Monday, 30 July 2012

Mexican Style Decorating Ideas

Mexican style decorating works in small and huge areas too!



Color & Pattern
The use of color is one of the most important factors in decorating. Mexican style bears this out to the max. Whilst large expanses like the floor and furniture can be neutral colors, like earthy beige and brown, the walls and accents are very colorful and textured.

Almost any color works in a Mexican inspired room, if it is bright and vibrant - pastels and grey are most certainly out. Walls look great in yellow and orange - color-washed rather than flat color. Accent colors for furnishings can be anything from:
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Black & White together
  • Green
  • Red
  • Electric blue
  • Cerise

Materials
Decorating Mexican style, not only relies on color for their authenticity, the use of materials is also very important. Mexicans make use of what is around them, when decorating a room, hence the use of such natural products in the home.

Terracotta is always seen in the Mexican home, as either tiles on the floor or walls of kitchens. Pots are always terracotta, often left undecorated when used for plants, and can be used in any room of a Mexican home even the bathroom.
 
Silver is a popular product in Mexico, in any form.

Traditional Mexican woven baskets are made from palm leaves, and are a useful addition to any room, being used for tissue boxes, magazine racks, even waste bins.

The traditional Mexican Serapes blankets are colorful, striped designs, each one unique and individually woven from cotton. Useful for a throw on the bed or couch, as a floor covering, or as a wall-hanging - not to mention as a snuggly blanket.

Mexican homes often feature exposed brick in certain sections or rooms, especially the kitchen. Use a sponge to create a faux brick wall to make this work in your home.

 
Furniture
Mexican inspired rooms embrace the use of natural materials, especially when it comes to furniture. Pieces are wooden and often stained dark. 

Mexican decor embraces the use of large furniture, which makes it an ideal option for a modern home. 

Materials for upholstery should be leather, suede, wicker, or left plain with the use of traditional Mexican blankets.

You can dress up Mexican style furniture and add color, with bright cushions and placemats etc.


Details - Finishing Touches 
Now we've taken care of the big stuff, but the details and finishing touches are just as important in creating an authentic look room when decorating. Mexican style has many different options to add these finishing touches to your home:
  • Sombreros on the wall - as big and as colorful as you dare.
  • Ponchos and traditional woven cotton Serapes Mexican blankets can be used as a feature on a wall, or for a multitude of soft furnishings.
  • Silver ornaments
  • Pottery - always terracotta, but often decorated in bright colors and themes that epitomize Mexican life, like chilies.
  • Bowl of limes - a perfect finishing touch to any Mexican dining room.
  • Chilies - used as patterns on pots or fabrics, or the real thing dried and hung in strings on the wall.
  • Lanterns - add authentic mood lighting.
  • Cacti - no Mexican themed room would be complete without the use of a low maintenance cactus plant.
  • Mirrors with detailed and colorful frames, work well adding color and a sense of space to a hallway, or any small sized room. 

Decorating Mexican style, can take a lot of courage, the use of such bright hues being difficult to use and get used to at first. But be brave, if you think the color is too bright on the walls, then paint over it, or sponge over it to bring the color down a notch as well as adding texture. Using the finishing touches can also be used to create the Mexican look, done in your own unique way.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Ideas for a Country Kitchen Color Scheme



Which Country Style is for You?

The use of an authentic country kitchen color scheme is the first step in knowing how to decorate in the country kitchen style. Although the style is quite specific, there are also French country style colors to draw upon, or you could combine the two looks together, for a kitchen that has your unique style stamp on it.

Both country kitchen looks are very casual, but also everything has a place - it is ordered clutter at it's finest.

French country kitchens lean towards darker wood, and lots of copper pans, the colored elements usually coming from crock pots, bowls, and displayed crockery, rather than any table cloths or soft furnishings.

An American or English country kitchen embraces the use of color more fully with pictures on the wall, and gingham tablecloths. There is also the tendency for American country kitchens to have a more light and airy feel to them, rather than the grandiose dark wood of the French style.


Authentic Country Kitchen Colors

Country kitchens don't have to look old fashioned

Using a country style color scheme in the home is actually very versatile. The majority of larger items in the kitchen, such as the table or island, and kitchen cabinets, would consist of an unpainted wood, therefore the color elements in the room are very easy to change to give the room a whole new look, very quickly and easily.

The most popular kitchen colors, to lend a country feel are:
  • Cream
  • White
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Green
  • The use of yellow and orange are also included, but usually more in the way of accent items like pots, or flowers.
Nothing in the way of use of color is subtle in a country style kitchen. Although color can be used in smaller ways, the use of pastels is not encouraged.


French Country Kitchen Style

Use rustic wood textures with a splash
of color to lift the scheme
As traditional colors in a French country kitchen are awash with dark, and often unfinished wood tones, the use of color and pattern to lighten the room, and lend the air of coziness, and a communal place to meet, is very important.

Even the more modern country kitchens in France that use neutral cream units, are still peppered with darker colors, such as dark wood counter tops to lend a balance to the room.

