Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Trash to Treasure & A Second Winner!!!

So, because it's Wednesday and I about we go crazy and pick a SECOND winner of the chalkboard labels???!? With so many great comments and only one winner, it just didn't seem fair. So.....with the help of my two toddlers, we picked another random winner from last week's giveaway!!!

Anyway, lucky winner #2 is:
~Jenn~ said...

Hi Natalie!
DIY blogs are my FAVORITE and of course, my home is a HIP too, so I was thrilled to find your site. Looking forward to seeing and sharing some great projects!

Woo hoo! Jenn, email me at and we can figure out how to get your labels to you!
On to the project for today:
A new friend (thanks again, to Lindsay at Living with Lindsay) sent me the cutest before and after project of some barstools she joke....dumpster diving. I haven't gone there yet - but after seeing her cute and cheap transformation, maybe sometime soon???

Here's what Cindy had to say about her project:

I found this lovely pair of bar stools while dumpster diving.
I liked them because they were black as they would match the wrought iron look I have going on in the kitchen. I also liked that they were somewhat more compact and shorter than typical bar stools as I would be using them at the kitchen counter rather than an actual "bar". But really I loved them because they were free. Unfortunately, they had this small problem.

The original owner had used black electrical tape to cover one of the unsightly holes. And when my dad fixed one of the legs he added his own strip of electrical tape to the other one. However, over time that electrical tape disappeared and hitched a ride with someone - I'm not telling who, just know that I discreetly removed it from your backside and avoided embarrassment for you and for me.

So, with staple gun in hand (thanks Granddad!) I went to work covering these little gems.

Found this beautiful red and cream toile fabric in the clearance bin at Walmart for $4. It goes great in my red kitchen and there's plenty left over for more projects. Another dumpster dive success!

I totally love the transformation! Especially that fabric - that's a great tip to check the fabric in the clearance bin.

Thanks so much, Cindy! I love the projects - keep them coming you guys!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bath Cabinet Update (oh, and a winner....)

Thanks AGAIN for the fabulous comments and new followers! Now don't be shy and send me your projects! I did get a couple of great ones that I'm so excited to show you guys in the next week.

I'm so excited to announce the winner of the first ever (definitely more to was so fun reading everybody's comments!) giveaway! But first.....another great before and after project from one of you!

My friend Anjeanette sent me these pictures and I just have to share them. What an amazing transformation. Here's what she said:

Here's my latest project in my guest bathroom.
I didn't care for the wood finish that was in there, so I decided to change it.

I first sanded it a little, then put a fresh coat of white paint on.

I then glazed it with a brown paint, and wiped it off. I had to sand quite a bit of the brown off to get the look that I wanted. I then brushed on a clear coat of varnish. I then put hardware on them. I think it turned out pretty good.

Yeah, Anj, good is an understatement! I think the white was a total improvement, so I LOVE that you decided to go even a step further and it looks fantastic. GREAT job!

If you have a project or recipe you would like me to post, I would LOVE to share it. Just email me at:

OK, now on to the good stuff.....the winner of the giveaway!
Heather L. said...

Love the little labels! So cute! I'd love to win, thanks for the opportunity =)

Congratulations, Heather! Email me at to let me know what kind of labels you want.

Stay tuned, there's more fun coming up this week!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

KISS Principle

(I think the text in some of the previous posts was a bit LARGE so I'm going to see if doing it a bit smaller is easier on my eyes. Sorry for the inconsistencies for those of you who notice that sort of thing.)

First of all, WOW to the great comments and WELCOME to the new followers! I actually have a few project submissions that I can't wait to share with you in the next couple of weeks. It's so exciting to see people really take an interest in loving where they live. There are a lot of talented bloggers out there - I can't wait to show you some more right here! If you haven't entered the giveaway, you have until Friday night to enter!


I had a fantastic professor in college who always talked about the "KISS" Principle - KISS standing for Keep It Simple, Stupid. Well, now that I have children and we discourage the use of the "s" word - I'm going to go with
Keep It Simple, Sister.

I love finding a diamond in the rough, creating something out of nothing, etc. just as much as all of you! However, I always scour the Clearance shelves and end-caps at my favorite stores to find things that will work for a need I have in my home. Because as much fun as it is to make something out of nothing, it takes time and energy - something that I'm sure we all have an overabundance of (NOT)!

Example: I needed new throw pillows. Didn't need as in "want a new color." (Which is a justifiable need, in my opinion!) I mean NEED as in lumpy (some might say mildy smelly) throw pillows that HAD to GO. I had big plans to sew pillow covers (although I have about zero experience sewing) and find the perfect fabric, etc.

