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DIY Inspiration Tips and Advice

Are Dining Rooms the New Library?

Formal dining rooms have always been a staple in the “American dream home”. I know when I first bought my house, I had been dreaming of how to design my formal dining room for such a long time. Fast forward 3 years, and I think MAYBE we have used it twice? Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful to look at but completely unused. So why not make it a space that IS used?
Enter the Library/Study. Since mid-2017, there has been a large influx of people completely doing away with the formal dining room and using the space in a new and inventive way; a library. You’re probably asking yourself “Well if I don’t use a formal dining room, I certainly won’t use a library!” Or will you?? Library is a very lose term now-a-days. It is also referred to as a study, home office or even a den. In most cases, people now create their “library/dining room” to be ONE space.
The staple and obvious point of a dining room is indeed the table, which is usually centered in the room. When changing your dining room into more of a library/study, you can still keep the table as is but use it more as a sit and read area, or maybe even a place where homework is generally done. This will allow for a more relaxed and quiet space with less distractions. Adding a bench to one side of the table is a great way to have seating but also not have it be “too comfy” as well so no one dozes off during homework time.
Dressing up the ceiling with a little ornamentation around a fun chandelier is also a great way to change things up in the space. In most cases, people will do at least one entire wall with floor to ceiling shelves that are covered in books, photo albums, picture frames and fun, elegant knick-knacks. In some cases we have even seen people use a wall of shelves for DVDs (or old video tapes!) if you’re more of a movie buff.
The most exciting thing about this new form/style of a dining room is that it can easily be used as an actual dining room again if needed down the road if you keep a long table in the middle. Ultimately, however you decided to remake this space, just be sure to make it your own and a space that will be used.
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DIY General Inspiration Tips and Advice

Bringing in the Bold: Charcoal

The gray color palette has been a trending style for the last few years. Some years it’s more muted, others a little brighter, but this year the trend is adding in the bold color of charcoal. The initial reaction is to shy away from the darkness in home décor, as not to overwhelm a space, but there are actually a few great ways to tie it into any space.

  1. Using it as a tile color. Whether it be a backsplash in your kitchen or a unique bathroom floor; charcoal tile, or even slate, can add a pop of color while maintaining a clean, streamlined look. The trend with darker tiles is usually to go with a tile that is a little larger, so the darker color does not overwhelm a space.
  2. An accent paint color. Bring the paint color in on a door, or the top half of a wall. Use it to make the trim in a room stand out. Dress up dated picture frames with a coat of paint. It is usually best to use it as an accent, being that painting an entire wall or room can drastically shrink the feel of the space.
  3. Re-purpose old furniture. Paint an outdated dresser. Re-paint kitchen cabinets. Even repaint wooden chairs for a dining room table. It is amazing when a piece looks like its ready to head to the junk yard, that it can be revived with a simple coat of paint. It’s generally easy to do with some sand paper, primer, and a can of paint.
  4. Use soft treatments. Generally, the easiest way to dress up a room, or change décor, it works here once again. Swap out bedding, add throw pillows, use blankets. Invest in new drapery, or blinds that will make the look of your windows really stand out. These are always pieces that are easier to swap out if you get bored of them over time.
  5. Exterior revamp. While charcoal may be a bold color for a room on the interior of the home, using it to paint the outside of your house is sure to give it a sharp look, and really increase the curb appeal (especially if you are switching from a more muted tone).

Keep in mind, that while this year charcoal is in, last year it was a lighter shade. You never know what next year will bring, so always keep in mind to keep it simple, and make sure that you love whatever you are changing or adding to your home!!

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DIY General Tips and Advice

Garage Organization

Garages are amazing. After having a home with one, I honestly can’t imagine ever living without one – especially during the winter time. The downside; it’s almost a guaranteed mess! When company is coming over for the holidays, you need to clean out your car, or you don’t have time to run something down to the basement – it suddenly all ends up in the garage. We’ve come up with some handy ideas for keeping things organized – and a great winter project to tackle after the holidays (when you probably acquired more of a mess out there).

