Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 640's question

What do you think of this rug? I spotted it at HomeGoods over the weekend and am mulling it over for our bedroom. It's a little hard to tell in the top picture, but it's actually hooked wool, which I like. We don't have much color or pattern in there, so I think this will wake it up a little. It's also the perfect size (3.5 by 6.5) for the only spot where an off-the-shelf rug will fit and the price is hard to beat ($80).

I struggle with rugs! I think I'm a little scared of them, actually, which is why the only one in the house is very, very safe -- braided seagrass. So tell me the truth, is it totally cheesy??

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 639: front yard progress

The weatherman was calling for torrential downpours and and dangerous thunderstorms on Saturday, and it's a good thing he was wrong, because this is what the back of our car looked like after an hour in Lowe's.

Spring 2009

And after several hours of fun with a shovel, this (above) is what the front of the house looks like. Let's review at bit, shall we?

Spring 2008

This is what the front of the house looked like about this time last year. Since then we:
  • pulled up the overgrown boxwoods

  • spent hours picking 1970s-style "landscape rocks" out of the beds (though we still found a bucket-full this weekend!)

  • removed the gas lantern (it didn't work) and an old tree stump underneath it (read about it here)

  • removed the iron storm door

  • painted the front door

  • reconfigured the porch lighting (read about it here)

  • In front of the porch, we planted 9 small pyramid holly bushes and 3 small white azaleas. We wanted this round of plantings to be neat, small and easily maintained, and to form an evergreen backdrop for annuals and perennials to be added with time. We planted in groups of three to lend a little order to the facade. Maybe now I won't notice that the "columns" aren't spaced evenly.

    I originally wanted boxwoods, but quickly realized that would either cost a small fortune, or leave us with plants so immature that we'd likely be looking at twigs for the rest of our time in the house. These holly cost about a third of what the boxwoods of the same size cost, so we got essentially the same look for a fraction of the price. We also saved about $45 by skipping the "name brand" 3-gallon azaleas and buying the off-brand versions that also happened to be on sale. Since Lowe's offers a 1-year warranty on all its plants, we didn't mind scrimping a little.

    We also planted two crepe myrtles between the porch and the office window, but that side still needs a little work before its Internet debut.

    We still need to get some pine straw to finish the beds, and as summer gets closer I'm hoping to put some annuals on either side of steps. We'll have a front porch fit for sittin' in no time!

    Friday, March 27, 2009

    Day 636's pretty

    Does your to-do list ever get so long that you just don't know where to start? That's how I feel about our list for the house today. I'd like to make the most of the weekend (and relaxing is good, too), but where to begin? Sheesh.

    Happy Weekend, anyway!

    Thursday, March 26, 2009

    Day 635's good read

    While we're on the subject of old and new neighborhoods and houses, let's talk about this article by Richard Thomas, found today on gus & other things. It talks about the shift from a style of homes with prominent front porches to that which we see more often today, where the primary outdoor space is in a more private location on the back of the house. Of course, there were social and economic reasons for the change, which Thomas is much more adept at describing than I.

    I took a class my senior year at Auburn called Landscape and Culture, which discussed the impact cultural issues (war, famine, prosperity, etc.) have on art and architecture. I found it so fascinating that I almost changing my life's plan and applied to a Master's program on historic preservation at Savannah College of Art & Design.

    Instead, I came to Birmingham and bought a house with a front porch that seems like a totally gratuitous move just to keep me out of the rain while walking from my car to the front door. I would love a nice, deep front porch, of course, complete with a swing for sittin' and lemonade for sippin.' How about you? Are you a front porch kind of gal (or guy), or do you prefer the privacy of a back patio or deck?

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    Day 634's inspiring kitchen

    I really like this kitchen, featured in a recent issue of Southern Accents. The homeowners, Michael and Alison Brewer, offer ten tips for remodeling in the article.

    Exposed shelving sure is pretty. But how practical is it, really? The contents of our cabinets would have to be, ahem, rearranged if they were to be left open, but I'm not opposed to doing a little cleaning out (do we really need 25 plastic cups emblazoned with logos from assorted sandwich shops and sporting venues?).

    I definitely like to see the upper and lower cabinets painted different colors, and I think the reign of the stark white kitchen might be coming to an end in favor of something a little warmer. What do you think? Still love it, or kind of over it?

    I think I've said this before, but I'm having a moment with dark window sashes and doors. Might be taking a paint brush to some of ours soon!