Authentic colors found in a French country kitchen are:
  • Cream
  • White
  • Peach
  • Black
  • Green
  • Red
Again, orange and yellow can play a small colorful role in the form of accent items, such as a pottery cockerel, but would not be used in any great expanse of space.


How to Incorporate Color

Besides the obvious choices of painting the walls in the authentic country color scheme, there are many more ways of incorporating a taste of color into your kitchen's decor.

  • Soft furnishings such as blinds, seat cushions, and tablecloths can add an instant splash of color and can be either plain, gingham check, or a country scene pattern.
  • Crock pots, serving bowls and vases are also a useful way to use color.
  • Flowers and windowsill plants are a way of naturally changing your room's color.
  • Don't overlook the small things like cabinet door handles, candles, and salt and pepper pots.
  • Display crockery that matches the color scheme of your country kitchen.
  • Color can also be added with lampshades, and wall art.
Whatever style or country kitchen color scheme suits you, above all make sure the overriding feel as visitors enter your kitchen is warm and welcoming, no matter what's cooking.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

How to Paint and Decorate Striped Bathroom Walls


Summer is a great time to revamp your bathroom into a relaxing haven; perfect for chilling in after a hot day. One of the latest trends in interior design is to use stripes, which works well in any sized bathroom so it's a look that works for everyone.


Horizontal or Vertical Stripes?

Whilst vertical stripes have been a common feature in living rooms, hallways, and kitchens for years, the use of striped bathroom walls has not been popular in bathrooms.

Bathrooms are not friendly to wallpaper, because of the humidity and moisture levels, which is why we tend to prefer tiles and paint to decorate our bathrooms - this is almost certainly why stripes have rarely made it into this room.

The use of stripes in a bathroom should not be overlooked however, as they not only provide added pattern and interest to the walls (without being too fussy), they can also create visual illusions.

Vertical stripes are ideal if you want to create the illusion of a taller, more grand looking bathroom. Ideally you would only use this on one wall, or one section of wall in the bathroom - a bathroom should be a restful haven, not somewhere to inflict headaches with the overuse of stripes on every wall.

Horizontal stripes are one of the hottest current trends for decorating, and are ideally suited to small or narrow bathrooms, that you want to make feel wider and more spacious. Again, using it on one, or maybe two walls in the bathroom would be sufficient, and to maintain a more modern, restful feel should be wide stripes, or of varying widths, rather than narrow, or candy stripes.


How to Paint Stripes

Striped painted bathroom walls are the easiest way to get the look of stripes in the smallest room of the house, you just need:

  • Tape Measure
  • Spirit Level (preferably large with indicated measurements like a ruler)
  • Masking Tape
  • Plumb line (for vertical stripes)
  • Bathroom paint (regular emulsion paint cannot withstand moisture in a bathroom and will peel off the walls)
For painting vertical stripes
  1. Mark with a pencil around the top of the wall, where you want your stripes to go.
  2. Hang a plumb line from your first mark and "ping the string" of the plumb line to leave a perfect vertical line - no spirit level needed.
  3. Continue around the room.

For painting horizontal stripes
  1. Armed with a large spirit level make your first pencil mark, ensuring that it is straight by focusing on the bubble in the spirit level.
  2. Draw lightly across the spirit level. Move your spirit level across the wall, making sure you have a good overlap with your pencil mark, and make another mark in line with this one.
  3. You could also try measuring your points from either the floor up, or the ceiling down, and then joining these marks up using the spirit level.

For vertical or horizontal striped painted walls, the next step is the same.

Mask off each area with masking tape, and paint your stripes. Remove the masking tape whilst the paint is tacky - not when it's wet as the color can bleed, and not when it's dry as your paint is likely to flake off.


Other Ways of Using Stripes in the Bathroom

Of course striped bathroom walls don't have to be just horizontal or vertical. You could also try painting:

  • Diagonals into the corner of the room.
  • Mask off squares or circles and paint stripes within them.
  • Use one small section as a focal point - maybe off to the side of center.
  • Freehand and irregular stripes for a more relaxed feel.
If you don't want to use paint, to create striped walls in the bathroom, you could also:
  • Use tiles to create the lines, if you don't have a steady hand. Either as a few strips, or just as a splash back.
  • Add small mirrors, or mirrored tiles to create stripes and the feeling of space - metallics are also a hot decorating trend, so you are incorporating two trends into one.
Whichever way you choose to create striped bathroom walls, just remember to use it in one area, or space the stripes out - you want to create the feeling of a modern sanctuary, not migraine central!
 
 
Image Credits:
Black & silver stripes - http://flic.kr/p/Epsfk
 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Want an Easy Project? DIY Bench Cushions Instructions


It seems summer might just be on its way, and as you never know how long it's going to last it pays to make the most of this lovely weather as soon as it appears. The instructions here are suitable for bench cushions that you will use outside as well as inside, with special considerations that you might need to make for each.

Relaxing on a bench seat by a window, or soaking up the rays in the garden - you have the power to style!

