Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Benefits Of Fresh Flowers...Who Knew!

Did you read the article on the benefits of fresh flowers, written by Wendy of the Shabby Nest, in House of Fifty?

Not only do flowers instantly make a room more beautiful, but studies have shown they also increase feelings of well being and decrease anxiety. 

Living Room Chic contemporary living room

So I say, go out and treat yourself to a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers this weekend! And if you need any tips for keeping them looking fresh longer, Wendy has some great tips for you here.

To see a collection of rooms made even more beautiful and inviting by the presence of fresh flowers, read my latest Ideabook written for Houzz here.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Oh, How These Scenes Inspire Me!

Anna of Black & Spiro...I tell you, I will visit this delightful boutique in person one of these days! Anna has put together another simply gorgeous display. The large scale butterfly fabric hung in the window is just a delight and sets off the bright turquoise lampshade perfectly.

The divinely pretty work of designer Katie Rosenfeld has also recently caught my eye. Have you been introduced to her and her work before? If not, visit her here!

What has inspired you lately?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How To Make The DIY Message Board {As Seen on Page 66 in HOF}

I had a lot of fun taking Pauline's advice to heart, creating a message center in my home. It has certainly helped me keep track of all my family's varied schedules and activities! If you haven't already done so, you can read her article here, in House of Fifty. Also, I just have to share, Max is one smart businessman in the making. He came up with the idea to charge me to model for the title cover picture! So...of course I paid up.

To make this message board you'll need the following supplies and materials:

23” x 35” framed corkboard
7/8 yard of fabric
7/8 yard of batting
150 pieces nail head trim
paint to coordinate with room decor
small paint brush
temporary fabric pen

Step 1. Gather Supplies
Find a basic framed corkboard to transform with fabric, paint and nail head trim. (The corkboards can be found for just a few dollars at Target and consider using a printed fabric as an alternative to the linen I used.)

Step 2. Sand the Frame
Using a fine grit sanding pad or paper, lightly sand any existing finish off the frame.

3. Paint the Frame
Apply a coat of paint to the frame and let dry.

4. Cover the Corkboard with Batting
Place batting over the corkboard. Trace a cutting guide along the inside edge of the frame using a fabric pen and cut along line.

5. Cut the Fabric
Lay fabric over the frame and cut along the outer frame edges, leaving approximately 3/4 inch fabric to turn under on all sides.

6. Cover the Corkboard With Fabric
After the fabric has been cut, trace a line on fabric along inner edges of frame with a fabric pen. Turn fabric under along this line and press with an iron. Wrap the pressed fabric around the batting and square the layered fabric edges with the frame.

7. Attach the Fabric Using Nail Head Trim
Push the nail head trim through fabric and into corkboard at each corner. Position the remaining nails 1/2 inch apart (nail head center to nail head center) along the frame sides to secure the fabric.

And you are done. A great message board to hang a calender, invitations, notes, reminders, the baseball practice schedule, outgoing name it!

A fun touch was personalizing our message board. I ordered two pretty notepads from Letter Love Designs, a favorite resource of mine from Australia. Visit Susannah's Etsy shop here. The 'Oriental' pad reads Isabella & Max...

...while the 'Chinoiserie' pad I had printed with House of Fifty!

I also found this great wire hanging basket at Ballard Designs. It provides a place to store the notepads, our binder with household information and this is also where one can usually find the dog leash. (It's great not to have to go searching for it as we race to the bus in the morning!)

And the favorite find for this message board? These beyond adorable bee push pins found by Cristin, see her article on page 73 in House of Fifty. They make me want to find notes to hang, just to be able to use the pins!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Strange But Wonderful Easter

It started out like any other Easter, with a nice dinner hosted by my mother. I did think it was rather odd when my brother and sister-in-law arrived in two vehicles, but I didn't get around to asking why.

Then after dinner, while we sat around watching the kids devour way too much chocolate my brother said, "okay, let's start going through the boxes." What?

