Second Tuesday Art Walk #4

Small Handmade Gift Ideas

Hostess gifts, stocking stuffers, gifts for co-workers, hair stylists, and lunch buddies:  I always need small gift ideas around the holidays.

But I love the small gifts.  They are an opportunity to give something fun – something unique and handmade.

So in this Art Walk, we’ll be looking at a few DIY and artisan-made gifts.

Easy-To-Make DIY Gifts

For most people, this time of year is busy – too busy for elaborate DIY projects.  So I’m showing you a couple of my own simple projects and a couple of projects that I would love to try.

Fir Scented Sachet Ornaments

Last summer on our trip to Maine, I bought a bag of Balsam fir needles.  It smelled so wonderful – like a high-mountain hike.

Recently I made sachet ornaments using the fir needles as the filler.

Fir sachet ornaments: DIY gift idea

These ornaments are nice to hang on artificial trees to give them that “real tree” scent.

Fir sachet ornaments: DIY gift idea

And they can be bundled into gift packs.

Fir sachet ornaments: DIY gift idea

After Christmas, they can be tossed into closets, drawers, or chests to keep those smelling nice.

You can find the tutorial for making these at the end of this post.

Cute, Tiny Refrigerator Magnets

I’m in love with these adorable little magnets that Stephanie made.

Photo courtesy of Ingenious Inkling

Who wouldn’t want one (or several) of these?

This craft looks so fun and easy.  For the tutorial, click here.

Batik Dinner Napkins

Last year at a fabric store on Black Friday, I found cotton batik fabric quarters (aka “fat quarters”) for 75 cents each.

They measured 18 X 21 inches and the fabric was double sided – perfect for dinner napkins.

I bought an assortment and made a set of 8 eclectic dinner napkins.

And all I had to do was double-fold hem the edges (for how to sew a double-fold hem, see this post).

DIY Batik Dinner Napkins
Batik dinner napkins: A fun DIY gift.

What could be easier?  And the fabric was made in India, machine washable.

Rope Trivet

Jess made this elegant trivet from a clothesline rope.  The texture looks so luxurious.  Now I want to learn to crochet.

Photo courtesy of Make & Do Crew

For the tutorial, click here.

 

Artisan-Made Gifts

These handmade creations are on my list of small gift ideas for this year – although I worry that if I buy them I will want to keep them.

Disclosure:  Affiliate Links are used below.

Geometric Ornament

Elegant and contemporary, this handmade ornament by Waen would make an impressive hostess gift.

All Natural Spa Gift Set

I can think of a few people on my gift list who deserve a little pampering.  And I can feel good about giving this all natural beauty set by LittleFlowerSoapCo  because these products don’t contain palm oil.

But what I really love is that this set can be customized with several luxurious choices for the soap and the lip balm.

*If allergies or sensitivities are a concern, ask for and check the list of ingredients before purchasing.

Personalized Passport Cover

Yes, we have one in our family:  That person afflicted with wanderlust.  A personalized, embossed leather passport cover by ShopAlwaysRooney would be just the ticket for our world traveler.

Gourmet Sea Salts

This set of gourmet sea salts by purposedesign is nice for any foodie, but the presentation is handsome enough for the hard-to-shop-for men on my list – at least those who like to cook or grill.*

*If allergies or dietary restrictions are a concern, ask for and check the list of ingredients before purchasing.

Indoor Herb Garden Kit

Plants and seedlings – or even the promise of them coming soon – can brighten drab winter days.  This little seed kit by Mountainlilyfarm comes in a cute wooden berry basket, and the seeds are grown in the Ozark Mountains.

For the Crazy Cat Person

Until a few years ago, that crazy cat person would have been me.  Priscilla is now our only cat.  But for many years we had three cats – plus the occasional foster.

I wish I’d had this sign by BelvedereCollections then, since it would have answered the question that my friends and family were too polite to ask.

