French Country Light Fixtures for the Farmhouse Dining Room

Pin It
French Country farmhouse style chandeliers and sconces with resources

In case you missed my little "confession" on the Serendipity Refined Facebook page this week, I hugged my UPS driver. Yes, I did.  I hugged him because he brought my new French country style chandeliers and sconces for the farmhouse dining room.  I admit it. I hugged him...with both arms...right outside of my front broad daylight...over light fixtures.

                                                                                                        I think that I startled the poor guy.

At least I waited for him to put the boxes down before I broke out my very best "I don't really know you but I'm hugging you anyway because a happy dance just isn't enough" bear hug.

After all, I hadn't completely lost my mind. I didn't want my lighting to end up damaged six feet from my front door because I was so darned excited that I couldn't contain myself.

The reason for my temporary loss of composure was that it took me a long time to decide on lighting for the dining room and I was over the moon when I finally ordered them and had them in my hands in less than a week.  Lighting for the dining room was a big decision for me because it involved three chandeliers and two wall sconces all in the same room.

You see, the farmhouse dining room used to be the ranch house living room in a prior life.  I wanted a space large enough to seat twenty to twenty four people for holiday dinner and this room fit the bill (after a few minor renvoations).  My new dining room is 29 feet long and 17 feet wide so space is certainly not an issue.

Heck, there's enough to seat twenty with room left over for a couple of small seating areas and the piano.

Yes, there will be a piano in my dining room because the farmhouse won't have a formal living room and most of the other spaces that I'm creating aren't meant to hold large groups of people excepting the kitchen (because I love to cook and my friends tend to congregate there) and the dining room.

You probably remember the largest chandelier from last year when we moved to the farmhouse and I decorated it with bittersweet.  It has been relocated to the new dining room and now it hangs directly above the table as it will about 85% of the time when we're not entertaining. 

However, when the table is fully extended,  and occupies 2/3 of the room,  the large chandelier will be over one "end" of the table. This didn't seem right to me so I added two smaller chandeliers hung closer to the ceiling, one at each end of the room for balance and to provide light when we have a large number of guests for dinner.

If you've noticed that there is no crown molding in the room, you're correct...there's also no base board and the windows will be replaced next month.  Those yellow pieces of tape in the photo above are the outside marks for the limestone fireplace surround that hopefully will be delivered today.

There's still a lot of work to be done in this room  but I love my new French country light fixtures. You may also be relieved to know that I was much more reserved yesterday when the UPS driver delivered the package with the last of the drapery hooks.  He was a little hesitant as he handed me the package but I just smiled politely and thanked him.

I sure hope that he recovers by the time my new bed linens arrive in four to six weeks!


Large chandelier: Horchow Salento 6 light
Sconces and small chandeliers: Lighting direct Quorum International Salento

How to Make Lavender-Infused Lemonade

Pin It
Lavender infused lemonade recipe by Serendipity Refined

I'm celebrating the first few real days of summer by making lemonade. You won't find me selling this lemonade at a roadside stand, however. This lemonade is a little different that lemonade stand lemonade;  a little more "grown up". It's a mix of lemons and limes and it's infused with (what else?)
 (if you know me, this really comes as no surprise..does it!?)

Farmhouse Updates: Eleven Months Later

Pin It

Just about eleven months ago (really? it has been almost a year!?), I lost my mind took a leap of faith.  A giant stepping off of a cliff. Sometimes, you've just got to have faith that things will work out the way that they're meant to.  So, when  we sold the home that I designed and we new built twelve years ago and downsized to a 65 year old red brick ranch which had been vacant for nearly two years, I just knew that it would be okay...even though about half of our belongings would be in storage for over a year and the crawl space beneath the bedrooms periodically filled with water.

During the past eleven months, we've taken care of the water issues in the crawlspace, I've stripped wallpaper and painted the entire inside of the house. I hung a couple of light fixtures in the kitchen  and painted the cabinet in the bathroom just to make things livable.  I had new hardwood flooring installed in the former "living room" in preparation for storing all of our furniture in this room during construction and the shed in the back yard got new window boxes and some shutters because it looked sad and I look out my window at it every day. It'll get new siding when we re-side the house in the fall but at least it's a little more cheery to look at.

Those are the "upgrades" that have been accomplished to date. They're minimal for a reason:  I don't believe in spending money on things that will be demolished during Phase 2 of the renovation. This means that living here has been a lot like camping...without the sleeping bags or guitar music.

The remainder of my "free time" has been spent doing a little demolition... and planning.  I started working with a wonderful architect named Dennis Parsons last fall on what I've been referring to as "Phase 2" of the renovation. This is the part of the renovation where the house will finally start to look like a farmhouse and I'll have windows that open and a kitchen with an oven that works.  The laundry room will move out of the basement and I'll have a functional studio in which to paint furniture, weave, sew, and do all of the other stuff that I've been doing all over the house for the last year.

Due to the Village Zoning Ordinance that was in place until July 15th, 2014, the garages and stable hall would not have been able to be built where I wanted them located on the property and, rather than abandon my original vision for this project, I decided to wait.

See the little yellow piece of the garage in the photo below? That is the five feet that I chose to wait for.  Without it, the house didn't line up with the garages and my courtyard wasn't a courtyard (at least not to me) because the walls weren't straight..

Over the winter and early spring, I've  had many meetings with the village zoning board and planning committee and was told that (luckily for me), they would be amending the setback ordinance for our village in the spring of 2014. I was willful enough willing to take the time to see what happened instead of changing my original design.  As a result of that decision, everything was delayed....for about eight months until the new ordinance took effect in mid-July.

During that time, Dennis (my architect) patiently worked with me while the guest rooms changed locations three times, the master bedroom moved to the other side of the house and I messed with the exterior trim detail on every single elevation of the house to make them NOT match each other. The original four pages of drawings rapidly became a stack of paper and tissue and I'm pretty certain that we were on revision "AA" before it was over. Without boring you with the details, the buildings can now be placed on the property as I had originally hoped,  the five feet is no longer an issue, and my poor architect will probably save a fortune on printer paper now that I'm no longer finessing the design and moving bedrooms. 

Another benefit to the delay was that I got to really  know this house...all of it.  From the drainage issues in the back yard to the ice on the electric outlets in the bathroom this winter. The delay also gave us time to save money by removing the existing landscaping and the retaining wall from around the patio ourselves rather than hiring someone to do it ("remove" is kind of a loose term because one day I pushed on it with my foot because it was leaning and it literally fell apart into the lawn).

During the first few months, the delays and bad workmanship at this house had me more than a little frustrated. However, now that we're only a few weeks away from construction, I'm thankful...

                                                                                               Yes, you read that correctly. I'm thankful. 

Thankful that my son will be safely back at college when the roof comes off and his bedroom becomes a part of the family room.  Thankful that we didn't have our home open to the elements during one of the rainiest spring and early summer's that I can remember. Thankful that I had time to rehab my son's apartment and help my sister with a couple of projects at her house.

I've also learned to be thankful for the less than stellar workmanship which means that the patio blocks that used to form the retaining wall will be able to be re-used as a new patio because they weren't glued together and that the layers of flooring were only nailed and not glued which made them easier to remove. Candidly, I'm hopeful that we'll find more things that will make demolition easier when we begin to tear down interior walls and the builder removes the roof.

So, while things haven't gone as I expected, they're actually turning out pretty well.  I didn't have to hire a lawyer to seek a variance to the code which would have been expensive and  I've had the luxury of several months to find things like my bathtub and sink on Craigslist.

Final revisions to the plans are complete and I'll share the drawings in detail just as soon a I have blueprints.  Here's hoping that the permit process moves quickly and that we have a long, hot, DRY autumn here in least until they get the roof back on.

Thanks for your words of encouragement and for sticking with me,  it's been one heck of a ride so far...and this portion of the journey to turn my 50's ranch into a French farmhouse is only beginning!


Make Yourself At Home: Rehab at My Sister's

Pin It

 If you follow along on the Serendipity Refined Facebook Page, then you know that I'm spending a few days at my sister's home this week helping her with a few rehab projects.  She's got a week off from her job and decided to make the most of it...

                                                                         by updating the entire first floor of her five days.

It's like Extreme Makeover...without hundreds of blue-shirted neighbors coming to assist or Nate Berkus...without Nate.  We've been fearless rehabbers and we've taken on a whole variety of projects this week, including some that I've never done before like cutting marble tile for the fireplace surround but so far, it's going really well.

We're now on a first name basis with most of the friendly folks at the paint store and the home improvement's almost like being famous... only on a much smaller scale. To put it in perspective for you, I figure that the reach  of our fame is about 12 people

                                                                                                .....and all of them are related to us.

