Heavenly Grounds: A DIY/Real Estate Journey

August 2014, my husband rented a home off the coast of Northern California to celebrate our 15-year anniversary. It was probably one of the best weeks of my life. This property was among the most beautiful I had ever seen. The views were AMAZING, the sounds, the smells, the wildlife…  It literally took my breath away. The interior was beautifully decorated and furnished with every luxury to make us feel right at home. I doubt we touched a cell phone, watched TV, or tuned into anything that distracted our attention from the magic of our time together. Instead, we unplugged. We talked. We walked. We sat. We vision casted. We reminisced. (Of course we did some other stuff too, lol. But that’s for another time!!! 😊) The home gave us the means to focus our attention solely on each other. And the atmosphere set the tone for optimal enjoyment.

I took a million pictures, hoping to somehow capture, contain and even share some of the wonder of this place, but it just didn’t transfer. I wished EVERYONE I knew could just witness and experience it. I remember thinking to myself that one day I wanted to give this amazing gift to others. I wanted to somehow share the magic of my time here. I wanted people to experience a place where they could surrender all their daily worries and stresses. They could unwind and create memories with their loved ones that would add meaning and rest to their journey.

That house was over a million dollars!!! How in the heck could I own and furnish a home like that, let alone, GIVE or LOAN it to someone else??????  I mean think about it, the house was right off the ocean. The property alone was a TON of money. Now consider the decorations, furnishings, the landscaping, the upkeep… YIKES!!! After a week of sheer bliss, we returned to our normal lives at home. And as outlandish as it seemed, I kept that dream in my back pocket. Not to let it die, simply to rest for a while… And back we went to our regularly scheduled program…

If you know me, or follow my blogs, you know 5 years ago, we sold everything we owned, and built a home in the North Georgia mountains. It was a dream for us. We had vacationed there as a family for over 10 years. It was our happy place. But to actually live there was completely unplanned, yet completely miraculous.

We enjoyed every bit of watching that home being built by one of our favorite builders. It was hand crafted with so much care and detail. Upon completion, I couldn’t WAIT to furnish every square inch!!! I had a TON of ideas, but I was a stay at home mom, and we were limited to one salary. There was no way I could afford the purchases necessary to accent the gravity of this house. The walls were custom. The fireplace, showers, floors and cabinets were hand made. I could not obstruct its beauty with cheap décor. The only alternative was to birth these ideas I had in my brain with my own hands. And that is what we did.

It took almost 3 years to do it, but just about every room was embellished with colors, textures, wall hangings, and ideas that came straight from the heart. It was my goal that my family and our visitors would be submerged with a spirit of love, joy and peace each time they entered. We enjoyed countless good times, memories, laughs, and best of all, we were able to share them with our friends and family during our many gatherings.

(Swipe left to check out some of our projects here)

Our “forever” plans were recently interrupted by a job transfer for my husband and college endeavor for my son. We have successfully relocated to the Phoenix area. For several reasons, this was a bitter/sweet move. However, the sweet has been a full-circle kind of sweet.

For the past several months, we have been able to take that old dream out of our pocket and experience it in its full splendor. Our home has become the vacation rental property for families to enjoy. It has been an opportunity for us to share one of our favorite places on earth with others. Our walls are filled with meaningful accents that highlight our journey. There are pictures, window treatments, signs, walkways, landscaping all created with love, I’d dare say more meaningful than money could buy. It’s our best work. This house has become a gallery for some of our greatest DIY projects, and I am so blessed to be able to share them with others.

We simply named the home “Heavenly Grounds.” To us, that is exactly what it is. It sits on a mountaintop where views from miles away can be adored. It’s on a dead-end dirt road where deer, turtles, wild turkeys and even bears freely dwell. During the fall months, the leaves paint a new scene every day, while snow dustings cover the mountains during the winter. There are paths and trails once walked by my children and their beloved dog. My son got ready for prom there. My daughter enjoyed her cross-country party there. We hosted several gatherings there. We camped by the fireplace there. Read books, baked cookies, cooked smores, and counted stars there. And now others can do the same.

God has shown me time and time again that His ways are so much higher than mine. That He cares about the large and small desires of my heart. And that my wants are never too big for Him. I thought once I stepped away from my teaching career, I stepped away from a major opportunity to bless others and produce income using my greatest talent. I never considered all the other ways I could give of myself to still be a blessing. Though in a different location, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share the splendor I experienced in California those years ago. It is better than any picture I could have taken.

