Thursday, April 12, 2018

DIY Marble Look Serving Tray

You all know how I am all about "using what I have".

Well...when we redid the bathroom, there were a few of these pretty 12 x 18 tiles left.

I knew that one would make a lovely oversized serving tray.

I checked out retail stores to get some ideas.  These looked the way I envisioned the tray I wanted.

As you can see....the prices were all over the place.  But I figured I could make one cheaper than even the least expensive one....and....I already had the tile just sitting around.

I looked for tutorials for doing a project like this.
House of Wood 
has a nice one......pretty much exactly what I wanted to do.

I bought some drawer pulls at Home Depot.....I got out the tile....and then I made my FIRST mistake!

I asked Mr. S for advice about the type of glue that would be best and if we had something around home that would work.

Mr. S:  Why wouldn't you actually drill the holes and screw the handles in?
Me: Sounds like a lot of work and I don't really want this to be a big deal.
Mr. S: I would be happy to do it.
Me: Go For It!

The tray is absolutely beautiful!

Now....for the other side of the story!

Drilling porcelain tile is a b***h!
It took more than a couple of hours and several destroyed drill bits to finish the project! almost free tray actually ended up costing as much as the least expensive retail one!!!

Oh quote Mr. S:  "at least now you don't have to worry about the handles coming off when you are carrying something."

And....I have a really pretty tray and one less leftover tile!

 Have A Great Day!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Dollar Store Spring Wreath

Did you know....that florists no longer call "fake flowers" fake or silk or artificial?
These flowers now have the much more elegant title of "Permanent Botanicals"!
Sounds so fancy.....
You know how much I love real flowers....but sometimes the permanent botanical route makes sense.

Here is my the wreath on the Sweetwater front door!

 The wreath itself is the Trader Joe Boxwood wreath that I bought for Christmas.
I used the information from Julie Blanner's lifestyle blog to preserve it.  You can read about that here:
I am amazed at how well it has lasted.

The flowers are from the dollar store!

Yup....$4 for enough flowers to fill the wreath nicely!

I use "permanent botanicals" from the dollar store a lot.

Here I used little white blossoms and yellow carnations with some preserved magnolia leaves.
I think the little bird nest is a nice touch.
And...seriously...I wish I could keep the bunnies caged up like this to "preserve" my tulips.  PUN intended!

I had some time to do a little looking around for good looking permanent botanicals:
Take a look at this site: Shop Silk Flowers Online at Afloral.comThe flowers are really great looking...definitely not dollar store!
I loved the tutorial for the DIY peony arrangement.  It even tells you how to make the acrylic "water".

In doing the "research" I found a couple of really simple tricks to use is you want your artificials to look more real:

  1. If you don't have the time or inclination to make the acrylic water....put some real water in the vase. (duh)
  2. Don't leave the artificial arrangement in the same spot for more than a couple of weeks...or about the same time as real flowers would last.
  3. Mix flower blooms that are artificial with foliage and fill greens that are real.
  4. Use flowers that are familiar.....and that would maybe come in a florist bouquet.
  5. Take the price stickers off :)

I will leave you with some inspiration!

 Lilacs are so hard to keep looking fresh.  These would stay pretty a long time. I would miss the scent though.

These tulips might serve me well when the bunnies do their damage !
Well...wishing you a day filled with flowers whether they are "permanent" or natural!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

In Praise of Expertise Part 2...Almost Done!

The bathroom reno is nearly finished.
All that is left to do is choose window treatments and accessories.
When I walk in.....I just look around and smile!
While My last post was all about using experts to help choose the components for our bathroom remodel.....
This one will be in praise of the people who actually made it happen.

 I almost feel guilty sharing all about the new space since we really didn't DO anything ourselves. 

It kinda feels like I am doing one of those...."look at me" deals.

So this post will NOT JUST be about how gorgeous the new space is.
It will be about....why it made sense to (gasp) spend money to get this done!

  1. Remember that Mr. S just had his ankle replaced less than 6 months ago?  Can you even imagine him trying to go up and down the steps as many times as would have been necessary.
  2. Our contractor did an amazing job of scheduling.  Because all of the people that he worked with had a relationship with him, they came when he asked and made adjustments when necessary. THAT SAVED TIME!
  3. We were able to use the discounts available to the contractor for many of the components of the project. THAT SAVED $$$$ !
  4. There were many things that needed specialized skills that we would probably have had to hire done anyway!

