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    David's kitchen remodel process

    We believe the only thing better than a stunning kitchen upgrade is one that involves a lot of DIYs. We've been following along as our friend David from ManMadeDIY gives his kitchen a light, quick update that's packing a big punch. And, while new appliances from Frigidaire Professional are certainly lending a shiny, new look (and function!) to the space, he has squeezed in a number of attainable DIYs that anyone can tackle. Follow along with us below!

     From David via ManMadeDIY:


    They say the kitchen is the heart and the soul of any house, and mine didn't really have much of either. Made from builder-grade materials and outfitted with the most basic appliances, it was time to upgrade my kitchen and add a lot more personality to it. Follow along as I walk you through the transformation.

    With an ambitious timeframe and plenty of work to do, the best place to start was a shopping trip to Lowe's for what we needed. It took about two hours to collect materials from all over the store, but in the end we had a huge cart full of everything from tiles and adhesive to paints and a skylight kit. After organizing everything by project in the garage, we got to work.

     Remodel Supplies

    Here’s the schedule we created to help the project along (we scheduled about 4-6 hours of work per day):

    Day 1 – Remove and organize cabinet doors, sand down and prepare walls for backsplash, prime cabinets (coats 1 and 2).

    Day 2 – Prepare cabinet doors (sand, fill holes, first primer coat), make sure all cabinets are level (they weren’t), take outlet covers off and set up backsplash materials.

    Day 3 – Prime cabinet doors (second primer coat), install backsplash tiles on one wall, Paint cabinets (first paint coat).

    Day 4 – Paint cabinet doors (second paint coat), install backsplash tiles on second wall (minus the detail pieces).

    Day 5 – Paint cabinet doors (third paint coat), finish up backsplash tile and grout, and install skylight.

    Day 6 – Install doors and handles, install molding and trim, and paint walls.

    Day 7 – Install kitchen faucet and finish touch-up work. Lowe’s installers put in our new Frigidaire Professional Series appliances!

    Keep in mind that the entire project took place over the course of about two weeks - with a few days in between and most of the work occurring after a full day of real life. Needless to say, we’re excited to get past this hectic period and start enjoying the new space. But first, a few words about each portion of the project and how it went:Tile Work

    Tile Backsplash

    Time: About 3 hours.

    Cost: $275

    I started this project by reading up on tile installation on Lowe’s website. I’ve done backsplash work before, so adding tile to the walls was not a new experience for me,  but it was complex enough that I’m glad I took some time to go over the details.

    • The key to getting tiles to stick is good surface preparation and a solid layer of adhesive. When preparing the surface, the walls need to be clean and free of grease, and fully flat. If there are a few areas that need work, flatten them out by sanding down or filling in with the proper skim-coat/patch material. This is the time to unscrew the outlets and extend them if necessary to match up to the new tile thickness (be sure to turn off the circuit prior to getting near electrical wires, or get a qualified electrician if you’re not sure what you’re doing).Adding Detail Tiles
    • Thanks to the magic of mesh-backed 12x12 tile sheets, the job goes pretty fast in the open areas. But when it comes to edges, corners, and electrical boxes, the process slows down to a crawl. I like to start at one end and fill up all the open spaces first, while just broadly removing the detail pieces with the intent to come back and spend time on them all at once.Adding Grout
    • For most of the work, I used a simple tile cutter ($30), which is great for single cuts, but it doesn’t work for angles or complex pieces. A set of nippers and an angle grinder with a diamond bit worked well enough for all the other cuts (especially since most were under outlet covers). While a wet saw does provide a cleaner (and more precise) cut in tiles, the cost ($80-$120) doesn’t justify the relatively sparse use of the tool in my shop. Renting one is a great option if you have enough tiling to justify that expense.Marking the Skylight Outline

    Solar Tube Skylight

    Time: Less than 1 hour.

    Cost: $300

    This was the first solar tube-style light I’ve installed, and I have to say it was much easier than I expected. A few simple cuts and less than a handful of screws was all it took to get a huge amount of natural light into the kitchen. It was actually hard to install the light cover onto the diffuser because of the incredible amount of light streaming in. Sunglasses help.

    • The first step was tracing an outline on the ceiling with the provided template (be sure it’s centered between joists before slicing into the drywall). Cutting the outline with a drywall saw took about 3 minutes and left an easy access hole to the bottom of the roof sheathing. Reaching up through the hole I was able to drill a simple pilot hole up through the shingles on the roof. Then I simply found my pilot hole from above and traced my hole outline on the shingles.Tube Skylight
    • For the next step I used an oscillating saw to cut the hole right through the shingles, felt paper, and plywood for a matching hole.
    • Lastly, adding the roof flashing took about 10 minutes including sealant. Inserting the tube with final seals rounded out the entire project at 45 total minutes from first cut to stepping back in solar-blinded admiration.The hole for skylight

    This project was easier than some installations might be, due to the shingled roof, and easy access to the roof and attic. But overall the skill level needed was well within DIY territory and the results are just ... brilliant.HGTV Showcase Paint

    Painted Cabinets and Crown Molding

    Time: 30 hours

    Cost: $550

    By far the most difficult portion of the whole project was painting the cabinets. Thankfully, the cabinets also added the most to the overall look of the space. The fresh coat of paint brought in both depth and color, while also simplifying the room.

    Everyone knows (or should know) that prep is the most important part of painting. And cabinets are really tricky to prep (lots of grooves, angles, and corners). Also, cabinets require multiple coats of paint for a durable finish that will stand up to heavy daily use.

    Here’s what I did:Prepping the Doors

    • Step 1: all doors were wiped down with a grease remover like TSP (Trisodium Phosphate), then lightly sanded to open up the grain. I filled all door handle holes and sanded them smooth.Priming The Cabinets
    • Step 2: Primer.  We used Valspar Bonding Primer as the first and second coat for all doors and cabinet frames to make sure that the paint had a good surface to bond to, and to make sure any stain or grease left on the doors would never bleed through.Painted Cabinets
    • Step 3: Three coats of paint using HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams paint and primer (Snowbound SW 7004 & Web Gray SW 7075).

    After painting the first few doors with a foam brush, I realized that there were too many to realistically get done within our schedule. So I busted out my Graco Truecoat sprayer (similar to this model) to speed up the process and give me a much smoother finish.Graco Paint Sprayer

    I would have started with this method, but the gun is old and well-used so it’s a bit feisty and needs frequent cleaning or it gets clogged and starts to spit (ruining a fresh coat of paint instantly). I also had to take the time to set up a paint booth of plastic drops nailed to the ceiling and taped seams to a drop on the floor to keep the overspray in and the dust/bugs out. Even with the headaches and additional preparation, the sprayer substantially sped up the process and I was able to make solid time applying coats.

    If you have a big paint project, I strongly recommend checking out paint sprayer rentals. You can get one for around $50/day, and it’s totally worth it if you know how to use it (and they’re not terribly hard to use).Drilling Hardware Holes

    After all doors and cabinets were painted, I drilled new holes and installed the new allen + roth handles we picked out. I used a shop-made jig for this to make sure all handles were located in the same spots on the doors. While this worked, by the last few doors the jig holes were worn out and the handles were a bit out of square.Door Handles

    Re-installing the doors was easy thanks to proper numbering when we removed them. Write a number on the hinge, and the corresponding number on the door under where the hinge installs, then put a small sticker or piece of tape over the number while painting. Since the hinge covers the small unpainted location, the number is easy to match back up and the doors go right back where they came from.Installing Trim

    The final touch was installing trim and molding to upgrade the look of our builder-grade appliances. Here’s a great tutorial from Lowe’s on how to install molding.

    • The first trim was installed at the bottom of the cabinet. I made a simple double-bead trim piece from clear pine, but store-bought styles are readily available as well.
    • The top molding was a short crown that I cut using this great jig from Benchdog. With a few cuts and a bit of backing trim, the crown went on fast and dramatically improved the look of the space. This portion of the project was fast and simple with only a few tools needed. Crown Molding

    We finished off this long portion of the project by painting the walls to match the cabinets and backsplash. The same color we used on the cabinet (Snowbound SW 7004) brightened up the room and brought the whole space cleanly together. It’s amazing how much a coat of paint changes the feel of the space.

