Decorate with Crafts

Warm Welcome

The Country Sampler stylists share 20 fresh tips for giving a home a breath of springtime air just in time to greet Easter guests.

With brighter days, budding trees and bold bulbs heralding spring's return, it's no wonder we also feel the pull to give our homes a seasonal refresh. It's also time to look ahead to Easter and other gatherings that bring opportunities for entertaining family and friends. Roll out the welcome mat, dress up the door, set the table and add a splash of color to revive your rooms.

Country Sampler stylists René Haines and Carolynn Geesaman worked alongside homeowner Jami Prough to give her historic home in Bluffton, Indiana, a lively look for spring.

ami, who grew up in Bluffton, had long dreamed of living in one of the old homes in the town's Villa North neighborhood. In 1992, her wish came true when she and husband Tim purchased an early 1900s home. "It was so run-down, our parents tried to talk us out of it," she recalls.

Luckily, Tim is a general contractor and had the skills to fix it up. "We've added on and completely redone it, and we did most of the work ourselves," Jami says.

The decorating is Jami's domain, and she is especially adept at transforming items to suit her cottage country style. "I am very sentimental," she notes. "I don't get rid of anything, but I will paint it to make it fit."

With her home the hub for family gatherings, Jami loves setting a pretty table and greeting guests with welcoming displays, especially during holidays.

To learn how René and Carolynn carried springy style from Jami's porch to dining room, read on for 20 great decorating tips.

Warm Welcome

STROKE OF CLUCK
1. Eggstra effects. Cover ceramic eggs with strips of floral fabric affixed with decoupage medium. Embellish with colored jute, burlap ribbon, and lace floral accents with metal centers. On some eggs, glue small flowers with rhinestone centers atop the fabric print for a 3-D look. Display in a nest of Spanish moss.
2. Nesting instinct. A pair of plump wool chicks adds charm to a table display built around a primitive cubby. Mama bird perches on the top shelf, surrounded by feathery parsley greens; baby sits nearby atop a runner layered over a pastel rag rug.
3. Over easy. Speckled crafts-store eggs are the perfect filler for tiny terra-cotta pots. To coordinate the pots with other elements in the decor, paint them with blue chalky-finish paint and then distress by sanding and applying antiquing glaze.

Warm Welcome

HELLO, COLOR
4. Light effect. Twine a colorful garland through the arms of a decorative chandelier and replace the bulbs with clay pots filled with moss and battery-powered candles.
5. On the fence. Prop a salvaged piece of fence beside the door, with a basket full of blooms hanging from a picket.
6. Potted panache. Top a garden urn with twig and forsythia wreaths before potting a real or faux shrub inside. Here, the green plant picks up on the hues on the siding, checkerboard-painted porch and layered accent rugs.
7. Pretty as a picture. Paint a large open frame in a vivid blue hue and then hang it on the door using a wreath hanger. Showcase a sunshiney daisy wreath on top, wiring it in place.
8. Wheely sweet. Turn a broken-down bicycle into a whimsical design element by spray painting it white. Add a bright basket filled with a floral bouquet and garden tools. "It's a fun way to give something old a new purpose," René says.
9. Banner day. Bedeck a banner with a bunny stencil. Make or buy a rectangular fabric banner with a rod pocket. Brush on watered-down white paint to make a center oval large enough to fit your image. Stencil the design and embellish it with faux flowers and leaves. Using pastel ribbons, hang it alongside your door with another seasonal sign.

Warm Welcome

TIP-TOP TABLE
10. Flower power. Give plain place mats a perky pick-me-up with a floral element. Hot glue an arrangement of tiny faux flowers and leaves along the top left side of each mat, making sure it will be visible with the plate in place.
11. Seeing spots. Update inexpensive glass salad plates by decoupaging pastel polka-dot fabric to the back. To reuse them for another season, simply soak in warm water to loosen the fabric and glue. "This is such an easy way to add pattern to a place setting," René enthuses.
12. Bunny trail. A quilted runner sets the stage for a linear table centerpiece, accomplished with a grouping of letters and shapes that spell out "hop." Rest each letter in a small nest from the crafts store or make your own by wrapping petite gelatin molds with grapevine. Fill with floral foam and moss. Accent with silk cabbage leaves and decorative eggs.
13. Tiny treat. Make a solid-color napkin look fancy for the day by placing a paper doily, chocolate bunny candy and a few blades of artificial grass on top.
14. Hare raising. To add height to a table display, position a decorative element, such as a rabbit candleholder filled with delphinium, atop a cake or candle pedestal, surrounded by a floral candle ring. Round out the arrangement by filling in open spaces with Easter grass and coordinating colored eggs.

Warm Welcome

COTTONTAIL COLLECTION
15. Bottled up. Paint an assortment of bottles with pastel chalky-finish paint, distressing with a bit of stain. Use decals or decoupaged letters to spell out "spring" or another word of your choosing.
16. A tisket a tasket. Direct attention to an Easter sign by framing it within a small tobacco basket adorned with lace and burlap ribbon. Take a cue from the sign and position a small bushel basket with a chalky blue finish nearby, filling it with a bunny and faux grass.
17. Show me the bunny. Gather a bevy of bunnies to get any area hopping. Position a stuffed burlap fellow peeking from behind a plant or fill an under-table box with an appliqué pillow and cozy striped throw.
18. Egg hunt. Elevate a tiny item, such as a nest filled with eggs, by creating a pedestal stand. Glue a small round cutting board or plaque or lid from a Shaker box to the top of a candlestick. Add a fern wreath studded with fresh daisies and tuck the nest inside.
19. Weighty element. Let an old scale play a supporting role, using it as the base for another component, such as a gathering of fenced-in eggs. "I love decorating with scales because they are so versatile," Carolynn says. "This one has a fan shape that fills in an open area in the grouping."
20. Tasty tieback. Fashion cute curtain holdbacks from decorative carrots combined with a length of twine.

MARKETPLACE PRODUCTS
For more information, visit our Country Marketplace online.

STROKE OF CLUCK
Chick on cart set with momma and baby, Homespun Blessings
Primitive cubby, The 13th Colony, LLC

HELLO, COLOR
Pink and cream forsythia and flower garland, Primitive Home Decors
Bunnies for Sale sign, Hare Hollow
Mountain daisy wreath, Smicksburg Drying Shed
Here Comes Peter Cottontail stencil, Scrappin' Along Craft Stencils
Sage oval braided rug, The Braided Rug Place

TIP-TOP TABLE
Hop letters, DMZ Designs
Brown bunny candleholder, Glory Days Mercantile
Dresden Plate quilted runner, Choices Quilts
Fabric chocolate bunny, Ginther Village Craft Co.

COTTONTAIL COLLECTION
Spring Bunny sign, Impressions on Market
Burlap bunny with bow and Carrots for Sale stuffed bunny, Primitive Home Decors,
Wool appliqué bunny pillow, The Unique Black Sheep
Ticking throw, Country Village Shoppe

Written by Lisa Sloan
Photographed by Scott Campbell
Styled by René Haines and Carolynn Geesaman