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Fun tutorials, how-to projects, free downloads from jones design company

How to create pom pom garlands (like the ones on our porch swing)

We’ve been spending a lot of time out on the front porch this summer which means I’ve been showing more photos of it. And in nearly every one of those photos is the porch swing with pom pom garland draped above.

I mean, how adorable are those girls?! But the questions and comments I most receive when showing the porch swing is “where is the pom pom garland from?“.

And so, here I am today to tell you.

The garland was originally made for a Christmas decoration, but I ended up liking them so much, they’ve become a year-round decoration. They are super easy to make, the supplies are minimal and you can just flip on your favorite show and keep your hands busy creating.

Here is how to make a simple diy pom pom garland.

To start, gather your supplies:

pom-pom-supplies

chunky yarn (about 3 rolls) / pom pom makers (2 sizes) / embroidery thread / upholstery needle / scissors

HOW TO MAKE THE POM POMS

wrap-yarn-for-pom Open up the pom pom maker and wrap the yarn round and round the first side. The more your wrap, the fuller your pom pom will be.

Once the first side is full, string your yarn across to the other side and wrap.

cut-pom-maker

Fold the sides in together and trim through the center ‘trough’ to cut the yarn. Make sure you keep the pom pom maker closed so you don’t loose all that yarn!

Next, cut a piece of yarn just a little bit longer than the circumference of the pom pom maker. This will be used to wrap around the center to hold the pom together.

tie-pom-and-pull-apart

Tie the piece of yarn around the center of the pom maker, extra tight.

Now pull apart the pom maker and your pom pom is free.

trim-pom

Trim long pieces of yarn and fluff.

Continue this process a bunch of times until you have a big, gorgeous, fluffy pile of pom poms.

HOW TO MAKE SMALL POM POM GARLAND

cut-string-for-garland

Cut a piece of yarn to desired finished length of the garland.

needle-and-thread-through-pom

Thread needle with embroidery thread in a color that matches your yarn. You don’t necessarily want to see the thread. Knot one end a few times to make a thick knot.

Place the poms where you want them on the garland, poke the needle through the center of the pom (so it catches the knotted piece that holds it all together) and stitch into place.

stitch-through-pom

You can stitch a few times back and forth to make sure the pom is secure

stitch-through-yarn-garland

In between poms, run the needle through the center of the yarn, then stitch on the next pom. This just allows you to use one continuous piece of embroidery thread instead of tying off knots, trimming and starting again with each pom.

small-pom-garland

Then hang anywhere and everywhere!

small-pom-garland-hanging

TO MAKE THE LARGE POM POM GARLAND

how-to-make-a-pom-pom-garland

Start by making large poms using this pom maker (3 3/8″). The big pom poms take much more yarn to make, so grab an extra roll of yarn just to be sure.

braid-yarn-1

Cut three long pieces of yarn in desired finished length and tie knot in top. Tape to tabletop to hold in place.

braid-yarn

Loosely braid the yarn and knot the end. This will give you a more substantial garland to stitch the poms onto.

stitch-large-pom

Thread your needle with the same embroidery thread, knotting a few times at the end to catch. Now run the needle through the center of the pom (trying to grab onto the center string that ties it all up).

stitch-large-pom-to-garland

Stitch onto braided yarn (a few stitches to hold securely).

needle-through-braid

You can knot, cut the thread and start again with the next pom, or in between poms, run the needle through the center of the braid, then stitch on the next pom in desired spacing.

large-pom-garland

Isn’t it fantastic?

I went on a spree a few Christmases ago making a bunch of these garlands after seeing them hanging in my friend Erica’s house when I took photos for a Coastal Christmas house tour:

I made a bunch of my own and they’ve made their rounds, first at our old house, and now at the new.

The garland looked sweet hanging from the shelves in my old office (see lots more of that room here).

small-pom-garland-on-shelf Remember our old cottage kitchen? It was so light and pretty. The big bummer about it was that we looked out our kitchen window directly at the side of our neighbor’s house and so I put up the pom pom garlands to distract my eye from looking much beyond.

At Christmas, I made a few and hung them in the windows with beaded garland and a boxwood wreath in the center. It was so pretty and gave the window Christmas spirit without being bold and colorful.

I liked the garlands on the window so much that after christmas, I pulled off the beaded garlands and the wreath and left up the poms.

And then in February, I moved them over to the diy chalkboard as birthday decoration for our son.

chalkboard-birthday-pom-pom-banner And now, here they are on the porch swing. I don’t actually remember why I put them up outside? I must have done it when we were moving and I came across the pom pom garlands and didn’t know where else to put them so I tied them up to the chain. I didn’t intend to leave them there, but they add such a whimsical touch, so I guess I’ll just leave them.

