The Unexamined Life..Of Your Coffee Table

I love to explore, I like to plan a whole day in a new place, it gives me a new perspective to return home with. Traveling has been an influence on everything in my home. Experiences bring my imagination to life and I love to daydream about all the possibilities.

I try to make the best of what I have to work with, in part out of care for our environment but also because every object has potential!

So in cultivating my blog over the years I’ve been exploring avenues that I enjoy. Some of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in my life I’ve been completely terrified of. Example: every single place we traveled in California had to be on the side of a mountain, and I am not a fan of heights. Am I glad I did them, yes. Was it terrifying, also yes! College, scary, did that too. Living with other people I didn’t know, scary, did that. Running for a town political role, suuuper scary but also exciting! Buying a home, scary, but extremely rewarding!

So what I’ve been doing lately has been designing a business. Im terrified. I really don’t like change. I have a pretty cushy job, and a pretty easy life. What business do I have trying to mix that up? Well the goal has been to step out of my comfort zone, to give the world a chance to understand what it is I want to give back to it and to try to live my best life!

So here it goes…

Background: I grew up an only child. Which requires me to answer the question, how did you like being an only child? I’ll be honest, it was fine. I pretty much had my imagination to entertain me, instead of another human. I think it also made me look closer at myself (critically) and also the relationship I had with other people. My fatal flaw is people -pleasing. While my parents were older from start, I had to grow up relatively quickly, with a few challenges. Mom had mental health issues, Dad had some workaholic issues. Everyone has issues, but it made my story, and shaped a lot of my strengths.

Neither parent really cared about our living space outside of whether it was clean(it was very dysfunctional). So I found myself making my bed, fluffing my stuffed animals and putting my own decorative towels in the bathroom for when guests came over. Right… I know, people pleaser. They didn’t see the value of a well designed home space. They did have some taste (sort of) Dad was kind of hippy, which now in the era of mid century modern times has found its way back in vogue (go Dad). Mom was more artist, mixed with Greek iconography. So my house was a shmorgusboard if hippy, Jesus and artwork. Not the most cute assembly of furniture pairing. Lots of random paint splatters, brushes and equipment… but it was home.

What I found myself doing in my younger years was constantly reorganizing my own space. My room was like my safe place. The family didn’t always get along, and life wasn’t always roses and sunshine. I tried to stay positive, keep my own space in order and looking as good as I could have it with the resources I had. I remember the feeling of seeing the redesigned space. It was like a breath of fresh air. The odd thing was remembering where everything was placed in the new arrangement. It was necessary to use what I had to work with because asking for something deemed “unnecessary” was more aggravating than making the best of it. In a lot of ways this allowed me to utilize the things I had creatively. I credit the rents with giving me a hard time enough that I had no choice but to make my own designs.

So here I am adulting and trying to find my purpose, and recycle, and drink enough water, and meet my personal goals, you know, be responsible (eye rolling emoji). What I’ve found is that I really want to help people live in the space they feel the most at home. Some people see the value in simplicity while others want their Pinterest dreams to come true. I’ve just found a happy balance of function and artsy, with unique hand made peices. What I’ve always wanted is my space to feel comfortable to anyone who enters. After years of trial and error I think I’ve achieved my design goals.

What is so counter intuitive to so many of my friends and family is making their space work for their family while still meeting their asthetic goals. I’ve always loved Martha Stewart, and I’m a huge fan of HGTV. The difference between my inspirations is that I try to incorporate personal experiences into spaces.

So many designers make your kitchen look like a home and garden magazine but fail to reflect the people who live there. One thing I love is holding the mirror up and saying you are, where you live. Your space is part of your health. Your wellness is directly related to your environment, and for me, I find clarity in order, and reorganization.

Part of the journey I am on in life is bringing my life experiences into my living space, as a reflection of who I am, where I’ve been and what I love.

I have so many photographs of my better half, Joe and I. I have pictures of our cat. I have my mothers artwork, our grandparents wedding photographs, friends, family, trips we’ve been on etc. Our kitchen has been completely redone (by us), and is now pig themed, subtly. before

(Two different times of year so bare with the decor in these pictures)

Our chandelier is restored from basically a dumpster to full beauty (Joe deemed it to be trash).