Then, while scouring the clearance racks at Target (one of my favorite places to treasure hunt) I found these babies:

For $4. That's right. $4. So I did what any crazy self-respecting person would do, I cleaned them out (they had two) and tried desperately to track down a few more at any area Targets. (To no avail, I might add.)

Here are some other recent Clearance finds that have been much SIMPLER to just buy new on clearance than try to hunt down at Goodwill or on Craigslist.

Mirror, Target. $10. It's a huge mirror that looks great on the wall, and the wicker is growing on me.

Storage baskets for kids/hubby junk, Hobby Lobby. $2. (I really don't have that much wicker in my house - this and a magazine basket in the living room are about the extent of it.)

Which leads me to my next point - even if it's on sale, don't buy it if you don't love it. Then it just turns into clutter. Clutter bought on sale, yes, but clutter nonetheless.

Conversely, don't walk away from it if you DO love it (and can afford it). I've learned, too many times, by the time you decide you want it and come back, it's gone and you just end up dreaming about what might have been. (Okay, maybe that's just me.) Most stores will let you return the item with a receipt if you really decide you don't like it. (Although some clearance items are final-sale only, so just check where you shop.)

So, that's my KISS principle I have had to apply in my home life. I love a good before and after project, but in areas where you can keep it simple - DO IT!

Do you have any good clearance tips???

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hello! & A Giveaway

Can I just give a huge SQUEAL and say how EXCITED I am to have been featured on one of very favorite blogs out there, Living with Lindsay. I hope some of you who are visiting for the first time pull up a seat and get comfy!

This little blog is just an idea I had a few months ago when my girlfriends and I wanted to share our own little stabs at DIY home design with each other. We got sick of emailing large attachments to each other (we all live in different states) but we definitely did not know nearly enough about home design or do projects frequently enough to fill our own blog.

After running into this dilemma, I was sure there were other part-time DIY'ers out there who have run into this same problem! DIY'ers who would love to post their projects but not have to worry about keeping up a full-time blog. That's how A Home in Progress was born. I really hope that this is a place that you come often to support other DIY newbies and share your own attempts at making your house a home!

To celebrate the wonderful Lindsay posting about us on her blog, we're doing our first little giveaway! A set of 8 chalkboard labels - they can be drilled to work as home labels, as shown here, or with the holes on the side for gift labels!

To enter, just leave me a comment letting me know you dropped by. If you become (or are already) a follower, I'll enter your name twice! And finally, if you mention this giveaway on your blog, I'll enter your name a third time! The giveaway will close Friday at 10pm and the winner (chosen randomly) will be announced Monday!

Thanks for the love, Lindsay! Go show her some love and visit her site. It's really one of the best out there.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Because It's Monday & A Giveaway

I'm not very productive on Mondays...just recuperating from a crazy weekend and time together as a family! So I thought I would post a quick (literally 5 minutes and however long it takes your glue gun to heat up...) and easy project that anybody with a "case of the Mondays" (name that movie) could do.

It happened to be my 6th wedding anniversary this weekend, and my husband brought me a wonderful basket of mums as an anniversary surprise. I loved them because I had wanted to bring a little fall to my front porch.

Here they are straight in the planter from the garden store. Not bad, but I had five minutes to kill before we left for our date, so I decided to make it look not so straight-from-the-store.

I just took some leftover yummy fall-like brown ribbon and got my glue gun and went to work!

I made sure I started in the back of the planter, where the wood strip meets.

Finished product! Not bad for free and 5 minutes!

Tomorrow I'm going to post my first giveaway! I have been totally inspired by a few giveaways on some awesome sites, that I thought I would try and share the love. So....check back tomorrow for details on how to enter to win your own set of chalkboard labels! Perfect as the holiday gift-giving season (yeah, I just went there) is just around the corner!

P.S. The movie quote above is from a total classic (in my opinion), "Office Space".

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

*Not* a Painted Wood Project!

I told you it was coming! I saw my friend Anjeannete's entry table redo and I asked her to let me post it here for you! It's beautiful and she did not paint the wood table. Let me say that again - she did.not.paint.the.wood.table. And it still turned out fabulously. Here, see for yourself! I'll let Anjeanette tell the story of how this table came to be in her own words:

So I have been looking, for a while, for a antique "looking" table
or dresser to use as my entry table. I have
been looking at garage sales and
thrift stores and online, and haven't found anything....until
I noticed this beauty in my neighbors garage.

