As someone who loves crafting, DIY and home decor projects big and small, I am constantly picking up new products for my adventures in art. My latest project was diving into the diverse world of chalkboard paints. There are quite a few to choose from as it happens. After narrowing it down, here are my top recommendations for creating wonderful chalkboard creations.
Quick and Easy Sprays: Both Michaels and Home Depot offer terrific chalkboard paint sprays at reasonable prices. Michaels offers Krylon brand in both black and green sprays in a 12-ounce can for $6.99. I used a 50 percent-off coupon (check their online ads for coupons every week that you can use on your smart phone) making the paint only $3.50. Home Depot, offers Rust-oleum Brand in an 11-ounce can for $3.76 in black.
After having wood cut at Home Depot to fit into empty frames I had around the house, I sanded the wood and sprayed with chalkboard paint. I tried both brands on different boards and both came out wonderfully.
When painting with any kind of spray paint, it’s a good idea to spray from a few feet away so the paint won’t bubble. If it does start to bubble, dab the spot with a dry or slightly damp paper towel and re-do the spot when you apply your second coat of paint. It is always wise to apply a second coat for a polished finish, but especially so with chalkboard paint as you’ll want a nice smooth surface for writing on later.
If you don’t have any empty frames to make chalkboards, just omit the frame to create a chalkboard. Simply buy a sheet of relatively thin flat wood (available at Home Depot or other home improvement stores), paint with the spray, drill two holes in the top for some heavy duty twine or ribbon and voila. You have a chalkboard to hang.
Chalkboard Paints in Color: For another chalkboard I chose to try Home Depot’s can of chalkboard paint that you can have tinted at the store (no additional cost) to one of 12 different colors. This was also Rust-oleum brand but costs a little more ($9.67) but you get 30 ounces. This can is not a spray, so you will need to buy a paint brush and take a little more time, but it’s completely worth it for the variety of additional colors you can choose from.
I chose peapod green. After spreading out plenty of newspaper on my kitchen floor, I got to painting. When using a paintbrush versus a spray paint, it takes a bit to get the hang of not glopping on too much paint and evenly spreading out the strokes to create an unblemished texture. I did three coats with this paint, waiting for each coat to dry before starting the next coat. This took less than an hour and the finish was just as pleasing as the spray paints, but now I had a new color. The benefit of buying a can of paint instead of the spray is that you can do a variety of chalkboards in your home without worrying over a major mess from a spray.
Try painting the inside of a door for grocery lists and your kids measurements. Or square off a space on a wall in a playroom to paint; then affix a frame around the chalkboard for a doodle space for your children.
Mini Chalkboards: If you don’t want to fuss with chalkboard paints, but love the look for other household items, go small and simple with chalkboard stickers. Michaels offers chalkboard stickers in different sizes and shapes that you simply stick to whatever surface you please and have make-shift signage.
Try a sticker on a vase and write, fresh flowers, or a jar filled with Hershey Kisses and write, have a kiss. These stickers stay put nicely, the only downside is the chalk doesn’t show up as brightly as on the other chalkboard surfaces, so write out your words and then go over one more time with the chalk so the words are visible.
Note: I would not recommend Martha Stewart’s chalkboard paints. I purchased a small bottle of the multi-surface acrylic chalkboard paint and tried it on a vase, however, after every coat, the paint seemed to clump even after many attempts to smooth it out. While Martha Stewart has other home decor products I would highly recommend, when it comes to chalkboard paints, hers isn’t one of them.
For chalk paints that are not chalkboards but create a fun chalkboard-esque look for furniture in your home, check out local shop, Stylish Patina in Falls Church. They have an exceptional selection of colored chalk paints that are perfect for home decor projects.
By Cassandra Sturos
Now, for the DIY-er, try these quick, easy and inexpensive ways to make your own fall décor with mostly household items you already own. Be prepared to be impressed.
The first thing to do is go out into nature—why wouldn’t you, this is the perfect time of year for it—and gather these necessities:
(If you have kids, they will love helping you with this)
Find branches that aren’t humongous (2-4 ft should do) with other branches stemming off the main branch. The leaves shouldn’t be too dried out, or they will crumble as soon as you try and work with them. Pick ones you think look nice, and vary the sizes, ranging from little to big ones.