I pray that you too take moments to dream. That you hold fast to the desires of your heart. Know that you don’t have to grind or toil to enjoy the journey of those dreams coming true. Know that His grace is sufficient. Write that book. Start that business. Pitch that idea. Apply for that job. Write that song. Know that if you make a habit or hobby of using your gifts and talents to spread love and joy to others, He will support it. May your dreams be too big for you to accomplish on your own and may you see them all come to pass…

Pics: Courtesy of Southern Comfort Cabin Rentals/Rachel Callihan-Cowart

DIY #5: Create Your Own Picture Gallery: Our New Cure for Toilet Boredom. 😆😆😆

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Ok, before I begin, let me just say, I have no photography skills what so ever; and I don’t own some ridiculously priced professional camera. I am just a regular gal looking to furnish my new home as efficiently, and inexpensively as possible…All with a personal touch of course! So, if I can do this…SO CAN YOU!!! 🙂

My newest DIY project is a picture gallery wall. I’ve never seen this done before, but the idea stemmed from a contest my daughter and I had one weekend about a year ago.  My son was to return from a fieldtrip that evening. We weren’t too sure of his time of arrival, but we needed something fun to keep us occupied and we knew we needed to stay close to home. So, we decided to go get a cup of coffee, turn on some great music and have a “beautiful picture contest.” What is that you say? Well, we put my husband behind the wheel to do the driving, while Kennedy and I took out our phones and proceeded to take pictures of the scenes of beauty that fill our small-town community. Though we had never done this before, I found it easy discovering gorgeous elements large and small, significant and seemingly insignificant all around.  We had a BLAST!!!

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We took a TON of pics. According to my husband, Kennedy won the contest 😩😆; but it birthed yet another great idea. As we were looking for a large piece of art work to put on the empty space across from the toilet in our guest bathroom, it came to me that that very wall could pose as an AWESOME canvas for SEVERAL pieces of art: Our pictures!!!!! Thus the Gallery Wall was born!!!! I immediately dug into my archives from “the beautiful picture” contest and used those pictures, along with new additions I had taken, as well as a few I purposefully sought after. It was PERFECT!!!!

My first step was to collect 3 different frame sizes from Hobby Lobby. Of course, I went during the 50% off sale, so I got size 11″x14″, 8″x10″, and 5″x7″ frames, the largest costing $2.50 after the discount!!!! I decided that though the frames were beautiful as is, I wanted them to be a little darker in color, so I stained them.

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After staining the frames, I went to Walmart’s one hour photo lab to instantly print the pictures to fit the frames. This was a pretty neat experience because I could play with color, (black and white, sepia, bold etc…) zoom, and other editing features to ensure the look I sought. The prints ranged from $2.00 – $5.74 based on size. I took my time with this process, going back several times to preserve money as well as making the most of my experience.

Once all the pictures were printed, I decided I wanted to create a name and title sign for my photo gallery. After much consideration, Heavenly Grounds was PERFECT; thus HG Gallery for short.  We drilled four wooden boards together, added metal slats to the sides and a chain link for the top for esthetics more than anything. I even soaked the metal pieces in vinegar overnight to achieve more of a rusted look.

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Once my husband attached the sign to the wall, we continued to hang each picture frame. I considered forming a pattern for the pictures, but I went with a more random approach.

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At Home Depot, I found some metal plates ($.40 each) which seemed a perfect way to name-stamp each photograph. I’m not even sure what the metal plates are traditionally used for, but they were the perfect size and material to create an authentic “gallery” look.  I gave each photo a name, added the location and finally the photographer (which was either me or my daughter). I simply typed it up in a Word document, printed it on card paper, cut them out and attached them to the metal plates with hot glue.

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In total, I have 29 pictures. They sit right across from the toilet in our guest bathroom. I know it seems odd, but, so far, it has been the PERFECT cure for toilet boredom.😨😨Lolol! Though you may not need a magazine alternative for your bathroom, you can certainly use this idea in your hallway, stairway, bedroom, dining room or play room. Just another way to note super points while enjoying your journey…

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DIY: #3 CUSTOM BOOKSHELF/LIBRARY

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We had a chunk of wasted space on the side of our fireplace just BEGGING for purpose. That coupled with boxes of awesome books piled in our basement storage, led me and my husband to our latest creation: A homemade bookshelf/library of course!!!! Here’s how we did it:

We went to Home Depot and bought the wood. We wanted the shelves to be 12” wide and 2”thick, however, those boards were WAY too heavy. So we bought 2”x6” boards with the plan to attach them together. We had them cut to our desired length and got started by sanding down the rough edges.

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I combined two different colors of stain: dark walnut and kona, to get the look I was going for.

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Here is the space that was looking for love. Now that we have completed the bookshelf, I can’t believe I left it empty for so long!!! 🙂 However, it used to be the PERFECT spot for our Christmas tree!!!

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We used a simple metal attachment to join the wood together. Same look and affect as a 12″ board, though much lighter.

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Next, my husband and I had to decide the details that worked for us. How high up should we start the first shelf? How many shelves do we need?

