Curbly Original
5 Ways To Wrap Gifts Using Office Supplies

by Faith Provencher
5 Ways To Wrap Gifts Using Office Supplies | For Curbly by Faith Towers Provencher #creative #gift #wrapping #holiday
Photo: Faith Towers Provencher

 Sometimes I get sick of using the same old gift wrapping supplies every year - they just never seem to run out! So this year I decided to get a little creative with my Christmas gift wrap by using office supplies to decorate plain brown kraft paper packages. And it was surprisingly easy! Click through to see five different ways to wrap gifts using office supplies.      

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3 Ways to Give Plain Ornaments a Stylish, Scandi Makeover

by Rachel Jacks
Scandi Christmas ornament makeover
Photo: Rachel Jacks

If you've ever been inspired by try a whole new color scheme or style in your Christmas decor, you may have been deterred by the fact that you'd have to replace all of the ornaments you already have. But with a little paint, you can give your ornaments a makeover, saving cash and keeping your old decor out of the landfill. Here's how I gave some glass bulbs a new look, three different ways. 

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DIY Ugly Sweater Christmas Garland

by M.E. Gray

Ugly sweater garland

When did we all decide to stop wearing ugly Christmas sweaters ironically, and switch to wearing them sincerely? Either way, I love a good ugly sweater during the holidays. The tackier, the better, in my opinion! I have my own that I whip out for parties, decked out in kittens and distractingly noisy jingle bells. I decided to celebrate this kitschy theme by making a decorative garland out of mini little sweaters. Turns out, shrinking things only makes them cuter, not uglier!            

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Thanksgiving Crackers: Conversation Starters that Really Snap!

by M.E. Gray

Thanksgiving cracking bon-bons

When it comes to the holidays, there are lots of things that I look forward to. The seasonal desserts, the quirky traditions, and the festive decor, just to name a few. There is one thing that I dread, however, when family and friends gather: small talk. Maybe it's because I'm an introvert, or maybe it's because chatting about the weather makes me want to barf and yawn at the same time, but the idea of casual chatting-while-eating gives me anxiety. Now, the whole notion of conversation starters might make you want to groan, but what if those conversation starters were paired with a bit of mystique and excitement? Enter these Thanksgiving crackers.         

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How-To: Simple 3-Tiered Jewelry Organizer

by Faith Provencher
How-To: Simple 3-Tiered Jewelry Organizer
Photo: Faith Towers

 

I'm a big collector of costume jewelry, so I'm always trying to find great ways to store it. A while back, I did this project so I have plenty of space for my necklaces and most of my dangly earrings. But I was still left wondering where to put all of my stud earrings, bracelets and other accessories. Until now. Keep reading to check out my incredibly easy, functional solution.    

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DIY Creepy-Crawly Halloween Snake Wreath

by Rachel Jacks
DIY Halloween wreath with snakes
Photo: Rachel Jacks

Maybe it's my childhood spent catching garter snakes, but I've never been afraid of snakes. I know I'm in the minority in thinking that some of them are even downright cute, so I won't be surprised to hear that this snake wreath might evoke slithery nightmares for many. If plastic snakes don't creep you out too much, you can whip up this DIY Halloween wreath in no time.         

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50+ Frightful and Delightful DIY Ways to Decorate Your Home for Halloween

by M.E. Gray
DIY Halloween Decorations Mega Roundup
Source: Country Living

BOO! Did I scare you? If not, this might give you a fright: it's almost October, which means it's almost time for Halloween! Now that's truly terrifying. Halloween is one of the most fun holidays to decorate for, and there are so many ways you can celebrate. Whether you prefer creepy crawlies, or more glitz and glam, there's no end to the DIY Halloween decorations you can make to adorn you home - inside and out! Here are a few of our favorites. Prepare to be spooked!       

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Make This! DIY Contemporary Wood and Concrete Coat Rack

by Faith Provencher
DIY Wood and Cement Coat Rack
Photo: Faith Towers Provencher

Our house lacks closet space, especially by the entryway... so I've always wanted a fun coat rack that I could put near the door. But if you've ever tried to buy a coat rack online, you know that it's hard to find a cool one - and the ones that are attractive usually have crazy price tags to match. So of course I decided to make one! Keep reading to check out the instructions for this super easy wood and cement coat rack.   

