A blog that features my easy-to-moderate, inexpensive, do it yourself home improvement projects in an effort to transform my 1,000 sq ft bungalow built in the 1970's into something with lots of cottage chic/shabby chic/victorian chic/traditional chic style.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Valentine's Day Heralds the Arrival of Spring Decor

I loved my pretty white Christmas tree in the window so much, I decided to leave it up as a Valentine's tree. Love. It brightens up a corner that stays fairly dark through the winter months. Come true spring, this corner will be lighted the natural way.
I have yet to get out the rest of my Valentine's decor (just two puny boxes-compared to 20 totes for Christmas--clearly I need to beef up) but since I already decorate with lots of pink, it's not a decor triage type of situation.
It was last February, (or maybe the one before?) that I put the finishing touch on my dining bench. A piece of gold trim I had purchased 15 years ago in a little antique store in Southern California was the perfect note--once painted to match.
The arms are corbels snagged at an architectural store in Santa Cruz California. The bench itself is just a plain piece that once lived in a snazzy restaurant in Carmel.
The cushions that came with it were just the right size to squeeze into a bed size pillow sham in one of my all time favorite patterns--Old Country Roses by Laura Ashley. The twin quilt (flung from my daughter's bed when she was still a wee tot--she's a black, white and red kind of gal) covers is wrapped around the cushion on the seat and hangs down to the floor.
The look you want is within reach if you are willing to do it yourself.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dunhaven Place The Retail Establishment--The Transformation

Ever wonder how to turn a dark and cave-like office space into a warm and inviting home decor store? It hadn't been much on my mind, either, until the beginning of March when it was made known to me that there was a teeny-tiny retail office space available for rent. As soon as we got inside, I knew I could make it work--in spite of the mini blinds, interior windows, coffee brown and burgundy walls, all of which screamed "OFFICE!" This first picture is of the view from the inside out the front window (obscured by blinds until opening day).

The below photo shows the fireplace mantel we bought to help cover the interior window that gave us a smashing view of the business next door. The mantel came from a house in Berkeley built in 1910. We were thrilled to get it.

Below is the view of the store from outside on opening day. Most of the photos are from our first day--it looks a bit sparse but things change on a daily basis.

I love my pretty store but it is challenging to make things look the way I want them to using only the things available. It's a fun challenge, though, especially when I have a hole to fill because somebody bought something!

Our Grand Opening Party was held about five days after we opened. The star of the show was the cards made from the painting titled Miss Delacourt's Roses by Jana Winters Parkin. I was thrilled to pieces to find a bouquet similar to the ones Jana used as inspiration for her painting.
Dunhaven Place is located at the TJ Maxx shopping center at 4691-C Clayton Rd. in Concord at Bailey Rd. It features painted furniture, antiques, collectibles, holiday decor and handmade items by local artisans. You never know what new and wonderful item you will find at Dunhaven Place!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Yen For A Silver and White Christmas

Christmas is here so it is time to say goodbye to all the pink and white and warm things up for the winter. Yet, I've been dreaming of a white Christmas, so I decided to gather all my thrift store bits and pieces of silver and silverplate and gather them all in one place. My fireplace mantel is now a winter wonderland with a few hits of pink and green. I love it!

However, I had one problem. The candlestick lights I have on my mantel were brass. Brass! It just didn't work well with all the pieces of silver. (The photo below does not do justice to the travesty that were the brass lights.)

Blessed with a stroke of inspiration, I pulled out the silver leafing products I bought to turn a plain clear vase into a "mercury glass" wonder (big time fail--it looked awful!) and started to experiment on the brass lights.

Leafing, whether in silver or gold, is one of the most frustrating, annoying and tedious projects there are. However, once I got the hang of it, things started to go more smoothly. Lots of hand washing between layers is a must so that the leaf doesn't stick to your fingers instead of the item being leafed.

Often, the leaf didn't stick to the item, no matter what I tried. Remember to dust and/or clean your item well before leafing. I. Did. Not. Hence, mucho imperfections. However, it does give the candlestick a bit of that mercury glass look I was wanting for the last project. Plus, from a distance, you don't even notice the bald spots. However, a second layer of sizing (the liquid you apply to the piece before applying the leaf) and silver leafing took care of most of these problems.

Be sure to look at your item from all angles and get the inside, upside, downside, every side. In the end, I was extremely happy with the finished product and love how my silver candlestick lights look. Click HERE for more photos of my Christmas decor this year. Click HERE for photos of my decor last year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chic N Shabby Autumn--My Thanksgiving Decor

Is holiday decor truly that important in the grand scheme of things? Not really. However. Our little family of five has moved often and often and most often have been renters, so the objects we surround ourselves with have taken on a bit of an importance. They make our house, whichever and wherever, our Home. Also, for me, it is one corner of my life I can control to a certain degree. This is important when one inhabits a wildly out of control life. Still. I'm not ordinarily terribly inspired by Thanksgiving decor--it just doesn't "go" with my light and bright interiors. For that reason, I hadn't planned on really making a post out of what I ended up with this year. However. A request to see it was made--so here it is.

The painting above the mantel is sans frame. It was destroyed in one of our many moves. In spite of that and the fact that this oil painting depicts French flower stalls a la summer, the colors are magnifique.

