One of the things I learned in art school is that, as a creative professional, it is important to surround yourself with work (specifically by other artists/creative persons) that inspires you. Your work becomes better by looking at other artist’s work and thinking through their processes, studying their compositions, color combinations, flow, brush marks, lines, movement, etc. I love using Pinterest and Instagram to follow and pin work of artists I love, but I find that it is most helpful to have that inspiration close at hand (in physical rather than digital form) in my studio/office space.

When I was in college, I turned an old thrift store ornate frame I had into a inspiration board (see here in my Tulane studio and again here, here, and here in my home studio). I loved having my inspirations close by, but it was a really small surface area and I was constantly having to pick my favorites to put on it. For a while I’ve wanted to build something a little bigger than that, but I just hadn’t decided on what. Should this one be another fabric-covered cork board or should I look into a large piece of metal to make a magnetic one? I was talking through my ideas with Drew one evening and he was all like, “Don’t you have a bunch of washi tape? Why don’t you just tape them to the wall?” Well hello, genius!

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I had an empty wall in my studio just sitting there waiting for all these beautiful photos!

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Washi tape is great for this because it holds the images up nicely, but is also easily removable without damaging any walls. I love that the tape can add a little extra color/pattern to it all as well.

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My placement got a little crooked but I don’t care. That is the imperfect beauty of it. The only bad part is that the only wall space I had for this was next to my desk area, which is across the room from my painting studio area. I wish I could have these right next to me when I paint, instead of across the room, but this solution is still better than what I had before. Plus, I still have extra space to expand with more inspiration in the future. No more having to pick favorites!

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Aren’t all of these pieces just gorgeous? I have a few paintings and prints by these artists, but I wish I could buy them all!

Since there are so many images, it is too hard to list sources in a clearly labeled and legible way on here, so if you want to know what artist a particular painting on here is by, check out my “art” board on Pinterest, which includes the photos and links to the artists, or comment about which one you are wondering about and I’ll give you the info. They are all fabulous artists so go check out their websites and follow them on Instagram or through their blogs!

What inspires you? What are your favorite artists?

P.S. These inspiration images are for inspiration only! Never copy another artist’s work and make sure you keep track of the artists that you are inspired by to give them proper credit.

This Summer was the Summer I finally said “enough” to the living room paint color. I’ve wanted to paint the walls in our living room for years (I didn’t like the color and they were splotchy from being touched up with color matched paint that wasn’t perfect), but for one reason or another, had never gotten around to it. Finally, I not only painted the living room, but I finally painted the French doors in there (red isn’t my color of choice), and the foyer/dining room as well! It was a productive Summer for painting rooms!

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It seems like August is the time to work on projects in the living room for me. Last August, I added the Teal/Turquoise pillows in there, the August before that I added the photo gallery wall above the couch (which I’ve since taken down and plan to re-do soon), and the August before that, we re-arranged the space and added the Drop Cloth Curtains and TV stand (the curtains I just replaced this Summer).

Here is a little tour of our foyer/dining room & living room now:

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We still LOVE the plant/console table we built ourselves (one of our favorite things in the house!). Curtains are from Pottery Barn Teen, which I love, but I’m a little disappointed in them. They weren’t cheap (they were my Valentine’s Day present one year, lol!) and they’ve faded quite a bit, especially in certain spots. Dining room table is from the Nashville flea market, dining chairs are vintage, rug and baskets on the console table are from Target, milk glass bowl, old Reader’s Digest books, small white cabinet were thrifted, wood stump was the cake stand at our wedding, black lamp was given to us by Drew’s mom and then I gave it a makeover, Self-Portrait woodcut  and small abstracts are done by me, the glass jar candles on the table and console are from our wedding, door wreath I made, and gold plant pot is from Home Depot that I painted gold.

