Friday, October 21, 2016

A Coastal Classic: Stripes

I just love stripes, don't you? They're crisp and clean and they can give a home just the right coastal touch without going overboard. They always look classy, not kitschy. And stripes can work anywhere in the home. Here are some great pieces I found that will add some stripes to your life.

Family Room

Wouldn't this chair look lovely next to a white slip-covered sofa?

I like the way this pillow combines both coastal and farmhouse elements.

I bought this rug for my living room (You can see it in the "after" pics in this post). Because it's indoor/outdoor I don't have to worry about stains. But it doesn't look or feel like an indoor/outdoor rug--it's really soft underfoot. Love. It.
I think this would be perfect for storing magazines or even dog toys in the family room.

Bed & Bath

If you think stripes are too summery for year round use, think again. This bedding is made from brushed cotton flannel.

This throw is a generous 70" x 50" and made of 100% organic cotton.

Stripes are a natural in the bathroom and a shower curtain is a great way to add some pattern and color to a neutral bathroom.

Kitchen & Dining

 I like the slightly blurred stripes on this bowl. I think it would be perfect filled with red apples.

Two of my favorite elements, stripes and sisal, are combined in these placemats.

I really love the different shades of indigo in these napkins. They would add a casual, handmade feel to a table setting and would work so well with other coastal elements.

I can't imagine that I would actually use this to make pickles, but it sure would look nice as a holder for cooking utensils by the stove or maybe filled with ice to chill a bottle of wine.

 This is just so cute and classic.

I think this would look lovely for Thanksgiving dinner--as well as any other time of year.

So are you a fan of stripes, too? Where do you use stripes in your home?


Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall Tablescapes for the Coastal Home

Looking for some inspiration for a beautiful fall tablescape for your coastal home? Then please read on for pics and tips. 

This is so beautiful! I love the mix of colors, the contrast of the dark woven placemats, and the use of eucalyptus and pine cones. Gorgeous.

This is a great way to use the whole length of the table. So simple, yet stunning. The branch contrasts beautifully with the white runner. It looks loose, casual, and homey. I love the candles in the placed in the small white pumpkins.

The additions of the scallop shell and starfish really say "coastal." The dried hydrangeas are perfect (Is there a better flower coastal decor? I think not.). The look is completed with acorns and rustic candle holders.

This is so simple and fresh. The color scheme is lovely and I really like the use of the shallow basket and small olive buckets.

Do you have a dough bowl? They're perfect for a fall arrangement. Here the blue, green, and white pumpkins look great with the addition of the pine cones and the kale adds an unexpected touch.

So simple and unfussy. A wooden bowl filled with mini white pumpkins and small gourds with a few leafy sprigs thrown in. .

This look is so lush and bountiful! Pumpkins, squash, gourds, and kale arranged in a beautiful tray. The simple stripped table cloth sets it off perfectly.

So how can you create these looks in your own home? Here are some tips:

First, decide on a background. A beautiful wood table top is a a great backdrop, but you could also use a tablecloth, runner, or a piece of fabric or burlap. Select colors and textures that will suit your decor and your theme. I like nubby fabrics with a lot of texture and neutral colors, but anything that you really love will do--and it doesn't have to be traditional fall colors. Consider blues, greens, and grays. 

Next, decide if you want to use some type of container. You could select a wooden bowl, a basket, an ironstone platter, a galvanized tray--really anything goes as long as it appeals to you. It's also fine not to use any type of container at all. You can just create your arrangement right on the table top. However, if you're going to need to remove your arrangement for meals, using some type of container does make this easier. 

Now start collecting your materials for the arrangement. Pumpkins and gourds are the place to start. It's now possible to find pumpkins in a variety of colors including blues, greens, grays, and whites. I've used both real and faux pumpkins (which look pretty darn good, by the way).  If you're planning to keep your tablescape around for the entire season, give serious thought to using faux pumpkins. Pumpkins start to go bad on the bottom, so you may not realize you have a problem until you have a real mess on your hands. I'm just saying. Also, if you can't find pumpkins in your preferred color, don't be afraid to paint them. This works on both real and faux pumpkins. Last year, I couldn't find enough small white pumpkins, so I bought some orange ones and painted them with Annie Sloan Old White. 

After you have your pumpkins and gourds, collect some natural materials to fill in and add depth. Some of my favorites are:
  • twigs and branches
  • driftwood
  • pine cones
  • acorns
  • shells and starfish
  • moss
  • hydrangeas or other dried flowers
  • bundles of wheat or dried grasses
  • eucalyptus
  • ornamental kale
  • vines 
  • dried artichokes
You also might want to incorporate a few candles into your arrangement.  For safety reasons, put them in glass containers or keep them clear of any dried materials.

To create your arrangement, decide the basic shape you're going for. Do you want to keep everything contained around the center of the table or do you want a long arrangement that spans the length? Do you want to cover a large area or are you confined to a small space?

Once you have that figured out, start by placing the biggest elements (i.e. medium to large pumpkins) first. Then fill in with smaller pumpkins and gourds and any other sizable objects (starfish, pine cones). Finally fill in the gaps with twigs or grasses or whatever.

A few rules to keep in mind--in general, odd numbers of things look better than even numbers. When working with organic materials, keep the design loose and flowing, rather than rigid and symmetrical. Keep in mind the overall colors. Avoid having too many objects of the same color next to each other. The same goes for the visual weight of the objects. Don't group all of the dense objects together. Experiment! It's okay to take everything apart and start over again if you're not liking the way it's going. Just keep playing around with the material until you're satisfied. Don't forget to take a step back to see how your arrangement looks from a distance and be sure to walk around so you can see it from all sides. Don't aim for perfection--just have fun!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Bathroom Makeover

I'm not gonna lie. The upstairs bath in our house was the ugliest thing I've ever seen. Ever. Feast your eyes:

No, it's not your monitor. That vanity really is orange and blue.