We built our own bar, we built our headboard, our kitchen island, our entry bench, our master bedroom bench. We redesigned our bathroom fixture. We built custom shelving, we built our ottoman, we’ve upcycled more stuff than we’ve bought. I’m proud of that.

Everything in our home has a story, and it’s about who we are and what we love.

We have made a beautiful space using mostly what we had, and adding our own spin. Our molding may not have perfect lines, although he did a very nice job for a beginner! Our life might not be exactly what you see in a magazine but it has cracks that came with weathering. My favorite part about our home is our life in it. After so many life experiences it’s easy to lose track of where you’ve been. I find a memory around every corner in the lake house that we love.

So I am officially beginning the exciting (and scary as hell) adventure of starting a consulting company for interior decorating, with a focus on life experience, and functional needs. I love to be reminded of all the fun I’ve had. I love my family, and my friends and I make it a point to focus on the positivity both in my life and in my home space. I have helped so many people see positivity and opportunities in their space so they can grow into it or shift into a better arrangement.

As for the coffee table, we turned it into an ottoman.

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6 Steps to a Thoughtful Event


1. Plan plan plan…if you don’t have a plan… You should hire a pro.

There’s a few key elements of a fabulous party… The first thing you need is a date. People have lives and so do you, so give them plenty of time to rsvp.

If you want this party to be a success send out a real invitation, no Facebook, email, or texting please. It’s just not as effective as a mailed invitation. Plus they allow people to post it on their fridge or in their calendar so they don’t forget!

Paper invitations add taste and flare to your event, it’s a timeless tradition, don’t skip this step.

I’ve been recently fond of the invitations matching the theme, but that’s a personal preference. They don’t have to be fancy, just in writing and in the mail!

Depending on where you have it you may need to confirm your headcount, and you will need to know your headcount for planning food/ booze so don’t skimp on this very important detail.

This is the most crucial peice of the process but don’t worry… Just make sure to thoroughly count your rsvp’s and make sure to advance the rsvp date at least a week (minimum) before your event.

If you are hosting with a caterer they will need a headcount by a specific time, the same goes for an event held at a remote site.

2. Have a theme.

For every occasion there can be an overlapping theme, cause or design scheme. Whether you are hosting a birthday party for a 6 year old (who knows what they want) or you are preparing for a bridal shower, have a theme, it’ll look much more put together.

My mother recently retired from her job. Her life was quite interesting, she’s an artist, she used to teach art classes when she stayed at home raising me, so her theme was clearly art inspired. She not only taught art, but her topic of interest and the theme she painted the most was beach inspired landscapes…

Which coincidentally brought me to my next theme, the beach… Where she was moving to… So!!!! “The art of retirement” was the theme, and I incorporated art and beach themes in unison.

My friend Melissa made this beautiful cake from scratch. It was tasty too!!!

Once you have a theme, everything falls into place: food, decor, booze, everything!!!

3. You don’t have to pay a million dollars to have a fabulous party, just make sure there is food and booze.

Based on your number of people, your guests taste and your theme you have to build a menu.

I typically stick with wine and beer because it’s well received by anyone. Vodka is a taste, gin is a taste and generally people have different preferences but if they don’t like wine or beer… There’s always soft drinks.

Consider about 1/2 bottle of wine per person and 2-3 beers per person. You’ll probably have left over booze but that’s okay! Some places will let you return unopened bottles, but you can regift it or just save it for your next function!


Present the booze or just stick it in a cooler it all depends on your crowd… You know a backyard barbecue does not necessitate the level of preparation as a shower or a milestone event.

The food has to be good. You can’t have a good party without good food. All other things may fail but a good scallop wrapped in bacon never fails! (Just an example, many people do not care for bacon or seafood.) You must know your audience.

You need to know your crowd enough to know if they are picky, if they are upscale or if they are laid back. Ideally, easy crowds are the best but usually you have a few of the picky and classy type mixed in. Pick items that are staple foods either of the culture you/ your crowd is, or just straight American classics.

Your menu should have 3 elements appetizers, main entree type foods, and dessert. Obviously if it’s a cocktail party this may not apply but you want to have a couple light apps, a couple hot apps, and light and hot foods for the main course. Dessert is easy, anything and everything goes, except ice cream that’s a commitment.
I chose to make all my food from scratch, but if you have it catered chances are they will suggest more but you don’t need to have it all, especially on a budget.


