Seasonal

Christmas Coffee Bar

Check out how we transformed our normal DIY coffee bar into a Christmas coffee bar for the holiday season.

Christmas Coffee Bar at Gray House Studio

Ever since the first Christmas after we built our DIY Coffee Bar in our breakfast nook, I have wanted to decorate it for Christmas. I wanted to create a custom holiday design for the large framed chalkboard, add lights, greenery, and display delicious winter time treats.

We had all these grand plans but could never find the time to actually make it happen. I do love how Christmas decorations make a home feel cozy and magical but honestly we are doing good just to get a Christmas tree up and decorated because it feels like the weeks in December fly by faster than any other month.

This year, even with a newly walking toddler who is on a mission to get into everything, we managed to decorate a Christmas coffee bar! I wanted our breakfast nook to feel like a dreamy little coffee shop during the holidays and it gives us all the cozy vibes.

How We Decorated a Christmas Coffee Bar

Christmas Coffee Bar at Gray House Studio
Christmas Coffee Bar at Gray House Studio

First, we gave our large framed chalkboard a makeover. Last you saw it, it was designed for our son’s lumberjack birthday party so we needed to give it a fresh look for the holidays.

I always design my chalkboard layouts on the computer first. It makes it easier and faster once the chalk gets involved because I am not as artistic off the computer as Brent. Brent of course did amazing work as always on the drawing in the middle.

I designed the art on the chalkboard to be a bit quirky and to display all the happenings and drinks available at Gray House Studio Coffee (also known as our breakfast nook) but I am thinking next year it could look cool to just have a large winter landscape.

Christmas Coffee Bar at Gray House Studio

S’mores are a total comfort food when the weather turns cold so we thought a little make your own s’more area would be a great addition to our Christmas coffee bar for when we have visitors stop by during the holidays.

Christmas Coffee Bar at Gray House Studio

I had planned on making a s’more display out of glass jars and wood but we just didn’t have any time to make it so I brainstormed to use we already had and realized my hardware bin lazy susan that was in the office could be a unique way to present the marshmallows, chocolate and gram crackers.

Christmas Coffee Bar at Gray House Studio

I put down some brown kraft paper in each of the bins, filled it with the treats and just like that the lazy susan turned into a magical rotating server of deliciousness. The industrial looks fits so well with the aesthetic of the coffee bar it might have just found a new home year around.

Christmas Coffee Bar at Gray House Studio
Christmas Coffee Bar at Gray House Studio

This decorative glass dome has been on our library shelf with a dead plant in it since a few weeks after our Better Homes and Gardens shoot (it was on the top shelf and I never thought to use the ladder to get up there and water it).

We decided to create a little whimsical snow scene inside the dome. We purchased the miniature trees, a small bag of fake snow and spray adhesive. We already had the string lights and the dome. The glass jar that the trees are sitting on is actually an old candle jar that I recycled just by cleaning out all the wax.

Christmas Coffee Bar at Gray House Studio
Christmas Coffee Bar at Gray House Studio
Christmas Coffee Bar at Gray House Studio

We picked up three of these cute little bear mugs at Target last year. The bear cub is still a little too young to drink hot chocolate but we are excited to start a family tradition of drinking hot chocolate out of our bear mugs during the holidays that he can join in on when he gets a little older.

Christmas Coffee Bar at Gray House Studio

We swapped our faux succulent plants for real poinsettias on the bottom shelf of the Christmas coffee bar.

Christmas Coffee Bar at Gray House Studio

Our table is pretty small in the breakfast nook so I kept it simple with a small centerpiece. We received this notneutral link vase set in our Better Homes & Gardens Stylemaker Event swag bag. We love their unique shape! They cool candle holder was also in that same bag.

Since there is pretty much no color in this space, I like the little pop of red the cranberry strand brings.

Christmas Coffee Bar at Gray House Studio

I how it turned out but thinking maybe next year we add more lights!

We got rid of my desk and no longer have a home office which means the small table in the breakfast nook is now not only where we eat all our meals but also where I try and get work done during the little guy’s nap time. Believe it or not we are spending way more time in this space then we ever have before which means it was priority number one when it came to decorating for Christmas.

Before you start getting the idea that we are on top of our game this year, I would like to clarify that the Christmas coffee bar is the only space we have decorated for Christmas this year. We still haven’t managed to get our tree up.

We do have all of our gifts already purchased and almost wrapped which is by far the earliest we have ever accomplished that goal. Here is to hoping we get a tree up to put them under by Christmas otherwise opening presents next to the Christmas coffee bar it is!

