My spray paint addiction and a spring chalkboard

Some people dream of planting flowers when spring weather hits. Others race outside to jog or ride their bike (pffft). Me? I can’t wait to get my hands on a can of spray paint.

Spray paint addiction and spring chalkboard | laughingabi.com

So far this season, in between the freak snow storms and flooding rains (we live in Chicagoland), I’ve finished up three spray paint projects.

The first, Teen Queen’s portable ballet barre, I’ve already shared with you.

Spray paint addiction and spring chalkboard | laughingabi.com

Spray paint addiction and spring chalkboard | laughingabi.com

What I didn’t show you are the scars it left – a spray paint junkie’s track marks, if you will.

Spray paint addiction and spring chalkboard | laughingabi.com

The next project was part of Baby Girl’s bedroom redo. Sorry about the goofy before shot. It’s the only pic I could find with the purple handles. See Baby Girl behind the dresser building her loft bed?

Spray paint addiction and spring chalkboard | laughingabi.com

Spray paint addiction and spring chalkboard | laughingabi.com

I will never get over how a few swipes of paint can take a dresser from Purple Princess to Tree Top Kid.

And finally, my entry chalkboard.

Spray paint addiction and spring chalkboard | laughingabi.com

Spray paint addiction and spring chalkboard | laughingabi.com

Spray paint addiction and spring chalkboard | laughingabi.com

Spray paint addiction and spring chalkboard | laughingabi.com

This transformation is my favorite. I’ve always thought the frame would be glorious in glossy white. And it is. It’s so much more clean and modern and . . . purdy. I’ve got it all chalked up for spring despite the freezing rain blowing outside my front door. Mother Nature is such a fickle b!tch.

What spring addictions are you hiding? Keep it clean people, I don’t want to know all that. Tell me just enough to make me feel normal.

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DIY Portable Ballet Barre: Phase 1

Psst. Wanna see this room update from the beginning? Read this post first. Updating a teenage girl’s room.

DIY Portable Ballet Barre | laughingabi.com

If you’ve been following along you know we’re building a “dance wall” in Teen Queen’s bedroom. One of her demands requests was a hot pink ballet barre so she could practice after school. It didn’t take long to realize the challenge wasn’t going to be building the bar but finding a place to put it. Here are some of the things we had to consider.

1. Mirror placement: A lot of diy examples I found were built with the barre and mirrors on the same wall. In reality the mirrors should be on the opposite wall as the barre. This was a problem for us because there wasn’t space in the room for that kind of layout (unless Teen Queen developed x-ray vision and could see through the furniture).
2. Space: Room for a barre is not a big deal. Room to actually use it is another story. There needed to be adequate space to practice without taking over the entire room.

DIY Portable Ballet Barre | laughingabi.com

Eventually, we decided building a portable barre was the best option. This design can be stored flat along the same wall as the mirrors when not being used, and when it’s time for practice can be pulled out into the room, opposite the mirrors (or at least far enough from the mirrors to give the same effect).

We used 1.25″ PVC pipe to make it sturdy, lightweight, and paintable. We also added a lower barre for extra stability even though she is too big to use it any more. With all that decided it was finally time to get to work.

DIY Portable Ballet Barre | laughingabi.com

MATERIALS
(4) 1.25″ PVC crosses
(2) 1.25″ PVC tees
(4) 1.25″ PVC elbows
(2) pieces 1.25″ PVC pipe cut to 24″ long
(6) pieces 1.25″ PVC pipe cut to 12″ long
(2) closet rods cut to 57″ long
Craft foam sheets
Sandpaper
Spray paint

INSTRUCTIONS
I won’t bore you with step by step directions for putting this thing together. The photos are pretty self-explanatory. After you get the PVC pieces assembled there are a few last details.

1. Use the sandpaper to “erase” the black number and letter markings from your pieces.
2. Use the craft foam to fill the gaps where the closet rods fit into the tees and crosses.

  • Cut it the same width as the joint pieces (mine were 4.25″).
  • Roll it into a tube shape. Depending on the thickness of your foam you may have to overlap the ends so you create a double layer. I found it easiest to remove the PVC joint from the other pieces first so you’re working with one small piece instead of the whole barre.
  • Slide the rolled up tube into the PVC joint.
  • Wiggle and twist the barre into the center of the tube. This is a little tricky. I used my left hand to try and keep the foam from shooting out onto the floor but you can see it did slide out a good inch or so. You want it to be a tight fit so it’s stable but not so tight you can’t put it together.

