Second Tuesday Art Walk #3

My niece is learning to talk.  Her vocabulary is constantly expanding, but at the moment she is an expert at getting her point across with just a word or two.

For example, when I saw her the other day she cautioned me, in her sweet little voice, “Careful.  Heavy.”  I knew immediately that she was talking about fall decor.

She was trying to remind me that many things we use in fall decor can look heavy to the eye.  Pumpkins, sunflowers, hay bales, mums, hydrangeas:  They can all look bulky.  So I needed to be careful or I could cross that fine line between festive and foolish. 

Then she gave me a look that said “And get a move on, Auntie, it’s already October!”

Our little chat helped me choose this month’s theme:

Elegant Fall Decor

This year, I’m in the mood for something fun yet elegant.  This is what I found for inspiration.

Corn Stalk Wreath

Here corn stalks have been deconstructed and made into a whimsical wreath that would look good on any door.

Photo by Hymns & Verses

French Country Dining Room

Oui merci.  White pumpkins, candles, and hydrangeas give a relaxed, rustic vibe to this French-inspired dining room.  The simple linen tablecloth keeps the look balanced.

Photo by So Much Better With Age

Pumpkin Vignette

If the pumpkins below had been placed on a heavier table, the look might be clunky.  But by using a skinny metal table that blends with the wall behind it, we have a vignette that is airy yet still sets a fall mood.

Photo by Laurey Glenn Photography

 

Fall Porches

I found two gorgeous porches that offer endless inspiration.  I’m sharing one photo of each, but I encourage you to click through the links to see so much more.

  • Balanced Entry

White mums?  What a great idea.  Symmetry and a muted color palette keep this entrance tasteful.

Photo by Little White House Blog.

 

  • Rustic Lighting and Natural Materials

With the days getting shorter, its a fun idea to add a little extra lighting to a covered porch.  Swap the white pumpkins for other seasonal ornaments and this look will work for months.

Photo by Vin’yet Etc

Grassy Centerpiece

This gorgeous centerpiece uses grasses, fall wildflowers, and long-lasting greens.

I love how the grasses capture the natural light and add a soft texture to the arrangement.

Photo by Anna Shackleford

Little Details

It’s fun to combine tried-and-true pieces of fall decor with new items – or to put a new spin on the tried and true.

  • Faux Olive Branches

Kathy at A Delightsome Life has two tutorials for making these beautiful faux olive branches.  They are an airy complement to heavier fall decor.

Photo by A Delightsome Life

 

  • Gleaming Mini-Pumpkins

Seems I always have to go off in a different direction.  White pumpkins have been so popular, but last year I painted mini-pumpkins for a warm, metallic look that would last through Thanksgiving.  These were fun to scatter around my living room and use in table decor.

My Crocosmia Crush

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And I found inspiration from my most reliable source:  Mom.  Her crocosmia plants had multiplied over the past summer so she had to remove some.

Crocosmia seed heads are a nice accent in floral arrangements.  She offered me a handful of the plants she’d pulled out of the ground so I could use the seed heads.  The bulbs were still attached.

The bulbs and roots looked so interesting that I decided to use the whole plant as decor.

 

It was simple:  I filled a shallow clay pot with floral foam and then covered the foam with forest moss.  I inserted a small bamboo garden stake in the middle and then secured the crocosmia stalks to it with garden twine.

I love the look of the bulbs and winding roots.

I used some seed heads elsewhere.

Featured Etsy Artist

Fabric pumpkins are everywhere this year.  Some are better than others.

To me, these needle-felted pumpkins by ForestFindsbyCassidy look like tiny works of art.


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A Luxury Rug Pad for a Bargain Rug: Why It’s a Good Idea

You wouldn’t expect a piece of fitness equipment to come with an unhealthy odor but, a while back, I bought a new yoga mat that had such a strong chemical smell that I had to return it.

So when RugPadUSA.com asked me to review one of their eco-friendly rug pads, I thought it would be an interesting experiment.

Of course, to keep my review as accurate and impartial as possible, it was essential to shop for a new area rug to go with the new rug pad.  A sacrifice, I know, but one that I was willing to make for the sake of journalism.

The rug and pad would be going in the room where we do our morning yoga stretches. Because of the yoga, Will at RugPadUSA.com suggested I try the Superior Lock 1/4″ rug pad.  It has a natural rubber backing to keep the rug in place and a recycled felt core for comfort.

So let’s talk a little about my new rug and rug pad.

The Rug

I only buy inexpensive rugs because my cat, Priscilla, won’t let me have anything nice.  If you have a pet, I’m sure you can relate.

So I fell in love with a rug that I found at Ross.  At $49 for a 5 X 7 rug, it was a bargain.

