Archive | Home Decor

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Summer Porch Refresh

I have probably said this a hundred times here, but our screened in porch is by far my favorite room in our house.  Sitting on a porch simply feels like summer.  This time of year I enjoy listening to the rustle of the leaves, feeling the hot breeze and the sunshine, especially on this first day of summer.  As the summer progresses, the insistent music of the cicadas becomes the melody on the porch.  Life just seems easier and slower when I sit on the porch.  I wish I could spend all my summer days there.

However, after looking around our porch this spring, we realized it was starting to look a little tired.  So, we recently finished a quick refresh of the porch.  And now we have all of the summer days to enjoy it.

To refresh the porch we hired a painter to paint both the inside, including the deck floor, and the outside.  When I was in South Carolina visiting May this past winter, I loved that the ceiling porches were painted haint blue.  The ceiling of our porch is stained but I decided to paint my walls that some color.  In the South, haints are thought to be restless spirits of the dead, that for whatever reason have not moved on.  The haint blue is to protect the homeowner from being taken or influenced by the spirits.  I always like legend stories so this seemed a good reason to paint my porch that color.

There is no color called “haint blue” but instead is usually a shade of light blue with a tint of green.  I chose Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue for our color.  And I have to say I am absolutely in love.  It is cool and fresh which is perfect for a screened in porch.

The other refresh that we did was a new indoor/outdoor rug from Target with shades of my favorite color, pink, and gray.  It has a soft texture that makes our porch feel a bit like an outdoor living room.

I bought a few new chair cushions because our old ones had seen better days.  Once again I picked up the colors of pink and blue-green to keep a cohesive color scheme.

Finally, we took down our old paper lantern lights and hung these rustic string lights.  The bulbs have that old-fashioned appearance of being able to see the filament.  It lends a nice warm glow to our porch making it inviting in the evening.  And my husband did a wonderful job of hanging them up so they are nicely spaced.

I have a sign collection hanging over the door where I hang signs that inspire me or have a special meaning.  The Here Fishy Fishy sign reminds me of when I went fishing with my dad as a little girl and would call the fish to get on my hook.  The sign that says This Home is Open to God, sunshine and friends was a wedding present.  I am always on the lookout for new signs to add.

And my lady planter needed a fresh flower crown.

If you are looking for me this summer, Gatsby and I will be on our newly refreshed porch sipping a drink and reading a book.  However, I am always happy to have company join me.  So come sit a spell with me on my porch.  -June

Nowadays, people are so jeezled up. If they took some chamomile tea and spent more time rocking on the porch in the evening listening to the liquid song of the hermit thrush, they might enjoy life more. – Tasha Tudor

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Decorating With Spring Nature

The trees are blooming here in Chicago, the tulips are blooming and the grass is growing.  I love to decorate with fresh flowers and even on the coldest days in winter you will often find grocery store flowers in a vase on my table.  Now that the outside is cooperating we can decorate our homes without spending any money by decorating with the gifts nature gives us.  Try to go beyond the usual flowers and look to trees and other items in yard to bring in the house.

Recently, our crabapple tree was in full bloom in our front yard.  Every time I walked down the driveway I could smell the sweetness of those flowers.  I decided to take advantage and clipped a few of the branches and put them in a small vase on my windowsill.  My whole kitchen smelled like apple blossoms.  The apple blossoms are somewhat delicate so enjoy them while you can.

One of my favorite flowering shrubs this time of year is the lilacs.  When we walk in the neighborhood I stop to smell all of the lilac bushes (my husband doesn’t quite get the same thrill out it as I do).  Because I don’t have a lilac bush, I am waiting for my mom to get home from Florida (today) to bring me a bouquet of some freshly cut lilacs.

If your flowering trees are done, why not try a branch from an ordinary tree.  The buds and small leaves this time of year have a fresh green color.  The more interesting the shape of your branch the better.  This is a bit unusual but I think it is cool.

Finally, soon we will have peonies blooming.  I saw a bunch of beautiful peonies at my grocery store last week for $18.

I was tempted but it seemed a little excessive when I have three nice peony bushes that are growing and forming buds.  I always feel conflicted about enjoying them in the yard or enjoying them in the house.  Hopefully, I’ll have enough blooms this year that I won’t have to choose.

Enjoy all that nature has to offer you to beautify your home.  -June

At some point in life, the world’s beauty becomes enough. -Toni Morrison 

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Styling Your Home With Vintage Finds

Have you every heard that saying everything old is new again? It can be said for a lot of things including fashion styles, movies, quotes, and music just to name a few. So much of our past seems to come back in fashion after a long absence. So I was thinking, how about finding something old, to make new in your home? Back in the day items weren’t as disposable as they are now. People didn’t have a lot of extra money to spend, they hung on to their things for a longer period of time, plus furniture and accessories were so well made they could practically last forever. I think my appreciation for well aged items came from my childhood. My mom and I were always looking for unique pieces to refinish and use in our home, my grandparents had some lovely pieces that I inherited and love, plus I have picked a few things up at antique stores and consignment shops along the way, and all have added that extra layer of charm to my abode.

I have never decorated my home in one particular decorating style because I love facets of them all including traditional, farmhouse, industrial, British colonial, nautical and of course the playful and sculptural mid-century modern. I feel a house really becomes a home when you blend a few elements of history with today’s styles, those pieces that could tell an amazing story if they were able to talk. For me, there is something so special about taking on an item of furniture or accessory that was loved and cared for by previous generations. Whether it is an early 19th century dresser, a beautiful vase, or a lovely oil painting from the past, these original items add a wonderful balance to some of the newer pieces that you may find online at popular stores such Wayfair, or furniture stores in your area.

I love poking around consignment shops when I travel to find something interesting from that particular region, and I have already found some great shops here in South Carolina, making a few purchases to dress up our new home.

Don’t you love this zebra patterned chair? They came as a pair, and my mom found these mid-century beauties at a garage sale in her neighborhood a few years ago. The sale was just about to close and the owner wanted to get rid of them, and sold them to her for $6.00, for the pair! My very talented friend re-covered them and I am in love. They add so much personality and a touch of sophistication to our space.

