Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

A bright Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago I headed out on what has become my routine weekend treasure hunt.  I love it when it’s nice warm fall day with a coffee in hand…
On this particular Saturday there were so many good sales – at least it appeared so by the ads on Craig’s List.  It was tough to narrow them down but in the end I decided to head toward Arlington.  I have not really spent any time in Arlington so definitely don’t know the area well but do know it’s full of beautiful older homes that have just the kind of goodies I love.
This house in Arlington was a cool old Georgian style home and filled with mid-century things.  Loved, loved, loved the house (as usual) and all its nooks & crannies but it was definitely like walking back into 1962.  There were two treasures I found…as soon as I came in the front door this mirror & shelf were hanging dead ahead.  I’m not sure I would have normally been so excited except they were marked $10 for both!!!  They were originally $20 for both but since it was later in the sale they were half off.  Can you believe it??? 
You have to look beyond the dated gold paint..
this mirror has beautiful lines
And it has a "matching"shelf
It does take some vision to see beyond the gold paint but I immediately loved the shape and started to consider what color would make them pop.
Pop of color...
Starting the painting - am now glad I kept those moving boxes
they make a great surface to paint on.

 I ended up with this green color because it’s an accent color I am bringing into my bathroom (in small doses - just enough to add interest) but believe it or not after I painted the mirror, reassembled and moved the mirror that is currently in my bathroom I am left not at all convinced that it is the right mirror for this space.  I love the mirror and really love the new color but somehow the size just seems a little off...
My current Bathroom mirror - I really do
like it but thought the green one might
add a new pizzaz

Freshly painted and reassembled.  Love the
finished product.
 I do love it though so will definitely find another place for it (perhaps in someone else’s home…).  The green really makes it pop and is so fun.  I still have to paint the shelf but am thinking of maybe painting it Navy so it’s not too matchy matchy but will coordinate nicely.  So many options….

Monday, October 24, 2011

Playing Hooky

So this past weekend started a little earlier than most for me.  A couple of my closest friends and I decided to “play hooky” on Friday and have a girls day.  It had been a while since we had all been able to catch up so it was overdue and such a great idea!  Unfortunately the weather was not very cooperative for much outdoor activity but luckily we adapted…..and went shopping.
Once & Again
45 Bridge St., Salem MA
photo courtesy of Kate Nolan-Denham
After a beyond yummy breakfast at the Pilgrim Diner we headed toward Ipswich to see what mischief we could find.  Ipswich is such a picturesque little town it’s a wonderful place to spend an afternoon on a nice day plus there are some lovely little shops on the way. 
The Pilgrim (Deb's) Diner
4 Boston St., Salem MA
photo courtesty of Yelp
The first shop we hit was a revisit for us – Once and Again in Salem MA.  We were immediately greeted by this friendly face.  Her name is Cookie and she is such a love…having a shop pet is just part of the charm of a locally owned/run shop.
Offical Once & Again Greeter
I did remember from our visit last year that Once and Again had wonderful chandeliers but let me tell you they had so many more than I remembered - great options from all design styles.  I can’t imagine anyone not finding something they loved here – I know we all found several fixtures we loved.

Just one of the many rooms of chandeliers and a rare moment
with me in the photo
photo courtesy of Kate Nolan-Denham
One of the other things I love about Once and Again is that most of the items in this shop are “retro” antiques not “serious” antiques.  I always think the “retro” finds are much easier to live with and actually use.  I’m always worried I will do something to destroy either the integrity or value of super serious antiques. 
Love the color of this cabinet.  The green
depression glass & Fire Kingware is just
a bonus!
Looks just like any other dresser but it's
really a bathroom the
repurpose!  If I only had a large enough
bathroom to accomodate it...

After we left Once and Again we meandered up the road for a bit and hit a couple of not really blog-worthy consignment shops (although perfectly lovely they didn’t offer the spectacular array of goodies I usually love to pass along). 