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Christmas Coffee Bar at Gray House Studio

RUSTIC CHRISTMAS MANTLE Decor

Rustic Christmas Mantel

This holiday season we are sharing our simple rustic Christmas mantle with greenery, berries and DIY wood trees we cut out of pine and cedar.

Rustic Christmas Mantel

We welcomed our son a little over two months ago so we have been living in baby town for the past 10 weeks. We are happy to report that while the blogging has been a little slow the past couple weeks, we are not only surviving but thriving with our new baby centered schedule.

Ha! Just kidding, we’re just barely surviving but we can’t complain. Life is hectic but awesome. We are so in love with our little Gray House intern. Boy, does he keep us busy!

I applaud those moms out there who have babies near Christmas and still manage to decorate a house full of beautiful Christmas decor and do all the normal Christmas time activities. I am unfortunately not that mom. Oh well, there is always next year.

We put up our Christmas tree in our library and decided to focus on our mantel this year. Our goal was to keep it very simple. We wanted to pick out and make a few new pieces to give our mantel a makeover for Christmas.

Rustic Christmas Mantel

Our first step was to build a fireplace mantel cover to go over our existing white mantel. We wanted one that would better match the wood plank wall in our reading nook. We purchased a 48″ wreath to hang above the mantel.

We bought the greenery from Hobby Lobby. We then added in strands of berries and little string lights to the garland.

Rustic Christmas Mantel

SOURCE LIST FOR RUSTIC CHRISTMAS Mantel

PRODUCTS PURCHASED

DIY PROJECTS

  • Wood Trees
  • Mantel Cover

DIY Wood Trees

We had been eyeing marble trees at Target to use on the fireplace mantel but we wanted quite a few. We couldn’t afford to buy eleven of the marble trees so we decided to make them out of wood instead. I am so glad we went in this direction because it fits with the rustic aesthetic much better and hardly cost us anything at all.

We have become big fans of cedar fence planks as a material for projects. Sometimes it takes a while to sort through the pile of cedar fence planks at the hardware store to find nice planks, but the color variation looks great and you can’t beat the price.

We made templates for the three different sized trees (download our template below) and cut them out using a jigsaw.

Rustic Christmas Mantel

FREE TEMPLATE

If you are interested in making your own DIY wood trees, feel free to download our template below.

Download Free DIY Wood Trees Templates

Download Free Wood Trees Template

Rustic Christmas Mantle
Rustic Christmas Mantel

We might not have went all out this year when it came to Christmas decor but sometimes shopping for Christmas decor overwhelms me so it was much easier to focus on one area of our home. A rustic Christmas mantel makeover was the perfect way to add a little coziness to our living room this winter.

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Rustic Christmas Mantel

DIY Wooden Easter Basket Decor

DIY Wooden Easter Basket Centerpiece

How to make a DIY Wooden Easter Basket filled with naturally dyed eggs.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket

Easter is right around the corner and one of my favorite traditions is Easter lunch with my family. My mom always sets a gorgeous table but this year I wanted to contribute something to the table setting (since we all know I can’t contribute much in the food department). I thought it would be nice to build an inexpensive DIY wooden Easter basket centerpiece and fill it with naturally dyed eggs to display in the middle of the table.

I completed this project in two parts over two days. The first day I was in the kitchen playing mad scientist trying to create the right solutions to get the perfect colors to naturally dye the eggs. The second day I was in the garage/shop playing builder making the wooden basket. Surprisingly, building the wooden basket went waaay faster than dying the eggs.

Part 1: Dying the Eggs

I haven’t dyed eggs in forever, since I was little but I saw so many pretty naturally dyed eggs done by other bloggers that I really wanted to give it a try. I am no expert when it comes to dying eggs, especially with food, in fact the only thing I am an expert in is making messes so if nothing else I knew that was going to be an outcome. But I had a Friday afternoon off and really wanted to play, I mean experiment in the kitchen.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
I followed the lead from a few other bloggers when it came to my Easter egg dying supplies. Red cabbage, turmeric, and blueberries seemed to be popular choices for dying solutions. I threw in grape juice in there just for the heck of it. Then of course I needed the eggs, vinegar and jars.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
First I boiled the eggs. I am kind of embarrassed to admit this but I had to look up how to do this. Thank you Google. Ha, I’m telling you I really don’t belong in the kitchen. But you never know if you never learn, right?

