Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pottery Barn-ification of Townes Place

I heart Pottery Barn.  The easy comfort and eclectic style sucks me in every time!  Recently I have begun to not just wish that I had millions so I could buy everything they sell, but instead, when I get the catalog I really look at the rooms, accessories and colors and try to figure out ways to mimic the style.  Meaning, I want to make my house look as Pottery Barn as possible without buying anything from Pottery Barn.

Our bedroom has not had a lot of design attention since we moved in three years ago.  We recently put up our smart DIY king headboard and changed out the duvet (that I did buy from Pottery Barn, but that's more).  Because our walls are so high in this house, wall decor has always been a challenge.  I wanted something over the bed but am uninspired by the typical wall decor at the big box stores that are within our budget.  I feel as though art should be personal and while I'm very drawn to original art, the pieces I can afford tend to be small.  So it was time to get creative and maybe use a lot of the random small pieces I have laying around the house.

I found this picture on the Pottery Barn website:

Notice the interesting collection of artistic odds and ends on the wall via a peg rack.  Hmmm....that looks a) cute and b) cheap.  Two of my favorite things!

Here's what I used:

From Left to Right:
  • Peg Rack:  Purchased at Hobby Lobby for $6.  "Washed" with paint (just acrylic paint watered down so the piece ends up having a shabbier look)
  • Mirror:  Also purchased at Hobby Lobby for half off so $12
  • Gold B: (for Berney!) purchased at Hobby Lobby for $3
  • Small Needlepoint Piece in Frame:  Inherited from my Grandmother Olga.  I really love how dainty it is and I remember she was always stitching something.  She actually taught me to stitch when I was young so that small framed piece is very special to me.
  • Print:  Purchased in Savannah from the coolest art place, A. T. Hun gallery in City Market.  I really loved this artist's collage style and the interesting vintage images she uses but have yet to spend more money to have it framed.
  • Silver Ornament:  This was a gift from my niece Darcy at my bridal shower.  It's really lovely and I hate to only have it out at Christmas.  There is a great Audrey Hepburn quote engraved into it.
Instead of using wire, I decided on grosgrain ribbon in a shade of cream because my mother has my wire cutters.  I will not be derailed!!  If you do this, only tie square knots as those are the only knots that don't slip (right over left, then left over right).  I feel the need to share the messages on the back of some of the pieces.  While they won't be seen, I enjoy that they're there.

"The Holy Night - Made from a reproduction of the original painting by Maratta"

"The best to you in all your travels..."
Chad mounted this on the wall for me and I love it.  I had previously switched out a set of heavy, dark curtains in our room for something airier making a dramatic difference.  After a few tweaks with the placement of my items and the addition of an old frame from Pier One (minus the backing and glass), I think it looks pretty good.  There is the opportunity to add something else on the left side....something with some size to create a better balance.  If I've learned anything, it's that the items you already have will be your favorite.  Shop your own home first!

Not bad for around $20!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We LOVE Wednesdays: Frills, Farms, Fond Memories and Fancy Straws

Well happiest of happy Wednesdays to you all!  I missed last week so this week is extra full of fun things worthy of some love.  Let's begin, shall we?

First, our Etsy shop this week comes to us all the way from Thailand.  I'm a big fan of the Thai shops, especially for apparel.  Everything is breezy, sweet and lovely.  After Shower Shop is no exception to this general rule.  Also, they have a TON of positive feedback which I feel is very important when shopping for anything on Etsy.  So buy that sweet little number with some confidence and then go get a big straw hat and a colorful drink.  Spring is here and summer is just around the corner.  I'll be wearing this.

With the nice weather comes nice produce.  I'm very much looking forward to our first summer as vegans and love the idea of a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture.  Lots of farms will sell off "shares" of their produce for around the same price you would normally spend in the grocery store, sometimes even less.  The benefit?  A grab bag of fresh produce every week and often it's delivered to your home.  And for you non veggie heads, meat and dairy farmers sometimes do the same thing.  So check out to see what is available in your area and get excited about branching out with your cooking.  I know we are!

