Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thankful Table

I started writing this post, with all the negative, funny, cynical things that families and friends go through during the holiday know....the family dynamics come out in full force. There's the over-served, the under-served, the under-the-table, the competitive grandparents or deep rivalry between siblings.....But, this year I'd like to focus on the true meaning of thankfulness. Let's have a Happy Days Thanksgiving! Let's let the Cunninghams take over and have some good old fashioned "family fun". (My husband always teases me about always wanting family fun, like an old re-run on TV). Well, I'm certainly going to give it a shot, and at the very least, my table will be thankful (and our bellies).

There were a lot of beautiful ideas for Thanksgiving this year, (not like Halloween, yuck).  The merchandisers had great table settings this year and nice ideas for flowers, napkins, place cards and other decorations. I decided to take a mono-chromatic color scheme.

When we moved to Charlotte, I told myself I wasn't going to unpack all of my dishes, which is really killing me. I miss my china, and some of my special plates. But I did NOT cave. I am using my everyday, Heath plates, handed down from my mom. I love them and they are the perfect color for an earthy Thanksgiving setting.

To glam it up, I am using some bronze touches here and there. I have bronze/mercury votives that I will intersperse throughout the table.
I love using lots of votives.

I also love the idea of the huge hurricanes, brimming with lots of beautiful fillers, pomegranates, nuts, cranberries, kumquats, you name it.
"Is that you over there Aunt Louise???? I can't see you over the huge mound of fruit!!"

But who can see each other over these mountains???? Inevitably, someone ends up moving the hurricane, and then my heart starts palpitating. you know how long it took me to figure out which nut went in what place and where exactly to place the glass??? Just use the hurricanes for other areas. I usually keep it low on the table.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Botox For Your Bedside Table

Plain and simple, some of our oldie-but-goodies need a little shine, a new coat of paint, a little refinishing. Now more than ever, we are refurbishing all of our old furnishings and giving them a lift. Why should our faces be the only things that get a pick me up.


As I look around the house and see what needs to be done, I see a lot that can be professionally the living room sofa with lumpy cushions, leather chairs that my kids have carved their names in, (ouch!) my nightstands that we inherited from a grandmother who had very good taste in antiques (unfortunately they need some love, they are extremely warn in spots). But there are some simple things you can do yourself that can make a huge difference. I am sure each and every one of you are thinking of a few items that need a makeover, or at least a microdermabrasion.

I'll start with a lamp in my kitchen that I HATE!!! It's the standard  pendant light you get in a new home. Alabaster, with a brass chain. Not my favorite, doesn't go with my decor.
I'd like to replace it, but we are renting and I'm torn between waiting for something really special that costs a fortune, or buying a cheaper alternative and probably having to live with it forever......what if I spent little to nothing and "doctor" it up.
This is the original lamp. Pretty ain't it?
My first idea was to buy a paper lantern sort of reminiscent of a Nelson Bubble lamp. I had one in my old house, and it's a classic look that works well in contemporary/Asian influenced homes.

This would be a dream kitchen for me with multiple bubble lamps. Love it!
This is the Nelson Bubble lamp
This is the Cost Plus paper lantern.
I found one for 7 bucks, can't beat that. My strategy was to cut the paper lantern up the side slip it around the glass shade and then re-seal the paper "some-how". I didn't really think things through, and in the course of shoving it over the glass, ripped the thing....whoops. Well, there goes that idea. An acid peel gone awry.

My next idea came from the latest trend in lighting. The drum pendant is really hot right now, and textural pendants are even hotter.

 I have been seeing inspiration from other designers as well.

I thought I could easily achieve this look by purchasing a large enough basket to slip over the glass.....done. Well, I have found that finding a basket that has a big enough diameter around, but short enough in height to look like a drum is harder to come by. I had found a few, thinking I could manipulate the basket once I cut out the bottom, but it also wasn't so easy. Even these weren't big enough. The ones I did find that could work cost as much as an actual lamp.

