Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Yes, Paint Can Make a Room Look Bigger

I said goodbye to the last of the yellow in my house over the weekend. The living/dining room was the final thing to go. Those rooms have been: Oyster (when we moved in), Pebble, some kind of mossy green, Ralph Lauren Stadium Red, and two different shades of yellow, over the last 22 years. I played with paint like it was a big box of crayons and now I'm ready for something clean and simple. And is it just me, or did the room get bigger? Seriously, it's like a magic trick.

Valspar High Hide White, right off the shelf. Shaken and stirred.

It had pretty good coverage but I still put on two coats in fear that this winter in direct sunlight my shoddy painting would come back to haunt me.

I have a few details to finish up but do you remember what this room looked like before? 

I liked the eclectic, evolved over time look of this room but the yellow was looking a lot more tired in real life than it does in these photos. I'm also in the mood to remove everything from my surroundings that doesn't have any special meaning. That means anything mass produced is headed for a yard sale this weekend and only original art, photographs, and items with some memory attached will be allowed to take up precious space.

I'm over wanting the house to just look pretty. Now I also want it to tell a story. Rugs have been removed for the most part except for the den and guest room. The story our bare floors are telling is how hard our animals are on rugs. Why can't anyone ever throw up on the tile?

Working on pulling it all back together and adding in some fresh projects and updates! 

Friday's post is likely to be a catalog of yard sale items. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Little Scandinavian Inspired Decorating Details

Earlier in the week I promised you details about the work in progress around here. We've come a long way in Project Empty Nest and up next are the living room and dining room. But here's how my Scandinavian Fantasy, which kind of sounds like it's going to include someone named Sven, is playing out in my Southern 1960s Colonial. I actually decorated and then found these photos to go with this blog post. I was even surprised at how many elements I hit without much research. Sometimes you just know.

All white bedding. 

Peg racks. The most functional thing ever invented. The traditional dala horse I picked up in Stockholm.

 I found this pillow at Home Goods and it was screaming at me to bring it home. A traditional Scandinavian design is below. Total accident but I loved the graphic bird and pop of orange.

Galvanized metal and painted furniture. Painted furniture being my favorite thing, naturally!

Painted china cabinet: check. Though I'm using mine in the bedroom to hold accessories.

Graphic art in a recycled frame. Through the letters you can see a map of Helsinki, below on the sign I made. 

For the sources of all the inspirational photos I've used here you can visit my Pinterest board: Scandinavian Design.

Friday, July 11, 2014

How Dealing With Other People's Stuff is Making a Minimalist of Me

In the past 5 years I have been responsible for cleaning out the homes of elderly relatives 6 times. I have moved my mother three times, a cousin with dementia once and then single handedly managed her estate sale, and am about to tackle the mother in law wing of our house after her passing in May. This is in addition to delivering and retrieving things from hospital rooms and rehab facilities on countless occasions.

I am over things. Everyone's things, even mine. Of course if you are a regular reader you know that.

Here are the 3 personality types that I've dealt with in this process:

Child of the Depression: This mind set is really common among people who grew up during the Depression when there wasn't enough of anything. You'll often hear them say "But you might need it someday." The problem is that when they need it they can't find it amid the clutter.

The Collector: They have 3 complete 12 place settings of china and every serving piece ever made. Everything is in a set. Everything matches. Everything is really dated. They can't get rid of anything because they remember how hard it was to find it all.

The Materialist: The opposite of the Minimalist, this person seeks self worth and identity in material things. They spend lots of money on brands and labels. If this person is homebound QVC is their crack.

It is depressing to see how it all ends. Perhaps not a big deal if you have to do it once, liquidating other people's things repeatedly however makes the lesson stick. It is all too much. We often hear older people say that they don't want to be a burden to their children but few imagine the weight that cleaning out a lifetime of possessions will be.  And it all comes with guilt. That's the real burden. However you choose to do it, discarding another person's treasures feels wrong.  You agonize over every thing you touch-- Should I save it?

While cleaning out drawers, closets, and attics I've become immune to shopping. Going to stores and browsing as entertainment isn't the fun it once was. That thing you are so excited about taking home must be cleaned, cared for, moved, and eventually gotten rid of, if not by you then by someone else. I wish I had all the money back I've ever spent on items that a few years later ended up in my driveway for sale at a fraction of the price I paid. I've become much more interested in taking care of what I do have, or updating it instead of replacing it.