Last week Chad and I celebrated our two year wedding anniversary.  So in celebration, I thought I'd share one of my favorite pictures.  We were married at The Homestead in western Virginia near where I grew up.  Family legend has it that when I was a little girl on my first visit to the resort, I peeked over the staircase (yep, the one pictured below) and told anyone within ear shot that I was going to be a bride in that room.  And so I was.  And on top of it, I got to marry the most patient, good, kind and fun man I could have never imagined even if I tried.  So this week and every week, I love that I'm just that lucky.

Anthropologie is to die for, but what else is new?  How about these cutie little elephant drawer pulls?  Yeah, I thought you'd love them too.

Having majored in English, I found that my college years were filled with required reading and not so much pleasure reading.  I'm now making up for those lost years and for Christmas I received the Harry Potter series!  I'm so sucked in.  I actually heard myself say "You know, work is really interfering with my Harry Potter".  While the video below has been around the internet for a WHILE, I feel some things are worth a revisit.

Planning a party?  Well this is just too adorable for words.

And finally, I subscribed to a new magazine!  The English Home is heaven in glossy pages.  I'm sure it will give me loads of ridiculous ideas and what's not to love about that?

I think that's enough love for one week.  There is no such thing as another today, so get out there and enjoy this one!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Evolution of a Light Box, Part Two

I got my cute doll sized furniture!  But I'm not quite there with the backdrop.  I'm thinking I need a less is more approach....the swag curtain isn't doing it for me.  But I'm closer.  Oh yes, I'm closer!

Adventures in Thrifting: Twin Bed Refresh

On several occasions, we've found that one guest room is not enough.  So a while back when we moved around some furniture, I decided it was time to make room in the sewing room for the possibility of a visitor.  I priced out some twin beds and just didn't feel that the several hundred dollars was necessary considering every time I looked at the bulletin board at work, someone was trying to unload a twin bed.  Sure enough, a week or two after I had this idea, our friends who moved across the country had a twin bed in need of a home.

The bed was cute and free.  Done and done.  But the sewing room has become the Boca Raton for black furniture.  Chad not being a fan of black MDF (one shelf in particular is from CVS circa 1999), he's been finding reasons to move these pieces into the room he visits the sewing room.  And I'm WAY too uptight to start mixing furniture colors so before the twin bed could retire, it would have to be black....Chadson to the rescue!

After a few coats of paint, I love the result.  My mom handed over to me the white matelasse coverlet and sham and I found that fantastic Cynthia Rowley ruffle blanket at Marshall's for $15.  Add on one of the Sweet March toss pillows and presto....the perfect extra bed for an extra visitor.  Plus, I never considered how fantastic under bed storage could be.  There is an oasis of crafty goodness hiding out!

What's missing in this room:
1.  Wall Art
2.  Curtain Rod and Curtain
3.  Some sort of ceiling mobile over the bed.  I'm working on it....

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Evolution of a Light Box, Part One