Making a pom pom garland is just about as simple of a craft project as they come. I love how they add subtle texture to any space and look great year round. Go ahead, my crafty friends, and make a few pom pom garlands for your home!

pom-pom-garland-by-jones-design-company

(Pin it and save for later!)

Enjoy!

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How to get the look of graphic cement tile (for much less)

As promised, I’ll show you the steps for creating the look of graphic cement tile, for much less.

Off the entry of our house is a quiet living room. One thing we loved so much about this new house was the potential for impactful updates that didn’t cost a fortune. This room is a great example. With the help of paint, we’ve created an updated space that works with our modern/traditional style and sets the tone for the rest of the house.

The biggest impact in the room is undoubtedly the graphic fireplace tile.

We have long-terms plans to change up the whole facade of the fireplace, which left me with an almost risk-free freedom to try something completely crazy to give the fireplace a much-needed facelift. If it was a total flop, no big deal. We’ll likely pull it all out eventually anyway. Sometimes I just need creative license to try something new and the fireplace was the perfect canvas.

Before we get into the how-tos, let’s look at the before and after:

Ah, I love a good transformation!

The tile is a little crazy, I’ll admit. And yet, it feels so fresh and happy, and that makes it worth it.

If you have a space in your home (a fireplace surround, backsplash, floor) that needs an inexpensive update, perhaps this how-to will give you just the inspiration you need.

Gorgeous graphic cement tile has been a trend in home design for the past few years and it just keeps growing. While I could have just purchased tiles to replace the granite tile on our fireplace, I wasn’t excited about spending a bunch of money on an update that might not stay longterm. So rather than buy, I turned to my DIY ways and decided to just paint the surround to look like cement tile. And I’d say it worked!

To get started, I had to select a pattern. A quick search on Pinterest offered so many gorgeous examples. I looked through photos and tile companies until I found a pattern that I met my two criteria: 1. I could live with the pattern and 2. The pattern could be easily replicated and handpainted.

After narrowing it down to a couple of finalists, I decided on this pattern from a company called Tabarka Studio. I loved the simplicity, the handpainted feel and it seemed like a very simple pattern to paint.

The trickiest part was figuring out the math to make the pattern perfect.

The tiles on our fireplace are 12″ x 6″ rectangles, but I figured I could fake them into 6″ x 6″ tiles. I used a piece of grid paper, a ruler and pencil to find the correct proportions and then painted a few samples to give it a try.

DOWNLOAD MY TEMPLATE BELOW

With my pattern selected, I started in on the fireplace makeover.

STEP ONE | Clean the tile to remove any dirt, soot, etc.

I just used dish soap, an old scrub brush, and a magic eraser.

STEP TWO | Paint tile with primer

For the base coat, I used basic Zinsser Primer, taping off the carpet and around the mantle first.

With just that first coat of primer on there, I knew this was going to be a good choice. I taped up my paper samples just to make sure I loved the pattern, the scale, and figure out placement.

STEP THREE | Paint the base coat

I could have used two or three coats of primer, but the white was a bit stark for our house. Instead, I pulled out extra flat ceiling paint (Shoji White, by Benjamin Moore) which has a much creamier, warmer undertone.

STEP FOUR | Draw the pattern

Using a ruler and pencil, I first marked the tiles into 6″ squares (just drew a line in the center of each 12″ tile). On every tile I made small marks in equal increments along all sides and connected the lines, alternating the diagonal direction.

(That sounds super confusing. Sorry. I explain the pattern making process in the template pdf. Download below.

Penciling in the pattern was the most labor-intensive step. It took a few hours (maybe 4 or 5? split between a few evenings) and I just popped in my headphones and listened to a book or podcast.

STEP FIVE | Paint the pattern

Using a 1/2″ flat artist’s brush, paint between the lines. This part doesn’t have to be perfect – in fact, one of the things I love the most about the inspiration tile is how imperfect and handpainted it looks.

For paint, I used black chalkboard paint. My main reason was that I was hoping to get that dusty, slightly aged look (see below for more on that) and didn’t want any sheen.

Painting was much faster than marking the pattern. The first coat took about 2 hours.

The tile would have been fine with one coat, but it was a little more transparent and the brush strokes were slightly more visible than I wanted, so I went back over with a second coat.

You can see the difference between one and two coats above, and the finished fireplace below.

