Category Archives: DIY projects

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thrift store makeover: chalkboard paint + a globe

10th November 2014

When I had my black chalkboard paint out the other weekend – remember how I gave this tray a makeover? – I did another quickie DIY project on a globe I had picked up at the thrift store. Apparently I was on some kind of chalkboard paint kick?

Here was the globe pre-painting. I really liked the vintage colours of the globe itself, but wasn’t so crazy about the faux wood base. It doesn’t look too terrible in these photos, but in person it was definitely erring on the side of tacky. Plus it was all scratched up.

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It took two coats of black chalkboard paint that I applied with a small brush. No sanding or priming necessary. I was careful so I didn’t need to tape anything out. Then as with any chalkboard paint application, after it has dried, you want to cover the paint in a layer of chalk for a few mins, then rub off. This “sets” the chalkboard paint so that the first message you write on doesn’t leave an imprint forever. I usually try and do this with the side of a piece of chalk, but this base was tricky to get at so I just had to lightly draw all over it.

DSC_0010After I rubbed off the first layer, I decided to write a little message. Ideas included “adventure”, “travel”, “see the world”, “oyster”, etc, but in the end settled on “Explore”.

Nothing fancy – just my handwriting and an arrow to loop around.

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The fun thing is that you can totally switch up the message over time, or just leave the base black. Kinda has a cool library vibe, don’t you think? It’ll definitely be making it up onto the built in shelves that we are planning in the main floor office.

Have you used chalkboard paint on unconventional items? I have been on a total kick. I just love the matte texture, even if you don’t use it to actually write on. Now, what to paint next ….

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DIY this: jewellery tray makeover with chalkboard paint

5th November 2014

I’ve got a really simple DIY project for you guys today. And although it might be easy, it’s super chic – a black chalkboard tray.

DIY jewellery tray makeover with chalkboard paint

I’m always coming across trays at the thrift store. Often they have been painted or are some kind of plastic or tin, but when I came across this one – bare wood and perfectly primed for a makeover of some kind – I grabbed it. No prep necessary? My kind of project. Plus it was only a buck. No big loss if it didn’t work out.

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I hummed and hawed about doing a pattern of some kind, but in the end I just wanted something simple to put my jewellery on. I made these gold stamped jewellery stands a few months ago which have been great for earrings, but I have my bracelets and some rings just haphazardly sitting on a dresser.

I decided on black and initially gave the tray a couple coats of matte black spray paint. It looked terrible. It turned out really quite blotchy, you could see a lot of the wood grain through it, and it felt rough to the touch even though I had given it a sand.

Before calling it a #ProjectFail, I thought I would break out my chalkboard paint. The paint is so thick and I LOVE the matte texture of a chalkboard. I put two coats on with a regular paintbrush….

and….? Totally gorge.  Has that matte look I was going for and is the perfect backdrop for my baubles.

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I threw a few felt furniture pads on the bottom of the tray so that it doesn’t mark any table or dresser that it sits on.DSC_0050

I didn’t seal the paint or anything because I really wanted to keep that chalky look, so I’ll keep you posted on how it holds up. You could totally do this same project and actually write on it with chalk — could be cute if you wrote out the different foods or drinks you were serving.DSC_0048That’s it! Super simple, hey? Keep your eyes peeled next time you are out thrifting!

How do you guys store your jewellery? Have it hanging up on a wall somewhere? In a box? Have little trays for everything? When we move back into our house, I’m thinking of taking one of the walls in my closet and putting hooks all over it for necklaces, scarves, etc. Would be so nice to have them all on display in one spot.

 

DIY vintage window seating chart - the sweetest digs1 (small)

DIY wedding: vintage window seating chart

22nd September 2014

Do you remember that old 6-pane window that I turned into a picture frame, and then painted with Annie Sloan chalk paint and gifted it to my brother and sister-in-law for their nursery? Well, before it ended up on baby Mae’s walls, it also moonlighted as a vintage window seating chart at my girlfriend’s wedding.

