Saturday, July 31, 2010

Refrigerator Art

I love it when I find something useful, pretty, practical, and inexpensive, and this little find certainly fits the bill. The other day I was at Ocean State Job Lots and found these great
little magnet sets. I believe they were designed for school lockers, but what great refrigerator magnets they make!

You see, I enjoy using my refigerator as a canvas for whatever "art" strikes me at a given time, and currently, I'm into displaying black and white
photographs there. Unfortunately, the typical decorative kitchen magnets just don't cut it with B&W photography! But
these little goodies are just perfect with their graphic shapes and black and silver color, and while they're wonderful on their own, they're even better combined with other types of fasteners. I thought I'd show you some of my favorites today.
In the photo above, I've combined one of the black magnets with a magnet made from a vintage brooch from the flea market. I'm planning to make a couple more of these as soon as I come across the right junk jewelry to work with, but I think that will be enough, as they could really make the display busy in a hurry! But a little bling goes a long way and a few of them certainly a bit of punch to the arrangement.
For these photos, I'm using magnetic photo holders that I found at a camera shop several years back. They've also been one of my "best little bargains", as I've used them to display numerous photos through the years. The holders are sized for a standard 4 X 6 print, however my vintage black and white pictures are a bit smaller. To compensate, I simply backed the snapshots with a piece of black paper, and for a little something extra, I cut a phrase out of a magazine to use as a caption for one of them.
For this photo, I repurposed a magnetic mini-chip clip in a metallic silver tone.
For this one, I used a magnetic binder clip from the office supply.
It's fun to let your imagination run loose when it comes to magnets and fasteners for this type of display. For the only color image in the grouping, I used magnetic childrens' letters to attach a
magazine page with a great photo of some delectable looking cookies. Other good fasteners could be fashioned from clothes pins, checker board pieces, or Scrabble tiles. I'm sure once you think about it and browse your home with a discerning eye, you'll see lots of potential fasteners that will look 100% better than the designated refrigerator magnets you can buy in a store, so have some fun with it and create a display that is uniquely you!

Until next time,

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Origins of Style
Part II

Most of us have a rather definite taste in furnishing our homes. Sometimes our preferences are quite clear cut, or perhaps we’re
attracted to a mix of various styles. In my last post, I began to look beyond the obvious sources such as decorating books, magazines, blogs, and television shows, at the elements of style that I am drawn to, and examine them in the context of my life to discover the reason for those preferences.
My reflections revealed that many of my preferences are rooted in visits to my grandmother in early childhood. From her, I gained an appreciation of

old linens and china. It is also from her that I developed a love of vintage clothing. My deep love of dogs also appears to be rooted in pleasant memories of visits to Grandma.

Through my contemplation, I also came to
realize that my attraction to architectural elements and the neo-classical style most likely stems from another childhood memory – the discovery of and subsequent fascination with Greek and Roman mythology.

But I also have an edgy, more Bohemian side. Where does this come from?

Further contemplation reveals that this element of my taste was developed during my teen years. As a school-age child I was rather large and awkward, and as a result, painfully unpopular. I wished in vain to be like the other kids. Then, finally, as if by magic, my body began to mature and the baby fat that had held me prisoner for so long disappeared! A rather attractive young woman emerged from that cocoon, and a new time of adventure and discovery was underway.

At the age of seventeen, while attending a rock concert, a roadie spotted me and gave me a backstage pass. This random event resulted in meeting the concert promoters, which in turn lead to

Collage of some of my rock 'n' roll memories

several lasting friendships as well as a long succession of backstage passes. Among rock stars and others
in the music business, I'd finally found a place to fit in. For the first time in my life, I felt pretty and popular! And of course I happily embraced the style of the rockers
whom I adored. It's easy to see where my love of leather, lace, and animal prints is rooted.
Another strong influence from this time period was my friend, Barbara. She and I met backstage and immediately hit it off. I loved her colorful Bohemian style which incorporated

Barbara and me camping it up before a concert in her Bohemian Style living room

elements of vintage finds and re-purposed junk with a rock ‘n’ roll flair!

Another defining moment for me was the discovery of dance! As a clumsy child, I admired the beauty and grace of the ballerina, and longed to learn to dance. I suppose they had their reasons, but my parents
never saw fit to enroll me in classes, so my visions of dance were only a far-away dream. The allure of dance, however remained strong, and as a teenager I slipped into a disco one night. A man asked me to dance, and though I had no idea how, I accepted and he introduced me to the Hustle.
To my great surprise and delight, I found myself following my partner and feeling somewhat graceful
for the first time. The feeling was intoxicating, and I had to go back for more. I carefully watched the dance floor, especially the “dance gods” and for better or worse, danced only with the more competent dancers. Finally one night one of the “dance
gods” asked me to dance, and as if by magic I was twirling and spinning as if in a dream! Imagine my ecstasy when he asked me to be his partner! I worked hard on my dancing and also in cultivating a look appropriate for a "disco diva".
When the disco era faded, I sought out other venues of partnership dancing which led to a career in ballroom dancing that spanned over 15 years. Add some chiffon, feathers, and a heavy dose of bling to my style mix!

