Valentine’s day & crepe paper streamer lettering

Happy Valentine's day from Permanent RiotHappy Valentine’s day! I hope your day was full of lots of love and sweet treats!

I don’t know about you but I was never all that into decorating for Valentine’s day or making a production about it before I had kids. I like to tell my husband that I love him every day, not just on designated days where flowers cost twice the usual going rate. All that aside, as soon as kids came into the picture it seems like holidays took on a whole new meaning. I remember waking up as a kid on Valentine’s day and my mom had decorated the whole kitchen and set the table with a red table cloth and a small treat for each of the kids at our seats. Those kinds of overnight transformations were always so magical. Being a kid is awesome – anything can happen while you’re sleeping.

I didn’t have huge plans for Valentine’s day this year but after we got the kids in bed I decided that it might be fun to fill the kitchen floor with red balloons. I really wanted to get heart shaped balloons but I guess maybe I should have thought of it sooner than the day before? I sent Ben out on a mission to buy some balloons and while he was gone I started hanging up some streamers and making more recycled mail decorations to go with the hearts that Amelia and I had made earlier in the week. Then I remembered that I had a bunch of small colored hearts already cut out from several years ago when I took the twins’ first Valentine’s day photo. I started hanging them up in the doorway – and, well, I think you can see where this is going. I got a little carried away. It was totally worth it to see the look on the kids’ faces when they woke up. They loved everything (especially the balloons).

Valentine's day - Permanent RiotMy very favorite part of all of the decorating we did was the giant “I love you so” scrawled in cursive along the top of one of the walls. It was actually Ben’s idea and I am absolutely sure we will be repeating this concept in the future – it’s so easy! Crepe paper streamers are the perfect medium for this kind of project – they’re stretchy and not likely to break, they keep their shape when they’re creased and are very lightweight so they stay up with just the tiniest bit of tape. I freehanded my letters as I went, but I’m sure you could sketch out your pattern on the wall ahead of time if you’re worried about getting it just so. If you’ve ever used the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator or drawn a spline in a CAD program, this lettering is the same idea. You only need to tack down the letters at “anchor points” where the streamer is curving or changing direction, not along the entire length. I actually used very little tape for this project, considering the final effect. The whole thing probably cost us around fifty cents. (as a nerdy side note, if you have some free time on your hands, check out the shipbuilding origins of the computer spline)

Valentine's day decor - Permanent RiotThe day went by in a blur of crafting and chaos (as they tend to do) – and we even managed to make some cards for the kids to take to the “friendship party” that they had at preschool this morning. I really wanted them to be a part of making the valentines so I asked them to paint with watercolors on sheets of white paper. After the paint was all dried they cut out circles from their drawings with my hole punch and wrote their names on the back. By the time they finished writing their names on every paper they were pretty burnt out of crafting so I finished them up on my own – but it would be pretty impressive if they could write in cursive, wouldn’t it?

Preschool valentines cards - Permanent RiotOverall I’d say the day was a smashing success. Once the kids were in bed, Ben and I cooked up some amazing mini chocolate souffles (I had no idea they were so easy to make – I’ll be making them again soon for sure!) and watched a terrible cheesy romantic comedy. I hope your Valentine’s day was just as much fun!

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Valentine’s day & crepe paper streamer lettering

Our wonderfully yellow new room {decor}

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog. And there’s a good reason. I’ve been busy moving cross country. Not just in an “oh I moved pretty far so I’ll call it cross country” sort of a way – no. We actually moved from within a couple miles of the beach on the West coast to within a couple miles (ok, maybe 10? I’ll have to look it up to get an exact distance) on the East coast. A LONG LONG way.

Moving our little family of 4 to the East coast is one of the crazier, more exciting and fun things that we’ve ever done. It was a big endeavor. Definitely not possible without the help of my parents who watched the kids for almost two weeks while Ben and I drove our car, loaded up with our prized possessions (sewing machines and computers!) across the country and set up our new apartment. What makes it extra crazy is that we’re only planning to live here for a little less than a year before moving back to the West coast (I *KNOW* we’re nuts, right?)

Moving such a long distance for such a short period of time presents an interesting dilemma. Moving an entire family’s entire collection of toys, furniture, clothing and household goods all the way out here would have cost an estimated $5,000 or $6,000 minimum each way. EACH WAY!! Having helpful movers come and pack said belongings and put them in storage for us for an entire year? Only around $2000. You can guess which one we picked. Because even if we spent a whopping $10,000 on furnishing our new apartment (easy to do if shopping at high end furniture stores) we would still not be spending more than it would cost to move out here. So we called it a challenge. Go to Ikea (oh wonderland of inexpensive yet stylish Scandinavian wares) and spend as little as possible to make our apartment as lovely as possible. We briefly considered buying the bulk of our furniture off of craigslist, but since we were on such a tight time schedule (just under a week to furnish and decorate the entire apartment before the kids arrived) we vetoed that idea and decided instead that we would sell all of our lovely new Ikea purchases at the end of the year. Making it an even cheaper option. Plus who doesn’t love a trip to Ikea now and then. I certainly do.

So on to the bedroom!

We have always put the rest of the house (the public rooms and kids’ room) at the top of our priority list when it comes to decorating. We have never owned a “real” bed with a headboard and frame. We have never owned a matching bedroom set. We have never really “decorated” our room before. But this time I was dead set on making us a real honest to goodness bedroom. We started out with the furniture. Nothing super exciting. Just some dark black/brown basic shapes for the bed, dresser and nightstands and a knock-off of the poang chair (I believe it’s the pello chair, fine from the front but super ugly from the back – hello chair in a corner). I wish I had a picture of the room with just the furniture in it. It was sad and lonely. We learned at that point that a bedroom set (because the furniture did match) does NOT a bedroom make.

So we moved on to the “decor” phase. First we hung some curtains. We already had the whole set of white curtains that used to hang in our bedroom separating our “faux office” in the last apartment (remember, the ones I made into a shirt?) so we started by hanging those. The bedroom is a not-so-fabulous shade of “builder beige”, not white, not brown, just kind of blah, so we figured white curtains would pop out with some brightness. Plus we already had the curtains so score one for free! We also had a fabulous duvet cover that I wanted to keep in the room, the yellow Marimekko bedding from Crate and Barrel (purchased with some left over from way back in the day wedding gift cards, thank you wedding guests!)

Next it was time to decorate the walls. My motto when it comes to hanging art or photographs on the walls of our home is “there’s no such thing as too big”. As a photographer and former architect I am convinced that people have no concept of the following two things.

1. Your walls are big. No really. BIG! Super big!! Way, way bigger than you think they are. Have someone stand up against one and really take in the scale of it. Yeah. They’re big. I told you so.
2. The prints you get from your average photo printing big box super store are tiny. Yes. Super tiny. Even an 8×10, that ridiculous size of print that really shouldn’t even exist because it means cropping off the sides of your image (but don’t even get me started on that). It’s smaller than a piece of office paper. Have you ever thought about that? And people tend to think of it as a “big” print because it’s larger than the little 4x6s they are used to holding in their hands. Well I have news for you. Tack that baby up on the wall and stand back. It’s tiny. Even a 16×20 print (which most people think is GIANT) when hung alone on a wall is going to look puny.

So I knew that I either wanted one super gigantic print or a collection of smaller prints. Buying lots of frames for smaller prints would have been costly, but buying one large frame and large print would have been costly as well. I had the idea that maybe we could print out a large scale graphic on our home printer by tiling smaller prints (I remembered I had seen something similar on photojojo a while back) but I didn’t like the idea of having lots of overlapped seams in the prints. It just didn’t seem terribly elegant. So Ben and I decided we should space the images out with a 2 inch grid of white between the prints and tack them all up with silver pushpins. All we needed was an image that was worthy of covering our entire wall with.

Enter Ben’s genius idea – yellow wildflowers! These gorgeous (ok, they’re a weed but I still think they’re gorgeous) yellow wild mustard flowers COVER ever freeway embankment and hillside in Southern California from around March to sometime in the late spring. They just scream springtime and happiness and I knew they would be the perfect thing to bring some brightness to a dull beige room. This particular photo I used was one I shot while second shooting a wedding with my friend Crissy a few years ago. Obviously we didn’t want this lovely couple on our bedroom bigger than life size, so we just used the upper left corner of the image.

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We got a few hours into the project (printing it out in little sections on the home computer) when we realized two things. 1. it was going to take FOREVER and use an unbelievable quantity of ink and 2. it would actually be cheaper (we had already been through two full $25 color ink cartridges and were only 1/3 of the way done) and look way better to print it out on a large format plotter

So we scrapped the tiled image idea and instead formatted the image for the plotter. We printed it out in 5 sections of about 90 inches tall by 31 inches wide with a 1/2 inch overlap between the panels. In order to make hanging more manageable we decided to keep our grid of pushpins idea and place a silver pin every 10 inches along the wall, giving it an even and sort of “tufted sofa” look. We marked the location of each pin on our original file with a white dot so that there wouldn’t be any measuring involved in putting up the grid on the wall since they were already on the photograph. Here is what our file looked like ready to be printed.

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When the sheets came out of the plotter they each had a white band along one side and narrow strips of white at the top and bottom that needed to be trimmed off

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And then it was time to hang!

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Once all the pieces were up we took a few pictures

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But I still felt like the room wasn’t quite finished. So we made one last trip to Ikea for a few accessories. A white rug (since the carpet is such a blah shade of grey), some bright fabric to make into pillows to add a few pops of color (I LOVE the yellow I found that matches our bedspread), a couple of vases and a house plant. There’s just something nice about having a living plant in your home. We also decided to hang one print from our wedding on the opposite wall. One of my favorites from our awesome photographers Nate & Jaclyn Kaiser

And here is the finished product.

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Quite wonderful right?! I love it!

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Now instead of having a bedroom that is the leftover room in our house we have a bedroom that is the favorite room. I LOVE our room and I love spending time in it. It’s the perfect place to relax and read a book while the kids nap. We can now proudly keep the door open and we have a reason to keep it neat and tidy. I can’t believe we haven’t ever made ourselves a real bedroom before.

Our wonderfully yellow new room {decor}