Lamps are an easy and inexpensive way to make a statement in a room.

When Tom and I were just starting out,  beautiful, stylish lamps were expensive and you didn’t go out and buy one on a whim.  Of course there were cheaper options around, but they looked cheap and the light from them was so dim as to be pointless. 

But nowadays there are so many retail outlets that have wonderful and stylish lamps:  TJ Maxx, HomeGoods and Marshalls.

Recently i looking online and found these at Target.

All of these are under $50!  

I want to replace a couple of lamps in the living room which were affordable thrift store finds.  They are serviceable, but when I look at them in pictures I see how blah they are.  

I want something chunkier, more textural, more noticeable.  Today I was out thrift shopping and found this guy just waiting for me,  for $25; originally it was $50 but had been marked to 50% off.

Exactly what I had pictured, appeared:  a bulky, textural and neutral base to perk up this corner.  Sometimes, it is kind of like that at thrift stores.  I have a particular item I am looking for and I find it!  As if I somehow conjured it up.  Weird, but it happens.

I used the same shade from the previous lamp, which has a little nubby texture going on.  But I’m also considering other options for a shade.

Way better, right?
Below is the other lamp I want to replace.

I think one of the lamps from Target that I started this post with would do nicely here.  Right now I like the idea of the chunky gold.  Of course the marble and wood one would jazz things up quite a bit also.  Sounds like a trip to Target is in order.  Seeing them in person will make it much easier to decide which is the right one.

What are your thoughts?  I’d love to hear!

Living Room Updates

I have a theory that all homes have problem spots:  odd corners or walls that we just don’t know how to handle.
I have one such space in my living room.  There is a wall that sits between two doorways.
This is how it looks today.
I tried all kinds of different tables, chairs, styles and arrangements to fill the area.

Because the living room is somewhat narrow and long, I was worried about making this side of the room bulky and crowded.  So I ended up with bare and spare.

I was stuck.  I could not figure out what to do.  Even browsing Pinterest and magazines turned up no inspiration.

Until I found this console table, on an antiquing trip with my sister.

It fits the space very well, and is low enough to use as a side table.  I have been playing around with the decor on it since last summer when I bought it.

With the console in place I was able to decide on the art and the other finishing touches.  Although, what am I saying, I’m far from finished.  I want to update the lamp on the console, add some more art and tweak the decor a bit.

I am getting there though, bit by bit.

Dining Room Chairs

I have been looking for dining room chairs for years now.  One reason it’s taken years is that I didn’t really know what I wanted. 
I saved a few pins, some pictures from blogs.  I looked at thrift stores thinking that if I found a bargain, something I could paint or recover, then that would be great.
And I had these chairs (below), which I had found mostly at thrift stores, so I had something.  I mean I wasn’t desperate for chairs. I recovered the seats so they tied in with the carpet.

But I really wanted to lighten up the traditional look in this room.

And then one day I was browsing our neighborhood site and found a listing for six Pottery Barn parsons chairs for $200.  A couple of emails later, they were in my car.
A few of the chairs had some stains, which the seller pointed out.  I knew I wanted slipcovers anyway so that wasn’t a problem

At least it wasn’t until I started looking for slipcovers online.  There were so many choices and a wide variation in price too.  The Pottery Barn covers were the most pricey that I came across.

I wanted something quickly since we were having family and friends for Easter dinner. 
Finally I settled on these from Overstock.

These six slipcovers are under $100.  I like the tailored look from the front of the chair.  I am not so sure about that loose fit/look from the back, which is the part that shows most of the time.
Maybe washing them would take some of the slack out of them?

I’ve decided to keep them for now.  I will probably keep looking, but it wouldn’t hurt to have two sets of slipcovers anyway.

Sometimes the answer is to just live with it for awhile.  I feel like these slipcovers bought me some time to mull over my next step.  ‘Hope it doesn’t take years.

There have been a few changes in the living room also.  I’ll be posting about that later this week.

Make a Knitted Pillow (without knitting a stitch)

I love knitted pillow covers, and have been thinking of ways to make one for awhile.  I don’t knit and I really don’t have room for a big pillow.  I just wanted a medium sized pillow to give my room some cozy ambiance.

