Friday, October 30, 2009

Family Room Redo

This summer, my daughter experienced a road trip to Maryland from Maine. Just because I am the mom and the fact that my daughter had never driven further than Boston....I really couldn't relax the whole week my daughter was away. So of course that meant I needed a project to keep my mind from worry. The family room had been the first room done when we moved into the house in 1993, it was time for a change. I wish I had the before pictures of the room, but think green and harvest gold stripped wallpaper, heavy wooden cornices over the windows, heavy drapes, and dark harvest gold paint on all the woodwork. My house was built in 1853 and the first owner, a judge, had used the room as a study. That is where I took my decorating cue from, making it again look like a "studious" study. The floor to ceiling shelves were laden with books, antiques, my pottery collection....way too much stuff. I decided for a complete change, the paper came off, walls and ceiling were patched and painted as was the woodwork. If that wasn't change enough, the shelves got decluttered and replaced with some new fun collectibles. Here is a look at how it turned out.

Ilove the lamps. The one on the Eastlake piece is from the 50's. It was so dingy when I found it, I didn't even know it was cream color. The lampshade is a .50 cent lawnsale find. The other lamp, an early 50's find, is a table and lamp combo that makes a perfect end table. I got that at a church sale for $8.00. Actually, the whole room was done in less than a week and for real cheap. The ceiling paint was a simple flat paint, cheaper than ceiling paint, the wall paint was an "oops" paint from the local hardware store, the woodwork paint I already had. The drapes I made from a $1.00 a yard fabric.....I couldn't have bought 4 pre-made 93 inch panels for any less. The large pillow was also $1.00 a yard fabric and the trim was a total of .75 cents. It matched perfectly. The little pillow was actually covered in a different fabric and when I went to redo, got a nice suprise that the original pillow underneath (a lawnsale find for .50 cents) was already a perfect match. I just added some of the trim to make it coordinate even more.

The room went from a dark, heavy, and over stuffed room to light, bright, clean and crisp. The first thing my daughter asked when she returned home....."didn't sleep much did you mom."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I love church rummage sales

I love church rummage sales, and the one last weekend lived up to all expectations. Let's just say that I am a regular customer at their annual Fall & Spring Sales. I got lots of treasures, dishes, linens, lamps, wooden hangers, and lots of glassware. A pair of victorian women salt and pepper shakers that I bought for $.10 cents I sold within the hour of purchasing them for $5.00 and a charming 1960's Red Wing bulb planter that I bought for a quarter I have already sold for $5.00. I could have sold them for more on e-bay but they were purchased by friends. I felt a little quilty about that, because I paid so little, but they both assured me that they were pleased with thier purchase amounts as they knew what these items could really have sold for on-line. Many times I have brought an item of value to the woman directing the church sale to advise her that the displayed price was far too low and what they should be charging, urging her to reprice.....and she does....and it sells. The church wants to raise money but is also afraid to be stuck with a lot of stuff to dispose of after the sale, if things haven't sold. So I guess in the end it is a good day for both the church and customer.

In an earlier post, I showed what dishes I am putting together for my Thanksgiving amber glass theme this year. I scored on amber glassware at the church sale. I got 12 little glasses for ten cents each, a pair of amber glass salt and pepper shakers from the 70's also for a dime, a chip and dip bowl for $1.00 and 2 large glass bowls for a quarter each. I also found a couple of candles that will match as well as two amber glass candle garland rings. I can't wait to show you what my finished table will look like with all my finds....a whole new table design for under $20.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Time to set the table

I have too many dishes. Of course I can justify this by saying they are for my catering business but that is not the real reason. I am a plate junkie. I will be at a lawn sale and see a color or design that I just have to have. The price is good, usually under $1.00. It doesn't matter that I have nothing to match it........for the moment. I probably have a combination of dishes to equal a dozen sets, each set being a service for at least 12, some less, some substantially more. My set of Fire King "Jadeite" dishes easily serves 30 or more and who doesn't love Fire King. When I first started collecting this particular pattern, the pieces were inexpensive. However, after they were showcased in "Martha Stewart Living" as her collection of choice, the prices skyrocketed. Here are some photos of a small sampling of my dishes. I love the color turquoise and it goes so well in my retro kitchen with red vinyl chairs. I can take the turquoise pieces and mix them with the turquoise and cream pieces, and/or the cream with turquoise/tan design or mix them with yellow for a fun spring look. I love the glass serving piece that mixes the turquoise and yellow colors. The futuristic plates were a happy find. I bought a set of six plates and matching bowls at a lawn sale years ago. Earlier this year, I found another 8 plates, bowls and 11 salad plates of the same exact design! That is how my plate collections are built, a serendipitous piece here and there. By the way, my "Sputnik" plates as I call them, are so much fun to use when we do a "50's" night supper of tuna casserole complete with the crumbled potato chips on top.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mix and Match is more fun.

