DIY Eucalyptus Garland

IMG_3811I definitely meant to post this back in December, but clearly, that didn't happen. Between Christmas trips to Minnesota, parents visiting (their first time in Oakland!) and wedding planning, this blog has unfortunately fallen a bit by the wayside–but hopefully I can remedy that over the next few weeks. IMG_3807I've always been kind of into flower arranging, mostly using what I could find in the gardens at my parents' home. So as we were figuring out ways to cut costs on our wedding this summer, I immediately volunteered to do the flowers myself (and am very open to advice if anyone has any!) This garland was my first attempt at making anything like it, and I was pleasantly surprised at how simple it was. After picking up several bunches of seeded eucalyptus and some other greens at the wholesale flower market, I followed this DIY to bind them together into an 8-foot garland. I didn't make mine quite as full and skipped adding fresh flowers and air plants, but was still very pleased with the results.IMG_3803

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Garlands are of course classic holiday decor, but when made with eucalyptus or other leafy greens, they also make for a beautiful (and affordable) statement piece. As a bonus, ours still looked lovely when it dried out, so I was able to keep it on our mantlepiece for weeks.

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On Bar Carts

mg_4698About a year ago, I was obsessed with getting a bar cart. It probably came from reading too many home design blogs and watching Mad Men, but I couldn't get the idea out of my mind. I scoured Craigslist for months, but since I didn't really want to spend more than $50 on a cart, that limited my options. After what seemed like ages of looking, almost ready to throw in the towel and give up the search, Ari found one at the 6th Avenue Flea Market for a mere $20. Naturally, I was overjoyed and couldn't wait to get it home and move all of the bottles of liquor out of the closet. I don't drink cocktails all that often, but when I do, I at least want them to look pretty. _MG_4701 Keep reading for a few styling tips and a roundup of bar carts!

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Styling:

  • I like arranging alcohol by height so that you can best see each label.
  • Add other cocktail-related items, such as shakers, fun straws, and books to mix up the visual impact.
  • If you don't have room for a bar cart (or don't want one), another great option is to create a bar area by putting all of your bottles on a tray and displaying them on a bookshelf or countertop.
  • I like to keep my glassware on the bottom shelf altogether, but if you have particularly pretty glasses that you want to display, put them out with the bottles.
  • A bar is something that can be built up over time -- don't feel like you need to go out and buy 20 different kinds of alcohol at once. I have been adding to this collection for a couple of years, and you can start with just a bottle of clear alcohol (such as vodka or gin), one bottle of dark (such as bourbon or whiskey), and some bitters (essential for Manhattans, Old-Fashioneds, etc.). If you have the money or inclination, you can also add something a little more unexpected -- such as St. Germain or Aperol, both of which can be used in a number of different cocktails.
  • Other things to have on hand, especially for parties: lemons, limes, club soda, tonic, vermouth, and of course, plenty of ice.

Before & After: Spice Rack

_MG_4488Sometimes I'm still amazed at what a little paint can do. As I've gotten older, I have become more and more of a fan of all-white spaces, even if they might not be very practical in my day to day life (I have, unfortunately been known to spill things every so often.) Someday when I have my own place, I will have a white kitchen with tons of light and marble countertops. But until that day -- since I can't change the generic wooden cupboards that seem to be in every New York apartment -- I'll have to update my kitchen in smaller ways. I had this wooden box from wine that seemed the perfect size to make a shelf, and since we are pretty limited on storage space, I thought it would be nice to display all of my various spices. And for a while, it got the job done. _MG_4977

But then the raw wood started to bother me, and I didn't like how all of the spice jars were different sizes and not all of them fit. I started looking for some spice jars but didn't want anything too pricy since this update was purely for aesthetics, and stumbled across these jars from Cost Plus World Market. At less than $1 apiece, they were within my budget and so far, I have been really happy with them. Sometimes, all you need is a little paint and a few matching items to make a big impact -- and I can keep dreaming of my ideal kitchen in the meantime.

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DIY: Industrial Rope Lamp

_MG_4621Apologies for the long absence, y'all. I've been dreaming of summer and haven't felt much like cooking lately, but with lovely produce and the sun finally shining in Brooklyn, I'm excited to get back into the kitchen. First, however, I have a DIY tutorial that I came up with a few weeks ago. Bored by the hand-me-down floor lamp we had in the living room, I decided it was about time I found something with a little more personality -- but after some searching, it's hard to find a good floor lamp for less the a couple hundred dollars._MG_4623 Instead, I decided to try my hand at creating my own floor lamp with materials that you could find at any hardware store -- and altogether, everything was less than $50. It's definitely not perfect (the cords to plug it into the wall are kind of awkward), but I'm really happy with how it turned out overall. For the price breakdown and step by step instructions, click below.

Materials:

2 industrial clamp shades, $9.99 each

1 broom handle, $5.99

2 pieces 1"x 12"x 12" wood, one with a 7/8" hole drilled through the center, $2.00 (make sure that it is big enough for your broom handle to fit in)

Approximately 25' rope, $12.99

Black paint (or the color of your choise), already owned from this project

Hot glue gun

2 lightbulbs

Steps:

1. Glue wooden squares on top of each other so that the sides are flush and the hole is in the center. Let dry.

2. Paint base the color of your choice (I chose black). Let dry at least one day.

3. Place one end of broom handle into hole in base. Using an electric drill, drill a screw through the bottom of the base and into the handle, making sure it's secure.