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I really love how the color on the walls came out in here. It’s a nice taupe-y grey (Smoked Oyster by Valspar in a Satin finish). It’s two shades darker on the same paint swatch card as the color in the living room, so they tie in well together. All the windows in this room really play well into having a slightly darker color on the walls. I love how it makes the art and trim pop.

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I’m so happy that the entire house isn’t painted the same fleshy-red-tan color anymore!

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I finally replaced our Drop Cloth Drapes with some simple white curtains (I made these out of white twin bed sheets I ordered online for super cheap!) I love how the white brightens the room up! I was tired of the dull tan of the drop cloths and the seam down the middle of them always bothered me. They served us well for several years though!

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I LOVE the French doors in black. I think they make such a pretty and dramatic statement. I love that they are a neutral color that allows my art and accessories to really shine. I didn’t love the red before because I don’t use the color red very often and I felt like they didn’t go with the rest of our house.

Couch and loveseat are from Compass Furniture in New Orleans, television/media cabinet is from Target, white bookcase is from IKEA, painting above loveseat was a wedding gift from my sister and her husband (by New Orleans artist Adam Hall), big turquoise velvet couch pillows are from World Market, teal and patterned pillows I made from World Market cloth napkins (these and these), light blue pedestal side table next to loveseat is from Nadeau in New Orleans, cream and white damask throw, wire basket (filled with yarn on bookshelf), remote box, and wooden @ symbol from TJ Maxx, floor lamp is from Lowe’s, silver table lamp is from Compass Furniture (scored it for $15 with a Living Social Deal!),  8×10 area rug from Lowe’s (scored it for $15!), wooden ladder and quilts were thrifted, beads are from Mardi Gras parades, basket (with magazines in it behind the french doors) was a wedding gift, landscape painting on the bookshelf was a wedding gift (painted my Drew’s mom’s good friend and my 8th grade teacher!), globe was mine from when I was little bought for me by my Mamaw, the chalkboard message board was from our wedding (originally from here), small pink table is from Target, and the abstract paintings and ceramic artichoke were made by me.

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The coffee table/bench is also new! When my childhood best friend, Tonya, and her husband, Peter, were visiting New Orleans this Summer, we spent one evening in the French Quarter eating and walking in antique shops before heading to the Frenchmen Art Market and to listen to some music on Frenchmen Street. In one of the little shops we walked into, I found this wooden table base (without a top) and we bought it for $30. I cleaned it up and rubbed it down with some coconut oil, and Drew and I made a tufted table/bench top for it out of wood, foam, linen fabric and fabric covered buttons. It was an exhausting project (much more so than I had expected), but I’m pleased with how it turned out!

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The wall color in here is Asiago by Valspar in a Satin finish. I wanted something that was almost white, but had a soft white creaminess to it (to go with the trim that looks white, but is really pretty creamy-off-white). I love how this color turned out. It brightens up this room and I think it is really going to look great with the new gallery wall I have planned for above the sofa! I really love how it looks with the black French doors (I’m loving the high contrast of black and white these days) and the color in the foyer/dining room too.

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Last, but not least, this photo is of the small little hallway at the back of the house (right off the long hallway that spans down most of our apartment). It leads to the bathroom and our bedroom. We painted it Semi-Sweet by Valspar (also in a Satin finish) this Summer as well. I think it looks great! Dark and moody and works so well with all the white trim and the fact that the bathroom right next to it is full of white tile, white walls, white sink/toilet/tub, etc. The art in the white frames pop off this wall so perfectly! It makes this little space feel more like a “room” and less of just a pass-through space.

I’m so happy that after 3 1/2 years of living in this apartment, we have finally painted some walls! Only $30 for a gallon of paint and a few hours of time, I don’t know why I put it off for so long!

Forewarning. This is sort-of a random post. I feel like the majority of my posts now are about recipes and house projects. It has been a while since I’ve posted about small little things. So here is one.

