Bench Voting Update!!

Woops! As the votes have been coming in, I realized that there is no way for me to track who is voting for what!! So if you do vote, please send me an email at, post it on my Facebook Page, add a comment in the comments section at the bottom of the blog post or Tweet it to me here: I am country pretty on Twitter.

Keep the votes coming!! Add your own ideas if you’d like : ) Susan

I’m Being Benched…

…due to my inability to make a clutch painting decision about this fine pine country style bench.

country pine bench front

Coach brought this one home last summer, and it has been sitting in the barn, awaiting its transformation. Alas, I have found myself stymied over the best course of action to take to turn this Plain Jane into a showpiece worthy of Vintage Thymes. I brought it to market last month, as is, with a cute embroidered Home Sweet Home cushion

Country Design Home Shop

where it sat in the back of my booth, apparently going unnoticed and unloved. Didn’t help that it was covered with stuff and completely overshadowed by its glamorous booth-mate, the shutter table : ) It has some really nice detail, like this curvy pediment top,

country pine bench top detail

and the circle cutouts on the bottom. As you can see, it does have a worn white-washed finish on it.

country pine bench front detail

Typically, furniture speaks to me (I know, I know) and the choices become apparent-painted, stained, crackled, sanded? But, the next market is almost upon us, I am still at a loss, and nothing has been done to highlight this piece! So it’s time for the seventh inning stretch and a trip to the hot dog stand for a dog and a cold one.

fenway franks

While I’m gone, I am hoping that you can pinch hit for me and decide what to do with this fabulous country bench!? My assumption is that it will reside on someone’s porch or deck, hopefully with a view of the ocean (wouldn’t a brightly colored bench look amazing on this porch!?!)

Porch white

Presently, the bench sits sadly on my back porch, where everyone who sees it says “Wow, that’s really nice”. Hmmm. But leaving it alone is no longer an option.

country pine bench side view

That being said, most New England homes are painted white, and the ones along the shore are typically weathered gray, so I am thinking that a pop of color, or Annie Sloan Graphite with a hint of color underneath is the way to hit a home run with this piece. Like this great piece from Lily Pad Cottage

Annie Sloan Painted Hutch Lily Pad Cottage

Or, I could even transform it like Mr. Whale Table here-I am ditching the cushion, so don’t worry about matching that!

 Whale Table Center

So, I am leaving this totally up to you. Here’s the deal: click your choice in the box below. You can add your own answer in the blank box-I am certainly open for any and all suggestions! Here is an Annie Sloan Color Chart you can use for ideas. (Just an FYI, probably not going to go with pink…unless you want to buy it and consign me to paint it pink for you…)

Annie Sloan Paint Colors

There is a one day limit on the poll, because it needs to be transformed over this long holiday weekend. The choice with the most votes wins, I will paint/stain it and show the results right here, and you win one of these cute little chalkboard signs in your choice of colors.

Chalkboard Signs

In the event of multiple choices of the same color, I’ll have Coach pick one out of a hat-or an old batting helmet-for the winner. If you choose other, then write in the box what you think it should be!

batting helmet

Thanks, and good luck! Let’s hit this one out of the park! Susan

Nautical Hallway Love

Perfectly You Decorating Service

Wouldn’t you love to come home to this nautically-inspired hallway, designed by Perfectly You-A Decorating Service from Winthrop, Mass?! I follow the designer, Pat Asquith, on Facebook, and when she posted these pics, it was instant love! This client’s hallway is a shared condo space, so the overall theme had to be approved by the adjacent owners. With the AOK to go full steam ahead, Pat took over and created a beautiful, nautical space-that would be the perfect entry to any home by the sea (or even for us by-the-sea-wanna-be’s). Even more impressive- this was a “design on a dime” project that looks like a million! The before pics: dreary hallway with dark red carpeting (hmm, that looks familiar-must have been done in the 80’s…) plain white walls and an old, tired insulated pipe.

Perfectly You Hall Before

A new door was added and painted a rich marine blue, and this comical detail was added.

Perfectly You Front Door Before

Wouldn’t you just laugh every time you came in the front door?!

