Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year of Flowers

“I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”

That's a quote from Emma Goldman, written around 1930 and it pretty much sums up my feelings when it comes to a beautiful home--what could be nicer than fresh, fragrant flowers on the table for a holiday, Shabbat or just because?


During the past year I featured seasonal flowers in a monthly series called "Flowers on First". I posted these during the first week of each month and always used readily available flowers. Here is a look back at the monthly flowers featured in 2012...
Sitting here in Connecticut with 6 inches of fresh snow on the ground, the flowers bring back some warm memories of the past year. Here's to a great 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Painting Perfect Stripes

I love painting stripes on walls. It's easy, cheap and looks like wallpaper. I've used horizontal stripes to give a room a contemporary feel and vertical for a more classic look. Either way, the technique is the same.

For a long time I would pull off the painters tape only to find the paint bled and did not give me the crisp perfect edge I was looking for. Then I learned the correct way to do it--it takes a bit more time but the results are worth it!

The first step is to paint the walls a background color. For this room I painted the walls white. The next day I got to work measuring and taping the walls where I wanted my stripes to go. Because this is a tiny bathroom I went with 2 inch stripes which was the same width of the painters tape--it was easy to measure and tape using a level.

After the taping is done comes the important step that is the key to nice crisp lines...
You must seal the edges of the tape. Use the same color as your base coat and brush just enough paint on the edges to seal the tape.

After that dries it's time for the second color. Mine was yellow.

While the yellow paint was still wet I carefully pulled off the tape and held my breath...
 This step is definitely the most fun!

If you do have a few areas that are not perfect it's easy to fix with an artist brush.

Easy, right?

These are the walls I painted in the new master bath. I'm waiting for the light fixture I ordered online and I'll post the finished room!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Discount Shopping in New Haven

Monday morning was shopping day. I borrowed a van, grabbed a cup of coffee, took my notebook with measurements and drove to New Haven, CT for a day of bargain shopping!

My first stop was Hotel Liquidators. This store purchases furniture from hotels that are remodeling or closing then sells it to the public for crazy cheap prices. You have to be handy with a paint brush and a staple gun--things are often a bit chipped and the fabrics are dirty  but the quality is great--hotels do not have flimsy furniture!

The first piece I saw was this buffet. It was less than $200 and although it needed work, it might be perfect for my new dining room. I did not buy it and now I'm having second thoughts!

I liked this coffee table for my living room but the height was too high for my sofa. It was $39 and really heavy--gold is all the rage right now in home decor.

I did buy this bedside table for $39 for the master bedroom. It's a bit chipped and needs a new paint job but the size and shape are perfect--wait till you see it finished!

I also bought this bench for $39 to put in our front hall. It's huge--reminds me of benches in art galleries. I want to put a large painting over the bench after I paint the legs and reupholster new fabric on the seat.

These leather chairs were in perfect condition but the color just wasn't right for the new home. Now I'm wondering if you can dye leather?

Most large cities have these kinds of stores--just "google" hotel liquidators.

My next stop was Ikea. I needed so many small items for the house like shelves and hooks that I couldn't find anywhere locally.
My large purchase was the Karlstad sectional sofa for the den. The reviews are great--everyone seems to love it and it's very comfortable. The sofa comes in white and the slipcovers are purchased separately--I order the Lindo beige. My first choice was dark gray but our den has a lot of windows and I was concerned about the color fading in the sun.

I bought two of these Micke drawers to tuck under the desk we're building.

Since I'll be doing some open shelving in the kitchen I bought a few of the Ekby shelves with brackets.

The tiny master bathroom will have open shelving and these beautiful glass bottles will look great holding mouthwash and soap.

View from the dining room.

Aside from the fact I was pushing two carts by myself, it was a successful day!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Upshernish Invitations

Our grandson, Yosef is turning three-years-old next month and he'll be getting his first haircut. This ceremony, practiced by many Jewish families when a boy turns three, is called an Upshernish. It's a hair cutting ceremony and party where all the guests will be invited to take a "snip" of Yosef's hair. (Whether he lets us do this shall be determined!)

My daughter, Ariel and I have been busy planning the party but we could not find any invitations we liked so we decided to make them ourselves. After about 40 shots (two-year-olds do not sit still for very long) we came up with the winner. Using the software program, PicMonkey it was easy to add the type and send the file to Motophoto for prints.
The next day after the party, he'll go to the barbershop for his first real haircut.

The outtakes are always more fun than the final shot...

I'll post all the fun party ideas in the next few weeks...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Kitchen Planning

We're been living in our new house for three weeks and I wasted no time getting started on our kitchen renovation. The wall between the dining room and the kitchen has been torn down, another wall with two doorways has been made into one. Now for the fun part--designing the kitchen!

I found Pinterest invaluable for kitchen ideas. I print out the photos I like and keep them in a notebook that I can carry around with me when I'm shopping for cabinets. Here are some of my inspiration photos with some ideas that I hope to incorporate in our new kitchen.

I plan on doing grey base cabinets and white uppers. I'm also adding open shelving to keep things light and open and also save money!

Benjamin Dhong designed this kitchen--the contrast of dark and light is so dramatic.

Why not mix the counter tops? These are stone and butcher block.


