Before we Say Goodbye to Summer

I have grown to deeply love summer. Moving to this house four years ago changed my cranky heart. I knew it would. And it's a good thing because summer in Texas is long and difficult and will wear you down. It's now my favorite season and my home's as well. So me and the house loved us some summer with bright pillows and kantha quilts and some new lamps and layers of vintage art. 

Wanna see before I change it again for fall?

My husband and I collected river rocks on our family vacation to the Frio River this summer and drew mandala designs on them while the boys slept late in the mornings. Always take a sharpie on vacation with you because art is everywhere. 

Sadly, we didn't make it to the beach this summer so I taped up snapshots from past summers and it makes me smile every time I walk past the pictures of my babies on the beach.  Babies that are now 6' tall!

And while I see the rest of the country pulling out scarves and sipping pumpkinmochagrandeeverything, it's still a balmy 90 degrees here in Houston where summer lives on forever.  

I'll be in the pool if you need me.

xo

Fifty Shades of Blush and Bashful

It's true that you never forget your first love. 

When it came to boys, I was lucky enough to marry my first true love and we're living happily ever after. I'm a lucky girl.

But when it comes to color, well..me and pink dated a very long time then broke up. I felt like I was the one that gave and gave and gave. Sacrificing my dignity for those pink laminate counter tops in our first home 25 years ago.

The custom floral chintz bedding with cabbage roses the size of my head. The mauve dust ruffle. I hear the kids are calling it 'Marsala' these days. Ha!...rookies.

The soft pink teflon skillet that cooked the perfect scrambled eggs on the weekends. Oh yes...I know that was all my idea, but pink, you quickly turned ugly and cold. I know I held on too long, but I needed you. I was young and didn't know better. You were everything to me. 

When the babies came I just couldn't handle your fiery heat any longer and we said goodbye.  I thought that would finally be the end of us.

But recently, on a cold gray winter day somewhere in a deep dark dusty rose corner of my heart, old feelings began to stir. It was an urge that led me to the dim and dingy corners of cheap thrift stores to fill bag after bag with books in every shade of blush and bashful I could find, just to get a little taste of you. I lied to the cashiers, telling them all those pink books were for a school project. Oh, the thrill of hiding you in the back of my car....I haven't felt this alive in years! 

I justified going back to you with thoughts like "It's just this one room. Just for a little while. It won't hurt anyone, especially if I add some brass and new pillows. I deserve it."

"I want my color senses to feel alive in the way only you can make it happen, pink!"

And now we're back together. It feels so right, pink. You're my hot and steamy little Valentine to myself. My foolish color folly. 

Now, shut up and kiss me!

January Paperwhites and Fern

Isn't it funny how as soon as we put away the Christmas decorations we start thinking about Spring? 

We live too fast. 

It's winter...let's enjoy that! (says the southern girl who has never shoveled snow in her life). Texas has had some really cold and gray days and I'm fighting the gray with green. 

Ferns, paperwhites, lavender, boxwoods; anything green that I can easily plant or snip and bring inside is fair game. 

I've had really good luck growing these three ferns inside: plumosa, maidenhair and boston.

They've done well in low light and I've supplemented their water with a good misting weekly.   

Paperwhites are the easiest thing I've ever grown. They're so forgiving. And, I hereby decree they're not just for the holidays, so there!  I keep it simple by growing them in a container with gravel or rocks and keep them watered. That's it.

I bought quite a few at Christmas and have been planting them a few at a time. I'll miss them when they're gone.

Have fun planting bulbs in ironstone, teacups, mason jars; anything that holds water.

After they bloom you can stake them up with bamboo skewers and string. I love how simple they are to care for and their sweet smell. They do like to drink a lot of water so

check them daily.

Tell me......What's your secret weapon for fighting the gray days of winter? 

The Getaway featured in House Beautiful

Any chance you've read the current Oct. issue of House Beautiful magazine? As I was running boys through their after school schedule, a quick glance had me noticing two things; the color purple and the pretty arched doors on the kitchen pantry in this home. 

But when I slowed down enough to read the article, I was completely surprised to learn that this is not a primary residence but instead a "getaway" apartment for a mother of four. 

Photographs Miki Duisterhof

"It's true. She and her husband have a beautiful house with French antiques right down the road, and that's where they live, raise kids, and entertain together.  This is just something she wanted - a feminine getaway where she can have parties, drink wine, and watch movies with her girlfriends.  She uses it as guest quarters when family comes to town.  And she loves to read; she'll stop by for a quiet hour or two after car pool."  

The homeowner is not pictured or interviewed and I desperately wish she had been. I would love to know what inspired her to create such a haven. 

I would imagine there are a lot of people that find this excessive feminine folly. 

I think it's  wonderful.

I completely understand that not everyone can afford the luxury of a second home just down the street. Myself included. However, creating a private retreat within your home when space allows can feel luxurious, even if it's only a 10x10 spare room or a corner of your master bedroom. 

In our home, my office is my one room girly getaway much like the first garage apartment I lived in. White, spare and on some days a hot mess. But when I close the doors to drown out the sound of major league baseball blaring from the next room it feels like a luxurious retreat where I can decompress and relax by myself or with friends.  I often steal more chairs from around the house and can accommodate a girl party of 4 comfortably if I want. 

