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Sunday, December 26, 2010


Hope all my readers had a Merry Christmas! I escaped Iowa's snowy, cold weather and am enjoying some sunshine in AZ with my family. We're all heading to Mexico tomorrow for a little vacation together.
I'll be back next week with some projects to share! In the mean time, don't forget to enter my fabric giveaway HERE.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

lots to do

Do you obsessively write lists? I do. Sometimes lists of lists. Why not another one?

Head to Marta Writes blog to download this cute To Do List for free. 
What a fun way to keep track of accomplishments! 

This one's for the coming year and covers some of the minor DIY projects I want to tackle.  I say minor because Cam and I have a few major ones that I really hope we are able to accomplish (think siding, kitchen installation, flooring, drywall...apparently these major items need a list of their own!).

1. Sand and paint thrifted dresser.
2. Finish mudding patched bathroom wall (we removed a window).
3. Hang new shower curtain (more about this one later).
4. Clean up and paint set of vintage Eames chairs for the office.
5. Decide on style and fabric for an upholstered headboard, and then make it happen!
6. Sew drapes for the office with some fun chevron fabric.
7. Say farewell to the bare coat of primer on various walls. Hello, color!
8. Strip the thick old paint off staircase. Do I have to?
9. Install shelves in the linen closet. (OK, this is really on Cam's list.)
10. Source art and photos to display in each room.
11. Refinish Tulip table with a coat of paint and a new top.
12. Attempt to re-cane a bentwood cafe chair (road side find).

Seems like I have my hands full, but I can't wait to make some checkmarks on this list. What's on your to-do list in the year ahead?
Monday, December 20, 2010


In the spirit of the Season, I raided my stash of fabric and decided it's a good time for a giveaway!

Up for grabs are two yards of any of the following fabrics. 

Simply become a follower (if you are not already) and leave a comment telling me which is your favorite and how you would use it. For an extra entry, link to my giveaway on facebook, twitter or your blog. Leave me another comment telling me you did.

Option 1.

Option 2.

Option 3.
Option 4.

Option 5.

All fabrics are upholstery quality and large scale prints. I will ship to the US or Canada! Giveaway ends January 3, and I'll announce the winner shortly after.

Also, Jenny from Little Green Notebook kindly posted my Upholstered Chair Makeover and Tutorial. Be sure to take a look at her site! She has an awesome blog - a daily read for me!
Monday, December 06, 2010

Lucky find

I picked this piece up while out thrifting with my sister-in-law. You can be sure it made my weekend!
It's solid (even the drawers are tongue and grove oak construction), has sweet bamboo detailing that I just can't get enough of, and was the right price at $40.00.

So, you guessed right that it's already getting a makeover. Notice the missing hardware, the yucky drawer lining, and someone else's first attempt at painting?  It's all about to change! I can hardly wait to get started so that I can share the "after" pictures!
Friday, December 03, 2010

Nature Inspired

When there is snow in the air, like today, a wonderful memory from last winter jumps clearly to mind: visiting my sister prior to her (beautiful!) wedding in Northern Ontario, Canada. Cold? Yes! But it wasn't the sub-zero temperatures that left me breathless. It was the scenery: tall spindly birch trees stretching skyward from the snow. Everywhere! Since then, I have been eager to work them into a project.

There are so many ways to bring trees to life inside four walls, and if all goes well, there is a good chance you may see them soon in a room that I've already started. For now, here are a few of my favorite takes on this nature inspired design.

Pricey wallpaper, but what a stunning effect!
By Anthropologie
An affordable wallpaper option
Availible from Sherwin Williams
Same as above, different colorway

Treating walls with this metallic and cork paper creates an illusion of birch bark
Candice Olson Dimensional Surfaces
Image via Aspiring Artistry

Sheer curtains from IKEA

Here's a stencil that would be a fun DIY project
By Cutting Edge Stencils
 How does the change in seasons inspire you and in what ways have you brought the outdoors in? Leave a comment below!
Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tulip Table

Anyone a fan of Finnish mid-century modernist Eero Saarinen? My hand is up and waving. There is so much to love about his fluid design.

My most recent craiglist find both surprised and thrilled me. Saarinen's tulip side table. And, get this...for only $10!

The laminate top is chipped beyond repair, so my plan is to replace it with wood or marble. I'll likely also give the one-piece aluminum base a fresh coat of paint.