Choose the Right Materials

Whether your focus is on how to make bench cushions for outdoor use, or indoor use, the basic principles for making them both are the same. The only extra consideration that you need to make for outdoor bench cushions, should focus on what kind of fabric you are using, as your cushions will be exposed to Mother Nature.


The two main things to consider within this are:
  • Is the fabric you have chosen fade-resistant - especially important if you have picked a dark color.
  • How likely are your cushions to be left out in the rain - in which case some waterproofing medium might be needed.
Other materials required are:
  • Tape measure
  • Upholstery fabric, or thick fabric that will stand up to wear
  • Piping cord (optional)
  • Foam padding - try using some environmentally friendly foam cushions
  • Sewing machine (although it will take longer to do so, sewing bench cushions by hand is perfectly do-able)
  • Waterproof silicon spray (optional - for outdoor bench cushions)

Measuring & Cutting Out

Just as in any other aspect of home decorating, preparation is the key, and with making bench cushions, measuring is the preparation. This is very important to get right, to not only make certain of a good fit, but to ensure no fabric is wasted - or even worse you don't buy enough fabric, meaning another trip to the store and added expense.

  • Measure the length and width of your bench seat, and order, or cut to size, a piece of foam. If you require a deeper cushion then you can place two pieces on top of one another.
  • Measure the depth of the foam. 
  • Add together the length and width measurements and multiply this by 2, then add 1 inch. We will call this (A).
  • Now cut out a strip of fabric to the length (A), by the depth measurement plus 1 inch. This will create the seat surround. If you are using cord piping then cut another strip to this same length but only 1 inch wide. 
  • Cut out two pieces of fabric to your length and width measurements, adding 1 inch to each. This will create the bench cushion, top and bottom.

Making the Cushions
Now the maths is over, it's time to get on with the actual making. If you aren't using piping cord then start at bulletpoint 2:

  1. If you are using piping cord in making your bench cushions, then use the strip of fabric you cut before and place the cord down the center. Fold one side over to the other, and stitch down it, enclosing the piping cord inside. Pin this around the edge of the top cushion fabric allowing for a 1/2 inch seam.
  2. Pin the seat surround, around the edge of the top cushion piece of fabric, allowing for a 1/2 inch seam (if you are using piping cord this should now be sandwiched between the top cushion section and the seat surround. Make sure that the right sides of fabric are facing each other before sewing into place.
  3. Pin the bottom cushion section to the bottom edge of the seat surround, again allowing for a 1/2 inch seam.
  4. Sew around 3 edges - the 2 longest edges, and 1 of the shortest.
  5. Turn the cover the right way around. Press out the seams, before pushing the foam inside the cover, from the shorter end you didn't sew.
  6. Fold in 1/2 inch fabric from this open end at the seat surround and at the seat bottom - make sure they are in line with the other seams so no raw edges can be seen. Neatly sew this section, joining these remaining items together.
Voila! Job done.

After completing these steps in how to make bench cushions, you may want to weatherproof your cushions for outdoor use. Simply spray with a waterproof silicon spray once the item is finished, and leave for a few hours for the substance to completely dry, and penetrate the fabric. Now the process is complete - bench cushions made the easy way!

Monday, 30 April 2012

How to Make a Personalized Garden Sign


Making a sign for your garden is a really neat way to make a unique statement in your garden -- even if you aren't any good at gardening. I've shared loads of ideas here to get your juices flowing, and some of them are even suitable for the kids so it keeps them busy too!

Why Not Carve Your Own Sign?
One method of making your own garden sign is to carve one from stone or wood.


For a beginner the best material to use for a wood sign would be oak, and for a stone sign, stick to inexpensive alabaster or soapstone. The method of carving needn't be as complicated as you think, if you follow a few simple steps:
  • Whether you want to carve into wood or stone you need to make sure it won't move as you are working, so clamp it securely.
  • Borrow, hire, or purchase second hand, rudimentary carving tools - a small size chisel, gouges, a mallet and large V tool.
  • Sketch out your design in pencil, using letter stencils if you wish.
  • Use the V tool to roughly take out as much of the marked out area as you can, starting from the centre and working outwards, staying within the outline.
  • Work vertically along the bottom of each letter using a chisel for the straight parts, and gouges for the curved sections.
  • Perfect the edges of the letters by cutting them with a sliding motion.
  • Smooth any rough edges with sandpaper.

Shaped Signs From Tin Cans

Make your own statement by creating a garden sign that truly integrates into the garden.

One way to do this is by creating a flower shaped sign from old tin cans to mingle with the real flowers in your garden. This is a great way to repurpose junk into garden art, not just a garden sign.

  • Wash out lots of drink cans, cut off the tops and bottoms, and make a cut down the side. Flatten out into a metal sheet.
  • Make a paper template of your chosen shape.
  • Lay the template onto the metal sheet and cut around it. Use more than one sheet, if you need to, by gluing several pieces together with a glue gun.
  • Paint with an enamel paint, leave the metal bare, or use the other side with the drinks logo on.
  • Paint on your sign's message.
  • Mount onto a wooden stake or metal rod, using wire and a glue gun.
  • Plant in amongst your plants, or into a plant pot of its own to make a real stand-out focal point.