For your crafting you can use these at-home items that are probably already being recycled or gathering dust somewhere in a linen closet.
-Glass milk bottles
-Old Fashioned Glass soda bottles
-Any jar, vase or glass container
For your paints:
I recommend fall colors that will work doubly well, not just for the Halloween season, but all the way through Thanksgiving (even into Christmas if you’re creative).
I chose these colors from my local Michaels and Home Depot:
Now it’s time to get painting!
I chose to do the wine bottles in the Metallic color (choose whatever color suits you). To get the labels off of wine bottles, purchase Goo Gone or soak in soapy water and then scrub off with a sponge. The soap really helps in getting the labels off. If you don’t get all the labels off it will make your paint job look a little less polished.
I painted the branches black except for the smallest one which I painted with the orange glitter. I also painted all the pinecones in orange glitter.
Then I painted my leaves in varying colors and quickly flipped them over to press on a piece of paper. This helps to have the veins in the leaves more visible through the paint, which is neat.
Flip over your branches when dry and paint the other sides.
Putting it all together:
Once everything is nice and dry, you can start decorating. I placed the two large black branches inside the two different sized wine bottles I painted metallic. I then spread out some fake cobwebs over the branches. I attached a glittery spider and cut out a bat from a piece of black cardstock paper (which is thicker).
I used black and orange string to hang the bat, once I punched a hole in the top. Feel free to make additional Halloween or fall shapes such as leaves, turkeys or a witch to hang from your branches. I placed the glittery gold branch in a small glass soda bottle (unpainted because I liked the way it complimented the painted wine bottles) and took one of my painted leaves, punched a hole in the top and tied it around the neck of the bottle with twine, for extra festive flair.
I took my newly glittered pinecones and placed them in a square glass jar with one gold painted leaf on top. I tied some fall-colored ribbon, (found at The Cottage, in Leesburg) around the jar in a bow. Voila!
Lastly, I took the remainder of my painted leaves, taped them down to a white piece of paper and placed them in a gold frame I had lying around the house.
Your three relatively simple, speedy and definitely cost-effective pieces of fall décor are ready to wow.
When Halloween is over, swap out your cobwebs and spiders for turkeys or leaves proclaiming what you’re thankful for on your painted branches.
For Christmas: Save your bottles and find more branches to paint white and attach with ornaments.
The additional crafting items I found for this project, like glitter spiders, black paper, string and cobwebs were found at Michaels Arts and Crafts Store.
By Cassandra Sturos
Looking for some tips on how to fix up your homestead? Check out these Northern Virginia bloggers, who are building a strong following with their savvy DIY skills.
These married home innovators turned blogging sensations invite you into their house (in Virginia) and their young love, which handily enough is the title of their blog: Younghouselove.
Check out their savvy home decorating tips and tutorials, along with loads of other fun ideas on painting, crafts, DIY projects, money-saving tips and more. This blog has so much to offer for the DIY-er that it could make your head spin, but in the good overwhelming way.
Start by taking the house tours of all three homes that the couple has now lived in, all the way up to their current home and check out the before and after pictures. Then to feel inspired, start in on the projects section (which is ample) or take a peek at how the couple used their knack for craftiness on their wedding day. All the home decorating excitement offered in this blog will have you itching to put down the remote control, find a paint brush and hot-glue gun and get artsy. http://www.younghouselove.com/
Pretty Handy Girl
Brittany Bailey, who grew up in Northern Virginia, A.K.A the Pretty Handy Girl is pretty modest, because she is more than pretty handy, she is downright impressive.
Besides taking on home repair, electrical, lighting and plumbing projects, Brittany went into labor with her second son while trying to fix a bathtub at eight and a half months pregnant! Now that’s a can-do spirit!