Take a look below at this versatile piece. Yes, it's a mid-century design, originating in 1956, but it is classic in all senses of the word. It is equally at home in a traditional or modern setting, and is sized perfectly to be an end table or bedside stand. I've even seen it used as a child's table.

Via House and Home
Via House Beautiful
Via House and Home

Via Decor Pad

Via Decor Pad

Via Style At Home

Via House and Home
Have you scored any great finds for your home on craigslist or ebay or elsewhere? Do you like mixing different design eras in your rooms?
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Just like the a perfect pair of shoes can make an outfit, little details like these can make a room.


I've been watching craigslist and making regular stops at local second hand stores in search of a dresser in need of a face lift.  Wouldn't a few of these dress it up?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Room to grow

Here's a peak at a some of the elements being used in a boy's room I'll be working on later this week.

The challenging aspect of designing a child's room is achieving the perfect balance between being age appropriate today and ensuring there's room to grow beyond tomorrow.

Consider these ideas:

1. Relate the room to the rest of the house. Your home interior benefits immensely from continuity and cohesiveness. Use similar tones of color, styles of furniture and fixtures throughout your home, then add bits of color and pattern that reflect your child's personality and style.

2. "Just say no" to themes. They are everywhere, but I urge you strongly to think ahead a mere two years before you select dino or princess decor - or worse, a licensed character from a new movie release. Themes will only limit you when your child changes his or her mind. How much simpler and versatile (not to mention pleasing to the eye) it is to incorporate a few items on a shelf or a poster on a wall, than to base the entire room around one item or character.

3. Choose the best quality you can afford for items that will stay long term. A classic well-made dresser can take a toddler through his teenage years, and maybe even off to college. A handsome geometric print (in curtains, for example) will coordinate well with nearly any style. A wool rug will hold up to the wear and tear of rambunctious kids playing hours at a time on all fours. By making sure these investments are not too age specific, you will save money in the long run.

4. Display toys and collections. Don't hide all those [....]! (Insert: rocks, Legos creations, feathers, dolls, etc.) Instead, think of ways to incorporate them into the decor. Toys placed with a few stacks of books on a shelf are not only within reach, but they also create an interesting focal point. Paintings, drawings and posters become art when nicely framed and hung together.  Grouping items that are similar (or even just the same color) makes an instant collection. Labelled canisters, photoboxes or jars keep extra supplies or collections organized. And, if you don't mind one quick appeal, please keep our landfills free from stuffed bears and battery-operated gadgets. Consigning or donating toys, books or clothes is earth-friendly, and it's also one more way of showing your care for others in your community.

5. Perhaps most important: involve the child! For the room featured above, fifteen minutes sitting criss-cross apple-sauce with my 7 year old client (without his mom in earshot) proved to be all that was needed for inspiration and direction!
Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Do you have a piece of furniture - or maybe more than one - tucked away in the far corner of your basement? Or stashed above the rafters in the garage? Perhaps it is a piece that has been in the family for years, handed down once or twice, or maybe even kept out of sheer obligation. Clearly, it just didn't suit your style when it first came to live with you, but I implore you to take a second look. Turn a creative eye to the enormous (economical) potential under that thick layer of dust!

These Duncan Phyfe dining chairs have been in my client's family for decades. While she currently uses the matching buffet, the remainder of the set has been in storage for longer than anyone cares to admit. A single "a-ha"moment two weeks ago led to these chairs being yanked back into the light of day. They are destined for a complete makeover and will soon replace an oak Amish-made set. In the grand scheme, the renewed chairs will relate better, and beautifully, to other pieces in the dining room and adjacent rooms.

Our fabric hunt was fun and fast. The beautiful wovens below from Robert Allen were a triple win: amazing complementary prints, perfect colours, and on clearance! And, as outdoor fabrics, they are moisture resistant and easy-to-clean. What else could we ask for in a dining room?

At present, the chairs reside with a local craftsman who will tighten up a few joints to make them sturdy for everyday use. Until then, my spray painting and upholstering tools stand at attention, waiting for the moment we can begin this renewal!
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fine Dining

Last year it looked like this:

 Things became worse...

....before they became better.

Admittedly, we still have a long way to go. But two nights ago, for the first time ever, we were able to entertain a few remarkably gracious guests in a room that is actually designed for dining. I think in most households it's referred to as a "dining room"? Such a novel idea!

