Archive for the ‘Make It’ Category

Color Palette Web Tool

When choosing paint and fabric for my home, I’m often inspired by fashion — the way textures and colors play off of each other in a terrific outfit. Using an ivory cashmere cowl neck, skinny camel wool pants, chocolate suede boots and gold bangles as a starting point will result in a room very different from, say, a classic Lilly cotton shift and lime green Jack Rogers. 

The next time you start a decorating project, snap a picture of your inspiration (whether it’s a Michael Kors ad or a Vermont farm) and check out the Color Palette Generator from BigHugeLabs — a freakin’ fabulous (and free) web tool that converts photos into color palettes.

An ensemble created by Mrs. O (one of my MOST favorite blogs) at Closet Couture

Mrs. O J. Crew Styling Contest

…turns into this palette!

Mrs. O palette

Cool, huh?

So tell me, when it come to decorating, are you most inspired by nature, fashion, homes or something else completely?


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Paper Plates = Art

Is anyone else totally inspired by the interiors of Anthropologie stores?  I’ve always favored their clothes and housewares, but even just walking into their retail locations is an experience.  I love that every store is different  — each location has its own interior stylist/visual artist, going way beyond the “merchandising” at regular retail that follows a prescribed map of where and how items should be laid out.  Without fail, I gather inspiration from the walls, ceiling, music, floors, etc. each time I visit Anthro.  Just check out the latest installation at the store in my ‘hood…

Anthro clouds 2

Cloud sculpture made out of paper plates…amazing!  Reminded me instantly of the brilliant paper plate chandelier that Nathan Thomas created for the dining room in his winning townhouse on Bravo’s Top Design

Nathan Thomas, Elle Decor

Both of these are definitely going on my Flattery Board (or Inspiration for Imitation Board)…

Image credits: Paige Lewin’s Blackberry, Elle Decor

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DIY Side Table

We’ve been needing a side table next our living room couch for a ridiculously long time, but it seems that every one I find that I love, is just a little too big, a little too shmancy, or a little out of our price range.  I was getting desperate, and in a creative fury went whipping around the house to find the makings of a side table that would hold our cocktails and appys (I mean, sippy cups and goldfish) until we were ready to commit the cash to something really fabulous.  Turns out, I like my DIY version better than most I’ve seen.

Wood tray from Target and a vintage plant stand…


plus a little Liquid Nails (love that stuff!)….


equals fabulous, architecturally-inspired side table!  I thought about painting it, but I’m kind of digging the two-tone wood look.


So tell me…have you ever taken something from your home and reinvented it?

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DIY Floor Covering

I think I’ve mentioned (more than once) that our house has hardwood floors throughout.  Beautiful, yes, but the “beauty of hardwoods” that everyone talks about loses its lustre about this time every year.  Since carpets and area rugs are pretty dang expensive, we get to experience our floors in all their ice-cold glory as soon as the thermometer dips below 40.  I started to get desperate, and although this isn’t a permanent fix, it’s a stylish and cheap way to cover a small area of your floor.


After digging out a fairly large nautical chart that I had sitting around in a closet (my original plan, three years ago, was to frame it until I discovered it would be about $500 to frame my $20 chart), I brought it to a local copy shop to have it laminated.  A couple of hours and $18 later, I had a new front hall floor covering that reminded me a bit of those handpainted canvas floorclothes that I had seen in showhouses and shelter publications.  Make sure to use a little sticky-tack around the edges when you place it on the floor, and you’re good to go.

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bookshelf cropI’ve been in love with built-in bookshelves for as long as I can remember.  Maybe it’s that they remind me of my childhood home, or maybe it’s just that I knew from early on, without really knowing, that built-ins can be a beautiful way to maximize a space and make it feel positively custom.  Whatever the reason, I have been ripping out pictures of built-ins and fantasizing about them since I started hoarding home design magazines a decade ago.

So my dream finally came true when after spending more than two years talking incessantly about how the knee-wall in our master bedroom would be the-perfect-spot for built-ins and making grand promises of how my ever-growing piles would transform into neat, useful, and dare I say, decorative additions to our room, my husband finally gave in.   

Enter Bill Jones of FreshAir Millworks, carpenter extraordanaire.  In one short week (and only one day in our house for the installation), Jonesy whipped up a new piece for us that delivered exactly the vision I had every night as I fell asleep staring at that wall.  I don’t know why it took us so long to move on this project — possible fear of working with a contractor (we’re newbies), not knowing how to access a contractor without getting ripped off (personal referrals are key), or just getting up the gumption to spend a chunk of money on something so — well — permanent (that’s a hard one to swallow unless your absolutely sure what you want).  But the whole process of working with Jonesy was so easy, that it’s hard to stop coming up with projects for him now. 


Want a little bit of FreshAir Millworks for your home?  Contact Bill Jones at (508) 587-1109.

