Friday, September 26, 2014

DIY Back Rests for Lounging Outdoors

Pictured are some very fun back rests that we made for a Movie Under the Stars party. Summer and fall are optimal times to enjoy long evenings outdoors. Festivals, Concerts in the Park, backyard movie nights, beach bonfires, swim meets and picnics are all perfect opportunities to prop these up, lean back and enjoy the fresh air. Although I rent these versatile little "chairs", I thought I'd share DIY tips for those of you that are not local and enjoy an easy fun project.
Confession. I actually used the butterscotch colored cushions from my kitchen chairs.
I know they are comfy with the added bonus of being washable!
Ingredients and Recipe:

My TrueLove reminded me that we had to cut plywood to size at his brother's workshop with the skill saw and goggles. It is simple if you are experienced. If not, have a pro do it for you. The rest of the steps are easy and fun!

                                                         1)  (2)  18"x24" pieces of plywood per chair about 1/2" to 1" thick

Step 1: Put the hinges on. Then you can stand it up to paint to paint.
They go on the inside. We did it wrong the first time. See!
Also see the 1"x2" nailed at the bottom and inside.
2)  (2) sturdy hinges per chair- they attach on the inside peak

3)  Primer

4) Paint- I recommend deck paint. I used home      made chalk paint.

5) Drill

6) 3" nails

7) (2)  1"x2" wood pieces. You will drill holes in the wood piece for nails. The nails just slide into the holes and softly pierce the grass. They keep the chair from moving when supporting your back.

These back rests or chairs are versatile, sturdy and portable. I love them! I can't wait to take them to a concert in the park with a couple of supportive cushions and a bottle of wine. Smart and stylish.

This project actually cost about $50. I posted an update on social media asking friends if they had any plywood that they wanted to get rid of. Luckily, I had enough offers to come pick up their throw-away plywood to make (4)!

We had primer, nails and tools. The major cost was for the hinges, about $3.50 each. I also bought gray paint, but I saved a bunch because I shopped the "blooper" area. I knew that any value of gray would coordinate nicely with the color pallet we chose.

The picture on the right shows them all sitting pretty, ready for the guests to arrive and relax. Imagine the exciting possibilities for personalizing these chairs: painted gold or with chalkboard paint, stenciled with a family name or with a team logo, or even covered with glamorous wallpaper! Anything you can imagine!

This little cutie (left) and it's match were Antique Faire finds. I paid $20 for both of them. They are called "sand chairs" or "beach chairs". I wasn't sure how they would work on the grass but they work fantastic! I used them for the party as well with pillows. I also use them regularly to sit out on the lawn with my old pug dog and a book. They are adorable and the very reason I love antiquing and thrifting!

I hope this little DIY inspires you to have some fun creating and exploring possibilities. If I could do it, you can do it! (Except TrueLove really did most of it. shhh!)


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Styling an 18th Birthday Party

Kai's 18th Birthday
Dinner and Movie Under the Stars

I had the privilege to work with a very talented musician and actress, Kai Bains,
to style her fabulous 18th birthday party!
I'd love to style a small gathering for you and your friends.

Here are some of my favorite pictures and even some tips for styling your own parties. 

This celebration was pure magic and the photos really do not do it justice. I was beyond delighted to stage this party for such an amazing young lady. It could not have been more fun for me!
Kai was lovely to work with. We met a few weeks before the party to discuss her ideas and how I could serve her. Together I believed we accomplished what she wanted and even elevated it.

She loved my idea of mixing vintage tableware together. I combined gold vintage snack services ( I painted the bottom of the glass gold). Also pairing them with small salad plates provided interest and took much less space than standard size place settings. The extra tables space gained allowed all ten girls to share the same dining table. It was lovely and perfect for their Tapas menu that was catered. Kai added the special touch of a simple menu on a lunch bag with a surprise goodie inside: hot pita bread.

Movie Under the Stars viewing area. 
This lounging area accommodated ten girls. It was comfortable with ample room to lie down on cozy picnic blankets and lots of pillows to throw around while watching their films.

Back Rests

Jon and I made four gray backrests for the girls to lean against on the grass. I was inspired by some that I saw and researched on Pinterest. We fashioned these specifically for Kai's party. They are simple, A-frames with hinges that anchor softly into the grass. We recycled plywood that was doomed for the trash, painted them French Gray to coordinate with the color scheme and propped seat cushions and back cushions against them for extra comfort. These are great for parties like this, picnics, concerts in the park or just relaxing on a patch of grass. I am glad to rent them out or custom make some for your next event!

Calli modeling how comfy the backrests are.

Photo backdrop and movie screen.
Dinner table with movie area in the background.
I delegated some of the styling to Kai to utilize her creativity as well as keep costs low. She made this adorable picture booth/backdrop that quickly converted to the movie screen. It made a fantastic focal point for the whole party. Calli was my right hand as we set this up in record breaking scorching August heat.

The high summer sun giving my camera a challenge.
I wanted the lounge area to have no shortage of pillows. Also, I used baskets and luggage as side tables and a low profile coffee table. I wanted the girls to have plenty of places to set their popcorn and drinks.

