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Join Me To Celebrate A Well-Crafted Home
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If you live in North Carolina or surrounding areas I would love for you to join me this Saturday (October 14th) for A Well-Crafted Home launch party. There will be some yummy snacks and drinks, lots of book projects to touch and view, a book signing, a raffle to win the Heirloom Linen Tablecloth, and more! The party will be held at Ayr Mount (where we shot the Outdoor chapter of the book) in historic Hillsborough, North Carolina. Bring your book or buy one at the party. Also feel free to enjoy the beautiful grounds, take a stroll, or bring a comfy blanket to lounge on. This is a family friendly event and space. No RSVP needed, can't wait to see you there!

PARTY DETAILS

WHERE: Ayr Mount Historic Site. 376 St Marys Rd. Hillsborough, NC 27278

WHEN: Saturday, October 14th,  3pm - 5pm

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Janet CrowtherComment
DIY Leather Napkin Rings from A Well-Crafted Home

I never had any use for a napkin ring and most of the ones that I see in stores and in traditional place settings have not inspired me to change my thinking. As I was playing with leather cuts and remnants from another project in the book, I started forming rings with notched wings. Instantly I fell in love with the idea of how this type of ring would age with time and use. The added layer of unpolished sophistication these leather napkin rings possess is a thoughtful addition to a modern or rustic table. 

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Tools & Materials:

Tip: Tooling leather works great for this project. Either buy pre-cut strips or cut your own by hand. 

 

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Steps:

  1. Put one 5-1/2 inch strip of leather, right (smooth) side up, on the cutting mat. Line it up horizontally and straight to any line guide on the cutting mat.
  2. Shape the ends of the leather, using the point strap end punch. Place the punch concave side facing the length of the leather, with the center of the convex side lined up at the center edge of the leather. Try to keep the punch as parallel to the leather as possible. The 2 ends of the punch should be flush with the edges of the leather. Punch the edge of the leather with the help of a mallet. You may have to hit the punch several times to get it to go all the way through. 
  3. Repeat with the opposite end of the leather. Once both sides are punched, the leather will look like a very long and straight-sided oval.
  4. Measure a 1/2 inch in from each end of the leather and add a small pencil mark. Center the round hole punch over one of the pencil marks. Punch out the mark with the help of a mallet. Repeat on the other end of the strip, punching out the second pencil mark.
  5. Time to cut the interlocking openings. The thinner your leather, the thinner this cutout will need to be. You want a tight groove so that the leather stays interlocked during use. Start on the right side, lining up the craft knife perpendicular to the length of the strip. At the inner left edge of the round hole you just made, cut a straight line all the way down the bottom of the strip. Next, move the knife over to the inner right of the hole and cut another line straight down. Remove the line of leather you just cut out.
  6. Turn the leather strip 180 degrees so that the cut you just made faces up and away from you. Line up the craft knife perpendicular to the length of the strip, at the center left edge of the round hole on the right side. Cut a straight line all the way down to the bottom of the strip. Next, move the knife over to the right edge of the hole and cut another line straight down. Remove the line of leather you just cut. 
  7. Pick up the leather strip and flip it over to the back. Turn the 2 ends in toward one another, twisting and interlocking the leather ends. If the cuts are too tight, you can keep slicing off a very small amount on 1 side, but don't do too much at once or you'll end up with a loose connection. You can coax the leather into a round shape; with use it will happen naturally over time. Repeat all the steps to make 3 additional napkin rings.

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I loved styling this dining room scene for the book - the dyed linen tablecloth, cotton napkins, and leather napkin rings are so beautiful together. You can find the tutorials for the Heirloom Linen Tablecloth and Indigo Striped Napkins, shone above, in A Well-Crafted Home

 

All photos by Julia Wade Photography


My Book: A Well-Crafted Home!

I’m so excited that today my book, A Well-Crafted Home: Inspiration and 60 Projects for Personalizing Your Space, officially launches! All 224 pages are packed with beautiful images and tons of inspiration - and did I mention, SIXTY projects!

When my husband and I moved to New York ten years ago, we had a minimal budget to furnish our apartment. Seeking a way to add unique touches to our space that would stand the test of time, I turned to DIY projects that were well-designed, practical, and made with good-quality materialsA Well-Crafted Home is an inspirational jumping-off point for anyone looking to build an environment that feels special and authentic. 

