Friday, May 11, 2018

Decorating on a Shoestring Budget

It seems like the topic of decorating can hit a nerve with people.  Some love it, some hate the thought.  Most of the time there is one more thought right after the love/hate thing … decorating is too expensive!  I’d like to take this newsletter to talk about decorating on a shoestring budget.

First let’s look at what a shoestring budget is.  From Investopedia we find this definition …
A slang term used to describe a small amount of money that is considered to be inadequate for its intended purpose. A shoestring can be used in a number of idioms, such as: "The company financed that last project on a shoestring," or "Jim is living off of a shoestring budget."

BREAKING DOWN 'Shoestring'
Although a shoestring budget is considered inadequate, it may just be enough for an individual to live on or for a company to profit from a project. For companies, a particular project's return on investment would be much greater, due to the lower initial cost.

You can read more here.

Most of us do not have unlimited funds so let’s look at ways to get the most from what we do have when it comes to decorating.  There are many styles of decorating.  We won’t look at one particular style but how we can pull off our style no matter what it is.

If you are not sure what your style is, look at Pinterest or Instagram for ideas.  When you find a photo you love, save it to your Pinterest/IG and go back to it later.  I believe you’ll end of finding your style when you have several photos saved.

So, what can we do to save money and still have our home look stylish?  Here are 4 ways to decorate on a budget.

1) Clearance Sales
       When I go to a store like Hobby Lobby or Kirkland’s, the first place I look is the clearance section.  Often at Hobby Lobby in our town, the home décor clearance aisle has items that are the “last one” or it may have a slight defect.  Sometimes it has a chip or a scratch.  Sometimes, I have found something I loved that took little (or no) effort to make it work.  I once found a lamp that was about 90% off the original price because it was missing something like a small clamp.  I bought it for less than $10.00, maybe as little as $7.00, and my husband got it fixed for just a dollar or two in no time!  It has worked fine ever since and looks great!  You do have to inspect the items carefully to be sure there is not a defect in it that would inhibit you from using it as you wish or that could cause harm when handling the item.  Sometimes the defect may be a small scratch or rubbed area.  This can be covered up sometimes with paint.

      In the crafting section at Hobby Lobby I found out some interesting information, at least in their store in our town.  If they have an overstock situation on certain items, then the overstock of that item gets marked down to a clearance price.  A young lady that worked the paper crafting area once pointed out some items on clearance that she knew I often bought and said they were considered overstock.  There was nothing wrong with them and of course I snatched up the reduced items right away!  These reduced items in the craft section can help us better afford what we need to decorate a piece for a room.

2) Thrift Stores & Flea Markets
I love going to thrift stores and flea markets!  I am amazed at what I can find in thrift stores each time I visit them.  As they say, one woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure!  Often the prices are low and very affordable and many of the goods are one of a kind.  If I see something in a booth at a thrift store over the course many weeks and it’s still hanging around, I’ll make an offer.  Obviously, it has not sold for some reason.  It is taking up space that could be used to display something else the seller may have at home or in storage.  If it’s not marked “firm” on the price tag, I feel free to make an offer.  Sometimes the offer is accepted and sometimes it’s not.  It is business, not personal, so don’t let it hurt your feelings if your offer is not accepted.  Since stock turns over often at successful stores, it pays to go often and see what “new” items have come in.

3) Auctions
We had a long running auction at one time our town.  Auctions, in one way, are like thrift stores.  The offerings change from one auction to the next.  It’s never the same stuff twice in a row.
When my family moved to our current home we used the auction to find furniture and decorative items like curio cabinets, paintings, furniture and so on.  We attended each week’s auction over a period of months till we felt we had all we needed to fill our formerly sparse rooms.

Over the months we attended the auction we bought 2 all wood and glass curio cabinets.  One is an art deco style and the other a rustic, more primitive style. 
We also bought several solid wood side-tables.  They were all 2-tiered tables with an upper and lower tier and stained, not painted.

