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Whimsy Press (eco gift wrap)

March 4, 2008

Gift wrap has a wide range of uses that goes far beyond gift giving. You can use it to create tags and labels for canisters and storage boxes (use a craft punch and affix it to card stock so it doesn’t curl), line your drawers, incorporate into your art work, decoupage a pencil holder, flower pot, even wood furniture, frame your favorite pieces as art, lay your favorite pattern beneath a sheet of glass on your desk (alternate it each month with a new print), ideas for it really are endless! Have you shopped Whimsy Press lately for gift wrap? Need motivation? Cupcakes and bird motifs!

Whimsy Press (eco gift wrap)Whimsy Press (eco gift wrap)
They’ve just added some new prints that I spotted on HWTM, their gift wrap sheets are FSC certified paper and contain 30% post consumer fiber so they’re pretty and eco-friendly. Whimsy Press has added new products in addition to their extensive (and beautiful) collection of wrapping paper to include wall art, placemats, stickers, and much more.

Whimsy Press (eco gift wrap) Need some visual inspiration? Use wrapping paper to whip up this project from Martha Stewart, it’s one of my favorites on her site.

(images from whimsy press)

DIY, Objects, Shopping + Products, Travel

Furniture Spruce Up by Turquoise LA

March 4, 2008

Photos and Text by: Vanessa De Vargas, Turquoise LA Interior Design and Showroom.

I thought it would be fun to show off some of my before and afters to all of you here on decor8. Most of these pieces have been completely redone with new lacquer and new upholstery. Most of my inspiration comes from viewing old 1950 and 1960’s Better Homes and Gardens Books and Magazines to see how best I can replicate it from that era.

Furniture Spruce Up by Turquoise LAFurniture Spruce Up by Turquoise LA
The 1930’s side chairs upholstered (above) in red have actually been redone “green”. The chairs are painted with NO VOC paint, and the batting is 100% certified organic cotton, which means no chemicals were used in treating the cotton. The stuffing or foam, is actually recycled denim mostly used for insulation of homes. The upholstery is from the 1960’s which is recycled.

Most of the inventory for my store is painted in black or white, but I have painted items in kelly green or Chinese red, it all depends on what I feel would look the best for the item and what would appeal to my customers.

Furniture Spruce Up by Turquoise LAFurniture Spruce Up by Turquoise LAFurniture Spruce Up by Turquoise LA
I also offer a lacquer service from my store, so if clients bring in a piece I can custom lacquer it to any color from a fan deck and customize it to their liking. My lacquering service runs between $150-$250 for chairs depending on labor. If you are interested in having a piece redone and would like a quote, please send in pictures with the measurements to AT

(images from turquoise la)

DIY, Inspiration, Objects

Locating Gems at Chain Stores

March 3, 2008

So many people love to shop! Whether it’s window shopping for inspiration, stepping inside your favorite boutique to browse for ideas, or you’re on a mission to find that certain something, shopping in its many forms can be lots of fun. Especially when you challenge yourself a little. Whenever I find something that catches my eye, I take a moment to imagine it used in a different way or altered somehow (color, new legs, different hardware, etc.). It makes shopping more of a creative exercise and helps me not to overlook something that has a great deal of potential. Let me give you an example of this.

Let’s shop together at a chain store here in America called Pier 1 Imports, which specializes in imported goods from all over the world that fall into what I’d consider a reasonable price bracket. They have lots of good pieces hitting stores for Spring with good lines and details but as is, not all of them are really my taste. With a dash of creativity and in most cases, a can of paint, each can be customized to fit your style. Let’s get those creative ideas spinning… Come shipping with me!

Locating Gems at Chain StoresLocating Gems at Chain StoresSpring is coming so let’s look at a few inexpensive ideas for the patio and the entryway since most like to freshen up these areas first for the season. All items shown above from Pier 1 are perfect as is, or you can alter them by adding new hardware, paint, or cushions.

If you have a covered porch or patio, try this painted wood table ($299) with coordinating bench seats ($99 each) and add a 5 x 8 braided jute rug ($129) beneath it. String paper lanterns from Asian Ideas over the table (I’d use three max in all one color or pattern, like freckle (my favorite), white eyelet, peonies, provence, or marigold). Add a coordinating fabric runner down the center of the table and use vintage glass bottles or milk glass vases with fresh cut blooms (try daffodils) in each and run about 6 down the center as well. Tie each with a pretty grosgrain ribbon in a solid color. Simple but sweet. Or use potted plants. Dress up the bench if you’re the crafty type by sewing a box cushion with ties on the sides so that you can secure it or use heavy duty velcro strips and place them on the bench and on the bottom of the cushion. Look for indoor/outdoor fabrics, I like the variety over at Calico Corners. The metal chair (sorry no link but available in stores) can be used at the head of the table or you can place it off to the side with a large plant on the seat. Not shown is the outdoor wicker stackable dining chair for $59, another great seating option. Top it with a pretty cushion.

