DIY: Narcissus Holiday Hostess Gift

I've been relatively obsessed with the idea of forcing flowers, from bulbs, this winter season. The thought of incorporating fresh blooms inside, while everything outside looks bleak, just seems like a no-brainer. Funny though, I've never actually tried it.

So, I did some basic research and decided on Narcissus, or more commonly knows, Paperwhites. Other seasonal options include amaryllis, but I liked the idea of the Paperwhites' cluster of smaller, more delicate flowers.

After putting together a large arrangement of my own, I realized others would probably enjoy receiving these too! So, here's a quick, thrifty and pretty gift that any  hostess would be thrilled to receive.

Easy DIY holiday hostess gift with paperwhite narcissus and dollar store finds

DIY: Narcissus Holiday Hostess Gift

Supplies:

  • Narcissus bulbs

  • Glass jar

  • Floral rocks or stones

  • Ribbon

  • Tag

Step 1:

Source Narcissus bulbs. If you are planning to make a few as gifts, like I did, a bulk order is typically the most economical. I found mine on Amazon, 10 for $17.95 (Prime).

Step 2:

Fill a glass jar or vessel with floral rocks or stones about half way.

I found both of these products at the Dollar Tree.

Easy DIY holiday hostess gift with paperwhite narcissus and dollar store finds
Easy DIY holiday hostess gift with paperwhite narcissus and dollar store finds

Step 3: Remove any loose, dried paper from each bulb. Place a bulb in the center of the vessel.

If the bulb has growth (the green/white part coming out the top in the pic below), this is the flower stem. Ensure this part is facing up, and the roots (which might not be visible) go down.

Easy DIY holiday hostess gift with paperwhite narcissus and dollar store finds
Easy DIY holiday hostess gift with paperwhite narcissus and dollar store finds

Step 4: Top with additional stones, so the bulb easily "stands" upright without assistance.

Easy DIY holiday hostess gift with paperwhite narcissus and dollar store finds

Step 5: Finish with decorative ribbon + "care tag".

On a small gift tag, include the following care instructions:

- Water only up to base of bulb. Soggy bulbs can easily rot.

- Keep bulbs away from direct sunlight, at first.

- Check rooting by gently tugging on bulb. Once roots are present, move bulbs to a sunny window.

-Check water daily. Bulbs in active growth dry out in 1-2 days.

Easy DIY holiday hostess gift with paperwhite narcissus and dollar store finds

All in, this DIY Holiday Hostess Gift cost me $5 each to make. Cheaper than a bottle of wine! Plus, the bottle of wine will go quick, while this gift will warm your friends home all season long.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below!

-Courtney

DIY: Customized Entry Door Mats

While I daydream about sweeping up construction dust for the very last time (ha ha, yeah right), I've been doing a few DIY projects of my own. 

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As we begin to organize and dig out our remaining boxed items, stored on the other side of the house, John and I realize, we have no way of differentiating all the other rooms we have yet to renovate.

In a regular house, identifying a room is done by location, but this is not a typical house. This is a once brothel, hacienda-style property, where all the rooms connect not only to one another, but to the center courtyard.

In a normal scenario, one would simply say, "down the hall, third door on the right." But at Content, which "hall" are you referring to? The interior hallway, or the exterior porch which each room can be accessed from.

What ends up happening is:

John: "Court, where's the box of camping supplies?"

Courtney: "In the first bedroom."

John: "First at the front or back of the house?"

Courtney: "At the front of the house. With the yellow paint. The one closest to the Great Room. You know which one I mean, right?"

John: "Never mind, I'll find it myself..."

Its not a serious problem, of course, but needlesstosay, an identification system was in order. 

As a full renovation of the west side of Content. will be on going for the next year (hoping to be completed by summer 2016!), we needed a simple identification system to run with. Then I remember our friend Megan. 

See, each year we do a DIY craft, holiday gift exchange amoungst us girls. Each lady crafts a gift, and then we do a swap (ala white elephant rules) where you can steal gifts back and forth. It's stressful, and fun, and hysterical. Always a great time, I highly recommend you host one!

So, Megan crafted a coir entry mat, in which she'd created text on the mat reading "Hi" as you were entering the door, and "Bye" as you exited. (Megan, correct me if I have this wrong... I think that was Holiday Craft Swap 2012, so time and mimosas may have fogged my memory). Anywho, it was adorable, and I always remembered it!