Get the Kids Involved

Make a truly unique garden sign by getting the kids involved in its creation:
  • Reuse slate tiles as garden signs and let the children go crazy with chalk, changing it according to their mood.
  • Go the Fawlty Towers route, and create a sign with move-able letters. Magnetic letters can be purchased from toy stores, and a shaped piece of magnetic metal can be used as the base - not all metals are magnetic (aluminum, brass and copper won't work). Or buy the base from a toy store too - often the opposite side of a child's blackboard will be magnetic.
  • Raid your craft stash and make a unique sign using polymer clay. Letters and shapes can be cut out using cookie cutters, or get the kids to mould some flowers or animal shapes. Also try making letters from a "snake" of polymer clay. Adhere to a piece of wood, or fix onto the bottom of decking or raised plant beds.

Further Ideas
Find an alternative purpose for items, such as:
  • A large glass vase can be made into a garden sign easily, using glass paints to decorate and write on the message. Weigh it down with large pebbles placed inside and around the base. You could incorporate candles inside to make an illuminated sign for a magical nighttime glow.
  • Make a garden sign your very own, by using ready made wooden letters, bought from a craft store. Paint and customize them as you wish - add metal buttons or craft gems, or stick on cut out nature-shapes such as ladybirds. Stick into the ground mounted on stakes, fix to a fence or garden wall, or hang off trees and shrubs by wire or string.
The most important thing when making your own garden sign is that it fits in with the feel of the garden, and that it reflects the personality of the people that spend the most time there - enjoy creating!


Image credits:
headline image - http://media.photobucket.com/image/garden%20sign/11camera/Garden/DSCN3912.jpg?o=5
Stone sign - http://www.flickr.com/photos/stickmanuk/2614805909/sizes/z/in/photostream/
Kids sign - http://www.flickr.com/photos/pepino1976/20369509/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Friday, 20 April 2012

Six Ideas for Disguising Unattractive Fences



One of the most annoying things I find about gardening is that it can look shabby in no time at all. Take a look at some of these ideas for disguising fences in your garden and you'll improve your garden really simply -- especially great for those of us who like things in the garden to look pretty but lack much gardening know-how.

Where to Start?

Reed screening is a quick and effective option
The best landscaping methods for disguising fences largely depends on what kind of fence you are trying to disguise. Some ideas you might want to use, include:

  • Climbing plants
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Trellis
  • Reed screening
  • Painting a mural
  • Turn the area into a feeding area for wildlife - bird feeding station etc.
Obviously if you have a wire mesh fence that needs disguising, an open option like a trellis isn't going to help hugely, and painting a mural certainly wouldn't be viable.

If you are looking at disguising a wooden fence or cement block then most options are open to you, but extra consideration would need to be given to the type of plants you use, as they will have some of their sunlight blocked.


Clematis is a quick grower
Use Planting - The Best Climbing Plants & Ornamental Grasses

When disguising a fence, one of the easiest landscaping ideas to use, is using climbing plants. There are so many different kinds available, that you should be able to find a suitable option that is in keeping with the rest of your garden.


If you have a solid fence you will need to construct some kind of feature for them to climb on, such as trellis, a decorative obelisk, or just some bamboo canes. The disadvantage to this option is that you will need to wait for the plants to grow, before they totally disguise that unsightly fence. Some of the best climbing plants to use are:
  • Wisteria
  • Hydrangea
  • Clematis - a popular flowering vine plant.
  • Climbing rose
  • Jasmine
  • Ivy
  • Chilean Glory Flower Eccremocarpos scaber
  • Vines - Virginia Creeper, Boston Ivy
There are also shrubs you can use, that although aren't strictly climbing plants, can be trained to grow as such - Pyracantha varieties such as Firethorn are a good option to use.
There are also many ornamental grasses that you might want to consider, as these are extremely low maintenance, don't need any additional support, and survive year round.
  • Feather reedgrass - grows up to 6 feet, and grows in partial shade. A popular perennial grass.
  • Fountain grass - grows up to 5 feet and grows into a soft shape, offsetting the harsh fence behind.
  • Switchgrass - grows to 5 feet can handle shade, and is a happy home to wildlife.
  • Hardy Pampas grass - grows up to 12 feet tall - large white flumed flowers provide a good screen.

Trellis is easy to install and can
be used in a practical way too
Use Hardcore Elements - Screening & Trellis
It's surprising what a difference some trellis or reed screening can make to a garden. Not only is it a great idea for disguising a fence, it also adds texture and more visual appeal to your garden. In addition to this, the use of an item like a trellis also offers the option of using it for climbing plants, or hanging bird feeders from too.

The biggest advantage of this option is that the results are instant, and need not be complicated. For a trellis or screen with a difference, you could paint it in a suitable exterior paint, paint a mural onto it, or make your own garden sign, using the trellis to hang it from. The effects even when you keep the natural finish are still appealing, and in the case of using a reed screen, the color will alter with age, making it look more a part of your garden.