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
I transferred them to this colander that was my great-grandmothers to cool while I started making the solutions.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
I hoard almost empty candle jars so before this project began, I removed the wax left in the jars with boiling water, cleaned them up and then they became the perfect containers for the eggs to soak in. I labeled them with my favorite chalk tape so I could remember what solution I put in each jar.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
DIY Wooden Easter Basket
I am VERY good at making messes. Above is the proof. While I did have about a million dishes to clean, luckily I put down some white paper over the counters so I could just roll it up in a ball and throw it away making cleaning up a tiny bit easier.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
DIY Wooden Easter Basket
I let the eggs sit for about three hours and then I started to realize that some were getting a little more saturated than I expected or wanted. I removed the eggs from the blueberry jar, grape juice jar, turmeric jar and spinach jar.

The spinach ones didn’t turn out at all because I kind of used more lettuce from a left over salad than spinach…oops. Ha. So I made a second attempt at creating a green color. I mixed the left over blueberry solution and turmeric solution and let a few eggs soak in it overnight. I also left the red cabbage to soak in the refrigerator overnight.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
DIY Wooden Easter Basket

I wanted to build a wooden basket that was rustic and fill it with eggs that were colored with earthy tones. The colors turned out a little brighter than I expected, more like I collected them from my pet chicken that came straight out of a Skittles commercial, but oh well, they are still pretty.

My impromptu green solution worked really well. I got a really dark green. Almost too dark, so I mixed in a little red cabbage solution into the existing mixture and soaked two more eggs in it for about 15 minutes and it gave me the light green that I wanted.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
The eggs that soaked overnight in the refrigerator in the red cabbage mixture definitely gave the best color. And my mind is still blown that this pretty color came from red cabbage. I didn’t quite strain all the cabbage out well enough so some pieces of cabbage got stuck to the eggs while it was soaking but it created a cool pattern.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
The grape juice and vinegar mixture made for a really weird reaction on the egg shell. It turned gray, had raised spots and created a crackle texture. I think it looks totally awesome, like I created a dinosaur egg! (Who do I send my resume to at Jurassic Park?) Even though it did not make the cut to the Easter basket centerpiece, because let’s face it, it looks really ugly, it is one of my favorites because of how weird it turned out.

Part 2: Building the DIY Wooden Easter Basket

Once the eggs were drying, I was ready to start building the wooden basket. I wanted to spend zero dollars on this box so I rummaged through our scrap wood wheelbarrow looking for some pieces that would work. I decided I wanted the bottom part to look like a wooden crate but I wanted it to be long and narrow and I wanted a handle to make it look like a basket.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
For the bottom piece I used a scrap piece of markerboard hardboard left over from our vintage gym clock project. I used the table saw to cut it down to size so it would be the correct width and length to be the bottom of my box.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
I took a few pieces of scrap wood and cut the pieces down to the size I wanted and started to assemble it.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
I used a nail gun to attach the wood pieces to the bottom piece of hardboard and to each other to create the box. Brent just got his nail gun for Christmas so this was my first time using it. Whoa. To say it makes projects go so much faster is an understatement. I did not want to put it down. It made me feel so powerful.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
Once the bottom of the box was built, I cut the pieces for the handle.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
I used wood glue and clamps to attach the handle to the base of the wooden basket. After the glue dried, I stained the wooden basket.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
To avoid spending any money on the basket filler, I just ran a few pieces of various shades of brown colored construction paper through a paper shredder. I put a piece of cardboard in the basket and covered it with the shredded paper so the eggs would sit higher up in the basket,

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
DIY Wooden Easter Basket
DIY Wooden Easter Basket

Besides spending a few dollars on the eggs and food to dye them with, this project cost me pretty close to nothing and I am really happy with how it turned out. I like creating versatile pieces so after our DIY wooden Easter basket does it’s job as a centerpiece I will repurpose it and use it to hold plants on my mantle for the rest of spring.

DIY Wooden Easter Basket
DIY Wooden Easter Basket

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box Projects

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box

We built a rustic Christmas tree stand box as an alternative to a Christmas tree skirt.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box

About a week after we put up our Christmas tree and had it all decorated, we decided we wanted to do something different under the tree. I liked how our white tree skirt looked but was growing tired of how it showed every little thing that landed on it and it was always getting all crumpled up. Mostly because it is Jake the cat’s favorite pastime to lay under it and try and chew on the branches.

Brent’s reasoning is it reminds him of a poodle skirt. Okay… But he admits he hasn’t seen a poodle skirt in a long time. Which I then in return question how old he is that he remembers seeing a poodle skirt. I hope he is just referring to a Halloween costume and not when it was in style. Because then the only logical explanation for that would be he is a vampire. And that would be a bummer because I am not into vampires.

