Tuesday, November 22, 2016

holiday decorating tips for hipsters

Thank you to Coastal Connecticut Magazine for inviting me to share ideas on how to cozy-up to winter decorating. Find the original article at coastalconnecticut.com

Ah, the holiday season. The fervor, the sweaters, the panic, the joy, the aftermath—and it all moves faster than a high-speed Acela. Oddly enough, once the New Year rolls around, everyone is ready for winter to end but, really, that’s when it gets cranking. Less daylight hours and unpredictable forecasts tend to keep many of us hunkered down at home after dark (that’s 4:30 p.m. to you and me). So, embrace a little hibernation with what we’re calling holiday decorating tips for hipsters. They actually work, and they are pretty hip.

Add Shine
Boost your surroundings with a little sheen. Indulge in a few glitzy objects you might normally shy away from such as a sequined pillow, bejeweled picture frame, or silver plate chargers. Think beyond red, green, and blue when pairing metallic finishes and instead play with updated mixes such as teal with zinc, silver with aqua for icy coastal chic, or be exotic with purple and gold. Other conscious couplings include platinum and pink, tin with evergreen, and copper with apple. Need inspiration? Look at jewelry to see what you like best.

Sweater Weather
‘Tis the season to get cozy, so be sure to have plenty of textures around. Introduce heavier weights and velvety fabrics into the mix in the form of throws and pillows. Even if you’re not a knitter, you can add homespun appeal over a fireplace, radiator, or window by fashioning a quirky swag from mismatched mittens clipped along a length of yarn. Keep toes warm by scattering and layering fluffy area rugs. Spoil yourself with something faux-furry.

Lighten Up
Nothing elicits magic faster than strings of lights. Inexpensive and in a range of colors and sizes, add them wherever you want to infuse a bit of enchantment. No tree? No problem. Drape lights around a mirror or wall art. Suspend them from ceilings using low-tack tape, outline doorways, and use to fill a large glass bowl or vase. Create drama with red lights, add an old-time glow with gold, or get kitschy and use colored bulbs meant for small, sad trees coveted by boys wearing zigzag sweaters indoors.

Red It
Nothing sets a holiday mood faster than some strokes of red. It’s also a color that can change moods faster than a hungry teenager. Some no-fail combinations:
Red + Brown = Log Cabin
Red + Grey = Stylish
Red + Gold = Victorian
Red + Green = Traditional
Red + Green + a Primary Pastel = Modern Retro
Red + Ivory or White = Scandinavian
Red + Orange = Warmth
Red + Powder Blue = Nautical
Red + Purple = Regal

Get Reflective
It’s been said that a room without a mirror is like an outfit without jewelry. And who needs that? Try bringing in mirrors of varying sizes. If you’re commitment-phobic about hanging things, lean mirrors and even layer a few to bring light and movement to any space. Think outside the tree and hang shiny ornaments from drawer pulls. Mirrored disco-ball ornaments are especially fun when positioned near light sources.

Go the utilitarian route while engaging all of your senses with a strategic trip to the farmer’s market. Construct stunning displays using pomegranates, artichokes and cheerful clementine oranges. Fill large bowls with nuts and keep fresh herbs in small vases. Think of cranberries as an embellishment and use them to dot frosted cakes, freeze into ice cubes, or if you have enough patience, string them the old fashioned way with a long needle and thread.

Brown Paper Packages
Bag the tablecloth and unfurl a sheet of packaging or butcher paper to cover tables. Fill sugar bowls with crayons—especially striking in a singular color or range—as part of your winter-long table setting and enjoy some calming doodling. Boxes of crayons in singular colors are now available at some Hallmark stores and online retailers. Likewise, make indoor luminaries by placing electric votive candles inside lunch bags.

Scavenger Hunt
Before it’s time to completely hibernate, take a walk in the woods or along the shoreline to gather natural elements. You’d be surprised at how much fun getting grade-school crafty can be. Spray-paint your finds in a vibrant color followed by a coating of glue and a roll in glitter; shake-off excess and hang from matching ribbon or use to assemble impressive displays. Find a friend who has bittersweet overtaking their backyard and snip some of the gnarly-pretty stuff and display across long, narrow spaces.

