Because everything can be a little cuter

Quick DIY Guide: Finding a Stud in Your Wall

Finding studs in your wall is an important DIY home decor stepIf you’re unfamiliar with the way homes are built, you might not know that your walls are actually mostly hollow, with vertical wooden structures called studs (pictured above) built in for support.

A lot of home decor objects that are made to hang on the wall, like the wall shelves I recently bought, need to be secured to a stud to prevent falling and pulling out a piece of the wall. So if you’re planning to hang an object, you’ll need to know how to find the studs in your wall.

Just a note, when you tell people you’re having trouble finding studs it’s a good idea to clarify that you mean in your walls. It should come as no surprise that I got a lot of funny looks when I said I needed help finding a stud to hang my wall shelves.

But hopefully this post will keep you from getting put in such awkward situations.

A good starting place for finding studs is an outlet.

Finding studs in your wall is an important DIY home decor stepOutlets are typically attached to the side of a stud, so you can be pretty sure that there will be one either to the left or right of any outlet in your home. The trick is to determine which side it’s on.

One basic technique is the “knock and listen” technique, which consists of knocking on the wall and listening for the stud’s location. As I mentioned before, walls are hollow except for where a stud is, so most spots you knock will produce a hollow sound. When you hear a fuller sound, you’ve likely found a stud.

However, when I tried this method in my apartment walls I had little luck. So here’s another method I found to determine with more accuracy where your studs are located.

Start by grabbing the strongest magnet on your refrigerator.

Finding studs in your wall is an important DIY home decor stepZigzag the magnet above the outlet, covering the areas to the left and right of the outlet. What you’re doing is looking for a nail where the wall was attached to the stud. Keep moving left and right and up and down until you feel your magnet pull.

Finding studs in your wall is an important DIY home decor stepThis picture is slightly blurry as I was taking it left handed, but you can see that the tip of the magnet is pulled against the wall. Grab a pencil and draw and “X” because you’ve found a stud!

Studs are typically 16 inches apart in modern homes, but they may be 24 inches apart. From your X, measure 16 inches to either side and find the next stud using either the knock and listen technique or your magnet. If you can’t find the next stud at 16 inches, try 24 inches instead.

Now you’re ready to have your decorations and be sure that they’re secure on your wall!

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DIY Inspiration from Around the Web

Hello crafters!

I put most of my crafting focus on sewing, but I’m no one trick pony. If you follow me on Pinterest you’ll notice I pin a lot of non-sewing crafts and sometimes just images that inspire me. Here are some of the craft ideas I’ve picked up from around the web that I’d like to attempt and wanted to share with you.

Easy DIY craft

  • This craft comes from a blog called Ocean City Gal. It looks like an easy way to add a little pop to your walls, so I’ll definitely be trying it soon!

DIY sewing craft

  • This is a cute idea from U Create: Fabric baskets for storing anything cutely! I imagine this could easily be adapted into a cubic shelf drawer as well.
  • This video comes from Colourlicious, and I really like it because I’ve actually been looking for a way to create coasters for myself. Right now I’m using a folded paper towel as a coaster!

Look out for more crafts from around the web soon!

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Choosing Colors for Your Home Decor Project

Playing with paint chips is a great way to choose colors for DIY home decor

Even the most eclectic collection of furniture and decor can seem unified if you establish a color palette for the room and work within that scheme.

As I mentioned in this post, when I set out to cute-ify my kitchen, one of the first steps was to decide what color scheme I wanted to use. Before I even moved into my apartment, I knew I wanted it to have a beachy and open vibe, so blue-greens were a natural choice. I painted the walls a deep sea foam and bought linens in shades of turquoise. I decided my accent colors would be a warm brown, like my paper towel holder, and green as in my kitchen rug.

That example had a pretty narrow spectrum of colors I wanted to use, but not every color in your scheme has to be next to each other on the color wheel. Here are a few tips on thinking outside the box to create a color scheme for your room.

