Category Archives: Inspiration

Inspiration for your next project or trial in life.

A Beginner’s Guide to Wood Flooring

Whether you are remodeling your current home or building a new one, there are lots of things to keep in mind when considering wood flooring for your home. By no means am I an expert but having gone through this myself I have retained quite a bit of knowledge from doing my own research.

One of the biggest things I discovered is that when it comes to wood floors, one size does not fit all. What I mean by this is your home environment or subfloor may limit the type of floor you can even install. By understanding all of the pros and cons of each wood floor type, you can best choose which wood option is right for your home and lifestyle.

Popular Wood Flooring Options

  1. Solid Hardwood
  2. Engineered Hardwood
  3. Laminate

When purchasing wood floors, you typically have three most popular wood (or modified wood) flooring options to choose from. Let’s discuss these types of flooring and what to consider with each option.

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image credit: Brilliance Flooring

Solid Hardwood

With the use of solid hardwood being used for centuries, people desire the look and beauty of real hardwood floors. Although hardwood is usually the most organic and desired option, it may not be the best option for your home. See below for the pros and cons of hardwood.

Pros

  • Value: Investing in hardwood flooring is known to increase the value of your home. It’s beauty, character, and structural integrity is known to last for decades. Therefore, hardwood flooring is almost always an investment that will pay off in the long run.
  • Selection: Real hardwood flooring will always have the most options and selection available for the picking unlike the other wood flooring options where options are limited.
  • Able to Refinish: Most hardwood options allow you to sand it down and refinish it several times in its lifetime. So if you choose a stain you like today and want to change it in the future or your floor has suffered lots of scratches and scrapes, you can always sand down the color and scratches and refinish it to the color of your liking. (Note: just check the dimension
  • Stability: Due to the thickness of hardwood planks, it can withstand uneven sub-flooring better than many other wood flooring variations such as laminate and some thinner engineered hardwood options. Overall, this means hardwood will feel more solid underfoot.

Cons:

  • Price: It’s no secret that real hardwood is more expensive than the other wood options. Although the investment can pay off in keeping its value in the long run, its high price may not even make it an option for you financially in the short term.
  • Wearability: Hardwood floors are susceptible to everyday wear and tear. It may not be ideal for high traffic areas or homes with children or pets because it can/will scratch.
  • Moisture: Hardwood is obviously made of solid wood; therefore, it is porous and will absorb moisture – causing it to expand and contract due to changes in temperature or moisture exposure. This means hardwood is susceptible to warping and buckling if exposed to too much moisture. Hardwood is most affected by moisture compared to other wood flooring types, where laminate and engineered hardwood are made to withstand more moisture.
  • Installation limitations: Because  of its moisture issue, hardwood is picky about where it can be installed. Hardwood should not be installed below grade (aka. below ground level which usually means basements, etc) or over radiant heat. It also should not be installed over a concrete subfloor (as opposed to a wood-subfloor) because of the moisture that concrete is known to hold, which is a huge limitation for many modern day built homes.

Engineered Hardwood

Engineered hardwood is usually the best of both worlds – it gives you the look of real hardwood but has more of the durability benefits that laminate provides. Engineered hardwood gets its name by how its made. It consists of a real hardwood layer on top that’s glued to a compressed board of either plywood or high density fiberboard underneath.

Pros

  • Moisture: Because of how its constructed, engineered hardwood is able to withstand more moisture than solid hardwood. Meaning, it will not contract and expand as much due to the changes in temperature and moisture.
  • Appearance: Since engineered hardwood has the hardwood veneer top, it means you do not have to sacrifice the natural look and feel of real hardwood for something that is more durable to moisture.
  • Price: Engineered hardwood is often much less in price compared to the solid hardwood options. So you can get the look you want without the high price tag. However, laminate will still likely be your cheapest option.
  • Installation Flexibility: Because of the benefits of its construction, engineered hardwood can sometimes be installed on low grade surfaces (aka below ground level), it can be installed over radiant heat, and it can also be installed over a concrete subfloor. It can also be floated which makes is easier for DIYers.

