Thursday, August 16, 2012

A New Name and a Re-designed Blog

Hi everyone!  I wanted to let you know that very soon I will have a new blog name and a new, re-designed site on Wordpress.  After being on Blogger, which I found very easy and it got me into the blogging world very quickly, I soon realized that I needed to have more functionality and my own hosted site on Wordpress.  After seeing many bloggers that I admire - Marian from Miss Mustardseed and Susan from Between Naps on the Porch - make the switch, I figured that I should too.

The name of the blog...The Colorful Bee.  I think it sounds more "bloggy," colorful and fun.  I am planning on doing a lot of tutorials and giveaways, so I hope that you will stay with me and follow me there as well. Here's the new logo...

The web address will be  I will email all of my followers, so that you don't lose track of me.  I will also have a link redirecting to the new site from Blogger as well.

In the meanwhile, you can follow me on my Facebook Page. to see some of my latest projects.

See you soon with the new and improved blog!



Friday, July 27, 2012

Evolution of a Powder Room: Removing Yet Another 70s Era Wallpaper

When I married my husband, I moved into a house with a lot of 70s type wallpaper.  For a decorative artist like myself - that's like being in purgatory (or worse!!!).  Now, I love wallpaper...well-done, handpainted or beautifully textured or patterned wallpaper.  But - the living room, the powder room, the kitchen, the dining room - the upstairs baths and all the bedrooms had 70s era wallpaper....and I just couldn't live with it. So, slowly but surely, I began to remove all of it. I will feature more of the before and afters in coming months.  I only have one last wall of wallpaper to remove - a camouflage paper (spare me) in what will become a nursery for my new grandchildren,

Can you tell that I like monkeys and pineapples??

Here's a picture of our powder room right after I did the last transformation...first removing all the wallpaper, then oil priming, painting and doing an embossed stencil and tissue finish.  I say "last" transformation because the finish was the same - only the room was, at first, painted an antiqued gunmetal silver - which I really loved.  But as I was re-doing my home, the colors of adjacent rooms were getting warmer and warmer - so the silver just didn't go with the palette I was coming up with.  I chose a softer and warmer metallic color - called Veridine (from Faux Effects). Then I gave it an antique bronze glaze. I covered the switchplates also - to give it a more uniform look.

A view of the vanity and counter - which were chipping and peeling orange/yellow oak

My inspiration photo done by Melanie Royals of Royal Design Studio

Here is the first color of the powder room finish - a gun metal silver

The vanity and countertop were really horrendous and way past their prime - but my husband didn't want to buy anything new because the vanity hid all the pipes underneath (which also include some pipes for the washing machine in an adjacent room - don't ask!). This powder room has 7 sides - it's really an oddity and I could have gutted the whole thing and started over - but that would have been too much $$ for my husband to handle.  So, I made do!  I sanded and primed...painted and glazed...and clearcoated the vanity and countertop and it's held up beautifully over the years.

I don't have a before picture of the powder room - but I do have a snippet of the wallpaper.  Was it horrible?...not really.  But it was dated and it did't really say anything about me and the spirit I wanted my home to portray.  This room and the wallpaper were someone else's idea of beauty - not mine.  So, I had to change it.

It was perfectly nice - but it didn't say "me." And coupled with the peeling, orange yellow vanity and countertop - it had to go!

About the Wall Finish:  The one thing that is difficult about doing this finish is the amount of time and patience it takes to do it.  It's not an overnight sensation...and trust me - I needed a shrink during and after the process.  When you are doing an embossed, raised stencil on a wall - you first have to stencil most of it on the wall first in a light tone.  Why?  Because when you do anything raised/embossed on a large surface - you can't easily go from design to design in a row...because the plaster or whatever you are using to make the design raised - is still wet.  So, you have to jump to another section that's dry in order to do your next raised/embossed area.  So, in this design that I decided on for this room, I first had to make the design "stripes" level and equidistant - I had to stencil just about everything in a tint on the wall before I could trowel any material through the stencil to make the raised design. I hope I didn't lose anyone here yet!! You also have to do this to make sure your vertical design is level and not "off."  So - it's a process...that takes a lot of time. 