Create/designate certain areas of your garage for certain items. In our garage we have one wall designated for rakes/shovels/ladders and all other outdoor equipment you need regularly accessible. We have one other wall designated for recreational “stuff” – a section for fishing, bikes, golf clubs, and outdoor toys. We have a section on the back wall designated for tools – with a workbench and peg board. The last area on the back wall has shelving where we store items that are not used as regularly and don’t need to be as easily accessible. (think Rubbermaid storage bins!) Even make sure to designate a space for your garbage and recycling bin. They tend to take up a lot of space, and if they don’t have a designated ‘home’ often get left in the most inconvenient space. If all of that still leaves you needing more storage, there are some simple ways to mount hanging storage from the ceiling of the garage – we haven’t gotten there yet, but I imagine it’s in our future!

Within each area, make the most out of the space. For the walls, the more hooks, hangers, and shelves you have the better use of the space you will get. If you have all the rakes and shovels hanging off the floor, you’ve suddenly cleared up space – or at the least made it easier to get in and out of your car. Make sure to build shelves that are heavy duty. They will be permanent, so you want to be sure they can hold whatever you may decide they need too down the road – and keep in mind that it’s your garage, so function outweighs décor every time.

Once you have created a space that has purpose, it is easier to keep things in order. And if by chance, things get messy (let’s be realistic – “when” things get messy), it’s an easier project to put everything back in its place.

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DIY General Inspiration Tips and Advice

Mudroom Design Tips

A lot of New England and Cape Cod style houses have an entry space which is commonly referred to as the “Mud Room.” The problem with most of these spaces is that they go from neat to disaster very quickly. Being the first room, you come into from outside, it is usually where shoes get thrown, the jackets tossed, and the book bags left behind until morning. While no solution will force your family to be neater, if you set up the room to make it as easy as possible, you might be surprised with what they are capable of!

The best tip we can come up with is to make it as “user friendly” as possible. For example, a specific place for shoes, a specific place for clothes, etc. With any of these elements, make features as decorative or simple as you want the space to be.

A necessity, especially in places where seasons change, is somewhere to fit jackets. If you don’t have a closet space for that area, a hanging coat rack can work great. A tip that is helpful, is to label each person’s name above two/three hooks. That will designate that each person is responsible for hanging in that space. Install a shelf, either above or below the coat rack, that will be home for a basket assigned to the same person. This will be specifically for hats/gloves/scarves. On the floor below, use separate mats that will be wear any shoes will live. It’s good to keep this all in one area, so when the kids come in from outside you will keep all the wet/dirty/snowy clothes in one place.

In a separate area create a space for everyone’s “things.” Whether it is your work bag, your husbands golf clubs, or your kids backpacks, designate an area where these things will belong. Consider your family, and decide whether hooks, hangers, or baskets would be the most useful.

A great feature I like to include in this space is a calendar. A whiteboard/chalkboard are great options, so you can update every week with any activities or events that everyone needs to remember. This can be your central space to fill in the family about what’s going on. I’ve seen some houses use this area as a space to write down any supplies/groceries that are needed or even what is for dinner on what night.

Hopefully, if you take these steps to neaten up the space, everyone will notice and try to pitch in. Good luck!!

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DIY General Inspiration Tips and Advice

Updating with Whitewash

Depending on your home, the look of brick could either make or break the décor of a room. Brick is something there is a lot of generally as well since it is often put into a room as an accent piece to begin with. Unfortunately, to remove/replace brick is a huge undertaking. Not only is it messy, its expensive, and very time consuming. Luckily, there is a great solution that is both simple and inexpensive!

White washing brick is actually quite simple. The best part is that this is something you can do yourself too, so you have control over how dark/light you leave the brick. To begin you need white (water based paint), water, a bucket, a paint brush (any old leftover brush will work), and a bunch of rags. Mix together half paint/half water, and start painting. Keep the rags handy because you don’t want to run into having streaks, so make sure you are wiping them up as you go. Some brick is more absorbent than others, so this will help you to determine how many coats to put on. Resist the urge to make the mixture thicker, because then you will lose the effect of the white wash, and just have solid painted brick. The first couple of layers you may not even see much of a difference – so keep going until you have reached a brightness you like. Most brick takes at least four coats to achieve the perfect white wash look, but again your own preference may be more or less.

As décor styles have changed and evolved (as most of us try to get away from red brick), so has the process of white washing. People have begun to use the same technique with more bold colors – grey, black, even blues. Do whatever fits in the room, remember this is a great accent to your room! Happy painting!!

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DIY Inspiration Tips and Advice

Designing Her “Big Girl Room”

As little girls grow older, they want and assert more independence and adventure out while trying to figure out who they are. Every girl wants a bedroom that is fun and embodies who she is.