By the Way

Oh by the way, if you enjoy cheerful, fragrant paperwhites blooming indoors during the holidays, now is the time to start them from bulbs.

Check out my posts Growing Paperwhites for a Beautiful Holiday Centerpiece for the how-to and Start Paperwhites Now For the Holidays  for more paperwhite inspiration – and ideas for giving them as gifts.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only.


Sachet Ornament Tutorial

It was so easy to make these sachets.

Tools and materials:

  • Fabric cut into 4.5 inch squares (this is a great way to use up leftover fabric scraps)
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Pinking shears
  • Narrow fabric ribbon cut in 8-inch lengths
  • A bag of Balsam fir needles
  • A sewing machine
  • A tablespoon

How to Make:

  1. Good sides facing out, I sewed two fabric squares together on three sides, leaving 3/8″ seams.  I looped the ribbon and incorporated it into my stitching in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. So now I had a little fabric bag with a ribbon loop in one corner.  I scooped about three tablespoons of fir needles into the bag.
  3. Then I sewed up the top of the bag, again leaving a 3/8″ seam.
  4. Then I finished each edge with pinking shears.
Step 1 - sew two fabric squares together on three sides
Step 1
Step two: Fill the fabric pouch with fir needles
Step 2
Step three: sew the fourth seam
Step 3
Step 4: trim the edges using pinking shears
Step 4
Finished sachet
Voilà!



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A Blue and White Thanksgiving

For the past several years, my husband Chris and I hosted Thanksgiving in our tiny dining room.  We learned that the key is to be prepared.  We planned ahead, and we divided tasks.  Chris was a natural in the kitchen, and I clumsily muddled through as his sous chef.

But my favorite part of preparing was planning the table decor. So today I’m sharing my blue and white table from last year’s Thanksgiving dinner.

Denim Inspiration

Denim for a Thanksgiving tablecloth?  Why not.  Last year, I became obsessed with this denim fabric.  The pattern reminded me of a block print fabric from India.

Denim fabric, muslin fabric, and accent ribbon.

I got some white muslin to make napkins and some white and blue ribbon to continue the theme.

We all know that denim jeans can go anywhere.  It’s all how you put the look together.  And the same is true for a denim tablecloth.  I wanted a look for my table that was the equivalent of wearing jeans with heels and a tailored white blouse – elegant and classic.

Blue and white Thanksgiving table decor

A classic outfit deserves minimal but well-chosen accessories:

Gold painted leaves.

A DIY gold painted leaf

Blue and white serving pieces.

Blue and white serving pieces

Crystal and understated floral arrangements.

Blue and white Thanksgiving table decor

Blue and white Thanksgiving table decor

Thanksgiving table decor can be very elaborate –  but that never works for my tiny table.  It just means moving more things off the table to make way for the feast.

Small Table Solutions For Holiday Dinners

Last year, I published this post that shared some tricks and tips for hosting holiday dinners on a small table.  That post also shared a few of my previous Thanksgiving table looks.

Earth-toned Thanksgiving table decor

This year we will be dining in style in this gorgeous dining room.  Wherever your Thanksgiving takes you, I hope you have a wonderful one!

Post on this website are for entertainment only.


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Floral Design
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Our Laundry Room Remodel

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Our Laundry Room Reveal: Before and After Photos

It’s finally time!  Today I’m taking you on a tour of our completed laundry room remodel.

If you’re a regular visitor (hi, Mom), you know that this remodel has stretched on for months, and I’ve been writing posts as the project progressed.  If you’d like to get caught up on past posts about the remodel (which was done in conjunction with our mudroom refresh), here is the list:

And at the end of this post I’ve listed sources for, and information about, some of the products that we used in this remodel.

Let’s Begin!

The laundry room measures only 7′ X 7′, so our goal was to make the best use of the space without overloading the room.  The house was built in 1927, so I wanted the laundry room to be a mix of old world charm and modern efficiency.