Whenever I price this for a client, they always look at me a little crazy because they see the finished product and think "Oh - that's beautiful...I want it."  But when I explain how much time and precision it takes to pull it off...they back off.  Only interior designers so far have said "No problem - I love it.  Let's do it!"

A closer look: You'll see the slight wrinkled texture on the wall.  You don't "have" to do this...but I laid gently wrinkled gift tissue over the entire wall as I was painting the color on the wall.  One of the reasons I did this was because my surface was not 100% perfect - it showed some leftover wallpaper lining and I just wanted to give the wall a little extra texture.  If your walls are perfect - you do not have to do this step and I wish that I could have skipped it!!

A closer look at the wall finish - see the slight wrinkled texture?

One very important note about doing an embossed stencil design with a tissue finish:  Once your tissue is on, you have to make sure that the tissue lies flat next to the raised part of the design.  I had to flatten out the tissue many times and I also had to pin prick some of the bubbles that this finish naturally creates.  Did I get every single one perfect?  No - but overall it looks good and you can see every part of the design.  Next time I do this, I won't choose such a small stencil design - you can see it above to the left of the larger design.  That was a nightmare to get all the tissue to lay down around the design.  So - don't do this!  Choose larger designs to emboss - much easier!

And another tip - if you have to go through some curved surfaces like I did...pick a simpler design!!

For the vanity and countertop:  I first sanded any chipped spots, then oil base primed it and then painted the base in Off White from Faux Effects.  To antique it, I used a brown and gold glaze. The countertop - I sanded it (A-LOT!!!) and then I oil base primed it in a tinted dark brown primer - and then I did several coats of Modern Masters' Statuary Bronze.  I then did several coats of Faux Effects Satin topcoat called Varnish Plus.  I cannot tell you how much I love this product.  I used it on this countertop and while I was re-doing my kitchen, this powder room became my "slop sink" when I was doing any other type of painting or cleaning or washing dishes.  The countertop stayed clean and beautiful after a TON of punishment!!!  Enough said - go buy it!!!!

For the interior section of the vanity, I painted it the Veridine color and then stenciled Royal Design Studio's Small Victorian Grille.  Modern Master's Statuary Bronze surrounds it - but I sanded it back to age it.  I kept the same knobs - only I painted them in the Statuary Bronze.  I plan on changing them soon.  Anyone have any suggestions?  In my kitchen I have the French Birdcage ones in oil rubbed bronze and I love then - so that's a possibility.  But I would love some other ideas.

Future Changes: I am also going to do some other changes to the room.  I'd love to put something different in that center panel in the vanity.  A handpainted monkey or pineapple?  Or is that overkill? I also want to perhaps get a new stone or granite top for the a new sink, faucet and light fixture.  I would also love to do a raised design on the panel right below the countertop - I think it's calling out for something!  And finally, I'd love to do something special to the ceiling.  Right now it's a mid tone sage green, which is nice - but it needs some pizzaz! I'd like to add some moldings as well on the top but with 7's a challenge.  I had though of spray painting a thick rope in bronze and then attaching it.

Would love to hear from all of you on what you'd like me to do with the room...and then I'll post the changes.

Thanks for coming by to see this project! For another project I did with raised stenciling, Click Here.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Revamping an Old Chair for a New Purpose

This week I was asked to stage a vacant home in Malverne NY.  It's a lovely Dutch Colonial that has a great, homey feel to it.  When I looked at the home for the first time, I jotted down my ideas for which furnishings to bring to make this house feel even more like a home.  I usually know pretty quickly - but I knew that I might be missing one or two things that would make the staging complete.

The home featured an enclosed porch that's adjacent to the living room.  It's a narrow room, so I knew that I had to bring a loveseat.  But what should I place on the other side?   It needed a relaxed feel but the piece had to be a bit compact. A wing chair would be too formal and too large.  I had an idea what to use...but it needed a little work and an OK from my husband.

