Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Time for a [Free] Change-Up

Since I'm already [still?] talking about my living room...

Remember when I started adding some summer flair to it?

I popped a few pieces into a vignette back then, but knew that my tablescape would eventually change.

Well, that time is now.  :)

I had one naptime and $0 to change this setup into something that was more reflective of my Rustic-Revival-meets-Nantucket-Style.
I started with this framed print, which is one of my most prized posessions. 
It, along with a smaller print from the same series, is the first piece of "real" art I have ever purchased.  
The investment was a big deal to me and marked the very beginning of the emergence of my own personal style.  [more on that in an upcoming post]
It's shameful I've had it stored away for so long.
So, Mr. Boat, I'm happy you'll be joining us. 

Once I had my art, I shopped the house and rediscovered some other fun pieces that had been similarly neglected:

This lantern has been shoved in a spare room since we moved in 4 years ago. 
I stole a couple shells from other rooms and he fits in nicely.

I pulled out the loose-weave jute runner that I used on my Easter Table, and in the process found this glass hurricane I literally forgot I had.  What a nice surprise! :)
I twisted some beachy seagrass inside and let him join the party.

And this bleached wood bundle had been collecting dust in a corner of my bedroom for a few years now.
With its rough jute rope binding, I thought it fit the bill. 

Earth-shattering changes?
Not so much.
But the old arrangement had been getting on my nerves for some reason, and this setup 
feels fresh and quite a bit more "me".

I'll tell you what though, that table is DYING to be painted a nice warm white/cream.
Anyone else smell a project in the air?  ;)


Monday, July 25, 2011

Small Change, Big Impact

My drop cloth curtains are one of my favorite projects to date.  They were super simple to make, and I loved the look in my living room. 
At the time, we had our old khaki green couch there, so I was going for adding layers and texture, but overall a monochromatic look on the wall with a bit of depth.  I had Restoration Hardware on the brain.
I was happy with the result and felt the curtains helped elongate those windows and dress up an otherwise super casual room.
But then we finally finished the basement.

And the old couch went down there and got a new makeover of its own.

Then the new furniture arrived (Hooray! :) ), and all of a sudden my layered, textured wall just looked like a lot of....

Now, I love my brown couch - it's this tweed-y fabric that is soft, but durable.
And I super-duper love my wall color - it's the perfect warm, taupe-y greige.

But I needed to break it up, and give that corner some LIGHT - otheriwse everything would just start to blob together like a melted candybar.
Once I figured out the problem, I was on a mission. 
40 minutes shopping over a lunch break one afternoon, 10 minutes of ironing and 5 minutes of hanging later, and ahhhhhhh...  I Love!

I used ivory cotton panels to lighten and brighten and they did the trick!
I didn't go with white because I accessorize quite a bit with cream, and I didn't want the curtains to make the cream look dingy.


The ivory warms the room without darkening the room, which is what I was hoping for.
And don't worry about the drop cloths... I've got plans for them in another room.

New curtains: just one small change, but a big difference for me!



Friday, July 22, 2011

Prepping Fall Planters

I love prairie grass - all kinds of it, really. 
It's a simple way to add texture to your landscaping, or even hide unsightly necessities from view like electrical boxes or air conditioning units.

The grasses are hardy, grow quickly, and return each year.
You don't have to spend a whole lot on them, because a small plant this year, will just about double its size for next year if you treat it right.

I *especially* like prairie grass because they are great for fall, too!
I don't trim mine back until early spring, because I like the look of the stalks through the fall.
They just scream "Harvest" to me

I picked up this little purple fountain grass at Wal-Mart the other day on a whim, and decided to plant him in a pot that I can use on my front porch in the fall.

Last year, I used this planter for my 'punkin and added some prairie grass behind it for texture.

This year, the fountain grass is going to take the front porch stage (with some other fall friends, of course)
RIGHT NOW, the Big Box stores are starting the exodus of all their live garden plants to make way for shovels and snowblowers, so now is a great time to pick up some prairie grass and get it planted before the weather changes.

Did I mention this guy was only 5 buckaroos?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Old Project, New Use

I have fun neighbors.  Every summer, we get together for a party.
This year, we held an outdoor shebang extending across 3 of our backyards (we're lucky to have a ton of green space where people's yards meet). 

