Minneapolis DIY style blogger Erin Francois, author of francoisetmoi.com, says she comes from “a long line of makers,” including a grandmother and mother with abundant drawing and sewing talent. Francois’ youthful love of playing with craft materials eventually led to a degree in interior design and a job applying her skills to commercial spaces.
After she and her husband bought a 1930s Tudor in the Tangletown neighborhood, Francois blogged about their extensive (and very hands-on) renovation process and how she imprinted the home with what she describes as her “handmade modern” style. Furnishings and accessories that feel personal and cozy — a vintage Persian rug, faux fur throws, a live-edge walnut bench — are layered on a clean, contemporary backdrop of white walls, cabinetry and tile.
The house is full of Francois’ DIY items, including a blanket ladder made from closet rods, a repurposed thrift store coffee table and a radiator cover that lends sophisticated polish to a once-drab foyer.
When it comes to holiday decor, Francois taps her Scandinavian heritage to practice hygge, the art of savoring simple pleasures. That means incorporating natural elements (winter greenery, berry branches), using everyday, utilitarian materials in unexpected ways (paper bag hanging stars), and plenty of candles (including ones she created by rolling beeswax sheets).
Francois encourages her readers to tackle their own projects, big or small. When anyone admires one of her DIY pieces, she delights in telling them, “I made it — and you can, too.”
AMARYLLIS BULB CENTERPIECE
A simple, yet impactful centerpiece of easy-to-grow amaryllis or paperwhite bulbs in a galvanized metal planter, dressed-up with a variety of mosses.
• Galvanized metal trough planter. Francois likes the ones from Winona’s Behrens Manufacturing (she’s a brand ambassador)
• Amaryllis or paperwhite bulbs
• Small pebbles
• A variety of mosses
1. Pour 1-2 inches of pebbles at the bottom of the planter for drainage.
2. Evenly distribute bulbs in the planter. Three amaryllis bulbs or six paperwhite bulbs fit perfectly.
3. Fill around the bulbs with soil so that the top third of the bulb remains showing.
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4. Water the soil around the bulbs thoroughly. Then hold off watering again until you see new growth.
5. Top the soil with mosses for a dressed-up look.
PAPER BAG HANGING STARS
Brown paper lunch bags are used to create beautiful and simple multifaceted hanging stars. This is a great project to make with kids.
• Small paper bags (6 inches wide or 3 inches wide)
• Glue stick
• Hot glue gun
1. Place a flat paper bag on the table in front of you, placing the side with the folded bottom of the bag up.
2. Apply glue stick to the rectangle (the bottom of the bag), as well as a stripe of glue up the middle length of the bag.
3. Place another bag of the same size on top of the first bag and press down firmly.
4. Glue and stack three more bags in the same manner until you have five bags glued together.
5. Repeat steps 2-4 to create another glued stack of five bags.
6. Cut the corners off the top of the bags to form a point.
7. Glue the two stacks of bags together with the same glue method as step 2.
8. Cut a 24-inch length of ribbon (for large star) and 16-inch length of ribbon (for small star). Fold the ribbon in half, and hot glue the bottom few inches together.
9. Fan out the star into a circle so the two ends of the stacks meet. Sandwich the loop of ribbon between the two ends of the fan.
10. Hot glue the two ends of the fan (with the ribbon sandwiched in between) together.
11. Allow a few minutes for the glue to dry before hanging the star.
Fresh, whole oranges and tangerines studded with cloves and tucked into a bowl of greenery make easy coffee table decor that smells amazing.
• Citrus fruit, such as oranges and tangerines
• Whole cloves
• Rubber band
• Ribbon (optional)
1. Create designs on the surface of the orange by puncturing small holes in the orange peel with a toothpick. Then insert whole cloves into the toothpick holes. (Wrap rubber bands around the orange to use as a guide for creating straight lines.)
2. Tie ribbon around the clove-studded orange for added embellishment.
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