FULL DISCLOSURE: 

Our chimney has a small water leak that has caused the paint to bubble. I started the project earlier this winter and only got so far as painting the base coat and marking the pattern. At that point, we were having carpet installed and everything from the upstairs was piled in the living room for several weeks. Once the carpet was done and furniture moved back up, I went back to work on the fireplace. We were experiencing the wettest winter ever and unfortunately, moisture had caused the paint to bubble.

My two options:

Sand down the paint and start over (knowing that until the chimney is completely fixed, water will likely leak and cause damage again).

Just keep going and embrace the bubbled paint.

Guess which option I chose :)

You can’t really see the texture unless you are up close and it honestly doesn’t bother me at all. It may cause the paint to wear more, so I’ll keep you posted if it all starts peeling off anytime soon.

Also, when I removed the tape, it pulled up a bit of the paint from the tile. I just went back over with my brush and touched up.

STEP SIX | Season the chalk paint

 

To get that more aged look, I rubbed chalk all over the black paint and lightly wiped it off.

You may remember I did the same thing with the painted lamps in my studio. This post explains the process a little more.


And it’s done!

The graphic pattern gives the otherwise traditional room a nice dose of energy and the classic black and white pattern still feels versatile.

Many have asked – on the living room reveal post and Instagram – if the paint holds up the heat of the fireplace. I would love to give a great answer … but the truth is, we haven’t had a fire in the fireplace since painting the tile. I think it will be just fine because the tile doesn’t get very hot, but I can’t guarantee it. Most interior latex paint is rated to withstand the heat of a fireplace surround (around 200*).

If you paint an area that gets much more wear and tear, be sure to use several coats of protective finish (like this) to seal. This post is a good one from another DIYer who shows how she painted her tile floors.

I put together a guide with my template and how-to instructions to make recreating this project a bit easier.

The download is free and can be found in THE ARCHIVE, my library of freebies. If you are already a JDC subscriber, just enter your email address; if you are new, pop in your email and you’ll be in!

If you do paint your tile, please let me know! I’d love to see how it turns out …

Any questions? Feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you asap.

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A tricky little trick to make instagram photos one million times better

I shared this photo a few days ago on instagram:

We just recently had the walls painted, new trim and carpet installed and things are looking so much fresher upstairs (more on that soon!). We still have trim to caulk and paint, pictures to hang and furniture to arrange but I couldn’t help but bring up a struggling fiddle leaf fig tree into our bedroom.

While walking through the room on Saturday morning, the tree looked so pretty with the light of the window and so I did what I do and stopped to snap a photo and posted it on instagram.

Instagram is a funny thing because while, yes, this is an actual photo I took, it is also teensy bit untrue.

We could talk about this all day long and go super deep into how social media can become just a snippet of the best of the best and leave out the not-so-pretty of everyday life and cause feelings of inadequacy and comparison and ugly things.

I’ll save that conversation for another day.

Today I’m more talking about enhancing reality. Kind of like how makeup enhances our features, I’ve found some tricks that enhance what comes out of my camera.

Let me show you what I mean.

Here’s the photo of the fiddle leaf fig tree straight from my phone:

I promise it looked much lighter and prettier in person, but this is the best my camera could do with the minimal natural light it had to work with.

NOTE: I turn off all artificial lights when taking photos – both with my real camera and iphone camera. It was what the pros did when they photographed our old house for the magazine, so I’ve just followed suit. I do find that photos are much less grainy and true-to-life color without artificial light. It just makes it super tough during our very dark and gray winters/early spring here in the Pacific Northwest to take natural light photographs.

This is where helpful tools come to the rescue.

To get my photo instagram-ready, I do a bit of editing.

After snapping the photo in the regular camera app, I first edit the photo using Afterlight, and then do any retouching using the TouchRetouch app. Both are paid apps (.99 and $1.99, respectively) and worth every dime.

Here’s my process:

Start by opening the photo in Afterlight.

To make edits, click on the second icon over and scroll through to find the appropriate tool.

All photos I post on instagram go through at least an adjustment to the brightness. It makes a huge difference.

For this particular photo, I brightened it twice and reduced the contrast just a bit, then saved. When saving for instagram, be sure your finished size is 800 px or higher for optimal resolution.

I usually stop at this point for most photos, but in this case, I wanted to remove those two uncovered outlets to clean things up a bit and let the tree be the focus.

NOTE: I struggle with this a little bit. I mean, isn’t it totally a misrepresentation to photoshop out outlets, crumbs, cords, spots, etc?! I waffle between LET’S BE COMPLETELY REAL! and ENHANCE IT ALL!

For this photo, though, I decided those outlets were just distracting and was happy to make them go away.

