Category Archives: Top 20

Summer Mantle (mantel decorating) 2012

I was inspired to throw together my summer mantle this weekend….it was looking a little bit boring. Here is what I pulled from around the house to create a summery feel in the family room.

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I love my roll of kraft paper!! You can find a large roll of it in your local hardware store’s paint isle. Most use it for covering surfaces to protect them from paint….it can do so much more than that though. I measured a pieced the size of the mantel…using a saucer I traced half way to create a scallop design…then cut them out.


Super cute! I love the texture! Then I just started to layer on some things from around the house. An old ladder, some mason jars…a boat…and some glassware with dune grass. Nothing to fancy…just casual and fun…just like summertime.

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Below…I used a picture from last years mantle and secured it to the front of the fireplace doors with some sticky tack. A blanket and pillows complete the look. I love the simplicity of the set up and it just feels fresh and clean.

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Have you decorated for summertime? Do tell….

The Lettered Cottage

Sharing at tip junkie

DIY refinished stairs…how they have held up…

It is a question that has come up more than once…how do your stairs look now?? Almost 2 years after you finished them?? Well…I will show you…


It was one of my first major home DIY projects and it landed me in blog land when I completed it. I published a very simple step by step video about how we went about refinished our stairs.

Here is the Youtube…(gosh….I look a bit crazy in this clip…sorry for the crazy face…People with strong character laugh at themselves right,,,,say yes please…ha!?!?!)

Refinish your stairs

We could not be happier with our stairs. The finish of the paint is still perfect. We did choose to put sisal rug pads on the stairs.  But even so…the paint hasn’t chipped anywhere. They look as great as the day we finished them. Here are some answers to your questions….if I failed to answer your question please comment and I will reply ;)

Q.: Why did you use latex paint and not oil based or a stain?

A.: We didn’t want to match up (or attempt to match up) the railing stain. It would have come out too red or too brown. With that said we decided to use a true brown paint. The color is Sweet Molasses by Behr. We used a semi gloss latex. When that dried, 3 coats of poly was applied.


Q.: How did you use your stairs while you were finishing them?

A.: Once we were ready for paint…I painted a coat first thing in the morning…starting from the top down. I stayed off the stairs all day. By evening they were fine to walk up with socks (just to go to bed..) we tried our best to stay off them. The next morning I did the same thing. When we were ready for poly…I did every other stair. That way I could go up and down (think before you step…haha!) And then I repeated with the other stairs.



Q: Where did you get the sisal carpet treads?

A: Natural area rugs .com Several options available. We held ours down with carpet tape.



Q: How did you complete the stairs at the top?

A: Number one question…here is  a picture of the tippy top of the stairs. This pic was taken right after we had the maple floor put down so it was needing touched up…but you can see what was under the carpet. The top of my stairs was a piece of pine much like the treads…it was covered with carpet. I left the carpet there…wrapped around the top of the stair part and it was still stapled to the riser. Hope that makes sense;)


We look at the all the time and still smile. It was the most rewarding project. I encourage you to go for it!!


Here are the other post about the stairs…


Stair Video

Stair Reveal post

Phase One

Phase two

Phase three

Bedroom turned into an Office: Reveal


This project started out as just a “space for Bill to do a little work from home”…turned into meaning a whole lot more. When the peanut moved from her old room (which is now the office) into the guest room….it made for a few changes. We moved her into the guest space and decorated it to suit her. (here is that post) and within about a week…Bill had staked claims on her old room. “I need a place to do some work from home…” and I agreed. He is one of the hardest working hubby’s I know…he is up at 5:30am…every day. He works 6 days a week. This space has turned into so much more than an office. It is truly a retreat for him. I am thrilled with how it came out. His personality is throughout…full of character and genuine finds…just like him ;)office reveal post

Above you can recall what we started with….a bunch of pink and green…and a huge mess! I walked you through how I repaired the walls . That was super fun…or not….Then we had some gorgeous new maple wood floors laid. Yum! This floor makes such a statement here….we love them!

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The desk we created out of an old barn door and railing parts is really the focal point of this space. The thrift store chair makes it complete. When you to walk into this space….you have a real clear sense of who Bill is…loves peanuts, and long boat rides, Chicago, baseball (Reds and Cub’s..)…a hearty drink after a long day, sunset cruises and beach vacations…and his love for family. He is so deserving of this little retreat and I am so happy that is came together like it did.


