DIY enthusiast turns her kitchen into a winter wonderland with E-bay finds and crafty creations.
By Barbara Schuetz
When it comes to holidays, especially Christmas, Alyshia Wilson pulls out all the stops.
“I love Christmas,” says Alyshia, a freelance interior decorator, artist and DIY enthusiast in Frisco, Texas. “My husband, Josh, and I host the big family celebration, so I really get into decorating our home. But I don’t put a lot of money into my decorations.”
Instead, the inventive mother of two—Hannah is 5 and Micah is 7 months—relies on finds from thrift shops, garage sales and discount stores and makes them over with a little paint, oil glaze, fabric, pinecones, stamped script and whatever else she can think of.
“It’s not just a matter of being thrifty,” she says. “We’re big recyclers, so I hate to see anything go to waste. Even Hannah will pull things out of the recycling bin and ask, ‘Can we make a dinosaur with this?’”
Alyshia also appreciates things with character and history. “My dad says I have an old soul,” she notes. She blends select pieces, such as the 1950s buffet in her dining room, with items and furnishings she can artfully, artificially age. Her homey kitchen is a prime example.
“When we bought our house,” Alyshia recalls, “the cabinets were an orange-ish oak, and the ceiling had a large fluorescent light over an ordinary island.”
An old four-poster bed—a $35 find from Craigslist (an online classified ads site)—provided the posts. She split them, attaching some to the cabinets, then brushed on layers of acrylic craft paint in grays and browns to mimic years of wear. After nailing the leftover posts and the feet to the island, she painted it black and distressed it with antique gold so it resembled a piece of furniture.
“I also painted the ugly white fluorescent light box and trimmed it with molding,” she adds. “Of course, there’s more I’d like to do, but for now, I have the custom look
I wanted.” And she got it for less than $100.
The home’s open floor plan means visitors can see the kitchen the moment they enter the front door, and Alyshia’s holiday decor draws them in.
The pot rack over the renovated island is almost hidden, wrapped beautifully in pine garland, grapevine and hand-stamped burlap. Alyshia wired in loads of pinecones and then added feathers, feather balls and birds as accents. More greenery and pinecones peek out from atop the cabinets, giving a holiday feel to her birdhouse collection. Add some paper trees, a painted “Merry Christmas” tray and a Santa cookie jar, and the room looks elegant and festive.
“I found the cookie jar at a resale shop, but I also pick up new ornaments, candles and other holiday basics at the Dollar Tree, or buy items online,” Alyshia says. “The minute I see something, I know what I’ll use it for.”
Take the mirror ball ornaments she found at an irresistible four for a dollar. To artificially tarnish them, she splattered some raw umber oil glaze—her favorite aging tool—into a plastic box, added the balls and rolled them in the wet paint. Then she clustered and hung the dry ornaments with brown grosgrain ribbon on a pair of wall sconces at the kitchen entry.
Alyshia uses everyday household items, too, ruffling coffee filters into flowers and staining everything from kraft paper to fabric with coffee for an antique look. She even bleached twigs from the backyard and sprayed them silver; now they glimmer in her dining room chandelier arrangement. “You don’t have to spend big bucks for a big impact,” she says.
Click here for a better look at Alyshia’s kitchen layout.