Sunday, August 31, 2008

I Love These Ideas! Sunday

Happy long weekend! Here are some great ideas to browse as you celebrate:
Daisy Cottage does a great job illustrating how you can use furniture and mirrors outside as well as inside for an interesting look. Lots of eye candy on her blog, so be sure to check her out.

I love this idea from Eleanor at A Bit of Pink Heaven. She created this garden art by spray painting metal objects she got on sale. Very clever!

I'd love to hear more ideas for future I Love These Ideas! Sunday columns.

Drop me an email at: if you've got an idea of yours or someone else's to share.

Featured bloggers, grab a badge if you'd like:

Here's the code:

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, August 29, 2008

A sad, but inspirational story and a chance to help

One of the amazing things about blogging and reading blogs is how you get to know people, or feel like you know people, that you've never met. News of their lives, their families, their work, their problems and their successes leak into the blog posts.

I find myself thinking about people that I've never met, sometimes worrying about them.

Lately my thoughts have been with Stephanie Nielson, of Nie Nie Dialogues. She and her husband were critically injured in crash of a private plane earlier this month in Arizona. The flight instructor died in the crash and Stephanie and Christian were badly burned.

They have four young children and the extent that family and friends have rallied around them has been inspirational, as you can read through Stephanie's sister's blog.

I have to say, I had never run across Stephanie's blog before this happened. But I do read Design Mom, and learned about the family through her blog. And now they are on my mind... that's just how this works.

I wanted to pass this family's story along to you in case you haven't already heard it both because the faith and strength that the couple's relatives and friends are exhibiting is amazing, and because there are many efforts underway to raise money for Stephanie and Christian, whose recovery will be extensive.

Design Mom has organized Nie Nie Day, with more than 300 bloggers auctioning off items to raise money. While they started yesterday, many of the auctions continue through Sunday. If you'd like to participate by buying something, Design Mom has a list of the auctions here.

I'm off to shop. See you on Sunday.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Now I want a new bathroom, and I'm hungry

Don't you love it when you discover a fun decorating product? I caught part of a lighting special on HGTV the other day, which illustrated how the right lighting can transform a room.

Then they showed the product I love the idea of: a pendant light that screws into a recessed light instead of a light bulb. In the photo above, the homeowner had a few recessed lights over the tub and the designer replaced them with pendant lights. No electrician. No waiting weeks to get an electrician to come to the house. No expense of an electrician.

HGTV lists the source as A Well Hung Light (I dunno...maybe the owner was a writer for Benny Hill in a previous life...).

Looked quick and easy and, next to Lindt Lindor Truffles, in dark chocolate, there's nothing better than that.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Update: Call for help answered!

A quick update: Wanted to be sure anyone who was interested in yesterday's post about ceramic toothbrush and soap holders saw that Jen at Sanctuary Arts at Home was nice enough to post her how-to on getting better use out of these.

Check her out!

And thanks to everyone else who made suggestions, too!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No other flower will smell as sweet after you try this

Remember a while back when I wrote a post about planting squash simply because I like to make fried squash flowers? Well, it's time!

I thought I'd pass along a little how-to.

First, mix together milk and flour (sorry, I didn't measure, but the consistency is a little thinner than pancake batter). Add a pinch of salt and pepper and a dash of Tabasco if you want.

Rinse off the flowers and remove the stamens. Pat them dry.

Throw the flowers in the batter. And mix them around (with your hands, unless someone is looking...).

Drop the coated flowers into a pan with heated olive oil. I let them clump together so they wind up like a pancake, but you could use a larger pan and spread the flowers apart more.

Once the flower/pancake is golden brown, flip it and fry the other side. (How did I manage to make such a mess on the stove? And, in the interest of full disclosure, I also started a little grease fire when I flipped the flower/pancake and got oil on the hot coil... But, even if you burned down the house, you'd make these again...)

Then put the flowers on paper towel and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Good stuff! When I was eating this last night, I was thinking it could use a little sour cream dipping sauce on the side, maybe with fresh chives. The flavor is a little nutty and the flowers are tender, almost creamy. And there's a crunch to it.

My 5-year-old son loved them, as did his little friend from across the street.