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Here it was after my original makeover (see that tutorial for how to add wire for hanging photos). DIY vintage window turned picture frame

And then where it ended up in baby Mae’s nursery. DIY vintage window picture frame - the sweetest digs

But let’s back up to the seating chart. My girl Courtney was getting married, and had decided on elements like vintage blue mason jars, old hardcover books, and beautiful succulents for her wedding decor. I knew the vintage window would fit in perfectly. I pretty much forced myself as her wedding stylist along with another pal, Caroline, so I took over the seating chart duties.

To make the little sheets that would hang in the window panes, I grabbed some cream coloured cardstock and downloaded the “Travelling Typwriter” font. Instead of doing a sheet of paper per table, since there weren’t 6 tables, I organized all of the names alphabetically and then identified the table number beside their name. So it looked like this: “Name…………………. Table No”.

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Then it was just a matter of printing and cutting out the sheets of paper and clipping them onto the wire. Here is a pic I snapped on my phone that night. You’ll see I also made a “Name & Table No” piece for the top, and a “Find your seat” sheet to sit on the wine barrel. The whole thing took very little time to make and looked pretty darling. DIY vintage window seating chart - the sweetest digs2

And here is a much more beautiful photo, care of their lovely photographer Findley FotoDIY vintage window seating chart - the sweetest digs1

More photos of their gorgeous day to come later this week!

Okay seriously, vintage windows … you can use them in so many different ways, hey? Don’t hesitate to ever grab these on the side of the road if you ever see them in someone’s garbage. Junkyard gold. 

DIY bunk beds 7 - via the sweetest digs

cottage DIY: the bunkie bunk bed tutorial

26th August 2014

Okay so last you guys saw we had just finished the basic interior on our cottage bunkie (here), and re-finished the dresser (here). You can’t have a bunkie without bunk beds, so here is our bunkie bunk bed tutorial (say that ten times fast!).

DIY bunk beds 1 - via the sweetest digs

Sleeping space had to be maximized, so we knew we wanted to do two sets of bunk beds along either wall of the bunkie. We looked at a few bunk bed options at several stores, but since we needed very specific sizes and wanted a clean-lined look, my Dad decided that he would custom build them. It is pretty sweet to have a woodworker Dad…

The following instructions aren’t perfect, but they give you the general idea of what my Dad did. He made the frames for each bunk out of 1×1 lumber on 3 sides. The 4th side is joined to the other two by metal angle brackets (the frame is already painted white in the photo below).

DIY bunk beds 2 - via the sweetest digs

Then he put some 5/8 plywood on top of the frame (after the frame had been affixed to the wall). This is the tricky bit, as the plywood is the same length as the room, so it was difficult to maneuver into place.

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Once those were in, he put 1×6 poplar along the front edge. This was to hold the mattress in, and to add a decorative touch.

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DIY bunk beds 4 - via the sweetest digsWe purchased mattresses and duvets from IKEA, which was helpful to know those dimensions ahead of time.

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The ladder and railing were also made out of poplar – 1×3 pieces. The ladder is affixed to the bunk bed and is straight up and down, to not take up too much space in the narrow room. It also just comes to the bottom bunk rather than all the way to the ground, so that access underneath the bottom bunk is free and clear. A railing piece was added along the top bunk, you know, to keep people from falling out.

You’ll get a sneak peak at some of the accessories and finishes in the photos below (!!).

DIY bunk beds 7 - via the sweetest digs

We took the grey paint we had used on the ceiling, watered it down, and gave the poplar a grey wash. I really love how you can see the grain through, but it gives it a weathered kind of look.

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I couldn’t have been happier with the floating and minimalist look of the bunk beds. Go, Dad, right?

That’s about it for the how-to’s on the bunkie. Next post will be the full reveal. Just need to go and edit those photos …

What are you guys up to these days? Are you having any end-of-summer holidays? If you follow me on instagram, you may have noticed that we are in the adirondacks (new york) for these last 2 weeks of August. Dan’s family has their cottage here, and it’s always a ton of fun. We’ve had Maya’s 6 cousins here with us… the girl could not be more thrilled. Social butterfly, that one. 

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furniture redo: a navy and gold dresser

1st August 2014

We basically just needed one piece of furniture for the bunkie, besides bunk beds, and that was a dresser.

