As we round the end of July, I first want to thank you guys for hanging in there with me over the last two months of sporadic posting and some unexpected radio silence as my family and I wade through one of our toughest moves yet. I am dying to fill you in on everything going on behind the scenes…and promise to do so very soon…but just know that I so appreciate your patience as I slowly get back into my blogging groove! And while things have been a bit quiet around here at times, I’ve still had quite a few posts and projects go live on various sites around the web. So before I officially close out our Kansas chapter here on the blog (next week!), I thought I’d pop in with a quick round-up of some other posts for you to check out. As usual, please remember these projects will never appear here on THIHM, so I appreciate you taking the time to support the work that allows me to keep THIHM up and running!
The folks over at ForRent.com love articles full of tips and tricks; and this summer’s articles sure are packed with all sorts of useful home decor and rental goodies! From dressing up a boring bedroom and adding more light to a dark rental to repurposing closets and updating thrift store finds, these articles provide lots of creative ways for making your rental (or any home!) a bit more you!
Over on Mique’s blog, 30 Handmade Days, I have two quick, fun and easy projects for you to check out. The first is that Paper Flower Artwork that I mentioned on Tuesday; and the other is a car caddie for kids (which was a total lifesaver on our recent cross-country trip!). Check them out by following the links below!
This weekend, I will be emerging from my social media hibernation to kick off an Instagram series that will take you along on our cross-country journey that leads to our new home. Check back here on Saturday for all the details!
As the end of the month approaches, I am (finally!) wrapping up the room reveals in our Kansas home. Today’s post marks the last room reveal post; and while I wish I could say I “saved the best for last,” this room most accurately reflects the challenges of living in (and decorating!) a room for only one year. In room reveal after reveal in this home, I have been proclaiming my newfound love for neutral walls and spaces that are brought to life via the things in them rather than the color on the walls. This room, however, is the single exception to that sentiment…in this home at least. I absolutely adore every single unique element in this space. But with the neutral walls and carpet alongside our light and bright furniture, this room has continued to feel flat and unfinished no matter what I do to it. Over the year of living in and working on this room, I was forced to accept that it would never look quite “right” to me. But thanks to a handful of simple and sweet DIY details, we were able to make this spacious bedroom into a master bedroom retreat! Let me give you the full tour!
(As usual, all the tutorials, links, and product resources for this room will be listed at the bottom of the post for easy reference!)
Before digging into the details of this room, here is a look at the room the day we moved in. It’s easily the largest master bedroom we have ever had (and probably ever will have!), with high ceilings, large blank walls, and great flow. I was originally concerned about the two small windows being the only source of natural light in this room; but the nearby bathroom also brings in a lot of sunshine for most of the day.
We combined our dressers, side tables, and other accessories from our last home with a new bed (Happy 10 year anniversary to us!) and some new textiles (curtains, pillows) to achieve a decidedly different feel to our master bedroom from our previous NC home. Have a look…
The focal point of the room is our new king-sized (ooo la la!) navy velvet bed layered with crisp white linens and a load of patterned pillows!
Ya’ll know I love fabrics and patterns more than any other home decor element, but mixing patterns can be super tricky. And because I tend to want to use too many great patterns in a single room, I often fail at it. Either I am finally getting the hang of pattern matching OR I got lucky this time, because this combination of pillows gives me ALL the heart eyes!
Above the bed hangs one of my most successful DIYs of all time…our spray-painted circle mirror!
Besides the color of the walls, the main obstacle in this space was figuring out how to dress the awkward corner windows. Thanks to a $0.99 plastic piece from the plumbing section at the hardware store, I was able to achieve a corner curtain rod on the cheap. Paired with our old shower curtains-turned window curtains, this window setup is one of my favorite parts of this whole room!
For almost the entire year we’ve lived in this house, the expanse of wall to the right of the window felt so boring and empty to me. In true Megan fashion, inspiration hit in the final weeks, and I decided to re-create the floral pillow sham fabric in art form using paper. I am so crazy over how this simple art project came out and continue to be amazed at what can be done with a stack of colored paper!
