Category Archives: Art

Pottery Barn Knock-off wall organization system

Pottery barn knock off memo board

After the stair makeover we decided to take a little break from the large projects and focus on some smaller projects we’ve been meaning to do.  About a year ago I decided that Sophie needed one of the Pottery Barn Teen wall organization systems for her room.

img52c Cute right? The $267 price tag; however,  is not so cute. I decided I would simply make her one myself. I bought the fabric and then we decided to sell our house and buy a new one, so the project was sidelined. It wasn’t until a co-worker of mine decided to make one for her daughter that the project was put back on the agenda.

Warning: I seem to have misplaced the progress pictures so all I have are the final product. Also, we made 3 boards in total which actually made the price a little more reasonable since we could share materials. And finally, the project was more labor intensive than I would have imagined since each square is basically a small project unto itself.

message center The total cost of each board came out to $40! That’s a $227 savings per board! I also love that I was able to fully customize the fabric to match Sophie’s room. I choose a larger molding for the frame as well to give the board more heft.

DIY message center from pottery barn After studying the Pottery Barn wall organization system I decided to incorporate a magnetic board, a cork board, a shelf, and a wire clothes pin line. The little shelf I picked up at A.C. Moore for $1 and painted black. The fabric behind it is adhered straight to the plywood backing using spray adhesive.

pottery barn wall organization DIY The magnetic board is a sheet of galvanized steel sheet metal that conveniently is sold at Home Depot in 12 x 12 pieces.  For the cork board I bought a pack of 4 12 x12 cork tiles ( I was able to use the other 3 tiles for my co-worker’s boards) then using spray adhesive and hot glue adhered this awesome black and white chevron fabric that I picked up at Hancock Fabrics.

clothes pin wire hanger For the wire clothes pin line Code made me a wood frame that we then ran steel wire across. The miniature clothes pins are from Wal-mart.

message center

I love that Sophie now has a way to really express herself in her room without literally taping things to the walls!

Quick and easy DIY silhouettes

make a silhouette with a bow

I’ve been dying to make silhouettes of my kids ever since I’ve seen them all over Pinterest. To me this is my favorite kind of art. It’s personal, customizable, and cheap! I love that silhouettes are also a very classic motif and it doesn’t hurt that they are easy to make. I decided not to write a whole new tutorial for this project since they are all over the internet (here is the one I used), but I will give you a couple of details.

  1. I used black construction paper for the silhouette
  2. The background is a gift bag that I bought at Target (cute, right?)
  3. I glued the construction paper to the background with Elmer’s glue
  4. The frames are Ikea Ribba.

Here’s an example of the pictures I started with and how the silhouette came out:

silh collage DIY silhouette







I made them nice and pinnable for you too!

The inspiration to add the ribbon actually came from this silhouette pillow.  My girl’s always have bows and headbands in their hair so it only made sense to add them.

how to make a silhouette I love how these came out. The colors are absolutely perfect. I especially love the texture of the gift bag which looks like lace. The options you could used for the backdrop are endless (think of all that scrapbook paper out there!)

The frames found a home at the top of our kitchen stairs. They draw the eye up while the mint color connects the two spaces together (remember our mint school house lights and our mint and sisal chandelier in the kitchen?)

how to make a silhouette For now please ignore the ugly stairs and half painted walls. They’re next on our to-do list. The silhouettes also make the perfect transition from the adult space of the kitchen to the kid’s space of the playroom.

DIY silhouette tutorial Stay tuned for 3 more DIY art projects I have on my list. Until check out some of previous projects: Stenciled Burlap art, DIY Subway Art, Glitter art, and reclaimed wood moose head.

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“Hey there beautiful” glitter art

hey there beautiful artwork

When I first envisioned a vignette for the foyer I knew I wanted a welcoming piece of typographical art. Then I saw Stephanie Creekmur’s “Hey Y’all” gold print and fell in love. You may remember it from my Industrial Chic foyer mood board.  I was hoping that the sophisticated and shimmery gold would help balance out the raw metal and wood of the industrial table.  After showing it to my mom, she convinced me we’re not southern enough to pull off “y’all” (despite the fact we live in Virginia and I use the term all the time), so I decided to make my own version.