So, there you have it. I believe we’ve uncovered the origins of the various style elements that I’m drawn to.

This was an eye-opening contemplation for me. While I knew what I liked, but really didn't know why until I started looking at my tastes in relation to my life's experiences. How about you? You've read my story; I'd love to hear yours.

In future blog posts, we'll be looking how to tie together all the diverse elements of our tastes to develop a unique personal style. I'm getting ready to embark on several decorating projects and will be incorporating touches of all the styles that I've discussed in this post (and part one). I'll be chronicling my adventures and misadventures along the way, along with projects to try and thrifty-chic decor tips. Hopefully you'll be inspired to seek out the things that make you happiest and express them in your home.

Until next time,

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Origins of Style
Part I

The other day I was thinking about what it is that truly inspires us in regard to our decorating choices. Of course, most of us seek and receive many inspiring ideas from blogs, books and decorating magazines.

A selection of some of my favorite books and magazines

Some of my favorite magazine sources are, Flea Market Style, Victoria, Romantic Homes, Romantic Country, Elle Decor, and the now defunct Domino. My collection of books and magazines is one of my most prized possessions because it continually sparks new ideas, which in turn, become fresh updates for my home.

But then I started thinking a little deeper. What is it that defines our sense of taste? Why do we purchase the books and magazines that we buy, while passing up others? What is it that causes certain styles to pull at the heart strings?

I think our sense of style is cultivated though our life experiences; from both from having, and not having, and from being exposed to various sights, sounds, and stimuli. For instance, I always tend to incorporate some elements of neo-classical design in my rooms. I believe this has its root in the fact that as a sixth grader, I devoured

Vestal Virgin from Roman Mythology

our class studies on Greek and Roman mythology. As a result, I sought out books and movies with mythological themes, and found myself day dreaming in scenes from Pompeian villas and classical architecture.

I also have a strong penchant for roses, old china and linens, and “girly” décor. Why is this so? I’ve had to think about that one, as my mother’s taste was completely opposite this style, and the houses that I grew up in were mostly done in a transitional decor, heavy on colonial style

Roses and Hats, and some of the vintage items I love

reproductions and interpretations. My mother’s color schemes were typically comprised of the popular color choices of the ‘70’s….avocado green, gold, and rust. When she did deviate to brighter colors, yellows, oranges, and lime greens were her picks.
Where did I develop my taste for pale pinks, blues, and greens? Perhaps this stems back to some of my earliest childhood memories at my Grandmother Mull’s home in South Carolina. Grandma Mull lived in the country and dressed in

Me circa 1978 in our 1970's living room

styles more suited to the first half of the twentieth century than the second. She was a talented seamstress who made quilts, aprons, and bonnets in some of the most beautiful old fabrics. She allowed me to play dress-up in her old clothes and flowered hats, which certainly represented an era long passed.
Her dishes were flowered and mostly chipped, but ever so pretty. To many adults in the family, these items seemed terribly dated and, if they’d had their way, would have wound up in a trash heap. But Grandma had a strong sense of

Grandma Mull

the past, and this was not her way. To a tiny girl these items were a vast treasure chest!
I can remember many times as a teen and pre-teen, hiking downtown to peruse the dusty antique shops there.
My purchases were usually limited to an old postcard or a chipped floral tea cup…all that my meager allowance would permit, but these treasures are still a part of my life and home.

Another thing that I loved about visiting Grandma Mull was that she always had lots of animals around.
I loved playing with her dogs and cats, and on occasion, she also had chickens and ducks for me to enjoy. But the dogs were her favorites and mine.
As a tiny tot, I remember riding her dog, Rusty like a pony. Rusty had endless patience and loved me dearly as I did him. Unfortunately he passed while we were away, and while he still has a very important

Rusty and Me

spot in my heart and memory, Grandma acquired other dogs who also became quite special to me. One was Judy, Grandma’s
German Shepherd Dog. Judy took me under her protection and was probably the world’s best babysitter. She’d position herself between others and me, and no one dared to cross her line -- especially when I was in

Judy and Me

my little plastic swimming pool! And then there was Penny, who appeared to be an Irish setter mix. From morning ‘til night, she was a constant companion; and of course, little Pete, whom we rescued from the roadside on one of my visits to Grandma. In looking back at old photos I notice that my current dog, Lucy, bears a remarkable resemblance to him.