SOMEONE, who shall remain nameless
*really* thought he needed to attend this shindig.

He thought wrong.

With people ("New friends! Yay! BeMyFriendBeMyFriend LickLickJumpWiggle".. you get the picture), and food and drink temptations all over the place, it was determined that our furry friend would be spending some quality quiet time indoors, enjoying the air-conditioning.

But, we knew people would be in and out of homes all night, you know, to use the potty.

I pulled out one of these chalkboard tags that I made last summer, stuck it on the window, aaaannnnnnd problem solved!

I just hung it on the sliding glass door using a magnetic wreath-hanger.

Guests knew not to let the sad eyes fool them into letting the Beast into the Backyard, and no one got lost on their way to the 'loo.

"Curses, foiled again!"
Don't give me that look, you.  
We'll have a date with a dog treat later. :)

As for the chalk tags, I'm finding new uses for them all the time..

We've used them around the necks of pitchers to identify beverages...

On the front door to let visitors know The Redhead is sleeping...
They also make cute nameplates for a kid's room

I'm sure we'll find even more uses for them yet!
Chalkboard paint, I <3 You.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Decorator Dog

Either Newman is my new apprentice, or he's mocking me.

I asked him [yes, I "asked" him.  If you are a dog-owner and say you don't talk to your dog, I *might* say you're a dirty liar.  :) ] ::ahem::  I asked him

"What do you think, Newm?  Do I need another pillow in that hole on the couch?"

He looked me square in the eye, crawled up into that very spot, yawned and went to sleep.

I guess I won't be adding another pillow for now. :)

Oh well, I can't go wrong with pictures of a sleeping puppy, can I?

Aw shucks.
Nope, I can't. :)


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ballard-Inspired IKEA Hack

My name is Emily, and I am a storage-a-holic.
It's possible I could have floor-to-ceiling cabinets in every room, closets that go on for days, and I would still be sticking bins and baskets everywhere, bemoaning my lack of storage space.

So, it's not really that surprising that before we had even gotten a quarter of the way through our basement finish, I was already accumulating additional storage options.
Exhibit A, the APA Storage Box from IKEA:

I picked one up during a trip to Minnesota last spring (No IKEA in Iowa.  Boooooo.).
At just $14.99, it's a decent sized storage box.  I figured it would be an easy place to stash toys or books for a quick cleanup.
The only problem.... well, did you look at that picture up there?  Not exactly stylish.
I went over options in my head... I could paint it, sure.... modge podge some cute wrapping paper or wallpaper over the panels... but I just wasn't sure.
Then months ago while perusing through the latest Ballard catalog, it hit me:

The Rowan Storage Collection

(Sorry for the bad picture - these aren't available at Ballard anymore, so I had a tough time finding a picture without scanning my catalog)

Like everything else at IKEA, the boxes come disassembled, which actually worked in my favor.

I took the blond wood pieces, gave them a good sanding, and stained them Minwax's Dark Walnut.
Note: The wood used in most IKEA products is notoriously challenging when it comes to stain, so don't expect perfection.  I gave my pieces 3 coats of stain and they're still rather uneven.  I just embraced it and I'm cool with the slightly mottled look.

I took the white paneled sides, and covered them with this nice linen fabric I found on clearance.
[Note: Iron your fabric first.  You'll be happy you did.]
I just cut the fabric to fit, used spray adhesive on the panels, then wrapped the fabric around, smoothing as I went. 
Once the panels are dry, assemble the box according to directions.  Since the panels on this box slide into pre-cut grooves (you can knid of see them in the photo above), make sure the fabric you use is thin - too thick and it won't slide into the grooves.

When it's all together, it looks like this:
Already I think this is a big improvement from the original look, but it needed something more.
One of the things I liked about the Rowan boxes is the metallic trim on the edges.
The bright brass wouldn't go with my decor, but I really like mixing metals and wood for balance.
I settled on a rubbed antique brass, in the form of some nailhead trim.
I'm happy with how it turned out!

Apparently I'm not the only one 'getting down to brass tacks' lately... I hit 3 different stores and only found enough antique brass tacks to trim this one side.
When the Great Tack Shortage of 2011 subsides, I'm planning to edge the rest of the piece.
For now, we'll call it an "accent wall" :)


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Monday, July 11, 2011

July: 3 Things Under $30

Anyone else soooo ready for Design Star tonight? 
I'm so sick of reruns and lame "filler" summer programming that a new season of DS is just what the doctor ordered!

