The magical wonders of paint

I give up. I accept that I’ll likely never know why WordPress ate the photos in so many of my 2015 blog posts – but, pressing onward bravely, I’m going to share a house update!

Brown is my favorite color – really everything neutral and earthy is calming to me. Blue was my favorite in the 80s and and I must have overloaded, because my home and my wardrobe went earthy neutrals in the mid/late 90s and I’ve never looked back. 

Brown has been the dominant color in our house:


That said, I was super tired of e-v-e-r-y room in our house being brown. And bugged that in certain light, the brown looked green. (See photo above.) Every room’s color was on the same Sherwin Williams paint swatch – Kilim Beige, Hopsack, Steady Brown… This time, I wanted something a little more “fresh” that would tone down the orange of our maple cabinets in the kitchen, so no green.

Oh, you thought I was going to turn the world on it’s end? No, sweet friends. That would be cuckoo.  <wink>  I just wanted to throw in some greige. This “inspiration” color combo above is awesome, but my research (and testing) confirmed a hint of green in the Revere Pewter, so I went with it’s kissing cousin of colors – Sherwin Williams Colonnade Gray. You couldn’t tell them apart unless you are someone who is ridiculous enough to watch YouTube reviews from decorators discussing paint undertones. (And that would be me.) 

Colonnade Gray is actually gray and it’s a pretty saturated color – not really “greige” or “light” like say Benjamin Moore Edgecombe Gray. (My friend Dawn just painted her whole interior Edgecombe Gray and it is stunning!) Anyway, Colonnade Gray is  definitely a warm gray as you see in the kitchen photos below – but sometimes it skews tan depending on the lighting in the room and time of day – as you can see in our entry, above. 

We touched up the trim with Sherwin Williams Extra White and I’m super happy with that contrast!


I’ve got some black here and there in furniture, a little decor, frames, stair railings, etc. and I am liking how it all comes together so differently with the relatively simple change of our wall color. 

Up next, I’ll share some of my recent gardening exploits. 

Lessons learned from our summer garden…

 

I decided to capture my “lessons learned” from this summer so I can keep track of what is and isn’t working. Some things have been so easy to grow and others have been disasters!

LESSONS LEARNED

Here’s what I now know: Lantana is really easy to grow but it needs sunshine, rain and a lot of space to spread out. In the picture below, you’ll see the Lantana that I planted last Spring… So cute. So little. So unassuming.

May

May

In July, it was still a great little pop of color, but it kept on growing like Jack’s beanstalk!

Yikes.

Some of the Lantana branches grew from 2 inches long to 4 feet long! By August, it had completely covered the Hostas. Next Spring, I will plant Lantana in a sunny spot with plenty of room to grow!

Next up, I deduced that Hydrangeas need a lot of water. I’ve had three Hydrangeas under a Flowering Cherry tree for many years, but the tree is bigger and fuller now which blocks access to sun and rain.

They start out looking great in the Spring, but by mid-summer, they droop and need me to supplement with the hose.

Womp womp.

My failed attempt at a vegetable garden devolved into a real life Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! In the picture below, you’ll see our teeny tiny plants next to a big tomato cage…

By mid-summer, each plant was 5 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide. They grew together into this woven mess where tomatoes couldn’t get any sunlight and wouldn’t ripen. They all strangled each other in a dramatic, prolonged death scene and I finally had to haul the whole nest to the curb. I couldn’t even pull the cage loose from the vines!

Next year: one tomato cage per plant – and – in a new location with afternoon sun.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.jpg

Here’s what has been easy…

Sunflowers grow very fast and very tall.

They need a sunny spot and you cannot crowd them or they’ll create shade and kill themselves off. I had waaaaaaay too many crammed into this little spot.

Caladiums are happy in any shady spot. These were grown from bulbs I planted under a tree. I’ve always had success growing them in pots, too, as long as they’re shaded by a porch.

Everything in this picture above is easy – just plant it and walk away. I have never killed a Crepe Myrtle tree! And that is saying something, friends! Ditto for Red Bud trees. They are so resilient! All these shrubs are unkillable, too: the green one is called Cleyera and the purple ones are both varieties of Loropetalum. Down low is a ground cover called Purple Winter Creeper.