In prior months, having dinner guests meant serving a meal in our living room. Trying to seat everyone at a table squeezed into a room that was already home to a couch, coffee table, and a few other pieces inevitably made for tight fit. We were more than willing, then, to tolerate the current real (not faux) bois interior, as the scenery was secondary to having enough room to move and breathe. Dinner was positively enjoyable!

By now you've likely spotted the new windows and door I posted about recently. Transom windows are yet to be installed along the top, which will channel additional natural light into the room and open up the space even more, for many a "bon appetit" in the months ahead.
Monday, October 11, 2010

Double duty

2-for-1! Does that make your ears perk up? It's always great when a piece of furniture serves in more than one capacity. These stools, whether placed beside a sofa as a small table or pulled up as an extra seat, add a sculptural quality and color to any room.

Here are a few I love, in all their various colors, shapes and materials.

My absolute favorite from West Elm
Industrial look from CB2
Pretty color and subtle pattern from

A bold statement piece

Ideal for any kid's room

Clean-lined and simple from West Elm

Sure to brighten up a room!

The classic ceramic stool

Love this cut-out effect

I would love to see any multi-tasking piece you have worked into your home. Send me pictures, or leave your link in a comment.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Last week I found this beautiful orchid on my kitchen table, waiting for me to blast through the door after a hectic day.

A sweet anniversary gift from a husband who knows me well.

Today, the orchids keep me company - and keep me calm - while I work. They make me smile. I couldn't help but share.
Thursday, September 30, 2010

Like New!

The "ewww" factor has been erased. Here is my ugly duckling bench, made beautiful! I am happy with result, and even happier with the cost:
Bench: $1.00
Spray Paint: $4.00
Fabric: Free! (sample)
Total: $5.00 plus a little elbow grease

This piece tucks nicely under our coat rack and adds a shot of color (who doesn't love deep teal?) to our entry way.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Looking back

Three years ago today, I married this man.

We allowed ourselves only three months to plan our wedding, but in the end, we "got hitched" without a hitch, thanks to the help of talented friends and family and a heavy dose of creative DIY.

I designed our invitations and programs and had a friend who is amazing with graphic design edit and lay them out for printing. The invitations were printed on solid green cards that I found at Target; the programs were made to look like luggage tags, knotted together with a length of ribbon. 

My dress? I happen to have a seamstress for a mother-in-law! My gown grew from a pattern she developed after viewing my many magazine tear sheets and sketches. My veil was a nine-inch Russian piece with scattered rhinestones, ordered though For a few dollars, I embellished it by glueing a few feathers, flowers and crystals to a comb.

The flowers? I happen to have a florist for a sister-in-law! Her manager at the time kindly offered us wholesale pricing. She and my sisters put together bouquets of my favorite flowers: green cymbidium orchids, white dendrobium orchids and green tea roses. The perimeter of the ceremony was lined with pomanders made of green carnations, and a few also hung from the gazebo where we said our vows.

Both the ceremony and reception took place outdoors at a local historic village, Ushers Ferry. The older buildings and plenty of greenery made a pretty backdrop that required minimal decorating.

My husband and his extended family have a "thing" for classic cars. Cam has restored a number of them and owns a few as well. To incorporate this into our day, we had them all displayed on the lawn where the reception dinner took place. Of course, his '68 red Corvette was the perfect getaway car!

One of my favorite details was the personalized Jones Soda bottles! The Green Apple flavor and our black and white engagement picture on the label fit our grey and green color scheme perfectly.  We added our "thank you" to the back and gave them away as fun guest favors

These are just a few highlights from our day to remember. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 27, 2010


I could hardly bring myself to touch this little bench. Its "ewww" factor made me wish I had rubber gloves. Grimy and gross, both with capital G's! But, for a dollar?

The seat was immediately tossed. While supper was cooking, I buzzed over the rest with the sander and now it's ready for paint. Surprisingly sturdy, this bench begs for a new cushion and a fresh coat of paint. Stay tuned!
Friday, September 24, 2010


While cleaning out an old desk that will soon be vacating our home office, I came across these "old-school" clipboards. This was a classic case of function with no form, so I went about making them pretty.

I don't think I've touched Mod Podge since I was a child (when I decoupaged everything in sight), but a single coat of it, overlaid with scrapbook paper, did the trick in a few short minutes.

Holding paint chips, fabric swatches and/or anything else I feel like looking at, these clipboards add a bit of color and pattern to the wall. How about displaying photos this way? Switching them would be a snap!