Quick Halloween to Thanksgiving Decor Transition

Good morning friends, and Happy November!

I hope you all had a blast trick or treating with the littles yesterday. You’re probably not quite ready to dive in to updating your decor today, but that’s ok–I’ve been getting ahead of things all fall, so I might as well share my decor experiments with you, right?

Halloween Display

This is kind of a spin-off of my post last month about the early fall to Halloween transition. I was working on those photos feverishly for a few hours that day because I had planned the post but then the buffet in this photo sold a lot more quickly than I had expected it to, and so I had to rush to finish everything before the customer came to pick it up, because I didn’t have another piece that I could use as a backdrop.

Then a day or two later, I found a new buffet and painted that so that I could get a quick Thanksgiving post done that used a similar piece as the base. I was trying to get some Christmas ones done, too, but I wasn’t satisfied with what I was coming up with, so I’ll just share the Thanksgiving one for today.

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Again, this is something super simple that I put together in about a half an hour. When I’m putting together something like this for a post, a show, or for my house, I think about the season, the pieces that I already have and how I can use them in a new way, and about the materials that the pieces are made of (for example I have some real naturals, some fake naturals, some paper, some wood, some glass…I like a nice mix of materials to give some depth and texture to the look).

The only pieces that I used throughout the season were the grass vases on either side–I really like the movement and interest that they add. Everything else was moved around or switched out at some point or another.

I moved from the fabric pumpkin banner to a paper “Give Thanks” banner that I made with my Cricut 2 or 3 years ago, even though the pumpkin banner would still technically have worked. Confession: I was cleaning out my basement and got totally distracted as soon as I found the “Give Thanks” banner–I had to drop everything that I was doing and take my Thanksgiving photos right then. This is part of the reason why my list never gets done. I’m trying to work on staying focused.

I don’t love paper banners as much as fabric ones, but I don’t have a huge inspiration for a fabric Thanksgiving banner right now, so oh well. This one still looks nice.

I also knew I wanted to go the crate, bushel, ladder section route, too–all of those things tie in nicely with the season of gathering and harvesting and giving thanks, and the mini white pumpkins spilling out were also a good transition from Halloween to a neutral Thanksgiving, echoing a horn of plenty type image.

If you’re not a neutral person like I am, you could easily add some great color here with a couple of Mason jars with bold fall color bouquets on either side in place of the grass vases, some bright orange mini or pie pumpkins, and a colorful banner. I go through neutral seasons and color seasons, so it’s only a matter of time before I’m back to doing something super colorful.

Would you be interested in seeing a more behind-the-scenes look at how I got to this point with the display? I know I said I put this together in about a half an hour, but that was with switching things in and out and back and forth, debating with myself about what looked good and what had to go. Anyway, I think I might try that when we get to the Christmas decorating post.


Share your Thanksgiving space by giving me a shout out on Instagram @itsjessforton! I’d love to see what you’re doing to usher in the next phase of fall!

Talk soon,

Jessie

Five Ways To Decorate With Vintage Crates

The easiest way to dip your toe into farmhouse style is with an antique wooden crate or two. These boxes add instant interest and dimension to any room with the added benefit of giving you extra storage for those things that never seem to have a place of their own. I’m all about the one-two punch when it comes to decorating my under 1,400 square foot home, and this is probably the biggest reason that I love these crates so much!

I’ve used crates in a variety of ways over the past few years, and I’m excited to share some ideas with you today. I think what makes it so simple to start your farmhouse decorating with these is that they are relatively easy to find (of course, once you start finding them, you’ll see them everywhere, which might lead to a little bit of a crate overload. If you happen to scroll through my Instagram, you’ll probably come across the photo of the wedding prep for Christina’s wedding last year. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, friends).

Another reason I love them is that each one is so unique–whether it has a partial label describing what it was used for, some writing from the previous owner, or some great paint or patina that’s been wearing away for twenty or thirty years, I love all of it. Some of the manufactured-to-look vintage pieces that they sell at Hobby Lobby and Target are cute, but I just can’t see myself ever wanting to decorate with them–they feel a little soulless to me. I like something that’s done a little bit of life already.

If you’re wondering about how to find them, here’s my best tip: I regularly check this website using my zip code to find great estate sales in my area. When I’m looking for something specific, I try to find a sale that has a lot of that item, in this case, crates. When you see one or two, that tends to drive the price up, no matter what the item is, but if you see that there are ten or twenty, odds are that you’ll be able to get a pretty good deal ($5-$15 usually) on a great vintage crate. I’ve picked them up for as little as $2 at garage sales, and I’ve even found a few of them on the curb!

