Monday, March 31, 2008

The Center of Our Home

I love this picture. I hung it on this wall shortly after we moved into our home. Ironically, because of our vaulted ceilings this wall forms the shape of an arrow pointing heavenward. This is the first wall that you see when you walk into our home, therefore it makes a statement about our family to everyone who enters our home. I know that some designers would cringe because they believe that the main areas of your home should be less personal but I disagree. I think that your home should reflect the people that live there from the moment that anyone walks in your door. If you're trying to sell your home it's recommended that you put away family photos and other personal things so that the buyers can visualize your home as their's, so doesn't it make sense that if you're going to LIVE in your home it should be a visual presentation of who you are?

For years this picture hung all alone but it didn't have the visual presence I desired. It looked like a small picture on a big wall, so I hung the iron piece above which helped. Then after making my tin mantle/shelf I had an idea of what to do with the tin that was left. I made these four squares. I painted and distressed them to blend into the wall so that it would draw your eye to the picture and give it importance without distracting from it. I must confess that when it comes to design I can be obsessive. When I cut these squares the pattern on one didn't match the others, but I recalled reading that the Amish purposely make one square in their quilts that doesn't match. It's a visual reminder that only God makes things perfect.
I thought that was a great reminder for me too.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jots of Joy

Live with intention.
Walk to the edge.
Listen hard.
Practice wellness.
Play with abandon.
Continue to learn.
Appreciate your friends.
Choose with no regret.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.
---Mary Anne Radmacher

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Power of the Triangle

You've heard the decorating tip that when you group objects together you should group in odd numbers because it's more pleasing to the eye. But, do you know the importance of the triangle in design? I read this tip years ago and it has proved to be very helpful. When I put together a vignette and stand back to admire my work, if something looks just a little off, I use the triangle rule. Does my design form a triangle? Does it have the proper height and balance? Usually if I rearrange things, keeping this rule in mind, it makes the difference between "just okay" and "just right!"

So next time your display doesn't quite have the WOW factor that you're looking for, remember the power of the triangle. And if you recall those days from high school algebra, you know that all triangles are not created equal. The beauty of this rule is that your design can form an equilateral, isosceles, right(or left) triangle and it works. You can even layer your triangles for more flare. It's all about height and balance.
AAAHHH! Triangle Power!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Repurposing Shutter Doors

When we first moved to our house the living room windows were UGLY! They had dark frames with dark glass---just think of three big black holes and you've got the picture. The windows are so large that it would cost a small fortune to buy window coverings. We have since changed out the windows to beautiful white framed ones that have the look of panes instead of huge picture windows. I love my windows now! But in the years before the nice windows I used these shutter doors that are hinged together to give us some privacy as well as add a decorative element to detract from the ugliness of the old windows.

These shutters now serve as a room divider to hide an area in my home that still needs some improvement(you wouldn't want to see a picture of that). The shutters have also done duty as a backdrop for guest speakers at church functions and for wedding receptions. They are very versatile. They have served me well, much more than their original purpose as closet doors.

Dining Room

This is my dining room. Well, I suppose the correct term would be dining area. One of my sons tells me you can't call something a room if it doesn't have four walls. Our home was built in the era of L-shaped living and dining rooms. Our living room has vaulted ceilings but the dining area doesn't. To balance out the two areas I decided to make one wall a focal point. The wall isn't that large so I knew this would be one place that I could have fun and take some chances. If I got tired of it in a year or two it wouldn't be that hard to change. Yes, I am design commitment phobic---probably as a result of having to remove paper and repair walls after the wallpaper trend ended (I know, wallpaper is making a come back, go figure.)

I decided to do a Venetian plaster treatment to the wall, thanks to the mis-tint shelf at my local Home Depot. Don't you love it when you find a gallon of paint for five bucks! Fortunately, the mis-tint was a pleasing color of green. I applied it---and if you haven't tried this technique, I'm warning you, it's pretty labor intensive. After I followed all the directions I stood back and decided I wanted more of an aged look to my wall, so I rubbed on some brown glaze to achieve the look I was after. But I wasn't finished aging the wall yet.

I had been on the lookout for some old tin crown molding but was unable to find it and I didn't want to pay the price for the new stuff. I found two sheets of old tin ceiling tile with a decorative edge at a consignment store. Even though it wasn't enough I purchased it. Luckily, a few months later I found another sheet at the same store. I took my trusty jig saw and began cutting off the decorative edge to turn it into crown molding. With my hubby's help we nailed up the tin. Now, what to do with the leftover tin? Design and build a shelf of course! Not just any shelf, a MAMMOTH shelf! Some might call it a mantle.

I love my mantle! It's one more place to decorate seasonally. The mirrors and candles have been up since January when large, clear snowflakes were added. Now the eggs and chicks decorate for spring. Next month I'll probably change out the entire thing. So look around your home and see if there's a wall in your home that needs to be a focal point and then dare to try a new technique. After all, it's just a wall and it might end up being your favorite wall in the house.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Did Your Bird Die?

