Monday, November 28, 2011

Don't forget the exterior at Christmas time

Last year, I came dangerously close to turning into the Griswolds!  I decided to purchase 21 net lights to add to the shrubs outside my home.  That is a lot of lights.

It was beautiful and my neighbors' children loved it.  I did almost the same look for this year, but I didn't put out all of the net lights this year.

For the past 10 years, I think I have been using the same two porch size Christmas trees at my front door.  I would have a wreath in the middle and some years, garland.  This was my front porch at the house I lived in from April 2000 to July 2005.

For 2011, I decided to change things up.  I purchased a set of three whimsical trees from Sam's Club for the front porch and I also changed the wreath on the front porch.  I found the wreaths at Target.  I purchased three and joined them together with zip ties.  The Christmas boxes came from Gordman's. 

With a little bit of money and imagination, you can add Christmas sparkle to your front door and/or porch!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I love the holidays, especially Christmas.  I don't like the hustle and bustle of Christmas, but I do enjoy looking at all the holiday decorations.   I try to attend as many Christmas parties and open houses that I can fit in.  Yes, I admit, I am a decorating voyeur!  I like to see how others decorate their homes, inside and out.

Starting the Friday after Thanksgiving, I dismantle the fall decorations and start installing the Christmas decorations.  My 17 year old nephew, Ka'Run, has been decorating my tree for the past three Christmases.  I go to bed and wake up the next morning to a fully decorated tree!

The theme for Christmas 2011 was to do a traditional tree.  So, my nephew decided not to use the gauzy netting and just use ribbons and overload the tree with all of my ornaments.  Everybody does the netting.  I think it must be a Southern thing.  I never see it used on trees outside of the south.  I like to see the netting used, but I don't like it to cover up the greenery on the tree.  When you can't see the greenery, I think too much netting has been used.  Ka'Run also decorated my mantle.  My nephew has a real talent for decorating trees.  Pictured below is how he decorated my tree for Christmas 2010:


Since my living room is small, I usually limit my decorations to a tree and the mantle.  I used to put a nativity set out and add other festive items to my coffee table.  I thought it was a little overkill for the space, so I decided just to stay with the tree and mantle.

So, if you have decorated for Christmas, keep your curtains and blinds open.  You never know who may be coming by to sneak a peek!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

First Impression

You've heard the phrase before about making a good first impression.  College students are told to wear a classic navy suit to job interviews to make a good first impression.  A prospective employer will size an applicant up before the two shake hands.  First impressions apply to our homes as well.  Every place I've lived, including apartments, I've always decorated my front door and porch.  For me, this sets the tone for what you can expect once you enter my home.  Throughout the year, there is always something decorative on my front door and on the porch.  I really love the Fall/Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons because you can really showcase your entrance.  I've had this arrangement on my front porch since the middle of September.  In a little over a week, I will transform the porch with Christmas decorations.

This is a fairly simple look.  I keep the urns on my door year round.  Depending on the holiday or season, I will change out the plantings.  Here's a little secret--the plants are silk mums.  I tried the real McCoys one year and the flowers died before Thanksgiving.  So, I resorted to silk mums that I can use year after year.  The pumpkins were purchased at Michael's.  Several of my neighbors and guests have commented that they thought the pumpkins were real.  The doormat was purchased from the Lillian Vernon catalog.  I have purchased six doormats from this company.  Lillian Vernon offers great seasonal doormats.  I change out my doormat to reflect the season and/or holiday.  The wreath was purchased at Sam's Club several years ago.  I think I will retire it after this season.  If your front door has a western exposure like mine, the sun can be very hard on wreaths and live plants/flowers.

For all of my homes, I've either painted the front door red or had the builder paint it.  I've always loved a red door.  It adds a pop of color to any home.  Having a color at the front door can do a lot to boost your home's curb appeal.  If you have a bland or colorless front door, consider painting it.  I would use a brighter hue so that the color is noticeable from the street.

Here is a good example the impact that paint can have on your curb appeal.  Here is a before picture of this home's front door.  Doesn't look very inviting, does it?

From House Beautiful

Now take a look at the entrance.  By removing the storm door and changing out the light fixtures and updating the hardware, the entrance to this home has been changed from boring to fabulous!!