 

How tall are most books? How far apart should we put each shelf? I love that there are no rules. Whatever works for you and your space is what you do. 🙂

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I ordered 10 corbels to fit my 12 inch shelves and my industrial/rustic style from TiredTruckDesigns on Etsy. I LOVE these corbels!!! They are beautiful, sturdy and work PERFECTLY for our design.  Thankfully, my husband is a master mathematician 🙂 so he measured 17” between each shelf and drilled them in accordingly.

 

We wanted to add a cool touch to the top shelf, so we went to Ace Hardware to come up with a creative way to attach it to the wall. After we chose our hardware, I spray painted it a flat black.

 

My husband carefully connected the hardware to the wall.

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I found some really cool ottomans from Overstock.com to fit under the shelf. They are SUPER comfy, chic and light enough to move freely. They were also very reasonably priced.

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And here it is. After great team work, a little time, and less than $200, we created a customized space in our home for all to share!!! HAPPY READING!!!! 🙂

DIY: #2 Chalkboard Panels: Operation Decorate the New House on a Budget in Full Affect!!!!

If you haven’t read my prior posts (boy, you are missing out!!! :-)), I will remind you that we recently downsized and built a new home and are tasked with decorating it on a very tight budget. Ok, so I admit that this was among the first projects I completed. I finished it in October, however, it is probably one of my favorite pieces and I must say we use it daily. It is a panel of chalkboards. They are HUGE and take up most of the wall in our dining room. I know there are a ton of chalkboard models out there, but this was an original piece to accommodate an interesting space, so my husband and I kinda winged most of the project in order to figure out our unique design and all for the less than $75.

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We went to Home Depot and purchased 4 chalkboard panels. They were $10 each. On the same trip, we measured the perimeter of the chalkboard and had them cut several pieces of thin wood to attach to each panel. We also cut a large piece of wood to act as the base for the piping. Later we came back with new measurements to purchase the piping and flanges to attach the panels to the board. Our dilemma was, how to hang the chalkboard panels to the piping. We scoured Ace Hardware and found some clamps with screws that allowed the panels to hang.

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Once I stained the wood for the perimeter and painted the wood to use as a base, I charged my husband with the difficult task of drilling it all to the wall. That may have been the most challenging part as once all panels, perimeters, clamps and screws were attached, they were hung by one piece of plumbing pipe…and they were extremely heavy!!! YIKES!!!  My husband used his bulging biceps to miraculously drill the loaded pipe into the wall… and VOILA!!!!! Our newest replacement to sticky notes and refrigerator magnets!!!

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I use the panels daily to write reminders, words of encouragement, scriptures, weekly menus…you name it!!! I think the kids feel really special when they wake up to a sweet note left especially for them. Not to mention a welcome note to guests when they visit. One of my FAVORITE projects to date!!!! 🙂

DIY: Operation Decorate/Accessorize New House on a Budget in Full Affect!!!

So…we have been here for little under a year; our cabin retreat in the mountains. We sold all of the furniture from our last home which means we are completely starting from scratch with furniture, accessories etc… I love the challenge of that because, not one piece of furniture from our last home would physically fit in here, but it also wouldn’t stylistically fit either. The style and size are TOTALLY different. I love that I am able to put my unique stamp on this new home and take it one room at a time. I do have a small “renovation budget” if you will, (and I do mean SMALL) so I have to make each dime of that stretch. I love that challenge as well because it forces me to get creative.  This home is a custom build. Most every square foot of it was made by one’s hands, so I must admit, I am merely accentuating the beauty that is already here. Not to mention, we are smack dab on the top of a mountain, which needs no accentuation what’s so ever…

My latest piece is a barn wood sign over my master bedroom window. I plan to create a sign with a personal phrase over each major window in all the rooms. Interestingly, they all face the mountain so therefore my goal is to put a cherry on top of each amazing ice cream sundae.

This is our master bedroom. After careful consideration, I chose the phrase right out of the bible: 1 Corinthians 13:13 … but the greatest of these is love. I toyed with other ideas, but love is a theme throughout our home and I thought what better place to reference love than directly from the scripture.

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I went to the local antique junk yard and bought an old 8ft piece of barn wood.

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I painted it white. However, I wanted the wood to show through, so I added water to the paint to thin it out a bit. wp-1460700113866.jpeg

I then ordered some rusted metal letters from Etsy (LOVE LOVE LOVE ETSY!!!). I considered the size and wording and ordered accordingly.

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Once the letters arrived, the greatest task was measuring. My husband and I measured the size of the letters against the length of the (uneven) board and glued them accordingly. I attempted to hot glue them, however that did not work, so we used industrial strength wood glue to attach the letters to the board.

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After the letters dried, we finally drilled the sign to the wall. In order to maintain the integrity of the old wood, we used the holes that were already in the wood and successfully drilled it in. And Voila!!!!… our finished product!!! 🙂

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