Some people just don't get it! It seems that if you try to step out of the "norm" there will ALWAYS be someone to question why. My advice? Never let other peoples comments detract you from making your house unique to you! After all that's what makes your house your home. If something makes your heart sing, go with it!

I saw this huge bird cage at my favorite thrift store. After a few weeks they finally marked the price down to what I thought was reasonable. So I snatched it up and brought it home. You can imagine the looks I got from my family---my husband just shook his head, and my boys asked if we were going to get a new pet or if they could cage the cat. I think when they saw the gleam in my eye they knew the answer. No, the cage would be used for something other than it's original purpose. I cleaned out the birdy doo-doo, painted it and distressed it and then placed it on my front porch. In the fall it holds pumpkins. Other times of the year it contains flowers to match the season. And it has housed a bird or two (always fake of course), like at Halloween when there was a crow inside. It brings a smile to my face every time I walk by. Why? Because it is unique to my house. It sets my home apart from everyone else's on the block. Of course, I still get the occasional comment like, "Did your bird die?" But that doesn't stop me from enjoying my cage.

I've decided that having confidence in your choices, with ANYTHING in life, is what will set you apart from the crowd. I learned that from my daughter. In high school she enjoyed dressing in her own unique style, and people were naturally attracted to her. Why? Part of it was because she dared to break the mold, but mostly it was because she had confidence in herself and her decisions. There will always be someone out there to criticize your choices, but that shouldn't stop you from discovering what makes you unique! Everyone has their own tastes and talents.
Don't be afraid to express yours!

Saturday, March 22, 2008


When my children were younger I decorated almost every nook and cranny of my home with small holiday decorations, the kind that you buy at the dollar and discount stores. Now, I enjoy shopping at those same stores---I mean who doesn't like to save money right? But, I learned a trick or two from great designers. The trick is to mix the inexpensive decorations with a really nice upscale piece. I use this trick all through my home, not just for holiday decorations but in all my interior design. If you take one nice piece and throw in a few well chosen thrift finds or discount store items it packs more of a punch, so to speak, than a lot of little things.

I bought this hurricane glass at Target a few years ago. It was hard for me to justify the cost at the time. Let's face it, any decoration over $10 that can be easily broken by boys (I have four of them) is usually something I really have to think about before purchasing. But this purchase has been worth it. I change it out seasonally and it always has a prominent place in my living room. For this holiday I filled it with plastic eggs from the dollar store, that originally had skewers stuck in each, and with pussy willow branches (real and fake). And of course, I hung glass eggs to make it an Easter tree. A little tip: Place the branches in a smaller vase inside the larger one, that way the branches stand up tall and they visually fill the vase.

It's nice to know that even our cat approves of my holiday decorations. That's her LICKING the bow. I guess that means my decor is pet friendly!

Wishing all my family and friends a wonderful Easter!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Darling Daughter's Wedding Decor

My only daughter just got married a few weeks ago. She requested that I be the one to decorate for the reception. I've decorated for other receptions and wedding luncheons by improvising with what I had on hand. But since she's my only daughter, I felt like I needed to do more than just improvise. Now mind you, I would NEVER recommend decorating for your child's wedding because, if you're like me, you look back at pictures of yourself and see only a very puffy-eyed, tired looking mother of the bride. But how could I say no to my one and only daughter, as well as to the opportunity to stretch my talents?

So the process began to design a backdrop that was simple yet elegant. It's so nice to have a husband who helps take my vision and make it a reality. I design, he builds, I paint and do the finish work. We make a great team!

The backdrop is made from wood and the center is embossed wall paper that I painted to look like tin. My daughter's wedding colors were red and black with a little silver thrown in to honor the glam of the girly-girl that she is. We also made the columns and centerpieces to go along with the backdrop. She was very happy with the outcome which made all the work worth it!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It Started With a Suitcase

It started with a suitcase that contained all of my Barbie accessories (YES, I was born before Rubbermaid containers were popular forms of storage). I would spend time with Barbie and Ken designing their home. I was not one of those girls who had a Barbie house, so I improvised by using a coffee table. Barbie's formal living areas were on the carpet and her bedroom was on the "second story" coffee table. I also started to design and make furniture for my small client---she was easy to please. When I got too old to play with my own dolls I made doll furniture for the little girls I babysat.

Now, years and years later, I still have a soft spot in my heart for the memories associated with an old suitcase. I'm still improvising my home decor and designing and building furniture, only it's life size now. I have been blessed, in the last few years, to be able to help others design and decorate their homes. It's funny how one small suitcase can influence your life.

You've probably heard designers and home organizers give the hint to take pictures of your home so you can see it through new eyes? Well, this is why....notice the dirty windows, not quite closed drawers and the large cloche on the floor that hasn't found a new home yet? Oh well, who says life has to look like a magazine cover? After all, that's still life, not real life!
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