How to Hang an Artwork Grid

Okay, okay, I know this seems like a really easy and lame topic to cover.  Hanging a gallery wall is easier, once the layout has been determined because the layout is usually more loose.


A grid however, takes precision or it looks wonky and bad. It’s especially difficult when you have cheap frames (intentional choice because these are low and could get knocked down) with uneven hook placement.  After nearly five years of living in this house, I finally landed on art for this stretch of wall between the fireplace and guest bedroom door.


Placing art is was tricky because the thermostat is off centered width wise, but also kind of low.  Also, there’s a covered junction from an old sconce, both of which I wanted to minimize.  To determine my spacing, I measured the thermostat and found five inches to work.  Then, I measured the width of the wall and marked it with a piece of tape, along with two more pieces, each 2.5 inches on either side.  Measuring from the ceiling, I hung the top row of frames without much difficulty.


But, the second row was more ticklish because each frame had to line up within the row, but also the frame above.  Each frame hook was just slightly off from the others, so I labeled the backs with numbers so I couldn’t mix up.


I left the top frame up,  measured five inches from the bottom and placed another piece of tape.  Then, measure the hook distance down and mark on more tape.  Using masking tape handy keeps the walls free of tons of marks.


I found the easiest way to align the frames vertically is with a small level. First, make sure the upper frame is plumb, then mark a piece of tape with a line.  Use this line to mark the distance to the nail hole.


From here, it’s easy to do the rest, just pop a nail in and make sure they’re all level.


Ugh, they’re already a little crooked, but I swear they’re actually even.  Oh, if you’re having a hard time figuring out easy and cheap art, look no further than your houseplants and yard.


I pressed these between paper under heavy books, then backed the frames with cheap newsprint paper before framing.  For a more realistic touch, I just might add ‘labels’ to the bottom corner.


The thermostat is still visible, of course, but it feels a tad more disguised because the art catches more attention.

A Look at Last Year

2016 was another busy year for us, chock full of projects.  As usual, some are bigger than others, but much of this year included tearing our basement down to the studs for a complete rebuild.  What started as a paper plan and vision in our heads, along with a lot of physical labor, has become five freshly finished and functional rooms.

The Mud Nook:

Previously this was an unfinished, under stair storage area with a door at the end.


To eliminate an annoying door swing and give the garage entrance storage, we took 18 inches from the stair storage to put in a bench, shoe cubbies, and tons of hooks.  It has come in so handy over this snowy winter, allowing all the snow pants, coats, hats, gloves, and boots to dry while keeping them off the floor.


The Laundry Room:

Before remodeling, the laundry room worked, and had a good amount of storage, but didn’t completely suit our needs.

To pack as much function into this 8 by 9 room as possible, we stacked the washer and dryer, added an upright freezer, a kitchen sink, and open shelving.  And that’s just the left side!  Across, we added two drawer stacks, including pull out drying racks, a folding counter and cabinets above, as well as a tall cabinet to hold the ironing board and vacuum.


Along with taking 18 inches from the under stair storage, we also straightened out the angled doorway, gaining a longer mud nook.  By doing so, we created a deep closet with shelves at the back and hanging rods toward the front.  There’s still access under the stairs through the closet, which is a hidden play space for our boys.

Theater Room:

Though technically considered a bedroom, the larger of the two spaces is being used as a theater room.  In the second and  third photos below, the painted door was a small closet.

In order to access this room, we removed the small closet to connect it to the hallway on the other side.  At the back of the long room, we added a wall to create a closet behind, hence the door to the right of the tv.  Oh, we also have blackout curtains now to get the room really dark.

Basement Bathroom:

The 70’s called, and they wanted the bathroom back, so we happily gave up the yellow fixtures and orange countertops.  And the glue covered floors, which had stinky pet stained carpet before.


We ripped out the narrow shower stall, replacing it with a wider marble clad enclosure, slate floors, and a custom vanity.

