Favorite Posts of 2012

Hi everyone - how were your holidays? The end of 2012 has been good to us - we've spent the last week eating way too many sweets, sleeping in late, doing dance battles with Just Dance 4 (in which I get my butt kicked by my oldest daughter no matter how many times we play), playing Five Crowns & Sorry, and getting some much needed R & R. Of course, we also had our Christmas gift exchange - this year we tried something different and limited the amount spent on each adult to under $5 per gift. It was fun to see what everyone came up with - some gifts were handmade like the shell box that my daughter made for my sister, some were practical like my new cheese grater, and the best ones were joke gifts linked back to funny past family events like the Burger King hat and rutabaga that my dad received or the plunger and toilet paper that were gifted to my brother-in-law (as you can imagine, there are some great stories behind these...). I hope that your holidays have been filled with the same laughter and time with family as ours.

As we get close to ringing in the new year, I thought it'd be fun to do an end of the year post with my most popular posts of 2012 (you can view each post by clicking on the highlighted links). By far and away the most popular post was on 20 Rule of Thumb Measurements for Decorating Your Home. If you've ever wondered how high you should hang a picture on the wall or what size light fixture is appropriate for your space or if you've needed help with hanging drapery panels, this post is for you. 
There's also a recent follow-up post with 10 More Rule of Thumb Measurements for Decorating Your Home that is helpful for selecting and hanging ceiling fans and choosing appropriately sized dining room chairs and tables.

Those of you who like to garden enjoyed the post on Galvanized Metal Tubs, Buckets, & Pails as Planters. Not only do galvanized containers have a great look, but they are rust resistant and very reasonably priced, making them a fantastic choice for planters.

Our fireplace/bookcase remodel was my biggest project of 2012 and a popular post. We started out with major ugly:

and after painting the bookcases, adding a new gas fireplace and installing stone veneer over the bricklining the backs of the bookcases with burlap

and recently restyling the shelves, it's made a world of difference in the appearance of our family room:

Another favorite project from 2012 was creating three Restoration Hardware-like rustic bulletin boards to go on an awkward wall in our kitchen.  Creating these bulletin boards has gone a long way in helping me to stay organized and keeping track of coupons and other little things that tend to get lost in the paperwork on my desk. For 2013, I'm thinking about changing up the fabric covering the bulletin boards to create more contrast with my kitchen wall color. 

Since we went out of town for Christmas this year, I didn't put up a ton of decorations but I do like to decorate our combination dining/living room since it houses our Christmas tree and is one of the two rooms that are most visible when you enter our home. In addition to decorating the table, I created star anise wreaths to tie to the back of each dining chair and LOVE how their fragrance has filled the downstairs of our home!

Another popular post was one with four great baby shower games & activities, including creating a pack of late night diapers for the new mom:

With Facebook changing the size for cover photos to a long, horizontal image, making a collage photo with several pictures is a great way to go. After creating one for Driven by Décor's FB page using Picmonkey, I posted a tutorial on how to create a photo collage for the cover photo of your own Facebook page. Picmonkey recently started charging a fee for certain photo editing services, but you can still create a Facebook collage for free on their site.

Finally, readers liked the idea of using nautical rope and vintage ladders in decorating. My posts on creative ways to use nautical rope in your home's décor,

nautical rope lighting fixtures,

and 25 unique ways to decorate using vintage ladders were among the most popular posts of the year.

Have a fun and safe New Year's everyone and I'll see you in 2013!

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HomeGoods Gift Card Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone for entering the HomeGoods gift card giveaway.  It was fun to read through all of the comments - the excitement that each of you have over your perfect HomeGoods find came shining through! I was surprised to read that there's also quite a few of you who haven't ever shopped at HomeGoods - you are missing out! Now on to the winner of the giveaway: congratulations to....Peggy Smith! 

To Peggy and all of my other readers, warmest wishes for a wonderful Christmas. I hope that the holiday finds you surrounded by friends and family! 

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10 More Rule of Thumb Measurements for Decorating Your Home

Two decorating projects that I've been working on this month are selecting a ceiling fan for our home office and helping my sister find dining room chairs that work well with her new dining table. Once again, I've gathered together some measurement guidelines to help in making my decorating decisions and then compiled them here for easy future reference. 