    Lowe's Faucet Install

    Kitchen Faucet

    Time: 1 hour

    Cost: $300

    The new pull-down faucet was the final project on my list, and thankfully it didn’t put up much of a fight. With a simple faucet wrench, some sealant tape and plumber's putty the installation was a fast switch and really added a nice pop to the kitchen, especially when doing dishes at the sink. Here’s a great tutorial from Lowe’s on how to replace a faucet, we'll have pictures of the shiny new faucet in the reveal post!Tile Backsplash

    I can’t wait to get some great meals cooked in the new kitchen. There are a few original recipes centered around our cast iron pan that I’ve been saving for a special occasion and the first few meals on shiny professional appliances seems like the perfect opportunity. Gone are the days of uneven heating, and haphazard roasting controls! And, we’re finally past playing food Tetris to get the grocery run into the refrigerator. Since we spend so much time as a family gathered around meals, it’s amazing how a kitchen update makes the entire house feel brand new again. Now the next (and most important) step is to make some great food and spend some quality time sharing it with friends.

    I’ll be back next week with the full reveal, and I’ll also be sharing some original recipes my wife and I came up with, just to give you a sense for how functional the kitchen has become. Stay tuned!

    This post is sponsored by Frigidaire Professional, but all opinions are mine alone. Thanks for supporting the brands that support ManMade and Curbly.


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    Frigidaire Professional DIY kitchen upgrade.


    After a few weeks of hard work and creative DIYs, David is finally ready to share his completed kitchen with us. In case you missed the earlier parts of this series, here's the before post, and here's the step-by-step process post. David teamed up with Frigidaire to put some brand new professional-grade appliances into the space, and combined that with a few fairly simple DIY upgrades that completely transformed the space. Read on for all the pretty pics... 

    From David via ManMadeDIY:

    created at: 05/27/2015

    The kitchen is the center of the home. It's arguably the most important room in the house, and, for many of us, it's the room that gets the most use. Unfortunately, my kitchen was kind of a bummer. Like the weird roommate you got stuck with your freshman year of college - you know, the one who never left the room and sort of started to blend into the beige cinderblock walls after awhile - that was my kitchen. 

    So, after years of living with the basic and boring, I decided I'd had enough. So, I set out to upgrade the room with new Frigidaire Professional appliances and a bunch of DIY projects and repairs to transform it into something dramatically different.

    Frigidaire Kitchen Upgrade Revealed
    After several busy weeks of work, I'm thrilled to share the final reveal with you today. Here we go! (To catch up on everything we did, check out the first two posts: the planning, and the process)Galley kitchen - left side with professional appliances

    The great thing about the appliance upgrade was that it only involved delivery and a simple switch-out. The new appliances took up the same footprint as the old ones, so once that Lowe's truck showed up, it was a fast transformation to the new, shiny Frigidaire Professional collection. 

    This project was interesting, because once we started upgrading, it materialized quickly. Painting the cabinetry consumed the bulk of our time, but the other DIY projects happened quickly and made a substantial impact on the look and feel of the room.

    Painted cabinetry with added crown molding

    The skylight was an easy and impressive improvement, and brought tons of natural light into the space.

    A DIY skylight adds a ton of natural light

    A simple faucet switch-out made the whole sink look new.

    New faucet

    Faucet in use

     With the painted cabinets installed, we were so excited to see the new stainless steel show up. Lowe's delivered everything to the front door, and within a few hours it was set up and we were cooking our first meal.

    The difference professional-quality appliances make on both ease of cooking and the tasty results is hard to describe; cooking with them was, seriously and honestly, a completely different experience. Not only was it simpler to get great results, but the ease of use and cleanup made dinnertime fun again in our house (and all the appliances have a Smudge-Proof Stainless Steel feature that resists fingerprints and makes them really easy to clean).

    Frigidaire Stove

    The most impressive upgrades were the stove and refrigerator. The stove replaced a glass-top electric range and the switch to gas was a major change. Pans heat up fast and evenly, and the control is exceptional. The Frigidaire Professional range has great burners, cleanly laid out controls,  heavy-duty control knobs, and it just feels like high quality tool. 

    Stove detail

    The refrigerator has so much storage, adjustable shelves, and makes a substantial amount of ice quickly, which is perfect for when guests come over. The two large ice makers filled up over the course of a day, and kept up with demand easily.

    Frigidaire Professional French door refrigerator

    The new microwave hood added a feature we didn’t know we needed until it came along: a convection oven mode. This allows the microwave to become a small electric convection oven that works well for small jobs that don’t justify heating up the large gas oven. We cooked sweet potatoes and chocolate chip cookies in it the first night and both turned out perfectly in about the same amount of time as the larger oven. This is a great feature to use as a warming area while prepping a meal for guests to keep everything an even temperature.

    Frigidaire Microwave Hood

    Frigidaire Professional microwave

    Convection mode for cooking sweet potatoes

    The soft LED lights on all the appliances are a huge upgrade from the old yellow bulbs, and even though it may seem like a small change, the crisp white glow makes everything easier to see. Another great feature we didn’t expect were the audio alerts on the appliances. No more obnoxious timer noises, now there are soft beeps that do the trick just fine, and without the rancorous 80s electric blams.

    The dishwasher upgrades we most enjoy are the clean front with hidden top touch buttons, adjustable racks, and 30 minute quick cycle.

    Frigidaire Dishwasher

    Full Product List:

      

    This project was a big undertaking, but we totally love it. It’s brighter, more functional, and when we're in there, it just feels like a great kitchen should feel. It’s such a great space where family gathers, friends are fed, and life is lived. And, that's what a kitchen is all about. 

    This post is sponsored by Frigidaire Professional, but all opinions are mine alone. Thanks for supporting the brands that support ManMade and Curbly.


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    Last Minute Father's Day Gift Guide

    Father's Day is this Sunday. Are you ready to treat 'yo dad, grandpa, husband, baby daddy? If not, we've got you covered with seven man-happy gifts you can order online this week in time for Father's Day. Read on for the full list!

     

    Hammock


    1. A Hammock/Napping Chair
    Imagine your dad in this napping chair relaxing the afternoon away.
    Note: You'll have to expedite the shipping on this item, but if you act quickly it'll only cost you $10.

     

    Wool Throw


    2. A Wool Throw Blanket
    Fairbault Woolen Mill blankets are a luxury. This Minneapolis City Map throw is my favorite because it's a nod to my dad's birthplace.
    Note: Expedited shipping will run you about $16.

    Nike Shoes


    3. A New Pair of Kicks 
    You'll never go wrong with a classic pair of sneakers. These Nike Toki Textile Low's come in a variety of colors and ship quickly.
    Note: Even though Zappos guarantees delivery within 4-5 business days, every time I place an order with them, it arrives on my doorstep the next day. It's like a magic trick. 

    Waffle Iron


    4. A Belgian Waffle Iron
    Is there a man - or any person, for that matter - in your life that doesn't love a belgian waffle? I know the answer is no. And, this waffle iron will ship so quickly (especially with an Amazon Prime account) that you can make him waffles on his special day!

    Cookbook


    5. A Cookbook
    Boasting 100 essential recipes, Food52 Recipes might be the bible of all cookbooks. 
    Note: This is another Amazon goodie that will ship fast with a Prime Account, but still arrive in time without one.
     

    Moscow Mules


    6. A Set of Moscow Mules
    These days, it seems to me everyone is drinking moscow mules out of a moscow mule. Buy your guy a set and throw in all the fixings for this signature cocktail (here's a great recipe).
    Note: This cup is available for store pickup at most Crate & Barrel stores. If there's not one in your neck of the woods, it'll ship to you in 3-5 business days for about $17.

    Dopp Kit


    7. A Leather Dopp Kit
    Your dad needs a place to stash all of his goods when he travels. This leather dopp kit from Billykirk is a classic piece that will go with him around the world. 
    Note: Expedited shipping for this dopp kit is $16. 
     


