May 22, 2011

{Quilts and Auctions}

“When life gives you scraps make quilts.”

I haven't been to an auction since my dad took me when I was a little girl.  At one of the auctions, I remember that he bought me a collection of costume jewelry, which I thought was the coolest.  I am not sure what we (he) were actually looking for, but I thought it was neat to look through all of the old stuff.

I saw an ad today about an old farm auction and we decided to check it out.

It was full of antique, vintage stuff, and I was in heaven.  I had my eye on the handmade quilts, antique blue Ball jars,  old crocks, and two end tables.  As it got started, there was one small detail about auctions that I forgot, and that is that they take time, a lot of time.  We only stayed for about an hour, but I did have enough time to bid on a quilt.

It's an antique, handmade, wedding ring quilt, with beautiful, vivid colors.  It almost seems as though this quilt was folded up and placed in a linen closet and then forgotten about.  Upon inspection, it had no stains and no fading...score!  It did have wonderful colors, which I thought were beautiful...and I was in love!

So I bid, as well as just about every other lady there. After a few minutes, I was the winner!  I didn't pay too much either, but maybe a little more than I really wanted to spend.  But when you think of the women (or woman) who made this quilt, and realize that every stitch was done by hand... I feel it was worth every penny. 

I have big plans for this quilt as it will go into my guest room that I am currently working on.  I think I will do as Sarah (Sarah's Summer House) did in her summer cottage, and hang it on the wall...

Here she is people...I think she is absolutely lovely.  Just the right colors for my room (a little turquoise, some blue, a dab of orange, and of course some red), and I couldn't be happier.  I am so excited to see her hang in the finished room...if we ever get there!


May 18, 2011

{Flower Pots and Staking}

The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. 
 – Robert Louis Stevenson

Spring has sprung, and I am always excited to plant my outdoor flower pots at this time of year. The inspiration for my flower pots came from when we lived in Chicago and all of the street side restaurants.  The coffee shops, bistros, and pubs would have fabulous flower pots on the sidewalks for spring, summer, and fall. I always thought they looked great, so I wanted to mimic the look at my own home. Not only do they remind me of the time when we lived in Chicago (and summers were always the best in the city), but I think the burst of color livens up our home!

So, here is what I do to make my flower pots (it’s pretty simple, and I know most of you probably already know how to do this, but I thought I would share):

-a pot
-potting soil
-small annual plants (Annuals do not come back every year and are usually cheaper at a big box hardware store. They are pretty, but they will die every year in the cold weather, so I make my pots every year around Memorial Day. Your plant date will vary depending on where you live.)
-rock or gravel if needed

First, clean out the pot that you will be using (remove old debris/dead plants if you are reusing a pot) and add more soil. I usually use Miracle Grow potting mix (you do want a potting mix made specifically for pots). If you are starting with a new pot, I usually add a big rock, or gravel to the bottom of my pot for drainage. You want the water to go in and drain out so you do not drown your plants. I have also heard of people adding packing peanuts to the bottom of their pots for drainage and to lighten a heavy pot. This is a great idea for real ceramic or glazed pots that can get kind of heavy. My pots aren’t very big, or heavy, so I used a big rock on the bottom of each to take up space (so I wouldn't need as much dirt) and to stabilize the pot.

Plan your color scheme...I chose pink this year.

You will also want to plan the layout of your plants before you plant. I usually do this by taking the plants out of their containers, and laying them on the soil in the location where I want them. I start in the center with a “spike” and then surround the spike with the flowers. I put vinca vines on each side of the pot, so they will grow and spill out onto the steps of our porch. The petunias go in a group in front, with begonias on the sides, and pink vincas in the back (they grow taller). I usually group the same flowers together, but I have also alternated my flowers, which looked great as well. I pack my pot full of plants (usually 5-6 of each), that way when the young plants grow throughout the summer, they overflow. Water well when planted and enjoy the beauty all summer! I usually water my pots once a day, or every other day, depending on how hot it’s been! Just feel the soil, and if it feels dry, then water.

Center of Pot: a spike (sold at any hardware store for about $2.50)
On the Sides: two variegated vinca vines (sold at hardware stores as well $2.50)
Flowers: petunias, vincas, and begonias (I got a six pack of each for .99 at my local hardware store)

Recycling a Garden Hose:
An old tip if you just planted a tree and need to stake it...use an old garden hose.  Cut it into sections, and string it onto the rope that you are going to use to tie to the stake.  It will protect your tree, it's free, and you saved a hose from going to a landfill!

Happy planting and growing!

May 16, 2011

{Spray Painted Headboard}

“Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.”

- Edgar Degas

I spray painted a JC Penney headboard that I have had for awhile...and the results were pretty good!

The before of this bed was shiny, brassy, and metal.  I got it from online and didn't pay much for it here.  I even used and got a coupon for 15% off, and then picked it up from the store, so shipping was free.  I think I paid about $120 for the headboard when it was all said and done. 

Not too bad, but I was going for a look like this...

