Art That Matters

When I started the One Room Challenge, I didn’t have a concrete plan for the art in the boys room. My only requirement was that all the art have personal significance, which is usually my criteria for hanging art. That leaves the options pretty wide open! I could do art related to their hobbies, our family, books they love, favorite animals, landscapes, or anything else I could think of that meant something to at least one of the boys.


My initial idea was to make the large statement art piece a map. Specifically, a vintage map that included the Bar Harbor, Maine waterways on it, since our favorite vacation spot is just off the coast on Swans Island. I looked EVERYWHERE for a vintage map. They were all too large, too small, didn’t include Swans Island, weren’t a great color combo, or were EXPENSIVE. So I moved on to other ideas.


One idea was to print a photo we had taken on vacation, but I wanted to explore all my other possibilities first. I was very close to pulling the trigger on a sailboat watercolor from an etsy seller (giving a nod to our favorite oceanside vacation spot). But then was torn between the sailboat and a cool image of the Red Sox Stadium (both boys LOVE baseball), so didn’t purchase either.

In the end, I decided a slightly moody landscape from our vacation on Swans Island was the right choice. The sailboat would have felt too immature in a couple years, while this landscape will work in a toddler or teenagers room, and can even be moved into the main living spaces if the boys get tired of it.


Tip: I had the photo printed as an indoor banner, instead of a poster, and it cost less than half what it would have for a 20x26 poster, coming in at only $12.

I considered buying a new frame, but decided to use one I had. The frame itself has significance, as it used to hold a charcoal sketch my great-grandmother drew. The charcoal sketch is a prized piece of artwork to me, but the mat and sketch had warped over the years, and need re-framing. So I rolled up the sketch until I have $ to reframe it, and used the vintage frame for the boys landscape. As it was an odd sized frame, I had a custom mat cut. I also had the poster dry-mounted to foam board, so the poster won’t warp.


This landscape is one of my very favorite things in the room… but so are a lot of other things. I have a long list of “favorites!”

Not all the art in the room is high impact, but is just as special.

These paint by number birds were a thrift store purchase several years ago that my son fell in love with. They got freshened up with new matted frames for $8 from Walmart. The boys love to look out our sunroom windows and watch the birds in the spring, so now it’s spring in their room year round!


The timeframe for the One Room Challenge corresponded to my artist niece participating in “Ink-tober,” and she graciously agreed to dedicate the “Chop” and “Stretch” themed days to the boys. “Chop” became a Ninja for my 7 year old, and “Stretch” a cat for my now 4 year old, after they requested those two images for their bedside art. Framed in clear glass and brass frames, these pieces will eventually go with the boys when they grow up and move out (sniff, sniff).


My older son asked for a way to display art that they create, so I initially planned to hang a couple pictures over each door in quick frames. As I neared the end of the Challenge, though, I started to think it would be too much to have art over the exit door with the bookshelf, kitchen, and landscape already on that wall. At the same time, I wanted to provide more space than just a couple frames for the boys to use. The waterfall of frames was born out of those two design challenges, and makes me smile every time I’m in their room. I purchased a variety of quick frames from Walmart, and cut out paper the size of each frame that I could tape up to figure out the arrangement I wanted on the wall. I ended up using exactly the frames I had bought, so that was one project that actually didn’t require return trips to the store!


Outside of the boys room, my very favorite art pieces in our home are paintings by my grandmother, a drawing by my niece, and an I-phone photo snapped at a baseball game. Not only are they timeless, but each has a significance that couldn’t be replaced for any amount of money.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with liking a piece of art in a store or gallery, and buying it to hang on your wall. Something off the shelf can absolutely have meaning! But personally, I like to try to think a little outside the box for artwork. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to have meaning, and guarantees that your art is one of a kind.

Veni, Vidi, Vici!

Week 6!!! The Whimsical Boys Room is COMPLETE!!! Somehow I actually finished on Monday, so I had a minute to catch my breath after sewing until midnight three nights running.

For anyone new to my blog or the One Room Challenge, it is a biannual decor and design event that takes place every spring and fall. This Fall 2018 Challenge marks its fourteenth season! Each Challenge there are 20 designers selected to transform a space, and they document their progress every Wednesday for 6 weeks. In addition, anyone with a blog can take part as a Guest Participant. Each Thursday the guests post links to their progress, inspiring and encouraging others as they participate. And that’s me, a Guest Participant! I made over my boys shared bedroom, giving it a touch of whimsey and lots of function.

Remember the tragic “Before” pictures? It was pretty much a dump-and-run situation. Holy Tornado, Batman!


And now the “After”…


I’m not sure exactly what I expected from the One Room Challenge. Besides the obvious, I mean, which is having one room in our house be absolutely and completely finished. But I feel like there have been some added benefits that I didn’t anticipate. I have grown as a decorator and photographer, and gained confidence in my ability to work with a deadline. I’ve been reminded how much I enjoy mixing colors and patterns, using power tools, and incorporating as many personally significant details as I can into a room.

