MY Color of the Day

Pantone Color of the Year 2015 MarsalaEvery year, the company Pantone releases their “Color of the Year“, showcasing one color that will set the trends in home and runway fashion. The 2015 color is Marsala, a deep, rich wine color and “…a subtly seductive shade, one that draws us in to its embracing warmth.” Now don’t get me wrong, I love a rich, dark neutral (and a nice glass of red wine) as much as the next girl, but I am left with a quandary. What if I don’t happen to like Marsala? What if I don’t think it can “enrich my mind, body & soul“, as the ad claims. What if, when I imagine where I could use it in my home I think, “it’s just too dark and somber for my colorful space?” Well, I could turn to Benjamin Moore, who also released their 2015 Color of the Year, Guilford Green,

Benjamin Moore Color of the Year 2015 Guilford Green“…a stunning silvery green that complements both modern and traditional styles in a seamless manner.”  I am left to wonder why, Ben Moore, why this color? Well, “We chose Guilford Green as our 2015 Color of the Year because it can be the hero or the highlight in any room, enhancing the architectural identity of a space,” said Ellen O’Neill, Creative Director at Benjamin Moore. “Guilford Green is the perfect thread to connect nature, spaces and interiors with color schemes that signify fresh energy and growth.”  And, although Guilford Green is indeed, quite pretty, green is typically not a color I have chosen for my home in the past. So, what’s a decorator to do if we want to follow the trends but are looking for something a little brighter and more colorful? Well, Sherwin Williams has the answer!

Sherwin Williams 2015 Color of the Year Coral ReefIntroducing Coral Reef,…a vivacious hue, is Sherwin-Williams Color of the Year 2015. Upbeat and optimistic, Coral Reef celebrates a time for renewal and is the perfect mélange of pink, orange and red that can be used to liven up any space. Its unexpected versatility brings life to a range of design aesthetics, whether traditional, vintage, cottage or contemporary. Jackie Jordan, Sherwin-Williams director of color marketing.” 

Well, I do like the idea of being upbeat and optimistic in 2015, but I am not certain that painting a room Coral Reef is gonna get me there. Although being buried under snow in the dead of winter in the Northeast, I could use a little bit of tropical happiness in our home.

Snow Barn Country Design HomeSo, what do you make of these colors? Are any of these one that you would paint in your home, either separately or together (there is a color palette there…) When you are looking to design a room, does the thought “I really should check out the color of the year” come into play before you make a choice? For me, it just doesn’t come down to what a manufacturer suggests should be my color, it all comes down to personal preference. I LOVE color, lots of different colors, and my thoughts regarding my favorite color choices change continuously with my mood or the lighting or one swatch of gorgeous fabric that might catch my eye. Now, I can’t turn around and paint over a room (or can I...) every time I spot a new color that I fall in love with and have to paint immediately. Which is why I started posting my favorite “color of the day” on my Country Design Home Facebook page. (not that anyone actually sees my Facebook page anymore…thanks Facebook.)

Thee Velvet Glove Facebook PageEvery morning, as I scroll through my news feed, I am struck by the ever-changing variety of amazing furniture makeovers, like this gorgeous piece from Thee Velvet Glove, using every color of the rainbow. And if that weren’t enough, there are hundreds of new photos of incredible gardens and colorful vintage kitchens and stunning bedrooms every day, making my daily choice of color an easy one. I just choose, like and share whatever strikes me depending on my mood…Just from doing this over the past few weeks, I have discovered two things: I LOVE pinks and blues…this was my choice a couple of days ago…isn’t it gorgeous!?!? From Vintage and Art Blogspot.

Pink Dresser by Vintage and Artand 2. I’m a sucker for a lost little white puppy in the Budweiser Super Bowl ad.

Budweiser Super Bowl Ad Puppy LoveSo what do you think? Do you have your color of the year? And do you love puppies? Have a super Saturday, everyone. Counting down to the big game!! xoxo Susan

Vintage French Toile Commode DIY

Vintage Rooster Commode Finished TMLately I have been a little obsessed with vintage wallpaper, which I find preferable to work with on my projects rather than printed craft paper. Wallpaper is made from heavier stock which doesn’t tend to tear or buckle, many rolls are pre-pasted and they have a durable finish. Plus, you get a lot of paper on those rolls, which can be a bargain if you can get them cheaply enough.  The grandmother’s cupboard that I featured last week was papered with a vintage check kitchen wallpaper,

Vintage Cupboard Finished Filled with Milk Glassand this week’s Vintage French Toile Commode features a Waverly toile rooster scene wallpaper panel on the door.

Vintage Rooster Commode Wallpapered Door FinishedTrouble is, there aren’t any stores in my area that carry wallpaper in-stock any longer! Wallpaper in general is making a resurgence in home decor, but everything has to be ordered from those little sample books. But that takes days…and when I have that perfect finished piece in my head…I need that paper and I need it now!  The one wallpaper store in my town that had an entire second floor devoted to in-stock wallpaper, literally rows and rows of rolls and rolls…has recently closed : (  So when I started the search for another wallpaper source, I called around all of the paint and decorating shops in my town and the surrounding ones as well. Turns out, it’s not lucrative for shop owners to devote floor space to old wallpaper that they may or may not ever sell.  Until…I happened to be driving past the paint shop in town where I buy all of my Benjamin Moore paints and supplies. I am in there all the time, have looked at their wallpaper books, but never noticed any stacked rolls in the shop. But on a whim I stopped and asked if they did, indeed, have any old rolls hanging around and sure enough…I hit the mother-lode!!

