This is a big deal, you guys. Do you know what Big Deal I’m talking about?
**** I started AND finished my first postpartum DIY! ****
My baby has pretty much sucked every ounce of energy from me the last three months.
But, that smile really makes it all worth it. Well, maybe not alllllll of it. Most of it. The better portion of it.
At least 75/25, and luckily she seems to be falling into some sort of napping pattern which allows me a few gloriously free moments here and there. And how else would I fill these moments? Aside from washing bottles, doing laundry, and vacuuming, why DIY PROJECTS of course!
So, maybe I should back up a bit. Last week my dad had a birthday. He celebrated 67 years of being AWESOME. I have the photos to prove it.
He really is the man who has everything, so gifting him something interesting is always a challenge. I figured he would probably, maybe, sorta be okay if I made Rose the focus of his gift. (You should know he’s obsessed with her. In a very adorably grandpa-ish sort of way.)
I stumbled upon a cool, chunky frame at Goodwill and the whole idea for his gift came into focus. Did you like that complicated 10 minute intro? Doesn’t this feel like an episode of Family Guy?
Without further ado, here’s how to spruce up a cheap Goodwill frame and turn it into something you’d actually want to hang on your wall:
Find a not-so-lovely frame. Cat paintings preferable.
For this particular project it would be beneficial to find a wood frame that’s in descent condition.
Mask off the areas you don’t want painted. (I usually use expensive painters tape but only had cheap masking tape on hand. Ironically it worked perfectly well.)
Next on the agenda is sanding and then priming your beautiful, new frame. For sanding I recommend using a rougher grit first, to get rid of any clear coat or polyurethane. After the rough stuff a finer grit paper should smooth things out nicely.
I laid my frame to dry on the deck and serendipitously framed a weed. ‘Twas meant to be.
These bastards are popping up from under our deck and they’re driving me nuts. Any tips on how to remove them without Hulk Smashing through the deck planks?
Olive is my trusted advisor. She was overseeing this project per usual, and was happy to see me back to my DIYing shenanigans.
Ok, so after your primer dries, go ahead and slap on some paint.
I used a sample of paint I had on hand that has already been used in so many random projects. Best $2.50 I ever spent. I also followed up this painting step with a layer of clear coat from a spray can.
After the paint dries, assemble your collage of photos. I ordered mine from a place that prints directly from Instagram. I won’t say the name of the company because I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the quality. (There are a million companies that print Instagram pics — if you find a good one let me know.)
I used a piece of black posterboard as the background for my photos, and just a dab of double-sided tape to get the pictures in place.
You COULD measure them out. I say you “could” because I didn’t. Don’t have a meltdown, my dear lumberjack. You do your thang, I’ll do mine. And my thang just happens to be eye-balling.
Here she is, all put together:
There you have it!
Here’s a cost breakdown:
Photos: $12/24 photos, so $4.50 for this project
Supplies: FREE (We already had the paint, tape, sandpaper, and clear coat)
For a grand total of $10.94! Dad, you know you’re proud.
And that, my friends, is how you turn an incredibly drab cat painting into something you’d actually want to gift (or not, and hang it in your own house instead because you actually can’t part with it).
I’M BACK, BABY.
Today’s post is brought to you by one of my favorite ladies on the planet: Marci. You might remember her from my baby shower post, and you will definitely remember her after seeing her crocheting wizardry. So, without further ado…
As Mrs. Harpster nears her gestational term and is busy, busy, busy planning for the new baby, I offered to give her a little time back by writing a guest post. If I remember correctly, I had a nervous breakdown about this point because work expected me to get EVERYTHING done before I left for my maternity leave. At nine months pregnant you just need to put your feet up. So put your feet up LADY!
I had to rack my brain for one DIY project that would live up to the awesomeness that is The Harpster Home. The only tutorial I could come up with is crochet.
WAIT, DON’T GO. Crochet doesn’t have to be the dainty, doily, grandma-type stuff of another generation. It can be chunky, colorful, kitschy, and whatever else you want it to be. It definitely is NOT expensive. Yarn is cheap and so are the crochet hooks. Really that’s all you need — that, time and patience.
Also, I should mention that this is less of a tutorial; instead encouragement to teach yourself as I did — thank you YouTube!
A friend of ours would whip-up baby blankets, WEEKLY, and comment on how EASY it is. Being a perfectionist and a masochist, it was right up my ally.
To start off, give your self one small task to accomplish. I mean small, like a square. This will help you figure out how to hold the yarn, make a simple stitch, and feel accomplished quickly.
One year, everyone in my family got scarves for Christmas. I’ve never seen any of those scarves adorning their necks, BUT it did lead to other projects.