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Paint Stripping Head-to-Head: Which is the Best Finish Remover?

by Amber Dickson
Deck stripper head to head: Which product removes finish better?
Photo: Amber Dickson

 My family moved into our current home last year and knew that come summer, the deck would need some attention. The whole surface was in rough shape.  The latex deck coating had flaked off in large areas and in the places where the finish was still present, it was not well-adhered to the surface. This project was going to require more than a quick clean and re-coat, so I decided to find out which deck stripper would do the best job.

After surviving my first New England winter, I really did not want to spend the entire New England summer sanding down the deck.  Summer in New Hampshire lasts for approximately one week and I was ready to hit the beach.  An internet search revealed several deck stain and finish removers available to non-professionals.  Perhaps this would be the key to an easy deck re-finish.             

 

Paint in need of refinishing
Here's where I started - yikes!

 The removers fall into two different categories depending upon the mechanism by which they work.  One category is caustic deck strippers.  These contain corrosive chemicals that break down the finish such as sodium hydroxide, (the chemical name of lye) or sodium chloride.

The second category is solvent deck strippers.  A solvent deck stripper dissolves the bond between the wood and the finish.  They contain solvents such as 1, 3 dioxolane.

weathered deck - before deck stripper
Photo: Amber Dickson

If you are researching a product and want to know more about the chemicals it contains, this website is helpful.  Or, another option is to do what I did and call Mom.  Fair warning, this will probably only work if your mother is a chemist. Luckily mine is.  

After looking up the product’s SDS (Safety Data Sheet), I chose two strippers, one from each category, and put them to the test.

deck stripper in progress - removing paint from wood
Photo: Amber Dickson

I used Behr Premium Wood Stain and Finish Stripper, a caustic stripper, on half of the deck.  The instructions call for application with a synthetic roller.  The stripper was cloudy and had the consistency of jello that was only half-way set.  The label is quite clear about using safety glasses, gloves, and other precautions against direct contact.  If reading the warnings does not convince you of its potency, the smell will.  One whiff is all it takes to realize how strong this stuff is. 

deck finish remover in progress
Photo: Amber Dickson

I applied the stripper and kept close watch for the next 45 minutes.  When areas would start to dry, per the directions, I applied a light misting of water.   I let the stripper sit for the maximum amount of time suggested then scrubbed with a stiff brush and used a garden sprayer to rinse.  Behr does not recommend using a power washer.  Much of the finish lifted.  Much did not.  I then applied the recommended Behr All-in-One Wood Cleaner to neutralize the chemical reaction and brighten the wood.

deck with finish mostly removed
Photo: Amber Dickson

Next, I used JoMax Stain and Finish Deck Stripper, a solvent stripper, on the remaining portion of the deck.  This product was clear and thinner.  It also has a strong odor and plenty of warnings about taking precautions for safety.   I followed the suggested timetables and reapplied the stripper to areas that started to dry.  Per the directions, I used the stiff brush on the surface before rinsing.  The label says that either a garden hose or a pressure washer on a low setting can be used.

This product showed much less efficacy.  As I was rinsing with the power washer, I could tell that some of the finish had dissolved but there was no noticeable change.  It was thinner in areas but still very much present.

damaged deck boards
Photo: Amber Dickson

Which Deck Stripper Was Best?

As it turns out, neither stripper proved to be a magical solution and there was a fair amount of sanding needed after all.  After sanding, I applied Ben Moore's Arborcoat semi-solid stain in a custom color to match the house. 

refinished deck
Photo: Amber Dickson

This was not an easy test case.  I certainly challenged the chemical strippers as the existing latex deck finish was heavy-duty and very thick.  It seems that a thinner finish would lift more fully.  Of the two, the Behr product worked much better though it did not provide overwhelming results and took a fair amount of elbow-grease in both the application process and the physical removal by scrubbing.  Also, it required an additional neutralizing step. 

In the end, the deck is now protected for another year.  It was in rough shape to start with so no one is going to think it's brand new - but it has served us well this summer and will live to fight another day come winter. 

snacks on the finishe deck
Photo: Amber Dickson

 

Interested in another way to spiff up your deck? Check out this post

before and after deck photo

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How to: Easy Ideas To Turn Your Bathroom Into A Spa-Like Retreat

by Faith Provencher

Spa bathroom ideas

A trip to the spa is the ultimate way to de-stress, but we don't all have the time or money to head to the spa every month. So why not create your own calming sanctuary right at home that you can enjoy every single day? Here are a few simple tips for creating a spa bathroom retreat.     