(If you’re scratching your head saying “Wait, I never saw that project tutorial!!!” It’s because it was for one of my free-lance assignments. You can now see it HERE!!!)
Underneath the flower artwork are our two handy hampers that we still love. They were given a quick update to match the room with new fabric lids.
Here’s a look at the far wall opposite the bathroom.
Our large and lovely grey dresser sits on the wall opposite the bed, along with all the chrome accessories we’ve accumulated over the years. Admittedly, this light dresser and monochromatic accessories on the beige wall look ridiculously boring to me. But we weren’t going to paint either the wall or the dresser for the year, so I accepted it and just pretend the wall behind the setup is really navy 😉
One of my favorite and most functional organizing projects in this entire home are my jewelry organizers. They were moved into my dark closet after I shot these photos; but after struggling for years with the best way to store and display my jewelry so that I’d actually use it, these have been complete winners (and so simple to make)!
On the final wall is both my closet and the door to our master bathroom.
I’ve already given the “full tour” here on the blog, but now you can see how these two spaces work together…
I’ve done my best to round-up the products used in this space. If there is something I’ve overlooked, let me know in the comments!
Navy velvet bed – Joss & Main
White quilted coverlet – HomeGoods
White quilted pillow shams – DIY, made out of a coverlet from Marshalls
Floral pillow sham – DIY, fabric from Hobby Lobby
White/silver throw pillows – DIY, fabric was remnant at local shop
Blue/white scallop pillow shams – DIY, fabric from JoAnn Fabrics
Silver circle mirror above bed – DIY, mirror originally from Kirklands
Grey/white bird curtains – DIY, fabric from Hancock Fabrics
Black curtain rods – IKEA
Hampers – Ross with DIY covers
Flower Paper Artwork – DIY
Small grey dresser – thrifted then DIY
Large grey dresser – thrifted then DIY
Large silver rectangle mirror – HomeGoods
Large silver tray on large dresser – HomeGoods
Silver candlesticks/vases – HomeGoods
White/navy bathroom towels – Target
Navy/white rug in bathroom – HomeGoods
Lamps, grey – HomeGoods
Lamp, crystal – HomeGoods
New Projects Since Moving to Kansas
Other Projects Seen In This Space
I certainly don’t mean to be dramatic when I suggest this space is so “blah.” I just try very hard to work with what I’ve got in the time I’ve got to make a room shine. I’m not sure I embraced this space enough to make it the best I could in the time we had. However, I do think I’ve moved our bedroom design in a direction I really love (navy + grey + lots of white!) and I am super anxious to continue and complete the vision in our next home!
Before I sign off for today, one last look at this space…
Do you have a space in your home that you just can’t seem to get right? Have you found yourself fighting with a wall color or piece of furniture but just not compelled to change it out? I’d love to hear how you’ve moved beyond some “tricky” design hurdles in your living situation!
A few months ago, I kicked off a Using the Cricut Explore for Home Decor Series (you can catch up on previous posts here: Intro | The Essentials). As most of you know, along with my sewing machine, my Cricut Explore is how I make custom and budget-friendly decor for our home. There are so many things the Cricut Explore can cut; but next to paper, the main thing I use it for is vinyl! From wall and furniture decals to labels and personalized gifts, cutting vinyl is seemingly a weekly occurrence around here (if not more!). I realize there are many, many blog posts and videos specifically dedicated to vinyl out there on the world wide web (if you need more info or want to go more in depth, I recommend YouTube!). However, over the years and dozens of projects I’ve completed, I’ve picked up some tried-and-true tips and tricks for working with vinyl. Hopefully this post will help the newbies out there get started with vinyl and perhaps show you vinyl veterans some time-saving tricks! Let’s jump in!
Many of the wall and furniture treatments I’ve done over the years have involved vinyl, and almost every single labeling project I do is made out of vinyl too! Vinyl is now available in pretty much every color and sheen (and now even patterns!), making the possibilities for your home and your projects endless!