Fast forward to 2015, I'm at Ikea, and see these simple entry mats, and remember Megan's craft. I'm inspired and our new bedroom identification system is born. 

For you, this DIY project can translate in a number of ways. For one, it makes for a great gift (hi family, stop reading or spoiler alert, you're all getting door mats for Christmas this year) or a really easy way to personalize your own entry mat with your house number.

DIY: Customized Entry Door Mats

Supplies:

  • Basic entry mat

  • Stencils (look for 4", 5" or 6")

  • Masking tape

  • Measuring tape or ruler

  • Butcher paper or cardboard

  • Spray Paint(s) - choose any color darker than the mat

  • Drop cloth

  • Disposable gloves (spray paint is messy)

Step 1:

Source a simple, natural fiber entry mat. Like I said, I purchased mine from Ikea on the CHEAP for $4.99 each. Truth be told, the Ikea mats are very thin, so you may want to find something a bit more substantial.  I easily found more online.

SINDAL Door mat IKEA Easy to keep clean - just vacuum or shake the rug. Latex backing keeps the mat firmly in place.

Sindal door mat: $4.99 at Ikea

Easy to customize basic DIY door mat with spray paint and stencil

Kempf Natural Coir Doormat: $15 on Amazon

Step 2:

Using your measuring tape, find the center of the mat and line your stencil(s) up according to the layout you would like to achieve. 

** Note: The stencils used in this DIY are 6". **

Easy to customize basic DIY door mat with spray paint and stencil

For my mats, I was only doing single digits, so honestly I eyeballed my measurements. However, to achieve a multi number arrangement, you may want to be more accurate arranging the stencils in advance or perhaps off setting the digits in a corner using the side of the mat as a starting edge.

Step 3: 

With the numbers arranged, place masking tape fully around the stencils so they are affixed to the mat (or to each other) and can not slide; keeping all inner edges of the stencil exposed.

The making tape, on the exterior stencil edge, will begin to create a barrier for the spray paint from the rest of the mat. To cover the remaining perimeter, use more tape or affix a few strips of paper (butcher, news, etc.) or cardboard fully covering the remaining exposed edges.

Place the whole mat on a drop cloth.

Easy to customize basic DIY door mat with spray paint and stencil

Step 4:

With the spray paint can positioned parallel to the mat, use short, precise strokes 5" over the stencil. Try not to tilt the spray nozzle, as a top mist over the stencil will produce the best result.

Note here, it's less about getting the fibers saturated with pigment, and more about getting a clean sweep of paint across the stencil.

Easy to customize basic DIY door mat with spray paint and stencil

Step 5:

Allow the paint to set for 5 minutes, then remove the stencil.

Step 6:

Allow paint to dry for a minimum of 24 hours before using or gifting. Though the paint will dry fast, allowing extra dry time will ensure no paint is tracked into the house.

Easy to customize basic DIY door mat with spray paint and stencil
Easy to customize basic DIY door mat with spray paint and stencil

Pretty managable, right? Most of the work time of this project is prepping the surface. I will say though, I got lazy on #4, and did not mask off the perimeter fully. I underestimated the range that the spray paint would span and you can see a dark haze around my number "4" mat.

Learn from my laziness. Make sure you don't skimp on Step 3! Cover the perimeter of the mat fully for best results.

From here, sky's is the limit. On my next attempt at this project, I plan to use different width painters tape to create striped perimeters around the outside edges.

Or, you can use specific paint colors to create a more personalized look that matches your decor.

What do you think, will you give this project a go? Share your thoughts below!

DIY: Refinish An Audio Visual Projector Cart

Maybe you've seen a similar cart for sale or already own one?

It is an audio visual cart typically found in classrooms, used as a projector stand. See the plug on the top right corner shelf?

I love these carts! I love how utilitarian they are, and the clear resin wheels. I also love that they are fairly easy to come across (for cheap) and have about a zillion practical uses.

Sadly, I can not remember where I found this particular cart (I have the worst memory). "John, where'd I get this cart!?"

Over the past few months, I've seen them everywhere! Most recently, on friends front porches holding houseplants (Hi Andrea & Veronica!) and just this past weekend at a garage sale covered with tools.