My husband dismissed them, saying after one bite: "fried and salty." The weird part: He said that like it's a bad thing.

As good a man as he is, you can't rely on his palate. His favorite movie food: Sour Patch Kids. There, I outted you.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, August 25, 2008

A decorating conundrum: Help!

I love older homes. We couldn't find one in the area where we moved last time we moved. As much as I like my current house, I'd dump it in a second for a vintage one.

Older houses usually have way more character than newer ones. But they do pose some this one my friend Suzanne has.

Here's what she says: "I have a built-in ceramic toothbrush holder, but not one of my toothbrushes fits in the small holes now that toothbrushes have wide, ergonomic designs. I also have virtually no counter space for a cup (which gathers gook anyway) or any other contraption. I was hoping there would be some ingenious person out there who has come out with an adapter for built-in toothbrush holders. "

She says that she winds up leaving the toothbrushes precariously leaning on her contact solution and they fall down. And the soap dish actually doesn't usually hold soap, but toothpaste tubes (four of them, one for each member of the family...) so a solution for that would be great, too.

So the challenge: How can Suzanne store toothbrushes and other needed items without removing the ceramic holders there now or rendering them useless?

Maybe some sort of a shelf that spans the ceramic holders? Or does an adapter already exist? Or are there other ideas out there?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I Love These Ideas! Sunday

Kimba at A Soft Place to Land always has great ideas to pass along. Here she combines a platter, wine glasses, votives, gourds and pine cones for a creative, use-what-you-have centerpiece. Clever and resourceful!

Here's an idea I plan to try. Rhoda at Southern Hospitality offers a creative suggestion for covering up grout that never seems to look clean. I've had our tiled kitchen floor professionally cleaned ... and sealed... and it looked good for about a week. So I'm glad for Rhoda's suggestion. I'll let you know how it turns out on my floor.

Finally, this from A Romantic Porch. It's not so much an idea as it is a photo essay about summer. I love how she approached this. Take a look and escape to a lazy summer day... for a few minutes...

I'd love to hear more ideas for future I Love These Ideas! Sunday columns.

Drop me an email at: if you've got an idea of yours or someone else's to share.

Featured bloggers, grab a badge if you'd like:

Here's the code:

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, August 22, 2008

Who are these people anyway?

I have a final thought to pass along on hanging photos or artwork (for this week anyway).

I love how my friend Marianne hung her collection of silhouettes.

Hanging any one of them alone would have been fine, but see how much greater the impact is with them gathered together? The black and white silhouettes and the black frames create a piece of art themselves, regardless of the subject matter.

This could work with any collection, especially if the frames are all the same. And, if you want to start collecting silhouettes, keep in mind that the older ones are more affordable in singles rather than pairs. You can also find a lot of them that are inexpensive from the '50s, '60s and'70s, when people tended to get their kids' silhouettes done more.

See you on Sunday with my I Love These Ideas! column. If you or someone you know has a fun, interesting or creative idea for decorating, feel free to pass it along to me at


Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Time to let these brides shine

I thought I'd show you one more idea for photos in addition to the tips I posted yesterday.

I found I had a lot of wedding photos when I was going through older family photos for the wall heading up my staircase.

So, I decided to feature a bunch of them on another wall. Some are copies of photos I borrowed.

And a few friends still owe me copies of their wedding portraits. You know who you are...

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Picture this: Hanging photos without a hassle

I'm often asked about the best way to hang multiple photos, along the lines of what I've done in the wall heading up the stairs of my house.

So I thought I'd pass along a few tips:

  • Decide on a general overall shape you want to wind up with: rectangle, square, asymmetrical... For my wall, I decided to follow the line of the stairs.
  • This works really well, especially if you've got a lot of pictures: Trace the frames onto paper and hang the paper shapes on your wall with tape. That way you can switch things around without making holes in your wall. When you're sure you're happy, hang the photos.

  • Mat at least some of the photos to give your eye a rest around the photos. Same when you hang the photos... leave spaces around them so you can really appreciate each of the photos.

