How to: Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can’t Paint!

I’m so excited to share with you this tutorial on creating a watercolor painting…without having to paint!  It really is so, so easy and I know you’ll love the results.

How to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint Tutorial

This idea started when I began looking for some artwork to hang above the bed in our master bedroom.   You’ve already seen the horrible before picture that was the blank oatmeal canvas of our master bedroom:

Master Bedroom Makeover- The Before

And the big improvement that came from some new bedding and our feature striped wall:

Master Bedroom Makeover, Striped Wall Tutorialand here is where we are today:

How to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint Tutorial(Details of the nightstand decor are coming next week!)

It doesn’t even feel like the same room to me!  Every little step gets us that much closer to having our finished romantic, peaceful, retreat.  Here is a close up picture of the artwork, and the subject of the tutorial today.

How to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint TutorialI will admit that drawing is one of my talents and since I can draw fairly well I assumed I would be pretty good at painting too.  I signed up for a painting class in college and from day one it was clear that I was way wrong!  Painting is so different from drawing and no matter how hard I tried I could not get my paintings to look like more than messy blobs.  But thankfully there are other people out there who can paint and are willing to share their amazing talents with us! And by using their paintings you can create unique artwork that is all your own!

How to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint TutorialYou’ll want to start by heading on over to Etsy.  Did you know you can buy watercolor clip art from Etsy?  This is clip art that is actual hand paintings done by talented artists that you can then use in your own personal projects.  It is PERFECT for the painting challenged like me!

I bought the Daisies Collection from SLS Lines.  I fell in love with the pretty yellows, soft blues, and creams.  Like I said, these are real paintings down by the owner of the Etsy store and then put in clip art form for you to use.

Daisies Watercolor Clip Art SLSLinesThe files cost only $5.50 which I think is a steal considering the time and talent put into the painting.  After you purchase your clip art you can download it straight to your computer and you’ll find each individual piece in a folder like this:

How to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint TutorialYou have each individual flower, leaf, and even backgrounds ready to use.  I created my “paintings” in PhotoShop by arranging the clip art in layers.

How to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint TutorialHow to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint TutorialHow to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint TutorialHow to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint TutorialBy creating three different arrangements I now have three different “paintings.”  I know that a lot of people don’t have PhotoShop so I wanted to show you easy it is to create the same look in a program almost everyone has… Microsoft Word!

Open up a blank document and then click on the insert tab. Select Pictures.

How to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint TutorialHow to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint TutorialHow to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint TutorialWhen you choose the option “In Front of Text” you can then place the image anywhere you want on the page, instead of being constricted by where Word thinks you should put the image based on the text fields.

Arrange the clip art to its desired position on the page and use the tools to resize, rotate, or move the clipart forward or backward.  Repeat the previous steps for each layer you add.

How to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint TutorialHow to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint TutorialHow to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint Tutorial1Do you see how easy that is?!  Once you are done you can print the finished product, frame it, and no one will ever know that it isn’t an actual painting.  And you can create just about anything.  The selection of watercolor clip art on Etsy is amazing.  Seriously, just search for water color clip art and see the gorgeousness that comes up.  None of these shops are paying me to mention their products, they have no idea I’m writing about them, I’m just sharing some clip art that I love and adore.  And remember that while you see the clip art arranged in these pictures, when you buy the files you get each element as a separate item.

Reach Dreams Violet Watercolor Clip ArtThese beautiful violet flowers from Reach Dreams (and actually everything in her shop.  she has gorgeous florals.).  $5.90

Honey Florals Clip Art SLS LinesGah!  How adorable are these Honey Florals from SLS Lines?  I love them.  $5.50  The jar, the cheerful flowers, the cute bumble bee… so many possibilities!

Hydrangea Watercolor Clip ArtAren’t these hydrangeas from kaazuclip stunning?  $5.00 and just as pretty as the real flowers in my opinion.

Cupcakes?  Yep, you can find that too!

Watercolor CupcakesThis Cupcake Collection for only $5.00 from kaazuclip.

Watercolor Cupcakes SetThis cute set for only $3.66 from Scrapstorybook.

