tour the dining room, or, a redo for the cost of a can of paint, so stay with me here

I haven't forgotten the dining room. I really haven't! Do you remember how it looked before? Let's have a quick refresher…



dark, black, hard to photograph, not awful, but hardly used, too formal.

And then I shared some tear sheets I'd been collecting.

And here's what happened with all that, once it got into my brain and stewed a while.





I have once again proven to myself that the Swedish really get it right in my book (all that white and bright on Camilla and Elizabeth's homepage there really illustrate it well).

Like Sweden, the pacific northwest is notoriously dark throughout the winter months, and it can really save the psyche to keep that in mind when decorating. As much as Peter and I are fans of color, lightness makes all the difference in this room. Its gets weird Eastern light blasting through those french doors until about noon, then it just goes dark. But now it feels much airier, truly like a deep breath.

The biggest change in creating that feeling in here is the paint color. About a year ago, my friend Neicy called my attention to what has since become my favorite wall color, Ben Moore's Vanilla Milkshake (not to be confused with Vanilla Ice Cream, also a color they carry) . It is a white with a lot of interest, depth, and a cast that really changes with the light, and it contrasts nicely with the chestnut colored box beams on the ceiling of this room (which you can't see well in these photos). It transformed the walls of our family room, and now in here. (Perhaps in the new year it will transform our hallway, I'm really done with the beige.)

Once again, before,



The chairs and table are IKEA. Going into this project, I didn't want heirloom anything for this room. I really hoped that this room would be used, it has always felt quite forgotten. I wanted it to feel happy. So I went for furniture that felt light, useable, and let's face it, IKEA fit within our budget. The table is long and extendable (I went for a long size, but in fact, I should have gone for an even longer one, I keep it fully extended). The chairs have an interesting shape, and a white seat. I love them. They feel modern and simple, and I realize this is where our tastes are heading. They also go nicely with the end chairs, which are upholstered ones Peter bought in St. Louis (and why I married him). In the top photo, we had already changed our overhead light fixture to a softer light, more interesting shape. The one before cast really unflattering, clinical light that would not dim (another reason we never ate in here).


The tiny original painting of Montemartre was one I bought from a street artist in Paris. The bottom piece is of the Wet Mountains in Colorado. The beautiful glowbowls were made by Diana Fayt. The soft twig was made by Stephanie.

The Liberty of London curtains I'd made years ago (which were extremely faded) were switched out for a simple white coarse weave cotton with a textured black stripe going through it (again, thank you IKEA), also helping to lighten the space visually. The artwork in the room all has significant meaning to us. And those porcelain glowbowls look amazing and etherial at night.


We dug through the stacks and stacks of artwork we had in the basement and pulled out all new pieces for the walls. These two watercolors were done by Peter's grandmother Marjorie. I had them rematted in acid free materials (sadly, the edges of them of are crumbling) and we're both so happy we can now look at them every day.


My embroidery hoop "installation" remained, we all like it. The lampshades were switched from red ones to white ones, huge difference in the amount of light we get from them now.


I made new cushions for the bench (the before here) from those amazing old curtains I found secondhand a few months ago.


I had plans to repaint the sideboard a bright color, but to be honest we all liked it much better as it is after we lightened the room up, so I've decided to live with it for now (with new knobs from Anthropologie). That stool, above on the left, is the same one from the holiday photo shoot and a large plant will live on it soon, once I decide on one.

Now. The big clincher, that I hadn't realized until the redo was complete? All of this costs me the price of-

1 can of paint- $50

1 roll of painter's tape- $5.00

Thrifted fabric for cushions- $5.00

That's it.

I'm not kidding.

You see, we sold the original table on craiglist for a decent price, which in turn created my IKEA budget. Granted, we didn't change many things that are in here, but I accomplished my goal of a family-friendly, airy space. We now eat dinner in here every night. Emma and I craft in here, it doesn't feel like wasted space any more.

Little changes that made a big impact. I keep saying it, but it doesn't have to cost a fortune to design and create your home with intention.

A few of the many books that inspired me:

Simply Scandanavian

Contemporary Country

Lotta Jansdotter Handmade Living

Crafting a Meaningful Home

Now there's some goodness to add to your holiday wishlist.

Oh, and the tablerunner, more on that soon.

Thanks for reading this far!




