Monday, February 20, 2023

Rediscovering My Passion for Crafts

 I have always admired my friends who are creative, who produce and display their "art" in their homes. You walk into their house and know right away, these are artists! 

I love handmade items; knit or woven pillows, macramé and woven wall art.  I like to knit and have made many scarfs (and baby blankets) for people over the years.  When we moved, we wanted to limit all of the "extra stuff" we had.  My daughter's had left a lot of the things I made them at the house when they moved out on their own. When I was packing, going thru everything, they chose not to have me keep or send it for them.  I regret that, as I really loved so many of the projects I did; the colors, the stitch I chose to learn - many of them had "extras" such as antique buttons or jewels sewn on them.  

I recently knit my mom a scarf... she loved it!  I had one extra skein of yarn so I made myself a cowl and thought, "this would make a beautiful pillow! " I could not find that yarn again, so I went to my new favorite yarn store in New Hope called Twist!  The owner of the shop is lovely and everyone I have met there has been so helpful.  I bought a beautifully dyed yarn called Rasta and fell in love with the colors.  

The knitters there that day helped me figure out how large of a panel I could make, using a seed stitch with one skein of yarn ... I brought a sample swatch of my knitting to show them, to ask their advice.

I used a circular needle #13 and am so happy with how it came out!

Here you can see how vibrant the colors are!
This yarn brand has so many gorgeous hand dyed colorways and they are so soft and saturated! Offered in so many colorways!

When I finished I wanted to make a pillow shell in a color that would work so that you would not see it "grin" through. I planned to go to the fabric store to buy solid fabric and a pillow insert.

I got very lucky and found a ready made pillow with a very cool design at Target for $20 in the perfect color .... however I did not want a square pillow, I wanted a boudoir  (rectangle) shape.

I opened the pillow at the seam, took out some of the stuffing, cut the fabric back to the size I wanted.  I then sewed the pillow closed to fit the size of my knitting; (pillow was 18 x 18 in - I made it 18 x 14 in.). Using embroidery thread to match the base pillow, I stitched the my knitting to the back of the pillow, so that I could use the pillow on either side!

I could not be  happier with the outcome!
I love adding my own touch to the house, especially when it comes out this good!
Don't let your inhibitions or fear that it won't be "good enough" stop you from allowing your creative mind to work!

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

New House.... New Hope (Pennsylvania, that is!)

 When I look back at my blog posts so many of them have to do with color.  How color affects our mood, how easy it is to use color to update your home and your MOOD!

THIS POST IS NO DIFFERENT - Color affects my mindset.  For all who know me, I LOVE street art!  This is my street art... for now!

Recently moving to "our bucket list town" of New Hope, Pennsylvania part of me wanted to examine what do I want from this house...  how can it be an expression of who we are?

We have been coming to New Hope and her sister town of Lambertville for decades now; spending weekends riding our bikes along the Delaware River on the towpath, visiting galleries, meeting artists, finding great coffee and food; we have always felt a "pull" to this area.  The art and culture here envelopes the every breath!  

So, how did I want to start my next chapter here?  

I wanted to drive up to my new home and feel like, wow, I LIVE HERE!

I want to show you how easy it is to add color to the outside of your house, giving it a personality of it's own!  I work from home (since Dec. 2019) my office is situated in the front room, window facing the street.  This allows me to see my new neighbors walking by with their dogs, or friends. 

I am kind of thrilled at how many of their heads I have turned with this update!  

Here are the BEFORE images... beautiful stone front, landscaping needs some loving care...

Here are the AFTER images!
A strong pop of navy blue... classic yet artistic

We tried a few colors, starting with the Historic colors offered by Ben Moore - I need to follow my own advise that I offer friends and clients... paint a sample on the area you will be painting to look at the color at all times of the day; morning, noon and night to be sure you "like" it.

We ended up with 2061-10 Deep Royal - described by Ben Moore as : A dark, distinguished navy that verges on black

We took out the center boxwood in front of my office window and purchased a beautiful ceramic planter.  With the help of Donna @Gaspers she was able to guide us to the right plants to put in here... perennials and deer resistant with "pops of color" . Donna told us to put crushed water bottles in the bottom, cover with landscape fabric and then special gold potting soil to give the plants the best chance to make it thru the Fall and Winter... the bottles in the bottom help so the planter will drain and not fill with water and crack in the cold of the season.

Don't be afraid to try something new!  A new color, add a planter, flowers.. anything and everything that will make you feel good!  You have nothing to loose! Like a good friend of mine would say "WHY NOT"  (thanks amanda  - @indoorfangs  best spin instructor; kept me sane during Covid and still does!)

Monday, March 7, 2022

Re-Purpose Functional Furniture

 Did you ever have a piece of furniture that "works" for you, but over time starts to look old and worn out?  Yet you cannot bear to toss it.... This was the case for these folding tables that we use in our family room.  We love to relax and watch a movie and have dinner at times.  

Most people call these TV Tables!  LOL - which they are in every sense of the word, except they do not hold the TV, they hold the food you eat while watching TV....