I searched the online used sites for quite a few weeks, but it was tricky as the dresser had to be a fairly specific size that didn’t seem to be popular. I was spotting either really tall, narrow dressers (“tallboys”) or long, large dressers. I needed something in between, but not as small as a nightstand. And I didn’t want anything too ornate or with french country lines. Oh, and it had to be solid wood. No laminate. After a while, I finally spotted a fairly basic, solid wood dresser for $50 and snatched it up.

I totally forgot to take a before photo (bad blogger!!), but I knew exactly what colour I wanted to paint it for our by-the-lake bunkie. Can you guess?

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Ha. Navy probably isn’t too surprising, huh?

The colour is called Fly by Night Blue by Valspar, which my Mum and I picked up when we were down at the Lowe’s in the States. It’s a paint & primer in one (semi gloss) that is meant for furniture and other high use areas.

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My mum painted it and in the end did 3 coats, with a light sanding between each. The glossiness of the paint did show some of the imperfections in the wood, which is a bit annoying. It’s really only visible in certain bright light though, so it really isn’t the end of the world. Not sure if I would use this paint again for a similar application, though..

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For the hardware, I wanted to go with brass. I am smitten with a navy + brass combo. Classic, don’t you think?

I hit up Lee Valley Tools (my go-to place for hardware) and came across these small rectangular antique brass pulls (“A” in the link). They were $3.70 a piece, so it was under $30 for all six.

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And here is the full dresser in all its navy + brass glory. This was when we first brought it into the bunkie (sneak peak at some of the other accessories!)…
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And once we hung the mirror and started to style it a little.
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DSC_0604A little cottage chic, wouldn’t you say? I know I still need to get to the actual bunk beds in the bunkie… but I need my Dad to chime in on that one as he was the one who did the building/assembling.

Have you guys been re-doing any furniture lately? Where do you go to get new hardware? Oh, and happy long weekend to my fellow Canadians. We’re off for a girlfriends wedding today and tomorrow in Toronto, and then spending a night at a beautiful Inn in Prince Edward County on Sunday for our wedding anniversary. 3 nights without Maya – our longest stretch ever. We’re like giddy teenagers over here.

 

gold sprayed mason jars

DIY this: gold spray painted mason jars

24th June 2014

Alright guys. This is an easy one. And if you love gold spray paint like I do, you’re gonna like these gold spray painted mason jars.

I have an obscene number of mason jars. Most are vintage – both clear and blue – that I use for decor rentals (my side biz), but I also have some regular jars without lids. Just gathered over time for one reason or another.

I wanted to do something with them, and so started out by giving them a rinse (tip: if storing your lid-less jars in a garage, turn them upside down as otherwise you might have a spider or two make the jar his final resting spot – ickity ick).

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Then I took them outside with my can of gold spray paint (‘Design Master’ brand from Michael’s) and went at ‘em. I did 3 coats lightly and evenly, without any primer. It gave them a gorgeous shiny dusting of gold.

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Then I went out on a little afternoon walk and grabbed some wildflowers. Wildflowers is definitely one of the perks of rural living. No grocery store trip required for a bouquet or two.

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It’s a really simple project, but I love the way they turned out. They have a nice sheen and would look amazing all lined up down a dining room table. I have a feeling these will be broken out for lots of dinner parties to come.

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gold sprayed mason jarsLike I said, nothing mind-blowing or new going on here, but I couldn’t help but share. A great way to use some lackluster mason jars that you might have kicking around.

I don’t know about you, but I’m still on the gold/copper train. Not sure what will be touched with my spray paint can next… 

 Oh and also – I switched up my comment system to Disqus. Hopefully it will be easier and more reader-friendly to use! Let me know if you have any issues, k? You can email me  at thesweetestdigs@gmail.com. 

gold jewellery stands via the sweetest digs

DIY this: gold and white jewellery stands

19th June 2014

Since we moved out to my parents’ place, I don’t have my jewellery bulletin board to hang up all of my necklaces, and I threw out the tray that held my bracelets and earrings as it was toast. I needed something to put my jewellery on – otherwise it was all going to be staying in ziploc bags for the foreseeable future. Not good. Enter some gold and white jewellery stands with a sweet plus sign pattern.