Cabin Chic
Whether it’s Tartan or Prince Charles or Prince Edward, plaid conjures casual, rustic appeal. Use a favorite flannel as your guide to selecting rugged colors to bring into your winter design plan. Got a worn shirt too ratty to donate? Chop off the sleeves and cut to fit over empty tin cans, fasten with twine and use to hold cutlery or flowers. Position the body of the shirt to cover a pillow and secure with hook and loop tape, or get snippy and tear strips for use as napkin holders.

Have a Ball
Sometimes the dream of a White Christmas just isn’t meant to be, but don’t let that dash your spirit. Add your own flurry of white by hot-gluing clear fishing line to cotton balls and hanging from inside window sills, or fold white paper doilies in half and suspend over a line of white string to create a simple bunting.

Get Tropical
Have yourself a Caribbean-inspired hibernation and warm up your digs with hot colors. Still go for the luxurious fabrics for pillows and throws, but skip the muted tones and opt instead for vibrant analogous sprinklings of pinks, oranges, yellows, and turquoise. Seek ornaments in this colorway and make paper chains from paper strips of candy dots or decorative paper meant for scrapbooking.


happy thanksgiving wishes!


Sunday, November 13, 2016

how a dollhouse can become your own design board

An open back allows all to peek right in.An open back allows all to peek right in.
Thank you to Romantic Homes for the opportunity to share about the Tinkered Dollhouse with a guest post; you may also view it at the Romantic Homes blog.

Projects that I’ve dog-eared in magazines or “hearted” on Pinterest are sometimes more aspirational in nature than practical due to cost and structural concerns. But then there’s the dollhouse. The wooden folk Victorian discovered curbside one Trash Eve. Once the interior was washed and primed in white, I had a blank canvas on which to experiment with any design vision I pleased.

Armed with my tinkerer’s credo of foregoing notions of perfection, I didn’t concern myself with scale. I also decided from the start that most furnishings would be hand-made using the simplest of tools and supplies. I happily tasked myself with constructing things such as a bed and couch from craft sticks, an easel from toothpicks, a wall clock from a bottle cap, and a chandelier from twist-ties and beads. I also decorated a few unfinished wood pieces, even papering buttons into dishes.

Sit right down and have a little something.Sit right down and have a little something.
While I admire miniaturists who have painstakingly taken on things such as installing floor tiles piece by piece, I went with a trompe l’oeil approach and used print-outs of favorite things as accents. Features such as the white-washed brick wall, bead board, even a patterned rug, are all simply paper. I replaced the yellowed plastic windows with dotted vellum from the scrap-booking aisle, and skipped fixing a broken riser on the spiral staircase as an homage to my own beloved home with its own list of overlooked repairs.

Before starting each room I considered ideas I’d always wanted to try and the dollhouse began to serve as my own three-dimensional design board. A pink wall, a collage wall, a patchwork wall … they’re now all in the dollhouse. Floral-papered stair risers, a fireplace in the bedroom, floral wallpaper! With the dollhouse, I can truly DIM (do it myself). Install white-washed brick in the bedroom? Done.

A queen size bed is the best fit of courseA queen size bed is the best fit of course.
There are a few miniature pieces like the coffee cup with saucer and spoon given to me by my husband as my talk of bringing the dollhouse upstairs from the basement became a regular topic of conversation. The wooden chair in the dining room is mine from childhood – it belonged to a set where a hollow wooden apple in two parts became a table connected by a stem. Small wineglasses are from my youngest son’s enormous collection of Playmobil toys. Charms, ornaments, tiny favors, and other bits and bobs all add up to lovely little sentimental decor.

With the inside pretty much finished, I’m beginning to set my sights on the exterior. I’m perusing houses in Martha’s Vineyard, MA and Cape May, NJ for inspiration. Once again my research is all about the wish list which means there will be window boxes – perhaps made from craft sticks and most likely filled with vintage millinery forget-me-nots – and the dusk blue color will likely be changed to pink or yellow. And just like that, I can change the color of the house.

Essential Tinkering ToolsEssential Tinkering Tools
See how it all began right here.
Thanks for reading!