Monday, June 30, 2008

Design 101

Hooray for the red, white and blue!
I've been decorating for the fourth of July holiday.
I thought I'd share some of my design philosophy with you. (Doesn't that statement make me seem important and very knowledgeable? Hee! Hee!) In the last few years I've tried to incorporate two tricks into my displays. The first is to "go big". It's better to spend your hard earned cash on one big item that will have a lot of impact, than on a lot of small items that can appear as clutter. This was a hard one for me to learn because I literally like to get the most for my money. I want to show a lot for what I've spent. But I've learned that if I buy something big, it will fill up the room, catch my eye, and make me smile, much faster than a bunch of smaller decorations.
The second trick is to layer your design. An extra layer gives the display more dimension and depth. Store displays always use the layering technique. Layering finishes the display---you don't wonder if there should be something more. But, beware not to add so many layers that the display appears too busy. You need to know just when to stop.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, let me show you how to incorporate these techniques:
This over sized flag really makes a statement
on it's own.
Adding another layer with the candle light and stars
makes
the display look finished,
and now it really "pops" (4th of July pun).
The large letters and flags look great. . .
but with the addition of stars and vine balls,
the display appears more finished.

The stars repeat the colors in the flags and
the vine balls repeat the black in the letters and candles.
And everyone knows that good design repeats itself.

Okay, the design philosophy lesson has concluded.
Now, your homework is to go try these tricks
in your home.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Patio Project Pictures

I'm happy with my patio makeover.
It's been a fun project.

All it took was spray paint, thrift store finds, and
a few quick building projects to make such
a
wonderful transformation!
The reds and yellows really brighten up the area.
It's a cheerful, comfortable place to relax and enjoy.

We've eaten out here more this summer than several summers combined (there's the remnants of the burnt dinner left on the wall behind the grill as proof).
We have enough comfortable places
for the entire family to sit.

I used my unfinished projects to create
a privacy screen.

Our new table adds the perfect touch.

I'm looking forward to making
many happy memories out here.

One Last A-door-nment

After an entire week of posting bits and pieces of my backyard patio, you would think that I would finally show the finished project. That was the plan. However, my plans tend to change and include some additions. I decide to do "just one more thing." I had a contractor call it the "since you was up" syndrome---you know how when you get off the couch and someone says, "since you was up, can you do that too?"
On Saturday I was doing some rearranging and decided that I needed one more outdoor surface to decorate, but it also had to be functional. I went into the garage to look at my inventory. I came out with an old door (doesn't everyone have an inventory of old doors?), pre-painted stair balusters, leftover crown moulding, and a few pieces of lumber. Then I enlisted the help of my husband, who fortunately, was very willing to cooperate. He's such a good man!
We made a frame and attached the balusters.
We cut down the door to the right size
and nailed it onto the frame work.
We nailed the crown molding on flat against the frame.
I painted and distressed the door and molding.
And this is the finished project:
A tall sofa table/sideboard.
I promise that tomorrow I'll be ready
to show the finished porch project. . .maybe.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thrown to the Curb

Years ago I talked my husband into picking up this cute little dresser from the road side trash. Someone had used her, abused her, and tossed her out. She sat weathered, broken, and neglected, but something about her called to me. Maybe it was her curvy lines or her petite stature, or just that she had been around for so long I thought she deserved respect. So the little hitchhiker got a ride to our home.We let her reside on our covered patio and each summer I would promise to restore her beauty (I'm a bit of a purest when it comes to antiques). But there was so much work to be done. Would she ever be as beautiful as she was originally or would she just become the Joan Rivers of old furniture (so re-done you hardly recognize the original)?
Then it came to me. I would take what was left of her original beauty and add to it. Instead of giving her back her old life, I would give her a new life. She would be proud to call the back porch her home. She would be valued, even though her drawer panels were missing and her top was beyond repair.
With a little spray paint, some thrifted knobs, and a new top covered in vinyl, she would become the diva of the patio. Her competition is tough---the newly slip covered wicker, the galvanized steel topped table, and ketchup and mustard colored antique metal chairs, but she holds her own. She has become a star!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's a Two in One Day

Wow! Two posts in one day! This week I've been showing my outdoor decor, but I couldn't resist joining the mantle decorating party being thrown by Kari and Kijsa.
I've posted pictures of my mantles before:
(Technically this is not a mantle, just a very large shelf.)

