Thursday, December 22, 2016

Holiday Reflections and Decorating

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." Charles Dickens wrote those words in 1859 and their relevancy feels pertinent to me today. The Holidays have always been my favorite time of year. Christmas trees glitter the windows of neighbor's houses, the smells of cinnamon and nutmeg permeate the kitchen, and connecting with family is the priority of the day. Yet, I have this underlying anxiety for the future of our country and the world. I suppose the cycle of humanity moves in this contradictory way: growing towards progression, countered by disrupting regression. And all I can control is my reaction. I choose to celebrate the best of times. Sorry to get so deep with my thoughts today, but isn't the point of the season to reflect?
I do have something to share, besides my meandering reflections. It's a holiday DIY! This is a project I found on Pinterest and I just had to try it out(sadly, it seems the website is no longer around so I can't give the creator of my inspiration credit). This is a DIY project to create your own Christmas tree wall hanging.
This project is especially handy for anyone who can't fit a Christmas tree in their home, doesn't want a live tree in their home, or wants multiple trees in their home(like me!). I hung mine in my bedroom.

Here's what you'll need:
-3(36" long) 1/4" wooden dowels
-hand saw
-12 wood balls, 1 1/4" wide
-12 small screw eyes(I had silver ones that I spray painted gold, but you could just buy them in gold and you'll save some time)
-12 Ornament hooks(once again, I spray painted mine gold, but if you can buy them in gold, go for it!)
-waxed string in a color of your choosing
-acrylic paints in a variety of colors
-wood glue

I didn't take a lot of progress shots, so my directions will mostly be written. Sorry to all you visual learners like me.
The first step is to measure and cut your dowels to the following lengths: 30", 24", 18", 12", 6" and 2"
Cut a long piece of waxed string, about 3 yards long. Fold it in half and tie a knot about two inches down. This will be the top of your "tree."
Loop the left side of your 2" dowel about 3-4 inches down from the top knot. Repeat with the right side. The loop will allow you to adjust the dowel so that you can straighten it. Repeat with the 6" dowel and so on until you get to the last and longest dowel at the bottom of your tree. This is probably the trickiest part. Hang your tree from a pin on the wall so you can adjust the dowels easily. I suggest using a level to make sure each rung is level. Once you are happy with the spacing of the dowels, tie a double knot on the bottom rung and cut the extra string. Apply a small dot of wood glue to the loops on each dowel so they not longer move.
Next, paint the wooden balls in a variety of colors. These paints from Target have a lot of fun hues, but I mostly mixed my own. Once you have a good couple coats of paint on the wooden balls, attach your screw eyes by simple screwing them in by hand. Attach the ornament hooks and they are ready to hang on your tree.
And there you have it. This wall tree is kind of large, so you can easily make a smaller version. I made a mini wall tree for my twin brother and sent it to him for the holidays. I hope you all have a splendid holiday and stay warm.
xo, Alden

Sunday, November 20, 2016

DIY Wall Hanging

Hi Friends,
This past week, the San Francisco weather has offially moved from Summer to Winter. To me, that means cozying up with a classic Christmas movie, hot tea and a good crafting project. So today I'm sharing an easy DIY you can do in front of your fireplace(or your favorite Netflix series). Might I suggest The Crown, for a welcome escape from this Nation's politics? You may remember the wall hanging from this recent post:
I made that first wall hanging with some random yarn I had stored away. But when I realized how simple and gratifying this DIY was, I decided to go out and buy some fun yarn colors to make more.
Here's a list of all the supplies you need for this DIY:
-about 3 colors of yarn
-a 3/4 inch wooden dowel(24" long for the large version, 12" long for the small version)
-rotary cutter
-cutting mat(or some thick cardboard)
I decided to stain the wooden dowels with a medium walnut stain, but you can also leave them natural. Next, you're going to spend some time cutting yarn. I cut yarn pieces about 60" long for the larger wall hanging, and about 30" long for the smaller wall hanging. I just cut a bunch or varying colors(about 30) before I began stringing them on the dowel. To attach the yarn, you simply fold one piece in half and place the folded loop behind the dowel:
Then, bring the two ends of the yarn through that loop and pull to tighten:
There must be a name for this simple knot; it's my favorite. Anyone know what it is?
Repeat this routine with as much yarn as you like, in a pattern of your choosing. When you are happy with the design, lay the ends of the yarn on a cutting mat or thick piece of cardboard. Decide what shape you want on the bottom of your wall hanging. I used a rotary cutter and a ruler to easily cut the yarn in a straight line.
Finally, simple tie a piece of string or yarn on both ends of the dowel for easy hanging.
Try this DIY project if you've been eyeing the macrame, weaving craze but aren't sure that you want to commit to it. I'm taking a weaving class at Workshop with my sister at the end of the month to see how I enjoy it. Anyone else have a crafting class they recommend?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Side Table Makeover

