Category Archives: Decorating

snipping snowflakes

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2012-12-18 053I went a little snowflake crazy this year!  I have always enjoyed cutting snowflake designs from paper, and I have some that I made out of regular white computer paper years ago that I iron and keep for use from year to year at the Christmastime.  Sometimes I hang them from string from the ceiling; sometimes I add them to my tree decorations; sometimes I scatter them about.  This year, I bought an extra Christmas tree so I could let the kids decorate one and I could make a snowflake wonderland out of the other.  It was beautiful.

Disclaimer: I live in sunny Southern California and I don’t really like snow, but I think snowflakes are beautiful!

2012-12-18 032This year, I tried cutting snowflakes from coffee filters.  I have read about this method for a long time, but as I don’t drink coffee, I never had any filters just laying about to try it.  So I finally went out and bought some.  And, let me just say: I am a convert!  Filter snowflakes are so much easier.  The round shape makes it a snap to fold (in half, then in thirds, then half again), without any wasted paper.  2012-12-18 039The filters are much thinner than copy paper too, so cutting is also cleaner and crisper (and easier).  I cut dozens and dozens of snowflakes this year.

2012-12-18 014Granted, the paper snowflakes hold up better hanging on my Christmas tree, but the filter snowflakes were perfect draped on my garland and scattered about on surfaces for decoration.  I even started getting a little creative in my designs.

I’m rather proud of this snowman flake:

2012-12-23 002I made smaller snowflakes to decorate my packages as well.  It made the simple gifts more personal and festive.2012-12-18 054

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snowflakes help make my Christmas decorations a little more merry and bright!  And they are a super affordable way to add quite a bit of impact.

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liliana armchair

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I fell in love with these Bold Floral Liliana Archairs from Pier1 Imports last year.  I had to visit three different stores before I found one that had it on the store floor (at that time) because I needed to see them in person.  I eventually bought two for my living room, so I thought I would post a little review about how these chairs have held up over the past year (almost a year now).

First off, I really wish Pier1 had reviews on their site.  That would have helped me A LOT when I was trying to make a decision.  But since they don’t, I thought it might help if I posted my review here for anyone else trying to make a decision.  The short review is I LOVE THEM!  They are great chairs.  Cute and comfortable and striking.  They are everything I was looking for.

Now, having lived with them for a year I can say that I still LOVE THEM!  My plan was to find two armchairs in a fun fabric, from which I could base the whole color scheme and design of my room.  This is not an easy task in ready made chairs.  It seemed like I might to need to get something custom.  Then I saw these chairs from Pier1 and thought they might be perfect.

They are a very comfortable size: 34 inches tall in the back, 29 inches across the widest part.  I am fairly tall (5′ 9″) and my husband is 6′ 2″ and we both find these chairs cozy and supportive.  Shorter friends have also commented on how comfortable these chairs are.  I sat in at least 100 chairs while I was shopping for these, and I found that frequently the cutest chairs were the most uncomfortable.  Not so here–these chairs feel great!

The colors are perfect.  I love bright things and this pattern filled my need for color without being overly bright or garrish.  These colors could be played up or toned down, depending on what else you want to use in the room.  I ended up choosing purple walls, using a shade taken from the purple orbs in these chairs.  They look fabulous!

They would look equally stunning in my red family room or my yellow bedroom.  They are really versatile, colorwise.  I never considered putting a grey couch with these chairs, but as you can see, they look just great together!

One of the things I was most worried about with these chairs was the quality of fabric.  The first time I saw this chair in the store, the fabric was quite frayed around the edges.  The embroidered design looks lovely in texture, but it didn’t inspire confidence in durability.  I have cats and I didn’t want these lovely chairs to become scratching posts (actually my cats never have used my furniture as scratching posts, though they do catch their claws on things sometimes).  What finally convinced me to take the risk was seeing this same fabric design (different colors, though, and not near as attractive) in a custom furniture store.  I could handle the fabric sample and see that it was more substantial than it at first appeared, and the designers in the store assured me that it was of durable quality.  And I have found it to be so.  My kids play all over these chairs, and my cats sometimes enjoy lounging in the seats, and they still look almost brand new after one year.  They wipe down easily, and I have not had any fraying issues of my own.  I did find one pulled string from the colored embroidery from either a cat or a child, but it is not very noticeable and I have not had to take any measures to deal with it.  I just let it be camouflaged.