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Equal parts inspiration and DIY guide the book starts with a primer that takes you through the new rules of design, how to get started, and how to stock the perfect DIY toolkit. We then dive into the home and go room by room, starting with the entryway, and talk about how to make each space uniquely yours.  

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We complete the book with a vast section of techniques and skills that you can apply to a host of other projects as well as the ones featured in the book: Natural dyeing, how to cut wood, working with leather, antiquing mirrors, and more! 

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I believe in making things you love. Making things of quality that you want to keep for many years to come and even pass them down to future generations. I want you to love the space you're in and feel empowered to transform it with your own two hands. This book has been such a joy to write and a true labor of love. Thank you to those who pre-ordered the book, are stocking it in your shop, and those who have been championing me through the process. I am so grateful!

A huge thank you to my publisher Clarkson Potter, my editor Angelin Borsics who made me sound like a pro, Julia Wade who took all the gorgeous photographs for the book, Tate Obayashi who drew the sweetest illustrations, and to all the homeowners who let me use your spaces; Joseph and Rachel Bradley, Lisa and Justin Hauenstein, Steven Burke and Randy Campbell. It takes a serious team to write and publish a book - please make sure to check out the acknowledgements page because I got to work with some really awesome people and I couldn't have done it without any of them!

And lastly, I would LOVE to see your copies out in the world, in your hands, and in use - please share and tag #AWellCraftedHome. My hope is that you come back to the book time and time again. 

Happy making,
Janet

WHERE TO GET YOUR COPY

 


DIY Marbled Leather Coasters

There are a couple DIYs that I come back to year after year. This is one of those projects. I use these coasters almost everyday in my home. I have a marbled blue version sitting right here on my desk, a marbled rust version by my bed, and some pink ones in my living room. Luxe leather with a beautiful organic printed pattern and you really can't go wrong. This project makes a great handmade gift, make a set of 4 coaters to give away for various holidays and celebrations. If you aren't excited about cutting your own coasters you're in luck, they can be purchased pre-punched!

 

Tools & Materials:

 

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Steps:

  1. Set the circle cutter up to cut a 3.5-inch circle. Put the leather hide smooth side down on the cutting mat (cutting the leather right side down will prevent a hole appearing at the top of your coaster from the cutting tool). Cut 4 coasters from your leather hide.
  2. Fill the baking pan with about 1-2 inches of water. 
  3. Put on paint brush in the ink and let the ink soak into the brush. Touch the brush to the water surface and let the ink spread, pick up the brush. Take the second paint brush and dip it into the oil. Touch the oil brush at the center of the ink circle and watch the oil spread the ink away. Alternate between the ink and the oil to create patterns in the water. 
  4. You can use a toothpick to swirl the patterns around. I like to flick a little oil over the water to create "blank" circles in my marbled pattern.
  5. Once you see a pattern you like and it's wider than the coaster, take the coaster smooth (right side) down in your hand. Just grazing the surface, dip the coaster into the water. Be sure that the whole surface has touched the ink. Pick it up and lay it flat to dry, pattern side up. If you still have enough pattern floating on the surface you can dip the next coaster, otherwise use the ink and oil to create a new pattern. Repeat for the remaining coasters.
  6. Let the coasters dry fully before using, about 2 hours.

 

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You GOt options:

I love this technique, did I say that already? Use the circle cutter to make larger circles and make trivets! The larger circles below are about 8-10 inches. For the trivets with marbling in the center I cut out a larger circle and then cut a smaller circle from the larger so they could nestle together. After marbling the center circle take a piece of sheet cork and glue all three pieces together. You can tell that these have gotten some heavy use but I wanted you to see an alternative option with all your new tools. Have fun!

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DIY Stitched-Edge Linen Napkins

This is an easy diy that packs a big punch. I absolutely love these stitched-edge napkins and linens, which can be made in under 30 minutes. All you need are a few key tools (most of which you probably already have), fabric, and some fun colored thread. Make a set of 8 napkins for your dinner table using just 1 yard of fabric, or sew a couple larger sizes to use as dishtowels around the kitchen. You don't need to know any fancy sewing techniques - just how to sew in a straight-ish line, but no one is judging here.

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Tools & Materials:

 

 

Tip: 1 yard of fabric will make 8, 12"x12" napkins. Add more fabric yardage for larger napkins or if you would like to make more than 8. I dyed a natural color linen with Rit dye to get it the color pink shown in the pictures. Buy your linen or cotton fabric in an assortment of colors or patterns to mix and match your napkin set, or create your own palette using dyes and colorants.