Many of the elements pictured here were used, to great effect (IMHO) in my Halloween decor (see previous post). It is always so fascinating to me to see how things take on different personalities when paired with something new. The family photo of the children in white no longer seem spectral but merely "antique" and the pumpkin that shouted "Halloween" now claims a star role in the Thanksgiving scheme of things.

Making Thanksgiving "go" with my shabby chic style was harder before I found the fabric for these drapes. This is the second autumn they have lived in my house and I am delighted with their transformative flexibility. They tie in the oranges and yellows of fall while still singing summer during the warm weather months. (Do these things really matter? Perhaps not. But I am one of those people who feels so much happier when surrounded by beauty . . . )

The desk below was inherited from my husband's grandfather. Most of my living room furniture is white so I decided to coat this desk, as well. However, I hated to cover the gorgeous striations of the wood on the piece below the drawer so decided to paint all but that. I got as far as the drawer (I replaced the metal pulls with the pink glass ones) and decided I was done.

The painting below was above my mantel for Halloween and Thanksgiving last year. This year I decided it was "too too" and it sulked in the garage for Trick or Treating. However, I brought it out right after and stuck it in front of the mirror (the one that has a mirror hanging against it). It looks a bit awkward but we have been enjoying it anyway. Go figure. (In other words, it's okay to be individual in your decor if you are looking at objects that make you feel happy.)

This is about all the fall color we will get. There is little of red and orange and yellow to gaze on from our windows so these fake flowers will have to do. I am very grateful for all the fake stuff we can get our hands on in this day and age. And I'm thankful for a sweet little (very little) home to call my own.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Turning Bliss to Hisssss and Chic to Eeeeek!

For those who long for light and bright, chic and shabby interiors, Halloween decor can be a bit daunting. How does one take something so lovely, not to mention pink, and turn it into something spooky and menacing? Take, for instance, the sweet bride doll that lives in my kitchen cabinet. Enclosed in a glass cloche with a skeleton to guard her amongst the cobwebs, she becomes the epitome of spooky and menacing.

White is the picture of summer but it makes the perfect backdrop for changing seasons as can be seen in the photo below . . .

My large all white mantel provides a lot of space to cover. Sparse is just right for the warm months but when it cools off outside, one wants to turn up the heat inside . . .

. . . .in which case, more is much, much more. (Click HERE if you want to see how we made this fireplace on our lonesomes . . .)

With a few changes, switches, and removals, one can turn delicate beauty . . .

. . . into the picture of fright!

Often, one can find things they already have to enhance holiday decor. The "haunted house" photo below is a black and white version of a photo I took of the stables at the home of Lord Byron in Nottinghamshire, England. It was one of my favorite buildings in all of Britain but printed without color and cropped a bit askew, it is as haunted-looking as they come.

The frame in this photo was purchased at a flea market for $2 as it is warped. I can't hang it on the wall but it makes for an interesting statement in this Halloween tableaux.

I had the poster print above the mantel made online from a free-use antique postcard by Ellen Clapsaddle. It has just the right antique, primitive Halloween look I was going for. It certainly seems to have the black tabby spooked!

What displays as a lovely summer green on the walls in proper lighting . . .

. . . .glows an eerie Wicked-Witch-of-the-West-green in the candlelight.

A corner of the bureau dressed in summer . . .

. . . with a few switches and additions becomes a ghostly altar. Ancestor photos featuring children in white clothing and mustachioed men framed in black puts a whole new light on the previously sweet-looking garden statue.

One of the easiest ways to make your light and bright interiors say "boo!" is to . . .

. . . add some simple witches hats made out of black construction paper to your photos and artwork. Everybody looks good in a witch hat at Halloween!

The darker, more Victorian-looking hallway here is easily made spooky . . .

. . . with the addition of a few battery operated votive candles. (The glass-doored cabinet to the right of the photo below will be the subject of a later before and after post. Go HERE for a post on how I turned this landing from something ho-hum into the library I yearned for.)

The alternate view of the hall in this photo shows my bedroom door sporting its new trim and glass paned door---a post for another day, as well.

Another example of how removing a few things and adding a few others creates impact! (Click HERE to see how we made this cave of an entryway a thing of beauty.)

The roses and white linen is removed and replaced with items that will stay until the end of winter. . . that is, with a "few" exceptions . . .

Let's see that bat attack one more time. Before . . .

. . . and after! Bat patterns are widely available on the internet. Trace onto black construction paper and cut them out while you are watching T.V.--then tape them anywhere and everywhere for a fun flock of festive fright! The addition to black shades on the chandelier help to add that eerie glow.

Remember my kitchen window re-do this past spring? (see HERE for the before and after for the window project) As much as I adore the new look . . .

. . .I wanted something a bit heavier for the cold months of the year. The black chandelier spends six months of the year outside and three or four months above my kitchen sink. It's just enough of a change to say "Halloween" without a lot of fuss.
The orange shade over the lamp in the corner of the counter makes a big, but easy, difference, too.

These cabinets started out as builder quality, i.e., old and ugly. Go HERE to read how I made them something a bit more special. Scroll down to see how I made them "spooky".

This metal sculpture is the perfect size to hide the flowery decor on the top of my fridge and adds a lot of sparkle, too.

A few similar addtions to the shelves here create the same look with ease.

With just a few tricks and treats, you can make any decor say "hisssss" and "eeek!"

Happy Halloween!!!