Years ago, when I was on a budget and buying wall-to-wall carpeting for a basement, someone told me that it was okay for me to buy inexpensive carpeting as long as I upgraded the pad – because an upgraded pad would help the carpet wear better.

So I am going on the assumption that the same would apply to an area rug and a rug pad.

 

The Rug Pad

The Superior Lock 1/4″ rug pad arrived quickly and with minimal packaging.  And no chemical odor.  In fact, no smell at all that I could detect.

Rug pads are really nothing to look at, but I think this one, with its felt core, has the look of quality.

Superior Lock 1/4″ Rug Pad

So far, my experience with the rug pad has been positive.

Pros

  • No chemical smell.  And actually I learned that many rug pads sold in the big-box stores are made with PVC or plastic and could contain toxins.  The materials and chemicals in these rug pads could also harm floors and rugs.  Which leads me to:
  • My rug pad is made of natural rubber and recycled felt.  So it should not harm the floor, the rug, Priscilla, or her humans.
  • The pad is the exact dimension I need for the rug.  RugPadUSA.com custom cuts the pads at no additional cost.
  • When I do yoga stretches on the rug, the pad keeps it securely in place on the hardwood floors.
  • I feel that the thickness of the pad makes my bargain rug look and feel luxurious.
  • The rug pad has a 20-year warranty.
  • And it was made in the U.S.A.

Cons

  • The inevitable has happened.  The rug and pad have attracted the riff raff.

Actually, I can’t think of any disadvantage to this rug pad.  In my opinion, and for my needs, it’s a keeper.

 

A warm thank you to RugPadUSA.com for sponsoring this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.

 


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Summer’s Last Dinner Party

Note:  I’m still redecorating My Sweet Cottage, so please pardon the dust!

Recently, we decided to invite a few friends over for dinner. We wanted to have one last party on our back patio before the weather changed.

But we didn’t stop to think about how early the sun goes down this late in summer.  The patio sits in the far corner of the garden, and there is no lighting there.  So once it got dark, candles alone would not be enough.  We had to set something up – quickly.

Desperation Lighting

If done right, outdoor lighting can be gorgeous.  I was inspired by the magical, romantic lighting at the garden concert we attended earlier in the summer.

The Nick Drummond Band during their “Under the Stars” concert.

But of course we didn’t have time for anything that elaborate. At this point, all I could hope for was lighting that was adequate but not glaring.

I had a strand of Edison-style filament bulbs that I use during the holidays.  We attached one end of the strand to a long bamboo pole. The pole was then anchored to a tree.

We ran the lights above the table.  On the other end, we attached the strand to a tree branch because that was our only option.

It wasn’t elegant, but it would get us through the night.

Heat

Once the sun goes down, so does the temperature.  So we made sure we had plenty of fuel for our heat lamp.

I momentarily considered setting out some blankets in case anyone got cold, but with the heat lamp it really wasn’t necessary.

Bug-Proofing

I used all the little bug-proofing tricks that I shared in this previous post.

The citronella centerpiece took me about 10 minutes to put together.  I set a tall glass candle holder in the center of a small clay saucer, filled the saucer with water, and added some leafy twigs from the garden.

It was compact enough for the small round table.  Flowers would have attracted bees, which is why I used only the fresh twigs to add some interest.

Little Touches

No matter how hard I try, by late summer my garden looks like an overgrown monster.  I used to let this keep me from entertaining, but I’ve come to realize that no one really minds the monster but me.

Still it’s nice to create a diversion.  Chris set up his mid-century bar across from the patio.  This was where the party would start.

 

I tossed a few blossoms into the bird bath,

Tucked a few citronella candles around the patio,

And we set up our iPod player for music.

As neglected as it was, the patio still had some charm.

 

 

Goodbye to Summer

Everything worked out.

Photo by Loralee Wenger

We were warm, the bugs stayed away, and we could see each other.

It’s raining today.  We really needed the rain, and I hear it’s going to stick around for a while.

But at least we enjoyed the last warm day of summer.

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We used the Vickerman lights, which I love.  However the bulbs are glass, not plastic, and the filaments are delicate.   The globe string lights are perhaps sturdier, although I haven’t tried them. The heat lamp is very similar to ours.

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Second Tuesday Art Walk #2

It’s time again for Second Tuesday Art Walk.  The Art Walk is a relatively new feature to my blog, and it won’t always have a theme. But this month I realized that I developed a theme without even trying.

And it is . . .

Attainable Beauty

I love browsing home decor magazines to find inspiration and to dream.  Everything looks so perfect – and so effortless.

But in the real world, most of us have to face a few challenges when we want to improve our homes.  Budgets, time constraints, a lack of help, having to compromise with family members, or simply the fear of trying something new:  These are all speed bumps that can slow down a great idea – or stop it in its tracks.