This glass top mid-century Baker table also has a story. It was found in a consignment shop in Chicago with a sale price of $50.00. At the time, the bottom was painted green which didn’t work with my mom’s decor, so she had it repainted and for years I admired it in her living room. She wanted to change things up a bit when she moved into her new house, and now this gorgeous piece gets to live with me.

How many of you were fans of the the show Frasier? We loved it and still enjoy the repeats. My husband, Bob, always admired Frasier Crane’s mid-century Eames style chair that adorned his beautiful Seattle apartment. It was something I tucked away in the back of mind, planning to someday surprise him with one that he could relax in after a long day. I came across this great little consignment store that only sells mid-century pieces, and I didn’t even have to walk inside because it was sitting right in the storefront window! Often times I will see something I like, but don’t commit right away because I’m not sure it will look great or if I really need it. I’ve often gone back deciding that yes, I do really need it only to find out that it’s gone. I acted fast on this one which was a good thing, because there was a lot of interest in this particular chair. It looks perfect in the loft, and yes, Bob loved it!!

Cocktails and bar carts go hand in hand and were quite the rage back in the 50’s and early 60’s.  Today, there is a growing trend of serving retro drinks at home on a tableside bar cart. I see bar carts adorning pages of design magazines and catalogs, as well as consignment shops. Last week this one caught my eye. Isn’t it beautiful?

I could go on and on about all the lovely artifacts out there. Here are a few more pictures of some beautiful items I’ve come across. If you do decide to make a purchase in an antique or consignment shop, don’t forget to ask if the prices can be lowered. Almost all of the stores I’ve visited are willing to negotiate.

Beautiful Garden Stool

This dresser from the early 1800’s made its way to our master bedroom

This very old garden statue comes as a set of 4 and called “The Four Seasons”

Have a great week! ~ May

“Old is the new New”.

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It’s Spring at Target!

Happy Friday! We hope you are all looking forward to the long holiday weekend and perhaps you will be motivated to go out and bring a little spring  into your home? We recently took a field trip to Target, and loved seeing so many shelves displaying beautiful spring accents for the home. This is the time of year when we are all craving the rebirth that comes with spring whether it’s brightening up our beds with lighter fabrics, swapping out our flannel throw pillows for cotton, or bringing shades of spring green and yellow into our homes with vases of tulips or daffodils. What we love about Target is they have wonderful seasonal accessories for the home at great prices, so you won’t break the bank bringing a few fresh lovelies into your living space (and we just saw they are having a President’s Day home sale).

We know that when we see forsythia wreaths, spring is just around the corner. This bright yellow flower screams spring and displaying this happy wreath is welcoming on any front door.

We love the bedding at Target. The colors and styles are always in line with current trends, and they hold up well even after going through the wash. We both have those sets of sheets and they are smooth, soft and don’t wrinkle much.  If you like to change your bedding with the seasons, Target will most likely have what you are looking for.

We both like to swap out our throw pillows in the fall and spring. We found these cute pillows in spring colors and also loved the brass lamp (which May purchased for her desk) and white ceramic and brass succulent vase.

This is a great time of year to lighten up things in the house.  The weather is not quite cooperating quite yet with enjoying the outdoors (although the rumor is Chicago is going to have temperatures in the 60s this upcoming weekend) but we all feel the need for a fairly inexpensive refresh.

Have a good weekend. –May and June

Let spring breathe new life into your home.

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Houseplants

I am not a good gardener but I like to plant things.  In the summer, I love to go to the nursery and buy way too many annuals to plant in the flowerbeds and in containers.  I love to watch those little plants grow from tiny sprouts to big and tall and flowering, so much that they take over the container they are planted in.  I am not the best gardener because I am not good with the upkeep.  I do not like to weed and I often forget to water.

Because of my inattention, I have never had many houseplants even though I love them. I have one small lemon tree that I have managed to keep alive for almost 10 years and it even produces lemons.  In the summer, it lives on the patio but right now it is enjoying the warmth and sun of my dining room.  I also have a Christmas or Easter or whatever season it decides to bloom, cactus.  Lately, I have noticed in magazines, Pinterest and blogs, the resurgence of houseplants.  They look so pretty in a room.  And for someone who loves the outdoor living style but lives in Chicago, it helps bring nature indoors even in the winter months.

Last week, I decided to make a trip to a local nursery to look for houseplants.  In particular, I wanted a maidenhair fern.  The nursery is a very different place in the winter than in the spring and summer.  The outdoor yard is empty.  No trees or shrub to walk among.  No flats of blooming annuals or perennials to choose.  The plant selection is limited to a small indoor area.

I thought these Loco Coco plants were interesting.  Apparently, even though I live in Chicago, I can grow a palm tree in my house.  If I figure out a place in my house for a large tall houseplant, I may need to go back and get one of these.

The nursery had a display of some flowering plants for Valentine’s Day.

I’m sure I could keep succulents alive, since they thrive on low water intake.

I liked this smiling dragon hidden among the houseplants.  In the yard, I often put little statues among my plants.  I have never thought about including them indoors.

This display has to mean spring is coming.  These whirly-gigs are among my favorites. My grandma always had the yellow plastic sunflower ones in her flower gardens.  Because they break, I always buy a new one each year in memory of her.

I decided my lady needed some hair.  The last plant died and so she’s been bald for awhile.  Here she is sporting a new head of thyme.

And finally my maidenhair fern which I made part of the Valentine’s Day display last week.  So far I am keeping very good care of her.  She looks so pretty.

If you are craving some green right about now, go buy yourself a houseplant.  My next foray into houseplant care may be a fiddle leaf fig.  I’m not sure my light green thumb can care for that one too.  Decorating with houseplants is a great way to brighten up your room. –June

 

A sensitive plant in a garden grew,
And the young winds fed it with silver dew,
And it opened its fan
like leaves to the light,
and closed them beneath the kisses of night.

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Home Aspirations

Although a good part of our 2017 is going to be filled with more transition for our family, with a move and our last child going off to college, I’m looking forward to settling in later this year. These last several months I’ve felt like I’ve been straddling one foot in each house, but now that I have been here in Charleston a number of times and will be spending a few months working on our new home this winter, I am a little less frazzled about our passage. I see now that I don’t have to bring everything to be happy. We have bought some new furniture and items that enhance the character and southern charm of this home, so that, along with some items we love from our other house, we will have all we need to make our Charleston abode truly feel like home sweet home.

