How to Build a Grape Arbor

Hey! It's been a while, I know. This tends to happen every spring... I fall off the blogging radar. I still manage to keep busy around my house and yard, I just don't post as much.
 
Like what we just completed in the ol' backyard - a grape arbor, slash, privacy shield.
 
 
If you're looking for ideas on building a grape arbor, building a decorative arbor, or sprucing up your backyard space in general, check out the full tutorial I wrote for Homedit.com.  

 
We love this thing. It's beautiful. Now, whether or not the grapes will grow is a whole nother story... 
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Rug Pads for Carpeted or Hardwood Floors

Happy mid-January, everyone. Is it just me, or is time FLYING by lately? I have had barely a minute to even think about my house or home décor over the past few months. Which is both good (time with family, exercising, pursuing other interests) and bad (my home needs some freshening up). But it is what it is, I guess.
 
Nevertheless, I have a very important, albeit not-super-glamorous, discovery to share with you all. It involves rugs and a product that keeps them squared up and in place.
 
We've got wall-to-wall carpet in our living room (although we hope to remedy this in the near future), and you may or may not remember the two rugs (first and second) I've tried out in here. Over time, I'll admit to having gotten a bit frustrated because the rugs wouldn't stay put. They would inch, ever so slightly, to some slightly askew position, even with furniture legs holding them down.
 
Like so (this is a straight-on photo; notice the clockwise shift of the rug?):
 
 
Every week or so, I'd be on my hands and knees moving living room furniture aside so I could yank a couple of unruly area rug corners back into place. Not my fave activity.
 
You can, hopefully, imagine my delight when a representative from Rug Pad USA contacted me with an opportunity to review a couple of their products. The company is based outside of the Greater New York area and specializes in manufacturing premium rug underlays for area and Oriental
rugs...but, more importantly to me, they thought they could fix my rug-shifting woes, both on carpet and hardwood floors.
 
After giving them two rug dimensions (one larger rug on carpet, one smaller flatweave rug on slippery hardwood in my kitchen), Rug Pad USA custom cut the pads and promptly shipped them out. I have been living with the rug pads for several weeks now, and they.are.awesome.
 
For the rug-on-carpet dilemma, I was sent an Premium-Lock felt & rubber rug pad (I think), which consists of a grippy rubber mat...
 
 
...attached to (surprise!) some thicker felt for padding.
 
 
I laid the rug pad down (rubber side on top of carpet, area rug on top of felt), adjusted the squareness of my rug, and went on with daily life for weeks. This rug hasn't moved, people. And we've even had some major Kinect-playing hours, full of jumping and sliding and shaking all around by humans young and old, right on top of this thing. I'm sold.
 
 
For the flatweave on the hardwood (which had a rug pad underneath previously, although you wouldn't know it by how slippery it was), Rug Pad USA recommended their Eco-Solid organic rug pad. Again, the pad came custom cut, so I opened the package and put it under the small rug in front of the kitchen sink (after a lightning-fast disposal of my old, useless rug pad) and went about my life.
 
 
Weeks later, I'm impressed and satisfied and able to easily recommend both the products and service provided by Rug Pad USA. I find I still need to adjust the kitchen rug slightly, but I think that's more because the rug itself gets rammed and upheaved by the legs of bar stools that my toddler pushes around the kitchen to "help" me with dishes. Which inevitably ends up in my having to towel down the entire kitchen, top to bottom, an hour later.
 
But that's another story for another day.
 
In the meantime, if you have a pesky shifting area rug, no matter the surface of your floor, you should check out Rug Pad USA. No lie. It may just change your life.
 
 
This post is sponsored by Rug Pad USA. Opinions expressed are 100% my own. 
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Living Room Mood Board

Hi. Most of you don't even remember me, I know. Because I took a month-long hiatus from blogging whilst the holidays were upon me. Forgive me? No? Rats. But...oh well. We'll both live, now, won't we. :)
 
I'm helping my super awesome and stylish artistic friend update her living room. Like I said, she's a legitimate artist and has a great eye for colors, lines, and textures. She recognizes trends without being trendy, if you know what I mean. The main challenges of their living room are:
 
1) Space. With a large farmhouse dining table on one end of the modest-sized living room, there's not a ton of extra space.
2) Her husband digs contemporary minimalist style, she leans toward eclectic with soul and personality - a little tribal, vintage, industrial.
3) There are five children and a puppy to consider.
4) Budget. It's not inexpensive to makeover an entire living/dining room in one fell swoop. But they're ready to take a stab at it.
 
