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Organize With This: DIY Back To School Projects

We are smack dab in the middle of back-to-school season and with it always comes the need to start fresh with organization. It is time to get back to daily routines, lunch packing and nightly homework, which I always find a bit welcoming after a few months of lazy yet playful summer days.

Back-to-school season typically comes with a bit of shopping for new supplies, clothing and gear to ensure everyone is well equipped for a successful year. However, all of that shopping can get expensive, and when it comes to finding ways to organize the papers and schedules, I like to try my hand at some creative DIY solutions. Often times, there are fun crafts and activities that can be done with the kids to be sure everyone is involved and on the same organizing page.

Here is a lovely round-up of DIY school related projects that are sure to help your family transition into the best school year yet.

Organized School Station

Courtesy of Centsational Girl

Grab a quart of paint and give a dated piece of furniture a whole new life and function. Above, an old media cabinet was transformed into a functional homework station complete with paper, supplies, a computer and calendar. Homework stations create a cozy and consistent place to focus on daily studies, keeping all of the essentials within reach.

DIY Craft Caddy

Courtesy of Fynes Designs

If you don’t have a specific homework station carved out, this DIY caddy is a fantastic alternate solution. Fill it with tubes and jars with daily homework essentials such as pens, pencils, highlighters, glue, scissors, etc… and you have yourself a portable homework station that can be used at the dining table or kitchen counter.

DIY Book Caddy

Courtesy of IHeart Organizing

Who knew dish racks could be so versatile? Sure, they are great for drying your daily dinnerware, however, they can also double as file storage and as the sweetest book organizer around.

DIY Calendar

Courtesy of The 36th Avenue

School and busy schedules go hand-in-hand. Keep the entire family on the same page by creating a large DIY calendar. Whether you utilize dry erase paint or a chalkboard decal, by creating an oversized version that can be mounted in a centralized location, everyone will know when baseball practice lands and what day the final exam takes place.

Homework Station Paper Roll

Courtesy of IHeart Organizing

Another way to manage daily homework assignments and chores, is to install a roll of paper on a towel bar just above their desk. By adding chalkboard clips, your child can easily check off his or her daily tasks.

DIY Clothing Dividers

Manage the morning mad dash to the bus by being prepared a few days ahead of time. Day-of-the-week clothing dividers can be made from cereal box cardboard to organize pre-planned clothing attire.

DIY Drawer Dividers

Courtesy of IHeart Organizing

Looking for more ways to re-use empty food packaging? These colorful DIY drawer dividers will keep daily school supplies nice and tidy.

DIY Lunch Bags

Courtesy of The Purl Bee

These DIY lunch bags are sure to be the talk of the lunch table! And although we are talking back-to-school, I am about to sew one for myself because they are just so charming!

DIY Pencil Pouch

Courtesy of Kireei

Small zippered pouches offer endless versatility and can store everything from charging cables to coloring pencils and work wonders for keeping a backpack organized. And bonus, they are something that you can make at home with your sewing machine!

DIY Paper Organizer

Courtesy of Crazy Little Projects

How about creating a portable desk with the help of some fabric and elastic? This DIY on-the-go organizer has the ability to hold a phone or calculator, notes, pens, a tablet and paper! This little setup is fantastic for students studying at home, at school and even in the car or bus.

Paperclip Page Flags

Courtesy of Paper & Pin

For those of you that prefer lighter DIY projects, these little paperclip flags may be just what you are looking for. Simply pair washi tape with paper clips and you will create some very functional yet fancy page markers.

DIY Color Block Pencils

Courtesy of The Crafted Life

Another charming and simple way to dress up everyday school supplies is with a little craft paint!

DIY Wall Cubbies

Courtesy of The House of Wood

And last but not least, these stunning DIY wall pockets are the perfect solution for managing the abundance of papers and books that come home from school each day.

How are you getting creative with your back-to-school organization this year?

How to Wear Fall’s Prettiest Makeup Looks

Transitioning your makeup routine to cooler weather typically involves ditching everything spring-y (and dare we say fun?) in favor of dark, moody colors. No so this year. New fall launches feature tons of upbeat blues, teals, and greens for eyes and feminine pinks for lips. Since these saturated colors can be scary for some, we asked a few of our favorite beauty experts for ideas on how to wear these runway favorites in real life.

Clockwise from top: Clockwise from top: Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Defining EyeShadow Wet/Dry in Emerald Envy, Hyper Teal, and Blue Fury, $25 each; Clinique Skinny Stick in Lanky Lapis, $16.50; Vintage by Jessica Liebeskind Velvet Lip Crayon in Vintage Rose, $22; Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Amazing Grace, $32; Maybelline New York Lip Studio Color Blur in I’m Blushing, $8.99; Lancôme Grandiôse Mascara in Bleu Mirifique, $32; Photo: Jeff Harris.