From House Beautiful
So, if you want to make a good first impression, spend a weekend with a gallon of paint!

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Very First Art Project

About a month ago, I decided to change out the artwork in my master bath.  I have wall space on both ends of the vanity.  With no artwork, the space is pretty bare.  My friend Rosie doesn't think artwork belongs in a bathroom.  I am going to prove her wrong.  Initially, this is what I had on both sides of the vanity:

I lived with this look for a few years.  Then I decided I needed a little color on the walls.  So, since I have developed a love of abstract art, I purchased these paintings at Target.

After looking at these paintings for about a month, I decided that maybe this was too much color and pattern.  The pattern was a little overwhelming for the space, especially with the paintings hanging at both ends of the vanity.  I had been thinking about painting over the artwork and creating my own art.  So, I finally did my first artwork Sunday evening.  I used existing interior paint that I already had.  I painted over the artwork with a base coat of Sherwin Williams Latte.  I then mixed Sherwin Williams Coconut Husk with glaze and applied this to the canvas with a rag.  I repeated this step with Sherwin Williams Loche (green).  The final step was to create the circles by using the opening of empty glass jars in two different sizes.  I used Rustoleum Paprika for the red circles and SW Coconut Husk for the brown circles.  Voila!

My artwork is a lot more calmer and tamer.  I still have the circles, but they are smaller and not as intense as the previous look.  And more importantly, I don't get vertigo when I walk into my bathroom! 

The great thing about abstract art is that anybody can do it.  Abstract art doesn't require you to have the ability to draw.  Buy a canvas, pick colors you like, and go for it!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Naked Furniture

Today's post is about dressing up your furniture--sofas and chairs--with pillows.  Whenever I see a chair or sofa without accessory pillows, I think of the furniture piece as naked.  Accessory pillows can make a plain, ordinary piece of furniture into a show piece.  Also, you can change out the pillows during the seasons or when the mood strikes you.  Every sofa and chair in my house has a pillow or pillows.  I even have pillows in the arm chairs in my dining room:

When I want a different look for the room, I move the pillows around to another seat or I purchase new pillows.  I recently pulled out my Mama's Singer sewing machine (older than me and I'm 50) and sewed pillow covers.

Most sofas will come with two matching accessory pillows or two matching pillows and two contrasting pillows.  This look is fine, but you are limited to the design or look of the furniture manufacturer.  There's no rule to say that you have to use the pillows that came with the sofa.

When I purchased my current sofa in 2006, I ordered four accessory pillows--two of the same fabric as the sofa and two made from the fabric of a contrasting chair.  This is the way the sofa look when I first got it.

I initially wanted a monochomatic look so I wanted the colors to be very neutral and muted.  I lived with this look for a few years, and then I decided to spice things up a bit.  I still have the two pillows that match the sofa fabric, but I added two pillows that I purchased from Dreamweavers and I made the giraffe print bolster pillow.  See how the sofa has been transformed below:

By adding a pop of color and bold pattern, the sofa has been perked up.

Chairs don't normally come with pillows.  If you have your furniture custom made, you can have pillows made for the chairs.  But again, you are usually limited to the fabric choices the furniture manufacturer has in stock.

Notice how plain this chair looks without a pillow:

Now see how much better the chair looks with a bolster pillow:

For a brighter look in the summer months, I found this pillow at Target:

See how changing out pillows in this chair gives the chair a totally different look.

The pillows you select do not have to match the chair fabric.  I try to find pillows with some of the same colors as the chair or sofa fabric but with a totally different fabric.  This adds a layer of texture to the room.

If you just can't deal with different patterns, you can still add some interest to your furniture.  I helped a friend to select the fabric for her custom made sofa and chairs.  She had two accessory pillows made for the sofa out of the chair fabric.  We then went to Bed, Bath, & Beyond and purchased pillow covers to match the red in the sofa.  A pop of red is just what this room needed.

If you want to change the look or mood of your room, try changing out the accessory pillows.  Don't be afraid to mix patterns.  Just make sure the pattern in the pillow picks up the color(s) in your sofa or accessories in your room.  Go for it!!