Wallpaper on Furniture In Stock at Stylecraft SupplyThe upstairs room (that clearly is used primarily for storage) was filled with boxes of dusty old rolls of stripes and plaids and toiles and florals…just what I had been searching for. Like a kid in a candy store, I just couldn’t decide on which one to choose, so I bought 5… for $5 per single roll…such a bargain! And then went back a few days later and bought another french toile…but I saw quite a few more that I know I can use somehow…somewhere…sometime…so I’ll definitely be back!

Vintage Wallpaper SelectionThe French inspired yellow commode I finished yesterday while being snowed in was inspired by this Waverly golden yellow toile wallpaper.

French Toile Golden WallpaperThe commode was a dusty, paint-splattered, cracked and dinged old cream-colored painted piece that had seen better days,

Vintage Rooster Commode Beforebut it really just needed a face-lift rather than a full-on makeover. I cleaned it, lightly sanded, repaired and glued the drawers and door, then painted it with two coats of Benjamin Moore Saffron matte finish paint, then dry brushed in a cross pattern with a lighter creamy gold called Putnam Ivory. Dry-brushing just gives the wood color an extra dimension.

Wallpapered Furniture Dry Brushed panelOftentimes when Coach is pickin’ at estate sales, if he sees Ben Moore paint cans for sale he grabs them because he knows that is my paint of choice for our home. These two gallons probably cost a couple of dollars, but well worth the money spent!

Benjamin Moore Matte Finish Putname Ivory and SaffronFor the little door with the large crack in the center panel, I first spackled that to create a smooth bonding surface, then painted over it with the matte paint.

Wallpapered Door BeforeI measured, then cut the toile paper to feature the rooster and chick in the center. This paper was not prepasted, so I used Elmer’s Glue-All to affix it to the door panel.

Wallpapered Funriture Elmer's Glue AllPerfect! Until I went to install the door and realized I had glued the roosters on upside down!

Vintage Rooster Cupboard Wallpaper on Door Upside DownSome wallpapers, like the green check, don’t really have a direction, but these birds would look a little silly standing on their heads in a meadow…So I cut another piece and glued that over the first piece. FAIL.

Vintage Rooster Cupboard Wallpaper Buckled glueApparently paper doesn’t adhere well to paper, and the entire surface buckled. So, I scraped and peeled all of that off

Vintage Rooster Commode Removing Paste from Doorand recut and papered the roosters, this time right side up. A couple of hours of wasted time I’ll never get back…stupid birds. Today’s DIY Tip (I know, you want to take a tip from me, the person who pasted the roosters upside down?!) When you apply wallpaper to furniture or walls, sometimes the paper will bubble up in places and you need to smooth it down to ensure a good bond with the surface. You cannot use a trowel or hard tool because it will scrape and possibly tear the paper. A good trick is to use a roll of painters tape, rolling on its side to smooth out the ripples and bumps. It’s firm enough to allow pressure but won’t harm the surface of the paper.

Wallpaper installation rolling wrinkles with tapeFor the top surface, which I did not dry-brush in the lighter color, I used some of my Americana Paris stencils…

Stencil Secrets Americana Stencils…actually several different ones combined with a cafe and Patisserie theme in the center to create the subtle pattern I was going for,

Vintage Rooster Commode Stenciled French Topthen waxed the entire piece with Americana Creme Wax.

Americana Decor Creme Wax FinishThe wheels on this piece were broken, so I pulled them out and replaced them with modern day leveling slides.

Wallpapered Broken Wheel FeetYou just can’t find those old wheels anymore unless you take them off another piece of furniture or find them on Ebay for a small ransom. The vintage brass hardware was absolutely gorgeous…you just don’t see pieces with this amount of detail…

Wallpapered Furniture Brass Drawer Pull…but one of the drawer pulls was broken…so I replaced it with a similar one from my workshop…the shape is not the same but the style and patina still have that Parisian Flair. So there you have it: a Vintage French Toile Wallpapered Commode.

Vintage Rooster Commode Finished TMThanks to the Blizzard of 2015, and no work yesterday, another furniture restoration complete!  Hope you are having a safe and warm Wednesday, everyone! Susan


Secrets of Successful Stenciling

After I had posted my DIY project of the stenciled Paris hamper last week,

Paris Inspired Painted Hamper Top on Country Design HomeI received many emails regarding my own methods of stenciling. When I write my posts, a lot of times I assume that the folks who are reading them have a good grasp of some DIY how-to details, so I just mention them but skip the gritty details. But, I am discovering that oftentimes they do not quite understand… MY BAD. So, I am happy to share some tips and tricks for a great stenciling project outcome. These are not official or the rules of stenciling, but they are just my own observations and tried-and-true methods following years and years of practice. So here are the tips for my Secrets of Successful Stenciling:

1. You need a good stencil. You can cut them yourself or purchase them online or at your local crafts store. Recently, I have purchased quite a few of these Paris-inspired stencils that I just love.

Paris Inspired Painted Hamper Americana French Typography StencilsThey are a heavy plastic with clean cuts and are incredibly inexpensive compared to many that you might find online. This one was $6.99 but I had a 40% off coupon so it was CHEAP!

