Making Beauty Anywhere

Making Beauty Anywhere
Live with what makes you smile

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finding Inspiration

Before there were blogs to view there were magazines.  I adored Country Home (so upset when that disappeared I wrote the company - to no avail).  I had a subscription from 2002 - until it's demise.  I have loved Country Living for over a decade.  Remember when Country Living used to put out a separate Christmas Issue in October?  Adored that and started haunting stores for it in early October just to get a copy as they usually went fast.

Here in Canada I have had a subscription to Style at Home for about 13 years too.  So.... what this means is I had a lot of magazines.  When I moved, 3565 km to be exact, it was a paid for move so I didn't care what I packed.  Coming back home to beautiful Alberta was on my dime so I had to reduce the pounds.  The best place to reduce was my collection of magazines.  I'm sure I had about 100 + pounds.  So before the chaos of the move set in I started cutting.

I discovered by cutting out the pictures of the homes  that I loved it afforded me more time with what I wanted and less time being bothered by ads. I purchased two folders, 1 for Country Home and another for every other picture I had loved.

And I started to fill them.  They are so full  together they are about 9lbs!

 I had collected some treasures along the way,

I picked up this brochure when I went to Shabby Chic (the Newport Beach store).  It just has furniture in it but they all look comfy and soft.

As well I had this brochure,

This was for a beautiful decor store in Vancouver that has changed hands now.  This store was in a large warehouse and these stairs are painted concrete. It was an amazing place. 

Here's a peek inside.

All my stuff got moved in in early July and I have been unpacking and painting and then a few weeks ago I realized I had not found these folders.  So I started opening boxes and peeking around and still I could not find them.  I went to bed trying to remember where I had packed them (5 months ago).  I woke up thinking I should check somewhere important.  Sure enough, packed in a plastic container with family pictures, hiding at the very bottom, under everything precious were my folders - relief!

I had pictures of inspiration,

From Country Home, done by Michael Mead and inspired this:

and pictures of my dream house,


These 3 pictures are from Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion - Dec. 2006

Inspiration is everywhere, sometimes it's in cheap plastic folders.

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Front door change and stairs

I'm reading comments from my previous post and yes it breaks my heart that we don't have Target here.  Every time Target talks about coming into Canada I get so excited (I would love to buy some of Rachel's furniture) and then it always falls through.  My daughter has loved Target from a very young age.  Before we hit Disneyland in California we hit Target  ..... for food of course... and a pretty pink Shabby Chic dish for Lovey (our cat).

As I mentioned before I live in a condo.  This is the first condo I have ever been in with some style and they let you paint your front door - forward thinking.  This is what I started with,

Oops, Pear Cooler ( my favourite!!) in the picture. But this door is fine, I have always had a white door but this one cried out for something different.  The siding is pale creamy beige. There are green, burgundy, grey and black doors here in the complex but I thought it needed glossy black.

It was worth inhaling stinky paint to get this high gloss effect.  I used Tremclad high gloss black.  I think it looks great with the furniture and I painted the finials in the same high gloss.

I don't normally like black but this works for me.  The fall wreath will stand out (did not want to put it on yet, the door is still a bit wet), any white Christmas wreath will be gorgeous.  It is so unlike anything I have ever done and the effect is dramatic, I like it a lot.

As well last week we painted the stairs.  Our contractor was kind enough to rip the dirty beige carpet out which left the stairs looking like this:

So he made them look like this:

Which is mdf and trim.  He did an amazing job but it still needed to be painted.  I have painted stairs and railings before (job before took 7 days straight!) and it is the sort of job you don't look forward to.  So with urethane on the wood, 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of floor paint it now looks like this.

Much better.  And now if I could get someone to help paint the high walls in the stairwell it would be perfect.  We're getting there.

Until next time,

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Shabby Chic obsession

I adore Shabby Chic.  I discovered Shabby Chic about 15 years ago and fell instantly in love.  To help this love along I purchased a white couch.  I had my then 3 year old nephew with me and the saleswoman thought I was nuts but I didn't care, I had a white couch.

Then I had a baby and a white couch, not a problem, covers came off and everything washed up (except the pen she ran across the arm when she was 17 months old, that was harder to wash off).  Grape juice, marker, dirty feet and hands, all washed away.  I think it's the only way to have a couch and children, it's clean and can be cleaned.

My first ebay purchase in 1998 or 1999 was Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting.  I still know people who will not shop ebay because they are afraid, but I have always had excellent sellers and never had a problem.

