Decor Deals: The Cheap Way to Host a Baby Sprinkle

We’re hosting a “baby sprinkle” for a mama in our church who’s having her third child. Confession: I’ve just discovered the awesomeness that is the baby sprinkle – a less extravagant baby shower for moms who are having their second or third or forth or beyond baby. It’s a chance to honor the mom and provide her with some much-needed essentials.

Here are some great dollar store decor ideas for baby sprinkles that don’t look cheap and feature the adorable sprinkle or shower theme! 

Balloons

Use inexpensive Dollar Store balloons and buy a $20 helium tank from Party City to create a “sprinkle” or “shower” theme. Use paper and thread or ribbon to create the raindrops.

Raindrops balloons

(Source: http://www.em-il-ie.com)

Or create confetti balloons for fun pops of color that look like sprinkles inside the white balloons. You can sometimes find paper punches at the dollar store, or use a discount coupon from Hobby Lobby or Michaels to find one for less than $5 on sale.

confetti balloons

(Source: Michaels)

Bunting and banners

Use cheap paper stacks from the dollar store or use a Michael’s 40% coupon to create some inexpensive bunting. Print out letters and use glitter for extra sparkle.

bunting sprinkles

(Source: http://www.etsy.com/GeminiCelebrations)

Create doily bunting by using doilies and staple them to a ribbon (you can get ribbon for 59 cents in the bins by the entrance at Michaels instead of $1 at the dollar store!) You can get a 10 pack of paper doilies for $1 at the dollar store. Print out letters with some cheap paper to create an adorable banner.

doily bunting

(Source: Ruffles and Stuff)

Create circle garland that looks like sprinkles. All you’ll need is the same hole punch you used for the sprinkle balloons and either a sewing machine or some cheap .59 cent ribbon. Either glue two rounds of paper together with the ribbon in the middle, or sew the chain of paper together. Use construction paper from the dollar store to save some moola!

circle garland

(Source: Yankee Magazine)

Try tissue tassel garland and hang on the front of a table, or connect to the bottom of each of your sprinkle balloons (Hint: Check out Target’s clearance in the party section to get massive sheets of tissue for a steal)!

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(Source: Linen, Lace, and Love)

Pom poms

Try some tulle pom poms to fill up a corner or place over the mom’s chair where she’ll be opening gifts. So pretty, and you can get rolls of tulle from Walmart in the bridal section (or at your local Dollar Tree, if you’re lucky!)

tulle pom poms

(Source: Paging Fun Mums)

Or use the traditional tissue pom poms. These are the least expensive and are super cute.

tissue pompoms

(Source: House on the Way)

 

Have you hosted a sprinkle or shower on the cheap – and do you have any ideas? Comment on the side and let us know!

 

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Room Tour: Our Spring Mantel and Fireplace

I’m loving spring this year, especially when it’s sunny out (although not so much right now, while it’s pouring rain and cold!)

Here’s how we’ve brought spring inside, right into the seating area in our living room.

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I love our little boxwood spiral tree – this was $5 on clearance at Old Time Pottery. What a steal! These yellow flower sprigs in my $3 Target Dollar Spot find (or whatever they call it now) bring a pop of color in.

Check out the little vintage cheese boxes. These came from my husband’s grandpa’s farm, or something like that…. We inherited them at some point and they made the move to the new house.  IMG_4976

These three candle stands are finds from three different stores. The tall one is from Goodwill for $2, and was painted using my ultimate favorite $1 paint samples.

The cream one is from Hobby Lobby, and the mercury glass one came from Marshalls on clearance. Overall, these things cost me $18 total – what a deal! During Christmas they’ll hold candles, but for now the raffia balls look like we’ve brought the outdoors in.

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And my ultimate favorite piece – a painted bushel basket that stores our quilts. I love this!

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What kinds of things have you done to decorate your living room or fireplace this spring? Comment and let us know!

 

The DIY Way to Finish a Stub Wall

Stub wall2

Our home came with some great stuff – and it also came with some not so great bare-bones stuff!

One major issue in our home was the unfinished stub wall (or some people call it a pony wall) at the top of our stairs. It was just finished with drywall and was missing any sort of trim. Because this stub wall is the “landing zone” for all sorts of stuff (like cell phones and clothes that need drying) it was looking pretty rough. So for $45, we capped the stub wall for a custom look!

Here’s how we added trim to finish the stub wall. Check out the tips on what NOT to do!

Find the materials: The “cap” consists of a piece of MDF and moulding below it. We used an 8′ x 10″ piece of MDF from Home Depot. This cost us about $12 and amazingly was cheaper than the trim! We also bought baseboard moulding/trim to wrap under the MDF.

Get the tools: You’ll need a miter saw, nail gun, jigsaw or oscillating hand saw, and router. DIY NO-FAIL TIP: Get a router – rent one, borrow one, whatever you have to do. It’ll make all the difference when you go to create nice edges on your board!

Trim the top board: Trim the board to the length and size that you need. We wanted the board to wrap around one side, so we measured and cut out the section using our Dremmel multi-tool. A small hand jigsaw would be fine too.

