It’s not yet Thanksgiving, but this Sunday, we put up our Christmas tree! Considering that we almost skipped the tradition entirely last year, this makes it the first time we’ve done so before slicing into turkey. (Also a first? Holiday music in November. I’ll take it!) Although it’s the earliest we’ve been on the Christmas ball, we wanted to share our tree’s newest addition before the long weekend – for those of you that are equally weird about tree skirts.
What, just us?
We’ve donated every tree skirt we’ve ever bought together. In a four pet household, skirts have always been overly fussy. Messy. Hair magnets and kitty toys. That’s not to say all skirts are bad (some are quite cute!); they’re just not for us. Most years, we’ve left the chintzy aluminum stand to our artificial tree to be free, which while not good, has always been less obtrusive than a kitschy skirt and less time consuming than re-fluffing and re-centering a so-so loop of fabric.
This year, I did a quick search for an alternative to the skirt. Something with clean lines, like a bucket? Or a basket? Yes, yes, a basket!
You can most definitely purchase a tree basket online (and maybe in stores, although we’ve never seen them out in the wild), but there were two things holding us back: ONE) price and TWO) time. With a booked up guest room and friends in town for the upcoming weekend, we just wanted to get it done!
I found this super, super easy tutorial, and after showing Scott, we decided to give it a go. Since larger baskets can really add up, Scott suggested we stop at a local produce market (Stanley’s, for those in Chicago) to see if they had any round fruit crates we could purchase, but we were surprised to find a large collection of baskets lining the refrigerator section! Ours is not quite 2′ wide at the mouth and cost $15.
I used a pair of wire snippers to cut the handles loose, making sure to only snip the reeds that were holding them in place:
My inspiration tutorial suggests removing the entire bottom of the basket, but because our tree is fake (and therefore, not as full as a real tree can be), I only removed the small section in the middle for our pole to fit through:
For extra credit, Scott suggested I use our touch-up stain pen to coat the raw weave, although a tan marker or brown sharpie could work just as well!
We had to modify our tree’s base just a bit for it to fit within the confines of the basket (the basket wasn’t quite wide enough by a few inches), but Scott quickly scrounged up scrap wood and used our hole saw to keep things nice and sturdy; this will be different for everyone.
We love a simple DIY – especially one that clocks in well under $20! – and we loved the basket as-is. Of course it could always be painted, trimmed or pom-pom-ed, but this year, the no frills look feels good.
Aside from the basket, our tree is the same as it has been, year after year. Nothing new or inventive was done, and that’s okay! It makes the holidays that much easier, don’t you think? We kept up our own tradition of reminiscing on the stories behind each ornament, we sang along to our growing Christmas playlist, and we watched Elf. It was a slow-down-day that was so, so needed, and it felt good.
For all of you celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, we wish you a happy one! We’ll be in Chicago as always, baking desserts, dining with friends and taking in the displays downtown. We have a fun, affordable gift round-up to kick off next week, but for the early bird shoppers, we encourage you to support Small Business Saturday this coming weekend!
With the addition of a few new photos and on-hand art, we swapped out our (not that) old gallery wall in the main room for something larger and with a bit more contrast. The change isn’t huge, but man, it really makes a difference in the room! I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a full blown fuss-er, but even Scott was on board with a little change up simply by not disagreeing with me. (Marriage; you pick and choose your battles, right?)
You’ll notice that the same art from Wall One was mixed back into Wall Two, and with a handful of new frames, the look feels more collected overall. While we love cohesion in frames, after living with it for a few months, it didn’t feel right in the space. Now? It does!:
The original wall of art was all Ikea Ribba frames. We love, love, love a good Ribba frame as much as anyone, but the larger frames had started to sag (which is really bizarre, considering they were a-okay in our old home – weird!), and I was itching to incorporate our Elkhorn Flea frames. After printing a couple of my own photographs and re-thinking the frames for a few of our current favorites, we ended up with a collected and layered mix. The new configuration is providing more contrast against our soft walls (which, as you know, we’re not quite sold on) and warming up the room with our favorite – gold!
ONE Vintage photo and frame // TWO Bicycles print (a wedding gift) // THREE Artificial Growing, Ricardo Solis // FOUR DIY screen print made at a local arts festival // FIVE San Francisco #2 // SIX bear + bunny, Nate Duval // SEVEN DC #3 // EIGHT Paris #4 // NINE kitty print by Amy Amok from School of the Art Institute student sale // TEN bench print from School of the Art Institute student sale // ELEVEN personal photo (read below)
Frames SIX and TEN are the same gold metal that I used on the vintage photo wall, and THREE, SEVEN and EIGHT were professionally done with Framebridge using their Irvine (white) and Georgetown (gold) frames. Our personal take on Framebridge, as the friendly team behind the brand provided us with those three frames and you may have seen them pop up recently. They are so good. Their framing service uses top notch materials, which includes UV acrylic. With that said, we’ve always been hesitant to use acrylic in our frames, as bad quality acrylic can look, well, really bad. This is the second time we’ve used their services, and not only does the acrylic have the same look as glass, but we’re just as impressed with every one of our frame choices. (Natural wood, gold bamboo and black – we’ve loved them all!) In other words, they’re worth looking into.
