Jun 28, 2012

Red, White, & Blue Decor

I'm a firm believer that Red, White, & Blue looks good all-year-round, but I don't really think about it as a color combo until we approach a patriotic holiday like the 4th of July or Memorial Day.   Now that 4th of July is less than a week out I see red, white, and blue decor photos everywhere.  The colors are crisp, classic, fresh, preppy, and patriotic.  Does it get any better than that?

Here are a few of my favorite Red, White, & Blue spaces to get you in a patriotic decorating spirit:

 via Houzz

 via ShelterPop

 via BHG

 via About.com

 via BHG

via HGTV

For 4th of July we'll be in Colorado Springs visiting our family and friends.  Please keep the city of Colorado Springs in your thoughts and prayers as they fight the flames that seem to threaten so many homes there.  It's an amazingly beautiful place and I pray the town is resilient as they bind together to recover from the damages.  Does anyone have any special plans to celebrate the 4th next week?

Long wave the red, white, and blue - and the freedoms we're so very blessed with!

Jun 25, 2012

Crave-Worthy Chocolate Cake

Howdy friends, we're in the whirlwind of a move this week and over the next few weeks so you won't see quite as many posts as usual...please bear with me and know that some great new posts are coming soon because we'll be in a new town (Boston!) and a new house (new to us at least).  Lots of thrifty decorating, crafts, and DIY projects to come!  In the mean time, enjoy this...

Are you drooling yet?  If not, you may need your head examined...  Do you ever just have a hankerin' for chocolate decadence?  If you're like my husband, you definitely do - this is what we came up with on one of those "I think I want some chocolate cake" nights.  It's a cake-frosting combo of two recipes we found - 1) One Bowl Chocolate Cake from AllRecipes.com, and 2) Chocolate Buttercream Frosting from Savory Sweet Life.  Here is the one-two chocolate combo from our craving hearts to yours.

Ingredients for Cake:
2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

(Super Easy) Directions for Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour two 9" round pans or one 9"x13" pan.

2. In large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract.  Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed.  Stir in boiling water. (Batter will be very thin!)

3. Pour evenly into prepped pans and place in preheated oven.

4. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the cake bounces back from your touch (or the toothpick test is clear).  Cool in pan(s) for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack if frosting round cakes (or leave in pan for 9"x13").  Make sure to cool completely before frosting.

Ingredients for Frosting:
1 cup butter, softened (note: we used salted butter for the salty sweet combo, but the original recipe calls for unsalted)
3 1/2 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp almond extract (we did almond and it was delicious!)
4 Tbsp milk or heavy cream (we used whole milk)

Directions for Frosting:
1. Cream butter for a few minutes with a mixer on medium speed.

2. Turn off mixer and add powdered sugar and cocoa.  Turn mixer on lowest speed until sugar and cocoa are absorbed by butter.

3. Increase mixer speed to medium, then add vanilla extract, salt, and milk.  Mix for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.  (Note: If frosting needs to be thicker, add powdered sugar - if it needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 Tbsp at a time)

4. Frost your completely-cooled cake, then slice and serve for some big smiles.

Now pour yourself some milk and indulge away!   And, let us know what you think.  What is your favorite crave-worthy dessert?

Jun 21, 2012

Book Review: I Brake for Yard Sales by Lara Spencer

via Amazon

I thought I'd share this find with you because it's one of the most inspiring decorating books I've come across in a long time - and I try to get my hands on as many as possible!  The title of this book says it best..."I Brake for Yard Sales...and Flea Markets, Thrift Shops, Auctions, and the Occasional Dumpster".  The author, Lara Spencer is a Good Morning America corespondent by day and a bargain hunting home-grown decorator for family and friends in her off-time.  She truly seems to understand how important it is to be frugal.  After all, most of us don't have the decorating budgets we'd like to have!  

In the book, she shares some fantastic tips on how to find the best stuff for the least amount of money, how to recycle, reinvent, and/or refurbish the items, and then how to decorate with them.  She does a fabulous job mixing furniture from different eras and blending multiple design styles.  And, she doesn't stray from color (often by way of spray paint) - love it!

Here are a few photos of her super cool spaces, which consist of some super thrifty finds:

Lara found these yellow lamps from Goodwill at $10 each.  The lithographs above the sofa were $10 each at a garage sale.  The sofa was only $160 at a thrift shop, but Lara had it reupholstered to match her room.  Same story for the club chairs and coffee tables - all recycled and revived.

