Home Decor: Thinking Outside The Box

Have you looked at my Very Favorite Piece in my home? Go on over to the Gallery and check out my cabinet.

My postage size kitchen was in extreme need of storage when I bought my house. I still need better storage, but thanks to the addition of the cabinet, I have space for my dishes, counter appliances, and extra bits and pieces that aren’t needed every day.

The cabinet itself is a combination of a base cabinet, a wall cabinet, an over the fridge cabinet, and a countertop. It is screwed together, handles were added and it sits in the perfect spot in the kitchen.

There were no special tools required; a drill and a screwdriver were all that were needed.

This project came about thanks to a couple of handy friends who volunteered to do the heavy lifting and other work after I found what I wanted. My intention was to create something like a Hoosier cabinet but without the cost.

When you think about things you want in your home and space is an issue, check the options available at your local hardware or home center. I looked for finished cabinets, but there are unfinished as well as custom options.

I went in this direction rather than order a custom cabinet or buy prefab items because the prefab usually doesn’t come in the size I needed and the custom would have been more expensive than my budget could handle.

Don’t be afraid to look outside the box. You never know what you might discover that will be Perfect For Your Home.

A Tale of Two Design Aesthetics

If you’ve been around here for long you know I love beautiful design. I’m also the person an interior designer friend said was a designer’s dream because “You like everything.”

Not exactly, but close. LOL!

I love homes that are comfortable, cozy, and well-loved, and lived in. I have no interest in clean, pristine, dust wouldn’t settle on anything, picture-perfect, no warmth to save your life productions that often appear as the New In Thing.

There are a lot of interior designers around these days. Some are professionals who showcase their talents using the Internet and some are amateurs who strive to make their homes more than they started. A few stand out because they reach beyond the current fad. Here are two of my very favorites.

You can find both of these ladies on YouTube and Instagram. They are well worth the effort.

Hermione Chantal

I’ve been following Hermione Chantal for quite a while. I think I first encountered her when she purchased her very first home; a late 1800’s to early 1900 row house on the Isle of Wight in the U.K. Watching her take what was a disaster and turn it into a lovely home has been quite a journey.

The house has been transformed into a warm, cozy space with soft colors and thoughtful details using thrift finds, DIY projects, and an evolution of style. It is an interesting mixture of old and new and Hermione isn’t afraid to change her mind and try new things. She has stated that her intention with the house was not to keep it long-term which explains and informs some of her choices.

Farmhouse Vernacular

Paige and Brandon over at Farmhouse Vernacular are a young couple who have purchased their second home with an eye to it being their Forever Home. They found an old farmstead that needed work and started in.

Their home was built around 1905 and over the years has withstood a lot of … life. Check out the tour of the home when they bought it and you’ll get a good idea of what they were in for.

The intention of the sympathetic renovation is to make all the rooms as beautiful and multi-functional as possible without changing the footprint of the home, even though there has had to be some adjustment inside to accommodate things like bathrooms and storage.

This home is a working farm home. That it is also beautiful is the icing on the cupcake.

Paige talks a lot about the house speaking to her and I have to say I believe her. The choices made, be it colors, furniture, whatever, make the home so much lovelier than what was there when they moved in.

What I take away from these two aesthetics is the opportunity to get out of the box and create homes you are comfortable living in. Show homes may be beautiful but many lack any real warmth and that sense of the home being loved and well cared for.

Let me know what you think. Do you have a preference?

Fall In Love With Your Home Again

I recently read a piece in a home decor magazine written by someone who had decided to sell the family home since interest rates were way down and more space might be nice, etc. As the author prepped the place for sale, doing all those clear out, clean up, and make pretty jobs, s/he was surprised to discover that moving to a new home really wasn’t something s/he wanted to do.

You see, as a result of clearing out the excess stuff, clearing collection spots (and we all have them) getting rid of furniture that they no longer wanted, and reorganizing spaces they discovered a home they really loved. Again.

I’ve been on a multi year clear out quest and I can attest to the truth of the author’s experience. We tend to forget why we chose the home in the first place.

I recently reclaimed my Library/Craft Room and it is my favorite place in the house. Again. My kitchen is going through a bit of a renaissance; having cleaned and reorganized it is a bit more spacious, a true feat considering its postage stamp size. I’m looking at colors and contemplating window treatments – something I’d given up years ago.

Perhaps the point of all of this is to reclaim what we loved about our homes when we first moved in? Think back to those plans for updating the garden or repainting the living room. Why not do a bit of planning for that now? Granted, the weather may not be conducive, but if you take the time to work out all the details, when you do get a chance to do the job, you’ll have the opportunity to really take it to the next level.