I grabbed two white ceramic plates from the dollar store, had a third smaller white plate on hand (not shown), a couple of candlesticks from the thrift store (50 cents), and my gold Sharpie paint pen.

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I debated a few different designs, but ultimately settled on a simple plus sign, repeated. I free-handed a line of them down the center of the plate, and then worked my way to the edges. Nothing too precise or math-y here – imperfection is fine by me. Since this is a paint pen rather than a regular Sharpie, I read that you don’t need to bake it to keep the finish on. I’ll keep you posted on whether it starts to wipe off. So far, so good.

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Then I took those candlesticks and gave them a coat of gold spray paint.

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But sadly, when I tried to stack them, the candlesticks were slightly askew (which I hadn’t initially realized), and my stand was looking Leaning Tower of Pisa – esque. Not good. Plus the candlesticks looked chunkier than I wanted and stole the show a little (not in a good way). Woop Woop.

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However, I happily realized that I had some cheap glass candlesticks on hand (again, from the thrift store – surprised!?). I brought them out and they were perfect. The 3-tier was too high – you can see it in the photo below – so I ended up doing the small plate on one candlestick, and the two bigger plates in a 2-tier.

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I forgot to take a picture of this step, but I just used some gorilla glue to glue the candlestick to the plate. You just line the rim of the candlestick with glue, press into place, and leave to set for a few hours. I then applied a bit of extra glue around the seam where the two pieces meet for extra security. That gorilla glue is fabulous stuff though – these puppies aren’t going anywhere.

Here is the small guy. Cute, right?

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And the two-tier. Perfect for bigger items like necklaces or bracelets.

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Obviously you could also use these for cupcakes or other little treats on a dessert table. You would want the desserts to be wrapped though – I wouldn’t put food straight onto the painted surface. It would be super sweet for a gold themed bash! I might be having visions of Maya’s 1st birthday party…

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gold jewellery stands via the sweetest digs

An easy project with such a sweet result. Plus it’s nice to have my jewellery back on display again and not jumbled in a ziploc.

How do you store your jewellery? Have it up on the wall or displayed on a shelf? I am dreaming about my future closet in our house and planning a serious accessories area. Can’t. wait. 

*Linked up to Monday Funday, #BeAwesome, and Motivational Monday.

vintage window turned picture frame

vintage window turned picture frame

5th June 2014

You guys know I have a bit of a problem with collecting – hence why I started renting things out for weddings + photoshoots (see that here). Makes the whole collecting thing somewhat legit. Right? Ha. I love the thrill of the hunt. Finding something old that is perfect on it’s own, or something that I can make over into something I love. This is the story of a vintage window turned picture frame.

Over the last year or two, I have amassed a number of old window frames. Mostly from people who have pulled them out of their houses, and some as curbside finds. It’s like vintage shopping gold for me. If you don’t have the time or desire to hunt them down though, you can always find some on Etsy. I searched only for a few minutes and came up with a bunch of gorgeous ones – a minty one, a whole mixed collection here, and a huge 20 pane one here. Oh the options! I have put them all into a folder within my favourites list.

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I like to work at them one at a time to turn them into usable pieces.The theme of this year’s Etsy Craft Party on June 6th is to “Recapture: bringing new meaning to old photographs” – so I thought I would join in and tackle one of my frames.

The frame started out with mostly missing glass panes and lots of chipping white paint. First step was to break out the glass. I don’t have a perfect method for this – just tapping it with a hammer and cleaning up carefully.

I decided it would be nice to have space to hang photographs or other paper products (cards? notes? menus for a party? whatever!). I took some eye hooks and screwed them into the sides of the frame, and then just attached some strands of wire to each.

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Once I did that though, I realized that the paint was really chipping pretty badly and that I should actually fix up the frame a little. Whoops. Should have done this pre-wiring to make it easier. Live and learn.