Levels are important. You have to have food on the bottom and food on the top otherwise the display has failed.

We chose cheese, meats and crackers, deviled eggs,  antipasti skewers, bacon wrapped scallops and shrimp cocktail.

As you can see there’s some decor mixed onto the display it helps give wholesome theme flavor throughout the party.

4. Don’t stress.Make signs instead!

People are instruction oriented, they need direction, they crave order, they need signs for things so they don’t mess it up. The social pressure at the party is high, don’t make people feel stupid trying to figure out where to start on the table or how to scoop the salad dressing. No one likes to admit it, but people don’t usually think like a host… They need to know what to do.

Signs are pretty, they make your life easier and people feel better knowing they didn’t mess everything up!


Especially if there is a guest book or a special game in place. Directions are necessary!


You can make them jazzy or straight forward but it’s also a conversation peice so think about it before you put it on the table.

5. Every detail counts. If it didn’t matter it wouldn’t be there… 

Here’s a list: (how mine starts anyway)

Tablecloths

Chairs

Centerpeices

Silverware or plasticware

Paper or plastic in general for all materials.

Decor

Think of this as a general concept. The detail can be as intense or as simple as necessary.

Personally I know every table needs a runner and a centerpeice, to make theme cohesive.


They don’t have to be fancy, I took books off my bookshelf, mason jars, wild flowers, shells and then I staggered them with different colored / sized glass containers.

I wanted it to be reminiscent of reading and relaxing on the beach with nature and lots of different colors. I incorporated the beach artist with a New England type of feel. I’m pretty sure I nailed it.

Each table had spray painted copper cans with paint brushes in them, and fun facts with photographs of all my mom’s achievements. Luckily I had a lot of material.


Oh I also had the party in the location where she taught art for 15 years, a small gallery in town. It’s all about the thoughtful details.

6. Have help because you can’t do it alone if you want to pull it off. 

Don’t think for a second that 100% of the work was done by me, even though I’d like to take credit for it. I simply knew what I wanted it to look like, and I directed people accordingly.

I had help to place the food, pour the ice, move the tables and chairs and all the heavy lifting in general. If you don’t have help, you will never want to do another party again. You have to be a team player and you have to assign duties, trust me it’ll save you a headache.

7. Just because you are the host doesn’t mean you can’t party!!!

Part of the fun of a party is relishing in your hard work but also in visiting with friends and family. Make your menus easy and your beverages easy so you can set it up and leave it alone. Don’t forget to enjoy the beautiful event you have created!

You may not be able to stand up by the end of the running around, but sit back and relax with a glass of wine and take in the energy of a group of happy people midway through an event that you made happen.

Don’t forget to accept compliments and remember that the point of celebrating is to honor life’s moments, with people who you love. Take the stress out of the equation and you will be a natural!

Cheers you party animal you!

A Kitchen Island (DIY)

When we moved into the new condo we had a god awful 80’s kitchen with the white particle board cabinets, yes it had the wood trim. It was hainus. After a full remodel I realized we had an L shaped kitchen which needed to be grounded. We  renovated the kitchen on a budget, and so the island wasn’t in it.
I found a 36 in tall dresser. It was a sad peice and unfortunately I didn’t take the before picture. It was your standard wood dresser it was 34 inches wide which was perfect! I wanted to put butcher block on top but unfortunately the cheapest version would be $200.

I bought the dresser for $25. I painted it with Benjamin Moore “storm”, which was a semi blue grey.

  I attached 2 peices of would I found in the garage and sanded them down so it had the look of butcher block without the price tag. I sanded them well and stained them with Minwax natural stain.

I then attached a peice of wood to the bottom of the dresser so that it was all flat. I needed to have a flat bottom to attach the wheels properly.

The wheels were $4.00. I would suggest wheels with built in stoppers so that when you pull out a drawer it doesn’t wiggle the whole peice.

  We had beedboard leftover from our bathroom update so I simply cut two peices to fit and nailed them into place. I later caulked the seem at the top and down the side where the two peices of beedboard meet so it looked seemless.