Although my husband Chris and I came up with a detailed plan for the room, Chris did most of the actual work.  My brother Dan gave us the initial push we needed by brainstorming with us about how to bring the plan to reality.  Dan also helped to reroute and replace the plumbing – and later in this post you will see the beautiful built-in that he made for the room.

Okay, let’s walk in through the mudroom.

The North Wall

Now we’re inside, and this is what the north wall used to look like.

Laundry Room Remodel: Before
North wall before

I liked having a utility sink.  But there was very little surface space for folding clothes, and ironing in here was too much of a hassle because the only electrical outlet was up on the wall behind the appliances.  As for storage, there was a little recessed wall cabinet, but it was very difficult to access.  Things stored in there were quickly forgotten.

Here is how it looks now.

Laundry Room Remodel: After
North wall after

I think the space actually looks bigger now.

The appliances are 36″ tall, so the new sink base cabinet, which matches our kitchen cabinets, had to be customized to be taller than an ordinary base cabinet.

The quartz countertop had to be 38″ high – but that’s only about two inches higher than your typical kitchen countertop.

And it’s 33″ deep, which is almost 10″ deeper than a kitchen countertop.  So there is lots of space for folding clothes and doing other projects.

Of course, with the deeper countertop, the upper shelves are not easy for me to reach without a ladder or stool.  Our initial plan called for cabinets instead of shelves, but cabinets would have been just as difficult to access.  And any shelf or cabinet that we hung near the window could only be 8 inches deep or it would obstruct the window.

So the shelves hold things that we don’t need often – like shoe care supplies.

A basket of rags sits on a lower shelf within reach.

And the shelves are a fun way to display a few vintage items.

 

I enjoy the look of wood and wicker against the white paneled walls.

And no matter what time it is anywhere else, it’s always 2:00 in our laundry room.

Mid Century Sunburst Clock

Chris remembers this mid century clock from very early in his childhood.  Recently he brought it upstairs from the basement to repair it, and I stashed it in the laundry room to get it out of the way.  And here it stayed – the perfect round object to go in the middle of all the straight lines on the north wall.

Chris has a plan to get it running again, but either way I love the way it looks in this room.

Mid Century Sunburst Clock

I thought about finding some way to conceal the valve box, but I turn the valves on and off every time I do laundry.  So it’s fine.

We chose a stainless deep sink to use with a Delta faucet.

Stainless deep sink with Delta Leland faucet

The East Wall

In the northeast corner, we hung hooks for a couple of vintage coat hangers – one that we found inside the kitchen wall during our kitchen remodel (and that we later realized the original home owners must have brought with them from England).  The other belonged to my German grandfather.

Vintage Coathangers

This is what the east wall used to look like.

East wall before

The little area behind the door, only 14 inches deep, was a mess.

East wall before

And this is how it looks now.

East wall after

I came up with the idea of an L-shaped shelf above a tool rack.  Chris used a couple of leftover shelves and made it happen.

L-shaped shelf to hold cleaning supplies and tools.

The portable space heater from the before photo isn’t needed anymore because Chris added ducting and a heat vent to the room.

Southeast corner after

And it all tucks neatly behind the door.

Originally I wanted a built-in ironing board, but then I realized that I was too in love with the new wall paneling.  I didn’t want a built-in ironing board to detract from the look.  So a tabletop ironing board hangs behind the door, and I just take it to the counter to use it.  This little downgrade saved us a few hundred dollars, and it’s probably just as easy to use as a built-in.

The South Wall

I didn’t get a before photo of the south wall, but this is how it looks now.  Not the best photo, but I had to climb up on the countertop to get it.

South wall after

The Southwest Corner and the West Wall

The southwest corner was a cluttery embarrassment.  Only close family members were allowed to see this.

Southwest corner before

(By the way, Chris is proud of me for getting both toilet plungers into the before photo.  Yeah, I really got my point across with this shot!)

