Favorite Accent Wall Decor to Hide a TV

Here is a small update I made to our modern Harry Potter-inspired Bnb the last time I was there. This is my favorite accent wall decor to hide a TV—empty monochromatic picture frames. The living room wall behind the TV was just feeling a little empty and unfinished to me. Originally, I didn’t want the wall to compete with the Platform 9 3/4 inspired wall that is right beside it—I was afraid it might feel like too much or be too cluttered visually. But once the space was done, I realized it just felt a little unfinished, so I added this accent wall.

I actually have basically the exact same type of wall in my personal home, just in green. So that’s how you know I love it. Ha. It’s super simple to install (just command strips and nails) and fairly inexpensive if you can thrift all your frames, which is what I always do. Then it’s just a matter of taking them apart, cleaning or removing any hardware as needed, painting, and hanging them up. I love how the TV kind of disappears into the space, but when it’s on and in use it’s actually even more visible with the darker background.

That’s the main update I wanted to share, but might as well throw in a couple more things from our Harry Potter-inspired Bnb.

In the Gryffindor bedroom, I added a Marauder’s Map to the wall along with some vinyl wall decals of footprints. Mischief managed!

And in the Ravenclaw room, I added this open book accent wall, which I shared more about how to DIY here. Thanks for letting me share! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

Waterproof Table Cover DIY (For Arts + Craft Time!)

I have to confess that as a mom, I struggle a bit with having messy fun and letting go of control over trying to keep things relatively clean at times. It’s not that our house is perfectly clean (it’s like really, really far from that usually!), but I still try and keep messy crafts to the outdoors for easier cleanup when possible. That’s all fine and good if I can just move an activity outside and we still get to paint cardboard boxes or have a mini car wash (or dinosaur wash—Lola’s favorite!), but there’s a good six months out of the year here where that’s not really possible, so we have to bring the crafts indoors!

I’ve been wanting to make a simple waterproof cover for our breakfast nook table for a while now so we could paint/craft in that space with less worrying about mess and I finally made one! I even added some large piping to the edge of the table cover as a lip to keep paintbrushes and markers from rolling off the table constantly, which keeps me from having to fetch a crayon or marker every 20 seconds as they just naturally seem to want to roll onto the floor (and keeps the floor cleaner as well!). While it is a large item to sew, it’s still a pretty easy thing to make—I’ll show you how to make one, whatever shape table you have!

-waterproof fabric* (I used this as I was looking for a more natural waterproof fabric)
-sewing machine
-straight pins
-large piping (I bought 4 yards of this piping)
-fabric scissors

*The yardage you’ll need will depend on how big your table is! My table is 42″ round and I did a 6″ tall side and had plenty with the two yards I ordered, but not all fabric is the same width so make sure you think about that too.

First, you’ll want to measure the table you’ll be covering and add a 1/2″ to each side so you have a 1/2″ seam allowance all around. I added a tiny bit more to my top panel measurement just to make sure it wouldn’t be too small for the table, so I would suggest doing that as well. Cut out a piece of cloth those dimensions. My table is relatively small so I just turned it upside down and placed it on top to trace and add 1/2″ around—haha! Then, cut two long strips of fabric to make the side panel that were 7″ wide. You can get a good idea of how long you need your side strip to be by adding up all four side measurements of your square or rectangle table (with that 1/2″ seam allowance included). For a circular table like mine, you can measure the diameter of the table (add 1″ for the 1/2″ seam allowance on both sides) and then multiply that number by 3.14 to find the circumference. Remember that from math class!? I would add 2-3″ to that number to have a little extra and that’s how long your side strip will need to be. Since it’s a long strip, you’ll probably have to join more than one strip together to get your total length. So just face the right sides together of two strip ends, sew them together with 1/2″ seam allowance, and flatten the seam allowance and top stitch the flaps down for a more finished look. Once your top is cut and your side piece is long enough, take your top piece and pin your piping 1/2″ in from the edge all along the top of the fabric (so you want the rope part of the piping to hang over that 1/2″ mark … my piping had a 1/2″ fabric allowance on the other side of the rope so I could just line it up with the edge exactly). To finish your trim when you get back to where you started, just cross over the ends and you’ll just sew over the hump of where they cross. You can buy a special piping foot for your sewing machine (just look into which fits your make and model of machine if you want to get one), but I usually just use a zipper foot as that’s what already comes with most machines and it works well enough. Load your zipper foot onto your machine and position your needle so you are sewing just on the outside of the rope part of the piping and sew all the way around (you’ll have to help it a little as it goes over the crossed ends hump at the end). Once the piping is in place, pin your side panel to your top panel, right sides together with the piping in the middle. To find the exact length your side panel should be to go all the way around perfectly, pin it all the way around and when you get back to the beginning again, pin the panel together where it should close so you can sew it together with a 1/2″ seam allowance on both ends and trim any excess fabric. Then sew the two ends together (with that 1/2″ seam allowance), push the seams flat and topstitch them down to have one long connected side panel. You can unpin a few inches of the side panel from the top piece if you need a little slack to sew the panels together, just re-pin it back on when the two panels are attached. Sew all the way around with your zipper foot taking care to sew just on the outside of the piping rope sandwiched between your fabric (you should be able to feel where it is with your fingers pretty easily). Once finished, you can trim your 1/2″ seam allowance to a 1/4″ one if you would like for a little less bulk.
And now you have your piping at the connecting point for your top and side panels!
To finish your cover, fold under the bottom 1/2″ of your side panel and sew the folded edge all the way around. That’s all! Now your table cover is ready to use!