Crocheted Granny Square Scarf

crochet scarf

I really have absolutely zero business writing out any kind of crochet tutorial, but this is such a simple project for anyone with a little experience, why not? If you can do some simple crochet stitches, hopefully, you will be able to understand. (I’m actually letting other, more experienced crocheters do the explaining.)
I am still working on what will one day be my granny square blanket (all those granny squares are bordered with cream), I was feeling like I wanted to try out a different set of colors, and that’s when the idea for this came about. I played around with my usual blues (I’m so predictable that way, I know), and bordered them all with a deep charcoal gray yarn I have quite a bit of. The centers of all the granny squares were mixed configurations of a yellow and an ochre yarn, they each take turns being the center of the circle. I decided I really wanted to create a scarf of some kind for myself.
The scarf I made is just pairs of the granny squares, lined up beside each other and sewn together, but I left the space between one of the pairs unsewn, like below.
That way, I could slip the other side of the scarf inside the space to cozy it up around my neck.
crocheted scarf
I tried about 50 different shots of me wearing this scarf and none really showed it well, so you will have to settle for it on the table instead. Here’s how I made it, in case anyone would like to try it.
Yarn in several colors. I used 5 colors of Cascade 220– an incredible color assortment and I love crocheting and knitting with it. (I used 2 blues, a yellow, an ochre shade, and a dark charcoal.)
Crochet hook (for my yarn I used H/5.0mm)
Yarn needle or tapestry needle for weaving in the yarn ends
*An updated netflix movie queue (optional, but recommended)
An audiobook you’ve been dying to listen to
To Make:
*Start up your first Netflix movie.
I wrote up a tutorial to create the granny squares which you can find here. There are a thousand different ways to make a granny square, this is only one. You will need approximately 20 granny squares, but gauge the length as you’re going along, you may want yours longer or shorter.
*Start up your next movie.
*To attach the squares together, I was taught to sew the squares together with a tapestry needle, but I wasn’t happy with how my stitches were looking (sloppy), so I did some searching around online and found this tutorial from Lucy, which really clicked for me. Do whatever works for you. I attached all of my squares together using this Lucy’s method, attaching the pairs together first, then attaching the pairs to each other (keep track of the pair you would want to keep open to feed the scarf through and don’t connect those together). The pair I kept open was the second pair on the left side of the scarf (right side facing you).
*I worked in my yarn ends at this point, they were becoming a distraction.
*I would suggest switching to an audiobook at this point, prior to the next step.
*To create a nice border around the entire scarf, I did a scalloped or shell edging, following this tutorial.
*I blocked my scarf when it was completed.  You can choose to block or not to block. I block when I want the stitches to look fuller and more even. Plus it creates a more defined shape to the piece.
And that’s really it. Are you confused enough? Should I have added wine to the materials list?
Oh dear.

Halloween DIY Ideas

Decorating with some favorite Halloween DIY’s for the season!
Halloween dishes
Halloween Decor Detail

Thrifted dishes with waterslide decals.

Spray Painted Sinister Halloween Ceramics

Spray painted ceramics is an easy, very fun DIY project. (Instructions for both of these projects- and more- can be found in my book, Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects into Stuff You Love.)

I surprised even myself when I jumped into decorating for Halloween as soon as the calendar said October, but I did. I guess doing these projects has warmed me up to the whole idea of Halloween. (Plus, its another reason to rearrange things around here, you know?) I’ve been keeping a few of the completed projects in orange bins down in our basement so that I could easily find them. I still need to put up the black ivy and spider web for the front yard…the kids are insisting.
Halloween Decor Nancy Drews
I pulled out a few Nancy Drews with sinister titles for the living room side tables.
I am currently hunkered down and working on Holiday DIY projects and having some fun. I don’t know why I still get surprised at what can be made with humble thrift store items, but I do. The fun is in the transformation!
Halloween Day of the Dead Couple
Little do my kids know, but this weekend I’m taking them to a Christmas tree farm for photoshoot props.
Cause that’s how we roll around here….

Stacks of Books

If anyone is looking for kid’s chapter books at Seattle Goodwill stores, I must apologize now, because I think the kids and I cleaned house around town yesterday. I told them they could have any chapter book they wanted, so “go get to shopping!”. (We are on Spring Break, and I insisted everyone have an ample supply of books to lose themselves in.) As a mom, isn’t it the best when we get to say a resounding “yes!”?

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