Friday, February 24, 2012

Glazed Burlap Inserts in Faux Woodgrained Wainscoting

Just a quick post today.  I did a really beautiful project awhile back that helped amp up the beauty of this home. The homeowner wanted something different yet rich and more classicially traditional.  Her entryway, especially her stairway to the second floor, was quite tall - and there was very little architecture.  To help ameliorate (sorry for the high-end vacab...I was an English major!!) this "tallness," I suggested that she add some wainscoting with panels and some crown molding.  Once that was done, we went to work doing a faux mahogany finish (with a dollop of eggplant in the glaze mix).

Once white and plain...

The Recipe...

The base color was a brownish red (Leather Red from Aqua Finishing Solutions).  Then I floated Dutch Metal Gold - also from Aqua Finishing Solutions - on the edges for a little sophistication.  It's not quite visible in the photo...but that's because it's suffused under a glaze of Antique Mahogany plus some Eggplant Stain and Seal and a dash of Ebony (also from Aqua Finishing Solutions).

The finishing touch came by adding the burlap to the inserts.  I purchased the burlap online - but you can buy it anywhere as long as it's a burlap that has more of an open weave.  If it's tight, it won't work - well, maybe it will but I don't recommend it.  I put it on with carpenters glue (Elmer's).  You need to try to get the edges as clean as possible.  Mine were not perfect - so I added the cording to neaten it up.  After the glue was dry, I gave the burlap a clear topcoat. The client wanted to retain the light color of the burlap but I darkened it a bit with some dark brown glaze.

I've done this finish on furniture as well.  You can put it on just about anything that has an insert (it would look beautiful as an insert in a ceiling panel!) Come to think of it, I have an end table with a raised molding around the top (sort of like a tray table top) that could use this finish!

Above is a sample I did for a client where I painted and glazed the burlap in the same color. I just added some black accents to the sides of the insert.  Here you can see the burlap weave better - it's more open.  And you can see the edges. If you don't get it down close to the edge - it will look unfinished.  In the darker sample you don't see the edges quite so much...but on the lighter wainscoting inserts that I did for my client - the edges were more noticeable.  But, no big deal - that's what they make cording for!

It's a beautiful finish.  So - give this burlap finish a try in your own home!!

Linking this project up with Between Naps on the Porch

and some of my blog friends HERE

Monday, February 20, 2012

Designing the Perfect Nursery, Part 1

Maybe it's because my youngest daughter, Jessica, is pregnant and due in April...but I thought it would be good to do a post on how to create the perfect nursery. 

A sonogram of my soon-to-be-born granddaughter, Peyton. 8 more weeks to go!

I started to write this post more than a month ago and then one of my readers asked me to do a blogpost on it as well.  The post got pretty long, so I decided to break it up into a Part 1 and Part 2.  I know that some blog readers will stay with a long post, but most will skim!  So to avoid that - I broke it up!

Fun, colorful and practical design from Sarah Richardson via decorpad

The fun part of designing your nursery is picking the colors and the accessories that will go in the room.  But function is so important when you are designing that I had to include that in the discussion.  So whether you are expecting a baby or know someone who is, hopefully you'll learn some useful tips and advice that will not only make your nursery a beautiful one - but a safe place as well.

The Basics:

Where Should the Nursery Be: If possible, have the nursery as close to your bedroom as possible, so that you can attend to your baby quickly during the night. If you would like to have the baby in your room in the early months, you may want to purchase a bassinet.

A beautiful crib for the nursery, via Lucas Studio

 Furniture: The crib – make sure that it is highly rated for safety so that you and your baby can sleep soundly. Check for any recalls and read consumer reviews of the product you select. Many cribs now change into youth beds, so think of the crib as an investment that will last quite a long time. Make sure that you place the crib away from the window to avoid drafts and excess noise. Also...avoid having the crib near any heat or AC vents.

The Changing Table etc: Purchase one with ample open storage underneath so that you can quickly and easily change your baby safely. If you have the room, add an additional dresser to store more clothing, linens and other necessities. If space is really at a minimum, forego the changing table and add a soft pad and cover and place on top of the dresser to change your baby. Whether you use the changing table or the top of the dresser, a diaper stacker on the wall nearby will help make changing your baby much easier. A diaper disposal unit not too far away will also help you! The Diaper Genie II by Platex is very highly rated by users.

