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!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Guest Room Reno... Downsizing? Start the process of staging your house!

This post is about how easy it is to change a few things and give a room a whole new look.  You have to think outside the box, if you will... move around some furniture, art, lamps.  Whether you need a new look or, like us, you are thinking... "why do we need this much space", it is always fun to update your home.  

A little background before I dive into the design stuff... ( you can skip to the bottom, but you might enjoy how we got here).

We have been "empty nesters" as most will call it for over 6 years now.  The home we purchased to raise our children was a mindful planned out venture.... best school district, close to your temple for easy car pooling to hebrew school, and their friends in both plus right here in our neighborhood.  I realize what a luxury this is!  Now this house has too many rooms... we keep their bedroom doors closed most of the time.  So basically we are living in our bedroom/bathroom and the first floor.

When each of our daughters moved out; whether it was to move into their first college dorm room, apartment on campus, locally or in NYC with friends, we always did what we could to help... and boy do we feel we have moved them enough for a lifetime!

The issue is that with every one of their moves, we gained more STUFF!  As they moved out on their own as adults, a lot was left behind... much due to the fact that one moved across country with as much of her belongings that would fit in her civic!  The other is in a NYC apartment... need I say more?!

We are both still working, so location for us is still really good for our commutes. Mine is down the stairs and to the left.  My husband; some of you know as my Handy Husband, has a reasonable drive to the Shore.  As we consider where to "move" where do we "want to be" we have started to "downsize our belongings"... and over time ridding ourselves of items we really do not need or have purpose for - such as VHS tapes of Disney movies!  LOL.  With Disney Plus, we can always access the kids old favorites for when the time comes to share them with their kids, if we are so blessed.  Old printers, an end table, hangers upon hangers... really trying to minimize what we keep.

OKAY - design posts... getting to it!

As we ponder these questions we have started looking at locations and some homes for sale.  This means we need to be ready to put our house on the market if we are to find something we love - we will need to act very quickly!

So, another bedroom renovation to show you!  It is the last room in the house that still had wall to wall carpet.  I mean... what else were we going to do on a rainy Memorial Day weekend towards the end of (we hope!) Pandemic?!!

We didn't fully re-decorate, this room was in pretty good shape.  We moved the furniture around, packed up the stuffed animals and books on the shelves and tore up the carpet!  We added this fantastic area rug we found online, changed the bedding, threw out the old ugly bedskirt and bought some new accent pillows.  

*Craziest thing is that this area rug is the same as one that we fell in love with in a house we saw when looking at options .... by chance, compared the images we took and it is exactly the same!  

How lucky was that!

Take a look....

A few new decorative pillows and it looks like a new room!  Minus the 30 year old TV!  Sorry, again I did not take true before photos - these before shots show the room a little after as we got started...


Worst part was tearing the carpet out and all the staples that had to be removed from the floor.

The best part?  An amazing hard wood oak floor underneath, that we think was never exposed!

AFTER THE RUG WAS REMOVED.... same bedding, pillows, etc...

This just was not enough for me... I wanted this room to "feel better" so when someone walked in to see it they would think

.... I want to stay here!

We moved the dressers to one wall, will eventually hang the mirror.


Moving around the dressers made a difference in how much larger the room feels!  

With the addition of new bedding (a quilt set I designed for a Wal-Mart private label program, new decorative pillows, a new cushion for the chair (actually the original red one I bought...) swapping the throws, nightstand and the lamp from another room, buying an accent rug... the room came to life!  

I am going to take down the shelving for a more open look and I did add that cute Frieda framed piece I found at Home Sense!