Framing A Love Story

It’s raining! No, not outside, but it seems like I’m getting caught up in a lot of showers these days. I’m talking about wedding and baby showers! Don’t even ask how many I’ve been to in the past year—I’ve lost count. And while I know the happy couples and expecting parents may have put a lot of thought into the items on their registries, I sometimes like to go my own way, especially if it’s for a close friend. After all, Aunt Susan can buy you that Le Cruset pot that you just HAVE TO HAVE! Instead, I like to do something I little different.

Framing A Love Story - A wedding shower gift by

Framing A Love Story – A wedding shower gift by

For a recent wedding shower I decided to create something for the happy couple to display in their home. I used cutouts of maps to tell their love story, highlighting important moments in their relationship (where they met and fell in love, where they got engaged and the new city they recently moved to together). The personalization options for a gift like this are endless!

Here’s how it all came together:

Framing A Love Story

1. Gather all of your supplies at a workstation. Take apart your frame and used the spray adhesive to attach decorative paper (I chose linen) directly to the inside of the back piece of the frame (creating a base for you to work on).

2. Use the circle punch to cut meaningful locations out of an atlas. You can also print maps on the computer, but I liked the style of the maps in the atlas a bit better than what I could find online.

3. Use a computer to design any other text that you may want incorporated into your design. Print your designs and text on heavy card stock and cut out with decorative scissors if desired.

4. Lay out your design and use the spray adhesive (a nice thin, even coat is all you need) to attach everything. Put the frame back together and give as a gift or hang on the wall.

SWWU Tip 1: Though it’s a little pricy, the spray adhesive I recommended above is well worth the investment. It allows you to use the thinnest coat of glue possible, which is ideal when working with thin paper. It dries very quickly, so make sure you’re putting pieces exactly where you want them when using it.

SWWU Tip 2: I was able to find an inexpensive 2013 atlas in a used book store for just $3. You can find similar deals at stores near your house or on eBay and Amazon.

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A Glass Act

If you were to take a peek inside our kitchen cupboards you’d notice that I like simplicity. I prefer a nice clean slate to showcase delicious food and pretty decorations on, so white plates and clear glasses make up about 80 percent of our housewares. Sometimes though, a pop of color can be a welcome addition. I was recently craving some color after I brought home some pretty yellow flowers. The clear vases I had on hand just weren’t helping them shine, so I decided to transform the rather plain items below into colorful bud vases.

What we started with for the DIY Bud Vases (by

What we started with for the DIY Bud Vases (by

All you need to do the same are a few colorful balloons, scissors and some small vessels to cover. Seriously, it’s that easy. Take a look at the result below. Not bad, right?

DIY Bud Vases by

DIY Bud Vases by

Whether they’re displayed on a shelf or lined up down the center of a table, I bet my guests would never guess that these bud vases are made from random kitchen items including jars, bottles, salt and pepper shakers, a shot glass and a jigger.

To make some for yourself, use scissors to snip the ends off of a balloon (the amount you cut will vary based on what you’re covering). Stretch the latex over the vessel and adjust as necessary. The balloons will only stretch so far without tearing, so use your best judgement when selecting balloon sizes and objects to cover. I allowed the latex to bunch a bit on a few of the vases, which added a nice texture to the look. I also enjoyed when the balloon didn’t cover the entire object, and just provided a stripe of color (as it did in the glass bottle in the background of the photo). Play around and have some fun.

SWWU Tip: The best part about this project is its versatility. Balloons come in every color of the rainbow, so you’re sure to find one that matches the look or theme you’re going for.

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SYWU: Finding Your Footing

Today is a special day at SWWU: We’re going to introduce a new section of the blog, Something YOU Whipped Up. That’s right! We know many of our talented readers and friends have completed all sorts of awesome projects. And now, we’re going to show them off right here from time to time.

Today we have a project from Eric and Mike, a creative couple in North Carolina. Here, Eric is going to share with us something he recently whipped up for their beautiful home!

Finding Your Footing via EL Hastie for

Finding Your Footing via EL Hastie for

We love cast iron. Besides making the best material for cooking delicious goodies, it also has been formed into many delightful decorations for outdoor patios, city manhole covers, and most importantly, bathtub feet. On a recent antiquing adventure, I was hunting for some cool old bookends. I was about to give up when I spotted the rusty pair of feet pictured below and I thought, “Well, no one is going to use these on a bathtub, but the weight of them makes them perfect for bookends.” What can I say, I’m a sucker for that awesome eagle claw.

After a good scrubbing with a wire brush to clean off the loose rust, I washed them with soapy water and let them dry. After that, each one got a few coats of Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch spray paint in Gloss Cranberry and then I let them dry overnight. The two make for perfect bookends—and they’ve turned out to be a fun topic of conversation when guests are over.

