Friday, August 14, 2015


Well, it's been a little while.

Months actually.

I would say I'm sorry about that if this blog ever had any real readers, but it didn't so much, so I will be abashedly unapologetic about my absence. I've never been the best time manager. I'm so incredibly jealous of those women that are able to work full time, maintain a beautiful home and family, create art, and blog about it. I wonder if they sleep.

I need my sleep.

And so something had to give, and for a long while it was this blog. But I hope to be back. Specifically because my life is changing big time.

And by big time, I mean with something - someone - very tiny.

Meet my very favorite DIY project ever, Patrick Ryan. 

The little life-changer came on April 21st, 2015 at 12:24 am. He was a breech baby so he was delivered via c-section. The picture above was taken when he was just minutes old. He is just perfect.

The nine months leading up to his birth were a blur of doctor's appointments, home preparations and trying to keep my eyes open at work. I thought there was nothing that could be harder than pregnancy. Until he showed up.

But things have gotten much easier and we are so incredibly in love with him it's hard to imagine life before he came along.

Here is our little blue eyed boy today, at three and a half months.

He has already given me a whole new perspective on things. Like life is too short to be stressing over things you don't enjoy.

I do enjoy writing here, but I don't enjoy the stress of wondering if anyone is listening. So I'm going to stop worrying about that.

I'm also going to stop worrying about making sure everything is specifically DIY focused and post about what I want, and do it when I want.

Oh, and there's one more (big) small detail to mention. A new URL. While in the midst of the baby fog I let my URL expire, and some jackass from China swept in and stole it to hold for ransom. It's possible that I will eventually get back, but I'm not going to stress over it. So in the meantime I've navigated to I have some big plans for a design related etsy shop and maybe even an app some time down the line... So I'm rolling with it, and 231designs it is. If you've got 231blog bookmarked (Mom, I'm talking to you) now would be a good time to update. 

In the meanwhile look forward to seeing what we were up to in the months I wasn't posting. Much of it was baby related but some of it was not. And I'm looking forward to sharing it with you. 

Friday, October 24, 2014


Here we are, one week until Halloween, and this lazy blogger is finally getting around to posting my mantel decorations from last year. Yes, I planned ahead. I took pictures of my decos and saved them because I knew that next year I would have my post up in September when we all start thinking about Halloween, and the pictures would have time to go viral on Pinterest before Day of the Dead came and went. But in reality, most of the blogging world has moved on to Christmas already and here I am still talking about Halloween.

So here goes.

I blame Pottery Barn and their recent obsession with skeletons for my mantel this year. Their displays are always so luxe, but in a creepy way, and that's what I was going for. Unfortunately, my decorating budget is less Pottery Barn and more Dollar Tree... and that is where the majority of my Halloween components came from.

I admit I have a love-hate relationship with Halloween spider webs. They do add a bit of spooky ambiance to any Halloween project, but they are such. a. pain. to work with. The only trick I can offer is to work with very small sections at a time. I used less than 1/4 of a ball of webbing on my mantel, cutting out small strips and pulling them as thin as I could stand it.

The small village is a Dollar Store DIY project. I purchased Christmas houses and glassware, then gave them a spooky update with spray paint. I like the way they turned out, but just wish they were a little bit bigger.

In the pic below you can tell how precariously these little houses are balanced on the stemware. I do love the look of the orange light shining through the "mercury glass riser" (stemless wine glass spray painted with Krylon Looking Glass and turned upside down).

It's not really Halloween for me until I've done the Thriller dance, so I thought framing some of the lyrics to that epic song would be a fun way to balance the height of those lit branches. I'd love to take credit for the awesome typography, but they are printables from Kimberly at a Night Owl blog. And I love them.

On to the DIYs. Here is another look at my Halloween village, pre spider webs.

They were pretty simple. I picked up a variety of styles of Christmas Village from the Dollar Tree, then just sprayed each village to about 80% with matte black spray paint. The risers are a variety of glassware that I grabbed the same day, making sure they were all at different heights. After looking at a couple DIY mercury glass tutorials on Pinterest, I sprayed each glass with vinegar, then a coat of Krylon Looking Glass paint to give them a mediocre-at-best mercury glass look.