Many items in this space came from antique malls…including the wing chair. A steal at $70 (the upholstery is brand new) The ottoman was $10 at a peddlers mall.


An old rusty tool box is a nod to his work in road construction (his family business is road paving…) Along with a vessel filled with rope (here is that post)…the table is from a local peddlers mall. It was already refinished this blue color…love it!



A collection of sea glass vases (Home goods) along with some drift wood and old books create an interesting corner. The large piece of rock coral was something we brought home from our honeymoon in Mexico. I think it is important to use items in a space that have real meaning–even it if is just a rock…it reminds both of us of our wedding ;)DSC_0078


A vintage peanut container makes a great place to hold paper clips. An old desk tray, glass milk jar and wooden box were all found at antique malls and they all serve a purpose to keep organized.


The gallery wall was really fun to put together. I will be doing a post soon on some tips and tricks for you to create your own. The photographs on the adjoining wall are pictures that I have taken…one is the lake…and the other is a picture of Wrigley. (PS….I have since turned the horseshoes the other direction….apparently they should be hung in the “u” shape…to “catch good luck…instead of pour it out”….now I know. I love it when my readers teach me something…I am a Yankee ya know ;)



I find myself using this room too! It is so peaceful and it gets the best light! I have office envy!!

The paint on the wall is Ben Moore Decorator White

The ceiling is Breathe of Blue by Valspar

Desk Post

Rope in vase

Update: How to sew a clutch and finish it

Hi all!! Hope you are having a relaxing Memorial Day weekend. I wanted to pop in and share a little update on a past post I did about making your own clutch purse….

A long while back I made a Youtube about how to sew a clutch purse. It has been viewed over 25,000 times. Y’all like the clutch purse…a lot. I have also had many questions about it…and so here is an update to answer some of those questions…I hope this helps yall ;)

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1. What size are the clasp for this clutch and where did you buy them?

The only place I have found that carries this size and style is a buyer on etsy . She is fabulous and can help answer any questions you may have too:)

2. How do you finish the purse?

Yes…an important step that I completely failed to leave out of the video. I am so sorry about this!! Here is my attempt to make it up to you….A photo tutorial…on how to finish your clutch purse….











If you haven’t viewed the original video…and would now like to make your own clutch purse…here is the link for the video. Please excuse my cheesiness….;)



DIY Barn Door Desk

barn door desk

There once was a girl..and a guy…who were completely in love with the design of a particular desk…but were not willing to shell out $680 for it…


source (Restoration Hardware)

So…they set out on a journey to create their own…very unique desk…for a whole lot less….Story of our lives ;)barn door desk

On a recent trip to a local antique mall…I spotted this old, heavy, solid wood barn door. (the lighting was poor inside the shop…the color is more true on the right side)  It spoke to me…”take me home, make me into something useful again…” And so I did. I tried to pick it up…and almost fell on top of it. Super heavy. So I did what most good wives do…I left it where it was and called in my honey to pick it up on his way home from work. So we had our desk top (for $25 !!) …now I needed to find the legs.


I went to another favorite spot…Architectural Salvage and I found these fabulous old railings. They were the perfect age, color and style. All they needed was a good cleaning up…and cut to length. The railings were $4 a foot and we bought 2 that were 7 feet long. About $60 for 4 legs….not bad. If you happen to go there…all the old wood and trim is on the 3rd floor…they are happy to show you where it is…the place is large!

We brought them home and cut them to 28 inches (the top was about 2 inches wide…then about 1/4 inch for glass) So the finished desk height is 30 1/4 high. The railings are 4 inches wide…which provides enough stability on their own for the heavy barn door top. If you were to use a narrow post for your legs…you would want to secure to a frame first.


We were lucky that the railings fit into the miter saw to give us a nice clean and even cut.


Measure twice…cut once :)  (I was listening Dad:)


  Here is what it looked like not screwed together yet. We were so pumped it was level right out of the gate! Score!! Oh…and I had originally thought to use the front of the door for the top…my friend Brittany said she like the character of the back of the door…so I tried that first and loved it. I am so glad you can see the cross braces of the door on the top.