For starters, spicing up the room up with bright fun colors is always a great place to begin this transformation. Try letting them choose two colors that blend well together. For example two shades of purple or a purple/pink combination. This will allow them to choose colors they like and are inspired by, while you still being able to say you opinion as well.

Next, try adding some funky furniture. Ikea and Target have great funky and original looking pieces that are relatively inexpensive and can really liven up the room. Look for furniture that is comfortable yet exciting. Such as fury bean bag chair, fuzzy rugs, egg shaped chairs or small hammocks. Having a really cool lamp is always interesting too. The right lighting in a room could truly make all the difference. Simple changes such as adding throw pillows to the bed or changing the bedding in general can also be a great addition or change to the room. 

Decorative stickers are always a plus and add more of a personal touch to the design. Depending on the age of the girl; there’s a wide variety to choose from. It can be her favorite Disney character, motivational quotes, butterfly stickers or their initials. Great thing about the stickers is that your choices are endless. If you really want to think out of the box; your local retail stores carry chalk board stickers that come in all shapes and it’s cool for all ages. Which can be used for several reasons; such as a calendar, a things to do board or a signature space for their friends.

There is no major rhyme or reason to putting the room together. At the end of the day; the goal is to make sure the room is fun, inviting, and filled with all things she loves which makes her feel special.

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DIY Tips and Advice

DIY – Get Your Kids Organized

Looking for something to do on those rainy days?  We’ve come up with a list of fun projects you can do with the kids inside – and clean up and dress up their bedrooms a little while you are at it!!

Create a “holding area” for stuffed animals. It’s amazing how many stuffed animals a child can acquire over short periods of time; and how much space these little creatures take up! There are a few great ways to organize them which are both easy and cute! One option is to get a bunch of “crates” from the dollar store – they come in a variety of colors/sizes (depending on your child’s collection). Have your child help you set them up and come up with an arrangement – mount them on the wall or in a corner of the room, tie them together with bows or label them by animal/size/whatever your child wants! Another great option is to get netting/fabric and create a hammock for the animals! You can attach it to the walls with simple ribbons and hooks – this generally works best in a corner so you can create a bigger holding area. Let your kids help design/decorate but let it be known that this is “their home” now and you expect them to be put away into it each night before bedtime.

Create a “weekly clothes planner”. A simple but very useful tool to make mornings before school much quicker and easier. All you need is a hanging sweater/shoe organizer and some simple art supplies. Clear a space in the middle of the closet for the organizer to hang and have your child create labels for all of the days of the week. On Sunday nights before bed, have your kids pick out outfits for each day and put them in the proper compartment. Your daily routine has now become one step less complicated!

Create an Art Wall. Instead of art getting thrown around the room, create an area to feature the pieces. A trip to the dollar store is a great place to start; grab some different size/shape/color picture frames, thumbtacks and clothespins. Design a layout with your kids – remove the glass from the picture frames – they will just be used as an outline for where to display the work. Then use the thumbtacks to hang the clothespins directly to the wall. The clothespins will be used to clip a drawing or painting into place.

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DIY Tips and Advice

Dorm Room Decorating!

Ok Back to School has come and gone and now you’ve had a chance to settle into your new dorm room. You’re “getting use to” that stranger you were stuck living with and the small living space you now call home; so – how do you organize, design and decorate now that you’re into the hustle and bustle of your new day to day independant life?! We put together a list of a few good tips on how to decorate this “new home” of yours.

  • Lots of pictures! While you may have been super excited to get out on your own, now that you’ve unpacked and settled in, reality has surely set in that you are suddenly far away from family and friends you have been use to seeing all the time! Having pictures around your space is a great way to remember they are only a phone call away. And make sure to get some fun picture frames – kill two birds with one stone – bring the memories, and dress up your walls with colorful/shiny/bright frames!
  • Add some personality! The long and short of it – dorm rooms are bland. The walls are boring. The furniture is boring. The window coverings are boring. Whatever elements you bring with you – make sure they are anything but boring. From area rugs, to your comforter set and throw pillows, even your towels! The styles this year include bold chevron prints, nautical patterns, and natural prints (think leaves/florals). A pretty timeless way to bring in colors is by hanging fabrics on the wall (almost like wallpaper – but much easier to remove at the end of the year).
  • Stay organized! Being that the space is limited, the more organized you stay the better. Utilize any space you have in the room to your fullest potential. For clothes – get bins that fit under your bed, and add hanging closet organizers. For school work – make the most out of the drawer space in your desk – add dividers and folders, and add shelves on top of your desk to separate paperwork by classes. For toiletries/accessories – make the most out of your dresser space (think folding clothes rather than shoving), and again build up (usually where you find the most space), by adding shelves on top of your dresser.