 

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Steps:

  1. Using a cutting mat, ruler, and rotary cutter, cut out (8) 12.5" x 12.5" squares from the fabric.
  2. Thread your sewing machine using an all-purpose foot, making sure the top thread will match the bottom bobbin thread. 
  3. Sewing one fabric square at a time, set a satin stitch on the machine (which is basically a very tight zigzag stitch) and sew along all 4 sides of the fabric squares, leaving a 1/4" of fabric around each edge. If you are attempting this stitch for the first time, take a scrap piece of fabric and practice a couple lines before sewing up your napkin squares. This practice round will also help you figure out if your stitch settings need adjustment on the sewing machine.
  4. Cut the napkin and thread from the machine and tie the two ends of thread together with a square knot. Trim ends. 
  5. Trim along the outside of the stitching to remove the excess 1/4" of fabric (be careful not to cut any of the stitching). You can alternatively leave this extra fabric and create a fringe border. 
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 for the remaining fabric squares. 

 

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A Complete Guide To Thrift Store Shopping

Thrifting can be rewarding on many levels. I always love a good find and thrifting means prices way below retail. Styles are always recirculating. Mid-century has had an established return to popularity as you’ve probably seen here, here, and all over the pages of a West Elm catalog. Other styles are not so far behind - think memphis 80’s, or the earthy, Scandinavian inspired colors of the 70’s. Amazingly, there are literally tons of incredible finds hiding in plain sight. Granted, there are (likely) 50 abominations for each score but that keeps the hunt interesting, if not outright comical. On top of finding an authentic piece for pennies on the dollar, you’re getting footprint points keeping it out of the landfill. Icing on the cake.

For nearly a decade, we lived in a series of studio apartments in New York. The concept of furnishing an entire home, consisting of defined spaces, wasn’t exactly lost on us...it just wasn’t realistic. When we landed in North Carolina our home was essentially a blank canvas. Being budget conscious does not mean you have to sacrifice style. Our home style is a conglomerate of “found” pieces and DIY’d personal touches. The home and (likely) your perspective style is constantly evolving. Thrifted goods provide a rewarding value while giving you the flexibility to experiment.

And since today is National Thrift Shop Day, you know where to find me.

Our living room furnished for under $500. 

Our living room furnished for under $500. 

Living Room Breakdown

Would you have guessed most of what you see here was found in a thrift store? See the breakdown below and some of the INSANE steals we scored (most of all this rug).

  • Restoration Hardware linen slipcovered sofa and ottoman: Purchased for $200, retail value $6,145
  • Marble Coffee Table: Purchased for $45, retail value range $500-2,000
  • Teak 9-Drawer Dresser/Credenza: Purchased for $50, retail value $900
  • Tufenkian Hand-knotted Wool Carpet: Purchased for $85; retail value $23,000
  • Lee Industries Club Chairs: Purchased for $150, retail value $3,000
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Kids Room Breakdown

I want to show you one more room in our home, our daughter's room. Most of the rooms in our home would breakdown in almost the same way with an even mix of found, newly purchased, and family hand-me-downs throughout. While the purchased value to retail value isn't as staggering here we managed to pull off acquiring the major pieces in this room for under $200.

  • Mid-century Bookshelf: Purchased for $10, retail value $250
  • Floral Oil Painting: Purchased for $5, retail value unknown
  • Stuffed Animal Stools: Purchased for $15, retail value unknown
  • Round Side Table by Lane: Purchased for $30 , retail value $250
  • Cast Iron Bed Frame: Purchased for $85, retail value $300
  • Brass Swing Arm Wall Lamp: Purchased for $5, retail value $120
  • DIY Wood Bead Chandelier can be found in my new book

I hope some of the above information inspires you to get to your local thrift store! Below find my tried and true tips for getting started and making it a successful trip.

A globe table lamp found for $10 resting on a DIY acrylic table (instructions included in my latest book).

A globe table lamp found for $10 resting on a DIY acrylic table (instructions included in my latest book).

