Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Household Secrets From a French Grandmother

I begin a new weekly series today. It will appear every Tuesday or Wednesday, all depending on scheduling, traveling and etc. It's all about books. And perhaps some magazines, too. 

I admit it, I love the feel of a hard-back book (and here I am blogging, interestingly enough). If the truth be told, I have stacks of books; most of which still await my entry into their pages. Not only do most offer, I'm sure, a great read, they also provide warmth to any decor. Layer one on top of the other by a chair; they then become a small table. Stand them up or lay them down in your bookshelves. Arrange a small collection of them on your desk. Use them to elevate a favorite photograph or small lamp. How can you go wrong with an item that offers multiple purposes? In my next house, I must-must have a library! Preferably with fireplace....  If you know Joni over at Cote de Texas, I do like what's she's done at her home. She's turned her second-floor landing into a small library!  I may have to ask her for a photo to show you. Let me see is she'll offer one up.

This series, I hope and expect, will help me dive into my own stacks! And, as I do, you'll get to glimpse inside these home decorating titles -- instead of buying first and then hoping for the best. If you do want to purchase this book featured today or any others, consider clicking the Amazon link to the left. I get a dollar or something (smile) like that if you buy your books from here, from Love Where You Live. (And, considering the number of books I buy, every dollar helps! So, thanks in advance.)

First up is "A Well-Kept Home," Household Traditions and Simple Secrets from a French Grandmother -- by Laura Fronty and Yves Duronsoy.  When I looked it up on a couple of sites, I noticed it does get mixed reviews. Some question the advice within; others say it's a re-hash of another book authored by Fronty. And, some like it, as I do. The photos initially drew me in. Soft, romantic, inspirational, homey . . . feel-good images, you know. I also liked the title and still do. Plus, I want to try some of the recommendations. And, when I do, I will share the results with you.

The authors dedicate the pages to two French grandmothers. And the contents address tips and old-found wisdom on food, home, the linen cupboard, gardening and refined toiletries.

"To preserve lemons, put them in a bowl and cover them with fresh water, which should be changed regularly. This method, used in Morocco, makes the fruits juicier." Another tip: Roll the lemons under your hand to get more juice from them.

"To fit a candle in a chandelier whose openings are narrow, simply soften the wax by dipping the candle in hot water for a few seconds.  More candle advice: Slip an old stocking on your hand and gently rub their surface to restore their beauty should they become dusty or slightly damaged. 

"Do not throw away your soap leftovers; grate them and use the flakes to make a new soap that you can perfume and color, according to your taste." (Then, they provide an "old-fashioned soap" recipe.)

If you have an opinion about the book, please share it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

CALLING ALL ARTISTS!!! And friends, if you know an artist, pass this along. I Have a Proposition for You/Them.

I have a friend who occasionally pauses when telling a lengthy story to add a somewhat-related (parenthetical) statement. She shares the offshoot thought and then resumes her original tale. Well, that's what I'm going to do today. 

THIS ONE is for all artists -- and people who know artists.

As some of you may know, I have a store called The Green Plum, which I've decided to close. At first, I was a bit sad, but I'm now really excited! We are going to open an online shop. Part of what we're building is an artists' co-op section. And here's the scoop on that:

  • For a small one-time development fee (seriously, it's a no-lose deal!), we will build a page for you to showcase and sell your original, hand-made wares. 

  • We will supply the transaction options. A typical percentage of sales will be extracted to cover costs and promotions. (If there are no sales via your page for the month, then there is no cost.)

  • Participating artists will be responsible for supplying photos -- of the merchandise and themselves. 

Even if you already maintain a Web site or page yourself, the more cross links you have, the better online visibility you receive.  I would be happy to give you more information and details . . . just email me at susan@thegreenplum.com

My new orange luggage!  Now that we're closing the brick and mortar shop, I'm more free to go. And go I plan to do. San Miguel, Mexico, is in our near future. AND, I hope to tour some great homes while there to show you. So, stay tuned.

I look forward to unveiling to you-all our new online shop! Sometime in the next few weeks! thanks -s

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Overstock Offers Love Where You Live Readers a Special Discount . . . Come and Get It!

Overstock is a one-stop online shop, where you can get anything and everything from small to large. Shoes. Bedding -- and even beds. Also, cookware. Pet supplies. Vacuum cleaners. And, furniture. One of the best things about them is they promise a shipping charge of no more than $2.95 on all orders.  How many times have I backed away because shipping charges topped my purchase cost?!  Well, today's offer by Overstock really got my attention!  They are offering my readers and visitors 10 percent off on any purchase. Cool, huh?! 

So, let's get shopping! (Those cool days are just ahead . . . and let's not forget the holidays!) The discount code you'll need to type in at the time of checkout is:  121728

Even though my blog focuses on home decor, I do like shoes. AND, Overstock is indeed stocked with some nice selections. These caught my eye:
They're at Overstock shoes.  These Gelato wedge suede boots, priced at $71.99 -- minus 10% -- of course. These guys got a 4.5 rating from 57 buyers.