This is the Queen Mendocino Bed from Pottery Barn and the regular price is $1,099.00 with a delivery surcharge of $75.00.  Way...let me say that again...WAY...out of my price range! 

So, when I bought it from the online catalog at JC Penney, I definitely was hoping for the best.  But instead, I got something like this...

Not terrible, but definitely not the look I was going for.  It was a little too shiny, a little too brassy, and a little too, well, it just wasn't right.  I almost thought I got burned, until I saw what The Lettered Cottage did to theirs...the same bed...with Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint!

So, I had to copy!  We laid out the original cardboard box and got to spraying...we didn't even prime!  We used Rust-Oleum's ORB Universal Spray Paint, and I have to say, I think it turned out fantastic.  I think it's a great knock-off and it saved me about $1000!  That is great savings...if I do say so myself!

While I was at it, I sprayed the candle holders as well.  They were brushed nickel before, and now they are lovely with the bed.  I have two, but only use one in this room!

Spray Painting Tips:
2. Go slow...and take long sweeping swoops across the item.
3. Several, thin coats, are better than one big thick coat.
5. Prep your item.  Clean well...the paint will stick to dirt, and you don't want that!

spray paint party

{Color Injection: The End Table}

Beauty without colour seems somehow to belong to another world.
~Murasaki Shikibu

With color names like Cotton Candy, Creme Brulee, Vanilla Bean, and Key Lime Pie, it's hard not to be inspired by Somerset Bay's painted collection of furniture.  

I'm in love with this furniture, which actually surprises me.  I am not a painted furniture kind of gal...but I'm learning to love it!  Usually, when I have found a piece of furniture, we refinish and stain...but I am trying to inject more color accents into my home and I think painted furniture will be the ticket, while keeping the backdrop neutral.  Something like this...

I love the "Cotton Candy" finish and I am thinking it would be the perfect accent to our guest room. These pictures are the inspiration for my end table...

(all images from Somerset Bay)

I found this end table at the Goodwill and paid $5 for it a few years ago. It's an old sewing machine table that Justin refinished and stained, but I always kind of thought that it was a little too dark (not his fault...he does awesome work).

So, I decided to paint it Cotton Candy by Somerset Bay. Well, not really Cotton Candy, but Lake Country, by Valspar. Since, I didn't have an actual swatch, I'll explain later how I got a perfect color match.  And let me say, I was very happy with Valspar's new Hi-Def paint.  With a little Floetrol added, I got this baby completely coated in one coat.  I did go ahead and do a second coat just to make sure the finish was perfectly even.  Added a new knob, and I think I got a pretty good looking Somerset Bay knock off for about $10.

I've linked up...

good one

May 15, 2011

{Color Therapy: Turquoise and Red}

My new obsession: Turquoise and Red.  I love this color combo, and plan on using it in my home.  I don't have enough guts to use it in my main living areas, but I definitely think our guest room will get the color treatment. 

Here's some eye candy that I'm using for my inspiration...

Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon.
~Peter Lynch

May 13, 2011

{Making Signs}

Signs seem to be everywhere and I love the way they look in a home. Perfect for a mudroom, laundry, bathroom, or kitchen. "Real" vintage signs seem to be hard to come by, and pretty darn expensive, so I thought I would make my own.

I don't have a fancy sign making machine that cranks out perfect letters on transfer paper, or graphite paper to trace (too fancy for me, and too much stuff to buy and store). What I do have are crayons, and lots of them! You seem to collect those when you have a three year old running around the house and making pictures for you (my favorite, especially when they consist of faces of smiling people).

One of my favorite signs that I have seen is this one...

Not that I don't love hippies, because I do!  But I thought it was hilarious.   I found it, and we will be adding this to our mudroom in the future.  I like stuff that makes me smile, even laugh, when I decorate my home. Not too serious, or stuffy...and this makes me smile a little.  

I decided to make my own sign for the kitchen, using some of that extra wood that we had from the fireplace redo.  It was quick and easy.  This was a "tester" but I decided to keep it, and use it in our kitchen. 

1. Print out the letters in the font and size you want for your sign.
 2. Take a crayon (if you're like me, these are readily available) and scribble all over the back of the letter.
 3.  Lay the letter on the wood and trace with a pencil.
4. Some of the crayon should have transferred onto the wood.
 5.  Paint inside the lines.  I used a foam brush...but use an angled or round brush.  You will have more control and will be able to paint straight lines easier.
Not that I needed a reminder, but as you can see, my sign says "EAT."
6.  Sand, sand, and sand some more.  I really wanted an aged look.  Plus, I made some mistakes on the corners of the letters, so I wanted to get rid of some those by sanding them off.

7. Stain. I like the look of black letters and stained wood. I used Minwax's English Chestnut stain for an antique look.

 8.  A coat of poly will make the stain look more vivid.  I used Waterlox because it's what we had left over from a counter top project. 
9. Wait for it all to dry, and hang, lean, or do whatever!  You just made a sign.

Future project inspiratons...

"the kid's" room and my wish for him...

daily pep talk...

"WHAT I LOVE MOST about my HOME is WHO I SHARE it with."
-Tad Carpenter