Friday, May 1

DIY Magnolia-Style Throw Pillow Tutorials

For the first 12 years of keeping my own home, I was constantly on the lookout for the perfect throw pillows. You know what they always say, right?

"Throw pillows are the best way to add personality and color to your living room!" 
"You can change your pillows to totally change the space!"

But I went through a dozen different living room pillows over the years, and every time I felt like I was buying "the closest thing I can find" and never quiiiite exactly what I was looking for. Because I thought I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. Like I was some pillow conundrum and the pillows I wanted just didn't exist. It was frustrating. Frustrating because all the pillows I tried never really felt right. And frustrating because I would spend money on new pillows only to find I didn't like them any better. But it turns out I just didn't know what I was looking for. These pillows were full of personality, but the personality I was trying to force into my living room wasn't my own.

See this couch? This finally feels like Georgia's couch


Turns out I needed to learn a few important things about myself so I could make better pillow choices:
  1. I. like. plain. I think the main reason I was never happy with all my patterned pillows is because it turns out I just don't really like patterns. Or colors. I like things plain and simple. It's embarrassing how long it took me to learn this about myself. But it's amazing how much more peace I can create for myself in my home now that I've tuned into it.
  2. Texture is so much more important than colors and patterns to me. It adds all the interest I crave in the simple, muted tones I love.  
  3. Pillow covers are way cheaper than investing in new pillows every time I change my mind (and they're super easy to make with any fabric I like). I invested in several FJADRAR down pillow inserts from Ikea (only $6 each!) and I've never looked back! It's super easy to switch in Christmas pillow covers without using any storage space for whole pillows.
Now that I know what I like and why I like it, I understand better why I'm so drawn to the Magnolia Market pillows. They use neutral colors with a truckload of texture to keep things interesting. But those prices... oh man... I just can't. We have four boys to feed here, folks. Which is what led me on my original hunt for similar pillows at affordable prices.

You can check oy my original list of affordable Magnolia-style throw pillows here.

You can find all the pillows on my couch on that list (spoiler: that super-textured one on the right was under $8 for the cover!). At the end of that list, I kind of brushed over a few options to make your own DIY pillow cases that have a Magnolia-eque vibe, but now seems like the perfect time to revisit that and share a few of my favorite DIY pillow cover tutorials! I mean, most of us are cooped up right now anyway and making things is a great way to beat the Quarantine Blues.

Before we start, most of these tutorials call for a basic, blank pillow cover that you'll basically be decorating in various ways. I love Ikea's VIGDIS pillow covers (that's what's on my couch and they're only $8 each!) but if you don't have an Ikea nearby, these pillow covers on Amazon look pretty similar for $10 each (but be warned - I haven't purchased these and can't vouch for their quality). You can also make your own pillow covers really easily with my pillow cover tutorial.
Have fun!


  1. This tutorial from Lily Ardor shows you how to make a faux mudcloth cover with a fabric marker!
  2. This pillow inspired by the Hearth and Hand collection is my hands-down favorite in the lineup! A few simple stitches totally elevates a pillow cover to a new level. You can find the tutorial at Jones Design Company.
  3. These DIY tassel pillows by Rachel Schultz are adorable. You can play up the colors for a kids room, or keep it more neutral for a living room. Or not. If you love color, go for it! And if you love the tassels, you might also want to check out these yarn pom pom pillow covers.
  4. This pompom pillow by Almost Makes Awesome is a beautiful, understated way to add texture to a plain pillow cover. But be warned - those pompoms are glued on so it probably can't be washed. 
  5. Any crochet lovers in the crowd? This faux-mudcloth pillow cover is actually crocheted! I don't know if I have the patience for it, but I love it! You can find the tutorial at Make and Do Crew.
  6. This pillow cover is actually made out of one of the cheap woven throw rugs from Five Below! It gives this pillow a wonderful texture (my fave!) and you don't need to buy a base pillow case for this one! The tutorial is at Little House of Four, and she also has a tutorial for some cute tea towel pillow covers
  7. You can paint a pillow cover with fabric paint!
  8. You guys know I love macrame, right? And it's totally making a comeback! This macrame pillow cover by Emily Faith is a great way to add a little macrame texture to your space. There are dozens of tutorials for other styles on youtube!
I'll leave you with these two things. First, a boy pretending to be a book:


And second, a reminder from good old C. S. Lewis about finding peace in difficult times:


What's your throw pillow style? Do you like things plain and neutral like me, or do you go for something a little more exciting? And here's the big one - how long did it take you to find your style? 30 years? Anyone? Just me?

