How To: Do-It-Yourself Decorating

The second installment of a guest-post series by the divine Madame Chaos.  Read her first post here.

Few things are more rewarding than personalizing your home to make a statement about yourself.  My mom has put up her pictures, placed her furniture, and arranged various elements to suit her taste, and then has left everything that is my height to do with as I see fit.  I’d like to share with you some tips for creating an environment that is unmistakably YOU.

Let’s begin with the entryway; people should know who lives in a home immediately upon stepping through the door.  Peanut-butter colored Venitian Plaster is so blah, don’t you think?  Liven it up with freeform artwork:

Luckily, drywall is somewhat soft so even if you use pencil, your design should be permanent if you press hard enough. On the opposite wall, go for a splash of color and texture:

Orange really makes a statement, yes? It is a color too often ignored in decorating.
Another fun thing to do with walls is to punch designs in them. All I had to do here was to keep removing the doorstop (placed conveniently where I could get to it) by unscrewing it from the wall, and the kids coming in from the back yard did the rest:
Isn’t that a great look? Now let’s see what we can do with accessories. My mom has this neat hands-only clock mounted by the staircase:
When a friend gave her a big, one-of-a-kind, handmade clock, she temporarily put it on the floor while determining its placement. Inspiration struck! To provide counterbalance and harmony to the hands-only clock, we needed a no-hands clock!
The small hand was surprisingly easy to tear from the gears, but I only managed to mangle the large hand, which mom removed for me. Truly, this artwork makes one contemplate the ephemeral nature of time, how one moment of inspiration can be frozen forever. A masterpiece.
Let’s not forget furniture. There is a variety of ways one can personalize furniture. Once Mom handpainted my sisters’ dresser, but it just needed an extra touch:
Another dresser idea is to use nail polish:
Don’t forget that nail polish is versatile and quite permanent. I created lovely patterns on the carpet downstairs. One final dresser idea:
The varnish on antique furniture is  porous and will accept Sharpie marker very well. Mom added a subtle touch here by going over and over and over and over and over and over it with Magic Eraser, lightening it somewhat but still leaving it quite visible.
We can’t forget textiles as a quick and easy decorating target. For instance, my mom took a couple of weeks to reupolster an antique sofa, but it just took a second to swipe a blue ballpoint pen along the sofa’s arm to make it truly unique:
And here’s one of many quilt blocks decorated with dry-erase marker:
Did you know that black dry erase marker is scrub-proof and even bleach-proof? This work was done just after Mom quilted, but just before she put the binding on.  She had a good long time to enjoy the new take on her old design while she sat binding.  For some reason, this quilt is currently used underneath the guest-room bedspread and is generally not visible, so you are getting a priveleged viewing.

I can’t conclude without giving credit to my mentor: my big sister, Dee. Her medium was generally scissors (you’ll note the short, artsy, uneven hair), and she often turned the creativity onto the most personal of all canvases, one’s own body:
Dee lipstick
Isn’t she dramatic? I just adore her. Until next time, sign me . .. . .

Madame Chaos



  1. Joan said,

    April 22, 2007 at 10:57 am

    Are all those fun projects in decorating done by our “little MC?” And look at Dee, isn’t she pretty in her nice white dress. These are really some of the joys of being a Mom. But we still wouldn’t trade it, would we? Maybe some days. L, J

  2. Eve said,

    April 22, 2007 at 11:22 am

    Hilarious! I love it.

  3. Kasey said,

    April 22, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    Sounds like her nickname “madame chaos” is very appropriate :)!

  4. Mary said,

    April 23, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    I could just eat her up! She is so adorable (all of them, really). I love that you appreciate their unique beauty and point of view! Thank you for sharing with us. I think you could make a unique children’s book out of this stuff! Love you!

  5. May 13, 2007 at 1:01 am

    […] Idaho Spud […]

  6. Missy said,

    June 24, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    She just drew all over the pretty yellow walls in my bedroom with orange marker, too!

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