simple spruceups : easy knock offs {inspiration from the big wigs}

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a simple spruce up. But when I received a plethora of PB and Ballard Designs catalogs in the mail, I was inspired to start ear marking {dog earing?} their pages for a little idea post. I thought I’d talk a little about my inspirational process.

You can get so many fabulous ideas from just the most basic of catalogs, particularly from the “big wigs” out there. I so love leafing through their pages.

When we were first married, and I found myself with a space of my own to decorate, I didn’t know any better. I followed what every one else did when it came to the designs for the rooms of my home: I purchased everything, when we could afford it. In the days when Bombay and Kirklands were rampant, and practically the only options, I was left empty and unhappy {read: one armoire and dining room set} with zero funds because everything is super ridic expensive.

That was nearly ten years ago. The handmade movement has come a long way.

So, I have this little system of rules that I like to follow in my own life.

I only purchase it:

1. If I can’t make it. {easy for me to say? well, I think its all about what you enjoy. I believe that each and every person on this planet is capable of creating. It’s an innate ability you’re born with. It’s just a spectrum of abilities. Chances are, if you read this blog, you already do that yourself, or you’re considering the possibilities. My kids are cute and all, (If I DO say so myself) but I’m not so sure you’re (just) here for the mommy stories. I’m good at faking it…and finding the resources to make it possible. So don’t dismiss this idea just yet, if you’re not completely on board with me. Yes, it is easier for some people. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. I, on the other hand, may or may not have nearly failed Chemistry and/or Math in high school. So there.}

2. Or if I can’t find a great imitation somewhere else for a fraction of the price.I always scour hobby lobby during their half off sales, thrift stores, craigslist, and flea markets when I’m on the hunt for something in particular. Keep your mind open. You never know what you may find.

3. OR if I can’t find something similar that can be easily altered {think lamps. see no.2}

4. I must absolutely be in love with it. This may apply, but is not limited to: antiques {particularly vintage industrial ones. They are my kryptonite.}

5. I have to have the funds to make the purchasing possible. Credit card charge-ups, when the money is not there, are no longer an option for the modern family in this uncertain world. Particularly us. This is something I have struggled with in the past. It’s still something that I have to remind myself. We have a family to raise, and college to save for. So some things simply have to wait. And that’s OKAY.

SO, are you following me and my weird process of thinking, so far? A lot of you probably already do this. The rules are a little different, for each product I take a gander at. Making a pillow, for instance, is a basic skill. But the fabric may not be available anywhere else. However, at my unwillingness to pay 40 smacks a pop, {particularly if I need five} I will gladly settle for an alternative fabric with a similar look. I simply enjoy the process of creating, and the challenge.



This doesn’t work for everything. I can’t make a sofa/chair. {or can I? :}} Pinstripes, for instance, make me weak in the knees. But I will gladly settle for a slipcovered look via Ikea rather than the jaw dropping prices of Pottery Barn. And/or…perhaps make my own slipcover… Or get something reupholstered that I purchased on the cheap.

The rules are simple. I can’t afford to charge it up. Lucky for me, I love the unique look of something created, rather than the mass produced quantities available to the masses. I’ve actually grown to prefer this option. Therefore, I take the handmade route. The road less traveled by. {Are ya starting to see why we went and changed our name?}

yes, this post is link happy.

So, without further ado, just a few ideas I’d like to try: easy knockoffs and ideas from the big wigs.

starting simple: some hardware and hooks from TARJAY would easily create the same look as these french striped cafe curtains from pottery barn. What’s that? You don’t sew?Burlap doesn’t even really have to be sewn. Simply cut and let those frayed edges show…or use hem tape. This whole fraction of the price is especially true if you need multiple windows, OR, a custom size. If you want something truly unique {and you may have to search to beat the prices on the PB curtains-these are actually not completely outlandish} Simply purchase come old feed sacks to achieve the same look. TADA!

Get bold and start experimenting with paint. This painting from Ballard is just an example, but you can save about 200 smacks. If you’ve ever wanted to try it, but you’ve always been afraid, I can’t urge you more to go for it. One of my passions in life is oil painting. And if you want to start simple, start with a duotone-ish abstract on a basic canvas. OR purchase a cut piece of MDF from Home depot and go to town. There are no expensive supplies to “ruin” that way. I find that this is what most people are afraid of in starting out. Use your house paint. Or, my true passion, oils. Who says your walls have to be boring? From frames to signs, {more frames here} the possibilities are endless. It’s all about what you’re willing to try. The best part: you made it.

the concept is the same with these letters from Ballard. First of all, you can score the same ones at Hobby Lobby during their half off sale. But if you want something a little different, and are willing to make your own, check this post, here.

my very favorite are pieces with a function. And I love how Kate {centsational girl} made her very own, here. brillz, that gal is.

Have you ever thought about making your own clock? I love the idea of large scale ones. The clocks that take on an architectural look with the entire room. Square or circular, you can totally score clock parts at your local hobby store, or online. Depending on the size you want, you could use numbers, adhesive pieces, or even forego the numbers and use a quote, or blank face with cool paint combos. Use an overhead projector to help you keep those numbers steady, if you want the numbers. Simply drill a hole in the middle, and secure. Insert batteries, and tick tock away. I had a client request one a few years ago, and had so much fun making it, I’ve been meaning to create another. I just haven’t had the chance yet. Again, the options are exciting!

loving the simple look of this durham table desk from ballard. Yet another example of where there’s a will, there’s a way, with a little help from your welder friends.

