worry, I won’t be throwing in Halloween puns from here on out…

I basically used things I already had in my home to create this look, but I will hyperlink you to the exact same items or ones that are similar. I know most folks aren’t decor pack rats like me, so just look for the underlined text to take you where you need to go.

First element I used was a cool distressed black and white mirror that I picked up at Big Lots for $15. That’s right $15 smackaroos! I don’t have a link to the exact one since I think it was a local thing, but check your store out, they may have something similar. Next I used some gauze cloth I picked up at Target. I layered, draped, and mixed in some glitter netting from a prior project. I also used a white pumpkin I found at Wal-Mart, no link but here is one similar from Amazon and this one is pretty cool too and less expensive. If you are a fan of buying in bulk and want an assortment go here to pick up a heck of a deal on white pumpkins.img_3022

The crows are a different story, I got these wooden masterpieces at different antique stores made by local artisans. The guy with spread wings I found only yesterday at one such place – a delightful add to my growing collection. In case you haven’t figured it out by now I have a thing for birds…

The far left side of the mantle features some glittering beauties that you can grab at Michael’s – they are having a killer (sorry) sale on Halloween decor right now so better hurry if you want them. I also added in a wreath that I spray painted black and dried wheat grass that I found in some random shop. I feel strongly that if you went to your local craft store you can find both pretty easy.

Now for my favorite part – the crystal ball! It is in fact real crystal, go figure. img_3048-2

I turned a crystal bowl upside down and placed on top of a black salsa bowl. I actually had one that was the perfect size and shape to hold an old crystal bowl and the preceding link shows an identical one.

P.S…..they also make a great looking mini cauldron!

I placed a battery-powered glitter LED light inside and strung spiderweb cotton all around. I used two skeleton hands on either side to finish off. You may be curious as to how I got that smoky look on the bowl so I will be honest – its dust. Probably three years worth. You just can’t buy that look from a store! Maybe I’m not the most OCD of house cleaners but you have to admit, it paid off in the end.

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Here is the finished look –

Happy Haunting! So I lied, I had one last pun in me.
Hope Fashion

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Rustic Fall Mantle Design Breakdown

I love the ideas I find on Pinterest! I could spend hours scrolling and saving any and everything that strikes my fancy. I came across this gorgeous fall farmhouse mantle decor and wanted to try it!

Here is the original pic from Liz Marie Blog. Actual link to her project is in the preceding hyperlink. Her blog is filled with lots of good stuff so check her out!

Liz Marie Mantle Fall

Pretty awesome right? So let’s break down what she has in her photo. First she has an old mantle which you can find at any antique store and will probably cost you around $150 and up depending on where you live. Next thing I see is a window frame, probably cost around $50 – $75. Perhaps the neatest thing is an old piece of sheet metal with a pumpkin painted on it. The sheet metal could be roofing tin and that too can be found at a salvage yard or antique store. Probably looking at $25 for one of those. The pumpkin art looks fairly easy to copy, just get some white paint and go nuts.

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Now for the pumpkins, I know exactly where she got them – Wal-Mart. I know because I bought one for myself. It was $8.99 at the time. So six of those….you do the math. She has some aged pots mixed in but you can do this fairly easily with terra-cotta pots and spray paint. To age the pots, get moss-green, white, and gold spray paint. Spray gold first, then spray green around bottom and lastly spritz with the white. Use a paper towel to twist and rough up the paint or even a sponge would work. Instant age. Another technique would be to use faux stone spray and dab some moss green paint on. Terra cotta pots usually run around $2-3 bucks for small and $6-7 for the medium size. So 7 small and 4 large (if you have an average size mantle).

liz marie fall mantle 2.jpg

The moss is really a crowning touch and they sell the real deal or fake stuff at any craft store. She also used a lovely trunk topped with a couple of pillows and books. Looks inviting and cozy! I want this in my house like today, so what’s stopping me?

Here’s the skinny, I love farmhouse style but I don’t own a farmhouse or even a type of house that could bluff as one. Not even with a little paint and decor. I have a 1970’s traditional house that is sometimes called a colonial because of four columns out front, (totally NOT a colonial). So the question is how do I get this look without buying shiplap, an old mantle, old window frame and a million pumpkins? Short answer…I don’t. But what I do get is something that is unique to me and uses things I already have. Here is my mantle –

fall mantle 2

I know what you’re thinking….NOTHING like hers! But really, inspiration doesn’t mean copy. I liked the elements, the pumpkin, the white wash colors, fluffy pillows, and greens. I looked around my home and found items similar while mixing in some of my own favorites like the new to me old red chair, stone bird and my non-blooming orchids. No, the orchids aren’t dead they just refuse to bloom any time of year. I’ve tried coaxing them with baby talk, but they have none of it. Now I tell them it’s okay to just be happy being green…so that’s what we get. fall mantle

So here you go, a realistic view into what it takes to achieve a certain look. If you had none of the things in the list, it would set you back about $350 – $450 depending on how much you pay for your rustic antique finds. If you are lucky enough to have a farmhouse and you have lots of similar things around, just know that I am jealous. If you are like me, you can use this design to inspire you to create something unique for your home!

