It’s A Sign…

Coach and I have been very, very busy- while he’s been cleaning out his stall in the Barn at Todd Farm and finding new homes for his “junque”, (more about that later) I have been working on my block-printed signs.

Holiday Signs Country Design Home

I have shared them on my Facebook Country Design Home and Instagram pages (NOT the actual DIY instructions, because that’s my secret : ) The signs are completely hand-crafted, by me, and are built using the reclaimed wood from antique crates used by a c.1800’s Boston shoe company.

Allen Shoe Co Boston Crate

Coach pulls them apart, then I get to work painting, sanding, cutting and framing each sign. Last week, I even shared my first nail-gun misadventure, which resulted in a slight, but painful puncture wound : 0  I do have a sampling of them at our shop in the Barn at Todd Farm, but if you are interested in one of my signs, just don’t happen to fancy shopping in an unheated barn, I have some great news! My signs are now being offered in three local shops on the North Shore!

The first is a pop-up holiday shop in Ipswich, Ma. The 4 Elm Street Holiday Market opened on November 17th and features local and imported gifts and home décor by Hutton Home Design. It is open now through Christmas.

4 Elm Holiday Market

The second shop is The Brass Monkey in Gloucester, MA. An expansive, beautiful gift shop filled with unique gifts, jewelry, clothing and home décor, both antique and new. And of course, now bursting with Christmas JOY!

The Brass Monkey.jpgFinally, The Tin Bucket in Reading is a warm and cozy shop that offers lots of sweet, unique, one-of-a kind gifts and fresh home décor items. But, they are not just a retail shop-they also offer classes and craft parties for adults and children! They are carrying a selection of Coach’s antique maps as well-a perfect gift for someone special!

The Tin Bucket ReadingSo, if skipping the mall is your thing and you’d like to find the perfect gift for under your Christmas tree (like a rustic, hand-painted sign, perhaps!?!?), take a ride and check out these lovely shops. And tell them that Sue from Country Design Home sent you!! Hope you have a shop-a-rific Saturday everyone!! Susan xoxo


Lights, Camera,!

Howdy, everyone- happy almost fall! A few weeks ago I received an email from the good folks at (yup, that, the one that has just what you need : ). They had seen my giant bedspring marquee light board that I had built ( the one that ended up on a Times Square billboard)

Rusty Bedspring Marquee Signand were asking permission to use it in an article they were featuring on their website! Well, that’s pretty exciting, but what do you suppose Wayfair would want with my old rusty bedspring light? Turns out that the content director was writing a piece on recycling old used mattresses and thought my rusty bedsprings would be a fun addition to the story- oh, JOY!!

Joy Rusted Bedspring Marquee SignDid you know that mattresses are completely recyclable-well, I had no idea!! According to the Wayfair article, over 20 million mattresses are sent to trash dumps every year, where they will essentially sit and rot for eternity because they are not bio-degradable. Sadly, the reality is that the padding, cotton fabric coverings, metal and wood components are all recyclable materials, if only folks knew how or where to dispose of them. Click on the link below to read the story and get ideas on what to do with your old used mattresses, doing your little part to save our planet : ) Recycle Mattress

Make sure you check out their few other photos of old, re-used bedsprings that you can use as inspiration! Have a great Labor Day, everyone! Susan xoxo

We’ve Moved! (but not far…)

This past couple of months, Coach and I have been working really hard to create a new fresh look for our space in the Barn at Todd Farm. Well, actually, its my new space…but I didn’t move far- just across the aisle! Our friends and barn co-inhabitants from The Laughing Cottage moved down to the front entrance of the barn, leaving their space available. So, Coach and I decided that because of its size and orientation (it is wide rather than deep) it made sense for me to make the move to give us a lot more wall space to hang our artwork and decorative stuff. We moved into a blank slate, basically plywood walls and floors, and set out to create a warm and welcoming space with a slightly nautical theme. We painted the back chipwood wall, first with an undercoat of white,

Barn Booth painted wall

and then I dry-brushed over it in shades of grays and blues. (woops, I forgot to take the after picture, but if you look real close behind the whales, you can see the finished wall).

Barn Booth Back Wall Styled

The bookcase wall, which had been covered with rustic shutters, took on a mid-century modern look once I painted random squares with pops of color and stained the rest.

Barn Booth Painted Shelving

Then, we filled it with all sorts of curated items, hung a ladder and some fish net and patio lights for ambiance. So cute!

Barn Booth Bookcase Wall Lights

Then, the floor! Well, what was once a dusty, plain brown plywood

Barn Booth Plywood Plank Flooring

is now a striped and stenciled masterpiece that continually draws customers’ attention and comments-who just love it!

