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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Etsy Pick of the Week: Vintage Metal Drawers

When I first saw this vintage metal drawer painted bright yellow, I just wanted to paint a room gray and place it in multiples on shelving. Then as I looked further into Etsy shop Hindsvik, I saw the other great primary colors they had as well and I just love how bright they are. You could place them just about anywhere in a room to add a pop of color. I think bright colors make people smile so add a pop of color to your rooms to put a smile on your face even when you least expect it. This shop also has lots of other cool vintage finds so check it out if you're looking for some treasures.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

18 Century Colonial Renovation: Part V

I am very excited to announce that the 18th Century Colonial Renovation we've been following finally has walls! It has been a long haul since this project was started last October and I think there is quite a bit of relief in knowing that they are finally are in the home stretch. Back in October the goal for a move in date was by July 4th, and while it's clear that won't be the case, it's actually pretty impressive that these two people who work well over 40 hours a week, have a 3 year old and decided to tackle such a large project, doing so much of the work themselves, are not that far off track.
So a quick tour of the house so that we can now get a little bit better of an idea how the space is coming together. The kitchen (above) is a fabulous open space and the exposed beams add so much character and are so visually appealing. While it's typical for colonial paint colors to be a bit on the darker side, having a lighter color will make the beams really stand out. I am madly in love with the diagonal exposed beam in the dining room/library (top). It just looks fabulous and was the perfect divider for the ceiling which is higher in the dining room/library than it is in the pass through to the kitchen which allows for recessed lighting above the wet bar.

As you may recall, there was not a drop of insulation in this house prior to renovation so in order to add it, the windows (which had already been replaced prior to this) are now recessed a bit more than you would normally see, but I think once the molding is in, it will actually be a nice architectural element.

The master bedroom is a great size and features a walk in closet (on the left) and an attached bath (on the right).

This is bedroom number two.

The 2nd full bath is quite large and there is a fabulous antique vanity going in here.

The third bedroom is definitely on the smaller side, but it is still plenty big for a twin bed or futon.

This is the upstairs hallway outside the 2nd bathroom door facing towards the front of the house. I thought this space might be very dark, but it's actually plenty bright with the window at the end of the hallway, and you can see that there will be recessed lighting as well. Because the doors to the bedrooms and bathrooms are at either end of the hallway, these great big walls actually make the space seem much larger.

The attic space has also been transformed into great usable space with a long window seat from which you can see Newport Harbor as well as extra built in storage (the drawers on the left). Whenever you have empty space behind the walls, it's a great idea to add built ins for extra storage.

In other big news, the front steps have also been installed. It is traditional for colonial homes to have this double sided staircase at their entry, and many of them are brick with stone treads. Unfortunately, they also tend to be very expensive. To reduce costs, the decided to go with a cast concrete set of steps with a brick and stone facade which were installed by Flagg-Palmer Precast, and I have to say that you can barely tell the difference.
Now for the fun part, selecting colors and finishes!!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Easy Party Decorations

On Saturday night I had the pleasure of attending the Buttonwoods Park Zoo fundraiser, Wild Night at the Zoo. I was going to the event to support this fabulous little zoo in New Bedford, MA that I frequent with my children and also support my very good friend who is the executive director there. I had no intention of doing a story about it, but there were some very simple, fail proof party decor ideas that I thought you would all enjoy. That being said, I apologize that the pictures aren't as clear as I'd like, but I only I had my iphone on me since I wasn't planning on taking pictures. The first thing that struck us (me and my highly critical counterparts) was the amazing plants! Famed horticulturalist David Haskell provided brilliant jasmine, butterfly bush, agapanthus and more planted in oversized pots at the entry and along the paths and tent.
This burlap fabric hung with metal clips and wrapped with raffia is so simple it seems like an obvious thing to do, but we often over complicate things and miss the beauty in simplicity. While it was used here for a safari theme, it could easily work for a beach or harvest theme too. And you could add a little more interest by using shells or fruits tied in with the raffia.
It seems that flag banners are all the rage these days, but if you are like me, you hate buying something that you'll only use once or twice a year, and while I've even contemplated sewing one for my daughter's room for a more permant installation, I just can't seem to bring myself to do it because it seems like such a big task. I thought this DIY flag banner was brilliant. Simply fold napkins over a string and use clothespins to secure them. Wouldn't this be adorable with red, white, and blue patterned napkins for your July 4th cookout?