I really enjoy changing out my decorations.
Here's what my mantle looks like today
,
decorated with an old ceiling tin,
milk glass vases and moss balls
:

I'll be changing things soon to 4th of July decorations,
so check back next week. Thanks for stopping by!

Ketchup and Mustard


I'm really not a matchy-matchy kind of decorator. I prefer things to look like they have been carefully planned, intentionally selected, and acquired over a period of time, even when it comes to my outdoor furniture. To achieve my desired "haphazard, yet pulled together" design, I painted part of my metal pieces a soft yellow and for the rest I chose a warm red. I really like the combination. It's fresh and fun. But leave it to one of my witty sons to remark, "It looks like ketchup and mustard!" Some days I just can't seem to win with the critics that live in my house.
I'm waiting to hear what they have to say about the treatment I chose for this piece.

I'm sure it will be something like,
"Why did you ruin a perfectly good paint job?"


And then there's this before and after:
It's no longer a heavy brown
. The shades were transformed by removing the bamboo. I may add some trim, or replace them, or remove them all together.
But for now, it will stay like this.














I'm sure that one of the critics will say,
"Now it looks like a chocolate covered strawberry!"

Yes, some days it's hard to live with a bunch of critics.
But they are lovable, laughable,
and I couldn't imagine my life without them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Cast of Chara-chairs

Oh yes, I love spray paint! And, it may come as a surprise, but I actually use more than just black or off white. I've got the evidence to prove it.

Aren't they pretty, all painted in the color of summer squash and lined up in rows?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Outdoor Dining

Who doesn't enjoy eating outdoors in the summertime? It's one of those Norman Rockwell type memories---the happy family sitting around the picnic table, while dad, sporting an apron and chefs hat, stands proudly at the grill. Mom is smiling as she brings out the tray of condiments and delicious homemade salads. . .
That's not really the picture you'll see at my home. It's more like dad calling mom, who is shopping at the grocery store buying
store made salads and other last minute picnic items. She answers the phone and hears, "Honey, pick up some more hot dogs, I just set the brats and burgers on fire and now all we have to eat is charcoaled meat."

Oh well, at least we built a great picnic table for those occasions. It's nice and big, measuring seven and half feet by three and a half. We covered the wood with galvanized sheet metal so that it's weather proof, although my husband jokes that in the noon day sun you can cook an egg on it while you're getting a suntan (that problem is easily solved with a table cloth).
Ahhhh, Summertime memories!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cushion Solution

Embrace creativity, not perfection!

PROBLEM:
#1-Outdoor cushions looking a little tired
#2-
New cushions will cost $75-$150
#3-Owner (me) tired of the print
#4-Hard to find desired colors-
yellow, red & tan


SOLUTION:
Two pillow shams to cover chair cushions
Crib sheet to cover bench cushion

My "slipcovered" cushions make for a more relaxed feel.
It's not "store bought perfect" but I think it's beautiful!

COST FOR MAKEOVER:
$21-including all the pillows

Friday, June 13, 2008

Pillow Talk

These are the pillows that came with
my chocolate brown sofa.

These are the pillows that came from the thrift store!
Most of them were brand new, with the store tags still left on. Most of them are silk with feather fill; a luxury I couldn't afford at retail prices. All of them give my sofa a fresh, lighter look for summer.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Novice Thrift Shopper

Last week while shopping at a thrift store, I noticed a well dressed young woman walk in and approach one of the employees. I was close enough to hear her ask, "Where would your old chandeliers be?" The employee pointed to the area where she should look. I watched as the young woman checked the area and then quickly left the store empty handed. A smile came across my face as I thought, "She's a novice!"
If you are an avid thrift store shopper you are aware that you rarely find exactly what you're looking for within minutes of entering the store. Sometimes you are lucky, but most of the time it takes time to find that certain treasure. Thrifting requires time, patience, stamina, energy, multiple trips, great hunting and scavenging abilities, and often a little squirt of hand sanitizer.
Yes, it's true, you rarely find exactly what you're looking for within minutes of stepping into the thrift store on your very first trip. But in the meantime, who says you can't find other treasures that you never even knew you were searching for!
(Some of my treasures from the last week)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Love of Doors Has Crept Outdoors!