Don’t forget – college is an awesome experience, you make great memories, great friends, and hopefully learn a lot along the way!

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DIY Tips and Advice

DIY – Princess Bedroom!

Not every little girl dreams of being a princess, but if they do, guaranteed they will want a princess bedroom! The dilemma is, how to do it on a pretty low budget, in case she grows out of the princess phase next year!!

Nothing embodies a princess more than pink and glitter. For starters, a coat of paint will instantly transform the space. Keep in mind, pink paint always looks brighter on the walls than at the paint stores because it reflects around the room. Another way to bring in the pink in through bedding, blankets, and pillows (all reasonably inexpensive thing to change out). We suggest looking at big box stores, and discount home good stores for a good variety of princess related bedding. Curtains are also a great way to change up the room, because the light shining through them will give an accent to the room. Fun tip – get a variety of inexpensive princess jewelry (think dollar store) – and use them as accents, for example exchange a holdback hook on your curtains for a crown!

To bring in some glitter, a great place to start is to use existing accessories and accent them with a coat of glitter. You can update light switch covers by coating them in modpodge and sprinkling them with glitter! The same can be done to any other small items around the room – ceiling fan pulls, door knobs, etc. Another simple change is handles/knobs on dressers/nightstands. A lot of home improvement stores sell princess themed pulls (just keep the old ones somewhere safe in case you ever want to switch them back).

A great accent piece is some wall décor featuring either a picture of a favorite princess, or a print out of a favorite quote from a princess story or movie. You can bring in both color and style through the print itself as well as the frame you chose to use. They are an easy accent to create and change, so add a few, and decide how big/small you need them to be based on the wall space you are looking to fill.

Remember, you may only have a princess for a couple of years – so enjoy the moment!!

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DIY Tips and Advice

Decorating + Back To School

As the summer draws to an end, the unfortunate reality sets in that school is right around the corner. If you are disappointed, imagine how your kids are feeling! From our personal experience, it always seems to help to do some fun projects together before the kids get back to school. To get in the spirit of school, there are a few around the home projects that can be both fun and helpful to get everyone in the swing of things.

  • Creating/Updating a “Family Communication Center.” It always proves to be useful (even with all of the technology available) to have one central area in the house with a central calendar, areas for notes to be left for other members of the family, and a place to put any flyers that come home from school. Useful tip – when recording things on the calendar color code things for each person, so at a quick glance you know what is going on that day. Using one central calendar can help to not double book as well! Get your kids involved by letting them help you to design the space – generally a section of the kitchen or mudroom work best so everyone has to pass by them! In my house, we painted a wall in the mudroom an accent color, with six months of whiteboard calendars (which allows them to be re-used but have things marked in advance), a cork board to hang up all notices/flyers, and a plain whiteboard where we can leave notes for each other. It’s also a great place to use chalkboard paint – but that does tend to require a little more up keep!
  • Create a backpack/coat organization area. Create a space where each child has their own space to put their stuff when they get home from school – ensuring they know where it is before getting on the bus in the morning! Depending on how old your kids are will dictate how much/what type of storage you need – but a hook for a backpack, jacket, a bin for gloves and a hat, a place to put paperwork, and perhaps some shelves to leave books. The best part, aside from knowing where everything is in the morning, is that having this separate area tends to cut down on the mess of things thrown throughout the rest of the house. Make it fun for the kids by allowing them to decorate “their space” however they want!
  • Create a homework station. Get together with your kids and create a list of all of the items they will need for homework – from paperclips to pencils to crayons to colored paper to markers to folders to scissors. After you have compiled the list search the house for the items you have, and shop for whatever else they may need. Stop by the dollar store and purchase different size/shape containers that you can store the different items in. Find a place in the house you know the items will stay (this will hopefully give your kids a sense of accountability too – at least for a little while!).

Whatever project you decide to do with your kids, make it fun and let them personalize it!!

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