How to mix and match throw pillows

How to mix and match throw pillows

Throw pillows are a great way to add personality to a space. You can easily change them out for the season or your mood. However, mixing fabrics is a skill. It takes practice and sometimes some trial and error.

Join me in a little demonstration.

These are the pillows I chose when we first bought our beloved basement couch. It came with six pillows, and I selected three different fabrics. I wanted colour, pattern and something not too serious. However, it turned out they didn’t all play together as nicely as I wanted.

Observe.

How to mix and match throw pillows

On their own, the patterned pillows each work with the turquoise velvet, but they do not work with each other, despite sharing several colours.

How to mix and match throw pillows

However, let’s look at another equation.

How to mix and match throw pillows

Remember back when I made our big round ottoman? How I searched for the perfect fabric, and the one that ended up working best with the striped pillows was the bird fabric that I already had in my stash? I still love this fabric, and since I ended up buying more to supplement my stash, I still had a good amount of yardage. More than enough to make two pillows.

These ended up being the most professional pillows I’ve ever made. They have zipper closures, piping and even extra liners to help contain the feathers, which always seem to work their way out through the covers. I love them so much.

How to mix and match throw pillows

But what about the poor rejected blue-green geometric? Here’s another equation for you.

How to mix and match throw pillows

The feather is another fabric that I’ve had in my stash for years. I had always planned to use it to make cushions for the couch upstairs, and I finally got around to it. The blue and green bring a bit of summer into the living room.

How to mix and match throw pillows

I love the serendipity of two stash fabrics being perfect mix for pillows that we already had. Along the way, I’ve learned a few lessons about mixing fabrics.

  1. Let’s start with defining our fabrics. For the purpose of this demonstration, I’m going to use the labels “solid” (pretty self-explanatory), “geometric” (could be a stripe or another more linear pattern–the colourful stripe and the blue-green links both fall into this category for me) and “floral” (self-explanatory, but I’ll extend this to include fabrics like my birds or the feather).
  2. Don’t mix like patterns. By this I mean geometric with geometric or floral with floral. Unless the scale is dramatically different similar patterns will compete with each other like my pillows did. This exercise has taught me that the best bet is to mix different types of fabrics, like a geometric with a floral.
  3. Pick fabrics that share similar colours. This is probably the easiest way to mix. Colours don’t have to match exactly (the turquoise piping on the bird pillow isn’t the same as the turquoise velvet, but they still play well together).
  4. When mixing patterns, start with your most dominant pattern first. This is probably my biggest takeaway. My mistake in the family room was using the turquoise velvet as the base. It’s easy to match cushions to a solid. It’s harder to match the bossy stripe. But once I put that at the centre of the equation, I was able to make the mix work.

Pillows are some of the easiest items to sew–and there are also plenty of options to buy. They can add a finishing touch to a room or completely change the feel of a space. I like being able to freshen up the living room for the summer season, and I’m also very glad to have found the right mix for the family room.

Do you enjoy mixing and matching pillows? Do you sew your own or purchase? Do you change your decor with the season? What are your tips for finding a mix that works?

Two tiny shelves

When I was working on my office, I knew I wanted to find a way to display two collections. One was my Red Rose Tea figurines and the second was china thimbles my MIL has brought back from various trips she’s taken.

The thing about both of these collections is that they’re small. I had the shelves of the china cabinet where I could tuck in a few thimbles or figures, but they’d be lost amongst the bigger items on display. I also didn’t want them on a tabletop where they took up space that could be a work surface.

I decided to do two small shelves.

First was a small floating shelf for the thimbles. This shelf was so small and the thimbles are so light that I knew it wouldn’t need much support and I could screw it right to the wall.

China thimbles displayed on a small floating shelf

I cut a piece of 1×2 to the length I wanted and then drilled two holes through the face of it. The holes served two purposes. The first was to make sure the shelf didn’t split when I screwed it to the wall. The second was to recess the heads of the screws. I made the holes slightly bigger on the front so that the screws would go into the shelf by about a quarter of an inch.