Or, how about these:

These slouch boots cost only $31.99, minus 10%.  More than 400 buyers give them a 4.4 rating.
Again, at Overstock shoes.

Need to light up your room? Check out Overstock lighting! This one caught my eye:

This lamp is made of recycled glass bound together by bailing wire. Its cost: $59.99 minus 10%. 

I also love the look of these blankets. And, according to those who bought them, they say they're both lightweight and warm! Take a look:

Made from Australian Merino lambswool, these blankets cost $126.99 minus, again, the 10%. This selection and more at Overstock Bedding.

Happy Shopping!

(All the ideas and opinions expressed are my own. No monetary compensation was received for doing this post, however, I was provided with a discount code.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Big Color Personalizes a Rented Seaside Hideaway

Who would guess what resides above this bicycle rental shop:

On Galveston's Seawall, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

As it turns out, it's  a small little place that's big on color:

And sparkling style:

But that wasn't always the case. The young decorator who rented this space as a weekend getaway had no choice but to work with some of the owner's choices, such as the bold green-blue shiny Formica on the bar countertop:

He chose not to compete but to complement. He used paint to transform the white walls and downplay the brownish tile floors and strong Formica color, which previously took center state.  That kept his expenses, as a frugal-minded renter, in check as well.  In fact, he chose strong environmental colors (i.e. inspired by the ocean and stunning sunsets) to help create an inviting atmosphere throughout the second-floor apartment. 

The decorator did get the owner to install these lighted shadowboxes on one of the walls:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

DECORATING TIPS -- Welcome In Autumn ... And Dress Up Your Bath

One week from today, we officially say goodbye to summer. And as we do, Andrea Evans, owner of In the Pink Boutique, advises we borrow from Mother Nature's own new wardrobe of rich Autumn colors -- the deep reds, warm browns, vibrant purples, golden yellows and  the spicy oranges -- when buying accessories to cozy up our homes this season.

Our wing back chair, dressed in a Ralph Lauren wool tartan fabric, conveys warmth -- a welcome comfort later on when the temps drop in the Colorado mountains.  Can you envision perhaps draping a soft tartan over a neutral sofa?

Andrea suggests swapping out our usual throw pillows, soft blankets, area rugs, linens,  placemats and other "smalls" with similar items reflecting a more seasonal palette. It's fun, easy and inexpensive.

And, "don't forget the candles," says Andrea. One great option -- and you could get the kids involved with this crafty idea -- is to turn your fruits and vegetables into candle holders.

I took Andrea's suggestion to turn my apples into taper holders. You could also use veggies. Make sure they sit evenly. I used 5-inch tapers, thinking the taller ones might be too heavy and cause my fruit to topple.


Top Tips to Give Your Bathroom a Facelift on a Budget

Bath Fitter says it's easy to get a stylish bathroom without spending a luxurious amount.

1.)  Deep Clean -- Start off your bathroom project with a nice deep clean, and sort the things that you need and throw away the stuff that you don't use. You can find great clear plastic boxes, bins, drawer dividers and clear cosmetic bags to get things out of sight.  For the items remaining visible, place them in nice decorative storage containers.

2.)  Paint or Wallpaper -- Add a little color to your space with a nice bright 
semi-gloss paint made just for bathrooms and kitchens. The semi-gloss -- and high-gloss -- paints are easy to clean and prevent mold and mildew resistant. Wallpaper can be challenging since the moisture and humidity in the bathroom might cause the wallpaper to peel off.  So . . . wallpaper just one wall to add an extra punch!

3.)  Use Color! –- Don’t be afraid to experiment with color!  Try neutral colors for warmth, or go bold with a brighter hue.  You also can repaint the cabinets for an updated look.

4.)  Replace the Bathtub/Shower –- Instead of removing your bathtub, which can 
damage flooring, walls and plumbing -- and puts your bathroom out of service for 
days, get an acrylic bathtub or tub liner installed over the old tub.  Companies 
like Bath Fitter (http://www.bathfitter.com) can do this in just a few hours and for a fraction of the cost of a new one.

5.)  Install New Countertops –- Granite is very popular now, and you can sometimes find smaller cuts of granite that are less expensive.  Porcelain marble –- even imitation porcelain marble -- is a less expensive alternative and gives your bathroom a beautiful sparkle. 

6.)  Update the Fixtures –- Update those old gold fixtures (don’t forget the door knob!) with nickel, pewter or stainless steel fixtures for a modern look. 

7.)  Replace Linens –- Old faded and stained towels give your bathroom a drab 
look.  Invest in some fluffy, bright towels to match your color scheme.

8.)  Accessorize -- Throw rugs, shower curtains, bath mats, soap dishes and pictures are easy and low cost add-ons for any bathroom.  

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Venezuelan Lawyer Steps Into a New Lifestyle. Meet Maria Brito. And Come Tour Her Fabulous New York City Apartment.