Besides these great ideas, the Wild Night at the Zoo was a great event. I don't know what other event out there has two asian elephants as their official greeters when you walk in the door. Getting to pet them and get a picture with them was worth the price of admission alone. It was a fabulous night to enjoy great food, drink and music surrounded by the wonderful creatures who call it home. If you love in the area, mark your calendars for next year!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The New traditionalists

I just about died yesterday when I was reading the Elements of Style Blog and saw her post on this new furniture company, The New traditionalists. And the more I looked, the more I swooned over each and every piece. They say, "If you believe that "traditional" and "cool" are not mutually exclusive, you are one of the new traditionalists." Call me whatever you want, I just want this stuff! Here are a few, and I mean really only a few, of my favorites. Chair No. One Eighty
Armoire No. Sixty Four
Side Table No. Seven
Sofa No. Twenty Two
Regency Crib
This crib makes me want to have another baby! Seriously, navy blue lacquer-could there be anything better? Oh yeah, the kelly green lacquer! And just to make this furniture even more amazing, it is all designed in Brooklyn, manufactured in New England and built with the environment in mind. I am one very excited "new traditionalist".

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Etsy Pick of the Week: Shell Mirror

I am a complete beachaholic. Admitting it is the first step, right? I could literally spend all day, every day at the beach and never get bored with it, and because I've grown up on the rocky and beachy coastline of Rhode Island, I've got a pretty good collection of shells and seaglass. Naturally, it would make sense for me to incorporate some aspects of the beach into my home and I know a lot of you would like to do the same. Sounds easy, right? Well, actually it is, but for some reason I constantly see people who love the beach crossing the line when bringing it into their homes. Sorry, but flip flop coasters are not the way to do it. If you happen to have them, it's not too late. Just slowly go pick them up and bring them to your closest trash can. I think the best way to do it and still be completely chic is to just pick one bold piece such as a shell mirror- the bigger the better- like this one from Etsy shop Beach Grass Cottage. The nice thing about this shop is that they has a variety of sizes and shapes available and can make it to order. They also have a variety of colors and shells available, but I would suggest sticking to all white for a more sophisticated look. It would look great over a nice entry table in a foyer that isn't too cluttered. If you want to display those treasures from your beach jaunts find a few nice glass jars where you can put them. You also can't go wrong by adding a few large scale shells like starfish or coral branches to your decor, but just remember to keep it simple and you can have a very chic but beachy space.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vintage Printable

I am always drawn to vintage style botanical and curiosity prints, but they are generally a bit of an investment. However, now you can get the look for a lot less, at least on a small scale. Vintage Printable is a web site where you can download and print vintage images mostly from rare books whose copyrights have lapsed as well as newer images uploaded by their artists that are available for free. There are images of just about every plant and animal species you can imagine and a whole lot of other topics as well. Here are a few of my favorites.

Keep in mind that you'll only be able to print them to about an 8" x 10" size or else the quality of the image will not be very good. Also, some of the images are much better quality than others to begin with so you'll want to look carefully at each one as your making your selections. But these would be great in a series of 4 or 6 prints on a wall or if you just need something small to fill an empty spot on a wall in a bathroom, bedroom or hallway then this is a great, inexpensive option to get the look of something more expensive.