Without further ado, here is the preliminary (translation: expendable, jumping-off point, could be waaaaay off) mood board for their updated living room design:
 

(pre-script: Walls will be white.)
 
1 - Contemporary sofa. This Avec sofa from CB2 has clean, modern lines, while its grey tweed upholstery adds a bit of warmth and texture. (A similar form could also be replaced with light leather.) 
 
2 - Two-tiered coffee table. I like the combination of square shape (we'd use two), warm wood tones, and industrial vibe of this table. The under-shelf is necessary for a select few of the family's many many books and cool treasures.
 
3 - Red wooden side chair. They have a fireplace, and I envision a vintage chair pair (mismatched would be fantastic) flanking it. This little vintage red number caught my eye.
 
4 - Navy gooseneck barn sconces. Because floor space is so limited, side tables (and, consequently, their table lamps) are a big fat question mark. A couple of wall-mounted lamps will make a big difference in the room's lighting.  
 
5 - Palm frond throw pillow. What can I say? Just for fun. A little unexpected pattern and earthiness.
 
6 - Suzani rug. Tribal meets geometric meets modern meets perfect foundation for eclectic in this bold, graphic area rug. The colors can read as neutral or as great jumping-off points for other parts of the room.
 
7 - Mint velvet throw pillow. Nothing adds freshness to a fairly traditionally colored space than a bit of mint velvet. It's unexpected. I'd add contrasting navy piping.
 
8 - Medium-tone wooden bookcases. Two of these exist in the living room and aim to stay. Great wood bookshelves can almost always be worked with successfully.
 
9 - Leather butterfly chair. Provides a hip, retro vibe while still being classic in leather. Also, what can beat those lines? Nothing, that's what. Breaks up the solid chunks of a living room's inherently larger pieces (e.g., fireplace, sofa, dining table, etc.).
 
10 - Mustard and white herringbone window shades. Paying homage to the love of geometric shapes without competing with the rug or other pieces, this simple fabric adds just the right touch of visual interest and color.
 
11 - Medium-tone wood floor. Looooove a wood floor, especially if that wood floor is authentic and well-lived. A perfect start to a room's makeover, if you ask me.
 
12 - Brass pharmacy floor lamp. This type of lamp successfully bridges the gap between classic traditional and modern. Plus, every living room needs a bit of brass.
 
13 - Newsprint rhino head. A wall-mounted animal head, just for the fun of an eclectic living room. (Actually, upon seeing the mood board, my friend nixed the rhino head. No sweat. I want her to be happy!)
 
14 - Printed throw pillow. We'll vary the prints, patterns, and colors of the throw pillows. Not too many, but enough to bring a little life into the room.
 
15 - Leather armchair. This already exists in the room, which I'm glad about. Classic comfort.
 
16 - Mismatched dining chairs. As I mentioned, a large chunky wood farmhouse-style dining table sits at one end of the living room. It has a significant visual presence. Currently, the chairs are all dark wood like the table. I'd like to encourage a mix-and-match feel with the chairs, leaning toward vintage industrial.
 
This will be such a fun project; I'm excited to get going and will keep you all updated on our progress. Stay tuned!
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Christmas Decorations: Bows

Bows. We put them in hair, we put them on gifts, we even put them on our car grilles. (Okay, we maybe don’t put them on our cars, but we’ve all seen it done. That counts for something.)
 
The truth is, bows have been around forever, and it’s for a reason. Bows can provide a polishing touch to whatever they’re put on…and they often provide a bit of heart-warming nostalgia as well, which is never a bad thing, especially during the holidays. You might want to consider adding a few bows to your décor this season – inside or out, it’s never too late.
 
 
 
  Welcome guests to your home with some oversized bows atop miniature Christmas trees. Keeping the tree décor restricted to the bows alone helps this look not be too overdone, although the stars on the silver buckets are a festive and unobtrusive addition.
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Large red bows on your green garland on the stair railing is a classic look. And the thing about classic looks is: you can’t really go wrong with them. Ever. Add bows to both ends of the garland (start and finish) and a few places in the middle.
 