Costwise, at $379 list price, these are comparable to other upholstered armchairs of this quality, if not less expensive.  I got both of my chairs at two different times on two different sales and paid right around $300 for each of them.  I think they are worth it.

I would give them five out of five stars.  They were super easy to put together–I just had to screw the legs on (they are lettered–just match them up so you get them in the right positions).  I really have nothing bad to report about them at all.  I get lots of compliments, especially after people sit in them.  They really are VERY comfortable!  And super cute and stylish.  If you are considering purchasing these chairs, I hope my review helps you feel more confident about buying them!

creative colors

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Have you seen the amazing ads by Sherwin Williams?  This vase of flowers is one of their magazine ads.  I LOVE the use of paint chips to make these fun images.  Their TV ads are also pretty incredible.  During our house remodel I looked at so many different paint chips that it became quite overwhelming.  I downloaded these colorful designs from Sherwin Williams to use as wallpaper on my computer screens.  It helped give me a sense of order and inspiration in the effort of choosing colors.

and

These kaleidoscopic pictures are so inspiring!    I applaud the designer of these ads because they are so creative and effective.  Just thought I’d share in case you’re as color obsessed as I am.

hall wall

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I’ve been thinking about wallpapering my hallway, but I can’t decide on a pattern.  My hallway is long and a little bit narrow, so when I try to hang pictures, it feels claustrophobic.  But I still want some interest and design.

So I’ve been thinking about wallpaper.   There are so many options, but I have been thinking about something with a large graphic pattern.  Here are some options that appeal to me.

I am in love with this Orla Kiely multi stem wallpaper.  The colors are perfect for my house, and the pattern is simple and graphic.  Here is it in a bathroom:

Perhaps it would be too busy if I did my whole hallway, but maybe on just one side?  Problem is, every time I visit Orla Kiely’s website (which I have done for 9 months now), this paper is always OUT OF STOCK!

I may be equally in love with this Imperial Trellis design by Kelly Wearstlear.  Here it is in citrine (love this color!), but I’m also drawn to the silver:

Here it is in yet another color, but in a hallway!  Isn’t it fabulous?

My house is full of great color, so I’ve been thinking about something with grey in it to tone everything down (and tie in my grey velvet sofa), so here are some in that color range:

This pattern is called Kew by Jocelyn Warner.  I love the grey/gloss on top (the bottom just shows more of an allover design in the same pattern, different color), because it is subtle, but still full of energy.  Speaking of energy, how about this Seville pattern at Graham & Brown:

Or this one in silver and white, called Jazz, also at Graham & Brown:

Graham & Brown also has this very cool frames wallpaper, where you can attach your own photos or kids art, or whatever.  It could also get very busy if I covered everything, but perhaps if we added a chair rail and only put the wallpaper on top?

This Arthouse Opera Retro Leaf design from Direct Wallpaper also has a lot of grey in it, but I love the addition of other colors (just in case I decide grey on its own would be too boring).

Along those same lines is this purple and green design (by Julia Rothman).  I love the white background, which really lightens it up and makes the colors pop!

So you see my dilema.  There are so many fabulous choices!  I can factor in cost and availability too, but I want my first choice to be about design.  Maybe now that I have a lot of my favorites lined up in one place, it will help me compare and make a better decision.  Any thoughts?

with two cats in the yard

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My two cats hide in the front yard all day to avoid both our dog (which really doesn’t bother them too much) and our cat-loving daughter (who loves them too loudly, ebulliently and roughly).  They hang out more in our neighbor’s yard, or on the hill between our houses (as in this picture).  When I cannot see them from my windows (which, really, is most of the time), I at least have two stone cats that peek out from my greenery to make me smile.

This little stone beauty came from Target several years ago.  I love to see him sitting between my tree and bushes because with just a quick glance, it can trick me into thinking it’s a real cat there.  It is just the right size and pose.  Here is what he looks like from the street:

Just a month or so ago I spotted another unique stone cat at HomeGoods.  My time was running out to pick up my son from school, but I figured that if I carried it quickly to the checkout, I would be only a minute or two late.  Unfortunately, when I tried picking it up, it was so heavy that I knew I could not carry it across the store without a cart.  And I did not have enough time to get a cart, come back and get the cat.  It would have to wait for another day.

