Lookin’ Back & Forward

This past year, Coach and I decided to fulfill a long-time dream to purchase a vacation place. Somewhere other than home…to call home. We discovered our dream cottage by happenstance…one of those “I think I saw these online…lets just go take a look” moments that turned into a reality. We packed up a truck and moved into new our digs this past June…

moving day cacpand began implementing a design plan that I had been “Pinning” for months on end. The cottage was a blank slate, painted throughout in a pale gray color called “Reflection”…soft and serene and inspired by the colors of the natural beauty that surrounds us in Maine.

rainbows and hydrangeas cacpOver the past 6 months, I have done my best to transform that blank slate into a warm and welcoming landing spot for family and friends, using the stunning coastline as my color inspiration.

biddeford pool coastlineI recall that when we were in our initial discussions about how to decorate, Coach lamented that we would have to spend $50K to furnish a three bedroom home. But, I am here to tell you that it is simply not the case! Yes, we have purchased a few brand new things, ie: a super comfy sofa…

view from the study cacpprivacy window blinds, the mattresses and all of the bedding (because, yuck : ) and a couple of accent pieces. But the majority of the decorating has been accomplished using cast-offs, inherited treasures…and LOTS of flea market finds that I have reused, repaired and refurbished…for thousands less than if we had gone to a furniture store and purchased everything off of a show room floor! Although it is still a work in progress, we are closed up for the winter now…so its time to reflect back and see what has been accomplished and what is left to be done. I don’t really have a lot of dramatic “before” pics, although this was the living/dining/kitchen area during construction…not much to see here, folks!

cottage kitchenSo I will just show you a few of my favorite “afters”. This vintage cupboard was recently transported north, tethered and roped onto the roof of our SUV…it has been in our dining room at home for many years, rather hidden in the corner. Now it is taking center stage…and decorated for the seasons! The blue buffalo check wool blanket is from LL Bean ,but it was on sale at the outlet in Freeport, so I splurged a bit. That overstuffed chair and ottoman we’ve had for years, more recently re-upholstered in pale blue and used in our family room. The ship pillow was discovered in a mark down bin at Target.

living room hutch cacpThe fireplace wall faces the front door, and welcomes our guests into our home. The electric fireplace, purchased almost a decade ago at the Christmas Tree Shops, was in our living room at home-which is now Coach’s work room. Hidden behind stacks of maps and books, it served no real purpose. But now…decorated with more flea market, thrift store, inherited and hand-crafted finds…(check out this sweet little whale pillow from the workshop of the very talented Jess Wrobel)...it sets the tone for the rest of the open concept space.

fireplace wall cacp

This ROYAL GUEST ROOM…well, every time I catch a glimpse or wander in, it kind of takes my breath away. I can’t explain my affection for buffalo check, but man, it sure does captivate my attention. This royal blue duvet cover was from Amazon. That charming little white wicker chair in the corner? That was my moms- it was in her guest room for years-when she passed, I hung onto it with the intent of possibly selling it at Todd Farm. But when I actually saw someone sitting in it and contemplating buying it at the shop, I grabbed it and put it back in my car! Now its repainted, cushioned and paired with the exact matching Pier One mirror that Coach amazingly found on CL. The blue cabinet was a Wayfair find, the accessories inherited and the artwork from HomeGoods.

downstairs guest room cacpThe LOG CABIN room. Well, what can I say? When Coach and I first started the process of finding our vacation home, my dream was to discover a pretty little log cabin tucked remotely away in the woods on a lake or stream. After looking at said houses, we realized that 1. We really didn’t want to live isolated in the woods 2. We are not lake or stream people, but are drawn to the sounds and sights of waves crashing on the shore.

nubble light house wavesWhich brings me to the LOG ROOM- I figured if I couldn’t have an entire log cabin…at least I could create the feel in one room! The log bed was a CL find, the side tables and log bench were flea market and thrift shop finds, as was the art work and accessories. The buffalo check (hmmm, there is a common thread here) drapery panels were markdowns from the Christmas Tree Shops. American flag pillow from Bed, Bath & Beyond. The Pendleton throw from Home Goods, the bedding from Ikea. I have more touches that I am planning on adding in the spring which should cozy it up, so stay tuned.

