H. Camille Smith

"Trends come and go but good design is timeless."

Camille is a managing editor for HGTV.com, fine artist and antique furniture devotee. As a former interior designer and Nickelodeon animator, she has a real passion for balanced, beautiful interiors with a touch of whimsy and punch of color. Camille shares a mid-century cottage with two exceptionally pampered pooches and rooms filled with vintage finds.

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POSTS BY H. Camille Smith

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So, as you’ve probably heard by now, we’re throwing a holiday party — and not just any holiday party — a crafty holiday party where we’ll make the decorations, drinks and nibbles then show you guys how we pulled it off.

Our event space has a massive stone fireplace flanked by shelves so I decided to finally tackle a project I’d been planning for a while and cover a few of my coffee table books in leather. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m *all* about antiques and naturally wanted my leather books to look like they’d been around for a few decades so I originally planned on covering them in leather from an old bomber jacket. After unsuccessfully scouring thrift stores for the perfect piece of vintage leather, I decided to just purchase new leather then age it myself using the same tricks I use for distressing furniture.

And, voila, they turned out great — and the process was actually easier than I thought it would be. So easy, in fact, that I may have to make a few of these expensive-looking antique tomes to hand out as handmade holiday gifts: Leather-Wrapped Books

Want to make your own antique look-alike leather books to add a timeworn touch to your home or as a cool handmade gift? Get crafting with all my tips and complete step-by-step instructions>>


We’ve teamed up with our friends over at DIYNetwork.com’s
Made + Remade to throw a holiday party, and you’re invited!

Follow along as we craft the party decor, set the holiday table and cook up the menu. Along the way, you’ll get the step-by-step instructions and tips to throw a great party in your home. Catch up on all the posts here.

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If you saw my previous post, you know that outfitting my sister’s beach house with accessories with lots of coastal charm for small $$ was a must. Searching estate sales, flea markets and yard sales for beachy accessories that fit our budget wasn’t exactly easy — but it sure was fun! Here are a few more of  our favorite thrifty finds:

Any Avon fans out there — recognize the green glass fish? Yep, that’s right, it’s actually an old Avon bottle which once held foaming bath oil. The bubble bath is long gone but the little jadeite koi’s charm remains — and for just $1 at a TN flea market? Wrap it up; I’ll take it! Beach House Bathroom Vanity Sink Area

Birdhouses are great — and not just for sheltering birds. We put this one, shaped like a lighthouse, to work as a bookend in our closet-turned-built-in bookcase. Like our other beachy bric-a-brac, this birdhouse has a storied past. My mom bought it at a prison. Yep, a prison — the Maine State Prison in Thomaston. Unique in the nation, the prisoners here are taught real-world skills in upholstery, woodworking and garment making. The money raised by this ingenious program goes toward reimbursing the state for the prisoner’s room and board as well as paying victims’ restitution and prisoners’ child support. Although you can’t shop their store online, you can check out the prisoners’ handiwork and if you’re ever in Maine, drop by.Tight Shot of a Beach House Bookcase

I love zoological prints. They’ve been trending for quite a while … and, as with anything trendy, they can be expensive. Luckily, it’s the internet to the rescue — several sites offer printable scans of public domain prints for free — yes, FREE! Vintage Printable and Graphics Fairy are two of my faves. Just print the images onto a high-quality paper (aka not standard printer paper), add a mat, then pop them into a frame. Beach House Bathroom Framed Vintage Print

Getting crafty with items we already have is another way we save money while filling the beach house with accessories we love. My sister and I bought this wood-framed mirror at an estate sale thinking it would be a good fit for the hall bath. Unfortunately, it was too small. Then my 18-year-old nephew scored this great boat cleat for only 50 cents which inspired us to cover the mirror’s frame in rope then “tie it off” to the cleat. Want to make your own? Get my step-by-step instructions.Beach House Rope-Covered Mirror

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage: Nautical Knick-Knacks
Budget Beach Cottage: Bedside Table Before and After
Budget Beach Cottage: Make a Nautical Rope Mirror
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Built-In Bookcase
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update

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Halloween may still be months away but that doesn’t mean I can’t tempt you with a few of the devilishly delicious treats we’re cooking up now. Our entertaining pros are busy whipping up both sweet and savory party snacks your Halloween guests won’t be able to resist!