The other big shift in thinking came from traveling to Scandinavia, where minimalism is a way of life. Homes are uncluttered. Experiences and relationships are valued above things. The environment is treasured. Far from being stark and cold interior design feels well planned and orderly. Serene.  Less is more is more than a catch phrase. It's an attitude. And it's true.

Having sold or given away entire households of things has also revealed something else: The things you are keeping in a back room or attic are actually needed by someone else. I've given things away that were clutter to me, and had people literally jump up and down because for them it was a need.  We all need to be practicing better stewardship of what we own. That means that when it is no longer useful to us we pass it along to someone who needs it. Even if we have need of something we ought to be more realistic about how much of it is necessary. I found 4 funnels in my mother's kitchen and could not imagine why she needed even one.

If you haven't had the first hand experience of dealing with someone's estate then I would advise you to stop by a few estate sales this weekend. Walking through homes and watching strangers going through someone else's linen closet and kitchen drawers is sobering.

Here's the take away:

No one gets out alive and you can't take it with you. Plan now to leave your children a few things that are actually valuable or hold some real meaning (to them, not you). Beyond that leave them with wonderful memories, stories, and life lessons.

You might want one of those lessons to be living simply.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Vintage Linen Salvation

I have too many projects going on right now. My mother has gone to assisted living and I'm clearing out her apartment. My mother in law passed away and I'll have to deal with her things next. Over the weekend I gave myself a break and worked on a couple of small projects. One of them was creating a watermark for my blog photos so that they look more professional and if anyone pins anything there's the name of the blog right on the photo. Oh how I wish I'd been doing this all along. It's a pretty easy process if you have photographs you want to make sure are credited to you. Here's the tutorial on Picmonkey: Tutorial: How To Claim Your Artistry by Adding a Watermark.

Picmonkey is the site I use for all those before and after shots. It's super easy to create a collage and you can edit the photos before or after.

Several years ago a woman in an antique store told me that lemon juice and bright sunlight was the way to remove stains from vintage linens. Recently while purging I found an opportunity to test out that method.

I had a couple of vintage tablecloths with stains. Stains that were probably 50 years old...at least. One was my grandmother's and is a fun example of mid-century color. The other I inherited from a relative when it didn't sell with her estate. It charmed me so I've kept it until now.

I wanted the lemon juice to work, but I was sure I could still see the stains. Though the sun was so blinding against all that white it was hard to be sure. I resorted to bleach in a spray bottle and attacked the stains again. After rinsing they seemed to be gone.  There are several ways to remove stains and frankly bleach is probably the harshest choice. Other people swear by Oxi-clean, peroxide, and original Dawn dishwashing liquid. 

Do you see the stain in the photos below?

When I finished the tablecloths I pressed 3 vintage handkerchiefs with lovely details.  I'm usually a big picture person and want to redecorate a room or paint a piece of furniture. Caring for tiny delicate things is comforting in its own way though. There is something especially sweet about real handkerchiefs.

You can tell from these photos that I'm still trying to get the hang of making that watermark a uniform size.

Here's the tablecloth amid several things I have for sale right now.


Have you saved an old tablecloth or other vintage linens? What technique worked for you?  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Home Made Plant Markers For a Restaurant Patio

My daughter works at a restaurant this summer, while waiting for her first teaching job to start, where the chef grows his own herbs on the patio. It's not uncommon to order a mojito and watch the bartender go out and pick the mint for your drink. But Princess OCD who is busy trying to organize the world over on her blog,  Organized Charm noticed that the plants were unmarked. She set about remedying that. She found a clever and cheap idea over on Less Than Perfect Life of Bliss.

Luckily,  I had small dowels left over from my daughter's wedding....3 years ago. Remember the ribbon wands? I also had an aluminum tray leftover from Thanksgiving. The original instructions called for making the words with a very sharp pencil, but I'd bought a set of letters for engraving on furniture and my daughter used those instead.

You start by cutting out little flags from your aluminum catering tray. Then you emboss them on a soft surface with the letters.

The last step is to wrap them around the dowel and glue them into place.

We think they turned out to be adorable and it was super easy!

 Now the patrons on the patio will know what they are looking at!