A few of my favorite things…in March

31 03 2010

This month I have much to be excited about.  Here is a look at just a few of the things that made me happy!

  1. I get a ton of subscriptions each month and immediately look through the design related ones (basically the day they arrive) but the other ones get put in a pile to thumb through while I am bored.  I am rarely bored so usually that pile is pretty high.  In the recent weeks I have been taking some of that pile to the beach with me.  Now I have a couple new surprising “favorites” from that pile, which is weird because they are subscriptions I took on myself!  I am loving Cooking Light (anyone that knows me know that I can’t cook well and the majority of the things I do choose to cook wouldn’t be considered by most to be “light”) and Sunset, which has the tagline-Living in the West (so doesn’t really attract those of you not living in the west-sorry.)  Cooking Light has some of the best recipes that I have tasted in quite some time and they are surprisingly easy to make.  Who knows, if I had known how simple cooking healthy could be maybe I would have started a long time ago!  And Sunset features places I want to go and see along the western states, along with some fun local kind of stuff to experience.
  2. Pandora Radio is getting a ton of play time on my computer these days.  A few of my favorite stations are Taylor Swift Radio, Dar Williams Radio, Islands in the Stream (of the likes of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton), and Girls Just Want to Have Fun Radio.  I must say that I can’t help but bop to the ’80s tunes as they pour out of the speakers and scream sing along with the Pointer Sisters and The Bangles.  My favorite feature is that you don’t necessarily get the song you put in as the station and they mix the content up so you get to know new artists that are just up and coming as well as the tried and true old favorites.  Plus it is free (up to 40 hours per month) and virtually commercial free, so click here to sign up from your own account.
  3. I forgot how much I love Twizzlers since my friend Sarah moved a couple hours away.  This was a treat that she always kept in her house since it was “low fat”.  I saw them in the store about a month ago and thought they sounded tasty so bought a package.  They disappeared in a heartbeat so back to the store several more times to stock up.  Talk about good and if you have never tried it, dip them in peanut butter.  SO GOOD!
  4. Lastly, I am loving the return of spring!!  Everything about it.  From the dewy paw prints that Gracie makes during our morning walks while the birds chirp and the trees start to bloom to sitting in the sun on the lawn.  This shot was taken while we (Gracie and I) sat at the park working last Tuesday while the power at our house was scheduled to be down.  It was the perfect day for me to sit with my laptop and magazines and for Gracie to roll around in grass and play with the kids at the nearby playground.  It just makes me SO EXCITED for early summer!

Laundry Day

29 03 2010

I often think that the laundry room is the most overlooked room in the house.  We don’t think to do much with it since hardly any guests get a peek inside.  But as I was looking through pictures this morning I found an example of a little laundry room that was not just functional, but fun and peppy!  And best of all, they did it on the cheap.


Some of the high points to me are:

  1. The countertop connecting the washer & dryer together.  It is great for folding laundry without fear of socks disappearing into the void between the units as well as cohesively binding them as a unit within the space.  For just a little laminated countertop (available at most hardware stores) this sure adds a lot of bang for the buck.  And if you can’t find a laminated piece you could always go out and get a board and paint it a fun color of the top (this just makes it a little less water resistant than the laminate.)
  2. The floral skirt for the utility sink.  This is easy to create and hides a multitude of ugliness all while being a great storage for all your cleaning supplies!  It is easy to recreate this and without any sewing to boot.  First, you would need iron-on hem tape for the top and bottom as well as some Velcro to stick the skirt to the sink.  Voila, you have a skirt!
  3. The metal shelves are an IKEA purchase for somewhere around $20 each.  These are perfect for our space to hold things up high that you access a lot like the laundry detergent or in their case as a holder for a laundry chart.  Don’t you just love the little lamp they used as task lighting clamped from one of these great shelves?!
  4. Rods and hooks are a great way to store things within arms reach just as they did above the utility sink.  So a quick grab and you have a cleaning brush, a sponge anything you need and having it hang over the sink allows it to drip dry as needed.
  5. Lastly, it’s the little touches to me that really warm up the space.  From the rug to the plant, it’s these little additions that make it just a little extraordinary.

Now these little changes wouldn’t break the bank and would make such an impact in your home.  It is one more door that could be open for guests.  Tell me about your laundry room.  Would you want your guests to see it as is?  Does it have a nice pretty window for loads of natural light to pour in?  Does the gap between your machines eat your socks like mine does?!

Tool Kit for Home Repair

26 03 2010

Your home is most likely your largest investment.  So not only do you want to stay on top of keeping it updated and looking great, you probably want to keep it running great too.  The secret that most specialists don’t want you to know is that it is easy to fix most common problems.  Usually it consists of taking something apart, replacing the defective part and putting it back together.  So fairly easy, and since we aren’t cavemen anymore, it gets even easier if you have the right tools.  So here is a rundown of what I would suggest for you to keep in a handy little toolbox or handyman bag under your sink.