Have a Sitting Area: You want to sit down and nurse or read to your baby so make sure you have a comfortable chair to sit in. A rocker would be ideal. A small table or basket to hold books and some small toys would also be ideal.

Images via Finnian's Moon

Bedding: There are so many options in this category but, in general, if you keep the color scheme one that blends with the other items in the room – you will have an easier decision to make! First off, you’ll need a mattress cover – preferably two, so that when one gets soiled you have a backup. Hypoallergenic ones are available and I think they are a great choice.

Bedding from Carousel Designs

You’ll need a snug fitting crib sheet. Ones made of flannel are great for the cooler months – and cotton for the spring and summer. You will not need any blankets. Today’s parents keep their babies’ airway passages clear by not having a blanket covering them. Also, bumper guards – while they add color and style to the nursery – are not being recommended because they could contribute to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Pillows and stuffed animals should also be avoided in the crib.

This is one of my favorite images.  Design by Lisa Mortensen; Photography by Stephen Karlisch

You can opt for a nursery rhyme theme – but before you know it, your child will have outgrown it! In the nursery below, designed by Carolyn Roehm, the handpainted Chinoiserie mural is unexpected, beautiful - and a very imaginative flourish for the youngest of eyes. 

Babies are never too young for Chinoiserie!

You can also stencil something colorful on the walls. The sky is the limit for stencils.  Choose something that you love and chances are your baby will too. Another option is to use appliqués. These vinyl pieces come in many styles and colors, can be changed in an instant and they won’t ruin your walls. Check Blik and Etsy for an assortment of style options.

A modern girl's nursery via Spearmint Baby

Paint Colors: Color is of course very personal. But I think that a soothing color is best for a nursery. A soft pastel blue, pale green or soft pink would work the best though. Make sure to paint several months before the baby arrives and use a zero or low VOC paint. For some visual candy for your baby, you can embellish your walls with a beautiful hand painted mural with a landscape theme – which can serve as a beautiful backdrop for many years to come.

More ideas to post!

My Latest Project: Fixing Faux Finishes in a Home for Sale

The Entry before...

Sometimes I am called on to fix a faux finish, instead of only just doing one.  This beautiful home is currently for sale in Southampton NY for $6,975,000. There were numerous changes done (adding light fixtures etc) and of course some cracks that resulted over the years and needed to be fixed - and so the owners wanted the faux, that had been done many years ago, fixed rather than go through the expense of painting the entire house.




Living room before...



Living room...after

Living room

If you have never tried to fix a faux finish (especially when you didn't do the finish in the first place as in this case), it's one of the hardest things to do well. What happens is that you can't just dot in the color into the patched and primed spot.  It doesn't work.  If you try to do that, it just creates a halo effect and you can see where the "join" is.  You have to create a color that is the closest to the base color and then you swish the color in...blending it in without following the outline of the patch. Then add a little darker glaze and feather that in - as in the drifts that are part of this finish.  Sounds easy but it wasn't at all. 

The Den Wallpaper Fix

I also had to fix many areas in the den.  Oh boy - this was a job.  I had to match a wallpaper of all things.  First, the ceiling above the window seat...





Since the home sellers did not have the paper that was used, I had to improvise.  I primed the areas, then used gift tissue, slightly wrinkled (like I did on my Bookcase Project) then painted it.  I created a glaze color that matched the color of the paper and then glazed the whole ceiling.

By the other window in the room there was more damage...


Blending it in without it looking like a different paper/finish was a bit difficult - but it came out better than even I thought it would!  Sometimes - I surprise myself. The room is really a beautiful one - so it was worth the extra effort.


There were some other areas throughout the room that were discolored and we had to devise a color that would blend in best to disguise it. But - the room looks really great now.

The only full faux finishing that we did in the home was in the dining room.  I just created a very soft, mottled finish that warmed up the space.

The home looks really wonderful and warm so I hope that all of the effort nets the owners a sale. It took us all week to get the work done - so I apologize for not blogging as much last week.  Hopefully this long post will satisfy!

Some knowledge of color theory and faux finishing techniques can really help save time and money.  In this case, the home sellers would have had to have most of their walls re-painted and the den walls would have had to have been stripped of the wall paper, primed and re-painted.  That would have been costly - time and money-wise.  As they were having an open house over the weekend, there wasn't the time to do all that.  So...once again...Faux to the Rescue!