No I wasn't snooping.....ok...maybe a little.
They keep their garage open all the time
and I saw it sit there for over a month.

I finally asked my neighbor what she was going to do with it, and she said
she was getting rid of it. She asked if I wanted it..........ahhh......YES!

I debated whether to paint it black, and maybe distress it, or stain it or just
to leave it how it is. I decided to sand it a bit and stain it. It was
really easy and I think it turned out well.

Okay, I love that she saw that table sitting there and just asked her neighbor about it! It reminds me of when Thrifty Decor Chick sent her sister dumpster diving for a treasure that somebody threw away! (Read the story here) You just never know where you're going to find a treasure! Thanks, Anj!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Adorable Girl's Room!

Yay for project submissions!!! This comes from a good friend of mine, Brenda. Not only did she do a super cute job on her girl's room (more details below) she also has a great cooking blog! I'm trying the enchiladas later this week and am so excited.....mmmmm.....

Anyway....back to decorating. She sent me the pictures and the "how-to" in her own words, so here's Brenda!

A few years ago, I got wood letters that spell Ellie's name and had my dad cut 8X8 squares of wood that were about 1-2 inches thick. I painted the squares white and then put scrapbook paper over top and glued the letters on the squares. I modpodged the entire thing and it turned out a disaster! I never hung them up because they turned out so bad. I finally found a way to use them in a way I like! (insert: need better camera for things such as this!)

This really does not do it justice.

What I changed:
I took the letters off the squares and put scrapbook paper I had on hand on the letters instead of leaving them white. I then tore off the old scrapbook paper off the squares and picked a more easily matchable paper to put on it. I used spray adhesive to get the paper to stick to the wood and letters. Don't let any get on your fingers or you will make smudges on the scrapbook paper.

I then took these cardboard squares I had gotten at a thrift store for a dollar (for the entire pack) and put them over top the scrapbook paper on the square to make my own "art":

The square wood board with the smaller cardboard squares attached

I had bought a pottery barn butterfly mobile at a garage sale for a dollar and I took the butterflies off and hooked them onto two letters. I just used the wire all ready on the butterfly to make it so I could remove it if we changed themes. My mom had gotten us butterfly nets at Michaels for a few dollars and so we had all ready sawed half of the stick down, I was able to use it as decor under the letters. I just used two push pins to get it to stay. I then attached the other butterflies also using their metal wires to the net. If I only had a better camera! Sorry for the horrible lighting.

The net

Butterfly attached to the "E"

Thanks, Brenda! I seriously think my favorite part of this was that she tried something, it didn't work out, and so she figured out a new use for it! I think it's fabulous and perfect for a little girl's room. Don't forget to check out her cooking blog: "B Dub's Cafe" (love that name!) for some great step-by-step cooking inspiration!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Home In Progress This Week

I'm so excited for the projects I have coming up this week. I will FINALLY post a non-painted-and-still-totally-beautiful wood project (I know, I know, I promised it last week but it was spent getting my oldest ready for preschool...sob sob) and some awesome wall decorations and letter hangings for a little girl's room.

It's almost (officially) the first day of fall - although according to Melissa at The Inspired Room, fall decorating season is already here!
I love fall, it's my wedding anniversary, you get to wear cozy sweaters, the weather is just about perfect where I live. Now I want to bring that inside my house in a fun, inexpensive way! If you have a cute fall project, decor idea, or cozy fall recipe, I would LOVE to share it here!

Happy Fall!

P.S. Have you seen my fun little button for the blog?? Check it out - it's on the right-hand side of the screen, just scroll down! If you've got a H.I.P. ( home, grab it to paste on your own blog!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Is Your Home Hip???

Ummm....look to the down and to the right of the screen and you'll notice a sweet little button - all for this little blog! Natalie Hartley (not ME Natalie, my cousin and FAB graphic designer) did the blog header and button for me - her contact info is listed if anybody needs some help!

So.......I just figured out that A Home In Progress' initials are HIP (hello, happy accident!) so for those of you with HIP homes.....I would LOVE it if you could spread the word about this little blog with your other HIP friends and family by grabbing the button for your own blogs. (I know, a little cheesy, but kinda cute, right? Right?? Right??)

I hope to start getting more and more project submissions from you guys.... To me, it is so much fun to see people really putting energy and love into their homes, even if isn't a flawless project (none of these are)! This blog is not a showcase of perfection! It's about progress.... So let's see what you've been up to!

