Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 4, 3, 2, 1

The days of coordinating costumes are over for my almost four year-old twins.

Age 4, Dragon and Butterfly
These two have been talking about what they want to be since July!  I really wanted them to be Little Red Riding Hood and the Big, Bad Wolf (perfect for my tom-boy and girly-girl) but it was a no-go. 

I did have some success the previous three years, so I'll relish that...

Age 3, The Wild Things
Age 2, Spaghetti and Meatballs in our pre-painted kitchen.
Age 1, Monkey and Banana -- my personal favorite. 

My, how time flies...

Happy Halloween!

And thinking of all the folks affected by Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast. 


Monday, October 29, 2012

Hard at work!

Together with my neighbor and business partner, Wendy, I am in full-steam-ahead-mode getting ready for the Alameda Point Antiques Faire -- the largest antiques flea market in Northern California -- this Sunday!

Here's a small peek at our studio space which is an outbuilding in our shared backyard.  (Wendy is my downstairs duplex neighbor.)  We're doing our best to get it organized so that we can be productive in our limited free time as stay-at-home moms.  Pegboard has gone up along one wall of the main room.  On the opposite wall, we plan to paint and rip up the carpet to make a photo studio space.

Currently, we have to drag our latest projects out into the yard or into one of our apartments for a photo shoot.  It's not much fun and because of it, we have missed taking a lot of photos of things which have since sold.  We have iphone pics, like the one above, but no quality photos.  Sad :(

Still, here are some photos of things that sold before we were able to take pictures with the good camera:
Clockwise from left:  suitcase table created from vintage suitcase and vintage furniture legs, linen pillow cover and squirrel pillows made of vintage fabric, vintage oil painting on canvas that we cleaned and re-stretched, striped whale pillow.

Clockwise from top left:  screen display for our vintage flash cards which sold before we sold a single flashcard!, napkins made from vintage tablecloth, bushel basket on stand, animal silhouettes in thrifted frames.

We also just finished a custom job for one our clients:

 This mission rocker is the real deal, but had been sitting on a front porch for eons until an acquaintance gave it to us.  Our client spotted it in our studio and asked that we paint it olive.  We refurbished the spring cushion before reupholstering it in an outdoor fabric.  Our client wanted quiet colors for her front porch, which is where we hope the rocker will sit for another eon at least!  (This really speaks to our business philosophy -- the rocker might have been sent to the dump, but has plenty of life left in it with a bit of sprucing up!)

Now for the better photos.   Here's a sneak peek of our latest projects which we plan to take to the antiques faire this weekend:

HUGE painted mirror
More animal silhouette art -- this one made from an reclaimed cabinet door.

horse pillow
vintage faux bamboo brass serving tray
We also have a huge selection of succulent gardens in these sculptural white bowls
This is just the tip of the iceberg -- they're simply the photos I managed to take today.   I still need to get a ton of photos of some of our bigger pieces of furniture before we sell those this weekend.  Quite an eclectic mix, don't you think?

To add to the work, there was the Halloween costume to make.

Twin B's dragon costume came ready made, but when my twin A spied this devil costume at the store and INSISTED on having it, I told her we'd get it, but change it into a butterfly costume.  She was ok with the idea, so off came the devil horns on the headband and on went antennae.  I had the make the wings from scratch.  Thank goodness for cardboard, construction paper, pom-poms and hot glue!

Whew!  I'll be back tomorrow with a gratuitously cute post of the past four Halloweens with my young uns.

Are you all prepared for the big day?  Ready to get your sugar-high on?

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Good Looking Binder Idea

Recently, my blog friend, Fran, told me to go check out designer Rachel Krauskopf's house tour on Design Sponge because she knew I would love it.  (And I did!  Thanks, Fran!)

This photo of Rachel's desk area in her small NYC apartment's living room got my attention. 

See those white binders?  They're plain white binders from any place that sells school/office supplies.  Rachel wrote that she dressed them up with vintage-y looking labels from Paper Source.

Isn't that a great idea? I'm betting Rachel uses them for her design business -- maybe one per client?
But I can think of a thousand other applications for these white binders.

Filled with clear protector sheets so there would be nothing to hole punch, I'd keep one for:
  • kids school/activity info
  • take-out menus
  • recipes
  • appliance/technology user manuals
  • important contacts, including business cards (they make plastic dividers specifically for those) and emergency contacts
  • receipts
  • home projects that involve a ton of paperwork and/or samples and sources, like remodeling
  • basically any paper that you don't really want to file, but that ends up in piles or stuck to the fridge

Currently, I have all the above stuck into one gigantic binder and it isn't working for me.  Too unwieldy.

As for the labels, here's what I found:

Paper Source 4.95 for a pack of 12

 Paper Source 4.95 for a pack of 8  (these would need to go on a 3 inch binder because they're wide)

Etsy vintage gummed labels, $6 per sheet

 Etsy Vintage Labels, $4.60 for 8 labels

I'd probably write on the labels with pencil so it can be erased, but you could also get enough labels to stick one over the top of another if contents need to change. 