I totally adore this wallpaper but the real deals come in the pictured furniture.  The mahogany chest was only $100 at a garage sale.  The chair was $50 at a flea market.  Art above chair - unique and only $20 from a thrift store.

Hello Hollywood!  This space is ultra glamorous and sophisticated.  The campaign style dresser was only $40 - Lara had it repainted and covered the laminate top with a sheet of custom-cut mirrored glass.  The octagonal mirror was a cool $22, and the hip green vases were only $2.50 a pop.

Graphic art, purple hex wall paper, and splashes of pink - what an awesome kid's room!  These vintage Murano glass lamps are a thrifty splurge at $550 for the pair, but compared to the $1,500 retail price they're quite the steal.  Lara added some chrome tacks to headboard for some extra detail.  Affordable white sheets can be embroidered with a monogram, which will make them look ultra-rich.

Lara did this house for a friend - and that friend owes her A LOT because the finished result is amazing!   The convex "bubble mirror" is a major statement for a mere $250.  The yellow chairs were purchased at a charity shop for $45 each, then recovered in hip yellow-green fabric.  The fuchsia chair was $120, yet another steal. 

This bedroom vanity space is super thrifty.  The desk was $40, the lucite chair only $75, and the chic club chair only $45.  All items were lovingly refurbished to get to their current state of splendor.

This picture has some spendy finds (the bedside tables were $270 each) and cheap finds (the lamps were only $60).  However, the black and white framed prints in this space are the true diamonds in the rough - they're authentic, numbered Picasso lithographs, which were found at a Salvation Army for only $35!

Check it!  These chairs are recovered in laminated shower curtains - heavy duty, waterproof, kidproof, stainproof...and each curtain was only $11.99.  Add a few silver upholstery tacks to make them look even more current and cool.

As you can see, Lara is Wonderwoman when it comes to finding amazing pieces at thrifty prices.  Her book is filled with stories of finds, a vast array of photos, and very practical tips.  It includes pictures of both her homes - one in CA and one in Connecticut - which most of us could only dream of, but she always stays true to her thrifty core, filling them with finds on a dime.

Here are the very important questions Lara answers in "I Brake for Yard Sales...":

How do you find quality pieces?
How do you know what is worth taking and what is worth passing up?
Where do score all your thrifty finds?  
What's cheapest on the scale of thriftiness - thrift shops, garage sales, estate sales, flea markets, or auctions? And what can you expect at each venue?
What key items should I look for?
How do you haggle (appropriately)?
What are your favorite online shopping resources?

And then she shares some great examples of how she repurposed her myriad finds.  There are some great before and afters!

I could go on and on...  Bottomline, you've got to check out this book if you love affordable decor with a story behind it.  And, it's the perfect gift for any design nut friend or family member you may have.  You can find the book for a steal itself at $15.99 on Amazon.com.  Happy inspired decor reading, friends!

Jun 18, 2012

Goodnight Moon Inspired Room

While reading the classic story of Goodnight Moon to my tiny tot this weekend, I had the most fantastic idea pop into my head - I should design a kid's room exactly like the room in the book.  The little bunny's room is so whimsical and bright and fun, something any little one would like to play (and maybe eventually fall asleep) in.  I Googled "Goodnight Moon Room" and didn't find much, so I figure it's a pretty original idea...so, why not?!?

Here is the image from the book that fueled my decorating whim:

It has lots of primary colors - and the super bright GREEN walls - but could turn into something really updated and cheery for a baby's nursery or kid's room alike.  With a little color restraint (lets not do the red carpet...) and a focus on finding both modern and traditional items for a well-balanced space, I think it turned out pretty stinkin' cute!  (see below for item sourcing)

1. Yellow/White Oilcloth ($6.25/yd) made into Roman Shades - Fashion Fabrics Club Online // 2. Pretty Patterned Fabric Garland ($20 for 138" garland w/20 flags) - The Land of Nod // 3. Reese Red Full-size Bed ($136) - Overstock.com // 4. Large Scalloped Frame ($8 Unfinished) - by "Say Hello Shop" on Etsy // 5. Balloon and Elephant Print ($9 Unframed) - by "Vintage Art Studio" on Etsy // 6. Expedit Shelving Unit in Red ($90) - Ikea // 7. Harvey Pool Nightstand ($80) - cb2 // 8. PS Clock w/Storage, Red ($30) - Ikea // 9. Zutano Blue Into the Forest Lamp & Shade ($50) - Target.com // 10. Handcrafted Stuffed Bunny Rabbit ($48) - by "Felted Friends" on Etsy // 11. Faux Tiger Skin Rug 4'10" x 6'8" ($139) - Hollywood Love Rugs // 12. Nellie 3-Drawer Dresser in Ale ($1,977) - Maine Cottage // 13. Luck Side Table ($149) - cb2 // 14. Finn Rocker ($1,698) - Anthropologie // 15. Wall Color in SW 6924 Direct Green - Sherman Williams