I wanted an uplifting and welcoming phrase to great visitors, and I eventually settled on “Hey there beautiful” for no other reason that it makes me happy. Using PicMonkey I created the text the way I wanted it to look.

picmonkey artwork I printed it onto card stock in a golden color to ensure that no color would bleed through the glitter. Next, using a fine tip paint brush I painted matte modge podge (affiliate) over the letters.

hey there beautiful I did one letter at a time then sprinkled extra fine gold glitter (affiliate) over it. I continued going one letter at a time while going back and filling in bare spots.

typographical artwork This is a super easy project. Just make sure to use the finest tip brush you can find. I actually used two different ones to get the wider and thinner parts of the letters. I let it dry for 2 hours before framing.

hey there beautiful artwork I got the frame from Target on clearance for $7. I love the juxtaposition of the slightly rustic frame with the gold glitter.

how to make a rustic table And the foyer is officially done! I love how the vignette looks paired with the wainscoting behind it. And doesn’t it look just like my inspiration board? I still need to get something for the owl vase. I’m thinking a cotton branch.  The final touch to this space will  be the stairs makeover which will hopefully be later this summer.

Anyone else using glitter to light up their house?

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Custom DIY Subway Art with large custom frame

DIY subway art or word art

If you are not familiar with what subway art is than you have obviously been living under a rock (or don’t frequent Pinterest), but basically it is a typographical art work where words are set in different typesets in order to create a visually appealing and thought-provoking piece of work. Usually, the words have some sort of theme such as a holiday, family rules, favorite quotes, or the birth of a baby. So, I had seen DIY subway art all over Pinterest for a while now, but I wasn’t really motivated to make my own until I saw  Dria’s over at Dio Home Improvements.  I loved how large hers was, and I just happened to need a large piece of art for over the bookcases in our new family room. This project also appealed to me because it’s completely customizable and personal.

I decided that subway art was exactly what I needed in my life, but I wasn’t sure how to achieve the look I wanted. A lot of other bloggers used Photoshop to create their pictures, but I don’t have access to Photoshop….whomp whomp. Then along came Courtney from the Ginger Penny Pincher with How to make Subway Art with Picmonkey! If, you are not familiar with PicMonkey (affiliate), it’s a free photo-editing software that you can get online and it’s what I already use to edit all the photos for this lovely blog.There is no registration and nothing to download. You can also upgrade to get more features for $33 a year (that’s only 2.75 a month). Many of the fonts I used for this project are available with the Royale upgrade, but you can still create a beautiful subway art with the free fonts as well.

I decided that my theme would be places and times that defined our family. I knew I was going with the medium poster from Staples (18 x 24), so per their instructions I re-sized the image on PicMonkey to 3238x 4288. Here was my first shot at it:

how to make subway art

I used a different font for each word or phrase then simply moved them around and adjusted their size until they all fit the way I wanted them to. The project almost ended here because I simply LOVED IT! However, I had my heart set on a colorful piece of art that would brighten up the otherwise gray and white space, so after saving this version, just in case, I went ahead and started experimenting with color and I got this:

DIY subway art

I’ll admit it took me awhile to get the colors right then to figure our how to lay out all the colors appropriately, but in the end I am absolutely thrilled with how it looks! Make sure to leave a border around the edge of the page or else some of your words may get cut off in printing. If you forget (like I did) you can re-upload your image into PicMonkey and add the simple edge border. Change both colors to white and up the thickness to where you want. This did the trick for me.

Next, I ordered a poster print from Staples in 18 x 24 for $19.99. When it came in the mail I was so excited that I tacked it up to the wall to see how it would fit and there it stayed tacked to the wall for 3 months. Whomp Whomp….. Just like our Engineering prints we hung in the room it took us a while to finally get around to building a frame for this custom artwork.

