A little decorating inspiration

Happy Friday!

Where do all your great decorating ideas from?

Mine come from all over.

There are several decorating and organizing blogs I follow (you can see which ones in the right hand column), magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, House Beautiful and Martha Stewart, free catalogs like Pottery Barn and Ballard Design, decorating books from the library (these tend to be older, though – boo!) or simply visiting model homes and the homes of my friends.

I also scope out hotel rooms and lobbies when I get the chance, but alas, these days I almost never travel…

Recently, I picked up a couple of decorating magazines:

I was really impressed by the Country French magazine. Actually, I should call it a book, because at $9.99, that is how I justified buying it!!

Here are a few images that inspired me and I hope they will inspire you, too. The first image is from Flea Market Style and the rest are from Country French.

So much to love about the corner of this kitchen. The relaxed formality and the simple utilitarian beauty make me swoon.

Look closely and you’ll see that the sheer curtain is actually hiding a staircase. What an inexpensive and clever way to make it visually disappear.

The caned French settee, the oversize mirror with chippy paint and the iron sconces are all very grand and beautiful. But what really caught my eye was the old bird bath filled with moss balls and brought inside. So simple and lovely.

Hmmm…I’m seeing a pattern of sitting areas! What caught my eye about this one was the muted and deep colors of the landscape on the wall. I also like the understated beauty of the rug.

Last, but not least, here is a peaceful courtyard outside a stone farmhouse in a Provence in France. I don’t feel the slightest need to ever own something like that, but it sure does elevate humble pea gravel and boxwoods, don’t you think?

In other news, I’m debating whether or not to start a “31 days” series for the month of October. Although I usually post most days, it’s never on the same subject. I tend to skip around if you hadn’t noticed;)

What do you think? 31 days of vintage living in a modern world, anyone?

Leave me a comment and let me know.

Published in: on September 30, 2011 at 9:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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My favorite pillow so far: A Tutorial

My boys just left for football practice. That means I have a little over an hour to myself in a quiet house.

So…I made a little something!

Can you guess what it was?

A pillow, you say?

Why, you are right!

This is my favorite so far.

Even though I’ve made a lot of pillows, I’ve never made ones with trim. They just intimidated me because I thought I’d have to sew every gather by hand and an expert sewer I am not.

But a quick check at Hobby Lobby earlier in the week uncovered this:

Pre-made ruffled trim. For $1.99 per yard.

Suddenly, I wasn’t so intimidated anymore;)

Here is how I made it.

The easiest way to begin is to lay your fabric out on a flat surface with a pillow insert (available at any craft store) on top like so:

Make sure to leave about an inch all the way around for your seam allowance when you cut. Repeat this step so that you have two matching squares.

Next, lay the edge of your trim between the two right sides of the fabric and pin all the way around.

Then sew your edges together, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and the end. Be sure to leave an open space in the center of one of the edges (about a little larger than the width of your hand) so that you can stuff the pillow insert inside.

Once you are done sewing, turn the pillow inside out. It should look like this:

Well, looky who decided to stop by:

Mental note:  give the cat a name already!

Now cram gently stuff the pillow insert inside the case. Take a needle and thread and hand sew the opening closed. I used a lighter tan color to match the burlap, not the trim, in case you were wondering.

Here is what it should look like at this point:

I like it, but it needs a little somethin’. A quick trip to The Graphics Fairy yielded this lovely barn swallow image:

To save on ink, I enlarged the image on my computer screen, traced it with a dull pencil and then carefully cut it out:

I used a fabric marker to outline the image directly onto my pillow:

Almost done…

I grabbed two paint brushes from my sons’ art supplies and my leftover fabric paint from this project:

You’ll want to make sure your fabric paint says SOFT on it. Otherwise it’s kinda crunchy. Um, ask me how I know;)

Then just paint within the lines:

The label on the fabric paint said to let it dry for four hours before the first use. But since it’s well after 8 pm and the boys are fast asleep, I thought it was safe to put the pillow in my favorite chair:

I love how it turned out. It only cost me $4 worth of trim because I already had the burlap, fabric paint and brushes.

This was fun to do and I finished it off in one evening while the boys’ were at football practice.

Hmmm…maybe there is an upside to being a football widow after all!

I linked this up to Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest and the Best DIY Project of September at Beneath My Heart.

Published in: on September 29, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  
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The Split Pea Wreath

I know that the spacing toward the end of this post is wonky. WordPress must be making changes or I’m using an antiquated theme. It’s probably a combination of both, so please bear with me. Even after I fix my spacing, it reverts back when I save the changes. Argh.

You know I’m crushing on green right now as evidenced here and here.

So when I saw someone had made a wreath out of green split peas, I had to make one for myself.