Of course, when my sister phoned a week ago to tell me about her plan, I was so excited that I couldn't wait to show up and figure out a way to take over her projects help.  On the schedule: new solid surface flooring in the kitchen, mudroom, laundry room and bath and new carpet in the dining room, great room, master bedroom and bath.  The flooring is being done by the pros.

On our list of projects to complete in four days: painting the laundry room, mud room and kitchen. Installing new marble around the fireplace, installing glass mosaic back splash in the kitchen, changing the hardware on the kitchen cabinets. new switch and outlet covers and a rehab of the storage in the laundry room.

I laughed right out loud when I arrived at her home Monday evening after work. The sight of her range in the garage beside her washer and dryer and all of the doors from the first floor made me smile.  When I saw the kitchen table and fridge in the great room next to the sofa I looked at her and said, "Oh my gosh, you didn't have to go through all of this trouble just to make me feel like I never left home." 
Given the state of things at the farmhouse, having to spend a few minutes locating the fridge before being able to have cereal in the morning really isn't a big deal but at her house, it's not a normal occurrence. I forget that sometimes. 

In the last 72 hours, we've finished 90% of the painting, installed marble on the fireplace, installed 2/3 of the glass back splash tile (back to the home improvement center for more mortar), changed the hardware on about 1/2 of the cabinets (another trip to the home improvement center for longer screws).

The solid surface flooring is installed and carpet will be installed today. (Oh, did I mention that we my sister and brother in law had to move four rooms of furniture before the carpet could be installed?) After that, we can grout the fireplace. 

We've got about 36 hours left to finish the back splash, install new storage in the laundry room, finish the cabinet hardware and do the touch ups in the kitchen. It's a whirlwind and it has been so much fun doing this stuff with my sister and niece.  I forget how much I miss being around them. More updates next week...right now, I've got to run to the home improvement center!


DIY Giant Free Standing Paper flowers on Pipe Stems.

Pin It
Giant Free Standing Paper Flowers on Conduit Stems Tutorial

If you're looking for cheap and easy decor for a party or outdoor wedding or reception that will make a BIG statement...consider making some of these giant flowers! As promised when I shared the yellow black and white summer storefront window that I created at the shop last week, today I'm showing you how to  DIY  the giant free standing paper flowers on electric conduit pipe stems that I used in the display.

The process for making the flowers is pretty simple. To make the "petals",  make two stacks with 7 sheets of newspaper in each.  Accordion  fold the stacks of paper with each fold about 1 1/2 inches wide.  After folding, place the stacks side by side and  wrap two pieces  of 12 inch long floral wire around the center, twisting once. Cut the ends so that they are rounded for about 2 inches.

To make the centers, accordion fold 4 sheets of tissue paper and cut them in half (enough for two flower centers). Wrap a single piece of 12 inch floral wire around the center of the accordion then cut the ends into "strips" being careful not to cut all the way through the center (I left about an inch in the middle). After cutting the strips, either separate or "scrunch" them with your fingers until they look messy and fluffy.

Add the tissue paper piece to the center of the folded flower petals by twisting the wire around the petals once.

Carefully fan out the petals and begin to fluff them by pulling them toward the center, one piece at a time, working your way around the flower until all layers are separated.

Giant Free Standing Paper Flowers on Conduit Stems Tutorial

Adjust as needed.  Next, form the stems by cutting electrical conduit pipe to different lengths (mine range in length from 3 feet to 6 feet).  Bend the top of the pipe into a gentle arch using a conduit bender or by standing on the pipe and pulling gently on the end to bend it upwardworking your way slowly down about 1/4 the pipe.  Add a bend in the center if you're adding leaves.

At the curved end of the stem, attach a 1 1/2 inch screw connector. To this, add 4 inch blank octagonal plate with the center punched out and attach it with a locknut.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Kelly's husband, Patrick is an electrician.  I explained what I wanted and he put these together for me but it IS an easy DIY. You can find all of the parts at your local home improvement center.

Last, make a base out of 2x4 wood. Cut two pieces that are 12 to 14 inches long. Form an X. add two 4 to 5 inch long blocks beneath the upper "arm" to stabilize. Glue or nail the base together. Drill a hole through the center to accept the conduit (I used 3/4").

