Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall Mantel Change-Up

I have a thing for birds and pheasants are one of my favorites.

I decided after looking at Kim's mantle over at Savvy Southern Style and then checking out the mantle party at TLC that it was time to change mine up. I've never been much for a lot of seasonal decor when it comes to accessories. Probably would be if I just had more time to play with it. Come to think of it, I did used to change up the mantle some before kids! Shame on me. Anyway, I need to get back to it again. So, I started hunting for stuff to dress it up.

The stick theme is really "sticking" with me lately (OMG, that was lame!) after the chandelier change-up so I headed out to find some great textural pieces in the yard. I tried taking away my dried grass, but it just looked so bare! One day, I plan to tackle that massive space over the mantle and add some architectural detailing, but until then ....I digress. I decided to keep the grass with the sticks and liked the look. It reminds me of the salt marshes.

Two old apothecary jars I have had for years were then pulled out. They were filled with "Mighty Mac" vegetable bowtie pasta to fill the base and hold the grass/sticks in place. Perfect fall colors!

I'm always hitting the grocery isles for textural and colorful items!
Perfect! Reminds me of fall leaves (in a yummy way).
Scottie Dog stood there eagerly waiting on all the pieces I kept dropping as I filled the jars:)

Little guy and I hit up the grocery store for some ornamental pumpkins as well. We even rounded up the ones that grew in the garden this summer from the seeds of last years in the compost. Can't beat free!

It needed a little more UMPH (technical term!)....something was missing. Oh, I know! Pheasants are so beautiful and are synonymous with fall to me, so I added some fathers feathers to the grass and sticks to complete the arrangements.


I went looking for something nice and chippy to go over the mantle in place of the mirror (which is too small for that space, but it's just had to do for the time being). Something like this would have made my day, but no such luck:

via Southern Accents
I'm not quite sure why this image decided to rotate on me, but it looks the same sideways - so I'm leaving it as is. If it bugs you, turn your head and look at it from that angle:)
Would you believe none of my usual thrift store haunts had ANYTHING?! What's up with that? We really need a good large scale architectural salvage store around here. Hmmmm.... Anyway, I'm going to be on the lookout for a large window like this. I have plans for it when I finally find it (cue the crazy laugh...because WHEN am I going to find time to do anything else until soccer season is over?!).

So, since there was no chippiness to be had, and I didn't want to spend any money, I went digging in the cupboard and found this pie dish that hubby's grandmother gave me not longer as they were moving into a retirement home. I took the lid off and found a great pie dish in the perfect color to compliment the pumpkins.

The inherited pie dish.

Mix it all together and you get this!

My simple fall mantle makeover. I especially love the dried grass, sticks and fathers.

Nothing major - just a little tweaking for autumn. I like to try and follow the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple, Sweetie!) because otherwise it can start to feel cluttered. Clutter makes me twitch... and I've got enough twitches going on already around here!

Happy Fall, Ya'll  - as all us southern girls would say!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cleaning Outdoor Cushions

Nope. Not mine, but same look! My screened in porch is still a work in progress. You'll see it when it's DONE:)
via www:// 

If you're like me, you've got outdoor cushions that go to your patio furniture, and they probably don't look exactly brand new anymore. One of the biggest drawbacks to living in the south is our humidity. It wrecks havoc on anything that can warp or grow everything! So, you've go two options with patio furniture:
1. Don't use cushions,
2. Use cushions but only bring them out when you're actually sitting on them.

I'm not a fan of either option. My patio furniture gets used almost as much as my indoor furniture, so cushions are a must. But, I'm not going to put them up, then pull them out all the time. Silly. So, what's a girl to do? Let them sit there and get filthy so that NO ONE wants to sit on them? Nope. Let's add an option three to the above:

3. Clean them regularly (annually or bi-annually- in my case)

The issue is this, mildew/mold doesn't come off with a garden hose (or a pressure washer for that matter). You can scrub till you're blue in the face, with no luck. That is...unless you use the right product! Oh, yea. My secret is about to come out. I'm sharing this little secret with you after "testing" it for years. It just works...plain and simple. My old neighbors used to see me regularly out with a scrub brush, garden house, patio furniture AND cushions on the driveway. It's not an easy task, doing it the old fashion way, but it works and last all season.

Here's the secret:
Ahhh....the secret weapon!

As you know, I'm not a fan of chemicals, but I'm also a realist and know that sometimes that's just what you gotta use. When it comes to mold/mildew, you gotta pull out the big guns! Originally, I only used this on my white resin wicker patio furniture, then I got sick of the mold on my soft yellow cushions and decided they couldn't possibly look worse. What did I have to loose? Out it came and with a little experimenting, I figured out how to make them look brand new! Seriously!

