My Kitchen Mini Makeover

Over the last couple of months my kitchen has s l o w l y been getting a little updating.

Things seem to always take longer than expected and we had a couple of setbacks but progress is a good thing.

We live in a typical builder home in the suburbs of Houston. It's lovely, but there are corners that builders cut that I will never understand. A lot of the work had nothing to do with pretty, it was just necessary. But those little things make a big difference in a room like one's kitchen where a lot of time is spent every single day. And it's still a work in progress.

Our eat in kitchen nook got the most love and is the most completed. We added crown moulding to this room, fresh paint top to bottom, centered the light over the table (why was it not centered when they built it?). Added pretty trim moulding around the previously bare windows and custom blinds from Select Blinds.

In person, the windows are gorgeous and get noticed right away.  I replaced the faux wood blinds with the Tropical Isle Basic Bamboo Shade in Mesh Camel with a cordless lift. 

I can't say enough about Select Blinds excellent customer service. If you've never ordered blinds online, give them a try next time. Samples are sent out right away and their people know their stuff.  This kind of customer service is very rare these days and was so appreciated. (not paid to say that...they are just awesome and I will use them again) Thanks to Holly Mathis for referring me. She's been using their products for years.

It's so tempting to want to replace everything once a room starts feeling new. But the domino effect gets expensive pretty fast. For example, our little kitchen table. A new table was on my list of things to replace but when I considered that it is solid wood and a good size for the room, I came to my senses and had it painted instead. I'm in love!

I've fed my family for years off this little table and would have been sad to see it go. It's a good solid yellow pine table that I had painted white years ago. I was ready for a change so I called my friend Allison of H.A.S. Bins who is a wiz with the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. 

The awesome Allison of H.A.S. Bins. She offers custom painting work and also sells painted furniture along with her partners at H.A.S. Bins.

She created a custom color mix using Graphite and Old White which resulted in this dark moody gray.  I do love the contrast with my chairs. Thank you Allison, so so much, xo.

Here you can see where the next work will be happening.  The little shelf will be removed and natural open shelves will be installed.  There was a recipe desk here that was removed as well. I'll have shelves to the floor for ironstone and serve ware.  I considered closing it off, but would miss the styling opportunity.  I like to see my stuff.

When all is done, then a new floor will go in (when I can make up my decorators ever changing mind). Bring in the existing wood? A hex tile in a fun pattern? Big tiles or little ones? A painted cement tile? Another white floor?

I got so sick of myself I had to just stop for a bit and catch my breath. Better that than to make an expensive mistake. 

There's more to share as we go. We replaced the tile backsplash with beadboard, converted a wall oven to a small pantry, converted a cook top to a slide in range and had one of those God awful fluorescent box lights ripped out and sprinkled around some small led lights on dimmers. New cabinet hardware is coming as soon as I get it ordered. 

Oh, and the wall color is Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams.

The Other Side of The Camera

What an exciting week around here.

I never thought I would say this, but our house was photographed last week for

Better Homes & Gardens.

I know!!! It felt like a dream.

I'll be sure to keep you posted when the issue is out and share many more details closer to that time.

It was a huge thrill and a very humbling experience to see our home through the eyes of the BH&G team. 

A great take away from this that I would love to pass on to you is to always Always ALWAYS be true to your own unique style. That's what makes your home, and the world, a much more interesting place. 

The Day After Christmas

Merry Christmas!

What a wonderfully busy season it's been. I have loved seeing so many of your homes so beautifully decked for the holidays. Between Pinterest and Instagram the inspiration was impressive and at times overwhelming to me. My heavy work schedule had me running until the last minute on every detail, which isn't the best feeling. But thankfully it's not like that every year and I just had to go with it. 

Some really lovely things came from that. I learned that it's ok to "just go with it". That when the exhaustion and emotions that can turn us inside out at Christmas start to become too much that the candle light service at church is exactly what I needed to press the reset button. That buying for a family in need always feels good. That an untraditional Christmas lunch of gourmet sliders and dips lends itself to less clean up and more time for game playing and visiting with our precious family. That teenage boys will be happy on Christmas morning as long as there is food and lots of it!

And, that a late blog post is better than no blog post, so for those of you still with me, here are a few small details that I really and truly enjoyed this Christmas.

I kept most of the house simple with greens and berries that grow on a huge bush in the common area of my neighborhood. We borrowed a few for Christmas.