Wire the paper flower to the plate and fasten securely. (You may also want to glue the flower to the plate, I am going to re-use the "stems" so mine are wired on).

Place the flower in the base (add leaves if desired) and wrap the plate and the stem in plastic wrap.  Tape the plastic wrap into place at the bottom where the stem meets the base.

Giant Free Standing Paper Flowers on Conduit Stems Tutorial
Stand a few in your living room...or driveway...or use them to decorate your shop...or party.  

Giant Free Standing Paper Flowers on Conduit Stems Tutorial

 These giant paper flowers are an easy and  inexpensive way to decorate for a party or wedding. They can be made out of tissue paper, newsprint, fabric, or even plastic table cloths.  You'll see these giant flowers again, I promise. I've already got plans to change them for fall...and maybe winter!   Oh...and don't you think that  they'd make fabulous giant daffodils in the spring!?


Small Space Kitchen Contemporary Makeover Reveal

Pin It

When I sat down to write this post about the renovation of the kitchen at the apartment, I typed "it really wasn't that bad"...and then I thought, Really!? Not that bad!?!?!?  Let's recall the fact that during a winter several years ago when the apartment was vacant,  a window was left open and one of the pipes froze and burst.  Remember that when the plumbing repair was done, they drywalled and put joint compound over the wallpaper?! Oh YEAH...that......sigh.

If you saw the apartment bathroom renovation reveal, by now you know that there's a recurring theme of repairs done poorly or not at all and, in case you wondered...the kitchen was more of the same.

After I removed the chair rail, my son spent the better part of an afternoon removing as much of the wallpaper as he could without doing further damage to the wall. With the wallpaper removed, I patched and sanded...and patched some more... until the walls were tolerable...far from perfect... but better.

When I removed the layers of DUCT TAPE and pink foam insulation  from around the air conditioner in preparation for replacing the A/C unit, I found mold...yeah...mold...due to trapped moisture which had formed because water was getting in from the outside and being trapped by the duct tape.

To repair it, I cut out a section of the wall on the interior and the exterior, reframed the opening for the A/C unit in pressure treated lumber,  then re-insulated, repaired the wall on both the exterior (with caulk to seal the edges) and interior. On the inside, I put up molding to cover the edges. I haven't found a good way to camouflage the A/C unit without impairing the airflow so for now, this is as good as it gets.

The kitchen cabinets and hardware are original to the unit.  We unbolted them from the wall, I removed the scroll-y  piece that used to be above the sink from the smallest cabinet then, sanded and painted all of the cabinets and re-installed them. I was able to  add one 36 inch cabinet by moving all of the cabinets up to the ceiling and to the left corner in a new configuration.

The counter top and sink are also original  but we replaced the faucet, drain, trap...and, of course, the shut off valves because they were leaking...just like those in the bathroom.

Because we moved the cabinets, we had to extend the ceramic tile up to the new cabinet height and, while I was at it (and since the tile was literally THIRTEEN CENTS per tile), I also tiled to the edge of the range which with my careful planning as luck would have it, actually lined up with the upper cabinet. (Don't tell anyone that I didn't plan it this way.) I also sawed out the old blue grout and replaced it with Graphite Gray.

We removed 2 layers of flooring and installed new wood grain laminate. Not an easy job but SO worth it! I painted the steel fire door and added a chalkboard which I framed with some oak trim that was stained to match the rest of the wood in the apartment which isn't painted.

We installed Ikea shelving and purchased a movable kitchen unit to extend the work surface into the "eating area"  as well as a butcher's block  island which gives him a place to sit and another worksurface. As of now, my son now has a fully functional kitchen with enough storage and work surface to be able to prepare meals.  Heck, now that I finally got the oven clean, I may go over his place to do some baking...he's actually got a nicer oven than I do!


Trim and Cabinet Color: Benjamin Moore
Wall color:Sherwin Williams White Matte
Laminate Flooring: Pergo
Island, Movable Kitchen cabinet, shelving and utensil holders: Ikea
Towels: Target
Striped Placemat on island and Wire Fruit Bowl: Pottery Barn
Kitchen Rug: Bed Bath and Beyond
Light Fixture: Home Depot

We've still got artwork to hang but I'm so excited that I wanted you to see how far the kitchen remodel has come in the last couple of weeks! We're building some shelving for the living space (living room/bedroom combination because this is an efficiency) and then I'll do a final reveal of of the entire space.