Mid-afternoon we landed at Wenham Tea House and let me tell you this was such a gem of a find.  We had so much fun sipping their delectable blueberry tea and enjoying scrumptious scones.  I can’t say enough wonderful things about the Wenham Tea House….they host private parties too!
Simply Delectable!
As a bonus there is a tea shop where you can purchase the yummy tea and beautiful cups and teapots.  
The Exchange at Wenham Tea House
4 Monument St., Wenham MA
photo courtesty of
We had such a good time meandering we really didn't get to Ipswich before closing time.  That's ok, it was such a fun day playing hooky - we will have to do it again soon girls!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

To Sew Or Not To Sew

Have I happened to mention that I don’t sew? 
Well, perhaps I don’t sew but I do have this genetic defect that allows me to think I can do most anything if I try hard enough (with the exception of major plumbing and electrical of course).  Now that doesn’t mean I actually can do everything that I think I can but I will generally at least try.
So with that in mind shortly after I bought my house I purchased fabric to make curtains with.  I had looked at custom window treatments (or more accurately drooled over them) but couldn’t justify the cost for something I could “do myself”.  So off to Zimman’s I went.
The window in it's original dressing
when I moved in - don't you just love the
window shade that matches the wallpaper?
Well, fast forward a couple of years and I ashamed to admit curtains were not still made - fabric was still sitting. 
I had no pattern (and why would I make this any easier on myself by buying one?) so decided to take a look at some curtains I had to see how they were constructed to see if I could copy them.  I had a custom valance as well as a ready-made valance that I had used in previous houses but neither of which were just what I wanted for this house. 
Old ready-made was perfect for measuring
I measured & drew out a plan, then realized I hadn’t bought any fabric to line the curtain so headed out to Freddy Farkle’s Fabric Outlet to find just the right khaki.  Can’t have unlined curtains, right?
A couple of weeks ago I vowed to finally get this done, laid out all of the materials and realized I hadn’t purchased enough trim so back I went to find more.  After visits to several fabric shops I couldn’t find the trim to match my original selection so ended up going a different route.  Note to self, next time measure twice, cut once.
Pinning in the trim
This past Sunday evening I finally sat down and pinned everything together and last night got down to business with the sewing machine.  I have a very basic sewing machine that my Mom had picked up for me a few years ago at a yard sale – a new swanky (i.e. expensive) model would be lost on a novice non-sewer such as me.  I’m sure if knew how to use a swankier model it would have made sewing that trim on easier but my basic model worked just fine!
It took me a total of about 3 hours and luckily I had thought it through enough that it wasn’t too stressful once I actually got down to it.  I somehow knew that ironing as you go makes all the difference in your end product so pinned, ironed then sewed and it went fairly smoothly. 
Before the final stitching - the trim is stitched in but that
was all at this point
And here is the finished product:
Not totally perfect but not bad for a novice who doesn't

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Shop Around the Corner...Maison de Mer