One of the great things about a door is that you can close it to hide whatever unwanted site may be lurking on the other side. That's exactly what my outdoor doors do. The farthest door leads to our vegetable garden. I enjoy the yummy tomatoes our garden produces and I especially like the gourds, pumpkins and other decorative items it so willingly grows for me. However, our garden would never win a beauty contest, the prize for most supportive maybe, but not for beauty. The door hides it's flaws and gives the illusion of beauty.
The doors that need a fresh coat of paint (yes, it's on my list of things to do) help to hide a swing set. My kids are getting older, and some have moved away, but when we took a family vote about getting rid of the swings, they all voted to have them stay. Yeah, I've learned my lesson. Next time I'm not putting it to a vote! But in the meantime, the kids can still enjoy the swing set and I don't have to see it from my kitchen window. I have recently discovered only one problem with these doors, however. For some reason my eleven year old son had no clue that the glass could actually break. That's what he told me when I walked outside to discover the source of the crashing sound. Luckily the overgrown rose bush hides the broken glass. Now if I can just figure out how to hide the other flaws and weeds in my yard. . .

And The Award Goes To...

This is the award and the rules:
Arte y Pico Award
  1. You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also contribute to the blogging community, no matter what language.
  2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog to be visited by everyone.
  3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award.
  4. The award winner and one who has given the prize have to show the link of "Arte y Pico" blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.
  5. To show these rules.
Hooray! Bonnie at The Zoo, which is the name of her blog, not where she's employed, was brave enough to admit that she'd enjoy this award! You deserve it! Anyone who can suffer the embarrassment of wearing a hospital gown and then come home to write a funny post about it gets my vote! She also has been able to catch her children wearing the newest fashions---a clothespin wig, freshly chipped permanent teeth. . . aahhh, the joys of motherhood! Now you know why her blog is called The Zoo. Go give her a visit!
The second award goes to Rachel, I mentioned her in yesterday's post, but today I feel the need to give her this lovely award. Anyone who calls me a "decorating guru" should be paid for such flattery! Thank you! Give Rachel a visit and have a napkin handy, your mouth is going to water when you see some of her delicious recipes!
I would also like to present this award to Kari and Kijsa. They are pros at this blogging world. I'm not sure that they care about a little ol' award, but at least they'll know that I think they're great. And after you visit them you'll think the same. They are creative, inspiring, and their photos are beautiful (I have photo envy).
Now, I know the rules state that I need to give out five of these, which means there are two left. Ladies, if you are too shy to admit that you'd love this, I'm giving you permission to just copy and paste it to your site. You can even say that I gave it to you. I like to give gifts that I know others really want.
Congratulations! and ENJOY!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'm Flattered! How About You?

Yesterday I received some fun news from two of my wonderful blogging friends. The first was from Joanne from Sunflower Meadow, a delightful place to visit. She gave me the Arte y Pico Award. Thank you so very much Joanne! This is my second time for this award and I'm honored to receive it again. I'm supposed to give it to five more blogs. But since I've done this already, and since I've noticed that this beauty of an award has made the rounds to many blogs, I've decided to mix things up a bit (otherwise known as "breaking the rules"). If you have a great blog that hasn't been recognized, here's your chance! Don't be shy. Sometimes we've got to do our own advertising for our fifteen minutes of fame. So if you'd like this award, just leave me a comment. Write a note about your blog and I'll post your name and give you the award. Think of it this way, if you want a great gift, sometimes you've got to just go get it for yourself!
The second bit of fun news came from Rachel at Made with Love and Glue. Isn't that such a cute title? She wanted me to know that she liked my pear urns so much, she made a set for herself. Wow! Someone copied my idea. I feel just like Martha Stewart---only without the tv show, the staff, the houses, the millions, the hairdo, and the stint in the slammer. Thanks Rachel!
I love meeting friends in the blog world. You have all been such an inspiration to me! Thank you for visiting and a special thank you to those who take a minute to leave a comment. I appreciate the time you all spend with me. We've had a lovely time, now go visit some other blog friends and make their day as great as you have mine!

Monday, June 9, 2008

You Have Permission!