There was a lot stored here.  I found new homes for the things that didn’t really belong in the laundry room.  And there would be some storage in the new sink base cabinet.

Still I knew we’d need more storage, and I wanted it to be easy to reach.  A rectangular- or square- shaped cabinet, placed in this corner, would eat up too much floor space – and ruin the flow.  We realized a corner cabinet would be perfect here.

Dan has built many cabinets for himself, so he offered to build us a corner cabinet – one that would match the sink base cabinet.

Southwest wall after with custom corner cabinet

The little top drawer is very convenient, and there is a surprising amount of storage here.  It works nicely in this corner, with the countertop fitting just below the window frame.

Above the corner cabinet is the expandable wall-mounted drying rack that we found on our recent trip back East.

Southwest corner after

I used a portable wooden drying rack for years.  It would collapse at unexpected times, and it was a pain to store.  I find myself using this wall-mounted rack all the time.

Wall-mounted drying rack

So this was the west wall before.

West wall before

And this is the west wall now.

West wall after

I went with inexpensive matchstick roller blinds for now, and I’m enjoying them.  But I may get something else for the windows in the future since these aren’t very easy to roll up and down.

The washer door clears the corner cabinet – barely.

West wall after

Air Space

Even air space counts in a room this small.  Between the two windows, we installed a stainless retractable clothesline.

Retractable clothesline

It stretches across the room, giving me seven feet of space to hang laundry.

It’s high enough not to strangle us when we walk in, yet low enough for me to use easily.  I love it since I have so many items that I would prefer to air dry.

The Light Fixture

With the windows, this room gets tons of natural light.  We did hang a vintage light that we had in storage.

Vintage light fixture

I guess I lied when I said this project was done.  This room still needs a small towel bar.  But we are very happy with the way it turned out.  It’s functional, it works hard for such a small room, yet it’s has a cheerful, airy vibe.  I love spending time in here – even if I am just folding clothes.

I hope you enjoyed the tour.  In case you’re interested, I’ve listed a few things below that are either the same as or similar to products we used in this remodel.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


Sources

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used below.

Wall-Mounted Drying Rack

This Robbins Lumber expandable wall rack is very similar to ours, although it is unfinished wood, so it would need sanding and either finish or paint.

Stainless Deep Sink

This Enbol SD2318 23 Inch 16 Gauge Stainless Steel Sink is very similar to ours in size and quality.

Faucet

I actually won the Delta Leland faucet as a door prize when I attended the Blogpodium conference in Canada a few years ago.  Here is the information on this faucet.

It is also sold via Amazon.

Window Coverings

These Radiance Fruitwood Imperial Matchstick Bamboo Shades  are very similar to the ones we installed in the laundry room.  But as I mentioned above, ours are a little difficult to roll up and down. Their quality matches their modest price.  Still I love the way they look. They do let a lot of light in, which is what I wanted for the laundry room.  But of course that doesn’t work for every situation.

Retractable Clothesline

This KES Stainless Steel Retractable Clothesline is what we have in our laundry room.  And for the price, I am very pleased with the quality.

Shelves

Our shelves came from Home Decorators, but I believe that style has been discontinued.  This Home Decorators 23″ Classic Floating Wall Shelf is not exactly the same, but the dimensions are very similar.

Tabletop Ironing Board

This collapsible tabletop ironing board works just fine for me – especially considering the small amount of ironing that I actually do.


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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

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used below.

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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Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 


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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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Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
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Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel


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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.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Resources:

Affiliate links are used below.

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

Posts on this blog may contain affiliate links.

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.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


* 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.


My other posts about the laundry room/mudroom remodels:


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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!

Posts on this website are for entertainment only.

Wondering how you can view my previous posts?  The funnest way is to browse my photo gallery and click on any photo that interests you.

DisclosureAffiliate links are used below.

Sources:

  • 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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