Cons

  • Wear and Tear: Although engineer hardwood is more durable when it comes to moisture compared to solid hardwood, it doesn’t have much a difference when it comes to everyday wear and tear. Just like solid hardwood, this type can also get scratched. Therefore, it may not be best for high traffic areas or for homes with children or inside pets. (Tip: always order a sample and give it the wear and tear test – ex. take a key to it, pulverize it with high heels, do whatever you can to determine if it makes sense for you.)
  • Selection: Although most retailers have tremendous amount of engineered hardwood options, its selection is still lacking in variation when compared to what is available in solid hardwood (in my opinion).
  • Not Always Able to Refinish: Depending on the depth of the hardwood top veneer, only some engineered hardwoods are able to be sanded down and refinished for a limited amount of times. Most products will include this information if it is able to be refinished but always do your research if this option is important to you.
  • Stability: Depending on the thickness of the plank,  not all engineered hardwood planks will react to uneven sub-flooring  in the same way. Rule of thumb – the thicker your plank the better it will withstand the unevenness often found in concrete subfloors but a thicker plank will also likely be more expensive. Overall, a thinner plank is still fine and does the job but it will not feel as solid underfoot and may bow in dips in the subfloor when walked on. You can see photo examples of thickness in my other post.)

Laminate

Laminate flooring is likely the most versatile in where it can be installed compared to all wood flooring types because of its replicated, strong wear top and compressed core. Instead of being made of solid hardwood throughout like hardwood flooring or having a hardwood veneer like engineered hardwood, laminate is manufactured from paper and fiberboard that is digitally printed to give it that appearance of real wood and finished with a durable wear layer that is moisture and scratch resistant.

Pros

  • Wear and Tear: Because of its moisture and scratch resistant top, its durability is an attractive feature for homeowners with inside pets and children. Laminate also works for high-traffic areas in the home such as living spaces that may not be as ideal for hardwood.
  • Install Anywhere: Laminate can be installed in almost any room in your house. Whether its above or below ground level or over wood or concrete sub-flooring.
  • Price: Because of its cheaper construction materials, laminate is typically the cheapest option of wood flooring by far.
  • Easy Install: Unlike many solid hardwood options that may require nail down installation, laminate flooring can be floated over most existing floors. And with its easy tongue and groove structure, it can easily be installed by most beginner DIYers.

Cons

  • Appearance: With modern day technology, many laminates are made to look nearly exactly like hardwood. However, in my opinion, laminates are not able to replicate the natural texture of the grain that real hardwood has. (Tip: When online shopping, always order a sample to ensure you like the laminate look in person as much as you do on screen. It often looks extremely different so this step is important.)
  • Cannot Refinish: Unlike solid hardwoods and some engineered hardwoods, laminate is not refinish-able because it technically is not made of real wood.
  • Noise: Because of its structure, laminate floors are often loud to walk on. However, the right underlayment can help reduce the echo that can be caused underneath a floated floor.
  • Stability: Similar story to some engineered hardwoods, laminate planks are not as thick or as strong as solid hardwood and therefore can dip when pressure is applied in low places of the sub-floor – making the floor not feel as solid.

Additional Tips:

  • Whether you are shopping online or in store, always get a sample to look at in your home. It’s important to ensure that the warm or cool colors in your floor sample, compliments either the warm or cool colors of your walls, cabinets, furniture, etc. The lighting in a store will be different than in your home and a computer screen can make colors look different than in person – therefore, seeing a sample in its actual environment is a must.
  • Once you’ve made your selection and your floors have arrived, let the planks acclimate to your home environment for at least 48 hours before installation. If you don’t, your floors can buckle after installation.
  • Examine all of your flooring for color, finish, or quality issues before installing. Many retailers will replace damaged items during a specific time frame before installing.
  • When measuring your space to determine the amount of floor you need, always add in an additional 10% waste.

 

That’s all of the tips I have for you for now. I wish you all good luck in selecting the right wood flooring for your home. Please contact feel free to contact me with any questions you may have along the way. 🙂

To see the wood floor I went with for our home, check out my hardwood floor reveal post.