And although you can't see it in these photos, the floor was 1980...and never replaced. The tan and blue wall tile had seen better days. I won't even start on the pink wallpaper.

Obviously changes were in order. I wanted to go with a classic, timeless look with a few nods to coastal style. I liked the idea of light gray walls, black and white tile, and accents of dark brown.

Tile--Home Depot; Shade--Overstock; Sconce--Restoration Hardware;; Vanity--Amazon, Paint--BM Wickham Gray.

The first step--which was a huge money-saver--was having the existing tile and shower reglazed in white. Big change. Then we had the existing vanity, flooring, wallpaper and lighting removed, and tiled the floor in a classic black and white hexagonal pattern. The walls were painted in Wickham Gray by Benjamin Moore.

One thing that puzzled me, was how small the original vanity was. There was actually enough space for a double vanity and I wanted to take advantage of it. I found a great vanity on Amazon with a Carrara marble top, chrome faucets, three drawers, and a shelf for storage. I scored a large mirror with a dark brown wicker frame at Home Goods and some scones at the Restoration Hardware Outlet. I used a dark bamboo shade on the window and added some framed black and white boating photos.

Here it is all finished. This is a really hard room to photograph because of the configuration, but I think this gives you an idea.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Coastal Thanksgiving Ideas

Now that the weather is beginning to really feel like fall, I'm starting to think about Thanksgiving. I like to stay away from the typical oranges and browns because they don't really work with my coastal decor. So this year I'm thinking of soft grayed neutrals, natural materials, and for a little sparkle, mercury glass.

Clockwise from lower left: Anton Paisley Table Runner in Neutral--Pottery Barn; Mercury Glass Acorns--Pier 1; Wood + Rope Lanterns--West Elm; Woven Fiber Placemats--World Market; Autumn Harvest Jacquard Napkins--Williams-Sonoma; Vine Twig Pumpkins--Crate & Barrel. Center: Plymouth Turkey Toile Platter--Williams-Sonoma.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How to Finish Butcher Block Countertops (with gel stain)

I've been planning to do this post for the longest time, but then I got busy with work and it never happened. So now that things have slowed down (a little), I'm finally getting around to doing it. So I've been wanting to show you how I finished my butcher block countertops. If you haven't seen it already, you might want to take a peak at the whole kitchen makeover which you can find here.

So first a little background. As I mentioned in the earlier post, everything in the kitchen is from Ikea. I had been planning to get oak butcher block, but when it came time to do the kitchen, the oak was out of stock. I didn't have time to wait for them to restock, because the contractor was ready to go and it was now or never. So I ended up with the beech countertops. Here's what they looked like.

I was really hoping for something darker that would be a nice contrast with the white cabinets and backsplash. I knew I'd have to finish them off in some way, but I wasn't sure how to go about it. I did a lot of research online. Many people recommended Waterlox, but here's the deal. The counters were already installed. I would have had to finish them in place and everything I read about Waterlox suggested that this was a project to do in the garage, not the kitchen. So I started looking into alternatives. Hey, how about stain and poly? But, one of the things that stumped me was the whole food-safe-finish issue. Then I started thinking it through. I don't prepare or eat food directly on the counters. Your average dining table is finished with stain and poly. How is this any different?

So then I started researching the stain and poly angle. The problem with beech is that is a soft and porous. I was worried about the stain looking blotchy. I finally decided to use a pre-stain conditioner, followed by gel stain, and finishing off with a wipe on poly.

The process was relatively simple.
  1. I sanded the countertops using a palm sander. Then I wiped everything down with a slightly damp rag to get rid of any dust or debris. 
  2. I applied the pre-stain conditioner with a foam brush and let it dry according to the directions.
  3. Then I brushed on a coat of  gel stain in Walnut. Now if you've never used gel stain, you should know it's different than other kinds of wood stain in that it doesn't soak into the wood as much as other stains. It's more like a translucent paint than a true stain. Do one section at a time and wipe off the excess before it dries.
  4. After letting the stain dry for 24 hours, I put on 3 coats of clear gloss wipe-on poly, letting each coat dry 12 hours.

The finish has held up beautifully. I highly recommend this method.



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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Quick Furniture Makeover

I was looking for a new side table for the living room and was just about to head over to my favorite consignment store to see what I could find when I remembered I had an old table stashed in the basement. It was...humble to say the least and it's had a rather tough life.


We got the table because a previous owner had left it behind in our old house. No idea how old it is, but based on the rest of the furnishings that were left behind, I'd say it's from the 1940's or 1950's. We used it for the next 14 years and then it went through two hurricanes (Irene & Sandy), which flooded the whole house (2 inches from Irene and 2 feet from Sandy). Anyway, when we moved to the new house, it came with us, but it just ended up in a corner of the basement with the rest of the odds and ends. I thought it could use some TLC.

First, I sanded off the old finish on the tabletop. This took a while because the surface was so damaged. I mean I'm all for the distressed look, but this was BAD. There were rings from people putting down glasses without coasters, so I had to sand way down until I ended up with a fresh surface.

Looking better already! Then I stained the top a medium brown stain. I couldn't believe how good the wood looked once it was stained. When the stain was dry, I added two coats of Wipe On Poly in a satin finish.

I finished the legs with Annie Sloan Old White and then a wash of Paris Gray to tone it down a bit. A little light distressing and a coat of wax and I was done.

So this old table has a completely new look. And it works just fine in the living room!