I gathered up some supplies:

  • two bags of split green peas
  • a foam wreath from the dollar store
  • glue, glue and more glue
  • a container to hold the split peas
  • some newspaper to catch the runaway split peas
The method is easy. Dump peas into the container. Working in small sections, spread the glue on the wreath form. Let dry. Reglue the ones that have fallen off. Repeat, repeat, repeat until all sides are covered.
I would love to say that this was an easy project. Actually, it was pretty easy, but it did take some time. If I had to do it again, I would either use a hot glue gun or actual craft glue, not the plain old Elmer’s school glue so that the peas would adhere more firmly. That would also make the project go by more quickly.
Needless to say, I’m pleased with the result. I had some spare burlap that I cut into a long strip and frayed on the ends. The only problem was how to hang it. Finally, I resorted to this…
Worked like a charm. And no one will see the back of it.
So here is what it looks like in its new home:
Just a little more lovely green color to usher in the fall.
For more wreath inspiration, check out the Nester’s “You made a wreath out of what?!” party.
Published in: on September 28, 2011 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  

DIY Mercury Glass Knobs

This project couldn’t be easier.

Take some knobs on clearance from Hobby Lobby:

Remove the tags and poke them into a study piece of cardboard to catch the drips.

Then spray some water on them. While they are still wet, spray them with some mirror spray paint (purchased from Hob Lob with a 40 percent off coupon).

Go start dinner while they dry…

and then put them in their new home:

I love the fact that the finish is uneven. To me, that’s what makes it look a bit more authentic.

Published in: on September 27, 2011 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Pops of Color: Green

For some reason, I’m really crushing on green right now.

This shade in particular:

So I thought I would slowly phase out the red in my kitchen (sorry D!) and replace it with a little bit of green.

It all started with this vintage kitchen scale I found at my neighbor’s garage sale early in the summer:

Just a couple of weeks ago I found this rug at Target. It was a replacement for the all-white rug that.I.could.never.keep.clean. Love the fact that it has both blue and green in it.

Next, I found two happy little plates at Goodwill:

I just love the detail (one has an olive branch on it) and the bright cheery color.

Then I added a couple of green hand towels from Walmart:

And while I was at it, I treated myself to some nice-smelling hand soap:

Like you, I spend A LOT of time in the kitchen. I can’t explain it but a little bit of color here and there makes doing the dishes much more pleasant.

Total spent, $33:

  • vintage scale, $5
  • rug, $12
  • plates, $4
  • hand towels, $8
  • hand soap, $4

What is your favorite color?

Published in: on September 21, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  
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Tweaking Your House for Fall

It’s fall ya’ll!

So now I’m decorating for the season.

I loved the look of the white slipcovers in summer, but it just looked out of place to me now that the weather is getting cooler.

The remedy?

Just a few simple changes here and there (like taking the slipcovers off).

Here is the living room before (dressed for summer):

And after (dressed for fall):

Isn’t is funny how just a few simple changes can change the entire look and feel of a room?

All I did was:

  1. remove the slipcovers
  2. steal sweetly ask the hubby if he would return the rug in his office in the basement
  3. change around the pillows I already had
  4. bring a wicker tray (sadly that’s broken) up from the family room and put it on the coffee table to hold books
  5. fill a vintage aluminum pitcher with water and greenery OK weeds from my flower beds
That’s it.
It didn’t take long and I feel like I have a whole new living room. [This is despite the fact that our chair and loveseat are now twelve (yes, 12) years old].
What are some small changes you can do to welcome the fall season into your home?
Published in: on September 20, 2011 at 11:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Earlier this summer, I bought a mirror with a wood frame for $5 at an outdoor flea market.

Originally, I was going to repurpose it as a tray for our coffee table. However, I had a vision of one of my boys breaking it complete with glass flying everywhere.

Let’s see now…shards of glass + children = not a good idea.

On to plan B, which is to paint and hang in the office.

Here is what it looked like before:

I wanted it to coordinate with the reddish-orange tufted chair I scored at a church rummage sale. I didn’t bother going to a paint store to try to match it exactly. A $1 tube of craft paint in Light Red Oxide did the trick.

A lovely example of my precision painting technique.

And one of my essential painting tools:

I let it dry for a couple of days so it could fully cure and then distressed it with some coarse-60 grit sandpaper…

and then I hung it in my office:

I think it ties in nicely with the red-orange chair and the bird art on the other side of the room.

OK, so a professional photographer I’m not. Trust me, they are a much closer match in real life!

