Monday, March 29, 2010

A Monday of Surprises

Today started out rainy and cold, and it looked like it would be just another Monday full of clouds. There were tornado warnings late yesterday and thunderstorms all through the night.  Luckily I had power in the morning, so I could make a cup of coffee and work from home.  Once I got settled at my desk, Baxter made himself comfy in all the porch pillows I had brought inside to keep out of the rain... 

A few hours later, the mailman came by and I was suprised by this sweet card from Alvin! It definitely put a smile on my face and made the cloudy day feel much brighter. Then, soon after I got this card, the sun actually DID come out!  It felt like Alvin sent me the sunshine :)

So, I opened up the windows and let the fresh air flow through the house while I worked the rest of the afternoon.  My Monday was definitely getting better!

After work, I decided to take Baxter over to the Chantilly "dog park" so that we could both enjoy the sunshine.  There is a big creek that runs across one side of the park, and it typically overflows with a big rain storm.  It looked like it had overflowed the night before, because there was a bunch of branches, sand, etc. on the banks of the creek.  In all the mess, I came across two pieces of driftwood - free home decor!  Another fun surprise for my Monday!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nest (n.): A place of retreat, rest, or lodging

Some of you may remember the post last year about my Screened Porch Makeover.  Well, the spring weather has really inspired me to finish decorating it, and I'm going all out!  This is the one room that I feel like I can go crazy with a cute theme and shabby chic decor without it feeling overdone.  I'm still working on it, but I've put up some fabulous curtains from Ikea that have transformed the room, and I have just about completed the main piece of artwork that will be displayed.  I couldn't wait to share the artwork project...

The old glass cabinet door that you can see was hanging in my porch before was cool, but I wanted to take it to the next level. 

So, I thought and thought about how I could make it more of an art piece.  After my recent shopping trip at Sleepy Poet, and discovery of my bird obsession, I had decided to go with a bird theme in the room.  Then I came across these pretty Wall Tiles at Crate & Barrel and the light went off in my head....

So here is how I created my unique piece of art....

Step 1:  I saved this image off the C&B website, then zoomed in as big as it could get on my screen.  Then I taped some graph paper to the screen and lightly traced out the pattern with a pencil.  This worked out perfectly since I was able to get the image large enough to fit perfectly into each window pane.  And since I had 6 window panes to fill, I just added my own little touch to the middle panes. 

I love this Pottery Barn pillow, so I pretty much copied their idea... haha.  "Nest:  A place of retreat, rest, or lodging."  What a perfect theme for a relaxing porch....

Step 2: I glued the graph paper to old file folders to ensure the stencils would be sturdy enough for painting later.

Step 3:  I cut out the design to create my stencils - this took a little more time than I thought, but the great thing about this design is that it doesn't have to be perfect.  I just watched American Idol while I made the cuts, so the time went by pretty quick.... I loved Crystal's Janice Joplin song this week. :)

Step 4:  I cleaned the windows on the cabinet door and taped the stencils in place.  (As you can see, I didn't bother getting off the old paint that was on the windows, I figured the white paint would cover it up, but looking back now, I definitely would have taken the time to get off that old green paint).

Step 5:  I spray painted everything white so that the design would show up clear.

Step 6:  I covered up each window pane, and then spray painted the wood with glossy black paint.

Step 7:  I removed the paper and the stencils....

Step 8:  I haven't done this step yet, but it looks like I'll need to just go over the clear part with a q-tip to soften up a few spots where the tape mark is showing... can you see it on this close-up in the top of the middle branch and in the two bird tails?  You can also kind of see it in the close-up of the word "nest".  It's a little more noticable in person, but I have already tried to blend it in a bit by rubbing a q-tip over the area and it seems to work pretty well.

Step 9:  Hang and enjoy!

And as I mentioned in Step 4, that old green paint that was on the edges of each window pane probably should have been removed before I did all this because when the light shines through, you can definitely see it.  Lesson learned, but I think I'll take it as an opportunity to add one extra touch to the artwork.  More to come on that...

Oh, and last thing... I am loving these branches from my cherry blossom trees!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring is here!

Yippeeee!  It think Spring is finally here!  In honor of this lovely time of year, I thought I'd share a few pictures of the flowers I'm enjoying in my yard.  I wish I knew who planted all these pretty tulips years ago, I would give them a big hug!

And the camelias have been blooming most of the winter, but they somehow look even prettier lately...

I even see leaves coming out on all the hydrangeas that I planted last year in my big landscaping project (click here for post), so I am very thankful that the hard work might actually pay off this year!

And my cherry trees are starting to bloom!  They are on their last leg, some of the big branches have died.  I think the cankerworms must have gotten to them long before I moved in, so I should probably replace them.  But I just can't bear to let them go... look how pretty!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Basket Rescue & Estate Sale Deals

One of the great things about living near Myers Park, a very prestigous neighborhood in Charlotte, is that the people living there will throw away some nice stuff without a thought.  So, every once in a while, I'll spot a little treasure sitting on the side of the road around trash day.  About two weeks ago, I found this awesome basket just laying there all lonely next to the trash can, hoping it would find a new home before being taken away to the dump.  So, I rescued the poor little basket and took it to its new home where it is very much appreciated!  Sure, one of the handles is messed up, but that can easily be fixed just by cutting off the handles and nobody will ever know!  For now, the basket is very happy holding a pillow and some fabric remnants...

And speaking of fabric remnants, I have to share where I got the lovely polk-a-dot fabric.  On my way to the dog park a few weekend's ago, I saw a sign for an estate sale and went inside for a quick peek.  Most stuff was already gone, but I found some great items and got them all for a total of $20, including the fabric which is really thick, good quality fabric that I would expect to be $30 - $60 per yard from a nice fabric store.  Anyway, here is everything I got for the $20 bucks!

The fabric which was a total of $12....

The cute silver tray for $5....

These clear knobs for $3...

And they threw in this vintage purse for FREE!  I can't wait till my next vacation when I can use this as my carry-on.  For now, I may try to repurpose it as a plant holder or storage for all my winter gloves/hats.... so many possibilities...

Great deals make me so happy :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Birds, Butterflies, Books, and more...

I know you have been waiting on pins and needles to see what I found at Sleepy Poet.  Good news, the wait is finally over :)

I think my new obsession is birds and butterflies, I seem to be totally drawn to anything that has to do with them.  Susan was making fun of me by the end of our shopping day because I would "ooh" and "ahh" over every single bird cage, butterfly fabric, etc.  I ended up with just a few "b & b" items that I thought might fit well on my screened in porch.  Of course, I'll be painting the frames white and I have a couple fun ideas for displaying the print and plates.  And the item on the bottom middle is just a big book of birds, perfect for bird watching on th porch this summer (Lindsay, I know you're jealous!). 

Next, I found these 2 stars.  I'm not even sure where I will put them yet, but they will definitely add some character wherever they go.  I'll most likely spray paint the yellow one either white or black...

Then I found this piece of fabric (left) that I fell in love with and I'm hoping to turn into a table runner or napkins.  Not that I really know how to do that yet, but I figure I'll take a shot at it with some of that iron-on fabric tape and see what happens.  The fabric on the right is actually a set of 2 pillow shams, which should go nicely with my guest bedroom colors.

Here are a couple random items that I couldnt' resist.  First is a green glass vase which was only $1.  It looks so nice on the windowsill that it's inspired me to keep my eye open for similar pieces so I can have a collection for the kitchen window.  Next is just a pretty little storage box that I think I'll convert into a little charging station (for cell phones, camera, etc.).

I also got a few fun books, mainly for decorating, but they also looked interesting enough that I might read one day.  My favorite is the Charlotte book - the bright blue color goes great with my color scheme and of course I love all things Charlotte!  There are some really great pics in it, check it out...

I also found a couple design inspiration books.  The Flea Market Style mag is awesome so far, and I'm looking forward to getting into the "Small House, Big Style" one this weekend with a cup of coffee.

I had to go back on Sunday to grab these 4 wooden trays.  I know they don't look like anything special, but I have lots of fun ideas of how to use these suckers...

And finally, you saw these already, but I got 2 of these fabulous bird candle holders and I LOVE THEM!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Shout Out to The Sleepy Poet!

Just wanted to give a big shout out to one of my favorite places to shop in Charlotte - The Sleepy Poet!!!

They actually put a link to my blog on their website under the Sleepy Friends section since I mentioned them in a recent post, plus you may have noticed them on my "Where to Shop in CLT" list.  I love this place so much that I spent like 80% of this past weekend browsing around this store!  It all started on Saturday when Susan and I decided to go since she had never been there before.  Plus, the boys were watching basketball all day so it was the perfect chance for a girl's shopping day.  We spent over 6 hours there, so long that we had to take a lunch break halfway through, haha!  There was so much stuff we liked that we had to make some tough decisions on what to purchase, here is Susan contemplating some adorable white vases....

Saturday night, I couldn't stop thinking about a couple of the items I saw, but did not buy... so I dragged Alvin with me to go get them on Sunday - which turned into another couple of hours at the store because you can't help but see new stuff every time you go.  Anyway, I can't wait to share with you all the fun things I got, so stay tuned for more on that!  Here is a sneak peak...

Also, I noticed today that there are some other great blogs posted under the Sleepy Friends section of their website including Junk Market Style, which then led me to the Artsy Fartsy blog (one of my favorite vendors at Sleepy Poet), which then led me to the Gibson Mill Depot - another huge antique warehouse full of vendors, just outside of CLT in Concord!!!  This could be dangerous :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Free Interior Design Tools

In case anyone was wondering how I created Kim's moodboard from the previous post, I'll let you in on the secret.  I found this amazing website, MyDeco, which gives you access to these great online interior design tools:

- Make a Moodboard
- Decorate a Photo
- Design a 3D Room

Plus, you can look at tons of other people's moodboards, photos, and rooms for examples and inspiration.  So far I've only tried the moodboard tool, and it was a little quirky at first, but I figured it out without much difficulty.  You can upload your own images (which is what I did), or you can use the 1000's of images already available within the tool.  I think their images actually come from retail websites and they contain the store and cost information within them.  So your moodboard could then give you a break down of each item, where it came from, if it is still in stock, and then calculate the total cost. 

Here is one of the moodboards I like, click here to see the breakdown of items if you're interested....

The company/website is based out of the UK, so all the products are from UK retailers, but it looks like they are trying to get a US-based Site up and running soon.

Anyway, still lots to learn about these tools, I hope you'll learn along with me!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Kim's Raleigh Townhome Re-Design

Kim, one of my best girlfriends from college (Go Wolfpack!), recently asked me to help give her some ideas to decorate her townhome in Raleigh, NC.  Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to put together my first design moodboard and offer my suggestions.  So, here goes...

Before Pics:

Kim asked me to use the furniture she already has, so I mainly needed to add decor and address the layout.  My design takes her modern furniture and attempts to cozy it up a bit by adding casual, relaxing decor yet still keeping her style in mind.  Here are the elements in the moodboard:

1 - The first thing I noticed in this room is that the window treatments really needed a boost to add drama to the room and to draw the eye to the windows.  I found these Imperial Stripe Grommet Curtains at World Market for only $34.99 per panel.  I recommend getting the Extra Long length (96") and moving the curtain rod up as high as possible above the window while still making sure the curtains fall all the way to the floor.  It never hurts to get 2 panels for each side of the window to really make the panels as full as possible.  I would also love to see the curtain hardware upgraded to something a little more substantial like this Allen + Roth Bronze Window Hardware from Lowe's.  Make sure to mount the hardware so that the curtains can hang mostly outside the window, making the windows look as large as possible.

2 - This Wall-Mount Votive Holder from Pottery Barn is a great choice for above the couch because it helps cover the large wall but is a low price, only $119.  I searched and searched for all types of wall decor and this piece gives you the biggest bang for the buck.  It's hard to find stylish wall decor of this size at this price.  Plus, I like how the circle design is more simple than most iron wall plaques, keeping the look casual despite the candles.  I would suggest using battery-operated votives like these from Target to add the ambience without any worries.

3 - I love this Glass Table Lamp from World Market, and at only $69, I might have to get one for myself!  This will look perfect on the end table next to the couch, just place one of these round placemats in cream underneath the lamp to add protection and style.  While you are at it, get an extra set of the placemats and use them on the dining table as well.

4 - Baskets are one of those decor items that can really add a cozy feel to any room.  In this case, I would love to see several of these Tray Baskets hanging on the wall above the TV.  It would really soften the look of the TV and also fill up the big empty wall space for a low price.  For $71.96, you get a set of 4 of these baskets at Target.  To keep it simple, I would just line these up horizontally about 18" above the TV and space them out equally so that they are slightly wider than the TV unit.  If you like the look, you can always add more basket trays later - just stick with similar color baskets or similar shape baskets - this will prevent the basket collage from being too much of a distraction when watching your favorite shows.  :)

5 - These Button Pillow Covers from Pottery Barn are just plain cute.  You'll need 2 of them in Chive Green to add some color and comfort to the white couch and leather chair.  I'd also love to see one of these Jute Braid or Chenille  pillows in Ivory.  You really can't go wrong with Pottery Barn pillows!

6 - This Floral Leaves Pillow from Pier1 Imports fits perfectly with the casual, modern look I was wanting to acheive.  Plus, it's on sale right now for only $19.50.  Even just one of these can add the color and interest you need to give this room some style.

7 - One of my biggest challenges in this space is what to do with that archway that is currently painted green by the dining area.  So, after a lot of contemplation, I think the best thing to do is to use the space that is gained from that slight inset in the wall.  With this Holman Shelf system from Pottery Barn, you can really utilize that space and add some character to the dining space.  I know they sell these type of shelves all over the place, so you might be tempted to find something cheaper, but I love how these have a built in level to make hanging a cinch.  Plus, these are solid enough to hold lots of decor without worrying - they hold up to 70 lbs.  I don't have measurements, but I think one 4-foot espresso shelf for $85 should do the trick.  Note:  You can always add another shelf later to make it look longer, these shelves are completely flexible in that way!

The key to these shelves is the ledge that allows you to lean things against the wall withouth sliding off the shelf.  So, I would love to see the mirror that is currently above the couch placed casually, slightly off-center, on this ledge and leaning against the wall.  Then take the yellow vases that are scattered around the room, and possibly one of the candles from the dining table, and place them randomly along the ledge (take out anything that is currently in the vases, all you need is the vase itself or it would get too busy).  Then over time, you can add other decor items in the same tones of silver, yellow, and maybe cream.  Just keep it casual by not being too symmetrical about it.  As long as you stick with the same color tones, it will look "put together" without being too stuffy.  

8 - The primary element for this entire space and the inspriation for the color pallette is the Luca Ivory Tufted Rug at World Market for an amazingly low price of $279 for a 6' x 9'.  This rug will give the space tons of character and will help define the living area.

9 - Lastly, I needed something more to finish out the TV area, and to provide some much needed storage.  This Canvas Storage Trunk will look achieve both those needs by placing one on each side of the TV stand.  At $59 each, these won't last long on!!  For more storage, utilize the shelf on the coffee and side tables by adding some of these lidded storage baskets from Crate and Barrel and these green storage boxes from Ikea.  Not only will it keep things neat and clutter-free, it will look pretty to see these through the glass table tops.

OK, now that we've discussed the moodboard items, let's move on to paint color and layout...

Paint is always tough, especially when you are ridiculously indecisive like me.  So, why not make your life easier by narrowing down the huge selection of colors to the Pottery Barn Collection of Benjamin Moore Paint?  In most cases, you can find something from their pre-selected colors, or at least get inspiration to help get you in the right direction.  I knew for this room I wanted to go with something neutral to keep the cozy, calm, casual, and inviting look.  Yet, it had to be darker than what is currently there in order to provide contrast to the couch and to provide a nice back-drop for all the wall decor that will be added.  

And the choice is.... Meditation (AF-395)!  This color stood out to me because it acheived everything I stated above without being too dark.  Plus I like how it has more of a grey/blue undertone, so you avoid looking to "yellow-ey".  Here is one of the PB inspiration rooms that has been painted with this color, doesn't it make you just want to cuddle up with a blanket and read a book?

So, we still have to address the archway, which is currently painted in green.  I would stick with the Meditation paint color so that the room feels less choppy, but I would add an extra element to give that area some more texture.  Try covering the wall of the archway with this paintable wallpaper in the subtle Raffia design before you paint!

For the most part, the current layout works for this space.  I just have a couple minor changes that may help...

First, move the shelf to the back corner of the dining area and angle it towards the center.  Then fill it with dinner plates, wine glasses, and natural decor.  Stick with a simple, neutral color scheme like Crate & Barrel does with this inpiration photo:

Next, try shifting the chaise so that it is parrallel with the window, making it appear almost as a window seat.  Then lean a couple pillows against the window to complete the look.

I'd also see if you can shift the leather chair and ottoman forward and over to the right slightly to seperate it a bit more from the dining area.  Be sure to put a couple inches of space between the ottoman and chair to give it the right look. 

Finally, this is an idea you'll have to test to see if it looks right, but I think you can use that white column as a side table on the right side of your couch.  It could be a great spot to set a drink for the person sitting on that side of the couch.  To make room, remove the plant in that corner and shift the lamp more towards the corner.

Just when you thought I was done, I have a few final tips that didn't really fit into any of the above sections.  Yes, I know you are probably thinking, enough already!  But, grab another cup of coffee and stick with me, it will be worth it!  

- Remove and discard all fake plants and add a couple succulents instead.  Succulents, as I mentioned in my last post, are the perfect low maintenance plant for decorating.  And I just noticed that they are all over the latest Crate & Barrel catalogue, here's a great pic...


- Soften up the look of your lighting by replacing the square shade on the floor lamp with something like this Burlap Drum Shade from Ballard Designs.

- Freshen up the look of the dining table with a runner like this Linen Hemstich Runner from Pottery Barn, the circle placemats I mentioned above, and some bolder napkins in these silver napkin rings that are on sale at Pier1 Imports for only $1.88 each.  Then use a simple white serving dish like this Oval Baker at Target as your centerpiece and change out the filling for the different seasons.  Like use seashells in the summertime, pine cones in the fall, christmas balls during the holidays, etc.

- Finally, to keep college decor around without detracting from your new look, try something like these Wooden Picture Frames and it would be very cool to have this NC State History Paperback on the coffee table. 

Happy Decorating!!