Last week I met with one of my clients. Our first meeting, several months ago, was to pick paint colors, carpet samples and furniture for rooms she was in the middle of updating. Her new choices for the rooms were significantly different. She picked lighter colors, and a more modern, clean, sophisticated look than she had previously. She wanted to meet with me again to discuss design options in two other rooms, and also to accessorize the newly completed rooms.
We looked through stacks of framed photos and art. I could tell that she was feeling overwhelmed. She had spent a few months without all of these things cluttering up her walls. I said, "If you had only five minutes to pick your favorite ones, which would you choose?" Immediately she grabbed the ones she wanted. We took the newly reduced pile and used only those to decorate.
She was very happy with our choices and then said, "So you've given me permission to get rid of all the others?" (Of course I didn't have to give her my permission, she needed to give it to herself.) I told her she had my permission--- she didn't have to bring everything back, she had matured, her style had changed and it was okay to leave the old style behind. She could give away some of the portraits to her daughters, and donate the rest. She was thrilled!
I've had similar experiences with other clients. I gave one "permission" to give her piano away to one of her children. My client was happy to have more space and the family members who received the piano were thrilled too.
And so now I say to you, "I give you permission!" Go, look around your house. Are there decorations hanging on the walls that have hung there longer than the clothes in your closet? If so maybe it's time to update. Do you have items in your home that no longer make you smile? Are you holding on to things just because someone gave them to you? Has your style changed, but you're accessories are stuck in the 90's?
You've read this before, but I'll write it again: Your house needs to reflect you and your personality. Your home should be a place where you feel relaxed, happy,and content. Remember it is YOUR home so you should be the one to decide what stays and what goes.
Now go! Look around your home and get rid of the things that you no longer love. Use your old items to bless others by giving them away, selling them or donating them. It's better to live with just a few things that you love, than to live with a lot of things you don't. So get moving and removing! YOU HAVE PERMISSION!

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Well Schooled Table


My favorite time of year is fall. With fall comes the beginning of school. I like school. I like everything related to school. I like school supplies. One of my favorite birthday gifts from my boys was a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils. My love of school led me to earn two college degrees in education, a bachelors degree in early childhood education and I stopped just short of getting my masters degree in special education. I taught special education until I retired to be a stay at home mom. One day, when my children no longer need me to be a SAHM, I want to go back to school. So it's no surprise that one of my favorite pieces of furniture, that we didn't build ourselves, is an old school table. This table is six feet long. I painted it an unusual shade of green, antiqued it, and I left all of the holes and dents and dings from years of students. I did remove all of the old wads of gum underneath though---you can take authenticity only so far. If you look carefully, at the end of the table, you can see the holes left from where the pencil sharpener sat.

This table was originally a hall table in our basement. But I liked it so much that I gave it a more prominent place in my living room. One day my mom asked, "Do you really think it goes there?" I nodded my head yes. Sure it's a different color than anything else in the room, and the style is different too. But it makes me happy and so it will stay, no matter what anyone says about it. Besides, I think it's a good thing to mix things up a little when it comes to the design of your home. I think your home should reflect you and your personality. And if you love something, it shouldn't matter what anyone else thinks.
Do you have a piece of furniture in your home that seems a little out of place to others, but you love it and display it proudly?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

They Should Warn You


If you knew that someone was going to take a picture of the outside of your home, that would be viewed by the world, how would you like your home to look?
I would like my home to be beautiful, with flowers in full bloom, a well manicured lawn (Allow me to dream! My boys mow the lawn and it's never well manicured). I'd love to have my windows clean and sparkling in the morning sun. I'd like everything to be in it's place, including cars parked in the garage (this too is just a dream), and the driveway would have the look of cobblestone. Yes, that's how I would like my home to appear to the world. Well . . . .
IT DOESN'T!!!
Nope. When you view my home on maps.google.com, from the street view, my dream picture is not what you'll see. What you will see are cars AND the lawn mower parked in the cracked and sinking driveway. Oh, and you'll also see one of my many refurbishing projects sitting out there too, which is really a normal site for our house. Once we had a stack of old doors, that we'd found for free, sitting in the driveway waiting to be put away. They sat there long enough that a neighbor added a couple of doors to the pile just to be funny. But what was really funny, was that another neighbor asked if she could buy those doors! But I digress. . . You will also see a big ol' dead spot in the side lawn. In fact, that's how we could tell what time of year the picture was taken. You can even see some neighbor kids skateboarding down the street. It's definitely NOT a model home picture!
So, since misery loves company, I looked at other homes of people I knew. I saw one home with the barbeque grill in the driveway, one with a big garbage can sitting on the lawn. There was a home with a work trailer sitting out front being held up by a chair, and their front door was left wide open. One home had a backhoe sitting in the driveway (they were getting ready to remodel). There were multiple homes with dead lawns and wilting flowers because the pictures were taken in the heat of the summer.
I know what you're thinking! "She must live in 'red-neck' territory!" I don't. But I wouldn't be surprised if my home won for the Best Redneck Yard. If the prize is a good one, I might just enter it myself.
I just have one question for the google people. . .
WHY DON'T YOU SEND OUT A WARNING NOTICE?
I probably would have cleaned up a little if you had.
Oh well, who said my home had to look perfect at all times. My home is not my life. My home is a place where I spend my life loving, serving, laughing and enjoying my family and friends. It is the place where I house my best memories (even if they appear a little "red neck" to the rest of the world).
And google people, I do have one more question. Do you need someone to help preview the pictures of the worst homes on the block? I might be willing to do that job for free.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Window Storage