Now about that curtain…

Published in: on September 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Big Reveal: The Armoire

Here is possibly the world’s worst before picture:

It may not look too bad, but trust me, it was. This piece is solid cherry, but had been given a very bad pale yellow paint job, which was why it was given to me. And when I say bad, I mean, the brush strokes were against the grain of the wood.

Yeah, I know.

In my mind, I pictured one of those old, chippy, handmade-looking cabinets in a bright color – the ones that were showing more than a couple of decades worth of wear and tear.

I’m kind of crushing on green right now so I went with Valspar’s Woodlawn Promised Land. It’s a historic color (which I love), but it was also a saturated green that wasn’t too warm or too cool. Just perfect for my new-to-me office.

Next came the work…a light sanding + two coats of green paint + taking out my aggressions a bit of distressing with a palm sander (thanks J and P for letting me borrow yours!) + a dark walnut stain brushed on then rubbed off with a rag gave it the look I was going for.

And here she is after:

I couldn’t be happier with my new old-looking cabinet.

To take the whole rustic thing even further, I opted for simple knotted twine handles, rather than knobs.

They would be really easy to switch out with some crystal knobs if I decide to change my mind later.

So this is what’s big and green and living in my office/mom cave now. It fits in nicely with some of the other things I’ve been working on for the space, such as the gallery wall, little blue side table, orange chair and bird artwork.

It’s turning out to be quite the colorful space, I tell ya! Such a departure from my normal “hi, my name is Kim and my favorite colors are gray, brown, black and white” kind of girl.

Stay tuned to see how it all comes together.

I’m linking this up to Frugal Friday at the Shabby Nest and Furniture Feature Friday at Miss Mustard Seed.

Published in: on September 8, 2011 at 10:04 pm  Comments (12)  
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Form vs. Function

Alternate title:  “Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so practical”.

A few months ago, we had to buy a new washer. Since getting our old one fixed would cost nearly as much as buying new, we went on the hunt for a good deal. We ended up buying this:

Consumer Reports had good things to say about it as did my Sears-repairman father. And we’ve been very, very happy with it.

Fast forward to last Friday.

Old dryer now making very strange noises. Tom actually propped the front legs up on books so that it wouldn’t be so noisy! Getting it fixed wasn’t an option. So again, we went on the hunt.

How I would’ve LOVED to bring home this guy and set him right next to our washer:


Wouldn’t they just be so sweet together?! Swoon.

<evidence of getting older is getting excited over a new dryer>

There was just one problem. He was $809. Actually, he was $909 because we have a gas hookup. Yikes.

So the question then became…do we really have to spend nearly a grand to get something to dry our clothes?

More research, looked at Consumer Reports, more talks with Sears-repairman father’s work buddy who repairs washing machines and dryers on a daily basis. We ended up buying his less good-looking, but ultra-reliable cousin instead:

It is essentially the same capacity and similar features as the more handsome fellow, however this one was $300 less after the special Labor Day pricing.

$300 buys a lot of peanut butter and jelly, if you know what I’m saying.

It all came down to this…do I really want to spend $300 more just so it will look nice next to our washer?

Our answer was no. Call me crazy, call me practical or frugal. I am – and have been – all three.

After everything is said and done, I’m happy with our decision. And I’m even more grateful that we didn’t have to buy it on credit.

He’ll be delivered on Thursday which makes me happy. Needless to say, trying to teach two eight-year olds in a laundromat didn’t sound too appealing!

Sometimes choosing form over function makes sense. But this time function won out.


Published in: on September 6, 2011 at 10:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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Old School Cool

Yesterday was the first day of third grade for us.

(THIRD grade? My boys are growing up so fast!)

One of my goals as a homeschool mom is to make learning as fun as possible. Even geography. And yes, even math.

And since we spend so much time in this room, I figure it should be both fun and functional. So I’ve been feverishly working in our school room the last couple of weeks.

Because I’m a vintage girl at heart, my theme was a no brainer:  vintage schoolroom.

Here is our newly enlarged chalkboard:

Lots of storage – check out those globes. The biggest and smallest were from Goodwill, $5 and $1, respectively).

More storage. Vintage books and a few toys mixed in to keep things interesting:

Here is a close up of the perpetual calendar in the upper right, $2.50 from Target in the dollar spot:

Vintage chairs and desks – complete with brand new school supplies:

Note that I had to turn the desks around to face the front. Professional teachers already knew that two boys facing each other wouldn’t work – it was just too distracting. Too many giggles and bodily function noises…ahh, life with boys and eight-year-old boy humor…

Classic-style clock ($10 from Walmart, but alas, I keep forgetting to put a battery in it) and an old-fashioned schedule:


So there you have it – some of the elements that make it look a little bit vintage. All done on a very small budget. But all three of us are happy to have such a nice space to learn. Even if we are studying math:)