July 15, 2010

Simple, Sweet Shower Ideas

Tis the season for baby showers, or so it seems.  I've had so much fun planning showers this summer for some very adorable and hip parents-to-be.  Seems like there are a million and one ways to make these get togethers elaborate and splashy, but why not some simple home-grown ideas that are budget friendly, easy to do yourself, and still very sweet?  Like the effortless floral arrangements in varying sized mason jars above.  Who needs a florist when you can get a more unique no-frills look that's perfect for a casual at-home shower?

Onesies - these little bitty one-piecers are just so darn cute on their own.  String them on grosgrain ribbon along your mantel, someplace outside, or hang from a tree and your guests will be dreaming of the cute little munchkin that will one day wear them in no time.

Favors - let your guests take home a treat that's as sweet as the baby will be.  Try putting jelly beans or Jordan almonds into different sized bottles and tying festive ribbons on top.  These can be cute for tabletop decor and then guests can take them as they leave.  And who doesn't like Rice Krispie treats?!  We printed a sticker to match the invitation, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and affixed a polka dot bow to make them look like little presents.  Think brownies or cookies or any tasty pastry that you can wrap up with a bow. Find a cute place to display them, and they're instant eye candy too.

Punch - Nothing says shower like a good ol' fashioned punch.  With the plentiful supply of drink dispensers available today, displaying and pouring punch has never been so easy.  This cute idea is courtesy of my friend Brittney.  "Knocked Up" is the non-alcoholic "mama friendly" version and "Knocked Out" is the spiked variety.  Rubber duckies floating inside is like icing on the cake!

So get creative and have fun finding easy ways to add a sweet baby touch to your next shower.  Even the little details will make the moment more special and will get your guests excited about the real reason to celebrate - a wonderful new little bundle of joy that they'll soon get to meet.

June 22, 2010

I Wish I had Thought of This First

If you are like me, you mourned the loss of Domino. You couldn't fathom how a magazine that you and so many likeminded, inspiration-seeking readers found so compelling could be in enough financial trouble to collapse. I still sigh with longing every time I see The Domino Book of Decorating sitting on my coffee table, knowing that it’s the last official communication I’ll ever have from the brand. Are the days of print publications truly dwindling?? From a non-kindle book reader, non-electronic day planner carrier, and avid magazine fan (who is still very loyal to page turning and bookshelves) – I hope not!

But, if you are like me, you may be both surprised and delighted to know that there are still equally as interesting and inspiring insights (from a former Domino employee no less) currently on the web in the form of the very chic digital magazine Lonny.

No, you cannot physically rip out magazine pages to tuck away in your “someday, maybe” design file, but instead you can enjoy different benefits that only an online publication can provide: zooming in to each photo to admire the ottoman fabric and texture, and perhaps the most intuitive - clicking on a particular item you love and being directly taken to the website where you can buy it! Brilliant!

I came across the news of Lonny by reading Stuart Elliot’s In Advertising New York Times column this week. As someone who works in advertising, this type of online publication is particularly interesting because it’s an advertiser’s dream. And sure enough, all of my favorite online brands are in full participation, many even offering discounts if you click through the ad to their site. What a seamless integration and quality ROI.

It’s a great magazine with tons of content, and it's on the list of yet another thing I really wish I had thought of  first. Kudos to Lonny creators Michelle Adams and Patrick Cline for providing accessible content and inspiring ideas in a form that’s both useful and fun. Check it out! And let me know what you think!

May 24, 2010

B&B's, yes please!

Sorry, friends!  I know it's been a while since I've last posted.  But it's for good reason!  We were on vacation.  Bryson and I just got back from a coastal and wine country adventure in California.  Though every place we visited along Route 1 from LA to Napa was beautiful, interesting and amazing in its own right, I had to take a minute and share some pictures of what I think might quite possibly be the most adorable bed and breakfast I've ever seen: The Cass House Inn in Cayucos, California.

