Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Secret confession

The risk is high here--you will turn away in horror and never return to my blog after reading my secret confession of a thing that I covet.  But the truth will set me free, so here I go; I really want a clothesline.  I want a clothesline just like the one you see pictured above.  I snipped this out of Like Mother Like Daughter's blog  today.   Yes I, super sophisticated woman of the world that I am (okay, now I've lost you for sure and my friends are on the floor laughing), I want a clothesline.  My husband does NOT want one, which is why we don't have one.  He thinks they are just awful looking and tacky to boot.  But after reading that post and seeing that lovely picture, with the adorable dog laying in the grass, my resolve has grown dangerously strong.  

Have you ever smelled laundry that has dried out in the sunshine?  Have you seen how white a white cotton towel gets when it's dried on the line?  Even Pottery Barn can't bottle that kind of goodness.  Ok, I'm getting smarmy now at Pottery Barn's expense.  I'll stop.  But I won't take it back.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010


These plants usually hang on hooks on the front porch, bringing a little greenery and color closer to the house.  I water them faithfully, but have always noticed in the vegetable garden that plants love rainwater best.  So, on rainy days like today, I pluck the pots off the hooks and sit them down on the lawn to let them soak in the rain.  We need this rain and we're all going to enjoy it!


Monday, July 26, 2010

The American Tobacco Complex--an amazing space

The Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area is steeped in history. That means plenty of candidates for renovation and restoration.  The American Tobacco Complex in Durham is, in my humble opinion, the BEST example of a successful project that anyone could ask for.  The old tobacco warehouses now hold an art school, WUNC (public radio)--pictured above (sorry, it's a phone shot), other businesses and lots of great restaurants.  The architecture outside is gorgeous, including water features that make the hottest days feel cooler.  The inside architecture is beyond-the-pale cool.  Industrial elements, glass walls, amazing windows.  It feels like you can see every inch of the infrastructure of the buildings and it's all like walking through an art gallery. 

My new favorite restaurant over there is Tobacco Road (although they're all good).  It sits right above the outfield of the Durham Bulls stadium.  The food is good, the design of the space is great and there must be about 30 TV sets on the walls--excellent when eating with kids.  But it's the view out the windows that's the real reason to go.  Just pure fun as it's the ballpark itself.  Probably really exciting when a game is going on, but I enjoyed just watching the grass getting watered.  You can tell I'm not a big sports fan.

The American Tobacco Complex is really the sort of place that everyone can enjoy and it doesn't have to cost a thing to visit. You can just walk around and in and out of the buildings.  If you go, you'll see.  It's an amazing space.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

A quiet spot in the heat

It's not quite finished, but our new screened porch is completely useable at this point.  Even in this gosh-awful heat and humidity that we're having here in NC, sitting out here is tolerable, thanks to the ceiling fan and nearby trees. 
I want to be sure you see the stainless cable system we've used on this project.  Because the porch is over 30 inches from the ground, there has to be a chair rail and something protective/supporting beneath.  Many porches use spindles, like a traditional stairway or upper railing would have.  Instead, we used the stainless cable wire with these cool connectors at each end.  I LOVE this clean, modern look. 


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lovin' the look of Maine Cottage

I really love Maine Cottage furniture.  It's colorful and mixes comfortable, slightly old fashioned pieces with a contemporary twist.   Pictured here is their Zelda sofa in an outdoor wicker.  Right now the outdoor wicker is all 50% off.  If you go to their page and click on the "40 colors" tab, you can have fun trying out all the colors.  They sell furniture for every room in the house.  I've just been paying more attention to outdoor furniture because of the season. 

My sister, Susan, lives in Falmouth, Maine, and we went to the Maine Cottage store in nearby Yarmouth so that I could sit on the pieces and feel the fabrics.  I was very impressed with the construction.  Not inexpensive--but the sales are excellent and this furniture is going to last.  That store sits right on the water, so it's a very pretty place to visit. 

I really do believe in shopping locally whenever possible.  For example, Summer Classics in Raleigh sells gorgeous outdoor furniture, especially if you're looking for traditional pieces in classic stains (with amazing cushions).  But I also believe in seeking out special companies anywhere in the U.S.A. that offer something a little different.  Maine Cottage is a favorite of mine.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Local store review-antiques!

When Christine and I were in college  together (as adult students this time), we would go on "road trips" whenever we had a couple of hours between classes.  We would explore the surrounding area and had a lot of fun.  So now we continue that fine tradition whenever we can. 

