Dining Room - Before & After

It is reflection time again. I have shied away from sharing a before and after of my dining room because it is incomplete in my eyes. I still need some window treatments, wall hangings, a rug perhaps. But I am sick of waiting, and I want to share it with you because it is my happy place. Seriously, I sometimes just sit in my front room and stare at the dining room because it is so pretty and peaceful. 

The before pic is actually from our house's listing before we bought it back in September, and the furniture you see belonged to the former owner. We put down the hardwood before we moved in along with some taller baseboards, and I also seized the opportunity to paint under the chair rail while we were stripped down to subfloors. There is nothing that is less me than a warm toned red, and I knew it had to go even before I had any kind of vision for this room.

The walls were painted with Sherwin-Williams Hazel in late fall, and we installed the light from Menards shortly after. I inherited the main pieces for this room early this year and eventually painted the table and hutch which you might have seen before if you have been visiting Pretty Distressed for a while now. Most of the decor in the room along with the two end chairs are from HomeGoods, another happy place of mine.

While I love HGTV, there is no instant gratification in a real life makeover. I work on things as time and budget allows. I hope you, too, can take the time to enjoy your space where it is and not get hung up on where you want it to be some day. My dining room journey is not over, but I am still getting a lot of joy out of how far it has come. To be continued...

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Pin-spired: DIY Country Chic Window Treatments

branch curtain rod

Are you a Pinterest addict like me? I love that there is a simple place to go for inspiration and store it all in neat little categories. This weekend, I finally turned one of those pins into reality, and I am beyond excited to be sharing it with you today.

This project was "pin"-spired by Jennifer over at Town and Country Living. I am a little bit obsessed with burlap. I love its natural, earthy color and the relaxed, country vibe it gives off. I really loved the idea of pairing it with a tree branch for an extra punch of rustic charm.

I started this project by dumpster diving over at my brother-in-law's house after he had a long day of pruning his trees. I measured my window and searched the pile for a branch that was long enough and fairly straight. I had to cut off lots of excess branches, but I found two sticks that worked really well for me. If you don't have trees yourself or a relative or friend that you can use to "branch hunt," take a drive around town. Right now, people will be pruning to prepare for spring. If you see a pile of wood in someone's yard, go knock on their door and see if they are okay with you taking a stick or two off their hands.

branch curtain rod

You will need to debug your branches before you bring them in your home. I washed mine down with a bleach and water solution and a scrubbing brush. After a quick rinse with the hose, I let them dry in the hot sun for an hour or two. If your sticks are smaller, you can place them in a garbage bag and put a bug bomb in there. Most of us don't have a spare kiln or oven big enough to bake these suckers, so those are the best suggestions I have for killing any critters on them.

For hanging the sticks, I used some steel corner brackets. As I have told you before, my hubby likes to use his drill, so he helped me hang the branch. I do know how to use the drill, but doesn't he look so hot using power tools? After we figured out where the stick would be flush with the wall (your stick will not be straight so don't panic) we marked those two spots and hung the brackets there. Then, hubby drilled a screw straight into the stick. Leave enough space between the branch and the wall to weave the fabric through.

hand branch on wall

Per Jennifer's suggestion, I bought landscaping burlap to swag on my branch. I work with burlap a lot and normally get it from the craft or fabric store, but this is a lot lighter and flexible- perfect for swaging. I tied it off at one end and looped it around the branch a couple of times. Then, cut it to the length I wanted and tied off the other end. No sewing. Super simple. 

burlap curtain

burlap valance

burlap branch valance

I just love it, and cannot believe how cheap it was to make this project a reality. Thank you again to Jennifer at Town and Country Living for the "pin"-spiration. Does this "pin"-spire you to take a pin a make it come to life in your home?

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Cane You Dig It - Dining Set Sneak Peek

I know I promised you my last post on the kitchen today, but I thought I would take a break from all the kitchen fanfare and give you a sneak peek at my latest painting project.

I am currently in the process of refinishing my husband's grandma's dining table, chairs and hutch. This set just fell into my lap after a cousin needed to downsize. I have been working on this for a couple of weeks now. I am no where near being done, but I did manage to finish one of the chairs this weekend.

painted furniture

This is my first time painting with cane, and it went a lot easier than I was expecting. Again, I turned to Christen Bensten at Blue Egg Brown Nest for another great tutorial.