Murals are easier than you think
and are a low cost option
Alternative Ideas
If none of the more conventional landscaping ideas above, appeals to you for disguising an unsightly fence, then you may want to consider some alternative options.
  • Creating an outside mural on a fence isn't as difficult as you may think, though is strictly the domain of wood fences and cement blocks. Sketch out a natural picture of trees and birds, or something else in keeping with your surroundings, and paint with suitable exterior paints. For a more detailed guide, and some pictorial inspiration, see our article on garage door murals.
  • You could take advantage of the situation and create a wildlife environment, or bird garden in your backyard. You don't have to do anything fancy, even hanging halved coconuts, bird feeders and nesting boxes, and bunches of berries from a wire fence will transform it instantly. You can paint the nesting boxes, make an insect hotel, or even some small shelves for birds to rest and feed on, would make a difference.
Taking into account the fence type, and your environment, will mean that using one of our landscape ideas for disguising fence problems — like unsightly or unattractive fences — should be an easy operation.


Headline Image Credit - http://media.photobucket.com/image/decorating%20fence/rkperk/Daycare%20MAY%20and%20JUNE%202011/June8027.jpg?o=3
Climbing clematis - http://www.flickr.com/photos/freeformkatia/2437121808/sizes/z/in/photostream/
Trellis - http://www.flickr.com/photos/foxypar4/524466612/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

How to Decide Whether to Make, Mend or Replace the Cushions on Outdoor Furniture?


So spring is here Divas, and our minds turn to the outdoors. Here at Diva towers the whole family have been fighting off flu/infections/viruses and so now getting some wonderful spring air seems even more rewarding.

Of course now we notice just what tasks need to be completed in the garden, and apart from the odd tidy up and planting, you've no doubt noticed your outdoor bench cushions are looking past their best. Even if you've stored them properly through the winter, it could be time for a change.

Weatherworn and Tired
All cushions get a bit worn and saggy over time, especially those that are exposed to the outdoor elements. So what should you do when your outside cushions need replacing?

There are more options than you realize, although of course a straightforward replacement from the place you bought the furniture may be just the answer for you.

Things aren't always that easy though, as even in the world of patio and garden furniture, trends move on, and so do styles and fabrics of outdoor cushions. Let's take a look at your options.


Can you rescue your cushions?
Do the Cushions Really Need Replacing?
Bring your cushions inside and take a proper look at them. Do they need to be completely replaced?

If they are worn then you could always buy replacement covers, or make some yourself, using the existing foam as a guide from which to make your pattern.
If the foam is flat and offers very little cushioning, but the fabric is still OK, then maybe all you need is to add some new foam to plump them up again.
If your cushions are just worn or faded on the edges then you could always customize them with tassels, piping or appliqué shapes, to cover over these small imperfections as well as adding your own style.
If your cushions are just a bit grubby or have had the odd drink spilled on them, you might be able to bring them back up to standard with some professional or DIY upholstery cleaning.
If the fabric is worn or faded by the sun, and the foam is flat too, then it may be time to consider replacements.
If the foam appears fine but the fabric is mildewed then again it's probably time for a straight replacement; mildew is a sign of damp which may have caused more damage to the foam than you realize, and certainly won't make for a nice odor.
If your situation dictates that you definitely need replacement cushions, what's your next step?


Make sure you use the correct fabric
Any Cushion Will Do, Right?
Despite appearances, there is actually quite a bit of difference between the cushions you have on your indoor furniture and those that you have on your outdoor furniture. The fabric has been treated (probably in many different ways), and is likely to be more robust and thick too -- the wear it gets from the friction against metal or rattan furniture has to be taken into account.

Modern outdoor fabrics look just like indoor ones, so you can be forgiven for thinking that it's OK to use indoor cushions for your garden furniture. Actually they are now made in much the same way, and outdoor fabrics aren't as stiff and boardy as they used to be.

They are likely to be stain, moisture and fade resistant, and this is the really big difference between the two.

So if you can't utilize just any nice cushion set that you find, what's your best bet in buying replacement outdoor cushions?

Although it's unlikely, go back to the store where you bought the originals and see if they still stock your cushions. Even if they don't they are likely to stick to the same make, so they may have some useful contact details for you. They may even have an ordering service. Take a look around while you are in the store, and see what else they have. Stores tend to stick with the same manufacturers so even if they don't have an exact fabric match, maybe they do offer a cushion set that fits the same dimensions as your furniture.
Take a look for a tag or label -- it maybe inside if your cushions use zippers. Manufacturer details might give you an address or website that could be worth a look.
Take some measurements and have a look online for a made-to-measure upholstery
service. If your cushions are an odd shape, or you aren't that handy with a sewing machine, these services are tremendous value for the skill you are getting.


Making your own
covers is super-easy
Still No Luck? Make or Mend
Hitting a brick wall and still not getting what you're after?

