Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Perfect Gift For Your Crafty Friends and Family

You know that friend that spends hours a day on Pinterest - pinning her favorite crafts and recipes and dreaming up how she will make all of them…one day. Well, I have the perfect, unique holiday gift for her. I'm calling it the Pinterest Lover's Gift Box!

With the few items in the box, your friend will have the starting tools to tackle most of the craft projects she's pinned, so she can stop pinning and start making in 2015!!


These represent some of Design Improvised's craft supply staples. They are the ones I turn to most often for my projects. Even if your friend has many of these already, she will be more than happy to replenish her supply!

You can put a gift box of all these items together for around $50-$60. I've given you links below so you can buy them all online from Amazon and Target without having to head to the store. However, you can also get each of these items at Hobby Lobby or Michaels, and be sure to use their coupons to get 40-50% off!

1. Gold scissors ($17) - In my mind, you're more likely to craft if you are using gold scissors. ;) I love my Nate Berkus gold scissors sold at Target for only $16.99. If you really want to pamper your friend, go for 23 kt gold plated Casco scissors shown.

2. Martha Stewart Metallic Paint ($2 each) - Pinterest is overflowing with metallic projects, so your crafty friend should always have some of these paints on hand. I always seem to be out of the metallic gold, but the silver and rose gold are also great staples. In general, I am a huge fan of the Martha Stewart craft paints - they work on any surface and come in a rainbow of colors.

3. Circle paper punch ($8-$15)- a circle punch is a versatile tool that I find myself reaching for on a regular basis. I think a 2" circle punch is the perfect size to have on hand, but I also love this 1" layering punch which can make a circle, scalloped circle, and scalloped outline all in one punch!

4. Baker's twine ($10) - from garlands to gift wrapping, a crafter should always have a spool of baker's twine within reach.

5. Foam brushes (50 cents each) - these are inexpensive and so handy. I use them for almost all my painting and Mod Podge projects. If I forget to wash them right away afterwards I can just toss them. At 50 cents a piece, it is a nice convenience.

6. Washi tape ($6-$10) - it's likely your crafty friend loves washi tape. She might even collect it. I have mine proudly displayed on my desk. With all the patterns and colors the options are endless.

7. Mod Podge ($8) - I like this Martha Stewart version, but the original Mod Podge also works great. I go through a lot of this stuff!

Do you have a friend or family member who would love this for Christmas? What other craft essentials would you add to this box?

This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

15 Simple Christmas Crafts to Try!


I love getting started on Christmas decorating and crafting over Thanksgiving weekend. One year, I enlisted my mom, mother-in-law, and sister in making handmade paper ornaments for my tree after our Thanksgiving dinner. It was so fun gathering around the table to craft together!

If you are feeling crafty this weekend too, here are some simple ideas for you to try:

1. Wine cork vases - a great way to use all those corks you've been saving! These would make for really nice gifts too!

2. Snow ornaments - you can whip up a bunch of these in minutes. The perfect project for kids to help with.

3. Candy cane garland - a nostalgic garland made from pipe cleaners. Another fun project for kids!

4. Poinsettia wreath - this is adds such a gorgeous burst of holiday color to your front door. All for the cost of 2 bunches of faux poinsettias from the craft store.

5. Snow wreath - a great way to bring a little winter wonderland to your home!

6. Yarn wrapped candles - give your LED candles a cozy, festive makeover with a little yarn

7. Merry Christmas banner - transform manilla tags from the office supply store into a modern garland

8. Bow wreath - one of the most popular DIYs on Design Improvised, this wreath is as simple as peel and stick!

9. Ornament bouquet - create beautiful centerpieces from leftover ornaments

Other ideas not shown…

10. Christmas tree garland - get out your Christmas cookie cutters to make simple, colorful garlands!

11. Handmade paper ornaments - these are the ones I roped my family into making with me!

12. Snow globes - another fun project to do as a group. 

13. Handmade gift tags - get out all your craft supplies and get creative!

14. Stovetop potpourri - not really a craft, but something you'll definitely want simmering on the stove while crafting!

15.  Handmade bath salts - the perfect holiday gift in wintery scents!

Happy Crafting! 

Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win a gorgeous pre-lit flocked wreath and two matching flocked garlands from hayneedle.com! Enter here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Our Holiday Living Room and GIVEAWAY with hayneedle.com!


Who else is excited to decorate their home for the holidays? Or maybe you've had decorations up for weeks already?! In our family, Thanksgiving weekend has always been the time when we turn on the Christmas music, make some hot cocoa, and pull out all the Christmas decorations from storage. My favorite time of the year!

This year I got a little head start on our holiday decorating thanks to a project with hayneedle.com. We partnered to transform our formal living room into a winter wonderland for the Hayneedle blog

We're giving TWO readers a chance to create their own winter wonderland with a pre-lit flocked wreath and two pre-lit flocked garlands ($300 value) - see end of post for details!