Then I discovered Rachel sold products at Target.  We don't have Target in Canada but when my Mom was in the states she took pics of Rachel's line and sent me presents!!  It started an obsession that started small,

and then it grew as ebay grew.

And grew.

I love it all.  She makes amazing products and I love how soft everything looks.  Once I tried to sell a house and my realtor wanted change.  So I tried it,

I tried it and liked it and played around with grey and black,

But I have always gone back to Shabby Chic.  It's timeless, workable, clean, bright and cozy.  It is a trend I still love,

and always will.  If you love this look I'm sure like me you have had a lot of people comment on how white it is.  I always hold my tongue when I go to their homes and never say how brown (shudder) it all is.

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

organizing my closet

I have a very small walk in closet that has hangers on both sides and a blank wall at the back of it.  In order to increase my storage I put an open bookcase with 3 shelves against the wall to hold shoes etc.  The top of the bookcase has been holding my jewelry and perfume but it's cluttered.  Embarrassing picture to follow:

This picture is small to reduce my embarrassment!

On Saturday I took my daughter to Goodwill to look at old books (she needs one for art class) and since we both love a big goodwill we were there for a while.  I kept walking past this,

It was originally $29.99 from HomeSense (tag was still on the back), heavy and in great shape.  It has hangers on the back and I offered it to my daughter to organize her desk but she wasn't interested so I got it anyway figuring I could make it work.  Oh yes, it was $7.99 at Goodwill. 

It's too heavy and big for my desk, I don't want to hang it on the wall so it sat on the floor for a couple of days. 

Today I needed files from my closet and it was all cluttered so I started pulling stuff out to clean it and as I moved this piece out I started thinking what I could do with it.  First I needed to paint it as brown (actually this is that burgundy brown) has no place in my room. 

1 coat of paint (with primer in it) made me realize painting was going to be a massive job so I dug around in my drawer and found Bella Rose Blue paper.  It was paper that I ran off on a colour copier at Staples with my fabric ( as I said before put a piece of paper behind the fabric or else black dots end up on the copy).  I love Rachel Ashwell's Bella Rose Blue, it is so exuberant (not something I usually like).  I don't want to over do it in my room, the pattern is on my bed,

and the bedside lamp.  I wanted to make this box bright so I decided to use it because it wouldn't be seen in the closet and it would bring some light into a dark spot.

Here's halfway through,

I applied the paper with a glue stick (Power Glue stick from my daughters school kit!) and I think because the paint had primer in it, a glue stick was all that was needed. 

And here it is finished,

Bright, clean, and not burgundy so I like it!

With perfume, and my favourite piece of milk glass for storage and my earring storage glass box that I picked up at a thrift store eons ago and I have always loved, it worked. 

Here it is with necklaces, boots, shoes, jackets, shirts, ......  all the stuff in my closet.

It's a start, it helps get the clutter organized and it means I can see all the things I love. It was a quick afternoon re-do that went quickly because of the paper. 

Until next time, Patricia

Saturday, September 18, 2010

There is a hole

There is a hole in my living room.  It drives me nuts.  In about 2001 onward builders here in Alberta began to build a hole above the fireplace for your tv. It makes no sense because you sit on the couch with your chin to the sky to watch tv.  It is something I hate, plus there is the whole fireplace heating up the tv thing which also seems to make no sense.  Is this anywhere else?  Who thought this up? 

I spoke to my contractor $500.00 to break the mantle off (yes we have an itty bitty mantle but no fireplace - nada. This home was previously used as a rental so I guess they did it on the cheap.) and cover the hole.  The back of the hole has cable and and electrical outlet which has to be shut off. 

You can't mirror the open box because it would cover the electrical which is not allowed.  So... in order to work with it I painted it which helped a little. Then I put a painting in which my Mom did in 1974 and I have always loved.

I plugged the Ikea lamp into the electrical and added a mirrored stand underneath to throw the light around and added an orchid.  I adore orchids.  No fakes, just real ones.  When I purchased this a woman working in the store told me she had over 20 orchids!!  20 seems a bit much.

So here is the overall look. 

A tv has to be in the room.  There is only 1 living room and I searched and searched and could not find a flatscreen tv in white (over 32 inches).  It would look less obvious in white I know, but I'm still searching for a solution.  Brad Kitt says hi (he likes having his picture taken).

I picked up the cabinet at the Salvation Army.  I saw  it and drove home thinking about it all the way.  It was $48.00.  I slept on it and woke up knowing I had to go get it.  I arrived at the store and it was crazy busy, 1/2 price day.  I ran to the back and it was still there.  So I got it for $24.00 and it came with a mirror.  I painted it with Benjamin Moore Aura paint in Gardenia and then just spray painted the handles.  It is great for the tv and would be better if the tv was white, but I'm trying to work with it.