Smoky eye: Blogger Caralyn Brook of recently demoed a dramatic new twist on the traditional smoky eye. Instead of smudging charcoal or even black shadow, she used a combination of rose gold and metallic green. If you’re not a fan of green, this look would also work with bright blue, navy, or teal options. Click here for the full tutorial.


Photo courtesy of Caralyn Brook/Mascara


Subtle liner: Not ready to go crazy with color on your eyes? That’s totally fine. Instead of going all out with shadow, try a  swoosh of eyeliner along your bottom lashes. Clinique tapped makeup artist Florrie White to show you how to achieve the look with their new ultra-precise liner called the Skinny Stick (shown in Mini Moss, below).  Again, you can do this with any of the new hues: Blues, greens, and teals are all a go. Click here for the full video.


Photo courtesy of Clinique


Pink lips: A matte finish is the way to go, since super-shiny can look a little juvenile in this shade. For a full-on statement, just swipe the color onto your mouth and be done with it. For a more subdued take, try dabbing the product onto your lips with your pointer finger—you’ll get a subtle wash of pink. Bobbi Brown makeup artist Cassandra Garcia created the look below for the fall 2015 Tibi runway show.


Photo courtesy of Bobbi Brown



5 Tips for Carrying a Palette Throughout the Home

Hi BHG readers!  My name is Lauren Liess and I’m the decorator for the 2015 BHG Innovation Home. My firm began the decorating plans this past Winter, and I’m so excited to walk you through our thought process as we get closer to the big reveal in October. Today, I’m sharing tips for how keep a color palette cohesive throughout an entire home.

1. Stick to a general palette and vary the accent colors to keep it interesting.

When I’m working on a palette for a house, I like to carry a general color scheme throughout and vary the accent colors in different proportions. For the Innovation Home, I started with a heavy dose of blue and added in green and yellow accents at different ratios throughout the house. Some rooms are more heavily accented in yellow, whereas other colors are more accented in green.

2. The walls don’t need to do all the color “work.”

It’s still possible to have a colorful space with neutral walls by bringing in color with the furnishings, curtains and other accents. For example in the Innovation Home living room, I used a blue sofa and blue patterned curtains which make the palette come across as very “blue” without actually painting the walls blue, but in other rooms, I used blue walls and different-colored furnishings to stay true to my palette.

3. Think of texture like a color in your palette.

For the natural, relaxed look I love, texture is key and is as important to a palette as any color would be.  Just as I made sure to include particular colors in the Innovation Home palette, I was also careful to include lots of natural woven textures–like seagrass, grasscloth, and water hyacinth–throughout.

4. Opt for earthy.

In a fresh color palette, I like to include enough “earthy” materials and colors so that the color palette doesn’t start to feel too cute or juvenile. Pieces of wood furniture, worn metals and natural all work to add depth and sophistication to a colorful palette.

5. Choose paint color last.

Select paint colors for a house last, after already choosing the furnishings and the fabrics. It’s much easier to find paint colors that work with fabrics than it is the other way around.

New York City makeup artist and photographer Tina Turnbow preps A-lister faces for the red carpet, magazines, and personal appearances on the regular. (Allow us to name drop: You’ve seen her work on Keri Russell, Debra Messing, Amanda Peet, Mary Louise Parker, and many, many more.) Here, five products she always keeps in her glam-on-the-go kit:

CoverGirl LashBlast Clump Crusher Mascara is one of my favorite mascaras ever. I use it on my clients all the time—it’s surprisingly dramatic. The secret is to really wiggle it into the root of the lashes, and then used the curved brush to push the hairs up and give everything a little lift.”

WEI Tibetan Chrysanthemum Correcting Eye Treatment Pads are perfect if eyes look tired. You won’t believe how well they work! The individual pads are cold, so they constrict the blood vessels, tightening puffiness. You’ll look more awake in minutes. All of my clients die over them.”

LORAC Pro Palettes come with tons of super pigmented shades. You can blend them out so they’re sheer or concentrate the color for a bolder look. You can even use them as liner. Plus, I love that they have real staying power, and I can trust that they won’t crease throughout the night.”

“Bright lipstick will call attention to any flakiness or dryness on the lips. Before I apply a bright color, I always prep the lips with Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. Dab it on with a finger, then leave it on for at least one minute, so it has time to sink in.”

“NARS Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder takes down shine without making skin look flat in photos. It has really nice light reflecting properties and leaves skin with a flattering smooth texture. I use a fluffy brush to dust it onto the T-zone.”

10 Easy Decor Ideas for a Late-Summer Soiree

Say goodbye to summer in style by throwing a late-summer soiree. Think about it: One last chance to show off your tan and catch up on some much-needed girl time before the temperature drops and the kids go back to school. Let’s get this party (pardon me, soiree) started, shall we?


First thing’s first. Decor. Decorations are a key component to throwing a successful summer soiree. Summer-inspired centerpieces, floral decor, colorful tabletops and elegant place settings will set your soiree apart from other sunny season extravaganzas. I’ve put together 10 easy decor ideas to get your creative juices flowing!