So here today are some gorgeous but realistic projects – and some inspiration – for those of us out here in the real world.

Let’s get started!

Weekend Bathroom Update

Do you have a room in your house that you’ve been meaning to remodel but the time has never been right?  Meg got tired of waiting for a full remodel of her small bathroom so she decided to do a weekend update.

What a difference a weekend can make.

Photo courtesy of hello farmhouse

Be sure to check out the before photo.

Transforming an Old Kitchen Cabinet

Rachel spent $15 on a salvage shop cabinet and turned it into a darling little desk for her daughter.

Photo courtesy of Shades of Blue Interiors

The top opens for more storage space.

 

Board and Batten Mudroom Walls

Why make a project any harder than it has to be?  Lindsey found an easy way to get the classic board-and-batten look she wanted for her mudroom walls – and she did it all herself.

Photo courtesy of repurpose and upcycle

Lindsey’s project reminds me of this beautiful dining room remodel.

Stunning Breakfast Nook Update

Kathryn transformed her average-looking breakfast nook into something that belongs in Better Homes & Gardens.  It’s so fresh and elegant.  And that high-end wallpaper?  It’s actually stencilling!

Photo courtesy of The Dedicated House

 

BurkeDecor.com

Something New For Fall

Sometimes it’s fun to toss convention aside and try something new.

Kerryanne’s charming new fall designs feature a soft pastel color palette.  It’s a fresh take on fall decor – and so gorgeous!

Image courtesy of Shabby Art Boutique

These colors make for a graceful transition from summer to fall.

Kerryanne is also offering a lovely free printable from her fall collection!

Save Your Allium Seed Heads

Last Christmas, my friend Loralee gave me this sweet little bit of holiday cheer.

To make this, she used some things she had on hand:  A small clay pot, foil wrap, and a dried allium seed head.

What a fun hostess gift!  And it got me thinking about the endless possibilities for holiday decor using allium seed heads.

So this summer I looked for them.  I only found one allium seed head in my own garden.  But what a beauty it is – like a firework frozen in time.

And recently a very nice neighbor gave me all of her allium seed heads.  She had a fun variety.

How would you use these in holiday decor?  I’m just starting to come up with ideas, but I’ll be sharing my creations with you, successful or not, later in the fall.

 

Tips for Hanging Wall Art

My husband Chris is almost a foot taller than me, so we don’t always see eye to eye on where art should be placed on a wall.

Hanging art on a wall correctly is an art in itself.  So here to help us today is invaluable’s “How to Hang a Picture” step-by-step guide.

Photo courtesy of invaluable

About the Featured Photo

So about that clock in the featured photo:  Don’t you just love it when you find the right thing by accident?

Recently Chris reorganized his basement workshop.  He was getting rid of some things and brought a mid century clock upstairs to see if it was still working.

I didn’t even know he had this clock.  He has very early memories of it from his childhood.  I cleaned it up a bit and propped it in our laundry room, on the counter, just to get it out of the way.

Then I realized it looked great there.

You’ll see it for yourself, along with (finally!) our laundry room remodel before and after photos, in a post soon.

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Second Tuesday Art Walk #1

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Welcome to “Second Tuesday Art Walk,” my new feature that comes out on the second Tuesday of every month.  After all, who can’t use a little beauty on a Tuesday?

And it will always be the second Tuesday because – well, actually I don’t remember the reason now.  But here we are.

In no rational order, we’ll be looking at interior design inspiration, fun little discoveries, and things I’m obsessed with.  You can click through the links to learn more about anything you see here.

So grab a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine, and let’s begin.

Gorgeous, Breezy Enclosed Porch

August always has me planning ways to extend summer fun.  That would be a lot easier if I had Ashley’s gorgeous outdoor room.

I especially love those crisp, airy curtains.  Perfect!

Photo courtesy of The Houston House
Charming Repurposed Clothing Projects

Who needs the fabric store if you have old clothes on hand?

SuzerSpace’s sweet DIY purse has me sifting through my husband’s closet to see which shirt he “doesn’t need” anymore.

Photo courtesy of SuzerSpace

Mary over at In The Boondocks also has a talent for repurposing old clothes.  Actually, she’s amazing at repurposing anything.

Here is what she did with an old denim dress and a beach find.

Photo courtesy of In the Boondocks

And I love what she made from an old milk crate and an old blouse.

Beautiful Built-in Sleeping Nook

Sloped ceilings can add so much character to a room.  But they can also be challenging to work with.

Tricia really made the most of her little A-shaped dormer space with this DIY built-in bed.  I love everything about this.  Be sure to check out her before photos!

