Thursday, September 2, 2010

Made by hand ...

Repeat after me, “I can do that!” Every time I check the price tag on a fabulous d├ęcor item, and find it ridiculously priced, I repeat my little mantra, pull out my cell phone and snap a photo to remember my inspiration piece. This time, I found great candles for my next soiree at one of my favorite retail stores – the coastal style and color were just what I had in mind. However, the price ($34 each, and I needed four) was a ‘no go.’ Who in their right mind pays $136 for four candles meant to be used only once?

Costly retail candles (above) serve as inspiration.
Only a few project materials (shown at right) are
needed to create a similar look.

So, I told myself, “I can do that,” and launched a search for some blue-tinted glass and some rope as a starting point. Blue-tinted, ‘no-clue-what-they-are' glass things from Off My Rocker (one of my favorite consignment shops) were $3.00 each. The Manilla rope from Home Depot cost $5.49. And, there you have it. For $17.49, a little hot glue and twenty minutes of assembly time, I now have four perfect candle holders (shown below)to light the dinner table at my ‘End of Summer’ soiree. Just slide the holders over a candle and they're totally reusable.

I'm really happy with my crafted candleholders. They have the perfect vibe for my coastal dinner theme, and I think I actually like them better than the version sold at the retail store.

Every dinner party needs great linens to help evoke the tone for the evening, and I like to change mine up each time I entertain. That could be costly if I purchased them retail. (Since linen can dress up or go casual, it’s my gold standard for entertaining.) When I found two yards of charming blue and green palms and papayas dancing on an ivory linen remnant, I knew it I hit the jackpot. Yep, twelve 18” x 18” napkins (cut from two yards of material) cost me all of $2.99. Gotta love those remnants at the fabric stores!

When I saw this linen, I knew I just had to have it. Great coastal/tropical imagery, without being theme-y.
Every napkin is a bit different fromt the next, yet coordinates beautifully and was a breeze to sew.

Sometimes, inspiration comes from other artists’ work. Artist/photographer Ann Thompson photographed a great sweater project that I think is adorable. We'll be changing seasons in the next few months (in Texas, winter is generally January and February), so I think I'll follow this lead and recycle an old sweater into something textural for my little casa.

The basket cover (above) was made by cutting the bottom part off a sweater and pulling it up over an old wicker basket. Then, it was glued down. But, my favorite is the jug cover (left) made from a cut off sweater sleeve that was pulled over an old glass jar. The knitted material was secured with a bit of glue at the bottom, and decorated with some jute twine at the top. I can see lots of ways to use this idea.

Maybe a unique water feature for your yard is your idea of a weekend project. My husband says I need to show some ‘guy’ stuff, too. So, here you are honey. This one’s for you.

What guy wouldn't be happy on the patio with this little DIY water feature?
This super-fun water fountain in New Orleans was created from old beer taps. The water cascades from the open taps into a pool and is pumped back up again through recirculating pipes hidden in the brick wall.

For all you guys out there, start shopping for those used taps at flea markets and antique shops. Otherwise, you can do some serious damage to your wallet at and buy them new. I can envision a grill fired up for a backyard barbeque with this cool charmer in the background. I can only imagine what this would cost with a hired contractor!

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