You can even buy Christmas (and all other holiday) clip art.  Think of the one-of-a-kind Christmas cards you could create.

Watercolor Christmas Clip artThis is a beautiful Christmas Collection by ReaniDesigns for $10.00.

Christmas Owl Clip ArtPretty sure I need these Christmas Owls from DesignOnALara.  Only $3.50!

Christmas Clipart PackAnd this Christmas Trimmings pack definitely has everything you need for only $4.49 from FRANCEillustration.

I hope I’m getting my point across that you can find basically ANYTHING on Etsy for amazing prices and then easily use it to make your own unique creations.  I love supporting small businesses and finding special and unique items that I can use in my own home and life.  The next time you need some new art work in your home, whether for a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room, etc I highly recommend creating your own by using the vast resources available from talented artists who are willing to share their creations with us.

How to Create a Watercolor Painting When You Can't Paint Tutorial






My Gallery Wall

When we moved from our two bedroom apartment in Boston to a much larger, four bedroom house in Phoenix I found myself with a lot more space to decorate!  One wall in our house sat empty for many, many months because I could not figure out what to do with it.  Our family room has very high ceilings and the main wall is quite large.  I’m one of those weird people that actually don’t like high ceilings.  I’d rather have them be a normal height with pretty moldings or a something like coffered ceiling.  Tall ceilings feel empty to me, whereas a lower one feels more cozy and intimate.  But I digress….back to the actual room I was decorating.  I spent lots of time looking for inspiration on Pinterest, trying different layouts, and once I was finally done I really liked how the final gallery wall turned out.  I thought I’d share the design with you!

Knowing we had a big space to fill I also wanted to incorporate some shelves.  Of course I always try to keep things as budget friendly as possible so I hit up Goodwill first. (Sorry for the poor photo, I snapped it with my phone really quickly before painting the shelves.)

My Gallery Wall and Family Room Design

I ended up finding two shelves that still had their Pottery Barn price tag on them and I picked up each one for $5.00.  They are the bottom two shelves.  The top shelf was one from our old apartment that the previous tenant had left on the wall.   I am not above using another person’s cast offs!  :)

A fresh coat of white paint and the shelves looked like a perfect matching set once hung on the wall and accessorized.

My Gallery Wall and Family Room DesignThe white frames are all from Ikea and the black frames were another freebie.  A friend was going to get rid of a box of 12 black frames she had in her basement and I was more than happy to take them all. The rest have been painted and hung in other rooms around the house.  The clock is from Hobby Lobby and you might recognize the white vases from this post.  (Reminder, they are actually sparkling cider bottles that I spray painted.)

My Gallery Wall and Family Room DesignI am really happy with how well the gallery display fills the large wall and gives me a place to show some of my favorite art and family pictures.

My Gallery Wall and Family Room DesignIt looks great above our toy storage piece which Sam built for me a few months after moving into this house.  I LOVE it.  It is perfect for controlling the mess of toys and helps keep our family room clean and organized.  The bins are from Home Depot and the baskets on top are from Ikea.  The baskets hold diapers, wipes, burp cloths, baby blankets, etc.  They make it so easy to have all the necessary stuff on hand and yet tucked away so that the diapers are not on display for everyone to see.

My Gallery Wall and Family Room DesignWhile there are still some projects I’d like to do in this room I’m pretty happy with how it looks overall.  It is a great room for our kids to play in and for us to kick back on the couch and watch a movie after they’ve gone to bed.  What more do you need in a family room?  :)

My Gallery Wall and Family Room Design


Dresser Dilemma

Hello readers!  I have a small problem and I need some help!  If you follow me on Facebook you may have seen me talk about a new dresser that we purchased and later found out some interesting facts about said dresser.  You see we did some rearranging and needed to find a new dresser for our 2nd bedroom.  We begin looking on Craigslist, in thrift stores, on curbs (our usual spots, lol) and found this great piece for an even better price.

Antique Cushman Dresser

While it is not the color or finish that I like, it is a solid, well made piece of furniture (meaning heavy) and even though it has some scratches and dings it is in pretty good shape.

Once we got it home I started planning ways to refinish it and give this piece new life.   After tossing around a few ideas I decided to paint it a nice coat of white and bring in some silver to showcase the details.