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    Day 633: neighborhood love

    I've talked before about my love for new old houses and for Beaufort, South Carolina. The two have merged in the form of a New Urbanism community (think Seaside, Florida) in Beaufort called Habersham. The homes have the charm of the historic district, without the unpredictable plumbing and sagging floors.

    But moreso than the homes, the plan for the community is what really makes Habersham (and others like it) stand out from the crowd of new developments. The goal was to "create a place built for the human scale," where people can live and work in one place. A place "of sustainable character and charm, a place that protects the present while preserving the values for future generations to come." I've been thinking a lot about this kind of lifestyle lately, and how much different it is than mine.

    This led, naturally, to entirely too much time spent browsing the real estate listings in the area. Here are two of my favorites.

    16 West Manor is listed at $999,000, so not exactly within our (fictional!) price range.

    I actually really like the way this house is furnished, though it looks kind of unfinished. Then again, maybe it's just been cleared out in preparation for sale.

    The kitchen is simple, with antique rugs on the floor and industrial-style bar stools.

    The living room is pretty, but could use a bigger rug! The architectural details are appropriately subdued and I love that the trim is the same as the wall color. I'm kind of over white trim; it's very harsh.

    Antique furniture looks right at home, and I love the wicker basket used as a table.

    Love that lamps! And it looks like Dwell bedding.

    The master bedroom is soothing and neutral. How luxurious to have a fireplace in the bedroom!

    It's a little hard to tell what's on the floor in here. Any guesses? I love this bed, too. It looks like the one that Granny Smith Green spotted at Blackberry Farm. Anyone know who makes it?

    I also love 12 South Eastover for its farmhouse-like charm. "The Joseph" has details that "recall building traditions of the past, with its board and batten siding and steep pitch roof." This one is definitely going into the "for building/extensive remodeling" inspiration folder.

    Gorgeous porches! This one opens to the living and dining rooms.

    Simple, light-filled kitchen. Some of the houses have unfortunately been outfitted with some tragic-looking tile, but not this one. Mexican ceramic tile has no place in a low country cottage!

    Here are the doors to the porch, the view is looking back toward the dining space and into the kitchen.

    Lovely stairwell. I love the tall baseboards and the simple molding.

    And a bath tiled appropriately, I think. Again, love the molding around the doors. When can I move in?

    Images courtesy of Habersham Land Company.

    Oh, I almost forgot! Southern Living and MyHomeIdeas are giving away a house in Habersham. Well, maybe. The winner gets to choose among four houses, one of them being in Habersham. Click here to vote on your favorite and enter for a chance to win.

    Monday, March 23, 2009

    Day 632: spring table updates

    I had a little fun this weekend updating some of the tables in our house (and very inexpensively, I might add). This is one of the end tables in our bedroom. I bought them both for about $25 at Bama Flea Mall about two years ago. One was bright peach and this one was bright yellow. I primed them with Kilz almost immediately, and they stayed like that for ... well, a long time while I was pretending to contemplate paint colors.

    I guess I'd finally had enough because I brought this guy out and put two coats of some leftover Grant Beige (which is on the walls in our living and dining rooms) on it and called it a day (I still need to do the other one). I decided I didn't want it to be bright and white, since the lamps are white with white shades, and I'm quite pleased with the result. The lamps were a birthday gift from Wes last year, and came from Tricia's Treasure's. I was lucky to find simple white shades at Wal-Mart that are a perfect fit.

    I also tracked down a little plant small (it's Chinese Sedum) enough for my milk glass urn (also picked up at BFM) and it looks happy and spring-like on top of an old copy of Wuthering Heights and a book about Charleston (where we honeymooned). The cute alarm clock is from Target that I picked up on major sale one fine day, and the little black heart-shaped box came home from China with a sweet friend of mine.

    In the dining room, I'm finally happy with what's happening on the blue chest (by the way, the color is Stratton Blue by Benjamin Moore). I moved the giant copy of Cabinet of Natural Curiosities to another room, which made the stack of books more manageable (and color coordinated). On top of it, I clipped a few little branches of dogwood blossoms from the tree in the yard.

    Still need a lampshade for my marble lamp, and I've just about exhausted all of the ready-made options here in town. I want to get it right, so a custom shade might be in order.

    I've been wanted to prop something behind the lamp, but just didn't know what. This is actually a page from the March issue of Martha Stewart Living, from a story on bird motifs. Since it's all silver and dishes, it makes perfect sense in the dining room and the colors work great, too. I just clipped it from the magazine and put it in an 8x10 frame from Target. My black Wedgwood pitcher picks up the black in the photos and on the spine of Frank Stitt's Southern Table.