     


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    DIY Live Edge Wood Desk Organizer

    If you follow us on Instagram (and you should!), you're privy to the hints we've been dropping about our new Curbly Headquarters in Minneapolis (the word 'headquarters' sounds so commanding; I'm sticking with it). After sharing a co-working space for the last few years, we finally decided it was time to rent a space of our own and we're very excited to share it with you in a few weeks. 

    Amid the new coats of paint, the recovered chairs, and the IKEA-hacked furniture, we've been working on some smaller projects that will make the new office our own. We teamed up with Minwax to create a desk organizer that brings just the right amount of woodsy beauty and OCD organization to my desktop. Read on to see how we did it! 

    You don't need a ton of woodworking skills or tools to make this project come together. We used a router for some of the trickier stuff, but you could easily forego those steps and do the whole project with a drill and a jigsaw.

    We loved using the Minwax Wood Finishing Cloths to apply a one-step stain and finish to our project. For a small DIY like this, they're perfect: 1-hour dry-time, soap-and-water cleanup, and plastic gloves are even included in the package.

    Here's the step-by-step...

    Materials


    Supplies:

    Step-by-Step:

    1. Figure out how wide you want your organizer to be. This will depend on how much stuff you want to put in it! In my case, 14 inches felt about right (we mocked it up in cardboard first to make sure). Measure twice, mark the cut line in pencil with a speed square (or a ruler) and make the cut (we used a miter saw, but a jigsaw works too).

    measure

    2. Next, you'll want to lay out all the organizer holes on your wood. We opted for a few pencil slots, one wide slot for scissors and the like, a slot for a phone, and a little tray for sunglasses/keys. There are no rules here, just try to balance the empty space and make things even and consistent. 

    3. (Optional) Next, we used a router with a bowl bit to cut out some little receivers for the pen and pencil slots. This isn't really necessary, but it keeps things from slipping around. We also routed out a tray for sunglasses (using a guide to keep our lines straight and make a nice rectangle). This takes some practice, so if you go for it, we suggest a few trial runs on scrap wood first.

    We rigged up a guide to cut the top and right side of the tray. Then we moved the guides to cut the bottom and left sides, and removed all the center material.

    (We also used our router with a plunge bit to cut out a stopped slot for my phone. Easy to do if you have a router, but again, practice first!)

    4. Time to drill the holes in the top piece of wood! Any time you want to drill a clean, finished hole in wood, you'll want to have a piece of scrap over the entry and exit (this stops the bit from blowing out the fibers of the wood when it goes in and out of the material).

    Another tip for drilling nice, vertical holes by hand (i.e. without a drill press) is to whip up a simple little jig (as pictured). 

    After the pencil/pen holes were drilled, we put four stopped holes on the top of the bottom piece, and the bottom of the top piece. These holes were the receivers for the brass tubing that held the project together. To drill stopped holes at a consistent depth, create a drill stop by wrapping tape around your bit, as shown.

    5. With all the holes and trays drilled, it's time to sand the whole piece down.

    6. We tested a few different shades on a piece of scrap wood. We settled on the Maple color. 

    7. The Minwax Wood Finishing Cloths make wood finishing projects like this really easy with minimal clean up. The cloths come in bags that open up like baby wipes (NOT BABY WIPES THOUGH! DON'T USE THEM THAT WAY!). You just put on the gloves (they're included) and grab a pre-moistened cloth, and get to work. In about an hour the stain and finish is dry and ready for another coat (if desired - we liked how our project looked after one coat). 

    A really nice thing is that the Wood Finishing Cloths include wood stain and polyurethane protection in one step, so you don't need to add a clear coat after you stain your wood. 

    Using the Minwax Wood Finishing Cloths
    (Sorry for the weird color tone on these pics ... I think something about the overhead lighting didn't agree with our camera)

    8. Finally, put the top and bottom together by inserting the brass tubes into the stopped holes. You could use super glue or epoxy to hold them in there, but honestly, ours felt quite sturdy without any adhesive. 

    I'm in love with this little organizer. Just have a look at it from all of these angles!
     

      

      

      

    What do you think of this organizer? Do you have any good DIY desk organization ideas? Let me know in the comments!

    We partnered with Minwax to create this project. All words, images, and opinions are mine alone. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Curbly!


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    The Curbly HQ makeover is done. Here's the tour!

    Working from home is the greatest thing in the world, except when it's not. Our little Curbly unit had a great thing going for a long time, but then Bruno and I had children, and they made working from home more like working-in-10-minute-increments-from-home-all-the-live-long-day.

    So, we found a little space a few blocks from our house and set out to make it our own. It has been an adventure and we've been going full tilt for the last six weeks. The space is complete and we're excited to share it with you - come have a look!
     
    For most of the nine years Curbly has been around (Wow! Nine!), Bruno and I - and our beloved editor, Chris - have been working from home offices, sofas, and dining room tables. Our cast of awesome contributors also have their own work spaces (we all 'grammed our office spaces earlier this year, check out the #curblywhereiwork hashtag here). It works well because we're spread across the US and everyone kinda has their own work space preference.

    But, working from home with kids became challenging. We were forever making sandwiches and wiping heinies. And, those are terrible things to partner with writing, making, phone calling, and photographing. 

    We hoped to find an office space within walking distance of our house and close to our kids' schools. This spring, we finally found our spot. In its last iteration, our space looked a little something like this:

    Unstylish bones, but we could see the potential. Our favorite things about it were:

    1. The highest of high ceilings: They're 15+ feet tall and make the space feel much larger than it is.
    2. The big windows: We get loads of diffused sunlight, which is the very best kind of light for color selection and photography
    3. The location: A walking commute is the only kind Bruno would even consider.

    In a matter of weeks the space went from this:

    The Curbly Office - before



    To this:

    Curbly Headquarters Studio Tour

    Curbly Headquarters - Desks

     
     

    Curbly Headquarters - Desk Close-Up

    Curbly Headquarters - Studio Tour, Clipboard Wall


     

    Curbly Headquarters - Shelving

    Curbly Headquarters - Desk Close-Up

    Here are the things we love most about the new space:

    1. It's bright and light and it makes us feel happy. As hackneyed as that sounds, it's true. Having our own space to write, code, work, talk, brainstorm, meet, plan, create is refreshing and exciting. 
    2. It holds all of our things. I love it so much when things have a place. I love color-coding. I love organization. I love pretty. This place is basically a visual representation of my lovefest.
    3. The whole room (which is on the small side), feels open and airy. Fresh coats of paint and lots of wood tones give it warmth and make it homey.
    4. The bronze metallic details add a little razzle-dazzle charm that I love. Everyone who enters the office inquires about the desks because those Prettypegs legs are for the ages. The bronze pharmacy lamps (from LampsPlus) are the best because they bookend the desks, and don't take up any extra space on the desktops.
    5. For the first time in our lives, we did not over-think the design of the space. 
    6. The rug. We asked our friends at Loloi Rugs for a suggestion ... something that would feel timeless, vintage, and warm; they came through with the Nyla rug. If there were a fire in the building, I would roll up that rug and take it with me - that's how much I love it.

    A note about over-thinking design: I always favor simple and useful, but that's a hard mantra to repeat when you start from scratch. I think the simplicity of the space and its small size drove the design. While we wanted it to be pretty, we needed it to be functional. 

    We had four walls that were refreshed with white paint, and we had new plank flooring and light fixtures installed. Other than that, we just worked from a simple color palette (heavily inspired by our Curbly redesign project with our friends at Studio MPLS ... more on that coming soon). And, thar she blew:

    Love Where You Live Wall Art

    Curbly Headquarters - Work Table, Words to Live By


     

    Curbly Headquarters - Studio Tour

    Hanging air plants in glass cloches

    Curbly Headquarters - Air Plants Installation

    With six weeks to plan the space (two of which were tied up with painting and flooring), the transformation was like a super-fast, painless puberty; which is really a great - albeit awkward - metaphor for the current state of Curbly. We're making thoughtful changes, we're moving at a clip, and we're excited to share it with you. 