Horizontal Stair Railing and Slate Floor:

While the basement ceiling was open and we had access to the stair railing, we jumped at the chance to swap out the very traditional, orange oak rail and banister.


The simple railing blends in nicely with the tongue and groove wall and is a neutral background for the living room.  Slate floors finally replace the super traditional stained cream marble with inlaid tile rug.

Deck Makeover:

Technically, we finished the deck the summer of 2015, but it wasn’t until May of 2016 that we actually found furniture for it and started getting use out of it.  This was a complete tear down, resulting in months of working on digging post holes, setting posts, building a roof, laying new deck boards, attaching a modern rail, and staining.

We now have a cozy place to enjoy our view, grill, and relax.

Garden Update:

Yet again, the majority of work here had been done before 2016, but as the plants continue to grow, it’s fun to look back at the beginning stages of creating our backdoor oasis.


Seeing these pictures really make me miss all of the life and color that are outside, but I’m so excited to get back out there come spring.


To see more of the progress we’ve made since buying this house, check out our Four Year Home Tour, parts one, two, and three.

We’ve already started on one of this year’s big projects, and I can’t wait to share more soon!

Last Minute DIY Gift for Women

Have you finished all of your holiday shopping?  No?  Well, then I think you’re with the majority of the public.  Maybe you have a woman (or two, or several!) on your list, but don’t know exactly what to get?  If that’s the case, consider this DIY that’s so quick and easy to personalize, you’ll be voted most thoughtful gifter of 2016.  I guarantee it.  Okay, I can’t guarantee it, but it seems likely.


To make one, or twenty, you’ll need:


  • Small circle stamping blanks
  • Jump rings
  • Necklace chain(s)
  • A hammer
  • Steel block
  • A letter and number stamping kit

I found everything I needed to complete this project (minus the hammer and steel block, because I already had one) at Hobby Lobby.  There were several stamp options, in a variety of sizes and fonts.  I chose a simple block font, for $11.99 plus a 40% off coupon.  The more you plan on stamping, the easier it is to justify buying a set, so really go to town.


Place your stamping circle on the steel block or something that’s really hard, maybe concrete.  Wood will not work because the hammer will push into it and twist the metal piece.  It helps to place a piece of tape at the bottom, to keep the disc in place, but also give you a line to keep your letter straight.


Then, hold the letter in place, keeping it steady and tap the end 5 to 10 times.  I found it easier, and got better results, by lightly tapping several times rather than one hard whack.  Not only can you keep the letter from moving, but hitting multiple times, moving the hammer around slightly, will impress the letter evenly into the disc.  stamped-necklace-hammering

With the disc finished, open a jump loop and slip it through the hole before closing it back up.  String it on a chain and you’ve just made a thoughtful, beautiful gift.  For friends with several kids, go ahead and make a disc for each kiddo for a sweet, sentimental piece she’s sure to love.


If sending through the mail, keep the necklace safe by attaching it on a piece of card stock, tape the back to prevent tangling.


For bonus points, make a fun little monogrammed ornament.  You’ll need wooden discs, small eye screws, ribbon, needle nose pliers, and paint.


Carefully screw the eye screw into the top of the disc, slip ribbon through, and paint a cute letter on the front.


It works as a fun gift topper, but something they can keep year after year.  Any great DIY gifts you’ve made this year or previously?

Painted Doors

Quite often, when I post an image on Instagram, I get questions about the paint colors used in our home.  Usually about the wall of the living room, master bed and bathroom, and our doors.  Everyone seems really comfortable painting walls any color, but doors feel like so much more of a commitment.  And I get it, sure you’re only choosing one color, but that one color has to play nicely with the colors of the rooms beyond.

From the get go, I knew I wanted to paint the orange toned wood doors in our home.