ANYWAY.....during the month long process....I don't think a day went by that we didn't say "THANK GOODNESS we are NOT doing this ourselves.  

So in good old renovation show's time for the big reveal!

Ahhh....the freestanding soaking tub that I have been dreaming about since we started is every bit as beautiful as I imagined! Taking out the old surround for the whirlpool tub that I never used freed up an enormous amount of room for the shower.  There used to be a soffitt over the shower.  Removing that makes the shower seem even bigger.  The custom glass is seamless.  The "experts" were able to install this in less than 2 hours.  

We found these tilting mirrors on Amazon of all places.  They look just like the ones in the lighting store where we found these great fixtures.  When the contractor actually "complained" about how difficult the installation of the mirrors was....I knew that a DIY session would have been extremely painful for Mr. S.!

I love the squared off under mount sinks.  The glossy white counter is a dream compared to the old molded "marble" that it replaces.  This really big vanity was another reason we were glad we had experts to rely is 78 inches long and came in one big piece.  Imagine us trying to haul that fro,

We still need to find window treatments and some towel bars and other stuff...and I imagine there will be some DIY with those things....

Less than a month total time....
Little or no hassles..... 
It really was worth the expense to save time, headaches, trips to Home Depot, arguments etc. etc. etc.

But the REAL proof of value....
The Sweetwater Grandboy gives his seal of approval!

Have A Wonderful Day!

Friday, March 16, 2018

March Madness: Bunnies and Leprechauns!

March Madness is here.

That means we are doing the schizophrenic switching between channels to catch all the action of basketball games between teams that we don't really care about. Alas our Gopher men had the worst year ever....but cheers to the women who play today.

March Madness is also about some schizophrenic decor issues....
you know....the clash between the Easter Bunnies and the St. Patrick's Day Leprechauns. 

Sadly, those Leprechauns are always out of  the race in the first round!
The Easter Bunnies are still in the race for the next rounds of play!
But for now, I thought you would like to see the highlights of the decor for both teams.

Team Leprechaun!
The components:
A print of The river dyed green in Chicago.
Copper accents with a Shamrock plant in one.
Some Celtic looking plaques.
A collage of photos from our trip this fall.
The coolest rock ever.....that looks so much like a potato that you could wrap it in foil and fool someone....not that I would ever do such a thing.

Team Bunnies!

 This little Dedham art pottery bunny sits happily in front of a framed page from a calendar.  You gotta love that floppy eared fellow.

On the mantel, there is another framed bunny along with the garden sculptures and some golden eggs for fun.  The vase and candle stick components will stay after the bunnies go back into storage.

 All the little stuffed animals the kids have gotten over the years come out.  The Grandboy and Grandgirl are sure to enjoy them this year.

There you have my subtle decor for both Team Leprechaun and Team Bunny.
Hope you enjoyed....

Now off to watch more Basketball....but before I go....

Here is my DIY tip of the day: Check out this website: CANVA.
When you sign up FOR FREE, you have access to create fabulous designs that you can download.  I used it to create this photo collage.  So fun!  Just imagine the possibilities!

 May the luck of the Irish be with you!

Have a Great Day!


Friday, March 2, 2018

When NOT to DIY....In Praise of Expertise! Part One!

Mr. S and I are confirmed DIYers.
Even if it means many trips to the hardware store....and lots of trial and error....we LOVE the feeling of a project well done by US!

A few months ago, we decided that our master bathroom had gotten pretty shabby after 25+ years of hard use.

 It wasn't AWFUL...just outdated with a few spots that were down right worn out!

We considered the option of doing a lot of the work ourselves.
We looked at the scope of the project.
We knew that Mr. S was still in recovery mode from his ankle replacement.
Even though we knew it would be more expensive to let the
experts take care of it...we GULP...decided that the DIY route wasn't in the cards for this remodel.

So....we hired a general contractor and put together a plan and got an estimate for the work.
The sticker shock was a bit hard to take....and then we thought about what was involved and decided to go for it!

It turns out that in this case....spending the money and relying on the experts was not just probably was a pretty cost effective way to go.

Let me tell you why!

The first set of experts that we used were the people at the Tile Shop.
We went in....told them what our vision was.....and let them lead the way!

In less than an hour.....with Mr. S wheeling his way through the shop on his tricycle...we were able to choose floor tile, shower tile and all the additional pieces.  The advice we got was superb.  Our "expert" listened to our "wants" for elegant mid-range tile that would stand the test of time.