My cart was in rough shape though, and can be seen in some of our past kitchen renovation pictures, collecting dust, awaiting its time to shine.  And now, that time has come.

I usually hold out for second hand pieces that are in pretty good shape. I rarely purchase items that need to be refinished because, let's be honest, I never get around to doing it.

But I didn't want to change this cart too much ecstatically, and really just wanted to clean it up, so I figured this was a realistic project that I would actually complete.

Even more, this is an easy project! And what I mean is, "Seriously, Gail, you can totally do this yourself!"

See, Gail is my mother's best friend, and she reads the blog often. She recently told me that my DIY: Industrial Curtain Rod post was way over her head. (Disagree....) But for that, Gail, this EASY weekend project is dedicated to you!

DIY: Refinish An Audio Visual Projector Cart

Supplies:

  • AV Cart

  • Screwdriver

  • Bucket

  • Mild soap and water

  • Spray Paint(s)

  • Drop cloth

Step 1:

Assess your cart. Review its condition and work on a plan. For instance, my cart:

  • had a slight lean

  • was badly rusted on the top shelf and over the legs

  • had a lot of gummy/waxy residue on the legs and wheels

  • was missing a screw

Step 2:

Fully disassemble the cart.  This will be helpful two-fold. It will be much easier to: clean and paint.

Take a look at the screws, and assess which screwdriver (Philips or Flat) you will need and remove all of the screws; starting from the bottom up.

Once you have all of the screws out, you may notice that the top shelf is not secured with screws and rather will easily lift out of the bracket now that all the other levels are off.

Step 3:

Prep the surfaces for painting. Give all the surfaces and parts a quick wash with water and a mild soap.

During this time, I removed all of the wheels, which pop out with minimal shimmying, and soaked them. Fast forward about 30 minutes of soaking, I used an abrasive brush and gave them all a good scrubbing.

On my cart, the top tray and legs were very rusty. I used a fine grit sand paper to smooth out the tray imperfections and steel wool (Brillo) to shine the chrome legs.

** Take your time with these cleaning/prepping steps. And similarly, let all of the wet surfaces completely dry.

Working with clean, dry, smooth surfaces will help the paint adhere evenly and look its best.

Step 4:

Prime the trays. Like I mentioned, my trays were very rusty. And even though most spray paint has primer, I used a spray primer as a base to help smooth out the surface and prep for color. This step may also be necessary if the cart has already been redone before and paint chips disfigure the surface.

Let the primer dry for a minimum of 1.5 hours. Go eat lunch, and come back.

As long as you have thoroughly cleaned and prepped the legs down to the chrome, you should not need to prime the legs.

Step 5:

Paint the legs.

I'll admit, I hesitated here. The chrome legs on my cart shined up really nice, and for a second I though, "maybe I should leave them alone" but I pushed on as I am not a huge fan of chrome.

You may chose to keep them shiny silver, in which case, you're nearly done with this project.

To paint the legs, I vertically draped a drop cloth over some saw horses to the ground, and created a small barrier. If its windy, you risk losing half your paint, so this barrier also creates a nice wind blocker.

I used Rust-oleum Metallic in Pure Gold. Spay the interior side of the legs first, attempting to get the sides as much as possible. Let sit for 30 minutes. Flip and do the exterior side.

Rust-oleum Metallic in Pure Gold

** Painting each leg in this order (interior than exterior) which will allow any drips to be freshly covered on the front, most noticeable side.

** Also, don't forget to paint the screw heads.

Step 6:

Paint the tray tops. As I mentioned, I wanted to clean the tray up, more than totally change it esthetically. I chose Antique White spray paint by Rust-oleum, which was pretty close to the original color.

Step 7:

After waiting for a few hours, allowing all the paint to properly set and dry, the final step is simply reassembling.

Start by reinserting the legs in the top tray brackets, then connect the bottom tray to the legs, so the unit can stand freely on its own. This will be slightly awkward, but you'll get the hang.

Loosely connect all screw and bolts, until they are all in place, then tighten them one by one. This will allow for leveling the trays.

Step 8:

Reconnect the plug. In my opinion, Step 8 is an optional, aesthetic addition which I chose to live without. For vintage authenticity, perhaps you would prefer to include it. However it is good to note, most plugs do not meet standard electrical code, and should not actually be used.