    Here's a complete source list. Thanks for being a part of our big adventure!

    Wall Color: Sherwin-Williams Extra White (SW 7006)
    Desks: IKEA LINNMON Table Top + Prettypegs Estelle Table Legs in Teak 
    Rug: Loloi Nyla Rug in Slate
    Desk Floor Lamps: Antique Brass Pharmacy Floor Lamp
    Work Table: IKEA HAMMARP Counter Top + Vintage hairpin legs
    Side Table: We got this table from Blue Ocean Traders long ago; here's another option
    Tabletop Lamps: Color Plus Naval Wexler Lamp (work table), Color Plus Aqua-Sphere Wexler Table Lamp (side table)
    Chairs: Vintage Knoll chairs (recovered)
    Storage Bins: Wire Crate + Basket
    Air Plants + Hanging Terrariums: Hinterland Trading Collector's Edition Set + Oval Globes + Orb and Heartshape
    Hanging Paper Roll: Up Against the Wall Paper Roll 
    Wooden Desk Organizer: Check out the DIY here!
    Wire Cubes: Brass set
    Radio: Tivoli Model One 
    Acrylic Shelving (above work table): Pretty Display Invisible Acrylic Nail Polish Rack
    Pouf: Pull Up a Pouf (Grey Variegated)
    'Hey, Monday!': Made with these stickers.
    'Do it Yourself' Letterpress Print: Starshaped Press




     


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    DIY Live Edge Wood Desk Organizer

    If you follow us on Instagram (and you should!), you're privy to the hints we've been dropping about our new Curbly Headquarters in Minneapolis (the word 'headquarters' sounds so commanding; I'm sticking with it). After sharing a co-working space for the last few years, we finally decided it was time to rent a space of our own and we're very excited to share it with you in a few weeks. 

    Amid the new coats of paint, the recovered chairs, and the IKEA-hacked furniture, we've been working on some smaller projects that will make the new office our own. We teamed up with Minwax to create a desk organizer that brings just the right amount of woodsy beauty and OCD organization to my desktop. Read on to see how we did it! 

    You don't need a ton of woodworking skills or tools to make this project come together. We used a router for some of the trickier stuff, but you could easily forego those steps and do the whole project with a drill and a jigsaw.

    We loved using the Minwax Wood Finishing Cloths to apply a one-step stain and finish to our project. For a small DIY like this, they're perfect: 1-hour dry-time, soap-and-water cleanup, and plastic gloves are even included in the package.

    Here's the step-by-step...

    Materials


    Supplies:

    Step-by-Step:

    1. Figure out how wide you want your organizer to be. This will depend on how much stuff you want to put in it! In my case, 14 inches felt about right (we mocked it up in cardboard first to make sure). Measure twice, mark the cut line in pencil with a speed square (or a ruler) and make the cut (we used a miter saw, but a jigsaw works too).

    measure

    2. Next, you'll want to lay out all the organizer holes on your wood. We opted for a few pencil slots, one wide slot for scissors and the like, a slot for a phone, and a little tray for sunglasses/keys. There are no rules here, just try to balance the empty space and make things even and consistent. 

    3. (Optional) Next, we used a router with a bowl bit to cut out some little receivers for the pen and pencil slots. This isn't really necessary, but it keeps things from slipping around. We also routed out a tray for sunglasses (using a guide to keep our lines straight and make a nice rectangle). This takes some practice, so if you go for it, we suggest a few trial runs on scrap wood first.

    We rigged up a guide to cut the top and right side of the tray. Then we moved the guides to cut the bottom and left sides, and removed all the center material.

    (We also used our router with a plunge bit to cut out a stopped slot for my phone. Easy to do if you have a router, but again, practice first!)

    4. Time to drill the holes in the top piece of wood! Any time you want to drill a clean, finished hole in wood, you'll want to have a piece of scrap over the entry and exit (this stops the bit from blowing out the fibers of the wood when it goes in and out of the material).

    Another tip for drilling nice, vertical holes by hand (i.e. without a drill press) is to whip up a simple little jig (as pictured). 

    After the pencil/pen holes were drilled, we put four stopped holes on the top of the bottom piece, and the bottom of the top piece. These holes were the receivers for the brass tubing that held the project together. To drill stopped holes at a consistent depth, create a drill stop by wrapping tape around your bit, as shown.

    5. With all the holes and trays drilled, it's time to sand the whole piece down.

    6. We tested a few different shades on a piece of scrap wood. We settled on the Maple color. 

    7. The Minwax Wood Finishing Cloths make wood finishing projects like this really easy with minimal clean up. The cloths come in bags that open up like baby wipes (NOT BABY WIPES THOUGH! DON'T USE THEM THAT WAY!). You just put on the gloves (they're included) and grab a pre-moistened cloth, and get to work. In about an hour the stain and finish is dry and ready for another coat (if desired - we liked how our project looked after one coat). 

    A really nice thing is that the Wood Finishing Cloths include wood stain and polyurethane protection in one step, so you don't need to add a clear coat after you stain your wood. 

    Using the Minwax Wood Finishing Cloths
    (Sorry for the weird color tone on these pics ... I think something about the overhead lighting didn't agree with our camera)

    8. Finally, put the top and bottom together by inserting the brass tubes into the stopped holes. You could use super glue or epoxy to hold them in there, but honestly, ours felt quite sturdy without any adhesive. 

    I'm in love with this little organizer. Just have a look at it from all of these angles!
     

      

      

      

    What do you think of this organizer? Do you have any good DIY desk organization ideas? Let me know in the comments!

    We partnered with Minwax to create this project. All words, images, and opinions are mine alone. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Curbly!


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    Make a DIY concrete and cedar outdoor bench

    Lately I've had benches on the mind; they're sort of like the grandfather of all seating furniture. I mean, when you think about it, almost anything's a bench, if you just find a way to sit on it. So I started looking for DIY bench ideas to try. Specifically, I wanted something of the concrete-and-wood variety, with a sleek profile and a sturdy frame. Read on to hear all about it.
     

    Folks have been making benches since caveman times (I mean, I assume that's true ... right?). They're handy pieces of furniture. And because they're casual and functional, they're pretty easy to DIY. 

    Bruno and I been interested in dabbling with concrete for a while now, and after much thinking and Pinterest-browsing, we decided to build a simple bench out of concrete and good old fashioned cedar.

    The result was a simple, sleek bench that's super-sturdy and useful. Here's the step-by-step we followed:

    Materials:

    • 3 - 80-lb. bags of Quikrete® Countertop Mix 
    • 1 - 2"x10" cedar board (cedar naturally resists rot and mold, and is perfect for use outdoors)
    • 1 - 2'x4' sheet of melamine (from the closet shelving aisle)
    • 3 - 1x4x8 finished MDF boards 
    • Angle grinder & sanding pads - (optional) to smooth/polish your concrete

    Note: We teamed up with Quikrete® on this project, so we wanted to try out their countertop concrete mix, which has an additive that lets the mixed concrete flow and consolidate better at a lower water-to-cement ratio. It's great for, duh, countertops, but also any other concrete project where you want a really nice finish.

    Concrete bench steps

    Step-by-Step:

    1. Create molds out of melamine to make the concrete bench legs. We wanted our bench legs to be 17"x23" rectangles with a 3"x11" void left open for the cedar board to sit in. 

    Here's how Bruno laid our our forms (your bench might vary, but the idea is the same):

    Concrete bench form layout
    We put our bench seat at 19" off the floor (pretty standard). 

    A few things to remember about about making concrete forms:

    • Make sure you use melamine (or a similarly coated material). The smooth, impermeable coating makes it easier to pull the forms away from the concrete later on
    • Don't make the inside of the mold the way Bruno did (pictured above)! If you do, you'll just be encasing the melamine in concrete! Instead, make the inside rectangles as little boxes, with four sides and a little space in the middle. Or you can user rigid foam for the bench cut-outs; it's easier to remove.
    • We used a Kreg Jig and coarse-threaded screws to put the forms together. You could also use a nail gun and 18-gauge nails.