Here’s a small sampling; I’ll share the actual recipes when we get closer to All Hallows Eve. In the meantime, check out our Halloween feature for more spooky inspiration: HGTV.com's Halloween Party Recipes

MORE HALLOWEEN IDEAS:
Halloween Sneak Peek: Outdoor Decorating Ideas
Halloween Sneak Peek: Kids’ Costumes
4 Halloween Crafts to Make Now
Halloween Cut-Outs: Spook Up Your Yard
Crafty Indoor Halloween Decorations
Free! Halloween Printables
Home Survival Skills: Prepare Your Home for Halloween
How to Make a Fall Felt Leaf Wreath

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Halloween may officially be more than 3 months away but here at the HGTV offices (or in my cube, at least) the countdown to All Hallows Eve has begun. Our talented designers have been hard at work coming up with fresh ideas for all things Halloween — from party food and games to kids’ costumes, pumpkins and, of course, spooktacular indoor and outdoor decorations.

I know that Halloween die-hards like to get a head start on outdoor decorations, in particular, so I thought I’d share a sneak peek of a few of the projects we’re currently working on. No links yet, but be on the lookout for our new Halloween feature in early September:  Outdoor Halloween Decorating Ideas

MORE HALLOWEEN IDEAS:
Halloween Sneak Peek: Kids’ Costumes
4 Halloween Crafts to Make Now
Halloween Cut-Outs: Spook Up Your Yard
Crafty Indoor Halloween Decorations
Free! Halloween Printables
Home Survival Skills: Prepare Your Home for Halloween
How to Make a Fall Felt Leaf Wreath

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Once we’d tackled the painting and major carpentry projects (here and here) at my sister’s beach cottage, it was time to start decorating – my favorite part! As is true in any home, it’s the accessories that bring a look together and give your rooms personality — and — it will come as a shock to no one who’s read my Adventures in Antiquing posts that my favorite place to shop for accessories is at estate sales, flea markets and garage sales. Not only are the prices (WAY!) cheaper but I find the coolest stuff plus bits and pieces that I can upcycle into something new. And when you’re starting from scratch to fill a 3 bed/2 bath beach house — inexpensive and cool are your best friends.

Exhibit A: This sculptural, vintage whiskey decanter. Made as a promotional item in 1972 by Jim Beam to commemorate Key West’s 150th anniversary, the decanter’s colorful, kitschy subject and hand-painted details lured me over while the $10 price tag sealed the deal and earned it pride of place on the corner of the beach house’s bar. The fish on top actually lifts off to reveal the bottle’s opening. The decanter is empty but the rich smell of 40-year-old bourbon remains.  Beach House Bar Area

How cute is this little alarm clock?! Not very practical, but then who wants to be woken up when you’re on vacation anyway? My sister picked up this little cutie at an estate sale for just $4. Paired with a few shells we found (for free!) and a $2 ginger jar lamp that I covered in rope, this table has the coastal cottage look down pat.  Beach Cottage Bedside Table

I am absolutely in love with this ship’s model — my first and best Craigslist find (just $5!!). The ship’s prow was a bit battered (the previous owner’s son liked to “sail” the ship into the wall) and a few bits were missing but luckily the seller had kept them so my dad was able to make it ship-shape again. Surrounding the ship are zoological fish illustrations I printed (for free!) from this site then just popped into dark-stained frames.  Beach House Living Room With Ship Model, Candles and Shells

And when I can’t find exactly what I want – I make it. Yard/estate sales are a great place to buy candles. Sometimes they’re in pristine condition, sometimes, not so much. For candles that are dented, scratched or just plain ugly — cover them up. Learn more about this under $10 project and get my instructions here.Beach House Twine-Wrapped Candles

It’s taken 3 years of DIYing over family vacations but the beach house is slowly coming together. What do you think of our improvements?

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage: Bedside Table Before and After
Budget Beach Cottage: Make a Nautical Rope Mirror
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Built-In Bookcase
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update

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Even as the rest of the country is gearing up for July 4th celebrations, we’re hard at work on original recipes, crafts and decorating ideas for the fall and winter holidays. To be honest, we’re pretty much always working on holiday content around here but early summer is when the pace really picks up.

I don’t want to give away too many surprises but thought you’d like a sample of the (many!) Halloween treats we have in store. From mommy-and-me costumes (seriously, how cute is the milk and cookie!) to budget-friendly costumes you can make out of felt and a hoodie (like a rampaging dinosaur) to professional-quality Halloween makeup tricks — we’ve got you covered.