How legit does that look? I love that I can throw something on the table that won’t slide around (like when I just try to put a piece of cardboard under projects), it’s waterproof, wipeable, and the piping lip is great for catching items before they roll to the ground. If you wanted to make piping out of your waterproof fabric so it was all waterproof/wipeable you could do that too! I think it’s great for kids to be able to get messy and do lots of creative projects, but I also like easy cleanup and less chores on my long to-do list, so this is a win for everyone (and waterproof smocks like this one help save laundry too!). So far this has been a huge hit for watercolor painting and wipes off really easily when we’re done—let’s get messy! xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with ACS for Desktop Actions.

Open Books Accent Wall

I wanted to share a small but pretty impactful update I made to the Ravenclaw bedroom in our modern Harry Potter-inspired Bnb. I added an open books accent wall above the bed, and I am completely in LOVE with how it turned out. It was also incredibly easy to install. Plus, you could even modify this DIY from the way I installed for a zero-damage version that would even be suitable for most renter situations.

I actually had a stash of random hardcover books that were left in our house after we purchased it. Most were things I wasn’t planning to read, so I decided to use them for this project in addition to 4-5 books I thrifted. I specially bought a few more books for this project because I wanted a few that had very yellowed pages, so there was a variety of page colors in the final design. This made the project VERY affordable as far as the supplies went toward making this open books accent wall.

Here’s everything I used:

-hardcover books
-command strips
-small nails + hammer
-scotch tape
-measuring tape

You could absolutely skip the nails and use all command strips, but you’ll have to use at least three times as many as I did, so that will add to the final cost. But if you’re worried about adding nail holes to your walls (like, if you cannot because of your rental agreement), I just want to put it out there that this project is still super possible.

Step One: Plan out your design. Measure your wall and lay out books and pages how you plan to have them on your wall space. One thing I planned for was how high off the bed to start my design, and keeping the bottom layer of books open flat so it wouldn’t be uncomfortable if you sit on the bed with your back to the wall. You may have to slightly adjust your design as you install, but starting off with a plan that is the size you want to cover is still super helpful.

Step Two: Add the books to the wall, starting in the middle of your design. I did this by adding one command strip to the spine of the book and sticking that to the wall. Then I added one nail on each side of the book, to hold it open. Sometimes I nailed down all the pages, and sometimes I left some open. I like the varied look this created.

Step Three: Add any loose pages, paper airplanes, or any other little accents you are adding in addition to the books. You can also fold or scrunch the pages of the books once they are hung to give them all a slightly different feeling. Or you can keep it more uniform! It’s totally up to you. I was hoping for my open book accent wall to feel almost like the books are coming alive and flying up to the ceiling as I wanted it to feel bookish but also whimsical. 🙂

This project took just under two hours once I had all my supplies. Super simple and easy for one person to do, even if you’re not super handy. And here’s one more more little detail I added to the Ravenclaw-inspired bedroom:

I bought this eagle figurine that I painted white and now he sits on the dresser in this room. It was pointed out to me that I didn’t have any eagles in the room, which is the Ravenclaw mascot. So now I’ve remedied this officially. 🙂 Thanks for letting me share! xo. Emma

P.S. I completed this a few weeks ago before we started to self-quarantine. Just wanted to make it super clear we’re not advocating anyone travel (especially on airlines) right now until the current health crisis changes. Elsie and I are actually planning to talk a little bit in the next podcast episode about how this is effecting our STR properties (short answer—very bad). Anyway, still proud to share projects from this home even though it’s not going to be a place for families to make memories in for a while.