Monday, June 21, 2010

PS Maskros

I was walking down Bellevue Avenue last week when I noticed the very cool light fixtures in one of the new shops in town. Much to my surprise, I then saw them featured on one of the blogs I follow (although I cannot seem to remember which one) and that they were from Ikea. While the flower shade makes it fun, at 32" in diameter, it is the size of the fixture that really makes the PS Maskros Pendant Lamp stand out. I would love to see it in a girl's room against fuschia or turquoise walls hanging centered over the bed or even having one on either side of the bed over night tables. And at only $89.99 it makes a big statement without a big hit to your wallet.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Etsy Pick of the Week: Rubbish Rehab Chair

As far as I can tell, the only problem with this chair is that there is only one of them! As you know, I love revamped furniture and that's exactly what Etsy store Rubbish Rehab does. I must admit that it's probably the fabric, which is Thomas Paul for Duralee, that really sells this chair for me. But I think it would be a perfect desk chair or extra chair tucked into a corner of a living room or bedroom. The store sells smaller objects as well and as their motto goes "Everything deserves a second chance."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

First Harvest

For a few weeks now, we've had ripe strawberries in our garden, but the birds seem to be getting to them quicker than we do, at least until now. The garden has filled in so much in the past week that the bright red berries are hidden and don't seem to be catching the eye of the birds as much. So this morning my son and I went out to see what we could gather for our first harvest of the year and we found a half dozen strawberries and 3 heads of broccoli ready for picking with several more of both that will be ready any day. I am surprised my children haven't turned into berries with the amount of them that they eat so his excitement over the strawberries was not very surprising. However, usually when I mention the word broccoli his immediate response is "I don't like broccoli. It's too yucky for me." But today I heard, "I'm going to just try the broccoli." It's amazing how much more connected we become to our food no matter what our age when we plant it, nurture it and pick it ourselves at just the right time.

If you've been thinking about planting a vegetable or herb garden, but just haven't found the time, or you want to get your children to eat more fruits an d vegetable, it's not too late. You can even plant in pots, and a lot of garden centers have herb gardens already planted in pots that you can buy ready to go. Whether you do one tomato plant or a full scale garden, you will not be sorry. My garden is looking better than ever this year so I think it's going to be a good year. Our first harvest may have been small, but I know there is lots more to come. Happy planting!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Firetruck Birthday Party

Wow, I can hardly believe it, but this is my 100th post! Thank you all so much for your support in this new venture. And lucky for me, I didn't have to search endlessly for the perfect topic for this post because my son's 4th birthday party was yesterday, and as promised last week here are the photos of his firetruck themed party. So clearly, I am no Amy Atlas, but I think my dessert table turned out pretty well. I made the same 3D firetruck cake that I made last year (with some decorating modifications), and despite the fact that I was certain my cake decorating skills had improved, it looked almost identical. Oh well. I did find one thing that made it easier though and that is the new Cake Graffiti by Duff from the Food Network show Ace of Cakes which I found at Michaels. Last year I used red food coloring and it was a mess so this was much easier. However, I used buttercream frosting and it was really humid so next time (if there is one) I might have to try fondant.
Something funny happens when you live on an island (even one with 3 bridges to get off of it) which is that you think it's a huge deal to leave the island to get something you need. Last week my son requested that we have a pinata for his party, but there isn't a store on the island that sells them so instead of driving half an hour off island, I decided I would spend hours making one. Luckily, I found some pretty easy directions online to make a firetruck pinata. The only issues I ran into were that it took a long time to dry and even though I tried to make it thin since the kids were young, it would NOT break open so I ended up having to tear it open, but the kids still had a great time with it.
And lastly, the goody bags. I used the personalized firetruck image that I created and showed you last week and just printed them out 10 to a page and cut and pasted them onto the goody bags. Between the cake and the candy, my husband thought we might not have any friends left today with everyone having to get their kids down off the sugar high. Lucky for us, ours crashed at 6:30 last night. And hey, you only turn 4 once, right? Happy Birthday T!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Message Center