We decided to put the desk together upstairs in the office. Dude is heavy…We placed felt on the bottom of the legs to prevent damage to the floor. We measured and stood up all the legs where we thought they would look best and be stable. We lifted the door on top and re-measured…making sure they door was in the center in comparison to the legs.

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We predrilled the holes so that our long screws would be countersunk into the top. This way the glass top would lay flat. The screws were secured to the top of the legs. 2 screws into each leg.


A piece of glass was cut to fit the top. (Kentucky mirror and glass) The piece of glass is 3/4 inched polished edge and was $70. Isn’t the back of the desk so cool!?!? You can see where the spindles were on these old railing parts. Love the character.

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The total cost for our original desk was $155. Not bad…not bad….We are in love with this desk! It goes so nicely with the old desk chair I found. This room is really becoming a favorite. It gets lovely light during the day…a nice little escape.



I have totally desk envy now…:) But my honey deserves it!

Just a few finishing touches…and I will show you all that we have done in this space.

Oh yes…be sure to sign up for the Minwax Express color giveaway!! Going to pull a winner today!

Sharing at Funky Junk, Tattertots and Jello, House of Hepworth, The 36th Ave, Miss Mustard Seed, Beneath my Heart, Southern Hospitality


Sew a custom Coverlet


I still walk in my daughter’s new room and smile. I would have loved this room when I was her age! It is such a fun hangout space! When we were looking for a comforter we came up short. There wasn’t much out there…besides zebra print. And neither of us really wanted that. I stumbled upon a fabulous tent sale at a local fabric store. This fabric was marked down to $5 per yard. It was a crazy price for this fabric. Original price on it was $48 a yard. YIKES! Goes to show you that if you see a bit tent outside a very fancy frilly fabric store…give yourself 5 minutes to look…you never know what you may find. I scooped up the last 2 yards and it became my daughter’s coverlet. Here is how I made it….


You need a large space! I used the floor. My daughter’s bed is a twin. The width of this fabric was the perfect size. I didn’t need to cut it or make a seam anywhere. If you are wanting to make a queen…you would have to by double the fabric and seam the fabric together in the center all the way down so that your width would cover the bed. For the backed of my coverlet I used a twin fleece blanket from target. It worked out great because I knew it I used that as a guide it would fit the bed perfect. Plus it’s nice and soft ;) We also used a down comforter under this to use as her main blanket.

Spread and smooth out the fabric. Place the fleece blanket (right sides together) and start pinning. Be SURE to not skip the pinning step!! It is crucial when you are sewing a ginormous piece like this to pin every 4 inches or so….otherwise you are going to  end up wanting a drink in the middle of the day. Super frustrated! Pin and be happy I say!



Sew a straight stitch all the way around the piece. Leave an opening large enough to get your hand in there. Turn the piece right side out and smooth out the corners. Fold in the opening and stitch shut.


And you have your custom made coverlet…on the cheap and completely unique!!



Sharing at House of Hepworth, Tatertots and Jello, The 36th Avenue

DIY personalized artwork

Happy Friday yall! I am on my way to Dallas today to speak at the Project Mom conference this weekend. I am so excited to meet and greet Dallas friends;) I will be tweeting and facebooking fun things to share so check in there this weekend. Special shout out to my friends on the “court” and beyond…thanks for all your encouragment and well wishes. I wish yall could come with me too! You are all dear to me…I am blessed :)

Here is a great project that you can get done this weekend. Personalized art….perfect for any room!


I am so thrilled that you all like how the peanut’s room came out! She is loving the space. Her brother is anxiously awaiting his new room now. I wanted to share with you how to create the artwork that I used in her room. It is really simple and I think it is always nice to have something personal on the wall.

I ordered 3 prints from costco. They are 16 by 20. I did black and white because we thought that would make a nice statement on the wall.











Get some inexpensive canvas sets at the craft store that are also 16 by 20.  Spray with tacky spray and position a print on top. Flip over and smooth out.



That is it!! I simple and on the cheap! Love it! Nice thing about these is that when we have another great picture to blow up…we can change them out without too much cost.