Photo courtesy of Simplicity in the South

Dream Trailer

Mandi calls her trailer, The Nugget, “the cutest vintage trailer on the internet.”  And I can’t argue with that.

Check out The Nugget’s Reveal and you’ll fall in love too.  The interior photos start about halfway through the post, and there are a lot of charming details to see here.  My favorite little detail is the kitchen faucet.

 

Photo courtesy of VR Vintage Revivals
Trending Color

Looks like brown is making a strong comeback.  In fact, Country Living is saying that brown is the new black.

Shutterfly has come out with their 75 Enchanting Brown Living Room Ideas.  And one of them features my living room!

Image courtesy of Shutterfly

Shutterfly’s post has some great examples of how brown can bring warmth and balance to a room.  And there’s lots of inspiration for integrating brown into existing decor.

Unexpected Discovery

Recently we took a road trip along the beautiful Oregon Coast.

While antiquing in the small towns there, we found these old cobbler shoe forms for children’s shoes – complete with worm holes.  

The smallest one measures only five inches.  Adorable.

Our laundry room remodel is almost compete, and these little guys will be cute in there grouped with the shoe care supplies.

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I’m intrigued by vintage children’s shoe forms now.  The varying sizes make them so fun for decorating.

 

Beauty on Sale

Yes, beauty in the form of luxury furniture and accessories!

One King’s Lane has reached out to let me know about their Labor Day sale from 8/31/17 – 9/5/17, when they are offering a site-wide discount of 20%!  And on Monday only, 9/4, they are offering free shipping in addition to the sale.  Just use the code “OKLSHIPSEPT”. Prices on all eligible items will be as marked, and some exclusions apply.

Enjoy the Summer!

Now I’m off to take a late-summer blogging break, but let’s meet back here on the second Tuesday in September.  Thanks so much for visiting today, and enjoy your summer!

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What’s Hiding Under the Countertop

This post could also be called “How To Not Build Yourself Into a Corner.”  If you’ve been following along with me for a while, you know that my husband Chris and I, along with help from my brother Dan, have been remodeling our laundry room.  (You can find all my previous posts about this remodel at the end of this post.)

The Quartz Countertop

It’s taken us a while to get this far, but we’re close to being finished.   The quartz countertop was installed about a week ago.

Laundry Room appliance wall

I wanted the laundry room to be a mix of old world charm and modern efficiency, and I think the quartz works nicely in that theme.

Laundry Room appliance wall

And it’s practical for a laundry room since it’s said to be very stain-resistant.

Quartz countertop

Installation was not fun for the three men who maneuvered it into the 7′ X 7′ laundry room.

The countertop is 33 inches deep – deeper than a standard 25-inch  kitchen countertop. That extra depth made it hard for these poor guys to set it in place in such a small area.  Arms stretched to the max, all three men yelled and groaned as they carefully raised it!

Hopefully their backs recover.  And the countertop is beautiful.  But there’s a lot going on underneath its simple, clean look.

The Fantasy

Before we started the laundry room remodel, we thought long and hard about the configuration of the sink and appliances: We considered placing the washer and dryer side by side, topping them with a countertop, and placing the sink near the window.  Another practical and space-saving idea was to stack the washer and dryer.

But we tossed practicality aside and opted for the beauty of symmetry:  A sleek kitchen-style configuration with the sink and base cabinet in the middle, an appliance on either side, and a countertop over them running the width of the room.

And they would all live happily ever after.

The Reality

But the devil is in the details.  And in the real world, what goes in eventually must come out.  Appliances break. Pipes leak. Dryer vents need to be reconnected.  So it all needs to be accessible.

And our design called for the appliances to be trapped under a countertop and walled in on either side.

So to keep our little fantasy alive, we needed a plan.

The Plan

It was simple really.  We just had to make sure there was enough space around the appliances to be able to pull them out when (not if) we need to.

So Chris left about an inch of space between the top of the appliances and the frame he attached to the walls for the countertop to sit on.  And when we ordered the sink base, we purposely had it built about an inch taller than the appliances.

Laundry Room remodel

 

Laundry room remodel

Chris left roughly one-inch gaps between the sink base, the appliances, and the walls.  Now the appliances will (hopefully) be easy to remove and reinstall.

Laundry Room appliance wall

The appliances and sink base sit out from the wall several inches to make room for the dryer vent which runs behind them.  It’s nice because it gives us a deeper counter and more counter space.

laundry room remodel

But there is another advantage:  This gap behind the appliances made it possible for Chris to cut a small hatch in the back of the sink base so we can access the plumbing, an electrical outlet, the gas line, and the dryer vent when we need to.

A hatch cover conceals it.

laundry room remodel

Across the Room

The corner cabinet that Dan built us (drawer front coming soon)  also received a quartz countertop.