Last year, Raven feather wreaths were everywhere, and I really wanted one for my mantel, but wasn't going to pay $40 for one. So, I found a boa at Party City in the Halloween Costume section and fashioned it in to a wreath with a little floral wire.

You can see below that the project was pretty simple. I got some heavy duty floral wire and fashioned it in to a hoop, then carefully wrapped the boa around it, securing as I went.

McKinney is lucky that she is a yellow lab, not a black one, because it almost became her lion's mane for Halloween.

She was not impressed.

I hope everyone has a safe an fun Halloween! Maybe next year I'll get this year's decos up here in time to actually inspire people... but I wouldn't count on it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Last week I began writing about our living room built ins by showing you my inspiration and detailing our plans along with the first step in the process, running the electrical.

Today we can really get down to the business of building the window seat, which is when I really started to get excited about this project. There is nothing like seeing your visions become reality, and it's even better when things pretty much work according to plan!

Here was our process:

First off, we had to create walls for the inside of the window bench, because we needed something to nail the supporting 2x4s and and front piece of the box in to. We did this before running the electrical conduit in to the cabinets.

Next we nailed a 2x4 directly to the sheetrock along the front wall, making sure that we were nailing directly into the studs (spaced at 16" intervals). This 2x4 would serve as the header for our framework for the window bench.

Yes, Ryan is using a full on framing nailer, and yes, that is probably overkill, but it was a new tool and he wanted to try it out. This window bench a'int goin' anyplace.

Next we continued the support for the window bench by adding a 2x4 to the wall of the cabinet and one vertically to the side of the cabinet. We did this with each side of the window box on both cabinets. To help keep things square, we added a small block at the bottom of the front supports.

Once we had the sides in place, we could add vertical supports across the width of the bench. We started by running a stringer from cabinet to cabinet and securing it to the back of the two vertical supports we had already gunned in.

Then we added three more vertical supports across the span, one in the center and one on each midsection. We gunned the vertical supports into the stringer, and ran them all the way to the floor.

Because our bench is a full 96 inches long, we decided to have the top of the window box open in two separate panels. This meant we had to add supports for each of those panels to sit on when the doors were closed AND that they had to hold some weight so that when I do sit down on said bench, I don't crack the plywood with my enormous rear end. Or worse (I'm imagining the carnage of nieces and nephews dancing on the window box, then a loud CRACK).

So, we hung the center 2x4s by framing brackets. These are meant for framing actual beams and are meant to be used at some distance apart. Since we had to put them this close together we ended up jerry rigging them a bit, but the result is still very solid.

As with the center of the bench, we had to create an additional support to hold the outsides of the doors on the cabinet sides (the doors themselves don't go all the way to the cabinet). So we measured then gunned in two additional 2x4s along each edge.

I skipped a few steps in photos here for the sake of time, but once we had all the supports in place, we were able to add the actual cabinet fronts and doors. In the picture below I've tried to highlight each separate piece in a different color to give you an idea of the composition of the cabinet, but here's a list of our pieces as well.

We started with one 4x8 foot sheet of 3/4 inch oak veneer plywood.

The front face of the window bench is a full 96 inches by 19 inches tall.
The two window bench hinged doors are each 16 inches deep by 46 inches long.
The two back pieces along the wall are 4 1/2 inches deep by 46 inches long.
Each side piece along the cabinet is the 2 1/4 inches wide by the full depth of the bench of 21 inches.

We attached the four door pieces separately (green to purple, teal to blue) using two 36" piano hinges before nailing them in place. We ended up using piano hinges after a lot of research because they can support a lot of weight and are relatively low profile. We chose a depth of 4 1/2 inches for the back of our bench before the hinge after testing to make sure the hinge would open far enough that the door of the bench would rest on the window when open.