A new year is always a great time to start fresh, whether it is getting back to healthy living in your body, home, or workspace. Our family spent part of the holidays here in South Carolina, and it gave me an opportunity to observe and get a feel for what we need to function and be happy in this new space. Our home and environment down here is very different from the Chicago house, and will require a slightly different touch. I know I want to create peace and order in all areas of our new space, filling it with items that are beautiful and inspiring. I want it to feel like us, but just not so much of us if that makes sense. Plus, without a basement, our storage capacity is much more limited which is actually not a bad thing. After much thought, my husband and I decided to bring very little with us when it actually comes time to move. We will bring the items we truly love, and let go of the rest.

I am amazed to see how much we collect and hang on to over the years, thinking we cannot possibly survive without all our belongings. I was a little overwhelmed at the thought of packing up so many years of memories, and trying to fit it in a home where I actually want to create new memories. Our lives aren’t what they were all those years ago and bringing all that baggage with me just doesn’t feel quite right. Last fall my mom and I went through our home room by room, packing up and donating items for a new family to enjoy. Now, after spending quality time in our new rooms, I know that there will be much more to let go of when I go back to Chicago. I want our new home to feel light, airy, and uncluttered. We are surrounded by a beautiful natural landscape and I want to create a tranquil indoor space, as well as an outdoor living space that we can enjoy all year round. The truth is, you don’t need much to be happy. The more time I spend here, the clearer it is. Letting go of clutter in your home also has a calming effect on the mind- there’s room to stretch out and breathe.

You don’t need to have a move in your future to make your home life organized, less cluttered, and more inspiring. If you feel like the items in your home are closing in on you, maybe it’s time to clear out some of the old and see how you feel. Maybe that’s an intention that you can set for yourself and your family as we begin a new year.

Happy Martin Luther King day! ~ May

Your home is living space, not storage space ~ Francine Jay

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Curb Appeal Goals

I’m often on the lookout for homes with great curb appeal. There is always that one house that has it all – great character, an inviting front porch, amazing landscape and lighting. It’s a home that makes you want to curl up on the front porch swing with a good book and a glass of sweet tea on a warm summer night, and watch the world go by.
 Immediately, when I saw our house in Charleston, I knew it had so much potential and charm. We have since enjoyed the process of making it our own these past few months. Although our home isn’t old, it was built in the image of the historic homes that you typically find in Charleston. The Charleston single house dates back to the 1680’s. Many have long porches along the side of the structure for additional living space and the interiors are often one room wide, and several rooms long. The front door leads to the ground level porch, where you will find another door that leads into the house. The houses are usually painted in pastel colors similar to the homes on Rainbow Row, in downtown Charleston. 
 Rainbow Row
With that said, I have spent quite a bit of time dreaming about our outdoor space. I’m always out walking through the neighborhood taking pictures of landscapes and porches, and I recently started working with a landscape designer. The outside of our home is pretty much a clean slate, which I like because it gives us the opportunity to put our own personal stamp on it. Right now, the house looks a little flat and kind of blah. When I first saw the house I immediately thought I would put shutters on the windows, however many homes do not have them, and often when they do, they also function as hurricane shutters which I prefer. I did some research, and they are a little pricey, so I think for now we are going to start with the landscape, and put the shutters on the back burner. 
 Our home
We do know that palm trees, or as they say down here palmettos, are a must. We can’t wait to wrap twinkle lights around them during the holidays and I think they will not only add character to the front of our house, but a much needed layer of texture as well. In addition, we are going to move some of our existing shrubs and plant some colorful ornamental grasses. We plan to add some up lights to the palms as well, for a little drama.
 A neighborhood home
I also decided to paint the front door that leads to the porch. I think a pop of color is exactly what the house needs. After we purchased our home, I subscribed to Southern Living magazine where my front door color choice was delivered right in my mailbox. The house color on the magazine cover is similar to ours and I LOVE the red door. The color is Real Red by Sherwin Williams. I found a store ten minutes from my home, will be purchasing the paint this week, and plan to paint the door next weekend.
 
Work is set to begin next week and I am so excited to show y’all the transformation!
 
Have a great week. ~ May
Life began in a garden. ~ Unknown
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Christmas Lights and My Aspiration to be Clark Griswold

The weekend after Thanksgiving is always our time to put up the outdoor Christmas lights.  I know some of you take advantage of the nicer weather and do it before Thanksgiving, however I do implore you not to turn them on until all of the turkey leftovers have been put away, and the last plate is washed and dried.  One holiday at a time please.  The week before Thanksgiving I act as the Christmas light police.  I yell at people (with my car windows rolled up, of course) to turn off their lights until after Thanksgiving dinner.  Next year I am threatening to hand out violations to those that break my imposed law.

Despite being a stickler for the rules, I love Christmas lights.  The warmth and cheery glow brightens up the darkest days of winter, giving every neighborhood a festive spirit.  Our neighborhood is particularly sparkly because each house places a small Christmas tree, decorated with those old-fashioned big bulb multi-colored light strings, on their front lawn near the road.  I love driving around the neighborhood viewing everyone’s creative displays of Christmas lights, and I especially love driving up to my house after work, and seeing it all lit up.  It is much more welcoming than a dark unlit house.  As a child of the late 1970s and early 1980s, we missed these glowing displays.  It was un-American and unpatriotic to hang outdoor Christmas lights.  We were in the midst of a so-called energy crisis resulting in the loss of this display of spirit.  With the development of LED lights and I guess the resolution of the energy crisis, Christmas lights are back in a big way.

My attitude toward Christmas lights is the more the merrier, but in a tasteful way (if that makes any sense).  Apparently my love of Christmas lights is genetic.  My grandma always loved the glitz, tinsel and glitter of Christmas.  However, for a long time she did not have outdoor Christmas lights, although I think she always wanted them.  When she was quite elderly, she cajoled my dad and brothers into hanging up outdoor lights for her.  You could tell by the way she asked that this was not a whim, but something she had been planning for a while and was just waiting for our visit at Thanksgiving.  The lights she picked were of course muti-colored and they may have even blinked as well.  She also wanted icicle lights, but they were out of  the budget she had set.  So, after a trip to Wal-Mart to buy the lights, my dad and brothers went out on ladders with staple guns in hand to outline the fascia of her front porch all the way to the roof peak, so that it formed a lit up triangle.  And because my grandma couldn’t get on the ladder, and it was a small town in the Ozarks where year-around Christmas lights seem acceptable, she just left them up.  Each year at Christmas she was able to enjoy them (and who knows, maybe she turned them on in July sometimes too).