There have been a lot of “best” parts of participating in the One Room Challenge. Watching the boys play in their new room is definitely one of them!


Lots more blog posts to come about the Whimsical Boys Room! I’ll share details about the art, pillows and other textiles, bedding, KALLAX bookcase, and more. Stick around, lots more goodies to come! Many thanks to Linda at the One Room Challenge for creating an amazing event that showcases so many wonderful designs. Check out all of the Featured Designers and Guest Participants at the link below.


As for what else is coming down the pike… lots of decor, staging, and more. Plus I’m already looking forward to the next One Room Challenge, coming up in Spring 2019. So stick around, I’m not going anywhere!

Much Ado About Tassels

This past week has flown by! I’m sure everyone participating in the One Room Challenge would say the same. But glory hallelujah, I’m done making tassels! The final total was 210, a little short of the 4 million it felt like.

For any new readers, the One Room Challenge is a biannual decor and design event that takes place every spring and fall. This Fall 2018 Challenge marks its fourteenth season! Each Challenge there are 20 designers selected to transform a space, and they document their progress every Wednesday for 6 weeks. In addition, anyone with a blog can take part as a Guest Participant. Each Thursday the guests post links to their progress, inspiring and encouraging others as they participate. And that’s me, a Guest Participant! I’m making over my boys shared bedroom, giving it a touch of whimsey and lots of function.

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When I was planning the room makeover, I decided to keep the existing curtains. They are IKEA blackout curtains, and they truly transform the room from daylight to night at nap time. Any mom of young kids knows the value of a good blackout curtain! But the panels were …. super boring. I thought about giving them a tailored look with grosgrain ribbon in a sophisticated grid, but that just didn’t quite fit. But TASSELS! Totally fit the whimsical vibe. (Remember this moodboard?? There were some changes, but it’s still the “gist.”)

I priced out tassels, both individually or on a strip, at craft stores, Walmart, and on Amazon. For what I wanted, the price would be a minimum of $75, or as high as $200!!!

* gulp *

Given that the pre-made options were crazy expensive and didn’t come in the exact colors I wanted, I decided to make them.

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I found a simple tassel kit at Walmart for $4. It comes with three wooden tassel forms, and you just wrap / tie the tassels on the form per the handy instructions that come with the kit. I chose to use a relatively thin crochet thread from Hobby Lobby in three different greens. Be aware that the thread weight will greatly impact how long the tassels take to make! I knew I wanted the look a thin thread would give, so went ahead with it. I used the smallest form from the kit and made two inch tassels. The total cost for all my supplies was in the ballpark of $12.

208 does not sound like that many tassels. BUT IT IS. I actually made 210, but then had 2 left over. I watched a LOT of Suits episodes while I wrapped tassels. I suppose this week is brought to you by Amazon Prime Video. Except not really because I don’t have any sponsors. But I definitely BINGED Suits! And ate a lot of chocolate. There is way too much chocolate readily available this time of year.


I even took my tassel making on the road. I went away with friends for a weekend getaway Friday - Sunday, and I tasseled in the car! I think I got a total of about 20 made while driving (I mean my friend was driving), so not sure it was really worth it…


Congrats to me for thinking up the MOST TIME CONSUMING PROJECT EVER. Sewing on 208 individual tassels is no joke. 52 tassels per panel, split into 26 per edge. But look! All that work was worth it! I decided to mount the tassels on the front of the curtain, rather than hanging off the edge, and love the visibility and movement.

These curtains came with IKEA pleating tape already sewn on, so hanging them is incredibly easy, and it gives them a tailored look. If you have curtains without pleating tape IKEA sells it for $4.99 (3” x 122”).


A couple years ago I was in Goodwill when I spotted a set of two bird paint-by-number paintings. For $1 each! I snatched those up, and they have been sitting gathering dust ever since. I didn’t know if the boys really cared to have them in their room, so I asked my 7 year old.

“I TREASURE those paintings!”


Two $9 frames from Walmart later, they are finally hanging right where they belong. Can’t argue with “treasure!” I think I have a thing for paint-by-numbers. In moderation! Our younger girls have one in their room as well, and it’s in my top #5 out of the art in our home.


This next week is going to be a whirlwind! I’m finishing the KALLAX unit tomorrow, finalizing art, sewing pillow covers, and creating the ceiling installation. Chaos, but FUN! Add in a couple consults and I’m going to be RUNNING for the next week. All good things, and I love to be busy!


Don’t forget to check out the Featured Designers and the other Guest Participants by clicking on the link below! And for more frequent updates, be sure to follow Dawson Interiors on Instagram and Facebook.