I know that we haven't even celebrated Halloween yet, but since I no longer have a little one to plan a costume for or treats to make, when the autumn leaves start to fall, my mind goes straight to thoughts of Thanksgiving . Years ago, when my mom moved to a small apartment, the task of hosting the family Thanksgiving Dinner was passed on to me. At first I felt intimidated, not about the food, I knew even before my catering business that I could cook for a crowd. I was worried about my dishes. Unlike my two sisters who had complete matching services for 12 (this included the salt & pepper, the butter dish and gravy boat, all identical pattern and boring), my loosely called "set" was made up of a variety of plates, cups and saucers, all pretty much lawn sale finds. There was an underlying theme of color and design but otherwise quite a mix. This however, allowed for me to put together a table for 15, unlike my sisters' sets limited to the 12 place settings.

As that first Thanksgiving Day approached, I was downright nervous that my guests would make comments, my mother perhaps worrying that maybe my financial situation prevented me from obtaining a proper set of china. She would have been partially correct in her assessment; however, the real reason was I could not stand everything being all "matchy matchy". It must be the artist rebel in me. Just when I thought I would give in and purchase a set of china, divine inspiration rescued me in the form of a PBS special on preparing a Thanksgiving dinner. The host of the special was the soon-to-be multi-media lifestyle mogul, Martha Stewart. I had never seen anything like her. She certainly wasn't Julia Child. I watched as she set her table with different patterns from the turkey shaped candy dishes that would be used for the first course of soup, the fall leaf pattern salad plates and the "flying turkey" design dinner plates. Her table looked amazing! As they say, a star was born when that show first aired and as for me, I learned an important lesson that day. Anyone can buy a matching set of dishes and instantaneously set a a complete table . However, my tablescapes are constantly evolving as new pieces are lovingly culled from lawn sale finds and thrift store surprises, and are a true expression of me, my creativity, my love of flea market finds and my sense of individuality that money just can't buy. When you sit at my table, you feel comfortable and welcomed. Needless to say my first Thanksgiving dinner was a resounding success thereby ensuring my hosting the dinner for the last 20 years. Each year has been a different theme and combination of plates, not to mention a new place card holder/guest favor. You may or may not be a fan of Martha Stewart, but she showed that it was acceptable and good decorating design to bring your own unique sense of style to the table.....and as she always says "It's a good thing".

This year I am going with an amber color theme. Here is a picture of what I have collected so far for the table design. The cake stand with its amber glass pedestal was a recent Goodwill find at $4.99, the glasses at $.29 each will be used as votive holders, the pair of candlesticks were a $1.00 lawn sale find and the bag of amber glass stones came from Wal-Mart. More pictures will be coming of my completed table decor. I look forward to showing you. By the way, the photo beneath my blog title is from last year's Thanksgiving. I painted pumpkins, gourds, oak leaves and acorns a cream color for the look I match the cream dishes. When my family arrived, they just chuckled and exclaimed "Oh Martha".

Monday, October 12, 2009

Long time in the making

For years friends and family have asked why I don't write a blog about decorating and party giving. I am always willing to share my ideas but never thought about writing them down. With a career change hopefully in the near future (leaving the corporate world), I decided it was time to put pen to paper.

My catering and special event planning business "A Matter of Taste" has always been a sideline to my corporate job, as an important creative release "safety valve". I now find that I enjoy that more and would like to bring those talents to the non-profit sector. At this time in my life, I would like to make a difference rather than just make money.

I grew up in a family of 6. Dad worked and mom stayed home to take care of the 4 kids. I didn't realize until I was a little older just how poor we had been. My mom was and still is an amazing seamstress. She would make us beautiful dresses and winter coats that would rival anything the department stores offered. My father was a skilled carpenter. I cherish the pieces he built for me....each lovingly handcrafted with a custom created stain, his own special formula. So it is no surprise that I grew up with needle and thread in one hand and hammer and nail in the other. I built my first set of shelves at age 10 and by 13, was sewing all my own clothes, often reconstructing hand-me-downs from my older sister and cousins for one-of-a-kind creations.

When it was time to go off to college, my aunt took me to a mill store where you could buy their fabric remnants by the pound. The factory made high -end bedding. For under $20 dollars I was able to make 2 complete sets of sheets and pillowcases, 2 twin size blankets and a comforter. My friends at the dorm could not believe that I had made them.

Over the years, I have made countless sets of curtains, pillows,, tablecloths and napkins, as well as reupholstered chairs. Honestly, I don't know how anyone can survive without knowing how to sew. This is what I would like to use my blog to share my decorating ideas, whether it is interior decorating, tree decorating or theme party share garden and landscape design tips as well as tips for your tablescape. I want to show that you don't need a lot of money just imagination. I hope that you will join me.