Design Challenge!!

Have you ever seen the “White Box Challenge” on HGTV?! Do you ever watch design shows and think “I could do a better room than that!” Well, now is your chance to strut your design and staging stuff and show off your style sense to the world- and you don’t even have to fly to L.A!

Mill 77 Exterior

Next weekend, April 6 & 7, The Mill 77 Trading Company in Amesbury, Mass will be hosting its first annual Guerilla Staging Competition!

This is a two-day event, where teams of 2-4 amateur design fanatics will compete to win cash prizes or gift certificates, all to benefit Our Neighbors Table in Amesbury.  Mill 77 Our Neighbors Table

The idea? There will be a staging area set up (not necessarily a white box, more like a cleared out space, but you get the picture.)  HGTV White Box Challenge

The teams will blindly choose a category- there is a long list of potential ones, including Cats and Dogs, Vintage Kitchen Goods, Mid Century Modern and Make Yourself At Home. Then the team has 40 minutes, that’s right, 40 minutes, to run through the shop, grabbing whatever would work to tell the story and then create a themed space, using only the items available in the store! If you’ve not been to the Mill before, there are so many great things you could use to decorate your space. Room after room of everything from antique dressers and desks, kitchenware and clocks…

Mill 77 Trading Company

to vintage toys, artwork,  lighting and sports memorabilia.

Mill 77 Trading Company

The event will be video-taped and the show-stopping rooms will be photographed for publicity and online voting. You can sign up online, its only $10 per person, and remember, the proceeds go to a great cause!

Mill 77 Trading Company

I’m a member of the team “Mother Knows Best”- two moms and their daughters who love to decorate, have fun and win money : ) So sign up today for your chance to be a design star- you never know who might be watching! Have a great weekend everyone! Susan

This Old Kitchen

Recently I blogged about my Whale’s Tale Coffee Table Project being selected for the 2013 This Old House Don’t Buy It DIY Contest.

This Old House Whale's Tale Table

On that same day, sort of as a “oh, well, what the heck”, I also added my kitchen makeover to the This Old house Reader Remodel Contest, but never received a response…until yesterday. Great news! My kitchen makeover was also selected as a “contestant” in the Home Remodel Category, with a grand prize of  $5,000.00 and a new GMC Sierra Truck!! Can you imagine all the junkin’ I could do with a brand new shiny pickup- I’d like the red one, please : )

GMC Truck This Old House

All you had to do was download some before and after pictures- this is a pretty dramatic transformation, don’t you think?!? This is the before…

This Old House Contest Before

And this is after three long months of dusty, dirty remodeling. LOVE. For the remainder of the photos I entered, click here.

This Old House Kitchen Makeover

Now, I am not sure that everyone who submitted an entry was actually entered into the contest, but I would like to think that my kitchen remodel would be the perfect blend of “old and new” for any This Old House judge. The winners will be notified on or before May 10, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed and in the meantime, trying out some new D.I.M. painting projects. Have a winner of a Tuesday everyone! Susan

Tres Belle Maison Decor!

Those of you who follow my blog know that I love to discover amazing local shops and then share that information with all of you. Yesterday I ventured to Malden, Ma (just a short “T” ride from Boston) to visit Maison Décor. I had read about this charming shop, owned by Amy Chalmers, from Steven Fuller’s blog, An Urban Cottage, so I decided to take a ride over to check it out. The lovely, welcoming exterior was a colorful contrast to the otherwise dreary gray palette we are calling spring this year in Boston.

Maison Decor Storefront

Inside, the shop has several vignettes showcasing Amy’s work as an artisan-her style defines the essence of French Country.

Candelabra Maison Decor

Filled with painted and refinished desks & dressers decorated with vintage accessories,

 Carrington Farms Sign

and an occasional vache (I mean, what’s French Country Style without a cow or two?)

Maison Decor Vache

plus secretaries and armoires that have been painstakingly transformed into showpieces, the shop is eye candy for anyone searching for that softly muted, elegant French Country Style.

Maison Decor Vanity

Using Annie Sloan chalk paints and waxes, Amy re-imagines and re-cycles old, dark pieces into fresh, fanciful furniture.  She shared with me the techniques used to transform this lace cut side table- multiple layers of paints, glazes and waxes will be used to achieve the desired (gorgeous!) effect. Painstakingly time-consuming, but well worth the time spent when you see the finished products.

