Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is just around the corner and we couldn't wait to put our red white and blue touch in our windows. We gathered a few things together and voila! It's an Americana window. I love the red potting bench on the left and the American flag on the wall.
In this window we gatherd some blue & white Staffordshire and Flow Blue china, an American flag and a few other accessories and that's all we needed.

We put this tea-died American flag bunting on our front door and it's just what we needed to finish off our 4th of July decorating.
Here's a vintage metal garden chair just waiting to be put out on the lawn for the summer. I have a thing for these old lawnchairs, they're so appealing, rust and all. They're reminiscent of another era, a time gone by. My grandparents would have sat in chairs like these. About 10 years ago my great aunt, born in the early 1900s, asked me to sell her patio set, and it was the deco metal lawnchairs like the one I have here. Hers was in mint condition and had a matching table. I regret selling it and wish I would have bought it for myself. Hindsight . . .


Better Homes & Gardens

Our home was on a home & garden tour a couple of years ago and a magazine scout was through. She contacted us about being in one of their magazines, including Better Homes & Gardens. We had just finished our kitchen remodel. The article is featured in the Special Interests Publications by BHG, Kitchen Makeovers Summer 2008.
It has been 23 months since they photographed our kitchen. I never knew that when you see things in magazines, they were taken up to three years before. We are excited, though. Seeing our hard work in print is very satisfying and we're happy to share it with readers. Buying this house was a challenge and we have thoroughly enjoyed restoring it project by project.

Click on the magazine cover to see the article.

We're lucky to have so much light in our kitchen and I wanted to enhance it even more. We have a corner window and a wonderful deep garden window above the sink. The window feature is original to the home.

A few years ago, my husband Bob and I were traveling to a show in Fresno and Bob found this 1880s wicker set in an out-of-the-way shop. I love it and it is absolutely perfect for our kitchen!

I wanted soapstone on the countertops and subway tiles on the walls and in the stove cubby, and I had to have a farmhouse sink with an apron, number one on my list. I love the soapstone counters, absolutely, and they only get better as time goes on. I wanted a warm, honed look as if the counter had been around for a century, like you see in old homes in New England. Soapstone is nonporous and inert, that's why it's used in laboratories, they also cannot stain. Didn't mean to do a sales pitch here, but I am totally sold on the soapstone.
This tiled rooster is above the stove. I think it's one of the best features of our kitchen so I just had to share.


Summerize Your Home!

Now that summer's almost here, feels like it's here but it's not official until the 21st of June. So. . . . . . How to lighten it up and make it feel fresh. It feels so good to be able to open the windows and doors and let the outdoors in so here are some tips to help summerize your home. Change out dark accessories like velvet or dark colored pillows, wool or dark throws. Then when fall comes and you bring them back out, they'll seem fresh and new again. There are so many reasonably priced throws and pillows at the discount stores and bed and bath shops, so changing pillows and a throw or two is pretty simple and affordable. Pillows that are made from vintage fabrics and linens work beautifully for a fresh summery look.
Putting a crisp, white linen table cloth on a dark wood side table for the summer can also lighten a room and give it a great new look even if it's just a large square card table-size table cloth on a round table, it will work.

Add fresh flowers on top of the table cloth and wow! It makes a huge difference. Clean the fireplace and replace logs with silk greenery. This will make a huge difference in how the room feels. Put fresh paint on drab walls. Outside, remove brown leaves or plants that are struggling with fresh planted flowers. Get fresh seat pads or covers or slipcovers for your outdoor patio furniture.
Cover an old iron chair with a light French toile and you'll have an instant facelift. And don't forget to clean your windows! Have sparkling windows for those summer days.


Slipcovers make a home cozy and cottage-y

Book, Carolyn Westbrook HOME

Using her own beautiful house as an example, popular designer Carolyn Westbrook is a home designer who specializes in slipcovers.

Slipcovers offer a simple yet creative way to alter the look of any room within the home.

I've gotten into slipcovering lamp shades and our customers love them. Vintage linens are perfect for making the slipcovered lamp shades. A slipcover over a tired shade can change entirely the way a lamp looks. You can have the shades be sassy and floppy or tighter for a more formal look. Eyelet looks great in a child's room.