log cabin room decorated cacp

The GUEST BATH came together pretty quickly. You know, when you don’t have to tape and putty and paint and repair stuff before you start…decorating is quite a bit simpler. You just put the pieces in place, roll up the towels, hang the pics and you’re done!  The oval mirror had been hanging in my bedroom at home, the little side table next to the vanity was in my front hall. The “family is everything” sign was from HomeGoods, as were the bath accessories and towels, with a few pieces from mom’s collection.

downstairs bath cacp

That’s it for now. The rest of the rooms are a work in progress. Decorating any space is simply about creating interesting layers, and does not have to be hard nor complicated nor prohibitively expensive. You start with bare walls, choose your color palette, using whatever or wherever your imagination takes you…in our case, the sea. But it could just as easily be one special memento, a painting, a treasured heirloom or even a flea market find that is the spark that ignites your personal style. There is something to be said about painting one color on all the walls and trim throughout your space. It unifies everything, and your décor becomes the standout feature of each room rather than the room itself.

cottage crashing waves

Cottage FinishesOnce you decide on your larger furniture pieces, start adding the accents, then dress it up as you go with accessories and artwork. For me, this is a fluid process…nothing stays in one place for too long…that little whale pillow has migrated from couch to chair to bench and back : ) and the fireplace has already graced two different spaces. I imagine I inherited that trait from my mom…coming home from school I would often find her re-painting a wall or a bookcase or single-handedly pushing a baby grand piano across the living room.  What I have discovered on this journey is that no matter how you decorate your space, as long as it brings you…

christmas vignettethen you are on the right track. Have a great Sunday everyone, and GO PATS! xoxo Susan

 

 

 

 

 

Hail to the Whale!

Coach and I, well, we just love whales. I am not certain how it all began, but I can say that one of our very first “all day” dates took place in lovely Mystic Connecticut. In Mystic Seaport, it is all things nautical, and I suspect perhaps that day spent touring the Charles W. Morgan (the last wooden whale ship in the world!)

Charles W. Morgan

the Seaport Museum and the Mystic Aquarium, all the while basking in the glow of young love, might have sparked the beginning of a life-long passion for those majestic denizens of the deep. So, I paint a lot of whales…on trunks and planks and tables, pretty much any flat surface.

Whale Porch Table

After all, who can resist a gentle, giant creature with a hint of a smile-especially when decorated with the American flag? Recently, Coach came upon a stack of old cabinet doors (well, it might not have been recently, it’s just what has surfaced in the barn most recently.)

Hail to the Whale Before Cupboard Door

They were simply painted creamy white, or so we thought. Until he started to sand the edges and behold! This amazing teal blue emerged.

Hail to the Whale Black Background

Sometimes you have in your mind what color scheme to use on a piece, sometimes the piece dictates the palette. In this case, there was cream and teal and a country red color…perfect for an American Flag Whale! I went with a black background for greater impact and contrast to the flag whale itself. For the flag colors, I mixed paints until I came up with the exact shades of teals and reds that matched the existing colors on the frame. I have, in my workshop, perhaps 50 or so of those little Behr sample paint pots

Behr Sample Pots

that you get at Home Depot for a couple of bucks…in a multitude of colors. These are my go-to samples when I am mixing paints-economical and plentiful…and if I mix a color I really love, I just use the color match app to have them mix whatever amount I need! Once I painted the background, it was a pretty simple process-I used a whale stencil

 

Whale Stencil

for the overall pattern in cream, then taped off the stripes, and added the red.

Hail to the Whale Taped Stripes

Now, I know there aren’t 13 stripes- he was just too narrow and it looked too tight, so I went with a more interpretive look.

Hail to the Whale Star Field

After that, I added the star field using a stencil I cut out with my Cricut Air machine.

Cricut Gold

Do you have one of these?? If not, you need to hustle over to your favorite craft store and buy one, like now! If you do crafts, or scrapbooking, or make signs or stencils or just about anything where you need to apply graphics, this is your go-to machine. See this little square of stars?