Welcome our new addition to the living room:

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We took a quick trip to TJ Maxx this weekend and I fell in love with this little inlaid wood box with a Moroccan tile pattern. I love the pattern. It looks great on our bookshelves and I think the color is a nice contrast to all the blue/teal/turquoise in the living room.

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But it serves a greater purpose. A purpose for which I have been searching for a box like this for years to fulfill.

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It holds all (four!) of our remotes (one for the cable, one for the television, one for the sound system, and one for the Roku box). Having four remotes, two of which are only normally necessary for TV watching (the cable remote and sound system remote for volume), made it a pain to find a place to keep them before. They cluttered up the coffee table, fell off the arms of the couch, and none of our side tables had drawers to keep them in. It’s so nice to have a pretty little box to keep them in now! They are close at hand but out of sight!

P.S. You can see part of a crochet project I’m currently working on in the top photo. :)

P.P.S. My sister, Kelsey, and her boyfriend, David, got me a similar box for Christmas last year that is currently in our bedroom. It is smaller, black and white, and also has a similar Moroccan tile pattern. You can see a bit of it in this post. I’m totally loving little storage boxes like these lately!

I didn’t take any before pictures of this bulletin board (bad blogger, I know!), but it was just your average cork-covered, wood-trimmed, basic office bulletin board. Now it looks like this:

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Less than a yard of fabric (home dec from Jo-Ann’s), some brass tacks (I used ones like this that I also bought at Jo-Ann’s), and a few staples in the back and voila! A much more sophisticated office bulletin board. Seriously though, this was a super easy project. Iron your fabric, cut it about 2 1/2 inches wider on each side than your bulletin board, lay flat, space out your tacks, push them in place (as you keep the fabric taut and the pattern aligned), then use your staple gun to staple the fabric around to the backside. Add your hanging hardware to the back and you are finished.

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I love the crisp look of the tacks and the fabric stretched all the way around the frame. A high-impact look for little money!

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It looks great here in my home office, but I actually made it for my work office. It adds a little bit of interest to my otherwise boring work office!

 

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Last week I shared our recent office makeover, including the DIY 12-ft long double desk we built. Today I’m here to give you the how-to so that you can build your own.

This really is a pretty simple DIY project (especially compared to our DIY Old Door Console Table that we built from scratch), that even the less-DIY-savvy of you can do pretty easily.

I had been thinking about this project for a while, so I already had an idea of what I wanted (here are some similar desks that I used for inspiration: thisthis and this), so I measured our space to see what would work best and then made this quick sketch to show Drew. He was on board immediately (he was ready to overtake the room that had long been only my office) and we came up with a plan.

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We started with a trip to IKEA (the closest IKEA to New Orleans is in Houston, TX, so we made a weekend trip of it), where we purchased three of these BESTA bookcases, along with these feet for the bottom of them (the BESTA bookcases have a variety of feet options, so you can change up your look if you want something different).

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Once we were home, we cleaned out the room, painted it, and then put our bookcases together and placed them where we wanted them in the room. The spacing of our room turned out perfect for these! We set those couple boards on top to mimic the desktop, just to make sure the height would be okay. It really depends on the height of your chair, but for me, the desktop is a touch higher than I would have made it for myself. However, I’m sharing this desk with my husband, who is a big guy, and the height is perfect for him. (I’ve been sitting on a pillow in my chair, which makes it the perfect height, but I’m going to look for a taller office chair at some point.) You might find that you don’t actually need the legs on them to be the right height for you. (The BESTA Bookcases without legs are about 25 1/4 inches tall, with legs ours are 29 1/4 inches tall.) With the desk top attached, our desk turned out to be a total of 31 inches high.