Anyway, here are five great ideas for styling your perfect vintage crate, once you find it:

Pretty Bathroom Storage:

vintage crate bathroom storage

I love fluffy white towels and my linen closet is laughably small. However, even in my dream bathroom (which has ample storage, let me tell you right now) I’m storing towels in a big vintage crate because I just like looking at them.

I don’t know about you, but this little setup just makes me want to run a bath, grab a book and some tea, and settle in for an hour or two of relaxation. Having towels and soap on display in the bathroom creates a visual invitation to just stop and spend a little time on myself, and I’ll take as much of that as I can get!

I love this asparagus crate because it also doubles as a tote (which means multiple uses for one piece, which is amazing) and makes it super easy to roll and display up to four towels, plus soap, bath bombs, hand towels, and wash cloths. This one is for sale in my Etsy shop if you want to skip the long hours of hunting and get straight to styling!

Photo Shoot Backdrop:

crate photo background

Here’s our family photo shoot from 2017, done by the amazing Anna Dwyer. I love being able to take great photos right in the backyard, as we are practically living in a forest. Since there are no fences or anything to worry about, we can take photos back there anytime and basically feel like we’re at a park or way out in nature somewhere, which is amazing, but I still like to jazz it up sometimes (ok, fine, all the time) with a great vintage piece or two.

In this case, I used about fifteen crates of various shapes and sizes to create a little backdrop behind us. All the different tones of wood and various degrees of aging and wear work together really well to add height and visual interest behind us. We tend to do our family photos in the fall, since it’s my favorite season and I’m the one that schedules these things, and the crates also work really well with that time of year–the worn wood really echoes orchard and farm crates and barrels and makes me think of harvesting and apple-picking and all that good fall stuff. Looking at this is really making me think about what I want to do for this fall. Decisions, decisions…

Unique Centerpieces:

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I love wooden boxes in all shapes and sizes–this one is technically a cheese box, rather than a true crate, but I’m counting it because it’s so pretty. I’ve used these for all kinds of events–Bible studies, showers, backyard parties, weddings–and they are always unique and interesting additions to the table.

When I see these at a flea market or garage sale, I almost always pick them up (I wouldn’t pay more than $10, and I’ve found them for $2-$7). I love that they are all different, whether it’s a different cheese company, a different design or color of the lettering, or a different level of wear and patina. I found one not too long ago that had been gnawed a bit on two of the corners, and I picked that one up immediately. What’s better than a vintage cheese box with a few little mouse bites on it?

When I’m putting the centerpiece together, I line the boxes with 2.5″ votive holders filled halfway with water and then almost always start with a ton of filler, like the gypsum in these photos. I want it to look like the flowers are just filled up inside the box and  for the little glasses to be hidden, so I really pile in the filler. One box usually has at least 4-5 stems before the bigger flowers go in.

I actually like how the boxes look just with the gypsum, but I almost always layer in another color or at least a larger flower in white to fill it out a bit more. The box with the roses is one that I did for Christina’s wedding last year. It’s fun to have some contrast between the vintage colors on the boxes and the flowers themselves, which is another reason why I pick up every box that I can–that way I have more options when I’m mixing and matching.

This is a tiny bit off topic but I’ll throw in a little bonus idea here: I’ve often used vintage wooden crates upside down or stacked sideways to add height to a different centerpiece or to a variation of something like this (the sweets table at Christina’s barn wedding–before the sweets, of course):

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I’ll do this kind of stacking at a craft show or vintage market, too, to show off the smaller pieces that I have and add a little height to my display. It’s nice, whatever you’re doing to add height and texture wherever you can so that the eye has plenty of places to bounce around.

Unique Occasional Table/Bookshelf:

crate side table

I have a real lack of entryway space in my house. The front door opens right into the living room, and the back door right into the kitchen. I’ve kind of given up on trying to create an entryway space in the living room–we almost always have people come in the back door anyway–but the kitchen is a different story. I need something in there to help me corral all the stuff that accumulates on my kitchen table.

I found the large crate pictured here at a flea market last spring. I originally bought it for my Etsy shop, but I loved it so much that I stuck it in the corner of my kitchen and it hasn’t moved since. It was a crazy good deal (I want to say it was $20, but it could have been $30…either way, it was too good to pass up), and in really good condition for being WWII-era. I like having it by the back door because it’s a great place to stash my book bag and purse when I come home, and I can toss mail or keys on the top to help myself keep track of them better.