  • Large slip-joint
  • Long-nose
  • Needlenose

Multi-bit Ratchet Screwdriver


  • Either a Ball Pein Hammer or a Heavy Claw Hammer
  • Mallet

Superbar-I wanted to include a picture of this because it has turned into one of my favorite tools to have since it can basically do anything you want it to do from taking out nails, removing trim, banging on something, etc.

Adjustable Wrench: Both Large and Small

Putty Knife

Awl-since it has a sharp metal point with a handle it is an ideal tool when you need something sharp

Hex Keys/Allen Wrenches (These are what you use to put IKEA furniture together so a set with handles really makes this job smooth)

Combination Square -an all in one measuring tool for hanging anything that includes a level, protractor and ruler

Tape Measure

2 Pipe Wrenches-when you take apart pipe you will need one for each segment you are working with at a time

Power Drill and Bit Set -I personally stay away from girly tools because often times the makers don’t give it the same amount of power as the men’s version.  I am also a much bigger fan of the corded variety as the power often dwindles on the cordless when I am less than halfway through a job and I’m not big on taking breaks.

Odds and Ends:

  • Assorted Fasteners Kit (includes hooks and screws for hanging pictures)
  • Picture Hanging Wire
  • WD-40
  • Liquid Cement
  • Stud Finder (You always need one of these for when the job just gets too big-I kid)
  • C-Clamp
  • Rubber Jar Opener
  • Magnet
  • Gloves (I like both a set for demolition and some latex for things like staining.)
  • Safety Goggles

Funny story, growing up my dad bought us tools for Christmas’ and such, so when I moved out I had a pretty impressive tool collection.  When we started working on the house a friend came over to help and he was surprised by how many tools John had.  When John admitted the tools were mine, I thought Lewis was going to fall off his ladder he was so shocked!!

Anyway, I hope this helps in starting to build your tool library.  Tools can be pretty pricy to go out and get right away so my best suggestion would be start building your supply slowly.  Maybe pick up a tool every time you go to the store for other purchases.  Other ideas are to pick up tools on the cheap at either garage sales, estate sales or even your local thrift store.  I just picked up a screwdriver (broke the end off of mine on the last project) at my local salvation army store yesterday for .75 cents.  And if you absolutely want to buy new and for a little less check out the deals at Harbor Freight.  When we were working on our house this was the go to place for us.

Kari’s Dorm Room Quickie

24 03 2010

I got an email about a week ago asking for a advice on a college dorm room.  Kari didn’t have much money to spend, but wanted to save up and have a FABULOUS room when she gets to college in the fall.  Knowing that she won’t be able to paint the room we’ve added much needed color in other areas.  Here is a sample of a dorm room at college as is:

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/23/32598105_f7f7d1c0e5.jpgPretty bland, right?!  Nothing says “inviting” like some stark white walls!!  So here are some suggestions to livening up this plain old dorm room into a fun, energetic space.  Here is our material board:

  1. The color palette for our room is a bright one.  Most of the accents are in orange and pink.  The furnishings are all in either white to help them blend in with the walls so we don’t see hard edges and black for a touch more of color.  Starting with the loft, as most dorm patrons use them as a space saving feature, we should give this a once over with some white gloss spray paint.  It will do wonders to take it from rustic to feminine plus it will look great with the desk.
  2. The bedding needed to be bold since the bed frame was taking on the color of the walls. This bedding won’t disappoint with it’s versatile colors and simple pattern.
  3. What dorm room would be complete without a TV?!  So we have added a television stand that can store all those CD’s and DVD’s and will look great while doing it.
  4. For all the late night reading we have included a floor lamp with multi-directional lights.  This will be easy to have one for reading on the sofa and another giving the room ambiance.
  5. Since most people don’t think about where the towels will go, I’ll tell ya.  Mine hung on the back of my door for all to see when they sat in the room with the door shut.  So having some fun colored, fresh towels will make a great start to the beginning of the school year.
  6. Every room needs a place to sit and hang with friends.  Not only is this futon is uber chic with it’s detailing, but will pull out to make a bed for visiting friends as well.  And for the price tag sitting at $180 bucks you just can’t beat it.
  7. These little ottomans will really add a pop of color to the seating area while performing a multitude of tasks.  Not only will they hold your beverage while catching up on a little TV, but they also can provide more seating for when you throw big parties.  Now we are talking.
  8. Wall décor, should be fun in dorm rooms so I have added a few options to get Kari started.  The clock/message board is perfect for hanging in the room to leave messages for your roommate and vice versa.  Who doesn’t love a little moose head?!  Cardboard Safari makes these and I think this guy would be fun to decorate for all the seasons and football games.  And just keeping in the spirit of having something glowing on your wall-an ampersand all lit up.
  9. Finally, getting your study on with style (I mean you ARE there to attend school and all.)  Starting with the desk, this great parson’s desk is simple and functional.  In the white gloss color it will go great with your loft and help it to blend in.  This collection of organizers just add a little punch of color for the top of your desk and come in several styles to help you stay on top of your studies.  And a desk just won’t be functional with out a light and this one is perfect.  Trust me when I tell you it is a wonderful lamp, because I have the exact same one on my desk at work.