Friday, April 24

Easy DIY Planter

I have a super easy project for you today that will have your porch looking great this summer. We're going to make these sweet little planter boxes!

Check out the rest of my free building plans here.


And the bonus for me was that I made them entirely from my scrap pile! But if you don't have a stash of scraps yet, don't worry. Each planter uses just two short boards so it's still a budget-friendly project.


These planters come together super quick and it's a very simple project that's great for beginners. It just might be the easiest project on the entire blog!


Friday, April 17

Matching Child-size Ties + Bowties

When it comes to getting a house-full of little boys dressed up, I tend to fall back on my old favorite combo - a simple button up shirt with khaki shorts. It's easy, cute, perfect for summer, and it looks nice without being overly formal (we're not an overly formal bunch). Plus it's cheap - we already have those things in the closet (Dave Ramsey approved!).


But last summer I was putting together outfits for my sister's wedding and I wanted to add a special touch. Something to dress it up just a bit more than usual and add a little matching to the day (I love when they match). 

For little boys, that naturally led to matching ties and bow ties! I found a few ties on Amazon, but the ones I liked were almost $25 each. And the few I didn't totally hate (that would arrive in time) were still $10-15 each... and I would need four. Not how I want to spend my $$ today, thankyouverymuch. It just felt like a lot of money for a little accessory.


Then my sister was like "Duh. Make your own." And she sent me these two links:
And she was totally right. With DIY, I could make ties for all four boys for less than buying one pre-made tie. And I had a whole Hobby Lobby of prints and colors to choose from.


I decided on regular ties for the three bigger boys and a bow tie for little guy (so he wouldn't get tangled up while crawling around). For my 8-year-old, I added a few inches to the tie pattern to make it a little longer. My five- and three-year-olds are wearing it true to the pattern. Hopefully that gives you an idea for any adjustments you need to make for your own sizing! I also copied the velcro strap from the bow tie pattern and used it for the regular ties, too, instead of using the elastic it shows in that pattern.

Yes. I'm the mom that let them wear flip flops and didn't iron their shirts, but I did tuck them in... and you can see how long that lasted. I'm choosing different battles, folks.

My sister's wedding themes were navy + wildflowers and the boys were all going to wear blue shirts (all different shades, just working with what we have) and khaki shorts. So I picked a yellow floral  fabric with a vintage vibe that would work perfectly with all their outfits and fit the wedding theme! It was so perfect, I could hardly believe it.

The fabric was from Hobby Lobby and cost $7/yard regular price, but their fabric is always on sale so it ended up being only $5/yard. One yard was enough to make the set of four. I also bought one pack of  5/8" velcro for $2 and had plenty to split that between all four ties, bringing the grand total to just $7 for all four!


I couldn't believe how cute they turned out! I kept looking at them like "Did I really just make these??" So cute and so professional looking. And under two hours to make the whole set.


Just wanted to share since it's a great little project to tackle while you're cooped up at home (and perfect if you have scrap fabric to use up!). Seriously, I can't recommend these patterns (or little boys with matching ties) enough. What have you been making lately?

Thursday, April 2

How to Turn Stock Cabinets into DIY Built-In's

Our first project of 2020 is (finally) finished! We tackled a totally neglected corner of our home (a little nook off our kitchen) and added a ton of functional storage with DIY built-ins. It's a pretty simple DIY that started with a couple stock cabinets from Lowe's, so today I want to share the process we followed so you can recreate it in any space and in any size!


This project started much like every other project we've ever done: with me saying "It will be easy! We'll be done in like two weeks!" And just like every other project... I underestimated. Like, a lot. It took us nearly two to complete these built-ins. Not because this process is difficult - it's actually pretty simple - but because we were exceptionally slow at setting aside time to work on it, and because the walls in this old farmhouse are crazy crooked. I mean, DIY always takes longer than I hope (you'd think I would learn - but no) but this project was even worse because we spent so much extra time cutting and recutting each board to fit tightly against walls that just aren't straight. But as usual, that slow and steady work has finally paid off in a big way.