{a painting by my grandmother}

Then he proceeded to bring in box after box, pulled from storage in his attic...hence the need for the two cars. But let me back up. My parents now live in the house that was originally my grandparent's home. It is such a kick for me to bring my kids to this house, seeing them excited to arrive at their grandparents house, remembering how thrilled I was whenever I got to visit my grandparents in this very house! Well, after they could no longer live in the home on their own, my brother took the lead in packing up their belongings, many of which ended up in his attic. I had no idea. So on Easter, box by box, he opened and shared the contents, each of us chiming in if it was something we wanted, if it should be donated to Goodwill or taken to an antique store. This went for a couple hours, and I can't begin to tell you what fun it was! I absolutely completely adored my grandparents and I couldn't believe all the treasures we got to visit again, so many carrying wonderful memories. My kids were over the moon as well, getting to pick a selection of treasures to take home themselves.

One of Isabella and Max's favorite picks, (that was actually my mothers, I have no idea how it ended up in these boxes) was a timer of all things! Looking at it I think of all the Saturday mornings spent baking cookies with my mom and brothers, closely watching the time tick down, impatient for the ding so I could eat a big cookie!

My eyes got big when these botanical prints came out...they hung in the hallway and I loved them.

Then I heard "grandma's paint by numbers", looking up I nearly screamed in delight!
Okay, I actually did.

These hung in my grandparent's bedroom. I remember them from when I was a tiny girl, thinking wow, that place looks amazing, I want to go there someday. Max insists they will be hung in his room, we'll see!

And then out came a painting by my grandmother that she just adored, a bouquet of flowers painted on black velvet. Yes, can you get more tacky? But it is beautiful, all chipped, worn and faded. It needs to be stretched and re-framed, but when it does I'll show pictures.

What a happy day, it felt like I got a little of my grandparents back and was able to share a little of them with Isabella and Max. Certainly an unorthodox way to spend Easter, but it's one I won't forget.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bobeshe Happiness!

Not that I even knew what a "bobeshe" was until recently. It is the proper name for a key part of many chandeliers...

"A bobeshe is a cup or ring at the top of a candlestick, used to catch melted wax running down the side of the candle." - wikipedia

But, by whatever name, I'm feeling nearly giddy with the set of six that arrived on my doorstep Saturday!

I placed a couple on the brass chandelier, which is in the middle of being cleaned of paint.
{Try to imagine the black as brass.}

Then I dug out a few spare chandelier crystals sitting in a drawer, to get an idea of the size and shape that will look best hanging from the tips.

I am just loving the funky edge these elements bring to this tailored light fixture. Oh, I'm beginning to think the end result of this light redo is going to be just fabulous!

p.s. and yes, technically, the bobeshes are meant to be attached facing upwards, but I prefer them this way; better seen from below and it is how they fit on this particular fixture. I did say funky, right?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Welcome To House of Fifty!

I am beyond delighted to announce the premier issue of House of Fifty is live! 
{click here to read}

A big "Thank You" to the contributors, as well as everyone else who submitted materials and played a role in making this concept become a reality.

We all hope you enjoy House of Fifty!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

It's That Time Of Year...Time To Start Dreaming About A Move!

Is anyone else afflicted with this disease? Don't get me wrong, I love our home and know we are fortunate to enjoy living here. But...I'm a girl who loves to move every so often, embracing a new challenge and a new adventure! And if we were to move and I could choose the location of this new home, it would definitely be in the city! While I grew up in one of the more remote places one can in this country, once I left home I fled to the cities of NYC, Chicago and San Francisco. There is truly nothing better (in my opinion) than being able to live your life for days without getting into the car, with shops, businesses and restaurants just around the corner.

DPC Pacific Heights Residence traditional

Of course, city living can be a complete and total budget buster, starting not only with the cost of the home, but education costs, higher taxes and insurance...the list could go on and on. So, for now, I'm simply enjoying a little dream house hunting. To see more of the remarkable city homes that have caught my eye, read this week's Ideabook on Houzz.

Have the best weekend! Janell

Friday, April 22, 2011

Slowly, Very Slowly, But Surely...

Seriously, I had thought the dining room would have been done by now. But it isn't, and that is okay. I'm not going anywhere...