Antique Cushman Dresser

Each drawer has a carved rectangle detail and in my vision it is painted silver to contrast against the white.   I saw this beautiful credenza makeover using gray and gold on Centsational Girl and after seeing hers I knew I was on the right track with my dresser.

Antique Cushman Dresser

I even bought these pretty handles from the Home Depot to replace the wooden ones that let’s be honest… are not my favorite.Martha Stewart Living Bedford 3 in. Canopy Cup Cabinet Hardware PullAnd while I was busy planning the makeover Sam was doing some research of his own.  You see inside the top drawer we also found this little plaque.Antique Cushman Dresser

Before we refinish any piece we always look into the history of it as much as we can.  I highly recommend always doing your homework!  And we found out some interesting things about Cushman Colonial Creations.

Henry Theodore Cushman started inventing and manufacturing pieces after the Civil War and in 1870 he opened up a small factory in Vermont.  He made lots of things including some of the earliest roller skates and he is also the guy we can thank for inventing pencils with erasers on the end.  He eventually started manufacturing furniture and his mission style pieces were very popular during the early 1900s.

Pretty cool right? But do you see my dilemma?  I don’t know if we should refinish this piece or not!  I’m not really sure that this piece is worth a ton of money, we found some selling for around $300 on Ebay so I don’t think I have something worth thousands here, but it has really cool history attached to it.  Do we keep it as close to the original as possible?  Not touch it?  Re-stain it?  Paint it?  I don’t know what to do!

So now you come in.  I want to know your thoughts and your opinions!  If you were in my shoes what would you do?  Do you cringe at changing a potentially historic antique?  Or do you say paint away and make it a piece we like and just enjoy the fun story behind it?  Let me know in the comments what you would do!

Antique Cushman Dresser




Decorating with Color 101

Just as no two people are alike, no two rooms should be alike either.  Your home should be decorated in a style that appeals to you, that functions with your lifestyle, and that mirrors your personality and tastes.  So why do we have “design rules?”  Because even though every person should decorate in their unique way there are guidelines to follow that will help you make sure your style and room are being put together in the best way possible.

One of the first design principles is Color.  Let’s talk about it!  Let’s start at the very beginning and break down the basics of decorating with color.

The Standard Color Wheel (or Palette Theory) is based off of the three primary colors Red, Yellow, and Blue.  When you combine two of the primary colors together you get the secondary colors Orange, Green, and Purple.  And finally when you combine a primary and a secondary you get the intermediate (or tertiary) colors Yellow-Orange, Yellow-Green, Blue-Green, Blue-Violet, Red-Violet, and Red-Orange.  Note that the primary color is always listed first in the intermediate colors.

Standard Color Wheel

Still with me?  Good.  When you take these twelve basic colors and combine them with black or white and in all their different shades and hues you have an unlimited number of colors to work with.   So with an infinite number of colors to choose from how do you know which colors will work best together?  By becoming familiar with the different color schemes and learning which ones appeal to you the most.  This is not every color scheme but it covers the most common.

Color Schemes

Let’s look at a few examples of each of these schemes starting with Monochromatic- based on one color.





Source: Apartment Therapy


yellow kitchenSource: Better Homes & Gardens

Monochromatic rooms often use lots of white or small amounts of black to counteract the potentially overwhelming use of one color.  They can be calming (blues, purples) or very vibrant and energetic (yellows, oranges).

Next is Analogous Color Schemes- colors directly next to each other on the color wheel.

Green, Blue-Green, Blue-

blue and green bedroomSource:

Blue, Blue-Violet, Purple-

Purple-Living-Room-Ideas-with-Blue-Sofa-SetSource: Zune Top

Analogous Color Schemes work best when one color is chosen as the dominant color and the others are then used in lighter, more subtle hues.

Direct Complementary are colors that are exactly opposite on the color wheel.

Red, Green-

apple-green-playroom2Source: Design Dazzle

Blue, Orange-

blue-and-orange-boys-room-bhgSource: Better Homes & Gardens

Purple, Yellow-

purple-and-yellow-living-room-via-justbesplendidSource: Homestyle Diary

Direct Complementary are often used in children’s rooms because they have a high energy and impact.  They are also often school colors.  When the colors are lightened though, they can provide very lovely, calming combinations.