It's hard to believe this is the same corner:

Saturday, March 14

DIY Macrame Hanging Planter (30 minute project!)

We've been talking about plants quite a bit lately, so today I'm going to share one of my favorite ways to display my little plant babies - in a sweet macrame plant hanger! And I'll even teach you how to make your own in 30 minutes for just a few dollars.

Check out my favorite (easy) houseplants here.
And how I propagate those plants to get more plants for free here.


Check out more DIY decor ideas here!

Macrame is making a comeback, and it just shines in hanging planters. And it turns out macrame is a super-fun craft! There's something peaceful and therapeutic about the steady repetition of tying knots. And that's basically all macrame is. If you can measure and tie knots, you can make this planter! It's an easy hobby to pick up and creates a beautiful end results (you might just end up making them for all your friends this Christmas!).


Today we'll be making a basic macrame plant hanger, and I'll give you a couple easy options to customize the style. You can stick with spiral knots like the one above, or use square knots like the planter below. I even added wood beads to this one and I love how it turned out!


Thursday, March 5

How to Propagate Houseplants (more plants for free!)

You guys know I love low-budget home decor, and what's more low-budget than free? So today we're talking free houseplants! I'm going to show you how I propogate a few of my favorite houseplants to start brand new baby plants without paying a dime!

Did you catch my post last week about my top 6 favorite houseplants? It's a great place to start if you're looking for plants that are low maintenance and hard to kill. And this is a perfect follow up because guess what? All of my favorite plants can be propogated!

The best time to propogate is in the spring when plants are ready naturally ready to grow quickly... so get those pots ready, folks! It's almost time!


All these plants can be propogated with one of two methods: dividing or rooting. Both happen to be super simple, they just take a little time (you're growing new plants, after all!). If you're looking to get a big plant quickly then propogating probably isn't the best option for you, but if you're looking to slowly grow your collection (or sprout a few plants for friends) using what you already have? Then read on, friends! Here are the plants we'll be looking at today (although you can use these methods for many houseplants):
  1. Succulents
  2. Snake Plants
  3. Aloe
  4. Pothos
  5. Spider Plants

Friday, February 28

My 6 Favorite (Easy!) Houseplants

I loooove a good houseplant. I can hardly walk past the plants at Lowe's without bringing one home.
But, believe it or not, I didn't always feel this way! In fact, a few years ago I killed every plant I touched. You know how greenery is supposed to liven up your home? Well my home was a graveyard for shriveled plant dreams. But somehow, one by one, I've found a few hearty houseplants that even I can't kill. And now I have plants in nearly every corner of my home!

Check out how I propagate those plants to get more plants for free here. 
And how to make a DIY macrame plant hanger here.


So today I want to share my top 6 favorite houseplants that are super easy to care for - and a great place to start if you struggle to find your "green thumb" like I did. I'll also share a few of my favorite tips on caring for and displaying your plants - and hopefully hear some of your favorites, too!

I mixed fake plants in with my house plants on the mantle before I decided to simplify the space. No shame in the fake plant game!

There are a few important things to consider when you're choosing houseplants, but probably the most important detail is how much light the plant needs. You need plants that will do well in your home environment and many rooms don't get a ton of natural light, so you need to choose low-light plants that can thrive there! A full-sun plant in a dim corner just doesn't stand a chance. Luckily, I've got you covered with plants for just about anywhere. 

Tuesday, February 18

Easy $10 Fireplace Door Upgrade

One of the first things I loved about this house was the fireplace.  And now that we've given it a few updates? I love it even more. It's come a long way since move-in day, and we've done it all on a super small budget. I know I sound like a broken record, but you CAN create a home you love without spending a fortune. If you take one thing away today, let it be that.

If you take away a second thing, it can be this handy hack.

So let's check out the fireplace, because it's looking better than ever with it's snazzy new fireplace door! Except it's not actually a new fireplace door. It's the same old door with a fresh new look that cost under $10!


But before we jump into this latest update, let's throwback a few years. At this point we had painted the walls a light gray, but that was our only change so far:


Guys, small changes really do add up. It feels so much more cohesive and fitting to this old farmhouse now than it ever did back then. Partly because of the updates and partly due to my minimizing and learning to style the Cozy Minimalist way (so. much. stuff. on that old mantle). Here's a quick rundown of what we've done so far:

Thursday, February 6

The MLH Creed

My towels don't match.