Stencil Secrets Americana Stencils2. Your stenciling surface must be clean, smooth with no bumps or holes. It can be painted or stained, but not with a high gloss paint and no shiny finish coat such as wax or polyurethane. My piece is an old cupboard I had painted in a matte Benjamin Moore color called Saffron. Painted it with two coats and allowed to dry.

3. Place the stencil face up on the surface, measuring if you need to do determine the exact placement, then tape it down.

Stenciling Secrets- Taping down the stencilI taped the corners, but if you are a messy painter, then I would tape all of the edges to keep any errant brush strokes or drips off your surface to be stenciled.

4. You need a stencil stippling brush (or whatever you call this kind of brush that is thick and has a blunt surface.) They are available in different sizes, but I typically use a fairly small brush, I find that it helps to control the stenciling process.

Stenciling Secrets Stippling Brush5. Use a matte paint (chalk paint is perfect for this). I have found that this produces the cleanest and sharpest lines on the stenciled surface and it doesn’t “bleed” under the stencil. “Bleeding” is when excess paint sneaks under the stencil and ends up looking like blotches along the edges of the design. Once the bleed happens, you need to stop immediately and remove the stencil and clean the underside of all errant paint blobs with a damp cloth, then allow to dry before you proceed.

6. Put a very small amount of paint into a bowl or non-porous surface. If I am using a small can or jar of paint, I often will shake the paint can, then remove the lid and use the paint on the lid. It is more than enough and provides a flat firm surface to dip your brush.

Stenciling Secrets Paint in Bowl7.  Dip the tip of the brush into the paint to cover just the flat tip.

Stenciling Secrets Paint on Stippling BrushNow here is the important part: take the brush and “pounce” most of the paint off of the brush onto a newspaper.

Stenciling Secrest Removing Paint onto NewspaperThe secret to a perfect stencil application is to have an essentially dry brush when you begin stenciling onto the surface.

8. “Pounce” the surface of your stencil, covering all of the cut outs. Pouncing is when you hold the brush straight up and vertical  to your surface and repeatedly dab it with the tip that has the paint on it.

Stencil Secrets Pouncing the Paint

Click this link for a quick demonstration 

Because you only have a small amount of paint on the brush, this means that the process is tedious and repetitive. As the brush runs dry, you re-dip into the paint, remove most of the paint onto the newspaper, then continue pouncing until the entire stencil surface is covered. If you start to get bored and want to just add more paint on your brush to get the process moving more quickly, DON’T. Just wrap up your brush, cover the paint and walk away and return after you have a cup of tea or watch some HGTV. You can’t hurry this process by globbing paint on the brush…that’s how you end up making a mess.

9. Once you’ve covered all of the design with the paint, lift one corner of your stencil to make sure you are happy with the overall effect.

Stenciling Secrets Lifting Off StencilIf not, then tape it back down and re-pounce over the areas you wish to darken. If so, then carefully lift off the stencil and allow to dry. If you do have any “bleeds”, take a damp Q-tip and clean it up before it dries. If you are adding more designs to your piece, make sure one section is completely dry before starting a new one, or the design will smudge.

Stencil Applied

10. Once your stencil is finished, you can distress it by lightly sanding it. Otherwise just add a coat of wax or your favorite finish. As you can see by the photos, as you continue to use the stencils, the paint will build up on the surface and clog the smaller cuts. I clean mine with a damp paper towel. Don’t rub hard and don’t bend or crease the stencil! Once that happens, its time for a new stencil. So there you go! A hopefully helpful DIY tutorial on the secrets of successful stenciling. Hope you have a successful Monday, everyone! Susan


Paris Inspired Painted Hamper-Ooh La La!

My latest project was a fancy remake of an old wood hamper Coach and I picked up for $3 at a resale shop called Junk In The Trunk-cute name, huh? These wooden hampers were popular back in the olden days and the condition of this one certainly showed its age. But, this was a heavy, solid wood piece with a particle board lined interior with holes for airing out your dirty laundry. A little paint, a little glaze, some stenciling and some burlap…the hamper went from this

Paris Inspired Hamper Top Beforeto this…a Paris Inspired Painted Hamper-Ooh La La!

Paris Inspired Painted Hamper Country Design Home TMHere is the “How-I-Did-It”

1. Cleaned hamper thoroughly, as it had been hanging around outside the shop so it was quite dusty. Fortunately, since it was outside, it didn’t smell musty (also maybe because it has all those vent holes ” ).

French Inspired Hamper Before2. Painted the body of the hamper with two coats of Annie Sloan French Linen

French Inspired Hamper Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

( I mean, really, what else could I use??) a rich, deep neutral color.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint French Linen3. Sanded down the top, it was quite gouged and worn,

French Inspired Hamper Top Beforethen added a coat of gel stain to even out the color.

Paris Inspired Painted Hamper stained top

Allowed to dry. DIY tip: If you have a little “mouse” sander like I do and you’re working in your PJ’s and you run out of the little pre-cut sandpaper and don’t want to get dressed to run to the store to buy another package, here’s a simple and cheap solution. Take any sandpaper, cut to size and just stick on the surface with some duct tape. Doesn’t slide and works perfectly in a pinch.