There are lots and lots of vinyl options available these days. Admittedly I haven’t experimented with too many options; but that is mostly because when I stumble upon something I really like, I don’t feel compelled to keep looking for other options. My preference is Oracle 651 vinyl, and I like the high gloss version (but have also used the matte finish on many occasions). Although the 651 is listed as “permanent, non-removable,” I have been able to remove it from most surfaces (with some effort). That said, the removable/indoor option (Oracle 631) is also a great if you want a surely removable choice.
I find it helpful to keep a variety of colors on hand. Beyond blog/home projects (on which I tend to use a limited color palette), I often personalize water bottles, crayon boxes, art kits and other items as birthday presents for Henry’s little friends. Being able to cut a child’s favorite image in their favorite color is part of what makes the gift so special; and having an array of colors keeps me from running to the store with each birthday invitation.
About 18 months ago, I invested in 30 5′ rolls of Oracle 651 for about $100 via this listing on eBay. I have yet to work through it all, and I work with vinyl a lot! Ebay has lots of different “set” options for vinyl (from 6 rolls and up), as well as sets of 12×12″ sheets. Check out all the options here. I also love these packs from Amazon, which gives you a 12×12″ sheet of 24 different colors.
In addition to vinyl, you will also need some transfer paper in order to make your images look clean and professional on your end project. I’ll get more into detail of transfer paper below, but hands down this one by Cricut is my favorite. Not only is clear transfer paper a must (for lining up and layering your images!), but the grids on this transfer paper and its durability make it better than anything I’ve ever used. Order yourself a couple rolls, and keep it on hand!
How to Cut Vinyl with the Cricut Explore
Now that you have your vinyl, you will first need to design your image using Cricut Design Space (which is Cricut’s free online design software). Once upon a time, Cricut’s machines weren’t able to handle intricate cuts and small details, but those problems have been fixed ever since they introduced the Explore line. I’ve never had an issue with a design being too intricate or detailed, so design your little heart out!
Once you design and send your image to be cut, you will be prompted to load your mat into the machine. Before doing so, line up the edge of your vinyl with the leading edge of the mat. Press firmly and smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles.
TIP! Notice that I didn’t say “cut a piece of vinyl to fit your design and secure it to the mat.” To save the time and hassle of measuring (and running the risk of your image not fitting), don’t bother cutting down your vinyl. In almost all cases when I cut an image, I secure enough vinyl to the mat to fit my image, then let the rest of the roll sit on the mat (so that it will ride with the mat as the machine is cutting).
After your mat is loaded but BEFORE you hit cut, double check that your machine is set to “Vinyl.” Sure you can cut vinyl on other settings, but the machine is perfectly optimized to cut vinyl in order to make transferring the image cleanly and easily.
TIP! If you change mediums a lot, it might be helpful to post a sticky note or other reminder to prompt you to check the dial before hitting cut each and every time!
Once you hit the cut button, the machine will cut your image with incredible precision. Below, you can see some labels lightly cut for my purse pouches a while back.
Once the image is cut, trim away the vinyl roll. Not only does this ensure you have enough vinyl for the entire image, but it helps conserve vinyl and reduce the amount of waste/little pieces left over (more on that in a minute!).
Once the roll of vinyl is cut away, leave your cut image secured to the mat (or re-stick it to the mat if it peeled off while you were cutting away). Most often, vinyl is on rolls; and once you pull it off the sticky mat, is often rolls back up, making the cleaning/weeding process much harder.
TIP! By leaving the cut design on the mat, it remains perfectly flat so you can continue to work on the design to prepare it for transfer.
To clean up the image, simply pull away all the “negative vinyl” (essentially anything that is not part of the final image). If you used the vinyl setting AND have a good blade on your machine, your vinyl should pull away perfectly, often in a single piece. Even if it pulls away easily however, be sure to take your time so that you don’t accidentally pull off small details from the image. Also, try hard to not let the sticky side of the vinyl you are removing stick to any part of the final cut image. Vinyl stretches, and pulling the vinyl apart can often distort your final image.