Star Stencil

By hand, that would have taken me hours to cut…and then a few more in the ER getting stitched up from the X-acto knife thumb slice… With the Cricut, it took maybe ten minutes to design and cut the stencil. Simply incredible!

Once the whale had dried, I added the matching stars in the four corners. Upon close inspection, you can see where I allowed the faint outline of the original hardware to remain.

Hail to the Whale Hinge Detail

I think it gives the piece character to leave the blemishes there for everyone to see. After that, it was simply a matter of a topcoat…and I went with my go-to favorite: Flat Out Flat by General Finishes. **As a side-note, when you paint on this topcoat, it initially appears milky white,

Hail to the Whale FOF Wet Finish

which kind of freaked me out the first time I tried it. But, once it dried to a clear, softly glowing finish, I was sold. So, the whale is now finished and ready for his new home.

Hail to the Whale Finished Logo

This is the wall grouping that greets visitors at my back door, but alas, he’s not staying put.

Hail to the Whale Wall Grouping Logo 1

He’s migrating north to the Barn at Todd Farm where he’ll have a whale of a time with some other pieces I have recently completed. Have a “whale-y”great Wednesday, everyone! Susan xoxo

 

Vintage American Heart Sign

Awhile back, I received this large wooden wall-hanging of an elephant painted on some slats.

Vintage Americana Heart BeforeIt was free, and free is good, but the graphic was just a bit too brown and black for me. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE elephants, but it just seemed a little colorless and blah to me. I have had it hanging around in the workshop for quite some time, literally painting over it a dozen times with all sorts of blues and grays, awaiting some inspiration to hit me.

Vintage Americana Heart Dry Brushed BackgroundGenerally, I find that when all else fails, go with the American Flag with its bold colors and simple but striking graphics. So, stars and stripes it is! But, it was essentially a square, and of course, our flag is a rectangle, so I had to come up with a shape…a star? the map of the US? a rectangle? a heart : ) So I left the background as it was…dry-brushed with multiple shades of grays and blues and added the heart shaped design.

Vintage Americana Heart Red White and BlueThe easiest way to create a symmetrical heart of any size? Take a piece of paper (in this case, a newspaper because of the size I needed), fold it in 1/2, then draw out your shape on one side. Cut along the edge of the folded paper, and then when you open it up, voila!  A perfectly proportioned heart!

Vintage Americana Heart Newspaper PatternOnce I traced the heart shape onto the wood with some chalk, it was simply a matter of taping off the 13 red and white stripes…

Vintage Americana Heart Patternwhich was not as easy as you would have imagined…while leaving one block for the dark blue star field.

Vintage Americana Heart TemplateOnce the stars and stripes were completed, I stenciled in the stars…quite badly as it turns out.

Vintage Americana Heart Stripes and Star FieldBecause of the curves of the heart shape and the spaces between the slats, it was impossible to fit all 50 stars into the field in rows, as they are on the real flag. So I painted over the first go and tried it again.  I taped off the edges and winged it…just stamping them wherever there was an open space…not symmetrical, not perfect by any means.

Vintage Americana Heart StarsThere are a few states hanging off the edge…hello, Alaska and Hawaii! And there are a few states missing representation…then again, aren’t there a few states that are threatening to secede from the union if a certain candidate wins this year’s presidential election? But you get the general idea, right? Then I added the graphics above and below via my reverse chalking method.

Vintage Americana Heart Chalking PatternThat was the easiest part of the entire piece! Once I was reasonably happy with that, I sanded the whole thing down to give it a distressed look,

Vintage Americana Heart Sanding Stars Distressingthen finished with a coating of Krylon spray matte varnish

Krylon Matte Finish

(of course, that was a few days ago, when it was 60 outside, so I could spray it, as opposed to this morning’s temps, which are hovering in the 20’s). This graphic could easily be applied to a wood palette- another great project idea! Vintage Americana Heart LogoHave a totally terrific Tuesday, everyone (even if you’re buried in snow…) Susan

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