Perfectly You Hall Door

Instead of the typical blue and white, Pat opted for this sunny and rich Benjamin Moore color palette of Lemon Grass Yellow for the walls, Wickham Gray for the trim and Van Deusen Blue for the doors. The carpet: 4 cotton runners from Garnet Hill affixed to stairway with carpet tacks. Anchors away!

Perfectly You Hallway Paddles

The window was dressed in matchstick rollup blinds with blue and white horizontal striped panels (made with a Target shower curtain!), cleverly tied back with clothesline rope and boat cleats from Walmart.

Perfectly You Drapery Detail

The railing was created by using two long boat paddles (from the barn of yours truly- and, no, they are not the kayak paddles, haven’t gotten rid of those yet…), mounted on brass railing brackets.

Perfectly You Hallway from top

And what’s a seaside space without a lighthouse? The rays of light beaming from this chrome overhead fixture from could steer any ship safely to shore, or Pat’s client safely home from the store.

Perfectly You Lighting

Adding the few final touches like the red wellies and the ahoy stencil in the ship’s wheel creates that finished look.

Perfectly You Hallway Red Boots

The overall effect: sunny and warm and so welcoming, with bright colors and beachy artwork that would make you happy to call this space home. If you have a space that needs some inspired design, Pat from Perfectly You would love to hear from you! She specializes in interior design and re-design, real estate staging and event staging. She can be reached at or 617-846-7501.  Anchors away everyone! Susan

Brimming With Fresh Ideas


Aqua Thunderbird

Whew! Another epic road trip adventure to Brimfield, via Framingham for a flea market stop and Palmer for an old church fair before we even reached the big show! This was the car after those stops, not much room left…

Brimfield Car Before

But once we had arrived, it was a go! Hours of walking, shopping, chatting and checking out what was hot and what was not. The hotBrimfield Signs Color

 of the year, if I was judging Brimfield trends? Fresh minty green

Mint Lamb

Mint Wicker Table and Dresser

Mint Statues

and pastel blues (ah, my dream truck- if only I had won the mega millions last night!)

Brimfield Aqua Pickup Truck

and not an orange anything in sight. This time it was all about more natural, muted colors

Brimfield Basket Pile Rustic

and pastel hues.

Brimfield Distressed Cupboard and Pitchers

Brimfield Vintage Stove

Worn, distressed, milk-painted and Annie Sloan’d furniture as far as the eye could see!

Aqua Desk

Even an old junky ladder takes on a new life with a coat of distressed blue paint : )

Mint Ladder

And architectural panels become dear hearts with some tin snips, satin ribbon and a few crystal baubles.

Mint Green Tin Heart

This year, the trend seemed to move away from industrial chic, and more into schoolhouse rock. Loads of old desks, chairs, science lab tables and beakers and lockers, lots of lockers.

Brimfield Barn Mint Lockers

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Brimfield Signs Wood

Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind

Brimfield Signs Parking

Do this, don’t do that,  can’t you read the sign? “

Brimfield Signs Warning

by the Five Man Electrical Band

Just wondering, where are people getting these signs? They all seemed to be in mint condition- are they climbing up poles under the cloak of darkness and taking them to sell at flea markets? These street signs were everywhere-and so not cheap either!

Along our five mile journey on foot, we came across this booth by Cari Cucksey from Cash & Cari. Loving her re-purposed sign.

Cash and Cari Sign

Her booth had all sorts of cute, remade, recycled products like these old license plate bags.

 Brimfield Cash and Cari License Plate Bags

And piles of plastic letters and numbers- one can only imagine where these originated!

Brimfield Cash and Cari Letters

This year, Nancy & Robin from Vintage Thymes Monthly Market had a fantastic booth representing the Norwood shops- they both look pretty great considering they had been working in a tent for a the past week!

The Girls from Vintage Thymes

As decorating trending goes, so does lighting. While last year’s lamps leaned more towards turbines and propellers, this year’s standouts were Steampunk-meets-Back-To-The-Future-inspired style.

Lighting Industrial Gears

Fanciful, intricate designs from fabulous, creative minds.