DIY Portable Ballet Barre | laughingabi.com

Once I had everything together (and was sure it would work), I took it all apart and hit it with some hot pink spray paint. I’m always amazed how much paint changes things.

DIY Portable Ballet Barre | laughingabi.com

DIY Portable Ballet Barre | laughingabi.com

DIY Portable Ballet Barre | laughingabi.com

I want to point out that this is not as stable as a barre that attaches to the wall. My dancer is 13 years old uses it for balance and form. If your dancer is younger and will be leaning on the barre or putting a lot of weight on it, this may not be a good option for you.

So what unique features have you added to you kids’ rooms? A climbing wall? A race car? A trapeze bar? Hey, it could happen.

My new open kitchen cabinets

I got a crazy idea to take the doors off my kitchen cabinets. I blame Jen over at Tatertots & Jello. She just made it look so darn good. And she changes it out seasonally so it never gets old. So I decided to give it a shot. Here’s how mine turned out.

Open kitchen cabinets | laughingabi.com

Open kitchen cabinets | laughingabi.com

Open kitchen cabinets | laughingabi.com

Open kitchen cabinets | laughingabi.com

Open kitchen cabinets | laughingabi.com

This started as a really simple project.

  1. Remove cabinet doors (1.1 Cringe at the chaos lurking beneath.)
  2. Buy a sheet of beadboard from your local home improvement store. (You can have them cut it to size or take it home and do it yourself.)
  3. Paint beadboard.
  4. Place beadboard in back of cabinet, re-install shelves, and arrange dishes, etc.

Unfortunately, I ran into a few problems. Actually there was really only one problem – my husband was sick. Which meant there was no one to run the table saw for me. Being the resourceful woman that I am, I took the beadboard back to Lowe’s where I bought it and had them cut it to size. Problem solved, right? Uh, wrong. Here’s what I came home with.

Open kitchen cabinets | laughingabi.com

See that funky angle at the top? That totally “not gonna fit no matter how hard you shove it in there or how many inappropriate words you use” angle? At this point I had no choice but to wait. Wait until my husband felt well enough to run a power tool without slicing off any limbs.

So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And finally, three days later, he crawled out of his death bed and cut the teeny-tiny 1/4 inch off my board. Voila all was right with the world again. A couple coats of paint and I was able to put everything together.

Just to keep things real, here’s how it looked before – nothing wrong with it but kinda snoozy.

Open kitchen cabinets | laughingabi.com

I’m really happy with how everything (finally) turned out but have to admit that it’s caused a domino effect. Now I’m repainting all the kitchen walls and sewing new curtains. What can I say? My name is Abi and I’m a decorating addict.

A few notes:

  • If your assistant isn’t sick this is a super easy upgrade to any kitchen.
  • I didn’t need to use any adhesive or nails to hold the beadboard in place. My shelves fit right up against it and did the job for me.
  • I recently read about these little shelf hole fillers from IKEA and plan to get me some soon. (Thanks Storefront Life for sharing.)
  • There are a million different ways to arrange open shelves. Mine needed to be functional rather than decorative.

Do you have any easy kitchen upgrades? Or any stories about a simple upgrade that turned into a complete room redo? Come on, I can’t be the only one.

 

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.

 

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

My kids’ after-school schedules are insane. The biggest problem is my oldest daughter’s show choir commitment. Her director throws a dart at the calendar for rehearsal dates then decides pick-up times based on the number of eggs in her refrigerator that morning. (Who’s sarcastic?) And of course when one kid’s schedule changes the dominoes topple until nobody knows when they’re coming home or how they’re getting there.

So of course I turned to Pinterest for organizational inspiration. I found gobs of “command centers” but they were too complicated for my needs. I wanted to design something just as functional but on a much smaller scale. Here’s what I did.

1. Started with a thrift store frame.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

2. Bought a piece of foam core and cut it to fit. Cost me $3.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

3. Found a piece of plexi-glass to fit.
Since my frame wasn’t a standard size I couldn’t find a cheap piece of glass to fit. Instead, I stole a piece of flimsy plexi-glass from an old poster frame stashed in my basement. It wasn’t my first choice but it was free and easy to cut so I went with it.

4. Next I tested some fabric options by placing them under the plexi and writing on them.
I needed to make sure the pattern didn’t make it hard to read the messages.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

5. I used scrapbook adhesive to wrap the fabric around the foam core, making sure to keep everything square and smooth. Double stick tape would work just as well.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

Almost done.