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Hanging a simple boxwood wreath (or a greenery wreath of any kind, for that matter) is a hallmark of Christmas décor. (Psst - it's not hard to make your own boxwood wreath.) You can customize the look with an oversized satin bow and hanging ribbon. Keep the bow ribbon light and neutral for a fresh, modern look.
 
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 A perfect and unique idea for a holiday dinner, or just to dress up your dining room for the season, is to tie bows around each chairback. This is particularly striking against white slipcovers, although the bows would look well against any color (and type) of chair.
 
Centering a large bow on your mantel garland is a good way to capitalize on the attraction of symmetrical décor on a naturally symmetrical feature. This one isn't exactly to my taste, but I can certainly appreciate the holiday spirit behind it. (But, for the record, that brass-legged coffee table? Yes, please.)
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We’ve all seen stars or angels or other items atop a tree (which are lovely), but if you’re looking to freshen things up one year, you might consider adding a bow as your tree’s finishing touch. This is an especially sweet look in a rustic or country styled Christmas space.
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Or, if you really like your figurine on top of the tree, maybe decorating the tree itself with bright, cheery bows is the thing for you. Contrast bright satin ribbons with something natural, like pinecones or, in this case, dried hydrangeas.
 
What about you? Do you like adding bows to your Christmas décor, or is it not your style?
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Bits of Christmas at my House

I usually keep Christmas décor pretty simple.
 
 
I visited Sweden a few years ago while my parents were there for three years and picked up some Tomta. (Don't know about the spelling. But I love their hidden faces all the same.)
 

I will forever love Swedish style and décor.

 
Below is my kids' favorite advent activity each year: Mini felt stockings that hold mystery treats for the 12 days leading up to Christmas every year. Made by my sis-in-law, this was the greatest handmade Christmas gift for a family with young kids. Ever. In the history of the world.
 

Happy Friday, friends.
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DIY Gift Idea: Door Draft Stopper

I love Christmastime. I really do. We're working this year on keeping the Spirit of the Season in mind around our house. We're doing things more slowly and with greater care. We're trying to smile more. We're reading stories together every night. We're trying to get back to a time (was there ever a time?) when Christmas was simpler. When a candy cane and a cozy blanket and a good book were ingredients for a perfect afternoon. When we lived for Friday night so we could pop some corn and play Christmas bingo as a family.
 
I dunno. Maybe that all sounds a little too nostalgic and weird. But not as weird as what I'm about to recommend as a DIY gift idea. (And if that's not the best segue you've ever read, I'll be shocked.) (Which is absolutely true if by "be shocked," you know I mean "not be shocked." Just so we're clear.)
 
Enter (drumroll please) the door draft stopper.
 
 
Now, I don't live in a drafty cave or anything, but there is a distinct chill that comes through around our exterior doors in the colder weather. So one afternoon, in about 15 minutes, I made two draft stoppers for the front and back doors. I don't know why I've gone seven winters in this house without these babies.
 

Suuuuper easy. Here's what you do:
 
- Measure your door width. Add about 8".
- Cut two strips of fabric that are each the length of your door width plus the 8", and about 8"-10" wide.
- Placing right sides together, sew the two long edges and one short end together to create a very long, narrow sack.
- Turn sack right-side-out. 
- Fill with dried beans, rice, or wheat kernels.
- Fold under the rough edge, then sew up the top.
- Viola. End of door draft stopper creation.

 
It's so simple, you guys. I love this thing, and not just because it's made of mattress ticking. (You'll remember my fetish from here, here, or here.) 
 
I love it because (a) it was so easy to make, (b) it's already made such a big difference in the amount of cold air I feel by the door, and (c) ummm...I can't remember my third reason, but I know there was one. No matter. You'll just have to trust me that I love it.
 
I'd recommend making some of these for yourself and then, if you're stumped about a couple of people on your list, make some for them for the holidays. Great DIY gift.
 
Rather than spending more time trying to convince you of the door draft stopper's merits as a holiday gift, though, I'm now off to get some cleaner for that front entry rug. Hooo-eeee. Kids and winter and boots are a deadly combination.
 
Happy gifting!


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Aqua Chesterfield Sofa...and Being Green with Envy

Sometimes the holidays make me think of blue and silver. You know, like cool winter ice.
 
Or, more importantly, like this aqua Chesterfield sofa set. Good grief. The walls. The art. The rug. The sofas. (The sofas!!) 

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The end.
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