For the entry, the birds and blooms painted chest ($299) OR the beach house bookcase ($179) would be perfect in the entryway for a bright splash of Spring-y color and for a place to rest your keys and store books. I see the bookcase in a guest bedroom also, a great spot for adding reading materials that will make your friends feel right at home.

Locating Gems at Chain StoresLocating Gems at Chain Stores

Now let’s look at a few pieces that could use a little changin’ because as is, I’m not that keen on them.

The Patola Palace Cabinet ($499) – This could use a little age appeal in my opinion. Try sanding it in places to remove some of the paint, then add 3/4 clear glaze and 1/2 teal (to match the base coat on the cabinet) mix the solution and “wash” it over with a sponge to give it an aged, more sun-bleached bohemian look.

Ming Chow bamboo bench ($229) – Lacquer the base in red, black, or white. Top with a patterned cushion. Try a white base with Virginia Johnson fabric or a black base with something by Florence Broadhurt.

The Belclaire Hutch + Wine Cabinet ($349) – It’s cute, but I’d like to give it a different take so I don’t have the same one that everyone else has in their home. Dare to be different, right? Okay so did you happen to see the cover of the March issue of Country Living magazine? There’s a blue and yellow bedroom on it and I just loved their DIY idea for the dresser. They repainted in a sunny yellow. I would like to try their idea only on this Pier 1 cabinet. They used Pratt & Lambert Cherish #11-7 for the base and trimmed out the wood accents in a slightly brighter yellow using Patent Yellow #12-10. You can use your favorite wallpaper pattern and with decoupage medium, add some pattern to our pier 1 cabinet on the doors and side inserts, or you can simply paint the doors, legs, and top in Patent Yellow and paint the rest in Cherish and then wallpaper the inside. Add your favorite hardware from Anthropologie. (For a dresser much like the one in the cover of Country Home, try the 3-drawer Simple Shabby Chic chest on sale now at Target for $187)

Locating Gems at Chain Stores
Hana ($279) + Kiona ($179) floor screens – These have so many different uses other than the obvious, of course there’s nothing wrong with using them as actual dividers but I’m thinking that they need some paint. Okay first idea: measure your window. If it fits, remove one panel, use only two. Remove all hinges. Paint white. Window shutters indoors! Or flip on its side, remove feet (saw off, sand, paint), paint the screen in your favorite color, line with solid fabric pulled tightly across the back. Fasten to wall and use as a headboard. Or stand upright, paint in your favorite color, flatten against wall and screw in to secure, and use it behind your bed to make a statement. See also the plantation shutter screen ($279).

Locating Gems at Chain StoresThese pieces are fine as is, but you can always paint the farmhouse table ($299) white or pale grey after you’ve hammered, sanded, and using a chain, take out your anger on it in a few places to add some age. :) I prefer it in natural though. That little stool has a very industrial look to it, I like it as is. Stools can be used all over the house and are great as tables too. The Pier 1 iron tulip end table ($129) is more rustic than your average white one, another good piece as is. You don’t have to alter everything.

Locating Gems at Chain Stores I’d like to try my hand at painting these pieces, they all would look great in so many different colors.

First up, the Beckley Bay rattan bed ($399-599) — I really like this for a guest bedroom in white, but also imagine it lacquered in black, yellow, or kelly green. In white, it would be nice dressed with bedding sporting a bold cane motif, like Lulu DK’s Madison bedding. I can see it with the Miranda duvet and bedskirt, or in anything from John Robshaw.

Locating Gems at Chain Stores
Try making your own drapes and duvets with fabric from Calico Corners, their new Boca Raton collection (shown above) for Spring would go nicely with the rattan bed in white.

The butterfly writing desk ($229) would be perfect for a bedroom, bold red makes this a great accent piece. I may paint it a solid color though, I’m sure she what I think of the butterfly motif. I like the idea of doing something fun with the legs, painting rings of white or yellow against the red. It would also look nice in black and on top, display vintage photos and have a piece of glass cut to fit. I can’t tell whether the top opens or not so I’d have to see it in person to decide on the glass or not.

The decorative boxes ($99) would be fun at the foot of the bed or use as side or coffee tables. The Pagoda 4-tier shelf ($98) is perfect for the bathroom for storage (towels, soaps), in the living room (books, ceramics), kitchen (nesting bowls, cookbooks), or in the bedroom (flanking a bed or desk). Paint it in any color you like, it’s a very versatile piece that never seems to go out of style.