Mouse sander cut out sandpaper4. Taped off the edges of the top to leave them stained, which created a “frame” for the top stenciled picture. Painted a layer of Folk Art Crackle Medium on top of the gel stain,. Allowed to dry.

Paris Inspired Painted Hamper Folk Art Crackle Medium5. Painted a coat of Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Paint

Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Painton top of the crackle glaze, creating a worn, cracked finish.

Paris Inspired Painted Hamper Crackled Top Finish6. Lightly sanded, then stenciled the top with this Paris stencil from Americana.

Americana Paris French Typography StencilsI used black because I wanted to co-ordinate with the Paris fabric with black images on it. Americana has a whole line of these French Typography stencils which are so pretty!  And sooo much less expensive then the online typography stencils… these are $6.99, and if you happen to have a coupon at Michaels…

Paris Inspired Painted Hamper Americana French Typography Stencils7. Added a coat of Americana Creme Wax in a clear finish to enhance the colors and the wood edge. Allowed to dry, then buffed for a soft, glowing finish.

Americana Decor Creme Wax Finish8. Since I knew I was adding the burlap to the front, I wanted to tone down the gray color of the piece. First I sanded the trim just to distress a bit and enhance some of the tiny brass brads, then added a coat of Americana Creme Wax in a medium brown color.

Americana Creme Wax Medium BrownThis brought out the golden tones which I knew would work well with the burlap. Painted on, wiped away wherever I didn’t want it to stay, allowed to dry. Buffed. HINT: If you put too much on or it starts to dry too quickly, you just take a damp cloth and wipe it off.

9. I found this Crafty Cuts French print burlap at Michaels. 1.5 yards for $9.99, use a coupon= cheap!!!

Crafty Cuts Paris Inspired Burlap MichaelsBefore I cut the burlap, I ironed some fusible backing on to the reverse side. Burlap frays very easily and the more you work with it, the more frayed it becomes. By ironing on the backing, it stops the fraying and keeps the edges clean.

Paris Printed Burlap with Fusible Interfacing and Frayed edgesMake sure when you iron this stuff that you avoid the fusible glue, or else your iron will look like this, and Coach will not be happy when he tries to iron his shirt (yup, Coach does his own ironing : ) Hmmm. Wonder if one of those shirts cost $10…?

Paris Inspired Painted Hamper Dirty Iron10. Measured and cut the two burlap pieces using my rotary cutter and a straight edge.

Paris Inspired Painted Hamper Cutting Tools and BurlapIf you do not have one of these, you need to go get one immediately, along with the cutting board with all the measurements on it. These save a lot of time and effort when you are trying to cut straight lines, whether its for paper or fabric. But not wood, it doesn’t work for wood.

11. I originally tried using decoupage glue to affix the burlap, but it just didn’t stick. Burlap has a rough texture and requires something a little heavier. So I went with Elmer’s Glue-All, which worked beautifully. It does say Glue-All, after all…

Elmer's Glue All on Country Design HomeJust painted on with a small brush, ensuring I coated the edges and corners, because that is where the fabric would be most likely to peel away.

Paris Inspired Painted Hamper painting glue onto wood12. For a finishing touch, I added two old painted brass handles I had on hand. Drilled the holes using a paper template (might as well be a happy template : )

Hardware template with cat faceand then adding the bolts inside to secure. I don’t know about you, but I always seem to be moving my hamper around. These handles make it a little easier, even if its full of laundry!

Paris Inspired Painted Hamper Hardware Installed13. Added feet to the bottom for easy sliding…just flipped the piece upside down and hammered these into place…

Paris Inspired Painted Hamper Hammering in Feetand voila! A lovely Paris Inspired Painted Hamper that would be perfect in any boudoir or dressing room. Time to go do some laundry…

Paris Inspired Painted Hamper Country Design Home TMI hope you have a magnifique Friday everyone!!! Susan

Crown Molding Installation…Kitchen Makeover Redux

Hey, so it’s been awhile since we visited the thrifty transformation of my mom’s kitchen. My last episode of the kitchen makeover saga was the installation of the travertine subway tile backsplash...and that was back in the fall! I’ve been slowly making my way through multiple projects, including transforming a charming bookcase for all of mom’s cookbooks, painting the adjacent dining room, adding a shelf…but mainly I just kept putting off the crown molding installation along the top of the cabinets…because I simply didn’t know how to do it. This is the before picture, with painted and glazed cabinets ready for their crown. They just look so square…

Thrifty Kitchen Makeover Before Crown InstallationI had attempted crown molding cutting in the past, with miserable results. I just couldn’t figure out all the angles…until I found Sawdust Girl on Pinterest!

Crown Molding Illustration via Sawdust Girl

Crown Molding Illustration Courtesy of Sawdust Girl

This tutorial with the photos and graphics is simply the best with the most complete and least confusing instructions for the proper installation of crown molding. My post today is not actually the how-to, I am leaving that to Sawdust Girl to show you the way…to a crowning achievement! I am simply sharing a few do’s and don’ts for your reading pleasure. I downloaded these pics onto my phone for easy reference as I went along. I referred to them continuously while I was trying to figure out which way to mitre and bevel.

Outside right

Crown Molding Outside Right via Sawdust Girl


Outside left cut:

Crown Molding Outside Right via Sawdust Girl

Crown Molding Outside Right via Sawdust Girl

As I was trying to figure out how exactly I was going to find 36.1 and 33.9 for my bevels and miters (kind of sound like I know what I’m talking about, right?), I looked more closely at my Ryobi Miter Saw and lo and behold, the numbers were right there on the saw! With a locking position for each one-woo hoo!

