Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

I’m so excited to share my Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes with you! We built the boxes a couple summers ago but this is the first year I’ve decked them out for Christmas.

It all started when I saw this garden flag at Lowe’s. You can’t see in this pic but “Team Nice” is on the back. Cute, right? I didn’t have a place in my yard that would show off both sides so I decided to buy two and use them as features in my window boxes. Of course they would require some modifications first. Here’s what I did.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

I started by shortening the stand so my flag would hang at the right height for the window box. I marked approximately where I wanted to cut.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Used a hacksaw to do the deed.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

And taped off the rough ends with electrical tape.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Then I was left with two pieces that looked like this.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

The last step was to put the two pieces back together with a few more strips of electrical tape. (I am a little worried about the tape holding up in the Chicago weather. I might go back to reinforce things with zip ties if I need to.)

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

With the stand finished it’s time to start filling the window boxes! Luckily I have neighbors on one side who let me cut branches from their evergreen tree and an abandoned house across the street where I can do some “volunteer pruning”.

Before I started putting in my live greens I lined the top of the boxes with this super cheap, super fake-looking artificial garland. This serves as a filler to hide any gaps or holes in my finished arrangement. Then I put in the flag – on it’s new, shortened stand.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

The next two layers are branches that hang over and spill down the front of the boxes. (Wish I knew enough to tell you what kind of tree these come from. Anyone?)

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

To hold everything in place I used these wood picks I bought at Michael’s.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

They come with floral wire already attached so all you have to do is wrap the other end around your branch and stake it in the dirt.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

After two layers of draping greens I added just a few straight, non-hanging branches for some height in the top of the box. These metal landscaping pins came in handy for this step.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

You might have noticed some tiny lights in the last photo. They’re actually part of a garland Josh bought at an after Christmas clearance sale last year. They aren’t super bright but they do add a sweet twinkle to all that green so I layered them on top, pushing them toward the front so they could be seen from the street.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Almost done! After walking out in the yard (in the rain) a dozen times to see how things were looking I decided to add a pop of color. I used ornaments because they’re cheap and easy to find. I attached them using the same wood picks as before.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

And with that last touch of color- they’re done!

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

I should point out that I had a third window box to fill. I used the exact same greenery, lighted garland, and ornaments but added a Santa hat in place of the flag. It’s held in place with more wood picks/floral wire that I simply threaded through safety pins.

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

Naughty And Nice Holiday Window Boxes | laughingabi.com

naughty and nice collage

I’m so far behind with my holiday decorating that I almost didn’t do this project at all. I’m really glad I did though. It makes a big impact and looks so cozy when I pull up to the house every day.

Do you have all your decorating done? All your presents bought? I’ve started but I’m soooo far from done.

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Five Days of Fall: Autumn Entry on a Budget

Welcome to Day Four of “Five Days of Fall”. Instead of my usual one post this week I’m writing five, each with a different fall-themed idea. Nothing fancy, just some simple, inexpensive ways I cozy things up around here when the leaves start to turn.

Today I’m sharing my itty, bitty, teeny, tiny Autumn Entry. The only thing smaller than this space is my budget for decorating it so I had to get creative.

Five Days of Fall: Autumn Entry on a Budget | laughingabi.com

In the end I only spent $2.50 for that little white pumpkin. Everything else I found around the house. (Are you noticing a theme in my decorating style? Maybe I should rename the blog “usingthecrapihave.com”)

Five Days of Fall: Autumn Entry on a Budget | laughingabi.com

For example, that orange and white chevron? That’s actually a scarf I pillaged from my closet. And the driftwood branch? It used to be in our lizard tank. Oh and my favorite part is the photo. We took it when Baby Girl was in kindergarten and we were making an alphabet book together – A is for acorn. I love seeing her pudgy little fingers and remembering how much fun we had walking the neighborhood searching for things that started with the letter A.

Five Days of Fall: Autumn Entry on a Budget | laughingabi.com

The pedestal is actually a thrift shop wine glass and platter that I glued together. It floats from room to room depending on what random thing I decide to use it for. I topped it with a few fake leaves for more color, added my splurge of a pumpkin, and called it done.

Five Days of Fall: Autumn Entry on a Budget | laughingabi.com

Five Days of Fall: Autumn Entry on a Budget | laughingabi.com

Five Days of Fall: Autumn Entry on a Budget | laughingabi.com

Simple but sweet. And cheap. Can’t ask for more than that.

