Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Posts of 2013

Happy [Nearly] New Year!

I meant to go on a "Blog-Lite" schedule over the holidays, but it turned into "Blog-Free."
Whoops!  What can I say?  When things got busy, something had to give, and I chose my family and friends and reveling in the warmth of the season.  I know you understand. :)

So to say sayonara to 2013 - a good year, by all accounts - here's a look at the most popular stops here at On the V Side from the past year:

Hands down, the most visited post was the painted kitchen cabinets.
This was a big project, but it came with a big payoff!
Other than the time commitment and having my kitchen a disaster area for a couple months, the biggest challenge of this project was taking the initial plunge and actually GOING for it!

Painted Kitchen Cabinets

2013 was apparently the "Year of My Kitchen" because not only was the second most popular post another kitchen project, it was also one of the most-commented posts of the year.
I won't complain - I loved the kitchen island project, too! :)

 DIY Kitchen Island Update

This next project was one of my most-pinned projects of the year, and that makes me feel awesome because I love this little dresser!  In all her navy and brass goodness, she makes me smile whenever I head upstairs. :)

Navy Dresser Makeover

Remember when I said y'all were interested in the kitchen?
Well... here you go.
This cabinet magnet board project was easy, functional, and I love how it looks.

Kitchen Cabinet Magnet Board

And rounding out the Top 5 Top Posts of the year, these simple DIY faux photo canvas prints.  So easy, so cheap.  And recyclable!

DIY Canvas Photo Prints

Thank you so much for coming by, and coming back throughout the year!
I'm feeling renewed and ready to get back at it for 2014!
I have some projects in the hopper, but in the meantime I'll be back soon and we can check out that pesky "to do" list I made at the beginning of the year and see how successful [or not] I was at knocking things out.
Hint: UM, I WASN'T ;)

Happy New Year, Friends!

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Chalkboard Cheats [How to Create Chalkboard Art]

Over the past year, I've received a solid chunk of emails asking about the word art on my kitchen chalkboard, which I usually update around holidays or for parties/special events.
98% of those emails ask how I did it.
I so desperately wish I could say "Oh this?  I just whipped it right up after dinner one night."
But, that would be a total lie.
I'm a chalkboard cheat.  And 100% proud of it. :)

I mean, look at this year's - the straight letters, even spacing... yeah, no.
Not freehand.  I've tried that, and it... wasn't great.

Exhibit A:
This was last year's Christmas chalkboard, and my first attempt ever at chalkboard art.
I thought "I'm relatively creative, and reasonably skilled at mimicking drawings.  This will be fairly easy."
Or not.
Is this terrible?  No.
But, this was achieved after a collective 4+ HOURS of trying over and over again to get things straight, somewhat even, and crisp enough to keep my eye from twitching.
Friends, I'll never get those 4 hours of my life back.

I tried another method when I helped host a baby shower for a former colleague.
This time, I found a tutorial about covering the backside of freezer paper with chalk, then tracing over the letters on the other side.
It *worked*, I guess.  Kind of.
The chalk dust outline was so faint I couldn't really trace it.
So, I ended up printing full-sized letters and taping them up next to where I was drawing, and doing it half-trace, half-freehand.
It still took waaaaaay too long:

I have the attention span of a gnat, people.
Taking so much time for something I KNOW could be done in less drives me batty.
Ain't nobody got time for that!
 By Thanksgiving, I found the Holy Grail of chalkboard cheats.
The Overhead Projector.
My Dad's office was moving and was purging a lot of stuff that they didn't want to transport.
Surprise surprise, in this digital age they weren't too keen on hanging onto an early-90's classroom staple.
I didn't care, Dad snagged it for me (for free!) and I was as happy as a pig in poo.
Because THIS:

...took me 11 minutes.

It can be done!

Here's a little trick - the transparency paper used for overheads can be a little spendy.  That's mainly because people just don't use overheads like they used to.
So since I got my overhead for free, I wasn't going to spend a ton on transparency paper, ya dig?

