Chalk Painted Mason Jar with Paper Flag Banner

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As I'm writing this post, I'm wondering to myself whether or not anyone will actually read it.  After all, there have been hundreds of posts about painted Mason Ball jars over the last couple of years. Chalk paint, milk paint, spray paint. Yes, I realize that pretty much everyone has already painted mason jars and used them for parties...and pencil holders but you know me, I don't like to rush into things.

French Farmhouse Update: Livingroom (Diningroom) Demolition

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I've been really scared excited to see what was behind the wall in the living room (which will be the dining room when Phase 2 is complete so I'm just going to call it the dining room from now on, okay?...Trust me, it will be easier because the current dining room is going to be the master bedroom.)

As I was saying, I couldn't wait to see what was back there for several reasons:  First, it was pretty apparent to anyone with even marginal eyesight that the inside of the cabinet had been hacked up by someone and it was probably because of the kitchen "renovation" that happened within the last five years.

Second, when we attempted to attach the mounting bracket for our television to the paneling last fall, we quickly discovered that the studs had been randomly cut off and didn't go all the way to the ceiling...odd...but maybe there was a reason.

Third, I'm looking forward to having all of the outlets on the same breakers and having the switch on the wall control something in the room...currently, it appears to control nothing...unless it's the lights in the garage on the other side of the house...that's always a possibility.

Last but certainly not the least of my curiosities was why the ceiling height in most of the house is 8 feet 4.5 inches.  I know, right?!   I've been perplexed for awhile but I had decided that whatever the reason was, it also likely had something to do with why the fireplace hearth was 3/4 of an inch below the flooring.

On Monday and Tuesday, all of those questions were answered when we finally removed the last of the maple paneling along the fireplace wall in the new dining room.  The inside of that wall was a hodge podge of framing, plywood and, in some places, just drywall (with no studs) that was apparently re-muddled during a kitchen renovation that I can only assume by the quality (Yep, that's sarcasm) of the workmanship, was done without a permit. On the other side of the wall is my current kitchen. That mess was holding up my kitchen cabinets.

Fortunately, when the ice maker sprung a leak this winter (causing it to rain in my basement at 6 in the morning), I uncovered long term damage to the floor and the wall so it was going to have to be taken out anyway but yesterday I became fully aware of just how thankful I am that the kitchen is being redone during Phase 2. Black mold on the wall and the first layer of flooring.

I also found out that the reason for the odd ceiling height is that there are four layers of flooring which I am removing to the original underlayment and "sleepers" and over which I will be installing one layer of hardwood . The new ceiling height will be 8 feet 6 inches!

There's still a long way to go but these are steps in the right direction. As of Tuesday afternoon, the framing is complete.  Up next:  new wiring and electric in this room then drywall (these will be done by the pros). Then, I'm going to learn how to install the new hardwood floor (at least that's the plan as of today)!

The fireplace mantel and hearth will be handled by the pros. Due to the condition of the brick and the fact that there was no way to get electrical into the wall, I decided that it was best to cover the brick and have a limestone surround made (even though it broke my heart). Window replacement will also be done prodessionally. Finally, I'll be installing crown molding and trim and doing the painting.

Please keep in mind that none of this will happen over night as I still have a full time job and a family (as well as some new retail adventures that you can read about HERE).  I'm DIY'ing  this project on nights and weekends as time permits.

Thanks so much for joining me on this journey. Your support and kind words get me through the crazy parts of this renovation and if I can help even one of you to avoid making the types of mistakes that the prior owners made in this house or to correct mistakes when you uncover them, then all of this is worthwhile.


Spring Flower Basket Easter Table Centerpiece

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Good morning, sweet friends and happy Saturday! Both of my sons are home from college for a 48 hour whirlwind Easter weekend! I'm busy packing up for a trip to my parents' house to celebrate Easter with my extended family today.  Since my mom and sister are doing all of the cooking this year,  (yes, my oven is still acting wonky) I decided to make an Easter basket table centerpiece using spring flowers.

Retail Store Display Staging and An Announcement

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Over the last several years, I've had the opportunity to extend my staging services beyond residential and into the market and retail environments. I've had the pleasure of fluffing staging at Nellie's Barn Sale and The Vintage Market. I even did a  little retail display work at my friend Nancy's shop, Twigs and Twine, in Capron when they opened a couple of years ago..