  • If you've got a lot of smaller photo or snapshots, think about combining them in a single piece. If you don't know how to mat your own photos, a professional can do it.
  • You can cut down on the cost of hiring a professional by finding your own frames. I scouted for antique or second-hand frames for months for my staircase before I took some of them to be professionally matted.

    Photos can be copied so easily now and the results are good enough that it's hard to tell when you're not dealing with an original.

  • If relatives have photos you love, especially older photos, borrow them and copy them for yourself.

A lot of the photos on my wall are copies, like the one above, of my Aunt Carol, Uncle Mike and their kids.

Great family, but Cindy's a little dippy, Jan's insecure, and Marcia, well, it's all about her...

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Your assignment: Spiff up your office space

School's almost in around here. You know what that means, right?

Time for learning... reconnecting with friends.... becoming a better citizen...

No! It's a decorating opportunity!

I re-design a furniture and home goods consignment store a few times a month and last night was all about getting back to school.

The store had about a dozen desks and we focused on them to remind people that it's time to create a quiet and organized spot for homework.

Unlike a store that sells new items and orders whatever it needs, we use whatever the consigners have brought in.

That situation is a lot like what people deal with at home so I thought I'd pass along a few tips:.

  • See that cabinet? A few weeks ago, we put china in it and paired it with a dining room table and chairs. This week it's holding books and would look great in an office, or even in a dining room that is doing double duty as a homework space.

  • Got a desk but no chair? Sometimes it's more interesting not to have a matching set. Pull in a dining room chair or even an upholstered chair from a living room. If you have to buy a single chair, they are usually a great bargain at second-hand stores because they are tougher to sell than chairs that come as part of a set or at least a pair.

  • Need pencil holders? Try a vase or a deep bowl. We put some of those to use last night.

  • Don't forget the lamp! Even if you've got overhead lighting, you really need a lamp at a desk for that close-up work. Again, single lamps are pretty inexpensive.

  • Finally, you don't necessarily need something that was built to be a desk to create a useful and beautiful homework spot. Dining tables provide lots of surface space and can be used in offices, or in family rooms. Tables that don't come as part of a dining set can be a bargain, too.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, August 18, 2008

At my cabin, you can also let your freak flag fly

We're home from a week at a beautiful lake in New Hampshire. Lots of swimming and boating and relaxing...

These are some of the cabins on the property where we vacationed. Some relatives stayed in one of them. My family opted for a bit more room and rented a larger cabin elsewhere on the property that was recently renovated.

The decor in the smaller cabins is definitely rustic. Our rental had the benefit of things like a microwave... Sheetrock... insulation.

I thought I'd show you the photo of the outside of the cabins because that's exactly how I would decorate them if I owned them.

I love the full and well-tended flower boxes and flags and lawn chairs and view of the lake.

The owner, however, did a few things I would not. She nixed the kids' using sidewalk chalk on the driveway and asked us to stash the beach towels that we had drying on a deck railing because she didn't want to look at them.

I mention this not because it infringed on our good time, but to point out something I really believe about good design. Beautiful, comfortable and inviting spaces enhance our quality of life.

But we don't live inside postcards. Sometimes things get a little messy, especially when you're having a good time. And, as far as I'm concerned, the best-designed spaces are the ones that leave room for a little fun.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Love These Ideas! Sunday

Vacation is over and I'm happy to make my first post back about some great ideas I found at other blogs.

Check out this idea from Tales From An O.C. Cottage for a switch plate redo.

The blogger writes: "My bedroom switch plate was plain and boring, so I added a bit of zing with a collection of mother of pearl buttons. Since it was my little piece of artwork, I added a frame to finish the look. It looks gorgeous in the morning sunlight!"

How clever is that?!

Little Pink Houses had this wonderful idea for a headboard... made out of a found door given a coat of paint and molding on top. Beautiful and inexpensive!

Finally, from Crazy Kyley. Take a look at the bedroom rehab she did for her daughter. Colorful and pretty!

I'd love to hear more ideas for future I Love These Ideas! Sunday columns.

Drop me an email at: if you've got an idea of yours or someone else's to share.

Featured bloggers, grab a badge if you'd like:

Here's the code:

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Still Love These Ideas!

I'm off this week for some R & R.