We've always said that our goal is to retire together at 50 and open our own B&B in a quaint little town and invite all our friends to come stay with us.  We would renovate it, decorate it, and Bryson would run the restaurant while I managed the "front of the house" ensuring each guest was pampered to perfection.  Well, that's essentially what Grace and Jensen Lorenzen did.  They are recently married, very gracious, and have the B&B thing down to a science.  I think you'll agree from these pictures that this place is charming in every sense of the word.

The beautiful grounds and gardens, where they grew a lot of the veggies they served in the restaurant:


Our cozy room and porch... I really could have moved in!

And one of the best parts, The Brown Butter Baking Company right next door which makes these delicious butter cookies with sprinkled sea salt on top!

If you ever find yourself driving from LA to San Francisco and are looking for a place to stay in between, definitely check out this little gem.  You'll be happy you did!  And did I mention that dinner and breakfast were two of the best meals we had the entire week?  Delish!

May 4, 2010

Melamine Mania

Not sure about all of you, but I've been suffering from a major case of spring fever.  The only thing I want to do is tiptoe through the tulips and lose track of time with a good book in the hammock. 

With this unyielding desire to be outdoors inevitably comes thoughts of summer barbecues, citronella candles, paper lanterns, and dining al fresco.  And this year, I'm determined to buy myself an practical, affordable and stylish set of melamine dinnerware.  I love how lightweight and durable they are, and there are so many adorable patterns and styles to choose from.  I need your help deciding!  Let me know what to choose.  I love them all!

Just a few of our fabulous options:

World Market - Two Tone Cane $3.99 a dinner plate

West Elm - Black and White $15 for a set of four dinner plates
Le Cedeaux - Fiorella $189 for a 16 piece set

 Le Cadeaux - Limon $189 for a 16 piece set 

 Le Cadeaux - Madrid $189 for a 16 piece set 

 Williams-Sonoma - Marsielle $53 for a set of 4 dinner plates


Crate and Barrel - Dots $9.95 a dinner plate

Working Class Studio - Tile Pattern $40 for a set of four dinner plates

I also found this super chic website called Monkey See Boutique that creates personalized melamine platters like this one which would make the perfect hostess or thank you gift:

Another website, La Plates, also allows you to customize and monogram plates in a variety of patterns and colors.  Wouldn't a set of 6 make an truly unique wedding gift that you know the couple would actually use each summer?? So cute!

La Plates - Bamboo $22 a dinner plate

Seriously, with prices and options like this, I might just have to mix and match several sets!  And when I do, let the deck dining and mojito sipping begin!

April 28, 2010

Home Roaming for A Good Cause

This past Saturday, April 24th, was the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties' second annual "Home Roam" house tour.  We were honored to be featured as one of the seven homes in Hope Valley who opened their doors to over 250 people in the community for a great cause.  The event was a huge success this year, thanks to the help of many passionate ladies!  Here are a few fun pictures from the day. 

I have to say that the weeks leading up to the tour were only slightly terrifying (the most people I've ever hosted before in one day was maybe 20!), but it was really fun being able to interact with the tour-goers and answer questions about what we've done to the house.  I have to say, there were lots of accent wall fans!  Validation for the determination!  Hopefully we have some new blog readers as a result too.

April 24, 2010

Accent-uation by Determination

Remember when Mom used to tell you "If at first you don't succeed, try try again?" Well, we've found the need to remind ourselves of this on several occasions, particularly on projects around the house that always seem to be more involved than originally planned for.  Maybe this is why one of my favorite things about paint is how forgiving it is...

Exhibit A - Our Sunroom Before = BEIGE and BORING

We love this cheery little breezeway between our living room and master bedroom because it gets tons of natural light from the windows on either side.  But after two years in the house, we got bored by how neutral it was.  It was practically screaming for some attention.  So then it dawned on me. Ding ding ding!  This is a perfect accent wall opportunity!  