Seasonal Front Porch Display

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I found the old deck rails on the curb a few weeks ago, and I cut them down to fit on either side of my front door–they give me a little porch feeling without the actual porch (someday, friends). I added in some apple crates (this one is a curb find and I can’t remember where the other one came from. A lot of times you can buy them at orchards, though, so keep an eye out while you’re out pumpkin and apple picking!) and some white pumpkins from Meijer. At $5.49 each, they aren’t super cheap, but they were reasonable enough. I love using the squashy, “fantasy” pumpkins, but I’m essentially just buying squirrel food, no matter what I put out there, so paying much more than $5 apiece starts to drive me a little nuts when those guys start chewing on them.

White mums are my favorite (surprise, surprise), but I had to hunt around a little to find some that weren’t already done for the most part. Meijer for the win again, there. And how cute is this little sign from Marshall’s Home Goods? I think this is probably my biggest porch display ever–usually I worry that, because my porch isn’t covered, everything will kind of quickly get ruined or soggy, but hey, if something gets ruined this year, I’ll just replace it, right? It’s worth it to have a cute front porch for the fall, especially since it’s my favorite season. I already have plans for my Christmas porch…these deck rails are going to come in handy for that season, too, I think. Can’t wait to share it!!


So there are my tips on using vintage crates. It’s the perfect time to snag one or two of these. I’d love to see your finds–tag @itsjessforton on Instagram to share!!

What are your favorite ways to use vintage crates? Do you prefer the old, slightly dirty ones, or are you just as likely to pull one off the shelf at Hobby Lobby and throw it in the mix with your vintage pieces? Either way, let’s talk about it!

Jessie

 

 

 

DIY Upcycled Bathroom Shelf

Good morning friends!

We were up north in Bellaire for the entire week of the fourth this year which was super fun. It’s really starting to become a tradition since Dan’s birthday is on the third and his company considers that one of his holidays. So two holiday days in a row, one vacation day, and two half days working remote meant that we could stay all week!

What did Charlotte and I do while he worked those two mornings, you ask? I think you know.

Shopping up north is extra fun because I don’t get to go to all of these places as regularly as I do the ones downstate, so I don’t usually mind if Dan has to work a little when we’re in Bellaire, because I love working, too, and if he’s working, I can work!

On Thursday morning, Charlotte and I were driving around looking for a garage sale that we never ultimately found, but I did spot these babies on the side of the road, and I picked them up! I love garbage day.

mid century desk drawers

 

They are super solid and heavy, plus dove tailed at both ends–perfect for an up-cycling project! Dan used to roll his eyes and ask crazy questions like “What are you ever going to do with those?” He knows better now.

I didn’t have a solid plan until I was browsing at my friend Shelly’s store (definitely head there and hang out for a bit while you’re waiting 2.5 hours for your table at Short’s the next time you’re in town) and picked up a little tub of chalk paint and some antique glaze. Then I started seeing shelves. Of course, drawers made into shelves isn’t an earth-shattering concept–I’ve done it a couple of times already–but I still thought it would be fun.

I wanted to share a quick tutorial featuring my drawer shelf, Shelly’s Shabby Chic Paint in Refresh, and her Old Town Paints Antique Glaze.

shabby chic paint in refresh

The first thing I did was add some hardware to the back for hanging. I use these mini D-rings for most of my shelves because they are easy and pretty sturdy.

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I just wiped this one down with some warm water and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I don’t usually do a deep clean or any kind of prep work if I’m going for a vintage look or using glaze, since if a stain or spot shows through the paint, it only adds to the look. This particular piece didn’t seem like it was going to be a problem anyway–it’s usually the more cherry looking woods and stains that start to come through the paint in places, and since most of this piece was still the natural wood, I wasn’t too concerned.

coverage for Shabby Chic Paint in Refresh

Again, because I was doing the glaze and going for a more rustic and imperfect look, I didn’t go crazy with coverage or perfect brush strokes, and I only did one coat. You can see from this photo that there is some opacity in places. This was my first time using the Shabby Chic Paint, and while I loved the color, the paint went on more like latex than typical chalk paint, and it definitely felt shinier and more like latex to the touch once it was dry. I haven’t used the Old Town brand in a few years, but from what I remembered, I felt that way about their paint as well.

I’m used to working with Annie Sloan’s paints more than anything, and I’ve gotten used to the way that they dry, so for me, working with this paint would have been more challenging on a bigger piece (on something this small it hardly matters what you use, which makes a project like this the perfect experiment for a first time DIY’er). I don’t know how to describe it exactly, but this paint almost seemed to slide if you tried to go back to a section and add more paint or take some away. If I had been doing a second coat, this wouldn’t have mattered, but since I wasn’t, it was a little frustrating not to have the ability to play with it just a bit more.