Maison Decor Side Table

Also now offered in her shop, a new line of finishing products called Artisan Enhancements, a line of  “innovative, decorative mediums” that can add another dimension to your painted furniture.

Maison Decor Artisan Enhancements

This massive armoire, formerly boasting a peach poly finish is being reworked into a “vintage” piece worthy of any chateau, using both Annie Sloan paints and the finishes from Artisan Enhancements!

Maison Decor Armoire

You can read all about the transformation process on her blog Maison Décor- Using Transfer Gel, where she shares “how-to” tips. For those of you just a bit wary of attempting chalk painting and gel transferring techniques on your own, Amy offers Sunday Workshops right in the midst of her showroom where inspiration surrounds you. And for those of you searching for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint supplies, you have come to the right place!

Maison Decor Annie Sloan Paints

An authorized distributor, she stocks cupboards filled with paint pots, brushes and books that line the walls along with stacks and racks of lovely fabrics and sheer drapery panels that are available as well.

Maison Decor French Fabrics

Maison Decor Chair and secretary

While she does sell the furniture and accessories online through her Maison Décor Shop, the paints and waxes are only sold in her shops, both at the 50 Summer Street location in Malden and at the shop on  Harrison Ave in Boston’s South End. Which would be a great reason to stop in for a visit…just tell her that Susan from Country Design Home sent you!

 Busy Bee Bakery CupcakeHave a sweet Saturday everyone, and remember to shop local! This little gem of a cupcake was from the Busy Bee Bakery in Melrose, my next stop after Maison Décor…tres yummy!!! Susan

“Font”astic Furniture Fonts!

Recently, thanks to Coach’s fantastic rummaging abilities, I find myself in possession of several new wooden pieces that need some TLC magic. One of the design styles I continually admire on Pinterest are painted pieces decorated with French Typography. Like this one featured on The Graphics Fairy:

The Graphics Fairy Dresser

or this rustic little nautical dresser from Joss & Main

Joss & Main Dresser

There are so many brilliant DIYer’s out there who take old, junky furniture and accessories and transform them into beautiful decorative accent pieces for their homes or, in many instances, for sale. This sideboard, originally a dark and dingy brown, was painted and stenciled and turned into this beauty by the husband and wife team at Three Mango Seeds.

Three Mango Seeds Console

And check out the finish on this vintage table transformed by Red Hen Home! Love the dark stained wood with the black stencil-very ooh, la, la!

 Red Hen Home

So, how do they do this, you ask? Where do all the letters and graphics come from? And how do I use them on furniture? One website that I subscribe to, The Graphics Fairy, sends a daily email with new and interesting free graphics and fonts- that’s right, free! Great for fresh ideas, inspiration or perfectly easy how-to instructions.

Graphics Fairy How To

Included on her pages is how to download and print the graphics– obviously the size of the piece will determine the size of the graphic, and if it is a large dresser or console, you need an enlarged graphic, right?  Blockposters.com to the rescue!

Blockposters.com

You download your picture onto their website, add the dimensions you would like and it creates adjacent blocks of graphic to the size specs you enter.  Then you can print them right on your home computer and transfer them onto your piece. Click here for The Graphics Fairy Transfer Tutorial on all the ways transfer. So now, you have the graphic you like, where do you find all those fancy fonts? Again, The Graphics Fairy has many to choose from, but you can also check out azfonts or fonts for peas (super cute stuff for painting, scrapbooking, etc.).

Fonts for Peas

So, if you have an old piece of furniture, or spot one at a yard sale that you just gotta have because the size works but just not the style, think about painting and adding some graphics for a whole new look. Recycling, refurbishing, reloving is what country design style is all about! Have a fontastic

Thursday, everyone! Susan

This Old Whale Table

Last summer Coach and I completed a major outdoor renovation, transforming our deck into a screened-in porch. (Of course, today, on the eve of the official first day of spring here in Boston, the porch still isn’t useable due to yet another ridiculous snow storm!) OK, so once the porch construction was completed, we decided on red, white and blue nautical decor, using primarily vintage castoffs and refurbished finds.

This Old House Porch

Of the DIY projects that I posted here, the one with the most interest (and great comments!) was The Whale’s Tale.

This Old House Porch Table

The old whale-shaped table was scooped up at a yard sale for $5,

Whale Table Before

then cleaned,

This Old House Whale Wash

sanded and painted,

This Old House Whale Painted

glazed and finished the table to give him a new, patriotic glow.