References:
https://www.builddirect.com/learning-center/
http://woodfloors.org/types.aspx
http://www.brillianceflooring.com/resources/2015/11/16/what-type-of-floor-do-i-have

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DIY Fall Decorating

Fall is one of my favorite seasons! It’s the time of year when farmers are harvesting their fields, when Starbucks starts selling it’s pumpkin spice latte, and when fall foliage comes out to play.

When I decorate for fall, I love incorporating natural fall icons inside and out. Read below for ideas of how to create fall decorations for your own home.

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Inside
Grace + Gumption - DIY Fall Mantel Decorating

I made this DIY bunting banner a few years ago using burlap, twine, and a permanent marker for the print (tutorial coming soon). However, this year I added a few a pop of color and texture by tying miniature indian corn in between each flag. I think it adds so much to the look. Don’t you think!?Grace + Gumption - DIY Fall Mantel Decorating

Grace + Gumption - DIY Fall Mantel Decorating

To take our mantel decor from summer to fall, I spread out several of these DIY acorns to give it some fall flair. Although they are small in size, they are mighty in impact. Grace + Gumption - DIY Fall Mantel Decorating DSC_0206

Aren’t they so cute?! Using just leftover plastic eggs from Easter, burlap, and pinecone clippings, these acorns are very cheap to make yourself. Although I made these myself, I can’t take credit for the idea. I first saw them over at Life is a Party where Dannyelle walks through step-by-step how to make these DIY burlap acorns. I followed her instructions exactlyGrace + Gumption - DIY Burlap Acorns

My husband farms for a local seed company. So he always has access to one of natures best fall decorations…corn stocks! We gave our front yard a little curb appeal by tying a bundle of corn stocks around our mail box. Grace + Gumption - DIY Fall DecoratingOf course the look wouldn’t be complete without pumpkins at the base! 
Grace + Gumption - DIY Fall Decorating

If there could be a fall icon that I loved more than pumpkins and corn stocks, it would be mums! I love how mums can add color to any fall scene. Display your mums on your front porch in a creative way by using a pumpkin as a flower pot!
Grace + Gumption - DIY Fall Decorating

That’s how we do fall at our house. How do you do it at yours?

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New Engineered Hardwood Floors – The Reveal!

IMG_4255When we moved into our house, it was evident that the entire house needed new floors. I envisioned dark hardwood flowing through our dining room and on into the kitchen. But as you know, hardwood floor is not cheap. So I knew I would need to find an inexpensive option that would not only satisfy my style taste but could also withstand the usual wear and tear of the average growing family.

I turned to my favorite bloggers for ideas on where to buy hardwood for cheap. Sure enough, I wasn’t disappointed. One of my favorite bloggers over at Jenna Sue Design, had filled the first floor of her Florida home with hardwood from HomeDirect for a little over $2 a square foot. This definitely caught my attention so I decided to check them out.

I instantly fell in love with BuildDirect’s handscraped, mixed width engineered hardwood in American walnutBuild Direct American Walnut

 

Build Direct

Look at how pretty it is!!

Unfortunately this floor is over $5 a yard and way over my budget, so I kept looking for a similar but cheaper option. That’s when I came across their blended width, chiseled engineered hardwood in hickory, priced around $3 per sq ft – much better price! At that price, I was instantly concerned about the quality. There hadn’t been any reviews yet of the product, so I ordered a sample that BuildDirect sent to my house for free to check it out for myself. I went ahead and also ordered a free sample of the handscraped floor above just to use as a comparison of quality, along with a few other items I liked from their site.

Build Direct

When the samples arrived, I could see and feel a big difference in the thickness and quality of the two different engineered woods. (Walnut on the left and Hickory on the right.)

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Now the question became, was this enough of a difference for the cheaper wood to not be a good option for us? That’s when I turned to a professional for advice. To save time, I decided to hire a contractor to install the floor. (Although, I usually take these types of projects on myself, this was one project I just didn’t have time for.) So I had my contractor come over to the house to give his opinion on the floor. For what we needed, he felt the cheaper engineered would be just fine for us. He even performed a key test on both samples to test the hardness of the finish and each gave similar, satisfactory results. That was enough for me. Hickory it is!