If you are interesting in seeing this beautiful home, please call the realtor, Tim Davis of Corcoran at 631 283-7300.  The website for the listing can be found HERE

You may be interested in another project -  a $3.5 Million home that we staged that sold in 3 1/2 weeks.  Click Here 

Linking this project up to these blogs...

A Late Valentine's Post: The Best Present I Ever Received!

How Much Do I Love My Husband!!

This post is almost a week late, but I just had to write it and share with everyone. Last Tuesday morning, at around 6:40 AM I was about to leave for an early meeting and surprisingly my husband was downstairs waiting for me by the kitchen table. Unusual for him, now that he’s retired, to be up that early but – I saw the card, the candy box, the roses and another package wrapped in pink and I knew why he was up! I hadn’t even wrapped his gift or signed his card yet – I thought I had ‘til the night time when we were going out to dinner to exchange gifts. He had that slight smirk on his face, so I knew that I had to open the gifts right away instead of later. So, I opened the card (which was lovely) and thanked him for the roses and the candy and then I tried to guess what was in the other package – but it had such a hard feel and a weird shape that I couldn’t guess by feel. When I opened it – I was so surprised…and happy beyond belief. It was the best present I ever got!

My husband took what was left of a trophy I received for being Queen of the Prom (hate to say it - but the year was 1969!). I only had the female figurine left after all these years and not the base with the plaque because my ex-husband broke it (don't remember why he did that either). But I carried this little token of my beautiful past around with me maybe out of vanity – but more for just remembering some nice things that have happened to me in the past, I kept it in a junk drawer in my bedroom because I didn’t know where else to put it.

Well for Valentine's Day my wonderful husband found the figurine and went online to order a base for it and the plaque and he affixed the figurine on top. What a surprise! It was definitely the best Valentine's present I ever got. He took me to a wonderful restaurant that night – and although I was tired from working all day…I was the happiest woman in the place, still beaming about my lovely, thoughtful gift from my husband!

Just a quick note about my ex-husband who broke the darn thing - we are still friends to this day and, in fact, his wife works with me and I consider her to be one of my best friends. She is a great person and she is one of my biggest cheerleaders. Unusual – yes I know…and, thankfully for her, my ex grew up and became a wonderful husband and father and he stopped breaking things!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Announcing the Winner of the Hand Painted Fan Deck by Michelle Winick

And the winner of the Michelle Winick Color Collection Fan Deck is...

Mary Habres, owner of Encore Home Staging and ReDesign

Mary is a home stager and re-designer in Jacksonville, Florida. So I know that the Fan Deck will come in very handy for her.  Please visit her blog, which is wonderful.  You can learn a lot from her!

But wait - there's more.  Michelle very graciously added a second giveaway - a $5 off coupon for any color in her paint collection.  And the winner of this unannounced giveaway is...John Kelsey of Wilson Kelsey Design. Please see their blog and website as well - they are amazing interior designers in Massachusetts.

Congratulations to both of our winners.  I will be sending each of you a confirmation email.

If you would like to have more information about Michelle's Color Collection and how you can purchase a fan deck and paints from her collection, you can go to her website here.

I will be back very soon with a blog post project.  I have been working on a beautiful home in Southampton NY, which I will tell you all about! congratulations to the winners!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

You Should Never be Afraid to Try New Things

Nothing Ventured...Nothing Gained

I just wanted to write a quick post on why you should always stretch try new forge into unknown territories.  You never know what it will bring. It will increase your confidence and skill - and you may just get a few jobs you never would have gotten without stretching those unused muscles.

For over 20 years I was in the corporate world - you know...suit, sensible shoes and haircut and a briefcase filled with folders about news of fixed income investing, financial industry mergers and acquisitions...the Wall Street Journal and a fully booked daytimer.  I did very well financially - but spiritually I was bereft.  I knew that I needed a change but what was I going to do?  I knew that I needed money to pay the mortgage, bills etc.  Sometimes, change comes to you.  It's up to you to accept the change or defer and stay with the status quo.