But don’t be put off by all the handiness, because Brittany gives great step-by-step instructions on all her home projects and how to build up your tool kit. She even owns power tools (and has tutorials on how to use them) but encourages you to start out basic and embrace becoming handy. And there’s no better way than by cruising her sight for ideas from holiday creations to installing a toilet seat. http://www.prettyhandygirl.com/
Sometimes it isn’t enough to look through mainstream furniture magazines or walk through the dining ware section of department stores. Instead, with so many interior designers and stylists now providing their advice through the blogsphere, we have different unique perspectives that provide the inspiration we need to spice up our homes and closets at our fingertips. For ideas on investing in beautifully decorated homes, whether vintage or modern-chic, here are a few online destinations to get your brains stirring up a creative storm.
By Kate V. Comfort
Smoked meats have an additional layer of savory flavor that takes good meat to “Ohmygod, you HAVE to try this!” Kick up your backyard barbecuing with a relatively cheap, easy-to-build, not-an-eye-sore backyard smoker.
14” conical-shape terra cotta pot
14” squat, azalea-shape terra cotta pot
terra cotta planter (feet)
8” hot plate (with exposed electric coils)
13.5” grill grate (or charcoal grate, from a Weber)
small steel tray
flavored wood chips
1 washer (sized to fit thermometer)
Put pot on top of terra cotta feet (or bricks) raising the pot a few inches off the ground allowing for ventilation below.
Place hot plate flat, electric coils up, inside the tall terra cotta pot. Feed the electrical wire through the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot.
Place metal tray filled with wood chips directly on top of coils.
Place grill grate on top of pot (should ideally be 6 inches or more from heat source and wood chips).
5) Place the squat terra cotta pot upside down on top of pot containing the grill contents securely so that the edges meet and the inside will remain sealed.
Place grill thermometer through drainage hole of squat terra cotta planter (now, “lid”). Secure with washer.
Turn power source on and set hot plate on high. The temperature should climb to between 250-300 and remain there throughout the smoking process.
Ensure the hot plate does not have a safety automatic off switch after reaching maximum temperature.
Do not open the planter more frequently than every 2 or 3 hours, doing so will cause accumulated smoke and heat to dissipate.
Always place meat with fat cap (side with fat) facing upward. This will allow the melting fat to baste the meat over the course of several hours.
Use caution when heating this smoker in the winter: Drastic temperature changes may crack the terra cotta or prevent the smoker from achieving appropriate temperatures.
Posted by Caroline Lang / Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
There is something I need to face once and for all. I’ve put it off long enough, and the time has come to tackle the beast.
I’m going to teach myself how to sew.
I must have missed the female gene that makes this skill intrinsic to women everywhere, but this summer I’m determined to catch up. Since the slow, easygoing summer months make it a perfect time to pick up a new hobby and learn a new life skill, I decided that the time is now. Come hell or too-high hems, I am going to do this.
We all have something on our eternal to-learn list that keeps getting put off for right now because of higher, more pressing priorities, but gaining these skills now can save a lot of time and money in the long run, so they’re definitely worth the investment. And with so many beginners’ classes in Northern Virginia, picking up a new skill can be fun, too!
By Meghan Furey
Create Your Own Lights for Warm Summer Nights.
Coming from a very crafty family, I always love finding ways of keeping money in my pocket, and so with Pinterest and blog searching, I have been finding easy and fun ways of creating my own outdoor votives with items I find around the house. For those evenings when you are relaxing on porch with friends and family or warm weather events when you are setting up table arrangements, these DIY votives are simple and beautiful ways of adding a unique touch to your outdoor décor. Here are some of the surprising things you may find around the house that can actually make your life a lot brighter!
Mason jars are probably one of the most popular ways to create your own outdoor lighting. The patterns on these jars create a beautiful authentic feel to your home’s outdoor décor. One can just place candles inside the jars, but many projects involve filling them with other materials such as floating candles in water or placing them in sand or pebbles to make them more ornamental. These jars also look great when wrapped in twine or ribbon, painted or even bedazzled with glitter. One can go on and on about how you can decorate these jars, and even when they’re just plain, they add a simple and unique light to any outdoor space.
Once you have the Mason Jar lights made, there are so many ways you can arrange them too. One can simply them set on tables for dinner lighting. Many DIY bloggers have also created chandeliers or hanging lanterns like Holly did with her Mason Jars on Chez Beeper Babe. While creating a chandelier or hanging lantern may sound more complicated, both projects are a great way of spending time saving some dimes.