My vision for this room was to make it a family gathering space away from the TV. The circular room and high ceilings posed some interesting decorating challenges, but putting a game table and comfy chairs right in the middle of the room was just the cozy touch it needed.

I'm a Scrabble fanatic and Stella is just starting to learn checkers, so I'm hoping we can make the time to sit down for several games in front of the fire over the holidays. 


One one wall, I created a little entertainment space by combining a console table and floating shelves. The table provides a serving surface for drinks and snacks as well as game storage underneath.


I'm so excited about the addition of this Crosley record player. My mom had a set of Christmas records that we played every year. Henry Mancini, Andy Williams, and Johnny Mathis were favorites. Playing these records for my girls brings back so many memories of being a kid during this magical season!



The mantel is one of my favorite parts of the room. It is my first time using a flocked tree and matching flocked garland and wreath. The flocked look is absolutely gorgeous. The best part is that they are all pre-lit! If you don't have a pre-lit tree, I'm telling you, it is a life changer. Having the wreath and garland pre-lit as well makes decorating that much easier and adds such a beautiful glow to the mantel at night.



Be sure to head over to the Hayneedle blog to see more photos of our living room and my tips for decorating your mantel for the holidays. Check out my Styleboard to shop this look.

Do you love the flocked look? Want to win your own pre-lit wreath and two garlands to decorate your home? Then be sure to enter my giveaway below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is sponsored by hayneedle.com. All content and opinions are my own. Photos by Candice Stringham.






Friday, November 21, 2014

Gym Locker turned Wine Locker!

I love the trend of bringing vintage lockers into the home as storage pieces. They look so cool, but the question becomes, what do you put in them? 


WINE, OF COURSE!!

The locker sat around empty for 10 months, but we were finally motivated to finish it up in order to enter it into BLACK+DECKER's Your Big Finish contest. We're hoping to get this project featured on a billboard in Times Square!! You can enter a project too - see more details here.



When I found this locker at a local resale store I knew it would be the perfect addition to Ross's new man cave (have you seen it? Check it out here!). But the narrow compartments made it awkward from a storage perspective. But then it struck me that they were roughly the same width as a wine bottle. ;)


Ross took the measurements and did some research online and found that this single column wine cellar kit fit the space perfectly.



Ross added little battery operated puck lights to the top of the locker to provide some extra lighting and highlight the display bottle on the top of the rack.



Read on to see how we installed the wine racks!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thrifty DIY: Wine Cork Vases

Wine cork vases - the perfect use for all those corks you've been saving! These make great gifts || http://www.designimprovised.com

This month's Thrifty DIY is super thrifty - not only does it use florist vases found at my local Goodwill, but it also puts to use all those wine corks you've been saving! For about $2 (and a healthy consumption of wine) you can make these vases in time for the holidays.

Wine cork vases - the perfect use for all those corks you've been saving! These make great gifts || http://www.designimprovised.com

These vases can be made from any cube or rectangular shaped glass vessel. I made this tall one out of a bud vase and about 70 corks. I also made a smaller version from a square florist vase and 40 corks. 

Wine cork vases - the perfect use for all those corks you've been saving! These make great gifts || http://www.designimprovised.com

I'm always looking for a way to use my ever-growing wine cork collection, so I was excited that these were so easy to make! I think they would make for a really nice gift.

So start rounding up your corks, head to your local Goodwill for some glass vases for $1 a piece and let's get to work!



Supplies for Wine Cork Vases



  • Cube shaped glass florist vases (bud vases work great!)
  • Lots of wine corks (expect to need 40-70 per vase, depending on its size). Skip the plastic corks for this project - they don't look as nice as the real thing
  • Heavy duty craft glue like E6000
  • (Optional) Knife to cut corks

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

DIY Industrial Pipe and Wood Shelves - Tips and Tricks

Super helpful tips and tricks for building industrial pipe and wood shelves || http://www.designimprovised.com

We recently finished Ross's man cave - a project that had lingered for months, but thanks to some motivation from BLACK+DECKER's Your Big Finish initiative, it is finally complete!

These industrial pipe and wood shelves were the biggest undertaking in the room, but also the thing that made it AWESOME!

Super helpful tips and tricks for building industrial pipe and wood shelves || http://www.designimprovised.com

Several versions of these shelves have been done before by talented DIY bloggers, so rather than rehash the same tutorials, we wanted to direct you to the couple that we found most helpful and provide you with some additional tips and tricks along the way. If you're looking to make some shelves like these be sure to pin this post to refer back to during the process - you won't regret it!!

Ross found this industrial rustic shelf tutorial at Sylvie Liv to be the most comprehensive and helpful. He also liked this iron pipe shoe rack tutorial. Check out both of these for step-by-step photos and be sure to keep Ross's tips below in mind as you go along.