Whether it's a shade, a overstuffed or side chair, or a sofa, a slipcover can change a room.

Matelasse fabric used for a slipcover is extremently appealing and creates a nice texture for a monochromatic palette. White or cream quilts also work. I love the thick textures. They work in a bedroom, family or living room. For upholstery, a nice cotton linen works really well for a more sophisticated look. It's all the rage now and I think it's because it's so crisp and clean looking and works well for our lifestyles. Casual yet not too casual.

This is a pillow slipcovered in white crisp linen and done in a double box ruffle. Isn't it a great look?

This antique chair got a complete facelift and looks fabulous with a simple cotton linen fabric in a natural color and we added a double welt - makes all the difference.

You can also mix vintage fabrics, the pillow one below is actually made from a vintage damask tablecloth, to add charm and some color to a chair, sofa or bed.

Happy slipcovering!


Vernacular thatched cottages in Woburn Street, Ampthill, Bedfordshire, were constructed in 1812-1816.

Wikipedia defines cottage garden as "The Cottage garden is a distinct style of garden that uses an informal design, traditional materials, dense colorful plantings, and a mixture of ornamental and edible plants on a smaller scale than gardens typically associated with estates and public settings. Cottage gardens go back many centuries, but their popularity grew in 1870s England in response to the more structured English estate gardens that used formal designs and massed colours of brilliant annuals raised in greenhouses. They are more casual by design, depending on grace and charm rather than grandeur and formal structure."
The earliest cottage gardens arose out of the Black Death of the 1340s, when the death of so many laborers made plots of land available for personal gardens. Alexander Pope was an early proponent of less formal gardens, calling in a 1713 article in The Guardian for gardens with the "amiable simplicity of unadorned nature". Other writers in the 18th century who encouraged less formal, and more natural, gardens included Joseph Addison and Lord Shaftesbury. According to the late nineteenth-century legend of origin,[1] these gardens were originally created by the workers that lived in the cottages of the villages, to provide them with food and herbs, with flowers planted in for decoration."

Plants common in the traditional cottage garden included climbing plants, especially rose and honeysuckle, and hedging plants that included hawthorn, holly, and privet. Flowers with a long cottage garden history include hollyhocks, carnations, sweet williams, marguerites, marigolds, lilies, peonies, tulips, crocus, daisies, foxglove, violets, pansies, monkshood, lavender, campanulas, mignonette, Solomon's seal, evening primrose, stocks, lily-of-the-valley, primrose, cowslips, and many varieties of roses. [3] The method of planting closely packed plants was supposed to reduce the amount of weeding and watering required, but planted stone pathways or turf paths, and clipped hedges overgrown with wayward vines, are "cottage garden" features requiring well-timed maintenance."


In the cottage style . . .

Cottage Style Decorating Guide states this about cottage style decorating;

O"ne of the more popular decorating styles today is cottage style decorating, and it's no wonder since it's light and breezy style is well-suited to today's informal lifestyles. Cottage decorating is a mixture of light colors, comfortable fabrics and furniture and accessories that is easy on the eyes with a vintage appeal.

Contrary to what the name may imply, you can use cottage style for decorating any type of home not just a cottage. Even your three-bedroom ranch in the suburbs can have the ambience of a cute cottage if you decorate it properly."

Iron beds are perfect for achieving the cottage look in a bedroom. You can also use them as day beds by putting them against a wall and loading them up with cushy pillows.

I love a cottage decor and it's so easy to decorate in this informal, casual style. I'll be writing about this in the next week and adding tips on the cottage look and the best way I think to achieve the style and feel. The great thing is that you can mix a variety of textures with vintage quilts or linens to bring in the cottage colors, which are generally soft or faded hues. As far as furniture and accessories, select things that are easy on the eyes. There's a lot of leeway in creating this style but remember for a bedroom use an antique iron bed or old painted wood bed with quilts, some floppy pillows, add a slipcovered lampshade on a vintage table, some old board framed prints or paintings on the pale painted walls and, voila! you've created a cozy cottage bedroom.
Regarding iron and wicker chairs or settees, cheer them up by covering them with floral cushions which add comfort and style. Furniture surfaces are best that show natural wear and age but not too rustic. Keep window coverings light and breezy.

Tomorrow, slipcovers.