Crown Molding Ryobi Saw Mitre MarksWith a sigh of relief I started my measuring and cutting according to Sawdust Girl’s instructions. It made me feel a little better when I was reading her instructions and she said that she gets confused every time she does these cuts! So, its not just me…

The first cut may be the deepest, but the last cut is the scariest. This is the final cut to the exact measurement of the length of the piece. Fortunately my little Ryobi Miter Saw has a laser beam that helped keep my on the straight and narrow : ) Too bad that laser couldn’t make the cuts as well…

Crown Molding Ryobi Chop Saw Laser Mark

This is the money shot, the one you cannot screw up or you have to start over. Which I did, more than once, despite Sawdust Girl’s best efforts to guide me.

Crown Molding Perfect CutsNOTE: A big DON’T. In the middle of the installation, DO NOT offer to cut some wire flower stems in your little miter saw for your mom’s spring flower arrangement she is working on in another room…because you’re procrastinating and not cutting molding. They will melt and get all twisty and stuck in your saw blade.

Crown Molding Wire Stems Stuck in SawWhich require an hour of your time to take the saw apart and remove the twisty wire.

Crown Molding Twisted and Melted Wire StemsOnce the cuts were made, it was time for the installation. Now, with short pieces, its pretty easy to hold it with one hand and hammer it in with the other as long as you hammer the nail into the trim 1/2 way to get it started. (Well, actually its not that easy, and I am totally getting a nail gun, despite Coach’s fear that I will somehow maim myself with an errant shot.) But with the long pieces, its near impossible to attach one end if the other end it hanging down. Sometimes you just need your mom…to use her fabulous zebra broom stick to hold up the other end while hammer yours into place.

Crown Molding Install Mom holding other endThere…installed crown molding!

Crown Molding InstalledI finished one section, then had to leave for the day. When I returned the next day to finish up, I was delighted to discover that the molding I had installed was still hanging proudly on the cabinet! Yay! I finished the install, using a hefty amount of spackle to fill up those nail holes and even out the corners…which were not quite as perfect as I would have liked. But, hey, that’s why they invented spackle, right? So here is the finished molding, my crowning achievement in the Thrifty Kitchen Makeover, all painted and glazed to match the cabinets. Is it perfect? Heck. no! But it looks great and mom is loving it…and that is all that really matters.

Crown Molding Painted and GlazedA special thanks to Sandra Powel AKA Sawdust Girl , my new DIY BFF, who gave me the courage to make those cuts and finally finish the crown molding installation! Just a few more tweaks and we’ll be ready for the final reveal. Hope you achieve something special today as well! Susan



New Life For An Old Cupboard-Without Paint!

When Coach first acquired this unpainted vintage glass front cupboard, my first inclination was to paint it, distress it and add some new knobs.

Vintage Glass Cupboard Before

But every time I walked past it, for some reason it tugged at my heartstrings just a bit, although I was not sure why. We don’t have anything else like it in our home, and its just a simple little cupboard…one that you would find in your grandmother’s kitchen. And then it hit me…it was reminiscent of my grandmother’s kitchen table…the same wood color, the same glowing finish. So, as an homage to time gone by and Sunday Pot Roast dinners at my grandmother’s house, I decided to clean it up, shine it up and give it new life, but to leave it unpainted. Some old furniture just screams for a coat of paint and some embellishment, but this vintage hutch quietly begged to be restored to its former quaint and simple beauty. It was quite dirty and greasy, so I cleaned it up with some household cleaner. I was left with a rather splotchy finish…it appears that someone along the way decided to add a layer of varnish or stain in a rather streaky fashion. Using some Mastercraft Poly Gel Wipe On Stain,

Vintage Cupboard Mastercraft Wipe On Gel StainI attempted to even out the overall color as best I could. You simply paint or wipe the stain on,

Vintage Cupboard Side Panel Gel Stainlet it sit for a couple of minutes, then wipe it off, leaving as much or as little as you would like.

Vintage Cupboard Front Panel Gel AppliedYou need to work quickly and in small areas, as this stuff gets tacky fast. (It is a bit smelly, so despite the below freezing temps, I had the window open and a fan running continuously.) Once all of the wood was finished, I decided to add some vintage wallpaper to the back of it to add some color…this fresh green check is simple and looks like it could have been in grandma’s vintage kitchen.


Vintage Cupboard Check Paper Background and Drawer LinerI papered the back using decoupage glue…this wallpaper was not pre-pasted, and then followed suit with the drawer as well. The hinges were dirty and in need of some cleaning,

Vintage Cupboard Hinges Varnishedso I left them, along with a bottle of brass cleaner for Coach to use, thinking that would do the trick…until he called me and said it wasn’t working. So I instructed him to try the silver cleaner…again no luck. So I took another look at them, first thinking it was rust and then finally realized that whoever varnished the piece left the hinges in place and varnished right over them! Time for the heavy duty stuff: this LIFT-OFF varnish remover does the trick,

Vintage Cupboard Lift Off Varnish Removerhas very little odor and is water-based…so not too offensive to use indoors. I put the hinges in a metal tin with the remover, waited 20 minutes, scrubbed with a little warm water and an old toothbrush (do you save yours? I always do, just for times like these…,)

Vintage Cupboard Scrubbing Hinge with Toothbrushthen buffed with a bit of steel wool and they were good to go.