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

How I Share My Office/Craft Space With My Toddler

While sometimes I do dream of having a house in the future with a little more room (especially as a family with two adults working from home), we’ve definitely learned to make use of the space that we do have, and try and share most areas of the house for dual purposes. Our front room doubles as a guest room, our dining area doubles as my work table, and what used to be just my office/craft storage room is now also Lola’s playroom and where we’ve been storing the majority of her toys. As you can imagine, it takes a little bit of thought and planning to share a space like that with an active toddler. So I thought I’d share what works for us in case anyone else needs to have a dual-purpose room as well!

Harmless items are accessible while dangerous ones are not: Especially in my craft supply area, I have a lot of things like scissors, X-Acto knives, and other little sharp tools that I obviously do not want Lola to get a hold of. Even as she learns to use scissors (which she loves doing), her little scissor sets are up with my big ones high on a shelf where she can’t get to them on her own. It’s also a good idea to think about any stools or chairs in the room that could be used to stand on and make sure they are unreachable even standing on one of those. I don’t feel the need to put every item of mine up high though, if it’s not a dangerous thing. For example, she could get to my fabric supply that I keep in a low dresser or my paper collection which is on the bottom shelf of my storage lockers. But that would be more of a nuisance than a hazard. Of course, each age has its own things to think about, so while Lola can get to small wool balls and pom-poms in my craft storage (she likes to play with them in lots of ways), a younger child that’s still putting things in their mouth may choke on those so they would be in the “out-of-reach” category for them. Even things like art supplies are placed accordingly so Lola can get to crayons or colored pencils whenever she wants, but the permanent markers are out of sight.

Make use of storage cabinets (with lockable options): I got this storage locker specifically because it had shelves that were up high and out of reach and had an option to add a little padlock to a door if it was one you wanted to keep locked. At the moment, I’ve followed the above guide for keeping harmless things like paper on the bottom and sewing needles at the top, so I haven’t had to lock anything, but it’s great to know that if I needed to have the cabinet full of things I didn’t want her to get to, I could very easily.

Shelves for everyone to share: Rows of shelves are handy because they can be easily switched to store any kind of object and Lola has the bottom shelves for her items while I can use the top ones she would need help with reaching anyways. I have a cluster of built-in shelves that we share, but then I also have some lower ones elsewhere that she keeps some art supplies on.

Toys are easy to get to (and easy to put away): As there is actually SO much stored in this room with both Lola’s and my items, I wanted a toy storage system that made tidying up easy and something that Lola could do on her own. Things like open shelving and cube baskets make it possible for Lola to get things down and clean up and put away things on her own as well. It’s not every time, of course, but I find that a lot of toddlers actually like to put away toys when you have a clean up song they like, and they love throwing small items into bins and baskets. So it’s great practice for learning to be a helper around the house.

Make use of kid-proofing items: Of course, there are lots of kid-proofing items on the market, so make use of any that help keep your stuff out of your kid’s hands (we use magnetic locks in our kitchen and they are great), but the only thing that I have in the room is a childproof doorknob cover for the closet. I purposefully tried to find places to store anything she would need to get to in the room without having to use the closet, so I could just put whatever I wanted to in there and close the door. I don’t have anything dangerous down low in the closet just in case I forget and leave the door open for a minute, so it’s more like breakables or fragile things I’d rather not have destroyed. Haha.

I don’t know if there’s a perfect system for sharing an area with kids, but this seems to be working well for us so far. Yes, sometimes Lola gets paper out of my cabinet without asking or pushes buttons on the printer (I usually keep it unplugged and then she’s not interested in it), but those are just part of the normal conversations you have with small kids as they learn how to listen and follow rules. Like everything around the house, you’ll adjust things as kids grow to fit their stage of development (eventually she’ll figure out childproof doorknob covers so I’ll have to think of something else there if needed), but that’s a pretty normal thing that parents are always on the lookout for. I have noticed that there are items Lola could get to that I would prefer she didn’t (like some paints), but because they are in a different container than what she’s used to seeing her paint in, she has no clue they are there. Haha! I guess that one is a bit of a gamble, but the worst case scenario would be a mess to clean up, so I guess I’ll risk it. Hope this was helpful for your home if you have to share your space as well with someone small! xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

How I Organized My Fridge In One Afternoon!