This Old House Whale Table Center

Recently, I submitted the project to This Old House, and it was selected for the This Old House Don’t Buy It, DIY It! Contest. For those of you not familiar with This Old House (hard to imagine…), it was one of the original home improvement TV Shows, beginning in 1979 and starring Bob Vila.  Originally airing 13 episodes filmed in the Boston area, the show has grown into a national cultural icon.  Presently aired on PBS, and hosted by Kevin O’Connor, This Old House continues to provide valuable information and resources for owners of older homes through the show, their website and magazine.

This Old House PBS

I am not sure if, at some point, I may need your votes to help me win $100 and a spot in the upcoming July Reader’s Issue of This Old House, but I will keep you posted! In the meantime, if you have a DIY project to share with This Old House, click here and fill in the online forms. (of course, just make sure it’s not as nice as my patriotic pal : ) Have a whale of a Tuesday everyone! Susan

Simply ReMARKable Finds

Two weekends ago I visited the WinSmith Mill Market and, as I usually do when I find something awesome, I blogged about it. Because I really didn’t fully understand the size of the place and the amount of vendors doing business there, I spent many hours shopping and researching, and did my best to make sure I covered all the bases when giving out the information. In a couple of instances, I got it wrong, so I would like to correct that now, once and for all. Upon entering the parking lot at 61 Endicott Street, I saw the first building, where I encountered the shops called ReMARKables and Gallery 2.

Gallery 2 Entrance

Perhaps it was due to the mild head injury I experienced with the snow/sun roof incident prior to my arrival, or the sparkly stars hanging above the entrance, but I got the signs confused and used photos from one space that were actually of the other!

Remarkables Bed Springs

I received a lovely email from the store manager Arlene, who had seen the blog and noticed the photo mixup. (I mean, who could confuse where this sofa came from?!)

ReMARKables Sofa

She, in fact, informed me that she had spoken to the owner Mark (more about him in a moment) about making the signs clearer, as many customers are just as confused. So, I returned to the scene this past weekend, met Arlene and got a little background information about the two shops: ReMARKables (the large warehouse filled with stuff owned by- you guessed it- MARK Waters)

ReMARKable showroom

and Gallery 2 (which is a little vintage shop in the same warehouse building, curated by Deb, the owner). ReMARKables Cleanouts is a family-owned cleanout service with over ten years of experience.

ReMARKables Cleanouts Truck

What started as Mark hauling stuff out of houses and into his garage has morphed into the enormous warehouse space you see in these photos.

Remarkables Sofas

You name it, they have it- lots of it- and its anything and everything, both vintage- like this amazing Maytag Washer,

Remarkables Maytag Washer

and modern- loving this  dining set: )

Remarkables Dining Set

can be had for a great price (Edith actually bought the shelf itself-minus the china!)

Remarkables Shelves

ReMarkables also holds a monthly auction, and some of the goods are set aside for that purpose- you cannot purchase them until the auction. The next one is scheduled for Friday, March 22 at the Norwood Commerce Center, where the Mill is located. For more information about the auction, you can contact them at 781-352-3162.  Gallery 2 is a small shop that is filled with vintage pieces, like these glamorous furs,

Gallery 2 Fur Coats

these adorable children’s books

Gallery 2 Children's Books

and these vintage office supplies (loving the table fan!)

Gallery 2 Vintage Typewriter

Deb , the owner, says that she started out with hats and bags, and has grown her shop into a warm and welcoming space that offers jewelry, vintage gowns and some pretty, pretty vintage decor.

Gallery 2 Showroom

Below is a legend that is on the WinSmith Mill Market Facebook Page. Once again, this market is housed in the Norwood Commerce Center @ 61 Endicott, and is open on weekends only.

Winsmith Market Legend

Although it is difficult to see, you can identify that there are 4 separate, but adjacent builings that house all of the shops listed. Some shops, like Vintage Peacock and Vintage Thymes, which are downstairs in building 23/24, are actually more of a co-op, where many vendors share the space to sell their wares. Other shops, like  The Old Bean Antiques, are separately owned and operated.

Mill Old Bean Wagon

I can also tell you that many of these shops do not have websites, but some do have Facebook pages where you can find general information. According to the WinSmith Market Facebook Information, the hours of operation are: Friday and Saturday 9am-6pm and Sundays from 12-5pm. (this is directly from the information page) For additional information you can contact them at Sre@61endicott.com One exception: The Vintage Thymes Monthly Market is just that- a MONTHLY Market, and is generally open on the second weekend of every month (Friday through Sunday).