Brimfield Lighting Steampunk

Not to be unnoticed, these mid-century crystal beauties from Collection by Kelly McDonnell caught my eye as well.

Brimfield Lighting Crystal Orb Chandelier

What’s a market in farm country without some animals? Horses were big this year (well, they are big as a rule, so popular would be a more appropriate descriptive term)

 Animal Horses Animal Horse Head Animal Horse and Indian

but taxidermy appears to be making a comeback as well. What an angelic face- didn’t even know what hit it!

Animal Doe Head

And who wouldn’t need a gigantic yellow polka dot bear?!? Is the circus in town?

Yellow Dot Bear

Do you think this cage would be big enough?

Brimfield Peacock Cage

These two displays are a study in contrasts: the female mannequins accompanied by an ironing board,

Brimfield Mannequins and Ironing Board

while the male guy (why wasn’t he wearing those jeans, I wonder) was wearing a hard hat. Some things never change…

Brimfield Mannequin Army

Finally, we scored a couple of items: coach discovered this pile of old (well, I think they are old, but after reading Killer Stuff and Tons of Money, you never know what’s been artfully disguised) burlap potato sacks.

Brimfield Potato Sacks

They’re pretty stinky, but have great style and color. I discovered this campy violin shaped coffee table.

Brimfield Coffee Table

The dealer was asking $20, so coach started to walk away. This was the hard sell to me:

Seller Guy: “What do I need to do to make this deal work?”

Me: “You need to make it be shaped like a whale”

Seller Guy (looking befuddled): Why’d you ask me the price if you wanted a whale table and not a violin table?”

Me: “I was thinking I could make it into a whale.”

Seller Guy: “OK, you can have it for $10”   Sometimes it works when you act like you don’t have a clue…

At the end of five hours of traipsing through endless rows of tents, filled with anything and everything, I kind of felt like this guy.

Brimfield Crash Test Dummy

Dusty and exhausted. Destined for a crash landing. Which I did, in the car on the way home…but I can’t wait for July!! Have a sunny Sunday everyone! Susan

Pretty Painted Bottles

Hey, it’s High Five for Friday time! But this week I am calling it Freakin’ Fun Friday, because I want to share with you this super fun craft project – any one can do this, it’s quick, easy (a little messy) but soooo country pretty!

The Painted Bottle Project

Browsing Pinterest the other night, I came across this project from Work In Progress Kits and literally jumped off the couch and said “I can do this!”. Coach and I have collected quite a number of old bottles, some dug up right in our own backyard,

Antique Bottles

some in more recent estate sales and auctions. Many are old, rusted, scratched and lidless, essentially worthless (don’t worry Coach, I didn’t paint the Old Log Cabin Bourbon bottle in the back-turns out that one is worth something!) so I figured this would be just the trick to spice them up! Here’s the how-to: First, you need some clear glass bottles and jars. Anything will do, doesn’t matter if they’re old or new, but the ones with the embossed labels on the outside look especially cool once they are done.

Bottles Clear

Wash thoroughly- I put mine through the dishwasher to make sure I got all of the grease and dirt off. Choose your paint colors. Home Depot has these awesome Behr paint sample pots- for $2.94 each if you want custom colors-but these were in the Oops! Bin for 50 cents apiece!

Bottles Behr Pots

I also have a number of the little craft paints, and those actually work better for the smaller-necked bottles.

Bottles Paint Jars

So I grabbed a pile of paints, assembled my bottles and got to work. You simply take the paint and bottle of choice, pour the paint inside,

Bottles Navy Pour

turn the bottle until it is completely coated on the inside

Bottles Navy Drip

turn the bottle upside down and allow all of the excess paint to drip back out into its original container

Bottles Navy Pour Out

wipe the edge to give it a nice clean finish (loving this little blue bottle with the mint green inside edge : )

Bottles Mint Green and Blue

allow to dry overnight…add flowers, battery tea lights, whatever you would like to decorate. But remember- this is acrylic paint- you can’t use real candles or put water in them! The paint makes the embossing stand out on the bottle- before the paint I didn’t even know there was a ship on this bottle. Bottles Embossed Detail

You can mix and match the paint colors- like the blue and green one above. Or you can stick to all one color- whatever works for your decor. A couple of simple tips: more is better– pour in enough so you are not standing there trying to swirl around a little bit- takes forever! Remember, you will be pouring most of it back out anyway.