I used a variety of vintage glasses on the dining table. They felt so fresh and pretty with each one having it's own little personality.  I think these might stay a while. 

And just for fun, a chalkboard Christmas tree went up in our bedroom. It was so relaxing to just stop everything and draw this out one evening. The inspiration came from a quick google session and some basic measuring to get it somewhat centered. I think the trick to chalkboard art is to just keep going.  Trace over your work to give it contrast and don't be afraid of messing up. 

And now, it's time to hunker down and enjoy the nice long break from work and school. I'm reading Amy Poehler's new book,

Yes Please

and loving it. There are movies I want to see with the boys and if I get a big burst of energy, I'll grab a shovel and start cleaning up this messy office. 

I have lots to share in the coming year. I just wrapped two shoots for

Country Living Magazine

that you will l o v e that will be featured this spring  and another on the books in a couple of weeks. 

But for now, lets stay in the peaceful calm and happiness that comes with the close of another beautiful Christmas. And in our jammies. With lots of chocolate chip cookies.

A Little Bit of Fall Is All

I see from some my favorite blogs, Pinterest and Instagram that apparently it's Fall???

Poor southeast Texas.  We miss out on all the fall fun when it comes to seasons. We're about to roll over to November and the kids are still wearing shorts to school and it's been 90 degrees over the last week.  I've yet to make soup, wear a scarf or eat pumpkin anything. We can't even fake it. 

It just feels wrong to not do anything in terms of making some changes in the house to acknowledge that somewhere, people are picking apples, making biggo leaf piles to jump into and bundling up to go to the Friday night football games.

My favorite unframed botanicals are my favorite mobile art collection.  I took them off the mantel and now they're repping fall in the dining room for me. And i like it!

They really deserve to be properly framed, but then I wouldn't get to use my fun washi tape to hang them all over the house on a whim.  

In my world, coral is a fall styling element.  Nod your head if you agree.  Thank you :) 

Some fresh eucalyptus and pretty blue/gray pumpkins. I do love the colors.

Botanicals and ironstone.  Two of my favorite collections that really work for me in any season. This was more about putting together colors and textures that suggest fall for my cottage style and I am really enjoying it. With the candles lit and the a/c cranked down it even feels a little like fall in here :)

Growing up a Boys Room (All You Need is Pine)

My boys are growing up. They started high school this fall and we're having fun bringing in some manly vibes for their rooms.

This vignette started with the pine dresser and antique hat rack I picked up a couple of weeks ago.  The strong sturdy pine and original black wood knobs were exactly the look I wanted for this space. 

I want my boys to live with the things THEY love so it's important that they have their stuff around them and also have a say in how their personal spaces look.  I 'm happy to give them options when it comes to art and decorative accessories I think might look good and function for them, and they're pretty decisive, so it's an easy process. 

The flag is a Danish nautical flag I picked up an an estate sale, the mandolin with no strings was a gimme from my dad and the albums were my husbands.

This boy is a musician and avid reader and this is how he likes his stuff :)

Summer Break

A solid month of summer has passed and it appears I took an unintended blogging vacation. I do have lots to catch you up on. The new

slip covers

are finished and I'm looking forward to sharing those with you.  There's always new work and collaborations.

And family life.  We just returned from a 10 day, 8 state road trip to North Carolina and Tennessee to visit dear family friends and enjoyed some much needed time away in the great outdoors. I get so much inspiration from nature and I love summer styling more than any other season. 

Before we left for vacation I pulled together some of my favorite summer styling elements to come home to; vintage bottles, coral and flea market art mixed with succulents in zinc pots. 

The light blue from the painting, the reflection of light from the bottles and the texture from the coral are the perfect feel of summer to me. It's my version of a little zen garden that gets moved around, added to and loved on all summer long.  A small space is all that's needed to bring a little summer inside. Hope you're enjoying your summer break!

Belinda's Dream 2014

My gardening occurs in fits and spurts between work, kids, the heat and my mood. I'm so thankful my favorite rose,

Belinda's Dream

, blooms her heart out in spite of my gardening issues. I thought she deserved a portrait for all her hard work this spring.

This is one tough shrub rose.  I've planted it at two of our homes and they've performed outstanding in the Texas heat. In Houston, they can usually be found at

Cornelius Nursery

or you can  make a day trip to

The Antique Rose Emporium

, located in Independence, Texas. 