    Once the form is assembled, make sure to seal all the seams with latex caulk (you need your form to be watertight so none of the concrete mix runs out). 

    2. Mix your concrete. Since we weren't using huge quantities, we opted to hand-mix our concrete in a wheelbarrow. Start by pouring the bag into the wheelbarrow, then create a trough in the middle of the dry mix. Then pour the water in (follow the directions on the bag to figure out how much water you need).

    Mix thoroughly with a shovel or hoe until the mix has the consistency of thick, lumpy oatmeal. Don't over-mix it and don't add too much water! This is where you could also add liquid cement (to the mixing water) for a decorative touch. 

    Please! Wear gloves, goggles, and a mask when doing this. You don't want to get this stuff all over your skin, in your eyes, or in your lungs.

    3. Spray your forms with a concrete release agent (or some Pam cooking oil). Then pour the concrete. Well, not so much 'pour' as 'lump' it into the form. Starting in a corner, fill up the molds with concrete. Make sure you really push it into all the corners and narrow areas. 

    4. Use a power tool (or a rubber mallet) to vibrate the form. This will help get some of the air bubbles out of the concrete. We used a reciprocating saw (with no blade inserted, of course), but a hand sander would also work fine. 

    5. Screed the concrete. Take a scrap 2x4 (or other straight, sturdy board) and pull it over the form to remove the extra material. This is really more of a 'sawing' motion than a pure 'pulling' motion. You'll need to move the screed board back and forth (side-to-side) while you pull it along the length of the form.

    6. Let the concrete set until the 'bleed' (excess water) is re-absorbed. Once the water is gone and the material is quite stiff (a firm thumb press should leave only a 1/4" impression), you can start finishing it. Float the concrete using an aluminum or magnesium trowel. This takes a little practice using a gentle touch.

    7. Let the concrete cure for at least 24 hours. Then remove the forms. If all went well, they should pop off pretty easily.

    At this point, you can choose whether you want to polish/grind the concrete any further. If you do want to, an angle grinder fitter with a series of concrete polishing pads is a good way to go. If you dry-polish, make sure you have really good ventilation (don't do it indoors). Wet polishing will keep down the dust, but gets also pretty messy. Concrete dust is not good for you, so be sure to use appropriate safety precautions.

    8. Cut your cedar plank to the desired length. We made ours 5-ft. long. 

    9. Lightly sand and oil the wood. Then slide your cedar plank into the concrete bases. Ours was a tight fit and a rubber mallet was helpful during this step.

    Take a seat on your new bench and admire your handiwork!

    Concrete bench with cedar plank benchtop

    Here are a few more shots of our bench in action:

    Concrete and cedar bench close up

    DIY Concrete and cedar bench

    Concrete Bench DIY

    For those curious, the wool blanket is by Edinburgh

    We partnered with Quikrete to create this bench. All opinions, words, and images are mine alone. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Curbly!


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    Photo: Bruno Bornsztein

    This year, a group of Curbly contributors and editors got together to create an series of DIY decor and entertaining projects using that iconic symbol of the season: the pumpkin. We'll be sharing our creations for the Curbly Pumpkin Challenge each day this week. Happy Fall.

    The best school assignment in the world is the diorama. It's an indisputable fact: Gathering tiny objects and assembling them into a scene is delightfully gratifying.  

    For our Halloween pumpkin challenge, we decided to do a take on the diorama after being inspired by this die-o-rama from The Art of Doing Stuff, and this terrarium by The Paper Mama.

    We bought a family set of foam pumpkins from our local craft shop and decided to make a distinct scene in each one. Our themes were: Fairies (our 5-year-old daughter's brainchild), Space, and the Arctic.

    Here's what we used to create our pumpkin scenes:

    • Foam Craft Pumpkins (4)
    • Acrylic Craft Paint + Brushes (for painting the interiors of the pumpkins)
    • TOOB Figurines (Fairies, Space, Arctic)
    • Knick-knacks and Paddy-whacks to enhance your scene (e.g. moss, silk flowers, stickers, lights, etc.)
    • LED candles to light your scene

    Here's what we did to make our scenes:

    1. Trace a circle on a craft pumpkin to help guide your cut.

      Making a Pumpkin Diorama // Curbly.com

      Making a Pumpkin Diorama // Curbly.com
    2. Cut out the shape using an X-acto knife. Note: The interior of the pumpkin smells a lot like a jar of Maraschino cherries.
      Making a Pumpkin Diorama // Curbly.com
    3. Paint the interior of pumpkin. Note: Ours took the better part of a day to fully dry.
      Making a Pumpkin Diorama // Curbly.com
      Making a Pumpkin Diorama // Curbly.com
    4. Place your pumpkin fillers inside. We found that using toothpicks and wire to hold figures in place works well with the foam pumpkin.

      Making a Pumpkin Diorama // Curbly.com

      Making a Pumpkin Diorama // Curbly.com
    5. Light your scene using LED candles. Note: We used battery powered string lights to light our space scene. To do this we simply drilled holes into the pumpkin and threaded a light through each hole.

    And here are close-ups of our finished pumpkins!

    The best part of this project was the fact that it was virtually mess-free; no pumpkin guts, no kid burn out. The end results are also pretty magical - we can't wait to adorn our front stoop with these pumpkin dioramas on Halloween night! 

    This post originally published in October 2014. But, we're bringing it back because pumpkin dioramas are timeless. Don't forget to check out all the other entries in the Curbly Pumpkin Challenge!
     


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    We'd like to help decorate your home for the holidays!


    We have a very exciting announcement to share with you! This holiday season we're partnering with Lowe's to deck all of your halls … or living rooms, or dining rooms, etc. We'll select one applicant, arrive on their doorstep, and refresh and decorate one room in their home with goodies from Lowe's. Read on to find out how to apply (and get right on it, people; you only have two days!).

    The holiday season is my favorite time of year. It's magical. It's cozy. It's festive. You get to decorate every corner of your house! What could be better?

    DIY modern advent village

    If you're looking to transform part of your home and make it magically festive for the holidays, we want to help you! Here's what you'll get:

    • A visit from us (Bruno and Alicia, Curbly founders)! We'll help you design and execute a full room (or exterior) refresh just in time for the holidays.
    • Lots of Lowe's products to make it happen.
    • A team of Lowe's volunteers to help transform your space.
    • Your redesigned space featured on Curbly and all over the interwebs!

    DIY glowing cloches

    Here's why we're your holiday design dream team:

    • We solemnly swear to come up with something beautiful for your home. Promise. 
    • Room makeovers are our bread and butter. With a cherry on top. 
    • Bruno's a super handy guy; he'll be in the trenches rolling paint, assembling furniture, and untangling string lights.
    • Alicia's the one with visions of sugar plums: big pictures, little details, and design sixth sense.

    What's on our design mind this season?

    For this project, we're feeling nostalgic for a return to more traditional holiday decor. Yes to red and green (and white and blue). Yes to shimmery metallics. And certainly yes to some cozy textures pulled from nature. All things Scandinavian and hygge. 

    Basically, we want your house to have all the holiday things in small, beautiful doses. We want it to look like a perfect pot roast smells. Are you excited? We are!

    Take a gander at some of the rooms we've done in the past (to get a sense of our style). And, check out some of the holiday trends we're excited about this season. 

    You can take a full tour of the Curbly House.

    The Curbly House Tour

     
    Here are some of the holiday designs inspiring us!

    Photos: Centsational Girl, Hank & Hunt, Martha Stewart

    Photos: Rose & Ivy, Brit+Co,  Martin Solyst for Erik Bjom & Ko

    Photos: Martha Stewart, Ballard Designs

    How To Apply (hurry, applications must be in by October 8th!)

    To be eligible, you:

    • Should be looking to fix up a space in your residence (projects should be able to be completed within 24 hours) 
    • Must own your home
    • Should be outgoing, energetic, and fun with unique stories to tell (comfortable being on camera and/or interviewed by local media).
    • Must be able to make quick decisions in order to keep tight timelines.
    • Must be available for a two-day period to complete the makeover (between 11/1/15 and 11/23/15).
    • Understand that photos of your home will be shared online.
    • Must be 21 years of age or older.
    • Must live in the United States.