 

Tips for Creating a Spa Bathroom on a Budget 

Neutral tones for a spa bathroom

1. Stick with neutral, earthy tones

Spas tend to use light colors for a calming effect, giving the space an organic feel. My Design Chic shows us that pale blue lends a soothing sense; head here for more pale blue inspiration. As shown in the second photo above, white is a great base color; then add accents of pale blue, beige and brown to keep the space from feeling too sterile. Check out Apartment Therapy for more tips on creating spa-like elegant bathroom decor. 

 

Greenery in the bathroom

2. Greenery adds life to the room

A cluster of houseplants give this room an inviting feel, while Martha Stewart's crabapple blossoms lend a romantic vibe. Place an orchid on your vanity for more of a zen look, as they've done over at Decor Pad.

 

Aromatherapy in the restroom

3. Aromatherapy is an important consideration 

Scent plays a large role in mood, so don't forget to add relaxing aromas to your space. Hang eucalyptus over your shower head for a refreshing scent as recommended by Uphaa, or place reed diffusers on your countertop. Head over to Elizabeth Danon Interiors for more tips on adding organic scents to your home. Complete your candlelit bath with rose petals for a warm, romantic break.   

 

Candles and champagne

4. Encourage prolonged relaxation

Check out the full DIY tutorial for this handy wooden bathtub tray over at Snippets of Design. It's the little things in life! And don't forget to add a glass of champagne as The Online Stylist has done. 

 

Details to create a spa-like bathroom

5. It's all in the details 

Eliminating labels will reduce visual clutter in the room... try transferring cotton balls and q-tips to apothecary jars as they've done over at Design Indulgences. A curved shower curtain will add space to your shower area for a more luxurious experience. Check out this and other easy spa bathroom refreshers over at Modern Furniture Design. Last, an easy way to make your bathroom feel spa-like is to roll up your towels as Timothy Whealon has done. 

 

Upgraded showerhead
Photo: Ben Finch

6. Upgrade your shower head

Sure, your basic shower head from the 90's probably still functions just fine. But wouldn't a rain system be so much more luxurious? And a handheld attachment would be oh-so-handy when you come home from the park all muddy. They don't necessarily cost an arm and a leg either... Amazon has a wide range of options. Be sure to pick something that will fit with your existing plumbing and finishes.

 

Upgraded towels
Photo: Kate Lester

7. Splurge on towels

There's nothing more luxurious than a thick, soft towel to wrap up in after a long bath. Indulge in a set of high quality towels for those days when you're looking for that spa bathroom feel. Go for oversized, soft and absorbent... and be sure to look at the reviews online if you can't check them out in person. Don't forget to choose a set of stylish hand towels too - it's a decorative touch that will make your space feel like a relaxing personal bathroom retreat. Check out some of our favorite towels below.

 

Spa like bathrooms on a budget
Photo: Nechstar

8. Add your own soundtrack 

We listen to music in the office, in the car and elsewhere, so why not get some tunes going to help us relax in the shower as well? Music can have a wonderful mood-altering effect, so it's a must for getting ready in the morning. Here are the best waterproof bluetooth speakers according to Neckstar. Quite a few ring in at under $50, believe it or not!

 


Shop Our Favorite Spa Bathroom Products & Accessories

Bath tray caddy
Urban Outfitters

Give yourself the perfect unwind time setup with a bath caddy. We love this one because of its versatility and handy wine glass holder! Me Time Bamboo Bath Tray Caddy from Urban Outfitters, $49 

 

Turkish towels
Amazon

These large, plush towels from Amazon have a lovely spa-like color and they get good reviews too. Oversized Turkish Bathroom Towels 3 Piece Set from Amazon, $60

 

Wood bath mat
Urban Outfitters

There's something about bamboo that just feels spa-like, isn't there? Bamboo Bath Mat from Urban Outfitters, $35

 

Rainfall shower head
Amazon

Upgrade your shower with this combination rainfall and handheld head. AquaDance 3 Way Rainfall Shower Head from Amazon, $35

 

Plush towels
Cost Plus World Market

Add one of these unique hand towels to your spa bathroom: Black and Ivory Sculpted Bath Towel from Cost Plus World Market, $16