But! Before you run off... I'll be posting some reruns in case you missed them on the first go-around.

How about checking out some previous I Love These Ideas! Sunday columns where I feature the great ideas of other bloggers?

While I'm at it, a reminder: If you have any interesting design, decorating or improvement ideas for the home, office or garden, let me know by emailing me at

If I feature your idea, you get this great badge and a big dollop of link love!

See you on Sunday with new content!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, August 14, 2008

If it's time to move, it's time to get moving

I'm off this week for some R & R.

But! Before you run off... I'll be posting some reruns this week in case you missed them on the first go-around.

Selling your home? Here are a few tips for getting it ready... and, in this market, being ready is what it's all about.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Grab a mop: Where design and bodily functions collide

I'm off this week for some R & R (and that don't mean Redesign and Renovation, folks...).

But! Before you run off... I'll be posting some reruns this week in case you missed them on the first go-around.

Today: Posts involving bodily functions. Why not?

And then you might want to hop over to Blog Nosh Magazine. An article of mine is featured there today along with others. It's a great way to find other blogs you might like.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Without "before," there could be no "after"

I'm off this week for some R & R (and that don't mean Redesign and Renovation, folks...).

Before you run off... I'll be posting some reruns this week in case you missed them on the first go-around.

Today: I love Before and Afters. Do you? Here are a few to check out:

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, August 11, 2008

Get your running shoes ready: It's almost time for Brimfield!

I'm off this week for some R & R (and that don't mean Redesign and Renovation, folks...).

But! Before you run off... I'll be posting some reruns this week in case you missed them on the first go-around.

Now, I know I haven't been around long enough for reruns... but I figured if Lost can do it mid-season, so can I.

First up: Posts on Brimfield, the largest antique show in all of the world. (I don't know if that's true, but it's big.) AND it's coming up again Sept. 8 through Sept. 13.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I Love These Ideas! Sunday

Olympics, Sm'olympics. The real champs are these folks who posted some great ideas this week. Check 'em out:

Monday through Sunday with TWO great how-to's. First, she turned abandoned bifold doors into a beautiful headboard:

And, I bet you think this is tile on her lanai? Right? Wrong! It's concrete she painted. Good job!

Making A House A Home had this great idea for covering up flowered tiles she didn't like in her kitchen. These are coasters. Clever, huh?

Finally, from Savvy City Farmer, who whipped up this little kitchen redo... you know, in her spare time.

I'd love to hear more ideas!

Drop me an email at: if you've got an idea of yours or someone else's to share.

Featured bloggers, grab a badge if you'd like:

Here's the code:

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, August 8, 2008

An easy kitchen fix: No cooking involved

I thought I'd end the week with a simple idea for jazzing up your kitchen if you have one like mine.

Our kitchen had nondescript oak cabinets with no knobs or pulls when we bought our house eight years ago. (The counter tops and back splash were pink laminate... the '80s were not kind.)

To update without spending a lot of money, we put bead board up on the back splash, right over the laminate (after we figured out how time-consuming it was to try to remove the laminate).

We also painted the cabinets white and added brushed nickle hardware. (Another tip: Do you know how expensive it can be to replace hinges on a lot of cabinets? Instead, I removed all the brass hinges and spray painted them nickle. Worked great and super easy to do.)

After all that was done... I still felt that the kitchen needed more charm. So, I recently removed those two cabinet doors and took them to a glass shop. They took out the inside panels and replaced them with glass.

I attached wine glass holders to the underside of the shelves and created a little bar area.

The project was easy and pretty inexpensive. And those are two of my favorite things.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Blue and white and pretty all over

Every few weeks I help the owner of a local furniture consignment store redesign the shop.

When you take in consignments, you can't entirely plan what you are going to wind up with. The trick is to arrange the furniture and accessories so the customers can appreciate the beauty of what's for sale... and not feel like they are looking at a random bunch of stuff.

The process is a lot like the one I use when I redesign a room in a home. A little rearranging, a little borrowing from here, a little editing there and presto: the room feels pulled together.

I posted this photo from a recent redesign at the store to illustrate a trick I like to use.