    Click here to apply now!

    (We will only contact eligible participants)

    This post is sponsored by Lowe's. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Curbly!
     


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    May we deck your halls this holiday season?

    We have the exciting opportunity to choose one Curbly reader and decorate a room in their home for the holidays! We're partnering with Lowe's to deck your halls and all you have to do is apply!

    But, guess what? The clock is ticking. All applications are due on October 8th! So, get up on it, friends. Here's everything you need to know and some pretty pictures to inspire you!
     
    Here at Curbly HQ, the holidays are our favorite time of year. We love the cozy, warm feelings they evoke and we want to bring a little bit of that to your home. We could conjure up a little Home Alone:

    Home Alone Living Room
    Photo: 20th Century Fox

    Or, National Lampoon the exterior of your home:

    National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
    Photo: Warner Bros.


    Or, we could just go with some classic holiday charm:

    May we deck your halls this holiday season?

    May we deck your halls this holiday season?


    For all the details about the project, you can check out yesterday's post. If you want to get right down to it, all the pertinent information is below. 

    Applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • You are looking to fix up a space in your residence (projects should be able to be completed within 24 hours) 
    • You must own your home
    • You should be outgoing, energetic, and fun with unique stories to tell (comfortable being on camera and/or interviewed by local media).
    • You must be able to make quick decisions in order to keep tight timelines.
    • You must be available for a two-day period to complete the makeover (between 11/1/15 and 11/23/15).
    • You understand that photos of your home will be shared online.
    • You must be 21 years of age or older.
    • You must live in the United States. Anywhere in the US! We'll fly to you!

    Click here to apply now!

    (We will only contact eligible participants)


    This post is sponsored by Lowe's. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Curbly!


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  • 10/07/15--11:30: DIY Halloween Curio Boxes
  • DIY Halloween Curio Boxes


    Halloween is coming, and with it an explosion of orange and black. The holiday's signature colors may be my least favorite color combination of all time. So, I put them in a box and it made all the difference. 

    To make your own set of Halloween curios, here's what you'll need:

    Supplies:

    • Paper mache or wooden curio box. I found mine at Michaels for less than $10. Here are some similar options - house and rectangle
    • Acrylic paint. I used Liquitex in grey, white, and gold.
    • Foam brushes.
    • Halloween trinkets! Your local craft store will have a covey of these. You can also find a big collection here
       

    DIY Halloween Curio Boxes

    Step-by-Step:

    DIY Painted Paper Mache Curio Boxes for Halloween

    Paint your curio boxes. If you want to forgo the traditional black and orange like I did, opt for a more neutral color palette like grey, gold, and white. Along the way, I learned that paper mache requires many layers of paint. Many!

    Painted Halloween Curio Boxes

    Fill those boxes with your Halloween goodies. We housed a variety of objects in our Halloween curios. Everything from holiday-related items - like the PEZ dispenser, to orange cars that we had in the mix.

    Display your curios! We adhered ours to the wall with Command strips, but they would be adorable standing alone on a mantel atop your Edgar Allen Poe collection.  

    DIY Halloween Curio Boxes
    DIY Halloween Curio Boxes
    DIY Halloween Curio Boxes

    A few notes...

    • My favorite part about this project was that it was fun for my kids. They are still too young to seek out the gorey side of Halloween, but they love little trinkets and treasures. Collecting items to put in the curios was there favorite part of the project and they are forever moving things around and adding new treasures as they find them.
       
    • If you can find curio boxes made from wood, they will probably be much easier to paint. Because, as I mentioned above, there were many layers of paint put on the paper mache boxes I had. Spray paint may have been a better option for the base coat. 


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    Styled by Emily Henderson


    If you followed our Curbly House renovation over the last few years, you probably know the highlight was getting to work with designer and stylist, Emily Henderson, to makeover four rooms in our home in just five days. Trust me, just going vintage shopping with Emily is like a college-level course in design, styling, and good taste. Well, now Emily's out with her very first book, Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves, and it is absolutely spectacular (we got our hands on one a little early and have already read it cover to cover). 

    First, a little throwback: remember when Emily appeared on our doorstep (with her friend Orlando to lend a hand) and helped us magically transform our entire house!? Here's what happened:

    Curbly House living room styled by Emily Henderson
    Living Room - Photo: Melissa Oholendt
    Curbly House sunroom styled by Emily Henderson
    Sunroom- Photo: Melissa Oholendt
    Dining Room of the Curbly House, styled by Emily Henderson
    Dining Room- Photo: Melissa Oholendt
    Curbly House bedroom
    Bedroom- Photo: Melissa Oholendt

    We learned an incredible amount from Emily in our whirlwind week together; and, I daresay, that working with her has influenced us more (work and style-wise) than anything else we've done in the last five years. So, yeah, I think this book is pretty amazing. And, I think it will offer you a slice of what it's like to work with Emily. There won't be as much talk about 'Felicity', reality television, and you'll miss her rendition of, "Part of Your World" (from the Little Mermaid). But, your house will come out looking and feeling more like you, and that's a gift.

    Styled by Emily Henderson

    The book is filled with more than 1,000 unique styling ideas and 75 ridiculously beautiful rooms that'll inspire you embark on your own styling adventures. Here's some of what's in store:

    Styled by Emily Henderson

    Kitchen styling tips from Emily Henderson

    You can find Emily's book on Amazon ($18).


     


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    Styled by Emily Henderson


    If you followed our Curbly House renovation over the last few years, you probably know the highlight was getting to work with designer and stylist, Emily Henderson, to makeover four rooms in our home in just five days. Trust me, just going vintage shopping with Emily is like a college-level course in design, styling, and good taste. Well, now Emily's out with her very first book, Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves, and it is absolutely spectacular (we got our hands on one a little early and have already read it cover to cover). 

    First, a little throwback: remember when Emily appeared on our doorstep (with her friend Orlando to lend a hand) and helped us magically transform our entire house!? Here's what happened:

    Curbly House living room styled by Emily Henderson
    Living Room - Photo: Melissa Oholendt
    Curbly House sunroom styled by Emily Henderson
    Sunroom- Photo: Melissa Oholendt
    Dining Room of the Curbly House, styled by Emily Henderson
    Dining Room- Photo: Melissa Oholendt
    Curbly House bedroom
    Bedroom- Photo: Melissa Oholendt

    We learned an incredible amount from Emily in our whirlwind week together; and, I daresay, that working with her has influenced us more (work and style-wise) than anything else we've done in the last five years. So, yeah, I think this book is pretty amazing. And, I think it will offer you a slice of what it's like to work with Emily. There won't be as much talk about 'Felicity', reality television, and you'll miss her rendition of, "Part of Your World" (from the Little Mermaid). But, your house will come out looking and feeling more like you, and that's a gift.

    Styled by Emily Henderson

    The book is filled with more than 1,000 unique styling ideas and 75 ridiculously beautiful rooms that'll inspire you embark on your own styling adventures. Here's some of what's in store:

    Styled by Emily Henderson

    Kitchen styling tips from Emily Henderson

    You can find Emily's book on Amazon ($18).


     


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    How to make a DIY photo strip costume

    For this year's Curbly Halloween Challenge, we came up with a simple, classic costume that you can pull together in only a few hours. We made a life-size couple's photo booth costume that is as easy to do as it is charming. Read on to find out how. 

    There's something undoubtably adorable and nostalgic about a classic black-and-white strip of photos from a good ol' fashioned booth. We've all piled into them with friends, lovers, and maybe even strangers. They capture a moment in time;  there's no editing, no re-dos, and no telling how they'll turn out. All of these quirks add to the endearment of the experience and it's no wonder we hold onto these tokens forever.

    Lay out your pics and choose the best ones

    We came up with an easy life-size version of the classic photo strip and we're bringing it to our next Halloween party. Here's the scoop on how to make your own!