Here’s a sneak peek of the costume-y goodness headed your way and be on the lookout for our new Halloween feature in early September! HGTV Halloween Costume Sneak Peek

MORE HALLOWEEN IDEAS:
4 Halloween Crafts to Make Now
Halloween Cut-Outs: Spook Up Your Yard
Crafty Indoor Halloween Decorations
Free! Halloween Printables
Home Survival Skills: Prepare Your Home for Halloween
How to Make a Fall Felt Leaf Wreath

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If you’re a pet parent, like me, you know that you can never have enough storage. Leashes, food, treats, grooming supplies and most importantly — toys — take up a lot of space. My older pup, Madeline, long ago lost interest in stuffed animals but my 3-year-old Schnoodle, Sophie, believes a girl can never have too much stuff.

Initially, I spent big money in pet stores on adorable, interactive toys she would toss up in the air a few times then happily destroy. After several months of this, I stumbled across a big box of 25-cent stuffed animals at a yard sale and haven’t paid retail since. After a thorough cleaning in the washer (hot water with a few drops of bleach) and extended tumble in the dryer, Sophie’s second-hand victims (um…toys) are good as new.

To store her stash, I bought a large wicker trunk, painted it black, added a bronze crest I found (where else) at an estate sale, slid it under a table in the living room and used it to keep Sophie’s toys within easy reach. For years the trunk worked fine but this spring my ability to find bargain toys exceeded Sophie’s ability to destroy them. Luckily, I already had a thrifted basket on-hand that, with a little makeover, would be perfect for containing the overflow: 
Dog-Toy-Storage-Basket-Makeover-Before

The basket was too tall to slide under the side table so removing the handle was the first step and I wanted to give it an antique look (I envisioned an old fishing creel) so it would better blend in. Here’s how I did it:
Dog-Toy-Storage-Basket-Makeover-Step-by-StepSteps: 1-cut ties holding handle in place  2-remove handle  3-thoroughly coat basket with spray stain (I used 2 coats) 4-choose an embellishment, I decided to repurpose an old belt  5-cut off excess leather at the top and bottom  6-attach belt to top of basket using super glue then clamp in place  7-flip basket over and glue a thin piece of wood to the bottom (I just snapped the end off a wood shim)  8-secure belt to wood with thumbtacks or nailhead trim  9-add felt pads to the basket’s bottom to protect your floor

And, voila, my once-plain basket now looks like it belongs in a house filled with antiques:
Dog-Toy-Storage-Basket-Makeover-Before-and-After

Best of all: the easy-to-access toy basket gets the Sophie Seal of Approval. Buh-bye little buffalo, looks like the bell has tolled for thee:
Sophie With a New Stuffed Dog Toy

MORE ADVENTURES IN ANTIQUING:
Adventures in Antiquing: Clinch River Spring Antiques Fair
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 1
Adventures in Antiquing: Charleston Antiques Show Part 2
Adventures in Antiquing: (Easy!) Beachy Candle Makeover
Adventures in Antiquing: Repurposed Wooden Tray
Adventures in Antiquing: Crushing On Carrara Marble
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Toolbox Turned Magazine Caddy
Adventures in Antiquing: Old Clock Repurposed as a Frame
Adventures in Antiquing: Classical Busts
Adventures in Antiquing: Vintage Avon Bottle
Adventures in Antiquing: Salvaged Molding As Holiday Decor

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When it comes to making over a beach house on the cheap, my family doesn’t just get our hands dirty knocking down kitchen walls and turning a tiny closet into a beachy bookcase, we’re also all-in when it comes to filling the beach house with one-of-a-kind furnishings.