Soon, you'll see my own set of binders similar to Rachel's set up in our breakfast nook.  It's getting a muli-functional, mini-makeover.

I'm curious to know what you'd use these binders for.  I know there are some great ideas out there and I want to steal them from you!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Coming Up for Air

I spent part of the weekend here for a wedding, but I wasn't a guest. 

The Claremont Hotel
 The Claremont Hotel is right up the street from where we live.   I was there to install the flowers for a wedding.

quick iphone pic
I work part-time as a freelance floral designer.  This was one of two weddings over the weekend that my talented friend Laura Miller contracted me to help with.  People think that playing with flowers all day long is dreamy work.  And it is.  But it's also really grueling physically.  Not only are you on your feet for 9 hours at a time, there is also lot of heavy lifting and carrying of buckets and arrangements.  It's a good workout, that's for sure!

Then on Sunday, my business partner Wendy and I took some of our refurbished and upcycled pieces to our neighborhood elementary school's craft fair.  Again, more heavy lifting and carrying!

quick iphone pic
I was really looking forward to styling a shot of this finished faux inlay mirror for our website, Claremont Finders Keepers (getting an idea where our business name comes from?), but it got snapped up before I had a chance. Not that I'm complaining! :) Here it is in its new owner's home, ready to be placed above the fireplace you see in the reflection.  Wish I had a before pic.  In its former life, the mirror was a very plain maple dresser mirror.

So now I'm coming up for air and taking lots of ibuprofen.  If I haven't returned your email or been to visit your blog in awhile, please accept my apology!

Not sure how much posting I'll be able to do in the next couple of weeks.  After this weekend's craft fair, we are having to scramble to build up our inventory for the Alameda Point Antiques Faire on Nov. 4th.   We'll be sharing a booth again with Lane from Urban Orchard Interiors.   Will let local readers know our booth number soon.

Now, how was your weekend?  Anyone need to take ibuprofen on Monday?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Addendum: Decorating and Styling to Distract

I came across this photo on Pinterest the other day and think it is absolutely the perfect addendum to my post "Decorating and Styling to Distract."

This kitchen looks pretty vintage to me.  By that I mean a tad old.  But with that fantastic navy paint on the back wall (notice how it disguises the wrinkled walls and pipes in the upper right hand corner) and those beautifully styled open shelves, you don't notice the other everyday cabinetry, counter top, stove, etc.

Look how the door on the left has been painted the same color.  And what about that pretty blue and white chair?  Does it always sit in front of the door?  Not likely, but a what a great way to bring a little extra pattern and color closer to the floor for the photo.  The gigantic vase of branches on the right provides the connection between the top and bottom of the photo (and might just disguise some kind of appliance behind it too).

Whoever designed this kitchen turned plain into fancy with a bit of paint and some amazing styling.  He/she deserves big kudos!  

Missing a source on this one. Can anyone provide the link?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

DIY Inlay Foot Stool

Here's the newest little addition to our house. 

It's a DIY Indian inlay foot stool painted using a stencil kit. 

  Here's what it looked like before.  I used Annie Sloan Graphite for the base and cream colored craft paint for the stencil.  The top got recovered in burlap, because I figure that's the most durable finish I can find for a foot stool. 

 The foot stool was really a practice run for a gigantic vintage mirror I'm painting for my business, Claremont Finders Keepers.  If you look closely, you'll see a few smudges and places where I ran one stenciled area over the other.  I don't mind these small imperfections on my own pieces, but for the business, I want my work to be really good.   And this really was a great way to learn how to paint with a stencil and work out all the kinks since I had never painted with one before.  

 Here is the stencil I used from Cutting Edge Stencils.  It comes in five different pieces so you can mix and match to create your own design.  Fun, and kind of addictive.  I'm about half way done with the mirror and will be sure to show pictures when it is finished -- which will be before our next booth at the Alameda Point Antiques Fair on November 4th.  If the mirror sells, I think I'll try my hand at a small chest next.  Perhaps something like this:

Thanks Charmaine, for bringing this to my attention!

Cottage & Vine

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I still have never shown pictures of the master bedroom, and this blog has been up and running for nearly two years now.  Here's a little sneak shot.  I just returned those ikat shams you see in the back there.  I've been looking for some way to bring more gold from my vintage chevron blanket to the top of the bed, but meh.  It just wasn't doing it for me.  Maybe this means it's time to get rid of the blanket.  One day I will make an upholstered headboard.  One day...

 Did you know that you can sign up for weekly episodes from Canadian House and Home's Online TV to be sent to your inbox?

I really enjoy them.  Especially because we're some of those weird people who live without a TV.  (But it makes arranging the living room easier!)

Are you tired of hearing me talk about ticking stripe?

No?  Good! I finished hanging my ticking stripe curtains in the breakfast nook, but am probably not going to show photos until the mini-makeover is done.

But here is some more ticking stripe!

