Stripping Wallpaper and the Winners of the Giveaway!

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I learned a thing or three about stripping wallpaper last week.  Remember this photo? No?

Well, there's probably a reason. Maybe, like me, you're trying to block the image from your memory.  Not that pink, blue, and brown floral on an age-yellowed background with oak chair rail which was badly installed in 8 foot sections where the seams didn't quite meet is entirely bad....

                                                                                            Oh heck, who am I kidding!? It was awful!

And, it was everywhere...every wall...floor to ceiling. At first, I thought that I'd strip the wallpaper, then, I decided to simply paint over it...with primer. I started to paint it. I got about 4 feet above the chair rail on the two largest walls then, in a fit of conscience, I decided that but couldn't go through with it.

How to Add an Electrical Plug to a Wall Mounted Light Fixture

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Today, I'm going to show you how to convert a wall mounted light fixture into one with an electric plug on it so that it can be plugged into the wall.  Last Saturday night at around ten p.m., as I was leaving the French Farm House to go "home" to my current house, I tripped over a box trying to make it from the dining room, through the breezeway mudroom to the studio garage.

French Farm House Update: Refinishing Hardwood Floors

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You probably wonder what I've been doing with my time. To be honest, I have days where I wonder the same thing...that, and where in the heck the time goes! Even though I don't have any finished rooms to share just yet, I thought that I'd give you a little update on what's happening at the French Farm House Project.

First, the "to do list" for every room looks something like the above photo. Then, in addition to my "day job" and getting two sons off to different colleges in under a week, I've been learning a few new homeowner skills.

                                                               So, let's not talk about the whole "empty nest" thing, okay?....


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I'm THRILLED to be able to GIVE AWAY not one, but TWO tickets to Creatively Made Home {Home For The Holidays}! When my sweet and amazingly talented friend, Jennifer Rizzo asked me if I'd be interested in hosting a GIVE AWAY, I said, "Are you KIDDING!?!?!?...OF COURSE I WOULD! This course ROCKS!!!"With a line up like this, group of remarkable ladies, I can't wait for the class to start. Now that my sons are safely back in school and my move is nearing completion,
                                                                                           It's time to start planning for the Holidays!!!!On October 15th, Creatively Made Home {Home for the Holidays} will be launching with an amazing group of talented and creative women featuring crafting,recipes and gift giving!

Creatively made home (home for the holdiays) e-course launching October

This incredibly talented group of lovely ladies will help  time us to start making our homes warm and cozy for the seasons and holidays ahead.  You will be able to watch beautiful videos with gift giving ideas, decorating projects and favorite family recipes.  Each woman will share about the times things did not go as planned during their holidays, sometimes funny, and sometimes....well, notsomuch.

Awesome e-course launches October

Each of these ladies will share discussions about their own journey of hospitality.

I know that you will walk away inspired and ready to create your own special celebrations after hearing about the traditions and special moments from their childhood and how they create special moments with their families today.

Jennifer Rizzo Creatively Made Home (Home for the holidays) launches October

For the next two weeks you can get your spot in class for the early registration rate of  $48! After that, it goes up to the regular cost of $58.  If you win a spot, you can give someone else an early gift and have them join you! So,visit Jennifer Rizzo's page to purchase a ticket.   

To enter the give away:  Leave a comment with your favorite thing about the holidays.
For a second chance:  share this on your Facebook page.

Drawing will be NEXT SUNDAY! Good luck!

Grilled Summer Peaches With Toasted Pecans and Maple Syrup Glaze

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Michigan peaches are in season at my local farmer's market and let me just say that, this year, they're amazing! Oh My Gosh! Have you tasted this summer's peaches!? Today, I'm grilling some summer peaches with a little maple syrup glaze...and serving them with toasted pecans.

How To Remove Paint from Vintage Hardware Without Chemicals

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Guess what?! I learned how to remove old paint from vintage hardware without using chemicals! 

Last week, I was feeling pretty good about myself when I posted this photo on the Serendipity Refined Facebook Page:

I had figured out that I could remove old, dried on paint using steel wool. I was feeling pretty good about myself. I thought that I had figured it out. But let me tell you....I didn't! Behind the Purple door wrote a comment that said: "Or just simmer them in water and baking soda."

                                                                                                        and I thought Huh!?  Really??!

I told her that I was going to try it.  But it wasn't exactly hooks that I needed to strip.  It was cold air returns and registers. You see, I'm learning the joys of living in a 60+ year old home...things like having "non-standard" register covers. I found out that I can't just run out to the hardware store and buy nice new ones.

Well, I could but then I'd need to cut all of the baseboard openings in the whole house because the new ones are about half an inch wider than the old ones (even tough the duct work opening  is still the same size.)  Who knew?!

I have a bunch of them. Two (or more)  in every room and they are GROSS!