Cause you know how 12 year old girls are…they tend to change their mind a lot! :)

Oh…I am on Instagram sharing pictures! You can get the app on any smartphone. Look me up at cleverlyinspired  :)

A Preteen room in Aqua and black: REVEAL

DSC00008 Hey all!! Did ya miss me?? I hope you enjoyed the guest post last week. I was reading right along with you! We had a great spring break…and I will share a few favorite pics soon. Here is a final post about the peanuts room. She is loving it!! It has become quite a little hangout…which is what she was wanting. The room is super hard to photograph. I used my panoramic function on my point and shoot to give you the full effect..hopefully.




We tucked her dresser into the closet to save on space…worked out great. I placed a small “tower” shelf system in a tight space by the closet. This holds all her lotions and potions and some towels…etc. DSC00010 The feature wall was so much fun to decorate. I blew up 3 black and white pictures and spray glued them onto canvas. The round mirrors are from kirklands and the “life” print is from TJ Maxx.


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The head board was a thrift store find…I painted it with chalkboard and metallic paint. The coverlet was made from a fleece blanket and 2 yards of fabric…more on that soon:)


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Just a touch of blush pink…(to make momma happy :)

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The perfect place to hang…don’t ya think?!?!

A couple of past post about this space…


Preteen room

Preteen room 2

Post Update:

As for the paint:  I don’t have the specific brand….or color. It was painted several years ago,…however a great place to start would be Benjamin Moore Covington blue (ask for a half strength formula) which is basically half the pigment. Good luck:)

Paint a chandelier

$18 80’s light gets a new life DIY painted chandelier


One of my very favorite spots to find thrifty things is the Restore by Habitat for Humanity. They take donations there also…if you are looking to get rid of any old building supplies. It is my go to place for old lights. You can always find a good deal! In Louisville we are lucky enough to have two locations…one down by Cardinal stadium on Floyd St. and the other is in Hikes Point by the Homegoods.

Usually you can find several styles…old and new. I loved the simple and elegant lines of this chandelier for the kitchen. I knew it would look fabulous again with a new coat of chrome paint. Here is how I went about updating this light…along with some handy dandy tips!











First I cleaned it up a bit with a damp cloth. I removed the hard ware that was removable like this covers. What I couldn’t remove I covered with foil. Makes it easy to cover the parts that need to stay…while keeping them paint free!


A baggie is also handy to keep cords and wires safe from paint…



I hung my light outside with some twine (up to my garage door track ;) Since it was a bit chilly I had to warm my spray paint up for about 10 minutes in a bowl of warm water. Works like a charm…and makes it a snitch to spray paint when temps are low.

Be sure to shake it up good after it is at room temperature. You are good to go!



A coat of primer (white by Valspar) and 2 light coats of chrome paint and this light is back in business!



Winner of the Martin’s pretzel giveaway was announced yesterday on Facebook! Congrats Tracey!!! Contact me ;)

Tracey says: March 29, 2012 at 9:35 am I like short, hard stick-style pretzels plain…plus I love warm, soft ones with warm gooey cheese like they sell at concessions stands. Thanks for the chance to win! They look great! congrats Tracey on winning some of Martin’s pretzels!!!! Contact me and let me know salt or no salt;)

Simple Key Lime Pie




This recipe will always remind me of home. We had it on Thanksgiving for dessert. It is really quite refreshing after a heavy meal…and it taste even better the next day. It would be a perfect ending to an Easter celebration as well.

My mom and I had a hard time getting the recipe right…since it was my Grammie’s and she never wrote it down (in complete measurement form).

I am sure you have seen pies similar…it is an oldie but goodie and I just had to share.

key lime collage

I used the Nellie and Joe brand Fresh key lime juice. Yum!

In a mixing bowl, combine juice and 14 oz. sweet condensed milk. Mix for about 3 minutes on medium. (I also add about 4 drops of green food color )

Zest one whole lime and combine.

Fold in cool whip (or fresh whipped cream would be fine too) About 8 oz..

Pour into a graham cracker crust and top with a touch more or lime zest. Chill for about 3 hours.



14 oz. can sweet condensed milk

1/2 C fresh key lime juice

4 drops green food color

1 lime

8 oz cool whip or fresh whipped cream

graham cracker crust

 Sharing at Stories A to Z

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