Tune in tomorrow for a project all of you will love....wood purists and even us paint-it fans, too!

New Life for an Old Hutch

(For those of you who aren't fans of painted wood, this is your warning to look away now. Then again, if you're not a fan of painted wood, I highly doubt you're interested in this blog anyway!)

I love wood. I get that wood purists cringe when something could be salvaged and stained back to a beautiful wood finish. I. get. it. Anyway, this is a painted wood project. If you're a purist, take a deep breath but take a look and see what you think. And then I'm posting something for you later this week where somebody DID bring a wood piece back to life by restoring the wood and it's beautiful, too! There's room for everybody!

So, I've had the same Ikea shelf for the past six years as my bookshelf. It's served it's purposes nicely, but I've dreamed of having a nice hutch or something that made more of an impact in the room for a while.
Enter Craigslist. I scored this piece for $30 from somebody who just wanted it gone. It looks a lot better in the pictures than it did in reality. It was well-used but not anything that I couldn't get past!

I loved the glass cabinet.
And had some nice drawers and covered storage, which is a must in a house
with two toddlers.

It had nice curves.
And the drawers had nice dovetail construction. I know that's a sign of good construction from watching Antiques Roadshow all of my expertise.

I used this tutorial from the Nester. (I am sure you have, but just in case there are a few of you who haven't, please go check out The Nesting Place. It was the very first home design blog I came across in blogland, and her motto of "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful" is just the best.) Anyway, I just LOVED her armoire - the color, the tutorial, everything. And I waited. And waited. And finally the time came for me to paint something that beautiful color (it's Sherwin Williams Halcyon Green).

Since the Nester started out with untreated pine, she just dove right in and DIDN'T sand or prime (since she used paint with primer in one). This wood had definitely been treated before, but I'm sort of a lazy perfectionist, and a detailed sanding just wasn't sounding fun. So, I did a quick sand to rough the surfaces and get out a lot of the nicks and scrapes.

See? Nothing major.

Here's the stuff. Isn't that color awesome? I thought about being original and finding my own color, but why would I when this one is just so perfect???

The color actually looked great with just one coat. I didn't notice a HUGE difference with between lots of prep (sanding, primer) and what I did, which was minimal at best. If this were a piece that would be used and abused more often than this, I probably would've done more.

These slats were soooo difficult to get without drips or goops. Oh well - nothing's perfect in this house (oh, that is such a freeing feeling)!

I added some new hardware, but kept the original hinges.
And here it is in its new home! I only kept the best books that we use and packed the rest in the basement. Inside those drawers are our keys, sunglasses, and odds and ends. Inside the cabinet are all of my kid books and accessories - covered and out of sight! I love it!

Great quick tip: A tip I read somewhere (if you know of who to credit for this, please let me know!) is to take the shiny paper dust jackets off your nice hardback books. I did and it looks so much more cohesive and subdued. And they are the exact same books we had before!

Come back later this week for a before and after where somebody kept the wood - it turned out just as beautiful!

I'm linking this to Kimba's DIY Party at a Soft Place to Land.....go check out some fun projects!

So, are you a painted wood fan or a purist? Does it depend on the piece or the room its for?

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Failure Friday

Welcome back to A Failure Friday! Only today, it's a different kind of failure. It's a diet failure. If you like caramel corn - you will LOVE this recipe. And actually, even if you don't, the cooking site I got this recipe from will be sure to have some sort of diet-busting recipe. (And probably have some diet friendly recipes if you're in to that sort of thing.)

Anyway, have you seen Our Best Bites? One of the authors is my best friend's neighbor and she introduced me to this blog last year. It is published by two real moms that give you some great tutorials for the kitchen. (Tutorials like how to peel garlic, cut a watermelon or mango, or even grill a pizza!)

It's September, so I'm feeling all fall-ish and I love caramel corn and it just seems like a fall recipe to me. (Although I ate it all summer long, so I really have no excuse. It's just. that. good.)

Anyway, here is the recipe, courtesy of Our Best Bites. They make their recipes so easy to follow (these are their instructions, so see below for how easy their stuff is)! Really, you must check them out!

P.S. The recipe is easily halved if it's just two or three of you eating, although I would always err on the side of having leftovers. You usually won't.

Caramel Corn

2 bags microwave popcorn (if possiple, use natural flavor, not buttered)
1 C brown sugar
1/4 C white Karo syrup
1/2 t salt (if you are using salted popcorn then omit salt here)
1 cube real butter
1/2 t baking soda
1 t vanilla

Pop popcorn and set aside. Place brown sugar, Karo syrup, salt, and butter in a microwave safe dish. I cut up the butter into chunks so it melts better. No need to stir, just toss everything in there.