One of the first rooms that I began to demo was the half bath/laundry room. Originally there was a large cabinet with sink. The drawers on the cabinet would fall out every time you opened them, the woodwork was dark and the whole thing overwhelmed the room. I choose to replace it with a pedestal sink. I love pedestal sinks! They open up a small area because they don't take too much floor space and,in my opinion, they ooze with style and class. However, there was two drawbacks to my decision: 1- I would have to tile the floor where the cabinet was, and 2- I would need a place to store all of the necessities that are required in a bathroom.
Tiling the floor was easy. I had already taught myself how when I did my first cabinet tear out in the kitchen. We were fortunate enough to have boxes of left over tile when we bought the house. It's tricky to match someone else's tile job, especially when they did it the old fashioned way using mesh screen instead of cement board. The advantage is that I now know two techniques for tiling. A girl can never have too much home improvement knowledge!
To solve the lack of storage, we built this cute little cabinet using an old window as the door. I painted and distressed it so that it has the look of something that you'd find in a great-great-grandmother's home. As you can see, it fits perfectly next to the sink and is just the right size for holding bathroom essentials.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Real Life STUFF

I enjoy blogging! It has been so much fun to let strangers into my home and give short home tours about stuff I've re-purposed, built, thrifted and decorated. But at this point I must confess to something, I've shown you only my best side. Yep, I admit that there has been a time or two when I've posted a lovely picture of my home that has been STAGED (insert "GASP!" here). What you see is everything looking perfect. What you don't see is the pile of stuff, off to the side, just out of the photo shot. You know what I mean---all that "stuff" that seems to naturally accumulate when you live in a family. Well, today I put on my big girl panties and I'm going to show a "REAL LIFE" post.
BRACE YOURSELVES PEOPLE!!!
THIS WILL GET UGLY!

This is what my living room looks like today:

Now the advantage of having a living room, AND a family room, is that the living room should be the one room that stays clean so you're never embarrassed when someone drops by. NOT TODAY FOLKS! Today my living room is piled high with stuff.

This pile of stuff belongs to my only daughter. She's newly married and has moved across the country. She flew home for a few days to visit! There's her suitcase, bags of clothes that are belated birthday gifts, as well as more wedding gifts that her in-laws brought to our home. Yeah it's a lot of stuff! And I could clean it, but seeing that stuff warms my heart. It means my daughter is back home, if only for a few days, but she's back where I can talk to her and laugh with her and enjoy every minute I have with her! No, that pile of stuff is just fine, right where it is!
Then there's this pile of stuff:

This pile belongs to my third son. He's doing his Eagle Scout project right now. He is following in the steps of his two older brothers, who also did their Eagle projects collecting much needed hygiene supplies for a homeless shelter. This stuff represents the generosity of good friends and neighbors who are willing to give to strangers and to support my son. It also reminds me that I have MUCH to be thankful for because there are so many, many others who can only dream of the stuff I take for granted every day.
There! I did it! I showed you my REAL LIFE STUFF!
Do you think less of me? Will you come back to visit?
I hope so!
I really do enjoy showing off my beautiful stuff to all of you. But let's face it, it's the messy stuff of life that actually gives us the most joy and happiness and wonderful memories!!!
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