I bought this basket for 7 bucks on clearance. It actually is a laundry basket, but turned upside down, it could make a nice looking drum pendant.
I successfully cut the bottom of the basket out, but couldn't fit it over the glass shade. When I measured it at the store, it was 1/2 inch shy of the diameter it needed to clear, but I thought once I cut out the bottom it would be easy to manipulate. NOT!
 Then about a week ago, I was in Pier One looking for a basket (not giving up my pipe dream of achieving my "brilliant idea on a dime") when I ran across a really cool pendant, for $99.00. It's a plug in, but when you have a handy family member (in my case, my bro) that can convert it to a direct wire, then it's done deal.
My brother is super handy, and a total sweetheart for doing stuff like this for me!

Love the light fixture, just wish I could repaint!!!
Instant makeover. The kitchen nook area completely changed it's look by changing out one element.

Although I wasn't able to achieve the look by being a crafting genius, (I'm still disappointed in that fact, but I've never boasted about being handy), I was able find a cost effective alternative, that I can see using even in a secondary area in a different house. One word of advice, never sacrifice look with cheap and ugly. It's only a success when you save some money and it looks like a billion dollars!!! (Have you seen Meg Ryan's lips lately!!!)

The next piece that I've been wanting to refresh is a table in my daughter Sydney's room. Think back to my first blog entry, princess room, lots of floral and pink. Well, she's had the table passed on to her from her brother, and it's seen some better days.
This picture actually makes the table look good, I should have taken a close u of all the scratches, chips, and rings.
I just wanted to update it a bit, and put a girly touch to it. So, we simply repainted it a brighter white, accented the turned legs with a little pink, picking up the darker raspberry color of her room.  Then I took it just a bit further. I purchased two unfinished trays from Michaels, 3 bucks a piece, finished them in the same white.

I ordered an extra pillowcase in the floral from her bedding and cut out two insets for the bottoms of the trays. Spray mounting the fabric to the bottom helps it flatten out nicely and also ensures that the fabric doesn't move. I had 11x14 picture glass cut to fit (Michaels did it for me for free) and placed them over the fabric. I think I spent about $20.00 on materials. That was it, but it brought the room together, and rejuvenated a piece of furniture that need a little facial.

Tiff's Tip: Even in a children's bedroom, a plant or fresh flowers can make a room feel more sophisticated. My daughter is not yet four, but has learned to appreciate fresh flowers once in a while. It also helps children take care of a living thing, and learn to be careful and kind to our homes.

The last thing on my list for now are the two night tables I mentioned earlier. They were inherited from my husband's grandmother and have a beautiful simple design. Unfortunately they are heavily worn and are in need of a new finish. Especially at the top.

 My grand scheme was to strip them completely and really give them a major "face lift" but I was weary of doing it myself and ruining it. Aside from that, there are mixed feelings in the "antique world" about refinishing pieces that could be more valuable with all of it's worn spots. Before I go ahead and refinish the tables, I am going to consult with an antique dealer and find out what they are worth.

So.....I decided to give my tables a little....."enzyme treatment". After a little further research, I purchased a restoration oil, which strips the wax, not the finish, and cleans off all the dust and dirt that your piece may have accumulated.

I then added new hardware I had found from Anthropologie, which I felt modernized the tables without losing their classic style.
Arthurian oval knob, Anthropologie, $7.95 each
This shows the profile
(Make sure to keep the original hardware in a safe place. If you ever want to sell an antique, you will get the most value with the original finish and hardware.)

The tables are much shinier now. And I am embracing the imperfections.Think of these scratches as laugh lines. Sometimes a nice set of crows feet just reveals that you've had a lot to smile about.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tiff's Charlotte Discoveries: Sleepy Poet Antique Mall

It has been my goal since we moved to Charlotte to check out different design spots to familiarize myself with what this city has to offer. This week was filled with lots of exploration. It was pretty hard to narrow my ultimate pick, so I am sharing 3 great finds with all of you. Each place was different and delightful with a mix of high and low end goods.