Barn Booth Old Trunk

The painted floor stripes were simple to do-measured, then taped off, followed by painting alternating stripes of General Finishes Milk Paint in Coastal and Federal Blue. You can see in the photo below that I did create more of a paint-washed look rather than a solid color. I wanted it to look old and worn, not shiny and new, so I used a brush rather than a roller- an arduous task, but worthwhile in the end.

Barn Booth Painted Stripe Flooring

By the time I was finished with the stripes, they were already dry and ready for the stencils! I created a large pattern on my handy-dandy Cricut machine and cut it-so large, that I had to piece it together with tape!

Barn Booth Cut Stencil

Stenciling was done with a large sponge and some random acrylic paint I mixed together in a pale chartreuse.

Barn Booth Spacing Stencils

Spacing was a bit tricky- I started in the middle in front of the beam (which I thought was centered, but not quite) and worked to the left and right. Along the way, I gave up the measuring tape and just eyeballed it to make sure I could fit it all in. As is sometimes the case (but not always), the stenciled design fit perfectly! So now my space is filled with pieces that I have refurbished and lots of cool junk that Coach has picked along the way. Actually, quite a few of these pieces sold on our flea market opening day this past Sunday- but there are plenty more where those came from!

Barn Booth Styled

If you haven’t been up in awhile, or have never been to The Barn at Todd Farm, come on up and visit us in our sweet new space.

Barn Booth Bookcase Wall

(and Coach is now in my old space with the rusty bedspring light)- with a new name- American Vintage GoodsRusty Bedspring Marquee Light In Shop PM

So stop on by and say Hi!! And have a wonderful (albeit WET) Wednesday! Susan xoxo

Change is Good…Right?

Hi everyone! There are some big changes in the works here at Country Design Home. Over the next few days, we are changing host servers to (hopefully) improve this blog and allow us to do bigger and better things for you! For the past two years, this blog has lived on and we will be changing to Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? But there is a lot more to it than you would think, so I am sweating this one out until the deed is done. That being said, this blog URL will no longer be functional for this site and those of you who are followers of my site will be redirected to the new and improved blog in the days ahead. Well, that’s what is supposed to happen, but we’ll see once the internet gods take over and make the change. Gulp…

So I am signing off for now, and will be back soon with a new look and a new outlook on Country Design Home! See you on the flip side!


The Dangers of DIY

When doing any DIY project, there is always an inherent danger in using a table saw or a razor blade improperly,

Stitched up Thumb

or even using a large, unsecured pineapple that could hit you in the head and give you a concussion.

Williamsburg Apple Fan Holiday DecorationOr even this: fortunately, I realized I had dipped my paintbrush in my coffee before I took another sip. In my defense, the coffee and the paint were almost exactly the same color…

Paintbrush in Coffee CupBut recently, I came across this “Pin” for a collapsible spray painting tent made with PVC pipes and disposable clear plastic drop cloths from the DIY blog Makely School for Girls that gave me pause…

Makely Collapsible Spray TentWhat a great idea to be able to set up an enclosed area where you can spray, and then break it down and get it out of the way, right?! If you look closely at the tent, it is completely sealed on all sides, except for the double-draped opening.  Which is the intention, after all, to contain the spray to a confined area, but clearly you also have to be inside the sealed tent while spraying. Now, on this blog, called Makely School for Girls (so adorable!) the writer repeatedly cautions everyone about being properly protected from fumes and spray, encouraging, no, demanding that anyone who builds and uses this tent must wear proper protective clothing to cover her/him AND a respirator (NOT one of those little surgical masks either-we are talking the big mask with an air vent-like this 3M Tekk Protection Demolition one from Home Depot.

3M Respirator Mask @ Home Depot

(Imagine that $24.97 is all it takes to keep you safe from harmful fumes!)  In this post, the blogger, Lindsay Ballard’s cautions:

“*****IMPORTANT!  I also need to say that you MUST wear a respirator when you are in the tent.  MUST, MUST, MUST.  If you go in there without one, I’ll drive to your house and give you a stern talking to.  And no, those little paper masks just won’t work.  You should ALWAYS use a respirator for your projects if there’s any chance that some harmful particles (paint, wood sand, metal etc) will be in the air.  Don’t make me hunt you down.  Because I will.  And I can be mean.  Not really, but seriously.  My granddaddy was a machinist and we are certain that the metal dust is what caused his lung disease. I also recommend wearing safety glasses (which you should be wearing anyway when you spray paint), nitrile/latex gloves and long sleeves/pants when you go in there (so you won’t be covered in a fine mist of paint yourself).”