The Design

Ross sketched out a design for the shelves and made a number of careful measurements before he got started. Here's his tips:

1. Dedicate a good amount of time to the design phase before you get started - think about how you are trying to use the space and how you'll space out the shelving and supports (e.g., do you want a desk to be a certain height? Are you trying to fit certain storage pieces between the shelves?)
  • I needed space for a TV and a workstation, so that dictated some of the minimum dimensions of the width of the shelving unit. As for depth, I knew I wanted a substantial work surface on the bottom and shelves deep enough for books.  
  • The room has very high ceilings so I intentionally built the shelves higher than an average person can reach so that they didn't look dwarfed by the height of the ceiling. 
2. Measure all types of lumber to figure out what sizes will give you the best dimensions. Treat this like a custom project vs. taking someone else's dimensions and trying to fit it into your space. If you're going to invest the time in building something like this you want it to truly meet your needs.

Super helpful tips and tricks for building industrial pipe and wood shelves || http://www.designimprovised.com

Monday, November 17, 2014

Man Cave Reveal!

It may have been 10 months in the making, but thanks to the BLACK+DECKER Your Big Finish initiative, we got the extra push we needed to finally finish Ross's man cave!

Modern Industrial Man Cave || http://designmprovised.com #YourBigFinish

This was the biggest DIY project we've undertaken to date, and Ross gets all the credit for transforming a little 80 square foot room off of our laundry room into the modern industrial man cave that it is now.

Modern Industrial Man Cave || http://designmprovised.com #YourBigFinish

While my idea of a DIY is a 30 minute craft, Ross decided he wanted to BUILD A WALL OF SHELVES from raw wood and unfinished pipes! I questioned the idea from the start. ;) It definitely wasn't the type of project I would be good at helping with and Ross hadn't done much carpentry before. It seemed like so much work, and I just wanted the room done!

Well through endless hours of research, careful measuring, and working away in the backyard over the course of a number of weekends, Ross built this amazing shelving system and built-in desk to maximize the main wall in his man cave. It completely transformed the room and I am thoroughly impressed. It was so worth it!

Modern Industrial Man Cave || http://designmprovised.com #YourBigFinish

With the shelves in place, we slowly chipped away at the rest of the room, taking our time to find just the right pieces to fit the space. Ross wanted to incorporate some personal elements from his days on the Penn hockey team, and I thought his idea for a wall of team photos dating back to the 1800s was perfection.

Modern Industrial Man Cave || http://designmprovised.com #YourBigFinish

Modern Industrial Man Cave || http://designmprovised.com #YourBigFinish

My main contribution to the room was scoring this vintage locker at a local antique and salvage store. I was won over by the blue color and thought it would be a great storage piece for the room, even though I wasn't sure what Ross would actually put in it.

Modern Industrial Man Cave || http://designmprovised.com #YourBigFinish

Well once Ross had those shelves done, he was unstoppable… he transformed the locker into WINE STORAGE!! Needless to say, it is my favorite addition to the room.

Modern Industrial Man Cave || http://designmprovised.com #YourBigFinish

Check out this step-by-step tutorial for how we converted the locker to wine storage.

Modern Industrial Man Cave || http://designmprovised.com #YourBigFinish

Ross is smiling because it feels so good to be DONE! Do you also have a project that has been on the back burner for too long? Now is your chance to get it done before the end of the year.

BLACK+DECKER has launched the Your Big Finish movement to get all our unfinished home projects moving again. Whether you've been meaning to refinish a piece of furniture, reorganize your closet, or install crown molding, BLACK+DECKER wants to help you finish it for once and for all!

Modern Industrial Man Cave || http://designmprovised.com #YourBigFinish

Submit your project to the Your Big Finish initiative and have the chance to win a $10,000 grand prize, as well as weekly prizes worth ~$400 and a chance to have your project featured on a billboard in Times Square!

Get started on finishing that project and you'll be sitting back and pouring yourself a drink in no time. ;)

Modern Industrial Man Cave || http://designmprovised.com #YourBigFinish

Head to the Your Big Finish project gallery to check out the other entries and click here to enter your own project:


Read on for lots more photos of the man cave and details of the process!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thanksgiving Turkey Balloons

Turkey balloons - the perfect addition for a Thanksgiving kids table! || http://www.designimprovised.com

I've decided every holiday deserves its own DIY balloon - I couldn't let Thanksgiving go by without a turkey balloon in its honor! 

Turkey balloons - the perfect addition for a Thanksgiving kids table! || http://www.designimprovised.com

These balloons take advantage of the oblong shape of the balloon by turning it on its side. You don't have to only tie a string at the bottom of a balloon, you can add it to any part with the help of a little tape!

These silly balloons would make a fun addition to a kids table at Thanksgiving - check out how I incorporated these into a turkey inspired kids' table!

Turkey balloons - the perfect addition for a Thanksgiving kids table! || http://www.designimprovised.com

Supplies for Turkey Balloons


  • 12" helium-grade balloons (I used gold)
  • Assortment of feathers 
  • Baker's twine, string, or curling ribbon
  • Googly eyes 
  • Beak and waddle cut from construction paper or card stock
  • Glue gun
  • Scotch tape (not shown)


Turkey balloons - the perfect addition for a Thanksgiving kids table! || http://www.designimprovised.com
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