SWWU Tip: Eric picked up his cast iron claw feet at the Sleepy Poet Antique Mall in Charlotte, NC. When he found them, pairs were going for $35 to $50 each. I just did a quick search on Etsy and eBay and found a few sets ranging from $20 to $100 or more. Try searching for the term “cast iron claw feet,” and see what you can find. Make sure the set you buy is smooth on top, so they’ll rest flat on a surface.

Have you and your partner tackled a fun project you think others will enjoy? If so, let us know what YOU whipped up and your design might be featured on the site. Email us at contactswwu[at]gmail[dot]com. Please see our About Us page for submission guidelines.

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At Your Service

It wasn’t too long ago that Brian and I were having one of those lovely Brooklyn days that reminds you of why you live here. We started off at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket, walked through Prospect Park and then zigzagged our way though the streets of Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill. Near the end of our journey we stumbled upon a small antique sore that was curated much better than most, Brownstone Treasures. A lot of things caught our eye, but we picked up two distressed metal bins, knowing that we would do something with them (though we weren’t sure what).

Utensil Caddy made from an antique metal bin by

Utensil Caddy made from an antique metal bin by

One ended up being a great place to stash some magazines, while the other went to work in the kitchen. I filled it with six Ball jars, just enough to separate out all of our utensils. It’s a great help when we have dinner parties and need to carry a bunch of silverware to the dining table—we just pick the whole thing up and go. It also works well when we’re entertaining dinner guests in the courtyard—once again, we just pick up the whole thing and go. My favorite benefit has turned out to be that I can grab a spoon or fork without having to open up a drawer and possibly dirty a handle while I’m cooking. Everything is right at my fingertips, just the way I like it.

If you’re in the neighborhood, definitely check out this spot and see what kind of goodies you can find for your own home.


Brownstone Treasures

200 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231


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5 Steps to a Picture-Perfect Gallery Wall

Brian and I usually have a camera (or two) by our side whenever we go somewhere. We both tend to be drawn to nature and landscape shots the most and have amassed thousands over the past few years. Seriously, that is not an exaggeration.

To help put some of our favorite pics on display, we created two gallery walls in our home. They take some planning and time to put together, but the results are well worth it.


A colorful gallery wall by

Here are our tips for putting a gallery wall up  in your own home:

  1. PROCURE FRAMES—LOTS OF THEM: For both of the walls, I was on a mission: Every brown (for the living room) and gold (for the bedroom) frame that was within budget was scooped up. I tried to get a variety of shapes and sizes and made sure that all had hooks for hanging. No hooks? No problem! You can attach sawtooth picture hangers to the back of nearly any frame if you have time.
  2. MAP OUT YOUR DESIGN: Lay out all of your frames on the floor and start planning your creation. It’s easiest to start in the middle and work your way out and it’s best to keep a similar amount of space between each frame. Remember that they can be placed vertically or horizontally and don’t keep too many going in the same direction all in one place. Mix it up! Walk away from your design for a bit, then come back and see how you feel. Snap a picture of the frames in one configuration, then try something new. You can always revert back to a previous design if you like it better since you’ll have a photo to refer back to.
  3. HANG THE FRAMES: Once you’re happy with your design, start attaching the frames to the wall. This step also works best if you start in the middle and work your way out, adjusting the placement of frames if you need to as you go along. Remember to step back after each one is hung so you can get a look at the big picture and make sure you are satisfied with the outcome.
  4. GO OVERBOARD WITH PHOTOS: Though a bit unconventional, I think it’s best to select your photos after the frames are on the wall. It can be hard to get the exact right configuration with the design and you don’t want to be locked into images that must be hung horizontally when the only thing that will look good in the space needs to go vertically. Besides, you’re likely to  have lots of extra photos to choose from help get this job done. When ordering photos, get your favorites in multiple sizes (if you can afford to spend some extra money) so you can see how different options look in different sized frames. Once you have the photos, see which frame accents each one best and be sure to keep color in mind so you don’t have competing images next to each other.
  5. STRAIGHTEN UP: Sometimes it can be hard to tell if one picture is slightly off-center, but once you get multiple on the wall, these small imbalances will stick out like crazy. Once the photos are secured in their frames, attach a small pice of double stick tape to the back of the bottom edge of each one and gently push against the wall so it won’t move around.

SWWU Tip: Add a pop or color or another point of interest to your design. We have a single window frame hanging in the middle of one of our gallery walls. Shelves, a single frame in a bold color, a mirror or a frame with a unique shape or texture would all add an interesting element to help draw the eye in.

Do you have any secrets for getting a similar look on your own wall? If so, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

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