Frames ONE, FIVE and ELEVEN are vintage, and although I had every intention of switching out this portrait pencil drawing, I just couldn’t do it! Scott has let it be known that this woman scares him (Her eyes follow me!, he says), but I oddly sort of love her. It’s an actual drawing (not a print) so it felt more respectful to let her shine – whoever she is.
Hands down, my favorite addition to the wall (Scott’s favorite, too) is this photo of my baby brother Josh – taken seven years ago! I’m much older than my youngest sibling, and while home for the holidays moons ago, I photographed him in my grandparents’ home (you know, my favorite people ever?). I used to love nothing more than setting up photo shoots (family, friend or stranger – no potential ‘model’ was safe!), and I merged two photos to create a composite image of Josh; Scott was the one actually sitting on the other bed for each solo snap.
I chose this wallpapered room in my grandparents’ old house, as it was a room that I spent summers in playing Go Fish with my grandma, watching Bob Ross on television (yup) and helping my Pap Pap draw up signs for the church carnival. Looking at this photo – this room! – makes my heart swell, and it only took me seven years to bring my original idea to life. That baby brother? He just started high school this fall. (I included the original file below for a better look.)
So! Take two. A photo favorite, a wedding gift, travel snippets and a few collected prints breathe a little more life into this wall than version one. Sometimes, you just have to live with it for a while to see what’s not working, tweak, and make it right again.
For this month’s partnership with Ace Hardware, we were encouraged to break the painting rules. Think: colored ceilings, painted floors and hot pink furniture (which, by the way, we’d be down with!). We wanted to have fun with idea, but between completing the guest room and looking forward to the kitchen, we weren’t quite ready to commit to, say, a whole room color or larger furniture piece.
But! We did have a slab of wood, and we did have hairpin legs waiting for their match (more on those in a bit). You know we’re always up for a little burst of color, so we put a plan into action.
A couple months ago, our friend Eric – fellow flea market lover and seller! – came to our house. Before leaving, he told us, I have just the thing you need. Once home, he texted us this hunky live edge slab that he’d been hoarding from a flea adventure of yore, and he said it was destined to be with us. Um, are you kidding me and yes please and when can we pick up?
It’s a good 5′ wide and 2″ thick, but the surface was rough to the touch. Normally I would have started with an 80 grit sandpaper to smooth it down quickly , but once I got all set up outside, I realized I didn’t have any on hand. (Kim!) It took a little longer, but I used what I had: 150 grit sandpaper first, followed by a superfine 220 grit with our orbital sander. Almost immediately, I could start to see the gorgeous grain shine through, and a solid 45 minutes of sanding brought the whole surface down to a super smooth, super soft finish.
I wiped off all the sanding dust with a microfiber cloth and tapped along the live edge to get any lingering debris out of the nooks. Using a 4″ foam roller for the top and a 2″ paintbrush for the sides, I sealed the bench up in 3 coats (no stain) using our go-to Polycrylic in Clear Satin. Between coats, I lightly sanded the wood surface with a 220 grit sanding block, which helps the following coat adhere. Note: While pushing the polycrylic into the live edge with my paintbrush, it looked sort of white and foam-like, but it dried to a perfectly clear finish.
Now, about those legs. We’ve had these stashed since last summer (the summer of big demolition!). The 18″ hairpins were found in a Goodwill, painted a medium brown (to mimic wood, maybe?) and attached to a chipped up plywood top for $6! We tossed the top and kept the legs (you couldn’t even purchase half a hairpin for that price), and after spraying them with primer, I used a foam brush to give them a vibrant pink finish: Valspar’s Magenta Manicure. We wanted them to be durable, so we went with Valspar Optimus in a flat finish to give the illusion of being powder coated. Tip: Some Ace Hardwares are able to compress your purchased paint and turn it into spray paint! This was our original plan, but sadly, their machine was down at the time. Womp. If you’re in the Chicagoland area, the closest location that does this is in Wheaton, IL.
We waited a day for everything to dry, used wood screws to attach the legs to our poly-ed slab, and we brought it up to the second floor landing – for now. Eventually, it would look great at the foot of a bed, and it’s not so heavy that we couldn’t move it down to the living or dining rooms. We even tried it out in our funny little (teal-green) nook room, but the pink shines in the studio, don’t you think?
The wood slab is so, so pretty, and it’s a bit outside of the norm of what we would normally gravitate towards – and that’s been half the fun of experimenting in this home!
We’ll be back later this week with our finished dining room gallery wall (checking off those tiny to-dos – such a good feeling!), but for now, how about a bit of Ace cash for your own rule-breaking paint projects? Together with the Ace crew, we’ll be giving away a $100 Ace Hardware gift card to one lucky reader! The giveaway runs through Friday, November 21st at 5pm CST; simply enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. The winner will be announced within this post by Friday evening. Good luck and happy entering!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
We’re excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided us with compensation and the materials necessary to complete this project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting those that support us.
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