Adventures in Crafting: Home Décor Edition

Despite my love of all things pretty, home décor is one area of visual design I’m terrible at. It’s not so much my taste, but I find the process of decorating so overwhelming that I’ve become adept at ignoring my surroundings when I don’t know what to do with them.

The orange wallCase in point: Our last home had a hideous hunter-orange accent wall in the living room, and it stayed that way for five years because every time I tried to imagine something different for the space, my brain folded in on itself like a dysfunctional camp chair. In fact, the only painting we did while we lived there was Ellie’s room (a five-person effort that took months) and our teeny downstairs half bath (and only because there was water damage, and I still had a meltdown mid-project).

Thankfully most of this house was painted when we moved in two years ago, but we haven’t done much beyond that. I put up a few pictures, but most of the walls remain bare, and there’s one wall in the living room that’s particularly sad. It’s in an awkward place, partly behind the wood stove on the left and the mounted TV on the right. It’s large, and all our furniture is oriented toward it, so this wall is the focal point of the room, and it’s blank.

It didn’t help that, while in Boston, I visited Ikea for the first time. If there’s anything that can make you feel sad about your current living situation, it’s a trip to a perfectly curated furniture store. I came away with a few bits and bobs, but mostly what I got out of the trip was determination to do something about the living room to make it cozier and give it some personality.

You wouldn’t know it, but that big empty space in the background is a living room.

First step: Figure out what to do about the damn wall. Pinterest to the rescue! I’d seen the wire + clips method of hanging photos before and decided to improvise using clothespins and hemp rope.

For the technical bits, I measured from the top of the sheetrock, starting about eight inches down and spacing the strings eight inches apart. I drilled eye hooks into the wall on each side, with the hemp rope tied tightly between them. The rope still drapes a bit, and I staggered the lengths to give it a less rigid feel. As much as I love modern design, our house doesn’t look the part.

I don’t have a before and after picture, because that would require foresight and planning, neither of which factored into this project. Just imagine this wall with absolutely nothing on it, and you get the idea.


The final result is a mishmash of family snapshots, postcards, and art prints and photographs. For accents, I made some flower medallions out of scrapbook paper, collages, old keys, and bottle caps from my collection. I eventually replaced the larger standard clothespins with miniature versions, so they’re less intrusive and add less weight to the strings.

The beauty of this is the ability to change out the photos when we (read: I) inevitably get bored.


I also put down a new rug. It’s bold. It’s bright. It has loads of personality! I was worried it would be too much, both in size and pattern, but it fits perfectly. The dog has already thrown up on it, but his opinion doesn’t count.


Add some throw pillows, repurpose the kids’ toy box as a coffee table, and throw a sheet over the run-down love seat, and voila! We have a brand new living room for basically the cost of the rug and a couple pillows.

Next up: The stairwell wall gallery.


We had a great time in the city last week, seeing the sights and hanging out with my brother and his fiancée.

Unfortunately there was no Comic Con for us, as Gillian Anderson canceled her appearance, but we had plenty to do; the aquarium and the science museum were big hits with Ellie, who demanded “more science!” Cheap tickets from a good friend meant we were able to stretch our budget, and the kids saw their first IMAX show.

But their favorite part of the trip was the Legoland Discovery Center. Most of the attractions are for little kids, but it was worth the price of admission just to see the city of Boston made entirely of LEGOs. Gwen plopped herself down in front of a bucket of bricks and basically didn’t budge until one of us prompted her to look around, while Ellie ran from activity to activity with glee.

We had lunch with E, the girls’ former sitter, and they were so excited to see her I thought they’d try to stow away in her car when we said goodbye. It’s amazing how a person can be part of your life for such a relatively small amount of time, but have such a great impact. I keep coming back to how lucky we are — and how lucky the girls are — to have the village we’ve had.

I only wish so many of our family and friends didn’t live a 7+ hour drive away. Ahh, the price we pay for living in the boonies. 😉

Repurposed Drawer Shelf

Repurposed Drawer Shelf / Shadowbox

I’m on a bit of a home décor binge lately; I fear we’ve reached “peak Pinterest”. For example, yesterday I put together and installed this accent piece for the bathroom.

I have boxes full of random junk I’ve picked up over the years, with the intention of using things as props for photo shoots. The other day I went up to my future office to look for some picture frames and found this old drawer I’d bought at the Big Chicken Barn; it was originally home to a bunch of glass bottles, but this time the drawer itself caught my attention.

I added the petals design on the back with scrapbook paper, then installed eye hooks on each side to mount the box with picture-hanging wire. The decorations are various odds and ends from my collection. The tag on the bottom is the original price tag that came with the drawer; it seemed to fit the aesthetic. :)

I’m on vacation, so there are more projects forthcoming!

A letter for Dad

Dear Dad,

It’s been three months since you passed away, and I’m missing you harder than usual lately. Part of me can’t believe you’re really gone, though enough has changed in your absence that there’s no other explanation.

We had a “happy hour” in your honor at the summer party; you showed up right on time, in the form of a short-lived thunderstorm that drove us all into clusters under the tents. We sang Three Little Birds and Wild Thing. I could picture you playing the guitar alongside our friends and family, but I missed your voice singing along.

The other night, I dreamt I saw your ghost. You walked past the front window and vanished at the porch. It was more comforting to think of you that way, as a spirit; the dreams where you appear alive are harder to process the next morning. So close, and yet not close at all. Sometimes you’re still sick in the dreams, sometimes you’re not. I wake up greedy, wishing I could have more time with you.

Every time I look at the stars, I think of you. Venus and Jupiter appeared next to each other in the sky last month, and I thought you would have loved to see that. It’s the kind of thing that would have brought you outside into the night to look up, held in rapt attention. You were always fascinated by the sky.

I know this sounds morose, but we’re doing OK. You left behind a strong family. We’re not wallowing. Thanks to you, I’ve realized how little time we have, and it’s inspired me to keep going, to do all the things I want to do before it’s too late.

It catches up to me at night, though, and that’s when I write these letters to you in my head. This time, I thought I’d write one for real.

Love you,