  • Start with paint chips. Head to your local hardware store and collect paint chips in a wide variety of hues and values that will allow you to mix, match, and experiment freely. Pick up paint chips that have multiple values of a pigment on one sheet, and cut the chips to separate the values and allow you more flexibility. Then arrange and rearrange them freely until you stumble upon a color combination you particularly like – working without setting yourself boundaries could bring out ideas you would never have considered otherwise!
  • If it’s not an empty room, start with the objects you can’t change. Somewhat luckily for me, my apartment was completely empty when I moved in. But if you’re on a redecorating kick, start thinking about colors relative to the piece(s) of furniture that have to stay. Painting a room and buying accent pieces are much easier and less expensive than a new couch or bed.
  • If you get stuck, try complimentary colors. As I said before, not every color in your scheme needs to be next to each other on the color wheel. If you want to add a little pop to a room, try jumping across the color wheel and using a complimentary color. For example, a well-placed orange accent will work great against a rich cerulean.
  • Browse the fabric store and sew your own decorative items. My last post was about choosing a fabric for home decor based on texture and other factors, and deciding to DIY your home decor even simply for accent pieces will allow you more options while working within your color scheme. It’s also much less expensive than buying everything from a boutique.
  • Look for inspiration wherever you find it. Don’t just browse others’ home decor for color inspiration. Color is everywhere! A picture of a parrot could be the jumping off point for a vibrantly colored room, or the local park might give you ideas for earthy, natural tones. If it inspires you, it’s not wrong!

Try these techniques and see if they don’t get the color juices flowing!

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Choosing a Fabric for Your Home Decor Sewing Project

Choosing the best fabric for your DIY home decor sewing project - Paroxa Designs

So you’re basically a beginner at sewing your own stuff, but you’ve found an awesome home decor sewing project that you can’t wait to try (might I recommend this one or this one?). You head down to the fabric store ready to buy a yard or two of the cutest fabric you can find, but the options are a bit overwhelming. How can there even be so many forms of cotton? How do you know which is the right fabric for your project?

Hopefully this post will be able to help you navigate those waters a bit.

I myself typically gravitate towards woven fabric as opposed to knit fabric. Woven fabric is easier to sew because it doesn’t have as much of a stretch as knit. I’m also biased towards cotton for no particular reason.

But when you’re choosing a fabric for your next project, here are some factors to consider:

  • What are you using the fabric for? Is it an object that will be heavily used, like a seat cushion, or purely decorative like a throw pillow? You could probably guess that heavier-duty fabrics need to be used for objects that will see more wear and tear, but more delicate fabrics can be used for projects that won’t be touched often.
  • Will you need to clean it often? Consider the cleaning instructions, typically written on the fabric bolt. An object like a tablecloth or placemat that will be exposed to the risk of spills and stains should be easy to clean, so you should avoid dry clean only fabrics for these projects.
  • Does it match what you already have? This is important not only in terms of color, but also in terms of texture. If your style of choice for the room in question is soft and light, a heavy duty fabric will look out of place. Likewise, a piece of home decor made from lightweight quilting cotton may look cheap amidst leather furniture and rich mahogany.
  • Is it easy to work with? I mentioned this earlier, but I typically choose woven fabrics as they’re less prone to stretching and distorting during sewing. You’ll also want to choose a fabric that’s of a thickness that you’re comfortable with and have the materials to sew.

If you keep these things in mind as you shop, it should be much easier to choose the fabric that will best fit your project.

Thanks for reading!

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Easy DIY Sewing Project: Table Centerpiece

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa Designs

When I moved into my empty apartment in May, I was initially using a flipped-over laundry basket as a dining table. When I was able to go to Ikea and upgrade to a real table, I was pretty excited. I then got a bowl to fill with fruit to grab on my way out the door to work and to serve as decoration. But sometimes that bowl looks lonely.

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsLike this.

So I decided to put something under that bowl that might jazz up the space a little bit. I clear the table for sewing occasionally, so a full-length table runner or table cloth would get annoying. So instead I decided to sew a small centerpiece. It’s a very easy project to do, so follow along for a guide on how to make one of your own!

What you’ll need for this super easy sewing project:

  • Fabric of your choice. You can use a decorative fabric on top then a basic fabric on the bottom, match top to bottom, two different decorative fabrics, whatever you want to do!
  • Drafting paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • And all your basic sewing supplies

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsUsing drafting paper, a pencil, and my ruler, I drew two perpendicular lines that split each other right down the middle. These were my desired length and width, plus seam allowances. So if you want one that’s 22″ long and 16″ wide, with a 1/2″ seam allowance, your lines would be 23″ and 17″.

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsNext I sketched a curved line to connect two ends. I chose one curve and erased the rest. It’d be near impossible to replicate this curve by hand three times and have a fully symmetrical centerpiece, so let’s do it an easier way.