One of the great things about living in a place like San Francisco is all the awesome free stuff you can find on the street. Just this weekend I saw a large leather lounge chair on the corner. A jeep blasting music pulled up with 3 excited people jumping out, exclaiming, "Oh my god, I love this!" I hope this habit of purging, and passing things onto the "universe" doesn't ever stop. I know its easy to post things on Craigslist, but I love the simple, communal custom of putting stuff out on the street. Sure, it can look like a pile of garbage(because sometimes it is garbage) but often, another person's trash really is another person's treasure.
But let's get to the point of this post- a makeover! This side table was found, of course, on the street, by my good friend, Katherine. She picked it up hoping that I could refurbish it for her guest room, in which she will use it as a nightstand.
It was an interesting piece, with intricate, Colonial style details. On the inside of the cupboards are these wooden separators, which I couldn't figure out at first. But now I think this could have been sold as a record table and the slots are there to hold the records up. Pretty cool idea! If I'm wrong, please tell me. I'd like to know what purpose they serve.
The paint color was this dreary, dark greige and it was chipping in many places. The doors have a nice raised facade detail, but one piece was missing. At first I didn't even consider replacing that. But then I thought, 'C'mon Alden, you're creative. You can fix that.'
So I went to the hardware store with James and we bought a 1/4" dowel. At first we thought I'd have to cut the dowel in half to fix it to the door, but we weren't confident we could do that with such a skinny piece of wood. Then I thought of sanding the dowel down to half its size. And that worked perfectly!
We cut the edges on a slant and fit it to the cabinet door with wood glue, filling in the small cracks with wood putty. It turned out so well you can't tell which piece we replaced. I'm still patting myself on the back for that DIY.
The original knobs were interesting, but didn't seem to fit the style of the piece. So I ordered a pair from Anthropologie. I was drawn to the pretty clover detail as well as the colors since I knew the guest room has accents of pinkish rose. I decided to paint the table with Pure White by Valspar in a semi-gloss. I wanted a slight shine as well as the durability that a gloss paint provides. I brought in more gold by painting the feet with Devine Karat by Valspar, which you can pick up at Target, as well as spray painting the rest of the hardware in Rust-oleum's Gold Metallic. These accents compliment the gold that was already in the Anthropologie knobs.
The interior of the nightstand also needed some love. I cleaned it out; for some reason there was gum in there, yuck. Then I sanded and re-stained the bottom shelf in a dark walnut to match the rest of the interior.
For the blog, I styled the piece as a side table, but as I said before, Katherine will be using it as a nightstand. I think it could easily function as either with a reading lamp, a couple good books and a cup of tea. Now that's a recipe for relaxing.
I hope you liked this makeover, but most importantly, I hope Katherine will like it. And as always, thank you to the San Francisco street donators; you guys are the best!

Monday, October 3, 2016

New Furniture Projects and Pop-up

Hi Friends,
It's been a while since I wrote, and there is a lot to catch up on. I had Summer break, I played in the Ultimate World Championship in London(and my team won!) and I traveled in Edinburgh, Germany and Austria. It was a jam-packed trip and I'm realizing that jet-lag is a real thing. But I did find the energy to arrange another Pop-up Shop, with Laura's help, of course. What would I do without her?
This Pop-up was a lot of fun because we partnered with Laura's sister, Jennifer and her husband, Andy, who own and sell vintage posters(you can contact them at Look how beautiful the designs are on these vintage posters? We selected pieces that complimented the colors in the furniture and I think it was a great pairing.
Some of the pieces of furniture were from our previous Sale but a few were new. One of the new pieces is a vintage dresser that a friend donated to me. It was a little rough when it was given to me, but it clearly had wonderful bones.
So I decided to just clean the drawer fronts, keeping the integrity of the wood grain and inlay detailing visible. I also cleaned the rust off of the metal drawer pulls with a mixture of lemon and baking soda, which worked pretty well. Here they are before, and you can tell in the after photos that they were a lot shinier afterwards.
The inside of the drawers were in rough shape, so I covered the bed of the drawers with a pretty contact paper I found at Target. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Finally, I painted the outer frame of the dresser with Annie Sloan's Graphite chalk paint and sealed it with a coat of wax.
You may have noticed the yarn wall art hanging above the dresser. It's such an easy DIY project to create on your own. I've been making some larger ones with different colors of yarn that I will share with you in another post soon and you can try making one too.
The other piece of furniture I wanted to share is this painted chair I found on the street. Here's what it looked like when I found it.
And here'e what I ended up doing to it. A little crazy, maybe?
I think it's fun and would work in the right setting, maybe as a desk chair for a fun kids room? What do you think? Is the detail on the seat too much?
Anyway, I hope to be blogging more often now that my Ultimate season is over and as always, let me know if you're interested in any of these pieces.
XO, Alden