Here are other great ideas I "pinned": putting the outlets under the cabinets instead of on the back splash, adding extra shelves in a cabinet for cookie sheets and large platters, paper towels tucked under the kitchen sink, great lighting from Schoolhouse Electric.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dash & Albert Rugs

A few months ago, my daughter Ariel asked me if I'm a foodie. Without missing a beat I answered, "No, I'm a home-ie"! I'm not sure if that's a real term but when it comes to design and decoration I'm just a little bit obsessed. 

I've been a fan of Dash & Albert rugs for quite some time. Now that we're moved into our new home and we are blessed with beautiful hardwood floors I have the opportunity to use their area rugs. 

For the family room I will be using the Monty Wool Hooked Rug...
I wanted a stripped rug in the den for a casual vibe and this one incorporated all the colors I am using in our new home. The floors in the den are terracotta tile so the rug will help warm and soften the room. I'll paint the walls either a soft gray or teal.

In the living room I chose their Plain Tin Charcoal Wool Hooked Rug...
I love how the beautiful pattern looks modern and global at the same time and the colors will be perfect for the living room. Maybe I'll paint the walls a khaki color.

I'll post the rugs again when the rooms are done. Or at least presentable. Here is what the den looks like now...
 We have a way to go....

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Master Bath

Note: I wrote this post last week before the tragedy happened in Newtown, Connecticut. My heart goes out to the families affected by this horrible event. 

Even though we're living in a mess I am enjoying the new house. We have almost 500 more square feet than in our last house so it feels spacious and open. Probably the worse room in the house is the master bathroom--there is no storage and it's the size of a phone booth! (Remember those?)

On the plus side, it's mostly in good shape and the yellow tile is a nice soft color. Most of our budget will be eaten up renovating the kitchen so gutting the bathroom is not an option.  I needed to make changes keeping the current surfaces to make the room more inviting.

Here is what I've got planned:
1. American Standard faucet
2. I'll be using the sink that's already there
3. Small bowls like these from West Elm will act as storage for small items
4. West Elm lacquered box
5. Stripe Citron Shower Curtain from West Elm
6. Pottery Barn Mercer Double Horizontal Scone
7. Nate Berkus Aztec Diamond Bath Rug from Target
8. Allen + Roth white wood shelf from Lowe's

Here's what I started out with...
On the left is how the bathroom looked when we moved in. There was a custom built cabinet that ran over the light fixture and above the toilet which provided much needed storage, but it just wasn't working for me. When we tore it out, part of the wall came out with it (opps).

Here is how it looks today...
The walls have been repaired and primed. I'll be hanging shelving to the right of the mirror. I always pick the paint color last, after all other materials have been chosen.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Laundry Makeover

We've been living in our new home for two weeks. Because we are renovating, most of the house is a wreck! I have wallpaper strippers, carpet layers, carpenters and plumbers in and out every day. 

There is one space however that is finished: the laundry closet. It's not a room--it's really a closet with folding doors that hide the washer and dryer. I knew it would be hard to paint after the new ones were installed so I got to work last week before they were delivered.

Here is what I started out with...
On the left is the washer and dryer belonging to the previous owners. On the right is a view of the empty closet. The muddy brown color didn't look fresh and clean to me and the cabinet doors seemed totally unnecessary. Why would I want to open the folding bi-fold doors and then have to open MORE doors?


I simply removed the cabinet doors, spackled the holes from the hinges, and painted the entire space, including the cabinets a fresh coat of white. I used a paint and primer in one to save time in an eggshell finish. These great fabric drawers are from Home Depot in the Martha Stewart storage section for $6.98 each and I picked up 6 of them...

they happen to fit perfectly in the space and make it easy to grab what I need. I already had the glass canisters from our old house--I'd rather see the laundry detergent in beautiful glass jars instead of the box they come in.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wrapping Chanukah Gifts

One of my favorite parts about Chanukah is wrapping the gifts. I try and create creative gift wraps that my friends and relatives look forward to receiving.
Except for this year.

We moved into our new home only a week before Chanukah and I'm lucky I found the box with the menorah and candles, let alone the wrapping paper and ribbons! 

I found these cute Chocolate bars from Bloomsbery Chocolates in the kosher section of our local supermarket and thought they were a fun way to present a gift card.

They even have a slot to slip the card into.

In the end, I did find the box with the gift wrap and ribbons and pulled together a presentable looking present.
Hope your holiday is filled with joy, light and miracles.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Chanukah Dessert Table

Just in case you missed my friend Brooke from the Sucre Shop's fun Chanukah dessert table on Houzz, here's a little peak. There are so many great ideas to steal that you can incorporate into your own Chanukah party!
PHOTOS: BERNELLA GOOSEBERRY
Dreidels spin so why not a "SPIN" sign decked out in lights? 

Cookies and milk? Yes, please!

Star of David cookies with holes in the center make perfect nests for the blue and white striped straws.

Wood scoops from the Sucre Shop are used for guests to dish out sprinkles and decorate their own donut.

Meringues shaped like dreidels are sandwiched together with royal icing.
See the entire story here on Houzz.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Easy Chanukah Placecards

Here's a quick and easy place card to put together for your Chanukah dinner.

I bought some blue patterned scrapbook paper at the craft store and some Chanukah stickers.

I liked the circle shape but you can use any other shape you like.

After cutting the paper into 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 squares, I then printed out the names of my guests in a pretty font from my computer and taped that to a window.
I taped the patterned paper over the name and traced over it with a sharpie. Instant calligraphy!

Fold the square in half and add the Chanukah sticker on top...
and you'll have place cards for the Chanukah table!

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