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.