Catch up on days one through three here:
Day One: Fall-Inspired Bookshelf
Day Two: Fall-Themed Chalkboard
Day Three: Pumpkin Flavored Bagel Schmear & Apple Dip

Five Days of Fall: Fall-Themed Chalkboard

Welcome to Day Two of “Five Days of Fall”. Instead of my usual one post this week I’m writing five, each with a different fall-themed idea. Nothing fancy, just some simple, inexpensive ways I cozy things up around here when the leaves start to turn. Today we’re talking chalkboards.

Five Days of Fall: Fall-Themed Chalkboard | laughingabi.com

If you’ve been here for a while you probably recognize this chalkboard that hangs right inside my front door. Last October it looked like this.

Five Days of Fall: Fall-Themed Chalkboard | laughingabi.com

But this year I wanted to go with a Fall theme, something I could leave up through Thanksgiving. I was searching for inspiration one day and spotted this on Instagram.

Five Days of Fall: Fall-Themed Chalkboard | laughingabi.com

Super fun and super simple. Perfect for us.

After experimenting with different fonts and sizes I came up with a layout I liked then used this method to transfer it to the chalkboard.

NEW TIP! Did you know you can sharpen chalk with a pencil sharpener? True story. Find one of those cheap little sharpeners with two holes (you’ll use the oversized one) and give it a try. You won’t believe how much easier it is to draw with.

Five Days of Fall: Fall-Themed Chalkboard | laughingabi.com

I added some freehand swirlys and leaves to fill things in and it was done.

Five Days of Fall: Fall-Themed Chalkboard | laughingabi.com

Five Days of Fall: Fall-Themed Chalkboard | laughingabi.com

I’m really happy with how it turned out and I love the playful message. I almost changed it to “get off the computer, put down the phone, and go jump in the fling-flanging leaves” but it wouldn’t fit.

(My apologies to those of you who were expecting something pumpkin flavored today. I had it all ready but then my photos turned out kind of suckish so I’m going to try again. I promise it’s coming soon.)

If you missed Day One you can find it here.
Day One: Fall-Inspired Bookshelf

Five Days of Fall: Fall Inspired Bookshelf

Welcome to Five Days of Fall! Instead of my usual one post this week I’m writing five, each with a different fall-themed idea. Nothing fancy, just some simple, inexpensive ways I cozy things up around here when the leaves start to turn. Today I’m kicking it off by giving my plain-Jane bookshelf a seasonal facelift.

Five Days of Fall: Fall Inspired Bookshelf | laughingabi.com

Before I tell you what I did, check out this before pic. Not terrible but definitely not Fall either.

Five Days of Fall: Fall Inspired Bookshelf | laughingabi.com

First I emptied everything out and lined the back of the shelves with some wrapping paper I’ve had stashed in the basement for years. Yep, that’s paper. It’s from the Container Store but like I said, I’ve had it for years. I don’t know if they sell it anymore but you could pick any paper that says “Fall” to you. I like this one because it adds instant texture.

Five Days of Fall: Fall Inspired Bookshelf | laughingabi.com

Then it was time to fill it back up. I started with the biggest piece, a wooden bowl filled with mini pumpkins. (I’m toying with the idea of painting their stems gold but I’m not sure yet.)

Next I added the books. A simple tip for decorating with books: choose ones that match the color scheme you’re working with. You can see I picked mostly orange, yellow, red and black. It adds seasonal color without spending any money.

Five Days of Fall: Fall Inspired Bookshelf | laughingabi.com

All that’s left are a few finishing touches. A dried hydrangea from the yard in a short mason jar and decorative bookend. (You’ll see later the bookend changes because I found something I liked better.)

Five Days of Fall: Fall Inspired Bookshelf | laughingabi.com

And probably my favorite part of the whole makeover, an owl rock Baby Girl painted for me as a Mother’s Day gift years ago. Still melts my heart.

Five Days of Fall: Fall Inspired Bookshelf | laughingabi.com

Those few simple changes are all it took to cozy up this corner. I have to point out that the only thing I spent money on were the pumpkins. Everything else was from somewhere in the house or the yard. I love those kinds of projects.

Here are a couple more shots. Can you spot the different bookend I mentioned earlier?