The best scene in the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is when Clark is decorating his house for Christmas.  Those were a lot of lights he put on the house, enough to blind the neighbors and make the electric company turn on the nuclear power reserves.  While my house does not look like the Griswold’s (I probably wouldn’t mind if it did but I am trying to stay tasteful), we do have our Clark Griswold moments with our Christmas lights.  Poor Clark did all that work and then could not figure out why the lights would not turn on for his big moment, until it was discovered that a light switch in the garage needed to be turned on.

  • Every year we have to wait until our fall yard cleanup is completed before we can start our light display.  One year we made the mistake of not waiting and put up our little Christmas tree in the front yard complete with lights.  Somehow the yard crew weed whacked our tree, cutting the string of Christmas lights, rendering them unusable.
  • We are pretty good about testing out all of our lights strings a week or two before we are going to put them up.  However, it does not matter.  We test and they work and then when we actually go to put them on the shrubs and trees, half of them do not work.  I think it is the work of some mischievous elves.  This means that we take at least one or more trips to the home improvement store during the process to buy more lights or an extension cord or a plug or some other necessity.  Inevitably, the project gets extended by at least an hour or more.
  • Last year we finished to find that on Sunday morning, some animal had eaten through the bottom of two of the light nets on the hedges.  I guess rather than simply pushing under the nets, the easier path was to eat through them.  I’m just happy that we did not find an electrocuted possum among the Christmas lights.
  • Despite staking the little lawn Christmas tree well into the ground, every year we have at least one storm that blows it over.  A few years ago a combination of a wet, warm, and windy December caused the tree to blow over several times.  We happened to see a neighbor sneaking over to fix our tree one morning.  It was nice he did that and even better, it did not blow over anymore that year.
  • We have one electric circuit that most of our kitchen appliances (the stove, the microwave, the coffee pot, the toaster, any other small electric appliance), all of the kitchen lights, the garage lights and conveniently the outlet where the Christmas lights plug in, all feed into.  This means that we blow that circuit several times during the month our lights are on.  Then my husband has to run out into the backyard, sometimes through the snow, to reset the Christmas lights after he has fixed the circuit.  This is especially inconvenient when you have guests for dinner and you have to turn off all of the kitchen lights and all the other appliances just so you can steam some broccoli and have the Christmas lights stay on.  We may have corrected the problem this year with a new outdoor outlet connected to a different circuit.
  • Finally, we always get rainy weather at the end of November and beginning of December, which I guess is better than snow.  The problem is a heavy rain storms trips our gfci outlet so that the lights will not turn on.  I guess it is a good safety feature so we don’t have to worry about electricity running in a wet yard, but it was disappointing when I came home last night, expecting to see my festive lit-up house, but instead just saw darkness because of the rain.

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(My house in a previous year.  The rain last night meant no lights and no picture opportunity)

Even though our house may not be as bright as the Griswold’s, it sure is pretty and we have our moments to talk about. –June

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Toys in ev’ry store,
But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be
On your own front door.
Sure it’s Christmas, once a-more – Johnny Mathis
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Fall Home

Neighborhood Fallscapes

I’ve noticed in my neighborhood, that October is the month that everyone begins to decorate the outside of their homes for fall. The heat of summer has said its final goodbye, inviting the cool, crisp air to sweep in with the fall season. Of course, with that comes cold noses and hands, and I know I will soon be needing gloves. My doodle Sawyer and I have loved longer walks on these early brisk mornings, and I’m starting to savor the beautiful palate of color as the leaves begin to change from the green of summer, to shades of red, orange, and gold.

I have always enjoyed decorating both the inside and outside of my home for the changing seasons. I don’t do too much, just simple touches here and there to celebrate the beauty of the season we are experiencing at the moment. For me, it has been a busy fall and with an upcoming trip, a seventeen year old who is rarely home, and a husband who travels regularly for business, I find myself keeping things very simple this year.

I personally feel that the outside of your home deserves the same attention as the inside, and have tried to make the outside of my home beautiful with a natural landscape of trees, shrubs, flowers, and outdoor furniture.  As a creative person, I am always on the lookout for new decorating ideas and get so much inspiration when I am out walking. I recently found some great ideas for decorating the outside of your home for fall and Halloween- a festive pop for your curb appeal.

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The front porch is always a perfect place to decorate for the changing seasons. I really loved the simplicity of the porch below.

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Pinterest

Pumpkins aren’t just for carving anymore. These painted and stacked pumpkins can take you right up to Thanksgiving.

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Pinterest

For me, a few velvet pumpkins, fall scented candles, and cozy pillows and throws will be enjoyed inside.  Outside, I potted some mums and soon will place a pumpkin or two on the porch. I will be home from my trip just before Halloween, just in time to hang my witch on the door for the trick or treaters.

“Autumn is a second spring, where every leaf is a flower.” -Albert Camus

Have a great week! ~May

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Does Your Home Need a Facelift?

Anyone who has lived through a home remodel knows first hand how quickly the excitement wears off once construction begins- and lasts, and lasts, and lasts.  The promised time of six weeks comes and goes, contractors arrive late or don’t show up at all, the wrong appliances are delivered or arrive damaged, or problems within your home such as bad plumbing, electrical or structural issues show up, increasing your already stretched budget.  Unfortunately, a lot of these problems are not within your control, but there are preparations you can take to make the overall experience of home renovation a little more tolerable.  I am using the word tolerable because I don’t want to lie to you and say enjoyable. There is nothing enjoyable about a home renovation, until it’s finished. Our new home in Charleston is in really great shape, but we wanted to make a few changes and updates to truly make it ours. We are adding can lights, a new chandelier, updating the railings, pendant lights and a backsplash in the kitchen, hardwood flooring in the master bedroom, and of course paint. The painting is going to eat up a lot of our budget because most of the color palette the former owners chose, is not our taste. This renovation was a little more challenging because I wasn’t going to be there while it was happening, which was a little scary considering all the things that can go wrong, even when you are there to see it!  I started by doing some research on Home Advisor and when Bob and I were in Charleston this past July, we met with contractors, landscapers, painters, etc.. for estimates, and overall we have been happy with the choices we made. We are currently in the process of painting and I do have a pair of eyes down there, so I am getting photo updates and I stay in regular contact with the general contractor which makes me a little more comfortable since I can’t be there. The inside will be finished when I visit next month, and I look forward to showing you the updates.

