Mike and Elle's Garden Wedding

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I love parties and party planning and especially parties that are weddings, so when my friend Elle told me she was getting married and looking for help planning the wedding I may have started squirming in my seat and clapping my hands and gasping, "Me, me, me, Oh Let Me Do It!!!!!" Yeah. Like that. And I am so lucky, she did. 

Eleanor is an amazing woman with four fabulous kiddos. Her husband, Matt, passed away a few years ago and she has been holding down the fort with grace and humor and basically everyone loves her and is in awe of her. I think everyone who knows her was elated to hear that she met another wonderful man to share her life with, Mike. 

Between the two of them they have NINE children. Just let that sit for a minute.

I asked Eleanor what it's like when they all go out and she said in her unflappable way, "It's not as crazy as you're thinking it is."

But really, you're not here to for me to blah, blah, blah, you're here for the pictures right? I totally understand! Let's go.

It may have taken me four tries to get the chalkboard right, but now I'm in love with it!
 Elle's friend, Karly has a home with an amazing outdoor space that should be in Architectural Digest. She was thrilled to host the wedding and it was so fun working with her to make everything gorgeous.

These picnic benches were set up on the lower level of the yard to serve as kid tables, or "third generation seating" if you prefer. Some people feel very strongly about that :-)

Every wedding should for sure have a great rope swing to keep things interesting.

Eleanor and Mike looked radiant. They are clearly so in love and thrilled to have found each other.
Is that dress not to die for?

After the ceremony and pictures there was the dinner. I'm just gonna say it; it was beautiful.
Clearly I did not make all this gorgeousness by myself. It was so much fun and a real privilege to work with Dayna, Holly, Emily and Julie, some of the most talented women I know.

At one point I was up on a ladder placing flowers and succulents in a hanging arrangement. All four of them were on the ground holding the ladder, passing me plants, and telling me where to place each one from their vantage point on the ground. We were cracking up at our own intensity over where each little flower needed to go and Emily pointed out that this moment sums up what we're all about.

Each of us would do anything-would be anywhere-to help the others have a more beautiful life. I love you ladies.
And this cake. Seriously. I just can't...it tasted ah-mazing too. It was made by Elle's friend, Michelle Christiansen , who only takes clients from referrals, so, if you need her, call me.
And there you go. Here's wishing all the best to this wonderful Bride and Groom!


Tips for Painting for a Client

Thursday, June 18, 2015

tips for painting furniture
I finished these darling pink and gold pieces for a client a couple of weeks ago. It was so fun painting for her, when we were discussing color she told me she wanted something super bright and that to her red and gold are like neutrals. The hot pink is perfect for her!
pink dresser
I've just started painting for other people, and my learning curve is pretty steep but there are two things that I feel clearer about after this project.

First, I am an easily bored baby with a minuscule attention span and about half way through any project I start thinking about the next thing I want to do. When it's my own stuff I can flit back and forth between projects like a bi-polar butterfly, but when a client has their daughter's clothes in stacks on the floor because I have her dressers it is better to get it done promptly. Like a professional. Which is what I am going to dress up as for Halloween this year.

 So, in order to facilitate the timely completion of a project, it helps if I start with the hard parts first. That way I get the most difficult stuff done while I'm totally focused on the project. 

In this case the hard part was painting the cubbies inside of the desk...

and the spindle legs on the little table.
Which brings me to the other thing I learned this time around. When determining a price for the work, remember to consider those difficult areas in your quote. The matching dresser that I painted (not pictured) took about half the time to paint as the desk, even though it was much larger. 

Working on these pieces was super fun! I love the hot pink-and it matches Muffy's outfit quite well, eh? And Marc thinks it's silly for a grown woman to dress teddy bears...

Just for fun, here is a before photo too.
Linking up

Miss Mustard Seed's Slipcover Tutorial Review

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I finished up the family room make-over (mostly) and jumped right into a job painting a dresser, desk, and bookshelf set for a client. The finish on the furniture was giving me a little grief, but I finally sucked it up, got out my palm sander, and sanded everything down to a beautiful smooth blank slate. I primed everything today and am excited to put the first coat of paint on tomorrow. I can't wait to show you!

But before that, I wanted to give a run down on my slipcovers. I primarily used Miss Mustard Seed's six part (yes SIX parts-God bless her) video series to get my bearings.
We inherited Big Brown from my parents about five years ago, and while the way it fit in our family room worked great, it has always been, well, big and brown. So very, very brown.
So I've been reading tutorials about making your own slipcovers for years, but most of them didn't quite make sense or just didn't look like something I could do. My sewing skills are limited to straight lines don't you know.

Here is a link to my Pinterest board with different slipcovering advice. Anyhow, when I decided to makeover the family room I finally got serious about making slipcovers. It was that tipping point where I figured even poorly made slipcovers were going to look better than what I had. 

I read a bunch about white slipcovers and using drop cloths as fabric but my mom talked me off that ledge by pointing out that we are a family of cave people. So I went with grey. 