For 16 boxes (472.48 sq ft) at $2.99/sq ft, our total came out to be $1,412.72 for two rooms of wide plank, engineered hardwood. What a great deal!

Since we were coming in under budget on the floors, I decided to upgrade to a taller baseboard too. 🙂 I went with a 7′ 1/4″ tall, primed baseboards from BuildDirect (can’t find this tall at Lowes or The Home Depot). For 4 bundles (128 lineal ft to cover the entire first floor of the house) at $1.39/lineal ft, we paid $177.92 for the baseboards.

The only downfall to shopping at BuildDirect is that the shipping is pricey. But their low product prices and wide selection made it worth it. The products came in just a few weeks after ordering. See below for how the baseboards and floor boards arrived via Fedex Freight.

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Then, onto the installation….

IMG_3855It took our one man contractor about three full days to install the floor and the baseboards throughout the entire first floor of the house. 
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and finally…the reveal!

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I love the variation of widths and lengths!

Dining Room Before:

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Dining Room After:

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I hope you like it!

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Modern Farmhouse Living Room Plans

Modern Farmhouse Living Room by Grace + Gumption

Our living room had been in need of a major overhaul. Knowing that I really wanted a serene, farmhouse feel in the room, I took some time to create a project list and an inspiration board. So far, I have made a good dent in the list of projects and I can’t wait to finish the rest.  Below is my complete, living room to-do list for and my progress.

Modern Farmhouse Living Room – Project List

Grace + Gumption Living Room CheckList

1. New Paint – Check!Silver Strand Sherwin Williams

The wall color in our living room was a taupe color when we first moved into the house.  Although I love neutrals, it made the room look dark and bland. I was ready for a change. I sampled several blue and green hued colors until I found the right one! For a complete list of all my trial colors and the color I ultimately chose, check out my post here.

2. Shiplap Wall – Check!

A new paint color just wasn’t enough for the room to be transformed into the farmhouse look I was going for. It needed an accent wall and a shiplap wall was just the ticket! See the simple 10 step tutorial on how I created this plank wall here.

Grace + Gumption Shiplap Wall

3. Photo Gallery – Check!

Once, the shiplap wall was complete, it did not stay bare for long! I quickly added gallery frames to dress it up. Post coming soon, teaching you how to hang a gallery wall of your own.

Grace + Gumption Shiplap Wall

4. Fireplace Makeover – Coming Soon!

Our current fireplace really has potential, it just needs a little update. Although it has that country feel, it’s a little too country! Currently, our fireplace is floor to ceiling brick and the mantel is a rustic wood beam, makes it look like it belongs in an old 70’s lodge. Although the lodge look is trending again, it only works in moderation. Meaning, it’s okay to have a brick hearth or a wood beam mantel but not when paired together. So instead of completely demolishing the entire fireplace and starting over, I’m planning to keep the floor to ceiling brick and just update the mantel to give the fireplace a more modern update without losing the rustic feel. I plan to add white trim and casing around the fireplace with a crown molding mantel to give this fireplace just what it needs to make it a perfect marriage of country and modern. Not to mention the white casing is also the perfect way to brighten up the dark brick.

Layla, over at theletteredcottage.net, had a fireplace very similar to mine and wrote an amazing post about her fireplace update in her home. 
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5. Custom Curtains – Coming Soon!

Drapes are perfect for making windows look larger and your ceiling look taller. They can also dress up a room. Our windows in the living room are boring and bare but I just haven’t found the perfect pattern of curtain in stores or online. I did find however, the perfect pattern of fabric and plan to sew the drapes myself! Although I usually only go for the cheapest options, I am willing to splurge for this pattern below! Can you blame me?GraceGumption Curtains

SourceCourtyard, Oyster fabric from tonicliving.com.