Cody used three different types of molding to make this frame: 1×4, baseboard, and crown molding. He literally just went to the molding section of Home Depot and layered the molding until he got the look he was going for.

how to build a custom frame

Here’s quick run down of how he layered them. First he cut the baseboard to size and 45ed the angles.

frame from molding

Next, he added the 1×4 to the edges of the baseboard also 45ing the angles.

frame from baseboard

Finally, he added the crown molding to the area between the 1×4 and the baseboard. Once again the angles are 45ed and you can see how they all line up.

frame from crown molding

Here’s a close-up after all the seams had been caulked.

how to build a frame from crown molding

We had originally thought to paint the frame white, but then I thought that the area next to fireplace already seemed a little devoid of color so Cody decided on Rust-Oleum’s Lemon Grass.  And here is the result!

large frame from crown molding

I absolutely love it! Honestly, the frame is the real piece of art here. Even though we had the poster hanging in the family room for months, I cant’ even begin to tell you the number of people who hadn’t even noticed it until the frame was installed. Here’s a close-up of the frame painted although the color is way off. It looks much more like the above picture in person.

How to build a large frame

In the end the frame cost us about $30 to build, so while it wasn’t necessarily cheap it sure beats the heck out of a custom frame job. Total with the print we spent $50 on this project. Not bad for a completely custom and personal piece of art!

PicMonkey Photo editing made of win

Pssst….. the family room is finally done! Family Room Reveal

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DIY Cheap Frames for Engineering Prints

18x24 frames cheap

You know those amazingly large and cheap engineering prints you can get done at Staples? Of course you do. They’re all over Pinterest. Well I had 3 of them made about the time we moved in from our Spring family photo shoot and they’ve been tacked to the wall above our TV ever since. Literally, I used colorful tacks to attach them to the wall.  I was hoping the tackiness of it (pun intended) would encourage Cody to hurry up and make frames for them, but that plan backfired on me. So, here I am 3 months later just now finally getting frames. With the fireplace makeover complete, I was finally able to woo Cody over to finishing up the art of the TV wall.

The engineering prints were 1.79 a piece for 18×24 in, but try finding frames that size and the money you saved on the prints starts to disappear. I originally got the idea for these frames from Navy Bean Lane. I loved the way her black and white prints looked paired with the wood frames. The frames are made of of stain grade pine 1×2’s and are ridiculously easy to make (and only $5.81 a piece). Cody started by cutting the wood the correct length by using our chop saw.

how to make cheap frames for engineering prints

As you can see he did 45 the corners to give it a more finished look. Next, he put the frames together by using our pneumatic nail gun*.

cheap 18x24 frame

And voila just like that the frames were done. Well almost……

I wanted the frames to have a rustic look as well as to match with some of the existing woodwork in the family room, so I choose to stain it using PolyShades Gloss in Mission Oak* which was left over from a previous project. It had the perfect amount of yellowness in it to match the rest of the woodwork. I applied two coats of the stain a couple hours apart using an old rag.

*These are affiliate links

large cheap frames

Even though the stain is gloss it actually came out in more of a satin finish which is perfect for the rustic look I am going for. Next, Cody attached the prints to the back of the frames using a staple gun.

frames for engineering prints

To ensure that the staples didn’t shoot through the paper he added small thin squares from left over particle board to each corner.

large wood frames

At this point you could easily attach picture hanging hardware to the back of the frames, but we’re cheap and lazy, so we opted to attach the frames to the wall directly with a nail gun. At least I don’t have to worry about them falling off the wall during an earthquake………

framing engineering prints

And here they are all hung. I cannot really express how happy I am with them. The wood tone is perfect and actually picks up on the goldenrod in the lamp shades. I also love how they frame the TV. Our goal with this wall was to downplay the TV as a focal point and these 3 frames in combination with our gorgeous Greek Key console table definitely help do that.

floral lamp shades and engineering prints Here’s a close-up of one of the frames. The way the wood grain comes through the stain really adds a touch of rustic elegance to the frames.