My most recent crochet projects have been baby blankets. I know a blanket seems like a BIG undertaking, but essentially it’s just one big granny square. So instead of trying to illustrate via chicken scratch or via poorly lit photos, I’m going to recommend you hop right over to YouTube and search for granny square tutorials.
The hardest part is the beginning. Get over that hump (ha) and it is very repetitive and almost soothing (for those of us crazy people that like keeping our hands busy anyways).
Here are some of my tips –
- Go to the store and buy a skein of yarn (that’s what the yarn balls are called) in your favorite color. Get some crochet hooks while you’re at it. You only need one but the packages have many sizes depending on the project. I just pick one in the middle.
- Get comfortable with your laptop or iPad and look up some granny square tutorials on YouTube. Find one you like and get comfortable with the pause button. Some videos I had to rewind several times, pause, and try again. (The blanket I made for baby Harpster is essentially one BIG granny square)
- Whatever you do, DON’T try and read the crochet patterns. I have no idea what all those letters mean or how the H-E-double hockey sticks they turn into something. Maybe if you learned the right old-fashioned way, it makes sense.
- Figure out how you want to hold the crochet hook, yarn, and the piece you’re working on. The tension is important so you’ll need to get familiar with it. This is the hardest part. You watch all these fingers on YouTube and think, “SLOW DOWN”. It’s akin to learning to tie your shoes. If you are like me, it will feel so foreign that it’s as if your fingers lost the ability to move independently
- If you get frustrated put it away for another day and have some wine.
- I actually made our Christmas stockings last year (they are pretty scary and sloppy but gotta love my husband who hangs them with pride)
- Seriously videos on YouTube. Even if you are just trying to fix your drier, DIY videos will walk help you problem solve.
- IF ALL ELSE FAILS, Pinterest has some really cool things you can make with all that extra yarn you bought. (Note from The Harpster Home: DON’T EVEN WASTE YOUR TIME WITH THOSE F$*%ING YARN-WRAPPED LETTERS.)
Here are some granny squares that I eventually stitched together to make a small blanket for my sister:
And the blanket for Baby Harpster completed and folded:
AND for all you Olive fans out there – here is Sammy modeling one of the first scarves I ever made. Ok, not really a scarf, but it was the first thing I had completed.
I needed a big change in the bedroom. In the midst of trying to put together the nursery
we are I am also, in fact, trying to assemble some sort of fashionable master bedroom. Call me crazy. I like to work on about 12 projects at the same time. The other 10 are only in the idea phase, and they’re rolling around in my brain like a bunch of rocks. Ooof.
Remember when we hung beautiful sconces over our new bed?
Beautiful sconces are indeed beautiful, but they’re a little blah. Also? Those pillows don’t go. Well, they did go. They got the boot.
I will definitely use these candles somewhere else in the bedroom because I LOVE them, but I needed something with a little more punch and with some more modern lines to hang over the bed.
I have been holding onto three blank canvases since we moved into our house, just waiting to bust them out at the perfect time. They used to live above our couch, covered in fabric, in our old apartment:
They were given to me by a friend when she was downsizing, so I continue to recycle them into new art when the mood strikes.
Well, the mood struck. It struck hard. I ripped all that fabric off, taped off the canvases, and went to Painting Town. I didn’t take pictures for a tutorial of the whole thing because it’s quite simple. You’ll see why….
VA VA VOOOOM! RIGHT? This little punch of geometric goodness is just what the doctor ordered.
Ok, here’s the super simple How-To:
- Tape off the canvas at a diagonal
- Paint the taped-off corner
- Wait for the paint to dry
- Remove the tape and put down a new piece over the painted side (try to match up the edge of the tape to your new line of paint)
- Paint the other corner
That’s seriously how simple this project was. All of the light corners are three different colors because I wanted some variation in tones. Two of the dark colors are the same, and that one pop of turquoise really just tickles my fancy.
Olive could’ve done this project. That’s how easy it was. The hardest part was picking out colors and I just totally winged it. I got lucky and really loved how it turned out — but if I didn’t all I would do is paint over whatever I didn’t love.
Because I used free canvases that I’ve been holding onto for years and I just mixed up paint that I already had lying around (it was a mix of the little sample sizes you get for interior paint, and craft / acrylic paint) this project was 100% FREE. And aren’t those really the best kind?
Olive approves. Everything is always better with a little snuggle from Olive.
She’s not exactly allowed on the bed so Steve, if you’re reading this, I love you [INSERT BIG PUPPY DOG EYES HERE]!
That’s the tale of how I got some free pizzazz. Which is the best kind of pizzazz, don’t ya think?