I have a confession to make—it has been a long, loooong time since I have properly cleaned out my fridge. Like, embarrassingly long. The last time I cleaned it I was pregnant and I know that being launched into parenthood would probably mean it would be a while before it would be cleaned again (and boy was I right!). My daughter is turning 3 soon, so I’ll let you do the math on that one. It has been a goal for me to do a full clean/purge/organization of our fridge, so I finally ordered the supplies I needed, picked a day, and got it all done in one afternoon—YES! I basically did a similar approach when I organized my hall closet in one afternoon and I just love tackling one space at a time in my home as the opportunity arises. Feels so much more doable than trying to do it all at once! OK, here’s how I tackled the fridge beast and won!

1.) Pull out all food and group by category. First, I pulled everything out of my fridge and set it on the counter/floor so I could see it all. There were some things I wasn’t that worried about leaving out for an hour (like ketchup or veggies), but I kept things like meat in their spot until right before I cleaned that area so they wouldn’t be out of the fridge long. You could also add some ice to a cooler and keep them in there while you clean as well.

2.) Deep clean that empty fridge! I then wiped down and cleaned every surface of the fridge and took out all the drawers to wash them as well. Make sure to check and see how your shelves and drawers come out as you should be able to get all of those taken apart so you can clean each element separately. I wasted a lot of time thinking my shelves didn’t come out until I realized on accident that they do and it made cleaning those areas so much easier since I wasn’t trying to clean crevasses with a toothpick (maybe check your user guide or search your fridge model online to see how yours come out). I realized there had been two huge separate soy sauce spills in the main area and the condiment shelves at some point and as gross as it was, it felt amazing to clean all that syrupy gunk out. Blech! Make sure to check and wipe any bottles/jars that have sticky bottoms from fridge spills so you are putting clean items back in the fridge. I just made a quick cleaner in a glass spray bottle with some water, Sal’s Suds, and a few drops of lemon and sweet orange essential oils.

3.) Get rid of old/unused food! Once your fridge is clean, you can start to look over your food and toss out anything that’s past its expiration date or a food you know you just aren’t going to eat (maybe you found out about a food sensitivity recently or bought two of something but didn’t like the first jar, etc.). This is also when you will find any leftovers that you forgot about that have about 1″ of mold, so it feels super nice to get rid of any of those items too! Put any good giveaway food in a pile to see if a friend or neighbor can use it and then put the other containers in a pile to throw out or rinse and recycle. It really is amazing the amount of stuff in a fridge that you can get rid of once you know it’s there! I also got rid of anything that had ingredients I avoid buying now (like a few things with high-fructose corn syrup) and added them to my shopping list to find a better version at the health food store. I also realized that once I got rid of a ton of old/unused items I had way more room in my fridge door shelves, which has been great. I definitely had items stacked two (or three!) deep on those shelves, so it was always an avalanche waiting to happen and now everything has a spot.

4.) ORGANIZE! For food storage, we are constantly running out of containers for leftovers and packing lunches, so I got this set of stainless steel containers (also great for getting raw meat in if you are trying to do less waste when shopping), a set of glass containers with lids (they are oven-safe too which is nice), and these smaller round glass containers. I’ve used whatever mason jars we’ve had around the house for food storage for a while, but they kept disappearing (I swear they are like socks—I don’t know where they go!) and I’m glad I switched to something that’s a little more stacking friendly in the fridge than the jars are.

These organizers were perfect for putting jars of similar food together and the handles make it easy to pull out a drawer, take what you need, and slide it back in. I also added two of the small ones to the pull out drawer to separate sweet things like cookie dough and chocolate bars (I like my chocolate bars chilled) from lunch meat/bacon items. That set comes with eight drawers, so you should have some leftover to get a jump on organizing your freezer as well.

This bottle organizer is perfect for holding wine/sparkling water, and I like that I can put it on a lower shelf since they are horizontal and it doesn’t have to go up top where it always seems to get crowded with taller items that have to be there. Maybe it’s weird but I’ve always wanted one of these dispensers to keep your cans organized, and I chose that one as it has a lid on the top (some of them are open) so I can still set smaller containers on top of it—gotta keep that space usage in mind!

I love love storing/packing food in these Stasher bags (the snack size is super handy as well) and I made sure to get a container that would fit the width of the bags I have so I could stack them upright in the fridge—pretty and useful!