If you just need replacement covers you can easily make your own outdoor cushions using your existing covers as patterns. Even corner unit cushions aren't difficult to make if you have a pattern to go by -- there aren't any complicated methods you need to learn. Just a straight running stitch with a 1/2 inch seam all around is all you need. Remember to leave one side open to put the foam in through, and then stitch up that edge - which will be visible.
Why not alter some commercially available outdoor cushions to fit the shape of your furniture, using the same approach as above. You don't even need to sew ; try some iron on-adhesive or even some stick on Velcro with a few nips and tucks to get the perfect shape.
Even though outdoor furniture fabric is different than indoor fabric, this doesn't mean that you can't weatherproof cushions yourself. If you find some perfect cushions at a garage sale, or outlet store, but they are definitely indoor cushions, do not fret. As long as the fabric is an upholstery-style that looks like it will stand up to wear, you can use waterproof silicon spray to protect them from the elements. This approach works best with a light colored fabric as the spray won't offer protection from fading by the sun.
While finding replacement cushions for outdoor furniture may not be as easy as popping into the store, I hope I've shown you many ways around the problem so you can find the one that suits you best.


Image credit: Headline image - http://www.flickr.com/photos/designservices/6736642233/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Friday, 9 March 2012

How to Make Big Poofy Wedding Bows: Easy Directions to Success




We've looked at lots of different ways to make bows so far, from pew bows, chair back bows to arch bows, but the big poofy wedding bow is the most versatile of all. Learn how to make this beauty and you'll save loads of money of your wedding budget.


Mix and match materials
and styles for a unique look
What's The Best Material To Use for Bows?
It largely depends on what areas you are decorating with your big poofy wedding bows as to the best material to use, but overall the best results will be gained from using quality stiff ribbon or fabric, or wired ribbon (ribbon that has thin wire running down each edge).

The idea behind using a stiffer fabric, or ribbon with wire edging, is that the bows will be more likely to stay put, and will definitely retain that "poofy" look that we are striving for. A more relaxed and soft bow will be created by using softer fabrics, and using this kind of ribbon is fine if you are making small poofy bows, or bows to decorate chair backs for weddings.

If you find the perfect fabric but it's not a ribbon, you can cut strips of it to your chosen width and length, making a small allowance for hemming or zig-zag stitching the edges, so they don't fray.

For a poofy bow suitable for a larger surface like an arch or tree, the ideal width of your ribbon or fabric strip should be at least 6 inches, and the length for each piece should be about 2 yards - this is obviously flexible depending on how full you want the bow to look. It is worth taking some time with the first bow before cutting up a large supply of ribbons of the same length, as you can then adjust the dimensions accordingly.


Take it one step at a time
 and you'll be fine
Tips on Tying Bows & Getting Them to Stay Put
The following steps will take you through creating a full bow that has 4 loops for a right-handed bow maker, but the instructions can be changed according to your needs:
  1. Start by securely holding your length of ribbon in your left hand hand, in the middle (fold in half to find the mid point accurately).
  2. With your right hand make a loop to one side of the center, and hold it in place at the center, with your left hand.
  3. With your right hand, make a loop on the other side of the bow and hold with your left - meaning both lengths that are hanging eitherside should be the same, and you now have 2 loops
  4. Make a small ring shape (as opposed to a large loop) with one side of the ribbon - make it big enough to thread your ribbon through later on.
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3.
  6. Take a second piece of ribbon, either the same length, or a half length. Holding all your loops together with the left hand, pass the second piece of ribbon through the ring shape you made (like threading a needle). When you have threaded half your ribbon through this small loop, take both ends and wrap them around the middle.
  7. Finish by tying a knot with this second piece at the back of the bow. The ends can hang down to join the other loop ends in making the tails of the bow.


Use spray starch for a bit of staying power
Quick Tips & Tricks for Making Poofy Bows

Here are a few tips you can use to make the process easier, or to make your bows more poofy:


  • If you find it difficult to hold so many loops in your hand while making the loops with the other, try using a bulldog clip or hat pin to hold the loops in place, as you use both hands to make the loops.
  • If you've found the perfect design fabric for your wedding but it isn't stiff enough to use for poofy bows, try using spray starch once you've completed your bows to stiffen up the fabric and keep it in place.
  • To make the loops look more full on big bows, try using strips of plastic made into rings or loops, and pushed underneath the top layer of the loopy end of the loops, pushing them out and making them look more full. Use a small blob of white glue underneath, or a dressmakers pin to secure. You can reuse plastic packaging, such as yoghurt pots, etc., to make your strips.
Whether you are decorating your home for a wedding, a church, or decorating outdoors, knowing how to make big poofy wedding bows will ensure you have a spectacular looking bow that will stay put throughout the day.

Image credits - http://www.flickr.com/photos/eolson/3967399237/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Thursday, 8 March 2012

How to Make Large Wedding Bows for Arches and Beyond



Although you might not think it, there are plenty of different ways to make a wedding bow. Some of these methods work better for decorating some wedding areas than others.

In our series on wedding bows so far, we have covered chair back bows, pew bows, and big poofy bows. Here we look at making large bows for every other wedding surface, as well as more specific advice on how to make tulle wedding arch bows.

You can always mix and match methods to suit you though - some instructions may get your fingers in a twist, while others will leave you feeling more superior than Martha Stewart.
 