Lucky for you I didn’t start off your morning by spelling “fun” with a “ph.” That would’ve been unforgivable. You’re welcome.
Steve and I have taken a short break from All Things House for the last few weeks – as you may have noticed – but I did do one quick project that was really fun, and managed to spice up a pretty boring hallway.
We had one of those photobooths at our wedding (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND), and since we had double prints made – one for us and for our guests – I had approximately 100 hilariously awesome photostrips stacked in a box in our closet. They needed to be displayed. Proudly. We had some underwear flashing, some bare chests, and a few make-out sessions (you know who you are), and that kind of incrimination needs to be displayed for the world to see.
I managed to snag three of these perfectly suited frames at the Indiana ReStore for a measly eight bucks.
I removed the matting and the nautical photos (which actually weren’t bad if you’re into that sorta thing), taped a piece of cut poster-board down to the frame backing, and lined up the first set of strips.
I simply measured where the middle top and bottom strips would go, and then eye-balled the rest from those anchors. It seems willy-nilly but it actually worked really well.
Here is one of them all said and done:
My OCD prefers that I keep things in straight lines, but if you’re more laid back you could try all different kinds of layouts with the strips. You could stagger them, or just lay them in there all scrapbook-y. I break out with cold sweats just discussing a non-symmetrical arrangement.
Just repeat that process for however many frames you have and BOOM! You have hallway artwork!
I had to pick out a few of my favorite strips to show you guys. (DISCLAIMER TO FRIENDS: Remember how much I love you, k?)
Admittedly, the pictures got increasingly naughty with the continued flow of alcohol, but that’s what weddings are for right? Getting drunk and making a fool of yourself! Should I tell you again how much I love our friends? Like, SO MUCH. They are pretty much the most awesome human beings in the entire galaxy. xo
Anywhoo, back to this rated PG post. Here is another shot down the hallway:
There is something so cool with the juxtaposition of the striped shower curtain and these striped photostrips. I love how they play off each other. That was totally not planned, by the way. I could lie to you and tell you it was, but yeah, no. It wasn’t. Yay for happy accidents!
That’s it folks! I took two weeks off and all I have for you is this measly 15 minute project. We have a lot in the works so I promise things are about to get EXCITING. Just hold on to your horses, okay?
Good luck charging through this Monday morning. My suggestions: coffee, coffee, and more coffee.
For many of you, by the time you’ll be reading this, it will be the morning of your first day back at work from Christmas Vacation. To prevent pissing you off even more than you already are I’ll just skip right over that.
I hope everyone had a delightful holiday weekend. Ours felt short on time spent with family and heavy on time spent on the road, but it was still worth it. We had an awesome Christmas Eve and Day with Steve’s whole family. My family is teeny tiny so it’s always exciting for me to feel the energy of a big family. Opening presents Christmas morning with Steve’s parents and brothers was so much fun. I even got my own stocking!
I’m psyched because I can finally share a fun art project I did a few weeks ago; I couldn’t spill the beans any earlier because it was a Christmas gift for Steve’s grandma. Aunt Shelley emailed me a few months ago asking if I could draw a picture of Grandma Hazel’s house, which was about to be sold. She wanted to frame it and give it to Hazel for Christmas, which I thought was an exceptional idea. I was more than happy to help and because I had already drawn Steve’s parent’s house for a Christmas gift last year, I knew exactly how to accomplish the task. (And I’ve never been commissioned to art anything before so I felt pretty fancy.)
Here’s the How-To:
First, Shelley emailed me a picture of the house. I converted it to black and white and then adjusted the lightness and darkness so it printed out with high contrast.
I taped the picture down (with painters tape — so it comes up easy) on a glass table, and then taped a piece of white paper on top of it. (NOTE: Don’t tape down the bottom edge of the white paper. Once you start drawing it’s helpful to be able to pull up the paper so you can see the photograph.)
Then, I placed a lamp under the table to create a light-box effect:
Here you can see how the photograph is seen with the light behind it:
Then, you just start drawing using the photo as your guide. I only used 3 different densities of drawing pencils: a very hard 2H, a medium HB, and a very soft 2B. Having a range of led helps to get the right lightness and darkness. Just go slow and steady, and move right to left if you’re a lefty like me.
Wowzers. My hands are pretty wrinkley. Thank you Macro Setting.
Once you get into it, and you have the basic shape down, it’s helpful to turn off the light and reference a second copy of the photograph for shading. I had an extra copy just sitting on the table so I could get an easy look if I needed it.
Steve couldn’t resist taking a picture of me hard at work. Notice how I fold up into a pretzel when I’m concentrating. Not sure why that is, but I’ve been like that ever since I was a kid.