Tin cans are also an easy and accessible material to use to create beautiful lighting for those fun summer backyard parties or even just for your outdoor seating areas. Tin can lanterns can be a shiny decoration that glitters in the light and glows in the dark when lit. Most cans are opaque, which allows the holes punched in create beautiful prints and patterns. From birthday parties to outdoor dinner events, these votives can be a personal and unique ornament for any outdoor event. The cans can also be painted to match with other outdoor furniture or to make them even more festive décor like. .
While these luminaries look great on tables, many DIYers say that they look just as amazing hung. Decorating a backyard with strung up tin can lanterns would make an excellent source of light in any part of your outdoor space, and all without busting your wallet. Not to mention, it is an excellent summer activity for the kids to showcase their creativity to your friends and family!
Despite its narrow opening, wine bottles can be made into and are beautiful sources of light for any outdoor gathering. With their various glass hues and shapes, wine bottles can be versatile décor pieces that create a summery glow without spending more than a bottle of wine (literally).
A great wine bottle votive can also eliminate those nasty mosquitoes in your yard by creating a wine bottle tiki torch. By placing a using citronella torch fuel on a tiki wick in a wine bottle, you can make an effort in fighting against these pests while also creating a nice ambiance for your outdoor space.
With a glass cutter, you can also make a beautiful candle cover with a wine bottle . This creates a beautiful glow that can last all night long. With long-lasting light like this, you can enjoy those summer nights hours on end and the people you are spending them with. After, that is what summer is all about, right?
7 Pantry Organization Products
By Jennifer Shapira
“I always recommend using tiered shelf organizers,” says the Container Store’s Kim Hitchcock. The expandable plastic shelf “provides visibility and accessibility,” allowing you to group your stash of soup cans or baking products at different heights.
$9.99 and $14.99; containerstore.com
2. OXO 16-inch Lazy Susan
Organizer Alejandra Costello uses several of these in her pantry for easy access to frequently used items. Other turntables are inferior because they don’t rotate very well, “This (one) spins the best!”
3. Pull-out Lid Organizer
Genius for those of us who rattle around looking for a lid for every pot, this slim, pull-out addition to any cabinet organizes the tops all in one place.
4. Oxo 10 Piece POP Container Set
The 10-piece set is a pricey investment, but organizers swear by them. Not only are they transparent and rectangle, Costello says, they are easy to clean and the top “clicks” into place so you know it’s shut.
5. Brother P-Touch PT-D200 Labelmaker
The Brother series is a favorite among personal organizers (Cawley has a spare one in her car at all times) and allows you to punch out directives on what goes where. There are numerous font choices, and replacement tapes are available in two widths and come in a rainbow of colors.
$39.99; costco.com or at Walmart, Staples, Office Depot, Amazon; price may vary
6. Martha Stewart Home Office Kitchen Labels
If you’re interested in giving your pantry some personal flair, consider sticking your stock with Martha Stewart’s simplified DIY labels, a favorite of Costello’s. Available in dry-erase or chalk, these labels stick to most household storage vessels and you can erase and rewrite as needed.
$5.99; staples.com or at Michaels and stationery stores
7. Beverage can dispenser
Vertical stacking of cans takes up less room, and makes grabbing easier.
Decluttering has never been so easy.
By Jennifer Shapira
1. Entertaining hide away
We all have the pieces of tableware that we buy thinking we will use it everyday, but only seems to come out of the cabinet when guests arrive. Best, and safest, place for these pieces are wrapped and stacked away in the out-of-reach cabinet spaces—not too far when entertaining, but, also, not taking up arms-reach cabinet shelves.
2. Style it, don’t sterilize it
When trying to declutter sometimes people go overboard, not having anything displayed and out in the open. So, don’t forget to incorporate areas of interest, making people forget they are in a kitchen. Use awkward reaching areas of the kitchen to display some treasured pieces. This will pull in the whole room, having the eye focus on the decor instead of appliances.