Covered with years of dirt and grime and strange colors of paint to the point that I had to remove some of them by cutting them with a box cutter first. The guys who came to clean the duct work blew them off with their compressor but I have to admit, it didn't help much.

So, I got out an old enamel canning kettle, dumped in a box of baking soda and filled it up with hot water. I threw in a register...and the plug cover from the dining room. Then, I put them  on the stove to "cook".

I watched the water bubble and turn murky.  After about 20 minutes, I put on some oven mitts and flipped the vent over. Let me just tell you right now that I could not believe my eyes when I saw it!

The paint was literally falling off  of the vents. Honest to Murphy!

Sixty years of paint and grime...gone. Without chemicals! I did a little happy dance...right there in my new kitchen...wearing oven mitts and holding a scraper! I'm pretty sure that  if the neighbors saw it, they're probably wondering what kind of woman moved into the house on the corner.

I used a putty knife and stiff nylon brush to clean them but to tell you the truth, the baking soda and hot water did most of the work.  After they dried, I sprayed them with white satin spray paint. They look almost as good as new. The best part, I used about $5 worth of baking soda and some hot chemicals!

So, there you go! Removing 60 years of old paint using nothing but baking soda and hot water! No nasty chemicals, no cutting the base board in my house and they actually WORK now that they're not painted shut.

Next, I've gotta figure out how to open the windows all of which are currently PAINTED SHUT!

Linking to:
Cedar Hill Ranch
Jennifer Rizzo

Turquoise Painted Wood Exterior Doors

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As I was painting my front door turquoise last Saturday, I found myself thinking of high school English class. Do you remember your first day of high school English class?  You know, the one where, after handing you a five page syllabus with a list of books to be read during the semester, the teacher calmly explained that, at the end of the semester, you would be writing a twenty page, typed (single spaced)  report with properly formatted foot notes and a bibliography?

I remember sitting at my desk, still sunburned from my final day of summer vacation, staring at the neatly typed pages before me, wondering how in the world I'd ever manage to read all of those books and write that huge paper. Heck, I barely knew what a footnote was... and I most assuredly had no clue about proper format.

Just when the lump that had been in my throat was turning into a knot in my stomach,  the teacher explained that when you have a mountain of work ahead of you, it's best to start at the top of the list and, rather to look at everything that needs to be done, to work through the tasks one at a time.

So, beginning last week when we closed on the French Farm Project, rather than looking at the mountain of things that need to be completed and/or repaired, I decided to start at the beginning.  Yep, I started with the front and back doors to the house. These are the doors that we will open and close as we come and go and those which will welcome family and friends.

It seemed only logical that these doors should be the first to get their French Farm House makeover.  I love the doors, especially the front door which has its original brass hardware and brass thresh hold. Our locksmith re-keyed the deadbolt and tightened it up for me. I polished the brass just a little bit with steel wool. I decided to leave it a slightly tarnished because, after all, this house has a history and I'm embracing most of it!

This soft turquoise is the new color for the exterior doors, shutters and garage doors at the French Farm House Project. It's Benjamin Moore Exterior paint in Historic Color HC-138: Covington Blue in a satin finish.

I love every thing about this shade! It's warm... and soft... and just bright enough to give the house a little pop of color without being in your face.  The red brick on the house will be lime-washed in the near future. More on that topic when I do it.

I'll admit, the list of projects at this house is long and there are times that I get just a little overwhelmed, but then I remember English class and I remember that I'm rehabbing this house one project at a time.  It makes me feel a lot better about the fact that I had to start a new page in the notebook yesterday when I added a couple of things to the list.  :)

Up Next: duct work cleaning...and the Kitchen


Finding My Personal Style

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Hi Everyone!
As I've been planning the color scheme and decor for the French Farm House Project, I realized that it is probably a good time to discuss finding my personal style.  I shared this information a few weeks ago over at my friend Pamela's blog but wanted to make sure that I also shared it here as well because I hope that I can inspire you and help you to find your style...the one that's uniquely YOU!

My style is continually evolving and,  for me, it has a lot to do with where I'm at in my life and the people with whom I share my home than it does any one style.  Just after college, my style was certainly much more feminine than it is today.

My current decorating pallet involves several shades of grey, beige and ivory.  This might have something to do with the fact that I live in a home where I'm the only female (unless you happen to count Martha Stewart who has lived with us for the last fourteen years. No, not that Martha...the one who lives in our home has four legs and is a yellow lab.)

It also may have something to do with the fact that I wear those colors as the basic parts of my wardrobe much of the time. One of the things that I've learned over the years is to take color cues from the clothes that I love the most. I found that the colors that I wear most often are those that are easy for me to use when I decorate.

I think that my style is best described as evolving and eclectic. It has strong traditional elements but the pieces in our home range from my great grand parents sofa and chair to a brand new dining room table. I also want you to know that that the evolution of my style hasn't been much about me finding my style as it has been about my style finding me.