6. I designed a simple “how am I getting home today?” calendar and “where the heck is mom?” message center, and stuck them to the fabric-wrapped foam core. 
I decided to print them on vellum paper (from the scrapbooking section of any craft store) so the fabric pattern would still show through. I used Zots in each corner of the paper to stick the pages to the fabric. And yes, that does say, “walking a dog”. It’s one of my random jobs.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

7. I decided at the last minute to add a piece of ribbon between the two sections. Forgot to take a picture. Ooops.

Finally, it was time to put everything together. This part was a little tricky but once I figured out a system it went pretty smoothly.

8. I drilled small holes into the inside edges of the frame – on the back where you would put the backing on a regular frame.
I didn’t go very deep, just enough to hold a nail in place while I tapped it in. I used this little hand crank drill thingy we have.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

9. Then, with all the pieces sandwiched together in the frame, I carefully hammered a small brad nail into each starter hole.
I had to hammer at a little bit of an angle so afterwards I just bent the nail down toward the foam core to hold everything tight. Not very sophisticated but it works.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

And VOILA! It’s done. (Sorry about the reflections.)

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

This post is part of the Pinterest Challenge over on Young House Love. Make sure you check out all the other link ups HERE.

pinterest winter-challenge

Also, here are links to the projects on Pinterest that inspired this whole thing. Make sure you take a look at them too.

sas interiors

Hi Sugar Plum

The Caldwell Project

24 Cottonwood Lane

How do you keep all the people in your house going to the right places every day? Do you have your own version of a “command center”?

Displaying your kids’ quotes in photo frames and stalking Nate Berkus

Display kids' quotes in photo frames | laughingabi.com

I am obsessed with Nate Berkus. I can’t help myself. He’s freakin’ adorbs and I love his ideas for decorating with “The Things That Matter“. So when I heard he was going to be on the Rachael Ray Show I was on it like a stalker on a binocular sale.

One of the tips he shared was using photo frames for things like handwritten notes or thank you cards. I don’t have any notes or cards but I do have a couple kids that say funny things, and a handful of empty frames. So I grabbed some pretty paper and whipped up this little number. So cute and so easy. You could probably put one together by looking at the picture – but just in case, here’s how I made it.

Supplies:
Frame
Two coordinating sheets of scrapbooking paper (1 pattern and 1 solid or lightly textured)
Scissors
Pencil

The key to this project is the scrapbooking paper. It adds color, texture and personality. It’s super cheap at Michael’s or JoAnn’s and comes in a zillion different patterns and colors. Sometimes you can even get 4 sheets for $1 if you catch it on sale.

Instructions:
1. Remove the glass from your frame and use it as a template for your patterned paper. Trace around it with a pencil and cut along your lines with scissors.

Display kids' quotes in photo frames | laughingabi.com

2. Type or write your quote on the solid paper, remembering to make it smaller than your patterned paper so you will be able to see both pieces when you’re done. I used my computer for this part but it would be really cute to have the kids write the quote themselves. Play with different shapes and fonts then print them out on plain paper so you can see which one you like best. Here are some of the ideas I tried.

Display kids' quotes in photo frames | laughingabi.com

3. When you have everything how you want it, print on your scrapbooking paper. (NOTE: Most scrapbooking paper comes in 12″ x 12″ sheets and will need to be cut down to 8.5″ x 11″ to feed through your printer.)

Display kids' quotes in photo frames | laughingabi.com

4. Trim out your quote. Place the quote on the patterned paper – use a tiny dot of glue or adhesive to hold it in place if you need. All that’s left is to put everything together in your frame and admire your work.

Personal note – This quote is especially significant because it’s something I also told my mom when I was a young girl. I’m not sure what scares me more, knowing I used to act like my daughter or realizing I will soon act like my mother.

Display kids' quotes in photo frames | laughingabi.com

Display kids' quotes in photo frames | laughingabi.com

Display kids' quotes in photo frames | laughingabi.com

Do you use your picture frames for something other than photos? Or do you have a favorite quote you want to frame?

Sharing imperfections – my photo gallery wall.