Now that this cart has undergone a face lift, I wanted to share with you its versatility, so you can bring one of these "easy to find" second hand pieces back to life yourself.

I put together three simple examples of how this tray could be used in your home. As a bar cart, a coffee nook, or bathroom storage.

BAR CART

BATHROOM SHELF

COFFEE CART

Will you be DIYing an audio visual cart this weekend? What do you think

-Courtney

DIY: Industrial Curtain Rods

Happy Spring everyone! I want to share a fun, DIY project that we did for the master bedroom; our industrial inspired curtain rods. I've seen a few different versions on Pinterest, but wanted to put our own spin on this trend.

Not only can you tackle this project in one-day, you can do it without breaking the bank!

DIY Industrial Curtain Rods

Time: 1.5 hours of prep, 30 minutes for install

Cost: $30 per curtain rod, with (2) mounts

Skill Level: Basic tools, comfortable on a ladder

The need for this project became pretty apparent when I started shopping for a curtain rod that would span our four, street facing windows. Holy hat! Extra long curtain rods are expensive! And since we moved in this past weekend (YAHH!), we had to figure out a quick solution.

I reasoned with spending a little more on the curtains themselves because they had to be lined (not too sheer or see through) and 84" long, but I couldn't wrap my head around spending hundreds on hardware.

Step 1:

Check out inspiration online (Pinterest, duh) or in person if you can. There is absolutely no sense in doing all this work and not being totally stoked on the finished product.

I'm a very visual person, so I visited our friends Stephanie + Mike who recently installed similar black pipe curtain rods throughout their entire house, and they look awesome, so I had some pretty solid inspiration! I consulted with Mike, and I'll share his tips as we go.

Step 2:

Determine how long of a curtain rod you want. Will the rod cover one window, two or span the length of several, like mine?

Sketch a quick design plan.

Make a quick sketch of the window. Measure the width of your window(s) including the trim around the window. Then measure again. Then wait a bit, think it through and measure again. 

Half kidding, but a practical tip. Because the rod itself will not be cut by you (at home), and you cannot re-cut it due to personal error (unless you want to spend more money), your detailed measurements and drawing will be a helpful reference when you need it most.

Here's where you have to do a little, forward design prepping. You need to make two decisions:

1. How far beyond the window trim would you like the end of the rod or curtain to extend? For me, I decided on a simple 2" on each ends = 4" total. If you want the curtain to have a lot of extra room on the outer edge of the window when open, make sure you compensate for more.

Now add those extra inches to the overall width measurement and this will account for a decorative overhang on the ends.

2. How far out from the wall does the curtain need to hang to clear the window sill and trim? Here again, 2 inches was enough.

Step 3:

Purchase and cut. Assuming you do not own a pipe cutting machine, you will need to seek professional assistance. With measurements in hand, head to your favorite home improvement store.

I do not recommend going on a Saturday at 11:00am, because every weekend warrior/ DIYer will also be there. Try to go before 9am or at an off-peak hour like dinner time.

Depending on how many curtain rods you're making, the pipe cutting process can take awhile to complete, and you'll stand there feeling dumb/helpless, so bring your best attitude and a coffee.

Step 4:

OK, so your at Home Depot (Lowe's / local hardware store). Head to the plumbing aisle, and look for a large machine in the middle of the aisle that looks like this.

Pipe cutting machine.

This is a pipe cutting machine. Find an Associate (AKA your new BFF, or in my case, Frank) and tell Frank you need some pipes cut to length. Frank may assume that you are installing or replacing a natural gas line, to which you can mention your intentions with his pipes (assuming he has a sense of humor) are "decorative." In my case, I got a laugh. Work on your delivery.

At this time, look at the shelves above the Associate and you'll notice two types of pipes. Galvanized steel (silver) or black steel. Determine which one best works with your style/decor, and tell the Associate, "I need

1/2 inch

{

galvanized

or

black}

pipe,

threaded on both ends

."

These pipes come in many different diameters, but 1/2 inch is plenty thick/strong to handle fabric curtains.

My new BFF, Frank.

Hand your new bestie your beautifully, chicken scratch drawing and review the measurements together. (Remind yourself that you are not his first DIYer and you're way more sophisticated than the man he just spent 45 minutes helping make a PVC table - true story.)