Here's the method:
1. Soak the cushion or furniture down with water,
2. Spray liberally with Clorox Clean-Up,
3. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes (not if you're in a dry environment...only where it's humid),
4. If you have one of these:

Karcher Pressure Washer
the next step is really easy. Just spray it down real good with the pressure washer, turn on end and let dry. If you don't have a pressure washer, a good stiff scrub brush and garden hose will do. Just scrub every square inch down and then wash off. Again, stand on end and let dry.

See how easy that is? I even got up the nerve to try it on BLACK cushions with light color stripes that were beyond gross. Want to see?

Oh so dingy and dirty! It's either come clean or get out for you, cushion!

Ugh! See the mold on the light colored stripes?! Not the greatest picture, but the next one shows it in all it's glory:)

I can't believe I'm showing you this! Disgusting!
There's a reason I went with black last time I bought cushions.
Another reason for mold issues is kids. We all love to eat out on the screened in porch and if you've spent five seconds with a kid eating, you know SOMETHING will end up on the seat!

O.k. ready for the after?

Oh, be still my heart!
It didn't even fade the black! It's like Clorox 2 for colors...really makes them pop more (then again, maybe just removing dirt does that!). Just for fun, let's see that again...side by side.

"Why, helllllooo! Didn't recognize you all cleaned up! Want to stay awhile? Have a seat!"

Amazing what a little bleach can do!

linking up with:
Savvy Southern Style WOW #33 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Inspiration Monday #2

I'm embarrassed to say I completely forgot to do my inspiration take off last Monday on Pinterest! As I sit here typing tonight, my eyes are crossing from exhaustion. I had one of those "Ground Hog" days. You know, the one where you keep getting everything wrong or stuff keeps happening until you start to wonder if you should just go back to bed and when you wake up it'll all start fresh?! Ugh! Seriously, it was beyond comical by the time I realized there were TWO soccer games, not one this evening. I finally put on the brakes, packed the two older ones off to games with Daddy and let Little Guy finish his nap as I cooked supper. I never miss a game, but today was about to send me over the edge, so when he suggested I stay home I jumped on it:)

Anyhoo, ready for some inspirational brainstorming from one of my pics? I took this a few years ago at Kiawah Island off Charleston, SC. We had one of those rare beach days where starfish were all over in tidal pools! Running from pool to pool with buckets, the boys and I made memories we'll never forget.

So, here it is:
"Kiawah Starfish 1"
B.E. Interiors Photography
Sorry, guys. I'm still in summer mode and never leave it willingly!
When I look at this picture, calm neutrals, easy but sturdy fabrics and taking it easy come to mind. So, I took that and ran with it...creating a family/living room off these colors and textures. To see the board, go to . I'm not even going to copy and paste tonight. I have to get up and actually get dressed to take the kids to school as I have a conference at 7:25 am. Oh, the horror! Yes, I actually drop the kids off dressed in either my PJs or workout clothes! All the people who know me from the gym don't even recognize me with make-up and my hair done. pathetic! Better get the coffee set to brew!

Hope you enjoy the board. Take it and run with it. Make it your own or let it get your brain wheeling. See where your creativity takes you with this picture as your starting point.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Finished Armoire & Furniture Refurbishing: Part II

Well, after a week, here’s Part II! Like I’ve said before, my top priority is my family, then blogging/business. One thing I’m finding out is that keeping with all three this time of year is tough. Talk about a busy time! Even thought we try to limit activities so as to not always be rushed, it still seems like all we do is run from point A to point B.

O.k. enough whining. Ready to see the finished Armoire?

Let's see the before one more time:

Lovely, wasn't it?!

The Ugly Duckling had become a Swan!

I have to say, I loved this finish! Believe it or not, this was probably one of the easiest I've done.

Chalk paint just rocks! That's all there is to it.

I wasn't sure what that old decal would look like if I just left it, but the relief is so pretty. Wouldn't a monogram in gray look pretty in it? I may offer that as an extra service when I sell it. It'll be interesting to see if anyone takes me up on it.

See how I added the trim piece at the bottom to cover the rippling, loose veneer? The casters are just on for ease of moving and can be removed after it gets to the booth.

I even made sure to preserve and seal the old manufacturer label on the back. I can't believe it was still on there and in one piece!

Bet you wondered which fabric I went with, didn't you!

I was momentarily tempted to go more beachy with the fresher-more colorful fabric,
but this was just seemed more appropriate for the piece (more neutral).

See that center back panel? The fact it was off-center drove me batty! I even contemplated adding trim to make it more symmetrical! See, being a perfectionist can sometimes drive me nuts!

Even the drawers are lined.

Furniture Refurbishing: Part II

With Part I, I walked you through the process of coming up with a design. I’ll pick up where I left off, which is bringing that “idea” to fruition.