We also bought a solid wood antique art deco style dresser for the amazing winning bid of only $80.00!  It is truly unique, and I have not seen one like it anywhere else, either in person, online or in any thrift or antique stores.  This dresser is in our bedroom and has made an awesome storage piece that is quite a conversation piece as well. 

Also, we obtained a painting that was already framed in an all wood frame.  It is hanging in our dining area.

4) At the In-laws and the Outlaws
One time my husband, daughter and I were at my father-in-law’s home.  Somehow, we got to pulling stuff out from under a bed in an extra bedroom.  Under the bed we found an old framed print.  I fell in love with the print and the character of the whole piece.  I wanted it!  I asked my father-in-law what his plans were for the piece.  He said I could have it if I wanted it, all for free!  Yay!  This print now hangs in our living room.

      As our parents and grandparents age, many of them want to start downsizing and decluttering to make life easier for themselves.  This is an opportunity for them to share some of their treasures with the younger generations.  I am not saying to scavenge their home for good with a greedy or covetous spirit.  However, as these conversations come up, it could be the time to let your parents and grandparents know what things are special to you and why, so when the time comes for the piece to depart their home, maybe it will end up in your own.

Now that you have learned some ways to save money on decorating it is time to go to my website and look at the sale section!  All the items in my sale section are between 10% and 50% off.  Sale prices are noted on each item.  Click here for the sale section.

     Memory Frame

Happy decorating on a shoestring budget.  Visit my Facebook business page and share your ideas of decorating on a budget.  Click here to go to my biz page to share your ideas.

God bless,

Thursday, May 3, 2018

A New Era

Have you ever loved doing something then faced a situation where you could no longer do that fun thing?  I have been faced with that scenario the last few weeks and am hoping to resolve it one way or another.

When I first started my art business a few years ago I started with 4”x4” tumbled travertine coasters and 8”x8” tumbled travertine trivets.  I have many designs for each saved that I made over the years.  Some of the design themes are inspirational, sports, fleur de lis, holidays, monogram, and of course some that are hard to classify into one category.

For many years I obtained 4”x4” tiles from a local flooring store, Wrights.  They provided excellent customer service and quality products.  After being in business for about 30 years, Wright’s has closed their doors for the last time due to illness.  Just before they closed, I was able to place one last order for 2 cases of tiles.  They are such wonderful people it’s hard to see that “partnership” end.  I am hoping to see them around town.

I obtained the 8”x8” tiles from another local store until the tiles were no longer available, a few years ago.  Well, technically they are available but in sets with a variety of sizes in each set that I cannot use.  However, I recently found a stash at my home that I had put away for “safe keeping.”  They were put away so well that I had forgotten them for a long time!  I am so happy to have found them!  I have a couple of my trivets featured here and will be adding more to my website.

The situation now is that I am having difficulty finding even the 4”x4” at a price that keeps this line of products affordable.  My costs are tripled or almost tripled with the available locations from which I can purchase, or the tiles were not available for order from their warehouses.  I do not want to have to raise prices on my coasters nor face having to offer inferior products just to have this line of products in my offerings.

Considering what I have found I will offer my remaining coasters and when they are gone, they are gone, sadly.  My remaining coasters are first quality and something I would have in my own home.  If this were not the case, I would pull them from my website.  Rest assured, they make beautiful functional gifts for yourself, your family or your friends.

The upside to this situation is that it is moving me toward finding new and interesting handcrafted items to have in my shop.  Sometimes we face one door closing to find another door open.  So this is a new era at Cynthia Welch Designs.  I am proud of the coasters and trivets I have offered but look forward to new things to come!

This is where you, my friends, customers and subscribers come in.  I am looking for input from you!  See my questions for you below.