Maybe a year or so ago I happened to notice a new little shop not far from my house…it’s on a strip near the beach that is mostly populated with salon’s & restaurants so a home goods shop isn’t necessarily expected here but you know my radar is going to hone in on a window full of beautiful furniture & accessories.
Maison de Mer
222 Humphrey St, Swampscott MA
When I first visited Maison de Mer it was a very little shop but full of wonderfulness - French country ooo-la-la!  It is a small single proprietor business – the kind where your dollar really matters in its success (or failure) and feels like it when you enter to a warm greeting from the owner.  I have been back a couple of times and have purchased some really fun trinkets for friends - but it had been a while since my last visit. 
Love, love, love this tray!
A few weeks back I had been driving by on my way somewhere with no time to stop and this picture was in the window just calling me but I had no time to linger so I begrudgingly kept moving.
So fun - retro reproduction painted on
Well yesterday I happened to be out on a couple of missions – spray paint for a new bamboo headboard  I recently bought (struck out yesterday) and trim for that bathroom curtain that just doesn’t seem to be sewing itself.  As I was passing on my way back home that picture called me again.  Little did I know that there were more inside…
now I just have to decide which one I can't live without
and where it will hang in my house..I'm thinking bathroom?
As I mentioned it had been a little bit since I had last been in and to my pleasant surprise Maison de Mer had expanded and doubled the space!  I’m so happy to see she is doing well enough to expand…certainly gives hope that small local business isn’t dead here on the North Shore! 
What could be more inviting than a farm table?
Love cool to mix the feminine of
a teacup on such a very rustic display
Maison de Mer is more than just retro pictures - toile, florals, transferware they have it all.  This is also one of those shops that mixes vintage pieces with new pieces.  I love that!  It’s so reflective of how to live with vintage pieces without it becoming throwback.  I love vintage (obviously) but definitely want my home to feel modern and comfortable.  Dare I say livable?  Well, Maison de Mer is perfect for mixing old with new for livable results.
I couldn't help it....she was having a 25% off sale

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shining A Little Light

I think I may have mentioned a couple of times when I moved into my 1929 bungalow 3 years ago it was kind of like moving into 1972…you know what I’m talking about, gold cabinets & trim, gold & green linoleum flooring, pineapple wallpaper EVERYWHERE..  I’m sure on trend for 1972 but not really so much in 2009. 
Just as outdated but I would say predating 1972 were most of the lighting fixtures.  Some vintage fixtures are so cool and if they had been closer in style to the age of my house that would have been so fab….but that was not to be.
This is one of the few I decided to keep...from my
upstairs hallway.  And there is the 72 gold...
So I was faced with replacing most of the light fixtures in my house and I really wanted something that was a little more unique than what I was seeing at my local Home Depot or Lowes.  I also have a real aversion to what I call the ubiquitous “boob lights”.…they’re everywhere. 
The Ubiquitous Boob...
So I started venturing into the lighting specialty shops and was literally sticker shocked by many of the fixtures that I found and loved….sorry I didn’t have several thousand dollars to spend here.  I also did quite a bit of online shopping but I’m a visual person and I was really struggling picturing the generic photo’s that I saw online in my dining, kitchen, bathroom and entry.  I know there were many options that possibly could have been perfect online – I just couldn’t get my brain there.  I finally struck gold in tax-free New Hampshire at The Lighting Center at Rockingham Electric as well as finding two fixtures at the massive discounted Home Depot Expo that was going out of business.
Old Kitchen fixture...after I had taken
it down (forgot to snap a pic while
it was still up...)
New Kitchen light Kichler 42155BPT from
Rockingham Electric in Rockingham NH

Old Dining Chandelier - I like milk glass but maybe
not so much with brass on my chandelier

Fancy New Dining Chandelier - Elk Lighting 2396/5
from Rockingham Electric
I replaced the dining, entry & kitchen fixtures myself – since the electrical was in place and it was a simple swap out no problem right?   After a small issue with the bracing for the dining room chandelier (the junction box from the old one dropped when I removed the old fixture so I had to put a new box in and make sure it was supported properly to hold the weight of the new chandelier) up they went.  I am definitely not an electrician but I’m here to tell you as long as you remember to turn the power off and pay attention to how the old fixtures come down - swapping an old light for a new light isn’t difficult.

Old Fixture from Entryway - the delivery
guys actually knocked it off the ceiling
when delivering my new couch.  Good
excuse to replace ASAP.