Here’s how that happens:

Rather than opening photoshop on my computer, uploading the photo, editing, saving, air dropping it back to my phone and then posting … I use the TouchRetouch app. It is certainly not as powerful as photoshop, but it does the trick for iphone photos.

Open up the brightened photo and click on the Quick Repair button. With the tap of your finger, you draw over the spot you want to remove and it magically disappears.

It’s seriously so fun. And so easy. The software just clones from a nearby area, so it may take a little bit of trying before it comes out right.

Once you’re done, click to save and you’re set. You can post directly to instagram from this app, or open instagram directly.

Again, here’s the side-by-side:

Kinda crazy, right?! Do you hate me for posting doctored photos?!

I discovered the retouch app while on our road trip and used it a couple of times to clean up some photos.

One was this photo of a random bus sign we parked nearby while getting gas:

The old sign, blue sky and fluffy clouds were just so eye-catching. What wasn’t great was the highway billboard and extra wire running along the bottom and so through the magic of three taps I pulled those out.

Another time the app came to the rescue was when a random kiddo at the pool found his way into our photo with our besties:

With some brightening and retouching, the colors are happier and the lurking boy is gone.

Here’s one more example:

After a full day of sweaty sight-seeing in Savannah, we ate at the most delicious restaurant and felt so grateful for these kids who were such great travel companions. I wanted to document their cuteness, and loved that great boxwood-covered wall and industrial light, but was not so happy with that white thermostat. By removing that and cloning the boxwood out further to the left, the photo becomes cleaner and highlights my little darlings.

I don’t use the retouch app often, but it sure is wonderful when I need it.

I do, however, brighten every single photo I take.

It’s a tricky little trick that makes my instagram photos one million times better.

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How to get the brass-look drawer hardware for (much) less

The drawers in the studio finally have hardware.

It took forever to put them on and here’s why: I’m terrible at it. Seriously, terrible. I put the cabinet/drawer hardware on in the kitchen and pretty much every one is crooked. How is that possible when you have a template and measure over and over again before drilling? I can not say. I’d like to blame the drill.

Regardless, I decided I was not willing to install the hardware on the drawers in the studio because they really needed to be straight and my track record wasn’t promising. With 12 million other projects in the house, the drawer pulls kept getting pushed off until my darling husband finally gave in to my constant request and worked his magic.

NOTE: installing hardware should not be this difficult. Simply find the center of the drawer, mark where the screws will go, drill a small pilot hole and then increase the drill bit to the correct size of the screw.

Now that the pulls are installed, let me start at the beginning and show you how they came to be.

My inspiration for the studio desks was this picture of the same dresser from ikea with brass bar pulls. I instantly fell in love with the look and wanted to recreate it in the studio.

After searching every resource possible online, I found that long brass pulls are crazy expensive. I adore these from Schoolhouse Electric, but there were two problems. 1. I was hoping for something longer than they offer (ideally 15-18″) and 2. $74 per pull was not in the budget. My sister has the same pulls in her gorgeous kitchen and while they are expensive, they are beautifully made, very heavy and true statement pieces. I just couldn’t justify it for this space.

Since I kept coming up short, I decided to improvise with a cabinet pull diy.

I found a 10-pack of 15″ bar pulls for $49.49. The size was good, shape was minimal, but color was wrong (they only came in satin nickel).

I figured it was worth a try to change the color with my go-to gold spray paint.

I rigged up a way to spray them to get even coverage by poking a hole through a cardboard lid and screwing in the pulls as you would on a drawer front. This little system worked great!

It only took a couple of light coats and the pulls were looking more in line with my vision.

The gold spray paint (Rustoleum Universal metallic in Pure Gold) has a pretty champagne-y gold finish and they would have been fine, but I was hoping for something just a bit more patina-ed and worn. Something that would more closely mimic the look of aged brass.

Out came the Gold Leaf Rub ‘n Buff.

This stuff is basically shoe polish for metal.

You take a glob and rub it onto the surface in a circular motion with a rag. It doesn’t take much until you have a richer golden/brassy color.

See the difference? On the left is the paint alone and the right has the polish on it.

How about a little side-by-side comparison:

For just $5 per pull + spray paint, polish and a little bit of time, I am really happy with the results.

If these were going to be used in a daily, high-use area – like a kitchen, for example – I might be a bit more cautious about choosing a spray painted pull. I can imagine that the paint will scratch over time and they may not look as good. For this space, though, they work great. And they look so nice on the dressers-turned-desks.

As you can see, there was one additional problem: the new pulls don’t line up with the pre-drilled holes.