I also have three projects on the burner right now, but I need to have a serious talk with the weather.
Staining wood in 98% humidity just won't happen (if you've ever tried this I know you feel me), so I'm stalled out on a couple things I was hoping to show you this week.  BOOOOOO.

So instead, even though it's usually an end-of-the-month wrap-up, I'm jumpstarting this month's edition of
3 Things Under $30.

Let's dive right in, shall we?

I wish I had taken a better picture of this lantern, because my lighting just doesn't showcase its coolness.
The weathered wicker has the perfect touch of Nantucket charm, and the hurricane inside is a nice, heavy clear glass.
Even prettier?
The price: $4.99 at Tuesday Morning

*          *          *
I am a SUCKER for yummy candles, and after receiving this one as a gift a few years ago, I'm now on number 3.

It's the white chocolate truffle from Voluspa and it's SERIOUSLY good enough to eat!
I'm no baker, but this candle at least helps me fool people into thinking so :)

I purchased mine at Younkers, but you can find the Voluspa line at many fine department stores.
$24.99 at Younkers, but prices will vary from store to store.

*          *          *

These cabana stripe towels are possibly my favorite summer purchase so far!
I bought them in the lime green and navy blue stripe. 

They are fluffy, absorbant, and so far they've been washed twice and I am pleasantly surprised by the quality.

They are from Target and if you can believe it, only $6.99! [regular price]

That's a pretty great deal compared to these at Pottery barn (on sale, $24):

Or these look-a-likes at Land's End (on sale, $15): 

I'm off to pull Mother Nature into the Octagon for a Cagematch...
Hopefully I'll be back before the end of the week with some new stuff to show you.
Wish me luck. :)


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Here and There

Hey guys!

I am so supa-PUMPED to announce that I am guest-blogging over at House of Hepworths!
(I KNOW, right?? :) )

Allison is a regular Bob Vila with her DIY talents, and always has a ton of fun, creative projects to share!
HOH was one of the first home blogs I 'discovered', so I was totally flattered that she asked me to
help her out while hits the road for a summer vacay with her family.

I'm talking gallery-wall today... click on the icon below to pop over there and show Allison some love!



Thursday, July 7, 2011

Finding Your Style: Pop Culture

Ahhhhh!  I'm refreshed!  Renewed!  Rested!
(Ok, that's totally a lie.  No WAY I'm rested... I have a two year old!) :)
Over the holiday weekend I did a lot of leisurely "home-spotting"... do you ever do this? 
Check out television and online real estate listings in your neighborhood to see how people decorate?
I love it- it's fun to get a glimpe behind the front doors of homes you drive by.

So looking through homes got me thinking about the recent session I attended with Jill Waage from Better Homes & Gardens.
Jill talked about looking at the spaces you are drawn to in movies and on television as inspiration for your own style.

Do you have a favorite?

When I was a kid, I wanted to live with the Huxtable family in their brownstone - everyone remember Cliff standing on this front porch with a trash can lid fending off snowballs? 
::sigh:: I loved that show :)

When I got older, it was an obsession with the Walsh House on Beverly Hills, 90210

I don't know if it was the spanish-style home or the idea of sunny California that was so appealing, but in the early '90s I was ready to pack my bags and end up on the Walsh front door, humming the show theme song.

These days, though, it's a no-brainer:
It's the Dunphy house from Modern Family.

This house is like the Mothership calling me home.
I love the base of creamy neutrals, balanced with a variety natural textures and color incorporated seamlessly into the overall look and feel of the rooms.

I actually rather dislike blue walls as a general rule, but this one works for me.
With its grey undertones coupled with creams in the living room and the crisp white trim, it almost plays as a neutral rather than a blue.

The home has a realistic, lived-in feel that is still completely stylish.

Interesting note: the chairs at the kitchen table (above photo: center back; below photo: right side behind Phil) were used in the first few episodes but were eventually swapped out for a less formal version.

Are you surprised that I love the new chairs more?
[You'll find out why HERE. ]
Familiar? ;)

This house has managed to pull off the perfect combination of classic and traditional with an eclectic, homey, gathered-over-time feel that I try to achieve in my own house.

What's your favorite TV house?