Once your image is fully cleaned up and all the negative vinyl has been pulled away, it’s time to transfer it to your project! When I first started working with vinyl, I used to painstakingly transfer one piece of my image at a time (by hand!). This method often left me with distorted shapes and poor spacing between the non-connected elements. The key to perfectly transferring your image from the cut mat to your project is to use transfer paper!
Watch THIS video to see transfer paper in action. Essentially, cut down a piece of transfer paper to fit your ENTIRE image and peel away the paper backing. Then place the transfer paper sticky-side-down onto your cut image. You can’t really smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles once the transfer paper is on your image, so take the time to lay the transfer paper on flat and smooth! Press down firmly to make sure the entire vinyl image sticks to the transfer paper, then carefully peel up the transfer paper (which will have your vinyl image attached to it!)
With your entire image safely on the transfer paper, you can now place your design wherever you want it by simply reversing the process. Place the entire stretch of transfer paper (with your vinyl shape attached) down onto your clean and smooth project surface. Press down firmly on all the elements of your vinyl design to ensure the shapes have adhered to your project surface. Then, carefully peel away the transfer paper to reveal your perfectly aligned, bubble-free design behind!
TIPS! on transfer paper:
Vinyl is a one trick pony (meaning, it can’t be pulled off and used again and again), but transfer paper can be used over and over and over again until the stick wears down (usually about 3-5 applications). So save the paper backing and re-use your transfer paper until it doesn’t seem to pick up the vinyl easily.
Transfer paper works best when putting vinyl onto hard surfaces; however, you can use it to transfer vinyl to fabric (like I did here) or plastic (like I did below). You just need to REALLY press every millimeter of your image down as much as possible before removing the transfer paper. Even then, you will still need to pull the transfer paper away really, really slowly to ensure the paper release the image onto your less hard surface!
Are you mid-project and JUST realized you are out of transfer paper? Painters tape and clear contact paper both do the job almost as well!
Tips and Tricks for Cutting Images from Vinyl
I mentioned earlier that I don’t like to cut my vinyl down to my project size in an effort to conserve vinyl. Here is an example of why. Below is a stretch of vinyl that, as you can see, has been cut from a variety of different sides.
Instead of cutting down a little piece of vinyl for my next cut (which would potentially leave me with other small, awkward slices of vinyl), I simply line up my vinyl so that I have a straight edge along the top, no matter how wide it is. TIP! Then…in my Preview Cut Screen (just before you send your image to be cut), you can choose where exactly to place your cut image. I use the grid boxes on both my mat and my screen to place the image where I have enough vinyl to fit the entire cut. In this case, I moved my cut image from the default placement (upper left) to the upper right where I have plenty of vinyl for the cut!
Then, just like last time, I secured the cut to my mat and peeled away the negative vinyl…
However, this time, the negative space wasn’t all connected so it didn’t pull off in a single stretch. There were still some cut details inside the image and words that needed to be “weeded out.” As I mentioned in my Essentials post, I by-pass my fancy Cricut tools for weeding and head straight to my sewing drawer for my seam ripper!
For whatever reason, I find it does the best job at getting all those tiny pieces of vinyl pulled out quickly and cleanly!
Then, just as before and with every, single vinyl project I do, I use transfer paper to move my cut image to my final project…
(You can read more about these Linen Closet labels here, and I will actually be sharing these cut files next month!)
Unless you buy samples or smaller sheets (often available in variety packs), vinyl most often comes on rolls in order to keep it crease- and bubble-free. Since I like to keep a lot of colors on-hand for any project that might come along, storage can sometimes be a bit awkward and cumbersome. I’ve tried a few methods over the years; but currently, I have all my rolls tucked into a large, snap-lock tupperware. I like that the bin has a lid (so I can store it on it’s side like a briefcase), and it is shallow enough that finding and digging out rolls is pretty easy.
This storage methods keeps my rolls from becoming too disorderly (I have to roll and tape them up each time!), and it also limits me to how much I can have on hand!