Vintage Hinge Buffed with Steel WoolI love the detail on these hinges…very art deco, and matched to top crown of the piece,

Vintage Cupboard Refurbish No Paint Top Crownwhich helps to determine what time period it originated from. There were six rather beat up wood knobs,

Vintage Cupboard Knobs Beforeso I replaced the glass door hardware with some cut glass knobs,

Vintage Glass Front Cupboard with Glass Knobsthen crackled and painted the door and drawer knobs to match the green plaid paper.

Vintage Cupboard Crackled Wood KnobsFinally, I filled the finished piece with some of my milk glass collection…can this be any cuter!?!

Vintage Cupboard Finished Filled with Milk GlassIs the finish perfect? No. I would’ve had to strip the entire piece down and start fresh if that was the look I was hoping to achieve. What I wanted was a fresh piece of furniture that looked as if it had been used and loved and worn, so that it would tug at someone else’s heart strings. Then they would use it for their own collectibles and kitchen wares…and someday their grandchildren would remember it fondly.

Vintage Glass Front Cupboard FinishedBecause, alas, I have no room for it in our home, so this one is in the Barn at Todd Farm if you’re interested in taking a look. Have a fresh new week, everyone! Susan

Wedding Date Chalkboard DIY

If you have been following my blog, you know that 2015 is the “Year of the Wedding” in our family. Our daughter and her fiance have set the date and plans are well under way for what we hope will be a great wedding weekend come this August. Of course, since we are a DIY kind of family, lots of the decor will be created by yours truly, with assistance from our multi-talented family and friends. One of the first things the newly engaged couple did…other than book the venue, the band, the photographer and the florist…and buy a dress, or two…was schedule a photo shoot for their engagement photographs. Since their dog Bartlet is such a big part of their lives, there could be no photos taken without the little guy in tow. The engagement photos are courtesy of Marcy Rolerson Photography and were taken in the North End of Boston.

Bartlet Photo Courtesy of Marcy Rolerson PhotographyMy daughter requested that I create a small sign with the wedding date that she could hang around his neck or attach to his collar, so I created this Wedding Date Chalkboard Sign. It is so simple and makes a really cute addition to the engagement photos, don’t you think?

Wedding Date Chalkboard Marcy Rolerson PhotographyHere is the How-I-Did-It:

1. I found an old chalkboard kicking around my workshop, but you can purchase these at any local crafts store.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Before Sanded EdgesSince Bartlet is mighty in personality but quite small in stature, we had to make sure it was little enough so it wouldn’t hang on the ground once it was attached to his collar. I dry-brushed it white and then sanded the edges, just for a bit of rustic contrast.

2. I created the chalkboard pattern on

Wedding Date Chalkboard Screen ShotThere are a limitless amount of fonts and styles to choose from on this website, typically used for designing labels and cards. Design what you would like, then re-size it to the dimensions of the surface of your chalkboard. Simply print it out on a regular piece of copy paper that has been cut to the size of your chalkboard.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Printed Pattern3. Coat the BACK of the printed paper with the chalk-rubbing with the side of the chalk all over the surface until it is covered.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Coating Reverse Side of Pattern with Chalk4. Place the chalk-covered pattern on the surface you are transferring it onto-tape it down along the edges to secure-then take a sharpened pencil and trace the lines of the pattern onto the chalkboard.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Tracing Pattern with Pencil5. Carefully remove the paper pattern from the board and you will see the transferred pattern, faint but there.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Peeling off Pattern from Chalkboard6. Sharpen your chalk…did you know you can sharpen pieces of chalk with a little pencil sharpener? No? well, now you do!

Wedding Date Chalkboard Sharpening Chalk with pencil sharpening7. Begin tracing the transferred pattern with the chalk, re-sharpening as you go until the entire pattern is clearly defined. Try not to press on the paper other than what you are tracing, otherwise you’ll have more chalk than you bargained for on the chalkboard.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Re-chalking Printed Chalk8. To clean up the edges and smudges, you will need some Q-tips and water.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Q-Tip and Water CleanupJust dip the tip into the water, then squeeze most of it out until it is damp only. Use the dampened tip to wipe away all of the smudges and unwanted lines.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Cleaning up Chalk with damp Q-tip9. I had originally added some side scrolls on the printed pattern, but decided to erase those and add some color instead. That’s the beauty of chalk-simple to erase and start over! So I used some scroll stencils to create the blue side scrolls.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Stenciling Scroll Pattern10. It’s simple to make a perfect dot! Dip the butt end of your paint brush into the paint-just the very tip-

Wedding Date Chalkboard Paint Dot

and then dot it onto the board. The bigger the brush end, the bigger the dot. Makes a perfect circle every time.

Wedding Date Chalkboard Adding Paint Dot Embellishment11. The finished wedding date chalkboard. Now at this point, you have some options. I actually drilled two holes in the top and added the raffia rope for hanging, but you won’t need to do that if you are planning on hanging it on a wall rather than a dog. If you don’t have a drill, you can hot glue the rope or ribbon to the top- this piece is super light-weight so it should be fine.

