Pay-Day Project

Hey there readers!  Y’all know I’m hard core Dave Ramsey and therefore, many times, I cry and pout on the days the Pottery Barn Catalog comes because unless we take out a massive credit card, those designer ideas just ain’t gonna happen.  Who lives in those Pottery Barn Catalog rooms anyway?  WHO?!  My house isn’t even sub-par JC Penny 🙁  {Pout, kick dust, and burn the Pottery Barn catalog in a 60’s under-wire protest fashion}

Le sigh.  I’ve been bummed about my house decor and organization lately, y’all.  Really bummed.  So, I thought I’d start a “Pay-Day Project” Series to slowly, but surely, (and cheaply) decorate my Circa Dollar Tree-esk design I’ve got happening at the Casa.

Enter my friend Claire.  Her house is FAB.  It smells really pretty too.  Claire wears make-up every day and even looks good in her hubby’s pajamas when I’ve stopped by.  On top of all that wonderfulness, SHE does all the decorating in her home on a budget via garage sales, thrift stores, and some hard core elbow grease.  Today she’s gonna show us an AWESOME idea.  I warn ya now, put on a bra and print out a coupon because you’re gonna want to hop in the car and head straight to Michaels and/or Hobby Lobby.

First, meet Claire:

Altogether now: “Hiiiiiiiii Claire!”

Hi my name is Claire. I am a twenty something wife to the best husband in the world and a mom of two boys (soon to be three).  Other than raising my sweet boys I enjoy cooking, gardening and most of all decorating.  Trust me, this girl can spend some money…..BUT…. I’ve figured out a way I can have nice things at a fraction of the cost. Instead of paying an arm and a leg for that designer space or piece, I make most things myself.  The end result is usually pretty successful and most of the time it still looks, in my opinion, like it’s straight out of a magazine.  Hopefully by reading my how to’s, you can re-create designer looks for waaay less.

Today I am going to show you how to paint a canvas.  Follow these step by step guidelines and the sky is the limit.  Here is what you will need for this project:

1. Canvas: you can buy these at any local craft store.  I always wait to buy until they go on sale

(Amazon has some good deals on canvas at times too…..just click HERE)
2. Paint: Yes, paint can get pretty expensive. But I have learned a little trick.  Go to your local hardware store and get wall paint samples.  It’s usually around two dollars for an 8 oz. can.  It’s also really fantastic because there are hundreds of color options and you can match just about anything.  In my case, I wanted to match my little boys bedding since these canvases are going in his bedroom.

Here’s the bedding I wanted to match….

Claire?! This is a GREAT tip! I would have never thunk to go to the hardware store.

3. Paint brushes: again, always wait until they go on sale.  at our local craft store they go on sale 50% off every third week of the month. Never pay full price.

I love paint brushes. I’m glad I have a friend that does too…..

4. Graphite Paper: I usually buy the roll so I can fit it to any size canvas.  You can find these at a craft stores or even the grocery store.  You can also grab it on Amazon by clicking HERE.

I never even knew this product existed! Link to buy on Amazon is above…

5. Inspiration: I am completely OK with the fact that everything in my home that I have created is copied from somewhere.  In this case, I found these lovely paintings from Pottery Barn.  The only problem was the price.  The colors were all wrong as well for my son’s navy and white bedroom.

Darn you!!!! Darn you Pottery Barn and your Expensive Canvases!!!!!!!! (But thank you for your INSPIRATION….)

Once you have these 5 items, you are ready to go.

Step one: print your inspiration picture at a print shop.  I prefer Kinko’s.  You can actually email them the picture and they will do all the work.  When you send the picture, be sure to tell them you want the size increased to whatever the dimensions of your canvas are, and they will print it to fit.  I recommend having them print it in black and white because it costs less and is easier to trace onto the canvas.

Step two: Transfer your picture.  Lay the canvas on a flat surface.  Then, cut a piece of the graphite paper to fit and lay on top of the canvas (make sure the graphite side is facing down).  Lay your re-print on top of the graphite paper.  Trace the inspiration picture with a sharp pencil or pen.  once you are finished tracing your inspiration picture onto your canvas, discard the graphite paper and re-print.  You are left with your canvas and an outline of the inspiration art.

Step three: PAINT! It’s simply paint by numbers.  Super, easy, and fun.  Just make sure you have all your colors planned out so you’re not going back and forth to the store. Now stand back and enjoy your masterpiece.  Mine are never perfect and if you look close I’m sure you can find mistakes.  But it is always rewarding to still have money for things I really need, like you know, groceries, ha! I hope you leave feeling a little inspired and always remember, you can create anything… you just need the motivation to do it!

Wow. When Claire first emailed me her pics for this post….I seriously didn’t know which one was the Pottery Barn Ad and which one was her re-creation! I had to match it to the bedding. SOOO CUTE!!!!!

I love those starfish too…..I know where to get those cheap! It adds so much! (Although, I’d have to see if they are poisonous…no doubt one of my children would eat them…)

Boy mommies everywhere are swooning. Although….those sea creatures in pink and purple would be super cute too!

In conclusion, my house is ugly. I’m off to print my Michaels coupon!

WOWZA….look at the price difference!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pottery Barns version: $250+
Re-Creation: $45

I recently painted a canvas for one of my best friends’ nursery using the same technique.  Take a look!

WOW. That canvas above the crib is what Claire did. How the?! Amazing. I can be cheap and fabulous!!!!

What Claire copied….

Pottery Barns version: $275+
re-creation: $75

I hope you leave feeling a little inspired and always remember, you can create anything… you just need the motivation to do it!
XO, Claire

Thanks for showing me the way from K-mart to Pottery Barn Knock-Offs!  I feel enlightened and encouraged that my rooms won’t be shabby forever!!!!


  1. Wow Claire!! I wish I had half the talent you did when it comes to home decor!! Your projects look absolutely amazing! 🙂

  2. Claire… you amaze me. I wish I had your talent!!! I’m pretty sure if I tried this it would really look like paint by numbers. In not a good way. Your paintings are SO beautiful!!!

    Liz… I want to be cool enough someday to guest post. I realize that means I have to be crafty or a good cook… both of which… um, well, I’ll start working on that. :-p

    Love y’all!!! 🙂

    • Elizabeth says:

      You’re super crafty!!! I’m so Un-crafty I have to have people blog about it for me! LOL. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Love the ideas Claire!! …and I secretly have a crush on your house! Congratulations on another baby boy!!

    • Elizabeth says:

      I have a crush on it too! And it must run in the family b/c Cassie is one mad decorator also! Those girls put me to shame!

  4. Wow Claire I think I prefer your version more than Pottery Barn. Elizabeth I have always thought of you as being crafty and full of great ideas. Keep up the great work, and I enjoy reading your blog.

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