From the drawing, the Associate will understand how much pipe is necessary for the full job, and will measure and cut a long (likely 10 foot) piece to your desired dimensions. Each 10 foot pipe is about $15-$20.

Similarly, have the Associate cut a zinc threaded rod into 2 inch sections. You will need (1) 2 inch section per mount. If you're only making (1) curtain rod, you'll have a bunch left over, but I'm sure you'll find something crafty to do with it.

Now stand back and watch your BFF in action!

Step 4:

Aside from the pipe, you will need some additional hardware for installation. Because we decided to use galvanized pipe, we matched the hardware with galvanized fittings. At Home Depot the fittings are color coded, so for this project, we were looking for 1/2 inch (pink coded) fittings.

Which ever metal you choose, feel free to mix and match the finish, just 

make sure you buy 1/2 inch fittings

.

Here is what you will need to replicate our curtain rods. This list is per curtain rod (direct links are provided for purchase through Amazon):

Top: Split ring pipe hanger. Bottom: 3/8  inch zinc threaded rod cut into 2" sections

3/8 ceiling plate, used her as a wall plate.

1/2 inch galvanized iron cap

Step 5:

With your purchases in hand, wave Frank goodbye and tell him if this project doesn't kill you, you hope to see him soon. To which Frank will promptly take his coffee break and pray that blogs like this don't get "repinned" too often.

Back at the ranch, start by laying out all of your purchases. If you haven't noticed by now, steel pipes and pipe cutting is accompanied by lots of grease and oil. This grease and oil will stain your pretty new curtains, so here's a good tip from my friend Mike:

Make sure you clean the hell out of them with a strong degreaser or household cleaner like 409. Any product made for cleaning kitchen grease will help. Make sure to get in all the threads really well.

Make sure you degrease ALL of the parts and hardware really well.

Step 6:

Gather your tools for installation:

  • Ladder

  • Measuring tape

  • Level

  • Pencil

  • Painters/ non-stick tape (as opposed to writing on the wall, painters tape is an easier way than marking up the wall)

  • Drill

  • Phillips-head Screw driver

  • Stud finder

Step 7:

Decide on your curtain before installation. Start by manually test hanging the curtain on the rod and holding the rod up to your desired height and ensure it falls correctly. A friend is helpful here! Man, where's Frank when you need him. Depending on your curtain's length, determine where you would like the rod to live.

Here's my tip. Don't over complicate this. Simply eye ball the location of where you want the wall mount to be and determine the approximate location above the trim.

Take a look below. I wanted the curtain to be much higher, so I measured up from the corner of the trim 5 inches and over 2 inches. Mark this center spot with an "x". This center spot will be the middle of the wall plate's center opening and directly in line with the threaded rod.

Holding up the wall plate to the wall, center your "x" on the middle opening, and use your level on the side of the plate to ensure the plate is vertically straight. Once straight, use your pencil to trace the top and bottom openings onto the wall.

Top opening: Screw

Middle: Threaded rod

Bottom: Screw

Repeat this above process on both sides of the window.

Step 8:

Now that you have the location of the wall plates marked, you will need to determine how lucky you are and if there is a wall stud to mount the plate to. You can determine this with an electric stud finder. ** If you're my husband, you've placed the stud finder on your chest and are now beeping loudly.

If there is no stud, a dry wall anchor will be necessary.

Step 9:

If there is a stud, drill a pilot hole through the top and bottom circle marks you just made and secure the plate to the wall with the wood screws.

Thread the 2 inch rod piece into the center opening and add the split ring hanger to the threaded rod end. Be sure not to over thread, as the pipe will need to fit in the open space between.

Wall plate secured with screws, center threaded rod screwed in.

Be sure not to over thread the split ring, and leave plenty of room for the 1/2 inch pipe to pass through.

Repeat this step on each side.

Step 10:

If the curtain rod is long, find your friend again. With the pipe dressed with your curtain, loosen the split ring, place the pipe in between and tighten the outer ring screw making a secure closure on both sides.

Finally, thread on the end caps for a finished, industrial look.

All in, each curtain rod with (2) matching mounts cost approximetly $30 and 30 minutes of installation.

I will admit John was my project buddy and helped guided me through this process but I feel completely confident, having only done this once, that you could easily follow these steps & do it too!