So for the next diy, I patched the little holes for an (almost) seamless look.

We had a container of this patching paste in the garage, so I pulled it out and got to work.

I just dabbed a bit on my finger, sm0oshed it into the hole and wiped the excess away.

The holes were not quite covered after one coat, so I went over it again with a second and this time used a ruler to scrape it flat against the surface. A putty knife would probably be the tool of choice, but a ruler was right there and I didn’t feel like searching out the right tool, so I just went with it. #thestoryofmydiylife

Usually when you use this patching paste, you lightly sand off the excess and then paint to cover. In my case, I didn’t really want to sand the drawer fronts for fear that it would take off the pre-finished white paint. While my original plan was to paint the dressers a deep green, I’m really happy with the white for now and want to live with them this way for a while.

It dawned on me that since the paste washed off my fingers with soap and water, perhaps it would wipe off of the drawers as well (just the little bits of excess around the patched hole).

So with a bowl of warm, soapy water, a scrubby sponge (my fave from here) and a paper towel, I gave it a try.

A little bit of scrubbing and the patching paste came right up, just as I hoped.

If you look closely, you can still barely see the holes, but not enough to really notice.

Overall, I feel quite happy with the hardware choice and achieving the brass look for much, much less.

SOURCES

dressers | wood countertop | pulls | lamps | chairs | sheepskin | floating shelves | floors

wall + trim color: Shoji White by Sherwin Williams

For more about this space:

The Finished Studio

The Classic + Modern Design Plan for the Studio

A Hiccup in the Plan

Semi-Diy Table Lamps

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how to camouflage outlet covers with wallpaper

Up in the studio (and throughout the whole house, actually), the outlets, light switches and wall plates are almond colored. I’m assuming this almond color was the standard back in 1992 when the house was built. Not a huge deal except that they look pretty grimy next to all of the white walls.

So on our very lengthy list of house projects is the tedious task of switching out not just the plate covers, but changing the actual outlets and light switches to white throughout the house.

Up in the studio, the outlets/switches/plates are also the almond color and they really do stand out against the walls.

The light switch in the above photo is the goofiest of all because in order to trim the window, we had to notch it out to fit the plate. Since it is right at my eye-level while I’m working, it’s been one of those things that I felt motivated to find a solution to.

Replacing all of the outlets/switches/plates in the studio falls very, very low on the project-totem-pole so an in-between fix was in order.

My answer: decoupage.

I did this same project five years ago in our old house. The issue then was that I had just painted the walls a dark color and the white plates stood out too much. Covering the plates with a pretty scrapbook paper was the prefect solution.

In this case, my goal was to make the plates look meaningful (and hopefully camouflage the almond-toned outlets and switches in the meantime).

This project is truly simple, fairly fool-proof and requires only a few dollars worth of materials.

Here’s how to decoupage outlet and light switch covers:

SUPPLIES

wall plate | pretty paper | Mod Podge (in matte finish) | paintbrush | scissors

A few notes:

  • No need to buy new wall plates – just take them off your wall and reuse them.
  • I prefer matte Mod Podge for this project so that you don’t get a glossy finish.
  • As for paper, the possibilities are endless. In our last house I used thick scrapbook paper. For the studio, I’m using a sample of the most gorgeous wallpaperWhatever you choose, go for something on the thicker side to reduce the puckering that can happen with thin paper.
  • I am not decoupaging the front of the paper for these outlets, but I did in our old house. It just depends on how durable you’re wanting them to be.

Okay, let’s get to it.

STEP ONE

Cut out a piece of your selected paper approximately 1/2″ larger on all sides than your plate.

STEP TWO

Coat the front with Mod Podge, flip it over and press to the center of the paper.

STEP THREE

Cut a notch in each corner.

STEP FOUR

Brush on glue and fold around edges.

If your paper doesn’t hold down, use a small clip to keep it in place while it dries.

Once the Mod Podge is dry, remove the clips and continue on (this only takes a few minutes).

STEP FIVE

Poke a hole in the center of the opening, then make several cuts around the circle.

STEP SIX

Brush on decoupage medium to paper, fold and press firmly to hold. Again, these little clips come in handy to hold it all in place as it dries.

After a few minutes, grab your cover, screw it in place, step back and admire your work.

Now I no longer cringe at the dingy looking outlets! The paper adds a subtle visual interest that looks purposeful.

The outlets are still clearly off-white, but look less out of place with the addition of the wallpaper.

And now I don’t mind looking at that goofy light switch anymore because it is covered in my favorite paper.

#itsthelittlethings

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