3. Out of sight, out of mind
Only display everyday spatulas and cooking utensils on countertops—only four are really needed. You can make them a piece of decor buy choosing ones in bright, vibrant colors. Less used utensils should be stored, neatly, in a nearby drawer.
4. Cookbook mania
Chefs in the kitchen tend to come with a multitude of cookbooks, but how often are all the recipes actually used? Keeping go-to recipes at a close reach is needed, but you don’t need all those cookbooks in the kitchen. Photo copy your favorite recipes and store them in a stylish binder, in plastic sleeves, that you keep in the kitchen. If you still don’t want to get rid of your cookbooks, shelve them on a bookshelf somewhere else in the house.
5. Match it up
Mismatched plates make for visual chaos, especially if you have open shelving or glass cabinet doors. Keeping plates, cups and bowls in the same style and color tone bring a calming, orderly effect, both on the table and in the cabinet.
6. Seasonal swap out
No one is expecting you to get rid of your crockpot, but it doesn’t need to be handy in Northern Virginia’s sweltering summers. When it comes time to change up your seasonal or holiday decor, take the time to swap out your seasonal appliances as well. Store the bulkier items in the attic or other storage areas in the house. Or, if you still want them nearby, tuck them in the island counter cabinets.
A Pantry with Personality
The personalization of a home pantry has become much chic-er and a lot more interesting in recent years.
With so many DIY websites, blogs and TV shows, and the advent of the extremely popular online pinboard Pinterest, area experts say that the information sharing of creativity is flourishing.
Such forums exist to offer suggestions and inspirations to those who are looking to put a bit more oomph in their daily lives.
The pantry is often such a small space; it’s quick and affordable to give it a makeover. Think Mason jars with vintage-looking chalkboard labels or containers identified in a perfect font.
“There’s lots you can do to bling out your pantry,” says Janet Schiesl, Centreville-based professional organizer and D.C. Metro Chapter president of National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO).
“Mine is tiny,” Schiesl says. “There’s so much more you can do if you have a larger [pantry]. It’s a doable project and I did it for almost no money.”
Schiesl chose a sunny gold paint color to serve as her backdrop and finished the white mesh shelves with a pretty, corresponding ribbon threaded throughout.
Now, with two grown sons and less of a fear of broken glass, she replaced her go-to plastic containers and scored Salvation Army clear glass jars to store her dry goods.
Just recently, one of her son’s oldest friends stunned her with praise for her project; he slapped a Post-it note inside complimenting her handiwork that read: “Mrs. Schiesl—This looks so nice!”
All those years of boys raiding the pantry for afterschool snacks?
Photos and copy courtesy of Decor8
If you are looking for an easy and budget-friendly way to redecorate for spring this DIY should do the trick. Design diva and best-selling author, Holly Becker shows you how to add some much needed floral flair to any room.
Supplies Needed: Origami paper, metal tacks, nail polish
Tools Needed: Scissors, cardboard petal templates (various sizes)
Step 1: Grab some metal tacks and paint the tops with 2-3 coats of your favorite nail polish color – let dry – I left mine out overnight.
Step 2: Fold origami paper (or paper that is perfectly square) in half, then half again so you have a small square. Cut into the square to create your flower using scissors. Petals do not need to be perfect, have fun and experiment. You can also free hand flowers if you like or you can cut out some cardboard templates in various sizes, trace around them and cut out your flowers. This works if you want to create larger blooms as well.
Step 3: Cut into the paper to create different sizes of petals and mix different papers and patterns, too. I use 4-5 layers to create my flowers. You can even mix up texture – try incorporating newspaper (I love the look of Japanese and Chinese newspapers), crepe paper and tissue paper for some layers along with paper.
Step 4: Stack your petals to see how they look and rearrange or cut new ones as needed.
Step 5: Grab your thumb tack and stick it through the center! Now you can tack anywhere you’d like! You can also glue the petals in the center as you layer them and top it with a button or a circle you’ve cut using paper and add them to gifts, lamp shades or where you think you could add a little flower power in your home!
Don’t hesitate to get creative, and eco-friendly, by using old magazines and comic strips from newspapers. This is a simple spring upgrade for any home! You can find other great DIYs on Holly’s website Décor8.