So there you have some suggestions to help Kari get started on her dorm room for next fall.  If I can help you with your own room, visit us at www.ma-deonline.com to get started.

Martha Stewart Living is taking over Home Depot

22 03 2010

Honestly, I have never been the biggest fan of Martha Stewart.  I KNOW!  I really don’t know why that is.  She hasn’t done anything offensive to me so I just can’t put my finger on it.  It has always just been this feeling.  In all actuality her post prison persona hasn’t bothered me nearly as much as her persona before.  When she came out of the slammer it was like she could finally be who she really was and not what she thought everyone else expected her to be.  We are not talking Julia Child let loose and drop egg on the floor and say her infamous voice, “Never apologize-you can always put it together.”  But, she could finally relax and think ‘if these people followed me though that ordeal then I can certainly let loose a little.’

Anyhow, enough Martha bashing because I actually came here to praise her work.  When I heard that Home Depot was ending their long run with Ralph Lauren I was very disappointed.  Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t get his paint there anymore (they should still have all the mix instructions in their database if you have the color you need) it just means if you run into the store looking for a paint sample there won’t be one.  You can imagine that I was “thrilled” to learn that Martha was moving in to take over the vacant slot that RL left.  So when I stopped at the store a couple of weeks ago I swung past the paint department to check out the new spread.  I must say, I liked it.  I picked up the brochure that has small chips of all the colors and I can see all sorts of potential.  A few of my immediate favorites are: Bergamot (a pink, orange and red color mixed perfectly), Vermilion (a deep red shade), Toasted Marshmallow (a beautiful tan color), Sultana (green with a subtle yellow background), Purple Elderberry (very deep dark plum), Molasses and Burl (these are 2 very nice brown options), and finally Zinc and Seal (are 2 warm gray options that add nice balance to the palette.)  There are 280 colors in all and they can be mixed for either indoor or outdoor use.

I really like the names that she has for each color.  They are names that when I look at them I can actually see how they came up with that name.  Her paint names are things like Picket Fence, Spud (perfect color of the outside of a new potato) and Ballet Slipper Pink.  I have always thought picking paint color names sounded like the best job in the world, but I digress.  Anyway, they will have available sample jugs (8 oz) as a test to make certain you love the color before you bite the bullet and get the gallon.

Martha Stewart didn’t just stop at paint when it came to her Home Depot deal making.  She also included a line of environmentally friendly cleaning products, new home decor (both interior and exterior) and closet organization options.  She certainly says it right when she says, “It’s a good thing.”

DwellStudios: Designer of the Month

19 03 2010

I would have written up the intro on Christiane myself, but everytime I started it just didn’t seem to be as good as the bio that I read on DwellStudio’s website.  So…here it is.

“The founder and Creative Director of DwellStudio, Christiane Lemieux studied art history and fashion design before setting up shop in 1999. The Canadian native is inspired by travel (most Canadians are; it’s so cold up there they’re always on the road in search of sun), literature, the art world, and anything and everything to do with design, from flea markets to estate sales, design magazines to reality television. Lemieux’s most important role — also an endless source of inspiration – is that of mom: to two kids and Jake, the big lumbering lab who commutes to the office with her every morning. Seeing the world through the eyes of her kids and attempting to balance adventures around the globe with stability at home has helped Lemieux refine and redefine what DwellStudio stands for — and though juggling the roles of parent, spouse (she happens to be married to her business partner Josh), and working woman is a challenge, it’s one she adores.”

Just a little background to get us started.  Back when I made my first purchase from the line the company was known as Dwell Home Furnishings.  I purchased a set of bedding for my full sized bed.  A bed that I don’t have anymore yet can’t seem to part with the sheets since they were so fantastic.  Back then they were known for their innovative lines of bedding, but quickly expanded their collection to include everything from tabletop to baby and kid accessories.  In 2007, the company was renamed DwellStudio as an overarching brand to unite the various lines they had started to include.

Just so you all know, this wasn’t my bedding but it is some that I wouldn’t mind having!  The brand has quickly become known for their signature use of color and their commitment to the highest quality goods.  As they have mentioned, “every season we gather inspiration from all over the place-fashion, architecture, travel, flea markets and we post it all around the studio until our ideas become concrete…it’s a visual feast.”