After 20 years of creating executive conferences for the financial services industry (nearly 10 of those years as the head of my own company), I was experiencing extreme burnout.  With the burnout came a severe reduction of the number of attendees to my events.  It was partly my fault and partly the economy, but my little success machine of a company wasn't earning as much money as it had been.  So - after a few failed attempts to revive the company, I allowed my main investor in the company to start unwinding the organization.  He had been a great help to me in the beginning, but he started to be a thorn in my and the company's side over the years. 

I gave in and allowed my 20 plus years of this business to just evaporate and fade.  But, funny enough, it felt as if a huge ton of bricks was just lifted from my chest!  I found that I could consult to a few companies on a part time basis, while I searched around for a new challenge.

My first mural...really!

I had always loved the decorative arts world and so I searched around for some mentors who could teach me the ins and outs of decorative painting, murals, stencilling etc. After taking classes in designer faux finishing, furniture painting and several other classes, I started to do some projects in my home.  After I felt confident in what I was doing I did some paid projects in clients' homes.  I did my first mural class (above) and within a week of finishing the class I got a job doing an angel mural in an entryway for a wonderful client.  This was only my 5th or 6th real client.  I was a little unsure about my ability - but thankfully it turned out beautifully.  I was able to create the mural on canvas in my garage (turned studio now!) and the artwork was installed a month later in the client's home.

What I want to impart to all of you is that no matter where you are job-wise or life-wise, whatever skill level you have, there is always hope and a brighter side of life - if you choose to tackle it and not be hemmed in by fear.  I had never picked up a paintbrush in years - but I was shown by some incredible artists and mentors how to recreate a classical work of art without having to go to years of art school instruction.  Yes, I had some natural talent.  But, mostly, I was just a corporate drop out looking for a way to be free.

Note: The way I did this mural was 1) by priming and painting a canvas, then I skip troweled an off white smooth plaster over it - then another coat of off white paint 2) by using a projector (what a huge help!) to trace as much of the artwork as I could and 3) building up layers of washy paint getting darker and darker each time - I learned to "see shapes," especially where the shadows were, instead of trying to paint or draw the art. 4) I took a piece of sandpaper -sometimes medium...sometimes fine - and sanded here and there to give the artwork some age (this helped create crevices) 5) When done, I antiqued the entire piece.

Now all I have to do is figure out where I will place this in my home!

So don't give up.  Pick up a paint brush, buy some canvases, take some classes in your community or online.  You never know what will happen and what it will bring you.  I know for one thing - it will bring you happiness.

Happy creating! Just DO IT!!

Linking this to my friends at...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Domino Magazine is Coming Back...well, Almost!

One of my favorite publications, Domino Magazine, is coming back to the newstands.  Yeah!  Not the old Domino and not a monthly magazine - but, at least, it's returning.  In the Spring, Domino Quick Fixes, will be available.

Everyone I know was upset when Domino folded.  So glad it's returning - even if it's only once in awhile. 
Screenshot of comments about Domino's return from fans via Facebook
After the Spring issue, another will be forthcoming - in the fall. The last report I read, there were no clear indications of former editor, Deborah Needleman's role in the new magazine.

Now I can stop thumbing through my old copies! I love how they will be focusing on re-vamping old furniture and other quick fixes for today's homeowner.  Great news!  Now, all I have to do is to try to get one of my projects in the magazine!  Domino - please call me!!

Here's the press release about it:



NEW YORK, NY, February 7, 2012 – Condé Nast will publish a Domino special edition entitled Quick Fixes, it was announced today by Thomas J. Wallace, editorial director at Condé Nast. Domino Quick Fixes will be full of Domino’s best home decorating stories, focusing on easy, often inexpensive changes that make a big difference – from quick spruce-ups of dowdy furniture to more involved DIY projects like painting stairs or reorganizing a home office. Domino Quick Fixes will be available on national newsstands from April 17 through July 16, 2012, for $10.99. A second special edition is scheduled for the fall.

“This special edition of Domino is another example of Condé Nast’s objective to bring brands to life across multiple platforms, and give consumers more of what they love in new and exciting ways, said Mr. Wallace. “Domino Quick Fixes will be a treasure trove of useful and creative information, and a must-read for any Domino fan.”

Domino Quick Fixes will join other past Condé Nast branded special editions, including: Gourmet Holiday, Vogue Best Dressed, Vanity Fair Hollywood Scandal, and Glamour 1,000 Dos & Don’ts to Dress by Forever, among others.