Over the years, I've continued to be drawn to the same sorts of things.  Most of them are warm...and comfortable.  They've usually got an interesting shape or a fascinating detail.  Many of them have a story to tell.  I've collected, inherited and roadside rescued much of the furniture that resides in our home.  Very little of it has been purchased new.

I tend to decorate with mainly solid, neutral colored pieces and then allow just a few areas like cushions, draperies, rugs, and pillows have pattern. I studied Art and Design in college and I'm a weaver so, I find that I'm drawn to fabric with interesting textures or soft fibers like chenille.

Details (like a collection of vintage ironstone and a few wooden spoons in painted holder or the hand painted tile back splash) help to make our home feel not so "new".  One or two special details can define an entire room and make it feel like "home".

I like to mix things up. I combine natural wood with painted pieces, different types of counter tops in our kitchen,  hardware on cabinets that doesn't "match".   I found that doing this helps our home feel as if it has been "put together over time" rather than the nine year old "new-ish" home that it actually is.

I like down-wrapped cushions and plenty of throw pillows. I like cozy spaces (like window seats) but I find that I also like rooms with loads of natural light and which are open to each other.  This makes it really easy to entertain everyone from just a couple of people to large groups.

I've discovered that my style has become much more casual now that my sons are nearly grown.  I'm also mixing things up a little more than I used to (like combining my very traditional, formal dining room table and side board with a painted cabinet, the park bench from my yard and a hutch that I built from reclaimed barn wood).

The most important thing that I've discovered  is to allow you style to tell your story...and the story of the people who live in your home.  Surround yourself with things that make you feel comfortable...things that make you smile... and don't worry if they "match".

I'll admit that I'm  a compulsive re-decorator and I'm constantly changing things around. I regularly move pieces from one room to another to keep things interesting (and keep my sons guessing).  Having much of my furniture upholstered in neutral colored fabrics allows me the freedom to do this fairly easily.  

Family pieces will always remain in our home decor but, other items are sold (or donated) to make room for "new" things.  This keeps our home fresh but still allows it to have a sense of "history.

More than anything, I believe that  home should be a place where you feel comfortable. Whether it's a sleek, modern, minimalist apartment in a high rise in the city or a charming country cottage, your home should feel like YOU!

Have fun with decorating. Try different things and, if the result doesn't feel right, change it...try something different! You never know where or when you'll find your style...these days, I'm finding mine at thrift stores and flea markets...and often at the curb! 

As the decor at the French Farm House takes shape, I think that you'll find it slightly different than what you've seen at my current home but the overall feel will still be same: warm and eclectic....with just the right mix of vintage cast offs, pieces that I've restored, and a few new things. 


"Window Treatments" My First 48 Hours at the French Farm Project

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I thought that you may be interested to see the "window treatments" that were included when I took custody possession of the French Farm Project on Wednesday.  

In the kitchen, a 30 foot long piece of fabric (not sewn) draped across the window and held up by nails, twine and rubber bands.  If you look on the right, where the knot or "rosette" was still intact, it probably didn't look bad at some point.  

But when I saw the house, for the first time, It looked like this:

I wonder how long it had been that way.  What I learned:  you don't need to know how to sew and you don't need fancy hardware to make window treatments.  You do, however, need to change your rubber bands and re-tie your twine from time to time.

How about these beauties in the dining room!? Again, just lengths of fabric, artfully draped across the window and knotted  "asymmetrically"??? at the bottom. They used the same rubber bands, twine and wire as were used in the kitchen but this time, they were fastened to a really cool (I'm not kidding) 1950's traverse rod that I'm going to keep if I can remove the 4 layers of paint from it.  

Truly, WHO PAINTS CURTAIN RODS!? I don't get it.  Then there were these beauties in the former "master" bedroom which will become my son's new room.

Um....what can I really say about these?!  They'renot quite the direction that I'm going with my decor...

Lastly, the breezeway which will become the mudroom:

Believe it or not, I saved these.  I'm going to hose the spider webs off of them and make a wreath out of them .

That's it. I spent the first day, removing draperies, tearing out carpet and getting the first coat of paint on the kitchen and back entry hall.

Yesterday, the locksmith came to change the locks, I finished painting the kitchen and started in the dining room. Today, the electrician is coming to figure out why the door bell and the whole house fan don't work and to inspect the wiring so that I can begin to change the outlets from "non-grounded" to "grounded".

This is the "non-glamorous" part of the project. It's long deferred maintenance on the property which is eating  up large chunks my time but needs to be taken care of  so that we'll be safe here.   I hope that you'll stick around because I'll be back to share some pretty things on Monday.

You see, the new owners of 127 purchased my kitchen and breakfast room furniture which meant that I got to go shopping and it's being delivered THIS MORNING!!!!

Have a wonderful weekend.