We always tell clients to get their home ready for a renovation well before the actual work begins, so they are not overwhelmed. So much to easing the stress of home projects is in the preparation and being organized. Here are some tips you can use if you’re thinking about a kitchen renovation, or any renovation for that matter.

Packing and Storage

When cleaning out closets, cabinets, and drawers it’s a great idea to make three piles.  One is for garbage, the second for charity, and the third is for items that you’re going to keep and store.  Donate your charitable items ASAP, so they are out of the way once your construction starts.  Store the items you’re keeping in clear plastic containers, and don’t forget to mark them so you can find them easily once it’s time to move everything back.  Remember to keep out any items you may need to use while your home is getting its makeover.

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The Container Store

There is always plenty of dust and debris during renovation so it’s a good idea to remove curtains, blinds, rugs, and anything else you want to keep from being ruined, and store them as well.  Use plastic sheeting to protect stairwells, doorways, or other areas of your home.

Preparing a Temporary Kitchen

Setting up a temporary kitchen is essential to surviving your renovation.  Your former kitchen is going to be off limits, and unless you plan to eat out every meal for six plus weeks, you will need a small space, preferably near a sink, where you can prepare basic meals. You will want your temporary space to be as far away from the area of construction as possible, where you’ll have some privacy (basement, laundry room, garage, etc..).  When my kitchen was under construction, I set up a small temporary kitchen in a corner of my sun room and used the powder room sink to wash basic utensils.  I used a lot of paper plates and plastic forks during that time to make my life a little easier, not very environmental I know, but at the time I had two young children and a dog.  Need I say more?

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Pinterest

Some items for your temporary kitchen include a microwave, toaster, coffee pot, hot plate, dishes, utensils, paper towels, napkins, garbage bags, cutlery board, an area for non perishables (I set up temporary shelves), and if possible a fridge.  Our fridge was moved to the garage, but you can even use a mini fridge, if necessary.  I kept dish soap, a sponge, and towels under my powder room sink for washing and drying dishes.

Home Rules

It’s important that you have a good relationship with your contractor and always keep the lines of communication open.  Before demolition, establish where debris and construction materials will be kept.  Have a dumpster or specific storage area so garbage isn’t left on your lawn or in flower beds.  Ask your contractor to make sure he cleans up at the end of the day, putting away power tools, nails, or any items that my cause injury to young children or pets.  Remember, you still have to live there.

New Routines

If you try to keep your normal everyday routine during construction, you’re going to become very frustrated.  For the most part, my contractor was at my home by 7am, and stayed until 4pm. Plus, there were various electricians, plumbers, and flooring people coming in and out of my house daily.  Your power and water will be shut off at times, so I recommend that during construction, you get up a little earlier and have yourself ready for the day by the time your contractor arrives. If your kids are not yet in school, plan trips to the park and fun outings. I was lucky enough to have my parents close by, which provided a much needed break from the mess at home.  My house is my sanctuary, and having people in my space for such a long period of time was, let’s just say trying at best. There were times when I was less than pleased with my contractor, but that’s normal, and I found that sometimes doing something nice for them such as bringing them donuts or cookies went a long way, and they were willing to go the extra mile for me too.

So, if you are planning a total renovation in a kitchen or bathroom, or you just want to spruce your rooms up with a fresh coat of paint remember, being prepared and organized will make a stressful period of time, a little more tolerable.

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There’s no place like home

Have a great week!

~May

Living through a home renovation is like living in the wild, you do whatever it takes to survive.-Unknown

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Letting Go of “Stuff”

Do you find that your house has accumulated a lot of “stuff” over the years? These past few months, my mom has been cleaning out and packing her belongings for her move, and let me tell you, a home can accumulate a lot over time. She has lived in that house over forty years, and I am happy to report that this week, the movers are scheduled to arrive, and she will be ready. It got me thinking though, next year, probably around this same time, I may be packing up my home and I don’t want the process to be as stressful for me, as it was for her. Last week we were cleaning out her basement, and agreed that every home, whether you are getting ready to move or not, should regularly be purged of those items that no longer serve a purpose.

It happens innocently enough. You buy a few things for your home, then get tired of them and replace them with a few new things, storing your original items just in case you want to display them again, but never do. So they sit in your basement or closet, for years. As a decorator, I am guilty of this because I am always changing things around in my home, and now I have a closet that I am afraid to open, because something always comes tumbling out. If you have children, you may also have acquired every report card, hand made picture, science project and don’t forget the trophies from various sports. They get stored in bins down the basement or crawl space, never to be seen again. Yes, they all are attached to wonderful memories, but why are we holding on to all of this? Will we really be less happy without it?

Recently, I had to go into our crawl space, a job I never enjoy, and started poking around at all the bins neatly stacked on top of each other. Honestly, I did not even remember that I had some of the items I found.  A lot of the bins contained childhood things that belonged to my boys and when we move, those bins will be delivered to them to do with as they wish. I also have enough Christmas decorations to open a small holiday shop. They will be going as well.

I am putting some furniture on my mom’s moving truck next week, where they will make the long journey to their new home in South Carolina. I had so many books on the bookcase, too many, and decided it was time to let some of them go.

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Most public libraries take donations, so I boxed up the ones I did not want, and will be dropping them off next week.

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The rest were boxed and stored away for the move. After Nicole left for college last week, it looked like a tornado hit her room. I took the opportunity to purge, leaving some of those more personal items for her to sort through when she comes home for the holidays. I think all this clearing out may have rubbed off on Alyssa, because she cleaned out her room as well, and next week is tackling her closet.