Of course, being a dog lover, Grandma had lots of little dog figurines that I found fascinating. I can remember sitting on her sofa and playing with them for hours! I still have the ones I was fortunate enough to acquire when she passed on, and have added to the collection through the years, so, I’ll
have to conclude that my love of dogs, humble little dog figurines, old hats, chippy
rose-covered china, vintage linens, and most things old fashioned was cultivated by pleasant childhood memories of visits to Grandma. But there’s also an edgy side to me. Where did that come from? And how does all this come together?

To be continued….

Until next time,

Addendum: Click here for part two.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Junk Sideboard Makeover

They really don't get much uglier than this, but I can't resist a bargain, so I nabbed this at Mary's Barn, my favorite junque store for $10.
I believe it was a initially supposed to be a sideboard.At least that's the purpose that I had in mind for it. I gave this a very similar treatment to the one in Chest of Drawers Redo except I didn't use the crackling technique. This piece was simply painted with two coats of white latex paint. Then the top and the moulding on the doors were painted in pale pink for a subtle accent. Next I sanded to distress the sideboard, and reveal a tiny bit of the original wood. Finally, I replaced the existing hardware; The original knobs were replaced with vintage knobs of pink glass, and the drawer handles were replaced with new ones from a bargain chain.

Initially, I used this piece in the dining room as a sideboard, so I thought a mirror on top would be nice. I found this one at a yard sale a few years ago, and it has moved around my house quite a bit. I think it has finally found its home atop the sideboard, though.

Recently, I decided to move it to the kitchen, where I needed extra storage and counter space. It has worked out quite well! The photos below show it a couple of years after the photos above, now in its kitchen setting. Isn't it amazing how a change of accessories can give a piece of furniture a whole new look?

Until next time,

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Irv and Louise Dingus

"The kiss of the sun for pardon, The song of the birds for mirth, one is nearer God's heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth." -
~Dorothy Frances Gurney, Garden Thoughts

This is a popular poem, but I think I never really understood it fully until I experienced Louise's garden. You see, Louise is my father's wife, of more than 20 years now, but as I got to know her


during their courtship, I couldn't help but admire her taste and style, both indoors and out. But we'll save indoors for another day. Today is the day to explore the beautiful garden that she and my father, Irv have built together.
Dad and Louise began their marriage at Glenmere, a wonderful old 1920's bungalow in Kingsport, Tennessee, but as time passed, kids moved away, and grandchildren were born, they decided to relocate in order to share more fully in the lives of the little ones. As they contemplated the move, one of the things they

Hydrangea in bud

most hated to leave behind was their garden; so, they brought as much of it with them as they could. These Hydrangea plants were one of the very first plantings in the new garden. In order to save her beloved Hydrangea, Louise dug small shoots from around the original plant in Tennessee and planted them at their new home in Alabama. I am amazed at how those tiny shoots grew and developed!
But, while several plants made their way to a new home, it was time to say "goodbye" to others and start afresh...just like these cheerful Daffodils that herald the beginning of Spring.
Other early blooming plants included were, Creeping Phlox, Azaleas, Pink Dogwood, and some beautiful Irises.
Both the Bearded Irises (above) and the blue Siberian Irises (left) were artfully planted. As you can see in the background, the roses have now started to bloom.

Siberian Iris in Spring Garden

Yellow flowers are one of my dad's preferences, so these yellow roses were one of his garden picks.
The Stella d' Oro daylily is probably, however, my dad's favorite flower. He likes this variety so much that he named their adorable little

Stella and the Daylilies

dog Stella after them. Dad and Stella share a May 5th birthday, so a couple of years ago, I gave Dad a Cinco de Mayo Rose. I felt that it was an appropriate choice to commemorate the special day.

Cinco de Mayo Rose

Louise planted it in the perennial garden near the patio so that they could enjoy it often. Rosa Cinco de Mayo is a floribunda variety. It has performed very well in the perennial garden, and during first bloom, is nearly completely covered in small semi-double blooms. The colors are reminiscent of a Mexican fiesta; reds, yellows, and peachy oranges all combined in one lovely flower!
One of Louise's choices was the Cecile Brunner rose, a blush pink heirloom climber. This is one of my favorites!
The flowers in the vase are another of the pink rose varieties in the summer garden. Other flowers grown for summer bloom include purple coneflowers and a large variety of daylilies, including of course, Stella d' Oro. You can see the plant bearing the roses in the vase near the bottom left corner of the photo below.

Pink Roses

Since Louise is an avid swimmer, one of the first things they did when they relocated was to install a swimming pool.
This is the view from the pool itself. I think I could spend all day here! Dad and Louise's yard is not only beautiful in the spring and summer, though; they have truly planted a garden for all seasons.
In the fall, Black-eyed Susans, Chrysanthemums, and Sedum Autumn Joy begin making an appearance. I think the gold and rust tones

Autumn Garden

combine beautifully with the purples and blues that are still in bloom from the summer garden. I hope you've enjoyed the tour of my parents' garden, and that perhaps it has provided ideas and inspiration to you as it has to me.

Until next time,


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