After I mailed it to Aunt Shelley she put it in a gorgeous white frame / black mat combo that really complimented the drawing. I was so happy I was able to be there when Hazel opened her present. She adored it, and I loved being a part of it all. (I’ll have to see if I can track down a picture of her opening it.) A big thank you goes out to Aunt Shelley for unnecessarily paying me with OMG a GIFT CARD TO MIDLAND. Do you have any idea how surprised and excited I was? I may or may not have shed a tear. Or two. I will definitely be making a trip there sometime this week. Maybe I will finally find a credenza for the family room?
With some patience, and a little knowledge of drawing, you can commemorate your home. It makes a great gift, whether it’s for someone you love or just for yourself. If you don’t feel confident in your drawing abilities just trace that sucker with a fine point felt-tipped pen. It will feel less realistic and more stylized which could be just as cool.
As Bob Ross once said, “We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents”. Good luck drawing your happy, little trees!
With how busy we’ve been working on the house, I’ve sort of forgotten to share my proudest DIY project to date: our wedding!
There is so much to share — from beginning to end — so I’ll try to sum it up as cohesively as I can. Pardon my ADD if I start to jump around.
First, I’ll start with the invitations:
I emailed the save-the-dates so people would respond with their mailing addresses. That was my sneaky way to avoid tracking down all of the addresses right before I needed to mail the invites.
Then, about two months before the wedding our guests received our invitations and RSVP postcards.
All of the info was on our wedding blog (It’s no longer up): everything was included from hotel and venue information, to the story of how we met.
You’ve been patient, so now I’ll get to the good stuff: The Wedding Day!
Our wedding was at the home of our incredibly awesome family friends who just happen to have a totally killer, wedding-ready house. They are like a second family to me, so to have our wedding on their property was everything we had ever wanted. It gave us the ability to decorate exactly how we wanted, which made everything so warm and fuzzy. It was intimate, casual, festive, and every other single adjective that we were aiming for. To sum it up quickly before the water-works start, IT WAS OUR DREAM COME TRUE.
While my best friend, Molly, and I enjoyed a glass of wine before the festivities, our guests were greeted with this sandwich board sign that Steve and I made. I hand-painted a welcome message on one side, and a thanks-for-coming message on the other (I will post a tutorial on this project).
The short-but-sweet ceremony was held around the pool, with Steve and me standing on the deck. My mom gets full credit for making an aisle runner out of two tablecloths, and constructing the simple and stunning backdrop. The pretty flowers were left over from the rehearsal-dinner arrangements Steve’s mom had gotten made. It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly.
My handsome groom. Isn’t he charming?
After the ceremony our guests mingled on the driveway, where the reception was held. We had lots of activities to keep them occupied, as well as tons of yummy food.
Steve made Cornhole boards (tutorial soon) that got a lot of action.
We had a thumbprint guest book where we asked guests to “leaf” their prints. I need to post a picture of what it looks like all filled up. It’s incredible. My friends have some nice thumbprints, if I do say so myself.
I made a banner from decorative paper I found at Michaels and strung it around this gorgeous bird cage that my mom happened to have in her basement. This worked perfectly to hold cards; they slipped right through the bars.
We had a photobooth, complete with a prop table. Recognize the table? This got really fun as the night wore on. (Read: This got really fun as the alcohol kicked in.)
Two of my dear friends were unable to attend the wedding, so our other friends who did come brought photo cutouts of their faces so we could take pictures with them –BRILLIANT! Kelly and Mark ended up on the prop table when they weren’t cutting a rug on the dance floor.
We had the photobooth print doubles so we could have our guests leave a print behind for us. It was fun to see all of the strips hanging up at the end of the night. These boards were covered!
To make our initials I covered large cardboard letters with artificial flowers. It was a lot of plucking and gluing, but I’m happy with how they turned out. The boards were upcycled from old window shutters that Steve attached together. Then we strung hemp from one side to another and added hundreds of tiny clothespins.
And of course, our guests visited the bar:
The sign was made from an old frame I found at an antique store, and plywood painted with chalkboard spray paint. It really does work!
The map was probably my favorite project we made for the wedding. Many of our guests were coming from all over the US and I really wanted to somehow highlight that. This map was our little way of showing how much we appreciated the miles covered. With the help of a brilliant writer-friend, it was titled: “The Road You Tread To See Us Wed”
The map was a hit. We heard people proudly saying “That’s my pin!”
For the table centerpieces we kept things simple: brightly colored tablecloths and simple flower arrangements — that Molly and I arranged ourselves — paired with mason jars that I had been collecting for an entire year before the wedding. You can’t have too many candles.