I looked at our local fabric stores and couldn't find what I wanted at a price I liked too so I ended up ordering from Online Fabric Store. This is the second time I've used them and they are cheaper than retail and ship quickly. Winning.

I used this chart to figure out how much fabric to order-and then added 5 more yards for fabric insurance.

After that I studied Miss Mustard Seed's videos in earnest. She teaches to drape your fabric over the frame of your piece, cut the pieces while it is draped in place, pin the pieces together while they are on your sofa, and then sew the pieces together one at a time.
I love piping, and she has a video for that too! So I made a gazillion yards of piping and now I am a fierce piping expert. True story.
Here are some more "in process" photos.
As you pin and sew you are working with the slipcover inside out. After you sew each new piece you can flip your work right side up and lay it over the sofa to see how it's fitting. 

It's a little tedious, but it also lets you see any mistakes or adjustments you want to make before you get too far along.

The main piece of advice I would give you is to keep going even when things aren't lining up exactly perfect. See the corner of this slip? I couldn't make it lay flat for the life of me, but it looks fine with all the cushions on.
And speaking of cushions, nearly all of mine have little puckers and tucks in them. I just gritted my teeth and kept sewing. There is a noticeable improvement from my first cushion to my last, but I wasn't about to go back and resew any dang cushions. I had twelve of them for Pete's sake!

Do you see the chips?! That is why I couldn't have white!

In the end I am just so happy with how these came out; I am sending a big internet-y hug to Miss Mustard Seed for making such an awesome tutorial! Now you do it :-)

Decorating Order of Operations

Thursday, May 28, 2015

I think my family might be sick to death of hearing me say, "I just took an online decorating class and blah blah blah words whatever..." I learned so much though and am finally happy with my family room. 
Here is how it looked before the course.  I'd worked pretty hard to get it to this point, and still couldn't figure out why I didn't love it.

This room has three regular doors plus pocket doors that take up most of one wall and two large windows. There is almost no uninterrupted wall space where I can put large furniture without blocking a door or window. Here is my very hasty drafting of the floor plan so you can really get what I'm talking about.
That little door on the right is the only way to the kitchen, which means my family room is really just a big hallway to the kitchen. That's why I don't have a coffee table or anything; there is a constant stream of traffic through here, because everyone in the entire known world (including me) wants to see what's in my fridge, and having to walk around a table is a pain. I did try it. 

So in the past I've tried fixing this room by moving furniture around, messing with the bookshelves, adding a gallery wall,and whatever else I could think of that would make it pretty. But in this class I finally learned that there is an order to decorating that makes things a lot easier.

The main steps are to quiet your room, deal with the big things, take care of carpet and window treatments, and only then do you get to do the fun work of adding artwork and other decorative things.

So I began with "quieting" my room by getting everything out of there but the really big stuff. It felt so good. I actually left the room like this for a week before doing anything because it felt so peaceful.

Here's my before.
 And here it is with most of the stuff cleared out.
 Once everything was out I could see that some of my big elements weren't working for me anymore and no amount of cute vases or throw pillows were going to fix it. I got rid of the piano that no one played by posting it for free on Craigslist, I painted my walls white, traded out the table under the TV for a larger dresser, and I ordered grey fabric to make slipcovers for my big brown sofas. I thought about buying new sofas, but these fit well along the wall and hold a bunch of teenagers. I decided I want to make them work a few more years and when we are empty nesting I'll replace with one sofa and two chairs. Or something.

I added an area rug that was nearly twice the size of my old one so that it reached under almost all of my furniture and helped tie the pieces together.
Apparently puny area rugs are a problem.

I moved some of the furniture around, although there aren't a lot of options with all those windows and doors in the way. Putting the green chair and bookshelf where the piano used to be is making me really happy though.
Our teacher was adamant that window treatments be hung before any pictures go up so I got that done and then edited down my gallery wall to my favorite pictures and frames.
 Before I used every frame in my house to make my gallery wall, and some of them weren't in very good shape or had images that I didn't love. Now the gallery is smaller, but I love everything there. Especially this picture of Riley.
 Earthquake putty is your best friend when doing a gallery wall! A little blob on the corner of each frame and you don't have to deal with crooked pictures driving you crazy all the time.

By now you must be dying to know, the class I took was The Cozy Minimalist class from one of my favorite bloggers, The Nester.
She's offering the course as a go at your own pace download for something crazy like $35. I would totally recommend it. I took the live webinar, but with this you get the same materials that cover all kinds of stuff like creating a focal point, furniture scale, window treatments, textures in a room and more. I learned a lot that I can't wait to apply to my next project, the guest room.

Now hold on for a million pictures of that slipcover. It was a ton of work but it looks so much better! And don't you feel so good when you fix something you already have instead of just buying something new? When I have insomnia this couch is my best friend, plus, it used to be my sister's couch that she laid on, and I like keeping it for that reason too.

 So that is it. Next time you find yourself trying to fix a room by adding another throw pillow, try using this order of decorating. I think you'll like it.


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