18x24 framed cheap

Total Cost:

Prints             5.37

1x2s                17.40

Total=            22.77  or 7.59 each
Pssst….. the family room is finally done! Family Room Reveal
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Updating a mirror with spray paint

Paint mirror ideas

I wanted a tall piece of art for either side of the fireplace and I thought a mirror along the left side might would be nice as it would bounce the sunlight from the windows around the room. Of course mirrors are expensive, especially when I wanted a super stylish mint colored one. Then one night while I should have been sleeping but instead was dreaming up more work for myself, I remembered that the girl’s bathroom upstairs had two tall and narrow mirrors in a silver finish.


painting bathroom mirrors

I was not a big fan of the metallic finish combined with the traditional molding. It just felt outdated and I knew that when we re-model this bathroom (someday….) that I would replace the mirrors, so I decided to re-purpose one of them for the fireplace by painting it mint myself. Here are the tools I used:

painting a mirror

First, up I cleaned the frame with a TSP substitute. This insures that you get any crud or oil off the surface so that the paint will adhere properly. Sometimes I skip this step, but since I had no idea what had been in contact with this mirror I figured better safe than sorry. And you can see the crud and loose paint that came off with a quick wipe.

clean mirror with tsp

Next, I prepped for spray painting by taping the outside of the mirror with masking tape then taping down newspaper to prevent and over spray from accumulating on the mirror. Then, I hit the whole frame with a coat of white spray primer.

aqua mirror

Once the primer dried (only about an hour or so unless it’s really humid), I put on two coats of the mint spray paint. I originally bought this spray paint for the chandelier that is hanging over the table in the kitchen, but I figured there was enough for both projects and it would help visually tie the two rooms together. Finding a mint colored spray paint was harder than I had anticipated but I finally found this one (Valspar Color Radiance in Flat La Fonda Mirage) at Lowe’s.

painting a mirror frame

The only two things you really need to know about spray paint it a) do it in a well ventilated area and b) light thin coats are best. And look at the dramatic change a few coats of spray paint can make:

mint mirror

I particularly love the matte finish of the paint which gives it almost a shabby chic feel. You can see in the picture below that the mint color of the mirror jives perfectly with the mint on the lampshade. The family room is one step closer to being complete!

mint mirror

It’s hard to believe we started here only a couple of weeks ago:

Fireplace before

DIY travel map tutorial

Personalized travel map

I’m excited to finally share this project with you. I made this DIY travel map as a Mother’s Day gift for my mom, so I had to wait to give it to her first before showing it off. My mom spent 20 years in the Navy before becoming a dedicated History teacher who takes her students around the world each summer, so I really wanted to memorialize all the places she has lived and visited. This project is really easy and can be customized for any person or family.

I made the print in MS PowerPoint. First I found a clip art of a world map I liked. It was originally orange and I was trying to match my mom’s color scheme of grey and red. To change the color of an image right click on it >Format Picture> Picture> Recolor. I used two different fonts. Batang comes standard with MS Office and I Love What You Do is available for free from Font Space. I added the hearts by going to Insert> Shapes> Basic shapes and drawing the heart to size. To change the heart color right click on heart>Format Shape> and Change Fill and Line Color.

DIY travel map

Here’s a close-up of the print when it was finished. The red hearts represent where my mom lived while the blue hearts represent places she has visited.

DIY travel map


I printed it onto card stock then framed it in a frame from Michael’s matted to 8×10. I love being able to give such a personal gift, and of course my mom loved it!