Laundry room corner cabinet

The countertops were definitely a splurge.  But they were worth it.  The professionals came over and measured, and their measurements were spot on.

I still marvel at the precise spacing between the countertop and the door frame.

And at the little cutout that is perfectly sized for the washer hoses.

Laundry room remodel

Coming Next

At the moment, Chris is installing the gorgeous Delta “Leland” faucet that I received compliments of Delta Faucets Canada.*

Delta Leland sink

I’m looking forward to using the single-handle control and pull-down sprayer on this faucet – and to having a built-in soap dispenser.

Our old utility sink did heavy duty for us.  We were always using it to clean brushes, tools, etc. after one project or another.  It will be so nice to have a utility sink again.

There are lots of little details to work on before this room is finished. But now it’s summer and the sun is shining.  And that last 10 percent of any remodel project is always the hardest.  But we’ll get there.

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* A warm thank you to Delta, a sponsor of Blogpodium 2015 – a Canadian-based lifestyle bloggers’ conference which I attended. Although I was an American blogger at a Canadian conference, I found lots of inspiration and ideas there.  Blogpodium 2017 is coming up in September in Toronto.


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Container Design on a Budget

I wasn’t sure why I grabbed my camera as I headed out the door yesterday to visit Mom.  I only knew that there is always something interesting going on in Mom’s garden, and it’s been too long since I took my readers over there.

If you’ve been with me a while, you’ve seen her exterior home makeover, her elevated walkway lights, and the update of her front garden.  And I’ve been promising for some time to share Mom’s gorgeous, quiet backyard sanctuary.  I still intend to make good on that promise.

But in this post, I’m focusing on her ever-beautiful garden containers – and sharing a few of Mom’s container gardening practices.

1.  Accessorize Sparingly

Containers are the jewelry of Mom’s garden.  And since she accessorizes sparingly, they are always well-placed, elegant, and never gaudy.

Hen and chicks in a small statuary urn.

They don’t overwhelm her garden, they enhance it.

2.  Use Commonly Found Container Plants

Her containers are a reminder that elegance doesn’t have to come at a high price.  She doesn’t go for exotic, pricey specialty plants.  She uses inexpensive, tried-and-true garden favorites like geraniums, begonias, lobelias, impatiens, and African daisies.  These all do well in our USDA garden zone 8B.

The base of a cracked birdbath became a pedestal for this container of geraniums and trailing lobelias.

These plants are popular for a reason:  Besides being reasonably priced and easy to find, most of them bloom all season long.

Mom plants her containers once in late spring, and they look beautiful well into fall.

This year I noticed a new monochromatic theme in some of her containers.

Some were simply planted with one plant.

But that simplicity allows us to fully appreciate the beauty of the featured plant – a Rieger begonia.

Or a cheerful African daisy.

3.  Use a Mix of Bargain Containers

Since Mom has an informal cottage garden, she doesn’t worry about making sure her containers match.  Like me, she has collected her containers over the years. Some were deeply discounted or garage sale finds, and a few she even got for free.  We both love the thrill of hunting for bargains – even when it comes to containers.

Things always seem to work out.  Mixing containers and moving them around gives her the freedom to experiment with different plant groupings every season.

She can enjoy the patina of a nicely weathered clay pot,

place a sweet hanging basket where a focal point is needed,

or go larger scale where she wants more impact.

A Corokia cotoneaster Raoul in a large frost-resistant container.

When it comes to containers, anything goes.

A vintage watering can hosts trailing periwinkle.

And an upturned saucer on a pedestal is home to a display of tiny succulents.

4.  Keep Plants Happy

For most common container annuals, it doesn’t take much to make sure they look good all season long.  Some simple care tips are:

  •  Consider sun exposure.  Place the plant where it gets the correct amount of light.  Check the plant’s tag  before you buy it to make sure it will be happy where you want to place it.
  • Water consistently.  Check the plant’s tag for water needs and combine it only with other plants that have the same water needs.
  • Fertilize regularly.  Most summer-blooming annuals need a little nourishment now and then to keep blooming all season long.
  • Deadhead regularly.   This works for many flowering annuals and perennials.  Don’t let blossoms go to seed.  Instead, pinch blooms off once they are spent so the plant puts its energy into developing new flowers.
  • Protect the plant from pests.  Slugs have been known to dine on impatiens, and aphids can sometimes plague a nasturtium. Luckily, with all the environmentally friendly pest control products out there these days, there is no need to use harmful chemicals to control pests.

5.  Be Patient with Imperfection

Some plants look beautiful even when they are winding down for the season.  This pansy is past its prime but still sweet.

In My Own Garden

In my own garden, I’ve been experimenting with coleus plants that I grew from seeds in my greenhouse.  Since slugs love them, I have been keeping my precious babies safe in containers.

But that is for another post.  My favorite container right now is on my front porch:  The begonia that thinks it’s a tree.

I’m way behind on my yard work this year, and my containers are really the only things bringing order to the chaos outside.  So now it’s time for me to sign off, get out there, and finally get to work.

Happy gardening, folks!

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  • I have found that summers are precious – too precious to spend time dragging a garden hose around, keeping it unkinked, and then spending time re-winding it.  So I’m really enjoying this self-retracting hose that my husband bought me last year.
  • Mom has many passions and talents, and writing is among them.  She currently has two books available on Amazon:  Year of the Angels, a touching historical fiction novel based on her childhood during WWII, and Cries from the Fifth Floor, a fun paranormal thriller/murder mystery.

 


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Lobsters, Lanterns, and Paul Revere

My husband Chris and I are pretty sensible people.  We tend to plan and think things through – usually.  But if you’ve ever read my About page, you know that our decision to buy our 1927 cottage was impulsive and driven by passion rather than reason.

And so was our recent trip back east.

It all happened because of Chris’s latest obsession:  Collecting and restoring vintage Coleman lanterns.

Turns out there’s a club for that – the International Coleman Collectors Club (or “ICCC”).  And just a few weeks ago, Chris found out that they were about to have their annual convention.  In Massachusetts.  A five hour flight for us.

Chris asked me if I’d go with him.

I booked our flights before he could change his mind.

But of course, I told him, we couldn’t go all that way just for the convention.  That would be silly.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to check a couple more things off my bucket list.

Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor

I feel so fortunate to live on the West Coast where we enjoy beautiful sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

The last rays of sun at Grayland Beach State Park in Washington State.

But I’m always curious about that “other” big ocean way across the country where the sun rises.  Maine in particular seemed so intriguing and romantic to me:  Rugged coastlines, old lighthouses, grizzled fishermen, colorful buoys – and Acadia National Park.

So as soon as our plane landed in Boston, we headed up the coast to the village of Bar Harbor, Maine.

Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, Maine

I didn’t really have time to research Bar Harbor before our trip.  I’d always pictured it as rustic and weathered:  Crusty fishermen wearing heavy wool sweaters and pulling lobster traps off their boats.

But it was more gentrified than that:  Lots of great shops and restaurants, and many intriguing lodging options.

Eventually I did find my colorful buoys.

Bar Harbor, Maine

The best part is that Bar Harbor is at the entrance to Acadia National Park.

As national parks go, Acadia is small.  But there’s a lot to see.  On our first day in the park, we enjoyed the rugged coastline.

We caught a glimpse of the remote Egg Island Lighthouse before a heavy blanket of fog moved in.

Egg Island Lighthouse, Maine

And watched water rush through Thunder Hole.

Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park, Maine

We took a murky hike to the summit of Gorham Mountain – all 525 feet.  We learned that these mountains were once much taller, but over the ages erosion has worn them down to their granite bases.

I liked that we got to experience the Maine fog, even if it meant missing the views.

The next day the sun came out, and we made up for lost time.

We hiked at Cadillac Mountain.

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

We explored the carriage roads and magnificent stone bridges at Logan Pond.  John D. Rockefeller, Jr had these roads and bridges built when he owned the land.

Carriage Road, Acadia National Park, Maine

Carriage Road Bridge, Acadia National Park, Maine

And we visited the Bass Harbor lighthouse.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse, Maine

This part of Maine smells so good.  Everywhere we went, we were either smelling the fresh ocean air or the fragrant balsam fir.

The L.L.Bean headquarters are a few hours south of Bar Harbor in Freeport, Maine.  There are several  L.L.Bean stores located there and, when we walked into the first one, there it was again:  That smell of balsam fir.  So I bought it to take home.

I’m looking forward to making sachets with the large bag of balsam fir needles.

We also found a drying rack for our laundry room at an antique store.  It’s still working its way across the country to its new home on the West Coast.

But it’s time to move on to the world of vintage lanterns.

All Things Coleman

We headed to rural, inland Massachusetts – to the tiny town of Winchendon.  Here, collectors of all things Coleman, but especially vintage lanterns, were having their annual convention at the senior center.

Now coming from the Pacific Northwest, where our architecture is relatively new, I imagined the senior center to be a dated one-story  building with dingy linoleum floors.

Here is what I found.

Old Murdock Senior Center

The Old Murdock Senior Center was built in the 1880s and was originally a public high school.

Old Murdock Senior Center

In the auditorium, Coleman collectors from around the world shared their treasures, their stories, and their knowledge.