During this time, I learned that I love creating vignettes to display the things that a vendor or store  has for sale. Multiply that by about a million when the store sells painted furniture, vintage and repurposed items and handmade items from local vendors and throw in even more love when my own home is undergoing renovation and the only "staging" going on involves stacking cardboard boxes in every room in the house.

When  my friends, Erin and Kelly opened their store, Vintage-Fresh in downtown Downers Grove early this year, it was pretty much given that I'd love to shop at their store. What I didn't expect was that I'd get along with them so well that they'd allow me to moonlight creating window displays and doing a little store staging.                   
                                                                 But, they did and I love it!

Over the last week or so, we've been chatting and  I've been at the store... playing with vintage linens and lace, crystal, milk glass, ironstone (of course) and all sorts of other vintage and hand made items that make the hours fly by and my heart smile.

I've had so much fun hanging out with Erin and Kelly that I also knew pretty quickly that I wanted to be a part of their fabulous store in whatever way I could (while still renovating the farmhouse and having a family and a full time job).

So, as of April 15th (yesterday), you can now find Serendipity Refined embroidered vintage style dish towels, handmade pillows and buntings at Vintage Fresh with more items added as the opportunity arises

                                                          You'll see them in the window....

                                         and you'll find them tucked into displays around the store.

Of course, I'll still be blogging and writing tutorials (and I'll be hosting my vintage household surplus sale if it ever stops snowing) but now, I'll also have a place to sell some of the things that I create.

Besides being great fun, I also have to believe that selling a few of the things that I create will make life infinitely easier as we embark upon life in about 200 square feet of living area with a dog while the major portion of Phase 2 happens this summer). 

For those of you who aren't local, I am  accepting custom orders for towels, pillows, aprons and buntings and am in the process of setting up an online store. If you have an urgent need, message me and we'll work something out.

I hope that if you're in the south Chicago 'burbs, you'll stop by Vintage-Fresh. There are loads of fabulous ideas for weddings, showers and you'll find end of year teacher's gifts as well as Graduation and Mothers Day ideas! In coming weeks,

I'll also be announcing a couple of workshops that I'll be teaching at the store as well as a very important announcement involving painted furniture classes and PAINT!

There are lots of changes on the horizon here at Serendipity Refined/A French Farmhouse and I'm forever grateful to each of you for being here to share them!


DIY Canvas Name Sign Nursery Wall Art

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I've finally reached my favorite part of having babies. It's the part where other people stay up all night with them and do all of the work while I just paint cute name signs for their nursery walls.  Don't get me wrong, I love babies.

Brightly Colored Spring Urn Planter Decor

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Sometimes, I can't help myself.  There are days when I have the urge to decorate and when I've got nothing to do at home, I fulfill the need by decorating  for other people..even when they don't expect it.  On Saturday night, these urn planters in front of my friends' store, Vintage Fresh, got a spontaneous spring decor makeover courtesy of temperatures in the upper 50's coupled with my sudden urge for a little spring and the fact that the center of my own urn at home is still frozen solid.

There were cute little evergreen trees in the centers of them which had fallen victim to our really harsh winter this year so they'll need to be replaced when local nurseries get their stock but for now, they made a fine base for the addition of  a few spring flowers from Hobby Lobby, a little tulle, and a few plaid bows.

Someone had already added cute little Easter stakes and a few eggs so I used them as well.  All of the flowers that are in these pots are silk because that's what was available at 6:30 on Saturday evening when the urge struck....

All I really wanted was to create something bright and cheery to surprise my friends when they arrived on Sunday morning to open their doors for Downers Grove's first ever Bridal Walk and to fill the urns for the next few weeks until warmer weather arrives and we can plant them for summer!

If you have urn planters that need a little pick me up, consider adding brightly colored netting, and bows along with a few flowers (faux or real) to create a sunny spring welcome at your door.  And if you live near me, be warned...if I have a few hours, this could happen to you!

Landscape Demolition Sunday

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 Last Sunday, the temperature  in the Chicago 'burbs hit sixty degrees for the first time this year which could only mean one's finally "chainsaw season" here  at the farmhouse.  The quotes that I got for cutting down the foundation plantings around the the house were averaging $1,000 or more so I decided that this was one of the items on the Phase 2 Construction "to do" list that I could tackle myself.