6. Window Trim – Coming Soon!

One of my favorite features of an old farmhouse home is the windows. Farmhouse windows are oversized, plentiful, and have thick, white trim all the way around. This window from Caitlin Creer Interiors is my dream. My house however, has completely bare windows. NO TRIM! My nightmare. 🙁f64e2b7af317ca3e97c7f3ddf90c5c90

Bare windows, without any trim, has become more of a modern day design – not what I’m going for. Thankfully, adding trim to a window is an easy task and something I plan to do soon!

7. Reupholster Accent Chair – Coming Soon!

I want to put an accent chair in the corner of our living room but they are so expensive. For example, this chair from Target is almost $600! Instead of spending a pretty penny on one of these beautiful chairs, I’m going to reupholster one myself. I recently purchased a chair off of craigslist for just $25 and will be purchasing the fabric soon! 16260498

8. Update Decor – Coming Soon!

I’m still loving the pouf trend right now! They are an easy way to add extra color or easy casual seating. So I envision adding a pouf or two to the room, like this one from target, along with a few other country touches such as this bouquet of cotton stems from the Magnolia Market.
Grace + Gumption Pouf     cotton-stem-4

Can’t wait to get all of these plans checked off on my list! Stay tuned for more updates to come.

Have a blessed day!

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Three Serene and Blue-Hued Paint Colors

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The walls in our living room were painted a taupe color when we first moved into the house. I’m normally a big fan of tans and taupes for wall colors but in our living room, the taupe just made the room look dark and feel small. The walls needed a good pick-me-up!

Wanting to brighten up the room, I began looking for blue/green toned paint colors that still felt a little more neutral. When it comes to color, it’s easy to get it wrong. What looks good on paper, does not always look good on the walls of a room. So I followed these simple steps in how-to choose the perfect paint color for any room, that I describe in this post.

After doing research and purchasing several samples, I narrowed the color down to three favorites: Pale Smoke (BM), Brittany Blue (BM), and Silver Strand (SW) [pictured below left to right].

Grace + Gumption Living Room Color Options

From left to right: Pale Smoke, Brittany Blue, and Silver Strand

Pale Smoke by Benjamin Moore has more of a greenish tint to it that is very lovely. I fell in love with this color after seeing it in the room below designed by Nate Berkus. It’s such a subdued color and yet, it makes such an impact.

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Brittany Blue by Benjamin Moore is the perfect shade of blue; it’s not too blue but just right. I was inspired by The Lilly Pad Cottage who used this color in her coastal living room. I loved how bright the color made her room look!

Silver Strand is the perfect marriage of blue, green and grey. I love how it’s used in this room designed by Joanna Gaines from FixerUpper. It compliments brick and wood floors nicely and has that old french farmhouse feel that I love!

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All three of these colors were very tranquil and would have worked nicely in our space. But at the end of the day, I went with Silver Strand and boy, am I glad!  Now, our living room is bright fresh, and has that french cottage feel. I hope you love it as much as I do!

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For more help with picking a paint color, don’t forget to check out my post for how-to pick the perfect color for any room!

Have a blessed day!

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15 Wool Area Rugs That Are Budget Friendly

Fifteen 8x10 wool rugs that are budget friendly by gracegumption.com

I’ve been in the market for a new rug to go in our dining room (even though we don’t have a table or new floors yet…eek. But don’t worry, both are on the way soon!) After doing some research, I quickly realized that both size and fiber matters when it comes to selecting the right rug for your space!

Size Matters!
Rule of thumb is to have 18″ beyond the edge of the table on all sides to accommodates chairs. With this in mind, I knew I would need approximately an 8×10 size rug to fit appropriately under the table that I want.

Why Wool?
The fiber of the rug, is almost just as important as the size of the rug. If you want a rug that looks expensive and isn’t thin as a dish rag (yuck), then wool is a great choice. Hands down, wool is rated the best fiber used in rugs in comparison to other materials. For example, cotton rugs are not as durable and usually thin. Jute or sisal rugs, although thicker, are scratchy and are not stain resistant. Wool is durable, wears well and is stain resistant. The only downside to wool is that it usually comes at a hefty price since most are handmade, retailing for around $1,000 for an 8×10 rug…Yikes!