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Be smart about how you the finish the edges: We decided to get fancy and run the wood through a table saw angled at 45 degrees. This just tore up the board and made it look super messy. We thought paint would help – it didn’t. Here’s what happens when you try to trim MDF on a table saw:

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Sad, sad stuff. We also tried to use the miter saw to create a unique angled area at the end of the board. It didn’t work either, so don’t try it!

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So we sanded it with a palm sander and that helped quite a bit. But seriously, don’t try to get fancy! Just run a router around the edges, or just sand the edges so it won’t have sharp edges that get dinged up easily.

Install the board: Once you have your board in place, glue it with PL Premium or Liquid Nails, and then tack it into place with your nail gun. I’m sure just the adhesive would be fine, but we wanted to ensure it was firmly in place for years to come.

Cut the moulding: Cut the moulding at 45 degree angles to wrap around the bottom of the board. Then install with your nail gun. If you don’t have a nail gun, little finish nails that are countersunk would work just fine.

Fill the holes, caulk, and paint: Paint first, using a roller to ensure the finish is even. I used a paintbrush and in certain lights it looks like someone quickly painted it with a paintbrush because they had a BBQ to go to in an hour…not that I did that or anything. Okay, maybe I did.

DIY NO-FAIL TIP: Caulk also makes all the difference in this project. Use white caulk designed for trim or woodwork to fill in the gaps. See the gap where the board and the trim meet? Caulk in areas where you can see the seams (like the other side, where you can see it walking up the stairs).

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You’re done! This little project took us a whole day, thanks to small little cuts around the end of the board, figuring out angles, and that darn table saw idea. If you’re smart and didn’t try to get fancy, it’s a 3 hour project.

But check out the results! I love the before and after (along with the before and after of our new hardwood floors, because it’s the only “before” photo I had). Funny how a little thing like trim can make such a big difference.

BEFORE (and a bonus before & after shot of our pretty new hardwood): FullSizeRender

AFTER: IMG_4945IMG_4946

 

The DIY Guide to Installing Stair Treads

stairtreads

Our carpeted stairs were gross. When we moved into our 10 year old home a year ago, we we knew the carpet on the stairs needed to be replaced.

Big box stores quoted us around $1,500 just to replace the carpet with wood – and we’d still have to do all the demo and prep. No thank you. Our final cost for the stairs was $800, and that included buying power tools (a great investment!)

Here’s how to use your DIY skills to replace your carpeted stairs with wood treads.

Tools and materials required to replace stair treads and risers: 

  • Sliding compound mitre saw (rent or buy – this is the one we used)
  • Nail gun and air compressor (rent or buy – here’s the one we bought)
  • Stair tread template (here’s the one we bought) – Worth every penny!
  • Power sander and fine grit sandpaper
  • 42″ oak stair treads (what you step on)  – Pine treads are about $11/piece, oak treads are about $16/piece. We bought 42″ treads, because the width of our stairs was a little wider than the standard 36″ pieces.
  • 42″ oak stair risers (the vertical piece that goes above the tread)- Pine risers are about $8/piece, oak risers are about $12/piece
  • Clear polyurethane and stain (if you want a different color than natural wood). We used Miniwax, but if you can go to a professional flooring store and get a better polyurethane, we’d recommend that. Miniwax will never leave a perfectly smooth finish.
  • Natural bristle brush – Nylon won’t work with oil-based polyurethane
  • Pry bar – To remove carpet tacks
  • Crow bar – To remove treads
  • Utility knife – To cut up carpet or score risers
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil

Step by step instructions (with my very handsome husband as the hand-model and DIY builder):

1. Sand and stain/polyurethane your treads and risers: This is what takes the most time. We used our garage as our workspace so we could sand outside. We sanded each of the treads with a fine grit sandpaper and a little power sander and wiped them down with damp cloth.

There are actually two ways to do this step – You can install the wood and then stain/polyurethane the pieces. This is so the nail holes don’t show once you tack the treads into place. We didn’t want to deal with waiting for the stairs to dry (yeah, we needed to get to our bedroom!) So we did all the prep beforehand, and we had no issues. It’s up to you!

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When you don’t have sawhorses, you use what you can find. We used a trash can and a table saw to rest the wood on. Whatever works!

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Remember, if you’re staining, you’ll want to stain before you polyurethane. Or you could get a stain/poly combination.

IMG_4701We polyurethaned each of the boards and laid them out to dry. You need to do this at least 2 times. We have a friend who’s a professional floor installer who told us we only needed 2 coats, and he was right! One coat to soak into the wood, and the second coat to protect. Make sure to lightly sand between coats, because the first coat seems to bring out the “grittiness” in the wood.

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2. Remove the carpet and underlay: Go to town and rip up the carpet and underlay. It goes pretty quickly. Cut it at the top of the stairs, if the carpet carries onto the upstairs landing. Bye bye, gross old carpet! IMG_4747

2. Remove the carpet tacks: Pry off the carpet tack strips. Careful, they’re sharp! We’re doing this so it’s safe to tear up the treads later. You could skip this step, but you might get poked by carpet tacks!