With help from the shop owner's daughter, my little helper Charlotte, we pulled all the blue and white china pieces from around the store to use in a dining area we created. You probably don't want to use two dining tables and two china cabinets at home, but you can see how the repetition of color makes the display so much more dramatic.

You can do the same at home by scouring the house for one color of objects and displaying them in a cabinet or on a table.

I double dog dare you not to love it.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My bathroom had that "gotta go" feeling

So, here I was going through life preaching the benefits of creating a spa feeling in your bathroom, especially if you have a master bathroom.

Even if it's small, I would say, it's so much more relaxing if you treat it like a sanctuary... especially if you are staging your home for sale, but even just to treat yourself.

But, in reality, my own master bath resembled something out of the movie Poltergeist, where you open the bedroom closet to Satan's lair... only with mold and peeling wallpaper thrown in.

Recently though we pried open the door, beat back the demons and got to work.

Two counters used to form an "L", with another sink where the towel rack is. We closed up the plumbing on that wall and moved the two sinks to one wall to make the place roomier.

But what I really want to point out are the two ottomans. I wanted to incorporate some seating for that spa feeling, and this is really all that would fit. (I took this photo standing in the bathtub, so although it's a good-sized bathroom, you can see it's not gigantic.)

We were skeptical at first. Would the ottomans be in the way? Would we trip on them in the night? Would they feel contrived?

So far, so good. I really like sitting there to blow dry my hair or paint my nails.

I'd give it a go in your bathroom if there's any space at all. Add a chair or a stool, a plant and a few fluffy towels and see if it doesn't transform the room.

Any other suggestions out there for creating a bit of a spa at home?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

No love like blog love

My cyber friend Courtney from Nesting Instincts surprised and flattered me with this award yesterday:

She does the same kind of redesign work that I do, only in Oregon. I read her blog daily cause it's full of great ideas, and I recommend you hop over there and check her out if you don't already.

Since I can't give the award back to her... I'm passing it along to a few other blogs I also love...

Chris at Just a Girl has sooo many good ideas. No kidding. I dare you to check out her blog and not find something you want to try... She'll show you everything from how to make an Indiana Jones birthday cake to how to arrange accessories on a shelf.

Plus that girl knows how to find a bargain...

Porchlight Interiors

These interior stylists from Australia offer a blog so loaded with eye candy... you really should floss your contacts right after reading. Whether they're showing us a study in black and white or inspirations for a home office, the emphasis is on beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Linda does wonderful work and is always worth checking out. But you've absolutely got to see the playhouse she created for her daughter. I so want to move in...

Thanks again, Nesting Instincts!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, August 4, 2008

I'd go back: Only to decorate...then I'd drop out...

Here's what I didn't like about my first college roommate (approximately 30,000 years ago):

  • Not that she went out partying one night the first week of school.
  • Not that she stumbled into our dorm room drunk and woke me up.
  • Not that she threw up and passed out.
  • Not even that I had to clean up her mess since I really didn't know anyone else yet and my choices were: make it go away or try to sleep with it there on the floor all night.

No, what really bothered me was that she ruined a rug that her parents had bought for the dorm room to put over the institutional carpeting.

And I thought that was cool that they did that because decorating a dorm room wasn't that common, you know, 30,000 years ago.

Now there are so many choices for making dorm rooms comfy. So I scouted around to show you a few ideas in case you know anyone heading off to college soon.

OK, bed risers are fairly common and aren't just for dorm rooms... but I do love them. They make room for storage under the bed and give a bed so much more presence.

Macy's has these on sale for $9.99 for four.

JC Penney has these floor loungers on sale for $79.99. They're adjustable. I think they look like a fun place to hang out. offers 80 peel and stick Dottilicious Wall Art dots for $49.99. You can arrange them any way you want.

I like the idea of this Cling Thing Message Board, also from It's supposed to stick to walls without hurting the paint and then you just stick stuff to it.

PB teen has this lounging/storage system. I would have loved this when I was in college... or now.

Has anyone out there found anything fun to add to the list?

PS: Lil' Miss Pukester and I parted ways shortly after she redecorated the rug. I hope she's happy now... or in prison... whichever.

Stumble Upon Toolbar