Anyway, we had seen a few examples of Christmas tree stand boxes and really liked how they looked under the tree. For one it would make the tree sit up a little higher and it would better hide our unappealing stand. We wanted it to have a rustic appearance to tie in with our rustic tree topper we got several years ago AND we wanted to put in on casters.

I joked with Brent that we could put it on casters so I could wheel it into each room I am in at the time. Which was met with an eye roll from Brent. But hey if the majority of our house is going to be covered in tile for the time being, I might as well take advantage of it around the holidays.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box

For more practical reasons it could be really helpful to have the tree on wheels when you are decorating so you can roll it out away from the wall to easily decorate all sides. Because whether we like to admit or not we have all accidentally fallen into the tree or at least had a really close call trying to reach around to to hang an ornament in that “perfect” spot. Then you can just gently roll it back against the wall when you are done.

Or if you are one of those lucky few that I have been reading about that have an entire closet dedicated to storing a Christmas tree, you can just wheel it right in with ease. Every December and January I am tempted to ditch the coat closet and turn it into a Christmas tree closet because I dread the tedious task of setting up and taking down the tree and the whole stuffing it back into the box part.

So this week we set out to build our own version of a rustic Christmas tree stand box. You can follow along with our project in the video below or the steps below that. We have also included the plans for our rustic Christmas tree stand box if you want to make your own.

VIDEO TUTORIAL

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SUPPLIES

MATERIALS

  • (2) Cedar 2×4 boards
  • (2) Cedar fence pickets
  • (2) Rigid casters
  • (2) Swivel casters
  • 2 1/2 in. Decking screws
  • 1 in. Wood screws
  • 1 1/2 in. Finishing nails
  • Large wooden snowflakes (optional)
TOOLS

  • Miter saw
  • Table saw
  • Drill
  • Staple gun (or hammer)
  • Tape measure

FREE PLANS

If you are interested in making your own rustic Christmas tree stand box, feel free to download our plans below.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box

Download Free Tree Stand Plans

HOW TO MAKE A Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box
1. My first step was to measure our existing tree stand to determine the size of our box. I took that measurement and using a tape measure marked the width on two cedar 2×4 boards. It is a good idea to give yourself a little extra padding to make sure your stand will fit all the way in the box. Using a miter saw, I cut the two cedar boards to the size we needed.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box
2. Once I had them cut, at the ends of the boards I measured and marked the center. Using that mark as a reference I cut off the corners of the board at a 45 degree angle. This created an arrow shape on both ends of the board. I did this for both boards.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box
These pieces formed the corners of our box.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box
3. Next, Brent marked the center of each of these boards and used a square to draw a line on the top and sides of the boards indicating how the boards needed to fit together at a 90 degree angle.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box
4. Using two 2 1/2 inch decking screws, Brent attached the two boards together.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box
5. Using the extra piece of cedar 2×4, I cut four smaller pieces at a 45 degree angle.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box
6. Using the same 2 1/2 inch decking screws, Brent attached the small pieces I cut to the ends of each board to make all the corners of the box the same height.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box
Now we had our x base assembled.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box
7. Next, Brent used the miter saw to cut the cedar fence planks down to the length we needed in order to create the frame of the box.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box
8. I wanted the planks on the side of the box to be more narrow to Brent used a table saw to cut each piece in half.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box
9. Brent used a staple gun that holds 1 1/2 inch finishing nails to attach all the planks to the base and also a center support. To achieve the look we were going for we alternated between using light and dark planks.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box
10. Once the box was completed, Brent flipped it over and attached casters to the bottom using 1 inch screws. We used two different types of casters, swivel casters on the back and rigid casters on the front.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box
11. For an extra special touch we added wooden snowflakes to the front and back of the box.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box
Here is our completed rustic Christmas tree stand box on casters!

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box

We are so happy with how it turned out. It was a very quick Christmas decor project that not only makes a statement on its own but also goes great with our rustic star tree topper. Maybe next year we will branch out and create some rustic ornaments we can add. Hopefully we will get an earlier start decorating next year.

If you already have the situation under the tree covered, this box could also make for a cute storage solution for blankets.

Check out more of simple Christmas decor DIY projects.

Finally, I leave you with this piece of advice. If at all possible put the tree in the box before you decorate it. Because inevitably when you lift up the tree to put it in the box those nice glass ornaments that precariously hang on the tiny branches will fall off and will shatter into a million pieces when they hit the hard tile.

And your heart will break just a little.

Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box

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Rustic Christmas Tree Stand Box

Fall DIY Front Porch Projects Decor

4 Fall DIY Front Porch Projects

Fall DIY Front Porch Projects

I am lighting my favorite fall scented candle (leaves from Bath & Body Works) today because it is officially autumn! This time last year Brent and I visited Boston and my favorite part was to see all the leaves changing colors on the trees, they were gorgeous! I wanted to pack up all the foliage in my suitcase and bring it home with me since it usually takes awhile to see and feel fall outside here in Houston.

I love autumn but Brent and I have never been big on decorating for the seasons. One reason is lack of budget and another reason is a lack of storage. We just don’t have enough space to store decor for spring, summer, winter and fall. However, we have this great covered front porch that is spacious and we like to spend a lot of time on in the cooler months and I mean who doesn’t love a porch decorated for fall?

We wanted to bring fall to our front porch this year so we got to thinking and came up with four fall DIY front porch projects that included the following criteria.

Inexpensiveprojects that would allow us to use the free decor from nature laying around in our yard
Easy to storeprojects that didn’t include a lot of pieces and could lay flat
OR
Can effortlessly transitionprojects that we could use for the next season or recycle for another project

Here are the nature inspired DIY front porch projects we came up with.

1. Leaf-Shaped Doormat

Fall DIY Front Porch Projects

The first thing we made was a fall themed custom shaped doormat for our doorstep. This one is inexpensive and easy to create so it was a no brainer. Plus, it lays flat so it should be easy to wrap in plastic and store under a bed if it is still in good condition by the end of the season. If not, the doormat only cost us $10 so it wouldn’t be a huge loss if it gets a lot of love and needs to be tossed by the time December rolls around.

We purchased our plain doormat from IKEA and decided to cut out a maple leaf shape. Because we live down here in Texas we spray painted the saying “It’s Fall Y’all” onto it. Sure, it is a little corny but that way when we walk out the door our doormat can remind us that despite the temperature, it is in fact fall.

Whether you have a huge front porch or live in an apartment with just a doorstep, this is a great way to bring a little fall or Halloween decor to your outside entry.

To see how to make this project, check out our full tutorial on our custom shaped doormats.

2. Cedar Picket Pumpkins

Fall DIY Front Porch Projects

Our next project to tackle was to make a pair of rustic pumpkins out of cedar dog-ear wood fence pickets. This is another extremely inexpensive project because each piece of fence costs around $2 and each pumpkin only needs one fence picket. It was really quick to make as well because we dug around the stack of fence pickets at the hardware store until we found two that had the deepest natural orange shade so we didn’t even have to paint them!

We wanted two pumpkins that were different heights so for the taller pumpkin Brent cut the picket in half to create two pieces that were the same length. For the shorter pumpkin he cut three pieces the same length. Then for the piece that had the corners cut off he cut it in half vertically and placed each piece on the outside of the middle board(s) for each pumpkin.

To attach the boards together, Brent cut a strip of 1/8 inch masonite the width of the pumpkin and screwed through the masonite into each picket with 1/2 inch screws. He created the stems by cutting a scrap piece of wood into trapezoids and then painted them with watered down green paint. He attached the stem to the pumpkin with a 3/4 inch screw.

They are flat so they would also be easy to store under a bed or because we did nothing to the wood, we could recycle and use it for another project such as making a box or a tray.

3. Natural Leaf and Branch Door Hanging

Fall DIY Front Porch Projects

For our third project we were in search of an alternative to a traditional fall wreath for our front door. We decided to make a natural leaf and branch door hanging. This one cost us around $12 only because we couldn’t find any leaves outside I liked where we lived. We don’t have the best looking leaves in our yard so we opted to buy some silk leaves from the craft store. You could use also paint leaves from outside or make paper leaves.

To make it we used a branch off one of our trees that we had just trimmed and cut it down to fit our door. Then we used a needle to thread fishing line though the leaves. We varied the lengths of the strands of the leaves and situated the individual leaves in different positions to give the appearance that they were falling and to create visual interest.

For the bottom leaf on each strand we positioned a washer between two leaves so that it would hold the weight of the strands of leaves down and prevent them from blowing around and getting tangled. We attached each line of leaves to the branch with thumb tacks.

I love this project because it looks like the leaves are just floating on my front door. To store this one I will most likely pull off the silk leaves, washers and thumb tacks and store them in a plastic bag and discard the branch. That way I don’t have to store the entire thing and I can start fresh next season with a new branch and create a new pattern.

4. Fall Crate Display

Fall DIY Front Porch Projects

We wanted to create a display on our porch where we could pull together a few additional decor items into a place with purpose. Using crates to give varying heights allowed us to incorporate a variety of items.