Pretty as a Picture

Sometimes all it takes is one special piece to make a room sing for Christmas.  For my dining room, this large scale folk painting is hitting all the right notes this season.

I don't know much about the painting, but it appears to be mid century by an artist whose last name is Reynolds. I love the atmosphere and soft colors of the piece.

Once the painting was in place, I added cedar on the chandelier, a few branches and flowers, and antique German ornaments in an ironstone bowl.  So simple and fresh. Ironstone gets me through every season and occasion so I keep a nice supply on hand.

A chalk pen is great for drawing on mirrors as well as chalkboards.  

Merry Details

I usually have a

chalkboard and botanicals

on this big wall, but I'm really enjoying how much joy and life this painting brings to the room. I know it's unrealistic and crazy making to think we have to change every surface in our homes for the holidays.  We don't! But don't overlook a simple change to get a big effect..then all the little things fall into place easily. 

All is Calm All is Bright

This Christmas I'm making a few simple changes in our neutral bedroom with just a little bit of color and texture from nature.

I shopped my moms extensive quilt collection for the "just right" piece that wouldn't feel too country. The simple vintage graphic quilt and pillows were the perfect addition of color to brighten the space and keep the Scandinavian style that I love. As the leaves fell from our crepe myrtle tree, an abandoned bird nest was revealed and the branch was put to quick use for my feather bird Christmas ornaments.

Tucked into the opening of the clock are vintage books and my baby shoes with miniature bottle brush trees. 

The variety of textures add to the rooms' seasonal atmosphere. I love single poinsettia stems in vases because they stay fresh a long time. And they look great with seashells!

We're really enjoying the color in our normally neutral bedroom. Feels like Christmas!

Curious Fall

Ever so slowly, fall makes its way to Texas.  While I've seen pumpkins and mums in stores and on my favorite blogs for a while now, I can't embrace the decorating until the temps drop at least a little. I think my favorite thing is the subtle shift in the light and how it changes in the rooms in the front of our home.

I favor natural elements and colors, warm wood and textures. Here are a few changes in our dining room for fall:

A Bead Board Stairwell Update

One of the projects on our to-do list for the summer was to update the stairs in the new house with bead board and a gallery wall. The space was untouched when we moved in and we lived with it for a couple of years, but in my mind, I could picture fresh paint and bead board just like downstairs.


We added bead board below the new black hand rail and painted the walls the same color as downstairs.  There's tons of wall space so I've started a gallery wall using all white frames, with some of my favorite beach images.  If you've got a smart phone full of great pictures, start printing them out!  The 16x20 images were shot with my iphone while at the beach this summer and I love how they look framed up nice and big on the wall.
I usually wing it when hanging gallery walls, however, I wanted to do this one time and do it right so I used the fool proof method of laying the frames out on a roll of craft paper, traced around the frames and cut out the shapes.

The next step was to hang the shapes on the wall with painters tape. This allows you to get the layout you want without all the "oops' nail holes in the wall. 

Then I measured where the hanger was on the back of the frame and made a mark on the craft paper.  That's where I hammered in the nail, then pulled the paper away and hung the frames. It was perfecto. 

As beach lovers, I decided to use my favorite images of our summers spent in Seaside, Florida.  The boys are so little in some of these and I love seeing them on my way upstairs to pick up dirty socks. 
I mixed color images with black and white since they all have the same vibe, and it works.


There's quite a bit of wall space up the stairs and my plan is to totally cover the walls. We're off to a pretty good start.

Memories of Summer ~ Palette Knife Art

Did you spend the weekend saying a proper farewell to summer?  Our vacation to Seaside, Florida, was one of the highlights for us. It's hard to capture the emotion and light of the water, sand and sky reflecting off one another, but it's a view I carry in my heart and use as inspiration for little painted love letters to the ocean.

Over the years, I've started a personal collection of palette knife paintings inspired by the beaches of Florida, The Outer Banks and California. This 5x7 board is the most recent addition.

 I don't take this too seriously,and have never had lessons, but I do enjoy it. Most times I just use paint I have on hand, including house paint, "oops" paint or craft paint.  I love the texture and layers of palette knife painting, so that's my signature style :)

Paintings resting on the ledge were painted by me. The lily pad painting is vintage.
I've even recycled old book covers to use as a canvas if I don't have one in my craft closet:

The thrift store is a great place to find large size canvases at a much lower price than the art store. For just a few dollars this 36" canvas provides lots of summer color. 

