My Accidental Valentine’s Day Mantle

I don’t usually decorate for Valentine’s Day. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s my post-Christmas need for simplification. Maybe it’s my busy schedule. Most likely it’s laziness. Whatever the reason, this year is different. This year I accidentally created this Valentine’s Day Mantle.

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

It started with these arrows my mom sent me for Christmas. I LOVE them and knew immediately I wanted the metallic finish on my “weathered” wood mantle backdrop. (See how I built it HERE.)My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

Then I started searching the house for anything else metallic. I found this sparkly vase (an upcycled glass tea bottle covered with glitter) filled with pink tissue paper flowers from my sister-in-law’s wedding. I raised it up using a couple books wrapped in plain brown paper and a touch of washi tape.

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

Next, one more splash of gold thanks to another Christmas gift.

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

How adorable is that piece?! My sister-in-law made it based on this photo of my girls. I can’t get over what she can create with a needle and embroidery floss.

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

This was the point where I stepped back to take a look and realized I had a Valentine’s Day vibe going on. So I decided to roll with it. A couple more pink flowers, hearts cut out of patterened scrapbook paper, and some candles finished it up.

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

My Accidental Valentine's Day Mantle | laughingabi.com

I didn’t mean to do it, but I really love how it looks when I walk in the front door every day. Can’t ask for more than that.

Have you ever “accidentally” decorated something? Or started a project that ends up completely different than you planned?

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1950’s Tanker Desk Redesign

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

Ahhhhh. The sweet, sweet smell of victory. That glorious feeling when you’re able to transform something from this.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

To this.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

From before.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

To after.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

My biggest challenge on this piece was its massive size – this beast measures 29″ tall x 50″ wide x 26″ deep. I started with lots and lots of wood filler on spots like this.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

Then I opened my first ever can of General Finishes paint. Cue the singing angels because I’m a believer. I have drank the Kool-Aid. And I am here to testify. All the hype you hear about General Finishes paint is totally true. (This isn’t a sponsored post – I don’t really do that sort of thing – I was just really impressed with this product.)

I used General Finishes Persian Blue on the body of the desk and their Java Gel Stain on the drawers and legs. I am in love with the color combo.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

I topped everything off with several coats of Varathane Crystal Clear Polyurethane in Satin for a protective finish.

The final jewel in the crown was some sparkly, metallic gold hardware. This is my new favorite product for the perfect color. I found it at Michael’s.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

I added a few coats to the original drawer pulls and voila!

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

This project went so much smoother than the last couple I shared here and here – thank goodness. It’s nice to see I’m at least learning something from all those mistakes.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

DIY State Wall Art

DIY State Wall Art | laughingabi.com

This one is a quickie y’all. I put it together last week when I was working on my new gallery wall and it’s already one of my favorite things in the room. I could tell you how it reminds me of our family in Kansas and how much I miss the “old days” living close to them but I’ll skip the mushy stuff and make with the project, k?

MATERIALS:
1. Frame (I already had this one. You can find it here.)
2. Map of your favorite state that fits in your frame.
3. Piece of scrapbooking paper, gold in my case.

DIY State Wall Art | laughingabi.com

The first step is creating a template of your state. There are a lot of different ways to go about this depending on your artistic or graphic skills. I am most comfortable on the computer so here’s how I did it.

1. Found my state & saved the file: I Googled “Kansas outline” and searched for a silhouette that I liked and that would be easy to work with. I picked this one then saved it as a GIF. (Normally I would save as a JPEG but my computer wouldn’t let me this time so I used GIF and it worked fine.)
2. Enlarged the shape using OpenOffice Draw: I opened my GIF file in OpenOffice Draw – any desktop graphics program should work. Here I could manipulate things to fit my project. I changed the page size to 12″x12″ (to match the dimensions of my scrapbooking paper) and enlarged the state outline as much as possible on the new page size. SUPER IMPORTANT REMINDER – remember to hold down the shift key when resizing your state so everything gets enlarged proportionately.
3. Saved the new, modified file & printed: Next I saved the new file as a JPEG and printed it. I used card stock so it would be easier to trace around later but if you only have regular paper that’s fine. Remember you’ll need to specify “tile” or “distribute on multiple sheets of paper” when you print because the document is now bigger than a standard 8.5 x 11 page. Since Kansas is kind of long and skinny it only took two pages to print. You could end up with more depending on the shape of your state.
4. Trimmed & assembled the pages: I trimmed out each page and taped them together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Now I had a perfectly sized state template to work with. All I had to do was lay it on top of my gold paper, lightly trace around it, and trim it out. You can see my outline above in photo #3.

The last step was to cut out a little heart from some leftover map paper. Then everything else was just a matter of assembly.

DIY State Wall Art | laughingabi.com

The heart goes on the state, the state goes on the map, the map goes in the frame. Voila!

DIY State Wall Art | laughingabi.com

Here it is in its place on the new gallery wall. I love how the gold paper ties in with the gold details on the frame in the middle of the shadow box. I would love to say I planned it that way but it was a total accident.

DIY State Wall Art | laughingabi.com

So that’s my DIY tribute to “back home”. It was quick, inexpensive (I only needed to buy the scrapbooking paper), and so much easier than that yellow brick road idea Josh had.

Do you have any state art in your home? Are they pieces that represent home? Or places you’ve traveled?

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 To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

Last week we went on vacation and spent some time with our family in Kansas. While we were there my amazingly creative sister-in-law showed us how to make these adorable storage jars. They’re so cute and so easy to make. I use mine to hold a coconut oil & frankincense facial moisturizer but she has them all over her house storing all sorts of things. More on that in a minute, first let’s make some jars.

You only need a few materials, some you probably have around the house already.

1. A jar with a lid. Mason jars, baby food jars, whatever you have. (We had dinner at a friend’s house the night before and I spotted the jar on the far right in their trash can. It held the mushrooms that went in our risotto. Yummy and useful.)

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

2. Plastic animals. We found ours at a garden supply store but you can get them at craft stores too.

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

3. Super glue. Any kind you like. We used this.
4. Gold paint. Again, use what you like. Here’s ours.

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

The first thing we did was glue the ring and disc part of our mason jar lid together so it was one piece. If your lids are already one piece you can obviously skip this step.

Next we glued our animals onto the lids and let them dry overnight. In the morning we coated the lids and animals with gold paint and VOILA! They’re done.

Here’s my youngest daughter’s.

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

And here’s Teen Queen’s.

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

Aren’t they fun? We were all surprised how much detail the gold paint brought out, especially on this little guy.

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

I mentioned that my sister-in-law uses them all over her house. My favorite example is this pork rub mixture that she layered into a tall skinny jar. (I think it used to hold olives.)

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

Wouldn’t that be a perfect hostess or house warming gift? Oh, and did you see the gold squirrel there next to it? She stores chopped nuts in that one. Love that girl.

And just because it’s my favorite, here’s one more photo of my foxy little jar.

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

I love seeing these jars around the house. They’re so pretty and they remind me of my family that lives too far away.

What fun storage containers do you use? Anything handmade or adorable?

 

A modern tree mural update

Modern tree mural update | laughingabi.com

As part of the update to Baby Girl’s bedroom I needed to modify her tree mural so it was a home for birds and squirrels, not fairies. (See the original mural here.) I’ll admit I never loved the Pixie Hollow tree so I was pretty excited about the chance to do something more modern and contemporary with it. Something urban birds and squirrels would live in. Here are the changes, step by step.

Modern tree mural update | laughingabi.comWe started by painting over the pixie dust waterfalls so it looked like a plain tree.

Modern tree mural update | laughingabi.com

Then we decided we wanted to reshape the middle branches so we painted on the new color, making our branch shapes as we went, and primed the “old parts” that were still showing. If you look at the bottom of this picture you can tell we made some changes to the trunk too. It went on a little tree diet.

The next step was painting the blue wall color over the primed patches. I don’t have a picture of that stage because I was too busy spilling the bucket of blue paint all over the carpet.

!@#&*!

If you decide to try this project I would recommend skipping that part.

A couple vodka-tonics and a good night’s sleep later, it was finally time for the fun part – painting the wood grain/tree rings.

Modern tree mural update | laughingabi.com

Modern tree mural update | laughingabi.com

tree trunk done 1 marked

Modern tree mural update | laughingabi.com

I wish I could give you more direction for drawing these lines. It was mostly just trial and error but here are a few pointers.

  • I used an IKEA duvet cover for inspiration and tried to mimic their pattern in the beginning.
  • I sketched all my lines with chalk before I put anything permanent on the wall.
  • The longer I worked, the more natural it seemed.
  • I used a medium-point Elmer’s metallic gold paint pen

When I painted the original mural I added another set of branches on the wall next to the window. So of course I had to modernize those too.

Modern tree mural update | laughingabi.com

And because I’m a creative glutton (and Baby Girl asked with her sweet little puppy dog eyes), I added a branch to the closet doors too.

Modern tree mural update | laughingabi.com

Modern tree mural update | laughingabi.com

Here’s how the two smaller sets of branches look together.

Modern tree mural update | laughingabi.com

I’m really happy with how it all turned out. The metallic paint makes it sparkle when the sun streams through the window. And every little girl’s room can use a little sparkle.

Have you ever updated one of your own DIY projects? Did you like the old or new version better?

I’m linking up with Tatertots & Jello this week. Make sure you go check out all the other amazing DIY ideas over there.