Despite my efforts to waste as little vinyl as possible, small scraps and cuts are unavoidable. Because it is so easy to place cuts strategically on the cutting mat via the preview screen, I save most anything that is usable in a 12×12 scrapbook storage box. When I am making gifts, cutting single images, or have small details to cut, I often stop here to see what I have before pulling out my large collection of rolls.
Coming Up Soon In This Series!
I realize there are so many great Cricut tutorials and resources available on the web…many of which I use. But there are also some other tricks and tips I’ve picked up along the way that I can’t wait to share with you guys. Here is what I have lined up for the coming months. If you have other topics you want me to cover, leave me a note in the comments!
Part 4: Creating Your Own Overlay Patterns – Come Soon!
Part 5: How to Make a Stencil – Coming Soon!
Working with vinyl can seem really intimidating at first, but I promise you will get the hang of it in no time! Weeding and transferring the vinyl does take some practice, so I recommend playing around with different images and texts and techniques before making something “for real.” Once you get the hang of it, I know you’ll be addicting to making awesome and personalized items for you, your family and friends! I am sure there are lots of details I forgot, so if you have a specific question, leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you!
I hope you all have a great weekend! I’ll be back next week with our final room tour of our Kansas home (#sniff!) and then a quick round-up of my writings over the last few months! See you back here soon!
In recent weeks, I’ve been plowing through room reveal after room reveal in preparation for a final home tour before closing out our Kansas chapter. (You can catch up on the Office, Henry’s Bedroom, Playroom, Living Room, Linen Closet, Laundry Room, and Deck so far!). Among the last few “final” spaces to show you are the kitchen and dining room. Admittedly, these two rooms (some of the ones we spend the most time in!) received the least amount of DIY attention. Despite not taking on full makeovers however, both of these rooms illustrate that even with just a few impactful (and inexpensive) accessories, bland and boring rental kitchen and dining rooms can feel stylish and personalized!
(As usual, all the tutorials, links, and product resources will be listed at the bottom of the post for easy reference!)
Before diving into the afters, let’s take a quick walk down memory lane and look at the house the day we moved in last June. When we moved into this home, I was quite excited about a number of spaces and features…the kitchen was not one of them. Ya’ll know that brown is not my favorite; and the brown floors and cabinets and beige counters and backsplash were leaving me uninspired. I was initially concerned about the number of cabinets; but as you will soon see, we were able to charm up this space and carve out some clever storage to meet all of our needs!
Here is a look at the adjoining dining room (the kitchen is just off to the left of the shot below). Hardwood floors, two large windows, and a neutral wall color gave me quite the workable foundation!
We ended up buying/doing very few new things for this space and instead re-purposed and re-imagined a lot of the furniture, storage containers, and accessories we had from other spaces in our previous homes. As I step back and look through these pictures, even I am amazed at how much some simple curtains and accessories can transform a space. Let me take you through the whole space, starting on the kitchen side!
The corner windows tucked back behind the sink provided a bit of a decor challenge. These no-sew decorative roman shades added just enough texture and decor to make the space feel more complete. Their ability to block some of the intense afternoon sun was an added bonus!
This is the very first time having an island in our kitchen, and boy do we totally get the appeal! Not only do Greg and Henry sit and keep me company while I am cooking, but the island certainly is the main gathering spot during all of our parties!
I try to keep my counters as clutter-free as possible. My painted utensil jars are still going strong (and one of my most popular projects!), and they add the perfect pop of color in this very neutral kitchen.
Over on the right side of the kitchen near the pantry is where we keep a few other items that we use on a daily/hourly basis!
We’re pretty serious about our coffee around here, so the final little stretch of counter space between the stove and the refrigerator houses our coffee pot, grinder and accessories. All the mugs are located in the cabinet just above this setup!
I was originally quite worried about the amount of cabinet space in this kitchen. When I discovered that the drawers and cabinets were much larger than the usual build-grade versions we’re used to, my worries faded! I am able to store all of our kitchen items (and then some!) in the cabinets, and these extra-wide and -deep drawers really work extra hard for us thanks to some DIY drawers dividers!