 Then it was off to find the fixtures.....
We started at the logical spots Home Depot and Menards.  That was not the way to go!  While there were many was too overwhelming to put the package together.  Especially since I had my heart set on a free standing tub that was a good quality.  Many hours of on-line shopping and wandering around in a fog at the big box store....we headed to Fergusens.  This is a bath and kitchen source with a great show room.  We made an appointment for a consultation.  We shared our budget and design parameters and....Two hours later.....our salesperson guided us through the process and we had the whole kit and caboodle selected.  We got EXPERT advice and everything matches!  He even found the perfect free standing tub for way less money than I thought it would cost.

Lessons learned:
  • Do your you can tell those experts what you do like and what you don't like. This does mean lots of looking on line to see what is available.  That time pays off when you are actually making selections.
  • Set a price range and be willing to tell your expert what it is.  There is no shame in sticking to a budget.....but....if you fall in love with something see if there is something less expensive to be found.
  • Don't obsess....the choices were overwhelming....but really...once we decided on the gray marble look and the subway tile we could really shop price because the high end and low end aren't all that different.  As long as you talk can find a mid-range product that will work.  Making the decision to stay with one tile source and one fixture source saved us not just time....but money.
  • Listen and Learn...we found out so many things from these people about all the little things that were necessary and available...and how to save money as well.  If we had set out to do this without the advice we would have been making lots of trips to fix our mistakes.  Instead...we were able to have everything ready for the project to begin and stay on schedule.
Speaking of next post will take you through the actual construction and demonstrate how using experts made sense for us!
Would you believe that the whole project started a month ago and we are only waiting for the vanity counter to be completely finished?

 I can't wait to show you how it turned out!
Stay tuned....

Have A Great Day!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Round Up of Inexpensive Wall Art

 Finding great looking things to hang on the walls without spending a fortune can be a challenge.

But NOT having great looking things to hang on the walls would be just SAD!

When we travel, I love to shop in all the fancy art galleries we see.
I should clarify the word "SHOP" and change it to "LOOK".
Oh, how I would love to rationalize spending thousands of dollars on unique pieces of art!
Alas, I just can't do it!
My thrifty alter ego reminds me that there are other ways to have pretty things on the wall.

I decided to do a post about the many ways and many places you to find great "art" for you walls.
Since I have been doing this for more years than I want to tell you....I will take you on a "art walk" around Sweetwater as well as share some great ideas from some other thrifty folks.

First though.....about frames and framing.
One of the best sources for frames is the thrift store. 
Look past the questionable "ART" in the frame and imagine it with your own.
A little spray paint or touch up with a sharpie can make a battered frame look new.
If you don't have access to a mat cutter, look for standard sized frames.

One great source for art is those vacation photos you take.
This is an enlargement of the view from our hotel on our trip to Hong Kong.  I used a photo effect program for my iPad called Waterlogue to create the watercolor effect. 

Look for coffee table sized art books at the thrift store.  You won't feel bad tearing out a page that has a fabulous image.  Adding an oversized mat allows the image to look larger than it actually is.

Note cards or greeting cards with a theme can make a nice tryptic. I have to confess that since I wanted the images from the purchased cards to be bigger, I scanned and printed them larger.  It probably doesn't exactly follow copyright law...but I did buy them and didn't make them that much bigger.

Wrapping paper come in many beautiful patterns.  A lot of boutiques sell single poster sized sheets of paper.  This chocolate themed paper will be perfect as subtle valentine decor...althought the "real" thing might be tastier.

Framing a tea towel is a similar way to have a large image on the wall.  Keep an eye open for these when you are boutique shopping. Here are two different towels switched out for the season with new mats in the same frame.

Those of you who are frequent readers know my obsession with fabric.  Using a fabulous print as a wrap around a frame is a simple way to create large interesting pieces of art.

I did a little looking for some other sources for interesting and inexpensive art.

Check out  
There are really wonderful options for personalized art here.

Mr. S got this print as a gift from the Sweetwater Daughter.

She ordered it from this site. 

You just type in the place and a cool looking graphic is generated.

I think I might do one for our current location in blue.

Here are a couple of other people's blog posts about "cheap" art! 

So....anyway....that is my roundup of ways to have "luxury" art on a budget.
What are your suggestions?
I would love to hear from you!