My 18-year-old nephew scored this solid cherry bedside table for a song at an estate sale last fall. It was quite literally falling apart so he used his charisma and law-school-bound negotiating skills to get the seller to throw it in (for free!) with the rest of our haul. After my dad replaced missing bits and stabilized it, this once shabby little nightstand was ready for a chic makeover:
Beachy Rustic Nightstand Before and After

My sister and I decided to paint it black but re-stain the top to match an antique chest-on-chest on the bedroom’s opposite wall. Even though the finish was pretty scuffed up, more sanding was necessary to provide “tooth” for the paint while an orbital sander made short work of completely stripping the top so it could be stained. Because I planned to distress the paint to highlight details and allow the cherry wood to show thru, one coat of black paint was all I needed:
Sanding and Painting Rustic Nightstand

Once the paint had fully dried, I used sand paper to give the table a time-worn, distressed look. The key to distressing is to concentrate sanding on areas that would have naturally seen the most wear, like any raised details, corners and along edges. Next, I brushed the top with an oil-based stain, then used a cotton rag to wipe the same stain over the remainder of the nightstand. The stain soaked into the distressed areas to create a more realistic time-worn look.
Sanding and Staining Rustic Nightstand

For less than $20 in materials, this little table (that was once destined for the trash) provides handy bedside storage and adds just the right cottage touch to the master bedroom. Finished Cottage-Style Nightstand*Three years later, the beach house is still a work in progress; keep checking back for more thrifty transformations.

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage: Make a Nautical Rope Mirror
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Built-In Bookcase
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update

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Father’s Day is this Sunday — are you armed with a gift for dad? No? Well then, we’ve got you covered — from his favorite recipes (hot beer cheese and homemade pretzels — yum!) to fun, free printables and handmade gift ideas like this easier-than-it-looks dresser-top leather valet; whip up a surprise for your dad just in time for Father’s Day celebrations.

Handmade Men's Leather Valet for Father's DayReady to make your own? Get the complete step-by-step instructions>>

Not only is this monogrammed leather valet easy to craft, you probably have most of the materials on hand like an old frame, some batting or foam and a spare bit of leather – this is a great project for upcycling a past-its-prime jacket or purse. The steps are simple, just disassemble the frame then use the backing as a template to cut out a small piece of leather and batting. Place the leather, suede side up, on top of the batting and secure it in the frame with strong tape.Step by Step images for making a leather dresser-top valet for Father's Day

I used an old trick from college printmaking classes to create removable registration marks on painter’s tape that would help me find the tray’s center before placing the adhesive stencils (these things are awesome, btw, you can find them with the glass-etching supplies at your local craft store). Fill in the stencils with a permanent marker and voila — a handy catch-all for dad to keep his keys, change, watch and anything else he needs to grab on his way out the door.Using a Sharpie to Monogram Leather

Crafting this handy DIY gift for dad is easy — but be sure to check out my complete step-by-step instructions for a materials list and lots of helpful tips first>>

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When I say “budget beach cottage,” I ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie. Upcycling is far from the latest trend in my family — if we can find a way to repurpose or reuse something, we will.  Check out our beachy kitchen, living room, candles and built-in bookcase transformations to see what I mean.

Enter a plain-Jane, oak-framed mirror my sister and I bought at an estate sale intending it to serve as a vanity mirror for the hall bath. The rounded shape of the frame reminded us of a ship’s port hole and at just $5, the price was right. Sadly, the wood-framed mirror was too small for the bathroom — but it was just the right size for a narrow wall in the master bedroom. We hung it but the stained oak frame just wasn’t doing it for us. Luckily, my 18-year-old nephew found an old boat cleat at a yard sale for just 50 cents (clearly he’s been well instructed in the ways of the bargain-hunting force) and that was the inspiration we needed to wrap the frame in rope and “tie it off” to the cleat.

And … voila! Here’s our once plain-Jane mirror after its nautical makeover: Beachy Rope MirrorReady to make your own? Get the complete step-by-step instructions>>

Covering the frame is easy; the key is to start on the inside of the frame and really secure the first few rows with a super-strong epoxy (like Gorilla Glue) to prevent the remaining rows from shifting. Once you have a solid start, you can switch over to just tacking the rope with brads every few inches.
Beachy Rope Mirror Step-by-Step

And … inevitably when you’re taking photos in a small beach house with 5 nosy little dogs around (2 are mine and 3 are my sister’s) you end up with quite a few shots featuring a cute pup in the pic. Everyone, meet my sister’s furry little shadow, her 6-lb rescued Yorkie, Gracie:Cute Yorkie Dog and Beachy Rope Mirror

Giving a blah mirror a coastal makeover is easy — but be sure to check out my complete step-by-step instructions for a materials list and lots of helpful tips first>>

*Three years later, the beach house is still a work in progress, keep checking back for more thrifty transformations.

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Built-In Bookcase
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update

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