The Essential 10 Tips for Thrifting 

  1. Keep an open mind - Don’t let your search become too narrow. That doesn’t mean lose focus, just keep an open mind. Some of the best finds are the ones you aren’t looking for. It’s easy to miss a golden opportunity when you are laser-focused on one specific need. Don’t step over that under-appreciated rug or miss an amazing frame because you’re too busy looking for a specific chair or table.
  2. Get outside of the big city - any road trip or thrift adventure should include some geographic exploring. It takes a little more effort and planning but prices and value shift  dramatically in smaller towns.
  3. Go to the source - We are fortunate to live in a state with deep roots in textiles and furniture making. That means there is an abundance of supply and general malaise in terms of demand. Lots of people offload older furniture, with no regard to provenance or resale value. If you’re on a road trip, do a little digging into what products or textiles that area is known for. This should point to an oversupply and increased odds of finding a gem.
  4. Shop early and often - While there’s not too much competition out there, some people make the loop daily. I can’t even begin to tell you how many rugs I’ve seen in thrift stores that pop up on craigslist a couple days later. There are resellers out there and the best pieces don’t often last more than a day or two. If you have the time and are really on the hunt, check early and often.
  5. Know the deal - Lots of thrift stores have a moving price scale and discount days. Most will reduce prices based on how long the item sits on the sales floor.
  6. Look it up - If you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking at, pull out your phone! If you’re not sure you’ve found a value buy, flip it over and look for a brand or marking. A quick google search will let you know if you’ve struck gold. Word to the wise, 1stdibs.com, while awesome, will likely give you unrealistic (or ego-inflating) results when it comes to pricing.
  7. Have your measurements - while this may seem obvious if you’re searching for a particular nook or space in the home, it never hurts to have general measurements for your whole space. Like we said, you never know what will pop up and nothing is worse than rolling the dice only to find your new score doesn’t fit where you thought it would.
  8. Learn common vs. unique - With some practice, you’ll quickly see a lot of the same things surfacing in thrift stores. 90’s light fixtures and pedestal sinks are everywhere! If something catches your eye that you’ve never seen before, it likely won’t last long. Always aim for quality as the benchmark. Solid composition and craftsmanship usually stand out from the pack.
  9. Transport yourself - It can be a challenge to envision how something could fit in your home when you’re under the sterile, fluorescent lights of a thrift store. Remember to take the object out of the room and mentally place it in yours. Furniture and art can strike subtler, less severe tones when removed from a set. Also, think of the possibilities for things that can be repurposed, reupholstered, or altered.
  10. The smell test - Avoid buying furniture that has been neglected to the point where it literally stinks (smoke, mildew, animal fragrances, etc). This smell will (likely) never come out, no matter what you do. This includes wood pieces. Before buying make sure the furniture passes a smell test.

 

Thrifting should be fun and easy. We've managed to fully furnish five rooms of our home, on a budget, all while thrifting. I would love to hear about your most jaw-dropping thrift store score...


Janet Crowther
How To Make A Hanging Plant Bar

An easy way to brighten and liven up any home is to add some greenery. This hanging plant bar is the perfect display for happy green plants or a small arrangement of flowers. Showcase them over a low bookshelf or for high impact placement try right behind your couch. I originally made this project for A Well-Crafted Home but had to remove it along with some others that wouldn't fit into the space requirements. These are hard choices to make! I love this project so much and it really adds a nice unexpected pop into a room. The bar hangs from the ceiling using S-hooks and some knotted rope. You can hang plants from the bar using hooks, rope, or clips depending on the weight. This project is pretty easy-breezy so don't be intimidated by the size.

 

Tools & Materials:

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Steps:

  1. Spray paint the pipe with an even coat of the primer. Let dry for two hours.
  2. Spray paint the primed pipe with a couple even coats of pink spray paint, letting the paint dry between coats.
  3. Slide rope through pipe and center it so there is an even amount of rope on each side of the pipe. Determine the height that you would like your bar to hang from the ceiling and add a foot to each side to accommodate the amount that we will use for tying the knots. Snip off the excess rope.
  4. Tie the end of each side of the rope into an overhand loop knot. The finished loop should be approximately 2” long.
  5. Attach the eye hooks to your ceiling, spaced as far apart as your pipe is long.
  6. Thread the s-hooks through the rope loops to attach, one on each side. To hang the bar, attach the top of the s-hooks into the eye hooks on the ceiling.
  7. Hang some of your favorite plants on the bar!

 

If you want to take this project even further - and I think you totally should - make some of these holders to fancy up your new plant bar:

 


Well-Crafted Home Book Sneak Peek

It's been a long time in the making but I am utterly thrilled to share a brand new resource with you today. My latest book, AWell-Crafted Home, is designed to help you unlock the potential within your home and give you the confidence to create lasting pieces in your own personal style. I can't believe its officially out in less than 2 months! I was shipped the first copies, hot off the press from my editor, and this book is truly beautiful. A dream come true for me.