I still have some touching up to do, but I wanted to share my new kitchen message center with you all. This is another one of those vast walls like the one where I just did the Family Photo Gallery Wall which I've had a hard time figuring out what to put here. I wanted to do a giant chalkboard, but because it's such a large space I thought it might look like a black hole. I also knew that I wanted to have my wooden whale that my husband had a woodworker friend of ours make for me years ago hang on this wall. So I decided that I would do a series of frames with a variety surfaces in them that we could use to keep our family organized and then hang them like a gallery wall.
I had been looking for inexpensive frames for a while and finally found some that I could use at a tag sale a few weeks ago. I think the 4 frames cost me all of $6 plus the cans of spray primer and paint I bought to paint them. I went to Home Depot to buy chalkboard paint and was pleasantly surprised to find that you can now get Rustoleum Chalkboard Paint tinted to 12 different colors. It seemed wrong to not take advantage of this and so I had mine tinted to chocolate brown which works nicely with the barn red color of my kitchen. I was also going to pick up a can of magnetic primer so that I could make the chalkboard magnetic when I saw that they had Rustoleum Dry Erase Paint! The man told me it was a brand new item and seeing as I had just done a post on IdeaPaint last week, I couldn't help myself and had to try it. And since both the magnetic primer and the dry erase paint were about $20 per can, and I was trying to keep it inexpensive I nixed the magnetic primer. I bought a piece of MDF that my husband cut to fit each frame and painted onto those instead of directly onto the wall. This worked fine for the chalkboard paint and the dry erase paint took fine to it, but I think the next time I would use a piece of plexiglass or something smoother for a better finish for the dry erase paint. The cork came from an old corkboard that my husband cut down to fit the frame, but you can also buy sheets of it at most superstores. I may end up rearranging it a little bit. I feel like it's a little crowded and maybe a little too low, but I also wanted my kids to be able to reach it so for now I'm going to live with it like this for a while. Overall, I'm quite happy with how it turned out.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sneak Peak: Firetruck Birthday Party

This Sunday is my son's 4th birthday party, and much to my dismay he has requested a repeat of all things fireman, firetruck, firehouse like we did last year. Last year I set the bar a little too high by building a 3D firetruck cake and so it looks like I am going to be tackling the same project again this year. Of course, I actually believe that my cake decorating skills have gotten a lot better (because of the one other cake I baked for my daughter's first birthday party) so I am now expecting this year's firetruck cake to be lightyears better than last year's cake. Oh, and he wants cupcakes too, of course. I've also starting following some blogs of event planners and dessert tables seem to be the big thing right now so since we've just invited everyone for cake and ice cream, I thought I'd give one a try. So far, I've created the little firetruck logo (above) that I'm going to use on the displays and favors. Yup, that's as far as I've gotten and the party is a mere 3 days I thought I'd look for a little more inspiration.
There is little doubt that the queen or master or designer extraordinaire of dessert tables is Manhattan based designer Amy Atlas of Amy Atlas Events. I love the bright colors of her candy shop themed table above.

Another event planner who is making waves in the dessert table arena is Kim Stoegbauer of TomKat Studio who also happens to have an Etsy shop where she sells downloadable invitations, cupcake picks, and more. Above is her Fairy Garden Theme table.

And lastly, but certainly not least, is the adorable Pink Tricycle theme party by Stephanie Frazier Grimm of Couture Parties. Stephanie also gives you a head start by selling Get the Party Started Packs in 14 different themes which include plates, cups, silverware, favor bags and cupcake picks in whatever theme you choose.
Since I always insist on making things as difficult as possible for myself, I will be starting from scratch in coming up with a way to make my dessert table presentable. There is a pretty good chance that it won't hold a candle to any of these ones, but my son will still think it's pretty cool. Check back Monday to see how it comes out.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Etsy Pick of the Week: Bubbles and Boo Storage Baskets

Despite the fact that my goal for 2010 is to get my house (well, maybe my life in general) organized and I do get excited with each step of progress, most organizers aren't exactly exciting visually. Luckily I just found the storage baskets of Etsy shop Bubbles and Boo.
I love the modern prints of the lemons (top) and the elephants (below), and completely appreciate the simplicity of the linen basket (above) as well. And in addition to the great feature prints, the designer adds an unexpected pop of color with a contrasting print trim.
These would be so great as the storage baskets in an Ikea White Expedit Bookcase or anything similar instead of some boring solid colored basket. Wouldn't they just put a smile on your face every time you walked into the room? Who knew organizing could be so much fun?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