Two days later I went back and was relieved to find it still there waiting for me.  I had my husband along to do the heavy lifting.  And with an additional discount for a cracked base, I got the cat for less than $20.  Amazing deal!  I love seeing this artistic cat posing in my yard.

Now, whether my own two cats choose to be on view, I always have two cats in the yard to enjoy.

poppies that pop

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I get a lot of praise for the poppies on these doors (one door leads to my pantry, the other to the garage), mainly because they assume I painted them.  People give me more credit than I deserve.  But I thank them, graciously, for the compliment and then point out that these are decals.  Super easy!

You can buy this set of stickers at Ikea for only $10.  I just went to their website to find this item to link up to it, and it wasn’t there.  They have other decals to look at, but not these poppies.  The link I provided is to Ikea in England.  I did see that my Ikea in Covina had some on their shelves just last week, so I’m assuming this product is still in the stores, even if it is not on their website.

I think these poppies give my kitchen just the right amount of “pop” against the black and white and green.  They make me happy every time I see them!

behind closed doors and drawers

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This is my new kitchen.  My old kitchen had the same basic layout, except that instead of an island, there was a pennisula (it was a U-shaped kitchen), and the cabinets were small (drawers were practically non-existant) and inefficient.  Also, my pantry consisted of a closet with some basic shelves on which we stacked and crammed as much food (and food storage) as possible.  I always hated coming home with the groceries and trying to find places to put everything.

This is my new cabinet where the old pantry was:

Isn’t it beautiful?  And the thing is, I don’t even store food here anymore!  It’s my small appliances storage, and I LOVE IT!  The shelf/drawers all pull out for easy access.

 My new pantry, using space from the garage and my old living room, is a little walk-in beauty!  Putting away groceries has never been so quick and easy.  There is a place for everything.  This picture is from several months ago, after we moved back in.  I now have twice as much food stored in there, and I still feel like I could double it.  (It turns the corner behind the door, so there really is lots of storage space.)  This has to be one of my favorite additions in our remodeled home.I also have a few other space saving secrets behind more of the closed doors and drawers.  Take a peek!

Cookie sheets, cake pans, and other baking supplies.  We’re all tall in this house, so the space over the refrigerator worked perfect for these storage racks.

What to do with that left over space between the sink and the corner cabinet?  A pull-out rack for my cleaning supplies has been perfect!  Bonus: it is difficult for young children to pull out, so hard for them to access these potions.

I love my two-tiered silverware drawer.  And I love the custom divisions that let me pile up way more than those store-bought silverware holders.  The top slides back for easy access to extra silverware and serving pieces underneath.

I’m also in raptures over my custom baking supplies drawer (in my island).  Spatulas, whisks, measuring cups and spoons, even the rolling pin all have their own cubbies.  Now if I could only teach my kids to be consistent about putting things away in their proper spaces…

I am delighted at how much more efficient my new kitchen is.  I’m sure there are lots of other new-fangled space-saving devices I could have used, but so far, this kitchen is working just fine for the way I live and cook.

a lion in wait

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I have always wanted a grand piano, a dream that has recently come true for me (see earlier post).  And somewhere, in that dream, I also wanted a stone lion curled up underneath that gorgeous hunk of black wood.  I have always had a thing for cats (okay, it’s a minor obsession), but I guess a GRAND piano needed a GRAND cat, so I’ve always pictured a lion.  A few years back, long before I knew a grand piano would be a reality, I found a wonderful looking lion statue at Big Lots.  It was plaster of paris (or some other non-stone carving) and it was painted a dark grey, but it was a nice size and shape, and I knew I wanted it.  But, fair cheapskate that I am, I was not ready to pay the $50 (or more) asking price.  So I waited until the end of the summer season, and when they were 50% off and they still had about five lions in stock, I gambled again and waited for 75% off.  Luck was with me, and I finally snatched up my beauty for a nice discount.

Of course I didn’t have a piano to put it under at the time.  In fact, I really didn’t have any room anywhere in my house, so it sat among the potted plants on my front porch.  By the time we packed him up with the rest of our stuff for our house remodel, he was looking a little beat up.  The paint was flaking off all over, and he was dented and chipped in several places.  I got some patching plaster and filled in the missing gaps, then bought a can of Krylon Make It Stone! Textured Paint, Black Granite color (with 40% off coupon of course).  It covered nicely and evenly, and it made my lion look brand new!  In fact, he looked better than he did when I bought him.  I am a great fan of spray paint!  I also added a coat of clear varnish sealer to help keep him looking good.