New Entryway Light - vintage from Ebay.  TJ also installed
an electrical outlet so I can plug my lantern string lights in.
Now the outside fixture & bathroom fixture were another story.  I definitely know my limitations when touching anything electrical and these two required more complicated installations – the outside fixture needed new wiring and the old bathroom fixture was mounted on the ceiling where the new one was a wall fixture to fit over my sink & mirror – so I called in TJ the electrician. 
Old Bathroom Light - there was a twin installed
in my basement as well...I traded that one in for
recessed lighting (will show soon - I have more
work to do)
New Bathroom Light Hampton Bay 499 549
from Home Depot Expo
Old Front Entrance Light
New Front Fixture  - Murray Feiss OL4400PBR
From Home Depot Expo
My neighbor at my old apartment is a carpenter so whenever I need someone to do work on my house I give him a call for a referral -TJ was a friend of said neighbor. TJ spent the better part of a day at my house and installed the new fixtures as well as some recessed lighting in my basement and a few new electrical outlets.  Referrals are definitely the way to go if you’re looking for someone to do these kinds of jobs.  He did such a great job and I am so excited to finally have everything installed.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Viva Las Vegas

This week’s work adventure took me to Las Vegas for a conference.  As usual the pace was frantic but unlike most trips I didn’t build in any time for fun non-traditional Las Vegas exploration.  For some reason Las Vegas beyond the strip is a little intimidating to me.  I think there is so much action on the strip I can’t imagine life outside of it and am almost afraid I might be disappointed by the mundane everyday life of it. So, the strip it is….
There were so many inspiring visuals on my visit – such beautiful restaurants with accents that you could definitely incorporate into your home.  Lamps, rugs, art it would all work.
The first night we ate at Mix at Mandalay Bay – let me just say I’m not sure I’ve seen many restaurants more beautiful than this one.  It’s located at the top of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and has spectacular views of the Las Vegas skyline.  It almost feels like you’re eating in the clouds.  It’s very white and quite mod but sooooo pretty (and as a bonus the food was aaaammmmaaaazzzziiiinnnnggg)!

Mix at Mandalay - dining in a cloud
photo courtesy of yelp

photo courtesy of yelp
The blown glass bubbles were just fabulous! 
photo courtesy of yelp
Continuing on the mod theme…the next night we went to see the Cirque du Soleil Love show at The Mirage.  Oh-my-gosh I’m still trying to take all of it in 4 days later – so much visual stimulation!  I can’t say enough good things about this show.  I’m not sure I came away with any defined decor idea’s but I’m sure something will creep out of the recesses of my brain when I’m least expecting it and this spectacle will  be my primary reference point.
Cirque Du Soleil Love @ The Mirage
photo courtesy of google images

The costumes were just amazing - I can't even
imagine the creativity that came up with these.
photo courtesy of google images

This photo while a bit blurry encompassed much of my
impression of the show....lots of color, inspirational color
photo courtesy of google images
 On my third & last night in Las Vegas was the moment where I looked at a television mounted on the wall encased in a beautiful frame at Nove Italiano at The Palms and thought oh my, that is a fabulous idea that I will be stealing.  I don’t think this is a new idea but somehow I seem to have overlooked it until now. 
I love this - it takes some of the electronics look out of
the flat courtesy of me (can't you tell by
the poor quality).
Nove Italiano was such a great restaurant in every way possible…d├ęcor, service, food.  The ultimate trifecta right?  We had such a good time and our waiter was so welcoming he literally made you feel like he was hosting you at a party in his home.   Highly recommend!
Aren't these possibly the most beautiful chandeliers
you have ever seen?  Those are all crystals reflecting that
pink light.
 Funny story about our experience at Nove...we were supposed to be a party of about 15 but it ended up only 5 of us could make it.  The desserts were pre-ordered when the dinner was initially planned and instead of cancelling them our host embraced the order and the treats just kept coming...all so yummy!  Many ended up as take out and let me tell you they were a welcome snack at 5 am on the red eye somewhere over Minneapolis!

This gives a whole new meaning to dessert
Well, I’m finally looking at a break in my travel schedule for a while so look forward to some more regional New England posts upcoming.  It will be so nice to share some of my favorite things a little closer to home in my favorite season…Fall.