    Supplies:

    • 4 - 11x14" thin black picture frames. We ordered these thin profile plastic frames for around $9 a piece.
    • 3 - 11x14" prints of your faces. We took our pictures in front of a blank white wall; turned them black and white in Photoshop, and ordered them online from Costco. They were ready in an hour and cost $4 per print! Woot!
    • Craft adhesive. Our favorite is E6000 because it's strong! 

    How To:

    1. Arrange plastic frames in portrait format and glue together to form one long strip. 
      Glue the frames together

    2. Once frames are fully adhered and the glue is dry, insert photos. Our frames were front loaded, and we left the glass out of the frame to make the frames lighter and free of glass dangers.

    3. Leave the second frame from the top blank so you have a place to place your face. Our frames had plastic support strips across the back of the frame. We removed them with a hacksaw.

    4. Grab your partner!

    That's all, folks! Now, go be the life of the party with your photo strip and your Halloween honey!


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    LaZBoy Design Dash Sofa

    Preamble: What you are about to read is a very long post about a very fun design challenge we recently participated in. So, grab your favorite fall beverage, ease into your favorite chair, and read on...

    A few weeks ago Bruno and I flew to Greensboro, NC to partake in a WWE-style design throw down hosted by La-Z-Boy. By WWE-style throw-down, I actually mean to say that we had one of the most exciting 72 hours ever with some truly lovely people. Instead of WWE, it was more chambray shirts and leather boots; instead of throw-down, it was more lovefest. I was just trying to capture your attention.
     

    Upon our arrival in Greensboro, we were shuttled to the Proximity Hotel, a stunning, haunted hotel that has hosted the likes of Britney Spears. It was at the hotel that we met the La-Z-Boy team and the other design bloggers. Let me digress for a moment here to say that I am continually blown away by the kindness and talent of our blogging community. The blogosphere is so saturated and enormous that it's easy to feel anonymous and holed-up in your little corner of the Internet. When you get the opportunity to break out of your corner, meet other bloggers, production teams, and designers, you learn new things and add to your wheelhouse. 

    The Proximity Hotel
    Do you think Brit Brit stayed in the very same hotel room as we did? I thought about that all week long.

    After introductions (at least 50% of the people there were named Kelly), we all packed into a jumbo limo like a group of high schoolers heading to prom and made our way to the La-Z-Boy showroom at High Point Market. 

    We were hosted by Kelly Edwards (of Design on a Dime fame) who explained the rules. We received shopping carts, a roll of tape and color-coded tags, and began what is best described as a Supermarket Sweep-style race. We had one hour to make our way through an enormous two-story showroom. Armed with only 50 tags, there were a few hard-fought battles over items. It was a whirlwind, and when it was all over I hoped we hadn't exclusively tagged furry throws and bronze paperweights. 

    After the dash, we settled into a beautiful dinner with southern comfort food. It was a lovely end to the evening.

    The next morning, we made our way to Kreber Studio, a 245,000 production studio that was an amazing sight to behold.


    We were assigned a bay that was empty but for the couch we had designed months ago. This was the first time we laid eyes on our tufted Bijou sofa and all its blue beauty. Beside the sofa were stacked the 50 items we selected from the showroom. And, thus began the 6 hour scramble to arrange, style, and photograph our room. 

    A pile of ALL THE THINGS you tagged the night before is a sight to behold.

    We set up our space as though real people lived in it, and then we had 30 minutes with a camera crew who kindly showed us how everything looked on screen. And, the truth is, it looked awful. Really very terrible. You couldn't really see the furniture and the little details got muddled.

    The La-Z-Boy designers and Kreber production assistants really saved the day here and we ended up stretching out the entire room in a way that looked crazy in real life, but crazy beautiful on camera. It was a fascinating process that makes me want a part time job in production to learn from these masters.


    After our room was complete, we had 20 minutes to race through a prop room that is best described as a flea market on crack. It was filled with floor-to-ceiling metal shelving that was packed with vintage treasures, books and magazines galore, and enough brass instruments to fill a main line parade. A person could spend a year there and discover new treasures every single day.

    We selected a few items (mainly books, magazines, and geodes) and placed them in our space. And, that was all she wrote. We had one last celebratory night with new friends, toasts, and conviviality. 

    Here are a few more glimpses of our room to tide you over until voting officially begins on Monday, November 9th. We're excited to see the final shots of our room and we're excited for our readers and friends to see the style and variety of the La-Z-Boy line. 

    We'll send another recap on Monday when the voting opens. We want you to vote because one lucky voter will win $10,000 toward a La-Z-Boy room of their own. In the mean time, feast your eyes on these goodies - all from La-Z-Boy (please excuse my washed out phone photos here)! 

    A Sneak Peek at Our La-Z-Boy Design Dash Room


     


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    Bijou Sofa
    Before ...

    Last week we shared the story of our beautiful blue sofa and the adventures it inspired. Today we're back to show you that sofa in action and tell you everything you need to know about winning $10k in La-Z-Boy goods.  
     

    Curbly Living Room - La-Z-Boy Design Dash
    After

    Before we get into the details, here's a brief recap: The Design Dash began with a single sofa. Months ago, Bruno and I visited a La-Z-Boy showroom, searching for sofa silhouettes and fabrics. We chose the Bijou frame because we loved its classic lines, welting, and bench seat. We chose a deep indigo fabric (color: Baltic) because we liked the masculine layer it added to the softer lines of the sofa. You can read all about our Supermarket Sweep: Living Room Edition experience here.

    Now, let's get down to the nitty-gritty: Our finished room and the voting!

    Curbly Living Room - La-Z-Boy Design Dash

    Bijou Sofa

    La-Z-Boy, y'all... it's all from La-Z-Boy. Can you wrap your head around that? Because it took us a while to. Gone are the days of the barcalounger and the overstuffed sectional. The company has moved beyond those staples to include some truly eclectic pieces.  

    We titled our living room: Globe Trotter (mostly because we had 10 minutes and were feeling a titch punchy). We thought the room felt a little unexpected and a lot eclectic. Are you looking at that driftwood horse head? He was so rad. Hence, the pun (horse...trotter).

    To vote for our room (or one of the others; they're so different and so lovely) follow the link below. You can vote every single day through December 20th. Every time you cast a ballot, you'll be entered to win $10,000 in La-Z-Boy furniture. Giddy up!

    Design Dash Voting


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    10 MCM Gifts that are Handmade


    We love a good gift guide with a Mid-Century vibe. This year we've rounded up a collection of MCM gifts that are handmade. That's right; we've gathered a set of 10 gifts to delight the Mid-Century Modern enthusiast on your list.
     

    MCM Teardrop Shelf

    1. Teardrop Shelf.

    MCM Plant Hanger

    2. Plant Hanger.

    MCM Printable Art

    3. Midcentury Printable Art. (Here's another beauty. And, another.)

    MCM Walnut Magazine Rack

    4. Walnut Magazine Rack

    MCM Toss Pillow

    5. Toss Pillow
     

    MCM Whale Ring Holder

    6. Whale Ring Holder.
     

    MCM Hand-woven Tapestry

    7. Hand-Woven Tapestry. There are so many beautiful options in Eastknits Etsy Shop.
     

    MCM Clock

    8. Star Clock.
     

    MCM Cat Cuff

    9. Cat Cuff.
     

    MCM Teak Cufflinks


    10. Teak Cufflinks.


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    DIY Wood Block & Test Tube Advent Village
    Photo: Bruno Bornsztein

    It's advent calendar time! As I write this post, the Midwest is being walloped by a snow storm. Nothing inspires holiday decorating like many inches of snow, and to stave off decking all the halls, I created a little advent village for our children. Read on for the full tutorial.

    Using blocks of wood and test tubes, I assembled a village full of tiny treasures to help our family celebrate the season. The great thing about using test tubes is that it ensures each day's surprise is small.

    Creating your own advent village is simple. We originally created 24 houses for this project, but the result was overwhelming, so we scaled back to a set of seven houses (to represent each week leading up to Christmas). 