Now, legally, I can't give too much away, but I couldn't resist showing you a couple gorgeous images from the book. I called on my dear friend (who I met when she was my wedding photographer) to shoot the book with me and she knocked it out of the park - say hello to Julia Wade. We drove all around North and South Carolina with a minivan full of props and projects, on the lookout for the perfect homes to shoot. We found some amazing home owners who let us come in and deconstruct their spaces (omg that bathroom below is heart-stopping, amiright), but more on that at a later time....

For now feast your eyes on just a few of the 60 projects that will be covered in the book. I tried to pick a favorite project but I can't! Just so you know, I practice what I preach - ALL of the projects in this book are currently in use at our home. The beaded light fixture below is hanging up in my daughters room. All the throw pillows have graced our sofa since we shot the final images and the hammock has been swinging in our backyard all summer. I believe in making things you love. Making things of quality that you want to keep for many years to come and even pass them down to future generations. I want you to love the space you're in and feel empowered to transform it with your own two hands. I hope you'll pick up a copy of this book and keep me in the loop on what you've made! 

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Pre-order your copy HERE before it's released on September 26th. Thanks so much to those of you who have already ordered the book, or placed an order for your friends and family. I've been working on this project for over two years and can't wait to hear what you think. 

 

WHERE TO GET YOUR COPY


Let's Bundle-Dye with Flowers!

The flowers in North Carolina are beautiful from Spring through Summer! I can't resist grabbing a pair of gardening clippers and pulling my car over on every side street to snatch a few blooming branches. I've dye tested all sorts of buds this summer - from daffodils and cherry blossoms to camellias and crepe myrtle blossoms - but my favorite color combination so far is from a dyed bundle of camellia flowers. The tonal pinks and purples, mixed with the yellow stamen, make for a winning combination. I plucked these flowers in Spring and threw them in a ziplock freezer bag and kept them frozen until I was ready for this project. You can do the same with any flowers that are currently available in your region. This tutorial will show you how to naturally dye fabric yardage. I'll link out to a few of my favorite ideas for what to do with your freshly dyed linen below. Grab your shears and get to know your neighbors or hop on over to your local flower district and pick up a few stems for testing. Since camellia buds are mostly out of season, test other options like rose petals, hibiscus, pansies, violets, begonias, and sunflowers. 

Tools & Materials:

Tip: I froze my petals in a ziplock bag because I wasn't quite ready to dye at the time of picking.Sometimes freezing flowers beforehand will help yield stronger dye colors, but sometimes not. As always, test first before dyeing a large project.
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Steps:

1. Soak your fabric in a bucket of 3 parts water, 1 part vinegar. Wring it out and lay it on a flat surface.

2. Sprinkle the petals and flower buds over the entire fabric surface.

3. Once you like the arrangement of flowers start rolling up the fabric. Keep the fabric taut as you roll from one end to the other.  I don't always love the effect of an exact print which can happen with bundle-dyeing. A looser bundle will help disperse the colors more to provide an ombre effect. 

4. You can roll it in the opposite direction as well to make the bundle smaller to fit completely in your pot. If you are only dyeing a yard of fabric this step is probably unnecessary.

5. Secure the bundle tightly with twine.

6. You can steam or boil the bundle. I find that steaming works best but if you don't have a steam pot just go ahead and fill your steel pot with enough water to cover the fabric, bring to a boil, stir occasionally and let it sit in the boiling water for an hour. If you are steaming, let it steam for 1.5 to 2 hours. Make sure to keep an eye on it and never leave a pot on the stove unattended. Be mindful whether you are boiling or steaming to always make sure there is ample water in your pot.

7. Remove the bundle and let it cool overnight. Once cool remove the twine and unwind the bundle removing all the plant matter.

8. Hang the fabric to dry. Once completely dry, press the fabric with an iron to seal in the color. Hand wash the fabric in cool water with pH free detergent and hang to dry.

 

You can use the fabric many ways. I stitched all my edges and hung it on the wall as a banner. Here are a few more suggestions:

Turn into easy throw pillows
Use for furoshiki wrapping cloths
Sew a couple napkins for your dinner guests
Make the cutest little shoe bag I've ever seen, these could also double as jewelry bags or farmers market bags