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Design Accent with Wood and Lighting

Updated on September 13, 2014
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Wooden Valance-Lighted Tree Project

Inspiration:

Walking in the Georgia snow, such a rarity for us in this area, I was inspired by white trees shaken by the winter chill as small waterfalls of light fell, shimmering in the afternoon sun. It so rarely snows here that I wanted to experience that shimmering beautiful feeling all of the time.

I had recently bought a small cottage in Columbus, Georgia (Circa 1943), and found myself faced with a floor plan that was not conducive to any kind architectural uniqueness to be capitalized on in order to achieve that natural snowy feeling I so longed for.

Having been built by a “do-it-yourselfer” at the end of the Great Depression the home was very straight cut and sectionalized. For all its utilitarian build though, the living room was large, with three oversized windows and a cozy brick fireplace. On the long wall facing the fireplace, I considered the blank area between two of the large windows and decided it was the perfect place to put a “Snowy Tree”.


Source

Color Choices That Agree With Each Other

At first, I was unsure how to go about it. I have two cats, so bringing an actual tree in from outside and trying to decorate it was too much like Christmas and wouldn’t be prudent for a number of reasons, not the least of which was waking in the morning to find my cats lounging or using the bathroom in it.

Since I had spent much of my childhood at the Georgia coast, I had originally elected to make the small house like a coastal cottage so how I would manage a snowy tree with that going on was a mystery at first. Then I thought about the beach and winter color pallets that would work together and came up with a great idea. I painted the wall between the two windows for accent. It was painted in Sherwin Williams’ “Belize” blue and I left the Wal-Mart brand “Country White” walls in the rest of the room.


A Wintery Sketch and Color Pallet

Once I had my background, I broke out a pencil and rough sketched a tree on the wall. Trees are easy to draw, and it's hard to go wrong. I still had 2/3rd’s of a gallon of Coronado’s Stowe White indoor semi-gloss paint left over from some trim work in one of the bedrooms, so I used it to fill in the tree I had outlined on the wall. I took a series of different sized art brushes, and just brushed smaller branches of various sizes until I had a pretty convincing tree.

Bearing in mind that I wanted a “Wintery-look” to my tree, I left off leaves. They were more detail than I wanted to deal with for this project anyway. All the same, I wanted the tree to have kind of a crisp wintery sparkle to it, so I went to Wal-Mart, picked up a quart of Disney’s “All that Glitters” clear coat and applied three coats of it, only to the white of the tree, leaving the blue background “as-is”.


Creating a pattern for the Valance

While I admired the work, it wasn’t quite what I had envisioned. I wanted something lighted, sparkly, and 3-D-ish. I had some plywood left over from an old pantry I had taken down and re-purposed, so I decided to use it as a “valance” for the tree top. The idea was to create a valance taken from the larger branches at the top of the tree I painted, and put lights and a waterfall of sparkly things behind it. So I took some tracing paper, got on a ladder and put it on the tree, then traced the branches. It took three pieces of paper, side by side, (landscape), to get the entire top. I then cut the pattern out of the tracing paper, taped it together and put it down on some cardstock, which is sturdier, to re-trace it and cut it from the card stock. I then took the card stock pattern to my cutting table, placed it on the wood piece I wanted to use for my valance, and with a black magic marker, I drew the pattern for the valance directly onto the wood.


Completing the Front of the Valance

Once I had the wood marked, I used a circular saw to cut the valance into a manageable size, and then used a jigsaw to cut the rounded places and corners of the valance, making sure to keep the top corners thick enough to attach to a framework later. Once it was cut out, I used wood-filler to fill in any of the wood that popped away when cutting. Once the wood filler dried, I carefully hand sanded the valance to smooth the edges so that they resembled the edges of a naked tree in winter. I had to fill in other places and add filler a few times to get the smooth beautiful surface I was looking for.

With the valance complete, I painted it Stowe White to match the tree and not only covered it in the “All That Glitters” paint, but with some iridescent craft glitter paint to make sure it stood out. I took it outside and sprayed it with a clear coat to protect the glittery finish. After it dried, I turned it over, and began screwing in small gold coffee cup hooks in kind of a scattered pattern all over the back of it. (If you're smart, you'll pre-drill a tiny hole to screw these into. I didn't and spent WAY too much time on it. LOL) These would be necessary in order to hold the waterfall of rainy/snowy drops in place and guide the light strands in the direction I wanted them to go.

The Framework for the Valance

After that, I took a ½”x5’ piece of lumber, and drew brackets that would frame in the valance. The other part of the piece of lumber would serve as the back of the framework to house my surge protectors. Using a jigsaw, I cut the brackets away from the frame. The following photos show what you need to build the framework.

Constructing the Framework and Electrical

Then I constructed the valance.