Bottles Navy Bottom

Propping for time’s sake. Watching paint drip is almost as bad as watching paint dry. So set up a propping/dripping area where you can set it and forget it until all of the big globs are gone.

Bottles Blue Drip

Keep a container of wet wipes handy. This project does get messy, as you can see by the pics.

Clorox Wipes

These are essential for getting a clean edge on the top of the bottle, and for cleaning off your hands as you go. You don’t want to transfer fingerprints from one jar to the next. So there you have it- super fun project for a rainy day. Simple enough for kids, pretty cool results. Have a great weekend everyone! We’re off to Brimfield on Saturday- can’t wait to share what we find. Susan

The Beautiful Aloha State

It’s Wanderlust Wednesday, and this week we are off to the great state of Hawaii, our 50th state, joining the Union in 1959. Some of my favorite photos from an epic Hawaiian Cruise.           From the highest volcanic peaks and craters

Horseback Mountainside

to the deepest, dankest rainforests

Fern Grotto

and fern grottos


to the smoldering volcanic landscapes,

volcanic crater smoke

this state is a lush tropical paradise,

Hawaii Waterfall

resplendent with colorful flora

Fern Grotto Flower

and fawna (this is the rare Haleakalā Silversword that is found on the island of Maui at an elevation of 6,900 to 9,800 feet on the dormant Haleakalā Volcano)

Silver Leaf Plant

and of course, an occasional peacock. (I don’t know how Coach got this close, but this girl doesn’t chance any bird encounter, no matter how beautiful the feathers!)Peacock Blue

Water, water, everywhere.

crashing surf in Kona

Comprised of 6 major islands and surrounded by the vast Pacific, the Hawaiian islands have shorelines of breathtaking scenery. These “blow-holes”, that give the appearance of whale spouts, are actually created by years of erosion, the pounding surf carving crevices in the rocky ledge that blows through as the waves crash against the shore. And, yes, the water really is that blue.

Maui blowhole

From the cruise ship, the view is to shore, floating by craggy mountainsides in the morning mist,

The Big Island

pretty lighthouses standing watch along the rocky shore

Kona Lighthouse

and amazing sunsets and sunrises

Sunset from the Ship

Sunset from ship

and softly colored rainbows in the distance.

Morning Rainbow

Pearl Harbor. Crowds silently cueing in line, patiently waiting their turn for a boat ride out to view the memorial constructed over the sunken remains of the USS Arizona.

Pearl Harbor Memorial

And on our final evening in this great state, a fitting tribute: fireworks over Honolulu on the 4th of July. Our Independence Day.

Fireworks over Honolulu

Mahalo for stopping by, and have a wanderful Wednesday, everyone!! Susan

A Gem of a Weekend

So here it is Monday again. That weekend flew by! Between my first Vintage Market,

Vintage Thymes Market Shop

collecting our winnings from the Mill 77 Trading Company’s Guerilla Staging Contest-$500!!! and of course, Mother’s Day, I had barely closed my eyes and the 6:15 alarm was sounding this morning…groan..Monday. But I am happy to share so many great weekend happenings with you! First, my beautiful antique shutter slat table that I featured last week sold at Market!!

Vintage Thymes Market Set

I hope whomever bought it knows how much elbow grease went into it (along with some soft paste wax), and I hope they enjoy using it as much as I enjoyed creating it. On Saturday, our Mother Knows Best team headed back to Mill 77 in Amesbury.

Mother Knows Best Winner

Once we had collected our winnings, we headed downtown for a little celebratory lunch. If you haven’t been to the Amesbury Ale House, you MUST make a trip there soon!