Monkey grass is [sadly] unkillable so I contend with it. #notphotoworthy

Here’s a close-up of another Loropetalum. I have several varieties and they all add such nice color!

Likewise, Nandina will grow everywhere I stick it in the yard and adds such nice color – evolving from green to orange or red. Some varieties are lime.

Hosta Lillies come back year after year whether in a pot or in the ground. They just want a shady spot. So easy and so pretty!

These are my favorites: Purple Coneflowers a.k.a. Echinacea. This variety is Kim’s Knee High (gotta love the name). They come back every year bigger and better than the year before! I may put a little cage around them next year for support and/or to keep kids and pets from tromping through them.

Gosh, I am in love with these flowers.

I have two spots in the yard that kill everything I plant there. Ever the optimist, I am going to try again next Spring and see what happens!

NEXT STEPS

My plans for the Spring = dig it all up and move it all around and hope that makes all the difference:

  • Move Huechera to the flowerbed that kills everything and wish it all the very best.
  • Move weary, sad Azaleas to the shady spot currently occupied by Heuchera. <insert despair + low expectations>
  • Backfill Azalea vacancy with Loropetalum.
  • Move Hydrangeas next to Bryan’s blueberries in the space shaded from afternoon sun by the Pear tree.
  • Plant a Crepe Myrtle in the spot that kills every tree ever. <success rate: 0 for 4>
  • Plant Sunflower seeds in the same spot as this year, just less of them.
  • Plant Lantana right behind the Firecracker Gladiolus and Asian Lillies to give that spot heft.
  • Consider adding a Crepe Myrtle by the tree fort and a Burning Bush next to the grill.

Thoughts on decorating your home…

So after last week’s archaeological find reaffirmed my long-standing love of brown, I refreshed the family room by “shopping within our home”. (Moving things around.) Really Bryan started it when he decided the crazy-print chair from our bedroom is comfy and wanted it to be “his” chair in the family room. It clashed with all the orange and blue I’d brought in here for Fall – but – as you know, I only do “colors” on things like throw pillows that are really easy to swap out.

This chair is the exception in a house full of solid colors. It’s not Bryan’s style, but he’s a pragmatist who just wants to sit someplace to watch football on TV. (The sofa sits low so it’s hard for him to get up/down.)

You can see in these pictures how similar our home is to the inspiration scrapbook I put together in the 90s. Pulling together pictures helped me realize what was off-kilter in my first little apartment in Dallas so I could refine over time. I use Pinterest the same way today.

My philosophy on decorating is that your home should be very “you” or “y’all” stylistically while at the same time being functional, comfortable and durable so you can really live in it. I grew up with these kids who weren’t allowed in their pristine white ultra-modern living room or dining room. What’s the point of a picture perfect space your family can’t use?!? <insert eye roll here>

My philosophy on budgeting is to invest in furniture that you’ll keep forever and spend very little on decor that you’ll change out over the years. Our living room and dining room were empty for many years while we saved up – no regrets.

Most of our decor is from Target (baskets, lamps, candles), Hobby Lobby (pillow covers, seasonal items) or Ballard Designs (monogrammed pillows, curtains, lamp shades, rugs). I don’t comb the earth for this stuff, although I will if I ever win the lottery and have all that free time. 🙂

This is where I am sitting right now!!!

There are so many amazing home bloggers out there, but a few have really captured my eye with their style. My friend Joslyn’s home tour on Simple Lovely is simply lovely. She is insanely creative. I’m a big fan, too, of House Tweaking‘s clean, modern style – and I’m oddly drawn into the weird/creative combinations from Little Green Notebook. Also, the home tour for Chris Loves Julia is an amazing testament to the magical powers of renovating.

I’m curious, what influences your style?

Upcycled Planters + Wilson

I’ve added two new plants that I have to show you… Both are planted in “pots” that didn’t begin life as a flowerpot.

We got this coffee crock as a wedding gift and somewhere along the way we broke the lid. I have used it as a flowerpot for years.

I took clippings from the huge Philodendron in my office to create this “new” plant. Philodendron are pretty easy to propagate: just clip the vine, tuck the stem into the dirt, and add a lot of water! They’re easy to grow, too – happy with anything from indirect sunshine to a fluorescent light!