Five Days of Fall: Fall Inspired Bookshelf | laughingabi.com

Five Days of Fall: Fall Inspired Bookshelf | laughingabi.com

Five Days of Fall: Fall Inspired Bookshelf | laughingabi.com

Make sure you stop in tomorrow for Day 2. It’s going to be pumpkin-flavored! See you then.

My Fall Mantle 2014

I didn’t think I would ever get in the groove but Fall decorating is finally happening at our house!

The name of the game this year is simple and cheap (a recurring theme around here) and the most obvious place to start was the new fireplace.

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

I’m proud to report I only spent $6 on this year’s mantle. Everything you see except the cornstalks was in my prop closet (aka the basement bedroom I took over for storing all my pretties). And if I were a patient woman I could have gotten the corn for free from a local farmer but obviously I’m not. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So first let’s talk about my inspiration. Check out this perfectly simple Pallet Wall Art from Allison over at The Golden Sycamore.

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

I fell in love with it the minute I pinned it and knew I wanted to recreate the same clean, modern-rustic feel for my mantle. I already had the DIY wood backdrop so it was time to start layering some Fall on top of it.

Hanging wall vases and corn stalks. (The vases were a gift from my cousin but the labels say Home Interiors if you’re looking for a set.)

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

A wreath that’s survived years and years of use and a yellow garland for one more pop of color against the dark wood.

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

And letters printed and cut out of cream colored scrapbooking paper.

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

That’s it. Super simple. Super cheap. My kind of project.

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

My Fall Mantle 2014 | laughingabi.com

Are you decorating for Fall? I feel like I’m the last one to start but the good news is I’m really on a roll now. I have a new Fall chalkboard and an updated bookshelf to share next week. And maybe some window boxes too. Until then I’m raising my Pumpkin Spice Latte to you  – cheers!

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score

I was all prepared to share a Roadside Redo today – a hanging light fixture on the back porch – but then I walked into the thrift store, innocently looking for a picture frame, and this happened.

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

OMG CAN YOU EVEN STAND IT?! $70!!!

Those of you who aren’t fans of Mid-Century Modern or Danish design might be saying, “big whoop.” But I guarantee the MCM lovers out there who scour Craigslist and eBay for beauties like this are dying.

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

Confession: I almost didn’t buy it. Not because I didn’t love it but because in some circles I could be classified as a chair hoarder. Seriously, I’ve got one stuffed in every corner of the house and even a few out in the garage. It’s kind of a problem.

So I told myself to walk away.

But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. Truth is I sat in the store, in the chair (no one else could buy it if my butt was planted in it, right?) for an hour and a half silently arguing with myself. I reached out to every person I could think of via Instagram or FaceBook or Hometalk hoping someone would tell me it was worth a mazillion dollars because hoarding valuable items makes you a collector, right?

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

I never did get any concrete figures but in the end it didn’t matter. Eventually I just surrendered to my wild, aching chair desires and brought him home. And later that night when I gently sat him down next to the fireplace it was sooooo good.

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

The next day it was time for some leather TLC. Overall everything was in good condition but there were a few spots that looked like they needed conditioning. My go-to product for leather is called Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich. I buy it at our local feed store with the horse and tack supplies. If you don’t have a feed store down the road a spell like we do you can get it here.

It was no surprise that the arms were in the worst shape since they get so much wear and tear. Here’s a peek at how well this stuff works.

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.comAnd here’s another shot of the inside of the same arm. It’s harder to see the dryness and scratches but if you look closely you’ll notice a big splotch right above the seat cushion. Looks like maybe somebody spilled something. It’s totally gone in the after pic!

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

I still want to treat the wood but I don’t have a go-to product for that yet. I would love to hear any suggestions you guys have. I’m considering the same DIY mixture I used here.

For now though, let’s gaze at some more photos of my new love, shall we?

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com
Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

Sigh. I just love him.

Love. Him.

Before I go here’s a quick look at the new vignette that happened when I started shuffling furniture around.

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

Nothing fancy but it holds some of my favorite things so it makes me happy when I see it. Doesn’t get much better than that. (The portrait is our first fur baby, painted by my mother-in-law and the children’s book is my new favorite entitled The Day The Crayons Quit. You should check it out.)

So that’s the story of my new love chair. What’s your most recent thrift store score? Something small and functional? Or black, leather, and comfortable?