DIY Wedding Chalkboard By Country Design Home12. Also, if you want this to be permanent, then you would just need to spray it with a light coating of varnish or acrylic finish so it doesn’t smudge or erase. NOTE: You cannot brush on a top coat because it will smear the chalk. Or, you can keep the painted pattern on there and use the chalkboard again (perhaps you could update it each anniversary with a new love message : )

13. So here is Big B with his chalkboard sign attached to his collar. Apparently he was quite the rock star that day and posed perfectly for the camera. Thanks to for the beautiful photographs!

Wedding Date Chalkboard Bartlet with SignAnd we’ll just chalk this one up as wedding project number one-done! Have a terrific Thursday, everyone! Susan

A Bad Case Of…Craftus Interruptus

While searching through my blog for some recent project before and after photos, I realized that I really haven’t posted any DIY projects lately!! What the heck!?! I had been so busy painting and waxing and building in the months leading up to Christmas, I cannot believe I didn’t share any projects with all of you! Well, I went back through my photos albums on my camera and there it was…concrete evidence of…a very bad case of craftus interruptus. Definition: working on but not finishing DIY projects or not taking before and after pics of the DIY projects to blog about. Scattered pics of multiple projects that were in the works simultaneously..the photos were in complete disarray (as was I during the last couple of months).

Array of DIY Photos

And the final blow was that I have a whole bunch of “before” and “during” pictures, but none of the final results! Why?! Primarily because I was working at a feverous pitch to prepare items for the Barn shop and before I could take the final shots, Coach would pack ’em up and bring them up to the Barn…and wham… SOLD! OK, let’s stop right there and say that I am not complaining about that part, just sayin’. So lest you think I have been lazing around doing nothing for the past couple of months except eating Christmas cookies…which I was…I present to you a short journey through my most recent projects. This trio of items: a cane back side chair with a velvet brocade padded seat, the vanity bench with the velvet brocade padded seat and the vintage dresser were all done about the same time. I used Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Paint on all of them. Distressed and waxed, with recovered cushions in this lush fabric, they were a bit hit at the shop!

Annie Sloan Old White Dresser and Vanity Bench

Cane Back Chair Brocade Velvet Seat Annie Sloan Old White Painted an old brown side table

Brown Painted Side Tableand added a crackled and stenciled French Typography top.

Painted Brown Side Table Annie Sloan Old WhiteIt was really cute, I swear!

Brown Side Table Crackled and Stenciled TopApparently there are a lot of Parisian natives around the North Shore, where our shop is. Because no matter what I paint, if it has a Paris graphic on it, it’s SOLD almost immediately.

Annie Sloan Old White Painted Table Top ParisPainted this vintage headboard a beautiful Benjamin Moore shade called Thunder Cloud Gray

Vintage Twin Headboardand added the curved stenciled graphic.

Americana Stencil Fleurs De LisBright yellow spotted leopard before. Weird.

Vintage Headboard BeforeCute little victorian bench with cat fabric. Before, with cats. There is no “after” on this one : ( Actually, I don’t even remember what I recovered it with!

Victorian Cat BenchRooster table made from an old table with legs but no top and a punched tin door panel.

Tin Punched Panel Rooster DoorPainted the table and frame in a mixture of reds I had hanging around.

Mixing Red PaintThen I crackled the frame surrounding the rooster, distressed it and waxed.

Painted and Crackled Rooster TableAttached the punched tin rooster top with some L-brackets.

Vintage Hall Tree.

Pine Hall Tree BeforeThe before was dark brown chunky pine, missing some pegs, pretty scratched and beaten up.

Pine Hall Tree scratched

Painted with Annie Sloan Old White, distressed and waxed. The “after” pic courtesy of The Barn at Todd Farm. (otherwise there would be no after pic!)

Hall Tree in the Barn at Todd FarmI also painted a red step-back cupboard, created quite a few Christmas decorations and managed to repaint a guest room in my son’s apartment, also in that shade of Thunder Cloud Gray (not to be confused with Storm Cloud Gray, I assure you…)

Painted Guest RoomBut from this point forward, I am back on track and snapping away as I go. Wait til you see the crown molding shots coming soon, because believe it or not, I am almost completely finished with mom’s kitchen makeover! I hope you have a completely awesome weekend everyone! Susan

When Is A Clock…Not a Clock?

…when it’s time to make it into a coffee table! A few years ago, my daughter purchased a vintage look clock coffee table at HomeGoods very similar to this one from Goods Home Design.

Coffee Table Goods Home Design

It served her well…for quite awhile…but since she used her coffee table as a TV watching-dining surface, as many of us do, she noticed that crumbs were always getting stuck around the inside edges and the glass was constantly in need of cleaning. So, the clock coffee table was banished to one of the closets in our home where it has remained for quite some time. Whenever I asked her about taking it back to her house, she would state that 1.she really didn’t want to use it as a coffee table any more and 2. she had no room to store it, but 3. to please keep it because “someday” she will need it again…for something. In the closet it sat, until I recently asked if perhaps she would like us to try and sell it up at our shop we have in the old barn at Todd Farm. An idea to which she readily agreed (any little bit helps when paying off monstrous law school loans : ). So, I took it out and cleaned it up with the intent of bringing it up to the barn…but then a funny thing happened. It was Thanksgiving week and I was searching for places to store (actually HIDE) things that were hanging around the house in a hurry and plopped the giant clock (sans legs, of course) onto the mantel in my living room.