OK, now brace yourself for the cutest plant and pot ever…

Isn’t this little guy adorable?!? He used to be a plug-in scented wax warmer… but this summer, I knocked him over and broke the top. He was too cute to throw away, so I removed the electrical cord and used him as a container for drinking straws before deciding the right plant might look like feather plumes… and a star was born.

He reminds me of Wilson-the-volleyball from the movie Cast Away. Forget Gone with the Wind and Terms of Endearment, I sobbed when Wilson floated off to sea… like for-real gasping, ugly crying! Wiiiilllsooooooooon! Gosh, that movie was good. Anyway, I think I’ll call this guy Wilson-the-owl. Wilson will probably live on the kitchen table because he doesn’t need much light.

Let’s say it’s Fall…

I am ready to call it: The temps have been low enough to open windows and bring in fresh air – and football season is underway – so it must be Fall. Last night, I did a quick swap of our decor…

The wreath I made a few years ago is back on the front door. I still love it!

Freddie says, “Come on in!”

I always have an arrangement on the dining table and love pulling out these orange berries every year. Our runner is way too short so I turned it sideways.

The blue pumpkin is back!

This is “my” chair – I think. Bryan has decided he likes it and Freddie has, too! I’m sitting in this chair as I type… I love that we have been able to open the windows at night and curl up with a cozy throw.

I  love brown and gold so much. ❤ They go well with every Fall color.

I already showed you my new throw pillows/covers. I’m excited about football season this year – maybe because I am coaching and looking for strategies? Ha! (Kidding!)

Freddie got a new throw in navy and orange to match our pillows. I watch those Febreeze commercials about being “nose blind” to your pets’ odors and sigh wistfully. Freddie is a stinky dog! But we love him.

I pulled out this little flower arrangement that Bryan’s mom gave us as newlyweds.

I’ve always believed a house is not a home until you add plants. I have six in the family room.

That’s it for our Fall home tour. 🙂

“No pillow is as soft as a clear conscience.” – French Proverb

I was on the phone with my über-organized friend Kristina today who said my blog posts about getting organized are making her feel bad. Say, what? This woman lived across the street from me for three years. She knows about the laundry room. She knows about the caveat on my blog!

“Kristina, you know I’m not taking pictures of the messes around here!” I said.

“Well you should! We will all feel better!” was her reply – and since I love her so much, here are some pictures of the not at all organized parts of our house…

One of my children struggles to maintain the organizational systems I’ve implemented in her room, such as labeling the drawers so she knows where to put her clean clothes. This is our status quo. It’s fine, you know? Choose your battles?

I didn’t have time to photograph her room a couple weeks ago when we made it look so nice – which only took 3 days! I am not kidding – if I can see carpet, we are in pretty good shape.

I have another child whose room is always neat and tidy with the glaring exception of a pile of debris in his closet. He is like me – it doesn’t bother him unless he has to look at it. (See further examples below…)

I got the Christmas decorations boxed up in time for New Years (yay) and then left the containers in the living room until this summer when I finally shoved them in the closet under the stairs. They’re too heavy to lug up to the attic by myself and when people were here visiting I’d forget to ask for help! Anyway, the kids climb in this closet playing hide-and-seek, so now the Christmas stuff is knocked over and spilling out into the camping supplies.

I have lost 0 minutes of sleep over the Christmas decor situation.

This is the shelf in the big armoire in my office where I shove things I want to keep but don’t actually use, such as my desk calendars from the past 15+ years…

This is a great example of my working theory that the house is clean when the parts you see look nice. I just don’t open this cabinet. I open the cabinet to the left which has cute baskets of neatly organized office supplies and stationary. 🙂

This is my laundry room… looking awesome! Cleaning supplies mostly in a bin! Floor mostly clear! Door opens freely! No conspicuous trip-hazards!

This is real life, people. When in doubt, assume we got nothin’ but real life happening at our house. ❤

Now, may I please go back to taking pretty pictures? These are gross.

Closet Makeover Reveal!

You may recall that my resolution for 2015 was to GET ORGANIZED. One of the first projects I tackled in January was our master closets, but then a pipe burst in the bathroom wall in May and we spent 8 weeks getting everything repaired. 😦

So, closet - beforeI am finally ready to reveal our closet makeover!