Vintage Coleman

Vintage Coleman Lanterns

From the unusual to the rustic, it was all here.

Vintage Coleman Lanterns

One of the first Coleman lanterns: An Arc lantern, circa 1915.

We were newcomers to the club, and everyone was so welcoming. On the second evening, we joined them in a “light up” outside the senior center.  It was their way of honoring members who had passed – and it was beautiful.

Vintage Coleman Lanterns

Vintage Coleman Lanterns

But it was almost time to fly home, and we were only about an hour and a half from Boston.

Boston

We’d visited Boston before, and I just have to say that I love Boston. I love the architecture, the people, and most of all the history.  This is where it all began for the United States.

On our previous visit, we only saw the first part of Boston’s Freedom Trail.  So this time we started at Bunker Hill Monument and worked our way back to Paul Revere Square.

We toured the USS Constitution.  “Old Ironsides,” as they call her, is actually made of live oak.

UCC Constitution

Launched in 1797, she was the second battleship ever to be built for the U.S. Navy.  And she fought pirates.

USS Constitution

No trip to Boston is complete without a visit to a colonial-era graveyard.  We visited Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.  Some of the deceased buried here were born in the 1500s!

Colonial Graveyard, Boston

I loved the timing of our Boston visit:  Right before the 4th of July. There is no better reminder of what Independence Day is really about than touring the Old North Church, where the “one if by land, two if by sea” signal was sent from.

Old North Churck

And admiring a bronze statue of Paul Revere.

Paul Revere and St. Stephens Church

So, to my American readers, Happy Independence Day!

And liberty forever.

 

A cannon port on the USS Constitution

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  • Chris loves collecting vintage Coleman lanterns because he enjoys searching for them, and often the ones he finds are very affordable.  They don’ take up much space to store or display.  Etsy always seems to have a fun selection of all things Coleman.   Remember though that there is a lot to learn about safely lighting these lanterns.  Please use caution and do your research.
  • The drying rack I found at the antique store is probably not an antique.  But I love it because it’s expandable, and it has a shelf and pegs for more storage.  It look almost exactly like this one on Amazon.com.
  • The fragrance of balsam fir comes in many forms.  Now I wish I’d bought the adorable cabin incense burner.  I still might.

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Our Mudroom Before and After

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that we’ve been slowly refurbishing the smallest and most neglected room in our house – the mudroom.

Mudroom before

Little Room – Big Embarrassment

The mudroom had become an eyesore over the years. Which was unfortunate since it is the best way – the only way really –  to get out to the back patio where we sometimes have dinner parties.

So when we had people over, I was always tempted to stage some kind of distraction as they walked through the mudroom so they wouldn’t notice how dingy it was.  (“Oh, look out there! Is that an eagle?”)

Burkedecor.com is all new

The biggest challenge with the mudroom is that there are three doors and a large window in this 5′ X 7′ room.  So that really limits wall space.  In this room, we simply can’t do the cool storage lockers or vertical cabinets that look so great in other mudrooms.

Mudroom windows

But in 1927, when the house was built, no one was thinking about wall space in the mudroom because it wasn’t a mudroom then – it was a covered back porch.

The Makeover

Our mudroom makeover has taken months.  Since it’s next door to our laundry room, and they share the same concrete floor, we’ve been remodeling both rooms simultaneously.

Here is what’s been happening in the mudroom:

Floors

This all started back in January when we hired Kenji to refinish the scruffy concrete floors in both rooms.

He took the floors from this

old concrete floor

to this.

remodeled concrete floor

Repaint

The mudroom was in rough condition.  This corner was the worst part.

Southwest wall before new floor and new paint.

I painted the walls with Benjamin Moore Pale Oak.  For the trim, I used a white paint we’d had custom mixed to match our kitchen cabinets.  Since the mudroom  can be seen from the kitchen, this helps unify the spaces.

Southwest wall after paint

The ceiling, still beadboard from when the mudroom was the back porch, didn’t need repainting.  We kept the vintage parrot light here that matches the one we have in our kitchen.

Beadboard ceiling

Shelves

Now don’t laugh, but here is what was hanging on the wall near the back door before.

 

The large mirror/shelf was from Pottery Barn, and it was really something in its day.  But with wall space being such a premium in this room, a large mirror is the last thing we should have had taking up that space.

Plus the shelf above the mirror was so high that it wasn’t practical to store anything useful, so it became a catch-all for silly things.

We wanted to put shelving there instead, but we couldn’t find any ready-made shelves of the right dimension.

So Chris made these beautiful shelves.

Custom mudroom shelving

He bought a piece of fir, cut it to size, and used a router to soften the edges.  Then of course he sanded, stained, and finished the wood.

mudroom shelving

It was a fun little project, but I think the part he enjoyed the most was finding the antique shelf brackets on eBay.

antique brackets

We were very lucky, he says, that someone was selling four of them.