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations

Last week I shared my finished fireplace and mantel and gave you a sneak peek at my spring mantel decorations. Today I’m showing you how I put them all together.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Before we talk birds and flowers we should revisit the aged wood background that everything is hanging on. I made it HERE for about $20 and I love the texture it adds to the room. It seems to be the perfect backdrop, no matter what season it is.

Now for some flowers. Bright yellow Forsythia leaves scream spring so I hit Michael’s during a 50% off sale and grabbed a handful of “fakeys” and a grapevine wreath. All-together I spent $17.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

This is the part where I admit I totally faked it. I have no idea how you’re supposed to make a wreath. All I did was cut off the sprigs with a pair of pliers, jabbed them into the grapevine, and wrapped some floral wire around it in random spots. Does that count as a tutorial? Maybe? No? Either way, I’m happy with how it turned out.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Oh, and as for those empty mason jars, I have a plan for those. How perfect will THIS be in them? I can’t wait to try it. I’ll be sure to post an update.

The gold cage and birds were the most challenging part of this project but they’re also my favorite things on the mantel. I started with a plain artist’s canvas from the craft store. (I had one on hand but you can pick them up at Michael’s or JoAnn’s.) A coat of primer and two coats of Clark + Kensington Blue Jolt paint and it was ready for a cage.

I wish I could offer a stencil or pattern or something but I found THIS clip art online and just sketched it out one night while my daughter was at swim practice. (Sorry for the fuzzy iphone pic.)

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Once my sketch was done I used a gold paint pen to trace the lines and my favorite gold leaf paint from THIS project to fill in the bigger areas. Voila!

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Up next – birds. Here’s how I made them:
1. I started with THIS clip art and enlarged it on my monitor to the size I wanted.
2. I taped a piece of paper to my screen and oh-so-delicately traced the outline.
3. I cut out the bird and then used it as a template to trace the same shape onto a piece of heavy cardstock. This would ensure it was stable enough to stand up to paint.
4. I cut out the cardstock bird and painted it with the same gold leaf paint I used on the cage.

Obviously I did this twice, making the second bird smaller.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Did you notice how the bigger bird is layered in front of the canvas? I tried to give him some depth by gluing a piece of folded cardstock to his back so it created a tab that sticks out perpendicular to the body. I slid that tab between two of the wooden slats and it created the “flying” bird effect. This might have been Josh’s idea but he can never prove it.

The last element was the easiest. A simple frame, a coat of cheery coral paint, and a scrap of fabric leftover from THIS project.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Add a gnome candle and an an awkwardly empty vase which I promise to fill it as soon as something blooms around here, and you’ve got a mantel all ready for spring. (You’ll see some votive candles standing in for the mason jars in some of these pics.)

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.comI love the bright colors and the look of spring when I walk in the door even though my furnace has been running all day. Sigh.

What are you decorating for spring? Any birds or flowers made their way into your house? Any bright pops of spring color?

How We Got Our Tile On

Or for the serious DIYer: How To Tile Your Fireplace

It’s finally time to tile the fireplace! Truthfully we finished it over the weekend but I’m just posting it today because that’s the fastest blog pace I can keep around here. (How do other DIY bloggers post a new project every day?!) Enough about how slow I am. Let’s talk tile.

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

We started on the floor with four travertine tiles. You might remember seeing them in this “prep” photo last week.

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

We installed them as soon as the cement board was in place so they could be grouted and dry before we started working on wall tile since we would be stepping all over them. The process was pretty straight-forward.

I laid the tiles out in the order and direction I wanted them. Then Josh measured and cut them to size using a wet saw we borrowed from a friend.

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

Next I laid down a line of painter’s tape along the carpet to protect it from any thin-set messiness.

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

Oh, and see that piece with weird shapes at the top of the last photo? (Are those parallelograms?) That’s the light colored version of the edging we used on the face of the firebox HERE. It’s called a Schluter Systems Reno-TK Reducer (aka floor-trim-thingy) and this time we used it on the floor like you’re supposed to. Josh cut it to length with a hacksaw then I just squished it down into the thinset before I put the tile down.

Speaking of thinset, we used THIS based on a recommendation from the friendly folks at Lowe’s. It’s pre-mixed, ready to use, and super easy.