Kudos to the author for stressing the importance of proper protection and educating us all about the dangers of spray painting in an enclosed space. BUT, I know, myself, (and I am sure that there are many, many more guilty DIY’ers out there), and I might just be tempted to jump in there and spray one little thing without being hazmatted up.

Cordova Defender Hazmat Suit Home Depot

Cordova Defender ll Microporous Suit from Home Depot

Because even now I sometimes just grab a can of spray adhesive or paint while working in my (essentially unvented) basement workshop and think, “oh, it’s just this little bit, It will be fine.” Well, its not, folks. Not in the least. These companies are putting the warnings on their products for a reason! Just for my own FYI, I grabbed a few of my favorite products that I use on a daily basis in my workshop and was astounded at the levels of toxicity present in so many cans and bottles of goop and spray and paints that I thought were completely safe!! Here are just a few samples- this one is from a little pot of latex paint. It contains Ethylene Glycol– the chemical they use to make anti-freeze & airplane de-icer . According to eHow: Ethylene Glycol is a colorless, odorless synthetic liquid substance used to make antifreeze and for de-icing airplanes and runways. Ethylene glycol breaks down in the body, producing poisons that can damage the brain, heart and kidneys. Even with medical treatment, swallowing antifreeze is often fatal. Read more:

 Paint Pot Warning Label

Now clearly, I am not going to drink the stuff, unless, of course I happen to dip my paintbrush in it by mistake. But, breathing in stuff can be just as harmful. This is from my favorite spray adhesive:

Spray Adhesive Warning LabelProbably not the best decision to have a portable space heater right next to my work table… This label is from a popular brand of chalk paint:

Chalk Paint Can WarningAnd this one is from a can of furniture refinisher that I like to use:

Furniture Refinisher LabelAnd this one from my “odorless mineral spirits” that I sometimes use to clean up brushes:

Mineral Spirits Label

And finally this bottle of a cleaner/degreaser that I got at a natural food store to transfer prints onto wood. I saw this on a DIY show where the host actually put her nose to the bottle and took a deep breath to illustrate how non-toxic and great-smelling and harmless this stuff was! Yikes!

Citrisolv CleanerI looked up some of the ingredients on the above labels and this one scared the crap out of me!! Toluene: Toluene is primarily used as an octane-boosting additive to gasoline. It is also used as a solvent in paints, household aerosols, adhesives, solvent-based cleaning agents, and synthetic fragrances.
Read more: According to Wikipedia: “Inhalation of toluene in low to moderate levels can cause tiredness, confusion, weakness, drunken-type actions, memory loss, nausea, loss of appetite, and hearing and color vision loss. These symptoms usually disappear when exposure is stopped. Inhaling high levels of toluene in a short time may cause light-headedness, nausea, or sleepiness. It can also cause unconsciousness, and even death.” 
On top of that, I started thinking about all of the old furniture I have been working on, sanding and releasing particles into the air-that I am breathing in without a mask-that could very well be mold, old toxic chemicals and even lead paint. If you notice, all of the above labels contain warnings about making sure that your work area is properly ventilated, and the importance of wearing protective masks and clothing.

Dangers poisonSo, enough label reading, time for action! What’s a DIY’er to do if you don’t have a vented workshop or an outdoor space you can use year-round? Well, for myself, a few decisions have been made and are being implemented immediately. No more spray painting or sanding or gluing in the basement, PERIOD. Until spring, when I can set up shop outdoors again, (at which time I may entertain the idea of a collapsible painting tent ala the Makely School for Girls project, because that is AWESOME : ) I am temporarily going to roll up the oriental rug and move my workshop to our upstairs living room (which is quite lovely, but essentially gets used once a year, on Thanksgiving. Hopefully, by then I will be moved out of our house and into a nice, open studio or workshop.)

Living Room Fireplace PMThis parlor has high ceilings, 4 windows for ventilation and a fake fireplace for a little ambiance : ). Electric sanding will be done outdoors, regardless of the temperature, and masks and gloves on from now on! Just out of curiosity, where do all of you DIY’ers do your painting, sanding and staining? Do you have the luxury of a beautiful, vented and well-lit workshop? Do you have any suggestions on the best place to DIY? And, on that note, gotta head to Home Depot  to pick up my mask and gloves. I suggest, if you are planning on doing any future painting, gluing, sanding or staining DIY projects, that you do the same. Have a happy and non-toxic Sunday, everyone! Susan

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