My first stop was at the Sleepy Poet, which is located in the South End. Tucked away off a busy industrial like street, this antique emporium is a gold mine. There is a lot to look at, so devote a good chunk of time for roaming around. The people working there are extremely friendly. Even if you are not looking for anything in particular, this a great place to enjoy an afternoon. Very therapeutic. A friend of mine (Shout out to Kristen) who is having a baby, was looking for a dresser to put in a guest room which could be used in a nursery at some point, so we were keeping our eyes open for the perfect size, style, and price of course. I was easily distracted by all the Asian antiques, and have put a few things on my wish list (a long Asian style bench for the foot of my bed, two black end tables for my guest room, and a beautiful buffet for the dining room). Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of these items. (what was I thinking???) However, I did take some pics of some other great finds that I got a kick out of .
I love this ceramic lamp. The shade is great with the black rubbing.

I thought these candlesticks were great. If I had bought them I may have painted them another color, but I loved the chinese cutout design. This vendor is called Bamboo, a young woman from Palm Beach owns this booth. Great stuff.

These vintage prints were a little crazy, but I really like them. The pair of them were $34.00. Wish I got them now.

These side tables had an amazing shape, the finish was nice and I could see mixing them with a lot of different styles. If you look closely, you can see that they have planters in them, that could be really fun!
Ultimately my friend did not find the dresser, but will be back again to see if she'll get lucky and find the perfect piece. I think it's definitely possible here. As for me....of all the things that caught my eye, the item I ended up purchasing was a little black stand for 12 bucks for my one "happy" Buddha in the house. Now, he's really happy.                                                                                 

My second stop this week was in Cotswold. I hadn't even been to this part of Charlotte, so I was glad that my first experience in this part of town was so wonderful. I had noticed in the paper that Cotswold Marketplace had expanded their store, and I really wanted to check out what they had. This is a space I would take a client to, if they were looking for interesting, one of a kind pieces. It's definitely on the high end, pillows were in the $200.00 and up range. It depended on which section you were looking at. I found some interesting pieces of art with nests and eggs, which seem to be a reoccurring theme wherever I go (me thinks I need to design a nursery based on this theme)

These photos don't do the artwork justice. There is a lot of textures and they are framed beautifully
There were these fantastic shutters with a cut-out of the moon, also could be used in a nursery or even in a shabby chic setting. The finish was so pretty.

I also found two fantastic chairs. They were a pair of antique Asian lounge chairs in black lacquer. I liked the fabric, but I would probably reupholster them in something a little more "dirt-proof" if there is such a thing. I also thought the cost was reasonable as well, $600.00 for the pair.

I would highly recommend this store if you were looking for something special.

My last stop this week was at a place called City Art Works, which is located on the corner at Woodlawn and Park. My friend Sandy had been telling me all about it and I had to see what all the hoopla was all about. My experience was not only mesmerizing, it was magical.  As you came upon the store, there was an easel out front, whimsically decorated with beads and jewels, with an inset chalk board which said something like "Your husband called and said you can buy anything." I can't remember it verbatim, but it set the tone for me. I love anything with a sense of humor, they had me there.

Upon entering the store, my eyes were filled with so much to see. The store consists of custom jewelry from a vast array of vendors, some customizable pieces where you can pick different pendants and stones and then add the chain. They even have antique ribbons, which I love. They also have some artists featured on the walls, pottery and decorative art pieces, some candles and oils and special things for children. There was a great chandelier hanging which was so pretty. It has beads embellished on it. The artist takes salvaged lighting fixtures and embellishes them with beaded garland and other things. The picture does not show all the detail.
I don't think I can do this store justice by describing it, you'll just have to come in. All I can say is that I did not want to leave. Everything was displayed so beautifully, with so much love and care. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the owners, Susan Sloan-Lieb, and you could tell just speaking with her how much of her blood, sweat and tears went into making this store the treasure it is. Unfortunately I was so busy looking at all the "booty", I didn't take too many pictures. I managed to photograph a salvaged piece of art that I had become taken with.
When I read the quote on this salvaged piece of wood, I got goose bumps up my arm. I immediately thought of my husband. It's amazing how something so simple, almost childlike in execution, can have such an impact.
Well, I can say it was a successful week of discovery here in Charlotte. It definitely reassures me that art and design is alive and kicking in this unique city. Until next time.....