The great part about the more expensive pieces in this room (the rocker and the dresser) is that you can find some very similar alternatives by simply scouring Craigs List or local garage sales and then painting them to match the space.  The expensive yellow dresser shown above could easily be replicated by purchasing an old dresser, sanding it down, then spray painting it a sunny yellow shade.

And, if you don't have the space for a big 'ol bed like this one - try a cool headboard decal like this for the same look!

Red Olivia Headboard Decal (Twin-size for $16) - The Land of Nod

Thoughts?  The room may be too bright for the faint of heart but with a neutral floor (wood, carpet, etc.) I think it would be just the perfect dose of fun!  The rocker is my favorite piece for the room albeit a mega splurge.  I also adore that elephant and balloon print on the vintage dictionary page - so inspired and unique!  What is your favorite item?

Jun 14, 2012

Clear Ambition - Lucite Look for Less

Lucite, acrylic, glass...you name it.  If it's clear, I think it's cool!  I'm not certain if that's because of my love of Jelly Shoes as a wee one, or because there is something wondrous about an invisible object functioning like a very visible one.  There is inherent beauty in something being there without being "seen" right away - honestly, it reminds me of God's presence in our daily lives!

We'll play "I Spy Lucite with my Little Eye" in the following dream-worthy designer rooms, then I'll share some clear(ly) affordable options you can add to your own space to make it sparkle a bit.

Lucite coffee table fancies up the otherwise neutral and casual space.

Another Lucite coffee table perfectly complements the contemporary art.

A Lucite crib is a bit over the top modern for me, but cool none the less.

The Lucite chair blends right in to this cozy desk space.

A Lucite chair is at home with a mixture of other chair designs, creating an inviting dining space.

A Lucite entry table takes up limited visual space, allowing the over-sized poster to be the star of the show.

A glass-front refrigerator is industrial, sleek, and refined.  Let colorful food provide your pops of color. 

A glass lamp base doesn't steal the show but has such pretty lines when your eyes finally settle on it.

Nesting Lucite tables provide 3 tables in 1 and soften the look of the vintage pieces showcased in the room.

Lucite stools seem to glow on beautiful dark wood floors.

Glamorous Lucite stools with aqua cushions perfectly juxtapose the earthy colors and textures in this space.

A glass enclosed bathtub is such a cool focal point in this bath.  The water makes it come alive.

Now that we've soaked in copious amount of luxurious Lucite and glamorous glass, here are some affordable pieces that give you the Lucite look for far less:

1. Baxton Studio Arylic Stool Set (2 for $195) - Amazon.com // 2. Triple Gourd Clear Glass Table Lamp ($100) - Lamps Plus // 3. Clear Plastic Side Chair with Wooden Base ($136) - Overstock.com // 4. Baxton Studio Acrylic Nesting Tables, Clear (3 for $130) - Amazon.com // 5. Baxton Studio Chiara Acrylic Coffee Table, Clear ($326) - Amazon.com // 6. OXO Good Grips Modular Wine Rack ($20) - Amazon.com // 7. Acrylic Tape Dispenser ($12) - Design Darling // 8. Apothecary Urn 24" Clear Glass Table Lamp ($90) - Lamps Plus // 9. Louis Ghost Arm Chair ($135) - Amazon.com // 10. Labra Candle Holders (5-arm $25, 3-arm $20) - cb2 // 11. Exhibit Lamp ($60) - Pier 1 Imports // 12. Fishscape Fish Bowl ($140) - A+R Store

Several of the pictured items are the no-kidding real deal Lucite designer pieces, just found for a steal.  Always make sure to do your research online before making a purchase.  Several of the items - like the chairs, stools, and tables are over 50% off retail prices.  And "Lucite" is just a fancy brand name for Acrylic, which is a very hardened form of plastic!

Which room or item is your favorite?  I'm totally loving the chair with the wooden base and the wine rack...oh, and the fish bowl if I could find a faux pet fish.

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