Vintage Thymes Monthly Market

For more info about their upcoming schedule, you can click here. So, I hope this clears up any confusion about the hours of operation and the shops. For any additional information, my best advice is to contact the WinSmith Mill Market email listed above or better yet, take a ride down  (or up) there to see what all the fuss is about- you will NOT be disappointed! These past two weekends I visited more shops that are not listed on the legend above, but are included in the one below I found while shopping on Saturday.

Mill Map

So I am assuming that means that new shops are opening quickly as the word spreads, which is a good thing for you! Hope you are having a remarkable day! Susan

The Emerald Isle

Enjoy this old Irish Blessing with a sampling of some of my favorite photos from our last visit to Ireland…

Irish Foothills

Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you

Kinsale

May the wind be always at your back

Blarney Castle

May the sun shine warm upon your face (yup, that’s me kissing the Blarney Stone!)

Kissing the Blarney Stone

And the rains fall soft upon your fields

Ireland

And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Irish Abbey

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!! Susan

Going Green

Since it is almost St. Patrick’s Day, and I just recently did a post on green (it is, after all, Pantone’s Color of the Year!), I thought I would share some eco-friendly products from companies that are committed to “going green”. All of these companies earn our High Five for Friday!!

Going Green Redwood Forest

We hear that phrase in marketing and advertising all the time- but what, exactly does it mean? This quote, from the website Save The World states it perfectly: “Living a green lifestyle – or going green – can begin in small, easy to manage ways. Recycling is a huge, obvious part of helping to save the world through green living. Reducing one’s reliance on oil-based energy sources is another popular method employed in trying to save the world. Purchasing only all organic, chemical free products is another way that many people begin going green, and is considered a very effective method at trying to save the world and all of its resources. Green living is infiltrating all parts of daily life, and the planet is sure to be better for it.”  So, I searched around for some readily available products that do just that- use only plant-based, chemical free and recycled products.

Method Cleaners (available at Target)- Developed by two young roommates- Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan, “their powers combined, they set out to save the world and create an entire line of home care products that were more powerful than a bottle of sodium hypochlorite. Gentler than a thousand puppy licks. Able to detox tall homes in a single afternoon”.

Going Green Method Cleaner Orla Kiely

Mrs. Myers Clean Day  “Inspired by Mrs. Thelma A. Meyer, an Iowa homemaker and mother of nine. It all started when one of her daughters was walking down a cleaning aisle, eyeing all the products with their harsh, stinky chemicals. Right then and there, she had an idea: “Let’s make cleaners that smell nice, like my mom’s garden, but still work like the dickens on daily dirt and grime.”

Green Mrs. Myers Soap

Karen Quinn Organics  “…we pride ourselves on our commitment to fair trade and the earth. We use only certified organic cotton, grown using sustainable farming practices that maintain and replenish soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. Our garments are made of ultra soft, all-natural, organically produced cotton certified by Control Union Certifications (formerly SKAL), a USDA Accredited Certifying Agent. Our garments are also made using Fair Trade practices under Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS). Every little garment supports our vision and hope of a cleaner, kinder earth.”

Going Green Kate Quinn Organic jumpsuit

Bambeco- Hot Style for a Cool Planet  “Bambeco was founded in 2009 by Susan Aplin and Carolyn Wapnick; it was inspired by a trip to Alaska where they saw extreme glacial recession and other impacts of climate change up close. That’s when Aplin set off on a personal quest to understand her impact on the planet, which led to several carbon reduction changes in her life. After making household, energy usage, and commuting changes, Aplin wanted to extend her environmental values to eco-conscious home décor & furnishing purchases and discovered that fashionable, environmentally responsible home products were not available in the marketplace.”

Going Green Bambeco Apron

Of course, you can shop organic at any of your local farm stands or grocers. Just make sure you bring along your eco-friendly bags! This company showcases a wide variety of attractive shopping bags for stylin’ while you’re shopping!