  • What unique, upcycled, hard-to-find, handcrafted items are you looking for?  The unique items you’re looking for may be for decorating your own home.  The handcrafted gifts for family or friends may be for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, a housewarming or retirement, a wedding gift or other occasion.
  • What is one thing you are looking for to complete a vignette in your home?  This “one thing” could be an accent piece or the main piece to get he vignette started.
  • What do you usually look for when purchasing a gift for the person who has everything?  When someone seemingly has everything, they are a challenge when it comes to gift-giving.  Do you look for practical and functional gifts or something they love but would never purchase for themselves?
  •  When you look gifts, what price range do you typically look for?  I ask this question no to be nosey!  vbg  I ask because I want to try to cover different price points in my online shop, if possible.
  • What comes first when looking for décor or gifts … form (beauty and attractiveness) or function?
Now I have 3 things for you to do.  Choose one or more to do right now!  Please share one of the following...
  1. This blog
  2. My coasters and trivets .... Click here to see my coaster selections.
    Click here to see my trivet selections.
  3. My business page and my group!  Click here to go to my Facebook business page.
    Click here to go to my Facebook group.
I hope you have a great day!

God bless,

Monday, September 25, 2017

3 Months and Counting

Good afternoon!

I just looked at the calendar on my computer and realized something big .... Christmas is 3 months from today!  Yikes!  Better get busy with Christmas gifts!  Be sure to read to the end about a wish list and layaway opportunity.

The painted pieces in my shop are all one of a kind pieces.  Sooooo, this means when they are gone, they are gone.  Even if I found the exact same piece to paint again, it won't look the same as the previous one.  It is very hard to duplicate a piece for a few reasons.  I don’t always remember what I’ve done to a piece to get the look.  I don’t usually keep records of it either.  I suppose I should keep records for those occasional pieces I could attempt to duplicate like mason jars and so on.

Now when it comes to the designs on my tumbled travertine coasters, I can duplicate those with no trouble.  Same goes for my cup holder (car) coasters.  If you see something you like and want to change a color or two, we can discuss that option.

Some of the popular options for gifting coasters are my monogram designs.  This design is great for the person who has everything.  I can change the color of the design but most people go with black.  It is hard to match someone’s décor without a swatch, which is what I’d need to get as close as possible to their color scheme.  A good second choice for color is Timber Brown, which is a dark brown similar to chocolate ice cream.

Other popular designs include sports-themed coasters for LSU and the Saints.  I also have fleur de lis coasters with no reference to football and no wording on them.  This keeps them neutral enough that almost anyone will enjoy them.  If you or your recipient favor inspirational or religious themes, I have coasters with inspirational phrases and scriptures on them as well.

Even at this date in September, we must remember to allow time for processing orders and shipping.  I ship via Priority Mail through the USPS for most items, including any of my coasters.  The USPS has three holidays between now and the end of November than can impact shipping.  They are observed as Federal Holidays follows:

Monday, October 9--Columbus Day
Friday, November 10--Veterans Day
Thursday, November 23--Thanksgiving

If you are local to my area and want to avoid shipping charges, please contact me prior to ordering and I’ll contact you about free local pick up.  I live in Houma, LA and have an arrangement for pick up at a local retail business during normal business hours.  This provides safety for you, the customer, and myself.

Christmas Wish List
I would love to help you with your Christmas gift purchases.  I will even work with you to make up a Christmas Wish List of items you’d like to receive for you to give your family members.  Remember spending time looking at the Wish Books as kids?  I know my brother and I could generate quite a list from those Sear’s Wish Books.  This list would be from items currently available in my online shop.  Remember, some pieces are one of a kind and cannot be duplicated so it’s important to list more than one item.  There is no charge for this service.

Check out my website by clicking here.

Layaway Service
I also offer layaway.  Here is how it works.  Choose the item you want to put on layaway and ….
Date of Layaway:  50% or more due to hold it
November 1-10:  ½ of Balance Due
December 1-10:  Balance Due and pick up layaway

Accepted Forms of Payment
·         All major credit or debit cards
Payments with credit/debit cards may be taken over the phone.
·         Cash

I hope you’ll consider shopping with me for your Christmas gifts.  Please share this post so others can shop smart:  shop small, shop local.

God bless!


Friday, September 22, 2017

Happy Fall Y'all!

Happy Autumn!