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I have decided to start small. Every week, I am going to clean one closet, drawer, or cabinet, depending on how much time I have, and yes, I am going to tackle the crawl space, one bin at a time. I will give things to friends and donate to Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Amvets and my driveway may have a few extra bags every week. I have only just begun and my house already feels better. There is something about not being weighted down by stuff that feels so good. A few years ago, I read a book called Lessons From Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I learned While Living in Paris, by Jennifer L. Scott. After spending a semester living in France, she fell in love with the notion of less is more, a fashion style of the French and decided to write about it. I love this! She believes that each season, all you basically need is a ten item wardrobe, give or take a few pieces. Now, I have more than ten items in my closet, but I wear everything I have and when I buy something new, I always let something go so my wardrobe never becomes unmanageable. I suggest you try it!

I think sometimes we feel that the more we have, the happier we will be, but for me the opposite is true. Keeping it simple makes my life so much better, and I look forward to bringing that lifestyle into my home, present and future.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. –Leonardo da Vinci

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We Love Target! (Part 2)

TGIF!! The weekend is nearly here, and May and June are back for Part 2 of our We Love Target post. Today, it’s all about the home. We found some great summer accessories for both your home and garden. For May, Target is on her list of stores where she shops for great finds when decorating homes for clients, as well as her own house. June has discovered some great finds as well. You can get some fun seasonal decorations for the home, and don’t forget to check out their $1.00-$3.00 aisle for cute seasonal items. Here are a few things we love.

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The Target home department is definitely ready for summer. We loved this color palette and the wonderful textures for the season. Most of Target’s decorative pillows are between $14.99-$24.99.  For that price, you can pick up one or two and easily switch out the look on your couch for the summer.

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  We found these interesting chairs and they were on sale too!  June wished she had the space to bring one home.

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     We also loved this neutral color palette with aqua touches. The wicker baskets are great for storage.

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There was a wonderful assortment of outdoor pillows for $15.99.  These would look great on your patio or back porch.  They are made with outdoor fabric and are resistant to the weather.

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Target has a wonderful section for your patio and garden. Aren’t these gardening boots adorable? These were $18.99. May is thinking about going back for them.  They will keep her feet nice and dry when she is out playing in the mud and planting her vegetable garden this summer.

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There was a nice assortment of watering cans and planters, but these metal ones really caught our eye.  It would make the chore of keeping our container gardens hydrated a little more fun.

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We were both drawn to these adorable gnomes for the garden. These cuties were $12.99 and were the last two left!! We couldn’t resist!! They came home with us and add a wonderful touch to our outdoor spaces.  The myth is that if a gnome has something in his hands, he can’t get into mischief.  I guess because the red hatted one has no hands, we will be safe from gnome misadventures?

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Target is always having wonderful sales, so don’t forget to check out a store near you this weekend if you are looking to spruce up your home for summer.  ~May and June

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A Simple Festive Table

This past weekend I held what ended up being a somewhat impromptu casual Easter brunch.  When hosting a holiday, a birthday party or other gathering, I always like to make my dining table look a little special.  However, you do not need to do much or invest a lot of money to give your table that special touch.

I usually have some type of small everyday centerpiece on my dining room table that reflects the current season.  So for the week before Easter, my dining room table had a burlap table runner with small stamped bunnies with white pom pom tails that I had picked up in the dollar section at Target.  The table had also displayed a floral topiary I had also found at Target as well as a bunny decoration that had been a hand-me-down from my mom.  I have found that Target is a great resource for cute and inexpensive seasonal decorations.  Make sure to check out the dollar section when you first enter the store.  They often have a lot of seasonal decorations including fun lanterns, pillows, cake stands and other items most of which are usually three dollars.  The home goods area also has great items but they are more expensive and if you really just want a holiday touch, I have found those three dollar items fit the bill.

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When I was at Target I also picked up a new tablecloth in a pretty aqua color.  I never like to spend a lot on table linens because by their very nature they are going to get dirty.  I do not want to worry that some one is going to make a mess on an expensive tablecloth or place mat.  It kind of takes the fun out of hosting a dinner party and entertaining guests.  My favorite places to find table linens are Target and Cost Plus World Market.  I also regularly check out Crate and Barrel, especially toward the end of the seasons when they discount some of the more seasonal linens.  Also, here’s a secret, I absolutely hate to iron so I try to find tablecloths that are not 100% cotton and if I do a quick spin in the dryer, most of the wrinkles will just fall out (looking at the pictures above, I obviously did not get a chance to throw my tablecloth in the dryer, oops).

For my aqua tablecloth, I picked up some pink paper napkins with white polka dots on one side and stripes on the other side.  We then  added our everyday white plates and silverware to the table.  White plates are a great item to have if you do not have them.  I love dishes, but I always use my white plates as a base.  I have other smaller plates that have patterns or designs that I use on other occasions as dessert or salad plates.  However, the white plates allow me to mix and match any other dishware into my table design.  I also have pink glasses that we use every day (I bought them several years ago because they made me happy) but they fit with our theme for the day, so we used them as water or juice glasses.

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I was very pleased with the way the table turned out.  I think any table can be made to feel festive with just a few touches, and it will make your party feel special. –June

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Spring Mantels

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a great weekend, and maybe did a little spring cleaning? This is the time of year when spring fever begins to set in for me. We’ve experienced a few warm and sunny days, the snow has melted, and the spring perennials are beginning to peek out of the cool damp earth. Those winter layers that made me feel oh so warm and cozy during the cold dark months, are now beginning to stifle me, and I’m ready to shed the heaviness of winter from my body and home, and lighten up for spring.

I realize it’s only March, and there will be more cold blustery days in the coming weeks, but I can deal with it knowing that the warm, sunny, and longer days of summer are right around the corner. This past weekend I put away some of my heavier throws and pillows, replacing them with lighter, brighter fabrics. I don’t do a whole lot in my home when the seasons change, just focus on a few touches here and there to help celebrate whatever season we are enjoying at the moment. The fireplace mantel is a beautiful focal point in the home, and a great place to decorate for the changing seasons.  Today I thought it would be fun to show you a few spring mantels that I love. The nice thing is, you don’t have to go out and spend a fortune on accessories (unless of course you want to 🙂 ). I usually discover pieces that are already in my home, and find a fun way of repurposing them. If you do want to purchase something new and fresh, now’s the time to shop! One of my favorite accessory stores, Homegoods, is loaded with spring and summer accessories, and the prices are always great. This year, I’m feeling a little more minimalistic when it comes to my home, and am keeping things clean and simple. This includes my fireplace mantel, so I went with more of that theme with the mantels I’m showing you today.  Here are a few of my favorites:

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Jenna Burger

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The Inspired Room

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May’s Home

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May’s Home

How will you freshen up your home for spring?