A few months ago I found this wool scarf at a thrift store for $3. It was in good shape, in a good neutral color and for $3 I had nothing to lose.

The materials you will need for this project are:
pillow insert 
sewing machine
fabric and thread

My pillow insert measured 12″ x 17″.  I chose dark fabric to sew the scarf to, in case it showed through the knitted stitches.  I cut this fabric to 13″ x 18″ to provide extra  room for the seams.

Without cutting the scarf, I laid it on this rectangle and pinned it.  The width of the scarf was exactly one half of the width of the fabric.

The first time I do a project I always learn something.  This time I learned that it is best to start sewing on the side of the scarf that is in the middle of the fabric.  My scarf had a lot of give to it and by starting in the middle, you can smooth that extra give to the outer edges.
I did not do this and my knitted rows are a little slanted.
After all 4 sides are sewn, cut the scarf with your scissors and do the same thing on the vacant side of the rectangle.
Now you have your pillow cover.  ( I forgot to take pictures of this step.)
For the back of the cover, I always make an envelope fold.
I cut two pieces of fabric which is the height of my insert and which will overlap on the back.  For my insert which is 12 x 17, I cut one fabric piece that is 13″ x 8″ and one 13″ x 14″.
I ironed one side of the 8″ side and hemmed it.

Then I did the same on the 14″ side of the other piece of fabric.

I then pinned the two pieces of fabric to the knitted side of the pillow cover.

It is important that the two pieces of fabric overlap.  Then with your sewing machine sew all around the edges.  Before I sew, I measure my insert and my pinned project to be sure all is pinned correctly.  Then I sew.

Turn your cover right side out.

As you see there is bunching in the middle of the knitted top.  Sewing this side down first will help with that.

It’s not perfect, but I am pretty happy with the result.

See how to make a knitted pillow from a sweater here.

This was a good project for the snow day we had this week.
We were just starting to look forward to spring around here when we were plunged back into coldest winter!

Has spring arrived in your area yet?

Spring Decorating

The wonderful spring weather has put me in the mood to bring out my Easter decor.

I bought this pretty celadon bunny many years ago. He’s crouching on a bed of Spanish moss with a few dried flowers added.
The dyed eggs were made by my children.  Putting them in egg cartons helps keep them safe from year to year.
Even as I am thinking about spring there’s a prediction of (light) snow this weekend!

Have you done any spring decorating yet?

Why I Quit my Housekeeper

When Tom and I talked about getting a housekeeper, I was conflicted  because there are only two of us and how dirty can things get with two adults?  Since it isn’t cheap (my housekeeper made more per hour than I do) I had to really think about it.
Tom was all for it, so I decided to give it a try.  After all, someone else to scrub toilets and the bathtub?  What’s not to love?

I was surprised to find that my cleaning lady and I  had different cleaning styles.  I didn’t even know I had a cleaning style.  I mean, no one has ever exclaimed about how clean my house is.  But, it seems that I do have my preferences for products and some methods.  She, understandably prefers stronger (i.e. more chemical-type) products, while I try to go for the less toxic, but also effective ones. Both of us were flexible.  She ended up liking some of my cleaners and I liked how hers made my bathroom sparkle.

Also I slowly realized that I felt distanced from my house.  Cleaning makes me notice the little things that need repairing or replacing.  For example, when I clean the bathroom, I put out fresh hand towels, refill soap dispensers.  When I wasn’t the one cleaning the bathroom these things were not done on a regular basis.  I know, I could re-train myself, but somehow it just didn’t happen. 

When I clean I throw out and get rid of stuff.  You come across things you had forgotten about, realize you haven’t used it in years and right into the thrift store bag it goes.  Or into the trash, in the case of those bottles of lotion with a quarter inch in them.  

Having someone else do my cleaning made me lazy.  Lazy about cleaning up after myself, about taking care of something right away.  Yes, I would clean up the kitchen after cooking, but not completely.  I left the stovetop for Florrie, even though it might be a week before she came again.  I know.

Ultimately, it just seemed wasteful to have someone do what I am capable of doing and have the time to do.
Tom loves to vacuum and clean mirrors.  He also does toilets.  Between the two of us, it’s not so onerous a job.