DIT travel map

11 Burlap projects for your home with Tutorials

burlap projects with tutorials Have you noticed all the burlap projects and decor showing up on Pinterest lately? Burlap has become popular for a variety of reasons. It’s rustic which is very chic right now. It also adds a lot of texture to any room room or table scape. Oh, and best of all it’s cheap! It’s starts at just 99 cents a yard on Amazon*. Burlap also comes in a variety of colors and textures. I like my burlap a little rugged so I usually buy it natural and undyed.  You can also buy burlap bags* or burlap ribbon* depending on the type of project you are working on.  Below are 3 burlap projects I’ve completed recently for my home well as links to some of my favorite burlap projects from other amazing blogs. Click on the pictures to get to the tutorials. Enjoy!

*These are affiliate links. Any purchase you make helps support Simply Swider. Thank you.

How I used burlap in our house!

I covered an old picture mat with burlap and nailed it to a frame made out of reclaimed pallet wood with decorative nails.

DIY pallet and burlap frame tutorial

I made two of these ruffled lampshades out of ivory burlap for the lamps that sit on the credenza in our living room.

burlap projects ruffled burlap lampshade

I made 3 of these stenciled burlap pictures which hang above the credenza in our living room. Each one depicts an important date for our family along with a a picture that symbolized why that date is important to us.

burlap projects stenciled date burlap art

This frame hangs in our hall bathroom and was made out of pallets and burlap.

Here are some of my favorite burlap projects from Pinterest!

I just adore this Spring Burlap Wreath which incorporates the house numbers and flowers.

This adorable Framed burlap earring holder incorporates two of my other favorite things: teal and monograms.

These quick and easy burlap curtains will add texture to any room.

These burlap bunny ear napkin rings will add whimsy to any Easter table.

Burlap roses can be added to almost any home decor to instantly add rustic charm.

This burlap tote just screams Spring especially paired with blue chevron.

Ruffles and Burlap on a table runner. Oh la la!

And if a tablecloth is more your style here is a ruffled burlap floor length tablecloth.

I hope you’ve been inspired to start your own burlap projects. What projects have you already completed using burlap? Do you have any already pinned that you’re hoping to start soon?

Reclaimed wood moose head tutorial


pallet moosehead tutorial

Update 1/3/2014: Our moose head now sits center stage in our family room on the recently refurbished fireplace in our new house

I am so excited about this project! It combines two hot items in home decor right now: a moose head and reclaimed wood! I was actually inspired by a Pottery Barn Kids catalog that had a reclaimed wood whale featured on one of its walls. It wasn’t even an item for sale, just a piece of art staged in the room. I fell in love with it the second I saw it, but I knew a whale wouldn’t really fit into our decor. It only took me a second to decide what shape we should use: a moose head! We’ve joked about getting a moose head for months now. Not a real one, but one of the tons of artistic renditions done of them. Even Cody was super excited when I presented this project to him (which was great since he did most of the work). Oh, and did I mention that this project was FREE? Yep, it cost us zip, zero, nada.  We had all the materials already on hand for this project although honestly it doesn’t take much. We used some of the wood left over from the pallet picture frame project as well as some additional pieces of scrap wood lying around the garage. This project can be done using new wood as well; you’ll just have to age it first. Here’s my quick and easy tutorial for how I aged some of the pieces in this project using paint and stain:

How to age wood with paint and stain

For starters you need to find an image you want to replicate. If you are artistic you could always draw your own. I simply Googled “moose head” in Google Images and searched until I found one I thought would make a good silhouette. It was surprisingly harder than I thought to find one I liked , but I finally did.  Next, Cody laid out the wood in a pattern that gave us the most variance in the wood tones. You can see the image I selected below. Cody decided to free hand the image to the wood using a pencil. If you are artistically challenged such as myself you could always have the image blown-up at Office Depot, cut it out, than trace it on to the wood.

pallet moosehead tutorial

Before you start cutting the wood you’ll need to attach them together with vertical pieces on the back side of the wood. Cody used a jig saw to cut out the pattern. Here’s what it looked like half way through:

pallet moosehead tutorial

You may have to continue to brace the pieces together by adding extra pieces to the back depending on your pattern. You can see below that the back of our moose head is not a pretty sight. Luckily, no one will see that side.

diy pallet moosehead

Cody stapled a piece of left over picture hanging wire onto the back of the moose head in order to attach it to the wall.

