Monday, August 22, 2016

Late Summer on the Front Porch

Who out there is ready for Fall? Can't you just hear the cicadas buzzing and feel the crisp, sunny Indian Summer days? Don't get me wrong...I'm definitely a summer girl at heart. But about this time each year, even I am ready to turn the calendar page over into September and enjoy all that the season brings.

Usually, I wait until about Labor Day to transition the seasonal d├ęcor around our house. But I was getting a little tired of the summer wreath and pillow on the front porch (see my summer look here) and was ready for something different.


By adding a throw in a soft shade of orange and textural pillows, the promise of cooler days awaits.


Cuttings of orange zinnias, burgundy coleus, Autumn Joy sedum, and penstemon spires from our back yard add a jolt of gorgeous color here. In person, this arrangement is almost neon in appearance :) Along with an iron finial and small zebra box, they form a simple and pretty vignette.


As you can see, the potted annuals filled in nicely over the past few months. Because I have more of a brown thumb than green, I stick with no-fail plants such as coleus, asparagus fern, and dusty miller. This area gets some indirect sun during the day, but not enough for many annuals; so I tend to repeat a lot of the same plants year after year. This summer, I did try my hand at some begonias out here. They did well and added some nice color.


I switched out my favorite Buddha head statue for a basket of hydrangeas, which will dry nicely and turn from white to green and then to autumnal shades of cream and rust. The black weathered shutter and green metal artichoke sculpture will remain in place until the snow starts to fly (ugh!)

I tried a new camera angle here and was kind-of dangling over the porch railing, haha. But I do like the photo from this perspective...hooray for stretching myself in photography skills...figuratively and literally!


This wreath is a simple twig style, with added faux bittersweet, pinecones, and greenery picks. A wispy design is always my favorite - it looks as though I went out foraging through a thicket ;)


The temperatures are beginning to cool here in the Midwest, and the humidity is lower. Shorter days are a reminder that Fall is right around the corner. Enjoy these final weeks of summer, Friends!

Julie



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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How to Blend IKEA's Bargains into Your Decor

Do you shop at IKEA?  Or do you avoid it, thinking it is really only suited to those in their 20's-30's who are setting up their first apartments and homes?  While it's true that IKEA's products aren't necessarily constructed to pass down through the generations, they can serve a useful purpose.  The clean, simple lines of their Scandinavian designs and extreme affordability lend themselves well to many applications.   


This inspiration board I put together shows examples of furnishings and decor that would blend seamlessly into mid-century, traditional, eclectic, and even ornately-designed spaces.  In fact, many rooms benefit from a place to rest your eyes - something that is subdued, yet functional, such as the modern gray sofa. 

All of the furnishings above are sold either through IKEA or Chairish.  Can you tell which pieces came from which site?  The solid pillow and sofa are IKEA, but you might be surprised to learn that the floor lamp, storage unit, and the animal hide are also their products.  I've intentionally combined mid-century, modern, and traditional styles to show how appealing they can be together.



This particular area of our living room shows how I placed an inexpensive (and very comfortable!) IKEA Poang chair and ottoman next to a family heirloom glass-front cabinet and side table.  Also, notice the curved black mantel clock atop the cabinet...yes, it's IKEA, purchased way back in the mid-80's!  It is battery-operated and still works perfectly...and its design is timeless.


The striped throw and feather pillow with velvet cover are IKEA pieces, as well.  I picked these up for a great price and just love how they add new, dimensional pattern and color to the rooms.


In our living room/dining room spaces, I've combined antique with new, straight lines with ornamentation, and inexpensive with precious.  Chippendale armchairs and flouncy architectural salvage coexist with modern stone tables and linear seating. You can see how the mix of styles and shapes keeps things from being overly predictable and stiff. 

This past weekend, I took a really fun roadtrip to Kansas City with four girlfriends.  We spent the day chatting, laughing, eating, and shopping.  IKEA was one of the stops on our Girls' Day Out, which inspired this post.  I hope it gives you some ideas for using simple, budget-friendly pieces within your home's decor.

Until next time,
Julie



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Monday, August 1, 2016

...and I Want It Painted Black

I titled this post in an attempt to conjure a melody in your head right now ;) Are you silently singing "I see a red door and I want it painted black" from the Rolling Stones? That tune often goes through my mind as I am slathering bold black paint onto a table, a handrail, or in this case, the cabinet in our first floor powder room. This is the first step in the mini makeover I'm working on in this room.


Here in the Midwest, people LOVE their oak woodwork. And particularly in the decade that our home was built (the 90's), oak was unquestionably the go-to choice for cabinets, trim, and doors in new construction and remodeling in Nebraska. Oak is a hard wood that takes stain well, but personally, I am not a huge fan of the look of so much wood grain. In fact, if I was more ambitious or had an unlimited budget, I'd either paint all of the woodwork in our house or hire someone else to do it. Truth be told, though, I am too lazy for that project, and I'd rather spend some of my moola on travel and other fun!

But in manageable doses, I can talk myself into the work required to paint wood. I had originally planned to paint this cabinet ivory, to match our interior doors and the kitchen cabinets in the next room (where the countertop is the same as this one.) Our kitchen lacks natural light, so the ivory cabinets really help to brighten the space in there. By the way, we hired a professional to paint those cabinets eight years ago when our daughter graduated from high school. I certainly didn't take that project on by myself! But after thinking about using the same paint color in this bathroom, the white fixtures next to an ivory cabinet just didn't sit right with me. I decided that black would give weight to this cabinet and add distinction. So, after a little eye-rolling from the hubby, haha, I bought a quart of black paint and set to work.


My intention was to use self-leveling latex cabinet, door, and trim paint. But the salesperson at Sherwin Williams told me he couldn't do black in a latex cabinet paint unless I wanted to purchase a whole gallon...I was a little disgruntled, let me tell you. Then he convinced me that an oil-based enamel would do a beautiful job on this cabinet, and that I wouldn't need to prime it first. Who knows for sure if he gave me the best advice, but that is what I ended up with. The paint is smelly and harder to clean up, but I do think it will hold up to wear and tear really well.

These photos show the job in progress, with two of three coats completed. Thankfully, it's a small cabinet and hasn't taken too terribly long to do. I think the key is using multiple, light coats to avoid runs and drips. The countertop color is slightly more black in person than it appears in the photos. I'm definitely happy with the decision to eliminate a little more of the stained wood in our interiors.

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Next up in the mini makeover is new paint on the walls. Maybe you noticed a few paint chips leaning atop the backsplash in that first photo...not much of a surprise that I'm planning on using a shade of green, right? (My husband always tells me that the square footage of our house is decreasing with all of the layers of paint I keep adding. Can I help it that I have an actively creative mind? Haha.) There is also some new art and a little embellishing of the existing mirror in the plans. Stay tuned for a reveal as soon as the "fluffing" is complete!

Thanks for stopping by, Friends.
Julie


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Monday, July 25, 2016

July Meditations



Whenever you are creating beauty around you,
you are restoring your own soul.
-Alice Walker



You are responsible for the talent
that has been entrusted to you.



No great thing is created suddenly.
-Epictetus



To live a creative life, we must lose 
our fear of being wrong.
-Joseph Chilton Pearce



Once in a while, blow your own damn mind.



The only way to do great work
is to love what you do.
-Steve Jobs
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