 

Waterproof speaker
Amazon

Get some tunes in your spa bathroom! iFox Bluetooth Shower Speaker from Amazon, $30

 

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Curbly Original
Quick DIY Refresh: Easy Lamp Makeover Project

by Faith Provencher
Lamp makeover | Before
Photo: Faith Towers Provencher

I've had this lamp forever, and I was totally over it. Ready to buy a new one. But the crafter in me wanted to give it one more chance, so I decided to give it a makeover using spray paint and thumbtacks. Yep that's right, thumbtacks. Click through to check out the final product along with instructions so you can recreate the look.       

 

Lamp makeover | After
Photo: Faith Towers Provencher

Much better, right? The thumbtacks give it a little metallic flair, and the paint adds some color. So let's get started!

Materials

Materials used to make over lamp
Photo: Faith Towers Provencher

 

  • Lamp
  • Spray paint
  • Painter's tape
  • Plastic bag
  • Thumbtacks
  • Pliers with wire cutters
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • E6000 glue (not pictured)

Step

Lamp makeover | Step 1
Photo: Faith Towers Provencher

Begin by removing the shade and bulb from your lamp. Wrap a plastic bag around the section that you don't want to be painted, and secure it with painter's tape. Make sure the tape is straight and the ends meet evenly. Tape the cord as well.

 

Step

Lamp makeover | Step 2
Photo: Faith Towers Provencher

Spray paint the bottom of the lamp using two to three very light coats of spray paint. Let each coat dry thoroughly in between.

Step

Thumbtack lampshade | Step 3
Photo: Faith Towers Provencher

While the last coat of paint is drying, begin working on your lampshade. Add a pencil mark every inch along the bottom edge of your lampshade. Place the marks about a half inch from the bottom of the shade. 

Step

Thumbtack lampshade | Step 4
Photo: Faith Towers Provencher

Next, begin removing the sharp points from the thumbtacks. Cut them as close to the round tops as possible.

Step

Thumbtack lampshade | Step 5
Photo: Faith Towers Provencher

Most likely, there will still be a small sharp point left... put a small dab of E6000 glue at that point and poke it through the first pencil mark. Repeat the process until you have glued tacks all the way around the perimeter of the lampshade. If you can feel the sharp points on the inside of the shade, you'll want to add a tiny dab of glue over the points as well so that nobody cuts themselves.


Thumbtack lampshade with painted lamp base
Photo: Faith Towers Provencher

And that's all, folks! I told you it was easy. I was planning to buy a whole new lamp for this area of our dining room, but now that this one has a fancy new 'do, I don't have to! 

Detail of thumbtack lampshade
Photo: Faith Towers Provencher

You could also use gold tone thumbtacks if you like, to give it a different look. And any spray paint color would work... pick one that coordinates well with your decor. 

Lamp makeover
Photo: Faith Towers Provencher

That small pop of color on the bottom makes the lamp feel more solid, and helps it stand up to the other colors in the room.

Detail shot of lamp makeover
Photo: Faith Towers Provencher

And I love the way the thumbtacks make it feel a bit more expensive, giving it almost an upholstered look. Have fun!

Photo: Faith Towers Provencher

 

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Make These: Rorschach Ink Blot Pillows

by M.E. Gray

Make these: DIY Rorschach test pillows

Are you familiar with the Rorschach Test? It's the psychological exam where you look at ink blots and say what you see. Depending on how you interpret the ink, you receive a different diagnosis of your psyche. Now, I'm not a psychiatrist by any means, but I do know a DIY opportunity when I see one. Whether or not you interpret the shapes as a bear, or as the face of your mother, throw a little color in there and we've got ourselves a project. These ink blot pillows are easy enough for anyone to make, and each result is different!      

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Make This! Abstract Wall Art Using a Hair Dryer

by M.E. Gray

DIY abstract art using a hair dryer

Lately I've been getting sucked into watching painting videos on Instagram. The abstract paintings are the best. I love the ones where the artist is seemingly just messing around, throwing paint here and there, when suddenly BAM! - some well-placed paint or drip technique brings it all together. While I'm not as clever an abstract painter as these Instagram stars are, you don't have to be an expert to make some fun abstract wall art. I made this piece the other day using a hair dryer - keep reading and I'll show you how.              

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