DIY pallet moosehead

And that’s it! It was actually a really easy project. I am so in love with it, and it’s actually surprising lighter than it looks. We originally hung it on a bare wall in the Living Room behind our front door but because we usually keep our front door open we decided it needed a more prominent spot in the house, so it’s moving into the dining room where it can be seen the second you walk into the house!

DIY pallet moosehead

Pssst….. the family room is finally done! Family Room Reveal

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Pallet and Burlap picture frame

DIY pallet and burlap frame tutorial I am totally excited to finally share this project with you! I saw this gorgeous reclaimed wood and burlap extra-large picture frame from Iron Accents and instantly fell in love. The problem: It’s $110! The solution: pallets and burlap I had lying around from other projects.  I decided to hang this frame in our hall bathroom. I felt like it needed one more piece of art after we completed the antiqued washroom banner and it fit the rustic vintage theme of the room.  I also had this picture of the girls I had taken a while ago in the tub that I loved. This seemed like the perfect way to utilize it.  This entire project cost me $3.38 ($1.50 for the 8 x 10 print from Target and $1.88 for the decorative nails from Hancock Fabrics). I started this project by prepping the wood. Even though we saved these pallets from a dumpster they were practically new blonde wood and I really wanted to replicate the aged and varied wood tones from the original frame. If you are also starting with blonde wood here is a tutorial I made on how I aged the wood with paint and stain: How to age wood with paint and stain

While I was waiting for the wood to dry I made my picture mat. I had this matting already lying around. I probably took it out of an old frame and it was pretty beat up. The burlap was left over from the burlap art I had made previously for the living room. All I did was cut the burlap slightly larger than the mat and hot glue the outside edges to the back of the mat. Once I was done with the outside edge I used a utility knife to cut out the inside of the mat, then I glued that down as well.

burlap picture mat

Here’s what it looked like when I was all done. I was actually pretty nervous about how the burlap mat would work but it turned out to be super easy. burlap picture matting

Next, I laid out the wood to get the look I was going for. I used the mat as a template to decide how big I wanted the frame to be.

pallet and burlap frame

Using a chop saw Cody trimmed all the wood to be the same length.

pallet and burlap frame

We decided to create a border for the frame using more scrap pallet wood, which was a different wood tone. This allowed us to nail all the different pieces into the top and bottom edge of the interior portion of the frame and ensure that their were no nails showing on the front. We used a pneumatic brad nail gun attached to our air compressor to secure the border to the wood. pallet and burlap frame

Next, I secured the print to the matting simply taping it down with masking tape. pallet and burlap frame

To give the frame so extra flair we decided to attach the mat to the frame using decorative nails (this is an affiliate but is also the exact nails I used) which you can pick up at most craft stores or online.  These came from the upholstery section of Hancock Fabric and are 3/4″ square nails. They also make it easy to switch out the picture in the future as all you have to do it pull out the nails. pallet and burlap frame

After marking where we wanted the nails to go with a black marker we simply hammered them in using a rubber mallet.

pallet and burlap frame

And here it is with the matting all attached!

pallet and burlap frame

To hang the picture Cody attached 2 screws to the back of the frame and connected them with picture hanging wire we had left over from a store bought frame that came with extra. You can also see how ugly the back of the frame is compared to the front.

pallet and burlap frame

And here is the finished product hung up in the bathroom! I love how rustic and yet simple it is.

pallet and burlap frame You can see how the entire cottage bathroom makeover turned out here. And don’t forget to check out the rustic moose head we made from the remaining pallet wood.


Wood (pallet, reclaimed, or new)


8×10 mat

8x 10 prints


masking tape

3/4″ decorative nails– Affiliate


picture hanging wire

hot glue sticks


chop saw

hot glue gun

nail or brad gun


power screw driver

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