I sanded down the frame using a medium grit sandpaper – really trying to get into the nooks and crannies to get it smooth. A bunch of paint chipped off in the process, but I wasn’t bothered. Once I had it sanded and wiped down with a damp cloth, I decided to put a few coats of polyeurothane on top. This would help to seal everything in and ensure that I wouldn’t have flaking bits of paint coming off of the frame. It’s super simple – just apply the poly with a foam or natural bristle brush, and sand between coats. I put two coats on the frame for good measure, and let it dry for a few days outside.

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Post-polyeurathane, it really doesn’t flake and chip. The end product has a really nice vintage vibe and can be used a number of ways.

We had our engagement photos that I loved – I have such nice memories of feeling all giddy that afternoon shooting those at Dan’s family farm – and I hadn’t ever done anything with them. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to get some printed, and display them in my new window-turned-frame. I put a vintage filter on the photos to make them look more aged, playing with the vintage vibe of the window. I think the result is pretty sweet!

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I used little clothespins that I had picked up a while ago at Michael’s. A bit nicer than traditional clothespins that might have been a bit big for this frame. You can also find lots of similar ones (like these) and in all sorts of colours on Etsy. DSC_0246

My plan is to put some wire along the back to be able to hang it from the wall, but for now I just have it resting on a bookshelf (the lighting was bad – so I brought it out to my parents’ back deck to take these after pics). DSC_0257

Instead of photos, you could hang up postcards, small pieces of artwork, little notes, recipes (would be cute in a kitchen!), or use it at weddings and events for things like the seating chart or wedding photos of parents and grandparents. Lots of options!
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Unfortunately I’m not able to attend any of the Etsy Craft Parties in person, but check out their site for more info on parties near you, or how to host one yourself. With the theme of reinventing photographs, there are so many ways you could go. Have fun!

*Disclaimer: Etsy sent me a $50 gift card to be used toward craft supplies for this, or other, projects, and some affiliate links were used within the post. But as always, any opinions about products or companies are all my own! 

DIY stair runner

DIY this: a stair runner using IKEA rugs

31st March 2014

Remember back when I gave a little makeover to our side entryway? We painted the walls and door, added a thrifted light fixture, and some artwork. It made it way more attractive — which is especially nice for our tenant who uses that entry all the time (we only use that area when we are going down to the basement to do laundry). Here it is to help jog your memory.

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Anyway, the one thing that we left was fixing up the stairs. They desperately needed some TLC. This was the before. The main part of the staircase where our tenant walks up and down everyday had some really cheap carpet thrown down, and the little section up to our main floor had nada.

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I knew I wanted a new runner on there – one that was darker in colour so it would help hide the dirt (tenant walks up + down in outdoor shoes), but that still had a bit of style. I went to IKEA to see what they had, and came across the “soften” rug. It’s a small, flatwoven rug that happened to have the perfect width for our stairs. At $25 a pop, it wasn’t a super cheap option, but I couldn’t find anything else that was in the right colour scheme or size. We had measured out our staircase before coming, and so calculated that we would need 5 of them to do the job.

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Before getting started I did a bit of googling around to see what others had done when they DIY’ed a stair runner. And you’ll never guess what I ended up stumbling on? Jenny, from Little Green Notebook, and who has amaaaazing style, had done this exact project using the IKEA Soften rugs! Clearly we were on the same brainwave. And the best part? I was able to follow along with her tutorial.

The first step was to rip up the existing runner, and then give the stairs a coat of paint. I went for a high gloss white that would be super durable, and only had to paint the side of the treads and risers.

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Then it was time to break out the rugs, some scissors, a ruler, and my staple gun. I lined up the rug at the top of the stairs and measured out the space on either side to ensure it was even. Once I knew that number, I went and made little marks on both sides of each step, as a guideline to follow when my rug got to that step. Then it was just a matter of stapling the rug down. I can’t actually remember what size of staples I used, but Jenny used 3/4″ brads.

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I started by stapling under the lip of the top stair, and then pulling the rug tightly down the riser, and staple it along the bottom. Then again pull the rug over the tread of the stair, back down under the lip, and staple along again. I would start with say 4 staples under the lip to get the rug in place, and then add another bunch of staples to ensure it was secured really well. I found that the staples were best placed near each white stripe (I would try to get it at the border between the white and the grey), and would staple vertically — in line with the stripe. In the pic below you can see a few of the staples right under the lip of the top tread, and then there are some again at the bottom of the riser.