I painted the shelf the same colour as the wall and then screwed it into place. Then I filled the holes with woodfiller and painted over them. The shelf blends into the wall very well, so that it (almost) looks like the thimbles are floating.

The second shelf is ingenious, but I can’t take credit for it. I found the idea on The DIY Mommy. This shelf started its life as a cutlery tray. I lopped off the one segment that ran perpendicular to the others on my Dad’s tablesaw. Then I painted it white, and simply screwed it to the wall. It is exactly the right size for my collection of nursery rhyme tea figurines.

Red Rose Tea figurines displayed on a cutlery tray made into a shelf

I love having different things hanging on the wall, rather than the usual pictures and paintings. These two collections have a lot of meaning for me. Memories of the tea figurines that lived in my grandmother’s china cabinet, appreciation for my mother-in-law thinking of me and my love of sewing when she’s traveling.

Do you have any small collections? How do you display “smalls”? Have you built any tiny shelves?

Fun and games in the family room

Basement TV area

Way back when we started looking for our perfect farm, one of the things we wanted was a useable basement. Many farms come with old farmhouses which don’t typically come with great basements. Usually, there are rubble and stone foundations, shallow ceiling height, dirt floors and moisture.

One of the things that made this farm a winner was that it had a very, very useable basement. You saw the transformation on Friday of how we renovated the TV area. Today I’m delving into the details of how we decorated it.

It all started with these posters. These are Matt’s two favourite Monopoly properties. When I saw them on Lindsay’s blog, I knew I had to make them for him.

Monopoly posters

Theme is a bad word when it comes to decor, but we have a loose fun and games theme happening here in the basement. On the TV stand I made a die to serve as a bookend and on the ottoman we have a backgammon board tray.

I like these little pops of fun.

Dice bookend

Backgammon board tray

The other pop we have in the basement is colour. The base is neutral–the walls, carpet, couch, chair. The red throw, the green tray, the purple lamp and, of course, our pretty pillows all add personality.

The lamp sits on top of a wood cheese drum that came from Matt’s grandpa’s house. It’s too low to be used as a proper end table, but it’s the perfect height to give a bit of a glow when we’re sitting downstairs. And it’s the little touch of rustic that I’ve decided every room at the farm needs.

Purple lamp on a wood drum

I love these pillows. The stripe is bossy, a little bit retro and a perfect match to the bird fabric that  I used on our DIY ottoman (Crazy Ol Bird Midnight by Swavelle/Mill Creek). I love this bird fabric so much that I bought a lot of it, and I had plenty to make two pillows for the couch. (The stripe and the turquoise velvet pillows came with the couch).

Colourful pillows

The sectional is so comfortable. I love the chaise, I love that we have room for a huge number of people, I love that everyone can sit with their feet up. The ottoman also serves another purpose. The top hinges open to give us lots of storage.

Basement TV area after

The other half of the TV area holds–what else–the TV. My Dad and I made the TV cabinet five years ago when we were first putting the basement together. And it’s awesome.

TV cabinet with multiple video game systems

The goal with the TV cabinet was to hold all of Matt’s video game systems. He’s never been able to have them all hooked up at once, but here he finally does. There’s everything from old Nintendo and Sega to new Playstation and XBOX. The drawers hold games, controllers, cables and other accessories.

Video game TV cabinet

Beside the TV stand is the Austin chair that I won from Blogpodium. The boxy shape and grey fabric work perfectly with the rest of the TV area.

Chair with red throw

Baxter’s toys live in a basket under Austin–the basement is fun for everyone.

Dog toys

Our big renovation gave us a space. All of the little decorative details make the space. It’s personal and fun and perfect for us.

Basement TV area after

What’s your must-have for a fun family room? How do you feel about decorating themes? How do you mix neutrals and colour? Do you have a video gamer at your house? What are your favourite Monopoly properties?

China cabinet makeover for craft room storage

China cabinet makeover

All the time I was thinking of making over my office, one element was a constant. I wanted to use a china cabinet as the main storage piece in the room.