I’m still pondering my deck garden and I’m considering adding solar lights. It has been years – really – since the deck was more than just a place to get from the driveway to the door. I’d like to add plants and Gussie it up a bit, if only for me. And why not?

DIY Danie has partnered with Behr Paint on several projects. She has links to the 2021 Colour Trends Palette which might give you some ideas and inspiration as you contemplate updating your home. The link will take you to the video and information on the paint and her project.

If this is your first attempt at a home project, getting started is pretty easy. Dig out a notebook, grab a measuring tape and browse magazine and Pinterest. Daydream a bit – what would happen if… ? Don’t be afraid to collect paint swatches and pictures of rooms or areas you like. Samples are the best way to see what colors will look like in an area. Personally, I plan on collecting some that I can use to update some bookcases and shelving. Small quantities, small cost, huge impact. 🙂

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to take the time you need to find what works for you. It is your home, after all.

Thoughts on Kitchen Organization

Or, Things I’ve Learned Through Trial and Error

I’ve come to the realization that ‘organization’ is a never ending process. It isn’t a bad thing, it just never seems to actually come to a conclusion. Perhaps it would if I never used the space or items and everything was left to its own devices.

I was lucky enough to be raised by two people who had a lot of experience putting things in their proper places. My mother’s kitchens were well organized out of necessity – lack of space will do that, you know. When you don’t have airplane hangar-sized rooms full of custom cabinetry with fancy pull out drawers and shelves, you learn to make do with what you do have.

My father’s workspaces (he had quite a few) were textbook guides on the use of pegboard, drawers, counters and even hanging shelves. Hanging from the roof/ceiling. Walk into our multi-vehicle garage and you were met not only with the vehicles in their proper spaces, but back walls full of well organized, orderly accumulations of the materials that farmers and tinkerers used. Hanging from the roof were reams of pipe and lumber that would be used in projects along with bags of potatoes and onions that were harvested from the garden. The actual workshop was originally a single car garage that evolved into a workspace with a forge, space to weld, and accumulation of tools of pretty much every type and description. All stored in proper places in logical locations and easy to hand.

My own kitchen is what I refer to as ‘postage-stamp sized’ because, well, it is. I don’t have a lot of built in storage space, so I’ve had to learn to use what I could in the best manner possible. When I was able to add storage, I thought carefully about what I would use it for and how it could be maximized.

What I’ve learned can be summed up as follows:

What do you need -vs- what do you want.

There was a time when I would have loved to have a full set of Spode Christmas ware. Never mind that I had no place to store it, no way to pay for it, and really not much use for it as I didn’t host large family gatherings. On the other hand, I loved Fiestaware but the price tag for that actually did curl my hair.

Now I look at fulfilling my wishlist with dinnerware that makes me happy, doesn’t require a second mortgage, and can be used more often.

Multipurpose pieces save money and space.

A few years back I picked up a couple of sets of canisters with vacuum seals. These handy square shaped containers hold a variety of dry foodstuffs, take up the same space as far as footprints and are stackable. And did I mention that they were reasonably priced, too?

Their shape is important. They are all square. No round containers that leave an empty shelf area. I do have a set of containers that are also square but have rectangular pieces as well. These are also space users and stack well. Round containers take up space that can’t be used for storage.

I emphasize shape for a reason. A few months back I happened to see a self described decor expert showing off her newly restyled kitchen cabinets. Behind the doors she had proudly put up round containers with chalk labels for dried goods.

Now, I have no issue with either the round containers or the chalk labels. My issue comes with spending money on these items that are clearly decorative and will live behind closed doors. Where no one but the cook will ever see them and taking up space that could be used for other foodstuffs.

Interestingly enough, the next time we were treated to a view of the once again redecorated kitchen cabinets, the round containers with the chalk labels were no longer hidden away behind closed doors.

Ask yourself if you are inadvertently making your kitchen work more difficult.

Odd as it might seem, when we put things in places that require more steps or more work we make working in the kitchen more difficult. This might seem like a non-issue unless you are one who struggles to find any enjoyment in the kitchen to begin with.

It might be aesthetically pleasing to have the spice rack on the wall opposite the stove, but if you are constantly hiking across the room to get what you need to create a meal, at some point you are going to get tired of the trek and stop using it. Ditto for putting the clean dishes far from the sink and/or dishwasher.

I can always spot a house designed by someone who has never, ever done a load of laundry or purchased groceries. How? Easy. The garage is on the farthest side of the building away from the kitchen and the laundry is tucked into a spot away from easy access points like common walkways or stairs. This can be a lot of <cough> fun if you are dealing with bad weather, especially if the laundry is located in a garage that is separate from the house.

If you have a lot of laundry or a large load of groceries, that hike can be exhausting.

Now, you may not be able to do anything to move the laundry area or garage, but you can take charge of where things reside in your kitchen cabinets.

Cabinets are where the magic happens. Get yourself a set of containers for your dried goods. While boxes and bags seem simpler and easier, they take up a lot of room and don’t seal properly once opened, so you lose the food and the money you spent on the food when you have to toss it out. You don’t have to spend a lot, but be sure you do your research to find quality containers. i.e: Read the reviews.

Do you have a beverage area? Great! Put the mugs, glasses, whatevers nearby so you have what you need at hand. If you have a coffee / tea bar, gather all the fixings together. If you have a snack section, do the same and be sure to put things like napkins and serving bowls nearby.

Baking requires specific cooking pans and ingredients. Having them in the same general area makes the process easier – even more so if it is near the oven.

As you look at your space, think about what you use on a regular basis, what you use rarely and where you use things in general. That stand mixer is great for large projects but if you don’t use it every week maybe it can be put in a place that keeps it handy but doesn’t take up limited counter space? Mine is quite hefty, so I keep in mind that carrying it is a consideration.

If you have little ones around and are teaching them to set the table or put things away, look at your lower cabinets and consider putting things at their level.

If you have a cookbook collection, or are just starting one, consider making space in or near the kitchen. Handy for actually using the books to either cook or plan meals.

If you don’t use it or need it get rid of it.

This one is difficult, I know. But at the end of the day, getting rid of things you don’t use or need will save you time, space, and a lot of frustration when you need to find a place for something you do need and use. Besides, someone else might be looking for exactly what you don’t want!

There will always be some issue with storage and organization. The key is to make the best use of what you have and keep a sharp eye on how you utilize your space. Are you inadvertently sabotaging your cookery efforts? Are you not making the best use of the space you have? Do you already have a tool, box, container, thing that will help you resolve this issue?

With that food for thought, I will leave you to ponder. I hope this has been helpful. If so, please click on the “like” button below.

The Flexibility of Design Choices

Or, One Size, Color, Genre Does Not Fit All

I’ve often been intrigued by the array of colors, designs, patterns and genres that are available for pretty much everything.

If you are into Art Deco, there is a wide array of color choices that include metallics like gold and brass.

Prefer a bit of Americana? Red, white, and blue are obvious choices, but the variety of fabrics is astounding. Consider: You can go with the standard, but why not up the game with Civil War fabric reproductions? The color pallet is broader with more interesting combinations. Or, you can choose 1930’s fabric reproductions for a softer approach. One of my favorite collections is called “Lately From London” and is a collection of deep, rich colors and patterns that were prevalent around the end of the 1790’s. Not your ordinary run of the mill collection, for sure.

Want to aim for a French Country look? Are you interested in attempting to recreate a Downton Abbey look? Not sure where to start?

I suggest you head over to your local, or online, fabric shop and see what is available. Before you panic and tell me you don’t sew, don’t worry. My thought is that you can look at the fabrics and get an idea of colors, patterns and how they work together.

For example, when Downton Abbey was in its heyday, there were several fabric lines based on the time period of the series. Actually, they covered the various time periods in the series. Each represented the variety of colors and intensities along with patterns of the various time periods.

Contemplating a bit of Early American or French Country? You’ll no doubt find a variety of possibilities in the fabric lines carried by the stores.

Perusing the collections on display, you will get an opportunity to see all kinds of colors, patterns and collections to see what strikes your fancy – and what doesn’t. The flip side of this is that you will be able to get a sample of your favorite and be able to match paint colors.

Feeling adventurous? If you find fabrics you like, you can make your own pillow covers, window coverings, place mats, napkins, etc. Most of these projects are simple to do and a good starting point if you are a beginning sewer.

I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest frustrations shopping for home decor in the stores is that the store wants to tell me what I should have in my home. Most of the time, we don’t agree. Yes, it might be a bit more expensive (or not) to go my own way, at the end of the day, however, my home will be My Home.

Helpful? Giving you ideas? Don’t forget to hit the “Like” button!

A Different Take On Color

I’ve been watching DIY Danie on YouTube and enjoying her work tremendously. She is a long term DIYer who always brings interesting projects to her videos.