Mantel Clock Country Design Home

Where it has remained as the dramatic new focal point of the room. Which no one ever sees because we hardly ever go in there. (Which is why, when I am looking at this pic I realize that the stark white fireplace mantel could use a little TLC…new project : ) So I started looking around the web for other ways to use a clock but not as a clock. And I discovered that clocks, any kind of clocks, can be used in all sorts of imaginative ways. Like this Vintage Christmas Assemblage Clock decoration from

Christmas Assemblage from Joann.comA cool room divider like this one from Nexxt Design…

Clock Room Divider by Nexxt DesignHow about a sleek digital bookcase version from

Digital CLock Bookcase from OhGizmoCan birds tell time? Do they even need to know what time it is?

Clock Birdcage from Mousie MasalaA pillow from Creative with Clay. This might be hard to lean against on a sofa, but at least you’ll know what time it is to stop watching TV and get to work! (Actually, its made out of clay…quite inspired design, I would say : )

Wall Clock Pillow from Creative with Clay

A vintage look table top made from an old clock face from

Clock Table Top from GaryCSharpe via PinterestVintage look Chronograph Drawer Pulls from Anthropologie

Anthopologie Drawer PullsA steampunk loft window in Brooklyn Heights…amazing.

Steampunk Loft Window from Michael R. Davis via PinterestAnd clock dinner plates from Not On The High Street via Pinterest

Clock Dinner Plates from Not On The High Street via Pinterest

If you have a few minutes to spare, check out my Tick Tock Pinterest page with all sorts of amazing time pieces that serve dual purposes. For now, its time for me to get a move on! Have a timeless Tuesday, everyone! Susan

What Would You Change?

It’s New Years Day, 2015. So I figure this is a good time to change a few things around here. Freshen up, clean out, add and subtract and shuffle around a few things in our home; this is the best part about home ownership. If I want to paint my room with pastel polka dots…I can. Not that I would, but this person from Home Design Inspirations did and look how cute!

Home Design Inspirations Polka Dot RoomOne of the fun parts of design blogging is that readers will often reach out for decorating ideas or DIY dilemma solutions because they know I might be able to help or offer suggestions. Oftentimes on my Facebook Country Design Home page, bloggers and companies will post a pic of some room or decor with a caption that reads: “if you could change something”, or “do you like this”, “are these lamps too big” or something along those lines. Sometimes I respond, sometimes I share them and check out what other people have to say about a particular style or space. I know what I like, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world shares my country style and design aesthetic. Typically, a few people might respond and share the pic and we all move on. So, the other day, when I spotted this photo from Architectural Digest that came across my feed from Lamps Plus with the caption: “The first thing you would change in this living room is___________________”, I decided to share it on my Facebook page.

Peter Marino Living Room Fireplace ViewWhy? 1. because I thought it was very eclectic & interesting and 2. there were many parts of it that I personally didn’t care for, but a lot that I really liked, but I was curious what other people thought. Well, imagine my surprise when it reached well over 1000 views and garnered loads of comments!! Most of the comments were fairly negative (I did ask people to play nice : ) but many offered some constructive criticism such as painting the walls, removing the green couches, paint the fireplace mantel (I think that’s marble, so a no-go there), taking the box of Evian water off the modern coffee table…which they also did not like.  So I searched online for the origins of the room, which I traced back to internationally acclaimed Architect Peter Marino,  whose work was in the home of Muffy and Xavier Flouret in the Upper East Side of Manhattan and featured in Architectural Digest. According to the article, Muffy’s instructions were: “Let’s do it stylish, original, fun.” Which is exactly what the homeowners got: it’s fun, eclectic and every item in this room is an absolute conversation starter! On the AD website, I  discovered additional photographs of the same room, and this one in particular with a full view of the entire space.

Peter Marino Living Room AD 2012To me, the one piece that anchors the room is the large painting on the far wall that clearly inspired the color palette in the furnishings, wall color and accessories. So I posted the new pic, which again created another firestorm of activity; all told, between the two pics, we are presently at 2300+ views and 90 comments!  Now, everyone knows that I am a huge fan of color…the more the better…and even here I think it could work. But its the clashing patterns everywhere that are throwing me off. I re-imagined that if this were my room, (if I were so fortunate to have an apartment on the Upper East Side…) I’d keep the green and orange sofas ( I love those!), remove the brocade wallpaper and repaint the walls a creamy gold. Also replace the plaid drapes with a soft drapey silk, keeping the coffee table but recovering the top to remove the primary color splashes and change the artwork on the fireplace wall to more proportional pieces that don’t compete so much with the brown marble swirls. And that all made sense to me, which again is just my personal opinion. But THEN, I discovered the third photo, from the opposite vantage point of the fireplace. With the cool gigantic black & white cow painting by Donald Baechler. 

Peter Marino Design AD 2012 Living RoomAnd now I am at a crossroads about the space, so I am curious as to what you all think? Love the couches? Or not? Love the big fruit painting? The coffee table? The artwork? Why or why not? And how about that cow? Did the designer accomplish his goals for the homeowner: “stylish, original, fun” ? Remember to play nice and offer good advice: this is an exercise in constructive design choices : ) Hope your 2015 is off to a fun and stylish year!! Susan

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