The three crates cost us $30 so they were definitely the most expensive item we purchased for these projects but the beauty of them is they can easily transition with each season by just switching out the back panels we created and adding different natural decor and seasonal flowers.

The majority of the items we put in and on the crates we already had around the house such as the lantern and the green tin. We picked up some new plants and some hay to finish the look.

To see how to make this project, check out our full tutorial on our fall crate display.

Fall DIY Front Porch Projects

We completed all of our fall DIY porch projects on one Sunday afternoon and now our entry way is ready for fall!

Gray House Studio on Great Day Houston

Fall DIY Front Porch Projects

We had the fun opportunity to share these fall DIY front porch projects on Great Day Houston last week. It was our first time on TV and it was live so we were a little nervous but host Deborah Duncan is so sweet and fun and we had a blast spending the morning at the studio. If you missed it live or don’t live in Houston, you can watch via the link below to see and hear more about our do-it-yourself fall decorations.

Watch our DIY segment on Great Day Houston

Fall Crate Display Decor

Fall Crate Display

Create a fall crate display perfect to showcase fall decor inside or on the front porch!

Fall Crate Display

Even though you can’t tell by the weather here in Houston (Is it sad that when it gets to be about 96 degrees we say it feels good outside?) fall is fast approaching.

This year we decided to get a jump on the season and create a few DIY fall decor projects for our front porch. So when those cooler temperatures finally reach us way down here in Houston, we will be ready.

The first project we are going to share with you today is our Fall Crate Display. This is a really simple decor project to create and customize and can be set up anywhere from on your porch to in front of your fireplace.

Plus, it transitions well with the seasons so with just a little switching out it can become a winter crate display.

HOW TO Create a Fall Crate Display

Fall Crate Display
1. We bought three crates from the hardware store for around $10 a piece. The ones we bought came in unfinished pine.

You can have as many crates as you like in your display depending on the amount of decor pieces you intend to add. You can even incorporate different sizes of crate to create interesting shapes.

Fall Crate Display
2. The next step was to stain the crates to give them a more high end feel. We used our favorite Kona color stain. I must warn you that staining these crates was a pain and very time consuming.

Since they are pallet crates there were so many nooks and crannies I had to get the stain into that it took me forever. It is not a hard task, just a tedious one.

Fall Crate Display
3. But once I was done it was worth it. We didn’t bother to stain the bottom of the crates and I will explain why in the next step.

Depending on the look you are going for you can rough up and weather the wood or even add a graphic or text to make it look like a vintage crate.

Fall Crate Display
4. We decided to take it a step further. To transform the crates into a cohesive display and add in more color to this set up we cut three pieces of scrap wood to fit inside and cover the bottom of the crates.

When we flipped the crates on their sides these boards would be the background. There are endless possibilities in what you can do to create cool backgrounds. We decided to stick with simple backgrounds and paint them with mute fall colors that would work well from the middle of September all the way through the end of November.

Fall Crate Display
5. We chose to go with subtle shades of yellow, orange and red. It just so happened that we had these sample paint colors from when we painted our brick wall. At the time we had no idea those colors would make for the perfect rustic fall colors.

You won’t need much paint for these boards so inexpensive cans of sample paint are the way to go. I just poured some paint onto a piece of cardboard and rolled in onto my scrap pieces of wood that would become my crate back.

Fall Crate Display
6. Once the painted pieces of wood dried, we secured them to the bottom of the crate with foam tape. We did this to make sure they were secured well enough to the back that they wouldn’t fall off but weren’t on permanently so we could switch them out for the next season.

Fall Crate Display
7. Next, we arranged and rearranged them until we found the best combination that would fit our decor pieces.

I tilted the crate that sits on top of the other crate at a slight angle to allow for more surface space so the items could spill out of the bottom of top crate onto the top of the bottom crate.

Fall Crate Display
8. The last part is the fun part! To decorate our fall crate display we mixed traditional fall decor items such as pumpkins and a burlap banner with natural elements such as pine cones, acorns and leaves (which depending on your location you can find just laying around outside).

Adding flowers and plants is always a must for our front porch so we paired pretty colored mums with the more unique looking Croton plant.

Adding some hay to the bottom of the crates adds some texture, defines the bottom of the crate, breaks up the dark color of the crates and definitely gives it that authentic barn feel (and smell).

We have a lot of warm tones going on so we mixed in some contrasting color like shades of blue in the flower pot and tins to really make them pop. We have learned you don’t always have to buy a bunch of new pieces but can re-purpose things you may have sitting around somewhere else.