I painted the beedboard the same white as the cabinets, Benjamin Moore “chalk”. It was an eggshell finish.


Finally I attached these pretty knobs so it gave it a little Moroccan flare. I bought these at home goods for $4.00 for 4 so it was $8.00 total.

After it was completed:


It was perfect!!! It was a charming rustic touch and the total cost was $41.00, but I also had some of the materials. If I were to estimate the cost having none of the materials in advance. It would probably be closer to $100. I was pleased with the turn out. I later attached hooks to the side closest to the refrigerator for towels and spatulas and thing of that nature. I put the trash can below the longer wood end so when I cut up vegetables I sweep them right into the trash.

Another tip: make sure after a few days to polyurethane the top of the wood so that water marks and stains don’t compromise the wood.

It’s not butcher block but it’s still pretty!! A word of advice for those of you that don’t know, butcher block is not as susceptible water, germs etc because of the density of the wood. The propose of butcher block would be in lieu of a cutting board. This material is not meant for cutting directly on but it’s astetics make for a soft warm grounding in this L shaped kitchen.

A Ottoman Project (DIY)

 

I made a coffee table into an ottoman, this was one of my first projects and it set the bar high for me.

I started by finding a cheap but durable coffee table from a second hand store. $40 was what I spent..

I wanted my ottoman tufted so I drilled holes in the table (9 total), before doing anything else.

This step is annoying simply because you have to measure equal measurements so that your peice is symmetrical.

After drilling the holes in the table I realized that the sides had a sort of trim which would stick out and be a huge bruising situation if not addressed properly. I squared off the sides by using plywood to create a smoother edge, much less dangerous for knees and clumsy people such as myself.

I then cut the 5 inch foam which was very overpriced at Joanne fabrics, make sure you bring a coupon.

I made sure to cut the foam so that it was flush with the table.
Then you simply spray an adhesive spray on the table top wood and stick your foam on carefully. Give it about a minute to dry.


Now comes the batting. It looks like the fluff that comes out of your pillow but it makes a big difference.

Roll out the batting on the floor so it’s flat and place your table, with foam attached top side down on top of it.

You can now gently pull the batting to wrap it and then staple (with a staple gun) under the table. No one is looking under the table so it doesn’t need to be perfect but it does need to be tight enough so don’t pull too hard so it rips but keep it secure.

You are basically wrapping it as if it were a present.

  
As you can see it is wrapped and secured and staples are under side.

Now comes the exciting part. The fabric! If you are like me you want a pattern and that’s great but make sure you are extra careful when placing the fabric because if it’s crooked… You will not be happy.

Follow a line that is the easiest way.
When you are securing the fabric attach one side and then pull the parallel side and secure it before doing the perpendicular side. This way everything stays secure, but don’t pull too tight or tufting will not be an option.

The corners are tricky but you just want to pretend you are wrapping a present and fold them uniformly so each corner will look the same, and staple under the table

Going around the legs is tricky but I’m sure if you’ve gotten this far that you can dig it right.

Now for the tufting. This part requires two people. Flip your now fully stapled ottoman on its side.

**Make sure your thread is through the needle so the thred is double length.

Remember those holes we drilled in the begining… Take a large sewing needle preferably 8-10 inches. Using fishing line or a strong vinyl thread, thread your needle, go through the center hole of your ottoman being careful to go straight through once you’ve gotten it through and it’s straight you can thred your button on.

The button can be a fabric one, you buy the kits for those, and they are a pain but they look nice, or any button you want.

So you have your giant needle through and you have a button, thred the needle through the button hole and you can cut the thread to release the needle keeping the two peices of thread together tie a knot  to secure the thread to your button. This step is crucial because you must make sure that the thread is doubled on the button knot but also that the thred is doubled through to the other side because the tufting is literally being held by a thred.

Now you need a partner. One person pushes the button into the foam and the other pulls the thread tight on the other side, and places a staple on the back near the drilled hole. The staple should be lose enough to thread but tight enough so that is is secured. I did more than one staple after tying it to the first.


Let me tell you that tufting is a bitch, there’s no sugar coating it. You pull you push you secure it and you just get frustrated, but once you do one, even though you want to give up don’t! It’s worth it!