I liked the idea of drawers, cupboards and shelves to give me a variety of storage options. I also liked the idea of using as much vertical space as possible.

More than a year ago, I found the perfect cabinet–or almost perfect.

It had drawers. It had cupboards. It had shelves. It was the exact width that I wanted, but it wasn’t quite tall enough. The shelves couldn’t even hold a magazine.

I thought I could probably rebuild the upper hutch. And fortunately I was right.

Vintage china cabinet

The cabinet was well-constructed–each shelf connected into the side supports with a tongue and pocket screws–but it came apart fairly easily. I cut off the tongues so that I could reattach them to the new side pieces that I bought. I was even able to reuse the pocket holes (but didn’t fill them because they’re under the shelves where I can’t see them most of the time). I bought new boards for the sides and one for an extra shelf–gotta get that vertical storage.

Pocket holes

Along the way, I did away with the two little drawers from the upper section. I really wanted to keep them, but I would have had to build two more drawers to get the look I wanted. Building drawers was more than I wanted to tackle. So I went with two shelves that were close together and planned to find some baskets that could work kind of like the drawers would have.

The base didn’t require any rebuild. I had thought about changing the feet, but then decided, again, that it was more than I need to do.

The base did get some special attention though. I stripped the top and stained it a darker colour (Minwax Provincial). The rest of the cabinet got my go-to Cloud White in Benjamin Moore’s Advance formula.

You may remember from when I first shared the makeover plans for this cabinet that I wasn’t sure what to do with the cabinet pulls. They’re wood and recessed into the doors and drawers. I gave them a light sanding and then gooped them up with some of the Provincial stain. It worked. The dark pulls against the white cabinet look okay to me.

Wood cabinet hardware

The white paint blends the new wood that I added with the old wood of the original cabinet. The worst of the scratches on the top are camouflaged by the dark stain.

Scratches on the refinished china cabinet top

The one wrinkle that I wish I had planned a little farther in advance is the baskets. It took me awhile to find the colour and weave I envisioned in the size I needed. And it turns out there’s just the slightest variation in the size of the baskets that I bought. I thought they were a pair, but one is just slightly taller than the other–as in it fits a wee bit tight on the shelf (see it below on the right?).

If I’d given myself an extra half inch on the shelf, or measured the baskets more carefully, it would have been a non-issue. Overall, though, this is a minor inconvenience in what is an otherwise successful transformation.

Storage baskets in the china cabinet

The best things about the china cabinet are how much it holds and how it helps to keep everything organized. The shelves easily hold magazines, and, confession, I even have a junk drawer for when I gave up on sorting so many things.

One last time. Here’s the before.

Vintage china cabinet

And here’s the after.

China cabinet makeover

I love this transformation.

Colourful creative office

Office after

My office. A space that’s completely my own. The last bedroom in our house. It’s done. And I’m so happy with how it turned out.

While I’ve used the word “office” to describe this room, it’s really a sewing, crafting, creative space.

It’s filled with the things that I like to do. The things I like the most and that mean the most to me (Bill!). I love that I now have an organized room that I enjoy being in.

Favourite things in the office

This wall used to be filled with boxes that had been packed since we moved in five years ago. Now, the thrifted china cabinet holds sewing and knitting supplies, magazines and memorabilia–and keeps them all organized.

China cabinet storage in the office

Sewing pattersn and knitting needles

Knitting and sewing supplies

Growing up, I never won a trophy. When we were dating, I mentioned this to Matt. One fall, after I ran my first 10K, Matt presented me with a huge trophy. It meant so much to me that he did that. However, the trophy was truly huge. I took it apart and then put it back together in a slightly smaller configuration, and it fits easily on the shelves.

Running trophy

Reconfiguring the closet was also hugely helpful to keep everything organized. Hanging up my big pieces of fabric makes it easy to see what I have and ensures that I’m more likely to use them.