 (For my previous post on 20 rule of thumb measurements for hanging artwork, selecting and hanging window treatments, and choosing light fixtures and rugs, go to: 20 Rule of Thumb Measurements for Decorating Your Home). 

Ceiling Fans
It's important to choose a ceiling fan that is proportional to the size of your room.  To determine the fan size that's most appropriate for your space (fans are sized by the number of inches that their blades span), first determine the square feet of your room by multiplying the room's length by its width. Then use these suggested guidelines:
  • For rooms up to 75 sq ft, choose a 29" - 36" fan
  • For room 76 to 144 sq ft, choose a 36" - 42" fan
  • For rooms 145 to 225 sq ft, choose a 44"- 48" fan
  • For rooms 225 to 400 sq ft, choose a 48"- 54" fan
  • For rooms over 400 sq ft, choose a fan that is 54" or larger. 
  • For large great rooms, a fan as large as 72" may be appropriate.
  • If the room is over 400 sq ft, consider using two fans, particularly if the space is rectangular.  
  • Ceiling fans should be hung at a height so that the blades are at least 7 feet above the floor. For ceilings that are 8 feet or less in height, consider a hugger/low-profile fan to keep the fan blades from being too low.
If your ceiling is over 9 feet tall, your fan will require an extension downrod. Here are some guidelines for determining the approximate length of your downrod:
  • For 9 foot ceilings, use a 6" downrod if needed
  • For 10 foot ceilings, use a 12-18" downrod
  • For 11 foot or taller ceilings, subtract 9 feet from your ceiling height to get the length of your downrod.  For example, if you have a 12 foot ceiling, 12-9=3 so you would want a 3' downrod.
  • If you have extremely tall cathedral height ceilings, fans are often hung higher off the floor than for more standard height ceilings.  For this reason, for cathedral ceilings use the above calculation to determine the maximum length of your downrod - you may wish to go with a downrod that is a foot or more shorter than what you calculate.

  • If ceiling height allows, the fan blades should be at least 8-9" from the ceiling for optimal airflow.
  • Ceiling fans should have a minimum of 18" clearance between the wall and the tip of the fan blades.
If you're searching for a good-looking ceiling fan for your home, you may find this recent post on ten great ceiling fans to be helpful.

Dining Chairs & Tables
{At Home in Arkansas}
  • The distance between the top of the table and the chair seat should be about 12". Therefore, to determine the seat height that's best for your table, take the height of your table (in inches) and subtract 12 inches.  For example, most dining tables are 30" high so an appropriate seat height would be 30-12=18".
  • Allow at least 30-36" of space between the back of each dining chair and the wall or furniture behind it to allow room to pull chairs in and out easily. If the area behind the chairs is a traffic pathway, increase the amount of space.
  • As a general rule of thumb, the back of the chair should be taller than the top of the dining table. How much taller is a matter of personal preference.  When dining chairs are lower in height, it feels more modern whereas taller chairs tend to make a room feel more traditional and formal. If you're using different side and end chairs, your end chairs should be taller than your side chairs.
  • A seat depth of 16-18" is recommended for most adults. 
  • For rectangular dining tables, ideally allow a minimum of 24"-28" of table length per person and some additional inches at the corners (how much space is needed at the corners depends upon the table width - more additional space is needed for narrower tables than for wider tables). Always consider the location of the table's legs/base in determining how many people it will comfortably seat. Also consider the width of your dining chairs - if you have wider than average chairs, the amount of table length per person will need to be greater.

As mentioned in my previous post on decorating measurements, considering these measurements can help you make better decorating decisions and furniture purchases. However, if you've tried something with a room that doesn't fit with these measurement "rules" but looks and feels right to you, go for it! Some of the most unique, gorgeously designed rooms out there are ones that have broken a rule or two!
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Target Holiday Home Décor Clearance

I am officially done with my Christmas shopping. Yes, FINALLY done. I pushed through the torrential rain and 50mph winds to knock it out with a whirlwind shopping trip in which I hit Joann's, Charming Charlie, Dick's Sporting Goods, ULTA, Panera, Hobby Lobby, and Target. I've got lots of wrapping and card writing to do but thought I'd throw up a quick post to let you know that Target's Target + Neiman Marcus Collection is now 50% off! They have also already put all of their Christmas home décor on clearance at 30-50% off - now's the time to grab one of their cute advent calendars for next year!