So now when I'm looking for a design, I search online until I find what I'm looking for, save the image, then print it out and stick it in one of these $4-for-9,000 plastic binder sleeves.
Then I just trace the design right on the plastic sleeve with a sharpie.  Take the paper out, and voila!  Instant overhead template.  Now you can fire up the machine, and just trace onto your chalkboard. 

When I'm done, I like to slip the paper back in the sleeve, and then I keep a binder of chalk art options for a variety of different events.  Just pull out the book when you're feelin' artsy, and away you go!

So go forth, friends!
Scour craigslist and school sales and used office furniture/supply stores for a cheap overhead projector.
And you, too, can find and own the miracle technology revered by chalkboard cheats everywhere.

Chalk to your little heart's content. :)

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday House Tour [2013]

Soo... once again I'm a little late to the party, but that seems to be my M.O. lately, yeah?
Oh well... here's a look at what The V Side looks like this holiday season.
My general Christmas style is Rustic and Natural.
This year, I stayed true to that theme and focused on just a few rustic & natural elements that I repeated throughout the space for an understated, yet cohesive, look.

So, this year:

 These provided my base, and then I threw in some glitter and mercury glass for sparkle.

You'll find these small boxwood wreaths all around the house this year.
They are so simple, but add such a nice pop of color and holiday wherever you put them.

[you can see how I made the pinboard above, HERE]
The nubby table runner mimics burlap and warms up a hard wood surface

Slate = Chalkboard and you know how much I love those! :)

Apparently I was so focused on the details, that this crappy picture is the only full-on shot that I have of the mantle and our tree.
But can I just tell you how much I LOVE the mantle now that it's had the big makeover? 
It's still ginormous, but it's no longer the Mantle O' Doom.
I really didn't change anything on our tree this year because I just like it how it's been.
And it's my tree and I can do that :)
But if you want to see the glowing purdi-ness, you can check out last year's tree.
'Cause you know, it's the same. :)

The lighting was not cooperating with me, but flanking the ends of the mantle are two oversize mason jars.
I just filled them with pine cones my niece and nephew picked up in the yard, and some
faux pomegranates I've had shoved in the holiday decor bin for years.

The garland is fresh cedar and my favorite thing is putting it up right after bringing it home because it smells HEAVENLY!  I was good for the first week or two about spritzing it with water to keep it fresh.
Now.... it's a little crispy.  BUT, it hasn't lost its shape or color so as long as no one touches it, no one will know.  Shhh.  ;)
I tucked some mercury glass in between the branches for a little punch of sparkle.
So easy.

These photo ornaments were actually gift tags that I made and put on presents last year.
The tags had photos of the intended recipient on one side, and chalkboard paint on the other where I used chalk ink to write who the gift was from.
[If you want to make your own, I wrote an easy tutorial.]
I made the star paper garland a couple years ago, and this year added it to my existing burlap pennants in the office.  I love the layered look.
[Don't mind the giant dog kennel.  No one will ever accuse me of staging photos :)]
 I continued the paper garland theme over the fireplace.
This "Merry" garland took approximately 1 DVR'd episode of "Modern Family" to make from start to finish.
I cut the flags from the pages of a thrift-store book.  I printed the word "Merry" in the font I wanted, then cut out the letters and just used a glue stick to adhere them to the book pages.  Stick your flags on a piece of jute twine, and hang.
Done and done!
And it's all rounded out with this year's chalkboard art.

Happy Holidays from The V Side!

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Monday, December 2, 2013

How to Paint Trim [tutorial]

When I shared the results of updating the trim in our house room by room, many of you had questions about my process.  Rather than answer a bunch of emails with the same content, I'm going to put all my information in one handy dandy, easy to access post.  I'll warn you, it's oh-so-long... but hopefully helpful!

 Here we go...

Always tape the floor. (obviously). (Unless you are renovating and are updating trim before your new floors are installed.  If that's the case, then by all means, go commando with the tape :) )
To deal with carpeting. put the tape flush against the trim, sticky side facing you.   Then slide it down in between the trim and the carpeting, and the fold the sticky side over the carpet.  If you have thick carpeting or frieze like we do, use a piece of cardboard as you go to tamp down the carpet so you can get as much of the wood covered.  When you're done, fluff up the carpet to cover any uneven spots.