Ale House Logo

They have all sorts of interesting beers and ales on tap, and the pub food is yummy. But the winning dish was: a S’Mores Calzone! What?!? You heard me right. (we dug into it so fast I forgot to take a pic- this is one I found on google- looks close…)

smores calzone

Reasonable Facsimile of Smores Calzone

smores menu item

Perhaps they need me to write a proper description? “A warmed calzone made from a sweet, light dough stuffed with melted chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows, drizzled with chocolate fudge accompanied by three scoops of vanilla ice cream”. Un-freakin-believable!!! Just print that menu section out and hand it to the waiter.)  And just when I thought the weekend couldn’t get any better, we celebrated Mother’s Day all day long, where I had an opportunity to kick back, relax and just enjoy our amazing families and our two incredible moms. My Mother’s Day gift from my children: this beautiful pendant from Gemvara with their birth stones in an Inner Circle Sterling pendant.

gemvara necklace

How lucky can one girl get, seriously?!?  But now it’s Monday, back down to earth, back to work, back to beginning some new DIY projects for next month’s Market. Does anyone have any antique shutters I can use? Susan

It’s High Time to Shop!

In an early High Five for Friday!, I wanted to give you a sneak peek at all things country being offered in my shop at the Vintage Thymes Monthly Market. After what seems like a year (actually its only been 6 weeks since I agreed to join the market- but boy my arms are tired!) of sanding, staining, waxing, painting, cleaning and hauling loads of great vintage stuff in my poor car-soooo many dings and bumps : ( CRV Hauling Stuff

 I am finally ready to debut my collection!

Country Design Home: A Carefully Curated Collection of  Simply Casual Country Style Furnishings & Accessories.

Market Sign

This was the before:

Market Space Before

And this was during (I really thought I was going to need a bigger booth!)

Market Pre-Staging

And this is now:

Country Design Home Shop

In my shop, you will find hand-crafted items, like these very cute shutter chalkboard signs,

Chalkboard Signs

refurbished beauties like this pink and gray Victorian commode that was featured in a previous blog post: Coming Unhinged

Market Pink Commode

and of course, my newly created wrought iron shutter top patio set! Shutter Patio Set If you get there early, you might find this amazing aqua blue vintage hinged and locking steel box Market Aqua Steel Box presumably from the back of my dream pickup truck

Vintage Pickup Truck

(but I have a feeling that one’s not going to be there long, judging from the oohs and ahs of anyone who saw it…), loads of creamy white stoneware and crocks, mason jars by the barrel, vintage tin milking pails, luscious yellow enamel bowls and these cute tin daisy canisters with cut glass knobs.  If you follow my blog, you know I am all about color. This month is pretty pastels, reflected in the paints and accessories I chose to highlight. I love muted grays and blues as much as the next girl, but for me, color brightens my world and makes me happy : ) market cupboard closeup The cupboard shown here was in my dining room for years. Moved around a bit, but finally landed back in the barn. What was once an old, tired dark brown stained wood was transformed with Annie Sloan French Linen Paint and Soft Wax Finish and Benjamin Moore Chalkboard Paint on the buffet top.  Or, if you have a hankering for some home-made ice cream, how about this vintage ice cream maker? market aqua ice cream maker If you are getting ready to plant, I suggest this 9 clay pot vintage iron rack. The pots are chalkboard painted, so you can erase my numbers and label them with the various plants and herbs you are nursing along.Clay Pot Planter I had a blast putting my shop together, with special thanks to Coach, who is my fabulous picker, Lisa Mokaba, my right hand girl and lover of all things vintage, Nancy Granese, who added her amazing artwork for my space and the fabulous ladies from Vintage Thymes Monthly Market-Robin and Nancy-who have helped me immeasurably with great staging and pricing advice : ) Vintage Thymes Market Shop The entire market is stacked to the rafters with great vintage finds, and ready for opening day-tomorrow!  So much to see, so much to buy! I hope you have a truck : ) The hours of operation are Friday, May 10 from 9-6, Saturday May 11 from 9-6 and Sunday May 12  from 12-5. The address: WinSmith Mill Market at the Norwood Commerce Center, 61 Endicott Street, Norwood, MA.  Google Map Here. Hope to see you all there! Now I’m going to take a breath and have a cup of coffee before I start getting ready for June. Happy Shopping, and a very Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Susan

I Shutter To Think…

          …what would’ve happened if Coach and I hadn’t wandered down to Cape Cod last summer and found some old shutters on the side of the road. Seriously! On a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon, we were driving down the Old King’s Highway, or Rte 6A, for some antique shopping and ocean viewing. All of a sudden we spotted some old, weathered, beautiful pastel shutters on the side of the road. patio map So Coach pulls over and tells me to get out and grab them! Which I did, but only after looking at all of the surrounding homes to ensure that a strong wind hadn’t just blown them off and the owners were set to retrieve them.