They've also got some beautiful mercury glass pieces on clearance as well as frames and other small home décor items such as these cable knit vases and trees, felt acorn vase fillers, decorative boxes, and pillows:

I picked up two of these small silver-rimmed ceramic feather platters that were half off (the picture doesn't do it justice - it's very pretty!) - they'll make great hostess gifts for next year's Christmas parties.

They had lots of chargers, large platters, and colorful trays on clearance as well:

Target'sThreshold Silver Snowflake Collection was also on clearance - love this!

Target had also put several non-holiday items (mostly from their Threshold line) on clearance such as this glass lamp base that I love (but have no place for...), 

a leather ottoman that opens up to allow for storage,

a simple, but attractive side table,

and these cool hexagonal ottomans:

Not all Targets put their items on clearance at the same time, but it's worth a quick stop at your Target if you find yourself near it!  Off to do my wrapping...
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Unique Bedroom Nightstand Ideas

When choosing furniture for a bedroom, it's tempting to buy a matching furniture set where you get everything together - a headboard, nightstands, chest of drawers, and mirror. It's a quick and easy way to furnish an entire room and you can often get furniture sets for a super low price. But please...DON'T DO IT! Have you ever oohh'ed and aahh'ed over a beautiful room where every piece of furniture matched? I highly doubt it.  Most well-decorated rooms feel as though the pieces have been collected over time rather than purchased in a single visit to Furniture Fair. If you already have a matching set of bedroom furniture, no fear - most of us have committed this decorating sin at some point - but now's the time to start breaking up your matching set and bringing some personality to your space. A good start to having this "collected" feel would be to switch out one or both of your nightstands to something unique and "non-matchy". You could buy a typical nightstand in a different finish or material than the rest of your bedroom furniture (search Craigslist if you don't want to spend a lot of money!) or you could try out one of these unique ideas: 

*Use a vintage step ladder with wide rungs that you can stack a lamp, clock, and a few bedside books on:
{Martha Stewart}
Antique stores, flea markets, or your grandparents' basement are great places to look for a vintage step ladder but if none of those pan out for you, searching on ebay and Etsy will bring up lots of great options such as this pretty little lady: 
{Etsy: Timeless N Chic}
*Another idea is to make a nightstand out of stacked vintage suitcases:
{House Beautiful}
{A Beach Cottage}
You can look for vintage suitcases at the same places as you would for the ladder, but if all else fails, there are several stores that have reproductions such as Pottery Barn, which sells these pretty Woven Suitcases:

*Another option for creating a night stand is to place a large serving tray or suitcase on a luggage rack:
{The Old Painted Cottage}
There are lots of sources for great luggage racks - one that I've seen in person and love is Ballard Designs' Gaspar Luggage Rack

*A unique nightstand can also be created with a folding tray table:
{Lily Z. Design}
The tray table in the image above is a gorgeous option - it is Horchow's White Fretwork Tray Table:

*A vintage file cabinet with some character (not a brand new one from Office Max :-)) can make a very cool nightstand and provide ample storage space:

{Norske Interior}
*My favorite idea of the bunch is to use a desk instead of a nightstand and get two uses out of one piece of furniture:
{D Home}

{AHL Christmas Showhouse via Design Indulgence}
{Gary Riggs Home}
Small desks can be found at many stores and in catalogs, including Ballard Designs, which has several nicely sized desks such as this Moreland Desk:

*Yet another option is to use some type of rolling cart such as a bar cart (see this recent post on bar carts for some great options) or IKEA's RASKOG Kitchen Cart:
{The Freelancer's Fashion Blog}
*A very simple bedside solution is to stack a few nightstand essentials on a pretty chair next to your bed:
{Jute Home}
*Finally, a chest of drawers can be used as a nightstand, which is a particularly good idea when space is tight!
{Phoebe Howard}
{Velvet & Linen}
So, how many of you besides me are guilty of the matching bedroom set? The first set of furniture we bought after getting married was an ugly 6-piece bedroom set for $699. It did the job, getting us through our first several years of marriage when money was tight but our bedroom did look awful and I'm glad to have been able to replace the pieces over time as the budget has allowed. Hope you all have a great day - are you done with all of your holiday shopping or still running around like crazy (like me!) getting all of those last minute gifts?
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