The most recent challenge has been to remove paint from this brass fixture. After my scraping method proved to be too time consuming, research suggested a blow dryer would do the trick, melting the paint. Okay, that didn't work. I don't know what kind of blow dryer would get the paint that hot, but if I had one I wouldn't be showing my hair anywhere in public!
So I've moved on to the next possibility, Smart Strip by Peel Away. I chose this product because of the below claims:

Smart Strip™ by Peel Away® Paint Stripper is user friendly and does not contain methylene chloride, caustic or toxic chemicals. Smart Strip™ by Peel Away Paint Remover will NOT Burn Hands. Water based paint stripping formula. 100% biodegradable paint stripping product. Works wonders on painted brick, all kinds of wood products, metals, stone, plaster, concrete, fiberglass and much more! Great for Acrylic Paint, Latex Paint, Lead Based Paint, Oil Based Paint, Shellac, Stains, Urethane and Water Based Paints. AMAZING RESULTS.

Okay, we'll see. A quart is on its way to my home, as are the below brass bobesches! LOVE! They should be here the first of next week.

As should the grasscloth wallpaper, which I ordered the first week of January!!

And another order has been placed for nail head trim, so I can eventually finish the bench redesign, after the first order arrived bringing me the wrong style.

So if you are ever discouraged, wondering "why isn't this room just falling into place?", remember my dining room!

In the meantime, while all this waiting is going on, I had fun giving Max a long overdue haircut. He does NOT like getting his hair cut, I can beg and beg only to be refused. But the other evening he asked, "can I get my hair cut before my first baseball game?" Sure, why not now? This picture doesn't show it, but I cut off inches! Then everyone got a good laugh (including Max) at his "Man Sweater". Yikes...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This Week I'm A Judge...How Fun!!

This week I'm excited to be trying out a new role, that of judge for this week's challenge at the fabulous blog The CSI Project, a haven for DIY lovers! And what is the topic of this week's challenge? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

As the judge of this week's challenge I will review each project Friday afternoon, visiting each site, making a top 10 list of my favorites, plus one top winner. I'm really looking forward to seeing what projects have been submitted, as well as being introduced to new blogs!

If you have a project you would like to share, make sure to stop on over to The CSI Project now and submit your project that incorporate this week's challenge of reducing, reusing and recycling!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

DIY Table Runner

When browsing for fabrics to highlight in a post on how to mix and match fabrics, I came across the Garden Envy jacquard. Love. I knew I had to find a way to use it in my dining room project! So during a recent sale I placed an order for the fabric, along with the solid Brandywine Duck in Natural, to make a table runner.

Once the fabric arrived all the needed supplies were gathered: fabric marker, measuring stick, scissors, pins, thread, as well as the sewing machine and iron. 

(Side note: when we moved from house 1 to house 2, the sewing machine apparently got lost. It wasn't until moving to house 3, about three years later, did it surface from underneath a pile of boxes that never got unpacked! I'm now wondering how I survived and decorated house 2. Hum, I think I did borrow my mom's machine for awhile...)

To begin, the selvage was cut from the length of fabric. These edges can sometimes be more tightly woven than the body of the fabric, and if they are not cut away the resulting seams can end up looking "puckered". We don't want puckered!

Next the center point of the print to be showcased down the center of the runner was determined. As I wanted the finished runner to measure 27 inches across, I measured 13.5 inches out from the desired center point of the print in each direction. 

(This is the only tricky part, when making a runner from a print! Each print is different and you'll have to just decide what area of the print will look best running down the center of the runner.)

Afterwards an additional inch was added for seam allowances on each side, for a total cut width of 29 inches. 

Once the jacquard fabric was cut to size, it was then placed over the fabric to become the underside of the runner, with the right sides facing together. Next the lining was cut by simply cutting around the edges of the jacquard fabric.

Before moving the two layers of fabric, the edges were pinned together at about 7 to 8 inch intervals.

Next the fabrics were sewn together, leaving an approximately 10 inch opening to allow the runner to be turned right-side out.

{Trimming the corners helps ensure nice flat corners.}

And in the last steps, the runner was turned right-side out...

...the seams pressed and the opening slip stitched closed.

I love the colors the runner introduces to the table area, picking up on hues seen in the adjacent spaces.

What a wonderful spot to set up for a party.
{Or for Easter...or simply to bring in a spot of pretty any day of the week!}