    That little glass piece in the front was a birthday gift from my sister, and it's from a make-your-own snow globe kit from the 1960's -- she picked it up at a thrift store. It's so random, but I love it. Inside, I put a nest I saved after a family of birds lived in our petunia basket last summer, and three little eggs bought for 50 cents each at Leaf & Petal.

    Do we have anything in our house that didn't come from a thrift or antique store? Very little. Just how we like it!

    Friday, March 20, 2009

    Day 629: bedroom on the brain

    I'm trying to get things straight in my mind so I can get going on our guest bedroom. We have family coming to stay with us on the weekend of my sister's July wedding, so we have a firm deadline. I'm a journalist, I need deadlines. And how pretty is this bedroom (spotted here but from here)? Ah. The bed, the green chest, the Audubon-looking birds, the blue lampshade, and the print on that coverlet! I don't usually love white walls, but this is working for me. I'll take it all, thanks.

    Happy Weekend!

    Thursday, March 19, 2009

    Day 628: more garden shop fun

    I found more than oversized planters and boxwoods at Leaf & Petal. I love to stop in after work (especially when the weather is so nice) because they always have pretty plants to admire (like those orchids above) and fun little seasonal things, too.

    I went in search of a little fern for my new old milk glass urn, but all of these were just a little too big. Which is probably for the best -- I don't have the best record with small, fragile ferns. I bought a succulent instead.

    There is always a plethora of moss-covered things. I forced some paperwhites in a mossy pot in the fall, and I think the baskets would be so adorable on a table set for Easter brunch! We usually go out of town for Easter, or I would have snatched on myself (they're affordable, too -- about $6, I think).

    Pretty little hydrangeas. As much as I love cut flowers, these make great gifts for Mother's Day and such holidays. As long as mother has a place to plant it!

    And more fun Easter wares -- I love the moss bunnies and am still kicking myself for not buying the moss angels at Christmastime (apparently I have a thing for moss). Oh well.

    Still on the hunt for a pretty planter, I headed to K-Mart to check out Martha's outdoor living collection. Some pretty pots, but nothing really big enough for the porch.

    I did love this little red bench -- it reminded me of the one I spotted at Scott's in January.

    Also loved these hurricane lanterns, which reminded me of the terra cotta versions at The Product Gallery (but at $24.99, were more my speed). Might have to go pick one or two of these up. Can you tell I've got spring fever?!

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Day 627's inspiration from the blogosphere

    Now that spring seems to have settled in here in the Deep South (I spotted some Azaleas starting to bloom today!), I'm dying to get some of our outdoor spaces in order. The backyard is basically a blank slate, with about ten mature hardwoods and a (falling) retaining wall, so we're taking it pretty slowly and trying to do things as we can.

    We've also been working on our curb appeal, and when Joni of Cote de Texas posted this image (above) earlier in the week, I was in love. Don't worry, I'm not going repaint the door, but those square planters and boxwoods did catch my eye.

    A quick trip to a favorite local garden shop, and I found something that would fit the bill. Aren't these great? Too bad even the smallest size is much too large for our porch.

    Plenty of boxwoods, too. Some round and some shaped into neat little cones. By the way, I love how boxwood green looks with pale blues and grays -- it reminds me of this room.

    Is a project ever really done? It doesn't seem that way around here. Nathan of Laurel Street had a little fun with our front door, adding some trim to give it a little more presence (like he did with his cabinet doors). We were going to do this if we stripped and restained it, but it would look great painted, too.

    After my whining about the $100 price tag of the ring door knockers I found online, sweet Brittny of Design Champagne pointed me to Restoration Hardware's version -- at much a much more easily swallowed $35 each.

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    Day 626's aspiration

    Yesterday (thanks to this story from Country Living), I stumbled into The Product Gallery, a beautiful e-commerce site with new and vintage items for the table, home and garden. The collection and the photography is just stunning -- I had to share (hint: mouse over the menu card on the photo to see the collection -- it took me a while to get that!).

    The Product Gallery is the work of Lynn Butler Beling, a "freelance editorial consultant" whose work can be seen in Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, InStyle. She has personally edited and selected the collection and I think it is just lovely -- proof that the most everyday items can be beautiful. Have a look:

    Photos by Sang An, Styling by Lynn Butler Beling