Yard Sale Treasures

Scored some more pieces for my plate rack project- unveiling tomorrow!!

Shut the Front Door!

Over the past 20+ years, I have had the great good fortune to spend “mother’s weekends” with some of my dearest friends. Shopping, sipping martinis and just catching our collective breath from the stresses of daily life, these weekends are a way to relax and reconnect with some of the women in my life whose friendships I treasure deeply.  We have hit the beaches on Cape Cod & Martha’s Vineyard ridden horseback in New Hampshire, Relayed for Life in Washington DC,

and shopped to our hearts content in FloridaA few years ago, as a special Mother’s Day adventure, we jetted across the pond for a long weekend in Dublin, Ireland. We spent our days walking, talking and

enjoying the beautiful scenery that is uniquely Ireland. Colorful gardens

lush greeneryand ancient architecture at every turn. Strolling the streets and neighborhoods of Dublin, you can’t help but notice all of the colorful, welcoming front doors. Although the stone and brick exteriors are similar, the front doors make each home unique and so inviting! Bought this poster, hoping to be inspired with my own front door! So, that hasn’t happened…But, as I was making a trip to Home Depot the other day (you didn’t think the plate rack project was going to go smoothly, did you?) I came upon this inspired house with the beautiful pink front door! Doesn’t this just say “Welcome to our home-come on in and have a cuppa tea?!” Unusual in this part of the country-New Englanders tend to be a bit more staid and safe with color. What I have noticed is that most homes are still under “winter wraps”, just waiting for the springs blossoms to start primping their homes.  But, I took a drive around town and found some pretty inspired entry ways! Some homes are old, like this yellow victorian, some are bold some are newly renovated some just say “welcome home”. So I was merrily making my way around town, hopping in and out of the car, snapping shots along the way, until I noticed a police cruiser passing around the corner, and then the next corner, and then the next. I didn’t get stopped, but clearly someone dropped a dime, thinking that a middle-aged blogger in a Honda CRV could be casing the joints. I guess I will stick to Google images from now on.

Happy Primping! Susan

Hall of Shame-Color Splash!

Saw this poster on Pinterest and LOL. It should say Attention Decorating Disorder! When I am in “home improvement” mode, I move from room to room making mental notes of everything that needs to get done immediately. So I wonder why projects never really get done?!? During the plate rack project this weekend, as I was flitting around town rummaging through antique shops and junk sales, I figured I should stop and get the paint for the hall of shame project at my local Benjamin Moore store. I had definitely decided on the trim color: Snowfall White.

For years I have been mixing  White Dove and Linen White together to create what I thought was the perfect white-creamy white with slightly gray undertones. But, mixing two quarts is quite a bit pricier than purchasing pre-mixed by the gallon. And, who was I to mess with the Benjamin Moore’s color gods?!? So I finally went through all the white chips and found Snowfall White. I believe it is the closest in tone and shade to my self-blended color. 1 gallon please. Smoke was the color I chose for the walls. The description is: “A subtle, sophisticated grey that infuses a space with a sense of comfort and contemporary style.” And, it is part of Candace Olson’s Designer Picks Collection! Loving that! But just not 100% sure, so I only got a quart. In a moment of inspiration, (while I was putting off hanging the plate rack) I decided to just “try a little on a wall to make sure I like it before I do the whole thing and then regret it”. No prep, no drop cloths, no painting clothes. You can guess the rest. I was happily painting away, got distracted (I don’t know, something sparkly?) and dropped the whole freaking can!

Not only did it splatter all over the hall- and me, it made its way into the living and the dining room- thankfully my new beautiful rug was spared! Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to grab the camera- had to work fast! The next 1/2 hour was spent scrubbing and cleaning (almost all) the paint out of all the cracks and crevices, off the floor and trim,all the while keeping Daisy out of the way. Don’t need “Smoke” pawprints running through the house.

Rugs were hosed down in the yard, clothing discarded and paint scooped back into the can. At $18 per quart, I wanted to salvage what I could! So the end result is: 1. I do like the paint color and will go back and get a gallon. 2. Now I have to sand and restain the two thresholds leading into the hallway-more work for the weary 3. Time to go hang the plate rack!!!