Every Etsyian's secret desire (despite claims of caring less) is to make it to the front page.  To pull up Etsy and see something created by you, displayed for all must be an incredible feeling.  But the odds of that happening are slim and quite the topic of conversation in crafter circles.  Some claim only “Etsy Pets” get chosen, some claim that you have to know an Admin to have a chance, some think that it’s a select few that get chosen over and over leaving no chance for the rest of us.
I like to think it’s a bit simpler and less of a "mean girl" explanation.  Etsy has a style.  Etsy has a brand.  So anything going on the front page needs to fit and make sense with the already strong aesthetic.  You wouldn’t see an outfit from Forever XXI in the window of J. why should Etsy be any less particular about what they choose to be a visitor’s first impression of the site?  After all, it is that impression that brings back countless visitors who may end up patronizing your shop.  
My mom used to own a small kitchen store and deli.  She had two requirements for anything she would sell:  It had to be a quality product and it had to be packaged nicely.  The same goes for selling crafts online but instead of ribbons, cellophane and pretty boxes,  your photos are the only packaging you've got.   Taking original, beautiful photos of your items is not easy.  I have, by no means mastered it.  But I continue to evolve and thought I could chronicle my personal experience of endless attempts at front page worthy photos. 
First, there are two things that are necessary:  a camera with a macro setting and a light box.  I have learned that photos with the flash on never come out well.  I personally don’t have the luxury of taking photos in daylight because I have a job and I prefer not to stress myself out beyond belief on the weekends.  A light box was my solution.  I did a post on it a while back...there’s a You Tube link for the tutorial I used.  It's an extremely inexpensive solution as regular light boxes are pricey. 
I started out in the garage with some wrapping paper as a back drop.  I chose the orange and white polka dot because I thought the colors of the dolls would pop against it.  It worked for a while and I still smile when I see it...there was something amazing about getting my shop up and running.  I couldn’t help but feel productive and accomplished even though I didn’t sell anything for months!

I wasn’t smart enough to attach the paper to the wall.  So there were major wrinkles and creases that plagued every photo.  It was a pain as every time I moved an item, I had to smooth and re adjust the paper.

It also got very cold in the garage so the light box migrated into the craft room onto a small ikea desk.    The paper was pinned up which helped greatly with the wrinkles and instead of laying it onto the bottom surface, I covered the desk with scrapbook paper.  There was something about the combination that wasn’t right and I quickly realized a picture with a bright orange backdrop would never make it to the front page treasury.

One sunny spring day, I convinced Chad it was time to paint the craft room from it’s boring eggshell to something a little bit more modern.  I chose Polished Silver by Valspar and realized half way through the project my wrapping paper backdrop days were over.  And finally, my pictures started looking more in line with what one might see on Etsy’s front page.

After Merry Market, I had a boat load of new dolls to list on Etsy.  The lightbox had been disassembled at that point and moved to living room so I could work on market merch in front of the boob tube (QVC is the BEST background crafting distraction ever).  Our living room is an olive green (Witch Hazel from Behr) and that would not do for a backdrop.  So I reverted to wrapping paper....and have not been happy with the product since.  Although, Taco loved it.

I have been reading about photos on Etsy.  Please check below for links to some really good articles.  I think I want to accessorize the shoot a little bit more.  And as I’m planning to start selling my accessories on Etsy, I will need some props.  So the light box is back in the garage as the craft room is being converted to both a craft room and an extra bedroom (that’s a whole other post).  I have purchased a doll chair and love seat set.  It shipped today and with my new camera!! I’m looking forward to my shop looking a bit more front page worthy.

For more information on taking good Etsy worthy photos, check out the sources below:

Beginners Guide for Photos from the Etsy Blog:
Trouble Shooting Tips from an Etsy Admin:

DIY Baby Gift: Personalized Onesies

That was me singing some of the Biebs, just for you.  I just love a baby gift.  Babies freak me out, but baby gifts are great.
One of my wonderful Salem “Sisters” and her husband are having a little boy and I get so excited when smart people decide to breed!!  The mother and father to be are completely calm, collected and excited.  The dad to be even signed up for Daddy Boot Camp to do a day of practical learning.  I think someday, I will suggest Chad do the same (I already know he's going to be a brilliant father). 

I am often challenged with boy gifts as my go to is a doll (to be a lovely nursery accent until baby is old enough to play with it).  I decided to do onesie/burp cloth sets with cute things appliqued on.  The pieces were cut, backed with interfacing and hand stitched.  Unfortunately my machine is a bit too rough on fabric and ate the first onesie I attempted.  But that’s why they come in packs, right?  And I really don’t mind hand stitching...I find it relaxing and think it gives the finished product a nice touch.

So the five sets are as follows:  Mr. Lion, Guitars, a London Bus (as the daddy is an Englishman), a Tie and a proclamation of Salem Love.