EcoBags.com Cleaning Up the Planet, One Bag At A Time     “EcoBags opened 1989 with a simple goal; to produce quality bags at great prices so that “Reusable becomes a way of life.” We started with the ECOBAGS® Brand Classic String Bag, a simple lightweight, expandable cotton net bag used in Europe for generations, long before paper and plastic bags.” LOVE this French Woven Basket

Going Green Organic Tote from EcoBags

And, of course, for the designers with a conscience, Benjamin Moore makes a NO-VOC paint called Natura– even the label is beautiful!!

Going Green Natura Benjamin Moore

“Natura Waterborne Interior Paint continues  Benjamin Moore’s commitment to providing the most environmentally friendly paint.  Natura Paint emits lower total VOCs than other national zero-VOC products on the market, all without compromise to performance or color selection. Natura is truly “Green Without Compromise®.”  Again, a marketing term we hear quite often, but what are VOC’s? Volatile Organic Compounds that are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and
long-term adverse health effects-yikes!

If you have a favorite, eco-friendly company, drop me an email and I will be happy to share with everyone! The more we know, the more we can help our planet! Have a green Friday everyone! Susan

Capturing Color Palettes

It’s Wanderlust Wednesday, and this week we are returning to Wakefield, Mass to join the throngs of walkers circling the 3 mile path around the lake for their daily exercise. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, with a hint of spring in the air, hundreds-no, thousands-of walkers/runners begin the migration back to the lake to shake off the winter layers (fleece and fat!) and start the annual pilgrimage to beach time fitness. While walking along, the scenery surrounding me constantly catches my eye, and each season brings a fresh new palette. In the fall, it was all about oranges and reds and yellows and golden sunsets.

Autumn on the lake

With the spring comes budding birch trees,

Benjamin Moore Birch Tree

dormant greenery springing back to life,

Benjamin Moore Hartshorne House Exterior

and melting ice floes with gray horizons.

Benjamin Moore Melting Lake

I have a new toy on my Iphone this season: Benjamin Moore Color Capture. You know when you see a house and you think “I wonder what color that is- I love it!” Would you ever put it past me to actually go knock on some perfect stranger’s door to ask what the color and paint brand their house was painted? Yup, done that!  Now it’s a little simpler- I just snap a shot with my Iphone and the Color Capture Analyzer instantly produces all of their paint colors in that particular shot! Then you just go to the Benjamin Moore website, type in the color in the search box and there you have it-brilliant! So the melting ice and the dark sky over the open waters produced this palette in shades of grays with a purplish hue like Faded Violet and creamy whites from the cloudy sky called Chantilly Lace.

Benjamin Moore Faded Violet

As you move the cursor around on the picture, it will pick up the subtle differences in the palettes- this one has more greens like Quarry Rock

Benjamin Moore Quarry Rock

The birch tree scene produced softer blues like Sweet Innocence, more whites and grays with hints of ambers and gold and a touch of coral from the ground cover that is still hidden under layers of mud and dirt.

Benjamin Moore Birch Tree

The Colonel James Hartshorne House , built in 1681, sits on the corner of the lake by the ball field. It is one that I have always admired, and recently they painted it this gorgeous blue-which color blue, you ask?  Well, according to the palette, the closest is Bachelor Blue. But the lighting and time of day changes the hue, so best make sure you take several shots to get the perfect match!

Benjamin Moore Wild Blue Yonder

Even on the grayest, cloudiest day it still stands bright. And what blue house isn’t complete without a cheery red door? The color of this one? I’m going with the sexy, spicy Caliente.

Benjamine Moore Caliente RedWhile I love that red door, which creates its own color palette, my eye was also drawn to the bright green shrubbery in the front that creates a stunning contrast to the rich blue. Dark Celery-the color in the budding shrub tips-is a great contrast to the blues and reds.

Benjamin Moore Dark Celery

As great as that color scheme is for the Hartshore House exterior, wouldn’t it be great for interior space as well? I created this room on the Benjamin Moore Personal Color Viewer. You know all those colors you just captured outside? Go to the website and you can use them in all types of rooms- using their galleries or your own pics! For this one I used the colors from the lake and house photos: Quarry Rock, Bachelor Blue, Caliente and Chantilly Lace– the possibilites are endless!

Benjamin Moore Personal Color Viewer

 Just make sure that when you are choosing your exerior colors, like the ones on the Hartshore House, you factor in the landscape and background- whether its the sky or water or the surrounding greenery, they all play a part in your palette!  Hope you capture a Wanderful Wednesday everyone!  Susan

Vintage Thymes- Hours Update!

Vintage Thymes- Hours Update.

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