The first order of business was to get the framework in place on the wall that the valance would ultimately be screwed into. I took the long board, and anchored it to the wall with screws and jackets.

Once the long section was up, it was time to affix the brackets to the ends.

Once the framework was in place and painted to match the front of the valance, it was time to attach the surge protectors. It’s important to have the electrical part in place prior to putting the front of the valance on or you’ll be climbing between what feels like real branches trying to get it all in place.

**NOTE- I used a white extension cord down the side of the window to hide the plug from the surge protector and plugged one surge protector to another in order to run them. At the outlet, I plugged the whole thing into a remote controlled plug I bought in a 3-pack at Christmas, so that when I wanted the lights to come on, all I had to do was click the remote.

Hanging Lights and Snowy/Rainy Drops


Once the electrical was in place to satisfaction, it was time to add light. I opened two boxes of Martha Stewart LED Icicle lights, plugged them in and let them dangle until the front was finished. (Originally I had thought I would plug in several small, single strands of lights, but the icicle lights were so much better that this could have been done with just one surge protector.)

Once the front of the valance was screwed to the framework, I used white wood filler to fill in the screw holes, then sanded them gently with fine sandpaper, and lightly touched up with paint and craft glitter. From that point, it was time to arrange the lighting. So, standing on the ladder, I guided the light strands along the top edge of hooks, letting the strands dangle behind the valance.

Once I had the valance done and the lighting in place, I needed to add my waterfall of rain/snow drops to finish. With the glue gun, clear nylon thread, clear colored marbles and small mirrors, I made assorted lengths of watery drops to hang from the tree. I put a dab of glue on the back of the marbles, and once it dried, I hit it heavily with the iridescent glitter craft paint to add sparkle when it rotated on the string. I just did some marbles, then mirrors, and marbles again, mixing and matching down the entire length of the nylon string. I always doubled the mirrors. I would put a dab of hot glue on the back of one mirror, lay the string on top of the hot glue, and then seal it with another mirror of the same size sandwiching the nylon thread in between.

Finishing the Sparkly Tree Valance

Once the strands were finished, I tied a loop in the top of the nylon strings, and then reached behind the valance and hung them on the gold hooks, making sure that they had similar lengths in an odd and even pattern coming from the outside corners to the center, making sure that the longer ones were on the outside corners and in the center.

Voila! I had the snowy trees with shimmering snowy rainy drops, year round!

What you'll need

What You Need
Quantity
Manufacturer
"Belize" Blue Paint
Depends on size of wall we used 1 qt
Sherwin Williams
"Stowe White" Paint
Depends on size of wall we used 1 qt
Coronado Paints
"All That Glitters" Clear Coat
Depends on size of wall we used 1 qt
Disney Paint/Wal-mart
Jigsaw
1
Any
Circular Saw
1
Any
Wood Screws and Wall Screws
Many
Assorted
Drill or Screw Driver
1Phillips Head one Flat
We used Craftsman
Sand paper - 60 grit, 100 Grit, 240 Grit
2-3 each
We bought an assorted pack at Dollar Tree
White LED Christmas Icicle Lights
2 strands
We used Martha Stewart from Home Depot
tri-pack of remotes for Christmas Lights
1 pack
We got ours at Home Depot
Glue Gun
1
Doesn't matter
Nylon String
1 roll
Any craft store has it
Marbles in assorted colors
1 bag
We got ours at Dollar General
Assorted Small Craft Mirrors
Several different sizes and shapes
We got ours at Joann's
Tracing paper
3 sheets
Any
Card Stock Paper
3 sheets
Any
Black Magic Marker
1
Doesn't Matter
Plywood for valance
1 sheet. ours was 1/2" x 2 x 3
Any
Wood for Frame
1 stick ours was 1/2" x 1' x 5'
Any
Small Gold Hooks
1 pack
Bought at Dollar General
Surge Protector
at least one
Bought one at Wal-Mart
Extension Cord
1
Bought ours at Dollar Tree
Wood Filler
1 pint
Elmer's white is best
Iridescent Craft Glitter Paint
3 tubes
Twinkies bought from Joann's
Paint brushes
Several sizes and shapes
We bought an assortment at Wal-mart
Paint Roller
1 full size, 1 half size
Generic is fine
Pencil
1 to sketch the tree
Any
Drop Cloth
1 for the floor
We used a hefty bag
What you'll need for this interior design project to do an accent wall

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    • Conner Coldiron profile image
      Author

      Veronica Coldiron 2 years ago from Columbus, GA

      Thank you Debra! I'm hoping to have you for this holiday season too!

    • profile image

      debra pastuszynski 2 years ago

      I spent a thanksgiving and christmas in this room. It is very inviting and has a calming effect. It is beautiful.