Before piano day, the lion happily guarded my fireplace, and I really loved him there.   But my dream had always been for him to live under my grand, and I’m happy to say he is perfectly at home there too!  Isn’t it nice when things work out just the way they are supposed to?

choosing colors

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When people see the many bright colors in my home, they often ask me how I choose what colors to use.  There are many factors:

1. What I like
2. What looks good together
3. What goes well with the fabrics or furniture I have chosen
4. What doesn’t get vetoed by my husband (he’s a brave soul and actually helped convince me to try to purple–gotta love it!)

For my house remodel, I started with the family room.  I knew I wanted a black and white kitchen as a base for all my bright colors, so I shopped and shopped for premade curtains or for a fabric that could be sewn into curtains.  I hoped for something bright and cheerful, but with some white and/or black in it as well.  It seems I always want the impossible.  There was nothing that fit the bill in readymades, so I shopped fabric.  I found the brightest palettes in outdoor fabric.  That’s where I found this beauty: in the home decorators section, outdoor fabrics at fabric.com (great site!).

I ordered a sample of this along with many other options of fabrics for other rooms in my house (or for throw pillows in addition to this one).  The fabric in real life lived up to my expectations (really, it seemed designed specifically for me!), so I ordered enough yards for all my potential projects.  Anyway, with that decision made, I had a place from which to draw color choices.  I opted for the red and green.

I wasn’t sure I wanted the red-based curtains hanging on a red wall, but when I placed the fabric sample against a red wall that I had in my house before the remodel, I fell in love!  I used the red on the walls in the family room with windows, and then used the green in the kitchen and the wall transitioning into the hall/entryway.  I also knew I wanted to hang my favorite lemon painting on the main wall in the entrance, so I needed to make sure I had a color that would show it off well.  The green worked nicely here as well.

For the living room I needed something that would work well with the green, as well as with the yellow I had chosen for the hallway (same color I used in the master suite).  I also knew that I was going to have a black grand piano in the room.  But what I really wanted was a pair of chairs, once again something fun and colorful.  When I found those, I knew I could make my final color decision.  The chairs I ultimately chose came from Pier1 Imports: the Liliana Armchair (Bold Floral).  Love them!  They also offered a host of color choices, and I debated them all most carefully.

I decided to try the purple, thinking that at the very least I would do a feature wall in that color.  But as soon as I started painting it, I knew I had to have it all over.  It is such a rich and fabulous color!  One of my favorite color choices EVER!

I also appreciate that all my color choices work well with both the fabrics in the chair (in one room) and the inspirational curtain fabric (in the other room).  It makes the public spaces in my home feel more cohesive.  I know that not everyone feels like they could live in a home with such bright colors, but they make me so happy!  A colorful house is the right choice for me.

narrow sofa table

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I needed a sofa table.  In order to center my seating arrangement on the fireplace and not have the chairs and couch too far apart from each other, I have to have the couch sitting away from the wall.  Besides my funky mirror sticks out pretty far and I didn’t want anyone to bump their head on it.  I knew that a sofa table would be the perfect solution, but I also knew that it had to be a narrow sofa table, only 12″ deep maximum (preferably narrower).  Such things are hard to find, at least on the cheap.  Bigger sofa tables actually cost less.  Go figure.

I was complaining to my mother about my inability to find a narrow sofa table that suited both my needs and my budget, and one day she called back and said that she had this table that her father had made back in the day.  She had a few knick-knacks on it, but she didnt’ really need it, and maybe it would serve my purpose (Grandma recently moved into assisted living, so my Mom has pieces of furniture from their home that I guess I haven’t noticed yet).  Of course I was delighted.  Not only is the table only 11″ inches deep, but it’s something my Grandfather built himself (cool!)–and I could use it for FREE (always my favorite price tag).

It’s just perfect!!  The size and scale really work.  I couldn’t be happier.  It is one of those fortuitous situations–everything works out right.

Now everything is nicely centered.  I have balance in my room, and all is right with world.  Happy sofa table!  Happy me!