Take 1 -A Step in the Right Direction

We started by painting only the raised panels on the board and batten wall (Benjamin Moore Davenport Tan) thinking it would create a subtle striped effect with some interesting depth.  And sure enough, the end result was definitely striped, but something wasn't right.

Take 2 - Closer, but Not Complete

We almost gave up and contemplated returning to a solid neutral again, but decided to give it another go by layering in another accent color.  We thought a pale green (Sherwin Williams Liveable Green) might be fresh and fun so we painted the panels in between each stripe.  As promoted, it was a very nice "liveable" green, but still, something wasn't right.

Exhibit B - Sunroom After = COLORFUL and FUN

Third times a charm!  Though I didn't hate the green, it occurred to me that it might look better to pull in an accent color that we used in both the master bath and on the master bedroom ceiling to give the layered spaces some unity.  We also thought it'd tone down the contrast of the bright green and tan.  So my very patient and wonderful husband tried yet again - and painted over the green using a subtle blue gray color (Sherwin Williams Comfort Gray)... and we finally nailed it!! 

We LOVE the way these colors bring life to the room and draw your eye in.  With all the natural light, it's fun to watch the color change at different parts of the day.  Thanks to Bryson's dedication and with lots of reassuring from me that this would be the LAST time he had to paint the same wall, we achieved exactly what we set out to do.

Best of all, we learned a valuable new life lesson: if at first you aren't HAPPY, paint paint again!

April 19, 2010

Cheap Thrill of the Month

I love a good bargain.  And I am over the moon thrilled when I find one that is as perfect as this one.

I snagged this adorable little silver table with a mirrored top at Marshall's for $16.99.  That's right, $16 bucks!  And yes, that's right, Marshall's!  What a steal.  We have a teeny half bath on the first floor, and I knew instantly it would pick up the brushed silver tones in our mirror (Chantilly Vines Mirror from Anthropologie) and wall color (Sherwin Williams Intellectual Gray).  Doesn't it look adorable with some tissues next to the sink??

Worth every affordable penny.

April 18, 2010

Weekend Project - Cabinet Flair

I have been itching to give the backs of my glass cabinets a little face lift for some time now.  Something that would really make the white and green china pop and add a splash of fun to the otherwise mundane routine of putting away dishes.  I thought about painting them a different color, but decided I wanted a little more visual interest.  However, I also knew I didn't want something as fussy to install and as permanent as wallpaper.

Which is why I was very happy to have found this really unique Black and White Paisley paper.  Isn't it beautiful?  It's made in Nepal with fibers from the Lotka plant which means it more textured and durable, than regular paper, almost like wallpaper.  After measuring my cabinets I determined that I needed 6 of the 20" x 30" sheets at $4.95 a piece.  I also invested in some Super Tacky Double-Faced Tape, $4.95 for a six yard roll. 

When the supplies arrived, I was excited to dig in.  What makes this project super simple is that you really only need the paper, the tape, scissors, a tape measure, and your time.

Installation is easy too!  Simply measure, line the back with the double sided tape, and adhere.  Fortunately, only one of my cabinets was wider than the 30" sheet of paper which meant I had to match up the seams of the design side by side.  This was a little tricky, but with dishes stacked in front of it, the seam goes away.  For the others, I just layered pieces vertically on top of each other, making sure that those seams hid behind the shelves. 

When I was finished, I thought the edges could look more finished, so I went out and bought a roll of black grosgrain ribbon for $3.99 and lined the sides.  This covered up the imperfections and gave it a nice clean line. 

I put the dishes back in and presto - a whole new look for under $50 and less than 3 hours! 

I also love that I can easily switch it out if I get sick of it or just want a change of flair.  HAPPY!  Even Winston thought so...

Here are some other ways to add flair to unlikely and otherwise boring places using wallpaper or decorative papers.

China Cabinets


Even up the stairs!

And the same simple "pop" can be achieved using paint in unexpected places.


Kitchen Cabinets

Small Chests and Dressers

And there you have it - super simple and totally worth it.  Now, go out and give your home some flair!  And send me pics!