Fabric stash hanging in the closet

When it came to art, I wanted to display some of my favourite things–like this collection of vintage hats. My Mom taught me how to sew. She learned from her mother–the original owner of most of these hats. In fact, my great-grandmother made one of the hats that is hanging on the wall.

I love the idea of a time where people regularly dressed up to go out, and hats were part of the outfits. I don’t live in that world, but I can still enjoy these hats by having them on display.

Vintage hats hung on the wall

The gallery wall is another showcase of my favourite things.

Gallery wall

The same grandma that taught my Mom to sew also had a collection of Red Rose Tea figurines. Often when we were leaving her home after visiting, she would give us a figurine to take home. A few years ago, I decided to collect a full set of the nursery rhyme statues. Between gifts and flea markets, I got every one. However, I’ve never had a place to display them. Now I do–along with a fun photo of my Mom and I modeling some of the hats.

Red Rose Tea figurines

Another small collection that is finally on display is my thimble collection. Matt’s parents travel a fair amount, and my MIL buys a china thimble for me pretty much everywhere they go. I made a really small shelf to go above my sewing machine, and it holds all of the thimbles perfectly.

A magnetic strip from Lee Valley, painted the same colour as the wall, holds sewing instructions where I can easily see them as I’m working.

Thimble collection

While I’m not an official participant in the One Room Challenge, which concludes this week, it definitely helped motivate me to finish off this room. I love that every item on my to-do list is crossed off.

You can check out all of the official ORC participants at Calling it Home.

Feminine blue and floral office

There are so many little details that make this room work really well for me. And I love the beauty and the sentimentality that I was able to incorporate as well. While the ORC motivated me to finish the office, the room itself is now motivating me to keep crafting. I’ve returned to some projects that have been hanging around for a little while and had a super productive sewing month where I’ve churned out a dress, jacket and several pillows. I’m excited by what else this room is going to inspire.

Thanks for following along on the makeover. Do you have a crafty creative space at your house? What helps motivate you to finish projects–whether big like a room makeover or smaller crafts? Do you have a favourite collection on display?

Snoring, storing and decoring in the office

Baxter dozing

My sidekick and I made some more progress in the office this weekend. To be truthful, my sidekick snored and snuggled his dinosaur. I made the progress.

Beyond making the office pretty, I want to make it useful, organized and tidy. Usually when it comes to storage, I make due with whatever freebies I can find–cardboard cartons, shoe boxes, containers destined for the recycling bin.

While sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. So for the office, I bought proper storage containers. Thanks to all of the sorting and tossing I’ve done, I didn’t need too many.

From a big cardboard box full of old school papers, I now have one–much smaller–plastic bin.

Plastic storage box

Six smaller containers hold all of my fabric remnants and fit perfectly into one of the cupboards in the china cabinet.

Plastic storage boxes

On the pretty side of the office makeover, I worked on the gallery wall. I’m actually not a huge fan of gallery walls. But I when I thought about everything that I wanted to display in the office, I realized that the best arrangement was to put them all together.

I am not a patient person, so I tried just laying it out on the floor and translating that to the wall. But it was hard to visualize. I traced each item onto paper and then taped them to the wall. I’m glad I took the time to map it out. It helped to finalize the layout–and realize that the initial placement was much too high.

Planning the gallery wall

Once I settled on the arrangement, I started hammering nails into the wall right away. But then I had to exercise some patience again. It was hard to get the pictures exactly where I wanted just by guessing where to place the nail. I took a minute to run downstairs and grab a paint stick and a screw. I don’t know why it took me so long to make this little tool. It made hanging the pictures so easy.

Paintstick picture hanger

I’m excited to show you the final gallery wall and the rest of the office next week when the One Room Challenge concludes. You can check out all of the official participants at Calling It Home.

Do you have a gallery wall in your home? How do you handle storage? Who else has a lazy sidekick?

Walking down memory lane via the office

Sorting bills

Oooh, you’re in for a special blog post today. The next step in my office makeover was… wait for it… paperwork and filing. You can’t stand the excitement, right?

Paperwork may not be the most photogenic or interesting topic for a blog post. But it’s a fact of life, or at least a fact of my life.