Enjoy your week. ~May

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Easy DIY Christmas Decoration

This past weekend I put together some easy Christmas decorations using items I had around the house.  I have plenty of Christmas decorations but I was just having fun to see what I could create.  I had some big glass jars that were part of a centerpiece from our wedding and which I use sometimes as candle holders now, some Mason jars, pine cones, bottle brush trees, cheap Target Christmas ornaments, buffalo snowflakes and the most important thing, battery operated twinkle lights.

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I just put the items in different jars to see how they would look.  I generally like how they turned out and they add a little festive glow where I set them.  The best part is after the holidays, I can simply disassemble them and reuse the parts in other ways or put the parts away for another creation next Christmas.

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My attitude with decorating is just try it.  It just takes a little time. So it may be a little weird or it may not turn out, but sometimes you create something that you like.  And with all of the serious things going on in the world this is fun.  I often agonize over what color nail polish to pick when I have a manicure and pedicure, but this is the thing, it is just nail polish.  Decorating is the same way, it can always be changed.  Hope all of your Christmas shopping and decorating is completed. –June

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Decorative Christmas Collections

I am not a collector by nature, unless you count shoes.  I do not collect coins or stamps like my husband does.  I do not collect teacups or spoons or small figurines.  That is not to say I live in a spartan home because  I certainly seem to have quite a bit of “stuff,”  but not any cohesive collection of any one thing.  But that all changes when I get out my Christmas decorations.

I always forget what is included in my Christmas collections until I get them out.  It is a little gift I get each year as I open the boxes and unpack all of the contents.  My collections are a mix of new and vintage, some that are steeped in nostalgic memories and others that are simply clearance items from Target.

One of my favorites, is my collection of miniature Christmas trees.  Some of the trees I have bought, some my mom gave me from her Department 56 village and others have been gifts.  I’m not sure why these trees speak to me.  Growing up our family always went and cut down our Christmas tree.  It was always a grand adventure, or it seemed that way anyway, that the perfect tree was waiting in the field to come home and be ours.  We learned over a few years, that trees ALWAYS look smaller in the field then they do once they are in the living room.  There was more than one year where the tree was so big it was hard to maneuver around the house.

I do one display with lots of trees for a big visual impact.  I think when you have collections of smaller things, that grouping them together makes a bigger statement.  However, because I like to keep a theme throughout the house I sprinkle in other trees here and there among my other decorations.

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That’s a lot of trees.

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Who can resist a big pink bottle brush tree and a glittery tree?

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Trees included on a little vignette.

Another one of my Christmas collections are these little nesting dolls.  Have you every seen the part of Sesame Street that is animated and they take the Russian nesting dolls apart and put them together?  I loved that little part, and so have always loved nesting dolls.  I collected quite a few of these Christmas ones over the years.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any in the past few years, but maybe some day I will find another one to add to my collection.

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Nesting Santas.

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More nesting Santas.

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Nesting Christmas trees (notice the tie in with both collections).

Finally, is my collection of elves.  My grandpa had all of these little elves that he used to hide all over the house, and when my cousins and I would visit, we would have to try and find as many as we could.  Those elves were tricky.  Some of them would be hanging from the light fixture or hiding on a shelf.  Others would be right in the open.  As we got older, the elves found more unique places to hide.  This was the original Elf on a Shelf before there was such a thing.  The elves were part of a promotion with Joy dish detergent.  My grandma must have bought a lot of Joy dish detergent because my grandpa seemed to have a lot of elves.

I loved those elves so much that I started to add to my grandpa’s collection.  I gave him a few for Christmas over the years.  At some point, after my grandpa had died, my grandma gave me two of the original elves and the ones that I had gifted to him.  I love this collection because it brings back that fun childhood memory.  And I’m sure if any of my cousins are reading, they are remembering that too.

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This is a naughty elf, partying on the bar cart with a menehune man.

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Just hanging out, looking for something to read.

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This guy is stored  in his own shoebox with my eight-year old printing reading on the side “Grandpa’s Head Elf.”  I guess the other one is his girlfriend.  He has the power so he gets all of the girls.

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Keeping time.

 

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A paper mache elf.

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I just found this little elf fairy this past weekend to sit on my window sill.

Do you collect any decorative items, Christmas or otherwise?  Hope you are getting in the Christmas spirit.  –June

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Twinkle Lights

There is nothing in life that gives me inordinate joy quite like twinkle or fairy lights.  They just make me happy, and if I could somehow figure out how to put them in every room of my house without looking like a complete crazy lady, I would.

I love that these lights are no longer limited to just Christmas (I do use Christmas as the chance to bedeck my house with twinkle lights although not Griswold style).  The light from twinkle lights is soft and easy and warm.  Everyone looks good when the twinkle lights are on.

Twinkle lights are everywhere you look.  They are used at parties, weddings and outdoor patios.  They are also used in bedrooms to create that nice warm look.  A little peruse through Pinterest (my twinkle light Pinterest board) gives you a thousand ideas of what to do with twinkle lights.  I got married in pre-Pinterest times (it was only 8 years ago it is amazing how things have changed), but even then I knew I wanted twinkle lights at our reception.  I think we picked our reception location partially based on the fact that the chandelier was all made up of twinkling lights and there were a few trees in the corners of the room that were festooned with twinkle lights.

These are some of the ways I have used twinkle lights at home.

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On my screened in porch

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In a bedroom.

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Around our basement fireplace.  We do keep these up year-round.  They add a little cozy festive feel to our family room.

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Some orange pumpkin lights outside for Halloween.

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I always put some type of twinkle lights around my kitchen window.  These dancing skeleton lights make me laugh every time I plug them in.

As you can see I love twinkle lights.  It is fun to decorate your home with something that you truly love and makes you smile.  With Christmas just around the corner, I will have to come up with some other ways to incorporate twinkle lights into my home.