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

After the edging, tiles, and spacers were down we let it dry for 24 hours.

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

Then we grouted using this in a bone color and let that dry 24 hours.

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.comThen, finally, it was time to start working on the wall!

We started at the bottom because any time you’re tiling a vertical surface you have to think about gravity first. Your bottom row needs something to sit on so it doesn’t slide down into a pile on the floor.

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

You can see we used a sheet of plastic to protect our newly-installed travertine and some cheap wooden shims to create a small gap between the floor and wall tile. I have no logic or point of reference to explain why we added that gap. I just felt like we should. Sometimes that’s the only reason I have.

One of the advantages of this particular stone tile is there are no grout lines and no spacers. So installation really was as simple as smearing some thin-set on the wall (the same stuff we used for the floor), raking through it with a notched trowel, and squishing the tile into place. Josh did the cutting, again with a wet saw, and I did the sticking. After the bottom section was done we tackled the left side.

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

See those shims sticking out? Every few tiles I would check for level and if things looked off I used a shim to fill the space and get us back on track. Yes, it created some gaps but I’ll get to that later.

Next was the right side and a custom-built piece for the top section.

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

So what the heck is it? Remember before when I said you have to think about gravity first? Well that weird looking “table” is what we used to keep our top section of tile from falling to the floor. Worked a little something like this.

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

I will confess that we didn’t put enough support in the middle of the “table” so if you look really, really closely at our finished tile job you’ll see we’re a tiny bit saggy in the middle. Such is the imperfect DIY life.

I want to take a minute to point out how quickly and easily the actual tile installation went. More importantly, to point out the immense importance of good prep work. If we hadn’t spent all that time shimming the cement board, making the overhang even, etc., this whole thing would have been a slow, frustrating disaster. As much as I hate it, prep work makes all the difference in the world. Don’t skimp or rush. It’s just not worth it in the end. Now back to the fireplace.

Remember those gaps I told you I would revisit? Here’s a shot of one.

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

All I did was fill those spaces with some grout left over from the floor tile and they were practically invisible. (I can’t take credit for the idea. A friend of mine recently used a similar stone on her fireplace and told me how she filled the spaces. Thanks Nicole.)

Since the stone was so uneven and rough I decided to tape off the area first to minimize the mess.

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.comThen a shot of grout from my caulk gun which I smoothed out with my finger.

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

Lastly, remove the tape and clean up the edges with a sponge. Can you find it?

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

I probably filled a dozen spaces this way. Most of them were smaller than the one I shared but still too big to look natural.

Guess what? It’s done! Well, the tiling is done. Now we’re working on a mantle. Can’t wait to share it next week. Until then, here’s a few more photos of the finished tile.

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

How To Tile Your Fireplace | laughingabi.com

So excited to have that done. Are you finishing up any big projects? Or are you getting ready to start something new for Spring?

How To Make New Wood Look Old

Remember a couple months ago when I wrote about my Christmas mantle? Well today I’m following through on my promise and sharing how I made my own weathered wood for that project.

How To Make New Wood Look Old | laughingabi.com

First let me say that I didn’t come up with this idea. I found it on Pinterest (where else?) and decided to give it a try. It was touch and go at first (more on that in a minute) but I love the way it turned out.

SUPPLIES:
1. The wood you want to treat/weather. We used cedar fence pickets (the same ones we used HERE) because they’re already rough and knotty and because they’re cheap. We intentionally picked pieces that were split or damaged since that was the end look we were hoping for. I don’t remember the exact cost but they were only a couple bucks per picket. I used six so let’s estimate $12-$15.

How To Make New Wood Look Old | laughingabi.com

2. Medium or coarse steel wool. You could probably use a fine grade if it’s something you already have.

3. Vinegar. Nothing fancy. Just plain old white, distilled vinegar.

4. A glass jar with a lid. Some sites I looked at said it had to be a non-metal lid but I used a mason jar and didn’t have any problems.

5. Rubber gloves.

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Fill your jar with the vinegar.

2. Put the steel wool in the vinegar and put on the lid. This concoction needs to sit for 24 hours so set it aside while you prep your wood.

How To Make New Wood Look Old | laughingabi.com

3. Cut your boards to the size you want. Keep in mind you’re tying to make them look old and weathered so perfection is not your goal this time. I had Josh cut ours down to 5′ each.