I actually have some great systems to manage paper in my office. I’ve set these up over the last few years and they work pretty well for me. So even though I’m making over the office, I’m not making over absolutely everything.

This mail organizer is my main tool. As soon as the walls were painted, I reinstalled this right away. I only file paperwork a few times a year (all of our bills except for our credit cards are set up for automatic debits), so the piles of mail and bills grow and get messy. The organizer isn’t always tidy, but it avoids the piles.

Mail organizer

Receipts live in a box in a drawer until I reconcile them with my statements.

Receipts

You know we keep a pretty close eye on our finances. This reconciliation is one of the ways I do that.

Once everything is sorted, the papers go into our filing cabinet. The filing cabinet may not be the prettiest piece of furniture, but it’s very functional for us. I’ve seen some cool filing cabinet makeovers with paint, hardware and even fabric, so that may be something to consider for the future.

In the meantime, appreciate the nearly empty mail organizer.

Filing cabinet and mail sorter

The other paperwork I tackled was a huge box full of old schoolwork. As in from kindergarten through to university. Most of it ended up on the burn pile, but I kept a few things like report cards, class photos, my award-winning science project, a couple of memorable stories and this prophetic drawing.

Farm drawing

Even for the things I didn’t keep, it was fun to look back. I could see how my teacher’s comments on my grade 12 English essays made me a better writer–she was a tough marker, but completely right. In the kindergarten folder, I found this mimeographed matching sheet.

First test

On the back in my Mom’s hand-writing, it said “Julia’s first school test.” Awww.

First test

Now that I have returned from memory lane, I’m looking ahead again on what’s left for the office. Here’s where I’m at:

  • Buy and install light fixture
  • Unpack remaining boxes and organize china cabinet
  • Style china cabinet shelves
  • Sort and file paperwork
  • Install gallery wall #1
  • Install gallery wall #2
  • Reupholster seat of wooden chair

We’re down to two weeks to go in this mini One Room Challenge. Remember you can check out the official ORC participants at Calling it Home.

How do you organize mail, bills, receipts and paperwork at your house? Have you gone paperless yet? Has anyone else kept old schoolwork?

Mini One Room Challenge update #1

Vine flushmount light fixture

There are three weeks left in the official One Room Challenge. And three weeks left in my personal mini-ORC, also known as mission finish the office.

Already the motivation of the ORC is working. I had a very productive weekend, and I’m excited to see the finishing touches for the office coming together.

Here’s the to-do list update:

  • Buy and install light fixture
  • Unpack remaining boxes and organize china cabinet
  • Style china cabinet shelves
  • Sort and file paperwork
  • Install gallery wall #1
  • Install gallery wall #2
  • Reupholster seat of wooden chair

As you can see from the photo above, I have a proper light fixture now. I’ve envisioned this light fixture in the office for a long time. I second guessed myself for a moment when I finally bought it, but now that it’s installed it’s perfect. I love the dark metal and the vines and the crystals.

It’s kind of fun and a bit of a different experience to decorate a room completely for myself.

Something that’s also entirely for me is the gallery wall you see behind the light fixture. I’ll share more about that in a couple of weeks when I post the final the reveal.

Another personal favourite is the Brissac Jewel fabric by P Kaufmann that I used on my bulletin board and slipper chair. It’s making another appearance, this time on a wooden chair that past owners left at the farm.

Upholstering this chair hadn’t been part of the original plan for the office, but I couldn’t let this chair go (I have a thing for chairs). Covering a slip seat is a whole lot easier than upholstering the slipper chair. Pulling all of the staples out of the old upholstery probably took longer than adding the new fabric.

The dark wood and the bright fresh fabric look so nice against the white desk and turquoise walls.

Sewing desk

A major perk of the ORC is it ensures I complete all of the little details of a makeover. Details like paint touch-ups (which were also part of my weekend) and upholstering this chair.

It’s those little details that make a room come together. I’m thankful to finally be at that point with the office. Just a little more to go. We’re getting there.