With the window bench structurally complete and having passed the sit-on-it-and-pray test for both of us, we moved on to finishing the cabinets.

The first thing we had to do was hide the toe kick. Since these cabinets are made for kitchen and bath use, and not meant to be part of a built in, there was a couple inch deep toe kick we had to hide. We did that by adding in a couple short support pieces cut from leftover 2x4 and a plywood face plate. Out of nowhere was goodbye ugly particle board hole and hello built in cabinet!

With our cabinets still topless, it was time to add the oak ply to finish them off. We cut the ply to give us a 3/4" overhang on the front and side of the cabinet, then we had to do was cut a hole in the ply for the electrical junction box.

We traced the junction box on to the ply where we wanted it, then cut it out with a jig saw. Ryan started by plunging a hole with his drill, then followed the traced line with his jig saw. We added the junction box, placed the top on the cabinet and nailed it to the cabinet with a finish nailer.

Once our top was securely in place, it was time to wire the electrical. Being the smaller of the two of us, I climbed in to the cabinet and run the conduit up through the junction box.

See how good things are starting to look in this picture... if you squint really hard you can almost see what its going to look like.

Inside the cabinet, I secured the cable conduit to the side with a u shaped clamp to keep it out of the way, then I slid the conduit in to the junction box and tightened the fitting.

Once the conduit was in place it was time to wire the outlet using the wires inside the box. There are three wires in there, white (neutral) black (hot) and green (ground). Ryan stripped some of the plastic coating off each wire to reveal the copper, then used needle nosed pliers to create little u shaped hooks on each of them. The outlet makes it pretty easy with a silver screw (for the white wire) a black screw (black wire) and a green screw (ground) - all he did was loosen the screws, hook the copper hooks in to the space between the outlets and the screws, and tighten.

We screwed the outlet in to the junction box, took deep breaths and turned the power back on (good point to note, NEVER work with electrical wiring when the power is on at the breaker box). We plugged a tool in and breathed unanimous sighs of relief as it whirred to life!

So, here we were at the end of day two of the project, feeling like real carpenters with a nearly completed window bench and cabinets.

Here's a shot of the window bench open. I was already calculating just how many vases and figurines I could fit in the storage space when Ryan loudly proclaimed it looked like a perfect spot to store his extra tools. The jury is still out.

Next up, I finally get my bookshelves!

Friday, August 1, 2014

231 by Design: Rustic Farmhouse Wedding Save the Date

Today I thought I'd share a save the date that I recently created for some good friends of mine that are having a wedding celebration later this year.

Friday, July 25, 2014


On Tuesday, I showed you the inspiration for the living room built ins, and today I want to share the first steps in the process.

Here are the dimensions we were working with for the built ins. There were some tricky things going on with this funky little space, the biggest of which is a slanted ceiling. This space was originally the front porch, and former owners bumped it out to create a larger living space. They laid the flooring directly on the porch slab and replaced the original window in the new location.

Some of the choices the owners made just baffle me, and leave me wondering if fifty years from now, future owners of 231 will be wondering just why on earth we decided to do what we've done.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


When I first laid eyes on 231 through an online real estate posting, I immediately gravitated toward this large, craftsman style window in the front of the house. I knew it would be the perfect spot for a window seat, a spot to sit and sip coffee and watch the world go by. It was one of the many reasons I knew the house had to be ours, despite it's many flaws.

In a seemingly unrelated note (I'll get there I promise), I have always dreamed of a wall of books, organized by color. I saved this photo below, via flickr, to my desktop inspiration file long before the birth of Pinterest, and to this day it still gives me chills. In the age of kindles and iPads where no one actually buys physical books anymore, I still browse bookstores looking for interesting reads with colorful spines to add to my collection. It's a sickness I tell you.

Friday, July 18, 2014

DIY Polaroid Style Instagram Magnets

I'm on summer break right now, which means I have been crafting and organizing and exercising and all the fabulous things that you have the time to do when you are not jobless and childless. And I love it.

One of those recent projects was creating some fun Polaroid style magnets using recent Instagram photos.