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3. Remove the treads: This requires some serious muscle (enter handsome husband with big muscles, or whoever you can talk into helping you!) Use a crowbar and hammer to wedge it under the treads and pry off. Once you have a little bit of the tread up, hammer upwards to remove the tread. Our treads were solid thick pine, but the risers were just plywood, so those were easier to remove.

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You’ll end up with the bare stringers- and no way to get back up the stairs! We stuck the cat in a room upstairs while we were doing this project. If I were to do this again, I’d keep all pets downstairs so you don’t get concerned when they’re not meowing and have to tiptoe up the risers to check on the cat…not that I did that…. ok, maybe I did.

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4. Start measuring and cutting: Let me introduce you to the brilliant stair tread template. It’s $20 and was worth every penny. It’s two plastic ends that you attach to a 1×3 that’s a little shorter than the width of your stairs. We used a flat strip of wood we had around the house, because the 1×3 we bought was bowed (if you buy one for this project, make sure it’s straight!)

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Lay the template on the stair stringers and tighten the template so you get the exact angle and length of each side of the tread or riser.

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Then mark your boards with a pencil, or score them with a utility knife. I’d recommend using a knife, so it doesn’t leave pencil marks.

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Use your compound miter saw to cut the board to exact angle. Line up the laser to cut it juuuuuuust right. Work your way up every stair until you have all boards cut. Warning, this took us all day. All. Flipping. Day.

5. Install your risers and treads: Because we were “nervous,” we didn’t install as we go. Instead, we cut and measured every riser and stair, and installed at the end. But you really should install each tread and riser as you move up the stairs.

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Start with the bottom riser, then place the tread on top of it. Then the riser, then another tread, and use this pattern until you reach the top. The riser rests on the tread. Use PL premium adhesive in a caulk gun to install the treads. Using a lot of adhesive on each tread helps act as a leveller. We used 3 tubes of adhesive for 15 stairs.

Then use your nail gun and 2″ nails to tack the boards into place. Use a 45 degree angle so the nails won’t wiggle out as the stairs start to get worn in. A 45 degree angle has a better chance of keeping that nail in place. The more nails you use, the less squeaking you’ll have. You can use wood filler to fill the holes. We haven’t done this yet, because you can’t see where the nails are. We’ll get to it…eventually!

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WARNING: Your stairs will SQUEAK. A lot. For us, it was because the edges of the wood were pushing against the trim. This’ll be fixed by walking on them and wearing them in, and by caulking. The caulk creates a buffer between the tread and trim.

6. Caulk and paint: I tried to paint the side stringer trim before we installed. What a bad idea. Because the treads are so tightly cut, they scraped up the trim as we were fitting the the treads and risers into place.

So tape off your stairs, and paint the trim with 2 good coats of paint. This takes forever, but it’s well worth it.

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Now caulk the gaps between the stairs and trim. Using white caulk specifically designed for trim, get ready to make a mess. Cut off the tiniest tip of the caulk and squeeze small lines into the edges. Then use lots of paper towel and a big damp rag or towel to wipe off the excess. Plan to get your fingers messy and wipe off a ton of excess caulk. This was the best thing we did, because it helps fill in the gaps and stopped the squeaking.

Before caulking:

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After caulking and painting: IMG_4837

And you’re done! That’s the final step to making your ugly carpeted stairs into gorgeous wood stairs that’ll stand the test of time (and help add major value to your home). 

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Questions about installing stairs? Comment and let us know your questions or advice for other DIY stair installers! 

Paint Cheap and Cute Pinecone Ornaments

Pinecone ornaments

We’re all about pinecones around here. They look so cute as vase fillers, and even cuter as Christmas tree decorations! Here’s how to make cute flocked pinecone ornaments.

The stuff you’ll need:

  • Pinecones: Use scented ones from a craft store, or the best and cheapest option – collect them from nature!
  • White craft acrylic paint
  • Small paint brush
  • Low gauge floral wire  (26 gauge)

 

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1. Grab some floral wire and big pinecones: We collected pinecones and baked them (see the post on that here). Then I grabbed some low gauge floral wire, left over from our wedding floral, and looped it to create a hook for the pinecones. Twist the wire over the top couple of layers of pinecone.

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2. Get some cheap craft paint and go to town: Start from the bottom and work your way up, using white paint and a cheap little paintbrush to paint the edges of each pinecone.  I dabbed the paint on to make it look like snow fell on each edge. Starting from the bottom makes it easier to hold the pinecone (which I didn’t do on this particular pine cone, making for paint-covered fingers!)

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3. Add glitter (if you’re into shiny things – which I am): I didn’t have any glitter on hand, but you can always sprinkle silver or gold glitter while the paint is still wet.

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4. Hang on the tree: Enjoy your (almost) free ornaments! We hung them all over our tree to add texture and a really rustic look to an otherwise very shiny tree.

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What kinds of things have you decorated using pinecones? Comment and let me know – I’d love to hear what other decor lovers are doing!