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Natural Arranging

Having a dinner party and forgot to pick up flowers? Well never fear, just head out to your garden and pick some fresh (and free!) flora from the yard. You can even shop in your refrigerator for a few delictibles to add to your piece.  This design is simple, natural and flowing.  I used things on hand to create this which include plants native to my yard –

Bradford pear tree branches


Creeping Jenny

Crepe Myrtle Branches



I also used some grapes and a plum I had in the fridge. First step was to soak some oasis fresh foam and cut to size in one of my favorite vases. img_2569

Then I added the greens – Crepe Myrtle and Bradford Pear. I let the natural shape of the stems dictate the placement.img_2571

Then I started filling in the middle using the mums, verbena, and plums. Some of the items used had no stems or small stubby ones so I used some green wired picks to give them height.

I finished it off with the Creeping Jenny, grapes and succulents..img_2576img_2582


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Skeleton DIY Wreath

This fun skeleton wreath is simple, easy, & inexpensive to make! It only required a few items that were easily sourced from Michaels craft store & Target – links to exact items used are in the instructions below.

Wreath prep – 18″ wreath spray painted black, while the paint is still tacky, sprinkle iridescent glitter all over. Tip- do this outside! Let dry and then glaze over the wreath with clear acrylic spray. This will prevent the black paint from fading or bleeding caused by sun or rain. 

Next, grab a few bolts of ribbons you like and make a bow. I used three in different styles of black & white but if you prefer more Halloween colors, go for it! There is no right or wrong just be creative. I made my bow with extra long loops to accommodate the skull in the center. Instead of tying off my bow with wire, I used a long ribbon tail and double knotted. This technique allows me to attach the bow to the wreath using the ribbon itself and left enough length to weave through the skull’s jaw. 

Once I had the skull bow secured, I hung some gauze cloth behind the bow and wired in the top hand. Then I draped the cloth over the center of the wreath in different places. No wire or glue needed for the cloth since it caught on everything & wouldn’t let go easily. 

I wired in the other hand on top of the gauze and glued a cute pumpkin into the hand. 

The finished product turned out great! I had other items on the table to add but it really didn’t need more than this. I set this up on a wreath stand and decked out the table with a few other glittering finds from Michaels. The hand print gauze can be found here.

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DIY Live Edge Desk

I searched & searched for the perfect desk. I spent hours pouring over websites and Pinterest in hopes that one would strike my fancy and be the perfect size, color and price. I found a few that I really liked, but my wallet hated them! I started thinking about what attracted me to certain desks and breaking them down. In essence, they were just a wooden rectangle with 4 legs and if I wanted to pay an extra $300 I could get a few drawers along with them. Most desks were averaging $399 – $899! The ones that were under $300 were all pressboard or plastic creations that would fall apart just by looking at them.

My husband and I began looking into making one – after all it was just a wooden slab with a few legs, it would be easy right? One option we tossed around was using an old door but it would be too long and cutting it would effectively ruin the look we were going for. I mean, it would be a door with legs so really not that cool or unique. During our months long search, we happened upon a salvage business that had live edge wood slabs that they were selling as mantles. And then the angels sang. A ray of sunlight fell on the smiling face of my husband and then passed over to illuminate the stack of wood in the corner of the store. A bit melodramatic I know, but honestly that was the way it felt. Just look at these beauties – store slabs

Euphoria quickly passed to dismay when we saw the price tags, nothing under $700 for raw wood. If we got the slab sanded and an epoxy coat it would be over $1000. Wasn’t going to happen, not in this lifetime! We talked the whole way home at how disappointed we were at pricing and were about to give up and go with some cheap mass-produced desk. Once home I searched the web for slab wood and came across a local sawmill that advertised raw live edge slabs for sale. The next day we made a trip to said sawmill and we were overjoyed to find the pricing to be affordable. We picked up a beautiful maple slab for $78! Here she is in her primitive state – rough slab

The sawmill offered sanding and epoxy finish services for an additional $150 so we said yes to the desk! Here is a couple of pics of the sanded glazed slab below; we did a photo with flash and one without so the true color of the grain comes out –

We picked it up a couple of days later and went to work installing in the office. It was actually pretty easy to do, we picked up a 2×4, two galvanized pipes with threaded ends, two metal flanges, and two round threaded pipe end caps. Total cost for those materials was about $40 and they are easily sourced at Lowes or Home Depot.