I deconstructed a store bought floral bouquet to make several small arrangements that would allow the ladies to see each other without moving them. This is a fun way to stretch out the beauty and the budget!

Fresh lemon and herbs are just as pretty as flowers, fragrant and edible garnish.

A gift from Grandma. A beautiful french cake. 

Kai's parents strung memories over the patio mimicking streamers but much more fun. They are not only festive, personal and stunning, but also interactive. The girls really enjoyed finding their photos with Kai and then sharing their memories. Everyone loved it! 
This is a fun idea to implement for family birthdays, anniversaries and even weddings. They can be strung up high, on tables, over entryways, there are so many possibilities. In this digital age, everyone appreciates real photos more than ever!

I can style a small event like this, rent the pieces pictured or find a unique piece of furniture for your living spaces.  I'll be keeping everyone posted as my new website is closer to launching under the new name: Nicole Monee.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Speaking on Creativity

Here's the sweet Instagram Lizzie posted of me speaking!
Wow! What a privilege to speak at my dear friend, Liz Heywood's "Lemonade Salon", which is a once a month discussion group. Knowing that I'm in transition of establishing myself in a creative line of work, Liz gave me a platform to speak on the topic of Bringing Creativity into Your Life and Home. She also asked me to specifically address people who "are not creative".

Wow! What an exciting topic! Here is a recap of what I shared from my heart.

We are all creative! 
I believe it! If you share my world view then you believe that we are created by a Creator who is Creativity. Creativity lives in us.
I have wonderful friends that have declared to me that they are not creative AT ALL!
I politely pointed out to one, "Yes you are! You teach Math to dozens of kids and you have used creativity to make Math fun and understandable. You use creativity when you teach."
To the other I responded, "Yes you are! You run a busy family and a ridiculously busy office. The way you juggle a calendar and an agenda takes all kinds of creativity."
Both ladies were deeply encouraged as I called out their creativity, and they agreed. You see, we are all creative, it just looks different for many of us.
Creativity grows! It can be fostered with the right mindset.

Addressing the stressfulness of bringing creativity alive I came up with the acronym
LAUGHS, as a reminder that it can be fun.

L: Limitations! It is counterintuitive to free up a bunch of people by starting with limitations, however, I have found that limitations have forced me to be the most creative. Creativity is used to solve problems, thus "Necessity is the mother of invention." It's like that. It needs healthy boundaries.

Ex 1: Have you ever been in a class and the teacher tells you that you can write about anything you want? And you sat and sat and sat and wasted most of the time thinking, starting and starting over?
If the same teacher told you to write about your fluffy bunny, you could begin straight away with great creative ideas.

Ex 2: DIY and How-To's are popular because most of the world is limited by budget and creativity forces us to be resourceful and figure out how to replicate the things we love within our monetary boundaries.

A: Ask! Ask for help. Ask for ideas. Designers and stylists collaborate all the time!

U: you! I know the translation is weak but you need to know what you like. You must collect things that inspire you. Start a Style File or an Idea File. Grab a binder, page protectors and start tearing ideas out of magazines. I've even been waiting in the dentist office lobby and asked if I could tear a recipe or photo page out. If you are tech savvy then start Pinterest boards and refer to them often. You'll see your tastes change and refine. Mostly, you will be constantly inspired. Inspiration fosters creativity.

G: Go! Go and make mistakes! Many who don't feel creative are stressed out by the fear that they might make a mistake. Designers make mistakes all the time. Stylists bring more than they will ever need for a photo shoot because they have to try and see what works. Concepts don't always translate in real life, so just try things. Designers and stylists are successful because they have tried so many things that they begin to instinctively know what will work. Go and try! If it's a mistake return it, change it, start over. - If you are investing a lot of money then ask for help! Collaborating does not mean that you are not creative.

H: Hang out with creative people! Like I mentioned before, creativity is a force and it feeds itself within relationship. Have you ever planned a meal, party, or an outing with a friend. The more you share ideas, the more exciting the conversation becomes and sometimes there are so many ideas at the end that you both are exhausted.

S: Space (and Time): Give yourself ample space and time to be creative. Make a date for an afternoon. Creativity can't be rushed or you end up feeling frustrated. Many artists and hobbyists plan time and space: Sketch Crawls, Srapbooking Retreats, Open Air Painting Events are all examples of creatives making a time and space for themselves to experiment.

LAUGHS! The acronym is to remind you to have fun. You will get there. Another tip that didn't make it into the acronym is to START SMALL! Don't start with your whole home. Start with a coffee cup and a Sharpie, a mason jar and metallic gold pen. Write an inspiring word on it and see if the one small idea inspires another one. Here is an example of a time I felt a block and started very small:

Here I took a gold metallic pen from the craft store and wrote an inspiring word onto a wooden valet plate. It led me to do an organic design on the back. This project took five minutes and the creativity it generated inspired a host of project ideas that I am still working on. It started with a boring plate and a metallic pen.

I hope you are reminded, as I am myself, that WE ARE ALL creative!
Creativity is a force, it helps solve problems, it grows, it likes time, it likes space, it likes company and