The photo is beautiful but that is not reality down here along the gulf coast.  Instead of the beautiful colors shown here, we have green most of the year, then brown during the winter.  Even so, I cannot wait for the cooler temps to arrive sometime in December.  LOL

I am always ready for Autumn to arrive because it means cooler temps, a welcome relief to our hot and humid summers.  After several months of temperatures in the 90's+ and humidity trotting right long at or near 100%, we welcome temps that are even in the low 80's.  Our leaves don't have the opportunity to make the dramatic changes, full of that Autumn-colored rainbow, like we see in so many places.  However, once the weather begins to moderate, people begin to have a spring in their step and a smile on their face.

In the fall, I love walking out and experiencing the aroma of fireplaces or fire pits cranking up.  It’s such a wonderful aroma!  I love seeing leaves drop to the ground and crunching under my feet.  The brisk air sends a little chill up my spine and I breath in deeply.  It’s time to take that extra time for a 3rd (or 4th!) cup of coffee!

In reality, we have so little true Autumn or winter weather that our fall/winter wardrobe is not very extensive.  We don’t have too many long-sleeved shirts and I don’t own any boots.  I do have a pair of gloves, a scarf and a crocheted hat, only because we went on a business trip to Denver a few year ago in the dead of winter.  LOL  I am not sure I want that much cold for that long.  It was great to visit, but I am not sure I want to deal with the winters of a truly cold area.

Autumn also means it’s craft show time!  And I say bring on the craft shows!  We are working hard behind the scenes to get ready for the fall shows season.  Dh has been working mentally to figure out how to prepare and make some things, like an all new checkout stand.  He is working physically too, getting it done.  It is coming right along and is a welcome addition to our booth.

Dh has been getting our cargo trailer ready to handle all sorts of things … a new tent, display props including some decorative shelves for displaying our goodies, tables along with table cloths, box after box of our goodies and new this year, some furniture!  Dh has put lots of mental energy and sweat equity into this project!

This year we will work 4 shows.  Three of the shows will mean a bigger than usual booth.  Most booths are 10x10 and that is what we have gotten.  One of our shows offers a 10x16 as its standard size.  At one show, we chose to get a double booth which means its size is 10x20.  Our plan next year, God willing, is to move to larger booths at all shows that normally offer 10x10 booths.  The extral room will allow us to showcase our furniture and have room to breathe and move around more freely.  This is better for us and our customers!

We hope you’ll come check out the booth expansion and the new items we are adding to our booth.  You can find out where we’ll be, and when, here at my blog.  Our schedule is along the right side of the page.  If you have questions about any of the shows we are doing, please feel free to post them in the comments below or email me at

God bless,

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Busy Junkin' & A Craft Show

It has been a little quiet here but a lot has been going on. Dh and I just got back from a trip for a couple of days. Of course a good bit of it was made up of junkin'. We came back with a load from south Mississippi, Gulfport and Biloxi to be specific. We loved it there and wondered why we had not been there before.

We spent time looking for places that have junk, collectibles, antiques, and so on. This is one of our favorite adventures in this craft business. We get to spend time in sometimes smelling, dirty, crowded stores that are piled high with crap. Well, crap or beauty, depending on how you look at it, and depending on what it is. This adventure is sort of like looking at a house that is a fixer upper. You have to imagine it in all fixed up, repaired, upcycled and in all it's glory, that is to come. It hasn't happened yet, but it can. As dh says, you have to have a vision of how it'll turn out. I say, it has to call my name. We are saying the same thing but in different ways. Oh, we saw a lot more than we brought home. There is a lot more we could have purchased. We could have rented a trailer if needed. However, we bought what called our names.

As you see from the photos one of our goodies is an old trunk. We are going to use that in our booth so you'll have to come see us at a craft show to see how it gets used. The rest of it will be altered, painted or have something creative done to it.

I am a sucker for candlesticks. Especially big, chunky, heavy ones. Not so pretty? That is okay. I'll love on this big fat momma and bring some life to her. She is downright hefty.
The rainbow colored table will no longer be rainbow colored. She will find new life with some beautiful new neutral colors to suit your decor.