My own getaway "The Girl Room"

So, what do YOU think? If money were no object would you create a getaway home? Do you have a place in your home to getaway from kids and enjoy hobbies or decompress?

To see the rest of the slideshow click

here

. To read the article in it's entirety pick up the October issue of House Beautiful.  I'd love to know what you think.

Photo Styling, The Not So Big Picture

I love beautifully framed and displayed photographs.  I'm such a fan of gallery walls I have three, with one more in the works, in my home (is that allowed)? 

But what do we do with all those beautiful little images that are tucked away in keepsake boxes and drawers, or even worse, parked on our iPhones never to see the light of day? 

Beyond the gallery wall and photo book, I love living with my pictures as little art shows or installations throughout my home. Because they are rotated often, I see these little styling moments as temporary, which frees up my creativity and that simply makes it more fun for me.  

Grab a handful of your long lost favorite pictures and add some of these ideas to your arsenal of styling options. 

Folded book art becomes a rolodex of old family photos. 

Heirloom photos are protected under glass cloches and grouped together with a glass lab beaker.  

Glass curio boxes are an artful way of displaying images in a mixed media style. These Hipstamatic prints, made with my iPhone,  are layered on top of a blank vintage book page.  Add a special artifact or two to the display to personalize it even further. 

One of the easiest ways to view your photographs also invites everyone to enjoy them. A bowl of colorful vacation pics on a coffee table is hard to resist. 

Oh my.  Baby birds in their natural habitat.  These little boys are now big teenagers.  How did that happen? (photo by Lori Vrba)

I hope you'll bring your buried treasures and memories out into your home where you can appreciate them every day in creative ways. 

In the Good Old Summer Time

I've collected seashells for many years. Hard core, head down, ignore my family and friends and wander off for hours alone by the waters edge, kind of collecting. 

California, Mexico, Florida, Louisiana, The Outer Banks, Massachusetts, Connecticut and even a few lakes, rivers and streams. There always a souvenir that finds its way back home. 

I try to edit myself sometimes because it starts to look a little nuts. But that just makes me sad because I love to look at these and remember the epic day of shelling with my best friend on remote Portsmouth Island in the Outer Banks. 

Or the day my boys built a fire on the beach at sunset on Cape San Blas. 

Or the first year of our marriage living in New England and seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time. 

Or a day in Sanibel when there were so many shells you could hear them tumble in the surf.

Or finding big perfect sand dollars on the dunes on Shell Island and packing them so carefully so they would make the trip home. 

Or the early morning in Monterey we scooped up shells and sea glass with the colander from the rental house in the freezing Pacific. 

Or the time my husband jumped from a perfectly good boat into the clear blue water where we'd just seen a shark to retrieve a big perfect whelk shell for me on our 25th anniversary on Anna Maria Island. Now that's true love.

So, it's time to practice what I preach and live with what I love.  I love seashells.

White Slipcovers ~ A Room Tour

Earlier this summer our new custom slipcovers from LS Slipcover of Houston were installed and lemme tell ya, these two sofas have made me a happy girl. And if I'm happy, then everyone's happy, right momma's? 

It's exactly what I've envisioned since moving into this house. So light and fresh.

But it wasn't always this way.  Let me introduce you to what's lurking under those fabulous new white slips.  15 year old sofa's from Storehouse.  Built like Mack trucks and just as dirty and road weary. They're my decorators dirty little secret.  But when Laura saw them, she knew they could be renewed and were worth saving. And I trusted her, and she was right!

The fabric we chose is a white brushed cotton twill that has the feel of an old soft sheet, but has plenty of body so that it's not a rumpled mess. For the style of my slips Laura recommended a waterfall skirt and double top stitch edging which suited the furniture and my own personal fresh cottage style without the fussiness. This fabric was also thick enough to hide the pattern and color of the original upholstery without the need for an under slip. 

The sofa's back cushions were attached and Laura cut them free and recovered them as separate cushions.  I had the seat cushions plumped up by adding a down wrap to the foam cushion insert. They're firm with the perfect amount of "ahhh" when you sit on them. 

And details, let's not forget it's all in the details. Since the backs of my sofa's are visible we added these beautiful mother of pearl buttons.  

It's been a while since I photographed this room, so I've pulled together a little room tour to share with you while it's all clean and pretty. 

If you'd like to read more about how the process of working with Laura went on this project read here.  Or, you can visit LS Slipcovers and Bedding for more complete details. 

I recently styled and photographed some of the beautiful work Laura and her team create and will share that with you soon.  

Thank you Laura and especially Jeanie for all your hard work. 

White Slipcovers

An overdue update is happening here.  White slipcovers for my 15 year old sofa's.

My friend,

Holly

, recently introduced me to Laura Siebert, owner of

LS Slipcovers

here in Houston. 

After we chatted by phone and text, Laura sent me fabric samples to choose from and we scheduled an in house consultation to discuss the condition of my furniture and the style of slips for my pieces. 