Recently she posted about a project that she worked on with BEHR paints. I have to admit, I love the color she was given to use (see more about this in the video) but the projects themselves were also interesting and thought-provoking.

If you are a renter who can’t put color on the walls, why not look at other surfaces. Bookcases. Small tables. Large tables. <G> Planters. Frames. Pretty much any surface can be painted.

Color may be subjective, but by stretching your comfort zone, even just a little bit, can freshen up a space and make it more comfortable.

Upping Your Home Decor Game – The Easy Way

Many of us struggle to find ideas that we want to incorporate into our homes. Some focus on the latest Pinterest ideas, others on what shows up in design magazines or shows. The rest look to friends and family for ideas.

What do you do when all those options come up empty?

I’ve gotten some of my best ideas watching shows on YouTube. Yeah, YouTube.

A few years ago I discovered the Australian version of Better Homes and Garden by watching their weekly show. It has all the usual features; food, home decor, DIY, gardening, and travel, along with some great local color. What caught my eye, however, were the fresh ideas for DIYers and folks looking to upgrade their homes without spending a lot of cash.

You can find the show’s YouTube presence by looking for “Great Home Ideas”. The full hour shows have been broken down into focused episodes and there are curated playlists.

“Alexandra Gater”, “Hermione Chantal” and “Mr. Carrington” each produce shows that focus on home decor and DIY projects for those who are either renting or purchasing their first homes. Money is tight, and folks are looking for affordable, easy to do options.

Hermione has been working on renovating her 1900 circa home for the past couple of years and the evolution of that project is quite interesting.

Alexandra has worked with “DIY Dani” Gater to produce some well thought out and reasonably easy DIY projects that can be done to upgrade any living space – no matter if you rent or own.

Mr. Carrington loves to thrift shop and upgrade things he’s found during his trips around London. I have to tell you that I’ve been inspired by many of his projects – and have fallen in love with his rooftop container garden.

One show that has totally surprised me in the ‘inspiration’ department is “Escape To The Country”. This U.K. based show’s focus is finding new homes from people who want to move to the country. What I’ve found interesting is the different design esthetic that can be found in many homes in the U.K., Scotland and Wales.

While here in the States we tend to use tiles of one color (predominately white), I’ve seen many homes that utilize many different colors when tile is used in kitchens or bathrooms. That simple alteration changes what is a basic tiled wall into a focal point and provides a bit of warmth.

I’ve long been a fan of “This Old House” and similar shows, but one thing that I’ve noticed over time is the tendency to stick with the latest trends. When those seem to be colorless and little or no texture or woodwork, this is pretty dull. Now if you like that sort of look, great. If you don’t it can be very frustrating.

This leads me to another YouTuber, “Farmhouse Vernacular”, where a young couple is sympathetically renovating a 1900 era Kentucky farmhouse. Watching them work on each room and talk about the how and why they are doing what they are doing gives the viewer a lot of information and perspective on the process. It also provides a bit of, shall we say ‘permission’, to not do the latest thing.

If you are looking at your space and wanting to make some changes, but not really sure how or where to start, I suggest you check these folks out and see what they have to offer in the way of ideas and inspiration.

Don’t be afraid to take your time, either. Sometimes time is the one thing you need to create a beautiful space.

Enjoy the journey!

By The Way

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Mid Month Mellow

Or, it’s raining, the vet is expected and Bella and I are listening to “happy music”. With the door closed so she doesn’t find a new place to hide like she did when the vet was supposed to come last week, but the yard folks scared her. 🙂

Yeah, I’m on Mom Duty.

I finally (!) got my music collection re-organized and re-shelved. I spent some hours enjoying old favorites and then, much to my surprise reverted back to the tried and true.

This means we had a couple of days of some wonderful New Age music followed by a trip back to Disney Parks with the 50th Anniversary collection and now we have Herb Alpert back on the machine.

I know it isn’t to everyone’s taste but there is something so bright and cheerful in all of that.

I sat down and watched the first episode of “The Other One” on Acorn TV last night. This dramedy about two families who unknowingly shared the same father is interesting. Part funny, part sad, part…interesting.

I also took the time to watch the entire first episode of CBS All Access’ “Star Trek Lower Decks”. I’d seen the trailer and, frankly, was less than captivated. Thankfully the episode is much better, but still has issues. It is more complicated that what shows up on the surface.

Over on the book table, I’ve finally finished all three books in the Mycroft and Sherlock series written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. I admit I started the first back when I was just diving into the original canon. The books are well written, have an enticing POV and provide some great mental food for thought for mystery lovers.