Look at that before and after! While there is still a lot of food in the fridge, it feels clearly defined what goes where, and there’s room for all the items we use. I love it!! Another nice perk of having more designated areas for foods is that it’s easier to find where things are after someone else in the house puts them away—berries go here, meat goes here, olives are here, etc. So far, living with a clean and organized fridge has made me feel like I have a house cleaner that came in and did it for me, but I know it was me so I’ll take all the credit!! Now I know if MTV Cribs stops by unannounced I won’t be ashamed to show them my fridge … come on by! xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

How To Hygge

This past year, I have been SUPER inspired by the concept of hygge! I read one book and immediately became OBSESSED and have been on my own little journey ever since. From a young age, I have always been attracted to a cozy home. I remember in junior high I took a bubble bath every morning. Haha—like, I got up extra early every morning just to enjoy my bath. I have always been obsessed with candles (more recently essential oils as well!), baking, blankets, slippers … all of the cozy things! So learning about the Danish concept of hygge really resonated with me and I wanted to learn everything I could.

The definition of hygge is “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).”

In this post, I will share all the books I read (there are so many great ones!) as well as things I’ve changed up in our home to create a more cozy living space.

Things I incorporated into our home/life:

More lighting sources. I have been slowly adding lamps, twinkle lights and other sources like a beautiful essential oil diffuser. The holidays really inspire this for me because I LOVE the feeling of walking into our living spaces to the glow of the Christmas trees and the twinkle of our outdoor lights through the windows. Although nothing will ever be as magical as the holidays, I aspire to add more twinkle year round because it makes our home so much more cozy at night.

Candles and oils. I don’t use as many candles as I used to, but a few unscented candles do make a big difference in the vibe. It’s a part of the ritual! For creating a cozy scent, I rely on essential oil diffusers (we have seven throughout our home— haha). My favorite oil combo is lavender, fir needle and some sort of citrus, like orange. So nice!

Minimizing. This is HUGE. I still would never consider myself a minimalist, but I have learned the incredible value in clearing out my home—donating, selling and generally just having less stuff.

Neutral colors and texture. This is my personal preference for decor that feels cozy to me. While I love to gawk at photos of colorful tile, bright sofas and wild patterned walls, I feel most at home in a neutral space. It somehow provides balance to my brain. At the end of a long day, what I really crave is a simple, neutral space, clean countertops, uncluttered surfaces and textured cozy blankets and pillows. (To be clear, my home is not always clean … I just crave that!)

Natural materials. This is SO big for me. A few years back, I started the effort to stop buying so much plastic and instead spend my money on items that are from nature—woven baskets, things made of wood, ceramics, vintage wool rugs instead of new synthetic rugs. It takes time. But over time you can improve the air quality in your home and the longevity of the things you buy. Hygge teaches that being surrounded by natural materials is good for us on a deeper level as well. It may sound silly to some, but I swear it has made a big difference in my home.

Saving special purchases for special occasions. I read about this in the first book I recommend below. I love this concept. Since I heard it I have begun to save special purchases and get them as a reward for milestones and celebrating goals achieved. It has made a massive difference to me in how much I appreciate these purchases and it feels good to have happy memories tied to items in our home.

Planning the hygge factors in each room. In the past, I would plan the decor for my rooms, but I didn’t put much thought into the emotional side of the decor or the memories I wanted to create in these rooms. The biggest difference the concept of hygge has made in my life is that I now plan my rooms around the hygge elements, not the decor elements. So for example, when in the past I would be worried about which wallpaper to choose for our bedroom, I am not concerned about how nice it is for reading at night and for morning routines, etc. In my kitchen, I once would have felt incomplete without a big design statement or a major color moment, but now I am planning for the parties we will host, nights at home with our kiddos and holidays. It’s a different perspective and one that is more based on making everyone FEEL at home rather than decorating for visuals.

By the way, I feel like I am just getting started and will continue working on my cozy goals in our new home!

Books I read and loved:
The Little Book of Hygge
Dwell Gather Be
Hygge: Unlock the Danish Art of Coziness + Happiness
The Book of Hygge

Each of these books are a quick read. I read most of them in 1-2 airplane rides. Although there will be some overlapping information, I felt that each author had a different emphasis and I liked learning from more than one person.

If you are interested in the idea of hygge, I would LOVE to hear what changes you made to your home and what has been the most rewarding for you.

xx- Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.