Because I hadn’t used it before and it seemed like the drying time was a lot slower than I’m used to with Annie Sloan, I just let it dry overnight before trying the glaze.

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Shelly warned me that the glaze dried super fast, but I was still not prepared for just how fast it dried! I used an old sock of Dan’s that was inexplicably already in the garage anyway, since that was what she suggested (instead of using a brush). You can see how just in the time that it took me to do one side, the very first application dried before I could get enough on the sock to blend it in to the second one fully. It definitely took some time to get used to it, and it made me curious to try another glaze that was maybe a little easier to work with. Once again, I’m really glad that I didn’t try to use it on anything bigger the first time.

I think it’s so fun that there are all these different products to experiment with–I am always excited to try new techniques, and I love the way that the upcycled Refresh drawer shelf turned out!

finished product bathroom shelfclose up bathroom shelf

I put the two blue shelves in my Etsy shop, along with the rest of the plain drawers that I picked up. I had been thinking about switching up a few things in my bathroom, and for a bit I added one of the au natural shelves to the wall above my towel bar (as pretty as the blue is, it doesn’t really go in there color-wise).

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For awhile I was picking up these insulators super cheap at garage sales. I thought they were interesting and fun, but I didn’t really know what to do with them–kind of like my obsession with apothecary bottles. Mostly they just ended up in my basement, but I figured I would pull them out for awhile and stick them on  my new (old) shelf. I picked up a succulent from the Rochester Farmer’s Market mid-July, and a little antique Hall dish to put it in from the July Utica Antiques Market. I’m thinking about layering in some white and wood frames behind the other pieces to give it a little depth. Really, the last thing I should be thinking about right now is a tiny space in my bathroom, since the mattress is still on the floor of the bedroom and the TV is sitting on an ugly unpainted side table since I sold the buffet that I did have it on…


What projects are you working on and what did you think of my little shelf? Is it something that you’d have fun doing, too?

I’d love to see your projects! Tag me on Instagram @itsjessforton or comment below. Have a great week!

Jessie

DIY Farmhouse Chalkboard Mail Organizer

 

Hey everyone! Today I want to switch things up a little and offer you an easy thrift store DIY that is one of my top sellers in my Etsy shop—people LOVE these and they are so simple to make. I’ll give you the steps in an easy to follow format along with the tips I’ve discovered as I’ve redone over 60 of these in the past three years. I just went back through my shop to count how many I’ve sold there—I told you they were popular!

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These three slot mail boxes don’t generate a lot of interest sitting on the thrift store shelf, but I am always super excited to find them because I have a simple redo that takes them from dated to farmhouse fresh. I usually find them at garage sales and thrift stores, priced anywhere from $0.25 to $3.99.

Step 1: Wash your piece. I use a mixture of hot water and Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean all the furniture and wood projects that I do. The mail boxes are kind of annoying to clean because of all the little crevices, but cleaning is an important step, especially when you’re about to use white paint. Dirt, grease, and other debris show up really easily under the white so I give these things an extra good scrub. Always let your piece dry completely before applying paint.

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Step 2: Apply white paint.  It might seem silly to use Chalk Paint on smaller pieces, but I like Annie Sloan’s paint so much that I literally use it on everything—I used to be a lot more open to trying new paints and products, but I’m so super in love with her brand that it takes a lot now for me to branch out and actually pick up a new product. I won’t say I don’t do it, but I will say that nothing comes close to her paint. I’ve even used it on the cupboards in my laundry room, and they still look amazing four years later.

If you haven’t tried AS Chalk Paint and you don’t want to buy a huge can for a small project like this, it does come in sample sizes, and those small guys will give you enough paint for 2-3 of these projects (at least). Sounds like a good excuse to open a bottle of wine and have a little DIY mailbox painting party with a couple of your friends! I buy mine at Nada and Co. in Royal Oak, but if you’re in Macomb County, you can also get it at Country Comforts in Romeo (at the Frontier Town shops).

Anyway, back to the project. I always start with a very light coat using a natural bristle brush for my projects, and these are no different. Chalk paint dries very quickly, so once you’re done with this coat, go watch an episode of Gilmore Girls and drink some more wine. By the time it’s over, you’ll be ready to check the progress. You should be good to go for your second coat (depending on the look you want and how dark the wood is, you may want to do three coats for full coverage—I find that AS Old White and Pure White often take 3 coats to make me perfectly happy, especially on dark wood).