I chose an Oyster colored burlap to cover the chairs and my favorite Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White with some light distressing for the frame. I was inspired by this chair I saw at Hobby Lobby that was priced at $97.99. My fabric only cost me around $8 to cover all four chairs. 

My inspiration for my chair makeover.

I am going for an all white dining room, but I also saw some beautiful two toned cane chairs on Downtown Abbey recently. I think this would look really classy in a dining room or living room. If it is good enough for Lady Mary, it is good enough for me.

Downton Abbey airs on PBS.

I hope to be able to show you the completed dining set soon. Visit me on Thursday for the final kitchen post with all the details on the products and vendors used in our remodel.

Jute- There It Is

Happy New Year! While I believe New Year's resolutions are a waste of time, I do believe in goals, and my new goal for 2014 is to start blogging all the creating, crafting and decorating I have been doing around our home. So here is my first tutorial- the jute letter.

I am a huge believer in "upcycling" these days. Reimagining things you already have is a great way to save money and keep clutter out of your home and landfills. We moved into a new home in September, and I have completely changed gears from our last home's style. I recently repainted our entire first floor in shades of gray and really wanted a lot of white and and natural wood toned pieces to really pop against the cool shades. The problem- all my accent pieces and furniture are dark from my contemporary/Arts and Crafts phase. The answer- paint and burlap.

Jute Letter

Items needed:
Letter (wood, plastic, cardboard, etc.)
Hot glue gun
Glue sticks

I had this black "M" (for our last name), and I knew I wanted it to be the star of a collage in our family room. My initial thought was to paint it white, but I thought that was a little boring. I wanted it to have some texture and depth, so I decided to wrap it in jute.

If you don't have a letter, you can find them for pretty cheap at a craft store such as Hobby Lobby, Michaels, or JoAnne's. Since you will be covering it up you don't have to worry about buying one that is already finished. Mine just happened to be. Raw wood or a paper mache would actually work really well for this project.   

I bought a spool of 135ft and 4 ply natural jute at Hobby Lobby for around $3 after using a coupon. (Tip: Download the apps for all the major craft stores. Most of them have a 40% off coupon for a full price item. They also give you current sale price info.) Jute comes in different lengths and plies so pick the one that works best for your project. You can find jute in the string or yarn section of any craft store. I have heard they even sell jute at some hardware stores.

To start off, keep the wrapper on your spool and just find the loose end in the middle and pull. The string will pull out from the center and keep your spool of jute in tact which makes it a lot neater. Next, I covered up all the ends that I wouldn't be able to cover as I wrapped the jute around my letter. I cut pieces to length and glued them directly to the letter. 

Here is a picture of my letter after I covered all the non-wrappable (yes, I just made this word up) sides. Each letter will be different so make sure you plan before you start wrapping.

Now, it is time to wrap. Go across your letter with a single straight line of hot glue just thick enough for one string. Hot glue dries fast so only do one row at a time. Simply place your jute right on top of the letter and make sure to push it down well until it touches the row below. Flip it over, do the back side and keep repeating.

Keep wrapping...

 and wrapping...

You will use a LOT of glue so have plenty of sticks handy. I have heard there is a process where you can make a paste mixture and dip the jute in there. I opted for the glue gun because is seemed less messy and easier to control. I also wanted the jute to look raw. I thought the paste dip might make it look shellacked.

At some point you might need to make a cut and start a new row. Just make sure you hide your cuts on the back of the letter. Keep wrapping, and you will end up with this.  

I was really happy with how this turned out. It took a little longer than expected (around 4 hours) but I can be really meticulous about things like this. A normal person might be able to blow through it in a couple hours. I am going to hang mine on the wall as a part of a collage, but it would also work on the top of a dresser or shelf. Mine has holes to hang it. If your letter doesn't, you can drill your own or even glue a cute ribbon to the top to hang it. Be creative. Making a project your own is the best part of being crafty.


Stay tuned to see my finished wall collage starring my jute "M."