Over on the gaming front, “June’s Journey” continues to capture my attention. The artwork continues to amaze me – it is so beautiful – and the stories are just enough to keep my interest.

For my Pinterest followers, I apologize that I’ve not been updating those boards. Frankly, it got away from me. I’ll do better, but it may take a while. Please be patient!

Thanks for keeping up with me! Please don’t forget to click “Like” if you enjoy a post and comments are welcome!

Follow Up

The vet visit went well. Bella actually seems to like this vet but she puts on quite the hissy fit show. Partially because he is the vet that works at the shelter I adopted her from – and she remembered him – and partly because she had to go Outside. (Egads!) Definitely NOT her favorite place.

As for the weather, well it has stopped raining and the temperature is down about 15 degrees. Win/Win?

Home Decorating – Part 3

My overall experience, theory, POV.

I had the thought that is the basis for this article during a comment conversation with Farmhouse Vernacular.

A home, be it an apartment, loft, one room flat, house or mansion, is a space that, in many ways, defines the way you, the occupant, uses it.

In my living room, for example, the two windows are on opposite walls – the east and west walls. This means that in the morning the sun comes in full barrel and flows across the walls for a considerable period of time. That same sun shows up in the late afternoon/evening from the opposite wall and repeats the morning visit. Both visits, however, dictate where the TV is placed, where the chairs are placed. This dictates traffic flow patterns – how do you get to the library? Where do you put a side table? Can you fit a fireplace in the room?

I’ve lived in my home for 20 years. I’ve tried various window treatments that do, to some degree, corral the problem, but never really resolve it. I could board up the windows, but I’m rather fond of them. 🙂

All of this is in addition to determining room color(s), decorations and all the other odds and ends that combine to make a home comfortable and functional.

We all move into a space with an idea of how it will work. Many times, however, things are added to rooms that were never designed to include them, which alters the way the rooms work.

I’m thinking of the mid-century craftsman home that was cozy and comfortable until the 50 inch flat screen arrived. Where do you put it? How do you put it? What do you do about seating? How do you accommodate the sound system?

I’m thinking about the 10 ft square bedroom that barely accommodates the king sized bed and headboard. Translate: A bed with a room around it -vs- a room with a bed in it. And, no, there really was no room for storage pieces.

There is a lot to living in a space and paying attention to what it needs. I know that may sound silly, but if you think about it, it is the natural experience of living in that space. You may not even realize you are doing it.

I’ve been watching a lot of home decor and DIY providers lately and I admit I’m impressed not only with the skills provided, but the way their choices have expanded the esthetic I want in my home.

My “intention” with my home was/is to create an eclectic place that, in my mind at least, was reminiscent of the family lake cottage. That place where the furniture didn’t always match, where it was comfortable and relaxed and easy to live in, not fussy and constantly keep clean.

In my mind, it was the place where the cast offs were taken when they were no longer wanted in the ‘regular’ home.

Considering many of the pieces I brought with me when I moved did not come close to “matchy-matchy”, it was the natural starting point.

The only issue I encountered with this was the decor of the home itself. My home was carefully designed by the builder to work with a woodland/garden theme. This means that each color or wall covering, and even the doors, worked within the theme. They also were along the lines of jewel tones. Everything works together and there are enough neutrals to add bold colors where I want.

I actually like the design, even if my preference for warmer earth tones is sublimated by the cool jewel tones in the home. And the best part? I didn’t have to spend time and money (I did not have) to redecorate.

This was an enormous plus having lived for decades in apartments with plain white walls with brown carpet. Can we say ‘generic’?

While there are tons of decorating ideas all over the place, I find myself reverting to what makes me comfortable and happy; color and comfort.

I encourage you to take the time to figure out what makes you comfortable in the space you inhabit. Don’t be afraid to experiment. It is an essential part of making a house a home. And, possibly most importantly, don’t be afraid of listening to your home. You will find your house telling you what it needs to become the home you want to live in.

Oh, Wow! What a Reveal!

Like many people, I’ve been following Paige and Brandon as they worked on their wonderful farmhouse kitchen. Today was the reveal of the completed room.

I am so excited and happy to see this room! It is functional, usable, easy on the eye and fits within the intention of the home. It is clear that a lot of thought was put into the design of the space.

I’ve been in a multitude of farmhouse kitchens in my 6+ decades. This room is a reflection of all of those rooms.

I hope you take the time to not only check out the reveal, but to explore the other posts on the channel.

Enjoy!