We bolted the 2×4 to the wall after sizing the height of the pipe legs and desk top. Then we pre-drilled holes in the bottom of the desk for the flanges that the pipe legs would screw into. We put the pipe legs on, added the round caps to the bottom of the feet and set the back edge of the slab on top of the 2×4. Once we had it positioned, we attached the back to the 2×4 with really long wood screws. The thread feet of the pipe caps came in handy when trying to level with the floor, we were able to twist adjust just like on the feet of a bed frame or couch. Here is the finished result – desk installedWe love how it turned out and best of all it is movable! This photo was taken in our former home, we have since moved and the desk came with us. I would show an updated shot, but my hubby is kind of messy with his desk and I honestly do not feel like cleaning it off for a picture! In all seriousness, we have had many compliments on the desk, it is unique, it is us and it is functional.

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Wreath 3 Ways

If you are like me, you’re always looking for shortcuts, time savers and deals! That is exactly what I will be showing you with this next creation, wait…creations! I call this big little guy ‘Wreath 3 Ways’ –  because that is exactly what you will get, a wreath that you can add to over the holiday season. It will get you through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Also, this wreath has no glue as well, just simple mechanics for easy dismantling.

So before we get into the play by-play, just a little background on this process. The changing wreath is an old tradition with designers, it was not born of desire for change rather, necessity. Often times fall wreaths wouldn’t sell or designers were stuck with fall supplies such as berries and foliage. Same thing with Christmas silks and ornaments. Rather than store them to sell the next year, we try to use them up in other ways. You see, we love shopping for new things also and not being able to buy the latest and greatest from suppliers would crush our spirits.

Another old trick designers use is smart shopping – I’ll show you what I mean in the pic below. Basically designers buy simple pre-made wreaths. Most are just foliage, berries or a vine of one type of flower. Pre-mades are pretty cheap, skimpy and could never probably make it as a standalone wreath. You can find them at every craft and big box store the world over. Here are two that I will be working with today, plain berry and wheat grass –  wreath 3 ways 1

First order of business is to fluff the wreaths. Fluffing is not difficult, lay the wreath on a flat surface and pull the individual stems toward you. It should look odd and like your wreath just exploded. If you have achieved that look, you did it right. Next, I take the berry wreath and lay it over the wheat wreath. Once I have it centered, I pull the wheat stems between the berry stems, twisting them around as I go to secure the wreaths together. Not all stems have to be twisted together, but at least in four key places to hold them together. Once finished, it will still look as if the wreath exploded…perfect! wreath 3 ways 1-2

I added a gourd to the center for an autumn look wreath 3 ways 1-5

Next up, Christmas! I removed the gourd and added pinecones and that’s it. Pretty simple I know, but you can add an ornament or two if you like or even a bird’s nest with a cardinal – the possibilities are endless. No need to glue, just wire them in.wreath 3 ways 1-3

And finally, a little extra for after Christmas. I left the pinecones in and added iced hanging berries for a winter look. Only 2 stems needed and they were of course wired in.wreath 3 ways 1-4

And that’s it! One wreath, 3 ways and I am set from September to February!

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Why I Blog

I started this blog for a few reasons. First, I love designing – be it my own home, for a friend or even just fantasy rooms in my head. Secondly, I find myself being asked for advice with color choices for paint, cabinets, fabric and so on. Lastly, because I am hesitant to give my honest true opinion on design directly to said friends and family. You can never tell when they want real advice or if they are just looking for affirmation. I figure a blog is the best outlet for me to share my opinions on design without directly insulting anyone’s design choices. I’m sure it will happen in some form though.

That is the nature of design, it can stir such feelings of pride and passion because at it’s root, design is a reflection of who you are as a person. A good designer is one who can help you express yourself through style choices, so if you have one that tries to understand you, hang onto them! There are more than a few who only know their own style that try to force it on your home. Others only know the style of the moment, HGTV runs their business and your wallet. I still struggle at times with finding my own style, but not because I am a poor designer. My problem is that I love them all! I love all the possibilities, the colors, fabrics. Mid century modern – yes! Traditional – yes! French country – yes! Contemporary – yes! Don’t even get me started on textures…

So, why should you trust my opinion? You don’t. I am simply here to inspire and offer my experience, my failures, and my successes. I come with a bit of street cred though, I was a florist for many years and an interior designer. I’ve also been to trade school for horticulture so that means gardening tips will sneak in here from time to time. Who am I kidding? In spring that may be all you see from me, I have this weird thing for plants to!

This design blog will not be like others that show you artsy staged rooms and poetic photos of lone chairs with an apple on it. I am committed to designing around real life. I see so many beautifully staged design blogs that promise a better life if you just paint your dresser a sheik new color; but in reality, that crap won’t look right or work in your home. I’m gonna save you some heartache or cause it. This is about harsh truths that your best friend wouldn’t tell you. That chalk paint doesn’t always fix the funky table you have in the corner, sometimes it is just junk and you need to throw it out and move on. That is my life’s motto by the way.

Enjoy the blog!