Now 8 tufts later aren’t you glad you didn’t just do one!


It is now a chic peice of fabulous furniture… You made it, sweat, tears…  and hopefully no blood… But it’s perfect and it would have cost close to $500 for a comparable size and pattern. For about a $100. Good work!

Now you can reupholster anything! You don’t have to necessarily tuft everything but at least you have the skills!
Bravo and cheers!

One Man’s Trash…is Another’s Fixture

This is the chandelier I found burried in a pile of junk. I saw a diamond in the rough (literally the gems were covered in “gook” and it was looking pretty rough). When I showed my friend who is in renovations the old chandelier… She said and I quote “Oh wow that really was a price of shit”.

Needless to say it wasn’t when I was done with it. 
First I took off all the gems and soaked them in dishsoap and hot water, and scrubbed the scum off.

I then took an extension cord and cut off the peice where you would plug in a lamp or charger or whatever into it, and attached the two wires to the exposed wires at the top of the chandelier.

This would be best done by a licensed electrician, and probably what you should start with, if you aren’t sure the fixture actually works…The reason I did this was to test if it actually worked. Luckily it did so no re-wiring was needed. 
I took off the cylinders which held the bulbs and spray painted them with a “rubbed bronze” spray paint.

I then taped the top of each insert where the lightbulb would go so no paint would get in.

Then I sprayed the whole peice with the rubbed bronze spray paint being careful not to get too close, as thatt will cause the  spray paint to run. 12 inches is a good distance.

  I placed the cylinders back into place.
This is the color in the light.

 As you can see, this really needed some love…
This is after….

  I then attached the crystals in their respective hole hooks.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to leave  just the top or just the candle like cylinders with gems but once I started I put them all on and it was beautiful!!!   Finally we had an electrician wire it into a dimmer switch because neither joe nor I want to worry about wiring incorrectly. It could be wired to a switch easily but I did enough beautifying and felt like leaving the wiring and mounting to a pro. I also wanted to make sure it was up to code and correct so there were no fire hazards.
So I took a free chandelier and a can of spray paint and made a vintage relic look up to date, and I found comparable light fixtures in the $200-400 range….

Saving money is always a plus but knowing that I made it beautiful, is a constant reminder of all the possibilities out there.

Up cycling really solves two basic problems, saving money, and second saving our planet from another piece of senseless trash. This is the happy ending I love when doing these projects. Mindfulness is so important to our future, and to our home.

For me, I like to look at things and give them life again, I don’t consider myself a hoarder by any means but if it can be reused I think it should. With a little imagination and a lot of love, anything can rework in your home and the bonus is bragging rights!!

How an Old Chair Became French

Step 1. Find your chair

   This chair needed the legs tightened, some new fabric and a lighter color paint or stain.

Step 2. Pop off the chair seat and pick a fabric that you like. I chose a patterned blue and white fabric to give a French country flare.

Step 3. Place the fabric on the floor and the seat faced down so that the underneath part is facing toward the ceiling.

Step 4. Take a staple gun ****carefully**** and staple the fabric to the back of the chair seat. You want it to be tight enough to hold its form but lose enough so that you don’t rip it when you sit.  Cut any excess fabric from the edges and check your seat to make sure it has no lose corners.

If you find one side is pulling more than the other you can simply tighten the other side and stapling again. The process is very forgiving so give yourself a little credit.

Drink some wine too that helps me.

 The seat is right side up here in step 4 the seat should be side down.

Step 5. Sand any varnish off your chair frame using a hand sander or a sand block. If there isn’t a shiny varnish you can get away with lightly sanding instead of going down to the grain.

Let it fully dry and apply a second coat of paint. I used behr paint and primer for this one but you can use any paint you want, chalk paint is very popular because it goes on even and you don’t need too much of it.

Step 6. This is optional, you can distress the edges if you like that look by gently sanding along the corner of the chair legs and making a few strokes along the middle, not too symmetrically though because you want it to look naturally vintage and not forced.

Step 7 is place your set on top of the completed frame and you can either glue it in or screw it in depending on the chair itself, if the chair has drilled holes for screws, utilize them if not, glue will do.

Ta da buds and gals you did it, you made an ugly old chair beautiful again!


Now celebrate by sitting in your new chair proudly!