I'm living with it for now, hoping I get to really like it.  If I don't I can always call my contractor back......

Until next time, Patricia

Friday, September 17, 2010

dining cabinet

Years ago I purchased an Ikea China cabinet and left it au natural for about 15 years and then I painted it grey and white.  The result was beautiful,

but... it had some bad memories for me, and I was tired of a cabinet that took up a whole wall so I firesaled it on kijiji (I hadn't missed it until I saw this picture hmmm).

Before I was left Ontario I wanted to pick up an antique low cabinet, one that was not going to be so obtrusive in a room.  I found a cabinet on kijiji owned by an elderly couple  who had taken the cabinet out of the  family cottage and they guessed it to be about 80 years old.   

 I saw a lot of potential.

 When it was delivered it had in large writing on the bottom May 12 1902. It was a surprise to both the owner and myself.

Painting it was my next step, brown has never held any appeal for me (and I checked with an antique dealer first, he said it would not hurt the value). Painted it high gloss creamy white (Debbie Travis, Canadian Tire) no primer, 2 coats of paint. The handles are beautiful and when polished revealed even more detail,


I love these details but I don't love the way the knobs on the bottom look,


Too brassy, not working for me.  So it gave me an excuse to head to Anthropologie (!)  I found these great pulls which also had brass on them so they would tie in nicely.

I think they are perfect! and here is the final result:

They aren't as noticeable but (with a better camera) they work better, not hogging all the light from the pretty pulls on the top. 

Here it is all together and pardon the light (I won't even call it a chandelier it is soooo  ugly), my electrician is coming next week.

It is growing on me.  There are still moments when I think I made a bad decision with this, that it's too big, not pretty enough but I'm working on it.  Funny thing, the inside is not finished and when you open the cabinet door it smells heavenly, like an old wooden cottage.

Until next time,

Friday, September 10, 2010


Last year I was watching Cityline and one of the hosts described himself as a lamptramp - that`s me!!  I am a lamptramp!!  Don`t know why, I just love love love lamps.  My first big addiction was an alabaster lamp.  I found it on ebay and decided I had to have it.  I love it, it is my favourite always has been always will.  I paid $50.00 in customs fees just to get it and then I had to re-wire it and get repairs done.
I have a shabby chic shade on it that is about 8 years old and faded from the sun, it`s pattern is soft and light and they work well together. 

I love the creamy detail of this lamp.

I had to repair this lamp when I got it (it was wobbly and had to be ground in places) and the repair guy asked me why I wanted such an old lamp.
I loved it so much I got another on ebay a few years later,

A few years ago my Mom got me a mercury glass lamp,

It`s large, bright and I get nervous when I have to carry it around.  It`s now in my Mom`s room where she is getting organized for a whole french black, white, grey look. 
As if I don`t have enough lamps I picked up this at Ikea this summer because I love the pattern, it`s shape and the light it throws off.  It was only about $15.00 which is perfect for such a pretty lamp.

I picked this little lamp up at an antique store, rewired it (Thank you Martha Stewart for teaching me how) and painted it.  I had the Rachel Ashwell Bella Rose Blue fabric but not enough to cover this lamp so I photocopied the fabric and covered the shade with the paper (put a piece of paper behind the fabric and the copy will turn out perfectly, without the paper it gets little black dots). You can see where the paper matches in the back.

Right before I left Ontario I went to Lilly`s antiques and found a lamp sitting on the stairs outside in the rain.  It was tall, weird and full of potential!!  Lilly sold it to me for $10.00 and I started planning what to do with it.  I pulled it apart and painted it with Krylon Ballet Slipper.  It looks light on the can but when painted my lamp suddenly looked like bubble gum!!  It was awful, too bright, too pink, ugh.  But.....  I gave it a light spray of white and it calmed it right down - whew.

It is such a pale pink now, and it works with all the gray crystals that came with the lamp.  It`s heavy, unusual, and delicate.  I re-wired it as well, but didn`t keep a picture of the before so it was hard  to fit all the pieces back together. 

A few years ago I did the taxes and after all that frustration I treated myself to another ebay  purchase,

I always wanted a tabletop chandelier.  These can be ornate and pricey so I stayed within my budget but sometimes I go on ebay and look at them and dream of buying another.....

Years ago I was lucky enough to pick up a lamp for free



It`s always amazing what re-wiring and paint can do. 

If you need to find me I will be wandering the lamp aisle at HomeSense!!

Until next time,