On The Wall

Keyed Up

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

I almost fell over backwards when I saw this key art all over Restoration Hardware’s latest catalog spread.  How cool are these keys so beautifully framed? 


What’s not cool (at least to me) is the price.  At $199 dollars each for an 18 x 18 inch square, I had to choke a bit.  You see, a few months ago I purchased some of these same skeleton keys for $2 dollars each at my favorite local salvage warehouse.  I plan on featuring them in my ‘Home for the Holidays’ Etsy shop – coming later this month.  I always thought they’d be so beautiful framed in a collection.  So I laughed when I saw Restoration Hardware’s images. 

rh desk with keys

Images via Restoration Hardware

A few days ago, I was doing some discount DIY framing, working on a photograph for my master bedroom.  One of the other projects I finished was my own miniature version of framed skeleton key art. 

key art from side 

These were so easy to make.  The most difficult part is finding the right key.  Luckily, I had my own stash. 

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DIY: Fall Leaves on Canvas

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Five years ago, Mr. CG and I toured New England in mid October.  We started in New York City, drove through Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod, and ended our trip in Boston.

Boston.  October 2004.  Ring a bell ?  Imagine trying to get a room in Boston in October of 2004 when the Red Sox faced the Cardinals in the World Series.  Ooops, didn’t see that one coming in my advance travel plans.  For hours, we dialed every hotel in town.  We lost count of how many operators said to us, “You do realize the Red Sox are playing in the World Series at Fenway tonight”.

Sinking further into stupidville with every call, again and again I replied:  “Yes, we are aware. **Sigh**  Do you have any rooms available?”  But like Mary and Joseph, we were turned away.  There was simply no room at the inn(s).  At one point, I even begged, “I have an eight month old baby.  Take pity on me.”  After several hours, and a crazy stroke of luck, we finally found the very last hotel room in town at the Hyatt.  Exhausted, we watched the fourth and final Fenway game from the lobby bar.  Reinvigorated by the beers, we became Red Sox fans.  Well, just for the night.  I’m a little off topic.  Where was I ?

Oh yes.  Throughout our New England tour, we were privileged to witness the fall foliage show.  Amazing aspens.  Magical maples.  I loved it all.  And let me just digress again.  You New Englanders seriously know how to prepare some chowda and lobstah.  I must have gained five pounds on that trip, between the New York bagels and the chowda.

While we were touring Newport (I heart Newport), we ran right into John Ratzenberger.  Wait, Kate.  Stay on topic !  Okay, while in Newport, I picked up one of my favorite Christmas ornaments:  a maple leaf covered with gold.  It was the source of inspiration for this next fall themed art project.

fall leaves on canvas

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How I Hung Grasscloth and Lived to Tell About It

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

I’ve been wanting pearlized grasscloth wallpaper since I fell in love from York Wallcoverings. Wanting to remodel my own home office/library space in shades of gray, spa blue, cream, and chocolate, I sought out the perfect luminescent shade of grasscloth from a book of exotic wallcoverings I found at Lowes.  This particular grasscloth wallpaper is by Patton Wallcoverings, from their ‘Decorator Grasscloth’ collection.

This book is filled with so many fabulous colors from celedon to gray to cream and mocha brown.   My gray/blue pattern number is 488-309.

Here’s the step-by-step I followed for installing grasscloth wallpaper all by myself!


  1. Grasscloth wallpaper, enough to cover the desired walls.
  2. Wallpaper paste
  3. Smoothing tool
  4. Level
  5. Measuring tape
  6. Staple gun
  7. Sharp scissors
  8. Paint roller and tray
  9. Medium sized paintbrush
  10. Extreme tenacity!

Step One:  I measured the height of my wall and cut my first piece of grasscloth, allowing an extra inch on the top and bottom for later trimming.  With a level, I realized a certain truth – no wall is perfectly straight.  I lined up the first piece of paper in the corner, and used a level to make sure it hung straight.  With a staple gun, I secured the top to the wall, then trimmed my corner where the paper was uneven.  The only way for me to hang this very heavy, very awkward paper by myself was by use of a staple gun.  Otherwise, I would have needed a second pair of hands.  I found that the texture of the grasscloth allowed me to cheat by securing my grasscloth with small staples.  I later removed them without any holes or damage.

Step Two:  After stapling on the top, I climbed under my paper and up my ladder, and added paste with my roller to the wall.  I did NOT put the paste on the back of the paper first.  I applied it directly to the wall.  This way, I avoided the need for a big work surface, and kept my paste exactly where I wanted it.

Tip:  Don’t skimp on paste, especially with grasscloth.  The heavy paper needs a sloppy amount of paste – I was very generous in my application.

Step Three:  I used my smoothing tool to get rid of bubbles, and they creep up everywhere.  I had to be extremely patient in pushing them out, and often I had to pull back the paper entirely, and resmooth it.  This is where #10 on my supply list comes in handy.

Step Four – Aligning seams:  This was by far the trickiest part.  With the second piece of grasscloth, I followed steps 1 and 2, but then had to align my second piece perfectly next to the first piece.  Again, I used the staple gun, this time on the vertical, to secure the pieces together every 8 to 10 inches.  Repeat step three and smooth out all bubbles with smoothing tool.  Be sure to remove all of your staples when the adhesive is dry!

Tip:  Apply extra paste underneath the seam with a paintbrush before you align your neighboring strip.  Be careful not to get any paste on your grasscloth.

Step Five:  Carefully trim around your electrical and light switches.  Be sure to remove your switch plate covers before you wallpaper!

Tip:  Do all of your trimming, both horizontal and vertical, with very sharp scissors.  Do not use a razor blade – it will tear the grasscloth and give you a jagged edge.

Step Six:  Trim the top and bottom of your strip of grasscloth once your paste has set.

I’ve never hung wallpaper with paste before, so this project was very time consuming and very challenging for me.  It took me five hours the first day, and another five hours today.  And it’s going to take me awhile to recover before I consider doing any more grasscloth anytime soon.  Besides, three walls in a small office is plenty grasscloth for me!

But I am truly loving the subtle texture grasscloth wallpaper adds to a space:


One drawback:  the seams are more visible than I anticipated, but that’s just the nature of grasscloth.  But with a furnished room it’s less noticeable. Have you all ever wanted to install grasscloth in your home or office?




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