My house probably isn’t as clean as it was when I had a cleaning lady, but we are more attuned to each other.  And basically I am a DIYer at heart.

Favorite Flowers

Lately I have fallen in love with alstroemeria, these lovely flowers that come in so many colors.  In our area Safeway has a good sized bouquet for $5 and they last two weeks.

I buy them year round.  There were beautiful red ones at Christmas.

The pink and the purple ones just epitomize spring I think.  
That is just one $5 bouquet.  

I can’t think of a better way to add color and freshness to a room than this.

Have a great week!

Front Entry Update

I have been working on the curb appeal of our 1960 ranch house since we purchased it in 1999.  Small progress has been made, but I’m discouraged that I am not further along than this.  

The picture below was taken around 2008.  We had the stone walkway installed soon after purchasing the house because our old sidewalk was uneven and ugly.

We had a new front door installed, purchased longer shutters and added a few more shrubs around the front door.  And we went with black as our accent color.

It seems like there’s a burst of activity, then a pause while we figure out our next move.

Some inertia can be explained because it took years to talk Tom into having a tree cut down.  As you can see by the stump in the yard, I finally prevailed, but it was a decade long campaign.  You can see more about this side of the house and the progress made, here.

 That little landing is, well, little. I always want to decorate, but I also want my guests to be able to get in the door.
This is how it looked last fall.  

I like the tall planters with ferns, but I had also been eyeing these lanterns from Pottery Barn.  We decided to get them as our Christmas presents to each other last year.

I have been playing around with Photoshop to see what other improvements could be made to this area.
A pretty camellia bush would fit in beside the railing.  While I don’t hate my old light fixture, this one certainly adds some needed updating and it coordinates with the lanterns.

How about a prettier door mat and this old world style planter by the railing?
I’m enjoying playing with Photoshop.  I signed up for the 9.99 a month option.

The side by side comparisons are helpful in seeing the progress made and figuring out the direction I want to go.

I would love to hear your thoughts on what I should do next.  It’s such a small space, but that is the problem.  I want it to look elegant and inviting, not overly decorated.  I guess some mulling of options is called for now.

Enjoy your weekend!

Recent Inspiration From Around the Web

I have been feeling quite lazy since the Christmas holidays ended.  Not motivated to do anything but the absolutely necessary to sustain our daily lives.  Finally, realizing I had to do something to jolt myself out of the mood, I turned to the web for inspiration and ideas.  I thought I would share a few of the things that made me want to get off the couch and make something, or at least take a picture.


These images from Design Sponge really make me want to take out my camera and go for a walk.

I wasn’t thrilled with my breakfasts over Christmas.  I will be picking my favorites from this page for the next time I have house guests or company at breakfast.

This blog post motivated me to organize under my kitchen sink.

Ever thought of using pink (outside of a girl’s room) in your home?  These pictures might make you think twice.

Valentine’s Day is a nice time to make those we love feel special.  And who has better ideas than Martha Stewart?
I’m off to the craft store for supplies!

Christmas Decorating, Simply

This year I am in a simple frame of mind for my Christmas decorating.  I have actually done a little soul-searching about it, asking myself if I’m depressed, not in the mood, what is it?  But it is none of the above.  I am just feeling a more simple, streamlined Christmas this year.
Some years are like that.  
But, that doesn’t mean I’m taking it easy.
I made some stockings.  I had this fabric (if you sew, you always have fabric) and I bought a scarf at a thrift store for the cuff.  Then I traced around an old stocking onto my fabric and pinned the scarf to the top edge.  Then I pinned the right sides together and stitched it.
I made two stockings during one episode of Fresh Air.  Talk about productive. Now I’m thinking I need two for the other end of the mantel.  What do you think?
I found those brass candlesticks at a consignment store for 50% off, which was $11.50 for 3 candlesticks.

I had this blank wall space between the tree and the television.  I knew there would be a multitude of free printables on the web and so I googled around until I found this one, which I really like.  You can find it here.
It was easy to use my Ikea frame, popping out the old (beach) picture and putting this one in.
 So I have made some new items, changed a few things around.  A fair amount of decorating has taken place.  Come back on Friday for a few more pictures.
How far along are you on your Christmas decorating?  I know some people who haven’t bought their tree yet.