Split Complementary is one color and the two colors on each side of its direct complement.

Green, Red-Violet, Red-Orange

93Source: Carpet Color

These colors schemes are also high energy and work best when one color is displayed more predominantly than the other two.

Achromatic Color Schemes rely on blacks, whites, and neutrals and don’t actually show up in the color wheel.  They rely on textures and patterns for visual interest and design.  Often we find these rooms to be very calming and relaxing.

DP_Dolgin-Neutral-Living-Room_s3x4_lgSource: HGTV
living-room-modern-Ideal-Home3Source: House to Home

Knowing a few basics of color theory can help you when you are deciding which colors to use in your own home.  Pick your favorite and then play around with the different combinations.  Look at the different hues and shades available within each color scheme and find what works for you.

Does interior design intrigue you as much as it does me?  Leave a comment letting me know!

Dresser turned TV stand

Don’t you hate it when you get so excited about a project that you completely forget to take pictures for your blog of the old piece of furniture until after that piece of furniture has already been carried down the stairs, left outside on the curb with a “free” sign attached and then loaded up in some guys truck and taken away so instead you have to look through all your pictures and the only images you can find are kind of-sort of pictures from the 4th of July? Yeah, I can’t stand that either.

TV Stand BeforeThat big, black bulky TV stand can be found in just about any college dorm or bachelor pad and up until a little while ago it could also be found in our apartment.  I have been wanting to replace it for the longest time but I wanted to do it on a budget and I was also on the lookout for a specific look.  We finally found the right piece of furniture for $30 on Craigslist.  Apparently it had been hiding in an elderly woman’s basement for the last 30 years.

This little lady might not be much to look at right away, she had seen some wear and was looking pretty worn around the edges thanks to years in a damp basement but the size and shape was just what I wanted.

Since she was in rough shape the first few steps involved Sam and his power tools.  He rebuilt some drawers, added a new kick-plate, put on some new trim…I won’t go into too much detail but let’s just say it involved lots of manly things like drills and sawdust.

Building a new TV stand

While Sam was taking the pieces apart we discovered something pretty cool.  All the joints in this piece are hand crafted.  This dresser isn’t some factory made, mass produced item. Don’t get me wrong, I love IKEA, but there is something really wonderful about restoring an old one-of-a-kind piece of furniture and bringing new life into a piece that was hand crafted many years ago.

Old dresser into TV stand- DIYSam also took out the top drawer and added a piece of wood on the bottom to create a shelf.  This shelf will house our DVD player, Wii, etc.

Looking a little better already right?  The next step was to give everything a very thorough sanding to remove all of the radioactive orange stain.

Up until this point my role had been keeping Sam’s water bottle filled and getting in his way so I could take pictures.   After we moved the dresser into our unfinished basement for some paint and stain though, I jumped in to help!  Thanks to wonderful basement lighting it looks like my latex glove is covered in blood but I promise, I’m not that creepy.

It is actually English Chestnut stain, which was applied on the top and the front of the drawers.  The sides and front of the dresser were painted in Creek Bend from Behr.Paint and Stain ColorsAfter two coats of stain and two coats of paint I really got to have some fun using stencils.  I purchased a set of Martha Stewart stencils from Michael’s and some black paint to create a fun design across the front.

A few tips when stenciling: 1. Don’t overload the brush.  If there is too much paint on the brush it will seep underneath the stencil and create blurry lines.  2. Dab the brush straight down.  Don’t brush from side to side.  3.  Don’t wait for the paint to dry completely.  It is best to remove the stencil when the paint is still damp.

Since the stencil didn’t cover the whole drawer front at once after each section was painted we just moved the stencil over, lined up the edges, and finished each end.

The last and final step before we put everything together was to add new hardware.  These pretty glass knobs came from the Home Depot.  I love the contrast between the dark wood and stencil and the sparkly glass.

Old dresser into TV stand- DIY

And here she is all put together and in the corner of our living room.  So much better than the black box that was there before.  I love the character and charm this TV stand adds to our home.