How to Make Large Wedding Bows - a General Guide

Making large wedding bows begins with a long length of ribbon of fabric (3 yards or more), to create big loops to decorate any area of your wedding venue.

If you can get your hands on some wired ribbon, then the loops will stay in place better, but if you want a softer look, then using organza or tulle fabric for your bows is the way to go.

To create a large wedding bow like the loopy circular one pictured, you need to use the easy figure of eight looping technique. If you find this tricky, more tips can be found in our article on how to make big poofy wedding bows.

Hold your length of fabric in the middle, and make a loop on one side, then repeat on the other side.

Continue this process using one hand to make the loops, and the other to hold them securely in the middle, working your way around in a circular motion. When you are finished, hold the loose ends at the back of the ribbon, and wrap another length of fabric around this - this helps to both secure the ribbon, and to add an attractive sash effect to the bow.

 
Bows and greenery add instant romance

Making Tulle Wedding Arch Bows

There are two options when learning how to make tulle wedding arch bows. One is by following the looping figure of eight method above, and the other is to make a large and dramatic wedding arch bow that is a simple bow, but that will add flow, and soften the edges of the arch.

If you can find wide enough tulle ribbon that is wired, then your job will be so much easier, but as we are looking at decorating an arch, we really need to use ribbon or fabric that is quite wide, so this may not be possible. Often, the same tulle fabric used to decorate the wedding arch, will be used for the wedding bows.

It obviously depends on the look you are after, but the width of tulle you are looking at using should be a minimum of 6 inches wide and 2-3 yards long - tulle is a very sheer fabric, and when used on large items especially, it can be "lost" if not used in large quantities.

While the method in making a large tulle wedding arch bow is simple, it's often getting it to stay in place that is the real test. There are two unlikely tricks to help you get around this though. You will need clear elastic bands (or bands the same color as the fabric), and a can of spray starch.

Wrap the length of tulle around the wedding arch, and tie in a half knot. Make bunny ear loops using the ends, and leave some fabric hanging down from each side. Hold the loops together, and wrap the rubber band around the bottom - this will keep it more secure than tying the bows together which is an especially useful tip for outdoor weddings.

With the last step in how to make tulle wedding arch bows, you may want to add to the visual appeal by making the bow more rigid, rather than hanging loose. With a can of spray starch in one hand, fan out the bow with the other hand and spray into position - of course the exact position won't hold in this form, but it will help to firm the bow up into staying proud on the wedding arch.


With how to make large wedding bows covered, decorating a wedding venue will be a breeze. When making tulle wedding arch bows, why not try adding to them, by sliding in some flowers or strings of fake gems into the bow that coordinate with your wedding theme.

Image Credits:
Headline image - http://www.flickr.com/photos/globetro/3571440915/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

10 Beautiful Ideas for Wedding Hall Decorating


The prospect of decorating the wedding hall can seem daunting at first, but there are loads of inexpensive and effective ideas you can use...


Decorating the Walls with Photos

The walls are the largest expanse of space to be decorated in your wedding hall, but don't be overwhelmed.

Black & white photos don't
 interfere with your color theme

Using photos is not only a cheerful way to break up a large expanse of wall, it will become a talking point for your guests throughout the day.

Create a Wedding History Wall - Ask your friends and family to contribute a picture of them on their wedding day. If they are family members they might also like to offer a picture of their parents on their wedding day, so you have many generations of both sides of the family still present in some way on your special day. If you have the time, then you could arrange this on a large family tree format to decorate the walls.

The History of the Happy Couple - Have one wall be just about the newlyweds. Start at one side of the wall with you as baby, and the other side of the wall for your spouse, and advance towards the center of the wall with eventually the two of you meeting in the middle - a willing guest might even oblige by getting a snap processed quickly for you of that 'just married' picture, to complete the wall.

Create a Photo Tree - A photo tree doesn't even have to be a tree, it could just be pictures tacked to the wall, or pinned to some fabric. You may also consider using an artificial tree (you could even repurpose a Christmas tree). Get a willing volunteer to take Polaroids of your guests as they enter the venue, and hang them up on the tree. This also gives the guests a keepsake to take home.



Balloons can be really effective
if used in the right way
Decorating the Walls Quickly

There is no cheaper way to decorate a wedding hall than with balloons - be prepared and use a pump though! Get some fishing line and tie balloons along it, alternating each side. String in swag style, horizontally across the wall, or create an entire wall of balloons, as in this picture.


Create a soft feel, and use some inexpensive tulle to cover the walls in swags. Create a large wedding bow to affix at each interval and to cover up where you've stapled the fabric to the walls. Add further detail by using greenery such as long strings of ivy, faux greenery, or tissue paper flowers.


Decorating the Ceiling

A tented ceiling takes a bit of time
but the results are stunning

The ceiling of a wedding venue often gets neglected, but has the power to add a real wow factor to the hall.