New-House-Dining-into-Living-Room April 13 2012

White feels like the easiest option, but I wanted to avoid the inevitable dirty fingerprints that two boys surely leave behind.  I gathered up any and all colors that got my attention.  Instantly, I was drawn to a warm gray with green undertones, Squirrel from Behr.  A quick paint sample on the door confirmed my love and I spent a couple of weeks painting every door.


The darker color feels like punctuation, a little accent.  We’ve had this unique color for nearly four years, and it adds so much character to our rooms.


Far and away more than white ever could-just look at this quickly Photoshopped picture.  It’s fine, but pretty boring comparatively.  Oddly enough, I feel like the white draws more attention to that side.


If you’re considering painting doors a color other than white, I’d suggest picking the door color first, if possible.  By painting our doors first, I’ve been able to choose wall colors for each room that compliment the door.  If I were reversing the selection process, it could have been tricky to pick a door color based on all the connecting room paint colors.

Install a modern ceiling fan, yes they do exist!:

These gray doors have a slightly green undertone, but still pairs well with cooler neutrals.

Our Humble Abode Blog Main Bathroom Vanity

As well as saturated or bolder colors.


Unlike the white trim, the color is incredibly forgiving, not showing the smudges from dirty hands.


Of course, black doors are also a lovely option, especially paired with simple trim.  I love the combination Lauren Liess created by adding brass plates and unique door handles.

Navy is another beautiful option, like this closet door from Yellow Brick Home.  It’s especially easy if you plan to use a lot of neutrals on the walls.  It’s a great way to add color, but an unexpected way to bring it in.


I also think a deep, nearly black green would be a lovely, unusual color on doors.  Something like our theater walls, painted Jasper from Sherwin Williams.


Do you have painted doors?  If so, what color and how do you go about pairing it with wall paint?

A Thrill of Hope

Every holiday this year, I’ve kept decorations to a minimum.  Rather than stressing about getting everything taken out, set up, and put away, all for only a couple of weeks of enjoyment, I’ve used only what I really love.  After sorting out the Christmas decorations, donating what I didn’t want to keep, I noticed I didn’t have anything to put on the mantle.


To fill the void, I knew I wanted to add a wooden sign (for warmth) with a song lyric on it.  After tossing out several options, Ben said he liked ‘A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices’ best.


To create the sign, I used two 1 by 12 inch reclaimed cedar boards, salvaged from our neighbors replaced siding.  After cutting the boards to 36 inches wide, I flipped each over to secure together with scraps of tongue and groove pine and 1 1/2 inch wood screws.


Using Photoshop, I created a digital design and had planned to print it as an engineer print to transfer.  I didn’t have time to get there, but when I picked the boys up from school, I asked a teacher friend of ours if I could use the projector to trace it.


Sure, it took some time, but it wasn’t terrible and the boys decided to ‘help’ me trace.  When I returned home, I laid the paper out, centering it on my boards, then taped one end to keep it from shifting.  Transferring the text is so easy with carbon paper. Years ago, I bought a pack of 20 sheets and have used them for different projects.  I just shift my sheet around to the parts I haven’t gotten and trace the design with a mechanical pencil tip, minus the lead.


Then, I turned on the Gilmore Girls revival and started filling in with paint.  It’s far from perfect, and you’ll see there are still bits of the carbon peeking out if you look closely.  If you have a cutting machine, that is certainly a great option to save time.


It’s the center of the mantle, with a white ceramic house (filled with a battery-powered strand of twinkle lights) and simple bottle brush trees round out the mantle top.


A string of adorable wooden and plaid trees, from Target’s dollar spot, and stockings identified by initials hang from railroad spikes.


I’d love to get a few bigger brush trees to add more height and color on the sides.  New stockings are also on my to do list, since these aren’t my favorite.  I don’t think the boys really appreciate the dangly beads on theirs.


Another super holiday addition is a red plaid throw and a vase of evergreen branches clipped from our trees.


No mess, no stress, and all is easily stored away once the season has passed.