I hope you had fun shopping Pier 1 with me and that this post inspired you to shop with a more creative eye if you already don’t. Thank you for hanging out with me, do you have any favorite pieces from those shown above? I really like the table with matching benches the best, I’d love to use this on a porch – except I don’t have one so the Ming Chow bamboo bench would be my second choice.

(images from pier 1 imports)


Howcast {diy videos}

February 22, 2008

I heard from Howcast today and after spending time on their website watching a bunch of diy videos, I thought you may really dig it. I love a good how-to video and see this as the next big thing on the web for all the design addicts out there – professional videos showing us how to do really cool things that design blog followers would actually want to make. Some of the videos out there are really boring and the projects are quite dreadful, but Howcast seems to have lots of videos that are very informative and well produced.

Howcast {diy videos}Here’s a shot from How To Re Cover A Lamp Shade by the
Home Refiner. How cute is this wallpaper?

Some of my personal picks from Howcast: All of Elfya’s videos, aka the Home Refiner. She’s not only real cute and wears great clothes, but the laundry/craft space where the videos are shot are so Blueprint magazine. Love it. Elfya is a New York-based Interior Designer with her own website so you’re dealing with a pro here. Then there’s The FlowerGod – this guy really knows how to arrange flowers. How To Understand a Work Of Art,, How To Pretend You?re a Real New Yorker, How to Blog Using WordPress (helpful stuff), even videos on wardrobe styling from Ford Models. re both pretty good too. I can’t wait to watch Howcast grow – I’d love to see some more professional how-to videos on the web like these!

Psst: Boston locals, don’t miss the Garden Girl over in Roxbury. What an inspiration this lady is!

Want to link up with me on Howcast? Here’s my page if you’d like to add me as your friend or share some of your videos with me. :)

(image from howcast)

DIY, Objects

Fun Fabric Idea

January 30, 2008

Want to take fabric (or pretty paper) and give it a whole new purpose? How about applying it to the front of a dresser as shown here in 101 woonideeen magazine date November ’07? I’ve had this on my inspiration board for a few months, I’m dying to pick up a piece like this and experiment with some fabric and spray adhesive.

Fun Fabric Idea
I’d also like to try cutting out floral patterns from fabric, stitching the edges, and doing some furniture applique work… Maybe apply a floral cutout up the side of a cabinet in an entryway for instance. Imagine painting a dresser like the one shown above in red lacquer or teal and then up one side, apply a large floral motif cut from fabric? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Maybe only to me because I’m a little left of center sometimes, but I think it would look great.

I’d like to start collecting issues of 101 woonideeen but cannot find them in the states. It’s the best magazine ever, and I do mean ever. Even better than Livingetc and Elle Decoration because the things featured are so attainable, it’s packed with DIY projects that don’t involve Chex cereal boxes, pipe cleaners, or tin cans but really chic things that give you a chance to put on your pink toolbelt and have some fun. I wish we had a magazine just like it here – we really need something like this. Badly.

(image from 101 woonideeen.)


Memories Contained {diy}

December 17, 2007

This is one of those projects that do not require instructions, you just need a jar and a photo. How’s that for simplicity and budget-friendly? Here I’ve used two jars, one vintage and one new, to 1) display my favorite photo and 2) for showing my quote of the month, usually torn from the pages of Real Simple or from a card, along these lines.

Memories Contained {diy}
I like the idea of a quote jar because I can add new ones as I please and have the vessel for also adding all of the movie tickets and fortune cookie messages that my husband and I have saved since our first date. I can’t take credit for the ‘jar as display’ idea though, I found it via Australian glossy Inside Out, given to me by one of their writers (thank you!). But I can take credit for the quote jar, that’s entirely my own but you are welcome to try it for yourself. :) Simple but cute.

Memories Contained {diy} This is my favorite photo from our family collection of vintage shots, although I never say vintage around my mom. :) This photo is from the 1950’s, of my mother (in the front) with her mom and sister behind her. This was snapped on their family farm where she grew up and I think everything about it is just too cute, especially the pom-pom ties on her coat and the little white socks. Even the car in the background. Sweet.

Memories Contained {diy} And I love seeing my grandmother this young and happy. Her name is Millie and she relocated to a New England farm in her late 20’s from Wicker Park Chicago. She was always so stylish, must be the city girl in her, I remember her wearing heels around the house, even to the grocery store. Heck, even now at 87 she still gets her hair done up and insists on wearing red lipstick and clip-on earrings. But you see, these little memories contained here in a simple jar mean little to you but so much much to me. Now it’s your turn to find a jar and place something inside that you love. Since I’m really tired of traditional picture frames crowded around on tables, this arrangement works for me. I hope you like it too.

(images from holly becker for decor8)