China Seas Outdoor Fabric

Tis the season to move your living space outdoors, but no need to rough it. I am head over heels for all of the China Seas Suncloth fabrics for outside (they are available as interior fabric as well). With so many choices of pattern and color, it is hard to choose my favorites, but here are just a few.
New Batik

Conga Line

Ziggurat Reverse

Double Cross

Island Ikat

Lysette Reverse

Whether you are looking for a few throw pillows, outdoor curtains or chair cushions, you will certainly find something you love in the collection. And even though these patterns are available in interior weight fabrics, don't forget that outdoor fabrics are great for interiors if you have kids, pets, or just want something really durable. Beautiful long lasting fabrics...doesn't get much better than that.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Family Photo Gallery Wall

I was so ridiculously excited yesterday when we FINALLY hung the photos behind our couch. This has been VERY long process in picking out what to put in this 8' wide by 6' tall space behind our 9' long couch. I have a basement full of photos and artwork, but none of them seemed right and so for the past 3 years I have agonized over what I could put here that would achieve the look I wanted and fit my budget. I have contemplated everything from a giant canvas to a decorative iron grate but kept coming back to wanting a series of square frames. Then last November we had a great set of family photos done by Maaike Bernstrom Photography so I decided I definitely wanted to use those and create a gallery wall. I found the Lee Gallery Frames in an oversized 8 x 10 at Pottery Barn which I loved, but at $129 apiece and since I would need 6 of them, that idea was quickly dropped by this unemployed blogger. Then, to my surprise, I found the Ribba frame at Ikea which at about 20" square was only slightly smaller and way less expensive. I was able to get all 6 frames for less than the cost of one of the Pottery Barn ones. Score!

Oh, but not so fast (I bought them last November). Now I had two new issues, the first being that the opening of the picture mat was 12" x 12". This is only a problem because it is nearly impossible to get a photo to fit this size. Your options are 11" x 14" or 16" x 20" so you will be just a tad too short or quite a bit too large even if you zoom out and trim down. I decided that since I liked the square thing I had going on that I would have 8" x 10" photos printed and then trim them down to 8" x 8". Great, right?

Problem number two, I now needed to find an additional mat to make up for the gap between the 12" x 12" mat and the 8" x 8" picture. I didn't want to use anything white because the mat was already white and I needed something that would match my wall color which is Ocean Air by Benjamin Moore. I looked at everything from different colored papers, fabrics, wallpaper and more, but nothing seemed right. I thought about having pieces of mirror custom cut to fit the frames which I actually think would have been very cool, but the thought of bringing two toddlers into the glass shop with me was daunting, and now I think it probably would have looked a little more formal than the rest of our house is these days. And then it hit me, I had nautical charts sitting in a closet waiting to be wallpapered onto my downstairs bathroom wall, but that project wasn't ready to be done. The blues in the charts would pick up the wall color perfectly and the charts would add more interest to the frames while still being subtle enough not to compete with the photos. Plus, the charts are of Rhode Island and include a lot of the beaches and bays that are near and dear to our hearts. I am completely thrilled with the result! Now I am on a roll and am doing another gallery wall message center in my kitchen which I hope to share with you by the end of the week.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Jonathan Adler Junior

Back at the beginning of 2010 I just about jumped out of my own skin with excitement when I heard about the new Jonathan Adler Junior Collection. Well at last it is starting to become available. I mean a junior version of the Lampert Sofa? Yes please! I might actually start to look forward to seeing my kids' stuff scattered about the house if it looked like this.
This Junior Letter Pillow would be just perfect for my little Carolina's room. And here are a few of my other favorites too. Lion Rug

Sun Wallpaper

Giraffe Wall Sconce

Some of the items have actually been in his collection for a while, but they are perfect for kids and that's what makes his stuff so wonderful. You can buy it now and they can still use it for years and years to come. A perfect balance of modern and traditional. I say these are my favorites, but really I'd like one of everything. Actually, better make it two!