She's a Harvard grad. A former corporate lawyer. A world traveler. And a mother . . . . who  also happens to be the wife of a Brazilian wine aficionado. She is Maria Brito. This stylish New Yorker is poised and ready to greet new opportunities through a newly formed business dubbed Lifestyling by Maria Gabriela Brito.  Her talents and desires, expressed so nicely in her own New York City apartment, which you'll see below, undoubtedly will continue to open doors into the homes of others who wish to live fully, truly and richly. 

Maria has sent along some additional photos of the apartment she recently completed for her own family. She also graciously shares some tips with us all.

Three of Maria's tips on how to make your own home or apartment fabulous or enriched:
1. Invest in good art.
2. Mix and match high- and low-end pieces. Shop flea markets and thrift shops. And then make those pieces your own. Nothing says "chic" more than when you breathe new life into an old piece, either by painting it, lacquering it, or reupholstering it.
3. Use splashes of bold colors, such as red and orange, against a more neutral background of beige, brown or white. Use bold wallpaper as a surprise element.

"My place is international and reflects my love of travel, and the places that I love, such as Paris, Cape Town, London and, of course, the best of all: New York City, which I’m so grateful to call home.  There is also the element of having a comfortable house without losing the originality and the interesting art and furniture we have.  So basically the living room and entryway have much more elaborate accessories and furniture while the bedrooms and the TV Room/Playroom are still chic but with furnished with pieces that are more durable and resilient."

"Collecting art is an addiction, and it really permeates in everything that I do and in all of my projects! Obviously our place needed to reflect who we are and what we have done in our lives but the art collection takes a major focus, and I wanted to make sure it gets highlighted."

"I think besides all the art, our wine cellar is a big “wow” factor.  We are also big wine collectors, and I love building cellars for others too. Each is so unique and so much fun." says Maria.

"The process in general was fun," she says of her own place.  "Every home is always a work in progress no matter how “done” it is.  However, to make the process fun, I believe the key (and I do this with my clients) is to make sure that one is really connected to one’s possessions.  In other words, the things that  surround us should offer meaning and importance.  I don’t say this only in a philosophical way; it could be that there’s an aesthetic connection you have with and to something -- or you have always been in love with pottery, for instance.  Or perhaps you find an artist with whom you're crazy about and it turns out that he shares so many common things with you etc.  Nowadays people get really overwhelmed by trends and things they ultimately don’t really love.  That’s exactly the opposite of what I want to convey with my interiors."

 Maria's blog: www.mariabrito.blogspot.com

All photos by David Lewis Taylor.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Coming This Week! Hey, Look, I've Got Someone's Attention . . .

Yes, this little guy below -- to the right with the white dividing stripe running down his back -- seems most interested in the carload of people eyeing him. He and his fellow Longhorn buddies belong to my neighbor. While I perhaps have your attention as well, let me tell you what's up.

Just outside Salida, located in central Colorado. He's cute, huh?! My parents and I were cruising into town when we had to stop and say hello to these guys.

It's been a busy week. I still need to put a few pressing things to bed. However, I'd  like to tease you a bit with the topics on tap for this blog -- coming this week and next. 

I don't know which will come first, but please stay tuned for: Tips for Decorating (for fall) and on quick facelifts (for bathrooms). Also, I plan to introduce you to a hip new lawyer-turned-decorator . . . and . . . homespun advice from a French grandmother

My parents at the Continental Divide. They spent a week with us.

Hey, come back . . . .

See ya back here in the next day or so!

Friday, September 3, 2010

NOT Your Typical House Remodel. Found Items Become Construction Materials.

Found items -- license plates, oddly shaped rocks, tree limbs and even an old car hood -- find their way into the design of a small remodeled home in Salida, Colorado. While cozy at 975 square feet, it's big on artistic charm -- and it can be yours for $297,000:

Looks like the hood of an old truck offers protection at the front door.

The front courtyard and view to left side of front door.
Interesting timing for this post, I must admit. The Today Show (here's the clip) this morning rhetorically posed the question on whether McMansions are a past indulgence. A real estate expert chimed in to say more people now want to brag about how small their homes are as opposed to wanting to show off 7,000-plus square feet. What's your opinion?

Steve and Kathy, who are planning another "unique remodel," say the home they currently live in and that they've recently placed on the market is "anything but normal." They wanted small, efficient (from cleaning requirements to low utility bills) and a home loaded with character, both inside and out. This is a lovingly restored older home. It features a deep-soaking Japanese ofuro-style tub, in-floor heating and lots of unique detailing (as you will see):

A suspended piece of old wood is now an inside "window seat."  The sliding barn-style door to the left opens up into a guest room.

See the old lockers inside the closet for storage?

Note the rock wedged into the corner to hold soap. 
A look at the dining area and kitchen (the countertops are quartz, and the floors are Saltillo tile in the main living area; bamboo in kitchen):

Cabinets made by Rock Mountain Cabinets in Salida.

A look in the master:

If you'd like to see more photos or receive more information about this house, visit Steve and Kathy's Web site (www.freshzoes.com). By the way, they used the license plates as light switch covers.

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