Under the kitchen sink is never a pretty spot with the pipes and garbage disposal so obvious and in the way…but thanks to a cheery and super functional cleaning caddie, these under-the-sink doors aren’t so bad to open!
The skinny pantry was another aspect of the kitchen I was less-than-enthused about…
But thanks to some pretty and clever storage solutions, we are really able to squeeze a ton of function into this awkward space!
Finding and implementing just the right food storage systems is one of my favorite aspects of putting a kitchen together. This time around, I utilized a variety of bins and baskets to store everything from dry goods and liquids to snacks and spices!
Even our freezer got a little organizational overhaul this past Spring. I LOOVE the drawer-type freezer and will certainly miss the space and functionality we have in this top/bottom combo!
Right next to the fridge is a spot I haven’t yet shown you…mainly because it’s a really awkward wall to photograph. But it’s here that I have my Mom’s amazing food still-life art pieces on display!
All in all, just a handful of DIYs, some great organization, and a few decor touches help make this rental kitchen feel a little less basic and a little more homey!
Now let’s take a look at the dining room side of the space!
This room has pretty much looked the same since the 3-Months In Home Tour. All the elements you see fell into place rather quickly by just pulling the various items together from our previous homes (I love it when things come together so easily!); Unfortunately, I just ran out of time and steam to finish the few DIYs I wanted to do in this space. Still…this bright, crisp and fresh space is one of my favorites in the entire house!
The flowered curtains are a huge part of what I love about this space…and the striped rug of course. I wouldn’t naturally pair these items together, but somehow everything just works here!
The sunlight coming in this back window is the best in the entire house so many of the plants have found their way to this buffet!
We placed our “dining hutch” on the long wall on the right side of the room. In our last house, this hutch+mirror arrangement served as an entryway bookcase. This time around, it holds all of our dishes (as it was originally intended!) and serves as a perfect focal point for the dining area!
Our most-commonly used dishes are in our cabinets, but this hutch is a great way to display our serving pieces, my pitcher collection, and some pretty cookbooks!
I never finished a fourth art piece (for under the crab) and the chairs never got re-covered in bright cobalt fabric; but all in all, this space was easy to pull together using items we already had on hand!
I’ve done my best to round-up the products used in this space. If there is something I’ve overlooked, let me know in the comments!
And because I can’t resist before/after shots side-by-side, let’s take one last look!
It’s super tricky to get the entire space in a single shot, but this last one should give you an idea of how the two spaces work together!
I’m happy to report that after 2 months of craziness for our little family, I think I am finally in a place where I can (mostly!) get back to business as usual around here. Coming up next, my tips and tricks for working with vinyl in my latest installment of Cricut Explore for Home Decor! See you then!
The effect was certainly dramatic and eye-popping in my home office…
Raise your hand if you seriously doubted the wallpaper would come off as easily and cleanly as I promised?
How many of you wanted to try it but have been waiting to see if it really was a true, renter-friendly solution?
Who is convinced I spent hours and hours removing wallpaper in an effort to return our walls to the original condition we found them?
Well…watch my very first video here on the blog (eeeeek!) to see for yourself!
I kid you not, all the wallpaper in my office was down in about 5 minutes. There was NO residue or paper left on the walls; and each and every sheet peeled off in perfect form. In fact, I rolled it all up and have every intention of using it again!
This wallpaper project goes down as one of my most successful renter-friendly DIYs ever. In fact, I’m so smitten with this technique for changing up walls without using paint, that I just might use it in every room and every home from now on! #kiddingnotkidding
Whether you are a renter or not but have been craving the look of wallpaper in your space, I now can recommend with confidence that you give THIS method a try! (However, pretty please test a small piece on your walls before doing a full installation!) There are a lot of great wallpaper companies out there to find awesome patterns; I am currently crushing on the variety and options over at Graham and Brown! From modern to traditional and across a variety of price points and colors, you will be sure to find something that works in your home!
I’m going to do a full “Hit and Miss” post of all my renter-friendly wall projects in a few weeks, but I couldn’t wait to show you how well this one turned out since I know there’s been so much interest! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know!
Have a great weekend everyone! See you back here next week!