Above our heads were strings of white lights and doily garland that I made by halving two different sized doilies over string, and then gluing together.
This is me, before slipping into my wedding dress, checking out the desert table. We had all homemade goodies instead of a single cake, which everyone really seemed to love. A big thank you goes out to all of our friends and family who baked their little hearts out. The dessert table was a hit!
I made the little “Love is Sweet” signs, and found that beautiful antique lace curtain on ebay, which perfectly framed the table.
Flip flops were a must-have; I think all of our dancing guests appreciated them. I scored these babies on sale for $1 a pop from Old Navy. I simply wrapped them with hemp and put size stickers on the heel of each shoe, which made for easy picking.
We danced our first dance to La Vie En Rose, by Louis Armstrong. I get teary-eyed just typing that out. You can imagine that I cried through the whole dance. I’m a softie.
My father/daughter dance was sweet, and it turned into a father/mother/daughter dance. What can I say? I’m an only child. They’re both my everything.
After all of the “first dances” we got the party started!
One of my favorite shots is one my photographer took on his way out. This picture most closely captures the mood of the night. We had about 400 twinkling candles, and the whole thing honestly felt magical.
Of course we had to cap the whole DIY Wedding Theme with thank-you cards that captured the spirit of the event.
I designed vintage-themed postcards to send out to all of our friends, thanking them for sharing our special day with us.
I can easily say without hesitation that our wedding night was the best night of my life. We had everyone that we love in one place, and that alone makes for the perfect occasion. I also got to marry my best friend and the love of my life, so, yeah. Best. Night. EVER.
Hello. Hi there! Guess what? I got to use my STAPLE GUN last night! Nothing is more delightful to me. Like Olive, I tend to be frightened by loud noises, but don’t think that stops me from enjoying every minute of staple gunning. And yes, I just turned that into a verb.
It all started because of a little online Christmas Shopping a few days ago. Since I was already ordering presents and I was already getting free shipping, I decided to throw in a little Christmukah present for myself. This Charley Harper book of postcards was exactly what I needed for an empty frame I already had. It was begging to be turned into a wall display. (Here’s my professed love for Charley Harper, if you missed it.)
I started with a texturally-beautiful vintage frame — that, like I said, I already owned — from an Antique Mall by our old apartment. Here is my lovely assistant modeling the frame:
Don’t let that sad face fool you. She’s having the time of her life. (She was actually just relieved that Steve finally removed my bra that he had clasped on her for about 30 minutes prior to this picture. These things happen in our house.)
I flipped through my new book, decided which pictures worked the best together, and then laid them all out to see how it was going to look.
I’m not going to lie; even though it’s a postcard book, meant to be ripped apart, it still felt sacrilegious to extract the pages.
After deciding on a layout I measured and marked where I needed to attach the string. I have to hand it to Steve: measuring really does work. I usually just eyeball everything which can lead to wonky work. He may be onto something with this whole Ruler & Pencil thing.
The next step brings me back to the beginning of this post. Wherein I told you I GOT TO USE MY STAPLE GUN. I’m not sure if I can even type that with lower case letters because that’s honestly how excited I get about it. Why, you ask? I have no idea. Just roll with it.
I lined up the string over my pencil marks, put in a staple, tied a knot around that staple, and then put in another staple (or 10). That technique seemed to work well to prevent the string from slipping out, or moving left to right.
I ran the string vertically so I only had to do three rows, instead of 4 horizontal rows.
I advise using two strings for each row, about an inch apart, to prevent the postcards from flipping around on you. After all the string was in place I simply taped each postcard on with one piece of scotch tape. This was the one step that I did eyeball, and it turned out just fine.
Sorry about the weird colors. The room was dim and our good camera is in about 14,000 pieces waiting for repair, so I’ve been using our small underwater camera and then attempting to lighten the pictures in Photoshop. I think you still get the gist of what it looks like.
I’m pretty thrilled with how it turned out, especially because fine art prints aren’t cheap. I think this was a great solve to get some wallet-friendly art on the walls. (Because I already owned everything but the postcards, this project cost me a whopping $8.76.)
I am in love with the dimension of the finished piece and the rich shadows it casts on the wall. Because the string is so lightweight the cards look like they’re floating in the frame. It’s like a magic trick sans the creepy magician. Something I love even more is when projects work out like you have them pictured in your head.
To keep with with the Charley Harper obsession, I’m thinking about recreating one of my favorites prints on a huge canvas I scored at Goodwill yesterday for only $12.99.
Can you tell I’m doing anything I can to avoid painting the walls?