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsFold your paper along one line, so that your drawn curve is on the bottom layer of paper. You’ll be able to see the curve through the op layer, so trace it onto the top layer and unfold. Repeat by folding along the other line, so you have one full symmetrical shape.

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsCut out your shape and press out the creases, just as you would with a store-bought sewing pattern.

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsTrace the pattern onto two pieces of fabric. I chose to use a decorative home decor fabric for the top but use plain quilting cotton for the bottom. But this part is totally up to you!

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsPin right sides together, but before you stitch if you’re using a curved shape like mine, it’s a good idea to mark your stitching line before you take it to the machine. Seam allowances can be pretty difficult to stick to on a curved seam, so even though this may feel tedious it will help you keep your place. For more tips on sewing on a curve, check out this helpful resource from Sew4Home.

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsYou’ll want to leave a few inches unstitched so that you can flip it inside out. Be sure to make a mark to remind yourself to stop stitching!

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsNow all you have left to do is flip it right side out, press your seam, and slip stitch the opening shut.

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsNow my fruit bowl isn’t quite so lonely.

This is a really easy project to do in an hour or so, and you can make several different centerpieces for different times of the year or events. Hope you enjoy!

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Easy DIY Sewing Craft for Home: Throw Pillowcase

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa Designs

I moved into my apartment mid-May after graduating from college with zero furniture.

My apartment was a beige wasteland.

Thanks to a paint job and some Ikea furniture, it’s not quite as bad as it was, but it’s still a little boring. So I decided to look into some easy decorative pieces that I could sew to jazz it up.

A clear frontrunner emerged: the throw pillow.

Now, to be honest I still don’t have a couch to keep a throw pillow on. But I wanted to try it anyway.

If you can sew in a straight line and press a hem you have want it takes to make a throw pillowcase!

Here’s a quick rundown of how I make a 16×16 open back pillowcase:

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsSewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa Designs

Assuming a 1/2″ seam allowance, draw a 17″x17″ square on your fabric of choice. This will be the front of the pillowcase.

The back is a little trickier.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa Designs

The back will be two pieces that overlap. Divide 17 by two and you’ll get 8.5″. But you’ll also want some extra length to press under, and a little extra so that the two pieces will touch.

I decided to press under 1/2″ twice, so I added an inch, then an extra 1/4″ for overlap. So the width of my two back pieces were 9 3/4″ (Full disclosure: Harry Potter was on) and the length was 17″.

Make sure as you draw these pieces that the pattern will line up when you make your stitches.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsHere are all my pieces laid out. Note that the design on the fabric is the same on every one.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsNext I laid the pieces right sides together as they’re going to be stitched. The two overlapping edges should be pressed and stitched before you sew the side seams though.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsIt’s a good idea to lightly mark the edges you’re going to press so that you don’t get them mixed up as you move them to your ironing board.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsYou can choose how wide or narrow to press the edges, but I chose to press them 1/2″ twice, so that the raw edge is enclosed.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsTopstitch the pressed edges in place.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsNow just pin right sides together and sew around the edges on each of the 4 sides, leaving the center of the back open.

When trimming your seams, I’ve been told that trimming the corners in a curve and trimming closer to the seam on one piece of fabric than the other will help your corners be less bulky. Personally since this is a removable pillowcase I chose to trim the seam allowances to about 1/4″ and finish with an overlock stitch.

Whatever you choose to do, next you just have to flip it right side out and press the seams – I recommend using a pressing ham to press them open and then flat.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsAnd voila! You have a throw pillowcase! Buy a 16×16 pillowform from a craft store like JoAnn’s and you’re all set!

This is an extremely easy project for a beginner. But if you like the pillow I just made and want one exactly like it, you can purchase it from my Etsy shop here (I don’t have a couch to put it on so I don’t mind parting with it!)

Also be sure to follow me on Twitter!

Happy sewing!

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Hello and welcome!

Welcome to my first post!

My name is Laura, and I started Paroxa because I love to create and customize my life. I believe life should be as cute and colorful as you can make it!

You may notice that at the moment, this blog is not all that cute and colorful. I vow to get on fixing that as soon as possible. Edit: Fixed it 🙂

Check back for posts about sewing, crafting, decorating, and quite a bit more.

In the meantime, feel free to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest!

Have a cute and colorful day 🙂

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