Old House

All clear! So I threw them in the CRV and off we went, but not very far before I noticed the strong oceany, mildew, rotten seaweedy kind of smell emanating from the back seat. Yuck! But we brought them home, along with some others that a shopkeeper gave us-yup, it was just that kind of day. So I soaked them in bleach, mildew remover, sanded them, washed them again, then laid them out in the sun for weeks. As the summer wore on, the stench slowly dissipated as I anxiously awaited the opportunity to use them in some special project. Fast forward to last weekend’s patio table project. We had scooped this topless table at a yard sale, realizing that I would have to create a new top for it.     patio table

My first thought was to use this old rain barrel- the staves were old and beautifully weathered, and unlike the shutter slats, were smell-free.

Antique Barrel

However, after spending hours deconstructing it, I discovered that 1. old barrel wood is really brittle and 2.old barrel staves are curved, which makes for a precarious perch for a cup of coffee.

Old Barrel Staves

The Plan B inspiration hit me at 4:30 am- the cleaned, pastel shutter slats would be perfect! So here’s my how-to:

1. Cut out a round piece of pressure treated plywood for the base in the size you want for the table top.

patio plywood

2. Arrange the slats in a pleasing “patchwork quilt” style pattern.

patio pattern

3. Glue, then nail the slats to the top of the plywood circle. I used this little sharpshooter- it shoots tiny little brads that are almost invisible.

patio sharpshooter

4. Flip the top over, then using a jigsaw, trim all of the excess wood away to create a perfect round. Well, not exactly perfect. I’m working on my sawing skills : ). Then flip it back over and

patio jigsaw

sand the top and the edges until smooth and even. Stain the bottom and sides.

patio top cut

6. Finish sides with black spray painted hanging strapping stuff with little black tacks.

patio tacks

Patio set strapping

I had High Heat paint so that’s what I used, but unless you are planning on using this as a fire pit, I think regular Krylon will do the trick.

patio black strapping

7. Spray the entire surface with matte clear acrylic finish. Allow to dry, then finish with a coat of Annie Sloan Soft Wax on top and sides, both the wood and the metal. Place on your patio for all to admire and enjoy!

Patio Set finished


9. Set it up in your booth for the Vintage Thymes Monthly Market coming this weekend! This one’s for sale : )

patio booth

So see, if we had never wandered to the Cape that day, I never would have scooped those shutters and created this beautiful table and chairs and offered it to you! Now, does anyone need a box of cut up antique barrel staves? Happy wandering Wednesday everyone! Susan

So…Mother Did Know Best


A few weeks ago, I blogged about the First Annual Guerilla Staging Competition at Mill 77 Trading Company in Amesbury to benefit “Our Neighbor’s Table”. To refresh: we chose a category out of a hat, then had 40 minutes to race through the shops collecting whatever we could move to create a beautiful, photo-worthy room. What a blast!! Our team, Mother Knows Best, with the category Clothing and Accessories, used our collective creative minds to produce a Paris-inspired turn-of-the-century boudoir. This was the before: 


This was the after:20130507-071505.jpg

Then I sent out a request to all of you in internet-land for votes! For two weeks we sat on pins and needles awaiting the final word. The votes were finally tallied over the weekend, and guess what?!? We won first place!! So I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone out there who visited the website, clicked on the YouTube link and either “liked” the video or voted for us online. We couldn’t have done it without you. It was great fun, for a really great cause, and we can’t wait til next year’s competition! I like the sound of defending champions : ) As for me, I think I’ll use my winnings to purchase a new nail gun!! Have a terrific Tuesday everyone!! Susan





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