I remember growing up they were metal, some with floral prints, an edge all around.  If you were fancy you had a stand that housed them!

Mine were simple, just wood - but over time got scratched and stained.  When we were updating our family room I added a new coffee and side table, however I could not stand the thought of just throwing these away.  

Repurpose, rejuvenate, restore!!!  My favorite things to do!

All you need .....  spray paint, painting gloves, a tarp and a little bit of time. It is also helpful to use this special nozzle head/handle to spare your hand of paint and getting cramped from holding down the sprayhead.

Here is the before and after.....  

I painted them black to match the buffet/TV stand in the room and the accents of the new coffee and side table wrought iron legs. 

Monday, February 28, 2022

Simple Updates... Bringing more light and life into a room!

As I look around my home I have been on a mission to make big changes that do not break the bank. Updating rooms by painting, or re-arranging furniture... things that do not take a ton of time or money but make a huge visual difference can be challenging and fun . 

I know I have suggested this in past posts ....

Did you ever try taking down all the art in a few of your rooms and moving them around? Creating new groups, maybe changing the frames? You would not believe what a difference this could make!
I did this with furniture...  the room settings and arrangement of the pieces I own.  

As we go through the process of thinking and re-thinking downsizing and what that would look like, we have taken multiple trips to furniture stores to try to get inspired.  The argument of "well if we are moving, we need to think about the new space, and not knowing how big it will be, we should hold off".  
This can paralyze you!!!

I love my family room, the size and layout work - but the furniture and carpet?  I was just tired of it all!  In light of the unknown space we might find, we decided to move the sectional sofa around and follow some of the "set up" trends we are seeing in stores; one being using the ottoman as a "backless" sitting area, not as a foot rest or coffee table!

Here is the room before...  you can see this beautiful wool rug (a big investment at the time).  As much as we loved it when we purchased it, we are "bored"... 

I wanted to re-arrange the furniture and add a new carpet that was lighter and would lift the feeling of the room.  The folding tables too, as functional as they might be, and we use them often just looked worn and old.  
** this will be another quick post next.. stay tuned!

Here is the rug we chose to replace this - a foot smaller in each direction; a larger scale pattern, with taupe, grey and touch of teal - matching perfectly to the room!

             Next we were in search for a coffee table and some other items to add to the room to "update" the look.  

When you spend so much time in a room you want a place that feels conversational and comfortable.

Re-arranging the furniture and purchasing the tables was the first step, while we waited the delivery of the new rug. 
  • You can see how we inserted the ottoman as a bench seating between the chaise and sofa; purchased a few new pillows, a coffee table, side table (not shown here) and then the swatch of the new rug there to show how much different and lighter it will be!

We did not want to paint the room and we were not prepared to replace the sofa or furniture yet.    I looked in so many stores for the perfect coffee table and found this at a local Home Goods!  Loved the recycled wood look, and the fact that it was round, was so perfect for so many reasons!  It gives space to walk around without crowding the room, no corners to hit your knees/ shins and with our first grandchild on the way, we will have less corners to cover!      In addition, the legs for both new tables match the black accents in the room, including the furniture you cannot see in this photo, that the TV sits on top of...  it is important to look for pieces that "work together" when adding these small changes to a room.

I will spare you the multiple photos each time we added something... here is the final image below!

In the end, I updated the room with the following steps:

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Home Cleansing is Cathartic

After 21 years in our home we decided to clean house ...

That is not to say that we didn't keep the house clean.... but the amount of "things" you accumulate in that time is unbelievable. I look at my two dear friends Lisa and Rena who live in these beautiful small spaces in Manhattan. Their homes always seem to be in order, even their medicine cabinet and bathroom countertops are clean and inviting! Small space living... I have a lot of space and need to learn that you do not need to fill it!

My daughter lives in a beautiful home in Richmond and just has a sense of "what she wants and needs" and does not take in anything extra!!! She only buys or takes items that "fit" - her style and her space. She really knows and sets her boundaries! 

I always found the space for one more thing; one more set of sheets, blankets, dishes... if I liked it and wanted it, I found space for it. My kids joke that they grew up with a "sheet and blanket museum" aka our linen closet ...  To be fair, I have been in home textiles for over 20 years so needless to say I have collected "just a few things"! If it was soft and wonderful, I had to keep it! The good news is that when my kids moved to their own places, I had a lot to give them - not that they wanted it, LOL! 

How do you decide what to keep? I find I am asking myself "why did you save this in the first place?" 

Catharsis is the purification and purgation of emotions—particularly pity and fear—through art or any extreme change in emotion that results in renewal and restoration. as defined by Wikipedia

As I read this I think... I am not sure I agree with the pity and fear part of the definition - yet then I think, well maybe the fear of letting go.. of an item, or more so, a memory.

Small things are easier to go thru and give away - the souvenir you wanted from that flea market in Mexico on vacation; the wooden carved dolphin or duck.. what were we thinking? Yet these items have sentimental value, as I learned when I wanted to toss them and my husband didn't. Memories attached to certain items have kept us from purging too! 