Unless you are planning to remove the doors (and subsequently the hinges) entirely, tape the hinges.
NEVER NEVER NEVER paint OVER the hinges.
I have a poor friend who is dealing with the aftermath of painted hinges from her home's previous owner and it's been tons of extra, unnecessary work.  Just tape and you'll be happy you did.

Taping the top of the trim is up to you.  I don't, for a couple reasons.  1, I want to make sure to get every inch of the top of the trim, since that's what people will see the absolute most of.  Sometimes tape can bring up pieces of your paint with it, and I want the edge to be as crisp as can be (and I'm not the world's best taper).

It should be noted that I only do this in rooms I'm either planning to paint the walls in, OR rooms where I have extra wall paint, so I can go over the trim excess with the wall color when I'm finished (you can see the overage in the photo)  If you do NOT have extra wall paint, and you do NOT plan on repainting the room, then suck it up and tape off the top of your trim.

Clean and Prep

Give all your trim a good scrub down with TSP.  Then go ahead and give it a nice sanding.  Do you have to sand down to bare wood?  Absolutely not.  BUT I am telling you, give it a light sanding.  If you don't, you're going to be cursing your trim in the future when you're constantly retouching scuffs and chips.  Sanding really helps.  Ask me how I know. ;)
After you sand, do another round of cleaning with TSP.
Let that dry, and you're ready to prime.

Use a stain-blocking primer.  Follow the directions on the can regarding dry time (different brands vary quite a bit).  You will want to do two coats.  do NOT use your best brushes for priming!
Primer is really tough to clean, and if you don't do it SUPER thoroughly, you will ruin your brushes!
(again, ask me how I know. ;) )
For priming, I buy a big value bag of the cheapo foam brushes, and then chuck them when I'm done.

Next up is paint.
Depending on what paint you use and how well it covers, you will need at least 2 coats.
If your trim is oak like mine, that's very grainy and will likely need 3 coats - paint gets sucked into the wood grain and it takes more to fill it.

My absolute favorite is Sherwin Williams' ProClassic Line.  It's developed specifically for trim and doors, and it goes on like buttah.
Regardless of what brand you use, make sure to choose a variety that is self-leveling; this minimizes the appearance of brush strokes, and saves you time and extra coats as things dry.

Make sure you allow plenty of dry-time in between coats.  I wait 24 hours.  Some people will say you don't need to wait that long, but in my experience your paint is A LOT more durable if it's had more time to dry and cure.  It will take about 2 weeks to FULLY cure, though, so keep that in mind when you're working in high-traffic areas.

Is it tedious?  A bit.
Can it be frustrating?  Messy?  Yep.
Is it worth it?  In my opinion, ABSOLUTELY.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013


This is how I feel.

I'm grateful for so many things this Thanksgiving,
and you yahoos are included in that list.

Thanks for sticking around, and for creating such an
encouraging place to play each week.

Thankful and Blessed, indeed.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Last Minute Thanksgiving Decor Ideas

 OoooKaaaay… so Thanksgiving is just a few days away.

You’re hosting.
You’re swamped making sure you’ve got the grocery list complete, the wine chosen, getting the bird thawed, double checking the guest list and making sure you have enough seats, coaching your kids on table manners, and did I mention THE CLEANING?!  Oy, it’s enough to make you crack into that wine a little early.

So no surprise, you’re focused on people actually having something to EAT that you haven’t given a thought to how you’re going to decorate, of all things.

Not to worry.
This year, I’m feeling SIMPLE about everything.
Not a lot of fuss. 
No big “to do” about things.
Just simple.  And pretty.
And when you’re juggling 9,000 other things, simplicity is what you’re looking for. 

Check out these simple looks for a table that is tasteful, classic and simple.
And pretty much all of these looks can be recreated on the cheap, many using things you probably already have or could knock out with a quick jaunt to the Dollar Store.



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