Once I have my colors and formulations picked out, I then set about analyzing how I’m going to apply the idea:

  1. Before I can start, I have to decide if the piece needs to be stripped or not. If I’m going for a distressed, painted look and it’s in overall good shape, then I can skip this step. If I am staining or want smooth, clean lines then it will be stripped to the bone.

  1. Once stripping is either skipped or done, it’s sanding time – lightly for no stripping to increase adhesion or heavy if a smooth finish is desire or marks have to be removed.

  1. Now I’m ready to apply one of three things: primer, chalk paint or wood conditioner for stain.

  1. Next, it’s time to apply either paint, decorative finish/second layer of paint or stain…depending on if primer, chalk paint base coat or wood conditioner was used (in order following step two).

  1. Again, sand – only this time with a very fine steel wool or high grit paper if achieving a smooth finish or staining, and very rough for distressed pieces.

  1. At this point, it becomes a layering game to get the desired finish-repeating steps 4 and 5 until satisfied.

  1. Once I’ve gotten the finish I desire, I topcoat with either wax or poly. I NEVER skip this step…even if I’m after a very distressed look. There’s too great a chance that kiddo’s or everyday life can mar it and take distressing too far!

  1. Finally it’s time to apply the fabric and topcoat with Mod Podge.

I’m not a crank-out-as-many- pieces- as-I-can kind of girl, but I try to move quickly. How quickly a piece is finished is determined by a couple of things:
    • Did the redo process go as planned? (rarely!)
    • Is it sports season or summer break (during these two or three times of year, it’s about all I can do to get a shower)?
    • Is my booth full or do I have room to put more in?
    • Am I working on interior projects within my own home simultaneously?
    • Do I have custom work orders (those take precedence)?
    • Are the kids all healthy?

Any one or all of the above can mean I take longer than anticipated on a project. It’s just a reality and my family comes first. Sometimes I fight frustration with how long it takes to get something completed, but then I have to remember why. This is such a short part of my life (raising children) and I don’t want to get so sucked up in the rat race that I forget to stop and enjoy every little momentJ. 

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I am so excited! Part of the reason I've been slow with posts lately is due to the fact that the computer set up here just wasn't working anymore. I couldn't get my old hunk of junk to work without crashing and hubby has been so slammed that when I tried to get on his, I got booted... with good reason. His computer time brings in a paycheck!

But something really good came to one who waited (albeit, rather impatiently)! Ready for this? I got a new computer out of it! Wha-hoo! I'm such a nerd. I haven't had a computer to myself that actually worked like it should since I quit work over 8 years ago. Words can't describe how excited I am to sit here typing on my MAC without fear of it crashing or getting booted off! Oh the things I want to show you now that I can actually access a fast up to speed Mac and all my software!!! You just wait. I am finding it's taking me just a little while to get back into using one and the wheels need a little oil for sure. But, give me just a little while and I'll be back up and running faster than ever:)

That said, I was transferring files to get the new computer set up, and found some of my old master bedroom in Charleston, SC I thought I would share with you. Now, remember....I like color, but even this was pushing the envelope for me. But, after I got the walls painted, I LOVED it! We lived there for almost three years and I never tired of it...amazingly. To be honest, it wasn't what I was going for, but I kind-of liked it... and decided to go for it with a heavy dose of white everywhere else to balance the intensity. Of course, I wasn't dealing with color all day like I am now so that might be why I never got tired of it. Anyway, want to see it?

This room just makes me happy to look at. Gotta be the color.

I loved the sunlight, even though view wasn't exciting. The drapery panels were working blackout lined, white linen panels with a sheer layer overlay that I made after touring this Southern Living home in Charleston (below). 

via Southern Living

There's a quickie sent from the new computer and a little trip down memory lane for me - in more ways than one. Man, I'm rusty, but I'm it's all coming back...S   L   O   W  L   Y!

Tomorrow I finally get to post my finished armoire - Furniture Refurbishing: Part II.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Angels!

Three of the best things that ever happened to me!

Lest you think that just because I believe in angels, I'm raising them...let me just set you straight. Want to know why it can take a while for a project to get done around here these days? Why I laugh instead of the alternative...cry??! Why I just fall into the bed at night or forget spell check after my nightly posts?

I love my boys and wouldn't trade them for the world. But... my little guy could try the patience of a saint! He's really well behaved - don't get me wrong, but talk about curious and mischievous! Gads! He's Dennis the Menace in living flesh with red hair. I sure hope he's got nine lives!

Let me just show you what I found this morning after I got out of the shower. I couldn't help but laugh....because every time I get out I wonder what I'll find.