Step 3: Wax the mailbox. Once the paint is dry, I wax the mailbox at this point. Wax helps to seal the paint and protect the finish against grease, moisture, and fingerprints. I use AS clear wax, but any clear furniture wax will do. Side note: “natural” is not the same as clear (Minwax has a “natural” shade)—it will yellow the paint a bit. It’s still a good look, and I sometimes use Minwax’s natural furniture wax, but just be aware that the paint will look slightly yellow.

Once upon a time I didn’t wax the mailboxes at this point—I used to do the chalkboard paint next—but waxing after the chalkboard paint is dry means having to be really careful to keep it off that chalkboard area so as to avoid gumming up that surface and making it impermeable to the chalk, which defeats the whole purpose. I probably did about 45 of these things before figuring out that waxing the mailbox first was way easier.

I let the wax sit overnight and then buff it with a brush or cotton cloth before moving on to the next step. The brush you see in the photos is my buffing brush—this is another product that it took me a long time to invest in, but it’s seriously so much easier than using a cotton cloth.

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Step 4: Tape off the chalkboard squares. I put tape along the top edge and sides, and then usually use another small piece of tape or two to help me space the bottom piece, like so:

Press down hard on that tape—make sure you get out any bubbles around the edges!

I’m using pretty skinny tape here, so I used two pieces to help space the bottom edge. One of the reasons why I wait until the wax has cured slightly is that applying the tape to a freshly waxed mailbox tends to make the tape bubble, which will make the next step harder.

Step 5: Paint a square of white over the tape. Get that white paint on one more time, making sure to drag that brush along the edges very carefully.

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This is my trick to avoid seepage of the chalkboard paint—the white paint acts as a seal, getting underneath the edges anywhere where a tiny bubble might be lurking, waiting to ruin your project with ragged edges. Once this layer of paint dries, you should be able to achieve crisp lines all the way around your chalkboard squares.

Step 6: Paint your chalkboard squares. Using a foam brush or roller (this helps the chalkboard paint lay a little more smoothly than the chip brushes do), get two coats of Rustoleum Chalkboard Paint on top of your squares (in this photo, the paint looks streaky because I’ve only done one coat so far). I’ve tried a couple of different chalkboard paints, and this one is my fave:

Step 7: Remove the tape. This one might seem like a no-brainer, but just be careful with it. I’ve tried to take all the tape off at once, and sometimes the edge of your chalkboard square can rip just a little bit—like so:

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Then you have to get out your detail brush and practice straight lines, which could be really difficult, depending on how much wine you’ve had by this point. I slowly pull the tape away from the paint, trying not to drag away from or towards the chalkboard, but instead to pull straight up.

Final steps:

  1. Distress (if desired). Even though the wax has already been applied, you can still remove paint with a fine grit sandpaper along the edges if you like that look. I pretty much always do this—most of my shop has the shabby chic look going on.
  2. Prep the chalkboard squares. I rub the long side of the chalk stick against the squares and rub the chalk in with my fingers to “season” it—this helps to prevent the first word you write from leaving an imprint that’s basically un-erasable later.
  3. Label your slots. For my product photos, I usually write in things like “mail,” “bills,” “coupons,” “misc.,” or “invites.” My trick is to use a thick pencil sharpener to sharpen my chalk stick so that the letters look like an adult woman wrote them and not a six year old child.

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You’re getting a sneak peek at the “studio” process behind my Etsy photos–I love using other vintage items to pair with my pieces, like the antique parts of speech art, skeleton keys, and letter bundles. I found an entire box of old, hand-written letters at an estate sale a few years ago, and there’s just something so romantic about them–I have no idea what to do with them except take beautiful photos!!


This project is one of my favorites because it’s so simple, the materials are readily available (it doesn’t usually take much hunting to find these wood letter organizers at the thrift stores around here), and the transformation looks amazing and fits perfectly with most farmhouse and shabby chic decor.

My customers have hung these in kitchens, offices, and pantries to help get the clutter off of their counters and into a more organized space, and they love the fact that this storage solution fits in wonderfully with a shabby chic or modern farmhouse look while being super practical at the same time.

If you’re not sold on the DIY version you can always take a peek in my Etsy shop (if you don’t see any there, just shoot me a convo and I’ll get working on one for you—I’m regularly sold out of these) and find this little guy (or one just like it). If you’re in metro Detroit, just let me know and I’ll give you a code for free shipping. You can sometimes get them at our shows, too—if you’re looking for one just send me a message letting me know which shows you’ll be attending and I can make sure to bring one or two along with me!

If this tutorial is helpful or if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below, and post your farmhouse mailbox DIY on my Facebook page or on Instagram using the #metrodetroitmaker. I’d love to see all of the projects and where you decide to hang them in your homes!

Thanks for hanging out this week! Talk soon,

Jessie