When describing how she comes up with her concepts for a collection she said it was pretty spontaneous.  The concept usually comes together organically just the way it did for the Abstractions line.  She was on a trip to Paris and everything she saw was fluid, handmade and looked very fresh.  From the windows at Yves St Laurent to an art show at the Musee D’Orsay-people were soft of over computer artwork.

DwellStudio Private Label retails in over 300 stores nationwide that offers some amazing graphic designs.  You can also order them online if you don’t have a store near you.  Here is a few of the items they have designed to show you how amazing their stuff really is:

As Dara Caponigro (formerly the style director for Domino Magazine) once said, “Christiane figures out the trends before everyone else does.  She delivers modern designs to people who don’t even know they want modern designs.”  This success at being a trendsetter is what led Target to offer her goods in their stores.  They saw the mass-market appeal  in Ms. Lemieux’s brand of modern designs and wanted a piece of it.  Here is a sampling of what DwellStudio for Target includes:

These days you can find DwellStudio designs in any price range.  At Target you can get a 200-thread count crib set for $79.99, while a similarly designed 300 thread count set at specialty stores retails for $385.  Both lines include the same geometrics, abstract florals and fresh interpretations of old-world motifs as you can see.  There is even an option for stationary at TinyPrints.com.

As you can see from the multitude of options DwellStudios offers you can certainly find something to fall in love with.  I will leave you with a advice that Christiane has given to people who feel “stuck” when it comes to decorating a space: MIX IT UP.  There are no RULES.  Your personality will make for the best space.

Quickie Inspired by Color

17 03 2010

This week for our quickie I wanted to share a personal photo as inspiration from our recent trip to New Zealand (back in September 2009).

I have this picture displayed on our wall in the living room.  No, it isn’t because it was the most thrilling moment of my life so far, which it was, but because the colors in the photograph are so vibrant.  If I hadn’t seen it with my very own eyes I would have thought this picture had been altered in a computer program like Photoshop.  It is truly one of the first times that I have ever looked at a body of water and thought that is exactly what it looked like in a photograph.  Now, I can’t say in the moments before this shot was taken that I thought, “wow, how pretty” because in all actuality I was thinking, “what in the heck prompted me to think this was a good idea?!  Gosh, how am I going to get out of this?”  Mind you, I was already strapped at the ankles with the bungy cord and standing on the ledge before these thoughts crossed my mind so after some stalling I realized that there was no turning back.  So I jumped.  Well, more like I leaned forward and fell off.  If you are interested in my jump off the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand you can see the actual footage below.

Anyway, back to this week’s Quickie.  Since the water is the inspiration for our Quickie I figured why not use the bathroom as our muse since it is the room in the house the uses the most water. So without further ado, our calm, serene bathroom.

Here is our material board:

  1. Our color palette consists of clam colors in the green, turquoise, white and beige.  The wall color should be a nice basic tan that will complement all the other bright colors we have going on in the space.  Ralph Lauren makes a brilliant color: #NA38 Macaw that would be perfect for the walls so the bold colors will really pop.  A nice turquoise accent color would be Dunn Edwards/ # DE5767 Star City.
  2. This mirror has a nice simplicity with the rim being a wood trim that helps to enhance the colors in our room.
  3. The vanity is an all wood/painted white version that has a white granite top.  The style is very transitional and simple so it would fit into just about any bathroom and look great.
  4. These vanity lights are very simple but have an elegance about them.  They will look great for years to come.
  5. For the tub surround and backsplash above the vanity this tile will make a great accent.  The bold turquoise color will look fantastic with the tan background of the paint and the long rectangular shape will really help to add a modern updated feel to the bathroom walls.
  6. These faucets are perfect since they will blend in with the room.  I didn’t want anything too modern or fancy to make the vanity stand out so picked one with a low profile and nice soft nickel coloration.
  7. This white shower curtain will look great with the bright, bold turquoise tile behind it.  We don’t want too much color overtaking the space so subtle touches of color with neutral items really help to balance the room.
  8. Won’t this shelf look great painted the turquoise color of Dunn Edwards paint that I mentioned in item 1?!  Mounting this shelf above the toilet to keep extras in little containers makes this a perfect little storage option.
  9. These towels just help to pull the entire palette together.  They have various shades of green, white and blue and will look great in our bathroom.
  10. Lastly, we have all the accessories that go into the space.  The towel bars have a nice modern feeling while the rest have great color.  A trash can, tissue holder and tray all in that brilliant faux driftwood collection and the bright green mouthwash cup, soap dispenser and toothbrush holder are accents will really stand out and bring the whole space together without over powering the simplicity of the room.

There you have my take on being inspired by color.  Wasn’t that blue-green of the water marvelous?!  Makes me want to go back!!  Tell me about the most daring thing you have ever done on vacation?  Have you ever bungy-ed yourself?  If so, would you do it again?  Well, if this Quickie has inspired you to get started on a room of your own, click here and we will get you set up.