 I adore this skirted table that Ashley from Meet Me in Philadelphia recently sewed.  Ashley's house was just featured in the latest issue of Ivy and Piper.  She's a fellow renter, and I love that she's willing to invest some energy into decorating to make her apartment feel like home.

Jacqueline from Tokyo Jinja wrote an excellent post called "Ticking Takes the Stuffiness Out" featuring some of this apartment from Elle Decor in 1996.  Not only does this prove that ticking stripe has staying power, will you just LOOK at that Chesterfield upholstered in ticking?

My aunt did a more subtle version of ticking stripe on her parallel camelback sofas in the living room.  I took this picture two summers ago before I knew to turn off all the lights, but it is my favorite of the bunch regardless.   

On to other topics...

After posting about this easy fall display, a local blog reader, Elizabeth, sent me the above photo of her own.  It brought a big ol' smile to my face!

Speaking of smiles...
 I rarely show photos of my twins, but I just came across this one and had to post.  They're getting so big!  Almost four and things are SO much easier.  They're just at that age where holidays (and decorating for them) have become super important.  I let them talk me into a giant orange foam jack-o-lantern from Michael's to hang on our front door.  What are holidays without a little tacky decorating for the kids? 

That's all for the random tidbits today. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Room with Two Views

Creating a vignette is quite an art, isn't it?

When I see beautiful vignettes, like Steven Gambrel's below, my analytical (and slightly design-obsessed) brain kicks into overdrive.

Which is probably why Steve from An Urban Cottage invited me to to partake in a kind of dual post.  He knows I geek out on stuff like this.

Separately, we're posting what we see in this particular image:  A Room with Two Views. 

 My View on this Room

I think there's a reason why round mirrors, particularly the convex variety, are so pleasing to the eye.  They're really like a kind of bullseye drawing your attention to them, don't you think?

There's something quite beautiful about a rectangular shape topped with a circular form.  Think of the familiarity of the human head above square-ish shoulders, a round moon rising above the line of a horizon.  This vignette automatically works well because the beautiful pairing of the round mirror above the rectangular table.  It instantly anchors the scene. 

 (I've included copies of this image several times so you don't need to scroll up to see it again.)

The next thing I notice is texture, particularly contrasts in texture.  I see the gleaming glassiness of the mirror; the smooth, cold of the marble tabletop; the the rough, primitive quality of the leaning basket; the chalkiness of the white bowl, with the organic feathery, quality of what I take to be coral.


Then there is repetition.  Lots of it.  Repetition of black, white, grey, the natural textures of the basket and rope, the gleaming elements from the gilding on the picture frame to the nailheads(?) on the black tray to the mirror.

Repetition also comes in the form of shape.  If I were still teaching elementary school, I would ask you how many rectangles you can find.

For me, the most interesting part of this vignette for me is the repetition of the U-shape. Note how the U-shaped white bowl in an inversion of the U-shaped lampshade.  It creates a particularly interesting kind of balance in this asymmetrical vignette.  You can find U-shapes in the cloche and in the lamp base too.

 Let's take a look at how the vignette plays with scale.  Most of the pieces are really quite large.  One way to tell how large is to use the door knob as comparison.  The door knob looks teensy, doesn't it?  It makes you realize just how large the mirror, lamp, bowl, and cloche really are.  Everything feels very weighty, very serious, very substantial.

And of course, since I'm so interested in interior photography, I can't help but analyze how this vignette is photographed.  One of the first things I noticed when I saw this photo was the tripod in the reflection of the mirror.  See how the camera is flipped off to the side to take the photo vertically?

The tripod sits directly in front of the vignette, not off to the side, so it is photographed at a 90 degree angle to the subject.  The camera is placed just barely above table height.  You can see in the reflection that the camera is about the height of the banister, not at eye level where most folks tend to take pictures.  (A low camera is a flattering way to take pictures of a room.)  Also notice how there is not a ton of negative space in the photo.  The vignette fills almost the entire frame.

Now that you've read my dissertation on the subject, here is a review.

This vignette works because of:
  • shape
  • repetition
  • contrasting texture
  • balance
  • scale
  • how it is photographed
  • and the bones of the room don't hurt either!

Interested as I am to hear what Steve thinks?  Click here to get his view on this room.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Seven Common Photography Mistakes to Avoid

Ever take pictures of your house only to be disappointed by the results?  Today, I'm guest posting at Powell Brower Home on the next part of my Composing Photos Series.

Click here to check out the seven common photography mistakes to avoid. 

Disclaimer:  my own blog, especially in the beginning, is full of these mistakes!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cow Skull

Georgia O'Keefe's Cow Skull with Calico Roses

Maybe it's because I grew up in New Mexico, or maybe it's because Georgia O'Keefe happens to be one of my favorite painters.  Maybe I just like the idea of adding a little edge to my place.  No matter, my sisters got tired of hearing me yammer on about buying a cow skull every time I go home to visit family.

And while they shake their heads in wonder (why would anyone want a cow skull?), they looked past that to give me exactly what I wanted for my birthday.

Thanks, Sisters! Love you!