First, I will remind you what it looked like before… I had a wire closet system and I was using plastic shoe racks which regularly fell over. I had wall hooks for necklaces and hung my bags on hangers. Scarves were tucked in a basket. It was ok – not great.

The goal was to make it more functional and better looking. I wanted a mirror to check out my outfits from head to toe and a better storage solution for shoes and bags.

Everything in my closet is clothing I really do wear. Doing an annual purge means I don’t need tons of hanging space.

I group my clothing by type and by color to make it easier to put together an outfit in the morning. Since I am not a professional blogger (just a professional mom) I didn’t stop to make the hangers evenly spaced and photo-ready! Ha!

All my bags are on big brass hooks so I can see them.

I asked Alfonso to make the shelves deep enough for my ladies size 12 shoes! He included space for more boots than I own – I should have been specific about the spacing, but no biggie. I have 20 pair of shoes on the shelves and my flip-flops and tennis shoes are in a big basket. The two shelves you don’t see are my high heels.

I found a mirror at TJMaxx so I can see my whole outfit. #awkwardselfie

The bird hooks are from Hobby Lobby (spray painted gold, of course) and the vintage brass hooks are an estate sale find.

The shelves have space for baskets (socks, underwear, scarves) and this glass bowl where I keep my jewelry. I wear costume jewelry so it’s fine to dump it in a bowl.

The up-side to that pipe bursting in the bathroom is that we decided to replace the wet carpet with hardwood floors in our bedroom!

I have been an organizing fool this summer… There’s more to come! Both kids’ rooms are de-cluttered, newly organized and slightly redecorated just in time for school to start next week!!! 🙂

Quick Refresh

Now, my love of brown and wood and leather and baskets is an enduring love but my favorite color changes – a lot. Thankfully, I don’t feel like I have to redecorate every few months… I can just swap out the covers on my throw pillows.

Lately, I’m in love with white. It’s so fresh. And you know I love owls… So…


I spotted these pillow covers at Hobby Lobby on sale for $5 and $8 each. How crazy is that?!? Check out the quality…

  

Love.

I think they’re definitely sending out a fresh, happy, easy – and perhaps wise – vibe. Ha!! Whatever… I like them. I used some down inserts I’ve had for a long time.


My buddy approves.

This month in the yard: July

It’s prime summer time, folks! June was rainy, rainy, rainy and yet sunny, so everything is thriving! (Except my poor burning bush, but it will make it.) Let’s take a tour, shall we?

First of all, and this is important, I read recently that Ferns are the Fiddle Leaf Figs of 2015. 🙂

Ta da!
#fernisthenewblack

I got my first Canna Lilly bloom! I planted 5-6 Cana Lillies from bulbs in April – some in pots and some in beds. This one is in a pot is the biggest, which surprises me.

My sunflowers have exploded! I had forgotten how much FUN they are to grow! They grow so fast and so big and so effortlessly!!! Get some. Seriously.

As much as I have always loved this combo, it’s just too much in one spot. Next Spring, I am moving these Hosta Lillies someplace less crowded.

The Firecracker Gladiolus are just about to pop! I grew them from bulbs so this is pretty exciting. And yes, there’s dirt under my fingernail in this photo. <sigh> It’s an occupational hazard.

The Hosta Lillies are all blooming.

I planted Caladiums from bulbs and they are finally popping up. I put some in a pot on the side porch and some in a flowerbed by the driveway.

My Hydrangeas are huge – but they will not bloom! I have a theory that it’s because I haven’t cut them back in a couple years – I read that they will grow larger if you don’t cut them back. Next year: chop! We’ll see what happens.

So, just to clarify, I am completely in love with my Purple Coneflowers. ❤

Coneflowers are mounding perennials which means they will spread out from year to year. Photos like this really make me appreciate the colorful gardens I see in Southern Living. My coneflowers have a lot of work to do!

Here’s another Canna Lilly that emerged from a bulb. I am done with bulbs – they require way too much patience!

The last of my little purple Day Lillies…

Claire is demonstrating how soft and lush the lawn is right now from all the rain and sun this summer…

 That’s it folks!