Do you have any decorating item that bring you joy?  –June

 

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Enjoying the spirit of Halloween

Can you believe it’s October 16th? It seems like yesterday we were enjoying margaritas by the pool, soaking up the warm days and celebrating summer. Halloween is just around the corner everyone.  It’s the season of candy, tricks, haunted houses, and everything scary.  May and June have observed pumpkins, skeletons, witches, graveyards, and lots of orange twinkle lights adorning the porches and front lawns of their neighborhoods. We are both impressed at the effort that’s put into decorating this scariest of holidays.  Although May loves the fall season, she hasn’t put a whole lot of effort into decorating for Halloween since her boys were young. June feels the same way about the decorating. What can we say other than it’s just not our thing?? We know we’re not alone because for every decorated house, there’s one with nothing, not even a pumpkin on the porch. As a child, May loved to plan her costume and prepare for the big event. There would be children everywhere and there wasn’t the early curfew that we have now. The only downside was that it was usually cold outside, and May’s mother would have her so bundled up no one could see her costume. June, on the other hand, wasn’t into the trick or treating so much. She enjoyed opening the door and handing out candy to all the little ghosts and goblins.

We thought it would be fun to show those of you who like us, are just not that into Halloween, a few “tricks” to bring some fun (and scary) touches into your home. Since we already have a few fall themed items  added to our decor, we really just needed a couple of things specific to the holiday. Homegoods is a great place to shop for holiday decorating. Mantles always provide the perfect setting for seasonal displays and since May and June both have a fireplace,  we’d like to show you what we’ve done with them.

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June’s Halloween Mantle

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A close-up of a few details.  Candy corn vase filler, a Halloween sign and some pumpkins.

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May’s Halloween Mantle.

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A close-up of a few details.  Black cat sculpture, original pumpkin watercolor and an owl.

We also added a few items throughout our homes.  It took very little time plus once Halloween is over, you can put the ghosts, skeletons, and witches away until next year, but still enjoy your fall decor through Thanksgiving.

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Dia de los Muertes sugar skull

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Fall foliage and jack o’lanterns

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Emoji jack o’lantern wishing you Happy Halloween decorating!  Have a good weekend. –May and June

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Fall and Winter Layers

Over the years, I’ve always enjoyed accessorizing our home according to each season.  I don’t invest a ton of time and money, but I do like to freshen the rooms up a bit. For instance, as the warm days of summer approach,  I like to keep our home simple, light, and airy, especially since we spend so much of our time outside.  A few couch pillows and bed linens made from lightweight fabrics and vases of flowers from the garden are enough to bring a touch of summer into the house. However, once the cool crisp days of autumn arrive, I’m all about layering our home with cozy throws, arrays of pillows in warm soft textures, the aroma of vanilla scented candles, and a furniture arrangement that keeps us warm by the fireplace. I’m a total nester in the fall and winter, so I like our rooms to be warm and inviting to get me through the long cold months.

I always enjoy cozy-ing up the bedrooms this time of year by putting flannel sheets on the beds and adding a few extra fleecy blankets.  Our summer bed, however, is usually a few light layers of blankets, with summery printed shams and pillows, and that’s it.  Casual and simple.

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Sawyer enjoying the summer bed.

Our bedroom is cold during the winter months, so as soon as the weather changes, the thick duvet comes out of storage along with the fall and winter pillows and throws.  This year, I decided to purchase a new duvet cover.  The current one has been around for a while (and frequently used by two napping dogs), and I just felt it was time for a replacement. I hate to spend full price on anything and let’s face it, bedding can be quite pricey.  I began my search by checking out the clearance  section of different stores I like.  I found a king size duvet cover plus two shams, all in flannel at The Company Store. It was a great price with free shipping. It doesn’t get much better than that.  I’m sure it was a leftover from last season, but it looked great and was perfect for the room. My total purchase price was $75.00 where most of the regular priced items would have brought me closer to $300.00. Sometimes it takes a little patience if you’re looking for a good buy, but it’s well worth it.  Even if there’s a regular priced item that you really want, if you wait a bit the store is bound to have a sale and along with that, free shipping. Don’t let the prospect of changing your home with each season overwhelm you, because it can be easy and affordable.

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The new duvet cover and shams

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A fresh new winter look. The polar bear came from Z Gallerie. Had to have him.

If you’re like me and find yourself taking a long winter’s nap in your home, why not take a little time to create a cozy and inviting space for you and your family? A few extra blankets and pillows can bring the warmth of the season into any space.IMG_2912             Sawyer settling in for a snooze on the cozy winter bed. (He sat next to the bed and watched me make it up with the new blankets. I barely had time to put the throw on, and there he was.)

~May

 

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Little Yarn Flowers

I have been decorating my house for fall.  Truthfully, I don’t really like decorating for fall.  I know there will be a lot of haters out there, but fall is not my favorite season.  The days are getting darker and even though I am supposed to be enjoying the present moment, I know what is coming down the pipeline… winter.  But unfortunately, summer must end.  My summer decor starts to feel out of place in the fall and I have the need to cozy things up a bit.

As part of my decorating this past weekend, I decided to take on a little craft project and make some of these pom pom flowers in a fall color that I have seen around the internet.

What you’ll need:

  • Yarn (I used Red Heart, any inexpensive yarn will work)
  • Glue Gun (my favorite crafty tool lately)
  • Some small sticks from a bush in your yard
  • Scissors

You first need to make the pom poms.  I found the easiest way to do this is to simply wrap the yarn around two of your fingers.  I wrapped anywhere from 50 to 70 times depending on how full I wanted the pom poms to be.  Don’t wrap too tight, otherwise you won’t be able to get it off your fingers and your fingers will turn blue!

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After wrapping the yarn, slip the yarn off of your fingers.  Cut a single piece of yarn about 6 – 8 inches long and tie it tight around the center of your looped yarn.

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Cut through the loops of the yarn so they are now straight pieces.

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(Sorry the picture is blurry here)

Then give your pom pom a haircut so the pieces are even.

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(Remnants from the pom poms haircuts)

Finally, take a pom pom and glue it to a stick with your glue gun.

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There you have some simple pom pom flowers.  They remind me of the flower allium (although those are usually purple) or maybe even mums.  In any event, I think they are fun, it was a quick craft project and they brighten my fall spirits.  –June

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