Detail of the above painting

While our weather won't be cooling down for another month or so, our schedules have made the shift to fall school activities. Summer was sad to see it go.

Easy to Make Shade Arbor

This post will show you how to make a simple shade arbor. Or, as I like to call it, my love letter to Steve Giannetti.

Steve and Brooke Giannetti are a California design duo building their dream house, Patina Farm, in Ojai.  While following the building progress of their beautiful home on Brooke's blog, this built-in trellis above the window caught my eye and got my DIY wheels turning.


The space where we needed shade is narrow and there is no room for vertical supports. We were able to apply Steve's design using galvanized plumbing pipe to achieve a casual poolside shade arbor and it took less than two hours. It was so easy!

Here's how we did it with materials from Home Depot and some sheer cotton drapes that were no longer being used in the house:

Galvanized floor flanges were attached with wood screws to the top piece of trim board above the siding. Then we simply threaded 48" galvanized plumbing pipe into the flanges. The pipes are available in several lengths. Use the size that works best for you. 

I put a sheer panel on each of the outside pipes and one in the middle that we cut and swagged over in a random pattern.

Really, we just made it up as we went and love the results.

Then we measured and cut a length of reed fencing that we laid on top of the pipe. This was tied to the pipe with some jute thread that we had on hand.

Backyard X-Scapes 6 ft. H. x 16 ft. L Reed Fencing
1 in. x 48 in. Galvanized Steel Pipe
3/4 in. Galvanized Malleable Iron Floor Flange
8 in. x 2-1/2 in. Coarse Zinc-Plated Steel Flat-Head Combination Multi-Material Wood Screws 133 per Box

Here's what it looks like from the underside:

Lightweight hooks were screwed into the siding and the panels were pulled back with string.

I've always loved the idea of a little boho, casual, colorful shade area. Adding a collection of mirrors under the arbor really brightened up the wall space and extends the garden element.

This was such a fun and fast project for us. I think the options are almost limitless as to how you could change it up to suit your style. Such as:

~paint the pipe

~use painter's dropcloths or sheets in place of sheers

~spray paint the reed fencing

~add planters to the wall space

Many thanks (or apologies:) to Steve Giannetti for the inspiration. We love it!

Game Room Before & After

While the boys are away at summer camp this week I thought it would be a good time to show you their upstairs game room.

We absolutely love having an upstairs game room for the boys and believe me, it gets a lot of use. If they're not in the pool or playing outside, this is where you'll find them along with a few of their buddies. This is where we watch movies as a family, practice music, read and play XBox. And every Friday night that coffee table is covered with Chinese food. 

The walls went from tan to Sherwin Williams Repose Gray (7015). The furniture is from Ikea. I'm a fan of their stylish pieces AND it's easy on the budget. My boys aren't too hard on furniture so while I know their things aren't heirlooms, everything I've bought from Ikea has always held up great for us and I never hesitate to recommend them to clients on a budget.

You might be wondering why we left the carpet. We had a very short turnaround to move in this house and there just wasn't time to have it replaced. It's very good quality carpet, it's just an unfortunate shade of blue. For now, we're living with it and embracing the retro vibe :)   The fun stripe rug was a bargain from HomeGoods.

Our previous home had built in bookcases in the game room and we were missing the storage. For this room, we purchased four Billy bookcases in black/brown with height extension shelves added on the top to make them taller and floated the Ektorp loveseat with chaise in front (Svenby gray slipcover). Clip on lights ($9.99 each) add great atmosphere in the evening.

Opposite the bookcase wall is the television on a smaller wall. We decided to put the big flat screen upstairs because we didn't want a huge television in our living room and I didn't want to have to decorate around it. They are just so big!!!! Even with the monster tv upstairs I was wishing it would disappear a little. Chalkboard paint on the wall behind it did the trick!

The rhino is fromWest Elm. I picked up the smaller mounts on sale from Hobby Lobby's safari section and and spray painted them with glossy white paint to match the rhino. 

The room is filled with all the things that my boys love. There are even a few small storage pieces from their nursery that have been able to move up with them and now hold big boy things. The union jack banner is from Holly Mathis Interiors (thanks friend!). It's really long and brings a fun graphic into the room.