For this display we incorporated a lantern and tin we had sitting around inside to give it a rustic/barn feeling. When styling the crates we always try to pair taller items with shorter pieces to maximize space without making it look overcrowded.

What we love about this fall crate display is it creates a purposeful space for arranging and showcasing fall decor pieces on our front porch. The beauty of it is with just a switch of the back piece of wood and decor items it can effortlessly transition from a rustic fall look to a rustic winter look come December.

Looking for more fall inspiration? Check out these easy DIY fall porch decor projects or how to throw a fall party!

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Fall Crate Display

Fireworks Photo Booth party

Fireworks Photo Booth

Fireworks Photo Booth

Happy 4th of July weekend! Who is ready to see some fireworks? Speaking of fireworks, have you ever found it difficult to time the perfect photo op in front of fireworks?

Brent and I had an entertaining and silly time tonight creating an excellent and easy solution, a fireworks video photo booth! This would be a great addition to any 4th of July party. It creates a patriotic atmosphere, you never have to worry about missing that perfect pose in front of the fireworks and you don’t even have to leave your backyard!

Fireworks Photo Booth

Instead of having a static photo backdrop we created a video backdrop. We used a laptop with a fireworks video playing, a projector and a white piece of fabric. Our backyard has these huge trees so we took advantage of them and strung the white fabric between two trees and then placed the projector playing the video behind the sheet so it rear projected the laptop screen onto the fabric. We had all these items on hand so this was a very inexpensive project but we think it is unique and will bring lots of enjoyment to a party.

The fun thing about the video backdrop is you can take static photos or quick little Instagram videos with the fireworks going off behind you and nobody would ever know the difference. At the end of the night if you are too tired to leave your house to go to a fireworks show, just pull your lawn chair up and oooh and ahhh over this prerecorded fireworks display. It all pretty much looks the same anyway.

Fireworks Photo Booth
^^^ Having patriotic props on hand is a must.

Fireworks Photo Booth
Here was our set up. In order to see the projection it must be dark out which can cause the subjects posing in front of the backdrop to be only silhouettes so our solution was to add two lights in front of the fabric. We covered the lights with colored plastic so they wouldn’t be too bright and wash out everything and would also add a nice color effect. We placed cardboard on the side of the light facing towards the projection so it would block the light from shining on the fabric.

Fireworks Photo Booth

*In the effort for full disclosure, this was our first attempt at creating a photo booth with a video backdrop (at night none the less) and we needed to practice getting the set-up right. So here we are, just the two of us, on the 2nd of July in our backyard at 10:00 at night posing in front of our fake fireworks and having way too much fun with it. I’m 99.9% positive our neighbors think we are crazy.

But we are super excited to use our fireworks photo booth for real at our 4th of July party this weekend!

Handmade Father's Day Gift Organization

Handmade Grill Supplies Box

How we built a handmade grill supplies box for both of our dads for Father’s Day gifts to store and organize their grill tools and supplies.

Handmade Grill Supplies Box

Summer is right around the corner and that means pool parties, grilling, and Father’s Day are fast approaching! This year we crafted a handmade Father’s Day gift for the dads in our lives that love to cook out on the grill. We designed and built our own custom handmade grill supplies box.

Over the years I started to notice that my dad always had to take multiple trips in and out of the house to collect all of the supplies he needed for the grill. I saw this as a bit of a hassle because my dad loves hosting summer pool parties but he was spending a lot of his time running inside to grab a plate, seasonings or a spatula rather than enjoying the party with his guests.

We thought it would be really handy if there were a simple wood box to store grilling utensils, seasonings, foil, a pan and even a bottle opener in one easy to carry container. It was actually harder than we thought to find what we were envisioning this box would look like.

There are a plethora of tackle boxes for fishing gear out there and a wide variety of toolboxes for organizing and storing tools but it turns out storage containers for grill supplies are not really a thing. If they are, we could’t find them.

Handmade Grill Supplies Box

So we made our own. This was really fun because we could design it to look and function however we thought would best fit a griller’s needs. We modeled the exterior of our grill box after a vintage toolbox but needed to adapt the inside to fit the shape of the grill utensils and supplies.

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HANDMADE GRILL SUPPLIES BOX FEATURES

Handmade Grill Supplies Box

THE GRILL SUPPLIES BOX INCLUDES:

slots for tongs, spatula and grilling fork, plenty of space for a variety of seasonings, a bottle opener on the side of the box, roll of aluminum foil on a dowel rod and mounted metal tear strip for easy cutting, a special opening to store a meat thermometer and a pan attached to the bottom of the box.

Handmade Grill Supplies Box
Handmade Grill Supplies Box
My favorite part (which was Brent’s idea) is how we added hinges on the front and back of the box so a normal sized baking pan could attach to the bottom. This way they always have a plate to carry all their grilled items at their fingertips.

All they have to do is rip off a piece of foil from inside the box; line the pan with it and they are ready to go serve all the delicious items they cooked up!

Handmade Grill Supplies Box
Handmade Grill Supplies Box
We wanted to build a sturdy box for our dads that could be a practical spot for them to store all their grill supplies and an easy way to carry it all out to the grill. That way they can spend more time outside enjoying the party with friends and family rather than running around trying to gather all their grilling necessities.

Handmade Grill Supplies Box
A host should have a good time at their own party!

Handmade Grill Supplies Box
The cool thing about the grill supplies box is whether they are just walking to the grill in their own backyard or taking it on a camping trip, they can be sure their supplies will fit nice and neat and will be readily accessible.

Brent and I hope our handmade Father’s day gift makes our dads’ lives just a little bit easier because after all they have done for us, it is the least we can do.

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Handmade Grill Supplies Box

PROJECT FEATURED ON DOMINO.COM

We were excited and honored to have our handmade grill supplies box and the story behind this Father’s Day gift featured on domino.com. Click the read story link below to learn more about this project.

a diy father’s day gift idea

A thoughtful gift for the Dad who loves to grill.

Read Story

Simple Christmas Decorations Projects

Simple Christmas Decorations

Simple White and Silver Rustic Christmas Tree 2014

This weekend we finally broke out the Christmas decorations and decorated our home for Christmas! When it comes to decorating for Christmas we tend to keep it pretty simple around here. The less you put up, the less you have to take down come January, right? Also, this is the first Christmas we have really decorated our home and what decorations filled up an apartment don’t quite fill up a house but we are okay with that. We plan on adding one or two new pieces that we really like each year.

Decorating a Christmas tree with white and silver ornaments
Last year we put up the Christmas tree in our living room where our nook is now so we decided to move it to our front room that currently has nothing in it. This location is nice because we can open up the windows and it can bee seen from outside. Bonus… we don’t have to worry about the cat knocking off the ornaments and them breaking on the tile.

Planning a Craft Cabinet
There is something I love about a monochromatic tree. We opt for white lights, white and silver ornaments and a white tree skirt. It just feels so simple, cozy and warm. In the past I became quickly frustrated when I couldn’t get the lights exactly right, the ornaments perfectly spaced or the tree fluffed so there were no empty spaces but over the years I have relaxed and don’t worry so much about perfection but just enjoy the process of decorating the tree.

white snowflake ornament
^ My favorite ornament.

Rustic Christmas Tree Topper
^ I (Courtney) found our tree topper about four years ago. I love how it has a more natural look integrating the branches and berries. It ties perfectly into our rustic/winter decorating theme we have going.

Rustic tree topper
But I have to admit that tree topper is a beast to try and get on up there. I am so glad Brent now handles the struggle that is putting the topper on the tree. I may or may not have fallen into the tree in past years trying to get that thing wrapped around the top branches.

Wood Nativity Scene Family Heirloom
I love incorporating pieces that have special meaning into our decor like this Nativity Scene that was given to my parents as a gift the first Christmas after they were married. It has sentimental value and fits perfectly with our style.

Fireplace Mantle Christmas Decorations
For our mantle this year, we kept a lot of our every day pieces and mixed in some rustic winter decor such as evergreen garland, small led string lights, a burlap runner, mason jars with fresh evergreen, berries and baby’s breath and of course pinecones!

DIY Christmas Wine Bottle Vases
Our DIY Christmas project this year were these Christmas vases made from recycled wine bottles.

Paint Wine Bottles for vases
^ First, we painted three wine bottles white.

Use stickers or paint letters on bottles
^ My brother has a vinyl cutter plotter so I asked him to cut me the letters j,o,y and snowflakes stickers at the appropriate size. I have seen where you can paint the letters on but I don’t have a steady hand when it comes to painting and stickers were so much easier. I like the look of silver letters because they are subtle and match our tree.

Applied Stickers to Wine Bottles
^ Next, I just stuck the letters on the bottles. That part was super easy!

Add the winter plants
^ The final step was to add the evergreen, berries and baby’s breath.

Decorating the Christmas Tree
^ The decorating festivities would not be complete without hot chocolate!

Merry Christmas from Gray House Studio

We would love to hear how you decorate your home for Christmas and the holidays. Do you have a specific theme or color scheme when it comes to Christmas decorations? Do you have pieces that have sentimental value that you put up every year? Share with us in the comments.