I took a short break from blog writing last week to do some blog reading. (Hopefully one day soon I’ll find enough balance to do both.) Ironically, I was most inspired by all the imperfection I found. People posting their half-finished projects and mile-long to-do lists. People who are writing because they need to get something done but can’t figure out how. People just. like. me. Seems I’ve been so concerned with making this blog shiny and pretty I forgot the most important part of sharing creative ideas – THE PROCESS. Before and after shots are great but it’s all the blood, sweat, and tears in the middle that people really want to see. So with that in mind I’m sharing my latest work in progress – my living room photo gallery wall.

This whole mess started when the lizard moved in. The only space big enough for her tank was along my photo gallery wall, which covered up half of the photos and left everything all wonky and out of balance. I could only find half of a “before” picture so I filled in the rest with fancy illustration techniques.

before gallery wall

You get the idea, right? Not exactly Better Homes & Gardens. I’m embarrassed to admit things stayed that way for a year. Yep, a whole year. It wasn’t until we rearranged the furniture in the room that I was finally inspired to fix things.

I started by hanging a shadow box in the center of the space. (I found it at an estate sale years ago. It used to be in my daughter’s room but she’s tired of it now so I get it back!) Then I started filling in around it with photos. I have two words for you – TRIAL and ERROR. I just kept picking things up and putting them somewhere else until I liked it. This blurry shot shows newspaper templates we taped on the wall right before we got out the hammer and nails.

Photo 2013-02-04 01.11.06 PM

The end result is balanced (my taste) yet asymmetric (hub’s taste).

photo gallery wall from laughingabi.com

photo gallery wall from laughingabi.com

photo gallery wall from laughingabi.com

My favorite part is the shadow box. I’ve filled it with treasures that have been stashed on a closet shelf for years.

photo gallery wall from laughingabi.com

The stuffy my husband’s dad slept with as a child (he died when my husband was a toddler), a photo of him as a child, and his first half-marathon medal.

photo gallery wall from laughingabi.com

My childhood stuffy, a picture of me & mom, and the locket I wore when we got married with a picture of my uncle inside.

photo gallery wall from laughingabi.com

My oldest daughter’s first ballet shoes. So tiny.

photo gallery wall from laughingabi.com

A picture my baby girl drew when her first pet, Ruby the goldfish, died.

As I said before, it’s not done. Here are some ideas I’m still toying with.

  • I plan to update the photographs. (I don’t know if you noticed but some of them are black & white, some color, and some aren’t even inside the frame, they’re just taped to the glass until I can decide if I like them.
  • There are a few more things I want to add to the shadow box, if I can ever find them.
  • When I can afford it, I would like add more frames and hang everything closer together. I think it all could be a little tighter.
  • The big empty space on the lower right bothers me a lot. I was thinking about hanging the guitar there.
  • Thinking about putting a patterned paper or fabric in the back of the shadow box – you know, like you would do in the back of a book shelf or cabinet?

So that’s what I’m working on in between loads of laundry and driving the mom taxi. It’s not a big project but getting it done will make a big difference.

A year of chalkboards

The chalkboard in our entry is one of my favorite things to doodle and decorate. Sometimes I’m inspired by a holiday. Other times by the crazy people living in my house. These are some of my ideas from the past year and a link to the Pinterest board where I keep my lettering inspiration. Enjoy!

Love & laughs,
abi

Christmas chalkboard

Valentine's & Halloween chalkboard

Thanksgiving chalkboard

Awesome & Easter chalkboard

Winter chalkboard

Brown paper bags turned into holiday decorations

My sister-in-law is an amazing artist, one of those people who can do everything. She paints. She draws. She throws clay. She crafts. She crochets. She takes inspiring photographs. Even her name screams creative genius – Piper LaRue. Nice, right? So today I’m sharing a few of Piper’s masterpieces with you, specifically her hand-drawn gift bags. Yep, these all started as plain brown paper bags. I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away after last Christmas so I trimmed, laminated, and framed them. Voila – handmade holiday decorations.

Santa Elvis

Santa fish

flying Santa

Santa puppet

If you don’t have access to an amazing young artist, you can find fabric and scrapbooking paper these days that’s frame-worthy. I’ve even seen some wrapping papers here that I would gladly hang on my wall. Do you have any “repurposed” holiday decorations? Send me a link, I’d love to see it.

DIY cafe mocha sugar scrub and free printable

A couple weeks ago I shared a recipe for a DIY pumpkin spice sugar scrub. Since then I’ve come up with another scrub that is UH. MAZE. ING. It’s perfect for holiday gift giving and you probably have everything you need in the cupboard right now.

Cafe Mocha Sugar Scrub 

diy cafe mocha sugar scrub

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