A few weeks ago I opened a special package in this very room. I knew it would be coming, an early copy of Amanda Soule's new book Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures, but it's arrival still felt terribly exciting. I settled in with Emily, right on that sofa pictured above, as we poured through the many beautiful pages... my keys were still in hand as we were literally walking out the door to pick blueberries just as the mail arrived that day!
We've been enjoying this treasure of a book ever since. Emily was naturally drawn to the cozy, colorful photos and many craft ideas, of course I was too! But my mind keeps going to a few different places with this book as well. Like Amanda, and like so many of you, our home is central to our life. Tending to our nest and making it a warm and beautiful place to land, away from the hectic world, is some of my greatest work in life. Maintaining the soul and rhythm of our family is a great privilege. So when a book like this comes along, and celebrates so many of the home arts, while emphasizing reusing, recycling, and sometimes even going without (gasp!), it will certainly hold a permanent place on our library shelf, and will of course be taken off the shelf quite often to make lovely things for our home!
The first project in the book that caught my eye, was the unbelievably perfect and functional use of the pretty handkerchiefs that we thrifters (and lucky grandchildren) love to collect. With our house going on the market very soon, the sprucing up of a few window treatments was just the right project to start with. And my goodness, I am so glad I did.
This Handkerchief Curtain came together so easily, and the pretty factor for the time involved, start to finish, tips the scales (rather severely) towards the "make six more of these now!" direction... maybe that's not such a bad place to be.
I also knew immediately, upon first glance, that the Art and Hooks Rack was a project we needed to make. And here is where I pay huge measures of appreciation to Amanda for the permission that she gives readers. There is a very deliberate mantra throughout this book that reminds you to "use what you have... make it your own..."
The yogi and yoga teacher in me loves some good permissive language! In the end, our version looks different than the one in the book (pg. 109), but that's okay. This version worked for us for a few reasons...
The hooks. When we purchased our home 5 years ago (a 1922 Arts and Crafts Bungalow), every closet and corner was filled with these incredible, high quality wire hooks of a very heavy gauge. In total there must have been at least 40! As part of those early renovations, we removed every single one of them and repainted their cute selves, then re-hung them in places throughout the house that suited our family's needs. And yes, we had many little holes that required a proper filler, sanding, and repainting... it was worth it and part of the thrill of renovating your own house. Anyway, the hooks... knowing we will be moving from this house soon, we thought, "maybe we could just take a few of those with us... we love them so much!" We were happy to put them to use here.
And the wood? Well, that came from a recently dismantled lemonade stand that was the rock star of all lemonade stands. Adam built it for Emily when she was just shy of four years old. It was made one Thanksgiving Day when she walked her little self up to him early in the day and asked if he could please make her a lemonade stand... she wanted to serve our guests from it when they arrived later. So, putting aside the day's rituals of football games and salty snacks, he spent hours outside constructing what was indeed the most perfect of all lemonade stands.
We made the decision recently to carefully dismantle it (Emily is now much too tall for it), and use the beautiful old barn boards in other meaningful ways. This was the perfect place to start. I couldn't bring myself to paint the wood though, we chose to leave it natural.
We did add our child's artwork, which is the most important feature of this project! It was also a wonderful way to feature some of Emily's art, which has taken some really unique twists and turns lately and we are thoroughly enjoying watching her process. I am in love with so many aspects of her drawing, but those bangle bracelets she's been putting on many of her girls lately... they make me smile every time.
Oh! Did I mention that I had nothing to do with this one? Adam and Emily worked together to create this and it couldn't be more perfect. Remember when I shared my cousin's wedding that was featured on Design Sponge? That little handbag was made by one of Heather's groovy and talented Brooklyn friends, and was won by Emily at Heather's bridal shower. If I remember correctly, many, if not all of the prizes that day were handmade. Emily still loves it Heather!
The background in the photo is the Embroidered Patchwork Picnic Set, made by Amanda, loved (and used heavily!) by us...
Millie's Hot Pad is next on my list, my supplies are gathered. Amanda mentions in the book how she loves the sweet, petite size of these hot pads. She has one (that was the inspiration behind this pattern) from her Grandmother and thought best that she try and make a few that were similar before she wore this one precious hot pad out entirely! I was reminded of two pot holders that I have in the very same style, and barely use for fear of ruining them... one is packed away (the prettiest one), and one is shown in the photo above (which is still very cute!). I've got just the right assortment of vintage cotton pictured here that I've been collecting for a little while. When I have a little money sitting around in my paypal account, my weakness is late night vintage fabric shopping on Etsy... I suppose there are more damaging things a girl can do with her time. ;)
I am so in love with this book. We all lay our head down somewhere each night, this is home to each of us. Whether we rent, own, have five children or none, we each have a nest and we each have an earth that would really appreciate our walking lightly on each day. Handmade Home shows us many ways to look at everyday and occasional items that we use in our homes, to stop and consider whether the item could be made by our own hands rather than purchased brand new, and whenever possible, to gather the materials necessary right from the corners of our home, a tag sale, or a thrift shop close by.
The two projects that we made from Handmade Home required nothing more than a walk around our own home to gather supplies, and a lovely afternoon of crafting for our family. Quite a simple investment for the beauty and function we were rewarded with!
An Interview and a Giveaway!!
To add to the fun, I recently had the pleasure of talking with Amanda about her new book and other yummy things. You can read that interview on her blog today, but before you go, make sure to enter the drawing for one of TWO copies of Handmade Home!
Amanda Soule and her publisher, Shambhala Publications, are generously offering TWO copies of Handmade Home to Beauty That Moves readers! Please stop by the comments to be entered and please tell us this one thing...
What do you love about your home? What little corner, quilt, window view, memory, or who knows what, brings you peace and comfort? Forget the perfect location, size, restorations completed... right here and now, what do you love?
Comments will be closed and winner announced on this post Wednesday morning. Thank you Amanda, it's been such a fun time, I couldn't be happier for you my friend, many congratulations on the release of your second book!
Comments are now closed... I'll be back soon!
The Winners Are...
Angie - "I'm in! I love my backyard."
Alyssa - "The rocking chair passed on to me that used to belong to my great-great grandpa (!) Wherever it is in the house (it's been several places) it's where I knit, read, rock the babes, it's perfect. "
Congratulations ladies! Please email me your shipping info (if I don't email you first) and your books will arrive soon!
Thank you to Amanda and to Shambhala Publications for your generosity, we had a great time! Amanda's shop is stocked with signed copies of Handmade Home if you'd like to pick one up today. You'll be so glad you did :)