The rest of our fabulous finds will be restored with paint and sealed to protect it. If you see something you'd like to claim and have me custom paint it just for you, then please PM me ASAP.

These ugly ducklings are in line to become beautiful swans, along with some things I got a few weeks back in Opelousas.

Tomorrow I'll be working on creating some beautiful swans. I'll be posting them here first and you can see for yourself how they turn out.

We are adding some new product lines to our booth, some that will add instant appeal to our friends and customers. We are working with a partner for a handcrafted line using reclaimed wood from St. Mary Parish. We will have some for the first time at at our first show of the season. I am also working on a line that will appeal to your sensibilities in a clean and aromatic way.

Our first craft show on Saturday, October 7, 2017. I hope you'll come join us. We will be at Shadows on the Teche in New Iberia, LA. You will find the Shadows at 317 East Main Street. Admission is $5 for those 12 and over.

More to come later!

God bless,

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Repurpose, Recycle, Upcycle

Today is a warm, sunny day where I live and the main topic of conversation is back to school.

I suppose in the USA that is the biggest topic most anywhere.  School resumes in many communities over the next 3-4 weeks, which is quickly approaching.  Many moms are saying, "Yay!  I can't wait!"

When the kids go back to school many moms and wives look to getting the house back in order after the summer hiatus and chaos.  Some moms and wives might even look at sprucing up the decorating, even if they don't buy much new.  It is so popular now to upcycle, recycle and repurpose.  I came across some great ideas for upcycling and repurposing some common household items at Good Housekeepng.  I am betting you will find some things to do with those things layign around your house.  Here is the link .... Genius Repurposing Ideas

The other day my husband brought home a shelving unit from work for me to use in my studio.  It is one that he no longer needed but I could use.  It is wider, deeper, and taller than the one I was using.  (Of course I will keep the one I had, but use it in another way.)  Dh and I got it in the studio together and I have gotten it loaded up already.  Well, there is about 1 1/2 shelves that are waiting on finished stock to go.  I am so excited, even for this small thing, to be more organized and have a place for everything.

While I was restocking the new to me shelving unit, I rearranged some other things in the studio.  We have some plants that moved around, and a couple got moved outside.  I have a couple smaller tables and a small cabinet that can hold things that were moved to a new home in the studio as well.

With my small project of sprucing up a bit in the studio, I am feeling freer, more creative, and ready to get to work.  Which is a good thing.  I have lots to do to get ready for the fall.  The fall craft show season will not wait!  vbg

Are you doing something in your home to spruce it up?  Please feel free to share what you've done, even some photos!

God bless,


Friday, June 9, 2017

Summer School

Happy Friday!

I hope you are finding your summer is joyful and not too hot.  Down here in south Louisiana we have hot summers and always look for ways to cool off ... swimming pool, sprinkler, a cold drink, a snowball, and the ever-present air conditioner!   We look for ways to find joy and that usually that revolves around food, festivals or a combination of the two.

One way I am staying cool is indoors in the A/C and I am find some joy by working on my craft or taking a class related to my craft.  The company I get my chalk paint from has started offering classes on using their products.  I have taken two now and they have been very helpful.  I suppose this is my form of summer school ... but it's the good kind!

We have done some chalk painting 101 type classes for the first month.  We worked on a frame in the first class and on brass candlesticks and glass jars (or bottles) in the second class.  I am very excited about how my pieces have turned out.  Unfortunately I did not have a brass candlestick but I do have a frame and a wine bottle to play show and tell with.  Do you remember having show and tell in school or maybe scouts?  I do and I remember bringing stuff to show that I was excited about, whether anyone else was excited or like it.

Here are the photos of my pieces, first the wine bottle.  Actually I picked up this (empty) bottle at a shop purposely to upcycle and "pretty up."  I used chalk paint, Seaside, and brown aging wax for character from The Plaster Paint Company, which was included in the package of supplies for the class.  I finished my piece with some liquid matte wax and a light buffing.  I love, love, love how this turned out.  I am including a close up to show the details from distressing it.  The raffia gives this bottle a touch of whimsy.  You will be able to find this in my shop very soon.