The wire baskets hold hats and gloves.  The shelves sit above a small shoe cabinet.  It all barely fits in the shallow space between the wall and the door.

 

Chris can display some of his vintage camping lanterns here.

1955 Coleman Lantern

The little shoe cabinet helped us solve a problem:

The Shoe Solution

Chris likes to keep most of his shoes in the mudroom near the door – which really makes sense.  But here is how our shoe situation was before.  Not good!

And, since I didn’t want to make things worse, I kept my shoes in the laundry room.

Notice too all the shopping bags stuffed into one cubby, and the basket for hats and gloves above that.  It was a little tower of clutter. And it left us nowhere to sit while putting on shoes.

So as our earliest mudroom project, we converted a little shelf unit that had been sitting by the back door into more shoe storage by adjusting its shelves.  Here is the post for that fun little project.

mudroom shoe storage

This freed up some space in and around the shoe bench.  I repainted the shoe bench and made a cushion.  Now we have somewhere to sit while putting on shoes.

Mudroom shoe bench

I got rid of the coat rack hanging above the bench since it looked terrible and we never used those jackets.  We use the shopping bags more, so I made a space for them instead.

So the area that looked like this

Mudroom before

now looks like this

Mudroom after

Something Missing

I do miss having a mirror in the room for that quick last look  before heading out, so I’ll find a space to hang a small mirror.  And then we’ll be done.

Clean and Simple

This little room is more functional now.  And it will stay this organized forever!

Just kidding.  Even I am not that delusional.

 

mudroom remodel

Behind the Door

Let’s open the laundry room door and take a quick look at the progress in there.

Since my last laundry room remodel update, we ordered a quartz countertop for the north wall where the appliances and sink will go.

And now we wait until mid-July for the installation.  In the meantime, we’ve been shopping for accessories including this stainless retractable clothesline, which I can’t wait to install.

But there is something new and exciting.  My brother, Dan, is building us a beautiful custom corner cabinet.

Custom corner cabinet

We wanted to get the most out of this tricky corner without taking up too much floor space.  This corner cabinet is our best option.  And there is no one better to build it than Dan, who has created some gorgeous built-ins for his own house.

It fits nicely under the window.  The drawer still needs to be installed, and it will have the same quartz countertop as the appliance wall.  But it’s already looking perfect for the space.

Materials for the cabinet cost almost nothing.  Dan used old plywood he’d salvaged from his kitchen remodel.  And I had two extra cabinet doors (for our new cabinets) left over from our own kitchen remodel. Luckily they were the right size for the corner cabinet.

So now the corner cabinet matches the sink base.  And both laundry room cabinets match our kitchen cabinets.

And my brother rocks.

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Garden Tips We Can Use Right Now

I’m almost afraid to say this but the rain has finally stopped – for now. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve had an unusually cold and wet spring. But now it seems that we’ve turned a corner.

We’ve even enjoyed dinners on our patio these past few nights. This got me thinking about some of my previous posts on gardening and outdoor entertaining.  A few of them contain information that we can use right now, so I thought I would share a little roundup.

A Peony Experiment

In my garden, the peonies are beginning to pop.  I love peonies as cut flowers, but when I bring them inside there are always a few earwigs and other unpleasant cooties hitching a ride.

Well there’s an easy way not only to avoid this but to time peonies to bloom indoors exactly when I want them to.  Check out A Peony Experiment to learn more.

Tomato Tips from Mr. B

This time of year always has me thinking about my old neighbor, Mr. B.  His tomato plants were legendary, and he taught me everything I know about raising tomatoes.  In Tomato Tips from Mr. B, I pass along his old-school advice.

Tomato Tips from Mr. B.

A (Mostly) Bug-Free Patio Party

In summer, we enjoy dinners on our back patio.  And it’s even more fun when friends or family can join us.  But nothing can ruin a dinner party faster than a few pesky insects.

In A (Mostly) Bug-Free Patio Party, I share a few tips that help keep bugs away.

Using Bold Colors for Garden Structures

One of my very first blog posts was about choosing bold colors for man-made garden structures.  My writing style has changed since I wrote it, and hopefully my photos are better now.  But I still feel the same way about using bold colors for the outdoors.

Whites and barely there colors are still popular indoor paint trends. But outdoors is a whole different story. In a lush garden, accents and small buildings can get lost if they are not given a strong color.

My post Go Bold and Have Fun with Garden Structures shares the color we chose for our little garden shed – and gives a tour of the interior.

Potting Bench

But that’s enough for today.  The sun is shining, and it’s time to get out there before the weather changes again!

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