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Next, we made our final plans for the top, measuring to see how long we wanted our desktop to be. Our wall is about 12 feet long and we wanted the desk to be slightly shorter than that, to give it room to actually fit in the space (it is a free-standing desk, not a built-in, so it doesn’t need to be completely flush against both walls). We decided 140 inches long would be perfect for us. We made a trip to Lowe’s and bought three 2x8x12 untreated pine boards and had them cut down in-store to 140 inches. When choosing boards, make sure you lay them flat on the ground in the store and pick ones that are as flat/straight as you can find. (We had some issues with one of our boards being warped because we didn’t check them well enough in the store!) After we got them home, we gave them a good sanding to smooth the surface and also to remove any stamps/marks on the wood. Make sure to also wipe them down and remove any dirt/dust before staining.

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We are still really happy with the finish of the top of our Old Door Console Table, so we used the same method and same stain for this project as well. We used Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, 2 coats of Minwax Wood Stain in Dark Walnut, and (later, after the desk top was attached) we gave it three coats of Rustoleum Water-Based Polyurethane in a Satin finish.

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I would recommend staining your wood outside or in some other well-ventilated area. Since we live in an apartment, we were forced to do this inside (with the windows open and a fan blowing the smell out), but it was still pretty stinky. After the stain has cured for a day or two, then you can start attaching the top boards together.

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We used these long metal connector bars that we found at Lowe’s. We used 4– one on each end of the desk and one in each open space (where our chairs go). Make sure you pull the boards together as you screw these in, to prevent large gaps between the boards.

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Once we had the top boards connected together, we measured out our bookcases, put them in the right places, then set the wooden top on top of them. We left a couple inch overhang on each end and each open chair space is 32 inches. The bookcases are only 15 1/2 inches deep, whereas our top is 22 inches deep, so there is a 3/4 inch overhang on the front lip of the desk and about 5 1/2 inches of space left behind each bookcase (which has turned out great for storage of art materials!).

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Once we had everything situated where we wanted it, we used these small L brackets to attach the top to the bookcases. There is a slight gap between the bookcases and the top on ours to accommodate the curvature of the wood (no wood is perfectly flat!), but when making your own, you might find that you don’t end up with as big of a gap there (one of our boards was slightly warped). The weight of the wood also holds the top down, so we didn’t think it needed more attaching than a few of these on each side of the bookcases.

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After everything was attached and together, I gave the top 3 coats of Satin finish Poly and let that cure for a few days.

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So happy with how it turned out! It is the perfect space for Drew and I to work. We each have plenty of storage space in the bookcases and lots of work space on top (with plenty of space between us so we don’t bother each other while working either!).

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It also makes the perfect use of the space in this room. It might be a 12 foot long desk, but it doesn’t feel like it takes up very much space in the room! I still have room for my easel/art stuff on the other side of the room with plenty of open floor space to spread out in the floor if I’m working on a crafting project.

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See more images of the room, here.

Budget Breakdown:

IKEA (BESTA Bookcases ($46.75 x 3 = $140.25) and BESTA Legs ($8.50 a pair x 6 = $51.00) family discount pricing + 15.78 tax) : $207.03
Wood for desk top (3 2x8x12 boards at $7.43 each): $22.29
Metal Connector Bars (4 at $2.80 each): $11.20
Metal L Brackets (3 packs of 4 at $2.27 each): $6.81
Stain/Wood Conditioner/Polyurethane/Foam Brushes: already owned (but would be around $30 to purchase if you didn’t already own these)
Screws, Sandpaper, etc… already owned (but would be around $10 to purchase if you didn’t already own these)

TOTAL: $247.33 

$250 isn’t bad for a 12-foot long desk for two! Plus we sold Drew’s old desk on Craigslist for $100, so that brings our out-of-pocket cost down to under $150!

One of my favorite projects that we’ve done together and we are already getting a ton of use out of it! Yay for pretty projects that increase our productivity!

P.S. We did plan ahead and made sure that whatever connecting methods we used (the metal connector bars and L brackets) could be disassembled rather easily in the future to move to a different house. We also thought ahead before we bought our 12 ft long boards and measured to make sure that we could even get them in the house. Some things that you also might want to consider before building!

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