One approach you might like to take is by creating a tented ceiling. You will need large amounts of fabric, but it can be inexpensive sheer fabric like tulle, or even use cheap calico. If you have the time then use a hot glue gun to randomly stick pieces of diamond vase filler to the fabric beforehand, to create a ceiling that shimmers. Simply use a staple gun to attach one length of fabric to the center of the room, and then pull it over to the edge of the wall, again using staples to fix it into place.

A small wedding hall would benefit from some hanging decorations. Get hold of some polystyrene balls and cover them with faux greenery, or tissue paper flowers - hang from the ceiling at different heights using fishing line. Depending on the theme of the wedding, a piñata over each table would make for a colorful decoration and keep the kids happy too.

Fairy lights - inexpensive but magical
 (you can even use Christmas lights
 from family and friends)
Fill in the Gap Decorations
With the main sections of the wedding hall decorated, you need to fill in the gaps and add those finishing touches to make the look complete.

One addition guaranteed to make any wedding venue feel more magical, is fairy lights (mini Christmas style lights). Predictable, sure, but an inexpensive way to add romance - like the wedding equivalent of dusting powdered sugar over a cake to make it look nicer, fairy lights are always a winner. String them from the walls, ceilings, or through your floral arrangements.

Hire some floral/vase stands and decorate with tulle, in the same way you would tie a chair back bow. Place large clear bowls on them filled with candy - large sweets like marshmallows and gumballs work particularly well.

Even if you have a large space to fill, using these wedding hall decor ideas will ensure you have a unique and stylish wedding venue, that will be one of the most inexpensive parts of your day.

Need Some New and Creative Ideas for Your Wedding's Table Decor?


There are a number of elements you need to consider in the design of your wedding table decor, but none of them need to cost a great deal -- just a bit of coordination is required.



Wedding Table Centerpieces

The focal point of any creatively decorated wedding table is always going to be the centerpiece. There is a tendency to go for the traditional flower arrangement, but as well as being hugely expensive, they can often be uninspirational. What's more, if you are decorating the wedding table yourself, you simply aren't going to have time to diligently arrange fresh flowers into numerous centerpieces. Try these ideas for unique and creative wedding centerpieces:


Submerged flowers - Use a range of different sized and shaped clear vases and glasses, and fill them with ice and water. Submerge the entire flower into each container, making sure the water is at (or very near) the top of the container, then arrange the containers in odd numbers in the center of the table. Scatter petals and leaves around to frame it. You can also use flower feeding gel, or glass pebbles in the containers instead of the ice.

Floating candles - Guaranteed to add romance to any creative wedding table decor, a floating candle arrangement is about as low maintenance as you can get, for such big visual results. Continue the theme with candles arranged round the table, and use battery operated ones that just like the real thing for these ones to save any accidents - leave the real thing for the centerpiece.

Edible decorations - Use candy such as gumballs, marshmallows, or different types of chocolates arranged in a glass vase. You can then use faux flowers inserted into these candies - the sweets will help the flowers stay up (until the guests decide to start eating your decorations). Or forego the flowers altogether, and opt for an entirely edible table decoration made of fruit.

Flower pots - Nurture your own houseplants to save on costs, and add a sense of seasonality to the wedding table. Flowers that work well are lilies, orchids, daffodils, hyacinths and amaryllis. Tie a large wedding ribbon around the pot, cover it in fabric, or paint it to coordinate with your wedding theme. You could also paint an elaborate number or name of the table onto it too.


Creative Place Settings for the Wedding TableWith ideas for creative table decor for weddings, it pays to think double duty. Not only is it less expensive, a decorated wedding table can get pretty crowded. When it comes to the place settings, a wedding favor or gift for the guest is never far away. So combine these two elements into one, and make your wedding favors name card holders too.

Mini flower pots with sugared almonds, or gold or silver dragees look great, are unique, and kids love them too. Insert a name card into the pot, then the guests can munch on the candy and take home the pot for their garden. Craft stores have plenty of options when it comes to pots, or try florists wholesalers.

Mini photo frames aren't expensive (especially when bought in bulk), so utilize them to display the name of the guest at their place setting. They then have a wonderful photoframe to take home as a gift.

A simple present, attractively wrapped and decorated could then feature a gift tag with the happy couple's names and date of the wedding on one side, and the name of the recipient on the other.


Further Ideas for the Creatively Decorated Wedding Table

With the centerpieces, place cards, and wedding favors taken care of, what about the rest of the table?


If the budget doesn't stretch to napkin rings then do not fear, a simple tied ribbon with a leaf or flower stem pushed underneath, is not only a cheaper option, it's also much more appealing to look at too.

Don't forget the chairs. Making bows to decorate chair backs is inexpensive and easy to do yourself.

Evergreen foliage such as Ivy works great either down each side of a long table, or around the outside of a round table - you could also have it going around the table, behind the place settings, but in front of the centerpiece. You can use a length of marabou feathers from a craft shop in the same way, or even a feather boa or two.

To complete your creative table decor for a wedding use rose petals, diamond glass filler, or battery powered fairy lights to fill in the gaps and glam up your wedding table.

If you need more tips and ideas for your wedding decorations, please see our article on wedding hall decor ideas.