My next piece to share is the frame.  The gold frame came with the supplies for the class.  It had a very formal feel to it.  I painted it with Sweet Cream and did some distressing with two different distressing tool, then used aging wax to add some character.  You will see there is gold peeking through where it was distressed.  This frame .... I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!  I am not sure I will be able to let go of this piece!  LOL  There are some pieces I just have to hang on to and this may end up being one of them.  I have included a close up for you to appreciate the details of this frame.  The back is fully finished and ready to show off a photo on a table, desk, shelf or hanging on the wall.

I am enjoying the classes so much.  All those who take them get to do so in the privacy of their home or workshop.  I don't worry about weather my pieces look like everyone else's pieces.  Although we are using the same paint, wax, tools and techniques, we each have our own way of apply, our own amount of pressure when distressing (light or heavy), and our own style.

The products in the package are worth way more than the $19.95/month that I pay for the class.  It's like I paid for the class and got the supplies for free.  The classes are great if you live too far from a Plaster Paint store to take a class in person, or if your schedule or having small children keeps you from going.  The classes are done using Facebook Live in a private group set up just for those who subscribe.

If you are interested in signing up, just hop on over to and click on Plaster Paint Live at the top.

If you have any questions you want to ask me about my experience with the classes, just include them in the comments below or PM me on Facebook at Cynthia Welch Designs.

I did not receive any compensation in any form for this post about Plaster Paint Live classes, nor for recommending their products or services.

Hoping you have a happy June!


Friday, May 26, 2017

Good Vibrations!

Good Friday morning everyone!  I am doing the happy dance because it's Friday.  I don't know what it is but Friday just seems so freeing!  LOL  Remember the oldie but goodie song, Good Vibrations?  That is my mood today.  I have always loved Saturday too because it seems like "play day" even in adulthood.  What is your favorite day of the week?  You can respond in the comments below.

I am going to a celebration this evening .... a wedding.  Those are always fun.  Tomorrow I am going to do some fun stuff with my craft work ... get some photos going and get some new stuff shown here.

Something new I want to share with you is about a service I provide now.   I have been chalk painting what I call "littles" for a while.  Littles are things like candle holders, vases, bottles, bowls, and so on.  Just about anything that can sit atop a table, shelf, entertainment center, and so on.  These are pieces I have picked up in various places to repurpose, upcycle, and reinvent.  I am still doing that but ....

Now I am offering to paint YOUR littles that need a new life.  Possibly the color is outdated but the shape and form are perfect.  This is the perfect candidate for chalk painting.  If you have some decorative pieces that need to be brought into the 21st century, I can help with that.
So how does that work?  First we'd meet and I'd look over the piece(s) you want painted.  (This could first be done with photos by email.)  The first time we meet in person, I'll take some photos, make some notes.  Then I'll go back to the studio to formulate a quote.  Quotes for potential work are always free.  The quote will include all supplies, paint, wax and labor.  I will also give you an estimate on how long the work will take.  Once you receive the quote you would have 2 weeks to get back with me about whether you want to continue and have me do the work.
Before any work begins, a 50% deposit is required.  This enables me to buy the supplies, paint, wax, etc., that are needed.  Once I receive the deposit I'll begin working on your piece(s).

When your pieces are done, I'll let you know.  The deposit that you paid for work to begin is applied to the total.  You'll pay the balance when you pick up your items.

Littles that are used for serving food or beverages are not eligible for painting due to it coming into contact with food or beverages.  It would be a safety hazard to paint it then use it for food or beverage service.

I am also available for painting your furniture.  All of the above applies.  I would look at the furniture in question, get photos, give a free estimate and you'd have 2 weeks to let me know if you want to proceed.

All prices for painting are dependent on the size of the piece and the work required to paint and wax it, plus any distressing or other details you desire.

If you have questions or pieces you want me to look at, there is no obligation.  Call me at 985-381-3154 or PM me on Facebook at Cynthia Welch Designs.

Much love and good vibrations for beautiful Memorial Day weekend,