I mean, I did find four green ones for our open shelving, which gives the impression that I have things more "together" than I do. But I just feel like you need to know that. I don't want you guys to get the wrong idea. It's easy online and in pictures for things to look just right. Crop out the clutter. Angle high so we don't see the floor. Everything in place, everything matching, everything perfect. But that's not life. At least not in the MLH house.

My four almost matching towels.

Don't get me wrong, I love beautiful spaces. I love when my house looks cute and at least somewhat put together. I get bored and want to mix things up. I like to decorate and paint. I like everything to have it's own place and fit perfectly and be always tidy. I like order and neatness. So that's the stuff I blog about. But whatever you read from me, I hope you take what I say with this grain of salt:

It's okay if it's not. And it's okay if you don't.

It's okay if you don't do everything, if it's all not perfect, if your towels don't match. It's okay if you don't have a new couch, if you never replace that tile you don't care for. It's okay to be okay with the way things are. Even if it's a little less than perfect.

Life is so much more than pictures of pretty houses. 

Sunday, January 26

Planning DIY Built-Ins

Our first project of 2020 is all about bringing more storage and better organization to one of the most under-used spaces in our home. Because the best way to turn your house into your home is to make it work for your family - and this room definitely isn't doing that. Yet.

We have this little nook of our kitchen - it's probably supposed to be a breakfast room or something fancy like that. But, alas, we are not fancy folks. And I have no interest in a breakfast nook, because we eat breakfast at our big farmhouse table. So I toyed with a few other ideas for the space: a playroom (but we don't have that many toys and don't need another room for them), a homeschool room (I actually set it up for this for awhile, but we always end up in our cozy library/office for homework), and a craft room for the kids. So far, the craft room is the thing that seemed to stick. I'm a crafty mom and I have so far produced three crafty kids (and I expect the fourth will follow his brothers), so we have no shortage of art supplies and half-completed projects. But we do have a shortage of storage space and organizational genius to corral those things. Hence our first project of the year:

We're building DIY built-ins!

Storage that's not working for us.

Thursday, January 9

DIY Easy Headboard Shelf

Remember the $50 low-budget bedroom refresh we did in the fall? I know, it's been awhile. But today we're throwing back to that fun project and showing you how to build that sweet (and super affordable) shelf we installed above the headboard! It's so easy to build and totally makes the space. Plus it's easy to customize to any length you need!

 

Want more refresh ideas on a super tight budget? Check out these room reveal posts:

For this refresh, we also DIY'ed the easiest upholstered headboard EVER. You can see how we made it here. Other than that we just tweaked a few details and accessories to totally transform the space! You can check out all the details - the budget, what we bought, what we moved around, etc - in this post.


To make your own shelf, this is all you need:
  • 1x8 board for the shelf - the length you want your shelf to be
  • 1x6 board for the back - the length you want your shelf to be
  • 1x4 board for the brackets - scraps or a 4' board would be plenty (you need more brackets for a longer shelf, less for a shorter shelf)
  • 1 1/4" wood screws
  • optional: Kreg Jig + 1 1/4" pocket hole screws (definitely don't need it but I used it so I didn't have any holes to fill) 
  • optional: finishing nails (I just really don't like to fill holes, guys)
  • wood glue
  • wood filler, if needed
  • sandpaper and whatever paint/stain/sealer you want
  • screws for attaching the shelf to the wall (we used 3" screws and drilled directly into studs)
Start by cutting the shelf and back the length you want your shelf to be. I was planning to do my shelf the full width of our King bed (76") but my longest 1x8 board was like 72" and... the budget. I didn't want to spend the money on a new board for an extra 4" so I went with what I had. It's close enough. Just make sure your 1x8 shelf and your 1x6 back board are the same length.

Attach the back board to the shelf board - the shelf should rest on top of the back board, not butt up against the side of the back board. Attach it with wood glue and by drilling down through the top board into the edge of the back board with 1 1/4" wood screws. Or use pocket holes along the back of the back board to attach it - then the holes will be hidden against the wall!