The good news is, I’ve done the research for you and have found 15 great options from Overstock.com that are currently more than half off the typical retail price! Yes, I said HALF. Enjoy!

Note: all rugs reflect the given prices at the time this post was written. Prices may change over time.

1. Safavieh Handmade Cambridge Moroccan Geometric Wool Rug, $314.49

2. Safavieh Handmade Cambridge Grey/ Ivory Wool Rug, $306.84

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3. nuLOOM Hand-hooked Alexa Moroccan Trellis Wool Rug, $255.77

4. Safavieh Handmade Moroccan Cambridge Light Blue Wool Rug, $291.85

5. Safavieh Handmade Moroccan Cambridge Dark Grey/ Ivory Wool Rug, $311.08

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6. Safavieh Handmade Moroccan Cambridge Geometric-pattern Silver Wool Rug, $312.09

7. Safavieh Handmade Moroccan Cambridge Navy/ Grey Wool Rug, $328.09

8. Safavieh Handmade Moroccan Cambridge Ivory/ Silver Wool Rug, $339.14

9. Safavieh Handmade Moroccan Cambridge Navy/ Ivory Wool Rug, $357.84

10. Safavieh Handmade Moroccan Cambridge Dark Grey/ Ivory Wool Rug, $420.99

11. Safavieh Handmade Moroccan Cambridge Gold/ Ivory Wool Rug, $396.99

12. Safavieh Handmade Moroccan Cambridge Dark Grey/ Ivory Wool Rug, $420.99

13. Safavieh Handmade Moroccan Cambridge Lavender/ Ivory Wool Rug, $388.99

14. Safavieh Hand-tufted Moroccan Cambridge Ivory/ Light Blue Wool Rug, $282.19

15. nuLOOM Handmade Moroccan Trellis Wool Shag Rug, $481.94

Oh…and in case you were curious. I went with the number four on this list and it’s currently looking pretty in my dining room right now. Can’t wait to show you guys the finished product of the room.

God bless,
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Vanity Light Inspiration: Sconces

Vanity sconces for every design style - by Grace + Gumption

From classic to industrial, sconces are all the rage for bathrooms right now. This trend really gives an updated look, making any bathroom [big or small] look and feel fresh and flattering. Check out these examples as inspiration for your bathroom vanity light update.

Industrial

Although simple in design, industrial sconces have a desirable architectural charm. Inspired by the industrial era, these fixtures have a rustic metal finish (such as brushed nickel or cast iron) and have an exposed shade or (no shade) that reveal the filaments of an Edison-style light bulb. Industrial sconces have an organic vibe that pair beautifully with the contemporary details.

Coastal

Sconces that are nautical inspired but sleek in design, work great to give that coastal feel in a bathroom. Coastal sconces often have a caged shade and lantern shape which it make them unique. No need to go overboard on the nautical theme, the light fixture alone will do wonders.

Farmhouse

Farmhouse sconces are vintage-inspired. Farmhouse sconces have vintage-like glass shades/globes in either shape or color. Opposite of the industrial trend, it’s not the metal architecture that gives a farmhouse style light, it’s uniqueness – it’s the glass.  What gives a sconce a farmhouse feel, is its glass shade/globe. The glass shade can vary in color and shape. The color can be a vintage white, blue, brown or cream tint, or even clear and the shape can vary from bell, egg, umbrella, ripple, and the list goes on. You may have seen folks upgrade an old sconce with a mason jar as the globe – that diy project is consistent with this trend.

Traditional

Traditional sconces have been around for decades. They are the classic look that never go out of style. A traditional sconce typically has a fabric shade but it can also include very ornate and detailed glass shape shades as well. Bottom line, a traditional/classical sconce has a regal design that will be used for years to come.

I hope you are feeling inspired – I know I am! Stay tuned for a post about the sconce lights I chose for our own half bath.

PS: Have a design style that you would like for me to cover? Please feel free to comment your ideas for what you would like for me to cover in my next post.

God bless,

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