Happy Painting! Susan 

Styling Your PureHome

Just came across this amazing website, so I’d like to share:

pure home: create. inspire. shop. connect

If you are looking to redecorate a room, or just interested in defining your design style, this is the website for you! It is so user-friendly, allows you to choose colors, furniture styles or entire decorating palettes, and then shop for them as well. Once you have created your new room, you can share it with the world. And it’s free!

And for daily color inspiration, check out their blog as well.


Have a great Friday everyone! Susan

I’ve Got a Little Crush

I’ve got a little crush on the color orange. Since childhood, Orange Crush has always been a favorite beverage. Orange makes me think of summer treats, sunsets on the Vineyard

and rustic European architectureI recently received a Crate and Barrel email featuring orange as a “secret garden oasis” color (and who does seasonal pops of color better than Crate and Barrel?!)

Orange can be funky and fun

Or dramatic and sexy

Loving the look of Pantone’s 2012 Color of the year:

Tangerine Tango

and Benjamin Moore’s Fiery Sunset

For a trip down memory lane, remember those original Howard Johnsons? Orange rooftops and aqua signs dotting the landscape. Unmistakeable and unforgettable. The perfect color palette for a restaurant! While orange is thought to increase the appetite, blue is a calming color. So sit and relax and have something to eat. Sounds like great marketing to me!

Decorating with orange is daring and certainly makes a statement. Paired with shades of blue, its complement on the color wheel, the results can be bold and dramatic

Soft and welcoming

Or vintage charming    

Used sparingly, orange still makes a statement in any space

Or you can go for it with full-on bold!! Any way you slice it, orange is the “it” color for this spring and summer.  Enjoy!! Susan

“Ay, there’s the rug…”

A beautiful rug can be the foundation of any space. Whether a dreamy white shag an heirloom persian passed down through generations or a modern version of an old classic, rugs can set the tone and color scheme of a room and transform a space from dark and dreary to fabulous and fun. There is no easier way to change the feel of a room than adding or changing a rug. The rules are simple, if you love it, use it. An antique oriental goes perfectly in modern decor, and a modern chevron looks perfectly at home in an eclectic, vibrant space.

We recently had the good fortune to purchase 2 new rugs for our home. The first is our new dining room rug, replacing the one that is now in our living room. (see decorating dominoes) Vibrant red and white, classic in style but modern in design, it instantly updated our dining room, creating a focal point that no one can miss!  LOVE!! So imagine my delight when a few weeks after installing this beauty in our dining room, it was featured in an HGTV episode of Color Splash! For those of you who are not familiar with delightfully talented David Bromstad’s design show, color- and loads of it-is his style. A man after my own heart.

In this episode, the makeover inspiration was an old winery. David used two rugs together to define a really large space, with loads of dark, rustic elements.

Even more delighted to discover that I had paid significantly less for my rug on RugsUSA than HGTV listed as the price from their sources. It definitely pays to be a bargain shopper : )

The newest addition to our family room decor is this amazing Zamin rug purchased from Manzel Interiors. This Danvers, Massachusetts store is chock full of hand-made rugs, furniture, architecture and accessories from Persia and India at fantastic prices.

 The description of our rug: “Zamin means earth or land in Persian or Hindi, and Zamin carpets are truly carpets of the earth. They are woven in India in villages in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh. They are thick dense carpets, where all the weight of the carpet is in the heavy, beaten wool pile, much like an old Persian Bidjar. The vegetable dye colours are rich and saturated. The best, longest staple new Zealand wool is used, which is hand spun. Vegetable dye stuff are collected from throughout india and Nepal. Zamin designs favour the more primitive, such as Gabbeh designs, but include contemporary experimental designs classical Persian designs.”