1. I’m officially in LOVE with these DIY Oversized Tissue Paper Flowers from A Blissful Nest. They’re beautiful, dramatic and oh-so-chic!



2. Check out Making Home Base‘s  Citrus Stamped Tea Towels for a quick, colorful and cheap update to any white linen.



3. Songbird‘s Easy Summer Arrangement is a refreshing take on a classic centerpiece.



4. How stunning are these DIY String Chandeliers by Ruffled?! With balloons, glue and twine you can make these beauties yourself.



5. Dessert anyone? Let your candy creations shine with a DIY Tissue Paper Flower Backdrop. See Project Nursery for step-by-step instructions.



6. Stylize your dishware with Sugar and Cloth‘s DIY Pineapple Plates tutorial.



7. Instead of flowers, opt for a succulent/cactus centerpiece. Add a burst of color to your table with these DIY Gold Dipped Plant Pots from The Style House.



8. Add instant fragrance to drinks with Petal Ice Cubes courtesy of Express – O.



9. I didn’t know this was possible! DIY Decoupage Palm Frond Balloons ?! Get the deets at Balloon Time.


photos courtesy of Studio DIY


10. Fruit made pretty! 100 Layer Cake does a Spray-Painted Pineapple Centerpiece flawlessly.



Happy Summer!


xx madison

DIY-ify: Easy Woven Rope Basket

Easy Woven Rope Basket DIY

Easy Woven Rope Basket DIY

I love baskets. They can help turn a messy storage spot into well organized and pretty space. Baskets can be expensive if you buy them new at the store, so I typically buy mine at thrift shops (I never spend more than $10 on a basket). I’ve been on the search for a lovely little tabletop basket that could hold any items that I am using that day for a project. I had no luck finding exactly what I needed, so I made my own. This easy woven rope basket DIY is exactly what I needed, plus it’s cute.



Easy Woven Rope Basket DIY

1) Let’s get started on the base of the basket. Thread about a yard of embroidery floss onto the needle and tie a knot at the end. Important note: don’t cut the sisal rope. It will work out much better if the rope is one continuous piece.

  • a. Grab the sisal rope and twist it into a little roll (about 1.5 inches wide).
  • b. Push the embroidery floss through the side of the rope roll a couple of times to secure the roll.
  • c. Wrap a stitch around one section of rope, and instead of pushing the stitch through the gap in the rope, catch a bit of the rope section next to the piece you’re wrapping the stitch around. Note: catching a bit of rope will make the basket stronger.
  • d. Continue stitching along the rope and adding more coiling to the roll as you stitch. Note: if you’re planning on putting heavy items in this basket, I suggest randomly stitching over TWO sections of rope instead of the one as you go along.

Easy Woven Rope Basket DIY

2) How to end and add a new piece of embroidery floss.

  • e. When you reach the end of a piece of embroidery floss, thread the needle through the side stitch and knot it onto another stitch.
  • f. Thread the tail from the knot through the side stitches.
  • g. To add another piece of embroidery floss, thread the needle through the side stitches and knot it onto another stitch.
  • h. Continue stitching along with your new embroidery floss piece.

Easy Woven Rope Basket DIY

3) Continue on with the rope coil. It’s time to stop when you reach the width you’d like your basket to be (since this is the base of your basket). My width is 9.5 inches wide.

Easy Woven Rope Basket DIY

4) How to create the sides of the basket.

  • j & k. When you’re happy with the width of the base, stack the rope on top of the outside piece of rope and continue with your stitching.

Easy Woven Rope Basket DIY

5) Add some pops of color with little sections of yarn.

  • l. When you’re ready to add some color, knot a bit of yarn over some rope (before you stitch it onto the basket). Wrap that yarn tightly around the rope until it’s about 1.5 inches wide. Tie the end of that yarn to the rope piece, then continue stitching along the rope OVER the yarn. Keep adding rows of rope until you’re happy with the height of the basket. I stopped at 4 inches (and I used about 75% of the rope I purchased). Note: I created a little pattern with my yarn. I spaced the yarn by 6 stitches, and left a space of one rope coil in between.

Easy Woven Rope Basket DIY

Easy Woven Rope Basket DIY

6) How to add the basket handles and end secure the end of the rope to the basket.

  • m. To add the handle, stitch about 4 wraps of embroidery floss over the rope and secure onto the rope section below.
  • n. Push out the rope a bit to create the handle shape, then secure that end as you did to start the handle. Repeat the handle steps on the opposite side. To secure the end of the rope, roll it into a tiny roll and stitch onto the inside of the basket.

Easy Woven Rope Basket DIY

Total cost: $9 (the only thing I had to buy for this project was the rope, since I had all the other materials).

If you create this DIY, I’d love to see it! You can share a link in the comments below, or tag me in Instagram with a photo (my username is @thepapermama).

- Chelsey, The Paper Mama

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