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When I came to the end of a rug and it was time to staple down a new one, I would cut the previous rug right underneath the lip of the tread, and then staple the new one overtop, matching the stripes as well as I could. Again, check out Jenny’s tutorial as she gives good step-by-step pics.

Once everything was stapled down, it looked great but I wanted to add some upholstery nails down the sides for both style and extra security of runner to stair. I grabbed some gold ones from Home Depot, which were a couple of bucks for a package.

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I played around with the placement and decided on 6 nails per tread. I would eyeball them and lay them face up on the tread (lazy DIY’ing, and didn’t measure each one exactly), and then hammer ‘em in.

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It didn’t take much time at all and definitely added a really nice element to the project. I do also think that it really helped keep the runner secure.

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So much more clean and crisp, right? I like the combination of the teal with the dark grey, white, and hint of gold.DSC_1678

And here is that entryway nook now. SO much better.

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So full disclosure? I actually did this project last year… when I was still pregnant! I had totally worried that since we didn’t put a rug slip pad down, or because it was a series of small rugs, that it wouldn’t hold up. So I waited to put this one through the test of time before posting. Well you know what? Other than a bit of fading over this last year, it looks as good as new and the whole runner has totally stayed in place. DIY win!

make a gorgeous DIY stair runner using IKEA rugs and upholster nails

Full cost was around the $150 mark – not super cheap, but really pretty reasonable compared to custom runners. I would definitely do this project again if we had any other staircases to do.

Do you guys have stairs in your home? Do they have runners or are they left bare? I love a good chunky wood stair with white riser. That’s what I’m hoping for in our future house. But I do really like a runner too – they add that element of softness and can definitely bring in some fun pattern and colour. Plus you don’t fall on them as easily. I have been known to come crashing down a staircase or two. #clumsy

Linked up to DIY Showoff, DIY Dreamer.

easy easter wreath - via the sweetest digs

make this: a super easy easter wreath

27th March 2014

So I know we are still a few weeks out from Easter, but I actually got on top of things and did some decorating ahead of time. For once, I am like those organized bloggers who post well in advance, instead of the day-of (or week after!) the holiday. Winning!

I’m a big Easter fan.  So many good things – chocolate (!!), spring weather, setting up egg hunts (we do ones with elaborate clues in my household), and pretty pastel decorations. I know, I know, Easter decorations can be on the cheesy and frilly side, but I love the pinks, aquas, and yellows. Everything but the purple, basically. I don’t know what it is with me and purple – we just don’t mix.

I wanted to do something in the way of some Easter decorating, but since it looks like we are moving forward with our big renovations this spring (eee! will give you guys the update on that soon – promise!), I have already started to pack up a bit and didn’t want to have to buy any more supplies. Plus I am all about the easy DIYs these days, anyway. Gotta squeeze my crafting into nap time.

easy easter wreath - via the sweetest digs

In my hunt for inspiration, I uncovered some styrofoam balls in my craft closet. I grabbed some acrylic paint in my most Easter-y colours, and some toothpicks, and started painting.

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In order to keep the balls from touching anything while they dried, I pulled out some of that foamy stuff you use at the bottom of a floral arrangement (you can get this at the dollar store) and stuck a toothpick in it, and then the ball on the toothpick.

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Once they were all dry, I thought about how I was going to make these into a wreath. I didn’t have a wreath form, or any heavy duty wire, so I improvised a little with the toothpicks. I stuck the balls together one by one, using the toothpicks.

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It worked, but it isn’t the sturdiest. I think the better option would be to have a wreath form – even some hard cardboard would do – and hot glue the balls to it. I’ll probably do this eventually with mine, but for now the toothpicks are doing the trick.

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It’s just kind of sweet and fun, right? Not the most glam or chic wreath ever. But I kinda love how it looks a little like gumballs.

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So there you go. Easiest easter wreath ever. You can totally get the kids in on this one.

What about you guys? Are you into Easter, or do you turn your nose up at all the pastel colours and plastic eggs? What kind of hunts did/do you do at your place?