Condé Nast is home to some of the world’s most celebrated media brands. In the United States, Condé Nast publishes 18 consumer magazines, four business-to-business publications, 27 websites, and more than 50 apps for mobile and tablet devices, all of which define excellence in their categories. The company also owns Fairchild Fashion Media (FFM), whose portfolio of brands serves as the leading source of news and analysis for the global fashion community. Condé Nast has won more National Magazine Awards over the past ten years than all of its competitors combined. Visit Condé and follow us on Twitter @CondeNastCorp.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Announcing a Free Giveaway and an Audio Interview with Color Consultant and Designer, Michelle Winick


Well I hope everyone had fun watching the Superbowl.  Did your team win?  Well, now it's back to work and so to make your days a bit more fun I'm announcing a "Giveaway."  (Scroll down for the info on how to enter!)

I'll be giving away a beautiful fan deck of colors created by designer and color consultant, Michelle Winick, for the Muralo Paint Company.  The fan deck consists of actual painted samples (not a picture!), so you can see the exact colors that you will get.  And what beautiful colors they are!  They are rich, usable colors that will work in everyone's home.  Michelle spent a lot of time working tirelessly on developing the color line - and I can tell you from experience that all of my clients are very excited about all of these hues.  For all of you designers and color consultants out there - you just whip out this deck...and the client says "Yes," I love those colors.  So your job just got a little easier!

The beautiful range of colors from The Michelle Winick collection

A Mudroom with  walls in Rain Drop (MW-16) and Glowing White (MW-41), trim

Walls, Ocean Rain (MW-14) and Glowing White (MW-41) on trim

These rooms were just newly painted (so excuse the non-furnished photos).  But you can see how rich the colors look on the walls.  If you would like to see more rooms with her colors, please go to Michelle's Flickr page HERE.

Each color is usable and they go with the fabrics, marbles and granites that homeowners and designers are using today.  In fact, that was what inspired Michelle to develop the collection in the first place.  Being that she worked for many years as an in-house designer in paint stores, she heard firsthand homeowners' problems of matching a paint color with a particular marble, granite or wood tone.  Either there were too many choices available on the market (and hard to winnow it down) or else the grays available never matched the colors in marbles or the neutrals didn't go with the wood tones.  So, she decided that her goal should be to make choosing paint colors a whole lot easier for homeowners and designers and other paint specifiers. The paint company, Muralo, was only to happy to have Michelle develop a line for them. 

If you don't know Muralo, they have been around for a very long time - over 120 years.  They are the largest family-owned paint company in the United States.  The company manufactures very upscale paint products - and I love them, especially for their semi-gloss paint for trim and moldings.  It's the closest water-based paint to oil-based that I've found.

Recently I sat down with Michelle for an interview.  She explains her art and design background and the creative reasoning and process that went into developing the line for Muralo.  Here's the audio clip:

Interview with Michelle


There are several ways to enter. The more ways you enter...the better your chances!

1. Become a follower of my blog using Google friend connect on my sidebar. (If you don't have a Google account, you must put your email in the comment box - or else I don't know how to reach you to tell you you've won!). Leave a comment below saying you are now a follower.

2. Like Michelle's Facebook page HERE and then leave a comment below saying you did so.

3. Share the giveaway info on your Facebook page or Blog page and come back here and comment that you did that too. Then you will have 3 entries - more chances to win!

I will do the giveaway on February 18th, 2012 and announce the winner.

Michelle's paints are available online HERE

So enjoy and enter away…Good luck and have a BEAUTIFUL day.!!!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Who Will Win Tonight...the Patriots or the Giants? Vote Here!

Who Will Win The SuperBowl Tonight? free polls 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Most Unusual Thing I Found on the Internet Today: Bees Help Make Art!

Well, I have seen many beautiful and highly unusual things while perusing the Internet...but this one is a "honey," literally!!  The artist is Gregg Hessel from Bespoke Global and over the course of 6 weeks, he will be making a honeycomb installation...along with 10,000 bees.  The bees with "design and make art" by creating a honeycomb as they surround his copper candlesticks. You can see the start of it below.  Save the web address and return again to see the progress!

Hope you enjoy this!
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