Today we took a very short road trip right here in the Raleigh/Durham area.  We went into two antique shops on Rt. 70 in Durham, just north of Brier Creek in Raleigh.  Pictured above is the first one.  It's called K.A.S. Antiques.  It's a great place.  Karen, the owner, has accumulated a LOT of stuf.  Much of it is in the original, rough shape.  I like that.  The prices are reasonable and it's not all painted white, which seems to be the case at many other resources.  I like to paint my own pieces, thank you very much, and I would rarely ever paint anything white!  I brought home a little black iron bench for the porch--could be used as an extra seat, but I'm putting plants on it and will paint it a new color.  Karen's number at the shop is 919-451-1680.

Then we drove about 30 seconds further down the road to another shop, owned by Bob Johnson.  I don't think it even has a name, so just look for a place that looks like an antique/treasure shop right after KAS.  Mr. Johnson is a very interesting guy and has 10 rooms of stuff in his place.  Yes, 10 rooms (that's what he said and I believe him)!  He's open Monday-Saturday, noon to 5:00. Both places had some real finds and great prices and are run by nice people.  Go see for yourself!  And tell them that I sent you.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Easy peasy project, big impact

Sometimes (often) it's the simple ideas that can have a big impact in a room.  Years ago, I did this block painting project over a fireplace.  Using all sorts of leftover paint in the garage, I mixed yellow, white and beige to my hearts content, ending up with 8 colors (I think). 

Then I took a level, pencil and painters tape and just outlined squares and rectangles.  The key here is to label each cup of mixed paint and make yourself a little diagram of where each color is.  You'll need to do two coats, and believe me, you will NEVER remember which square is which cup of paint.  No mistakes can really be made though. When it was all done, I put a lovely framed landscape on the mantel.

I will always love this project.  It could go behind a headboard in a bedroom, on a plain, cheapo closet door, on a small wall in a dark hallway, around the mirror in a bathroom.  You could use any color combination that makes you happy, but I think part of my success here was that it was very tonal.   All one color family.  

Give it a try.  Easy peasy.


Friday, July 16, 2010

The wonderful world of Ikea

I went to Ikea 2 weeks ago with my pal Christine.  She and her hubby are building a gorgeous home and she's looking for a few new items to put in it.  Ikea is SUCH a great store to visit.  Their style is clean, modern and fun.  Their prices are very affordable.  The quality is totally decent.  By that I mean you can't treat the merchandise roughly or it will look shabby in short order.  But why would you want to treat the merchandise roughly?  Take care of it and it will hold up well.   

I know, the pictures I've chosen today are kind of white and plain, but these are two fabulous items.  The chair is a clear plastic material (ployblablablab) and really looks sharp.  I'd use it in the kitchen at the desk, in any age child's room, or as extra seating tucked away in room.  How about around a bistro table? 

The pendant lamp is gorgeous and around $50.  See the cool diffuser over the lightbulb?  Nice touch.  A few of these over a big island would be delish.  I believe this also comes in black.  The online catalog doesn't show nearly enough stuff.  Christine bought a pendant light that has a big drum shade for over the kitchen table.  It's going to be stunning.

If you have an Ikea anywhere near you, go there and look.  It's worth a little day trip.  Totally fun.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

The magic of slipcovers

Calico Corners sent me a notice about their slipcovers and I wanted to share the photo with you.  I would guess that every seat in the above room is slipcovered and don't they just look great?  There are lots of slipcovered pieces in my house.  Once you've purchase a good chair or sofa, you can easily keep it for many, many, many years.  All you have to do when you're ready for an updated look, is to have a slipcover made. 

Finding a seamstress or upholsterer who does a fantastic job is key, but just ask around and you'll find them.  I'm really loving that blue chair on the left, just because it has the crisp white welting (some people call it piping, too) on it.  Adorable. Fresh.  When having a slipcover made, always consider having some contrasting welting.  It's what says "custom" to me.  If not contrasting, then just something a little different to add polish to the look.

When choosing your new fabric for the slipcover, consider something that can be thrown in the washing machine.  After washing, throw it in the dryer, but take it out and put it back on the cushions before it's completely dry.  That's how you get it wrinkle free. I love a good slipcover.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Construction is almost done!

The new screened porch and deck are almost done.  The builder promises that it will be ready by next weekend, when we have guests arriving (the in-laws!).  I just cannot wait.  They put the screens in last Friday and I've sat out there every day for a good spell.  The weather was perfect for it--now the heat is creeping back in.  Such is life in the summer in North Carolina, so it makes no sense to complain about it.

We've put a lot of thought into the design of this deck and I'll go over some of the key features when it's all done.  Money is suddenly tight around here, so decorating will be done carefully and frugally, with a lot of using what we have.  Hey, that's my favorite kind of decorating anyway.  Tighter budgets call for more creativity and that's what it's all about.