So are all of the other bloggers that are participating officially in the ORC. Even though I’m not linking up, I encourage you to check out the other makeovers at Calling It Home. There will be new updates every Wednesday and Thursday until May 10.

Have you ever decorated a room just for you?

New upholstery for a vintage slipper chair

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

When my Mom was cleaning out my grandmother’s house, I asked if I could have the slipper chair. When my Mom showed up with a pink skirted chair, I was surprised. I actually didn’t remember ever having seen this chair before. The “slipper” chair I had in mind was a parson’s chair that had sat in my grandmother’s front hall. I ended up with that chair too–in fact it turned out to be one of a pair and I got them both in addition to the little pink slipper chair.

Yes, I have a thing for chairs.

I stripped off the pink cover and the old padding way back when we were still living at our first house. And the poor chair has sat naked in the pool room since we moved here to the farm. (I still had the pink cover balled up in a plastic bag. I slipped it back on the chair for a photo op. However, with no stuffing and an extreme number of wrinkles, the chair, which was already pretty sad, looks really, really sad.)

Reupholstering a slipper chair

I’ve always envisioned the slipper chair being part of my office, so now that that makeover is underway, it was finally time to give the slipper chair a new life.

This was a totally start from scratch scenario. I had the wood frame of the chair and that was it.

Wood frame of a slipper chair

This was also a totally make it up as I go scenario. I am not experienced in upholstery and am–like many people–a bit intimidated by it.

So I just dove in. I stained the legs to a dark brown. I covered the seat with some foam, and then put more foam on the back. I covered it all with batting, mashing it around the corners. I stapled, stapled and stapled.

Reupholstering a slipper chair

Then I covered it all with an old sheet, stapling the heck out of every fold.

Reupholstering a slipper chair

Then things got serious. I pulled out my bolt of Brissac Jewel fabric that I’ve had for longer than I’ve had the chair. There was lots of laying things out, turning them around, laying them out again, putting them back to the exact way they were before. And then doing it all over again. Once I finally figured out how to place the fabric, I then spent a lot of time stuffing material around the legs and trying to get the folds just right–or right enough.

Reupholstering a slipper chair

Reupholstering a slipper chair

I made my own piping and used flexible metal tack strip (plygrip) for the first time (this video was very helpful).

Reupholstering a slipper chair

I built my grip strength using my vintage manual staple gun–seriously, I’m almost ready for American Ninja Warrior. My fingertips are still tender. If I take on more upholstery, I would invest in an air powered staple gun. However, a project like this can be done with very basic tools–and very basic skills.

I covered up the messy underside with another piece of the sheet (although the packing crate that was used for the seat is pretty cool–I wonder what went to Montreal via Halifax).

Stamped wood on the underside of the vintage slipper chair

Underside of the slipper chair

My grandmother grew up in her family’s furniture store and reupholstered furniture regularly. She made the pink slip cover that was on the slipper chair originally. All I could think as I was working on this chair was that she would definitely have something to say about my technique if she was around. And I wish she was around to tell me how to do it right.

Right or wrong, though, it turned out pretty well. I can see the few flaws, but overall, I’m really proud.

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

I think my grandmother would be too.

Cool or creepy?

Bookshelves

One thing our home is lacking is bookends. I know. It’s tragic. You pity me, don’t you?

I will admit that as our bookshelves are filling up, there is less and less need for bookends. On many shelves, the books now go end to end, and I have a hard time squeezing in the decorative objets that I want to display.

However, I am still on the hunt for some bookends. So far, I’ve found them hard to find.

I’m only looking casually at thrift stores, so this hasn’t been the most active of hunts. I don’t want them to be super kitschy. I also want them to be cheap–hence, thrift store.

I came across this hand bookend last week. I immediately picked it up, but then I second guessed myself. Was it creepy?

Hand bookend

I bought it anyways.

Even if it is creepy, I think it works with Matt’s Stephen King collection.

Hand bookend

What’s your vote? Creepy? Or cool?