This can be done by anyone.  I encourage you to try and be as creative as possible!  They’re so cute all tied up with a pretty bow.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We LOVE Wednesdays: Avery, Outdoor Chess and Captain Vegetable

Welcome back Wednesday....we were looking forward to seeing you again.

So what do we love this week?  Well, for starters we love Avery!  Avery is a sweet young lady who has been challenged in her life with hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy.  Her family has started an etsy shop, Avery's Gifts, to help with the costs of her therapy and other needs.  Avery's Gifts sells the cutest little baby blankets with the fun taggy things that infants go nutso over.  So head over, take a look at the cute stuff and throw some etsy love Avery's way.  You can follow her on facebook here and keep up with new goodies, buy some sweet squeaky shoes and see what she's been up to...which is a lot.  She's one busy young lady with a most infectious smile!!  I'm a big fan of this blanket with the hulatastic fabric.  Love it!

I really enjoy doing internet searches for cottage decor.  Why?  Because I dream of being this adorable at home all the time.  Sadly, not so...but I'm taking it slow and now have a direction for future decor products.  But this is going to happen when I have a yard.  Our townhouse only has a "soul patch", so no giant yard chess for me, but please let me live vicariously.  Someone needs to make this happen!

We had a delightful weekend in Maryland for my birthday and I would love to share with you something fun to do!  The Patuxent Wine Trail is totally quirky and full of small town charm.  So head to Maryland and spend a weekend of quiet fun on Solomon's Island and visit a few wineries.  It really was a nice break from the pace of every day life.
Speaking of weekend about some throw back Sesame Street?  I apparently do a dead on Captain Vegetable impression.  Don't forget to eat your veggies!!

For Christmas I got myself a Murfee Scarf from the Lilly Pulitzer in Charlotte.  And now that spring is on the horizon, I am not quite sure how I've lived without it.  It is so light and loverly, I can't wait to pair it with a sundress or a pair of rolled up boyfriend jeans.  I have a hard time not wearing it everyday with everything.

This week, instead of a tutorial, how about some crafty inspiration via Lindy at Cottage Hill.  Check out this amazing quilt top she designed and created from scratch.  It's amazing and so very inspired.  Can you imagine these little appliqued dresses put into frames and hung in a little girl's room?  Or maybe on pillows for a darling little cottage bedroom.  Her process is just fascinating.  And check out how the fabric dresses turn out so similar to the sketches.  This is more than craft...this is art.

Well that about does it.  But how about a little "do goodness" for the road?  It's time to turn off the TV people.

New Camera!! Take two...

Not only will my camera (the Canon PowerShot sx30 is) be fantastic for crafty goodness, but check out this totally awesome picture from the weekend.  This is Alina and she's ready for her close up.

I've never taken good pictures, but watch out world...I'm feeling inspired!

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Camera!!

Oh dear CanonPowerShot SX30 IS, how do I love thee?

Because I can't take a picture of my amazing birthday gift because it is that which takes the pictures (man, that was totally meta), I will share some practice shots I took with the Sweet March flower brooches.  I didn't even have to use a's just photo magic I tell you!!

I'm so looking forward to improving my posts, my etsy shop and my year end photo books.  And I can't thank all of my sweet family who purchased this for my birthday.  You guys totally rule :) Stay tuned...

Adventures in Thrifting: Reclaimed Dresser

We all know how I feel about projects.  And I've gotten sucked in to a new love....reclaimed junk shop furniture.  And thanks to my handy husband, these cheap finds have become some of my favorite pieces.  I wasn't thinking and didn't take a picture of this guy before painting....but it was a dingy white with some serious dog teeth marks.  But for $20 plus paint and new pulls (so maybe $50 total), it's a brilliant addition to our guest room.  And where can you find a cute full size dresser for $50?

I'm looking forward to my latest etsy buy upholstery book.  Oooo, I can't wait to attempt some fabric magic on a $10 chair.