4. After 24 hours have passed put on your rubber gloves, open the jar, and get ready to make a mess. All you’re going to do is take the steel wool out of the vinegar and “scrub” the wood with it. When it starts to dry out dunk it back into the vinegar and keep going.

This is the point in the project where I started to have doubts. The steel wool and vinegar didn’t look any different after 24 hours than it did when I first put it in the jar. And the first pass on my wood came out like this:

How To Make New Wood Look Old | laughingabi.com

It’s kinda pretty but definitely not weathered or old looking.

But I figured since I’d come this far I might as well keep going. So I waited until it was completely dry (which made a big difference) and “scrubbed” it with a second coat – and then a third.

How To Make New Wood Look Old | laughingabi.com

Did you notice how different the first coat looks after it’s completely dry. And how the effect is slowly building?

By the third coat something else was happening too. My vinegar was turning to a brown, gunky sludge.

How To Make New Wood Look Old | laughingabi.com

This, my friends, is when things started to get interesting. The grosser the vinegar turned, the older my pickets started to look.

After three coats – completely dried – they looked like this.

How To Make New Wood Look Old | laughingabi.com

Those splits and dings I mentioned earlier came out like this:

How To Make New Wood Look Old | laughingabi.com

How To Make New Wood Look Old | laughingabi.com

6. Success. Now you can do your Happy Dance. (Keep it clean people, this is a twerk-free zone.)

That’s the end of the instructions for weathering the wood but before I show you how we put the finished piece together, a couple of notes.
— If you’re like me you’ll be tempted to skip the rubber gloves and just get straight to work. Don’t do it. For realsies. I ended up with stained fingernails and little slivers of steel wool stuck in my skin.
— This is a messy project. I did it on the kitchen floor but if weather permits, take it outside.

Now on to the construction.

First we spent a little time shuffling boards around to get them in the order we thought looked best. Then we flipped them all face down and Josh cut some pickets we had left over from another project to fit across the back. (Can I just mention here that I hate how my kitchen floor looks like we live in a gymnasium?)

How To Make New Wood Look Old | laughingabi.com

All that was left was to screw the three cross boards into the new/old pickets, holding them all together. We pre-drilled the holes using used a countersink bit so there wouldn’t be any risk of the screw heads scratching up the wall when we hung it.

How To Make New Wood Look Old | laughingabi.com

With everything screwed together we flipped it over and VOILA – a rustic background for my mantle.

How To Make New Wood Look Old | laughingabi.com

Here’s a few more holiday pictures because I haven’t been motivated to put up anything else yet. I have taken down the Christmas decorations though, I promise.

How To Make New Wood Look Old | laughingabi.com

How To Make New Wood Look Old | laughingabi.com

How To Make New Wood Look Old | laughingabi.com

Have you tried to make something new look old lately? Did it turn out the way you expected?

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorations: Christmas Door Hanger

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorations: Christmas Door Hanger | laughingabi.com

THE GOOD NEWS: This project went together in about ten minutes and cost me $0.

THE BAD NEWS: I have no idea how I did it.

I honestly just grabbed some ribbon from my stash and started cutting and tying and looping it together. The frame and greenery/pine cone are held on with hot glue and duct tape – because that’s how I roll.

So if you’re looking for a tutorial, I’m sorry. This is more of an “idea” post.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorations: Christmas Door Hanger | laughingabi.com

My inspiration came from another blog called Nell Hill’s Blog. Her version is much fancier than mine but the concept is the same.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorations: Christmas Door Hanger | laughingabi.com

I filled the frame with a picture of my daughter but you could use your favorite Christmas wrapping paper or a monogram for the person staying in that room over the holiday. Or you could skip the frame altogether an use an ornament instead.

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorations: Christmas Door Hanger | laughingabi.com

12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorations: Christmas Door Hanger | laughingabi.com

Another idea from Nell Hill’s Blog is to hang small stockings filled with goodies on each of the doors so when your guests arrive there’s a treat waiting for them. How sweet is that? It almost makes me want to invite the whole family to my house for Christmas. Almost.

Are you hosting Christmas at your house this year? Will you have treats for your guests when they arrive? Or is letting them stay at your house treat enough?

This post is Day 12 in the series “12 Days of Easy Christmas Decorating”. Click these gallery pics to see all the projects in the series.

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