When I worked for RL, I was responsible for all International Licensing - I worked with a company in Mexico and traveled there a few times.  The owner of the business sent me a beautiful wood piece of furniture, that unbenounced to me, arrived one day.  It is made of distressed wood, rich in character and I was grateful- it is small and has been with me for over 25 years - so it is sentimental in a way; a reminder of my accomplishment, time and travels.  In those years I have filled the drawers with birthday, anniversary and greeting cards I have received ... again sentimental!  Why was I saving these, when would I ever look back at them, yet when I received them I could not bear to just "throw them away"!

Every drawer is FULL!

Now as I am going through my house, looking at what I love, asking can I "lighten the load", what would I take with me if I moved to a smaller space?  I decided I have to go through these drawers... 
and examine my initial question.... asked and answered.

This one task will take time because I now want to go through many of these things, read them, think back and enjoy the memory... the reason I saved them - 

Take the time to look around you - this year, in a time when we have had to be alone with our thoughts, our homes... is the time to think about getting rid of what no longer serves you

Cleaning your house is cathartic... it is freeing in a way!
It also allows space for new - time, adventures and what new things lie ahead of us!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Guest Room Reno continued.... wall color matters!

As you follow along on my journey, maybe looking for ideas, curious how others address change; here is just a quick update to our guest room renovation.... a forced change that worked out beautifully! I shared with you the images of the final room - here is what I did: • tore out the wall to wall carpet and cleaned the "almost new" wood floors underneath. Not sure they ever saw the light of day, they were is such good condition, we got lucky! • kept the furniture and moved it around • added new neutral bedding with pops of color in the decorative pillows • took everything off the walls, including the shelving (sold them on FB Marketplace).... However this is where my journey ran into a hurdle
I could not for the life of me find the color I painted this room! My daughter loved this color and I was determined to keep this one room with "color". It was fun, bohemian in a way with all the decorative items I added and I wanted a custom look to at least one room. 

  I guess we were destined to paint almost the entire house though... 
so after getting a sample of the color I was sure it was, matching it back to the Ben Moore fan deck- it did not match : ( Granted, I only put on one coat, over white spackle, but it was no way dark enough so I knew that I was going to have to paint the entire wall. At that point "handy husband" said, we might as well give in and paint this room neutral ( as the real estate agent who saw the house said we should for best look, when we are ready to out the house on the market). I went kicking and screaming and finally gave in... 

 Here are the final results of the renovation - the room does look bigger, brighter and I am sure that someone looking at the room will like it, or at least be able to see "their" potential for it. Sometimes you have to be open to change; even when you are holding on for sentimental reasons! (my daughter loved that color!)

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Make Old New Again! Repurposing a Wood Tray

I love to repurpose furniture and household items!
Whether is it a chair or a smaller project, you too can make something new again! Take this old serving tray, I use this all the time; to take food into another room, to serve meals outside, especially for guests. This old tray has seen better days yet it is a great size and in really good shape, with the exception of a few nicks and scratches.
I am going to show you how you can rejuvenate this tray to make it look new, and customize it to fit your style.
Supplies you need:
• Decorative paper for the inner base of the tray
• Ruler (best to have one with a cork backing)
• Exacto knife with a new blade
• Cutting board or surface
• Mod Podge - this is a sealer and a glue
• Foam applicator
• Fine or medium sandpaper or sanding block
• Polycrylic - water based sealer
• Paint brush
Michaels and many other craft stores sell scrapbooking papers in so many different patterns, styles and colors! Decide the look you want and the size you will need. Before you choose a paper, be sure to measure the object you will be updating to be sure you get enough. The largest paper I found was 12 in x 12 in. For my project I only needed two pieces (I bought four just in case I messed up, lol). You can also use craft paper, wrapping or magazine paper! Lay the paper out to see how the pattern matches up side to side and top to bottom. Some designs will be able to be cut to work, others might look funny and very mismatched.
1. Cut paper to fit the surface you are covering. Use the ruler to measure the dimension of the surface and carefully mark the paper. Place the paper on the surface to be sure it all matches up so you are happy with the layout. Put paper aside.
2. Using fine or medium sandpaper, sand the wooden tray to remove all dirt, marks and scratches; brush or dust off excess sawdust and wipe down with slightly damp paper towel.
3. Coat base of tray with Mod Podge; this acts as a glue to adhere paper to wood surface. Coat evenly.
4. Lay paper into base, as you tested in pt. 1 and smooth out with your hand to take out all bubbles and wrinkles. In some cases, depending on the look, you might want some textured wrinkles in your paper. Be sure to keep this in mind when you are cutting to size.
5. Let dry 15- 20 minutes
6. Coat top of paper once dry with a thin coat of Mod Podge and let dry 15-20 minutes.
7. Finally, coat with polycrylic, over paper and wooden tray to protect against dirt and for a smooth protected surface. This will also make it easier to clean. I like to put at least 2 coats of the polycrylic; be sure to let fully dry in between coats.
Now you have re-used, re-purposed, and rejuvenated a great decorative piece!