The rug is plush and soft, the colors deep and rich, striated blues and reds. The pattern is simple but tells a story, typical of a primitive village rug. It is now in our family room, the heart of our home. When you wander in through the back door, as all of our friends and family do, this little girl and her Llamas are poised to welcome you! As I continue to share with  you more of my home, I hope that you will feel welcome too! Have a non-scary Friday the 13th… Susan

Spring Stylings for the Mantel

I know you are anxiously awaiting the results of the Hall of Shame project, but that is still ongoing, and clearly will take longer than I first anticipated. In the meantime, I thought I would share some other design changes happening in my Little Red House.

The family room was in desperate need of a spring overhaul.  Added a creamy slipcover to the sofa, a new tribal rug for the floor, changed out the curtains and added a fresh spring face to the focal point of the room- the fireplace mantel. 

I find fireplace mantels, in general, to be a tricky design challenge. Whether you are using your mantel to display your prized posessions

or using mirrors for drama

or to stylishly decorate a flat-screen TVt

or to warm up an outdoor space-wow!!!

the scale has to be correct (2-story rooms require LARGE design!!and the overall effect should reflect the room decor

So I did some online shopping on Houzz.com and Pinterest to see how other folks are decorating their focal points. I found some eclectic and amazing ideas, including using mantels as headboards and barn doors to hide TV’s

If you need more ideas, or just some Mantel Inspiration, click here. Time to start sanding again… Susan

Sleep is Overrated…

Sleep eludes me tonight. The full moon, the wine with dinner? Perhaps. But since 3am I have been wide awake and thinking about all the things on my Easter “to-do” list (see Hall of Shame #5) that are still not done.

The hall is a mess, to put it bluntly. Since my last post, sanding the bannister has been an ongoing and endless grind. Won’t be done by Sunday. C’est La Vie. One of the things I love most about my family is that there are no pretenses. If they arrive on Sunday to a wall with taped up paint chips and wallpaper, the reaction will be “hey, doing another project, huh? Are there margaritas?”So no worries there.

Since sleeping was no longer an option, getting to work seemed the next best thing. So I did a load of laundry, added a slipcover to the sofa and re-hung some curtain panels in the family room. Time to lighten and freshen the family room decor for spring! Painted the first coat of Linen White to a mirror I am re-purposing. Emptied and filled the dishwasher and defrosted the turkey I will be roasting in the morning (I guess that means now). Filled the candy dishes with pastelly eggs and peanut butter cups. Is there anything prettier than Easter Candy?!

Sunday’s Easter celebration will be an open house buffet, so started looking at Pinterest to get some decorating ideas. Stunning! Too bad I don’t have a long white antique table. Or crystal chandeliers. Or lilacs. But I do have a stepladder I could prop.Who wouldn’t want a bunny bread belly filled with dip?

Rest assured that I will not be making brussel sprout trees.

Wish I had thought of this before. Perhaps it’s time for another  trip to Iparty! I wonder what time they open…

The Hall of Shame Updated!

Since I wrote my last blog “The Hall of Shame” on Sunday, I vowed to focus my energies on my current project, hoping to have it completed by Easter Sunday. Soooo, that hasn’t happened. While working on this project was my top priority, I also had to work, take Daisy to the vet,

walk the lake, make repeated trips to the paint store, Home Depot, the bank, HomeGoods, blah, blah blah. So here it is Wednesday, and although the progress is intermittent and the pace is slow, things are coming along. Of my to-do list that I posted, the accomplishments thus far are:

1. “Make a Menu” Done. Menu created for Easter dinner, shopping list made, email invites sent. Casual attire, bunny ears optional.

2. “Re-paint and wallpaper something” I began the wallpaper stripping, the puttying, the sanding and general prep work to complete the transformation successfully. Can I tell you how much I hate prep work!?! The walls below the chair rail were covered in wallpaper- 3 layers deep, my doing, that I decided to remove to start with a clean slate. Using my handy Wagner 905 Power Steamer made this job a bit easier. It’s an all-purpose steamer that I use everywhere in my house to clean and sterilize without any chemicals! Along with a spray bottle filled with Vinegar, Dove dish soap and hot water, the stripping took approximately 4 exhausting hours. Puttyed and sanded all the holes, dings and scrapes. I typically use these sanding sponges because they fit into small corners and cracks, and you can rinse and re-use them. And this is the putty-Drydex. It is creamy pink before you apply it and turns white when dry. And I love pink!