    Wood block advent village

     

     

    Materials for DIY wood block advent calendar

     

    Materials

     

    • Wood: We used Basswood carving blocks.
    • 24 Test Tubes + Cork Stoppers
    • Drill + 3/4" Forstner Bit
    • Miter Saw
    • Acrylic Paint: We used gold and white.
    • A set of number stickers.
    • Tiny treats to fill your tiny test tubes.

     

    Here's how to make it:

    1. Cut your wood to size. Our houses ranged in size from 3.5" to 6" tall, and were about 2" thick. 
    2. Drill your holes into the blocks of wood. We used a 3/4" bit. It's important to drill the holes before you create your angled roofs because it's much easier to keep your holes plumb this way.
    3. Cut angled roofs on your houses. I think it works best to create a variety of peaks, slants, angles. Because, you know, houses come in all shapes and sizes.
    4. Lightly sand your houses.
    5. Using painter's tape, mark off the areas you'd like to paint on each house.
    6. Paint your houses. We used white paint on the faces of the houses and gold paint on the rooftops.
    7. Fill your test tubes and place them in their homes!

     

     

     

    I used a variety of small treats to fill my tubes, and I'll share some of my favorites with you because it was a challenge to find goodies small enough to fit inside a standard test tube. 

     

     

    Tiny Treats for Test Tubes:

     

    • Edible Treats: Candy like M&Ms work well. Hot cocoa with marshmallows is another winner.
    • Crafts: I filled many tubes with beads and ribbons that came in $1 craft store sets. Some of these sets were too big to fit the test tube, so I placed only a part of them in the test tube (e.g. mini colored pencils).
    • Notes: In a few tubes, I placed a note indicating a special thing we'd do together as a family (e.g. "Bake cookies.", "Wrap presents.", "Take an evening drive to look at holiday lights."). Notes are also a great way to incorporate a service component into your calendar (e.g. "Shop for gifts for children and donate them to Toys for Tots"). I filled the tubes containing notes with confetti to make them more festive.

     

     

    The final result is a sweet village to help us count down the days until Christmas.

     

    If you like this how-to, do us a favor and share it on Pinterest:

    Pin this! DIY Wood Advent Calendar Village
    Thanks for helping us share this project on Pinterest!

     


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    Lowe's Holiday Makeover: Before

    The holidays are officially here and what better way to kick them off than a good ol' fashioned room makeover.  

    A few weeks ago, Bruno and I traveled to Overland Park, Kansas to make over a Curbly reader's home, courtesy of Lowe's. We spent two days with the Dickson family in their sweet, stylish home (Hi, Amber and Lucas!), transforming their living room for the holidays.    

    To begin, I should say the space had countless beautiful features: lofted ceilings, a natural stone fireplace, and an enviable collection of mid-century furniture. The Dickson's have great tastes.

    In addition to decking out the room for the holidays, we had a few goals in mind as we worked in the space. Amber and Lucas wanted to define the sitting area and make the fireplace a focal point. They also wanted to re-do the blue accent wall at the far end of the room. These were achievable goals for a 36-hour rendezvous, and it was an exciting flurry of a project. Here's a peek at how it unfolded...

    The room's transformation included MANY boxes from Lowe's, and a great team of volunteers.

     

    Bye-bye blue accent wall!
    Organizing a million pounds of Chrsitmas decor.
    How can you not smile whilst trimming a tree?
    It's impossible not to smile whilst trimming a tree.

    Here's a look at the room before:

    Lowe's Holiday Makeover: Before

    Lowe's Holiday Makeover: Before

    And, here's a look at the room after we got our hands on it:

    Lowe's Holiday Makeover After

    We defined the sitting area with a gorgeous gray wool rug that played off the wall color, and grounded and mellowed the entire room. The rug instantly made the space feel larger and made the seating area easy to define. 

    New rug from Lowe's
    That gorgeous gray rug is the perfect place for Milo and Levi to lounge.

    We moved the sofa and replaced one accent chair with a 9-ft. Christmas tree - holla' to the holidays! Once the season is over, a chair will easily replace the tree and the sitting area will still feel cohesive. We added a sofa table and a surfboard coffee table, and positioned everything toward the fireplace; because when you have a natural stone fireplace like that, you should look at it all the time.  

    Pre-lit Christmas tree

    The week before we arrived, Lucas surprised Amber with an orange womb chair for their 10th wedding anniversary. Little did he know it would be a very happy surprise for us too, and it certainly set the tone for the room. 

    Womb chair with orange color palette
    That chair! Oh, that chair!
    Can you spot our DIY paint-washed wood trees in there?

     

    Initially, our plan was to deck the room in mixed metals. Coppers, silvers, golds, and bronzes are having their moment, and they're easy to come by in Christmas fixings. Once we met that cozy, orange chair we knew it would be a statement piece, and we decided to play up the copper element and add some oranges here and there.

    We spray painted about a dozen glass ornaments orange, and we stenciled the accent wall with a herringbone print in a copper metallic paint. Oh, that accent wall. I could dedicate an ode to it and write a sonnet for it, and a haiku too. Because combined with those tulip chairs, and that DIY ladder (made from copper pipe fittings and a dowel by our super-handy Lowe's volunteer, Nick) it was all very, very good.

    Nick made the DIY blanket ladder faster than I have ever seen a human complete a DIY project in all my days. 
    Accent wall with stencil and DIY blanket ladder
    The copper accent wall inspired all sorts of poetry.

    Copper accent wall
    You shimmer like a penny
    And shine like a jewel

    In addition to re-configuring the space, we brought some subtle Christmas cheer to the living room. Given the fact that we were decorating the room well before the holidays, we wanted the decorations to fit the room and look pretty and light, not overwhelming. The mixed-metal palette worked like a charm for this intention. With the exception of some traditional garlands woven in here and there, the room stayed very neutral and airy.

    Have a look!

    Mantel with DIY branch hanging
    Stockings hung from white-washed brush we found in the yard.
    DIY blanket ladder
    A close-up of the dynamic copper duo - the Herringbone accent wall and the blanket ladder. 
    We dressed this tiered candleabra up with ornaments and glittered starbursts.

    The darling Dicksons!

    Here are the DIYs we followed for the makeover:

     

    • Forest of Colored Trees (We watered down our acrylic paint for this DIY so the wood grain came through.)
    • Copper + Wood Ladder (We recommend making sure your copper fittings match the size of your wooden dowels in the store; plumbing and wood measurements are calculated differently, so a 1-1/4" dowel will not fit a 1-1/4" copper fitting, etc.)

    Product List

     

      This makeover was sponsored by Lowe's. All words and opinions are mine alone. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Curbly.

       

             


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      10 Great gifts for DIY lovers
      Coming up with a gift for the maker in your life can be a challenge, because they're usually the ones trying to figure out how to make every gift they give. Instead of racking your brain, how about giving them something to help them along the way: because makers gonna make (but, ahem ... having the right tools and inspiration are essential to the makin'). 

      Dremel Multi-Max Tool Kit: This multi-tasking tool is great for cutting, sanding, grinding, and scraping. Your DIYer will find all sort of uses for it around the house.

      Hot Glue Gun Helpers: This kit makes working with a hot glue gun painless (literally! no more burnt fingertips!) 

       

       

       

       

       

      Scissor Necklace: Made from sterling silver, this charm necklace is a constant reminder of what every DIYer knows: Measure twice, Cut once...

       

      Dremel 4000 Rotary Tool Kit: From cutting, to carving, to cleaning - this rotary tool does it all. A must-have for all makers. The Dremel 4000 variable speed rotary tool offers the highest performance and most versatility of all Dremel rotary tools.

       

      To DIY For Box: DIYers thrive on inspiration. These mystery kits by Darby Smart are just the thing to inspire their next creation.

       

      Work Apron: An apron made from denim + leather is the only apron he'll ever need.

       

      F-Clamps: These little clamps are the only hand clamps she'll ever need. 

       

      A bottle cutter! You never know you need one until you have one, and then 

       

      Prismacolor Pencils: These artist-quality pencils are perfect for every level of expertise; and the colors are unmatched!

       

       

       

      This post is sponsored by Dremel. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Curbly. 

       


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