I love the atmosphere in this room. With the gray walls and slipcover along with the black furniture, it's darker than the rest of the house. Perfect for a lounge/media/game room and perfect for my guys.

New Ikea Lighting ~ Manljus

Do you love Ikea? I love their affordable designs and have quite a few pieces of furniture that mix well with my cottage style. On a recent trip I picked up the Manljus pendant ($49.99) for my breakfast nook.

White glass with a silver metal bulb cover diffuses the light so you don't feel like you're being interrogated (pet pendant peeve) and gives it a little industrial edge. 

 One more thing to share that has nothing to do with lighting. Over the Memorial holiday, one of my boys was under the weather and spent some quiet time playing cards with his dad. Like most things here, it got pretty competitive with quick card game challenges throughout the weekend. I decided to keep the cards on our breakfast table and it's been a big hit beyond the weekend. It's nice to see kids playing something that doesn't include a screen. A simple deck of cards, out where they can be reminded to play,  has kept them engaged and happy for hours.  It's the little things.

Instead of Chalk

And so it begins. The start of the holiday season hustle and bustle. I've installed two homes worth of Christmas in two days and we haven't even carved the Thanksgiving turkey yet.  
And people are camped out in front of Best Buy? For what? 
We're not hosting Thanksgiving so my dining room won't see any action this week. I did create a little Thanksgiving installation just for fun. I get a lot of mileage out of this big chalkboard. If you have one and want to try something that doesn't involve chalk, here's what I put together from our Thanksgiving nature collection using the chalkboard as the background to build on. 

String, twine, wire and a big folding measuring stick were the starting point. 

 A magnifying glass makes it interactive and fun to see leaves and feathers up close. My boys have enjoyed this.

I will forever love a turkey hand. I made these with my boys years ago and we pull them out every year.  They're made out of dried beans. I remember the day we made them together. Special memories like this are what I'm so thankful for. Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving and the opportunity to  make special memories with your special people.

One Shelf Three Ways To Decorate

Does your kitchen have a desk area?  Many of the original kitchens in the 20 year old homes in my neighborhood have one (mine included) and they can sometimes be a challenge to pull together. If you have a dedicated office space in your home for paperwork, then you have the opportunity to make the desk and shelves pretty and have it relate to the rest of your room.

While I had the shelves empty to add some fall touches, I grabbed some accessories from around the house to put together three different looks that might inspire you to pretty up your shelves.

My desk area has an electrical outlet and a phone outlet right in the middle of the wall (thank you Texas builders...why does this happen?)  So I cover it with something BIG like this neutral seashell mirror. Once that anchor piece is in place I can then fill in the rest. I don't do much Halloween decorating downstairs and instead keep the focus on fall. Even when I decorate seasonally, I use things that are meaningful to me. The pressed leaves are from a trip to Paris. The owl plates were found at the thrift store. The artist's last name on the back of the plates is the same as my maiden name which is a very unique French name so I never see it on anything.  The wicker bottles and ironstone are part of a bigger collection. Here's a closer look at the fall accessories I used:

The next look is FUNCTIONAL:

If you've got pretty appliances and serve ware don't hide it in a pantry. Make it part of your kitchen decor. I love vintage so this look is a mix of pieces that I use often and can keep at arm's reach. 

The mirror was replaced with a vintage silver tray. A stainless juicer and glasses, cutlery that I pick up as souvenirs, cloth napkins and more ironstone pitchers that I often use as vases are functional and pretty.

The last look is USEFUL

I do actually like the idea of a recipe desk in the kitchen. A quick place to make a grocery list, look up a recipe or favorite blog is convenient. I combined a few desk supplies with some colorful Mason jars, cookbooks and a chalkboard for the anchor piece.

Until our kitchen gets remodeled somewhere down the road, I'll keep having fun with the shelves as they are. Hope you've found some inspiration!

Hat Tricks

I love the casual summer feel that a collection of vintage straw hats brings to a room:

                                                               Source: via Curious Details on Pinterest

                                                      Source: via Curious Details on Pinterest

                                                                        Source: via Curious Details on Pinterest

                                                         Source: via Curious Details on Pinterest

For about $10 bucks (thrift store)  and 10 minutes I added some summer style to our bedroom.
Hats make me happy!