Every long crystal had been methodically pulled off my dressing table lamps...

and laid neatly in a line for me on the table!
This is just his most recent episode. Yesterday, he loudly announced to everyone in the doctor's office (not the pediatrician so these weren't all parents!), "I just POOTED!" I nearly died. I stared in disbelief at the alien sitting next to me grinning ear to ear...reveling in his brother's raucous laughter and all the giggles behind magazines! UGH!

Oh, and he didn't stop there. In the office, the assistant sticks her head in the door, "You called?" He grins and says " No...the little redhead behind the chair did!". What?! I then realized he was stepping on the little floor bell over and over again loving the noise it made. I went home with a headache.

Last spring on the way home from an outing, he was so quiet I just assumed he was asleep...especially since his brothers were both in the car with him and would let know if he was up to something. WRONG! This is what I saw when I opened the door to get him out:

"What did I do, Mom?"
That would be my last remaining tube of lipstick he'd left unscathed...Clinique. Not the cheap stuff like normal.

Then within a day or so, I got out of the shower to find a sugar trail leading from my bedroom door to the kitchen and this at the end of it:

Yes, he was eating out of the sugar bowl with a spoon! UGh!
He really can be sweet though.

"Hey, beautiful! Want to check out my ride?"

"Why sure! I thought you'd never ask."

Every night he says to me as I'm tucking him in bed, "You're the best mommy EVER!" and I can't help but forget all my frustrations. I think he's got a perfect little halo sitting over that red mop:)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Effects of Color

Did I say I'd have that armoire "after" posting the day after Part I?! Silly me. I should know by now that "the best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry (Robert Burns)"! Seriously, I thought I'd have it up and posted by Saturday, but the unexpected happened. I'm done but a little behind getting the post up. So, I thought I'd share an example of how profoundly people are affected by color. I had an awesome example pop into my head today as I frantically tried to get from A to B to C to D....without falling off the hamster wheel (lame, but exactly how I felt!).

If you have read much of my blog, you know I am a "market research analyst" in an unofficial capacity these days and one of my favorite topics is color and how it impacts people on both the conscious and sub-conscience levels. I try to carry that over into my furniture and room makeovers when possible ...because this is a business as well as a passion of mine.

Here's a perfect example of how color has more impact than most people realize:

V8 Fusion Strawberry/Banana vs. Blendz Strawberry/Banana


They are essentially the same product made by different labels. Being a mom of picky kids who'd rather starve to death rather than eat anything healthy, I've hunted for every possible option to sneak in some vitamins where ever possible. V8 Fusion has been one of my standbys even though they are getting a pretty hefty dose of natural sugars as well.

I thought I'd try switching it up on them. I found the same basic product for about a dollar less per bottle called Blendz by Nature's Nectar at Aldi's. I slipped it into their glasses at dinner.

Blendz on the left, V8 Fusion on the right.

Big Guy commented on how much he liked it and asked what was different. Middle Guy decided to try it having no idea it wasn't the same old thing. I messed up and put his in a clear glass. He and Big Guy  immediately noticed that the Blendz wasn't the bright red of the V8 Fusion. It is more brown (natural). Immediately the nose turned up and he decided he didn't like it...without even trying it! Following suit, Big Guy suddenly didn't seem so keen on it either...all over the COLOR! Amazing! Funny thing is they taste almost identical. One is just muddier looking:)

Translate this info to your home. See how profoundly a rooms color can impact people?! Color choices can make people want to stay or run. And, it's actually not usually the color so much as the hue that gets messed up. Getting the right tone or shade of a color makes all the difference.

Here's a classic example - yellow:
Barry Dixon does yellow right!

Yellow gone oh, so wrong!

See number 330E-3 Sensible Hue on the color chart below? That would be the soft YELLOW that is on my family room walls!

Family room when we moved in...too intense and gold!

That's that tan looking color on the chart! Amazing. Sooooo much better and restful!
 Perfect example of how color can change drastically from how it looks on the small paint chip versus a large expanse of wall. When in doubt, always go for more muted, grayer, muddier tones and a shade lighter than you actually think you want. Muted colors are softer/more livable and stepping up a shade will keep the color more what you envision versus overpowering.

That doesn't mean be overwhelmed or scared of getting it wrong. Paint is one of the easiest and cheapest things to change in a room that has the greatest impact. So you get it wrong once in a while. We all do. Need some help picking that color(s)? Look at a fabric you love and along the selvage is the printing color test for each of the spot colors. A built-in palette! Or ask the guys behind the counter at a good paint store like Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams...not at Lowe's or Home Depot (turn-over is too high). They know what the most popular colors are and if it's popular, there's usually a reason! Check out House Beautiful's website. They list colors designers love in each shade.

There you go. A quick example of how important color is. Take your time. Pick carefully, but don't stress over it. Get help if need be and if you have to redo it, just remember....EVERYONE has had to redo paint at least once!

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