Create a faux wood pallet wall

Blue Cow Kitchen wall
While up in LA for a Design Bloggers’ Conference, I had dinner at Blue Cow Kitchen and was completely drawn to the rustic, modern décor—exposed light bulbs, paper mache taxidermy and a wood pallet wall, the piece de resistance.

Scott and I talked about recreating it on one of the walls in our bedroom. After doing extensive research on using pallets in interiors, I decided pallets weren’t the best option. Dismanteling them was going to be extremely time consuming, and I worried about what the pallets might have been used to transport, like chemicals.
EverTrue
While hunting down Plan B, I discovered this EverTrue Edge V-Groove unfinished pine paneling. It’s not available in store at Lowe’s, but you can order it online and pick it up in the store. I took measurements and ordered nine packages of six (design for less than $100!).

I wanted to mimic the different wood tones that I saw in Blue Cow Kitchen. We bought three quarts of stain—Jacobean, Classic Gray and Natural.
Scott cutting
Scott cut the planks at different lengths to give the wall more variations—from six-inch pieces to 48-inch lengths. He just did it at random, but it’s wise to keep several long (we left one package of stained planks uncut), so you can cut what you need as you go.
Stain colors
We concocted five different colors with our three cans of stain. We used each of them in a pure state and layered the Gray with the Jacobean and the Natural. Don’t wait until the stain dries to layer. Using a sponge brush, we swiped on one color, let it sit a few minutes and used a rag to take off the excess before brushing on the second color with a different brush and a new rag.
Stained boards
After letting the boards dry completely for 24 hours, Scott and I began hanging.
The hanging begins
Starting at the bottom left corner of the wall, we used a nail gun to fasten the first board to the wall. We worked left to right and bottom to top, completing each row with pieces of our uncut boards.
Nailing boards
Using the Japanese saw
When we got to the window, we used a small Japanese flush cut saw to cut the boards flush with the widow frame and stained the edge to match the board.
Our room

Fit pictures and prints in irregular Ikea frames

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Whether I am creating a gallery wall or just framing a few individual prints, my go-to frame is Ikea’s Ribba frame. It’s by far the best value for a nice-quality frame. The only problem is that the Swedish company’s sizing is different than what we use in the U.S.

A client of mine purchased a selection of 11” x 14”-inch surf-inspired prints at an art fair in Encinitas, California. The prints already came with an amazing grasscloth mat, so I headed to Ikea to buy my favorite frames. I had to get the 12.5” x 16.5”-inch frames—a bit too big for her artwork.

I took out the instructions, lightly traced my matted photo on them and painted a ½-inch blue (one of the colors we were using in the room and something that would pop against the black-and-white photos and neutral mat) line on the outside of my pencil mark.
Painting a mat
Once dry, I placed the matted photo inside my blue border and framed the picture.

Make easy, versatile curtains in less than an hour

DIY curtains
I have a few go-to places for fantastic, inexpensive curtains—Ikea makes great basics that you can embellish, Urban Outfitters offers whimsical prints, World Market sells a mix of solids and ethnic patterns and Target gets the timeless patterns right. But when I have already created what I want in my head, even these resources sometimes come up short. That’s when I make them.

Let me begin by saying I am not a sewer. Before the beginning of 2012, I didn’t even know how to operate a sewing machine. But I had to learn quickly (taught myself, thank you very much) when I was unable to find the perfect curtains for a client’s salon’s manicure room.
Thomas Paul Dahlia fabric
I owned six yards of this fabulous Thomas Paul Dahlia fabric that I bought on an incredible closeout ($3 a yard) when I still lived in New York. (Yep, I moved this across the country!) It was the perfect color and the right print for the salon’s organic modern feel.
Measuring the curtains
The fabric started at 54 inches wide, but the windows I was covering were small interior windows that would have been swallowed by 108 inches of fabric, so I cut the fabric in half lengthwise to make 27-inch panels. I planned to make each panel 88 inches, so I measured 90 inches, then lined the edge of the fabric up with my rug to ensure it was straight and cut four 90-inch panels of fabric.
No pinning
Instead of pinning, I used my boning tool, and worked in small sections to create a ¼-inch fold on all four sides of each panel, ironing each section as I went. Then I folded each section over again to make finished edges and ironed the seams on all four sides of the panel.
Sewing the curtains
I sewed each panel and used ring clips to hang them.

I did the same thing to create these curtains in the bachelor pad I decorated.
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Make new wood look old

I comb through goods in thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales looking for old, fabulous stuff. I’m always drawn to the rustic, pieces constructed from perfectly aged wood with hints of patina and rust. But age comes with a price, and my frugal self can’t always justify the cost.

So I decided to experiment with faking the aging process of wood so that eventually, I can replace the glass shelves in my brother’s Vittsjo bookcases with faux rustic wood ones. I want them to look more like this.
Aging new wood
I used a scrap piece of authentic old wood I snagged at the salvage yard to use as my model to recreate the perfectly weathered gray that still highlighted the board’s wood grain.
Salvage wood model
I didn’t want too much stain to permeate the wood. I figured that wouldn’t give me the weather-beaten look I longed for, so I started brushing water on to the clean board using a sponge brush.
Wetting the board
I wiped the water away, then used another sponge brush and long strokes to apply one light coat of Weathered Oak stain. I wiped the stain away with a clean, dry, cotton rag, then went to work on the wood grain. I made my own concoction for this part—a mixture of mostly water and a bit of black paint. Using a smaller sponge brush, I traced the wood grain in small sections.
Black paint wood grainFaux aged wood
Before any of it was able to dry, I sanded the entire board with a power sander and 180-grit paper.

A clean, modern living room

Friends of mine moved in to a new home in San Diego. The simple, two-story townhome features wood floors, white walls, and windows—lots of them. In fact, the view, a breathtaking look over San Diego, was the selling point on the house for them. So when they asked me to help them come up with some decorating ideas, we decided that we would keep furnishings in the living room simple, making the wall of windows the room’s stage stealer.

My friends have a very modern aesthetic, so I opted for a palette of white, silver and gray with pops of natural hues of ocean blue and fern green to use as accents. Other than that, texture offers depth in the room.
Gray sectional

They had already purchased this low-profile gray sectional sofa (not the ottoman) from HOLDIT so we needed a large but low coffee table. Here’s what I came up with:
Billy and Yesenia

Real modern can go real cold real fast. To create warmth in an open, mostly white space, I wanted to layer textures, starting from the ground up. I suggested laying down this natural sisal rug and placing this cozier shag rug on top. And placing this fabulous coffee table on top of that.

I mentioned creating a conversation area within the large room. Two mid-century modern wicker wood-frame chairs allow for more seating and add another texture in the room. These throw pillows make them more inviting. The hammered silver table, which I would set in between the chairs, is a practical addition so there’s no leaning way in to get drinks or nibblies off the coffee table.

This modern wingback chair and graphic pillow round out the boxy room and create a generous space to curl up with a book.

I added color with artwork, a vase and some artificial greens.

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