Old dresser into TV stand- DIY

The stenciling turned out perfectly.  And who knew that beautiful wood was there underneath all that orange-glo stain?

Old dresser into TV stand- DIY

By moving to a dresser instead of a traditional TV stand we gained some additional storage as well.  A basket inside the shelf holds remotes and other necessities and all of our DVDs fit into the top drawer.

Old dresser into TV stand- DIY Old dresser into TV stand- DIY

One more look at the before and after.  I feel like I’ve been saying this recently about all of our re-dos but this is my new favorite piece of furniture in our house!

Before and After DIY TV stand

Linking to House of Hepworths, The Shabby Nest,

Our DIY Entryway Bench

Since we moved into our apartment about 7 months ago we’ve been trying to make it our own, well as much as you can with a rental.  We’ve added some little touches in almost all the rooms but one area that had been completely untouched was our entryway.  These are some pictures from the day we moved in:

This is our living room and you can see the entry way through the French Doors.  It is a small landing with doors that lead off into the office, a guest bedroom, and the living room.

Here is a better view of the space.  And it has practically remained unchanged since I took this picture.  Well I finally decided that since this is the first thing that greets people when they walk into our house it was time to liven it up and make it more welcoming.

First I had to decide what I wanted and the look that I was going for.  I knew I wanted some sort of bench and I went on the hunt.  I found this bench on L.L. Bean and I really loved the piece in ivory.  But the price tag….$299!  Yikes, I’m not a fan of that.  We can do better.

A few days later my husband came home with the back of his truck full of some throw-away pieces.  The top of one table, a top of another table with a set of legs detached, and some random two by fours.  They were headed for the trash so Sam scooped them up and this pile was soon to be our new entryway bench.

This isn’t going to be much of a tutorial since the tutorial would consist of “see what you can find for free and then make something out of it.” but I will show you a step by step of our process.  Mostly Sam’s process because he’s the one with the power tools.

He began by cutting down the rectangular table top to be the size we needed for the top of our bench.  He then removed the frame from the bottom of the round table.  Because the bench is longer and skinnier, he had to cut and tweak the frame a little bit to get it to fit, and then he screwed it onto the new bench top.

Then the top got a nice rounded edge to finish it off.

The legs from the round table got a trim and were attached to the newly formed bench top.  Poor Sam, his workshop consists of the tailgate in our driveway.

The only piece of wood we bought for this project was a piece of plywood for $20.  We ended up only using half of the plywood and I’ve already got projects in mind for the rest of it.  Sam cut the plywood to fit in the sides, bottom, back, and middle shelves.

A few pieces of trim on the front and the sides was all it needed to finish off the assembly process.  A very good sanding to get it all smooth and we were ready to paint!

The paint colors I chose were Frost & Porpoise, both from Behr.

While we are talking about paint colors now might be a good time to mention the look I’m going for in our entryway.  I want it to be very subtle nautical.  I LOVE the nautical look but I don’t want it to be huge in your face, over the top cheesy.  I’m looking for a much more simple, modern approach to the style.

So paint.  We brought the bench inside and set up a drop cloth to cover the wood floors.  And then began painting.  This is the bench after the first coat of white.

We put two coats of white (and three on the top) and let it completely dry over night.  Once the paint was dry we began marking out stripes on the top.  I decided I wanted wide gray stripes with the white stripes in between to be a little bit smaller.  They gray stripes are 3″ wide and the white 2″.  The Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape worked great by the way.

The lighting in this picture is really off so the color of the paint looks kind of funny but the gray only needed one coat to create the stripes.  We let the paint dry just a little before removing the tape.

And lookie here! Perfect stripes.

Put in place in the entryway and it is absolutely perfect!  I’m in LOVE with it.

This basket from HomeGoods fits just right in the little cubby and will be a great place to store gloves and scarves during the winter.  The colors and texture, and the cute little knobs fit in with my subtle nautical theme.

I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.  For a pile of scrap wood, $20 worth of plywood, and $15 in paint I’d say we came up pretty nice.  Especially considering the $264 we saved by building it ourselves!

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