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Watering-Can Shower

MSLO Watering Can ShowerNow that summer has finally arrived (better late than never), I’m looking forward to long barefooted days outside.  Although the kid-proof rug in my mudspace is terrific for stopping tracked-in dirt, after my boys spend a couple of hours digging in the yard excavating dinosaurs, they’re ready for a wash-down.  Rather than giving their toesies a full-force hosing, I love this stylish and sensible idea from Martha Stewart.  Place a teak bath mat (a great slip-free surface) and a full watering can by the back door to rinse off dirty or sandy feet before coming inside.  Another dual-use option is a galvanized boot tray, souped up with drilled-in drainage holes and filled with smooth pebbles — should the rain come again (and you know it will), bring it inside and use it as a parking space for your wellies.

Image credit: Martha Stewart

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WPA-Swim-for-Health If you’re looking for a no-cost way to update your walls, click over to Vintage Printables and start shopping.  Don’t be scared off by the sometimes clunky site — it’s chock-full of fabulous high-resolution, downloadable, free images that have been hand-selected by “Swivelchair,” a biopharma worker who has a serious love for collecting out-of-copyright scientific illustrations.  Luckily for those of us who would rather hang WPA-era posters on our walls than detailed drawings of the human heart, “Swivelchair” has collected those too.  Botanicals, travel posters, curiosities — you name it, and Vintage Printables has probably got it.

So have fun choosing, then bring your selections to your local copy center and print ’em out poster size, or go cheap like me and use your own color printer and an old frame that needs a new tenant.

{Thanks to Design Mom for sharing this great find!}

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ps_logoPursuant to last week’s post on Les Toiles du Soleil, I am happy to report that Paper Source is carrying a small collection of the delicious striped canvas online!  So for those of you who won’t be making it to New York anytime soon, and aren’t too jazzed about ordering over the phone, you can order by the meter here!

Image credit: Paper Source

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DSC00540This weekend, I happened to be in New York City for some family events (including helping to pack up the house that my stepmom, little brothers and Dad lived in for nearly two decades).  Luckily, on the way down to the city I had been perusing the June issue of Martha Stewart Living and came across a mention of Les Toiles du Soleil — a French company that has produced bright, sophisticated striped cotton canvas for more than 150 years — which had opened its first U.S. boutique last winter.  I’ve had a fascination with this fabric ever since I gave my bridesmaids a tote and cosmetic bag made from it from the now defunct Martha Stewart catalog (oh, how I miss that!), so I was determined to find a slice of time to get there. 

DSC00543Saturday afternoon, with a window of just 90 minutes, my aunts and I hightailed it on the A train down to Chelsea, and Les Toiles du Soleil did not disappoint.  Combine the cheery surroundings with the equally cheery and hip store owner Sandrine, and I was instantly smitten.  The store was a visual feast — bolts of fabric hanging on racks and piled up on top of each other, blackboards displaying prices, neat stacks of tables linens, cosmetic bags and fabric-covered notebooks, and galvanized tubs filled with pillows — I felt instantly transported to a little shop in France (not that I’ve ever been there, but I have a good imagination, and Sandrine’s charming accent helped).  But what really struck me was how, well, affordable everything seemed.  For $58, you can score a yard of the many classic 72″ striped canvas choices, and just $20 more buys you a yard of the water-resistant Sunbrella ones.  They also have an in-store seamstress who can make nearly anything you imagine(curtains, table cloths, deck chairs, roller shades, totes, you name it).  The thing I’ve been stuck on since I’ve left though is the shop’s incredible oilcloth (this is not your grandmother’s red and white check picnic table covering).  For just under $100, I’m going to transform an old IKEA table into an easy-to-clean candy-striped art space.  Yum.

Les Toiles Du Soleil, 261 West 19th Street, New York.  Purchases can be made over the phone or by visiting the shop…don’t miss it if you find yourself  in New York!

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DIY Art: Books

dsc00226Last summer I was poking around a bookstore in Vermont and came across Mice, Morals & Monkey Business, an incredible children’s book filled with gorgeous block prints by artist Christopher Wormell.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it – not for our kids’ library, but for my kitchen wall.

When we got home, I hit my fab local stationery shop and picked up decorative paper that coordinated with the prints in the book, along with several LP album frames (thin metal frames with plexiglass fronts meant to showcase vintage vinyl).  Using the frame backer as a template, I cut the decorative paper to the exact size of the frame.  Then I went to town on Mr. Wormell’s masterpiece.  First, using a box cutter (an X-acto knife might be better, but I don’t have one on hand) and great caution, I nicked the seams throughout the inside of the book, loosening up most of the pages.  Then I carefully took apart the binding of the book with the knife.  I trimmed the rough edges of the pages I wanted to frame and using double stick tape, attached the pages to the decorative paper.  After repeating the trimming and taping process with the rest of the pieces, I popped them all into the frames and hung them up.

With a book, box cutter, straight edge, a couple of hours work (including shopping) and about $150 for the book, ten frames and paper, I had stunning, custom-made art!

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