From there, we set up a date for Laura to come cut and pin the slips.  What an exciting day that was last week! That big beautiful pile of white fabric is going to change my life.

Laura, doing her thing. Talented and cute cute cute :)

My sofa's are originally from Storehouse and are well built but have endured 15 years of hard use with first, twin babies and now teenage boys, a dog, and many many movie nights with good food in our laps.  It's no museum here...we live a full, fun life and furniture gets dirty...that's just how it is. But now, I can bleach and wash the slips and it will feel and look clean and new and fresh.

There are exceptions, however in most cases, Laura can do the cutting and pinning in house. She then takes the slip covers to the design house to be sewn and returns to fit them.  Your furniture conveniently stays in your house while they're being sewn. 

Laura's work from pinning to finished product is beautiful. Her

website

shares all the details of how appointments are handled.

The fabric is a fresh white cotton twill that has the feel of an old soft sheet.  Not stiff at all.  The slipcover will have a waterfall skirt and double top stitch edging.  Simple, modern and unfussy. The sofas had attached back cushions which Laura cut and will recover as separate cushions along with adding feathers to the seat cushions.

I'll be sharing "after' photos when the slips arrive in a couple of weeks. The house will be all set for summer. 

Flea Market Art

Upstairs, at the end of the hall is our tiny little guest room. What it lacks in square footage it makes up for in fun.  Hey...the party's downstairs anyway, so throw your bags in the closet and get comfy.  

This room changes  a lot depending on what I'm working on at the moment or changing downstairs.

I've got some artsy fartsy friends coming soon so I added a collection of inexpensive flea market art to the walls and layered mismatched fringe shawls over the duvets to give it a bohemian vibe. It's cozy, colorful and feels good.

The wood star was a Round Top find I use downstairs at Christmas.  Off season it becomes a bulletin board for some of my Instagram prints. Again..inexpensive and fun.

A tiny oil painting adds interest to a painters palette. 

A guest room is a great space to loosen up and have some fun with your decorating and flea markets are a great place to score some inexpensive art. I've collected these pieces over time and paid from $20 to $1 for these pieces.  Ironically, the tiny little coastal painting was the most expensive, picked up on vacation in California. The big landscape cost $1.  Go figure. I love them all.

Pitcher Perfect

This small collection of white ironstone pitchers was just what I needed to freshen up a marble top chest in my dining room this week. I love that inexpensive thrift store pieces and better English pottery pieces can be grouped together and it all looks fresh and pretty. 






Some elements of decorating and design can be overwhelming. Ironstone is pretty straightforward...practical, strong, sturdy, sculptural with subtle details. Useful in every room of your house in all seasons. 

Recollection ~ Summer Mantel Styling

A new look for my summer mantel.  Repetition in design is easy on the eyes especially with these pretty botanical specimens, shells and books.

I especially love this mantel display and the sweet stories it tells. The  vintage botanicals were collected by a North Carolina naturalist on travels with her husband. My husband collected the whelk shells for me in shark infested waters (ok, a couple of small sharks)  on a recent anniversary vacation and to me, they're more precious than diamonds. (Hands off ladies, he's mine!) 

The vintage books were saved from the dumpster at his office. Can you believe someone threw them away? 

Because things change often around here I'm not framing the botanicals for now. If you've got some unframed art that you want to get up on the wall, try Poster Tack for good temporary hold without damaging your paint or walls. 

Vintage Blue

While I've been on the road these last few weeks for vacation, work and family, I've picked up a few things for myself. Coincidentally, they're all shades of sky, sea and summer. And all of them bargains as well.








The soft cotton throw from a thrift store, $5. The oil painting from a flea market for $1. The blue bottles from a garage sale I ran across while on vacation in the Hill Country for $2 each, the pretty lavender bottle is dated 1908.  The paper blue tray hung on the wall is from an old trunk. I picked it up in Waxahachie, Texas, this past weekend while prop shopping for Country Living, $15.  
Do you shop while you're on the road? Found any good bargains lately? I missed Round Top this year so these vintage blue finds will have to do for a while.

The Week Ahead

After a lovely long Easter weekend, my calendar this week is a bit overwhelming. This lovely lady in my office has the right idea...slow down and enjoy the simple things like rose bushes that are offering up loads of spring blooms. 


Spring Inspiration & Souvenir

Some sneak peeks of the spring issue of Souvenir are floating around. Have you seen them? 

 Just seeing these peeks from some of the incredibly talented Souvenir contributors has me in the mood for Spring and wanting to lighten things up around the house.  I took pages from some thrift store butterfly books and used them as quick instant art for spring. No frame, no fuss. Just pretty and easy for a hallway or corner.







Sign up here for the mailing list to be notified of the latest issue. Be inspired!



January Inspired Me

I am endlessly inspired by paper. Like a textile designer spreads out yards of material, I love to
have vintage paper strewn around my office floor and walls. Sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently, always enjoyed.

We talk a lot about how busy we are. However, the first few days of January were quiet, cold and provided the opportunity to play with some of the lovely gifts that were given to me from the people that know me best and to make a little art for myself. 

This is what January felt like for me: