dil·i·gence:careful and persistent work or effort

Proverbs 13: 4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Making Your House a Home

This past weekend, I had the honor of participating in a fun day of workshops at our church.  There were 4 1 hour long workshops- 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon- with lunch in the middle.  The workshop topics ranged from Frugal Living to Parenting Teens, and each lady chose ahead of time what workshops she wanted to attend.  It was my extreme honor to be asked to prepare a workshop on one of my very favorite topics!  My workshop was entitled Making Your House a Home:  DIY tips and tricks on a budget.  Once I got over my anxiety of talking to a roomful of ladies, I had a lot of fun preparing for the workshop.  My office looked like this the week before as I decided what projects to highlight.  (And, yes I did cart a car full of pillows, furniture and art projects up to the church for an hour long talk.  I simply couldn't help myself, and I thought having the items there to hold up and talk about was more effective than simply showing pictures.)
I will admit, a lot of the workshop content is already on the blog, but since neither of my followers were at the workshop, I considered the redundancy okay.

I covered 5 main ways to make your house a home, and I figured why not share them with you all.  So, here goes!

Personalizing common items

Personalizing common items is a way to deal with those things in your house that get an A+ for function but a C for form.  It's also a way to feel a sense of pride when you look around your home and realize that much of what you see has been personalized in a way that makes it even more special for your family.  I'm a big fan of personalizing with stencils, which I did with this plain, white planter.  Also shown in the picture is a basic Ikea tray that I covered with craft paper.
We also talked about framing craft paper and/or fabric for affordable art (and how easy it is to swap out!),
 this super fun (and easy!) and personalized profile art project,
about adding some fabric to your plain dishtowels,
and about making yourself a pretty swell coaster.

The next topic I covered was repurposing items.  I absolutely love repurposing items, because I get a thrill from giving purpose to something that previously had none or using something for a purpose totally different from what it was intended.  I talked about the time I repurposed this broken armoire door and turned it into a chalkboard, which I now have hanging in my dining room and use as a menu board.
I also showed off this chalkboard which used to be an awfully ugly thrift store painting.  I loved the frame but hated the painting, so I slapped on a couple layers of black chalkboard paint right over the original painting.  It now hangs in my office, and I usually have some sort of inspiration or reminder posted on it.
And, of course, I might have gotten a little carried away talking about the million and one uses for a painter's drop cloth.

Next up is possibly my favorite way to make your house a home:  with fabric!  I read somewhere (and vaguely remember the topic coming up on YHL once) that a fully dressed room has 10-14 different fabric textiles.  I know that sounds intimidating at first, but I challenge you to count the number of different fabrics in one of your rooms.  The catch, I guess, is that you need to use a room that you consider to be "fully dressed".  As I sit in my living room, I count the following:  a fuzzy green throw, 3 accent pillows, a leather couch & chair, a fabric ottoman with a faux sheep skin on top, drop cloth curtains, a burlap bunting hanging from the mantle, a linen lined basket, and a quilt with countless fabrics.  So, that gives me 10 without the quilt.  Getting close to the 10-14 range is actually easier than I thought, and I don't feel like my room is full of competing patterns, which I what I initially thought would happen in a room with 10 different fabrics.

A couple ways to add fabrics to your house are by sewing a simple envelope style pillow case (also fun for gifts!),
or by making a pennant flag of your own.  I actually begged my sister to bring the one I made for her here so I could have an example.  (She came to the workshop with me which made the day even more special!)  Because of all these lovely fabric pennant flags I've made, and the only one I have in my house is put together with burlap, twine, and hot glue!  Haha!

Shopping Thrift Stores & Craig's List

I also eagerly revealed one of my biggest secrets for making your house a home on a budget, which is to shop for used pieces.  As I sit here on my floor model couch and look into the dining room, I see a Pottery Barn dining table that I got used off CL paired with new Pier One chairs and a garage sale buffet.  Here in the living room, 2 free bookcases flank the fireplace, a antique dresser found on CL sits by the front door, and to my left is another floor model:  an ottoman that I got at the Room Store close out sale.  I never blogged about it, but it was a purchase I was particularly proud of- I think it was 75% off the original price.  I stalked that baby for weeks before pulling the trigger.

I featured 3 of my all time favorite used furniture purchases.

1)  a sweet wooden thrift store chair that I got on sale and recovered with a burlap coffee sack for a total investment of $8.50,
2)  the FREE Craig's List craft table
3)  and the antique pedestal table I scored for 25 bucks at Goodwill, stripped down, and refinished for our breakfast room.

The power of paint

And, the final way to make your house a home that I covered at the workshop last weekend was through harnessing the power of paint.  I let the pictures do the talking on this one, and showed a series of photos featuring our living room.  I showed the painful "before":
The respectable "in progress":
And, the jaw dropping "after":
I left the ladies with this before and after as inspiration.  And, if this side-by-side doesn't inspire you to pull out the paintbrush to attack that dark, dated piece of furniture that you hate, I don't know what will!
So, there you have it:  a 1 hour workshop smashed into one blog post.

I have so many more thoughts on budget friendly ways to make your house a home, but a girl can only cover so much at once.  Who knows- maybe we'll do this again next year, and I'll get to cover 5 new ways!  But, one thing's for sure:  preparing for this talk and subsequently writing this blog post has really made me realize how many projects- large and small- I have accomplished over the past year.

And, as luck would have it- I just looked back and my very first post was published exactly one year ago today.  Happy blog-iversary to me!  And a huge thanks to you guys.  I don't have a big following- that much I know- but I do sometimes check my stats, and I get a huge rush to see how many hits my posts get.  I truly value every single person who spends their precious time reading this humble little blog.

You guys rock.



**linking to the girls at


  1. Great job Emily!! You are amazing...

  2. Emily! They sure got their money's worth with you!!!! What a neat project for you to do. I'll bet the group of ladies was inspired and pleasantly surprised by what you brought to the table- xo Diana

  3. I love your post Emily! I bet your workshop was wonderful! You are truly very creative and talented! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Love your home and sounds like you did an amazing job! Great ideas!

  5. Emily, I think you should take a summer road trip to Western New York to see Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and while you're here on your down time you can re-decorate my house. I can pay you with...um.... deviled eggs. I make really good deviled eggs.

  6. What a wonderfully organized agenda filled with examples that everyone can use and translate for their own home! You did am amazing job Emily! And happy blogiversary - keep up the good work!