I adore the look of these maps from Ballard. Not the price tag. {300/map!} Did you know that your local printer can blow anything up for you? old bird prints, wall paper, maps, photographs, etc. You can mount them to a board yourself, {I would use a friend and some spray mount} and hang them on the wall. It’s hard for me to resist these, but since I’d rather spend my moolah on something else, and when I know they’re other options out there…

I’ve been drooling over this desk since PB released it a few years ago, and I’ve always thought it’d be easy to make. Lo and behold, ana white has the plans, here.

of course, I’m all up in the crates. But hadn’t really considered them as a beverage holder. LOVING this idea. That would make me the super most awesomest hostess eva.

It kind of makes me giggle that someone would actually purchase a ladder from Pottery Barn. Not with that price tag. Lindsey and Clay are using that concept in their dining room, and will either build, or score one at the local flea market. Read more about dining room in the Yellow House Project, here.

love this bed from PB. The internet is rampant with easy tutorials for such creations, but I especially love the concept of creating the sides as well. Paired with simple bed rails, and upholstered on the sides, this idea would be a relatively easy one to recreate when armed with a saw, batting, fabric, nailhead kit… and a little determination.

forget the sides, but I’m sure Ana has a plan for this one too. You could simply build a frame with the upholstered batting in the middle. Mount it to the wall, and tada! insta headboard. Use a little of this concept, or even this one…I love how one project can be a spring board of inspiration for multiple uses.

I go gaga for this ledge, but a piece like this would be easy to find at the Nashville Flea Market. I’ve seen plenty of them there. {the big one with vendors that comes monthly} If you can’t haggle on the price tag side of things, building one with a combo of trim and moulding, then painting and distressing, would be a pretty fun project. Just remember: the delicate combination of wood glue + hot glue are your best friends.

okay guys. bust out your glass blowers for this one.

KIDDING. some things are worth buying. I. Am. In. LURVE.

Hope you guys feel a little gusto and go get it-ness after reading this post. I’d love to see some of the things you’ve created…or plan to create!


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Responses to simple spruceups : easy knock offs {inspiration from the big wigs}

  1. Abbie says:

    I bought some tumblers similar to those last year at World Market for super cheap! I’ve seen them several times since then. You should check it out. :)

  2. You can always raid your grandma’s cupboards. I inherited some similar but very sturdy glasses from her. They make me so happy.

  3. Trista says:

    I wanted to second the glasses from World Market. YoungHouseLove wrote a blog post about them.

    I also think I’ve seen them at Pier 1, but they only have a couple of colors…

  4. jami says:

    i feel like we are kindred spirits when i read your bit on the only reasons you buy things. those same things are exactly what i think about before i purchase anything.

    but sometimes…just sometimes…you have to splurge. those glasses…drool.

  5. I do the same thing! I love getting inspiration from the big wigs! and From You!

  6. Nancy says:

    First, let me tell you that I just came upon your site and love it! Your style is 100% me. I think the Yellow House Project is designed for my house…seriously, it is exactly the help that i have been looking for. Now, I need ideas for my assymeterical, 1960’s ish mantle/fireplace. It is so sad right now and just is begging to be made pretty. I,too am a devotee of the catalogs and an un-apologetic copycat. thanks for all of the inspiration. I can’t wait to hear more! nancy

  7. Lisa Lyons says:

    Great ideas! i definatley believe that if you can make it or restore it….you should! Besides…new stuff can be borning sometimes!

    Love the glasses at the end!

  8. louise says:

    Great Post! I do this all the time. I actually just recently tore pages out of a Pottery barn catalog for some knock off design projects for our trip to our beach house! beautiful things, but some are so easily handmade!

  9. jennifer says:

    Love your guidelines for making purchases. I am a little further down the road than you and can tell you that your plans will pay off one day. It’s nice not to argue over the things you don’t love and to also det a goal for the things you do love. It makes the wait worth it! Also, knowing your purchase is paid for and you will never see that bill again is bliss! The biggest kick of all though is figuring out how to get the thing you “lurve” and knowing you made it as well. Curtains can cost a fortune but they really are easier than you think. Valances as well….and the look really is custom. Over the years, I have started venturing into painting and making our own art. And if you can find a local artist who is just starting out, buy their art and then frame it yourself. We have a couple of pieces we paid nothing for that are now worth something because we took a chance on a new artist. Great post, great guidelines! Love your energy and enthusiasm!!

  10. I love this post girl, so much sense and inspiration for any DIYer from amateur to avid, you are da bomb ! Thanks for the shout out too friend. :)

  11. Janna says:

    Hi! I’m a Cali living, Alabama-born gal who fell in love with your blog the first time I stumbled across it last week. Actually my friend and neighbor Nancy (the goat & the kid blog) recommended you. Nice to meet you and thanks for all the decorating inspiration and funny stories (loved your confession regarding the JCrew “swim cover” and your maternity undies :))

  12. The blue plate rack.. love. I’m sad though as I had a stained on just like it that I sold during our kitchen reno. This was before I was hooked on blogland and before I knew the power of paint. I so wish I kept it.

  13. Mindy says:

    Not sure if you’re familiar with this blog or not, but check this out:

    Think you might be pleasantly surprised! :-)

  14. I love this post, thanks so much for sharing your beautiful style and great advice. :)

  15. Skooks says:

    Just wanted to say I was at World Market THIS WEEK and still saw those glasses. Definitely way cheaper there. :)

  16. Great tips – you’ve got me inspired and I love your blog!!

  17. Great tips – thanks for sharing!