This is the piece I used...but it didn't start out that way.  It was dark and ugly but you didn't see much of it 'cause my husband's clothes covered most of it!  I convinced him I needed it for a job and that I had to lighten it up and make it prettier.  He said "Why?" and I just looked at him and then he said "OK!"

This picture would have looked funnier if I had taken it with all of his clothes racked on top of it - but at least I got a before (OK - with a few paint marks!).  I had to finish this in a hurry - like a half day - in order to get the staging job done. 

I used Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint in Cream.  I didn't have enough time to do the waxing but I add some nice stencilled French words, a motif or two and some distressing and the chair was ready to go. I used several word and graphic stencils from Maison de Stencils to make the job go quickly!

Here are some other shots of the home I staged...

It was a fun job - except for the fact that the air conditioning was not really working well (and it was about 100 degrees outside!).  But we managed to get all the furniture, lamps, rugs and accessories in - without dying of heatstroke. One of my great workers, Lyn, suggested to the realtors that perhaps they should take the winter cover off the air conditioning units.  That worked...alas too late!

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Under the Table and Dreaming; Funky Junk; At the Picket Fence; French Country Cottage; Sundae Scoop; Between Naps on the Porch; Be Colorful; Masterpiece Monday; Home Stories A to Z; My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia; Domestically Speaking; Savvy Southern Style; Knick of Time; The Southern Institute

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

An Inspiring Seminar from Larry Laslo

This morning I attended a wonderful seminar by designer Larry Laslo that was held at the Robert Allen Showroom in Woodbury NY. After hearing Larry talk, I can see why he is so successful - he is so down to earth, funny and warm that I can see why his well-heeled clients love him.  He gave a slide show of many of his projects and showed how he went about designing the spaces.  Some of the homes were so huge that you have to have a mastery in the art of scale and balance in order to pull it off successfully. 

Here were some of the images he shared with the designers in attendance...

Most people would think that using dark and bold colors on a wall would make a room seem smaller, but in Larry's hands the dark colors actually expand the sense of space.  I loved his use of padded charcoal gray walls with the black and white theme. 

In the above room he also mentioned that he chose just one light fixture instead of two sconces on either side - for a neater more functional look for his client.

Speaking of black and white, Larry loves to use Carrerra marble because it creates its own pattern. He kept the rest of the space simple because of the busyness of the pattern.

He also showed us several rooms that had beautiful mosaics, as in the bath above.  Several thousand small tiles make up this beautiful feature wall.

Larry is a master at mixing genres and styles.  These Christopher Guy dining chairs have antique damask backs and white patent leather seats. Many of his rooms feature a hearty mix of now and then - mixing old and new. 

What was really wonderful though was that he said that if you have the talent for using color - don't be afraid to use it and be confident about it.  Just because your client might be timid about it - if you know it's the right thing to do you really need to do it.  I really took this to heart because I have felt that I pushed the color envelope with my clients and I felt a little bad about it (although I knew it was the right thing to do in their homes).  I felt validated and it was a freeing message that he sent to us today.

Above, a small collection of his fabrics that I picked up today.  I can't wait to use them.  I have some great ideas for using these gorgeous designs. The largest sample in the above collage is called Scrolling Art. I have plans to use this on two chairs.  I love how he isolates a motif so that you can use the fabric as a central design on a chair. 
It was great to connect up with other designers I have known for awhile and to meet some new and talented people as well.  I learned some great tips even after the seminar from other designers in attendance. We talked about getting together to network and to help each other. 

And besides all that...the seminar was catered and the lunch was fabulous!  You can't beat that. Everyone had a great time - so thanks Larry for your inspiration and Robert Allen Fabrics for hosting!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Happy Summer's Day: Some Butterfly Pics

Just wanted to post some pics of some Monarch Butterflies that were in my backyard.  They are my favorites. 

True to their name - this particular Butterfly loved the Butterfly Bush. But just a few minutes earlier, I was able to capture a younger Monarch Butterfly in another part of the garden - with my IPhone. This guy preferred the Coneflower.

Later in the season I will post some other Monarch Butterfly images - when they do their trek from Fire Island.  It's a sight to behold - seeing swarms of these beautiful creatures hovering over the Great South Bay.

Hope you enjoyed these.  If anyone has some Monarch Butterfly (or other) pics to share I would love to see them! 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Deck and Porch Decorating for the Fourth of July...and a Recipe

I'm two days late with this post, but I thought I'd show everyone how I decorated my front porch and back deck for the Fourth of July holiday.

The Front Porch

The main staple of the porch is always my antique church pew. It's from Connecticut, circa 1870s and supposedly once belonged to Skitch Henderson (so said the man who sold it to me - no real proof, but it's a good story). Skitch was the original conductor of the Tonight Show band before Doc Severinsen.  I added some colorful pillows and my favorite piggy bank that I bought many years ago on a trip to Maryland - on Assateague Island. I added some red, white and blue sunglasses for a touch of humor.

My granddaughter and I made some pinwheels in red, white and blue and placed them in a plant stand.  The little red chair, which I bought at the NY Gift Show in January, was a perfect perch for red and white striped petunias in a holiday pot. The red star was a $3 purchase that I painted in Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint - Emperor's Silk.  The antique red watering can I found at a garage sale several years ago and the planter was a gift from one of my best friends, Alex.

Here's the full view (sorry about my van and me showing up in the window!!) I purchased the buntings from Indepence Bunting and Flag - which is a great company (not a paid endorsement) and they carry many different decorations for all holidays.

The Back Deck

OK - yes those are red plastic plates!  So sue me!  I have a family that doesn't always help with the it's a time saver for me. Besides I had these red babies on hand - so it made perfect sense.  I found a great outdoor table runner at Home Goods ($7 - thank you very much) that has a velcroed (is that a word now?) opening for the umbrella hole.  For those of you who sew - this is an easy enough thing to do for your outdoor tables. 

It looks like my family had a great time! (Note that the sangria pitchers on the table are just about for the fruit!)

Even Cassidy - my daughter's dog!

Hope everyone had a great holiday!! In case you might be interested in the Sangria recipe I it is.  Combine all ingredients and let sit for an hour or two at room temperature to blend all the flavors. Chill and serve with ice.

  • Large bottle of Red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups of Orange Juice
  • 1 cup of Club Soda
  • 1/2 cup of Orange Liqueur (I used Patron's)
  • Cut up peaches, cherries and strawberries
  • Sugar, to taste 
I'm linking this up to:

Between Naps on the Porch; Designs by Gollum

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy 4th of July Tablescape

I have to admit that my family used to be lucky 1) if I served anything more ambitious than a hot dog on a bun and some salad on July 4th and 2) it was always served on paper plates (and they were lucky if the plates had some red, white and blue on them.  Plain old white ones were the norm). With single motherhood, energy and money had to be placed in other areas.

But since I've remarried and have a family gets to have better decorated holidays! I was always so busy decorating other people's homes - that mine suffered for quite awhile. So, I spent today decorating.  My granddaughter, Meghan, came over to help and my husband put up some stars and stripes buntings for me on the porch and did some other odds and ends things that helped me out a great deal.  A big thanks to both of them!

Meghan - with holiday specs and pinwheels we made

One of the toughest things for me this holiday was trying to find red, white and blue things.  I used to be a "blue" person back in the 80s, so I had a few next to none 'cause I sold most of them accessories that would go.  I've had the blue pitcher/vase since the mid 90s - I bought it in La Conner, Washington during the annual tulip festival. I never missed a festival while I lived in that state - it's a gorgeous vista that I could never get enough of.


I collect teapots - so I have a good supply of blue ones.  The rest of the items I had on hand because of my home staging business.  Placemats, plates, napkins, napkins rings etc - you need to have those items on hand at all times. The red plates were a bargain ($3 a piece at HomeGoods) - couldn't resist! The red mercury candle holders - were from Christmas...but the color was perfect!

I hope that everyone has a safe and happy, healthy Fourth of July!  I am hoping that the weather here on Long Island will hold up for a barbeque.  We're grilling chicken, salmon and corn on the cob.  Hope it won't have to be done with an umbrella over our heads!!

Have a great holiday!
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