Are you ready for the directions? I'm warning you, it's complicated. You might want to take notes. Here we go. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Take it out and stir it together. Microwave for 2 more minutes.

Told you it was complicated.

While the caramel is cooking, put the popcorn in a big bowl. Use one that is way bigger than you think you'll need. Just trust me. Also, try to get any un-popped kernels out so you don't break a tooth and try to sue me.

When the caramel beeps the second time, take out of microwave and add baking soda and vanilla. Sit back and watch it do cool things like bubble and foam.

At this point you'll probably want to stick your finger in there and lick it. Don't do it. You are mesmerized by the caramely goodness and are forgetting how hot boiling sugar is. Especially on your tongue. It's hot. Really hot. Don't ask me how I know.

Stir it well and then pour it over the popcorn. Mix it up well with a big spoon. I usually spread it all out on a piece of foil and let it cool for a minute so it doesn't get stuck in one big clump. The longer it sits out, the firmer it will get, but it won't ever get crunchy-hard unless you bake it.

For crunchy caramel corn: spread out on a cookie sheet (you'll probably need 2) and bake at 200 degrees for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. The other day I made it this way and then drizzled it with chocolate when it was done. Ummm....good.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Dining Room Re-Do

So, while we were on vacation, I still did a little decorating and I thought to take some before and after pics to share!

I've sort of stayed with the paint/re-arranging things side of my home and haven't forayed into the fabric/window treatment side of things. I just needed to take the plunge and what better place to try it out that on my parent's unsuspecting dining area???

My parents have been gradually updating their home and it looks great - but I spotted this awesome window treatment post on Young House Love (Have you seen this blog? If you haven't read their story, check them out!) and when I saw it, I had the motivation I needed!

So, here's the before:

I'm not sure why the walls look peach in these photos - they are actually a nice warm taupe shade. Taking photos of this room was a challenge for a photography-newbie like myself. All of the light coming in through the windows makes for a beautiful room - and hard for pictures. OK...moving on.....

Those valances were on all three windows, I just forgot to take the before pictures so we threw one back on. Ha ha.

Now, the spray-painter in me wanted so badly to spray paint those wooden dowels and finials with some oil-rubbed bronze or metallic spray paint! But, I really wanted the rods to look as if they were one solid bay-window rod. (Which I know they sell but I couldn't find any available THAT weekend and the Ikea rods we used were maybe 6 bucks a pop??!?)

So, we took down all of the existing stuff, figured out where we wanted to hang the rods. We chose a spot about halfway between the tops of the window and the ceiling and just got them up there!

Next we got some crown moulding (or is molding? Google isn't sure...) and painted it white (to match the baseboards and windows) to add some definition to the tops of the windows. This was inspired by a photo in the post I linked to above at Young House Love. It was the simplest thing to do - they cut it to length for me at the store - and made the biggest difference! (Well, see below for yourself!)

We got four panels (two packs of two) of Vivan sheer panel curtains at Ikea. And the curtain rings to match our rod, all purchased at Ikea. Then, the difficult part - getting the curtains the right length.

I'm sure this comes easier to MOST people (most things do!) but the hemming tape and I had...issues. But, after a lot of measuring and remeasuring (we wanted the curtains to barely reach the floor), the iron and I reached an agreement and somehow got the seams to hem.

For those of you (like me) who don't know what hemming tape is - the curtains from Ikea came in a standard length. You then measure how long you REALLY need them, fold the curtains to that length, and then insert this nifty tape:

in the fold and iron. Now, I'm totally guessing, but the heat from the iron kind of melts this tape and it forms a sort of no-sew hem.

I think I was afraid I was going to melt the fabric (not that I've ever done that ironing before *ahem*) so I didn't apply quite as much heat for as long as I needed to. But, we got it figured out and got the curtains up.

So, here's the AFTER!

We also cleared off the vinyl tablecloth to show the beautiful wood underneath, and left just one pot of sunflowers for some color.

Now, mom, the one thing we talked about but never did was get you a new dining room light fixture!!!!!!! Let me know when you get one so I can post a true after picture. Thanks for letting me experiment!!!

Working with fabric and window treatments was actually so FUN. I may even do it again.....

I'm linking this project up to Kimba's DIY Day at A Soft Place to Land. Go check out what other DIY-ers here in blogland have been working on!