And then came the bannister and railing. Curvy and dark, very beautiful, with 150 year old varnish that is virtually impossible to remove. The remaining progress has come to a screeching halt as I work my way slowly up the railing. I may hand everyone a sanding sponge on Sunday- do you think they will work for Peeps?

3. “Clean out and mulch the garden”  (No, this isn’t my garden, it’s Monet’s in Giverny, France. A girl can dream, can’t she?

Ok, well I hired someone to do the front part. He only did half and hasn’t come back to finish. Not gonna name names, yet. During the great stretch of weather we had a couple of weeks ago, I started raking down in the “back 40”.  Kept looking at the white picket fence and thought that it needed a nice new coat of paint. So I started painting that, and then I ran out of paint. Where’s Tom Sawyer when you need him? So I haven’t finished raking. Or mulching. Or painting.

4. “Wash all the windows” Haven’t finished yet, but I did make a great head start using this crazy “As Seen On TV” “Streak-Less Microfiber Cloth” that someone just gave me! You wet it and wipe the windows-no cleaners required and guaranteed not to streak! Guess what?!? It works!!! It only takes seconds to wipe each window, even the one’s with Daisy’s nose prints all over them. When the cloth gets dirty you wash it and keep using it. Crazy stuff. Too bad it won’t remove varnish from the railings…

5. “Buy a Ham” Hubby does the shopping. It’s on the list. He just asked me what size ham- the size of a football or a basketball? 

So there’s the update. I have four days left. Wish me luck.

The Hall of Shame

With Easter coming up next week, it’s time to make my “to-do” list, since we will be hosting the family celebration at our home. Typically, prior to most holidays, my lists look something like this:

1. Make a menu (this one’s not mine, but it looks good!)

2. Re-paint and wallpaper “something”- in this case, the front hall.

3. Clean out and mulch the garden. 4. Wash all the windows.

4. Buy a ham.

5. The night before- prepare the side dishes and desserts, clean the house, set the table, create some fabulous decorations for the holiday.

For some reason, it never occurs to me to NOT do a full-on reno project right before a holiday. So many times, with the deadline looming, the projects are not fully completed, or don’t get done properly. New wallpaper slapped over older wallpaper that never gets stripped, paint only gets one coat, the surfaces not properly prepped and sanded.

On several episodes of Modern Family, Phil Dunphy makes a mad dash up his stairs, tripping halfway up on a loose stair tread. As he mutters “I’ve got to fix that thing”, I think of our front hall. We use it 100 times a day, but at some point, we just stopped seeing it- the scraped walls, the torn wallpaper, the threadbare carpet.

Our “Hall of Shame” is like poor, overworked Cinderella. With some loving care and a glass slipper, it could be the Belle of the Ball, but right now it is the ugly stepsister. It was updated back in the 80’s, with cherry burgundy carpeting that is now thread-bare and worn from years of kids’ cleats and muddy paws. The floor is stick-on faux marble black and white check, with most of the ends curling up. The wallpaper has been changed a couple of times, but always with a nod to the horrible carpet. The bannister and railings? Well, they have been sanded and sanded and stripped and sanded some more, but never completed. I spent one whole summer stripping the paint off of the stair treads, only to find that that the wood was so worn, I went ahead and repainted them. BIG mistake!

So this time I started a week early-lol! But this time I am going to take my time and do it right, from the ceiling to the floor, both upstairs and down. I am creating my “mood board”, choosing my colors thoughtfully and adding the accessories carefully. As this week goes on, I will keep you updated on my progress. And if it is not done by Easter Sunday, so be it.

Hopefully, for my guests it will conjur up lovely images of faraway rustic Italy. I will just pour some wine, carve the ham and no one will even notice my latest work in progress. It’s gonna be a long week…

Happy Renovating! Susan

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