So in this pic, since the whole shelf is upside down right now, the shelf board is laying down and back board resting on top of it and attached with Kreg Jig pocket holes:

You can see the pocket hole along the bottom edge. Those two screws on the left were used to attach the bracket - we'll get to that later.

Don't forget the glue.  And don't forget to put the glue up when you're done or a little helper might make himself helpful.

 
 Look at that precision. Totally don't need any glue there, though.

Next you need to make the brackets. Start by cutting pieces of 1x4 that are 6" long. I cut four for this shelf, but you can do more or less as needed for the size of your shelf and to fit the look you want (but remember more is always better if your shelf will be carrying a load!).

Then you need to cut each of those 6" pieces into the bracket shape. I set my miter saw to a 30 degree angle and cut a practice bracket to make sure I liked the proportions. I'm pointing at a pencil mark. That will be important in a minute.


The piece on the left is the bracket. I cut it so that there was a straight edge left at both the front and back (it doesn't go all the way to a sharp corner like the scrap piece on the right). Once I was satisfied with the bracket shape, I lined it up against the saw blade and used a pencil to mark a line at the edge of the board. That line I was pointing at two pictures back. Then I just had to line up each of the other 6" boards with that mark and knew I was getting perfectly matched brackets. You could also trace your cut bracket onto the top of each piece of wood instead. Whatever floats your boats, peeps.


Go ahead and cut as many brackets as you need. Actually, I think I cut five but when it came time to install them I decided I liked it better with four.

As is always the case, but especially when your miter saw is set to an angle you're not accustomed to... PLEASE DO NOT CUT YOUR FINGER OFF.

K, thanks.

Perfectly matched brackets. Not perfectly stacked brackets.

Now you can install your brackets. The long side of the bracket goes against the shelf (remember that's on the bottom in this pic) and the short end goes against the back board.


I did one bracket flush at each end, then spaced the other two evenly in between. Use a square to make sure the are straight. 

To attach my brackets - since I don't like to fill holes - I used 1 1/4" wood screws to attach the back side of the bracket by drilling through the back board into the end of the bracket. I wanted to use screws for at least part of it to make sure I got a good, strong hold. Then I flipped the shelf right-side-up and nailed down through the shelf into the top of the bracket with finishing nails. You can attach the top with screws if you don't have finishing nails, or if you want to reinforce the hold a bit more.


*cough*don'tforgettheglue*cough*

Second helper helping. Still don't need glue there, folks.

You're almost done! To finish your shelf, fill any visible holes with wood filler (be sure to get a stainable type if you're using stain instead of paint) then sand everything down really well. This is the most important step for a professional finish! Start with a rough sandpaper, then go over everything with a medium paper, then again with fine paper. Once it's super smooth, finish it with whatever paint or stain and sealer you like.

I tried out a few leftover stains on a scrap board to see what would work with my walls and headboard (budget project = no $$ for new stain). I tried Early American, Weathered Oak and Coffee, and decided on a layer of Weathered Oak topped with a layer of Early American. It hit that sweet spot of not-too-gray-but-not-too-brown.


Full disclosure: I used to read about people mixing or layering stains and think it was flat out crazy. Like who has time for that? Just pick a stain already! But here I am. Turns out it was the best way to make the most of what I had.

Weathered Oak going on first.

Once it dried we hung it centered above the headboard. We drilled straight through the back board into studs in the wall. Yes, the screws are visible, but we're sleeping with our heads under this thing and didn't want any chance of a shelf-falling wake-up call. We used black 3" drywall screws since we knew the heads would be show (still not super pretty, but better than shiny silver heads!). 


All done!


I know I've shared this before, but it's still my favorite side-by-side before + after of the space. What a difference a few simple changes can make!


And here's an update with it decked out for Christmas:


Now I'd love to hear - what's your favorite thing about your bedroom? Is it a special piece of decor? The layout or flow? Something you made yourself? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, January 2

The Spending Freeze in 2020

I feel like I owe you a little update on our infamous spending freeze. I know I mention it a lot - but I haven't really talked about it since we kicked it off last January. So here's what's up - how it's going so far, where we're at a solid year into the spending freeze (more like a spending ice age, I guess), where we're headed from here, a few pro tips we've picked up to help you nail your own spending freeze, and even the unexpected benefits we've found in the midst of our freeze.


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