4. Choose placement of lamps at top of broom handle. (I staggered mine a few inches). Fasten cords to handle with twist ties every few inches so that they stay taut._MG_4617

5. Heat hot glue gun. Starting at the base, glue rope to handle and press to adhere. Begin to wind rope around handle, glueing every few inches. Once you encounter lamp cords, make sure that they are pulled tightly and wrap rope around them and handle. Continue until you reach the top of the handle. Then, holding tightly, trim rope and glue to top.

6. Add an extension cord to lamp cords if necessary, light bulbs, and enjoy!

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Before & After: Dresser Makeover

When I was growing up, I painted (or rather, helped my mom paint) my bedroom a lovely, sunny ochre. My comforter cover was covered in stripes of different colors, and I painted the frame of my mirror bright blue. Sounds like a lot, I know, but somehow it all worked. In recent years, however, my tastes have become much more subdued and now I tend to gravitate much more to neutral colors -- but the one exception is gold (you can see my love for it here). When we were furnishing our apartment, we looked to Craigslist for many of the items as often you can find more unique items, and we didn't want to spend a ton of money. So when we found the below dresser from Ikea on Craigslist for $70, we decided to go for it, even though red is not really my color. I figured I would make it over somehow, and while pouring through the Design*Sponge archives one day, I came across this amazing copper-trimmed table. photoRight then and there, I decided to change my dresser from a mediocre red to dramatic black and gold. I like the look of chalkboard paint but I didn't want to actually write on the dresser, so I picked up some matte black paint from Benjamin Moore, along with some primer. I already had some Rustoleum gold spray paint from a previous project for the knobs, and I bought all of the gold leaf supplies (Leaf, Adhesive, and Sealant) from a local art store (it was around $30 total, as I needed two packets of gold leaf to cover the top of the dresser). See the step by step process and "after" pictures after the jump.

1.  Remove knobs from drawers, drawers from dresser, and sand all surfaces (drawer fronts, sides, front, and top of dresser. I chose not to do anything with the back as it would be against the wall)._MG_4648

2. In an outdoor space, (or, in your living room when your boyfriend is out of town with the windows wide open if you are in a tiny New York apartment) paint drawers and body of dresser with primer. I found this to be important, particularly with Ikea furniture since it isn't always made of real wood. Let dry for about a day.

3. Lightly sand knobs to make sure that the paint sticks. Spray paint gold, making sure to cover all surfaces. I did two coats._MG_4656

4. Paint drawers and body with 2-3 coats of matte black paint, letting dry for 12 hours or so in between coats (this took about 2 days for me).

5. Once paint is completely dry, follow steps to gold-leaf top of dresser here. I would definitely recommend using gloves and painter's tape -- I had kind of a hard time getting the leaf to lay evenly, but now I kind of like the marbled effect._MG_4657

Not necessarily the easiest of furniture makeovers, but I'm really happy with the way it turned out. Have you done any furniture makeovers lately?_MG_4659

DIY: Paper Anemones

_MG_4694I love fresh flowers. One of the loveliest parts about visiting my parent's house in the spring and summer is the abundance of peonies, lilacs and hydrangeas in their gardens. But having no outdoor space at my apartment, buying fresh flowers every week can get a little expensive. I recently saw these gorgeous paper flowers at West Elm, but even those were a little pricy at $5 apiece. So when I stumbled across this amazing tutorial on The Elli Blog, I couldn't have been happier -- and all you need is a color printer, some wire, and a glue gun. _MG_4691 It did take me a couple of hours (I made 10), but in the end I think it was definitely worth it. I of course won't be giving up fresh flowers completely, but in the meantime, these make a great alternative that last all year-round. Note that the ugly phone in the picture above is one of the unfortunate parts about living in a rented apartment, but I think that the anemones brighten up my little entry way considerably.

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Be sure to check out The Elli Blog for more amazing tutorials!

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DIY: Color-Blocked Basket

West Elm, $79 Martha Stewart Living, August 2010

I've been working on a few projects lately to spruce up the apartment (more to come!) This definitely isn't turning into a DIY blog, but given my love of design I figured I would share a few of these projects with you. The first one is really simple: all you need is a basket, one or two colors or paint, and some painter's tape. Using these pictures as inspiration, I decided to capitalize on the color-blocking trend and take this red-hued basket (not really my style) to a much more modern black and white. Here are the steps I followed:_MG_4560

First, choose your base color (alternatively, if you like the original color of the basket, you can skip this step). I used white spray paint, and sprayed about 4 coats on the exterior and interior of the basket until I had covered it completely. Let dry between coats, and let dry fully (1-2 days) before moving on to the next step._MG_4566

Next, tape your basket about a third of the way up from the bottom. Carefully paint sides and bottom of basket (below tape) with your second color, and let dry fully. Remove tape._MG_4600

That's it! Super easy. I also think it would be really fun to use silver or gold for the second color to add a bit of glamour. What do you think? Would you be interested to see more projects like this?